The Significance of Nature in George Eliot’s Adam Bede

By Trudy A. Martinez

In Adam Bede nature is set against itself; this first becomes apparent on “the Green”.  Here two roads fork off into two directions:  One up and one down.  The road upward depicts a gloomy picture while the one downward presents a bright picture.  For instance, the road that goes up is “overlooked by its barren hills” and described as “a bleak treeless region” (28).  In contrast, the one that goes down is “under the shelter of woods” and is described as having “long meadow-grass and thick corn” (28).

The effect of nature leaves the reader wondering what is good and what is bad.  For instance, Mr. Irwine   is described as harmonizing “extremely well with that peaceful landscape” (76-77).  What is peaceful about his landscape?  The church is on the upward road and the only brightness described in that landscape is the “dark-red” of the bricks on the church.  Then again, just as “the red sunlight shone on the brass nails” of a coffin, the color signifies a different sort of peacefulness, that of death (60).  The sun was shining on Hetty wearing a red cloak but she hardly knew it; she had lost hope (348).  With “two roads before her,” she chose the downward path, the “one . . . which will take her into . . . shrouded pastures” (348).

On the downward path, nature is a non-benevolent force where day and night are at odds.  Gyps announces the non-benevolent nature when he gives out “a loud howl”.  In response, Adam goes outside in the dark to investigate; he sees “nothing except a rat; but what he hears calls “up the image of the willow wand striking the door” and foretelling death (58).  However, instead of death being discovered in the dark of night, it is discovered only after “daylight quenches the candles and the birds begin to sing” (60).  In addition, just as the birds sing, Gyps begins “to bark uneasily” after Seth asks, “What’s that sticking against the willow?”  Then Adam and Seth discover the “watery death” of their father (61).  Instead of water being a symbol of life, water becomes a symbol of death.  Eliot reverses the symbols just as she reverses nature.

Mr. Irwine communicates the opposing force of nature when he says, “Nature is cleaver enough to cheat even you, mother.”  His mother, however, disagrees and replies, “Nonsense, child!  Nature never makes a ferret in the shape of mastiff”   (72).  In other words, she can tell by the outward appearance.  Nevertheless, the outward appearance of nature is different.  Instead of the rain pouring down drops and producing mud, “the sun.  .  .  Is pouring down his beams.  .  .  and turning.  .  .  muddy water . . . into a mirror” (79).  And then again, a birthday feast is held at the time of year that is “Not the best time of year to be born in.”  Instead, it is held at the time of year where “Nature seems to make a hot pause” (241).

Nature also foretells the depth of emotions.  For instance, when Hetty is in the wilderness wandering and looking for a pool of water, she finds it “black under the darkening sky:  no motion, no sound near . . .  The pool was at its wintry depth now” and so is Hetty for she is thinking of drowning herself in it (367).  “She had reached the boarders of a new wilderness . . . (360).  Her sky is no longer bright with sunshine.  For example, the sky is “gray” and “clear” on the morning when Hetty and Dinah are riding in the cart and nearing the fatal spot.  Suddenly, Arthur appears, “carrying in his hand a hard-won release from death (438).  Consequently, nature gives a hint of what is to come.

The consequence of nature keeps the reader reading and unknowingly questioning if the sunshine is representative of death, why is Dinah pictured sewing in the sunshine outside the house?  (70-71). is this because she has not a hope of life as a single woman?  Later after Dinah marries Adam, she avoids the sunshine.  For instance, she shades “her eyes with her hands” and “turns away from the sunlight” (504).  In addition, she changes the color of her bonnet from grieving black to an innocent white.

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The Effect of Illusion on the Reality of Emma’s Life in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary

By Trudy A. Martinez

Emma attempts to make the fiction she reads become her reality. Real life bores her. When she lives in the country, she dreams of living in a town. As she walks and talks with Charles, reality and illusion merge. Her voice is “suddenly laden with languor” one minute and the next “merry . . . Her eyes” open “wide and innocent, then half” close, submerge “in boredom, thoughts wandering” (36).

