My Big Question:

I've come to find that who I am and who I'm expected to be are complete opposites. As I grow and develop my own personal philosophies, I seem to find myself rejecting most of what is viewed as "common". I don't agree with reputable theories not because of conspiracy but because I am different. I continually find myself battling to keep my personal outlooks, and as I face my future, I fear that I may have to compromise them in order to prosper. So, my question remains...

At what point does one compromise his/her beliefs in order to conform to society?



East of Eden:

The character of Lee in East of Eden conforms to American society from the Chinese culture as he continues life in Salinas Valley. In the beginning, Lee speaks in broken English not because he can't speak fluently, but because he feels it necessary to keep guarded from others. In the end, however, Lee leaves his accent behind and boldly faces American culture. Unlike most people, though, who choose to change completely, Lee combines American and Chinese ideologies into his own mold of representation. Lee analyzes his internal views against both societies until it's personalized. East of Eden's Lee represents the true meaning of an intellectual.

Oedipus Rex:

Oedipus Rex is a tale of unconcious fate and undefiable consequences. It depicts self-righteousness and justice through a gruesome story of a man named Oedipus--whose's life prophecy ends up being detimental not only to himself but to his whole country. Oedipus Rex combats his fate throughout the play, but inevitably succumbs to it. Like Oedipus, people in society are coerced into conforming. As much as Oedipus refuted killing his father and marrying his mother it was "out of his hands". This unvoluntary conformation is dependent upon time, just like fate. Oedipus' battle concludes in tragedy and despair. At the moment of realization that he had become exactly what he fought so hard not to be, Oedipus gouges out his eyes. He donates his vision in hopes to retain his once confident morality. Oedipus is a warning to us all that conformity is inevitable; however, he stands an icon-- attesting never to cease the fight
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King Lear:

King Lear depicts a character battling his inner autonomy. Throughout Shakespeare's play, Lear's inner demons overwhelm him, coercing him into rash and impulsive behavior. Lear finds himself neglecting those loyal to him like the Fool, Kent and his daughter Cordelia and depends upon falsified actions of his other two daugthers, Regan and Goneril. Lear's constant inconsistancy disables him to be apart of society. He is outcasted and finds himself homeless. While alone, Lear begins to understand his mistakes. He feels remorse for dismembering his daughter, Cordelia, and yearns for her acceptance. However, the fear of rejection continues to mount in Lear, yet again, disabling him to regain attachment in his society. Lear dies in the end of Act Five lost and alone. Segregated from himself and those around him Lear dies unconformed and unaccepted. Lear's character represents the importance of communication and interaction with others. Without it, we die alone.

Rivers and Tides:

Goldsworthy's River and Tides opposes all sense of conformity in publicized society. Instead, he concentrates his dedication to nature's society. Goldsworthy believes that our purpose, our inspiration should not consist of tangible, concrete objects, but of nature. He inspires his artwork through the flow of the river, the trees, and the sky. This pattern of "waves" becomes prominent throughout Goldworthy's work. In order for him to become acquainted with the place he's at, he spends time just wandering. Goldsworthy searches for inspiration not of what he wants to create, but what the environment wants him to. He conforms willingly to nature, taking in account all of what it encompasses. To him, nature isn't always "pastoral", it's also dark and disillusioning. Conformity takes a whole new image because of Goldsworthy. Maybe conforming isn't a weakness, but an understanding. Maybe, we have to conform in order to connect with the world around us.


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:

Throughout Jame's Joyce's novel, the main character Stephen struggles with not only acceptance of himself, but of the world around him. Stephen questions his inability to be apart of his environment. He continually finds himself shifting between what is expected and who he really is. Joyce's Portrait captivates the mythological story of Dedalus, a man internally corrupted and saddened by the death of his son. Dedalus flies between the sun and the sea; he invents a balance. Stephen's last name is Dedalus. This comaprison expands into Stephens abiguity. Throughout the novel, Stepehen searches for the middle ground--his balance. By incorporating his own personal ideologies along with his exterior, Stephen molds his own reality. Because of this, Stephen is defined as an artist. An artist doesn't conform, but challenges.

The Metamorphosis:

Gregor, in Kafka's allegory, wakes up as a bug. Before his metamorphosis, Gregor was encaged by his job. He was the head of the house--the bread winner. When Gregor's physical features derail his steady dedication to work, Gregor and his family find themselves in a realm of insecurity and panic. Kafka's main critique of society is that we allow ourselves to be shackled to our careers. We define ourselves as doctors, lawyers, psychologists, teachers, etc. Gregor's transformation strips him of acceptance within society. He no longer is a salesman, he is a bug. Throughout the book, Gregor battles not only his physical, but mental development into vermin. Kafka argues that although Gregor was a bug, he didn't have to act like one, or acknowledge himself as one. But, Gregor's inability to define himself for other outlets than his shelled back, inevitably leads him to death. Gregor dies lost, without an identity. He dies alone, exiled from society. Gregor is a failed attempt at challenging the system. Not everyone has what it takes to challenge conformity.


Beloved:

Toni Morrison's novel describes a family completely deserted from their community. With a haunted house and disturbing story, the family fights through the past in order to continue with their lives. Toni Morrison's main character, Sethe, runs across the edge of society. With experiences unable to understand Sethe breaks the reins of slavery only to be dulled into a world of loneliness and confusion. Without help from the outside world she is doomed to destruction, until, Paul D opens Sethe's wounds in order to heal them. Paul D brings reality into Sethe's life. He represents the outside world, the good that society can bring.