Reflective Entry of “Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes: Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing Children, Parenting and the Family Series” and “Udaan” Essay
Updated: Apr 5th, 2019
Trauma can be understood as an excess anxiety that overwhelms an individual’s feeling of safety or integrity. The impact of such experience triggers brain through muscle receptors and voluntary reaction system. The brain, as a result, will biologically work through the negative feedback mechanisms to restore the body to its normal functioning process.
Several hormones are released in response, such as adrenaline, which leads to changes in heartbeats, breathing rates and other involuntary actions causing anger or numbness. Stress is the most identifiable sign of trauma among traumatic individuals. Impact of trauma varies with individual’s age, personal copying mechanism and vulnerability. Trauma is generally divided into psychological and physical (Levine and Kline 6).
Children are the main victims of traumatic cases in the society. This is because children constitute a vulnerable group that only relies on their parents’ assistance. Additionally, they do not have a well-developed copying mechanisms when encountered by traumatizing situations.
They face physical trauma from falls during plays and climbing explorations. Sporting injuries are the main source of trauma caused by bicycles and skating boards accidents. Scenarios, such as drowning and auto cars’ accidents, are also experiences that result in traumatic moments (Levine and Kline 23).
According to Levine and Kline, children who were exposed to surgical and medical conditions at birth show more symptoms of traumatization as compared to those who were born outside hospital facilities. This is because of painful experiences which medicated children undergo at the hospitals (Levine and Kline 25).
Violent activities in the society are sources of psychological traumas that last for a long and take a lot of time before people forget it, especially young children. These can be caused by materials from the media or real life situation.
At times, children face both psychological and physical traumas at the same time. A bitter example of this may be taken from the film Udaan when analyzing the main protagonist Rohan. The seventeen year old boy finds himself in a psychological torture after his expulsion from school. He meets his egoistic father Roy on his return to Jamshedpur.
He is as well shocked to realize he has a step brother Arjun. Life becomes very confusing to Rohan; he finds it hard to cope with his new younger brother and brutalities of his father Roy. The father insists that Rohan should join engineering class to help him manage his factory despite Rohan’s passion in the writing field (Udaan).
In seeking solace, Rohan opts to stealing his father’s car to meet friends in a bar and drink. In the process, Rohan’s trauma turns him wild that he engages his father in a physical fight and exchange of insults. He reflects his life through a poem, Udaan, which opens with “A few, scattered memories,” and continues with “Bare-foot I walk upon them”. This is an interpretation of shattered dreams resulting from his family stresses due to the brutal father. He fulfills this dream when he leaves with Arjunn,
“Truly, I have forgotten,
Where I had removed my shoes,
But, it seems,
That I do not need them now” (Udaan).
Rohan underwent parental abuse that caused him a lot of suffering. According to Levine and Kline, “spousal and child abuse accounts for the majority of physical and emotional violence suffered by youngsters” (28). While hoping to regain his normal life, he experienced more frustration that he considered escape as the only option to end his suffering. Consequently, Rohan chose drinking as a part of his healing process. Consequently, he asked his uncle for advice on what to do before making his final choice to escape.
Levine, Peter A., and Maggie Kline. Trauma Through a Child’s Eyes: Awakening the Ordinary Miracle of Healing Children, Parenting and the Family Series, Berkley, CA: North Atlantic Books, 2006. Print.
Udaan. Ex. Prod. Sanjay Singh. India: Mahendra J. Shetty. 2010. DVD.
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A Comparison of “A&P” by John Updike with “The Kiss” by Julia Alvarez Research Paper
Updated: Apr 4th, 2019
The essay compares the two stories, in a manner that shows that both authors have certain similarities. Both authors clearly show the influence of parenting, in inspiring their children into autonomous and independent thought.
The authors emphasize on the role of fathers in the family and especially, in the building of character in their children. The authors also show that men are sexist and stubborn.
“The story A & P” from the Pigeon Feathers and other stories by John Updike
The story involves a young boy of thirteen years of age and his family. They move from their previous home and begin a new life in a town called Firetown.
The young man experiences trouble, in trying to fit into the new environment and the new life. After a fortnight in the new town, David spots interest in a book while in the process of rearranging the books.
The book was H. G. Wells’s “The Outline of History.” He got interested in the manner in which the book portrays the life of Jesus from a secular point of view. The reason as to why the family moved to the farmhouse in Firetown is later shown.
It was his mothers wish that the children grow up in a farmhouse, just as she did when she was growing up. Evidently, his father does not enjoy the environment and often drives off to town.
This reason, amongst other reasons, cased David’s two parents to argue often. One day, when they were arguing about organic farming, David hid in the outhouse to avoid the shouting.
While in there, he experienced a feeling of regret for his existence. After that, he returned to the main house to find them still arguing. He then goes to bed and says a prayer, so that Christ may touch his parents, so that they know that he exists.
One Sunday, his mother recognizes that David is troubled. However, when confronted, he refuses to share his worries concerning morality with his mother.
His father then comes in from church, claiming that the society in that place is intellectually poor.
While David was in the catechetical class, he enquired about the events that take place between death and judgment day.
This question made the other students and the reverend, behave as though they were uncomfortable. David felt as though he had asked a dumb question. As a result of his question, a debate ensued concerning the life after death.
One of the members in the class concluded that heaven is the legacy of good acts done in one’s life. The reverend also confirms to David that there is no consciousness in death.
This sparked off David’s curiosity, and he started to read the bible in search for answers. Despite his mother’s intervention, David refused to believe that there is no God.
His father did not encourage David to think about the events after death. Despite all the discouragement, he still found support from the church and at school.
On his (David) fourteenth birthday, his parents buy him a gun. Sometime later on, David’s grandmother asked him to kill some pigeons.
He derived pleasure from killing the birds to the point that his mother angrily reprimanded him and instructed him to bury the birds. Deep in thought while burying the birds, David began to appreciate the beauty of nature.
At that moment, he realized that God had done well in creating everything and judging from his destructive nature, God would not want to risk losing all his creation by allowing him to live forever.
Upon analyzing the character of David in the book, it becomes evident that he has concerns about morality. These concerns, are due to the fact that David wanted to refuse the history behind how he understood Christianity.
He is scared of what he reads from the book, “The Outline of History”. In the course of his research, David refused to read the entire definition of the soul, because it went ahead to talk about the opinions from the Romans and Greek.
He associates his fear of death to have been caused by everything from the past. He points out that the past is composed of interactions with things and beings that we leave behind once we die.
This is what David thought to be the cause for the fear. David refuses to take note of this association in order to dig deeper into the mystery.
As a result, he finds out that, that would be a place in which there is no need to follow the laws of nature.
This is seems to have been influenced by his father, who thinks that organic farming is old and should be replaced with modern methods.
The author touches on matters concerning parenting. The author appears to relate these influences to gender. In their family, David’s mother does not go to church; however his father goes to church every Sunday.
In the book, we also find that David dismissed his mother’s insight as influenced by her feminine nature. This is a character of David’s father.
Through these two characters (David and his father), Updike shows the way that men are molded into sexists, who hold believe that they are always right.
When David killed the pigeons, he realized that the main reason for man being violent is the fear of death. Strangely, from this part, the author attempts to show that death greatly influences the way we appreciate the world around us.
David has faith in God, because of the beauty of all that is around. The author does not attach a specific religious group to the faith that David has, but he simply associates the faith to the beauty in the creatures around.
“The Kiss” from How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (1991)
The book talks of four daughters who made it a tradition to be together on their father’s birthday celebration. In the ceremony, Mr. Carlos would welcome them and then they would have cake. He would then give them hundreds of dollars in envelopes.