Emma’s wandering thoughts surface when she attempts to mingle the plans for their wedding with fantasy. For example, She wants “a midnight wedding with torches” (38), but her father will not hear of it. But nevertheless, touches of fantasy make it through the planning stage: “A little cupid” adorns the wedding cake (42). And Emma’s dress is out-of-place: it isoppp too long for a country wedding. Consequently, the dress drags on the ground, picking up “course grasses and thistle burrs” (40) and bits of reality

Reality strikes home when Emma sees her husband’s first wife’s bouquet. The sight of him removing it starts her to “wondering what would happen to (her own bouquet) if she were to die” (45). Eventually, she disposes of the bouquet herself: She throws it in a fire and sits watching it burn and “the shriveled paper petals (hover) like black butterflies” in the fireplace and “finally (vanish) up the chimney” (81).

When her life lapses into routine, she tries to liven it up. She does this by reciting poetry to Charles in the moonlight or singing to him “slow melancholy songs,” thinking that this will make him more loving and passionate (56). When nothing works, she begins to question her reasons for marrying (57).
Her ideas of love affect her vision: “Was not love like an Indian plant,” She thought, “requiring a prepared soil, a special temperature? Sighs in the moonlight, long embraces, and hands at parting bathed with tears, all the fevers of the flesh and the languid tenderness of love. . . “And luxury (72). The effects of such thoughts cause her to dress and train her maid as a lady’s maid. And she, herself, dresses luxuriously and flaunts herself at the window (72-73).

She day dreams of the ball and the Marquis, even though he is ugly, his lifestyle fascinates her. Excitement fills his life, and he “was said to have been the lover of Marie Antoinette” (60-61).
Such daydreaming leaves her depressed. For example, “She lets the house look after itself” and she grew “hard to please” and thinks only of her own wants and emotions. What effect she has on others is of no consequence to her (79). She said, “I hate commonplace heroes and moderate feeling such as are to be found in life” (96).

Having a girl child is commonplace to her. “The thought of having a male child afforded her revenge for her past life of helplessness (101).” With Emma there is no compromising: either nothing is good enough for her or she is too good for everything. Her daughter didn’t really matter to her. If she had, why did she place her in a nursemaid’s home where it compels her to wipe “her feet at the door as she [goes] out” (106).

Emma thinks she can love her husband Charles if he is famous, “but Charles [has] no ambition” (74). Before her wedding she believes she is in love, but to Emma love means excitement, a continuous passion, and most of all luxury. When Rodolphe comes into her life, she fails to recognize that his words: “I’ve stayed with you, because I couldn’t tear myself away, though I’ve tried a hundred times” are just as the chairman exclaims to the crowd: “Manure!” (161).

A life with Rodolphe sums up her dreams of fantasy: “I love you so much! . . . So much, I can’t live without you! I long for you . . . I am your slave, your concubine. You are my king, my idol –you are good, handsome, intelligent, and strong!” (203). But she did live without him and even replaces him with her own molded model of a lover, Leon. To uphold her life of fantasy, she needs money and luxury.

The reality of the debt she accumulates crushes her illusion and leaves her wishing “she could fly away like a bird and grow young again somewhere far out in the stainless purity of space” (303). When she tries to regain some dignity, and seek help from her lost love, Rodolphe, the reality of her life becomes too much for her as she angrily tells him of his faults and her own at the same time: “You love yourself too much: you live well . . . “(323).

She takes her own life to avoid facing reality (325). “In a clear voice she asked for her mirror, and remained bowed over it for sometime, until big tears began to trickle out of her eyes” (336) for she must leave her fantasy behind. However, a song rebukes her and she cries out, “The blind man!” His song leaves her “laughing, a ghastly, frantic, desperate laugh, fancying she could see the hideous face of the beggar rising up like a nightmare amid the eternal darkness” (337). Consequently, she dies as she lives in a fantasy world of illusion.

This is an edited version (June 19, 2014) of the origin posting (April 04, 2008).

With Blake’s Stroke of a Pen

By Trudy A. Martinez

The first few lines of the novel A Tale Of Two Cities, a fictional historical novel, written by Charles Dickens presents a narrow view of history that sets the atmosphere and the tone of the era in which William Blake aspires. The novel’s plot begins in the year one thousand seven hundred fifty-seven, the year of Blake’s birth.

“It [is] the best of times”

The nobles maintain their sanction status; the church, the Catholic Church, continues to support the corrupt government. The bourgeoisie, the upper-middle-class, prosper, increasing in wealth and position; some of the upper-middle-class use foresight by purchasing titles thus exempting themselves from taxes and the dual standard employed within a society of classes. The Population increases as a result of the accomplishment of industrialization.

