October 20, 2004

Freedom in Huckleberry Finn

The theme of Freedom in Huckleberry Finn.

Many themes can be identified throughout this story, but what was very evident in the story was the theme of freedom.

This theme is very clear early on in the book, beginning in Chapter 1. In this chapter we see Huck already struggling with the widow Douglas as she attempts to ‘civilize’ him. Huck complains about the cramped feeling he gets when the widow puts him in new clothes, he complains about the structure of school, and he especially is unhappy with the rituals before dinner. He wonders, “When you got to the table you couldn’t go right to eating…” Although Huck has adjusted to this structured lifestyle, it is clear that he wants adventure.

Another aspect of the story that is suppressing Huck is his Pap. The character of Pap is vividly displayed, and so is Huck’s fear of him. Unfortunately for Huck, a judge hands him over to Pap, and not Huck has lost total freedom. He is locked in both day and night. Even though Huck does express that he is somewhat comfortable with the unstructured ness of living with Pap, as opposed to the widow, he is not happy.
After planning a crafty escape, Huck flees from Pap’s cabin and is free.

The character of Jim also exemplifies freedom. To Jim, freedom is more than important. When Jim and Huck meet up in chapter 8, Jim was trying to free himself. He was trying to free himself from Miss Watson who was threatening to sell him south, and he was escaping the suspicion that he was Huck’s murderer.

The theme of freedom can also be looked at from a social point of view. Society at this time was at a struggle for freedom. War and slavery were upon the biggest issues of this time. The concept of Freedom vs. Confinement is evident in both Huck’s life and Huck’s society.

Can you think of any other aspects of the book that relates to the concept of freedom an/or confinement?

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 1:07 PM | Comments (6)

October 10, 2004

Who is Herman Melville??

Other than Poe, my second favorite author that I was introduced to through this class was Herman Melville. The short story of Bartleby was an interesting and entertaining one. From the sarcasm to the sadness of Bartleby, I was wondering what kind of author was Melville? Melvillewas a friend of Nathaniel Hawthorne, was born in New York, and was inspired by 'Moby Dick.' The story of "Bartleby the Scrivener" first was published in Putnam's Magazine in two parts. Wilkapedia also mentions that the story of Bartleby was inspired by Emmerson's "The Transcendentalist." Melville seemed to be a man who enjoyed traveling, literature, and had somewhat of a sarcastic sense of humor.

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 9:11 PM | Comments (1)

What is a poetry slam???

When we had to do a poetry slam in class, some people including myself may have been wondering.... what is a poetry slam??? and is it a real thing??? Well yes! Poetry slamming is real. To expand my knowledge on poetry slamming I researched it and found that it is a pretty common and well known thing. Poetry slamming is meant to put an emphasis on writing and performing so that people and poets can focus on what they are writing and how it's being interpreted. Poetry slams usually take place in communities and are organized by poets in those communities. They can be informal and as formal as participating in National poetry slams. Poetry slamming is important because it allows people to interpret the poem from a personal level. As we saw in class, most people read their poems from their point of view. In my experience my feedback reports proved to me that not everyone agreed with the way I portrayed Poe's Annabel Lee. Poetry slamming is a creative way to get people involved with poetry and performing.

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 8:55 PM | Comments (0)

Symbolism of the Raven

As I've rooted through many of my classmates blogs, most have talked about symbolism in Poe's the poem the 'Raven.' And I have learned that there are many symbols in the poem, but one symbol that is important to the poem is the raven. Like many things the raven has a very symbolic nature. The raven is said to be the king of crows and represent knowledge. The raven is also said to represent the oncoming of death and dying. Some of my classmates also referred to the raven's symbolism. Nabila mentions in her blog that the raven symbolizes guilt and sin. From my point of view a raven is a crafty and a dominating creature. Also they are larger and louder than crows. If you've ever seen one up close they look fairly intimidating as far as a bird goes. Even in the poem, the raven has a dominating presense. The narrator even refers to the raven as a beast, saying, "Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door, With such name as "Nevermore."

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 8:45 PM | Comments (5)

Style: Emmerson or Thoreau??

Although Emmerson and Thoreau write in different styles, they derive their writing from the same concepts. While Thoreau is more radical and to the point, he makes very clear statements about government and social expectation. Emmerson is much more poetic in his style. He refers to the spiritual side, and the moral side of human decision making.

Their points reflect one another, but whose style do you prefer? Thoreaus's to the point style, or Emmerson's poetic style and why?

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 7:36 PM | Comments (2)

Emerson

Emerson is more of a poet. His thoughts and points reflect Thoreau's beliefs but in a softer manner. Emerson is more poetic and more spiritual. He concentrates more on believing in yourself and trusting yourself. Emerson talks about not beating yourself up for what is not important, in his essays he says, "For non-conformity the world whips you with its displeasure." Here he makes a good social point. If you do not conform with what is considered "normal" society rejects you. Erin Manko reflected this in her blog when she discusses Thoreau. From my point of view Emmerson portrays the message that man is not perfect, but is human, and human is the only way we can be.

