The act of being self-destructive does not just come to be. It occurs slowly and takes hold in individuals to varying degrees, contingent upon how ‘ cold’ they are, and by their level of self-absorption and conceited desires. A combination of these characteristics can be discerned in each of the protagonists from the literary forms I studied.
Each character is self-destructive, but the consequences of their actions and the number of people they hurt tends to magnify depending on how many of these characteristics they appear to demonstrate. What unites these characters is their ultimate self-destruction, resulting in the death of three out of four characters studied here. These four characters are Macbeth, from the play ‘ Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare; Eddie, from the play ‘ A view from the Bridge’ by Arthur Miller’; Kenny, in the short-story ‘ Hunters in the Snow’ by Tobias Wolff; and, Ben Sanderson in the film ‘ Leaving Las Vegas’ directed by Mike Figgis. Macbeth and Kenny are characters who share a connection of becoming increasingly cold which leads them towards self-destruction.
They lack empathy and compassion. Cold characters come across as angry, hostile and oftentimes critical towards others. Macbeth becomes increasingly cold throughout the play as his conscience begins to dissipate. To begin with he has remorse and feels a degree of guilt in killing the King of Scotland. When he later kills Duncan, he feels guilt and remorse however his wife helps him.
Over time though, with additional killings, he becomes increasingly apathetic and callous. He shuts himself off from his feelings and becomes increasingly cold. His lack of feeling results in actions that lead him to become self-destructive. The theme of coldness is also seen in the short-story ‘ Hunters in the Snow’. The setting of the story is a snowy forest which symbolises the coldness between three so-called hunting friends. Kenny is a cold-hearted character which is evident in his.
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