Hope and Despair in Poetry

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The dictionary definition of hope is ‘a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment.’ The meaning of despair according to the dictionary is ‘the utter loss of hope.’ So we can see how these two terms are related.

In Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” the first time we see Tomas go through both of these emotions is when he dealing with the issue of his son. After his divorce he has some hope that he will remain a part of his son’s life with scheduled visits. However, when his ex repeatedly cancels these visits he loses all this hope and is in a state of despair and then decides that he will no longer see or speak to his son again.

For the longest time in the beginning of the relationship between Tereza and Tomas, Tereza felt despair in that Tomas would give up his ‘erotic friendships.’ Her emotions were so strong that she left her husband and returned to Prague. Tomas realized his love for her soon after and returned to be with her.

These feelings also became a part of Franz and his affiliation with Sabina. Franz could not live with lies and told his wife of his infidelities wit Sabina. After doing this he felt lighter and had hope for a future with Sabina. He hoped that she would replace his wife and they would be together. Sabina rejected this idea and decided that upon their return from their vacation weekend she would leave town without a word to Franz. Later when Franz has been kicked out of his home, he searches for Sabina to find her things being moved out of her home without a mention of where she has gone. At this point he is in absolute despair and has no hope of a future neither with Sabina nor with his wife. He has lost all hope of what the future will be.

“The Visit” by Durrenmatt is a story of hope. A small European town is rather poor and looks somewhat shabby and devastated. The richest woman in the world comes to the town and makes an incredible offer of a large sum of money if justice is brought to her. This offer of money brings much hope to the townspeople of a prosperous future and to bring them out of their poverty-stricken state.

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"Hope and Despair in Poetry." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Mar 2018
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The catch is that killing a man, who is a rather popular among the townspeople, can only bring about the justice. The residents reject this offer at first but as they realize the prosperity that can be brought about they realize they must go through with the sacrifice. This man soon realizes their plot and has lost all hope of fighting them away and gives into them. The people’s hopes and dreams come to light as the despair of this man is reached.

“Araby”, by James Joyce tells about a young boy who is infatuated with a young girl who lives across the street from him. He spends much time spying on her from his house peering through the blinds. He has hopes that, in time, he may have some sort of acquaintance with her. To further this dream along, he assures her that he will get her something from the bazaar. As he waits for his uncle to come home so he can go, it gets later and later and he worries that he will not make it there before the bazaar closes. When he gets there, most of the stalls have already closed and there is not much to choose from for a fitting gift. His despair of some chance for a friendship with this girl has increased.

The soldier in Babel’s “My First Goose” seems to be a man filled with much hope from the beginning. However, as he is sent to his new camp his hope is soon turned to despair. The other men in the camp start harassing the man and his belongings are thrown about. When he is hungry he is made to kill his own food, this gains respect from the other men. They ask him to join them to eat the food they have and he soon has new hope for a growing relationship with these men.

Montale’s “The Lemon Trees,” talks of a place full of orchards of lemon trees and birds and unending blue skies. This place is an area full of hope, full of riches for the poor. At the other end there is place that is a mistake of nature, the clamorous cities. It is a place full of despair, where the blue sky only appears in patches. But within these cities one may come across a court with a lemon tree and hope can enter their heart.

In Milosz’s “My Faithful Mother Tongue,” the native land is the thing that supports the hopes of those who reside there. In order to keep theses hopes from turning to despair those who come from the land must support it and keep it pure.

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