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William Shakespeare’s Commentary on Female Political Rulers through the Character of Lady Macbeth (Part 3)

June 28th, 2010 Comments off

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The disgust Lady Macbeth holds for any child who originates from her flesh can be noted in, “I have given suck, and know How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me: I would, while it was smiling in my face, Heave pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you Have done to this. ” (I, vi, 54-59). This astonishing revelation also reflects the manner in which she treats those she judges more vulnerable than herself, both man and child alike, influencing them to do horrific crimes for her personal gain. To distance herself from every preconceived notion regarding womanhood, Lady Macbeth has chosen to remain a “barren scepter”, (II, i, 62) denying herself the right to give birth in exchange for a masculine mystique, which allows her the power she is searching to gain. Macbeth, on the other hand, insists that she bear an heir to the throne if he is to occupy it, taking a more practical, parental role a compared to his wife. “Bring forth men-children only! ” he proclaims, “For thy undaunted mettle should compare Nothing but males. ” (I, vii, 72-74). The allusions made to the childlessness and the demands for a son to ascend the throne in this marriage can be found echoing in the minds of the first audience following the death of Queen Elizabeth, who died without hereditary heir. Devoid of the capacity or desire of neither Queen Elizabeth nor Lady Macbeth to yield children, each female ruler in the position of power maintains her credibility as a leader through a masculine form and nature.

Once Lady Macbeth succeeds in convincing Macbeth to undertake the unspeakably horrendous act of murdering King Duncan, her domineering nature can no longer keep him under her spell. Macbeth realizes his strengths stemming from the initial regicide and no longer needs her to fuel his ambition. As in all of human nature, a manipulative mind must have a weak soul by which to prey on, but once this soul loses its inhibitions and gains independence, the manipulative mind shall crumble. Admitting to having killed the guards of the king’s chamber, Macbeth breaks free from the original plan devised by his wife and thus emerges out of her scheme a self-sufficient figure, causing Lady Macbeth to faint in disbelief. While Lady Macbeth is seen to be reexamining the events of the previous murder, Macbeth looks ahead, anticipating the next murder, that of Banquo, which he has not informed his wife of yet. Gradually Macbeth distances his mind from the grip of Lady Macbeth, tasting the spoils of victory independently, and then actively seeking them out, ending the lives of Banquo and Macduff’s wife and children, securing that his wife have no place in the masculine acts of treason and revenge. Upon ascending the throne, “he, the man, so fully commands Lady Macbeth that he allows her no share in his new business. No longer his accomplice, she loses her role as housekeeper. ” (Klein, 175). Once Macbeth realizes his strength and no longer needs her or is in awe of her, Lady Macbeth, stricken and without an object to carry out her manipulation through, falls into periods of madness and sleepwalking. She becomes obsessed with removing the blood from her hands, as to her they appear stained, signifying a personal trial underway upon her soul. Lacking an individual to bestow upon her evil intentions and to achieve her ambitions, Lady Macbeth is forced to turn the evilness upon herself, eventually culminating into suicide as a result of relentless guilt. After losing the power of manipulation over her husband, Lady Macbeth loses her rank in the political institution of the monarchy and, therefore, ultimately ceases to exist, without the control.

The anxieties of gender role manifested in Shakespeare’s Macbeth decisively present that even such a powerful character as Lady Macbeth, or Queen Elizabeth herself, can not overcome the traditions of a patriarchal system through acceptable means. In the conclusion, Malcolm, son of Duncan, is restored to the throne and thus re-establishing normalcy in the line of succession, as deemed appropriate by the British people during Shakespeare’s time. Through the allegorical representation of the political ethos of Renaissance England, Shakespeare examines and resolutely determines that positive involvement of women within the political structure is not feasible, as demonstrated by the evolution of his character, Lady Macbeth.

