Thursday, April 21, 2011


"She was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed, her head hanging down, and her pale and distorted features half covered by her hair. Everywhere I turn I see the same figure - her bloodless arms and relaxed form flung by the murderer on its bridal bier. Could I behold this, and live?" (page 144)

Personally, I found this moment to be one of the most climactic of the entire novel. Victor's character has finally reached his breaking point, his epitome of sadness. He doesn't understand why he can't continue to go on with his life in peace and instead is having it ruined by a creation he made years ago. What I find most ironic is that Victor gave the monster life, but now the monster is choosing to live his life in a devotion towards ruining Victor's. How can he be okay with that after all that he learned about interpersonal relationships from the De Lacey's? Granted, yes, I understand that he has a tragic lifestyle and must deal with rejection, yet even still I feel like destroying Victor's life is the incorrect course of action. If anything, Victor was the one person in the world who had the potential of being the monster's friend. He created him, so he had no reason to run away in terror. And now that the monster lost his temper with him I don't really see that as being a possibility anymore. While Victor's flaw could be considered being too curious, I would say that the monster's flaw could be considered his uncontrollable rage/temper.


"At one time the moon, which had before been clear, was suddenly overspread by a thick cloud, and I took advantage of the moment of darkness and cast my basket into the sea." (page 125)

Of all the things I could have chosen to talk about, I am still surprised that this sentence struck me the most and really stood out from the others. Earlier in the novel, the monster compares himself to the Fallen Angel and to Adam, saying that his creator is like God who rejects him for what he is. Here, I could not help thinking about how casting a basket into the sea was just like the story of Moses. When his mother couldn't take care of him anymore because of current society, she floated him down the Nile in the hope that one day he would find someone who would treat him with love and affection. I am sure that he never finished this female monster later on, so it made me start to wonder if he'll ever start to understand love or be treated with it before he dies. Because a life without love seems like no life at all. Through this indirect allusion, I saw parallelism with the Bible and with Frankenstein. I wonder if that works for the book's favor in terms of popularity or not. I feel like that could be detrimental to a book's success if a person doesn't identify whatsoever with the religious affiliation there.

Internal Conflict

"It was, indeed, a filthy process in which I was engaged. During my first experiment, a kind of enthusiastic frenzy had blinded me to the horror of my employment, my mind was intently faced on the consummation of my labor; and my eyes shut to the horror of my proceedings. But now I went to it in cold blood, and my heart often sickened at the work of my hands." (page 120)

I thought that this little snippet did a fantastic job of conveying the internal conflict that Victor is currently feeling involving the monster. He literally feels so physically guilty for doing this that he lets it begin to take over his life and becomes a complete hermit. Aware of his unhealthy reaction the first time, he works harder to protect himself from insanity the second time around. I can truly empathize with him for not wanting to act on this mission due to how long his recovery took, but at the same time I sympathize with the monster. As much as I disagree with the creation and what he is doing, I must admit that I do think he has a point. If he has to be denied any form of companion or friend or acceptance due to his gruesome appearance, then I think that having a friend would really help him out. People by nature are social beings, so I can only imagine how difficult it would be to cease communication with everyone I know. I would probably go nuts too if I was left alone, and if everyone treated me like I had the plague I would probably turn cruel as well.


"From that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me, and sent me forth to this insupportable misery." (page 97)

At this time, the novel begins to take on a much more sadistic and malicious tone than it did before. Neglecting his melancholy tale, the monster begins to explain to Victor why he changed from a good-natured monster to a bad one. Stemming from nature v. nurture, it could easily be argued that the creation became the way he was due to other events around him. Because he was neglected and left with no companion, he was driven to look for some sort of friend elsewhere. Not stopping to think through the consequences, he decided to wage war against mankind for his frustrations and absolute misery. Although he was a kind being by nature, no one ever got to know him long enough to realize that because they were so hideously disgusted by his face and his terrifying nature. It just goes to show you how influential one's appearance can be.
Oddly enough, the creation didn't seem to think that Frankenstein's companionship would be enough. Instead, he used Frankenstein's brilliance as a weapon of manipulation : he asked for a lady creation in return for his disappearance.


