Lauren Miller: February 2008 Archives

You are probably so utterly confused by my title and I apologize for that.

What you don't realize is that this is a big triumph for me.  I have finally figured out the difference between analogy and allusion!  Woohoo!  I always got them confused because they were both words that began with a. 

"An analogy is the comparison of a subject to something that is similar to it in order to clarify the subject's nature, purpose, or function" (Hamilton 76).

"An allusion is a passing reference in a work of literature to another literary or historical work, figure, or event, or to a literary passage" (Hamilton 74). 

There is not much to argue here, but I am happy that I got those two terms clarified.

Round Two, DING!

 

I Can't Get No Satisfaction (From The Law)

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"'The law,' Mr. Shiftlet said and spit.  'It's the law that don't satisfy me'" (O'Connor 58).

After being legally married to Lucynell, Mr. Shiftlet says this to her mother.  Wouldn't a red flag be going off in her mind?  Her daughter's new husband just said that he gets no satisfaction from the law.  Wouldn't that mean that he would have no problem breaking the laws? 

Mr. Shiftlet was a shady character in my mind from the beginning.  Even though the mother believed that he was no one to be afraid of, the manner in which he acted made him very strange.  He did not like to answer questions and he would always go off on some philosophical insight.  Now he's saying that he doesn't like the law?  Hmmm...sounds like a possible criminal to me. 

Now, granted I cannot say that everyone who disagrees with the law is a criminal, but there is evidence in the text that demonstrates Mr. Shiftlet's unusual behavior and uneasiness about answering questions.  Who knows?!  This could be The Misfit making a comeback, only this time, one of his victims fought back and hurt his arm.  It is just very odd that the mother trusts him so easily and even lets him (forces him is more like it) to marry her daughter.

But I try and I try and I try and I try...I can't get no...I can't get no...

This Blog Entry Is Not True

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

Ahh, the paradox.  It is one of my favorite literary terms ever.  Now, being a Spanish major and a Creative Writing minor, I never thought that math could relate to any of that stuff.  But alas!  It does!

Have a look:

This sentence is false. 

That above statement is often referred to as the liar's paradox.  Using logic (a mathematical concept), one can deduce the truth value of this statement.  If we believe that the sentence is false, then the sentence is true.  If we believe that the sentence is true, then the sentence is false.  Is your head spinning yet?  Mine is. 

This link will not take you back to the course website.

A Place To Call Home

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"He hadn't taken a suitcase because there was nothing from there that he wanted to keep" (O'Connor 44).

This line to me is not only a good example of when to use telling but also an important aspect of this little boy's character.  In the story "The River", it is mentioned that the boy is "four or five" (O'Connor 24).  What a thought for a young boy to have!  He did not want to keep anything from that apartment because he did not want to remember it.  He obviously did not have a very happy childhood, his parents did not pay attention to him, and there was nothing for him there in that place.  It is incredible to me that this young character would even have such a thought.  Granted, the words are there in simplistic terms (as the little boy would have said them) but they convey the broader meaning that he did not feel that he had a home.  That place was not home.

Take your suitcase back home.

Shakespeare Loves His Stars

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"Ford:  Stand not amazed.  Here is no remedy.

In love the heavens themselves do guide the state;

Money buys lands, and wives are sold by fate" (Shakespeare 228-230).

In an earlier entry, I talked about Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and a line that Romeo said in Act V of the play:  "Then I defy you, stars." 

Shakespeare really wrote for his time period.  In many of his plays he talks about fate and the heavens and the control that they have over mortals.  Almost anytime something dramatic or surprising happens in his plays, it is blamed (for lack of a better word) on the stars.  Everyone was surprised that Anne chose Fenton (so was I; I actually forgot about that character) and Ford's explanation was that there was nothing they could do about it because it was their destiny.  Fate controlled everything.  If something good happened, it was fate.  If something bad happened, that was fate.  These people really seemed to think that they had no control over their lives, but throughout the entire play The Merry Wives of Windsor, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page control the humiliation of Falstaff.  I am just amazed at how devoted they were to their beliefs of that time period.        

The stars want you to click here.