“It [is] the worst of times”

The middle class begins to stagnate; the working class and the peasantry are oppressed and left to the mercy of the nobles and the bourgeoisie, the upper-middle-class, who abuses them. Factory workers labor long hours for subsistence wages; the peasantry is like dirt under the feet of the upper classes; their human dignity stripped; they are like animals with no rights; their death means nothing to the upper-class. Stealing a piece of bread or a few pence to survive means imprisonment, torture, and possible death at the whim of an aristocrat. Cities are overcrowded and so are the prisons.

“It [is] the age of wisdom”

The scientific community made discoveries in the 17th century that revolutionizes thought processes; those processes are carried further in the 18th century which sees further achievements in astronomy, chemistry, and biology. As a result, new ideas surface.

“It [is] the season of light”

Reaction to the age of wisdom and foolishness produce the age of reason; then subsequently a new idealism in opposition to materialism and finally humanitarianism and an increase emphasis on reform movements in answer to problems that face society.

“It [is] the season of darkness”

The upper-middle-class on down to the peasantry lost their faith in the system. The population increases along with taxation. Oppression is on the rise, illness, disease, abuse, and death increase dramatically. All hopes of improvement fades.

As hopes fades for the oppressed, William Blake begins to address the issues of the time while at the same maintaining his faith in the Lord. One can only revere such a poet who appears as a rebel in his own time, the era of the romantics. During this era, greed became a virtue (greed is no longer seen as a vice) that leads the upper middle class to the pillars of society through the persecution of the lower classes. It is an age when man is not free to express openly his thoughts or the truth of all matters.

Blake’s courage became a distinct mark upon time when he addresses his concerns for a society gone astray through his articulations in poetry. His mastery of technique may be seen in the poems. He writes of what he hears and of what he sees as if in answer to the scripture of the Holy Bible (Ezekiel 22 verse 2): “Now, thou son of man, wilt thou judge, wilt thou judge the bloody city? Yea, thou shalt shew her all her abominations.” And Blake, a man of God, surely did show the abominations of a bloody city. Blake speaks of a life, of misery, of death, of injustice and of infidelity; he writes in such a manner as to grant the reader a perceptive scene to behold the grievance, to distinguish the injury upon the citizenry, and discern the encroachment power of industrialization. When Blake drafts his weapon, the all-powerful pen, he fights against the despotism of progress.

The despotism of progress appears as a “. . . mark in every face. . . “. With Blake’s execution of words, the “mark” emerges as if an expression of sadness, of pain, of suffering on the faces of everyone on the “chartered streets” of London, the streets where special privileges (sanctioned by government) are granted to business and to the church immunity, immunity from guilt. The immunity from guilt stretches out to encompass “. . . every infant’s cry of fear . . . every voice . . . every ban, and the mind-forged manacles . . .”[Blake hears]. In other words, Blake hears the babies cry of hunger, the fearful cry of not knowing where the next meal will come from or if it will come at all, the fear of imprisonment in an oppression of not only the body but of the soul with the freedom of thought prohibited, chained to the mind, a crime if voiced while the oppressors ignores the situation or looks the other way.

Blake sees the crimes of the church as he hears “…the Chimney-sweeper’s cry”, the cry of innocence, the cry of horror upon becoming lost in the miles of tunnels “Every black’ning church appalls . . . “ Here Blake seems to imply that the church condones the act of sending children into the miles of tunnels to clean the chimneys even though the church knows the children’s innocence may be blackened not only by the soot of the chimney’s but also by the crying agony of the death the tunnels might hold them and that the chimney tunnels might thus become their coffin and the church their pall bearer.

Blake hears “…the hapless Soldier’s sigh” as he appears to envision the mark of the legless man’s weariness, his sorrow, his regret for the blood all soldiers shed for their country, their government; and therefore the Soldier’s sighs “[ran] in blood down Palace walls.”

As the blood ran down the Palace walls, the blood seeps into the streets darkened by the immunity pledge to industrialization through its charter. There Blake hears “…through midnight streets…the youthful Harlot’s curse”. In other words, Blake sees the disease, hunger, and death –the plight of young girls being forced into prostitution merely by the desire to survive the hell of their existence. Blake also sees the curse live on in the cry of the young girl’s offspring “[as the curse blasts] the new-born infant’s tear”.

