In America there is the idea that a person can be whoever and/or whatever they want and still have the chance to succeed. This is part of the so-called American Dream. This idea is often a theme in the American novel. However, in the American novel, despite a character's desire to live the way that he or she wants, this is often met with great opposition. The opposition can come in many forms, whether it is their lack of opportunity or financial security, cultural norms, values (that are often outdated or misguided) of other characters or societies, and many other forces. Some of the characters that desire to live according to their own wishes in American novels are Isabel Archer, Edna Pontellier, Huckleberry Finn, and Henry Fleming. Each of these characters desire a sort of independence, and it is this desire that shapes their lives and the events of the worlds they exist in.
[...] She stated earlier that she would die for her children but never give up herself. So she chooses to die, instead of give up on her desires, which would be giving up herself. She cannot live on in the way she has chosen without destroying her children's reputation, so she makes a choice that again goes against what society teaches. Although she ultimately dies, she retains her independence (and lets her desires win out) in spite of the favored morality, norms, and institutions surrounding her, and in this way differs greatly from Isabel Archer. [...]
[...] She has always prided herself on her moral strength, and thus the promises she made bind her to her husband in a way that slowly strangles the life out of her independence. Isabel always has the means to support herself, and at the end of the novel Isabel has the choice to stay in America and be with Caspar, but she returns to Rome and Osmond because she feels she must due to social institutions. Isabel's desires to be independent and free thinking do not win in the end, and she gives in, letting herself be stifled by society. [...]
[...] He is interested in her for obvious reasons such as her beauty and her fortune, however the idea of triangular desire is also a reason he wants Isabel. Isabel turned down Lord Warburton, and because of this Osmond wants her more; he further desires her because Warburton does. Osmond obviously does not enjoy the fact that Isabel thinks for herself. He says to Madame Merle that it's too bad Isabel has these ideas because she will have to get rid of them. [...]
[...] He is similar to Edna however, in the way that he attempts to go against what society wants and expects. In Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn the reader is presented with the dominant social ideology of the South, especially in the realms of race/racism and slavery. Huck is able to represent a defiant and opposite belief system because although he is on the edge of this society, he is an orphan who is not fully exposed to the society. [...]
[...] His desire to be a hero is being realized, but he no longer sees it as important, as he becomes more and more aware of the reality of war. As he learns that his regiment is considered expendable, he stills maintains resolve to not retreat, no matter what happens, and his regiment achieves victory. Although he is considered one of the best in his unit, he is still haunted by his earlier failure, viewing himself as a coward for fleeing battle earlier. [...]
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