By holding an event at her home, one daughter by the name Sofia broke the tradition. This had been after a period of time, when they had reconciled with each other. Sofia had run away from home, when she chose to get married.
Now she had two children, and the lastborn was a boy named after her father. Her father always treated the grandson better than he did the granddaughter and Sofia did not like that.
In her youth, Sofia was the sister who had a boyfriend after the next. She often went on vacation with them, since her father had strict rules about sleeping over at boyfriends’ homes.
Her father later found the letters from her German boyfriend. He was annoyed and accused Sofia of spoiling his reputation, by sleeping around with men.
In anger and pain, Sofia ran away from home and went to Germany, where she got married and invited the family over to their home in Michigan.
Her mother attended but her father did not. She then took her first born baby to see him on his birthday, and they eventually began talking to each other. However, this party was meant to be their reconciliation.
In the party, Carlos was blind folded and a lady would kiss him. He guessed the names on each turn, but did not even mention Sofia at any one time.
This hurt her and when it was her turn, she made sure that he knew that it was her. After being given a big kiss by her, he removed the blindfold in anger and humiliation and declared that the game was over.
The author in this book shows the issue of parenting in molding the character of the child. Sofia is a mature woman, who grew up in the modern society, which conflicts with the traditions in the Dominican Republic where her parents lived (Laurie, 1998).
Sofia’s character in the book, is depicted as a free spirit, who is rebellious against traditions. She is full of love for her father, since she did all she could to make things right by her father’s wishes.
She was the one who took the first step towards reconciliation, and organized a party where her sisters could come with their husbands (Laurie, 1998).
The manner, in which Sofia chose to leave her father’s house in pursuit of her own beliefs, shows the need to be independent. The autonomy of thoughts and beliefs is further demonstrated by the way she publicly expresses her stand on sexuality, when she kisses her father.
She totally breaks traditions and becomes a successful family woman, despite her father’s insults. The author also demonstrates the character of men as sexist, stubborn and authoritative.
The father refused to see his grandchild on account of the past. He states that he will not set foot in his daughter’s house. He always gave the girls money in envelopes instead of checks.
He also reacts in anger; over a game he suggested being part of. These show how the man can be stubborn. He is sexist because he complains that his reputation was ruined due to his daughter’s activities (Lostracco, 1998).
He refuses to accompany his wife when she went to see Sofia’s firstborn child. He showed favor to his grandson than he did to his granddaughter.
The two authors have clearly displayed the issues concerning families and raising children. They have further displayed that men are sexist, and have a big ego.
The women have been shown as determined but not forceful. They have been shown as largely obedient and persuasive.
The analysis of literary works from different authors, shows a lot about the experiences that they went through in their past.
It is my recommendation that, in the process of understanding social science more clearly, comparison of different authors from the areas under research is done. This serves to give a deeper understanding of the society at that time.
Álvarez, J. (2004). How the García Girls Lost Their Accents. New York: Bloomsburry Pub.
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Laurie, S. R. (1998). Casebook: A and P. Hampshire: Cengage Learning.
Lostracco, G. J. (1998). Analyzing Short Stories. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.
Toolan, M. J. (2009). Narrative Progression in the Short Story: A Corpus Stylistic Approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub.
Updike, J. (1996). Pigeon feathers, and other stories. New York: Random House Publishing Group.
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“War” and “The other Wife” Essay
Updated: Jul 1st, 2020
In this paper, I will strive to show the significance of characterization, at the expense of other elements of literature, towards the successful revelation of the deeper meaning of the following two short stories: “War” By Luigi Colette and “The other Wife” by Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. As we shall see characterization can be employed as the main vehicle towards the realization of a writer’s thematic concerns.
“The Other Wife” by charlotte is about a woman, who is married to a rich husband; the story has three characters, Marc, Alice and Marc’s ex-wife (Colette). The bulk of it comprises of dialogue between Marc and Alice who have just arrived at a hotel for lunch. Incidentally, Marc’s ex-wife is in the same hotel. Through exchanges of pleasantries that reveal the traits of Marc and Alice, Calotte foregrounds the themes of patriarchy and sexual love.
Marc is a controlling husband. He finds pride and power in dominating his wife and feeling needed. For instance, when his wife lets him order lunch for both, he is so pleased that: “He sighed as if he had just moved an armoire, gazed at the colorless midday sea” (Colette). This simple act gives him great pleasure.
His wife, Alice, on the other hand is emotionally dependent on him. She is passive and unobtrusive. She willingly lets Marc make even the smallest of decisions for her. For example, when Marc asks her what she would like for lunch, she so naturally lets him order dinner for both: “Whatever you like, you know that” (Colette). She is so proud of his complements that she seems to rely on them to reaffirm her self-worth: “Her firm, round breasts rose proudly as she leaned over the table” (Colette).
It is through the characterization of Marc and Alice, the contrasting of Alice with Marc’s ex-wife, that the story’s themes are revealed. By characterizing Marc’s ex-wife happy and contented and Alice as timid and dependent, the story’s themes are realized.
“War” on the other hand is a longer piece. It’s about how parents who have children at the battlefront view war (Pirandello). The horrors that are committed during war can never be justified by simply invoking patriotism. It is through the characterization of the fat red faced man that the main theme of this story is communicated.
At first, we think him stoic and patriotic and the other parents are embarrassed when he says such things as: “Why then should we consider the feelings of our children when they are twenty? Isn’t it natural that at their age they should consider the love for Country even greater than the love for us” (Pirandello). And later;
“Everyone should stop crying; everyone should laugh, as I do…or at least thank God—as I do—because my son, before dying, sent me a message saying that he was dying satisfied at having ended his life in the best way he could have wished” (Pirandello).
But we get to know that is mere bravado, his unwillingness to face his son’s death is what inspires his talk. Eventually, it becomes inevitable that he should face reality and “he snatched in haste a handkerchief from his pocket and, to the amazement of everyone, broke into harrowing, heart-breaking, uncontrollable sobs” (Pirandello).
It is through the characterization of this man as vulnerable that we are forced to really wonder at the worth of war, even with patriotism at stake. As clearly shown, characterization is a powerful conveyer of inner meaning in literature.
Colette, Sidonie-Gabrielle. “The other wife”. 2007. 28 Jan. 2012. <http://www.101bananas.com/library2/otherwife.html>.
Pirandello, Luigi. “War.” 2009. Web.
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Reaction Paper to Two Short Stories: “Salvation” by Langston Hughes and “On Going Home” by Joan Didion Essay
Updated: Mar 27th, 2019
Authors use short non-fiction stories to convey unique messages of events, incidents, or emotions. This paper revolves around two short stories namely Salvation by Langston Hughes and On Going Home by Joan Didion. Further, it provides a summary of strategies utilized by the writers in conveying their ideas along with a detailed description of how I personally relate to the themes presented therein.
Moreover, it gives a detailed explanation of the purposes of the two short stories based on their themes pointing out how the two authors employ aspect of imaginations and nonfiction in their stories.
“Salvation” by Langston Hughes
Salvation is a unique and a must-read chef-d-oeuvre where the author Langston Hughes uses remarkable strategies to convey the aspect of irony. The writer uses irony to imply that, even if a person is in dire need of something, it is not easy for him/her to acquire it. Hughes attended the church ready to become a believer.
However, she left it entirely opposite of what she expected out of it. As Langston undergoes numerous tribulations and trials in a bid to receive salvation, she gradually distances herself from Jesus. This follows because she waited to see Jesus before her day of salvation. However, this never happened. Due to social pressure from the gathering at the church coupled with that of her aunt who vehemently pushes her towards salvation, Langston lies to the church concerning her salvation.
