An Analysis of Three Girls

“A sex symbol’s currency lies in her youth, her curves, in the suggestion that a sexual encounter lurks around the next corner.” (Sharon Krum, The Guardian) The power struggle between genders in society is something that can be seen every day, particularly in the media. The importance of female celebrities to stay in the spotlight based on their appearance and sex appeal is a clear example of the imbalance between the genders, and their roles in society. Three Girls by Joyce Carol Oates is a story about a lesbian couple, and their observation of the behavior of a disguised Marilyn Monroe who, surprisingly to the narrator and her companion, wants to be seen as nothing more than a common person. During the progression of the story, the author provides perspective on the gender roles women faced in 1956 New York, and gives the reader insight into the thoughts and reservations of a lesbian couple in this time period. Through both implicit and explicit expression, Oates implements feminist and marxist ideas of power struggle into Three Girls in order to establish themes of imbalance and subordination by women in society.

Feminist ideas are used throughout this story in both explicit and implicit ways to help describe the gender roles placed upon females, particularly celebrities, in the 1950s. “That figure was a garish blond showgirl, a Hollywood ‘sexpot’ of no interest to intellectuals”. (Page 79) The author explicitly includes the narrator’s description of Marilyn Monroe to explain her status in society, and to elaborate on Marilyn’s significance in Hollywood. This description also establishes Marilyn Monroe as a foil to the main characters. Though Marilyn Monroe was seen as a massive sex symbol during the 1950s, and was well-known for her beauty and allure to men, “no one ever gave her credit for who she was” (Nancy Friday, The Guardian). Marilyn received attention for her appearance and alluring traits rather than her actual accomplishments in her life, and the struggles she endured to establish her career. These quotes implicitly emphasize the idea that Marilyn, even as an established film star, is assumed to be little more than sex appeal to men in a patriarchal society. This is significant, as it allows the author to portray the imbalance between genders in society, and that Marilyn, as a woman, was subject to the principles and decisions of men.

Marxists ideas are used throughout this story in both implicit and explicit ways in order to portray the power imbalances between genders in society. The quote “We dreaded her being recognized by a (male) customer or a (male) clerk” (Page 80) explicitly establishes the influence that the males in the bookstore have over the main characters’ actions. They are fearful of what may happen if Marilyn’s true identity is discovered, which causes them to act with caution to prevent that outcome, influencing their behavior to be subordinate to that of the men in the store. As Marilyn and the main characters are approaching the male cashier, “Marilyn Monroe seemed for the first time to falter. She fumbled to extract out of her shoulder bag a pair of dark glasses and managed to put them on”. (Page 82) These quotes emphasize the fear that the women felt in the male-dominant bookstore. Implicitly, this situation acts as a symbol for women in a male-dominant society. Marilyn is breaking out of her gender role as a sex object that entertains the desires of men, and is fearful that she will be condemned and exposed for doing so. Marilyn, as someone that grew up “through a series of foster homes” and was “sexually abused” as a child (Nia, My Hero Project) had been in a position subordinate to men her entire life, whether it be her own family or strangers that she was subject to abuse from. She had been seen as an object for sex the majority of her life, and was put into a position beneath those that had that dominant power over her. This, along with the idea that a woman’s role in society in the 1950s was subordinate to that of a man’s help elaborate on the Marxist ideas of dominance and power of the male gender over female gender during this time period. This idea of male dominance contributes to the overall theme of imbalance and subordination by women in society.

The central theme that the story Three Girls is written upon is the imbalance of power between gender roles in 1950s american society. Along with the subordination by women towards men, this imbalance is portrayed by the author using both explicit and implicit methods of implementing feminist and Marxist ideas. With the use of Marilyn Monroe, the story aids in emphasizing the main reasons why feminism was established in the United States, and uses Marilyn’s struggle of inferiority to men in order to create a message about the impact of such strict gender roles on one’s life. “Feminists say..[don’t] allow the world to turn you into a sex object. Make something of your lives. Become somebody.”

Works Cited:

Oates, Joyce. “Three Girls.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Eighth ed.Meyer, Michael. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. 77 – 83. Print.

Krum, Sharon. “Happy Birthday, Marilyn.” The Guardian, 29 May 2001. Web. 1 Nov. 2015.

Nia. “The My Hero Project – Marilyn Monroe.” My Hero Project. 3 Aug. 2005. Web. 1 Nov. 2015.

Aspects of Matheson’s Monsters: Vampirism and Science Fiction in ‘I Am Legend’

Richard Matheson’s novel, I Am Legend, displays a great deal of horror, presented in a magnificent way. Matheson includes realistic, believable details in plot to give the reader a more realistic feeling towards the vampires. Robert Neville, the antagonist of the story, reveals scientific facts about the vampires that cause the reader to believe that a vampire apocalypse could actually happen. Matheson does not use the stereotypical way of writing about vampires, instead he uses a more science fiction approach. The vampires have more human characteristics, taking away the “monster” attitude towards them and giving the reader something else to fear; themselves.

Matheson provides plenty of horror aspects to the plot, all of which have a logical, clear explanation to them. In the end of the book, Neville realizes that the vampires are not the ones to be feared anymore, because they are the odd ones out; he is. “I Am Legend” gives off such a horrific impression, because Matheson gives the reader a perfect balance of science fiction and realistic horror. The author gives very convincing, scientific details about the vampires in order to provide a realistic explanation for them. On page 75 of I Am Legend, Matheson gives a scientific approach to the vampires. He states “By checking in one of the bacteriology texts, he’d found that the cylindrical bacterium he saw was a bacillus, a tiny rod of protoplasm that moved itself through the blood by means of tiny threads that projected through the cell envelope”. Throughout the story, Robert Neville is desperately searching for an answer as to why the vampires turned into vampires. Knowing that there is a virus that causes this, gives the reader a reason to believe that this could possibly happen in reality. This also makes the vampires seem scarier because they are “infected” or have a disease that there is no known cure for. Page 76 states “the murderer – the germ within the vampire”. Matheson is identifying this germ, the result of his scientific research, as the murderer itself.

Using scientific evidence to prove the level of horror on the vampires is a superb way of writing because the reader feels as though it is actually existent. Matheson assigns very human-like characteristics to the vampires which cancels out multiple stereotypical ideas of vampires. On page 17 of I Am Legend, Neville is reading “Dracula”, a popular fictitious book about vampires. Neville states “the book was a hodgepodge of superstitions and soap-opera clichés” because the vampires are actually more terrifying than Dracula explains. In chapter 12 of “Dracula”, the author states “there was no need to think them dead, for their stertorous breathing and the acrid smell of laudanum in the room left no doubt as to their condition”. The stereotypical trait of vampires is that they are “undead”, like infected carcasses with no human-like thought processes or anything. I Am Legend provides explanation of a pill, that actually prevents the “alive” vampires from fully dying. One of the alive vampires writes a letter to Neville stating that “it was the discovery of this pill that saved us from dying, that is helping to set up a society again slowly” (144). Throughout the entire plot, Neville is struggling for his survival, yet in the end he ends up killing himself; this irony is an extremely horrifying aspect. In one specific scene, the vampires tried to call him out of his house and he thought to himself “Bastards! I’ll kill every mother’s son of you before I give in!” (19). His great refusal to give in to the vampires was completely in vain. This is horrifyingly relatable to the readers because oftentimes what we fear is our hard works being in vain. Neville ends up taking his own life, right before the vampires were just about to do it. The novel states “he turned and leaned against the wall while he swallowed the pills. Full circle. A new terror born in death” (159). It seems as though he did give in to the enemy, by doing their “dirty work” for them. Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of Matheson’s novel is the point in the plot when Neville realizes the vampires are not the ones to fear anymore; he is.

At the beginning of the plague, the humans were terrified of the vampires because they were the abnormal ones, and they had very limited knowledge of them. Neville states “and suddenly he thought, I’m the abnormal one now. Normalcy was a majority concept, the standard of many and not the standard of just one man” (159). Matheson uses the overtaking of the human race to illustrate that the true thing to be afraid of is not what we have a full knowledge of, but what we do not understand. While looking out amongst the crowd of vampires, Neville realized that he was the one to fear now because he was the misunderstood one. The thing that we fear the most, is having a lack of knowledge about what is happening around us. The reader can relate to this aspect the best, because it is in all human nature to fear what we do not understand. This is applicable to not only the “vampire”, or “monster” concept, but to anything that we, as humans, cannot comprehend. Neville goes on to state “abruptly that realization joined with what he saw on their faces – awe, fear, shrinking horror – and he knew that they were afraid of him. To them he was some terrible scourge they had never seen, a scourge even worse than the disease they had come to live with” (159). Matheson does an excellent job of displaying horror by changing what is to be feared in this novel. When Neville becomes the “odd” one, he is suddenly the one to be feared.

