Thursday, April 3, 2008

Reflective Essay

I have never felt more exhausted over school than senior year. Entering English Honors, I didn’t know what to anticipate. I knew that there would be a lot of work, but I didn’t know it was going to be this much work. Walking into the English classroom, immediately I began to feel intimidated by the teacher who welcomed us into his classroom of scattered tables in different sizes and colors.

The year started with summer reading assignments just like the other three years of high school. Each year students were responsible for reading a book or two then they were required to take a test. The tests were not a problem for me and I felt confident that this class would not be a challenge. I was sure that there was nothing to worry about English 12 Honor, but then we were introduced to Explication. Never have I heard of this form of writing called an explication before. It was something new to me and to write a paper on something that I didn’t know how to do was going to be disastrous and nevertheless it did come out disastrous. For the first quarter, every explication I did came with a low score. The highest was a 70. I couldn’t believe in what I was seeing. I was trying so hard and spending hours trying to achieve a great essay, but something was missing. I couldn’t quite catch on what was considered explicating and so I struggled. I started questioning myself if I have been writing papers the wrong way because nothing I wrote was good enough. Unable to write a good paper, this brought my grade down. I felt really disappointed in myself and I started to not enjoy the class and felt even more intimidated by my teacher. I was completely stressed and overwhelmed by the class. I almost reached to a point where I hated English class because it was taking over my life. I would stay up late to write an essay and end up getting a low grade after spending hours on it. I was confused.

Instead of giving up, my motivation boosted. I’m not the kind of person who gives up so easily and won’t be satisfied until I do achieve what I want and for English it was to get an “A+” in Explication Essays. Strangely, I started focusing on English more than the other subjects. English somehow became a priority to me. I would commit myself to doing English homework over my AP Class work. By second quarter, the class started to read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. This time I wasn’t going to blindly write my essay. Instead I would seek help from my teacher. I knew that what i needed was an example to show me how to do it, but I was afraid to seek help earlier. I was upset with why I wasn’t getting this by myself, but I couldn’t let myself go through the same thing over again. Speaking with my teacher over organizing my essay and my ideas for the first time, it helped me greatly because i needed the help but i was in denial. As a result, I received my first A- for an explication. I was filled with unspeakable joy. Slowly but surely, I started seeing a difference in my grades. It began to rise each quarter. With the A-, it really motivated me to get an even better grade the next time and it did continue to progress from there. I started to receive positive feedback. With all the other assignments that we were given like the Olson creative project, it helped spark my creativity and the way i analyzed text. Writing the Joyce Paper and Tom Phillips Explication didn't seem so hard anymore and finally i received the A+ that I so greatly desired and this showed me that I was progressing. I couldn’t have been happier.

My view in English started to turn around. When we got into Hamlet, I started to enjoy English class. There was a time where we missed the class for about a week and I said to my friend, “hey, for some odd reason, I actually miss having English class.” This change came so sudden, but it was a sincere feeling because I did miss performing scenes in class and having the laughs. I also found myself to be more open and finally being myself. In the beginning of the year, I was shy and afraid to talk during class discussions because I would feel like what I had to say was going to be wrong and I would always loose my thought. By third quarter, I felt like I was being who I am and showing myself. I acted as Ophelia and sang in class when most people were hesitant to. I didn’t care if I was going to embarrass myself because it was all for humor and I found my teacher quite humorous at times and this allowed me to enjoy English class.

Overall, this year has been a learning experience for me. I started out not getting the grades that I wanted because of Explications, but because of the feedback that I was getting, the practice, and examples from my peers, I learned how to write a well written explication. My conception of the class has changed positively and I’m glad that my year ended this way.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Notebook

Topic: Bird Imagery

Chapter One

"The vances lived in number seven.They had a different father and mother. They were Eilee's father and mother. When they were grown up he was going to marry Eileen. He hid under the table. His mother said : - O Stpehen will apologise Dante said: - O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.

Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes.

Pull out his eyes,
Pull out his eyes,

[The novel starts out in a childish manner as if the narrator is telling a story "Once upon a time.... there was a moocow...." Stephen Dedalus is the protagonist and he tells us a little about his family and his dreams.]
Stephen then talks about this neighborhood girl who he likes and hopes to eventually marry, but Dante refuses. It's as if Stephen had done something wrong. Eileen was a girl of another religion and Dante didn't like that so she threatens Stephen for thinking about marrying Eileen. She says that eagles would come and pull out his eyes and I think that may have frightened him because he seemed hypnotized by the statement. When i was reading the "pull out his eyes... apologise..." part, it reminded me of my experience watching Ted Berigan's Youtube video of the cutting prow. I felt like i was being hypnotized and it was something hard to get over so i think the eagles may either come back later on or it may be foreshadowing a stronger impact that birds will have on him.
I also think that the eagles or birds are a symbol of Stephen because when I think of eagles, I think of freedom. This novel in general is the maturing of a young man. When a person grows up, he or she learns to do things on their own to be independent. Stephen is like an eagle because he's learning to fly and to be free from being young and inexperienced. When i think of eagles, i also think of power and strength. Stephen already feels much more mature compared to the other kids in his age and that separates his character, making him above everyone else. His character is different and that's what makes him so interesting.
I also thought that the eagles may be referencing to something in religion because Dante was the one who threatened him with the eagles and she's a strong catholic believer. Eagles are actually a symbol of Christ which i thought was interesting. The idea of Christ coming to bite his eyes out for committing a sin of wanting to marry a Protestant girl seems nonsensical. Hamlet struggles to believe in religion.

