Family:' Familial Love in Literature Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

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"A Good Man is Hard to Find" ends with the family being executed by the Misfit, a murderous outlaw. Although O'Connor's story is evidently supposed to be humorous, it gives the reader pause to note that the family will die without ever exchanging a kind word. There are different types of family violence: the somewhat positive violence of the Roethke poem that makes the boy adore his father at the expense of his mother vs. The carelessness and cruelty in the O'Connor story, which arises as a result of a lack of respect and the superficiality of the modern family. Family relationships do not necessarily create a state of understanding. In the story, the most transcendent moment of grace occurs between two strangers, before one kills the other, as physical violence makes the grandmother appreciate her time on earth. "His voice seemed about to crack and the grandmother's head cleared for an instant. She saw the man's face twisted close to her own as if he were going to cry and she murmured, 'Why you're one of my babies. You're one of my own children!'"

In O'Connor's universe, this type of harsh mutual understanding is more profound than the relationships of the grandmother's biological children. Family is a divine state in which all human beings can participate, in O'Connor's view, and too much emphasis on biological ties and loyalty can come at the expense of true spiritual understanding that we are all part of the same human family. When someone is ostracized from the human family, then they become violent like the Misfit; when family members take one another for granted then emotional violence and callousness is the result.

In William Shakespeare's Hamlet, it is the main character's father who demands blood vengeance from his son. "If thou didst ever thy dear father love" says Hamlet's father, demanding that Hamlet kill his uncle Claudius in just retribution for taking his brother's life (I.5). Hamlet is bound, according to custom to take on the role of an avenger. Family obligations demand that Hamlet act in a violent fashion. But this places Hamlet in conflict with his obligations to the rest of humanity, and also to his duty to be a loyal son to his mother and a good nephew and Danish subject to his uncle. Shakespeare suggests that one family crime causes a breakdown of all of society -- because Claudius kills Hamlet's father and marries his brother's wife, Denmark is ultimately destroyed. The closeness of the family unit causes Claudius to jealously desire a woman, whom he should not and causes Hamlet to hate and eventually kill his king, his uncle, because he is also the man who murdered Hamlet's father.

The messiness of the family ties in Hamlet may be extreme, but the levels of emotion of the play and the difficult relationships have parallels in almost all families marred by divorce and discord, even today. That is why Shakespeare's play remains so powerful. Even the joy of Roethke's waltz is not without its scars, and the tragedy of a family that never talked to one another and took each other for granted in O'Connor is made even starker by the fact that the grandmother and the Misfit exchange more loving words than any of the family members in the tale.

Works Cited

O'Connor, Flannery. "A Good Man is Hard to Find." UCF. December 8, 2009.

http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~surette/goodman.html

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. MIT Classics: Shakespeare Home Page. December 8, 2009

http://shakespeare.mit.edu/hamlet/index.html

Roethke, Theodore. "My Papa's Waltz."

http://gawow.com/roethke/poems/43.html

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

O'Connor, Flannery. "A Good Man is Hard to Find." UCF. December 8, 2009.

http://pegasus.cc.ucf.edu/~surette/goodman.html

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. MIT Classics: Shakespeare Home Page. December 8, 2009

http://shakespeare.mit.edu/hamlet/index.html

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