Richard Matheson’s novel is truly magnificent, because he provides the reader with so many realistic details and scientific “facts” to prove his horror theories to be true. He assigns man human-like traits to the vampires, to make them relate more to the reader. Matheson not only displays horror, but gives his own definition of horror; one that is extremely relatable to the reader. Neville ends up giving in to the vampires’ true wish; to have him killed. The entire novel was about him fighting to survive and possibly recreate the human race, but all of his efforts were in vain. The author digs into the true fears of humans, which provides the readers with a very realistic aspect of horror.

Works Cited

Matheson, Richard. I Am Legend. New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 2007. Print. Stoker, Bram, and Tudor Humphries. Dracula. New York: DK Pub., 1997. Print.

The Challenge of Survival in The Road and I Am Legend

When exploring the challenges and toils of survival, we can easily make a series of comparisons between the design of Francis Lawrence’s and Cormac McCarthy’s post apocalyptic worlds in I Am Legend and The Road, respectively. Both plots involve the main character as one of very few people left in this world, and each protagonist would do anything to protect his companions. While both Lawrence’s film and McCarthy’s novel build internal conflicts within the main character, Robert, the protagonist in I Am Legend, also has to deal with the Zombies, whereas The Man faces his conflict of world around him. This difference is highlighted in the building of each of the characters, with Lawrence’s survivalist being strong and well prepared from any threat. McCarthy chooses to introduce The Man in a weak, dying state, with minimal supplies to share between himself and his son. This contrast however is also representative of the difference in setting between the two stories, with Robert Neville fortifying himself within an abundantly stocked New York City, and The Man and his son wandering down long stretches of barren highway. The final main contrast exists in each storyteller’s interpretation of the meaning behind a gun, with Lawrence using a gun for killing; meanwhile, to McCarthy, the gun is symbolic of hope.

Lawrence first characterises Robert Neville with mise-en-scene by using an overhead shot of his car driving through the city, directly following a series of establishing shots showing the abandoned cityscape. As the audience see him speeding through the abandoned cityscape, the sound of the powerful engine fades in. Finally the audience see a medium shot of him in the car, allowing the audience to see him as a survival hardened man complete with jeans, combat boots, leather jacket and assault rifle by his side. Lawrence’s treatment makes the viewers believe that Robert is a man who is well equipped. This depiction results in the audience’s initial impression being that he is a strong, admirable and supposedly unbreakable character. Lawrence’s use of mise-en-scene, particularly costuming and props, conveys this message to the audience. The audience see the well worn leather jacket, and the strong, bright, high-key and natural lighting. Such visuals are paired with the bright red muscle car, heavily contrasting with the bleakness of the city. Shots are routinely shot from a low angle when Robert is in frame, giving the sense of power and control radiating from him. The shots are also generally still and stable, either statically placed on Robert or tracking his car as he slides it through the streets. Once again highlighting the supposed control and purposefulness that Lawrence suggests is needed to last with the challenges of survival. Alternatively, McCarthy develops a protagonist that is described as weak, sick, and ultimately set to die; creating the dark, depressed theme that resonates throughout the novel. First indications come from the imagery presented as a bloody cough from The Man, who has been carrying a huge load as well as pushing the trolley up a mountain side for the sake of his own son getting to see the beachside. As a result, the reader feels highly sympathetic for The Man, who is obviously not equipped to take on the challenges of survival as effectively as Robert is.

I Am Legend features establishing shots of New York City which is normally a busy, highly populated city covered in concrete. However, Lawrence’s city shows green growth intertwined between all the dense skyscraper buildings. This shot then follows with shots of cars rusting away and with plants growing through them, littered through the middle of the street. This visual in turn causes the audience to instantly recognise the fact that the city has been abandoned for some time and that the occupants have left in a chaotic manner. The final shot in the initial establishing shot collection is an overhead of a single red car driving through the city, weaving between the trashed cars. This is a powerful shot used by Lawrence, not only in building audience interest but also in the development of this central survival theme. It clearly highlights just how alone the driver of the vehicle is, in a city that is normally overflowing with people. Opposing this landscape is McCarthy’s barren, empty and unpopulated land that peels off from either side of the highway. Throughout the novel there are only a few times to stock up the minimal supplies they have on them via the service centres and small towns that are placed off to the sides of the highway, “..stood in the road and glassed the plain down there where the shape of a city stood in the grayness…”, They have no car, no military backpacks or gear and they have no quick way to move about or escape – serving to make survival more challenging. This contrast is reflective of the the conflict that each character faces with Robert facing other whereas The Man faces the environment around him.

Moreover, both McCarthy and Lawrence use the recurring symbol of the gun. Lawrence shows guns as being something to be on the offensive with, means of war and mass killing, as highlighted in both the actions of the protagonist as well as the weapons themselves. Robert has cupboards full of automatic, high powered weapons and powerful explosives which he uses to fuel war, with the hunting and slaughter of zombies that he comes across. Conversely, McCarthy makes note that The Man has only a pistol with two bullets in it, representative of desperate hope; one is for him and one is for his son. The gun is therefore seen as being something for defensiveness, ad it represents hope for them because when the bullets are gone, it is all over for The Man and his child.

Despite differences in medium, both McCarthy and Lawrence effectively demonstrate and explore the challenges and toils of survival in a post apocalyptic world by using very similar techniques. For example, the symbolism of a simple gun, the carefully designed characterisation, and role of the setting are crucial to both narratives. While still creating contrasts between the way the survivalist go about surviving, The Road and I Am Legend show how men in desperate situations are not above caring and protecting those around them.