Chapter Four

"Now, at the name of the fabulous artificer, he seemed to hear the noise of dim waves and to see a winged form flying above the waves and slowly climbing the air. what did it mean? Was it a quaint device opening a page of some medieval book of prophecies and symbols, a hawklike man flying sunward above the sea, a prophecy of the end he had been born to serve and had been following through the mists of childhood and boyhood a symbol of the artist forging anew in his workshop out of the sluggish matter of the earth a new soaring impalpable imperishable being."

This paragraph reveals a clear image and connection to the Myth of Dedalus and Icarus. The "winged form" and "hawklike man" being Dedalus. James Joyce even makes it clear "what did it mean". The bird imagery throughout the novel was a "prophecy of the end." Stephen's character was born to follow the myth, from his childhood to growing up. What makes this passages connected to the myth is the idea of flight, flying sunward, which Icarus did but he died. Also, the sea is a big part of the myth. Icarus falls in the vast deep sea. Stephen during Chapter Four also goes to the ocean and sits there. This paragraph foreshadows Stephen's fate, possibly Stephen will meet his downfall similar to that of Dedalus and Icarus.

"His throat ached with a desire to cry aloud, the cry of a hawk or eagle on high, to cry piercingly of his deliverance to the winds. This was the call of life to his soul not the dull gross voice of the world of duties and despair..."

In this passage, Stephen possesses animal-like features. He is portrayed like and animal who's crying for help. His uproar is like one of a hawk or eagle. it felt like he was caged and trapped. It reminds me of "the heavy bird" in Chapter One. I could almost feel him struggling when he says "His throat ached." i also think that Stephen needed to purge his "sins" and this was a way to do it. Screaming out loud allows one to let go of ourselves for a moment. It is a method used to purge oneself from our sins similar to how some characters jump into the sea to wash away their sins. I can see Stephen starting to mature.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Winter Break Reading Assignment

A Thousand Splendid Suns

>>>Hosseini ends Part Two with four short passages. Explain the significance of each one to the rest of the book. Who are the characters that are referred to and what is the significance of some of the imagery? Please reference later examples in the book.

>>>Trace the changes that the character Mariam experiences throughout the book.

1. At the end of Part Two, Laila is preparing to leave Herat with her parents. Before they could leave, a rocket falls down on them and explodes. It sends Laila flying and she is hurt and half awake. the first person she sees is a woman who is Mariam. "A fourescent light shines" (174) above Mariam. She comes to Laila as a savior and as a sign of hope. Mariam appears angelic. Then another face apears infront of her and this time it's a man. The man is Rasheed and Laila's reaction toward him is "It hurts. It hurts to breathe. It hurts everywhere." This foreshadows Rasheed's violent manners later in the novel when they get married. Rasheed would abuse Laila and Mariam when they didn't follow Afghanistan culture and traditions which says men are the dominant gender. Then she sees Mariam's face again when she opens her eyes. Laila describes her features this time and their eyes meet. When two eyes meet, it represents a bond and connection, which they form later on. They form a mother and daughter relationship after understanding where they both were coming from and by page 224, "they were not enemies any longer." Mariam becomes Laila's closest friend and family. The last short passage describes Laila's past. Laila is dreaming at this point. She sees Babi and Mammy flying in the sky. She hears an accordion playing, the sound of her life before the accident. Now "a deep hush falls over everything" (175). A new life would begin for Laila. It gives the reader hope. It's also evident that Mariam and Rasheed are the "man" and "woman" because it is revelaed int he next chapter.

2. In the beginning of the novel, Mariam is only 15 years old and she lives with her mom Nana. Mariam choses to believe Jahil over her mother, who later abandons her. She wasn't allowed to do anything that normal girls did like go to school. Her life revolved around "only one skill. And it's this: tahamul. Endure." (17). As a woman, she had no power. Even in marriage, the husband was chosen for her. She could only adapt to what was happening. This made her a stronger person. She gradually starts to mature after marriage. When Lauila comes along. Marian fights for her husband. She speaks for herself when she refuses "to be your [her] servant" (202). For years, Mariam has taken violence from Rasheed. Rasheed would kick her, throw her against the wall. She was vulnerable, but Mariam becomes a hero at the end of the novel. Mariam takes a shovel and kills Rasheed for strangling Laila. Mariam held courage and power at that point. She even took responsibility for the killing and took guilty for the death. She told Laila to leave. Mariam became a hero and mother to Laila. She saves Laila and Mariam goes to jail where she dies. Her death demonstrates a honorable action, which makes her the hero of the novel.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Act 3 -1 Hamlet's Soliloquy Blog

Kenneth Branagh’s version of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy demonstrates Hamlet’s nature the best with his use of tone, detailed facial expressions, and distinct movements. With the choices that Kenneth makes, he portrays Hamlet’s thoughts clearly and in a subtle way.

The scene starts with Hamlet standing still in front of a large mirror that reflects his whole body. The room is quiet, no music is played in the background, and the only voice heard is Hamlet’s. It grabs the viewer’s attention when Hamlet is the only one speaking because this allows for the reader to fully concentrate on Hamlet’s words. It also gives the impression that Hamlet is telling a secret as he whispers the words in a subtle tone. This subtle tone serves Hamlet well because Hamlet’s character is crafty and scheming.

