"Chained in a cage of the self" : narcissism in David Foster Wallace's Infinite jest

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Piper, Adam
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Lethbridge, Alta. : University of Lethbridge, Dept. of English, c2012
Loneliness, unhappiness, and discord pervade David Foster Wallace’s novel Infinite Jest. Parental neglect and abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, and obsession with entertainment all work to increase characters’ narcissism and self-absorption. This increased narcissism prevents characters from developing meaningful relationships, and this absence of meaningful relationships contributes to the feeling of sadness that plagues the Organization of North American Nations. Rather than confronting reality and working to overcome their sadness by attempting to form meaningful relationships, characters instead seek to escape this sadness through the various fantasies provided by drug-use and entertainment. These fantasies only work to exacerbate characters’ self-absorption and narcissism which consequently increases their unhappiness. Certain characters are able to break free of these narcissistic impulses by turning outwards to form meaningful relationships. As these characters break free of the “cage of the self” (777), they experience a sense of meaning and happiness that other characters are without.
iv, 114 leaves ; 29 cm
Wallace, David Foster. Infinite jest , Wallace, David Foster -- Criticism and interpretation , Narcissism in literature , Dissertations, Academic