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Freud’s “Civilization and Its Discontents” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (Part 2)

June 28th, 2010 Comments off

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Until death, humans continued to punish themselves for the wrongs that they had committed. Freud discussed the presence of these horrible memories lingering on the subconscious in his dissertation of “Civilization and Its Discontents”. According to him, the individual subconscious mind directed our thoughts and actions much more directly than previously thought. In this certain case, Jekyll represented the soul of a human and Hyde that human’s subconscious. In ordinary entities, these two were combined together to make up only one whole person, but in this book, they are broken down. Although Jekyll didn’t experience Edward Hyde’s crimes against humanity first hand, he was constantly nagged by Hyde’s remembrances. These remembrances in normal humans would compose the subconscious, but here they were given a physical form.

Also exhibited in “Civilization and Its Discontents” was the idea that civilization made more “should nots” than “should” in view of behavior. These many restrictions could suppress the human spirit and free-will without giving these omnipotent forces ways to channel the energy that they possessed. The evil side of Jekyll was silenced in the civilization that man had fallen victim to. Finally, without any other way to release this energy constructively, the dark side of Jekyll must emerged in the form of Mr. Hyde.

Unbound by civilization, Jekyll was able through Hyde to channel all the negative forces within himself and surrender to his own instincts. “The liberty of the individual is no gift of civilization. It was greatest before there was any civilization, though then, it is true, it had for the most part no value, since the individual was scarcely in a position to defend it. The development of civilization imposes restrictions on it, and justice demands that no one shall escape those restrictions. The urge for freedom, therefore, is directed against particular forms and demands of civilization altogether. ” (page 302) Hyde was the individual described and felt that he was much better off without any restrictions demanding proper conduct. He could not follow the basic laws set by moral men, so he chose to rebel against them. Another quote that was highly relevant in comparing both literary works was, “The element of truth behind all this, which people are so ready to disavow, is that men are not gentle creatures who want to be loved, and who at the most can defend themselves if they are attached; they are, on the contrary, creatures among those instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. ” (page 304) As Edward Hyde expressed through his actions, he believed that this statement was true and was not at all himself, gentle. Dr. Jekyll first appeared to be kind-hearted but later his more menacing side was revealed through his alter-ego.

“Civilization and Its Discontents” by Sigmund Freud and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson carefully outlined one another in common themes, ideas, and beliefs. In fact, it may seem that Stevenson’s publication was centered around Freud’s evaluation of society, although it was not. Both demonstrated the effects in which a civilized world can have on its inhabitants and dictated the true essence of the human psyche.

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Freud’s “Civilization and Its Discontents” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”

June 28th, 2010 Comments off

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Certain excerpts from Sigmund Freud’s essay of the human mind, “Civilization and Its Discontents”, could be identified as corresponding concepts that were interwoven in the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The great analytical work of the well known psychiatrist assessed the events and happenings of this book indirectly by way of common theories in which human might act. “Civilization and Its Discontents” forced upon its readers particular ideas that could also be found symbolically in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Both the texts of Sigmund Freud and Robert Louis Stevenson shared common themes and ideas.

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The main focal point of Freud’s essay rested on civilization and the problems and strain in which it inevitably caused to the individual. Freud strongly expressed in his composition that without civilization, the human being would be subject to Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest. “Perhaps we may begin by explaining that the element of civilization enters on the scene with the first attempt to regulate these social relationships. If the attempt were not made, the relationships would be subject to the arbitrary will of the individual: that is to say, the physically stronger man would decide them in the sense of his own interests and instinctual impulses. Nothing would be changed in this if this stronger man should in his turn meet someone stronger than he. ” (pages 301-302) Since Edward Hyde operated solely as an individual and avoided the wrath of civilization altogether, he assumed that he could overpower Dr. Jekyll. After all, he was stronger and more youthful than the wise old scientist, but the advancement of knowledge was on Dr. Jekyll’s side. Without this organization of social relationships, Hyde could have dominated the world, bringing evil to every corner.

