Gulliver's Travels," "Tartuffe," "Madame Bovary," "The Death of Ivan Ilyich," & "Things Fall Apart"
The purpose of this paper is to introduce, discuss, and compare how the theme(s) of "Things Fall Apart" by Achebe relate to the theme and/or storylines of "Gulliver's Travels," by Swift, "Tartuffe," by Moliere, "Madame Bovary," by Flaubert, and "The Death of Ivan Ilyich" by Tolstoy. All these authors use their works to "expose and alter the fundamental moral codes that determine political systems and social mores" (Levine 136).
POLITICAL SYSTEMS AND SOCIAL MORES
Things Fall Apart," by Chinua Achebe is a novel about an African family named Okonkwo, who try to fit in to the white man's society. However, their own society was balanced, happy, and complete, and they did not really need to fit in with the white man. When they did, it ultimately destroyed their society, and way of life.
Gulliver's Travels," by Jonathan Swift, carries on this theme of moral codes and social mores in detail. In the novel, Gulliver lives through four different adventures, in four different lands, governed by four very different societies. He can see each type of government in microcosm, and discover what works with each plan, and what does not. He sees the weaknesses of humanity, and their systems and codes that influence us all. "He knew no reason why those who entertained opinions prejudicial to the public should be obliged to change, and should not be obliged to conceal them. And as it was tyranny in any government to require the first, so it was weakness not to enforce the second; for a man may be allowed to keep poisons in his closet, but not to send them about for cordials" (Swift).
Madame Bovary," by Gustave Flaubert, takes this theme to a different level. Madame Bovary is a very unhappy woman, who tries to solve her problems by having affairs and spending too much money. She wants to become a respected member of the "upper class," but she is not, and never will fit in to that social level. The social mores of her time dictated who you were by how much money you had, and instead of making her life better, she makes it worse. "However, a great many of her expensive ideas she kept to herself. For example, she never said anything about her longing to have a smart blue tilbury to take her to Rouen, with an English horse and a groom in top-boots" (Flaubert). When she takes her life, she condemns her daughter to a life of poverty in the…
Sources Used in Document:
Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary: Life in a Country Town. Trans. Gerard Hopkins. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Grossman, Debra. "SparkNotes on Gulliver's Travels." SparksNotes.com. 2002. http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/gulliver
Levine, Alan. "Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart as a Case Study in Nietzsche's Transvaluation of Values." Perspectives on Political Science 28.3 (1999): 136-141.