September 2009 Archives

Empty Spaces, You're No Match for Me.

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So the whole time I was reading Frost's "Desert Places" all I could think about was why is the speaker out in the middle of a snowstorm to begin with, especially when the speaker feels so lonely? I don't know about you, but if I get lonely the last place I'm going to go out into is a snowstorm. That just seems like you're purposefully trying to be lonely or perhaps have a death wish.

The best line though was probably, "They cannot scare me with their empty spaces" (13) because I never really thought about snow having empty spaces or a "nothing[ness] to express" (11). Unfortunately, line 13 continues to show that the speaker is more afraid of the emptiness that the snow presents rather than reinforce that the speaker is not afraid of it. Furthermore, "To scare myself with my own desert places" (16) only serves to restate what was already said in line 13. Maybe Frost did this to make sure the reader really understands that the speaker didn't feel a connection with the snow. Either way, was the ending line really necessary since the reader should have been able to figure all of this out from the rest of the poem?

Flaws Make a Story

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The biggest difference between simply writing an observation about a particular piece of literature and analyzing one of the major flaws or problems in the story, play, or poem is that you're using a certain interpretation of the work to back up a problem that you found in the writing. By including your own opinion or interpretation of the work into fixing or explaining the problem with the work, one can better understand the problems in a story. For example in Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) the MacDonald fixed the flaw or problem in both Othello and Romeo and Juliet. A paper could be made about why these were such flaws to the plays that Shakespeare wrote, and in a way MacDonald solved the problem and proved why such scenes were particularly annoying to the reader. The only thing MacDonald didn't do was explain whether these scenes or changes were necessary or effective in the plays.

Roberts doesn't particularly go over anything that I wasn't aware of before from other teachers. However, it's a new way of viewing events in literature that may have been overlooked otherwise. Plus, by making "objections depends on unusual rather than usual conditions" (Roberts 177), the person writing the paper concludes new or different ways of viewing a work of literature. It then snowballs into a bigger and better idea for a paper. Besides without those horrible or unusual reasons behind the character's actions, the story becomes boring or typical. This then becomes even worse than just getting mad at the main character that refuses to just explain what happened to the other character that's causing the conflict.

Untrodden Politics

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"She lived unknown, and few could know/ When Lucy ceased to be;/ But she is in her grave, and, oh,/The  difference to me!" (9-12 Woodsworth).

I really liked the imagery that Woodsworth presented in his poem, "She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways." Mostly because the speaker is presenting this girl who is very pretty, but very hard to find and throughout the poem the reader doesn't really understand why she is so hard to find. Then the speaker lets it be known that the girl is actually dead. It also exemplifies the feeling of how much the speaker actually loved the girl especially when the speaker says, "-Fair as a star, when only one/Is shining in the sky" (6-7) and showing that no matter what he will always have a place inside of his heart.  

I really liked the way Yeats spoke about love as if there should me more important things to think about and worry about in the poem, "Politics." The speaker is trying to illustrate the love of one's country and how politics and thought should be important, but at the same time the speaker may also mean that a girl or love is more important than anything political. For example in lines, "How can I, that girl standing there" (1) and "held her in my arms" (12) shows that the woman could be a distracter to the speaker to take his mind from the everyday horrors of politics and war. However, this could just mean that the speaker wishes to start a young country over again and to coddle it in the speaker's arms. Either way, it still holds a romantic tone whether about a country or a person. Together the two poets have a very interesting take on love, nature, and mostly Yeats discusses anything political.

Sitting on the Fence

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We discussed in class about the Disney princesses, but while they were being explained, I had no idea what half of the references were. I wasn't really the type of girl who really like Disney princess movies. I was more into the action ones or things like Lion King or Toy Story. I actually hadn't seen the Little Mermaid until last year when my roommate forced me to watch it for the first time. Still, I find myself to be one of those people who aren't necessarily waiting for the right person to come along and find me, but more of a romantic than most people. What I'm getting at is that Disney princesses may have started the thought or continued to reaffirm that women should just wait around and someone will come along one day and fall for you, but the truth is that it has nothing to do with Disney. It's the culture that a person grows up in. It's kind of like an innate characteristic that people girls grow up with that's perpetuated by our parents the same way that most people buy their daughters dolls and their sons action figures.