"He loathed the idea that his daughter should be united to a Christian; but he feared the resentment of Felix if he should appear lukewarm; for he knew that he was still in the power of his deliverer if he should choose to betray him to the Italian state which they inhabited." (page 88)

To me, this little excerpt displays a sense of duty between two different characters. Felix felt a sense of honor and integrity in helping Safie's father escape from prison because he knew that he had been unjustly imprisoned. Convinced of his innocence, Felix could not stand by and allow him to be punished for no reason. Also, this shows that Safie's father wanted to at least pretend to be honorable and fair; as he was worried about appearing grateful. Originally he agreed that Felix could marry Safie, but later he changed his mind and tried to hide this fact from him. In fact, Safie finds out that her father has different plans for her when he tries to get her to move away after school. As anything else, the moment that the hapless teenagers are forbidden to love one another, they grow to understand each other and wish to be more than friends. Safie eventually escapes from her father's controlling grasp and marries Felix.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


As alluded to in John Milton's Paradise Lost, the monster entreats Victor to “remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel.”

This chapter is absolutely crucial to the reader's viewpoint of the monster. Formerly a grotesque, uneducated, and frightening being, he now becomes a sensitive being with intellect whom one can relate to. He shares his story with his creator and evokes a sense of guilt for how he abandoned him when he gave him life. This insight allows the reader to identify with him and sympathize for Victor's cruel and undeserved behavior he exerts towards him. One way that the monster demonstrates his recently acquired intelligence is through his allusion towards the book Paradise Lost. By making connections, it shows that he has reached a level of higher order thinking and is now truly a human being almost. He compares Victor to God for granting him life, but also places responsibility for his evil actions in Victor's hands. His argument is that because he failed to nurture and nourish him, Victor's neglect transformed him into a monster who did not know the difference between the two. This creates another elemental aspect of guilt, because the monster basically tells Victor that he is accountable for all of the bad things he has done. If he had been cared for, he argues that he would not have reacted that way.


"Thus spoke my prophetic soul, as torn by remorse, horror, and despair, I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves of William and Justine, the first hapless victims to my unhallowed arts." (page 60)

After Justine takes the blame for little William's death, she pledges her innocence to Elizabeth and Victor. This realization that Justice is going to be killed for a crime she didn't commit sends Victor over the edge. His feelings of guilt grow to almost an intolerable level, and he becomes even more resentful towards the monster he created. Seeing it as responsible for the death of two people he loved, these circumstances further Victor's hatred for the creature and make him realize he has to find a way to ensure its good riddance. This also gives Victor another element of power in the story since only he holds the knowledge that can save Justice. He is the only one who knows of the existence of the monster and is convinced of its guilt, but he is hesitant because he doesn't think that anyone will believe his story. Ironically, the character who is condemned to death for an act she didn't make is named "Justice". I don't think that's true justice at all, and I think that most people would agree with me.


"It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that i might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet." (page 35)

This was where Victor's tale actually began and the novel became a framestory. Something I found intriguing was that Mary Shelley originally started writing at this point and then added on the whole beginning of the novel at a later date. After reading the letters and first four chapters of the novel, I can't really imagine starting the book at this point instead and losing all of the knowledge I had gained previous to this point. I think that the beginning of this book is rather crucial to grasping the identity of the characters and the mystery of the plot. I was also sort of surprised at how quickly Shelley got to the description of the monster Victor created. She didn't really allow for time to build up suspense she just jumped right into the description of it. And, oddly enough, Frankenstein's monster didn't look anything like I imagined him too. The movies are a crock! Instead of being neon green with gruesome stitches, his "yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same color as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips." His description was something I found particularly interesting.

Random sidenote: the last time I read the phrase "dun-white" was in a Shakespearean sonnet written about his wife. I was impressed that I recalled that detail all this time later.


Walton: "...and devoted my nights to the study of mathematics, the theory of medicine, and those branches of physical science from which a naval adventure might derive the greatest practical advantage." (page 3)

Victor: "My application was at first fluctuating and uncertain; it gained strength as I proceeded, and soon became so ardent and eager, that the stars often disappeared in the light of morning whilst I was yet engaged in my laboratory. As I applied so closely, it may be easily conceived that my progress was rapid. My ardor was indeed the astonishment of the students, and my proficiency that of the masters." (page 29)

While there are many examples of how Walton and Frankenstein serve as paralleled characters in this novel, this was just one example backed with textual support. Both characters became extremely dedicated to their schooling in order to work towards their ultimate goal; to achieve the impossible. They realize the importance of deepening their education before this could become a possibility and therefore immersed themselves in their studies. Another similarity is how they both isolated themselves from their friends and families in order to work towards what they wanted most in life. They each gave up what was most important to them, meaning family, to focus on themselves and their own individual goals. In each circumstance, Victor and Walton also started to become obsessed with their goals. They neglected the other parts of their lives to focus solely on their aspirations. Walton wanted to sail to the North Pole and discover why compasses pointed North, and Victor wanted to discover how to create life from lifeless matter. Within their families, Walton and Victor have very close relationships with their sisters. In fact, Victor's mother mentions in the story that when they adopted Elizabeth her and Victor's father originally planned for them to become wedding partners. Weird.