The Psychology of Conversion

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is, if nothing else, a record of the psychological journeys of Stephen Dedalus as he progresses from child to adult, unlearned rural boy to intellectual student, sinner to saint to artist. Stephen’s level of devotion and intensity, regardless of the object of these feelings, seems to increase following each transformation, culminating in his “desire to press in my arms the loveliness which has not yet come into the world” (273). William James, the early 20th Century American psychologist, examined real-life experiences similar to those of Stephen Dedalus conversions, religious transformations, saintliness in his classic book on the psychology of religion, The Varieties of Religious Experience. James provides insight into Stephen’s motivations, approaches, and actions by using philosophy and psychology to analyze religion, especially Christianity, and its effect on the human psyche. Of particular interest are James’s discussion of conversions, especially when viewed in the light of Stephen’s move from the depths of sin to the height of fanatical asceticism, following by his full embracing of art and beauty as the true object of his desire. A careful analysis of James’s works will illustrate whether Stephen’s religious awakening was a true spiritual experience or simply a response to the pressures of his environment.From an early age, Stephen Dedalus shows a strong devotion to systems or orders that are imposed from without, be it by family, church, or country. As he grows older, Stephen begins to shed these constricting social bonds one at a time, undergoing a number of conversions that change his direction in life, of which the most important are his sudden change into a fanatically religious ascetic and his final transformation into the Artist. Stephen’s religious epiphany occurs after hearing a lecture on hell from Father Arnall at the University’s retreat honoring St. Francis Xavier. Realizing that his soul is “festering in sin,” Stephen turns to God, and weeps “for the innocence he had lost” (150). After confessing each and every last sin, Stephen finally feels the weight of guilt lifted from his shoulders and rededicates his life to God. He becomes a strict ascetic, denying himself any pleasures of the flesh or mind and constantly praying. However, after being asked to become a priest, Stephen discovers that his true goal in life is Art, and deserts his ascetic and religious lifestyle.William James undertakes to study the extraordinary phenomenon of conversion, “by which a self hitherto divided, and consciously wrong inferior and unhappy, becomes unified and consciously right superior and happy, in consequence of its firmer hold upon religious realities” (Lecture Nine). He relates the studies of Professor Starbuck of Stanford, who undertook a statistical analysis to determine the causes of conversion. Starbuck concludes that, “Conversion is in its essence a normal adolescent phenomenon, incidental to the passage from the child’s small universe to the wider intellectual and spiritual life of maturity” (Lecture Nine), adding that the normal age for such experiences ranges from fourteen to seventeen. Commonplace in these conversions are sense of incompleteness and imperfection; brooding, depression, morbid introspection, and sense of sin; anxiety about the hereafter; distress over doubts, and the like.James then writes of Professor Leuba, who focuses on the moral aspect of conversion rather than the theological. Religion, Leuba states, is merely a word that has come to mean the “conglomerate of desires and emotions springing from the sense of sin and its release,” that is, a man’s religion has no effect on his spiritual conversions. He uses several cases of the conversions of drunkards that were obviously not doctrinal, simply situations in which one has an absolute need of help from God and receives it. This moment of salvation need not be connected to an institutional religion to be valid.So, how do these theories provide insight into Stephen’s conversions? His first conversion, into a devout Catholic, fits neatly with the theories of Starbuck. Stephen is 16, falling in the range of 14 to 17. While sinning, Stephen is aware of his wrongdoing “He had sinned mortally not once but many times and he knew that, while he stood in danger of eternal damnation for the first sin alone, by every succeeding sin he multiplied his guilt and his punishment” (110), showing a recognition of sin, and doubt of the hereafter. “A cold lucid indifference reigned in his soul” (110), as Stephen undergoes periods of brooding, depression and morbid introspection. Starbuck remarks that the results in every adolescent conversion are the same, a happy relief and objectivity, and following his sudden conversion, Stephen exclaims, “Another life! A life of grace and virtue and happiness!…the past was past” (158). Seeing Stephen’s conversion adhering almost exactly to Starbuck’s previous experiences, it seems natural that Starbuck’s conclusion, that is, conversion is a normal adolescent phenomenon that may or may not have long-term effects, applies to Stephen’s situation as well, and this is supported by Stephen’s later behavior.Stephen’s second conversion, from devout ascetic to passionate artist, takes place after he is offered a place in the order. Stephen has a vision of “a winged form flying above the waves” and realizes that his future lies not with the Church, but in his ability to create from within himself. This conversion follows more closely with the theories of Leuba than those of Starbuck. Stephen’s first conversion, to ascetic Catholic, is almost entirely driven by a sense of sin, corresponding to Leuba’s “feeling of unwholeness.” Leuba considers these types of conversions invalid, as they are driven by a sense of doctrinarian and control by the church, whereas true conversions are free of such “doctrinal theology.” Stephen’s conversion to artist is completely free of church influence, driven solely by his innermost feelings and desires. At the moment that he needs guidance from God the most, he is overcome by a feeling of ecstasy that leads him to his true fate “to “create proudly out of the freedom and power of his soul, as the great artificer whose name he bore” (184). Leuba states that a conversion “starts with the absolute need of a higher helper, and ends with the sense that he has helped us,” succinctly describing Stephen’s experience. This conversion, unlike his last, is truly driven by Stephen’s true feelings and desires.The final differences in the two conversions lie in their origin, or type. Following his writings on Starbuck and Leuba, James discusses the two different types of conversion: Volitional, in which the convert actively seeks to change, and Self-surrender, in which the change comes into effect in and of itself. While both types of conversion are valid, James finds Self-surrender to be more effective in the long term, because Volitional conversion emphasizes the “imperfect self,” while Self-surrender conversion is lead by the subliminal forces of the “better self in posse.”While visiting the prostitutes, Stephen is aware of the depths of sin he had fallen in to, and the destructive effect his constant sinning is having on his life. When he hears the topic for the retreat, “Stephen’s heart had withered up like a flower of the desert that feels the simoom coming from afar” (116). Following the lectures, he goes to his room, prays to God for forgiveness, and goes to confession. In other words, he actively seeks to change his life, which shows the Volitional nature of his religious conversion. In contrast, Stephen is content with his life as he enters his second conversion. He is simply strolling along a beach, contemplating life, when the ecstatic vision of the “winged creature” comes upon him and changes the course of his life. This artistic transformation was in the realm of Self-surrender, because the circumstances of the conversion were beyond Stephen’s control.As a doctrinal-based, Volitional conversion, Stephen’s change into a devout and ascetic Catholic was bound to falter, as most adolescent conversions do. His second conversion, however, has a greater chance of truly changing Stephen’s life because it is solely based his subconscious desires, his “better self.” This dedication to art is revealed in Stephen’s next to last diary entry, as he writes, “Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race” (276). Stephen has realized that to truly experience life he must embrace the desires of his “better self” by casting off all the constraints forced upon him by society and himself.

Julius Caesar Literary Analysis

In William Shakespeare’s tragic play Julius Caesar, the contrast between honor and power in a leadership position is presented as many individuals work to better Rome with their own ideals of national glory. Brutus and his followers pursue the idea that Julius Caesar was not an honorable ruler for Rome, leading them to kill him as a benefit to their country. Marc Antony opposes Brutus, being a strong advocate for Caesar’s rule, in order to bring justice to his deceased acquaintance and improve the lives of the citizens of Rome. Both men give speeches of their views on Caesar’s rule, but Antony’s more powerful message pits Roman citizens against Brutus and the conspirators. Shakespeare first uses paralipsis in Caesar’s rule by demonstrating Antony’s subtle mockery of the conspirators. Antony later uses repetition of Brutus being an honorable man as well as rhetorical questioning in order to cunningly place the blame on Brutus without directly saying so. Shakespeare utilizes various forms of altruistic, yet deceptive diction to portray Antony’s speech as superior to Brutus’ because he relates to the sympathies of Roman citizens rather than their nationalism.           

  Brutus has some hesitance when granting Antony permission to speak in reference to Caesar’s death. Brutus solely asks that Antony not speak badly of the conspirators, leading Antony to cunningly work around his oratory limitations. Antony first exclaims that he “come[s] to bury Caesar, not to praise him” in order to peacefully present his connection to Caesar and to honor him ceremoniously (III.ii.73). Despite Antony’s supposed cordiality, his motives lie in revenge, and he continues to praise Caesar regardless. The author utilizes paralipsis within Antony’s deceptive diction in order to subtly turn attention towards Caesar’s beneficial rule. By initially portraying himself as adhering to Brutus’ limits, Antony feigns loyalty in order to better his speech, and inspire the citizens towards his rightful ideals. The author utilizes Antony’s underhanded diction to enhance ethos, thus creating an emotional response within the citizens who sympathize with Antony’s loss. Rather than promoting patriotism for Rome like Brutus, Antony’s speech hones in on the sentiment of the individual, inspiring the crowds towards Caesar’s ideals. Shakespeare later supports Antony’s focus on Roman emotions when he sneakily announces that he “speak[s] not to disprove what Brutus spoke, but…to speak what [he does] know” (III.ii99-100). Shakespeare utilizes paralipsis once more in order to distract from Antony’s continuous opposition to Brutus’ methods. The author’s use of logos when speaking of Caesar’s rule over Brutus is used to sway both the minds and hearts of the citizens because they are more willing to follow someone who gives back to them. The author portrays Antony’s diction as being both benevolent and deceitful because his morals lie in bettering Rome, but his motives are to go against Brutus’ rule and avenge the death of his beloved Caesar. Antony’s ability to sneak around Brutus’ restrictions helps relate to the needs of the citizens because there is a central focus around Caesar’s past accomplishments. Antony later puts focus on Brutus’ supposed honor in order to show the contrast between Caesar, a proper ruler, and Brutus, a misguided one.            

Antony puts emphasis on Brutus’ supposed honor in order to backhandedly mock Brutus’ morals that differ from Caesars. Antony repeatedly exclaims that “Brutus is an honorable man” in order to feign loyalty to the conspirators (III.ii.82). The author uses Antony’s repetitive diction to prove the opposite of its connotation. By portraying Brutus as consistently honorable, and then following his alleged successes with his detriments to society, Antony is cunningly putting the blame on Brutus while simultaneously complimenting him. Shakespeare utilizes the contrast between Brutus’ honor and his malicious actions to sway the public towards the more evident evil of murder. Where Brutus provides ideals of nationalism, Antony provides emotional and physical benefit to the public. Shakespeare uses ethos when Antony appeals to the public because even though they see Brutus as clearly honorable, they see Caesar as giving because they feel connection to his loss and they desire the materialistic possessions Caesar’s will administered posthumously. In addition to Brutus’ honor, Antony repeatedly claims that Caesar “was [his] friend, faithful and just to [him], but Brutus says he was ambitious”, thus providing a clear opposition between Caesar’s benevolent rule and Brutus’ sudden murder (III.ii.84-85). Shakespeare utilizes the comparison of Caesar to Brutus in order to place the “ambitious” characteristic instead on Brutus because he was the one that physically enacted evil. By backhandedly praising Brutus, the listeners soon sway from believing any accusations of Caesar’s rule because Antony continually disproves Brutus’ reasons for killing. By praising the conspirators, but praising Caesar more, Shakespeare is proving Antony’s speech as stronger because his benevolent diction uses ethos to make an emotional connection to each individual rather than to the whole. The citizens commiserate the death of Caesar by turning against the conspirators. Antony’s wisely worded speech then becomes stronger because he inflicts a physical reaction, all while speaking with peaceful diction. Antony’s final strategy in his speech plays with rhetorical questioning in order to make the public think and alter their thoughts towards avenging Caesar rather than celebrating his death.            

