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.