Toni Morrison's Beloved Throughout the novel Beloved, there are numerous and many obvious reoccurring themes and symbols. While the story is based off of slavery and the aftermath of the horrible treatment of the slaves, it also breaches the subject of the supernatural. It almost seems like the novel itself is haunted. It is even named after the ghost. To further the notion of hauntings, the characters are not only haunted by Beloved at 124, but they are haunted by their past, and the novel is not only about ridding their home of the ghost, but releasing their hold on what had happened to them in worse times.
The Bold but Unsuccessful Beloved
Toni Morrison's fifth novel, Beloved, a vividly unconventional family saga, is set in Ohio in the mid 1880s. By that time slavery had been shattered by the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation and the succeeding constitutional amendments, though daily reality for the freed slaves continued to be a matter of perpetual struggle, not only with segregation and its attendant insults, but the curse of memory.
Morrison's heroine, Sethe, is literally haunted - by the baby daughter she killed in a gesture of terrible mercy, when threatened with recapture after her escape. Though robbed of friends by the poltergeist, she is living in the survivor's state of stunned calm until one of her fellow slaves from Kentucky turns up on her doorstep after eighteen years.
Beloved is a movie full of pain, love, and triumph. This film is constructed and created from the works of Toni Morrison’s novel. Beloved can be considered a ghost tale based on how the main character Beloved magically appears and disappears with no warning signs. The movie takes place in the summer of 1865 in Ohio at 124 Bluestone Road in a little white house on a plate of land.
In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, love proves to be a dangerous and destructive force. Upon learning that Sethe killed her daughter, Beloved, Paul D warns Sethe “Your love is too thick” (193). Morrison proved this statement to be true, as Sethe’s intense passion for her children lead to the loss of her grasp on reality. Each word Morrison chose is deliberate, and each sentence is structured with meaning, which is especially evident in Paul D’s warning to Sethe. Morrison’s use of the phrase “too thick”, along with her short yet powerful sentence structure make this sentence the most prevalent and important in her novel. This sentence supports Paul D’s side on the bitter debate between Sethe and he regarding the theme of love. While Sethe asserts that the only way to love is to do so passionately, Paul D cites the danger in slaves loving too much. Morrison uses a metaphor comparing Paul D’s capacity to love to a tobacco tin rusted shut. This metaphor demonstrates how Paul D views love in a descriptive manner, its imagery allowing the reader to visualize and thus understand Paul D’s point of view. In this debate, Paul D proves to be right in that Sethe’s strong love eventually hurts her, yet Paul D ends up unable to survive alone. Thus, Morrison argues that love is necessary to the human condition, yet it is destructive and consuming in nature. She does so through the powerful diction and short syntax in Paul D’s warning, her use of the theme love, and a metaphor for Paul D’s heart.
Beloved is the story of Sethe, a woman escaped from slavery. Shortly after her escape, members from the plantations on which she worked came to take her and her four children back to the plantation. In desperation, Sethe kills her young daughter by cutting her throat, and attempts to murder her other three children in order to prevent them from returning to slavery. The majority of the film is about the revisitation of the ghost of the daughter she killed, named Beloved. The ghost returns in the form of a woman who would be the daughter's age if she were alive at the time, approximately twenty years old. Throughout the rest of the film Beloved begins to absorb all of the attention and energy of those around her, especially her mother. This continues to the point where Sethe has lost her job and spent all of her money buying things to please Beloved. Ultimately, the...
From the beginning, Beloved focuses on the import of memory and history. Sethe struggles daily with the haunting legacy of slavery, in the form of her threatening memories and also in the form of her daughter’s aggressive ghost. For Sethe, the present is mostly a struggle to beat back the past, because the memories of her daughter’s death and the experiences at Sweet Home are too painful for her to recall consciously. But Sethe’s repression is problematic, because the absence of history and memory inhibits the construction of a stable identity. Even Sethe’s hard-won freedom is threatened by her inability to confront her prior life. Paul D’s arrival gives Sethe the opportunity and the impetus to finally come to terms with her painful life history.
