Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 6

Data Ambrose- Audu Ms.

Pius ENG 4U1 November 25th, 2011 The Struggle for Gods Position Throughout Literature Young man, young man. Your arms are too short to box with God. -James Weldon Johnson The possession of God- like power has been shown time and time again throughout literature to be destructive to both the holder of power and whoever must endure the wrath of the owner. It would seem that society in general condemns abuse of power, yet it is an inevitable side effect of control. Corruption and power are the major themes of the classic play Hamlet written by William Shakespeare, the famous novel Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findley, and the movie Memento directed by Christopher Nolan. These different forms of literature show the dangers of craving control. It leads to an obvious chain reaction of greed. The cycles seem to start with the obvious antagonists who, as the main source of corruption, poison the characters around them with the same God- complex. The poisoning affects mostly the needy and vulnerable characters that are unable to think for themselves. It is only the independent and knowledgeable characters who emerge from the madness around them wiser and freer through the imagination than the antagonists who are self-proclaimed gods. The antagonists in all three pieces of literature either knowingly or unknowingly try to take on the stereotypical role of God. They are primary sources of misery, controlling those they

Ambrose- Audu 2

consider beneath them. Old Hamlet returns to his son as a ghost- an archetype connected with death, suffering and fear. These are the descriptions that were attached to him when he was alive. When Old Hamlet asks his son to carry out his plans of vengeance, he reinforces his dominant role in the lives of others. He proves that it is almost impossible for people as power hungry as he is to change their ways, even after dying. Old Hamlet manipulates Hamlet by guiling him into helping him escape purgatory. He scares Hamlet by telling him the tales he could relay would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood. (Shakespeare 1.5 15-20) Additionally, Leonard, in a less harsh tone, can be viewed as an antagonist. Even if one sees him as a victim, it is hard to deny that he has a God- complex. The fact that he is on a lifelong quest to avenge his wifes death shows that he is blinded by control. He wants to kill the people who murdered his wife, taking their fates in his hands. Leonard takes the investigation further than the police because he does not believe they did a good enough job. He tattoos notes on his body, things that remind him of his goals every day. This in itself is a paradox, as tattoos are permanent. If he eventually does find the person who committed the crime and kills them, how will he remember it if he has daily reminders of an unfinished quest? His mission consumes him without him realizing. In Leonards situation, however, it seems the only one he is trapping and destroying is himself. He willingly traps himself in an endless cycle of murder and lies to give his life purpose (Memento). More than the others, Dr. Noah Noyes is literally trying to take over the role of God. He is extremely devoted to his religion, and as the head of the household, forces all the other members to bend to his will. He throws his weight around and exerts his dominance. He forces his wife to apologize to him for speaking out of turn (Findley 14), he forces his son, who is uncomfortable with killing and death in general, to sacrifice a lamb (Finley 27) and carries out the destruction of countless animals throughout the book, all in the name of Yaweh. He is, at some points, dressed

Ambrose- Audu 3

like the stereotypical representation of God. All three characters in their own way feel the need take over and this blinds and traps them in a meaningless existence. They all play the same role in Platos famous Allegory of the Cave. They are the chains that hold the prisoners in place, dictating their every move and keeping them from seeing the light (Brians). The antagonists take on a human form of a supernatural being, which has disastrous results. The next step in in the disastrous cycle is the transfer of the God- complex. The antagonists pass on their flaws to those they have control over. Hamlet inherited his obsession with power from Old Hamlet. Even though Hamlet seems confused about his identity, it is obvious by the middle of the play that he sides more with his father than with compassion and logic. He shows this obsession with revenge clearly in the scene where he attempts to kill Claudius during his confession. He speaks about the unfair way his father was taken from the earth, with all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May. (Shakespeare 3.3 81- 83) Hamlet is so influenced by his father, he truly believes that he was wrongfully taken and should be avenged. He refuses to kill Claudius at that point because since he was confessing, he would be sent to heaven. He wanted to have control over where Claudius was sent when he died. Similar to Hamlet, Noahs sons Japeth and Shem submit to their fathers wishes regardless of whether or not they agree with him. When Noah asks Japeth to kill Lotte, he does so with no regard for life. And afterwards, he coldly tosses Lottes dead body at Ms. Noyes. He described the situation later on, claiming that he was thoughtlessly obedient and always had been, and that he did not see what all the fuss was about because he had only killed an ape. And an ape was only an animal. Nothing human. (Findley 170) This blind obedience is what helped Noah keep control of the ark for as long as he did. Whenever the lower decks tried to fight them, it would be either Japeth or Shem who would put them back in their place. They are mechanical robots while on the ark

