Enduring Love

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The Theme of Obsession in Doubt and Enduring Love

February 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt and Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love explore the theme of obsession, it’s cause and consequences it poses when someone to go to extreme ends to achieve their goal. The characters in both Doubt and Enduring Love want to protect something and prove that someone is presents a threat. Sister Aloysius believes that the students are in danger from a predator and that their future is at stake while Joe wants to protect himself from a possible danger that Jed Parry will bring. Although their motivations are different, Sister Aloysius and Joe find themselves go to great lengths to prove themselves and eliminate someone who they believe poses a threat. Sister Aloysius sees it as her duty to find out whether Father Flynn has an inappropriate relationship with a student and does everything in her power to prove that he is guilty despite her beliefs while Joe, despite his rationalism, can’t stop thinking about Parry and how dangerous he is, and is unable to stop his theories getting in the way of his behaviour. Both characters’ obsession suggests their behaviour is a result of powerlessness.

To begin with, both characters have strong beliefs in which they live their life. Joe in Enduring love shows that he is inclined to examine events from a scientific perspective, even while recollecting times of great stress. Joe’s reference to “vertiginous theories of chaos and turbulence” reveals not only his educatedness, but also his desire to narrate in a scientific way (Mcewan 17). On the other hand, Sister Aloysius emphasizes the channels of power and communication that run throughout the Catholic church. She scolds Sister James for trying to deal with misbehaving students on her own implying that “there’s a chain of discipline. Make use of it” (Shanley 8). She is pointing out the fact that Sister James is at the bottom of the institution’s chain of power and she reveals her belief that teacher should follow the pre-established customs of the church. Although their beliefs are different, one in science and the other in Catholicism and its hierarchy, Joe and Sister Aloysius follow a set of rules on how to live their life.

Living their life by a set of rules, both characters finds a reason to prove that someone poses a threat. Two days after the ballooning accident, Joe finds that his emotional state is already being affected by Parry’s aggressive, obsessive behavior, which awakens Joe’s irrational obsession: “Being hounded by Parry was aggravating an older dissatisfaction. It comes back to me from time to time, usually when I’m unhappy about something else, that all the ideas I deal in are other people’s” (McEwan 75). Although Joe has a good career, Parry’s illogical obsession has driven the rational Joe to an illogical obsession of his own. He admits that that it’s an emotion — unhappiness — that always drives him to obsess about this “older dissatisfaction” and contemplate about his professional life. That the seed of such an important life decision could be simple unhappiness about “something else” is deeply irrational and suggests more complexity to Joe’s psyche than he is willing to admit. On the other hand, Sister Aloysius’ questions about Father Flynn suggest that she’s suspicious of him for some reason, though she doesn’t clarify why this might be the case. She tells Sister James to be alert but she “must be careful not to create something by saying it” (Shanley 15). Sister Aloysius instructs Sister James to keep an eye out for anything worth reporting aligns with the idea that she herself is worried about something. In turn, she urges Sister James to adopt a more suspicious, discerning outlook. She also implies that Sister James has a moral responsibility to protect the children in her class. Both characters try to justify their actions by insisting that someone threatens both the student and their safety.

In addition, both characters start to consume more time on their suspicions and can’t feel powerless over the situation. The day after the ballooning accident, Joe is working in the London Library when he is distracted by the sensation that he is being watched. He states, “I was afraid of my fear, because I did not yet know the cause. I was scared of what it would do to me and what it would make me do. And I could not stop looking at the door” (McEwan 44). Joe’s fixation on the swinging doors, and his fear of his own inexplicable fear itself, point to the obsession that Jed Parry is about to infuse into Joe’s life. Parry is, indeed, stalking Joe, and Parry’s obsession with Joe will make Joe somewhat obsessed with Parry in return. This initial moment of unease, in which Joe is afraid of what fear “would make me do,” points to the ways in which Parry will unsettle Joe’s life and put his worldview in conflict with the emotion and irrationality of people and circumstances around him. Here, Joe cannot know what is to come and it is this fact, more than his unease at Parry’s presence, that makes Joe afraid and feel powerless. While Sister Aloysius’ unwillingness to speak more directly about the matter is linked to the Church’s hierarchy, since she can’t address Flynn about her misgivings because he is her superior. When Sister James suggests that they tell the bishop about Sister Aloysius’ suspicions, she exclaims, “the hierarchy of the Church does not permit my going to the bishop. No. Once I tell the monsignor, it’s out of my hands, I’m helpless” (Shanley 23). There is a clear chain of command that is already set in place, one that dictates who can talk to whom. It is difficult for her to make sure Father Flynn is held accountable for his actions which makes her feel powerless. Unable to go directly to the bishop, she’s forced to handle the matter on her own—a difficult burden that will likely bring trouble her way. Nevertheless, she’s willing to pursue the matter because she sees it as her moral duty to protect the children of St. Nicholas School. As both texts reach their climax, both characters are determined to eliminate Jed Parry and Father Flynn, and they try to take matters in their own hands which cause them to disregard the people around them.

