Personal Response to The Awakening

The Awakening, a novel written by Kate Chopin takes place in the very early 1900s New Orleans. The main character being Edna Pontellier, throughout the story we can see her struggles and death at the end of the novel. I was left with many questions at the end of the book like “Is Edna a bad person? A bad wife? A bad mother?”, “Is Edna selfish?”, “What is a good marriage?”, and “What obligations do parents have to their parents?”.

For the first question I have which is “Is Edna a bad person? A bad wife? A bad mother?”. I don’t think Edna is a bad person because it seems as though throughout a lot of the story she is mentally unstable, her life is almost at a constant flux of emotions and therefore she is not in the right headspace and if she was I feel as though she would be a better person, and when Mme. Ratingolle was sick she took care of her, despite her and Robert having a very lovey dovey conversation. She is in some form a “bad wife”, due to the fact that she is literally cheating on him with another man, and is very much so in love with another man other than Leonce. She isn’t a bad mother though, she still throughout the story seems to be very loving towards her kids and takes care of them and thinks of them.

For the second question I have which is “Is Edna selfish?”, I do think she is selfish, this is mostly due to the fact she is taking away her pain just to feel good, even though she is scarring plenty of her friends and close family members.

For the third question I have is “What is a good marriage?”, I feel as though that a good marriage is one where both people in the marriage love each other, they keep their distance from each other (so they don’t burn each other out), and neither are financially dependent on the other. For example if the father wasn’t working while the mother has a job, I feel as though it creates a power dynamic in the way that like one feels as though they are doing more and could cause tension between them that would get in the way of other things. That’s why I feel as though it’s good if both parents work and it also helps stop parents being burned out by each other.

For the final question I have is “What obligations do parents have to their parents?”, Some of the main obligations that parents have to their kids are like loving them, supporting them, and the obvious stuff. With the supporting them part I’m mostly talking about like whatever job they choose, whatever stuff they like to do, and stuff like that. The obvious stuff mostly includes like food, shelter, water, and clothes.

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Reflection on The Awakening

Chopin’s The Awakening showcases individuality compared to society’s conventions. Edna Pontellier, who the main character of this book. She is trying to break away from society’s standard conventions of the time in order to find reason and individuality rather than listening to what others find proper or correct, instead of making decisions on her own and only letting her define who she really is.

Society when this was written was extremely strict in what women could do and what their actions meant. Edna is an upper-class woman married to a profitable hardworking man who seems to view her just as a status symbol rather than someone who he loves. Some people wonder why she wouldn’t just get a divorce and find somebody who actually loves her for who she is, and she does the same too. Once women became divorced back then she is looked at as a used car as if it’s worthless. Therefore, women were pretty much forced to stay within these unhealthy marriages in order to keep value and respect to their names. Edna rebels against the rules of society and leaves home and moves into a new house down the street. When Mr.Pontellier learns of what Edna’s plans are, he puts their house under renovations to make it look like there was a reason for Edna to leave the house. Mr. Pontellier was never thinking of his relationship with his wife, “he was simply thinking of his financial integrity. It might get noised about that the Pontellier’s had met reverses and were forced to conduct their Menage on a humbler scale than heretofore.” (P. 110) Edna to Mr. Pontellier is just a symbol of their status. He only cares about how their family looks to the rest of the world rather than accepting the other person for who they are.

Edna, we see throughout the book become a woman who is independent who does not rely on others or belong to others. She chooses what she wants and focuses on her needs like she never has before. “I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose. If he were to say, ‘here Robert takes her and be happy; I should laugh at you both.” Edna’s relationship with Mr. Pontellier has become meaningless and she does not see him as her husband who should control what she does anymore. This shows her becoming more aware of what she could do on her own without having to be dependant. Lower-class people constantly have to wake up every day and go to work in order to survive and have a hope that one day they will be able to retire happily. Middle-class women in the same stuck position as Edna, have lots of time to wonder what their purpose is, what they want to achieve, what goals do they have. Society sadly seemed to put a cap on the potential of women by locking them into boxes which they could which should never be done to anyone.

The question of what killed Edna Is interesting. You could say her husband or Robert but, I find that society killed her. Another view I considered was money. Edna was a middle-class woman who had all of these conventions of society created from money breathing down her neck. If you’re a middle- or upper-class person you have to look act and talk a certain way. We see this questioned in Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, Elsa a flower girl is changed into what Mr. Higgins considers a woman then, she goes to the embassy ball filled with people of high status and fits in perfectly. Money changes the way people look at anything just as Mr. Pontellier renovated his house only to protect his financial integrity since his wife had decided to leave the house.

The awakening Is an incredibly eye-opening book about women’s rights then and now. The story does a good job of lifting up characters rather than keeping them as only a protagonist or antagonist. This helped me see different views of each character and each character’s traits. The book also is a great representation that we should never put women in boxes that limits them to what they are able to achieve. I hope that we have moved on from this time and find it important to analyze this book.

 

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The Awakening Personal Response

In the literary piece “The Awakening” by author Kate Chopin, we are introduced to enlightenment. When the reader first sees the title, we may believe it is referring to an individual becoming themselves. This although a good ideal, is far from the meaning behind the title. The title refers to one’s growth and understanding of their mistakes.
You see, Edna is a young woman who has lost herself over the years. She has allowed society and her needs to survive to drive her actions and words instead of doing what truly benefits her.

Throughout the story we are introduced to multiple characters who each carry their own burdens in life, whether it be giving up on themselves, losing track of their life, or simply living according to what their elders have instructed.

In the early chapters, we are introduced to a nocturnal beach setting, which one would naturally assume is calming, and a bit nerve-racking. What most do not notice is what the sea truly represents. You see, in the chapters surrounding this setting, there is a lot that Edna goes through about who she is and what she has truly accomplished in life, this also reflects in the sea, due to its broadness and unknown depths carrying beauty and creatures which haunt some. The sea characterises her true feelings and thoughts about herself.

My absolute favourite part of this entire novel, if you may call it that, is the sense of individualism which is reached near the end. Edna matures mentally to a state of independence and self-assertion. This is one of life’s mysteries which many do not accomplish until much later in life.

I really enjoyed this novel, but I would not encourage younger audiences to read it yet, since they are not in a mental space to properly understand the meaning of the novel.

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Personal Response to The Awakening

The Awakening by Kate Chopin was a ground breaking work of fiction at the time, and heroine Edna Pontellier was a controversial character. She shattered a lot of nineteenth-century gender stereotypes and standards. Her rejection of her status as a mother and wife was one of her most surprising behavior. Kate Chopin eventually reveals her rejection, but motherhood is a key theme throughout the book.

Chopin gives Edna two foils to be focused on and compared to, Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz. Adele Ratignolle and Mademoiselle Reisz are what the men in Edna’s life compare her to and from whom they derive their hopes for her. Edna, on the other hand, sees all role models missing and realizes that the existence of independence and autonomy she desires is incompatible with society. Rather than idenifying herself independantly, she is identified by her role as Leonce Pontellier’s wife and mother of Raoul and Etienne Pontellier which cause her to struggle against the social and natural constructs of motherhood. The inevitability of her destiny as a male-defined being drives her to desperation, and she decides to end her life the only way she knows how.

Edna’s awareness of her natural role as a mother and woman, along with the social role she is supposed to play, causes her to commit suicide. “Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children! Remember them” (p. 131), Adele says to Edna before leaving the Ratignolle’s the night of the birth. Edna’s conscience is invaded by Adele’s appeal, which becomes the deciding factor in her decision to leave her new life behind. The idea of sharing her body with another person, of becoming genuinely a part of something other than her individual self, is fundamentally opposed to anything Edna has been seeking. Raoul and Etienne will be a persistent presence in her life, she realizes, and her innate position as a mother keeps her from living without them. After all, a woman’s primary responsibility is to raise her children to adulthood, and they, in essence, give meaning to her life. Edna refuses to spend the rest of her life as Raoul and Etienne’s mother, as well as Leonce’s wife.

She understands that doing so would mean sacrificing herself, which she vowed she would never do. “The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her soul’s slavery for the rest of her days” (p. 136). Edna refuses to be bound by its natural and social labels, and she commits suicide in order to save it from these constraints. Edna’s embrace of death is a regeneration in itself. Edna’s enlightening summer in Grand Isle has reached nine months, and her fetus-self is about to be delivered. “…and for the time she stood naked in the open air, at the mercy of the sun, the breeze that beat upon her, and the waves that invited her” (p. 136).

Edna accepts her rebirth as a way to relieve the burdens of adulthood. Edna pines for the innocence of children, who are blissfully unaware of the pressures of producing children and their fixed social positions. By encouraging herself to forget her life and immerse herself in death, Edna lets go of the concerns that nature and society put on a woman. Society were the two most powerful forces trying to shape Edna Pontellier into the woman they desired, but Edna is eventually able to break their grip by her suicide. Raoul and Etienne had power over her soul, reminding her endlessly of the torture of childbirth that nature demands of her. Leonce and society owned her soul, telling her to be submissive, to keep home, adore her children, and keep up appearances, but it was Raoul and Etienne who imprisoned her soul. Edna’s passion for identity and self-definition stopped her loving her children and announcing that she would give up nearly anything for them, but her desire for individuality and self-definition led her to her deathly rebirth.

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Personal Response to The Awakening

In The Awakening, Kate Chopin invites the reader to question society’s conventionality, using her characterizations of Edna and her foils. From the start of the novel, Edna is never presented as someone who is happily married. She immediately appears disconnected from her husband and children, though she still cares for them. When talking with her friends, they “all declared that Mr. Pontellier was the best husband in the world. Mrs. Pontellier was forced to admit that she knew of none better” (p. 8). This passage shows the sense of  indifference Edna has towards him. Then, Edna is described as, “not a mother woman” (p. 9), furthering our idea of her disconnection from her family. When examining Edna next to Mme. Ratignolle, we can see the clear contrast. Serving as one of Edna’s foils, Adèle is warm, feminine, and “delicious in the [mother-]role” (p. 9). She is someone who believes that, “a woman who would give her life for her children could do no more than that” (p. 56), contrasting to Edna, who says, “I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself” (p. 56). Chopin uses Mme. Ratignolle to depict the societally conventional woman: an excellent wife, loving mother, and devout catholic. She seems pleased with and admired for her conventional lifestyle, leading us to wonder if this is the best route.

Edna’s other foil, Mlle. Reisz, lies on the opposite side of the spectrum. She is an independent, single woman who lives separate from social expectations. For these reasons, she’s often characterized as unfeminine, such as the diction presenting her as “strikingly homely” (p. 73), with “strong wiry hands” (p. 73) and a “disagreeable” (p. 29) disposition. People don’t like Mlle. Reisz as much as they do Mme. Ratignolle. Due to her lack of conformity, she’s somewhat shunned from society, leading us to believe that traditionalism is not only the best option, but the only one. As the novel progresses, so does Edna’s radicalism. Her mind and body awaken, leaving her at odds with society’s expectations of her. Suddenly, we’re surrounded by questions about priorities: should we relinquish our radicalism to be embraced by society, or should we abandon society to stay true to ourselves? Can radicals and conventionalists exist harmoniously, or must they remain divided? Kate Chopin utilizes these contrasting characters to accentuate the differences between traditional and progressive, allowing us to explore how each side of the spectrum upholds our society.

Along with questions about conventionality, Chopin uses Edna’s romantic relationships to open discussions on the question, What is love?. From her marriage to her affair with Robert, Edna experiences love in several capacities. At the start of her relationship with her husband, Léonce, Edna realizes that she must give up all her dreams of romance, due to the fact that there is “no trace of passion” (p. 21) between the two of them. Edna grows to resent marriage and the restrictions that accompany it. Not only are we shown this indignation through Edna’s words, but also through Chopin’s symbolism. The beginning of the novel showcases an encaged bird, speaking “a language which nobody understood” (p. 1), representing Edna’s captivity in her conventional marriage. This idea is reiterated when Edna  awakens from her previously oppressed state, seeking independence rather than confinement. This is what I believe provokes her subsequent affairs: her desire to self-control, and relinquish herself from society’s hold. As she tells Robert, “I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose” (p. 128). Due to this resistance to confinement, it may seem counterintuitive that Edna is falling in love with Robert as she experiences her feminist awakening. However, we soon realize that her love for Robert is completely unrelated to marriage and promise. Love, to answer the initial question,  is a disguise for what the characters truly want from life. Edna sees Robert as an escape from conventional life. He’s exciting and new, and she has no obligations to him. When Robert dreams about Edna, he dreams about marriage. But when Edna dreams about Robert, she dreams about self-governance and freedom. Edna has experienced marriage, and it did not equate to love. She “grew fond” (p. 21) of Léonce, but marriage is a failed experiment in Edna’s mind. Therefore, when Robert tells Edna about his “wild dream of [Edna] becoming [his] wife” (p. 127), she is put off. Chopin has written Robert as a conventional character—one that almost resembles a younger Mr. Pontellier. By doing so, Chopin is accentuating Edna’s ideas about love and marriage. To Edna, those two words are not synonymous. Marriage is a prison that detains, oppresses, and suffocates her. Contrarily, love is an escape; a reflection of Edna’s liberation, a release from conventional society. Does this—the desire to break free—make Edna selfish?

Rather than selfish, I argue that Edna is exploring her identity, self-ownership, and place in society. The word “selfish” has a negative connotation, portraying her as a villain for being unhappy and curious. Through her awakening, Edna becomes more in touch with her mind and her body. She begins to make her own decisions, rather than complying to the subservience that society and her husband ask of her. For instance, when Edna chooses to stay outside one night, Mr. Pontellier orders her to come inside. But instead of “submitt[ing] to his command” (p. 36), Edna doesn’t yield, and asserts herself by saying, “Don’t speak to me like that again” (p. 37). From then on, she decides where she goes and what she does, giving herself where she chooses. Personally, I appreciate this self-exploration. Through several means, Edna is getting in touch with her radicalism, and is fighting against the patriarchal, conventional society. Nevertheless, she has made commitments to her husband and children, which complicates the scenario. Edna’s foil, Mlle. Reisz is able to live an independent, radical lifestyle, because she never makes any commitments to other people. Ultimately, this commitment is what restricts Edna. She cannot continue living as a mother and a wife, but she also cannot live independently without causing scandal. Once again, we see this depicted by bird symbolism: her marriage is compared to a birdcage, and her independent home is referred to as a “pigeon house” (p. 101). She is left with no good options; trapped in between the radical and the conventional—the birdcage and the pigeon house. Once she is exposed to the ideas of self-ownership and independence, how is she expected to return to oppressive mundanity?

I was immensely moved by this novel. Not only does it examine a woman’s role in society, but also her obligations to herself. Edna lives in a society where conventionality is prioritized over self-ownership. Women didn’t have the option to control themselves, making Edna’s resistance to societal norms so radical. Edna doesn’t want the conventional life that has been placed onto her, and instead desires freedom to do as she pleases. Her fight against conventional entrapment correlates with her awakening, leading me conclude that radicalism originates from awareness of yourself and the world around you. Throughout my education on societal standards and the oppressive systems that dominate society, my own radical values have increased. In many ways, my education has “awakened” me, like Edna awakened through her emotional experiences. This novel has allowed me to question my values in relation to conventionality; how I want to conduct my lifestyle and continuously progress.

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Personal Response to The Awakening

The book The Awakening by Kate Chopin to me was an interesting story to read. When first reading this story, I thought it was going to be another one of those boring “love story’s” but after finishing the story it got me intrigued and asking many questions which left me in confusion trying to answer them.
One of the biggest questions that came to mind is “Was it necessary for Edna to kill herself?” This all started when Edna fell in love with Robert while still being married to Léonce and she couldn’t control herself. This love with Robert, being married to Léonce, and having an affair with Arobin was slowly killing her and giving her that bad reputation. Then once Robert came back from Mexico and visited Nora, she had to leave due to Adèle in labor. Once Edna returned home Robert had left leaving a note saying “I love you. Good-by—because I love you” (pg. 133) then the next day Edna took a train to her summer home, went into the ocean, and drowned herself.
Answering this question can be tough since there are two sides to it. One side is she was being selfish and a child with her kids will not be able to grow up with a mother around. But looking at it from another viewpoint, you notice she was only trying to protect her reputation for her kids when they grow up. You first see this when Adèle whispers to Edna after labor “Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children! Remember them!” (pg. 131) and before Edna drowns, she thought of Léonce and the children being part of her life which both refer to her thinking of her kid and how she’d want them to think of her.
Another big question that is raised by this book is about society. “Does society have unwritten rules or standards we need to follow?” Everyone has said to have a free choice of will and not to be afraid to do anything. Yet society can be very judgemental of things we do in our lives so people must do/not do certain things to stay normal and not to be looked at differently. This comes up in the book when Edna is having an affair and being in love with Robert. When Edna drowns, this brings up the question that if Edna stayed alive, would she have broken that unwritten rule and be frowned upon by society for being with different men? The pressure of society has been the cause for many deaths since everyone must not break those “unwritten rules” to live a normal life and to be accepted as a human.
The last big question from this book is “Was it worth it for Robert to leave?” there are many different perspectives on why Robert left Edna with the note “I love you. Good-by—because I love you” (pg. 133) some have said he left because he didn’t want to be with Edna. I believe he left to try and save Edna from herself and stay loyal to her husband. When he said in the letter “Good-by—because I love you” (pg. 133) It sounds like he only wanted the best for her and she could save herself.