In connection to Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet), Constance has the same belief. She thought that she had to have love at first sight, but then she goes on to realize that it was not love at first sight. She only came to love him because they were in close proximity to one another, and he was nice to her. Still once she figures this out, she decides to be her own person and not worry about love finding her. In the original, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet only really had one option and that was to get married. Her parents were going to set her up with someone else and force her to marry him which may have seemed weak, but really that was just a tradition of the time period. Women were not seen as equal to men because the culture of the time taught women to be weak and follow orders or at the very least to find someone who would marry them.

Still, even at the very end when Constance is being fought over between Juliet and Desdemona she is making a clear decision to not be either person. She is establishing that she wants to fall somewhere in the middle. "Nay...both of you. I've had it with all the magic tunnel vision around here" (86). She then goes on to explain how hard real life is which further shows that she wants to fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes that Desdemona and Juliet represent.

The Significance of a Birthday

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The very last line of dialogue in the play is, "Happy Birthday Constance" (88) said by both Desdemona and Juliet in the play Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) by Ann-Marie MacDonald. It took me awhile after that moment to realize why the birthday was so important and why all three of the main characters (Desdemona, Constance, and Juliet) had the same birthday. It's because they're all the same person which is clearly stated throughout the play when they say "'Where two plus one adds up to one, not three'" (88 and other places). Still this wasn't immediately apparent to me as it probably should have been. Regardless, this foreshadowing further represents the different parts of Constance's self that are enhanced by both Desdemona and Juliet. This is clearly the whole point of the play, to have Constance realize she is a better person than she gives herself credit for since Constance is constantly putting herself down through certain speeches that she gives.

Desdemona represents the power struggle that she has with herself, and how Constance should fight back and stand up for herself by not allowing Claude or the students to walk all over her. She even allows Claude to put her down when he asks her "What gives you the notion you're special?" and Constance follows it up with, "I'm just one flaw and isolated fragment of a perfect infinite mind like everybody else" (16) illustrating how common she is and that there is nothing unique about her. Even though the evidence is all around that she is unique, she just can't see it. Desdemona helps her find that inner strength inside of her that was just begging to be brought out.

Juliet, on the other hand, represents the part of herself that wishes to find love. Constance is in love with Claude, which is a dead end since he is leaving her and marrying Ramona. It isn't until Juliet asks Constance about her love life does she realize that it is unrequited love that she should have gotten away from long ago. Still both Juliet and Desdemona help Constance find her true self. Yet as foolish as Constance may have been, I found myself feeling like a fool at the end for not having seen what was coming the whole time. The foreshadowing and riddles were all set up to let the reader know the ending, but I just missed it completely. Then again, maybe I'm just not giving MacDonald enough credit here for her writing.   

Portfolio One

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Here is my portfolio for the first part of Writing About Literature class.


Too Many Ideas? - This was in connection to the Chapter in Roberts and discusses why the bulleted list on page 60 were important

Someone Needed to Tie the Knot - Chapter Three of Roberts with a connection to the play "Trifles" by Susan Glaspell

A True Hero: Mrs. Hale - A closer look at the character, Mrs. Hale, from "Trifles" by Susan Glaspell

Getting Too Old For This - A perspective on Billy Collins poem On Turning Ten

A Devilish Illusion - A different and somewhat unrealistic view of "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce

A View From All Angles - Chapter Four from Roberts on checklists and different points of view

Lighting the Way - A closer examination of the light elements throughout the story "The Three Strangers" by Thomas Hardy

Flashback: You May Remember This From Before - Chapter Five from Roberts that looked at flashbacks and their effectiveness

You Mean So Much...Kinda - An interpretation of Sonnet 73 by Shakespeare

Blinded By Metaphors - A close reading of the poem "Metaphors" by Sylvia Plath



A True Hero: Mrs. Hale:

-          Here I discussed briefly why Mrs. Hale was the most important character in the play "Trifles" by Susan Glaspell.

A Devilish Illusion:

-          I took a different approach to the text of "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce and saw something that was probably a little wrong after hearing what other people said, but is still valid if you stretch your imagination. I took the story to be that his last few minutes of thought were actually a mechanism to torture him. What's more horrible than seeing your family and then being ripped away from them?

