The story “The Blind Man” by D.H. Lawrence can be read at many levels. On the surface, the story is about the struggles of Maurice Pervin as he learns to cope with the loss of his sight. On a much deeper level, it can be seen that Maurice is closed in by his blindness and it is through another man’s weakness that he begins to “see” again.
To understand the meaning of “The Blind Man”, one must first try to understand Maurice Pervin. He has spent most of his life with sight and is totally blinded in Flanders. When he returns home, he and his wife Isabel adjust to his new disability. This doesn’t affect their marriage, though. The Pervins have a happy marriage and at times feel it is strengthened by the loss of Maurice’s sight. For Maurice, “life was still very full and strangely serene for the blind man, peaceful with the almost incomprehensible peace and immediate contact in darkness” (Lawrence 139). He is still able to work on the farm and does not regret the fact of being blind. There are times, however, that his disability does get the best of him. He goes into fits of depression. These times strain his marriage and challenge his security. To help Isabel cope with the “burden” of him, Maurice tells her to invite her cousin Bertie for a visit. This is a big step for Maurice because he and Bertie have a history of resentment. Maurice comes from a country family. He is passionate and sensitive but slow minded. Bertie is a lawyer with intellect and a quick mind. Isabel enjoys Bertie’s company and this challenges Maurice’s security in his marriage. Maurice “hate[s] Bertie Reid, and at the same time he [knows] the hatred [is] nonsense, he [knows] it [is] the outcome of his own weakn…
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…weakness. He knew he could not answer. He had unreasonable fear lest the other man should suddenly destroy him. Whereas Maurice was actually filled with hot, poignant love, the passion of friendship” (151). They return to the house and Isabel can sense the change in both. Maurice is a whole man and Bertie has lost his security.
Both men are pretending to be something they are not. By the end of the story, they are both a little closer to becoming the men they really are. Maurice becomes alive again and “to be alive, to be man alive: that is the point” (“Bright” 134). Through Bertie, the reader sees “one man becoming a corpse, because of his so-called goodness” (134). Lawrence shows how people affect each other, and sometimes we just need to break through our barriers and reach out to someone. Maurice learns to “see” again through the touch of another man.
Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway – A Modern Tragedy
Mrs. Dalloway – A Modern Tragedy
The narrative of Mrs. Dalloway may be viewed by some as random congealing of various character experience. Although it appears to be a fragmented assortment of images and thought, there is a psychological coherence to the deeply layered novel. Part of this coherence can be found in Mrs. Dalloway’s psychological tone which is tragic in nature. In her forward to Mrs. Dalloway, Maureen Howard informs us that Woolf was reading both Sophocles and Euripides for her essays in The Common Reader while writing Mrs. Dalloway (viii). According to Pamela Transue, “Woolf appears to have envisioned Mrs. Dalloway as a kind of modern tragedy based on the classic Greek model” (92). Mrs. Dalloway can be conceived of as a modern transformation of Aristotelian tragedy when one examines the following: 1) structural unity; 2) catharsis; 3) recognition, reversal, and catastrophe; 4) handling of time and overall sense of desperation.
Woolf read the Poetics in Greek and was cognizant of the Aristotelian criteria for tragedy. One necessary element, from Aristotle’s definition, is structural unity. It consists of an interrelationship of events within the plot. Each event must follow, causally, preceding action to form a coherent whole. According to Aristotle, “a whole is that which has beginning, middle, and end” (233). The Poetics further states: “Again to be beautiful, a living creature, and every whole made up of parts, must not only present a certain order in its arrangement of parts, must also be of a certain magnitude” (233). The ideal Aristotelian plot should be well constructed, without any extraneous parts, and consists of memorable length.
Although upon first reading, …
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…rior and exterior nuances. Although it seems contradictory, Woolf’s use of fragmented imagery and thought colliding together almost randomly yet linked beneath the surface by fine threads of coherency represents an attempt synthesize the novel with life.
Aristotle. “The Poetics.” The Rhetoric and the Poetics of Aristotle. Ed. Ingram Bywater. New York: McGraw Hill, 1984. 223-66.
Bazin, Nancy Topping. Virginia Woolf and the Androgynous Vision. New Burnswick: Rutgers UP, 1973.
Curd, Patricia Kenig. “Aristotelian Visions of Moral Character in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.” English Language Notes 33.1 (1995): 40-57.
Howard, Maureen. Foreward. Mrs. Dalloway. By Virginal Woolf. New York: Harcourt and Brace, 1981, vii-xiv.
Transue, Pamela J. Virginia Woolf and the Politics of Style. Albany: State U of New York P, 1986.