Studying The Classical Novel Beloved English Literature Essay

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In order to uncover the internal conflicts that burden her characters, Morrison contrasts those individuals to show the tragedy in human condition. Both Sethe and Beloved suffer from the overwhelming emotional effects of that one horrible event. While a mother who lives every moment of her life suffering and refusing to ever love again, and that daughter who was brutally slaughtered to prevent her from suffering the realms of slavery. It is because of this "too-thick love" (Morrison 164) that Sethe eventually falls to ruin. Sethe possessed the power of unconditional love for her children and had "milk enough for all" (Morrison 201). Morrison's image of breast milk is used as a key to symbolize the strong maternal desires of Sethe. No matter how hard she tried she was never able to forget the terror of that wicked schoolteacher stripping her of her nurturing juices, and how she crawled inch by inch on her bleeding appendages to satisfy her baby with milk, and that day when she nourished Denver how her juice was fused with blood. That inhuman description of milk and blood additionally reinforces the importance of maternal desires by depicting the value of a mother's milk to that of her blood. Her (Sethe's) maternal love is expressed in great depth through the course of all events: her love was so powerful that she was willing to die with her children, so strong that instead of letting them suffer the hells of slavery she would rather kill them to set them free, and because of this ""too thick love" "[her love] is determined to small" (Koolish 2) which causes her entire life's happiness to disappear into near-nothingness.

"When Toni Morrison's Beloved opens with a house "full of baby's venom," it announces the prominent place of pain in the lives of these ex-slaves" (Boudreau 1). In attempt to save her children from the hells of slavery, Sethe's overpowering love drives her towards a desperate attempt to kill them. Sethe is a former slave woman who chooses to slaughter her baby girl rather than allowing her to bear the emotionally, spiritually, and physically oppressive horrors of slavery. Sethe's experience in facing difficulties can be said that she was a woman who loved her children. Sethe's reason for murdering her baby is because in her mind, this was the only way to save her because her children were the only part of her that represented the good and purity of life, and in order to protect that purity she had to protect them from the viciousness and the "dirtiness" of slavery (Morrison 251). Her act of cruelty is for the love for her children as she mercifully spares her daughter from a horrific life. In her (Sethe's) reunion with a former slave Paul D her reaction to the schoolteacher's arrival, "I wasn't going back there [Sweet Home]. I went to jail instead"(Morrison 42). Sethe's words not only suggest that she has anything wrong in the removal her child, but instead to her she thinks she has made a moral stand by refusing to allow herself and her children to be dragged back into the evil of slavery. "As a result of her formative experience in slavery and the terrible deed that she commits knowingly, Sethe adopts a pattern of consciously walking away from her past… and the story of Beloved becomes, then, Sethe's painful acquaintance with the past" (Beaulieu 23).

Beloved's character functions not only as a character, but as a symbol of involvement to help the characters to understand their history as individuals. As a result the complexity of Beloved is a recreation of not just history as a whole, but as a process in which history is formed. Beloved's rebirth as a grown women is symbolic in a way that it tells the reader that the past never dies. In fact, in the case of Beloved it can grow larger than anything imaginable. From the first time she made her mysterious appearance outside Sethe's home it becomes clear to the reader that she has come to address the past. She emerges, fully dressed, and looks like an adult woman with, "new skin, lineless and smooth, including the knuckles of her hands" (Morrison 61) much like a newborn. As she begins to recover, she takes great pleasure in sugar and, "it was as though sweet things were what she was born for" (Morrison 66). The reader can recall that beloved was born during a time when African Americans were used as slaves. So the statement that "she was living of sweet things" can be seen as her living for that freedom she always dreamt about, but never was able to enjoy. At last she is able to enjoy all the sweets she wants; not just that nurturing juices of her mother; but that freedom that Sethe wanted for her so badly that she was never able to forgive herself of the crime she committed.

More generally, without the interference of Beloved, Sethe would have sustained the same course of insensibleness. She would have not remembered her mother or anything else unpleasant for that matter. Beloved helps Sethe recreate her identity by forcing her to confront her past. When Beloved is around, history and pain are always close to surface but so too are the ways in which there seems to be a direct attempt at reconciling past pain with the present moment; an attempt to make things right again. At the beginning of part three of the novel when Sethe loses her job and begins to weaken, it is although the three women are making up for the lost freedom from all of the generations before them. They "ice-skated under a star-loaded sky and drank sweet milk by the stove" (282) and more generally, pushed out the painful world, leaving room for nothing for enjoyment; the same kind that might have been enjoyed by people who have only known freedom and ease their whole lives. As the battle between the two women is waged, however, it is Beloved who grows increasingly stronger and more vital; almost as though she is sucking the life force from her mother. In doing so, however, despite the ill effects it has on Sethe's health, Beloved is allowing Sethe to make peace with herself, even if it means giving herself entirely to her children something that Sethe firmly believes in anyway, even if it involves the murder of a child to save it from the repetition of her own grim past.

In this way Morrison captures the tragedy of human emotion: one love so powerful it always loses, and one love so powerful it consumes everything. Sethe lost in the game of love by killing her daughter out of instinct; she lost again in the game of live by forever suffering for it. Beloved fought to live again and took the life of the woman who loved her enough to die for her. Beloved characterizes the tragedy of love: so strong it can kill, so strong it can become hate.

The fact that by the end of the novel Sethe has grown weak while Beloved a ghost of the past has become healthy, vibrant and even pregnant during the act of rebirth itself is even more important because it symbolizes the draining nature of history and the past if allowed to suckle the life from the present during the symbolic process of Beloved's rebirth

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