So I got my notes back on my first draft of my Catharsis paper today, and I guess it's a good start, but I still have a lot to parse out and a lot more to write.
I guess I myself am still trying to figure out what catharsis is, and I'm trying to find it in others' writing so I can learn how to successfully manage it in my own writing.
Today was Mary Poppins and Les Miserables.
I'm still not sure how Travers did catharsis, because it's there, especially in the scene where the babies forget everything they knew before, and that was heart-breaking, but how did she do it? My hypothesis right now is that it was based on a set of expectations, wishes and needs of the characters, and the payoff of all of that combined.
Reading Les Mis aloud to Alex, we had a few tears in our eyes. Tonight was the night where Jean Valjean finally rescues Cosette from the Thenardiers. You just wanted him to take the poor wretch out of the stupid tavern, but Hugo made us hurt. He held our hands over the burning smoke of the fire, never taking it away, but never making it too unbearable that we couldn't keep on. Tension. Tension and the desire of the audience to see Cosette freed. I think that's what caused the catharsis.
But it was also that build-up. We'd seen Jean Valjean care for Fantine, we'd seen Fantine yearn for Cosette, and here Cosette was, saying she didn't have a mother. It nearly broke our hearts like it broke Valjean's. But did Valjean say anything? No, he didn't. He kept his mouth shut, and that built tension. So desire paired with tension can cause catharsis?
I need to keep reading.
What is this?
Dawson is an editor and writer and MFA student at Stonecoast. She writes stuff.