Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Characterisation: Magnates, Disproportionate Persons and People Figures

Student 24's picture

At what point in time after death does a person become a figure? A legend? A character?

In my rewrite of my essay, "The Tree's Solemn Warning," I'm going to explore a few ideas. I'm going to move more into the three neighbouring portraits that surround Utrillo's painting. This will introduce the idea of large, close-up images of individual persons versus the small, basic people figures depicted by Utrillo. So, who's a figure? Who's an image? Who's a person?

I reread the articles and essays, and I think I'm mainly going to stick with "The Barnes Foundation, RIP" article, which gave me some great ideas. I haven't fully organised them all, but they are something along the lines of: looking at Barnes as a figure - about whose depiction I am mainly learning from this article - and as a character who carries symbols and meanings in his story. These items would include his history as a wrestler, his career as a "pharmaceutical magnate," and his intentions of creating an educational institution. After his death [the point where he now becomes a character] his story more strongly tells of economic and business incentives in the mask of others' educational intentions.

In theory, education is a public good that should be provided by the government. Yet, Barnes seems to be wanting to take over. So, right off the bat, that shows there is something fundamentally wrong with the current education system being provided to "plain people." How is Barnes approaching this? Using the money he earned as a "pharmaceutical magnate." Pharmaceuticals, medicines, health care advancement and improvement... Here are presented ideas about supporting the advances in science and medicinal technology [I have yet to do some research about the exact drug Barnes developed] versus supporting education through art. Barnes's life ended in his work with arts, so symbolically that is powerful. Going back to education being provided by the government - what about health care? Where does Barnes's contribution to medicine come into play? And his incentives? Monetary? Profit-oriented? How does this relate to government spending on health care practise improvement? And what about his wrestling to earn money to pay for schooling? Realistically: means to earn money to purchase a good - education. Symbolically: exploiting his own natural, physical strength to present superiority and domination in the ring during each individual wrestling match. Mentally: perhaps... there are too many male characters in this picture?

And to relate this all back to Utrillo's painting, I'm dealing with the concepts of strength, superiority, and success. Also how the dominant force is performing these three things. The government (which is what I'm taking to be the dominant societal force, if is against that that Barnes was acting by taking into his own hands the duty of providing an educational institution to "plain people") is being challenged. Yet in the midst of this, there are so many monetary and profit-oriented incentives and intentions... what does it all boil down to? Altruism? Sheer self-interest? How do we separate the two?

In any case, this might get really messy and convoluted, but somewhere, somehow, someone is a lamppost, someone is a tree, and the chapel is everyone those someone's can't be.