While review the various recommended texts for this unit this semester, I realized that many of them portray characters altering their consciousness in one way or another through alcohol or drugs. These works demonstrate shifting cultural recommendations about the dangers and possibilities of changing one’s perceptions, or losing control of one’s faculties. The purpose of this paper is to explore bout concerning the scenes illustrating the above view, discussing the kinds of things these works gain to say about the cultures that produced them. The texts selected in this case are Thomas Hardy’s “The Mayor of Casterbridge” besides Edith Wharton’s “House of Mirth”.
In order to achieve this purpose, I have organized the paper into three prime sections. The first section will explore some of the scenes from the texts, while the second section will discuss the kinds of things these works have to say about the cultures that produced them. The tertiary section is the determinative and it wraps up what I have said in the entire paper. But before this, it is grave to hold a brief introduction of the two texts as follows.
“The Mayor of Casterbridge”: This is a novel written by British author, Thomas Daring in 1886.Subtitled ‘The Life and Death of a Man of Character,’ the novel is a tragic story about a poor hay-trusser-turned a prominent grain business magnate and mayor of an agricultural town known similar Casterbridge.Unfortunately, he ends up in a tragic way owing to creature haunted by the evil deeds he had done as a young man, mainly that of auctioning his wife and daughter.
“House of Mirth”: This is a 1905 novel written by American Edith Wharton. The novel is a story concerning a young woman, Lily Bart, who is torn between the desire for a relationship based on upright love and a desire for a voluptuous life.Unfortunately,she squanders all the good chances that move her way for a marriage that could guarantee a luxurious life.Eventually,she becomes a social pariah, and dies young.
SCENES PORTRAYING CHARACTERS ALTERING THEIR CONSCIOUSNESS
In “The Mayor about Casterbridge”, Thomas Hardy presents a scene in chapter one where, Michael Henchard is journeying in the English country with his wife, Susan and their rich daughter, Elizabeth-Jane.Understandably; they are in learn of hay-trussing job as that is his trade. Tired and hungry for walking throughout the day, they come at a Fair-field and stop over for supper. Looking at the endless array of erotic refreshment tents almost the town,Henchard settles at one with an erotic placard reading: “Good Home-Brewed Beer,Ale,and Cyder”(Hardy 3).However, they won’t take supper there as his missus objects arguing that they enter at the another tent that sells furmity,a drink she and their filial like since “it is nourishing below a long hard day”(Hardy 3).As they are partaking their supper,Henchard tells the furmity woman to spike his bowl including rum-a form of liquor. He likewise convinces his wife to have even her serving spiked, something she obliges on condition that it’s only spiked mildly. We are told that Michael, quasi his wife calls him, continues asking for more bowls regarding liquor-laced furmity which makes him high. Not even the wife’s fervent pleas to him to stop further consumption on account of the fact that they might have disorder getting lodging tames the poor man who is now dangerously getting wild.
The author paints a picture of a modern drunken man howling all over the place creating a spectacle in the tent. To show how drunken he is, he talks loudly in re his past life choices and the miserly it has brought on him. “I did for myself that way thoroughly” (4)… “I married at eighteen, like the fool that I was; and this is the consequence o’t” (4).We are told that as he says this, he is pointing at himself et cetera his household much to the chagrin of the scandalized revelers who rightly distinctive his problems to be a malaise typical of men who marry young. What follows is scandalous as Michael Henchard in his drunken state starts saying he would like to auction his wife polysyndeton filial to some willing buyer. His wife is unmoved as she reveals he always jokes like that whereas drunk.However, this era it seems he is serious as he insists he wants nothing less than cinquefoil guineas. It ceases being a joke when a sailor comes along and hands him five guineas and he in return takes away the woman besides the baby which shocks everyone in the tent. Succeeding he has taken the money, he passes out right there at the table. When he comes round and realizes the folly of his action as his wife and baby are gone for real, he dashes to a church where he makes a solemn vow at the altar that he will never touch alcohol again for the penultimate twenty years, a promise he lives by. Even though his fortunes later change for the best, the guilt arising from his alcohol-inspired decision moment makes his later life hellish and full of torment.
The other scenes where alcohol inspires Henchard is in chapter 33 where while drinking at King of Prussia Inn after the expiry of his self-imposed alcohol abstinence period of twenty years, he bullies the choir to sing for him a psalm about revenge to Farfare and Lucetta.In this scene, he talks a lot of gibberish, besmirching the kindly Farfare.
Similarly, it is alcohol that drives Joshua Jopp, a man who wanted to be Henchard’s employee want to exact revenge on both Henchard and his former girlfried, Lucetta, whom he views as a snob, by acting maliciously and carelessly while he is given by Henchard the old letters Lucetta had written to Henchard to take to her. He stops at a pub where he proceeds to take alcohol before maneuver for the errand he hand been sent for which is to save the parcel to Lucetta.On account of his drunkenness at the pub, he ends up opening the parcel and reading out the letters with the rustic patrons who exit ahead to do a ‘skimmy-ride’ targeting Lucetta et al Farfare in town now that they are conscious about her hidden past. This pillory-like activity hatched by alcohol inspired minds eventually leads to a fatal end as Lucetta, being pregnant, succumbs to the mismanagement arising from the shock of being parodied (41).
Still, it is due to drunken that Henchard’s shameful past is brought to the attention of the townspeople where he has managed to retain an nimbus of a dignified man for a long time. This happens in the scene where Henchard as the Reparation of Peace is called by police to unfold a bugbear of a woman found drunken and swearing next to church and it turns out that the woman in question is the same furmity seller at Weydon Inn where Henchard sold his wife and daughter. The drunken state of the frau leads to her revealing the skeletons in Henchard’s closets.
Turning to the second text, “House of Mirth”, Wharton presents a scene where Lily Barton results to taking chloral, a type of narcotic that aids her to sleep. Further, we are told that taking chloral had become her habit as a form of escape from reality as it lulled her tired nerves. The fact that there is a hint of the opium developing resistance suggests that she has been on these drugs for long despite the fact that the chemist had warned her against raising the dose (309).The particular episode that portrays the fact that characters alter their consciousness in one detour or another past alcohol oppositely drugs is seen where while leaving Selden’s house alone evening, Calla Bart goes to quiet at a park (308).Its evening plus everyone is hurrying to go home, but not with her. She appears a lonely figure lost in her own thoughts that she does not even notice the curious stares of the lone passers-by. She stays like this, lost in her comatose since she knows there is nihil to look forward for at her silent and cheerless house. She is startled from her reverie by a stranger-a young woman called Nettie Crane whom she annotinous assisted to go for treatment when she (Lily) once donated to Gerty’s charitable work. Noting that Lily is sick, she asks her that they go to her home where she at least warms up in the kitchen. We are later told that once she retreats to her home feeling untroubled low and tired elapsed lack of sleep, she acts out rather unconsciously when she starts to sort forth hier possessions for no particular reason. It is only the altered consciousness that can drive a creature to recoil looking at every possession they have in course with extra keenness and even wearing one’s old dresses one by one as on condition that in a ritual; and where each of the articles of clothing brings in a flood concerning mixed feelings- nostalgia, and horror-filled sentimentalism to an individual as is the case with Panther Bart (315). When a check of the money bequeathed to her by the late Mrs.Peniston’s estate finally arrives, she irrationally writes checks to hyaline hier debts to people like Trenor leaving her pennilessness and teetering at the edge of a fiscal cliff or descending into what her onetime mother would call ‘dinginess’ or penury.