Sunday, April 11, 2010

Wuthering Heights

I have read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. I particularly liked the ending, with Catherine and Hareton uniting. I feel like there is a deliberate ambiguity when it comes to Cathy and Catherine Linton. This ambiguity allows for the reader to begin to see both of them as one person. There also seems to be a fine line between intense love and hate. For my paper, I really want to compare and contrast Healthcliff and Catherine's relationship and the Hereton and Catherin Linton's relationship. Everything seems to have come full circle at the end, and that despite all the hate Heathcliff had brought to Wuthering Heights, in the end, it has become a peaceful and happy place. I also want to explore why Cathy and Healthcliff became so close, and I particularly am interested in Cathy's famous line of "I am Healthcliff." Both Healthcliff and Cathy think that they litterally are a part of the other. When Cathy is dying, Healthcliff says that he will forgive her eventhough with her death, his soul dies as well.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Creon, the Tragic hero

The tragic hero in Antigone is Creon because his hubris leads to his downfall, but he is still able to learn from it. He considers the death of his family members not only be his fault, but also be his fate. His fate wasn’t that all of his loved ones would die, rather it was that something would happen that would end his pride, or his hubris. Creon’s last line is that his “Fate has brought all of [his] pride to a though of dust.” He now has complete respect for the Gods and their laws, realizing that his power is not equal to theirs.

Creons downfall rids him of this pride, and as Choragos says in the end, “proud men in old age learn to be wise.” This suggests that while Creon’s entire family has died, these events are a part of his growth as a person, to the wise man he will ultimately become. This growth is characteristic of a tragic hero, because while all may seem destroyed for them at the end, they eventually In Creon’s case, his pride is replaced with wisdom.

Although the drama Antigone is primarily about respecting the dead and following a higher order, that of the gods, the drama also deals with the nature of governing a State and hubris. Creon begins to believe that he is the State because he says the “The State is the King” and that his “voice is the one voice giving orders in” Thebes. Creon’s belief in his power shows his hubris, since he believes his power and law is equal to that of the Gods.

During Haimon and Creon’s argument, Haimon says, “In the flood time you can see how some trees bend and because they bend, even their twigs are safe, while stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all.” Creon’s stubborn decision and complete confidence in his power causes his tree, or life, to be “torn up.” If he had only listened to. This power and hubris has turned the people against Creon, as Haimon noted that Thebes “is no City if it takes orders from one voice.” However, Creon’s pride has turned him blind to the grievances of his own people, making him an unpopular ruler. Antigone tried to explain this to Creon when she told him that everyone fears him, and are therefore unable to voice their true opinions. Creon ignores all of the warnings, highlighting his pride, but by the end of the drama, Creon realizes his mistakes and changes.

Anitgone is not a tragic figure in the drama because she does not change during the drama. She was always in the right from the beginning of the drama because she respected the gods. However, she does have other flaws, such as her headstrong personality. For someone so concerned for her dead brother, Antigone shows little loyalty or love to her living family members. By giving her sister the ultimatum to either be with her or forget her, she shows the worst part of her stubbornness. Her stubbornness can also been seen as pride, as she refuses her sisters wish to die by saying that she will not allow Ismene to “lessen her death by sharing it.”

While Creon and Antigone both share this family trait of pride, it is only Creon who is rid of it at the end of the drama, making him the true tragic hero because he is fully able to realize his downfall.

Friday, February 5, 2010

DON'T batter my heart...

Act gently with my heart, three-personed God,

For while sinning others beg for your wrath,

Believing death the quickest to salvation’s path,

I request of You, that my deeds will be laud.

My devotion to You, never has your enemy thawed.

Sinners see God’s imprisonment as freedom; hath

I, like a sovereign village to your commonwealth,

Shall repent myself for my characters you see flawed.

Yet, I should hope that you may love me even still,

For my unchanging loyalty you have seen, I possess

Delight in my free will and faith in your just skill.

Still, fear in You consumes many I must confess,

Because even though a dog may treat life as a game,

It shall always strive to please its master just the same.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Part II

Part II of Waiting for the Barbarians introduces the "barbarian girl." The Magistrate's relationship with her is the center focus of this section. One "side event" is when the Magistrate buys the fox club, which may have been intended to give the girl some company. The Magistrate notes that, at first, "she took it with her to the kitchen, but it was terrified by the fire and noise" (34).
The magistrate will "dispose" of it when the fox is old enough, but the fox is not mentioned again in the section, so what exactly is its purpose.
The magistrates inability to domesticate the fox is apparent when he says that "it cannot be house-trained." He calls the fox wild and jokes that "people will say I keep two wild animals in my room, a fox and a girl" (34).
The girl's reaction indicates that she is offended: "her lips close, her gaze settles rigidly on the wall, I know she is doing her best to glare at me" (34).
What is the importance of the fox club to their relationship? Is the fox something like the barbarian girl?

