Stories and storytelling have the power to influence and introduce revolutionary and modern ideas and perspectives that allow humans to further develop a higher and deeper level of thinking, which can be used to bring justice and growth to the world. Humans live vicariously through fiction texts, such as Shakespeare’s Othello and The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna, that explore different values, ideas and experiences that help them make sense of the world, thus making it easier to be connected with it. Stories create alternate realities where the reader is engrossed in an artificial environment that is created by the author. They are immersed in a world where their perceptions of different societies like cultures, religions and ideologies can be challenged. Stories provide readers a whole new perspective on an issue or topic. Authors intricately hide messages and ideas that can revolutionize how people think as individuals, as well as collective societies. Universal themes, such as loyalty, power and vulnerability are evident in both texts and are used to connect the modern society with the past. The Elizabethan play, Othello is a dramatic tragedy that takes its form as a five-act structure. The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna is a prose fiction novel that tells the story from Jimmy’s perspective, a boy who is on the autism spectrum. Themes in these fiction texts such as redemption and vulnerability highlight and expose issues that occur in the real world that need to be reformed. Common language devices such as hamartia, catharsis and allusion give further depth to the characters in the selected fiction texts. Thus, storytelling is crucial to how humans connect and make sense of their lives, their values and the world around them.
Redemption is a crucial theme that is presented in Othello and The Eye of the Sheep. It is when a person makes up for their wrongs by preforming a deed or action that is widely accepted in society as rectifiable. Othello’s redemption is demonstrated as a punishment and his punishment is death. He speaks to Gratiano, “Here is my journey’s end” The foreshadowing portrayed in this quote reveals that Othello’s life is going to end. As he acknowledges the ending of his life, the motif of his controlling behaviour that is depicted throughout the play suggests that he will control his own fate, thus leading to the notion he will execute his own suicide. To support this notion, he believed that he deserved to go to hell. This is shown with the quote, “O cursed, cursed slave! Whip me, ye devils, / From the possession of this heavenly sight! / Blow me about in the winds! Roast me in sulphur! / Wash me in steep – down gulfs of liquid fire!” The references to ‘devils’, ‘sulphur’ and ‘liquid fire’ are connotations and biblical allusions of hell. In the Bible there are mentions of a ‘Lake of Fire’, which relates to the oxymoron of ‘liquid fire’. Towards the end of The Eye of the Sheep redemption is showcased in the form of Jimmy’s father, Gavin making amends and recompensing with Jimmy when he came back for him. Gavin shows Jimmy that he can be a loving, caring father and he would work towards strengthening the relationship and bond that he has with his son. This is evident in the quote “I was like a silkworm in a cocoon. I couldn’t be reached. He kept rocking.” The pathetic fallacy used emphasises that his father could connect with him in his own unique way. Jimmy comparing himself to a silkworm in a cocoon highlights that he had metaphorically built a cocoon for himself to be protected from the dangerous and scary world that he was exposed to before he was reunited with his father. The fact that Jimmy says his father keeps rocking means that he acknowledges his father’s remorse and guilt, and the step that he takes to be with Jimmy again. Additionally, his father tries to emotionally connect with him by rocking him because it is a behaviour that creates attachment. To further support this perception, the quote is used, “It was going to split me, and tear me, and I would come out, all of me pouring onto Uncle Rodney’s floor, but for my dad’s arms holding me together.” This quote reinforces the idea that his father is sorry, and he wants to become a better parent. Caricature is used to express how Jimmy feels out of place, but his father’s arms still hold him together, reiterating that he is trying to redeem himself by holding his son. Gavin holding Jimmy symbolises the love and affection that he has for him. He built a bridge of connection between himself and Jimmy through interaction and reconciliation. Similarly, in the modern world humans connect through the interactions they have with one another. These interactions can change certain aspects of a person’s identity with the influence and power that story-telling has on individuals and communities.
