Essay on Loneliness in Eleanor Rigby and Misery

Essay on Loneliness in Eleanor Rigby and Misery

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Loneliness in Eleanor Rigby and Misery         


The poem "Eleanor Rigby," written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, has a common theme with Anton Chekov's short story "Misery." They present to the reader the failure of the main characters to make any significant contact with other people. This failure results in an overwhelming sense of despair and loneliness.

In both of these works the main characters are faced with a problem they need to resolve. Their attempts to solve these problems provide a common ground that can be used to examine the success or failure of their efforts. The story "Misery" introduces Iona Potapov, a cab driver, who has just had his son die and has no one with whom he can share his grief. The poem "Eleanor Rigby" presents two characters. The first is Eleanor who craves companionship; the second is Father McKenzie who wants to win souls for God.

In both pieces there is a failure of the main characters to reach out in a manner that would bring a resolution to their problems. This invites the question, why do they fail? Part of the solution to this question lies in how the characters are presented to the reader. In "Misery," Iona tries to communicate to someone the depths of his grief, but sadly fails. The image formed is of a man, totally absorbed by his grief, crushed by the weight of his despair, to the extent that he is oblivious to the snow and deepening twilight. "Iona Potapov, the sledge-driver, is all white like a ghost. He sits on the box without stirring, bent as double as the living body can be bent." (pg. 30) In "Eleanor Rigby," Eleanor is presented as someone lost in her own fantasy. She never attempts to reach out to anyone, preferring to wait for someone to reach her. "... lives...


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... approaching. It is cold and snowing, making Iona an island of misery in a frozen ocean. The people around him are involved with life, while he is alone and absorbed by death and grief. "Eleanor Rigby" revolves around an empty church. There are few things that feel colder or more alone than an empty church, except perhaps an unmourned grave. Eleanor dies in the church and then is buried in just such a grave. "Eleanor Rigby Died in the church and was buried along with her name, Nobody came." (pg. 425)

These two pieces of literature cause the reader to grieve for the characters presented. The obvious suffering they endure when they fail to make anyone realize their pain, forces the reader to acknowledge their existence. As the poem so aptly expresses, "All the lonely people, Where do they all come from? All the lonely people, Where do they all belong?" (pg 425)

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