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Illusion in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark and Sonny’s Blues by James Baldwin

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Illusion can be defined as a distortion of the senses, of reality, and the perception of a dream like world that consumes us. James Baldwin author of the short story “Sonny’s Blues” uses the unique creativity of illusion to therefore draw in his readers. He uses several literary elements including characterization, plot, and setting to express his elaborate use of illusion in this story. Likewise Nathaniel Hawthorne author of the most controversial short story “The Birthmark” also uses illusion to draw attention to an almost magical setting of mystery and morality. Both of these authors use this theme in their works brilliantly, but in contrasting styles, which on the contrary makes their works masterpieces in distorting the beauty and truth in the world.
In the setting of “Sonny’s Blues” the element of illusion is used to create above all a world of beauty, illness and horror. Baldwin uses the sense of sight in his work. Using colors of vast difference to express to his readers their definition of what good vs bad, and light vs dark is. However it is so much more than that, he gives his readers the opportunity to consider truth. He introduces Sonny a character who fall’s victim to subjectivity and bias. With the tremendous use if illusion and color, Baldwin paints a picture and Sonny’s character is reviled in an almost angelic way. This theme is prevalent throughout the story, and Baldwin’s use of illusion really captures the truth in the story. He uses such colors as yellow to signify the illness of the streets and the drugs that consume them in the character of Sonny’s friend. The color of blue is one that is used often in the story but in different contrasts; blue signifies the beauty of Sonny’s conquering to his addiction...


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...d not be able to relate or fabricate the magic behind the meanings. Authors use illusion is several ways whether it is in the plot, setting or in the characters themselves. Baldwin used color in the setting around his characters to depict the illusion that was created. Hawthorne uses the illusion of color within his characters to relay the message. Both authors used the of illusion constituent on in ways resplendent and helped the reader gain a perspicacity into the lives of these characters.




Works Cited


Baldwin, James. “Sonny’s Blues” The Norton Introduction to Literature 10th Ed. Booth, Alison &
Mays, Kelly J. New York, London: W.W Norton & Company, Inc., 2006. 75-101. Print

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birthmark” The Norton Introduction to Literature 10th Ed. Booth, Alison &
Mays, Kelly J. New York, London: W.W Norton & Company, Inc., 2006. 218-231. Print



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