Even though Antony emits a cordial semblance during his speech, his inner motives lie in persuading the crowd from their original beliefs in order to avenge Caesar. When Antony states, “[Caesar] hath brought many captives home to Rome whose ransoms did the general coffers fill: Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?”, he is forcing the crowd to focus on the benefits of Caesar’s rule (III.ii.87-89). Shakespeare utilizes Antony’s heartfelt diction in order to turn the crowd’s motives towards revenge because it is easy for the public to relate to a king who benefits his fellow man. The author uses Antony’s double-meaning questions to enhance logos because even though Antony is internally rebelling against the conspirators, his statements of Caesar’s public influences are true. Antony utilizes the emotions of the public in his speech in order to amass a larger following. Brutus’ argument was that Romans should rebel against unjust ruling, which is certainly a worthy cause. However, Antony relates to each citizen by illustrating Caesar’s values that care for people and gives back to the public. Antony uses the rhetorical questioning of Caesar’s ambition to show the error in Brutus’ killing, thus pitting Rome against the conspirators who oppose Caesar’s benevolence. Antony then finalizes his speech with an inspirational question that says, “you all did love [Caesar] once, not without cause. What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?” (III.ii.101-102). Shakespeare uses Antony’s sincere diction in order to demonstrate his suffering, which in turn effects the Roman public as they join in his sadness. By forcing the public to mourn with him, Antony’s rhetorical questioning makes the public think more about their connections to Caesar, which ultimately influences rebellion. The author uses Antony’s altruistic and deceptive diction to show both a connection to an old friend and to avenge the killing of Caesar. Antony’s speech relates to the public on a more personal level because he forces them to decipher their conflicted emotions. Brutus was seeking justice for a whole country, which cannot be achieved without hard work. However, Shakespeare provides an easy opportunity for citizens to sympathize with Antony by using rhetorical questioning within Antony’s kind-hearted diction. Antony’s speech is ultimately superior because his genuine diction enhances ethos to spawn an emotional connection between a beneficial ruler and his subjects. The powerful quality of Antony’s views is capable of influencing change, which is why the public so instantly fights against the conspirators in an attempt to avenge the much-adored Julius Caesar.            

In the tragedy Julius Caesar, Shakespeare uses multiple forms of benevolent, yet deceiving diction to display the superiority in Antony’s speech because he connects to the emotions of Roman citizens rather than to their nationalism. The author initially uses paralipsis to display Antony’s subtle mockery of Brutus and his fellow conspirators. Antony later utilizes repetition of Brutus’ supposed honor as well as rhetorical questioning to backhandedly place the blame on Brutus. Julius Caesar explores the capabilities of man in a leadership position. Even though Antony was right in defending Caesar’s values, Brutus’ morals showed a commitment to country and public responsibility that could ultimately be more important to Rome.    

Mrs. Dalloway’s Transcendentalism

After Septimus’ suicide, we encounter Peter Walsh hearing the “light, high bell of the ambulance,” and deeming it, in his mind, “one of the triumphs of civilization” (151). He ponders the “efficiency, organization, the communal spirit,” of the city, thereby allowing the ambulance to pick up the necessary individual and maneuver through the streets as carriages and carts move out of the way. He describes the moment as one, “in which things came together; this ambulance; and life and death” (151). The moment however, ties more ends together for the purpose of the book than it does for Peter. Peter’s recollections of traveling with Clarissa on the omnibus that lead to the summation of Clarissa’s transcendental theory of interconnectivity serve both as an immediate example of the theory in action as demonstrated by his thought progression, and as a thesis for the entire novel and underlying structure. Before examining the passage from the beginning, I would like to introduce Clarissa’s “transcendental theory:” “since our apparitions, the part of us which appears, are so momentary compared with the other, the unseen part of us, which spreads wide, the unseen might survive, be recovered somehow attached to this person or that, or even haunting certain places after death” (153). In other words, the influence of our unseen, or thoughts and attitudes, can live on through other beings and places. This especially is significant in the context of the novel as a whole due to Septimus’ relative removal from the rest of the characters, yet significant effect on Clarissa at the party later that day. I would also like to point out that this theory suggests a connection between apparition and the unseen part, both possibly affecting each other. Peter demonstrates an awareness of his unseen development as attached to his experience living in India throughout his thought development after hearing the ambulance. When talking about London, Peter thinks, “That was civilization. It struck him coming back from the East” (151). This suggests that Peter’s view on London has changed due to his experience in India, yet it chooses, at this outward (for Peter) moment, to make itself apparent. Peter once again references India, more directly, as he says that, “it had been his undoing-this susceptibility-in Anglo-Indian society; not weeping at the right time, or laughing either” (151-52). This suggests a reversal in India’s role. Here, his failure in India is more the apparition and his emotional susceptibility is the underlying and unseen part of him. This is a matter of finding the starting point in the chain of these events. To explain, the apparition only exists in the present moment and is shortly converted into the unseen after the moment passes. The apparition is then manifested in the form of a psychological effect on the person. Thus it is no longer an apparition, but rather an unseen consequence. Each time such a conversion occurs, another part of the person’s experience hardens itself into his or her psychological makeup. He repeats these thoughts almost exactly the same at the end of the same paragraph (“It had been his undoing in Anglo-Indian society-this susceptibility” (152)) establishing Peter’s consciousness of his emotional faults that led to his downfall in India. This emotional fault is described by Peter as “susceptibility,” specifically to his emotions, leaving him vulnerable. However, he does not realize that his susceptibility extends further than his inability to properly control his emotions in India. As the transcendental theory would have it, Peter’s emotional problems would not arise on their own and would be caused by previous experience. What then, was the cause of Peter’s susceptibility? Peter’s emotional susceptibility resulted from Clarissa’s unseen effects on him as he remembered them. When talking about his current emotional state thinking deeply about life, death and the ambulance siren, Peter thinks, “that visit to Clarissa had exhausted him with its heat, its intensity and the drip, drip of one impression after another down into that cellar where they stood, deep, dark and no one would ever know” (152). Peter’s perception of his meeting with Clarissa was of one that no one would find out about even though he felt as if he had been “left bare” (152). However, fitting in with the theory, Clarissa’s effects did stretch “far and wide,” as they dug up past memories, bringing subdued feelings to the surface of Peter’s consciousness. Clarissa’s stripping Peter of his emotional control stems deeper than just his meeting with her, as seen in his memory of Clarissa riding with him on the omnibus, including his recollection of her theory. Peter buys into it saying, “Brief, broken, often painful as their actual meetings had been…the effect of them on his life was immeasurable. There was a mystery about it” (153). Clarissa is clearly the underlying influence for Peter. He connects his susceptibility in India to his experiences with Clarissa, as well as the comfort of the sirens and civilization with her. However, this comfort is misleading and thus has a negative affect on Peter. He thinks that it was bad in India and better in England, as apparent in his views on the ambulance and modernity. However, he fails to realize Clarissa’s damaging effects on him in favor of a slim chance for lover with her. He is blinded by Clarissa’s influence and trapped in a vicious chain of his present apparitions unearthing past experiences, translating into a damaged psyche. The present apparitions become past experiences in due time and in this manner, I refer to it as an everlasting chain. Septimus seems to be the only character completely removed from the rest with an influence that might suggest Clarissa’s theory directly, as he attaches himself in some way to Clarissa’s mindset. Why can this passage, with Peter Walsh at the helm of this portion of the narrative, become subject to interpretation through this same theory? I argue that Septimus is a large enough part of the story to influence Peter. Even though Peter is unaware of his connection to Septimus, the sound of the ambulance comes from that of the one that went to pick up Septimus after he committed suicide. His influence, small as it is in the apparition category, leads to a manifestation of previously unseen parts of Peter’s experiences and character through his thoughts.Even now, why should we accept this theory of unseen influence as a structure for the entire novel? I argue that the sentence structure most commonly used in the novel accounts for this theory. The sentences are transcendental in themselves, each statement between commas speaking to two categories: apparitions and the unseen self. For example, “But she said, sitting on the bus going up Shaftesbury Avenue, she felt herself everywhere; not ‘here, here, here’; and she tapped the back of the seat; but everywhere” (152). There are two parts to this sentence. First is the physical bus ride, going up the street, sitting in the bus, tapping on the seat. This is an apparition. The second part of the sentence is the metaphysical sense of Clarissa feeling herself everywhere and the explanation of that. This is just one example of an almost archetypal sentence structure used in Mrs. Dalloway. Apparitions and the unseen are weaved together throughout the narrative and even as deep as the sentence structure to show the layered nature and effect of both parts of the self on the individual and his or her experiences.

The Ending of Passing: Making Sense of Chaos

Nella Larsen’s novella Passing tells a compelling story about two mixed-race women, Irene and Clare, from drastically different outcomes who shape contrasting perspectives on the notion of “passing” as one race over another, as Irene is content with being her black self while Clare grew up as a white woman. This crescendo narrative escalates exponentially towards its explosive yet abrupt finale in which Clare falls out of a window and dies and Irene suffers a mental breakdown. The narrative takes a drastic turn from realism to a bizarre hyperreality drenched in subjectivity and impressionism. The ending is stylized to be vague on purpose, and many different interpretations can exist of it. Many readers will come up with different ideas about who murdered Clare, or if she was “murdered” to begin with, and these various interpretations impose different messages on relations between the characters and what they represent as motifs. Larsen projects the sensation of passing on the reader through how fractured and fragmented this finale is, which shows readers how fragmented one who passes through different races feels.

