Mythological and archetypal techniques coupled with the interpretation of symbolism found within a piece of literature tells the reader something about the mind and character of a people or culture. Not only does it allow you to delve deeper into this collective mind and speculate about the meaning of a particular work, it can give you something more. I believe that by using these techniques you also get a better glimpse into the main character’s state of mind. It also gives you clues as to is going on ‘behind the scenes’ that will affect the character’s mental state.
The texts I chose for this essay are Fuentes’ Aura and Thomas Ligotti’s The Last Feast of Harlequin. Both are dark tales that are full of symbolism. Interpreting some of this symbolism may tell us why the main character acts the way he does and what his mental state is throughout the story.
The main characters in both stories are similar. Both are young men who are well educated, with one who attended Harvard and the other who attended the Sorbonne in Paris. The two men are both teachers, each working on his own ‘life’s work’. Interestingly enough, neither story mentions any close family or friends the main characters might have.
Fuentes’ Aura is definitely a strange story. It is hypnotic; it draws you in with its slow, seductive style. That is how I would describe this twisted love story that ends very surprisingly. Within this story there is symbolism that helps the reader to understand it better. First, we will explore some of the symbolism that could show us there was an effect on Felipe’s mental state.
Darkness abounded in Senora Consuelo’s ...
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This approach also gives you an insight into the character’s mind and possibly answers the question of why would they do something that no other sane person would do. In Aura, some of the symbolism found throughout the story suggested that Felipe was not thinking clearly. Surely anyone else would have just left after encountering that woman and her house. In the other story, the main character’s dark side was leading him to do things he or any other outsider might not have done otherwise. Using this approach gives the reader little clues as to what might happen in the story, insight into the main character’s mental state, and a greater understanding of the story as a whole.
Fuentes, Carlos. Aura. Trans. Lysander Kemp. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1981.
Ligotti, Thomas. The Last Feast of Harlequin. The Voice of the Damned 1990.
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