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The Awakening: Personal Response

The Awakening written by Kate Chopin is a fascinating novel which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I thought that it carried deep and emotional subjects. In The Awakening Edna a mother of two is founded in a loveless marriage. She escapes her reality in finding a romantic interest towards Robert. Robert takes off, and she is alone rediscovering herself. Throughout the novel we see her having multiple different “awakenings” from sexual to emotional. I will be analyzing Edna’s final decision, and if this was the right choice for her.

Symbolisme is a huge factor in the novel. It helps define Edna awakening and emotional suffering. One of the two most notable symbols in the novel is the sea. To Edna, the sea (or the idea of the sea) represents freedom. It is her getaway. The sea is there in the beginning of the novel before her awakening. Often represented as “…seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamouring, murmuring…”(p.15). It is this seductive, secretive sea that ended Edna’s struggle. The sea often foreshadows what was yet to happen; “The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”(p.15) It is as if the narrator themselves saw the sea as an escape from society, like a soft and grand bed to sleep on after a hard day’s work. Throughout the novel, we see Edna’s strong connection with the sea improve. We notice this with Edna’s experience learning how to swim. Edna randomly feels empowered to swim, though she struggled with it for most of summer. “A feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul” (p.32). This was the first time where Edna feels like she is in control and she gets so excited and entranced with her new power, she doesn’t realize how far she has swam. Getting scared, she swims back. In the later chapter of the novel (where Edna finally decides to end her own life) she isn’t scared. She is calm, thinking of the summer and her childhood. She no longer cares for what society thinks of her and this is what makes her not go back to the shore. She has gone too far, where she can’t go back. Even if Edna decided to live her mundane life, she simply wouldn’t. She now knows what it is like to be free and to feel awake where she’d rather die than live her life. This gives Edna power for this is the only thing that she can control in her life. 

Throughout the novel, we, readers, often question Edna’s relationship with her children. For the first part of the novel, she is seen as distant and far from her children. She doesn’t really care where they are nor what they are doing. “If one of the little Pontellier boys took a tumble whilst at play, he was not apt to rush crying to his mother’s arms for comfort; he would more likely pick himself up, wipe the water out of his eyes and sand out of his mouth, and go on playing” (pp.8-9). When she gets more involved with her personal awakening, we start to see her have more appreciation for her children, but only when they are with her. “How glad she was to see the children! She wept for very pleasure when she felt their little arms clasping her, their heard ruby cheeks pressed against her own glowing cheeks”(p.111). We never see her think about her children alone until the end of the novel deciding her own death. So is Edna a good mother? When being compared to one of her foil, Mme. Adele, it is easy to consider that Edna wasn’t a very loving mother. However, Edna is a caring mother for what she can do in her situation. It isn’t her fault that she is stuck in this society where her only value is to give birth. She didn’t ask to be here, to marry nor to have children. She still loves her children but only because they are her offspring. She doesn’t love them for who they are, simply because she doesn’t know who they are and they are too young to have a defining personality. She is busy holding up womanly values (which she doesn’t believe in) to be a mother for her children, such as staying home on Tuesdays. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to live life to societal conventions. She’d rather die and give her soul to the sea then create a scandal for her children in suicidal aftermath which would forever ruin their reputation and opportunities. So she does 7have consideration for her children. 

Was it the right decision for Edna to end her own life? Personally, I will never conclude that killing oneself is the best option when dealing with difficult times. However, in this context, a literary source; in understanding Edna’s consternations, character and situation, I believe that she made the best decision for herself. She is freeing herself and saving her children from a life of scandal. I also believe that Edna didn’t think she belonged in this world where her roles were very limited. When being compared to her two foils, she simply doesn’t fit in. She isn’t the motherly type nor the independent woman type. The decisions she made in her past has left her now feeling helpless, unable to escape an unloving marriage without causing scandal for her children. Societal pressures obviously lay very heavy on her. I believe that Edna also feels that even if she did come to love someone else, she would still not want to oblige to the “ideal” marriage they would likely want. 

While reading the story of Edna and her ends, I feel a sense of wanting to cry but not having enough tears to do so. To think about how many women often felt trapped in a society that controlled every aspect of their lives. This idea and concept of women is still present in today’s society, from beauty standards to sexual harassment and child marriages. A lot of women around the world constantly feel pressured and harassed to fit the role of “the perfect woman.” I, personally, sometimes don’t even know whether my own opinions are my own, or if they have been formed through thousands of years of social conditioning to undermine women. I hope that one day all women will feel valued in the society that they live in.

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WDolan The Awakening Personal Response

In Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening”, the reader learns the story of a woman named Edna, who grappled with the ideas of being a wife living a traditional life, being self-reliant, and free-willed individual. Edna represents the idea of teleology. She has reasons for why she has many affairs, but does not necessarily know about the causes in which they arise. However, seeing how this is frowned upon in the story, it seems society follows more consequentialist principles.

In the beginning of the story, I had the impression that Edna was selfish. It seemed she wanted whatever she liked and was not considerate of other people’s feelings. On page 136 she says: “To-day it is Arobin: to-morrow it will be someone else”. This may seem selfish, but when an individual is unhappy, their feelings are valid. However, they are not always right. Was Edna justified to end her life and leave her children? Was it better for them to not have a scandal caused by Edna inflicted on them? Her final thoughts are about people she cares about. She thinks of Robert, (“There was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert…” pg 136), and her children. Despite this, it does seem she realizes all the positivity within her life has been stripped away from her, once she was abandoned by her family. Did she really love the ones she was surrounded by? Or were they obstacles and preventing her from having other affairs?

I think it is important to debate Edna’s appreciation of her partner. I am not sure I would refer to them as family since they aren’t married and she has many affairs. On page 81, Madame Pontellier suggests that Edna may be more united if Robert stayed around longer. However, Edna responds with “Oh! Dear no! What should I do if he stayed home? We wouldn’t have anything to say to each other”. Did she respond this way fearing that if Robert stayed home, it would interfere with her freedoms? If this is the case, I would find her response reasonable since women were not given much freedom during this time frame. Her marriage appears to be a type of imprisonment for her. Therefore the only ending available to Edna is death. This relates to an earlier topic discussed about paradise and death. Edna would love to have everything she desires and have other individuals behave the way she deems appropriate. However, if she were to receive all this, her life may have become a mini paradise, and she would still not be satisfied, because she cannot alter the perfect nature of her life. This creates a kind of death within her life, which may have lead to the same ending of the story, where Edna takes her own life.

In summary, the book has many symbols, amd metaphors throughout, adding to its complexity. The book appeals to one gender over the other, because, in my opinion, the romantic scenes were too graphic. It provides excellent insight into what the earlier developments of feminism looked like, and how the story shaped the future. I learned about other people’s perspective on the meaning of life, and what makes their lives important.

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The Awakening: Personal Response

The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, is by far my favourite book we’ve read in English this year. The narration caught my attention first. Chopin is marvellously, and quite uniquely in my reading experience thus far, willing to leave things unsaid. She does not leave so much out as to be confusing or frustrating– everything unsaid can be deduced with little hardship. Rather, the satisfaction in reading comes from the simple omission of unnecessary expounding. For instance, when Victor begins singing “‘Ah! si tu savais,'” Edna exclaims “‘Oh! you musn’t! you musn’t!'” (p. 107). Another author may have felt the need to write ‘Edna exclaimed, not wishing to hear the words from anyone other than Robert.’  Chopin, however, gives no explanation at all: she trusts the reader not to need hand-holding. This–to be trusted as a reader–holds the root of the satisfaction I often felt reading this book. There is something rewarding, and thoroughly engaging, about being given the opportunity to think for myself while reading.

Contrasted with Chopin’s ability to leave things unsaid is her ability to, put simply, say them. Intermixed with the unobtrusive narration which is inevitably needed to tow the reader from chapter to chapter, there are vivid, often haunting, descriptions of important feelings and perceptions that couldn’t help but linger in my mind. One such moment occurs at the end of the book, as the sea calls to Edna with a voice that is described as “seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude” (p. 136). Another occurs in chapter three, when, after an argument with Edna’s husband, her mood is described as “an indescribable oppression, which seemed to generate in some unfamiliar part of her consciousness, filled her whole being with a vague anguish. It was like a shadow, like a mist passing across her soul’s summer day” (p. 7). Chopin’s description of occasions such as these managed to engross me in the book while reading and pervade my thoughts even after.

There is then, of course, the talk of content. The story of the woman not made for house-wiving is one that I’ve never failed to be interested by. This interest is in part sparked by a desire to understand the sufferances of women, but more broadly, what fascinates me is the narrative of a person who doesn’t mesh with society. What happens to the child with ADHD in a schooling system built for a different kind of brain? What happens to the homosexual man in a community that proclaims homosexuality a sin? What happens to the independent woman obligated by social expectations to marry? Or, as Edna, the enamoured woman bound by law and convention to a man she does not love? Far too often in the past, and the present too, there has been no escape for these people. We don’t choose our brains or bodies, or the location or era or circumstances of our birth. All too often, if we get stuck with a life or a society that just doesn’t fit, we’re screwed. What can Edna do when living according to conventions would drain her spirit, and when living as she pleases would ruin her children’s lives? Live in misery or die are her two courses of action, and neither one is very appealing. Unfortunately, it’s a damn near impossible task to make society equally welcoming for all types of people. Try as we might, there are just too many types.

All of this is rather grim; the book itself is rather grim. However, I see never-ending value in provoking thought about the ways in which society could be improved. The more perspectives we can see, the better off we will end up. Edna’s perspective is one that applies far more broadly than it might at first seem, making it especially valuable. This, combined with the fascinating writing style, makes The Awakening, by Kate Chopin, a must-read, in my opinion.

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The Awakening: Personal Response

For me the book The Awakening by Kate Chopin was exhausting and boring to read. I likewise think Edna is exceptionally childish and selfish. That’s what I thought at first, however as I read and began understanding her intentions, I have an alternate idea on the book. She is trying to find herself, it is about self-revelation and recognition. Although some of her actions still show selfishness and narrow mindedness, I understand her motives behind everything. 

In the context of the 19th century, women’s first priority should be to take care of their children. On the other hand, Edna is described as not a “mother”. When exchanging views on the mother’s debt to the child, Edna declared that her personality is more important than her mother. I will pay my money, I will give my life for my children, but I will not give myself” (page 57). Edna’s adolescence prompted her to fight for self-discovery, which resulted in She neglected responsibilities such as childbirth. Edna is not a conscientious mother. I can’t accept this ending. Although some people say that her children can be taken care of by their grandma and Léonce, if I am the child, I would rather see my parents divorce, to be more accurate ‘not in love anymore’ rather than hearing about my mother’s death. Edna loves her children and she still cares about them. “She was fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way. She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them” (p. 21).

Approaching the end of the novel, Edna shares her final thought about Robert before she commits suicide, “he did not know; he did not understand. He would never understand” (p. 116). Instead of contemplating how she would break her dearest companion’s heart with her final act, she only reflects on how he had never understood her. Edna deserts everyone who had cared for her and who she had relied upon, without much consideration. 

Edna’s actions can be justified with the social standards today. However, She did them all in aiming to fill the void in her miserable life, where she had no control over anything without the approval of a man. Edna sees more to her life, potentials and dreams, although she never had the chance to proceed as she could not handle the consequences it came with. As a mother and as a lover, Edna is selfish. As an individual, her choice of putting herself first in any circumstances and to control her own destiny, makes her almost admirable.

 

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Personal Response to The Awakening

I cannot discuss whether or not Edna’s choice to suicide was “right” or “wrong.” It isn’t the right choice to make, but it is her only choice.

As her reputation will likely be ruined, she kills herself to protect her children. “It makes no difference to me, it doesn’t matter about Léonce Pontellier—but Raoul and Etienne!” (p. 136). To me, it feels like her children’s presence drove Edna to death.

“The children appeared before her like antagonists who had overcome her; who had overpowered and sought to drag her into the soul’s slavery for the rest of her days.” (p. 136)

Her children are her “burdens”. If Edna did not have Raoul and Etienne, she can continue her acts of infidelity even if she ruins her reputation. But because Edna gives birth to her children when she is not prepared to be a mother, raising them is “a responsibility which she had blindly assumed and which Fate had not fitted her” (p. 21). Being a “good mother” like Madame Ratignolle means it is her priority to take care of her children at all times. That is why Edna is particularly “selfish” in a way that she wouldn’t “sacrifice herself for her children, or for anyone” (p. 56). Especially after her “awakening,” she realizes that becoming a “perfect mother” requires her to sacrifice too much of her individuality and soul. In order to preserve her soul, she gives her life.

But if Edna didn’t need to worry about her children and runs away with Robert, she wouldn’t be happy either. She knows that her love towards Robert will not last long. Although “there was no human being whom she wanted near her except Robert,” she knows that “the day would come when he, too, and the thought of him would melt out of her existence, leaving her alone.” (p. 136) At this point, Edna is already beyond her younger years of having romantic fantasies. Although she loves Robert, he doesn’t understand her in a way that he, like Léonce Pontellier, doesn’t understand what she means when she says “I give myself where I choose.” (p. 128)

But society, or more specifically, the middle-class society that Edna lives in, will not allow a married woman like her to “give where she choose.” The Pontelliers, like all other middle-class families, need to “observe les convenances” to “keep up with the procession” (p. 60). But the middle-class life is very decent ; Edna’s house is very “charming” (p. 58) and they had servants and cooks. However, she is bound to her home, her family, and the middle-class society.

Disliking the social norms doesn’t justify her infidelity. There is more to why Edna falls in love with Robert and associates with Alcée. At “the beginning of things,” where the world is “necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and exceedingly disturbing” (p. 15), “middle class morality” didn’t exist. But because many people are stuck inside this middle-class life forever, they never “wake up,” and their souls “perish in its tumult” (p. 15). Edna discovered herself at the sea, where life first emerged. The water possesses all the treasures to life. She sees a world without “middle-class morality.” As Kate Chopin writes, and repeats:

“The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation.” (p. 15, 136)

Despite suicide being Edna’s only choice, there is something incredibly sad about the death of a “new-born creature,” a beautiful creature that just began to live. Because she possesses a “ponderous weight of wisdom” that even the “Holy Ghost” is unwilling to “vouchsafe” to a “woman” (p. 15), of course her society wouldn’t tolerate such things.

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The Awakening: Personal Response

While discussing the book The Awakening by Kate Chopin with a few of my friends, I got many responses on how the book was boring and repetitive. I asked them what they thought about Edna’s character, and the only responses I received were that she is selfish. I, personally, thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. There is much more to the book than just a woman leaving her husband because she is in love with someone else. It is about a woman trying to find herself; it is about self-discovery and recognition. I do not see why Edna is selfish just because she is trying to be happy with herself.

Edna is not a mother-woman and has been classified as selfish because she chooses to do other things rather than look after her children. I solely oppose the point that she is selfish because she does not look after her kids like other mothers do. “She was fond of her children in an uneven, impulsive way. She would sometimes gather them passionately to her heart; she would sometimes forget them” (p. 21). Edna loved her children; the book only mentions the events over a year or two; it does not mention anything before that. We are not aware of how she treated her children before that; maybe she would have taken care of them all the time over the last few years. Edna was supposed to help Léonce with his business; she cannot possibly be present with her kids 24/7; she needs some time to herself, which does not make her selfish. Besides, Etienne and Raoul never complained of her absence; the kids were young and enjoying themselves.

Even though the book suggests that Léonce fell in love with Edna    (p. 21), it is evident that this was not the case. “Then her absolute disregard for her duties as a wife angered him” (p. 67).  It seems as if Edna was stuck in a box and was desperately trying to get out of it and be free. According to societal standards, Mr. Pontellier is the perfect husband, but he is courteous towards Edna only when she is submissive. There is a difference between her being selfish and her being confused. Now that Edna decides to do as she pleases, it is damaging to his business; Léonce lashes out and becomes angry and rude. She did not stick to her duties because she was trying to enrage Léonce, but she wanted to find her true identity. Everyone needs to know who they are. I do not see any evidence that suggests Léonce loved her, and he treats her like an employee rather than his wife.  “He was simply thinking of his financial integrity” (p. 110). Mr. Pontellier shows no affection towards Edna; he is inconsiderate and egoistic unless it regards his business.

I do not think Edna ever loved Mr. Pontellier, and so she sought love from Robert. “She could hear again the ripple of water, the flapping sail” (p. 68). Every time Edna thinks of Robert, the author changes the structure of words and makes it romantic, sensual, and calming. Thinking about him gives her a sense of freedom. She had romantic feelings for Robert, but these were never present with Léonce or Arobin. This is because Robert is everything she wants in a person, unlike Léonce and Arobin, who are self-centred. I hear many people saying that Edna cheated on Robert because she kissed Arobin. “It was the first kiss of her life to which her nature had really responded” (p. 98). This is not true because even though she had deep feelings for Robert, they were never in a committed relationship; they didn’t have to be faithful to each other. Although this does prove that she cheated on Léonce, she was not in love with him.

