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Faulkner, Browning, and Ibsen: Literary Analysis

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    Great works of literature are all produced by great authors. This is a sample essay that explores the literary works of Faulkner, Browning, and Ibsen, three of the greatest writers in recent memory. Each of these authors explores different themes and use different literary mechanisms to do so, but all three are excellent in their own way. It provides an example of how the writing process works at Ultius.

    Analyzing the works of Faulkner, Browning, and Ibsen

    Sometimes one can understand the truth of a cliché despite how hackneyed and over-analyzed it may seem, however great works of literature in all genres proves to stand as richly fruitful and as timeless markers as any beautiful lyrics ever known. Three masters of the genres of the short story, the play, and the poem are hereby represented by William Faulkner, Robert Browning, and Henrik Ibsen. Each genre is provided with a named theme of control for each specified work and genre.

    • William Faulkner's short story “Barn Burning” shall explore the theme of guilt and sin of the fathers being bestowed upon the progeny, in terms of the struggles and choices finally made by the progeny.
    • Robert Browning's poem “My Last Duchess” investigates the theme of the depth of the mystery of love and passion of a royal lady who is nevertheless a woman of flesh-and-blood wherein a piece of art can capture the great impact of emotional suffering, anguish, and sexually charged emotional energy through the subtle physical observances.
    • Henrik Ibsen's play “A Doll's House” shall carry the theme examined herein of considering or questioning the ethics of a woman leaving her husband for the sake and freedom of self-discovery.

    The authors' use of literary devices

    Each controlling theme as its own entity of critical analysis seeks to connect the literary device or connect each thesis to the characters involved in the human dramatization. Symbolism, language, and setting shall be considered as well. Supporting points will hopefully lend credibility or at least reasons for pondering the thoughts each work provokes, in a way or ways that make sense to the reader.

    There is are obvious reasons literature is categorized under the expression of the “Humanities.” Seems as though the story cannot be separated from the fact, feelings, emotions, and passions of our being human. Finally, a common thread between the three works shall provide an opportunity to speculate shared ideas that each of the literature speaks to.

    "Barn Burning" by William Faulkner

    William Faulkner uses the theme of the power struggle in his short story, "Barn Burning," speaks of guilt and sin of the fathers being visited upon the sons, generations or progeny. However, in the story, the son Sarty Snopes actually takes a pro-active role in the end to decide the fate. When Abner Snopes, it is clearly displayed that Sarty's father loses his cool with his usual the world-owes-me-something attitude. After Smith yells “Damnation!” and having declared himself glad to be banned spitting out:

    “I aim to. I don't figure to stay in a country among people who...”

    The guilt of Abner burning down his landlord's barn is obviously undisputed as the case is summarily dismissed, with no court appeal.

    The text has some interesting language which reflects the manner of man that Abner is. One scene in the story as a telltale backdrop in the setting, according to the Archive recalls Abner's clothing as a “stiff black coat” and his personage as “the wiry figure walking a little stiffly.” Symbolism in the classic sense of a literary device utilizing allusion, suggests a dark nature about the father.The symbolism communicates broadly a lack of virtue in the father. The sin,

    Using symbolism to develop character personality

    The symbolism communicates broadly a lack of virtue in the father. The sin, guilt, and shame of the father which disillusions the son sets a sort of trap in a way – or a dilemma. In other words, there comes a time in life where we must perceive a real need to view our parents as human, and thereby fallible. This may come as a shock to many.

    Depending of course upon the intensity of the disillusionment, a father or mother of dubious principles aired to the public like so much dirty laundry can be embarrassing. Naturally young Sarty's allegiance as a son to his father is challenged especially after moving to the Major de Spain household. When as fate might present an opportunity for a fresh start, it would seem that even after the harsh lye soap debacle of ruining the rug Abner might acquiesce to the situation at hand and try a little humbleness.

    Victimization and violence in Faulkner's short story

    Even after a reduction of the fine for screwing up the rug from twenty bushels of corn down to ten, Abner takes upon himself the role of the victim being wrongfully treated. A word is in order here about the historical conflicts between blacks and whites particularly in the American South, and although Faulkner utilizes this setting, there remains a universal core pointing to the dignity or indignity of the human condition.

    Personal character is always a matter of heart and soul underneath the individual skin. Faulkner, as Yuan Education notes, uses Abner's character's makeup as a “narcissistic white man who always feels being mistreated and always seeks an outlet to vent his anger” and mostly his wounded foot to demonstrate through symbol Abner's “wounded pride.” If you try and think about colloquial conversation whenever the foot is mentioned it's not always a good thing. For example, she stuck her foot in her mouth signifying she said the wrong thing. The foot can portend an evil bent.

