Joyce Carol Oates Give Me Your Heart Analysis

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It seems as though Joyce Carol Oates clearly understands the effects of trauma since she writes about several harsh and eerie realities in her “tales of mystery and suspense” from her collection entitled Give Me Your Heart that visibly distinguish her from other writers. In this collection, Oates leaves readers' minds in turmoil and suspense as she releases her emotions by turning what we might think is the norm into something far more insane—perhaps far beyond our understanding. Oates has an obsessive and violent need for love that chills the soul as she takes her readers on an unpredictable ride through her haunted thoughts. She punches readers in the gut by using gothic and sardonic language in her stories while subtly adding a twist of her own eerie ambiguity to portray unrealistic scenarios that we, looking at the bigger picture, may indeed be able to relate to.

There are three key distinctions that distinguish Oates from other authors. The first and probably most obvious one is the fact that she always degrades men, turning them into monsters and describing them as dogs which contribute to a major theme of her collection. In her first story, “Give Me Your Heart,” the narrator writes to her ex-lover, Dr. K—, a creepy letter representing her vengeful feelings towards him for kicking her out and throwing her onto the street. She makes him out to be a horrid monster as she describes him as her “cruel, deceitful first love, who ravaged not only her virginity but her faith in humankind.” She eerily captures his attention as she states, “You entered my virginal body, you took from me my innocence, my youth, my very soul.”

Along with this story, she makes a vast statement in “Strip poker” when she depicts an innocent fourteen-yea...

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...clear that she has some sort of problem with men as we can see throughout many of her short stories, and hence the title of her collection, Give Me Your Heart, which serves as a double entendre. Men have stolen her heart and she feels it’s right to seek revenge and take “his” heart away, representing all of the men who hurt her, however it can also be interpreted as a plea for someone to love her and to give her their heart romantically as well. She accomplishes her goal of portraying love on several different levels, from unconditional to vengeful to familial, and ties them all together to address the underlying issue that love and life aren’t always the way they seem—that we should try and transcend all the wicked and all the hate and all the negative emotion that goes on in our lives, but as Joyce Carol Oates clearly depicts, it won’t be easy in the slightest.

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