Letter to School Board

17 January 2021

Acme Central High School

123 Acme Way

Acme, BC A1B 2C3

 

Dear fellow colleagues:

 

I acknowledge that one of the English literature courses reading material, the novel The Color Purple in specific, has raised some questions for one of our parents.

 

Us here at the English department chose this novel in the first place for its cultural significance, its gender significance, and its ethnical significance. The book has various graphically unpleasing descriptions of what’s going on, yes. But as a Grade 12 student, students are well capable to perceive this as a bad behaviour. If not identified by themselves, the main character’s descriptions of her emotions could help them see that this is not something pleasant. The purpose of these early sufferings is to contrast what’s to come, and what’s to become, of the same group of characters. Through the novel, they go through a series of inspiring transformations, learning how to stand up for themselves, and even gain independence, during a time where neither gender nor ethnic rights are established.

 

As for the “ungrammatical, non-standard” English, after a full, thorough reading of the novel, you should be able to understand that this is done on purpose to demonstrate the main character’s self-development. Celie’s letters are getting longer, and structured better, with right tenses. This is a literature class after all, not Grade 5, students chose to enrol this course (which is harder than the language course) because they are competent enough at language already.

 

I believe the appropriate outcome of a secondary education is not to imagine the world as castles and flowers, but instead, the capability to determine the good and bad in the world. This novel will bring the students just that, with knowledge on what’s bad, what’s good, and how to deal with the respective people/situation. It’s a book of pain, suffering, sexists, racists, yes. But it is also a book of self-encouragement, dignity, perseverance, and love. I don’t believe there are any other books able to provide the students with these.

 

 

ACHS English Department Head

123 Acme Way

Acme, BC A1B 2C3

 

cc:       Joseph Shmo, Frederic Klutz

 

 

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English: PR to MoV

In The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, revenge is in some ways justified but in other cases is not. The difference between right and wrong when it comes to revenge is similar to the difference between Christians and Jews. This difference is what makes Shylock’s desire for revenge justified.

The act of revenge due to abuse is justified when it comes to Shylocks life but not the Christians’ lives. Shylock wanted revenge for how Antonio treated him. “You call me misbeliever, cut-throat dog, / And spit upon my Jewish gaberdine, / And all for use of that which is mine own” (Act 1, Scene 3, ll. 106-108). Words are harmful but they can be ignored, but when Antonio continuously bad-mouthed Shylock to the point where Shylock’s religion was being treated like trash is what resulted in Shylock revolting. What pushed Shylock over the edge was him losing his daughter and his money to a Christian. His actions towards revenge at first seemed unjust but in the end, when Shylock’s religion was thrown away we felt empathy for him… Now the Jews were in the right while the Christians were in the wrong, but Shylock being by himself against many Christians the chances of him succeeding in his revenge was almost impossible.

Revenge cannot be justified as right when there is a chance that someone will suffer. Shylocks revenge was fueled by rage and hatred towards Antonio. He decided that making a loan and acting kindly towards Antonio will aid him later on with his true desire…

“O father Abram, what these Christians are, / Whose own hard dealings teaches them suspect / The thoughts of others! Pray you tell me this: / If he should break his day what should I gain / By the exaction of the forfeiture? / A pound of man’s flesh, taken from a man, / Is not so estimable, profitable neither, / As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats. I say / To buy his favour, I extend this friendship. / If he will take it, so; if not adieu, / And for my love, I pray you wrong me not” (Act 1, Scene 3, ll. 156-166).

He wanted to kill Antonio by using a loan they both signed. His desire to kill Antonio because of hatred was unjust because although Antonio might have harmed Shylock mentally he did not physically harm Shylock. Antonio deserved to apologize at least to Shylock but this was never going to be enough because with his daughter gone, Shylock had barely any money and no one on his side, all he had was himself and his religion.

The difference between what is right and what is wrong is like the difference between Christians and Jews, they can never accept each other. “Certainly the Jew is the very devil incarnation, / and, in my conscience, my conscience is but a kind of / hard conscience to offer to counsel me to stay with the / Jew” (Act 2, Scene 1, ll. 24-27). Neither religion is right or wrong in a sense. They act based on how they have been raised. If calling the other a devil lives up to the normal standard of life then they do not deserve to be called people.  While Christians prominently overrule Jews both want mercy for different reasons… Jews meaning Shylock alone wants mercy for his religion, he wants to be respected for who he is, he is tired of being shunned by the Christians. The Christians want Shylock to show mercy to Antonio, they want mercy but we can see that when they made Shylock beg for his life they did not show him any mercy whatsoever. It seems as if their actions are lies for the truth, wanting mercy vs actually showing mercy, the Christians truly are terrible people towards Jews. Christians and Jews within this story seem as if they will never respect one another, if Antonio was to have never provoked Shylock maybe Shylock would have been able to save his identity. Without his identity, without any sign of mercy from anyone around him Shylock was no longer a Jew, he was no longer himself.

The effect that inflicting revenge can have on a person or group of people will never result in anything good. Revenge is fueled by hatred, by a change in your life that you can’t accept and this is exactly what we saw in Shylock’s case. He lost everything in the end because of revenge. What good did it bring him to try and force change upon the Christians? Nothing good came out of his actions… All that came was more pain and more loss for his already broken character.

 

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The color of purple response

Joseph Shmo, Principal
Acme Central High School
123 Acme Way
Acme, BC A1B 2C3

Dear Mr. Shmo and school board,

I am writing to you on behalf of the English department of Acme Central High School to address your concern about the novel “The color of Purple” that is being analyzed by grade 12 students.

As educators, we analyze the novels that we believe will bring the best ideas and that would raise questions to the students, for this motive is that we thought that the novel “the color of purple” would be a good work for our students as it analyzes strong themes and ideas such as religion, race, love, family, marriage, among others.

How in the very first page of the book Celie is raped by her father is a strong introduction to the novel that discusses violence, however, we learn to continue to read the novel we see how almost at the last pages of the book she learns to stand for herself. I think it is an important lesson that our students can learn from.

We agree that the author of this novel uses strong language, however, it is why we chose this novel only for grade 12 students, as they are mature enough to understand this strong language and topics, we understand that some of this main themes may not seem as a good example for students as they discuss violence and the way men mistreat women, however, we believe that it is an issue that should be analyze by the students for them to learn from the characters what is right and wrong about the novel’s ideas and questions this arises. We also believe that the novel expresses the harsh circumstances and limited opportunities of poor, uneducated women before the civil rights movement, as well as a woman’s inspiring journey from abuse to independence and self-actualization.

Please if you have any other concerns, we look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Head of English Department

Acme Central High School

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English department at Acme Central High School

January 16th, 2021.

Dear Acme School District Board of Education:

I am writing this letter to address Tiffany’s father’s concern about the book, The Color Purple. This letter will explain why this book is an appropriate choice for novel study and why it is a valuable work of literature.

The Color Purple is a unique work of literature that presents diverse global issues throughout the book; however, the important thing is how the writer decided to develop those global issues with a unique form, content, and diction.

Mainly The Color Purple follows along with the personal growth of the main character, named Celie. Throughout the book, Celie experiences traumatic situations that affect her self-esteem and view of the world. Celie lives in a world of brutality, where there is abuse to women, oppression, racism, among other situations, and she is a victim of all of them. Celie’s primary goal in life was to survive, and in her perspective, to survive in a world of brutality, it was vital to keep her head down, the mouth shout, and have hope that things would change someday.

