Aran characteristics of humanity. In the novels,
Aran HeerMr. Petrov ENG 4U02018-01-15 The Understanding of Humanity Through Characters in King Lear and A Farewell toArms Humanity can be defined as the quality ofbeing human, by which humans are distinguished from other creatures for theircompassionate, sympathetic, or generous behavior. Although this istrue, being human does not necessarily mean that an individual possesses thecharacteristics of humanity.
In the novels, King Lear and A Farewell to Arms, characters and symbols are used in order to generatean understanding of humanity, proving that some humans possess the samecharacteristics as the rest of humanity, yet some do not. Examples of this are revealedin both novels through the use of betrayal, sympathy, and lies told by lovedones. In King Lear, Lear is betrayed by his daughters, Goneril and Regan,who deceive Lear in order to have the one thing they have always wanted; hiskingdom. Goneril and Regan desperately crave the power their father possessesto the point where they decide to banish him from his own Kingdom, leaving himto fend for himself in a harsh storm.
At this point in the novel, Shakespearedemonstrates that Goneril and Regan have lost their sense of human nature, byusing symbols and dialogues through characters. Goneril and Regan’s association with animals reflectson their ferocious animal nature, their absence of human nature, and theirunnatural unkindness. Lear’s tone of voice when speaking abouthis “pelican daughters” (3.4.73-81) reflectstheir control over him.
He is joined by Albany, who recognizes the cruelty ofthe two daughters as inhumane, calling them “tigers, not daughters” (4.2.30–32).This animal imagery advocates that Goneril and Regan have the characteristicsand behavior of what an animal would, rather than a human. Through theseexamples, it is evident that not all humans possess human nature, as Lear’sdaughters go to the extreme length of betraying their father to receive thethrone. In A Farewell to Arms, ErnestHemingway offers a different perspective on Humanity.
Mr. Henry, the mainprotagonist is betrayed by his wife of five years when she commits adulterybehind his back. To add to the already bad news, Henry discovers that his wife,Catherine was not having an affair with just anyone, but it was with Mr.
Henry’s brother, Philip. Henry is emotionally shattered by the news and remainssilent to his wife, to the point where she leaves him. Although Catherine hadbetrayed him once, she later left him without an apology, committing theultimate betrayal to Mr. Henry. Here, Ernest Hemmingway displays Catherine’slack of human nature, as her actions reveal her true colours, which are againstsociety’s norms. Sympathyis a major theme in King Lear, reinforcing the hope in humanity late on duringthe novel. Throughout the play, it is shown that impressions of each characterchange, particularly in the development of sympathy for Lear.
Lear’s flaw atthe beginning of the play is that he values appearances above reality. He wantsto be treated as a king and to enjoy the title, but he doesn’t want to fulfilla king’s obligations of governing for the good of his people. He is a selfishman who demands praise, but as the play develops, we see change in Lear’s character,making others feel sympathy for him. Lear goes from being a powerful King witheverything he could wish for to a deranged old man that just desires love fromhis daughters. When Cordelia realizes this during the final act of King Lear,she says “O, my dear father, restoration hang, Thy medicine on my lips, and letthis kiss, Repair those violent harms that my two sisters, Have in thyreverence made.
” As she bends over to revive Lear with a kiss, Cordelia revealsthat she has a kind and forgiving personality, even after her father unfairlybanished her. The sympathy shown for Cordelia’s dying father reinforces thehope in humanity for people in the kingdom, by singling out the differencebetween what is ethical and what is deemed as unethical. After a whole play ofwrong doing and inhumane actions, Cordelia does what is right, mending the brokenrelationship with her father. A similar predicament is demonstrated in A Farewell to Arms, When Henry is consoled by Catherine’s friend, Jenn.
After the news of Catherine’saffair spreads, Jenn is the first person to visit Henry despite her closerelationship with Catherine. At Henry’s house, she converses with Henry, sayinghow Catherine was “out of her mind” to do such a thing to him (P.114). AlthoughJenn has been Catherine’s closest friend for years, she does what the averagehuman would do, which reflects on the topic of human nature. One could say thatJenn is just doing the right thing, and her sympathy contradicts thenon-existent human nature of Catherine.
Throughout both novels, we seethe destruction of relationships due to lies told by loved ones, which leads tothe questioning of humanity. Deception and lies are what makes King Lear a tragedy. The play is aresult of the consequences triggered by lies and falsehoods that were told inLear’s family. The first instances ofdeception occur in the first scene of the first act. Lear intends to divide hiskingdom amongst his three daughters and will give the greatest portion to thedaughter who has the most love for him. Cordelia is the only daughter whospeaks plainly and honestly.
Goneril and Regan deceive everyone with theirspeech about how much they love their father and how they would do anything forhim, yet in truth, it is discovered that they only exaggerate in order to obtainLear’s kingdom and banish him. These lies told by Goneril and Regan werefrowned upon by everyone in the kingdom as they deceived their own father,which is out of society’s norms. It is not in society’s typical behaviour tocommit such an act, and sets the tone for the novel being a story aboutbetrayal, lies, and deceit; three things that are against human nature. In A Farewell to Arms, Catherine continues to lie to her husband’s face about her affair,although he secretly knows about it. When her husband, Mr. Henry discoversthis, he becomes quiet and talks much less than he usually does. Henry’s silence confusesCatherine, leading to her uttering the words “Is it something I did?” Thatparticular line in the novel shows that Catherine continues her life leading alie, not knowing that Henry knows the truth.
Ernest Hemmingway uses this toshow the lies that go on in everyday relationships and situations, furtherenforcing the theme that not all humans possess the characteristics ofhumanity. In Conclusion, althoughhumanity can bedefined as the quality of being human, not every human possesses those certaincharacteristics. The qualities of humanity include features such as compassion,sympathy, and generosity. This is shown in the novels, King Lear and A Farewell to Arms through themessuch as betrayal, sympathy, and lies told by loved ones, which are used inorder to generate an understanding of humanity.
These topics and themesdiscussed through various symbols and characters prove that some humans possessthe same characteristics as the rest of humanity, yet some do not.