The Mistaken Perfectionist

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My name is Lauren Miller and I am a freshman at Seton Hill University.  I am currently taking EL150: Introduction to Literary Study.  Being a Creative Writing minor, it is important for me to attain the skills of analyzing literature and forming an opinion based off of evidence in the text.  One essential ability that I am learning is how to argue.

Now that I have gotten all of that generic stuff out of the way, let me tell you who I really am.  I am a person who loves knowledge, but there is only one problem: by nature, I am a perfectionist.  I am not the kind of crazy perfectionist who obsesses over her hair or her makeup or whether or not her socks match her clothes; no.  I am a perfectionist when it comes to knowledge.  Sound crazy?  It probably is.  But I obsess over it.  Its grasp is loosening on me though; I am only human and upon arriving at the university I realized that I was going to make mistakes.  Some of the things that I learned about English in high school do not apply to analyzing literature at the college level.  For a perfectionist, this was frustrating.  I had to learn a whole new set of rules.  Literature analysis is not easy and it was hard for me to accept that I was not going to master it on my first try.  I am still trying to develop that skill through my blog entries.  Perfectionists also do not like to admit that they make mistakes; but, I have grown a lot through these 18 blog entries and I hope that you can see my progression in literary analysis.  Despite the pain, all perfectionists must face the past and reflect on what they have done...whether it is perfect or not.

  Coverage

  • In Knot Exactly A Happy Ending, I offer my perception on the last line of the play Trifles but also give the readers the link back to the course website so they can read the blogs of my fellow classmates.
  • Let's Talk About Overlap demonstrates my frustration and confusion over the categories of poetry, drama, and prose (hey, nobody's perfect, right?).  It also includes a direct quote, a source, and a link.
  • I originally thought that I'm Foreshadowing...A Blog Entry was a good entry.  I then came to the realization that I was not making a point.  Who is going to argue with foreshadowing?  It is just an example of me being caught between the transition of high school English (where you got a gold star for picking those kinds of things out) and university English (where they want you to argue a point).
  • A Love Song With A Cup Of Joe shows my ability to blog as well as drink coffee.
  • I ponder the difference between Death and Immortality in Stop and Smell the Dead Roses.
  • Nothing Good Comes Out Of Closets is a belief that I have held since childhood.
  • Will You Or Won't You Woo Me? reflects on how Shakespeare portrays the males in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Blogging Resolution for Coverage:  Come up with more creative ways to link back to the course website, though I doubt I will ever be able to beat Maddie's.

Timeliness

Blogging Resolution for Timeliness:  Yikes!  Only two entries were on time?!  I will be completely honest with you--I forgot about the 24 hour rule.  Maybe that is why I did not receive as many comments as other people did.  From now on, I will force myself to remember to post a blog entry before 11:00 a.m. strikes on the day before class.  Wow my memory is awful.

Interaction

  • Stopping By This Entry On A Rainy Evening received quite a few comments.  My fellow classmates seemed to enjoy how I related the reading assignment to a Robert Frost poem.
  • In Imagine A World Of...Imagination, most students could identify with my emphasis on the most important reading ability of all...the ability to imagine.
  • Damnation and Starvation was the first blog entry where I really received some opposition to my point of view.  I was actually pretty excited about this, because Maddie wrote that I made a very forceful argument (Hooray!  I finally learned how to argue!) but that she disagreed with me.  She then made me promise not to offer her any poisoned apples, but I reassured her that was not going to happen.
  • These Are NOT Love Songs sparked some interest.  I gave the entry that title because I knew it would attract attention and I did receive five comments on it.  It was also discussed in class (Yay!) so I felt that I did a pretty decent job with arguing there as well.

Blogging Resolution for Interaction:  This goes along with my resolution for Timeliness, but I am going to start posting my entries earlier so that I have an opportunity to receive more comments.  I will also reply to the comments on my entries more often.

Depth

Blogging Resolution for Depth:  I want to spend more time when I write my blog entries.  I need to really consider my point of view and what I want to argue.  Each entry should serve as a mini informal essay that makes a point, provides evidence, and shows some kind of organization.

