Both novels give insight into how the characters describe their experience while on drugs and the evidence demonstrates that Requiem for a Dream offers a warped, illusional depiction of addiction, whereas Trainspotting is objective and honest. The character’s choice to live in an delusional fantasy rather than face reality in Requiem for a Dream is evident of their powerlessness and lack of will. The belief that they can obtain the American Dream while on heroin is irrational. Trainspotting, on the other hand, offers an honest and uncensored depiction of the horrors of heroin-use through narrative perspective.
This is demonstrative of the character’s power over their addiction. However, a narrative perspective may not be as accurate as a character’s insight into their own person experience with addiction. Each character’s own depiction of their addiction paired with the narrative perspective will bring to conclusion which novel is a more accurate portrayal. First Comparison: Requiem for a Dream Sara Goldfarb, a television addict, relays her internal monologue as she sits watching an infomercial.
Unlike the rest of the characters, she has a behavioral addiction which is a a form of addiction that involves a compulsion to repeatedly perform a rewarding non-drug-related behavior: “She gradually became aware of how dumb the damn show was she was watching and she stared at it, wondering how in the hell they could put anything so absurdly infantile and intellectually and esthetically insulting on television… and she continued to stare and shake her head, more and more of her mind being absorbed by the absurdity she was watching, suddenly leaning back on the couch as a section of the show nded and a commercial came blaringly on and she stared at them too watching what sort of cretins watch the garbage and are influenced by it. ”
Selby demonstrates how Sara Goldfarb is unconscious of her experience and her overwhelming obsession with television. Her experience is told through complex, run-on sentences that serve to mimic Goldfarb’s thought process. The entire scene is very rushed which is a side affect of her amphetamine use. While high on the stimulant, Goldfarb is so hyper that she feels a need to relay every thought that runs through her head, as evident by the syntax.
She describes the infomercial to be “absurdly infantile and intellectually and esthetically insulting;” however, Selby emphasizes through repetition how “she stared at it,” then “continued to stare and shake her head” while being “absorbed by the absurdity. ” The use of alliteration puts emphasis on “infantile, intellectually and insulting” to bring attention to the fact that Goldfarb is in essence describing herself. The narrator’s use of personification to describe how “more and more of [Sara’s] mind was absorbed by the absurdity she was watching” offers insight into the severity of Goldfarb’s addiction.
Her metaphor comparing television to garbage and her reference to viewers as “cretins,” meaning a stupid person, demonstrates her disgust with the informercial’s ability to manipulate. She is conscious of its lunacy, but unconscious of the powerful effect it has on her. In contrast, Trainspotting, offers an honest, straightforward commentary about how the character’s perceive their experiences of addiction. Goldfarb notices the absurdity of her addiction to television, but is in denial about its effect on her.
In a quote by Mark Renton, he discusses the truth about why he and his friends do drugs: People think it’s all about misery and desperation and death and all that shite, which is not to be ignored, but what they forget is the pleasure of it. Otherwise we wouldn’t do it. After all, we’re not fucking stupid. At least, we’re not that fucking stupid. ” Renton gives a very unexpected reason for why people do drugs: the pleasure. By definition, denial is a refusal to admit the truth or reality and in psychology refers to a type of defense mechanism where people subconsciously reject aspects of life that they are uncomfortable with.
Denial is used in order to protect an addict’s ego, which, without denial, could bring them a great deal of suffering or even depression. However, Renton is being both vulnerable and honest as he states that addiction is a balance of the good and the bad. He discusses the common misconceptions about why people succumb to drug use: “misery and desperation and death. ” All of these words have a very negative and hopeless connotation. Yet, he states that the negative also comes with a positive that makes the suffering worth it.
He states that addicts “are not that fucking stupid” meaning that most drug users acknowledge the pleasure, but fail to accept the fact that they are selfishly using only for the pleasure of it. Addicts convince people they do it for the “misery and desperation and death” because it is safer and easier than admitting and accepting. Renton’s ability to be vulnerable to his audience about his addiction to pleasure proves that he has some element of power over his addiction. Goldfarb, on the other hand, is conscious of her addiction’s stupidity, yet does not realize that she is succumbing to its overpowering control.