"I see by your eagerness and the wonder and hope which your eyes express, my friend, that you expect to be informed of the secret with which I am acquainted; that cannot be: listen patiently until the end of my story, and you will easily perceive why I am reserved upon that subject." (page 31)

In class, my group was given guilt as one of its themes to pay particular attention to throughout the novel. Keeping that in mind, this excerpt stood out to me because it expressed guilt that Victor Frankenstein felt for infusing life into a lifeless being; hence, his nameless creation. What I found most interesting about the way he introduced this story to Walton was the way he kept the actual method of how he achieved it a secret. His reasoning was actually logical, saying that he refused to reveal how he did it in order to prevent anyone else from making the same mistake. Victor, guilt-ridden and distraught, felt a duty to warn Walton of his faults.
In my personal opinion, if I were Victor, I wouldn't feel as much guilt for creating the being as I would feel guilty for neglecting it immediately afterward. Realizing that he had underestimated his actions, he flees from what made and tried to run away from it instead of dealing with the problem at hand. If he had truly regretted his actions, I think that he should have found a way to terminate its life in the beginning of its existence before letting it even expose itself to society.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Resolution & My Thoughts Duo

"His eyes met mine so keen and fierce, I started; and then he seemed to smile. I could not think of him dead; but his face and throat were washed with rain; the bed-clothes dripped, and he was perfectly still... when I put my fingers to it [his skin] I could doubt no more: he was dead and stark!" (page 412)

To be honest, I thought that after reading so in depth about these characters' lives, the novel itself ended somewhat abruptly and left the ending so that the reader could interpret it how he or she wished. The entire novel is focused around love: unrequited love, forbidden love, love that cannot be acted upon, anguished love... the list is long. What most astounds me is Heathcliff - as hateful as he is, he never stopped loving Catherine throughout his entire life and feelings never once changed for her. He spends half of the novel talking about how we wishes for nothing more than to join her in death in order for them to be together again, and at the end Nelly narrates his eventual demise. Essentially he caused it himself because he decided not to eat for four days, but who's counting anyway? As the novel progressed, Heathcliff kept getting crazier and crazier; the ending was not surprising to me how he finally decided to give up on life. The way he died seem sort of uncomfortable, but it wasn't my death so I guess my opinion on the matter isn't the most imporant factor as it is. To me, I didn't really feel as though many of the conflicts had been resolved in this novel before its endings. Heathcliff was still crazy, and two characters died while still pining for Cathy. The only dynamic change that I can sense is Mrs. Heathcliff and it involved her total transformation in her treatments towards Hareton. If they were to end up together it would make this whole novel seem worthwhile because a love story have actually worked out.

Dynamic Character

"Earnshaw was not to be civilized with a wish, and my young lady was no philosopher, and no paragon of patience; but both their minds tending to the same point - one loving and desiring to esteem, and the other loving and desiring to be esteemed - they contrived in the end to reach it." (page 389)

With so many flawed characters to keep track of - Cathy, Heathcliff, Edgar, Isabella... - I started to wonder if there were going to be any significant dynamic changes in anyone. When Cathy and Edgar's daughter, Catherine, was manipulated into moving to Wuthering Heights, she originally changed for the worse. I was disappointed because I thought that the one happy character that I had been able to count on throughout the novel had finally come to her end and would eventually allow Heathcliff to break down her spirit. Fortunately, she continued to defy him and never departed from her fiery and indignant countenance. However, the most surprising aspect to Catherine's character was her behavior towards Hareton. At one time she sobbed at the idea that she was even related to such an "ignorant ruffian", but by the end she is educating him and it is clear that she adores him. Ellen tells Lockwood how they came to fall in love and how she decided to educate him so that he could not longer be stuck in ignorance. Somehow, against all odds, Catherine underwent a complete transformation and developed an unexpected friendship with Hareton. I was happy for him because I thought he was one of the misunderstood characters earlier in the novel. Personally, I liked this unexpected twist.


