September 29, 2004

Reflections of the Poem

It's over....

If I could redo today, I would not have been sick. I apologize if I lacked volume and if the podium was a distraction. However, had I not been ill, I would have been on my knees on the floor with no podium to interupt my immediate connection and intimacy with the audience. Believe me, I get can get a loud. In addition to this, if I sounded whiny, it is only because I am sick. I try not to sound whiny on a regular basis. The poem went as planned; I wish I would have memorized it and brought a crown as a prop to explain "diadems." Additionally, I wish I had more time to elaborate on the meaning of the poem. However, we have blogs to write about that. I invite everyone to read my previous entry on the unpacking of the poem. And please, feel free to comment if you think there is anything I could do to improve my performance and make poem delivery better for all.

Overall, I was really impressed by all the talent in our class. I really enjoyed Shanna DeFrances's clever use of props and tone inflection, SeAnn Williams made me wonder about going to heaven, congratulations on achieving your goal, SeAnn; and Katie Lambert and co, Renee DeFloria made the most clever use of space that really brought their delivery to life. These are just a few performances that stand out in my mind, but everyone did an excellent job. I am looking forward to the next slam.

Posted by KatieAikins at 10:41 PM | Comments (4)

September 26, 2004

My Informed Decisions

When plotting out how to deliver this poem, there were a few significant actions I had to consider. I wanted to recite this poem in the manner which I interpretted it, which is a woman who was fondly remember her love from a long time ago and having stirred also sorts of girlhood feelings, drops to her knees as if she is talking to him. Another important action to consider for the poem was the proximity of the head in relation to the boy to whom she delivers her diatribe. The poem made me think that the speaker really admired him, like most women admire gems, so it is important to keep the head up, as if looking towards the heavens at this splendid boy. A third action I took into consideration to deliver my understanding of the poem, the clutching of my hands to my chest. In the last stanzas, the speaker becomes sort of misty for the boy, and childhood that are over. However, she still holds both of those parts of her life in great regard and with fondness. These are three of the steps I took in planning action for my oral interpretation.

Posted by KatieAikins at 3:29 PM | Comments (2)

September 22, 2004

Poem: Unpacked

Your riches taught me poverty....(click to read text of the poem, or see previous journal entry)

As the "title" of the poem implies, the speaker is talking to someone through the stanzas of the poem. "Your" riches taught me poverty points to someONE person, but whom? The person being spoken to has taught the speaker a life lesson, as implied by the first line. For some reason, this poem makes me think of "To His Coy Mistress", because in the first line of that poem the speaker is replying to the answer, "NO," given before the start of the poem. As we continue to unpack the poem, we learn that time is of the essence to the speaker. Repeatedly, words like "life's estate," "miss," "all day," "stint," "distance," "in time," "far far," "slipped," and "while" are employed in the texts. These words conjure imagines of time passing by the speaker in a manner that can not be controlled by the speaker's means. It is also interesting to note that the speaker, a woman, uses the word "dominion," which not only means a territory of control, but also a fixed amount of time. After mentioning dominions, the woman says, "a different Peru." At the time this poem was probably written, Peru had freshly achieved its independence. Is this speaker achieving independence? Does the speaker want independence? The first two stanzas span the continent of South America, dealing with predominantly Christian states which is interesting to note later in the poem.

The last stanzas continue spanning the world. These stanzas speak of queens, diadems, and Golconda. It is interesting to note, in the line prior to the Golconda reference the speaker says, "Might I be a Jew!" Perhaps the verb form of the word "jew" is employed here to mean haggle; note the capitalization, the noun format, perhaps to mean, haggler. Or does the speaker simply refer to some one who follows Judah? Golconda is mentioned immediately afterwards. It is connects to the words "queen," "wealth," "India," "diadem," and "gem." The religion practiced in Golconda was Muslim. Also, Golconda was known for diamonds nearby and the cutting of diamonds. So far the speaker has somehow alluded to all major religions, and spanned a series of continents.

All the gems in this poem, are what would be deemed "precious" or "semi-precious," however, at the end, the speaker calls what slipped through her hands "the pearl." Pearls are valued as gems, but are they really gems? They are formed from grains of sand and often deemed beautiful/of value. The speaker's "treasure," or "the pearl," is whomever is being addressed by the discourse of the poem.

Dickinson paints a picture of a woman remembering the lost love, "the pearl," "that slipped my simple fingers through." It is a sort of lament; however, the speaker has moved on from her girlhood ideal of a male companion. Though, I do believe the speaker will always "treasure" her "...pearl."


