Block 1 Human Behavior Writing Assignment

Mark Vakkur, M.D.


"'They were all disloyal. I tried to run the ship properly by the book, but they fought me at every turn...Ah, but the strawberries! That's, that's where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with, with geometric logic, that, that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox did exist. And I would have produced that key had they not pulled the Caine out of action. I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officer.'"
- Captain Queeg as portrayed by Humphrey Bogart in the movie version of the Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk



Writing Assignment: 20 point credit: choose one of the following literary or film characters below and assess their

Word limit: 250 words or less, typed, hard copy please.

Format: Double space, typed, on a single page with at least a 12 point font.

Deadline: Tuesday, 8/15/00; please bring to lecture or give to Ms. Ellen Wright.

Choose from one of the following samples please (I must know the characters also to be able to assess your work). If the film is based on a novel or original work, I prefer that you base it on the character as portrayed in the book, since more diagnostic details are available and Hollywood sometimes takes dramatic license with the character. If the basis of the work is a historical character, please address the way the character is portrayed in the work. Please stick to the main protagonist(s) in each book; an analysis of Ashley in Gone With the Wind is fine, but I would prefer that you analyze Scarlett (if for no other reason than I do not have time to dig through each of these works again in the off chance that I have forgotten one of the minor characters). Remember, I am not looking for "the right answer"; simply show me how you think and that you understand the principles presented in the class. (And if you don't, then ask plenty of questions in class or email me.)

If you have a burning desire to analyze a character not on this list, please contact me and for a small fee (just kidding - it's a large fee) I will consider your choice (my acceptance or rejection of it will be based on my familiarity wth the work, not any particular artistic merits).

Book, Play, or Film:


A Few Good Men

Focus on either the prosecution or the defense. A little over-acted in parts, the film is a good exploration of this particular personality cluster.

A Man for All Seasons (1966)

Although you can draw on the historical figure of Thomas More, stick to the play (or movie adaptation) since this record is more accessible and less controversial.

A Streetcar Named Desire, Tennessee Williams

Blanche or Stanley, please.

All the King's Men, Robert Penn Warren

 Another Pulitzer Prize-winner, possibly one of the best books ever written (in my humble opinion). Stick to the Willie Stark character, please.

Casablanca (1943)

Think about why Bogart's character made the decision he did.

Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky

Why did Raskolnikov kill the pawnbroker? What was he attempting to prove to himself? What defenses was he using?

Death of a Salesman, Arthur Miller

Willie Loman, please.

Gandhi, (1982)

Remember that psychiatric principles apply not just to pathology; altruism and sublimation are considered defenses, albeit mature ones.

Long Day's Journey Into Night, Eugene O'Neill


Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad

Please stick to the protagonist only (the title character).

Macbeth, William Shakespeare


Note From the Underground, Dostoevsky

Like Conrad's The Secret Agent, gives a chilling portrayal of the revolutionary zealot.

On the Waterfront (1954)

"I coulda been somebody. I coulda been a contender."

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Ben Kesey (1962); (film, 1975)

Read the book if you haven't.

Patton (1970)

The George C. Scott portrayal is a classic (although the real Patton had a high-pitched, squeaky voice). See the film if you haven't.

Rabbit at Rest, John Updike

Any of the rabbit books will do, actually.

Schindler's List, (1993)

Focus on why Schindler may have had a change of heart.

Smoke Signals

What defenses does Victor use? How would you describe his personality structure? How successful were his defenses?

Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson

An exquisitely written book. The movie isn't bad either. You should be able to identify many of the traits and defenses of the characters.

That Championship Season, Jason Miller


The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

What turned the British officer (Alec Guinness) in the POW camp from a rebel to a collaborator? What defenses did he use?

The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky

Any of the brothers will do, or you can even analyze the Grand Inquisitor.

The Caine Mutiny, Herman Wouk

Read the book if you haven't; it won a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize in 1952.

The Crucible, Arthur Miller

John Proctor, please; what makes him tick?

The Deerhunter, (1978)


The End of the Affair, Graham Greene

The movie version was remarkably faithful (no pun intended) to the novel version, but the book is excellent.

The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene

Look beyond the alcohol dependence (to be covered in a later block) to the underlying defenses used by the "whisky priest."

The Quiet American, Graham Greene

What defenses does Pyle use in this prescient book (that should have been read by the American Defense Department before it became heavily involved in Vietnam).

The Secret Agent, Joseph Conrad

One of the first of what was to become a genre, but more importantly a chillingly prescient portrayal of something that was to become all too common in the twentieth century: the ruthless, nihilistist who murders in the name of revolution.