Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Man Who Was Thursday, Final Paper Assignment

Hello everyone! I owe this blog a post. It is now Holy Week...we are days away from Easter! Yay!
Yesterday I finally finished my last assignment for G. K. Chesterton's short novel, The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare. It took me a really long time to figure out my paper topic, and now that it is complete, I'm very proud of it and wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!

Literature Qtr 3 Week 7 Paper

G. K. Chesterton’s The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare, is the story of seven anarchists who are not really anarchists. The driving force behind the action, terror, mystery and drama of the story is the giant, mysterious gentleman called Sunday. However, we never really know what or who Sunday is. We know he is the leader of the famed and feared Seven Days Council and gathers the heroic detectives who represent the days of the week, making them believe each of the others is a murderous anarchist. At the same time, Sunday is the wise and kind “man in the dark” who called each of the detectives into the police force. Because Sunday is the one thing we never have answers about but the thing we desire most to understand, I believe that Chesterton means what he says in subtitling the story A Nightmare, and that Sunday’s role lies in his possession of the truly nightmarish essence of the tale.
At the end of The Man Who Was Thursday, all seven men are gathered together and dressed in beautiful robes that represent the day of Creation they stand for. Sunday is the Sabbath, the day God rested. He tells the detectives that he is “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.” When his back is turned, he seems terrifying, and evil. Face to face, he is still terrifying because of his massiveness, but there is something about his face that makes all of the detectives think of the good. Because Sunday seems to mirror the incomprehensible vastness of God, many people believed that his role in the story is that of a Deity. But Chesterton, in an article published in the Illustrated London News, explained that this was not the truth. “It was a very melodramatic sort of moonshine, but it had a kind of notion in it; and the point is that it described, first a band of the last champions of order fighting against what appeared to be a world of anarchy, and then the discovery that the mysterious master both of the anarchy and the order was the same sort of elemental elf who had appeared to be rather too like a pantomime ogre.  This line of logic, or lunacy, led many to infer that this equivocal being was meant for a serious description of the Deity; and my work even enjoyed a temporary respect among those who like the Deity to be so described. But this error was entirely due to the fact that they had read the book but had not read the title page. The book was called The Man Who Was Thursday:  A Nightmare.”
That is not to say that the story has no meaning, though Chesterton wrote it to have the discordance and confusion of a nightmare. Throughout The Man Who Was Thursday, the main characters are repeatedly faced with what at first seems to be true evil. But every time, they find there is just a clever trick or a simple misunderstanding that reveals that what they thought was evil is really good. Many people might believe that, by this, Chesterton means to say that evil does not exist; it is only a mask that good sometimes wears. But this is not the case. What Chesterton illustrates in this is that the power of evil means nothing. It would not matter if all but a few good men were left in the world; the greatest power of evil is weaker than the weakest power of good. This partially explains the role of Sunday; he’s supposed to scare us, confuse us, surprise us, and then leave us guessing. Although he could manipulate the detectives, we see that he had no power to harm them. Evil is real, and it can be corruptive and harmful, but evil has no power over us until we welcome it.
In conclusion, The Man Who Was Thursday only makes sense when we look at it as a nightmare. It is a fantastic and funny tale, with heroism and courage and wonderful characters. But Chesterton did not write it to be a funny mystery story. The story is not a good dream; it is a nightmare. Chesterton said of this perplexing masterpiece of his, “It was not intended to describe the real world as it was, or as I thought it was, even when my thoughts were considerably less settled than they are now. It was intended to describe the world of wild doubt and despair which the pessimists were generally describing at that date; with just a gleam of hope in some double meaning of the doubt, which even the pessimists felt in some fitful fashion.” Sunday is, therefore, the embodiment of this ‘wild doubt and despair’ with ‘just a gleam of hope’, the vehicle for Chesterton’s intentions in writing such an imaginative story.

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