The infant’s tear cries out with the knowledge of its destiny to Blake; And Blake transfers the infant’s appeal for life on to paper. In doing so, Blake bestows upon others his benefaction of sight, his ability to examine the “…mark on every face” and therefore to detect and distinguish “…every infant’s cry of fear”, the hopelessly of their lives, the birth of the affliction of their death, “…blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.” Blake with the courage of a warrior and as commanded by the Lord with the stroke of a pen shows the city: “all her abominations” and perhaps inspires the

“. . . The Spring of Hope” and helps to prevent “. . . a winter of despair”.

The previous winters had not been pleasant; in fact, they had been quiet rough for the oppressed with their subsistence existence, death, and the injustice within society. Their future did not promise much hope. Blake left very few stones un-turned when he also exposes the virtues of women who give themselves willingly to men in secret only to destroy their purity and innocence in the poem, “The Sick Rose.”

While Dickens brings into focus the attitudes and climate of society by focusing attention on the individuals of each class within the society, Blake shows the City of London all its abominations. Thus the personal attitudes of the individuals are given logic and reason through their level of self-esteem, their suspicions, their beliefs, their mastery, and their behavior and through their association of religion, learning, achievement, and past experience. As a result of the perception of the individuals, the reader’s personal, general, perception of attitudes and behavior of the rich and the poor and the practices and developments within the society are conceived. The literary maneuver of Dickens gives a structure of justice and injustice which in turn defines and distinguishes the good and the evil that confronts the society and William Blake.

Perhaps, the writings of Blake inspire the English under the reign of George III to revitalize its middle-class with the hope of a better future and thus prevent the “topsy-turvy” effect the French experienced. One can only imagine what may have inspired the great poet to express his independent thoughts during a period of time when freedom of thought or speech is not apparent. But Blake seizes the opportunity his quill affords him and speaks out against oppression as he transcribes what he perceives in a fashion that marks his courage forever on the pages of time through the stroke of his pen.

“An Intricate Web”: An Analysis of William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”

 By Trudy A. Martinez

In the story “A Rose for Emily” written by William Faulkner, Faulkner establishes a historical morality of a southern heritage, a pattern, intricately woven within the story.  The pattern engulfs Emily Grierson, the main character, a descendant of an old, southern, social elite family, who was breed to be accustomed to the best of everything; she demands the rights of her heritage.  Determined to maintain her image, Emily acts above reproach, above change.  However, time changes everything.

Faulkner builds on an intricate web through his reference to change that encompasses a southern town and its inhabitants following the Civil War.  As progress encroaches upon a once elite route in a small community, the route becomes an intermingled eyesore of decaying mansions and the ugliness of progression within a society.

The narrator portrays the significance of an illusion of decay and ugliness of a changing time and value by using the reference to we rather than to I.  By resorting to this technique, Faulkner provides a camouflage of accountability and neutralizes judgment for the putrefaction of the town, its inhabitants, and the abandonment of a once elegant southern heritage.

The Prospective of William Faulkner on “A Rose for Emily” (Meyer 54-55) acknowledges the neutralized judgment theme when Faulkner answers the question: “.could this story…be…classified as a criticism of the times?”  (Meyer 55).  Faulkner said, “The writer uses the environment–what he knows…It was not a conflict between the North and South so much as between…God and Satan”(Meyer 55).

At the end Civil War, the ideology of industrialization forces the south to change and conform.  Industrial progression and the freeing of the salves is seen as a means of bettering the majority of the people or at least giving them hope for a better future through the introduction of industrialization.  Instead, the tradition, heritage, and values of the typical southerner fade, decays, and gives way to the diabolic aggressive progression.

Nevertheless, the War was not over, at least not for Emily; she fought on; she maintains her heritage; she avoids taxation gracefully, elegantly.  Emily is not going to change!  She is above this utter nonsense; “Colonel Sartoris had explained to [her]”.  Not”…even grief could…cause a real lady to forget noblesse oblige“.

Emily held her head high in the tradition of her heritage until she meets the man of her dreams, Homer Barron; but “he was not a marrying man”.  Stubborn, Emily will not relinquish her traditional value to become the talk of the town.  She plans and works out a solution to the problem; she sets everything straight in the eye of the gossips while at the same time ridding herself of a “Rat”.

