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A Man On an Island: An expedition for true happiness

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World Literature Essay Name: Audrey She-Sum Lai Subject: English A1 Higher Level Title: A Man On an Island: An expedition for true happiness Although the renowned poet John Donne from the Renaissance had pointed out that "no man is an island"1, isolation is a part of the quest for true happiness. It allows us to see how sensual stimuli have diverted our attention from spiritual realization. Human are indeed connected to one another as a whole. Yet, no matter how close we are physically, we are the only ones who are accessible to our own mind. Exploring for the truly happy mind is like a solo on an isolated island. In the novels One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich2by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Stranger3 by Albert Camus, and Metamorphosis4 by Franz Kafka, three men's expeditions for their true happiness on their isolated islands are revealed. The nature of their isolation, the process of their realization, and their achievement of happiness are shown in front of our very eyes. First, let's compare the nature of the three protagonists' isolation. All three men were on an "island" isolated from the society, in which sensual stimuli like warmth, cigarettes, food and sex were reduced to the minimum. ...read more.


The significance of this scenario is that it reveals Ivan's evolution from the desires for sensual comforts to mental comforts. Meursault had been very passive throughout the novel up till the point when he heard himself talking after telling about the news story about the Czechoslovakian in the following passage. "I gazed at my reflection one more time. It was still serious-and what was surprising about that, since at that moment I was too? But at the same time, and for the first time in months, I distinctly heard the sound of my own voice. I recognized it as the same one that had been ringing in my ears for many long days, and I realized that all that time I had been talking to myself."6 Before then, Meursault took everything as fate had predestinated for him. However, the moment he began talking to himself, he changed. He became active of his own life. In the isolated prison cell, he became aware of the power of his own mind, which was demonstrated by his rejection of the priest. For Gregor, he ate less and less, and began to drive more and more attention to his family. It was somehow giving him a pleasant feeling, despite of his starvation. ...read more.


All the protagonists in the end realized that they were all free individuals on their "islands". They freed themselves from the rules of the world. Those were the very moments when they achieved happiness. Concluding the three protagonists' expeditions to true happiness, in isolation, they all discovered a satisfaction in the mind instead of body. While sensual stimuli were reduced to the least, they saw something beyond. One may argue that they were resigning to life in their inevitable isolation, but they had indeed grasped an alternative happiness in such isolation. Like a walk with many people holding one long stick, "no man is an island". The stick connects us all. As we proceed to the front, no matter what speed we are at, we move as a whole. Yet, we take the steps by ourselves. Happiness may be realized when we see our strength in taking that step, like the Ivan, Meursault and Gregor in the three novels. Word Count: 1412 words 1 A phrase from Meditation 17 by John Donne in 1624 2 Alexander Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Bantam Books, 1990. (Hereafter ODITLOID) 3 Albert Camus, The Stranger, Vintage International, March 1989. (Hereafter TS) 4 Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis, W W Norton and Sons. (Hereafter M) 5 ODITLOID: pp. 73 6 TS: pp. 81 7 M: pp. 874 8 ODITLOID: pp. 202 9 TS: pp. 123 10 M: pp. 878 ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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