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Jun 30, 2019

Ibsen's "A Doll's House"


Feminism in 'A Doll's House' {LINK}
In the 19th century , the society was patriarchal, dominated by men, and women were deprived of all rights. The society was constructed and conducted in a way that women were completely dependent on men in all cultural domains- familial, religious , political, economic ,social , legal and artistic. This is the background ,in which Henrick Ibsen's play "A DOLL'S HOUSE", is written. Ibsen was inspired to write this play by a real incident that happened to his friend, Laura Petersen Kieler , a Norwegian journalist of whom he was very fond of. Ibsen created a female protagonist,Nora,who ,not only forsakes her husband and children, but also come out of traditional and conventional picture of women , breaks all the rules and restrictions of traditional and rigid society,which don't allow for the women's freedom and self-realization. This type of play was completly new at that time and female protagonist,Nora becomes the symbol and harbinger of the concept of ,"New Women" or " Modern Women". This term paper will show the situation of women in the society. It will also illustrate how "A DOLL'S HOUSE" is a feminist play, Ibsen's engagement with Feminism and the emergence of "New Women" or "Modern Women".

Although, Feminism as a literary genre came in 1960s but we can trace its origin with the publication of Mary Wallstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rigths of Women" in 1792 AD. At that time ,it was in early phase and known as the "Women's Rights Movement". This movement was for women's social equality rights in that oppressive patriarchal society. The bourgeois society was repressive and oppressive against anything which threatened its position of power. The political and spiritual liberty were kept at the background and economic freedom became the motivational forcefor an individual because in that bourgeois society, it provided a position status and once it was achieved , the imperative was to defend it. Thus a bourgeois individual becomes a defender of his status and betrayer of his own human values. Torvard Helmer , the male protagonist of the play, has accepted the premises of this type of society, unaware of the cost , he pays in human terms.

Ibsen criticizes the bourgeois society by creating the characters, who sustain in the society and revolt against it. The bourgeois family, the micro-society in perspective of bourgeois individual was dethroned by these characters from the center of the society. The status of an individual in a family reflects the position and order in the hierarchial system of society. This is why Torvard wants his supremacy in the family and his security depends on feeling superior. Ibsen saw that the bourgeois society needed some content which is a revolution of human spirit and claimed that the slogan of the French Revolution (1789) " Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity"needed a reformulation. Every one has his own part in the construction or destruction of the society. He writes-"One never stands totally without share of responsibility or guilt in bourgeois society to which one belongs"(12,402).

Ibsen always believed, the truth as individual and subjective. That's why , he lets Nora go out in the world and realize the self reassess the concepts and values of society. One can't assess the society by living in the centre of the societyrather one must delve deep into liminal and marginalized domains of society. When one is in power , one can't often evaluate it correctly. People at the margins at times better positioned to view the reality. Like in the Howthorne's novel , "The Scarlet Letter", when Hester Prynne is displaced to margin, she is able to assess the Puritan Society in a better way. Norasays in the play-" I must try to discover who is right, me or society"(283). As the play moves to its close, Nora becomes freer and truer than before and this validates her path. Ibsen's plays reveal the vices and lies of the bourgeois society. Although his plays's setting is Norwegian but the perspectives and ideas on the Vivtorian morality are so universal that they mirror the problems and pains of the whole world. This bourgeois society has problems with the phenomena like industrialisation, positivism,liberalism,secularization and political polarization and the like. The people were becoming aware of their rights and claim for them. In the play, Ibsen has depicted two kinds of women. On the one hand, Nora , who is determind to stand up as proud and independent individual, on the other hand self-secrificing Mrs Christine Linde , who finds life's meaning in the service of others. These characters evaluate the inner-self and personal lives and this evaluation of inner lives becomes the revaluation of the society ,which has kept them under oppressive rules and restrictions. And thus, Ibsen chooses the women characters to lead the fight of the revolution of human spirits under the banner of truth and freedom.

