Morality And Mutation Essay

1057 words - 4 pages

Matt SchmuckerMs. McGeeAP English 122/26/08Mortality and Mutilation, the Greatest Jokes Ever: The Black Comedy of The World According to GarpTragedy and comedy are two of the oldest and most powerful elements of the arts. They involve despair and sorrow; irony and hilarity. Each is associated with intense emotions, yet, are complete opposites. In Irving's The World According to Garp, these conflicting elements are blended, in often an often outrageous and/or ironic manner, to create the theme of black comedy which makes the novel, and the included biography of Garp's life, such an interesting read.Many of the characters in the novel enter the story, or eventually become, mutilated in some form or another. While all the instances are tragic in their own right, each carries its own ironic and comical attributes. Garp's own biological father is the first case and presented in the opening of the novel. A severely injured WWII pilot, Technical Sergeant Garp is quickly regressing back through infancy as his brain shuts down. On a more entertaining note the main is also stricken with a constant erection, and continually playing with his self, making it an adolescent-like comical situation. In his early childhood Garp himself is the victim of an accident which leaves his physical appearance is disfigured. The vicious Newfoundland belonging to the Percy family, Bonkers, ambushed a young Garp and tore a part of his ear off. Later, Garp has his own ironic retribution against the old dog. Seeing Bonkers stalking in the shadows in a futile attempt to attack again, a now older and stronger Garp struck first, wrestled the beast down and bit 'Bonkie's' ear off in a brutally hysterical act of revenge. As Garp's mother, Jenny Fields, grew more and more famous he encountered the unusual Ellen Jamesians, a group of women whose members self-mutilate themselves by cutting out their tongues. The act is meant to represent the silence they have been left with after personal trials and pain and also in sympathy with their group's namesake, Ellen James, who, as a young girl, was raped by two men who cut her tongue out to keep her silent. The ironic, (and obvious,) twist was that they forgot that she could still write, leading to their apprehension. In a twisted parallel the only way Ellen Jamesians communicate is through writing pads. While Garp eventually befriends Ellen James and she becomes part of the family both of them despise the radical Ellen Jamesians and their act of selfish self-mutilation. The group and events associated with it become the epitome of the irony associated with disfigurement.A less physical representation of mutilation, the city of Vienna, a common theme in Irving's novels, had a huge influence on Garp and his growing up as a person and a writer. The beautiful city is presented as a place once filled with grandeur now left raped and broken by years of war. Now wallowing in decadence the situation of the city is not entirely comical but further...

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