 Discussion

  • In Angela Palumbo's You Don't Need to Hear About the Bead, she wrote about how it is unnecessary to include every detail about the characters in your story.  I chose the same quote that she analyzed although I looked at it more as an opportunity to develop our characters fully to make them come alive in the story.
  • In Angelica Guzzo's Unpopularity on the Dance Floor, I commented on how the way people present themselves affects how society perceives them.

Blogging Resolution for Discussion:  I need to keep better track of on which entries I comment.  That way, when I compile my next portfolio, I will not have to go on a blog-wide scavenger hunt. 

Now that you have gotten through my beast of a portfolio, maybe you should go tackle some others.

Will You Or Won't You Woo Me?

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"Anne: What is your will?

Slender: My will?  'Od's heartlings, that's a pretty jest indeed!  I ne'er made my will yet, I thank God.  I am not such a sickly creature, I give heaven praise" (Shakespeare 55-58).

I love this line; I laughed out loud when I read it.  Right after Anne insists to Shallow that he let Slender woo for himself, Slender replies to her question with this. 

In my opinion, Shakespeare is making his male characters look like fools in this play.  This is very surprising to me, because he, being a male himself, perhaps would not like to portray his fellow men in this way.  But he really gives the play a female perspective (hence the name The Merry Wives of Windsor).  I want to know his reason behind it (though perhaps I will never know) and I am hoping that as I progress through the play, this reason will come to light.  This is quite different from the Shakespearian tragedies that I am used to, but I am enjoying it a lot.

I am interested to see what fate Shakespeare has planned for his male characters.

These Are NOT Love Songs

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"Both poems are 'love songs' (obviously both Donne and Eliot use song in their titles) uttered in the courtly love tradition by personas who view male-female relationships warily" (Blythe and Sweet).

 

I'm sorry, but just because poets use the words "love" or "song" in the title of their poems does not mean that it is a love song. 

Love + Song ≠ Love Song (for those of you who prefer to see things mathematically).

 

It depends on what you think constitutes a love song.  To me, a love song is positive and speaks of the L-word with affection. 

 

Both narrators in John Donne and T.S. Eliot’s poems sound pretty miserable to me.  In Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”, the narrator is depressed and wants to sleep all the time:

 

“We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown” (Eliot 129-131).

 

Death.  How romantic.

 

The narrator in John Donne’s “Song: Go and catch a falling star” seems to be fed up with women and their unfaithful ways:

 

“And swear,

No where

Lives a woman true, and fair” (Donne 16-18).

 

Oh baby.  He really loves women, doesn’t he? 

 

For Blythe and Sweet to call these poems love songs simply based off of their titles is not very convincing.  I want evidence as to why these are considered love songs.  They would be considered misery songs in my book.

 

I'm not going to write you a love song, but I will give you the link back to the course website.

 

Nothing Good Comes Out Of Closets

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"Quickly: The young man is an honest man.

Caius:  Vat shall de honest man do in my closset?  Dere is no honest man dat shall come in my closset"  (Shakespeare 69-71). 

There is a consistent obsession with honesty throughout Act I of The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare.  Sir Hugh Evans speaks of liars, Mistress Quickly tries to hide Simple in Caius's closet, etc. 

Honestly (since we're talking about it), one of the reasons why I chose this exchange is because it made me laugh.  Caius has good reason to be worried--what the hell would a man being doing in his closet?

Think about your childhood.  Where did all the scary monsters come from?  The closet. 

But, next time you see your closet door open in the middle of the night, don't be frightened.  It's just Simple.  :-)

Enter the closet of quotes.

To be imperfect or not to be imperfect...that is the question

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"And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare" (Shakespeare 13-14). 
 
Good thing Shakespeare threw those last two lines in there, because if he would have read this aloud to his mistress, she probably would have slapped him after the first stanza.  :-P
 
Seriously though, Shakespeare finds beauty in imperfection.  He is making his mistress real to us in this poem.  How many odes or sonnets have you read that make the woman the narrator is in love with out to be a goddess?  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but the fact that this sonnet does not follow that pattern is what makes it unique.  He is pointing out her flaws to show us that she is a real person.  That makes the ending (where he confesses his love for her) much more significant.  He is saying despite all her imperfections, he still loves her.  If he described her as a glowing goddess with beauty like no other and then at the end said that he loved her, we'd be like, "Yeah, well, who wouldn't?  Every man in town would be after her."  When he writes in this way, he makes his mistress much more important to us (as readers).   

