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Both great works of epic literature from historical India and Japan certainly provide fascinating insights into the study of the idealization of women and wives. We can see how the different social conventions of each time and place have a defined impact on women’s roles within the institution of marriage. In reflecting on the societal expectations of a wife as represented in classical world literature we can gain new insights into women’s roles within marriage in a contemporary world. Future generations will look to our contemporary literature as a depiction of our society’s expectations and values of women not only as wives, but as single and independent women, as well.
Edna’s character transforms from sleeping through life by meeting expectations to a great awakening, in which her thoughts and actions are consistent with each other. Edna’s struggle between her inner desires and her outward conformity is one in which her best solution was to satisfy no roles and expectations, including her own. Her character is so memorable because the reader can empathize with Edna’s internal conflict to both conform and defy. She is unforgettable because she does what each of us has wanted to do; her character resonates with the universal human condition of defying and abandoning societal expectations and impositions.
The culmination of Stephen Dedalus’ linguistic and artistic development in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in indicated at the end of the novel when his story is no longer dependent on a narrator, but is told by Stephen himself through his journal. The journal entries are projected forth in the unfiltered language of the artist. He completes his linguistic journey, coming full circle from a child who merely perceives others’ language to the artist, who creates his own. The language implicit (cont.)
in Stephen’s journal represents the realization of his identity; his language displays the confidence and independence of one who is autonomous. At the end of the novel, Stephen’s physical, intellectual, and emotional transformations have been chronicled through the intricacies of language.
Throughout Morrison’s Beloved memory has a power distinguished from other motifs in the novel. Memory is so pervasive that it functions as a separate character within the plot. It interacts with, and has a unique relationship with, each character; it brings up painful past experiences, and preys upon those resonances. Indeed, memory functions as an additional antagonist, dredging up the past, teasing and torturing without remorse the characters who attempt to forget. Ultimately, however, memory is defeated with Morrison’s dictate: “this is not a story to pass on.”
The values of leadership portrayed by Tamburlaine’s character are still honored in society today. We desire a leader who is passionate and eloquent, but who is a leader of action, as well. We also value a leader who is proud and confident in his or her abilities and experience. Today’s leader’s would do well to consult Marlowe’s example of leadership in Tamburlaine.