Then he begins to recite the famous line “To be or not to be, that is the question…” (55) as he gazes deeply into the mirror. At this moment, Hamlet questions himself whether he shall live or die. Compared to the other two versions, this is the only version in which Hamlet actually looks at himself rather than at the camera when he speaks his soliloquy. It clearly shows that he is talking to himself because he looks at nothing but himself. He disregards everything, but his own thoughts. Even the room that he is in is filled with mirrors. Where ever he may look, Hamlet is trapped within his body and mind. The first two versions show Hamlet speaking to the camera so this conflicts with what a soliloquy should be because it is as if Hamlet is now speaking to the viewer and that there is someone there.

As Hamlet speaks more of his thoughts, he slowly steps closer and closer towards the mirror without ever taking a glimpse away. As he walks closer to the mirror, it signifies his path into discovering his intentions and the truth. He looks deeper into his eyes as he walks closer. Eyes are a symbol of truth and his thoughts become clearer when he walks closer to the mirror to focus on his eyes. First he questions whether he shall live or die, but then he talks about the pros and cons of life and death when he says “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and, by opposing, end them?” (56-59). Hamlet struggles to choose whether to put up with all the downfalls of life or to just simply put an end to it by dying. Then his thoughts become more specific as he walks even closer to the mirror. Hamlet begins to discuss the meaning of death when he says “to die, to sleep- no more- and by a sleep to say we end the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to-”(59-62). Death is like sleeping when all seems quiet and at end, but “to sleep, [there is a] perchance to dream” (64). Even though dying may appear to be a solution to the end of all the humiliation that life brings, it is still uncertain what happens when one is dead and that is why humans fear death.

After Hamlet speaks about death, music starts playing in the background. The music plays the sound of evil cries and the mood of Hamlet’s soliloquy starts to switch. Hamlet focuses more on the negatives of life. He describes examples of human humiliations like “th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of th’unworthy takes” (70-73). Hamlet’s tone gets louder and he appears angry when he says this. When he takes out his dagger, Claudius’s face appears for a split second. Hamlet has always planned to seek revenge for his father and with the appearance of Claudius in a fearful posture and Hamlet with his small dagger tightly gripped in his hands; it foreshadows Hamlet’s desire to kill Claudius and the true intentions of Hamlet. However, when Hamlet takes out his dagger, he points it toward the mirror where his reflection is. It symbolizes Hamlet challenging himself because he is still afraid of the “dread of something after death” (77) and the “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns” (78-79), which means hell or the world of the dead.

He gives an evil smirks at the thought of taking revenge for his father and his eyes narrow with anger. He points at his head with the dagger. The thought of death still frightens him as it “puzzles the will” (79) to revenge. While pointing at his head, he says that “conscience does make cowards of us all” (82). Hamlet uses the dagger to point out the evils of his mind and conscience because at times Hamlet thinks too much and this weakens him, causing him to be in doubt. Finally Ophelia appears, and Hamlet makes a flawless transition from his evil smirk to a smile, demonstrating Hamlet’s ability to “act.”

In conclusion, Kenneth Branagh is able to achieve Hamlet’s character for being the manipulative character that he is by using a subtle tone to speak the soliloquy, a reflective setting, and the proper expression for each line.

March 11, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Explication

James Joyce

Stephen’s Flight from Women; A New Beginning
February 6, 2008

In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, women pose a threat to Stephen’s bildungsroman as they try to control Stephen by providing physical pleasure that men naturally seek. Feminist Dorothy Dinnerstein explains in The Mermaid and the Minotaur, that it is a woman who serves as “every infant’s first love, first witness and first boss… the initial experience of dependence” (318). By nature, men are attracted to woman for their warmth and comfort, but as Stephen gets closer to his mother, Dante, the prostitute, or the Virgin Mary, they weaken him, stripping him away from his masculinity. James Joyce uses the imagery of the womb to demonstrate Stephen’s vulnerability for the “maternal flesh”. However, it is also the experience with the maternal flesh that helps him realize the need to break away from the shackles of women in order to become an artist. Because Stephen can’t physically give birth like a woman, he learns that he can create art and actually have control over his life.

Starting at an adolescent age, Stephen quickly learns that women only exist to threaten him. In the first Chapter, Stephen tells his mother that he hopes to marry Eileen when he grows up, but this is highly unacceptable for Dante. As the Catholic governess of the Dedalus children, Dante plays a mother-like role over Stephen. Dante would “give him a cachou every time he brought her a piece of tissue paper” (21) as if she is training him and teaching him to become what she wants him to become. She places control over young Dedalus. Her actions are manipulative like an adult trying to win over a child by giving him or her candy. Because she holds such strong religious values, she has already planned for Stephen to become Catholic like her. Dante refuses to have Stephen marry a Protestant girl and scolds him for such unconventional thoughts. To cleanse Stephen’s foolish thoughts, she threatens him to “apologise” (21) or else “the eagles will come and pull out his eyes” (21). His mother, being the closest person that he knows, doesn’t support him, but instead she sides with Dante and makes him apologize. Having to apologize to a woman is taking away his masculinity because men are supposed to be right at all times and never wrong. It is degrading for a man to apologize and it represents weakness. Stephen shows that he is affected as he chants “pull out his eyes, apologise, apologise, pull out his eyes.” (21). The graphical images of someone pulling out his eyes threaten him.

