What Makes a Good Friend?

The character traits that make up a good friend are honesty and loyalty. They should not be afraid to speak up and tell you when you have a bad idea, are being rude, or have food in your teeth. Shakespeare’s King Lear demonstrates the importance of a loyal and honest friend through Kent’s actions. In the beginning of Act 1, Kent tells King Lear to “see better” and realize how foolish he is being by disowning Cordelia (I.i.180). Even though Kent steps out of line and goes against what King Lear wishes, he acts with King Lear’s best intentions in mind.

Kent remains loyal to King Lear even after he is banished. He returns in disguise to continue to care for and protect King Lear from himself and others. “Now, banished Kent, / If thou canst serve where thou dost stand / condemned, / So may it come thy master, whom thou lov’st, / Shall find thee full of labors” (I.iv.4-8). In these lines, Kent displays his loyalty to King Lear as he risks his life to continue serving the King. He did not give up when King Lear banished him, he returned to continue supporting King Lear and to make King Lear realize his mistakes.

Although loyalty is one of the qualities that makes up a good friend, it needs to be paired with honesty. Because, without honesty, loyalty can easily turn into blindly following and serving someone. Goneril’s servant, Oswald, demonstrates this lacking quality as he blindly follows Goneril’s instructions. Kent points out Oswald’s lack of honesty as he says, “Knowing naught, like dogs, but following” (II.ii.84). Kent accuses Oswald of being a bad servant because he does not stand up to Goneril’s evil actions and tell her that she is making mistakes, unlike Kent who tells King Lear when he has made mistakes. Not even half way through the play, Shakespeare has delivered a message about the importance of honesty and loyalty in friends.

The Golden Experience

Although the former One Direction member, Harry Styles, has dipped his toes into the worlds of acting and modeling, he will always be a singer, songwriter, and poet. Harry Styles released his second solo album, Fine Line, in 2019. His opening track, “Golden“, takes the listener on a ride to experience the highs and fears of a new relationship. Styles begins the song with,

Golden, golden, golden as I open my eyes
Hold it, focus, hoping, take me back to the light
I know you were way too bright for me
I'm hopeless, broken, so you wait for me in the sky

The “you” in this song is someone whom Styles loves and wants to be with. There is a metaphor, where Styles compares this person to the sun. He mentions that they are “in the sky” and he is trying to “focus” on them, like someone looking at the “too bright” sun. This metaphor suggests that they are beautiful, precious, magical, good, hard to reach, etc. He wants to be brought “back to the light”, otherwise known as his special someone. He feels like the person is too good and “too bright” for his “hopeless” and “broken” self. With the metaphor and continuous use of descriptive words such as golden, bright, and light, he creates the conflicting experience of wanting to be with someone. This use of multidimensional language is one criterion that makes poetry, poetry, according to Perrine. Harry Styles continues with the chorus,

You're so golden
I'm out of my head, and I know that you're scared
Because hearts get broken

The title, “Golden”, hints at the song’s metaphor comparing this person to gold or the sun and the repetition of the line, “You’re so golden”. The fear of getting your heart broken is a huge part of relationships. The chorus gives the listener the experience of this fear, but it also shows the other amazing part of a relationship: being totally infatuated with someone. In the second verse, Styles gives the experience of how a relationship and love can affect someone.

I can feel you take control (I can feel you take control)
Of who I am, and all I've ever known
Lovin' you's the antidote

This verse communicates the wonderful experience of how someone has control over their loved ones. The speaker has lost control of themselves and will do anything for their loved one. The line, “Lovin’ you’s the antidote” ties back to the line in the first verse, “I’m helpless, broken…” Loving this person is making the speaker better. Styles implies that relationships can be “the antidote” to loneliness and can improve people’s lives.

This well written and performed song is poetry because it conveys the experience of being in love and starting a new relationship.

The Relationship

In the novel, Exit West, author Mohsin Hamid focuses on the development and change of a relationship between Nadia and Saeed. In the beginning, when they first meet, Nadia and Saeed experience the typical honeymoon phase of their romantic relationship and one expects them to have a great long lasting relationship. But, their relationship is put to the test once they step through a black door.

Right after they completed their first big move and migrated to Mykonos, they experienced their first hiccup. Nadia attempted to kiss Saeed and he “turned his face away angrily” (107). This is just one of many incidents that start to tear Saeed and Nadia farther apart.

They again traveled through a door and found themselves in London. This move increased the tension between them:

… they slept on the slender single bed together without speaking, without touching, or without touching more than the cramped space demanded, for this one night not unlike a couple that was long and unhappily married, a couple that made out of opportunities for joy, misery.

