SarahDurham: September 2009 Archives

So who is Henry David Thoreau

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He wasn't just an author he was also a naturalist, a philosophe, a historian, a surveyor and a tax resister. Walden was is best know work known as a reflection on simple living in nature. I found some other interesting information (which I'm sure I'm not the only one) online. It's only the wikipedia page but I found it to be very interesting.

Nathaniel Hawthorne and his son were good friends of Thoreau, who was born David Henry but later petitioned to change his name, and said "Thoreau is as ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and rustic, though courteous manners, corresponding very well with such an exterior. But his ugliness is of an honest and agreeable fashion, and becomes him much better than beauty."

Do they mean more or are they just a love?

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"As I sit at my window this summer afternoon, hawks are circling about my clearing; the tantivty of wild pigeons, flying by two and three athwart my view, or perching restless on the white pine boughs behind my house..." (ch. 4-5)

It seems like Thoreau is drawn to the birds because of his need to be in nature. The birds are free and live the simple life that he wrote about in the previous chapter. So does he just love birds or does he write about them because they fly free?

Each day brings a new beginning (Walden ch. 2)

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"Every mourning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself. " (ch.2-14)

I've had some trouble through the first read of the essays to really get into it and understand. I felt like it jumps around a little to much for me.

The quote above made me imagine Thoreau taking a deep breath and starting each day fresh and simple. Something that many individuals, especially those in the big cities, forget how to do.
Thoreau is telling us another reason why he lives in the thick of nature. It seems like it is his haven where he can experience all that Nature has to offer.

My question about the early part of this chapter, is he wandering the country side spending time at each property for a time trying to decide if it fits?

Trip to Colorado - My Wild Card

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This summer my husband and I decided to celebrate our anniversary driving half way across the country to attend a friends wedding. The trip started at 5 a.m., I drove first. But around 10 a.m., my darling husband woke up and decided we needed to document the trip. Here are some of the pictures we took.
Start of the cross country trip to Colorado
Being that Ian, my husband, has never been outside of the Eastern Standard Timezone, we took Route 70 from Ligonier to Denver. We spent 18 hours driving the first day. Here are a few things we saw along the first leg.
Family and Colorado trip 049.JPG                                                                          Kansas City

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The Mississippi

The end of Day one somewhere in the middle of Kansas
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Beginning of Day Two

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The Fields of
Sun Flowers
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                                Pearl Street Performers in
                                                Boulder, CO
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Family and Colorado trip 145.JPG

The Rocky Mountains

Family and Colorado trip 178.JPG
The Wedding
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Family and Colorado trip 192.JPG
Family and Colorado trip 194.JPGThe Wedding was beautiful, the scenery AMAZING, and the time will friends and family Priceless.

Although we couldn't have made the trip without our guide, Lola:
Family and Colorado trip 042.JPG

Road trips are always full of fun, frustrations, surprises and great memories. I am happy to have all of them, but some advice for those who want to go out west. Fly.

First Attempt at a Blogging Portfolio

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So far this class has opened my eyes not only to literature that I haven't yet read but to entering further into the technological age by blogging. I am still trying to expand on the idea and am getting better but still finding it somewhat difficult. Although I do learn something new each time I log on so I hope what I have written will be of some interest. Enjoy.

Coverage: (These entries represent all of the reading assignments thus far in the semester)
             Poe, "Masque of the Red Death"
             Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"
Foster, "How to Read Literature..."
(Intro to Ch.3)
Hawthorne, "The Scarlet Letter" (Ch. 1-6)
Hawthorne, "The Scarlet Letter"  (Ch.7-13)
             Foster, "How to Read Literature..." (Ch. 5-7)
             Foster, "How to Read Literature..." (Ch. 8,9,10)
             Hawthorne, "The Scarlet Letter" (Ch. 19-24)
             Hawthorne, "The Scarlet Letter"  (Ch. 14-21)
Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"
Gilman, "The Yellow Wall-paper"
Foster, "How to Read Literature..."
(Interlude, Ch. 11-12)

: (These entries are examined more in depth)
Hawthorne, "The Scarlet Letter" (Ch. 1-6)
            Hawthorne, "The Scarlet Letter"  (Ch. 14-21)
            Gilman, "The Yellow Wall-paper"