To a certain extent, both Joe and Sister Aloysius overstep their boundaries and neglect the people that will be affected of their behaviour. Jed Parry has sent Joe a long and deep personal letter, which Clarissa has just read, leaving her visibly shaken: “It wasn’t that she believed Parry, I told myself, it was that his letter was so steamily self-convinced, such an unfaked narrative of emotion — for he obviously had experienced the feelings he described—that it was bound to elicit certain appropriate automatic responses” (McEwan 101). Parry’s letter contains deeply felt emotional cues, and Joe believes that those cues are bound to provoke a response in anyone, especially Clarissa who is emotionally sensitive. Clarissa is disgusted by his attempt to bring reason to bear on what has been an intuitive personal response. Furthermore, she sees Joe’s reasoning as a way not to deal with her criticism of him. By seeing Clarissa’s emotions so coldly, Joe is able to avoid confronting the fact that she is upset with the way he has treated her. Joe believes that Clarissa is unwilling to acknowledge the threat posed by Jed Parry. This intensifies the tension in Clarissa and Joe’s relationship. On the contrary, horrified by Mrs. Muller’s reaction to her revelation regarding Father Flynn and Donald Muller, Sister Aloysius threatens to throw the boy out of school just to protect him. She exclaims, “ I will this whatever way I must. It won’t end with your son. There will be others, if there aren’t already” (Shanley 49). Sister Aloysius’s statement that she’ll kick Donald out of school in order to protect him from Father Flynn illustrates just how intensely she believes it’s up to her to keep the children in her school safe. Trying to impress this upon Mrs. Muller, she points out that Father Flynn will continue to molest young boys if he isn’t stopped — an idea intended to weigh on Mrs. Muller’s conscience and ultimately convince her to stand up to the priest. Both Joe and Sister Aloysius try to deal with the situation by themselves without consulting the people that are involve in the situation.

Although both characters were driven by their obsession, both texts ended differently. For Joe, his desiresfor forgiveness exist entirely outside the realm of reason: “This breathless scrambling for forgiveness seemed to me almost mad, Mad Hatterish, here on the riverbank where Lewis Carroll, the dean of Christ Church, had once entertained the darling objects of his own obsessions. I caught Clarissa’s eye and we exchanged a half-smile, and it was as if we were pitching our own requests for mutual forgiveness, or at least tolerance” (McEwan 230). As a consequence of such thinking, Joe is much more cautious. Though he admits that he would like forgiveness and he wants to set his relationship right, he is unwilling to give into this emotion. He may one day be able to ask Clarissa for forgiveness and forgive Clarissa for her perceived disloyalty to him, but he will have to think things through. His decision cannot be a purely emotional matter. Sister Aloysius, on the other hand, reveals that sometimes a person has to commit smaller sins in order to counteract more significant injustices: “In the pursuit of wrongdoing, one steps away from God. Of course there’s a price” (Shanley 58).This, it seems, is why Sister James finds it so difficult to adopt Aloysius’s worldview, which makes it hard for a person to maintain “peace of mind.” And though Sister Aloysius has strong convictions regarding right and wrong, she suddenly feels an overwhelming sense of doubt. She suddenly exclaims, “Oh, Sister James! Ihave doubts! I have such doubts!” (Shanley 58). This doubt, though, has nothing to do with whether or not she should have protected Donald Muller. Rather, the entire situation has caused her to doubt the morality of the Catholic Church, an institution to which she has devoted her entire life, and her decisions that lead up to this point.

Both texts do not simply tell the characters’ stories, but rather their beliefs, values, and their situation that they are in that lead up to their decisions. Obsession cannot simply be obtained. There are reasons behind them in every story, and some might want to protect something important to them. Both McEwan and Shanley effectively portrayed the story of obsession in a way that other themes can be incorporated.

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178

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – an Enduring Love Story

February 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

The world’s most enduring love story, Romeo and Juliet, continues to have as much relevance for a modern day audience as it did in Shakespeare’s time. It is a masterpiece of lyric poetry. The story of star-crossed lovers, whose struggle for love and happiness in spite of familial opposition ends in senseless death, has been called the greatest work of romantic story ever written.

Romeo and Juliet was written by Shakespeare most probably in 1594 or 1595. It’s still popular after it was written around 400 years ago, because themes are still relevant. We can see them at present time. They are human incentives. Humans live with them and they don’t change by the time. Its film versions made as well. One of the evidence is that we all heard it’s still studied at high school and universities. There other reasons are the plot development and characters and their development.

The action of Romeo and Juliet involves two carefully balanced groups of characters. At the head of the two feuding families of Verona are Lord and Lady Capulet and Lord and Lady Montague. Their children Romeo and Juliet have two cousins who are clearly contrast each other. Both family have servants which represent loyalty theme.

