AT LEAST TWO MORE (PROSE & OPEN) ESSAYS
· Prose Essay
A master of the written craft, Cormac McCarthy employs a plethora of literary techniques, rhetorical strategies within his vast catalog of works. In his novel The Crossing, McCarthy’s particular utilization of grave similes as well as pastoral, solemn imagery plays to the dramatic impact of the given traumatic event upon the title’s primary character, indirect characterization so to ultimately revealing his sorrow.
“His trousers were stiff with blood. He cradled the wolf in his arms and lowered her to the ground…” McCarthy opens in the passage of above with the introduction of the unnamed protagonist traveling with a notably bleeding, injured wolf. The specific diction of “cradled” is a device that instantly and indirectly characterizes the protagonist’s nurturing nature towards the wolf, his actions characterizing the protagonist’s peculiar tenderness for the wolf as if cradling gently a napping babe. Further on the following quote furthers McCarthy’s aims of conveying the protagonist’s intimate sense of despair, loss, ultimate sorrow towards the dying wolf. “He fell asleep with his hands palm up before him like some dozing penitent” With this marked simile “like some dozing penitent” McCarthy likens the character to a “penitent” or an individual shamed and sorrowful for committing a wrongdoing, subsequently the author sheds light upon the internal sorrow, the impact of the wolf’s petering hours of perish upon our character in question. “He squatted over the wolf and touched her fur. He touched the cold and perfect teeth. The eye turned to the fire and gave back no light and he closed it with his thumb and sat by her and put his hand upon her bloodied forehead and closed his own eyes that he could see her running in the mountains, running in the starlight where the grass was wet and the sun’s coming as yet had not undone the rich matrix of creatures passed in the night before her.” This passage excerpt conclusively reveals the impact of the wolf’s death upon McCarthy’s primary character. McCarthy employs yet again indirect characterization to deliver the impact of the event with the first half of this excerpt when “He [the protagonist] squatted over the wolf and touched her fur. He touched the cold and perfect teeth. The eye turned to the fire and gave back no light and he closed it with his thumb and sat by her and put his hand upon her bloodied forehead and closed his own eyes” the protagonist laments the death of the wolf sorrowfully combing thru her fur, “touched the cold and perfect teeth” closing her eyes and his own to paint a pastoral, romanticized reflection, imagery of the wolf alive where “he could see her running in the mountains, running in the starlight where the grass was wet and the sun’s coming as yet had not undone the rich matrix of creatures passed in the night before her.” This pastoral imagery on part of McCarthy further connoting his deep seated loss, sorrow.
Indeed, Cormac McCarthy is an undeniable master of the written craft he utilizing a menagerie of literary techniques, rhetorical strategies in his works such as The Crossing to further plot as well as the development of his characters. Making use of grave similes likening the unnamed protagonist as a “penitent”, the protagonist is unequivocally perturbed, impacted if not personally shamed, sorrowed by the loss of the wolf. Gently “cradling” the wolf like that of a human babe, McCarthy indirectly characterizes the character thru his tenderness and peculiarly intimate actions as he brushes the wolfs fur, as he closes her lightless eyes and his own to romantically recreate, imagine the wolf alive and running in vivid pastoral imagery. Unquestioningly a master, Cormac McCarthy in all of his works develops not only his plot but so to his characters, The Crossing in particular depicting the impact of a character’s character, his loss, revealing his sorrow all via the use of literary techniques, rhetorical strategies.
· Open Essay
"Nobody, but he who has felt it, can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have a man's mind torn asunder by two projects of equal strengths, both obstinately pulling in a contrary direction at the same time." – Laurence Sterne
Conflicting ideals, wants, ambitions, indeed these are the seeds of action, driving force of myriads of characters throughout literature. In William Shakespeare’s legendary gothic tale Macbeth, the eponymous title character, Macbeth, experiences an internal struggle as two competing desires, Lady Macbeth’s power lust and his own guilty conscious, not only characterize the character but so to the ultimate meaning of the work as a whole.
“Fair is foul and foul is fair.” The three witches of the deity Hectate serve as both the prophesiers and proponents propelling Macbeth towards his ultimate destiny: to kill his king and become king. Yet, throughout the play Macbeth struggles internally and externally with his own ideals as his wife, Lady Macbeth has her own desires, racks against his own hesitation essentially forcing Macbeth’s hand. When Lady Macbeth hears word of Macbeth’s potential usurp of more power, potential crowning as the new king, she wastes no time, has no hesitation in what she must do. She goads and manipulates Macbeth against his own desires and guilt so that she may achieve her own agenda: more power. She forces him to kill the King, Duncan, even whilst Macbeth himself questions why, has differing competing desires. Why would he kill a kind and magnanimous ruler? Why would he kill his King when he has already praised and promoted Macbeth to even higher royal rank, social stature? Why would he kill his own King, intermediary of his God? Indeed Shakespeare prompts Macbeth’s struggle between his own desires and Lady Macbeth’s lust for power. In the eponymous play Macbeth eventually gives in to his hesitation, his own lack of desires for that of Lady Macbeth’s and ultimately killed himself by the play’s climax subsequently Macbeth is a symbol of ambition. Macbeth’s corruption of his morality, his desires for that of Lady Macbeth’s, killing a king a high sin of treason and god fearing faith in an Elizabethan age, fulfills the works ultimate theme, purpose: a cautionary tale warning against excessive, selfish, ambitions.
“A little water clears us of this deed.” Lady Macbeth’s desires of power ironically lead to her own as well as Macbeth’s demise. Although Macbeth had his own desires, or at least saw little need to kill his king he eventually, after an internal struggle, gave in to Lady Macbeth’s agenda, lust for power. These two competing desires deliberately employed by Shakespeare to fulfill the ultimate theme of Macbeth: a testament, a cautionary tale warning against excessive, selfish ambitions.