Grief and Depression
When mental agony and despair, willfully un-conceals through the vicarious words and lively characters and opens the quiescent parts of our soul, the world shatters and vociferate at the sequence of events that unfolds in the pages of the Literature showing us the image of our own agony and despair, in our bid of love and hope of life. The Hours by Michael Cunningham, by using Stream of Consciousness Narrative Style mirroring the psychological concern of the three protagonists; who are gloomy and depressing.
All the characters are depressed and are pondering to finish their lives. The novel itself begins with the suicide note of Virginia Woolf in 1941 by drowning herself in the river Quse, in Sussex, England. The Hours in the novel according to the protagonist are the wastage of hours spend by three narratives: Virginia Woolf, who in her bid to create famous character Clarissa Dalloway, is also fighting with her mental illnesses, another one, Laura Brown, a 1947 housewife is having problem to set her domestic life and Clarissa Vaughan, who is representative of a modern woman, is not comfortable with her position in society and her comforts. The whole narration is intricately woven into the tragic circumstances, reflections of thoughts of the protagonist bygone days and the undesired dissatisfaction. Mrs. Brown, whose dissatisfaction is clearly seen in the scene when she rents a hotel room for a few hours, and reflecting on the consequences says, “It is possible to die…I could decide to die…It could, she thinks, be deeply comforting it might feel so free: to simply go away… It would be simple as checking into a hotel. It would be as simple as that.” Later, Mrs. Woolf is also pondering on the way whereby her character Mrs. Dalloway, will die. “Mrs. Dalloway, she thinks, is a house on a hill where a party is about to begin death is the city below, which Mrs. Dalloway love and fears and which she wants, in some way, to walk into so deeply she will never find her way back again.”
The whole novel is full of depressing tone with few instances of desire for love, equally self proclaimed desire for mortality and loss. The grief and desperation is intricately woven into the fabric of intertextual references of Virgina Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway’s. (Wilde, para.1) and Cunningham forming a unidirectional connection between the anterior text and posterior text develop the threads of relationship between himself and Woolf. Micheal Cunningham’s is precipitously steeped in Woolf’s style but original in itself with the beauty of Language transcending the central passages of life produced lively but troubled and thoughtful characters.
Cunningham pondering over Virginia Wolf’s life gives what every protagonist wishes every day. Besides rising, washing, dressing without looking at the mirror, working on her new novel, she will look with dismay the funeral of a bird, a thrush, found by the children, thus, everyday in the life of woman’s there is a little death.
Cunningham believes that every breathing soul on this earth lives only with one aim in life that is the hope for love, which creates the new meaning of life. Though desperate and dejected and there is an end in life but there is still something that makes the life goes on and somebody is always moving ahead surviving every bit of tragedy. For Cunningham, the protagonists are engulfed in their own making, the grief and desperation lies in their minds, in the inner souls that projects out into frustrated moods. Cunningham knows that our lives are paradox of complexities, and we are all characters building each moment of ourselves- and that too bit by bit. As Farar Straus & Giroux in the review of The hour in “Rooms Across the Way”, beautifully said “Fiction knows that life is made of fictions, that personality can sometimes be as fluid as time itself”. (Crub, Antgonish Review, 122, para 5.) Then naturally the question comes, in that case what should be done? In other words, it is the question of the way to live, what to love, and what is needed from the world to fulfill our own ambition. It is at the very heart of their novels”, thus, this is the beauty of “The Hours” which makes grief and depression loved, and so loved in “The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy, about which she herself says, “The book really delves, very deep I think, into human nature. The story tells of the brutality we’re capable of, but also that aching, intimate love. And for me the twins are what that is about, the ability to actually dream each other’s dreams and to share each other’s happiness and pain.” (Nishant, Children, para.6)
“The God of Small things” is a reflection of the world seen through the eyes of, twins, Rahel and Estha, caught in the web of circumstances beyond their young eyes could see and are desperate to come out of this unscrupulous world for a safe environment where they can live happily. But when they finally decided to go back to their actually home, the realization dawned on them that everything has changed. Twins have become totally strangers to each other, but Rahel did everything what a sister should do, provide Estha with love and care, just as a child needed. Arundhati Roy tries to show the world which is small for us and how we become Godly figure in our small world, but without any worshipper and taker, but only giver. And truly God do take its appearance, whereby the truth which we all feel in our lives has to be concealed to give importance to tradition.
Against the backdrop of the Indian culture in the late 1960s, the environment that is equally beautiful yet dangerous. Arundhati Roy pulls us into the blossoming lands yet timed it with deadly settings. The structure of the narrative is skillfully woven between the present and the past, keeping foresight into the future events with signals which keeps the readers in suspense; and as the story unfolds, readers are taken to earlier sections to give us the crux of the whole story. Autobiographical in character readers are drawn to sympathize the God of Small things (the God of loss) and naturally to its narrator, where the children deprived of their childhood and affections are abused and criminalized. In whole of the novel, tragedy is weighted against the backdrop of life where there is suffering and loss but on the core of everything lives still goes on.
The novel is very well written with few instances that show that there is a comparison with Rushdie, by the use of phrases and images like a character dies aged 31 at “a viable die-able age”. (Nishant, style, para.13) Arundhati Roy captures the emotions. The style of the author is both poetic and capricious. With one large story there are several smaller ones but are independent in themselves and gives observation and insight into the lives of protagonists. There is something like an invisible thread that is connecting the whole novel. The things that appear trivial are equally important in the eyes of God that is why there is the God of Small things. Children who are small, innocent visualized the universal things from their own tiny eyes, just shattering the walls of the boundaries created by Adults but in these small activities of theirs gets smashed by the intrusion of the big world but their actions goes on and this the base of the book which has given it life.
It is the delicacy of the Roy’s language that has given depth to the meaning of each word and so the rhythm. Thus, Micheal Cunningham on one hand transcends the limitations of time to produces the psychic tragedy of the protagonists whereas on the other hand Arundhati Roy builds the characters of the children crossing the boundaries of the limitations of time and both producing the Master piece of Grief and depression that is foretold.
1. Curb Randall, “Rooms Across the Way” The Antigonish Review Issue # 122, The Hours by Michael Cunningham, (Last update: December 31, 2006), Available:
http://www.antigonishreview.com/bi-122/122-curb.html, February 28, 2007.
Nishant Sushil, “Introduction to Contemporary Indian Literature,” IIT, Kharagpur, The Literature and Culture of the Indian Sub Continent in the Post colonial web, Internet (last modified: 4th June 2001) Available: http://www.scholars.nus.edu.sg/post/india/roy/nishant1.html, February 28, 2007.
Wild Andrea, “The Suicide of the Author and his Reincarnation in the Reader: Intertextuality in The Hours by Michael Cunningham” Available: http://www.americanstudies.wayne.edu/xchanges/1.2/wild.html, February 28, 2007.