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Nature At Work

Nature in context with the novels read, deals with the environment that consciously or unconsciously forms the character’s behavior and their nature as individuals. Distinction is made between a conscious affirmation of the environment which leads to an eventual change or an unconscious effort that transforms the character into passivity. The function of influence works to ultimately consume or assimilate the character into stagnation or to provide an avenue for change and development exemplified through different scenarios and experiences.

The character, through the experiences brought about by nature, may lock itself on passivity or a complete acceptance of the pervading norms (e. g. round character). Consequently, the environment may also provide an opportunity for experience to become formative therefore contributing to a change in viewpoint or nature of the character (e. g. dynamic). For example, Michel in The Immoralist rediscovers that his sexuality becomes of the intellectual environment he was pressured to live in.

Duras’ The Lover is a symbolization of sexual repression brought by a society that considers certain relationships as taboo. Rastignac’s social conditions allow him to aspire for a higher social perspective. In overview, the consequent surrounding that each character lives in becomes a relative experience as though the environment is a character itself; the indirect experiences caused by interaction unconsciously reinforces or influence the nature of the character.

An exception would be Mersault in The Stranger since his nature is not formed by prior experience but remains as a constant character in terms of his viewpoints. The notion of nature in the novel’s context is in a philosophical rather than a literary sense – Mersault’s character is focused on his view on the world rather than the other way around. Nevertheless, the environment still plays an important role in influencing the behavior of the characters in the stories.

One of the prominent nature-related scenarios falls under Zola’s Germinal where darkness is presented in the imagery of the work that provides a continual dismal mood that is eventually erased by the emotions of the revolution. As observed from the introduction of the story, the abrupt introduction of the mood continues to prevail as the story progresses: “Over the open plain, beneath a starless sky as dark and thick as ink” [1]. The characters in the story represent the mood itself; their oppression symbolizes social darkness and discontent bubbling near the surface.

They, however, make the best out of their poverty-stricken lives and maintain contentment with simplicity. This darkness also shares similarities with the environment in the other novels wherein darkness is also related to an outside struggle. As such, the environments in The Lover, The Immoralist, and Germinal, function as a relative interaction between the characters and the environment itself as it through the given social conditions. In Duras’ novel, repression becomes the by-product of the social tenets that pervade during the story’s context.

The effect on the characters is causally determined by the nature they live in. This may also be found in the experiences of Michel and Lantier as their purpose is dictated by the multitude of situations they find themselves in. Ultimately, the decision that each character makes correlates with a permanent environment they strive to change, immerse, or detach away from it. On the other hand, The Stranger’s environment is unique in the sense that the relationship between the character and his environment is reversed.

The character remains detached from reality or nature because of his subjective conception and understanding of his own existence and thus views the environment to be absurd. This concept stresses the importance of existence while the situated environment functions as a secondary factor rather sharing an equal causal relationship with the protagonist of the story. What remains however, is the convention of experience as a perennial formative agent in the behavior and decisions of protagonists as well as minor characters in the story.

It may be considered that the environment forms the story and the individual or the individual influences the environment through change. Reference List 1. Balzac HD. Pere Goriot. Trans Ellen Marriage. United States: Dover Publications: 2004. (p. 1) 2. Duras M. The Lover. Trans. Barbara Bay. New York, USA: Pantheon Books: 1997. 3. Camus A. The Stranger. Trans Matthew Ward. United States: Vintage International: 1989. 4. Gide A. The Immoralist. Trans Richard Howard. United States: Vintage International: 1996. 5. Zola E. Germinal. Trans Stanley and Eleanor Hochman. Dover Thrift Publications. 2001.

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