The writer draws the reader into irony by establishing a unique precedent that a person’s life can be a nightmare when he/she least expects such.
As a young boy, Langston experienced a difficult situation in the church. Group pressure and desire to please her own aunt forced her to do something that was against her judgment. The irony shows how the church congregation aimed at bringing Hughes’s closer to Christ. However, it did the opposite by making her hold the belief that God did not exist.
Moreover, Langston uses vivid description and concrete details in this short story. The detailed description of her aunt, the preacher, and the church aids in keeping the momentum rolling, thus, making story vivid and easy to master.
For instance, the reader can easily picture unique images of “old women with jet-black faces and braided hair; and old men having work-gnarled hands” (Sylvan, William & Burto, 2010, p.351) who were praying and singing in the church. In addition, another detailed description that provides a vivid picture of the condition of the church that Langston attended appears in the description of the “hot, crowded Church” (Sylvan, William& Burto, 2010, p.351).
The Purpose of the Story
The intended purpose of Langston’s story is to express the feeling Langston has concerning this paramount stage of her life. After the experience in her teenage years, Langston was able to understand what happened in that event when she grew up. The theme of the story is to describe how Langston’s experience of being “saved” only caused disappointment in her life. In addition, it resulted to Langston lying to her church members, thus, developing the ‘guilt feeling’ associated with doing so.
The “saving” of Langston eventually results to her loss of believe and faith in Jesus. To the reader, this conveys the detrimental effect that can result from the actions of an adult who imposes certain believes on a child. The teenager who does not comprehend what is happening at that time must feel emotionally and socially affected. Langston cries of the feeling of guilt because of lying. He eventually stops believing in Jesus.
“On Going Home” by Joan Didion
On Going Home, a fascinating masterpiece by Joan Didion, describes the author’s trips to her family home tabling all the distinct emotions she undergoes during her visits. The writer employs diverse strategies in conveying the key theme of her story: convection and diversity in the home place.
The writer uses metaphors to provide clear descriptions on the experiences encountered during her visits especially when accompanied by her husband. Her family discusses things to which her husband does not relate.
This makes the husband uneasy, as he cannot understand what all the stories entail. As the writer reckons, the family exclusively talks about people they know to have gone mental hospitals ((Sylvan, William & Burto, 2010, p.620). The ways of her family do not correlate with those of her husband. This makes her husband uncomfortable.
The writer also employs imagery to convey the situation of her home. For instance, she says, “We live in dusty houses filled with mementos” (Sylvan, William & Burto, 2010, p.620). This provides a vivid picture the condition of her home. In addition, the writer utilizes detailed descriptions to bring out the sense of family and home.
Through this strategy, the writer recreates a unique feeling that someone gets when reminiscing about excellent times he/she shared in a place. A reflective thought of being able to pass the same feeling to somebody else develops, as it is evident when the writer wishes the same environment for her daughter.
The Purpose of the Story
Joan’s story expresses the theme of convection and diversity of the ‘home’. It shows how the writer is at unique crossroads. The evident scenarios no longer fulfill Joan in her family home. However, she is unable to let go of it to embrace a different life that her husband advocates.
She has a compelling desire of creating a semblance of her old home for her own daughter. The writer appreciates many benefits gained from growing up in the same way she grew up. Unfortunately, she is unable to express these sentiments to her husband, despite the fact that she wants to avail the same to her daughter.
The writer sees family life as a source of drama and tension. She laments, “Marriage is a classical betrayal” (Sylvan, William & Burto, 2010, p.620). The confusion seems to overwhelm the writer in deciding what is best for her own daughter dealing with both her family and her husband. This depicts the crossroads the author is in, all brought by the home and family.
What makes each of the two stories nonfiction
The “Salvation” by Langston Hughes is a nonfiction story because it conveys personal accounts encountered by Langston. The writer uses her personal experiences in telling a unique story that incorporates true events in her teenage life. The story touches on the early teenage years of Langston and her experiences when in church together with her aunt.
The writer has incorporated clarity, directness, and simplicity that are paramount traits in any nonfiction work. Through the detailed descriptions of the true scenario of her life, the writer conveys how she reluctantly achieved salvation through lying to the whole gathering at the church. The assertions made in this story describe reality of Langston’s early life.
The author uses explanatory writing techniques in explaining the conditions at the church. This technique improves the understanding of the reader on the many ideas behind the story. In addition, the writer presents a balanced and coherent argument, which appeals to the audience, as the story is true and intriguing.
On the other hand, On Going Home by Joan Didion qualifies as nonfiction because it describes the real life scenarios of the writer’s life. The writer uses imagery to explain about the family home by depicting how things have remained the same in her home. The cause of disagreement in this story is the differences between writers’ family ways and her husband’s ways.
The writer seems confused because the two homes pose a great challenge in her way of doing things. Direct provisions of vital information by the writer, further, entrench the notion that this work is nonfiction. The author comments about her family, her daughter, and her husband in a vivid manner. The story embodies historical practices of the writer’s home in a clear and perfect manner.
The essence of imagination in writing and reading nonfiction
Some nonfiction stories may include imaginative elements to a small extent. However, inclusion of any open falsehood discredits nonfiction work. Thus, the writer should utilize imagination with caution to avoid discrediting his or her work as nonfiction. Imagination required when writing and reading nonfiction aids in making the work unique.
Elements of imagination aid in providing a detailed description as the story unfolds. Through imagination, one can show comprehensive and unique scenarios, which improve the quality of his or her work. Clear and concise fashion requires a fair deal of imaginations.
The two short stories are unique and exceptionally detailed. They present remarkable nonfiction works, which utilize unique techniques in disseminating ideas in vivid manners. The writers are able to convey their messages to readers in comprehensive ways, which make the understanding of the short stories easy. These stories provide vital lessons in people’s lives. Any literature fanatic will regard them as informative pieces of work.
Sylvan, B., William, E., & Burto, W. (2010). Literature for Composition Essays, Stories, Poems, and Plays. New York: Longman Publishing Group.
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“A Doll’s House”, “The Storm” and “The Victims” Research Paper
Updated: Jun 30th, 2020
The authors of the three stories are influenced by strong feministic perceptions to challenge existing social systems that make it difficult for women to advance. The three stories highlight various issues faced by women in different eras before the clamor for women’s rights gained momentum. As a result, women have more inferior social roles compared to men and this makes it difficult for them to attain personal satisfaction. The three authors make readers understand their intent through metaphors and other symbolic representations.
Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” takes a look at the position of a woman in the domestic setting and how the protagonist makes a lot of sacrifices without her efforts being appreciated. Kate Chopin’s “The Storm” explores how a woman endures an unexciting marriage as she reflects on her past maiden days. Sharon Olds’ “The Victims” discusses divorce and domestic abuse and how these two issues affect the way children in a home grow up.
The three authors reveal their inner feelings towards various issues that affect people in societies they are living in. In the “Doll’s House”, Ibsen shows the constant sacrifices Nora has to make to make all family members happy.
She reduces the amount of money she spends on herself to make her husband and children live in comfort. She says, “For myself? Oh, I am sure I don’t want anything” (Ibsen 1447) In “The Storm”, Calixta yearns for a more passionate relationship and she feels that her husband is not a perfect match for her. She misses the moments she spent with her lover, Alce who is now married to Clarissa.
She is miserable because she is in love with someone else yet social norms forbid a woman from loving another man who is not her husband. In “The Victims”, Olds begins to focus on her dysfunctional American society where divorce is becoming rampant. Through the innocent eyes of a child, she probes the impacts of domestic abuse and parental neglect on family disintegration.
