Sample English Research Paper on The Effect of Society on Lucidity
“The Adventure of the German Student” by Washington Irving presentsa peculiar story with plenty of disturbing interests. The book offers an unsettling perspective of the extent to which a human mind can depreciate, as well as the commanding effect that an unpleasant surrounding can have on someone’s social and personal association. In addition,the situation can evoke a perilous impairment on the mental well-being of an individual. The story highlights how the society and its social doings can alter the accepted behavior and norms of a person. Naturally, humans are social. People are influenced by the society within which they reside and the people that thrive in it; however, sometimes one fails to control the extent to which a social event influences them. In the story “The Adventure of The German Student,” it is evident how the social events affected the mental health of Wolfgang, a character in the story, and how thisled to his demise.Anelaborationonthe influence of social events on Wolfgang’s mental health is presented in the current study.
Wolfgang was inquisitive of the happenings around him, which affected his psychological well-being. The story seeks to explicate the mighty link amid the socio-political and religious events that took place in France, ‘The French Revolution,’ as well as the effect it had on a young German scholar (Ashley and William 102). The German scholar, Gottfried Wolfgang, was strongly investigative, curious, and influenced by the happenings around him. He often spent most of his time in the great libraries of Paris, rummaging through various hordes of dusty and obsolete works in a quest of food for his unhealthy appetite. It is evident that he was impressed and intrigued by the enigmatic and shadowy occurrences that fed his ‘unhealthy appetite’ (Ashley and William 102). He grew up in a morbid environment that affected his character and mental health negatively,.and a change of environment that further worsened his situation (Ashley and William 102).
Gottfried Wolfgang’s home, Germany, was morbid, morose, and full of peculiar happenings. For his best interest, his family and friends sent him to Paris to help him recover from his reclusive situation of withdrawal. At that time, Germany was experiencing a national crisis that sent Wolfgang towards a delirious direction (Ashley and William 102). However, on arriving in Paris, his situation worsened. He was not positively influenced by the surrounding “…splendors and gayeties of Paris” (Ashley and William 102). He was pushed further into withdrawal, privacy, and twisted imagination. The inquisitive happenings started slowing with minor obsessions then blew up into a more lethal situation. Wolfgang feels deeper into his own imaginations that were slowly leading to his certain demise. The surrounding of Wolfgang’s environment in both places was horrific. The effect that the killings in Paris had on him propelled him further into a psychological problem that inhibited his critical thinking and analysis.
Place de la Concorde
Wolfgang thought his lonely and reclusive life was a virtue of a passionate personality. According to the narrator, “Wolfgang thought solitary and recluse, was of an ardent temperament…” (102). His thought and interpretation of his obsessive situation further catapulted him towards treacherous imagination. Furthermore, the narrator asserts that, “…but for a time, it operated merely upon his imagination” (Ashley and William 102). The narrator points out that despite Wolfgang’s belief of his obsessive character, it only remained inside his head. No matter how twisted his thoughts were, he remained in a ‘safe’ position but that was not going to last long since the terrors in the city of Paris kept increasing by the day. Therefore, Wolfgang believed his obsession and recluse nature was somewhat a gift, but in fact, it was a disaster waiting to occur.
Adding to his endless cogitations on the conjectural and fiends, Wolfgang is also sexually infatuated. He is too shy to approach a woman. Nevertheless, that does not stop him from giving himself over to quixotic and sensual dreams when securely entrenched in his room,
“He was too shy and ignorant of the world to make any advances to the fair…” Also,
“…a dream produced an extraordinary effect upon him. It was of a female face of
transcendent beauty. So strong was the impression made that he dreamt of it again and
again. It haunted his thoughts by day, his slumbers by night; in fact, he became
passionately enamored of this shadow of a dream.” (Mackel, 23)
The narrator explains how he became a slave of trances and imaginations.The infatuations slowly but surely led up to his lunacy, adding to the already obsessed nature of Wolfgang, resulting in a catastrophic mental condition.
