Summary of The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

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Although education is traditionally a state and local responsibility, the federal government first became involved with its policies in the mid-1960’s and remains an active component even today, thus giving way to a presidential proposal entitled “No Child Left Behind” in 2001. Up until this bill proposal, Washington had spent nearly $130 billion since 1965 and more than $80 billion in the past decade alone in an unsuccessful effort to close the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their more affluent peers (see “Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Enhances Accountability”). A recent study by the American Legislative Exchange Council demonstrated that while per pupil expenditures had increased nationwide by 22. 8% over the past twenty years, little improvement has been made towards equity of education. From this data, it becomes clear that money is alone will not increase achievement, programs must be held accountable to obtain the desired results (“Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Enhances Accountability”). The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 as proposed by President George W. Bush was designed to reduce bureaucracy, provide additional flexibility to states and school districts to “tailor spending to programs that meet the unique needs of students and eliminate programs that divert resources from school. ” (“Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Helps Close the Achievement Gap”), and to allow local school districts to transfer up to fifty percent of federal education dollars they receive as long as they demonstrate results in an effort to cut “red tape. ” According to a summary issued by the House Education and Workforce Committee, H. R. 1 (the No Child Left Behind Act) was designed to establish a comprehensive accountability system, asking states to build on their existing assessment tests by designing and implementing annual math and reading tests for students in grades three through eight with an amount of federal money designated to redesign tests already in place. Additionally, this act requires that school districts annually report to the public on academic performance as measured by these assessment tests in each school of their jurisdiction, providing information on how students are doing in comparison to those in other schools in the district and across the state, graduate raters, and teacher qualifications to assist parents in judging how their local school stacks up against others statewide. If a low performing school as defined by the state does not make adequate yearly progress after three years of poor testing, students in the failing school are eligible to receive a scholarship for outside private tutoring to transfer to another public school (“H. R. 1, Questions and Answers. ”). States that also fail to show adequate yearly progress will additionally be subject to losing a portion of their administrative funds. Thus, according to the issue summary “By establishing a system of rewards and sanctions for states and school districts to hold them accountable for increasing student achievement, H. R. 1 would, for the first time, demand real from public schools that receive federal education resources,” (“Issue Summary: H. R. 1 Helps Close the Achievement Gap”).

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The conception of and pathways utilized by implementing major legislation, one may assume, are labored over desktops in an intellectual public spectacle of a congress chamber; however, one may have never guessed that in reality the key principals of H. R. 1 were first discussed hundreds of miles outside of Washington in an Austin, Texas meeting room, when the President-elect, George W. Bush, invited members of both parties to discuss education reform, a prominent item at the top of his agenda (Lara). Moving away from traditional lawmaking and into a new era of “unorthodox lawmaking” as coined by Barbara Sinclair, the United States government is increasingly establishing foundations for, and resolving disputes on legislation in less formal settings. A statement given to the House floor by John Boehner, further affirms the existence of these surreptitious actions in stating “This process began last December – before President Bush was technically even “President Bush,” (Lara). Although this December 2000 meeting laid the groundwork for the President’s “No Child Left Behind” legislation, two key congressmen, George Miller, senior Democrat on the House Education Committee, and Senator Edward M. Kennedy (Austin) were left out of the proceedings, both of whom would later become significant components in the passage of this bill.

The results from this initial furtive meeting and many others materialized in the House of Representatives on Thursday, March 22, 2001 when Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio introduced H. R. 1, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 by simply dropping the bill into the “hopper” (Austin). Opening with a broad statement of purpose for this legislation, Mr. Boehner articulated a comprehensive legislation which served to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 under the terms specified by President George W. Bush. Also a noteworthy element of his opening speech included ensuring a definitive goal designed by the legislation to, “In short: H. R. 1 will give students a chance, parents a choice, and schools a charge to be the best in the world,” (Boehner). Following the introduction of this bill sponsored by House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner and seventy original co-sponsors (Feehery) to the House of Representatives, House rules require that the piece of legislation be assigned a number and referred to a committee with appropriate jurisdiction. As announced on March 22, 2001, the date of legislative introduction, House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert stated, “I reserve H. R. 1 for the President’s education proposal because I believe that improving our schools should be a top priority for this Congress. ” (Feehery 1). The following day, as described by Sinclair, the parliamentarian determined a referral for the newly named H. R. 1 to committee under the supervision of the Speaker. In most instances, these bipartisan committees which take on a particular bill act as the primary “shapers” of the assigned legislation, thus placing a relatively high degree of importance on which committee(s) receives the bill upon its final legislative outcome. Rather than being sent to one committee in each chamber, many measures in the House, including H. R. 1 of the 107th Congress was considered by several committees sequentially.

