Book summary vlog
Well this is the last written blog of the semester and I probably won’t be posting for awhile. Thanks to everyone who commented and liked. A Raisin in the Sun is the final play of the semester and it was different to me because I portrayed the character of Joseph Asagai. The play is set in southside Chicago 1959 a time of conflict between races and generally a difficult time for African Americans.
A reoccurring theme shown by many of the characters is the struggle to reach their dreams. They all depend on some insurance money for the realization of their dreams. Mama wants to buy a house for them to stay in, and for Beneatha to be able to go to school. Walter wants to get a liquor license so that he won’t have to be a chauffeur any more. Beneatha’s dream is to become a doctor. George Murchison wants to marry Beneatha. Joseph Asagai wants to marry Beneatha and return to Nigeria.
When the insurance check arrives it seems like all their dreams are coming true. Mama goes out and buys a house in a white neighborhood. She gives the rest of the money to Walter to put in the bank for Beneatha’s schooling but instead he gives the money too one of his business partners. The business partner unfortunately takes the money and runs. Just when everyone in the family is optimistic about the future, their one hope is gone. The money would have paid for Beneatha’s schooling, rent for the house and many other things but now is completely gone, along with the family’s hope.
It takes them some time to realize that hope is never lost and that their hope does not come from money but from each other and what their ancestors went through before them. Their ancestors were slaves and they had reason to lose hope of a future free of slavery but they didn’t.
Mama remembers that time and the importance of family that helped give their ancestors hope. She shows her care for her family by giving them some of the insurance money and by buying a house. A motif that shows her care is her plant that she is constantly checking and watering. She does her best to teach her children the importance of family and is clearly evident when she is speaking to Walter about Ruth’s baby.
Walter is surprised to find out that his wife Ruth is pregnant and is not happy and in fact wants to abort it but Mama will not tolerate that. She prods Walter to step up and be a man throughout the whole play and in the end He eventually does. When a man from the neighborhood comes to the apartment to pay the family not to move in to the new house, Walter steps up and refuses to be paid. He insists that He has a good family and wants to live a good life.
The story shows more than just racial tension. It portrays a family that cares about each other and want each other’s dreams to come true even if their hope for financial success is lost.
A Doll’s House is written by Harold Ibsen is a play about several issues in society coming to light at the time. Like many of the stories, poems, and plays that we read, A Doll’s House addresses gender roles and the sacrificial roles that women in society were placed under by the opposite gender.
The play contrasts two female characters, Nora who is cared for constantly, and Mrs. Linde, a woman who had taken care of herself from a young age and has experienced the world. In Nora’s case, she feels like she is in a cage and that her husband Torvald has put her there because of the way he treats her. He speaks to her as if she were a child because he does not believe or want to believe that she is anything more. Torvald provides for her and she is living a comfortable life.
Mrs. Linde on the other hand has had to provide for herself and has struggled to survive in the world, a society that at the time was biased towards men. Even through her disadvantages she managed to get a job through Torvald and Nora but is still unhappy because she wants someone to care for her or someone to care for.
The contrast between the two women is that Nora has everything that she needs and is cared for but is discontent because she wants to be treated like an adult but has not experienced the world and can never be seen as anything more than a child. Mrs. Linde has experienced the world and has struggled to survive in a male dominated society but is now viewed as an adult. She feels discontent because she wants to be cared for and to care for someone. She wants to have a family.
The two women are clear opposites except for that Torvald is unaware that Nora has made a big step toward becoming an adult. When Torvald was on his deathbed years earlier, Nora took responsibility and took out a loan to save his life and had been secretly paying it off since. Torvald’s condescension to Nora also leads her to believe that she is unfit to be a mother if she is just a child herself.
In an unfortunate turn of events Torvald discovers that Nora has been lying to him and blows up at her. When the problem is averted Torvald tries his best to console Nora but she has made up her mind that she would leave him and the children for all their sakes.
In the end of the play the two women’s roles are reversed. Nora has left home to discover the world and to learn how to provide for herself. She is free to become an adult and whatever she wants. Mrs. Linde is in a relationship with Krogstad and can provide for him with her new job , can love him and start a family. A Doll’s house gives an interesting perspective on the two women’s roles and how both experience life differently.
Trifles by Susan Glaspell is a play based on a true story set in a farming community somewhere in Iowa. Stories like this are not suitable for children. This story is about a farmer that was brutally murdered with an axe (changed to strangled by a rope in the play) by supposedly his wife. His wife was convicted and sent to jail but in a retrial her sentence was reversed and she was set free.
