A literal meaning of the word literature is termed as ‘life’ hence in the context of the meaning provided literature can be interpreted as a form of linguistic communication in which the reader learns and explores the different varieties, realities and complications of life. Moreover with the help of literature one is also able to explore different states and experiences of life which actually help him in framing his own life according to principles through which he can spend a better and prosperous life.
During the course of this discussion we will be looking at some of the famous literary works outlining different genres that are considered pivotal and intrinsic in developing a better understanding and approach towards literature by assessing these works on the basis of their linguistic display, the conflicts of traditions and the setting. The works will include ‘The Story of an Hour’ by Kate Chopin, ‘The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky’ by Stephen Crane and poetry from Emily Dickinson; ‘I dwell in Possibility’.
Kate and the Joy that Kills
One of the famous and highly reputable pieces of literature written during the 19th century by a prominent American author Kate Chopin, it was a time when the trend of short stories in literature was gaining momentum and there were various other writers such as D.H Lawrence, Stephen Crane and Mark Twain that were accepting this kind of literature pattern whole-heartedly. It was during this time that the famous short story of Kate Chopin for which she will always be remembered invaded the mainstream American literature.
One of the most notable and key features of the entire story is the extremely captivating environment that it creates for the reader. Chopin goes to every possible extent in order to describe the feeling associated that Mrs. Mallard experiences upon listening the news of her husband’s death.
She locks herself into a room and in that state of grief and despondency a completely different feeling and power dawns upon her actually convincing that her life has turned over a new leaf, a turn that she had always anticipated. The entire theme and setting that the writer establishes in the reader’s mind during this whole state of profound conceit is absolutely amazing.
The reader can actually picture the entire sequence of transformative events that take place with Mrs. Mallard during the course of which she begins to feel extra powerful, zealous and liberal after being freed from all kinds of family restrictions, troubles and disputes with her husband. The feeling of victory is clearly manifested in her eyes when she opens the door for her sister Josephine to enter the room, but a drastic turn of events takes place when her very own husband arrives at home saying that he was actually very far from the site of accident.
“Now her bosom rose and fell tumultuously. She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will--as powerless as her two white slender hands would have been. When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: "free, free, free!" (Chopin, 1894)
Being a heart patient, she could not resist that the liberty that she had acquired only had a fleeting existence, thus she died of a heart attack. Even though the entire plot upon which the story is based seems a little ambiguous especially towards the end, it is worth mentioning that it synchronizes flawlessly with the kind of theme and setting of the entire scenario that the writer has actually engineered for readers.
Moreover the character of Mrs. Mallard has been shown as highly unpredictable and capricious. The joyous feeling that she had hypothetically cultivated in her mind and heart vanished the very moment she saw her husband alive and the resulting feeling of this joyous deprivation was so profound that she ultimately lost interest in living anymore.
The strong emotion that actually marginalized her from her liberty completely vanished the very inch of hope and expectation for which she could live for, hence her entire reaction to the situational change was highly unexpected. However it also makes one realize that sometimes extreme planning regarding some things may be very harmful in some exceptional cases.
Secondly, one must not affiliate numerous expectations from time mainly because when these dreams and expectations shatter, it takes a lot of time for the person to recover from the pain and damage that it inflicts upon him. Lastly, specie like man cannot even imagine of spending his or her life like a hermit, in a state of complete solitude and loneliness.
The personality makeover of man is such that he or she is destined to be guarded and held captive to the walls of multitude relationships through which he or she cannot even think of eluding from, therefore for a person like Mrs. Mallard the joy of being liberal actually became the cause of her sudden death.
The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky and the Conflict between East and West
This short story from Stephen Crane accentuates upon the social and economic transition of man through a self-modification process by which he understands and rectifies his conservative beliefs in order to adjust and mold himself in accordance with the prevalent status quo.
Set in the frontier town of Yellow Sky Texas, the crux of the story revolves around a Marshall Jack who has brought her bride to his native land, but he or his new bride are not greeted hospitably primarily because Marshalls in Yellow Sky do not marry in order to abstain themselves from any type of domestic entanglements and problems.
Even though Jack has a feeling of guilt that he has committed an activity which will be declared as the violation of social norms that exists in the land, but simultaneously he still has a firm belief that he has not done anything for which he should either be held convicted or feel guilty for.
One of the messages which Crane wants to convey to his readers through the character of Jack is the intensity and dire need with which a man needs to remold his thinking styles. During the course of the West he makes use of people like Scratchy who are still entrapped within the midst of Old West traditions and customs that declare matrimony as socially unacceptable. It can also be said that through the characters of Jack and Scratchy, the writer actually provides us with a perfect depiction of the confrontation that exists between the customs and traditions of Old west and new west.