Even though his mother may have threatened him with Dante, it is also in human nature that men were born needing to be nurtured and loved. When a baby is born, the first thing the baby does is cry because he or she is scared and it is the holding or feeding of the mother that brings warmth to the baby. It calms the child down. Because babies are so adaptive to their mother, Stephen has trouble casting away from his mother. Even when babies grow up, they usually look for someone who posses the same nurturing methods as their mother. Stephen hoping to marry Eileen is just another “screen for a deeper love for [his] mother” (Cixous 281). Stephen’s intentions were just to play the role of a father and to be able to have someone to love and to be loved.

Because Stephen “sees his mother as a powerful and beneficent source of physical pleasure” (318), he becomes very dependent for her care and protection. Without his mother, Stephen can’t connect with any one else. Upon his entering of college, Stephen witnesses for the first time the hostile world. He feels extremely uncomfortable at Clongowes, where his parents left him. Stephen stands “on the fringe of his line, out of sight of his prefect” (21) and only wants to remain “out of reach” (21). It is as if Stephen had just been released from a womb and he was the baby. He feels “weak” (21) and “small” (21) and “his eyes are weak and watery” (21). When babies first come out, they share the same feelings that Stephen is getting. Stephen appears childlike, young, and in need of his mother. He has no options, but to stay there. “Like a heavy bird” (21), he was trapped within the school and couldn’t escape with all the heavy weight from people around him. The mother and Dante’s religious thoughts keeps him from being free.

Unprepared for a “world of social Darwinism where only the ruthless survive” (320), Stephen feels socially isolated from his new environment. He struggles to fit in with the pugnacious boys in the school like Heron or Wells. He feels different from them. Vincent Heron, an old school friend, resembles of a bird with “a bird’s face as well as a bird’s name” (78). His bird like qualities triggers Stephen’s earlier years when Dante threatened Stephen to apologize. The idea of losing his eyes marks the image of castration, unmanning him or becoming more feminine. Heron teases Stephen for being unmanly and this confuses him. Because Stephen does not smoke, Heron satirizes him by calling him a “model youth” (78) who “doesn’t smoke… doesn’t go to bazaars… doesn’t flirt… and doesn’t damn anything or damn all” (78). These were things that real men do, but Stephen didn’t like any of those things. Instead, Stephen enjoyed thinking about or looking at pretty flowers and colors. “He could not get out the answers for the sum, but it did not matter. Whites roses and red roses: those were beautiful colors to think of” (25). Inside of Stephen, his inner soul was the “anima, the feminine aspect of the psyche” (328). Stephen’s character is more feminine compared to the other boys and this becomes unacceptable in the world of Darwinism, a world of masculinity, because only the strongest can survive. Stephen feels small, frail, and like an outsider, making him lonely and emotional. Stephen doesn’t know what to do with his differences, but to just let them pick on him.

Wells also bullies Stephen for his feminine behaviors. He asks Stephen if he has kissed his mother goodnight and Stephen says yes. Wells begins taunting him for such action because in the male society, men are not supposed to kiss their mothers. Slowly, Stephen looses his masculinity and becomes more feminine. Then Wells decides to shoulder him into the square ditch where Stephen gets drenched in urine. The water is “cold and slimy” (23). Stephen “shivered and longed to cry” (23). The imagery of the cold ditch is similar to a womb. When babies leave their womb, they also feel wet, cold, and slimy. Stephen is now returning back to his womb where he can hide and escape from the hostile situation, but it is unmanning him because the idea of him wanting to hide in his mother is showing that he can’t defend for himself. He even thinks of his mother immediately after being bullied and falling into the ditch. “He longed to be at home and lay his head on his mother’s lap” (25-26). He imagines his mother sitting at the fire with “her feet on the fender and her jewelly slippers” (24). Stephen searches for comfort through imagination and thinks about her mother’s feet. Her feet provide him with something to connect with physically so he wouldn’t feel so isolated. However, Stephen appears to be very dependent of his mother because he would think of her feet just to feel close to her. Thinking of feet is something quite degrading. Every time he is bullied and made fun of, he would think of his mother, but thinking of a woman is weakening him. Stephen can’t be independent if he’s always seeking comfort and being a baby.

Even when the parents first dropped Stephen off at Clongowes, his mother had already weakened him before entering the real world. “His mother had told him not to speak with the rough boys in the college” (22) and gave him a kiss. Instead of telling his son to make friends in the new male dominated environment that he was about to enter, the mother didn’t want him to talk with any of the rough guys. It’s as if she doesn’t want her son to become one of them, which causes him to struggle with fitting in with the rest of the boys. Stephen was already a teenager preparing to go to college yet the mother was speaking to him like he was child, telling him what he can and can not do. Being able to be friends with the guys would probably have helped Stephen. His father on the other hand, gives him “two fiveshilling pieces for pocket money” (22), something concrete and useful as opposed to his mother giving him a kiss and crying. At that moment, his mother was “not so nice” when she cried. Crying only showed Stephen vulnerability and weakness. His father tells him to “never peach on a fellow” (22) instead as a survival skill in the real world. His mother’s way of support isn’t even helping him.

