Dramatical Novel

“Eveline” a Short Story by James Joyce Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Aug 29th, 2020

James Joyce cites that, Eveline Hill is a young woman who is around nineteen years. She sits alongside her window as she waits to leave her place of residence. During this time, she recalls many things surrounding her life that are making or driving her from home. Both her mother, Mrs. Smith, and elder brother, Earnest are dead while the other brother spends most of his time away from home in his church decorating business.

She remembers how Mr. Smith, their father, mistreated her brothers. The story unveils that Eveline had limited loyalty towards the work that she used to do. A brief overview of the story shows that, even though Eveline falls for Frank who is a sailor, she does not accompany him to Buenos Aires just as promised (Joyce 3). This paper will seek to give a critique of Wendy Dennison’s student paper.

Upon reading Wendy Dennison’s paper, it is observable that her paper is strong. To some extent, the reader understands that Wendy’s work possesses a huge grip of expressing ideas, which in turn gives satisfaction. Wendy’s paper has an analysis of the audience that makes it possible for easy message delivery (4). For instance, the paper does not contain difficult words such as protean and epitome. As such, the paper is strong because the choice of words is appropriate and the plot shares qualities of writing that are apparent to fellow classmates as well as the instructor. Additionally, having seen that Wendy knows about “Eveline”, it is truthful to say that she has carried out prewriting exercise.

Literature studies indicate that a strong paper must have a prewriting exercise. Therefore, in this case, Wendy’s paper contains argumentative tactics, valuable word choice, and attitude, which explains more about Eveline’s essential timidity, self-doubt, insecurity, and capacity for her self-deception.

On the other hand, Wendy’s paper needs a bit of polishing because literature writing and understanding involves learning the questions relevant to ask yourself as you write or read. In order to deepen comprehension, the writer or reader must examine and think critically about the components of the work. In this context, critical means the overarching evaluation, synthesis, and inference as well as analysis of all the discerning inquisitions and thoughts (5).

Agreeably, the composition of Wendy’s paper provides unclear inference regarding the implications of certain elements such as tone, structure, and characterization of Eveline’s story. Thus, it is agreeable that Wendy’s paper requires some polishing in order to bring out clarification on synthesis and analysis as well as inference of the plot. Additionally, the discovery and development of ideas bring a sense of obviousness (6). A proper paper must give suspense, which in turn brings about a process of discovering ideas called invention. Inadequate employment of invention is one of the reasons as to why Wendy’s paper needs polishing.


In conclusion, James wrote an enjoyable story about teenage thoughts. He brought out feelings and emotions that cluster many youngsters’ minds. For example, when Eveline heard a bell clang upon her heart, a feeling ran through her heart and she heard Frank say, “come” repeatedly. Arguably, Wendy’s paper is strong as it has some citations quoted directly from James Joyce’s Eveline story. “Look lively” is a quote that urges Miss Hill to loosen up and appear bold in her work (7). Given the fact that Wendy’s paper includes directed freewriting, it becomes solemn to give corrections. This provides room for enhancements.

Works Cited

Joyce, James. “Eveline.” Literature and the Writing Process. Ed. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, and Robert Funk. 7th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 2005. Print. 3–7.

This essay on “Eveline” a Short Story by James Joyce was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

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Life Conflict: “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: May 30th, 2020

In the ever-memorable epic of a woman in Russian society, trying to achieve self-will, Anna Karenina, is an exemplification of conflicts between the accepted and unaccepted social norms. Anna Karenina is a treatise of conflict between the novel’s commiseration for both the adulterer and the family. Tolstoy, from the very beginning of the novel, is empathetic towards Anna even though he accepts her conduct as sinful, and includes an image of familial life that could prevent it. The problem of adultery of married women gained importance in nineteenth-century novels (for example, Madam Bovary by Gustave Flaubert).

The problem of non-adherence to the conventional role of a married woman becomes a paradigm for the analysis of the problems that are created in interrelated patterns. Tolstoy tried to portray that marriage is a mediator of the social, familial, religious, and transcendental realms. Overall, the story of Anna Karenina is the story of a woman in her twenties who is married to a staunch, boring man and leads a dull life. She falls in love with another man who presents her with the passions of life that marriage failed to provide. The affair diminishes into mere sensuality of relationship, most probably due to its illicit nature.

With heightened sexuality arises insecurity of love. As time passes, Anna becomes more demanding of her lover and feels out of desperation that she will lose her lover. With time, her jealousy thrives more, and she becomes more demanding, in doing so, only driving him further away. Eventually, frustrated with burning jealously and insecurity, Anna commits suicide by throwing himself in front of a train. The novel deals with the conflict of the adulteress who has broken a human and societal code but still gains sympathy from the author and the readers. Marriage was mythologized in Shakespearean drama, while in the nineteenth-century, marriage was the myth that the fictions like Anna Karenina demystified.

Background of Anna Karenina

French literature has been bursting with the theme of adultery since the publication of Les Liaisons Dangeureauses. French proses on adultery influenced the creation of Tolstoy’s love epic. The story drew heavily from French proses and the philosophy of Rousseau. It had been fashioned in European style and had been written as a moral philosophical treatise based on the relation of Karenin, Anna, and Vronskii. Tolstoy presents to the readers an adulterous triangle in Anna, her husband, lover, and the happy marriage of Kitty and Levin. These two marriages, juxtaposed with one another, to demonstrate the Gospels of the sacrament of marriage.

The difference between Tolstoy’s tale of adultery is that the French stories were narrated from the point of view of the deceived husbands. Flaubert wrote Madame Bovary from the perspective of the heroine, which was unlike any other novel dealing with the subject of female adultery (Karpushina 75). However, Tolstoy fathomed prose that incorporated all the subtexts and perspectives.

Family and Marriage

What units constitute a family? What idea of family is expressed in the novel? How does Tolstoy distinguish between a good and a bad family? The presence of family is an essential part of the novel Anna Karenina. The novel begins with Tolstoy’s belvedere on family: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way” (Tolstoy 4). Here the word “happy” implies harmonious. Families may be discerned by the problems that they face.

The equation of the families in Tolstoy’s novel is not linear. Not all families that are “good” are not “happy.” For instance, the Sviazhskiis are not “happy” as a family, but their family may be considered “good.” They are childless, but they have a good time. For instance, they are constantly quarreling over the future of Kitty. Kitty’s mother wants to arrange Kitty Vronskii’s marriage, failing to see that it would be a bad match for Kitty as was for Dolly. Kitty’s mother does not see why she was sick, but her father, being an intuitive man, finds the reason. On the insistence of Kitty’s father, she is married to Levin. Hence, we see the Sviazhskiis family comprises of a “good” father and slightly vain mother.

Kitty and Levin to have a good family, but their family is not always bestowed with happiness. Kitty and Levin have a “good” family but the incidents of domestic conflicts based on trifles such, as jealousy does not show the picture of a “happy” family.

In another instance, the childless marriage of the Wendens may apparently seem satisfactory but if they are happy or not is debatable. Lady Wenden is does not discourage the officers to steel fleeting glances at her. Karenin too recollects Darialov’s name as one among the cuckolds of high society. The only family, which can be considered happy in Tolstoy’s novel, is that of the Lavov’s. One reason for this may be the loyalty the spouses hold towards each other that makes their marriage a success. The novel presents a decadence of morality and fidelity from traditional marriage and family. Thus, Tolstoy’s philosophy of a happy family and marriage is predominantly based on the question so loyalty and disloyalty to one’s spouse.

Tolstoy believes a spouse’s infidelity creates a vacuum for the familial life, which corrupts the very essence of marriage. Infidelity leads to impurity in the pedigree of the future generation and imbibes corruption within the familial walls (Karpushina 67). Implicitly, Tolstoy propagates the belief that the characters shown by parents influence the child largely, and therefore, creates a specific view of life in the child. For instance, Levin was an orphan and his parentless formative years left him insecure as an adult. His remembrance of his parents was only through his mother, and hence, he wanted his wife to resemble the image of his mother he had in his mind. Levin’s concept of family is one that Tolstoy propagates.

Kitty belonged to an honorable family, and Levin believed that she was representative of all the values that her family upheld. That is one reason he is dismissive of Vronskii who did not have an illustrious family background. Kitty’s parents are from a well to do society, with great family values and committed to family life. Dolly and Natalie, two of Kitty’s sisters are shows as a model of morality, goodness, and character in the novel. Natalie had a happy marriage (Meyer 211). Dolly’s marriage is not a happy one, which was primarily because of Stiva, her husband’s perfidy.

Here one must understand that Tolstoy makes a clear distinction between happy marriages and happy family. Marriage is entailed only to the relation between the husband and wife, while family has a larger spread, with different units. Incase of Dolly and Stiva it can be observed that Dolly and Stiva had an unsatisfactory married life, however, their family life went on smoothly. On the other hand, a happy family life was not an indication of a happy marriage.

Ancestry and Marriage

The idea of marriage in Tolstoy’s novel is restricted to the relationship between husband and wife. However, unhappiness in married life was restricted to mutual respect and fidelity between couples. An absence of loyalty in a marriage would create unhappy marriages.

To understand the background of the failure of Anna’s marriage one has to go back to the roots of its inception. Her aunt raised Anna. Anna’s aunt was a shrewd woman and she almost manipulated Karenin to marry her niece (Karpushina 72). Another of Anna’s aunt was Princess Varavara. She was shown as a parasite, who spent her life as a poor relation living under the roof of wealthier relatives (Karpushina 81).

Dolly who is demonstrated as the epitome of moral character in the novel scorns her. Apart from this, Tolstoy has spared no other detail regarding Anna’s childhood or ancestry. The only background divulged to judge Anna is that she is Stiva’s sister. Nothing has been told about Anna and Stiva’s parents in the novel. From this one may intuitively conclude that the key to understanding Anna’s character is her relationship with Stiva. Hence, if one understands that Tolstoy wanted to demonstrate the importance of upbringing on moral character as an adult, may be considered as a hint of Anna’s infidelity. However, Anna cannot be solely blamed for the downfall of their marriage (Meyer 208). Karenin, like Anna was orphaned at an early age and was brought up by relatives. Karenin had a brother. He soon after he and Anna were married (Karpushina 83). This sad past left Karenin an isolated heart.

Both Karenin and Vronskii were from descendants of family members who were employed with or were associated with the government office. Karenin’s uncle was a government official and Vronskii father’s social recognition rested on a special distinction received from the higher authorities. However, the difference between the characters of Karenin and Vronskii becomes apparent when the question of honor arises.

Karenin marries Anna for he believes it was his obligation and duty while Vronskii betrays Kitty’s hopes without any scruple (Meyer 210). Further Tostoy stresses on the absence of familial environment during the formative years of Vrinskii’s life to demonstrate the imminent unimportance of family life to him. Vronskii, though was not an orphan until late in life, was not close with his family, nor did he live them. He lived a lonely life with other young officers. He grew up in a military milieu away from the warmth of a family.

On the other extreme is Levin who cannot imagine a life beyond family values. Family holds the most important position in Levin’s heart. Indecency in Vronskii was mostly due to his parentage (Meyer 209).

His father gained his fortune through social climbing while his mother was a woman of easy virtue. This demonstrates that Vronskii was influenced by his lack of family values to have engaged in an affair with a married woman. Though Vronskii loved Anna, knew well that high society will not accept their relation, even if Anna successfully received a divorce from Karenin. He had no real family since childhood, and it is with Anna that he desperately tries to recreate a family. But it becomes a failure because Anna did not reciprocate to his desires for a family and since he did not know how to make one.

In the household of Dolly and Stiva, Dolly maintains the family and the marriage. The reason being she was from a “good” background. However, Anna’s family was doomed to fail as neither Anna nor Karenin had any real family to base their familial model on.

In the end of the novel, after Anna’s death, Vronskii shrugs responsibility of his and Anna’s daughter who is taken in by Karenin. Vronskii forsake his child because he did not want a family. His family line discontinues to absence of anyone to carry his name. On the contrary, Karenin’s name will live as Anna son and daughter will bear that name.

Social Tradition

Society and its code dominate the decorum of the life of the Moscovite high society. Traditions and social discourse dominate the mindset of the people living in the society and they judge people based on the habits that they have learnt. The idea of being upright, moral, honorable were considered assets. Anna, being an adulteress was branded as a “fallen woman”, was rejected by the society.

The novel strenuously interrogates the gender and marital relations based on the traditions and rules constructed by society. The social traditions that have been projected through the novel are basic to the gender roles that are specific to the characters. For instance, Stiva engages in adultery but is continuously forgiven by Dolly, and has no problem in gaining acceptance in society. However, Anna was shunned from society, branded as a “fallen woman”. She even had to meet her son secretly. The punishment society bestowed on Anna was higher than that imposed on men committing the same act were.

The case against Anna was a social retribution against her conducts, construed in such a way that she, ultimately, had to commit suicide. The society treats her in such a manner that suicide becomes inevitability for Anna. The use of conventional morality as a social norm and tradition drove the heroines of the nineteenth century to death. This definitely demonstrates the inequalities present in the western society against men and women. The moral message present in the story was the social tradition of the time. Anna’s death even before the last chapter, and Levin’s flourishing family life was due to the formers wrong choices and the latters right choices.

Social tradition and public opinion has a strong influence on the conducts of most of the characters of the novel. For instance, Karenin expresses to Anna that public opinion was important to him. In the end, it becomes an important part in creating Anna’s fate. Social traditions in the nineteenth century were strong and were right to deride a wife’s bad conducts and to leave the infidel unpunished was unthinkable in public moral discourse.

Karenin believed that the presence of their son had created a natural bond between Anna and himself; however, with the birth of a another child by Anna from her lover created fresh wrath in him for he could not accept the fact that her love for her son would be divided because of this newborn. This newfound anger makes him want to divorce Anna. Karenin’s voice is the tradition of the society that speaks throughout the novel.

The presence of a successful family as is found in that of Stiva and Dolly or Levin and Kitty forms a backdrop to Anna’s adultery. The question of happiness in family life is embedded through the social traditions, which in turn are related to the basic understanding of the customs of the society. The social customs and traditions based on Christian beliefs of morality and fidelity brands Anna as the culprit for the unhappiness of Karenin-Anna’s family. Social traditions dominate the perspective some of the other characters have towards Anna and towards her familial life.

Self Will and Freedom

Tolstoy considered the imposition of self-will for personal happiness as a hindrance to familial happiness. The couples that have been found to opt actions that would present personal happiness but would not. Necessarily, make others close to him/her happy has led to ill consequences and heartache in the family. For instance, in Dolly-Stiva relationship, happiness of the family is compromised due to Stiva’s infidelity.

On the other hand, the relationship of Kitty and Levin flourished due to mutual respect and faithfulness. A consistent communication that is found in the relationship of Kitty and Levin creates unambiguous relationship.

Anna, stuck in a mundane marriage, yearns for unbridled passion, which she finds in Vronskii. She is so bored in her lackluster family life that she goes beyond the social traditions, and the fear of being a social pariah, engages in an affair with another man. Anna’s expression of passion is a show of self-will that defines her character. However, this expression brings her fatal misfortune. On the other hand, controlled passion and unhindered communication results in happy marriages. The expression of self-will in the novel is done to break free from the ordinary existence – as observed in case of Stiva and Anna. However, this one expression led to other problems such as insecurity and jealousy. On the other hand, Levin and Kitty show the make of a more stable couple who embrace passion in their lives but do not allow it to rule them. Unlike them, Anna and Vronskii allow themselves to be completely swayed in the passion of lust, which eventually leads to their isolation.


Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina is an exposition marriage and happiness in marriage and family. Tolstoy differentiates between marriage and family in the novel. By developing his characters and couples, Tolstoy has shown the importance of love and fidelity in a relationship, which would dictate the happiness quotient of a marriage. Familial happiness though necessarily dependent on the relationship of the couples, was not a sufficient condition.

For instance, in case of Stiva and Dolly, they were an unhappy couple, but their familial life seemed harmonious. Here one must understand the social traditions of the time dictated the gender roles in a family, and adherence to it enabled a good and happy family. Marriages, on the other hand, were based completely on mutual trust and faithfulness of couples. Expression of self-will is also discussed in the novel through discussion of the characters. Anna is main character who expresses tremendous self-will by denouncing her marriage in favor of an illicit love affair that destroys her social standing. By choosing to be an adulteress, she was permanently branded as a fallen woman and found no place in the society.

Works Cited

Karpushina, Olga. “The Idea of the Family in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: The Moral Hierarchy of Families.” Studies in Slavic Cultures (2001): 63-92. Print.

Meyer, Priscilla. “Anna Karenina, Rousseau, and the Gospels.” The Russian Review 66(2) (2007): 204-219. Print.

Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina. NA: Creative Commons Attribution, na. E-book. Web.

This essay on Life Conflict: “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

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Taming One’s Id in Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” Term Paper

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: May 16th, 2020


The novel Life of Pi by Yann Martel is a captivating chef-d’oeuvre that features three main parts, which follow the life of Pi and a tiger that is referred to as Richard Parker. From the beginning, it is evident that the novel is about God, spirituality, religion, soul, and mind. The events that unfold throughout the novel put these themes to a great test. Further, the novel covers the biological survival process, which is pitted against the previously mentioned themes. One of the greatest fears that Pi faces is death, which is also greatly tested. Pi’s will to survive is evident by the end of the novel. In many ways that will be discussed, Richard Parker, the tiger, represents the issues that Pi fears. Consequently, Parker acts as an important representation of how Pi manages his Id. Hence, as the paper confirms, Richard Parker represents a complex analysis of taming one’s id.

Defining Id

According to Lapsley and Stey, id is one of the three human psychological states that include the ego and superego (1). These states represent the innate desires that are focused on survival. The id is unconscious. It is the only personality component that is present at birth. It acts as the main driver of people’s personality. The component strives not only to fulfil the most basic urges in an individual that are largely tied to survival but also is an important provider of the energy that is necessary for driving personality. The id is based on the pleasure principle, which points out that every desire should be satisfied immediately without consideration of the consequences (Lapsley and Stey 1).

For instance, at infancy, even before other personality components develop, infants are dominated and guided by id. At their tender age, the basic needs of food, drink, and comfort are of utmost importance. If they are not provided, crying is the only way the kids express their dissatisfaction. After the needs are met, the children are likely to stop crying (Lapsley and Stey 2). However, the children’s approach to demanding satisfaction of their needs, as per their id, is not applicable in real-life situations. For instance, as people get older, it becomes clear that acting out to satisfy the needs of the id whenever they arise can be problematic and hence the need and importance of the other personality components of ego and superego (Lapsley and Stey 4). In Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, Pi faces insurmountable situations, which require him to act to the desires of id for his survival, yet his companion, Richard Parker, is the main hindrance towards these desires and hence an important representation of how Pi manages to control his id.

Adjusting to Life without Family Protection

When the young Pi and his family begin their journey across the pacific, he comes on board with great admiration and love for the family, humanity, and all prescriptions of religion (Ketterer 80). However, his fear of death is revealed when he is shown by his father that despite the animals that are put in cages seeming friendly, they are dangerous and that they should never be taken for granted or wrongly be seen as friendly (Ludwig 226). By the end of the journey, Pi’s fear of death, desire for survival, and his morality and religious beliefs are put into immense test. To some people, Richard Parker represents all Pi’s fears and consequently, his weaknesses (Ketterer 82). During the journey, the ship that Parker uses is caught between bad sea weather. After a long battle with the weather, the ship is unable to cope with the situation. Ultimately, it sinks. His whole family dies. Besides, many of the animals that his father had brought on board from the family zoo die (Nilsen 115). At the end of the disastrous events, Pi finds himself the only person who survives together with several other animals, including Zebra, Hyena, Orang-utan, and the Tiger (Richard Parker). In the aftermath of the shipwreck, Pi is instantly ushered into adulthood where he has to make critical decisions regarding his wellbeing, amid the turmoil that is present in the confines of the lifeboat. The confusion brings together various beings that would otherwise not coexist for a single minute in normal circumstances (Duncan 167). Before the shipwreck, Pi is a young boy who has thrived in the confines and protection of a family. He has good relationships with his parents, especially his father, who teaches him many activities and experiences in handling animals as a zookeeper. Since the cushioning of parents is not available anymore, the next 227 days will test the young boy’s maturity to the core.

Religion and its Role in Pi’s Personality during the Early Stages of his Life at the Sea

In the first part of the novel, a young boy who believes in three religions, namely Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism is introduced, thus setting a complex personality, which is built upon strong beliefs in religion and God (Wolf 107). In other words, the young boy, Pi, has a strong sense of spirituality and morality, which, to a great extent, guides his actions and interactions with people and nonhuman subjects such as animals. Indeed, when he interacts with a nonbeliever, Mr Kumar, the biology instructor, Pi’s strong religious convictions are laid bare through his interpretations of what the teacher delivers. For example, when the teacher points out that religion is darkness, Pi takes the very opposite viewpoint by pointing out that he sees religion as light instead of darkness (De Cunha 235).

In fact, Pi does not seem to take Mr Kumar’s assertions serious. Instead, he claims that the teacher is trying to test him. With reference to Mr Kumar’s statement that faith is darkness, Pi thinks to himself, “was the testing me? Was he saying, religion is darkness, the way he sometimes said in class, things like Mammals lay eggs, to see if someone would correct him”( Martel Life of Pi 27). Although the atheist teacher sometimes convinces Pi with his virtues of science, Pi regards science as complimenting, but not opposing religion, as the teacher would view it.

In the initial stages of the disorderliness that is present in the lifeboat, it is evident that the fight between humanity, spirituality, and survival take centre stage from the start. For instance, when he first sees Richard Parker swimming towards the lifeboat, he exclaims, “Jesus, Mary, Muhammad and Vishnu, how good to see you Richard Parker” (Martel Life of Pi 95). In this statement, while he is overly confused on how to react to the fact that a tiger is coming his way, he is delighted that the tiger is alive, owing to the fact that it is his much-loved animal in the zoo. His humanity, innocence, and spirituality push Pi into helping Richard Parker while in the lifeboat (Thomas 182).

He is happy after helping the animal into the boat. Consequently, the kind act saves its life. However, his joy is short-lived. Soon, he realises the grave danger he is in by having Richard Parker (Stephens 41). While trying to exercise his desires and his humanistic feelings, Pi cannot stand Richard Parker dying in the water. He acts instinctually to bring the animal onboard without due consideration of the events that may follow if the animal acts on its instincts of eating him for survival purposes.

Upon the realisation of the great danger that Richard Parker poses on his survival, Pi acts impulsively on his id by fleeing from the boat and hanging on the edges of the lifeboat. For several days, Richard Parker and Pi behave suspiciously towards each other. Pi seems to be getting the most negative consequences out of this ordeal. He later makes a raft and takes some food off the lifeboat with the mission of staying as far as possible from the tiger to ensure that he can survive for as long as possible. He ties the raft to the lifeboat. For the next few days, he is satisfied that he is not in danger any more.

However, being on the raft exposes Pi to other unexpected complex problems that he could not have considered. Firstly, upon the exposure to extreme sunlight and seawater penetrating his raft since it (raft) is not watertight, Pi realises that the two agents, that is, seawater and the sun, conspire to cause him sores and boils (Fiamengo 56). The infections are serious on his body sides that are near the water, such as the backside. As he notes,

“Saltwater boils-red, angry, disfiguring- were the leprosy of the high seas, transmitted by the water that soaked me. Where they burst, my skin especially sensitive; accidental rubbing an open sore so painful I would gasp and cry out” (Martel Life of Pi 187).

Such a sorrowful narration shows the complex sufferings that young Pi is undergoing, yet his quest for survival cannot allow him to give up. He also gets much inspiration from religion, especially Jesus, whose misfortunes he can relate to and hence purpose to overcome them just as Jesus did (De Cunha 237). He must strive to ensure that his sores heal by remaining dry, or else his survival will be a very difficult challenge, especially when he has to make all the decisions on his life. His survival or lack thereof lies in his hands.

Religion offers the young boy Pi hope and faith that guide his many actions, despite the presence of the strong id-driven instincts for survival. For an instant, while he is still a Hindu, he is introduced to Jesus Christ, or Christianity, when he meets Father Martin. Through his interaction with Martin, he becomes a Christian, although not in the real sense, as he does not abandon his Hindu faith. As a young convert to Christianity, he learns about Jesus Christ’s sufferings and his death out of love for the human race and the creation (Fiamengo 58). However, Pi is perturbed. He deeply questions why a supreme being would want to die and suffer.

His kind gesture to save Parker comes in his mind and claims that he should be treated the same way he handled Parker. However, the situation is complicated because a big deal of his suffering results from Parker’s failure to let the two creatures share the same environment in the boat. However, his questions only lead to the beauty of Christianity. Indeed, his Christian beliefs prove very important and critical lessons for his survival on the lifeboat, as he is ready to bear the sufferings and show love to even the greatest of his adversaries, the tiger (Wolf 108). Instead of taking the path Mr Kumar would have taken by disowning God, Pi takes it as a divine example and hence seeks to stay focused and loving even in the face of death and strong sense of the desire to survive, which would have otherwise pushed him to act irrationally and instinctively in response to Parker’s id. For this matter, Christianity has given him the confidence, courage, and affection Richard Parker ends up enjoying and consequently surviving in the impossible conditions of the sea and misery of living in the confines of a lifeboat (Dwyer 9).

The influence of Parker and other religions on Pi’s behaviour and actions while at sea is also evident. He never leaves his Hindu faith, just as he decides to stay with Parker, despite the consequences that he (Parker) might bring to him. Instead, he combines his knowledge with that of Christianity and later with his Muslim teachings. Hindu teaches him about love, while Islam teaches him about brotherhood (Stratton 11).

These morals combine with the teachings of Christianity on endurance and suffering such that he can survive and/or show love even to the greatest enemy, Parker. For instance, while Christianity pushes him to show love, faith, and endurance even in the midst of great tribulations, which would otherwise prompt hatred between Parker and him, Hinduism and Islam teach him to extend love and comradeship to all, including the enemy (Tai 96). His approach to the three religions is also a very important depiction of his personality, which seeks to find the good where others would find the bad (Thorn 3). Pi takes the best out of each religion hence getting a better understanding of divinity, which the three religions seek to provide (Mensch 135). He takes the perseverance of Christianity, love of Hinduism, and goodwill of Islam, to explain many happenings in his life, hence increasing his ability to act differently and to survive even when it would have been logical to act otherwise (Martel How I Wrote Life of Pi 80).

Parker is the sole beneficiary of Pi’s efforts. Although he is rescued from dying in the sea, he ends up creating an environment where Pi has to seek divine interventions for both to survive. Parker’s harshness makes him survive in the boat because of Pi’s lessons from the religions that teach him not to react to Parker, even when he (Parker) is a threat to him. In the end, he gets inspiration from the principles of each religion and uses them to make important decisions that ensure that he can survive for longer than what would be possible in a death-life situation that Pi finds himself in a while in the sea and/or boat with Parker. Parker survives the dangerous conditions of living in a lifeboat for 227 days in the open sea and in the company of Pi who would have otherwise used in human instincts to kill him (Parker).

Overcoming Id’s Fear

Martel depicts Parker as a fierce animal that disrupted Pi’s peace in the sea (186). In fact, Pi’s fears while at sea are captured well when he points,

“I was alone and orphaned, in the middle of the Pacific, hanging on to an oar, an adult tiger in front of me, sharks beneath me, a storm raging above me” (Martel Life of Pi 105).

Everywhere, he was surrounded by great dangers to his survival. Only the provisional raft seemed to provide him with the necessary motivation to keep going and to remain alive (Georgis 165). This observation is a major irony, owing to how he would have never imagined in real life that such a simple structure could make the difference between life and death. His ordeal definitely has taught him to overcome great tribulations, a key indicator of id in action by opting for survival against all the odds (Cole 24).

In his words, he used the impermanent device for a very long time until it was almost completely gone. He imagines a situation where Parker could have decided to disrupt his peace while in the oar. This situation would have marked his end of the journey since he could have dropped in the sea and probably encounter other fierce sea animals. The young boy recognises the dangers that surround him but chooses what to prioritise. In this case, the tiger is not an immediate threat compared to the ocean (Burns 165).

Focusing on the id, in an ideal, he would have acted unconsciously, owing to his fears of the dangers that surround him, and effectively fled to the unknown to his eventual death. However, he learns to hold down his instinct, id-driven desires and makes deliberate decisions on what his best approaches to survival entail (Spall and Martel 4). For now, as long as Richard Parker remains hidden in the side of the lifeboat under the tarpaulin, no immediate danger comes from him since he does not know that Pi is just some few metres from the boat. Parker is indeed oblivious of Pi’s presence, something that gives Pi’s imagination some comfort and less stress that would otherwise be present if Pi ever thinks that Parker knows he is around. The scenario is a battle between fear and reason where reason triumphs, and hence a major win over id (Cole 25). Capturing this fight between reason and fear relating to the consequences of Parker being so near, Pi says,

“Fear and reason fought over the answer. Fear said yes. He was a fierce, 450-pound carnivore. Richard Parker could shred it with his claws with a little time and effort, but he couldn’t pop through like a jack-in-the-box. And he had not seen me…Since he had not seen me, he had no reason to claw his way through” (Martel Life of Pi 106).

The most important lesson here is that while instinct, as evidenced through fear, can aggravate the situation, it is important to think and act rationally. This claim shows how the presence of Parker is forcing Pi to find ways of taming id by acting rationally, as opposed to the irrational manner that his id would demand (Mensch 135). Although the above reasoning gives him peace of mind during impossible times, his comfort is short-lived. He is aware that he will have to face Richard Parker eventually by killing him, being killed by the tiger, or learning how to coexist.

Deciding the best way to deal with the beast that Richard Parker is revealed an important battle between id and rationality. Firstly, Pi comes up with five strategic plans on how to handle the beast. However, all strategies seem to lead to one problem: how to execute them without Pi being the casualty (Thorn 4). The beast is definitely born to be a predator. All odds indicate that the predator wins in every battle of the killer and the target. Pi is definitely not going to take such drastic measures to put himself on the leeway. Hence, he comes up with a sixth plan, which involves letting Richard Parker die a natural death out of hunger and thirst. However, he soon realises that Parker can swim. Definitely, there is no way he can escape death if Parker decides to swim across the short distance that separates them. He sums the fear that he would face when faced by Richard Parker when he decides that Pi is the next meal when he says,

“I have read that there are two fears that cannot be trained out of us: the startle reaction upon hearing unexpected noise, and vertigo. I would like to add a third, to wit, the rapid and direct approach of a known killer” (Martel Life of Pi 256).

Such a statement, which in is in reference to Richard Parker clearly shows the kind of fear that Pi had to overcome order to face Richard Parker, if he had any chance to survive more than what the raft had offered him. He makes the decision that he must come out of his raft, hold onto the lifeboat, and use the dominance skills that his father had taught him at the zoo to subdue his enemy by establishing himself as the dominant being over the other animals, including Richard Parker on the lifeboat (Tai 96). When he finally subdues the beast, it is evident that in the quest for his survival, overcoming his fears is an important milestone towards overcoming and taming his id, which would have otherwise pushed him to take drastic measures that would have instead jeopardised his ability to survive at the sea.

