Realism Some Literary Critics and Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

The other qualities of a superior being remained forbidden thus making the reality of their imperfect world even more difficult to bare.

Borges used the invisible reality in his short stories to speculate on some themes that were on people's minds since the beginning of human civilization. He used his writing skills to create a work of fiction that made the world of existential questions possessing men's minds became real to the contemporary reader.

If the invisible reality in Borges' stories represents the literary translations of the universal questions on people's minds since the beginning of the human civilization, the ghosts in Henry James' Turn of the Screw seem the representation of one's own fears, illusions, repressed feelings and imagination that is allowed to run wild. A potentially gothic story told in the evening of Christmas Eve is full of magic and scary at the same time. It is not suitable for the event, since Christmas is a moment of magic and beauty and although it has its secrets, there is nothing dark or spooky about it. The contrast is suitable for the human mind that has its dark corners even in the most bright places.

It is obvious that the field of psychology has its deep influence on James' writings. Kafka, Borges and James could not escape the temptations of exploring the human mind in its wonderful intricacies.

Humanity has appeared to need the world of fantasies in order to escape the ugliness of reality, or on the contrary, to enrich its experiences through dreadful stories instead of living the real things. Those very ghosts are the reflection of the human mind and of all those dark deep secrets that one does not dare to utter to another human being. The context in the Turn of the Screw allows the narrator to play with the reader and to suggest possible variations of the truth. The story teller will never indicate the reality in its entirety and the reader will always have the chance to find portions of his own reflections in one character or another or, in a certain situation. There is no right or wrong in the book, there is only a very complicated and deep connection between the characters. The governess who is hired by the handsome bachelor to take care of his nephew and niece could be the victim of a cruel person who sits above all the rest and enjoys playing with innocent people's minds or she could be as cruel as it gets and play with them herself. but, the issue of fantasy vs. reality becomes secondary to the issue of obsession. Obsession, no matter what form it may take, proves to be as destructive as any monster claiming for a life. The governess is obsessed with the children's relationship with the two ghosts she is seeing at Bly.

The theme of love is only the pretext for the story teller to tell her story through the mouth of a man who was, at his turn, in love wit her. The temptation to reduce everything to some prefabricated and easy to swallow contexts is cleared from the very beginning when the narrator answers the impatient audience's questions: " "Who was it she was in live with?" "The story will tell," I took upon myself to reply"..."The story won't tell" said Douglas; "not in any literal vulgar way." "(James, 9).

The narrator suggests that the twenty-year-old girl who came to London to answer an advertisement fell in love with her employer: "a bachelor in the prime of life, such a figure as had never risen, save in a dream or an old novel, before a fluttered, anxious girl out of a Hampshire vicarage."(James,11). But the very words describing him anticipate his lack of weight in the context of the whole story. He could be just the product of her vivid imagination and a pretext for her needs to fantasize. The description of the gentlemen goes further and it seems to never run out of appreciative words. The description creates the impression of a patch work made of pieces taken from different novels whose main characters were having some of the characteristics James' narrator exposes to the audience. The acute feeling of unrealism is enhanced by the impression that the author has taken the main characters from different novel of the universal literature and put together some of their most important features to create his own unrealistic and almost absent character.

Flora and Miles, the two children who need to be looked after and the reason for which the twenty-year-old governess goes to Bly are presented through their uncle's words as too small and thus ignorant of every harsh reality. but, as the rest of the novel will prove, physical beauty is not necessarily doubled by innocence and inner beauty. The children may not be evil, but they are most certainly not as innocent as they are presented by their uncle at the beginning.

The audience left to listen to the young governess' story is suggested to be a chosen one. The people who could understand the meanings of such a story share the awareness of their obsessions, fears, limitations and even of the dangers they expose themselves when allowing a dream or a fear to prologue more than the common sense should dictate it was appropriate. The governess in James' story will pay for her inability to stop from obsessing with the death of one of the children she was supposed to take care of and protect.

The delineation between fantasy, magic an horror is exposed as a very sensible line that can be easily crossed and thus transformed into a destruction mean for those who are not aware of their own faults.

The magic realism in Kafka's Metamorphosis becomes easier to decipher in the context of the human condition in the modern times. A man wakes up one day and finds out he became a bug. The ugly, disgusting creature everyone fears and runs away from has crept under one's skin and became one with the person. It looks like a punishment for someone who did not deserve it. A hardworking man who craved human interaction and feared the empty relationships established through short and meaningless human contact found himself in the form of a bug one day. The most striking feature at the beginning of the short story is that Gregor, the man who lives with his family and wakes up to be a bug one morning is fighting his limitations as a bug. The most simple movements from a human being's point-of-view become heroic acts from a bug's perspective. It takes the man inside the bug quite a long time to realize he could ask for help to his own family in order to get out of bed. Kafka's hero who is locked behind the door of his own room in his parents' house is similar to those young Japanese who lock themselves up in their rooms because they cannot cope with the society anymore. The alienation is the main theme in many Kafkian stories, just as it is in the stories of the authors who embraced the magic realism. The similarity between the situation some young Japanese are going through today with what Gregor is experiencing is striking. He looses control over his own body and he cannot speak the same language as those around him, when in fact, his interior thoughts are spoken in the language everybody else uses. The process of alienation grows and Gregor's family becomes more and more estranged to him. Not only the society rejects what he became, but his own family is incapable to understand anything. The grow worlds apart and seem unable to find a solution. "Since they could not understand him, no one, not even his sister, thought that he might be able to understand others, and thus, when his sister was in her room, he had to be content with listening now and then to her sighs and invocations to the saints" (Kafka). The society Gregor's family lives in gives him no chance to return to his former identity and he will eventually dry out and die. His own family will go on dreaming and living as if there was no Gregor before.

Haruki Murakami is a contemporary writer whose novels and short stories are full of the enigmas of magic realism. His characters always end up in evading in a parallel world. The short story "The Elephant Vanishes" is disclosing a contradiction in terms right from its title. A huge creature who vanishes appears to express the displacement and the imbalance that creates a hiatus in one's existence. Murakami's short story is the expression of another effect obsessions have on people and their relationships. "While we spoke, I thought seriously about inviting her out for dinner, but I…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited

Borges, Jose Luis. Labyrinths. Slected Stories & Other Writings. Retrieved: Oct 22, 2008. Available at

James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw. 1st World Publishing, 2004.

Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Kessinger Publishing, 2004

Kundera, Milan. The Book of laughter and Forgetting. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 1999

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