Analysis of The Man Who Lived Underground Essay

In Wright’s “The Man Who Lived Underground”, Fred Daniels struggles with questions on guilt and identity as he wanders through the macabre underground. For example, a decorated dirt cave or wandering yellow lights are meaningful elements of setting that allows Daniels’ thoughts to manifest and change vague-manifest and change in what way?. Gradual mental changes what is a mental change? Be specific are elucidated by other literary techniques such as the metaphorical nature of water or classical references to illusory? blood in hallucination not clear. Daniels’ mental state shifts from guilty fear to maniacal pleasure and back. This is caused by his realization of the relationship between the freedom he obtains during his underground sojourn and aboveground life.

Primarily, Wright uses sanguine hallucinations construct Daniels’ something is missing here mood and water to symbolize his deliberations over freedom and guilt. The theme of a dangerous, ambiguous current of water is essential to showing Daniels’ feelings. Good Wright uses phrases such as “fearful velocity”, “hearing the water speed in the somber shadows”, and “felt the streaking water tugging violently at his body” (Wright 1440). Water has a foreboding presence throughout the story. This menacing nature of the water outlines the intent with which the aboveground society ascribes guilt to Daniels and blacks in general Excellent point. The reflective quality of water symbolizes how Daniels feels immense guilt as he reflects on himself throughout various points in the story. The deadly and reflective nature of water employed here is comparable to that of the Myth of Narcissus, where the titular character drowns while staring into his own image in water. Good New paragraph Further, Wright’s blood imagery strongly parallels a scene in Shakespearean literature when he describes Daniels during a bloody hallucination. “Red darkness”, “smooth silent stream that looked like a spout of blood”, “rich lather bloomed in his cupped fingers – like a scarlet sponge”, and “scrubbed and rinsed his hands meticulously” are phrases used to described Daniels’ perceptions and behaviors (Wright 1442). The use of color imagery in the form of differing shades of red represent blood, subsequently illustrating the extent of guilt that has been imposed on Daniels Good. Guilt causes him to temporarily go insane and become delusional. This scene is reminiscent of another scene in Macbeth, where Lady Macbeth meticulously washes her hands, but cannot cleanse them.

The famous lines, “Out, damned spot! Out, I say…who would have thought the old man would have so much blood in him” show how much the guilt of the murder weights on Lady Macbeth (Shakespeare). This parallels the weight of the guilt Daniels feels. Okay, but how does guilt manifest itself in Daniels. How is his actions similar to Lady Macbeth’s?Finally, foreshadowing further emphasizes the lethal nature of water. Your ideas are not organized well here—one paragraph for water, another for blood When Daniels encounters a rat, its death occurs with striking resemblance to that of Daniels’ own: “He grabbed the pole and let it fly against the rat’s body; there was shrill piping and the grizzly body splashed into the dun-colored water…” (Wright 1438). Eventually, by ruminating about himself and exploring the underground Daniels makes discoveries about his identity and the nature of pleasure and freedom. However, it is this very discovery that leads to his death, symbolized by his drowning in water: a physically reflective material that serves as a metaphor for Daniels’ inner reflections and realizations.

