External Essay Example
External Essay Example

External Essay Example

Available Only on StudyHippo
View Entire Sample
Text preview

Mitch Albom employs symbolism in his mid-1990 novel "Tuesdays with Morrie" to communicate the idea of embracing life. Published in 1997, this essay examines how Albom utilizes symbolism to portray the significance of living life fully. The theme is consistently emphasized through Morrie's character throughout the book.

Throughout this essay, various quotes have been used to help answer the question at hand. The novel utilizes several symbols such as the pink hibiscus plant, Morrie's Bed, and the Waves on the ocean. These symbols serve as the thesis of the essay and help to convey Mitch Albom's message of simply living life. Albom employs different symbols to convey his message effectively. For instance, the pink hibiscus plant symbolizes the life of Morrie, where the plant's vitality mirrors Morrie's own strength. As Morrie becomes weaker, the plant also fades. Nevertheless,


Morrie never loses sight of his true identity and continues to stay true to himself.

The waves on the ocean serve as a reminder to never give up, for believing in something can make it a reality. Embracing life to its fullest is highly encouraged. In the novel, Morrie's bed represents a significant symbol; he holds the belief that lying in bed signifies death, foreshadowing what is to come.

Throughout the entire story, the protagonist resists going to bed. However, as he grows weaker, he eventually succumbs and takes his final breath there. This serves as the introduction to the story. Authors utilize symbolism to prompt readers to contemplate their themes. Symbolism provides characters or events with a hidden significance beyond their surface meaning, preventing the books from becoming monotonous. Instead, it captivates readers by both entertaining and challenging their

View entire sample
Join StudyHippo to see entire essay

minds to engage with the novel, ultimately enhancing its interest and depth.

Symbolism serves another purpose of presenting ideas that the author is hesitant to express overtly. Expressing something directly and plainly is distinct from describing the intended meaning, as it enhances the storyline and encourages readers to immerse themselves in the novel. Symbolism can take the form of an object, a character, an action, or a situation that conveys a profound message instead of outright stating it. The author might employ various elements, draw comparisons between characters or objects, or consistently depict specific circumstances or objects to communicate pivotal plots, predominant moods, or particular mindsets.

Symbolism can be refined or deliberate. It can be used to some extent or significantly throughout the text. Authors utilize symbolism to convey messages and feelings to their stories without explicitly stating them. This is often intriguing for story writers as it allows them to express themselves concisely. Symbols are utilized throughout the entire story to effectively communicate Mitch's point and engage the reader. Symbols play a significant role in "Tuesday's with Morrie," creating a sense of suspense for the readers.

This text discusses the process of understanding life and encourages readers to contemplate their own lives by reading Mitch's book. Normally, death is seen as a sad phase in someone's existence. If a doctor told you that there was no hope for survival and you only had around two years left, it would be a tough time for both you and your loved ones. The last two years of your life would be challenging, with each day filled with sadness and difficulty. "Tuesdays with Morrie" tells the story of the final

lesson shared between Morrie Schwartz, a sociology professor at Brandeis University, and one of his former students, Mitch Albom, who is also the author of the book.

Mitch was reminded of a promise he made to his professor, Morrie, when he saw him on the television program "Nightline." Sixteen years ago, Morrie was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This disease leads to the loss of voluntary muscle movement. While ALS symptoms typically occur after the age of 50, they can also appear in younger individuals. People with ALS experience a progressive decline in muscle strength and coordination, making everyday tasks such as climbing stairs, getting out of a chair, swallowing, or attending to personal hygiene increasingly difficult for them.

At first, the disease mainly affects breathing and swallowing muscles. However, as it progresses, other muscle groups may also experience difficulties. It is important to mention that the disease typically does not affect the senses (vision, smell, taste, hearing, touch) and only occasionally affects bladder or bowel function, eye movement, or cognitive abilities. As he becomes aware of how quickly the disease is advancing, he feels a strong desire to share his personal thoughts on "The Meaning of Life" with humanity before his time on earth ends.

Mitch is aware that his time on earth is limited and decides to visit Morrie in Massachusetts after watching a show. He becomes so moved by their encounter that he wants to visit Morrie every week, specifically on Tuesdays.

Every Tuesday, without fail, Mitch visited his old professor, Morrie, until Morrie passed away. Each week, they engaged in conversations

about various aspects of life. These conversations revolved around topics such as death, love, culture, regret, and the world we inhabit. This book aims to convey Mitch Albom's message of embracing life's experiences.

