Freedom versus Restriction
In poems, “Liberty” by Thomas Lynch, “Suburban” by John Ciardi, and short story “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allen Poe, speakers express different messages about freedom and restriction imposed by society. In this weeks event I attended, the Zen meditation, we focused on freeing your mind from your own self-restriction. In “Liberty” Lynch feels constricted by his society but ultimately defies this with an act of freedom. In “Suburban” Ciardi has to go about his life according to rules set forth by society, but is able to find humor in his situation. Finally, in “The Cask of Amontillado” the narrator obtains freedom, but through an act of revenge. All of these texts demonstrate how vital freedom is for an individual, and various ways of reacting to a limitation of freedom in society.
In “Liberty” the speaker is able to find freedom when he rebels against his society, urinating on his front lawn. In the first lines of the poem Lynch states, “Some nights I go out and piss on the front lawn / as a form of freedom – liberty from / porcelain and plumbing” (Lynch 1-3). Here he defies societal norms, and what is generally accepted by those in his society, and feels liberated doing so. In this case, Lynch uses humor to express the absurdity of societal conventions when the speakers’ act of defiance is urination. When he urinates on his lawn he feels open and is able to escape his ex-wife and pressures to conform from those around him. He feels in touch with his primitive ancestors in the wild when he does something that is now considered to be a defying act unheard of in society today.
In “Suburban” Mr. Ciardi plays by the rules of society, having restricted freedom, and acts as a good neighbor to Mrs. Friar. In this poem Mrs. Friar accuses Mr. Ciardi’s dog of “deposited – forgive me – / a large repulsive object in my petunias” (Ciardi 4-5). Mr. Ciardi knows this is impossible because his dog is in Vermont with his son. However, he chooses to take the high road and not argue with her and instead he says, “But why lose out on organic gold for a wise crack?” (11). Here Mr. Ciardi has his freedom restricted with his obligation to be a good neighbor and take care of a dog’s deposit. However he is able to find the humor in the situation by thinking of the dog’s deposit as “organic gold” and finds arguing with Mrs. Friar about the situation not worth his time.
In “The Cask of Amontillado” the narrator, whose name we later learn is Montresor, is able to find freedom, but in a much more dark and revengeful way than in the poems. In the short story Montresor seeks revenge on Mr. Fortunato because he has “injured” him in a thousand ways. Montresor tricks and kills Mr. Fortunato for the wrong he has done to him. Montresor ends the story saying “In pace requiesact!” (Poe 1066) saying, “Rest in peace!” Not only does this apply to Mr. Fortunato but also to Montresor himself. He can now be at peace because he feels he has successful gotten revenge on Mr. Fortunato. With this revenge comes freedom and he is liberated from the pain Mr. Fortunato had caused on him.
In this weeks Zen mediation we, tried to free our mind, and again this proved to be a tremendous challenge for me. It is extremely difficult to not allow any thoughts to come through my mind and solely focus on counting my breaths. However, at some points throughout the twenty minutes increments we sat there, I was able to successfully put everything in my life behind me and be at peace with my mind, body, and spirit. After successful meditation, during the walking portion of the meditation I felt much more free, and was not worrying about societal pressures or any other things I needed to do later. This was an extremely liberating experience.
When one does not have freedom in society they can choose to obtain it in various ways. In “Suburban” the speaker choose to accept his restricted freedom and find humor in the situation he was in. In “Liberty” the speaker had rebellious actions against the conventions in his society and choose to express this through urinating on his lawn. In “The Cask of Amontillado” Montresor obtains freedom through a deceitful act of revenge. I personally was able to experience freedom through the practice of Zen mediation and freeing my mind. All of these texts demonstrate the need for freedom and the lengths one will go to attain it. Though my meditation I am able to confirm the need for freedom and need to break free from restrictions imposed on them through society or their own mind.