Moreover, through a chase, a series of pranks, and biblical imagery Wright shows how guilt shapes Daniels’ intentions as well as how a temporary freedom from guilt affects his actions and thoughts. Daniels’ escape contains vivid language that shows his main concerns and mental state. -? these should all be in quotations since you are quoting from the text Running, dodging, crept, crouching, stiffened, and “heaving chest” all show how anxious Daniels is (Wright 1438). Great observation He is purely bent on escape and not very concerned with his actions or pleasure. After avoiding the dangerous waters and navigating around, Fred starts lose his initial sense of guilt. At one point, he begins to take pleasure in freedom, particularly in stealing, pranks, and causing mischief: “He strutted about the room on tiptoe, lolling his head nonchalantly, then paused, and abruptly pulled the gun, and pointed it with a grim face toward and imaginary foe…” (Wright 1452). Despite being in danger of being caught for stealing, diction like “strutted”, “nonchalantly”, and “lolling” portrays Daniels’ attitude as relaxed and flippant. Very good close reading here However, Daniels’ guilt never truly leaves him. ?-Excellent Imagery of a serpent or snake is used to characterize Daniels’ movements across the underground. Daniels “slithers”, “snakes”, and “slips” through the shadows and obscurity. This serpent-imagery points tosymbolizes the biblical concept of original sin, or the inherent guilt that is assigned to everyone without exception. Fred Daniels even states this idea in his thoughts, “The watchman was guilty; although he was not guilty of the crime of which he had been accused, he was guilty, had always been guilty” (Wright 1458). The consistent characterization of Daniels’ movements as snake-like outlines the permanent guilt that the aboveground society ascribes to him. Just as God determines the inherent guilt of all humans in the Bible, the aboveground authority determines the inherent guilt of blacks such as Daniels. Okay, but the passage is referring to the guilt the watchman has—how has the watchman always been guilty? Wright further implies this parallel when he has Daniels question his own innocence after hearing the hymns of the aboveground congregation. Daniels’ questions why guilt is so hard-wired and natural to him: “He was now in possession of the feeling that had gripped him when he had first come to the underground… Why was this sense of guilt so innate, so easy to come by, to think, to feel, so verily physical…” (Wright 1457). The quote outlines how years of living oppressed in the aboveground society has instilled an innate sense of guilt into Daniels.

Additionally, glaring yellow lights seem to follow Daniels along every location in his journey suggesting aboveground intervention unclear. Yellow is the color of the sun and artificial lighting, which originate from aboveground. As Daniels realizes more about the nature of freedom and pleasure, he begins to form new ideas about the aboveground world. The aboveground becomes a “wild forest filled with death”, outlining the incompatibility of life for him aboveground (Wright 1460). Initially described as “fine pencils of gold”, these yellow lights eventually become a symbol of his fear: “obscene sunshine”, “dark sunshine”, “dead sunshine”, “terror of yellow light and he was in a deeper darkness than he had ever known in the underground” (Wright 1460). I am not a fan of you listing the passages in this way, it is a bit disorienting. I would take my time and explain one phrase at a time.The yellow lights ostensibly chase Daniels, a reminder of aboveground justice and punishments for his underground transgressions. Excellent Furthermore, Daniels’ decision to return aboveground comes from a mix of his guilt fromat abusing the freedom he obtains as well as the discovery of the freedom itself that he has made. He finds exhilaration in stealing jewels and money, not for their value but just in the act: , “It was not the money that was luring him, but the mere fact that he could get it with impunity” (Wright 1449). Consistently, Daniels satirizes the aboveground society. He refers to guns, typewriters, and other tools as “toys”. He creates a cave and flippantly decorates it with valuables: golden watches, bills, diamonds. To show the worthlessness of these objects he tramples, kicks, crumples, destroys, and mocks them. Eventually, Daniels tries to reconcile his guilt and freedom.

He hypothesizes that “Maybe anything’s right… any act a man took to satisfy himself, murder, theft, torture” (Wright 1455). This shows how Daniels has come to value the happiness and freedom that he has found in the underground. His thought that pleasure justifies an action validates this. Yet, in the ensuing scene he has an inner moral conflict about what?, symbolized by war imagery:, “…names of generals…black smoke billowing…warships…huge guns thunder as red-hot shells screamed…men groaned as steel ripped into their bodies and they went down to die” (Wright 1455). This conflict arises when Daniels’ inherent sense of guilt clashes with his underground discovery. Although freedom and pleasures are desirable, expressing them without limits is dangerous and crazy. Eventually, his need to tell others of this discovery outweighs the consequences he is expecting to face aboveground: “…sooner or later he would go up into that dead sunshine and somehow say something to somebody about all this” (Wright 1456). The turning point comes when Daniels is overwhelmed by his guilt after the watchman commits suicide because of his plan. Though Daniels wants to share his discovery of freedom and pleasure, getting rid of his guilt through admission takes precedence. This need to admit guilt is seen in the aboveground figures Daniels searches for, first the congregation, then the police. Good point After Daniels is taken in to the police station, he readily admits his guilt to the officers.