Furthermore, Celie starts meeting people who change her perspective about the world and show her that she can fight back. Two main characters helped Celie in this process. The one that Celie meets first is Sofia. She is described as “solid-like if she sits down on something, it be mash” (p.34). Afterward, Celie meets Shug, the other powerful woman who gains her independence by taking advantage of her singing talent. Thanks to this powerful woman, it gets to a point where Celie starts fighting against herself and the people who mistreated her. However, how did these two women made Celie change her mind? These two women impacted her by making her feel loved, supported, valuable, and capable of speaking up.

The book’s form is not written as a typical novel, as the book consists of different letters. In the beginning, it was Celie who started writing letters to God. Afterward, other people’s letters appear in the book, for example, Nettie’s, which gives the reader different viewpoints. However, the letters help the reader recognize how Celie is becoming stronger and starts loving and respecting herself. About the diction, Celie was taken out of school because she was pregnant. Therefore, that is why she does not have good grammar either vocabulary at the beginning of the book. Furthermore, as the book goes by and Celie starts loving herself and wanting to learn, her grammar changes abysmally.

The novel The Color Purple is appropriate for Grade 12 students as it is an excellent example of the power of love, the importance of self-esteem, the importance of respect, and inclusion. It makes the students raise questions, reflect and notice that those global issues are real and those situations still happen nowadays. This book has won various awards, such as Winner Of the National Book, among others. Finally, seniors are mature now; in some months, they will be out of high school, and they must be aware of the issues that happen every day around the world. They need to be aware of them to make a change.

Sinceraly,

Andrea Tovilla

 

 

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The Color Purple Letter Response

16 February 2021

Joseph Shmo, Principal                                                                                                       Acme Central High School 123 Acme Way                                                           Acme BC A1B 2C3

Dear Mr. Shmo,

I am the parent of sarah in the grade 12 class, and a dear friend of Mr. Klitz. It has come to my attention that you are letting your students read The Color Purple and didnt think to talk to the parents about this. I have read that book myself and i strongly disagree on the fact that students ages of 16 and 17 should be reading a book which touches the topic of rape and abuse.

Its the fact that i heard about this, not from my own daughter, but from the daughter of Mr. Klutz. Because of the lessons you teach, she believes that reading about rape and abuse at a young age, is not something to tell her own mother. Dont get me wrong, i love the fact that our children are reading books about the real life, but these are negative and scary things in our world that they dont need to know about just yet.

I hope you will take into consideration the idea of informing parents if a book seems like a mature reading topic. I think parents should have a say, and should be knowledgeable about what their kids are learning.  As this is the first time something like this has happened, I wont go to the school board, but if my child comes home with another innapropriate book, i will have to.

Sincerely,

Susan Wells

Susan Wells
456 Banana Tree Lane
Acme, BC A1B 2C3

 

 

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The Color Purple Response – Josefa

Dear, Mr. klutz

I am writing to you on behalf of the English department at Acme Central High School regarding the letter received by you talking about the book “The color Purple”. I understand your concern for this book and the topics that are referenced in this literary piece, but here in Acme High School, we think that this book is a very valuable work of art.

The book has won various awards, one of them the Pulitzer Prize, and the teachers and faculty of the school think it has valuable literary content and it talks about important issues on our society. One of your concerns is about vocabulary in the book. The author tries to make the book as realistic as possible; the book is written in a diary form or letters that are sent to “god” by the main character “Celie”. The characters are African American and during the time period it was supposed to be based on this people talked poorly English. That is why it is written like that. Not because the author has bad grammar. We think this is helpful for the students to understand better the time period and race of the characters, this is a very important factor on the book. The class your daughter is involved in is English Literature, not only English as a language and we believe that by showing this type of writing to our students will help to their learning.

If you still think that the book should be taken from the curriculum, we would be okay by doing so but we believe that this book is a good example of fine Literature for our students. I’m looking forward for your response and if you have any further questions, I am here to answer them.

 

The Acme Central High School English Department

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Dear Principle Shmo…

16 January 2021 

Joseph Shmo, Principal 

Acme Central High School 123 Acme Way
Acme, BC A1B 2C3 

Dear Mr. Shmo: 

I am writing to address my support concerning the text in question as Mr. Klutz had Brough up in his letter. I too have a daughter in grade 12 at Acme Central High School and upon reading the text my daughter brought home, I am appalled that a letter was not sent home to the parents prior to the school assigning the book. 

I am aware that such events do occur in the world, however, it is not a subject matter that I am comfortable with my 17 year old daughter reading. I myself read the book when I was in my second year of my undergrad program and I recall that it was a challenge to process and recover emotionally.

Knowing my daughter, the idea of a father raping his own daughter is not an easy image to get out of her head. Having read the book already, I was able to reassure her that Mr. was not her biological father. However, seeing the relief in her face when I told her was almost worse, as the idea of a man raping a woman was somehow more acceptable, witch is not the message I want my children to be learning in their early education. 

The book is about personal growth, and as a person, it is easy to relate and sympathies. This brings up numerous problems later on in the book as the women in the book is constantly abused, physically and emotionally, causing much grievance for the audience. 

After reading the book, the reader achieves a feeling of growth, and reflection. “Quote”. How one person can pick themselves out of a 

The book in question provides enlightenment towards gender roles of the past and opens the readers eyes to the events of the past. However, if we as a society want to move away from repeating those events, it is important to briefly explain the importance of progress, but not being submerged into the subject so that it engulfs their lives. 

Another aspect of this book that does not sit well is the books portrayal of black men. As we approach a time in history where we have the potential to eliminate racial injustice, I find this book counterintuitive with the portrayal of black men in this time period so bad. The men in the story are seen as rapists, molesters, and abusive towards their wives and the women in the story. Such portrayal of black men is also unacceptable as the story focuses on how they treat Celie, they are portrayed as the enemy, generalizing the way that they are seen. 

As art is supposed to raise questions, this book does such, asking us to think what is accepted by ourselves versus society, who are we, on a quest for personal growth, and many others. However, as all the questions raised might not be suitable for readers at such an age, leading to my subjection that the school should firstly; inform the parents that such material is being presented to their children, and secondly; not be a mandatory read for those students who choose to not read the book. 

The benefits of reading such novels is evident for a portion of students, but for the majority of them, at such a young age, the damage created is immense. 

This bringing my concern for this work of literature being presented to the young readers at Acme Central High School in the grade 12 class, I would like to show my support for the request by Mr. Klutz that the book be removed from the curriculum. 

Sincerely, 

Attachment.png

Mr.____

458 Banana Tree Lane 

Acme, BC A1B 3C4 

cc: Acme School District Board of Education 

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The Color Purple For or Against

Hello Superintendent and School Board,

I am the head of the English department at Acme Central High School. I am writing to you to address concerns which have been expressed about the novel currently being studied by the Grade 12 English class, The Color Purple. A certain Mr. Klutz was the first to bring these concerns to our attention. I can see how parents may have concerns about the content. I believe that by the time students have reached grade 12, most are mature enough to cope with possibly graphic and mature content in the reading material assigned to them. When we asked the students how they felt about the novel, they said that it was no worse than things shown on the news, and that they knew that things happen in real life like those in the novel. They also knew that it was a work of fiction and said that when something really disturbing did happen, they were able to remind themselves that it was not real. I believe, and most of the students agreed with me, that The Color Purple also has a lot of value as a work of art. If people look at this novel with face value, then they will think that it is a book filled with pointless violence and sexual acts. However, if the book is studied closely, you will find out that it has many important themes. the importance of strong female relationships, the importance of being able to express one’s thoughts, racism and sexism and how they run in a cycle, and disrupting traditional gender roles. It can be difficult to break our views on what is good or bad information for our children, but it is important to understand that just because a novel has subject material we may not agree with, does not mean it does not have important themes. The author may just be taking a different approach to expressing these themes, and not being as straight forward with telling you what they are.