Initial reactions

The magistrate’s relationship with the barbarian girl is a strange one that I still don’t understand.
He is obsessed with knowing what happened to her, when he says “it has been growing more and more clear to me that until the marks on this girl’s body are deciphered and understood I cannot let go of her.” (31) He genuinely seems to care about her when he starts to ask guards about what happened to her, and his bathing her can be seen as an act to clean the barbarian girl of both her scars from the guards and her own barbarianism.
His relationship with her has complicated his views on the Empire. He rants on about how the empire should leave the frontier and let the barbarians have their land to the new officer. The new officer is obviously pro-empire, so why would the magistrate discuss “pro-barbarian” views that he himself isn’t entirely sure of? The discussion still does not clarify what the magistrate’s view are, but it indicates a level of indifference to the subject. He seems to know that what he is doing is detrimental to his reputation, yet he cannot make himself stop taking in favor of the barbarians. As he opens up, he says that he feels a “barrier between the military and the civilian,” so are these views that most of the civilians living on the frontier share?
After all of this, then why does he take her back to the barbarians? She had indicated that she missed her sister, but she had never talked about returning. She seems to have grown accustomed to the way of life in the frontier, and she has even made friends with the other woman. When she is finally taken away, she tells him that she didn’t even want to go back in the first place. The magistrate regrets his actions, wishing he would have spent more time with her. He realizes that she was a “witty” girl, and he almost feels “proud” of her, yet he lets her leave.
Their relationship is like one that many barbarian women have had with other officers; however, their relationship is still different as it is complicated, and it is the most interesting part of the story so far.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Peter Brooks, An Unreadable Report: Conrad's Heart of Darkness

  • Narrative and organization is in the tradition of nineteenth century literature; however, it has a modernist twist because it includes "inconclusive solutions to... the problematic status."

  • Framed story restricts us from completly understanding Marlow and Kurtz

  • There is a disproportion between the ordering systems used and their effect, and that suggests that the realtionship between story and narrative plot is uncertain.

  • Marlow's narrative is like a detective's in that it attaches itself to another's story, retraces another's path, and repeats a journey already taken.

  • For Marlow, Kurtz is like the authority or "sanction" of narrative, so that Kurtz stands to help make sense of Marlow's life. Then end of the journey= ability to talk about the experience, a voice.

  • "The horror, " can represent the reversion to savagery (the fall of language) and/or express just how "unspeakable" the horrors are.

  • The nature of the frame story give it a never-ending quality, in that there is no end for Marlow. Since Marlow is "too late" in following Kurtz, the narrative suggests that no one can actually know the end.
  • Heart of Darkness has moderinst qualities because the story is being retold. the repetition of the story is "the product of failure" in the original telling ( Kurtz can't tell his own story and Marlow lies to Kurtz's Intended).
  • Emphasizes that Kurtz's story never ends, as it will continue to be retold.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quentin Compson's issue with time

I read "The Language of Chaos: Quentin Compson in The Sound and the Fury," by May Cameron Brown. It was published by Duke University Press in American Literature.

What was most interesting to me was that the author makes a direct connection between Quentin's breaking his grandfather's watch and his suicide. The watch represents the past, and "the breaking of the watch as the first action of the last day of his life represents his suicide"(546). The watch represent the old traditions of the Compson family, and ultimately, the old South. I had thought that Quentin's breaking the watch only represented his frustration with time in general, but Brown's interpretation is that Quentin is more frustrated with the present, since he "lives in the past," (545) and he expects to "continue the Compson line and preserve the tradition which is central to the Southern experience" (544).

Quentin's frustration also comes from his failures as a brother and as the eldest son of the Compson family. His old southern views are no longer relevant in the present, and his “inability to find and express a meaning in his experience—all reflect the decaying world which is at the heart of the novel,” (544) drives his depression and ultimate suicide. Brown views Quentin’s experience with the Italian child as a parallel to his relationship with Caddy, just as he “fails the Italian girl as surrogate brother in the present, so Quentin has failed Caddy as a real brother in the past” (546).

In class, we had discussed the significance of the word temporary during Quentin and Father’s conversation in the final days of Quentin’s life. We had concluded that the word temporary drove Quentin to suicide, as he felt guilty and upset his feelings were not important enough to last longer. Brown mostly agrees with this theory, adding that his anger with his temporary feelings also comes from the realization of the end of the old Southern values that had defined him for so long.