Yesterday when I attended the “Playful Poe” show, I saw many similarities between the plays and our three readings, Old Walt by Langston Hughes, Formula by Langston Hughes, and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. One play that particularly relates to the readings is “Headlong into the Abyss.” This play is based on Poe’s Descent into the Maelstrom and tells a story of a mother and son trapped in their home during the tragic hurricane Katrina. The son refuses to leave without his mother, because he would rather sacrifice himself than leave her to die. The central idea connecting the play and the readings is dedication to what is of greatest importance.
In Old Walt, Langston Hughes describes Walt Whitman’s devotion to writing poetry. His poem explains that Whitman spent much time and effort working on poetry and was dedicated to his work. This dedication can be compared to the son’s dedication in the play “Headlong into the Abyss.” Because the boy loves his mother, he does everything in his power to stay with her and save the both of them. Whitman and the boy in the play both show commitment to something that is important to them.
In Langston Hughes’ poem Formula, the narrator talks about the desirable qualities of poetry. He enjoys that poetry can uniquely portray the essence of a thing, such as the majesty of a soaring bird or the effervescence of a rose. The narrator’s hopeful view of poems shows his dedication to communicative art forms. Like the boy in “Headlong into the Abyss,” the speaker in this poem expresses love for something that holds great meaning to him. The speaker feels love for poetry the way the son feels love for his mother.
Mary Shelley’s story of Frankenstein tells of Victor’s creation of a quasi-human monster. The monster resents Victor for creating him by himself because he is lonely, and so he then murders Victor’s brother William as revenge. Although the monster ruins Victor’s life, Victor still dedicates his time to creating a female companion for him. The monster is important to Victor because he created him, so, like the son in the play, he is devoted to helping him in spite of the danger to himself.
In all three of our class readings and “Headstrong into the Abyss,” the characters are devoted to something they love. The boy is dedicated to his mother, Walt Whitman and the speaker in Formula are dedicated to poetry, and Victor is dedicated to the monster he created. All of these instances portray a person’s dedication to something in his life that holds particular significance or meaning to him.