Literary Thematic Connections

Gravity Journal, The Dark Knight Rises and Cecil Castellucci

Overview

A topic that the novel Gravity Journal, the film The Dark Knight Rises, and author Cecil Castellucci discuss is rebirth. The topic expresses the theme that life is a prison and the only escape is death. This death is not a physical one, but a metaphysical one in which the characters are reborn, better than they were before.


Gravity Journal, The Dark Knight Rises, and Cecil Castellucci's website present this theme with interesting insight, benefiting from their different mediums. In Gravity Journal, the protagonist, Anise, is a clinically depressed anorexic. At certain times, the book uses pages from Anise's journal to communicate her hardships; the ink she uses for her journal is her own blood, obtained by cutting herself. At the conclusion of the novel, she destroys a weight scale to show she is done with obsessing over her weight. In The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce Wayne is left broken in a prison at the hands of his enemy. After months, he recovers and rebuilds his physique to escape from the prison. Finally, in Cecil Castellucci's White Pine novel, First Day on Earth, the protagonist, Mal, has a callous view of the world, thinks himself an alien, and hopes to return to his home planet. Castellucci's website details her many works ranging from runs on comic books to the upcoming Moving Target: Princess Leia Star Wars spin-off.


Author Ernest Hemingway once said that "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self." This quotation implies that rebirth is a necessary, constant, and virtuous part of human nature. Rebirth has been presented as an aspect of life throughout religion, society, and literature. A god-fearing person knows that once he/she has sinned, he/she needs to repent in front of a believed higher power. An alcoholic can be sent to rehab and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to overcome his addiction and be reborn into something better. A good example from The Bible would be Jesus, who underwent a physical death, but was subsequently brought back to life by a higher power, dining and interacting with his followers. However, rebirth is not limited to the religious, as everybody goes through this process in order to overcome a problem in their lives.

Gravity Journal Summary

The plot of Gravity Journal regards the struggle of a depressed anorexic trying to break free of her dysfunctional family and her obsession of her weight. Most of all, she longs to be free of the mental hospital her parents have admitted her to. Her interactions with characters such as her psychiatrist, friends, and family push her to suicide, before she is saved and reminded of her psychiatrist she isn't dying, but rather being reborn. It is after this brush with death that Anise puts her foot down and actively fights her depression and anorexia, concluding with her destroying her weight scale.

Gravity Journal Characters

Anise Jasmine-Luther: Anise is the intelligent, cultured, and tortured protagonist of the novel. She suffers from anorexia and clinical depression. She is very fond of the arts and uses them to express herself, sometimes in great extremes (i.e. cutting herself and using the blood as ink for her journal). Anise is the POV character of the whole novel, but every listed character plays a critical part in her recovery.


Marcel Jasmine-Luther: Marcel is Anise's carefree brother, and also her closest confidant. He has a drug habit that interferes with his relations.


Trent and Deirdre Jasmine-Luther: Trent is Anise and Marcel's gentle and affluent father. Deirdre, their mother, is a control freak who takes advantage of Trent's wealth and nature to make most decisions for the family. Anise refers to them as Witless and Loathed respectively.


Boyd: Boyd is an enigmatic and energetic spirit who suffers from bi-polar disorder, and is admitted to 4-Psych-O like Anise. He also becomes Anise's boyfriend in the novel.


Mo: Mo is Anise's psychiatrist. She and Anise become close friends near the end of the novel, when Anise learns Mo used to hate herself when she was younger due to her weight. Mo is fond of metaphors, and her metaphors are often used to communicate the themes of the story.

Gravity Journal Thematic Connection

The Gravity Journal deals with topics of suicide, self-harm, love, rebirth, and death. The central theme is "life is a prison and the only escape is death". Throughout the novel, Anise, Marcel, and Boyd attempt suicide, inflict forms of self-harm, and come from different families. The central conflict is man versus man, shown throughout Anise’s eating disorder, Marcel’s drug addiction, and Boyd’s bi-polar disorder. Every time Anise feels particularly distressed or strongly about a topic, the font becomes much more calligraphic, and the reader is told the ink is Anise's blood; she's writing by cutting herself in moments of intense stress.


To communicate the central themes of the novel, allusions, symbolism, and metaphors are commonly used. For example, Anise and the patients allude to themselves as inmates and compare 4-Psych-O to a prison ward. After Anise has an argument with her mother, she buries dolls their family made to represent themselves in their backyard, and the house becomes symbolic of a grave. At one point, when Anise attempts suicide, her psychiatrist, Mo, says that “Being born hurts like hell” and that she is in the process of being reborn. The prison allusion elaborates on the theme that “life is a prison and the only escape is death”. The house becoming a grave is symbolic of Anise losing her family and livelihood. At the ending of Gravity Journal, Anise destroys her weight scale, symbolic of her rebirth and being cured of her anorexia and depression.

