Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Can the Human Spirit Be Imprisoned free essay sample

World Literature #1: Comparative Essay Can the human spirit be imprisoned? A Doll’s House and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich NAME: Shelley Lima IB CANDIDATE NUMBER: 000091-032 TEACHER  : Kate Goldberg DISCIPLINE OF ESSAY: English WORD COUNT: 1 492 Both Ivan, the protagonist from the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich written by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Nora, the character from the play A Doll’s House written by Ibsen, are two characters whose lives are imprisoned, either physically or mentally. The character Ivan is physically imprisoned in a gulag camp in Russia where he has to find escape routes from his imprisoned life to find pleasure in his everyday life. The character of Nora is figuratively imprisoned in her marriage and she has to find aspects of her life that let her escape and find her own self somewhere in her caged situation. In the novel by Solzhenitsyn, Ivan uses many physical escape routes, such as food, tobacco, work, and human relationships to take a step away from his imprisoned life. In the play by Ibsen, Nora’s primary escape route to her imprisoned life is her secret work life where she can earn money on her own for her family and for herself. Both of these imprisoned lives, in two different pieces of world literature, pose the questioncan the human spirit be imprisoned? Alexander Solzhenitsyns One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is a short novel centering on one prisoners experiences during a single day in a Soviet labor camp. The four walls of the camp physically imprison Ivan and the only way his mind can be free from this confinement is if he finds mental escape routes in his everyday life. Food, tobacco, work, and his relationships with his friends inside the camp are the principle mental escape routes that are prominent in this novel. When Ivan is put in a situation where living is a burden, he needs to find little pleasures in his life that help him overcome his imprisonment. Food plays a main role in Ivan’s life because the sensory value of individual foods let his spirit be free. A spirit is the non-physical part of the human body, which Ivan tries to keep free in his confined life. Although Ivan’s physical being is confined within the four walls of the camp, his mental state, or his spirit, escapes when he enjoys certain aspects of life. The descriptive sense of taste is vividly described in the passage on page 19: â€Å"Pavlo handed him his bread ration from the table. There was a little white heap of sugar on top of it. [†¦] He scooped up the sugar with his lips, licked the bread clean with his tongue, and put one leg on the ledge to climb up and make his bed. He looked at the ration, turning it, weighing it in his hand as he moved, to see if it was the full point due to him. †[1] The small sensation of flavor when he eats the tasty food gives the reader a sense that his spirit is free throughout those minor moments. Ivan makes the best of the minute ration he has. All living beings have senses, yet one does not always appreciate these senses when the spirit is free. When the spirit or physical being is imprisoned, the body embellishes on the senses and takes into consideration all the senses throughout life. Although Ivan is the protagonist in this novel, you can tell that food is a main part of the other prisoners’ lives too. This theme of food is like a ritual for the prisoners. These moments of eating are also a time when Ivan’s only concern is himself. When the author uses description and senses, the ritual is clearer to the reader. The pleasure of food is ostracized when one is a prisoner of everything else. Tobacco and the process of smoking also free Ivan’s spirit and becomes one of his escape routes from his confined life. According to Ivan, smoking tobacco is a relief because in that moment all he thinks about is the smoke traveling in and out of his lungs and he does not have to worry about anything else. On page 23, it says, â€Å"he’d rather have this butt than his freedom. †[2] This implies that at that moment smoking a cigarette is more important than life and freedom itself. Just like the vivid sensation of food, on page 24 Ivan smokes the tobacco until it filled his body. It says, â€Å"He took it with one hand, quickly and thankfully, and put his other hand underneath to guard against dropping it. He wasn’t hurt because Caesar was squeamish about letting him smoke it in the holder (some people have clean mouth, other have foul mouths), and it didn’t hurt his hardened fingers when the butt burned right down to them. The great thing was that he’d beaten that scavenger Fetyokov to it, and here he was now smoking away till it burned his lips. Mmmm†¦. The smoke seemed to go all through his hungry body and into his feet and his head. Just as this wonderful feeling spread all through him, Ivan Denisovich heard a roar from the men. [3] Smoking let Ivan escape from his other problems in life while freeing his human spirit. Working gives man a purpose in the world. Work is a pleasure and an aspect of the everyday life that Ivan uses to escape from his confined physical being. â€Å"Not being at work – that was the real punishment†[4]. Unlike the escape routes of food and tobacco, when Ivan speaks about work, there is no physical sensation that he under goes; yet he seems more pleasant and joyful when working. â€Å"Shukhov looked up