August 11, 2013
HeLa Prompt #4
Immortality is subject to a variety of meanings. The most common definition says that immortality is the quality or state of being immortal or having unending life. Henrietta Lacks, the human, is not immortal; in fact, she’s dead right now. But her cells are. They continue to live today; even after Henrietta’s 1951 death. Henrietta’s story sounds like it could be something out of a fiction novel and that’s what I love about it. Her story is so unexpected and so crazy. It makes the reader think, “This cannot be real!” But immortality has never been more real.
Immortality in literature has commonly been used to exploit fear or weakness in characters, as well as help characters understand to which point they are immortal. In classic literature, immortality belonged to the monsters and mythical creatures. Death was not a concept for them; they were untouchable. There were some characters in classic literature that were believed to be immortal, but in actuality, had their kryptonite. Dracula, for example, had the ability to live forever, but if he were to suffer a stake to the heart, or a beheading with garlic on side, his life would be over. Classic literature uses immortality like a character; it gives it a fatal flaw and most always ends its life.
Immortality in contemporary literature is essential the same. It follows the same basic concept, that one has the ability to live forever but can also die. In addition, it goes a little bit deeper. Most characters in contemporary literature who believe they are immortal are usually the ones who end up with a fatal flaw. Therefore, no one is actually immortal. In Harry Potter (I consider this contemporary literature), Lord Voldemort believes that he is immortal, hence the “Lord” part of the name. He accumulated so much power, and then attempted to use his power to destroy Harry Potter, but in a classic twist, his wand back fires on himself, and Lord...