The Dark Knight Rises Summary

The Dark Knight Rises is the story of Bruce Wayne, a billionaire who uses the trauma from the death of his parents to be the vigilante known as The Batman. Before the events of the film, The Batman took the blame for an adversary's killing spree to prevent Gotham City, the city he protects, from succumbing to chaos in the aftermath. 8 years later, leader of the vigilante organization, the League of Shadows, Bane, comes to Gotham to wreak havoc. The previous leader of the League had mentored Bruce, and Bane sees himself as the one who will fulfill his plan of destroying corrupt civilization: Gotham City. In the event that he dies combating the League, Bruce leaves his company's future to his close friend, Miranda Tate.


Already past his prime, the Batman is broken physically by Bane, becoming a paraplegic, with Bane even acquiring his wealth and arsenal. While Bane seeks to detonate a time bomb in the heart of Gotham, Bruce Wayne is kept in a pit to bear witness, helpless. Months later, Bruce is able to recover and escape from the prison, with only days left until the bomb detonates. Before the end of the film, Miranda Tate reveals herself to be the daughter of Ra's Al Ghul, and has manipulated Bruce into returning as the Batman to bear witness to the destruction of Gotham. The Gotham City Police Force, rebelling against Bane's dictatorship, manages to buy some more time, in which Tate must wait for the timer to run out. In the ensuing chase, Bane and Tate are incapacitated. At the end of the film, Batman sacrifices himself by transporting the time bomb out of Gotham City. It is later shown he is alive, but has retired from being The Batman.

The Dark Knight Rises Thematic Connection

The film explores the topic of rebirth by addressing Bruce Wayne's re-emergence as The Batman both times at the beginning of the film, and when he escapes the pit; he was thrown in as a shell, he came out as a reinvigorated Batman, full of determination. At the end of the film, Batman has seemingly died, whereas in real life Bruce Wayne is still alive, symbolizing that the persona of The Batman is metaphysically dead for Bruce Wayne, and he is ready to live a normal life.


Visual imagery, production design, as well as orchestral score communicate the theme of rebirth. In the prison escape sequence, Bruce Wayne is escaping a pit. The pit is symbolic of his own tragic persona, and him escaping from it. As he is making the pivotal jump, a group of bats, nesting in the cracks, suddenly emerge, flying to the surface just as Bruce makes his ascent. In one scene in the film, Bruce Wayne attends a charity masquerade, where he interacts with Miranda Tate: two vigilantes hiding in plain sight. Last, the musical score of the film uses crescendoes and lift-offs which build to a loud burst of brass. The end of the film uses the cutoff from the brass as denouement.

Cecil Castellucci's website is able to convey the author's vision for her novels such as The Last Day on Earth, effectively. The website comes off as plain, with a black on white background filled with colorful visuals. Two things worth noting in her bio are that she is proud of the fact she waited six weeks in a tent to see The Phantom Menace at the time of release and works in every form of the arts, illustrating her quirky nature.


The novel, First Day on Earth, revolving around the pessimistic character known as Mal, discusses the topic of rebirth that Castellucci has in mind. Mal believes that he is an extraterrestrial and that his friend will one day rescue him from the ugly reality that is the earth. By the end of the book, Mal decides to start living instead criticizing from the sidelines, bringing the cycle of rebirth full circle.

Value

Gravity Journal, The Dark Knight Rises, and Cecil Castellucci's website do not merely entertain, but effectively and creatively convey the topic of rebirth in the visions of Gail Sidonie Sobat, Christopher Nolan, and Cecil Castellucci. Gravity Journal seeks to give hope to a sufferer from a psychological or eating disorder. The Dark Knight Rises seeks to teach anybody who idolizes a hero that fear can be overcome, and that rebirth is a natural part of life. Cecil Castellucci's website serves to detail Castellucci's life. Gravity Journal is placed entirely in the point of view of an anorexic, which is not innovative, but refreshing to a first time reader if they wish to learn about the struggle of an anorexic. The Dark Knight Rises paints a bleak world of a comic book hero, illustrating that there are no victors in the world, and change is a common process. A post on Castellucci's website, detailing how to boost awareness for artists, provides a look into how industries look at who they buy content from. In conclusion, all sources provide significant insight and information.

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Literary Thematic Connections: Rebirth by thewritetype