to the sky and gasped. It was clear, and by the sun it was almost noon. It was a funny thing how time flew when you were working! He was always struck by how fast the days went in camp—you didn’t have time to turn around†[5] The reader notices his excitement for working with the enthusiastic tone of his voice. Working took his mind off his confined situation. The sensation of joy that Ivan feels while working gives freedom to his spirit while his body is physically in prison. Ivan’s relationships in the camp give him a sense of human attributes while being imprisoned like an animal. The first time you get the sense that the prisoners in the camp are being treated like animals is when Pavlo asked Ivan â€Å"Didn’t they put you in the cooler, Ivan Denisovich? Are you still alive? †[6] Although in camp they are treated like animals by the guards and by the people who run the camp, among the prisoners â€Å"they were polite to people and addressed them by their full name†[7]. This gives Ivan a sense that he is a human being and that all the prisoners as well as himself deserve to be addressed like humans. Although Ivan is physically stuck in a camp, his relationships and manners keep his spirit alive. Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House evokes a sense of imprisonment through the character of Nora. Unlike Ivan in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s novel, Nora’s imprisonment is not physical, yet her marriage with Helmer is a figurative and symbolic imprisonment. In this play, Nora’s imprisoned life is not as evident as in the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, yet the reader gets a sense of her imprisonment through the other characters in the play. Another interesting aspect of Nora’s imprisonment is the fact that she is always shown inside her house, which makes her house seems more like a cage. The reader gets the sense of Nora’s imprisonment through the macaroon scene, the dance for her life, and the way Helmer addresses Nora. Although Nora is imprisoned in this marriage, she has her work as escape route for her spirit. Nora’s imprisoned life is presented through many aspects of her marriage. The way Helmer addresses Nora evokes a sense of confinement in her own home. He addresses her many times with â€Å"my squirrel†[8], â€Å"my own little lark†[9], and â€Å"my sweet tooth†[10]. Helmer addresses Nora as if she belonged to him, which evokes a symbolism of Nora being imprisoned under Helmer’s thumb. The first time the reader physically sees a sense of imprisonment is when Nora has to lie to Helmer about buying a little macaroon. She says in defense to Helmer that she could never go against him. This lie is an act of submission and it represents Nora’s imprisonment. Lastly, Nora’s confinement is also shown through her dance of her life. Helmer says on page 92, â€Å"but Nora darling, you dance as if your life was at stake. †[11] This statement indicates Nora’s imprisonment because the dance is also an escape, yet Helmer interrupts her while she is dancing. Helmer is interrupting her escape route, which in this circumstance is her dance. Similar to Solzhenitsyn’s novel, Nora’s escape route is working at her secret job. Nora represents the imprisoned woman, a human being with no voice and no real power. However, Nora does not just go through her everyday life without questioning her existence; she earns her own money when her family needs it. When working, Nora feels in control and feels as though she can accomplish something on her own, her imprisoned spirit is lifted and free. Nora says, â€Å"But still it was wonderful fun, sitting and working like that, earning money. It was almost like being a man†[12]. The man is a symbol of power, adulthood, and money. Nora envies the freedom of a man, and so when she has the opportunity to be â€Å"like a man† her imprisoned spirit is free. Although people think that the money for Nora and Helmer’s trip to Italy came from another source, it was actually Nora who secretly worked for the money. Nora gets the thriving sensations of being a man and enjoys the privileges and power enjoyed by males in her society. She seems to understand the confinement she faces simply by virtue of her womenly attributes. Nora eventually realizes that she is a prisoner in her own home, and abandons her comfortable marriage and home in order to learn about herself. Without this escape route of her work, she would have not noticed her imprisoned life and would not have been able to abandon her marriage. In conclusion, the human spirit cannot be imprisoned if one has escape routes from an imprisoned life. Both the novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and the play A Doll’s House have characters with an imprisoned life, physically and symbolically, whose spirits have been freed by small pleasures throughout their daily lives. Bibliography: Solzhenit? s? yn, Aleksander. One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich. [1st ed. New York: Dutton Co. Inc. , 1963. Print. Ibsen, Henrik. A Dolls House. Dover ed. New York: Dover Publications, 1992. Print. [1] Solzhenit? s? yn, Aleksander. One day in the life of Ivan Denisovich. [1st ed. New York: Dutton Co. Inc. , 1963. Print, p. 19 [2] ibid, p. 23 [3] ibid, p. 24 [4] ibid, p. 5 [5] ibid, p. 52 [6] ibid, p. 19 [7] ibid, p. 19 [8] Ibsen, Henrik. A dolls house. Dover ed. New York: Dover Publications, 1992. Print, p. 44 [9] ibid, p. 93 [10] ibid, p. 43 [11] ibid, p. 92 [12] ibid, p. 55

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