One possible interpretation is that Irene pushed Clare out of the window to her death. This appears to be the most shared belief, and it’s hard to see why once one gets past the shock of the protagonist, a seemingly sane and reasonable person, would commit such a tragic murder. Irene is seemingly the last person to touch Clare shortly before she falls out of the window. The scene leading right to Clare’s fall is described as follows: “Clare stood at the window, as composed as if everyone were not staring at her in curiosity and wonder as if the whole structure of her life were not lying in fragments before her. She seemed unaware of any danger or uncaring. There was even a faint smile on her full, red lips, and in her shining eyes. It was that smile that maddened Irene. She ran across the room, her terror tinged with ferocity, and laid a hand on Clare’s bare arm.” (Larsen 209) It is quite a sinister scene that Larsen paints. Irene’s frenzied run across the room towards Clare succeeding a declaration of her being “maddened” imposes a disposition of malice or at least unfortunate circumstance. This passage feels at home with a noire novel describing how the murder attacks its victim, with Irene preying on Clare in a seeming fit of rage. However, there is one piece of detail that stands out amongst the rest, the fact that Irene “laid” her hand on Clare. “Laid” is a passive verb and, rather than add to a murder scene, appears to be a calming act. This would lead one to assume that there would be no way Irene could have harmed Clare, but before assuming so, one must consider the following events. After Clare’s death, the narrative becomes broken and perplexing. Irene keeps reassuring herself that everything is okay. Irene, physically weak and dizzy, mutters fiercely “’It was an accident, a terrible accident.” This reassurance signals the Kübler-Ross Model, also known as the Five Stages of Grief. These are stages that one goes through after a great trauma. The first stage, Denial, is described as the individual believing that their perception of the event is “somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality” (Santrock). The reader knows Irene as a generally good person, and so this “preferable reality,” should the reader choose to believe Irene killed Clare, is that Clare instead fell out on her own with no help from Irene. Not to mention how earlier, prior to this entire sequence, Irene imagines Clare dying before stopping herself, saying it was vile “to wish that” (187). With this in mind, it would make sense that by saying she “laid” her hand on Clare, she really did something more drastic, such as “forced.”

The significance of this interpretation is that understanding this lens and viewing the novella under it transforms the entire work into something closer to a tragic romance. Throughout the novella, tension exists between Irene and Clair that suggests frustrated infatuation. Even in Irene’s last remarks at Clair, she wonders at her “soft white face, the bright hair, the disturbing scarlet mouth, the dreaming eyes, the caressing smile, the whole torturing loveliness” that had been tearing at Irene (210). One of the primary factors in Irene’s frustration with Clare is her belief that she is stealing her husband, Brian, away from her. However, with this lens, it would be more accurate to say that Brian was stealing Clare from Irene. Irene is not shown to be particularly fond of Brian on numerous occasions, often getting into arguments with him and lamenting his habit of staring at other women. Irene, reuniting with Clare could have sparked a new desire, a breaking away from her husband to pursue this newfound lust. Irene in the entire final Part of Passing becomes flustered whenever Clare is present, despite her appearing cool and collected in every other instance in the novel. Irene’s constant frustrations with Clare could be not out of a disdain for her, but out of a desire for her to be a better person in her eyes as if she is wanting to idolize her. Irene is unable to articulate her feelings for Clare properly, perhaps due to those feelings being so alien in Irene’s society and life. Reading into the story not only with the frame that Irene killed Clare but also with the lens that Irene loved Clare flips the entire story and transforms it into a tragic romance of unrecognized love, and Clare’s death, ignorant of Irene’s feelings, shows how such a romance could not be prescribed in their time and place. Coincidentally, the novel titled Passing could very well be “passing” a queer novel as a race one. Due to this context and interpretation, the notion that Irene killed Clare is a significant one that radically alters one’s perception of the novel. However, that does not mean there are other interpretations that aren’t worth examining.

Another possible interpretation is that Clare committed suicide. During Larsen’s time, there was a trope called the “tragic mulatto” which is an extension of what will be called her the “Other” character. The “Other” is a figure which does not belong in a society or world. The story consists of the “Other” coming into conflict with the world and the inability to assimilate into the world is the drive for conflict to the character in the story. As the “Other” does not have a place in its world, the typical end is a tragic death which causes the survivors to rethink their places in life. Examples of “Others” in literature include the Monster in Frankenstein, John in Brave New World, and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. The Tragic Mulatto is not much different. Per David Pilgrim in his essay The Tragic Mulatto Myth, the Tragic Mulatto is a mixed-race individual, typically female, who is depressed or even suicidal due to her inability to exist between two drastically different worlds, typically a “white world” vs “black world…fitting into neither, accepted by neither” (Pilgrim). The two main characters of Passing are mixed-race women, but Irene, the protagonist, is not a “tragic Mulatto” by any means. Though she is mixed, she is comfortable in her place and being and wholly identifies and connects to her black world. Clare on the other hand, while seemingly happy in her white world, still suffers from a loss of identity. The killing of her black self could be a metaphoric suicide. However, with an interpretation of the ending being Clare purposefully falling out of the window, it makes her status as a tragic Mulatto literal. Clare killed her black self to preserve her white self, but when she realizes that social life is coming to an end due to the revelations preceding the finale, she sees no choice but to kill her white self. By doing this, metaphorically speaking, she loses all sense of identity and is no longer a human being. Thus, this suicide is a literal one, terminating her life once and for all. This interpretation works as a way of fleshing out Clare’s character into an entirely self-tragic one, and making the novella Passing a defining tragic mulatto work.

Finally, another perspective is that Clare’s husband, John Bellew, pushed her out of the window. Bellew, from his introduction, is established to be a radically racist man. It is not much of a stretch to assume he would kill Clare after concluding that she was black. When Clare rhetorically asks Bellew what he would do if he found out she was black, he confidently dismisses the notion, reminding her that there are “no niggers in [his] family. Never have been and never will be.” (Larsen, 69) Bellew’s realization of Clare’s identity adds context to this exchange with him, and him putting the pieces together would serve as a complete mind break. For all these years, he had assured himself he was right, that such a revelation was too far out of notion. In such a moment, all that time spent intimately with Clare becomes to him works of devious seduction into a forbidden world. It would be impossible for Bellew to still love Clare since this would require backpedaling on a hardcore stance he held for his entire life, that he enforced so strictly upon every second of every day. As said in the quote above, Bellew had convinced himself that there never would be any black people in his family. The only way to make that true since he had unknowingly married a black woman would be for her to die. This adds credibility to the idea of Bellew shoving her out of a window. Bellew, a proud man, would probably not stoop to having to commit murder with his own hands, and rather placing Clare into a deadly situation would, according to mental gymnastics, free him from blame. Think of when someone would say “I didn’t break his arm, the ground did!” after pushing someone to the floor. Even if Bellew did not push her out of the window, his actions nevertheless lead to Clare’s demise. His violent outburst at the party upon realizing Clare was indeed part black is what causes Clare to run towards the window. No matter who pushed her out of the window, even Clare herself, Bellew is to blame to a degree. Clare’s demise therefore can be framed as a hate crime, and having Bellew be the one to directly cause her death it adds onto that perspective.

The end of Passing is significant because of how it fits into the narrative of racial passing and identity while translating into another medium its effect on an individual. Passing, for many, can cause them to develop a fragmented self-identity and perspective. The notion exists to some mixed race or cultured people that they do not fit nicely into one picture, like a jigsaw puzzle made from different brands. While the fragmented narration of Passing is literally due to the protagonist’s frantic state of being, this deconstruction of the narrative’s reality conveys such a feeling to the reader as one broken of a self-identity. Such individuals will ask themselves questions and constantly re-examine memories and events trying to fit them into different lenses to gain a greater and more cohesive whole. The lack of closure could be a projection of the empty feeling created by dedicating a lifetime to pursuing the seemingly unachievable task of finding one’s self, a task that is amplified the more fragmented a person is. Passing is a story that is ripe with conflict, both within the self and within the self vs the outside, as individuals in it are forced into situations where they must either relinquish their identity, don a false one, or pay the price for being an “Other” out of their world.

While the ultimate outcome of the ending is concrete, the way to get to that end can be seen in a variety of ways. No one way is “correct” and each possibility says much about the motifs controlling the characters and how they played out in Larsen’s contemporary world. Irene killing Clare turns the novel into a queer tragic romance far ahead of its time, Clare killing herself paints her as the archetypal tragic mulatto, and John killing Claire feeds into the racial tension that exists in America and the rejection of the “other” within. Each of these interpretations speaks volumes about identity, and the way the finale is so split up conveys this feeling to those who may not have ever experienced such issues and illuminates the tragedy of race relations in Larsen’s time.