Beginning to feel that his mother is “not so nice” (22), he starts to move away from his mother’s and Dante’s influence. First substituting Dante with Father Arnall, the priest, because “Father Arnall knew more than Dante” (24). He begins to see the system of male authority and discipline from Father Arnall. He considers leading a devout Catholic life, until one day Stephen commits the shameful sin of female temptation. Stephen shifts back to needing a woman for comfort again.

Stephen earns a cash prize and plans to have a nice family dinner. Stephen gets excited over the opportunity to bring his family closer, but soon he realizes that “his household returned to its usual way of life” (97). Stephen feels foolish and useless for having failed.

He saw clearly too his own futile isolation. He had not gone one step nearer the lives he has sought to approach nor bridged the restless shame and rancour that divides him from father and mother and brother and sister. He felt that he was hardly of the one blood with them but stood to them rather in the mystical kinship of fosterage, fosterchild and fosterbrother. (97)

Stephen feels once again out of place and isolated, but this time from his own family. He tried to bring his family together over dinner, but instead nothing changed after all the effort he put into it. He feels like he is not part of the family and “hardly of the one blood” (97). Stephen feels emotionally hurt by his family so his subconscious instinct which was “possessed by a magic not of himself…” (Beauvoir 150), “does not obey him” (Beauvoir 150). It leads him to envision women, “a figure that had seemed to him by day demure and innocent came towards him by night through the winding darkness of sleep” (97). Stephen can’t control it, but to return back to having female desires every time he feels weak. When he meets the prostitute, Stephen becomes emotionally and physically sucked in by her. Feminist believed that men had only one way of thinking and that Stephen’s “ambition throughout the novel [is] to deflower” (322) woman. Since Stephen has physically removed himself from his mother, naturally men feel the need to fill in the gap that is created when they are separated from their mothers. In this case, the prostitute substitutes the mother because he can’t go to his biological mother anymore after realizing that it was wrong to have sexual desires for his own mother. “The perfumed female who takes him in her arms recalls his nice-smelling mother” (325). The mother and the prostitute resemble one another in his mind. He’s starting to returns back to his child-like stages of being taken care of. “Seeing her face lifted to him in serious calm and feeling the warm calm rise” (99). He felt comfort and calm like a baby being soothed as he saw her face. She leads the boy into a womblike chamber. Stephen hides himself in the arms of the woman, allowing him to take refuge from reality. It becomes his place of peace like “he was in another world” (98). Instead of facing the brutal world, Stephen runs away from the truth and the womb serves as a shield. It’s only making him more and more useless because he’s becoming too dependent of having a woman there to comfort him that it’s holding him from his flight.

In a similar way, the Virgin Mary also serves as a way of escaping reality. After committing his sin of sexual intercourse with the prostitute, “the Virgin becomes a postcoital Madonna offering refuge from the turmoil of hormonal agitation.” (326). When Stephen closes his eyes to “surrender himself to her [the prostitute]”(99), it resembles the surrender of a Christian to the Holy Spirit. He is using the church to make himself feel better by confessing his sins similar to the way he is using the prostitute to comfort him by imaging that he is in a womb. Having sinned, soon Stephen dedicates his life to self-discipline and control through daily prayers. It helps him mature as it restricts him from the thoughts of whores and virgins. However, he realizes that religion was not necessarily making him a better person because religion was only holding him back. He questions himself “I have amended my life, have I not?” (140). Stephen questioning himself demonstrates a slight change in his level of maturity. If he were to become a true Catholic, he would have to bear a boring life in the church. Stephen is unsure of himself and is having doubt, but now he actually has opinions over how he wants to live his life. Before he would only follow the words of others, particularly woman, thinking that they were always right.

Women so far have existed in Stephen’s life as sexual desires and physical pleasure, but after having sinned and feeling guilt, Stephen learns a lesson. He learns to grow out of having a woman there for him in order to feel safe. As he meets the beautiful seabird girl, he sees her in a more mature way. From afar, the woman appears as an “angel of moral youth and beauty” (156). Stephen only sees her as a work of art, something beautiful, and it demonstrates Stephen’s maturity and flight from woman. He doesn’t feel sexual attractions to her, but only hope to freeze life in a sacrament of art because “the aspiring poet knows that he may look but not touch, admire but not speak” (329). Stephen is in control now. Although Stephen is still being guided by woman, he now has a new found respect for them and a different kind of influence. He used to allow his mother and Dante to control him and he would describe the prostitute as something dirty, putting her down for making him sin. Now women exist as sacred temples of earthly beauty. Stephen becomes more attached with his artistic side. The seabird girl also represents freedom to Stephen as it symbolically represents the Myth of Dedalus and Icarus. The girl appears to him angelic and pure as she rises from the sea. It reminds Stephen that he can also live a happily life. “To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life!” (136). Even with all the ups and downs that Stephen had to experience, the falls and the triumphs, Stephen can still “recreate life out of life”(139), symbolizing his rebirth. Deciding to turn away from his mother and religion would only open up better opportunities for him.

