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Herman Melville: Similarities in Claggart and Captain Ahab
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Herman Melville was a struggling writer in the mid-1800s, who spent a few years of his life as a sailor and crew member of whaling ships in the south seas. These experiences greatly influenced his writing, causing there to be many similarities among his novels. In two of his works, Moby-Dick, and Billy Budd, Melville seems to have created two characters, Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick, and John Claggart from Billy Budd, who both share some very comparable qualities and experiences. The most prevalent characteristic that links them together is that in their stories, they both possess an unrelenting and somewhat...
feel toward that individual. Their envy is rather complex, but can be simplified in that the reason for Ahab hating the whale Moby-Dick, and Claggart hating the sailor Billy Budd, is that Moby-Dick and Billy both exhibit qualities of magnificence and strength, that Ahab and Claggart do not. Then, in the end, the strength of the whale and Billy of which they both abhor, is ironically the cause of both of their deaths. It is with these connections of spirit, personality, and experience in Captain Ahab and John Claggart, that best display the similarities between these Herman Melville characters.
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"Only if we look deeply into..."Only if we look deeply into ourselves can we discover who we really are". Erich Fromm Birdy" at first may seem to be a book characterized by its shallowness and simplicity, nevertheless it is within a plain plot and structure that the real values are hidden. Wharton's story gives us the insight into human qualities which are subjected to only one objective: life itself. The book carries the reader into a completely different reality showing how a boy creates and lives in his own world. Psychological portrait of Birdy, which the author presented, has a symbolic meaning. Most importantly, it shows that the capacity to perceive lies within the individual. One of the psychological aspects that Wharton profoundly deals with is the outline of two different characters: Al and Birdy. Those characters represent diverse qualities, nevertheless they seem to overlap to a certain extent. Al has a very rational view of life. His realistic approach enables him to step firmly through life, catch every opportunity of it. However, when he meets Birdy, he realizes that it wasn't true at all, and all that time he was simply walking with his eyes half-opened. Realism is what Birdy's philosophy of life is lacking, therefore that is why their characters seem to complement one another. A lasting relationship is created, on the basis of which the reader has the opportunity to observe what psychological changes they undergo. Al wants to show Birdy the world that he has not discovered yet. On the other hand, Birdy tries to unveil the beauty of different reality that he himself becomes fascinated with. Each of us has a nature of its own, unique and exceptional. Wharton stresses it throughout the story. He skilfully crafts a psychologically intricate character "“ Birdy, who sees the world in different colours and shades. He explores the world through a completely different reality. Al's friendship on the one hand gives him a closer insight into the real world, on the other one intensifies his obsession. What actually Wharton shows is how far can it really go. Birdy doesn't have control over his thoughts, he seems to be helpless. It is his desires that dictate all his actions. They become a source for his eccentric behaviour. Passion to birds is so overwhelming that Birdy becomes unaware of the very facts of the real life. The real world is a maze where he hopelessly seeks for exit. That is mainly why he escapes to a little haven of refuge from the world, where he can be sure of being admired when he is not admirable, and praised he is not praiseworthy. Birdy creates a world of his own, a place were he could feel safe, proud and needed. He looks for some understanding among others, but it is only in the world created by him that he can find his essence of life. A dream in which he becomes a bird has even a sexual connotation. It constantly comes back at night, and becomes so strong that he looses the ability to distinguish between the real, and the imaginary world: "The dream is as real to me now as my waking life. I don't know where one begins and the other ends." However, this different reality that Birdy enters becomes a borderline for Al. At the beginning of their friendship Birdy tries to balance between those two diverse worlds, nonetheless his passion turns out to be stronger. Al and Birdy create a lifelong affection - friendship. It becomes the greatest sweetener of their lives. Only few do discover what it means to be raised to the highest pitch of enjoyment of life. His faith in the possibility of flying helps him to 'survive' his unhappy childhood. Birdy lives in the mind, in ideas, in fragments. His passion