Timeliness– Both of the Foster blog posts, Foster Intro & Ch. 1 and Foster Ch.3 & Brave New World were completed on time before class. I did not receive the Foster book yet in the mail therefor I had to plan ahead to borrow Danielle’s book so that I could complete the assigned posts on time.
Riskiness- A risk that I feel I took was my first literary close reading and my comparison between Foster Ch. 3 and Brave New World. As my first close reading I wasn’t sure exactly what to look for especially in a poem. I ended up focusing a lot on the way certain words and phrases were used to make the reader feel. And then I formed my thought on the poem from there. This was a risk for me because I couldn’t really get a feel for how to do a literary close reading and what exactly it entails.
Discussion- In the three canvas discussions Literary Close Readings, Defense of Ft. McHenry, and Dickinson, “There is no frigate like a book” there was a lot of discussion that was going on between my classmates and I. I feel that my main posts for each discussion were thoughtful and provoke comments on them. I also feel that my comments on other people’s posts were original and thoughtful. Another post of mine that stimulated conversation was Foster Intro. & Ch. 1. There were 5 comments made between my classmates and myself where we discussed how we approached doing a literary close reading. This helped me get better ideas on what to do for the next one.
Intertextuality- In my post Foster Ch. 3 & Brave New World I brought in the book Brave New World by Aldous Huxley as an outside source and used it in comparison to chapter 3 in Foster’s book.
Coverage- There were three posts that were completed after the time of class on the assigned due dates but I made sure that I got them done. They were Young Goodman Podcast, Scarlet Letter Podcast (1/4), and Hawthorne, Scarlet Letter (1-3). Even though they were completed after class time I still made sure that they held value and detail. I would even say that the discussions in class helped me add more detail and insights to them then I would have had before class.
Conclusion- Beginning this course I created the post Work in Progress were I stated what I hoped to gain and contribute in the class. After being introduced to new tools while reading literature and completing blogs I realized that I will need to improve my ability to do literary close readings in order to expand my depth category. I will also need to incorporate more intertextuality because for this portfolio I only had one post to place within this category. I hope that I will be able to read and understand American Literature better as a whole and I think that by doing blog posts were I interact with my classmates ideas and analysis I will be able to get to the destination that I want to reach.
Dickinson starts out the first line by immediately letting us (the readers) know that the poem is about death, and that she didn’t have a choice about when she was going to die. She reminds us that it’s not really up to us when we die. “He kindly stopped for me,” this line leads the readers to understand that the narrator has a calm acceptance of death and that she’s going to enjoy the ride. It even hints at the fact that the narrator is going to escape this meeting with Death alive. Lines 3-4 let us know that at this point it’s just the speaker and death but the word “Immortality” helps us believe that the speaker doesn’t see death as the end but rather a step towards eternal life.
Goodman Brown had an opportunity to make his own decision and follow through with it. But rather, he was persuaded by simply the words of another. They were enough to push him off of his path and redirect him down a new one that wasn’t his. This stuck out to me because it’s an extremely relatable concept no matter who the person is. Everyone is going to reach a point in their life where they must follow their own head to make the right decisions and continue down the path that was planned, typically more than just once we’ll come to this point. The key is to filter out the right and wrong voices and to keep focused on our own destination, not the one others want us to reach.
In the podcast Dr. Jerz talks about how Hawthorne works his way throughout the novel by heavily relying on the use of symbolism. What I consider to be a large symbol in the book is Pearl, who is a living version of her mother’s scarlet letter ‘A’. Even though Pearl acts as a constant reminder of her mother’s sin she is also a blessing, a symbol of hope for Hester. Her existence gives Hester a reason to live, keeping her spirits high when she is tempted to give up.
As Hester and Pearl go to leave the governor’s mansion the governor’s sister, Mistress Hibbins, calls out to Hester and invites her to a witches gathering. Hester replies saying that she cannot since she is able to keep Pearl, otherwise she would have gone willingly. There’s two parts to this little section that stand out to me.
First is the contradiction, how is it that Hester is cast from society and forced to live as an outcast and is in danger of losing her child for one sinful act, meanwhile Mistress Hibbins remains protected and as a member of the community while she engages in satanic practices regularly?
Second, the fact that Hawthorne points out that Pearl seemingly saved her mother from Satan’s temptations. If that’s the case then Pearl would not be a demonic child, but rather quite the opposite. Perhaps Pearl is a Heaven sent blessing in disguise.
