Final Draft Research
Matthew Kassebaum 4/26/12 Honors English 3 How does an author create the mind of their characters? Are they predetermined or do they let the progression of the story dictate the way the characters minds are shaped? Every author has a major event or turning point in a story which directly affects the lives of the characters in the novel or play. These events and points in the story are presented to the characters as challenges which develop their psychology and mental state. These are key to any story, since the mental state and psychology shape the way the character acts, behaves, and interacts with other characters in the story.
Although some believe these traits are predetermined by the author when he creates the character they are actually shaped by the events which occur in the play or novel. These events are not just in the story to make the story entertaining and interesting but are in the story to affect the mental state and psychological development of each and every character affected by the event. In The Great Gatsby Jay Gatsby changes his entire life in hopes of reuniting with the love of his life Daisy, but shortly after they reunite his life seems to revert to the way it was before he became Jay Gatsby.
Gatsby’s life, once full of expensive parties, was now lacking all excitement, he was the most talked about man on both East and West Egg, now was forgotten about. He lost touch with his only true friend, Nick, and fired almost all of the people who worked for him, butlers, cleaning staff, drivers, and those who took care of his house. His life went from the party filled life of a young American man trying to enjoy himself to that of a secluded recluse who wanted no contact at all with the outside world. American Psychologist William James once remarked , “…human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. Once Gatsby lost the reason for his money and showiness he lost his desire and need for money and showiness. This loss of his lifelong love leaving a hole in his life, a hole which he had created his new life to fill, was now wide open again and he no longer had a reason for the new life he created. By losing Daisy he effectively changed from the mindset of Jay Gatsby back to that of James Gatz, the son of a poor family from Minnesota. This caused him to go back to his old ways, almost as if the man known as Jay Gatsby did not exist anymore.
His mindset went from that of a millionaire, to that of a poor boy with almost nothing, only wishing he was a millionaire. When James Gatz became Jay Gatsby he did it to one day earn back the love of Daisy, and when he couldn’t win her love back there was no reason for all the money and parties, there was no more reason to be Jay Gatsby at all. In Oedipus Rex Oedipus seems to have a wonderful life as the son of a royal family of a very successful land until he found out his fate, what his future was suppose to be, causing his life to take a turn for the worse and lead to his ultimate demise.
Oedipus has so many traumatic events occur in his life it is hard to narrow them down to one which affects his psychology the greatest. From his abandonment as a child, killing his father, having children with his mother, and seeing his mother hang herself he had an extremely traumatic life which deeply and greatly affected him. His psychology and how these events affected it are the most well known and widely studied of any character in any story, book, or play in the history of literature, but the event which affects him the most, what drives him to his demise, is when he finds out what his fate is said to be.
Rick Riordan, a New York Times bestselling author, wrote in his novel Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief, “Knowing too much of your future is never a good thing. ” Once he finds out his destiny he sets out to try and change is, a feat considered impossible, and all he accomplishes is causing it to occur, most likely, faster than he would have if he disregarded the prophecy. When Oedipus found out his fate, fulfilling it scared him more than anything, more than even attempting the impossible, changing his fate.
Learning of what his future held forced him to make a choice, and choosing leave the city he believed was his true home city, and the family he believed to be his biological family led to a total mental break because he found out he fulfilled the prophecy and shamed himself, his family and his children. He felt such great shame from this he went to the length of gauging his eyes out and committing himself to a life of poverty and wandering until his death.
If he had not found out his fate when he did, or had he simply not believed it much of the pain and suffering he and those around him went through could have been avoided or delayed, also postponing his demise. Christopher from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime lives his entire life with mental disabilities and one day the death of a dog sends him on a journey which affects the way he lives with his disabilities and his life. When he begins his journey Christopher’s mental state is already extremely precarious due to his disabilities.
He journeys at first to find who killed his neighbor’s dog, and when he realizes his dad had done it but lied to him about it, begins his search for his mom. His journey for his mom takes him all over England, a very new, very scary and very trying experience for him. He often does not know where he is at all and with very little intrapersonal and communication skills has a very hard time reaching his mother. Once he finally does he finds it very hard to live there since his mother’s boyfriend is not very accommodating to his special needs.
Rebecca Sue, author of an article called “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” concurs, “Christopher remains insecure and cannot fully trust in his surroundings. This poses a great hurdle to him in coping with life events and developing as a person. However, Christopher proves to be resilient and finds ways to overcome the detrimental effects of his disorder. ” This perfectly describes the journey Christopher is taken on throughout the events in the novel.
Although he faces all of these challenges he eventually overcomes them to succeed on his journey and learns how a function a little bit better in everyday life because of it too. His life is dramatically changed for the better due to his investigation into the death of his neighbor’s dog. In A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche visits her sister Stella and her husband Stanley, and she tells them it is to take a break teaching and her and Stella’s childhood home, but she really goes to escape the life she made for herself after she lost Belle Reve and all the death and other loss she has experienced.
Unfortunately for Blanche she cannot escape her past at all, as August Strindberg states in his play Miss Julie, “No matter how far we travel; the memories will follow in the baggage car. ” When she gets to Stella’s she believes she will be able to leave the past behind her and escape all of it, but contrary to her belief Stella’s home is the worst place she could have gone to escape her past.
Instead of escaping her past she ends up having to recount much of it to both Stanly and Mitch, and even the parts of her past she tries to hide from them eventually come to light. When this happens she is given a train ticket by Stanley which is the final event that begins her mental break which ends when Stanley rapes her and her mental state is degraded to the point of complete insanity. Blanche’s attempt to escape her past and the horrible things within it fails horribly, culminating in her complete mental break and landing her in a mental institution.
Holden from The Catcher in the Rye seems a bit abnormal from the beginning of the novel but because of numerous events in the story which greatly affect him he ends the novel in an insane asylum driven to insanity by many various events and occurrences throughout the novel. Both the main event of his brother Allies death and the other more minor events that occur during his travel to New York and during his stay in New York cause Holden’s fragile mental state to break and drive him to the point of insanity.
Holden faces many challenges during his journey and time in New York which causes his mental state to deteriorate. In “Bloom on The Catcher in the Rye” Harold Bloom says, “Holden’s psychic health, already precarious, barely can sustain the stresses of Manhattan. He suffers both from grief at his younger brother Allie’s death, and from the irrational guilt of being a survivor. ” He already had such a fragile mindset that almost any event which he could have felt scared or fear during would have put him over the edge mentally and causes a psychological break driving him to insanity.
The ultimate event which causes his fragile mental state to break is when his sister asks him to ride the carousel with her and he realizes he cannot go on because he is no longer a child and must act like an adult. His whole life he strives to be more of an adult but wishes he could go back to his childhood, and in that moment he has the opportunity to go back, but he realizes that he cannot go back to his childhood, no one can once they become an adult, and that is the final event his mind can take, causing his break and admittance to a mental institute.
Holden deals with many horrible events and difficult situations in his life, many of which contribute to the fragility of his mind and his ultimate admittance to a mental institution. Every author has a major event or turning point in a story which directly affects the lives of the characters in the novel or play. These events and points in the story are presented to the characters as challenges which develop their psychology and mental state. These are key to any story, since the mental state and psychology shape the way the character acts, behaves, and interacts with other characters in the story.