(127)

Yet again, the hardships of migrating can bee seen as it affects Saeed and Nadia’s relationship. They slowly grow apart in this unfamiliar country as Nadia spent time with the Nigerians and Saeed spent time in another house with others from his country (151). Moving to a new area and being surrounded by different people brought out their differences. It showcased Saeed’s desire to reconnect with his culture and find others like him while Nadia’s desire is to leave behind their past and start anew.

However, there is hope in the salvation of their relationship as Mohsin Hamid ends chapter 9 with, yet, another migration, “… both of them were filled with hope, hope that they would be able to rekindle their relationship …” (189). Will Nadia and Saeed be able to salvage their relationship or will they grow apart?

Dogs Are Man’s Best Friend

The Stranger, a novel by Albert Camus, focuses on a strange relationship between Salamano, an old man, and his dog, who suffers from mange. People say that dogs often look like their owners, this is one of those cases. In the story, Camus explains, “They look as if they belong to the same species, and yet they hate each other” (27). This comes as a bit of a shock because you would expect them to have a great bond, especially if they look similar. But as you later learn, Salamano beats and swears at his dog (27).

However, this relationship of terror, from the dog, and hatred, from Salamano, is flipped upside down in the following chapters. Later, the dog is lost and the reader learns that Salamano got the dog to cure his loneliness after his wife died. He would rub his dog with ointment every day twice a day and said, “He was a good dog” (45). This gives the reader more insight into their relationship and spins the perspective from an abusive and negative relationship to a loving and caring one.

Whether Salamano connects his dog to his late wife or as a life long companion, we do not know. But, Salamano does care greatly for his dog and is heavily concerned when it is missing. Although, Salamano shows his affection in a non-healthy way, abuse.

Sylvia Vs. Miss Moore

In “The Lesson” by Toni Cade Bambara, Sylvia and Miss Moore have an odd relationship. Miss Moore seems to fully recognize Sylvia and the kids as individuals but Sylvia does not. In the story, Miss Moore calls the kids by their first names rather than their nicknames (111 & 114). Calling someone by their own name is special and defines their identity. She treats them as human beings rather than as delinquents or trouble makers as others might. Even though Miss Moore is anything but rude to the kids, they still treat her awfully, especially Sylvia.

One can tell from the beginning that Sylvia has lots of contempt for Miss Moore when she thinks, “I’m really hating this nappy-head bitch and her goddamn college degree” (110). This disrespect is expressed again when Sylvia thinks, “… though I never talk to her, I wouldn’t give the bitch that satisfaction” (113). Sylvia probably does not have much power in her life, being a poor, black girl, so she acts rude and bossy trying to maintain any sort of power/control she can get. However, Miss Moore constantly attempts to break down this power struggle by treating Sylvia properly and not putting her down. Miss Moore strives for mutual recognition while Sylvia wants to remain in control.

Jeff’s Stockholm Syndrome

In “Escape from Spiderhead” by George Saunders there seems to be a sort of Stockholm Syndrome scenario between Jeff and Abnesti. Instead of going to “real Jail”, Jeff’s mother paid for Jeff to go to Spiderhead. However, this might not have been the best choice because Spiderhead is deceivingly an evil institution. Jeff seems to adopt a friendship with Abnesti and have a pleasant time at Spiderhead. Jeff knows that he is a prisoner, but he is manipulated by Abnesti without knowing. This can be seen when Abnesti tells Jeff, “You know me … how many kids do I have … what are their names” (68). At that moment Abnesti tries to persuade Jeff into hurting Heather by bringing up their “friendly” relationship. Abnesti attempts to build a connection so Jeff remains complicit. Another reasong Jeff falls for Abnesti’s tricks is because Abnesti creates a false sense of security by leaving the door to Spiderhead unlocked, remembering birthdays, and giving medicinal creams to Jeff. Abnesti tries to seem like a friend to Jeff but he sees Jeff as a criminal, like all of the other “participants”, and could never truly be friends with Jeff. Abnesti believes he is the outstanding citizen while Jeff is just another low life criminal.

Towards the end, Jeff starts to realize that Spiderhead and Abnesti are corrupt. When Verlaine mentions that he refreshed Jeff’s MobiPak, “While he was sleeping”, Jeff starts to understand that he his a prisoner and tries to break out of Abnesti’s hold (66). Jeff tries to be a good person but Abnesti refuses to let him. Abnesti manipulates Jeff into giving Heather Darkenfloxx but the results push Jeff to his limit. Jeff finally escapes from Abnesti’s evilness, when he kills himself on Darkenfloxx, not wanting to kill again.