Kelsey Weber May 19, 2007 Humanities 10XB Honors Final The Concept of Being Human Imagine submerging yourself

into a completely different time period such as the 1920’s or 1970’s. The environment of a country and the atmosphere existing differ from decade to decade. The 1920’s reeked of jazz and liquor while the 1970’s preached for peace and anti-war. However, in any time period the intuition that humans act upon remains the same. Humans are fueled by a core desire or want and their actions subconsciously relate back to this “want” since it is the core of all human actions. The idea of “want” can be applied in a positive or negative way and this is how the concept of being “human” is sometimes misinterpreted. The concept and the core values of being human have not changed but the conditions to which they are applied to progress instead. William Shakespeare lived during an era where the desire to know and discover fueled the progression of society. Shakespeare’s writing was influenced by the ideals discovered in the Renaissance and that have become beginning skeletal outlines for principles in society, such as his morals stated in “Romeo and Juliet”. The idea of a dominant male, Romeo, wooing a recessive female, Juliet, have defined the norm for gender roles in society when speaking about the desire for love. However, some people question if the norms in society are changing based on time and environment or because of the way in which humans have developed their ability to reason and progress. Fast forward to the time of World War One where Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms” details a relationship amidst the chaos of warfare. The bare reasoning for relationships is due to human characteristic’s to want something. Catherine and Henry’s unusual relationship

exhibits the want to not be alone during wartime and their seemingly forced emotional relationship begins to become genuine and emotionally real. The central relationships expressed by Shakespeare in “Romeo and Juliet” and Hemingway in “Farewell to Arms” articulates the relative reasoning by which to define the core concept of being “human”. This idea of defining the origin for human behavior is determined by human’s universal ability to want and desire. This ecumenical understanding is detailed through Shakespeare and Hemingway from their descriptions of different character interactions and intentions behind their behavior that outline similar human principles that do not alter but alternatively differ because of the conditions the axiom is applied to. Shakespeare outlines the concept of want in “Romeo and Juliet” by using the specific situations created by social conflict. By exemplifying a conflict between two families, Shakespeare creates a dilemma for the protagonists in the story, Romeo and Juliet. After recognizing their want and the obstacle of social conflict preventing the obtainment of satisfaction, Romeo and Juliet seek other ways to complete their desires. This want for satisfaction is shown to be answered by their want for love. Juliet’s desire for love fuels her to disobey her families ideals but ensure her own emotions shown here, “My only love sprung from my only hate/Too early seen unknown, and known too late!/Prodigious birth of love it is to me/That I must love a loathed enemy/ (1.5.153-5). In the first line, Juliet proclaims her love for Romeo, a personal emotion that deems satisfaction in her eyes because she continues on to explain the denying consequences that are evidently preventing her achievement of love. By using the word “prodigious”, Shakespeare describes the intensity of Juliet’s emotions and by using “birth” it shows the beginning and origin of her emotions. Her emotions are fueled by the attractive idea of

satisfaction found through love and by which her personal desires are condemned by her family’s desires and opinions of the Montague family. Her final line “That I must love a loathed enemy” proclaims her refusal to obey her family’s desire and to pursue her own instead. By using the phrase “That I must” shows a strong desire to ensure her pursuit for love is achieved since “must” denotes a strong sense of passion. She describes her love as forced because she desires it so much that it’s immune to her recessive nature towards her family. Juliet’s counterpart, Romeo, also disobeys his families ideals in order to ensure his want is achieved shown here, “And I’ll still stay, to have thee still forget/Forgetting any other home but this/ (2.3.188-7). While confessing love to one another, Romeo and Juliet exhibit a clear objective during the scene which is to obtain the others love despite both their family’s disapproval. Romeo states, “Forgetting any other home but this” which demonstrates his defying behavior towards his family due to his own desires and idea of satisfaction against his families judgment. By using the word “still” in describing his future actions to cause a future reaction of Juliet’s shows Romeo’s logical approach to obtaining his desire, which is to love Juliet without prevention. Their families conflicting feud prevents this achievement of love and this is how Shakespeare portray show humans core concept of desire is evident in human behavior to seek and obtain satisfaction. Shakespeare details how the core concept to want is demonstrated during the Renaissance but how the conditions of social conflict create an obstacle for the achievement of a certain desire. Shakespeare’s message parallels Hemingway’s message is similar where he describes the core of human concept as want through relationships in another time era. Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms” displays the concept of want by manipulation of personal conflict. World War one introduced several new ideas,, like the