The main thing that was in my mind while reading these chapters is why did Hester choose to stay in Boston? She did create a successful career for herself but she was judged, ridiculed, tormented every day. She had the opportunity and ability to leave, she was not bound to Boston yet she chose to stay. During chapter 5 Hester questions the life she has chosen for herself as she raises Pearl since she affected by her mothers punishment just as much. I just wonder, if she had the opportunity to move away and start a life free of judgment and isolation where she can raise her daughter in a way that she is not an item of ridicule either then why wouldn’t she? She uses a couple reasons that she feels obligated to stay near Pearl’s father, and to remain at the scene of her punishment but to me these just feel like excuses. What else could be keeping her their? The real reason that keeps her bound to Boston?
The way the townspeople react to Hester and her baby is frustrating, especially the beadle when he calls for a “blessing on the righteous Colony of Massachusetts, where iniquity is dragged out into the sunshine.” It seemed like the main reason why they punished Hester publicly for adultery was so that they would feel less bad about their sins. They see her as someone who’s sins outweigh their own errors so they don’t need to feel guilty about them. They have the chance to see their own sinfulness in Hester and relate to her but instead they just judge her and use her as an excuse.
One specific thing that stuck out to me in the podcast is the part the brings up Dimmesdale repeatedly placing his hand over his heart and the link to Hester’s ‘A’ and the location of it. It shows how both are heavy with the sin of adultery but Hester carries hers around on the outside for all to see while Dimmesdale carries his in his heart. I think this is a huge part that shows Hester’s character compared to Dimmesdale’s. Hawthorne’s use of symbolism through this highlights Hester’s strength and self-empowerment.
The Scarlet Letter comes to a close discussing how the letter became a symbol of adversity and how it was overcome.
“The scarlet letter ceased to be a stigma which attracted the world’s scorn and bitterness, and became a type of something to be sorrowed over, and looked upon with awe, and yet with reverence, too.”
Hester became an example of redemption and self-empowerment rather than just an example of sin. I thought it was a great way to sum up the book because this concept is so often true in many different aspects of life. How many times do we see something bad turn good down the road in time? Look at history, or even in our lives. In present time we look at something with negative reverence then down the road in the future we learn a lesson and gain knowledge and that once negative situation is looked on as a great moment in our history, one that we needed to move us forward. Hester is this example in the book. After many years absence Hester returns to her former home, still wearing the scarlet letter, a hero, a symbol of knowledge and self-empowerment. There’s a song that I can really relate this too, perhaps you know it, it’s called “If I Die Young” by The Band Perry. Theres a verse in it;
“A penny for my thoughts, oh, no, I’ll sell ’em for a dollar they’re worth so much more after I’m a goner and maybe then you’ll hear the words I been singing’ funny when you’re dead how people start listenin'”
This verse couldn’t be more true. When our minds are made up we don’t change them until something changes it for us whether it’s death, or in Hester’s case, time. And then once it’s changed, those words/lessons become twice as valuable. No one listened to Hester’s voice, they only saw her as a living, breathing example of sin and the scarlet letter that she carried. During her absence the town came to realize that she was not the walking symbol of sin but rather redemption.
Throughout the Scarlet Letter, Hawthorn depicts Chillingsworth as vengeful and spiteful, he seeks revenge for the wrongdoings done against him seven years ago when Hester had Dimmesdale’s child. Dimmesdale is a man who hides his wrong doings from the world and is too scared to come forward in the community and confess. When I make comparisons between the two characters it’s easy to see their differences. Chillingsworth and Dimmesdale remind me of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, two sides of the same coin. I see both men as cowardly and pathetic the difference is that Chillingsworth is Dr. Jekyll; he’s vindictive, vengeful, and spiteful. While Dimmesdale is Mr. Hyde, he’s scared, embarrassed, and in denial. Both men are conflicted with life choices that involved Hester. Chillingsworth decides to be angry about marrying Hester and becomes overcome by these feelings and wants revenge on Dimmesdale. Dimmesdale on the other hand feels guilty instead of angry and just lets the guilt eat away at him on the inside. Both men are conflicted at a common focal point; Hester. Their conflict ions affect each of them differently; one who fills himself with hate and the other fills himself with guilt. In the end both men find release from their conflictions. Dimmesdale confesses to the entire town and after. Once Dimmesdale comes forth and tells the town the truth and then passes away, Chillingsworth has no reason to continue seeking revenge. His life revolved around that hatred and need for revenge for so long, with that gone he died shortly after.