On page 35 you can see how Denver lost her childhood by trying to escape from the loneliness of 124 by going into her Emerald Closet, which is a place in the bushes to not be alone anymore which basically contradicts with it “...Denver’s imagination produced its own hunger and its own food, which she badly needed because loneliness wore her out” (Morrison 35). She tries to escape her loneliness by going to the “Emerald Closet” even though it actually contradicts which saying that the “Emerald Closet” is the only real home for her. The fact that she is not able to develop her own real identity leads her to get isolated and becoming an easy victim for Beloved. In Chapter 4, Paul D, Sethe, and Denver are going to a carnival which is one of the first events in Denver`s live where she is actually able to have fun “Denver was swaying with delight” (Morrison 59). Denver is being happy the first time in many years because Paul D is able to make a new beginning in 124. Beloved actually feels that the residents of 124 are starting to forget about her so she is going to make an appearance to remind them of her presence. The haunting of Sethe’s past spills Denver’s present by not letting other people forget about Sethe’s actions which leads them to treat Denver like an outcast “But the thing that leapt up to her when he asked it was a thing that had been lying there all along” (Beloved 121). Sethe’s past destroys Denver’s only joy in her life and that is to be in school. Denver´s inexperience of social events leads her to not tell on Beloved because the first time in her life she has a friend and she is not planning on losing
In her novel Beloved, Toni Morrison writes about the life of former slaves of Sweet Home. Sethe, one of the main characters, was once a slave to a man and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Garner. After Garner’s sudden death, schoolteacher comes to Sweet Home and takes control of the slaves. His treatment of all the slaves forced them to run away. Fearing that her children would be sold, Sethe sent her two boys and her baby girl ahead to her mother-in-law. On the way to freedom, a white girl named Amy Denver helped Sethe deliver her daughter, who she later names Denver. About a month after Sethe escapes slavery, schoolteacher found her and tried to bring her back. In fear that her children would be brought back into slavery, Sethe killed her older daughter and attempted to kill Denver and her boys. Sethe, along with Denver, was sent to prison and spent three months there. Buglar and Howard, her two sons, eventually ran away. After about eighteen years, another ex-slave from Sweet Home, Paul D., came to live with Sethe and Denver. A few days later, while coming home from a carnival, Sethe, Paul D., and Denver found a young woman of about twenty on their porch. She claimed her name is Beloved. They took her in and she lived with them. Throughout the novel, Morrison uses many symbols and imagery to express her thoughts and to help us better understand the characters. Morrison uses the motif of water throughout the novel to represent birth, re-birth, and escape to freedom.
Beloved had many obscenities, such as, murder, raw language, sexual harassment, and other unwanted sexual advances but they are what made the novel what it is. The murder that Sethe commits is gruesome but a very huge part of the story. The following quote from the novel is the depiction of the murder scene in which Sethe performs a grotesque murder on her own daughter and injures her two boys in order to keep them from a life in slavery. "Inside, two boys bled in the sawdust and dirt at the feet of a nigger woman holding a blood-soaked child to her chest with one hand and an infant by the heels in the other. She did not look at them; she simply swung the baby toward the wall planks, missed and tried to connect a second time, when out of nowhere- in the ticking time the men spent staring at what there was to stare at- the old nigger boy, still mewing, ran through the door behind them and snatched the baby from the arch of its mother's swing.
As much as society does not want to admit, violence serves as a form of entertainment. In media today, violence typically has no meaning. Literature, movies, and music, saturated with violence, enter the homes of millions everyday. On the other hand, in Beloved, a novel by Toni Morrison, violence contributes greatly to the overall work. The story takes place during the age of the enslavement of African-Americans for rural labor in plantations. Sethe, the proud and noble protagonist, has suffered a great deal at the hand of schoolteacher. The unfortunate and seemingly inevitable events that occur in her life, fraught with violence and heartache, tug at the reader’s heart-strings. The wrongdoings Sethe endures are significant to the meaning of the novel.