 

 

I hope this information has helped inform you as to why we have assigned this novel for the Grade 12 students, and will help the parents of these students change their views on this book.

 

Thank You for Your Time,

Kenneth Grenneth

Head of English Department

Acme Central High School

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The Merchant Of Venice, Does Money Corrupt Us?

Does money automatically corrupt us, is there a way to be wealthy/rich without changing for the money. Why does money tempt us to do things that we wouldn’t if it was not involved? How much control do we have over our own decisions with money implanted within our lives 24/7? Is it possible to stay the same person with a clear open mindset or do our minds become diluted with numbers and status? The Merchant of Venice’ has examples of this question throughout the book.

It is a well-known fact that people naturally change their behavior when put in certain situations, these situations could be from stress, popularity and of course what I will be talking about, MONEY. We see the theme of money and love being put together throughout this book and I found it interesting to see how much money meant, and what people would do for it. Bassanio gives an example of it almost immediately after getting engaged to Portia the wealthy beautiful princess. He says “When I told you My state was nothing, I should have told you that I was worse than nothing; for indeed I have Engaged myself to a dear friend, Engaged my friend to his mere enemy, To feed my means.”   (Act 3, Scene 2, L 256) Bassanio reveals that he is indeed in debt and needs help from Portia’s wealth. Portia’s wealth is the driving factor for Bassanio to make the trip to her in order to marry her so that he could use her wealth to solve his issues he has seemed to help stir up involving his dear friend Antonio. Bassanio changes for the money and in the long run, it almost ends up costing his friend’s life. This to me is Someone acting for someone they do not care much for in order to inhabit their riches which is changing for the money. In the merchant of Venice this act does not Completely corrupt Bassanio, but it seems to me as though he was spared.

Some people are not able to stay mentally sane with vast amounts of money. With money comes people and people bring issues, it seems harsh but, everyone has an opinion that they want to have heard. It’s a lot of work to try not to mess up anything and only do good things for people or whatever it is. Portia In this Play does seem to be able to handle her wealth mindfully and does not seem to do anything wrong, she seems like the perfect woman to marry for a man back then. But does Portia use her wealth for good or bad? When she goes to the trial to help Bassanio save his friend Antonio, she does end up proving Shylock’s wrong, who wants Antonio dead. But she does not only prove him wrong she destroys him by tearing away have of what he owns. Is this good or bad is a question I still ask. Should she have given shylock some mercy?

Money influences us inevitably it seems. Sometimes worse than others. The money will not always corrupt you but will raise new problems that will be needed to be solved. If the problems are not solved money can corrupt you. The difference between good and bad have a very fine line. It seems impossible to keep someone happy without keeping others angry just like shylock and Bassanio after the Trial.

 

 

 

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Color Purple letter response

21 January 2021

Mr._______, Head of the school board of Acme School District Board of Education 1982 Acme boulevard, BC A3W C4P

Dear Mr._____,

I am writing this letter to express our opinion in regards to the letter you received from Frederic Klutz. In our English department, we chose methodically every single piece of writing, aiming to find the work from which our students can learn the most.

The novel in question is The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. The narrative is a masterpiece where Celie, an African American girl (our protagonist) recites her life through letters to God.

From a teacher’s point of view, there are tons for the students to learn. Staring with the form and vocabulary used by A. Walker. It is written in the first person and takes the structure of a somewhat diary. This allows the reader to personally connect with the character and makes it more realistic. Hand to that the author did a good job with the diction on such letters. For example: “He know anything bout it? ast Mr._____” (p.91). This authenticates the reading, it is written that way on purpose to get a genuine idea of who our characters are. It is not that it is “filled with ungrammatical, non-standard English” but that it is composed by an astonishing, unlike witting technique.

Aside from the form, we justify our choice for the book based on the content. The story is about an African American girl living in Georgia in the early 1900s. Big issues are raised throughout the novel, talking about individual against society; we get the chance to see racism at the time and also the role of women and the adversities they suffered. Furthermore, we get to experience first-hand the character development by the characters. A good example is “Squeak” when she first made her appearance, she was obedient to whatever they told her; but as the story progresses, she starts to grow as a person and asks that people call her by her real name and even peruses her dream of singing even though it was against what Harpo wanted.

This happens all around the book, but it is the most evident and important with Celie the protagonist. I must admit that the bigging is rough, she is a victim in every sense of the word, which is what Mr. Klutz probably read. There is a point where as a reader you almost don’t feel as bad for her because she does nothing to change. However, we learn to understand that being a victim is hard and that getting out of that rabbit hole is hard. As we read more towards the end, Celie learns to love. To love others as family and in a romantic way, but most importantly she learns to love herself.

This Novel is full of erudition, students get the chance of analyzing the development of characters as the content progresses and as the form shifts. I ask that you please consider keeping this book within the program. It is a Pulitzer winner for a reason. If any student believes the content is too harsh, we have no problem change the book for them, but overall, we’ve got a good response from the students.

Sincerely,

The Acme Central High School English Department

Acme Central High School 123 Acme Way
Acme, BC A1B 2C3

cc: Frederic Klutz

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The Colour Purple

Dear, Mr. Klutz

I am writing to you on behalf of the English department at Acme Central High School in regards to your concern about the novel choices for your daughters grade 12 English class. Although I do understand your worries about wether or not this novel is an appropriate choice for grade 12 students, both me and the English department feel that The Color Purple written by Alice Walker is a very valuable book for students to read and learn from.

This story allows the students to see what life was like for these people of a different culture who were living during a different period of time, it shows the struggles they were faced with throughout their lives and how they dealt with them. Two of the main characters Celie and Nettie were both faced with struggles that may appear to be inappropriate and uncomfortable topics shown through how they were beaten and raped by their father and boyfriends. I can see how many people may that these are inappropriate topics for young readers, but I personally feel like these students can learn valuable lessons form the characters because of how they grow into strong and independent women even after everything which they had been to.

After further discussions with our English department regarding your concerns, we do feel that our grade 12 students will soon be graduating and on their way to becoming adults, and that at tis age they are both mature enough and responsible enough to be able to handle reading this type of content. We also feel that despite the intentional grammatical and spelling errors within this novel it connects very well with the English curriculum we have here at the school.

I would also like to suggest to you that you should try reading more of this book as opposed to just skimming through the first portion of it. I feel that by doing this you can gain a better understanding of what the full story is about and how it can help to better your daughters education in her grade 12 English class here at Acme Central High School. By reading this book for yourself, I feel that you can also further talk about the areas of the book or topics that you find may be inappropriate with your daughter, to ensure you fell she is getting the information you feel you want her to have on these topics.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the school with any further questions,

The Acme Central High School English Department

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The Color Purple: For or Against

15 February 2021
Joseph Shmo, Principal
Acme Central High School
123 Acme Way
Acme, BC A1B 2C3

Dear Mr. Shmo,

I am writing to you to express my concerns due to the book your English Department has falsely deemed appropriate for the Grade 12 English Class, The Color Purple, by Alice Walker. Along with Mr.Klutz, I am concerned that my child will be negatively affected by this reading material due to the numerous graphic scenes including rape and physical abuse.