The book evokes a range of emotions in the reader, from happiness to sadness. The suspense surrounding Morrie's eventual passing adds to the engagement of the plot. The reader can relate to themes of aging, compassion, and the importance of mentors in life, as depicted by Mitch Albom throughout the novel. Albom utilizes symbols such as the pink hibiscus plant, the ocean waves, and Morrie's bed to convey the theme of embracing life. The pink hibiscus plant serves as a symbol, mirroring Morrie's deteriorating condition as his disease weakens his body. It represents the decay occurring within Morrie's body.

The pink hibiscus plant's petals started to dry and wrinkle, eventually falling off and leaving the plant with an old and plain appearance. At the same time, Morrie's disease progresses, spreading to various parts of his body. This forces him to become increasingly reliant on his medical assistants and oxygen tubes. Morrie can no longer live independently and requires assistance with every aspect of his life. As Morrie nears his death, the pink hibiscus plant reflects his impending demise.

The plant is dying rapidly, mirroring Morrie's deteriorating body. Throughout the text, the plant is frequently referenced to symbolize life and its eventual demise. Like the plant, humans, especially Morrie, undergo a natural life cycle that ultimately concludes with death. Morrie must come to terms with this expected fate, as must Mitch. Morrie states, "Consider my condition. The aspects I might find embarrassing - my inability to

walk, to handle basic hygiene tasks, and occasional morning despair - are not inherently shameful."

It's the same for women who are not thin enough or men who are not rich enough; it's just what our culture wants you to think. Don't believe it," Morrie advises Mitch during one of their regular Tuesday visits.

During this visit, Morrie discusses his views on society. He has come to terms with his physical limitations and impending death. He criticizes society for considering basic physical needs as something to be ashamed of and refuses to believe that being handicapped is disgraceful. By rejecting societal values, Morrie creates a new community that accepts and supports individuals with physical disabilities, something that is considered embarrassing by others. In Morrie's perspective, popular culture acts as a dictator that causes suffering for the human community.

Morrie believes he has already endured enough suffering from his illness and questions the importance of seeking social acceptance if it does not bring him happiness. Throughout the book, society is depicted as a massive mechanism that strips away the inherent kindness individuals are born with and replaces it with ruthless greed and self-centeredness. Another symbol employed in "Tuesdays with Morrie" is the waves on the ocean. I think Mitch Albom selects this story for Morrie to recall as a means of linking the waves to the essence of life.

Morrie became aware of a small wave. However, witnessing the waves in front of him collide on the shore and disappear intensified the significance of the little wave. Suddenly, he was overwhelmed with fear as he realized that he, too, would soon meet his demise, just as the wave feared. Two

waves emerged, seemingly contradictory. One wave exuded confidence and stood by Morrie's side, giving him the strength to proclaim, "You will not crash or vanish into nothingness," but instead be reunited with the vast ocean as a small fraction. This tale brought Morrie solace.

This small wave represents Morrie, who is also nearing the end of his life as symbolized by crashing into a metaphorical shore. Similar to the wave, Morrie finds solace in the understanding that he will soon merge with something greater in the afterlife. Morrie's connection to the parable illustrates his belief in a type of rebirth, which he sees as an integral part of the natural cycle of life. "You see... You close your eyes." This marks the distinction.

Occasionally, you cannot trust your eyes but must trust your gut. To earn others' trust, you must also have faith in them, even in difficult times or uncertain situations. These words were spoken to his class during a flashback on one of the Tuesdays. The class was instructed to perform a trust fall exercise, where one student would fall into the arms of another, testing the trust between them.

"One student will fall straight backward and must trust another student to catch them. Trust is not easily given, but when one pair finally completes the exercise without nervousness, it serves as a metaphor for the secret to trusting in relationships. Sometimes, one must close their eyes and be blind to a situation in order to trust, relying solely on emotions to guide their decision-making. The exercise illustrates the importance of trust and taking risks in a relationship, as both partners must be willing to let

the other hold their hearts. Trust requires taking a leap of faith; it cannot be reasoned or rationalized. Morrie imparts this lesson to his students, teaching them that trust is blind and can only be judged through instinctive feelings."