Wolfgang and the ‘dead’ woman
Studying so hardmight not prove productive, especially for a being who is flirting with madness and obsession. Studies are productive; however, there are times when such deep studies can push an individual towards lunacy. Wolfgang is presented as a “young German man of good family” who is “visionary” and “enthusiastic.”“…He pursued his favorite speculations. Sometimes, he spends hours together in the great libraries of Paris, those catacombs of departed authors, rummaging among their hoards of dusty and obsolete works in quest of food for his unhealthy appetite.”(MACKEL , 21). Wolfgang became too engrossed with his studies that it became a medicine for his ‘sick’ craving. Wolfgang was an obsessed scholar who became a victim of his own inquisitive mind. The need to know catapulted him towards places of lunacy, places where men can barely distinguish the difference between fantasy and reality. He was from Germany, a land where the education system is admired due to its strict and organized nature and strategies towards teaching, the reason why students like Wolfgang, were dedicated towards intense education and success. It is possible that the interpretation and value of education in his country contributed to his obsession towards studying. The obsession proved fatal.
Wolfgang was psychologically unstable and had lost his mind due to seclusion. He was not able to differentiate between the real and the imaginary. The intense dedication led him to a mental breakdown – a mental illness. The pressure that he createdfor himself to constantly know and understand certain occurrences for extended periods ultimately led to his mental illness. “His secluded life, his intense application, and the singular nature of his studies had an effect on both the mind and body.”Seclusion is harmful to anyone, especially for extended periods (MACKEL, 221). Humansare by nature social, and therefore, anyone who keeps to themselves for long periods may have a condition, either a phobia towards people or a recluse. Both forms are not harmful except for when theyresult in psychosis. The psychological damage that such experiences impose on a person may be dreadful. For Wolfgang, it turned out the worst; he lost his mind and ultimately, his life. Individuals who lead lives in isolation tend to make misinformed perceptions and interpretations of their surrounding, especially with the goal of feeding their obsessions, as is the case of Wolfgang.
Misery minds are alike. According to the narrator, Wolfgang is like Emanuel Swedenborg who had an ideal world of his own around him. Swedenborg, a Swedish inventor between 1688-1772, had entered a divine phase whereby he experienced visions and apparitions. Wolfgang was also falling into the same path of a mind similar to Swedenborg’s. Hebecame engrossed in education to the point where he lost his mind like Swedenborg. From this point, it is evident that reclusion and obsession combination may result in amental loss. These two individuals were obsessed with their fields of expertise suchthat everything else in their lives revolvedaround it, whicheventually corrupted their perception of simple and normal concepts. The obsession of conquering and the knack to know all aspects of their fields of study led to an obsessed behavior, which destroyed their mental health.
Wolfgang believed that there was an evil influence hanging over him. At this point, it was certain that he was losing his mind. As a result, his family and friends had sent him to Paris for a change of environment to enable him recover. The reason for that move from his family and friends is because they knew how much an influence the environment had on him and that a positive environment would help his gloomy and reclusive nature. The socio-political nature of his environment took most of his mind and enslaved it. On his arrival in Paris, things were worse, the height of ‘The French Revolution.’”The fiend! The fiend has gained possession of me!” shrieked he; “I am lost forever.”(MACKEL , 21)The comments by Wolfgang showed that he believed the evil spirit, which was hanging over him, had finally possessed his soul. Often, individuals who lament that they are being followed or haunted by a form of apparition are considered as psychologically unstable. Therefore, in this essence, it is probable that Wolfgang had already lost his mind and was now a time-bomb waiting to explode moments from then. The most awing part of the story is the extent to which Wolfgang had lost his mind – such that he converses with a dead woman. The lady in the black dress seated next to the guillotine explains to Wolfgang that, “I have no friend on earth!” then he replied,
“But you have a home.” She then replies, “Yes—in the grave!” The events leading up to
this conversation were disturbing. It was a stormy night with thunder and lightning. He
saw a female figure seated at the foot of the steps leading up to the guillotine, “It was a
female figure, dressed in black. She was seated on one of the lower steps of the scaffold,
leaning forward, her face hid in her lap, and her long-disheveled tresses hanging to the
ground, streaming with the rain which fell in torrents.”(MACKEL , 25)
A man can only see a half-decapitated woman hanging on a guillotine and perceive it as a woman leaning forward with her face on her lap, that is, when one is crazy and psychologically unstable (Literature and Psychology 109). Wolfgang’s mentally sick imagination tried to justify the most-dreadful scene by giving it a more realistic perspective, “Perhaps, this was some poor mourner whom the dreadful axe had rendered desolate…”(MACKEL, 22) it is also evident that his mind tries to justify his horrific perception of the reality by giving a more ‘human’ approach. At this juncture, Wolfgang is already psychologically sick from the occurrences around him and the evil that was hanging around him finally possesses him. Psychologically unstable people often think and believe that there is an evil spirit pursuing them with the intentions of taking over their souls. Wolfgang is a victim of such a phenomenon and it seems that he is succumbing to the pressure of such thoughts. It is not uncommon for people with such beliefs to do wicked deeds similar to those of Wolfgang’s. People with such mental conditions should get help before things get worse.
