Caleb Williams: Or, Things as They Are (Penguin Classics)
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Things as They Are, Or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams - William Godwin - Google книги
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Caleb williams william godwin
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Caleb Williams Things by William Godwin
I will unfold a tale! Here, Caleb is a puffed up radical charged with indignation and idealism. He is carried away by his own zeal, blind to the fact that his narrative and his efforts at confessional redemption were doomed from the start. Caleb tells this tale in retrospect , after he had destroyed Falkland and after his sympathies doomed him to a prison house of guilt.
How can it fail to do so? Far from blaming Falkland or locating his own failings within those of Falkland, Caleb extends Godwinian sympathy toward his oppressor. Yet this sympathy does not link Caleb to Falkland as an individual human being, thus freeing him from the dictates of the social. Rather, this sympathy stems from the realization that he has violated the social and thus condemned and destroyed this man before the world that once revered him. I have contracted a disgust for life and all its appendages. The burden that oppresses him is his continued public humiliation of Falkland whom he has deified now in his mind.
Caleb berates himself for succumbing to selfish indignation and breaking his promise. He abandons his radical quest for truth and justice and adopts the social concerns of the establishment. Caleb comes to revere Falkland as an aristocratic gentleman of the highest sort, a nobleman whom he betrayed. Caleb leaves himself victim to his own guilt:. It would have been merciful in comparison if I had planted a dagger in his heart.
He would have thanked me for my kindness. But, atrocious, execrable wretch that I have been! I wantonly inflicted on him an anguish a thousand times worse than death. Meanwhile I endure the penalty of my crime. His figure is ever in imagination before me.
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Waking or sleeping, I still behold him. His guilt grows not out of a humanistic sympathy but is rooted in the precepts of the very aristocratic social codes he attempted to expose from the very beginning of his tale. Sympathy here offers no social or political transcendence. No alternative hegemony is offered, and Caleb victimizes himself under the authority of aristocratic social expectation just as cruelly as Falkland imprisoned himself.
Aristocratic codes and identity narratives serve in this novel as Gothic modes of imprisonment, terror, and tyranny. According to Jan B. The repetition of texts enclosed within texts and narratives enfolding other narratives ultimately proliferates narrative presence and thus challenges the central authority of any single text and undermining the authority of narrative itself. In Caleb Williams the proliferation of competing narratives is horrifying not only because the authority of narrative is problematized, but also because the individual as a social and political agent is entrapped within the labyrinth of proliferating narratives, losing his subjectivity to that of predetermined social texts and losing control over his own narrative life.
For all of the apparent inconsistencies between Godwin's rationalist political theory and his imaginative reworking of his political views in Caleb Williams , his use of Gothic conventions and the horrifying proliferation of entangling narratives of subjectivity underscore his concerns over social hegemony.
Charles Brockden Brown similarly manipulated Gothic machinations in Wieland to articulate a political message for the rather young American republic. However, this Gothic novel met with mixed responses.