I do not wish for my daughter, Emma-Mae, to be exposed to such things as they go against the beliefs of our Church. Having my Emma-Mae read things that this Celie character is enduring at a similar age to her may give her the wrong impression that the things happening to Celie are normal and that it may be ok for her to stay quiet if these same things happen to her, like Celie did. For example, when Celie is raped by her step-father (p.1). And later on, when Celie is beat by the man she is forced to be married to, “Mr.___ marry me to take care of his children. I marry him cause my daddy made me” (p.62). Mr.___ also beats Celie for not being his dream woman, Shug Avery, who ends up getting into a homosexual relationship with Celie in the end anyhow. “What he beat you for? She ast. For being me and not you” (p.74).

These sorts of ideas are not what I had wished for my daughter to be taught at school. I do not understand what reason their may be for children to read this book. It does not seem to me that there is any educational significance in it that would be useful to my Emma-Mae. From an artistic perspective, I do not see enough artistic evidence in a book about rape culture to hold a significant place in the education system. You may have simply approved the title but did not look into the contents of the book before allowing the book to be shared in classrooms in your school community. If this is the case, please let me know as I would hope you have a reasonable response as to why you have allowed such erroneous reading material for your young and impressionable students.

I will be attending the next Board of Education meeting in support of Mr.Klutz if this issue is not resolved before then.

Sincerely,

Karen McMann,

President of the PAC Committee at Acme Central High School

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The Color Purple for or against

Dear Mr. Klutz,

I understand your concern about the book we have assigned our English students to read, however, I believe you may have misjudged the novel. Firstly, although I agree that some scenes could be obscene, I believe that every kid is exposed to these kinds of material due to their use of social networks. Most of our grade 12 students are about to become adults and we believe that they are mature enough for this kind of content. Besides, this book in my opinion is of high value to any reader.

In the novel, it is noticeable how the environment in which a person grows can highly affect the way in which they know how to react to certain situations. For example, when Shug Avery tells Mr.____ and Celie to go to a “pub”, Mr.___ says how Celie couldn´t go because “wives don´t go to places like that” (The Color Purple pp. 72). If it wasn´t for Shug, Celie would´ve not gone and she would not even complain about it. Because of the environment in which she grew, she has learned not to fight back, but just to listen and obey. This may help students understand why Celie acts how she does. The book clearly portraits the role of African American women or housewives in the early 1900s. I believe this kind of knowledge is crucial, especially in current times since in the latest years the women´s rights movement is in awe. The one thing I particularly liked is how strong relationships are formed throughout the novel. Although some characters at first may have had any sort of dispute, later they come to help each other out. When Sofia and Squeak (Mary Agnes) first meet, “Sofia ball up her fist, drawback, and knock two of Squeak´s side teef out” (The Color Purple pp.88). One would expect that they would hate each other, but to our surprise, they don´t. Later, after Sofia gets into trouble Squeak tries to bail her out of jail (The Color Purple pp. 93). Also, the book does a very good job of demonstrating how people change. Throughout the first half of the book, most readers will dislike Albert (Mr.___), and of course, this makes sense since he treats Celie like garbage. But at one point, he becomes a better person, or at least he tries to, he even begins doing chores “He work real hard too… He out there in the field… even cook…” (The Color Purple pp. 222). This happens after he gets very “sick”, and not only you may start disliking him less, but also feel sympathy towards him. Eventually, Celie starts to see him as someone she can talk to. Celie forgives him.  Finally, as you stated in your email, most of the book is “filled with ungrammatical, non-standard English”. Despite the great amount of grammatical and spelling mistakes, this book shows to our students the importance of receiving an education. The way in which someone writes has a great impact on the image the readers portray of the writer. This will hopefully encourage students to work harder and improve their writing skills.

I truly believe that The Color Purple is a book that can benefit your daughter in many ways and I would definitely not only encourage her to read the book but to you as well.

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The Color Purple Response (2) Eloise

15 February 2021

Joseph Shmo, Principal

Acme Central High School

123 Acme Way

Acme, BC A1B 2C3

Dear Mr. Shmo, and others whom this may concern,

Similar to Fred Klutz, I am worried about our children reading the book The Color purple. Although it may provide a historical view on how Black women are being treated, I highly disagree with promoting rape culture. Many students in your English 12 classes are young women who need to be taught how to stay safe, not that it should be ignored. Our daughters need to know they are safe to say something if they feel uncomfortable or if something happens to them and this book portrays the idea that they should not. The book clearly suggests that women should keep being sexually assaulted by men a secret, as Celie does after being raped by her step father (pg. 1).

This book also presents the idea that it is okay for men to beat their wives or other women in their life. This idea is even at one point suggested by Celie on page 36 when Harpo wants Sofia to act like his dog. Not only is that another statement that beating women is a good way to get them to listen and do what their told, it again makes it seem that women don’t have any support when something happens.

The only section of the book that I could understand teaching to young women is Sofia and Shig standing up for themselves, however both of those ideas got shot down. Sofia ends up being taken to jail for 12 years for her actions (pg. 84). And Shug Avery repetitively gets called a whore.

I understand that the beliefs were different back then and it is not the same as how we live now, but I do not believe this book is suitable for such a vulnerable group of students.

I hope you will take to consideration our concerns.

Warm Regards

Susan Jennifer

cc: Acme School District Board of Education

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Personal Response to The Merchant Of Venice

Love is such a broad word, but we use it to describe so many things. The Merchant of Venice portrays the complexity of love, as it often associates love with the desire for wealth, power, and beauty.

“Pure Love” is different from marriage. When Portia makes her first appearance in the play, she complains, “But this reasoning is not in the fashion to choose me a husband.” (Act 1, Scene 2, ll. 20,21) We see that she desires to marry someone she has affection for, but she has no choice; her marriage is determined by “chance”. As Bassanio opens the casket and marries Portia, we temporarily forget that marriage doesn’t necessary require love. Portia has long hinted to us, “In terms of choice I am not solely led/ By nice direction of a maiden’s eyes.” (Act 2, Scene 1, ll. 13, 14) Thus, there isn’t “pure love” in marriage.

The relationship between Jessica and Lorenzo is another example of how we must not confuse marriage with love. There is no doubt that Lorenzo and Jessica adore each other, but there are many hints in the play where Lorenzo associates his affection for Jessica with the amount of fortune Jessica takes from her father. “She hath directed / How I shall take her from her father’s house, / What gold and jewels she is furnish’d with, What page’s suit she hath in readiness.” (Act 2, Scene 5, ll. 29-32) Jessica has “hath prov’d herself” by bringing her dowry and converting to a Christian, thus she is “wise, fair, and true,” and only then can she be “placed” in Lorenzo’s “constant soul.” (Act 2, Scene 6, ll. 53-58)

Jessica’s love towards Lorenzo is not pure love either. As she talks about the “tediousness” of her father and her house, she immediately feels guilty, but quickly diminishes this guilt by thinking about Lorenzo. “Alack, what heinous sin is it in me / To be asham’d to be my father’s child! / But though I am a daughter to his Blood / I am not to his manners. O Lorenzo, / If thou keep promise, I shall end this strife, / Become a Christian and thy loving wife.” (Act 2, Scene 3, ll. 15-20) If she doesn’t take her own dowry and marry Lorenzo, she will likely marry someone Shylock choses. Then again, we see how marriage doesn’t necessarily require love, and especially “pure and true love.”

In The Merchant of Venice, marriage is portrayed as the exchange of power. And love cannot survive without it. Portia willingly gives Bassanio her “powers”; “yet for you / I would be trebled twenty times myself, / A thousand times more fair, ten thousand times / More rich, that only to stand high in your account / I might in virtues, beauties, livings, friends, / Exceed account.” (Act 3, Scene 2, ll. 152-157) This is only possible because Bassanio had chosen the right casket, but Portia’s affection for him is a prominent reason; before Bassanio chooses the caskets, she already admits that “One half of me is yours, the other half yours— / Mine one, I would say: but if mine then yours, / And so all yours.” (Act 3 Scene 2, ll.16-18) If her husband is chosen by “fortune,” she might as well marry someone she likes. But if she was never a noble birth, Bassanio and the other suitors will never pursue her.