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Post-Renaissance London and Venice: a Political Comparison (Part 2)

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Religious and political confrontation in England continued into a seven-year bloodshed, while Venice remained adamantly Catholic. With the war in France having ended and King Louis XIV having fallen dead, the long drawn out treaty of 1714 forecasted a rather peaceful time for the English government. Having been involved in the anti-French coalition included with Holland, Brandenburg, Portugal and Savoy, the British were given the land possesses of Canada from the French and the Gibraltar by the Spanish, also contracted into supplying African slaves to South America for thirty years. However, the French and the Scots continued to be a problem in England in 1715 when London was convinced of possibly invasion. Following the Glorious Revolution placing William of Orange and his wife, Mary on the throne, an attempt at restoring England failed, thus making London even more volatile. Conflicts in the New World colonial possessions of England, including Bacon’s rebellion against the government of Virginia demanded much of England’s political attention also. Though the severity and frequency of conflicts in both Venice and London differed, both cities witnessed instability in their government brought upon by outside and internal forces.

Venice and London both prospered greatly economically under their political leadership when it remained stable, though in somewhat contrasting ways. Venice, a lagoon built as a shelter for refugees from north Italy when it was overrun by Germanic invaders, grew because of these early settlers into a center of trade and was by 1400, the center of importation along the channel for luxury items to north and west Europe. Even after Portugal had found an ocean route to the east, Venice retained its monopoly, exemplifying the envy, which Portugal had so possessed for Venice’s prosperity. To keep the economy strong, inspectors of weights and measures and those of the Mint, censors of shop signs and taverns, wage setters and tax leviers, and marine officials were closely regulated.

The gold ducat of Venice was the “Euro” of its day, being circulated all over Europe at par. To make Venice’s taxation the lightest in Europe, a public debt was created and in the mid-sixteenth century, the first state bank was founded. In England, a mercantilist system of trading was created during the “triangle” trade with the New World colonies. In this system, New England bought Caribbean molasses and West African slaves to sell to Indian sugar growers in the west. It was not until the English decided to tax the molasses that the economy began to wobble, thus creating political unrest in the colonies.

In London investors tried to convince the chief minister, Harley, to restore public credit upon viewing the successes of other nations. This announced desire led many other companies to go public, financed by shares anyone could buy. Although this was an excellent idea upon inception, these companies quickly went bankrupt, as their primary goal was only to return huge profits. Parliament further punished those who had profited from these businesses, often arresting and fining these corrupt investors. Although as London worked towards a successful, strong economy, Venice remained a strong economic world power, despite facing impeding decline.

Despite obvious differences between the monarchy, councils of government, political stage and economy of Venice and London, both city-states made advancements that would further shape the principles in which their modern government acts on. Both facing much of the same European conflicts and struggles, they differ in the ways they react and respond, following the guidelines their cultures and governments set forth.

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Post-Renaissance London and Venice: a Political Comparison

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The political scene of post-Renaissance Venice starkly contrasted with that of London, reflecting great differences between each city’s level of economic and social stability. Although each city possessed its own underlying economic history and set of social circumstances, they still shared many common practices.

