Significant Connections

An illusion is needed to disguise the emptiness within.

I have chosen to traverse into the theme of illusion. Our perspectives and perceptions affect so much of our individual realities. Instead of being proud of being themselves, people wish to be someone else. It is human nature to let our past patterns, failures, and tendencies sabotage our future. This is why someone else’s life often seems easier than our own, however, this may only be an illusion they portray as their exterior image because their sense of reality is as distorted as own. I selected a short story “The Landlady” written by Roald Dahl, a fiction novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald “The Great Gatsby”, a movie directed by Andy Fickman called “She’s the Man”, and another fiction novel called “I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You” written by Ally Carter, for all of them have one common theme and it’s to disguise who they truly are.

The first text used is a short story, The Landlady, written by Roald Dahl. The Landlady is about a young boy- Billy Weaver- who is  traveling to his hotel for business and along the way, he catches sight of a bed and breakfast and is strangely charmed by the sign and the cozy setting around it. He decides to stay the night for it was raining. An old woman greeted him in her fifties with a welcoming smile. “She seemed terribly nice,” Billy thought “She looked exactly like the mother of one’s best school welcoming one into the house to stay for the Christmas holidays.” She perfects the appearance of a nice old innocence lady welcoming young men into her house. As the Landlady explain the prices Billy notices that the lady is slightly off, but pays no attention to it for the lady is ‘extremely’ nice and the price is super cheap. After Billy has settled down, the landlady kindly asked him to sign the guest book before giving him tea, which tasted like bitter almonds (cyanide). Later in the story, as they were talking on the couch the Landlady asked Billy how old he was. When Billy replied “seventeen,” her response was “‘Seventeen… oh, it’s the perfect age!” applying that that is the age she targets-or around that age.Their conversation somehow turned about Mr. Mulholland for his age ‘was’ also seventeen when he stayed with her and Mr. Temple perfect skin, “.. just like a baby’s,” as the landlady described it. After an awkward silence, Billy mentions her stuff animals that seem extraordinarily real and he finds out that she stuffs all her ‘pets’ after they pass away.  The story ended with Billy asking about other guests in the last two years and the landlady giving him a gentle little smile and said “No, my dear… Only you.” Even though the story ended like this, we know for sure that the landlady killed billy, with the tea that tastes like bitter almonds, and stuffed him like her other dead pets- the parrot, the dog, Mr. Mulholland and Mr. Temple. They’re probably much more victims than who wasn’t mentioned in the story because the landlady disguises herself so well that anyone would have fallen for it. The landlady believed in the illusion she’s created for herself and everything else around her is a blur. She made a little world with just her and her victims that made her in control and happy.

The second text used is The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s a novel about a man-Jay Gatsby- who completely changed his whole identity and became rich to be with a wealthy girl-Daisy Buchanan- who was already married and has a daughter with Tom Buchanan. “I raised him up out of nothing, right out of the gutter,” said Meyer Wolfsheim to Nick Carraway, “I saw right away he was a fine-appearing, gentlemanly young man.” James Gatz, also known as Jay Gatsby, wasn’t always rich, he was poor and grew up on a farm. Gatsby worked for Meyer Wolfsheim doing illegal criminal things. He did this because he wanted Daisy back and for him to get her back was to become wealthy. When Meyer first saw Gatsby, he was poor and had nowhere else to go. Meyer took Gatsby under his wing and made him a wealthy man. At the middle of the novel, he says that “I am the son of some wealthy people in the Middle West..” explaining that he was born with all the money given to him and that he didn’t have to work for it, he then says “…all dead now. I was brought up in America but educated at Oxford, because all my ancestors have been educated there for many years. It is a family tradition.” Him saying ‘all dead now’ means there’s no one to say that he was lying or he’s not part of that family. His ‘ancestors’ didn’t really go to Oxford, for his ancestors weren’t the people he was talking about when saying this. Gatsby lied about his identity and background and put up this illusion of Jay Gatsby to fool everyone, including Daisy, that he’s always been wealthy, and that’s enough for Daisy to come running back to him. Just as Gatsby was getting the girl, his past unravels and the image he’s put up as Jay Gatsby slowly crumbles. All the lies, all the hard work he did to get Daisy was all for nothing. He thought, by making a new identity and by making this illusion of Jay Gatsby, he’ll get Daisy. The life Gatsby was living-the parties, the mansion; all the action was just an illusion, a dream, which was hiding all the truth and reality right in front of him. The landlady disguises herself as an innocence old lady, being nice to young men and offering them cheap prices for a room. Gatsby changed his manner, personality, and name. They both have a different story, but their characters link for they both changed to get what they wanted. The landlady wanted to kill young men for whatever reasons and Gatsby want Daisy all to himself. The whole illusion is that desires can make people do crazy things.  “There is no fire like passion. There are no chains like hate. An illusion is a net. Desire is a rushing river.” – Gautama Buddha   