Because of her portrayal, Emily reaps her “Rose” for her distinguished execution of deceit.  She relinquished her values for a falsified image; she gives in to temptation and hides her indiscretion from the town.  She accomplishes her performance with the suppleness of a woman while maintaining her stature in the old southern tradition.  Emily joined the status-quo while defrauding everyone into believing she would not succumb to a changed society.




An Unspoken Message of Fear by Trudy A. Martinez: An Analysis of Carolyn Forche’s Poem “The Colonel”

An Unspoken Message of Fear:An Analysis of Carolyn Forche’s Poem, “The Colonel” by Trudy A. Martinez

Posted on December 13, 2006 by gramatrudy

Articles presenting psychological conjectures and theory appear in the Los Angeles Times over the years implying that the American society may be at fault for the deterioration of certain segments of the population. In addition, some publicity centered on the unnecessary beating of a black man appears to relate and substantiate the psychologist findings. Since the highly publicize beating, a connecting bond of black law enforcement officers came forward to complain and present possible testimony of their unjust treatment within the police department. The black officers say symbolism such as the “KKK” and white supremacy groups use serve as important determinants, leaving them with an unspoken message of fear from retaliation.

A similar unspoken message of fear is symbolized in the Carolyn Forche’s poem, “The Colonel”. The symbols in the poem plays a consequential role in understanding in what appears to be the poem’s intended theme as the theme loops in a chain like construction of symbols that combine a pattern of discrimination and leave a mark upon the aggressor in the form of an unspoken message of fear.

The importance of the characterizations reinforcing the chain like theme may be seen through the continual linkage of token symbols, creating a fearful atmosphere. The apprehensive environment that develops formulates through the significance of the descriptive setting in the Colonel’s home. For instance, a gun lay on the cushion beside the Colonel while he watches a “cop show”; “broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house”; and “the windows . . . [had] . . . gratings [on them] like those [used at] . . . liquor stores” (props design and carefully link together to keep the contents and occupants safe from unwanted intruders). Within the surroundings, similar symbolic considerations are recognizable that distinguish the nationality, status, and the unspoken fear of the Colonel and his family.

The factors that encourage recognition and assist in securing Forche’s propose of emphasizing a family of elements is inserted by the author’s clarifying statement that the cop show “was in English” and gains strength by the colonel’s “wife [taking] everything away” following a “brief commercial in Spanish”. The “. . . gold bell [that adorned the table like a charm on a bracelet] was . . . for calling the maid”. The gold bell stresses status and suggests dominance.

Dominance underscores and repeatedly portrays through the discussion “of how difficult it had become to govern” and by the “colonel [telling his parrot] to shut up after the parrot merely sang a polite greeting of “hello”. The ring of verbal abuse ushers in violence through the action of the colonel when he “pushed himself from the table’. The colonel’s abrupt forceful movements weigh and anchor a chain of unspoken fears that suddenly support the speaker when the eyes of the speaker’s friend say, “say nothing”.

By saying nothing, the unspoken fear unites, and coerce, and emerges as a triumphant acknowledgement, glimmering among the colonel’s collection of “dried . . . human ears’. The sequence is broken when the colonel’s indignation singles out one ear from the others, confronts it, and agitates it.

The ear, similar to a dangling charm glimmering in a bright light, comes to life as it drinks up the colonel’s demoralizing statements. The dejecting assertions spring forth, resembling the knife that strips the ears from their rightful place, through the savagery combination of their meaning, provoking the necessity of their continuance in a chain of unspoken messages of fear.

Birth of The Impersonal Forces: An Interpretation of History and Analysis of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle

An Analysis of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle,

By Trudy A. Martinez 

Birth of The Impersonal Forces: An Interpretation of History, An Analysis of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle.

