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Friday, May 17, 2013
The Tree of Man(1955) Imagery/ Symbolism
The Tree of Man(1955)
Q. Discuss the use of Imagery and Symbolism in ‘The Tree of Man’. ‘Symbolic significance extends the boundaries of the Modern novel, How far does it true to Tree of Man.
v What Symbolism is:-
Symbolism is a movement associated with a group of French writers 1880-95. It may be seen as a reaction against dominate realist and naturalist tendencies in literature. The poets like Mallarme, Verlaine, Rimbaudand Laforgue were associated with the symbolic movement. According to C. L. Lewis
“Symbolism comes of us from
It makes its first effective appearance in European thought with the Dialogue
of Plato.” Greece
In the broadest sense of the term a symbol is anything which signifies something else. A symbol is applied only to a word or phrase signifying an object which itself has significance.
v Stan as a symbolic character:-
In this novel White portrays the married life of Stan Parker, a farmer of Durilgai and his wife Amy. The word ‘tree’ in the title of this novel stands for Stan’s quest of growth, for inexhaustible life. In Stan we find ‘the melancholic longing for permanence, while Amy stands of motion in life. Stan’s mother expects him to be teacher of a preacher. He should teach the people ‘the word of poets and God; but the young Stan sets out ins each of permanence. He removes all the bushes from his farm and whishes that his wife should live peacefully in his ‘honest house’ Here they take roots. They milk cows and grow cabbages. Amy plants garden. The neighbours also join them.
v Symbolic significance of the title:-
In this novel the very title, “The Tree of Man” is highly suggestive symbolic. The tree is a complex symbol used in many religious texts like “The Bible”, “The Bhagvat Gita”, “The Upanishad” and “The Kabbala”. This becomes the central image in this novel with no plot, except the only one of living and dying’. This novel was formerly entitled as ‘A life Sentence on Earth”. The Word ‘Tree’ denotes the life of the cosmos. It stands for inexhaustible life. If corresponds to the cross of redemption. According the Christian philosophy the cross is often depicted as the ‘Tree of the life.
v Symbol of the tree as life:-
‘The tree of Life is a standard Biblical symbol, but White is almost as familiar with the Kabbala as with the Bible. The Kabbala helps to understand the novel even better. The Sephiorotic tree has two aspects one benigh and other mallgn. This double-natural tree is a picture both of the Universe and of the Human mind. If one looks into one’s heat, one will see the holy aspect of the tree. The tree also symbolizes the dual nature of Gemini, the paralleled worlds of living and knowing. The image of tree is in a completely organic relation with the story of Stan and Amy Parker, the representative man and woman. The story of the novel begins with the image of tree and it also ends with reference to the same image. White says,
“The rooted trees fill Stan with the melancholy longing for permanence.
Here the natural growth of the trees provides a symbol of cohesive Unity in man’s life. Man can not exist in chaos. Moments before his death Stan Parker finds himself at the centre of cosmic Mandala to whose outer circle the God is related. Thus Stan experiences his most magnificent vision of totality.
v Symbols of roses, cabbages and shrubs:-
The triple symbols of roses, cabbages and shrubs provide a comparative study of Amy bridal day and her present mental stage. In the Initial days after her marriage, Amy plants a garden the rose bush serves as an outward sign of her emotions. Amy’s rose bush is juxtaposed to Stan’s trees. The giant size of the trees overshadows the rose bush. Later on, Amy becomes older and harder. The rose bushed and cabbages of her youth are replaced in her middle age of the shrubs. Her shrubs lack the imaginativeness which her roses possessed. Instead of artistic order the represent anarchy and chaos a destructive kind of the fruitful ness which is more monstrous than natural. It becomes a haphazard sort of garden. All flowers and leaves are inter-locked in the garden. The shrubs are blowing in each other.
v Significance of Natural cycle as a symbol.
“The Tree of Man” follows the pattern of the natural cycle. The four parts of the novel refer to the four reasons. The action of the novel progresses through the stages of innocence, experience death and reconciliation. The natural disaster in every stage creates a kind of a crisis which leads to search for permanence. The natural disasters in the four stages are storm, flood, fire and drought. These elements also stand for the difference in responses of Stan and Amy to Nature. In the midst of crisis and changes, they are in search of something firm and constant. These great symbols are tactfully used by Whit in this novel. They provide climatic reference for the lives of the Parkers. They are the symbols of their emotional condition. They symbolize progress or evolution in man’s life.
v Storm as a symbol.
Another significant symbol is the storm which follows the visit of pediar. It threatens the very existence of Stay and Amy. White remarks, “The whole earth was in motion, a motion of wind and streaming trees and he was in danger of being carried with it. Fear death grips them. Stand looks up the
for sympathy. Providence
v The house
The next the important symbol is ‘the house. Here it provides only an ‘illusion of safety’. Stan and Amy cling together in fear against the force of Nature. They make physical efforts to sustain their existence against the force of Nature. The God of storms, floods, fire and disaster sends upon the earth gusty winds and clouds which scatter men and women like leaves. At this time, Stan’s sense of personal identity begins to slip away from him. He suddenly feels insignificant. He feels himself like ‘a young naked man’. In an attempt of self-protection, he pushes Amy into the background of his consciousness. Here the storm of his wife fades into insignificance. Uptil now he was firm and strong as a husband, a father and an owner of cattle. But now he comes out of all such self-satisfaction. Life begins to take another form and meaning for him.
“Floods” are the symbols of fruitfulness. In this connection Vincent Buckley states, “The effect of the floods is to give the Parkers a new orientation towards each other, Life has erupted in their static live and the suggestion is that it has done of fruitfully.
Similarly, ‘Fire also stands as symbol. Amy’s imagination and Stan’s physical powers are exposed through the fire when it breaks out in
Like the great flood, the fire is as force that runs all together, trees,
birds, animals and men into the State of formlessness. Glastonbury
At last White points out that these four members of the Parker family are like the four rivers of paradise that rise at the Tree of Life.