The corrupt society within The Stranger by Albert Camus ultimately decides protagonist Monsieur Meursault's happiness by alienating him because of his differences. Monsieur Meursault was an honest man who followed the path life had given him. His indifference contributed to his honesty, as he stated his observations plainly and straightforward. Meursault was a dedicated worker, did what his friends asked of him, and was straight forward with his feelings. Yet, because he was so brutally honest, society feels threatened by his differences. Meursault claims that "he wasn't dissatisfied with [his life] here at all" (pg 41). However, after Meursault shoots an Arab and ends up in jail he recognizes that he is unhappy. During his time in prison, he is harshly judged by his lawyer, as well as others. He is treated unkindly and as if he is a monster. His own feelings of honesty condemn him in a way, because society is uncomfortable with his feelings. Meursault was a man who made the choice to be satisfied, one may say happy, with his life. Society, however, made the decision for him to be unhappy by depicting Meursault as different and evil.
Meursault made the choice to be happy (or satisfied).
Society, however, made the choice to make Meursault unhappy.
The protagonist in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man written by James Joyce has an interestingly unique way in which he views the world. Stephen, it seems, has also been an outsider, yet it seems as if he chose to be there. When he was young, he enjoyed speculating from the side and viewing what the other boys were playing. Stephen began his life by having a negative outlook on life. He claimed that he had a skewed childhood and would never be happy. As Stephen is dragged into his own depths of negativity, Stephen decides to commit sins more and more, specifically with women. As Stephen slowly becomes more engulfed by his sins, he strays further and further from a chance at happiness. Until one day, he is impacted greatly by a priests talk about Hell and what happens if one commits a sin. Stephen becomes fearful of Hell and wants to escape the sins that have overtaken his soul. This is the beginning of Stephen creating a path towards happiness. He changes his life around, first by starting with a confession. While Stephen is still tempted by previous sins he has committed, he remains loyal to his new life style. This contributes to his overall happiness. Stephen realizes that he cannot do what everyone else what's him to do. He instead must decide things for himself and go his own way. He must live his life the way he wants to and he realizes this will enable him to experience happiness. While Stephen was not always a happy boy, Stephen made drastic changes within his life which ultimately guided him towards happiness.
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison pertains an unnamed narrator who is faced with a series of choices in order to discover himself. With each choice he makes, he has to contemplate how this will affect his life. The narrator begins in a state of invisibility, lacking happiness. Through out the book, he is taken on several journeys which help him to discover himself, and remove the invisibility, while finding happiness. Unfortunately, at the end of the novel the narrator finds himself invisible once again, and no longer feels happiness.
At the beginning of the novel, the narrator is at the Battle Royal giving a speech to dozens of white men. While he is delivering his speech, no one is listening to him yet he continues to do it. This illustrates the beginning of his feelings of invisibility. Instead of feeling joy, the narrator is terrified of the situation he is in. As the novel continues on, the narrator finds himself attending college, searching for a job, living with a woman named Mary, giving a motivational curbside speech, and becoming a part of the Brotherhood, all of which are steps towards happiness for him. Through out these different scenarios, the narrator is able to find himself. He is able to feel joy, even from something as simple as a Yam because he is able to reflect back on home life. Unfortunately, the narrator gets to a point where he once again begins to lose himself and return back into the state he was in at Battle Royal. He finds himself alone, and unable to motivation an audience, like he could at the curbside speech. The narrator is faced with a series of hard times. Because all of these hard times happen so quickly, the narrator does not consider his happiness. The lack of happiness pushes him back towards being invisible.
The narrator in Invisible Man is a part of a generation that is racist. His cultural experience involves prejudices between Black's and White's. Because of the culture he was surrounded by, he was faced by many different hardships. Through out his journey, the narrator had choices which could lead to happiness. While many of his choices did, his ending decisions lead the narrator towards invisibility and unhappiness once again.
A Passage to India concerns the relationships between two very different cultures of India and Britain. Britain has moved to India to take power over the Indians who are "unable to rule themselves." However the story more pertains to the cultural experiences characters have that drive them towards what they really want from life, ultimately leading to happiness.
