Change In self-AOS

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Change is inevitable however the manner in which change is accepted or embraced by the individual will eventually result in a change in self. This is evident in the poems “The Door” by Miroslav Holub and “Glass Jar” by Gwen Harwood; “The Crucible” a play by Arthur Miller; “Mother Who Gave Me Life” by Gwen Harwood and the song “Mama” by Spice Girls.

“The Door” by Miroslav Holub, in the form of a poem demonstrates that a change in self will result from experiences in which one encounters, depending whether the individual will embrace the change or not. The poem presents “the door” as an extended metaphor that represents embracing change and also as a symbol. Embracing change or not will depend on whether the individual wishes to remain in the state they are or leave that limited world through the door. Thus, the door is also a symbol; a closed door represents a barrier, which keeps us confined and limited, whereas an open door introduces new possibilities by allowing us past that barrier; therefore exposing ourselves to change. The poem begins with, “Go and open the door”, a short, powerful and demanding imperative that is repeated throughout the poem. The use of the imperative creates an emphatic tone which entreats the reader to step “outside” of their ‘comfort zones’ and open themselves self up to change in order for a change in self to occur. By opening the door, the individual enters a new state of being filled with opportunities and possibilities. This is presented through the imagery employed by the composer, suggesting to the reader that nothing is certain once that door is opened, only possibilities such as a single “tree” suggesting growth in character; to a beautiful and benign “garden” which suggests an improvement in one’s life, progressing through to a wondrous “magic city”. This process continues even to the unpleasant sight of “a dog’s rummaging” in search and curiosity through the fixed gaze of “an eye” to “the picture, of a picture” where one learns more about themselves and gains a new perception, which in essence results in a change in self. However, before a change in self, confusion and one’s uncertainties must be cleared of, just as “there’s a fog, it will clear”, ambiguously the fog can symbolise outer fog or internal fog inside of one’s mind causing confusion and lack of direction. In reverse to this, these words encourages the reader, suggesting that by grasping opportunities and going forward in your life, there will be less confusion and more certainty. The poem repeatedly encourages the reader to “go and open the door”, to take a chance on change “even if/ nothing/ is there”. Here the composer has used parallel structure and cumulation of sentences beginning with “even if” to emphasise the importance of opening one’s self up to change as “at least/ there’ll be/ a draught,” suggesting metaphorically the occurrence of change as we will feel something eventually even if it is just a cool breeze. Through opening the door, hence, opening one’s self up to change, one gains a greater understanding and growth in character once change is accepted and embraced.

This is linked to the poem, “Glass Jar” by Gwen Harwood as it also deals with changes in self once the individual develops a mature understanding of life through personal experiences . The poem presents a young boy as its persona. Being afraid of the dark, he attempts to place “a glass jar in the reeling sun”, in hope that the light will be captured as he places “this pulse of light beside his bed”. Light is a symbol of security and a sense of direction, motifs of light is utilised by the composer to contrast the persona’s feelings of safety and “total power” in the light as opposed to feelings of “fear” in “dream and darkness”. Metaphorically, the sense of darkness in this poem is used to represent the persona’s “secret hate” as he lacks understanding of the “thicket of his fear”, the fear which lies deep within him, a fear in which he, himself is creating subconsciously. This is presented through the synecdoches used by Harwood such as “pincer and claw”/”trident and vampire fang”, which are mosaics of creatures used to represent the whole as the child sees his fear as ‘bits and pieces’, demonstrating that his fear is not understood. Apart from this, Harwood also made use of images such as “Love’s proud executants played from a score no child could read or realize” and “the child dreamed this dance perpetual”, which emphasises not only the child’s lack of understanding of the music of love played between two people, but also the child’s lack of understanding of life as he believes the dark night would always remain. However, in stanza four this child took a chance on change as while in deep “dreams” attempts to understand it realising now it is no longer ‘bits and pieces’ but an entire image of a “ring of skeletons”, suggesting to the reader that in order to overcome one’s fear, one must understand the fear by seeking it. Though, the child still did not completely understand his fear. This is only when he woke up the following day to find the glorious “sun” shining vividly in the bright sky “through flower-brushed fields” with the use of pleasant sounds of ‘f’ and ‘l’ in daytime. Here, Harwood not only ends the poem in “triumph” but also adds a shared joke mocking the child as “night’s gulfs and hungers, came to wink and laugh”, suggesting that the light of day will always return after a dark night along with the child’s foolishness. In order to overcome personal fears, whether they are internal or external, one must understand what it is that they are frightened of and attempt to seek and conquer that fear, in doing so, one develops a deeper understanding of life and results in a change in self.

