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Discovery shapes identity. Discuss.

When a voyage to what is originally perceived as being familiar is suddenly

perceived from new perspectives, it can cause major ideational upheavals and
result in behavioural changes which shape ones identity. In The Motorcycle
Diaries by Che Guevara, and in Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, the
personas respective discoveries of their environment leads to a more profound
view of the world in which they exist and stimulates new ideas. Within The
Motorcycle Diaries, through Guevaras travels, he transforms from a traveller to
one who desires to stimulate the consciousness of the Hispanic poor, urging
them to take up the cause of revolution and grows into a passionate advocate for
social justice. Similarly in Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, Winston
Smiths fatalism, caused by the dystopia he lives in, allows him with sardonic
abandon to test the limits of the totalitarian society in an effort to achieve
freedom. He does this by unearthing the government opening, if only briefly, him
to new worlds, values, and avenues for regaining human dignity.
As Guevara travels to new places, he begins to view South America in a different
light, stimulating contrasting ideologies, and begins to shape his new
understanding of the world. When Guevara and Alberto go to Northern Chile,
they visit a copper mine called Chuquicamata and they begin to view South
America in a different light. The mountain at Chuquicamata is described as
having beauty without grace, imposing and glacial where not a single blade
of grass can grow, symbolic of the harsh conditions of the workers in the mine
there. The mountains are personified to be protecting itself from mens soulless
arms of the mechanical shovels to devour their insides: the poor die
miserably in one of the thousand traps set by nature to defend its treasures.
The stratagems that the mountain plays is emblematic of the machinations of
the institution that suppress the poor. Through the symbolism and the
personification of the mountains, Guevara becomes enlightened that, even
though free enterprise and the government have different means, they always
place individuals second. For Che Guevara, his travel throughout Chile alters his
previously held beliefs of the poor and he comes to realise the role of
government and corporations in conditions of the poor, transforming him from
being a mere traveller, into a passionate advocate for the poor.
Similarly, Winston Smith come to see the harmful facets of his government as he
views his dystopia in a different perspective, opening him to new worlds and
values. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, Winston Smith rebels against the totalitarian
control and the enforced repression in the government of Big Brother, and like
Che Guevara, Winston harbours revolutionary ideas to overthrow the
government. But he is less concerned with preaching his enlightenment to the
members of society. He selfishly focuses on his own brief liberation and
intellectual awakening. As Winston writes in his diary, he wakens to the Partys
control over history: He who controls the past controls the future. He who
controls the present controls the past trying to understand the power of history
in the present; I understand HOW, I do not understand WHY. It is only when he
writes In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and
you would have to believe it does he comes to understand that the Partys
control over history forces members of society to live in uncertainty, ignorance
and total reliance upon the Party for all information to function in the world. The
sentence 2 + 2 = 5 becomes a motif linked to a theme of psychological
conditioning that the Party is able conduct, thus Winston finds freedom when you
are capable to say that two plus two make four. Winstons resulting paranoia

