Apr 25 2013

Genealogy of Rejection in The Bluest Eye

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This article is called “Genealogy of Rejection in Morrison’s The Bluest Eye”  by Joy Wills.

Wills starts off by showing that there is a pattern of “generation curses” present throughout the novel. She talks about how in Soaphead Church’s family, the traits of the fathers stayed dominant for generations and that even Soaphead himself inherited his “trenchancy and pedophilia” from his ancestors and his “religious fanaticism” directly from his father. Wills says that in The Bluest Eye, “the family is described as one entity, the accomplishments and conviction of the sons are the same as the fathers.” This remains true for the Breedlove family. Wills explains that all of Pauline’s experiences of loneliness, exclusion, and discrimination by both race and class lead her to “hold herself up to standards that she didn’t fully understand nor could realistically attain” and that these standards that Pauline unrealistically made for herself got passed on to Pecola. Even the narratives are set up to support these generation curses- the “Spring” section is when Morrison incorporated the narratives of Pauline, Cholly, and Soaphead Church to act as an “indication of the characters sowing the seeds that will be reaped by Pecola.”

Wills then switches gears to talk about how nature is also a recurring theme throughout the novel. She states that the book is broken up into sections of Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer in order to represent the “constants in nature” that are out of human control and to suggest that the events, like the seasons, have occurred before and will indeed happen again.Wills continues by providing examples of the nature theme, such as how Pauline is connected to the colors, sites, and sounds of nature in the south and how “Winter moves in and presides there” on Claudia’s father’s face.

Unfortunately, after the nature theme part, Wills goes off on kind of a weird tangent about God; but overall, it was a pretty good article because Wills supported all the points she was making with solid information.

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Apr 25 2013

The Turn of the Screw

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Literary Analysis: Turn of the Screw

Marion A. Davis

http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/65/literary-analysis-turn-of-the-screw

In Marion A. Davis’s criticism of The Turn of The Screw, she argues that the governess is an unreliable narrator from the very beginning of the story when Douglass begins telling the ghost story.  The author points out that although the ghost story’s written form gives it credibility, within the story itself the governess references her “obsessions” and admits to Mrs. Grose that she is “rather easily carried away.”  Davis connects the governess’s confession to the typical behavior of Victorian governesses, stating that governesses were stereotypically thought to be the children’s “corrupter” by warping their minds.  I think this applies to the governess of The Turn of the Screw because she ultimately does corrupt the children, but I do not think she necessarily corrupts their thoughts because they consistently test her and exert a sense of power over her.

In this article, Davis also argues that the governess’s hallucinations are a result from the inner struggle she feels between her id, ego, and superego and that she projects her unconscious thoughts about herself onto the ghosts as a way of denying her flaws.  I agree with this, but the author states that the cause for this struggle is her love for Miles because her id tells her to pursue her desires but her superego tells her to reform them.  I do not believe that the governess is in love with Miles despite the sexual undertones of their relationship.  Instead, I believe the governess’s hallucinations originated from her desire to appease the master and have been created from her unconscious as a way to win his approval.

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Apr 25 2013

From Irony to Affiliation in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

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Having not commented on the Handmaid’s Tale for, oh, more than a few months, I decided to make it the focus of my article this week. Jennifer A. Wagner-Lawler of the University of Memphis, begins the article by stating blatantly, that from its publication, the novel has been accused of being “too political” Wagner-Lawler begins to build upon this argument for about two sentences,and then changes her thesis to: the novel is simply too ironic, to the point of humor. The author cites the novel as being satirical, something I do not fully agree with, and pinpoints the ironic/humorous aspects being of in-jokes, obscenities, and situational irony. Ironic double talk, that is, the words that hold a double meaning both in a literal and nonliteral sense, is significant in Offred’s progression; the author cites the May Day code as a prime example. This ironic double talk acts as Offred’s possibility…, to what? The author asks the same question: while Offred’s surely extends her contact with the outside world, double talk does not offer her freedom, something she must take for herself. Here the author begins to deviate, and compares irony to “an extended attitude towards life”, and thus through participating in double talk, Offred is…extending her attidute towards life? The author ends her own personal thoughts here and begins summarizing the works of others, who do not speak on the irony argument the author was trying to make. I wish that the author had included more evidence to support her points, I’m not really sure what she was trying to say! However, this ironic double talk, and satirical spin, on the Handmaid’s Tale warrants furture investigation, and I hope I can find a similar article that expounds on it.
Wagner-Lawlor, Jennifer A. “From Irony to Affiliation in Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”.” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction (Washington, DC) Vol. 45, No. 1. Fall 2003: 83-96. SIRS Renaissance. Web. 24 Apr 2013.