There are many scenes in the play , which are anticipated by the other Feminist writers. Nora accuses on her father and her husband of treating her like a doll. A playmate. She could not get the real experience of life and so she can't do anything in her life. It is similar to Wollstonecraft's charges against men in her book called, "A Vindication of the Rights of Women" (1792) that women are brought up to be "pleasing

At the expense of every solid virtue " as if they were "gentlel domestic brutes '. Her description of herself that she has been treated like a doll -wife ,doing tricks is an appropriate example of Margret Fuller's charge that man " wants no wife but a girl to play ball with". She realizes that she can not do anything in her life while living with Torvard and declares that she will go out alone because " I must educate myself……. It's something I must do by myself ", she is showing that there is a need for women's emancipation from the 19th century restrictive society. Telling Torvard that she doesn't know how to be a wife is reminiscent of Harriet Martineau in " On Female Education" ,where Harriet Martineau argues the need for considering women as " companion to men instead of playing things or servants". When Nora realizes that the duties to self is higher than that of a wife and mother, she is restating the basic concept of Feminism stated in Wallstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Women" that women are no less than men possess a moral and intellectual nature have not only a right but duty to develop it :" the grand end of their exertion should be to unfold their own faculties". The theme of "A Doll's House" is the subjection of women by men. Nora is deprieved of all things which she should get. She couldn't get much exposure at the father's home. At Torvard's home, she is manipulated by Torvard. She has to do what was told to do. She suppresses her own desires in fulfilling the wishes of first , her father, and then her husband. Nora says " I could never act against your wishes".

The relationship the husband and wife is not based on companionship. Torvard sees himself as the epitome of the traditional 19th century husband who has complete right over his wife. In the forgery incident , Nora neither sees forgery as shame nor to defame Torvard but she does it for love. Torvard ,who has the pride of being man, considers owing anything to anybody as humiliating and painful even to his own wife he doesn't consider her as his equal. She has illusions that her marital life is happy but she has to face the reality. For this ,she decides to break the illusions and go to the world of truth and reality, and to realize herself and her values.Ibsen in his letter dated 3 January 1880, comments on the situation"The moment , she leaves her home , is the momenther life to begin…… In the play , there is big grown up child, Nora,who has to go out into the life to discover herself " . Nora's development can be seen as she is forced to give up the hope of 'miracle' that her husband will take the resposibility for her every action but Torvard is the slave of society, incapable of breaking the conventions. When Nora finds that,there is no way for 'miracle' to happen now, she decides to be true to herself. She stands against the traditional and conventional picture of women and becomes one of the Ibsen"s most liberated characters. Nora's becoming of a liberated is not objective but subjective. She becomes her own , able to take her decesions independently . the other female character, Mrs Linde opposes by not being the representative of early moments of Feminism, but through a wise and loving heart. Mrs linde experiences the 'miracle' which Nora dreamed. When she becomes ready to give up the troublesome life and marry Krogstag, she experiences the 'miracle' , the sense of fulfillment. She says-"How different to work for,to live for , for a home to build'. On the other hand , Nora sees her sense of fulfillment when she leaves her husband, children and home and being self-dependent.

Ibsen's engagement with Feminism can be viewed from the speech for the workingmen in Trondheimin1885, he was very much concerned with "future state of workers and women" in the changing social condition of Europe. He said that he is very mainly concerned with human being in general. In his speech , he made at a bonquet given in his honour by the NorwegianWomen's Rights League on 26 May 1898, he said-

"I am not a member of Women's Rights League I have been more a poet and less a social philosopher. I am not even clear as to just what this women's rights movement really is. To me it has seemed a problem of humanity in general."

He was right in saying that he is concerned with whole humanity because women are also first and foremost human beings. In "A Doll's House" , Nora says-"I am first and foremost a human being." He also advocated for the recruitment of women as librarian, the right to vote and supported the petition of separate property right for married women. He was also in contact with three powerful female personalities- Suzannah Thoresen,his wife, Magdaline thoresen,his wife's stepmother and Comilla Collect, the first significant feminist personalty.


Jun 25, 2019

Pope's "The Rape of the Lock"

The Rape of the Lock’ as a satire/social satire. {Link}
  1. Belinda as a symbol of the moral degeneration of the contemporary life
  2. Documentary value of ‘The Rape of the Lock’
  3. Element of satire in ‘The Rape of the Lock’
  4. Pope as a moralist in ‘The Rape of the Lock
  5. The Rape of the Lock as a satire on the contemporary beau monde.
  6. Character of Belinda in ‘The Rape of the Lock’
  7. Pope as a critic of women/fashionable life
  8. Pope's attitude towards women


Alexander Pope is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever satirists of all times (Walker, 1925). He is a poet of society (Griffin, 2015) the largest part of whose poetry is satirical and didactic (Warton & Rounce, 2004). His masterpiece The Rape of the Lock serves as a true embodiment of the Neo-classical values (Pope, 2016) and the protagonist, Belinda, the moral degradation of the contemporary English beau monde (Szwec, 2011). But, thanks to Pope’s poetic genius, the otherwise ordinary account of a family feud transcends the contemporary age and exposes universal evils of pride, vanity, hypocrisy, sentimentality, class-consciousness and indifference. Pope has painted a detailed picture of the following evils infecting these women.