In the year 1865, a drastic, calculated, change took place in America. The pre-destined change was domed to affect nearly every aspect of individuality for generations to come. It was learned from the past, ready to control the future and the destiny of millions. A special secret (their symbol) the Red, White, and Blue, which was guarded since the birth of their religion, had the purpose of joining the common man together, thus strengthening its falsified image, allowing them to go forward toward progressivism. The force with such OVER-WHELMING strength would condition the minds of the common people to accept and withstand the cry of agony, hunger, death, while tilting the scales of justice in favor of social injustice. This was the Main Impersonal Force which would cause to replace or alter the common man’s value system so as to conform to its purpose of a new religion. It would create a New Article of Faith, undermined by Radicalism, fueled by greed, and chosen as an alternative to prevent revolution of the masses. It was a double standard, one for the individuals, and one for progressivism; one for the rich and one for the poor. From the origin of the Main Impersonal Force would come the birth of a Myth (The American Dream) to strengthen the Red, the White, and the Blue, and give a continuing influx of internal Hope for a better tomorrow. Using revolution as an example and allowing progress through industrialization, it would produce or introduce a family of new Hope, allowing subordination-ism, of the Impersonal Forces, dependent and reliant on the existence of the Main Impersonal Force, to guide both the rich and the poor to their destiny.

For the rich it would introduce: Capitalism, and Conservatism, earned through the mastery of Behaviorism, justified through the practice of Darwinism, gained through application of Economic Expansionism, insured through Journalism, and ultimately reaffirmed through Freudianism. For the rich it would produce: Humanism as restitution for quilt, Sexism as symbol of superiority over maternal-ism.

For the poor it would introduce: Patriotism gained through citizenship,(membership) and reinforced by the Main Impersonal Force; to replace the uniqueness of man, gained through a falsified freedom and restricting common man’s free will and choice which was falsely guaranteed through their bible, the constitution; Optimism established by desire and reassured by achievements, and ultimately Consumerism (propaganda) as a reward for progressivism and Materialism as a symbol of acceptance of the religion; it would produce Populism as a voice of hope for the common man’s despair, Narcissism as an explanation to common man’s dilemma, Socialism as an alternative to struggle, Marxism as an artificial retaliation to Capitalism, Alcoholism as an escape from reality; Sexism as a means of gain through despair for submission. The Main Impersonal Force produces a force with no end, infinite. It began with Nationalism but will come to be known as Natal-ism their heritage and future (from the cradle to grave). It will lead the poor through hope and achievements to their ultimate destiny, Capitalism (the temple of the rich). It will lead the rich through expansionism into Imperialism, to convert the world to their religion through propaganda of consumerism. Our destiny has been pre-ordained, that is if we try, if we struggle, if we work hard, but only, if we conform.

In Western Europe, Industrialization was a revolution, created by the rich, the chosen, the rising upper-middle class, the bourgeoisie; it was unplanned, uncalculated. The American Industrialization, on the other hand, differed from the European counterparts, in that, the creators of this Industrialization learned from the mistakes of both the English and the French counterparts. The French Revolution was the out-come of the first attempts of this new religion to conform and convert the masses. The reign of terror that resulted was the consumption of its own creation. The resulting corruption was still fresh in minds of greedy, social elite and the entrepreneurs in the western world. To prevent the slightest threat of repetition of the French example, the American industrialization had to be calculated, predetermined, and thought-out and most of all Controlled. Before the era of Industrialization could be entered, the slaves had to be freed, given hope and token justice. Education for the masses had to be forced, thus, allowing for conditioning of The American Dream through the mandatory school systems and Behaviorism. When Industrialization hit America, the common people had been prepared; they had hope for a better tomorrow; they were willing to work hard to get ahead, to build a better future, if not for themselves, their children.

A laissez-faire Conservatism predominated. Economic Expansion of railroads made it possible. Factories and industries sprung up almost overnight; people moved to the cities. Journalism capitalized with propaganda. Immigrants swarmed into America, seeking The American Dream giving the factories a steady over-abundant supply of fresh cheap-labor, paving the way for what was to still to come. The cities became The Jungle where the name of the game was survival, survival of the fittest, Social Darwinism.

The Impersonal Forces were guided by the rich, the social elite, as they sat back in their easy-chairs, read The Wall Street Journal and made decisions on investment risks, i.e., which common man protecting his materialism with a corporate image appeared most profitable and would gather more souls to be converted.

Buying and selling stock in his religion was his trade now, not slaves, but converters. Giving the magic ingredient, hope to the middle-class was their glory towards converting the common man. The ruthlessness employed in the struggle upward by the rising upper-middle class insured a quick return on their investments.

