Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Birdsong, Catcher, Crucible: conflict in fiction and drama

In his Transition Year Extended Essay, Samuel Clarke wrote about the theme of conflict in three very different books. For this outstanding piece, Samuel was awarded a Commendation. He writes:-

In the first text that I read, Birdsong by English novelist Sebastian Faulks, the theme of conflict was by far the most protruding within the novel. The story, set in the early 20th century, with its main character Stephen Wraysford living through four years of the horrific First World War, saw scenes of what many consider to be the worst conflict ever seen. Yet the war is not the only conflict that one comes across. There are many smaller conflicts woven into the overall story. Examples of these are the conflict between Isabelle and Stephen with Isabelle’s husband Azaire, and the riots that take place in the town of Amiens between Lucien Lebrun and Azaire’s workers.   
However in the second book which I chose, J.D Salinger’s
The Catcher in the Rye, the author portrayed conflict in a completely different light. Unlike Faulks who looks at the theme with a backdrop of a horrific war in his novel, Salinger looks at the mind of his principal character Holden Caulfield. Holden seems to be constantly faced with an internal conflict, an on-going depressive struggle with himself. The story tells of the sixteen year old boy, after having been expelled from school and having had a fight with his Pencey School roommate known as Stradlater,leaving the college three days early without his parents knowing. The depressed teenager takes a train into New York where he spends the night in a hotel, and the following days in the city.  

However, for this essay I have decided to choose a core text which I aim to describe in great detail while still relating, referring and comparing the text to the other novels I read. The core text I have chosen on which to write about is the highly acclaimed modern classic, Arthur Miller’s
The Crucible, a play dealing with conflict in the highly religious town of Salem, in 17th century America.

This play based, on a true incident which Arthur Miller described in an introduction to the text, as “one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history,” saw, in my opinion, both of the types of conflict visible in each of my other texts. - Like the war in
Birdsong, in The Crucible there is an open conflict – the Salem ‘witch hunt,’ where in the town, a court is set up to try people suspected and accused of having conversed with, and been possessed by the devil.

Read the full essay here.

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