Edna never considered not having children because it was never an option when she got married. She wanted to have children, but she also needed time to herself. Even though Edna had to die in the end, I enjoyed the ending as well. Her suicide was not because she couldn’t handle her emotions anymore and wanted to be free from them, but because no matter how hard or for how long she fought against the ridiculous societal conventions, she would still be looked down upon and would have never gotten to be with Robert. Her love for Robert still did not change the fact that she did not want to get married or have children again; she wanted an affair. If Edna waited a while more to die, the ending would be a mess. Instead of the lovely person she was, everyone would view her as a cheater or a demented and unpleasant woman, similar to how people view Mademoiselle Reisz. Her death leaves all the characters in suspense as to why she chose to do it. The sudden ending makes it clear that no one would understand how she felt. I think the main focus of this is that Edna was not trying to achieve freedom by finding herself; she was simply trying to feel happy during the process of achieving something, and society would not allow that.

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How to write a successful Paper 1?

Clearly, doing an excellent job in Paper 1 has not been easy. I am still working on achieving what everyone in this class wants, getting a good mark. To write about a text is easy, but to make a good quality analysis of it, is when it becomes a little bit more challenging.

I have learned that it is vital to read the texts calmly without nervousness or pressure. Afterward, pay attention to what the text makes you feel and what emotions arise while reading it. Later read again and start digging how the author achieved to produce those effects. When this step is achieved, it is essential to understand the guiding question and focus on answering it. While doing all this process, start writing an outline. In the end, the outline if used correctly, helps not to lose the focus from the research question.

I also learn that it is really easy to fall into a natural reader at some point. Personally, I think this is the most challenging for me as when I start writing about the content, I start restructuring the essay focusing on the content instead of the research question. Furthermore, for this reason, it is important to have a clear outline to guide on.

Another thing that I have learned is to start my paragraphs with an assertion and afterward give examples. Be concise and clear, and do not write more than is needed. Allways focusing on language, form and content, and everything that consequently leads from these respectively. For example, diction, imaginary, among others.

So, in conclusion, what I learned is that it is important to relax and concentrate. Paper 1 will not turn out well if you start the exam, putting pressure on yourself thinking you want it perfect. Or if you start writing down without reflecting and deeply analyzing what the research question is asking for, just because you want it to be over. The essay is likely not to be perfect. However, instead of focusing on perfection, focus on how long we have been learning to be analytical readers. The only thing we can do is trust ourselves and apply everything we have learned in the course.

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Several Thoughts on ‘Successful’ Literary Commentary and Analysis (Paper 1) -Kelvin M.

Having been through reoccurring paper-1 hell before and after the spring break, I have not yet gained the confidence to say that I am an experienced analytical reader or master in literary analysis. However, I will try to share my personal experiences with my fellow classmates experiencing that same hellscape so that they might not end up with a predicted grade of 4 like myself.

There are several obvious points to follow, such as to always stick and follow the guiding question and to always start with a clear thesis/assertion (both of which I personally fail to do at times), but I do have several points of my own understanding which may or may not be helpful to you all.

The first is to plan out your paragraph structure, which might seem obvious, but it means not only to list all the assertions, evidence, and analysis but their significance and order as well. This is mainly to avoid error 23, awkward expression, the error which I stumble on most. It is very common at times to notice when having made a brief plan before writing that you begin to lose track of which evidence and analysis would be most suitable to use. With these situations in mind, it is best to determine the significance of each quotable evidence from the text: where the most powerful and expressive quotes are directly quoted and some others can be more briefly mentioned or summarised instead of fully quoting. This can help reduce time loss when actually writing the paragraphs as well as making them more condensed and with value: what most examiners prefer over an overly complex and long analysis.

Next is to not think about whether you are right or not. This might sound like nonsense, but it does have some meaning. When analyzing art, poems and passages, in particular, can have many different interpretations depending on the reader. IB does not expect everyone to produce the same thoughts and results after reading a text, so instead of thinking and pondering whether you are correct about this analysis, focus on how you can use quotes and evidence to prove and explain how your version and interpretation came to be. In Chinese, there is a saying of ‘自圆其说’, which can be briefly translated to ‘justifying your own opinion’. Sometimes, after reading the guiding question and the passage, your first thought of an answer is often the most comfortable for you to write about personally, so run with it.

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Guilt, Descension, and Fate: Personal Reflection to Tess of the d’Urbervilles

Upon completing a complete readthrough of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, a heavy sense of emptiness and nihilistic depression hit me once again, similar to many other instances in which I reach the end of a great piece of literature or cinema. This is mainly because I try to remain mainly a natural reader during most of my first readthroughs. Though living in a completely different time and age, without much similarities in experience and gender, I connect, relate, and sympathize with Tess through her tragic experiences.

Throughout the whole book, the development of Tess’s character struck me most. At the very beginning, Hardy portrays her as the purest of maidens: her shyness during her first encounter with Angel, her sisterly love when facing Abraham, her guilt and remorse when accidentally killing the family horse, and her shame and depression having unwillingly lost her virginity to Alec. Hardy portrays these events and the depression they cause Tess, making her particularly endearing and sympathetic. However, some say that the most tragic is to destroy what is pure and beautiful, which is Tess’s exact experiences out of guilt and shame. I particularly noticed Tess’s acceptance of her guilt and shame, her gradual decsension from virginity and purity. Immediately after the incidents with Alec, Tess hides from her past on the farm and experiences the best time of her life with Angel and receiving support from her family regarding the child. Still, she cannot escape her tragic fate. She first kills the trapped birds, putting them out of her misery, her first acceptance of her guilt. This later escalates more and more and results in her first willing sin: her murder of Alec.

Tess’s final moment of peace is spent at Stonehenge with her love, Angel. This scene, to me, is the peak of the entire novel. I can almost visualize this scene as a masterpiece of western renaissance painting. I felt a heavy sense of symbolism and theme in this scene: the powerless nature of small humans against vast fate, gods, or the universe. This moment is the culmination of Tess’s story: Angel, beside her, signifying her pureness and love and the bloodstains on the skirt of her guilt and sin, resting under the unknown ruins of a lost world of gods and fate: Stonehenge. It brilliantly highlights the unjust of society, patriarchy, but most of all, Tess’s cruel fate: discovering her noble heritage only to fall even worse than a life of a peasant. It brings my thoughts back to the Odyssey, with a similar theme on unjust gods and fates. I almost regret not having read Tess earlier and having this as part of my oral presentation, but perhaps this, too, was a play of fate?

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How to write a succesful paper 1 commentary

If you are asked to write about a specific text, there is a certain structure that you can follow for your paper 1 commentary to be successful. The first thing to do is to focus on answering the guiding question given at the end of the text. This usually asks you to discuss characterizations that are given to the characters to highlight a certain theme or idea, or to focus on how the characters interact among each other. So, really focusing on how the characters behave, look, act, feel is a good thing to look at first. Then, focusing on diction is a key to a successful paper. By noticing how the author writes, the tone he uses, his choice of words, the imagery he creates, etc. you can tell right away the feelings he is trying to express and the questions that the author arises in the reader.

You can also comment on the theme of the text without having to paraphrase everything. It is easy to mix these two when commenting on what happens on the text. To avoid this, you can focus on the themes of the text, what the characters are doing, and what happens on the text that helps you answer the guiding question, and really digging deeper on the text to understand it and analyze it better.

For each assertion that you give you need to make sure to give evidence, so quotations can be helpful throughout your commentary. When explaining why something from the text is important to answer your question you have to say in which part of the text is located.

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A Successful Paper One Commentary

There are a couple of key points to focus on when starting to write a successful paper one commentary. First, start with the guiding question. Pay careful attention to how it is worded. Does it want you to analyze your feelings about the text and how the author achieves these feelings?

Next read the whole text and brainstorm some ideas. Write them down on a scrap piece of paper. This will help you stay on track with your writing. Put the ideas into an organized manner. Make sure to always refer back to the original question while writing your commentary.

If you write several paragraphs try to have one main idea from your brainstorming in each one. Keep one idea per sentence and always try to refer back to the guiding question.

I suggest reading the text once again, as every time you read it, you will notice more details which might just help you in the writing of your commentary. I tend to read really fast and skip over potentially important details. It is important for me to re-read the text and take time to think.

When analyzing, try to think beyond the words on the page and don’t just go by your first emotional response. Think of how the author uses diction to get those responses. Are they descriptive words? Are they short sentences? Are they long sentences? Sentence structure is a formal quality of writing.

It is important to back up all of your assertions with clear, specific quotations from the text. The quotations should flow smoothly and be woven into your commentary. They should not just be thrown in. Remember to do a proper citation of the quotation.

Questions are always general; answers need to be specific.

 

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Guide to a “successful” commentary.

There are no specific rules in writing a “successful” commentary, it all depends on what works best for your understanding and development. I’ve never had a fixed way of writing, often relies upon my state of mind and focusing on ideas rather than words. Although I’ve recently found a way that has been hugely effective. Planning out body paragraphs in bullet point forms to briefly state the ideas gives much more clarity in the actual wordings of sentences. There’s really not much to speak on my behalf as I’ve not mastered the art of professional commenting, though the best and only thing there is to do in order to improve is to practice, practice, and more practice.

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Tess of the D’urvervilles PR Eloise

Reading Tess of the D’urbervilles, I found I was reading as a natural reader. I felt worried for Tess as well as a strong love for her as I was connecting the older sibling attitude with my brothers. However it wasn’t until doing the practice paper 1 that I noticed why and how it made me feel like that. Hardy uses a lot of dialogue and narration to emphasize that Tess is doing everything she can for her family and her younger siblings.

When the family horse dies, Tess goes off to work for the family  as she is the oldest child and her father is off bloating about his new found “fame”. Even though Tess does not want to go work for her cousin Alec she does because she feels guilty that she was with the horse when it died. “Well I killed the horse mother… I suppose I ought to do something” (42).  She goes to the D’Urberville house to ask for help and later is offered a job from “Mrs. D’Urberville’. At this point I felt bad for Tess because she was not taught, like most young women are now a days, to be wary when odd situations such as this arise. The note from Mrs. D’Urberville was written in masculine hand writing, an Mrs. D’Urberville is blind and could not have written it. Tess is smart enough to realize that something was off, yet driven by guilt and love for her family she throws herself into this position anyways. I’m not saying Tess is at fault for her rape, however I do thing she and her parents should have noticed and acted on Alec’s strange nature. I believe it was partially the time period they were in that made it hard for Tess to do anything about it, but as a parent, it should be your responsibility to take care of your children.

After Tess was raped and she returned home from the D’Urberville house, Tess was pregnant.  At this point my opinion changed a little bit on the family. Becoming pregnant before marriage is a sin for young women and most of the village shunned the family. However the parents stood by their daughter even through the shame. I still do not feel like they did everything they could for Tess, to prevent it from happening or to help her afterwards, but that little glimmer of hope made me not hate them completely.

What shocked me the most is Tess’ resilience. After everything she has gone through, she doesn’t let the guilt, shame, or sorrow tear her down. She goes back to work at a new farm, and continues through all the pain. This  self torture continued through most of the book, Tess avoided love that was offered to her by Clare, and other friends she had at the farm. She had not let go of what she let happen to her and deemed herself unfit or unworthy for anything. Until one night when she stumbled across dying birds

Under the trees several pheasants lay about, their rich plumage dabbled with blood; some were dead, some feebly twitching a wing, some staring up at the sky, some pulsating quickly, some contorted, some stretched out—all of them writhing in agony except the fortunate ones whose tortures had ended during the night by the inability of nature to bear more. With the impulse of a soul who could feel for kindred sufferers as much as for herself, Tess’s first thought was to put the still living birds out of their torture, and to this end with her own hands she broke the necks of as many as she could find, leaving them to lie where she had found them till the gamekeepers should come, as they probably would come, to look for them a second time. “Poor darlings—to suppose myself the most miserable being on earth in the sight o’ such misery as yours!” she exclaimed, her tears running down as she killed the birds tenderly.

This scene is a turning point for Tess, putting the birds out of their misery is like ending her own suffering. She realizes her own strength and worth. Tess is finally able to put her past behind her and momentarily be free from the sorrow that Alec has caused her. Tess killing Alec was in my opinion a very powerful move on her part. She proved to herself that she was strong and able to find justice for the pain she had gone through. However it was not a smart play as it was the thing that ended her life. A lot of people were saddened by the execution of Tess at the end of the book, but like the birds, Tess had been suffering. She was finally relieved of the pain, and was able to find some power before she died.

 

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Pygmalion: On Events Creating an Opposite Meaning than is to be Expected

In Pygmalion, what strikes me most is how the events of the play create an opposite ending than what would be expected. Professor Higgins constantly shows a lack of respect towards Elisa Doolittle, therefore giving the notion that by the end of the play, Doolittle would leave Higgins. However, how Doolittle reacts to Higgins at the end of the play is opposite to that, showing that instead the improper behaviour Higgins shows was actually liked by Doolittle.

When talking to Doolittle, Higgins says that she wold be better off living a rougher life and to leave him, “Can’t stand the coldness of my life and the strain, go back to the gutter! […] You find me cold, unfeeling, selfish, don’t you? Marry some sentimental hog…” (1938). Higgins is insensitive when talking to Doolittle, and uses rude language to push his point. He rudely points out to Doolittle that he rescued her from her tough life in the “gutter”. He shows a lack of care and compassion, which would make Doolittle want to leave him.

Higgins has empathy, yet shows it only when he must, and otherwise chooses to follow ethical goals in a rude way. Higgins’ long-term goal is to help Doolittle become confident and independent, and to do so treats her poorly, often getting angry at her. “Take one step…I’ll wring your neck! […] Eliza, I said I’d make a woman of you, and I have. I like you like this” (1938). In reality, Higgins likes Doolittle and wants her around. He acts roughly, for that is how he prefers to talk, and he wanted Elisa to be able to put up with that, and for her to return it too.

Bernard Shaw brings up the question of why Doolittle and Higgins end up liking each other through juxtaposing behaviour with intention and outcome. Shaw does this by characterizing Higgins as a perpetually disrespectful and incosiderate person, and Doolittle as a sensitive person. However, the true intentions of Higgins become clear to Doolittle, and she realizes that he is a person who cares for her. Therefore, by Higgins acting roughly, he meant to toughen her up, not to hurt her.

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A successful paper 1 commentary-Carmelo

The art of constructing a successful paper 1 commentary exam is not only in conveying your point, but doing so in a logical and clear manner. As the point of a successful paper 1 commentary is to expalin how the techniques used by the author convey a specific message or emotion to the readers, it is critical to be able to provide evidence for each of your assertions. A direct quote from the text followed by an expalnation of the significance it has.

  1. Present a relevant quote that supports the point.

2. Analyze the quote.

3. Repeat for 2, 3 or 4 quotes that prove your point.

You should not dedicate a paragraph or main point to an idea with only one possible source of evidence. However, if you can try and find a differnt topic that can fit your claim, such as a characterization of a specific character through emotions, versus a single emotion to show a charcter.

*just an example if you were trying to discuss how the charactization of a character was shown through the passage.

The purpose of using quotes in your commentary is that it claims that the writer achieves a core purpose. The following part of the essay is dedicated to proving this fact. When you analyze, what you’re doing is explaining how specific examples of language achieve that core purpose, and so quoting and explaining the significance of the quote proves the central point that the writer was able to convey for you.

When writing a timed commentary, time management is another factor that will set you apart from one or two points. Being able to convey your point without going on and on will save a lot of time to be able to go back and edit your work.

One way to achive effective time efficiency is to create a detailed overview of what you are going to write. Start by planning the main points that you want to make, and put the line numbers of the quotes you plan on using.

After you have chosen your main assertions and quotes, come up with a cneteral assertion for each point that fits with the guiding question(s) provided.

If you are able to do that, you will have a very strong plan for the rest of your essay and all you have to do now is write it.

Key points to remember when writing

  1. The paper 1 commenatry is not a summary of the text. This is where you show your analytical skills by showing the techniiques used by the author and how they convey a specific message, feeling, or emotion.
  2. The purpose of the commentary is to discuss why? the author used such techniques, words, etc. How do the literary devices work as a whole to convery the feeling you got when you first read the book.
  3. Read the passage through before looking at the guiding questions and make notes on what emotions or ideas rise from your first glance. After reading through, look at the guiding question and try and find details that fit with that.
  4. Remember not to limit yourself to the guiding question. It is there as the name says, to guide you. As one of my teachers once said, “the guiding question is like the cake, everything else around it is like the frosting, you can’t have a cake with just frosting, but it can make the cake better”
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Paper 1 commentary

For me, the most important thing is to understand the passage or poem, like what is this passage or poem about, what is going on here.

Then I should focus on the guiding question, try to answer it. I should summarize at least two assertions towards this guiding question, and find evidences from the passage/poem to support that assertion. Each paragraph should begin with a specific assertion. In the process of writing, I need to keep everything simple, to write simple sentences which make examiners understand.

I need to think about some questions while I am writing: what the passage/poem wants me to know, what it makes me think about/feel, and how the author makes me think those thoughts and feel those feelings. I also need to think about some literary techniques such as diction, imagery, narrations and use those to analyze.

