Fantasy vs. Reality in J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace Essay

Fantasy vs. Reality in J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace Essay

Length: 1786 words (5.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Fantasy vs. Reality in J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace


J. M. Coetzee's novel Disgrace is, on the surface, the story of a wayward college professor, Dr. David Lurie, who is aging into a disrespectful decline. But this story tells of not only the strife and wrenching change that exist in the microcosm of Lurie's mind, but also the parallel themes that underlie the social, political, and ethical systems that are the reality of present day South Africa. As David Lurie interacts with people and creatures outside his normal milieu, the fault lines between his myopic view of the world and reality begin to crystallize with a disconcerting clarity.

"What goes on in your soul is dark to us... ." These words are emblematic of the willful ignorance used to justify the actions of people, governments and society in a number of unfortunate circumstances. The alienation endemic in such a phrase reinforces the notion that each of us is absolutely alone when it comes to matters of the soul. Often, this willful ignorance is the blindfold used to wrap one's conscious mind into a state of denial that permits the status quo to limp on.

If a society can be guilty of misanthropic behavior, then it must first exist on the individual level. It is in personal relationships that errors germinate and where true contrition belongs. The original context of this phrase is between Lurie and his college's disciplinary committee. Having been caught misusing his authority to seduce a young student, the professor is asked to explain. Repentance would go a long way toward absolving his sin, but he is defiant. Though it is acknowledged that "we have our weak moments, all of us, we are only human" (52), Lurie offers a confession but no contrition. As in Byron's La...


... middle of paper ...


...is Lucy who must ironically point out reality by snapping, "[W]ake up, David... this is Africa" (124). Though he seems to be coming to terms with his true identity, the loss of perceived primacy is still "humiliating." The best he can do is identify with those he had been blind to before, human and animal alike. Lucy admits they have both in fact been reduced to having nothing, "no cards, no weapons, no property, no rights, no dignity."

"Like a dog."

"Yes, like a dog." (205)

But David Lurie has learned to have and to recognize dignity despite all indications to the contrary. The animals he tends all posses it as does he; he has learned to "concentrate all his attention on the animal they are killing, giving it what he no longer has difficulty in calling by its proper name: love" (219).

Work Cited

Coetzee, J. M. Disgrace. New York: Penguin Books, 2000.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Analysis Of The Disgrace Of Melanie Isaacs Essay

- The Disgrace of Melanie Isaacs In a Post-Apartheid South Africa, J.M. Coetzee introduces us to a set of characters and their respective stories, their lives and, in them, the multiple faces of the disgrace. The novel Disgrace begins, and circulates around David Lurie, a divorced middle-aged, teacher by profession, father, lonely, and, in many aspects, a failure, one would say, although he does not recognize himself that way.   Throughout the novel, sex is shown as a symbol for power, namely with David Lurie himself, linking the idea of authority with the body, explaining his patriarchal views towards females and sex....   [tags: Sexual intercourse, J. M. Coetzee, Disgrace]

Powerful Essays
1138 words (3.3 pages)

`` Disgrace Byj.m Coetzee `` Essay

- Sexual Instinct exists in animals in order for them to reproduce and perpetuate. Animals are believed to be incapable resisting their sexual instinct. Humans though reproduce based on their desire. Evolution of human sexual desires from animal form is that “Only the human developed a different behaviour system, one which included intellectual control over the instincts.” This is seen to show that humans have a desire for sex, but we also have a control to our instinct. In the novel Disgrace by J.M Coetzee, the author states that sexual instinct is a gender construction that can be altered, and not a biological predetermined instinct....   [tags: Gender, Gender role, Gender identity, Transgender]

Powerful Essays
1170 words (3.3 pages)

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee Essay

- Report on the Novel: DISGRACE by J. M. Coetzee For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well. On Thursday afternoons he drives to Green Point. Punctually at two pm. He presses the buzzer at the entrance to Windsor Mansions, speaks his name, and enters. Waiting for him at the door of No. 113 is Soraya. This weekly rendezvous with a prostitute is the closet thing to a personal and intimate relationship Professor David Lurie has. J. M. Coetzee' novel, "Disgrace," takes place in post-apartheid South Africa....   [tags: Literary Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1836 words (5.2 pages)