Because of all the experiences and mistakes that Stephen has been through or committed, Stephen learns that he can be independent. The different influential women have shaped his life from being the young and baby-like Stephen to the more mature and artistic Stephen. He learns that the women in his life only serve as matriarchal threats because they are all taking away his masculinity by trying to control every aspect of his life and making him dependent of them. However, Stephen needs the experiences because with out ever feeling vulnerable, one can not grow successfully. One must needs to know what is wrong before they know what is right. Stephen has evolved from his younger years through the experience of temptation and then sinning. It made him feel guilty and this led to him going to church. Then Stephen realizes that the life of devotion and obedience did not suit him and instead he frees himself by leading a life on his own. At the end, Stephen leaves all that he has. He leaves his mother, religion, his home land, and this allows him to be the true artist that he is.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tom Phillips’ A Humument Explication 02.25.08

On page 104 of Tom Phillips’ A Humument, Phillip suggests that imagination is a beautiful art form allowing one to create an endless number of masterpieces. However, with this ability to create comes insanity. Like “alcohol”, the art of imagination intoxicates the mind causing reality to fade.

In viewing the page, a wide range of colors make up the piece. The colors are formed in a blotchy manner with no particular shape, size, or pattern. In one way it resembles an ink blot, allowing the viewer to conceive it in any way possible like a work of art that is open up for interpretation. In another, the colors represent imagination. There are no limits to the colors like there are no limits to the wonders of imagining. The colors evoke different emotions and it allows the viewer to interpret the different colors according to his or her own imagination.

The colors appear to be separated into a top and a bottom where the top uses darker shades of color as oppose to the bottom where lighter shades are used. The lighter colors suggest a sense of innocence in believing the imaginary. Often times children are the ones who play pretend and it seems innocent in the eyes of a child because it shows that they too can hold ideas, creativity, and “character”. In another view it is an innocent game that humans seek to escape from the brutal world. Imagination opens up opportunity to be “quite a different person (in) quite a different cause”. It’s interesting how the word “person” is camouflaged in manila color against the light orange blots. In the art of imagination, there is no true identity because identity can be changed and altered to anyone and anything. Instead, the true self is hidden and covered, but at the same time it is still there and visible. Being able to imagine gives the mind the ability to fabricate different reasons and causes to why things occur which is why imagination is beautiful and rich.

There are no limits to what one can be if one conceives imagination. It’s even possible to “character a sound”. The color pink circulates the phrase. Pink symbolizes hope and playfulness. It’s joyful and merry like the art of imagination because anything can be possible. Sounds can be characters. Characters can be sounds. The number of ideas is unlimited. It is something “beautiful”, but at the same time when a person makes believe of a person, place, or thing, it becomes “beautiful as well as nonsense” in the eyes of others. The idea of what is real is questioned.

The dark shades of red and purple suggest a negative perspective of the imaginary world. On the top, Phillip introduces the idea of pretending. He writes, “I feel somehow as if we were playing at ‘pretending’ now”. Pretending is a form of imagination where one makes believe or performs fictitious play. However, it seems nonsensical to be playing at pretending when pretending is already a way of playing. The art of pretending seems to have lost its charm on Phillip. His thoughts are graphical and his imagination is filled with “thoughts of the blood like alcohol”. It symbolizes the idea of intoxication where pretending has become an addiction. It’s no longer a fun innocent game, but like “a fresh packet” he seeks it like drugs. The colors red, purple, and blue circle the negative text. They are all very bold and vibrant colors that draw in attention, but together the colors are heavy and burdensome. It’s suffocating to look at when the colors conflict one another. Together the colors mark insanity.

Phillip appears to have lost his sanity as he strives deeper into the imaginary world. He writes “I was picture of him dyed and curly”. The word “dyed” puns for the word “died”. The image of a dead person bothers Phillip. It is the only complete sentence that he has circled and it is the only time in which he addresses himself and his feelings ever since the first line. Around the thought are pen marks that attract attention. The markings are stroked deeply and dark as if he is angry and mad. It is also the only text that is colored by the paint, signifying its significance. The text represents the imagination that he has created. Instead of fantasizing mirthful memories or ideal thoughts, the image of a dead man appears and this haunts him. The black markings signify fear and agony. It can also signify his confusion as he is unable to decide what is real.

Although it is difficult to define what is real and what is considered the imagination, Phillip nevertheless shows the beauty of the art through his splash of colors. However with the power to control in the imaginary world, it questions the idea of reality. Imagination starts to become the truth as reality shifts to a blur. Ultimately, it leads to harming the mind.

Literature Circles - Mrs. Dalloway Blog Posts

Post 1

Initially, i thought this book would be fun and easy book to read, but its been painful for me. By far, this is the first book that i have trouble understanding plot. I agree that mrs.dalloway is very different from other books. Particularly for its language. The author Woolf is very descriptive in all aspects of Mrs. Dalloway’s life and her surroundings. I’m trying really hard to catch on into what is happening but i found myself confused because i couldn't keep up with what the book was trying to say. i personally felt like it was jumping around into different things. There is way too many commas in each sentence. Also, it has mentioned a lot of names in a short period. However, it is interesting how Woolf describes each person and thing with great detail, but this book wasn't what i expected it to be like and i'm still trying to understand it.

So im not sure, but I think Mrs. Dalloway is going back and forth between the past and the present, which may be the reason why I am so confused. I don’t really know how old she is because I don’t think it has mentioned it, but I know that she is thinking back to when she was 18, which is written in the first page, “(for a girl of eighteen as she then was)”.

