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Tragic Realization Through Trials in Works of William Styron

Tragic Realization Through Trials in Works of William Styron

The apocalyptic view maintains that life is a struggle between good and evil that can not be justified morally. Samuel Coale suggests that it is that ethical “quest, the search of values of [William Styron’s] heroes amid the stark realities of pain and suffering” that plays into his novels (399). Nat Turner, in The Confessions of Nat Turner, revisits his insurrection and comes to terms with his relationship with God and his own role in the rebellion. The two main characters in Sophie’s Choice, Stingo and Sophie, both go through separate trials and end with different conclusions concerning man’s impact in life. In The Long March, Captain Mannix struggles with senseless death and his role in an opposing society. Each of these characters fights others but is also forced to confront the hell that his or her body houses.

The Confessions of Nat Turner is divided into two parts: the rush of evil and violence and the calm after the storm. The story of the insurrection is told in flashback as Nat analyzes his actions from his jail cell. Throughout the rebellion, Nat defends himself by saying that God has commanded him to rid the world of white people. However, as he continues through his meditation, he realizes that God may have not been there after all, prodding him along. His first revelation comes when he finds he cannot pray in jail. Though he attempts to do so, the words do not come and he does not feel God’s presence. Only after he thinks over the entire ordeal can he begin to talk to God again.

Nat’s motto throughout the insurrection originates from the Bible, “The first shall be last and the last shall be first.” Styron explain…

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Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 60. New York: Gale, 1990, 399-403.

Hoffman, Frederick J. “William Styron: The Metaphysical Hurt.” The Art of Southern Fiction: A Study of Some Modern Novelists. 1967.

Rpt. in Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 15. Detroit, Michigan: Gale, 1980, 524-26.

Kakutani, Michiko. “William Styron and His Life and Work.” The New York Times Book Review. Dec 1982, 3,26. Rpt. in

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 60. New York: Gale, 1990, 394-96.

Pearce, Richard. “William Styron.” American Writers. Ed. Leonard Unger. New York: Scribner’s, 1974.

“Sophie’s Choice.” Magill Book Reviews. 1979, n.pag. MAS.

Styron, William. The Confessions of Nat Turner. New York: Random,1966.

_____. The Long March. New York: Random, 1952.

_____. Sophie’s Choice. New York: Random, 1976.

Comparing Virginia Woolf and Emily Bronte

Comparing Virginia Woolf and Emily Bronte

Virginia Woolf and Emily Bronte possess striking similarities in their works. Both works have inanimate objects as pivotal points of the story line. For Bronte, Wuthering Heights itself plays a key role in the story. The feel of the house changes as the characters are introduced to it. Before Heathcliff, the Heights was a place of discipline but also love. The children got on well with each other and though Nelly was not a member of the family she too played and ate with them. When old Mr. Earnshaw traveled to Liverpool he asked the children what they wished for him to bring them as gifts and also promised Nelly a “pocketful of apples and pears” (WH 28). Heathcliff’s presence changed the Heights, “So, from the beginning, he had bred bad feeling in the house” (WH 30). The Heights became a place to dream of for Catherine (1) when she married Linton and moved to the Grange. For her it held the memories of Heathcliff and their love. For her daughter, Cathy, it became a dungeon; trapped in a loveless marriage in a cold stone home far away from the opulence and luxury of the home she was used to. Then, upon the death of Heathcliff, I can almost see, in my minds eye, the Heights itself relax into the warm earth around in it the knowledge that it too is once again safe from the vengeance, bitterness, and hate that has housed itself within its walls for over twenty years.

For Woolf the inanimate object that is at the center of her plot is the looking glass. It sees all, both inside and out, and its reflection is a foreshadowing of what unfolds in the story. It provides the foreshadow for a menacing presence and the mystery that follows, “Suddenly these reflections were ended violently and yet without a sound. A large black form loomed into the looking-glass; blotted out everything, strewed the table with a packet of marble tablets veined with pink and grey, and was gone” (Woolf, Longman 2454). The looking-glass is used to build the tension for the audience.

This is very similar to the way both the weather and the Heights serve in Wuthering Heights.

It some ways it is almost as if the looking-glass has an eerie kind of power of the objects closets to it.

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