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Motif of violence and
aggression in world and
Polish literature
Mateusz Kusio (17)
Paderwski Private High School
Lublin, P...
Table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. Bible
3. Bible – part II
4. Violence in family
5. Homer, Iliad
6. Homer, Iliad – par...
Introduction
Literature, since when it was invented, has been
depicting a range of everyday life’s aspects. It
hasn’t been...
Bible (ca. IXth – Vth cent. BC)
Genesis, Chapter 4
1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and sai...
Bible – part II
10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth
unto me from the ground.
11 A...
Violence in family
The Biblical story of Cain and Abel takes
a prominent place in the history of the
European culture. The...
Homer, Iliad (ca. VIIIth cent. BC)
Song XXII – The Death of Hector
Fierce, at the word, his weighty sword he drew,
And, al...
Homer, Iliad – part II
Where ‘twixt the neck and throat the jointed plate
Gave entrance: through that penetrable part
Furi...
Violence during the war
In the Homer’s depiction, war in a
confrontation of two heroes – Achilles
and Hector. Although, Il...
E.A. Poe, The Black Cat (1843)
One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about
town, I fancied th...
Violence coming from addictions
The E.A. Poe’s short story is based on
one major assumption: human
imperfection is the rea...
H. Sienkiewicz, Janko the Musician (1879)
Stach nooded his stupid, animal-like head, took Janko under his arm as if
he was...
Violence towards children
Sienkiewicz’s novella was one of those that
were putting the ideals of social
development into t...
J.-K. Huysmans, À rebours (1884)
This turtle was the result of a whim that had suddenly occurred to Des
Esseintes a short ...
J.-K. Huysmans, À rebours – part II
He gnawed his nails, searching in vain for a way to reconcile these
discordances, to p...
Violence towards animals
Huysmans’s À rebours (Against Nature) is
said to be the bible of the decadent
movement in the lat...
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain (1924)
Some thirty-year- old man, a merchant formerly, having a fever for ages, who
had be...
Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain – part II
Among the guests, there was a man who doesn’t have to be unmasked, his case
was ...
Violence reasoned by prejudice
The scene from The Magic Mountain
could be seen as a prophecy. It’s a very
clear presentati...
J. Dehnel, Die Schöpfung (2007)
[…] passing irritably from one room to another, recalling a sentence read once
in some dis...
Auto-violence: suicide
Suicide is commonly understood as escaping
a situation that overwhelms an individual and
with which...
Bibliography:
Texts:
Books:
• Dehnel J., Rynek w Smyrnie, Warszawa 2007
• Mann T., Czarodziejska góra, vol. II, Warszawa 1...
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Motif of violence and aggression in world and polish literature

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Transcript of "Motif of violence and aggression in world and polish literature"

  1. 1. Motif of violence and aggression in world and Polish literature Mateusz Kusio (17) Paderwski Private High School Lublin, Poland
  2. 2. Table of contents: 1. Introduction 2. Bible 3. Bible – part II 4. Violence in family 5. Homer, Iliad 6. Homer, Iliad – part II 7. Violence during the war 8. E.A. Poe, The Black Cat 9. Violence coming from addictions 10. H. Sienkiewicz, Janko the Musician 11. Violence towards children 12. J.-K. Huysmans, À rebours 13. J.-K. Huysmans, À rebours – part II 14. Violence towards animals 15. Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain 16. Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain – part II 17. Violence reasoned by prejudices 18. J. Dehnel, Die Schöpfung 19. Autoviolence: suicide 20. Bibliography
  3. 3. Introduction Literature, since when it was invented, has been depicting a range of everyday life’s aspects. It hasn’t been focusing only on the bright sides of it. Writers, from Greek aoides through medieval troubadours to authors of Modern era, were having a look into the darkest parts of human nature frequently. Therefore, atrocities, cruelty, and depravation are clearly visible in the written texts from the very beginning of literature in various depictions.
  4. 4. Bible (ca. IXth – Vth cent. BC) Genesis, Chapter 4 1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. 2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. 8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. 9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
  5. 5. Bible – part II 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. 11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand; 12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. 13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. 15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him. 16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. (King James Bible)
  6. 6. Violence in family The Biblical story of Cain and Abel takes a prominent place in the history of the European culture. The murder that occurs in it is caused by jealousy and, according to theology, is an effect of the original sin. It shows how cruel a man can be even towards their relatives. However, there’s one more aspect included in the story – forgiveness. It’s a counterbalance to the story of Adam and Eve who bore all of the consequences of their sin. Cain, although ‘dwelt in the land of Nod’, stays alive and begins a new life. Violence, even so horrible, doesn’t kill the men’s soul.