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Apr 24 2013

Cacambo’s Superiority in Skill and Ideals

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Beck, Ervin. “Voltaire’s CANDIDE.” The Explicator 57.4 (1999): 203. Student Resources In Context. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.

 

This article, written by Ervin Beck, explains how Cacambo is perhaps the overall strongest character in Candide.  The author claims Cacambo is not only morally superior, but also superior in terms of strength and skill.  In terms of philosophy, Cacambo is seen as a sort of median between Pangloss and Martin. Of the three guides to Candide, Cacambo is the second, and the one who develops a practical belief system, a combination of optimism and pessimism.  Also, simply being the second of three guides further suggests a sense a mediation and neutrality.  The author claims this neutrality is far more practical than the beliefs of either Pangloss or Martin.  In addition to the practical belief system, Cacambo is seen as skillful, more so than any other character.  Whether it is his skill and experience as a “choir-boy, a sacristan, a sailor, a monk, a postman, a soldier and a lackey,” or his ability to translate and peacefully talk his way out of a bad situation, Cacambo holds more apparent skill than the other main characters, namely the unemployed Pangloss and Martin.  As it appears Voltaire was complimenting such a value system, it is strange that his name be Cacambo, which the author claims is derived from Spanish for “excrement” (caca).

I found this article interesting, as I never considered such a significance for Cacambo.  I just viewed him as a sort of stepping stone for Candide, but after viewing Cacambo from this angle, I can definitely see how significant he really is.  I might even go so far as to say that he was just as, if not more, influential on Candide’s final philosophical outcome.

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Apr 24 2013

Doing and Performing in “Hamlet”

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O’Neill, William. “Doing and Performing in “Hamlet”.” Midwest Quarterly. Winter 2012: 121-132. SIRS Renaissance. Web. 24 Apr 2013.

Much to my surprise, I did find another Hamlet article that I haven’t seen yet.  In this particular article, author William O’Neill highlights some of the stranger characteristics of Hamlet himself and discusses the significance of “plays” within the text.  According to O’Neill, Hamlet is a true idealist.  Being an idealist, Hamlet’s perfect visions of the world are sharply contrasted by the decay and general degradation of politics.  This contrast essentially throws Hamlet’s idealism right back in his face, and causes him to lash out violently at those who have done him no wrong like Ophelia.  O’Neill says that Hamlet’s rudeness and cruelty to Ophelia is completely unprecedented and uncharacteristic of him, even if he is feigning madness.  “A crashed idealist,” O’Neill warns, “can be a very unpleasant person.

For the rest of the article, O’Neill makes his main point that the copious references to plays and scripts symbolize the control that each of the characters tries to exert over the other.  An analysis of the text showed that 521 of the 4042 line play contain references to scripting or playing.  Such a large number must have some significance, and indeed, the idea of the characters trying to “direct” one another makes sense within the context of the story.  Although this was O’Neill’s main point, he did not do a very good job of defending it, and there was far more evidence to support his views of Hamlet as a crashed idealist than anything else.  I also disagreed with O’Neill’s view that Hamlet genuinely despises Ophelia, and that his “get thee to a nunnery” line references a brothel instead of a real nunnery.  Apart from that, this article was well constructed, interesting, and very informational, and if you plan on using Hamlet for your AP test, I would highly recommend it.

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Apr 24 2013

Truth in The Handmaid’s Tale

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http://www.bsos.umd.edu/gvpt/lpbr/subpages/reviews/atwood0408.htm

