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Comparison of Mother Figures in Medea and Mother Courage
Bertolt Brechts Mother Courage and Emile Zolas Therese Raquin are both works with characters that possess maternal instinct. There is not a definite explanation for maternal instinct because it can be viewed differently. Although this is true, there is often a stereotype woman with the right qualities of maternal instinct. This often articulates unrealistic images in peoples minds. Instinct means an imposed set of values, imposed by the society and the way they think a mother should naturally act by. Realistically, the instinct depends on the mothers disposition, the way she wants to behave depends on her emotions, which cannot be articulated. Therefore, it is not possible to impose a definite set of values for how a mother should act for it varies from one mother to another.
Mother Courage is a mother who fights for a living so that her three children can survive the war. War to her is a necessity because she needs the business from the soldiers in order to survive, but on the other hand, war is her ultimate enemy. She is doing everything to keep her and her children from being involved with the war. It was her husbands death that lead to her natural defenses for her children and the war which in turn resulted in expressing her strong maternal instinct.
Also, Mother Courage is forced to make decisions and puts a lot of effort into trying to stay with her children. For example, when the Cook proposes to Mother Courage, Kattrin realizes that the Cook thinks she is a burden and does not like her. Therefore, she decides to leave, but Mother Courage chooses to leave the Cook and follow Kattrin instead. Here, Mother Courage has sacrificed her potential welfare in order to protect her only child left.
[Mother Courage] Well go off in tother direction, and well throw cooks stuff out so he finds it, silly man.
But just by looking at this protection towards her children, one cannot readily
Assume that she is a good mother. Through various sacrifices made by her children, Brecht portrayed traits of human selfishness. For example, when the Recruiter took her bravest son, Eilif away:
[Recruiter to Eilif] Got your bounty money here, come along. Eilif stands undecided.
[Mother Courage] Half a florin it is.
Mother Courage, who had always distasted war, loses her most valuable thing, her bravest son to war whilst bargaining the price of a best with the Sergeant. Here, Brecht uses situational irony as an example of how Mother Courage did not meet the criteria of a stereotyped maternal instinct. Brecht gave Mother Courage an unconventional response to losing her son, where she is very unsentimental when she realizes her son is lost.
In a similar situation, when a loving mother realizes her son or daughter is missing, she is most likely to have a much more dramatic and concerned attitude when compared to Mother Courage. Despite the loss of her child, Mother Courage seems to have the opposite of this. She decides to go off with her car and her two other children to continue their livelihood; a sense of irony is present as well. The technique here is to use examples, again, to prove that Mother Courage may not be the caring mother she should be.
Then loses her two other children because of her own self-interest in trying to protect her cart rather then her children. First she loses Swiss Cheese when she denies of knowing her son as she was asked and as a result, he is executed in agony. So in trade for her cart, she abuses Swiss Cheeses sovereignty. Then she loses her daughter while Kattrin was warning the town of Halle of invasion. These three experiences of trade with war shows that Mother Courage embodies the qualities of cowardice; for preferring the cart for her own welfare over her children, dishonesty; when she denies to the Sargent of knowing Swiss Cheese, and selfishness; for choosing her own benefits once again.
Madame Raquin occupies the role of a very protective mother in the work, Thrse Raquin. She also holds great responsibility for taking care of Camille and his female cousin, ... more
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Mark Twain Racist Or Realist
Mark Twain, Racist or Realist?
This paper examines Mark Twain’s work to determine whether or not he was racist. Racism is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as the belief that one race is superior to others. Unfortunately the issue of race isn’t black or white. There are many shades of gray in racism and even the most progressive thoughts of old seems conservative as progress enlightens new levels of thought. During his time, Twain was a forward thinking author who championed many causes, one of them being fair treatment of the downtrodden and oppressed.
The only example of potential racism is his treatment of the Goshoot Indians in Roughing It. The main body of his work points to innovative anti-racist themes. Even if one admits that Twain fosters some derogatory stereotypes labeling his work scabrous, unassimiable, and perhaps unteachable to our own time is shortsighted and revisionist. Even if Twain was racist the process of learning is supposed to combat backwards teaching from our past through exposition and discussion (Wonham 40). I even learned from Mein Kampf and objections to Mark Twain’s potential racism pale in comparison to Hitler’s crimes against humanity. Mark Twain certainly wasn’t as politically correct as contemporary newsmen or politicians but his primary occupation was as a satirist. Even today successful comedians, from Saturday Night Live to The Tonight Show, use techniques similar to Twain’s irony, satire and burlesque.
Every serious Twain scholar knows of Twain’s reputation as a burlesque humorist/satirist as well as his anti-imperialist and anti-religious tendencies. The scholar must be careful when labeling or categorizing Twain’s work because of his frequent use of sarcasm but Twain definitely liked blacks and abhorred slavery. His treatment of Natives and the Chinese was questionable when looked at apart from his work as a whole, but he slammed the white race more mercilessly than he ever condemned any other race. Sadly, the cynical and sarcastic Mark Twain can never be fully understood because only he knew what thoughts he was trying to convey.
Twain often used burlesques to get a point across by showing the ignorant how ignorant they actually are. In Huck Finn, Twain linked religion and slavery by showing how the former can pervert knowledge and cause acceptance of the latter over objections of conscience. When Huck is ’born again’, he forgets his vow to aid Jim, and his euphoria as being ‘born again’ resembles the feeling of being ‘light as a feather’ that he experiences after deciding to turn Jim over to the slave-catchers (Fulton 83). This commentary is as much about the sorry state of slavery as it is about slavery’s Biblical foundation.
James L. Johnson dedicated Mark Twain and the Limits of Power to outlining how, like Emerson, Twain’s solipsism is a fundamental ingredient in much of [his] best work (Johnson 8). Twain’s characters had or wanted an extraordinary ability to dominate the worlds in which they find themselves (Johnson 1). Twain had little faith in a Christian God so he put more faith in the self. Johnson also thought Twain’s bitterness increased as he unearthed that the larger and more masterful the Self became, the less benevolent he was likely to be (Johnson 7). Although Twain’s life was common because it had limits he envisioned a character who might not have to make those accommodations, a hero who might break out of the prison of limitations into a brighter life (Johnson 187). Frustration with the world, hence a caustic temperament, arose as time wore on but Twain never lost sight and hoped for mastery over it and freedom (Johnson 189).
In 1907 Bernard Shaw remarked to Archibald Henderson that, Mark Twain and I find ourselves in the same position. We have to make people, who would otherwise hang us, believe that we are joking (Clemens 5). This point is well illustrated by the fearless Twain in this excerpt from Mark Twain’s Jest Book:
In the spring of 1899, I was one of a crowd of some 1200 who attended at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York to hear a lecture on his adventures in the South Africa War given by a Lieutenant of Huzzars, one Winston Churchill – ... more
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