Duality of Love the Principle Term Paper

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But it was from the difference between us, not from the affinities and likenesses, but from the difference, that love came: and it was itself the bridge, the only bridge, across what divided us" (Le Guin).

The "love" referred to in this quotation that arose between the female Estraven and Ai stemmed from distinctions of gender, since it originated due to the attractive nature of Estraven as a woman and of Ai as a man. However, this love actually transcends mere gender, which is evinced by the fact that the love is not sexually consummated in a physical form, but is rather consummated in an unconditional form of love that is the basis of the "friendship" that arose between Ai and Estraven. This love is perhaps the ultimate expression of the loyalty and fidelity that Estraven always demonstrated towards Ai, and which now is finally reciprocated by the latter. So although gender is influential in this passage and throughout the Left Hand of Darkness, it is only noteworthy for the fact that it reinforces the novel's primary theme, that of the duality between betrayal and fidelity that the relationship between Ai and Estraven characterizes.

Further evidence for the fact that the central premise of Le Guin's novel is the duality between betrayal and loyalty and not that of male and female gender is found in an examination of other aspects of Ai's learning to trust Estraven. Aside from their experience together in the kemmer, one of the most salient of these aspects is Ai's teaching of telepathy to Estraven. There is a certain intimacy in this form of communication, in which one simply psychically "hears" a voice inside one's mind, that is fairly integral to the forming of mutual trust between the pair. Furthermore, the source of Estraven's unyielding loyalty and fidelity towards Ai is alluded to during their telepathic communication, which the following quotation strongly suggests.

…Estraven's own character…heard my voice bespeaking him as a dead man's, his brother's voice. I did not know what, besides love and death lay between him and that brother, but… whenever I bespoke… something in him winced… as if I touched a wound. So that intimacy of mind established between us was a bond, indeed, but an obscure and austere one, not so much admitting further light (Le Guin)

This quotation demonstrates that the beginning of the reciprocity of fidelity that Ai is able to summon towards Estraven actually springs from their telepathic communication. Furthermore, it underscores how intimate this communication between them is, since Estraven perceives it as his "brother's voice." This connection between Estraven's brother and Ai is highly significant, since it implies that it is because of this connection that, even on an unconscious level, that there are similarities between Ai and Estraven's dead brother. These similarities may have actually aided the latter in believing the former about his technology-spanning stories and in overlooking his immutable gender while allowing for Estraven to remain faithful to both Ai and his cause for the duration of the story. It is also noteworthy to mention that this aspect of the reinforcement of the fidelity between these two characters is not dependent upon gender at all. In that respect, it becomes all the more clearer that this tale is not actually about gender, but more about the duality between betrayal and fidelity.

In summary, the relationship between Ai and Estraven, which is integral to the plot of the Left Side of Darkness, underscores the notion that this novel is actually about the dichotomy between faithfulness and betrayal. Because Estraven believes in Ai's cause, he is labeled a traitor and exiled from his country. Estraven's faith is able to overlook the disdain that Ai has for him after his fall from grace and is responsible for attempting to warn him about his own betrayal at the hands of the inhabitants of Orgota. Through the worst of circumstances, such as Ai's imprisonment, the fidelity which the relationship between these two is based upon never falters on Estraven's part, and eventually is responsible for engendering a sense of reciprocity in Ai. Questions, conceptions, and roles of gender are used throughout this novel merely as a means of emphasizing the fact that this novel is primarily about the relationship between betrayal and love. Furthermore, a number of passages in this document and in Le Guin's novel indicate that the ultimate expression of fidelity is an unconditional love like that initially experienced by this pair in the kemmer.

Works Cited

Jordison, Sam. "Back to the Hugos: The Left Hand of Darkness by Usula K. Le Guin." The Guardian. 2010. Web. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2010/mar/25/left-hand-darkness-ursula-guin

LeFanu, Sarah. "The King is Pregnant." The Guardian. 2004. Web. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2004/jan/03/sciencefictionfantasyandhorror.ursulakleguin

Mahoney, Simon. "Le Guin, Left Hand of Darkness." The Future Fire. http://reviews.futurefire.net/2009/07/le-guin-left-hand-of-darkness-1969.html

Thea. "Book Review: The Left Hand of Darkness." The Book Smugglers. 2010. Web. http://thebooksmugglers.com/2010/01/book-review-the-left-hand-of-darkness-by-ursula-k-leguin.html

Ursula, Le Guin. The Left Hand of Darkness. New York: Ace Books. 1987. Print.

Thea. "Book Review: The Left Hand of Darkness." The Book Smugglers. 2010. Web. http://thebooksmugglers.com/2010/01/book-review-the-left-hand-of-darkness-by-ursula-k-leguin.html[continue]

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