Do the interests, concerns and experiences of writers in the 20th century assist 21st century human beings in the understanding of the purpose of existence?
I believe in order for individuals to understand the meaning of their present day lives and their future they need to be able to reflect on the history that took place before them and allow themselves to empathize with the events that occurred. In particular, for societies to thrive in the 21st century they need to understand the suffering and radical developments that were the catalyst of change for what is now the modern day world. I support the notion that the authors of the 20th century did allow audiences in the 21st century to gain a deeper understanding of the meaning of life.
George Orwell was fundamental in allowing audiences to understand the consequences of political regimes and movements such as totalitarianism and Fascism. Through his works such as 1984 written in 1949 and Politics and the English Language written in 1946 show a different side to what is generally portrayed about governments and social trends. With the novel 1984, it explores the concept of free will and individuality. In particular, the contrast between the characters Winston Smith and Julia delves into the issue of lack of identity and limited creativity. As Winston is able to rebel against society with his ideas and knowledge while Julia is only able to rebel against society physically. Although there is no physical or deep connection between the characters, it does hint to the audience that being confined to limited amount of psychological and physical activity can destroy the essence of the meaning of life as we can see the deterioration of the characters throughout the second half of the novel. Also with the notion of Big Brother, it does show that in the 21st century that we have allowed this to control our lives with websites such as Facebook and Twitter; though this does show that the content that anyone shares or states is able to be patrolled and watched by higher authorities. Considering that Orwell did hint this to his audience in the 1950’s, it is still extremely relevant in the 21st century as we have allowed the notion of Big Brother to control us now in the present.
Even though art styles and genres changed dramatically over the 20th century with artists such as Pablo Picasso, literature changed just as much. I believe that one of the most radical changes in literature was poetry during the first war world where the context and atmosphere of the works changed from being a melodical and didactic to a realistic and personal description of what their experiences were. Poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilford Owen express the horrors of war and what the consequences of governments playing a political war have. This poets’ insight into war does allow audiences from both the 20th and 21st century as the events of the world wars does still effect some areas in the present day. These poems allow the audiences to realize how fragile life is and that they may have a bigger purpose in life than playing a pawn in a political game. I find it ironic that artworks such as Guernica by Pablo Picasso in 1938 are more well-known than some of the poetry created in regards to the aftermath of the world war. In my opinion, I believe that some of Owen’s works such as “Anthem of Doomed Youth” should be a compulsory subject in English studies in schools as I was able to gain a deeper insight into the atmosphere and consequences of war when comparing it to artworks from Modernism.
Overall, in this unit of 20th Century Literature I have been able to understand why the movements and ideals of the 20th century are still relevant to us in the 21st century as many of the authors concerns and interests still apply to a modern society.
This week we weren’t given any formal topic so I have decided to discuss the play Faith Healer written by Brian Friel in 1979 and the impact that it has had on me and why I was able to empathise to the married couple of Francis (Frank) and Grace Hardy.
When I had read the play, I found it interesting but after seeing it in person I have a new respect for it. While reading the play initially, I analysed the work critically and was trying to find the main ideas and arguments that would have related to the context of the Twentieth Century Literature unit but after being able to watch the story I was able to gain an emotional experience with the characters. Similar to the stillborn of Francis and Grace, I remember when I was a child my god mother had trouble with being pregnant and when she finally fell pregnant in her third trimester she had a stillbirth. I remember at the time my family and my god father had to watch over her and ensure that she was stable enough to be able to go on in life. Unlike Grace Hardy and her alcoholism, my god mother dealt with her grief in other ways such as volunteering in nursing homes etc.
During Grace’s monologue, she goes into depth about her issues with life after the death of Frank and how she has become unstable in the daily routines. During the performance, the actress who portrayed Grace created an atmosphere in the room that was almost unsettling but also peaceful at the same time which I think was fundamental in allowing the audience to understand her and the situation she was in. I did like how the title of the play was almost ironic in regards to Grace as she was searching for peace but was unable to ever achieve being truly happy with her relationship with Frank. That the “Faith Healer” had failed her as she was let down continually by Frank.
Ironically I did the same topic as you this week and I really have enjoyed reading another perspective of a letter to Mansfield, your work was much more casual than mine and I quite liked it. The context of the work was good but there were a few grammatical errors that I could see such as you end a sentence but just keep adding commas. When I write letters, I like to think of it as if I’m writing a speech and that you need to breathe rather than continuing to add commas. Also I would of liked to hear your opinion on her work the “The Daughters of the Late Colonel” and the impact that it made on you or the emotions that you felt after finishing the work. Apart from that, I really did enjoy your post and look forward to reading more of your posts. Riley
Write a letter to Katherine Mansfield thanking her for her insight into the condition of women.
Dear Katherine Mansfield,
Firstly, I would like to state that I very much enjoyed reading work The Daughters of the Late Colonel. The depth of the two sisters brought the work to life and it created an atmosphere of lost and hope. Though these two notions do contradict one another, I thoroughly adored the way that the sisters find hope in being loss without their father.
In particular, the imagery of the birds created in the last scene was fundamental in establishing the outcome of the two sisters I believe. The notion of the young birds being trapped inside the cage is symbolic of the sisters of how they were confined in the authority of their father and that they become lost without the structure that their father created for them. In a way, I feel very similar to the two sisters as my life is structured like them. In my own life, my father is the head figure of our house and his opinion and rules are like law for all of us. Although he is not a dictator and is very open to my siblings and myself, I too like the sisters would feel very lost without him telling us what to do and how to behave in certain environments. So at the end of the story with the sisters both forgetting what they were about to say, I can understand the situation because their household completely relied on their father telling what to do and how they should behave.
Also with the ending of the novel, I found it quite interesting how you created a beautiful imagery of freedom but then destroyed it as a way to show the insecurities of the girls and how they are unsure what to do with the sensation of freedom yet but having this image ruined, it displays the vulnerability of the girls. This element of vulnerability is so important in your work and I believe it was critical in literature in this time period due to the need and rise of feminism.