October 2009 Archives
"In literature there is no better, no more lyrical, no more perfectly metaphorical illness than heart disease." (pg: 208)
This statement rings true today, so I see no reason why it wouldn't have many years ago. Today, there are so many ballads on the radio or in the music scene dealing with heart disease, or heart break. A disease of the heart could mean many things, specifically something dealing with your emotions, since the heart seems to be the center of emotion. The book says some causes could be "bad love, loneliness, cruelty, pederasty, disloyalty, cowardice, lack of determination." But really, it can mean anything having to do with or affecting your core. A heart keeps you alive; it beats and pulses with you. One thing is for certain: heart disease is never something good. It is always an ailment of some sense. Also, heart disease is a microcosm for death on a larger scale. Disease is associated with death, and the death of your heart means that you, too, will die without it. As goes the saying, "where there is no love, there is no life." Those who are heartless have no purpose. So watch out if anyone ever writes about you, and make sure your heart is intact.
"I cannot subscribe to the extreme censure passed upon this volume, which is no coarser than Mark Twain's books usually are, while it has a vein of deep morality beneath its exterior of falsehood and vice, that will redeem it in the eyes of mature persons." (pg: 49)
This is one of the most positive reviews for Twain, saying that the book is for mature adults, not the "bad-boy" young men genre. There are so many moral twists in the story that young male readers would never want or care to understand. Yes, there is vulgarity. Yes, there is immorality. That's life. It's all part of what makes this novel still popular today. It brings out the truth of the situation and definitely does not sugar coat anything. I understand the concerns that the novel is too graphic and inappropriate, and it probably is for some ages. Mature readers should take the novel in for what it is, along with all the anecdotes that go along with it. It's a tale of lies, deceit, and all the dirtiness of life that most people try to look past. Bad boys might enjoy the adventure Tom seeks, but there are many other elements for older readers. It is sad the novel was banned for a while, but at least it's still around today for us to analyze and argue.
"They hain't no right to shut him up! Shove!--and don't you lose a minute. Turn him loose! He ain't no slave; he's as free as any cretur that walks this earth!" (pg:316)
This is Tom's quote, admitting that he has known all along that Jim is set free. After reading this line, I saw Tom as malicious and manipulating--he purposely put all the characters through hell just for an 'adventure.' The whole thing was a sham. What kind of children are these? Tom, especially. He will risk anything and everything to pursue the venture. I hate to say it, but Tom deserved getting shot in the leg. He even wears the bullet as a trophy now! He also offers Jim money compensation for his troubles. The sad part is that no one chastises Tom or tries to set him straight; he's already thinking of his next adventure with the 'injuns.'
Basically, this quote shows a new side of Tom: his true cruelty. He treats Jim almost no better than slaveholders do--he is just a plaything to him. By now, it seems as though Tom is beyond any type of reformation. He obviously does not have the morale or level of compassion of Huck. I liked that Huck decided to move on and reject becoming 'sivilized,' considering the actions of those people who claim to be civilized. It shows his growth as a character, emphasized by the use of Tom as a foil for him.
Discussions: The following blogs have been included in class/group discussion or comments.
Thoreau, Walden (Ch2&4) - Such beautiful words...
Thoreau, Walden (Ch13&18) - Thoughts on Wood and Life
Poe, The Raven - Silken Sad Fantastic Terrors
Dickinson, Perhaps you'd like to buy a flower? - Death of a Flower
Aiken, Uncle Tom's Cabin - Shiftless: An Analysis
Clemens, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Ch1-10) - Bad Luck and Untraditional Symbolism
Timeliness: The blogs below were posted with enough time to give my classmates a chance to comment.
"How shiftless!" (Aiken)
These words, in one form or another, are uttered by Ophelia numerous times in the play. At first, I wondered about what "shiftless" actually meant. So I did a little research. This is the definition I found for shiftless:
Lacking in resource or energy, or in ability to shift for one's self or one's own; slack in devising or using expedients for the successful accomplishment of anything; deficient in organizing or executive ability; incapable; inefficient; improvident; lazy: as, a shiftless fellow.
So, one who is shiftless does not search for other answers and is set in their ways. I can see Ophelia's use of the word in the story, especially considering Topsy's earlier state of mind. But, to Ms. Feely, anything can be shiftless. A situation, a remark, a person... I just thought that her use of the word might be symbolic of something... Perhaps exemplifying her state as well? As in, Ophelia wasn't open to Topsy at first either. She, in fact, was shiftless. She was stuck in her way of thinking, and refused to see it any other way. It was nice to see her transformation, along with Topsy's. It's just tragic that death was the cause of this transformation.
Overall, Ophelia's use of "shiftless" helped develop her viewpoint as a character. She viewed everything else as shiftless, but never herself. This could possibly be an attack on her religious beliefs, or a stereotype of the people of that religion in her area(s) as a whole. Either way, the use of the word was not a shiftless act of the author.