Introduction should have thesis statement and I should write this part at the end. And I can write some new things in the conclusion.

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How to write for dummies

Although I struggle to write and I can’t manage to get past a 3 or a 3+ at best, here are some tips that help me stay consistent with my pathetic analytical skills.

The first thing you should do even before reading the text is to read your guiding question.  Directly after doing so you can start to read and underline things that look relevant.

Diction: The choice of words is your best friend, you can never go wrong with it. Based on your guiding question, try to describe how the words are used to direct your thoughts into whatever the author wants you to think. Also, what questions does the text raise? Different words can make you experience different feelings. Why do those words do so? Does the text arise any existential questions such as: “Where do we come from?”, “What is the meaning of life?”? If so, say it because it will make you look cool and talented.

Setting/Imagery/Sound: How do these reinforce the message that the author is trying to give? The setting may be a nice field with some flowers here and there and also you can hear some birds chirp. How does this make you feel? Does it fit the plot? How does this atmosphere contribute to the diction to give a specific message?

Structure: The structure tends to have a great impact on the mood/tone of the text. In poems, look at the verse length and the size of stanzas to determine if it follows any meter. If it doesn’t it probably is a free verse, good luck. Does it have any rhymes? Do they make the poem sound any happier or even like a song? If it does, say it, and how do those rhymes make you feel? Rhymes can also be used to emphasize certain words that are important for the general meaning of the text, so pay attention. If it is prose, is it ordered chronologically? What is the order of events and why is it important?

Most importantly, it is very likely that you will be told that you will be analyzing a poem, so be careful. If it does not look nor sound like a poem, it is not a poem.

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Reflection on what I have learned from writing commentaries- Angelina

The most important thing I have learned is to really break down what the guiding question is wanting. To see the difference between the narrators actions and how the writer makes us feel about those actions. A common question is to talk about how I am affected by how the writer uses dialogue or the plot. Before doing lots of practice, I would focus on what the narrator is saying, but that is not what the guiding question wants.

Another important thing is that the commentary should be written correctly. With an indent at the beginning of each paragraph, always in the present tense and everything I write is in my opinion so I shouldn’t say “I think“ I also learned that “each other“ is two words, not one. Something very important is that each paragraph should have meaning. I should begin each paragraph with a specific assertion and stick with that for the paragraph while providing evidence for my assertion.

I might not be able to pick out every detail on what I have learned on how to write a successful commentary, but of course doing it lots will just help me overall feel more confident and get used to looking at how the writer portrays certain things, vs the narrator.

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How to write a commentary (Paper 1)

The first thing to writing a commentary is to consider the question, and actually answer it.  To do so, you need a specific assertion about the question. If the question says “how did Jennifer do this…” your answer should start with “Jennifer did this by using diction” or something along those lines.  The rest of the commentary should also talk about how Jennifer does that rather than straying off towards talking about the characters and rephrasing the passage.

 

Planning your writing is an important step to any assignment. Take time at the beginning to brainstorm all your ideas. Find the most important things that are recurring or add the most value to the passage. Next group them together to find out how you want to organize your essay. The two best strategies I like to use are each body paragraph is a literary device and the evidence is the effects it creates. The second way is looking at effects and emotions for the topic of the paragraph and the evidence is the literary devices that create those emotions.

 

Each paragraph should start with a specific assertion or claim and be followed by evidence to support the claim. You should analyze what you’re looking at and the effect it has. A good way to notice the effect of something is to imagine what it would be like if it was not in the text. How would the passage change without that detail or that literary form.

 

Quotations! A mistake to stay away from is putting in quotations that don’t add value to the commentary. To add value, it must prove what you are saying, must be well set up before, as well as explained afterwards. Not setting up the quotation can lead to it being an awkward expression.

 

At the end of writing the commentary, you must leave time to edit your work. Check for spelling and punctuation errors. Make sure your work stayed on topic and add in anything you may have missed.

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Personal Response- Will R

Tess of the d’Urbervilles made me feel a sense of hopelessness throughout the novel.  At the beginning she is portrayed as a pure, innocent, beautiful girl but her life slowly turns into a tragedy.  She starts in a rough situation because her family is very poor but they are happy and they have each other. I felt a bit of hope for her when Tess’ father discovered that they may be related to the d’Urbervilles, a very wealthy family. When they sent Tess to the d’Urberville mansion, hoping that she will make a fortune, she is given a job by Mrs. d’Urbervilles’ son, Alec, tending chickens and Mrs. d’Urbervilles birds. I felt pity for Tess when this happened, because she blames herself for the family horses’ death and feels she has to accept the job. The horse was the family’s only source of income, so she felt she had to make up for it by getting a job she did not want, to make money so they could survive. I can empathize with Tess in this situation, because although I have never been in this specific scenario, I have had to get many jobs that I did not enjoy, at different grocery stores and businesses. It wasn’t a very good situation and the manager did not know what they were doing, but I had to work there because I needed money. It was nowhere near the level of stress that Tess had to deal with, what with Alec trying to make advances towards her constantly, but it was something I could relate to. Many people today still have the issue of having to work at businesses that are not run well or properly, and having to work in terrible conditions.

Tess of the d’Urbervilles, though it was written in the 19th century, has many issues and themes that are relevant in today’s world. The main theme that is still relevant today, and has been present throughout history, is men being dominant over women. There are many examples of men being dominant over women. Even men where I live, Salt Spring, which I thought never had things like this happen, have been accused of sexual assault by women. Often, they are not charged with what they did, even if there is significant evidence. It is usually because they have a reputation of being good people, who help out in the community, and people don’t like to believe that they would do something like that. There have even been wealthy people who tried to hush up what they did, so that their reputation would not be ruined. I always thought that those kinds of things only happened in Hollywood and Los Angeles and places with many celebrities, but it shows that terrible things can happen in your own back yard and you may not even realize. Many men use the fact that they are men to exert power over women, and try to discredit them by smearing their reputation or saying they are just trying to reputation, if a woman ever says anything negative about them. This is pretty much exactly what Alec does. He sexually assaults Tess, and although he says is bad for seducing her and taking advantage of her, he doesn’t exactly seem sorry that he did it.

I have experienced some of the things that Tess has, or know people who have, so it makes it much easier to relate to how she is feeling in specific situation.

 

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How To Write A Successful Commentary

After writing multiple practice paper 1 commentaries, I can say that I have learned 3 main tactics to writing a successful paper. Be specific, the guiding question is there to help you so you should use it to your own advantage, and lastly, don’t use irrelevant information to the guiding question.

Being specific in your responses is what I find to be most important. Using specific assertions rather than general statements about the text can enhance your writing to an analytical level, which is theoretically where you want to be. If for example you said, “he gets along with his mother” with no evidence, than your statement has no meaning. If you said, “He gets along with his mother because on page 34 he brings her flowers” and you give specific examples of evidence, you will have a much higher chance of writing a successful commentary about the text.

The guiding question(s) are quite clearly there to guide you in your writing, so I suggest using that to your advantage. I have made the mistake multiple times before where I avoided the command term of the question completely and my entire commentary was unrelated to what I was supposed to be writing about. From my experience, that does not get you anywhere. At the beginning of the guising question there will be a command term (ex. how, describe, etc.) and by answering these specifically, you can already have a strong start to your commentary. For example, if the question starts with “How does…” than your answer should start with “They do this by…”. I personally find it hard to start a commentary, so this tip I have found very helpful.

Lastly, try not to trail off too much in your writing. Adding too much extra information is unnecessary and takes away from the important things you should be writing about. Using a small amount of extra information to enhance your answer is perfectly fine but when you add too much, it becomes irrelevant. This is especially important to note when you have a specific guiding question because you should only be answering the question specifically without anything extra. I do this far too often so in all honesty I am not entirely sure how to not trail off in my own writing. In conclusion, my best guess to solving this issue is to try to stay on topic as much as you can and to only write about relevant information to the guiding question.

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What I’ve learnt about writing a paper 1 commentary

The most important and most helpful guide for writing a paper one response to me is to make a good plan/structure/outline for the response. There should always be explicit, impressionable assertions as paragraph openers, supported by the evidence you found in the text. A paragraph should always stay related to its assertion. With good assertions, you can summarize all your points into an introductory paragraph, and then use the points you’ve gathered, write anything you can find about the assertion point you’ve made.

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Personal Response to Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Josefa

While reading the novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy I immediately recognized the male dominance presented in the book with different male characters towards Tess. In this text I will explain what I think on “How does Tess’s story contribute to this conversation about the rights of women, and their mistreatment by the men in their lives? “.

 

I think that the first man to treat Tess wrong is his father, John Durbeyfield. In this book Men are the ruling gender; they are the ones that are capable of earning an income and supporting themselves and their family. When the family horse dies and the family start lacking money, Tess family sends her to “claim kin” to their relatives the D’Urbervilles even if she does not want to go. I think this shows the male dominance on this period of time. Tess was not able to make her own decision because she felt she had to because she killed the horse. “Well, as I killed the horse, mother… I suppose I ought to do something.” (Hardy, 42) This is the first time a man treats Tess as an object in the book, and it is someone from her family, as well as her mother also has the ideal that this is the way of treating her daughter, this shows the way everybody, men and woman, thought so poorly about women during that time period.

 

When Alec D’Urberville appears, it is obvious that he wants Tess to be submissive to him, even if she doesn’t want to. The most important part of this assertion is when Alec rapes Tess when she is asleep. Even Tess’s mother tells her it is her fault that the assault happened and not his, Tess is forced to feel guilty about the situation even if Alec was the one that had to be held accountable. Male dominance is also seen when Tess has her baby, and she is expected to take care of the child on her own when Alec is out of the picture. Because of this she becomes a “social outcast” because seeing a woman with a child and not being married was socially unacceptable in that time period.

 

Later on, when Angel appears in the novel and he and Tess are about to get married they both declare their past with different partners, when Angel says he was with another woman nothing happened but when Tess explains to him what happened with Alec in the past, Angel says that it is unforgivable “forgiveness does not apply to the case. You were one person: now you are another” (Hardy 248) even if both situations have similarities, both of them were with someone else before being together, when Angel tells Tess she forgives him but when he does not forgive her Tess accepts her mistake without questioning him.

 

These are just a few examples of the gender injustice that happens in the book all along concerning Tess, in that time period women were supposed to expect men to do everything concerning money and stability, as well as men having control over women’s actions and decisions. I think Tess suffered many injustices that back then were something that was acceptable but now is not anymore. I think this book is a great way of making people understand what women are supposed to face in a patriarchal society every day.

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Shame shame shame-Tess of the D’Urbervilles

After finishing Tess of the D’Urbervilles, I feel let down after the book ends on Tess’s execution. Through the book, I was able to relate to Tess and sympathised for her and the situation she was placed in. At the start of the book, we see Tess as a young and bright girl. However, her father is always drinking and going to the pub, and Tess has to act much older to support her family, later in the book when Tess crashed the wagon and kills their horse, Tess feels that it’s her respondability to help her family and takes the job offered from Alec D’Urberville. There working for the D’Urbervilles, Alec rapes Tess and impregnates her with his child. Shortly after Tess gives birth to her child, the baby dies.

The interesting thing about the book is the reoccurring idea of shame. When Tess’s mother hears from her husband that they have a very rich family member, she urges Tess to “claim kin. Later, Tess’s father doesn’t go take the honey out, and Tess knowing that it’s crucial for her familys income, takes her younger brother with her and sets off to deliver the honey on their horse drawn carriage. Tess then falls asleep crashing the horse, and we see from the quote “Nobody blmaed Tess as she did” that Tess feels responsible and therefore agrees to go to the D’Urberville residence to work.

At the residence, Alec, Tess’s supposive cousin, rapes her in her sleep, stealing the innocence from her. When Tess returns home after working at the D’Urberville residence asks her mother Why didn’t you tell me there was danger in men folk? Why didn’t you warn me? This broke my heart because it was a reminder of how much of an innocent girl she was, and how the shame she brought on herself caused her so much suffering. Tess has gotten pregnant with Alec’s baby and when she has the opportunity to give him a cristian name, she calls the baby “sorrow”. I think it is evident that Hardy meant for the baby’s name to carry more than just a word, as the word sorrow in the bible means “deep distress, sadness, or regret especially for the loss of someone or something loved”(W. Marrien), and the baby then dying at a mere 2 months old.

Tess later on meets Angel, the boy that she saw when she was dancing in the fields and fell in love with. The couple then goes on to get married, and on their wedding night, Tess tells Angel about her experience with Alec, and regardless that it was not Tess’s fault, Angel decides that he cannot accept that now, and leaves Tess alone and goes away.

The rest of the book then becomes a landside, with Tess stabbing Alec when they meet again later, finally ending with Tess’s execution. The question of fate is inevitable, was this what was supposed to happen? If Tess hadn’t crashed the horse would she have never got led down the terrible path? Or if she had not blamed herself, and out of shame, gone at such a young age to Alec D’Urbervilles residence?

 

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sorrow

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Personal Response to Pygmalion

Pygmalion is a modern retelling of a classic story by George Bernard Shaw. His protagonists struggle for freedom and justice for women, and his plot points are anti-classist. George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion deconstructs and re-contextualizes the original Greek myth of creating the ideal figure, placing it in the social and political context of 19th century England. Eliza’s transformation represents Pygmalion sculpting Galatea out of ivory, and Shaw’s commentary is already present in this action. Mr. Higgins proposes this project as a gamble, with no clear hope of carrying it forward. When Eliza arrives at his house the following day, he only accepts the job if money is guaranteed. Mr. Higgins’ knowledge of phonetics replaces Pygmalion’s sculpting capacity, and Mr. Higgins ostensibly triggers a transition in Eliza as a result of this knowledge. Eliza’s transformation, on the other hand, is very different from Galatea’s sculpting.

Pygmalion alone is responsible for the development of Galatea. From the ivory block, she emerges completely developed. Eliza’s transition is dynamic and multilayered, in contrast to her simplistic conception. She must not only adjust the way she talks, but also the way she appears and dresses. Of course, Mr. Higgins is too busy to help Eliza with her bathing and dressing, but he does share his understanding of grammar with her. Also, Eliza’s abrupt shift in voice isn’t completely down to Mr. Higgins’ work, as a careful reading can reveal. Eliza is transformed by her own experience and dedication, as well as Mr. Higgins’ knowledge and instruction. Another contrast in the development is that, while Eliza appears and sounds noble, she does not speak as one. Her vocabulary is always a little rough, and the subjects she addresses are a little inappropriate. Her transformation is warped, and she never completely comprehends the beauty represented in Carlos Parada’s story. Eliza’s dismissal of Mr. Higgins leads to society’s current feminist understanding of women. Of course, this plot point differs dramatically from that of this novel, in which Pygmalion and Galatea fall in love and have a child together. Mr. Higgins is dismissed by Eliza because of the various ways he mistreated her in the play. The scenes after the ball, where Eliza passes for a lady of the upper class, have a significant influence on Eliza’s character. Eliza is anxious about the future. She no longer knows where she belongs and wants more, and she is terrified of losing everything she has achieved as a result of her transition. Mr. Higgins dismisses her fears, believing that her issues will be fixed by marriage. Eliza leaves a life with Mr. Higgins in the play’s final scene because of his inability to regard her with kindness or dignity. This is a simple feminist understanding of Carlos Parada’s “happily ever after” story.

Why does Galatea think for Pygmalion and want to be with him? Since it was not the point of the play, this issue is unlikely to have occurred to the ancient Greeks. The modern reader, on the other hand, may wonder who Galatea wishes to be and whether Pygmalion is a good fit for her. In his novel, Shaw attempts to answer these questions. Pygmalion, he concludes, does not genuinely love Galatea; rather, he loves himself, his work, and his abilities, and thus is undeserving of Galatea’s love. How could a man who hated womankind to the point of inventing his own love be able to love even that woman? And then there’s the matter of how any woman might be doomed to the destiny of living with a man who despises women? He can’t love her, and no woman should be treated this way. Eliza’s abandoning of Mr. Higgins concludes the deconstruction, claiming that Galatea’s character is an impossibility; since every woman has power over her fate, she must leave the man who will only destroy her life.

Carlos Parada’s plot is totally reframed in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. He employs a modern setting of 19th century England to critique the notion of making the ideal woman, putting it under the scrutiny of feminist criticism. He analyzes the various interpretations and consequences of each plot point as he deconstructs it. He deconstructs the narrative and then reassembles it using critical feminist philosophy as a guide. Pygmalion examines a text that only embraces the dominant male view on certain issues in order to answer questions of male-female relationships and the female right to choose.

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Personal Response to Tess d’Urberville

As I began reading Tess of The d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy, I started to recognize Hardy’s use of narrator’s descriptions to emphasize the characterization of Tess throughout the book. Some elements of Tess’s emotional trauma were missed due to the lack of understanding coming from the male author. I will be referring to deeper, potentially disturbing topics in this personal response, so I would like to take this time to give you a warning prior to reading. The element of distinct characterization would most often appeal to the analytical reader rather than a natural reader.