Illicit relations
These women have illicit relations with the beaus, exposed by the poet through such sexual symbols as ‘melting maids’, ‘midnight masquerades’, ‘softening music’, ‘dancing fires’, etc. They indulge in these activities because they are dazzled by the charms by the fashionable life.

inconsistency in love
Because of their illegitimate relations, they are inconsistent in love and are not contented with anyone:
“With varying vanities, from every part
They shift the moving toyshops of their heart.”

Ambivalent attitude
It is interesting to note that just before the cutting of Belinda’s lock, when Ariel searched ‘the close recesses’ of her heart, he found ‘an earthly lover (Baron) lurking at her heart”. It shows the ambivalent attitude and confused as well as mixed feelings of these women. It is difficult to guard the chastity of these women as they themselves do not desire so. Pope warns:

“Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail,

Though stiff with hoops, and armed with ribs of whale;
Form a strong line about the silver bound,
And guard the wide circumference around.”

Slanderous Attitude
Their attitude is defamatory and libelous. When they sit together, they have nothing to do except to allure the beaus and slander other fashionable ladies who are their competitors:

“A third interprets motions, looks, and eyes;
At every word and reputation dies.”

Preferring social reputation to chastity
For them, social reputation (‘Honour’) is more important than chastity and they can sacrifice anything for it:

“Honour forbid! At whose unrivalled shrine
Ease, pleasure, virtue, all our sex resign.”

That’s why, Belinda, after the loss of the lock, complains:
“Oh hadst thou, cruel ! been content to seize
Hairs less in sight, or any hairs but these!”

So she is not shocked at the loss of chastity (‘Hairs less in sight’) but at the loss of her reputation (‘any hairs but these’, means the curls which were visible). The reason is that these curls enabled here to ensnare beaus.
Endless competition to hunt beaus
This is a type of society in which there is endless competition among the ladies to surpass each other in their ability to hunt the fashionable boys. That’s why, Belinda’s own friends are insincere. So we see her friend, Clarissa, providing the scissors to Baron to cut Belinda’s lock and another friend, Thalestris, trying to make her disgrace public:

“Belinda burns with more than mortal ire, 
And fierce Thalestris fans the rising fire.”

Never ending obsession with the beau monde
Pope humorously tells us that these women are so obsessed with the fashionable life that even after their death, they turn into spirits and perpetuate their interest in the fashionable circles by supervising the living ladies:

“Think not, when woman’s transient breath is fled,

That all her vanities at once are dead:
Succeeding vanities she still regards,
And though she plays no more, o’erlooks the cards.”

Self conceit
These aristocratic ladies suffer from self-conceit and each one of them considers herself some heavenly creature. The dream in which Belinda hears the address of a spirit, Ariel, is just a form of her self-praise and self-conceit. ‘Fairest of mortals’ is, in fact, an epithet which Belinda chooses for herself. But when reality is revealed to her, it is too late. Ultimately, the fashionable women who look down upon the whole world end up dying friendless, isolated and lonely. Pope describes their pathetic condition in these ominous words:

“And she who scorns a man, must die a maid.”