  7. 7. Homer, Iliad (ca. VIIIth cent. BC) Song XXII – The Death of Hector Fierce, at the word, his weighty sword he drew, And, all collected, on Achilles flew. So Jove’s bold bird, high balanced in the air, Stoops from the clouds to truss the quivering hare. Nor less Achilles his fierce soul prepares: Before his breast the flaming shield he bears, Refulgent orb! above his fourfold cone The gilded horse-hair sparkled in the sun. Nodding at every step: (Vulcanian frame!) And as he moved, his figure seem’d on flame. As radiant Hesper shines with keener light, Far-beaming o’er the silver host of night, When all the starry train emblaze the sphere: So shone the point of great Achilles’ spear. In his right hand he waves the weapon round, Eyes the whole man, and meditates the wound; But the rich mail Patroclus lately wore Securely cased the warrior’s body o’er. One space at length he spies, to let in fate,
  8. 8. Homer, Iliad – part II Where ‘twixt the neck and throat the jointed plate Gave entrance: through that penetrable part Furious he drove the well-directed dart: Nor pierced the windpipe yet, nor took the power Of speech, unhappy! from thy dying hour. Prone on the field the bleeding warrior lies, While, thus triumphing, stern Achilles cries: “At last is Hector stretch’d upon the plain, Who fear’d no vengeance for Patroclus slain: Then, prince! you should have fear’d, what now you feel; Achilles absent was Achilles still: Yet a short space the great avenger stayed, Then low in dust thy strength and glory laid. Peaceful he sleeps, with all our rites adorn’d, For ever honour’d, and for ever mourn’d: While cast to all the rage of hostile power, Thee birds shall mangle, and the gods devour.” (translation by A. Pope)
  9. 9. Violence during the war In the Homer’s depiction, war in a confrontation of two heroes – Achilles and Hector. Although, Iliad presents their characters and deeds, the author didn’t avoid presenting that conflict as a source of cruelty and suffering. However Hector’s death is decorated with much heroism and pathos, its absurdity is strengthened by Achilles’s pride (his victory can also be treated as an unjust one because he attacked with only uncovered part of Hector’s body) and an enormous grief of his mourning family (that scene isn’t shown in the given fragment). The death of a hero remains incomprehensible.
  10. 10. E.A. Poe, The Black Cat (1843) One night, returning home, much intoxicated, from one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat avoided my presence. I seized him; when, in his fright at my violence, he inflicted a slight wound upon my hand with his teeth. The fury of a demon instantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from my body; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin-nurtured, thrilled every fibre of my frame. I took from my waistcoat-pocket a pen-knife, opened it, grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately cut one of its eyes from the socket! I blush, I burn, I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity […]. One day she accompanied me, upon some household errand, into the cellar of the old building which our poverty compelled us to inhabit. The cat followed me down the steep stairs, and, nearly throwing me headlong, exasperated me to madness. Uplifting an axe, and forgetting, in my wrath, the childish dread which had hitherto stayed my hand, I aimed a blow at the animal which, of course, would have proved instantly fatal had it descended as I wished. But this blow was arrested by the hand of my wife. Goaded, by the interference, into a rage more than demoniacal, I withdrew my arm from her grasp and buried the axe in her brain. She fell dead upon the spot, without a groan.
  11. 11. Violence coming from addictions The E.A. Poe’s short story is based on one major assumption: human imperfection is the reason for aggression, not the moral decay. Man’s alcoholism leads him to lose the control and to turn into a cruel monster. Therefore, it’s absolutely necessary to keep our minds clear, so that we are able to be the master of our will. Only self- consciousness and self-reflection at every single moment gives us capability not to behave like the story’s main character. Everyone is able to kill and murder, if they don’t mind the restraints.
  12. 12. H. Sienkiewicz, Janko the Musician (1879) Stach nooded his stupid, animal-like head, took Janko under his arm as if he was a small kitty and took him out to the small barn. Child either did not understand what’s going on or got scared, anyway, he didn’t speak any word, was just watching, as if a bird was watching. Does he knew, what they would do to him? Just after Stach lied him down on the barn’s ground, pulled his shirt up, wielded with a twig, and then Janko shouted: ‘Mummy!’ and every time Stach wielded, he shouted, ‘Mummy! Mummy!’ but quiter and with weaker voice, and finally the child got silent and didn’t shout for his mummy anymore. Poor, shattered fiddle! Ah, you stupid, bad Stach! This way is beating children? Oh, he was small and weak and always barely living. The mother came, took the boy but she had to took him home… On the second day Janek didn’t woke up, and in the third evening he was already dying calmly on the bed by a coarse kilim carpet. (trans. MK)
  13. 13. Violence towards children Sienkiewicz’s novella was one of those that were putting the ideals of social development into the Polish society of late XIXth century when persecuting children physically was commonly accepted. The author has broken these conventionalities and showed how cruel we are by treating children that way. We punish children beating them or even maltreat them because we want them to behave according to the rules prevailing among adults that children simply aren’t able to understand as they need to be brought up first. A child is not a smaller version of an adult, it belongs to „a completely different reality”. If we violate it, we will damage the whole society.