gave him air to breathe, otherwise he would suffocate. He does not give up and that makes him the winner. For Al, Birdy's eccentric behaviour is - as he states it "simply going too far". He is afraid of it, as the world that Birdy enters is an unknown quantity for Al. He sees that his friend's passion becomes uncontrollable and therefore Birdy's behaviour is more and more unpredictable. Al starts to understand that he cannot do much about the situation, and that the whole "weirdness" is beyond his comprehension. That is mainly why he turns his back at Birdy, leaving him alone. Birdy is not capable of finding his own place in the surrounding reality and in the eyes of others he is perceived as insane. "There is no such an absurd thing that a man wouldn't do just to give life a purpose."Wharton When after war Al comes back to help Birdy recover, he realizes the very true facts of life. His behaviour in the hospital for mentally disabled reveals his affectionate nature. Al understands that Birdy became a part of his life. However, the situation that he has to cope with terrifies him. On the way to Birdy's mental recovery, which does not seem to have positive results, Al realizes that the world they are living in is full of ugliness, danger and depravity. One therefore should build a world of his own, where all these problems do not simply exist. Wharton, when asked about the purpose of psychological intricateness of some of his characters including Birdy said that it is "because there is some lie in this world that I want to expose". Wharton through psychological portraits of characters shows the duality of worlds, a clash between the mimetic world and the one created by friendship and passion. Fictional world crafted by author suggests another notion of sanity in a world that is manifestly insane. Birdy creates his own philosophy of life "“ a weapon against the reality. "It takes twenty years or more of peace to make a man; it takes only twenty seconds of war to destroy him." Baudouin I Birdy is a mentally fragile character. He is capable of seeing things other people consider unimportant and meaningless. Those little things give him hope and something he can believe in. His whole life revolves around them. Nevertheless, this is completely changed by war. It puts an end to his delicate psyche which is crushed under the burden of what he has to go through. All the suffering, pain, fear and the feeling of uncertainty destroy his belief in the world he is living in. That is why Birdy escapes into his own reality, however that is where he gets lost. His contact with the real world is disabled, war brainwashes him into unreasonable way of perceiving the reality. Birdy's approach to life reveals general truths of this world. It shows that if we want to find the right way in our lives we can only do it by looking for it in ourselves. The reader at some point may wonder about the psychological aspects of human's behaviour, asking such questions as: What is really needed to preserve one's happiness, to be really free? Is it actually possible? Can we make us believe that everything has a purpose? Al and Birdy have objectives for their lives but they are not capable of adjusting to social stereotypes. They constantly run away from them, searching for something new. Wharton's technique of portraying the fictional world is a very specific one. The reader gets to know all the events from different perspectives. The world is perceived through Al's and Birdy's eyes. The details of the boys' past life are shown by means of retrospection. Wharton"s writing is often dark and incorporates surrealistic elements sharply contrasted against visceral reality. In his mind, Birdy lives as a bird, and the description of that life has a dreamy, unreal quality. Through his friend Al, we see the reality of his life: the grim veteran"s hospital, the uncaring staff, Birdy"s poor physical state. The differing elements fit together to form a whole life, even if it is a life given over to madness. The story shows that in the search of freedom one has to go through real and metaphysical maze. It is the only thing Birdy needs to fly thought the depths of life. He proves that the real art of life is to make the impossible, possible. In many ways, Wharton's view of the world is true. By a characteristic way of presenting the fictional world, the reader has the opportunity to acquaint with the vast psychological portraits of characters. We get to know not only bare facts, but also inner thoughts and the emotions that accompany them. That is why the reader can perceive the fictional world through different perspectives and identify with the characters. Wharton by means of plain and straightforward language expresses deeper thoughts. Characters' actions become symbolic and can be interpreted on different grounds.   

"Only if we look deeply into ourselves can we discover who we really are". Erich Fromm Birdy" at first may seem to be a book characterized by its shallowness and simplicity, nevertheless it is within a plain plot and structure that the real values are hidden. Wharton's story gives us...