Works Cited

Larsen, Nella. Passing. New York: BN Publishing, 2012. Print.

Pilgrim, David (November 2000). “The Tragic Mulatto Myth”

Santrock, J.W. (2007). A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development. New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-338264-7.

Hemingway’s Dr. Adams: An Analysis and a Diagnosis

The short stories of Ernest Hemingway are particularly renowned for their ambiguity and brevity, and the collection of short stories titled In Our Time contains many of these powerfully minimalistic stories. One character that appears in two separate stories is Dr. Adams, the father of Nick Adams, who is the main character in many of the other short stories. Dr. Adams in present both in “Indian Camp” and in “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife”, and Dr. Adams makes an impression in each of these stories. As Hemingway often leaves the character’s thoughts and actions open for interpretation, Dr. Adams is a prime candidate to be evaluated in a psychoanalytic criticism. Modern psychology, although a relatively new and largely still-debated scientific field, focuses on not how people do certain things, but why. Most people would agree that modern psychology began with Sigmund Freud in the early 1900s. Freud came up with many theories in the field, some of which are still adhered to today and some of which have largely been forgotten. Freud’s most important work involves his belief in the subconscious mind—a place that, although we are not aware of the impact, secretly plays a role in the things we say, do, and even dream. Since then, psychology has continued to grow and develop thanks to B.F. Skinner, Pavlov, Maslow, and other contributors that have continued to evolve Freud’s initial thoughts and develop major strides towards figuring out why humans act and react in certain ways.

One method of psychological criticism concerns the psychoanalysis of a character within the text. This will bring the motivations and desires of the character to the forefront and allow the readers a better understanding of the character. In order to effectively perform a psychological criticism in terms of a character within a text, the critic must be both creative and have a general knowledge of psychological terms in order to “diagnose” the character, which will ultimately bring the motives of the character into the foreground. Through a psychoanalysis of Dr. Adams’ actions and reactions, I will work to prove that Dr. Adams suffers from borderline personality disorder (BPD), characterized by his marital issues, problems with masculinity, and his anger and aggression issues.

Dr. Adams appears in two of Hemingway’s stories: “Indian Camp” and “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife.” For the purposes of my analysis, my primary focus will be on “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife,” although I will be using other Nick Adams stories to support my assertions throughout the diagnosis. “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife” opens with a group of Native American men, including Dick Boulton, coming to chop up logs for Dr. Adams. The logs had fallen off of a log boom that was carrying them from the mill. Dr. Adams says that this means they are driftwood, and therefore they are up for grabs. So he took them and hired the Native Americans to chop it up for him. When Dick Boulton sees that the logs are from a local logging company, he accuses Dr. Adams of stealing them. Angered, Dr. Adams tells Dick and the other men that they should just clear out if they wanted to accuse him of stealing. Dr. Adams then threatens Dick Boulton, “…. I’ll knock your eye teeth down your throat” (Hemingway 25). After this spat, Dr. Adam’s goes inside and into his bedroom (it is interesting to note that he does not share a bedroom with his wife), and he immediately begins to clean a shotgun. After a brief conversation with his wife, Dr. Adams goes outside, and he and his son, Nick, go for a walk to find black squirrels.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, borderline personality disorder is characterized by the following: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days. Some people with BPD also have high rates of co-occurring mental disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, along with substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal thinking and behaviors, and suicide (NIMH 2016). The disorder is recognized by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The officially recognized personality dysfunctions are listed in the chart above. With these symptoms and criteria in mind, I will attempt to rationalize Dr. Adams’ actions and reactions in order to prove that Dr. Adams is suffering from an undiagnosed case of borderline personality disorder.

The first symptom displayed by Dr. Adams is his engaging in risky behavior. Dr. Adams does not own the logs that he has taken to be cut up by the Native Americans. Hemingway says that Dr. Adams “assumed” that he could take them, meaning that he knew that it was possibly stealing, which does, indeed, indicate participating in risky behavior. This indulgence in a risky behavior fulfills number 4 on the DMV’s list for diagnostic criteria. Next, Dr. Adams soon becomes angered when he is called out for taking the logs. His anger occurs quickly, and he soon threatens to get violent, promising to knock Dick’s teeth down his throat. His anger seems not only misplaced, but also excessive. According to The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, this occurrence calls into question the masculinity of Dr. Adams (Benson 35). Furthermore, when Dr. Adams goes into the house and explains that he has had an argument with Dick Boulton, his wife replies, “I hope you didn’t lose your temper” (Hemingway 25). The doctor’s wife’s response indicates that Dr. Adams is prone to losing his temper on a fairly regular basis. This type of quick and potentially violent anger fulfills number 8 on the list of symptoms. Symptom number 2 on the list involves a pattern of troubles in interpersonal relationships. There are several context clues within “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife” as well as clues elsewhere in In Our Time that indicate that Dr. Adams has a less-than-satisfactory home life. In “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife”, we learn that Dr. Adams and his wife do not share a bedroom, as Hemingway says she was “in her bed” while he was sitting “on his bed” (26). His wife also seems to belittle him, whether intentionally or not: first, by taking a motherly, authorities tone with him (“’Tell me, Henry. Please don’t try to keep anything from me’” [26]) and then by saying that his hypothesis is clearly wrong [“’Dear, I don’t think, I really don’t think that anyone would do a thing of that sort intentionally’” (26)]. Later, in “The Three-Day Blow”, Nick refers to Bill’s father as a “swell guy” and then immediately says that his “old man” is “all right” (Hemingway 44). The implication here is that Nick thinks higher of Bill’s father than he does of his own. While none of the short stories come out and openly discuss Dr. Adams’ relationships with his wife and son, there are several context clues that can lead us to the conclusion that neither relationship is necessarily a positive one. This could be an indication that Dr. Adams struggles with maintaining relationships, even with the people he should be closest with.

After Dr. Adams’ brief argument with Dick and his conversation with his wife, Dr. Adams retires to his room where he takes his time first cleaning his shotgun, and then he sits and pumps all the shells out of it, only to load it and then pump them out again. There are two possibilities for what this could mean, and either of them would fit into the category of impulsivity and potentially risky behavior. The first possibility is that having easy access to the gun and the fact that this is the first place he turns when angered is proof that Dr. Adams may be mentally unstable. He immediately leaves an argument and goes to get his gun: this could be seen as a sign not only a sign of aggression, but also possibly the possibility of a threat of violence. On the other hand, it is possible that Dr. Adams’ shotgun ritual is a euphemism for masturbation. According to the article “Trophy-Hunting as a Trope of Manhood in Ernest Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa”, the pumping of the shells out of the shotgun is a “masturbatory display of phallic power” (Strychacz 168). This theory does make sense: bare in mind that Dr. Adams has not only been humiliated by Dick Boulton, but he has also just been emasculated by his wife. What better way to remind himself that he is a man than by performing as only a man can do? In addition, Hemingway uses several word choices that could indicate the possible double-entendre at work here. For example, Hemingway gives the reader an image a Dr. Adams “pumping” the rifle and the shotgun shells “scattering on the bed” (26). Hemingway also makes sure to tell his readers that Dr. Adams is “very fond of it” (26). Whether it is a sign of aggression or a genteelism for masturbation, Dr. Adams’ actions in this scene are clearly questionable and leave plenty of room for interpretation. He either is so angry that he has notions of shooting Dick Boulton, or he is so emasculated that he impulsively goes directly to self-stimulation, a possible vice of his.

As it stands, there are sufficient instances of personality impairment to satisfy that category of the DSM’s guide to diagnosis. However, that is just the first step. The next step in being able to properly establish that Dr. Adams is struggling with borderline personality disorder is accessing any impairments in interpersonal functioning. The way to discover interpersonal impairments is to see if either of the following are present: lack of empathy or lack of intimacy. Although only one interpersonal skill must be impaired to get a diagnosis, Dr. Adams is subpar in both of these categories, which is typical for somebody with borderline personality disorder. According to the DSM, empathy is defined as “the ability to recognize the feelings and needs of others”, an interpersonal skill that Dr. Adams undoubtedly lacks. The best example of this shortcoming can be seen in the short story “Indian Camp.” In this short story, Dr. Adams is heading to the Indian reservation to help a young Native American that has been trying without success to deliver a baby for days. Dr. Adams and Nick arrive to help the woman. Dr. Adams soon find that the baby is breech, so he performs an emergency cesarean-section on the young lady without any anesthesia. He used a jack-knife to cut her open and tapered gut leaders to sew her back up. Dr. Adams tells Nick that he does not hear the woman’s screams because “they are not important” (16). Dr. Adams is unaffected by the event, even after he discovers that the baby’s father has committed suicide in the bunk above his wife. He is proud of his surgery and even jokes about it on the way home. Hemingway says that he felt like “as exalted and talkative as football players are in the dressing room after a game” (Hemingway 18). It is clear that Dr. Adams not only feels bad for the pain he caused the woman, he also is unaffected by the suicide victim that he discovered. The second interpersonal impairment is a lack of intimacy, which we have already briefly discussed in the previous explanation of Dr. Adams’ unsatisfactory relationships. It is clear that he and his wife do not share much intimacy because they clearly do not share beds, or even bedrooms. If the shotgun scene is a euphemism for masturbation, that may imply a dissatisfying sex-life or even some form of sexual dysfunction. Whatever the case, we can see through Mrs. Adams’ speech as well as the couple’s sleeping arrangement that there is something lacking in the intimacy department of their relationship.

