Essay on Comparing Excess in Morrison’s Sula and Ginsberg’s Howl
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Application of Excess in Morrison’s Sula and Ginsberg’s Howl
In William Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell, he declares that "the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom…Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained." These beliefs are reiterated and expanded upon in both Toni Morrison’s novel Sula and Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem Howl. Both authors challenge the conception of socially imposed boundaries, which suppress the absolute freedom of thought and action, by venerating the human characteristic of excess. Instead of abiding by the social norms of the general cultural animosity towards excess, Morrison and Ginsberg use this vilified "attribute" as a means to transcend the aforementioned…show more content…
This occurs when Sula overhears her mother confessing that although she loves her daughter, she doesn’t particularly like her. Only moments later Sula accidentally heaves Chicken Little into the river where he drowns. These coupling of events deflate all the idealistic conceptions of trust and reliance in the world that she once had: "The first experience taught her there was no other that you could count on; the second that there was no self to count on either. She had no center, no speck around which to grow"(118-119).
The traumatic consequences of these events stunt Sula’s emotional maturation and understanding at the raw age of twelve. From this moment on, her emotional wellbeing is solely restricted to what she has learned from her family and immediate surroundings, with no chance of growth: "Eva’s arrogance and Hannah’s self-indulgence merged in her and, with a twist that was all her own imagination, she lived out her days exploring her own thoughts and emotions, giving them full reign, feeling no obligation to please anybody unless their pleasure pleased her"(118). This excess in behavior is undeniably childlike in nature, which is due to the retardation of Sula’s emotional and social growth at such a young age.
Sula’s propensity for not being able to rely on another human being, coupled with her youth-like conceptions of