JessicaPierce: September 2009 Archives

I believe I can fly, spread my wings and touch the sky

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Foster - How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Ch13-15)

"It's really pretty straightforward: flight is freedom." pg: 128

No arguing with that. When I was little, I once climbed up on our roof and decided that I could fly, but instead landed in a big pile of snow. It was worth the trouble I got into though, and the fall, because I just felt free. The same has to go for literature. If you can fly, you aren't tied down by gravity. Your mind, body, and soul are free to roam wherever they please. Flying is almost always symbolic of those qualities, unless you are superman and must answer the call of the people. 

Thoughts on Wood and Life

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Thoreau - Walden (Ch13&18)

Chapter 13:
"It is remarkbale what a value is still put upon wood even in this age and in this new country, a value more permanent and universal than gold."

This statement still rings true in this day. Wood has been a valuable resource for many years. How strange. Anyway, I found it very hard to really read this chapter, because I couldn't find a theme for it. The previous two assigned chapters seemed to have a theme. But, I suppose Thoreau's point was to show the different elements that keep us alive. (Fire, wood, water) I found it interesting that he found company in his fire, referring to it as a houseguest. 

Chapter 18:
"The surface of the earth is soft and impressible by the feet of men; and so with the paths which the mind travels. How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity!"

We live our lives by the impressions of others... True, to an extent. Thoreau sees tradition and conformity as tools of destruction of a human being--he values the truth, and nothing but. He also values perception, saying that its dullest form, common sense, should not be valued. "The commonest sense is the sense of men asleep, which they express by snoring." Ha ha. Honestly, there were so many interesting quotes to pick from in this chapter; it was hard to choose just one. This reading was kind of inspiring. I'm half tempted to go take a walk in nature and come to my own conclusions about life, if just for a half hour.

Such beautiful words...

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Wow! My first thoughts after reading these two chapters are that Thoreau really knows his way with words. Everything seems to sound so beautiful and interesting... but, onto the chapters.

Chapter 2:
"What should we think of the shepherd's life if his flocks always wandered to higher pastures than his thoughts?" 

This quote made me stop and think as I was reading this chapter. Could it be the shepherd, who leads the sheep, never really exceeds the sheep in mental capacity? Is the shepherd, in turn, a sheep? Thoreau talks a lot in these journal entries (if you call them that) about being free, and his seen benefits of being so. He even goes as far as to say that there is no difference in being committed to the farm or the county jail--you are still committed. He is sharing the benefits of being free in nature, and trying to get the most out of his life. It seems as though he also stereotypes the general person, saying that we should only respect what is rightfully inevitable and not give in to delusions. I do find myself living in a dream world a lot of the time... Thoreau makes a legitimate point. We do have incredibly high expectations. 

Chapter 4: 
"Up comes the cotton, down goes the woven cloth; up comes the silk, down goes the woollen; up comes the books, but down comes the wit that writes them."

A bold statement... basically, the impression I received from this chapter was that Walden was trying to appreciate the beauty of undisturbed nature, and in so doing, showed the ugliness of the modern (at that time) world. Thoreau appreciates the birds, the flowers, the trees... and courage. Bravery is a key point that is stressed. You should be brave enough to live the life you want. I also found his passage about owls very interesting. An owls "hoo hoo" is the representation of "stark twilight and unsatisfied thoughts we all have." I'll have to think on that for a while. 

Portfolio 1

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This is my first portfolio (Portfolio 1) of blogs at Seton Hill for EL 266: American Literature 1800-1915. The links below will take you to my journal entries.

Coverage: Below are links to my blogs about the assigned readings.
Poe, The Masque of Red Death - When the clock echoes...
Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown - Faith... a belief or a woman?
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Intro-Ch3) - A Discussion on Dinner
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Ch1-6) - A Look Into Foreshadowing
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Ch7-13) - A Meteor of Knowledge
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Ch5-7) - Challenging Originality
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Ch14-21) - An Encounter... In Death?
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Ch19-24) - New Outlook, New Path
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Ch8-10) - Myth Matters
Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener - Dead Letters
Gilman, The Yellow Wall-paper - Mental Exercise
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Interlude,11,12) - Violence: It's Deep

