Discussion

In class today, we talked about Iago a lot and that we respected him as a villain. We said that if he can manipulate others and cause evil, but still be respected by the readers because of his skillful craft, that means he is a good villain. Shakespeare was crafty when developing his character because the general consensus was that the class really liked him. Esther brought up “Breaking Bad” and that Gus, the villain of the show, is similar to Iago in the sense that both of them are so creatively created that we can respect their actions because of their talent. I think that most villains that we don’t like are generally not respected because their craft of how they try to achieve their goals are not crafty. Plus, sometimes, the villains’ motives are unknown or not worthy enough to be causing such a conflict in the story.

I contributed to the conversation by saying that I know last time we discussed that sometimes Iago’s character in some interpretations is gay, because of his fixation on Othello, but I said I did not see that. What I focused on was Emilia’s and Desdemona’s relationship. I said that I thought there was some kind of love affair between the two wives. Esther started to smile and point at me and said yes, I saw that too! I could see that if a movie adaptation was made the relationship between the two wives could have been seen as gay. Emilia and Desdemona have each other’s backs throughout the play, like when Othello asks Emilia about Desdemona and she tells the truth that there is nothing between her and Cassio. She also defends Desdemona’s honor by telling everyone in act 5 that Iago was the one who set everything up. Emilia seems to have this secret love for Desdemona.

Jack said that he hoped Iago would have gotten away with his plan. But I disagreed with that because I feel like Iago got what he deserved. In his scheme, four people died, and I would have felt really unsatisfied if Iago got what he wished because Desdemona died innocent.

via Discussion.

Othello, Act V

Here, we see that Othello’s love for his wife never wavered. He was so in love that his need to find out if she cheated caused him to go insane in a sense. He did everything out of true love for Desdemona. But what stuck out to me was the differences in gender. Desdemona and Emilia were loyal wives despite their husbands’ cruel acts. Othello constantly accuses his wife of cheating, and when he finds out she didn’t cheat, he feels extremely horrible for killing her that he kills himself. The fact that they both die shows a sense of closure the couple and how strong their love was. Emilia keeps asking and saying ‘my husband’ because she is so shocked that her husband would make up such an evil plan. However, she leaves her husband’s side when she starts to say the truth about Iago’s motives. I would argue that Emilia is the underdog and in some ways, a hero in the play because she reveals the truth about what has been going on. Also, her death by Iago kind of glorifies her in a sense because the fact that he kills her shows she was doing the right thing. I would also say that she is purely good because even when Iago was making fun of her and tricking her, she truly believed that her husband was good. Maybe she was blinded by her love for him but she was the classic obedient wife until she realized what Iago had done to Desdemona and Cassio.

I found this story really interesting because the title of the play made me think that Othello would be the hero. Yes, he is noble for the fact that he constantly loves his wife despite the rumors, and his hero flaw is that he is gullible, but is he heroic? Iago stands out the most because he is so deceitful and persuasive to make the characters around him follow what he wants. He gets caught in the end, but four people die in the process. I would honestly say that Emilia is the most impressive character to me, for the reasons I said before, but I would not call her the main hero. Does anyone have any thoughts as to who the hero is? Or is Othello the hero?

Also, after having the class discussion, without Dr. Jerz there, I brought up the previously mentioned idea that some people interpret the play that Iago has a love interest for Othello. But I did not see it that way at all. I saw a different twist that Emilia had a love interest for Desdemona. She is always concerned for Desdemona and seems to always be with her. The only time she goes against her is when she gives Iago the handkerchief and she didn’t even know the handkerchief would further Desdemona’s horrible fate. Emilia is the one that confesses Iago’s plan to the point of death, literally, to defend Desdemona’s honor. Yes, Emilia is distraught over the fact that her husband would do such a thing, which is shown by her repeating “My husband”, but she seems very frustrated by the fact that Othello killed Desdemona. She just seems to have a strange liking toward her that comes across as more than friends.

SHAKESPEARE

via Othello, Act V.

Othello, Act IV

As we have discovered before, we have to take everything Iago says with a grain of caution. But when Roderigo finally says that he questions Iago’s actions because Roderigo is not getting Desdemona, Iago says that he respects him. Is he speaking the truth here? It would make sense because Roderigo is the only one to question Iago’s motives so maybe he has some weird respect for him, but then he tells him that he will have to kill Cassio to get what he wants. After reading that, I am conflicted about Iago’s statement about respecting him because now, if Roderigo kills Cassio, all the blame will be put upon Roderigo. And yet again, Iago gets away without any consequences. I think this scene shows that we really cannot trust anything that Iago says; we can only trust what he says when he talks to the audience about his true motives.

