Humanity and Nature in Literature
16 September 2014
The Instincts of Man
An Analysis of “The Blue Hotel”
Man has always thought of himself as a civilized and societal creature, that upholds wisdom, rationality, and virtuosity, and nothing like beastly nature. He has continuously thought of himself as not giving in to beastly “sins” and as advertising control over nature, and/or himself. In Steven Crane’s 1898 short story “The Blue Hotel”, man’s instinctual beastly behaviors trump his attempt to be civilized and show that man is not the ring master of the circus of life. The characters in “The Blue Hotel” are representatives of instinctual behaviors, that can also be compare to the seven deadly sins of Christianity. The Swede is constantly quivering because of the ruthless men, so his sin is fear. Scully cares so much about his reputation as a hotel mogul so, his sin is pride, because he refuses to allow his reputation to be squandered. Johnny is a constant liar and cheater when he plays poker, therefore his sin is fraud. The cowboy is aggressive but does not understand his part in the story, therefore he is ignorance, because of his cries saying “kill him, kill him”, meaning the Swede. The Easterner knows the key to the story but refuses to tell the other characters, because of his reserved quality and his knowledge his sin is cowardice. In the end The Gambler stabs the Swede, therefore he is violence. Whether these are called the seven deadly sins or instincts they represent man’s real motives and behaviors, which man tries to suppress in attempt to become civilized. All the men and their characteristics are thrown together in this “society” called The Blue Hotel. The characteristics of the men symbolize man’s instincts, as a whole, and being in The Blue Hotel is similar to a container such as a city, or society. The Hotel protects the men from the blizzard as well, which is a symbol for the cold wrath of man’s...
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