Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Rage Against Machine Three Rebels Essay Example for Free
Rage Against Machine Three Rebels Essay The protagonists of the novels Emma by Jane Austen, My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain all share a rebellious streak that both serves them well and causes them trouble in their respective novels. However, these protagonists didnt operate with a wild disregard to the rules of their society and times. Rather, all three characters are constrained in the end by the mores of Victorian England, Orthodox Jewish society and 19th century Southern values respectively. Exploring such aspects of Emma, My Name is Asher Lev, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as theme, historical context, and psychological traits, it will be shown that despite Emma Woodhouses disdain for the institution of marriage, Asher Levs living in the two seemingly opposite worlds of art and Jewish society, and Huckelberry Finns lack of respect for social refinement and rules, the three protagonists did not entirely succeed in their goals of living lives that went against the grain of their societies. Emma Woodhouse was described in the pages of Emma as a Ã¢â¬Å" handsome, clever, and rich Ã¢â¬ (Austen, p. 1, 1816) young woman who was the apple of her doting fathers eye and the mistress of Hartfield, their family estate. Taking credit for the union of her former governess and a Mr. Weston, Emma decided to further hone her Ã¢â¬Å"matchmakingÃ¢â¬ skills by setting up her friend Harriet Smith with various men of higher social status. This interest in Harriet Smiths marriage prospects directly contradicts Emmas own quest to remain single in a society that offered women only bleak alternatives to marriage. Despite Emmas twin resolves to remain single and find Harriet a suitable mate, Emma eventually caved into the demands that were made on women of high social status when she gets engaged and realized that Harriet marrying a farmer named Robert Martin would forever alter their relationship. Asher Lev, the protagonist of My Name is Asher Lev, had loved to draw ever since he was small. His father, an important figure in the Ladover community, tried to discourage his son from getting too serious about his art while his mother implored Asher to draw pictures that were Ã¢â¬Å"prettyÃ¢â¬ , an assault to her sons melancholy artistic temperment. Despite reading in an art book that an artist should be free of religion, country, etc, Asher decides that he will try to balance being a devout Jew with being a passionate artist. Under the guidance of Jacob Kahn, a non-practicing Jewish artist, Ashers art and his knowledge flourishes as he explores the use of crucifixes in his work. Asher is uneasy about showing the crucifixion pictures in a show, but he goes through with it, being true to his calling as an artist. The crucifixes ultimately prove to be Asher Levs undoing as he is shunned by his parents and the Ladover community in general. Huckleberry Finn, the protagonist in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is an adolescent boy who enjoys looking for trouble with his friend Tom Sawyer way more than trying to become a civilized boy at the hands of the widow and Miss Watson. After running away from his drunkard father, he decides to travel with Jim, who left Miss Watsons house after he found out that Miss Watson was thinking of selling him. Even though Huckleberry Fin grows attached to Jim, he harbors doubts throughout the story about hiding a runaway slave. He even thinks about turning Jim in before deciding that having a conscience just wasnt worth the mental agony of losing his friend. In the end, the protagonists rebellious act of helping a slave escape his captors prove to be for nothing as Miss Watson, his former master, decides to set him free. All three novels have themes that somehow relate back to rebellion or freedom. In Emma, the protagonist told her friend Harriet Smith that she never intended on getting married, a bold pronouncement in Victorian England. Her reasons are simple: Ã¢â¬Å"Fortune I do not want; employment I do not want; consequence I do not want; I believe few married women are half as much mistress of their husbands house as I am of Hartfield Ã¢â¬ (Austen, p. 74, 1816) What Emma was saying was that her social status allowed her the freedom to chart her own course throughout life, an option given to few women at the time. Another way that Emma tried to rebel against the social customs of Victorian England was to find her friend Harriet a mate of high social status. Since Harriets bloodline was unknown, most people would have scoffed at a pairing of Harriet with a man like Mr. Elton or Frank Churchill. Mr. Knightley echoes this sentiment when talking to Mrs. Weston: Ã¢â¬Å"Hartfield will only put her out of conceit with all the other places she belongs to. She will grow just refined enough to be uncomfortable with those among whom birth and circumstances have placed her home. Ã¢â¬ (Austen, p. 31,1816) Freedom is the overarching theme of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. At the beginning and end of the novel, the protagonist yearns to be free from the rules and civilization of 19th century polite Southern society. For a boy that seemed to be hemmed in by clean clothes and spelling lessons, floating on a raft must have seemed like heaven: Ã¢â¬Å"Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft dont. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft. Ã¢â¬ (Twain, p. 134, 1985) The novel even ends with Huckleberry Finn promising to run away looking for more adventures, claiming that he Ã¢â¬Å"been there beforeÃ¢â¬ (Twain, p. 296, 1985) with the civilized life. One of the themes of My Name is Asher Lev is the protagonists struggle between life as a devout Jew and life as an artist dedicated to his craft. This battle is evident on the first page as Asher Lev introduces himself to a reader that is already familiar with his work. In this passage, Asher tears himself apart yet defends himself at the same time, showing uncertainty years later with his decision to show the crucifixes: I am an observant Jew. Yes, of course, observant Jews do not paint crucifixions. As a matter of fact, observant Jews do not paint at all-in the way that I am painting I am a traitor, an apostate, a self-hater, an inflicter of shame upon my family Well, I am none of those things. And yet, in all honesty, I confess that my accusers are not altogether wrong; I am indeed, in some way, all of those things. (Potok, p. 1, 1972) It was established earlier that Emma rebelled against Victorian society by resolving to stay single and fix up her friend Harriet with a man above her social status. As the novel ended with Emmas engagement to Mr. Knightley and Harriets engagement to Robert Martin, Emma realized that rebellion wasnt quite her cup of tea, deciding to let her friendship with Harriet fall to that of social goodwill: Ã¢â¬Å"The intimacy between her and Emma must sink; their friendship must change into a calmer sort of goodwill Ã¢â¬ (Austen, p. 435, 1816) At the start of the novel, Emma wanted to live her life according to her rules, but by the end became caught up in the social mores of Victorian England. Sharing the psychological trait of rebelliousness with Emma Woodhouse, Huckleberry Finn did everything he could to escape the stifling life of rules and convention, even traveling the length of the Mississippi River with a runaway slave. However, the protagonist almost gave in to social conventions several times when he seriously thought about turning Jim in to the authorities. Huckleberry Finn even wrote a letter to Miss Watson telling her of Jims whereabouts, feeling better afterward. However, as Huckleberry Finn thought of all the things that Jim had done for him, he tears up the letter, saying Ã¢â¬Å"All right, then, Ill go to hellÃ¢â¬ (Twain, p. 223, 1985) The rebellious streak in Asher Lev started early. Even at a young age, Asher was willing to defend his gift, no matter the situation. For example, when Asher was called into the mashpias office for drawing a sinister picture of the Rebbe, Asher boldly stood up for his art to his disapproving father, something a polite Orthodox Jewish kid did not do in those times: Ã¢â¬Å"Foolishness is something thats stupid Foolishness is something a person shouldnt do. Foolishness is something that brings harm to the world. Foolishness is a waste of time. Please dont call it foolishness any more, Papa. Ã¢â¬ (Potok, p. 129, 1972) Like Huckleberry Finn, Asher Lev knew how he wanted to live his life at a very young age. Also like Huck Finn, Asher was willing to thwart social conventions in order to communicate this. Despite the rebellious streaks of Emma Woodhouse, Huckleberry Finn, and Asher Lev, the time periods in which the three novels take place largely serve to mute the three protagonists individuality. In Emma, for example, women of her class were expected to be married. Those who didnt were largely seen as pathetic beings on which to take pity. The character of Miss Bates was presented as a ridiculous character, seen as a clown-like figure by Emma and others, and seen as an object of sympathy such characters as Mr. Knightley. Even Harriet Smith saw Miss Bates as someone to be pitied. However, Emma, Harriet, and even Jane Fairfax, thought to be doomed to a governess position, escaped Miss Bates fate by marrying according to the social customs of Victorian England. Rebellious in her youth, Emma realizes the Ã¢â¬Å"errorÃ¢â¬ of her ways and did her womanly duty. The vile tradition of slavery provided a subtle color to The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Yes, the protagonist became close friends with a runaway slave. However, it was obvious that Huckleberry Finn was conflicted about this friendship. One example of this conflict occurred when the protagonist meets his friend Tom Sawyer , who was on his way to visit relatives. When Tom suggests that they steal Jim away from the Phelps farm, Huckleberry Finn is flabbergasted: Ã¢â¬Å"Well, I let go all holts, then, like I was shot. It was the most astonishing speech I had ever heard-and Im bound to say Tom Sawyer fell, considerable, in my estimation. Ã¢â¬ (Twain, p. 235, 1985) In other words, it was ok for Jim to travel with Huck when they were in no danger of getting caught. Once caught, Jim was no longer Hucks problem. He was even surprised that anyone would go to the trouble of breaking the law to help a slave escape. Huckleberry Finn wasnt a bad person. He was just a victim of pre-Civil War America. Growing up an Orthodox Jew who was also a gifted artist in the mid 20th century was a unique situation for Asher Lev. Throughout My Name is Asher Lev, the protagonist had tried valiantly to combine being a devout Jew with being an even more devout artist. He observed the Jewish faith despite studying under a non-practicing Jewish artist and living in Europe for a while. At the end, something had to give in Ashers struggle between Judaism and art, and it ended up being his place in the Ladover community. As Asher walked down the street after the Rebbe cast him out of the community, he contemplates his life thus far: Ã¢â¬Å"I was demonic and devine Asher Lev was the child of the Master of the Universe and the Other Side. Asher Lev paints good pictures and hurts people he loves. Ã¢â¬ (Potok, 367, 1972) From this passage, one can see how Asher Lev wondered whether the sacrifice was actually worth the love of his parents and his community. The protagonists of Emma, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and My Name is Asher Lev all sought to do things that were not really done in their times. Emma Woodhouse sought to raise the social status of her friend by marriage while remaining single herself in a time when both acts were looked down upon. Huckleberry Finn wanted to escape civilization while bringing along a runaway slave for company. Asher Lev wanted to combine the life of faith with the life of art in a time when no one would even think about the two concepts together. Ultimately, the times of the three rebel protagonists proved to be too much, dulling their mutinous acts.