According to what Hemingway tells us in In Our Time, what we can ascertain based on context clues and other research, and the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it is very possible that the reason the Dr. Adams acts and reacts in the ways that he does is because he is suffering from an undiagnosed case of borderline personality disorder. He meets the criteria on every level, and it is plain to see that he is not “neuro-typical” in the ways that he acts, in his family’s dynamic, and in how he lacks emotions when they are necessary but then is overly emotive in unnecessary circumstances. Ernest Hemingway’s short stories, as ambiguous and open-ended as they usually are, invite psychological criticisms to be performed upon his seemingly-simple characters. However, with a little research and reading between the lines, it becomes clear to see that Hemingway gave us much more than what we may find on our first read-through. Perhaps if this much care was taken by every reader with all of Hemingway’s work, more and more people would come to realize that, while some of these stories seem to be about nothing, there is just as much in what Hemingway does not say than there is in what he tells us.

Works Cited Benson, Jackson J., ed. The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: Critical Essays. Duke University Press, 1975, p 32. “Borderline Personality Disorder.” National Institute of Mental Health, 2016. “Criteria for Personality Disorders.” Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th ed., American Psychiatric Association, 2012, pp. 6-7. Hemingway, Ernest. “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife.” In Our Time, Simon & Schuster, 1925, pp. 23-7. Hemingway, Ernest. “Indian Camp.” In Our Time, Simon & Schuster, 1925, pp. 15-9. Hemingway, Ernest. “The Three-Day Blow.” In Our Time, Simon & Schuster, 1925, pp. 39-49. Lynn, Steven. Texts and Contexts: Writing About Literature with Critical Theory, Pearson, 2017. Strychacz, Thomas. “Trophy-Hunting as a Trope of Manhood in Ernest Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa.” The Hemingway Review, vol. 13, no. 1, Fall 1993, pp. 36-47.

The Coming of Age of People and Nations

In her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”, Laura Mulvey argues that a movie audience derives pleasure from the artform by identifying themselves in the characters on screen (Mulvey, 3). Like cinema, the theatre isolates the audience, making the confrontation strictly between them and the world of the narrative in the dark room. It becomes very natural for the audience to be emotionally engulfed and for the lines between theatre and real life to blur. The effectiveness of political theatre rests on its potential to capitalize on the audience’s sympathy and emotional bond with the cause being presented. Exhibiting the issue as an intellectual argument is insufficient. Rather, theater and film are most powerful when provoking an unsettling emotional disturbance within the audience. Because the audience has projected their own understanding of themselves on the primary protagonists, when those characters come under attack, the audience is also distressed. Likewise, they will feel a shared responsibility to fight back against the exposed issue. In support of this notion, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s play I Will Marry when I Want achieves the agenda of political theatre through a process of identifying the characters with the audience and then transforming those characters to reveal the premises of oppression surrounding them. This structure compels the audience to act in response to the exposed issues. In order to include the audience in the political struggle, the initial characterization presented needs to be approachable. The audience should be able to effortlessly connect with the way that the characters express themselves; a relationship that Wa Thiong’o specifically struggles to achieve in I Will Marry when I Want. The main protagonists, Kiguunda and Wangeci, are poor peasants with a small plot of land. They are a loving family, despite their occasional bickering, and struggle financially to make ends meet. Their humble position in society and their conflicts are very similar to those of most people and thus, become a significant common point of departure. Characters like Kiguunda and Wangeci, as well as Gicaamba and Njooki, are unremarkable and far from perfect, but the strength of their nationalism and loyalty are still evident in their courageous defiance against the Kiois. This balance of flaws and virtues renders an even more human and vulnerable characterization that compels the audience to sympathize with them. The way that these characters express their feelings and ideas is also significant. In the reenactment of Gicaamba and Njooki’s wedding, when Ngugi utilizes language the style is simple and unpretentious. In a society where theatre was dominated by the works of George Bernard Shaw and Shakespeare, Wa Thiong’o takes a unique approach to the aesthetic exemplification of language. His use of stylistic devices are very approachable and easily understandable for the audience. The imagery is usually that of nature and a primitive lifestyle, manifest in metaphors and similes that refer to “gourds of honey,” “hills and slopes,” and “millet grains” (Wa Thiong’o, 65-66). Through his heavy use of song and dance, the playwright finds a different but equally relatable avenue through which he can express ideas and emotions. In the reenactment of Gicaamba and Njooki’s wedding and many other scenes, soloists, dancers and choruses come in to join the actors in a musical number. Like natural imagery, song and dance is a feature of performance art that is easily understandable to the audience, because it is a significant part of their rituals and community activities and an integral medium of communication. (Wa Thiong’o, 45) Upon investing their sympathy and a portion of their own self-identity in the protagonists, the psychological coming of age and tainting realization of those characters would thus causes the audience to become deeply disturbed. In emphasizing this process in the storyline, the emotion vested in the last scene is also significant in presenting this transformation. After crying about how Gathoni is now pregnant and working at a bar, Kiguunda destroys the pictures and inscripted board, while Wangeci screams for him to “Kill me now (…) then he can have meat for dinner” (Wa Thiong’o, 110). This is a shocking portrayal of the family’s current state – a far cry from the beginning of the story when they were portrayed as quiet and supportive. The concept of virginity and marriage is also a primitivist symbol and motif in the play. A woman’s maidenhood is her most valuable treasure; likewise it is a metaphorical symbol of Kenya’s freedom from oppression. The youth and purity of virginity is also a motif for the primitivist notion of Kenya’s cultural integrity and traditional values. The motif is established by the phrase “I will marry when I want,” which was sung by a drunk and then by Kiguunda, coupled with the words “while all the padres are still alive … while all the nuns are still alive” (3). The imagery of padres and nuns signifies purity, and the diction “still” suggests the regressive nature of that virtue. The symbol insinuates that the sovereignty and prerogative to marry freely is only obtainable while Kenya is still in its pure, primitivist and empowered position. Later, Thiong’o alludes to the fragility of innocence and virginity in the lyrics “Maiden lend me your precious treasures … and when you lose your head you’ll never find it again” (12). In the beginning of the play, Gathoni powerfully exclaims that “I will mary when I want!” (16) and runs away to Mombasa with Muhuuni in the heat of love. However, by the end, Gathoni is pregnant and abandoned by Muhuuni. Muhuuni tricked her into pregnancy by saying that he would not marry a girl who is not pregnant because that might mean that she is barren. Thus, Gathoni not only loses her virginity, but also the prerogative to marry when she wants because the situation would force her into a shotgun wedding at best. The audience’s identity is vested in these characters’ transformations, thus they suffer these disappointments alongside Gathoni. Coupled with the lurid imagery of Gathoni’s emotional conflict and oppression, the audience is compelled to sympathize with her and question a society that would allow such a deplorable abomination. Despite inciting the emotional shock stated above, the play does not provide the solution to those issues within itself, thus compelling the audience to find that solution through their lives. Theatre presents the realization and leads the audience back straight to reality where they left off before they entered the theatre. In I Will Marry when I Want, the conflict in Kiguunda’s family and Gathoni’s possible marriage to John Muhuuni is a metaphor for the colonial rule of Kenya. The conflicts are condensed into approachable symbols of the political problems in the country, even after their independence. One example is when the Kiois come into the room and one of them causes the title deed to fall. Gicaamba eventually picks it up and hangs it back on the wall (42). The title deed is proof of Kiguunda’s ownership of the land. Likewise, it is a symbol of freedom because “these are mine own” (4) and on this land he has the autonomy and prerogative to live freely without being oppressed. This same freedom is threatened by the Kiois’ arrival and attempt to colonize the lives of people like Kiguunda by coercing them into selling their land and forcing them into Christian marriage customs, the cost of which eventually lead them to lose the title deed. This twisted situation mirrors Kenya’s condition at a time where the country’s cultural identity is being forcefully compromised, not by colonizers, but by their own brethren who have blindly sworn their loyalty to external bourgeois elements. The play concludes at the apex of this conflict and with a realization of the solution. Gicaamba states, “Let’s not fight amongst ourselves” (110) and implores his countrymen to unite against the real enemy, “Ahab Kioi wa Kanoru … The Oppressor, Son of Grab-and-Take.” (111). Coupled with the audience’s emotional connection with Kiguunda and Wangeci, they are thrust into the same motivation to action against the real enemy. Like Kiguunda and Wangeci, the audience is only in the beginning of the fight to reclaim their cultural identity. Despite its national independence, Kenya is very much still colonized by the ideologies of the West and the economic dominance validated by those ‘superior’ nations. History and society were dictated from the point of view of the petit-bourgeois, and theatre was presented sparingly as a luxury to the people. It was “confined within walls” and given only “if they [the people] behaved themselves” (Wa Thiong’o, 41). The play compels the realization that empowerment is necessary for Kenya’s cultural integrity, but as for the answer to this problem, the audience is now invigorated to seek it for themselves in reality. An effective way to accomplish political agenda through theatre and compelling an audience to act upon a cause is by including them in the fight. A playwright can therefore portray the transformation of the characters as they recognize their oppression and empower themselves. By exposing the disturbing justice of reality on stage brings the audience closer to the characters and induces a non-cathartic emotional connection with the audience which in turn compels them to take an active political stance. Through this method, the playwright blurs the line between a sad story and an unsettling reality, thus driving home the sense of urgency with which the audience is invited to act. Bibliography:Mulvey, Laura. Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema. 1999.Ngũgĩ, Wa Thiongʼo. Decolonising the Mind: the Politics of Language in African Literature. London: J. Currey, 1986. Ngũgĩ, Wa Thiong’o., and Wa Mĩriĩ. Ngûgî. I Will Marry When I Want. London: Heinemann, 1984.

