THE SEARCH FOR MEANINGFUL LIFE IN SIDNEY SHELDON’S MEMORIES OF MIDNIGHT: AN EXISTENTIALIST APPROACH
The study deals with the search for meaningful life as reflected in Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of Midnight. This study aims at exposing the internal structure of the novel and exploring the philosophical values of human’s existence about searching the meaning of life.
The primary data is taken from the novel itself while the secondary data are taken from deferent sources such as comments and criticism toward the novel. The method of data collection is library research. The approach uses is existentialist theory as a means of analysis. The technique of data collection is descriptive qualitative.
The outcome of the study is as follows: firstly the structural elements of the novel present a good unity. The novel exposes the search for meaningful life as reflected by the major character that uses the power as a treatment to reach it. The theme of the novel concerns in the uncontrolled power that leads one to failure in searching for meaningful life. Secondly, the result of existentialist analysis shows that the novel represents one of the important reflections of the author’s concern in his criticism about life. The author critizes the existentialist who proposes that power is everything.
Keywords: Search for meaning, Memories of Midnight, Meaningful life, Existentialist approach.
- A. Introduction
The meaning of life is the important things that can be changed from time to time and can be found in the real experiences of the daily life as a guideline from the human activities and made it the goal of life (Bastman, 1997:52). In a critical situation peoples can still be consistent to fin and create the meaning of life. However, in another situation people can fail in searching in meaningful life.
Frankl (Koeswara, 1987:43) extends about the failure of search for meaningful life, called as an existential frustration. It will cause the people to compensation in form of self-escape such as alcoholism, drug, sex, and gambling.
Searching of meaning of life does not always constitute the religion problem but it often constitutes the philosophy of life which have secular characteristic. Furthermore Frankl said that, “Human being can find the meaning of life, not only from religion or by realization of religious values but also from realization of human values included of creative value, aesthetic value, ethical value, and experiential value” (Koeswara, 1987:40-41). It means that human being finds or creates the meaning of life.
Frankl in Koeswara (1987:41) extends about the three ways that can make life meaningful. First, something is given to life (creative works). Second, something is taken from life including the beauty, truth and love. The last, an attitude is given to certainty of fate that could not be changed. From those there ways, the striving of man to reach the meaningful of life is very heavy. In fact, people always face various problems, one of them is to wage war against himself, it means that people must be able to control and manage himself.
Considering all of those, the writer is interested in conducting a study on a novel. One of them is novel written by Sidney Sheldon. He is an author who had produced several works in the form of novel. One of his novels is Memories of Midnight in 1990 by Warner Books Inc. New York with the amount of pages is 404 pages.
Memories of Midnight is a modern novel. The story is easy to understand because the language is simple and uses the simple grammatical structure. So it easy for the readers to understand the messages extended by an author. The message extended thought this work can be hampered because the author is well known yet by the society and also buying power of society is still low.
This study describes the search for meaningful life in Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of Midnight by giving limitation to her concern on the major character’s effort to create the meaningful life by employing Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche’s existentialist in perspectives as the primary approach. This is a reason of the writer to choose the title “The Search for Meaningful Life in Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of Midnight: An Existentialism Approach” for this research.
- B. Literature Preview
As far as the researcher’s knowledge the study of Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of Midnight is not a new work. There are other studies conducted by other writers such as Paramita Indreswari, a Sebelas Maret university student who studied this novel in here research entitled “An Analysis of English Imperative Sentences in the Novel Memories of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon and their translation into Padang Baying Kelabu by Budijanto T. Pramono”.
Budi Kusumaningrum, a Muhammadiyah university of Surakarta student this novel uses Sociological perspective in her research entitled “The Impact of Secularized life in Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of Midnight: a Sociological Approach”.
- C. Problem Statement
The problem statement to be discussed in this research is simply stated as follow: How the major character strives for meaningful life as reflected in Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of midnight?
- D. Research Method
In analyzing Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of Midnight, the writer uses the type of the study, data source, method of data collection and technique of data analysis such as follows:
- Type of the study
The type of this study is qualitative.
- Data Source
In this study the writer defines the source of the data source and secondary data source:
- Primary data source
The research object of this study is taken from the text of Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of Midnight.
- Secondary data source
The secondary data source includes the books, which deal with the novel and the other materials that are relevant to support the analysis.
- Method of Data Collection
The methods data of data collection in this research used to collect data are both documentation by collecting and recording the primary and secondary data, and library research by summarizing, paraphrasing and wording. Some steps of collecting the data are:
- Reading the novel repeatedly.
- Taking notes of informant in both primary and secondary data.
- Analyzing data into several based on its classification.
- Developing the data provided.
- Technique of Data Analysis
The technique of data analysis in this research is descriptive. This is an interpretation of the text and context analysis to get characteristic at the data to existentialism analysis at the novel Memories of Midnight.
- E. Discussion
Based on the existentialist analysis of Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of Midnight with the limitation of study based on Nietzsche’s principles of existentialist about the searching for meaningful life can be conclude that, Nietzsche proposes his perspective generally that the human’s life is meaningful if it fills three aspects namely: the will to power, the ubermensch and morality.