"Heathcliff, if I were you, I'd go stretch myself over her grave and die like a faithful dog. The world is surely not worth living in now, is it? You had distinctly impressed on me the idea that Catherine was the whole joy of your life: I can't imagine how you think of surviving her loss." (page 219)

This is one of my favorite moments in Isabella's dialogue with Heathcliff because I feel as if it's the ultimate burn for the year 1801. After Heathcliff tricks her into marrying him, he immediately starts treating her like garbage and she gets stuck in a relationship that she doesn't deserve. Although her tone is clearly bitter, angry, and resentful here, I have to admit that I think she is somewhat justified in her cruelty. Whereas she doesn't deserve the animosity that Heathcliff shows her because she had no control of Catherine's death, he completely does deserve the cruelty she shows him because he is so mean to everyone around him. Throughout this novel, I think that the overall tone tends to be one of a more "dismal spiritual atmosphere" and is somewhat gloomy. It's centered around love and anguish, and tends to be more negative rather than a novel of romantic happiness. The writing style is not what was typical of the time period, but that's why I like it. I think that Emily Bronte effectively wrote a novel that differed from all others in her time; essentially making this piece timeless today.

Situational Irony

"Linton denied that people ever hated their wives; but Cathy affirmed they did, and, in her wisdom, instanced his own father's aversion to her aunt...'Well I'll tell you something,' said Linton. 'Your mother hated your father: now then. And she loved mine,' added he." (page 295)

There was something about this passage that struck me. It was comical to me that both characters (meaning Catherine and Linton) were utterly convinced of their own side of the story but knew nothing of the other's. It was a perfect demonstration of how contrasting Edgar and Heathcliff were of each other and how they passed on their biased views to their children. It's also really interesting how interconnected all of the characters are in this novel. And I'm sorry, but am I the only one who finds it slightly disturbing that Catherine married her cousin? And then when he died she fell in love with her other cousin. Either way, the characters in this literary work are a little too close for comfort. In fact, the entire plot is a situationally ironic circumstance in my opinion because it is so far-fetched.


"The nuisance of her presence (Isabella's) outweighs the gratification to be derived from tormenting her!" -- Heathcliff (pg.188)

After marrying Isabella, Heathcliff wastes no time in telling her that he doesn't actually care for her, he just found their marriage to be convenient. His motivation for doing it was the knowledge that it would upset Edgar above all else, and he knew it would allow him to start conniving his way into attaining Thrushcross Grange for himself. If Isabella outlived Edgar, which was likely at the time, the Grange would become her property and therefore in his control. Throughout Wuthering Heights, I find most of Heathcliff's motivations for his actions to be rather interesting. It's almost as if he wants everyone around him to be more miserable than he is because of the overwhelming grief he feels for Cathy's demise. Though I sympathize with him to an extent, for the most part I find his actions to be unpredictable and overly cruel. I keep thinking that at some point in this novel he is going to change dynamically and become a benefactor, but so far I have been entirely incorrect in that conjecture. He truly is one of the coldest characters I've come to know.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

my thoughts

"I was amazed, more than ever, to behold the transformation of Heathcliff. He had grown a tall, athletic, well-formed man; beside whom my master seemed quite slender and youth-like. His upright carriage suggested the idea of his having been in the army. His countenance was much older in expression and decision of feature than Mr. Linton's; it looked intelligent, and retained no marks of former degradation." (pg 118)

Personally, I have really enjoyed this novel so far. I like how the characters are atypical of that of a normal love story, and I like how Heathcliff is not what one would consider a romantic hero. While it is true that sometimes I think he is overly cruel, it is also refreshing to not be able to predict anything he is going to do. The question that I keep asking myself as I read this story is which character should I pity the most. Many would argue that Heathcliff is too cruel to deserve sympathy, but I almost think that he is the one that deserves the most due to his history. If Catherine had not broken his heart at such an early age, he may have turned out completely different. I like to imagine what Heathcliff would have been like if he had been the one to marry Catherine instead, but that is equally difficult to picture. For example, if he had never run away then he probably would not have been motivated to become educated or rich. For reasons like these, I am happy to an extent that he left Wuthering Heights for a short time. Once he became educated and wealthy, Catherine had no grounds left to criticize him for.


