Identity is a major theme throughout King Lear. Starting at the very beginning of the play, there are allusions to the world of theatre and acting. When asking to hear his daughter’s speeches, Lear doesn’t care if it’s the truth, he just wants them each to take their roles of the grateful daughter and work with them. Later, both Kent and Edgar disguise themselves out of necessity, and when pretending to be someone else for so long, the lines often get blurred between a character and one’s true self. However, the difference between Kent and Edgar is that the purpose of Kent’s disguise is to protect Lear, while Edgar’s is to protect himself. The characters are often unable to see through disguises, particularly Lear, as he is too lost to think of anything but himself and his daughters. The use of false roles and deception shows parallels to another one of Shakespeare’s plays, As You Like It. In As You Like It, Jacques, the melancholy fool, gives a long speech about how “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” I find it interesting how two of Shakespeare’s prominent plays express the same theme of life simply being acting. Everyone is playing a character and putting on a disguise or a facade in some way, and those who fail to disguise themselves properly often suffer the most. The ability to manipulate one’s identity can seem to be a strong shield against others, but in the end, there is nothing that can truly protect the fragile nature of one’s true self.
(contains mentions of suicide)
I believe that every single song off of Ricky Montgomery’s album Montgomery Ricky is poetic in its own way, but I am going to focus on the song “My Heart is Buried in Venice,” which is a very sad song full of deep and profound emotion. At first glance, this song seems to simply be about a broken heart that needs to be fixed. I believe this is what the song is about, but that there is a deeper and sadder specific story that becomes apparent to me when I analyze it further.
I think this song is about someone who has lost their lover to suicide. This might seem like a stretch, but let me take you through why I think this. First of all, the tone becomes increasingly more desperate as the song goes on, and it seems like he is begging his lover to come back, even though they are definitely gone. At the beginning, he makes it clear that his lover has issues/ past trauma and he wants to help them heal. He is asking them to come back so that he can fix them and stop what really happened from happening. He is in definite denial.
Come rest your bones next to me
And toss all your thoughts to the sea
I’ll pull up each of our anchors
So we can get lost you and me
The 3rd line of this stanza is my favorite in the whole song because it shows very clear imagery of what it feels like to try to pull someone out of the hole they are in while also trying to do the same for yourself. This shows that he was struggling too, and he feels like he didn’t do enough to help them, but he wants to now. It’s clear the person he is talking to has issues and he wants to escape the sadness of reality with them.
In the chorus, which is repeated multiple times, he changes from speaking to this person directly to speaking to no one in particular. He says:
My heart is buried in Venice
Waiting for someone to take it home
This is a major change from the first part of the song, which seemed rather hopeful and loving. Here, he seems alone and is saying he has no one to fix his broken heart, and he is either waiting for his lover to come back or he is just waiting for the help of anyone at all. The chorus of the song shows acceptance of the terrible event rather than denial and hope.
In the middle of the song, he says:
I never thought that I would have to say I’m sorry
For anyone but me
This line tells me that he had to apologize for his lover, and what I picture is him having to apologize to other people because he feels responsible for what they did. This is a very heartbreaking scene that I picture in my mind.
In the next verse is where the tone is very desperate and he is pleading for them to come back to him.
Don’t leave me to breathe
Don’t leave me to bleed
For someone who chose to leave me
This is what solidifies the story for me. When he says “don’t leave me to breathe” this implies that they themselves are not breathing, while he is. And when he says “don’t leave me to bleed” I believe it is his heart that is bleeding because they “chose to leave” him. There is another tone shift here where he switches the blame from himself to his lover and he changes stages of grief from denial into anger that they left him alone.
Finally, he ends with the chorus, showing acceptance for what has happened, rather than ending with a verse full of denial. The song also gets softer and slower at this point, which shows that he has no hope left and he can’t change what happened.
In conclusion, I love Ricky Montgomery very much and this song always makes me cry. Go stream his whole album, it’s not all depressing I promise!
To some, it seems that Meursault has completely figured out life more than anyone else and he is living completely free without any illusions. However, I think he is too far over the line between being able to enjoy life vs constantly feeling like nothing matters at all. It is one thing to be naive, but it is another to live without emotion. I think Marie understands life more than she is given credit for, and I like her grasp on everything. Some might think she is portrayed as naive, but in my opinion, she sees the truth yet can still be happy and have a good time. She still loved Meursault after she asked him if he loves her and he “told her it didn’t mean anything but (he) didn’t think so (35),” and it didn’t stop her from being loyal to him even throughout his trial process, because they still had a connection. She does not deny the peculiarity of Meursault, that is one of the things that draws her to him. She feels emotions, but she doesn’t let them dictate her whole life. In addition, it seems the physicality of their relationship and their trips to the beach are some of the only things Meursault seems to enjoy. In conclusion, I think Marie is an important character who has a more sustainable world view than Meursault, and experiencing emotions is a good thing.
At the end of “Victory Lap” by George Saunders, Alison wakes up from her dream and her parents tell her that she ran outside, yelled, and stopped Kyle from killing the kidnapper. However, I think Alison’s parents are lying to her so she is not traumatized by the events. At the end of the kidnapper’s point of view, he says “He closed his eyes and waited and was not at peace at all but instead felt the beginnings of a terrible dread welling up inside him, and if that dread kept going at the current rate, he realized in a flash of insight, there was a name for the place he would be then, and it was Hell.” (25) This sentence can be perceived two ways. 1: he would be in Hell, it hasn’t happened yet, and this is more of a hypothetical situation; or 2: it WAS Hell, it happened, the kidnapper has died and gone to Hell. The use of the word “was” rather than “would be” makes me believe that the correct reading is the latter. In addition, at the time, Alison was shaking and scared for her life and seemed like she was in no state to be able to go outside and yell at Kyle to stop. Also, Kyle was so enraged and determined that I don’t think he would stop on his own. These facts lead me to believe that Kyle really did kill Alison’s kidnapper, and Alison’s parents are lying to her to protect her from feeling like his death was her fault.
I find it really interesting how love is shown in this short story as being only sexual. Jeff learns nothing about Heather or Rachel as people, they don’t laugh together or know each other’s favorite things, and yet they claim to be in love because they had sex three times. When talking about Heather, Jeff says “And I was definitely still feeling love for her… Why do you think they call it ‘making love’? That is what we had just made three times: love.” (51). This means that Abnesti/the drug creators also share the same ideas about love, since they are the ones that created the love drug to do that. It seems that everyone in this story just has one idea of what love is, and it doesn’t seem to go much deeper than physical attraction.