Depth: The entries below are the ones I feel that I went into depth with, or sparked a conversation.
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Ch7-13) - A Meteor of Knowledge
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Ch5-7) - Challenging Originality
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Ch19-24) - New Outlook, New Path
Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener - Dead Letters
Gilman, The Yellow Wall-paper - Mental Exercise

Interaction: Below are blogs from my classmates in EL266 that I have commented on.
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JenniferPrex/2009/08/more_than_just_a_room.html
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/MeaganGemperlein/2009/09/a_demon_child_always_makes_for.html
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JeremyBarrick/2009/09/el_266_ch_7-13_pearls_flower.html
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/MeaganGemperlein/2009/09/into_the_woods_to_find_theres.html
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JessicaApitsch/2009/09/life_behind_bars.html
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JenniferPrex/2009/09/what_does_it_mean.html

Discussions: The following blogs have been included class/group discussion or comments.
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Ch1-6) - A Look Into Foreshadowing
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Ch7-13) - A Meteor of Knowledge
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Ch5-7) - Challenging Originality
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Ch19-24) - New Outlook, New Path
Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener - Dead Letters

Timeliness: The blogs below were posted with enough time to give my classmates a chance to comment. (but I have only received one comment on my blogs...)
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Interlude,11,12) - Violence: It's Deep
Gilman, The Yellow Wall-paper - Mental Exercise
Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener - Dead Letters
Foster, How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Ch8-10) - Myth Matters
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Ch19-24) - New Outlook, New Path
Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Ch14-21) - An Encounter... In Death?

Xenoblogging: Below are a few blogs that I commented on and gave further insight to.
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/MeaganGemperlein/2009/09/a_demon_child_always_makes_for.html
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JeremyBarrick/2009/09/el_266_ch_7-13_pearls_flower.html
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/MeaganGemperlein/2009/09/into_the_woods_to_find_theres.html

Wildcard: A blog about my experience with blogging.
http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JessicaPierce/2009/09/blogging_is_scary.html

Blogging is scary...

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Wildcard for Portfolio 1: Honestly, when I entered this class, I was scared about the blogging part. Yes, it's easy to share ideas... but what if my ideas weren't intelligent or thought out fully? What if people read my blog and think, "Oh, she has no idea what she's doing!" Those were my initial fears. Now, I feel as though I have developed as a blogger. At first, I just wrote down whatever popped into my head, as I thought the definition of a blog should be. But after reading my classmates blogs and listening to class and group discussion, I realized how to add depth and new ideas to my reflections on the blog. I feel as though my blogs become more 'academic', if you will, each week. Overall, this has been a positive experience. I don't really dread blogging as much as I did before, and it is nice to share ideas. Hopefully, by the end of the semester, I will become an excellent blogger!

Violence: It's Deep

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How to Read Literature Like a Professor - Foster
"Violence in literature, though, while it is literal, is usually also something else. That same punch in the nose may be a metaphor." (pg. 88)

This line caught my attention, mainly because it is so true. On the surface, it seems like just a fight. But there is true meaning to most fights in literature. Say, if two brothers start to punch each other after dinner, it isn't because they just don't like each other. It could be over an issue at dinner, or a symbol of their family dynamic. There are so many possibilities. I'll definitely look more deeply into scenes of violence now. 

Mental Exercise

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"I lie here on this great immovable bed--it is nailed down, I believe--and follow that pattern about by the hour. It is as good as gymnastics, I assure you. I start, we'll say, at the bottom, down in the corner over there where it has not been touched, and I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless pattern to some sort of a conclusion."

When I read this line, it kind of reminded me of someone with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) trying to reason with himself or herself. Her new obsession is to find out what exactly is the wallpaper, and she will stop at nothing to find out. In fact, the obsession consumes her. She no longer feels the need to do anything but observe the wallpaper. Overall, I was very interested in this story; using a journal format really connected me with the writer. 

