I am a sick man... I am a wicked man.
June 12, 2012 5:08 PM Subscribe
I'm looking for examples of and quotes about cowards and wretches in film, literature, philosophy, and painting.
posted by outlandishmarxist to media & arts (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm trying to compile examples of cowards and wretches in art (film, literature, painting, etc.) and philosophy. How do I characterize the wretch? I think, primarily, by inaction: the wretch is someone who either refuses to budge or gets others to act on his behalf. I've got a lot of modern examples (although I could always use more): Gregor Samsa, the underground man in Notes from Underground, Raskolnikov, the elder Karamazov, Henry Miller's "I", the narrator of Nausea, the narrator of The Stranger, Beckett's various characters; Yossarian; Celine's narrator in Journey to the End of the Night. I also have some early modern wretches - almost any Shakespeare villain, especially Iago; Goethe's Faust, especially at the beginning of the play; Milton's Satan. In film, the work of Roman Polanski comes readily to mind, as do some of Godard's characters.
What I'd like are earlier examples (Roman, Greek, Hebrew), non-Western examples (The Story of the Stone might give some good examples), and also examples that aren't from the perspective of the wretches, e.g., heroic descriptions from Homer of cowards. Also, if anybody has any good literary history/literary theory recommendations, those would be much appreciated. I'm happy to clarify anything that doesn't make sense.