Trifles is told from Susan Glaspell’s point of view because she was the reporter that researched the original story. Her writings about the murder became very popular at the time and probably contributed to the jury’s indecision about the wife’s case, leading to her freedom.
Glaspell displays the men in the story who are investigating as purposeful and intent on finding evidence to help discover who the murderer is (even though they already are convinced that the wife was the killer). They approach the house quickly and spend little time in other rooms of the house except for the murder scene in the upstairs bedroom. Two women that came along to gather personal items for the wife, were portrayed as there only for that purpose, not looking to find any evidence or desire to search the house.
Without searching for any evidence, the two women start noticing the state that the kitchen was in, how unkempt the pots and towels were, and that the wife’s fruit preserves had gone bad. They wonder why the kitchen is in such disarray when they see an empty bird cage that was broken by force. Later after going through the wife’s quilting materials the stumble upon a decorated box. Inside is a dead bird with its head twisted to one side from being wrung.
Their discovery is never fully explained and who killed the bird is left to the audience’s perception. It would make sense that the husband was a very rough and abusive man and that because he hated the bird singing, he wrung its neck. In retaliation the wife murder’s her husband in a similar way showing that the murder was very personal.
Another observation could be made that perhaps the wife killed the bird as a small release of her pent up emotions finally culminating in her husband’s murder. It was no secret to the community that the man was a good man but also a solemn and sometimes harsh man. Without any children or friends nearby, the man’s frustrations would be taken out on her and she did not have anyone to vent her emotions too. Her held back emotions continued to mount until a small release like killing her bird would suffice and murdering her husband seemed like a way of escape and release.
Cases for both observations and many more can be made but what is interesting is the difference between the men and women in the story. The women seem to be more personal and more open to what evidence might be presented leading them to more evidence than the men found. The men on the other hand were more focused on their duty and seemed to already condemn the wife. An interesting commentary on men and women in Glaspell’s society.
The movie The Raven is based on the life of Edgar Allan Poe and the poems that he wrote. Poe believed that he had something truly original to share in his literature and at the time it was. Poe introduced the Gothic genre along with mystery and terror to literature which was new and exciting to people. Poe wrote the poem The Raven in order to become famous and by writing to a broad audience he accomplished just that.
Poe did not earn much money from The Raven but he made himself known among readers. He relied on conveying the sound of the literature as the emotions of the speaker. In the motion picture The Raven, a serial killer feels the emotions of the speaker and admires Poe so much that he begins acting out Poes melancholy stories by murdering people in the ways described in his poems. Poe attempts in his stories to create a nightmarish universe by skillfully blending reality and imagination.
In the film, the screenwriters do Poe’s style justice by blurring the lines between reality and imagination. Poe’s character in the movie is living in the reality of everyday life when events from his own imagination start mysteriously coming true. The stories born of his imagination start to happen to people and even to him through the capture of his love and wife to be. The serial killer targets Poe as an obsession with his writings.
The serial killer’s plot is to make Poe write some of the most moving and emotional pieces that he has ever written out of fear for his bride to be. In Poe’s works he explores the domain of fear and what effect that it can have on an individual. The fear tends to be irrational and drives the individual to be consumed by it and eventually to insanity and death. However in the movie when Poe is confronted with the fear of the loss of his love it drives him to do everything he can to save her from death and eventually gives his own life to save hers.
The screenwriters for the movie toy with the idea that what was born in imagination is actually reality and anything the Poe does will also become reality. They also focus on the sound of the speaker to show his emotion and the emotions of the characters of the movie. They do this so well that the audience is left with the same feelings that Poe had right before he died from drinking poison. He is overjoyed that he found his love and saved her but realizes that he has given his life for her but at the last moment leaves the detective with the identity of the serial killer.
The audience feels happy for Poe and his accomplishments of saving his bride and catching the killer but are saddened by Poe’s tragic death. Poe was a master at the Gothic genre and was unparalleled in his exploration of fear and its effects on individuals.
Anyone who wrote a political status in the last couple days needs to read this.
I want to ask some questions of my fellow American Christians in light of yesterday’s elections. If you are not a Christian, or not an American, you can read on if you like, but this entry is not for you.
Question #1: Since the beginning of the church (ca. AD 35), when did the church experience its most phenomenal growth rate? When did it hold most closely to the teachings of Christ? When was the power of the Holy Spirit most evident? Most of us would probably answer, the first century AD, the early church, the church of the apostles.