Interaction(These are entries where I made comments on my peers blogs)
             Heather Mourick - The Complexities of Human Nature
             Kayla Lesko - Enough Already
             Meagan Gemperlein - Nothing comes from Nothing
             Kayla Lesko - Question: What the Heck is this supposed to be
             Jamie Grace - Hester's Loss of Sunshine              

Discussions: (These are comments made by my peers on my blogs)
            Heather Mourick - "The Scarlet Letter"
            Jessica Apitsch - "The Scarlet Letter"

Timeliness: (These are entries I made before the due date, hoping to spark discussion)
Poe, "Masque of the Red Death"
Hawthorne, "The Scarlet Letter" (Ch. 1-6)
Melville, "Bartleby the Scrivener"
Gilman, "The Yellow Wall-paper"
Foster, "How to Read Literature..."
(Interlude, Ch. 11-12)
Xenoblogging: This I'm not very confident yet with blogging to say I have had the comment Primo, Grande, Informative or Link Gracious. Although as the semester continues I hope I am able to better my blogging skills and possibly have one of each for the next portfolio.

           Trip to Colorado with Ian 

For me literature must be felt not only read

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"Reading literature is a highly intellectual activity, but it also involves affect and instinct to a large degree. Much of what we think about literature, we feel first." (p. 106)

When reading something, to remain interested, I not only feel the feelings of the characters but see the picture the author is trying to depict through the words. In Young Goodman Brown I watched him walk through the dark woods, which looked a lot like those where Hester and Dimmesdale finally spoke. But being able to see the story enables me to get into the life the characters are living. You feel the frustration when Bartleby won't leave and prefers not to do something. You worry about Pearl and Dimmesdale with Hester, and are fearful of what Chillingworth will do next.
Whether you want to our not you feel something when you read literature, good, bad or nothing. That's what the author wants you to do, literature if for enjoyment, education and entertainment.

Rain, snow, fog, mist...

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"You may say that every story needs a setting and that weather is part of the setting." (p.75)
Foster may be bringing up the obvious but I know those are the parts I normally miss. Thinking about the stories we have read so far and others I've read or heard, the weather plays a huge part in the tone or setting in which the story is taking place. Rain in a story evokes the emotions of sadness, fear, depression etc.. Sunshine, happiness, joy, excitement.
Taking the weather descriptions out of literature is like taking the musical soundtrack out of a movie, the picture isn't completely painted like the right emotions may not be felt.

Wholly original? Shakespeare? The Bible?

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"There's no such thing as a wholly original work of literature." (p 29) Or really much else for that matter. Like Foster stated before there is always a quest for self-knowledge for the characters in a story. So we tend to see similar story lines in all forms of entertainment, such as movies and television shows. Sometimes these stories can be so similar there is not interest, sometimes they can be different enough that there is still some entertainment. Also if there is a familiarity about the story we generally try to search our memory of what story we heard it in before, and like Foster points out, "When in doubt its Shakespeare or the Bible."
After reading these chapters I found myself trying to apply the memories I have of all of theses stories to those we are reading in class and the lessons or moral being told in the movies and T.V. shows of today. Thinking about the stories from the bible that teach how we should behave and the relationships found in Shakespeare, made me think about this: Do we act a certain way or have certain social standards because someone made them or because it has been written in literature again and again and put into T.V. shows where we many young individuals find their idols and examples?

Every trip is a quest...

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Every trip is a quest and "the real reason for a quest is always self-knowledge." When I read this the first time I thought of all of the stories I've  heard or all of the movies I've seen where I knew the end of the story before it was over. And how boring it made everything.
Now that we have read a few stories I am able to look at them as a whole and see the journey's that have been taken. For Prince Prospero it was a journey trying to get away from death, but in the end he learned that he could not escape that may be why he chased Death. Young Goodman Brown, took more of a difficult journey questioning his faith and path he was supposed to take. He was tested and seemed to be almost convinced until at the last minute he chose in a sense to stay good, but for Brown there was no typical happy ending because Faith failed her journey. Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter gave us several journeys to follow, for Hester living out her sentence and finding a life within it, for Pearl becoming a successful and happy woman in spite of the troubling childhood, Dimmesdale for suffering through keeping his secret and finding some peace in the end, and Chillingworth becoming more and more dark and vengeful as his journey continued. The journey followed in Bartleby is really of the narrator living the interactions with Bartleby and learning, in the end, almost to not judge a book by its cover.
These journeys are of all different characters that experience very different challenges and struggles, but we can still learn that they all learned something. They aren't just stories but lessons that we can all take something from.


