Everyday Use, Alice Walker | Character Analysis

1868 words (7 pages) Essay in English Literature

05/06/17 English Literature Reference this

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In the short story “Everyday Use”, Alice Walker crafts the character of the three main characters in a clever way. This was very important as it is the three characters, Dee, Maggie and Mama who made the story to be as powerful as it is. The three main three characters are used very well by walker to pass the underlying concepts of the story. Dee and Maggie are the two daughters of mama and this paper is going to analyze their character differences.

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Starting with the first paragraph of the short story, Alice Walker builds a powerful image of Dee. At first she seems to be a very shallow character. However, this changes as the story develops and she becomes more and more complex. Blessed with both beauty and brains, Dee immerges as a girl who is still struggling with her heritage and identity. She is a flat character, who many think is selfish and arrogant. Through her eyes, one can very notice her narcissistic and egoistic nature. She is depicted as a fairly-skinned black girl who thinks that she is better than everybody else because she has a slim waist, good air and educated. In contrast to Dee bad character, Walker builds Maggie as a person with good character. She is the guardian of history and the culture of her people. The two girls and their mother with their different characters serve as artistic representations of a range of aspects of African Americans heritage and culture. In addition to this, they are the readers’ creative guide to comprehending the identity struggles faced by the African Americans during this time.

As stated above, Dee is portrayed as an egoistic and a selfish person with a superficial understanding of her own heritage and culture. She epitomizes the misguidance and confusion of young black Americans in the late 1960s and 1970s. This type of character is evident in her exchanges with her sister and mother. Dee she considers herself as sophisticated, and more than the abased quality of the lives led by her sister and mother. She courageous and makes her feelings clear by attempting to “take” the quilts that her mother had promised to Maggie. She says that in actual sense her sister Maggie cannot appreciate those quilts as she would probably be old fashioned to put them to everyday use. She erroneously believes that by using these quilts for other purposes other than their original intended purposes, she would be respecting and preserving her heritage. However, this is not the case as her desire to put the quilts on display can be interpreting to being the same as white capitalist cashing in on ethnic artworks. Not only is she in compliance to the most evil of western ideals, but she is also disrespecting and rejecting her own cultural heritage, all under the pretenses of protecting it. It is in this perspective that Dee can be described as the embodiment of the efforts of a unifying identity, for the reason that she has not yet come to comprehend her place in the community as both an American and an African.

In great contrast with the personality of Dee, Maggie is portrayed as a good-hearted and a simplistic person. These personalities add a different dimension to the short story. She comes out to be a more likable character that is a more likely bearer of tradition and her culture sacredness and preserves its heritage more than her educated and “brighter” sister. Maggie is a bright girl who truly comprehends the true value and meaning of heritage. As her sister Dee affirms, Maggie is backward and unsophisticated to put the quilts promised to her by her mother to everyday use. However, what her sister Dee does not make out is that in doing so Maggie would be preserving the ancestral meaning and importance of the family quilts and this is what is important. Alice Walker strengthens the cultural importance of Maggie’s personality when she firmly does not allow Dee to have her way. She hugs Maggie close to her, drags her to one room. She goes on to snatch the quilts from Dee and then dumps them on Maggie’s lap. This clearly shows that Maggie with support of her mother wants to uphold and preserve a lasting relationship and connection with her heritage. She represents a large number of African Americans who value their heritage and they would love the idea of passing on that heritage to their off springs without diminution between generations.

A lot of other things can be said about Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use.” this is a very compelling short story, full of meaning and symbolism. However, as this paper has already discussed, it is the contrasting and the unique characteristics of the main characters that give the story its power. Without Dee for example, the readers would not be in a position to understand the identity struggles that was going on during this time. On the other hand, without Maggie no one would understand the important and commitment that some members of the African Americans had in preserving their heritage and culture.


Deceit in Much Ado about Nothing

Deceit is useful despite its negative connotation. This is seen in the application of deceit in Shakespeare’s play, “Much Ado about Nothing”. In the play there are various instances in which deceit is used either to perpetrate positive or negative motives. Deception is widely used positively by some characters to help other people cope up and succeed in their social way of life. The use of deceit as a theme in “Much Ado About Nothing” is instrumental in the development of the plot. Deceit as a style helps the characters to achieve their intended goals and motives. These motives are both destructive and constructive, pointing at the positive and negative use of deceit by the characters.

