Literature: Compare and Contrast
Kathy J. Shannon
University of Phoenix
Mickeal M. Donald, Instructor
September 3, 2010
Compare and Contrast
Literature offers a variety of literary works by authors of all ages, writing non-fiction and fictional stories, poetry, and essays. The act of analyzing two different authors by both comparing their work and isolating their contrasting elements, can be difficult, yet rewarding. Oedipus Rex (Sophocles'), written in 429 B.C., offers the author's use of Greek Mythology, oracles, Greek gods, deception, and murder. Throughout the series of events, the reader is given clues to the true identity of the murderer resulting in a traumatic climax. Sophocles' writes with certainty yet leaves the reader in virtual suspense anticipating the next event adding to the mystery. Is this done with deliberation? Can the reader actually conclude who the murderer is before the end of the story? Written in a way to confuse yet clarify the identity there is reason to believe this is purposeful and may be considered too revealing. The action is fast-paced, hurried, as though providing more background and detail is too consuming. I would offer that more detail, background, and history could enhance the effects on the reader in a positive way. The second literary work used to compare and contrast the writings is The Yellow Wallpaper (Gilman), set in the late 19th century, offering suspense and intrigue. The lady of the house has just given birth and her husband, the physician, sweeps her off to the countryside to recover from her unusual mental and physical state. The gradual twists by the writer begin to provide evidence of her mental state caused, in part, by the controlling nature of her husband. Her continued obsession with the yellow wallpaper that, in her mind seems to move, leads to a sudden end.
Gilman presents a type of fiction that, unlike Oedipus Rex, the reader can relate to due primarily to the period of time she writes about. Narrated by the a woman who appears mentally tormented and emotionally restrained, immediately draining the reader. The anonymity of the woman meets with curiosity, reflecting her deception. The writer is resolute throughout the story for the woman's identity to remain elusive. Is there a specific reason for the mystery? The story seems to reveal the entries in a personal diary. Is this why she does not want to disclose her identity? There is an underlying fear her husband will be angry with her for writing her fantasies down on paper. Does this actually intensify her emotional and mental instability? Independently summarizing the two stories is warranted before analyzing their comparable and contrasting aspects.
Set in Ancient Greece, Oedipus Rex is King of Thebes where the people suffer from a curse that is killing their unborn children, their cattle, and their people. The streets are lifeless, and the Chorus begs for its king to liberate them from this evil. The king has sent Creon, his wife's brother, to the Lord Apollo to learn how to save their city. Apollo has revealed to Creon the city can only recover by seeking out, and removing, the murderer of King Laios. Oedipus summons the people to gather. "Oedipus is notable for his compassion, his sense of justice, his swiftness of thought and action, and his candor" (Sparknote on The Oedipus Plays, 2002). Oedipus conveys the message of Apollo and proclaims to all of Thebes, if any man knows who is responsible, reveal what they know and leave here safely...if anyone knows of, or harbors one, and disobeys this edict, "I pray that that man's life be consumed in evil and wretchedness. And as for me, this curse applies no less if it should turn out that the culprit is my guest here sharing my hearth. You have heard the penalty" (Abcarian, Oedipus Rex (Sophocles), 2009,P.167,para. 30). He forbids the people to speak of this person or to stay...
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