The sheer power of civilization prevented the onslaught of evil amongst the masses, and alleviated the competition between men who were perhaps stronger that another. And yet, through the turmoil that existed in this world and the fickleness of society, both good and evil continued to combat in uncivilized manner as did Jekyll and Hyde themselves. This battle awakened aggressiveness deep within one’s own soul, in hope of proving his power and intelligence over another, still a form of that lingering theory of the strong commanding the weak. The presence of aggressiveness in Dr. Jekyll’s nature transcended into its own vehicle (or soul) of frustration, a Mr. Edward Hyde. Since such aggression was not conventionally thought of as civilized or desirable, it was shunned and forced to dwell deep within one’s spirit. This aggression and will to control all disrupted the relationships between Jekyll and his lifelong friends, Mr. Utterson and Dr. Lanyon. As Freud stated so eloquently, “The existence of this inclination of aggression, which we can detect in ourselves and justly assume to be present in others, is the factor which disturbs our relations with our neighbor and which forces civilization into such a high expenditure (of energy). ” (page 304). This overall aggression that reigned over Hyde’s entire soul, distanced him from the human race.

Sigmund Freud also brought to life the concept of the internal punishment that has forever scarred the human psyche, a plague that Dr. Jekyll experienced in Robert Louis Stevenson’s gripping novel. Resting always on the conscience, those unlawful and immoral deeds that one committed remained here. Jekyll was eternally tormented by the acts of Hyde, nearly driven to insanity. He could never escape the remembrances that Hyde has passed down to him through their common memory, especially those of trampling a young girl and beating an innocent man senseless. Finally, to extinguish all guilt and the madness circulating in his mind, Jekyll killed himself, and in effect, killed Hyde, too.

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Summary of Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy

June 24th, 2010 Comments off

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Roddy Doyle’s depiction of a working class Irish family focuses on the evolution of the parental relationship between a father, Jimmy, Sr. and his eldest daughter, Sharon, as they struggle to accept the responsibilities of an unexpected pregnancy and the social implications that result. Detailing the trial and tribulations encountered by a poor working family of six children, the Barrytown Trilogy embarks on a passage into overall maturity by an entire family as Sharon must come to terms with her pregnancy by one of her girlfriends’ fathers, George Burgess. The attitudes expressed by Jimmy, Sr. particularly in response to his daughter’s pregnancy, continue to evolve as he learns more about his role as a parent and provider through Sharon’s example, manipulation, and his own guided self-discovery. In the opening pages of this novel, one will note that Jimmy seems to be unable to grasp and get a handle on his own opinions and feelings, though as the narrative progresses through confrontation and patience, Sharon will educate her father on what it means to be a parent, as she steps up to the position herself.

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At the onset of this novel, a notable and quite evident strain in the relationship between Jimmy, Sr. and his daughter, Sharon, exists, as each attempt to adjust and come to terms with their own emotions regarding the upcoming arrival of her illegitimate child. Upon finding out that Sharon may be pregnant, Sharon’s father acted much more ambivalently than the average loving father, hinting at an unforeseen distance in familial connection between his daughter and himself; Sharon appears to be anything but “daddy’s little girl” as is made obvious by his reaction. Speaking to her mother about her pregnancy first, an authentic reaction is observed through the frustrated and anxious tears of Veronica, as “She thought that Sharon’s news deserved more attention, and some sort of punishment. As far as Veronica was concerned this was the worst thing that had ever happened to the family. ” (150). Jimmy, however, is unable to embrace his feelings relating to Sharon’s pregnancy; for some unknown reason he seeks to banish his emotions and remain strong for the family. Despite any noble intentions of pushing his feelings aside, Jimmy incites more mental suffering upon himself and his daughter, as she is unable to understand why he does not feel more strongly about her pregnancy. Jimmy, Sr. cannot be true to his own feelings and cannot rationalize how his role as the father figure of the family must evolve. Perhaps it is a positive attribute that he can remain so indifferent to the opinions and rumors, which will inevitably circulate throughout his hometown, Barrytown. Nevertheless, he cannot avoid the turmoil within himself that these criticisms will later rouse. Instead of telling Sharon exactly how he feels about this situation, he swallows his disappointment and heartache to be strong for her, but instead brings about confusion, as he appears to not be a very strong patriarchal figure. Jimmy Sr. goes on so far as to say that he believes Sharon to be a modern girl, a free-thinking woman who should not have to get married because of unwanted pregnancy, an obvious dodging of how he really feels. As Sharon grows up and matures in order to raise her baby properly, so must Jimmy, Sr. as he strives to develop into a more acceptable head of the household through many trails with his daughter and his own self.