The love between Antonio and Bassanio is more ambiguous as it doesn’t perfectly fall into the category of either romantic love or friendship. What Antonio has done for Bassanio is incredible considering that they are known just as “kinsmen,” or friends; but Antonio’s affection for Bassanio is adulterated with a confusion about his sexual orientation, and anti-Semitism, as he prevents Bassanio from committing usury. We can interpret Antonio’s willingness to borrow Bassanio such a large sum of money as his affection towards Bassanio. But we can also see it as Antonio’s only way of expressing a type of love that is not commonly accepted at the time, for a Christian. Other than lending Bassanio large sums of money, there are limited options towards how he can express his affection. From Shylock’s famous speech, we know that Antonio has “hindered” him “half a million” (Act 3, Scene 1, ll. 48, 49) by preventing his friends from committing usury, “and it is very likely that he wants to keep Bassanio out of it too.

Love will always be impure and untrue. Pure love, if it exists, cannot possibly survive on this world without money or power. But is “contaminated love” not love? Shakespeare depicts these complex feelings through the characters in the play. And I think it is very accurate to how humans actually behave. But it also means I can never really find answers to these questions about The Merchant of Venice. It must take a lifetime to completely understand it.

 

 

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Personal Response to The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice is a play about both love and hate. On the side of love, you see Bassanio and Portia falling in love in marriage, and on the other side you see the hatred shown from Christians towards Jews, and a strong hatred between the Christian Antonio and Shylock the Jew showed in court after Antonio failed to pay off a bond owed to Shylock. On both sides, you have an overall happy ending. Yet coming to that conclusion there were signs of mercy shown from Shylock and shown by Bassanio. But what is Mercy?

Mercy in the true definition is “showing compassion/forgiveness toward someone within the power to punish or harm.” Mercy is also kindness and a sign of selflessness. Yet mercy can be in many ways. In the play during the court scene, it was first offered to Shylock towards Antonio from Portia and the Duke but refused. Then Shylock showed that mercy by not taking a pound of flesh from Antonio, even though they both showed no mercy to each other, Shylock was forced to show mercy, unless he were to die, then agreed to terms so he would be spared (Act IV, scene I, pp. 81-82, lines: 376-395). Then further on in the play, it was shown. Again by Bassanio asking for mercy from Portia after he took off his ring, he’d promise he wouldn’t take off (Act V, scene I, pp. 96, lines: 240-244).

The act and asking for mercy is significant in this play and is throughout the story. It was first shown by Lancelot asking for forgiveness from his father after toying with him when he is blind (Act II, scene II, pp. 21-25). But one significant subject that came up with mercy is Portia’s “Quality of Mercy” speech during the court session (Act V, scene I, pp. 73, lines: 183-204). In her speech, Portia is trying to convince Shylock to be merciful like God is towards us. She also makes the connection of mercy with the Christian idea of salvation.

The idea of mercy is brought up in this play and many of Shakespeare’s plays. It was also heavily used back in the day. We tend to ignore how important it is in a play as it can bring a play together and makes it so that the story stays interesting and dramatic.

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Personal Response to The Merchant of Venice

Throughout this play, we see so much un-reasoned hate towards Shylock and his people, the people that hate shylock and his people are prejudiced towards him. People that are prejudice are usually prejudice because of generalized hate for something and do not have actual hate towards it or they actually have some prejudice against someone. With the first part about that about generalized prejudice, is that people hate others because of what others are doing which isn’t a good mindset, but I do think this actually happens and is something very real. An example of this is when Shylock enters the courtroom in the movie we watched that he gets spat on, called names, and looked at as if he is an alien. The generalized hate / generalized prejudice is from the people doing the weird stare and not saying anything, and then the people that are spitting on him and calling him names have actual prejudice against him.

With this prejudice against Shylock and his people, I feel as though there shouldn’t be revenge The first being why it isn’t justified, this is because the odds were stacked against Shylock to begin with, this is shown when in the story from line 345 to 361 on Act 4, Scene 1. The summary of what happens here is that Portia says that if you shed any blood from a Christian under venetian law that you will be put to death or in prison. So even if he tried to to take the pound of flesh he would shed blood and this pound would be his revenge for losing his money, and in this it isn’t worth it meaning it’s not justified to do so because he would just die or go to prison. Also with not taking revenge, in my opinion I feel as though its more powerful to give mercy in hope that they are nice to you back especially if they are mean to you, which could decrease prejudice and possibly form a bond (which is kind of unlikely).

The last question being Is it possible to be both rich and good, or does wealth inevitably corrupt us? I feel as though with this you need to define what good means because are you good if you donate to charity? if you volunteer every weekend at a homeless shelter? if you are nice to people? if you have never sinned? the word can have many meanings which makes the question almost impossible to answer, but lets say what makes you a good person if you are kind to others and have a big positive impact on the world (without the direct cause of money ex. planting 100 trees in the forest over a week by yourself or with others.) with this meaning now here I feel as though it is possible for someone who is rich to be good. But with the wealth inevitably corrupting you, it depends how you get your wealth, like if you are an owner of a chain of a loan lending company with lots of interest, then the more money you get the more corrupt you get because you are taking it from the people that need it the most, because they can’t go to a bank, in turn you are taking money from very poor people, and in turn it is immoral to keep running this business. But if you are like Khan Academy which like helps people learn things and is a free service, and gets a lot of donations which in turn increases wealth (after like all taxes and other expenses) then in this case wealth wouldn’t inevitably corrupt you. This relates to The Merchant of Venice, most of the people in the Merchant of Venice are not kind at all to Jewish people which in turn (in that aspect) every rich Christian in that aspect is not good, and wealth in the story is usually only by Christian people (I think) so this means that no one in the story is a good person in any aspect.

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Personal Response to The Merchant of Venice

Love, whether it be romantic, platonic, or familial, is portrayed as impure in The Merchant of Venice. In this play, love is rarely mentioned without association to money or status. We’re introduced to these ideas from the beginning, when Solanio and Salarino claim that the only possible sources for Antonio’s sadness are his fortunes or love (Act I, Scene I, pp. 1-3). This establishes the two main priorities in this play, leaving us with the impression that they’re connected. Money is a reason for love, money helps create love, and money increases the meaning of love. If love is pure, why are Bassanio’s first remarks about Portia based on her wealth and beauty (Act I, Scene I, p. 6)? Love shouldn’t be superficial, but it is often represented as such. If love is pure, why does Jessica need a dowry to marry Lorenzo (Act II, Scene VI, pp. 34-26)? In this scenario, marriage is established as transactional and systematic, so why do we use it as the marker of love? If love is pure, why is Shylock’s heartbreak over his daughter’s departure equally painful due to his love for her, and his love for the money she took with her (Act III, Scene I, pp. 47-49)? Oftentimes, love is contaminated with greed, desire, and immorality; but so are most things. Does that diminish the love’s sincerity and value?

