Postmodernism in The English Patient Essay examples

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Postmodernism in The English Patient


Postmodernism is one of the most controversial and influential intellectual movements to appear in the last fifty years. In order to understand postmodernism, it would be wise to begin with a definition of modernism. Modernism is a philosophy based on the belief that through Enlightenment values of rationality and the absolute truth of science, the human race will evolve into a utopia. Modernists are Eurocentric, humanistic, and optimistic. Postmodernism is essentially a rejection of modernism and all Enlightenment values. More importantly, postmodernism looks upon the "modern" world with increased cynicism and disappointment. Key themes in postmodern thought include irony
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Although Katharine hates lies, she is living one by involving herself in an affair. Almasy explains to Katharine while in the bath, his hatred of ownership. However, later in the film after she tries to break off the relationship he becomes insanely jealous and tells her he "wants the things which belong to him" (Minghella, English). The most significant irony comes near the end of the film when Almasy, on his deathbed, confesses to Carvaggio that he was responsible for Katharine's death (Minghella, English). Almasy is overcome with grief in the cave when he tells Katharine "every night I cut out my heart, but in the morning it was full again," essentially saying his "organ of fire" consumed his every thought (Minghella, English). He tells Carvaggio "she died because of me. Because I loved her," and he had the power to control the situation but chose not to (Minghella, English). The English Patient is filled with situations of significant irony used to promote postmodernism.



Relativism, skepticism, and self-consciousness are major postmodern themes found in the film. The relativism in the film deals with a lack of universal truth and no real distinctions between "good" and "bad". Kip remarks to Hana near the end of the film that both Almasy and Hardy are "what is good about England", when he…