Also, by this point, there is no turning back for Othello. He seems to be set on thinking that Desdemona cheated on him with Cassio. She tries herself to defend her actions and Emilia even tries as well. Emilia seems to give worthy explanations but its almost as if Othello is deaf. It goes in one ear and out the other. Its very ironic that Othello wants to kill the only person, his wife, that truly loves him, despite the fact that he is a Moor.

SHAKESPEARE

via Othello, Act IV.

Othello, Act III

This Act definitely portrays how well of a sneak Iago is when he is talking to Othello. Its as if he plants a seed in Othello’s mind to be suspicious of his wife, but makes it as if Othello is the one to pursue this theory. Iago wants to make himself look like a backstage person, because he does not really involve himself in the conflict of setting up Desdemona and Cassio. He just ‘plants a few seeds’ in their minds, so the conflict cannot be traced back to him. Iago is very skillful and deceitful from the plan that he has drawn up to get back at Othello. I want to know though if the backstory that Othello said about the handkerchief is true or if he made it up to make Desdemona to feel even more guilty for misplacing the handkerchief? I would guess that he made it up because even though he wants the rumors of his wife to be not true, I think he wants to catch Desdemona cheating. He is truly hurt by this point in the story that he will believe anything that Iago is saying. Another question is that why does Cassio want the handkerchief to be copied? Why doesn’t he just keep it himself?

via Othello, Act III.

Portfolio 3 – American Literature

Depth: When reading Scene 7 in The Glass Menagerie, I found a lot to talk about because it was the last scene so I could make some conclusions about the play, like who developed the most as a character and I also made a connection between Foster and the play. This was the longest post I did for The Glass Menagerie, and I think that was because Tom makes his final decision to leave, despite his family obligations, and that is worth discussing. Another in-depth post was when I responded to the “Daddy” poem. In my other English class, we talked about the complexities of humanity that are expressed in the time of Nazi Germany and it made me write a lot for this poem because they both show how complex humans can be. The title alone expressed how severe the times were back during World War II. Plus, several lines stuck out to me, which made me try to explain them.

Riskiness: One safe post that I created was on Scene 6 of The Glass Menagerie. I merely summarized what happened and asked some questions on Tom’s motives for leaving. I did not make any in-depth analyses or connections to make this a risky post.

One risky post that I made was actually a comment that I responded to on my own blog site. Lindsay asked me on one of my posts of The Glass Menagerie if Laura knew whether or not her family was making her feel accepted. Did she realize the trouble they went through to make her feel comfortable? I responded with a lengthy response, and it led me to make certain connections in the play. I considered my comment risky because I went out of my comfort zone by making an inference on when Tom left. I thought it was convenient that Tom left at the same time Laura gained self-confidence after talking to Jim. I made other inferences about Laura’s character as well, which made me make an analytical post. Another risky post is when I analyzed the American Dream aspect in The Glass Menagerie. In the same post, I also examined the importance of the glass menagerie to Laura.

Intertextuality: In Scene 7 of The Glass Menagerie, it starts to rain as the Wingfield family sits down for dinner with Jim, the gentleman caller, and I remembered that Foster discussed rain scenes in his book and what they could mean when discussed in a story. I made the connection to further analyze what changes were made after the rain stopped and how it affected the story. Another post that fulfills the category of intertextuality is my response to the “Nick and the Candlestick” poem. Here, I used a post that I wrote awhile ago on a Dickinson poem to try and understand Plath’s poem. With Dickinson’s poem, I looked up the densities of the materials mentioned to understand the emotions of the speaker, so I did the same with Plath’s poem and the materials mentioned.

Discussion: Carlie commented on my post for Scene 5 of The Glass Menagerie about Laura’s character and whether or not Tom exaggerates her personality or not. I replied by saying that I do not think he does, because Laura is the main reason why he has trouble leaving his home, so why would he make up her shy personality. I explain my reasoning more in my response. Another discussion post was on Scene 4 of The Glass Menagerie. Lindsay commented on my post and asked if I thought Laura knew that her family was trying to make her feel accepted. I responded with a lengthy comment, and in the process I made some logical guesses about Laura’s character.

Timeliness: All of my Glass Menagerie posts were posted well in advance, which allowed for Carlie and Lindsay to comment on some of them. In the course blog, you said not to go in-depth with each scene, but since I had extra time, I was able to talk about each scene pretty throughly. It allowed me to analyze the play as much as I wanted.

Coverage: The post for Scene 1 of The Glass Menagerie was done on time, but it was not my best post. I merely talked about how the play was a memory play and how we, as readers, should keep that in mind, since Tom might distort some of the events in the play since he is the narrator. Another post for coverage was the post for Scene 2 of The Glass Menagerie; it was on time but not my best as well. I discussed the events and asked some questions, but did not analyze anything.