Oh The Irony

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"One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die" (Donne 13-14).
 
My one question that I have about these two final lines is why is death not capitalized in the first half of line 14, but then capitalized in the second half?  Perhaps the first half is referring to the concept of death whereas the second half is referring to Death personified. 
 
Regardless, this poem indicates that an afterlife exists.  It is named as a Holy Sonnet, so it has some relevance to religion.  Depending on your beliefs, this "one short sleep past" can represent many things, but I believe that it represents that short period of time after a person dies when they reflect on their life (ex: the carriage ride in Emily Dickinson's poem "Because I could not stop for Death"). 
 
At this point, Death thinks he has won; he thinks that he is victorious and has succeeded in his goal of capturing yet another human life.  But he is wrong, because when he looks down at the grave, he sees only a body; the soul has gone on to another life.  Death would be quite upset at this failure and (metaphorically speaking) he would die.   
 
Oops.  I guess Death didn't know about karma.
 
If you didn't like my take on it, read somebody else's.

Damnation and Starvation

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"Who of little love                    
Know how to starve!" (Dickinson 15-16).   

I could not help but hear Thomas C. Foster's words (well the titles of two chapters in his book, How to Read Literature Like a Professor) in my head when I read those lines: "When in doubt, it's either from Shakespeare...or the Bible." 

Though Dickinson makes many biblical references in this poem, these two lines conveyed a hidden reference to me: the story of Adam and Eve.  Adam and Eve were doing just fine until Eve got hungry and was tempted by a serpent and ate the forbidden fruit.  That's the scenario in a nutshell, but does it not give the same idea?  Temptation is evil.  And yet, Dickinson describes God's table as being held too high for us, almost as if we are being teased by it.  Instead of us humans trying to leap and jump and get on the table for some food, we starve.  Why?  Because we know better.  Eve ate the fruit, offered Adam some, and then before she knew it, they were kicked out of Eden wearing clothes.  Letting temptation get the best of us is not a good thing--and God most likely would not appreciate food being stolen from his table.  We would rather starve than risk our chances of going to Heaven.   

 

War and God

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"When the people believe the war necessary, not only to secure the nation and her principles, but to further the cause of Christ and morality, victory is charged with even more intensity" (Monteiro 31).

This whole idea really goes back to our class discussion on "The Defence of Fort McHenry" by Francis Scott Key.  Some of my fellow classmates posed the question: "How could these people associate war with God?".  In Emily Dickinson's poem, "Victory Comes Late", she mentions both.    Katherine A. Monteiro further analyzes this in her article, "Dickinson's 'Victory Comes Late'". 

Victory no longer is just a word of war; it's a word of religion.  Let's put this in their perspective.  If they win the war, God has won.  If they lose the war, the Devil has won.  Later in the article, Monteiro says, "No matter who wins the battle or the war, the victory means nothing to the dead."  I have to disagree.  I think that the victory means a lot to the dead (although they were no longer there).  If their fellow soldiers lost the battle, then they died for nothing.  If their fellow soldiers won the battle, then they died for God.  The real question is how does this idea of war and religion affect the dead?  The dead are going somewhere (according to their religion) regardless of who won the war.  But does that somewhere depend upon whether or not they were victorious?  Monteiro should not disregard the dead soldiers in her analysis of the poem.   

Stop and Smell the Dead Roses

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"BECAUSE I could not stop for Death,    
He kindly stopped for me;    
The carriage held but just ourselves    
And Immortality" (Dickinson 1-4).

The first two lines struck me because it seems as though the narrator is too busy being wrapped up in her own life to stop and do much of anything.  But death most of the time is unexpected and is really the only thing that can stop the cycle of everyday life.  You most likely already figured that out so I am going to move on to my second analysis.

The last two lines in the first stanza are quite peculiar.  Depending on your religious or spiritual beliefs, you may or may not associate immortality with death.  As human beings, we are considered mortals; we are all inevitably going to die.  Being immortal implies everlasting life.  So why are Death and Immortality riding in the same carriage?  Does the narrator have to make a choice between Heaven and Hell here?  But then, Death is not portrayed in an evil manner in this context.  So it's not so much a choice between Heaven and Hell, but life and death.  Are Death and Immortality the same person?            

