Since the beginning of time, man has taken every step possible to advance technology. Advancements in medicine, aviation, science, and other areas, have made our world a better place to live. But there have also been technological developments that perhaps have hurt mankind far greater than any benefit that they have provided. Through their works, five German authors present readers with a very difficult question: Is the technology really worth it? These authors present many common themes. In this essay I will discuss these themes and how they relate to the social cost of advancing technology.
The first play that I read this past semester was Goethe’s “Faust.” This play is centered around the life of the scientist and doctor, Faust. Faust is a very intelligent man who has excelled in life as a scientist and a doctor. Though everyone looks up to him and thinks he is a great man, he still thinks that he does not know enough. He believes that every bit of knowledge that there is to be attained must be attained. This belief coupled with the unhappiness he possesses with life leads him to make the ultimate decision which, in turn, ruins both his life and the life of others, all because he was selfish, and wanted to know it all and couldn’t do it on his own. Faust made a bet with Mephistopheles, the devil. This bargaining with the devil is something that the mind should never know about. Two people ended up dying because of the involvement Faust played in their lives because of this little bet that he made with Mephisto. And the only question that can be asked is “was it really worth watching others die just so he could be happy?” And the answer is no. He saw the woman he loved and her brother die before him because of his selfishness, his desire to milk life and knowledge for all that they were worth. And what did Faust gain? In my opinion, nothing. He only lost. Some things in the world are worth knowing. Some things are even worth going to extremely great ordeals to know them. But in Faust’s case, he was childish, immature, and selfish. He became so depressed and had to know more, even though most people would have killed to be as fortunate as he was.
Characters of Sir Walter Elliot and Anne Elliot in Jane Austen’s Persuasion
The Characters of Sir Walter Elliot and Anne Elliot in Persuasion
In Persuasion, by Jane Austen, there are many exceptional characters. Perhaps two of the most memorable are Sir Walter Elliot, and his daughter, Anne Elliot. These characters are well shaped and have something about them that transcends time and social class, enabling readers of the all ages, to feel they have something in common with them.
Jane Austen has created a very silly, vain man with immense family pride in Sir Walter Elliot. Sir Walter is extremely proud of his good looks, his family connections and above all, his baronetcy.
The reader is introduced to Sir Walter at the beginning of the novel. Immediately his family pride is seen and the reader cannot help but associate Sir Walter with the aristocracy known to Austen. A simple character sketch of him reveals much:
Vanity … was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter
Almost unconsciously, the reader feels a strong dislike for a man who:
considered … beauty as inferior only to … a baronetcy.
Sir Walter’s pride and vanity is reinforced in many different ways: the way he acts in certain situations, his opinions of others, his dialogue, and others opinions of him.
Sir Walter is a character who will always act in the same manner, no matter what situation he is involved in. Sir Walter uses his family name for authority and decision making. For example, when Lady Russell suggests economizing Sir Walter reacts:
What! Every comfort of life knocked off!…even of a private gentleman.
Another example is when Sir Walter leaves Kellynch Hall and is “prepared with condescending bows”. In each of these examples, Sir Walter reminds others of his title, and that they are l…
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… Persuasion is still popular today that emphasizes this universal and realistic world of Austen’s characters.
Works Cited and Consulted
Austen, Jane. Persuasion. New York: Oxford, 1998
Curran, Stuart. “Women Readers, Women Writers.” The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism. Ed. Stuart Curran. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Fergus, Jan. “The Professional Woman Writer” The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Eds. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster. New York, Cambridge UP, 1997. (12-32).
Radway, Janice. “Reading Reading the Romance.” Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: A Reader, Second Edition. Ed. John Storey. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998.
Wiltshire, John. “Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion” The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Eds. Edward Copeland and Juliet McMaster. New York, Cambridge UP, 1997. (58-84).