King LearShakespeare’s King Lear is a tragedy concerning the broken, irreparable bonds in the family. This sense of dissolution, nothingness, and turmoil is embedded throughout the play. It is most notable in the ending through the demise of Cordelia.In the play, the recurrence of death seems to be a profound motif throughout, but it is ever more abundant then in this final scene, ending the play on a note of relentless melancholy. In Act V, Scene III, when Lear howls over his beloved daughter, Cordelia, asking “Why should a dog, a horse, a rat, have life, / And thou no breath at all?”, this reveals the stark but formidable truth that death is inevitable, regardless of an individual’s virtue. Within this passage, this character voices the question that we all ask when a loved one dies, mourning the death of his daughter, which suggests that divine justice does not exist in this world of misery. Therefore, King Lear is bounded by his state of depression.
Despite his grief, King Lear misguidedly thinks that Cordelia is coming back to life but realises that he will “Never, never, never, never, never” see his daughter alive again. Through this repetition as well as the use of hyperbole, this point is emphasised further. It could perhaps foreshadow the impending doom of the death of King Lear himself. In a sense, this final, futile hope in thinking Cordelia is breathing is suggested as the most disheartening moment of the text. It implies that love seems to lead solely to death. Here the reader is left to wonder about the presence of justice in the “tough world” of this powerful yet painful play. When the character of Edgar says that “we that are young shall never see so much, nor live so long”, this in particular highlights the inequity of youth as well as the brevity of life, which is reflected through Cordelia.
During the seventeenth-century, it can be suggested that it was never Shakespeare’s intention for his audience to escape the painful doubts that arises from Cordelia’s death. It is often suggested that the deaths of Lear and Gloucester are deserving, whereas Cordelia is a character of righteous being; she is an innocent victim of the destruction that surrounds her. Her unforeseeable death descends Lear back into a state of insanity, as there is no other option but to handle such a tragedy with madness.
The end of this play is one without the clear denouement of many of Shakespeare’s other tragedies. Therefore, the audiences must make the decision for themselves if this constant and unchanging will of God to give everyone what is owed has prevailed or not.In King Lear, the deaths of these characters are symbolic of the injustice that occurs, in particular through the character of Cordelia, as a result of her acts of innocence and loyalty towards her father.
This sense of discrimination can be suggested as the concluding example of man’s inhumanity to man in the world of King Lear. The play’s final sense of barbarity can be seen to parallel Shakespeare’s nihilistic point of view.Northanger AbbeyIn Northanger Abbey, Austen narrates a story of the protagonist, Catherine Moreland, in which the terror that is seen, is born out of her imagination. The novel parodies and exploits the characteristics of the Gothic throughout. This can be shown in particular through the opening scene of the novel.The exposition of the novel immediately sets up the reader’s preconception of Northanger Abbey. When Austen opens with “No one who had ever seen Catherine in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine”, it suggests that Catherine is, or is going to become, the heroine; however, that she is an unlikely one.
In this passage, Catherine is introduced as a realistic character, while contrasting that realism to her role, as the heroine of the novel. However, it is evident that Catherine transgresses the boundaries of social class and gender that inhibited the heroine we have come to acknowledge in the gothic. Leading on from the first sentence, the narrator makes the distinction between how things should be in the ideal life of a fictional heroine and how things actually are for the flawed character of Catherine. While Austen allows us to recognise that we are engaging in a novel, it also addresses itself to the readers of its time, who were accustomed to female protagonists being consistently portrayed as paragons of passivity, beauty, and domestic virtue. It is therefore of high importance for Austen to challenge such conventions of the Gothic.
