Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Musings about Meryl

Your character summaries are due. So in the tradition of, I'd never ask you to do anything I wouldn't do myself, I've strung together some thoughts about Meryl.

Meryl’s visions of violent death, shown via animation, raise many questions about her character. Why is she so preoccupied with death? For Meryl, danger is lurking everywhere. If the animations were the only device used we might have been able to dismiss them as purely evidence of an eccentric character. However, Meryl feels the needs to express these morbid thoughts of people drowning and hungry sharks in her illustrations as a form of “therapy”. Does Meryl feel she is drowning in her fears or her loneliness? What is threatening to eat her alive? Is she scared of dying or is she scared of living?

Meryl is scared of death yet sees her father’s death as the “natural order” of things. She is blasé when she discusses Rob’s death with Nick “Maybe it was meant to be” and is equally dismissive when Linda touches on the enormity of what she has witnessed. Is this the way she copes? By minimising the importance of death? Or is she a pragmatic character who can cope with real events but not with the sea of catastrophes that are occurring in her head?

On one level I feel like Watt thinks Meryl should suck it up, dismiss her fears and get on with the art of living. Yet it is through these fears that she connects with Nick. They realise they have both been seeing death everywhere. It is ironic that she begins a relationship with someone who has been diagnosed with cancer – a word synonymous with death in our culture. Yet together, they are able to move forward. Perhaps more evidence that she can cope with real life situations.

Stylistically, there are more questions we need to consider. How would Watt have conveyed information about Meryl’s fear and anxieties if she hadn’t used animation? Voiceover? More dialogue with minor characters such as Linda? Think of the sex scene. How else could Watt have conveyed to us the extent of Meryl’s fears (AIDS, diseased and vomiting babies etc) which almost overshadowed this intimate moment?

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