For eons, the intricacies associated with the universe have always fascinated mankind. Many a scholar have for thousands of years tried to find answers to these 4 questions: Who are we? Where do we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? In the herculean task to answer these questions, another baffling yet logically pertinent issue has surfaced: “Is everything the universe connected in some way?” The Native Americans philosophical ideology, based largely on a twelve principles tenet, fronts this dogma with the principle of wholeness which states that “All things are interrelated. Everything in the universe is part of a single whole. Everything is connected in some way to everything else.” It goes ahead to state that it is only possible to understand something if we understand how it is connected to everything else. In my quest to answer this predominantly vital question, it becomes prudently inevitable to study the literal works of various scholars hitherto studied.
First to be analyzed is Yellow Wallpaper, a literature piece of work by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The narrative is written from the perspective of a woman who undergoes a nervous breakdown. We are therefore apprised of the intriguing happenings through her diary, which charts her gradual mental deterioration. The narrator and her husband cum physician, John, have rented an ancestral house for a summer. John prescribes for the narrator a rest cure. She is prohibited from writing; she writes nonetheless, perhaps to spite him. Isolated in her room and completely inactive except for her writing, the narrator becomes transfixed by the sickeningly grotesque wallpaper that surrounds her. She projects herself into the convoluted patterns of the paper and imagines a feminine figure entangled in the radiating network of fronds and vines. In the final scene of the work, the narrator, who has seemingly lost her mind, tears off the wallpaper and crawls and creeps smoothly across the floor and over John, who has collapsed lifelessly after seeing his wife wriggling and writhing on the ground.
Two orders of writing are figured in the novella. On the one hand, there is the language of the yellow wallpaper, which spreads its sprawling patterns, its fecundating, fungoid forms, all over the room in which the narrator is confined-this is clearly representative of the language of medicine and maleness. On the other hand, there is the idiolect of the female narrator, who frees herself by writing in defiance of her husband’s orders. Writing is here figured as a mode of activity-which, during the pre Second World War epoch, was a quintessentially male practice.
As thus the book gives us a first hand, victim’s account into the era when men determined women’s behavior. Then, men manufactured, customized and controlled a conglomeration of culturally-accepted norms that shrewdly gave them the upper hand in society. This, as shared by Deborah Thomas in her post “The Changing Role of Womanhood: From True Woman to New Woman in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper”, was tantamount to perpetrating an ideological prison that subjected and silenced women. She goes on to assert that women, expected to labor under the seeming benevolence of the Cult of Domesticity as dictated by societal norms found themselves imprisoned in the home or private sphere, a servant tending to the needs of the family. Furthermore, the Cult of Purity obliged women to remain virtuous and pure even in marriage, with their comportment continuing to be one of modesty. Religious piety and submission were beliefs that were more peripheral components of the ideology, yet both were borne of and a part of the ideology of True Womanhood. These were the means that men used to insure the passivity and docility of women.
Another issue raised in the novel is the antagonistic effect of creativity versus rationality. From the outset, the narrator’s creativity is on a collision course with her physician husband’s pragmatic rationality, most likely borne out of his profession. However, the narrator is not able to suppress her creativity, despite her best efforts to follow John’s instructions. Because she is not able to write openly and feels the repression of her imagination, she inadvertently exercises her mind via the yellow wallpaper. Although the narrator attempts to incorporate John’s rationality into the chaotic pattern of the wallpaper, she fails; the wallpaper cannot be quantified in John’s way. Her repressed imagination takes control, and she loses all sense of reality, becoming lost in delusions and the idea that she herself was the woman trapped in the wallpaper.
Set at a bucolic Midwestern college known only as The-College-on-the-Hill, White Noise follows a year in the life of Jack Gladney, a professor who has made his name by pioneering the field of Hitler Studies (though he doesn’t speak German). He has been married five times to four women and has a brood of children and stepchildren (Heinrich, Denise, Steffie, and Wilder) with his current wife, Babette. Jack and Babette are both extremely afraid of death; they frequently wonder “who will die first”. The first part of White Noise, called “Waves and Radiation”, is a chronicle of absurdist family life combined with academic satire. There is little plot in this section, and it mainly sets the scene for the rest of the book. Another important character introduced here is Murray, who frequently discusses his theories, which relate to the rest of the book.
In the book’s second part, “The Airborne Toxic Event”, a chemical spill from a rail car releases an “airborne toxic event” over Jack’s home region, prompting an evacuation. Frightened by his exposure to the toxin, Gladney is forced to confront his mortality. An organization called SIMUVAC (short for “simulated evacuation”) is also introduced in Part Two, an indication of simulations replacing reality.