With Carnegie’s contribution of The Gospel of Wealth, and Spencer’s contribution of the social economic application of Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution, Social Darwinism, what more could the chosen ask. The off-spring of Calvinism, a step child of the Catholic Church, the chosen ones, the rich, the social elite, need only to keep control. With an influx of the magic ingredient (Hope), the Impersonal Forces, would divert, divide, conquer, and convert the struggling common man; he would deny his own values to survive the Hell of his existence. Proficiency in psychology was the key to manipulation (a natural inherent quality in woman, maternal-ism); the hidden secrets in history are the clue to the existence and goals of Paternalism.

The founders effectively changed the values of man from Oneness using capitalistic theology as basic knowledge and replacing it with Sameness, A concept of Partnership, in marriage, in work, in all endeavors giving man, Materialism, Narcissism, Alcoholism, Sexism, Darwinism, justifying the Paternalism“ of the Gospel of Wealth, the form of slavery that is so nice to society and murderous to the common man in The Jungle in the process. The Psychological knowledge of Behaviorism has helped the founders of Capitalism to shape Nationalism as their Idol through worship of a false religion. The fruit of the labor and the blood, sweat, and tears and suffering of the common man allowed the capitalistic society to flourish. The Jewish German, Sigmund (Sex) Freud, based his concept of psychology on Capitalism, called Freudianism; it so conveniently complimented Capitalism that it would become a temporary substitute for the Love of Man, parol evidence, to the Love of God.

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An Outcast of Progress: An Analysis of Joseph Conrad’s “The Outpost of Progress”

By Trudy A. Martinez

A civilized society’s failure can be seen in Joseph Conrad’s short story, “An Outpost to Progress”. The story serves as a window to gaze out upon the progressive deterioration of two men; while at the same time glaring back as a reflection upon the society that produces them. The two white men, Kayerts and Carlier, had not been prepared with an assortment of faculties required to achieve the goals of their employer and society. Nor did the “…men realize [as Conrad said] that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, [were] only the expression of their belief . . . in the safety of their surroundings [their society]. The courage, the composure, the confidence, the emotions, and principles every insignificant thought [belongs] not to [them as] individual[s] but to the crowd [their society] “. (210)

In other words, Kayerts and Carlier’s faculties are fixed and deficient because their society places limitations upon them. Under these circumstances, the men are unable to cope with the diversities of the wilderness; hence, they become the outcasts of progress, destined for failure; and accordingly, the society that produces them unknowingly issues their death sentence. Thereby, it may be said, they are left to the mercy of their new surroundings, unprepared for the new freedoms suddenly placed upon them.

What is convincingly striking about the new freedoms that are suddenly placed upon Kayerts and Carlier is the freedoms give them both an immense amount of leisure time, time they spend in an imaginary world discussing the “plots and parsonages” of some “wrecks of novels” their predecessor left. The characters in these novels became their friends; and thereby, the topic of their conversations (as scandalmonger’s) and their vacuous judgments and suspicions. In the story, Conrad conveys all these things about the two men, and he adds that the men are “filled with indignation” from the “[discounting of] virtues, [suspecting of] motives, [descrying of] successes…or the [doubting of] courage (212-213). Carlier considers the virtues of the people in the books they read as utter “nonsense”; whereas, Kayerts said, “…I had no idea there were such clever fellows in the world”(Conrad 213) They also discover an old “home paper [that] spoke of. . . the rights and duties of civilization, of the sacredness of the civilizing work,…the merits of those who went about bringing light, and faith, and commerce to the dark places of the earth” (Conrad 213). The paper speaks of well-educated, independent men of status who seek gain through “Colonial Expansion”, imperialism. In contrast, Kayerts and Carlier are not of this caliber; they are not imperialistic nor are they working towards increasing colonial expansion. Their director even considers them “useless men”, left in the wilderness to care for a “useless station” (Conrad 210).

Nevertheless, the men take pride in the writing they find in the “home paper” and begin to gain a sense of self-worth. The extension of the awareness of a self-worth benefit can be seen in Carlier’s resulting action. “[He] went out and replanted [a] cross” that stands above the grave of their predecessor (Conrad 213). But this endeavor is the only positive action taken. Conrad makes it obvious from the first day of their arrival that the men have no immediate objective thought in the simple apprehension of their own reality.