and his fatalistic belief of his catch and punishment, due to the tyrannical nature
of his society, allows him to discover the authoritarian environment, challenging
the ideologies that his society is built upon. As such, he builds a new identity,
reshapes himself from thirty nine years old, frail man, to one that dreams of
As Guevara and Alberto enter the land of an Inca city, they uncover the fortress
that the city was, learning the rise and fall of the Inca Empire, and they continue
to find a new way of looking at South America. The Spaniards had conquered the
Incas and on the way destroyed their city and built their own on top of the Inca
stone foundation: The anguished Indian saw instead a cloud of churches rise,
erasing even the possibility of a proud past, as if the Incas remain, but only
under the Spaniards control. This juxtaposition between Spanish and Inca culture
is symbolic of not only Che Guevaras Spanish blood and his kinship with the
Indians, but also a representation of South America, where the poor was being
repressed by the heart of America, shuddering with indignation, but this is
ironic, as for Guevara, his Spanish roots are being repressed while his bond with
the Incas and the impoverished of South America is strengthening. Moreover,
after Kon, the Incas God, whose bestial rage for the destruction of the
abhorrent conquering race, the ultimate condemnation of the Spaniards, leaves
behind the stone blocks [that] stand enigmatically, impervious to the ravages to
time, it is symbolic of the Inca spirit to invoke a sense of positive empathy to
further illustrate the Guevaras connection with the Spanish is being challenged,
while his relationship with the indigenous people of South America is
strengthening. Thus, in Guevaras geographical discovery of the Incas, he
strengthens his indigenous identity.
With sardonic abandon, and unlike Che Guevara, Winstons optimism causes him
to boldly declare that he is a thought-criminal to OBrien, a powerful member of
the Party who Winston foolishly believes is a member of a revolutionary group
called the Brotherhood. Winstons discovery of the true reason for the Party,
causes him to hope, briefly in the liberation of Oceania through the Brotherhood
which gives him a brief respite from his sense of impending doom. OBrien, in
Winstons deluded eyes represents a powerful figure willing to overthrow the
Party, and serves as Winstons hope for a future in a place where there is no
darkness. Winston imagines meeting OBrien in a future, which one would
never see. However, unlike the haven which Winston imagined and aspires to,
he is incarcerated in a prison cell in which the lights are never turned off. A
place where there is no darkness is a symbol for Winstons illusionary future, a
dream nurtured by his willingness to trust OBrien although inwardly knowing
that OBrien is a staunch pillar of the Party. Thus, when OBrien questions
Winston It would somehow serve our interests to throw sulphuric acid in a
childs face - are you prepared to do that?, Winston replies Yes, illustrating
that Winston is no better than OBrien to gain what is right and is an anti-hero,
unlike Guevara, who is a sympathetic hero, who places himself in lethal danger
for the peasantry and the proletariat he strove to uplift. Here, Winston discovery
of the place with no darkness, while tragic, dismantles his character into one who
obeys his government.
Both Winston Smith and Che Guevara through their respective discoveries gain a
more insightful view of the world and undergo major ideational upheaval. Che
Guevaras identity is shattered as he discovers the history of the Incas and the
control of the government on the poor, but he rebuilds a new identity, and strives
to educate the poor to embrace hope offered in socialism. Winston Smith on the

other hand, discovers, as a result of his fatalism due, the true nature of the
government leading him to new understanding of the totalitarian society that he
lives in, remodelling his identity and begins his ego-centric and selfish approach
to the society in which he lived and resented merely for personal reasons.
How does a comparative study of Richard III and Looking for
Richard reflect societys response to those in power?
Richard III will, to a greater extent, remain an important piece of literature, as
the central ideas and values examine the use of power and those whom stand to
benefit from it. Shakespeare expresses such ideas through a formulated poetry
style, using a contextual reliance on motifs, extended metaphors and dramatic
irony. However, this creates an inaccessibility to the play, to which Al Pacino
seeks to remedy through his heavily film Looking for Richard. He works with
visual and verbal metaphors, fast paced editing and provides extensive
commentary to help his audience understand what is the thing that gets
between us and Shakespeare. While this does create access to the play for a
contemporary audience, he does so by exploiting his power as a famed actor to
body forth his selective interpretation of Richard III.

In Richard III, Richards exploitation of his power is epitomised in the infamous

wooing of Lady Anne. Multiple references to eyes, lips, heart, and breast
communicate the fact that the physical body is important to Richard, and can be
read as a manifestation of Richards objectification and domination of women.
Therefore, one reason that he feels so comfortable about deceiving Anne into a
loveless marriage for the sake of his own gain is that Richard does not see
women as his equals, but instead, merely as objects he can use for his own
benefit. Another line in which Richards treatment of women is evident reads,
But twas thy heavenly face that set me on. Richard alludes to Helen as the
cause of the Trojan War, and blames Annes beauty for the acts of violence he
has thus far committed. Thus, it becomes apparent that Annes physical
appearance is the catalyst for Richards behaviour. Once again, Richard does not
give Ann credit as thinking, but rather as a beautiful creature, made for the
pleasure of observation. This graveside scene is an abstract representation of
rape, in that Richard forcibly takes Annes husband, her future and finally her life.
Like rape, this entire exchange is about Richards need for power through the
objectification of women. As such, this scene can be read as a justification of the
domination of stereotypical Elizabethan women through the powerful. However,
this creates a level of inaccessibility to the contemporary audiences, for most of
them disprove against the discrimination against women.
One way in which Al Pacino manages to manipulate the play so as to suite the
late 20th century is through the visual representation of each of the actors. This
is accomplished through vocal techniques, reactions and facial expressions of the
actors in their respective roles, Al Pacino manages to show presumptions of each
character. Of notable example is Al Pacinos depiction of Richards deformity in
order to body forth, dramatically, physically, metaphorically, expose the
corruption of his mind. However, Richard in Looking for Richard is less
deformed than he is in Richard III and is significantly more similar to an
everyday person. Al Pacino does this in order to cause a sense of realism in the
movie in order to make the play more relatable. But or more importance is his
use of celebrities such as Winona Ryder, playing the part of Lady Anne, is a