In the process of dominating the enemy, creating boundaries is of great importance. This strategy is evident in the novel where Pi demarcates the boat using his urine, following the weird behaviour of Richard Parker. Such behaviour might be evident in an animal, rather than a human being. Instead of killing the tiger, Pi views the animal as an essential part of his survival. Although Parker is a dangerous creature he can become a very important companion when he is tamed (Stratton 11). Amidst his domination on the lifeboat is disorderliness, especially from the other lifeboat members who are also trying their best to survive. Apart from the danger that is posed by the tiger, which he has now tamed, Richard Parker is also weary of the presence of the hyena and the orang-utan, which are very docile during the day. However, at night, his fear is evident when he says,

“Darkness came. There was no moon. Clouds hid the stars. The contour of things became hard to distinguish. Everything disappeared, the sea, the lifeboat, my own body. The sea was quiet and there was hardly any wind, so I couldn’t even ground myself in sound. I seemed to be floating in pure, abstract blackness. I kept my eyes fixed on where I thought horizon was while my ears were on guard for any sign of the animals…I couldn’t imagine lasting the night” (Martel Life of Pi 116).

The confusion that is present on the lifeboat is evident, especially through the way the animals kill each other for a meal. The zebra is badly injured. He becomes an easy meal for the hyena that then goes on to eat the Orang-utan. Finally, the tiger kills the hyena. When all other animals are dead, Pi has to find ways of avoiding becoming the next meal for Richard Parker. Hence, his goal is to not only coexist but also to keep him alive for as long as possible without jeopardising his chances of survival (Mensch 136). In his quest, he aims at ensuring that he establishes a relationship with Richard Parker by becoming his source of livelihood. He ensures that Parker is dependent on him, hence erasing the possibility of him becoming the next meal. The plan works well. However, Pi does not forget the retaliation nature of the tiger since he is still an animal, despite being docile and respectful towards him after he establishes himself as the dominant in the lifeboat (Tsai 96).

When the lifeboat lands on a mysterious island, the food and fresh water that exist there provide an important opportunity for id to take root in Pi’s ordeal. He can choose to remain there forever with Richard Parker. However, at night, the island becomes a killer trap. Creatures that manage to climb on trees can survive. Even Parker has to seek refuge on the boat, although the move greatly shakes Pi to the core. While id would have required Pi and Parker to remain in the island, Pi sees it as a way of postponing the inevitable death. He decides to set voyage to the unknown, instead of dying on the mysterious island, a major victory over id (Dwyer 10).

Richard Parker’s Role in Pi’s Taming of Id

The way Pi was brought up was not to face or be friendly to animals such as Richard Parker. Indeed, when his father finds that Pi has been sneaking to feed or entertain the tiger on the ship, he is shown the immense brutality of the tiger when he is forced to watch a goat being devoured. From the beginning, he is curtailed to avoid a tiger and if possible never be with the beast in a small space such as the one the lifeboat offers. Indeed, such deep-rooted fear for the tiger pushes him to stay in the raft for very many days until it becomes impossible to stay any longer and hence the need to face the tiger. Overcoming such great fears definitely requires a major disowning of the id-guided instinct of fear and fleeing from danger to actually mastering how to find comfort and solace in the danger (Ketterer 85).

While the fear for Richard Parker is still present, Pi does not opt to flee, as it would be required in a fearful situation, but instead focuses on acting with reason. Hence, Pi has to think critically concerning the ways through which he can prevent himself from becoming Richard Parker’s next meal. Firstly, he has to establish dominance, which he has already achieved by utilising the skills he has gained from his father who was a zookeeper (Nilsen 116). Secondly, he must keep in mind that Richard Parker is still an animal that needs food. Hence, no amount of dominance can prevent the animal from eating him (Nilsen 116).

With this awareness, Pi strives to ensure that Parker is fed as it the only way he can become a tamed animal. Without food, Parker will become hungry and thirsty to the extent of acting on his animal instinct of survival where he may make Pi his next meal. It is out of these reasons that Pi finds purpose in keeping Richard Parker alive for as long as it takes. If he is hungry, Pi will probably be his last meal. What Pi does in order to ensure that he can feed Parker and consequently ensure his survival leads to many questions and doubts on his interpretation of religion as he has depicted himself as a person who has a deep love for God, especially with his deep knowledge relating to three religions, which he sought in his quest for God.

The depth he is willing to go to survive is evident in the second narration where he substitutes the animals for humans. This plan clearly depicts his brutality. Hence, he is not different from Richard Parker, the tiger. In one of the conversations with the French cannibal who is brutal and ready to live and kill for his survival, Pi views the man as the exact description of a subconscious creature. However, the description comes to reflect on Pi when he kills the French cook in the second story. Worse, he does not feel sorry or remorseful for his actions. Instead, he points to his actions by responding and indulging in the momentary and soothing nature of revenge, which he ironically finds satisfying and not evil (Duncan 168).

He is becoming used to evil. To reflect his current state, he says that the frightening reality about wickedness is that an individual ends up copying with any situation, even to the level of becoming comfortable with evil. He adopts this survival tactic to avoid the great evil, that is, Richard Parker.

In his quest for retaining sanity on the boat and keeping himself alive, Pi’s actions are greatly at odds with his spirituality and the teachings he has gained from his religious endeavours. By not viewing his killing of the French cook as evil, he goes against what he has learned from religion relating to love for one another. Earlier in the novel, he justifies this behaviour as a form of madness that often leads one into doing actions that challenge his or her beliefs to the core. He reveals a degree of lunacy that steers life in bizarre but ferocious paths. This insanity due to the suffering and hunger on the lifeboat turns Pi into an animal that can murder others for survival. In the start of his life on the lifeboat, even killing a fish is such a guilty-causing endeavour where he is only comfortable and settled when the fish is alive (De Cunha 238).

With time, the drive for survival makes him more and more brutal to the extent of killing bigger and bigger animals until at last he is ready to kill human beings and actually justify it, as opposed to feeling guilty. He reaches a point where he is now questioning God’s true nature and love, which he has greatly focused on in his learning of the religion. In his own words, Pi says that it is difficult to demonstrate love in some situations. However, unlike other people’s reaction of disowning God, just like his biology professor who became an atheist when he could not get answers for his polio bedridden childhood, he instead complains that God was not available to intervene. In this statement, it is evident that he believes that God is still present, although he takes too long to hear or respond. Consequently, Pi has to act according to his convictions to ensure survival until the time when God will respond.

The presence of Richard Parker and the evident slow response of God to Pi’s predicament in an unlikely twist leads him to seeking to know God more and to have faith and optimism, which are important virtues of being religious. In the vastness of his problems, which are represented by the lack of food and water, despite being surrounded by a massive water body and uncountable sea creatures that are underneath the lifeboat, Pi’s faith is tested to the core. How could it be so difficult to find food and water when the two resources were just an arm reach away?

In the midst of this despair, he ought to have given up and surrendered to the slow death of hunger and thirst or to the fast death of the tiger’s claws and teeth. Instead, he responds to his suffering with affection, confidence, and hope. He realises that despite his fears and drastic measures he has taken to ensure his survival, only confidence and optimism can see him through. In his deepest conviction, God is looking unto him with a good purpose and hence the reason why he and Richard Parker survive for this long out of the many other people and animals. The parallels of his interpretation of suffering can easily be drawn between Pi and his teacher, Mr Kumar, the nonbeliever and biology instructor. When Mr Kumar faces a life-death situation through polio sickness, he asks himself daily, “Where is God? Where is God? Where is God? Where is God? God never comes” (Martel Life of Pi 27). On the contrary, when Pi faces the same situation, he does not interpret the lack of God’s manifestation as to indicate absence but rather a delayed response, and hence the reason why he remains hopeful and has faith that beyond the suffering, God will see him through.

To show his strong belief in the presence of a supreme being in his problems, Pi resolves to continue extending his love to his friends and enemies. Such a statement has varied interpretations. However, as it relates to the context on this section, he seems to indicate that he will continue to love not only God but also Richard Parker. It is also a clear indication that he would continue to have faith and hope. Through his faith and hope for survival at the end, he has been stayed alive for this long. His situation does not allow him to love easily. Although he shares a great misery with Richard Parker, he resolves to take care of him (Wolf 108).

In the first story, Pi’s faith has taught him to love his neighbour, Richard Parker, despite him being a dangerous animal. On the other hand, the consequences of not having trust, confidence, and love are evident when he loses all of them and acts irrationally to the extent of killing the French cook at his most miserable point. From these two parallel stories, it becomes clear that having faith and hope is very important in helping one to share his or her love with others.


Throughout the novel, the protagonist, Pi, faces major problems that threaten his strong beliefs and most importantly, his life. Richard Parker contributes a great deal to these problems. However, he manages to survive against all odds. How he manages to overcome these challenges is the most fascinating part of the story. It indicates a combination of many aspects such as his strong belief in God, faith, love, and a strong desire to survive. From the start, Pi is a brilliant young boy whose explorations lead him to read widely, especially on matters of religion, where he takes up the teachings of three religions, which include Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. He is also a student of science.

Although he does not believe in atheism, he takes up the important segments of the teaching of science, as well as the three approaches to religion and the subject of God. He has also taken up important lessons from his father, a zoologist, on how to handle and interact with animals. When his family becomes shipwrecked, a battle of survival begins. Survival is an important part of id, the personality trait, which focuses on the pleasure principle.

If it is untamed, id makes it difficult for an individual to coexist with others due to its selfish connotations. In the small space that is available in the lifeboat, it becomes evident that Pi has to make important decisions to ensure that he survives and that he does not end up being a meal for the tiger, Richard Parker, who is also confined in the lifeboat. It is indeed the presence of Richard Parker that Pi learns how to tame his id. At first, Pi flees from the boat, a response to his survival instinct, and lives on a raft, to ensure that he is as far from Parker as possible. However, he later learns that he will have to face Parker eventually.

Hence, he has to face his fears. Overcoming fear is his first lesson and triumph over his id because of Richard Parker. However, he cannot overcome his id completely. This situation leads him to act in ways that he would not otherwise approve. For instance, he has to kill fish to feed Richard Parker. He also has to kill the French cook. These acts are a clear indication of id in play. However, using his religious background, he has to show love, have faith, and hope that all will be well. Any reader who follows keenly the proceedings of this work will declare Yann Martel’s Life of Pi an informative piece of masterwork.

Works Cited

Burns, Steven. “Life of Pi and the Existence of Tigers.” Engaged Philosophy: Essays in Honour of David Braybrooke. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 2007. Print.

Cole, Stewart. “Believing in Tigers: Anthropomorphism and Incredulity in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Studies in Canadian Literature/Études en littérature canadienne 29.2 (2004): 23-41. Print.

De Cunha, Rubelise. “MARTEL Yann.” Life of Pi: a novel”. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2001.” Interfaces Brasil/Canadá 3.1 (2012): 235-242. Print.

Duncan, Rebecca. “Life of Pi as postmodern survivor narrative.” Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature 41.2 (2008): 167-176. Print.

Dwyer, June. “Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and the Evolution of the Shipwreck Narrative.” Modern language studies 1.1 (2005): 9-21. Print.

Fiamengo, Anne. Other selves: animals in the Canadian literary imagination. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2007. Print.

Georgis, Dina. “Hearing the better story: Learning and the aesthetics of loss and expulsion.” The review of education, pedagogy, and cultural studies 28.2 (2006): 165-178. Print.

Ketterer, David. “Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Poe’s Pym (and “Berenice”).” Poe Studies 42.1 (2009): 80-86. Web.

Lapsley, Daniel, and Paul Stey. “Id, Ego, and Superego.” Encyclopaedia of Human Behaviour (2011): 1-9. Print.

Ludwig, Kathryn. “Post secularism and a Prophetic Sensibility.” Christianity and Literature 58.2 (2009): 226. Print.

Martel, Yann. How I Wrote Life of Pi, 2007. Web.

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. Wales: Random House Incorporated, 2007. Web.

Mensch, James. The Intertwining of Incommensurables. Phenomenology and the Non-Human Animal. Netherlands: Springer, 2007. Print.

Nilsen, Don. “Onomastic Play and Suspension of Disbelief in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Onoma 40.1 (2005): 115-124. Print.

Spall, Rafe, and Yann Martel. Life of Pi. Netherlands: Springer, 2013. Print.

Stephens, Gregory. “Feeding Tiger, Finding God: Science, Religion, and” the Better Story” in Life of Pi.” Intertexts 14.1 (2010): 41-59. Print.

Stratton, Florence. Hollow at the core”: Deconstructing Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, 2004. Web.

Thomas, Bindu. “Territory and Power: Towards A Biocentric Reading of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi: A Novel.” Essays in Ecocriticism 1.1 (2007): 182-186. Print.

Thorn, Michael. “Cannibalism, Communion, and Multifaith Sacrifice in the Novel and Film Life of Pi.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 27.1 (2015): 1-15. Print.

Tsai, Jen-chieh. “On the Migration of Pi: Toward a Rhetoric of Identification. “Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée 42.1 (2015): 94-106. Print.

Wolf, Werner. “Migration towards a rewarding goal and multiculturalism with a positive centre: Yann Martel’s Life of Pi as a post-postmodernist attempt at eliciting (poetic) faith.” Canada in the Sign of Migration and TransCulturalism 1.1 (2004): 107-124. Print.

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Survival of the Fittest in Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” Term Paper

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: May 16th, 2020


Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi is a must-read tale that presents great tribulations and the fight for survival in difficult circumstances. The masterwork is an account of the life of a shipwrecked young boy named Piscine Molitor Patel who is commonly nicknamed as Pi. In the novel, the young boy Pi is the only survivor after the ship that happens to be carrying him together with his family sinks because of bad weather. What follows in the aftermath of the shipwreck is an ordeal of survival that takes 227 days before the young boy gets to the show when he is finally rescued. In many ways, the survival of Piscine Molitor Patel is a classic example of Darwin’s theory of natural selection, which is mainly referred to as the survival of the fittest. Indeed, it is evident that by the end, only the fittest category makes to the shore so that they can live to tell the story (Speringer 34).

This paper draws immensely from the events of the 227 days that Pi was in the sea. It also presents his survival story. The goal is to show why Yann Martel’s work is a good example of Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory.

Definition of “Survival of the Fittest”

In the mid-1800s, a scientist by the name Charles Darwin advanced the idea of evolution. In what came to be known as the theory of evolution by natural selection, Darwin asserts that animals and plants alike have evolved over time to their current state through the natural selection process, which explains the subject of animal and body adaptation and specialisation (Darwin 13). In explaining the natural selection, Darwin views organisms as having important traits that guarantee their survival at any given period during their existence. According to the method, the traits that are important for the survival of the organism are preserved and passed on to future generations, while the traits that are not important are eliminated together with the organisms.

For instance, if a prey animal such as antelope must survive, it must be able to outpace the predator. In such a scenario, only the fast antelopes stand a chance to survive for long by passing on their genes or traits to the next generations. On the other hand, the predator will catch the antelopes that are not fast enough. Hence, they end up dying before they can pass on their traits to the succeeding generation of antelopes (Crawford and Krebs 23).

