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Destabilizing Effects Of Art

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Notable artist, Vincent van Gogh, is credited with saying that the purpose of “Art is to console those who are broken by life.” This quotation seemingly implies that through exposure to art forms and the process of creation, feelings of comfort and healing will naturally result in the individual. However, while art may often support a cohesive nature in the ‘self,’ it can also serve to undermine this sense of satisfaction and wholeness. Specifically, in both Stephen King’s Misery (1987) and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (2014), the texts demonstrate these negative consequences of creation by subsequently revealing the destabilizing effects of art or artistic expression on the individual’s psychological and social performance. The exploration of this thematic trend occurs through the symbol of the “constant reader” as a representation of the theme of obsession, the recurring archetype of the Muse, and patterns of action of transitional shifts in character persona. As such, it is through these tropes that the works ultimately come to question the degree to which there is a distinction between the use of Art as a device for creation and for that of destruction.
The “constant reader” as a symbolic representation of obsession and so, the destabilizing effects of art and artistic expression is primarily apparent in both texts through the characters of Annie Wilkes and the Prophet. Within the novel Misery, the protagonist, Paul Sheldon, contextualizes the “constant
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