Family = Love? Maybe Not

Many characters in King Lear do not seek true love but only selfish and false representation of love. True love is unconditional and honest while selfish love is motivated by money, lust, or merely approval from others.

At the start of the play, Lear stages a love test. Lear tests each of his daughters on how much they love him. Opportunistic Goneril and Regan flatter him and he accepts this because he sees verbal love as true love. Lear rewards Goneril and Regan’s love for him by giving them land and wealth. This only enforces the idea that material things are not apart of true love.

The youngest sister, Cordelia, is not as eager to confess her love to her father.

What shall Cordelia speak? Love and be silent.

(Act I, Scene 1)

Cordelia makes it clear that she loves him, but she can’t put it into words. She knows that words can’t truly express true feelings. True love does not require mere words as a dedication to devotion. Unfortunately Lear does not understand that so he disowns her when she refuses to flatter him.

Soon after, Cordelia is to get passed off. She is expected to marry Burgundy or France. But now that she is disowned with no dowry or title, her status has decreased. Soon, Cordelia gets rejected by Burgundy because he only seeks authority and power from a possible relationship with her. But France steps forward and takes her hand because he understands the true meaning of love, which enforces Cordelia’s representation of true love.

Then arrives the second plot of the play – Gloucester and his two sons, Edgar and Edmund.

Gloucester makes fun of Edmund’s illegitimacy and refers to him as “whoreson” (Act I. Scene 1). Edmund is desperate to feel loved so he selfishly plots his father’s and Edgar’s demise to feel above from his title as a bastard child.

Edmund lies to Gloucester and puts Edgar against Gloucester. Gloucester is quick to accept these claims without any proof. Gloucester rejects Edgar the same way Lear disowns Cordelia. Gloucester then tries to execute Edgar while Lear banishes Cordelia.

While Lear and Gloucester reject their respective child that represents true love, they fall for the characters that represent anti-love. Goneril, Regan, and Edmund represent false love. They are only motivated by money, lust, or self-serving love.

Edgar and Cordelia are the epitome of true love. They are forced to suffer banishment, rejection, and Edgar has to disguise himself to remain loyal. Cordelia rushes to help Lear when she learns of his new state and Edgar kills Oswald to defend Gloucester. They consistently prove their love for their respective fathers despite when their respective fathers’s have casted them out.

At least in the beginning, Lear and Gloucester are similar to Goneril, Edgar, and Regan because they all represent false love. They all have flawed perceptions of love. Lear and Gloucester see true love as approval from others while the three antagonist are motivated by money, lust, and their self-serving nature.

But Lear and Gloucester are forced to confront their mistakes. They spend most of the play suffering and facing the consequences of their actions. Soon they learn that verbal love does not equate to true love. But that true love is more than skin deep.

2 Have “Moment 4 Life”

In 2010, the music industry came to a halt when Nicki Minaj’s album, Pink Friday, came out. The album featured 13 different songs, but most noticeably it had, “Moment 4 Life“, with Drake as a feature. In this single, Minaj reflects on her rise to fame and the work it took to become respected in the music industry after coming from such a drastically different background. She explains in the song that she comes from a rough neighborhood in New York, and has struggled to become so successful and is proud of how far she has come. She writes that she wishes she could stay in this “moment”, as in the peak of her success, and she wishes to enjoy this for the rest of her life.

Nicki Minaj’s writing prowess shows in “Moment 4 Life” through her use of allusion, metaphors, and imagery to convey her rise to fame and success. In the first verse of the song, she has written:

In this very moment, I slayed Goliath with a sling

Nicki uses the figurative language of allusion when she references Goliath. Minaj cites Goliath, who derives from the Bible. In the Bible, Goliath is a Philistine giant and was a formidable foe. But Goliath is slain by a sling wield by David. In this line, Nicki compares herself to David because they both defeat their enemies. But unlike David, her “Goliath” was finding success in the music industry. She claims that she has slayed her own Goliath, and is now free to enjoy her fame and achievements.

Clap for the heavyweight champ, me

Next, Nicki uses a metaphor to compare herself as a heavyweight champion even though she is a rapper. In boxing, heavyweight is the heaviest weight class. This class does not include an upper limit but only minimum weight. Nicki compares herself to a heavyweight boxer because like these boxers, Nicki has no limits. Similar to a boxer, she is the reigning queen of her own game. Nicki is at the level of famous heavyweight boxers like Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali but in her own field. This line proves to listeners that she has become apart of the greatest rappers of all time and has achieved her success similar to the likes of the best heavyweight boxers.

Drifting away, I’m
One with the sunsets
I have become alive

Nicki Minaj cleverly uses imagery to describe her accomplished dreams. In movies, when the hero rides off in the sunset, it is depicted as a happy ending. She explains that she has reached her own sunset. This is Nicki’s happy ending because she has completed her goal of becoming the best rapper. She has achieved her “moment” and hopefully will continue to be able to drift that wave for the rest of her life.

A Migrant’s Journey

The protagonists of Exit West, allow readers to discover the journey that migrants have to face. Nadia and Saeed make the decision to leave their city to seek safety when a war breaks out. The novel states, “. . . for when we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.” (98). Nadia and Saeed realize that they can never return to their home and their family once they leave.

Their first stop after leaving their home is Mykonos, Greece. Nadia and Saeed expect to find safety there because there is no war taking place in Mykonos. They both state, “. . . they decided that Mykonos was indeed a beautiful place, and they could understand why people might come here. Sometimes they saw rough-looking groups of men and Saeed and Nadia were careful to keep their distance. . .” (113). Although they have left their old war-stricken home, they realize that Mykonos doesn’t provide them the safety that they require. While they have left their home for protection, they still have yet to discover safety.