young and vivacious woman who is very different to the norm, and combined
with the famous Al Pacino from the critically acclaimed film The Godfather act
as a means of seduction into the play and gives, and in this way is Pacino
manages to manipulate his audience in order to publish his interpretation of
Shakespeares Richard III.
It is Pacinos intent to make Shakespeare accessible and to present an audience
with a version of the play that reflects how we think and feel today, however in
doing so, he begins to discover the complexity that lies within Shakespeares
language. Only selectively interpreting parts of the play, rather than presenting
the whole. Pacinos actors switch, constantly between being fully costumed to
the non-costumed actors arguing around a table. These fluid cuts between
discussing, practising and then acting in costume is a highly effective technique
used by Pacino to juxtapose the complexity that exists between a traditional
presentation and a contemporary setting. Pacino even goes so far as to claim
that Were never going to finish making this movie. I dont even get Richard III,
as such, Pacino chooses to exclude selective scenes and manipulate the way
Richard III is read. A powerful example of this is Pacino changing the line a
prophecy, that says G to a prophecy, that says C, of which is an attempt to
unravel the discrepancies between the language usages which has caused the
Shakespearean language to be difficult to decipher for contemporary audiences.
Furthermore, he excludes scenes which deal with more complicated themes
rather than power. One theme that he fails to translate is the idea of divine
justice. In the scene in which Hastings dies due to Richards fallacies, menacing
music begins to increase in loudness until it reaches a crescendo,
showing Richards aggression rising. This emphasises the increasing tensions
that Richard creates in order to use the situation to manipulate others. However,
while Pacino manages to encapsulate Richards ability to manipulate, he fails to
emphasise, contextually, the important occurrence of Hastings death. In the
context of the original presentation of the play Hastings is guilty as he is among
those who stood by when Edward of Lancaster was stabbed at Tewkesbury and
Richard acts as Gods scourge for taking vengeance against those who had

By looking at Shakespeares text Richard III through the contemporary lens of

the film Looking for Richard, we are led to new understandings of the
exploitation of different forms of power, reflecting the societys response to those
in power. Richards exploitation of power is mirrored in Pacinos effort to make
Shakespeare more accessible to post modern audiences. As with Richard, Pacino
recognises his power over the public, and while they gain their power in differing
pathways, they both utilise it to manipulate the public. In the context of Richard
III, Richards authority, gained from heredity, of Lady Anne is symbolic of how
the society adheres to those higher in power. Similarly, Pacinos authority, gained
from fame, is used in order to manipulate his audience into believing his egocentric interpretation of the play.

Discussion on the textual integrity based on the language features, but

more importantly the master narrative
(1249 words James Chok)
A good measure of a novels ability to resonate with future audience can be
recognised with how well it is able to examine the human condition and its
textual integrity. In Ondaatjes In the Skin of a Lion, he examines multiple
aspects of the human condition, as such, it will continue to resonate with future
audiences. Ondaatje eradicates the readers inclination to base the story off the
linear perspective of one character choosing instead a mosaic narrative structure
and thus delineating Patricks nugatory existence. Each fragment is, at the end,
woven to create a rich and complex tapestry. Set primarily in Toronto of the
1920s and 1930s, it reflects issues including work and life in a materialist city.
One of the major themes is the human cost of the process of a transformation of
a civilisation. As the story comes to an end, we observe how Patrick Lewis
rejection towards the society he lives within, plays a pivotal role with his own
civil behaviour, creating an emphasis how our relations can affect our perception
and attitude on the world.
In the Skin of a Lion is self-reflective, it disrupts the reading process to explore its
own textual nature. Ondaatje breaks the illusion of reality: while the film
receives the image, everything is still, suggesting that our concept of reality is
merely an impersonation of actuality, and engages the reader in the process of
making the meaning of the text, rather than simply allowing them to receive it,
and it is through Ondaatjes intrusion, that the responder is made a producer
rather than simply a consumer. Ondaatje forces the readers to be patient and
wait for the intentional disarray to fall into its natural order. Through leaving gaps
in the storyline, his single story becomes multiple coexisting linear narratives;
Never again will a single story be told as though it were the only one, thus
forcing the interpreter to figuratively write the missing pieces of the novel.
Patrick Lewis ability to fall asleep randomly in extreme situations challenges the
reliability of reality, becoming virtually impossible to determine what events can
receive a label of truth and which must be limited to a dreamlike fantasy of
Patrick. Furthermore, towards the resolution of the novel, the corners of the story
are pulled together and readers are able to close the frame that encapsulated
the inner story. The car ride in particular is the result of Ondaatjes ability to
transcend time and space. The story ends at the beginning of the novel and
begins at the end, as if Patrick has told his story not only to the young child
Hana, but also, his readers. This theme of discontinuity and fragment is
continued throughout the novel in a deliberate attempt to destabilize the
conventional narrative, and proceed in a manner that imitates the sequence of
memory, reminding his readers of the human condition of memory, that it can be
unreliable as it can blur the boundary between dreams and reality.
Digging the tunnels in In the Skin of a Lion does not merely present the difficult
working conditions, but also highlights the low status of labourers, revealing the
underside to official history. The job is so tiring that during the eight-hour shifts
no one speaks. The silence of the workers suggests that they are stripped of
one of the attributes of mankind and are reduced to muscle power. Furthermore,
one of the workers comments that the brain of the mule is no more and no less
knowledgeable than the body of a man who dug into a clay wall in front of him.
Ondaatjes analogy of a mechanised human to an asinine animal emphasises the
limit to which the workers are degraded to, and are an extension of hammer,
drill, flame. Both workers and animals are forced to work in the dark and In the
Skin of a Lion it also shows that the lack of light continues even outside the