Setting ---> Moors
"This is certainly a beautiful country!" (pg 3)

Throughout the novel, I have found the setting to be significant through the repetitive mentioning of the moors. As the book begins, the moors are immediately described as " completely removed from the stir of society" and are viewed as isolated. To me, this resembles Heathcliff's detachment from society and gradual resignation from the world. Even the novel's title is based off the rugged setting of the storyline. "Wuthering", as the narrator explains, is a local adjective used to describe the fierce winds that blow during storms on the moors. Oftentimes, storms or cold weather are mentioned as further evidence of the novel's overall tone of unhappiness. At one point, I noticed that the moors even seemed to match Cathy's emotions during significant moments. After she realized that Heathcliff had run away, she stood outside in "the growling thunder, and the great drops that began to splash around her" didn't affect her as "she remained, calling at intervals, and then listening and then crying outright" for Heathcliff to come back. Here, I thought that the weather obviously correlated with her internal struggle and her desperation for Heathcliff to return home. Just as the moors are wild and unpredictable, so is the character of Catherine.

Figurative Language

"My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I'm well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being." (page 102)

This was one of my favorite moments in the novel thus far. It is within these few sentences that Catherine explains her feelings for Edgar and Heathcliff, and it is here where the reader is able to understand what she is feeling without having to guess. I found her metaphors to be quite revealing, and understood afterward that what she felt for Heathcliff was true love whereas what she felt for Linton was merely superficial. Heathcliff is like the other half of herself, and she had been inseparable from him throughout her entire life. Honestly, I couldn't comprehend her actually being able to marry someone else when she had such strong feelings for Heathcliff. When it came down to it, Catherine's decision of who to marry was based on entirely different premises. Tempted by wealth and social status, Catherine married Linton because he was rich, handsome, young, and cheerful. Essentially, she married him for all the wrong reasons. At one point she tried to defend her position for Heathcliff's sake, saying that if she were to marry Edgar she could aid Heathcliff is rising from her brother's power. I, on the other hand, saw this as a blatant lie and a weak excuse to do what was easier rather than what was right.

Point of View

"It is astonishing how sociable I feel myself, compared with him." (pg 10)

Something that I found interesting about Wuthering Heights is the perspective in which it is narrated to the reader. It is not told by someone close to Heathcliff, but rather from the third person point of view of Lockwood, who is a tenant of Heathcliff's living on Thrushcross Grange. Lockwood's first impressions and encounters with Heathcliff are told to the audience, but from then on his history is told by another third party observer: Nelly Dean. The structure of the novel is mostly in the form of storytelling, and since it is a story within a story it could be classified as a framestory. Upon beginning the novel, the reader is unaware of how all the characters relate to one another until Nelly's narration explains all of their relationships. Also, Bronte makes it easy to keep track of time passing because she interrupts Nelly's storytelling by entering back into Lockwood's point of view. For instance, when he is dozing off Nelly says:
"But Mr. Lockwood, I forget these tales cannot divert you. I'm annoyed how I should dream of chattering on at such a rate; and your gruel cold, and you nodding for bed!"
This clever interruption keeps the reader in track of how much time is passing and how Lockwood is processing the information being revealed about Heathcliff. It is yet another component to Bronte's novel which enhances its effectiveness.


"He is a dark-skinned gipsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman: that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire: rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence, because he has an erect and handsome figure, and rather morose. Possibly, some people might suspect him of a degree of underbred pride; I have a sympathetic chord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort..." (page 6)

Heathcliff, a jaded and unpredictable character, is the protagonist and central focus of Wuthering Heights. Immediately, on the very first page of the book, he is described as a man with "black eyes" that "withdraw suspiciously under their brows", hinting at negative connotations within the first few paragraphs. As the novel progresses, the reader's desire to understand Heathcliff and his motivations grows stronger, but his defiance of being understood grows simultaneously. Initially a harmless orphan rescued from the streets of Liverpool by Mr. Earnshaw, I was surprised at his total transformation throughout the first half of the book. He began the novel as a quiet boy who was unaccepted by all except Master Earnshaw, and not long after gained companionship with Catherine. Nelly, the manor's maid, described Heathcliff as "uncomplaining as a lamb; though hardness, not gentleness, made him give little trouble" she explained as she nursed him back to health through an awful bout of the measles. However, it is easy to pinpoint when Heathcliff's character began to change. The moment Edgar Linton entered into Catherine's life, Heathcliff began to distance himself from her. Early on, he viewed Edgar as a rival and even attempted to compete for Catherine's affections. But his true transformation occurred at the moment that Catherine admitted her love for him, saying that the only reason she would not pursue this love was that "it would degrade [her] to marry Heathcliff now". Hearing those words, I am sure that she hurt Heathcliff beyond measure. He left the barn as soon as he heard her say this and disappeared thereafter for three years. Catherine was overcome with grief by his absence, but I'm sure it did not compare to the extent of Heathcliff's grief.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Her Egg-o is Prego