Belinda [Link]
Alexander Pope has designed The Rape of the Lock as the representative works depicting Belinda as the model of the common fashionable ladies of his time. Belinda is the chief attraction and she becomes the heroine of it. She is the only leading character. Yet her screams and the flashes of lightening from her eyes are compared to those of an epic hero.
There are several aspects of the personality of Belinda as portrayed by Pope in The Rape of the Lock. At the very outset of the poem, we see her as an idle and late-rising aristocratic lady who possesses keen interest in domestic pets. Her idleness is established when we see her sleeping unto twelve. Besides, they felt interested in the love letters of their so-called beloved. When Belinda at last got up from bed after having been licked by Shock, her eyes first opened on a love-letter.
Therefore, she is full of vanities and loves gilded chariots and ombre. At the same time, she is ambitious to get married to peers and dukes or to other high officials. This is why she frequently visits the Hampton Court in the river Thames. She passes an aristocratic life and mixes with the Barons recklessly.
Moreover, Belinda is the embodiment of the coquetry, the art, the artifice and the false pride. However, Ariel acquaints us with her flirtatious nature when exhorting his fellow spirits to remain vigilant. Ariel discovers surprisingly that in spite of all her pretence, she is amorously inclined towards a gallant.
Then, we get the picture of her shallow outlook about religious faiths and beliefs. She is a worshiper of beauty who prays to the goddess of beauty and offers all the items of cosmetics before her. She is a typical presentation of women’s excessive attention to self decoration and embellishment. She gathers all the fashionable items from all over the world-Indian glowing gems, Arabian perfumes, files of pins, puffs, powders, patches etc. In a satirical passage, Pope describes Belinda in a Confucius mood before her dressing table.

Here files of pains extend their shining rows,

Puffs, powders, patches, bibles, billet-doux.

Thus, assigned by her maid Betty, Belinda seeks to improve her bodily charms. However, she does not show any respect for the holly book, Bible.
Therefore, the moral bankruptcy of these ladies is further ridiculed when Thalestris points out the need for sacrificing everything, even chastity, for reputation. They consider that virtue might be lost, but not a good name.

To wind up we can say that The Rape of the Lock is a mockery of the manners of the tea-cup times of Queen Anne. Here, Pope seeks to throw light upon the fickle minded fashionable ladies of the 18th century England depicting Belinda as the representative character.

Jun 21, 2019

John Donne: a love poet


Donne was the first English poet to challenge and break the supremacy of Petrarchan tradition. Though at times he adopts the Petrarchan devices, yet his imagery and rhythm, texture and colour of his love poetry is different. There are three distinct strains of his love poetry – Cynical, Platonic and Conjugal love.
Giving an allusion to Donne’s originality as the poet of love, Grierson makes the following observation:
“His genius temperament and learning gave a certain qualities to his love poems … which arrest our attention immediately. His love poems, for instance, do have a power which is at once realistic and distracting.”
Donne’s greatness as a love-poet arises from the fact that this poetry covers a wider range of emotions than that of any previous poet. His poetry is not bookish but is rooted in his personal experiences. Is love experience were wide and varied and so is the emotional range of his love-poetry. He had love affairs with a number of women. Some of them were lasting and permanent, other were only of a short duration.
Donne is quite original in presenting the love situations and moods.
The “experience of love” must produce a “sense of connection” in both the lovers. This “sense of connection” must be based on equal urge and longing on both the sides.
“The room of love” must be shared equally by the two partners.
Donne magnifies the ideal of “Sense of connection” into the physical fulfillment of love.
"My face in thine eyes thine in mime appears"
This aspect of love helps him in the virtual analysis of the experience of love. Donne was a shrewd observer who had first hand knowledge of “love and related affairs. That is why in almost all his poems, he has a deep insight.
His love as expressed in his poetry was based not on conventions but on his own experiences. He experienced all phase of love – platonic, sensuous, serene, cynical, conjugal, illicit, lusty, picturesque and sensual. He could also be grotesque blending thought with passion.
Another peculiar quality of Donne’s love lyrics is its “metaphysical strain”. His poems are sensuous and fantastic. Donne’s metaphysical strain made his reader confused his sincerity.
Donne’s genius temperament and learning gave to his love poems power and fascination. There is a depth and rang of feeling unknown to the majority of Elizabethan poets. Donne’s poetry is startlingly unconventional even when he dallies, half ironically, with the hyperboles of petrarch.
Donne is realistic not an idealistic. He knows the weakness of Flesh, the pleasure of sex, the joy of secret meeting. However he tries to establish a relationship between the body and the soul. Donne is very realistic poet.
Grierson distinguished three distinct strains in it. First there is the cynical strain. Secondly, there is the strain f conjugal love to be noticed in poems like “valediction: forbidding mourning”. Thirdly, there is platonic strain. The platonic strain is to b found in poems like “Twicknam Garden”, “The Funeral”, “The Blossoms”, and “The Primroses”. These poems were probably addressed to the high-born lady friends. Towards them he adopts the helpless pose of flirtations and in high platonic vein boasts that:
Different of sex no more we know
Than our Guardian Anglles doe