Evidence to the fact there is an absence of a sense of reality presents itself through the importance the men place upon beautifying of their new home with pretty window dressings, an attempt they make to make themselves comfortable in their new surroundings. Conrad says, this is an “impossible task” because “they could only live on the condition of machines, incapable of independent thought” (211). In other words, they require repetitious work under supervision with conditions that leave them unable to choose alternatives.

As a subsequent result of their inability to choose alternatives, the men lack initiative. Confirmation of their lack of initiative is made by their statement that they came to the Outpost only because of others in their life, not entirely of their own free will. Carlier gives credit to his brother-in-law for his presence. Whereas, Kayerts said, “If it weren’t for my [daughter], you wouldn’t catch me here” (Conrad 211).

Perhaps then, the men make no progress because they are prisoners with no conception or knowledge of alternative options; and as a result, they are forced to remain within the confines and rules of the society. These facts are the major contributor to the reason why Kayerts and Carlier are unable to adapt or cope with their new environment, and the resulting reason why they lack initiative.

Consequently, the two men find it necessary to rely heavily upon another man, Makola, “a Sierra Leone nigger”. This man “worshiped evil spirits” and “despised the two white men” who are “left unassisted to face the wilderness”(Conrad 209-210) Because of the heavy reliance the two men place on the “Sierra Leone nigger”, an illumination of a conflicting perspective is cast on the story through Makola’s minor role. He does not share the White man’s contemplation that the world will improve merely by the white man’s presence.

Instead, Makola works hard proving the white men unworthy and ridding the wilderness of them. Indirectly through a trading maneuver, Makola works toward doing away with their presence. The trading plan, the slave trading of ten men (men that Makola also considers worthless because they are lazy like the white men and do nothing to improve the station) is his method of accomplishing his goal. When a few natives of a neighboring village get caught up in the slave trade, the neighboring village chief bans trade with the trading post. The two white men are “… [to be] left alone with their weakness” so they can “…disappear into the earth” like their predecessor (Conrad 219-220).

To be sure of their demise, Makola has only to gain the white man’s acceptance of the evil deceitful trade he makes. So, he places his dependence on vice and greed in his efforts to sway the white man’s deteriorating values away from the virtues of civilization. Once the two men accept vice as a method of gain over virtue, they get an “inarticulate feeling something within them is gone, something that worked for their safety” (Conrad 219). Then, they become fearful and distraught, totally dependent upon their own deficient faculties in a struggle for survival (The men effectively strip themselves of the values they previously clung to). Finally, Kayerts and Carlier come to be distrusting of each other, quarreling over any minuet trivial. In essence, they turn into savages. Failure after failure besets them.

All in all, because “society…had forbidden the two white men]…all independent thought, all initiative, all departure from routine; and [had forbade these virtues]…under pain of death” (Conrad 211), society did an injustice to the men. Since the same virtues, the same freedoms forbidden within society are necessary for survival in the wilderness; society does not fulfill an ultimate duty bestowed upon it. Freedom is the necessary ingredient closely entwine with the individual faculty of the men that enables them to grow, to change, to adapt, and to blend in the wild. To put it differently, the necessary faculties, had they been present, may have provided the confidence and courage the men needed to succeed and to survive. But because the two white men are lacking these elements, in addition to the capability of independent thought, they come to be the outcasts of progress and a reflection that glares back upon the society that produces them.

Thus when the meaningless death of Carlier emphasizes the extent of the deterioration of the two men’s values Conrad says, “…life had no more secrets. . . So justice [has to] be done” (222-223); and Kayerts, in his last act, takes an initiative to see justice reign supreme. He straps himself to the cross, the same cross Carlier replants in his brief display of self-worth. And then, Kayerts crucified himself in defiance of his employer and of his society. The director, who thought of both men as useless, is now facing his own indignation through the display of a method of justice. Kayerts is “standing rigidly at attention…with… [his]…tongue” stuck out seemingly addressing “his Managing Director” (Conrad 224). “Progress [was] calling to [him] from the river. Progress and civilization and all the virtues. Society [was] calling to its accomplished child…to be judged…it [was] calling [Kayerts] to return [but he was not willing to return] to the “rubbish heap” of the society that inadvertently brought him to his ruin. (Conrad 223).


Conrad, Joseph. “An Outpost of Progress”. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. Second Edition. New York: Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1990. 208-224