severity of warfare and the ramifications that came along with it. He criticizes the glorification of war and the events of the war through his two main characters Henry and Catherine. Henry’s indifferent attitude and reasoning for participating in fighting in the war begins to alter when his personal desire to prevent solitude is countered by Catherine’s reciprocating desire. Catherine proposes a relationship with Henry because of loose reasoning that relates back to the war. The two manipulate their own personal conflict and reasoning by recognizing their desires and the specific direction they need to take to ensure achievement. Henry’s initial response to his feelings towards Catherine contradict his behavior in pursuing her shown here, “Often a man wishes to be alone and a girl wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others…But we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together” (249). Henry laments his thoughts about his love for Catherine and he answers them by explaining it relates to the result their relationship brings. He uses the word “We” several times which describes Henry and Catherine as a unit, which references his point about being lonely and fear. Catherine and Henry counter each other and maintain a relationship by manipulating their individual feelings and creating new reciprocating emotions to survive the conditions of warfare. He uses “lonely” and “afraid” in the same sentence but describes his bond with Catherine as prevention to feeling lonely or afraid by saying “But we were never lonely and never afraid”. Using “we” and then “never” shows the results of their relationship. Henry recognizes the perks of loving Catherine and manipulates himself to feel for her in order to survive the mental intensity during the war. Catherine shows the basis for her relationship with Henry when escaping their hotel shown here

“All you have is me and I go away’ ‘That’s true.’… ‘I know it must be a dreadful feeling to have nothing at all suddenly’ ‘My life used to be full of everything.’ I said, ‘Now if you aren’t with me I haven’t a thing in the world’” (257). Catherine demonstrates the idea of solitude here talking to Henry and she says “It must be a dreadful feeling to have nothing at all”, which exudes her personal opinion about being alone as well as her understanding of her position in helping Henry by loving him. By saying “dreadful feeling”, she is describing the human concept of want, which is satisfaction through emotions by desire which is what Catherine and Henry base their love off of. Each helps the other by offering emotional protection to escape the vulnerability of the war. They gain satisfaction by this protection but they do so based off of the core concept of being “human”, which is to want or desire something. Shakespeare and Hemingway both portray the core concept of being “human” as desire that is affected by social or personal conflict but they also parallel each other by displaying a desire for physicality in a relationship and the satisfaction that results. When Romeo and Juliet first meet there a sense of physical attraction and this relates to their desire for one another. The physical aspect of their relationship plays an important role in achieving their desires because it accompanies and boosts their emotional bonding. When Romeo first sees Juliet he kisses her and speaks after saying, “Thus from my lips, by thine, my sin is purged.” Juliet responds, “Then have my lips the sin they have took”, Romeo replies back asking, “Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged/ Give me my sin again” (1.5.117-20). Romeo kissing Juliet then saying his sin is transferred to her is flirting with her in a physical way that encourages Juliet to reciprocate the feelings. By meeting and introducing himself with an immediate physical

act, and as a reader knowing the progression of their relationship later on in the book, shows there is a significant in his passionate pursuit for Juliet. When Romeo says, “O trespass sweetly urged” he stimulates a reciprocal physical behavior from Juliet. Juliet then kisses Romeo but this time the kiss is from both side consensual, showing the beginning steps of their relationship from a physical aspect that comes from Romeo’s desire for Juliet and Juliet’s new interest in Romeo. Hemingway also shows the importance of physicality in human’s desire and in a relationship through Henry and Catherine. Catherine and Henry’s relationship is very physical and they show affectionate frequently, especially when they first meet, shown here, “’You’ve got to stay,’ I said. ‘Oh, you’re wonderful.’ I was crazy about her. I could not believe she was really there and held her tight to me” (92). Henry speaks about his attraction to Catherine when first meeting her as merely physical and “held her tight to me” shows the significance of their physicality. This first instance of affection fuels their relationship which progresses to a point where they create an emotional relation where as a result Catherine becomes pregnant. Henry’s desire for Catherine begins initially by his selfish want for her comfort which he gets from her physical touch and turns Henry’s selfish desire into a combined emotional desire with Catherine. As the two grow, they create an emotional side that matches their physical side. Shakespeare and Hemingway’s description of the core concept of being human as the ability to want is ubiquitous but the way in which the relationships contrast is the conditions that this conceptualization of desire is applied to. The message suggested by Shakespeare and Hemingway about the question of human existence can be observed in their writing. The themes and morals asserted in their literature declare an intrinsic truth about the root of human’s concept and ultimately the

reasoning for their actions. Shakespeare and Hemingway identify the complicated question of “Why?” and answer simple by the process of funneling down to the idea of motive and desire. Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” describes the want for love and the way in which a personal aspiration denotes a sense of satisfaction which is defiant of social conflict. Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms” details how the want for comfort and the want to prevent solitude that includes fear, is defiant of personal conflict and the basis is a manipulation of personal mentality to achieve a coveted sense of satisfaction. The base reasoning behind all human behavior, which depends specifically on the situation or scenario submerged in, connects to the idea of want and satisfaction. The reasoning behind why behavior specifically depends on the environment or situation because the achievement of satisfaction can sometimes be impossible or difficult to acquire. It’s possible that the popular rock band The Rolling Stones were right when they said, “I can’t get no satisfaction, cause’ I try and I try and I try and I try but I can’t get no...” Satisfaction is only achieved by identifying a personal desire but universally, the ability to desire is the base definition to describe the concept of being “human”.

Sources: 1. Shakespeare, William. “Romeo and Juliet”. New York: The Folger Shakespeare Library, 1992. 2. Hemingway, Ernest. “A Farewell to Arms”. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1957.