General Vision and Viewpoint: Subject Matter That Reveals a Bright or Dark Outlook

General Vision and Viewpoint: Subject Matter That Reveals a Bright or Dark Outlook

MacbethThe subject matter of Macbeth is depressing, focusing on the fall of a great servant to the king due to his ambition. This presents a bleak outlook as it can be argued this is not of Macbeth’s doing; such a viewpoint endorses the individual’s lack of control in determining their fate and thus suggests that one can suffer an irreconcilable fall simply due to the actions of others. The play begins by praising Macbeth, revealing to the audience how fine a warrior and servant to the king he is, with Duncan telling Ross to award Macbeth with titles such as ‘Thane of Glamis’ and ‘Thane of Cawdor’ due to his prowess in war. Such is Macbeth’s dedication to the king that Duncan later remarks he loves Macbeth, upon arriving to his home for a feast and to stay the night, commenting of his ‘great love’ for his prized warrior. However, Macbeth suffers a fall from grace which it can be argued he is not blameworthy of; when he is returning to the royal court with Banquo after the war he meets the three witches who awake his ambition by telling him ‘Thou shalt be king’; this cannot be ignored as his ambition is too powerful a force (it a natural human trait), and also as the witches’ name the ‘Wyrd Sisters’ implies that the chain of events they set in place will inevitably come to pass (Macbeth becoming king), as ‘Wyrd’ is the Ango-Saxon word for fate. However, for Macbeth to take Duncan’s place he must commit the cardinal sin of regicide, ‘This even-handed justice/ Commends th’ingredience of our poisoned chalice/ To our own lips’. When this is complete he does all he can to safeguard his newly  attained position so as to satisfy his ‘vaulting ambition’, such as killing his best friend and attempting to kill his son Fleance, as the witches also foretold that Banquo’s family would inherit the throne. His fall from grace is truly tragic as it is not of his own doing but results in his decline from rewarded warrior to treasonous murderer; his death can be seen as paralleled with that of the tyrant Macdonwald he killed at the beginning, emphasizing his position as enemy of the state as the play comes to a close.

The Old Man and the SeaThe texts presents a bleak outlook as it focuses in part on the isolation Santiago wrongly endures due to an unjustified misconception that he is unlucky. We are told at the text’s beginning that the protagonist of the text is ‘an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish.’ However it is revealed that he was not alone for all of this time; rather Manolin, a young boy, had accompanied him for almost half of this time, ‘In the first forty days a boy had been with him.’ Manolin’s parents are then revealed to have caused the divide between the old man and their son; they decided that for the boy to be successful in his potential career as a fish he had to move to another group, as the old man was cursed, ‘now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky, and the boy had gone at their orders in another boat which caught three good fish in the first week.’ Such is Santiago’s pitiful and isolated state that the boy grew sad at seeing the old man returning empty-handed each day; he thus helped him bring in his fishing equipment, ‘he always went down to help him carry either the coiled lines or the gaff and harpoon and the sail that was furled around the mast.’

I’m not Scared: The text’s subject matter presents a depressing outlook, as it tells the story of the mistreatment of children, both by children and adults. While most focus will centre on the adults’ kidnapping of Filippo and Michele’s father shooting of his son, the mistreatment of children is most explicitly seen in the episode at the text’s beginning as certain children mistreat each other. While it is to be expected that adult characters will be cruel to each other, because of economic and political prejudices (as is seen in the text) the child characters in the text are cruel to each other, which is depressing as they are at an age where such individuals are usually socially enthusiastic; this reveals how even at a young age when individuals should be forming social bonds and learning about relationships they are already concerned with hurting others. This is seen near the text’s beginning with Skull’s treatment of Michele’s sister; when the group of children race through the wheat fields to the abandoned farmhouse Michele and his sister are last, and Michelle admits he must endure the forfeit, ‘I’ll pay up. I came last’. While it is his duty to Skull ignores this, and instructs Michele’s sister to reveal herself to the boys, displaying a desire to isolate her because of her gender. Similarly, when Michele’s sister looks to the other boys in the group for help to stop this none will help, which may be gender motivated but regardless shows an acceptance of Skull’s actions.

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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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