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The true earmark of the Venetian political system was its unique and amazingly efficient government setting it apart from other European cities but showing close ties to that of London in occasional practices. The Doge, the head of state in Venice, acted as a figurehead, a constitutional monarch whose only real power rested in personal influence upon the more powerful government officials. Much like the government of England, the actual governing was done by a group of patricians twenty five years of age or older, in a political grouping known as the Great Council. This system mirrors the constitutional monarchy of England under King James I and Charles I when Parliament began to make claims of constitutional power unthinkable in the days of the Tudor kings. Religious issues constantly placed the Stuart monarchs into conflict with Parliament because of their theory of absolute monarchy. The ideology of an absolute monarchy suggests that not only the king be the political sovereign, but he also dominate the economic and religious lives of those he rules. However, following the collection of money by the king without Parliament’s approval led to the Petition of Rights in 1628, placing the Parliament in a once more powerful position.

Both the Great Council and Parliament consisted of wealthy nobles, although Venetian politicians also lived by the profits of their shipping industry as well as that of the government, possessing great powers over the state. The Great Council appointed other officials including the Senators, the “Ten Men”, the Procurators of Venice’s patron saint, St. Mark, the Justices, and a College of Sages.

Unlike the Parliament of London, the Great Council of Venice, namely the “Ten Men” elected for one-year terms, dealt with morals, public decency, rebels, and foreign enemies. Venice had eleven trial courts and two used solely for appeals, reaching a verdict not by juries but by government officials. However, each of the accused was given a counselor, many centuries before this legal practice became common in London. From their work coined as miscellaneous, the Ten chose three as leaders, serving alternately for one month each. Other departments had a head for one day. The official was quarantined until his term was over, thus keeping the people entirely unpolitical. Venetian leaders had been trained since boyhood so that they could take office effectively upon reaching proper age, proving that the Venetian took their political system far more seriously than those of England did. Perhaps one reason for this is that in England at this time of Glorious Revolution, Parliament, and not inheritance or divine right, would determine the succession to the throne, so that no one man was entirely sure of his political station until chosen.

Internal and international conflicts, which each city was engaged in, further influenced the contrasting views of each political system but revealed similarities in their practices. To keep peace in their city, the Venetian government set up a corps of Ambassadors, but was also contending against four strong, neighboring powers, including that of the pope. The eastern outpost of Venice had been lost to a pirate crew following a twenty five-year war. Besides several less significant conflicts taking place in Venice, the world was focused on the events taking place in England at the time.

Although Venice remained relatively peaceful in comparison to the other city-states of its time, London erupted into civil war.

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

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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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William Shakespeare’s Commentary on Female Political Rulers through the Character of Lady Macbeth (Part 2)

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To gain credibility in her abilities and in the confidence that although she is a woman, she is capable of hungering for such power and seizing this power from others, Lady Macbeth must remove all aspects of femininity from herself. If the lady wishes to sway others into believing that she is perfectly competent of exercising leadership, she feels that the spirits must literally deprive her of femininity, thicken her blood, and halt her ability to weep openly. She begs these specters to strip away the attributes that make her a woman in crying out, “Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me, from the crown to the toe, top full Of direct cruelty. ” (I, v, 41-44). She desires for her blood congeal so that she can no longer be harmed by her own guilty conscious, “Make thick my blood, Stop up the access and passage to remorse, That no compunctious visiting of nature Shake my fell purpose nor keep peace between The effects and it! ” (I, v, 44-48). If Lady Macbeth is able to halt any inhibitions of guilt that may result from any of her deeds, she can consider herself more of a man, as men do go out into battle and kill without inflicting their souls with compunction. She then begs that the physical characteristics that make her a woman be removed, “Come to my woman’s breasts, And take my milk for gall, your murthering ministers wherever in your sightless substances You wait on nature’s mischief. ” (I, v, 48-51). When Lady Macbeth desires to be “unsexed” in both emotional and physical terms, her words reveal the noted discordance between the supposed archetype of feminine nature and political ambition. Despite this, Klein suggests, “[She] is never able to separate herself completely from womankind – unlike her husband, who ultimately becomes less and worse than a man,” (169). Shakespeare must de-feminize Lady Macbeth to some extent to give her ambitions credibility and, therefore, maintain in the minds of the audience that she as a character to be taken seriously.