13. Why did the author include the element of Ruth's pregnancy? What did it add to the story?

I think that the author added the element of Ruth's pregnancy to further illuminate the struggles of the Younger family. It also added to the characterization of Ruth and Walter and how they communicated as a couple. When analyzing Ruth and Walter's relationship, I would definitely classify it as one that has grown strained over time. They sort of reminded me of an old married couple that had lost their magic and did nothing but fight all the time. Almost immediately, it became clear that Ruth was what could be described as a "nagging" wife while Walter was a self-absorbed husband that had neglected to show her affection for a long time. Later in the story, when Mama gives him money to pursue his dreams, he begins acting completely different and even takes Ruth on a date. Her reaction and pure joy over the fact that he takes her to the movies and holds her hand is almost disheartening. It becomes clear to the audience that he hasn't treated her properly for some time. For me, this outlined his conceited personality even further because it took someone else to put his dreams into action before he could think about making anyone else happy.

Walter, don't be shellfish. Share your coconut shrimp.

11. Who is responsible for Walter's situation? Explain why.

Walter is by far the most selfish and disliked character in this play. He is incredibly self-centered, and as the play advances he becomes more absorbed in himself and his dreams than anyone else. Therefore, the only person I can consider remotely responsible for his situation is himself. It is completely and utterly his fault that he loses their inheritance, and I'm glad that he has to suffer the consequences of his actions and live with the guilt of letting down his family. Perhaps he'll change his attitude after that. Walter blatantly disregards Mama's request that he put money aside for Bennie's education, and another part in the bank. Instead, he decides to invest all of it in his own dream and puts it towards the liquor store. This plan backfires when the person he entrusts the money to runs away and steals it. In one selfish act, he allows the rest of his family members' dreams to go down the drain.

The American Dream

2. Are the characters in A Raisin in the Sun stereotypes? If so, explain the usefulness of employing stereotypes in the story. If they are not, explain how they merit individuality.

In my opinion, the characters in A Raisin in the Sun are definitely stereotypical roles. Each character possesses different qualities and a strikingly different dream for their life. For example, Walter fantasizes of becoming a successful businessman and owning a liquor store. Ruth and Mama only want a better life for their family and dream of owning a beautiful home - especially for Travis. Bennie, an eccentric young woman, has hopes of finishing medical school and becoming a doctor. As an African American female, she is one of the characters who will struggle the most in attaining her goal. What is so universal about this play is that each individual wants what so many people want today: a happy family, a beautiful home, an education, or a successful career. They each have a different idea of the American dream and that's what makes these characters come to life. Because these concepts are so realistic, it makes it easier for the audience to connect with the Younger family's hopes and dreams for their life ahead.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

my thoughts

I actually thoroughly enjoyed "The Glass Menagerie". Because its setup was so unusual, I found it refreshing and interesting. At this point in my life, I've read so many plays and literary excerpts that many of them begin to sound the same and have similar plots and similar characters. But this one went in an entirely different direction. The characters were still easy to relate to regardless of their dysfunctional relationships, and I found it interesting how Tom directly addressed the audience. Since I like to know all the extra details going on in a story, I normally like prose better than drama because it's more informative. In this case, that was not true due to the extensive stage directions. While some people may have found those irritating to read, I liked them because it gave me a much better feeling of the play overall. The one thing I'd still like to know is just how much Tom's real life influenced this play. In the introduction, it said that it was modeled after his real life except that it differed from most of its key events. It sort of confused me but I could easily see why his mother, father, and sister would all deny being like any of the characters in this story. I mean, after all, they aren't exactly ideal fairytale characters. So I'd like to know how exactly they influenced his writing regardless.

Time flies when you're having fun... or acting...

What amount of time is covered in the action? How much of the action is presented as a report rather than dramatized on stage? Is there a meaning behind the selection of events to be dramatized and those to be reported?