Then Nadia and Saeed leave for London and find a nice home. Although they rest comfortably in their new city, they discover that violence follows them. Nadia and Saeed claim, “. . . but many of the migrants in dark London had taken to carrying knives and other weapons, being as they were in a stage of siege, and liable to be attacked by government forces at any time. . .” (150). The characters once again discover violence increasing between migrants and natives. Their search to find safety starts again, as they leave for a new home.

After moving to 2 different cities for shelter, they only find sanctuary when they reach Marin, San Francisco. The novel writes, “But there was nonetheless a spirit of a least intermittent optimism that refused entirely to die in Marin, perhaps because Marin was less violent than most of the places its residents had fled. . .” (194). Nadia and Saeed have finally completed their migration journey after visiting 2 different countries. They have finally found a decent home in Marin despite its flaws. Marin, San Francisco provides them safety even though its not wealthy. Nadia and Saeed have finally escaped the violence after a long journey.

Migrants struggle to make the decision to leave their home and family all for the sake of safety and a brighter future. Many people do not acknowledge the long journey of migration and that it is not a journey of point A to B. Migrants like Nadia and Saeed have to move from one country to another just to find a decent home. The journey for migrants is long and exhausting and Exit Novel highlights the struggle migrants goes through.

Superficial Relationships

In Strangers, the protagonist Meursault meets with several other characters in the story but his relationships lack any emotional connection. Meursault relationship with his mother, her friendship with Raymond, and romance with Marie are passionless and surface level.

At the start of the story, Meursault discovers his mother has died. It states, “Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know. I got a telegram from the home: “Mother deceased. Funeral tomorrow. Faithfully yours.” That doesn’t mean anything. Maybe it was yesterday.” (3). Meursault isn’t focused on her death but more obsessed with which day she has died. Meursault’s lack of reaction presents the absence of a emotional connection to his mother.

Throughout the story, Meursault’s non-existent emotional connection with others is juxtaposed with other passionate bonds between characters. During the virgil, his mother’s friends in the home grieved for her. Meursault’s superficial relationships is compared with the tender relationship between his mother and Thomas Perez from the home.

Although residents from the home weren’t usually allowed to go to the funerals it is written, “But in this case he’d given one of mother’s old friends–Thomas Perez–permission to join the funeral procession.” (13). While Meursault reacts to his mother’s death passively, Thomas Perez was so close to her that he was allowed to be at the funeral.

Then it describes their relationship, “He told me that my mother and Monsieur Perez often used to walk down to the village together in the evening, accompanied by a nurse.” (15). Thomas and Meursault’s mother’s relationship is passionate and emotional. They have an emotional connection that Meursault doesn’t have in any of his relationships.

The Man’s Desire for Money

During the summer, I had the pleasure of reading Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. The story follows two sisters named Constance and Mary-Katherine Blackwood. They live with their paralyzed Uncle Julian in their late father’s house. They live in their own little world ignoring reality and their money-hungry town. The rest of their family is dead.

Constance and Merricat (Mary-Katherine) keep their father’s money in a safe that sits in his study. While their late father had managed the money, Merricat states, “I was not allowed to open the safe where Constance kept our father’s money. I was allowed to go into the study, but I disliked it and never even touched the doorknob” (83). In contrary to their father, the sisters disregard the importance of money completely.

It is until their cousin Charles arrives, the sisters are introduced to greed and capitalism.

When Charles finds Constance and Merricat’s father’s gold watch chain in a tree, he is shocked that a valuable item could be mishandled and forgotten about:

“In a tree,” he said, and his voice was shaking too. “I found it nailed to a tree, for God’s sake. What kind of a house is this?

“Its not important,” Constance said. “Really, Charles, it’s not important.”

“Not important? Connie, this thing’s made of gold.”

“But no one wants it.” (77)

While Constance and Merricat ignore money, their male relatives take an obsession to wealth. Throughout Charles’s stay, he is insistent on finding the safe and the girls’ money. Their safe takes the place of the capitalist patriarchy of America. Charles and the rest of the world are addicted to money, so when safe remains in a house where no one cares about money, its a success for the sisters over a world that embodies masculinity and capitalism.

If the Blackwoods’ masculinity relies on their wealth, and Constance and Merricat reject the desire for money, they have destroyed the Blackwood men and their oppression.

The Map of Morality

George Saunders’ “Escape from Spiderhead” explores science, emotions, experiments, crime, freedom etc. The characters are divided into the scientists and the test subjects.

The scientists are in charge of the experiments and they test the emotions that the patients feel after each session. The role of the scientists resides in the characters Abnesti and Verlaine. Their goal is to prove that the medication called ED289/290 can bring love and then take it away. The scientists would use torture to prove their medication was fool-proof.

While it is undeniable that the actions of Abnesti and Verlaine are morally wrong, does it make them bad people?

Abnesti is willing to sacrifice a life to prove that his medication is real. But throughout the story he shows acts of care towards his patients. During a conversation with Jeff, Abnesti reminds, “Do I remember birthdays around here? When a certain individual got athlete’s foot on his groin on a Sunday, did a certain other individual drive over to Recall and pick up the cream, paying for it with his own personal money?” (pg. 68). While Abnesti toys with Jeff’s emotion he also supports him in different acts. He remembers Jeff’s birthday and provides him medicine. Saunder’s story writes a man who is devoted to a ethically evil job but some of Abnesti’s actions prove that morals do not completely coincide to good or evil.