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Authors Playing With Our Emotions Essay

2091 words - 8 pages

Authors Playing With Our Emotions in Robert Frost’s “The Fear”, Chuck Palahniuk’s “Speaking Bitterness”, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, and Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”

Some authors are very clever in the way they toy with our emotions. It is not uncommon to find yourself giggling at a story while simultaneously realizing you probably should not be laughing at something that is actually quite gruesome. These mixed emotions are stressful for a reader, and this anxiety is an author’s way of creating paranoia. Paranoia is a fear caused mainly by extreme anxiety, and in many cases the anxiety is a result of dissonant emotions that create tension. Robert Frost’s “The Fear”, Chuck Palahniuk’s “Speaking Bitterness”, Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, and Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” all utilize dissonant emotions to cause stress for the reader. Frost and Palahniuk focus on the conflict between fear and a lack of reason for fear. Jackson and O’Connor focus on the dissonance between humor and gore, and also the conflict between a need to feel sympathy for a character and a lack of connection to said character. But there are also the fearless, bold, and strong-minded people. There are people who may not be affected by the tricky ways of these authors. However, they are the exceptions, and just because they do not feel it does not mean they are not supposed to. Despite these exceptional people, authors design their stories specifically to include the tension from dissonant emotions in order to elicit paranoia-related anxiety.
It is natural to want to identify the source of an emotion, so when authors create an overwhelming sense of fear without explanation, the reader experiences a tension between needing a reason to feel afraid yet feeling afraid anyways. Many authors leave readers out of the loop by not divulging the thoughts of the characters. In “The Lottery”, everyone besides the reader is aware of what the lottery is for. This creates suspense because it is obvious that all the characters know, however the reader only gradually realizes the horror of what the lottery actually is. The first hints at the horror are just small seeds of phrases, such as when Mr. Summers asks them for help with the box, “there was a hesitation before the two men ... came forward to [help],” (Jackson 587). And when a woman has to draw for her husband, she “regretfully” says her son is not old enough to draw for her husband (589). Words and phrases like these add to the ominous overtones, yet no concrete reason for the fear is given. By the end of the story Mrs. Hutchinson is frantic about being picked, and people are telling her to “be a good sport” (591). The moment of clarity for the reader only comes when the people start gathering up the stones to throw at her. In “Speaking Bitterness”, Chuck Palahniuk also leaves the reader unaware of key aspects, which effectively induces stress for the reader. The...

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