In between the cynical realistic strain and the highest spiritual strain, there are a number of poems which show an endless variety of mood and tone. Thus thee are poems in which the tone is harsh, others which are coarse and brutal, still other in which he holds out a making threat to his faithless mistress and still others in which he is in a reflective mood. More often that not, a number of strains and moods are mixed up in the same poem. This makes Donne as a love poet singularly, original, unconventional and realistic.
Whatever may be the tone or mood of a particular poem, it is always an expression of some personal experience and is, therefore, presented with remarkable force, sincerity and seriousness. Each poem deals with a love situation which is intellectually analyzed with the skill of an experienced lawyer.
Hence the difficult nature of his poetry and the charge of obscurity have been brought against him. The difficulty of the readers is further increased by the extreme condensation and destiny of Donne’s poetry.
The fantastic nature of the metaphysical conceits and poetry would become clear even we examine a few examples. In “Valediction: Forbidden Mourning” true lovers now parted are likened to the legs of a compass. The image is elaborated at length. The lovers are spiritually one, just as the head of the compass is one even when the legs are apart. One leg remains fixed and the other moves round it. The lover cannot forget the beloved even when separated from her. The two loves meet together in the end just as the two legs of the compass are together again, as soon as circle has been drawn.
At other times, he uses equally extravagated hyperboles. For example, he mistakes his beloved to an angel, for to imagine her less than an angle would be profanity.
In Donne’s poetry, there is always an “intellectual analysis” of emotion. Like a clever lawyer, Donne gives arguments after arguments in support of his points of view. Thus in “Valediction: Forbidden Mourning” he proves that true lovers need not mourn at the time of parting. In “Canonization” he establishes that lovers are saints of love and in “The Blossome” he argues against the petrarchan love tradition. In all this Donne is a realistic love poet.

Jun 17, 2019

The Philosophy of Thomas Hardy


Hardy: An Artist and Not a Philosopher
Hardy was an artist and not a philosopher. He repeatedly affirmed that the ‘Views’ expressed in his novels were not his convictions or beliefs; they were simply “impressions” of the moment. His writings were all, ‘mood dictated’, merely, ‘explorations of reality’, and so it would be wrong to expect any systematised philosophy of life. But when certain impressions persist and are constantly repeated in the creative works, diaries and letters, of a writer, the readers may be pardoned, if they take them to be his convictions. Moreover, Hardy is so often passing from particular facts to life in general that we may safely take some of his views to be his philosophy of life.


Suffering: A Universal
In Hardy’s considered view, all life is suffering. Man suffers from the moment of his birth upto his death. Happiness is only occasional, it is never the general rule. As he says in “Vie Mayor of Casterbridge’, “Happiness is but an occasional episode in a general drama of pain”. There is none who gets more than he deserves but there are many who get much less than what they deserve. Not only man suffers, but all nature suffers. Suffering is writ large on the face of nature. A ruthless, brutal struggle for existence is waged everywhere in nature. All nature is red in tooth and claw and life lives upon life. Thus all life, including human life, is subject to this law of suffering and none can escape the operation of this law.

Imperfections of the First Cause: Human Suffering
But what is the cause of this universal suffering of man and nature alike. In Hardy’s view the real cause is the, “imperfection of the laws that may be in force on high.” Thus human suffering is the result of the imperfections of the First Cause, the power that caused or created this sorry scheme of things. He rejects the orthodox Christian belief that this power is benevolent, all merciful, omnipotent and omniscient. He cannot reconcile the fact of universal, undeserved suffering with the omnipotence and benevolence of God or the First Cause. He indignantly asks, “What makes suffering and evil, necessary to its omnipotence ?” He regards this power as blind, indifferent, if not actually hostile, and unconscious and immoral. He uses ‘it’ and not ‘He’ for this power. This power has no sense of right or wrong, love or hate. In this blind, unconscious, impersonal working, it does not, and cannot, take into account human wishes and aspirations. Hence its working often causes men .much pain and suffering.

