All of Samuel Beckett’s writings focus primarily on the ideas of existentialism, or the theory of emphasizing the existence of his an individual as a free person responsible for his or her own will. Both The Waste Land and Endgame display this sense that there is no meaning behind our actions or the way in which things fall into place throughout our existence, which leads to the conclusion that what occurs throughout one’s lifetime ultimately happens by random chance.
Throughout Endgame we are able to gain the sense that the actions which occur seem so routine that they are done without giving much thought, therefore lacking meaning. Beckett’s short and direct sentence structure allows the reader to conclude this. In the play, Clov states “All life long the same questions, the same answers” (2581). This statement reflects the idea of existentialism in the way in which the only true meaning in life is found below the surface.
Virginia Woolf’s second part of To the Lighthouse references many of times to events taking place during the time period of World War I. The third chapter alone refers much to cold, darkness, destruction, and both the deaths of Mrs. Ramsay (128), Prue Ramsay (132), and Andrew Ramsay (133) which are aspects commonly associated with the devastation and pain brought on because of war.
Chapter four begins to talk about emptiness which is almost a metaphor to the end of war and the emptiness of both sides because of lives lost (128) while provoking the idea that day after day, the only thing left in the house were shadows (129) possibly meaning that things may die but their memories still remain which in a sense is what keeps them alive.
When one associates something with “culture” often what comes to mind is something which connects or brings a group together. It is the notion of allowing many smaller pieces to connect and form something much larger. T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” exemplifies this sense of a culture in the way in which the pieces make up its entity. However, in comparison to Matthew Arnold’s perception of culture, Eliot’s poem could not be more drastically different from his claim.
Arnold views culture in a way that it is thought to be full of perfection where as Eliot sees it in more of a dark and broken sense with a primary focus on death. It is as though Eliot stresses the idea of death because it plays a key theme when associated with the idea of renewal and growth. Although much of his poem is in a sense dark, the theme of renewal is found when he discusses the idea of something blooming. Going back on the theme of culture, ultimately something must lose all of its feature before it can be renewed.
The main point of literature during the time which James Joyce wrote both “Araby” and “Eveline” was based off of a strong focus on images inspiring the writings rather than just events. We get a feel for this in “Araby” when Joyce makes the comparison “But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.” (2219). He also describes how “…every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlour watching her door. The blind was pulled down to within an inch of the sash so that I could not be seen.” (2219). Both of these examples allow the reader to almost put a picture into their mind of what Joyce is depicting through his vivid descriptions. One is also able to understand the feelings of each character throughout the piece because of this diction as well.
Much like “Araby”, “Eveline” one is able to infer the feelings of the characters because of the descriptions used. “Still they seemed to have been rather happy then. Her father was not so bad then; and besides, her mother was alive. That was a long time ago; she and her brothers and sisters were all grown up; her mother was dead.” (2222). Joyce presents us with an image of a family who ultimately falls apart because of a father’s violent acts towards the other members as well as the death of a mother and wife. We are able to gain knowledge of the feelings of anger and scare which the family experiences.
Both Charles Darwin and Elizabeth Gaskell provoke the idea of a sort of social order throughout each of their writings. We are able to infer through out Darwin’s theories and “Our Society at Cranford” that both authors felt as though they were somewhat superior to the inferior man. Darwin is quick to point out that not all man are created with equality and that because of this there are those who are considered to be “inferior” and those who possess “greater” qualities. Gaskell also touches on the idea of a social order when she makes the comment “What does it signify how we dress here at Cranford where everybody knows us?” (page 1433). Her description of being well known throughout her community emphasizes the idea of having a social order. This idea is very prominent in our culture today and the way in which our society is discriminatory towards those who are considered to be different from us.
Both copies of “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” can be interpreted by its audience to have striking contrasts being that they are the same image. The 1794’s Fitzwilliam copy seems to give off a much more luminous feel, whereas Morgan’s 1790’s version seems almost darker and more contrasting. However, I feel as though the Morgan version is much more lively and realistic in a sense, unlike the Fitzwilliam piece which almost has a warmer feel about it.
Although I favored the Morgan version more at the beginning, after gaining insight into the poem I feel as though the 1794 copy depicted the comparison between Heaven and Hell much more clearly than the 1790’s copy. In the poem, both plate 3 and plate 4 discuss the much of the ideas of energy and human existence. “From these contraries spring what the religious call Good & Evil. Good is the passive that obeys Reason Evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell.” (Plate 3) “1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul for that calld Body is a portion of Soul discernd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age. 2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is bound or outward circumference of Energy.” (Plate 4) I feel that the colors used in the Fitzwilliam version captured these ideas, primarily through the uses of color representation. Unlike Morgan’s more earthy version, the Fitzwilliam copy seems to give off a clear distinction between what is Heaven (white) and what is Hell (red) and I also feel as though this copy embodies the idea between the body and the soul.
William Gilpin relays to us that the idea of something being picturesque is derived from the notion that the piece itself has some sort of roughness about it. This idea is a primary difference which separates the picturesque from both the sublime and the beautiful. Among many other characteristics, the beautiful focuses on that which is both symmetrical and proportional whereas the sublime is primarily about that which brings us to the edge of our emotions and in a sense, that which is dark and brings about fear.
Throughout “Tintern Abbey”, William Wordsworth is interpreting the idea of the picturesque through his descriptive choice of word usage. Whether he is describing “the landscape with the quiet of the sky” (line 8), or the “…darkness, and amid the many shapes of joyless day-light…” (lines 52-53), Wordsworth’s vivid and descriptive communication to his audience makes the reader feel as though he or she could visualize the scenery in his or her own mind.