Posted by KatieAikins at 10:02 PM | Comments (3)

Poem Slated to be Slammed

II. Love
III. Your riches taught me poverty
Your riches taught me poverty.
Myself a millionnaire
In little wealths, -- as girls could boast, --
Till broad as Buenos Ayre,
You drifted your dominions
A different Peru;
And I esteemed all poverty,
For life's estate with you.
Of mines I little know, myself,
But just the names of gems, --
The colors of the commonest;
And scarce of diadems
So much that, did I meet the queen,
Her glory I should know:
But this must be a different wealth,
To miss it beggars so.
I 'm sure 't is India all day
To those who look on you
Without a stint, without a blame, --
Might I but be the Jew!
I 'm sure it is Golconda,
Beyond my power to deem, --
To have a smile for mine each day,
How better than a gem!
At least, it solaces to know
That there exists a gold,
Although I prove it just in time
Its distance to behold!
It 's far, far treasure to surmise,
And estimate the pearl
That slipped my simple fingers through
While just a girl at school!

Published 1924 in Emily Dickinson The Complete Poems. In Boston.
This poem reminds me of a friend, I can relate to the voice of the poem, and the imagery within is magnificent.

Posted by KatieAikins at 1:22 PM | Comments (0)

"The Custom House" / Scarlet Letter Links

These are my thoughts on "The Custom House"...did the novel strike these questions in your minds?

Close Reading 1-2
Here are my thoughts....did anyone else think of these questions being born from the novel?

The preface to Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, “The Custom House,” serves to introduce the society and times in which the story is set; also, this essay provides the background story for the finding of the scarlet letter. “The Custom House” also provides a definition of what a romance is. Excerpts from “The Custom House” essay closely link to The Scarlet Letter’s text. Two notable examples of these parallels can be found in the descriptions given of the townspeople in Salem who live by ancient moral laws, and the description of contentment within the city limits of Salem versus residing elsewhere.
Let’s begin with the latter: the description of how happy one is when one is in Salem, versus not being in Salem. After painting a picture of the seascape in the town of Salem in “The Custom House” essay, Hawthorne continues to say, “…and yet, though, invariably happiest elsewhere, there is within me a feeling for old Salem, which, in lack of a better phrase, I must be content to call affection.” This closely parallels the return of Hester Prynne from England to Boston. In the conclusion of The Scarlet Letter, Hester “disappeared…yet no tidings…unquestionably authentic were received.” Shortly after this sentence, the reader finds that Hester returns to Boston to, “the home of so intense a former life, was more dreary and desolate than she could ever bear.” Clearly, Hester was happier in England, yet made her way home to Boston. Happiness elsewhere, but returning home, is a parallel theme from “The Custom House” to “Conclusion.”
And now for the former: the laws. “The Custom House” offers readers a glimpse at a sober, dreary people, who are governed by antiquated ideals, “…human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be jailed and replanted too long a series of generations in the same worn-out plot.” Ultimately, Hawthorne not only makes a statement about human nature, but also comments on the fact that no new ideas are being introduced into the town, and the governing laws do not suffice the changing times. Rather the laws agree with a set of moral values; in the case of the novel, Puritanical values. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne is blamed for a sin of the flesh that violates the moral law governing the land. In “The Recognition,” Dimmesdale says, “Heaven hath granted thee open ignominy, that thereby thou mayest work out an open triumph over evil within thee, and the sorrow without.” Dimmesdale tells Hester the only way penitence for her sin will be had is if Hester confesses to her partner in sins of the flesh. It is in this way the laws are linked in the preface and the novel.
The Scarlet Letter is linked to “The Custom House” essay in many different ways. However, these are two of the most discernable, interesting links that guide the reader to thought provoking questions to ponder. Is sacrificing personal happiness to return home a noble act? Should towns be governed by moral laws, and if so, who sets the boundaries of what is right or what is wrong? The Scarlet Letter asks some questions that readers need to address.

Posted by KatieAikins at 1:16 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2004

Oral Panel A - Comedy/Tragedy in The Scarlet Letter

Even though Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is not a drama, it contains elements of two of the main types of drama: comedy and tragedy. The components of drama can be seen in certain characters and situations in the novel. Today we are going to explore what comedy is and where it is located in The Scarlet Letter; in addition, we will investigate the meaning of drama and where it can be seen as functioning in Hawthorne’s novel. The elements we will focus on stem from the ending on the novel.

According to Dr. Jerz’s site, American Literature I, “comedy begins when an ordered society is thrown temporarily into disorder by an individual who does not conform.” This definition will be useful in recognizing comedic elements in the book.

Another definition of comedy, (complete with examples of where it is to be found), is offered by Gale-Free Resources Glossary of Literary Terms, comedy is, one of two major types of drama, the other being tragedy. Its aim is to amuse, and it typically ends happily. Comedy assumes many forms, such as farce and burlesque, and uses a variety of techniques, from parody to satire. In a restricted sense the term comedy refers only to dramatic presentations, but in general usage it is commonly applied to nondramatic works as well. Examples of comedies range from the plays of Aristophanes, Terrence, and Plautus, Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy, Francois Rabelais's Pantagruel and Gargantua, and some of Geoffrey Chaucer's tales and William Shakespeare's plays to Noel Coward's play Private Lives.

