In response to Michael Hollinger's Naked Lunch, can someone help me outline a 1700 word essay?  I was thinking about how the drama reflects dramatic build up from verbal abuse to outright force...

In response to Michael Hollinger's Naked Lunch, can someone help me outline a 1700 word essay?  I was thinking about how the drama reflects dramatic build up from verbal abuse to outright force exerted on the victim in making her comply as a thesis but do not know how to form an essay based on this.

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durbanville | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Naked Lunch by Michael Hollinger is, on the face of it, a discussion between two young adults conflicted in their outlook. As the play progresses, the viewer understands that there are many contentious issues that are explored in this short play. The subtlety of the abuse should not be overlooked in addressing the issues that so easily develop into so much more than is revealed on the surface.

Your thesis statement needs to reflect your own opinions and how you, in writing an essay, feel about the subject matter.  Be sure to make specific references in your essay to the problems for Lucy and Vernon to ensure that it does not become vague. This play is obviously not just about the value of a piece of meat so you need to explore all the avenues, such as Lucy's submissive attitude and the stereotypical scenario with which the viewer is presented, lack of conviction in her own beliefs, taking responsibility, misunderstandings, Vernon's lack of respect for Lucy's views and vice versa, the inability of both of them to see the bigger picture, apportioning blame and the ultimate outcomes. These all need to be considered independently and then judged as a whole to form a conclusion on what is really taking place and the danger and potential for a much more sinister and ultimately tragic end to what seems like a harmless quarrel and difference of opinion. When not handled well, such a difference of opinion becomes a life-changing event.

This play reveals how complex relationships really are and how both Lucy and Vernon are guilty of ignoring the impact on the other. Lucy obviously thought that becoming a vegetarian would improve her life. However, by not including Vernon in her decision, she almost dismisses him as unimportant - which fact he picks up on but manages very badly.

Consider for a thesis statement:

  1. Who would have thought that a piece of meat could represent a universal message and a warning that misunderstandings originate from the most innocuous circumstances and may have the most disastrous consequences when verbal abuse translates into physical cruelty? 
  2. Surprise, opinion and dismissal, resistance to change, mistrust, spite and verbal abuse, manipulation, exploitation and, ultimately, physical abuse all describe the developing system of abusive behavior and how it can escalate beyond repair. 
  3. Abuse manifests itself in the most unexpected circumstances; from a simple statement of preference, it is revealed in the reaction of others and, such is its ability to exploit, that it may only be noticed when it's almost too late. 

The message is so real and yet very few people see themselves in a situation like this. A lack of self-awareness and an element of selfishness prevents either Lucy or Vernon from realizing how their actions directly affect each other. Lucy lacks appreciation for Vernon's surprise and the fact that she did not even have the grace to let him know minimizes his importance; one of the apparent reasons for his inappropriate over-reaction. Vernon's belief that things could so easily go back to what they were before reveals his lack of willingness to change or adapt. Analyse the characters in defining the situation and how the drama builds from a manageable situation to an impossible future for this couple unless there is a mindset change for both. 

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