Compare the ways the writers of your texts create a sense of fear in their works (Dorian Gray and Beloved)

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Compare the ways the writers of your texts create a sense of fear in their works.

Fear can be defined in many different ways, whether it is through supernatural experiences, haunting or literal fear experienced by characters in a text. The theme of fear is portrayed by the authors in both Beloved and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Fear in each of the texts can be stimulated by the reader’s personal interpretation or through the author’s intentions to create the sense of fear for the reader to feel.

The main signs of fear in Beloved are portrayed through the idea that Beloved (the person) is a physical reincarnation of Sethe’s eponymous daughter, Beloved. The character we meet comes across as a supernatural being in the novel, which could be the cause of fear themes beginning to unravel. Whether or not the reader feels these fear themes is dependent on whether the reader believes that Beloved is a ghost or not. There are many reasons that could prove that Beloved is a ghost and a reincarnation of Sethe’s dead baby daughter. Firstly, when Beloved is found, she is clearly weak and unwell. However, she is seen to have great strength. ‘I seen her pick up the rocker with one arm.’ The imagery created here conveys that Beloved has strength beyond her realistic capabilities, regardless of the idea that she ‘acts sick, sounds sick.’ The repetition of the word ‘sick’ allows Morrison to emphasise the idea of Beloved being ‘sick’ and thus she should be weak too. Morrison allows it to become an important point to focus upon, so that the reader is able to see the juxtaposition in Beloved being ‘sick’ and weak, but still being capable of lifting ‘a rocker with one arm.’ This shows Beloved to be somewhat supernatural and these themes being created could spark a great sense of fear for the reader with regard to the wellbeing of the other characters, since they are living with Beloved, who may not necessarily be human at all. Similarly, Mae G. Henderson states her opinion on Beloved as “Her [Beloved’s] ‘rebirth’ represents, as it were, the uncanny return of the dead to haunt the living, the return of the past to the present.” Henderson’s statement on the matter reinforces the point that Beloved, is in fact a reincarnation of Sethe’s late daughter; there to ‘haunt’ or cause fear to the other characters. These supernatural themes are similar to that of those casted by Oscar Wilde in his text, The Picture of Dorian Gray. In this novel, the supernatural themes are conducted through the painting that Lord Henry produces as a present for Dorian. The reliance that Dorian has on the painting is what causes the themes of fear to begin and the idea that he thinks ‘[don’t] we all want to paint ourselves into something better than we are?’ This is where it begins to be clear that Dorian fears losing his youthful looks and that he doesn’t want to face the reality of him ever potentially lacking perfection. It becomes clear that Dorian, Lord Henry and the company they keep mainly care for whether a man is handsome and attractive to look at, regardless of whether he has a good heart or not. The painting allows Dorian to stay youthful and attractive, causing him to abandon his morals and experience the freedom that a man with such an attractive, never fading appearance can have. The ‘purity of his face’ allows him to stay within his social circle above all else and it begins to show that there is little distinction between his appearance and his ethics.
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A lot of fear caused in Beloved is through Sethe and Paul D coming to terms with their painful memories. Sethe and Paul D have ‘more yesterday than anybody,’ and Paul D believes that ‘we [they] need some kind of tomorrow.’ The significance of the past is crucial to the text, with most of the themes of fear being produced through the memories that the characters remember. The tone helps to inforce this through the continuous flittering between character’s perspective, as well as the narrator’s tone, with different and explicit attitudes towards events shown by the different character’s ...

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