I also noticed the themes of age and death, mentioned by Faedhra. Mrs.Dalloway feels very young, but at the same time unspeakably aged. She mentions a lot about death on pages 8 and 9. I think death is something that she is afraid of and something that she doesn’t want to happen. I also liked how they mentioned the quote, “Fear no more the heat o’ the sun. Nor the furious winter’s rages,” from Shakespeare. I took the quote as their reminder to not fear death because it’s unavoidable. What did you guys make out of that quote?

December 2, 2007

Post 2

Connecting with Shakespeare, there was another quote on page 35, “if it were now to die ‘twere now to be most happy.” The quote is from Shakespeare’s Othello. In Mrs. Dalloway, the quote is referred to Mrs. Dalloway’s feelings upon her meeting Sally Seton. Before this quote Mrs. Dalloway returns home from buying flowers and proceeds upstairs to her solitary attic room. She picks up a book to read, but she couldn’t fall asleep in her narrow bed so she starts thinking about her childhood memories with Sally Seton. This quote along with her memory with Sally led me to question Mrs. Dalloway’s sexuality.

Initially the novel describes her as this innocent and pure woman, living in a “white” attic with “clean white sheets, white being a symbol of innocence, purity, light, as well as emptiness. She describes her relationship with Richard and how their love has faded over the years. She feels that she has lost him because she’s aging and “breastless” and unable to live the youthful life again for it was now “out of the window”. The man even decides to go to an “extraordinary amusing party” without mentioning or inviting his own wife. However, when she talks about Sally, she mentions the word “love” repetitively and her feelings for women.

“But this question of love (she thought, putting her coat away,) this falling in love with women. Take Sally Seton; her relation in the old days with Sally Seton. Has not that, after all, been love?”

Reading this, it really made me think that she might have been homosexual. The most sexual intimacy that Mrs. Dalloway has in the novel is not with her husband, but when Sally kisses her on the lips. She describes it as “the most exquisite moment of her whole life” (35). “She felt that she had been given a present, wrapped up, and told just to keep it, not to look at it- a diamond…” (35). For her to call it a diamond, it must have been a real precious gift and delightful experience. I really thought she was gay for a good couple pages and I’m still unsure if it’s true. I thought it might have been like a close sister-like relationship, but it just seemed too queer… to be that simple.

Even in other works of literature like Shakespeare, there are questionable phrases that may reflect on homosexuality as well. Is this purposely done or are people over thinking it like me? What did you guys think about their relationship?

Also, Mrs.Dalloway is a 52 years old woman to answer Faedhra's earlier question. (Bottom of p.36)

December 5, 2007

Post 3

Referring back to Faedhra’s first post, she made a comment saying that Mrs. Dalloway “wanted to be a more visible character.” I totally agree with Faedhra. Jessica also brought up the quote “She would buy the flowers herself” and I connected both ideas. I think that Jessica’s quote showed how Mrs. Dalloway wants to be the more visible character because the first thing we understand about Mrs. Dalloway in the book is the fact that she will buy the flowers herself because Lucy, her servant, was busy. It’s interesting for Woolf to start the book this way because by making that decision, it definitely made Mrs. Dalloway stick out. Mrs. Dalloway portrays independence and it’s much stronger because it’s coming from a women. Reading it, it made me feel like she was in control and had some sort of power.

However at the same time, I feel that this introduction also led to expose the flimsy lifestyle of upper class women. Even though she chose to go out and buy the flowers herself, she’s ONLY buying flowers and it’s such a simple task. Her life in general, only consists of throwing parties to gather friends and to show how great of a life she has with Richard. Just like how in today’s society, television shows like the Real Housewives of Orange County are broadcast to focus on the luxurious lives of rich women living in California. In my opinion, the women are purposely trying to show off what they have so people could envy them because they’re supposedly “rich and beautiful.” I think Mrs. Dalloway’s parties serve the same purpose, trying to cover up her weakness and the truth behind her and Richard’s faded relationship. Inside she’s a weak women because all she can do is throw social parties at her house. The parties in a way make her a stronger person because in those parties, it’s when she’s surrounded by the most people.

Now, I want to bring up the moment when there was as aeroplane in the sky. I thought this moment was quite interesting. Everyone in the streets stopped to figure out what the aeroplane was spelling which came out to be Toffee… I’m unsure why the message came out to be Toffee, but it didn’t even matter. It showed how everyone has different ways of interpreting things. The craziest interpretation of the letters was when Septimus thought that the letters were there sending him a coded message… As they tried to figure out the word, it was as if the people in society were trying to find meaning in their own lives because war had just ended so their confused with what to do. Do you guys agree with my theory??

Is it just me or do you guys find this book similar to the Portrait as well. There’s this stream of consciousness that exists in both novels and I can’t help but notice it. Both Mrs. Dalloway and Stephen notice things like the nature and they both have this way of talking to themselves like they are aware of everything. There is also this struggle with aging. Mrs. Dalloway has fears over getting old and becoming ugly, weak, and lonely. She wishes to be young again. Stephen, on the other hand, feels like he doesn’t fit in with the younger kids. He wants to grow up faster because he’s sick of being near foolish kids around his age. What do you girls think? Is there any other similarities?

