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The Rise of Materialism Exposed in Winter of Our Discontent

The Rise of Materialism Exposed in Winter of Our Discontent

John Steinbeck showed alarm and disapproval to the rise of materialism and the post-World War 2, capitalistic morals found in America during the 1960’s. These views were expressed through various characters in his novel The Winter of Our Discontent .

This book dealt with the downward spiral of a good man, Ethan Allen Hawley. Pressured on all sides by influences once considered immoral, but now accepted in the 1960’s, Ethan, a grocery store clerk from a family of sea captains and wealthy businessmen, “…traded a habit of conduct and attitude for comfort and dignity and a cushion of security” (257).
Ethan’s son Allen embodies the ideals of the up and coming generation in the 1960’s. Growing up in the age of the supermarkets, game show scandals, and fixed traffic tickets, Allen’s view of “Something for nothing. Wealth without effort” (91) represented the exact opposite that of his father. Ethan, a man perhaps too concerned with the past, was a character Steinbeck used to speak his voice. Ethan was a man accustomed to honesty, good business, and respect.
Allen lived in a world much different than that of Ethan. Allen was raised thinking that being dishonest, immoral, and underhanded was accepted. “Everybody does it. It’s the way the cooky crumbles.” (353), Allen said when confronted by his father about plagiarizing famous speeches for the “I Love America Contest”. The only real opposition came when a person got caught. It almost seemed as if society allowed these illegal actions as long as the person(s) evaded punishment. The only reason Allen seemed upset was because he got caught, not because what he had done was wrong.

Steinbeck seemed to show that he felt family history to be very important. Ethan showed great persistence in asking Mr. Baker about the sinking of the Belle-Adair , which Ethan’s predecessors felt to have been purposefully burned by the Baker family for the insurance money. Ethan’s primary motivation to make a few immoral decisions came from internal pressure he felt to live up to the name of Hawley. He seemed very self-conscience and maybe even ashamed of the fact that he was a lowly grocery clerk, in a foreign owned store, which his family had once owned. Ethan began to hate Mr. Baker when he discovered that the Baker family had used the Hawley’s trust in them to gain more land in New Baytown by giving bad investment tips.

Custom Essays: Hamlet as an Accessory to Ophelia’s Suicide

Hamlet as an Accessory to Ophelia’s Suicide

William Shakespeare’s character of Ophelia in Hamlet, suffers greatly, from the time she learns of her father Polonius’ death, until her own mysterious death. In Hamlet, Gertrude, Horatio and Claudius refer to her state, and conclude that she is crazy1[1]. Though there is some truth to their claim, Shakespeare created Ophelia as an overly- dramatic character, who is somewhat exaggerating her emotions to give an impression of madness. Although their impression of Ophelia can be supported, evidence is not shown as much in her words, as it is shown in her actions. Ophelia’s songs seem like riddles and nonsense2[2], yet they are similar to the patterns of speech by Hamlet, revealing truths and true emotions, and at times sarcasm. However, Ophelia’s whimsical, and child-like behavior is quite different than the prim, reserved Ophelia at the beginning of the play. Still, this behavior is not consistent with the sad words in her grief-laden songs, nor is it consistent with a woman in grief rather Ophelia’s physical behavior is the strongest evidence that Ophelia may exhibit signs of madness. Hamlet’s act to convince his insanity to all that knew him influenced Ophelia to perform following Hamlet’s lead with his feigned madness, eventually leading to the girl’s suicide, thus implicating Hamlet in her death.

In act four, scene five; Gertrude and Horatio discuss Ophelia’s worsening condition directly prior to her entrance. They attribute the young girls’ decline to her concern for her recently dead father. Ophelia displays signs of being overly sensitive and volatile, which concerns Horatio: “Spurns enviously at straws, speaks things in doubt / That carry but…

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Notes:

1[1] Hamlet, (4.5.3,5-10).

2[2] Hamlet, (4.5.7)

3[3] Hamlet, (4.5.6-7).

4[4] Neely, Carol Thomas, “Document in Madness”, University of Illinois, Shakespeare Criticism Yearbook 1991, Volume 19, pp 333-334.

5[5] Hamlet, (4.5.21).

6[6] Hamlet, (4.5.29-32)

7[7]Hamlet, (2.2.186)

8[8] Turner, John, “Hamlet: The Court in Transition”. University College of Swansea, Shakespearean Criticism, Volume 16, Yearbook 1990, p. 253.

9[9] Neely, p. 333.

10[10] Hamlet, (4.5.47-54)

11[11] Neely, p. 333.

12[12] Hamlet, (4.5.55).

13[13] Neely, p. 333.

14[14] Hamlet, (4.5.159).

15[15] Hamlet, (4.5.176-186)

16[16] Persoon, James. “Shakespeare’s Hamlet: the meaning of Ophelia’s distribution of herbs and flowers.” Explicator, v. 55, Wntr 1997, pp 70-71.

17[17] Persoon, p 71.

18[18]Hamlet, (2.2109)

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