    "My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning

    Robert Browning's poem entitled "My Last Duchess" is rather intriguing. It is compelling and striking to note that the object of the poem, according to a Wikipedia source, was the fourteen-year-old bride of the fifth Duke of Ferrara one of the famed de' Medicis. While it is true that this source is not normally ever referred to with any great academic weight, in this case indeed provides a clear painting of the portrait of the young woman – along with the full text of the poem itself.

    The thesis of the poem has a connotation of passion, mystery, and depth of a love of a lady of royal means and standing, yet she is as common as any other woman of flesh-and-blood. She experiences an impact of emotional suffering, anguish, perhaps the sweet pangs of love and sexually charged emotional energy which leave their imprint upon the body and soul.

    "A Doll House" by Henrik Ibsen

    Henrik Ibsen's famous plays include "A Doll's House." The play takes place in a Christmas time setting speaks volumes of the promise of jovial and warm family gatherings, charitable gift giving, and the comforts of sweet dainties and rum. The female protagonist Nora is being blackmailed by a bank employee all choked up with bitterness but determined to smear Nora's life since he knows about her previous forgery surrounding a loan.

    Contemplation of suicide is a serious thing and Nora thinks about jumping to her death in an icy lake. Just as feared, when her husband finds out about her indiscretion he flies into a rage. The thesis here speaks to questioning the ethics of a woman leaving her husband for the sake and freedom of self-discovery.

    Which is worse? Staying with a man just to married in name only? Or feeling like a woman is forced to leave because she cannot bear the coldness of such an arrangement, and coming to the conclusion that the only answer is to leave her home and enter the world alone?

    The reference as reminds readers how Nora's husband, Torvald, refers to her as “my little squirrel” and still loving her despite the fact as his “little-caged songbird.” The thought alone can be a bit sickening and depressing. Ibsen's literature in the format of a play helps to pump a sense of real-life scenario, betrayal, and discomfort within the dynamics of human relationships when one has done something wrong.

    Maliciousness used as a literary device

    In these moments of wrongdoing, which may not always be based upon any intentional maliciousness is hard to cure. That is once a deed has been done it is difficult to assuage parties who are involved and either directly or indirectly hurt by the action. The internet is replete with real-life stories of men and women who break up days before a wedding, forever changing the course of their lives.

    And who is to say? Some of these disruptions may have been the biggest mistakes of their lives. You only live once. Ibsen's sense of creating a dichotomy of peril plays out very well in the dialogue and circumstances of the plot.

    Conclusion

    These three genres and tales may derive from different writers, but there may be room for a common ideology tying them together or at least giving room for the overlap of general themes that run through the human condition. The common thread running throughout all the works, given the diversity of setting, symbolism, and language is guilt and sin, betrayal, and the questioning of what comprises ethical choices.A narrower common thread might depict itself as hard choices and the guilt of sin. That sin may be intended or unintended, but the human condition does not allow for perfection. Literature helps human beings to find a commonality in emotions, morality, and struggle of one passion or another. Character analysis helps pull the significance of lessons and needed sympathies or sensitivity because after all, nobody is perfect.

    A narrower common thread might depict itself as hard choices and the guilt of sin. That sin may be intended or unintended, but the human condition does not allow for perfection. Literature helps human beings to find a commonality in emotions, morality, and struggle of one passion or another. Character analysis helps pull the significance of lessons and needed sympathies or sensitivity because after all, nobody is perfect.

    Works Cited

    Archive. (2013). Collected Stories of William Faulkner [Data file] Retrieved from http://archive.org/stream/collectedstories030393mbp/collectedstories030393mbp_djvu.txt

    FullBooks.com. (2013). A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen [Data file] Retrieved from ;http://www.fullbooks.com/A-Doll-s-House1.html

    Plays About. (2013). A Doll's House: Plot summary [Data file] Retrieved from http://plays.about.com/od/plays/a/dolls_summary.htm

    Shmoop.com. (2013). My Last Duchess by Robert Browning [Data file] Retrieved from http://www.shmoop.com/my-last-duchess/summary.html

    TheatreDatabase.com. (2013). Henrik Ibsen – Ibsen's plays [Data file] Retrieved from http://www.theatredatabase.com/19th_century/henrik_ibsen_001.html

    Wikipedia. (2013). My last duchess {full text of poem and portrait} [Data file] Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Last_Duchess

    Yuan Education. (2013). Learn it easier – Educational resources – Barn Burning (William Faulkner) [Data file] Retrieved from http://yuaneducation.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/barn-burning-william-faulkner/

     
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