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Holly Golightly as an existential protagonist

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Who is Holly Golightly? Socialite? Opportunist? A Lost Soul?-a “free bird” not to be caged?….no, she is an existential rogue. Truman Capote carefully handled the creation of this character and through her was able to elaborate on major existential themes. She is clearly one of Capote’s most intricate characters and possibly, the greatest existential icon in both American literature and classical, American cinema . With this analysis, Holly Golightly must be broken down to obtain a further glance into the numerous existential elements she inhibits.

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“It may be normal darling: but I’d rather be natural”-Golightly. From the get go, Golightly expresses herself to the narrator like an open book. Her fears, insecurities, and wants are the basis of most conversations both these characters share. You know the days when you get the mean reds? The mean reds. You mean the blues? No, the blues are because you’re getting fat, and maybe it’s been raining too long, that’s all.

The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid. And you don’t know what you’re afraid that. Don’t you ever have that feeling”-Holly Golightly. The mean reds, as described by Golightly, is a notion closely knit to the theistic existentialist. Angst, fear, worry, these feelings come across Golightly and are only relieved when she frequents Tiffany’s.

“It calms me down right away, the quietness and proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there, not with those kind men with their nice suits, and the lovely smell of silver and alligator wallets. If I could find a real life place like Tiffany’s then I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name”-Golightly. The comfort Golightly feels isn’t so much a connection between her materialistic wants and the store itself, but more so because this location offers comfort, the type of comfort the theistic existentialist so direly seeks. Tiffany’s is in itself the closest representation of stability that Holly comes across throughout both the novella and theatrical adaptation.

The existential mindset sets a clear standard for lost illusion. Once one is caught in the material world, not one person in ten thousand finds the time to form literary taste, to examine the validity of philosophical concepts for himself, and to develop, for lack of a better phrase, I might call the tragic and wise sense of life”-F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald’s take on existentialism in correlation with the ideology of “lost illusion” ,both sets the ground for Capote’s Golightly and helps to shed some light on the character’s motif. In her high fashioned, eloquent, and outspoken demeanor, Holly express attitudes of materialistic wants and her manipulative means towards obtaining them. “I told you, you can always make yourself love someone”, But you can’t give your hear to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get.

Until they’re strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a stronger tree. Then the sky. That’s how you’ll end up Mr.Bell, if you allow yourself to love a wild thing. You’ll end up looking at the sky”- Holly Golightly. When referring to her potential suitors and overall view on romantic love, Holly leads the mindset that love is a tangible notion, by her standards at least. In accordance to set standards, love can be manipulated and crafted to meet one’s personal needs, convenience, and emotional safety. Holly’s material wants seem to far exceed those of her existential being on a superficial basis, but the narrator sheds a different light on the issue in correlation with the idea of “lost illusion”

“The average personality reshapes frequently, every few years even our bodies even our bodies undergo a complete overhaul-desirable or not. It is a natural thing that we should change. alright, here were two people who would never change. That is what Mildred Grossman had in common with Holly Golightly. They would never change because they had been given their character too soon; which like sudden riches, leads to a lack of proportions: the one had splurged herself into top heavy realist-the other a lopsided realist. In relation to Fitzgerald’s excerpt on existentialism , the narrator’s take is that the key flaw of both Golightly and Grossman is their extremes-the all or nothing mentality. This being due to the circumstances set before her, (poverty, social norms, and a naiveness due to both), Golightly develops a misconstrued view on life (lost illusion) which interferes with her innate existential beliefs. Of course, redemption makes itself present towards the culmination of the novella.

Honesty, in spite of every comment, action, and obstacle Holly faces, she is a firm believer that she is an honest individual. Though both sides of this spectrum are discussed in the novella/film, even those doubtful of her stance also share a form of agreement with her. “You’re wrong. She is a phony. But on the other hand you’re right. She’s not a phony because she’s a real phony. She believes all this crap she believes. You can’t talk it out of her”- Oj Berman. As an existential rogue, Golightly’s personality is layered in numerous ways. Her honesty derives partially from her atheistic views towards life. The atheistic existentialist believes that there is no inherent meaning to things, but that life itself and it’s many outcomes is determined by the choices one makes. Holly is presented with opportunities to mold her manner of speaking, acting, dressing,career path she chooses, and the whom is worthy as a potential suitor in accordance to society’s norms. Though all these concepts appear to hold relevance to her, she, ultimately, follows whatever her consensus deems as the worthy path and is honest about her motives towards such decision.

