Archetypal Night Journey

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In the play A Man for all Seasons, Thomas More embarks on an archetypal night journey which leads to him becoming an existential hero. And in the novel Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield is portrayed as an absurd hero who goes on a picaresque journey. This will be proven by looking at what the characteristics of each of the hero classifications are and how the character mentioned fits to this description through his characteristics. First it is important to define what an existential hero is. Kierkegaard (cited by Smith, 2015) claimed that existentialism is the freedom to rule your own life. An existential hero makes his own choices independently by creating a life that is moral (Gutek, 2009: 109). This hero is also accountable for his own…show more content…
This is a difficult journey where he hits rock bottom, literary or figuratively, and experiences an epiphany of someone confronted with own death and dark heart of humankind. Thomas More uses his knowledge and insight to become a hero or achieve his goals. He also serves as a moral example to the viewer. A hero going through this journey suffers from a moral crisis. More goes through a crisis of the conscience. Everyone wants More to take the oath but he feels he cannot do it to his…show more content…
In Salinger’s novel Catcher in the Rye Holden is not portrayed as a good role model for teenagers, but still he strives to protect the innocent (Salinger, 1946:156). Literary critics and Whitfield (2011: 184) acknowledge that Holden lacks the determination to try and change society. Holden can be seen as too young to make an effort in trying to change society (Whitfield, 2011: 185; Baumbach, 2011: 265). Whitfield (2011: 186) describes Holden Caulfield as a misfit. Even though he is a “misfit” he still tries to make a change; by wearing his red hunting hat; befriending the friendless; respecting those who are kind, loyal and humble. “That’s what I liked about those nuns” (Salinger, 1946: 103). Holden classifies himself as a pacifist (Salinger, 1946: 40; Whitfield, 2011: 193), but he does not hold back on hating everything around him. He is the type of person you would not classify as a hero but then he really wants to save the innocence. “… another … I tried to rub it off…, but this one was scratched on, with a knife or something… It’s hopeless anyway… impossible” (Salinger, 1946: 182). The paradox here is that Holden must first leave innocence to be able to protect the innocence (Baumbach, 2011: 266). Holden does accept full responsibility for his failure in school (Salinger, 1946: 6-13). Here he protects his teacher’s feelings. At the end of the novel Holden can neither save the
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