  Through the bullying and chastising of her husband, Lady Macbeth drives Macbeth to dismiss his own fears, which ultimately leads to his own downfall.   Shakespeare transforms the longing of Lady Macbeth into that of a masculine nature and by doing so, through her actions and words, places Macbeth in a passive role.   The playwright allows Lady Macbeth to dominate her husband to show that such reversal of sexual relations is also a reversal of political order, reflecting the issues of female involvement in the government and the aptitude possessed by women to reign over men as a monarch.   Throughout the first portion of the play it can be noted that Macbeth is continuously forced to assert his manliness to his wife, first in writing a letter to her from the battlefield hailing his accomplishments and then by murdering King Duncan.   The initial probing exposes a more feminine side of Macbeth, one of doubt and hesitation, when he asks, "If we fail? " (I, vii, 58).   Lady Macbeth replies sharply, "We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking-place And we’ll not fail. " (I, vii, 59-61), attempting to assuage his fears.   Lady Macbeth continuously berates her husband for his lack of conviction, deeming him a weak man who can easily be exploited.   She becomes angered when Macbeth determines that he will not claim the crown by treacherous means, "If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown me Without my stir. " (I, iii, 143-144).   Although a man well versed in the sentiments of the battlefield, having hunted down traitor Macdonwald and "unseamed him from the nave to the chaps and fixed his head upon our battlements," Macbeth is plagued by the insistence of a guilty conscious.   Lady Macbeth proceeds to mock him because of his apparent remorse following the murder of King Duncan saying, "My hands are of your color [blood], but I shame To wear a heart so white. " (II, ii, 62-63).   Lady Macbeth finishes the deed of her husband herself, considering him not manly enough to go back and place the bloody daggers in the dead monarch’s bedchamber.   It is through the frequent insults and stabs against his manhood, that Shakespeare brings to light what a strong personality that Lady Macbeth possesses, one strong enough to assume the masculine role of acquisition of power. Upon asking the spirits to unsex her otherwise feminine emotional state and body to gain standing as a power-craving individual, Lady Macbeth acknowledges the single trait that still separates her from masculinity, at least in her mind, the ability to bear children. To remove this capacity would eliminate every aspect which would be considered womanly and, therefore, leave her a neutral ruler, unable to be influenced by the prospect of having children, which was condemned a weakness by the society.

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William Shakespeare’s Commentary on Female Political Rulers through the Character of Lady Macbeth

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The authorship of William Shakespeare frequently places the ultimate power in the hands of female protagonists, and in doing so, implicitly suggests that women’s involvement in politics at the sovereign level represents a danger to society at large. To gain credibility as an autonomous leader, or the means behind the “puppeting” of a male in power, each female character must be stripped of every ounce of femininity, just as was the case in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. In his characters, particularly Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare explores gender anxieties; in his plot, he embraces conflict and turmoil stemming from this anxiety, and in his play’s resolution, he bestows power back into a patriarchal system, satisfying the desires of the people for governmental stability. It is through the evolution of Lady Macbeth’s nature that Shakespeare offers an indirect commentary of his time concerning female leadership capabilities.

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The control of Lady Macbeth throughout the play, first possessing a strong grip upon her husband but diminishing as he becomes increasingly independent, reflects the social circumstances and governmental situation of the time of its composition. Lady Macbeth can be viewed as an allegorical Queen Elizabeth I of England, holding vast amounts of power because she does not embody the typical characterization of aristocratic women. The suicide of Lady Macbeth, which renders to the reestablishment of a patriarchal monarchial system, mimics the transition, although bloodless, from Queen Elizabeth I to James VI of Scotland, her chosen successor, reinstalling the line of male sovereignty. Written between the years 1605 and 1606 to be performed before King James VI shortly after the death of Queen Elizabeth in March of 1603, the story of Macbeth along with the characterization of its leading lady offers a celebration to the restoration of male-dominated normalcy in Renaissance England.