So Symbolism Happens On Purpose?!

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"Along about now you should be asking a question, something like this: you keep saying that the writer is alluding to this obscure work and using that symbol or following some pattern or other that I never heard of, but does he really intend to do that?  Can anyone really have all that going on in his head at one time?" (Foster 82).

Foster goes on to answer "yes" and then says that nobody can be certain but he emphasizes the point that authors write with intention and purpose.  I agree, writers put symbols and allegories in stories for a reason, but is it always purely intentional?  I don't think so.

Most writers just start writing without any real idea of where they are going.  They may think they are going to write a story about a high school romance and end up writing about a horror story set in an old castle.  If they are just starting to figure their thoughts out, how much attention are they going to pay to symbols?  Now, after they've written a few drafts, they will pay more attention to those details, but even then, not everything they write is intended to be a symbol.  I just came to this realization myself with my own short story.

In my story, the protagonist has asthma and is particularly sensitive to smoke.  What does that mean?  Nothing really.  She just coughs a lot when there is smoke around.  But then after writing my rough draft and I went back to revise, I realized something.  Air is a constant presence in my story and it is actually a...SYMBOL!  Yes, I discovered a symbol in my own story that I did not even know was there.  AND I WROTE IT!  Air symbolized the oppression of the nationalist party that was controlling Spain at the time of the Spanish Civil War.  In both scenes where my protagonist has confrontations with this party, she finds it very hard to breathe. 

WHOA.  Not all symbols are intentional.  I am now more conscious of that aspect of my story and I refuse to cut any scenes where the smoke is present because I now like the symbolism behind it.  Is not cutting the scenes intentional?  Yes.  But the symbol was not.

A Love Song With A Cup Of Joe

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"I have measured out my life with coffee spoons..." (Eliot 51).

This quote jumped out at me because it created a scene in my mind.  I am not sure whether or not Prufrock was an avid coffee drinker, but I am, so this is my interpretation of the quote. 

Prufrock appears to have been with many women: "For I have known them all already, known them all..." (Eliot 49).  Other lines later in the poem reflect this as well.  The scene that was created in my mind was that Prufrock had a one-night stand, woke up, made himself a cup of coffee, and reflected on how his love life had no depth. 

Morning tends to be a time of thinking.  One reflects on yesterday's activities as well as prepares for the ones to come.  Prufrock appears to be doing this.  When he is measuring his life, he is reflecting on the past.  What better way to do that than over coffee?

 

I'm Foreshadowing...A Blog Entry

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"'I wouldn't take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it.  I couldn't answer to my conscience if I did'" (O'Connor 1).

In Flannery O'Connor's A Good Man Is Hard To Find, the grandmother makes the above statement while talking to her grandson.  When I read that statement I thought: "foreshadowing".  It is dangerous for characters to make claims like that, because karma is usually a main factor in a story. 

It follows through.  Though it was purely accidental, the grandmother did inevitably lead her grandchildren and the rest of her family to the Misfit and their untimely deaths. 

Foreshadowing...on the first page of a story!  Why is it so significant?  I honestly do not think most readers would notice it.  When you begin to read a story, you are just getting comfortable with the text and dialogue, and you do not think too much about other elements.  I almost skipped it over myself.  But catching these things early on can set a different mood to the story.   

To think, we read through 22 pages to find out the ending when it was really staring us in the face on the first page.  Sneaky writers.

 

Imagine A World Of...Imagination

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"I often tell my students that reading is an activity of the imagination, and the imagination in question is not the writer's alone" (Foster 46).

Give someone with no imagination Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky" and see what they get out of it.  They might learn some new words, but other than that, it will not mean anything to them.  If they cannot create a picture in their mind from the words that are written on the page, they will be very unsuccessful in reading much of anything. 

Imagination is so important, not only to a reader or a writer, but to everyone. 

I am not a big fan of horror movies (some are too gory for me to handle and others just insult my intelligence).  I do however, enjoy horror stories.  Ever since I was a small child, I was fascinated with the paranormal.  I started with Goosebumps by R.L. Stine, moved onto the series Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, then Fear Street (more R.L. Stine) and eventually Stephen King.    