The characterization of Tess reminds me of myself at times. She is a young girl, close to me in age, who is forced to grow up too quickly, similar to my own personal experience as a child of divorce. However, for Tess, this leads to her downfall. For example, when her parents encounter harsh financial struggles, they decide on behalf of Tess that she needs to go and marry a rich man to help the family,

I heard ’em talking about it up at Rolliver’s when I went to find father. There’s a rich lady of our family out at Trantridge, and mother said if you claimed kin with the lady, she’d put ‘ee in the way of marrying a gentleman (p.36).

This may give the impression that Tess is being forced into marrying a man that she has no interest in. Of course (thankfully) this is not the side of Tess that I relate to, but being forced into marriage at a young age like 16 will later be the cause of not only her emotional trauma, but overall, her downfall. Furthermore, Tess and I share many other similarities. For example, we are around the same age range and we are both white, able-bodied girls. As much as I am able to see bits of myself in Tess, not everyone will feel the same. By characterizing the protagonist as a Eurocentric beauty standard it raises the issue of how underrepresented many ethnicities are in novels like these. Furthermore, girls like Tess who have been undermined by men in a position of power like Alec d’Urberville, may not be comfortable reading about the graphic details of her sexual assault. This is where I began to notice Hardy’s male “blind spots.” Eighty-two percent of girls under the age of 18 have experienced sexual assault.^1 This is not a “new” issue, so there is no excuse for Hardy to not have educated himself on the issue before writing a book about the topic itself.

Reading stories like this bring up a lot of emotions for me. As a natural reader, Hardy’s descriptive language and excessive use of adjectives draws the reader in and paints a vivid picture of events in the story. Hardy, as a white male, writes from his limited perspective of what it would be like to be a 16 year old girl who is subjected to sexual violence. Additionally, Hardy would not personally know what it feels like as a teenage girl to be the topic of discussion in the family, and to be your family’s perceived only hope for economic salvation through marriage. Hardy’s blind spots as a white male writer are evident to me as a teenage girl reading his writing.

  1. https://canadianwomen.org/the-facts/sexual-assault-harassment/
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Tess of the D’Urbervilles Personal Response

Handy’s novel introduces the reader to a world that no longer exists. Moreover, The way he implements description on the small details makes the reader feel is standing in the same place as the characters. However, that is not the fascinating thing about this novel. By the way Handy decides to implement language, form, and content, the book drives the reader through Tess’s story. But not just Tess’s story; it also introduces the readers to the history and society’s ideologies of that time, which raise diverse emotions, thoughts, and questions. However, Handy also makes references to philosophical reflections, which make the reader raise questions without answers, such as; why am I here, is this a blight or sound world, and what is its purpose?

The characters’ diction plays an essential role in the novel as it reveals characteristics about them and their tone, meaning their attitude towards a subject. For example, Tess and her mother do not have a developed grammar either vocabulary, making it hard to understand them sometimes. Tess’s mother uses expressions such as ‘ee-truth to tell” (p.52), Tess uses expressions as ‘Twas’ (p.81). Another example is Car, who says, “How darts th’ laugh at me, hussy! (p.76). These represent they are in a lower economic position; this is just one example of how Hardy decided to implement the language, as he also implements poetic language to describe situations, among others.

Furthermore, the novel’s structure is build up by the narrator describing the small details and putting asterisks after some sentences that lead to explanatory notes. The dialogues are constantly interrupted by descriptions of how the characters behave, which produces a sensation of the reader being present at the moment. For example, when they are talking about Mr. Durveyfield’s illness, “As soon as it does meet, so’ -Mr. Durveyfield closed her fingers into a circle complete- “‘off you will go like a sadder….” (p.28). Another example of how Hardy implements description is how Hardy describes every detail that is happening: “Their eyes were riveted on it. A few minutes after the hour had struck, something moved slowly up the staff and extended itself upon the breeze. It was a black flag.” (p.420).

About the content, Tess Durbeyfield started the novel as a young, innocent woman with a big heart that cared about her family and was comfortable with her economic situation. However, she killed the family horse, which made her feel guilty. Therefore her mother took advantage to send her looking for the luxurious life she dreamed about. Tess said, “It is for you to decide. I killed the old horse, and I suppose I ought to do something to get a new one” (p.53)”. This decision changed Tess’s life completely. Tess’s life ended having a tragic final, however, it was not her fault; it was the fault of all the people that surrounded her over the years. For example, her parents were people who care a lot about money and power. Alec seemed like a gentleman at first, but in the end, he is a manipulator that wants to buy Tess with money. Angel is a man who left her alone, and he is a hypocrite. In the end, she is built up by the incidents that happen in her life. The people around her were the ones that cause her tragic destiny.

Moreover, this novel let me thinking about diverse questions. To what extent the people that surround us every day have an impact on the decisions we make? Why do we meet these people? Is it destiny, is everything written, or can we one hundred percent with our lives without others’ influences? However, that is hard because I think our way of thinking is built up by the experiences and influences of the people we meet in our lives. I liked this novel a lot as it made me reflect and realize many things, as more than just reading Tess’s story, this literature work makes the reader view life from a different perspective.

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Pygmalion Reflection

Pygmalion by George Bernard is a play where we can see differences in levels of wealth and how looks and impressions impact our social status. Eliza in this play experiences firsthand how all it takes to become upper class is to change her voice and clothes, she attempts to lose her natural accent and general mannerisms, in hopes to attend the Embassy ball. Higgins sees this as being an experiment and does not even seem to see Eliza as a person and instead of a test subject. He does not attempt at all to learn about who Eliza is, and instead just immediately starts trying to fix her vocabulary and the sound of her voice.

Language is the main focus it seems when it came to Higgins transforming Eliza from a “Flower Girl” to what he thought a woman should look and be heard as. Judging someone by the way they use their language is still relevant in today’s society, people will assume your intelligence and views on subjects immediately, even sometimes from only hearing the tone of your voice and not even your usage of the language that you speak. We see this in the movie when Eliza is at the Embassy Ball and she speaks to a man who seems to be an expert of the English language, he tells his friends after speaking with Eliza that she is not speaking pure English, he thinks it is too good to be true and proceeds to call her a fake. The play shows us this judgment of class through language at the Embassy Ball, which is a very high-class event and people are judged incredibly hard. If the movie were put in the setting of say a high school, you would find them similar. We don’t look at how people really are and judge the surface looks and sound rather what’s actually under the surface just as Higgin’s did with Eliza though he was too much more of an extent.

Language is a massive part of how we see people, add a few intelligent words to your vocabulary and you will sound much more intelligent sometimes even a different person. When I look at Eliza it made me realize how little the barrier can be between upper-class and lower-class people in looks and sound. The lower class may have less money compared to the upper class but could fit in just great if they spoke a little different and dressed in a suit or dress every day, then you wouldn’t be able to tell whatsoever who is lower and who is upper class. Just because someone speaks differently than what you are used to does not mean that they are incapable of anything you can do.

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Does Tess of the D’Urbervilles Make me a More Analytical Reader?

Upon first reading the novel Tess of the D’Urbervilles, the imagery appeals to the natural reader. “The pair of legs that carried him were rickety and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line” [1]. This vivid description could have been simply written as “he was drunk and staggered home”. Hardy’s creative writing makes a much bigger impression. At this point in the story I am still thinking of John Durbeyfield as a lower class drunk.

Thomas uses a subtle way to show development of independence in Tess. At the beginning of the story she sees a reaping machine sitting by a field. “They with two others below, formed the revolving Maltese cross at the reaping machine, which had been brought to the field on the  previous evening, to be ready for operations this day” [99]. I did not think much of this at first. Later in the story when her husband leaves her for half of a year, Tess needs to make money. She gets herself a job on the reaping machine with the men. “She still stood at her post her flushed and perspiring face coated with the corn-dust, and her white bonnet embrowned with it….she hardly knew where she was, and did not hear Izz Huett tell her from below that her hair was tumbling down” [353-354]. Tess hates this job but is forced to do it out of necessity. When I read that Tess was working on the reaping machine, I immediately made the connection between the beginning and the end of the book. I thought about how getting onto this huge harvesting machine showed character development in Tess. At the beginning of the novel, Tess is a young girl, and when she is forced to work she is a married woman. At this point I am not as much of a natural reader anymore.

Reading on, I began to notice Hardy interrupting his storyline with reflections on our place in the universe. “The appetite for joy which pervades all creation; that tremendous force which sways humanity, as the tide sways the helpless weed, was not to be controlled by vague lucubrations over the social rubric” [208]. Becoming more of an analytic reader I notice that these interjections make me pause from the story. They are a bit distracting and cause me to rethink the storyline when it returns. In a strange way they actually add to the story. They make the reader think about where we belong in the universe. They help us connect on a more personal level with Tess as she decides with whom she should be.

Sometimes I had to read further to understand the event which was written in an obscure way. “Why it was that upon this beautiful tissue, sensitive as gossamer, and practically as blank as snow as yet, there should have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to receive;…and it therefore does not mend the matter” [82]. This refers to the time when Tess was raped by Alec. It is certainly not written in an easily understandable way. It slowed down my reading and I had to think about the meaning behind the words.

There is always something happening to Tess. Either she is finding supposed relatives, working, or supporting her family, and all the while dealing with Alec D’Urberville and Angel Clare. The storyline inspired me to want to keep reading. At the beginning of this novel, I enjoyed the vivid imagery simply letting myself imagine the characters and their lives. The way it was written with philosophical thoughts between the storyline made me read it with more consideration.

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Personal Response to Pygmalion

I really enjoyed this movie, it kept me captivated for a lot of it. Unfortunately I slept during some parts but obviously they weren’t that important because I still understood the story. The topics I will talk about is “Language as a badge, emblem, or marker of social class”, “Comedy as a way to criticize society and motivate social change”, “The connections between language and education”, and “Is society today anything like the society we see in Pygmalion?”

Language as a badge, emblem, or marker of social class in Pygmalion is very prominent we can see during the high class party where she is passed off as a duchess, with her new posh accent, she is seen as a duchess than her normal flower girl with her previous accent. Without this new accent she would be seen in a much different light than she was normally. If she had all the clothes, makeup, and look she would still be seen in a different light if she had her original accent, she may be thought as a thief if she had her original accent with all these fancy clothing/look, and probably the opposite if she had a posh accent with poor clothes saying like someone took it. Another example of Language being used in this sense would be Higgins over all thought to him, during parts of the movie I really thought he had somewhat of an ego, and I think this is due to his studies which is Phonetics.

The connections between language and education is very strong in this film, usually the posher the accent the higher the education, and vice versa (the type of accent Ms.Doolittle has) would be assumed to have a lower education or no education.

Comedy as a way to criticize society and motivate social change, I feel as though it is good to have Comedy criticize anything in general and motivate social change. The usually connotation with social change could possibly be more serious and maybe only appeal to older people, if you put it in comedy it can be seen by more people in a different light which may cause others to feel more inclined to motivate social change. People shouldn’t exactly need things to be in a different light to be able to support it, but it helps.

Is society today like anything the society we see in Pygmalion?              I feel as though there is many aspects that are similar like education and  . Education is very similar today, because if you have no education you aren’t seen as poor necessarily, but that is usually the connotation and if anything having a lot of education can make you poor/in debt because of student loans.

Overall I find the movie to be very enjoyable with plenty light-hearted, serious, and sometimes comedic scenes.

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Personal Response: Pygmalion

While watching Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, I realized how deeply ingrained the idea of male chauvinism and glow up culture is present in our society. My first impression about Eliza Doolittle is that she is just trying to get a better life for herself by undergoing an extreme transformation. Doolittle is handcrafted into Higgins prefect little creature, to the point where he thinks no one else but him should “have” her. 

The idea of “male chauvinism” and “glow-up” culture disturbs me. In the media, we see this trope of glowing up: a way of expressing one’s growth through a drastic change in appearance, usually making the character more visually acceptable to societal beauty standards. These young women in the media go through a vast transformation in popular movies and TV shows, such as Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries, She’s All That, and many more.

Why is there such a big presence of glow ups in the media? Why do we enjoy a typical makeover? We see these makeovers in coming of age or romantic movies. No surprise but these makeovers are toxic towards women. The women in these films are physically changing to fit society’s ideal beauty standards of that time. This discriminates against a vast majority of young girls and women. But it also says that if you want to change to become a “better person” or experience some sort of growth, you’ll have to change your appearance to fit this ideal beauty. Not only is changing your looks to fit this ideal problematic but it is also with the help of a man. The men in these movies are shown as “trying” to help their romantic interest by making their conquests more socially acceptable. Like in Pygmalion, Higgins buys and teaches Doolittle everything, to the point of her not having a say of what she wants to be. In all of the before mentioned movies, all of the women go through a transformation not by their own prerogative, but by someone telling them they have too, or by someone helping them change. This change usually stripes the main character of their usual charm.

I believe that we should move away from physical transformation in the media and focus more on discovering one’s inner values. I think it is important to have a clean appearance, but we should be able to express ourselves and our flaws. In Pygmalion, it upsets me that Doolittle couldn’t get a job because of the way she speaks. Without Higgins’s or Pickering’s help there would be no way for Doolittle to get out of poverty. It is interesting that society puts so much value on looks; does this really enhance what’s important to our inner values?

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Pygmalion: Personal Response

Through George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, we see a world represented by different English accents as a social barrier between the elite and society’s dregs. Eliza Doolittle is a poor flower-girl who wishes to behave like a lady to make her life somewhat better.  Henry Higgins thought this would be an excellent opportunity to train her to improve her grammar, gestures, and appearance. Just some work and effort would make her one of the elites in London.

Once Eliza was ready to change her appearance, it was surprising how shocked she was looking at herself; many others like her did not care about their accent or actions as long as they made enough money to support themselves. However, I don’t particularly appreciate how Higgins treats Eliza; she is a person with emotions; he should put aside his ego and be kind and behave like a gentleman, but instead treats the lower class like his objects. It is startling how he is trying to change Eliza to become a lady, but he is an arrogant bachelor instead of a kind gentleman. I found the play humourous, mainly when Higgins referred to Eliza with numerous names, specifically a “squashed cabbage leaf.” It was humourous yet quite disrespectful.

London’s citizens had established different social classes; everyone worldwide has different inflections and pronunciations, which is not bad. One of the reasons I felt what Eliza feels is because I am also someone from many other places with several accents, so I understand how difficult it is to speak in a different accent and try to fit into society. I found some parts of the play quite relatable to the Asian community. Such as when Higgins would make Eliza study until late at night, even though she was practically crying, saying she couldn’t do it anymore, he still didn’t let her give up. Higgins was not rude in this situation but simply trying to educate Eliza as she requested to become more ladylike.

I tried to connect this play to my daily life, and I realized, even though Higgins is portrayed as an arrogant bachelor, I like his character the most. He doesn’t beat around the bush, and I find my words quite similar to his. “Have a little cry, and say your prayers, and that’ll make you comfortable.” Eliza was ungrateful after all that Higgins has done for her; he said this phrase because most people cry or pray when they are upset or angry.  He did not appreciate her much; he treated her like a flower girl and not a lady. Mrs. Higgins and Mr. Pickering express that women need to be appreciated from time to time; every woman deserves to be treated like a lady regardless of socioeconomic class. Everyone must be treated kindly, regardless of gender, race, or social class.

I think what happens to Eliza after Higgins’ work is not his responsibility. She is an adult woman capable of making her own decisions and taking responsibility for her own life. I want to describe society as a mould, which requires everyone to behave a sure way to be accepted and fit in. It’s okay to be different; that’s what makes us unique; it is not wise to pressure ourselves to fit into a society filled with people judging us.

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Personal Response: Pygmalion

George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion shows the language as a class barrier, Shaw underscores the unbending progressive system of English society through an assortment of characters at various socioeconomic levels. The power of language to get through friendly obstructions is completely acknowledged in Eliza’s change, it’s that she can take only Higgins language which cuts her off from her previous life. One of the symbols in the play is mirror. In act II, Eliza is shocked to find a mirror in her new bathroom, she doesn’t know which way to look and finally hangs a towel over it. It represents the moment Eliza unguardedly sees herself as she truly is, dirty, disheveled and far from ladylike in her personal habits. Eliza’s glimpse in the mirror reveals to her the need for a change and the result of taking a shower proves that is possible, thus the mirror symbolizes self-awareness and identity. Appearance and identity serve as indicators of social class, language, dress, wealth, manners and morality, these signs are superficial. The transformation that Eliza, a poor flower girl turns into a self-reliant woman. It occurs under the tutelage of Higgins. He didn’t realize that his experiment represented a more important transformation than class. It was the awakening of Eliza’s soul. However, I was a piece baffle about the completion since I don’t comprehend why Eliza said she stands alone yet still feels like she needs to remain with Higgins. 

Higgins is careless about people’s feelings, this trait becomes most evident in his experiment of Eliza whom he transforms from a flower girl into an upper class lady, his inability to see and treat Eliza as anything more than an experiment forces her to take a stand of independence unchanged by the end of the play. Mrs. Higgins soon discerns the problems that her son’s experiment will cause for Eliza; her affection for Higgins does not shield her irritation at his lack of manners. I like Mrs. Higgins a lot because she is intelligent and perceptive. I actually think the speechless thing is the means by which Higgins took Eliza in while never considering what might befall her a short time later. I feel like at last Higgins doesn’t want to part with Eliza because he doesn’t want to let go of his creation, his successful experiment result. Anyhow, the film was interesting to watch.