The instability of the Tudor monarchy, plagued by events preceding the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, is presumed to be a result of female rule and thus is inherently dangerous for the state. The belief that a woman can not effectively lead a nation into war, exercise power over male subjects, or become wed without transferring her power to her husband and to his family all produce anxiety regarding the ability of women to rule and thus left it a culture yearning for the stability represented by a king, not a queen. To cure this insurgent hesitance and to express confidently the needed attributes to occupy power, Queen Elizabeth, much like her counterpart, Lady Macbeth, could not act in a womanly manner. The “Virgin Queen” as Elizabeth I was dubbed, resulting from her desire to strip herself of feminine sexuality, could nevertheless escape her femininity because of her appearance and the bias that existed against women in power at the time. Through the examination of the political attitudes against the late Queen of England, one can identify the parallels that Shakespeare conveyed through his character, Lady Macbeth.

Lady Macbeth possesses unbridled ambition and an insatiable hunger for power, typical male sentiments which are deemed unladylike when compared to the traditional characterization and role of women. Women during this era are expected to be quiet and opinion-less in speech, gentle individuals who watch over home and servants, functioning to primarily please their husbands. This idea is further concurred by Joan Klein in her essay entitled “Lady Macbeth: ‘Infirm of Purpose,” as a result from Eve’s original seduction of Adam, all “women were bound by nature and law to obey their husbands as well as their God,” distinguishing Lady Macbeth as an oddity (168). Instead of fitting this mold, Lady Macbeth operates as the manipulative character in this play, pushing to obtain great power for personal gain through her husband’s lethal deeds. Following the slaughter of Cawdor in battle, Macbeth becomes alarmed when he learns that King Duncan’s son, Malcolm, not himself for his heroic actions, will be the next heir to the throne. After this meeting, Macbeth composes a letter to his wife, informing her of his resentment, and quickly she learns that King Duncan will be paying a royal visit to their castle, Inverness. To hasten the prophecy outlined in her husband’s letter, one that proclaims Macbeth will first be named Thane of Cawdor and then king, Lady Macbeth devises a plan to murder the King. Through the derision of her husband’s weakness, and the brilliancy of her plan, which seems to be fated by destiny, Lady Macbeth convinces Macbeth to commit regicide against a king he once followed. Such manipulation of events and the greed, which drew her to seek out to kill the king, are ultimately characteristics are typical of a man, rather than a woman. With this ploy, Lady Macbeth assumes the absolute power of the state, behaving as if she is to not be held accountable and deserves no blame. Her disruption of political stability stems from her own ambition, and it is this ambition that makes her standout as unnatural for her gender.

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

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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”

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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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History of Chinese Cuisine (Part 2)

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4 Jan. 2002. Cuisine Net: Diner’s Digest. 17 Feb. 2002

<http://www. cuisinenet. com/digest/region/china/index. shtml>.

History of Chinese Cooking. 10 Oct. 2001. Cooking Together. 17 Feb. 2002

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Hom, Ken. The Taste of China. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1990.

Leung, Albert Y. Chinese Herbal Remedies. New York: Universe, 1984.

Low, Jennie. Chopsticks, Cleaver, and Wok: Homestyle Chinese Cooking. San

Francisco: Chronicle, 1987.

Wellman, Jos. History of Cooking: Evolution of Cooking from B. C. up to and Including

the 7th century A. D. . Tallyrand’s Culinary Fare. 17 Feb. 2002

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Yu, Ling. Cooking the Chinese Way. Minneapolis: Lerner, 1982.

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History of Chinese Cuisine (Part 1)

June 28th, 2010 Comments off

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Both ancient and modern Chinese societies have held knowledge of refined cooking skills in the highest esteem, and so thus, it is through examination of the earliest diets and most contemporary lavish feasts that one may gain an appreciation and true understanding of the culture. Food as an international language can provide valuable clues to the history and customs of any region and by drawing parallels between the Chinese cuisine of antiquity and that of modern times, the evolution of a society may be evaluated. At a time when most civilizations regarded foods simply in terms of survival, the Chinese had begun to develop an intricate system of preparation, service and consumption. In fact so important was the art of cooking that according to K. C. Chang, I Yin, a prime minister of the Shang Dynasty and formerly celebrated chef, initiated his expansive political career through the strength of his culinary prowess. (Hom, 21). By inspection of the regional flavors in Chinese cuisine today as compared with the ancient diet, the influences of both eastern and western cultures to the art of food preparation, and the progression from herbal remedies to seasonings for foods, one can gain learn much about the evolution of the Chinese way of life.

