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Pushed too Far: Effects of Desperation in Literature

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Admittedly, there always comes a day when a person becomes desperate for something, yet many know how to control such desires. However, without self-control, the effects of desperation are sadistic and detrimental. Even though people may outwardly seem “sane” and incapable of such an act, suppressed feelings of discontentment or depression can easily drive anyone to very desperate measures; such extremities are proven in the actions of Troy Maxson, Minnie Wright, Edna Pontellier, and Kurtz.

Primarily, to be coherent, the state of desperation must be defined before proceeding to the subjects that exemplify it. Although desperation is generally paired with despair as its synonym, despair is actually the leading cause of desperation. According to the Credo Reference, “The noun desperation is often applied to a reckless act that results from despair (loss of hope)” (Despair).Generally, it is denoted as “the condition of having utterly lost hope” (Desperation). Therefore, when people are considered desperate, they are said to be hopeless and on the brink of disaster.

Fences displays a character that epitomizes this state of desperation —Troy Maxson. He is distraught by the fact that, although he was a great baseball player, Troy was not accepted into the Major Leagues because of the time period. His hope for a successful life (through sports) dissipates, and depression sets in as he realizes that he will not be able to provide for his family. Readers can only notice overt signs of hopelessness in Troy when he orders Cory to stop playing football. He tells Rose that sports did not get him anywhere, but he owes everything to Gabriel’s war injury. “That’s the only way I got a roof over my head…cause of that metal plate” (Fences 1.2; 14...

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