Question #2: What was the government of the day like? Of course, that would be the Roman Empire. As a little historical review: the major emperors from AD 35-90 were as follows: Caligula (certifiably insane, named one of his horses consul, had family members killed), Claudius (persecuted Jews, loved gladiator…
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Robert Frost is one of the most readable and understandable authors of poetry that we read. A lot of his poetry is on everyday events told like a story or conversation between two people. In a lot of his work there is a deeper and oftentimes darker meaning and exploration of the human condition.
All but two of Frost’s children, his wife, and his parents died before he did. Deep loss affected him at a young age and greatly influenced his writing and tone. Probably one of the best examples of experiencing loss in Frost’s works is the poem Home Burial. It is a heated dialogue between a husband and wife over the loss of their child.
The wife sees her husband digging their child’s grave through the window and is shocked that he could be so insensitive and uncaring about how he buried their child. She wants to leave the house and be anywhere else but her husband stops her and pleads with her to talk about her grief and work through it together. She doesn’t realize that burying their child was the hardest task her husband has ever had to do but he hides his emotions better than she can.
The way Frost shows how males and females experience grief is intriguing. Men for the most part experience grief inwardly, meaning they don’t need to show their emotions and talk through it with someone so they feel understood. Women on the other hand show their grief outwardly through emotions of anger, depression, confusion, and frustration. They need to talk through their grief with someone who understands and it generally takes longer to move on.
The husband wants to understand his wife’s grief but she refuses to talk to him because he is insensitive and can’t understand. When she finally begins to open up to her husband he says that she is slightly overreacting. The man is not trying to be insensitive but experiences and interprets grief differently than she does.
Frost observes that this is the way that men and women grieve in his culture but not all cultures grieve the same way either. In Papua New Guinea for example both men and women experience grief outwardly, mourning for days. If Frost’s observation is not always true for every circumstance is the observation only true in his case or could it be an underlying truth in every human?
Researchers agree with Frost that men and women most definitely grieve differently but they also say that when it comes to grieving, every person is different. This may be why men and women in Papua New Guinea seem to grieve the same way. Tradition and culture play a big part in grieving and what is and isn’t acceptable.
Frost could have been writing of his own experience of grief when he lost his children but either way his loss spreads to the intensity of Home Burial.
Kubla Kahn, a poem by Samuel Coleridge, is one of his most famous works and is very popular in romantic poetry. Speculation says that Coleridge was reading a story about Kubla Kahn, grandson to Gengis Kahn, when he smoked some opium and fell asleep, and dreamt the poem. By the structure and language of the work it seems to suggest that Coleridge was completely sober and skillfully crafted the poem.
He dreams about Xanadu, Kahn’s summer palace under construction. Coleridge mixes some of his imagination in with the truth of what he was reading in the story about Kahn, creating a good story. How Coleridge crafts the story in the poem is one of the best ways to draw the audience in and make it believable.
He mixes something from reality, for example the building of the new palace, with embellishments from his imagination. He describes different parts of the palace which are never described in the book, and recognizes several senses that one would only get by being there in person, clearly from Coleridge’s imagination. These details make the poem almost seem real, because the audience’s imagination interprets them as real.
Authors often ask the question “What would happen if?” leaving plenty of room for imagination in their writing. For example in Peter Pan the author asked “What would happen if there was a magical place where you never grow up?”, and let his imagination do the rest. Coleridge’s style is to experience the story firsthand, in this case through reading a story and then dreaming it, then recording it and organizing it into a flowing work drawing from the event, memory, and from his imagination.
Even though this style makes for a great story, it makes it difficult to discern what truth is. “Truth depends on the use of language”, but it also depends on the content and its background or origin. Truth cannot only depend on the use of language because language is finite and continuously changing.
Coleridge uses the truth that Kubla Kahn existed and he had a summer home called Xanadu, because it was observed by the author of the book, but much of what Coleridge writes is born of his own imagination. He uses language to make the poem seem like truth but it is not completely truth because it is embellished with his imagination.
So how can readers discern the truth in what they read when so much of good writing is influenced by the imagination? Readers should look at the purest truth available to us, the Bible for the ultimate guide on the truth for secular and religious works. Historical and Fictional works should be examined through the content and origin of the story, what witnesses say, and find primary sources on the subject.
Some writing is completely imagination, which should never be taken as truth without close examination from the Bible and primary sources. The type of writing in Kubla Kahn should be understood and interpreted as fiction because there are no firsthand accounts of the details that Coleridge describes.