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"My love and my Faith." (p.1) "Faith kept me back a while." (p.2) " that any reason why I should quit my dear Faith and go after her?" (p.6) "With heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!" (p.7) "My faith is gone." (p.8) "Faith! Faith! cried the husband, "look up to heaven, and resist the wicked one." (p12) "he shrank from the bosom of Faith;" (p.13)

Through out the story of Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown, he displays tests of Faith in many different ways. Through the strength in the relationship with Brown's wife, Faith, he tests the trust they have in one another by leaving and then spending the rest of his life wondering if she looked up or if she gave into the evil. Faith is also stretched and tested when his faith and his wife try to keep him from going on the journey.
Brown's sees the good and the bad of all of the town's people; the people he respects from the town and from church take their own journey into the dark forest. Seeing them behave "badly", may have given Brown more reason to question his Faith and continue on to become a part of the evil. In the end Browns struggle with his faith may have strengthen his beliefs but ruined his love of Faith.

Yellow Wall-Paper = Creepy

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"I've got out at last," said I, "in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!" Now why would that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!" (p 10)

Well my hopes of a creepy or scary haunted house have some true for this story. It went from an interesting story to a just creepy. They way it seems to go from Jane's journal to the woman behind the paper was a little confusing. Also little things through out the story, like the comment early on of staying in the bigger room because there was "not room for two beds and no near room for him if her took another." Does that mean another wife or mistress, or the room taking another woman? Also during the story Jane mentioned that there are many women behind the paper, how many women are there?

Dead Letters.

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"Dead letters! does it not sound like dead men? conceive a man by nature and misfortune prone to a pallid hopelessness, can any business seem more fitted to heighten it than that of continually handling these dead letters and assorting them for the flames? For the cart that are annually burned. 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 any more; pardon for those who died despairing; hope for those who died unhoping; good tidings for those who died stifled by unrelieved calamities. On errands of life, these letters speed to death." (242-250)

Throughout the story I felt so sad for Bartleby then I just felt irritated by the "I prefer not," and his refusal to leave. Melville's depiction of Bartleby is incredibly depressing, and the final paragraph gives some kind of an explanation of why. Just imagining your job to be handling letter after letter of death, such a sad job. That explains the constant sadness he feels but why is he constantly preferring not to do things, and why does he stand still for hours?

Yellow Wall-paper?

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Now how much more intrigue does one need, with a title like that it's sure to be an interesting story. "A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house..." (p.1) hmmm really a haunted house or just a teaser?

Finally Bartley is introduced.

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"I can see that figure now - pallidly neat, pitiable respectable, incurably forlorn! I was Bartleby." (p. 5)

For a story that is named after the character it too a while for him to be introduced. And right from the start you feel badly for him. Melville's description of him is so depressing you can only imagine what is to follow. Which so far hasn't made much sense.

Hopefully it will make some more sense once I finish it.

Beginning to break away

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"Heaven grant it be a better one; for, in good sooth, I hardly think to tarry with my flock through the flitting seasons of another year! But, touching your medicine, kind Sir, in my present frame of body I need it not." "I joy to hear it," answered the physician, "It may be that my remedies, so long administered in vain, begin now to take due effect. Happy man were I, and well deserving of New England's gratitude, could I achieve this cure!" (ch.20 p.184)

When I read this I felt excitement for Dimmesdale starting to break away getting ready to start anew. But couldn't help myself from translating the above quote into what may have been said in their heads in our language of today.
I hope I do not offend.

Interpretation of Dimmesdale - "I'm done with this town and living this lie and I'm going to leave and begin a new part of my life. I know the "medicine" you have been giving me to heal has worsened my condition because I slept with your wife. So I'm also done taking it.