Coinciding with the purity of love, this play demonstrates the prevalence of power’s influence on relationships, causing us to question whether that is moral. If power is involved in the formation and preservation of a relationship, is it genuine? For instance, Portia has power stemming from her beauty, wealth, and status. Without these attributes, Portia would barely have a place in the world, let alone the multitude of suitors she has. Her relationship with Bassanio would be nonexistent, because she wouldn’t be in any position of power. In the play, Portia and Bassanio get married, and in doing so Portia relinquishes her power and wealth to him. Bassanio’s newly acquired possession of control would change the dynamic of their relationship. Suddenly, he runs the household, has the power to control Portia, and is seen as the more important figure between them. Should we let power have such a strong influence on us, or would it be better to disregard it, to combat the inequality rather than enforce it? We can also examine the relationship between Antonio and Shylock, as a representation of the relationship between Christians and Jews. Originally, Antonio has more power than Shylock, since he is a Christian. Using his power, Antonio constantly condemns and mistreats him, which defines their adversarial relationship. Later, when Shylock gains power stemming from the bargain, Antonio is at his mercy. The nature of relationships completely changes depending on power, leading to the discrimination we see from Christians to Jews, the patriarchal relationships shown between men and women throughout this play, and other unhealthy imbalances.

Shakespeare often plays with deceit throughout his literature, in both form and content. On a literal level, we associate deceptive appearances with Portia and Nerissa’s disguises as men; a tactic they used to save Antonio from death. We may also remember when Portia calls herself an “unlesson’d girl, unschool’d, unpractis’d” (Act III, Scene II, p. 54), which we later discover is completely false. She claims that at the beginning of her engagement with Bassanio, when in fact, she is quite brilliant. Digging even deeper, when Portia is acting as Antonio’s lawyer, she delivers a powerful speech about mercy, “The quality of mercy is not strained / It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven” (Act IV, Scene I, p. 73). Or, it appeared powerful and heartfelt, until she demonstrated her hypocrisy by not showing mercy to Shylock, merely pages later. This employment of deceit utilized by Shakespeare allows us to question sincerity as a whole; how often are people truly sincere, and how often are they only acting sincere for self-serving purposes? Deception leads to mistrust; a cracked foundation, a flawed reliance on others. The Merchant of Venice allows us to explore questions that may be applicable to ourselves, from a distance. Sometimes, it takes reading about hypocrisy to recognize it in our own lives, and to question how we can avoid the alterable flaws shown in fictional characters.

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The Color Purple is a Valuable Piece of Literature

Acme Region School Board

321 Orange Grove Lane

Acme, BC A2B 3C4

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to you on behalf of the whole English department because we believe that the novel The Color Purple is a valuable piece of literature for grade 12 students. Not only does it show students what racial prejudice is, it helps them think about who they are and where they belong. During the story, Celie transforms from a woman who is controlled by her husband to an independent woman in African American society during the 1930’s. Some of the depicted scenes at the beginning of the novel are graphic, and may shock some readers, but we the English teachers believe that at 17 years of age, students are mature enough to handle this type of content. It prompted much discussion in class, which helps students explore the issues brought up in the novel. Referring to Mr. Klutz’s complaint about the poor language, I just want to make clear to the board that this novel by Alice Walker is not studied in order to teach students how to speak properly but rather, by studying this novel, the students are introduced to the ways of life of poor black people in the 1930’s. Mr. Klutz may have been dismayed by such words as “kine” and “gonna” and “put his thing up gainst my hip and sort of wiggle it around”. It was written this way on purpose in order to portray the accent that Celie has, thereby showing the style of speaking that uneducated, low-classed black people had at the time. The English teachers and I agree that this is a valuable work of literature precisely because it opens up student’s minds to a different way of life in a different time period.

Regards,

Dr. Eric Theodore Macbeth, BA, M. Ed, MPhil.

Acme Central English Department

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Trevor Van Dyk English: PR to MoV 14/02/2021

The constituents of what provides us life satisfaction are complexed. In one position is the allocation of love, honesty, and sensation, while opposed to power and possession. What belief is applied variates with the person, who draws their decisions from experience. Experience is the driving factor of our characteristics, and I believe, is both conscious and unconscious. What defines experience is that which defines truth, although based substantially on the unconscious; the intangible, the impossible to conceptualize. The manifestations of this complexion display in our life activities. What drives us to love is unknown, neither to appreciate art. Contrarily, the drive for wealth is evident: it provides the means to exact more influence over one’s environment. Therefore, we inhabit a world where alternate incentives pull at our longing for improvement. These forces require different philosophies and fulfill opposite qualities in our sensation of experience.

Love is infinitely unique and is subject to influence by any other of the human qualities. A theme in The Merchant of Venice, is love versus trust. Lorenzo rescues Jessica from Shylock, so breaking Shylock’s trust for her love. Gratiano gets engaged with Nerissa spontaneously, in about one page worth of dialogue, giving no time for development of trust between the characters. When Bassanio loses Portia’s ring, the symbol of his commitment to her is lost. In each case, trust shows no prevailing purity, undermining what pure love should be like.

Is devotion to a person ever fully authentic, and stabilized? Certainly not. The power dynamic in the marriage between Portia and Bassanio comprehended all Portia’s wealth would go to her husband. “…her gentle spirit commits itself to yours to be directed as from her lord” (III, ii, 163-165). Portia dedicates herself to her husband. Take example how Shylock treated Jessica, how he would constrain and inhibit her liberties. Equality and complete altruism in love is likely impossible and cannot be found. Every romance has faults and discrepancies, limitations that make it not wholly in consensus.

Understanding love is very frequently corrupt, perhaps a balanced outlook on love vs. money would be the human requires both. If one has too much love, they experience the pressure of liquidating said love, or if one possesses too much money, as in Crassus, member of the Roman Triumvirate and richest man of the classical world, felt when he bought two legions and crossed the Euphrates to attempt conquering Parthia. Certain humans pursue the path of culture, art, love, while others pursue that of power, and wealth. Yo-yo Ma had business as a cello player, however found no love in just that.

The largest distinction between art and love, and power and wealth, is that the former investigates the meaning of truth, and the latter of harnessing that which is tangible. One invokes inquisition, the other of mastery. In essence, I would believe both are vital. Art is the realm of both. When one follows art, they employ meaning with resonance, and skill and practice. One can approach it as the mastery of a medium, and as a canvas on which to investigate. It even distributes the allure inquiring on aesthetic has to a wide audience, that they can respect individually and give power and money towards the creator: the celebrity.

In that understanding, art is as corrupt as money is. To try and elevate from the impure lust for prosperity, for the purity of investigation, is to give up on practicing, improving—beautiful exploitation. Perhaps the virtuous person is one who recognizes both concepts, the tangible and the uncharted, and employs them to reach resonance. To obsess on achieving pure love, then switch to having the ultimate wealth, and recycle, is not how to be, yet it is to embrace both simultaneously. Ambiguity is undeniable with where the equity is, how one should choose between power and explanation. Perhaps the reason why so many, if all people spend all their life striving for this goal shows how complexed, complex, and how variable our complexion is. If that is so, then no doubt is the reason why love is so fickle, rare, and unfortunate.

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The Merchant of Venice: Personal Response

We would all agree in a heartbeat that justice is an attribute we, as a society, should strive for. However, when asked ‘How do we determine justice?’, many of us would find ourselves in discordance. In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Shylock demands justice from the Venetian court after Antonio fails to make good on their contract. His view of justice is made clear at the courthouse: “I stand here for the law” (4. 1. 142), he says, “I crave the law, / The penalty and forfeit of my bond” (4. 1. 204-205). His position seems reasonable without the crucial context that the “penalty and forfeit” he demands is a pound of Antonio’s flesh, and all for the temporary loss of three thousand ducats.