Essay on Disgrace, by J. M. Coetzee

- This paper aims to investigate some aspects of postcolonialism, feminism, as well as symbolism, allegories and metaphors. For this purpose I have chosen the novel Disgrace (1999) by J.M Coetzee. The story takes place in Cape Town, in post-apartheid South Africa. David Lurie is a white man and works as a professor of English at a technical university. He is a ‘communication’ lecturer and he teaches ‘romantic literature’ too. Lurie is divorced two times already and one gets the impression that he is not really satisfied with his job....   [tags: Postcolonialism, Feminism, Black Rights]

Powerful Essays
1717 words (4.9 pages)

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee Essay

- J.M. Coetzee, a South African writer, chooses to set his novel Disgrace in the city section of Cape Town, Africa, a racially segregated era due to the aftermath of apartheid. Events including rape, women abuse, and manipulation occurred so often between the white citizens and the African American citizens in South Africa. The protagonist in the novel, David Lurie, faces many conflicts in the story such as rape and robbery when he leaves the city and moves to the country with his daughter Lucy. David Lurie learns the true meaning of disgrace both after witnessing his daughter being raped and when he rapes Melanie back in Cape Town....   [tags: african town, segregation, apartheid]

Powerful Essays
1463 words (4.2 pages)

M. Coetzee 's Disgrace Essays

- When reading J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace, before delving into the character studies interwoven in this novel, it is essential to first understand the backdrop of Apartheid as an institution. Apartheid had a socioeconomic effect on the different cultural groups in South Africa that eventually affects the main protagonists in this novel. Disgrace, a novel by J.M. Coetzee, implies that David Lurie embodies the pre-arpartheid era, while Lucy represents post-apartheid. Old South Africa is best described by Mark Uhlig, “The seeds of such violent conflict in South Africa were sown more than 300 years ago, with the first meetings of white settlers and indigenous black tribes in an unequal relationship...   [tags: Afrikaner, South Africa, Nelson Mandela]

Powerful Essays
995 words (2.8 pages)

Disgrace, by J.M Coetzee Essay

- Disgrace was written in 1999 by author J.M Coetzee. Born in South Africa in 1940, Coetzee grew up during apartheid, something that has tinged his writing to a great extent (Nobelprize.org). Disgrace is set in a post-apartheid Cape Town where the protagonist David Lurie is forced to terminate his job after Melanie, a student, files a sexual abuse claim against him. In this essay I will explore how David Lurie's own view on masculinity is affected by his idolization of Lord Byron, and how this allows him to justify his immoral actions....   [tags: The Corsair]

Powerful Essays
962 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Disgrace By Summary : ' Disgrace '

- Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee is a novel that follows the downfall of David Lurie, a South African college professor, after he loses his job for having an affair with one of his students. After being released from his position as a professor, David travels from Cape Town to the Eastern Cape to visit his daughter, Lucy. During his visit, he and Lucy encounter two men and a boy who set David on fire, rape and impregnate Lucy and rob their property. The attack causes David and Lucy’s relationship to suffer mainly due to the way that the attack alters Lucy’s personality and affections toward David....   [tags: South Africa, Black people, J. M. Coetzee]

Powerful Essays
1249 words (3.6 pages)

Essay on J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace

- The ethics of desire and shame include the main issues at the heart of Coetzee’s Disgrace. Coetzee remarks the issue of human sexual ethics in David Lurie’s desires. While some who read this novel feel distressed at David’s lack of control over his desire, David himself fairly confident in his manners. David feels no embarrasment for the actions of his manners, but rather disgrace for yielding to social pressure after taking an hypocritical apology and shame of his daughter’s raping. David claims that the relationship between Melanie lies in the ‘‘ rights of desire’’ (90)....   [tags: book/character analysis]

Powerful Essays
1475 words (4.2 pages)

Fantasy Orientation in Children Essay

- ... Half the children were told a story about a fantasy world involving an evil robot and astronauts, while the rest were told a story about two body dodging a babysitter. The basic story line was the same, retrieving an object without the villain noticing it. After the session the children were questioned to ensure whether they understood it fully. Then they were given a real life scenario to solve which required the use of same tactics as used in the story. The children who heard realistic stories were able to solve the issue much better than the ones who heard the fantasy stories....   [tags: distinguisihing reality from fantasy]

Powerful Essays
2008 words (5.7 pages)