The character development is well-prepared in the play. When we first meet Romeo, he was a moody rejected lover. But he had not always been like this, solitary and withdrawn. The very fact that his father, Benvolio and Mercutio all make so much of his changed ‘humour’ shows that his present behaviour is a drastic alternation and that he was not like the Romeo they used to know; ” Madam, an hour before the worshipp’d sun, peer’d forth the golden windows of the east, a troubled mind drove me to walk abroad, where underneath the grove of sycamore. (That westward rooteth from this city side) So early walking did I see your son. Towards him I made, but he was ware of me, and stole into the covert of the wood. I, measuring his affections by my own, Which then most sought where most might not be found, being one too many by my weary self, pursu’d my humour not pursuing his, and gladly sunn’d who gladly fled from me.” (Act1, Scene 1, 116-129). We know that he was well thought in Verona. The Old Capulet says he wasn’t like that before; ” A bears him like a portly gentleman, and to say truth, Verona brags of him to be a virtuous and well-govern’d youth.” (Act 1, Scene 5, 65-68) . The most interesting thing Capulet says is that Romeo is ‘well-govern’d’, clearly, he was not always infatuated with Rosaline, Romeo was a popular, lively and sociable member of the society.

The plot of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is which engages the reader from the very beginning of the play. It’s here that the two families which have an ongoing hatred between each other are revealed to the audience.

Shakespeare’s play explores issues through its contrast of themes such as youth and age, life and death, joy and sadness, and passion and control. What emerges from this analysis is a mix of messages and themes to do with human relationships.

Viewed from this fresh perspective, Shakespeare’s tragic drama of the “star-crossed” young lovers is seen to be an extraordinary work. Romeo and Juliet was an experimental master piece at the time of its composition.

As a result, I think, this is the greatest teenage love story of them all. Shakespeare didn’t invent the tale of the star-crossed lovers, he just did it better than anyone else.

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181

The Outsider and the Society in Enduring Love and Ethan Frome

February 15, 2021 by Essay Writer

An outsider is defined as ‘a person who does not belong to a particular organization or profession.’ In Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome the protagonist, Ethan Frome, is portrayed as an outsider of the early 1900s society as he contemplates his duty to his wife, Zenobia Frome, and his passion towards her cousin, Mattie Silver. Likewise, the protagonist in Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love, Joe Rose, develops into an outsider as he becomes enthralled with Jed Parry who believes that something has passed between him and Joe, something that sparks in Parry a deranged, obsessive kind of love. In both novels, different settings are constructed where society has a direct impact upon the lives of the protagonists.

Wharton emphasises the struggle Ethan has by being condemned through her descriptions of Mattie, as if she is some sort of ethereal being:

He had been straining for a glimpse of the dark head under the cherry-coloured scarf and it vexed him that another eye should have been quicker than his. (Wharton 16)

Ethan standing out in the snow while the dance goes on inside portrays his isolation from society which supports Jennifer Travis’s statement: ‘If it had no social side, if it implied only what it brought of suffering and sorrow to the partakers in it, then we could do little but cry out in self-protective impatience.” (Travis 64) It is jealousy of Denis Eady’s wealth that shows his sense of inferiority as well as his tendency to blame external forces, for instance his poverty, for his situation in life. Money was of great importance in the 1900s and the United States’ global power was attributed to its economy. The ‘cherry’ scarf highlights the importance of Mattie’s character and how her persona contrasts that of the residents of Starkfield. The colour red connotes feelings of passion as well as danger which is foreboding seeing as Ethan’s eventual downfall was due to his passion for Mattie. Wharton, as a Romantic author, utilises darkness and light as a motif for the, as yet undiscovered, feelings that Ethan has for Mattie. Ethan keeps to the shadows knowing that he is morally wrong as a married man. The agent of light is used to represent morality, innocence and new found love. This novel can be seen as a reflection of Wharton’s own life as she herself had an affair with Morton Fullerton in 1908 but believed that she was the victim because her and her husband shared no intellectual or aesthetic interests and this victimisation she felt is reflected in her depiction of Ethan Frome. In a similar way, in Enduring Love, McEwan shows a similarly stark contrast between Joe Rose and Clarissa Mellon. After the ballooning incident, Clarissa insists that she and Joe “have to help each other” (McEwan 33) by acting on their mutual feelings for each other. Joe realizes that by constantly rationalising every moment of the tragedy, he has “been trying to deny [himself] even the touch of her hand.” (McEwan 33) Clarissa, on the other hand, has “effected a shift to the essential” (McEwan 33) by leading Joe to bed she is trying to help her husband remember that their love is what truly matters. The reader sees here that McEwan sees love as a cure for desolation. This is the height of the power of love: it makes adversity in one’s life bearable by providing them an alternative emotional dimension into which to escape. As Michael Ruse appropriately states: “What McEwan suggests is that Joe, through his knowledge and love of science, has managed in some sense to transcend his purely biological nature” (Ruse 10). However, it is because of this that Rose has become an outsider, because he has transcended his biological nature, Joe only makes things worse: for himself, for Jed, and particularly for the relationship between himself and Clarissa. This occurs because Joe is at times reluctant to show affection to his wife. Thus showing how Joe’s rationalism can lead to him being condemned.

