My second article is about ‘The Black Cat’ as well. It discusses that the story plays with the idea of fear and anxiety. It shows that throughout the story the narrator does not question himself, until the end; that is when the anxiety prevails. Poe does not deal with morals in his stories, but instead with the psychological aspects of his characters. This article also discusses the subject that the nameless narrator does not name his wife, but only gives the cat a name, which also separates himself from sanity and society.
via Academic Article 2.
This article discusses ‘The Black Cat’ and how the story proves to be ethical through evil. I am not entirely sure how it is ethical (I have to reread it), but so far, I think it is saying that the first cat only follows and mimics its owner because it is a pet; it doesn’t know better, it merely loves its owner. But the second cat, by making noises, seeks justice to reveal the corpse. Poe is hiding the ethical standpoint behind the surface, which is the evil of the story.
via Academic Article 1.
When I read the story, I thought the purpose was to scare the readers or to at least make them feel a sense of eeriness. Dr. Jerz says to not ‘diagnose’ a story for a final solution, because that will cease all discussion. That being said, saying that the woman was mentally ill or that no one should be confined stops all discussion for the story. After reading Gilman’s ‘Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper’, I saw the story in a different light when it said “It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked”. The story helped others see that confinement worsens mental illness, but doesn’t this statement contradict what Jerz was saying in class? Gilman is eliminating any discussion to happen; he is ‘diagnosing’ the story.
via Perkins Gilman, “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper”.
The main idea of this story seems to be that the narrator’s isolation is overtaking her mind; isolation causes insanity. Her husband, John, does not allow her to write, which is a way for someone to release their feelings. She says “But I MUST say what I feel and think in some way – it is such a relief!”. She is striving for some sense of freedom but she cannot find it. In my sociology class, we read that confinement and no socialization can stunt your growth. This seems to be happening with the narrator. Also, John denies her when she asks for people to visit and this might show that, with the narrator being a woman, the purpose is woman during this time were denied simple rights and were undermined by men, in this case, John is doing the undermining. The fact that John is a doctor shows that rationality and sensibility has escaped the story.
via Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”.
First, I think it is noteworthy that both Uncle Remus and John Henry stand up for their race, or get defensive when their race is trying to be undermined. Uncle Remus showed this when the little boy made up his own story. Uncle Remus did not yell at the boy but he did take offense to when the boy stepped on his territory of creating a story with his characters, causing tension between white and black people. Also, John Henry tries to outdo the white man’s steam-drill which shows tension between the white and black race.
Dickinson’s poems came to be studied in our class after her close friend published them and the public realized how beyond her time she was. She was an instant success only after her death. John Henry came to our class because the story raises so many questions like Dickinson’s poems do as to what it all means. John Henry and Dickinson’s poems were both altered but the poems are now sold without edits. It is her own markings. John Henry differs because there are so many different versions because of the different perspectives on the story.
via John Henry (Music Analyis).
I chose the version by Henry Belafonte and the version by Van Morrison. Belafonte’s version was more of a story than a song. He enunciated the words and spoke in a cheerful tone and the music was cheerful too. In Morrison’s, the music was even more cheerful and had even more music it seemed like. He sang and it was more of a song than a story. It was honestly hard to understand what he was saying though. I feel that we had different versions to choose from because the story could be interpreted different ways and could be seen as cheerful or sorrowful. Also, it seemed like some singers wanted the story to be seen as a story rather than a song.
via John Henry (Folklore Character).
Over the last few weeks, I think I have progressed because of the purpose of the portfolios. The portfolios makes me look further into the text by looking for outside sources and looking at classmates’ posts and having a discussion with them; it helps me further my understanding and dive deeper into a passage. For example, when I read The Only Ghost I Ever Saw, I did not understand why ‘god forbid’ the narrator to look back on that day of talking with the ghost. I read Josh’s post about the fact that the holy ghost is usually silent and absent. I am now taking that input and saying that since this ghost, who talks and laughs and wears lace, contrasts completely with other ghosts and even the holy spirit. Maybe the ghost symbolizes evil and that is why ‘god forbid’ the narrator to look back. I thought this was just a cheery ghost, but by reading Josh’s post, I was able to do a further analysis of Dickinson’s confusing ending of the poem. God forbids the narrator to look back because that ghost was a deception of ‘real’ ghosts or a deception of the holy spirit. Or maybe Dickinson is just making a mockery about ghosts.. By responding and reading other classmates’ posts I can make a further analysis on what I am reading.
via Class Activity.
Robin Ekiss’s interpretation by dividing each of the stanzas into parts made me wonder what Dickinson meant by ‘It’. Yes, Ekiss is definitely right by saying that it feels like Dickinson means death when she says ‘it’ but she makes it clear that it is not death. Could it be her own ghost or soul leaving her body?
I am not sure if it is the narrator or Dickinson, but one of them seem to be afraid of Death. When it says “As if my life were shaven, / And fitted to a frame, / And could not breathe without a key”. The narrator describes that his or her life is being belittled by being put into this box. It is as if once someone is dead, that is the end for them; no memories, no wiggle-room, no after thought. Life was the only important part of his or her life; time to move onto other people. However, Dickinson personifies the dead narrator by saying that he/she can breathe with a key; that life does not end when you die. The narrator is afraid of Death and of being forgotten about or tossed aside; whereas there is a life to look forward to after dying.
via Dickinson, “It Was Not Death, For I Stood Up”.
Dickinson uses various types of surfaces, such as wood and lead, to describe the narrator’s feeling after having such pain. The different consistencies like the lead, quartz, and wood might show the mixed feelings that the narrator is feeling and he/she is unsure of they feel or how they should feel. On the other hand, lead and wood have different densities. Lead has a density of about 11.34 g/cm^3, whereas wood (depending on which kind) has a lower density than that of lead. Maybe Dickinson meant that when the narrator was in his ‘lead’ state, he/she was feeling pretty low because when an object has a high density such as lead, the object tends to be heavier. Being heavy usually means you are down and sorrow in terms of emotion. When the narrator was in his/her ‘wood’ state, he/she was probably in a more joyful mood because wood has a lower density, and when wood for example is in water, it floats. So maybe the narrator was figuratively lifted from his/her low spirits after the great pain in his/her ‘wood’ state.
Also, I felt that Dickinson was contradicting herself when she said ‘The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs”. Tombs are not seen as joyous, or is Dickinson looking at the tombs in a different way? Could it mean that the tombs are seen in a positive light because the people who suffered from great pain but died are now in a more peaceful place? They are no longer enduring pain, they are in tombs with nothing hurting them, and that, in a way, is ceremonious and victorious?
via Dickinson, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes –“.