Friday, November 1, 2019

The Art of Storytelling from Chopin to Barth Essay

The Art of Storytelling from Chopin to Barth - Essay Example In these loosely connected fourteen stories that form the collection, Barth explores the predicament of man's stark and almost bare reality, and a sense of being under constant observation perforates the work. Barth experiments with different styles in this work, being contemporary and realistic in a few of the early stories, whereas adopting a more innovative and fantastical approach towards the later half. Through this paper I want to establish the fact that the literature of a period reflects the social, economic, cultural and literary trends of that age. The narrative, structure, language, portrayal of characters, themes and literary styles all represent the relation of the individual with the society that has conditioned him. The portrait of twenty-eight-year-old Edna Pontellier in The Awakening is a milestone in American fiction, which depicts a woman in search of her own identity. Even in the perception of her husband, Mr. Pontellier, Edna is not a quintessential "mother-woman" (p. 8) naturally given to strong maternal instincts and selfless nurturing. In this quest she turns away from convention and society, and rather takes a turn towards the primal, irresistibly attracted to nature and the senses. "A certain light was beginning to dawn dimly within her,-the light which, showing the way, forbids it." (p. 13) For me, The Awakening vividly depicts the socio-cultural transition that marked the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century-a transition from Victorian outlook to the seminal steps towards modernism as reflected few decades later in the works of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. It depicts a period in history when women were regarded as the property of their spouses and mostly taken for granted. Lost in the Funhouse for me also typifies certain assumptions of the age it was written in. Post-modernist fiction has a predominant theme of self-consciousness which I feel this work reflects in immense measures. Moreover, the contemporary theoretical problems of fiction writing, that Barth was preoccupied with during the 1960s is strongly embedded in the text. A sense of loss, of frustration also comes across through the stories which the age was preoccupied with. The Awakening traces predominantly an inward journey of self. Edna Pontellier, the protagonist of the novel, is the wife of a successful New Orleans businessman. On the exterior she reflects happy domesticity-a mother of two children with a husband who provides adequately for the family. Her husband is no villain as is clear by the following lines: "And the ladiesall declared that Mr. Pontellier was the best husband in the world. Mrs Pontellier was forced to admit that she knew none better." (p.7) She is more or less content with this state of existence till she vacations with her family at a seaside resort in Louisiana where she spends much of her time with Robert Lebrun, a romantic young man. This interaction sparks or rather awakens a new side of her personality which had since been dormant. She starts thinking about herself as an individual rather than being defined by the roles she plays in the society. Soon, after many intimate

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