In other words, they will be selected against by nature. Gradually, only the fast antelopes will exist since they have an advantage over the prey until another trait or changes in the demands of nature will require better traits to ensure further survival. For example, the predator must also adapt to the status of the prey. In the above illustration, if the predator cannot adapt to catch the antelope, assuming it is the only source of food, it will die of starvation. Such adaptations and specialisations are geared towards ensuring that the organisms with the best traits survive while those with inferior traits die, or are selected against by nature.

The selection of the best survival traits is what Darwin refers to as the survival of the fittest. In this survival of the fittest feat, nature is viewed as unpredictable based on its ability to throw many situations that threaten the very survival of an organism in its given environment. The ability to adapt to these natural events determines whether an organism can survive or not (Kaila and Annila 55). Creatures that have important traits for surviving through the specific event are likely to adapt easily and endure the situation while those that are not well equipped with the necessary traits die out (Gregory 157). Borrowing from the Darwin’s survival of the fittest, the story of the Life of Pi is an entire survival account where the best and the fittest are seen surviving the events that they find themselves in. Such events can be viewed as a life and death situation that lasts for more than 227 days in the ocean.

The Background to the Life of Pi and its relation to Survival

When the family zoo can no longer adequately support the family, Pi’s father does what he thinks is best for his family. He seeks greener pastures in Canada. The journey to the new land separates the family from their new dream life. The ship accommodates Pi’s family members together with some of the animals that were initially in the family zoo, which Pi’s father plans to sell once the family arrives in Canada. Pi’s childhood is like that of ordinary children in his native country. He attends public school just like other ordinary children. However, from an early age, Pi shows a great desire for knowledge. This desire is evident when he seeks to study various religions, which include Islam, Hinduism, and Christianity. Further, he also has a great desire to learn about science. Hence, he questions the atheist teachings of his biology teacher, Mr Kumar (Shmoop par.1).

All the exposure to science and religion offers important lessons and approaches to life that will prove very important in his survival quest later in the story. In addition, he learns how to swim as an important skill, which he is the only one who has it in his family. The skill will prove very important on his survival as opposed to his family members. From an early age, his father had exposed Pi to the danger that is characteristic of animals such as the tiger, which despite it appearing seemingly docile still had its animal instincts of killing (Stephens 41). Such experience to danger at an early age exposed Pi to the concepts of fear and danger, all of which are important aspects of survival in difficult situations. While studying the behaviour of animals in zoos, Pi is exposed to the psychology of animals. He learns important lessons about why some animals attack people, despite them seemingly receiving the best treatment. To him, some animals attack people or escape from the zoo because they are not able to re-adapt to the new environment. Others do not feel safe at all. Such a danger is a threat to their survival and hence their attack on humans or outflows from the zoos. The lessons that the reader learns from this masterpiece are important when it comes to handling animals.

They will prove important for the survival of Pi while at sea. Once the journey begins, there is no return. The family is excited that it is going to have a new life at last. However, the joy is short-lived. The ship runs into bad weather. Unfortunately, it is broken down because of weather issues. From the beginning of the tragedy, the struggle for survival begins. At this point, the survival instincts of Pi are set in motion. For the next 227 days, Pi has to make important decisions, as well as use his instincts to ensure his survival.

Survival During and the Aftermath of the Shipwreck

“In the aftermath of the bloody killing of Zebra, A foul and pungent smell, an earthy mix of rust and excrement, hung in the air. There was blood everywhere, coagulating to a deep red crust” (Martel Life of Pi 159)

The above statement from the novel is reflective of the environment where killing and struggling to live have been the talk of the day as each character fights for its life a few days after the journey had begun. After several days on the voyage, Pi and his family members are awoken by loud noises from the ship. The ship is now heavily tilting from a massive storm that has caught them in the middle of the ocean. He moves to the deck to see what is happening and realises that the situation is very dire and that he is in imminent danger of becoming shipwrecked. When he tries to go back and warn his family, he finds that the corridors to the rooms are already waterlogged. Hence, he cannot access them. He then runs back the deck with the intention of asking for help from the crew members who are in the deck (Shmoop par.2).

Instead, he is thrown overboard with a lifejacket and onto a lifeboat. While on the lifeboat, he sees animals drowning and instinctively sets himself to rescue the tiger, Richard Parker, onto the lifeboat. On the boat are other seriously injured animals that include zebra that has a broken leg, a hyena, and a tiger that is Richard Parker. However, as soon as Richard Parker gets onto the lifeboat, Pi realises his mistake and the obvious danger that he (Richard Parker) poses to the survival of the rest of the group, including Pi himself (Cloete 314). He has to flee from the boat and onto a provisional raft, which he makes to float away from the lifeboat while still tied onto the lifeboat. The battle for the fittest has already begun. In the next 227 days, only the fittest will survive and live to tell the story.

When thrown onto the lifeboat by the Japanese crewmembers, Pi later realises that they have used him as bait for the hyena, which is already in the lifeboat. The Japanese crew team has realised the possibility of being shipwrecked and hence has to take the necessary steps by lowering the lifeboat in preparation for any eventuality. However, when a hyena beats the people to the boat, they are torn between jumping, waiting to drown as the ship sinks, and/or being eaten by the Hyena (Street 179). As a response to the survival instinct, the Japanese crew people have to make important decisions.

In this case, they have to sacrifice Pi to distract the hyena as a way of ensuring that they have a safe landing on the boat, as the hyena will be contented. However, fate conspires against them. Before they can jump onto the lifeboat, the ship sinks. Pi is frightened by the loss of his family, as he witnesses the unbearable situation of the ship going down. However, he realises that he is the only person and with him on the boat are the hyena, zebra, and an orang-utan that are taking refuge in the lifeboat (Ketterer 81). When he sees the tiger, Richard Parker, swimming towards the boat, he encourages him until he gets onto the lifeboat.

Once Richard Parker is on the lifeboat, Pi impulsively realises the danger he has put himself in together with the animals on the boat. Darwin’s presumption of the “survival of the fittest” is evident when Pi flees the boat in fear. According to the theory of evolution, through natural selection, fear is an important survival instinct since it allows organisms to flee, rather than face danger. Fleeing a dangerous situation allows an organism to avoid a confrontation that can lead to injuries or death. In the battle between Pi and Richard Parker, it is evident that Parker has an advantage since he is fashioned to kill and hence the reason why fleeing because of fear is the only alternative for Pi. Pi being a human being, has a better reasoning capacity relative to the other animals. Using his intelligence, which is a major survival trait, makes a temporary raft.

He ties it onto the boat away from the tiger. His thoughts when he realises the presence of the tiger on the boat after coming to his senses following the initial shock of the events of the previous night of the sinking of the ship are well captured when he says, “There was a tiger on the lifeboat. I could hardly believe it, yet I knew I had to. I had to save myself” (Martel Life of Pi 195). After fleeing the boat, his reasoning and intelligence are evident in the activities that he undertakes to make the raft. He takes the life jackets and the ropes from the locker to make a raft. Unlike the animals that are in the boat, he can think rationally and/or be driven by reason. Such actions are not strange when a person in danger does them. Indeed, they are very important indicators of a person who can reason. The reasoning is an important survival instinct that Pi will use on many occasions during his stay in the ocean (Martel How I Wrote Life of Pi par.1).

However, the animals in the boat, including the Hyena, Zebra, and the Orang-utan, have no other way out other than sticking onto the boat. Only the fittest animal among them will survive the ocean tribulations.

The situation in the boat is characterised by chaos. It is a battle for the best to survive. Firstly, the hyena is very voracious. It does not hesitate to make a meal out of the other animals. He begins with the injured zebra where he tears off the injured leg at first. In this contest for survival, the zebra is at a disadvantage. It is weak to compete with the strong hyena that has sharp carnivorous teeth that can tear bones and meat with ease. Even in these circumstances, the animals do not show normal behaviour (Dwyer 13).

For instance, a hyena is known to eat large quantities of food in one sitting, yet in this case, he takes time tearing off the injured leg of the zebra first, as if he is planning on the next part to tear. He seems to know that tearing off the injured zebra’s leg will not lead to death and that the longer the zebra stays alive, the longer the food will be available in this journey, which they find themselves in. However, the zebra’s stay is short-lived. The hyena moves swiftly and kills it, an event that to Pi is very stressful and difficult to comprehend. For the first time, Pi understands the wildness, voraciousness, and animalistic tendencies of the hyena, which while in the zoo did not reveal its wild side. It is evident that the battle for survival has taken one soul and that it is unstoppable. In noting and justifying hyena’s ruthlessness, Pi says,

“But even wild animals that were bred in zoos and have never known the wild, that is perfectly adapted to their enclosures and feel no tension in the presence of humans, will have moments of excitement that push them to seek escape. All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive” (Martel Life of Pi 51).

In hyena’s madness, it is evident that he still has the instinct of killing. In fact, he executes the skill with precision by killing the zebra and getting food for himself for the next few days.

After the death of the zebra in the jaws of the voracious hyena, the next animal to be devoured is the orang-utan. To Pi, the orang-utan represents a motherly love. She expresses human traits. In fact, when she first comes on-board the lifeboat, Pi describes how she seems sick and tired. He says, “The poor dear looked so humanly sick! It is a particularly funny thing to read human traits in animals, especially in apes and monkeys, where is so easy” (Martel Life of Pi 152). When the hyena manages to kill the orang-utan, a major fight ensues between the two. Who will win the fight? In terms of capturing the fight between the hyena and orang-utan, Pi points out that the orang-utan had managed to eat the hyena hard and that the fight seemed to be going in her favour. However, the hyena easily outmatches her when it swiftly goes for her throat, thus killing her on the spot.

The ruthlessness of the hyena shows the quest for survival and/or how animals are dangerous and merciless (Duncan 168). With reference to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, or the survival of the fittest, it is evident that the hyena, which has traits that offer an advantage over other animal characters, outshines the orang-utan and the zebra. The zebra is an obvious prey for the hyena, especially now that he is injured. Hence, he (zebra) is a great disadvantage. He becomes an easy prey because he is helpless. On the other hand, although the orang-utan tries to defend herself, the sheer strength of the hyena means that the battle already has its preferred winner. Hence, although the death devastates Pi, it is expected eventually, especially when the battlefield is in the confines of a small lifeboat. Recounting the scene, Pi says,

“Orange Juice lay next to it, against the dead zebra. Her arms were spread wide open, her short legs were folded together and slightly to one side, she looked like a simian Christ on the Cross. Except for her head…She was beheaded. The neck wound was still bleeding. It was a horrible sight to the eyes and the killing to the spirit” (Martel Life of Pi 135).

After the bloody ordeal that occurs on the boat, Pi can see from his raft that the situation is a matter of time before he faces the hyena on a life and death battle. The hyena has proved himself the most ruthless and eager to survive in the lifeboat, even if it means killing all the other characters in the lifeboat. However, it is evident that even in such circumstances, the hyena has few options and that his animal instinct is all focused on survival. It takes advantage of the weak animals or those that have lesser survival traits based on the circumstances that are in the sea (Morace 56).

As Pi contemplates how to best attack and fight the hyena, Parker, the tiger, emerges from the tarpaulin, pounces on the heartless and ruthless hyena, and kills him instantly to Pi’s relief. The turn of events is an important indicator of the survival of the fittest doctrine at work. From the start of the journey in the lifeboat, the hyena has already shown his bloody and ruthless side and his ability to survive, especially at the advantage of the weaker animals, which include the zebra and the orang-utan. Pi, who is almost oblivious of the presence of the hyena, is preparing to fight the hyena. As the situation stands, the hyena is the only danger to his survival. Ideally, the hyena is battle-ready. He is ready to kill to survive. So far, he has had immense success (Thorn 6).

However, when Richard Parker emerges from the tarpaulin, he kills the beastly hyena instantly. It is evident that there is a more powerful survival force in the lifeboat. Richard Parker represents a major obstacle and a threat to the survival of Pi. Pi has to think, reason, and come up with approaches to taming the beast. Pi is aware that the raft will not last for long. Eventually, he will have to face Parker in what he believes will be a battle of life and death.

Survival with Richard Parker

After the death of the other animals that include the zebra, the hyena, and the orang-utan, it is now Richard Parker and Pi who will be battling for survival. Initially, Pi was aware that he stood no chance with Parker since he (Parker the tiger) can kill and that he can be ruthless. Pi knows this fact too well right from his childhood when his father taught the entire family a good lesson after he threw a live goat into Parker’s cage, which was devoured with unimaginable ruthlessness by Parker. Further, the way he kills the hyena with so much ease is evident that he can easily kill Pi (Thomas 183). In response to these thoughts, Pi has fled the boat.

He currently floats on a raft, which he deems is at a safe distance from the lifeboat where Parker is. He has carried some supplies from the lifeboat. Besides, he is aware that the resources can only sustain him for a few days. However, he does not forget to plan on how to handle Parker. Indeed, through reasoning, which is a major survival instinct and an advantage that Pi has over Parker, he comes up with five major plans on how to handle Parker (De Cunha 235). The plans do not reach the execution level because any plan will mean confronting Parker. Based on reasoning, indications are that Parker may triumph. The sixth plan involves Pi killing Parker, although the execution strategy is the main problem. How will he kill Parker? He has no adequate tools to kill the animal. In any case, the probability of being seriously injured or even killed is very high. Hence, it is better to postpone any confrontations for as long as possible.

After staying on the raft for as long as it took, exposure to salty seawater makes Pi develops sores and boils, which are unbearably painful. The raft is also giving into the waves and corrosion of the seawater. It becomes apparent that a confrontation with the tiger is inevitable and hence the reason why he has to come up with the final plan. Initially, his plan to kill tiger seems very valid since instead of confronting the tiger, he thinks the best approach will be to let the tiger die a slow death from hunger and thirst (Duncan 169). However, such thoughts are short sighted. When he thinks about such an approach, he realises that Parker can swim and that the raft is not beyond his (Parker) reach. In recapping his thoughts and fears upon realising the imminent danger that he might face if Parker decides to swim across to the raft, Pi says,

“I have read that there are two fears that cannot be trained out of us: the startle reaction upon hearing unexpected noise, and vertigo. I would like to add a third, to wit, the rapid and direct approach of a known killer” (Martel Life of Pi 331).

To avoid such a situation where Parker has to make Pi his last meal, Pi decides that the seventh plan will involve taming Parker using the skills of handling animals that he obtains while working at the family zoo with his father. The plan is for Pi to establish himself as the alpha using skills other than fighting, which he is sure he cannot win. Using the strategy of taming the tiger, which he has in store, he manages to enter the lifeboat to establish a demarcation zone where the tiger has his area while Pi has his other area, each on the opposite side of the boat. He says that he had no option but taming Parker to stay away from the threat of being killed any time (Spall 14).

In this case, it is evident that Pi realises that instead of living in the fear of Parker or without him at all by killing him, it will be better to tame and coexist with him in this predicament, which only the fittest have survived so far. In the boat, Pi has a reason to live and that is keeping Parker alive for as long as possible. If he keeps Parker alive, he knows that Parker will not have to kill him because he will be getting enough food and water. The situation is a tough challenge, especially when he notes that getting food and water is the biggest encounter. Indeed, getting water to drink appears to be the biggest immediate challenge. In the beginning, Pi uses water rations that are available as part of the survival supplies that are available in the lifeboat (Dwyer 12).

Because he is a person with reason, he focuses on ensuring that the food and water last for as long as possible since he is not sure of how long the remaining journey will take. He also knows that Parker is not a completely tamed animal. Hence, by not providing food and water to him, he may be killed. Instead, Pi focuses on using seasickness and a whistle to demand compliance or subordination of Parker. With time, Parker learns to associate the whistle with seasickness. This way, Pi can easily control Parker with a whistle. He can easily maintain his territory while Parker keeps his region. From the above events, it is evident that the fact that Pi has a higher intelligence is a major advantage. He is able to use it to tame and control Parker and consequently establish himself as the alpha. However, he does not forget that such an advantage can only remain valid if Parker is not hungry and hence the reason why he makes deliberate efforts to ensure that he is well fed.