Over the many centuries comprising China’s history, each area of China has developed its own distinctive customs, culture, and character. Because of climate and the resulting limited crop availability, each section has adapted its own food and cooking style. Although basic cooking techniques remain similar throughout the country, each region features special ingredients and seasonings. A traditional Chinese family meal consists of four main dishes: meat or poultry, fish or seafood, a vegetable, and soup all over the country. Despite varying flavors, the menu always includes a basic staple dish of rice, steamed breads, pancakes, or noodles. The similarities in Chinese cuisine in each region end at this point, as the tastes and ingredients diverge to create a much-diversified menu.

In general, there are four main “schools” of Chinese cooking, the Cantonese method of the southern region, the Peking or Mandarin style from the north, Shanghai cooking on the east coast, and the Szechuan variety of cooking in inland China. The northern school associated with the city of Canton and southern China has evolved a unique history and has become the most familiar with Westerners because most of those who immigrated to Europe and the Americas during the nineteenth century originated from Canton. Canton was an ancient trading port and the home of many wealthy Chinese merchants and foreigners. Resulting from this varying culture and proximity to other lands via trade, unusual delicacies were introduced including frogs’ legs, snakes, turtles, and dogs. This region is subtropical with a humid climate, possessing an extended year-round growing season. The favorable climate denotes this area as primarily an agricultural region with vegetables and fruits such as bananas, pineapples, oranges, and lychees remaining abundant. Dim sun is prepared elsewhere in China, but it is in Canton that these “dot the heart” treats, including pastries, dumplings, soups, breads, cake, and noodles were most distinguished. The Cantonese slightly undercook their food to accentuate natural flavorings in steaming, blanching, barbecuing, roasting, and simmering. (Yu, 8).

The Peking or Mandarin style encompassing Peking, the northern provinces of Shandong, Hebei, and Shanxis as well as Mongolia, is arguably the most eclectic area of China. The climate for this region varies extremely as the plains covering majority of the land are beaten with cold Siberian winds during the winter and hot breezes from the Gobi desert in the summer. Shandong grows vast amounts of wheat, barley, millet, corn, and soybeans, however, as it has a suitable temperate climate. Because of the somewhat cooler climate, wheat rather than rice became the primary staple crop, and meals often partially consist of steamed breads, pancakes, and noodles. Palace chefs of Peking introduced new ingredients to suit the ruling monarchs, creating new dishes, which are still widely served today. Many beef and lamb dishes are present in the Mandarin diet, as Moslems in the north would not eat pork for religious reasons.

On the eastern coast where Shanghai cooking dominates, dishes are strongly flavored with soy sauce and sugar also including a wide variety of seafood from the nearby Pacific Ocean. A subtropical climate with warm, wet summers and cool winters provide a year-round growing season. Wheat, barely, rice, corn, sweet potatoes, soybeans, bamboo shoots, beans, melons, gourds, squashes, and leafy vegetables have become a vital part of the eastern Chinese diet. The Yangtse River provides freshwater crabs, shrimp, and carp inland. Shaohsing wine, soy sauce, and Chinkiang vinegar are each unique to this region. (Yu, 8).

The final region, inland China distinguished by the Szechuan style of cooking, produces hot, spicy dishes. In the providences of Sichuan and Hunana, the climate is comprised of warm, humid summers and mild winters, allowing subtropical fruits to thrive such as oranges, tangerines, and kumquats. Dried ingredients such as black mushrooms, wood ears, and silver tree ears in addition to the red chili peppers were used along with peppercorns, garlic, onions, dried tangerine peel, and gingerroot, make for a spicy cuisine. Flavoring and condiments create an intricate blending of hot, sour and sweet tastes in the western Chinese diet. (Yu, 9).