  14. 14. J.-K. Huysmans, À rebours (1884) This turtle was the result of a whim that had suddenly occurred to Des Esseintes a short while before his leaving Paris. Looking one day at an Oriental carpet with iridescent gleams of colour and following with his eyes the silvery glints that ran across the web of the wool, the colours of which were an opaque yellow and a plum violet, he had told himself: it would be a fine experiment to set on this carpet something that would move about and the deep tint of which would bring out and accentuate these tones. Possessed by this idea, he had strolled at random through the streets; had arrived at the Palais-Royal, and in front of Chevet’s window had suddenly struck his forehead, — a huge turtle met his eyes there, in a tank. He had bought the creature; then, once it was left to itself on the carpet, he had sat down before it and gazed long at it, screwing up his eyes. Alas! there was no doubt, the negro-head hue, the raw sienna tone of the shell dimmed the sheen of the carpet instead of bringing out the tints; the dominant gleams of silver now barely showed, clashing with the cold tones of scraped zinc alongside this hard, dull carapace.
  15. 15. J.-K. Huysmans, À rebours – part II He gnawed his nails, searching in vain for a way to reconcile these discordances, to prevent this absolute incompatibility of tones. At last he discovered that his original notion of lighting up the fires of the stuff by the to- and-fro movements of a dark object set on it was mistaken; the fact of the matter was, the carpet was still too bright, too crude, too new-looking. Its colours were not sufficiently softened and toned down; the thing was to reverse the proposed expedient, to deaden the tints, to stifle them by the contrast of a brilliant object that should kill everything round it, casting the flash of gold over the pale sheen of silver. Thus looked at, the problem was easier to solve. Accordingly he resolved to have his turtle’s back glazed over with gold. […] He sprang up to break the horrid nightmare of his thoughts, and coming back to everyday matters, began to feel anxious about the turtle. It still lay quite still; he touched it, it was dead. Accustomed no doubt to a sedentary life, an uneventful existence spent under its humble carapace, it had not been able to support the dazzling splendour imposed on it, the glittering garment in which it had been clad, the pavement of precious stones wherewith they had inlaid its poor back like a jewelled pyx. (anonymous translation)
  16. 16. Violence towards animals Huysmans’s À rebours (Against Nature) is said to be the bible of the decadent movement in the late XIXth century. The main character of the novel, diuc Des Esseintes, loses himself in depravity and fulfils all of his own wishes, even the most eccentric ones. The fragment given before shows us the truth about the dark aspect of man – animal relationship. We often think that pets and wild animals are only a decoration. We possess them not in order to give them home, warmth and protection but to pamper ourselves. They’re treated like toys we can easily play with or take apart. We behave violently towards the world of other living beings because of the lack of our consciousness and sensitivity.
  17. 17. Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain (1924) Some thirty-year- old man, a merchant formerly, having a fever for ages, who had been travelling from one nursing home to another, became a member of Berghof’s society since some time. He was an adversary of Jews, an anti-Semite because of fundamental reasons and for fun, with a joyful obduracy- that adamant negation was the pride and essence of his life. He used to be a merchant formerly, he stopped to work in this way, in fact, he wasn’t anything but remained an anti- Semite. He was ill very seriously, was suffering from hard cough, sometimes he seemed sometimes to sneeze with his lungs sharply, shortly, one time and incredibly. However, he wasn’t a Jew and that was his only positive feature. His name was Wiedemann, it was a Christian name, it wasn’t impure. He subscribed to Aryan candle magazine and used to give speeches like the following: ‘I come to sanatorium X in A... city. I just want to find a place in the room with deckchairs - I see - who lies on the deckchair on the left? Mr. Hirsch! And who on the right? Mr. Wolf! Of course, I’ve left immediately,’ and so on. [...] Inner circumstances we are sketching out intensified the abnormal attitude of this man extremely; and because also here he was to meet people having the defect he, Wiedemann, was free of, a hideous scene took place under the influence of those circumstances Hans Castorp was an eye witness to and served to us as a further example of moods talked over.