In all his life, Pi has developed strong religious values, which uphold the importance of life. Indeed, he is a vegetarian. Hence, he has a difficult time trying to abandon his beliefs to become a meat eater. However, survival demands cannot allow him to remain a vegetarian for long (Nilsen 115). He has to learn to kill not only for himself, but also for Richard Parker whose only meal is meat. The struggle between his beliefs and his demands for survival is evident when he encounters the flying fish feast.

Although he manages to catch several fish flying overboard, he feels very guilty for taking away the life of the fish. He regards the act of assassination as killing a rainbow or butchering an innocent creature. Under the circumstances that he is in, he knows that there is no other option. To survive, he has to make this decision. He has to learn how to kill, and most importantly, how to overcome his ‘vegetarianist’ beliefs. Hence, he has to eat meat since it is the only way to survive for him and for Parker. He notes that under the circumstance, an individual can become evil and get used to it. He says, “The scary truth about evil is that, one can get used to anything” (Markel 185). His turn around from vegetarianism to a sworn hunter is a major triumph for the survival instinct and a major indicator of Darwin’s theory of survival. An organism will do anything in its capacity to survive. Consequently, Pi’s actions are a clear indicator of this major shift and the desire for survival (Gregory 158).

Following his first killing, Pi becomes a ruthless hunter who does not feel disgusted to kill. In this process, apart from his survival, he is aware that he must kill enough to keep Parker alive for his safety and survival as well. At the end and after overcoming his initial fears of killing, Pi’s declaration that a person can get used to any evil makes him a ruthless killer. He is no longer disgusted. He no longer appears to struggle or be troubled with killing fish or any other creature that comes his way. His killing becomes the norm. Indeed, it does not seem to be an issue of major concern in the story. He mentions the volumes of food and the varieties together with the brutal methods that are deployed to get the food. For instance, to show his level of brutality, he points to a case where he kills a turtle and drinks its fresh blood, which can be equated to becoming a bloodthirsty individual who is almost equal to an animal. He captures his situation well when he says,

“You may be astonished that in such a short period of time I could go from weeping over the muffled killing of a flying fish to gleefully bludgeoning to death a Dorado. I could explain it by arguing that profiting from a pitiful flying fish’s navigational mistake made me shy and sorrowful, while the excitement of actively capturing a great Dorado made me sanguinary and self-assured. But in point of a fact explanation lies elsewhere. It is simple and brutal: a person can get used to anything even killing” (Martel Life of Pi 234).

The flying fish that pounds the lifeboat area is blessing for Pi and Parker. For the first time, Pi is actively involved in catching and eating as many fish as he can get. In describing the moment, Pi says that the tiger appeared stronger compared to him when it came to getting the fish. Parker is able to get many of them because of his energetic body and malicious character, especially when he sees a prey (Morace 34). Indeed, the behaviour of Parker and the way he ravages the fish is a clear reminder that he still has his animal instinct, a fact that only acts to ensure that Pi is determined to ensure that Parker is well fed.

Another important aspect that emanates from the event relating to Parker’s destructive nature is that Pi seems to admire how Parker is a devastating animal. In his mind, it is a battle of whether he should become as ravage as Parker or retain his morality and humanity. He chooses the latter option. However, this goal can only be achieved by keeping an active diary where he notes the events of his journey as it progresses. He writes on a daily basis until he runs out of pens. It is only through his ability to write to keep memories of his journey that he can at least distinguish himself from Parker, the animal (Dwyer 16). Otherwise, he is not different from Parker in terms of his brutality and his eating habits, which involve eating raw meat and drinking fresh blood from the sea creatures that he manages to catch.

When they are pushed ashore on the carnivorous island, it is a good feeling, especially in the plenty of food that is available in the mysterious islands. The island is full of meerkats, as well as fresh water. In response to their hunger and thirst, Pi and Parker begin a serious eating session where they kill and eat many meerkats. A good case in point of their ruthlessness is evident when Pi tries to sooth his legs with the blood of several meerkats that he kills in the island. When the nightfall comes, Pi and Parker soon realise that it is not just an island, but also a carnivorous one, which consumes all animals that are unlucky to be on the surface. The lucky animals flee to trees while Parker has to flee to the lifeboat.

The events of the carnivorous island are also an important example of survival of the fittest. Animals that have the necessary traits to climb trees or run out of the island as Parker did are the ones that escape being eaten. Pi has climbs on a tree. The following day, Pi has to make an important decision to proceed with his journey because it is not the place he would wish to stay without civilisation, although the island is full of food and fresh water. He says,

“By the time morning came, my grim decision was taken…I preferred to set off and perish in search of my own kind than to live a lonely half-life of physical comfort and spiritual death on this murderous Island” (Martel Life of Pi 357).

Although the decision may seem misplaced to many people, it is indeed a triumph of reason over survival. Human beings are social beings. Hence, staying alone in this island is a wrong decision. Pi and Parker have already survived in the open sea. Hence, it appears only logical to know that they will survive again until the time they will be swept onshore or get spotted by a ship and be taken to safety. When they are finally spotted and rescued on the shores of Mexico, it becomes evident that only the fittest characters have survived. It takes more than just the survival instinct, but also reason, for Pi and Richard Parker to last for 227 days in the ocean.


The novel Life of Pi is indeed a tale of survival of the fittest. Survival of the fittest is a term that was coined in relation to the theory of evolution through natural selection by Charles Darwin. The theory holds that only organisms that have the right and advanced survival traits for a given situation in the environment survive while the others die. At the start of the Life of Pi and immediately after the shipwreck, very few animals together with Pi can survive. Hence, the battle for survival begins. The zebra is the first to die followed by the orang-utan, all in the jaws of the voracious hyena. It is evident that the hyena is fit for the battle at that stage, although Richard Parker, the tiger, later kills him.

On the other hand, Pi has to find ways of dealing with Parker. Using reason, which is a major survival instinct and an advantage, he is able to tame and control Parker. Survival demands make Pi overlook his beliefs that relate to life. He becomes a killer. In fact, he abandons his vegetarianism ideology to safeguard his survival and that of Richard Parker. He is aware that it is only by keeping Richard Parker fed and quenched that he stands a chance to live. If Parker gets hungry, the beast can easily eat him. At the end of the story, Parker and Pi are the only survivors because they have proved the fittest in the life and death situation that has prevailed in the lifeboat.

Work Cited

Cloete, Elsie. “Tigers, Humans and Animots.” JLS/TSW 23.3 (2007): 314-333. Print.

Crawford, Charles, and Dennis Krebs. Handbook of evolutionary psychology: Ideas, issues, and applications. Netherlands: Springer, 2013. Print.

Darwin, Charles. The origin of species by means of natural selection: or, the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2009. Print.

De Cunha, Rubelise. “MARTEL Yann.” Life of Pi: a novel”. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2001.” Interfaces Brasil/Canadá 3.1 (2012): 235-242. Print.

Duncan, Rebecca. “Life of Pi as postmodern survivor narrative.” Mosaic: a journal for the interdisciplinary study of literature 41.2 (2008): 167-176. Print.

Dwyer, June. “Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and the Evolution of the Shipwreck Narrative.” Modern language studies 1.1 (2005): 9-21. Print.

Gregory, Ryan. “Understanding natural selection: essential concepts and common misconceptions.” Evolution: Education and Outreach 2.2 (2009): 156-175. Print.

Kaila, Ville, and Arto Annila. “Natural selection for least action.” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 464.2099 (2008): 55-76. Print.

Ketterer, David. “Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and Poe’s Pym (and “Berenice”).” Poe Studies 42.1 (2009): 80-86. Print.

Martel, Yann. How I Wrote Life of Pi, 2007. Web.

Martel, Yann. Life of Pi. Wales: Random House Incorporated, 2007. Print.

Morace, Robert. “Life of Pi.” Magill’s Literary Annual 2003. Literary Reference Centre. Columbus: Mississippi for Women Lib, 2003. Print.

Nilsen, Don. “Onomastic Play and Suspension of Disbelief in Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.” Onoma 40.1 (2005): 115-124. Print.

Shmoop, Mitchell. Life of Pi Summary, 2015. Web.

Spall, Rafe, and Yann Martel. Life of Pi. Netherlands: Springer, 2013. Print.

Speringer, Markus. Survival of the Fittest!?. Netherlands: Springer, 2012. Print.

Stephens, Gregory. “Feeding Tiger, Finding God: Science, Religion, and” the Better Story” in Life of Pi.” Intertexts 14.1 (2010): 41-59. Print.

Street, Steve. “Life of Pi (review).” The Missouri Review 27.1 (2004): 179-180. Print.

Thomas, Bindu. “Territory and Power: Towards A Biocentric Reading of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi: A Novel.” Essays in Ecocriticism 1.1 (2007): 182-186. Print.

Thorn, Michael. “Cannibalism, Communion, and Multifaith Sacrifice in the Novel and Film Life of Pi.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 27.1 (2015): 1-15. Print.

This term paper on Survival of the Fittest in Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

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Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary Explicatory Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jun 24th, 2019

Literary realism refers to a style that faithfully portrays life and interprets the actualities of all the aspects of reality. The literary style emerged as a reaction to the clouded literary conventions, misplaced esthetic glorification, and excessive beautification of the universe presented by romanticism.

As a literary technique, realism stands out from the other styles due to its four major defining characteristics. One of these characteristics is that realism is more concerned with characters than the plot.

The second defining feature of realism is that its portrayal of reality is in comprehensive and vivid details.

Thirdly, the language used by realists is not overly heightened or poetic.

Finally, literary realism stands out as a result of its emphasis on the moral conflicts in the middle class. Leo Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary are outstanding texts that uniquely exhibit the defining aspects of realism.

Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary is widely acclaimed for its realistic portrayal of normal life scenarios. It presents an unadorned description of people in their daily life activities. The reality as experienced through the author’s eyes is completely unaffected by any subjectivities of the author.

As such, the text features carefully selected and planned events and incidents. As a result of this, the novel avoids the redundancy and boredom that many associate with literary realism.

For example, the author’s calculated selection of real life events in Madame Bovary is depicted in the context where Emma Bovary is fantasizing about a midnight wedding under the light of torches, an idea that her father dismisses as nonsensical (56).

This part contrasts sentimental romanticism with the unsympathetic realities of life. The reality emerges triumphant following the downfall of Emma, who represents romanticism and her father who represents the real world.

As a result of lacking the realistic appreciation of life, Emma Bovary lacks the true picture of what life should be.

In a similar manner, Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is considered by many critics as a vivid reconstruction of the Russian experience. Literary, the text betrays its association with the realistic school of thought.

This is due to its emphasis on sincerity, simplicity, the deliberate avoidance of style to elaborate on minute life details, and the use of a normal tone that lacks the artificiality of poetic language. By contrasting the main characters in the story (Anna and Levin), the author, manages to reveal the weaknesses of both.

As such, Levin is presented as an all-round character and not a simplified hero, and Anna is portrayed not as a simplified villain but as a normal human. Her humanness is revealed by depicting the various aspects of her life such as her social life (Tolstoy 245).

The writers depict the dullness of people’s lives without making the texts boring to the readers. The astuteness of the writers makes the explication of ordinary situations rather intriguing without any exaggerations. The readers get a three-dimensional effect of the characters as a result of the detailed descriptions.

In this regard, the characters are perceived as tangible by the audience. Even the metaphors that the authors use are directly picked from the real life. For instance, in describing some houses, Flaubert states that they are “like fur caps pulled down over the eyes” (86).

The titles of literary texts play a very significant role in selling the contents. Through the titles of the two texts, the authors manage to hints about the contents of the texts to the readers. As such, the audience is prepared in advance for what they should expect in the respective texts.

The fact that literary realism gives more emphasis to characters than the plot is depicted in the selection of the respective titles.

The title Anna Karenina is derived from the name of the central character in the novel. The author makes it known to the audience that the character is essential to the story, and that arouses a sense of curiosity in the readers.

The readers want to explore why the author has chosen the particular character’s name as the title of his article. This prompts a critical reading of the text. On a similar note, Gustave Flaubert uses the name of the main character in the novel as the title of his text.

The other effect realized by the choice of character names in literary texts such as Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary is that the audience is prepared to expect a real life story involving the real life experiences of the characters.

This is entirely different from when the title of the story is a description of a place or a symbolic name. Both texts manage to suggest realism even before readers engage the text.

The texts focus on the moral dilemmas that are rampant in the middle classes. This is achieved through the characters whose names constitute the titles of the texts.

Both Flaubert’s and Tolstoy’s texts are considered as successful depictions of reality in their different contexts.

Through the careful selection of real life events, the use of a natural language, the emphasis on the characters rather than the plot, and the vivid description of scenarios and characters, the novels explicate the magical sensation that realistic texts are capable of presenting to their readers.

The titles of the texts are also derived from character names adding to the realism effect of the novels.

Works Cited

Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Trans. Francis Steegmuller. New York: Random House, 1957. Print.

Tolstoy, Leo. Anna Karenina: A Novel in Eight Parts. Trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. New York, NY: Penguin, 2002. Print.

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The comparison of the three works of Woolf, Lawrence and Hardy Research Paper

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Apr 29th, 2019

Analysis of the key features of each, finding the elements of the authors’ signature styles and deducing the influence of modernism in the given works

The shift of the emphasis from the depiction of events taking place in the outer world to the inner world of the main protagonist is one of the most significant features characteristic of modernist novels. By applying the stream-of-consciousness technique and the method of literary impressionism, novelists intentionally revealed the deficiency of singular focalization limited to the experience and perception of single protagonists.

This paper will discuss the stream-of-consciousness technique used by Woolf in The Mark on the Wall, the embedded vision used by Lawrence in The Horse Dealer’s Daughter and the vision illusion used by Hardy in On the Western Circuit as the elements of the authors’ signatures and identify the common modernist features found in these three stories.

Stream-of-consciousness as the specific feature of The Mark on the Wall by Woolf

Though the first attempts to use a stream-of-consciousness technique were made by realists, this literary form as a mix of memories, expectations, emotions and unexpected associations simultaneously arising in the person’s mind is attributed to modernism (Kern 87). This uniquely interesting technique was used by Virginia Woolf in The Mark on the Wall which was recognized as a manifest of modernism (Leech 136).

Regardless of the seeming spontaneity and inconsequentiality of the writing style used by Woolf in The Mark on the Wall, readers can follow the train of thoughts of the main protagonist. Though everyone experiences a free flow of thoughts and impressions, the ability to put it into writing depends upon the writers’ knowledge of how other minds think and other bodies feel (Leech 143).

Therefore, the syntactic structures, parenthetic sentences, repetitions and contrasts used by the author demonstrate Woolf’s profound understanding of the process of thinking and ability to put complicated thinking processes into simple words.

The repetition of the phrase ‘the mark on the wall’ shows how obtrusive this idea appears to be for the protagonist. The definite articles used for both nouns from the very beginning show that the idea has occurred to the character previously and the background of the story is concealed from readers.

Woolf’s literary experiment of the stream-of-consciousness writing blurs the dividing lines between different genres, including a story, an essay and a diary entry. By blending the opposites of reality and fantasy, inner and outer experiences, the author creates a unique framework.