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"In children you should never let..."In children you should never let such angry passions rise; their little hands were never made to tear each other's eyes." ~ Isaac Watts The fairytale is often an entertaining story of miraculous and supernatural happenings. Its purpose is to galvanize the depths of our minds in such a way as to make us a part of the landscape, bound only by the limits of our own imaginations. However, it is this very 'free-for-all' fantasy land that poses a very real threat to its intended audience "“ children. Both traditional and contemporary fairytales experienced by children can have harmful effects on a child's psyche. This is especially true when children are exposed to these fairytales during the early stages of psychological development. When do we most often expose children to the fairytale? More likely than not, we use the tales to 'comfort' our children, perhaps to calm them down, in the form of bedtime stories. But, have you ever really thought about the messages we give to a child through the words of these fairytales? 'Snow White' advocates divorce and black magic. There's justified homicide and cannibalism in 'Hansel & Gretel', mass murder in 'Blue Beard', as well as betrayal and pre-meditated murder in the 'Lion King'. Is it any wonder, then, that the child comes running or sits screaming and crying because he's afraid to be baked in the oven - or maybe he feared that since Cruella DeVille is so persistent to skin those little puppies, that she might be apt to do the same to little boys! We try to reassure them that it was just a fairytale "“ that it was just make-believe. But how can we expect a child to take our word that it's not real? Especially since we constantly portray ourselves as hypocrites when we threaten that we will "get the boogie man after you if you don't eat all of your peas, young man!" Since the early 19th century, many fairytales have been the center of stark criticism causing heated discussion among the world's leading personalities of the time. Each having opposing views, Dr. Karl Oppel, a German psychologist, and Dr. Bruno Bettelheim, a child psychologist from the United States, were two of the most voiced fairytale experts. Though theses two men were three generations from each other, Dr. Bettelheim drew most of his protests from Dr. Oppel's most publicized findings and opinions in a 1903 debate. In his book, The Parent's Book: Practical Guidance for the Education at Home, Oppel made his strong argument against telling fairytales to children. He states that we should "shelter children from the ugly, illogical, overly violent, and frightening "“ All of which are carelessly portrayed through the fairy tale [fairytale]" Oppel, Should children be"¦. In the text, Oppel goes on to recount a childhood story in which a young man is passing the time away under the gallows, and is amusing himself with several hanged corpses. Later, he takes the corpses from their coffins and lays them with him in bed! Surely this is not the type of image that we want to share with our children. Nor is that of the evil step-mom portrayed as being a blackened sorceress, giants living in the sky that are apt to eat you, or a little man that rips himself in two when you guess what his name is! Think about it: It's a warm summer night and the children are all tired from the day's events. Mom comes in, hushes them, and begins to tell a story of two young children who have become too expansive for their parents to support. This, therefore, justifies the stepmother's decision to murder the two of them. She sends her husband to carry this out; however instead, he abandons them deep in the woods, where, by the way, they are lured to a cabin made entirely of sweets. This cabin, though, just happens to be the home of an evil witch who savors human flesh and whose only intention is to fatten the children, bake them in the oven, and eat them for dinner! And what is the moral of the story-? Stepmothers are evil, Daddy is weak and corrupt, and the child needs to fend for himself in an ugly wicked world! Why would we recite this horrific scenario to our children? As entertaining as this fairytale known as 'Hansel and Gretel' may seem, I feel it is causing nothing but chaos for the child's delicate mind. As people grow up and mature, they seem to forget what the world was like for them as young children. Children are active participants every second of the day. Nothing escapes the attention of a child. It's true that something may not hold the child's attention for very long, but rest assured, nothing in a child's world goes unnoticed. Infact, children experience everything with a heightened awareness simply because they are children Brice, 73-75. They are learning about their world, leaving no stone unturned, if you will. And everything that they see, hear, touch, and feel affects how they perceive the world that they are living in. Children begin this long process the moment that they enter the scene. To a child, there is only one state of being, that of reality. Therefore, everything we present to the child, in their eyes, is the truth "“ it's real. Now, when the child has established one set of perceived truths, and then handed the fairytale, what is he to do? He has no sense of fantasy and there is no doubt in his mind that the fairytales are true-to-life accounts. Therefore, the fairytale truths are incorporated into the child's current belief system. So now we have 1. those are my parents, 2.oh, I'm supposed to use the potty, and 3. these are my magic beans "“ just like the ones Jack got for selling his best friend, the cow. Granted, in most cases the child will not grow up thinking that magic beans will grow into giant beanstalks, but who's to say this won't lead to believing in the supernatural? Is it not true that a very large portion of society bases a lot of their beliefs on superstition? And this is coming from people of all walks of life"¦ everybody from the rich and the poor, the street urchins and the high society aristocrats. Most of whom should be able to separate reality and fantasy. I am reminded of a song titled 'The Son of Superman' Dion, Le Fils de Superman. In it, there is a little boy who has just turned eight years old. To celebrate his birthday, his parents take him to see New York