  18. 18. Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain – part II Among the guests, there was a man who doesn’t have to be unmasked, his case was clear. His name was Sonnenschein and because man can’t have any other so repulsive name, therefore the person of Sonnenschein became that object hanging down from Wiedemann’s nose he was squinting at and hitting, not to push it away but to make it swaying and get annoyed more and more. […] That was a horrendous and pathetic sight. They were fighting like small boys but with passion of adults who are decided to go all lengths. They were ploughing their faces with each other’s nails, grabbing each other’s noses and throats, beating each other with their fists, rolling on the ground with fearful and biggest seriousness in tight clasp, spitting each other on, treading and kicking, tussling and whacking one another with froth out of their mouths. Finally, the workers of sanatorium’s office came running and separated infuriated and bitter enemies with difficulty. Hair of Wiedemann who was streaming with blood and saliva, with disorientation on his face, stood on end. Hans Castorp hasn’t seen that phenomenon yet and hasn’t believed in its abilities. Wiedemann’s hair bristled on his head and was standing so, straight and stiff, when he ran out of the room, while Sonnenschein, with swollen eyelid and bloody gap in the wreath of black curly hair surrounding his skull, was seen to the office where he dropped on a chair, weeping bitterly, with face buried in his hands. (trans. MK)
  19. 19. Violence reasoned by prejudice The scene from The Magic Mountain could be seen as a prophecy. It’s a very clear presentation of what can happen if stereotypes and prejudice, which almost always give birth to hostility and hatred, take the floor. That scene is clearly associated with Holocaust. Consequently, tolerance and, what’s more, pluralism and candour are the ways of escaping the vicious circle of aggression and vengeance. Only if we accept others as they are (of course, excluding the acceptance of obvious evil) and are willing to have a dialogue with them, we can create a better society, and fulfil a post-war promise expressed in the words ‘Never again.’
  20. 20. J. Dehnel, Die Schöpfung (2007) […] passing irritably from one room to another, recalling a sentence read once in some dissertation in the field of forensic pathology – the sentence about the test cuts a desperado makes on the skin of wrists while being not bent on the final, deep strokes with a razor, knife, sliver of glass and at the same time trying not to leave those humililating signs of weakness - but no, ineffectively, and then strolling with barely bleeding wrists and leaving red drops on the table’s top, on the sofa’s upholstery, on the floors not waxed from a long time, while pondering over a proper formulation, and then searching the medicine cupboard – and those red drops everywhere – and pouring water into a glass – but, no – a cup, must go to the cupboard and take one of those low, broad ones – God, what a mess to be tidied – and then, while pouring a cognac for special occassions because isn’t it a special occassion – and then, choking and snorting, spitting out the pills on the carpet and gathering then and one more time, that time with water and then waiting and waiting – it has just clotted and crumbles like rust – and then approaching the window but falling down in half of the way, grabbing the courtains’ hem, knocking it off on the floor with a rail, Michael son of Paul, son of Karl, son of Ludwig, son of Moses took his life, as he faced the archangel. (trans. MK)
  21. 21. Auto-violence: suicide Suicide is commonly understood as escaping a situation that overwhelms an individual and with which they cannot cope adequately. It’s not solving the problem, it’s more like hushing it up. A problem of a character from the short story has two aspects. The first one is that he hides his Jewishness (the story takes place in Vienna, 1942). The second one is his unfulfilled (from obvious reasons) love to one of the soloists of Vienna State Opera. Suicide itself seems to be the most horrifying example of violence. It’s not caused by bad character’s features or lack of self-control. The reason for it is being aware of the tragical conditions we’ve been placed in. It’s like being too conscious about one’s weakness .
  22. 22. Bibliography: Texts: Books: • Dehnel J., Rynek w Smyrnie, Warszawa 2007 • Mann T., Czarodziejska góra, vol. II, Warszawa 1965 • Sienkiewicz H., Nowele wybrane, Warszawa 1969 Websites: • http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/h/homer/h8ip/book22.html • http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Bible_(King_James)/Genesis • http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Saturday_Evening_Post/The_Black_Cat • http://homepage.mac.com/brendanking/huysmans.org/against/agiii.htm Pictures: • http://fc04.deviantart.net/fs19/f/2007/300/5/d/E_A__Poe__s___The_Black_Cat___by _Pika_la_Cynique.jpg • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c4/Edouard_Manet_059.jpg • http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/5/55/Des_Esseintes_at_study_Zaidenberg_ill ustration.JPG • http://www.klub.senior.pl/sztuka-kulturoznawstwo/t-biblia-w-malarstwie-page2- 5637.html • http://www.utopek.eu/index.php?p=1_21 • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1ThHowP9Ew&feature=related
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