Analysis Essay on Beloved Novel


Love is one of the most complex human emotions. Although one may love pizza, this love is utterly different from the love one feels towards their partner, and that different from the love one feels for a parent. The dictionary has several different definitions of love: ranging from “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person,” to “sexual passion or desire,” to “a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection” (“Love”). Everyone experiences love in one way or another. Beloved, by Toni Morrison, demonstrates each of these types of love and shows how it can affect a person. Love is relatable, love is timeless; therefore Beloved is too. The story will forever remain modern and will continue to resonate with readers until the end of time. 

Within Beloved, the idea of love is defined and redefined over and over. The most pertinent show of different types of love in the novel is each character’s attitude towards Beloved. The character Sethe feels the kind of love that can drive one to harm themselves or someone else. Sethe “behed[s] her daughter Beloved with a handsaw rather and allow her to return to slavery” (Why is Beloved beloved, Metcalf). She wants to shield her from pain and sorrow; she does not want to see something she loves dearly stolen and tainted. In the case of Sethe, love is what holds her together but also what tears her apart. Her love for her children was what pushed her to escape from Sweet Home, but it was also her love for her children that led her to feel deep guilt after her daughter’s death. Her lovemaking with Paul D expelled the ghost from her house, yet her love for Beloved eventually caused Beloved to take over and push Paul D out of the home. As Paul D states, Sethe’s “love is too thick” (Morrison 175). Her love surrounds her, embraces her, supports her, but it also traps and restrains her. Love, although typically associated with positivity and happiness, can also be dark as seen with Sethe. 

Denver, on the other hand, has a slightly more positive experience with love and Beloved. At the start of the book, Denver is alone: her grandmother is dead, her father absent, and her siblings gone. When Beloved enters the scene, Denver has someone to fall back on again. This sudden change in lifestyle causes Denver to dive into the deep end, stating: “it's all on me, now, but [Beloved] can count on me … I have to protect her" (Morrison 206). Since she only has one person to love, she devotes all her time and energy to her. Coincidentally, this devotion causes Denver to become motivated and to work. She develops an internal need to provide for Beloved and even her mother, who is falling apart, so she gets a job and starts running the household. “Late in the novel we discover that the painfully withdrawn Denver… is clever” (Why is Beloved beloved, Metcalf). As Beloved’s hold on the family strengthens, the layers to Denver’s psyche peeled back more and more until the reader can ultimately understand who she is and see her genuine personality. For Denver, her love caused her to become more mature- it helped her grow,  come into her own, and to embrace her true nature.

Paul D has the most confusing show of love. Paul D is a closed-off character, stowing away his past and his emotions “in that tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be. Its lid rusted shut” (Morrison 81). This tobacco tin, his heart, did not begin to open up until he has sex with Beloved. Paul D did not explicitly want to sleep with Beloved, but he fell out of control over his body and did so anyway; this symbolizes how love drives people to do things they did not know they wanted to do- it can draw out the most strange parts of people and lead to confusion. However, it also symbolizes how it can open people up and teach them how to feel again. Although he had some form of feelings for Sethe, it was not until he experienced love that he could face his past. This was an intense and overwhelming experience for Paul D, but it was what allowed him to move back into the house with Sethe. Of course, Paul D would not have moved out of this house in the first place if it was not for Beloved- showing that love can just as easily separate people as it can bring them together. 

Beloved draws many complicated and confusing aspects of the characters out, precisely reflecting the puzzling world of love. This is just one of the many reasons why Beloved is such an enthralling book: it portrays such universal themes- yet, while reading it, one does not necessarily notice. Beloved captivates its audiences because it feels so familiar even though they may not have ever experienced anything near to Sethe or Denver. This accuracy to human emotions keeps the book modern no matter the generation is it read in. Love will forever captivate humankind and so long as that is true, Beloved too will remain hypnotizing.

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