Family:' Familial Love in Literature While Romantic Essay

Pages: 3 (1239 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

¶ … family:' Familial love in literature

While romantic, erotic, and even platonic (friendly) love may vary in their significance across cultures, it is difficult to name a society that does not give great significance to familial love. The genetic bond between family members is completely involuntary, and chosen by biology and circumstance, rather than the individual human will. However, despite the fact that it is almost impossible to survive without some sort of family ties, the subject of family love is almost invariably linked to violence, as in the case of Theodore Roethke's "My Papa's Waltz," "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor, and Hamlet by William Shakespeare. The uncomfortable closeness of family love -- sometimes wonderful, sometimes terrible -- brings discord, tension, and even death in these tales.

"My Papa's Waltz" by Roethke depicts an intense, almost violent scene: the speaker's father arrives home after drinking, and begins to dance with the boy. The boy evidently admires his father despite the smell of whisky on the father's breath. And despite the fact the father beats the time of the waltz on the boy's head, the boy is still "clinging" to his father's shirt as the child is waltzed off to bed. The father is powerful yet undisciplined and the boy his absolutely no control over the relationship: "But I hung on like death:/Such waltzing was not easy." To experience his father's love, the boy must go along with his father's moods and whims. Yet the child loves his father enough that he allows himself to be swept up by the joy of the experience.

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The father is slightly dangerous, as is evidenced by the alcohol he has been drinking and the dizziness of the boy. The father is not tender, or orderly, like the mother who is frowning at the father for being out drinking so late. The mother is obviously the everyday caretaker and discipliner, relegated to a world of pots and pans that rattle and slide from the shelves, rather than the subject of the boy's filial loyalty. The boy cannot resist feeling love for his father, and ignoring his mother even though: "The hand that held my wrist / Was battered on one knuckle; / At every step you missed / My right ear scraped a buckle."

TOPIC: Essay on Family:' Familial Love in Literature While Romantic, Assignment

In contrast, the family of "A Good Man is Hard to Find" by Flannery O'Connor is petty and squabbling and seemingly without affection. Everyone in the family is at odds, not just the father and mother as in the case of the Roethke poem. The story begins with the grandmother of the tale complaining that she wants to visit her family in Tennessee rather than go to Florida. Instead of showing her respect, her grandson says: "If you don't want to go to Florida, why dontcha stay at home?" He resists closeness with her, rather than embraces it. The family is close physically, as symbolized by their encasement in a car on their road trip, but do not seem to have the kind of passionate love for one another as depicted in Roethke's poem. Despite his struggles with his father, Roethke's speaker still admires his father and allows the man to dominate him during the waltz, and accepts the father's unintended abuse without complaint.

In contrast, O'Connor's protagonists fight continually and their genetic and physical closeness seems to make them dislike one another more, rather than embrace one another emotionally "If I were a little boy,' said the grandmother, 'I wouldn't talk about my native state that way. Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills.' 'Tennessee is just a hillbilly dumping ground,' John Wesley said…'In my time," said the grandmother, folding her… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Family:' Familial Love in Literature While Romantic" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Family:' Familial Love in Literature While Romantic.  (2009, December 8).  Retrieved December 6, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Family:' Familial Love in Literature While Romantic."  8 December 2009.  Web.  6 December 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Family:' Familial Love in Literature While Romantic."  December 8, 2009.  Accessed December 6, 2021.