Allegories, or stories that use the characters, places, and events as a symbol for various general qualities in order to reflect a general truth, is present in literary arts. Mostly, these allegories reflect different philosophies governing the human experience. Through the use of several devices in their narration, writers are able to explain several issues of a human person and its community.
Some of these effective devices are the natural, unnatural, and supernatural elements that constantly occur in literature in order to effectively reflect a general theme. A thorough study of the literary works written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Tim O’Brien, and Flannery O’Connor; and an analysis of the film “The Sixth Sense” reveals how the mixture of natural, unnatural, and supernatural devices leads to a precise retelling of a literary work.
Young Goodman Brown, an allegory of the spirit-vs.-flesh conflict
This story obviously uses natural elements to develop the setting and the plot of the stories. Hawthorne uses specific descriptions of the road the Young Goodman Brown is taking. By doing so, images are formed in the minds of the readers while reading the story. However, the story of Young Goodman Brown is also infused with unnatural elements that give a certain “twist” to the story. For instance, it is unnatural for Young Goodman Brown to see a known holy man, Goody Cloyse, deep in the dark and gloomy forest so late in the evening. These things surprise the readers, making them anticipate for the reason behind these unnatural events.
Also, at the very beginning of the story, it is reflected that Young Goodman Brown has committed an unnatural thing to leave his wife alone one night. This fact arouses the curiosity of the reader, making them observe little details in the story to look for clues that may answer the questions in their mind. Young Goodman Brown has admitted this fact by asking “what [kind of] a wretch is he to leave [Faith] on such an errand” (Last Name of the Author of your book 1835).
Lastly, there is an infusion of supernatural devices in the story such as the traveler that Young Goodman Brown meets along the street. We readily now that this man is a supernatural character because he is a symbol for evil in this story. This fact is made obvious because of the snake-like staff that he holds and his description all throughout the story. He is referred to as a “serpent” in the 39th line of the story.
By the infusion of these three devices, we came to understand the Young Goodman Brown is an allegory of the real battle that happens within a person: the battle of good and evil. Even though there are infusions of supernatural events in the story, the story is still plausible because the arrangement and harmony of the various elements used in the story leads to the depiction of the real battle that happens inside every human being: the battle of following the purity of the spirit or the carnal desires of the body. In short, this story is plausible because it reflects a fact, a truth.
A Real War Story: the story of the real life
The natural element used in this story is very distinct. It is blatantly told in almost every passage of the story. It is, as we all know, the effects of war or violence in a human person. The first story narrated in this story shows the natural change that a man undergoes when he is exposed to violence and brutal experience of war. The kid, Rat Kiley, is drastically changed in the story from an affectionate person to an unfeeling one. And such a change is natural. In the second narration, it shows an unnatural event when the narrator saw, or believe to have seen, a dead kid being swallowed by the blinding light. As the narrator said, in a true war story, it is difficult to distinguish what really happened from what we thought really happened.
Such an instance is unnatural, but still, is true. The supernatural elements are seen on the later part of the narration. It is said that the soldiers, while in the war, hear different voices of people in a cocktail party. The narrator further explains that the voices heard in the mountains are not from any human but from the trees and stones that speak. This, furthermore, supports the supernatural element depicted in this part of the narration. In short, the fusion of the following elements makes it possible for the story to illustrate the “real” image of war. And by doing such, this narration reflects a plausible plot.
The revelation in Revelation
This story reflects the natural aspect of man, that is, to judge or evaluate other persons and to try, as much as he can, to make himself above anything else. In this story, this natural aspect of man can be seen in the character of Mrs. Ruby Turpin. However, the unnatural event in this story happens when a fat girl reading a book about human development strangles her. Such an action is unnatural to happen to a normal everyday life. However, this unnatural element becomes a tool for the author to introduce the conflict that happens in the story, that is, a person’s, represented by Mrs. Turpin, tendency to judge people and thinks that they are above others.
The supernatural event in this story occurs when Mrs. Turpin had a vision while in his farm. He saw the souls of the people he prejudged walking hand in hand to heaven while she, whom she thought, is the more righteous that them, is the last in line. This supernatural think is of course, impossible to happen. But still, the story’s plot is a plausible one. The supernatural aspect could have happened only in the mind of Mrs. Turpin. In addition, the realizations that Mrs. Turpin had, is a general truth that is applicable in real life.
The supernatural and natural in The Sixth Sense
On the first perception, the story of The Sixth Sense can be considered a supernatural story because it includes elements such as ghosts and clairvoyance. The character of Cole Sear, a child who sees ghosts, is used to infuse the supernatural element in the story. He can interact with spirits and can mingle with their affairs. He becomes a bridge between the human world and the spirit world. In this part, though such a fact is considered supernatural, the storyline is still plausible because it uses natural and factual devices such as the science of Psychology. Dr. Malcolm Crowe is a psychologist. Such a fact is already natural and factual.
Because we view the story in his eyes, we always considered that what he sees and do is true. Never have we thought that he is just a ghost who didn’t know yet that he is dead. Because we see how he interacts with Cole and how he deals with his frustration in being successful in Cole’s case, we felt the emotions that the psychologist is feeling and thus, we know that what happened in the story is plausible and conceivable. We are left with the message that says: every person has his own frustrations, and such a message is true.
In short, the mixture of natural, unnatural, and supernatural elements in the selected stories helps in developing an effective theme that reflects the reality of life. Also, they are necessary to make the stories “larger than life” but still, believable.