underground tunnel. After his shift is over, Patrick embraces the last of the light
on the walk home and the workers spend all day in the dark making them
invisible, thus the darkness symbolically represents their hidden role in the
construction of civilisation. Ondaatje shows that work fills nearly all the waking
hours of Patricks life, and that the materialistic system exerts an enormous
pressure nearly on all of the workers in Ondaatjes novel, forcing them to have a
docile body, where the body is manipulated, shaped and trained in order to
obtain maximum efficiency. In this way, Ondaatje superimposes his own oral
history within the structures that remain today. As such, he us of the titanic
labour of the ordinary people in building civilisation.
Patricks attempt to blow up the Toronto Waterworks represents the height of his
uncivil and thus ultimately uncivic behaviour after Alices death. While his
attempt to burn down the Muskoka Hotel certainly represents a violent incivility,
destroying the Waterworks would constitute an act of violence against an entire
city, and those who his ideology claims to speak for. As Patrick tells Harris
repeatedly to turn off his desk lamp insisting that they should converse in
permanent darkness, he shies away from light, and this symbolically
represents Patricks final step away from civility and he begins to contemplate an
action that would endanger an entire city. Patrick does not blow up the
Waterworks and his encounter with Harris functions as a catalyst for Patricks
return to civility. In Patrick and Harris meeting we have two figures representing
their ideologies, articulating competing definitions of the common good and
visions of a better future: Youre among the dwarfs of enterprise who never get
accepted or acknowledge. They both call attention to the depopulated aspects
of their respective political visions, and arrive to see the unproductive and
harmful facets of their ideologies. This exchange then illuminates how both
characters suffer from a world which fails to acknowledge civil bonds and
responsibilities. As Patrick falls asleep, Harris quotes from The Epic of Gilgamesh:
He saw the lions around him glorying in life; then he took his axe in his hand
and he fell upon them like an arrow from a string. Harris allusion to Gilgamesh,
marks the height of Patricks wilderness, where something alive, just one small
grey bird on a branch, will break his heart. As with Gilgamesh and the lions,
Patricks attempt to blow up the Waterworks constitutes an act of violence and as
a resentment of life. Harris recognises this in Patrick, thus his decision to allow
Patrick to go free is a gift to turn away from emotional self-encloser and return to
the social world and embrace his civil and civic responsibilities in a more
productive way. As such, Ondaatje captures the human condition of isolation and
how it affects ones self, and environment.
In the closing scene of In the Skin of a Lion, Michael Ondaatje continues with
his postmodern literary approach, where readers identify with a sense of having
no boundary between reality and fantasy reminding us that our memories and
our perceived reality are a combination of fallacies and actualities. Patrick is an
abashed man who is isolated from everyone who is close to him. While this
provides emotional endearment for the readers, Patrick serves to symbolise the
limits of the detrimental effects that dismissing ones society and ones relations
can have upon the society they live within, and themselves.