Ambrose- Audu 4

and this lack of emotion is what helps them feel no remorse for viciously assaulting the lower deck and for living in privilege while the rest of their family suffered right below them. In Platos allegory, they are the people stuck in the chains, not even trying to break free of the because it is all they know (Brians). This type of character also acts like Narcissus in the famous myth. The same way they choose to ignore themselves and live for the wrong type of people is the same way Narcissus rejects Echo, an admirer of his and falls in love with his reflection. He obsesses over his beauty the same way the mindless characters follow orders without thinking. This blindness will eventually lead them all to an early grave- while Narcissus dies of thirst because he forgets to drink, these characters will die because they forget to think (Veechio). They will die for a cause they never believed in to begin with. This terrible life they lead is because of the transfer of the God complex by the antagonists. The self-serving character seems to inherit the God- complex, but they do so not from the antagonist, but in their own way. They are too strong willed to ever be fooled like the weaker characters. In the play Hamlet, Polonius, advisor to both Old Hamlet and Claudius, feels the need to adapt to keep his status. He gives his son selfish and self- serving advice before he leaves for school, then hires men to follow him to make sure he does nothing that would ruin the family name. Polonius wants to know everything going on in Elasanor like God. He sneaks around and constantly spies on everyone. Similarly Hannah, the wife of Shem, is another self- serving character. In order to live in the upper deck and be on good terms with Noah, she keeps her mouth shut and follow orders even though she was full of words. Sentences and paragraphs. Whispers and shouts. Hundreds of them. Thousands. But she was a woman and could not speak. Aloud. But only think in silence and go mad. (Findley 243) In her thoughts, it is clear that she is constantly unhappy and disagrees with Noah and his rules. She puts up with the upper deck

Ambrose- Audu 5

because she needs to survive. It is easier for her to fake her way through the ordeal than to voice her opinions like Mrs. Noyes and have so suffer for it. So she sits by and lets the injustice around her grow and consume everyone, including herself. Even though both characters have different motives, the results are still the same. They are clever and calculating but do not use this to liberate the victims around them, instead they appease the antagonist and worsen the situation. There are characters who openly disagree with the injustice around them and refuse to stay victim to the antagonists. Ophelia is the only Character in Elsanor who speaks the least but knows the most. She openly calls the Queen adulterous and calls the King corrupt and a murderer (Shakespeare 4.5 179-184). She knew all this by being quiet and patient. The fact that she had been silent and obedient all the time made her quite observant. She watches those around her destroy everything because of their quest for control and personal gain. Instead of listening to her, however, they label her as crazy and continue on with their lives. Plato predicted this in his allegory. And suppose he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take refuge in the objects of vision which he can see (Brians) Rebelling from the majority helps this character find freedom, physical or imaginative. All the works completely encapsulate the idea of the God- complex. The more dominant characters were blinded by personal goals. The futile human struggle for God- like control over their destiny, identity and existence makes humanity feel all- powerful, but disconnects them from their true humanity. This disconnection does not disappear with death, but lives on, trapping and leading others to the same miserable and joyless fate. Possessing God- like power, because humanity is naturally flawed, leads to corruption and denial, which will ultimately lead the possessor to an early death.

Ambrose- Audu 6

Works Cited Brians, Paul. Platos Allegory of the Cave from the Republic 1998. Washington State University. 17 March 2006 http://usu.edu-8080/~wldciu/world_civ_reada_2/plato.html Findley, Timothy. Not Wanted on the Voyage. Toronto: Penguin Canada, 1984. Print Memento. Dir. Christopher Nolan. Derf. Guy Pearce. 2000. DVD Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1992 Veecho, Ernie. The Narcissus Myth 2005 Nov 2011. <http://www.narcissismfree.com/the narcissus-myth.php>

Centres d'intérêt liés