"The Glass Menagerie" is a play which is difficult to gauge time-wise. After reading the entire thing, it seemed to span a wide time period but gave no reference of time passing through its context. While it initially appeared to only span a few days, that wouldn't make sense for a few key reasons. One of these reasons is centered around the event of Tom inviting Jim over for dinner. When he finally does and informs Amanda of it, he asks her if she remembers when she told him to try and find a suitor for Laura. Because he uses the word remember, it implies that some time has passed which may have caused her to forget. If the conversation had only happened the day before, there would have been no need to ask her for her recollection. Part of this is probably due to the fact that he is telling the play from his memory. Most of the action is actually dramatized on stage in "The Glass Menagerie"; however, I think it would be really interesting to watch the play without its stage directions. Since the directions are so extensive, I almost think that an aspect of the play would be lost without them. Also, a unique characteristic of this play is how Tom serves both as the narrator and a character inside the plot. It brings an unusual aspect to the audience how he addresses them directly and then immediately jumps back into the scenes from time to time.

Tommy boy

Identify the protagonist. Are there any foil characters?

The protagonist of this story is Tom, which he notifies the audience of immediately when he says that he is "the narrator and a character in the play". Tom is a character who seems to be unhappy with where he is in life and craves the chance to pursue adventure. Because of this reason, he goes to the movies every night and watches them for their adventures. He speaks of how he is like is his father and dreams of leaving his family to live his life freely. As for foil characters, I don't think that Amanda and Laura can be considered ones. Through their interactions, they don't really represent characters who bring out opposite qualities in one another, but more accurately represent a complicated relationship between a mother and daughter. Amanda wants what's best for her children, but has an odd way of showing it. Despite moments of nurturing, like when she encourages Tom to put cream in his coffee, she is slightly crazy and has an odd way of taking care of her children. Her obsession with finding Laura a suitor, for instance, would be an example of this. Laura is a girl who lacks confidence and is incredibly shy. She is crippled and has a glass collection of animals that she plays with on a daily basis. It is evident that she somewhat fears her mother and tries with difficulty to please her. It almost makes the audience pity her and how she feels the need to pretend to be something she's not for Amanda's approval. An example of this would be when she gets dismissed from business school and is too frightened to tell her mother so she leaves the house and merely pretends to go there everyday. Instead, she is walking around the city for 8 hours a day before returning home to maintain the facade that she is going there.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Devil in Disguise

The further along I get into Othello, the more enthralled I become with the character of Iago. It amazes me how he seems to have the adaptability of a chameleon and can somehow manage to fool everyone at once. While he is an absolutely terrible and amoral person, I cannot dispute that I find myself waiting to see what elaborate plans he'll think up next. I'm curious to see who will discover that Iago is evil in the long run and help lead to his destruction. Goodness knows he deserves it! It is my premonition that Emilia will be the one to figure out that he is lying since she assumed that whoever was framing Desdemona was looking out for their own position and had their best interests at heart. I'm just scared that her discovery of such things will lead to her own death. I wouldn't put it past Iago to threaten and kill his own wife. After all, he had nothing good to say about her while she was alive either.

Fast Forward

What amount of time is covered in the action? How much of the action is presented as a report rather than dramatized on stage? Is there a meaning behind the selection of events to be dramatized and those to be reported?

For being such a lengthy play, it actually doesn't cover nearly as much time as the reader may otherwise presume. After Othello's departure for Cyprus, only a few days pass by before the tragic ending takes place. Nearly everything in the play is dramatized rather than reported, with the exception of the tempest at sea and the failed invasion of the Turks along with the bedroom scenes between Othello and Desdemona. These were all reported instead for obvious reasons. During the Shakespearean time period, it would have been difficult to simulate a storm or battle at sea with such limited props and resources. As for the bedroom scenes, it was probably considered inappropriate to elaborate on these events at the time. Unlike today, Shakespeare didn't feel the need to give his audience every single detail in a story. It was left up to the audience to use their imagination and simultaneously follow along with what else was being revealed in the plot. Therefore, I don't think that there was so much of a meaning behind the selection of the events that were dramatized and reported as there was a convenience to make them that way. Shakespeare did was most logical at the time.

Themey - Themes

What themes does the play present? To what extent do the thematic materials of the play have an effect on the dramatic experience?