Cover Post/Conclusion: This portfolio, I think, is even better than the previous one, because I went more in depth with the intertextuality and riskiness categories. With Plath’s poems, I was able to make more inferences, because they were complex, plus poems are more interpretive than plays or books, because they can have several different meanings, depending on who is reading the poem. Also, The Glass Menagerie was a great play to analyze because of its depths. While reading and blogging, I could tell more and more that Laura was more complex of a character than any of the others, which helped me create analytical posts. My previous goal from the last portfolio was to be more analytical, and I think I achieved that goal because I was more risky by making more inferences of the texts that we read. Some of the goals of the course are to examine a wide range of genres and to be analytical of the literature. I have definitely achieved being more analytical because of my progress on the intertextuality and riskiness categories. With the examining a wide range of genres, we are starting to read more poems and we read a play this time, so we are definitely seeing more variety. By being exposed to different pieces of work, I can start to make more connections and comparisons to better understand literature as a whole. For next time, my goal is to improve upon discussion by reading more of other people’s blogs to gain perspective.

Nick and the Candlestick

I had a hard time understanding what this poem meant, but I took note of the materials that were mentioned: calcium, ruby, and mercury. Dickinson wrote a poem called “After a Great Pain, A Formal Feeling Comes-“. The poem is about feelings of pain, but Dickinson, like Plath, used substances in her poem. Dickinson used these substances, such as quartz, wood and lead, to help describe the speaker’s feelings. In a post that I wrote awhile ago, I explained that lead, quartz, and wood have different densities. Lead has a higher density than wood, and I thought the Dickinson was trying to explain that maybe when the speaker was in the ‘lead’ state, the speaker was at a lower emotion, he/she was more depressed; whereas, when the speaker was in the ‘wood’ state, he/she was more uplifting and in a better mood. Wood floats, whereas lead sinks, so it makes sense that the speaker would be in a better mood when being in a ‘wood’ state.

Taking what I analyzed before with Dickinson’s poem, I looked up the densities of the materials mentioned in Plath’s poem to get a better understanding. Calcium, which is mentioned first in the poem, has a density of 1.54 g/cm^3. The second material mentioned, ruby, has a density of 4.02 g/cm^3. The last material mentioned was mercury and it has a density of 13.5 g/cm^3. As you can see, as the poem progresses, the densities of the materials get higher. Maybe the densities getting higher as the poem goes on shows that the speaker’s emotions get more intense or the speaker is getting closer to what he really wants. Since he is a miner, he is searching for something, so maybe by the end of the poem he is closer than he ever was before because the densities keep getting higher.

Daddy Poem

First of all, the title, “Daddy”, gives off an innocent feeling to the poem. When reading it, you come across words, such as kill, and it makes the reader realize that the innocent feeling of the title is only superficial. The depths of this piece with killing and the era (I am assuming Nazi Germany) show that the poem is to be taken more seriously than I intended for it to be, because the title gives off a false impression. The speaker says “I used to pray to recover you”, which shows that he/she is torn between the relationship they have, because he/she does not agree with the father’s actions, but he/she is still the child of the father. But by the end of the poem, you can see that the child wishes nothing good for the father: “Daddy, Daddy, you bastard, I’m through”.

I think that the child of the father feels betrayed by him because how could a child know what is going on through a time like Nazi Germany? The complexity of humanity is really portrayed in this era, because people are being killed for what race they are, and children cannot fathom why this would happen. The father seems to be a part of Nazism and believes in the killing of inferior races, and the child is clearly opposed to his beliefs. This disagreement causes a separation between the father and the child. This reminds me of The Book Thief because Leisel, the main character, does not understand why Jews are being killed during the Nazi era. Since she is so young, she has to learn the complexities of humanity herself to understand what is going on around her. Leisel begins to hate Hitler for his actions of killing inferior races to make a superior, perfect race, as he sees it. I see the same hatred in this poem, because the speaker says “In the picture I have of you / A cleft in your chin instead of your foot / But no less a devil for that”. The child has a negative view of his/her father for the actions he has done.

The depths of the child’s hatred goes further than just merely hating him. The child says “Daddy, I have had to kill you. / You died before I had time”, which shows that the child wished to kill his/her own father. The father died, which might mean that this poem was written after the ware ended so the Nazis have been caught. The father, being a Nazi, must have been punished by death for his actions, but the child, having such strong emotions, wishes to kill the father him or herself, just to get revenge for the turmoil that he has put his child through.

Talking about the title again, the title “Daddy” shows how severe and harsh the times were. Clearly the child has strong emotions that are portrayed in this poem, but young children are not usually exposed to such hard times. The title reminds the reader that no person should go through these times, especially a young child, because this era expended the extremes of humanity.

