Apr 27 2018

Critical Article: Frankenstein

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Frankenstein: is it really about the dangers of science? Chris Bond explores how Frankenstein is about something more than the danger of scientific experimentation

Jason Green (nah jk it’s by Chris Bond)

Bond’s main point is that contrary to popular belief, Mary Shelley’s novel is not to portray the evils of science, but rather the moral character of the scientist and how they treat their creation.  According to Bond, Shelley was taking aim more at “egotism, neglect and alienation, and their consequent destructive results.”  Bond posits that Victor’s postition as a scientist is not crucial to the main message of the book; science merely provided an easy “concrete end product.”  In fact, Victor’s recklessness in ignoring the scientific method is what led to the creation of the creature–recklessness which is not limited to the field of science, either, but instead applicable anywhere.  Bond then looks at other examples of Victor’s hubris, which is ultimately what drives his passion for science.  Victor’s inner monologue reveals that his greatest wish is to unravel the mysteries of the world and usurp the divine.  Bond also looks at the way the process of creating the creature would eliminate the need for the female, and ties this into the ways Victor constantly avoids sexual relationships, most notably isolating himself for two years when “sexuality threatens to enter [his] relationship [with Elizabeth] with their engagement.”  And when his creation causes destruction, Victor mourns the effects of what his studies have wrought, yet he shows no remorse for his actions themselves.

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Apr 27 2018

Critical Essay: Harry Potter again because why not

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Harry’s girls: Harry Potter and the discourse of gender By: Meredith Cherland
She hopeed to explain some concepts from feminist poststructural theory to illustrate their usefulness in analyzing Harry Potter novels and other artifacts of popular culture and propose that critical reading informed by feminist poststructural theory can offer secondary students and their teachers hope for a better future and power to act for change in the world. Humanism encourages dualistic thinking. It constructs binaries as a way of understanding the world. The language of humanism presents us with these binaries, hierarchical opposites that take their meaning in relation to each other. Binaries like male/female, rational/irrational, mind/body, and good/evil are humanism’s “common sense.” Binaries are dangerous because they preserve hierarchies (one term in a binary is marked as normal and better) and because they lead us to oversimplify complicated situations. Humanist binaries allow us to think of U.S. foreign policy, for example, as simple: white against black, the good guys against the bad guys, the Christians against the Muslims. Humanism makes people certain and unable to listen to and learn from others unlike themselves.
Poststructuralism is a response to humanism. After World War II, after the Holocaust, humanist beliefs about right and reason, about knowledge and truth, came dramatically into question. But poststructuralism has not replaced humanism–far from it. Humanism and poststructuralism coexist. This makes for uncomfortable times, a historical moment when what we see as normal, natural common sense is being called into question. Teachers ought not to ignore this. We need to help young adults engage with the uncertainty and the ambiguity of our times so that they are equipped for living now.

A Cultural Story Line. Rowling has a classical education, and she knows the story lines and the discourses of Western humanism. They are part of Harry Potter’s world. For example, in Goblet of Fire Rowling introduces us to the Veela, magical creatures who look like beautiful young women but who have strange and dangerous power over men. We meet them first as the mascots of the Bulgarian team at the Quidditch World Cup, but they are descended from the ancient Greeks. They are, of course, the sirens of the Odyssey. When the sirens sing, men lose all reason. Even the reasonable boy with the ordinary name, Harry Potter, loses himself and his reason when the Veela dance.
Rowling, like all novelists, uses language to construct a world and a social reality. She invokes familiar story lines to remind us of what we already “know.” By inserting the Veela episode at the beginning of her novel, Rowling accomplishes several purposes: She makes educated readers smile at the reference to an ancient Greek text with which they are familiar; she underlines Harry Potter’s humanity and vulnerability; she foreshadows the arrival of the character Fleur Delacour, whose grandmother was a Veela; and she uses language to create a certain social reality, to invoke an idea that is obvious and full of common sense. What is obvious in the siren story line, so obvious that we all know it, so obvious that it is common sense? It is the understanding that female people are different from normal people. Girls and women are sexual beings with dangerous power over men.