The titular characters in both novels are also condemned as they do not play by the rules of love. A critic of Ethan Frome has stated: “Ethan‘s struggle is between passion and duty” Indeed it is, as such can be seen since Ethan has a duty to be Zenobia’s husband yet he has a burning passion to live his life with Mattie Silver. One may argue that this struggle is made more prominent when readers see that Ethan is reluctance to alter his situation. Zeena states: “I can’t go on the way I am much longer.” (Wharton 35) This implies that she is unhappy with her ill health and desires to get better, showing she is more committed to her marriage than Ethan. In contrast, her husband offers no pity upon learning of his wife’s pain. Instead Ethan’s mind is preoccupied with the thought of himself and Mattie alone in the home together, as he put it, ‘like a married couple’. (Wharton ) Wharton utilises the silence between the couple to symbolise the absence of affection in their marriage. In the late 1800s, affairs became a target for more opprobrium and concern as the American society was defining itself morally. For this reason, Ethan can only fantasise about what life would be like with Mattie. Ethan is condemned as he does not commit to his marriage nor to his wife which is what was expected. Likewise in Enduring Love, Rose does not play the game of love but instead plays God. This is urged along by Jed Parry’s homoerotic obsession with Joe which Jed supports with his ovver zealous religious beliefs. He believes he has been chosen by God to evangelise Rose: “It’s not only that you deny there’s a God – you want to take his place.” (McEwan 136) Parry is referring to one of the seven deadly sins, pride. Pride is defined as an excessive view of one’s self without regard for others and is seen as many as the most serious of the deadly sins. Jeremiah 9:23-24 states, “…Let not the mighty man boast of his might…but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me…” Here Rose not only does not play the game, in this sense, he seems to be playing God. In turn Parry surpresses his homosexual urges while Joe is in denial. Michele Roberts responds to this by asserting: “Joe has to face the fact that he doesn’t, for all his scientific approach to life, understand loving a woman either.” (Independant) He cannot discuss the situation at hand with his wife due to his obsession with Parry which has broken their relationship. Despite at first appearing as an ideal relationship, their bond breaks as they cannot support each other. The 90’s were a dynamic battle for gay rights. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Senator Jesse Helms, is well known for his public opposition to the ‘homosexual lifestyle’ and described such people as ‘degenerates’ and ‘weak, morally sick wretches.’ (Newsweek) These views from people with a higher social status would have projected a negative stereotype of the LGBTQ+ community.

Furthermore, Ethan may be struggling merely due to the fact that readers are only given Ethan’s point of view, thus we are given an unreliable narrator: “She slipped from him and drew back a step or two, pale and troubled.” (Wharton 69) Judging by Mattie’s astounded response to Ethan’s audacious act, there may be some underlying guilt within Mattie as her reaction casts doubt on her provocation for flirting with Ethan. If the novel was written from Mattie’s point of view or Zeena’s, the struggle would shift to them. From Mattie’s point of view, and to some extent Ethan’s, this move would be considered as something alluding to an affair. Adultery was subversive in a way that the 1950s middle class would not have condoned, especially in a town such as Starkfield. This is similar to Joe’s encounter with Logan’s wife, each have their own narrative. On one hand, Joes is disturbed by his own cowardice while Logan’s wife is desperate in finding the truth about her husband’s death, employing her own narrative:

…That’s what he would have done without her, and it’s pathetic. He was showing off to a girl, Mr. Rose, and we’re all suffering for it now. (McEwan 123)

This supports Zohreh Ramin’s statement that: “Joe wishes to exercise his power by constantly imposing his beliefs to what he himself believes has happened.” (Ramin 4). Although a stark rationalist, at times he cannot even provide proof for his hypothesis, which is alarming to the passionate Clarissa. This suggests that Joe may not be used to being argued against due to his intellect and career as a science writer. His way of thinking emotionally distances him from those he knows, straining their relationships. Without seeing the point of view of other characters, readers are lead to believe that Joe Rose is condemned because he does not play by the same rules as the other characters.

Ethan is known to have somewhat of a dispassionate demeanor about emotional circumstances, for example, the tragic loss of his parents:

His father’s death, and the misfortunes following it, had put a premature end to Ethan’s studies; (Wharton 15)

Rather than seeing the death of his father as an emotional loss, he saw it as an end to a life that may have been, for this reason he may harbour some negative feelings toward his parents for being destined to live his life in Starkfield. Ethan chose to stay perhaps due to the reactions the townsfolk would have to his departure:

It was a long time since anyone had spoken to him as kindly as Mrs Hale. Most people were either indifferent to his troubles, or disposed to think it natural that a young fellow of his age should have carried without repining the burden of three crippled lives. (Wharton 80)

