MEN WHO BATTER WOMEN The Man Who Wanted to be Guilty – Henrik Stangerup,1973, 1982 HENRIK STANGERUP 1937-1998 HENRIK STANGERUP, 1937-1998 Novelist, journalist, essayist, film director Danish writer and film director whose internationally known works, influenced by the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, revealed his feelings of alienation and contempt for societal attitudes. Social commentary. Non-conformity of the intellect. Manden der ville være skyldig (1973; The Man Who Wanted to Be Guilty, 1982) Internationally focused: accounts of Paris, Brazil, India, Mexico, France Most popular work was a trilogy of historical novels: The Road to Lagoa Santa, 1981, The Seducer: It is Hard to Die in Dieppe, 1985, and Brother Jacob (1991) 1977 movie set in Brazil: The Earth is Flat 1993 essays: Flight is the Order of the Day THE NEED FOR GUILT Focus on the concept of guilt Speculation about his father during WW II Consciousness of guilt as a part of the author’s personality The individual in a social context – experiencing resistance from the surroundings The psychological forces that enable the individual to evade a fertile interaction with his surroundings Affinity with the concept of guilt in Kierkegaard SØREN KIERKEGAARD, 1813-1855 KIERKEGAARD AND EXISTENTIALISM The father of Existentialism Pseudonyms Religion, Choice, Commitment Socratic dialogues Regine Olsen, 1840-41 Either-Or, 1843 Fear and Trembling, 1843 Stages on Life’s Way, 1845 Aesthetic – Ethical - Religious EITHER- OR, 1843 The Aesthetic: “Diary of the Seducer” The Ethical: “Assessor William” FEAR AND TREMBLING, 1843 STAGES ON LIFE’S WAY, 1845 The Knight of Faith The Religious Leap of Faith THE WELFARE STATE AND EXISTENTIALISM Danish welfare society: Healthcare Maternity Leave / Parental Leave Unemployment and benefits Vacation Education Retirement benefits Registration Taxes KIERKEGAARD’S INFLUENCE ON STANGERUP The Man Who Wanted To Be Guilty - the dangers of conformity in society The main character, Torben, fought to separate himself from the tactics of those in charge who wanted him to forget who he was and what he had done They gave him pills to silent his emotions, took all his memories out of his apartment and attempted to brainwash him into believing he was not at fault for his actions Soren Kierkegaard – the existence of man as an individual – The single person! Existentialists emphasize the importance of an individual’s actions, emotions, thoughts and responsibilities Stangerup very familiar with his works, cf. his trilogy with the three main characters representing one of Kierkegaard’s stages AROUND 1973 Countries with a hand in the oil trade prosper (Denmark struggles, is 99% dependent on foreign oil) Danes begin to produce their own alternative energy – wind power Wars Cold War, The Troubles (Irish/British Conflict), Vietnam and Israeli / Palestinian Conflict Chinese cultural revolution, Vietnam War King Frederik IX dies in 1973 Denmark has become a welfare state Aksel Larsen (leader of Danish Communist Party) dies Watergate Scandal January 1, 1973: Ireland, Denmark and the UK join the European Economic Community the European Union 1972-U.S. airlines begins checking passengers and their luggage! POLITICAL REFLECTIONS Communism In many eastern European nations Party Shift of 1973 Called the Landslide Election Public Support of “Old Four” parties fell from 90% to 58% Progress was needed Vietnam War (1955-1975) Anti-Communist Conflict Swedish Prime Minister (1972) draws a parallel between American bombing of North Vietnam and the Nazi’s mass killings Cultural revolution in China Power reassertion of Mao, attempted to rid the Communist party of his opposition Helped by youth group, the Red Guards; self-criticism of those who imagined themselves superior schools considered elitist and were closed, economy suffered greatly Red Guards began to fight each other, social turmoil ensued The Man Who Wanted To Be Guilty Lack of the voting public – benign dictatorship? (Demolition Man) SUMMARY OF THE MAN WHO WANTED TO BE GUILTY Book opens with Torben thinking about his AC (Aggression Control) exercises Torben loses faith in his wife, Edith’s resolve against the AC meetings and becomes depressed, drinks a bottle of whisky, gets drunk, kills his wife and is held in a hospital Torben sees a psychiatrist; they debate philosophy Happiness Park is introduced, and Torben returns home to a house devoid of memories of wife and son Jasper Torben visits his former publisher who wants social literature. Torben refuses but is determined to write Torben begins performing poorly at work and reveals violent tendencies. Meets Bridgit, chain smoker Bridgit wants to be impregnated by him - cannot obtain a mum-and-dad-card, but he refuses It is revealed that guilt has been eliminated from the society’s vocabulary Torben tries to locate his son, Jasper and get him back. Is relocated to a one bedroom apartment SUMMARY, CONTINUED Torben has nightmares about his wife’s death; the Helpers say “The view that you caused the death of your wife has been abandoned …an accident occurred” (70) Torben tries to convince the psychiatrist that he committed the murder, to no avail Torben runs into Jasper who cries and runs away from him Torben thinks he may be “unbalanced” Torben lets himself be “helped” and joins community event for lonely people Torben throws himself into AC exercises with much anger He sees a woman whose children are removed; he runs away shouting “I’m a killer, I’m a killer”, goes to Bridgit’s house with the intent to kill her, but meets her brother who is making a TV show called “The People Complain” Torben moves in with him, goes on the show to air his grievances, and is followed by a panel of everyone who is against him: the psychiatrist, Helpers, and Jasper who says it was an accident He gets drunk and walks around screaming “Judge me!” After he wakes up from a dream he is finally found guilty of Edith’s TORBEN’S COPENHAGEN Uniform society: classless, superblocks, helpers, similarities No competition: a contest is created between neighbors for best bonsai tree Mum-and-Dad-Cards control family lives BLIMP and Propaganda Worked for the Bureau of Language Improvement where he changes phrases and words to cause less emotion and distress Two types of occupations: therapeutic helpers and everything else Helpers: acts as police, therapists, community control AC (Aggression Control) meetings – mandatory if you want to keep your child(ren) Torben refused to fully engage in the exercises, when Edith did he was furious - independent thoughts THE BONSAI TREES Death of all of the natural trees in Copenhagen ( due to pollution from road salts) Chemicals in the air Citizens are encouraged to raise bonsai trees Trim, Clip, Control – Control Nature Connection between “harsh” government control and death Relating to both people and the trees Bridgit: resilient to government control of child birth and the “natural” process Same as the tree that grows outside of Torben’s window THE NUMBER THREE Actions repeated three times prior to Torben’s murder of his wife: “Nevertheless he felt embarrassed and awful enough to fill the glass with whiskey and immediately take three great gulps to that she wouldn’t complain about his lack of moderation” (9) “She felt for a cigarette, lit it and inhaled three times in a row” (13) “She backed off three paces” (13) The significance of the number three: Back luck / deaths often come in threes As a literary device, often signifies an unnaturalness Torben’s life can be split into three stages--before the superblocks, marriage to Edith, after Edith’s murder THE ROLE OF WOMEN The stereotype: Interested in appearance “Didn’t she think of anything but nails?” (9) Emotional “Edith was grouchy, and it was her right to be that way once in a while” (9) Submissive “Even the lump in his throat made its appearance as he realized that [the Helpers] had gained control of her” (10) “He didn’t understand why [Bridgit] kept on behaving as though she had nobody but him to think about” (55) THE ROLE OF WOMEN, CONTINUED Women given an active role in society: “In a few weeks the expressions ‘home-working housewife’ and ‘housewife’ had just about disappeared from the language. There were now only two kinds of women in Denmark, passive-women and active-women, and the aim was to make all women active-women” (47) In the 1970’s, women became more prominent in society 1972: first female FBI agents, Australia commands equal pay for women, women admitted to Dartmouth 1973 : free abortion Potential for a power Edith calls the Helpers when Torben is drunk – she can get a child certificate as a single mother THE CHILD-RAISING DEBATE Woman’s Right to Choose Roe v. Wade decided in 1973, women may abort their fetuses for any reason until viability “Only [Bridgit’s] unlimited naiveté kept her from realizing that the child would be forcibly aborted if the Helpers discovered that she was pregnant within the first three months. It would be put up for adoption even if she was allowed to complete the pregnancy” (57) Two pieces of legislation Ban on children’s books and comics Parents required to take tests relating to having children in order to obtain a “child certificate,” later HAPPINESS PARK In his first experience with Happiness Park, Torben tries to see through the cracks of the fence into the enclosure; he asks the psychiatrist about it with little information revealed Novel ends with Torben confined in Happiness Park, assigned to write four socially uplifting novels Clip from The Matrix: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXQozTxQ SiE&feature=related QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION Choice: the right to have children – ”earn your children”? Innocence? Secrecy? Futuristic Society? Personal Identity – and Brainwashing The need of Guilt? The role of Happiness Park and manipulation of reality? What role does Jasper play in the novel? What role does Bridgit play in the novel? The function of AC meetings?