Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Stranger by Albert Camus

This book is unique unto itself, I have never read another like it. And I intensely love it. Applying my question to this book is very difficult because it is hard to idenitify the adveristy and whether or not Mersault overcame it. On the surface, it would appear that Mersault was unable to overcome any adversity because the story ends with him awaiting his execution. However, it is my belief that he overcame adversity and the quality that allowed him to do so was his self-assuredness and his faith in life. Perhaps I am a little biased because I really do love this character. In the last few chapters of the book, Mersault is assaulted with fear and desperation to escape. He cannot accept his impending death. I am defining this as the adversity he needs to overcome. Mersault lived his life day by day, never looking backwards, complacently accepting each event as it came his way. Now his freedom to live his life his way has been snatched away from him and his easy acceptance is gone. This fear and loss of freedom is personified in the form of a chaplain and this interaction triggers an emotional explosion of understanding from Mersault. As his private thoughts, agonies, and desires are shouted out loud, he overcomes his fear and is able to accept his impending death. "As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with the signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself - so like a brother really- I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with cries of hate." (122-123) I love this book so much, it's hard not to get distracted from my original intent. this quote is after his angry flood of understanding, he is cleansed from that adversity and is able to face the world with indifference. Instead of wishing for an escape to ease his lonliness, he has accepted his death and is instead able to wish for a crowd of spectators to bear witness to his death. Morbid yes, but adversity takes on many faces and it can take hundreds of qualities or events that allow some to overcome it and others to fail

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment, as fascinating as the book was, is difficult to apply to my question. On the surface it looks like no one overcame adversity. Svidrigailov commits suicide, Raskolinkov is sent to jail in Siberia, Sonia became a prostitute to save her family. Svidrigailov was unable to overcome adversity because of his wealth. His riches had turned him cold and greedy. He was a lecherous man, who thought that money and manipulation would allow him any pleasure that he wanted. But when he came up against Dounia who was a truly good character, she would not give in to him. Faced with this unbearable reality, he was not able to live on and he failed. Wealth does not always guarantee a person success and in the end it was his riches and his greed that kept him from overcoming adversity. In all literature, characters that manipulate, have greed, are selfish, basically poor characteristics are always unable to overcome adversity.

Henry IV; Part 1

I love reading Shakespeare. I have to read at a much slower pace but I still love his writing because there is so much packed into every paragraph. Applying my question "Why do others overcome adversity while others fail" to this play brings forth a completely different answer than my previous entries. Why does Hal succeed and Hotspur falls? In the beginning of the play, it would seem the story would have an entirely different ending. Hotspur is the valiant, young soldier, while Hal is a pub crawler, playing tricks and thieving. Considering English tradition in Elizabethan times and Hal's rise from a pub crawler to a prince, I believe that according to Shakespeare, Hal succeeded because he was the heir to the throne and he possessed "kingly qualities" Hal transformed from a pub crawler into a leader, with grace and good speaking skills and he was driven to prove his worth to his father and it was all of these combined that allowed him to defeat Hotspur. Although at first Hotspur seemed kingly, it was later revealed how coarse he truly was. In order to be a champion, you must have the qualities of a champion.