Wright uses diction such as “child-like”, “as though repeating a lesson by heart”, and “smiling” to show Daniels’ obedient nature and how deeply ingrained this sense of guilt is (Wright 1465). Lawson burns the confession, absolving Daniels of his guilt. However, Daniels then becomes determined to share the discovery of freedom and pleasure he has made in the underground. His hysterical and erratic behavior causes Lawson to see him as a-? make sure you read your writing aloud to catch errors threat to the stability of the aboveground society: “You’ve got to shoot his kind. They’d wreck things.” (Wright 1470). Daniels’ eventual death is symbolic of the aboveground rejection of his discovery of freedom and pleasure, with the implication being that white society rejects the right for blacks to have freedom of pleasure. Ultimately, living in an oppressive and vindictive society causes Daniels to overextend his freedom by stealing and causing others harm. The extremity with which Daniels abuses his freedom is a reflection of just how repressed and limited he felt living in the aboveground society. As the consequences of satiating his pleasures become apparent, Daniels realizes that he can never exist both satisfied and innocent in the aboveground world. In the end, he resolves to satisfy himself by freeing his conscience of an uncomfortable guilt, as his innocence no longer exists.

Works Cited
Shakespeare, William. “Macbeth: Entire Play.” Macbeth: Entire Play. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2013.

Richard: This paper was a pleasure to read, and I commend you on making the necessary revisions to strengthen your arguments. Your close-reading was a lot stronger in this draft, and I think you do an excellent job using your analysis to illustrate Daniels’ feelings of oppression and guilt.

I would caution you not to list phrases excessively in your work—you run the risk of leaving your reader confused about what is exactly going on in each phrase. Also, in the future, please watch out for grammatical errors and ill-structured sentences. These things run throughout your paper, which was unfortunate to see in a final revision. I ask again that you make sure to
read your work aloud. These errors would have been identified easily if you had done so.

Content: Ideas and the Development of your Argument (48 points)

Introduction: In the first paragraph, the author introduces the subject matter and topic, setting up his or her position in the thesis statement.

4 Grabs the reader’s attention effectively by presenting a subject raised by the particular text(s) the author is using as a starting point for his or her argument. The reader has a strong sense that the author is entering into an important discussion; the author does an excellent job explaining the importance of this particular subject. Also, the author skillfully summarizes the relevant background information needed to provide a context for the thesis statement.

3 Engages the reader by offering a subject raised by the text(s) being used to generate an argument. The author does a satisfactory job explaining the importance of this subject. In addition, the author adequately summarizes the relevant background information needed to contextualize the thesis statement. 2 Summarizes some relevant background for the thesis statement; depends too heavily on generalizations 1 Summarizes some background information on a subject 0 Offers no background information to the reader or includes irrelevant background information

x(multiplied by) 3=

Thesis Statement: In 1-2 sentences toward the end of the paper, the author:

4 Successfully presents a specific position on a subject. This position is original, creative, and risk-taking. Furthermore, the author also does an excellent job addressing the importance (or the “so what” question) of this position. 3 Presents a position on a subject that is somewhat original. The author provide some explanation as to the value of the position.

2 Presents a general position on a subject; this position is lacking in originality. Makes a small attempt to explain the importance of this position.
1 Offers a thesis statement that essentially is a rewording of questions provided by the assignment prompt and/or is vague and unclear.
0 Does not present any position on a subject.

Textual Evidence (Or, Supporting Detail): The author:

4 Skillfully incorporates relevant quotes from the reading material that supports the overall argument in the thesis. These quotes collectively present a strong case for the author’s position. The author makes smooth transitions between his or her own words and quotations from the text, making sure to introduce each quotation in his or her own words. The author provides a strong and detailed analysis/close-reading of each quotation and explains why these quotations are important to the argument. Overall, there is an excellent balance between the author’s own words and supporting detail from the text.

3 Incorporates relevant quotes from reading material to support thesis and also explains them. There is balance between the author’s own words and the quotations.

2 Incorporates quotations into paper but some of them are irrelevant to the author’s argument. The author might either depend too heavily on quotations or does not include an adequate amount of quotations. Also, the author does not provide enough analysis of the quotations.

1 Provides irrelevant quotations. There is hardly any analysis of
these quotations. 0 Provides no evidence from the text to support argument.