Dead Letters

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Bartleby the Scrivener - Melville
"Sometimes from out the folded paper the pale clerk takes a ring:--the finger it was meant for, perhaps, moulders in the grave; a bank-note sent in swiftest charity:--he whom it would relieve, nor eats nor hungers anymore; pardon for those who died despairing; hope for those who died unhoping; good tidings for those who died stifled by unrelieved calamities." (last paragraph 250-251)

When I read these last lines, I felt the need to re-read them for meaning. I came to the conclusion that maybe these dead letters drove Barteby insane. He could have been so attached to this job that he withdrew from society and felt lost without it. It is but one explanation of Bartleby's actions... It just seems to me that this addition explains why Bartleby doesn't really have a vigor for life or work. 

Myth Matters

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How to Read Literature Like A Professor - Foster
"What we mean in speaking of "myth" in general is story, the ability of a story to explain ourselves to ourselves in ways that physics, philosophy, mathematics, chemistry--all very highly useful and informative in their own right--can't." (pg. 65)

Foster caught me. When I read 'myth', my first thought was of something untrue. But myths, as in old integrated tales, really are important to us. Knowledge of them can help you make connections to tons of different works. Unfortunately, I really am not informed about all the myths out there, but I do know the most recent ones. Perhaps we should take Foster's words and do a little research to further enrich ourselves. 

New Outlook, New Path

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The Scarlet Letter - Hawthorne
"The excitement of Mr. Dimmesdale's feelings, as he returned from his interview with Hester, lent him unaccustomed physical energy, and hurried him townward at a rapid pace. The pathway among the woods seemed wilder, more uncouth with its rude natural obstacles, and less trodden by the foot of man, than he remembered it on his outward journey" (pg: 194)

I chose this quote because it shows how Hester's meeting with Dimmesdale has brought him back to life. Saying that the path seemed less taken is symbolic, saying that Dimmesdale will now take a different path. Also, the woods seemed wilder because he has a new outlook on life after the meeting. Overall, the quote demonstrates Dimmesdale's new outlook. 

An Encounter... In Death?

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The Scarlet Letter - Hawthorne
"So strangely did they meet, in the dim wood, that it was like the first encounter, in the world beyond the grave, of two spirits who had been immediately connected in their former life, but now stood coldly shuddering, in mutual dread; as not yet familiar with their state, nor wonted to the companionship of disembodied beings. Each a ghost, and awe-stricken at the other ghost!" (pg. 171)

This passage shows the awkwardness and strangeness of Hester and Dimmesdale's meeting. Hawthorne is equating it to their meeting after death, saying that it was if they are no longer connected and this is the first time they see that. Further, each one seems to be a different being, and they are 'awe-stricken' at the sight of each other. It's very hard to relate to this passage, but it is understandable. It was a good example to show the situation between the two people. 

Challenging Originality

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How to Read Literature Like a Professor - Foster
"But the point is this: stories grow out of other stories, poems grow out of other poems. And they don't have to stick to genre." (33)

At first, when I read this, I thought "wait! What about the originals, the classics? Where did they come from?!" But Foster is right. Every story written is based off of other memories and past experiences. No story is truly original, unless we are discussing the first story ever written... Perhaps I shouldn't press this too far. :)

A Meteor of Knowledge

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The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
"To his features, as to all other objects, the meteoric light imparted a new expression, or it might well be that the physician was not careful then, as all other times, to hide the malevolence with which he looked upon his victim." (141-42)

This quote is referring to the look on Chillingworth's face when he saw Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale illuminated by the meteor. The meteor is used as a kind of flashlight - shining knowledge on the town. Chillingworth hates Dimmesdale for what he's done, and is out to destroy him. But, as Hawthorne reveals, he hides it well. 

A Look Into Foreshadowing

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The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
"Thus she will be a living sermon against sin, until the ignominious letter be engraved upon her tombstone. It irks me, nevertheless, that the partner of her iniquity should not, at least, stand on the scaffold by her side. But he will be known!--he will be known!--he will be known!" (59)

This line, uttered by a stranger, is an excellent example of Hawthorne's foreshadowing. Reading those few sentences tells me that we will find out who the partner is, and that Hester will suffer for a long, long time. It is inevitable that the partner will stand on the scaffold with her later.

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Jessica Pierce on this heart, it beats, beats for only you: Thanks Heather! I'm glad to sh
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Heather Mourick on this heart, it beats, beats for only you: I never really saw it like tha
KatieLantz on The Free Raft: I agree with you Jessica that
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