“I don’t mean I’d mind being rich and famous.That’s very much on my schedule, and sometime I’ll get around to it; but if it happens I’d like my ego tagging along. I want to still be me when I wake up one fine day and have breakfast at Tiffany’s.”,”Be anything but a coward, a pretender, and emotional crook; a whore. I’d rather have cancer than a dishonest heart. Not to be pious, just being practical. Sure cancer will cool you, but the other’s sure to kill you.” Holly Golightly.” The opportunities to rise to success and when tangled in compromising situations, save her own skin, were made available to Golightly. Fame, success, even a judicial pardon were obtainable to her, but she in everyone of these situations she chose to stick to her wits and innate nature. When confronted with the opportunity to travel to New York and potentially become a successful actress, she could have testified against Sally Tomato and been spared of jail time, but she chose to pursue what she found attainable by her means and what correlated most with her nature. Once again, in accordance to the atheistic existentialist being, she chose to confront her “angst rather than acting in bad faith and giving into the absurdity of conventions”.

The most clearcut sign of Golightly’s existential being is the relationship with her cat; the slob with no name, and in the theatrical version, that with Varjack. “Poor slob without a name.” It’s a little inconvenient, his not having a name. But I have no right to give him one: he’ll have to wait until he belongs to somebody. We just sort of took by the river one day, we don’t belong to each other. He’s an independent and so am I. I don’t to own anything until I’ve found the place where and things belong together.” Despite this statement, Golightly most concrete, interpersonal relationship is with her cat. It is the only being she shares a living space with, the one being she’d consider taking with her when the adherent meaning of “home” makes itself present to her ( If I could find a real life place like Tiffany’s I’d buy some furniture and give the cat a name.)

She refuses to name her cat because in essence, she doesn’t find a meaning to their co-existing with each other, naming it would be the same as claiming ownership, and ownership is against the general existential of the co-habitual relationship between living things and the universe. Nevertheless,the cat is the one being that guides her towards redemption, as previously discussed. “Am I scared buster. Yes, at last. Because it could go on forever. Not knowing what’s yours until you’ve thrown it away.”-Golightly. When Holly reaches the existential point of departure, hence realizing she must throw away everything she once clung onto as hers, , the “no name slob” is revealed to be the one being that she can rely on as hers, and thus she reaches redemption. “Oh Jesus God, we did belong to each other. He was mine” Golightly.

“You call yourself a “free bird, a wild thing. And you’re afraid someone is going to stick you in that cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somiland. It’s where ever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just keep running into yourself.-Paul Varjack. Under Hemingway’s existential philosophy, Golightly embodies the characteristics of an apprentice, with much room for growth, obliquely passive and life affects her more than she affects it. Varjack, however, is closely connected to the exemplar existentialist. Skilled, professional, and charismatic, he is a balance to Holly.

Through each of the trivial ordeals Golightly faces in her existential universe, Varjack is always present to help her back on her feet; her parties gone awry, Doc Golightly’s arrival in town, Fred’s death, the scandal following her arrest and the inevitable abandonment of Jose Ybarra due to such. As an atheistic existentialist, Varjack offers Golightly the opportunity for redemption through facing her angst, responsibility, and giving into the absurdity of conventions which is, in his perspective, the mutual love between both. His Atheistic approach is linked to that of Fitzgerald’s, where redemption is only possible when links to the materialistic world are completely extinguished.

So, more so than trying to decide who Holly Golightly truly is, the real quesiton is, which existentialist persona is she? The absurdist, who hides behind a facade of dark humor/ humor of the grotesque to justify the complexities of her life ( drunk suitors harassing her at her door step, her swindling money out of dates for the powder room, and the fact that her instability and fears impede her from naming her cat and buying an furniture. Perhaps she’s more of a definite theistic existentialist? Where her outlandish comments towards her personality and her universe and redeemable by her search for the meaning of all inherent things ; such as a place she can call home, naming her cat when such happens, and finding the apt suitor for marriage.

As an apprentice, she unconsciously seeks to grow and is highly susceptible to the happenings around her; Doc Golightly’s visit, the death of her brother Fred, and the end of her engagement with Ybarra, all which are representative of the existentialist view on death. The answer is of course, all of the above. Just as there is no definite take on the existential philosophy on life, Golightly’s character is too multi-layered to have one definite existentialist classification placed upon her. She is the existentialist mantra of Capote’s works and the glorification of this belief in both english literature and American cinema.

Cite this Holly Golightly as an existential protagonist

Holly Golightly as an existential protagonist. (2016, Jun 15). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/holly-golightly-as-an-existential-protagonist/

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