Medea and the Vision of Euripides

Critics have noted that unlike his illustrious predecessors who also specialized in Greek tragedy, Euripides bears a far greater sensibility towards the marginalized sections of society such that many of his prominent characters are seen to be either women or people belonging to the ‘lower classes’. This was in stark contrast to Greek dramatic tradition, which mainly focused on men of noble birth and the divine immortals. Apart from other aspects, it is this realism of Euripides that makes his plays shine forth in retrospective analysis, attributing to them a timeless universal quality.In Euripides’ treatment of the legend of Medea, one finds subtle subversions of the patriarchal ethos of his time, which at the same time are balanced through his dramatic innovations for the purpose of tragic ambivalence. As Richard Rutherford claims in his preface to the play, “It is probable that Euripides was the first to make Medea kill her own children deliberately”, which of course is the vital conflict in the play. While it is made clear that Medea’s need for revenge as a wronged woman is completely warranted, Euripides introduces the question whether such a situation could justify any means to achieve vindication. Thus, the feminist assertion is brought in conflict with the basic notion of motherhood associated with the female gender, as Rutherford elaborates: “What kind of a woman, even in such circumstances, could bring herself to kill her own infant children?” To further highlight the tragic aspect, Euripides makes it more than evident that Medea is fully aware of the horror of her deeds and yet proceeds as she does, instead of mitigating her crime as an action executed in a moment of insanity.Through Medea, Euripides portrays a strong-willed woman who would go to any length to preserve her honour and extract due revenge in spite of all the odds stacked against her; as in her own words: “Wrong a woman in love and nothing on earth has a heart more murderous”. For being a woman living in a patriarchal society in a foreign country, alienated from her own land, spurned by her husband and then banished from her state of residence, Medea has no external resources or influence to help her in her cause. Apart from the promise of asylum from Aegeus and the initial public sympathy, it is clear that Medea must rely on her own wits to realize her purpose. It is no wonder then that at the start of the play she is found to be wallowing in the throes of despair, self-pity and anguish.Right from the start, Euripides employs a unique technique to assert the tragic situation of Medea, which is then echoed at various occasions later in the play. The nurse initiates the play with a vain lament of the past to emphasize the tragedy of the present, while conveying the basic premise at the same time: “If only it had never gone to the land of Colchis, the ship Argo”. For after all, if this wasn’t the case, the tragic instances would never have occurred. Apart from everything else, numerous murders would have been prevented at the hands of Medea, such as those of her brother, Pelias; and in the course of the play, the murders of Creon, his daughter, and Medea’s own sons. Therefore, even before Medea’s actual intent is declared in the play, it is implicitly understood that she is a dangerous woman, well versed in witchcraft and unafraid of killing people to serve her purpose; as the nurse states: “No one making an enemy of her will win an easy victory”Oaths were deemed of great significance in Greek tradition, and thus, Jason’s rejection of the marriage oath serves to further highlight the injustice meted out to Medea. As a result, until Medea finally declares her murderous intent, Euripides continues to provide a rationale for her rage and direct sympathy towards her through the perspectives of the other characters and her interactions with them, including the chorus of Corinthian women. For again, public sympathy was held to be quite important in Greek society owing to its democratic customs of debate (agon) and justice. In fact, it is keeping in mind this tradition that Medea finally regains her composure and appears in public to make her appeal, which is seen to be a passionate observation of the female plight in a patriarchal world with statements such as: “Of all creatures that have life and reason we women are the most miserable of specimens…we must buy a husband, taking a master to play the tyrant with our bodies”. It is this objective treatment of gender notions that marks the genius of Euripides in the play, and after all, it is heartening to realize that a man writing in the fifth century BCE could possess such a heightened sense of awareness.Furthermore, through the tutor’s statement: “Is he so different from the rest of mankind?” and at latter occasions, through the chorus such as in the lines 410-430, Euripides provides incisive commentary on the patriarchal hypocrisy that made adultery seem almost acceptable for men. This sentiment is again echoed in the first agon scene between Jason and Medea where Jason’s audacity in his reasoning by virtue of being born a man is more than evident. However, though the chorus could be seen as symbolic of female solidarity, as they boldly claim, “No more shall we women endure the burden of ill-repute”, in support of Medea’s retaliation, even they refuse to accept her eventual heinous decision, thus underlining the paradox regarding women and motherhood as discussed before.Coming to the declaration itself: “I shall kill my own children; no one shall take them from me…to suffer the mockery of my enemies is something I will not tolerate”, it is needless to say that these statements reflect Medea’s psychological turmoil; and in the subsequent dialogue between her and the chorus, Euripides defines the rationale behind Medea’s actions: “But to kill your very own children – will you have the heart for that, lady? Yes; it is by doing this that I shall hurt my husband most”. In these statements, one finds the deranged reasoning of a woman scorned, stemming from an egotism that is fixated upon the notions of justice and honour. However, in this mode of rhetoric, one might derive that there is some pragmatic thinking behind Medea’s murder of her children, for as a woman born in a man’s world, where would she have dragged her children along in exile? What fate would they meet, and despite Jason’s assurance, could she really trust the man who had already betrayed her once? “They must be killed; there is no other way. And since they must, I will take their life, I who gave them life.” This tragic sentiment reflects a certain heroism and courage on Medea’s part, which is then once more juxtaposed against the notion of motherhood in her heartbreaking vacillation in her soliloquy, until she finally realizes that she is a woman guided by passion and remarks on the fate of her children: “You have lost this world, thanks to your father”.Then in the messenger’s detailed description of Creon and his daughter’s deaths, there is a visible devilish delight that overcomes Medea, for the messenger’s graphic monologue provides a cathartic sense of vindication for her. After all, through these murders she ends up having her revenge both on Jason and Creon, the men who were to be blamed for her predicament. Though from this point onwards, the public sentiment starts to sway towards Jason, there is a strong argument voiced by Medea herself that it was easy to blame her for her conduct, simply because the others being objective commentators, weren’t in her shoes. Also, it might be interesting to note the irony that while the chorus of women call upon the Sun god to prevent the murder of the children, he instead sends his chariot to help Medea in her getaway. Should this be seen as a mere whim of the gods congruent with Greek legends as voiced by Homer or Hesiod, or could this be interpreted as a subtle indication that the gods too agreed with Medea’s sense of justice? Again, the ambivalence of Euripides makes it difficult to take a definite stance but then, therein, lies the mark of great literature.Finally, in the climax, it is evident that Medea has indeed made Jason suffer to the highest degree such that she even denies him the burial of their children, all “to cause you (Jason) pain”. However, in the end, it is both vain and unfair to question Euripides’ motives behind the play. While his sensitivity towards the position of women is amply clear, it is somewhat unreasonable to claim that he intends Medea’s behaviour to be seen as the ideal of feminist retaliation, simply by virtue of his choice of her mode of revenge. Rather, Euripides’ purpose seems to lie in highlighting the tragedy of human behaviour or an aspect of it, through the portrayal of the inner conflict of an individual and the social reactions to it, to comment on the notions of justice and revenge. With regard to a specific feminist voice, Euripides rather chooses to delve into objective logic while commenting upon the prevailing circumstances of his time, as voiced by the chorus:“The rolling ages have much to tell of our side, much, as well, of men’s”Therefore, instead of pinpointing and dissecting Euripides’ intent, Medea must be treated simply as an individual work of literature, which encompasses the trivialities of the human condition into a timeless framework.