Self Identity Influenced by Love
After the study and discussion of a handful of the great literary works of the nineteenth century it is apparent that love is a powerful and recurring theme. Within many of these texts an idea of self identity influenced by love of another is presented through the characters and plot. Whether this concept is unintended or deliberately placed by the author, self discovery is an underlying message. In The Symposium, Plato presents various intellectual perspectives on the subject of love. The speech given by Aristophanes focuses on a search for wholeness culminating with the discovery of a soul mate. This idea is articulated by George Eliot in Silas Marner. Silas leads a lonely existence, cut off from the world, until Eppie is brought into his life. Whether it is the love for a beloved, family member or friend; love brings about the discovery of self-hood and personal identity. The comic poet, Aristophanes, discusses the idea that love is essential to becoming whole. This speech establishes a myth which suggests that lovers were once physically joined together. According to Aristophanes, human beings were originally spherical, with two heads that faced in opposite directions, four legs, four arms, and two sets of genitals. The god Zeus, in a rage, severed the union of lovers into two pieces. These halves of men immediately sought out their counterparts and clung to each other. In the soul of each man lies a longing for something that can never be articulated or explained. Aristophanes attempts to elucidate this with a discussion of soul mates and an individual's search for their missing half. Aristophanes explains that it is human nature to search for and desire a partner. He states, "The reason is that this is our original state and we used to be whole creatures: love' is the name for the desire and pursuit of wholeness." According to Aristophanes, Lovers were not created as separate identities but as a single entity. Like a...
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