Interpretation of Chillingworth - "I don't want to out rightly admit that I have been punishing you so I'm going to act as though I'm so delighted you are feeling better and be overly happy to avoid giving any hint that I know Hester has told you who I really am."

Finally a Truth comes out!

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"O Arthur," cried she, "forgive me!" In all things else, I have striven to be true!" Truth was the one virtue which I might have held fast, and did hold fast through all extremity; save when thy good, -thy life, - thy fame, - were put in question! Then I consented to a deception. But a lie is never good, even though death threaten on the other side! Dost thou not see what I would say? That old man! - the physician! - he whom they call Roger Chillingworth! - he was my husband!" (ch.17 p 160)

Finally a truth that has remained a secret throughout the story has come out. Hester has lived the past seven years exposing all secrets with the exception of her husband's true identity. For me if felt as though that heavy weight she had carried was lifted the moment she told him. Dimmesdale's health, being obviously affected by the secret he has kept and Chillingworth's torment, almost felt somewhat eased. Almost as if Chiliingworth's identity explained so much and gave Dimmesdale a chance to take a breathe. Not saying the situation was put to peace but just for a second, the rapid deterioration of the clergyman's health was explained.

The ability for Dimmesdale and Prynne to interact alone and be able to talk about anything they want or need must also help to ease the misery they both experience. For seven years Hawthorne has only given them the opportunity to interact among other people and forcing them to guard their words. It could have been easy for Hester to tell everyone in the Governor's house of the real father, when they tried to take Pearl but she still kept it secret.

Thanks Kayla!

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Kayla, I didn't really think about it until you state, "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm getting sick of how much Hawthorne writes how guilty Hester feels." Hawthorne does a lot of reminding of the guilt Hester is experiencing page after page. Pearl is a reminder of that for her in addition to the letter she wears daily.  But Pearl is also her happiness.

I understand Pearl is the reason "her soul is still alive." But sometimes I feel like the story has one dimension, guilt. I have found it frustrating even though I do enjoy the story. I just keep wondering, since this is a first read for me, is the entire story this dark and sad or will there be some kind of happiness?

Just leave her alone!

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"He gave her, in requital of all things else, which ye had taken from me. She is my happiness! - she is my torture, none the less! Pearl keeps me here in life! Pearl punishes me too! See ye not, she is the scarlet letter, only capable of being loved, and so endowed with a million-fold the power of retribution for my sin? Ye shall not take her! I will die first!" (p.94)

Hawthorne lets Hester just let it all out. No lady like obedient behavior. They had punished and tormented her enough. To me the punishment lives daily as she had said, why are they so insistent on furthering her misery? Why can't they move on and allow her to live out her life, wearing the scarlet letter, and caring for Pearl. Hester has a great point, because of her guilt and the ordeal she has gone through, she will either be able to teach Pearl to follow the laws and behave well or behave accordingly but with a little defiance. 

Is it possible to make prison issued clothes look good?

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""She hath good skill at her needle, that's certain," remarked one of the female spectators;"but did ever a woman, before this brazen hussy, contrive such a way of showing it! Why, gossips, what is it but to laugh in the faces of our godly magistrates, and make a pride out of what they, worthy gentlemen, meant for a punishment?"" (p. 47)

We learn very early on that Hester Prynne is the bearer of the scarlet letter. As the anticipation of her stepping out of the prison builds, I wanted her to look like a prisoner. Thinking after spending time locked away she will appear dirty and have a sad look on her face. But she doesn't, as Hawthorne tells the story of her stepping out into the opinionated and gossiping crowd, she is nothing like what a person who has been imprisoned should be. She still appears lady-like and her "beauty shines through."

The quote I have chosen reminded me of how women can be when talking to one another. By the description Hester Prynne, although a prisoner wearing the scarlet letter, is a beautiful and put together as ever, with a smile on her face and looking around at all of her neighbor instead of hiding her face. The woman who made the above comment most likely felt jealous that as a prisoner Prynne's looks were possibly more attractive. The woman tries to bring attention to the however impressive, disrespectful alternations.


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