Monday, March 1, 2010


How does the perception of truth affect love?

In Beloved by Toni Morrison, perception of truth is a vital theme that runs throughout the novel. The entire novel is told from different point of views, which in turn affects the idea of truth and love. At one point in the novel, the character of Beloved is alternately being described by Sethe, Denver, and Beloved. Each has a dramatically different perception of who Beloved is, how she affects them, and their connection and love to her. "You are mine I have your milk I have your smile I will take care of you...I loved you You hurt me You came back to me You left me You are mine." Within each of these statements lies a different love, a different truth, and a different relationship between the three women in the novel. Sethe believes Beloved is her lost daughter that she alone can protect and nourish. Sethe, in feeling like she needs to atone for the lost time in loving Beloved, pours all of herself into Beloved until her love is sapped dry. Denver also sees Beloved as her sister, at first this perception causes her to be obsessive of her and jealous of Beloved's time and love. As the novel progresses the truth of Beloved's malevolent intentions are made clear to Denver, transforming both her perception of truth and her love of Beloved.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Stranger

How does the perception of truth affect love?

Albert Camus wrote the novel, The Stranger, in an attempt to speak of the great importance of truth in society. His character, Mersault, ends up being executed, on a deeper level, because of truth and how he didn't conform to the societal standards of emotion, regret, and confession. Mersault does not share with emotional levels of most members of society, thus when he seemingly just shows apathy throughout his whole criminal trial and in his relationshps, he is isolated. Mersault's perception of truth does not align with that of society; while society practices a belief that truth is slightly tainted and can be swayed in order to produce desired results such as freedom, the approval of others, or the easy way out, Mersault holds to truth as an absolute entity. As Mersault shares his anti-social thoughts and feelings, the public hates him for it, finding that the only way they can eliminate this individual who is so different than themselves is to execute him. In another sense, the reader is drawn to this character not necessarily out of love for him but rather an interest in his truthful behavior, however disturbing. Some of the comments or thoughts Mersault has are so simplisitic, so truthful they are similar to that of a child, except for the lack of morality. Camus explores society's relationship to truth, repression, and distortion of it.

The Metamorphosis

How does the perception of truth affect love?

In this novel by Franz Kafka, the main character and narrator Gregor Samsa transforms into a giant insect and the novel follows the result this has on both him and his family. Gregor's sister, Grete, at first is the one individual who cares for Gregor and provides him with a connection to the world outside of his room transformed prison. As the novel progresses, the perception of truth and its relationship to love become a vital theme and component. Grete and the rest of Gregor's family begin to see him as only an insect, rather than their son or brother. This percieved truth that Gregor is no longer Gregor causes them all to treat him with disdain bitterness. Grete verbalizes all this when she exclaims, " things can't go on like this. Maybe you don't realize it, but I do. I won't pronounce the name of my brother in front of this monster, and so all I say is: we have to try to get rid of it" (Kafka 48). It is clear that she hates the transformed Gregor because her truth is that he is a vermin, ruining her life and thus cannot expect to receive any love from her. This view is shared by Gregor's parents, more reluctantly and not as blatantly but their lack of love is there all the same. This change of love because of a new perception of truth marks the transformation of Gregor's family, which unlike Gregor's physical metamorphosis is one of character and emotion.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

how does the perception of truth affect love?

Throughout Joyce's novel, the primary character Stephen, is thoroughly confused about the notion of truth and the novel comprises his journey from one extreme to another in an attempt to discover truth. As Stephen's perception of truth constantly changes, so does his view, attitude toward, and actions of love. Growing up in a strict Catholic environment, he is surrounded with  religion, laws, structure, and tradition as his truth. This truth surpresses him while also not being accepting of his struggles. The Catholic church often speaks of love to Stephen but does not act out that love. In Stephen's friendships with boys his own age or his relations with his priests and authoritative figures, Stephen does not know how to act socially or how to love. Instead, he contains all of himself and internally struggles through life problems and struggles of his soul. The truth he perceives in this world is fear: fear of authority, fear of others' disapproval, fear of sin, fear of hell, fear of God. Thus he does not know how to love and distances himself in such a way that he does not need to accept of provide love. This lifestyle without love can be lonely and empty. Stephen realizes he lacks a vital part of himself yet is at a loss to what it is. He takes the suppresion of his emotions and destructably funnels them towards one concept of love: passion and lust. Immersed in this new perception of truth, his acts of love consume him, body and soul. This continual search for truth and from that love, leaves Stephen with a tormented soul. For Stephen, truth and love are directly connected. His foggy understanding and lasting confusion as to the essence of truth and what it means in his life disables him in his ability to love himself or others. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Playboy of the Western World