How women look for independence
The three authors discuss in detail how women look for independence to make their lives more fulfilling. They show their dissatisfaction with unreasonable societal expectations they are required to observe in their homes and communities. In “The Victims” the narrator describes difficulties they endured with their mother when her father was still working and living with them.
The narration reveals that the father has failed in his responsibilities and cannot safeguard his family’s wellbeing. She says “She took it and took it in silence, all those years and then kicked you out, suddenly, and her
kids loved it” (Olds 1057). The story discusses the dilemma of a child who has to learn various things by herself after her parents part ways acrimoniously.
The metaphorical use of the title in “The Storm” shows the inner spirit of energy and vitality in Calixta which is largely repressed by societal expectations. Calixta yearns for sexual satisfaction though societal expectations make it difficult for her to attain her aspirations. Her pent up emotions are described as a brewing storm likely to erupt any time, “Calixta put her hands to her eyes, and with a cry, staggered backward” (Chopin).
In the story, the storm is used to represent the outpour of her emotional feelings which have been largely repressed by her role as a wife and mother. The presence of Alce in her home liberates her from the yoke of marital gloom she has experienced for a long time. She shows that she is ready to be in control of her own desires regardless of what other people think.
Nora is zealous and ready to protect her marriage at any cost in “A Doll’s House.” She takes part in various activities to protect her husband from any harm that is likely to befall him. She cuts on domestic spending to ensure she has enough money for other important necessities in her home. As a result, the author uses her to show the input of a financially conscious woman in making her home stable.
This is a demonstration of her independence because she does everything she can to make her family live comfortably (Ibsen 1451). She later uses her father’s signature fraudulently to acquire a loan to help her husband travel to Italy. Her husband’s frugal ways do not seem to diminish her desire to take all the necessary steps to make her family live in comfort.
The three authors explain their own attitudes about female empowerment in an era when patriarchal ideals were taken more seriously. The three stories bring to light feminine ideas that enable protagonists to take charge of their own lives by overcoming various challenges they are facing. Even though Nora is loyal to her husband in the “Doll’s House”, she is brave enough to look forward to a future on her own due to her husband’s unwillingness to become more considerate.
In the “Victims” the narrator supports her mother’s decision to look for a better life away from their father who is consumed by arrogance. He has failed to perform his marital as well as parental duties. Olds’ poem is an inspiration to women who are willing to work hard without the support of their spouses to help their children live more comfortably. The “Storm” is a compelling story about an adventurous woman who is willing to take any risk to fulfill her physical and emotional desires.
How societal roles are given to women
The issue of how societal roles given to women determine their destiny is highlighted in all the three stories. In a “Doll’s House”, women are expected to turn a blind eye to their husbands’ transgressions even when they affect their personal wellbeing.
Nora’s husband is a difficult person to deal with who is not willing to spend money to make his family live in comfort. He treats his wife like a little pet as shown through, “It’s a sweet little spendthrift, but she uses up a deal of money. One would hardly believe how expensive such little persons are!” (Ibsen 1450).
In the 19th century, women were expected to do all they can to make their husbands and their families live comfortably. As a result, any sign of feminine independence or rebellion was discouraged. Nora even forges her father’s signature to get a loan from Krogstad, an act that was rarely done by women during that time. She shows her ability to think on her own by taking serious risks that will in future erode her husband’s trust in her.
The “Victims” poem takes place at a time when women are being forced to take on extra roles that have traditionally been performed by men. The narrator describes how her father is unable to perform roles expected of most men and how this affects her family’s happiness. Her father’s mistreatment and abuse make her bitter and she feels that her mother did the right thing to kick him out.
Feelings of despair the child has are resolved when her mother decides to make sacrifices to make them have a better and more comfortable childhood. The poem exemplifies an era when men had begun to suffer from an identity crisis. The father in the poem is portrayed as emotionally distant from his children (Olds 1057). The recklessness portrayed by the father is symptomatic of the whole society where communal values that unite families are being disregarded.
The Storm” is a testimony of a woman’s struggle to overcome prejudices that block her from achieving personal pleasure and satisfaction in her life. The story shows that marital union serves as a bondage that makes it difficult for Calixta to express herself emotionally without being judged by other people.
She feels that her husband does not meet all her needs and the oppressive marital life makes it difficult for her to be in control of her own desires. Since Calixta and her husband, Bobinot are Acadians, they are treated as people of a low social class. This is shown through “She sat at a side window sewing furiously on a sewing machine” (Chopin). As a result, marriage and intimacy is influenced by social status and this explains the reason Calixta and Bobinot stay married even though they are emotionally incompatible.
The three authors manage to portray social roles observed by in contemporary societies where the three stories were written in. Ibsen manages to show how Nora shoulders the burden of her husband’s shortcomings despite doing all she can to please him. In the society, Torvald is typecast as the ideal man other women would want to marry and as a result, a fact Nora is aware of. She challenges the societal view that women need to be docile and should not go against their husbands’ wishes.
Calixta lives with Bobinot because she was not able to get married to Alce, her soul mate who belongs to a higher social class. Therefore, she has to live with the fact that Bobinot will never excite her in the same way Alce does. Societal female roles treat women’s emotional needs as secondary to those of men and they are not given the attention they deserve. Olds uses the narrator to show her anger towards irresponsible men who mistreat their families.
Risks associated with women’s actions
Risks associated with various actions women take to become more independent are highlighted by the authors. All protagonists are struggling to have their own identities by getting more satisfaction in their personal lives. In the “Doll’s House” Nora takes several risks that put her on a collision course with her husband. When she tries to plead to her husband to resolve the differences he has with Krogstad, she is driven by a guilty conscience that makes her look for ways to cover up her mistakes.
She says to Mrs Linde, “Papa didn’t give us a shilling. It was I who procured the money” (Ibsen 1462). Later, this becomes the source of all her marital problems with her husband. Torvald uses a self righteous tone as he reprimands Nora for her fraudulent actions and he considers her a bad influence to their children.
In “The Victims” the narrator realizes towards the end that maybe they were too hard on their father. Even though the author advocates for feminine independence, she also realizes that children need to be brought up by both parents to make them more responsible when they become adults. The narrator says, “Father. Now I pass the bums in doorways, the white slugs of their bodies gleaming through slits in their suits of compressed silt” (Olds 1057).
The narrator realizes that even though her father was abusive and irresponsible, she still needs his guidance and love. The author seems to suggest that even though men are irresponsible, they need to be guided to make them perform their societal roles more effectively. Olds uses a sinking ship metaphorically to show the emotional and psychological burden the narrator endures because she did not find a chance to know her father better.
Calixta knows that she cannot let the passion she has for Alce get the better of her because they come from different social backgrounds. She understands that the norms practiced where she lives do not allow a married woman to be unfaithful to her husband.
Calixta just like other women living in her society knows that any act of infidelity against her husband is likely to strain her marriage and this will make her an object of shame in the society. However, as the storm rages on she yields to her uncontrollable desires as shown through, “And when he possessed her, they seemed to swoon together at the very borderland of life’s mystery” (Chopin).
She takes a big risk in her own husband’s home to experience a moment of passion in Alce’s arms without considering what will happen if Bobint finds them together. The encounter she has with Alce in her home brings joy into her life as shown by, “the sun was turning the glistening green world into a palace of gems” (Chopin).
The three protagonists have varying experiences through which they are able to demonstrate their feminine instincts and independence. Nora after getting chastised by her husband decides to separate from her husband to face life on her own. She says, “I have heard that when a wife deserts her husband’s house, as I am doing now, he is legally freed from all obligations towards her” (Ibsen 1497).
