Thursday, February 14, 2013


Anna Bellerive
            The characters in “Liberty” by Thomas Lynch, “Suburban” by John Ciardi, and “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe, are all trapped in some sense. While Fortunato is literally trapped in the catacombs by the narrator and the narrator is trapped himself due to his anger and vengeance, the characters in the other two works, the speaker in “Liberty” and Mrs. Friar in “Suburban”, are trapped by the suburbs that they live in. Similarly to the characters, I was trapped in Zen meditation, by having to be still and keep my mind focused, when my body craved the opposite.
            In “The Cask of Amontillado” both the narrator and Fortunato are trapped in some aspect. The narrator is seized with his anger, and lets it devour himself to the point where he sets out to kill the man who sparked the flame. This vengeance consumes him as he slowly lures Fortunato to a horrific death deep within the catacombs. Fortunato, in this scenario, is literally trapped. He falls for the bait set before him, in the form of a cask of Amontillado, and is soon trapped in the vengeful web of the narrator like a fly. The allusions to Nitre, further give the appearance of a web, and give away the cynical plot underway and the narrator’s deadly intentions. In the end Fortunato was left to die, chained to the wall and barricaded in. This sort of physical entrapment was felt by me, during the meditation sessions. My body rebelled against having to sit perfectly still for twenty-five minutes. It caused itches that begged to be scratched, tingling limbs that soon grew numb, and an overall sense of discomfort at having to be still. It was as if my body was two different people, with two very different intentions: the conscious me, who wanted to participate in meditation, and my body who fought me on this every step of the way.
            In “Suburban”, Mrs. Friar is trapped in her suburban way of thinking. She can’t bring herself to even say that a dog had defecated in her petunias, since the thought of her perfect world being defiled was unbearable. She insists upon its removal, and the speaker, not willing to miss out on the opportunity, takes the poop and plants it in his own petunia bed. Unlike Mrs. Friar who was stuck in her one-mindedness that poop is a vile thing, the speaker was able to accept the flaws and use them to his advantage, in other words, using the poop as fertilizer for his plants. He is adaptable while she is rigid, and the author of this poem argues that seeking perfection in this way prevents one from being able to make the negatives in one’s life into positives.
The speaker in “Liberty” feels trapped by his surroundings, the suburbs, just as I felt trapped in my body during meditation. As a result, he urinates outside, his own personal form of rebellion against the plumbing, and metaphorically, the order and systems which are so different from West Clare, the place he longs for. His anecdote references the whitethorn tress planted in the yard, and talks of their holiness, for being of the same type that crowned Jesus’s head. Jesus’s sacrifice freed us from what original sin had condemned us to, and therefore Jesus can be seen as a symbol of freedom. In the poem, these trees represent that freedom, and the liberty the speaker can achieve in that place. Unlike previous sessions of Zen meditation, this week we tried a new type of meditation where we laid down on our backs and focused on deep breathing. At the end of the session I felt like I had been freed from the discomfort of the other sessions. In this new position, not once did my body make it’s usually temper tantrums, and as a result, I was able to focus on the task at hand and reach an overall calm, that previously I was unable to feel. 

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