Mental illness has continuously been a very hard issue to talk about. Many people have varying opinions on it and where it comes from. Depending on the mental illness, it can be created over time or one can be born with it. The problem comes in when something happens and people do not know who the blame. This is the case with Nikolas Cruz and the Parkland shooting, which can help be explained by Antoinette in Wide Sargasso Sea.
In Wide Sargasso Sea is it very clear that Antoinette had a mental illness that was passed down from her mother. I do not know exactly what illness she had but there was clearly something wrong with her considering how she acted during Antoinette’s childhood. This rubbed off on Antoinette and made her especially sensitive to getting a mental illness. I think she had the illness before, but that Mr. Rochester definitely pushed her over the edge. When he found out that her family has a history of being “crazy” that is how he started to treat her and I think that is what drove her to actually become “crazy”. The last straw was being locked in a room for so long that she eventually snapped and started to see things that caused her to light the house on fire. In this case Mr. Rochester is mostly to blame and I think it is a fair assumption that he drove her to the point that she was at. Nikolas Cruz is a much different situation.
The debate over the Parkland shooting has many aspects, but one that stands out is the argument over whether this was a result of Cruz being bullied, or if this was inevitable. This question is part of the gun debate and whether an 18 year old should be able to purchase a weapon like that. People who are saying it was because he was bullied are trying to prove that gun laws would not have prevented him from getting a gun because he was “turned crazy” by his classmates. It is very clear that Nikolas Cruz has some sort of mental illness to be able to shoot up his old high school. Compared with Antoinette, Cruz’s situation is not nearly as severe, as being bullied in high school is nothing compared to being locked in a room like a crazy person. The question of whether bullying played a part in his decision to shoot up the school may never be answered, but a fair assumption is that he had a pre-existing mental illness and things that happened to him pushed him to this point. It was not just simply being bullied that pushed him over the edge and it is not fair to put blame on the children of the school who just lost many of their friends and teachers.
Antoinette and Cruz have similar stories, but Antoinette’s is a much more severe case of abuse. If there were things that pushed Cruz over the edge, it was not simply just being bullied. Thousands of kids are bullied in high school everyday. It would take a lot more than just bullying to decide to bring a semi-automatic weapon into their hallways and start shooting.
Dave Chapelle is one of the most controversial comedians of his time. It seems as if he just says whatever he is thinking, and does not care what people think of it. He talks about various controversial topics in his Netflix special “Equanimity” such as Donald Trump, and race. He talks about people getting offended by his jokes, but it clearly has not affected his popularity because people still seem to love him. This asks the question of just how “controversial” is he? To answer this question I am going to analyze the “on again off again” trend of the transgender bit in his Netflix special.
Dave Chapelle opens his transgender bit with the concept of how being transgender is “kind of funny”. This is something that would probably offend a lot of people because the people that are in this predicament probably do not find it funny at all. Chapelle starts off with this joke because although it is a quite controversial joke, it is just one joke and people can get over it quickly. The next thing he talks about is a letter that he received with complaints about how his transgender jokes offended this specific person. In this bit, he has sort of back-tracked his earlier statement by making himself seem sincere. At this point he talks about feeling bad for making someone else feel bad. His reasoning for doing this is simple; people can only take so much at once. If he did many controversial jokes in a row, he would undoubtedly lose his audience. He would have slowly picked away at them until they were absolutely disgusted with what he was saying. Chapelle was aware of this, and after every controversial joke he makes, he has a bit right after making him look empathetic, and personable. This allows for the audience to tolerate a lot more of these jokes, because they get a break in between.
This trend continues throughout the entire transgender bit of the show. After he talks about the letter, and how the person who wrote it was offended by a specific joke, he continues by telling the offensive joke to the audience. The joke is about Caitlin Jenner and he says many things about her that many people would take offense to, but the audience is fine with it because he has “proved” to them that he is still a decent person and this allows the audience to tolerate more. After the Caitlin Jenner bit, he begins talking about how he has absolutely no problem with transgender people, and believes that everyone has a right to be happy. This is him reeling back in his audience after the extremely controversial joke.
Although Dave Chapelle is known for being very controversial, it is clear that he knows exactly what he is doing. By doing this “on again off again” technique he is ensuring that he is still known for being controversial and saying whatever is on his mind, but he is doing so without going so far as to offend the majority of his audience to the point where they do not like him anymore. He is still presenting himself as a likable person, although his jokes could be extremely offensive. Dave Chapelle clearly has the right technique when it comes to comedy. He is very smart and talented to be able to pull that off and find the right balance.
William Craft used various allusions in his narrative (William and Ellen Craft, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom) to emphasize his point in a different way from other slave narratives. Many others will use extreme descriptions of violence, and emphasize their extremely unfair conditions in order to get their point across and to get people to really feel what they felt. Craft used allusions to do that instead, and I am going to explore some of the ones that stood out to me.
The first one is the first thing you see when you begin reading the narrative; a poem. The poem reads “God gave us only over beast, fish, fowl, Dominion absolute; that right we hold By his donation. But man over man He made not lord; such title to himself Reserving, human left from human free.” This poem was written by the English poet John Milton and was taken from his religious book of poems “Paradise Lost: The Twelfth Book“. I think this allusion was used to show how unethical it is to think that one human can be above another. It was taken from a religious book, and with many references in the narrative to so-called “Christian” slaveowners this proved his point that this was not a Christian value. Craft was trying to show that from a religious standpoint the things they went through were not okay.
The second allusion that Craft used is his references to the slave laws in various states. Rather than just focusing on the state he was in, he chose to expose the laws in three different southern states. The states he mentioned were Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina which go from the bottom of the country and up. I think he chose to do this to emphasize the many states that slaves had to get through in order to be free, as well as show that these degrading laws were in place everywhere. He also wanted the reader to actually see the laws and the way they worded things to make them understand that slaves were not seen as people, or at least lesser of a person than the white individuals.
The last allusion that I am going to address is the one with the Fugitive Slave Act. This law made a huge impact on the lives of not only Ellen and William Craft, but for many escaped slaves that were living in the north. Craft put this in here with exact words from the law to give the reader a feel for just how much it impacted them and the implications of it. He wanted the reader to read his entire escape story, get to this part, and realize that everything he had just went through could have been for nothing at all. He wants to emphasize the terror that he felt when realizing that this was passed as legislation, and transfer that to the reader in order for them to truly understand how he was feeling while going through this ordeal.