She has realized that she sacrificed her own happiness for too long to please the self righteous Torvald. The narrator in Olds’ poem is still bitter with the manner in which her father treated them and in hindsight, she feels that there are so many questions she still wants to ask her father. She says, “I wonder who took it and took it from them in silence until they had given it all away” (Olds1057).
Calixta’s passionate exchange with Alce helps her overcome her restlessness, which makes her feel relaxed. However, deep inside, she is aware that she rebelled against the norms observed in her society and if her secret leaks out, she will be in a lot of trouble.
Chopin, Kate. “The Storm.” American Literature. American Literature Anthology, 6 June 2013. Web.
Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House.” The Victims.” Norton Introduction to Literature. Eds. Alison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. New York: WW Norton & Company Incorporated, 2010. Print
Olds, Sharon. “The Victims.” Norton Introduction to Literature. Eds. Alison Booth and Kelly J. Mays. New York: WW Norton & Company Incorporated, 2010. Print.
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Comparison of Nora from A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and Elisa from The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck Research Paper
Updated: Jul 6th, 2020
Two female characters Nora from A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and Elisa from The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck have many similar characteristics. Both are women who live with husbands who do not understand them and do not feel the things as women do.
Both characters are intelligent women who need to change their life, but being brutalized by husbands, they do not know how to improve the life. However, there is also a number of differences in the characters’ behavior. One woman stays in the same place with the same conditions and another does away towards the new happy life.
The story of John Steinbeck describes only one day of life of the character, while Henrik Ibsen uses three acts in order to provide the whole picture and to describe the rise of the conflict in details and its future culmination. One can notice that these two stories and their major female characters are similar, as they both face the similar circumstances; however, on the other hand, Nora and Elisa demonstrate different reactions on the circumstances that married life provides.
The play A Doll’s House describes the nature of the relationship between husband and wife. Ibsen as the founder of realist drama uses the ideas, events and characters which are typical in the usual life. According to Goldman, the main ideas of this play are “the Social Lie and Duty” (1914).
Ibsen provides the description of the social duty of woman in a home as the sacred institution. In the world ruled by men the place of women is at home. Some of people willingly accept this way; however, for other people such way of life can be a complicated challenge.
The female character, Nora, seems deeper and more intelligent than her husband Torvald. The woman has many ideas, dreams and hopes; she wants to have better life and feels that all this routine of married life with Torvald kills her personality. She sees that her husband is not that person that she imagined. He is narcissistic and does not care about Nora, children or home. Nora’s enthusiasm does not allow her to be a simple house wife, a doll of her husband.
Obviously, there are many women who can accept such way of life; however, Nora is not one of them. She is not a doll and she cannot live with someone who considers her as a doll, as a toy. Nora’s life seems complicated and painful. However, she struggles for her happiness. On the other hand, many people can say that in this situation Torvald is the real victim.
It may be complicated to comprehend how woman could leave her children; however, for Nora, such method seems only one and right solution. She wants to survive in this world and to start the life from the new page. Ibsen does not provide the ideas about Nora’s future and what she is going to do, where to go and how to life. Nevertheless, the author emphasizes an importance of the personal choice in spite of life of a doll.
A short story The Chrysanthemums describes a life of a strong and proud Elisa Allen. Although this woman has the outstanding principles, intellect, she is kind and well-behavior, her life is full of frustration and even sorrow. She cannot have a child and her husband loses his interest toward Elisa as a woman. Only one good thing she has is her garden where the woman can cultivate the chrysanthemums.
In this context, the flower is a symbol of every woman who feels frustrated and lonely. Devoting all the energy to the house and garden, Elisa is unable to find more interesting business that could draw her attention, to bring more color to her life. Although the flowers are beautiful and make the life brighter, they are not humans; they cannot provide the same feeling, emotions or help to develop the life. Elisa is ignored and lost in her own home.
The evident mood of this story is the total melancholy. The first sentence is a bright demonstration of this statement: “The high gray-flannel fog of winter closed off the Salinas Valley from the sky and from all the rest of the world” (Steinbeck). The city of the heroes is closed from all the world as well as Elisa is closed in her house. It is the story of the desperate house wife where a happy-end seems like an incredible miracle.
One can see the similarities between the image of Elisa and Nora, because both women are intelligent, passionate and unsatisfied by the life that they have to maintain. Both of the characters care about their home. Thus, Elisa’s home is “hard-swept and hard-polished” (Steinbeck), while Nora’s “room furnished comfortably and tastefully, but not extravagantly” (Ibsen).
Both of the stories take place in winter. In this context, the season can be considered as a symbolical expression of mood o the characters. However, if Elisa’s winter may last for a long time, Nora tries to reach the spring of her existence. Perhaps, the life of Nora seems more interesting, because she has children, friends and one man is even in love with her.
At the same time, Elisa seems absolutely lonely and her only friends are flowers. She gets an opportunity express herself only in the conversation with the tinker. However, when this man disappears, Elisa feels even worse than before. Sweet indicates that after the meet with tinker, Elisa “becomes more and more feminine” (212). At the beginning, Nora and Torvald seem normal and happy family.
The author describes their every-days life in details. On the other hand, the beginning of The Chrysanthemums seems already melancholic and cold. It is possible to suppose that Elisa’s married life is full of problems. However, such fast way of determining the problem is caused by the characteristics of a genre of the short story, in spite of play, where the author has the space and time to describe the conflict slowly, preparing the readers for the culmination.
Nora and Elisa demonstrate different reaction on the crisis. While Elisa collapses and gives up, Nora leaves her family and believes in the better future and changes in her own life. Nora does not want to help her husband. She understands that if he did not want to change something in their life before, he will never do it. Therefore, being a clever and intelligent woman, she finds the solution and abandons her family before she will lose herself and lose her dreams. Such culmination seems unusual for 19th century.
Analysis of the cultural background demonstrates that women’s role in the West was simple and all house wives were mostly dependent on their family and especially on their husbands (Mayer 8). On the other hand, Elisa cannot find enough straights to make an important step. She loses her ability to reflect rationally. The ends of two stories are absolutely different. Elisa does not want to argue with her husband and turns up her collar, crying like an old woman.
One day of Elisa’s life can be compared with all her life. The reader can suppose that every day of Elisa is the same as the one described in the story. At the end of A Dolls’ House, Nora turns back on the family and goes away, choosing her own road in this world and making a step forward the new life.
Analyzing the stories A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and Elisa from The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck, one can see the different reactions and responses to the problems and various challenges that married life provides.
Although the major characters of two stories have the similar circumstances, the culminations of their problems are different. One woman decides to leave her husband and children, while another continues suffering. It is obvious that both authors sympathize their female characters; however, they choose different solutions for them.
It is natural that people react in the different way as we all have different characteristics, emotional range, experience and communicational skills. Some people prefer to fight and to improve their life. They know when to stop and make a step. Nora is an example of such personality. Vice versa, Elisa shows an example of an opposite personality, a woman who cannot decide how to solve the problems and to develop her life.
Goldman, Emma. The Social Significance of the Modern Drama. Boston: Richard g. Barger, 1914. Web. <http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/goldman/>.
Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. Gutenberg.org. Web..
Mayer, Laura Reis. Henrik Ibsen: A Doll’s House: A Teacher’s Guide to the Signet Classics Edition. US: Penguin Books, 2008. Print.
Steinbeck, John. The Chrysanthemums. Web..
Sweet, Charles A. Jr. “Mr. Elisa Allen and Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums.” Modern Fiction Studies. Ed. William T. Stafford and Margaret Church. Vol. 20. West Lafayette: Purdue University, 1974. 210-214. Print.
This research paper on Comparison of Nora from A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen and Elisa from The Chrysanthemums by John Steinbeck 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.