To reveal the process of spontaneous thinking and inner monologue of the main protagonist, Woolf uses exclamations, interjections and response forms. The stand-alone constructions and the use of the response forms produce an impression that the inner monologue is fragmented and misses certain linking elements. For instance, the protagonist admits: “Yes, it must have been winter time” (Woolf 2424).

In this sentence the protagonist gives a response to the question that was never voiced. However, readers can make certain guesses and fill in the gaps in the narration. Additionally, Woolf inserts a number of parenthetical sentences into the longer ones, destructing the linearity of the text. It makes the text to resemble the process of associative thinking which cannot be reproduced in simple linear sentences.

The interjections and exclamations used by the author make the inner monologue more emotional. “Oh! dear me, the mystery of life; the inaccuracy of thought! The ignorance of humanity!” (Woolf 2424). The progressive structures are used to reproduce the add-on principle dominating in everyday speech. “Yes, it must have been the winter time, and we had just finished out tea, for I remember that I was smoking a cigarette when I looked up and saw the mark on the wall for the first time” (Woolf 2424).

According to the grammar rules, this sentence is too long. However, the author does not divide it into shorter ones, attempting to show the spontaneity and speed with which these thoughts run through the protagonist’s mind.

The stream of consciousness used by Woolf in The Mark on the Wall portrays the process of thinking as an active and adventurous process, taking place in real time with its dynamics and undergoing the influence of external factors (Leech 143).

The embedded vision as the peculiarity of The Horse Dealer’s Daughter by Lawrence

The technique of narrowing and expanding vision which was characteristic of modernism was used by Lawrence in The Horse Dealer’s Daughter for structuring this short story (Kern 183). Additionally, the theme of vision and physical sight interrelated with the motifs of understanding and feeling is closely connected to the concept of self-identity of the main characters.

Touching upon an important philosophical question of body-mind dualism, Lawrence treats the eye as an instrument of physical sight in the first part, narrowing the vision of the narration and refers to it as a sentient organ in the second part of the narration, expanding the vision. The author’s attempt to show the relativity of physical vision which can be rather delusive is compatible with the modernism principle of embedded vision.

At the beginning when the vision is narrow, the first example of treating physical sight as a fruitless attempt to understand the outer world takes place when the doctor meets Mabel for the first time. “At this point Mabel rose from the table, and they all seemed to become aware of her existence… The young doctor looked at her, but did not address her” (Lawrence 2593).

Therefore, the doctor did not notice her previously even though she has been sitting in front of him. It shows how limited the physical vision can be because of the individual’s perspective. The second glance passes between Fergusson and the girl when he notices her at her mother’s grave at the cemetery.

Though this circumstance is concealed from readers and the doctor at this point, the girl intends this glance to be her last act before she drowns herself. Regardless of the intensity of this glance and the overall situation, the doctor’s vision appears to be only a fruitless attempt to understand it.

Taking into account the fact that readers are no aware of the girl’s intentions either, it can be stated that the vision of the narration is initially narrowed to the doctor’s perspective. The situation and the vision changes after Fergusson sees the girl go into the pond to drown herself. At this moment, the physical sight enabled the character to understand and interpret the meaning of the situation and the girl’s secret was revealed.

After the doctor throws himself into the pond to rescue Mabel, in the water of the pond the two of them lose their sight for a short period of time and vision changes after they go out from the water. “The pond remains an important point of mediation between the earlier focus on sight and the subsequent focus on the eye itself” (Bell 104).

Analyzing the situation in the pond and the following scenes, it can be stated that the doctor saves the girl and the girl saves the doctor because she appears to be the one in need. Mabel saves Fergusson from his loneliness and isolation. After the episode, the secrets are revealed and the characters look into the eyes of each other, perceiving the eyes as the windows of the soul.

The physical sight is closely related to vision and self-identity of characters. After losing sight for a few moments in the pond and expanding vision after going out of the pond, the doctor and the horse dealer’s daughter modify their personal identities.

Lawrence found the proper balance between the divine and trivial in depicting everyday reality of the male-dominated world in which his characters live and in which the girl is treated as the daughter of a horse dealer. The alteration of the vision, an open ending and involvement of readers into the process of interpreting the text of The Horse Dealer’s Daughter by Lawrence can be regarded as indicators of Lawrence’s individual signature in the modernism movement.

The vision illusion in On the Western Circuit as an element of Hardy’s style

The vision illusion created by a roundabout has become a starting point of the love affair between the main characters of On the Western Circuit by Hardy. The aspect of the vision distorted because of the limitation of the personal perspective of characters as a feature characteristic of modernism has become an element of Hardy’s signature in this short story.

The delusion starts after Charles sees Anna on the roundabout for the first time and is intensified during their epistolary romance when Edith writes letters to Charles under the name of Anna who is illiterate. The juxtaposition between the urban phenomenon of the steam engine, roundabout and the rural life of the housemaid Anna can be attributed to Hardy’s complicated criticism of modernity and Britain’s policies concerning the imperial ventures overseas (Morgan 563).

The steam circuses not only hide certain aspects of reality from the viewers, but also create an illusion that becomes preferable to reality. Therefore, when Anna is spinning by on the roundabout and Charles is looking at her, under the influence of the visual mistake and the consequent queer emotion, the two of them delude themselves.

Charles believes that Anna is a girl he loves madly, while Anna becomes certain that she has chosen Charles herself. Therefore, the delusive image of a pretty girl spinning by on the roundabout becomes a starting point of the visual illusion and self-fraud of the main characters which would have been impossible in the ante-industrial era.

The second aspect contributing to the self-delusion of the main characters is the influence of writing upon them. Edith, who has written letters to Charles signing them with Anna’s name and read Charles’ responses to illiterate Ann, undergoes the influence of this correspondence and believes that she is Charles’ real correspondent and she has fallen in love with him in the course of their epistolary romance.

Additionally, Edith believes that their correspondence has the same effect upon Charles. After witnessing the marriage ceremony between Ann and Charles, Edith is disappointed. “’I have ruined him!’ She kept repeating. ‘I have ruined him; because I would not deal treacherously toward her!’” (Hardy 1934). After Edith tells Charles about the fraud with correspondence, he keeps repeating that she has ruined him.

However, Hardy shows that physical attraction is still stronger in creating bonds between a man and a woman than writing because Charles chooses Ann. Moreover, the main reason for the self-deception of the main characters is even deeper than visual illusion created by roundabout or the effects produced by writing.

One of the fundamental causes of their self-deception is their self-betrayal and the loss of identity. The characters deny not only their true features, but also their very names, betraying themselves and ready to betray others.

Therefore, the different levels of illusion and betrayal affecting vision of the main characters are peculiar elements of Hardy’s style in On the Western Circuit.

The comparison of the visions and the modernist features of the three stories

Notwithstanding the striking difference between the three stories under analysis and the peculiarities of the writer’s individual signatures, all of them have common features characteristic of the modernist aesthetics that influenced all of them.

The first and one of the most significant aspects is the language used by Woolf, Lawrence and Hardy. Event though the stream-of-consciousness technique in its pure form was used only by Woolf, Lawrence and Hardy chose other ways for revealing the conscious and sometimes even unconscious processes in their characters.

Despite the fact that Lawrence conceals Mabel’s inner monologues which took place in her consciousness before she goes to the pond to drown herself, this character shows the tension of her thoughts through her gaze which is defined as dangerous and frightening by the author. Edith as the character of Hardy’s story deludes herself that she falls in love with Charles.

Though Edith’s thoughts preceding her decision to say the truth to Charles are mostly concealed from readers, they can make guesses judging by the following development of the events. Additionally, the omission of certain episodes and active involvement of readers into the process of interpretation of the text which is characteristic of modernist discourse is evident in these stories (Childs 211).

The elliptical sentences and unpredictable associations used by Woolf in the inner monologue of the main protagonist require readers’ efforts for filling in the gaps in the chain of thoughts. Lawrence conceals Mabel’s intentions before she goes into the water of the pond so that the readers could reproduce her thinking process in their imagination.

Hardy conceals the thoughts and feelings of Edith until the concrete moment. Therefore, apart from the open endings of the three stories which offer variety of possible interpretations, Woolf, Lawrence and Hardy leave gaps in their texts for the purpose of involving readers into the active process of interpreting them.

Developing the theme of consciousness and thinking process, it should be noted that the authors emphasize the limitation of individual perspective by shifting the vision of their stories. Thus, the main protagonist of Woolf’s story cannot identify the origin of the mark on the wall until the unknown interlocutor intervenes into the inner monologue.

The doctor as the main protagonist of Lawrence’s story The Horse Dealer’s Daughter cannot understand Mabel’s gazes until he sees her going into the pond. The self-deception as the result of the vision illusion of the main characters becomes an important point of the plot of On the Western Circuit.

Therefore, by shifting the vision, narrowing and then expanding it, the authors show readers how limited their own views can be. Importantly, the theme of the false romantic correspondence as one of the generators of self-fraud in Hardy’s story reveals the potential impact of writing upon readers in its exaggerated form.

Though readers’ active involvement is required for decoding the messages conveyed in the three stories, the techniques chosen by the authors doubtlessly had an important impact upon the readers’ perceptions and responses.

Notwithstanding the significant differences in the main plot lines of the stories under consideration and the peculiarities of the individual signatures of their authors, the emphasis on the conscious and subconscious process of the main protagonists, active involvement of readers into the process of interpreting the stories and shifts of the vision are characteristic of the three stories and compatible with modernism aesthetics.


Comparing and contrasting the techniques used by Woolf in The Mark on the Wall, Lawrence in The Horse Dealer’s Daughter and Hardy in On the Western Circuit, it can be stated that working in the frames of modernism aesthetics, these authors managed to preserve their unique signatures, combining them with the features characteristic of the movement.

Regardless of the differences in the techniques and themes developed by Woolf, Lawrence and Hardy, these novelists put emphasis upon the readers’ active involvement into the process of interpreting their texts and focused on the inner mental lives of their characters, showing that their perceptions can significantly differ from reality.

Works Cited

Bell, Michael. Literature, Modernism and Myth: Belief and Responsibility in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Print.

Childs, Peter. Modernism. 2nded. New York, NY: Routledge, 2008. Print.

Hardy, Thomas. “On the Western Circuit.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature.Ed. Stephen Greenblatt and Meyer Howard Abrams. 8thed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. Print.

Kern, Stephen. The Modernist Novel: A Critical Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.

Lawrence, David Herbert Richards. “The Horse Dealer’s Daughter.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt and Meyer Howard Abrams. 8thed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. Print.

Leech, Geoffrey. Language in Literature: Style and Foregrounding. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2008. Print.

Morgan, Rosemarie. The Ashgate Research Companion to Thomas Hardy. Farnham, UK: Ashgate Publishing, 2010. Print.

Woolf, Virginia. “The Mark on the Wall.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature.Ed. Stephen Greenblatt and Meyer Howard Abrams. 8thed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2006. Print.

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Reflecting the Concept of Social Rank in Courtly Texts: Methods and Strategies. Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jan 14th, 2020


Defining the specifics of social relationships and analyzing the principles in accordance with which these relationships develop is, perhaps, one of the most complicated tasks for a writer of courtly texts.

Because of a large variety of factors, starting with the complexity of the leadership model adopted by the head of the state, up to the structure of the society in question and the traditions of the time, the means of defining social ranks turns into a major problem.

However, with the help of an array of literary tools, the authors of some of the most famous courtly texts, Benvenuto Cellini with his Vita and Baldesar Castiglione in his The Book of the Courtier manage to nail down the specifics of social relationships in a very accurate manner.

One of the most famous representatives of courtly texts writers, Castiglione used assorted methods of introducing his idea of social ranks in court.

Although his concept of social ranks was also largely based on the idea of masculinity, Castiglione used different tools in order to convince the reader in the necessity to follow the principles of gender profiling. The examples of gender based social ranking within the court system can be found throughout the text: “I bear to women as these ladies think, but for my own good”1.

However, some researchers argue that Castiglione was, in fact, the first to suggest that the courtly relationships between men and women should be based on the principles of chivalry, along with the ideas of “kindness and noble courtesy”2.

Therefore, apart from masculinity, nobility principles should be mentioned as the elements required for the court social rankings to base on, Castiglione explained3. Castiglione’s text is a perfect example of humanist principles working their way into the society of the XV century.

Another peculiar concept that Castiglione seems to cling to concerns the phenomenon that Bernard4 defined as rhetoric of exemplification. Not only does it allow envisioning the court system in motion, but also link the actual reader and the internal reader.

In contrast to Castiglione, Cellini uses more obvious methods to define social ranks. In fact, Cellini disregards the idea of incorporating more subtle literary devices and shifts the emphasis from a slight mimicry of social relationships in his work, as Castiglione suggests, to downright instructing on the principles that social relationships must be based on.

When it comes to defining the specifics of Cellini’s writing style, one must give him credit for using the imagery created throughout his work to his advantage. Not only does he mold characters efficiently, but also knows how to use them to make an impression on the reader.

One of the most obvious “instructions” concerns the way in which Cellini envisions male – female relationships. Cellini obviously insists on male superiority, nearly comparing women to objects at some point of his work: “As a background to the women, there was spread an espalier of natural jasmines in full beauty”5.

The given objectification of women often occurs on Cellini’s reminiscences, and is in most cases made by the narrator: “Now I must make you understand that the woman is mine”6.

Another tool used by Cellini in his attempt to describe the system of social ranking within the court system, the transition from an artisan to an artist also deserves a proper mentioning7. In fact, Cellini reinvented the entire concept of being a courtier, stressing the significance of art as the means to separate the position of a courtier and any other position that a civilian may possibly take.

Finally, such tool as self-representation deserves a thorough scrutiny. Indeed, when considering the approach that Benvenuto Cellini uses to describe the principles of social relationships and the concept of social rank, one will inevitably realize that the author does not analyze the environment that already exists but, instead, molds it in accordance with his vision of society.

As a result, Cellini resorts to the methods that can be defined as mimesis. When taking a closer look at his work, one will eventually note that Cellini creates a model of social behavior for people to comply with and, therefore, defines the existing social ranks instead of providing his commentary on the already existing ones.

Though hardly being a literary device, self-representation still makes the structure of social rank seem more palatable, since it allows defining the leader and, therefore, tracing the course of the directions that shape the society and grant its members with particular social ranks.

According to Gardner, the given model adds an artistic touch to the strategy chosen by Cellini; she states explicitly that Cellini’s Viva broke new grounds as “an example of an individual’s attempt to mold his own reputation and historical legacy through a cohesive literary representation of his personality and his art”8.

One should give Cellini credit for his idea of using masculinity as the key tool for defining the principles of social ranking. The given tool works rather well in the context of the text, yet hardly seems efficient on its own.

Another tool that serves its purpose of defining the specifics of the social stratification of the era and at the same time convinces the audience is a careful stylization of the text.

It is remarkable that the choice of vocabulary made by the author has stood the test of time successfully: “the autobiography makes things easy by addressing the reader in a comfortable, if stylized, English […]. A measure of the status of these translations has been the fact that no one ties to replace them with fresh, modern ones”9.

Thus, the use of masculinity principles defines the roles that men and women are supposed to take within the court by stressing the necessity for the former to participate within the system, and for the latter to remain a part of the background.

It is quite peculiar that the process of objectification of women is practically described in Cellini’s book as he mentions the process of sculpting a lily, which serves as the metonymy for Gismondo’s wife (whose name is actually never mentioned in the book): “I promised the jewel should be twice as good as the model.”10

Correspondingly, Cellini assumes that women are not supposed to take active part in court meetings, as well as they must not offer and, worse yet, defend their point of view in court; on the contrary, women are viewed as damsels, the pretty faces that are not expected to have any significance of the court processes and course of events.