Nature as Instrument of the First Cause
This power manifests itself in a number of ways. Sometimes, it expresses itself through some force of Nature. Usually Nature in Hardy remains indifferent to, and unconscious of, the suffering of Hardy’s character. For example, Tess’ suffering goes unheeded in Nature. She is violated in the lap of Nature, but all Nature remains unconcerned and indifferent. But sometimes, Nature seems to work against the characters of Hardy, or we, in our sympathy for them, feel nature to be hostile. The Return of the Native is a tragedy of character and environment; Egdon Heath plays a prominent part in the novel and is largely responsible for the tragedy. In the Mayor of Casterbridge, the very stars seem to be hostile to Henchard. The fair organised by him, with such generosity and care, is ruined by untimely unexpected rain. The vagaries of weather ruin him financially and make him a bankrupt. Bad weather had been foretold and on that basis he made reckless purchases. But the weather cleared and he had to sell at far lower prices. Then quite unaccountably the weather changed again. There was rain and hail and Henchard was a financial wreck. Nature, thus, seems to be the instrument of some hostile power working against Henchard. It is in this sense that Nature is fate in Hardy’s novels.

The Irony of Circumstance or Life
Sometimes, the ruling power on high expresses itself through the irony of circumstance. By irony of circumstance, Hardy simply means that in this ill-conceived scheme of things the contrary always happens. We except one thing and get its exact opposite. This results in much undeserved suffering. Right things never happen at the right time : they happen either not at all, or too late, when their happening brings nothing but misery and suffering in their train. The heroines of Hardy, like Tess and Eustacia, as well as his male characters, like Clym, Henchard, Angel, Alec are all the victims of the irony of circumstance. The wrong man comes first, and when the right man comes it is too late. Thus Tess remained a vague, fleeting impression to Angel Clare, till she had been violated by Alec, and it was too late for them to live happily together.

Elizabeth-Jane consents to take up Henchard’s name, and then he suddenly discovers that she was not his daughter : “77ie mockery (irony) was, that he should have no sooner taught a girl to claim the shelter of his paternity than he discovered her to have no kinship with him. This ironical sequence of things angered him like an impish trick from a fellow-creature. Like Prester John’s his table had been spread, and infernal harpies had snatched up the food.”

He had planned and schemed for months to have Jane as his daughter and now the fruition of the whole scheme was such, “dust and ashes” in his mouth.

Elizabeth-Jane, too, is the victim of this very irony of fate, for, “Continually it had happened that what she had desired had not been granted her, and that what had been granted her she had not desired.”

In fact, Hardy’s characters in general, and not in one or two novels alone, are the victims of this irony. Their intentions and aspirations are constantly frustrated, as if some hostile power were working against them.

The Role of Chance and Fate
There is a great difference between chance and irony of circumstance. Chance is entirely unexpected or accidental and has no relation either to character or to the course of action, while the essence of irony of fate or circumstance is its opposition to the whishes or merits of a particular character. Chance may sometimes work in favour of a particular character, but in Hardy’s works it always operates against them, for it is caused by the same indifferent, even hostile, First Cause. Thus Chance is another agent chosen by the Supreme to express itself. Chance or accident plays an important part in life and so in the novels of Hardy. The unexpected and the undesired always happens. Thus Tess suffers because the letter she had written to Angel on the eve of their marriage never reaches him. By chance it slips beneath the carpet and is not found. Many such accidents or chance events also happen in 77ie Mayor of Casterbridge. The coming of Farfrae in Casterbridge just at the time when Henchard was being taken to task for the sale of bad wheat, the sudden arrival of Newson in Casterbridge for the second time, the entirely unexpected appearance of the old furmity-seller in Casterbridge to drive the last nail in Henchard’s coffin, etc., are a few of the chance events that create the impression that Hardy believed in the operation of fatal forces hovering all around us and driving us to our doom. Chance or accident is thus an essential element in Hardy’s philosophy of life.

Love: A Potent Cause of Suffering
Love is another force which causes suffering in the world of Thomas Hardy. The women-folk, specially, are its chosen victims. As we are told in Tess, the cruel cause of things has hardened them with the powerful sex-instinct which they have never desired nor welcomed, and as a result of which they have to writh feverishly and pass sleepless nights. Love causes untold suffering to Elizabeth-Jane, to Tess, to Eustacia, to Bathsheba and to all other female characters of Hardy.

Human Freedom of Action: Its Limitations
Character may be destiny in Shakespeare, but it is certainly not so in Hardy’s world-view. In Hardy’s philosophy, character is responsible for suffering only to a limited extent. Inherited traits and inborn instincts determine the actions of a person to a very great extent. Even if he wishes, he cannot act against them. Moreover, Hardy agrees with Schopenheur in believing that, “a person can do what lie wills, but he cannot will what he wills.” Thus man is not a free agent and is not responsible for his actions to any great extent. He has only a very limited freedom of action.

