February 24, 2005

Machinal

I was thoroughly impressed at how well this play was written... all the while knowing from the beginning the plot tells "the story of a woman who murders her husband -- an ordinary young woman, any woman."

As a young woman and feminist, I could not help but feel sympathy for the Helen. It was clear to me that she felt she had to conform to society by getting married to her boss, of whom she had no feelings for, and quite honestly, a fear and feeling of disgust towards him. Helen's mother REALLY upset me in Episode 2. Her mother was very uninterested in her daughter's happiness. I guess because during the time she grew up it was the same way, if not worse. Women were oppressed and expected to marry, just to endure the role as housewife and mother.

Helen seemed different... she did have ambition and she searched for happiness. She wanted to learn the truth. She began to ask about her parents relationship... if her mother loved her husband (Helen's dad). And her response to this is: "I suppose I did - I don't know - I've forgotten - what difference does it make - now?" (p. 17) !!!!

That really angers and saddens me. As a woman who has fairly equal rights to men today, I cannot image how life was for these women. Women have come a LONG WAY throughout history, but I feel are still underestimated and appreciated. I may have never been able to take the injustice of Helen's time. I would be a rebel and not get married to someone just for the sake of becoming married. Today I saw a bumper sticker on a car in the Seton Hill parking lot that read, "A woman without a man is as useless as a fish without a bicycle." I couldn't help but laugh and be happy for things like that. Thank goodness we live in a time and country where women are able to have opinions, not to mention display it on their car. Geez, I'm lucky to have a driver's license.

Regardless... back to the story! :) I must say that Helen's husband was very stupid or uninformed about her feelings... she constantly complained or ignored him... she did not seem to show him affection, when she did, she seemed scared. She continually says she would like to go away - alone - without him.

I also question this "First Man" and Helen's relationship. He suggests that he has been with many women or atleast compliments them and finds them heavenly... but Helen is so soon to fall in love and want to run away with him. I am not doubting they shared something special, but she seems to fall in love the moment he compliments and sweet talks her. He represents a lot of men I find today. Definitely a sweet talker... but he does draw a line and simply answer questions in a straight forward manner at several times during the conversation.

Maybe I am sick for saying this, but I thought it was kinda sweet how she killed her husband... she used his story of how he freed himself. :)
I wish Helen could find her freedom. I agree that the emptiness felt inside so often is a missing void from within. This must be filled, not by another person, but by yourself. You need to love yourself first and be happy with who you are.

I know that in my own life I have felt incredible loneliness and an emptiness from within. I have been struggling for years with major depression and hit rock bottom MANY times. But my faith in God and prayer kept me going. Support from good friends and family also gives a lot of comfort and reassurance. This has really changed my life, but I am still on my religious journey and finding who I am. Helen is just another human being trying to find her place in the world... she is young and unwed and pressured into becoming married. She is a "good girl" and says "I do," has a child, and feels empty through a six year (?) marriage with someone she feels nothing for. I see something missing in her relationship with her mother as well. Maybe it could be because her mother never really loved her husband so she didn't really care about the child's ultimate happiness. Helen's mother's outlook on marriage is, "Love! - what does that amount to! Will it clothe you? Will it feed you? Will it pay the bills?" (p. 17) ... "I'll tell you what you can count on! You can count that you've got to eat and sleep and get up and put clothes on your back and take 'em off again - that you got to get old - and then you got to die. That's what you can count on! All the rest is in your head!" (p. 17).

Perhaps I am wrong, but isn't all the rest what is truly important?! Finding happiness and love in life... whether you become married or not! If you choose to live a "mechanical" life filled with little or no emotion (rather: a life of complete loneliness, sadness, regret, "wishing" you'd done things differently), then life is not enjoyed. I could go on and on about this... but I will just look forward to the class discussion.

Posted by KaylaTurano at 3:09 PM

February 17, 2005

The Great Gatsby 2

After discussing this novel in last week's class, I began to question my former beliefs regarding many of the characters and their motives. Therefore, I decided to reread the entire story, from the beginning. As a reader, I tend to read things too fast the first time through. As a result, I realized I missed a lot of important details throughout the story.

I couldn't have made a better decision to reread the story from the beginning. I feel I was able to get a better handle on the story and see things my coursemates presented in class dicussions.

