The left hand of darkness

Essay by Gamerman2001 December 2004

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Topic 1

The novel The Left Hand of Darkness written by Ursula K. Le Guin speaks of unlike forces and people coming together to complete and complement each other. The title of the novel specifically makes reference to this theme of putting together these unlike attributes and demonstrating that neither of these forces can be complete without the other. The novel also shows that although these forces are able to function without the other, they function as one body when put together, for "two are hands joined together" (233-4).

The two characters in the novel who portray this theme are Estraven and Genly Ai. Both these characters are unlike in many ways. Genly Ai is from a different world from that of Estraven's. He is an alien in the land of the Gethenians, but he suggests that at times "more and more often [he] longed for anonymity, for sameness" (8).

Not only is Genly Ai physically different from Estraven and the other Gethenians, but he also has different ideals about life and a different cultural background.

Estraven on the other hand is also different from Genly Ai in his own right. These differences are however in alignment with his culture. Amongst the differences between these two individuals there is one common ground that Le Guin uses to bring them together " lovers in kemmer..."(234). Both men come together on the basis of making the Gethenians a part of the Ekumen; as a result both these individuals become the embodiment of the Xing Xang symbol which represents the opposing forces of physical appearances, beliefs and cultures coming together.

In each chapter of the novel, Le Guin prepares all the characters in the novel for the joining of the Ekumen which represents a unified force made of smaller functioning countries such...