Unable to deal with his anger over harsh words spoken about his daughter in a rational way, Jimmy, Sr. becomes violent in one instance and cries childishly in another, offering tainted justification which Sharon uses to prove him a hypocrite, and all of which establish a role reversal between Jimmy and his daughter. Seeking out to defend Sharon’s honor, Jimmy gains a bloody nose in a fight with some of the fellows down at the bar, and comes back home proud of his injury. His actions infuriate Sharon as she is unable to grasp why he would feel the need to take such childish measures; violence certainly would not hinder the mocking of her reputation. Most parents will recommend to children who are being bullied that, “You’re a fucking eejit, Daddy. Why couldn’t yeh just ignore them? ” (277); Sharon proves beyond her years by explaining this to her father, who apparently does not think rationally in regard to dealing with these jeering, drunken men he associates with. It does not even appear that Jimmy, Sr. understands her reasoning for not wanting him to lowering himself to their methods, especially in saying, “All Jimmy Sr had wanted was value for his nosebleed. But something had gone wrong. A bit of gratitude was all he expected. ” (278). It is painfully obvious from this statement that Jimmy, Sr. has learned nothing from the lesson Sharon has tried to impart to him, but she hopes that he will act differently the next time this situation arises, as it inevitably will. Also, when told that Sharon was a good ride by some of his bar pals, Jimmy, Sr. begins to cry and commences telling his daughter about it as a warning for her to know what is being said about herself. Sharon points out, however, that her father has considered other young ladies “rides” themselves, and wants him to realize this is no different, because they are all someone’s daughter. This is a hard lesson for Jimmy, Sr. to take in, but through his daughter’s actions and criticisms, he is able to being to understand what actions he must take, and what actions he definitely must steer clear of in his role as an active father for this pregnant young woman.

The earlier avoidance of conflict and confrontation of true emotions during the opening scene manifests itself into a childish evasion of Sharon altogether following her reprimands, as Jimmy attempts to make her feel guilty for the sin she has committed. By only speaking to her in casual passing and “enjoy[ing] his depression when Sharon was around or when he thought she was around and he could enjoy a few pints with the lads as well. ” (283), Jimmy sought to gain leverage against her claims, to make her remorseful for having sexual intercourse outside of wedlock. However, this plan backfires through the careful manipulation of her father with the threat of moving out, and Sharon is able to bring out his embarrassment due to presence of her unborn child. In this elaborate role reversal, Sharon is the one to confront her father about his less than friendly behavior in an attempt to correct the situation. She twists the situation back on him by demanding “Did I do somethin’ to yeh? I’m pregnant. I saw yeh lookin’ at me. —I’ve disgraced the family. ”(286), but this forces him to admit that he in fact is ashamed of her deeds. When Sharon apologizes to Jimmy, all he really wanted to hear from her to reconcile his differences with her, he insists that she not leave the family. This incidence represents a prime turning point in the evolution of their relationship as the father is, for the first time, truly able to open up to his daughter and make peace with her pregnancy, despite that she must take on the parental role for these results to come about. Examples of such a role reversal abound in this novel as one finds Jimmy, Sr. volleying back and forth between acting as an adult and acting as a child, although, after this scene, he no longer finds it imperative to hide his emotions.

As the novel’s storyline progresses, Jimmy, Sr. makes many very serious, whole-hearted attempts to create a stronger and more intimate bond between his daughter and himself, first by educating himself about her pregnancy. While Veronica seems to desire no part in her pregnancy despite the fact that she herself has been through this occurrence as she is a mother of six children, Jimmy, Sr. takes great interest in Sharon’s health and well-being, perhaps an attempt in making amends for his lack of sentiment upon her initial announcement of pregnancy. Jimmy, Sr. purchases books about pregnancy and becomes relatively educated, even explaining that “Hormonal changes are perfectly normal…But sometimes, like, there are side effects. Snottiness or depression or actin’ a bit queer. ” (306). By suggesting these consequences of pregnancy Jimmy, Sr. makes allowance for any strange behavior coming from Sharon, and therefore, expresses to her that he understands that she may be moody at times but won’t take it personally, although sometimes he should. This is a small step of him coming forward and opening himself up to her in his path to maturing as a father figure. He now also has a new concrete conversation topic to share with his daughter, without having to get too deep into emotional issues, and she feels he is the only one who really cares about this pregnancy. In addition, her father checks up on her when she is vomiting from morning sickness and drives her to work so that she will not have to walk. He even escorts her to Hikers one night so that they may talk, but sends her off to her friends so that he may join his bar mates, much as a teenager would send his parents off when he tired of them. Overall, Jimmy, Sr. affirms his position as father and head of the household in his assistance and concern for Sharon