Granted this is a review of the novel, this article presents some interesting truths about the reality of Offred’s journey. Kathleen Cameron, the author, focuses on the oppression of women several societies have faced throughout the centuries, but she connects the events within Gilead to those of the current Middle East. Cameron states, “Atwood’s vision of a fictional theocratic regime that reduces the value of women to reproductive commodities is a disturbingly accurate account of the status of women in the Middle East and other parts of the world, and is in many ways reflected in political, legal, and cultural doctrines, ideologies, and practices in the U.S.” After elongating her summary of the novel, Cameron discusses the role of a “sexual temptress,” a negative term that accurately describes the Handmaids’ roles. ” More specifically, the work lends itself to an examination of the politics of female sexuality as inextricably linked to female criminality,” describes Cameron. However, she then describes Offred not as a victim but more of a voice for all of the oppressed women. She says, “Ironically, when it is more common for survivors of sexual crimes and political torture to remain silent, it is Offred’s narrative that empowers the reader to champion her eventual uprising against the family and government that hold her captive.” Offred, in Cameron’s opinion is a heroine not just a survivor. At the end, Cameron references the reality of Offred’s situation by stating that Arabic and Iraqi women are punished and executed for not conforming to the Islamic religion and/or covering there heads. Cameron concludes with this statement, my favorite line, “As a feminist pedagogy and methodology, the power of giving voice to women and naming personal experience is the power of The Handmaid’s Tale.

I loved this article! With her connections to reality, I was able to better connect with this novel. I recognize, in a sense, what Offred suffers through, and the theme of oppression resounds even more. I love the idea of a “sexual temptress,” Offred as a voice for all victims, and sexuality as a direct cause of criminal acts. I was able to relate through her word choice, but I wish she would have spent less time on summarizing the novel. As a feminist criticism, this article satisfies all means. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

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Apr 22 2013

Quest for Identity in The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison By Thomas K Fernandis

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This article started off by explaining how Toni Morrison was a great (as in largely, not necessarily positive) influence on African American culture. This is easy to agree with, especially since she brought so much of the culture to light that others may not have been aware of. He says that the theme throughout the book is the ‘quest for individual identity and the influence of the family and society in that quest.’ I think that is a very general statement for the theme, and certainly doesn’t fit the theme statement we were taught this year. Pecola’s journey is definitely the main focus for much of the book, however, I think the bigger theme was the embodiment of all the flaws of the whole community in Pecola. A theme statement that doesn’t address the rest of the town and how they impacted or were impacted by the unfolding of Pecola’s quest is utterly insufficient.
Later in the article, Fernandis says that Cholly is the exact opposite of a father figure because he only hurts her and shows her no love. I think this is, at least in part, false. Cholly is stripped of his ability to love properly and show his feelings. He rapes Pecola because of a love that he feels for Pauline. No, this is not something a father figure would do, however we have to see Cholly’s inability to do anything else. He can’t express his feelings in any other way.
The article had many good points, however they were ones that we had already belabored. It was generally a good article, but not very deep.

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Apr 18 2013

Gatsby’s Fairy Lover by Tristram P. Coffin Midwest Folklore Vol. 10, No. 2 (Summer, 1960), pp. 79-85

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This article related the love story within the great gatsby to that of a fairy tale interpreted by John Keats in the Poem; La Belle Dame Sans Merci. It was fascinating how the connections were made to the faery and the knight in the poem and Fitzgerald’s Daisy and Gatsby. It was made through things as simple as the colors in their clothing and appearance, and more complexly in what the Hero’s of both story saw their lady as and what their “mystical object” was.
In the novel Daisy’s presence is represented by the green light at the dock, and she is portrayed in white; just as the faery in the other story is dressed in either green or white and rides a white horse. White is usually representative of purity, and the virgin; ironically it is worn by women in both story who promise their love to a man and then leave him, still under their spell. Daisy is set on a pedestal by many, almost as an other worldly creature, and introduced to us as “capable of suspension” such is her grace. She is as socially out of Gatsby’s reach as a Faery would be to any mortal man and shown as such. Her voice is described as one of the most tantalizing sounds one could hear, the equivalent of money. Even her maiden name is Fay, which the author claims to be an adaptation of “fey”, another word for faery folk.
Gatsby has been under her spell for years, his struggle is to face her as a real woman rather than the beautiful creature he has fantasizes about for five years. He yearns to repeat the past and is distraught with her reality just as the Knight in the fairy tale must face that he is mortal and his Faery love is immortal. So Gatsby must accept that Daisy is not supernatural and the knight faces that he is not supernatural.
This is the most difficult article to relay in my own words, it is absolutely fascinating and I encourage you read it! It really went in depth to many issues addressed in the novel that may have been confusing, and actually used the fairy tale to almost clarify those things.

