Sunday, April 17, 2011


I read the essay that dealt with the wilderness/land, and how it related to the Grapes of Wrath. There were a lot of biblical undertones brought up in the essay, as well as the mention of the American dream. The author states that perhaps the reason the depression occurred may have had to do with the fact that Americans used to have this idea that the land we lived on held infinite abundance. This problem was evident in the novel, because the Joads believed that California would be sort of like their version of the promised land. The author stated that the concept of infinite expansion within already acknowledged boundaries was extremely contradictory. It wasn’t because of the weather that the land dried up, it was because of the poor agricultural methods the farmers were using. It wasn’t because of the land that there were no jobs, it was because the people expected the land to provide for them no matter where the moved. The land is also sort of personified in this essay, because the people during this time period had an emotionally attachment to it, as is evident in the Grapes of Wrath. Muley Graves is a great example of this. He cannot break the ties he had with the land in order to accompany his family west. His ties with the land were eclipsed the bond he had between his wife and the rest of his family. The essay also depicts the land as being symbolic of being a woman. After it is farmed for the first time, it had lost it’s innocence and purity, and was now a “wife”. The plows and machines that destroyed the land were described as “raping” the land. Perhaps the land is an important symbol, and I may or may not feel compelled to use it in my essay.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness Article: Short Story Criticism Volume 69: By Carola M. Kaplan
The thesis of this essay is that the most important distinction Marlow makes throughout Heart of Darkness is the one between Self and Other. The author also emphasizes the distinction between truth and lies, between men and women, and between civilization and savagery. To support the author’s argument regarding the Self and the Other, he states that the Other is the undiscovered territory within oneself. Throughout the novella, it is clear that Marlow struggles with identifying who he is and his similarities to Kurtz (which he holds in the inside). It is also0 interpreted in the essay as the other being the wild native people, and the Self being the more civilized people. The Self attempts to control the Other out of fear that they may eventually have to succumb to the other, and thus attempt to contain it. I do detect some bias in the writing, in that the author of the article believes that the most important distinction in the novella is the distinction between the Self and Other. I think the author starts off by presenting their argument well, but eventually I think the author spends too much of the essay proving the other distinctions and not spending the majority of the time on the Self and Other. I think if the author really wanted to prove that point the would have written more on that aspect of the subject rather than just writing roughly the same amount as the other distinctions. I do agree with one comment the author makes, they state that despite all of Marlow’s insistence, everything that is distinct from something else in the novella seems to switch roles. For example, the entire concept of black and white and what they symbolize seem to switch places, as well the distinction between what is true and what is a lie.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Wuthering Heights: Repetition

In this novel, many situations that take place seem to repeat. Because of this, the novel is difficult to follow unless the reader pays extreme attention. Character's names are repeated, such as Catherine, because the original Catherine has a daughter named Catherine. Not only are their names the same, but they have extremely similar personalities. "Catherine Earnshaw, Heathcliff, Linton, the air swarmed with Catherines;..." (Bronte 23). This is one example of how the twisted events that take place in this novel are duplicated. It is only appropriate that the young Catherine was to envelop her mother's personality and not the more tamed and controlled personality of her father. Another duplicated instance in the novel is in the way the young men are treated in Wuthering Heights. When Heathcliff was young he was treated extremely poorly by Hindley. He was treated like a servant even though Hindley's father had treated him as another son. When Heathcliff returns to Wuthering Heights and acquires a great deal of power over Hindley, he treats Hareton equally as poorly as Hindley had treated him. Although their names are not the same like the Catherines, perhaps the fact that all their names begin with H is a significant instance to support the way they act. The way that the story seems to repeat itself is that since both families were significantly different, and thus their marriages to one another proved disastrous, the more they married into each others families (Catherine into the Linton family and Isabella marrying Heathcliff), the more it becomes impossible to tell the difference between the two families, and it foreshadows to the reader that over time the cycle will have repeated so many times that there will no longer be a line dividing the personalities of the families, they will have blended into one dysfunctional self destructive family. This cyclic situation could also indicate that eventually the family will become so intertwined and the cycle will have repeated so many times that it will destroy both families. Both families could be seen as equally destructive to one another due to the fact that they are completely opposite, and so they destroy what is most individualistic about each other, no matter how twisted.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wuthering Heights: Linton Family vs. the Earnshaw Family