In the final scene, Sharon’s father drives her to the hospital when her labor begins, instructing her on her breathing and solidifying a more parental relationship with her, trying to prove that he has stepped up to the plate and is prepared to take care of her and her child. This act completes the evolution of the relationship between father and daughter in this novel, although it will later continue to develop in The Van, however, much less drastically.

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Summary of Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy (Part 2)

June 24th, 2010 Comments off

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As a whole, Sharon’s pregnancy has vastly improved her relationship with her entire family, particularly with Jimmy, Sr. establishing for the first time a close parental bond between the two as her father assumes his role as caretaker of his family.

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Feminist Themes in the Works of Anne Bradstreet

June 24th, 2010 Comments off

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Anne Bradstreet’s "The Prologue" was intended to introduce her lengthy epic poem entitled Quaternions and by doing so, persuade male readers that she, although a woman, possessed enough talent to be worthy of their attention and contemplation. In this poem Bradstreet defended her sex against the disdain that men had shown toward female writers as a whole. The basic theme of her well-known text was the ability of female poets and their lack of acknowledgement by men. Much of the poem was self-deprecating, echoing the kind of criticism aimed at female poet like herself. She seemed to accept reluctantly the general attitude toward female authors, although demonstrating that she could use poetic devices with skill and had a firm grasp of a broad range of literature, including classical Greek and that of Guillaume de Salluste du Bartas, a writer of religious epics from France.

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Much tension between different systems of values was expressed in Bradstreet’s poem, "The Prologue," reflecting the nature of her Puritanical background. Personally Bradstreet views herself as an equal to any male writer of the day, but is forced by society to remain submissive and humble, systems of values clashing at this epicenter. In one instance on the third line, Anne begins, "For my mean pen. " (stanza 1, line 3), emphasizing that she viewed her ability to write about war and other manly ideas as "lowly or humble. " She was claiming that since she was a woman, she would be unable to write about great events that concern male poets "of wars, of captains, and of kings, Of cities founded, commonwealths begun," (1,1-2).

Anne Bradstreet refused to pretend to be a man but rather profess herself as an educated woman of the world, not feeling the need to hide her identity. On the fourth line Bradstreet continues, "Nor can I, like that fluent, sweet-tongued Greek Who lisped at first, in future times speak plain. By art he gladly found what he did seek;" (4, 19-21), referred to Demosthenes, an ancient Athenian who overcame a speech impediment by practicing with a rock in his mouth. Practice or as stated "art" could not make up for the lack of talent or for the fact that nature had made her a woman. Each critic said that Bradstreet should tend to her knitting and be content doing the typical work of a Puritan woman as stated on lines twenty five through twenty six, "I am obnoxious to each carping tongue Who says my hand a needle better fits;". Many other instances of tension are well noted including the idea that all nine of the Greek Muses were female deities.

Calliope was the muse of heroic or epic poetry, a form of expression that Anne Bradstreet was attempting in he Quaternions. By stating, "But she the antique Greeks were far more mild; Else of our sex why feigned they those nine, And Poesy made Calliope’s own child? " (6, 31-33) Bradstreet further affirmed her belief that women should be treated as equals for if the muses were female, then women should possess this ability. In lines thirty-seven to forty two she says, "Let Greeks be Greeks, and women what they are; Men have precedency and still excel. It is but vain unjustly to wage war; Women can do best, and women know well. " Here she deferred to male superiority but insists that she has her place also. Men need not be threatened by her works and poetic abilities, although her strong tone and apparent attitude towards Puritan traditions may bring about another conclusion.