The law is our supposed arbiter of right and wrong. But, could any of us say that the laws of any country are synonymous with justice? Even when twenty five of the United States sanction the death penalty? When many Canadian provinces allow social workers to stand over First Nations mothers’ hospital beds and take away their children at birth? When countless governments still suppress free speech and peaceful demonstration? And, of course, when Shylock is permitted by law to kill Antonio for failing to return three thousand ducats within three months? Clearly we cannot make that claim. Although the law’s job is to enact justice, often parts of it don’t reflect what most would consider justice to be. After all, laws are made by flawed humans, not all-knowing divines motivated only by moral righteousness.

We could easily argue that Shylock himself probably doesn’t actually hold the law in such high regard. He’s lived his whole life surrounded by Christians who think that “the Jew is the very devil incarnation” (2. 2. 24), and who “call [him] misbeliever, cut-throat dog, / [and] spit upon [his] Jewish gaberdine” (1. 3. 106-107)– all of this is not only permitted, but encouraged by Venetian law, which is very anti-Semitic itself, forbidding Jews to live outside of a small gated neighborhood and denying them access to many occupations. Shylock’s appeal to the law seems to be more out of a determined attempt to get revenge than a strong sense of legal justice. In an enraged speech to Solanio and Salarino, he says “If a / Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by / Christian example? Why, revenge! The villainy you / teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will / better the instruction” (3. 1. 61-65). This indicates that his ultimate goal to get revenge, not to uphold the law.

Although Shylock claims to believe that justice is the law, when we look further we see that, if he’s appealing to justice at all, then his idea of justice is more likely revenge than legality. This idea has possibly even more flaws than his claimed one. In fact, the law nowadays is often there to stop this destructive ‘eye for an eye’ behavior. If someone’s child is murdered, for example, I would expect them to want to kill the person who did it. However, I would also expect, and very much hope, that law enforcement would stop them. Justice should inform the law, and the law should regulate extreme emotional responses like those caused by anger and a wish for revenge. Though they are all intertwined, neither justice, nor the law, nor revenge are synonymous to one another. While reading The Merchant of Venice, and exploring these ideas through Shylock and his contract with Antonio, that was the conclusion I came to.

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Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes,

In our English class, we had to read a few of your poems. I realized that most of your poems use jazz and black folk rhythms. I also see you discussing topics such as the hardships of the black working-class lives and how the blacks are being mistreated, which I admire. your writing style allows me to understand how much hard work it took for the blacks to be whom they are today, while also learning about the history of the blacks.

One of your poems that I enjoyed analyzing is “Negro”. After reading this poem I was able to learn a lot about the history of the blacks while relating this poem to what problems the blacks still encounter in our society today. Throughout the poem, you used the words “slave”, “worker”, “singer” and “victims” to show what a negro does in the past. You also used “I brushed the boots of Washington” (6) to show the history of the blacks since after reading this line, I was able to identify that you were referring to the enslavement period. In the poem, you also used lines such as “They still lynch me in Mississippi” (16) to show what problems the blacks still encounter today, since you wanted us to understand the oppression of the past which is still happening today.

Another poem that I enjoyed analyzing of yours is “Dream Boogie”. In this poem, you wanted to show how the blacks were not being understood and that the white people should listen in which I have found interesting. However, how you have shown it was more compelling, you made us listeners assume that it is a happy beat “Listen closely: You’ll hear their feet Beating out and beating out a -” (4-7), while subtly trying to get us to understand “Listen to it closely: Ain’t you heard something underneath like a -” (10-13), but you decided to give up since us listeners don’t understand “What did I say?” (16).

After reading your poems, I hope that the messages of your poems would get spread out more broadly since numerous people around the world don’t understand how big the issue is in the messages of the poems you are conveying. Lastly, I would like to thank you for all your hard work and also for giving me the opportunity to read and analyze your poems.

Sincerely,

Jasper

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Dear Mr. Hughes,

I request of you an opinion on a matter dear to me, of which I find no resounding, nor over-arching, resolution. As one, whom one may say, is naturally inclined to tinker with the weight of words, persuing the most arbitrary word compilations, perusing meaning where there might be none. In actuality, countless if meaning was in fact intended by an author, what if meaning has no truth? no firm basis in resonance? Mr. Hughes, I shall allow you to interpret as you will what meaning there is in preceding sentences.

Now I am not here to bore you with fickle matters of no value, at least I hope, and hope you find too. You have received many letters, from my mutual classmates/peers. I hold no doubt certain among such have irked your interest, or instead your irritation. Perhaps some have conveyed a formal and literal message, while others a powerful, or emotional, and figurative message. I yet hold no doubt that said letters have swayed you alternately from I (for I have too read them). Furthermore, I hold no doubt how you have interpreted the qualities of said letters has congrued with your meaning of value in literature, if certain assertions within literature are more worthy in value than others, and if the form shows merit in conjunction. Although, I understand your analysis of literature is much developed and refined over years, full of sway and rhythm, power and sensation. And I know the style forming your literature is unique, fresh, inventive, it follows the identities you have developed in the literary world.

So I ask you to ponder: what makes “good” literature? What do you look for/what does it need? Are the requirements for literature different from piece-to-piece I wonder? If so, I wonder if the meaning behind literature is much larger than imaginable, if it really is the realm of possibility? Yet the confusion is pertinent, for I understand that lots of the power in your prose is based on your dream of better life of minority classes. Therefore, is literature a figment of the real world, forever tied to our experiences? Mr. Hughes, I would love to know what motivates you as a person to write literature, and to know what you seek as you write literature.

Sincerely,

Trevor

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Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes,

I have read few of your poems, and while reading some of your works, I learned about your writing style and how you structured your poems.  The wordings you use are relatively easy for me to understand, yet can also express deep thoughts. Your poems made me realise I underestimated the racism and learnt about black history.

After reading most of your poems, I found some similarities in most of the poems. It’s talking about chasing dream in early 1900s  and suffering from racism. As a black person it’s is tough back then, the poems let you express how you feel about the society. I can feel it through some of the poems that you wrote.

“And then the wall rose,

rose slowly,

slowly,

Between me and my dream.” – (As I Grew Older, II. 7-10)

The wall rose, you were referring to racism, blocking you to fulfil your dream. It’s a boundary that grows slowly and slowly until it becomes a wall that you can’t break through.

“My hands!

My dark hands!

Break through the wall!

Find my dream!

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this night,

To break this shadow” – (As I Grew Older, II. 24-30)

These sentences sticks out in this poem, the tone sounds different. Again, you want freedom and justice. I can feel that you are passionate for declaring what is right and what is wrong. I feel like you want whoever is suffering from racism feel relatable when reading this poem, to resonate with the readers.

After reading your poem, I learn to sympathise people who are suffering from racism. Your words express pain, discomfort, and fear. Now it’s 2021, and racial discrimination still exists. I hope people can face this problem squarely. Not only black people, but many races also face the same problem. 

Sincerely,

Lydia Lam

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Letter to Langston Hughes:

Dear Mr. Hughes,

Upon reading a few poems of yours, an obvious thing I noticed was many of the lyrics were about African Americans, a dream of freedom, and black lives. During a discussion with my classmates, I understood many authors wish to write about other genres but have the need to write about world events during tough times like wars, and I wanted to know if this was a situation you went through as well?

One of my most enjoyed poetry was “The Negro Mother,” the poem was easy to understand and explained in detail; it had a clear indication of imagery and talked about carrying on the legacy of achieving freedom. “All you dark children in the world out there, / Remember my pain, my sweat, my despair. / Remember my years heavy with sorrow– / And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.” (35-38). If I ever fought for freedom, I would want everyone to remember my sacrifice and carry on the legacy of achieving the justice required, and always protect those who cannot defend themselves. Another factor I thought was influential in the poem was the belief in God. “But God put a song and prayer in my mouth, / God put a dream like steel in my soul.” (18-19). My question to you is, did everyone believe in God? and what happened if someone were an atheist?