 

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My Personal Response To “Pygmalion” by George B. Shaw

In the play “Pygmalion” by George B. Shaw, we see a similar, if not identical storyline to “My Fair Lady”. In both playwrights, we see how a highly respected professor/gentleman decides to help a loss class woman get off the streets and become a member of the high society by teaching her how to become proper through grammar, vocabulary and etiquette lessons as well as basic everyday gestures.
Although the storyline portrays the ideals of “an ugly duckling becoming a beautiful swan”, there is much more which the naked eye might not perceive. The Victorian Era in which it takes place shows much more about a human’s natural sense of protection and needs to “do the right thing”, which in modern time is something I believe we have lost thought of. We as a race have become greedy and self-absorbed, forgetting that most people that are on the streets, in poor houses, etc. are not there by choice, but by lack of guidance and morale of society.
We can use Skid Row, for example, this is one of the poorest areas in the entirety of the United States of America. Originally starting off as a city area where the homeless could find shelter and somewhat comfort has now become overthrown by gangs, homeless people and erroneous propaganda. How did it get this bad? The decline of this sector comes from the huge increase in unemployment rates in the country, and since many people are badly educated or not educated at all, in most cases they aren’t even given the chance to get a job to pull themselves out of the “slums”.
We see a great representation of this when Eliza wanders the streets she once was from after having a large argument with Professor Higgins about her integrity and morals.
Another topic that is largely shown throughout the play is “self-respect”. This all begins in the first few minutes of the play when we see Ms Doolittle trying to sell flowers to the people around her and someone makes a comment about Professor Higgins writing down what she says (her method of selling merchandise by making others feel pity for her, therefore pushing them to support her in whatever way they can to feel as though they have done “a good deed”). Later on, we see it when she enters Professor Higgins’ home and is questioned by him about her means to pay as well as her true hunger for improvement whilst the “maid” of the home attempts to persuade Professor Higgins to listen to her and not throw her out. The most important and shocking scene where we see this is near the end of the play when the professor and Ms Doolittle get into an argument at night when he questions her character and integrity accusing her of stealing his things or attempting to whilst he sleeps for which Ms Doolittle at this point in time comprehends her worth and chooses to leave that night and show herself the self-respect which she has deserved for herself the entire time.
In my opinion, this play is a great example, especially for young women or women of all ages about growth, self-worth, respect and overall, values. It taught me the true meaning of how it does not matter what is on the outside, but it is within you what truly makes you, “you!”. So, in better use of words, I loved this play, it made me smile, laugh and even cry a little bit, but all those emotions came from truly understanding what it means to be human and what society has become versus what it should be.

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Personal Response: Pygmalion

George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion encompasses social class to show how the gap between the rich and the poor can be easily manipulated. Shaw had used his character, Eliza Doolittle, as a main representation of the working-class during the 20th century. Aside from Eliza Doolittle within the movie, many poor men and women were living in central London. People worked hard for food and cared less about their appearance since appearance had little benefit towards their survival if they were poor. There was manipulation with Eliza since she was changed due to another person’s wealth, not because of herself. Although Eliza worked by selling flowers, she was still a poor working-class woman, she had a job that made little to no money, jobs like this were common for the poor. If a poor person wanted to become wealthy this want was nothing more than hope.

Belief in social class and one’s social manners to be true can be undeniably false within Pygmalion. Someone’s class can be changed by changing their manners and their behavior to being proper. Eliza became a ‘proper’ woman, meaning she changed her accent, behavior, manners, and appearance to appeal to those wealthier. She had changed not because of herself but because of Professor Henry Higgins who found it an amusing challenge to change such a poor woman. Higgin’s being a wealthy middle-class linguist had the knowledge and the wealth to change everything about Eliza Doolittle. He changed her cockney accent to an upper-class English accent. I find it surprising that one’s accent during the 1900s could distinguish their class, it just shows how the idea of status changed people.

 

 

 

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Personal Response: Pygmalion

George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion portrays male chauvinism mainly through Henry Higgins. He is privileged, egoistic, and insensitive towards other people, especially towards women and those from a lower class. He is irresponsible like a child in many ways, yet he can easily determine Eliza’s future.

At the start of the play, Higgins is portrayed as a note-taker. He observes the crowd as subjects of study, not as real, living people. He is unable to show compassion towards those from a lower class and mocks Eliza of her accent when she is worried about being arrested. When Higgins brought Eliza into the lessons, he never once considered what would happen to Eliza after the challenge. Even when Mrs. Pearce warned him about what would happen to Eliza, he confessed that he couldn’t care less. To him, giving Eliza lessons is just a  “fun challenge” to prove his ability and satisfy his ego, but for Eliza, it dramatically changes her life and her identity. It must have been horrible to be given a new identity in a “better life,” but only temporarily so that she would need to fall back into the gutter again. It is incredibly cruel. If Eliza never attended Higgins’s lessons and was always a flower girl, she wouldn’t need to ever worry about “middle-class morality” or be concerned with Higgin’s patriarchy.

In Greek mythology, Pygmalion falls in love with his statue. Although he “talked to it with words of love and brought to it the kind of gifts that are thought to please girls,” (The myth of Pygmalion) a statue is still an object. Eliza as a flower girl is just a piece of ivory. As Higgins taught her upper-class dialect and transformed her into a lady, she is carved into a statue.  But there is no Aphrodite to “bring the statue to life.” From the way I interpret it, when she returned to Higgins at the end, she “transformed” from a statue into a human, or rather, a woman. Although the play makes us wonder about issues regarding the status of women, it is curious why Shaw still decides to use this ending. From the film, I got the impression that Higgins fears Eliza’s parting more because he cannot let go of his masterpiece creation. But I wonder why Eliza feels the need to stay with him. One way to interpret it is that Eliza, although claiming that she now stands on her own, still feels the need for security and status that she would receive from Higgins. Perhaps she has feelings for him as well. As we see from The Merchant of Venice, love, or affection is often accompanied by the desire for power. While Higgins needs Eliza to stay with him to satisfy his ego, Eliza also needs Higgins to secure her social status, and keep her identity as an upper-class lady.

No matter if this ending was a happy one, or how it could have ended differently, I still think the cruellest thing is how Higgins took Eliza in without ever thinking about what would happen to her afterwards. Although the film portrays this casually and even comedically, it is still very difficult to watch. But I enjoyed how these heavy problems are revealed from its light-hearted appearances. The film was entertaining to watch, yet we can unpack many things from it.

 

 

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Personal Response to the Pygmalion Film

In George Bernard Shaw’s adaptation of Pygmalion, Higgins adopts an egocentric saviour complex, the moment he meets Eliza Doolittle. During their first encounter, Higgins uses her accent as an indicator of her social class, then places her into a box accordingly. He doesn’t bother getting to know her, nor does he accept that she’s a person beneath her accent, profession, and clothes. Throughout the play, Eliza is just Higgins’ creature, his sculpture, his game. He has an objective to save her, and he will reach that goal, regardless of whether or not she wants to be saved. In the myth of this story, Pygmalion falls in love with a statue of his own creation. In the film, Henry views Eliza in a similar manner, because he refuses to look past his own prejudices. He transforms her from a poor flower girl to a lady; from rags to riches. He attributes her rising status to himself, which feeds his ego. Later in the film, once Eliza has proved successful, we can see his pride surface. To him, he created her success; she was nothing without him, but now she’s somebody. This nature, Higgins’ self-proclaimed heroism, is often associated with privilege. We most often see similar mannerisms in people like himself: upper-class, rich, white males. He leads a comfortable, high society lifestyle, and expects that everyone wants that. He views people of lower classes as subservient. Therefore, when he decides to ‘save’ Eliza, to transform her into someone that she isn’t, he thinks he’s doing her the utmost service. Since he fails to listen to and empathize with Eliza, Higgins lacks perspective, and his actions fall short. He may think he’s doing a good thing, but that thought process stems to his naivety and privilege.

In response to Higgins’ aforementioned actions, we can visibly see Eliza’s pain. As Henry ‘modifies’ every detail about Eliza—from her accent to her appearance—he’s telling her that being herself is not good enough. Then, when he finally allows the ‘new and improvedEliza to enter society, he instructs her to stick to small talk on two topics: the weather and her health. At social gatherings, she is limited to superficial chitchat, rather than real conversations. She is deprived of authenticity, which essentially tells her that along with her accent and her appearance, her mind is dissatisfactory, too. Finally, in a rare moment of authenticity, Eliza lets her raw emotions surface, showing Higgins and the audience her pain. She had been dragged through this entire process, subject to scrutiny, and still failed to receive a gesture of appreciation from Higgins. Like in A Doll’s House, Eliza is treated as a puppet, with a man serving as the puppet-master! Both Nora and Eliza were forced into inferior, compliant roles, as many women were confined to in relationships. But contrary to most, Nora and Eliza were able to speak up against their mistreatment, which was a luxury that many couldn’t afford. However, when Eliza finally speaks up to Henry, he treats her arguments as invalid and childish, which only increases the pain she feels. Essentially, she is told that she’s inadequate for being herself, but when she changes, she’s still undervalued as a person. It seems impossible for her to truly succeed, to both her standards, and society’s standards.

I was incredibly underwhelmed by the ending of the film. It frustrated me that Eliza ends up going back to Henry, because that negates her prior actions and words! Higgins treats her so poorly, and never once apologizes for his behaviour, yet she still returns to him. He only falls in love with her after he completely changes her, showing her that it’s in fact his adjustments that he loves, not her. When she leaves his house, gaining independence, she shows a great deal of courage and self-respect. Yet moments later, she retracts that boundary-breaking power, and replaces it with a classic ‘happily-ever-after’. This reminded me of Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Little Women. In this adaptation, we see two endings play out: the traditional one, where Jo ends up in love and married, and the unexpected ending, where Jo ends up independent, single, and accomplished having published her book. This film discusses similar ideas to Pygmalion, regarding the “well-made play”, and endings that will please readers. In these times, endings weren’t desirable if a woman ended up alone. She needed to be married or in a relationship, because how would it be a good ending if she wasn’t? Marriage (or a relationship) was the ultimate conclusion, the best result, the badge of happiness. In Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, Jo is forced to write her protagonist a ‘happily ever after’ with a man, in order to sell her novel. I wonder if George Bernard Shaw faced the same obligations. I haven’t read the play yet, but I believe the ending is different, leading me to wonder whether this ending was modified for the film audience’s satisfaction. Would the ending be the same if he created the film today, rather than in 1938? How much do societal standards affect the creation of literature? I, personally, would have enjoyed the ending far more if Eliza kept her distance from Higgins. It would have solidified the feminist ideas that she preached earlier. This ending was far too neat and tidy, making it contradictory. Though, in certain ways, this could also humanize Eliza, and show that she prioritizes love above independence (and potentially self-respect, though that’s an entirely different conversation). Unfortunately, this ending tainted certain aspects of the film. However, I’m eager to read the play and analyze the effects of the different endings.

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Pygmalion: Personal Response

George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (1938) explores how language can maintain, or change, one’s social status. This issue is one very near and dear to me, as my grandmother was born in Northern England and worked very hard to lose her ‘lower-class’ accent when she moved to Canada. I could easily see her story emulated in Eliza Doolittle’s– my grandmother became quite a well known singer and attended many upper-class parties after getting rid of her accent, just as Eliza becomes (or, at least, pretends to be) a lady and attends the embassy ball after getting rid of hers. Because of these personal connections, I found Pygmalion (1938) all the more fascinating.

Eliza evolves not only in her way of speaking, but also her way of being. I considered while watching the play the relationship between these two evolutions. Could it be construed that Eliza becomes stronger and more independent because she learns to speak like a lady? It is certainly one interpretation, but not one that I prefer. It would imply that a lady can be strong and independent, but a pauperess cannot. Or, in other terms, that an upper-class person is, in fact, better and more capable, and only by becoming one can a lower-class person be better and more capable. This does not seem to fit with the criticisms of the wealthy imbedded in other parts of the play either, so I decided to discount it. However, I do still hold a strong belief that the way we speak– whether it be dialect or language– influences the way we think and the way we are. In this play, that idea is explored more in relation to how the way we speak influences the way other people perceive us rather than how it influences our internal processes.

The realities of dialect classism in England are both fascinating and dreadful (as with many things in history and current events). It struck me while watching just how far humans go to find differences instead of similarities. Throughout all of history, discrimination has been prevalent: from skin colour to gender, religion to nationality, sexual preference to monetary means, we seem to go to great extents to ostracize each other. Eliza is not even being discriminated against for being any of those things though (at least, not mainly– there are some gender role undertones of course), instead she is being discriminated against for speaking the same language as Higgins but in a slightly different way. These two people have so much in common– both born in the same country, both living in the same city, both of the same race– and yet still, they find a difference between them and focus on it. How different a world could we have if we the first we saw wasn’t difference, but similarity? Humanity’s penitent for making everyone ‘outsiders’ is possibly one of the greatest flaws we have as a species.

I do not think that Eliza should have had to adopt a new accent to be taken seriously, nor do I think my grandmother should have had to. We obliterate so much fascinating culture and history when we recklessly assimilate everything in our paths. Diversity has always been a blessing. Which species get wiped out? Those whose genepools are not diverse enough to survive a virus. Which people get malnourished? Those whose diets are not diverse enough to sustain their bodies varying needs. Which people are most stuck in their ideologies? Those who have never been exposed to differing ones. It seems abundantly clear that diversity is a strength, not a weakness. If we find something different, we need not force it into similarity. Instead, we should appreciate it and learn from it. I wish my grandmother had had people who were willing to appreciate and learn from her so that she had not been forced to change herself to ‘fit in.’ I’m grateful to this play for drawing attention to these prevalent issues.

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“A DOLL’S HOUSE” BY HEINRICH IBSEN

“A Doll’s House” by Heinrich Ibsen portrays the concepts of love, deception, trust and gender bias. As we know, the play takes time in the early/mid 19th century, during this time there is a huge difference between men and women; men are the leaders of the households, they work and maintain income for their family, whilst the women are the ones who raise the children, aren’t allowed to work and are married off as soon as they reach maturity.


At the beginning of the play, we are introduced to Mr and Mrs Helmer. At first one might believe that they are a perfect family with not many struggles, but as we begin to discover who are main characters are in more detail throughout the play, we realise that their relationship is quite odd as well as deceitful. We can use the example of a scene where Mr Helmer is upset with Mrs Helmer, he claims her to be and act like a child, but the hypocrisy comes whenever we see that Mrs Helmer whilst acting as a child at times asks Mr Helmer for support and guidance and without any question, he coddles her and allows it. This is where we can see an interpretation of the saying “Do as I say, not as I do”.


Throughout the play, we also see the concept of deception, when Nora is constantly asking for extra money for “Christmas Presents” which is true to pay off debts that she has from her previous endeavours. Mr Helmer, clueless of his wife as well as their life, conceits to it but later on finds out the truth.


In this play, we see over and over how deception that every single adult character in the play portrays. We see it in Christine as well as in Krogstad when they both decide to team up in order to bring the Helmer household down.


Overall, I personally did like the play since we see how in today’s world vs the older times, there is more acceptance of imperfect people, there is not as large of a gender bias, nor is there as much lack of opportunity, that being said, I personally would not recommend this to anyone. But I will also like to add, that whenever we go over plays like these, I think it is smart to compare the kind of education people received back then vs now and see the impact it has on society.

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Personal Response to A Doll’s House

Role play appears to be the norm of the in A Doll’s House. Rather than being their own selves, the play’s protagonists pretend to be someone that others wish them to be. Nora is the one who stands out the most as a character whose acting is almost perfect, to the point that she seems to have two lives. Nora gives the impression of an obedient, money-hungry, immature wife to the viewer. Nora seems to only want money from Torvald in the first act. She does not waste much time in asking for money after telling Torvald what she just got for their kids in their first meeting. Even when asked what she wants for Christmas, she says money. Torvald treats Nora as though she were a child or even a horse, which is revolting, “my little songbird shan’t go trailing her wings now. Hmm? Is my squirrel standing there sulking?” (Page. 111). He seems to be conversing with a little girl. And he says it while handing her money, making their exchange feel like a grown grandfather handing money to his precious, beloved young granddaughter. Nora seems to be more of a cherished possession than an equal partner in marriage as a result of all of this. Nora is introduced to the reader as a simple-minded, faithful trophy-wife in this way by Ibsen. The audience is unaware, however, that this is just Nora’s position in the household.

Nora seems to finally grasp what she has seen and what needs to be done at this stage when Torvald is furious at her for what she has done when he discovers the debt he ows and Nora’s forgery. She now recognizes that she has not been herself since they have been married. She claims, “When I look at it now… I’ve lived by doing tricks for you, Torvald. But that was how you wanted it.” (Page. 182). She realizes now that she has become nothing more than a source of amusement for her husband, who will make her dance for him. And, as much as Torvald may have chastised her for her immature actions in the end, Nora points out that it was for doing the tricks and acting like a doll was what he admired in her.

