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The Five Forty Eight Essay

880 words - 4 pages

In "The Five-Forty-Eight," John Cheever, portrays a struggle of good vs. evil. The effect is largely contributed by the story's characters Blake and Mr. Dent, and Cheever's Symbolism shown through Blake. The Character Blake has some distinct morality issues that projects the evil he has done. Blake the evil force in the story posses many character flaws that are indicative of the force he portrays. He is self-absorbed, manipulative and shallow and has isolated himself from his friends and family. Blake sacrifices his relationships to give into his sexual desires, which is our first indication of his evil streak. He sleeps with Mr. Dent, his secretary, and proceeds to fire her. As a result of Blake's many one night stands, in which he manipulates which to sleep with him, he loses his wife, son, and friends. He is so incredibly shallow and self-involved, that he married his wife for her beauty alone. He has no attraction to her in old age. He does not even pretend to love his wife "The physical charms that had been her only attraction were gone"(559). His neighbors and friends hear of the evil Blake has done to his own wife, and as a result they reject Blake as a friend. His self involved attitude prevents him from coming that he has no companions. When his neighbor, Mrs. Compton, cannot give him a friendly smile, we read that "the swift death of Mrs. Compton's smile did not affect him at all"(554). His evil self consumption prevents him from caring whether or not people accept him. We find yet another example of Blake's immoral actions through himself. He fails to confirm a crying Mrs. Dent "he felt too contended and warm and sleepy to worry about her tears"(553). Blake has no compassion for others; he only worries about his own affairs. This is indicative that Blake is morally wrong. Blake's relationship is not the only area of his life that we see Blake's evil nature rise. There are hints of his self obsession throughout the story shown through symbolism. Early on in the story, Blake is admiring himself in the plate glass window, and sees himself with "a clear reflection" and the crowds "like shadows at his back" (551). He then sees Mrs. Dent as a "contorted being" (551) I the same window. Blake see himself as a flawless creature of complete perfection with the mass of city pedestrians as a blur behind his faultlessness, and he can...

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