The author, shows the extent of Wolfgang’s psychological mess through his sexual obsession. Wolfgang has no boundaries when thinking about women, especially the gorgeous females in his visions, an act that showed his state of imagination at that point. The mystical and sexual fantasies are the two fascinations that interlink in the mind of the student. The macabre propensities easily morphed into wicked desires that blocked the accepted gesture of having someone preside over a union. Wolfgang willfully gives himself up to the woman without the time-respected communal, sacred beliefs and rites. In addition, his obsession with women and the need to feed his sexual appetite further led to his psychological disorder. The obsessive disorder was blinded by his psychological disorder making him commit an atrocious act of necrophilia. In conjunction with his already insane mind, his obsession with women drove him into having sexual relations with a dead woman.
Sexual problems may result in mental illnesses. According to Smith and Allan, “Our sexual function is an important component and indicator of overall health and well-being; sexual problems or dysfunction may result from, or even cause, physical or mental illness or deterioration in important social relationships” (431). Wolfgang’s situation may be a result of sex. The environment around him is full of horrible scenes of death, including loneliness – a depiction of physical and mental enslavement. The psychological nature of his being was deteriorating gradually. The sexually endorsed dreams were consuming his life and taking possession of his mental stability. As a result, the narrator avers that, “…passionately enamored of this shadow of a dream,” (MACKEL , 21). Wolfgang is in love with a dream, an outcome of obsession and his mental weakening. He had sunk into depths of madmen whereby salvation is uncertain. The narrator adds, “…it became one of those fixed ideas which haunt the minds of melancholy men, and are at times mistaken for madness.” The assumption from the narrator is that Wolfgang is an unhappy person, prompting his sadness and that he had sunk into an elongated depression that was destroying his state of mind. It is not unheard of for sexual hunger to overcome one’s mental health. Wolfgang might be a victim of such a reality; however, it is not certain if this is the cause of his psychosis and mental sickness.
The influence of society and its activities on the mental stability of humans may not be adverse on everybody. The problems surrounding Wolfgang are all as a result of the environment around him. The German and the French political situations all affected his psychological development and destruction.Growing up at a time of political instability, Wolfgang’s curious mind ended up feasting on evil deeds that filled the environment, which later spiraled into Paris. These events usually supplement another, as is with Wolfgang’s case. The outcome of his environment led to his seclusion and further withdrawal from other people (Norton 301). The lonesome nature of his life paved way for development of other disruptive habits. The reign of terror, as well as the sexual obsession, catapulted his slowly deteriorating mental health towards his death. Sex, as seen in this piece of writing, can push individuals into committing atrocious acts due to the corruption it causes. Like in the case of Wolfgang, his sex obsession was a result of his seclusion. A young man of his age is at a sexual maturity age and seemingly needs it, however, the seclusion made it impossible for him to quench his need and further worsen his situation. The occurrences before he met the dead woman all paved way for his lunatic behaviors. Wolfgang devoted himself to studies to the extent where it consumed his social life. He wanted to understand and know the reasons why certain things in the social work. It is Important for young men to study hard but not to the lengths where social life is sacrificed, as this could ultimately result in the plummeting on his mental health.
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