Ways for the Amelioration of Human Lot
(1) Tact: But within these limits he can do much. If he is rash, hot-headed and obstinate, like Henchard, or Eustacia, he can bring about his own downfall. On the contrary, if he is wise and tactful, like Elizabeth Jane, or Thomasin, he can make much of his limited opportunities. Anyhow, it is his duty to adjust himself to his environment. He must not exult when fortune smiles upon him for at best it is only a short interlude, and may be followed by sudden and devastating misfortunes. And at such times, he must remember, like Elizabeth-Jane, that there are many others who have not got what they deserved or desired.

(2) The Rustic Philosophy of Resignation: Man must be resigned to his lot. It is useless to complain, for no complains can reform this ill-conceived scheme of things. It is equally futile to pit overselves against the inexorable, pitiless laws that govern our destiny, for if we do so we are sure to be pounded to atoms. We must learn the lesson of resignation, and we can do so only from primitive communities living in the lap of nature. The Wessex rustics when confronted with overwhelming misfortunes are never frustrated. They merely exclaim, ‘it was to be’, and go about the daily business of their life with renewed courage. Hardy is all admiration for such heroic souls, and prefers a simple life in their midst to an artificial life in a big city.

(3) Social Reform and Loving-Kindness: But this does not mean that in Hardy’s view man should make no attempts to ameliorate his lot. Hardy distinguishes between the natural and the social environment. While man can do nothing to change the natural environment, and must submit passively to it, he can do much to change his social environment through wise social reforms. Marriage laws, for example, should be liberalised in favour of the weaker sex. Unfortunate women, like Tess, who are more sinned against than sinning, should be accepted by society. No stigma should attach to them, for they are essentially pure. A spirit of “loving-kindness” should pervade all human relations and then all would be well. Life is suffering, but man should not increase its misery by this cruelty to his fellow-men, to women, and to the lower creatures.

Conclusion : Hardy’s Humanism
Such is Hardy’s philosophy of life. It is certainly a gloomy one, for he regards life as suffering and man as a puppet in the hands of Destiny. But it cannot be called pessimistic, for pessimism implies negation of life, a wish not to have been born at all. It is only in his last novel, Jude the Obscure, that some cynism enters and Hardy becomes pessimistic. Otherwise, Hardy is a humanist, a poet who wants man to turn from nature to his own kind, for,

“There at least discourse trills around,
There at least smiles abound,
There sametime are found,
Life-Loyalties.”

Jun 12, 2019

Satan in Paradise Lost: Milton


Satan, as portrayed by Milton, was a different kind of character in an epic. Accordingly to the strict rules of dramatist art Satan should be a piece of villain but he is the most important character of the poem. The narrative which Milton selected for Paradise Lost is depended for its action on a wicked character rather than hero; but “Paradise Lost exists for one figure that is Satan”, as Abercrombie remarks. Satan has all the heroic qualities, besides being nobility and dignity; he has valour and determination which goes to make him a great hero.

As the Paradise Lost opens we see Satan in a hopeless situation. He and his companion are hurled down to the bottomless pit of hell. Heaven is lost to Satan and his companion and they are doomed to live forever in the darkness of hell. The original sin of Satan is same as man’s--- disobedience to God. At the very outset of “Book I” we see him as a fallen creature: “Fallen cherub, to be weak is miserable, Doing or suffering”. Like a hero, Satan has the power of recovery in the face of defeat. It was Satan who first of all arouses himself out from the lake of fire. God banished Satan but at once his active mind begins to scheme and makes an effort to join his shattered forces.

The best poetry of Paradise Lost is found in the paragraphs where Satan appears or speaks. In his five speeches, he appears as a magnificent figure. “Satan’s speech is incessant autobiography”, as C.S. Lewis remarks. We first analyze Satan’s character through these speeches and than try to locate within overall Miltonic argument.

Satan’s first speech is one of the pure Miltonic lyricisms. He asks his followers not to lose heart and advices them “what though the field is lost? All is not lost”. These famous lines embody, not the spirit of puritan or armies, but the spirit of Hitler. In this speech he appears as a leader, accordingly, the leader of the angels go to the solid plane, where Satan exhorts Beelzebub to come over his disappointment and face the situation bravely in which they are: “Courage never to submit or yield What is else not to be overcome”.

