Naivety vs. Cynicism
Cynicism, along with naivety, is one of the most prevalent human characteristics, as shown in Guy de Maupassant’s Was It a Dream? which questions the goodness of deceased loved ones by revealing their sin and deceptiveness through a contrast of the two themes.. The narrator, the protagonist of the story, is naïve as he sees his lover as perfect. He stares at a mirror in which his “perfect” lover so often saw herself in, yet did not see the flaws which a mirror should obviously point out to provide a clear view on oneself. This naivety is blinding him from the truth of the cynical theme; he cannot see any flaw in her in his memory or understanding of her. However, this changes dramatically as the graveyard scene reveals the true nature of everyone buried there. As the narrator gets lost, all sins of the deceased are revealed, all seemingly good people are actually, “tormentors of their neighbours—malicious, dishonest, hypocrites, liars, rogues” (page 153), not only this, but his lover is shown to be unfaithful to him, which was a cause of her death. This provides a direct contrast to his naivety with a cynical question: if all these people, including the “perfect” lover we sinners, could every human on this planet be a sinner too? Finally, to provide a Christopher Nolan-like ending, this incepts an idea of cynicism into the narrators head and the reader’s. The story leaves you with an ending of uncertainty, leaving questions like, “was it real?” “what was the meaning?” and, “is everyone a sinner?” The most important question is the last as it is the them in discussion; it strips away naivety and replaces it with cynicism, but also answering the two previous questions: if it is real, everyone is a sinner, and if is not, it is saying symbolically that everyone is a sinner.
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