Nora justifies her decision to leave the house by claiming that she has to think more about herself “But now I intend to look into it. I must find out who is right, society or me.” (Page. 185). Nora is now portrayed as a calm, conscious human being who understands that not everything one is told must be followed. She recognizes that there are aspects of culture and its traditional beliefs with which she may disagree, and which may be incorrect. Torvald then offers to teach her, but she declines because she realizes she must educate herself, or at the very least away from him. She also mentions that they never spoke serious things, which she thinks is why she believes he isn’t qualified to teach her, as well as the fact that he has looked down on her since they met.

Nora appears as a self-assured, strong-willed woman who knows just what she wants. Nora is not only Ibsen’s way of showing women’s strength of character, but she also helps to show women as human beings on par with men. Nora also mentions that, aside from the misconception of women as the lesser sex, some aspects of society. Nora’s presence in a double life demonstrates much of this. On the surface, she appears to be a sweet, fun doll to her husband, father, and even her friend Mrs. Linde, but it is only after they hear about her secret life that they begin to admire her for more than just a pretty girl. Nora can use her second life to show that she can work, that she can deal with a lot of pressures, and that she can do whatever she puts her mind to. This secret life is what eventually leads to her being saved from the doll house, as she refers to it, and encouraging her to research and think freely about herself and society.

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Personal response to The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice is an enthralling Shakespearean play with a cast of compelling characters. Shylock, it must be noted, has the audience’s concentration from beginning to finish. The reality that Shylock is a Jew living in a Christian-run city is the most important aspect of his personality. These Christians despise everything Shylock adores and cherishes. They despise the fact that he is a money lender, and his religion holds him in low regard. When Shylock is defending himself, he delivers the play’s most prominent monologue. Any Christian character in the play has a negative attitude toward him. A “misbeliever, [a] cut-throat dog and spit on[his] Jewish gabardine,” they call him (1.3.106-107). Shakespeare, on the other hand, does not portray Shylock as just a survivor. In reality, Shylock’s defense of his predicament is one of the most stirring and thought-provoking speeches in literature. “I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is?” (3.1.52-57).

Nevertheless, he can be a profoundly nasty character with all his admirable humanism. His own daughter resents him, takes advantage of others’ economic hardships, and mistreated his servant, Lancelot. He is concerned about the missing money as his daughter runs away, takes money and jewels with her, hoping that she was “dead at [his] foot and the jewels in her ear,” (3.2.79-80). What makes Shylock so interesting is that learning how to respond to him is very challenging. As one closely studies the play, one learns that Shylock has several important motivations to act as he does. While he treats Antonio despicably, without reason, he is not as we have seen. The latter has “spat on” him, “spurned” him, and “called [him] dog.” by his own admission. In comparison, Antonio is completely dismissive of the complaints made by Shylock. “In fact, he even goes as far as promising to do the same again, “I am as like to call thee so again, to spit on thee again, to spurn thee too” (1.3125-126). The idea that he accepts an all-consuming hate fueled by a need to gain revenge at any cost is what makes Shylock’s character so interesting, “If I can catch him once upon the hip, I will feed fat the ancient grudge I bear him” (1.3.41-42).

As a result, in order to beat Antonio, he devises a heinous scheme. Since Shylock’s plots are exposed, Shakespeare disturbs the reader once again, and he is brought to justice. The play spends a lot of time discussing the philosophy of justice and the quality of grace. When Shylock, on the other hand, puts himself at the hands of the judge, Christian justice is revealed for what it is. “Be assur’d, thou shalt have justice more than thou desirest” (4.1.313-314). In the heartbreaking courtroom scene, we see a serious abuse of judicial power. Shylock is forced to abandon his faith and give Antonio half of his wealth, with the other half going to the daughter who betrayed him. Despite his crimes, the sight of a broken and almost destitute Shylock remains difficult to bear. Shylock is an interesting character for me because he evokes so many contradictory emotions in me. I was disgusted by his botched assassination of Antonio, as well as outrage and pity at the scene of the crime. Despite the fact that the play is titled The Merchant of Venice, it is mostly about Shylock, the Jewish moneylender.

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Personal Response to The Doll’s House

The Doll’s House is a story based on one of Ibsen’s friend her name is Laura Kieler and the part that is based on her is Nora and Torvald she had something similar happen where she took out an illegal loan to save her husband.

My thoughts on the Doll House, I think the story was very good and usually kept my attention for a lot of it, I’m not very good at staying on track with books but the movie really was good it kept my attention without me feeling bored. So that’s good but here are the reasons why I feel like it kept my attention for such a long time without getting distracted. Even some parts of the book did this as well.

First thing being that there is almost always something happening in the story, for example, when Mrs. Linde comes back to Nora’s home after Krogstad put the letter filled with the bad things Nora did. Mrs., Linde says that she used to have a relationship with Krogstad so she could go talk to him, and while that is happening Nora is trying to stall Torvald from looking in the glove box, this is one of the first ways the story keeps my attention. It is small ways that Nora is trying to stall Torvald, you can really see her emotion and how she is desperate for him not to see the letter in the letterbox.

Second things being the emotions in the story, to be fair I can only read emotion sometimes in the book but in the movie it conveys it a lot better which should be what a movie does but besides that the Emotions to me play a big part in how you interpret something some of the emotions that stuck out the most and convey the most is especially when Nora learns the truth about her marriage with Torvald while she is calm, with no expression, you can really feel this emotion of like realizing something bad about something you care about.

In all this book and movie are very nice. This is something I could read in my free time without falling asleep.

 

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Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes,

Towards the end of May in 2020, a police officer’s video of an African-American being choked to death in May prompted riots to flare up across America. When demonstrations started in the US after George Floyd’s death, the Black Lives Matter movement gripped the world.

Many differences exist between the topic of your poem As I Grew Older and the Declaration of Independence. The injustice against colored people born in America today remains one of the most important aspects. The Declaration of Independence guarantees such unalienable and God-given rights of all Americans. Your poem, on the other hand, expresses the exact opposite. It contains reality. You can clearly read between the lines in the second and third stanzas that all of these personal rights, such as “life,” “liberty,” and “pursuit of happiness,” are not true for all people living in America, the so-called “land of limitless possibilities.” The Declaration of Independence also states that not all Americans follow the constitution. It is as if you were subjected to true discrimination and racism. Many of your hopes and aspirations were overshadowed by these issues, and you were unable to really experience the American Dream. Martin Luther King mirrored this central theme used in the Declaration of Independence. In the final stanza, there is a historical reference to Martin Luther King.

“My hands!

My dark hands

Break through the wall!” (6.24-26)

I see that you are attempting to break free from this system, that you are trying to solve all of your problems, as well as the nation’s problems, in the same way that Martin Luther King tried to do. As a result, the promised rights of liberty and life do not apply to all Americans. Similarly, the “desire” is unfulfilled. This right is guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence, but how can anyone live a happier life if they are discriminated against by citizens of their own country? The “can-do” spirit disappears as well; one of the most critical aspects of the American Dream is possessing a pioneering spirit, a deep desire to achieve all of one’s goals. Unfortunately, much as you had to suffer, this “can-do” mentality disappears as someone is unable to live up to his own nature.

“I lie down in the shadow.

No longer the light of my dream before me,

Above me.

Only the thick wall.” (4.19-22)

These are the reasons I can see why you denounce the United States of America and therefore the American Dream so strongly in your poems. You want to be “free at last,” as anyone should, and as Martin Luther King put it in his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Owing to the killing of Breonna Taylor, a medical worker, rage and indignation were already brewing. On March 13, Taylor was murdered in a police raid that got out of control. Police said they had a warrant to search Taylor’s apartment for two suspects who were going to sell cocaine from her apartment to prosecute. Kenneth Walker, Taylor’s boyfriend, fired a cop in the leg after the police broke the door off his hinges. The police replied by firing five times at Taylor. Detective Brett Hankison, one of the cops who has been shot since then, is alleged to have blindly fired ten bullets into the apartment.

The campaign saw an uptick in interest in 2020 with the revival of Black Lives Matter in global headlines in the midst of global protests.

The world is revolving for the better. I am thankful to have had your poetry to further understand how it is and how is shouldn’t be.

Thank you,

Megan Siu

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03/01/21, The Motivations of Krogstad

In A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, the character Krogstad is supposed to be the main antagonist in the story. Superficially, this is true because what he does in the story works against in both action and incentive against what the main character, Nora, is trying to accomplish. When Nora’s husband Torvald was ill, she was forced to find a way to raise money to allow Torvald to vacation to warmer climates to regain his health. Out of lack of option, she was forced to borrow that money from Krogstad, however this was an unsavoury option since Krogstad and Torvald are strong enemies. Torvald and Krogstad had known each other since childhood, and as adults ended up working at the same bank business. Krogstad loathed Torvald’s high salary and his higher ranking job at the bank, while Torvald loathed Krogstad for his previous crime of forgery and disrespectful demeanor towards Torvald. This conflict worsened when Torvald became head of the bank, and decided to evict Krogstad from his job.

Krogstad, in Nora’s favour, decided to threaten to inform Torvald that Nora was indebted to him, and that Torvald can’t evict him. Torvald is severely opposed to any form of credit or debt taking, believing it shows an unethical use of money, something he is willing to enforce to extreme measures. Therefore, Krogstad is portrayed as the bad character, for trapping Nora in a very difficult position and exploiting their transaction in a way that most benefits himself, which would take away the stability of Nora and Torvald’s relationship once Torvald uncovers the plot. He seems not to care what happens with Nora and Torvald, showing no compassion or thinking about other perspectives rather than his own.

Is Krogstad a bad person? That is probably not true. Krogstad has suffered lots during his life. His true love, Kristine Linde, chose to marry a rich man instead of him, making him feel despaired. Somehow, supposedly Krogstad widowed a wife a while later, yet kept two children he had with her, inciting that it was probably his wife that left him instead, for he kept the children. Krogstad was then in financial difficulty and was likely forced to resort to forgery in order to produce the money he needed. He was however discovered by the law, and had to run away, probably moving with his children to the town where Torvald and Nora live. In the film rendition of the play, we even see Torvald’s house, a poor ramshackle flat with little decoration. Hardly comparable to Torvald’s home, a well-furnished, embroidered, and ornate multi-level large house. Even more, being in trouble with the law, Krogstad’s options for finding new jobs were few, and he would find difficulty climbing the social ladder to respectability, something he desperately wanted.

Therefore it is hard to condemn Krogstad, for he has been disenfranchised from love, wealth, comfort, and reputability. Torvald however, has all four. Torvald, as a stickler for the law, does not realize the law did not ensure equity, but only justice. Krogstad, stuck in a hard place, was inhibited by the law and its believers to regain his stance. Therefore, he felt justified to exploit his contract with Nora to secure his job, or else he would lose his flow of income.

The character Krogstad portrays a common theme throughout society: condemnation of the poor, and the hypocrisy of the rich. Rich people, although they may be equitable in how they get their money, are damaging to more unfortunate people through being blind to their suffering. Their ignorance to these people is something that has always been around throughout history, from feudal kingdoms to the Soviet Union. The rich live off the backs of the poor, who are not defended by laws to ensure how well off they are. So although at first glance Krogstad may seem as an inconsiderate and exploitive person, further inspection shows that he is simply struggling to survive like many people before and after him. The law is not going to help him, therefore he disrespects it and its believers and chooses to enforce the safety of his job through the contract with Nora, even if he must cause some damage to other people in order to get there.

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Personal Response to: A Doll’s House

Throughout Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House” we see the character of Nora have an idea of marriage in which her primary role is to be the perfect wife and mother to her children and mostly to keep u appearances within their community. Her husband Torvald has just become the manager at the bank and is even more uptight and apprehensive about wanting to always be seen as the perfect family and this includes them not borrowing any money since it would damage Torvald’s reputation as the man of the house who provides the money there isn’t enough of, this show how fragile Torvald’s masculinity really is.


Nora’s as we see throughout the play has childlike tendencies and is basically a child herself and really has no idea who she really is or what she wants out of life instead of what Torvald wants for her in life.

“Free. To be free, absolutely free. To spend time playing with the children. To have a clean, beautiful house, the way Torvald likes it.”

In this quote from Act 1, while Nora is having a conversation with Mrs.Linde, Nora is talking about how she feels she will be “free” after the New Year when she’s paid off Krogstad. In this quote, while Nora is describing her much-anticipated freedom we see that her freedom means she gets to be a traditional housewife and mother who will continue to maintain an admirable home just as Torvald would like it. The very things that are actually restraining Nora from actually obtaining freedom for herself are the same things she thinks will grant her this freedom. Throughout the play we see Nora’s view of what freedom means to her continue to evolve and by the end of the play, she realizes that freedom to her means to become independent from all of the societal limitations and restraints and she has to go and find her own goals in life for herself.

From the beginning of the play, we see how much Nora loves her husband Torvalds as is shown to us by the sacrifice she made to save his life and borrow the money that was needed in order to do so. When Torvald finally learns about Nora’s crime he doesn’t give her the heroic reaction she has expected. “From now on, forget happiness.

Now it’s just about saving the remains, the wreckage, the appearance.”

These words that Torvalds says to Nora after discovering Krogstad’s letter really show us who Torvald is, and show us how shallow of a man he really is. He is so concerned with what other people will think of him that he can’t even see the sacrifice his wife has just made for him. It is at this moment that Nora realizes she has been living for someone who she doesn’t even know, she was willing to die for him yet when it came for him to prove himself he couldn’t.

Lastly by the end of the play, Nora realizes that her whole life she has been only putting on a show for others and has allowed the people she loves the most to treat her like a doll as if she were anyone’s possession.

“I have been performing tricks for you, Torvald. That’s how I’ve survived. You wanted it like that. You and Papa have done me a great wrong. It’s because of you I’ve made nothing of my life.”

For most of her life and marriage, she has acted like this childlike wife that diminished her development into becoming an adult. It is a harsh realization she has to face when she realizes she has made nothing of her life and was living with a stranger she thought she loved. Ever since she was a little girl her dad also compelled her to act in such a manner that was childlike that as a fully grown adult she now knows no other way to behave other than what she was taught as a child.

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A Doll’s House

Throughout the play, Henrik Ibsen’s “doll house”, my views and feelings about the characters are constantly changing. At first, I thought Nora was a strong woman who had no choice but to play a naive, ignorant role, but as the plot developed, she was portrayed as a naive, sheltered young woman.

I don’t like Nora, I find her annoying. Towards the end of the third act, I think Torvald’s reaction to Nora’s incident is normal, I think everyone has impulsive moments, also he was oblivious of this secret for 8 years, and he said that it was against his principle to borrow a loan. “You wrecked my entire happiness now. You’ve gambled away my entire future for me. Oh, it’s too terrible to contemplate.”(Act III, p 178). I think it is reasonable how Torvald acted, his pride and reputation is very important for a man, don’t underestimate it. If Torvald has a bad reputation, who will earn money to financially support the family? What if it ends up like Krogstad’s situation? Even though Nora has good motives, she still crossed Torvald’s bottom line, which is borrowing money. At last, I was surprised that she made a decision to leave Torvald. I totally agree with her point of view, but the premise is that there are no children, because if she leaves suddenly, I feel she is very irresponsible and it is a selfish move that she made. However, everyone has their own flaws, and she is still learning and exploring herself so I was happy when she found out that she was important and finally stood up for herself.

I actually dislike Torvald too, the way he treated Nora as a doll. Calling her names like a “song-lark,” a “squirrel,” or a “little spending-bird.” I feel absolutely uncomfortable while watching the movie nor reading the book.

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Personal Response to: A Doll’s House

A Doll’s House, written by Henrick Ibsen raised many questions about what is right and what is wrong when it comes to your dignity. Nora lives in a middle-class family, meaning they have the funds to live a pleasant life. However, the word pleasant will never be a safe way to describe this family. With a loan constricting Nora’s reputation, she finds herself pleasing her husband for money. This loan is not however the only problem within the family… The love and dignity we see within the story are not meant to be together. Nora loves Torvald but the moment Torvald shows doubt in his love for her Nora realizes that she no longer loves him. “I would gladly work night and day for you, Nora-bear pain and hardship for your sake. But nobody would sacrifice their honour for the one they love” (p. 186). This is something I feel most women during the 1870s would disagree with. While the man may think that his reputation is more important than love, the women would most probably want love over reputation. The essence in which holds a family together is love, and without it, even from one person, the family cannot live. 

Nora’s character encompassed the idea of love, regret, and change, we saw these ideas as the play progressed. Nora in the book showed love towards most of the characters. She loved: her three children, Ms. Linde, Mr. Rank, and Torvald… This strong bond she shared with all these people caused her to worry ever so more about the loan and Krogstad’s ability to ruin her family’s lives. We saw that she regretted signing the loan, even if she did not say anything, we could see the regret with her facial emotions. She was trapped and her love was the only thing keeping her together but at the same time breaking her life apart. 

Living in a middle-class family, Torvald seemed like an unpleasant husband to Nora because of how he held control over her. “When did my squirrel get home?” (p. 110). With constant animal names, it seemed as if Torvald was showing the difference between Nora and him. The difference is that he was a human, and she was his little animal, his doll. A doll is something children play with, something you keep. We see how Torvald plays around with his doll Nora. With animal names and love which seems one-sided, Nora is like an object to Torvald. He controls her because he is the man, and she accepts it. Nora acts accordingly as Torvald expects her too just so she can get money from him to pay off the loan which Torvald does not know about. 