Throughout the play, deceit has been used severally by many characters for different motives and intentions. Benedick and Beatrice who in their own inward feelings secretly love each other but use deceit of verbal insults to outwardly show that they do not love each other. This way, deceit has been used by characters to advance and fulfill their personal interests. In addition, Benedick and Beatrice are blindly deceived by Claudio and Hero into believing that each one loves the other. In this way, they are caught into prey by Claudio’s and Hero’s deceit which finally makes them fall into love and thereafter get married. Through these incidences it is clear that deceit is good in certain incidences because Claudio’s and Hero’s deceit finally united Benedick and Beatrice into a happy marriage.

Shakespeare has utilized a combination of sarcasm, pretense, vile humor, envy and counterfeiting to bring out his theme of deception. Benedict and Beatrice secretly admire each other but engage in open showdowns against each other in attempt to hide their feelings. They are trapped in a web of self-deception when they hurl insults at each other, yet privately hoping that the other will notice their true feelings of affection. This only makes the wedge between them to broaden. In trying to outdo each other in wit, they lose the very thing they desire from each other-love. This is typical of what today’s society recommends to women that in order to be seen as expensive by the men, they need to put up a tough face and not immediately accept any offer of a relationship. Many of them end up losing the very person they admired to a woman who is less snooty.

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At the same time deceit has been used for evil and hidden personal motives as evidenced through actions of the troublesome Don John. Don John had an inward revengeful motive against his brother Don Pedro for a military action defeat. While Don John tries to accomplish his revenge against his brother Don Pedro, he merely lies to Claudio that his brother Don Pedro is having an affair with his lover Hero. This is something which angered Claudio very much. Here, deceit has been used mainly for evil and personal hidden motives. In addition, deceit is evident when Don John through his actions of planning an evil scheme with Borachio and Hero’s servant Margaret. They secretly scheme to disrupt the already planned wedding between Claudio and Hero on the eve of their wedding day through the dressing mannerism of Margaret in Hero’s dressing. This plan eventually led to Claudio insulting her innocent love Hero of being an infidel which subsequently disrupted their wedding. Here, deceit has been evilly used for fulfilling the ill motives and desires of characters.

When the brothers Don Jon and Don Pedro go to visit their relatives in Messina, Don Jon expresses remorse to the city’s governor Leonato, for setting ambush against his brother in war. However, the truth of the matter is that Don Jon is very bitter against Don Pedro for beating him in war, and has a revenge mission in place against his brother (Shakespeare). He deceives his brother, at least outwardly, that everything is okay, whereas his heart is in turmoil. This symbolizes although to the extreme, the sibling rivalry that is common among many families today.

Due to jealousy, Don Jon devices a wicked plan against Claudio. First, he tries to convince Claudio that his lover Hero, is actually in love with Don Pedro. When he fails, he tries to foil plans of their marriage by accusing Hero of Adultery. By using deceit, he uses his friend Borachio to get his innocent lover Margaret dressed up in Hero’s attire and then act as if it were Hero herself flirting with Borachio. The negative result is that Claudio detests Hero, calling her an adulterer. Marriages today go through similar challenges, with the threat of infidelity being central.

In addition, Leonato and his allies use deceit of false death of his daughter Hero as a punishment of Claudio’s denial and rejection of marrying her. Leonato and his friends used this deceitful trick in order to trigger feelings of guilt on Claudio of his deeds which led to death of an innocent girl. The overall motive of Leonato was to win favors from Claudio in order to make him abide by whatever he told him. This is an evil way in which deceit has been used for personal hidden agendas diverse from the reality.

“Much Ado About Nothing” is characterized by excessive use of deceit to pass across its message. Deceit has been widely used by various characters in the play for satisfying their interests and motives. Many of the instances of deceit have involved its application to achieve selfish and ill motives. At the same time the way deceit has been useful in turning other people’s social lives like in marriage points at its usefulness. As illustrated in Shakespeare’s work deception and manipulation can be used by its player’s to attain both positive and negative ends.

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