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American Literature

The Character Traits and Motives of Othello and Iago

William Shakespeare’s Othello tells the story of the Moorish General of the play’s title, and the ways he and other characters in the play are manipulated by the character of Iago. Although Othello is ostensibly the protagonist of the story, and Iago his primary protagonist, much of the story’s emphasis is on the actions of Iago and the way he interacts with the other characters to serve his own ends. Iago’s motives are driven largely by the malice he feels towards Othello after being passed over for promotion in favor of Michael Cassio. While Othello is an accomplished military leader, his own weaknesses make it possible for him to fall prey to Iago’s malicious machinations, and Othello becomes one of several victims of Iago’s scheming.

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American Literature

Gender Role Issues in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll House

Introduction

            The recognition of the real value of women has not been the same throughout the years of human history. It could be understood that somehow, there were years in the past when women were considered nothing better than men and are thus treated according to such status in the society. The desires and concerns of women are given lesser attention to as they are noted as nothing but a supporting factor to the success of every man.  In the story of Henrik Ibsen on A Doll’s House, he uses a metaphorical approach in defining how women in the 60s towards the 80s are relatively understood by the society. The stereotype that they receive from the surrounding society is shown in the story as a form of discrimination that women strongly wanted to live off from. In the discussion that follows, a focus on how Nora was treated by her husband Torvald and how it mirrored the condition of the society then shall be given particular attention to.

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American Literature

“The Negro Speaks of Rivers”

Langston Hughes’ “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” arguably aims to create a sense of historical consciousness for the African-American, a historical consciousness that has been destroyed by slavery. Namely, historical consciousness is crucial to establishing identity: it is a narrative of where one comes from and what one has accomplished historically. In the case of African-Americans historical consciousness was annulled by systematic European racism. Hughes makes the bold attempt to re-establish this consciousness, thus speaking of “rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.” (222) In essence, Hughes establishes the African historical consciousness by showing how radical the historical dimension of Africa itself is: here, Africa as the original continent of human life shows an African-American historical consciousness that is bound to the very beginnings of humanity itself.

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American Literature

Reading Modern literature

Reading Modern literature can sometimes be a frustrating quest for coherence and meaning.  Modernist authors tend to omit explanations, interpretations, connections, and summaries that we are accustomed to in traditional literature. O’Neill’s method in The Hairy Ape demonstrates a striking departure from traditional stage drama since audiences are faced with an exaggerated and stark realism, and with dialog that is crude, natural, and slangy.  How do you react to the play?  What happens to Yank that leads him to expose his primitive interior self?  What happens at the end, and how are we–the reading or viewing audience–to interpret his death?

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American Literature

How does Trifles help us think about different perspectives or perceptions?

Glaspell’s Trifles is not only an example of feminist art, but demonstrates how our social discourses are often fragmented according to the roles we play within this same greater framework. Namely, the female characters possess a certain attitude towards the patriarchic setting in which they live, for example, Margaret’s accusation for murder is advanced by the patriarchal male society, whereas her sympathizers are women. In other words, the structure of the male-female relationship is inevitably determined by whether one is looking at this relationship from a male and female perspective. This may seem to be a fairly self-evident statement, but when placed in a feminist context such as in Trifles it can serve as a powerful form of critique of the dominant male discourse: women, according to their marginalized position in this social discourse, are able to view the blindspots, exclusions, and presuppositions of the latter. In the exposure of these elements, Glaspell simultaneously critiques them.

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American Literature

American literary Renaissance

The period of the American literary Renaissance historically marks a certain general blossoming of creativity in American literature, however, it seems that it would be too cursory and inaccurate to classify these writers in terms of a shared commitment to a particular world view or ideology. Rather, what brings these authors together is their obvious shared status as contemporaries and an expansive creativity in terms of writing, in particular, with an attentiveness to the tradition of writing itself. Perhaps, therefore, this tradition can be united in terms of these authors having themselves discovered the rich tradition of English literature, seeking to contribute to this corpus in their own unique ways.

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American Literature

Nature and Free Will in “The Open Boat” and “To Build a Fire”

The themes of free will, or a lack of free will when it comes to nature are central themes in both “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane and “To Build a Fire” by Jack London. Both stories illustrate how little man really has over his or her own destiny, with very different circumstances, and to very different ends.