Aziz is an Indian doctor who has three kids but lost his wife a few years ago. He works for some of the British folk and struggles with finding joy in life; then he meets Mrs. Moore. Mrs. Moore and Aziz meet in a temple and realize they have many similarities. The similarities between cultures help create a common ground for them. Aziz teaches Mrs. Moore much about the indian life, and vise versa. As the novel develops, Mrs. Moore comes to the realization that God created everyone equal. She feels united, not only with people, but with the whole world. Without this cultural experience, she would not believe whole-heartedly in equality and discovers happiness in her new unity with the world. In return, Aziz develops a new perspective on British people. Instead of believing they are all snobby, he realizes that stereotypes cannot be placed upon a whole culture, because there will always be someone who defies it. Aziz overcomes his prejudice against the British and develops a friendship that will last his whole life. He develops happiness through his friendship. Contrarily, Mrs. Moore's son, Ronny, refuses to interact with the Indian culture. Instead of gaining a new cultural perspective, he maintains his negative outlook on the Indian culture. Ronny ends up losing his fiance and after sending his mother home after his rage in her new unity with the world, she dies. Ronny refused to give India a chance and instead got rejected from happiness.
As characters within A Passage to India accepted cultural experiences, they gained greater knowledge on the world and got closer to true happiness. Those who refused, however, had their happiness taken. The cultural experiences within the novel guided characters either away or towards happiness, depending on if they accepted the cultural differences of not.
The royal highness King Henry IV prides in his power. A wedge is driven between King Henry and his son, Prince Harry, when the Prince places himself into a different "culture" within the kingdom, where he is happy. Instead of being a power-driven war-god like Hotspur, he is instead a thief, which is shameful to the King. As the play goes on, many of King Henry's followers turn against him because of his disloyalty, yet in the end it is his son who helps maintain family power over the kingdom. Furthermore, it is proven that choosing a happy environment for oneself is an advantage over attempting to place oneself in a powerful environment.
The happy environment seen in the play is when Prince Harry is with the robbers, thief's, and whores, a unique culture, at the bar. There are many laughs shared between the criminals and the Prince of Wales. While many perceive Prince Harry as an underachiever as a leader, he secretly has a plan to become powerful. Yet, he manages to give himself happiness along the way. Meanwhile, his father King Henry has many struggle, such as being unable to invade the crusades, worrying about his son, and maintaining a good control over his kingdom. Eventually, it is seen the King Henry is not respected because of his disloyalty to many of his followers and abuse of power. Prince Harry then becomes the more powerful and well-liked leader between the two. Each had very different approaches to their time of power. Henry faces a series of serious events and deceived many of his followers, while Harry enjoyed laughs, happiness, and drinks with the criminals in the kingdom. Prince Harry lived a happier life with a unique culture, the criminals, than his Dad lived. Harry's culture taught him to be a good leader, and that power is not the goal, but instead to better what you have power over. In fact, through out the whole play Harry is the only leader in the play who never says the word "power".
Without Harry's unique cultural experience, he would not have found happiness yet also discovered how to be a good leader. King Henry, instead, lived a life full of deceit and revenge and did not experience happiness. If King Henry had not been caught up in his strive for power, he may have had the opportunity to experience a different culture. This would have opened up the opportunity for him to discover his own happiness.
Within the isolated moor's of Northern England lay two pieces of property, cursed by it's own inhabiters. Wuthering Heights Thruscross Grange are filled with destruction of love and the invisibility of happiness. When a visitor stumbles across this dreary place, he soon gains a different perspective on happiness. Lockwood takes a visit to the two subcultures within Northern England. The dwellers at these settings, as Lockwood observes, are faced with many different opportunities within the novel to have a chance of happiness, yet instead the characters decide against happiness and instead choose other "necessities", such as reputation and money.
The first character to demonstrate this is Catherine Earnshaw. Growing up, Catherine was a carefree, independent young girl who did what she pleased. Her closest friend was a man named Heathcliff. Their personalities were almost identical and ideally they were perfect for each other. Catherine eventually moved into another house with another family, so they could teach her to become the proper lady. When she returned to Wuthering Heights some months later, her carefree personality had drastically changed. Instead, Catherine had more important concerns such as dressing well, acting proper, and exceeding the expectations those around her placed on her. In the course of time, Catherine decides to "love" Edgar, and forget about Heathcliff. Edgar could offer Catherine a great reputation and financial stability, all of which Heathcliff could not. Catherine claims that "it would degrade [her] to marry Heathcliff and therefore "he shall never know how [she] loves him" (86). Alternatively to potentially having a happier life with Heathcliff, Catherine decides to marry a man she does not love, all because of a reputation.
After Lockwood heard about the lives of the characters in the moor's, he realized how crazy their values and morals are. At the time of this realization, he decides to leave the moor's and go else where. Now that Lockwood has experienced these different sub cultures, he realizes that through Catherine's poor decision she ultimately ended up being miserable and dying. While Catherine did not choose happiness, Lockwood realizes the craziness of where he is staying and decides to leave, conclusively leading him to happiness in his future.