While I'm sure there are several themes in this play, as there often are, the one that is most prominent in Othello is the self-destruction of jealousy. Iago feeds on this weakness, creating a web of lies that will ultimately lead to Othello's, Roderigo's, and even his own downfall. Iago encourages Roderigo's jealousy of Othello's marriage in order to get him to assist eliminating Cassio from the picture. Because he is blinded by his infatuation with Desdemona, he is willing to do anything Iago asks even if it doesn't necessarily make sense. By the end of Act IV, Iago had easily convinced Roderigo to kill Cassio so that Desdemona would remain in Cyprus and therefore would be more accessible to his affections. In terms of Othello, Iago carefully nurtured the prospect that Desdemona was cheating on him and then encouraged his jealous rage to take over his life. Othello, who had never been unreasonable, completely transformed throughout the play and gradually became a man of bitter resentment. He began to mistreat Desdemona, even going as far as to hit her while she remained completely in the dark and confused as to where he had come across these allegations. Jealousy is the root of all evil in this play. Iago, the most despicable character by far, is motivated by his own jealousy which drives him to ruin others' lives. Originally, he was jealous of Cassio for being named Othello's Lieutenant, and then later verbalized that he had heard a rumor that Cassio and Othello had slept with his wife. Determined to seek revenge, Iago's jealous nature is what causes the plot to advance.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

C'mon rude boy boy boy....

During Act II, one of the parts that I thought was most revealing about Iago's character was his discussion with Desdemona about different types of women. Not only were his opinions degrading, but they also showed how he chose to view the worst in all types of people. When he sarcastically described the perfect woman in lines 147-157, it becomes apparent that he doesn't believe a woman like this to actually exist in real life. Unsurprisingly, he has a jaded few of those around him and is borderline cruel to his wife Emilia. When she says "You shall not write my praise", meaning "You don't have anything good to say about me", he answers "No, let me not" (II.i.115-116). By bluntly refusing to compliment his wife, Iago reveals that he does not think highly of his her in any aspect.
Then Desdemona presents him with four scenarios involving women. She inquires him on how he would compliment a smart and beautiful woman, and he answers that if a woman is pretty and smart she uses her looks to get what she wants. Next, she asks him about a smart and unattractive woman. Othello asserts that even if a woman is ugly she will be smart enough to find a guy who will sleep with her. Gee, negative much?
When she asks him about dumb and beautiful women, he compliments these most kindly saying that no pretty woman is stupid because her stupidity generally makes her more attractive to men. He seems pretty biased if you ask me. In terms of dumb and ugly women, Iago says that no matter how ugly or stupid the woman is she plays the same "dirty tricks" that smart and pretty women do. Desdemona didn't seem to appreciate this argument of his very much.
3. Identify the protagonist and the antagonist. Are there any foil characters?

As the title hints, the protagonist of this literary work is Othello. He is the character who possesses a hubris which will undoubtedly cause his downfall in the end. Consequently, the antagonist of this story is Iago. Nefarious in nature, Iago brings a new meaning to the character of evil. It appears that it is his ultimate goal to ruin everyone's life around him, leaving only himself happier and better off than before. He despises Othello because he appointed him as his Ancient rather than his Lieutenant. Additionally, he suspects that Othello has slept with his wife Emilia which only deepens his hatred for him. He dislikes Cassio because he is the soldier who was placed in second-in-command above him. He even reveals at the end of act two that he thinks Cassio has probably come on to his wife as well. This can't exactly be argued as strongly since Cassio greeted Emilia with a kiss upon his arrival at a seaport in Cyprus, but it still seems unlikely (II.i.96-99). And finally, Iago's cold-hearted nature is only reinforced by the way he treats Roderigo. Using him for his money and taking advantage of his naivete, he makes promises to Roderigo that he knows he has no capability of ensuring. All in all, Iago is a rather despicable character.


2. Is the play a tragedy or comedy, a melodrama or a farce? If a comedy, is it primarily romantic or satiric? Does it mingle aspects of these types of drama? How important to experiencing the drama is the audience's awareness of the classification of the play?

Shakespeare seems to be most well-known for his tragedies, and Othello would certainly fall in that category. Because I began reading this play with that concept in mind, I immediately had an idea of how it would end. While Shakespeare's works are universally considered classics, I also see them as fairly predictable. My prediction of the ending is this: that Othello and Desdemona will somehow die as a result of Othello's hubris, or fatal flaw. He will become so consumed with rage or jealousy, fueled by Iago's villainous actions, that he will in turn be the reason for his and Desdemona's unfortunate ends. Besides the predictability of the main characters, I have found the character of Iago to be contrastingly complex and erratic. His scheming nature and selfishness have been two of the most pivotal factors in advancing the plot. I am interested to see how his character will fare throughout the storyline.