In John Keats’s work Ode to a Nightingale, he explores the contrast between human mortality and the Nightingale’s immortal happy spirit. Keats approaches human mortality from a melancholy point of view. He sees old age and death as a period of painful memories. In contrast to the speaker’s view, the Nightingale’s view is happy and seems not to have a care in the world, even when it grows old and dies. The narrator’s greatest wish is to fly away with the Nightingale and not have to remember the pain of the past, or dread the imminent reality of death in the future.
The Nightingale is an escapism for the speaker, as a way to forget the burden of the world. He ponders different avenues of escaping for example getting drunk “That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim.” He rejects this method and starts to think about death as a way of escaping. He admits that he is half in love with the idea of suicide as a method of escape because it would be painless.
In the end the speaker rejects both methods and questions whether he is awake or sleeping. Keats clever use of language leaves the audience without resolution of how the narrator deals with these deep questions possibly because he is uncertain himself. The theme of human mortality versus immortality and youth is carried on throughout many other works such as Ode on a Grecian Urn.
In this work the narrator focuses his attention on an ancient Greek urn with pictures of youths and their adventures. He admires the pictures because they are frozen in time and happy because they are immortal. The speaker envy’s the character’s immortality and timelessness because when his generation is dead and gone, the urn will remain. The urn will never age or die making it free from the mortal limits of time but the characters are also frozen in time. He believes that their love and passion depicted is greater than any other because it is not confined by mortal standards. There can be no pain or grief, only happiness in their faces forever.
The speaker tries his best to relate to the characters on the urn but is only continuously reminded of his mortal condition, just as the nightingale does in Ode to a Nightingale. After trying numerous times to interact with the urn he settles on believing that the urn is of a separate world, self contained, and unrelational to the physical state. Because the urn and its characters exist out of time and can’t have memories, a past, or feelings, it can never know the pain or burden of the mortal world.
Keats uses a melancholy tone to describe human mortality and the pain of memory possibly because he is struggling with some of the same issues. At the same time of writing these poems he was nursing his brother through a sickness. Keats was forced to think about death with the passing of his brother and never grew old himself, dying of the same disease at the age of twenty-five.
It is no shock that William Wordsworth seemed to be a tree hugger or nature-lover when nature is the predominant motif in almost all of his works. Tintern Abbey is a fine example of Wordsworth’s expression of nature. In this work especially, he focuses on the importance and benefits of the natural world.
In the poem itself, nature helps the observer to develop an intellectual, spiritual, and emotional response. For example the narrator of the poem has a sublime experience when he visits Tintern Abbey after many years of absence. His imagination transports him into his youth. There he finds mostly joy but also some sadness. His sadness is generated from his isolation from the world. Wordsworth use of language implies seclusion through words like copses ( a thicket of small trees), hedge rows, and a Hermit.
Wordsworth skillfully uses memory as a symbol for a way of escaping the troubles of this life for example loneliness. As the speaker in Tintern Abbey observes his surroundings and feels lonely, he remembers his childhood and the joy that he had as a way of escape from reality. Often I find myself mimicking the speaker and his sublime experience. When I am lonely, or homesick, I remember my past. The good and the bad memories. I look through old pictures or my yearbooks. Any of these sublime experiences help to remove myself from reality.
The speaker describes the nature around him as tranquil in contrast to his busy city life. He views city life as a burden with its crowds and busy schedule. This concept is easy to relate to coming from a rural country into southern California. When I visit any rural area my imagination transports me back to my home in Papua New Guinea. Wordsworth uses this idea to say that the troubles of humanity cannot corrupt the joy and tranquility of nature.
Though the narrator’s predominant focus is on nature and the past, he also speaks of the future. His recollection of his childhood memories is bittersweet because he wishes he could go back to the past and enjoy the isolation and tranquility of rural life, but he is looking forward to making new memories and enjoying nature in the future.
Wordsworth uses a reoccurring theme of solitude and isolation in several works including the poem She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways. The poem speaks of a woman named Lucy that lives a solitary life away from the city. She lives by springs with flowers around mossy stones away from any civilization. She is described as so beautiful that she stands out from the rest but hidden from people so nobody knew when she passed away.
William Wordsworth uses nature and isolation as escapisms from reality. He worships nature because of its tranquility and solitude. He is easy to relate to because all humans want to feel some sort of tranquility and peace from the business of daily life.