The word ‘somebody’ and the phrase ‘There warn’t ever anybody but Ethan’ shows readers how the villagers expect Ethan to become a caretaker without regard to his aspirations. In the 1900s, a woman’s place was in the home – women gave up work after marrying, and husbands were the breadwinners but Ethan had to take up both the roles after his parents passed, emphasising that he was an outsider as he had not married yet. This justifies Bjorkman’s critical response: ‘…after all, the tragedy unveiled to us is social rather than personal… Ethan Frome is to me above all else a judgment on that system which fails to redeem such villages as Mrs. Wharton’s Starkfield.’ (Bjorkman 54) Ethan is broken physically and emotionally since the beginning of the novel. His misery captivates the narrator as the whole novel represents the narrator’s effort to reconstruct the tragic circumstances of Ethan’s life. Ethan is an outsider in this circumstance because he had aspirations and actually left Starkfield when he was a young man while the other villagers have been unable to leave. This is also seen in Enduring Love. Christopher Lehmann-Haupt suitably states: “As a scientist he simply can’t deviate from the facts of the case. But this suggests that his point of view is limited and that there may be more to the story than he can see.” (The New York Times). Rose’s inability to relate to emotional situations and deviate from facts causes him to be an outsider, as seen in Chapter One:

If one ever wanted proof of Darwin’s contention that the many expressions of emotion in humans are universal, genetically inscribed, then a few minutes by the arrivals gate at Heathrow’s Terminal Four should suffice. (McEwan 4)

Instead of thinking of this situation from his heart, Rose instead uses ‘Darwin’s contentions’ to project his emotions. The fact that Rose knows that ‘the many expressions of emotion in humans are universal’ suggests that he himself may know that he is an outsider due to his apathy at times.

Another way one may say that Ethan Frome is an outsider as he doesn’t play the game, making him an outsider to the society in which he lives, is through the way he victimises himself to justify his love for Mattie. Ethan does not play the role of a loving husband and victimises himself by demonising his wife:

Ethan looked at her with loathing. She was no longer the listless creature who had lived at his side in a state of sullen self-absorption, but a mysterious alien presence, an evil energy secreted from the long years of silent brooding. (Wharton 66)

The imagery that Wharton associates with the confrontation between Ethan and Zeena reflects the motif of darkness. Repeatedly, Ethan utilises words connoting to a demonic presence, ‘creature’, ‘alien presence’ and ‘evil energy’ presents a negative depiction of Zeena which makes Ethan seem like an innocent victim in the game of love. The confrontation of the married couple occurs in their bedroom, a room which Zeena is easily able to assert her dominance. Notably, Zeena has previously asserted herself over Ethan in the bedroom, such as when she made a derisive comment to him about shaving every morning since Mattie’s arrival, and that Ethan thinks best when he isnot in his own home with his wife. Wharton points out Ethan’s awareness that he is trapped in a loveless marriage. She alludes that Ethan will not violate his marriage vows and the rules of society. Ethan is aware of the control Zeena has over him. There was a lot of social pressure from the elites who penalised and as late as the 1950s and ’60s, a man who wasn’t married or who was divorced was often passed over for a promotion. During Ethan’s desperate time of need, being married for the sole reason of having company would eventually take a toll on his marriage. Joe Rose in Enduring Love also believes himself to be a victim to justify his actions which in turn caused him to be an outsider. During the events following the accident, Joe has a brief conversation with Jed Parry. In this exchange Jed develops an obsessive infatuation in Joe. Joe rationalises Parry’s infatuation by classifying it as a pathological condition which he wants to see as:

…a dark, distorting mirror that reflected and parodied a brighter world of lovers whose reckless abandon to their cause is sane. (McEwan 128)

After diagnosing Parry with de Clérambault’s syndrome, Joe contemplates the impact it had and will have on his life, this reveals the importance of emotion within Enduring Love. Also known as erotomania, de Clérambault’s syndrome is distinguished by the delusion, usually in a young woman, that a man whom is considered to be of higher social standing has romantic feelings towards her. Rose hopes to use Parry’s love as means to bring Clarissa back to him. Rose uses the definition to understand the love he and his wife share by comparing it to Parry’s obsession. This approach is a reference to the good and evil division shown in Paradise Lost, a text that Clarissa speaks of during the balloon incident. Logan’s fall from the sky causes Joe and Clarissa’s fall from their love, which is a necessary step for them to truly understand their emotions. By contradicting their true love to Parry’s delusional love, their love grows stronger and ultimately survives. However, according to Adam Mars-Jones “…his own experience calls into question any so confident a separation of healthy from diseased.” (Guardian). As Mars-Jones correctly states, Joe is an outsider as he is unable to properly diagnose Parry with a suitable disease, despite his education. The critic’s statement suggests that Rose’s ‘experience’ is not enough for him to fully comprehend the situation at hand so he cannot discern a healthy mind from what has become diseased. The reason why Rose found it difficult may have been due to the fact that mental illness in the 90’s had a lack of awareness. A study conducted in 1998 revealed that Londoners did not consider themselves well informed about mental illness but do think they should know much more. Only one in four respondents said they are very well informed.