Alike the persona in “Glass Jar”, John Proctor in the play “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller also overcame his own weaknesses through greater understanding of himself, hence, resulted in a change in self. In a Puritan society ruled by theocracy such as Salem, the people lived in fear, fear of modernism, fear of repression and therefore a fear of change. Despite this, John Proctor is one of the few who lives by conscience not ritual and it is this conscience which essentially allows Proctor to overcome his personal guilt of lechery, as a result changes himself. In Act Two, Proctor and Elizabeth’s marriage is tormented as Proctor’s personal guilt of lechery and denial causes them to drift apart shown through the stage direction in this act as “a sense of their separation rises”,here Miller also made use of seasons as even though it was really “eight days after spring” , yet Proctor claims it to be “winter in here yet”, suggesting the coldness of their marriage. Proctor’s personal guilt agonises him as he tries to silent the truth, however, Proctor’s character rises in Act Three as his inner torment is shifted onto public stage where he reveals in court, “I have known her sir, I have known her”, here Miller shows conflict between Proctor’s public reputation and personal honour as he is [“trembling, his life collapsing about him”] as he stands before the authority of the court. This demonstrates great change in Proctor as he has now confessed his sin and opened himself up to change. Miller also shows immense change in Proctor in the last act as he refuses to name others in court by signing the confession, this is shown through the symbolic gesture of [“a cry of his soul”] when he replies to judge Danforth, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”. Once again, Miller made use of stage directions as [“Proctor tears the paper and crumples it, and he is weeping in fury, but erect”], which shows that Proctor is proud of what he’s done and realises that “for now I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor. Not enough to weave a banner, but white enough to keep it from such dogs”. At this point, Proctor has come to realisation and therefore understands more about himself as there is good within him and that he cannot do what is wrong. Now that Proctor understand more about himself, he has opened up not only himself but the barrier between him and his wife, Miller exposes this to the audience through his use of a dramatic representation as Proctor “lifted her, and kisses her with great passion” contrasted to the kiss in act two when [“He gets up, goes to her, kisses her. She receives it. With a certain disappointment, he returns to the table.], the difference between these two kisses is that one suggests coldness and disconnection while the other, passionate and loving showing great change in both Proctor and Elizabeth as they are now free of guilt of lechery and guilt of judgement. Proctor during the course of the play has demonstrated to the audience that in order to change, individuals need to understand more about themselves in order to overcome own weaknesses.

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“Mother Who Gave Me Life”, by Gwen Harwood is also a poem displaying growth in understanding of individuals, which ultimately leads to a change in self. In this poem, Harwood acknowledges the role of mothers in society and displays changes in self once an individual matures their understanding of life, hence becomes more appreciative. In the first stanza, Harwood shows her lack of understanding as a child as she says “Forgive me the wisdom I would not learn from you”, suggesting the lessons taught by mothers about the role of women in society yet taken for granted by the child who does not comprehend this lesson. The reason for this lack of comprehension is shown through the “closed ward door”, symbolising a barrier between a mother and child as they are from different generations and have different views, in consequence results in disagreements. However, Harwood utilises emotive language, through repetition of the word “anguish” in stanza three and eight giving great effect onto the reader as they realise how much suffering their mothers have been through and becomes more appreciative once they understand. This appreciation is shown at a higher level when she sees her mother’s face “crumple”, suggesting once again pain and suffering of mothers, “then, somehow, smooth to a smile/ so I should not see your tears”, showing the extent of the role played by mothers, even at her deathbed tries to alleviate the pain of others despite her own pain. Here, Harwood also introduces sibiliant sounds of ‘s’ and ‘t’, symbolising the gentleness of mothers as they smooth away our fear and pain. One of the main symbols Harwood has utilised in this poem is the “fine threadbare linen worn, still good to the last”, also an extended metaphor of linen representing the mother figure as she continues her role as a mother till the very end, despite lack of physical strength as she ages. Once the motherly figure is gone, there is a terrible sense of loss. Harwood acknowledges this in her last stanza through her memory of “a lamp on embroidered linen”, the lamp being symbolic of her mother as she is the light of the house, once gone “darkness falls on my father’s house”, suggesting the effort of mothers in building up a family and after her death there is a sense of loneliness in the house. What’s left is only her mother’s “voice calling”, a vocative image of mother’s role to call in their children at dinnertime. Harwood used gentle fading sounds of ‘s’ and ‘f’ to end her poem as she shows that through the nurturing, care and love of mothers, changes individuals as they come to realisation and appreciation, hence a greater understanding of the role of their mothers in what they have done and who they were for us.

The appreciation shown through in “Mother who gave me life” is also presented in the song, “Mama” by Spice Girls, once again resulting in a change in self through greater understanding and appreciation. The song begins with a soft tune, creating a personal reflective tone from childhood, then high pitched, emphasising an extent of regret and yearning, and follows through with soft, high, soft, ending with high pitch suggesting strong emotions and mature yearning for mother to come back, contrasting to the start which has a soft pitch. The song begins with, “She used to be my only enemy and never let to be me free”, a childhood memory showing lack of understanding of mother’s protective role, through to, “I never thought you’d be the friend I never had”, in contrast shows greater understanding of her mother’s care and love at a mature level. Also at a mature level, the repetition of the lyrics in stanza two, four, five and six, “Mama I love you, Mama I care/ Mama I love you, Mama my friend/ My friend” emphasises the adult’s feelings and emotions after her mother’s death, showing once again a sense of regret as she previously “never had a sense of resposibility” or appreciation towards her mother. The turning point which demonstrates a change in self is through the lyrics, “So now I see through your eyes/ All that you did was love”, demonstrating that the individual is mature as she can now reflect through the eyes of the mother to understand why her mother did the things she did and who she was for her children.

In conclusion, despite that change is inevitable, it is shown through the texts that it is the manner in which change in accepted or embraced which ultimately results in a change in self.

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