I am undoubtedly, a hopeless romantic... and from the beginning I saw Gatsby as a very reserved but faithful and loving man who had never let go of his love for Daisy. Daisy's character is still questionable to me... I do not feel that Nick really shows who she is. I wonder if Daisy really knew what true love was. Gatsby was different from all of the other men in her younger years... but he was poor, and poor boys didn't marry the rich girls. Daisy's struggle was evident from the beginning. She loved Gatsby but was planning to marry Tom. She admitted that she had "changed her mind," but later got herself cleaned up and went along with it anyway. She grew tired of waiting, and seemed to lack assertiveness.

This story does tug at my heart. I felt for Gatsby and saw his determination throughout the story. He wasn't a threat to Tom... Tom couldn't compare to Gatsby as far as I am concerned. Tom was just a brute of a man and poor husband and father. In the first few chapters, we can see that he often cuts off Daisy while she is speaking, and doesn't really listen to what she is saying. Also, he is quite open about his affair with Mrytle. I did feel some sympathy for Daisy, but she seems too caught up in money and appearance.

I definitely am a strong believer that Gatsby was a great man. I do not feel the title was intended to be ironic; but rather, if one really engages in the story and reads between the lines, it is evident that Gatsby kept to himself for the most part of his life... but Nick's character was able to get to really know him by the end of the story. Although some may argue that Gatsby was only great because of his money and possessions; I feel that his motivation and goals were justified as he had a truly pure heart. On page 173, Gatsby's father tells Nick of his son's "Schedule" he wrote up years ago. This really tugged at my heart... Gatsby was definitely motivated and dedicated to achieve his dreams... it is questionable as to whether or not he got what he truly wanted, but Daisy did admit her love for him (as well as her husband, Tom). Money didn't mean much to Gatsby, and it obviously hadn't made many other of the wealthy characters happy. Gatsby was a man of big dreams, and perhaps he was better off not being of this world. He seemed to be ahead of his time. Nick said it best when he told Gatsby, "They're a rotten crowd. You're worth the whole damn bunch put together" (p.154).

Posted by KaylaTurano at 5:56 PM | Comments (2)

February 8, 2005

The Great Gatsby

One of the most troubling things I found about Gatsby’s character was his inability to let go of the past. I understand that he fell in love with Daisy and vice-versa before going to war, but even after finding out that she was married to another man; he decides to become wealthy for her and then buy a house across the bay from Daisy. He basically lives in hopes of being with her...
Gatsby threw lavish parties just so that Daisy might show up, as most of the guests were strangers anyway. However, despite hosting frequent parties, Daisy never attended. Still, Gatsby is relentless and plans through Jordan and Nick to encounter Daisy coincidentally, as he plans for Daisy to meet Nick at his house for tea, and Gatsby will just happen to “drop by.” I believe that Gatsby portrays great romanticism and ambition; however, Daisy seems to be unworthy of the attention. It is assumed that Tom wooed Daisy with his money. Tom bought Daisy a three thousand dollar pearl necklace, but it meant nothing to her. Her wedding day proved an uncertainty of her love for Tom. Daisy is very materialistic, such as when she goes to Gatsby’s home for the first time, and sobs because of his beautiful shirts. It has been stated that Daisy and Gatsby fell in love before he went to war, however; he did not have money, and Daisy grew tired of waiting, so she married Tom. Although there was a connection between Daisy and Gatsby, I guess in this case, love was not enough for her. Daisy’s marriage to Tom is based on false pretenses… neither are happy in the relationship but must pretend to be in order to maintain the image to others and for their child. Divorce was unheard of in that time, so affairs were prominent. The reunion between Daisy and Gatsby was powerful. They obviously still share feelings for one another, and Daisy seems to be consumed with regret for marrying Tom. It just seems to me that in this story, everyone who is undeserving has everything. They are miserable and indulgent in affairs and parties. The wealthy are not concerned with the feelings of others, but only fulfilling their pleasures. Nothing seems to be enough. Gatsby left behind Daisy to serve overseas, and was never able to get over her. He did not inherit his money, and despite rumors that he made his money illegally, he at least worked for it. He would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. Gatsby was trying to achieve the American Dream. All of the characters in this story seem to have their priorities and lives in disarray. During the 1920’s time period, the wealthy often spent their time partying, having affairs, and spending money. The characters in this story are members of high society, and I found most to be empty and meaningless. However, Gatsby was a dreamer and stayed dedicated to one woman over years, Daisy, despite her tendency to be materialistic. Gatsby, unlike other characters in this story, did whatever was necessary to attain what he wanted, and did not engage so much in drinking and having affairs. Although Gatsby came across as disappointing in conversation, he was unlike any of the other characters in this story, which made him great.

Posted by KaylaTurano at 11:25 PM | Comments (2)