Examining The Natural Route To Success English Literature Essay

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"Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated," wrote Ernest Hemingway ("Hemingway"). Hemingway's assertion was that human beings can be constrained or restricted, but they will never give up on their way to success. His masterpiece The Old Man and the Sea and Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe are two remarkable books that explore life, and symbolic ordeal which befalls the protagonists in the stories. Both main characters in the novels deliver a message that the nature of mankind, particularly his inner strength, is the pivotal element to succeed in life or in certain cases, the key to survival. In other words, no external assistance will be required for them to steer to victory but the instinctive creation of God-man's nature. In this paper, the secret of success of the characters in those stories will be examined based on their psychological development in the aspects of the urge of desire, self-centeredness and determination. It can be argued that by excavating the potentialities which exist within human beings, they will be led to success. By looking through psychological lens, it is apparent that the desire and the urge to pursue the desire within individuals will motivate them to succeed. In the novel Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe leaves his family and sails to sea due to his curiosity as well as his preference to live on sea. This develops him to be an independent man after surviving his ordeal, and becomes a triumphant person especially in his business. It is in fact his id, which is a wholly unconscious mental structure to meet man's satisfaction based on the pleasure principle, that drives him from home to sea (Heffner). Even if he claims that "[it is the] evil influence which carried me first away from my father's house", he eventually goes on "the next year with great success in [his] plantation" (Defoe 19/47). Likewise, Hemingway conjures the image of Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea to be dreaming of a scene where lions are playing on the seashore. The "lions" in the novella works as a symbol of youth and glory as the "lions" are "playing" instead of attacking or sleeping. In one of the conversations between Santiago and the small boy, Manolin, he says, "When I was your age I was before the mast on a square rigged ship that ran to Africa and I have seen lions on the beaches in the evening" (Hemingway 22). In his narrative, it looks as if that he misses the glory of his fight on the sea at his young age. Erik Erikson proposed in the final stage of his conception of human life-Ego Integrity versus Despair, that when an individual comes to late adulthood; a review of his or her life-career will take place to determine whether it was a success or a failure (Woolf). In response to that, Santiago, an old man, wishes that he can recapture the feeling of glory and triumph in the sea battle he experienced in his youth. His hope acts as a strong motivation for him to go to sea although he lives under the mockery of other fishermen for his failure in fishing that stretches eighty-four days. His eagerness to win the fight is further provoked when the words "I told the boy I was a strange old man…Now is when I must prove it" appear in his mind (Hemingway 53). His desire not only dissuades him from giving up but also contributes to his victory. A man sets his own level of aspiration and decides how much he is going to achieve (Brim 52-53). In Lord of the Flies, Jack is totally overwhelmed with his obsession to hold authority and to take control of other people (Golding). His hunger in becoming the group leader leads him to reach his ambition. His passion in hunting also helps him to kill the wild boar, and leads him to have a greater advantage to be the chief than Ralph does as he is more capable of providing the boys with food. The nature of human beings to pursue their ambition is delivered through Jack. In short, the three characters illustrate the extent of the effectiveness of yearning can contribute to success. Self-centeredness or selfishness leads the characters to success, though it may be in a negative way or based upon exploiting others. In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago longs to prove himself capable of going to sea and winning the sea battle. In other words, his pride provides him with the unlimited strength to surmount all the difficulties he immerses in, as evinced in the fight between himself and the giant marlin. He declares that he will show the marlin "what a man can do and what a man endures" (Hemingway 53). Santiago gives himself the top priority in the decision making, which is to show his pride in this case. He admits that "[he does] not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food… [but] for pride and because [he is] a fisherman" (Hemingway 80). He presents himself as a man who supports the anthropocentric approach which claims that the existence of nature and Earth resources are for the consumption of human beings ("Environmentalism"). On the other hand, Crusoe in Robinson Crusoe exploits nature to ensure his survival on the isolated island. Even though the inscription on the Tree of Jesse that states "God created the whole family of man from one blood, to inhabit the entire earth", justifies his anthropocentric deeds, he nonetheless leads to the destruction of the environment (Ingold 217-218). Conversely, ecocentrism is an interpretation of the universe which opposes the proposal of anthropocentrism. It suggests that Earth is not a biosphere but an ecosphere where human beings are just a small part of the system ("Environmentalism"). Notably, Crusoe goes against the idea of ecocentrism. For instance, he hacks the trees to build a canoe and explores the island in order to satisfy his needs. As Crusoe describes, "after I had chosen my tree, and with much trouble cut it down, and might be able with my tools to hew and dub the outside into the proper shape of a boat…so as to make a boat of it" (Defoe 161). He contributes to the devastation of Mother Nature in the long term. He does not show much concern to nature and does not hesitate to hurt the environment for his own advantage. Through Crusoe's character, Defoe reflects the thought of human beings in reaching their aims through anthropocentrism. The father of modern political science, Niccolo Machiavelli proclaimed, "Men are so simple and yield so readily to the desires of the moment that he who will trick will always find