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American Literature

“The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Roman Fever”

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is often classified within the genre of gothic fiction. In so far as this genre is viewed as combining elements of horror and romance, Gilman’s story would appear to satisfy these criteria by depicting the descent into madness of its narrator, locked into a rumor and ultimately hallucinating about the yellowpaper that adorns the chamber. The descent into madness certainly falls into a category of psychological horror: however, where is the Romantic aspect of this piece? Perhaps it falls within the romantic category since it focuses on the individual: horror is not imposed from the exterior world, but emerges in the individual’s confrontation with the outside. Here, the extreme limitations of the surrounding environment torture the narrator, functioning as the direct opposite of the praise of nature in romanticism: a limited and closed environment negatively affects the individual. Gilman (1899) writes, for example, “I lie here on this great immovable bed – it is nailed down.” (p. 74) The sense of gravity here imposes itself on the narrator, disrupting her psychic life. This is paralleled in Gilman’s own life: the “resting cure” meant isolation, and here Gilman shows its clear connections to madness. Advancements in medical treatment have changed this approach, becoming more sensitive to factors that may contribute the psychological healing process.

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American Literature

“A White Heron” and “The Passing of Grandison”

The fictional account of “A White Heron” can certainly prove to be a better tool for environmentalists than nonfiction articles for a good many reasons. Fiction gives an author the most creative license possible to cater to their specific audience, making it very easy to pull on heartstrings. This is the most effective way in any persuasion to make someone see as yourself–by helping them relate to the issue, directly or indirectly, the impact something can have is much greater.

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American Literature

Prose Dinner: Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson*

Setting: Emily Dickinson is seated at a table clearly set for tea. She is dressed in a pure white dress, appropriate for a young lady from a wealthy family in the 19th century. She is clearly awaiting a guest, something causing her much anxiety.

Dickinson (to herself): Lord, help me please! I know I have nothing to fear from this man–this contemporary of mine–unconventional and brilliant. Still, he is a man…but Mr. Emerson has never shown me malice, and he certainly can vouch for his brilliance as a writer…

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American Literature

“Big Two-Hearted River” by Ernest Hemingway

During the life and times of Ernest Hemingway, America went through many social, foreign policy, and economics issues. His writing greatly reflects the feelings  of the masses of America at the time–dealing with immigration and overcrowding leading to horrible working conditions, World War One, and then the Great Depression, gave Hemingway plenty of experiences to draw from in his writings. The short-story “Big Two-Hearted River” clearly illustrates through metaphors of home and destruction, the difficult adjustment of Nick’s return to society, as well as his metaphorical battle with the fish the hardships felt by a man after returning home from WWI.

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American Literature

Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance

Even after African-Americans were granted their freedom with the 13th Amendment, horrible racial tensions prevailed through most of the country for a century afterwards, and beyond. This isolation of African-Americans forced them into small groups. often huddled together for protection.

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American Literature

Naturalism: How does the naturalism of Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat” anticipates and helps us understand themes in John Steinbeck’s “Flight.”

Naturalism ‘per se’ imposes on the idea that nature in itself exists because of nature. Nothing else exists because of anything else but nature itself. For instance, it entails to impose that nature can explain itself and it does not need any particular support to be identified accordingly. Principles such as mass, energy, and scientific communities coexist together because of the laws of nature and how nature in itself tries to survive through time. Humans are considered to be part of the elements that make up nature. In a way, the philosophy behind naturalism involves humans as a part of an existing element that proves the essence of nature being able to support its own self in the desire of surviving through the ages.

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American Literature

Analysis of “She Walks in Beauty” by Lord Byron

Lord Byron’s famous love-poem “She Walks in Beauty” (1815)  is well known for its memorable lines and romantic imagery. The poem features a theme that seems to unite the physical appearance of a woman with her inner virtues. The speaker of the poem celebrates the innocence and beauty of the woman in the poem in words that echo the poem’s theme of beauty and harmony . The poem’s use of poetic devices such as rhyme, images, and figurative language also mirror the poem’s theme of beauty and virtue. By examining these three elements of the poem, it can be demonstrated that Lord Byron was addressing the poem to a woman and also to the poetic “muse” simultaneously.  Needer points out that “the poem’s nominal subject is the uncommon beauty of one particular lady, its real subject is something quite different:” (Needler, 2010, p. 19)The poem’s deeper theme is that the beauty and virtue of a woman and the ecstacy and pureness of poetic inspiration are analogous. Rather than simply describing the physical beauty and virtuous character of a woman, the poem is using a beautiful and virtuous woman to symbolize the nature of poetic inspiration.