How does the perception of truth affect love?
Perception vs reality, truth, and love are all primary themes of this play. Connecting to one question we disscussed in class, who or what drives this play?, Christy Mahon's desire for love seems to be a force. Due to this desire and absence of love in his life, whether from his father or unknown past, Christy is compelled to create a persona in which to live through as he encounters a new town. This mask covering his true self becomes his truth that he presents to the townspeople in hopes of receiving love. In response to this, the towns people, especially Pegeen and Widow Quin, are swept into a frenzied love and obsession of Christy. Surprised at this sudden turn of events, Christy remarks, "It's great luck and company I've won me in the end of time-two fine women fighting for the likes of me-till I'm thinking this night wasn't I a foolish fellow not to kill my father in the years gone by" (Synge 63). Pegeen and the Widow Quin perceive Christy to be a man of unparallel with bravery, a mysterious past, and a desirable dispositon and show this by constantly giving him the attention he has previously been deprived of and the declaration of love he desires. These observably successful events are soon destroyed because they are built on foundations of perceptions rather than truth. As Christy's persona falls apart at the arrival of his not dead father, Pegeen is the first to turn her back against Christy. Confused Christy questions Pegeen, " You've seen my doings this day...for why would you be in such a scorch of haste to spur me to destruction now?" (Synge 103) In Christy's case in this play, his reception of love, acceptance, and worthiness are directly tied to the perception of truth, first in a positve way for Christy, followed by its quick removal.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

King Lear

How does the perception of truth affect love? 
This tragedy is interesting in that King Lear acts, struggles, and lives throughout most of the play under false perceptions of love and it isn't until the end of the play that his sufferings finally seems to bring him to the truth. 
As a more creative response to my question for King Lear I drew a picture. Unable to add it to my blog, I will simply describe it. It is a sketch of Cordelia lying on her deathbed, raised up with her arm hanging loosely by her side. Her distraught father, King Lear is kneeled with his arm stretched out to hers and his head thrown back in anguish. Cordelia's two corrupt sisters are also below her, simultaneously pulling and hanging on both her feet and Lear's arm with grotesque faces filled with torment and empty, sightless eyes. This symbolizes how Reagan and Goneril were the primary agents of chaos who influenced and created Lear's false perception of truth in order to deceptively gain his love. They effectively controlled Lear throughout the play sucking his power dry and leaving him as a weak and broken man. Kneeling before his dead, beloved daughter, Lear is finally at a place where he clearly understands the truth of the characters and yet is in agony as he can now only love Cordelia through his sorrow.
In the play, King Lear perceives Goneril and Reagan to be his loyal daughters who out of their love for him would house, respect, and provide for him. This perception leads him to blindly give them his kingdom. He is betrayed, his perception shattered and he is abandoned to suffer and come to an understanding of truth in the wilderness. Kent, the Fool, and Edgar help to bring him to a repentant and mournful state as he realizes Cordelia, his youngest was the daughter who truly loved him. He perceived her as ungrateful and unloving and thus responded by exiling her. When the two are finally united and reconciled at the conclusion of the play, love is only shared fugaciously.   

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I have always been fascinated by truth. It is such a powerful and profound word that encompasses so much. Truth has played a huge part in my life, as it goes hand in hand with freedom. So many times in life we repeatedly tell ourselves lies until we believe them to be truth. In one of Missy Higgins songs she says, " lies will lock you up with truth the only key." From my own experiences this is such a profound statement; freedom can only come when we accept, believe, and live out truth in our lives. Truth changes everything-beginning with our perspectives, which in turn trickles down to our thoughts and actions. 

This summer I was hit with a new realization: the idea that different peoples' view of truth can influence their actions, how they love, and help me to better understand them. I learned this year the reality of the saying, "there's two sides to every story." I heard many different views and opinions dealing with the same situation. It showed me how often it's not that there is simply truth and lie, or that one person is right and the other wrong, but instead that each person is acting in response to what they believe is true. 

Both in my own life and the situation this summer caused me to ponder at length the concepts of truth, love, and perception. This has lead me to question  how does the perception of truth affect love?

In my summer novel, Atonement by Ian McEwan, this question reflects some of the primary themes that are threaded throughout the story. The entire novel is based on perspective and is continually written from different characters' viewpoints. The reader, having an omnipresent point of view, can observe how each character lives in response to the foundation in what they believe to be truth, whether it be a truth perverted, genuine, or neither. This reality produces a series of painful consequences and ruined relationships. Cecelia grows an intense hatred for her sister Briony due to her perception that Briony knowingly destroyed her relationship with her love, Robbie. Similarly, Briony lives out her life mirroring her truth that she needs to atone for her crime and yet cannot acomplish the feat to redeem herself or her broken relationships because in reality it was an accidental misconception that needs to be healed through forgiveness. Both of these aspects, perception and truth are major influencing factors in how each of the characters love each other and themselves both internally and externally. 

In the play,  Oedipus Rex, Oedipus lives out his entire life believing in the truth of the prophecy that he will marry his mother and kill his father and  in response does everything in his power to prevent this unfortunate fate. Following him throughout his life, we observe how Oedipus naively falls in love with his mother and marries her. Even up until the conclusion to the play, Oedipus defends his actions and denies the reality of his situation because the truth of his sin does not parallel his perception of his relationships; he does not believe his life and relations to be corrupt and perverse and thus lives accordingly. He loves his wife and mother, children and half-siblings, and people of Thebes to the best of his ability, which could be considered noble in different circumstances, through the lens that he was pure. Likewise, later in the play he acts out his love to his city and children by maiming and exiling himself with his awareness of the truth that he was  guilty of a unnatural fate. Oedipus's love is directly correlated to his perception of truth.