Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Waiting for Godot

In "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Beckett, the characters' lives are full of meaningless repetition. Beckett portrayed them as he would describe human nature in his eyes which is purposeless unless you can find some sort of reason to live on. Most of the characters are stuck in a mindless vortex and can never quite escape it, nor do they seem to notice it's existence. For example, Gogo started and ended the play in the same fashion  with no real progress throughout the plot. He finds himself tied to Didi and the tree waiting for Godot to appear. And even though he expresses the want to move on, he cannot seem to find the motivation to carry out any sort of action. Gogo lacks any sort of conscious or comprehend able thought processes. Didi seems to represent the human race as a species with no outer purpose in life and one of repetitive and circular events. Beckett poses the question on whether or not humans do have some sort of reason for being on earth and living besides one of just existence.

Though it may seem like an easy question to answer based on the play, at the very end of the book Gogo realizes to some extent how absurd his life is at the moment. I think that even though he became aware of his situation, he was scared of how to treat his discovery. He soon reverted back to the bland life of the past. Gogo did not know where to start looking for meaning in life and I think at the time, it may have been a larger task than he would like to have tried to accomplish. Plus, he probably thought it was better to have no meaning in life than to try to find meaning, fail, and be forced to return to a purposeless living style.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Crime and Punishment

      One of our recurring questions in book club was whether Raskolnikov was always crazy or if unfavorable situations sparked his insanity. In the first pages of the book, Raskolnikov started to "mutter something, from the habit of talking to himself" (2) supporting the theory that he was a somewhat crazy man to begin with. However, he remains a decent man until he walks into the tavern and overhears a few people talking about murdering his land lady. "why had he happened to hear such a discussion and such ideas at the very moment his own brain was just conceiving...the very same idea?... This trivial talk in a tavern had an immense influence on him in his later action..." (69) The talk about a hypothetical murder provided Raskolnikov with proof to justify his crime in his mind. Instead of focusing on the fact he was taking a life away, he shifted his stream of consciousness to the benefit he was providing the rest of society. I think he convinced himself he was doing good so that the reality of the murder would not make him feel guilty. Overall, I think had Raskolnikov not committed those murders, he would have been viewed as an anti-social member in society. However, since he did murder two women, I don't think Raskolnikov realized the psychological impact. The murders acted as the catalyst to Raskolnikov's whirlwind of confused and paranoid thoughts.
     Raskolnikov's increasing madness, however, was not without purpose. His crazed mind accentuates Raskolnikov's internal and external battles between morality and logic. One of the prime examples was the actual murder scene. Before he murdered Alyona, he "felt that he was losing his head" (79) and didn't feel like himself until afterwards. However, even though he trembles knowing what he did, Raskolnikov doesn't feel guilty (something he never admits to throughout the entire book). And yet, when Alyona's sister comes in unexpectedly, he loses his head once again and is dominated by fear (similar to that of the previous murder). Unlike the murder of Alyona, Raskolnikov feels "simple horror and loathing of what he had done" (83) after the murder of the sister. The two different reactions depict Raskolnikov as a man who thinks he knows justified actions from unjustified. It also gives a reader insight that evokes a better understanding of the complex ambiguity in Raskolnikov's consciousness.