The prevailing messages of grief from loss; and its counterpart; how individuals overcome the times of loss it is evident throughout the literary works of Geraldine Brooks in the Year of Wonders and Jonathan Teplitzky The Railway Man. These universal themes transcend time, with Brooks setting Year of Wonders during the plague in 1665 and Teplitzky‘s The Railway Man is set during the 19080’. Both authors feeling compelled to express their viewpoint on the nature of these issues experienced by many in society and by doing so exploring the complexity of these themes.
Initially, Brooks consistently portrays her association with the notion of suffering and loss. Michael Mompellion is a fundamental character who exhibits these grievances in the novel. Mompellion’s initial paramount experience of loss is during the death of his beloved wife Elinor Mompellion. Whilst she is about to be buried and Anna Comments “He had expended the last of his strength…fighting those who tried… to lead him away from Elinor’s body” (Brooks, p. 263). This harrowing quote indicates the hysteria and distraughtness Michael was brought to by the loss of his wife Elinor, refusing to leave her side even when she is not conscious. Moreover, the austerity of Mompellion’s pain indicates more so by the rector Mr Stanley when he declares to Anna that he “thinks grief has underdone [Mompellion]” (Brooks, p.267). This validates Mompellion’s ineptitude of surpassing his loss spiralling into isolation, insularity and blame. The seriousness of Momepellion’s anguish continues weeks afterwards causing the loss purpose and self-respect. Michael discusses his change in affiliation with God when he states 'I thought I spoke for God. My whole life, all I have done, all I have said, all I have felt, has been based upon a lie. Untrue in everything' (Brooks, p.282). This verifies the incapability of Mompellion’s overcoming his hardships and how such loss has provoked resentment in God, something that has controlled Momepllion’s entire life. Brook’s portrayal of Mompellion as the foremost sufferer of overbearing loss indicates her alignment with the aftereffect of loss.
Similarly, Jonathon Teplitzky establishes Eric Lomax as a prisoner of war survivor damaged and tormented by his experiences in The Railway Man. Eric Lomax and his fellow Prisoner of war survivors have recently discovered one of their barbaric torturers is still alive. To exacerbate the situation the torturer is now a guide at their Prisoner of War camp museum, showing innocent tourists around the place he once inhabited as a soldier. Subsequently, Finlay one of Eric’s war comrades commits suicide and Eric begins to have traumatic flashbacks and episodes, Eric is haunted by his memories and humiliated by the loss of dignity and pain he suffered. Leading him to shut himself away from reality and become reclusive. The severity and deepness of Eric’s loss are demonstrated when he proclaims “The wounds were not on the surface, nor detectable by stethoscope.” (Teplitzky, 2013). The fact that Eric suggests that the severity the damage has caused him, showing that although physically he may have recovered mentality the wounds are deep. Shame and lack of self-worth within himself continue to torture him. Eric’s character is someone who suffers greatly from the many losses he has endured in the most harrowing situations. As a result, Eric’s character is an example of Teplitzky’s relation to the devastation of loss. Conversely, Geraldine Brooks explores the diverse effects of loss and overcoming the substantial product developed as a result. The author displays the diverse positives from developing after loss and the effects of what forms. Anna Frith is some who contains the capability to progress past the difficulties and suppress the Augean misery.
Analogous to this, Jonathon Teplitzky displays comparable abidance to these beliefs. This is demonstrated in Eric’s strength to overcome his loss and trauma through the relationship he builds from the ruins with his previous tormentor Nagase and the bond with his wife Patti. For example, Eric and Patti travel to meet Nagase in Kanchanaburi where Eric was forced to work as a prisoner in the war. Once the two meet again Eric hands Nagase a letter which reads “I have suffered much, but I know you have suffered to” (Teplitzky, 2013). This quote highlights Eric overcoming his strong underlying emotions of abhorrence for Nagase and apprehending the disastrous effect it would have caused Nagase. Furthermore, he continually demonstrates his exoneration of Nagase for his transgressions when the letter recites “While I cannot forget, what happened in Kanchanaburi, I assure you of my total forgiveness. Sometime the hating has to stop” (Teplitzky, 2013). The fact that Eric Lomax pronounces his resolves, suggests that he healed he wounds from the war and overcome his torment through relationships, in this case – his wife and Nagase. While the memories of that atrocious period of his life will always remain with him, he is able to relinquish the pain and no longer live with the burden of hatred. This magnanimity is admirable, thus Jonathon Teplitzky’s adherence to the resolution of healing become conclusively indisputable.
Literary works demonstrate the complex emotions of loss. The enormity of it and difficulty of processing grief and moving forward. Both the works of Geraldine Brook’s Year of Wonders and Jonathon Teplitzky’s The Railway Man traverse this theme. The themes of loss, grief, psychological characteristics and behavioural traits are established in each story. The connections between the two narratives comprehensively display that these themes are not restricted to time periods; but actually perpetuate and definitely transcend time.
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