The Concept of Illusion in Literature

Illusions are in essence mirages.

They appear to be real but are just the fantasies of our desires. We develop these illusions to rewrite life the way we see it fit. Often in literature, characters develop misconceptions of who they are and the world they live in. In John Cheevers short story The Swimmer, Ned attempts to distort his reality by living in the past and not accepting the changes that come with the present.

He does so by swimming through countless neighbors backyards in a quest to complete some journey. This works use of diction and imagery show a theme of inevitability and its interrelation with time. All throughout, Ned is pictured longing for the past and the youth and vitality that comes with it. Eventually, time catches up to him, just as it does to everyone, and Ned is left in a state of surreal dissatisfaction. Overall Neds illusion helps showcase the evils of nostalgia and longing for things that we are not. Neds illusion can be diagnosed through attention to the stories strong diction. This illusion of time is referenced from the very beginning when the author criticizes Ned as being ‘far from young.’ At the time Ned is trying to act quick and young by ‘sliding down banisters’ and ‘diving headfirst in the pool.

’ The author explains to the audience that this is all done to stay with the past. Throughout the story, Ned even questions himself on various functions of his reality. Ned asks ‘was his memory failing him or had he so disciplined it that the repression of unpleasant facts had damaged his sense of truth.’ He is merging fantasy and reality and having trouble recollecting which one is which. This is only the start of the danger that comes with ignoring life’s path. At the end of the story it all come full circle when Neddy starts crying for the first time since his adolescence.

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He ‘feels cold and confused.’ He ‘thinks that he has just been swimming too long and needs a drink and dry clot…