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Written by Siciu Magdalena
Metaphor for ties
Karl moves to America after being told that the woman he was having a relationship with remained pregnant. Scared, Karl runs away, hoping that in that way he will not have to face the consequences. Karl escapes from a deeply traditional society and he decides to do this when he hears about the servant’s pregnancy. If he were to remain there, the child would have only tied him even tighter to the society which he escaped. Because of this, we can assume that the child is used here as a metaphor for the ties a person may feel he or she has in connection with a group of people or society.
Metaphor for freedom
In the beginning, Karl describes the continent from which he escaped, Europe. The continent is described as being old-fashioned, a place where a person will never be able to do what they want because of the traditional values promoted. America on the other hand is the complete opposite and is presented as the land of possibilities. Because of this, America becomes used in this book as a metaphor for freedom.
The hotel where Karl ends up working is an important metaphor here because it transmits the idea that a person can climb the social ladder if he or she wants to. Karl starts to have hope in the future once he finds a stable job in the hotel. Thus, because of this, we can assume that the hotel is used in this context as a metaphor for the American Dream.
The failed American Dream
At one point, Karl meets with a former opera singer who in her youth was extremely appreciated and famous. In time, her beauty faded and so did her fame to the point where she became lazy, fat and no one recognized her. It is important that at one point in her life, she was someone considered as being successful and so the embodiment of the American Dream. As time passed, this changed and so she becomes a metaphor for the countless other people who failed to achieve their dreams or lost the advantages they acquired in time for one reason or another.
Karl moves to America from Europe, the continent where he was born and where he lived all his life. In America, Karl tries to take advantage of the opportunities he never had in Europe, mainly because he was from a lower social class. Just like America is used as a metaphor, Europe is used as one also. In this context, the Old Continent is used as a metaphor for the ideas that are no longer sustainable in the new century.
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I forgot to say that I have one piece of evidence that chimney sweepers in the 19th century also did window cleaning for an extra small fee or to get a tip. This was in London but I'm looking for medieval or ancient sources. Thank you.