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 7:29 PM | Comments (0)

Thoreau and voting

From my point of view everyone who is able to vote should. Selecting our leaders and representatives is a very important duty that most people take lightly. In less than a month we have an important presidential election coming up, and voting at this time is important. However, the process of voting is somewhat complex and does not really make sense. What I liked about Thoreau was his opinion on voting. He mentions in his essay that voting and petitioning achieve nothing. When really it doesn't. I agree with Thoreau's point because when we vote for the president our vote does not really count. What counts is who we vote to be our electoral college. The electoral college represents a majority. For example, if Pennsylvania is mostly democrat, than our electoral representative puts a vote into Congress stating that Pennsylvania as a whole is voting democrat. If I am understanding this correctly, than Thoreau's point semi-correct. On one side voting counts, on another side it does not. Most of us in society just go with the flow, but in reality most people would agree with Thoreau's points about government and society in many ways.

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 7:05 PM | Comments (0)

Poe and Hitchcock

Other than Jim Morrison (who I mentioned in comparison with Poe in my earlier blog) the one other person who enters my mind when I think of Poe's work is Alfred Hitchcock! If you think about it, they both have bird (picture of Hitchcock with a raven) themes in their work. Hitchcock has the film 'The Birds,' and Poe with 'The Raven.' . What I think makes me find the two so similarly is their wierd sense of the human mind. What I mean by the human mind is the stuff or ideas that people conjur up or think in their minds, but would never express. For example, in Hitchcock's movie Psycho, Norman Bates acts and talks just like a normal person. But when no one is around he minds takes over. This is especially apparent at the end of the movie when Norman is arrested and placed in the padded cell. He begins staring at a fly on the wall thinking from his mother's point of view, saying to himself that they'll never think it was her (his mother that made him do this). If you don't understand what I mean go to this website and read the end of the script. This same sense of human craziness can be recognized in Poe's poem the 'Raven.' The narrator seems to have fallen into a deep dream, or is having some paranoid hallucination about a squaking raven. I do not think the character in the poem is really seeing the raven, but is imagining it. His mind seems to be playing tricks on him.

From my opinions alone I have made two comparisions between Poe and other artists, Jim Morrison and Alfred Hitchcock. Could Poe have had a larger impact on writers today than is known? I think it would be interesting to research the impact that Poe has had on writer of today, or of popular culture. It would be interesting to find out who Poe's influenced and in what ways.

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 6:16 PM | Comments (0)

Poe and Hitchcock

Other than Jim Morrison (who I mentioned in comparison with Poe in my earlier blog) the one other person who enters my mind when I think of Poe's work is Alfred Hitchcock! If you think about it, they both have bird (picture of Hitchcock with a raven) themes in their work. Hitchcock has the film 'The Birds,' and Poe with 'The Raven.' . What I think makes me find the two so similarly is their wierd sense of the human mind. What I mean by the human mind is the stuff or ideas that people conjur up or think in their minds, but would never express. For example, in Hitchcock's movie Psycho, Norman Bates acts and talks just like a normal person. But when no one is around he minds takes over. This is especially apparent at the end of the movie when Norman is arrested and placed in the padded cell. He begins staring at a fly on the wall thinking from his mother's point of view, saying to himself that they'll never think it was her (his mother that made him do this). If you don't understand what I mean go to this website and read the end of the script. This same sense of human craziness can be recognized in Poe's poem the 'Raven.' The narrator seems to have fallen into a deep dream, or is having some paranoid hallucination about a squaking raven. I do not think the character in the poem is really seeing the raven, but is imagining it. His mind seems to be playing tricks on him.

From my opinions alone I have made two comparisions between Poe and other artists, Jim Morrison and Alfred Hitchcock. Could Poe have had a larger impact on writers today than is known? I think it would be interesting to research the impact that Poe has had on writer of today, or of popular culture. It would be interesting to find out who Poe's influenced and in what ways.

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 6:16 PM | Comments (0)

Bartleby: Humorous or Sad?

The initial feeling I got from the short story 'Bartleby the Scrivener' was that of a sad one. I started a discussion blog about feeling bad for Barleby and pitying his character. To me the story had somewhat of a sad, lonely feeling to it. Bartley reminded me of the character Rainman, and Melville reminded me of Tom Cruise's pushy character in the movie. However after reading Sara Remaley's blog I realized that the short story is somewhat funny and sarcastic. Sara researched the story and found that Melville had added some sarcastic remarks to the story that the general reader may not pick up on. If anything the other characters in the story add to the stories funny and sarcastic sense. Turkey was the red faced drinker, and Nippers the irritable eater, and of course Ginger Nut. Not only can the characters make the reader laugh a little, but Melville must have had a sense of humor to give them such silly names!!