In part three of the book, “Dylarama,” Gladney discovers that Babette has been cheating on him in order to gain access to a fictional drug called Dylar, an experimental treatment for the fear of death. Soon the novel becomes a meditation on modern society’s fear of death and its obsession with chemical cures as Gladney seeks to obtain his own black market supply of Dylar.
However, Dylar does not work for Babette, and it has many possible side effects, including losing the ability to “distinguish words from things, so that if someone said ‘speeding bullet,’ I would fall to the floor to take cover.”
The first theme highlighted in this novel is the fear of death and white noise.
Accordingly we are conditioned to believe that death lurks everywhere, especially in the white noise of the modern world, specifically in the waves and radiation with which we surround ourselves. The airborne toxic event makes visible this submerged death, and also heightens Jack’s already dominating fear of death when it infects his bloodstream. There is also the issue of simulations replacing reality where DeLillo takes a quintessentially postmodern idea, that simulations have replaced reality, and applies it throughout White Noise. The most obvious example is with the simulated evacuation, SIMUVAC. The aura of authority is another vital point. In some ways, this is a subset of the simulation theme. Murray observes in “the most photographed barn” scene that the observers cannot escape the “aura” of the barn. The barn assumes this aura of authority that controls the observers. In the same sense, there is much exploration in White Noise of how the media controls reality, even to the extent that we ignore our own senses; the girls consistently feel the symptoms of Nyodene D exposure only after the radio informs them of what they are.
The zoo is a one-act play concerning two characters, Peter and Jerry. Peter is a middle-class publishing executive with a wife, two daughters, two cats and two parakeets who lives in ignorance of the world outside his settled life. Jerry is an isolated and disheartened man who lives in a boarding house and is very troubled. These men meet on a park bench in New York City’s Central Park. Jerry is desperate to have a meaningful conversation with another human being. He intrudes on Peter’s peaceful state by interrogating him and forcing him to listen to stories from his life, including “THE STORY OF JERRY AND THE DOG”, and the reason behind his visit to the zoo. The action is linear, unfolding in front of the audience in “real time”. The elements of ironic humor and unrelenting dramatic suspense are brought to a climax when Jerry brings his victim down to his own savage level.
The catalyst for the shocking ending transpires when Peter announces, “I really must be going home” Jerry, in response, begins to tickle Peter. Peter giggles, laughs and agrees to listen to Jerry finish telling “what happened at the zoo.” At the same time Jerry begins pushing Peter off the bench. Peter decides to fight for his territory on the bench and becomes angry. Unexpectedly, Jerry pulls a knife on Peter, and then drops it as initiative for Peter to grab. When Peter holds the knife defensively, Jerry charges him and impales himself on the knife. Bleeding on the park bench, Jerry finishes his zoo story by bringing it into the immediate present, “Could I have planned all this. No… no, I couldn’t have. But I think I did.” Horrified, Peter runs away from Jerry whose dying words, “Oh…my…God”, are a combination of scornful mimicry and supplication.
The American dream is an early, one-act play by American playwright Edward Albee. It was first staged 24 January 1961 at the York Playhouse in New York City. The play, a satire on American family life, concerns a married couple and their elderly mother. They are visited by two guests this particular day who turn their world upside down.
The family in this play consists of a dominating Mommy, an emasculated Daddy and a clever and witty Grandma. A neighbor, Mrs. Barker, enters and the dialogue continues with the occasional interjection by Grandma. Mommy and Daddy exit leaving Mrs. Barker and Grandma alone. Grandma apparently knows why Mrs. Barker has been asked to come by and explains to her that Mommy and Daddy had adopted a son from her many years previously. As the parents objected to the child’s actions, they mutilated it as punishment, eventually killing it. After Mrs. Barker exits, a Young Man appears at the door looking for work. After hearing his life story, Grandma realizes that this Young Man, whom she dubs “The American Dream,” is the twin of Mommy and Daddy’s first child. As the first child was mutilated, he too was experiencing the pain and has been left as an empty shell of a man. After seeing this Young Man as a way out, she moves her things and leaves. The Young Man is introduced to the family as a suitable replacement for the original child.
Albee explores not only the falsity of the American Dream but also the American family’s status quo. As he states in the preface to the play, “[It is] an examination of the American Scene, an attack on the substitution of artificial for real values in our society, a condemnation of complacency, cruelty, emasculation, and vacuity; it is a stand against the fiction that everything in this slipping land of ours is peachy-keen.