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Apr 23 2018

Funk it up

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In her novel, Morrison discusses the importance of motherhood. On balance, she, according to Aoi Mori, determines that different equality groups themselves can discriminate. “African American women’s everyday experiences and practices, which have been largely neglected by white feminists. Morison formulates African American Maternal theory that embraces black women’s experiences, as racism and sexism can skew the way mothers help their children think about the world. It can become difficult to be both realistic and optimistic. In the same manner, black wore actually spared from “True Womanhood”
during industrial revolution and before, were women expected to stay inside. However,
Black mothers involuntarily integrated into the US workforce and thus were exempted from “True Womanhood,” subverting the negative notion of mothering and rather consider it as a site of liberation, empowerment, and resistance. Aoi posits that Funk and Black culture used as a weapon with motherhood as the ammunition is one of our best chances at mitigating the effects of racism. Specifically, funk signifies that black values which are more unique to the senses (color, aroma, and flavor) surpass money and power because they were formed from a select oppressed group. As a result, she argues that the “funk” Mrs. MacTeer embodies “serve as a culture bearer for the next generation and could empower children to survive and resist oppression. Funk is in some ways a resistance to discrimination as it is a unique illustration of “culture.” Many choose to fight oppression by creating their own “funk,” a response to oppressed culture. Overall, Morrison affirms and confirms the importance of mothers and motherwork by describing in agonizing detail the personal and cultural suffering and loss that occur when children are not mothered and do not receive the preservation, nurturance, and cultural bearing needed for personal resistance and cultural renewal.

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Apr 21 2018

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The author explains how Divergent seems both dystopian, but plausible. They claim that the fact the characters are meant to pick only one faction, would seem almost unreasonable because there is not one characteristic to describe someone. The author goes into depth about the dauntless faction. They claim that Dauntless seems both admirable, but stupid. The fact that they have to complete many life-threatening feats to prove they aren’t afraid of depth seems unrealistic. The author claims that by completing these feats, the characters appear both courageous, but also stupid at the same time. The author was satisfied the book overall and was unable to set it down.

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Apr 20 2018

Hamlet Critical Article

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Michael Sacks

Conniving and bumbling, yet sometimes wise: an examination of the many facets of Polonius

Sacks proposes that there is more to Polonius than many readers give him credit for.  First, Sacks looks at some of his character flaws, including his tendency to ramble ( The exchange between Polonius and Reynaldo contains 71 lines; Polonius speaks 60 of them) and the suggestion of his senility as a result of his age.  Sacks then looks at what he considers to be Polonius’s best piece of advice, which he gives to Laertes:

 

Give every man thy ear but few thy voice;
   Take each man’s censure but reserve thy judgment.
  
   Neither a borrower nor a lender be.
   For loan oft loses both itself and friend
   And borrowing dulleth th’edge of husbandry.
   This above all. to thine own self be true.
   And it must follow as the night the day
   Thou canst not then be false to any man.
   (1.3.67-79)

Sacks believes other critics don’t give Polonius enough credit for this, some calling this speech “a set of aphorisms” and superficial.  In fact, Sacks himself brings up a few times in the book when Polonius ignores his own advice, turning away from his suggestion of being true to oneself and instead having Reynaldo spy on Laertes and use Ophelia as a tool explain Hamlet’s insane act.  Sacks then asks whether Polonius is motivated by love for his children or his own ambitions. In the case of sending Reynaldo to spy on Laertes, both explanations are viable–either he wants to be sure his son is okay in France, but on the other hand, his directions to Reynaldo would hurt Laertes’s reputation.  Sacks concludes that Polonius’s relationship with Laertes reveals his wisdom, his over-protectiveness. his intrusiveness, and even his knavery.”

Sacks then looks at the same traits in Polonius’s relationship to Ophelia, and then analyzes the two potential motives (fatherly love vs exploitation for political advancement) behind how Polonius treats the relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet.  He eventually concludes that Polonius merits a closer examination than critics have given him, and that he is just as complex a character as Hamlet himself.

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Apr 11 2018

Critical Article

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I found an article about one of the Wilfred Owen poems that I used for my essay.  It was written by Emmeline Burdet, but the title was unclear.

She argues that “Disabled” by Wilfred Owen is harmful to our perception of disabled people as a result of its melancholic tone and reinforcement of stereotypes regarding disabled people.  She takes issue with Owen’s suggestion that the unnamed soldier’s life is as awful as he portrays it.  Owen suggests that the wounded soldier will live the rest of his life abandoned and unloved as a result of his condition.  She also calls to attention the way in which Owen suggests that the soldier’s life has been robbed of any potential it might have had before his injuries.  Burdet is of of the belief that the morose tone and the “emblematic” status assigned to him undermines a lot of work activists and researchers have done to improve how the public perceives disabled people.  She believes that by painting such a hopeless, fatalistic picture, Owen’s poem doesn’t address the topic of life after becoming disabled.