The third text used is She’s the Man, directed by Andy Fickman. Viola Johnson is a teenager who plays for Cornwall High School soccer team until it gets cut. Meanwhile, her twin brother, Sebastian, is supposed to enroll in Illyria, an elite boarding school, but he secretly goes to London with his fledgling band instead. Viola agrees to cover for him and decides to pass herself off as Sebastian, in hopes of joining their boys’ team and beating Cornwall to prove their coach and her cocky ex-boyfriend, Justin wrong. With the help of her stylist, she transforms into Sebastian. She acts, looks, and talk like him. While moving in, ‘Sebastian’ meets his roommate Duke who is the captain of the Illyria soccer team. During tryouts, she failed to try to impress the coach and is assigned in the second string. She then tries to get close with Duke and his friends, who are also in the soccer, but none of them likes him due to his awkwardness and strange behaviors. Her stylist Paul helps her get better at being a guy, and they slowly accept him into their social circle. Later in the movie, ‘Sebastian’ gets put with Olivia as her lab partner, but Duke likes Olivia. When Duke asks ‘Sebastian’ for help she says, “I’m here for you bro. Got a lifetime of knowledge,” but in return, Duke has to help her be a better soccer player. The illusion of her pretending to be her brother is hiding the fact that she’s actually a girl. ‘Sebastian’ saying “I’m here for you bro,” makes it seem like she’s one of the guys and ‘got a lifetime of knowledge’ directs that she obviously knows everything about girls for she’s one of them. Duke once said near the end of the movie, “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” This made Viola think maybe she doesn’t need to be someone else to be great. Maybe she just needs to be a better her to achieve her goal for she has ‘greatness thrust upon’ her. She pretended to be this other person just to prove her coach and ex-boyfriend wrong but she didn’t need to someone else to do that. Her disguise eventually got revealed and she almost lost the one thing that she ended up caring for Duke. The illusion of her pretending to be someone else to prove something relates to the illusion of ‘Gatsby’, for he created a whole new identity to get the girl he loved back. They both tried to be somebody else ‘cause they think it’s easier to be somebody else and have their life than to live their own. The truth eventually unraveled and both of their disguises got revealed; Gatsby’s past caught up to him and Viola’s brother Sebastian came home early.

The last text used is I’d tell you I love you, but then I’d have to kill you, written by Ally Carter. Cameron Morgan is a teenager who is fluent in 14 languages, can do advanced martial arts, break into CIA codes and is capable of killing a man with a few pieces of uncooked spaghetti. What she doesn’t know is what to do when she falls for a regular boy that can’t know anything about the real her. Cameron isn’t an ordinary teenage girl, she doesn’t go to a normal school like normal girls do. She goes to a spy school call Gallagher Academy, located in Roseville, Virginia. It’s where Cameron and her classmates get taught and trained to be future spies. It’s the start of their sophomore year and it’s their first exposure to the real actual fieldwork. When Professor Buckingham broke her hip, a new younger professor called Joe Solomon. He’s the new teacher for Covert Operations(CoveOp)  and he’s stricter than the last. Later in the book the CoveOp class got assess to do their first real mission at a town carnival and that’s where Cameron meets Josh. Cameron is known as Cammie the Chameleon because nobody can see her when she doesn’t want to be seen, but when she less wanted to be noticed Josh saw her. When they got back from their mission, she and her friends decide to investigate him which leads to Cammie’s entrance into the world outside of Gallagher Academy. She hides the fact that she’s a future spy and goes to Gallagher Academy for the locals dislike the Gallagher Girls. She then sneaks out of school, with the help of her friends, to pursue a relationship with Josh claiming she’s homeschooled and lying about who she truly is. She was almost caught by her mother, the Headmistress, and Mr. Solomon when they join the festivities. When the Gallagher Girls went to town one of Cameron’s friends, Liz got harass by Josh’s friends and all Cameron did was hide for the fear of blowing her cover. Liz was furious at Cameron for choosing Josh instead of protecting her friend. Dillion, Josh’s friend, sees Cameron walking with some of the Gallagher girls and confronts her about it. This then leads to Cameron and Josh breaking up for Gallagher Academy has rules and she couldn’t lie to him anymore. She didn’t give him a reason for leaving but it enough to push him away. “Maybe it’s only fitting that relationship that started with a lie would end with one,” said Cameron to one of her best friend. This shows that she couldn’t lie anymore but she also couldn’t tell him the truth. She lied about who she truly is at the start of their relationship and she still lied at the end of it.“Spies are wise. Spies are strong. But, most of all, spies are patient,” was what Mr. Solomon said to her after her CoveOp finals and after Josh finds out everything about Gallagher Academy. He’s saying that spies are smart and they can handle anything that gets in their way, even if it’s a little bump like falling for a normal boy. ‘..spies are patient,’ indicates that she probably won’t meet the one till she’s older but she has the rest of her life to live. This novel shows the illusion of her hiding the real her to ‘normal’ people, even her loved ones, for she has to survive. This connects to She’s the Man for Viola also had to lie to her loved ones to keep her secret safe. They both wanted to tell them but it would have turned out bad for both stories. Spies hide because they have to and most time it’s to protect the people around them and/or themselves. Viola had to disguise herself to get into the boys’ soccer team and the only way was to be a boy. 

Everyone always says, “do not judge a book by its cover,” yet most people see from afar and judge straight away instead of trying to know them.  Sometimes the way we think about others isn’t always the way they actually are. Everyone in this world has at least experienced or thought about being someone else. People change for two reasons: either their minds have been opened or their hearts have been broken. People create illusions of other people to hide from reality or their past but it is only a matter of time before that illusion, that they have created, comes tumbling down showing the real them. 

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