Lighting the Way:

-          I discuss the impact lighting had on the story of "The Three Strangers" and used several points to indicate that the author was intentionally doing this as a part of foreshadowing.

Blinded by Metaphors:

-          Here I look at "Metaphors" by Sylvia Plath a little closer



Am I Missing Something - Karyssa Blair

-          Karyssa talked about how taking away certain aspects of a story make it incomplete to the reader. I posted to the contrary and actually got Karyssa to change her mind that not every story does the reader need to know everything.

Stranger one, in the chimney corner, with the pipe!  - Karyssa Blair

-          I thought Karyssa's idea seemed good and how everything was a lot scarier back in 1888 when people were less likely to see the foreshadowing in the story a discussion was then forthcoming.

Plath is so damn depressing - Aja Hannah

-          Aja was trying to find the depressing part or to figure out what the poem "Metaphors" meant. I explained that the last line had a good connotation to it. Josie opposed this, but actually reevaluated the poem and agreed with it being positive later.

Daddy Issues - Josie Rush

-          Josie looked at the little parts of Plath's poem that make it even creepier and darker than just skimming the surface would. A discussion was hence forthcoming about certain aspects of the poem.



Someone Needed to Tie the Knot

Getting Too Old For This

A Devilish Illusion

Lighting the Way

Flashback: You May Remember This From Before

You Mean So Much...Kinda




 Too Many Ideas?

Someone Needed to Tie the Knot

A True Hero: Mrs. Hale

Getting Too Old For This

A Devilish Illusion

A View From All Angles

Lighting the Way

Flashback: You May Remember This From Before

You Mean So Much...Kinda

Blinded By Metaphors



Plath is so damn depressing - Aja Hannah

-          Here I posted first to Aja's question of what the last line meant. Others followed and some opinions were actually changed.

Am I Missing Something? - Karyssa Blair

-          Here I looked at something differently that led to other people following it up with different claims or seeing the topic from different perspectives.

The Type of Awe Thous Mayst in Blog Behold - Karyssa Blair

-          Here I was able to comment first about a good second person point of view that Karyssa could interact with if she wanted to see a book done in second person. Also, I brought up a discussion topic that may be a little out there in left field, but she responded to.



Lighting the Way

-          I really liked writing this entry mostly because it was an interesting claim to make that got some attention. However, No one really went against the idea even if no one else happened to see that the light was important to the foreshadowing of the story.

Blinded By Metaphors

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"Metaphors" by Sylvia Plath really stood out to me. I really liked the imagery she used to convey the fact that the speaker was pregnant. The imagery really exaggerates the use of food throughout the poem such as melons, red fruit, and apples that illustrates that she was trying to eat healthy as well as indicate the speaker is getting larger. Line 7, "I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf" illustrates the feeling of having a growing baby inside by indicating that a stage is set and eventually the child will come out, and the speaker will no longer be needed for that part of the process. The last line, "boarded the train there's no getting off" really clinches the point that once a person conceives a child there is no turning back. Furthermore, Plath manages to really show that the speaker has a certain fondness for the child growing inside of her by the overall tone of the poem as well as the healthy conscious food choices. Overall, I thought Plath detailed the experience of how it would feel to be pregnant by using metaphors like "an elephant, a ponderous house" (2) to insinuate that a person feels very large while carrying a child and give the reader the sense of understanding and connection by such imagery. Mostly though, I just liked her use of metaphors.

You Mean So Much..Kinda

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I don't know about you, but when I found out we would have to read something by Shakespeare, I groaned on the inside before settling down to read the short sonnet. It's not that Shakespeare doesn't capture feelings of love and death in an intriguing way through Sonnet 73 or the strangeness of the language that throws me off, but there's always just been something about his writing that I don't like.

Determined to try to find something great about this poem, I managed to actually enjoy lines five and six, "In me thou seest the twilight of such day/As after sunset fadeth in the West." The intriguing imagery that appeared in my mind when I read this line (after about six tries) finally came out looking like something that I could relate to. These two lines talk about those few short moments of true beauty that lights up the sky as the sun starts to set before it is completely hidden by the cloak of night. Continuing further into the poem, the reader sees the connection between how little a person's life really lasts and how a person should take every opportunity to see the beauty in life. That's a pretty powerful connection that Shakespeare is trying to state. This connection would lead the reader to believe that Shakespeare is intending the love to be everlasting even in death, but in the last few lines, the speaker kind of states that it's over once the person dies. Regardless of the ending, it still leaves the reader with a powerful imagery of how important the time spent with this person as well as the person in general is to the speaker.

