February 2009 Archives

Freedom of Speech

Bethany Bouchard
Vote 0 Votes

"During the Reformation, struggles between Protestants on one side and the Catholic Church on the other threw into high relief the often opposing claims of conscience and political obedience, and moved the question of obedience near the center of the polemical wars ongoing from the time of Luther to the time of Milton," (Yachnin 35).

Stephano: "Flout 'em and cout 'em/And scout 'em and flout 'em!/Thought is free," (Shakespeare III.2.133-35).

I just found this statement from Yachnin, though only historical background information, very profound when I related it to The Tempest. Perhaps Shakespeare was trying to send a message to his audience members about his own feelings on the political/religious controversies of his time by having Stephano sing, "Thought is free." Shakespeare was saying "To each his own," or something equally cliche, but he said it better by hiding his true meaning within the lines of his play.

"Internal repetition of action has been a staple of Shakespearian dramatic structure since the early 1950s, the double wooing of Katherine and Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew being perhaps the most illustrative case," (McDonald 104).

Though McDonald's point has never been brought to my attention before, I can definitely see the duplicity in Shakespeare's dramatic structure exhibited in a number of his other plays. A Midsummer Night's Dream has Puck influencing the love affairs of both the humans wandering the forest and the fairy queen. There are the twins of the same name in A Comedy of Errors. In Romeo and Juliet there are the two feuding families, two lovers, and two agents (Friar Laurence and the Nurse) aiding Romeo and Juliet on their tryst. Also, two key characters die, one from each familial affiliation, Mercutio (Montague) and Tybalt (Capulet). I am sure there is much more to be said on this duplicity gimmick Shakespeare has seemed to utilize in his dramatic structures; however, these were just a few examples I came up with off the top of my head. They were easy to pick out, once I came to an understanding with McDonald's theory.

A Matter Of Opinion

Bethany Bouchard
Vote 0 Votes

“Oscar Wilde spoke of the work of art as having ‘and independent life of its own’ which may ‘deliver a message far other than that which was put in its lips to say,’” (Watson 30).

And here I go again, back to the concept of “art for art’s sake.” Of course art does belong to the artist who creates it. However, once the art has been released to the public, it also belongs to its audience. People will judge it, or critique it, whether or not it was meant to be up for their interpretations. The art will mean something to the artist, its creator, for being an artist, he or she has put a part of themselves into the work. Therefore, what the art means to the artist is what it means, what the artist intended it to mean. When brought into the public eye, though, an audience can draw whatever kinds of conclusions about the meaning of a particular piece, and perhaps even find within it something of greater depth than even the artist might have intended. It’s all just a matter of opinion; there is usually no right answer.

“PROSPERO How now? Moody?/What is’t thou canst demand?
ARIEL My liberty.
PROSPERO Before the time be out? No more.
ARIEL I prithee/Remember I have done thee worthy service,/Told thee no lies, made no mistakings, served/Without grudge or grumblings. Thou did promise to bate me a full year,” (Shakespeare I.2.290-298).

So, upon reading this brief exchange between Prospero and his slave, Ariel, I was immediately reminded of Aladdin. In Aladdin, the Disney version, of course, Aladdin promises the Genie he will release him from bondage when his third wish in payment for the Genie’s kindness and friendship. Aladdin has a brief moment of selfishness, in which he considers not releasing the Genie, but in the end, he comes to his senses and does the right thing.

In the case of The Tempest, Prospero would be Aladdin, and Ariel would be the Genie. However, things seem to be a little mixed around. For instance, Prospero is apparently the one with the magic powers, and can, I think, use his powers to bend people and influence things to his will, like the weather. Ariel, on the other hand, does not have powers, but he isn’t human, either. He’s a spirit. From the exchange noted above, it doesn’t appear that The Tempest’s own Aladdin will be releasing Ariel from servitude any time soon, though he has already promised that he will. It is obvious Prospero hasn’t realized how valuable Ariel is to him, as a friend, yet. Perhaps Ariel should start singing “You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me.”

Flashback to Chaucer...

Bethany Bouchard
Vote 0 Votes

"To judge accurately a medieval fabliau or an eighteenth-century satire, a Romantic ode or a Victorian novel, we have to condition ourselves to think and feel as their intended audiences did," (Keesey 14).

Like Erica, and many other people last week did, I had to choose a word not defined in Hamilton's Essential Literary Terms, as I couldn't seem to find one in the readings. I chose "fabliau" because, upon reading it, I had the hint of a memory from Chaucer last semester, where it was mentioned at least a few times in lecture.