The ancient Chinese diet was relatively indistinctive early on, both bland in taste and in texture before the influence of the cookery of different cultures. Unlike the diverse and exceedingly tasty food served in the various regions of China today, early menus consisted of dishes lacking in flavor from spices and foreign vegetables. Despite the seemingly unvarying meals of the early Chinese people, many of the staple foods in modern China were as important to their ancient ancestors. Archaeologists have uncovered farming tools and pots containing grains of rice that date back to 5000BC. (Hom, 21). Flour milling, introduced into the Chinese diet during 206 BC, would later evolve into noodle making. (Wellman). In addition to the agrarian food derived from the earth in the ancient Chinese diet, wild beasts and seafood caught comprised the savory, yet very bland diet.

As the Chinese culture evolved and diversified, so did its everyday and imperial cuisine. For thousands of years, the Chinese empire undertook extensive land development including constructing vast irrigation, flood control, and water transport facilities to assist with agriculture. During the Han Dynasty (200BC – 220AD), Chinese agricultural advancements greatly increased production. Low taxes, land distribution, and public projects in as well as the dissemination of agricultural knowledge aided in the rising prosperity of Chinese agriculture. (Hom, 66). The Southern Song Dynasty (1126 – 1279AD) was famous for the refinements it brought to Chinese imperial cuisine. (Hom, 67). During this time, a huge influx of Buddhist influence introduced many delicious vegetarian meals. Often times meals of the emperor would consist of thirty courses composed of nearly one hundred dishes. An official taster, an eunuch, sampled each of the emperor’s dishes first to test for poisons before the monarch was able to consume his meal. (Hom, 68). The middle class also adapted its own culinary style, adopting a hybrid of wealthy settings with simpler, more balanced dishes. The late ancient Chinese cuisine had become altered greatly over the country’s two thousand year history, even more so with the introduction of new fruits, vegetables, and spices from far away lands.

Many of the “traditional” Chinese dishes have been adopted from foreign sources either partially with the contribution of new ingredients or completely with innovative new tastes. Because the country has many natural barriers including the Pacific Ocean, desert, and mountains as well as the man-made Great Wall from the Bohai Sea to the Gobi desert, it seems that China was relatively sealed off from the outside world from any “barbarians” for many centuries. However, this great civilization was very accessible for other cultures through trade, although on China’s own terms. Somewhat dependent on the outside world for livestock, produce, seafood, spices, poultry, rice, wine, and wheat, China became a central location for the convergence of many diverse oriental cuisines with the construction Silk Road, built in the third century AD during the Han Dynasty. During the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD), grapes, spinach, lettuce, figs, sugar beets, leeles, and shallots, as well as pine nuts, almonds, and pistachios were introduced from the near East. Hom, 51). During this dynasty, traders from many areas and nations including Japan, Korea, Arabia, India, and Persia delivered their goods and traded for many rich products in China, leaving behind facets of their own cultures, especially new foods. The growing influence of Buddhism, which had traveled via the Silk Road from India and Nepal, and its emphasis on vegetarianism led to innovative uses of wheat products in the form of dumplings and fried dough strips. The Mongols introduced yogurt, game, goat, mutton, and the mare’s milk derivative, Koumiss upon taking over China in 1279 AD. (Hom, 53) Despite the radical invasion of Mongolian leader, Kublai Khan, the Chinese menu remained unchanged for the most part throughout the occupation. The earliest western influences arrived from southern Europe during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). (Hom, 54). New World foods including peanuts, sweet potatoes, and corn were introduced by the Portuguese and Spanish explorers when traveling from the New World to India, China, and the Philippines in the early sixteenth century. (Hom, 54). Through Chinese traders who initially left China but then later returned, squash, tomatoes, and chili peppers were brought from the Americas approximately one hundred years ago. (Hom, 51). With the contribution of foods from various countries over thousands of years, the Chinese cuisine has culminated into a diverse sampling of many cultures from around the world.

