Making Ruins

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Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature


Michael Opitz, English


By giving my project the theme of ruins, I was attempting to explore the reasoning behind the apparent "trend" in literary fiction towards unhappy endings. The four stories in the collection are linked by images of ruins - both classical and unconventional in nature - that function as metaphors for the characters' lives. Through my writing and reading, I came to the conclusion that tragedy, however mild or dramatic, stirs us in a way that happy endings do not; instead of providing a vicarious thrill, it provokes empathy. Furthermore, it gives momentum to stories, as characters who find themselves in unfortunate situations are rarely content to remain so; and if they cannot extract themselves from their problems, then readers are all the more moved. My hope is that the stories I've written manage to remain outside the boundaries of melodrama while still causing readers to empathize with the characters, whose intangible troubles correspond with the physical ruins in their lives.