Monday, February 4, 2008

Lord Chandos

In "A Letter" by Hofmannsthal, Lord Chandos struggles with the loss of language.  He cannot stream words together and express his thoughts and feelings.  This loss of language happens because he finds that language becomes an entity that is not whole but instead is now an empty, meaningless action that holds no true depth and meaning.  Language no longer fully embodies the metaphysical power it once had to seek and display the overlaying truths of life.  And so, to Lord Chandos the poet becomes a liar through which language misrepresents the truth in life when to Lord Chandos it no longer comes close to being able to represent the truth, hence his transaction with his daughter in which he could not call her liar because by his saying liar he would become a liar himself.  Because language has become a tool of lies, the loss is an ethical one because by continuing to use language as the main mechanism for expression he would become a liar, an unethical man.

I think that Ulrich and Lord Chandos are one in the same.  Lord Chandos lost his language, but Ulrich has yet to find his.  They are both men lost in the world around them, unable to express themselves and their qualities in relation to those around them.  

1 comment:

Brooke Bowen said...

I would disagree that Ulrich and Chandos are the same person. Ulrich declines to speak a lot, but is still vocal; he is frustrated by some circumstances, but still has the 'language' of scientific inquiry to express himself. Is Ulrich is an artist without a voice? What is 'unsayable' for Ulrich that he cannot articulate?