The most prominent flavors in Chinese food are created by a careful mix of seasonings comprised of gingerroot, scallions, garlic, star anise, and red pepper, some of which have been introduced by other cultures and were used in ancient times as herbal remedies. In seasoning their meals, Chinese chefs believe that harmony and balance must be obtained by everything in life, including food. Each food is classified as either hot (Yang), denoting that it has a stimulating effect on oneself, or cold (Yin), implying a calming, quieting effect. Seasonings were originally paired with foods to neutralize their effects on the body. Gingerroots are served in soups, pickled in a sweet and sour dressing, and sprinkled on top of dishes as a garnish. In a stronger, more mature version of the herb, gingerroot is used to remove strong tastes, mainly in seafood. Garlic is used liberally in many Chinese dishes, as are scallions. The white portion of the scallion is usually used as flavoring and the greens for garnish. Star anise, a seasoning with a licorice-like flavor is used primarily in marinades and in braised dishes and stews. (Hom, 96). The most common flavorings include gingerroots, scallions, garlic, and star anise, all of which were originally used as herbal remedies in ancient times.

The seasonings made of herbs in modern Chinese cuisine were in fact first used in ancient times for medicinal purposes. Herbal remedies were time-tested for effectiveness and safety for generations not just a few years or decades as is done today through human trial instead of animal testing. Over many years, the toxic properties and side effects were noted in each herbal treatment, and most of those that were proved too harmful were discarded. The Shennong Herbal (Shen Nong Ben Cao) introduced in 200 BC, is currently considered the oldest Chinese herbal guide. This record contains a listing for three hundred sixty five herbal combinations, one hundred twenty considered non-toxic, one hundred twenty considered mildly toxic, and one hundred twenty five toxic. Garlic, scientifically known as Allium Sativum and called da suan by the Chinese is cultivated world wide for use as a condiment and as an herbal cure. According to Li Shizhen, garlic was introduced about two thousand years ago during the Han Dynasty. Garlic is used to treat bacterial dysentery, amebic dysentery, enteritis, sores, carbuncles, common cold, whooping cough, internal parasites, pulmonary tuberculosis, bellyache, nosebleeds, and snake and insect bites. The northern Chinese employ garlic quite frequently, but those in the south tend to avoid it because of its odor. Gingerroot is another herb found in both Chinese cookbooks and herbal guidebooks. Gingerroot is believed to have originated from the Pacific islands and is now grown mostly in China, India, Jamaica, and Nigeria. In ancient medicine, gingerroot was first introduced at least two thousand years ago as described in the Shennong Herbal. Traditionally, gingerroot has been considered to have warming, diaphoretic, anti-nausea, and anti-emetic properties. Its most common uses include the common cold, nausea, vomiting, wheezing, coughing, nasal congestion, abdominal distention, and diarrhea. The most widespread ancient gingerroot treatment was to remedy motion sickness. A small piece of gingerroot is eaten during a boat or car ride to serve this purpose. Star anise, also a popular Chinese seasoning, first became popular as an herbal treatment. Termed ba jia hui xiang, meaning “eight-horned fennel” in Chinese, it is most frequently grown in the southern providences of Guangxi, Guangdons, and Yunnan. Star anise has been used in Chinese for many centuries, but it was not until the sixteenth century that its usage was first recorded. It was first employed to warm internal organs, particularly the heart, kidney, bladder, and small intestines, as well as for pain relief. Additionally, star anise was used to treat vomiting, lumbago due to kidney deficiency, and abdominal pain due to hernia. (Leung, 9-18). Seasonings in early Chinese cuisine were first introduced and utilized as ancient herbal remedies, many of which are still in use today.

Through the exploration of Chinese diet both past and present, the nature and progression of Chinese civilization is revealed. From the initial publication of the “Li Chi”, the most extensive handbook describing social behavior ever complied back in the Han Dynasty (Hom, 22), to the modern Chinese cookbook, one observes the great importance placed upon cooking traditions by the Chinese people, as the country and populace have evolved over nearly two thousand years.

Works Cited

Chinese Cuisine.

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