Krogstad was never a villain, he only acted for his honor and his family, which is what made his actions seem evil. Within the book, there is no inclusion as to how Krogstad’s home looks. Viewing the movie made us sympathize with him even after what he said to Nora. We realize that Krogstad is barely living, he is poor and must take care of his children by himself, he has no one really to love. Not having even an ounce of love in his life made him commit forgery and this is what ruined his entire career moving forward.  

While with some characters we can sympathize with and others we cannot, A Doll’s House shows how love can change everything within your life, it can be what makes you happy, but it can also be what causes your pain. 

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Act 3: A Dolls House PR

Ibsen’s a Doll’s House was not what I expected or was hoping for it to be. I was expecting a book showing women’s rights and feminist ideas being presented that was not very excepted at the time by society. I was thinking there would be a strong female with no choice but to behave in certain ways in order to get her there way but fight against this and become an individual. We only get this in the last ten pages of the book which originally confused me and frustrated me in a way. Throughout the majority of the book, we can see Nora behaving as if she was a child while being called names of a small frivolous figure such as “Little Songbird, Little Squirrel, Skylark and little dove.” We see Nora except these names, and it is incredibly frustrating to watch, I found the urge to just want her to stand up for herself and truly speak out of her own opinion. I did not understand why Ibsen didn’t write the play in order to show how strong Nora could be and how women should not be treated as pets and as people with the same feelings as men.

I disliked Nora’s character at the beginning of this book, but towards the end of Act three, her character began to make sense to me. At the beginning of the book, Nora’s spoiled attitude towards everything was annoying, for example when Mrs. Linde comes back into Nora’s life for the first time in years, she has had a rough ten years up to this point and explains it to Nora. Nora realizing this has an incredibly rude reaction, saying. “To be so utterly alone. What a heavy sadness that must be for you. I have three lovely children. Though you can’t see them at the moment, they’re out with their nanny. But now you must tell me everything.” (P. 116) This quote to me shows how clueless Nora is to how society is, she seems to think that everyone is just like her with plenty of money, kids, and a big warm house to live comfortably in with your family. She has been sheltered so much that these things do not occur to her in conversation and make her character come off as uneducated and ignorant. Ibsen Redeems Nora’s character in the book but does not do it until the last ten pages! Nora realizes after Torvald is finished being angry with her about the Loan that he is not the man that she in love with. She takes it into her own hands to then Leave her family and find herself in the world and how society actually is instead of living the masked version of life as she has been. This was the turning point in the book that I had been waiting for the whole time. Nora finally realizes the way she has been living and becomes an individual who makes her own decisions and this to me redeemed Nora’s character.

This book made me think about we as humans are able to make life barrable to continue waking up every day with something to work towards. Nora had no work to feel accomplished about or to work towards. Don’t get me wrong being a mother comes with lots of work on its own, but Nora did not do this work, the maids did the hard work of taking care of the kids. What I’m trying to say is, when a person is living comfortably with nothing to work towards since everything you have is fed to you, you begin to think about what your purpose is and what you are doing in life. Work is a necessary part of living it helps to have something to live for and a purpose. This reminds me of Brave new world in the sense that people cannot live a masked version of life constantly. Instead, they need to become conscious of what the real world is like, in Brave new world the people live constantly on the drug Soma just to consistently stay happy and not have worries about anything as if they were robots. Mrs. Linde also shows this when talking to Krogstad “I have to work if I am to endure this life. Every waking day, as far back as I can remember, I’ve worked and it’s been my only and greatest joy.” (P.167) Mrs. line needs work in order to survive and to her is her only joy. In order to stay content as a society, we need work to help motivate us to get up in the mornings and continue living.

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Personal Response: A Doll’s House

“A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen is about love, hate, and trust. With love, you have Dr. Rank secretly loving Nora and finally confessing it later in the play, (Act II, pg. 150-155), Krogstad who loved Kristine years ago, and Nora’s and Torvald’s (Questionable) love. With hate, you have again Nora and Torvald at the end of the story, and Nora plus Torvald hating Krogstad throughout the play for the things he has done. But the big factor that comes into this play is trust. Putting trust in someone you strongly dislike is a dangerous game, like Nora and Krogstad had to do when Krogstad was blackmailing her and she had to promise she would get his job back (Act I, pg. 130-136). Then you have Nora and Torvald’s dilemma. Nora is keeping all these little promises and lying to Torvald throughout the play, and that break of trust at the end of the play when Torvald finds out what happened (Act III, pg. 177-188).

My thoughts on the play are quite mixed. It was a good read but got very boring at times. I felt that there was too much talking between characters and a lot of useless dialogue that did not need to be added. Then the characters weren’t developed enough. They felt so simple and nothing interesting about them and didn’t feel likable. One thing I didn’t understand is Nora forging the contract. Wouldn’t she have done a better job of putting the date of the signature? And why did she even admit to forging it? Everything would’ve been better off if she just left it as it was. For the setting, I didn’t understand the layout. They made it sound very confusing and did not know if it was a house or an apartment complex.
The one big thing I liked about this play was the plot. I felt they did a good job on building it and the diversity it had, like the writer mixing the dark and light sides of the story. I was quite confused about the language of the play. Even though it was set in the mid 19th century, it left like it wasn’t set back then.

One character I thought had the most build-up/developed was Krogstad. For me, he was considered the “villain” for a majority of the play, but once you consider that he just wanted to keep his job so he can feed and take care of his kids, you might have second thoughts if he was the villain, or if he just desperate and went into territory he didn’t want to step in. The one character that didn’t get enough attention in my opinion was Kristine. She played an important role in the play because if it wasn’t for her, Krogstad would not have gone and not have helped Nora from Torvald. My least favourite character was Torvald. Overall did not like him as a character. He was very diverse with emotion toward Nora and a few other characters. For example: When he found out about the forgery that Nora committed, he wanted to kill her, but once it was cleared up at that exact moment, he looked like nothing had happened and he loved her again (Act III, pg. 177-188).

Overall, it was quite a confusing read, but for the most part, I enjoyed reading it and was wondering what would happen next. A few of the characters could have had better development, and the setting could have been more straight-forward, but still an intriguing play.

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Personal Response: A Doll’s House

In A Doll’s House by Henik Ibsen, we are introduced to the marriage of Nora Helmer and Torvald Helmer. Nora is introduced to us as a pretty and cheerful woman living out her days as a mother and wife. Torvald Helmer is represented as cold and strict, where his transitional views carry the play. Throughout the play, we slowly see the unraveling of their marriage, and Nora’s perspective of her own life changes dramatically.

I thoroughly enjoy this play, and it’s important input about gender roles and women rights. At times, it made me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed, mostly to do with Torvald and Nora’s relationship. Nora’s first appearance seems like she was there to “represent” all women of that time. She seemed naive and silly, brought up in a world where her only importance was to look pretty and bare children. She delightfully took the role as Torvald’s wife.“To be so utterly alone. What a heavy sadness that must be for you. I have three lovely children. Though you can’t see them at the moment, they’re out with their nanny. But now, you must tell me everything—“ (pg.116) Even when talking to a close friend, she only talks about herself, completely ignoring the fact that Ms. Linde has gone through the ringer. I thought this showed a lack of character, careless for others. As the play continues, we see her own selfish show again. When speaking to Dr. Rank in Act 2, he is expressing his troubles to her, and in response she states “Oh, you’re being quite unreasonable today. And just when I wanted you to be in a really good mood.”(pg.151). To me, this shows her lack of sympathy towards others than herself. She doesn’t comfort him but instead tries to manipulate him so she can get what she wants. I started to enjoy her character more in Act 3. It seemed like she completely changed in the span of two days, became a totally different person. I thought it was very impressive of her not only to leave but to talk to Torvald about why she is leaving, “It’s not so late yet. Sit down here, Torvald; you and I have a to talk about.”(pg.181) Running away is one thing, but this is different. She isn’t just leaving her “home”, but is telling him why, hopefully forever leaving an impact in his life. I also think being able to talk about your problems and how someone did you wrong takes a lot of courage, especially for being a woman in that time frame. She was more bold, and didn’t budge when Torvald asked her to stay. I felt more connected to her when she stood up to him, showing that she now wants to go and make her own in the world.

A Doll’s House shows us Nora’s breakdown of her “reality”, and her breaking free from society’s grasp on women. She is no longer playing a role, but becoming her own person. Even if she still carries some flaws, she is doing all of us a favour by standing up for what she believes in.

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Personal response: A Doll’s House

Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House was uncomfortable to read for me. I dislike Torvald, not because of how he appears as an antagonist where he loathes borrowing a loan even if it is for his own sake; but it is rather because everything he says is contradictory. When he tells Nora, “I wouldn’t wish you any other way than exactly as you are,” (p. 113) he means that he doesn’t wish Nora any other way than a “song-lark,” a “squirrel,” or a “little spending-bird.” He cannot accept Nora in any other way and calls her “a hypocrite, a liar,” and a “criminal” when he finds out. (p. 178) He cannot accept the depth of Nora’s character and truly treats her like his possession; an object.  When Nora  finally talks to him on equal terms, he said, “you talk like a child.” (p. 185) However, when Nora acts like an actual child and asks for his guidance, he accepts it happily, which I find incredibly hypocritical and uneasy to watch. When Nora leaves him at the end, I thought I would be happy because Torvald is left alone and got what he deserved, but instead, it was not satisfying and I ended up feeling bad for Torvald. “To part—to part from you! Nora, I can’t grasp the thought.” (p. 187) Although Torvald remains masculine and a “husband-like” image throughout the play, he is fragile in the sense that he is afraid of living without Nora, even though he has less to lose than her. However, even though I feel bad for him, I still can’t forgive him especially when he proposed “but then can’t we live here as brother and sister–?” (p. 187) I wonder why do some people think this is even possible? Even till the end of the play, Torvald still cannot understand why Nora decides to leave him and the children, which upsets me the most.

I didn’t like Nora as a character at first, and I didn’t pity her very much or treat her as a victim. I thought she placed herself in the situation, and I particularly didn’t like how she borrowed a loan without understanding exactly how to repay it. “These kinds of transactions, you see, are so extremely difficult to keep track of.” (p. 123) But she didn’t have any other options other than to urgently borrow money to save Torvald’s life. If I were Nora, I wouldn’t have done any better. I also think she is far from ready to raise three children, even with the help of maids and a nanny.

Helmer: Not–? Not happy?

Nora: No; just cheerful. And you’ve always been so kind to me. But our home has never been anything other than a play-house. I’ve been your doll-wife here, just as at home I was Daddy’s doll-child. And the children, they have in turn been my dolls.” (p. 183)

It is not because of Nora’s “moral flaw” that makes her unqualified as a mother. It is because of how she has never fulfilled any duties to herself, or to live as a human being that makes her unable to bring up her children.

I felt very uncomfortable and confused as I read this play. But I conclude it is because of how I was able to relate to it, that I disliked it. However, I think all the characters in this play are equally as pitiful.

 

 

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Personal Response to A Doll’s House

Throughout a large portion of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Nora leads a pleasant, mundane life. Filled with Torvald’s stern finger wagging (p. 113) and Nora’s pretty responses like, “Yes, yes, as you wish” (p. 111), the entire balance of their relationship is established. Nora never threatens Torvald’s “manly self-esteem” (p. 122), so long as he keeps providing her with a comfortable lifestyle and spending-money. Torvald calls Nora his “squirrel”, his “songbird”, his “spendthrift”, and rather than annoyance, she receives those possessive pet-names with affection and silliness. At the start of this play, I was filled with anticipation for Nora’s anger to finally surface. However, at every moment where I felt my own rage toward Torvald, she seems perfectly fine with his patriarchal, paternal actions and words. Their marriage feels more playful than anything else—like a game between a father and his beloved little girl. Torvald indulges on Nora’s frivolity and childlike behaviours, whereas Nora indulges on Torvald’s earnings. It is only at her rather late breaking-point that Nora finally realizes this: the fact that as husband and wife, they have never once “exchanged a serious word about serious things” (p. 182).

Nora doesn’t experience a lengthy buildup to the culmination of this play. She doesn’t gather clues or data points supporting the toxicity of their relationship. She doesn’t consult a friend on her concerns. In fact, she doesn’t even have concerns needing to be addressed, other than the money she borrowed to save Torvald. She appears to lack perspective and intelligence, especially when talking to Kristine in Act I, yet we begin to see that perhaps that’s a product of the environment she has been raised and placed in,

Torvald: You talk like a child. You don’t understand the society you live in. 

Nora: No, I don’t. But I intend to look into it. I must find out who is right, society or me. (p. 185)

Within this dialogue, Torvald attempts to gaslight Nora—to convince her that she’s being a naive child. In return, Nora provides a sophisticated response, questioning the role we all play in society. Is it our jobs to uphold societal standards when they’re perpetuating harm? Is it our duty to combat these stereotypes and norms, in order to create change? If her surrounding society has been teaching her that she’s nothing more than a silly, frivolous, scatterbrained woman her whole life, why would she act any differently? Why would she try to prove them wrong, especially since her life isn’t even bad? She has been assimilated into a typical 19th century daughter and wife—into a doll. The pinnacle of this play doesn’t occur incrementally, it’s more of a flipped switch in Nora’s mind. When Torvald doesn’t defend her after discovering that she borrowed money, she has an important realization: Torvald is only a loving husband in the good moments, which is negated by his anger and distance in this particular bad moment. When she’s conforming to a subservient position as his ideal doll, he’s satisfied, but when she acts like an actual human being—strong, imperfect, and real—he shows hostility.

In several ways, our current society reflects the one presented in A Doll’s House. Femininity is often associated with sensitivity, sweetness, modesty, and fragility, whereas masculinity is associated with strength, independence, assertiveness, and bravery. These stereotypical gender roles continuously put stress on both men and women, not to mention how non inclusive they are to those who are nonbinary. When we assign these qualities and establish this social construct, we are creating a sense of invalidity for many. In this play, Nora tells Kristine about the business she has been conducting, and says, “It was almost as though I was a man” (p. 123). For doing something as unrelated to gender as business ought to be, she feels detached from womanhood. As we witness through Nora, gender norms give people a false impression of who they can and cannot be. They build boundaries, enforce segregation. Then, when people combat these stereotypes, they are often met with problematic, even dangerous responses. Perhaps, breaking down these boundaries is exactly what we need to thrive as a society. Everyone should have the right to emulate and challenge these norms, without being forced to question their own identities (though they certainly can if they want to!). So much has changed between our society and Ibsen’s one, hopefully indicating that this progression will come, as well.

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A Doll’s House: Personal Response

For me, “A Doll’s House,” by Henrik Ibsen, raised many questions about what it takes to work a marriage and why development is essential for every individual. The play focuses on patriarchal male figures and the oppression of women in the 1800s. It expresses how women weren’t capable of much other than housekeeping, mentioning their “duty” was to take care of their family before themselves.

My opinions and feelings towards the characters fluctuate throughout the play. At first, I was aware of Nora being a somewhat brave character, someone who took a risk to save her husband’s life, but as the play developed, she was portrayed as this naive and childish character. “Come here. Now I will show you that I too have something to be proud and glad of. It was I who saved Torvald’s life.” (A1. P13). It’s immature of Nora to prove herself to anyone or explain she has been through difficult times by telling them her most confidential secret. I think she might so desperately want to prove herself because she has been looked down upon for a long time. Reading through Nora’s character in the play, I realized that some of the things she says or does are infuriating. “You must be a very poor lawyer, Mr. Krogstad.” (A1. P26). She is not witty, confident in herself, or convincible; I say this because she often sobs or stutters as she presents her argument. My detestation towards Nora grew tremendously in Act 2; she overreacted to the most invaluable circumstances and became more stubborn as the play continued. “…but you could just as well dismiss some other clerk instead of Krogstad.” (A2. P36). It’s surprising that Nora only cares about herself and is ready to sacrifice anyone for the sake of her stability. Coming towards the end of Act 3, it was startling to find myself quite proud of Nora as she made a brave decision to leave Torvald. I completely agree with her because it is important to discover yourself before helping others, she finally stepped up for herself, and I am delighted with her conclusion. 

Opposite to Nora’s naive character is Torvald, an arrogant and oppressive male who cares about nothing but his reputation and career. He constantly referred to Nora as a helpless little girl, his dearest treasure (A3. P60), that shouldn’t do anything but look after the family.  “Miserable creature — what have you done?”(A3. P65). I think he tremendously overreacted when he became aware of Nora’s deeds; she was right to do what she did as she had good intentions. “a hypocrite, a liar– worse, worse — a criminal!” (A3. P66). Torvald cursed at her repeatedly but just a few minutes later had a change of heart and pretended to be the sweetest husband ever. I think he is helpless without Nora.

Nora and Torvald did not have a successful marriage as neither of them understood each other. People need to realize that women have passions too, everyone has a different way of living life, and some might choose to take other paths instead of being housewives. In the end, “A Doll’s House” is one of my most disliked plays; while reading it, I felt as if I were analyzing and solving a family dispute and playing the role of a therapist.

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Great literature does not send messages! It raises questions and explores possibilities.