Trusting someone requires one to close their eyes and have faith that the person will catch them. In the story, Morrie's bed is a symbol. Morrie often uses the cliche "When you're in bed, you're dead." Interestingly, this saying becomes true towards the end. Throughout his battle with ALS, Morrie resists being in his bed because he sees it as a symbol of surrender.

Despite feeling defeated by his illness, Morrie chooses to sleep in his study chair instead of spending more time in bed. He is determined to make the most of his remaining days by not giving up the simple joy he gets from being in his study. Morrie refuses to let his disease conquer him and is surrounded by memories in the form of pictures and books of friends and loved ones. From his study, he can catch a glimpse of the outside world and find happiness in the beauty of nature.

During Morrie's final days, he lay in bed accepting his impending death and mentally preparing himself. The portrayal of the media in Tuesdays with Morrie is consistently negative; it is shown as inherently malevolent, depleting Mitch of his passion and ambition and perpetuating stories of murder and hate that have corroded societal goodness. Despite reluctantly agreeing to participate in a television show and share his story in the newspaper, these actions only further drain Morrie's limited energy. It seems that he

wants to demonstrate to others that, even on the brink of death, he remains alive and committed to simply experiencing life.

Mitch, who is currently unemployed because of a strike at the Detroit newspaper where he works as a writer, regularly observes the tragic incidents that are reported by the media he has been involved in for a while. These incidents include homicides, torture, theft, and numerous other alarming crimes that highlight the contrast between the wickedness of popular culture and the positive environment that Morrie has built for himself.
The O.J. Simpson case in particular is often discussed in relation to these events.

The Simpson murder trial is repeatedly mentioned in the book to support Mitch's argument that the general population has become dependent on and somewhat addicted to media coverage of meaningless stories. These stories have no contribution to personal growth or human goodness. They serve as motifs in the novel to explore the surrounding evil of Morrie. This demonstrates Morrie's mental strength, despite his physical weakness. He disregards the ignorance around him and solely focuses on living life. As he says, "The truth is once you learn how to die, you learn how to live."

"Morrie responds to Mitch's question about how one can prepare for death by suggesting that every day, a person should ask the angel on their shoulder if today will be their last day, last breaths, and last words. This concept symbolizes Morrie's awareness that his death could occur at any moment. The angel is a representation of Morrie's understanding that his death is approaching rapidly and he must be ready to accept it when it ultimately arrives. Morrie

hopes that Mitch will recognize that this angel is present for every person throughout their lives, regardless of age."

When Morrie tells Mitch that in order to truly appreciate life, one must first come to terms with death, he is emphasizing the importance of accepting our mortality. This means recognizing that everything we have on earth is fleeting, and it urges us to value and appreciate what we have while we have it. Morrie chooses to disconnect himself from the experience of his impending death when he experiences violent coughing fits, each one carrying the potential for his last breath. Despite knowing that his death is imminent, Morrie looks beyond the approaching date and focuses on the decline of his physical body, as evident in his famous quote "I will eventually have to whip my ass." This detachment stems from the Buddhist philosophy that advises against attaching oneself to temporary things, as everything in existence is impermanent.

In detaching, Morrie can transition from his physical surroundings to a state of consciousness. This shift is done to gain a different perspective and bring calmness in a stressful situation. Morrie doesn't aim to cease feeling or experiencing during this detachment. Instead, he aims to fully experience life so that he can let go of the fear and tension caused by a life-threatening situation. He tries to overlook his diagnosis of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and continue living. After receiving the news, he makes minimal changes to his life. He doesn't want to face death with negative emotions, so he detaches himself in order to accept the temporary nature of life and embrace the possibility of his imminent death.

"As you

age, you acquire more knowledge. If you remained as uninformed as you were at twenty-two, you would always remain at that level. Aging entails more than just deterioration; it involves personal development. It goes beyond the negative realization of mortality, but also encompasses the positive aspect of living a more enriched life as a result of this understanding."

Morrie's lessons convey a comprehensive message of rejecting society's values and cultivating one's own, particularly for Mitch. According to Morrie, society functions as a dictator, imposing suffering on the human community. In contrast, Morrie constructs his own culture based on love, acceptance, and open communication, as a means to escape the grip of this societal dictatorship. He rebels against the media-driven greed, violence, and superficiality that have tainted the values endorsed by popular culture. Morrie urges Mitch to liberate himself from this corrupt and authoritarian culture and embrace his own. Only then does Mitch embark on a journey of introspection, reevaluating his life and finding fulfillment.

