The presence of shared themes in masterpieces of different authors is not an intended practice pushed by lack of originality but an inevitable coincidence usually fuelled by the many common things that people share or manifest in their day-to-day interactions.
Playwrights and filmmakers from all over the world focus much on issues, whether good or bad, which seem dominant in some people, gender, country or the world at large addressing them in their works with the sole purpose of promoting or prohibiting them. On many occasions, fanatics of literature have identified several similar themes highlighted by different dramatists though from different perspectives.
For instance, the issues of racism, AIDS, and social conflicts to quote a few appear everywhere and therefore, the playwrights from the corresponding places might seek to highlight the same issues coincidentally hence featuring shared themes in their works. However, regardless of the authors, the themes present crucial messages in the novels with the emphasis of the particular message brought to light when readers encounter the same lesson in another work.
Susan Glaspell and Flannery O’Connor provide the best illustration of the subject in their respective narratives ‘Trifles’ and ‘Everything that Rises Must Converge’. The two novels feature a shared theme of restoring of the lost ethics of the past like dignity and a discrimination-free society. In fact, O’Connor points out that people need to replace the new vices with the best virtues employed in the past.
As the paper unfolds, the theme plays a vital role across the two novels since the authors successfully point out the conflicts that arise because of people’s failure to recognize the dignity of others and finally depicts the afflicted people assertively participating in the process of demanding their due rights, which they recover at last.
Restoring the Lost Ethics
The restoration the lost ethics does not come automatically but rather calls for people’s involvement. O’Connor and Glaspell strategically allocate different roles to their different characters in their endeavor to present the theme of restoring the lost ethics as vivid as it stands. However, the process of recovery does not seem friendly.
It costs a good deal of sacrifice ranging from the sacrifice of money, relationship, time not sparing the sacrifice of self. Further, just as pride precedes a fall, a problem too must come before a solution and hence the reason behind the evident conflicts, ranging from social to racial. The title of O’Connor’s chef-d’oeuvre ‘Everything that Rises Must Converge’ might seem contracting provided the readers fail to understand the underlying implication.
It speaks in favor of the theme. The account presents episodes of racial conflicts between two women of differing skin colors: black and white. The only mentioned woman, Mrs. Chestny has a grown up boy Julian. Chestny imagines of the lost racial balance between the blacks and the whites. Based on how the author presents her, the reader might interpret her as both racist and non-racist.
Firstly, the narrator presents her as strictly against racism that has significantly risen among people and one who works towards ensuring that people view each other as of one race hence the convergence of the risen racism, as pointed out by the author. In the process of developing the theme, O’Connor points out that people in need of such a convergence must participate towards realizing it.
Chestny, an epitome of such people, cannot recognize the difference between her and the black child whom she offers a penny, as she always does with other children regardless of their race. The theme, as expressed within the context of this woman in the narrative is important because it emphasizes on the need to curb practices like racism that foster conflicts rather than peace, love and harmony. Such an exposition stands out in Glaspell’s novel.
Just as O’Connor addresses the need of the contemporary divided society to live together as it was in the old times, Glaspell too drives home the point of men and women living together with each viewing the other as equally important. The author addresses the conflicts that arose when men began to view their women as ‘trifles’ or rather insignificant. The only difference between the two novels is the change of parameters from black and white, as in O’Connor’s work, to male and female in Glaspell’s narrative.
In the latter novel, the author seeks to recover the lost dignity and relationship between the male and the female. Mr. Wright and Mrs. Wright provide the best illustration of the claim. Firstly, the reader needs to realize that the name Wright is a crafted name implying that men are always right and women therefore need to adhere to their men’s opinions and not the reverse since they (women) are insignificant.
However, Mrs. Wright does not manifest her feeling of dissatisfaction based on her lowered dignity though the final episodes indicate clearly that she is. While Mr. Wright heads the whole family, he allocates the kitchen only as the place for his wife, a share whose insignificance shows how much Wright values his wife. Back to the theme under study, Glaspell seeks to see this practice substituted with the right one.