How the works selected relate to life as we know it? Essay
Updated: Nov 7th, 2018
The stories the Storm and the story of an hour are two allegorical fictional writings that reflect on major issue that affects relationships in the current society.
Written by Kate Chopin, she humorously and romantically highlights the impact of infidelity in a lighter tone. The author focus on the on the way couples struggle to keep their emotions secret because of marriages. Authentically, the two stories intertwine with various relationship factors in the modern society.
Contemporarily, most families are unstable mainly because of unfaithfulness. The media is one of the channels, which has recently concentrated on the issue of divorce in the contemporary society. In comparison with Kate Chopin stories, the aspect of divorce /separation is not evident therefore, what is the secret in Chopin’s story that most couples in the current society shun?
Nearly all constitutions dissolve marriages when infidelity is evident. Personally, I have attended a divorce case in a local court, which involved a tycoon. During the proceedings, one of the elements that lacked in the estranged couples was respect.
Respect of each other is the major step, which can save a marriage. In her stories, Kate Chopin indirectly tackles the issue of respect between a husband and a wife. For instance, although Calixta rekindles her love affair, she not only prepares supper for her family but also welcome her husband with open arms and happiness. When her husband returns after the storm, she says “Oh, Bobinôt! You back! My! But I was uneasy” (Chopin, section III par. 5).
Contemporarily, most women who are having affairs embark on hating their husbands an action that leads to conflicts. Some even hurl insults to their partners. Despite of having an affair, Calixta carry’s out her role as a wife and a mother. She not only prepares food for the family but also expresses her love to both her husband and son.
Similarly, Alcee decides to write to his wife a love letter assuring of her freedom to stay away from home. Clarisse does not find fault in her husband’s letter. However, any woman in the contemporary society whose husband gives away such freedom will accuse him of having an affair.
Therefore, according to Kate Chopin freedom is one of the issues that may keep a marriage relationship to grow stronger. During the divorce case, one of the issues that became evident was that most spouses did not trust each other. Furthermore, spouses spy on each other, an issue that greatly contributes to divorce. Although Alcee and Clarisse are miles apart, none of them cites a problem in their brief separation. Therefore, respect and trust are major elements that keep marriages alive.
On the other hand, during the court proceedings the woman did not only hold a contemptuous attitude towards the husband but also revealed some secret family affairs to the public. In the story of an hour, although Louise Mallard hates the oppression nature of her husband she openly mourns his death as though it was a blow on her life.
Intuitively, Louise is happy because silently “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” (Chopin 10). Mallard hates her husband but she keeps on a bravery face to ensure that the marriage stands.
Louise behavior shows that she does not only respect the marriage institution but also respect her husband. Analysis of the divorce case reveals that secrecy, respect and a guarantee of freedom are some of the factors that contributed to breakdown of the marriage. Although Alcee has an affair and lives apart from the wife he, writes, “A loving letter full of tender solicitude” (Chopin section IV par.1).
In addition, appreciation is also a vital factor that lacks in most marriages. As the divorce attorney examined both couples, none of them could appreciate each other yet they had lived together for ten years. Authentically, can two people stay together for a decade without either of them performing an appreciable task? More over, the couple had two children who were at the centre of their controversial marriage.
In the storm, Bobinot appreciates his wife by buying her shrimps, which are her favorite. In retaliation, the wife prepares a feast for the husband and son. Likewise, Clarisse is happy to receive her husband’s letter and heeds to his request of staying away for sometime. Eventually, the court dissolved the marriage due to lack of trust and infidelity. However, if married couples emulate the characters in Kate Chopin’s fictional writings then dissolve cases will decrease.
In conclusion, in her stories Kate secretly highlights the elements that lead to divorce cases. However, despite of the challenges, she highlights that appreciation; trust and freedom are some of the factors, which can establish a good marriage. Through personal experience during a divorce case proceeding, the couple ended the marriage based on infidelity and mistrust. However, people who cannot prevent affairs should learn to respect and appreciate their spouse to avoid conflicts, as it is the case in the storm.
Chopin, Kate. “The Storm.” The Literature of the American South. Ed. William L.
Andrews. New York: Norton, 1996. Print
Chopin, Kate. The story of an hour. USA: Vogue publishers, 1894. Print
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Comparing “A very Old man with enormous wings” and “My singular Irene” Essay
Updated: Sep 11th, 2019
A very Old man with enormous wings is a story about a married couple Pelayo and Elisenda who found a strange being. The being was classified as an angel by a diviner in the village because he had wings attached to his body. However, he was too feeble to support himself. He became the center of attention for the people at that village. The couple then decided to charge a viewing fee for those who came to view the strange creature.
My singular Irene is a story which features the role and place of Irene as a wife who was married to a controlling husband. She was quite submissive to her husband but was also quite exploited. Irene and the angel were exploited by those around them yet they remained helpless. This essay will compare and contrast the two stories discussing the symbolism of repression and triumph together with their significance in the modern society.
A very Old man with enormous wings story features an old man found in the courtyard of Mr. Pelayo. The old man was very weak to the extent that he was unable to rise up from mud. His wings prompted the family of Pelayo to seek clarification from a woman who was known for her understanding of life and death.
Her explanation that he was an angel who had come to take away Pelayo’s child was shocking and the news spread like a bushfire in the village. Pelayo took this man and locked him up in a chicken coop together with chicken. He was helpless and repressed in that he could not speak out for himself thus he was powerless. His inability to stand up on his feet and to speak up made him a subject to the decision of the family (Marquez 1).
In the story my singular Irene, confinement was Irene’s place. Her husband could not agree to have her walk around because he felt that it was his responsibility to protect her. He restricted people who visited their house: “I was not going to permit my wife to run around as if she had no one to protect her. Not that.
And no visitors either” (Almanzar 9). Irene had no freedom to engage in whatever she wished to though she was not locked up like the angel. Whenever she went out with her husband he easily got annoyed by her behavior of gathering butterflies and he could not give her time to enjoy what she liked doing. In case they were on a trip, it was the husband who made decisions: where to stop, for how long and what she could do in the course of the journey.
Irene did not have a right to freedom of expression though she could speak to her husband unlike the angel who could not say anything to anyone. Her husband planned for everything on behalf of their family. She rarely asked for anything from the husband. Instead it was the husband who decided when to do something for her. She lived as a captive in her own home:
Since women have their whims and poor Irene seldom asked me for things and, except for when she visited her mother, she spent weeks and months tied to the house taking care that everything was in order on my return from a trip. (Almanzar 8)
Irene’s husband failed to understand what his wife needed even if he thought he was taking care of her. He did his best to buy her what he thought she needed; “it seems a lie to me that she has left the comfort of her house without any regrets, but it is rather because of what occurs to one on the day least expected” (Almanzar 8).
The old man was alienated from everything around him. He did not fit to be a human being though mostly he resembled a human being. He was locked up with the chicken as if he was a chicken. Some people even tried to feed him on moths; this is quite inhumane (Marquez 1).
On the other, Irene was alienated from all her friends and almost lost her senses. She was under a psychological torture which made it quite difficult for her to live a normal social life (Almanzar 9). Alienation of the two victims denied them chances to become what they desired in their hearts.
The two victims did not receive love; Irene was more psychologically exploited while the angel was mostly physically exploited. Villagers in Pelayo’s neighborhood mistreated the weak angel. On the second day early in the morning, Pelayo and his wife Elisanda found a large crowd of people making fun of this man outside the chicken coop.
Later on, father Gonzaga arrived and the people eagerly waited to hear what he could say. He spoke to him in Latin but the old man did not reply. The father despised him saying that the old man did not suit the wisdom of the angels (Marquez 1).