Vulnerability is a recurring theme in the Eye of the sheep and Othello, that is portrayed as a weakness because the character’s vulnerabilities lead them to their hamartia. Brene Brown a research professor, defines vulnerability as an uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure. Essentially, it is when a person exposes their weaknesses and insecurities for society to judge. In the modern world, vulnerability and the concept of being vulnerable is becoming more accepted in society because of Brown’s work in the area. In the modern world the concept of being vulnerable is becoming more accepted in society because of Brown’s work in the area. However, it seems that it is harder for people to trust each other because some people do not wear their heart on their sleeves. They are scared to expose their vulnerabilities to other people because they have been raised in a society that condemns ‘weaknesses’ thus making them unknowingly invent another persona when they are in front of different people. These facades that many people portray make societies seem ‘fake’. In Othello, Othello’s vulnerabilities were exposed for Iago to pick at. “But that I love the gentle Desdemona, /I would not my unhousèd free condition/Put into circumscription and confine/For the sea’s worth.” Metaphor is used when Othello is comparing the value of his freedom and his love for Desdemona to all the treasure of the sea. Othello’s vulnerability and weakness were his wife Desdemona. The love he had for her, led to his downfall. His race was also a vulnerability. He was the only black man that had such a high rank in Venice and was considered an outsider even though his skill as a leader was valuable to Venice. Othello recognizes that his race is a complication and that it is contributed to many of the difficulties he experiences. This is shown through the quote, “Rude am I in my speech,/And little blessed with the soft phrase of peace,/For since these arms of mine had seven years’ pith/Till now some nine moons wasted, they have used” He is accepting the generalization that Venetians, have that “moors” possess only little talent in language however he is contradicting himself because in the next line he eloquently says nine months ago, as ‘nine moons wasted’ therefore concluding he is skilled in his speech. In the Eye of the Sheep vulnerability is depicted through Jimmy as he is the most vulnerable. Jimmy’s vulnerability is exhibited when he has a meltdown. His mum is the only person that can help him calm down. This is shown with the quote “It was only the mountain of her that was big and strong enough to contain me.” The metaphor that Jimmy uses to compare his mother to a mountain symbolises the constancy, firmness and stillness he needs when he experiences his meltdowns. This is proven when he has a meltdown when his mother is not there. “I I began to shake as fast as the sticks, arms and legs and head, shake shake shaking, I was a firecracker, spinning across the room./ ‘Ha! Look at him go!’/’You pressed his button Jennifer!’/ ‘Go, kid, go!’” The simile that is used exemplifies the panic he is feeling. Without his mother he was exposed to the mocking of the children and must ‘slow down’ himself. Thus, establishing connection with characters in a story makes the reader sympathetic for people who are disadvantaged and feeling sympathy allows them to understand the world better.
Othello and the Eye of The Sheep have many similarities, even though they are set in different eras. The common themes of vulnerability and redemption are depicted in both texts; however, they are portrayed differently. Both texts have vulnerability depicted as a weakness because it is what causes the characters’ hamartia. Othello and Jimmy are vulnerable characters because they are exposed to the mockery and hardships of the world. Othello was a great storyteller and could excellently articulate his speech, his speech is a treasure trove of well-spoken phrases that humans use in their speech. Jimmy gets the reader to see the world from his perspective. They see and sympathize with the struggles he faces as someone on the autism spectrum. In Elizabethan times, Shakespeare challenged societal conventions through Othello where a black man had a high status in society. However, Shakespeare caused the hamartia of Othello to highlight the downgrading of black people in the Elizabethan era, because he was still viewed as different from the Venetian society regardless of his status. Stories and storytelling play an integral part of an individual’s life. Every person’s personality and character is molded from experiences that influence the way they think and act. Stories help people empathize and are the kick- starter to kindle relationships between individuals. The stories that they read or hear shape their character and connect them with other people. Stories can be used as an olive branch to connect societies, communities, cultures, and beliefs. This creates a sense of unity among people and establishes peace within society.
To conclude, it is evident that storytelling allows humans to live vicariously. Every person has a story to tell to connect with the world, because they all live through different experiences. Learning these experiences from different perspectives allows humans to gain a better understanding of the world. With the rise of social media, humans have fostered an environment of storytelling and connection that has never been seen before. The prescribed texts, Othello by William Shakespeare and The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna have helped create and structure values, identities and personalities that make a person. These texts have made the reader connect with people, hence allowing them to make sense of the world.