Reality and Illusion

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Reality versus Illusion


Life of Pi

King Lear

Heavenly Creatures
Blade Runner
Pans Labyrinth

Research Questions:
1. How does each character’s situation influence their perception or ideas of reality versus illusion? 2. What are the similarities and differences between the main character’s situation in each text? 3. What insights relating to reality and illusion can be gained from each text?


Title: Life of Pi
Author: Yann Martel

Question 1:
Pi survives his ordeal through the power of his own story telling. He uses it as a way of dealing with the horrific situation he has found himself in. By creating animal characters to replace the humans in the lifeboat he creates a coping mechanism powerful enough to survive. It also allows him to distance himself from the violent side of his own personality. Pi doesn’t see his story telling as lying, just another interpretation of the truth. Turning his situation into a story is a fairly typical for a child, yet Pi is obviously quite mature in his dealing of it. Question 2:

Story telling as a method of escape is a common theme in Pans Labyrinth and Heavenly Creatures as well Life of Pi. These other texts also have fairly young children or teenagers as their protagonists. Question 3:

That story telling can be an effective means of escape and though one version of events may be factually true, other interpretations may have an emotional quality that cannot be compared. That advance into illusion does not necessarily lead to a lack of understanding or recognition of reality, just a break from the harshness of it.

Title: King Lear
Author: William Shakespeare

Question 1:
King Lear’s personal rashness and initial inability to effectively judge peoples’ character leads to his eventual decent into madness. He is flattered easily by his elder daughters Goneril and Regan but banishes Cordelia who is the only one who truly loves her father. Often in this play it is the good characters that are forced to disguise themselves in order to protect the ones they love. Likewise, often the evil characters appear to be honourable on the surface, however in reality they are planning terrible crimes. Question 2:

King Lear is similar to Blade Runner in terms of the characters themselves not being what they seem. Many of the good characters are forced to endure hardships due to others’ opinions of them. Unlike the other texts, the main character is an elderly man who learns through his own demise about the true nature of humanity, both in terms of love and evil. Question 3:

King Lear teaches us not to always take people at face value and to try and understand the reasons someone may have for their actions.

Title: Heavenly Creatures
Director: Peter Jackson

Question 1:
Pauline and Juliet’s friendship quickly spirals to passionate interdependence, tracking their hyperactive pursuit of pleasure with manic and often menacing vigor. They soon begin seeing themselves as intellectually superior to everyone around them, creating an Arthurian fantasyland which is home to two lovers and their remorseless, mass-murdering son. The boundaries of their fantasies begin intruding on real life and the girls become more and more distanced from their families. Question 2:

Distance separating parents from their children, either physically or emotionally, is a common theme in many of these texts. If there is a lack of understanding from either parent or child often this leads to isolation and feelings of resentment or guilt. In Life of Pi it is the death of Pi’s family which leads to his creation of his alternate story, in King Lear, Lear isolates Cordelia and in Pans Labyrinth Ofelia’s mother is very unwell and her step father makes it no secret that he doesn’t want her around. Question 3:

Creating illusion itself is not dangerous; however if the illusion becomes so intense that the difference between reality and fantasy becomes blurred then combined...
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