Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Ghost, The Vampire, and The Girl: Perceiving "Beloved"

Beloved: a turbulent tale of "disremembered" memories, mournful regrets, and a ghastly stampeding past, bustling into the  lives of Sethe, Denver, and Paul D. However, the question remains: what truly occurred in this mysterious tale? Is the house a separate entity of its own? Are the characters sincerely healed? Is Beloved truly Sethe's deceased child, or something far worse? It's all perspective.

124 Bluestone Road is a beacon to the past. It welcomes conflicted ghosts. It harbors enslaved pain. It traps its residents deep inside, a limbo between past and future. It stilts progression. It neglects interaction. 124 is a jail to those who look upon it from the outside. To Sethe and Denver, who dwell within it's walls, it's an escape from the present. It's a place where the past continues to live, where realities are skewed, and ghosts are said to be mournful, not haunting. Perception becomes distorted within the walls of 124. The two residents perceive the aggressive presence as comforting, a companion from the lonely past for the just as lonesome present. However, Paul D, an outsider, interprets the ghost as something entirely evil: A manifestation of manipulation and wickedness. The house is nothing concrete. It's composition is fabricated from impression, memory, and the ever-present past. Individuals shape it according to their own experience, to their past, present, and future: what they have learned, feared, and welcomed. 124 is a mirror of the mind. It skews the truth, reflecting perspective rather than reality.

Beloved. A manifestation of the past. A revengeful ghost determined to live. A vampire, a parasite to emotion and comfort. A lost girl, escaped from the confinements of slavery. "Greatly loved; dear to the heart" ( Beloved. Beloved is not concrete. She's a manifestation of the past; a manifestation of experience. In Sethe, she triggers a regret that needs to be redeemed. In Denver, she acknowledges vulnerability; a need for companionship. In Paul D, she uncovers weakness hidden under a hard shell. And in the community, she encourages unity in her destruction. She is never one thing. She lives through others, reflecting their past, their weakness.

The characters, though now free from slavery, are enslaved by the past. It holds a suffocating grip on their present, tempting them to deviate from the opportunistic future and instead dwell on what was. Beloved, though mysteriously driven, encouraged acknowledgment and acceptance of the past. With Beloved present, the past could not be easily ignored or "disremembered." It instead demanded to be seen, accepted, and forgiven. The mystifying disappearance of Beloved is perceptual in itself: "Disappeared, some say, exploded right before their eyes...Could be hiding in the trees for another chance" (310).  Hauntings of the past are elusive. The idea of healing even more so. The acceptance of the past will not always merit emotional restoration. Forgiveness of the events and oneself are the first stepping stones. But what may be considered healing to some, may differ in others. Whether the residents of 124 have truly healed is questionable. Truth, like the contents of Beloved, is rarely concrete.

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