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Essay on the Evils of Capitalism Exposed in Catch-22

Evils of Capitalism Exposed in Catch-22

“That’s some catch, that Catch-22” (47). Some catch indeed, for Catch-22 “is the best there is” (47). A strange paradox preventing men from being grounded under any circumstances, Catch-22 eventually evolves into a justification for doing virtually anything. After all, it “says [anyone] can do anything [that] we can’t stop them from doing” (416). A less obviously stated, but equally powerful, validation for one’s actions is the guarantee of profit. “It [is] odd how many wrongs leaving money [seems] to right” (418), for the promise or presence of some form of profit, rights even the wrongs warranted by Catch-22. Milo Minderbinder takes full advantage of this powerful reasoning and uses it extremely well. Yet, rather than using it to right wrongs, Milo uses it to justify his own dastardly deeds. Therefore, throughout Catch-22, Milo’s capitalistic greed leads him to be an emblem evil.

Milo spends most of his time in the army traveling Europe, the Middle East, and Africa in search of the best deal. With the use of “donated army equipment” (239) he buys and sells various items in order to make the highest profit. Rather than fly missions, Milo seeks to make money, capitalizing on his time abroad. After all, Milo “didn’t start this war…[he’s] just trying to put it on a businesslike basis” (262). This attitude leads Milo to begin a syndicate, one in which “everybody has a share” (238-239). This proposed arrangement keeps everyone at ease, so much so it leads to general sloth. Because “everybody [has] a share, …men [get] fat and [move] about tamely with toothpicks in their greasy lips” (259). One by one, the men succumb to the charms of plenty as well as to their internal greed…

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…avoids and resists many things that bring him closer to death or to violating his morals. Be it Aarfy, Colonel Cathcart, or war itself, Yossarian distances himself from the evil in question. Ironically, defiant as he is, Yossarian fails to break through the limitations of the syndicate and actually befriends its proprietor. Yossarian doesn’t even attempt to do otherwise, for even he “sagged back in a contented stupor, his mouth filmy with a succulent residue” (22); Yossarian had become one of the men who “got fat and moved about with toothpicks in their greasy lips” (259). Therefore, even he who refuses to conform to other standards is corrupted by the sweet blandishments and innocent appearance of capitalism. The novel thus ends on the note that no one remains free from so powerful a force.

Works Cited

Heller, Joseph. Catch-22. New York: Knopf, Inc., 1995.

Essay on Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman and Amanda in Glass Menagerie

The Characters of Willy in Death of a Salesman and Amanda in Glass Menagerie

In “Death of a Salesman”, Willy Loman believes the ticket to success is likeability. He tells his sons, “The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead.” In “The Glass Menagerie”, Amanda Wingfield has the same belief. Girls are meant to be attractive and they are meant to be attractive in order to entertain gentlemen callers. As she tells Laura, “All pretty girls are a trap, a pretty trap, and men expect them to be” (1048). It is this very belief that both Amanda and Willy try to ingrain in their children and it is this emphasis on likeability that makes the characters of Amanda Wingfield and Willy Loman so unlikable.

A major part of the reader’s animosity towards Willy stems from his responsibility for the ruin of his sons. Willy’s affair ends up being the reason that Biff ends up a high-school failure and a football has-been. This blunder both disheartens and destroys his eldest son. It becomes the reason Biff refuses to go to summer school; it becomes the reason that Biff leaves home. Yet, this is all a result of Willy’s need to be likeable. He cheats on his doting wife simply because it makes him feel special, because it gives him proof that women other that Linda are interested in him, because it makes him feel well liked. A woman “picked [him]”; a woman laughs when he makes jokes about keeping pores open; a woman pays him some attention (38).

In fact, it is Willy’s emphasis on likeability that leads Biff to brush aside his education in the first place. Bernard, the friend next-door who begs Biff to study for the Reagents, is described by Willy as a…

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…something she discovered was useless. They both put emphasis on something that had brought them nothing but pain and suffering and it is this entrapment that makes Amanda and Willy most unlikable. Rather than learning from their mistakes and teaching their children to avoid making the same ones, Amanda and Willy lead their children down the same path to failure, a path that Amanda found to have a dead end, a path to which Willy found no end at all.

Works Cited:

Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Seventh Edition. X.J. Kennedy, and Dana Gioia. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 1999. 1636-1707.

Williams, Tennessee. The Glass Menagerie. In Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing, 4th ed. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1995. 1519-1568.

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