Morrie shares a quote by W. H. Auden, a poet he admires, with Mitch. The quote emphasizes the importance of loving relationships in life. Morrie believes that love brings a sense of fulfillment that cannot be replaced. Throughout their fourteen Tuesday meetings, Morrie consistently teaches Mitch that love is fundamental to every person and every relationship. Living without love is equivalent to living with nothing, as Auden suggests. As Morrie approaches the end of his life, he deeply appreciates the love and care he receives from his loved ones, knowing that without them he would not survive.

Morrie's one wish before he dies is to share his story with Mitch so that the

world can hear it. He fights for his life long enough to finish telling Mitch all the stories and lessons so that Mitch can share them with the world. Once he has completed his dying wish, he surrenders and faces death, leaving Mitch to spread the message that "love brings meaning to experience, and that without it, one may as well be dead."

In conclusion, "Tuesday's with Morrie" uses symbolism to convey the message of simply living life. Despite Morrie's diagnosis of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, he continues to pursue his passions. He teaches his students until he is weak and doesn't give up on life, even though he knows that death is imminent.

Throughout the novel, various symbols were used to emphasize the theme of embracing life. The plant represented Morrie and as his health declined, the fragility of the plant reflected his condition. Additionally, the waves in the ocean served as a significant metaphor linking both Morrie and Mitch. Ultimately, Mitch realizes that he, too, will eventually become a wave.

He will eventually crash and vanish into nothing. Meaning his time to die off just like every one of us is approaching and just like that, he will be gone. This symbol is significant to me because it illustrates that everyone’s time will come, some sooner than others. Regardless of your condition, health, or actions, when it’s your time, there's no changing that. Mitch starts to comprehend this concept towards the end as the waves of the ocean bring the memory to an end.

The most significant symbol employed in both the Novel and the essay is Morrie's bed. It is intriguing how the author utilizes foreshadowing in

the novel, providing readers with a hint of where Morrie would eventually meet his end. Morrie perceived his bed as the embodiment of surrender, believing that once one lies in it, they are spiritually deceased. Morrie adamantly resisted resting on his bed as he did not wish to feel vanquished. In summary, upon thorough analysis of this literary work, it can be concluded that Morrie is not a quitter.

In the end, everyone saw it coming, but he doesn't go down without a fight. It has been proven that Mitch Albom uses symbols in "Tuesdays with Morrie" to convey his message about simply living life. The symbols include The Bed, The Ocean, and the plant.

Works Cited

  1. Albom, Mitch.
  2. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson.
  3. New York: Doubleday, 1997. Print. Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie.
  4. Grand Haven, MI: Brilliance, 1997. Print. Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie. Rockland, MA: Wheeler Pub., 1998. Print.

Board, A. D. A. M.

< p >Editorial. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. " Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. U. S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Nov.< /p >

2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2012.

  • Albom, Mitch.
  • The text "Tuesdays with Morrie." is from a website called Tuesdays with Morrie. It can be found on the web.The source of the information is the Wikimedia Foundation's page on "Tuesdays with Morrie" on December 11, 2012.

    Web. 19 Dec. 2012. "Tuesdays With Morrie

  • Mitchalbom. com. "Tuesdays With Morrie
  • Mitchalbom.
  • com. N. p., n.

    d. Web. 19 Dec. 2012. Board, A. D.

    A. M. Editorial. "Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis."

    Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web.

    On December 11, 2012, A. D.

    A. M. Board published a statement.

    Editorial. "Tuesdays With Morrie." Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. U. S.

    National Library of Medicine, n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.

  • Board, A.
  • D.A.M. Editorial.

    "Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis." Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Nov.

    2012. Web. 18 Dec. 2012.

  • . Board, A.
  • D. A. M. Editorial.

    Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. U. S.

    The information is sourced from the National Library of Medicine website and was accessed on December 11th.

    2012. Albom, Mitch. "Tuesdays With Morrie." Tuesdays With Morrie. N.

    p. , n. d. Web.

    11 Dec. 2012.

    • Albom, Mitch. Tuesdays with Morrie.
    • Rockland, MA: Wheeler Pub., 1998.
    Get an explanation on any task
    Get unstuck with the help of our AI assistant in seconds