Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Stranger

In The Stranger by Albert Camus, the main character Meursault is a disconnected man who doesn't even cry at his own mother's funeral. Through out the novel, Meursault is chastised for the way he lives his life because it is different from what society says is right. Meursault lives a mediocre, monotonous life with no excitement or expectations. Because of his lifestyle he has no connections or real relationships with others. He has meaningless relationships with the people around him, Marie and Raymond.

After his mother's funeral, Meursault starts dating Marie but throughout the novel there an overwhelming disconnect between the two. Meursault really has no desire other than physical to be with her yet Marie loves him.

"Marie came that evening and asked me if I’d marry her. I said I didn’t mind; if she was keen on it, we’d get married.
Then she asked me again if I loved her. I replied, much as before, that her question meant nothing or next to nothing—but I supposed I didn’t."

His emotionless answers show that he really doesn't care that much about the relationship and that it doesn't have much of an impact on him. Although he doesn't depend on Marie, she provides him with a constant barrage of affection and loves him and visits him in jail when no one else will.

Meursault also interacts with a man named Raymond that ultimately leads to his downfall. Although Meursault is also disconnected from the relationship with this man he is affected by it in a way that will change his life. Raymond is in a fight with some Arabs and when Meursault goes to the beach with Raymond, he is dragged into the fight. Raymond allows Meursault to become part of his "gang" to help fight the Arabs when in reality Meursault has nothing to do with it. In the end, Meursault is affected by the sun beating down on him and kills the Arab.

"But I fired four shots more into the inert body, on which they left no visible trace. And each successive shot was another loud, fateful rap on the door of my undoing."

By the end of the novel, he finally wants to feel emotions and see the relationships between people and on his dying day he finally comes to a realization.

"all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration."

He wants to be able to feel some kind of emotion or connection to people that he had pushed out of all of his relationships in his life. He wanted something more.

Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky was a novel of ups and downs that took the reader inside the mind of a killer who found ultimate redemption through a relationship with another. Raskolnikov committed murder and was faced with psychological and internal struggles about what he had done. He was crazed and had no one to turn to with his secret until he found a girl name Sonia who helped transform his life and would lead him to redemption in Christ.

Raskolnikov finds commonality between himself and Sonia because of her past life and is drawn to her and she becomes the most important relationship in his life.

"I have only you now," he added. "Let us go together....I've come to you, we are both accursed, let us go our way together!"

They have both sinned and Raskolnikov believes that Sonia will accept his sin and he has grown attached to her. Although Sonia is frightened at times by Raskolnikov, she sees something within him that eventually makes her say that she will follow him anywhere. Raskolnikov is confused at first by Sonia's love and devotion to him and doesn't understand why she would be so willing to accept him and his pain.

“But his feelings was stirred; his heart ached, as he looked at her. “Why is she grieving too?” he thought to himself. “What am I to her? Why does she weep? Why is she looking after me, like my mother or Dounia?”

As the novel progresses, Raskolnikov turns to Sonia for support and finally confesses that he was the one that had killed the old pawnbroker and Lizaveta. This confession leads him on his way to redemption. Sonia pushes him to confess and to turn himself in to take responsibility of his actions.

"Go at once, this very minute, stand at the cross-roads, bow down, first kiss the earth which you have defiled, and then bow down to all the world and say to all men aloud, 'I am a murderer!' Then God will send you life again. Will you go, will you go?"

She has strong faith in Christ and believes that God will give Raskolnikov a life again after he confesses and goes to Siberia. She follows him to Siberia where he is able to find God. Without the relationship with Sonia, without the constant support and love, Raskolnikov would never have been able to find redemption, he would never have been able to find God. Without her, his life would have ended. The love that she gave to Raskolnikov kept him alive.

"They were renewed by love; the heart of each held infinite sources of life for the heart of the other"

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Father and Son

There are many different intertwining relationships in this play of deception and redemption. One of the main relationships that is emphasized is the relationship between a father and a son. This could relate to King Henry and Prince Hal, or Falstaff and Prince Hal, or King Henry and Hotspur.

King Henry and Prince Hal:

King Henry is very disappointed in his son because Hal spends all of his time hanging out at the pub with all of the pub crawlers. He does not act in a royal manner and causes trouble for his father. In the end Prince Hal reveals his plan to finally leave all of his bad qualities behind and take up the responsibility of being royal. In doing so he thought that he would seem even more respectable when he would become king because the people would not know what to expect. In doing this he renews his relationship with is father and ends up saving him during the battle. He kills Hotspur and gains the respect of his father.

Falstaff and Prince Hal:

Falstaff acts almost like a father figure or mentor to Prince Hal. They have an interesting relationship where the play jokes on each other and make fun of each other. One time Hal decided to play a trick on Falstaff and rob him and then make fun of him afterwards. This childish relationship reflects both Falstaff and Prince Hal's qualities and reveals to Prince Hal how he really should act if he hopes to become king.