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Apr 17 2013

Critical Article for 4/17

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Although “Negative Utopia as Polemic: The Handmaid’s Tale” by Dan Geddes for the most part acts as a review rather than an article, the author does provide his ideas regarding Atwood’s usage of Offred’s flashbacks and narrative, his interpretation of the bigger meaning behind the handmaids’s names, and an analysis of the novel’s overall purpose and critiques how this purpose is directed towards the audience.

Overall, the review made some very valid points regarding the novel’s purpose and even brought up a question I had found myself asking after reading the novel. Geddes writes that the novel “underscores some of the inherent conflicts in contemporary feminism” and targets the faults of an extremely Western patriarchal society. This is the novel’s main purpose- “to warn [the audience], to spin out the implications of contemporary views and practices”. Though this purpose is recognizable seeing how the story Offred tells practically pinpoints patriarchy as the source of most, if not all, her problems, Geddes points out that the novel lacks the incentive to tell audiences what they should do about the problem. He questions what Atwood wants the audience to do in order to take action against this sort of dystopia from ever happening and I found myself to be questioning the same thing after I read the novel. The novel identifies the problems with Western patriarchy and the lack of proper feminist support in society, yet it doesn’t address how the audience goes about to prevent these problems from occurring in the future. The one argument I really liked that Geddes made and that I found interesting and logical was that the handmaids’s assigned names (“of” + their commander’s name) “suggests how the Western practice of assigning women the man’s last name upon marriage defines women in terms of their men”. I never really thought of the idea and just saw the names as a way for others to identify whom the handmaids belonged to and establish them as property, but this idea makes valid sense to me.

The only thing, though very silly, that somewhat bothered me about the review is that Geddes doesn’t use the word “polemic” anywhere else within his writing aside from the title. My thought was that if someone is going to prove to an audience why an event or story fits a certain word or description, they should at least attempt to use that word or those words more than once. I was unfamiliar with the word and looked it up and I understand why it fits with his arguments and with the novel, but it would have been nice to have an explanation in the paper. For anyone else who didn’t know what the word means: polemic- an aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of another. Because the novel attacks patriarchy, which is a principle of a male dominated society, it can be considered polemic.

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Apr 17 2013

Critical Article

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“Voltaire’s “Candide”.” SIRS Renaissance. 12 May 2004: n.p. SIRS Renaissance. Web. 17 Apr 2013.

SIRS RENAISSANCE May 12, 2004, n.p.
Written by ProQuest Information and Learning staff. Copyright © 2004, ProQuest Information and Learning Company.

This article addresses the common and ironic omission of the word Optimism from the title of the book, since according to ProQuest, most readers, especially English readers omit this word and shorten the title to just Candide. Whoever wrote this article believes that optimism should not be removed from the title as its idea contributes heavily to the main compelling theme of the book: whether humankind lives in optimism in all different worlds (environments) or whether humans live in a world of pessimism and indiscriminate sorrow. Voltaire, according to this article, addresses the idea of optimistic determinism which says that  God created a world of perfect order and reason, and anything that happens is simply meant to be.

They then go on to talk about the characters Candide, Pangloss, and Martin and consider how they highlight the philosophical themes of optimism and pessimism. Pangloss fully represents the philosophy of optimistic determinism as he practically makes an excuse for every evil person or act and every sorrowful occurrence. Candide represents the gullible man who is easily swayed in believing whatever he hears. He initially accepts Pangloss’ philosophy and but after multiple tragedies and after seeing a multitude of atrocities happen to people, his optimism wanes and begins to not find idealistic and optimistic excuses for the evil people and suffering that he encounters and begins to falter from Pangloss’ teaching. He then meets Martin, who it the polar opposite of Pangloss, thus representing pessimism and the idea that the world is the perfect and the best for everyone; it is actually abominable and inhabits inhumane people. Thus the novel uses these three central characters to represent different philosophical views: Pangloss is the optimist, Martin is the pessimist, and Candide, after listening to both philosophies, chooses his own ideal which falls in the middle of the two.

Through these characters, Voltaire, according to these writers, provides a thematic resolution for the ideals ofoptimism and pessimism: the world is both good and bad and for an individual to survive, he should not ponder on either one, rather he should “simply go about his business and live an honest life.” No matter which ideal a person believes is right, the world will still continue go on.

 

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