Conflicts in Literature
There are many different elements in literature. While it takes several forms to make a piece of writing interesting, conflicts in literature definitely play the most dramatic role in doing just that. The reader can often relate to the characters in a piece because it entices the imagination, creates possibilities for the future, and ultimately gives a reason to live. These conflicts can be a variation of many from those that are within one self and can go as far as to incorporate aspects of nature. These conflicts are brought front and center and add depth and meaning to the overall concept the author is trying to portray. The conflicts that arise between the main characters in The Raven, A Rose for Emily, and A Doll House validate each piece and allow the reader to better understand the authors intended meaning.
After thorough analysis it is plainly evident that the main type of conflict in Edgar Allen Poes The Raven is of the internal type although others do exist. Vainly I had sought to borrow/ From my books surcease of sorrow for the lost Lenore (DiYanni, 2007, p. 1173) shows the reader that he begins to use these books as a way to take his mind off the current situation and release the anxiety he is feeling. This is also important because this is the first time he recognizes that he cannot continually battle with himself about this grief.
Equally important seems to be the internal struggle as the main character fights against his fears. He sits in his dark chamber and becomes filled with terror as he hears the rapping at his door. This rapping ultimately leads to line 14 where he is filled with fantastic terrors never felt before (DiYanni, 2007, p. 11733). This fear comes from his loneliness, however; he cannot become less lonely due to the grieving. Fear is used as a way to show the main characters internal struggle.
The ending of this poem best signifies the overall use of this type of conflict through his battle with his insanity. The raven is elegantly used as a way for this individual to battle with his ongoing irrational ways. This is until the narrator gives up and says And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor/ Shall be liftednevermore (DiYanni, 2007, p. 1175). The Raven begins to represent the possibility for this individual to finally surpass his grief and live his life.
There are also examples of the man verse nature type of conflict in this poem. The largest appearance of this type of conflict is through the narrator and the raven itself. At first the narrator is intrigued by the raven, but soon resents it. At one point he throws a cushion at the bird and curses at it (Diyanni, 2007, p. 1175) until he finally gets to the point where he gives in and lets the raven continue to torment him. The tormenting nature of the raven further adds to the conflicts this character is already facing.
The setting itself is also a very good example of the man verse nature type of conflict. Poe chooses to use the darkness of the middle of the night and the bleakness of the month of December as a way to show the darkness this character is feeling. This time of year causes the narrator to dwell on days that should be joyful, but are not due to Lenores death. The setting in the poem The Raven is an excellent example of how nature can end up in conflict with an individual.
A final and possibly the most important way Poe encompasses the man versus nature type of conflict is through the actual death of Lenore. It must be considered that if Lenore had not died, then he would not be in the position he is currently in. Furthermore, there would be no need for darkness to over shadow him and he would not feel the need to sit in solitude in his chamber. This solitude is what furthers his grief and unfortunately he does not feel any reason to do otherwise. Lenores death is a contributing factor to the man verse nature aspect of conflict and is used to help understand the current position of this individual.
The last type of conflict in this poem is that of man versus man. The first instance of this conflict is through the narrator and Lenore herself. Although the reader does not know for sure whether Lenore is dead, she is no longer a part of the narrators life. He says she is lost and believes that she is in distant Adienn (DiYanni, 2007, p. 1173, 1175). While there is no doubt of the love he had for her, her memory is a great part of the dark place he is in. Lenore represents conflict with this individual through her death and his inability to get over her.
Another very well represented type of man versus man conflict is that of the narrator and the unknown visitors. From the first knocking at the door, it is clear that he sees outsiders as a threat. In lines 20-21, he thinks, sir or madam, truly your forgiveness I implore:/But the fact is I was napping (Diyanni, 2007, p. 1173) and by doing so shows the reader he has no interest in outside companionship. Poe uses the knocking by various unknown individuals as a way to show the conflict the narrator feels with any outsider.
There are also various types of conflict in Henrik Ibsens A Doll House, each of which adds to the overall theme behind the play. The first major conflict that must be examined is Noras internal conflict with herself. This is best shown through her ongoing need to please all around her. This need to please is furthered because this is one of the only ways this character gets to feel satisfaction in her role within her family. This is best portrayed through the roles she takes on with her husband. He continuously refers to Nora in inhumane and creature like ways. This is seen through comments like is that my squirrel rummaging around and is that my lark twittering out there?(DiYanni, 2007, p. 1667) which shows a few of many ways Torvald treats his wife as no more than a creature. Noras inner conflict is best defined by her need to please and the inability of Torvald to show that she pleases him.