Pelayo and Elisanda took advantage of the strange angel. More people kept on coming to see the strange old man and this gave Elisanda a bright idea: “Then got idea of fencing in the yard and charging five cents admission to see the angel” (Marquez 1). After a few days, the family had collected a large sum of money with which they built a big mansion with balconies.
It is ironical that they made money out of him yet they did not provide him with good basic needs such as food and shelter: “He spent his time trying to get comfortable in his borrowed nest, befuddled by the hellish heat of the oil lamps and sacramental candles that had been placed along the wire” (Marquez 1).
Irene’s husband wanted Irene to remain within the confines of the house as a housewife. This was a demand not a request; “I had to be firm and demand more attachment to household. At first she accepted my imposition unwillingly” (Almanzar 9). This is a clear indication that she was controlled by the husband which was against her wishes as a wife. The man had a low opinion of women and boasted that he wanted a woman with little sense.
He wanted her as a wife because she did not have much sense. He thought that such women could not ruin their husbands’ lives. From her appearance she looked humiliated, “she didn’t think too much, although she often showed signs of weariness, of wanting to escape” (Almanzar 10).
Modern Repression and Triumph over Repression
The two stories are significant and quite relevant in the modern society. The poor are exploited with no one to speak out for them. The angel was used to make wealth for Pelayo and Elisanda whereas he lived a miserable life with the chicken. In the modern society, the rich and the leaders are likely to use the poor who work so hard for them, yet they get underpaid and never improve on their lives.
It has become normal for international corporations treat its employees unfairly by underpaying them and exposing them to dangerous work environments. This especially happens in third world countries where governance is weak and government officials are corrupt.
Father Gonzaga could not convince his people. The author referred to the people as sterile and noted that the pleading of father Gonzaga was in vain “His prudence fell on sterile hearts” (Marquez 1). This is an insinuation of how it is hard to educate people.
On the other hand, Irene represents women in society who live in a male dominated society. Women live in accordance to what their husbands say; by being commanded on which work to do, which friends to have, where and when to go. Their failure to meet their husbands’ demands exposes them to being abused.
The alienation from other people depresses them. They do not enjoy being married and thus a time comes when they cannot bear it any longer and therefore they run away from their homes ending up in separation and divorce. As a matter of fact the number of divorces in the modern day society is quite high. There are many cases where people marry and divorce a number of times. This cuts across every nation whether you are looking at the developed nations or the third world countries.
The two stories also portray an energy that does not serve any good cause. The old man had wings, yet he could not stand. Irene was very hard working yet she did not enjoy her life. Both stories are marked with triumph of both victims. The angel got stronger and fled while Irene left her home. The wings of the angel got stronger at same time when Irene was running after the butterflies.
The two stories are similar in that the main characters are exploited, mistreated, confined and alienated. They both came to a time when they could not bear it any longer and left their homes of exploitation. This is relevant in the modern society representing the poor, overworked, underpaid and disrespected wives.
Almanzar, Jose. My Singular Irene. New York, NY: Prentice Hall, n.d. Print.
Marquez, Gabriel. A very old man with enormous wings: A tale for children. Homestead, n.d. Web.
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English Play by Edward Albee “Who is Afraid of Virginia Wolf?” Essay
Updated: May 7th, 2019
Edward Albee focuses on the lifestyle of two couples as he writes the play, who is Afraid of Virginia Wolf? Nick and Honey make up the younger couple while Martha and George are a bit older. The marriage between Martha and George is full of insults; blame game and disrespect, which is contrary to Nick and Honey’s marriage. The author uses the younger couple as a negative reflection of the older couple.
Although Martha and George are old, they enter the house at about two in the morning drunk and shouting, Martha is so loud that George decides to silence her. Surprisingly, they do not go to bed and Martha continues to drink alcohol up to sunrise. Martha reminds George about the visiting couple, Nick and Honey; a fact that he does not like. Finally, Nick and Honey arrive and overhears as George and Martha throw insults at each other.
Due to fear and embarrassment, Nick suggests that they go back home; if anything they should not have shown up in the first place; nevertheless, they gather the courage to enter the house. Nick is calm as George teases and makes fun of his career as a university professor and for the second time running, Nick raises the issue of going back as the home of the old couple is not habitable. Nick’s request to leave the old couple’s house implies that his (Nick) home is habitable and peaceful compared to that of Martha and George.
Additionally, George lacks civilization as he despises his visitors (younger couple), he describes Honey’s figure as hipless and finds fault in Nick’s research on genes. However, Nick remains calm and does not despise his profession and such underscores how the young couples highlight the negative side of the older couple.
Martha is 52 years old; however, Nick’s youthfulness turns her on. She goes ahead and changes into attractive dress to attract Nick and she incessantly flirts with him openly.
Surprisingly, George does not comment on her behavior and overlooks her flirty escapades; this shows the old couple’s marriage is void of happiness, love, and respect. Additionally, Martha talks about her husband’s lack of success opening their marriage secrets to another couple. Similarly, George blames Martha for forcing her into marriage simply because her father has a reputable position at the university.
Nick and Honey helplessly watch their hosts as they tear each other apart; actually the environment is so inhabitable that Honey throws up probably because she cannot stomach the insults exchanged by the old couples. The younger couple continually remains mum about their marriage secrets whether they are happy or not. The author deliberately paints this contrasting picture to show the older couple’s negative side as portrayed by the younger couple.
George’s marriage is on the rocks because Martha has been unable to conceive throughout her life. Although Nick’s marriage is in the similar situation, he corrects George that marriage is not all about children. He asserts that besides kids, there is a career and wealth to build on.
However, Nick confesses that Honey tricked him into marriage with a false pregnancy a fact that he has put up with. There is a blame game between the two couples. However, Nick is unable to face his wife directly and tell her what he thinks about their relationship, a fact that George openly does. Not that Nick is afraid of his wife; no, he respects her something that outstandingly lacks in George’s marriage as he blames his wife for the failure of their marriage.
The intoxicated Martha ridicules her husband’s upcoming novel and brands it ‘trash.’ George is so angry that he picks up a fight with his wife; however, Nick tries to separate them again exposing the negativity that dominates the old couple’s marriage. To cool things down, George suggests a sarcastic game but ends up insulting Nick’s marriage. He calls Honey’s father a womanizer cum a preacher. Martha is unhappy with George’s game and declares war against him (Albee 7). On the other hand, Honey goes to rest and Nick is back after ensuring she is fine. However, Martha takes advantage of Honey’s absence to seduce Nick. Interestingly, when George gets them kissing, he does not raise a finger.
Even though Nick falls into Martha’s trap and goes to bed with her, he fails to erect perhaps because of the love and respect he has for his wife. Again the issue of exposing the negativity in the old couple’s marriage comes out; Nick fails to erect because he loves and respects his wife; on the contrary, Martha has the guts to take Nick to bed even in presence of her husband. Clearly, the author uses the young couple’s marriage to expose the negative side of the older couple.
Honey is still in love with her husband and that’s why she monitors his steps all the time. Lack of respect and infidelity is rampant in the older couple; something that is conspicuously lacking in the young couple’s marriage as evidenced by Nick’s failed erection in presence of Martha.
The younger couple treasures happiness in their marriage as opposed to the older couple. Honey keeps all her emotions and awful intrigues to herself not because she cannot publicize them, but because she knows the price one has to pay to keep a marriage intact; actually she takes alcohol to forget all the problems in her marriage. The older couple is a poor example to the younger couple who still have a brighter future ahead.