The tension displayed in Anne Bradstreet’s poem was a direct consequence of her Puritan up-bringing; therefore many Puritanical elements can be found in her poetry with metaphysical qualities. Members of the Puritan society understood that all men and women were not equal. Men were given dominion over their families, ministers and church leaders exercised authority over communities, and women ruled over children and servants. A woman’s power came from her position in the community due to her husband’s social status, her personal character, and her roles as a wife, mother, and church member. Bradstreet’s social authority comes from her role as a daughter and wife of two Massachusetts leaders and wealthiest men, not her own talents for writing. Anne Bradstreet’s poem contained many metaphysical qualities, including her reacting against the traditions of Puritanical society and writing with witty, ironic and passionately intense verses. "The Prologue" shed light on the injustices happening to female poets in the 17th century as we view them today.

Anne Bradstreet used "The Prologue" to defend herself against the views of influential Puritan leaders and to show that through her literary style, she was worthy of respect. Bradstreet used her understanding of modern and ancient poetic devices to display that she was an educated, well-read woman of her time. Among these devices were rhyme-pattern, rhythm, and tone. The last word of the first line of every stanza rhymes with the last word of the third line.

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Feminist Themes in the Works of Anne Bradstreet (Part 2)

June 24th, 2010 Comments off

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Likewise, the last word of the second line of every stanza rhymes with the last word of the fourth line. The fifth and sixth lines form a slant rhyme, in that their endings look similar but they do not actually rhyme when pronounced out loud. Anne Bradstreet used iambic pentameter, an ancient rhythm meter used during the age of the Greeks. The syllables "Sure, an, Greeks, far, mild" are emphasized while the syllables "But, tique, were, more" remain unstressed. This poetic device followed suit on the first line of each stanza. Bradstreet used a somewhat cynical tone, in which she hoped to force her readers to consider her own value as an author. On lines twenty-five and twenty-six Bradstreet affirms her tone, "I am obnoxious to each carping tongue Who says my hand a needle better fits. " Bradstreet seemed to resent her own unimportance. She became upset not because she was a woman, but because women were treated improperly in her mind. Using tone, rhyme-pattern, and rhythm, Anne Bradstreet displayed her own intelligence and ability in her work, "The Prologue", showing to her male counter-parts that she felt no inferiority.

Many other elements of literary style could be found in Anne Bradstreet’s "The Prologue", including metaphors, similes, and personification. Anne Bradstreet displays her own talent in saying, "And O ye high-flown quills that soar the skies, And ever with your prey still catch your praise," (8, 43-44), a very strong and apparent metaphor. The male poet as a bird of prey, used his quills to catch his "praise", his metaphorical prey, something that Anne Bradstreet felt that she could not hope for. By contrast she claimed that her poetry is low, deserving of only crowns of kitchen herbs and metaphorically compared to ore, minerals hidden deep in the ground. "If e’er you design these lowly lines your eyes, Give thyme or parsley wreath; I ask no bays. This mean and unrefined ore of mine. " (8, 45-48), further reaffirmed the current view of women in the

Puritanical society. One simile, a type of metaphor using the words "like" or "as" to link two dissimilar objects, could be found in Anne Bradstreet’s introductory work. This example may be found on the nineteenth line, " Nor can I, like that fluent, sweet-tongued Greek," where Bradstreet compared herself to Demosthenes. Personification, the treating of an abstract quality or thing as if it were human which is also a literary term very similar to the metaphor, can be found on more than one occasion in Anne Bradstreet’s poem. "Their dates have run;" (1, 4) gave time the ability to move forward in a human style of progression and "High-flown quills that soar the skies," (8, 43) tells of a quill pen, an item used to write with, flying in the air, something that it could not possibly do. The tools of metaphors, similes, and personification were used heavily in "The Prologue" to prove to the readers that she, in fact although a woman, possessed enormous talent as a writer and should be taken seriously.