The Two families serve as foils to one another. The Linton family represents civility, while the Earnshaw family represents nature. But while nature is normally corrupted by culture, culture becomes corrupted by nature just as much as nature is corrupted by culture. When Catherine is bitten by the Linton family dog, she must stay at their home until she recovers. During this time the Linton children become fascinated with her so that when she recovers and returns to the Earnshaw home the Linton children still come to visit her. Also during the time she was recovering the Linton household began to influence Catherine as well. During the time she was there she was taught manners and her wild nature was subdued somewhat and as a result when she returns home she begins acting differently towards Heathcliff. This is what causes her to decide to marry Edgar Linton, because his culture had corrupted her nature. It was also the reason Edgar wanted to marry Catherine, because her nature had also corrupted his culture. Because of this first contact, eventually both families became so intertwined by marriage that it becomes difficult to ascertain between nature and culture anymore. Characters in both families also serve as foils for each other. Heathcliff and Edgar are foils of each other, because Heathcliff is cruel and willing to emotionally or physically harm someone else to get revenge, while Edgar is more noble, forgoing his selfish needs and hatred of Heathcliff to care for Catherine. Catherine is also Heathcliff's wife Isabella's foil. Isabella was extremely timid and submissive. She was made witness to the violence and chaos that took place in Wuthering Heights. When she  wrote a letter to Nelly explaining how fearful she was in her new living situation, she described Heathcliff as a devil. "Is Mr. Heathcliff a man? If so, is he mad? And if not, is he a devil?" (Bronte 143). Now if Catherine had been placed in the same situation as Isabella, she would not be afraid, she would be a huge part of the chaos. Just as the characters from each home are foils of each other, the homes they come from are foils as well.

Wuthering Heights: Heathcliff and Catherine

It is difficult to decide if Catherine or Heathcliff is the protagonist. They are so much the same that it could be argued that they both are. Catherine herself even noted to her servant; "Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He's always, always in my my own being." (Bronte 88). 

Analysis of Heathcliff- Since the story is revolving around Heathcliff's story, it seems most likely that he is the protagonist. Heathcliff is viscous, malevolent, and cruel, which are not appealing qualities in any way. However, he is a central character in a love story, which leaves the reader feeling sympathetic towards his plight no matter how malicious he may be. Throughout the novel, Heathcliff continues to swap back and forth between the role of hero and villain. Heathcliff acts cruel to other characters because he is in love with Catherine yet she chooses to marry another man. He acts cruelly to others because he is so miserable about the one he loves. Just when he appears sadistic that he has no trace if decency left in him, he does something noble and sincere. In chapter 15, when Linton returns home to find Heathcliff there, Heathcliff tells him to care for Catherine before acting on his anger. "Look there! Unless you be a fiend, help her first- then you shall speak to me!" (Bronte172).

Analysis of Catherine- Catherine's short life is immersed in nothing but conflict, and where she is buried symbolizes this. She is not buried where her husband's family is buried, nor is she buried where Heathcliff's "family" is buried. She married her husband out of the need to retain her social stature, but in truth she was hopelessly devoted to Heathcliff, and she knew the act of marrying Edgar would not dispel her feelings for Heathcliff. Her love for Heathcliff however, illustrates her need to go against acceptable society, because Heathcliff was wild and there was an overwhelming side of Catherine that enjoyed throwing wild tantrums and being in love with someone that by society was not considered worthy of her affections. Catherine is a foil for Isabella, who marries Heathcliff, thus accentuating Catherine's wild spirit and occasional cruelty (like Heathcliff). In the end, Catherine dies because she cannot control her need to be in possession of the best of both worlds, and her death causes even more chaos afterwards.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sonnet 147

Love makes people do stupid, crazy things. When it isn’t really love, and actually an obsession, it can be like a disease, because no matter how bad for you that you know it is, you will always return for more because the short elated feeling it gives you seems to be worth the suffering that accompanies it later. Love can also make you blind as to someone’s faults, you may think that they are the most perfect faultless person in the world, but in truth they are the lowest person in the world, but once you think otherwise it is too late, because you had a chance to have that feeling before you realized what you got yourself into. It is almost like a drug, and you can’t control the way you yearn for it even when you know it is slowly killing you.

Sonnet 146

I don’t completely understand what this sonnet is trying to say, but what I get out of it is that it is no good to spend worthless time and money on earthly things when someday at the point of your death, you will no longer be able to hold on to those earthly things, including your body. The only thing that gets to leave when you die is your soul, so you should spend more time nurturing your soul and developing yourself as a person than gathering material things, because your soul is all that you will be able to preserve when you die.