 

Okay, Lauren, so what's your point?  We don't care about your creepy fascination with the paranormal. 

(Pulled a Foster there, didn't I?)

The point is that most of the time I will be more likely to sleep with the light on after reading a scary story as opposed to watching a scary movie.  Why?  My imagination is much stronger than what is often times presented to me on a movie screen.  Watching a movie does not necessarily require imagination.  The characters are right in front of you, speaking out loud, in a realistic setting; you can see every last detail.  With a book, all you have is words.  It is left up to you, the reader, to make the characters, the dialogue, and the setting come to life in your mind. 

Which requires...(say it with me now)...IMAGINATION.   

Characteristics of Characters

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"In order to develop a living, breathing, multi-faceted character, it is important to know way more about the character than you will ever use in the story" (Short Stories: 10 Tips for Novice Creative Writers Section 3: Developing Characters).

This is an excellent piece of advice.  I remember having to write two short stories for my creative writing class in high school, and one of the issues that I struggled with the most was making my characters come alive.  When I wrote the first draft, the characters in the story were nothing more than just names on a page.  Meaningless.  Even saying their names out loud did not help--they just sounded awkward and unimportant.  It was then that I realized that I had to make them become important.  I could throw in as many adjectives as I wanted to, but the character would never become real until I went beyond the story.  I myself had to believe that they were real people, that they could function in our society as true human beings. 

Now, before I write, I try to come up with a character and make a list of all the traits, memories, and important events in that person's life.  One of the items on the list will usually spark my idea for a story.  That is where I draw my inspiration from.  It all starts with the characters.

Want to see what other people had to say?  Go here

 

 

Let's Talk About Overlap

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"Poetry is usually divided into three main types: EPIC, DRAMATIC, and LYRIC.  All three types of poetry share certain common traits: an emphasis on the connections between the sound and sense of words; controlled patterns of rhythm and syntax; vivid, often figurative language; and close attention to the visual and other sensory effects of the arrangement of words on the page.  Although many of these characteristics also apply to FICTION and DRAMA, and even to ordinary prose, they are particularly concentrated in poetry" (Hamilton 13). 

What I find amazing, is that there are like ten billion categories for drama, fiction, and poetry and most of them overlap with each other anyway.  My particular favorite was on page 15 of Sharon Hamilton's Essential Literary Terms.  Here she explains the details of a dramatic monologue in a section about poetry.  Now maybe I got confused here or misunderstood the text, but wouldn't a dramatic monologue take place in a...well, I don't know...a drama?  So why conform it to poetry?  Wasn't Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech a dramatic monologue?  Now, most of Shakespeare's plays were all written in poetry, so it would make sense for Hamlet's monologue to be poetic.  But why create all of these categories that will ultimately confuse the reader if a piece of literature can be poetry and drama at the same time?  Perhaps I am too picky about these things. 

Though we are supposed to compare a piece of literature that we have read so far in this class to these terms, I would not consider "Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll to be a dramatic monologue by any means.  Even though it seems like it could have been made into a drama, there is more than one perspective involved and there is not a sense of just one person speaking to the audience.  There is a bit of dialogue, but it is mostly description.  In the exercises in the text, most of the examples seem to be pulled from larger literary works, like a play.  There are dramatic monologues that can stand by themselves, but I do not understand why we have to be so specific in our literary categories. 

Poetry is drama, drama is prose, and prose is poetry.  Ha!  Now I just broke all the rules.     

Stopping By This Entry On A Rainy Evening

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"The seasons are always the same in literature and yet always different" (Foster 181). 

This sentence, though somewhat contradictory, says a lot.  It seems that most people do associate winter with death and destruction and spring with life and rebirth.  In almost every piece of literature, I can determine the mood based on the weather (which Foster goes on to explain as well).  If it's winter, it will probably be an upsetting story.  If it is spring, it will probably be a joyous story.  I hate it when writers stick to that cliche, though. 

As much as I hate winter, one of my favorite poems is "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening" by Robert Frost.  The way he describes the evening just makes me want to be there.

"The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep" (Frost).