A myriad of other literary elements was used in Bradstreet’s "The Prologue", many of which were abstract and less common in her time. Allusion, symbolism, allegory, connotation, denotation, and paradox could all be found in her lyric poetry, a type of poetry that expressed the thoughts and feelings of the author. Allusion was used when discussing Demosthenes in "Nor can I like that fluent, sweet-tongued Greek. " (4, 19-22). Also "Of wars, of captains, and of kings, Of Cities founded, commonwealths begun," (1, 1-2) appeared to be a reference to The Aeneid by Virgil, an ancient epic describing the founding of Rome. Anne Bradstreet’s poetic art also discussed Calliope, a muse often called upon during invocation for inspiration during epic poems, including Homer’s The Odyssey. Connotation and denotation are demonstrated in the word "quills" (8, 43), the literal meaning of the word being a quill pen, an instrument used in writing, and the figurative meaning being a big bird of prey with quills as feathers. Symbolism was often used in poetry of the Puritan time very heavily. Calliope symbolized the women who had the ability to write, but were not allowed to because of social restrictions set on them. The treatment of women as described in this poem was an allegory of how slaves and people who were not "visible saints" in the Puritan community were looked upon. Anne Bradstreet used great poetic license and by doing so, showed the world that women, including herself, were just as capable writers as men.

Through style and content Anne Bradstreet attempted to break down pre-set barriers of Puritan society, which prohibited the literary expressions of women from being taken seriously. She presented areas of tension with an untimely perspective, and literally slapped the faces of male poets who believed that they were superior. "The Prologue" defended Bradstreet’s sex against the disdain men had shown toward female writers in general and herself in particular by using lavish styles and intense content.

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Feminist Themes in the Works of Anne Bradstreet (Part 3)

June 24th, 2010 Comments off

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Courtly Love in Dante’s The Divine Comedy

June 15th, 2010 Comments off

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Based on the definition of courtly love from The Lais de Marie de France, both Dante the Pilgrim and Dante the Author judge courtly love in a different way; however, in the end, both view it in the same negative light. The Pilgrim starts his journey with a favorable view of courtly love, but by the time he reaches Paradise, he understands that there is a higher love and courtly love is not the answer. Dante the Author, however, judges courtly love as wrong the entire time, as can be seen by his placement of Francesca de Rimini in hell. This differentiation of the Author from the Pilgrim leads to a higher understanding of love, especially the differences between courtly love and a higher love.

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Courtly love is defined best in The Lais of Marie de France. In her Lais, she defines courtly love as desire and longing for someone, and personal suffering by loving this person. Her description of desire and longing can be seen in her Lai, Lanval, “Fair lady, if it were to please you to grant me the joy of wanting to love me, you could ask nothing that I would not do as best I could, be it foolish or wise. I shall do as you bid and abandon all others for you. I never want to leave you and this is what I most desire” (Lais, p. 74). In this example of courtly love, Lanval is proclaiming his desire and longing for his princess. This desire is a recurring theme, also seen in Yonec: “I have loved you for a long time and desired you greatly in my heart. I never loved any woman but you, nor shall I ever love another” (Lais, p. 87). This idea of desire and longing, especially when there is separation, such as in Yonec, is a key idea in to courtly love as it is a recurring theme in The Lais, and it is also a key theme in the description of courtly love in The Divine Comedy. Another key factor of courtly love is suffering. In Lanval, his suffering comes with the separation from his love: “Alone in his chamber, distraught and anguished, he called his beloved repeatedly, but to no avail. He lamented and sighed, fainting from time to time; a hundred times he cried to her to have mercy, to come and speak with her beloved” (Lais, p. 77). Here the suffering of courtly love is best illustrated. Lanval is “anguished” from being apart from his loved one. This theme also recurs in Yonec: “He who loved her deeply took her in his arms and lamented his misfortunes repeatedly” (Lais, p. 91). All the lament and sorrow is a central idea of courtly love. So suffering, along with desire and longing, forms the idea of courtly love. And it is this idea of courtly love is judged throughout The Divine Comedy.