City, the city of Superman, because their son is such a fan. The first day there, the boy's father comes across a superman costume and purchases it for him. That evening, the boy decides that he wants to where the costume as pajamas. This is where the harm fairytales has on young children comes into play. Wearing his superman costume, the little boy believes he can "fly like a bird", fly like his hero, Superman. He quietly moves to the view window, without waking his parents, and jumps from the fiftieth floor of the hotel, plunging to his death. Though the song is fiction, it is a very real possibility, and all because of the incapability of the child to draw a line between fantasy and reality. Another point about the fairytales that we tell our children"¦, could they be an underlying factor in youth violence? Sociologists have conducted hundreds of studies to determine if there is a relationship between violence presented through media and real-life juvenile violence. Over 217 studies performed from 1957 to 1990, indicate "a positive and significant correlation between [media] violence and aggressive behavior" in youth King, 483. The following is an excerpt from "Blue Beard". [She threw herself at her husband's feet, asking pardon with tears"¦but Blue Beard had a heart harder than any stone. "You must die, madam, and at once!""¦Seizing her by the hair with one hand, and with the other brandishing the sabre aloft, he made as if to cut off her head"¦They plunged their swords through his body and left him dead. The poor women"¦had not the strength to rise"¦] Blue Beard. Clearly, violence like this has to affect a child psychologically as well as emotionally and socially. In an interview with college English professor, Erik Simpson, he shared the feeling to some extent that 'Blue Beard' is an overly violent story for children. Siding with Dr. Bettlehiem however, Mr. Simpson pointed out that "one theory about this [the violence] is that children need ways to understand the things they fear,"¦stories provide a harmless way of making sense of the world." Bettelhiem argues insistently of the reasons children need to experience fairytales. He feels that fairytales do not define or influence a child's perception of reality, poking fun at parents who claim that fairytales do not render truthful pictures of life as it really is and those who feel that they are lying to their children by telling them these fantastic and miraculous events in fairytales. Bettelhiem even goes as far as to scold parents for "further watering down of these tales to make them seem nicer or kinder, more child-friendly" Bettelhiem, 117. He claims that the only truth in fairytales is the truth of our imaginations, which is such a contradiction on his part. The imaginations of children are limitless, and because they do not yet understand the concept of fantasy when they are young, their minds should not be led in such a way as to frighten or mislead them of the 'real' world. In Bettelhiem's book, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, he has this to say: ["¦that a struggle against severe difficulties in life is unavoidable, is an intrinsic part of human existence "“ but that if one does not shy away, but steadfastly meets unexpected and often unjust hardships, one masters all obstacles and at the end emerges victorious. These are crucial issues that these tales teach our children"¦the fairy tale [fairytale]"¦confronts the child squarely with the basic human predicaments] Bettelhiem, 9. According to Dr. Bettelhiem, the polarity that fairytales offer also is a major plus in telling both the contemporary and traditional tales. The characters are either all good or all evil "“ never both at the same time. He says this allows the child to easily comprehend the difference between the two. Again, people in the real world aren't always just bad or just good; looks deceive. After reading Dr. Bettelhiem's work, I have to strongly disagree that the fairytales, with all their negative influence, can help a child's development. Especially it being a so-called necessity. Do we really want to tell our children about Mother Trudy, the woman in the Grimm's Kinder und Hause Marchen who turns disobedient children into logs and warms herself as they burn in the fire? Can we expect them to realize how odd it is for a woman whose husband is a mass murderer to cry and beg for forgiveness for opening the door that contains the evidence of his crimes? Childhood is the most important time in a human's life. A child is fascinated with every aspect of each day that he experiences. This is the very reason that time moves more slowly during those childhood years. Think, for example, how long a summer seems between one school year to the next, or how long the actual school year seems compared to the last. The routine experiences in childhood are so vivid: when you were very happy, sad, or angry, those emotions color everything and effect how people, places, and events are perceived. This, in turn, creates disillusioned memories and misleads the child's view of what is real and what is fantasy. Rie Nakayama writes that, "When I was a child, I experienced many fairytales in one form or another and was often scared by their horrible expressions" Nakayama, Our World. In finishing my research, I find that telling young children fairytales, with very few exceptions, is not acceptable. The images that are continually projected through the words of the fairytales are too often misleading and destructive to the healthful development of the child psychologically as well as emotionally. I don't mean to say that we should keep fairytales from our children altogether. Perhaps when the child reaches the age of 11 or 12, then should he decide to experience the numerous fairytales available, that right would be his. I feel however, that in this case, the child will see how silly and strange the stories are and would dismiss the tales. In any case, the fairytales would be taken as just that"¦a fairytale.   

"In children you should never let such angry passions rise; their little hands were never made to tear each other's eyes." ~ Isaac Watts The fairytale is often an entertaining story of miraculous and supernatural happenings. Its purpose is to galvanize the depths of our minds in such a way...

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