Saturday, February 23, 2019
Aristotle or a post-modern anti-hero?
In On the Road Jack Kerouac produces what has experience kn knowledge as the archetypal Beat suspensor, doyen Moriaty. An analysis of whether he is juxtaposed to a stately Aristotelian electric ray or to the postmodern anti-hero will reveal much ab reveal the often contradictory forces at work within the rhythms of fifties underground America, jazz, sex, generosity, chill dawns and drugs . . . (Holmes, 1957). Before discussing which Moriaty is closer to it will be necessary to briefly define both the traditional and the postmodern hero, identifying what they hold in common and what divides them.The traditional Aristotelian hero is a high-born man, normally royal or at least from the nobleness who appears to be on top of the world at the beginning of his figment. He has many advantages, both natural and acquired. He is often successful, hot with others and plain happy. The tragical hero normally has something that has been called the fatal flaw (Kaufmann, 1992). This fla w innocencethorn be something he has no blame for, such as the hot dog that makes Achilles physically vulnerable, the jealousy that makes Othello emotionally vulnerable or the introspection that makes critical point delay so long. This fatal flaw often leads, in ane way or another, to the down downslope of the tragic hero.So the traditional tragic hero falls from a high social position to disgrace and/or death through circumstance and through his supposed fatal flaw. Aristotle state that his fate should inspire pity and fear within the audience (Aristotle, 2001). grieve for the fate of the individual tragic hero and fear that they might fall into a similar situation themselves. By contrast, the anti-hero is, according to the American inheritance Dictionary, a main character in a dramatic or nar exposeive work who is characterized by a lack of traditional despairing qualities, such as idealism of courage (America, 1992).Some clue to which definition of protagonist hero or anti -hero doyen Moriaty falls can be engraft within the fact that the real term anti-hero is in fact a Twentieth Century invention (Lawall, 1966). The idea of the anti-hero is in many slipway linked to early twentieth century philosophies such as Existentialism, which suggested that vivification has small meaning and that no absolute standards of morality argon relevant. The anti-hero creates his own sense of values, often from moment to moment, according to the needs of the moment. The postmodern anti-hero takes on similar propensities, although he is even more extreme. The Man-With-No-Name character that Clint Eastwood played in the 1960s spaghetti westerns is perhaps the classic postmodern anti-hero.The world of these westerns does not piddle good and evil as could be identified by the white/black horses, the white/black cowboy hats and the handsome/ugly actors of the traditional Western. There atomic number 18 merely shades of darkness in the spaghetti western, and the res embling can be said for most of the characters in On the Road, toughened as it is within a world of constant wandering bar-to-end America that is in some ways very similar to a western.One of the most important facets of On the Road is the fact that there are two main characters. First, there is Sal Paradise, the titular narrator of the fiction that has been more or undersized associated with Kerouac him egotism and second, there is dean Moriaty. The reader is rapidly and unceasingly drawn into views of Dean Moriaty. Sal describes him as simply a youth enormously excited with life who possesses a kind of holy lightning . .. flashing from his rubor and his visions (Kerouac, 1957). Later Dean is described as the holy con-man with the shining judgement (Kerouac, 1957).So in the manner of both the hero and the anti-hero, Dean is a attractive character who draws others to him through the sheer energy that he exudes and his apparent lust for everything life has to offer. unl ess(prenominal) Dean is very low born. He is obviously the son of an alcoholic who was never really raised properly and who has had barbarous propensities from a very young age. Dean has been in prison house for theft cars. dapple traditional tragic heroes may commit the most well(p) of crimes (often murder) they are not normally criminal in a conventional sense. There is something petty and hopeless about the kind of criminality that Dean Moriaty displays.But in the best tradition of the postmodern anti-hero, Dean has learned a lot about how to live from his incarceration. He states, with characteristic bluntness still a guy whos spent five years in jail can go to such maniacalhelpless extremes . . . prison is where you promise yourself theright to live.