Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Illusion vs. reality is again a prominent theme, this time in Toni Morrison’s novel, Beloved. Beloved herself is equivocal; the question throughout the whole book is questioning her reality. When she “returns” from the dead, she spins each of the character’s lives upside down, illuminating the concern that they might not be living in the present in her presence, but an illusion. Beloved causes Sethe and Paul D to revist their pasts and even sucks Sethe in so far that it seems as though she has left reality completely to be with her dead daughter. Beloved brings her back to a time when she was free, with all her children alive and with her. However, the reality is that only Denver really remains, and that Sethe is a slave to what once was with Beloved locking the chains on her life.

To Denver, Beloved is the friend and sister she always wanted. However, Denver’s issue is whether or not Beloved’s friendship and love is reality or illusion. Beloved informs Denver multiple times that she is only there for Sethe, but Denver either doesn’t understand or chooses to ignore it as she continues to trail Beloved, constantly seeking her approval. Therefore, Denver is also a slave to Beloved’s illusion. However, unlike Sethe, Denver escapes her clutches and teaches herself how to move on and become independent without letting either Beloved or her mother’s rocky reputation and past define her. Thus, by the end of the novel, Denver discovers the true reality.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Stranger

One thing I didn't ever completely get a grasp on in Camus' The Stranger was Mersault's relationship with the sun. The sun is plays a major role in this novel and even “causes” Mersault to kill an Arab stranger cold blood. Although there are many angles that one could examine this prominent motif, to me it seems that the sun represents the pressure to live. At Maman’s funeral, Mersault freaks out because it keeps beating down on him the whole day. At a funeral full of death, the pressure to fully live seems elevated, because it makes him realize that he may not have much time either. Also, when he is in prison, he dreads the sunrise because he knows that his days are numbered, so he should make the most of them. But he only wants to live to live, not to live to die, and the sun is just a constant reminder of what he has to do every day. When he kills the Arab, I think it is a representation of him killing the smothering pressure to live life “to the fullest”.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Crime and Punishment

In this particular novel, reality vs. illusion is a raging battle in one man's mind. Most importantly, he is faced with deciding whether or not the murder of the old woman was, in fact, wrong. Throughout the novel, he never admits that the act was a crime; he does at one point admit it was a mistake but follows it with a declaration that he would do it again if given a choice. Therefore, it is up to the reader to determine which side of this internal argument is the reality, and which is illusion.

One side of him claims that the law is reality, and because it is against the law, murder is wrong no matter the circumstances hence his sporadic, but obvious, guilt. Also, murder is commonly perceived as morally wrong to society further supporting that Roskolnikov is lost in illusion and gone from the truth that laws and morals uphold.

However, he also believes that by murdering the pawnbroker he bettered the world. For all we know, this exception might actually be reality and society is stuck in the illusion. It could be that it is the morals and laws only blind people from reality, which Roskolnikov believes is that certain people have a right to murder if it is for the good of all mankind.

Crime & Punishment certainly blurs the usually straight lines between illusion and reality and forces contemplation regarding right and wrong. The truth is that no one can ever fully know the difference-human nature can never be completely evaluated and defined; much like illusion and reality reveal in Crime & Punishment.

Henry IV

In Shakespeare's play Henry IV, illusion vs. reality is a common theme. For instance, the king admits he wishes that his son Hal were the gallant Hotspur rather than the lazy rebel he truly is. This "illusion" Henry has for his son creates friction between the two and make the royal family a less than united front.
In addition, Hotspur and the rebels are under the impression that they can easily defeat the king and his supporters. However, this cocky attitude only leads to their ultimate demise, as they were not sufficiently prepared for the real battle- only the simple ones they had created in their minds.
Blunt also dresses up as the King so the rebels will go after him rather than the king. Douglas falls to his trap, and because of the disguise believes he kills Henry, when in reality he is very much alive. This demonstrates how things are much larger and more complex than they may appear, and that we should not blindly trust one action solve problems; rather, it takes persistence and knowledge.