General Vision and Viewpoint: Characters That Share A Particular Vision of Life – Challenging Obstacles

General Vision and Viewpoint: Characters That Share A Particular Vision of Life – Challenging Obstacles

Characters that share a particular vision of life – challenging obstacles

Macbeth: In the play characters challenge obstacles however this reveals a bleak outlook as this is done for selfish reasons that defy law and morals, which presents a world where characters do not care for others but rather are only preoccupied with self-serving interests. This is evidenced through the lack of respect for the king of Scotland; in the world of the play the king was God’s representative in the kingdom, divinely chosen to implement the natural order of things whereby all in the kingdom acting according to the king’s wishes and commands, which reflected those of God. However at the start of the play there is already opposition to the king’s rule by the traitorous thane of Cawdor; the king himself even realizes this, evidenced when he laments the ‘absolute trust’ he placed in the Thane of Cawdor and how he was deceived, declaring ‘There’s no art/ To find the mind’s construction in the face./ He was a gentleman on whom I built/ An absolute trust’. In this same scene Macbeth also shows his lack of devotion to the king as the witches have awoken his ambition and he now desires to be king; therefore, while he tells Duncan ‘our duties/ Are to your throne and state, children and servants,/ which do but what they should by doing everything/ safe toward your love and honor’ he is already considering how he can seize the crown. His concluding soliloquy, in which he declares ‘The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step/ On which I must fall down, or else o’erleap,/ For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;/ Let not light see my black and deep desires’, indicates his thought process, as he also considers how to be rid of Malcolm, who Duncan has just announced as heir to his throne. Needless to say, Macbeth’s later act of regicide is further evidence of a lack of respect for the king in the play.

I’m not Scared: There are both characters who face and challenge their problems as well as those who do not in the film, revealing a bright outlook on life as it shows that characters are not willing to let others unfairly control their lives and seek to have control over their existence, as well as a dark outlook as it shows characters who ignore their problems even when these need solving. This is seen in the situation near the beginning of the text involving Filippo’s capture, which comes about because of the divide between the rich and poor in Italy in 1978. As a result of the conflict between both groups the poor, with the help of a northerner living in Brazil, have kidnapped the ten-year-old son of a northern wealthy family, Filippo, so as to raise money to combat their difficult financial position. While sinister in its means, the motives display a willingness to challenge the unfair economic divide across the country. In contrast Filippo’s parents do little to get their son back; instead of doing all they can they refuse to pay the ransom for Filippo they stal by using televised messages to the kidnappers. Indeed, such is the unexpected length of time that they remain away from their son that Filippo believes he and his parents are dead, using the logic that if they were alive they would have rescued him. Such a belief, caused by the isolation between the boy and his parents, is deeply depressing as it shows how his parents will not do all they can to help their son, which they should as it is their parental duty, and shows they prioritise that which is obviously less important, such as monetary matters.

The Old Man and the Sea: Santiago’s repeated confrontations with the sharks and the marlin can be read as challenges to authority as these take place in the oceanic realm where such fierce and large creatures are dominant forces. The description of Santiago’s traveling further out than normal indicates a realization that he is a world that is not his own and that he is a visitor here, as well as the presentation of the sea-creatures as belonging to this place; ‘The old man knew he was going far out and he left the smell of the land behind and rowed out in the clean early morning smell of the ocean. He saw the phosphorescence of the Gulf weed in the water as he rowed over the part of the ocean that the fishermen called the great well because there was a sudden deep of seven hundred fathoms where all sorts of fish congregated’. He also realizes the power of this place, indicated when he presents the sun as part of this place and remarks of its blinding rays, ‘All my life the early sun has hurt my eyes… In the evening I can look straight into it without getting the blackness. It has more force in the evening too. But in the morning it is painful.’ However, despite his realization that he is a visitor and respecting the power of this place, Santiago challenges the animals that dominate this setting, such as catching and refusing to free the large marlin which pulls his boat far out into the gulf, and his stabbing of the shark with the dagger that he fashions from his oar. The old man attempts to justify his challenge by declaring that everything is sinful and that killing is a natural way of life which  in part excuses his actions, despite not having any rights in this space; he therefore believes that he should not worry about his actions towards the beings that reside in this place, ‘Perhaps it was a sin to kill the fish.. But then everything is a sin. Do not think about sin. It is much too late for that and there are people who paid to do it. Let them think about it… everything kills everything else in some way.’