Dictionary.com defines "fabliau" as "a short metrical tale, usually ribald and humorous, popular in medieval France." This would make sense to me now, as to the reason it was mentioned in Chaucer, especially during our section of The Canterbury Tales. I never felt Father Honeygosky explained it clearly enough, but basically any of the the tales could be called a fabliau.

"And because 'literary criticism' may be broadly defined as the art of interpreting literature, every reading is an act of criticism and every reader is a critic," (Keesey 1).

When I started to read this sentence and got to how "literary criticism" may be defined..." I thought, "Yes! There's going to be a straight definition. Finally!" Unfortunately, that was not really the case. Where I was expecting to unlock the secret to success at being a literary critic, the above passage turned from a glittery beacon of light to an abysmal, never-ending pit of darkness. Something that I thought I was just getting the tiniest bit of a grasp on, suddenly slipped out of reach and became far more complicated and tantalizing. Of course, I am being facetious and melodramatic as I sit here writing this, now. However, when I read that statement, that is how I felt. I'm not even kidding.

"The burden of this section is, then, an attack on the view that a text is a 'piece of language' and a defense of the notion that a text represents the determinate verbal meaning of the author," (Hirsch 19).

With the essay, many questions came to my mind. For example: How does anyone know what the author means, except the author himself, unless the author shares his true intentions with the public before he is dead? That would certainly save everyone else a lot of trouble in trying to interpret the meaning of what he wrote. But then, I guess there would be sort of a decline in the necessity of literary critics and their opinions the interpretation of a piece of literature. But how do we know if we're right? If the text "represents the determinate verbal meaning of the author," then there really is no need to try to interpret it, because wouldn't that mean one should just take the words at face value?

What A Creeper!

Bethany Bouchard
Vote 0 Votes

"It is the same woman, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight," (Gilman 537).

First of all, I am thoroughly delighted by the fact that is almost a whole section in this story devoted to "creeping" and "creepers." Of course, it is safe to assume that is definitely not used in the same context that most people would relate those terms to today, but putting it into that perspective for just a couple minutes before I moved on with the reading gave me a good laugh.

In all seriousness, though, now, the story's context of the woman creeping is slightly different. The woman that the narrator claims to see creeping around "by daylight" could quite possibly be the narrator, herself. Her fear of the yellow wallpaper is manifested at night by the woman trapped beneath it. In actuality, the woman trapped beneath the wallpaper, is the narrator trapped by her own thoughts and fears. It is herself that she imagines crawling around and around beneath the wallpaper, when in reality she is going in dizzying circles with the thoughts in her mind and driving herself crazy. By day, she is free of the crawling yellow wallpaper, but then she sees "the woman" everywhere, in the garden, in the yard, etc.

Yeah, this story was slightly weird and creepy in itself, but in all fairness, very interesting and well-written, I thought.

"It is interesting to contrast Empson's 'ambiguities' with New Criticism's 'paradox,' 'irony,' and 'ambivalence,'" (Eagleton 45).

"Paradox is a trope in which a statement that appears on the surface to be contradictory or impossible turns out to an often striking truth," (Hamilton 56).

Here I go again, looking up stuff I had already, supposedly, learned. I find my plight to be exemplary living proof that no matter how well a lesson is learned, in time, one will eventually be in need of a refresher course.

Looking at the phrase, "Less is more," which, by the definition appears contradictory, is really a true and upstanding moral. For example, if one indulges themselves over dinner by taking multiple helpings, they might be struck later with a case of indigestion. In their case it would have been better, or "more" beneficial to their well-being to stick with smaller portions and, in so doing, not be sick later on.

Alert the Pope!

Bethany Bouchard
Vote 0 Votes

"The modern sense of the word 'literature' only really gets under way in the nineteenth cenutry. Literature in this sense of the word is an historically recent phenomenon: it was invented sometime around the turn of the eighteenth century, and would have been thought strange by Chaucer or even Pope," (Eagleton 16).

I find it hilariously inconceivable to think that Chaucer, himself, did not know his work would one day be great, that it would be studied by millions of scholars and be deemed worthy of criticism and praise. And yet, it must be true. It makes sense for one to not to know how good or bad his or her own work is, but to not the effect it had on his own society is a phenomenal concept. Literature must not have been thought of very highly back in Chaucer's day. It was clearly not known then how literature can be life-changing, sometimes even affecting entire societies for the better or worse with its awesomeness.