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Not A Gentleman


Welles, Citizen Kane
EL237--Writing About Literature

Remember the scene when Kane is being shaked down by Getty's for the governor's race. When Kane is telling Susan not to worry about this "gentleman". Getty's response is priceless:

Gentleman? I don't know what a gentleman is?

The fact is the selfishness on Kane is also very ungentlemanlike, but the problem is that he will not identify that there is a problem in the first place. By Kane wanting the world to love him and everything that he does, he is detached from the rest of the planet. In essence, he is already building Xanadu before he had started by isolating himself from reality. William Randolph Hearst (whom the movie is based on) at that time was looked at as detacted from the rest of the population. I watched a documentary about the clash between Hearst and Welles over Citizen Kane. Hearst at that time was known to be the megolomanic monster that Kane has become over time. We can see Kane as a huge comparison to the media/news mogul Rupert Murdoch, whose business seems to be on the matter of power and opinion than fact. Money seems to blind him from the truth that the people around him showed. He was willing to have his son's name dragged through the mud in order to prove that he could be governor.

Do you think that it was hard for Kane to change his ways because of the position that he was in?

Howl If You Hear Me


Howl and Other Poems, Ginsberg
EL237--Writing About Literature

Poetry is meant to be heard...

Exhibit A... Howl

Howl and the other poems in the chapbook are in itself a resistence to the norm and the destruction of political correctness before there was even a term called politcal correctness. I was just searching in a Wikipedia article at it stated that Ginsberg "saw the destructive forces of materialism and conformity in the United States at the time". That kind of a message needs to be in your face and over the top. The imagery of course is very compact but what about the structure of the poem itself. In Howl, GInsberg breaks almost every rule in the book by having notoriosly long lines and a saturation of repeated words and punctuation. In Canto II, the repitition of the name Moloch (a demon) shows the evil of society by association.

So does Howl has a message that is beyond the words?

I think so, that is the beauty of reading poetry. Once you see the pattern, you wonder how you could ever miss it.

Maus II, Spiegelman
EL237--Writing About Literature

There is a paradox that Dr. Jerz had pointed out to me in my last blog. A black hitchiker is being discrimated by Vladek, who was discrimated by the Nazis. Hate seems to be in a unbreakable cycle that everyone is a part of. Even after the war was over, Vladek talks about the story of Gelber, how he tried to return to his home and was killed not by Nazis but by Poles who lived there. We think that when a war ends and the soldiers are off the battlefield that the hatred stays there, dying a slow death in the battlefield.

But the one thing I think that I noticed about Maus II as opposed to the first book is that the need to resist and the need to survive was highlighted. Vladek recalls the foiled plot to destroy one of the creamatorium in Auschwitz. Both physically and mentally Vladek and Art himself have to resist the urge to become the things that hate them. Spiegelman had written an article called Getting in Touch with My Inner Racist, where he fights those inner demons in a way that I was personally offended, but after reading Maus, I know his approach was a little unorthodox with things.

Prelude To A Graphic Novel

Spiegelman, Maus
EL 237--Writing About Literature

I don't know what to think about reading Maus. I'll tell you that it will be the first time that I will read a graphic novel in a classroom setting and that's for sure. I've always been told that "comic books" are bad for you and it will "rot your brain". I really don't understand how can a graphic novel cannot be use in the higher echelons of literary criticism and canonization. Sure we have Marvel and DC, but they are in the same column as Harry Potter, popular more than useful for literary criticism. Maus could be the thing that blend in popular devices and old-fashioned literary techniques together.

Clash of the Cultures


Ciolkowski, Navigating The Wide Sargasso Sea: Colonial History, English Fiction, And British Empire
EL237--Writing About Literature

We could pretty much make the assumption that Jamaica has been a one of the world's melting pots of culture. In this article, Laura Ciolkowski, is stating how both the British and African cultures in Jamaica are colliding in Wide Sargasso Sea for a chance in the spotlight.

The description of how these cultures clash is described in this quote:
Not quite English and not quite "native", Rhys's Creole woman straddles the embattled divide between human and savage, core and periphery, self and other.

Antonette had always had to battle where her loyalties lie, to the mother country (England) or her home (Jamaica). It seems like her very existence is a culture clash. Can she indeed be a model Englishwoman to "expand and defend the English empire" by bearing the sons it needs? I doubt it and so does Ciolkowski. Antonette is what she called "the Hybrid Body", the symbol of the problems of the culture.

Even the novel itself fight for what side in this battle that it is on. Ciolkowski described the typical and most of the time sterotypical view of Jamaica through English eyes. Even though Wide Sargasso Sea is about Jamaica, it was written by a British subject.Nevertheless Rhys steps out of her "God Save The Queen" shell and continue to speak for Antonette, the symbol of the cultures, and a "silent madwoman with a chance to sell her story". There is another quote that I can think of :

Wide Sargasso Sea resists English imperial common sense, mapping out instead the multiple battles over what gets to count as the way things are. That Rhys plays out these battles on the terrain of the English novel, situating her text both beside and against Charlotte Bronte's nineteenth-century canonical narrative of English womanhood, is no surprise; rather, such explicity intertextual struggles have helped critical readers of Rhys's fiction to place Rhys within a postcolonial literary tradition that is specifically interested in rewriting the fictions of English empire.

