— Jose Marin
I am usually never the one to be in an uncomfortable situation. However, it still happens to me every now and then. During the duration of the English 2850 course, I have come across texts that have impressed me, opened my mind, or a combination of the two. A lot of these readings presented stories that I never thought I’d be reading. Some even capture the essence of reality for how it truly is. “Juliette” by Sade was one of those readings that took me by surprise with the nature it was written in. Usually when I am assigned a reading, the stories being told reflect some aspect of reality. These aspects of reality kept or reflected the norms of everyday life and experiences. When I came across Juliette from Sade, I guess I had a feeling of being uncomfortable because it was something I never thought I’d read. I grew up hearing the saying “you got to be comfortable with being uncomfortable” or “think outside the box”. Both sayings have a similar definition – to try/think of something you probably never considered before. Prior to Sade, I only read common thematical stories. I am a huge fan of dark humor. Not a lot of people enjoy dark humor because it can be offensive. I can understand why dark humor is not always preferred by all, but the reason I enjoy it so much is because it takes things that are real and allows the audience to laugh at the dark reality we live in. Sometimes the only thing we can do while living in a dark world is smile. Through my eyes, we do live in a pretty messed up world. Human beings have committed genocide, rape, slavery, and the list goes on. It’s only proper that we speak about these truths in literature as well.
While I am used to the nature of dark comedy, Juliette from Sade took my off guard with the explicit details of all the atrocities committed. A dark reality can be something to joke about to keep the joy alive, but when you start getting into the detail of it all then that’s when it becomes too real. I do enjoy the main character, Juliette, and how she chooses to express her happiness and doesn’t allow anyone to steal this freedom from her. The moment I start to get uncomfortable is when her happiness knows no limits. Her sexual conquests are normal, but she seems to then have an effect with everyone and every place she comes in contact with. She allows young girls to be raped, takes enjoyment from the suffering of others, and takes pride in the murders she commits. At first it did make me uncomfortable since I placed myself in the shoes of those she took advantage of. She ruined and ended the lives of so many. While it did initially make me uncomfortable, I also like to question things after. I questioned, was it all wrong? If all of these actions brought happiness to her, should we place more control over her happiness to make sure it doesn’t go too far? Is that then real happiness or is just a simulated happiness? It reaches a fine line of ethics in objective and subjective law. Sade from Juliette has this effect of questioning all we’ve done up to this point. Is the law preventing me from reaching my absolute happiness? – I questioned myself. Stories like this really make me question society. I felt uncomfortable because the society I grew up in, I was taught that actions like this were not normal. Dark comedy does at times poke fun at death and all that, but I would never actually do it. I find it wrong, but only because my society deemed it wrong. It makes one think, is everything we know about right and wrong truly definite? If not, then are we really living?