The reluctance of Nick to follow George’s footsteps is a clear indication of him knowing the cost of maintaining a marriage. People do not stay together because they do not face problems; far from it, people stay together because they learn to appreciate each other for what they are not what they have or can do. The rift between Nick and George on matters concerning how to keep a relationship together underscores the authors move to expose the old couple’s shortcomings through the young couple.
Nick and Honey are unsatisfied with the older couple’s behavior especially their fantasies about a son. If anything, Honey does not have a child just like Martha; however, she handles the situation soberly not as Martha who sees her husband as a wolf and conventionally wolfs cannot sire sons and daughters. On the other side, Nick handles the issue of childlessness with a lot of understanding and maturity not like George who thinks his wife is a good-for-nothing woman who cannot bear children.
In few words, the old couple’s marriage is an epitome of a failed marriage but the young couple’s marriage symbolizes how a marriage should look like; even in midst of chaos, partners should show maturity and address issues soberly. Therefore, throughout the story the author uses the good deportments of the young couple to underscore the negative behavior that defines the old couple’s marriage.
Albee, Edward. Who is afraid of the Virginia wolf? New York: New York press, 1962.
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Hardships, Family Relationships, Insanity and Death in Two Renowned Dramas Fences by Wilson and Death of a Salesman by Miller Essay
Updated: Jul 1st, 2020
Authors often use such themes as family relations in their literary works. Arthur Miller and August Wilson also resorted to this eternal issue. Their vision, their works Death of a Salesman (Miller) and Fences (Wilson), was praised by many people and is now regarded as conventional. Both plays received many awards and Pulitzer Prize among them.
In-depth analysis of human relationships made the two plays significant literary works. The two authors illustrate hardships of aged men who fail to reveal their affection and care towards their family members. Apart from the depiction of relationships between family members the two authors also touched upon such issues as social and economical hardships and their impact on peoples’ relationships, insanity and death. The two plays explore the same themes which can be regarded as eternal since even nowadays they are up-to-date.
The importance of the main themes of the plays is unquestionable
I have chosen the plays Fences and Death of a Salesman because they deal with issues which are topical at present. People face similar problems in modern American society. Economical hardships made people more concerned with earning money rather than paying attention to building proper relationships with their family members.
Moreover, people tend to close themselves into their shells. Thus, the main characters of the two dramas were the major decision makers in their families. They tried to be the real heads of their families. Unfortunately, this led one of them to insanity and the other one to alienate himself from the rest of the family. Admittedly, when people face problems in outer world the only way to overcome these issues is to construct metaphorical fences around their families which will support come what may.
The two plays have very much in common in terms of the themes revealed. They are written at different times but dwell upon the same issues. The issues remain unsolved because they are really ever-lasting. Perhaps, only in several hundred years people will see the only possible solution which was suggested by Miller and Wilson in the twentieth century. Thus, the main reason I chose the plays is that the themes disclosed in them are really important for people.
Family relationship is the main theme in the plays
The major theme of the two plays is family relationships in hard times. Both families have certain financial constraints. The both protagonists of the plays believe that a “man got to take care of his family” (Wilson 38). This seemingly perfect formula is not realized by them. Troy Maxson and Willy Loman focus on things that are not of primary importance.
Of course, it is essential for the head of the family to earn enough money to bring up his children and support his wife. Nevertheless, the two protagonists fail to fulfill the most important part of being a father and a husband: to build proper relationships with their children and wives, to support not only financially but psychologically. In both plays children get tired of their fathers indifference and the lack of their support.
This distance between the father and the children is better revealed in Fences where Troy’s wife, Rose, that their family consists of “halves” (Jacobus 884). The family has three children from three mothers. The father is alienated from all of the children and his wife. Troy is concerned with racial issues and social injustice, his mistress Alberta and his glorious sport past.
Troy stipulates that he has to take care of his family though none of his children or wife has his support. Cory, his son wants to achieve something in his life playing football, though his father does not want him “to get all tied up in them sports” (Wilson 34). Tory believes that there is no place for non-white people in sports since he was once rejected. Troy is disappointed in his first son, and simply hands in his born out of wedlock child to his wife, Rose.
Miller’s protagonist Willy is also somewhat alienated from his family. Just like Troy Willy fails to keep the proper relationship with his children who do not feel their father’s support. However, in this play the father is eager to be a good father, but makes only mistakes. He has tried to find the way to make money for all his life: “Work a lifetime to pay off a house. You finally own it, and there’s nobody to live in it” (Miller 10). Another excuse for Willy is his insanity. He cannot possibly pay much attention to his family since his own brain alienates him from reality.
The plays have other themes in common
Building fences is an important theme in the plays
The theme of building relationship with other people is supported by another theme: fences. Both protagonists of the plays created fences around themselves. They isolate themselves from the rest of the world. For instance, Troy only sees obstacles and does not want to find the way out.
He tries to rebel but fails – he loses his job. He does not believe that his son will not succeed in sport because Troy constructed a fence when he could not make it out in sport himself. Willy’s fences are even more substantial. His mind starts creating barriers. His children try to stand their father’s insanity though they fail.
Willy is alienated from his own children because of his mental disorder. It is important to add that these fences do not make Willy and Troy invisible and invincible. Vice versa, the fences prevent them from seeing the real world. They do not estimate situations correctly. Eventually, they both lose their jobs and this makes them build new, more substantial fences.
Thus, one of the greatest fences Troy and Willy has built is their reluctance to accept changes. They would like to live dreaming about their past success. Troy is fond of his sport career. He is proud of it. However, he does not want his son to devote his youth to sport, because Troy does not believe in changes.
He still thinks that it is impossible for a colored boy to make a good career in sports. Willy is also concerned with his past success. Of course, in the play he is not that successful salesman as he used to be. Perhaps, this is the reason why he does not like changes as well.
Insanity is also dwelt upon in the plays
The two plays also highlight the theme of insanity. Of course, this issue is revealed in different ways and insanity plays quite different roles in the plays. However, this theme is very important for both plays. Thus, in Death of a Salesman the main character becomes insane because of the hardships he had to overcome. His insanity is manifested by his talks to imaginary people. This insanity alienates the protagonist from his children.
Of course, it leads to his death. As far as the play Fences is concerned, it is necessary to point out that it also pays significant role. To my mind, the insanity of Troy’s brother Gabriel positively influences Troy’s life and gives him salvation. Gabriel’s insanity enables Troy to build his house.
In the end Gabriel opens heaven’s gate for his brother. Thus, Troy’s fences are destroyed (metaphorically, of course), he becomes less alienated from his family after his death. Eventually, the family members try to be respectful to their fathers after their death.
The authors would appreciate each other’s works
In my opinion, the authors would appreciate each other’s works since the plays reveal burning issues and evoke many thoughts. Both plays deal with certain disappointment in life which led to worsening of family relationships. Of course, if the plays were identical the authors would not like them. However, Fences and Death of Salesman depict similar problems in families pertaining to quite different worlds. The Lomans have some financial problems but still have more opportunities than the Maxsons who have to face racial intolerance and suppression. Thus, both writers reveal different facets of the same social and personal issues. This could be the main reason why Miller and Wilson would like the works of each other.
On balance, the plays Fences and Death of a Salesman contain several similar themes. Both plays’ main theme is the family relationship in the times of changes. Apart from this the plays dwell upon such issues as success, insanity and personal alienation. Attention to such important themes makes the plays best examples of the perfect literary works which can inspire people to act or react.
The works like the two plays can help many people think of their own problems from the different angle. Moreover, I am sure that many people will find the necessary solutions for their real life issues.
Jacobus, Lee A. Bedford Introduction to Drama. Boston: Bedford / St. Martins, 2008.
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. New York: Penguin Books Ltd, 1998.
Wilson, August. Fences. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 2010.
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