However, as O’Connor points out through Mrs. Chestny, it calls for one’s participation to realize the change he/she wants, the reason as to why Mrs. Wright dares to murder her husband to pave way for men who will treat women as equal to them. Upon taking Mrs. Wright in custody of the murder of her husband, the Attorney declares the case as unimportant and one involving ‘kitchen things’ since Mrs. Wright is a woman and hence unimportant.
The reader, through the theme of recovering the lost ethics, as highlighted across the novels realizes that there is a cost, which people have to pay prior to the realization of their past dreams. The evident wrestling between Julian’s mother and the black woman in O’Connor’s novel shows how people must suffer oppositions from others who are not for the realization of the dream.
For instance, the black woman, the mother to Carver seems opposed to the views of Julian’s mother, the white woman. The reader, from the second perspective interprets her as one who promotes racial prejudices rather than helping curb them. When Julian’s mother mentions words like ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’, she passes for a racist especially when she offers the penny to Carver in her endeavor to uphold the blacks.
As a result, the white woman has to take the risk of fighting her as a way of teaching a lesson to the rest who might probably possess such racial biasness. It does not matter to her whether she will win or lose in the fight but sets her eyes fixed on seeing the risen racism converge and the recovery of the lost racism-free world. Julian too never intervenes despite the fact that the black woman attacks his mother.
He has to sacrifice her in the process of establishing a racism-free generation. In addressing the cost that the women have t o pay in order to recover their lost recognition from their men, Glaspell finalizes her play by depicting the women and in particular Mrs. Wright, ‘knotting it’ implying how she has murdered her husband. They do it courageously disregarding the possible repercussions they can encounter from their men as a result.
They have decided to take the risk provided they will have their dignity restored. It too does not matter whether the process will cost them money, relationships or marriages. According to them, the end justifies the means, the reason as to why Mrs. Wright has to let go of her husband.
Through the theme, the two playwrights seek to promote the awareness that women play some vital roles concerning the realization of some vital dreams. The two novels position the women characters in the front line in the fight against racial and gender discrimination. In O’Connor’s masterwork, the reader assumes that the bus that Julian and his mother use has other men as well apart from Julian, though the author does not clarify.
However, when the black woman with a child enters, only to encounter Julian’s mother, the racist, the author presents a fight between the two women without featuring any man’s intervention. As she reveals, the fight marks the end of the white woman’s life, which symbolizes the end of racism.
Therefore, since the realization of a racism-free world is possible through women’s intervention, then women have the capability of arresting most of the vices that interfere with the smooth running of the society. Further, Glaspell successfully addresses the same issue. The author presents a society that allocates no value to women. According to the men, the women can do nothing other than the petty kitchen chores.
However, upon the death of Mr. Wright, the men waste much time searching for the evidence concerning the death as well as the solution of the case. In fact, the entire play after the death concentrates on the search for the solution of the case, which the men never find. On the other hand, when the Mrs. Peters together with Mrs. Hale handle the same case, they within no time table the necessary evidence thereby solving the issue.
Therefore, through the theme, men ought not to despise their women. They ought not to view them as unimportant and unable based on the virtue of their womanhood. As the authors reveal, women end up coming up with the solutions of the most difficult challenges. They further occupy the frontline in bringing back the lost vital virtues of the past like respect, gender and racial equality among others.
Therefore, as per the expositions, the issue of featuring shared themes in different literary works plays a vital role in emphasizing some intended messages. O’Connor and Glaspell present the common theme of restoring the lost ethics in their respective plays ‘Everything that Rises Must Converge’ and ‘Trifles’.
Through the theme, the readers realize that they have to contribute towards the restoration process, which is accompanied by a corresponding cost they need to pay in return. As the theme unfolds, it will cost one’s time, money, marriage and even self. Moreover, the authors together promote the awareness of the crucial roles that women play in the process of recovering some lost vital morals like dignity, gender and social equality.