Tuesday, March 2, 2010

As I Lay Dying Essay


Flannery O’Connor, a 20th century southern writer, has commented in a few places about the purpose of grotesque distortion:

“I am interested in making a good case for distortion because I am coming to believe it is the only way to make people see.”

“I have to make the reader feel, in his bones if nowhere else, that something is going on here that counts. Distortion in this case is an instrument; exaggeration has a purpose, and the whole structure of the story or novel has been made what it is because of belief. This is not the kind of distortion that destroys; it is the kind that reveals, or should reveal.”

Write an essay in which you “make a good case for distortion” in As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. How do distortions – grotesques, exaggerations – help Faulkner to reveal what would otherwise remain hidden? How do distortions contribute to the effectiveness of As I Lay Dying?


One definition of madness is “mental delusion or the eccentric behavior arising from it.” But Emily Dickinson wrote:

Much Madness is divinest Sense --
To a discerning Eye --
Much Sense -- the starkest Madness --
‘Tis the Majority
In this, as All, prevail --
Assent -- and you are sane --
Demur -- you're straightway dangerous --
And handled with a Chain --
Novelists and playwrights have often seen madness with a “discerning Eye.” How does madness or irrational behavior play an important role in a novel or play? (Write a well-organized essay) explaining what this delusion or eccentric behavior consists of and how it might be judged reasonable. Explain the significance of the “madness” to the work as a whole.
Semitransparent Envelope

Virginia Woolf wrote that “life is a luminous halo, a semitransparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.” Explain how William Faulkner shows the "semitransparent envelope" around his characters and how this envelope of consciousness is significant to the work as a whole.

1000+ words, twelve-point font, double spaced


Hayden said...

Madness PART 1
Madness is can usually be put down as mental distortion or deterioration of ones mental state. It is accompanied by any and all signs of insanity on the person’s physical state. It can also be categorized with the idea that someone does not show the signs of the social normality. Madness is something the masses don’t condone in their society because it could range from something as simple as an theory to pure anti-culture itself. The loss of “mind” is a very level heavy subject to delve into.
As an example people consider some killers as mad, insane or crazy but will also consider our current president, Barack Obama, to be mad himself with his theories and ideals. As you look into written works there are many like Barack who have ideas they share and are instantly labeled insane and out of their right mind. A great example is the Fool in most Shakespeare plays. He does not adhere to society and is therefore looked down upon by others and just told he is a crazy human used for entertainment. But if you read in the lines to what the Fool usually says he knows the truth about many a thing. He also seems to be the one who knows how to fix a problem with a few simple phrases. But due to his status and differing views he is labeled mad.
Another example of a Shakespeare insanity case is Hamlet. Hamlet is stricken with grief by his father’s death and as a sensible way to deal with grief he sees his father as an apparition. You later find that his hallucination is right. But his grief creates a revenge hungry monster. Hamlet unlike the Fool is on the other side of the mad spectrum where he actually reverts to a primal instinct to kill an enemy who has taken family from him. His actions leave you in a speechless mess because of his turn of action but when you are put in a place of Hamlet, the idea and the actions he took don’t seem too extreme in the slightest. Also living in a different time gives a different outlook to the situation. Being put in medieval times where deaths are not easily traced the idea is not completely insane, it is actually the opposite. So Hamlet can actually be looked at as a tragic hero more than an insane human.

Hayden said...

A great example of pleading insanity is the boys from Lord of the Flies. The actions they take. The killing of two of the boys and the reverting back to tribal rules and ideals. The fact that the boys are considered mad or insane is very understandable and sensible from our point of view. As one of them, their actions are very explainable. For instance Simon’s encounter with the pig head in the woods. Due to his current situation of being stranded on an island in the heat with malnutrition his vision and fainting episode show the way he can not except chaos in the world and he’s stricken with the fainting.
Also Jack is a good character to show as mad. With rules taken away from the clan Jack creates a new society reverting back to primal needs. He also applauds the killing of animals and other things. He also creates the persona of the beast and as the novel continues he believes the existence of the character he has created. To make him even crazier he also justifies the killing of Simon and Piggy blaming on weakness and survival of the fittest. Jack shows one of the closest examples of madness in novels not because of madness though. It’s due to Jack being an archetype of evil meaning to show the early stage of dictatorship by shock and awe.
Madness, insanity, craziness or whatever you want to refer to it as. It is a very broad term because there are characters and people who show differing levels of madness. Not all labeled as mad are truly even mad or insane in their mind. Some are mad geniuses and could solve problems but there methods are unnatural or different. Someone is considered mad to put a society on a universal healthcare systems so everyone can have the means of living. And some others are put as crazy for a stray thought here and there. All the talk of madness has just created more thoughts to process and new ideas to ponder. Madness to me is too broad a term to represent an eccentric group of individuals but I digress. Madness is not a term or a person but a seemingly logical way to express anything outside the social norm.