Dr. Jerz continues to say, “a comedy ends in order, as the disordered element is either expelled or absorbed into the background.” With this in mind, the reader must address elements of comedy in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. One of the comedic elements in The Scarlet Letter is the story’s ending. Hester leaves Boston for England and when she returns years later, her advice is sought from people, according to The Scarlet Letter, especially, “Women- …in the continually recurring trials of wounded, wasted, wronged, misplaced, or erring and sinful passion- or with the dreary burden of a heart unyielded, because unvalued and unsought- came to Hester’s cottage, demanding why they were so wretched, and what the remedy!” Through the novel, Hester was made a public figure of ridicule, (which gradually was tempered over the course of the years); her return to Boston illustrates the absorption of the disordered element.

This is just one example of comedy employed in The Scarlet Letter. What are some other examples of characters/situations who can be categorized under these definitions of comedy?

Dr. Jerz also writes that tragedy, “shows how the protagonist’s actions launch a sequence of events that tear apart a tragic hero and possibly the society as well.” For an expanded definition of tragedy, Gale-Free Resources Glossary of Literary Terms offered,
A drama in prose or Poetry about a noble, courageous hero of excellent character who, because of some tragic character flaw, brings ruin upon him- or herself. Tragedy treats its subjects in a dignified and serious manner, using poetic language to help evoke pity and fear and bring about catharsis, a purging of these emotions. The tragic form was practiced extensively by the ancient Greeks. In the Middle Ages, when classical works were virtually unknown, tragedy came to denote any works about the fall of persons from exalted to low conditions due to any reason: fate, vice, weakness, etc. According to the classical definition of tragedy, such works present the "pathetic" — that which evokes pity — rather than the tragic. The classical form of tragedy was revived in the sixteenth century; it flourished especially on the Elizabethan stage. In modern times, dramatists have attempted to adapt the form to the needs of modern society by drawing their heroes from the ranks of ordinary men and women and defining the nobility of these heroes in terms of spirit rather than exalted social standing.

After weighing in on the aforementioned, the reader can look for elements of tragedy in The Scarlet Letter. But first, one must identify the protagonists in the story. The central protagonist in the plot is Hester Prynne because she wears her scarlet letter for the world to see; in her shadow, but also a protagonist, is Arthur Dimmesdale who bears his scarlet letter in private.
One of the tragedies of the story can be found in the revealing of Dimmesdale as the father. After he admits he is the father and publicly accepts Hester and Pearl, he dies. His freedom from sin is short lived, to say the least. Another tragic element is Pearl’s first and final acceptance of the knowledge of her father, “Pearl kissed his lips. A spell was broken.” The minister then expired. After this, Pearl left for England and led a normal life, instead of a life of throwing rocks at Puritan children. Her misery was plight from the scarlet letter was cured by love, however short the love was.

These are two of the tragic elements in The Scarlet Letter. Where else is tragedy employed in the text of the novel? Could any of the novel’s characters be categorized as tragic, and why?

After further consideration, I want to also elaborate on the talk Nabila Uddin gave in class. Nabila pointed out that Hester was not the devil child that everyone seems to reason her to be. I agree with and applaud Nabila for pointing out the mother-daughter relationship in The Scarlet Letter.

Posted by KatieAikins at 9:25 PM | Comments (2)

September 14, 2004


The Scarlet Letter is a text rich with the use of color....

Has anyone else noticed that this novel seems to be drenched in a wash of colors? From the bleak prison, the men clad in grey, the poignantly colored rose bush, and of course, the infamous scarlet letter which is trimmed in gold threading. It makes me think of fire. Later, when the letter appears in the sky in a fiery blaze...And of course, Pearl. The name is a color - not white, but rather off white. Does this parallel the sins of her mother that she should recieve a name that isn't pure in color? What are your thoughts on this?

Posted by KatieAikins at 9:14 PM | Comments (3)

September 8, 2004

Reflections on Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener

Is there a bad guy in Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener? This was the question that kicked off my blogging days.

After reading this short story, I have decided that Bartleby's constantly avoiding any task he was asked to undertake, (he always says, "I would prefer not to"); perhaps DOES NOT make his a BAD guy, but an inactive, passive guy. And as the reader continues, Bartleby's resistance to the task at hand becomes spellbinding: one wants to read on, one wants to know why Bartleby won't, and one wants to know the outcome of the story. Bartleby is hard to ignore; thus is his resistance.

Posted by KatieAikins at 3:49 PM | Comments (7)

Reflections on Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener

Is there a bad guy in Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener? This was the question that kicked off my blogging days.

After reading this short story, I have decided that Bartleby's constantly avoiding any task he was asked to undertake, (he always says, "I would prefer not to"); perhaps DOES NOT make his a BAD guy, but an inactive, passive guy. And as the reader continues, Bartleby's resistance to the task at hand becomes spellbinding: one wants to read on, one wants to know why Bartleby won't, and one wants to know the outcome of the story. Bartleby is hard to ignore; thus is his resistance.

Posted by KatieAikins at 3:44 PM | Comments (0)