It was also pointed out in this article that Rhys goes against the grain in this particular mode of postcolonialism. In fact the whole novel is a model of resistance against the empire where the sun never sets. It also fits into the spot of postcolonial opposition, this could be used as a medium to portray resistance at every turn. 


There Goes The Phallus


Kendrick, Edward Rochester And the Margins of Masculinity in Jane Eyre And Wide Sargasso Sea

EL237--Writing About Literature

Kendrick had made a point when he stated that Rochester in a way isn't exactly the "mature man" as he claim to be. According to the VIctorian gentleman standards, he has no money, but his wife does...makes him look like he is missing something. Wow, it seems like Rochester is the laughing stalk of both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. He thought by marrying a trophy wife such as Antonette, he would be looked upon as the big man in town. It is as if the money and the wife is trying to compensate for something that is completely missing. Kendrick had slyly brought up the phallus in talking about the inadequacies of Rochester.
How does the concept of the phallus plays off in strongly femininst novels like Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea?

Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys

Writing About Literature-- EL 237


One thing that I have noticed about this particular story in relation to Jane Eyre is that there is a schism between two groups of people that sets the tone of this story. In Jane Eyre, it was rich and poor and in Wide Sargasso Sea it is whites and blacks. The fact that Antonette's family is living amongst blacks who really resents the social chokehold that the whites (English, preferably) had on the area. But there is always one character, in this case Antonette, that could at first live among blacks is beginning to have some some of resentment toward them. Especially when her brother Pierre was killed and her entire family was driven out of Coulibri. This was the Jamaican Slave Revolt of 1834, a prime point of Jamaican history. There is a quote that sticks out to me about the entire issue of race in Wide Sargasso Sea ( I want to stress that this is a quote from the book): "Old time white people nothing but white nigger now, and black nigger better than white nigger." Who could anyone live under so much pressure and not have it affect them negatively, white or black. I like how Rhys mix in a historical event into a book that is based on a minor character of another book. It seems like a lot of work to make these literary connections to another piece of work.

How far do you think Rhys had to go in order to go in order to make one of Bronte's characters into her own? How can Rhys develop a situation that surrounds and involves a character that is not hers to begin with?   

"Give Us This Day, Our Daily Mask"


Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Stoppard

EL237--Writing About Literature


Never...Never in my academic career have I read a play that took three acts to reason why our dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are merely pawn in Hamlet's game. The are too busy overanalyzing every situation they come across that it takes until the very end for them to realize that they were being set up to be killed by the influence of King Claudius.  One quote that had stuck with me throughout this painful reading of this play was "Give us this day, our daily mask". Just like in Hamlet everyone had an agenda, everyone was not who they claimed to be. Most of this seem to go over Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's heads as they babble on and on about spiritual, philosophical, and just pain arbitrary stuff. Everyone else is proudly wearing a mask that our beloved friends don't see. 

That is what continues to plague them...they think too much. Just like Hamlet, their intellectual thought process overcomes their gut intincts. But this thought process helped Hamlet in the end, but it did not do the same for our dear friends. If they held off with the rhetoric would they have forseen that they were being used?

The Sick Genius Known As Hamlet


EL237-Writing About Literature

Hamlet, Shakespeare


I've been on hiatus since early August and I know it sounds funny but I'm ready for the blogging again.

Now back to the subject.

Since I'm reading Hamlet in my Shakespeare class in the present moment and time, I feel pretty excited to blog about it. When we discussed Hamlet, we discovered that there are different reasons why characters perceived Hamlet as being crazy. The see Hamlet as they see themselves acting towards other. This "formula" that Father Honeygosky showed us is as follows:

  1. Since Gertrude is grieving (somewhat) for her late husband, she thinks that Hamlet is insane due to grief.
  2. Since Ophelia is deperately in love, she thinks that Hamlet is insane due to love. (Polonius thinks this way, too)
  3. Since Rosencrantz and Guildenstern is looking for ambition, they think that Hamlet is insane due to ambition.
  4. Since Claudius is paranoid, he thinks that Hamlet has paranoia.

Unfortunetly for those folks, they have no idea that Hamlet is simply playing to their emotions and thoughts. He is using people as musch as they are using him. The weird thing about Hamlet is that no one fufills the desiny that they want or at least expected. For example, Hamlet thought that he could just kill Claudius and avenge his father. Instead, he killed Polonius, Laertes, Claudius and died in the process and then there is the question of for revenge or just for rage. I definetely did not know why Horotio said to the dying Hamlet "Good night, sweet prince" when he manipuated everyone in the entire play.

This play is all about perception. In Act 3 scene 4, Hamlet questions Gertrude about Claudius and asked her "Have you eyes?" Basically telling her how could she choose Claudius over Hamlet, Sr. Of course, what we (the audience) see is the truth and the characters see the charade. In Hamlet's case he had to or face death by a paranoid King Claudius. So I doubt that the overdramatic acting by Hamlet was needed to even get close to the crooked king. 

Do you think that Hamlet would have avenge his father if he would have killed Claudius immediately?