The story was first published in the year 1898 when the entire world was slowly and steadily being engulfed by the industrialization mania. Hence with a new step towards development, progress and prosperity, man also unintentionally nurtured the growth of a new hierarchy in the society, thus it can easily be suggested that man did transcend towards greater advancement in terms of greater economic growth, but concurrently eroded the foundations of social norms and values that actually contribute in making him a more civilized and responsible individual of the society.
Nevertheless a major conflict that can also be pinpointed in the story is that it interprets an Easternized way of thinking to being heretic and orthodox even though this is not the case. A key reason due to which this could have been included by Crane was the fact that 19th century was pre-dominantly a colonial and imperial era in which most of the colonies of Western states were the countries of the East, hence a person who does not intend to change himself with the passage of changing time was equated and labeled as being Eastern. In addition to this a very important message conveyed by this literary masterpiece is about the institution of marriage.
From the aspect that Crane has highlighted it is comprehensibly manifested that he is a strong advocate of the school of thought that believes that an institution like marriage is a greater step towards civilizing oneself and making oneself more tolerant and responsible.
In fact the subtle but important presence of Jack’s bride is there to serve as the reminder and reinforcer of the fact that the institution of marriage is thus a demonstration of man towards acquiring greater progress and tolerance in his disposition that can ultimately contribute to his progress and growth not only on an economic but also on a social scale.
I Dwell in Possibility and Language play
Written by the famous American poet Emily Dickinson the theme of the poem describes the despondency and dejection of the poet that she had experienced in her life and through the language of literature has tried to convey the disappointment that proliferates into life when it is dominated by the menace of poverty.
It can be correctly pointed out that that the life experiences of a writer has an overwhelming influence in the framing of perceptions and perspectives through which he looks and encounters the different challenges and tasks faced in life.
Secondly, it is also important to mention here that with the language of words and especially the medium of poetry has always been considered as one of the most effective tools in describing feelings and emotions that cannot be expressed verbally irrespective of the fact whether it is romance, love or the frustrations that one has in his or her life.
Similar is the case with the poetry I Dwell in Possibility through which the poet actually provides the reader a comparison based on her present life which has been denoted as prose in the poetry with her dream life or a life that she desires to have. Emily provides us an indication of her dreaming state of mind by saying ‘More numerous of Windows’ as there is always greater number of windows in a state of dream as the presence of greater windows and doors convey a feeling that are numerous frontiers to which one can look forward to in order to turn over a new leaf in life any time any day.
However in reality it is exactly the opposite where there are only a specific amount and limit of opportunities that are present and availing them at the right time can only lead to proper survival.
With the help of the words ‘cedars’ and ‘impregnable’ Emily tries to yet again convey a number of different perceptions that are representative of human nature. First the use of word cedar which in the Bible means luxury, Emily tries to portray her feeling of her rooms being quite lavish and opulently designed with the use of cedar wood which was considered as one of the most expensive forms of wood at one point of time.
Moreover with ‘impregnated’ she not only conveys her feeling but also shed slight upon the insatiable thirst of man needs and wants by saying that no matter how lavish or luxurious is your lifestyle, one always desires and strives for a better one and from the stage of better he makes effort to achieve the best.
With the use of word ‘gambrel’ Emily changes the mood of the poem to a certain extent in order to describe her personal ambitions through the imaginary world that she has constructed around herself. In her imaginary world only sky in the limit which has been explained metaphorically through the usage of the word gambrel. (DiYanni, 2007)
Another point which is important to understand here is that Emily rarely use to travel outside her hometown as her domestic economic conditions did not allow her to afford any such journey, hence in her state of dream she also says that the visitors that will come to visit her will be from the most elite group of the society, they would be affluent, rich and would have a luxurious lifestyle similar to what is possessed by Emily in her imaginary world.
The last three lines of the poem further stress upon the acquisition of material benefits and worldly things that she has imagined in her state of dream. Even though the background of the entire poetry describes a poverty ravaged scenario, but at the same time it also describes the intensity with which they want to achieve all their materialistically oriented benefits and to what extent can they go to fulfill their aims and objectives.
In conclusion it would be appropriate to say that all three pieces of literature clearly define and comprehensibly manifest the theme for which they are famous within the literary circle for. Through ‘The Story of an Hour’ Kate establishes a perfect setting and thrilling environment depicting the feeling of liberty and independence of a woman from all social boundaries. In ‘The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky’ Crane draws the attention of the reader towards a social problem and the corrosive form that a society takes if it does not change itself with the progress of time. Last but not the least in ‘I Dwell in Possibility’ Emily uncovers her own grievances by using flawless use of her linguistic abilities that further enforce the crux of the poem.
DiYanni, R. (2007). Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama (6th ed). New York: McGraw-Hill
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