(Kerouac, 1957)So the anti-hero discovers himself through falling from grace, even if he probably did not hurt far to fall in the beginning(a) place. kind of than going to his death or languishing in the shame of his crimes he lives out the years of his imprisonment and then comes out to go on the alley. In iodine sense the novel shows what might happen when the tragic hero has fallen, been transformed and emerged as a postmodern anti-hero.Dean does fall elevate however, especially as the novel continues and the novelty of being free to do as he wishes starts to wear thin. Thus his abandonment of his wife and pincer are brought to his attention, indeed he is confronted with it. Sal, ever the intelligent observer, states that where once Dean would have talked his way out, now he fell silent . . . he was BEAT (Kerouac, 1957).The protagonist of the novel goes through it performing decidedly un-heroic whole works such as this abandonment. He also expresses a constant and instead disturbing attr put through for very young girls, often only 12 or 13, especially those who are prostitutes and thus totally vulnerable to his desires. right the end of the novel he actually abandons Sal as he lies dispiri ted in Mexico City. Ultimately Sal comes to see Dean in a very brutal light, oine that hardly meets any kind of definition other than a decidedly anti-hero. . . when I got better I realized what a rat he was, but then I hadbto understand the impossible complexness of his life, how he had toleave me there, sick, to get on with his wives and woes.b(Kerouac, 1957) (emphasis added)Dean is thus essentially a coward, and a lack of courage is never part of the character of a tragic hero, whatever other faults he may possess. But Sal, in characteristically postmodern fashion, does not blame Dean for his cowardice and being a rat. The postmodern condition is one in which there are no absolute standards of ethics and thus everything is more or less for demon.It is the complexity of his life that Sal feels makes Dean constantly abandon people. He is expert another character who moves through an aimless world with little to allude him except an increasingly futile calculate for a purely vol uptuary lifestyle.The constant trip outing in the book makes Dean an anti-hero rather than a hero. While many tragic heroes give-up the ghost (Aeschylus, Odysseus) they nearly always have some kind of destination whether it be ethical or geographical, in mind. The characters of On the Road travel constantly, but with, to quote a popular song of the period no particular place to go. They travel for the sake of traveling. This aimless travel is a symbol for the lack of a higher ethical or religious structure within which to live. The characters of On the Road are sure of nothing, except that, as Sal says at the end of the book nobody knows whats going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old (Kerouac, 1957).Dean moves from the West to the East to the West to the South . . . and on with a sense of rather melancholy endlessness. At the end of the novel Dean returns to the West Coast on his own, and Sal ruminates upon the sad meaninglessness of life. While much has happened in the novel in some senses, in the classic, Aristotelian sense very little has occurred that will permanently change people. On the Road has no simple dramatic structure. There is no approach and denouement. Rather it is a formless kind of a quest story in which the search is an end in itself.This endless quest give On the Road a post-modern structure. The characters are on an existential search for themselves that seems doomed to failure. Dean Moriaty is the archetypal post-modern anti-hero within this quest. He draws people to him, and they travel thousands of miles in order to be a part of his wandering life. But when he loses interest in them he drops them with what appears to be a pachydermic remissness for the consequences. But there is something heroic in his actions as he is at least being honest. He is being true to himself. If that self much of the time is cowardly, casually cruel, vaguely criminal and pedophilic in constitution then he will still reveal it. To conclude, it seems clear that Dean Moriaty, the protagonist of On the Road is far nearer to a post-modern anti-hero than to a traditional, classical hero. The world that he inhabits is one in which there is little meaning. It is an often dark, forbidding place in which the Cold War threatens thermonuclear missiles and in which a kind of despairing hedonism is the only course of action which seems relevant to most of the characters. They move around the country at an often dizzying rate, driving all night long for no apparent yard other than the fact they are moving. Romantic relationships are often little more than brief romantic liaisons and marriages are abandoned with the same disregard for consequences that the children that have come from them are thrown away. Dean Moriaty is a post-modern anti-hero, one that a myriad of similar figures have been more or less based upon in the fifty years since On the Road was first publish.Works CitedAmerican Heritage Dictionary, Dell, f orward-looking York 1992.Aristotle, The Basic Works of Aristotle, Modern Library, New York 2001.Holmes, Richard. On the Road Review. The Times, London 1957.Kaufmann, Walter. Tragedy and Philosophy. Princeton UP, New York 1992.Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. Penguin, New York 1957.Lawall, Greg. Apollonius Argonautica. Jason as Anti-Hero. Yale Classical Studies. 19, 119-169.