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Lao Tzu, the Father of Taoism once said “Those who are worldly-wise know others: those who are truly wise know themselves”. This may not always be true in todays modern world. In The Book of Eve written by Constance BeresfordrHowe. the movie Company of Strangers and in the short story Krapps Last Tape by Samuel Beckett the consequences of the search for self are described. The various characters choose to take different paths In their lives but they were consciously or unconsciously taking a path that would ultimately lead to selfrawareness.
The various characters either use this selfrawareness to change themselves for the better or to follow their old ways and let their knowledge of self be wasted. In Eves case from The Book of Eve. after forty years of marriage even though she is physically secure With a family, house and money; she feels no sense of identity and finds that a something very important from her life is missing.
At the age of seventy she leaves her house to find that missing something with hardly any money and manages to find a small basement apartment that symbolizes her newfound independence As soon as she gets to the apartment she takes a bath. which is a symbol of baptism or it is an act where she cleanses herself of the past. She also reads the Playboy magaZIne that shows that she is breaking away from the past and is beginning to take risks that she would have never taken when she was with her husband Burt who was always sick.
Even though she has no money to buy clothes and undergoes a 25 lbs Weight loss she is relieved and never actually feels a sense of guilt like she thought she would for leaving everything behind.
Then Eva meets Johnny who is a Hungarian man who works in a factory and is drunk all the time. Johnny is her new chance at love, her new companion. At first he is very annoying but then he starts to bring out her uncomfortable side. All her life she Was used to taking care of others, finally she met someone who took pleasure in taking care of her. She slowly starts to gain weight as Johnny starts cooking for herwhich symbolizes that she is gaining knowledge about herself. Then along the way she meets Jean Paul LeBlanc who makes Eve realize her own disabilities through his own shortcomings. Finally when she has a conversation. With her son Neil she comes to term with herself. She knows that she has made mistakes in the past but she accepts them now. Her life has been imperfect and she accepts that too. She realizes that there Will always be problems, no matter what but at least now her problems are not imposed by anyone else. She realizes that there is a price to pay for personal growth and liberation. Thus Evas selfrawareness results in her happiness in the long run. Constance, the oldest of the lot in the mowe. The Company of Strangers was very happy as a child and then she got married and had three children. She then gives up her career to take care of her family. But then she realizes that there is nothing left for her in life and she just wants to die, However, later on as the movie progresses she opens up to the people around her and she throws her pills away which symbolizes that she wants to live happily even without her pills, She is happy and laughing even when she loses the card game. Her life is parallel to Eves life; both of them lose their freedom when they get married. Constance throws her pills away at eightyrfour which is equivalent to Evas leavrng her family after forty years of marriage. Another character in the Company of Strangers who goes through the process that makes her selfr aware is Beth At first Beth is very seifrconscious about her looks. she makes sure her Wig fits right and she looks in her mirror ever so often. She can also be described as being uptight but then she slowly changes. She slowly opens up and talks to people around her. She loses her only son who is fatally sick. She is uptight because death is something we cannot control and therefore she feels the need to control her environment. She slowly opens up when the bus driver Michelle convinces her to take her wig off and Beth looks like a whole new warm person. She later on opens up so much that she starts making signs with the smoke and also participates in the exercise regime led by Winnie. Her sons death controlled and determined the course of her life, The second major event in her life of getting stranded in a broken bus opens her up. The third character from the mowe who becomes self aware in her 605 is Mani. Mary Was a lesbian and her sexual preference had an impact on her life that finally led to her own independence. Throughout the entire mowe she opens up to Sissy and tells her how she came out of the closet at the age of sixty and then she could not stop talking about it. This is the same case as with Eva, both of them choose not to live on societys expectations and finally become selfish and start livmg for themselves. Krapp on the other hand from the short story Krapps Last Tape is aware of his shoncomings unlike the other characters like Eva, Constance. Beth and Mary. He is aware that eating too many bananas will only go on to disturb his bowel movement and his drinking will only result in his body becoming weaker but this knowledge does not change him. He chooses not to do anything about his problem, his awareness does not help him and he cannot overcome his bad habits.
He does not have the will power even though he has free Will and he chooses to suffer the consequences of his habits. This is unlike any other characters that Krapp is being compared to, Eva. Constance, Beth and Mary slowly become seliraware and when they do. they use this power to the fullest, Krapp like most people recognizes his problems but refuses to deal with them. This makes him this makes his life said and miserable. Some people use this knowledge of sell to become better people and liberate themselves like Eva, Constance, Mary and Beth while others like Krapp do not have the Will power to make significant changes in their lifestyle even though they are have the knowledge and know what is best lor them. Therefore in conclusion we can state that attaining self-knowledge is a difficult process and what we do with it once we attain that level is in our own hands.
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