Get help from the best in academic writing.

Comparing the Devil in Farewell to Arms and The Outsider (The Stranger)

The Devil in Farewell to Arms and The Outsider Once we knew that literature was about life and criticism was about fiction–and everything was simple. Now we know that fiction is about other fiction, is criticism in fact, or metaphor. And we know that criticism is about the impossibility of anything being about life, really, or even about fiction, or finally about anything. Criticism has taken the very idea of “aboutness” away from us. It has taught us that language is tautological, if it is not nonsense, and to the extent that it is about anything it is about itself.

One of the fascinations of reading literature comes when we discover in a work patterns that have heretofore been overlooked. We are the pattern finders who get deep enjoyment from the discovery of patterns in a text. And true to the calling we have noticed a pattern in and around A Farewell to Arms which, to our knowledge, no one has seen before. Although there are many editions of the novel, and as a result the pagination is slightly different in various editions, it is the case that all editions have forty-one chapters to be found in five books. Here is what we have discovered: if you multiply 41 by 5 you get 205. And now if you take the number of letters in Frederic’s name (8) and add that to the number of letters in Catherine’s name (9) you get 17. 205 17 = 222. And if you grant that the time of the events in the novel, counted properly, is three years, then the pattern we have discovered starts to emerge as figure on ground or as lemon juice ink on a secret message when held over a candle. For what is the product of 222 and 3 but the infamous 666 of Revelations 13:18?

Imagine now our delight when we discovered a similar 666 pattern in The Outsider. If you multiply the number of letters in Meursault’s name times the number of letters in `Albert’ times the number of letters in `Arab’ you get 216. Add to that the 6 of `Albert’ and multiply by 3 (which is the number one gets when dividing the number of chapters in Part one (6) by the number of books (2) that make up The Outsider) and surprise of surprises: the meaning revealing number `666′ once again emerges!

A Young Woman’s Fantasy in The Turn of the Screw

A Young Woman’s Fantasy in The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James, is an odd story about a young woman who, leaving her small country home for the first time, takes a job as a governess in a wealthy household. Shortly after her arrival, she begins to suffer from insomnia and fancies that she sees ghosts roaming about the grounds. James is a master story-teller and, at times, the complexities of the story make it difficult to follow. The Turn of the Screw is a story within a story, the tale of the governess being read aloud as a ghost story among friends. Harold C. Goddard wrote a fascinating piece of criticism entitled “A Pre Freudian Reading of The Turn of the Screw.” When applied to the book, his theory makes perfect sense. Goddard suggests that the governess, young and inexperienced, immediately falls in love with her employer during their meeting. As a result of her unrequited love, her overactive mind creates a fantasy in which the the two ghosts intend to harm the children, in order to make herself a heroine, thereby getting the attention of her employer.

Goddard points out that the young woman is unstable from the beginning. We find out little about her background, except that she is “the youngest of several daughters of a poor country parson” (4). It becomes immediately obvious to the reader that such a drastic change of environment as she experiences is cause enough for her to experience extreme anxiety. Indeed, she tells Mrs. Grose, “I’m rather easily carried away. I was carried away in London!” (8). After her interview with her potential employer, the man from Harley Street and the uncle of her young charges, she goes on and on about the man, praising him and …

… middle of paper …

… that haunt the grounds. The story is told through the voice of the governess, which, considering her mental state, makes it difficult to decipher what is actually occurring. There are many questions that are never answered, rather, they are left up to the reader to decide.

Works Cited and Consulted

Freud, Sigmund. An Outline of Psycho-Analysis. New York: W. W. Norton

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.