another who will suffer to be tricked" ("Machiavelli"). His quote propounds the tendency of human beings to behave egocentrically to achieve their aims. The parallel conception is mirrored in Shakespeare's famous tragic play-Macbeth. Macbeth's selfishness drives him to act egotistically to win the throne by murdering King Duncan (II.ii). He cares not about the harmony of the kingdom, nor the feeling of the royalty after the King's death. Instead, his own self is set to be the core of all his deeds, and sets off by thinking about himself. Nevertheless, he does achieve his ambition, which is to become the king. In those examples, even in an immoral way, undeniably the nature of egoism within individuals helps them to reach their goals. Determination and courage are gifts from the God that enable human beings to reach their goals. In reality, human will be soaked into various type of challenges and hardships in his life in such way that his resolution and endurance decide his final destiny-success or failure. In The Old Man and the Sea, Santiago is unwilling to give up or surrender to the giant marlin, though his weak and old body greatly constrains his subjugation of the marlin. His physical limitation seems to be superficial when his willpower to subdue Marlin is portrayed vividly by Hemingway. His eyes are portrayed as "the same color as the sea and [are] cheerful and undefeated" even without a single catch for nearly three months (Hemingway 13). Santiago is left with just his right hand and his feeble body as the writer tells, "he could feel the steady hard pull of the line and his left hand was cramped," (Hemingway 48). The isolation too challenges his endurance during the three-days-and-two-nights fight when the boy is not with him. He feels so lonely that he treats the passing-by bird, the giant marlin and the ocean as his companions along the journey. Yet in that harsh situation, he gives up not to adversity and "eat[s] some more [unpleasant bonito]" to gain strength for his body (Hemingway 49). His perseverance to the end of the struggle is foreshadowed through his endurance in an arm wrestling match with a brawny man in a seaside tavern for the whole night. Owe to his fortitude in enduring the battle, he defeats the giant marlin eventually. Similarly, Edward Bloom demonstrates impressive resolution in winning affection of Sandra whom he loves so much. He "work[s] in the circus for three years just to find out who you[Sandra] are" (Big Fish). His love towards her is so boundless that even the war and the engagement of Sandra with another man cannot defeat his love to her. On the other hand, Crusoe experiences a significant transformation at which he is developed from a naked-minded boy to a strong-matured man after the shipwreck. He has to make his own tools and utensils, builds shelter, rears goats, and plants crops to satisfy his physiological needs. Even before the shipwreck, he has been enslaved by Moorish pirates at the coast of Sallee in North Africa (Defoe 22-31). He feels so surprised that he is unexpectedly turned "from a merchant to a miserable slave" and "perfectly [get] overwhelmed" by the deplorable conflict (Defoe 23). However, he plans his escape within two years. The condition becomes even worse such that Crusoe narrates his life on the island is in the company of nothing but just loneliness. He tells, "I diverted myself with talking to my parrot, and teaching him to speak; and I quickly learned him to know his own name…Pol; which was the first word I ever heard spoken in the island by any mouth but my own" (Defoe 153). Instead of "it" and "its", the words "him" and "his" are being used by Crusoe to depict the bird. In this context, he is giving human traits to the bird by personification and teaching it to speak its name. His treating of Pol as his companion demonstrates his desperation for companion. The determination which stems from his mental strength is visualized in the song "The Climb" performed by Miley Cyrus. The lyrics sing out Crusoe's inner voice when he bumps into dilemma such that "The struggles I'm facing/The chances I'm taking/Sometimes might knock me down/But no, I'm not breaking" (Alexander). Crusoe's twenty-eight years endurance on the island makes palpable that his survival on the deserted isle is fundamentally based upon his determination to live on. Similarly, as Pi loses his family in the sink of the ship, he has to dependent on just himself to survive under the harsh condition. He makes raft, searches food and protects himself from the menace caused by a tiger with the effort of a seventeen-year-old boy (Martel). His strong willpower to sustain his life is clearly seen through the plans he has made to protect himself from Richard Parker. Both the urges to fulfill their needs within Crusoe and Pi can be further explicated through Maslow's Theory of Human Needs. Accordingly, human beings give top priority to the satisfaction of the lower-order needs-physiological, safety and social concerns, particularly in harsh milieu (Adair 51). Crusoe and Pi commence to obtain food for them, raise awareness of possible threats and confirm their safety. They proceed not to gratify higher-order needs as their lower-order needs such as demand for companion, never get truly satisfied. In the three examples of how the characters deal with their difficulties, determination appears to be an indispensable element to succeed in life. Man's nature is the most powerful weapon that a man can have in attaining success. He needs not much of external assistance but utilizing his instincts and natural traits, especially his inner strength, to succeed. Mental potency contributes to man's triumph in the aspects of his passion in pursuing his desire, the degree of self-centeredness exists within him, and his determination throughout the battling process. God shaped human beings with the nature that assorted with moral traits and immoral traits. However, the shaping of the characteristics is for one main reason, which is to enable man to succeed and sustain his life. In reality, both positive and negative roles are playing in the society every day. It can be for a variety of purposes, but undoubtedly those are the elements that lead to the success of people such as Shih Huang Ti and Adolf Hitler. Success seemingly can be easily achieved; however, apparently not everyone can attain success. There is chance to succeed when there exists faith within oneself and he or she is armed with the preparation, just to wait that golden opportunity and grabs it. "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself" ("Shaw").