Consequently, the manifestation of the artistic autonomy seems like the next obvious stem in Cellini’s design of social structure within the court. Apart from making it clear that a member of the court has to undergo a transformation from an artisan into an artist, Cellini states that the latter is supposed to enjoy artistic autonomy for his actions to have a tangible effect on the artist’s subjects.

It is worth stressing that Cellini uses a hyperbole to prove his point by claiming that artistic leaders “made a crown of artistic glory for their city above anything the world had seen”11, which shows that his means of reflecting the social rank were rather harsh and straightforward.

The differences in the methods chosen by the authors in question are defined largely by the goals that these authors pursued in writing their books.

While Castiglione was clearly trying to shed some light on the events of the epoch and provide a fairly decent account of the latter, Cellini was obviously trying to strengthen his power over the nation even more. As a result, the representation of the social rank in two texts did not quite match, Cellini’s one being more focused on the subordination issue

When it comes to defining the differences in the way that Cellini and Castiglione described the social ranks of their time period, it should be mentioned that Castiglione used a wide range of tools that served their own unique purpose and were to reflect the true state of the society.

It is obvious that Cellini’s take on the representation of the social ranking in his courtly autobiography is more than obvious – it is a straightforward, in your face manifestation of Cellini’s viewpoint, which is far from being democratic.

The author clearly puts his stake on the expressivity of his arguments and the convincingness of his speech, which can be easily traced in the numerous reiterations of certain elements of his argument.

The aforementioned masculinity, therefore, ousts the very idea of democratic relationships, as well as democratic attitudes towards women; quite on the opposite, masculinity serves as the means to subdue women to the dominance of men and to subdue any attempts of resistance against it.

In many ways, Cellini’s self-representation defines the manner in which social ranks were depicted in courtly texts of the time.

Castiglione, on the opposite, prefers to express his idea of the court members’ social roles and the position of men and women in court in a more discrete manner12. In addition, Castiglione does not seem to rely on his authority among readers when defining the key principles of social ranking in court.

Instead, the author decides to integrate the principle of masculinity, which still remains the key to arranging court’s social ranks, together with the idea of introducing gentlemanly manners, as Hinz defined Castiglione’s strategy13.

The given method works rather well with the target audience, even though it lacks the persistence that Cellini’s work has. Cavallo, in her turn, makes it obvious that Castiglione uses portrait as the key tool in his representation of social ranks in court.

In contrast to Cellini, Castiglione adopts – or, at the very least, pretends to adopt – an objective viewpoint by having several narrators in his story and, therefore, drawing a portrait of a courtier by using what is supposed to be several opinions.

The efficacy of the given method is amplified by the fact that the narrators do not seem to agree on their visions of a courtier: “the critics have uncovered tensions on various forms which threaten to disrupt the game and to expose deep rifts under the elegant courtly veneer”14.

Defined as the engagement of both the actual reader and the internal reader into the argument, the given method works quite well and is much more subtle than the one that was chosen by Cellini. According to Bernard, “Hence from the vantage point of the author the limited, indeed parochial, perspective of his text’s interlocutors stands in contrast to his own hard-won prudential knowledge” (Bernard 34).

However, the aforementioned does not mean that Castiglione disregards the idea of using masculinity in his writing. There are evident traces of the chauvinist concepts in his work as well, which signify that the court was still organized in accordance with the idea of male dominance.

Nevertheless, Castiglione uses other tools apart from masculinity principle in his work, which can be explained by his lack of certainty regarding the efficacy of masculinity in his persuasion.

It should be noted, though, that the given authors were not the only ones who resorted to the integration of masculinity ideas into the principles that the court was guided by; as recent researches show, a number of theorists considered masculinity and the dominance of men in the court as the only legitimate principle that the latter could be organized by.

Apart from the concept of masculinity and the gender issue in general, the authors make efficient use of a range of literary devices, including hyperbole and reiterations of the argument throughout the work. However, compared to the aforementioned distinctive feature of both works, the given devices can be seen as minor ones.


It would be wrong to assume that the methods of reasoning used by the two authors are impeccable; more to the point, they are rarely objective. However, what one cannot deny these authors with their methods is the efficacy of the latter.

Although the emphasis on masculinity as the necessary feature of court social relationships is being stressed by both authors, Cellini seems to be more persistent with his chauvinist concepts, while Castiglione clearly attempts at introducing the elements of chivalry into the courtly relationships between men and women.

In addition, Cellini, being obsessed with the idea of power, sees the social ranking system as the means to reinforce his influence among the representatives of the court, thus, stating blatantly that he needs to use the existing court system to his advantage.

While the given principle works bizarrely well on the target audience of Cellini, Castiglione understandably avoids black-and-white judgments, preferring to introduce the principles of courtesy into his system of social rankings.

Each work clearly serving its purpose, it can be assumed that the tools used by both writers to represent the concept of social ranking within the court system are fully justified, though not quite appropriate in the XXI century. A product of their time, the given tools perform their social function well enough for their authors to be credited as innovators.


Bernard, John, ‘Formiamo un Cortegian’: Castiglione and the Aims of Writing,’ MLN 115 (2000), pp. 34–63.

Castiglione, Baldesar, Ct. ‘Book of the Courtier,’ in Project Gutenberg. Web.

Cavallo, Joan, ‘Joking Matters: Politics and Dissimilation in Castiglione’s Book of the Courier,’ Renaissance Quarterly 53 (2000), pp. 402–424.

Cellini, Benvenuto, ‘Autobiography,’ trans. By John Addington Symmons, in Project Gutenberg. Web.

Creighton, Gilbert, ‘Cellini’s Other Medium: His Writings and Their Reception,’ Studies in the Decorative Art 14 (2006–2007), pp. 19–25.

Gardner, Victoria, ‘Homines non Nascuntur, Sed Figuntur: Benvenuto Cellini’s Vita and Self-Presentation of the Renaissance Artist,’ The Sixteenth century Journal 28 (1997), pp. 447–465.

Hinz, Manfred, ‘Castiglione, Gracián, and the Foundation of Gentlemanly Manners in Early Modern Europe,’ in Dietmar Schloss, ed. Civilizing America: Manners and Civility in American Literature and Culture (Heidelberg, Germany: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2009), pp. 2-18

Richards, Jennifer, ‘Assumed Simplicity and the Critique of Nobility: Or, How Castiglione Read Cicero,’ Renaissance Quarterly 54 (2001), pp. 460-486.

Saccone, Eduardo, ‘The Portrait of the Courtier in Castiglione,’ Italica 64 (1987), pp. 1–18.


1 Castiglione, Baldesar, Ct. ‘Book of the Courtier,’ in Project Gutenberg.

2 Castiglione, Baldesar, Ct. ‘Book of the Courtier,’ in Project Gutenberg.

3 Richards, Jennifer, ‘Assumed Simplicity and the Critique of Nobility: Or, How Castiglione Read Cicero,’ Renaissance Quarterly 54 (2001), pp. 460-486 (p. 462).

4 John Bernard, ‘Formiamo un Cortegian’: Castiglione and the Aims of Writing,’ MLN 115 (2000), pp. 34–63 (p. 35).

5 Cellini, Benvenuto, ‘Autobiography,’ trans. By John Addington Symmons, in Project Gutenberg.

6 Cellini, Benvenuto, ‘Autobiography,’ trans. By John Addington Symmons, in Project Gutenberg.

7 Gardner, Victoria, ‘Homines non Nascuntur, Sed Figuntur: Benvenuto Cellini’s Vita and Self-Presentation of the Renaissance Artist,’ The Sixteenth century Journal, 28 (1997), pp. 447–465.

8 Gardner, Victoria, ‘Homines non Nascuntur, Sed Figuntur: Benvenuto Cellini’s Vita and Self-Presentation of the Renaissance Artist,’ The Sixteenth century Journal, 28 (1997), pp. 447–465 (p. 447).

9 Creighton, Gilbert, ‘Cellini’s Other Medium: His Writings and Their Reception,’ Studies in the Decorative Art 14 (2006–2007), pp. 19–25 (p. 19).

10 Cellini, Benvenuto, ‘Autobiography,’ trans. By John Addington Symmons, in Project Gutenberg.

11 Cellini, Benvenuto, ‘Autobiography,’ trans. By John Addington Symmons, in Project Gutenberg.

12 Saccone, Eduardo, ‘The Portrait of the Courtier in Castiglione,’ Italica, 64 (1987), pp. 1–18 (p. 1).

13 Hinz, Manfred, ‘Castiglione, Gracián, and the Foundation of Gentlemanly Manners in Early Modern Europe,’ in Dietmar Schloss, ed. Civilizing America: Manners and Civility in American Literature and Culture (Heidelberg, Germany: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2009), pp. 2-18 (p.2).

14 Cavallo, Joan, ‘Joking Matters: Politics and Dissimilation in Castiglione’s Book of the Courier,’ Renaissance Quarterly 53 (2000), pp. 402–424 (p. 402).

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Stream-Of-Consciousness Technique: Joyce’s “The Dead” and Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” Essay (Critical Writing)

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Jul 2nd, 2020


Stream of consciousness is a flow of ideas and images without any particular order. Sang discusses that stream of consciousness is “composed of the continual activity of the characters’ consciousness and shower of impressions” (173). Stream of consciousness is associated with direct and indirect interior monologue.

Direct interior monologue includes the characters unuttered thoughts presented in a way that they are unregulated by the author’s language. The indirect interior monologue consists of the character’s thoughts as presented by the omniscient narrator (Sang 173).

Stream of consciousness may be characterized by a continuous flow of words that violate grammatical order. The theme of words may shift from the motif that initialized the process.

Abram & Harpham discuss that a stream of consciousness may be used as an alternative to the omniscient perspective (274). When the story is not being narrated by an all-knowing figure, it gives “the readers the illusion of experiencing events evolving before their own eyes” (Abram & Harpham 274). In this case, the reader can realize the difference between thoughts and actual events.

The stories vary in that ‘The Dead’ is narrated from a third-person point of view while the ‘Heart of Darkness’ is narrated from a first-person point of view. In the Heart of Darkness, Marlow’s vivid descriptions about people and places are closely related to his personal view about them.

One of the characteristic of stream of consciousness is that it consists of “waves upon waves of words” (Cahir 53). In ‘The Dead’, the stream of consciousness is not a continuation of the narrator’s perception. It is Gabriel’s flow of ideas from the conscious mind.

The Dead

The Dead is narrated by an omniscient character. The narrator is able to present the thoughts of Gabriel in an indirect interior monologue. It differs from the Heart of Darkness direct interior monologue. The syntax is presented in correct grammar because it is an indirect interior monologue.

Gabriel stream of consciousness after the conversation with Miss Ivors states, “How cool it must be outside! How pleasant it would be to walk alone, first along the river and then through the park! The snow would be lying on the branches of trees and forming a bright cap on top of the Wellington Monument. How much more pleasant it would be there than at the supper table!” (Joyce 8).

In this part, the stream of consciousness is used to tap the emotions of the reader about the tour to the western part of Ireland. In reality, the tour is unlikely to take place. The reader is able to capture some images even though the real event did not take place. The stream of consciousness is presented as what would have happened if the real event took place.

The author uses exclamation marks to capture the wonder of visiting a new place. It may give the reader the suspense of wanting Gabriel to visit the place as the story progresses. Visiting the western part of Ireland is used in other conversations. It is the author’s means of capturing the reader’s attention on further discussions about the tour.

Joyce uses stream of consciousness on Gabriel after a conversation with her wife. The conversation resulted in the necessity to bring forth childhood memories. Gretta uses teenage memories of a skinny boy. The boy deserved sympathy.

Gabriel forms these images out of consciousness as stated by the narrator, “He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting as a penny-boy for his aunts, a nervous, well-meaning sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealizing his own clownish lusts, the pitiable fatuous fellow he had caught a glimpse of in the mirror” (Joyce 20).

The author is able to intensify the level of sympathy of readers through Gabriel. Chatman discusses that reader has a tendency to “rehearse and comment upon past events” (194). Joyce uses the stream to make the reader reflect upon the moment Gabriel was wondering what would make a woman listen attentively to distant music. The reader may concur with Gabriel that it was unusual.

The syntax for this part is formed from short statements that are separated with commas. It indicates their perpetual flow. The images are formed in Gabriel’s mind one after another.

“He (Gabriel) wondered at his riot of emotions of an hour before. From what had it proceeded? From his aunt’s supper, from his own foolish speech, from the wine and dancing, the merry-making when saying good night in the hall, the pleasure of the walk along the river in the snow” (Joyce 22).

In this stream of consciousness, Gabriel is alone and he tries to link his wife’s behavior to a cause. On this part, the character stream of images strays from the motif. Chatman discusses that the style has no “externally motivated organization of the character’s thoughts nor can the narrator make a selection among them” (194).

He was linking events (possible causes) to the effect (Gretta’s behavior). When he reaches at the image of Aunt Julia, he shifts from causes to pitying Aunt Julia. It shows that the stream of consciousness is almost unconscious (Sang 176).

The stream of consciousness is presented as a fantasy. It captures past events that the reader was unaware of. The narrator captures the moment of their courtship that otherwise would not fit into the context.

Gabriel was taken into a reflection that “A heliotrope envelope was lying besides his breakfast-cup and he was caressing it with his hand. Birds twittering in the ivy and the sunny web of the curtain was shimmering along the floor: he could not eat for happiness. They were standing…” (Joyce 17 & 18).

From the statement “he could not eat for happiness”, it indicates the characteristic of an indirect interior monologue where the author tampers with the order of the flow of ideas. The author uses the moment to explain to the reader Gabriel’s behavior after the presentations in the hall.

There is a contrast of thoughts. His wife thinks about the skinny boy she had in childhood. On the other hand, Gabriel is thinking about the best moments they had together. The reader may pity either Gabriel or the dead boy.

Heart Of Darkness

In The Death, the utilization of stream-of consciousness technique serves primarily the function of emphasizing the plot’s plausibility. The application of the same technique in Conrad’s novel The Heart of Darkness appears to serve the function ensuring the structural validity of the narration.

The author uses stream of consciousness much the same as in The Dead. It is used to capture the wonder of the unknown.

Marlow brainstorms that “Imagine him here – the very end of the world, a sea the color of lead, a sky the color of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina – and going up this river with stores, or orders, or what you like. Sand-banks, marshes, forests, savages, – precious little to eat fit for a civilized man…” (Conrad 8).

Conrad’s stream of consciousness technique is used more often than in The Dead. They are short statements separated by commas to indicate a free flow of images. They are presented from the direct interior monologue. In that case, the author has little influence on the outcome and arrangement of words (Sang 173).

Readers have a hard time shifting from descriptions and explanations given by Marlow to his stream of consciousness. The thoughts are derived from his past experience which he uses to form his expectations of the new places he visits. The following quotation illustrates the statement’s legitimacy.

“The broadening waters flowed through a mob of wooded islands; you lost your way on that river as you would in a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off for ever from everything you had known once -somewhere – far away – in another existence perhaps…” (Conrad 67).

Conrad’s use of stream of consciousness is similar to its use in The Dead where Gabriel gives a description of the western part of Ireland. It generates suspense because the reader develops a longing for the character to visit these places.

Conrad uses the narrator’s stream of consciousness to allow readers to gain knowledge about his past and the kind of person he is. Self-reflecting individuals appear as those who are overwhelmed by their deep-seated irrational fears.

As a result of this, their expression of reality is distorted. Marlow expresses his uncertainty about reality by the statement, “The reality – the reality, I tell you – fades. The inner truth is hidden – luckily, luckily” (Conrad 11). From his massive self reflections, he doubts what he sees from what actually exists.

