Illusion In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark And Sonny’s Blues, By James Baldwin

935 words - 4 pages

Illusion can be defined as a distortion of the senses, of reality, and the perception of a dream like world that consumes us. James Baldwin author of the short story “Sonny’s Blues” uses the unique creativity of illusion to therefore draw in his readers. He uses several literary elements including characterization, plot, and setting to express his elaborate use of illusion in this story. Likewise Nathaniel Hawthorne author of the most controversial short story “The Birthmark” also uses illusion to draw attention to an almost magical setting of mystery and morality. Both of these authors use this theme in their works brilliantly, but in contrasting styles, which on the contrary makes their works masterpieces in distorting the beauty and truth in the world.
In the setting of “Sonny’s Blues” the element of illusion is used to create above all a world of beauty, illness and horror. Baldwin uses the sense of sight in his work. Using colors of vast difference to express to his readers their definition of what good vs bad, and light vs dark is. However it is so much more than that, he gives his readers the opportunity to consider truth. He introduces Sonny a character who fall’s victim to subjectivity and bias. With the tremendous use if illusion and color, Baldwin paints a picture and Sonny’s character is reviled in an almost angelic way. This theme is prevalent throughout the story, and Baldwin’s use of illusion really captures the truth in the story. He uses such colors as yellow to signify the illness of the streets and the drugs that consume them in the character of Sonny’s friend. The color of blue is one that is used often in the story but in different contrasts; blue signifies the beauty of Sonny’s conquering to his addiction and his gift of music in the blues bar where he performs for his brother. He uses the color of green to represent life in the lush setting of the park. The dark concrete greys the buildings that signify the intense dislike of living in the ghetto, where Sonny was once lost in. These colors are illuminated in this story.
Correspondingly in the story of “The Birthmark” Hawthorne uses colors as well but in a comparatively different manner. The most prevalent color of course would be red, which is not only the color of Georgiana’s birthmark but can also be associated with evil and darkness. This color is in contrast to the purity and beauty Georgina’s character signifies. Hawthorne creates a world filled with lust, denial, and regret using various colors and illusion. He also uses the sense of smell in his story to create the illusion of peace and a heaven like setting when Aylmer persuades Georgina in an almost hypnotizing way....

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