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Apr 06 2018

Critical Review on The Fault in our Stars

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For my article, I am doing two separate ones in here because they were on the shorter side. The first one’s title is about the The Fault in our stars’s title: why did John Greene choose it? Well, it’s a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar “The fault, dear Brutus is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”, in other words he’s saying that it’s not fate that messes up people’s lives, it’s their own undoing. John Greene doesn’t agree with this take on the phrase, so he rewords it as “The fault in our stars” to say that sometimes we can’t avoid the bad stuff aka cancer.
The next article I’m looking at is: Analysis: What’s up with the Epigraph? “As the tide washed in, the Dutch Tulip Man faced the ocean: ‘Conjoiner rejoinder poisoner concealer revelator. Look at it, rising up and rising down, taking everything with it.’ ‘What’s that?’ I asked. ‘Water,’ the Dutchman said. ‘Well, and time'” (PETER VAN HOUTEN, An Imperial Affliction). If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, you’d know about how much Hazel loves the book An Imperial Affliction and John Greene uses this imaginary book to support his theme with time because Hazel and Augustus don’t have a lot of time left. They’re gambling with ensuring they get as much as they can until they “fade into oblivion” as Hazel believes. Also, sounds a good bit like the epigraph too?

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Apr 06 2018

Critical Article: Death of a Salesman

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Criticism by B. S. Field
Field explores the “sin” or “crime” that justifies Willy Lowman’s tragic downfall. The criticism of Death of a Salesman falls into two schools, that which feels it necessary to explain why the play fails, and that which feels it necessary to explain why the play succeeds. Field believes the play to be a success. It is clear enough from all the criticism that Death of a Salesman has a theme that is open to various interpretations. One large group insists that it is, or ought to be, about Willy’s isolation from nature. Others point out that Willy suffers from a lack of love, a loss of identity, a worship of the False God of Personality. The causes of Willy’s disaster are presented with equal variety: he is defeated by society; he is too weak and immoral for any social conditions; he once made a wrong choice of careers; he married a woman who tried to stifle his sense of adventure; or simply that he got too old. And the condition that constitutes Willy’s catastrophe is also variously described: he suffered a miserable and pointless death; he suffered the agony of seeing that he had worthless sons; he suffered the agony of the whole twenty-four hours of insane self-torture which takes up the supposed “real” time of the play’s performance; or simply that he had a miserable funeral.

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Mar 29 2018

Critical Article: Grapes of Wrath

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Joseph Warren Beach, “John Steinbeck: Art and Propaganda”

Beach calls The Grapes of Wrath “the best proletarian novel produced so far in the United States.”  He talks about Steinbeck’s love of people and how that contributed to the novel’s effectiveness, in contrast to Upton Sinclair, who Beach calls “a man of earnest feeling and admirable gifts for propaganda who has not the mental reach of a great artist nor the artist’s power of telling a plausible story and creating a world of vivid and convincing people…” while Grapes relies on the human aspect to get its message across.  Beach then describes various examples in the book in which act as “propaganda” where Steinbeck’s philosophy shines through, both in the events around the Joad family and, such as the final act in which Rosasharn nurses a dying man back to health, and the odd chapters, such as the turtle crossing the road, which Beach calls “an act of heroic obstinacy and persistence against heavy odds.”

Beach’s analysis of the intercalary chapters suggests that they are the moral teachers of the novel, with the common theme of the common interest vs private and exclusive interest.  Beach later says that despite it’s brilliance, The Grapes of Wrath is unlikely to reach the audience size it needs to because of the “homeliness of the subject matter.”

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Mar 29 2018

Two Ways of Looking at To Kill A Mockingbird by Thomas DiPiero

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Dipiero believes that To Kill a Mockingbird is well loved because of its complex social, ethical, and moral issues brought to concern throughout the simple, beautiful narrative. Harper Lee’s first-person narrator is both knowledgeable and naïve. The children learn about courage and tolerance while witnessing the hardships of the South. The most important point DiPiero explains is that “we must all learn to see things from another’s point of view,” one clearly addressed by Atticus Finch to his children. When read by adults, it suggests that good will is all that is required to understand history and the circumstances that have created each other. It is noteworthy when Atticus addresses the question of identifying others and explains it through metaphors. He states that the children must stand in someone else’s shoes and consider their perspective, and also climb into someone else’s skin and walk around in it. The is a difference between sympathizing with someone and appropriating their values and dreams. To Kill a Mockingbird is used to explain the harsh reality of history and the experiences that make people different. There is a difference between understanding others and imposing our views on them, a lesson we must learn.

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