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Alienation – “the Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, “Elephant Man” and “Othello”

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    The texts “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, “Elephant man” the film by David Lynch and “Othello” by William Shakespeare, can all be connected and contrasted by the central concept of alienation as presented by the composers of these texts through the use of various Literary, dramatic and cinematic techniques. Alienation and how effective the text has been in representing this concept can be identified and highlighted by the messages of alienation the composer has presented to their responders. The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak effectively presents the concept of alienation to the responders through the composer’s unique use of characterisation and techniques such as Imagery and personification. The structure of the novel enables us as responders to connect with and identify the various forms of alienation the characters experience through the novel and the resulting consequences.

    The messages presented to us by Zusak through his characters such as alienation as a result of death, rejection as the result of war, alienation through a lost sense of belonging and the capacity of a child’s mind to look beyond socially constructed values to empathise and relate with alienation of other individuals. These messages that we as responders can identify through the novel have been effective in shaping my understanding of alienation as they have created a new perspective for me in regards to the ways in which alienation can occur and the intensity of the consequences associated with this.

    We can identify the cause of alienation in both “The Book Thief” and “Othello” to be the difference amongst individuals, more specifically the racial segregation which is evident in both texts. In “the book thief” the Jewish community has been alienated and in “Othello” the main character, Othello is alienated due to his background and skin colour. We can observe the consequences of this alienation in both texts as Othello and the Jewish community are labelled as the “other” and hence feel isolated and a sense of not belonging. The Elephant Man” a film by David Lynch deals with the delicate topic of human nature and the ability for a society to alienate anything which is considered different. This text is highly effective in presenting the concept of alienation as the message of human nature’s cruelty and ignorance is highlighted and presented to us throughout the text, and we are still able to witness this in our immediate and global society today. The text has been overall the most effectual in allowing me to gain a better understanding about the concept of alienation as I was able o reflect on the messages presented to me as a responder of the text and the insight I hence acquired about the alienated other. This is not only a film about the ‘making of’/’alienation’ of the other by us, it is also a film about how we, even if we confront the shameful past, are unable to see/know/understand what that other is. The scary part about civilisation is when human rights/democracy/freedom become a duty or responsibility. We do not applaud the elephant man because he is our friend, we applaud just to feel good about ourselves. Othello” as a play and a character can be linked to “The Elephant Man” on the basis of the ‘making of’/’alienation’ of the other by the rest of the characters/society and how in the case of “Othello” it leads to a man of great power and dignity into question and despair. And in the “Elephant Man” a individual in striped of dignity and the title of a ‘human’. Overall the three texts mentioned above have been very influential in shaping my understanding of alienation as concept and a notion of human nature.

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    Alienation – “the Book Thief” by Markus Zusak, “Elephant Man” and “Othello”. (2018, Mar 07). Retrieved from

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