The narrator’s use of Catherine challenges the stereotypes of the late seventeen-hundreds. Women during this time were seen to attempt to navigate the structures of polite society, however, Catherine breaks the mould by her ‘heroic dreams’ as unlike other females in the novel, she “plays, and greatly preferred cricket not merely to dolls.” Throughout the text, the scenery is depicted through the overall atmosphere. For instance, Austen describes that “The night was stormy; the wind had been rising at intervals the whole afternoon and by the time the party broke up, it had been raining violently”, which, through the use of pathetic fallacy, demonstrates the weather as a tool to launch into the anxiety and uneasiness of the night as well as it being reflective of Catherine’s imagination gradually rising. This goes hand in hand with the gothic, as Austin appears to mock the traditional convention of the gothic genre. Towards the ending of the novel, Catherine learns that the drama of her real life is no less vivid than the worlds she reads about in her novels. For example, she becomes influenced by Gothic novels, begins thinking in Gothic ways and attempts to act like a real Gothic heroine.
When she is invited to stay in Northanger Abbey, she is completely wrapped up in thoughts of mysterious and frightening stories until she has to learn that it cannot fulfil her forced up expectations. She realises that such novels are fictional and that “it had been all a voluntary, self-created delusion”, and therefore she eventually progresses from disillusionment through a nonchalant tone, towards maturity and self-knowledge in a more serious one.In Austen’s Northanger Abbey, the narrator satirises the form and conventions of the typical Gothic novels that were popular during the era when she wrote it. It can be suggested that this novel is partly a parody of Gothic novels, whereas Austen’s story is realistic, and ironic humour comes from an attempt to examine ordinary events and people from the perspective of a “heroic” novel. Therefore, it is able to both defend and parody novels because the novel itself is an innovation in the novel form.After great pain, a formal feeling comesEmily Dickinson’s ‘After great pain, a formal feeling comes’, is her most profound piece on death. It highlights the key theme of despair as the inevitable part of human existence.
The poetess illustrates the fragile emotional equilibrium that settles heavily over a survivor of recent trauma or grief.In the first stanza, the funeral motif is emphasised through the imagery of “tombs” and ceremony.The use of the adjective, “ceremonious” connotes the idea of how every part of her, inclusive of the “nerves”, are expected to conform to societal expectations. Through Dickinson’s semantic field of rigidity, she represents the numbness that transcends intense suffering. In the second stanza, when Dickinson describes legs that move mechanically, this denotes that all human behaviour performs a duty; there is no sensation or no acuteness of feeling.
One of Emily Dickson’s most brilliant metaphors, “Quartz contentment”, suggests heaviness, density and earthiness with the idea of contentment. It arouses the sense of numbness of body and mind, followed by a great pain. When she states “A quartz contentment, like stone” this simile of artificial life and false situation reveals how after a great pain, a man’s desires are killed or destroyed seeking no change. Throughout the poem, the sufferer is described as passive, for example, in terms of body parts which epitomises the disengagement between her mind and body. The speaker emphasises the fragile state of a person experiencing the “formal feeling” by never referring to such people as whole human beings, detailing their bodies in objectified fragments such as “The stiff Heart,” “The Feet,” etc.
Therefore, it can be suggested that depersonalisation is a technique for depicting emotional insensibility. In the last stanza, the leaden image of benumbed consciousness has given place to the image of desolation. Through the use of “The hour of lead”, this allows time, body and sense to fuse into something dull, heavy, and immovable. This expression implies that such protection requires a terrible sacrifice.
Such suffering may prove total, but if it does not, it will make the victim ever remember the painful process. The poetess recollects that the time of great pain has been over and the image that is left impressed upon her mind is that of “freezing persons recollecting the snow.” This expression gives a sense of realism to the feelings experienced by the speaker. When she describes the “Freezing” man who in the beginning felt “Chill” has reached the state of “Stupor” by shunning all the sensations and is now collecting snow, it suggests that the time of pain is now over and man has become sensation-less like “lead” and the past has become just a memory. This last line is particularly effective in its composite of shock, the intensifying magnitude of pain and final relief. The disposition of hyphenation, in particular towards the end, fragment the iambic pentameter, slowing it and mirroring the stages experienced by sufferers of hypothermia: the pain of the cold, the dulling of senses and the final loss of consciousness or will to fight.
The unifying force behind all these apparently diversified ideas is the sense of ceaseless anguish.