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 5:39 PM | Comments (0)

Drama and the Scarlet Letter

The Scarlet Letter is a book that I had to struggle with in high school, and had to struggle with it again in college. When I say struggle, I don't mean that the book was a hard read, I just struggle with it because I never found it to be interesting. The book never kept my attention. However what I do like about the book and can appreciate is the sense of drama. If Nathaniel Hawthorne were writing the story today it would not be a book but would be a soap opera series. Hester and Dimmesdale were the couple that the audience wants to see get together but never could because of outside circumstances. My favorite dramatic scene in the Scarlet Letter is in Chapter 18 when Hester and Dimmesdale meet in the woods. They talk passionately to each other about the Scarlet Letter, about Pearl, and about their relationship. It is at this point that I as a reader wanted to see Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale run off together as a family and live happily ever after! This aspect of the book is almost like a romantic tragedy.

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 5:23 PM | Comments (2)

Details! 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge'

What I particularly liked about about Bierce's short story 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge' is Bierce's ability to use detail. Bierce's uses detail in a way that puts the reader in the story. He describes the events that are happening to Peyton so clearly that the reader can actually see in their mind what is happening. In my opinion most of the detail begins in the III sequence. This is the part in the story that begins Farquhar's adventure with death in the water. What I liked here was the way Bierce described what Peyton was feeling after he fell in the water with the noose still around his neck. When I read about the congestion and pressure that Peyton felt because of the noose I got a clear picture in my head of Peyton in the water. I like stories that use detail to paint a picture. It makes the story much more fun to read.

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 4:46 PM | Comments (1)

October 7, 2004

Blogging!?!?! What the Heck!

This is to everyone (trying to full-fill my wildcard entry)! What is your opinion on blogging??

Before this class I had no idea what a blog was, and now I have an entire portfolio grade riding on my ability to blog!! This blogging thing really has me somewhat mad and frustrated because instead of putting my energy into reading American Literature, I am more worried about blogging!! I can understand why Jerz is making us do this, because it is always good to learn a new technological skill, and it is a helpful way to communicate with classmates.

What's your opinion on blogging????? Do you think it should be this big of a deal??? Just want to know what everyone else thinks about this!!!!!

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 12:41 PM | Comments (0)

October 6, 2004

Poe and Jim Morrison ?????

Anyone please feel free to let me know what you think???

It is a bit of a stretch but when I hear or read poems by Poe, the words and the esthetic of the poetry reminds me of song lyrics by Jim Morrison. I'm not particularly a big Doors fan, however the grimme, moody, kind of 'out there' feeling you get when listening to Morrison, is somewhat similar when reading Poe's poetry. Both men write about the more bizarre aspect of events.

Can anyone else make that comparison also?????

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 5:25 PM | Comments (7)

Poetry Slam (Annabel Lee)

In class we performed a poetry slam. The poem I chose was Annabel Lee by Edgar Allen Poe. What really interested me about this poem was the way Poe rationalizes Annabel Lee's death. Poe's rationalization really humanizes the poem, and is a very humanistic aspect of this poem. I say this because as humans and people, we make rationalizations everyday. It is the small excuses and justifications we make everyday to explain and rationalize events and things that happen to us. In the poem Annabel Lee, Poe loses a lover and a friend. He is so taken aback by all of this, and is missing her so much that he conjurs his own rationalization of her death. To make sense of her death Poe exclaims that the angles in heaven were so jealous of their relationship and admired her so much that they took her. The reason Annabel Lee died was because the angels in heaven wanted her company, and this is the justification Poe makes of her death. As humans we don't like what we can't exactly explain, therefore we make our own rationalizations of why something happened. Most of us talk about unexplainable events, Poe put his into poetry.

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 5:16 PM | Comments (0)

Pity for Bartleby

In my opinion the story of Bartleby is a sad one. One can only feel bad for the guy because of disposition. Bartleby was obviously different, and maybe was slower mentally. I feel pity for Bartleby because he was living in a time when people were not tolerated as much, and his slowness was annoying and inconvienient. I especially felt for Bartleby at the end of the story when Melville had him moved out of the office into a mental home. At the same time I felt for Melville too, because he struggled with the decision of moving Bartleby. Melville just did what he had to do. At the conclusion of the story, the reading became even grimmer when Melville went to vistit Bartleby and found him dead. What I found to be very contrasting in this story is the setting of the mood. The story starts out happily, with Melville describing Nippers, Turkey, and Ginger Nut. Then after Bartleby enters the picture, the mood declines. Everyone in the office becomes impatient with Bartleby, and even as a reader I became impatient with Bartleby. As a reader I felt a change in the mood after the appearance of Bartleby in story.

Did anyone feel that same way????

Posted by JessicaZelenak at 12:45 PM | Comments (2)