 

Well, easy wind and downy flake does not sound so bad to me, even as a person who hates winter. 

I already know that winter is miserable and cold (don't remind me).  What really impresses me is when a writer can convince me otherwise. 

Weather (haha) you liked my entry or not, you should check out what these people had to say as well.

Knot Exactly A Happy Ending

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Mrs. Hale (her hand against her pocket): "We call it--knot it, Mr. Henderson" (Glaspell). 

The last line of the play may be one of the creepiest endings in literature that I have ever read.  The minute I read it, all I could imagine was Mrs. Wright tying the rope around Mr. Wright's neck.  The entire drama seemed to give the message of "Don't underestimate the women." 

However, we cannot completely make Mrs. Wright to be an evil, murderous woman.  Mr. Wright did not only (allegedly) kill her bird, he killed her spirit.  All the descriptions that Mrs. Hale gave of a younger Mrs. Wright seemed completely different from what she was in later years.  This is not just a tale of revenge--Mrs. Wright was standing up for herself.  In no way am I justifying murder; I am just pointing out that Mrs. Wright's motive was beyond avenging the death of her bird, she was avenging herself.  The attorney and sheriff kept saying how they needed a motive; judging by their perceptions of women, they most likely never would have never figured out Mrs. Wright's true motive.

Want a different perception of this play?  Go here.

A Fan That Can Heat Things Up Or Cool Things Down

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"There was a moment's silence while she did unimpressive things with her fan" (Fitzgerald Part I, Paragraph 30)  This quote also goes along with: "She turned an ungraceful red and became clumsy with her fan" (Fitzgerald Part I, Paragraph 37).  See this site for more significant quotes from Bernice Bobs Her Hair by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Even though as critical readers we are supposed to look beyond our own perspectives while reading a text, we still keep those lenses through which we see the world.  My one specific lens to which I am referring to is that of the Spanish major.  Why I am I telling you this?  So that you can understand why this specific quote jumped out to me. 

In Spanish culture, the fan was not simply a device used to bring a nice cool breeze to the ladies' faces--it was used as a courtship device as well.  (You can read more about it here in the first paragraph of this article.)  They used the fan to their advantage by fluttering it excitedly when they wanted to attract a male's attention or waving it lazily when they were trying to show their dislike. 

The fact that Warren notices how Bernice holds her fan shows that it was an important social tool in this society as well.  The words that he uses to describe the manner in which she uses it ("unimpressive" and "clumsy") shows his overall opinion of her.  She either has very little confidence in herself, is not interested in Warren, or simply does not intend to use the fan as a flirtation device.  It amazes me how the smallest details can affect a someone's opinion of a person.

Now, Where Have I Seen This Quote Before?

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"What typically takes place is that we recognize elements from some prior text and begin drawing comparisons and parallels that may be fantastic, parodic, tragic, anything.  Once that happens, our reading of the text changes from the reading governed by what's overtly on the page" (Foster 33-34). 

In Chapter 5 of How to Read Literature Like a Professor, "Now Where Have I Seen Her Before?", Thomas C. Foster explains the importance of drawing parallels in our reading.  While he states that making these comparisons to other texts are not essential to our general understanding of the work of literature, they do give us that "aha! factor" and make us see beyond the text. 

Did you ever have a moment while reading, let's say, Shakespeare where you realize that if you did not have those little footnotes on the page that you would have barely understood the play at all?  There obviously was a reason for modern society to update the works of Shakespeare by adding footnotes to the published product.  There were not only words in there that we did not understand, but little anecdotes that were past our time.  If it was not pointed out to us that in the time of Romeo and Juliet, they believed that their lives were controlled by fate, then Romeo's quote in Act V of the play, "Then I defy you, stars" would have not held any significance to us in our understanding of the tragedy. 

In many modern books, however, there are no footnotes and it is left up to us to draw the comparisons between one text and another.  It obviously more beneficial to us, then, to have an expansive knowledge of other literary works. 

"Hello, hello, hello
Is there anybody in there?

Just nod if you can hear me
Is there anyone at home?"

I figured those were the best words with which to start out my first blog entry (thank you, Pink Floyd). 

Okay.  I just wanted to make sure that this worked.

:)

Happy Friday!