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Harry Mulisch's The Assault - Essay Example

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Harry Mulisch's "The Assault" 1. Introduction The Second World War impacted many lives throughout its course and for years to come. Every living soul in Europe was impacted by the war in one form or the other. However the depth and the impact of the war on different people were different…
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Harry Mulischs The Assault
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"Harry Mulisch's The Assault"

Download file to see previous pages The novel essentially explores the sides of human beings that one would not normally observe in normal circumstances. This applies equally to the protagonist of the story as well as to the other characters that have been woven around his story. The author powerfully depicts how the actions of a few individuals in a short span of time end up impacting lives beyond measure. The characters are shown interwoven together at the beginning of the novel as they all live in proximity of each other but a single event changes the lives of these people by a large degree. The protagonist Anton is shown as being impacted the most by the murder of the police chief Ploeg as his family is executed by the Nazis in retaliation. The protagonist can be seen struggling with the newly emerging realities after the death of his family not just for a few years but for the entire span of his life. There is also a certain morality to the novel where morality and ethics have been tainted with a clear dose of relativism. (Complete Review) Given the circumstances of the day, the novel clearly depicts that morality was more of a paradox than a clear and blatant reality. The characters present in the novel are worth looking into because the author has used interplay amongst them to fully define the entire story. 2. Background The novel has been set out in the last days of the Third Reich as German control was collapsing on Europe. The story reflects the state of affairs throughout most of Europe and the common dilemma of whose side one should be on. On the one hand the Germans are still strongly in control of certain areas such as Netherlands (where the story has been created) and on the other hand the influence of the Allies and the communists in defeating the Nazis is undeniable. It is clear that it would only be a matter of time before the Nazis are taken down in Europe but for the moment the locals are caught between both groups. The resistance present in various countries around mainland Europe is depicted as rather irresponsible because their actions are not well thought out in terms of the impacts on the lives of ordinary people. Hence there is a clear line between Nazi supporters and opposition but the local populace is caught in the middle with nowhere to go. Moreover as the grip of the Nazis is loosening, they spare no effort to subjugate and brutalize the population in order to retain a dominating influence. Within these circumstances, the murder of the local police chief, Fake Ploeg (who is a strong Nazi collaborator) by members of the Dutch resistance trigger the deaths of Anton’s family. (Mars Hill Audio) The same dilemma talked about earlier is brought into play by the author and the rest of the story is built upon these foundations. The major characters of the novel are the protagonist Anton, his brother Peter and his parents the Steenwijk’s, the Beumers who are family friends, the Aarts’ who live close by and are hiding a Jewish family, Fake Ploeg the police chief who is murdered, Fake Ploeg Jr. the son of Fake Ploeg, the assassin of Fake Ploeg and Mr. Korteweg and his daughter Karin who tries to save his lizards by dumping the body of Fake Ploeg in front of the Steenwijk household. A discussion of the characters is presented below in order to appreciate the agency and responsibility of the characters and their overall contribution to the story. 3. Characters 3.1. The Protagonist – Anton “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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