What Tragedy Reveals About the Human Spirit
What Tragedy Reveals About Human Spirit
A tragedy is defined as a situation or event that causes an individual great suffering, sadness or distress. The suffering inflicted on the person may be physical, emotional, psychological or a combination of two or more of these aspects. Tragedies may bring out the best or the worst in us depending on how we react which is dictated by our personality.
The Great Gatsby and The Handmaid’s Tale are both set in a historical period when there is a transition and with the various changes occurring, different characters in the two books come face to face with tragedies in form of losing what was dear to them or being under oppression. As such, the different characters adjust their lives to cope with the post-tragedy life. Various similarities and differences are observed in the review of tragedies about the human spirit in these two books. This essay discusses the nature of the human spirit in the face of tragedy as brought out in the two novels.
When faced with tragedy, it is in the human spirit’s nature to adjust to survive or overcome the tragedy. In many cases, the adjustments involve going against what would be considered normal. In The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby encounters the tragedy of losing the love of his life, Daisy after he enlisted in the military. It seems to him that he would stand a chance of winning her back and subsequently ease his suffering if he accumulates wealth, thus lead him into dealing in alcohol illicitly. An otherwise upright man turns into crooked ways in the hope of salvaging what tragedy took away from him.
In the novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred is separated from her husband as soon as the Republic of Gilead is formed. In her pain inflicted by this loss, she is offered to have an illegal affair with Nick in exchange for updates on the well-being of her daughter. The offer gives her hope of reducing her suffering, and therefore she takes it. The guilty of being unfaithful to her husband is not enough to stop her from proceeding with what seems to be her only glimpse of hope of hearing about her daughter. In the two instances, we see the gullible nature of the human spirit when offered a little hope during tragedies.
During tragedies, the caring nature of humans is also highlighted as they strive to protect those that they love or are dear to them. After the affair between Gatsby and Daisy is revealed, Tom orders the two to go together to Gatsby’s home. On the way, they knock and kill a woman with the car. Despite the fact that it was Daisy driving, Gatsby chooses to take responsibility and confess to the police department that it was his fault and saves Daisy from what would have been a tough case.
After a going for a while, the relationship between Offred and the commander became known to the commander’s wife, Serena Joy. The commander’s previous handmaid had allegedly committed suicide after it had been revealed that she had an affair with the command. Knowing the consequences that Offred would face as a punishment for her mistakes, her lover sneaks her out of the home into zones that had been set aside for the lawbreakers and were now under the rule of the rebels; a zone that Nick knew too well would be safe for Offred.
In the face of tragedy, the human spirit tends to be enduring. However, the endurance usually wears off with time and the rebellious side to what it deems to be the cause of its suffering is revealed. Moira, a friend of Offred, feels her rights as a lesbian are being violated under the new rule. She chooses to go against these laws and defy the homophobic nature of the society at that time in history. When the law catches up with her, and she is placed as a handmaid, the rebellious nature of her human spirit is revealed again as she chooses to steal and run away. Eventually, this leads her to working in a prostitutes’ brothel.
The natives in The Handmaid’s Tale also could not endure forever. They eventually reached their breaking point and formed a resistance movement, Mayday resistance, with the intention of overthrowing the Gilead government.
In the book, The Great Gatsby, Daisy’s husband has an affair with Myrtle Wilson. After she’s knocked dead by Gatsby’s car, her husband George, assumes that the owner of the car is the man having an affair with her. Due to the grief he can’t control himself and follows the car to Gatsby’s home where he shoots Gatsby and later also shoots himself. The tragedy that had befallen him leads him to make drastic and illogical moves.
In conclusion, the two books are full of characters that were faced with tragedies and the tragedies brought out the different aspect of their human spirit. The characters’ reaction to their misfortunes may seem very different at a glance but on closer look there are many similarities on what the low moments push them to do.
Bouson, J. Brooks. The Handmaid’s Tale. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2010. Print.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott, and Matthew J Bruccoli. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1996. Print.