Conclusion: At the end of the paper, the author:

4 Elegantly synthesizes the thesis statement, main points, and supporting details. Through this synthesis, the author also leaves the reader with new and intriguing insights into the subject of study. 3 Makes an attempt to synthesize the thesis statement, main points in paper, and supporting details. Also tries to include new insights into topic.

2 Summarizes the thesis statement and makes a small attempt to offer new information. 1 Restates the thesis statement with very little modification. 0 Provides no conclusion.


Total Content Grade:

Organization- The Structure of your Paper (32 points)

At the paragraph level, the author:

4 Breaks overall argument into paragraphs that follow a logical and clear sequence. Each paragraph does the work of supporting the author’s thesis statement. Furthermore, each paragraph has a strong and clear topic sentence that effectively sets up the author’s argument. The author includes smooth transitions between paragraphs and makes sure to link supporting details throughout the paper. The reader has a great sense of where an argument is ending and another one is beginning. Also, each argument in the paragraphs builds on argument of the previous one. Paragraphs are well-balanced, especially meaning that the author’s paragraphs or neither too long or too short.

3 Divides argument into paragraphs that follow somewhat of a logical sequence. Most of the paragraphs are relevant to the thesis statement. Each paragraph has a topic sentence that sets up the author’s arguments. The author provides transitions between paragraphs and tries to draw connections between supporting evidence. The paragraphs may need to be reworked for balance: either the paragraphs are too short or the author writes very long paragraphs. 2 Presents a paper with paragraphs that do not adequately flow in a logical sequence. Paragraphs have vague topic sentences and might not be relevant to the author’s thesis. The author seems to wander at times. 1 Presents a paper with little organization; topic sentences are used sparingly. 0 Does not present any organization to the paper, which makes the overall argument largely incoherent. Topic sentences are missing.


Total Organization Grade:

Style- Quality of the Language you use in your Paper (16 points)

Sentence Flow

4 Within paragraphs, the author’s sentences flow one after the other, following a logical order. In essence, the author works to makes sure each sentence builds on previous information, carefully moving the reader through the author’s process of thought. The author’s syntax—or word order—is elegant, direct, and clear. Sentences are dynamic and energetic, which largely means that the author writes in active voice instead of passive voice. Lastly, the author makes sure to provide sentence variety in regards to length and syntax. 3 Makes a satisfactory attempt to provide sentence flow. Most of the author’s sentences flow one after the other, following a logical order. The author might need to improve on sentence variety: he or she might be depending too heavily on either long sentences (creating a
wandering effect) or short sentences (creating a choppy effect). 2 Most of the author’s sentences do not follow a logical order. Sentences are poorly crafted. At times, the reader may have difficulty following the author’s argument.

1 The author’s paper is nearly absent of good sentence flow 0 The author’s language does not flow, and his or her sentences do not follow any logical order. The reader cannot follow the author’s argument.


Mechanics (Grammar)

4 The author has an excellent command of grammar. If any, there are a minimum of 3 grammatical errors or misspelled words per page.
3 The author has a satisfactory command of grammar, though there may be 3-4 errors per page. 2 The author has a poor command of grammar, with 5-7 errors per page. 1 The author has 8-10 errors per page, making the paper close to illegible. 0 The author’s work is virtually illegible; there are more than 10 grammatical errors.X2=

Total Style Grade:

MLA Writing Conventions-Referencing the Sources Used to Support your Argument (4 points)

4 The author has an excellent command of MLA citation methods and makes sure to include correctly-formatted parenthetical citations for direct quotations or instances when the author paraphrases outside sources. The author makes sure to use a 12-point font and double spaces his or her paper; pages or numbered. If required, the author also includes a Work Cited Page.

3 The author has a satisfactory command of MLA citation methods. He or
she has included parenthetical citations though there may be minor mistakes to the formatting. A Works Cited page is included if required. 2 The author does not cite most of the outside sources used for the paper, or, most of the author’s citations are improperly formatted.

1 The author has a very poor command of MLA citation methods. 0 The author’s paper has no citations. Total MLA Grade:

Total Grade for Paper:89/100 +3=92 A-