Othello, Act I

Since I am unsure of what Shakespeare is trying to say sometimes, I am going to ask numerous questions in this post. First, I want to talk about Brabantio, Desdemona’s father, because his character seems unstable to me. He only acts on Othello and questions him because he hears two people arguing out his window. Plus, he is persuaded after he hears Othello explain himself about marrying his daughter. Yes, the Duke says that he would even see his own daughter falling for Othello, but was his speech that convincing? Or is the father just gullible?

Also, another common thread that I see in Shakespeare’s plays is that characters involve other characters into their drama/conflict. I think that is why his plays can be so complex as well. Iago and Roderigo have different reasons for not liking Othello, but they join together to bring him down. Now, after Othello’s explanation of marrying his wife, is Roderigo satisfied or does he still want Desdemona? If not, Iago is trying to get him on his side to fight Othello for promoting a less-worthy soldier than himself. Revenge is a common thread as well. Iago doesn’t necessarily want to kill Othello for his actions; he wants to get revenge by saying someone slept with Desdemona. He wants to turn the guy he promoted against Othello to cause a dispute. Shakespeare makes the two characters who don’t like each other suffer, because he gives off the idea that suffering is more rewarding than merely killing someone. Shakespeare’s characters value the depths of suffering by using other people to their advantage.

I just read another play for another class called “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” by August Wilson and I was just fixated on the fact of how different Wilson and Shakespeare set up their plays. Of course, they write about different themes and ideas. For example, Shakespeare writes tragedies for the most part and he has a different language than Wilson because they are from different time periods. Plus, Shakespeare writes in iambic pentameter, whereas Wilson merely writes without focusing on his meter. Wilson focuses on the writing the story. Also, Wilson focuses on supernatural elements in his plays and racism. Yes, Shakespeare added the element that Othello is a Moor and Iago and a couple of other characters keep calling him a ‘Moor’ which is racism in itself, but Shakespeare does not tend to fixate on racism for his main themes. Anyway, what caught my attention the most was the fact that Shakespeare always has five acts and Wilson seems to always have just two acts. I have read two of Wilson’s plays, the one mentioned previously and “A Piano Lesson”, and they both had just two acts. Shakespeare has the same structure where in act three, the conflict is very apparent and the plan for the characters are very clear. Also, in his act fives, it seems that everything is resolved and the main characters always die in this act. However, Wilson seems to leave his endings at the end of act two more open to discussion because of the supernatural elements (not saying that Shakespeare’s plays are open to discussion, just that Wilson’s plays are more left with strings untied at the end). Shakespeare’s plays, with the five acts, seems more organized because of the separation, whereas Wilson’s plays, with the two acts, make it more of a story because the play is in two big bulks. The end of act one for Wilson’s play usually end with a questioning conflict that forces the reader to keep reading. At the end of act two for “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”, one of the characters have a supernatural hallucination and you have to keep reading to understand what happened. I think the idea of having five acts makes the play more of a play rather than a story; Wilson’s plays are more stories to me. The five acts with Shakespeare’s plays clearly distinguish the plot structure, whereas Wilson’s structure is more vague.

via Othello, Act I.

About Shakespeare’s Othello

I have never read or seen a production of Othello, but I have heard of it. From what Dr. Jerz typed in the description, it seems like a very complex play, just like all of Shakespeare’s other plays. I generally enjoy his works because of the complexity and the challenge of making sense of his writing, but like I said before, its just that I have trouble making sense of his writing sometimes. I think it is just interesting to think that when they did a show at the time he wrote the plays, they did not have many props and they had to improvise, and make clear distinctions about people coming on and off stage. It sounded very limited and confusing, but on top of that, the storyline was confusing and complex. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe that higher class people watched his plays because they could afford them. So, they had access to education and so his audiences could probably understand the complexities of his stories and the depth of them. However, we have to take into consideration that people during that time were used to his syntax more than we are, so it was not as challenging for them as it is for us.

via About Shakespeare’s Othello.

Reading Shakespeare’s Language

Out of the three common problems when reading Shakespeare, I would say that the syntax gives me the most problems for sure. I have read several of Shakespeare’s works in the past and I agree that it helps to read a summary of the section before actually reading it. But when reading a simple sentence, when he mixes up the subject, verb, and object, I get very confused. Maybe I am overthinking it when reading, but I think that by switching up the order of the sentence is loses what is really meant by the author. He obviously has brilliant ideas but when he writes an act, I think that an event happened a certain way, but actually the exact opposite happened because of how he switches his sentences. We were allowed to cheat and use Sparknotes in high school when reading his works, and when I would compare a simple sentence of his to the translated version, sometimes I would be so surprised at what it actually means. I think with practice I got better, but I still struggle for sure.

via Reading Shakespeare’s Language.