One of the most famous examples of courtly love in The Divine Comedy occurs when The Pilgrim is journeying through hell. It is here where he encounters the love story of Francesca de Rimini. This scene is the most clear cut example of courtly love because it clearly shows all three aspects of courtly love: desire, longing, suffering. The desire between the lovers can be seen with the lines: “Time and again our eyes were brought together by the book we read; our faces flushed and paled” (p. 31). The fact that their eyes would meet and their faces would flush and pale shows how there is a secret desire for the other, and a longing to be with each other romantically. This scene further depicts courtly love by showing how they suffered: “And all the while the one of the two spirits spoke these words, the other wept, in such a way that pity blurred my senses” (p. 31). This sad sorrow they feel for each other continues to express that fact that the love they shared was courtly love. But simply calling it courtly love does not imply whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. By analyzing Dante the Pilgrim’s reaction, it appears that courtly love is a good thing: “I swooned as though to die, and fell to Hell’s floor as a body, dead, falls” (p.

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Courtly Love in Dante’s The Divine Comedy (Part 2)

June 15th, 2010 Comments off

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31). The fact that he swooned illustrates the idea that he was so overcome by emotion that this idea of courtly love must in fact be right. Furthermore, The Pilgrim continues to express his pity towards the two lovers: “Regaining now my senses, which had fainted at the sight of these two who were kinsmen lovers, a piteous sight no confusing me to tears” (p. 32). This passage, in fact, is supposed to be confusing for Dante the Pilgrim, because throughout his life, he had believed that this idea of courtly love was in fact correct. But it is Dante the Author here who is showing the correct light. The Author puts these two lovers in Hell, so that should be the first clue that this is not a proper love. The Author is even revealing that The Pilgrim is starting to understand, because when The Pilgrim “swooned,” The Author also included the fact that he “fell to Hell’s floor,” as if to say it is not proper to swoon at this scene or you will end up on Hell’s floor. This scene shows the differentiation of the Author from the Pilgrim, but both relate to the central idea that courtly love is not a good thing and that there must be a higher love because if courtly love was all there was, everyone would end up in Hell.

Another example of courtly love in The Divine Comedy is Dante’s relationship with Beatrice. Throughout the entire journey, the Pilgrim expresses how he adored Beatrice and how she was the picture of perfection to him on Earth. This love for Beatrice can be seen when he first encounters her: “And instantly—though many years had passed since last I stood trembling before her eyes, captured by adoration, stunned by awe” (p. 365). The Pilgrim’s impression of Beatrice exemplifies the ideas of desire and longing by describing “adoration” and the “many years” that had passed since he saw her last. The Pilgrim’s suffering can also be seen since Beatrice left him on Earth: “To such depths did he sink” (p. 369). These characteristics of Dante’s love for Beatrice are perfect examples of courtly love. But yet this love is still not the best love. The Author tries to illustrate this point to both the reader and the Pilgrim as he describes this scene of rebuking: “and though I speak to you, my purpose is to make the one who weeps on that far bank perceive the truth and match his guilt with grief” (p. 368). This example can be perceived two ways. First, it is of Beatrice talking to her companions. Therefore, it can be seen as a way that The Pilgrim is being educated by Beatrice that his courtly love for her was not proper and that he needs to find a higher love. Secondly, it can be seen as Dante the Author speaking on his purpose to also show that there is a higher “truth” and courtly love contains “guilt. ” By taking into perspective the fact that The Author is writing this after the fact, it is evident that he is trying to educate and enlighten, and Beatrice’s rebuking of The Pilgrim is a prime way to show how courtly love is wrong and that a higher love needs to be found.

However, this scene raises the question, ‘If courtly love is wrong, and Dante the Pilgrim understands that he courtly loved Beatrice, then why doesn’t he end up in Hell? ’ Francesca and Paolo both ended up in Hell for their actions and it appears that Dante and Beatrice shared the same love for each other. Beatrice describes to her companions of a time when she shared this love with the Pilgrim: “There was a time my countenance sufficed, as I let him look into my young eyes” (p. 368). Beatrice continues to elaborate on this when talking to The Pilgrim: “In your journey of desire for me…” (p. 370). It is clear that there was definite courtly love between them. All three of the characteristics were present: desire, longing, and suffering. Yet, this love is still justified, even though the Pilgrim must first repent for this lustful act of courtly love: “Those things with their false joys…led me astray” (p.

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