Double Consciousness in Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

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The Theme of Double Consciousness in the Novel Invisible Man By Ralph Ellison

11/15/2011

Ralph Ellison is one of the few figures in American literature that has the ability to properly place the struggles of his characters fluidly on paper. His dedication to properly depict the true plight of African Americans in this exclusionary society gave birth to one of the greatest novels in American history. Invisible Man is a novel which tells the story of an African American man, and his journey through a society which continuously refused to see him for who he truly was. In the novel Ellison gives us a main character without a name, this at first may shock any average reader but once one falls into the enchantments of the novel,
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In this journey our main character also see’s the many faces of the black man, and how all of these faces where created in response to the actions of the white man never in response to one’s own actions. Towards the end of the novel the main character finds himself in a difficult predicament as he is being hounded by men who want him dead. Despite this, he manages to find a pair of glasses and a huge hat which he believes would disguise him just enough so that he can escape his potential murderers. As he walks around Harlem in his new guise, many begin to confuse him for someone called Rinehart who seems to be bookie, a pimp, and a preacher all at once. The ability to be so many things is at first attractive to the main character as he slowly begins to sink into the role of Rinehart, however he soon realizes that Rinehart’s multiple identities are merely a reflection of his inauthenthicity. Rinehart has no true self-consciousness and has allowed for others to create his image for him; Rinehart is only identified in the novel by others, never by himself. Rinehart’s character is representative of the notion of Double Consciousness as it shows the black men without the ability or better yet the privilege of self identity. Invisible Man is much more than just a novel about a man who lacks an identity, it is about a society which has continuously failed to give an
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