Flashback: You May Rember This From Before

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"The flashback might lead you into a moment of climax but then go from there to develop the details that are more properly part of the exposition" (101).

While reading chapter five of Roberts, I was completely drawn into the part about flashbacks. This could be because they're usually my favorite part in a story or book. (Plus, it gives me the chance to push one of my favorite books on everyone.) Usually sequencing a story in the bland way of this happens, followed by this, and as an end result this happens gets old quickly. By using the flashback method the writer can entertain the reader and leave several cliffhangers throughout the story.

In the book, The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, the author expertly uses the flashback mechanism to illustrate what is taking place. Throughout the story, the characters are thrown between the craziness that is taking place in the present as well as still being tangled and engaged with the past. Through the explanation of the past, the present situation starts to become a little clearer to all the characters. Without having use of flashbacks, this story could not have been set up in the same format to include the narrator who learns about the past from these flashbacks. It also allows the reader to try to guess the ending of the story of who's who and how the book will end, which actually turns out to be trickier than you might imagine.  

Lighting the Way

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Throughout Thomas Hardy's "The Three Strangers" light is used as a mechanism for what is about to happen next or at least has some symbolism behind it as a way of helping the first stranger escape death. The very first interaction the reader has with light is on page 327 where "lights were scattered around the room, two of them standing on the chimney piece. This position of candles was in itself significant. Candles on the chimney piece always meant a party." Hardy is indicating that there is some significance to the lighting or the atmosphere that the candles cast. This euphoric scene is about to be disturbed by a stranger.

When the first stranger walks in, "the shepherd arose, snuffed two of the nearest candles, and turned to look at him" (330) illustrating that there is some importance to why these two candles were snuffed out. My first impression was that there was something mysterious about the first stranger. Because why else would the author choose at that moment to extinguish two candles? It may also show that the stranger is a dangerous man for later the reader finds out later that he stole sheep and is set to be hanged the following day. However, by further looking into the details about what the first stranger did, the words, "in open daylight "(334) display another light element that shows that the first stranger was merely trying to feed his family by stealing two sheep. He had no real intention of not getting caught, but simply needed to do something or starve to death.

Later when the people are all chasing after the third stranger, believing him to be the real thief, they have lanterns that, "seemed rather to dazzle their eyes and warn the fugitive than to assist them in the exploration, were extinguished" (337-338). This demonstrates that sometimes people are blind to their own understanding of what is taking place and therefore must come to their own conclusions of who the real thief is instead of believing the second stranger. By believing the second stranger, they allow the real thief to get away.

Finally, "the third stranger was led to the light" (338) where the whole story unravels and everyone understands what happened as well as who the three strangers really were.  The people do not decide to continue their search for the real thief, perhaps because of the man's noble intentions of wishing to feed his family, but also because they simply did not wish to continue the matter further. Overall, the author seems to pay particular attention to the details of the scenes and characters, and as a result the lights seem to play a significant role of foreshadowing and symbolism throughout the story.  

A View From All Angles

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Another kind of checklist to make sure to run through while editing a paper was in the fourth chapter of Roberts' book. You get things like, "What prompts the speaker to tell the story in this point of view?" and "How does the speaker acquire the authority to explain things to the listener?" (87) These helpful questions are usually pretty easy to skim through and can definitely help a person rethink if the paper is done correctly or whether or not a story has the right point of view.

Aside from that, I found myself favoring the omniscient view point that allows the reader to see inside multiple speakers' heads. The style of knowing everything before it occurs helps paint a more accurate picture for the reader. However, this would not be useful when the author is intentionally trying to hide something from the reader or intending for the reader to make inferences about what is taking place in the story.

The chapter also discussed how there is always some bias in the speaker's interpretation of the events. I was aware of this before. However, when I'm reading a story it gets thrown out the window and forgotten about. This small reminder that every character has a different reason or favoritism towards one position or another allowed me to see the story, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce in a new way to include why the author chose the different view points for certain aspects of the work (that several people touched upon in their previous blog entries).