Aspects of life texts concentrate on

Macbeth: The play focuses on the concept of loyalty which reveals a depressing outlook as not even kings can inspire devotion from their subjects, which thus reveals the world of the play to be a place where one cannot trust even those who should be closest to them. Duncan is god’s representative on earth and the natural order of things ensures that all should respect and follow his rule, but the Thane of Cawdor and Macbeth are intent on seizing his position and when Macbeth becomes king the lack of devotion to this position becomes even more appearent. Macbeth may have some who follow his rule and obey his orders, such as the murderers who kill Banquo, but he does not have absolute rule. Throughout the play Macduff shows himself as openly opposed to the king, refusing to attend his coronation, causing Macbeth to remark to his wife ‘How say’st thou, that Macduff denies his person/ At our great bidding?’ Macduff and Malcolm later plan to overthrow the king, with Macduff later traveling to England to meet Malcolm and seek military assistance from King Edward of England. Later, as the play nears its end, it is revealed that many of Macbeth’s troops have abandoned him, and Angus remarks that even those who stay with him are not absolutely loyal: ‘Now minutely revolts upbraid his faith-breach;/ Those he commands move only in command,/ Nothing in love: now does he feel his title/ Hang loose about him, like a giant’s robe/ Upon a dwarfish thief.’ As the battle commences many of the aforementioned soldiers fighting for Macbeth switch sides, leaving the king with little support as his castle is attacked and overcome, with Malcolm telling Siward that ‘We have met with foes/ That strike beside us’.

The Old Man and the Sea: The text focuses on the power and heightened state of animals, which creates a bright outlook as it attempts to elevate such creatures who are usually dismissed as inferior without any substantial regard for their state. Santiago feels an affinity to the creatures that live in the ocean and sees them as equals, as opposed to the conventional view that animals are inferior to humans (this enforces his belief that killing the marlin and attacking the shark is a natural part of life). He attempts to justify this view by comparing the strength of animals who fight even when injured to the great baseball player Joe DiMaggio who shows similar tolerance to pain, declaring ‘the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel’ is indicative of the fighting cocks can ‘endure.. the loss of the eye and of both eyes and continue to fight’, concluding that ‘Man is not much beside the great birds and beasts’. Elsewhere he establishes a fraternal link with various animals, suggesting that man and the animals are equal, and enforcing this by personifying the animals. This is seen in such instances as when he speaks of the porpoises and says ‘They play and make jokes and love one another. They are our brothers like the flying fish.’

I’m not Scared: The text focuses on the need to isolate one’s self from a childish view of life where all is viewed with wonder, and instead recognize and accept the harsher ways of the world. This reveals a dark outlook as it endorses the removal of an optimistic viewpoint and forces an individual to confront the painful parts of reality, when often a departure from such aspects is most beneficial. Initially Michele’s viewpoint of the world is one devoid from reality, where he is fascinated by supernatural elements such as wolves, witches and madness. This is evidenced in his perception of Filippo’s situation; while it is plainly obvious that Filippo is being kept kidnapped Michele can see nothing sinister about his fellow ten-year-old being chained in a hole by an abandoned farmhouse. Michele’s father will not tolerate his son living with such an alternative reality, especially when it leads to a disregarding of his father’s orders. He subsequently tells his son ‘Stop all this talk about monters… monsters don’t exist. It’s men you should be afraid of, not monsters’ and as the novel progresses Michele’s father prompts him to view life differently by focusing on the elements of his world rather than a space that is imagined. This is evidenced when Michele comes to realize Filippo is kidnapped and his father is involved when he hears the discussion of the men who decide ‘We have to eliminate the kid’ and ‘We’ll do what they do in the war to decide who goes on deadly missions, we pick a match’. Whereas earlier in the novel Michele would not consider the moral implications of this, now there is a more realistic and hardened view of the world as Michele now considers that his father might be a criminal; this is evidenced soon after when he hurries to Filippo and urges him to flee the hole, frantically warning him of the repercussions of not doing so, ‘Don’t you understand? If you stay they’ll shoot you!’.

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About the Author

John Ryan

John has a Masters in Modern English Literature and is the founder of RyJoLC, an educational consultancy based in Dublin that provides English language and curriculum resources to educational institutions worldwide.
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