December 7, 2007

Post 4

Before we end the first session, I just wanted to talk about Peter. Near the end of the first read, we learn about Peter through his point of view. Peter can’t seem to get over Clarissa. She is the first person he sees when he arrives and constantly he is comparing himself to Richard. I thought it was interesting that Woolf chose the name Richard which I think is simply because he’s “rich”. Peter “had no doubt about that; he was a failure, compared with all this, the inlaid table, the mounted paper knife, the dolphin and the candlesticks, the chain covers and the old valuable English tinted prints- he was a failure!” (43) He appears to be ashamed of himself and jealous of the Dalloways for everything that they have. Peter has no job and he knows Daisy is nothing compared to Clarissa. Daisy is the woman who Peter says he is in love with, but she is already married and has children so his life isn’t very successful. I don’t think he is really in love with Daisy, but she’s just a momentary replacement for him because everything that he talks about past or present involves Clarissa. However, I don’t really know why he’s so into Clarissa when he describes her of being “arrogant; unimaginative; (and) prudish” (59).

There was also another part that I didn’t understand what was happening. Starting on page 56 to page 58, it’s the part where he’s dreaming because it says that “he woke up with extreme suddenness” right after. I didn’t understand what was happening in his dream or what he was dreaming about and what it was suppose to signify so hopefully someone can help me out and give me just a brief summary when we start the next session.

December 17, 2007

Post 5

Reading the part where Peter and Lucrezia were in the same park (Regent’s Park?), I saw similarities between Peter’s and Lucrezia’s character.

Peter is unable to get rid of the past and the memories that he had with Clarissa. As he’s sitting on a bench, he thinks about the time when he confronted her about his feelings and how she rejected him. Peter cries “it was awful… awful, awful!” (64). Lucrezia expresses the same reaction when she sees Septimus’s actions. When he was talking to himself again, she says, “It was awful, awful!” (68). Both Peter and Lucrezia have precisely the same expression and that’s what links these two characters. Peter can’t seem to understand Clarissa. For example, he questions why she introduced Elizabeth as “Here’s my Elizabeth” and not simply “This is Elizabeth.” Like Peter, Lucrezia can’t understand Septimus’s insanity either. He talks to himself, sees dogs turn to men, and for a moment he even thought about committing suicide with her. Both of them are suffering at the same time because of love. They feel as if they don’t deserve to be suffering for someone who is not worth their time, yet they can’t let the person go.

Jessica made a comment of how Clarissa and Septimus were connected through being opposites and I think it’s interesting how Woolf makes another connection between Peter and Lucrezia. I think Woolf does this so the reader can easily compare the characters and it allows Woolf to make the smooth transitions between the different stories of each character. For example, when Peter Walsh meets the old lady who is singing, he feels sorry for the poor old lady and gives her a coin. Then a subtle transition occurs where it starts out “‘Poor old woman,’ said Rezia Warren Smith…” It was a smooth transition to change to Rezia’s point of view and their sympathy for the old woman was also another similarity between the two.

December 19, 2007

Post 6

I think the reason why Septimus married Lucrezia was only because he was losing himself after his best friend, Evan, died in the war. “ He couldn’t feel, but scissors rapping, girls laughing, hats being made protected him; he was assured of safety” (87). Lucrezia’s family was hat makers so the quote was referring to her. I think “hats” may be chosen specifically because it symbolizes warmth and protection. It was what Septimus lacked which is why Septimus felt protected around her. Also the way they were so busy cutting, trimming, and laughing made him feel less lonely and it was something for him to focus on. Septimus had basically lost his purpose of living because “he could not feel” and “even taste had no relish to him” (87). He held no emotions for anything that was happening around him. When he became engaged to Lucrezia, it happened “one evening” (86). It’s as if it just happened so suddenly that he didn’t even think about what he was doing because “panic was in him” (86). I think in a way he used her because he didn’t really love her, but needed the comfort and support since he was scared by his lack of emotions. Then on page 91, it says “how he had married his wife without loving her; had lied to her; seduced her” which explains clearly that he had no love for her. However, he does feel guilty because he knows that she was suffering as well. Each time she sobbed, “he felt nothing” (90) and all he could do was “descend another step into the pit” (90). I think with all the talk about death and dark imagery like “the pit”, it’s foreshadowing that Septimus will end up committing suicide.

December 19, 2007

Post 7

Wow Faedhra, I can see you did quite a lot of research.

I thought it was interesting how you talked about the solitary man and the song! and how it reflects upon Peter’s life. It makes sense to me now. Peter defines solitary, alone and without companion. He is basically this lonely guy who seeks for love. He loves Clarissa, but she rejected him and then with the new girl Daisy, she is already married to another man and has children. There’s no one there for him and he can only remain as the solitary traveler. You can definitely feel how lonely and alone he is when Woolf describes his walk in the park. He appears as this traveler or a passer-by who’s thinking to himself.

When he sat next to the old nurse, there was also this baby. Immediately I thought about the idea of “age” because beside him was someone who was young and old. It even said “he did want to be bothered (feeling a little drowsy as he did) by people asking him the time.”

Time seems to appear quite often in the novel and it makes me think that Peter may be afraid of aging just like Clarissa. Time is also difficult for Peter because he can’t seem to stay in the present, but always weaves in and out of time when he talks about the past and the future. His past comes to haunt him but it is the future which brings him hope and youth such as when he meets the young boys who are marching in the streets. He feels young again and later decides to follow a young woman who he imagines as his fantasized woman.

December 28, 2007