King Henry and Hotspur:

King Henry at one point says that he would rather have Hotspur as a son and that he is more worthy of the throne than Prince Hal.

"Yea, there thou mak’st me sad and mak’st me sin
In envy that my Lord Northumberland
Should be the father to so blest a son—
A son who is the theme of honour’s tongue,
Amongst a grove the very straightest plant,
Who is sweet Fortune’s minion and her pride—
Whilst I, by looking on the praise of him
See riot and dishonor stain the brow
Of my young Harry. O, that it could be proved
That some night-tripping fairy had exchanged
In cradle clothes our children where they lay,
And called mine Percy, his Plantagenet!"
Act One Scene One Lines 77-88

In the beginning, Hotspur does like King Henry and is willing to help him, but throughout the play, he increasingly begins to use King Henry's affection to his advantage. King Henry never expected that Hotspur would turn against him or betray him. Hotspur uses this knowledge to gain his trust and then in the end rallies the rebels against him to overthrow his reign. King Henry realizes that he should not be so trusting of others. He sees that his own son was in reality better than Hotspur could ever be.

Throughout the play the relationships between the characters changed and ultimately revealed who they could really trust.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Oedipus Rex

In Oedipus Rex the characters are deceived by their relationships. In the case of the relationship between Oedipus and his mother/wife, Oedipus unknowingly married his mother. Because of a prophecy that has been made it causes Oedipus to take a step back and examine his life. Through examining he finds his wife to be his mother. This realization causes him to gouge out his eyes and exile himself. The relationship with his mother/wife turned out to be harmful because he grew up believing that someone else was his mother and father. The lack of information that he had about his life caused him to destroy his relationships.

His relationship with his father was also destroyed. Because Oedipus did not know who his real father was, he killed him. Oedipus never got to have a relationship with his father. Without the guidance of his real father, Oedipus loses some direction in his life.

Oedipus is also transformed by his relationship with Tiresias. Tiresias accuses Oedipus of killing his father and marrying his mother. Oedipus gets defensive and angry when he hears those words. Because of his ignorance Oedipus is unable to accept the truth from Tiresias and causes him to question those around him.

Oedipus is missing something from the relationships he has with people. He does not truly know who the people are. The lack of information causes conflict and pain that can not be undone.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Odyssey

In The Odyssey by Homer, both Odysseus and Telemakhos are both transformed and affected by the relationships that they have with the gods. Without the relationship they have with the gods, they would never have been able to overcome the adversity that was set in front of them.

Athena befriends Telemakhos and helps him get through a tough time in his life were he feels he need to live up to his fathers expectations and take action and control over his house. Athena encourages him and gives him the tools he needs to overcome the pressure and become his fathers’ son. Through his relationship with Athena he is transformed from a boy into a man.

Odysseus also has relationships with the gods that help him to shape who he becomes. In some instances he has negative relationships that he learns from. When he yells his name back to the Cyclopes he shows his hubris and in doing so leaves himself vulnerable to the wrath of Poseidon. Although Poseidon is not on Odysseus’ side, the interaction from him magnifies Odysseus’ mistake and teaches him not to be so prideful and that he needs to be humble. Odysseus also has a relationship with Athena where she is helping him to return home to his family and his life. Through her help and influence, Odysseus knows how to act and what to say in the situations he encounters.

The relationships that Odysseus and Telemakhos both have help them to grow and become a better version of themselves. They took and learned from the advise the gods gave them and the relationship they had formed.

Are we going to the Lighthouse?

How are people transformed through their relationships with others?

People are negatively and positively impacted by the relationships they have with the people around them. In To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, James is negatively impacted by the relationship that he has with his father. James is always asking if they are going to the Lighthouse. He is wishing and hoping for something that is denied to him by his father. His father Mr. Ramsay always tells him that there will be no trip to the Lighthouse, seeming almost to get pleasure out of doing so. James resents his father and harbors a grudge against him, resulting in a negative energy between the two characters.

But his son hated him. He hated him for coming up to them, for stopping and looking down on them; he hated him for interruption them; he hated him for the exaltation and sublimity of his gestures; for the magnificence of his head; for his exactingness and egotism…but most of all he hated the twang and twitter of his father’s emotion which, vibrating round them, disturbed the perfect simplicity and good sense of his relation with his mother (pg 36-37).

His father also impacts James’ relationship with his mother and is very bitter about this. James looks to his mother for support and love that he doesn’t receive from his father. When his father is around James doesn’t get his mothers full attention.

As James grew older his bitterness towards his father consumed him and eventually he becomes like his father, moody and seeking praise from others. His relationship transformed him to become like the person he hated most.