April 3, 2019
The fantastic aspect about reading literature is that we are able to relate our own experiences with the experiences of the characters in the story. Each narration has the possibility of being built on a memory, an incident that occurred throughout the life of the author, or simply created randomly. Sometimes stories are built on what an author witnesses. The constant variable is that most narrations have a moral.
Stories have a psychological state of awareness that would get analyzed by the reader. James Joyce and Guy de Mauspassant focused on the aspect of desire within their fictional stories titled, “Araby” and “The Necklace”. Desire derives from the Latin word desiderare. It is a way of motivation in our life to create a sense of direction in the choices we make and do not make. Desire is a great aspect in everyday life.
Most of the population would aspire and contain desire to benefit themselves or lead the plot onto the opposite end and cause great chaos. For example, a young male in college would desire to become the best in a particular sport and later; become a professional athlete. Therefore, he trains day and night to better his craft. As he is trying to better himself, he would forget the most important aspect, which is education. His desire becoming a professional athlete was the only mission within his mind and not achieving it destroys him.
Therefore, he ends up giving up on his dream. This example could be closely related to the pleasure principle in which the pain he is avoiding is the struggle of education. Every human contains the aspect of desire which may create illusions and cause misrecognition or become beneficial to their everyday life.
In the short story “Araby” (Joyce 1914), a young boy appears to create illusions of a female character, Mangan’s sister due to his desire. The young boy adores Mangan’s sister throughout the majority of the story. “Every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlour watching her door”. “When she came out on the doorstep my heart leaped”. Those are excerpts of the story to prove his desire for her. He did not have a relationship with his crush, but when she spoke to him about visiting the bazaar and purchasing something, he wanted to get her a gift. He had a sense of great perspicuity, which is shown in the story by him waiting throughout the whole night to accomplish his goal of getting her a gift. The young boy was very eager to impress her. He barely made it to the bazaar on time. The desire of the young boy allowed him to create an illusion engine and fantasize about his fake relationship with the girl. In the beginning, the young boy creates an innocent yet sublimate crush on Mangan’s sister. He then seeks his own specific pleasure to satisfy his own needs with avoiding pain. He later creates illusions in his mind. This appears to be the pleasure principle and the reality principle at work. Sigmund Freud studied the theory of desire and what the origin of the trait is. According to his biography information, he was an Austrian neurologist who focused on developing theories and techniques of psychoanalysis. The theory of the “unconscious mind” or theory of desire, Sigmund Freud states that a person contains an id and ego. He believes that the id, which is the instinct, operates at an unconscious level to satisfy needs. The unconscious mind is the beginning of desire. We do not normally recognize our desire until we analyze it. The last sentence of the short story explains it all, “Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger”. In the end of the short story “Araby”, the young boy realizes that everything he thought of was a part of his imagination.
In “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant, the author shows how desire can cause misrecognition. Matilda is the main character of the story. She is a middle/poor class woman that dreamt of being rich or had that attitude of feeling rich. She desired an expensive/flashy dress and necklace. In the story, Matilda loses an “expensive” necklace that she borrowed from her best friend during a spectacular ball filled with many high class names. Matilda states, ” …I am vexed not to have a jewel…. Nothing to adorn myself with. I shall have such a poverty-laden look..”. The sentence from the short story shows what started her desire and caused great chaos in her future. She was so fixated on the fact that everyone in the ball would be so amazed at the necklace. But the reality was that nobody cared as to what the necklace was. Matilda and her husband had to work non-stop for about ten years to purchase another necklace, but to later find out that the original necklace was a fake. The question that we should ask is what is the psycho-genesis or cause/beginning of her desire to cause misrecognition? In this case, her desire is her ability to focus on what people think and thinking about others before herself. It is that the beginning of her desire is to obtain the attention and attitude to impress everyone at the ball. Her desire could also derive from the emptiness and loneliness that she has built up throughout the years. The misrecognition is her ability to not foresee the consequences. Desire clouded her reality. A modern-day, real life example would be the fixation and adoration of fitness models or celebrities. Social Media tends to lead us into misrecognition. Scrolling down the Twitter or Instagram feed, anyone would acknowledge fitness models or celebrities and constantly have desire to be like them. Our misrecognition is the fact that we would be so focused on those figures that we would not be able to focus on ourselves and build ourselves instead of becoming constant.
In contrast between the two short stories, we are able to infer that the meaning of desire is interpreted differently. The short story of Araby, the young boy’s desire is depicted to create illusions. His “unconscious mind”, in the words of Freud, does not realize the attraction it has towards Mangan’s sister, which creates illusions of her. The young boy’s unconscious mind is creating a scenario of what would be a perfect situation of him and the girl. We can infer that it is impossible to control our unconscious mind but we are able to control the actions we make of our conscious mind. Our inner conflict is inevitable. In my experience, I have the desire to become an officer in the military, so I would create illusions of myself in the future achieving those goals. Our desires are nearly the same but he does not take action on his belief of the girl but I consciously set my desire to achieve my goals. In a sense, I believe that desire could make or break someone. It can allow for people to do actions that they might regret in the future or in the near future. The way I see it, in my case, is that my desire is giving myself the motivation to work hard every day to achieve my goal. Desire could change the mindset of someone. An excellent example of how desire shifted to a negative way is in the short story, “The Necklace”, as stated in the previous paragraph. We are able to infer that Matilda wanted a sense of salience to satisfy her needs but later filled with a load of chagrin.
Desires play an extreme role in the way people think and act toward different situations. “Araby” and “The Necklace” are literature proofs that desire can cause misrecognition and the creation of illusions. Both of the stories appear to be portrayed as a negative aspect. But what if both the stories were to end differently? What if the young boy did have a relationship with the Mangan’s sister? What if Matilda did not need the “rich” jewelry from Mrs. Forestier? I believe that the primary problem is having the confidence as a person and not having control of their unconscious mind. If they were to access their situations and think of how their desire would benefit them, then they should of taken the chance. But yet, their desires affected them both different ways. The young boy did not have the confidence to approach Mangan’s sister and Matilda did not have the confidence to be her own self. Scott Mescubi, a very accomplished musician in the twenty-first century, stated, “We are our own commanders of our destiny·” We are our commanders of our life. We are all destined to be great. Our desires are only illusions and misrecognitions until we find our own self-confidence and courage. Be the person that does not idolize celebrities and fitness models, but works hard to become a celebrity in our own special ways. Be the idol for yourself; spread self courage and self confidence because desire is just a stepping-stone in the illusions for our future.