The second speech shows Satan’s heroic power, but he has burning out audacity and superb self confidence in which he says “to be weak is miserable doing or suffering”. In this speech he says that if God attempts to turn all evil into good he must sacred the duty of fallen angels to foils his efforts and turns all the good into evil.

The line “Receive thy new possessor”, in the third speech shows satanic mind and its passion for over lordship. This speech shows his feelings of pride in which he says “It is better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven”. Satan says place is not important for him because he thinks mind is important and he claims to have a mind which “Can makes Heav’n of a Hell, Hell of a heav’n”.

In fourth speech, he addresses his followers like a politician and calls them “power matchless”; and later he addresses them “Princes, potentates, warriors and flower of heav’n”. In this speech, he says them “wake, arise or be forever fallen”. This speech is so commanding that they at once arouse out of their stupor. In fifth speech, Satan is determined to combat with God to save his pride. To his followers, he says, that they must not think of peace: “War, than war Open or understood, must be resolved”.

From Satan’s speech, it appears that Satan should be a heroic character but we cannot sustain this line argument when we read the text more deeply but one can says “Milton’s Devil as a moral being is far superior to his God”, remarks Shelly. In this poem, Satan turns from hero to general; from general to politician; from politician to secret agent; thence a tod; and finally to a snake--- such is the progress of Satan, as Gardner remarks: “ Satan’s carrier is a steady progress from bad to worse, and ends with complete deformity.” And Tillyard was right when he says: “Satan is not a hero, he is an arch angel ruined. God uses the evil design of Satan to assert his eternal providence”.

One may put forward the point that Satan embodies Milton’s courage, love of freedom, republication and hatred of tyranny. Just as Milton opposed the autocracy of King Charles I and became a stern republican, so also Satan defied the authority of God and rebelled against Him. In his own way, Milton, was determined to rebel against constituted authority and this, unconsciously, he puts into the mouth of Satan

It is undoubtedly a matter of discussion whether Satan is really the hero of the epic or not. Satan is at the centre of Milton’s Paradise Lost who dominates especially in Book I and II and in IV. He is the heroic figure in the first two books. He is still an Archangel though he is rotting in the hell. His character, his power his evil capacity must be exalted to show the epic greatness of the coming conflict, in order to rouse the sympathy in the reader and for redemption.

There comes a time in the life and character of Satan getting distorted. There is an instance where little of heroism remains in him when he takes the shape of toad to whisper in Eve’s ear, he was stirred up by the Spear of Ithuriel. At the close of the poem, Satan’s degradation is complete.

Truly speaking, man is really the heroic figure of the poem. It is all the truth if we consider together Paradise Lost where Man, though conquered, wins the readers’ sympathies and the coming of the Greater Man is foretold. Paradise Regained where the Divine Man triumphs. In the later part of the poem, Satan is not only vanquished ignominiously, but also appear before the reader a mean, shifty, paltry creature as contrasted with the haughty, desperate impersonation of evil of the earlier work.

The Puritans were God-fearing. It was a protest and reaction against the decadent Spirit of the Renaissance. Puritanism is the potent force in Milton’s work. The makes use of the controversial topics such as the universality of Divine Providence, the reality of evil, the hope of redemption from evil, and the unity of human race.

Because of the influence of Renaissance, the character of Satan-like Faustus-was glorified by Milton which was done at the cost of God, the other character in the epic. Satan is the product of Milton’s love of enterprise and adventure. Whereas, Spenser’s Faerie Queene has Knight of the Red Cross, Satan is a Knight of Staygian Darkness who has all attributes of knightliness which gleamed in the romances and the epics of the Renaissance.

To conclude, if we are to understand Satan’s character we must stop him reading as a great unfortunate. This is of course, he is like Mecbeth, and like Mecbeth he is wicked and unrepentant till the end. Thus, knowingly or unknowingly Milton presents Satan in such a manner that he becomes to us, as Begehot remarks, “the hero of Paradise Lost”; but the evil degenerates him from the role of a great hero to a cunning villain. This makes him a tragic figure/hero but not an epic hero. If we go deep in Paradise Lost we find that without Satan it would be nothing more than a theological thesis composes in a verse.

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