In conclusion, the two novels present readers with different perspectives of both the outsider and the society in which he lives. Joe Rose’s analysis of events takes force from his interest in science and rationalism. For him, it is the narrative which is explainable through reason and information, in other words, scientific facts which count as important. This in turn makes him an outsider to the important feelings he has with his wife. Ethan Frome’s indecisive nature and reluctance to act on his powerful relationship with Mattie and his contrasting emotions to his wife makes him an outsider in the relationships he has with both women. As mentioned earlier, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt states: “But this suggests that his point of view is limited and that there may be more to the story than he can see.” This provides more questions rather than answers; if we are all unique in our own way, are we outsiders because we do not play the game society intends us to play?

Works Cited

  • Ian McEwan, Enduring Love, Jonathan Cape, 1997
  • Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1911
  • Adam Mars-Jones, I Think I’m Right Therefore I am, Guardian News & Media Limited, 1999
  • Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, Enduring Love’: Science Vs. The Divine, With Suspense and Passion, The New York Times Company, 1998
  • Jennifer Travi, Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature Culture and Theory, John Hopkins University Press, 1997
  • Michael Ruse, Intelligent Design and Its Critics, Metanexus, 1999
  • Michele Roberts, Enduring Love by Ian McEwan, Independant, 1997
  • Zohreh Ramin, Unraveling Identity in Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love, Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture, 2012

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136

Romantic and Passionate Love in ” Enduring Love”

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

In both “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare and “Enduring Love” by Ian McEwan, the pursuit of love is presented within the main characters. Their attempts to pursue a relationship could be seen as romantic and passionate; however, it could also be argued that the pursuits verge on being obsessive. In the case of “Twelfth Night”, it could be argued that obsession is simply a continuation of infatuation; something that expresses deep love and true emotion. However, in “Enduring Love”, the reader is introduced to obsessive love extremely early on, with the idea of romantic love being disregarded by the reader due to the unreliable narrator. There are arguments to suggest that pursuing romantic love and obsession are both similar and separate concepts.

In “Twelfth Night”, Orsino’s pursuit for Olivia is arguably more romantic than obsessive. His pursuit for romantic love is seen to be innocent and harmless, indicating that there is a clear divide between pursuit and obsession. When Curio asks ‘Will you go hunt my lord? The hart.” Orsino replies by saying “Why, so I do, the noblest I have.” The image of Orsino hunting deer juxtaposed with the image of Olivia implies that Orsino is attempting to portray an impression of masculinity and power by referring to the killing of animals, which was a feature of courtly love commonly practiced. As this form of pursuit was so prominent in Shakespeare’s era, it could be argued that Orsino was not in any way obsessive at this point. The pun in ‘The hart’ implies that Orsino is also attempting to bring comedy to the situation, which the audience watching the play would have found more humorous than obsessive. The concept of Courtly Love often includes males having to earn the love of a lady, which is clearly seen with Orsino’s romantic pursuit for Olivia as she “till seven years’ heat, Shall not behold her fact at ample view.”

Similarly, in “Enduring Love”, it could be argued that at some points, Jed Parry is attempting to pursue Joe romantically, with little evidence of obsession. In his first letter to Joe, Jed begins by saying “I feel happiness running through me like an electrical current.” Later, he says “Then I got it. You had touched them in a certain way, in a pattern that spelled a simple message. Did you really think I would miss it, Joe!” Jed using stereotypical and conventional love letter language such as abstract nouns, similes and metaphorical language to convey his adoration to Joe implies that Jed’s pursuit for love is innocent. The chapter being in the form of a love letter has implications that Jed is aware that his love for Joe is not reciprocal, therefore must resort from communicating from a distance. The use of direct address in “Did you really think I would miss it, Joe!” denotes how personal and deep rooted this romantic pursuit is. As “Enduring Love” is a postmodern novel with a metanarrative, the reader is made aware of the extent of Jed’s obsession, therefore they are unable to see the romantic and innocent nature of the letter. The reader’s perception of Jed is seen to be negative from the start of the novel, as the narrator is not only telling the story from hindsight, but also with the notion that it is a narrative in mind.

It could also be argued that there is a fine line between pursuit and obsession, and that obsessive love can be seen in both texts. In “Twelfth Night”, Viola’s drastic measures to be in close proximity to Orsino could be seen as an example of obsessive love. When Orsino asks Viola to charm Olivia on his behalf, Viola says “I’ll do my best to woo your lady. (Aside) Yet, a barful strife! Who’er I woo, myself would be his wife.” The use of aside to voice Viola’s inner thoughts is symbolic of how deceiving she is willing to be in order to pursue a romantic relationship with Orsino. The rhyming couplet of “strife” and “wife” is reflective of the end of a love sonnet, symbolising how Viola’s obsessive pursuit for Orsino is based around a romantic infatuation. The extent to which Viola is willing to change her identity to fit the expectations of a man she has just met demonstrates her obsession with Orsino. The idea of obsession is also explored in “Enduring Love”, as Jed suffers from de Clerambault’s syndrome. In a letter to Joe, Jed says “Joe, Joe, Joe….I’ll confess, I covered five sheets of paper with your name.” “Confess” has religious implications, with connotations of sin and wrong doing. This religious imagery juxtaposed next to “I covered five sheets of paper with your name” implies that although Jed believes his pursuit for romantic love with Joe is feasible, it is immoral. It could be argued that in Jed’s case, because of his condition, the pursuit for romantic love cannot happen without obsession being involved. Religious connotations can be found during the balloon accident when Jed asks Joe to pray with him. “Parry wasn’t giving up. He was still on his knees” could be seen as foreshadowing the nature of his romantic pursuit for Joe. Jed not letting go of the balloon, a symbol of chaos, reflects how he is unable to let go of his obsession with Joe. This image being so early on in the book implies that Jed’s pursuit for Joe was in fact, always obsessive.