There are also societal conflicts that are seen many times throughout the play. These conflicts interestingly enough focus on a womans role both within and outside of marriage. This is most easily based on societys view of womans role in marriage compared to the needs of that individual. This adds an important aspect to these pieces because it is set amongst a society that states a woman must take the subservient role within the marriage. The role the woman takes on is filled with limits and she has no freedom or power within the marriage. Her role takes away her individuality and leaves her as defined only by her husband. This is definitely the perspective Nora held in her marriage with Torvald. She becomes his servant of sorts, being ordered around and having no opinion of her own. Societal rules were in direct conflict with Noras ability to have a say in her own existence.
Another key societal conflict was based on the same preface, but accounted for the role women could hold outside of the marriage. Additionally, there was a distinct difference as the prior conflict focused on the needs of woman, where as this conflict focused more on a womans rights. According to society at the time, a woman could hold no place in society except as a wife or daughter. The women had no sense of individuality and could not partake in their own interests and talents, manage money, or enter into any type of legal document. Nora disregards this at one point and takes a loan which is used to take a trip which was to be for the good of her husband. Furthermore, since she cannot legally sign the document, she forges her dead fathers name to it, which is proven through Noras discussion with Mrs. Linde And Your father never told Torvald the money wasnt from him and Nora answers No, never. Papa died right about then. (DiYanni, 2007, p. 1674). Noras disregards for societal views were a contributing factor in her conflicts amongst the rest of society.
Another underlying conflict one of man versus another man and can be seen through Noras interactions with Krogstad. The drawing of the illegal loan document draws Nora into a relationship that ends up destroying her. The issue comes into play when Krogstad needs Nora to do him a favor and try to convince Torvald to give him a position in the bank. She agrees to do so, but is met with much apprehension upon speaking with her husband about it. Torvald answers her with Its already known at the bank that Im firing Krogstad. What if it is rumored around that the new bank manager was vetoed by his wife? (DiYanni, 2007 p.1690). Torvalds ego comes into play and he discredits any possibility of rehiring him once he becomes manager. This leads Krogstad to tell Torvald the truth behind the illegal document and the cover up. Noras relationship with this individual translates into a conflict which ends up destroying who she once was.
In comparison there are many of the same types of conflicts seen in Faulkners A Rose for Emily. However, they vary slightly in the way they are incorporated into the story. Emily, as well as most of the main characters in these pieces have conflicts within themselves. Emily, much like Nora, holds a very small part of her own existence. She is not comfortable with anything outside of her own home. A good example of this is the passing of her father. She conceals the body in the house and when people come to mourn with her she tells them he is not dead (DiYnaii, 2007, p. 81). Again the reader gets a glimpse of this same kind of inner turmoil with the passing of Homer Barron. Emily is so terrified to be alone that she not only kills him, but then puts the dead body in her attic. Interestingly enough, her loneliness is due to her lack of wanting to be amongst society, but then she resorts to holding on to her loved ones bodies as a way to feel less lonely. She has the power to undo this loneliness, but the fear of doing so is more then she can bear. Much like in The Raven, the fear of letting go is more bothersome then the seclusion that comes from this fear.
The initial conflict here is the one Emily has with her father. He is a very over powering individual much like Torvald in A Doll House. These two individuals are actually a pretty close match in that they both used their domineering ways to make these women who they wanted them to be. And through this process both women lose a sense of individuality. The fact that he was not only over powering, but also anti social is much of the reason Emily is the way she is throughout the story. He would not allow her to hold regular relationships, which when all was said and done, ended up defining who she was. She became a recluse and did not have the drive to become anything more. Emilys conflict with her father led her to a life of inexistence and fear.
This initial conflict transforms into a much more lucrative confliction between Emily and the society in which she lives in. Emily is from a town that lives by a value system comprised by the old south. These values which she chooses to not take part in further isolate her from the rest of the community, even well after her fathers death. This is most evident through her flaunting of the relationship between herself and Homer Barron. She goes about town on Sunday afternoons with Homer in a yellow buggy (DiYanni, 2007, p. 81) which was disliked by others due to Homers low societal status. Emily had many conflicts between society and herself, which in the end led to a life of isolation.
When an individual reads literature there are many elements that play a key role in their own special way. When looking at the conflicts that the main characters face in the three pieces above, it is interesting to note the various types of conflict that occur and how the each add to the different meanings of the piece. In The Raven we get a very accurate portrayal of a variation of conflicts between not only the main characters, but also among others. There is a resemblance in some of the same characteristics in A Rose for Emily and in A Doll House where the author uses many more variations in the description of the conflict that arises between the main characters.
Faulkner, W. (1930). A Rose for Emily. In R. DiYanni, (Ed.) Literature: Reading Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. (pp.78-83).