A Devilish Illusion

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What do we really know about death? We can try to figure out something to believe in after our own deaths, but perhaps death is really understood in the short story, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce. Bierce sets up the story by telling us all about a man, Peyton Farquhar, who is about to be hanged for stalling soldiers from passing to other areas. Farquhar briefly entertains ideas of his own escape. However, Farquhar died before he can completely think out this plan. Now in hell, he is doomed to repeat a very vivid and well thought out escape over and over. The line "as these thoughts, which have here to be set down in words, were flashed into the doomed man's brain rather than evolved..." (318) illustrates that the thoughts of escape are nothing more than illusions. The devil has gone through the trouble of conjuring up a believable escape, the very same thoughts the dead man has before he is killed, but much more thorough. Furthermore "Peyton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek bridge" leads the reader to see that none of the events actually took place, since the split few seconds from when he is standing on the platform to when he is sailing through the air does not establish a long enough time line for the whole plan to unfold. Therefore, the last wishes for freedom will be forever tormenting Farquhar for his actions.

Getting Too Old For This

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I was pretty surprised that a newly turned ten year old boy had such a great view on the world in Billy Collins' poem, On Turning Ten. The lines, "it seems only yesterday I used to believe/ there was nothing under my skin but light"(Collins, 76-77) illustrates how little we really think about the world until we grow up and discover what is supposedly inside of us as well as what is happening on the outside.  The idea that when we grow up we suddenly have to be serious really comes out in this poem. Part of the charm is that the material deals with a serious subject, but uses humor in that a ten year old boy thinks he is too old to be a prince and have imaginary friend which will inevitably only lead to sadness. Therefore indicating that even when a person grows up, the individual doesn't necessarily have to stop being all the things one was as well as believing that only doom or sadness can happen in the future. This poem beautifully captures the contrast between how growing up feels, but also implies how silly it is at the same time.

A True Hero: Mrs. Hale

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                At first reaction, everyone believes the most important character is Mrs. Minnie Wright, in the play Trifles, by Susan Glaspell, even though this woman never says a line of dialogue. Well, that's because she isn't the most important character. Sure, she killed Mr. Wright, or at least all the evidence is pointing that she was the one who most likely did it, but this play isn't about her. It's about Mrs. Hale, the real detective in the story.

                Mrs. Hale is constantly taking punches left and right from the men in this story and suffering from her own guilty conscience for not coming around more often to visit Mrs. Wright. If nothing else, Mrs. Hale takes all the blame stating, "I wish I'd come over here once in a while! That was a crime!" (400). This illustrates just how far Mrs. Hale was willing to go for a woman she barely knew or at least had fallen out of touch with.

                Maybe she was just trying to ease her own mind or perhaps trying to take back some of the dignity she had lost over the years to men who saw her as unequal to their own status, but ultimately, Mrs. Hale was just trying to make things right. Besides she's the one saving the day for Mrs. Wright by stuffing the dead bird in her coat pocket. Now, that's a hero if I ever saw one.

Someone Needed to Tie the Knot

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Character isn't something that I usually think to write a research paper on. It's usually just one of those things that get pushed to the side of my mind. The character is important, but usually the actions and outside influences seem more pressing and important than the main character or characters themselves. However, after reading this chapter, it makes more sense to start from the character and then branch outward to other events or situations that changed the character.

For example, I didn't really get the connection at first between why the women, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters, in Susan Glaspell's play Trifles, helped cover up the evidence that would have definitely put Minnie Wright away. That was until I examined the characters closer. One theory could be that the men in the story seemed to not understand the women. Therefore out of understanding for their own suffering, guilt for not going to see Mrs. Wright more, and the fact that Mr. Wright was supposedly a stern and hard man, you have a recipe for why they found Minnie Wright's actions justifiable enough to hide the evidence. Mrs. Hale at one point says, "She used to sing. He killed that, too," referring to how Mrs. Wright used to sing before her husband took it away from her (Roberts, 399). This furthermore establishes the motive behind Mrs. Wright's decision to kill her husband. This not only excuses Mrs. Wright for why she felt she needed to kill Mr. Wright, but allows the reader to consider that maybe it needed to happen in order for Mrs. Wright to preserve her own sanity.  Then again perhaps, she had just had enough of her husband and decided to do something about it.

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