In “Twelfth Night”, it can be suggested that Orsino has an obsession with the idea of love, which is far greater than his obsession with the woman he is attempting to pursue. When telling Viola what message to deliver to Olivia, he says “O, then unfold the passion of my love, Surprise her with discourse of my dear faith”. Orsino’s repetition of the personal pronoun ‘my’, as well as his use of empty adjectives such as ‘faith’ and ‘passion’ imply that he is more concerned with making himself look good than attempting to engage with Olivia. It could be suggested that Orsino’s constant pursuit of love has caused him to become self-obsessed, as well as forming an obsession with love itself. This is mirrored when he says “Away before me to sweet beds of flowers. Love thoughts life rich when canopied with bowers.” The rhyme in ‘flowers’ and ‘bowers’, reflective of a love sonnet, has implications of love and passion. However, ‘love thoughts lie rich’ implies that he is not thinking of Olivia, but simply love as a whole. In contrast, in “Enduring Love”, Jed’s obsession is purely based on an individual; however he attempts to disguise his true pursuit. Although Jed’s true purpose is to romantically pursue Joe, he uses his faith to disguise the true intent of his obsession. In a letter, Jed says “To bring you to God, through love. You’ll fight this like mad because you’re a long way from your own feeling? But I know that the Christ is within you. At some level you know it too.” The use of religious lexis such as “Christ” and “God” indicate how Jed not only has an obsession with Joe, but also with religion. He is so involved with both concepts that he believes it allows him to use his faith as an excuse to obsess over Joe in the way he does. However, his use of interrogative indicates how tentative he is in his pursuit as he perhaps doesn’t believe in his own intentions. However, unlike any other characters in the novels, his disorder means that this behaviour is uncontrollable; therefore he must disguise and manage it in any way he can.

Whereas it is clear that romantic love is pursued in both “Twelfth Night” and “Enduring Love”, whether or not this pursuit has the potential to become an obsession varies from the two novels. Jed in “Enduring Love” clearly shows evidence of obsession over Joe, however the existence of his disorder could imply that his pursuit for love is simply a way of feeding his obsession. On the other hand, Orsino in “Twelfth Night” demonstrates how he may be pursuing Olivia romantically, however the obsession that he experiences is more self-obsession. Both novels indicate that although romantic pursuit can often lead to obsession, there is a clear divide between the two.

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The Pursuit of Love in “Twelfth Night” and “Enduring Love”

May 31, 2019 by Essay Writer

In both “Twelfth Night” by William Shakespeare and “Enduring Love” by Ian McEwan, the pursuit of love is presented within the main characters. Their attempts to pursue a relationship could be seen as romantic and passionate; however, it could also be argued that the pursuits verge on being obsessive. In the case of “Twelfth Night”, it could be argued that obsession is simply a continuation of infatuation; something that expresses deep love and true emotion. However, in “Enduring Love”, the reader is introduced to obsessive love extremely early on, with the idea of romantic love being disregarded by the reader due to the unreliable narrator. There are arguments to suggest that pursuing romantic love and obsession are both similar and separate concepts.

In “Twelfth Night”, Orsino’s pursuit for Olivia is arguably more romantic than obsessive. His pursuit for romantic love is seen to be innocent and harmless, indicating that there is a clear divide between pursuit and obsession. When Curio asks ‘Will you go hunt my lord? The hart.” Orsino replies by saying “Why, so I do, the noblest I have.” The image of Orsino hunting deer juxtaposed with the image of Olivia implies that Orsino is attempting to portray an impression of masculinity and power by referring to the killing of animals, which was a feature of courtly love commonly practiced. As this form of pursuit was so prominent in Shakespeare’s era, it could be argued that Orsino was not in any way obsessive at this point. The pun in ‘The hart’ implies that Orsino is also attempting to bring comedy to the situation, which the audience watching the play would have found more humorous than obsessive. The concept of Courtly Love often includes males having to earn the love of a lady, which is clearly seen with Orsino’s romantic pursuit for Olivia as she “till seven years’ heat, Shall not behold her fact at ample view.”

