Essay about Alienation: Mona Lisa and World

Submitted By akshitatrip
Words: 1049
Pages: 5

Alienation is a 20th century concept that everyone can relate to; it involves being withdrawn from the world through irrelevance. Renowned philosophers such as Karl Marx have theories that state how people tend to be isolated from other people due to social class, beliefs, religion and values which results in them having an inhumanly nature; they become detached, feel futile and are unable to relate to anything. Alienation is usually felt in three forms; from others, the world and most importantly oneself. This concept can heavily impact one’s outlook towards life and can often lead to one withdrawing from the world.
“The Smile” by Ray Bradbury and “38 Who Saw Murder” by Martin Gansberg are pieces of writing that depict an in depth form of alienation. Bradbury’s story is based upon how war and destruction have affected the forthcoming generation and how those people have chosen to cope with the circumstances. Tom from “The Smile” is a character who is extremely isolated from the people around him. He likes to see the beauty in living while others around him loathe their history and are raged by the fact that they have to deal with the post nuclear war destruction. To show their aggression, people participated in rituals that involved them showing their disrespect in some way to significant monuments, statues or paintings. Similarly, Gansberg’s article is about witnesses reacting oddly and inhumanly to a homicide. 38 witnesses who beheld the deathly assault of Catherine Genovese were unable to respond to the victim who cried out for their help until she was killed. These people did not react the way society would have perceived them to. The story and the article feature characters that are negatively impacted by alienation, causing their transformation in their identity, choice of decisions and opinion towards the world.
Both, Tom and the witnesses from the story and article face social alienation. This is a notion that causes people to feel like foreigners in their own society. Tom’s friend, Grisby who likes to participate in destructing rituals tries to explain the significance of it by saying that “you hate whatever it was that got you all knocked down and ruined” (Bradbury 31). Tom is very alienated since he does not believe in following the traditions set out by his people. His beliefs differ from his society’s especially when he is forced to disrespect it but he claims that “she’s beautiful” by looking at the canvas of Mona Lisa (Bradbury 59). Likewise, Gansberg’s article also shares the similar theme of social alienation when the witnesses of Kitty’s murder did not react in a humanitarian way. The police tried to understand why the witnesses did not call them and showed their confusion by saying “a phone call would have done it” and could have saved Kitty (Gansberg 24). In both of these situations, society is incapable of relating with Tom or the witnesses. These characters are not a part of their society’s beliefs, customs or values and therefore are greatly alienated from the world and others around them. Being trapped with alienation causes the loss of being able to relate to oneself and their identity. Tom shares an interest for beauty that no one else really understands but his passion gets to the best of him when he decided to rip off Mona Lisa’s smile from the canvas. He believes in preserving beauty and appreciates what is left but his alienation caused him to tear apart the canvas and keep it while everyone else chose to destroy it. Tom becomes estranged to himself because he goes against his beliefs and rips off the smile from the canvas. When he realizes that he has the smile in his hands, he hesitates to “uncrumple the tiny fragment of painted canvas” (Bradbury 30). Comparatively, Gansberg’s article also shows the witnesses being alienated from themselves. These witnesses ignored Kitty’s pleading cry for help and believed in what they thought was right at the time. Many of the witnesses compartmentalized…