The reader learns about the character of Kurtz even before they are introduced to him. This is because they have been provided with bits of information about the character from Marlow’s stream of consciousness.

The use of the technique here is similar to its use in The Dead. It creates a longing for the reader to meet the character and the narrator to visit the places he describes. Readers become eager to see the narrator in the actual place.

Conrad uses the narrator’s stream of consciousness to tell the readers about his fondness with the sea. From the short stream, Marlow muses “there it is before you – smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and always mute with an air of whispering, ‘Come and find out’ (Conrad 23).

By showing that Marlow interprets what the wind says, the reader can see the character of a seaman. It would be less effective if the author would allow the narrator to describe himself. People rarely see themselves as other people would. The reader can recognize his familiarity with the sea when he interprets the wind.

In the middle part of the novel, Marlow engages in a prolonged stream of consciousness that tends to justify his behavior of reflection and flow of images. The reflection is almost a page long. The Dead uses stream of consciousness technique of shorter lengths.

Marlow starts his flow with a conviction about truth that “the mind of man is capable of anything – because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future” (Conrad 73). From this perspective, the author assures the reader that Marlow is not completely irrational. He has reasoning and justification.

Marlow thinks that “… Principles won’t do. Acquisitions, clothes, pretty rags – rags that would fly off at the first good shake. No; you want a deliberate belief. An appeal to me in this fiendish row – is there? Very well; I hear; I admit, but I have a voice, too, and for good or evil mine is the speech that cannot be silenced…” (Conrad 73).

Marlow seems to justify his reasons for someone within himself. Sang discusses the importance of the semicolon in ensuring the continuity of the stream in an ungrammatical order (175). The words are almost repetitive. For example, Marlow thinks “I hear; I admit, but I have a voice, too” (Conrad 73). ‘I hear, I admit’ are almost related. They are short statements that can be mistaken for childish talk.

The technique using short related statements is also used in the narrators thought about the slaves. Marlow sympathizes that “… They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now – nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation…” (Conrad 31).

From this illustration, ‘nothing’ is repeated almost immediately. Enemies and criminals are words that contrast. Following the two statements with “they were nothing earthly now” shows a shift from the motif of criminals or enemies. It is similar to Gabriel’s shift from Gretta’s cause of reflection to pitying Aunt Julia (Joyce 22).


Cahir discusses that the technique uses concepts, symbols and images which are the center of the character’s contemplation or meditation (53). It is evident in Marlow’s stream of consciousness about natural environment and Gabriel’s obsession with Miss Ivor’s tour suggestions. Conrad uses short phrases more commonly than Joyce. Joyce almost uses complete sentences to form the technique.

The technique is recognized through the flow of short phrases separated by commas or semi-colon. Cahir discusses that stream of consciousness “assembles words through an association of images, ideas, and emotions rather the continuity of a story” (53). In most cases, ideas are initialized by past images or future expectations.

Works Cited

Abram, Mabie & Geoffrey Harpham. A Glossary of Terms. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.

Cahir, Linda. Literature into Film: Theory and Practical Approaches. Jefferson: McFarland, 2006. Print.

Chatman, Seymour. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. New York: Cornell University Press, 1978. Print.

Conrad, Joseph 1899, Heart of Darkness. PDF file. 22 Mar. 2013. <https://planetpdf.com/planetpdf/pdfs/free_ebooks/Heart_of_Darkness_T.pdf>.

Joyce, James 1914, The Dead. PDF file. 22 Mar. 2013. <https://archive.org/details/TheDead1917/>

Sang, Yanxia. “An Analysis of the Stream of Consciousness Technique in To The Lighthouse.” Asian Social Science. 6.9 (2010):173-179. Web.

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Family Supper and Naema Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Dec 11th, 2019


The best stories are those that draw the reader into the plot, they create a certain level of anticipation, foreboding and incite in the reader the feeling of actually being within the story itself and experiencing the same feelings, the same terror or even the same happiness as the characters within.

In the case of the stories “A Family Supper” by Kazuo Ishiguro and “Naema – Whereabouts Unknown” by Mohammed Dib, the narrator acts as the focal point that draws readers into the story and acts as a means of delving into current events and the back story of the plot points utilized.

Told through narration, “A Family Supper” and “Naema” contribute significantly to a reader’s sense of “living the plot” thereby creating an interesting and entertaining story.

Naema – Shock and Grief

The narrator of Naema contributes to the sense of the reader living the plot through his depiction of the stages of shock, grief and despair. In Naema, readers are presented with the story of an unnamed narrator who is searching for his wife.

The setting of the plot is during the Franco-Algerian war which was rife with instances of inhuman brutality with thousands killed on a massive scale both during the fighting and in the numerous concentration camps (Maerhofer, 204-221).

The narrator in effect describes the feeling of utter helplessness at not being able to find his wife, his consternation at not knowing whether she is alive or dead and his anger at the situation in general. The means of narration within the story is one where the author attempts to convey to the reader the feelings of grief and despair felt by the unnamed narrator through a depiction of the events and the character’s feelings.

In effect, Mohammed Dib attempts to make the character relatable by having him unnamed and making the reader feel as if he/she is in the same situation as the narrator (Maerhofer, 204-221). Evidence of this can be seen in the phrase “Not to know where she is, what they have done to her is a torment” as well as the phrase “wait, that’s all that’s left to us“.

These general statements are relatable to a certain extent given that many people have felt similar despair when presented with the concept of “not knowing” as well as “having to wait”. Such concepts are rife throughout people’s lives and, as such, are easily relatable.

Family Supper – Understanding the Past

The method of narration in the story “The Family Supper” draws readers in to understand the reason why the narrator left without actually stating it outright. While it may not seem evident the following phrase helps to encapsulate the essence of the narration within the story: “We fell silent again. The sound of locusts came in from the garden. I looked out into the darkness. The well was no longer visible“.

The focus given by the narrator on the well was actually based on what the well represented, in a sense it was a source of childhood fears, a part of the unknown, yet when reading the story it becomes evident that the ghost of old woman that the narrator associated with the well was not actually a ghost but his own mother (Lewis, 1- 3).

This is evidenced by the following phrase from the story “‘Your mother.’ His voice had become very hard. ‘Can’t you recognize your own mother?“. This refers to the old woman that the narrator saw in a photo that he thought was the ghost from his memories of the well but was actually his mother.

Throughout the story readers are presented with hints about why the narrator left, such as being due to the woman Vicki or even due to the sternness of his own mother. It was seen that the narrator apparently associated an image of fear (i.e. the ghost) with that of his mother which implies that he viewed his mother with fear, or even contempt, and this was the reason why he left in the first place (Ingersoll, 1- 2).

Considering the fact that the narrator even goes so far to state that he had never learned the cause of his mother’s death until recently implies that he did not even go to Japan for her funeral thereby solidifying the claim that they were not on good terms.

Naema – Imagination

Through an explanation of the context of events within the story Naema, the narrator is able to instill in readers a sense of foreboding which causes them to imagine the possible horrors that occurred to the unnamed author’s wife. At the very start of the story the following phrase can be seen “The Bedeau barracks, the prisoners held there are considered to be hostages; dreadful things are said about what happens to them“.

At the very start of the story, this particular reference to a horrific concentration camp/barracks draws readers in by inclining them to imagine what horrors could possibly await the wife of the narrator within such a place.

While not expressly stated nor elaborated on, this particular facet of the narration helps to draw readers in by making them want to know what happened to the wife of the narrator, whether she lived, died, or was found in the end.

It is the sense of “not knowing” that drives readers to imagine, wanting to know more and, as a result, draws them into the story to understand more about what could have possibly happened and what was the initial cause of the disappearance (Asibong, 349-356).


Based on what has been presented in this paper so far, it can be seen that told through narration, “A Family Supper” and “Naema” contribute significantly to a reader’s sense of “living the plot” thereby creating an interesting and entertaining story.

Works Cited

Asibong, Andrew. “Radically Fantastical: The Politics Of The Truth-Event In The “Metic” Novels Of Mohammed Dib And Marie Ndiaye.” Contemporary French & Francophone Studies 14.4 (2010): 349-356. Literary Reference Center. Web.

Ingersoll, Earl G. “Kazuo Ishiguro.” Cyclopedia Of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition (2003): 1-2. Literary Reference Center. Web.

Lewis, Leon. “A Family Supper.” Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition (2004): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web.

Maerhofer, John W. “Algeria “Revisited”: Imperialism, Resistance, And The Dialectic Of Violence In Mohammed Dib’s “The Savage Night..” College Literature 37.1 (2010): 204-221. Teacher Reference Center. Web.

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“Thoughts from Underground” and “Introduction: Roughing it in the Bush” Comparison Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Apr 15th, 2019

Comparison of the Two Poems and representation of Canada

Margret Atwood’s poetry work revolves around representative literature. She portrays Canada during the 19th century. In her work, ‘Thoughts from Underground’, she portrays the challenges and the perception that different people had of Canada.

The poem revolves around the country’s political and social organization. Moodie’s book, ‘Introduction: Roughing it in the Bush’ speaks of the country in a disparaging way. She does not understand the fuss and hype about migrating to Canada.

This paper seeks to compare and contrast the two literary works in the way they portray and represent Canada. In the introduction, Moodie is a pessimistic and negative person. She does not understand the rationale behind the massive migration to Canada.

The poem ‘Thoughts from Underground’ depicts Canada in a transition. The author, Margret Atwood, portrays Susanna Moodie as the main character who had migrated from England to Canada during the 19th century. At the outset, Moodie is upset with the country that she has migrated to and becomes a part of it. She hates Canada for very many reasons including its winter and summer.

She is in total denial of her new country and misses her home country a great deal (Moodie 36). To this end, the poem portrays Canada as a mean country where everyone seems not to care. Moodie sees that every person is rude while she is not. She feels out of place and struggles to fit in the society. These thoughts of Canada portrays the country in a negative manner where everyone seems little concerned about the happenings of the outside world.

As the country changes, Moodie becomes successful and is not willing to let her initial hatred ruin her success. She becomes proud of Canada owing to the success that she achieves in the country and starts comparing it with England (Atwood 59). Although her heart is in love with Canada, she also holds the same feeling for her native country.

She rationalizes her feelings by accepting the fact that she would not be in a position to go back to England and finds it a good idea to love Canada. This however, does not change the fact that the country is not comparable to Britain where the society is kind and loving.

As she continues with her life in Canada, she becomes a part of the society and feels that she is a part of it. It is at this time that she ponders how she has changed although she had attributed the changes to the dynamic environment of the country.

Atwood depicts the country as dynamic since it begins to appreciate diversity. After so many years of discrimination, the country has become of age and treats every person with the same regard. To this end, the poem highlights how Moodie felt on her arrival to the country and her acceptance of the fact that she would succeed in Canada and that it was impossible to go back to England.

She becomes aware of that fact and begins to appreciate the opportunities that her new country offers (Atwood 61). After evaluating all the negative feelings she has had in the country, she begins to have a new perspective of the good things she has witnessed. The rationale is that she now understands that her negative perception had led her to believing that Canada was not the right place for her.

While the reverse is true, she still holds reservations for the country. The poem’s depiction of Canada as a land that has appreciated change is partly because of the desperation that Moodie shows (35). She has no hope of ever going back to England.

As such, the desperation has led her to accepting that she has no other choice other than loving her new country. Nonetheless, the poem depicts Canada in a positive sense in that every person is equal and can take any opportunity that the country provides.

This work is a memory of Canada in the 19th century. It depicts how the country changed and the efforts that people made to enhance the changes. In a precise way, the poem denotes the country as it was and the progress it made in becoming accommodative to people’s needs and diversity.

In fact, Atwood’s work is a sincere picture of the country and unnamed people who made the progress possible. To this end, people began realizing their dreams and they became proud of Canada thus, they portray it as a land where any person could succeed (Atwood 61). Although Moodie had suffered in the same country, it is noticeable that the country has changed a great deal making her successful and comfortable.

In the book, ‘Introduction: Roughing it in the bush’, the author introduces Mrs. Moodie as a person who is pessimistic about emigration. She describes the conditions that forced people to migrate to other countries and asserts that people left their luxurious homes and enjoyment in search of better opportunities.

This is in addition to escaping sarcasm from the rest of British society for their perceived low social status. What the emigrants did not understand is the disappointment in the foreign land.

Moodie highlights that educated people in British society composed of military men were willing to leave the comfort of their country in the early 19th century. Australia was the most appealing land to migrate to although it did not take long before the potential emigrants realized the disenchantment in the foreign land (6).

Their focus shifts to Canada. In the introduction of the book, Moodie pinpoints the enthusiasm that the emigrants exhibited about Canada. People told tales about fertile land, nearness to their mother country, favorable climate and most of all, a notion prevailed that there was no taxation in Canada (1).

Nonetheless, nobody told the emigrants of the negative aspects of the land. Tens of thousands migrated to Canada. Upon arrival, Moodie says that the naive migrants bought huge tracts of land to assert their dominance as colonists. Throughout the introduction of the book, Moodie seems very pessimistic about migration although some of the emigrants became successful and prospered in the new land.

The introduction of the book is comparable to the poem, ‘Thoughts from Underground’ in the sense that the country suffers innumerable challenges including poverty. Despite these challenges, emigrants seemed unmoved and determined to leave their native country according to Moodie.

While Atwood shies away from emphasizing on material poverty, Moodie disparages the residents and the natives and compares them to the poorest of all people in the British society (6). Although Moodie describes the great opportunities that existed in Canada as tales, she applauds Canada and points out that the emigrants who bought large tracts of land had prospered.

Atwood insists on the importance of change for a country to make progress. Moodie’s introduction does not place emphasis on the potential for success. All she emphasizes is the rust and smut of the environment and other aspects of the society that she finds appalling.

While Atwood depicts Canada as a land that has made numerous strides in development, Moodie remains negative and pessimistic that the country could provide a safe haven for the emigrants. She depicts the emigrants to the country as sheepish since they were oblivious of the promised opportunities. Emigrants had the notion that they could build a log house within hours with the help of generous neighbors.

Nonetheless, Moodie dismisses this notion by saying that the houses were despicable. She says that, “migrants did not venture upon a picture of disgusting scenes of riot and low debauchery exhibited in raising dens of dirt which could be likened to English pig-sties” (7). To her, the country could rarely prosper owing to her perceived backwardness.

Unlike Moodie’s introduction, the poem ‘Thoughts from Underground’ by Atwood shows both sides of Canada and depicts changes and revolutions that the country underwent in the medieval era. Atwood’s portrays Canada as a country where every person is able to make ends meet although it was almost impossible in the past (Atwood 55).

This way, her depiction of Canada is honest like that of any other country where both the good and the bad are major characteristics. It is also important to notice that racial segregation was aparent in the country during that period. However, progressive administration and ability of the country to appreciate change was typical of success that Atwood explains.


In effect, Atwood and Moodie’s works have few comparable aspects in the way they both ortray Canada. Although they both appraise the social and political organization of the country, Moodie is negative and pessimistic of the country. She does not understand the rationale behind migration.

Throughout her introduction, Moodie describes the massive migration to Canada as unreasonable and compares the emigrants to a flock of sheep heading to a slaughterhouse without their knowledge.

Works Cited

Atwood, Margaret. The Journals of Susanna Moodie. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1970. Print.

Moodie, Susanna. Introduction: Roughing It in the Bush. Toronto: Penguin Publishers, Print.

This essay on “Thoughts from Underground” and “Introduction: Roughing it in the Bush” Comparison was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

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