• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

What significance does the theme of innocence versus guilty play in the novel, The Assault, by Harry Mulisch?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Luis Antezana Written Assignment April 23rd, 2012 Word Count: 1222 What significance does the theme of innocence versus guilty play in the novel, The Assualt, by Harry Mulisch? The novel, The Assault, is told against the backdrop of shifting Dutch post-war society, centered around significant points in that history. Mulisch paints a canvas of the difficulties of Dutch society in coming to terms with the events of the war. Mulisch faces significant questions of guilt and innocence when writing the novel thus leading to the hand of fate lurking strongly in the novel. The Assault becomes a morality play with much difficulty in determining and judging what right and wrong is, and guilty from innocence becomes a central theme throughout the novel in the lives of Anton Steenwijk, Fake Ploeg's son, Cor Take and Karin Korteweg and Mr. Korteweg. Anton Steenwijk is the central protagonist in the novel and has been plagued with the murdering of his family at a very young age. Anton struggles to understand and comprehend the events that happened that very night which ultimately leads to his apathy for the subject. ...read more.

Middle

Anton claims that his "family was senselessly slaughtered by Fascist, of whom [Fake's] father was one. Isn't that right? (90)", through the use of the rhetorical question Mulisch makes the guilt of Fake Ploeg an evident fact. Whereas, Fake tells Anton how his father's death devastated his family and claims "[Fake Ploeg] was ignorant of [the Jews] and [Anton] can't blame him for it. He was with the police and simple did his duty, what he was told (91)." Fake's philosophical view on the situation is seen by pleading ignorance for his father. Mulisch uses Fake character as an arbitrator for the situation and as the events change, Fake's character changes; for example, "[Fake] began to sob. The sob rose out of him as if they belonged to someone else who was inhabiting his body" Fake character, here, changes emotionally to portray the seriousness of Fake in his argument (92). Anton's claims conflict with Fake's claims of his father's guiltiness that ultimately lead to a blurred line of innocence versus guilt. Another guilt versus innocence conflict in the novel is the murder of Fake Ploeg. ...read more.

Conclusion

(181)" Mulisch uses the lizards as a symbol/medium for Mrs. Korteweg and Mr. Korteweg eternal happiness, thus the loss of the lizards becomes Mr. Korteweg's worst horror. Anton raises philosophical questions of Mr. Korteweg's innocence when he says, "Could everything be blamed on the lizards? (181)" Anton also learns that "[the Aartses] were hiding Jews" consequently leading to Anton's understanding that "in spite of everything, Korteweg had been a good man! (183)" Although, Anton recognizes Korteweg's justifications, the audience is ultimately left with ambiguity to a true innocent or guilty verdict because of the questions in morality of saving three lives but having to take three other lives. In the work of Harry Mulisch, The Assault, the war's disastrous effects are seen on the protagonist as he struggles to forget his past, but as he encounters people from the past, issues in the deciphering between guilt and innocence of its very characters were set in motion, "Was everyone both guilty and not guilty? Was guilt innocent, and innocence guilty? (184)" These inquiries in knowledge and understanding ultimately leave the audience with equivocal answers to who was guilty and who wasn't. This ambiguity in the novel adds to its mysterious undertones and theme of uncertainty leading to disputes in morality. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. In The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy notifies the reader that her novel ...

    Baby Kochamma's persistence of gaining a relationship with Father Mulligan is shut down and she eventually drops out of the convent forcing her to neither feel part of his culture or her own that she tries to stray from. Baby Kochamma continues to try to be part of the British

  2. Hedda Gabler- structure of the play and the major characters

    Hedda's conformity to society is identified through her fear of scandal. Although Hedda has no problem in hearing about scandal, her fear of it spurns from society's expectations of women which makes her abide by social norms and identifies her as a conformist.

  1. In the play The Brute by Anton Chekhov; I believe that Mrs. Popov is ...

    Popov: trying to outshout him) Brute, brute. Brute! Shows how her UN lady like behavior is due to arrogant and stubborn, she has! Lastly Mrs. Popov is a very violent lady.

  2. Social Distinction in the novel Pygmalion

    This line seems to sum up Higgins' thoughts of his finished Galatea -"By George, Eliza, I said I?d make a woman of you; and I have. I like you like this." The creation has become independent of its creator and he is glad.

  1. Character of Louba Ranevsky in The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov

    But the digging of the past is irksome and atrocious more often than not, and so it happens with her. A mere look at Tropimof rakes the concealed memories, and the present becomes a living hell when she goes through the phantasmagoria of her husband?s and son?s untimely deaths.

  2. Othello - A Racist Play?

    and ?foul thief? (1.2.62) and accusing him of witchcraft of winning his daughter?s heart, suggests Brabantio is no less racist than Iago.[45] So was it Iago who provoked Brabantio? Or is Brabantio equally as racist? When Othello stayed within Brabantio?s limits, he was welcome with open arms, but when Othello married his daughter, he crossed the line.

  1. The significance of NDeye Toutis identity in Gods Bits of Wood

    The other women?s interdependence during the strike proves traditional polygamous relationship is an asset born from tight ties within the big, communal family, rather than an embarrassing custom. Ousmane demonstrates the strength of women characters in a male-dominating society through their march from Thies to Dakar, and their resolve in the face of hunger.

  2. Moods, colors and people of the deep blue sea are portrayed in The Sound ...

    ?The ways of salvaging sunken shipes and making rescues at sea?(p.20) 25. ?A wind was blowing from the sea,rattling the closed night-shutters and making the lamp sway back and forth,now dim,now suddenly bright. 26. ?From outside,the night sea came pressing very near them,and the roar of the tide was

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work