Examples: Hemingway’s Santiago in The Old Man and the SeaBurgess’s Alex in A Clockwork Orange Many of Flannery O’Connor’s characters
His book, The Interpretation Dreams, unlocked the sexual potential of the subconsciousMale symbols: tall buildings, lances, swords, guns,etc.Females symbols: rolling landscapes, chalices and grails (the search for the Holy Grail was all sex)Sex is often code in literature, many times the “code” sexual acts are much more intense and multi-purposed than actual sex.ExamplesLawrence’s “The Rocking Horse Winner”: Paul’s wild ride on the horse = masturbationHank/Williams/George Thorogood song, “Move it on Over”: ‘She changed the locks on my front door, and now my key don’t fit no more’; the Hayes Code in Hollywood (1935-1965) which stated that you couldn’t show bodies intimately in film, so you saw waves crashing on the beach, window curtains blowing in the early morning sunlight after last seeing the characters kissing by that window, or a train entering a tunnel
L. JamesSex becomes heavily symbolic when used as the correct type of plot deviceExample: Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange in which the main character, Alex, talks about rape, ‘the old in-out’ and commits it but describes it in his language, Nadsat, which makes the act not as we understand it. Burgess wants to make his character revolting,not make the violence and sex interesting.
exploration of possibilities; or D. a handy solution for the author’s built up plot difficultiesIn Morrison’s Song of Solomon it takes a character 3 encounters with water to make it into anything significant (which makes reference to the Holy Trinity)The baptism is not always 100% about rebirth since there are no absolutes in writing. It may not always be associated with spirituality either. A character’s rebirth could just turn him from being a nice average guy to a vengeful creature.Examples: In Guest’s Ordinary people, 2 brothers go out on their boat, storm comes up, one brother dies (the star of the family), the other lives. He feels he doesn’t deserve to be alive but through therapy he is rebornIn Flannery O’Connor’s “The River”, a little boy, having watched baptisms joining people to God on a Sunday, goes back to the river the next day to join God on his own.
He does, by drowning.
When writers send their characters south, it’s so they can run amok. Whether it’s Italy, Greece, Africa< Vietnam, or Disney World, the characters will have direct, raw encounters with their subconsciousLandscapes: The sublime landscape (the dramatic and breathtaking vista) has been turned into a cliche, but it is still often used.Characteristics of generic landscape: Low (valley, prairie)-- swamps, crowds, fog, darkness, fields, heat, unpleasantness, people, life and death. High (mountains, mesas)-- snow ice purity, thin air,clear views, isolation, life and death.Examples: In E.M Forster's early novels, English tourists find ways of making mischief, usually unwittingly, and not always comically, when they travel to the mediterraneanIn Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" the leopard, dead and preserved in snow on the peak, is contrasted with the writer dying of gangrene down on the plain.
.. The leopard’s death is clean, cold, pure, while the writer’s death is ugly, unpleasant, horrible
. So Does Season”
Example: Shakespeare’s Richard III has a bad case of scoliosis (he’s a hunchback). This was done to show him to be as morally and spiritually twisted as his back, making him one of the most repugnant figures in literature.Physical limitations may be given to characters because they mean something, some psychological or thematic point the writer wants to make.
“You give a guy a limp in Chapter 2, he can’t go sprinting after the train in Chapter 24.”Example: Jake Barnes in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises has been wounded during World War I. He never says, but when he looks at himself naked in a mirror he weeps. He symbolizes a society that has been left barren by the war.
.. all the great writers.”Heart disease= bad love, cruelty, loneliness, disloyalty, cowardice, lack of determination
and Rarely Just Illness”
The disease should be mysterious in origin. 4. The disease should have strong symbolic or metaphorical possibilities (like heart disease) This sometimes makes author bring in objectionable illnesses simply to make a point.Tuberculosis was considered the perfect disease in literature. Also called consumption it was considered a “wasting disease” and dominated literature for a long time (along with cancer)Malaria, or “Roman Fever”, was useful because it translates into bad air. We know now that it comes from mosquitoes and not harmful vapors in hot, moist night airTaboo diseases would have to be treated with care like syphilis was in Ibsen’s A Doll’s HouseUsing diseases that are currently in the social vernacular allows writers to save time since readers will identify with a few symptoms instead of needing a medical dictionary (Gray’s Anatomy) to get them through a story.
Every age has its special disease and ours is AIDS. As Foster puts it, “AIDS is the mother lode of symbol and metaphor”Examples:In James’ Daisy Miller, Daisy suffers from figurative “baid air”– malicious gossip and hostile public opinion while in Rome. When she is ignored by Winterbourne (her love interest) while in the Colosseum at night, she remarks, “he cuts me dead”, she then contracts “Roman Fever” and diesIn Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, a character, Dr.
rank, is dying of “tuberculosis of the spine”. Rank says he inherited the disease from his father’s dissolute living, so instead of TB it’s VD (syphilis)
In Wilde’s The Importance of being Earnest, one character says of another, recently widowed, “her hair has gone quite gold from grief”We have certain expectations behind, say, the meaning of a rainy day and its connotations, but if the writer doesn’t write to fit our preconceived idea then the newfound meaning trumps what we used to know.In Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry walks into the rain after the deaths of his lover and child. The rain doesn’t have the cleansing effect we’ve come to expect. That’s ironyIn Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange, Alex is considered a Christ Figure, That’s Irony.
Ironic Mode- literary theorist Northrop Frye’s way of describing characters that have a lower degree out autonomy, self-determination, or free-will than most people, making the simple things we do all the time a major struggle,Modern and postmodern writers make such use of irony that we come to expect it. Irony doesn’t work for everyone. The multivocal nature of irony is nothing if you can’t see the layers.