Similarly, in “Enduring Love”, it could be argued that at some points, Jed Parry is attempting to pursue Joe romantically, with little evidence of obsession. In his first letter to Joe, Jed begins by saying “I feel happiness running through me like an electrical current.” Later, he says “Then I got it. You had touched them in a certain way, in a pattern that spelled a simple message. Did you really think I would miss it, Joe!” Jed using stereotypical and conventional love letter language such as abstract nouns, similes and metaphorical language to convey his adoration to Joe implies that Jed’s pursuit for love is innocent. The chapter being in the form of a love letter has implications that Jed is aware that his love for Joe is not reciprocal, therefore must resort from communicating from a distance. The use of direct address in “Did you really think I would miss it, Joe!” denotes how personal and deep rooted this romantic pursuit is. As “Enduring Love” is a postmodern novel with a metanarrative, the reader is made aware of the extent of Jed’s obsession, therefore they are unable to see the romantic and innocent nature of the letter. The reader’s perception of Jed is seen to be negative from the start of the novel, as the narrator is not only telling the story from hindsight, but also with the notion that it is a narrative in mind.

It could also be argued that there is a fine line between pursuit and obsession, and that obsessive love can be seen in both texts. In “Twelfth Night”, Viola’s drastic measures to be in close proximity to Orsino could be seen as an example of obsessive love. When Orsino asks Viola to charm Olivia on his behalf, Viola says “I’ll do my best to woo your lady. (Aside) Yet, a barful strife! Who’er I woo, myself would be his wife.” The use of aside to voice Viola’s inner thoughts is symbolic of how deceiving she is willing to be in order to pursue a romantic relationship with Orsino. The rhyming couplet of “strife” and “wife” is reflective of the end of a love sonnet, symbolising how Viola’s obsessive pursuit for Orsino is based around a romantic infatuation. The extent to which Viola is willing to change her identity to fit the expectations of a man she has just met demonstrates her obsession with Orsino. The idea of obsession is also explored in “Enduring Love”, as Jed suffers from de Clerambault’s syndrome. In a letter to Joe, Jed says “Joe, Joe, Joe….I’ll confess, I covered five sheets of paper with your name.” “Confess” has religious implications, with connotations of sin and wrong doing. This religious imagery juxtaposed next to “I covered five sheets of paper with your name” implies that although Jed believes his pursuit for romantic love with Joe is feasible, it is immoral. It could be argued that in Jed’s case, because of his condition, the pursuit for romantic love cannot happen without obsession being involved. Religious connotations can be found during the balloon accident when Jed asks Joe to pray with him. “Parry wasn’t giving up. He was still on his knees” could be seen as foreshadowing the nature of his romantic pursuit for Joe. Jed not letting go of the balloon, a symbol of chaos, reflects how he is unable to let go of his obsession with Joe. This image being so early on in the book implies that Jed’s pursuit for Joe was in fact, always obsessive.

In “Twelfth Night”, it can be suggested that Orsino has an obsession with the idea of love, which is far greater than his obsession with the woman he is attempting to pursue. When telling Viola what message to deliver to Olivia, he says “O, then unfold the passion of my love, Surprise her with discourse of my dear faith”. Orsino’s repetition of the personal pronoun ‘my’, as well as his use of empty adjectives such as ‘faith’ and ‘passion’ imply that he is more concerned with making himself look good than attempting to engage with Olivia. It could be suggested that Orsino’s constant pursuit of love has caused him to become self-obsessed, as well as forming an obsession with love itself. This is mirrored when he says “Away before me to sweet beds of flowers. Love thoughts life rich when canopied with bowers.” The rhyme in ‘flowers’ and ‘bowers’, reflective of a love sonnet, has implications of love and passion. However, ‘love thoughts lie rich’ implies that he is not thinking of Olivia, but simply love as a whole. In contrast, in “Enduring Love”, Jed’s obsession is purely based on an individual; however he attempts to disguise his true pursuit. Although Jed’s true purpose is to romantically pursue Joe, he uses his faith to disguise the true intent of his obsession. In a letter, Jed says “To bring you to God, through love. You’ll fight this like mad because you’re a long way from your own feeling? But I know that the Christ is within you. At some level you know it too.” The use of religious lexis such as “Christ” and “God” indicate how Jed not only has an obsession with Joe, but also with religion. He is so involved with both concepts that he believes it allows him to use his faith as an excuse to obsess over Joe in the way he does. However, his use of interrogative indicates how tentative he is in his pursuit as he perhaps doesn’t believe in his own intentions. However, unlike any other characters in the novels, his disorder means that this behaviour is uncontrollable; therefore he must disguise and manage it in any way he can.

Whereas it is clear that romantic love is pursued in both “Twelfth Night” and “Enduring Love”, whether or not this pursuit has the potential to become an obsession varies from the two novels. Jed in “Enduring Love” clearly shows evidence of obsession over Joe, however the existence of his disorder could imply that his pursuit for love is simply a way of feeding his obsession. On the other hand, Orsino in “Twelfth Night” demonstrates how he may be pursuing Olivia romantically, however the obsession that he experiences is more self-obsession. Both novels indicate that although romantic pursuit can often lead to obsession, there is a clear divide between the two.

Read more