In Memories of Midnight Constain Demiris is a major character who has the will power as a treatment to reach the meaningful life. Demiris is reflected as a person who has an ambition to be a powerful man. Burdened by the suffering during his youth, his life is very poor and the business partner that causes his ambition raise ever deceives him. He feels his life is meaningful when he becomes a ruler of a fiefdom large and more powerful that many countries. He is one of two or three wealthiest men in the world and his influence is incalculable. Although he had no title or official position, he regularly buys and sells prime ministers, cardinal ambassadors and king. He will do everything to get the wealth and more to hold the power.
Nietzsche said (Arifin, 1987:54) someone’s life in meaningful if he is able to reach the ubermensch. It occurs in major character, who also finds the goal of his life by reaching the highest satisfaction and become the ubermensch. There are two requirements to reach the ubermensch namely; humans as creators must create and change the values system and must base on the own ability. In Memories of Midnight, major character determines his life by creating justice, values and roles by himself. He defied the rules of ordinary men. It done by himself because his life is filled by the feeling of hates and grudge in the past. So he must struggle and brave to commit the games of death.
The illustration of major character’s life seen from morality he categorized into the master morality. He reach the meaningful life with becomes a man who has master morality. He determines the own direction, brave to face his life, to hold the game of life and death manipulate the weak peoples for his importance. However in Memories of Midnight, Demiris reflected as a person who has a master morality, which able to take place his morality in the certain proportion. It mean that in his life, he cannot control his self-belong to control passion and the power ambition. He reach his meaningful life is just a moment. Uncontrolled his power and his self may lead one to failure in searching for meaningful life. In the last he is dead together with the destruction of his power.
- F. Conclusion
Based on structural analysis and existentialist analysis of the novel Memories of Midnight with the limitation of study based on Nietzsche’s principle of existentialist about the search for meaningful life, which have been done on the preceding chapter, the researcher come to the conclusion. The conclusion is drawn to answer the problem statement of the study. It deals with how Demiris’s strive for meaningful life.
The literary work such as the novel is the media of expression the author uses to express the idea, feeling, thinking, imagination, experience and emotion. Like the novel Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of Midnight, the author tries to communicate his idea about human experience. He takes one issue in human life namely the meaning of life. Sheldon tries to expose the philosophical values human’s existence emphasized on searching for meaningful life. It is reflected on major character (Constantin Demiris). He is illustrated as a man who has a power that is used as a treatment to reach the meaningful life.
Based on the existentialist analysis deals with Memories of Midnight, searching of meaningful life becomes a focus of this study, how the major character strives for meaningful life is seen from Nietzsche’s principle of existentialist. Firstly, as occurred in Memories of Midnight, Constant in Demiris as the major character can reach his meaningful life by the will to power. Secondly, his life is meaningful because he is able to reach the meaningful life by having the master morality. As occurs in Memories of Midnight, Demiris has the master morality; however the author shows that Demiris is an unable to use his master morality and his power because he is unable control himself namely: his passion and ambition. He defies the rules and morality of ordinary man. In the last, he is destroyed together with the destruction of his power. He loses his meaningful life and loses his existence.
From the analysis above, can be conclude that the outcome of his study shows that the novel represents one of the important reflections of the author’s concern in his criticism about life. The author criticism Nietzsche existentialist who proposes that power is everything. According the author, power is unimportant, power is not everything, power is not satisfaction, power is meaningless, and power is nonsense if it not accompanied with the awareness of one self to control the power namely awareness for self-control of passion and ambition. In the phenomena of human’s life, many people want their life meaningful by using the power absolutely as a treatment to reach it. However, their unconsciousness about the controlled power may lead one to failure and destruction to themselves. That is why Sheldon critizes that condition.
Arifin, Chairul. 1987. Kehendak Untuk Berkuasa: Friederich Nietzche. Jakarta: Erlangga
Bastman, Hanna Djumhana. 1997. Intregasi Psikologi dengan Islam (Menuju Psikologi Islam), Yogyakarta: Pustaka Pelajar.
Indreswari, Paramita. 1997. “An Analysis of English Imperative Sentences in the Novel Memories of Midnight by Sidney Sheldon and Their Translaltion Into Padang Bayang Kelabu by Budijanto T. Pramono”. Solo: UNS.
Koeswara, E. 1987. Psikologi Existential: Suatu Pengantar. Bandung: PT. Eresco.
Kusumaningrum, Budi, A Muhammadiyah University of Surakarta Student Who Studied This Novel Uses Sociological Perspective In Her Research Entiteld, The Impact of Secularized Life In Sidney Sheldon’s Memories of Midnight: A Sociological Approach. Surakarta: UMS.
Sheldon, Sidney. 1990. Memories of Midnight. New York: Warner Books. Inc.
Sunardi, ST. 1996. Nietzsche. Yogyakarta: LKis.
Posted on January 12, 2012, in artikel menarik and tagged elements of the novel, existentialist theory, memories of midnight, novel concerns, philosophical values, structure of the novel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.