“Life Is Fine” is one of the poems I enjoyed as it was a change from presenting the idea of the suffering of African Americans to conveying a thought about how love influences us to do stupid things. “I tried to think but couldn’t, / So I jumped in and sank.” (1. 3-4). “I though about my baby / And thought I would jump down.” (4. 3-4). The poem conveyed a profound message about the struggles gone through by all of humanity; depression. It is an excellent example of how many people view suicide as a permanent resolution of their problems than actually fighting through them.

In the end, I would like to appreciate the diverse range of poems you have written. They express the fight for freedom and justice, the injustice humanity suffers, and great strength and resilience. I wonder which poem you are proud of the most.

Sincerely,
Divya Rajpal.

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Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

In my English class, we have been reading and analyzing your poetry. I find it fascinating to learn about, as it also inspires me to learn more about the Civil Rights era. I want to become more informed on these important issues and hope to do my best to support/help others.

One poem in particular I was drawn too, is “The South”. The language is strong and seductive, creating this image. With the help of personification, we can imagine these two women, and see how they act. It carries this dark imagery that I find powerful and bold.

The Sky, the sun, the stars,

The magnolia-scented South.

Beautiful, like a women,

Seductive as a dark-eyed whore,

Passionate, cruel,

Honey-lipped, syphilitic—

That is the South.

This is the South to the speaker, this beautiful but dangerous woman who he loves but cannot have. Unlike the the North, who is represented as “cold-faced” but is kinder. This poem can also represent the similars between love and hate, both passionate and powerful emotions to have towards someone. You can love and hate someone at the same time, this is what the speaker is feeling towards to South. For the North he carries no emotion, just apathy.

So now I seek the North—

For she, they say,

Is a kinder mistress,

And in her house my children

May escape the spell of the South.

The speaker must go to the North because he has too, otherwise he’ll suffer the South’s cruelty.

I look up to your courage to represent your community. You left a big impact globally, and I want to thank you. For sharing your experience, and giving a voice to the people who did not feel they could. And for helping me understand the history and discrimination that our systems are built on.

Fond regards,

Tia

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A Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr Hughes,
Over the past few days, I have had the pleasure to read some of your poems, some of which have impacted me in different ways. The way you allow your words to flow with such strength is so refreshing. The importance of showing the strength black people have as well as what they had to endure is absolutely astounding.
In your poem “I, Too” you wrote the following:
I, too, sing America.


I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.


Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.


Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—


I, too, am America.

As someone who was adopted legally in the united states, but comes from India, I have dealt with the struggle throughout my life of being questioned as an American on the basis of my origin as well as my patriotism.

I grew up as a foreigner in Mexico, constantly asked questions like “Are you in favour of what Americans say about ‘your people’ whether that being about Mexicans or Indians. I struggled with being accepted as ‘one of their own’.
Throughout my childhood, I went through struggles of being a coloured student in a mostly white school, being questioned about my being good enough to study in said institutions. I would like to thank you for opening up about your experiences as a black man in a country which in times felt as though it was not yours to be in.

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Letter to Langston Hughes

Jack Bradshaw

1939 Sooke Rd, Victoria,

BC V9B 1W2

January 11th 2021

Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes,

I really enjoy your poetry and I think that it is filled with plenty imagery and emotion. I feel as though these poems were my favorite, Ballad of the Landlord and Life Is Fine.

With ballad of the landlord I could feel his emotion and just his overall anger/annoyance getting stronger throughout the poem with certain sentences and phrases.

“What? You gonna get eviction orders? 

You gonna cut off my heat? 

You gonna take my furniture and 

Throw in in the street?” 

With Life is Fine I could see more of a rollercoaster of multiple strong emotions like sadness, depression, and clarity in a way.

“I came up one and hollered! 

I came up twice and cried! 

If that water hadn’t a-been so cold 

I might’ve sunk and died.” 

 

“I stood there and I hollered! 

I stood there and I cried! 

If it hadn’t a-been so high 

I might’ve jumped and died.” 

 

“So since I’m still here livin’, 

I guess I will live on. 

I could’ve died for love– 

But for livin’ I was born”

My questions for these poems would be: Are these experiences based on your on experiences? If not then, How do you get these experiences? Is there a lot of draft poems? What is your process in making these poems? Is it a more creative process that comes naturally or is it like sitting down and making poems for a couple hours?

All in all I enjoyed these poems and to me they gave me a very open point of view of the injustice and racism people of color would receive during the 20th century.

Thanks for looking,

Jack.

 

 

 

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Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes

throughout reading some pieces of your work, I have enjoyed learning about your style of writing and the creative and impactful ways you link your work with other references. Compared to other poems your vocabulary that you use in your poems is mostly very simple and easy to understand, but yet you are still able to convey points with deep context behind them, the fact that you can do this to me is impressive compared to other poets who use vocabulary from space.

The poems that we have read convey passion through your writing about racism and justice. All the poems I found relate to chasing the dream of having freedom throughout the early 19 hundred’s as a black person. Although I did not experience the south or racism you do an amazing job of painting a picture for the reader when reading your poems.

One of the poems that stuck out to me that made me think was Dream Boogie, this poem shows how slavery was and how black people had no choice but to pretend to be happy or they would be in trouble as if they were dogs on a leash  

 

Listen to it closely:

aint you heard

something underneath

like a–

What did I say?

sure

I’m happy!

Take it away !

in-class we came to the conclusion that this represents a slave talking about something that may be a complaint. he then decides to act as though he did not say anything to avoid trouble. This shows the amount of power the white people had over the blacks, equality was far from existent and it’s hard to think about. Writing about this must have been hard having the feeling as though equality with people of color would never happen. Did you ever think that there would be? I wonder if you would be happy with how far society has gotten with equality or disappointed?

your poems mostly all have the similarity of justice and chasing the dream of equality and it is well conveyed and is impactful to read. thankyou for your writing and showing what the world should look like one day, hopefully without racism of people of a different colour.

 

 

 

 

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Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

I have now read many of your poems and I enjoyed reading them. They are great poems with a strong message behind racism, and black history in the United States. I also liked how some poems were also composed as the “language” of jazz/blues bars which really expresses its diversity.

The main message your poems express is black people in America with slavery and dealing with the racism in modern society. One of my favourite poems that you made was I, Too. It talks about being a slave for a white family. In the poem you wrote:

“I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When the company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll eat at the table
When the company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“eat in the kitchen,”
Then.” (I, Too II. 2-14)

It talks about being a slave and the owners having company over and how they won’t let him be in the kitchen and really see how ‘beautiful’ he is. Reading this poem really hit me differently. It really expressed what life was like back then with a slave and what they went through.

Another poem I would like to bring up is Life is Fine. I also did enjoy this poem a lot but was also quite confused reading it. One big question this brings up for me is ‘is it realistic?’ I ask this because he goes from a hard break up and wanting to kill himself, then immediately turns around to be fine. I never understood this because a breakup most likely takes a long time and rarely turns around that quickly. It quotes here:

“I stood there and I hollered!
Stood there and I cried!
If it hadn’t a-been so high
I might’ve jumped and died.

But it was
High up there!
It was high!


So since I’m still here livin’,
I guess I will live on.
I could’ve dies for love-
But for livin’ I was born.” (Life is fine, II. 16-26)

In this quotation, it talks about him about to jump off a building, but since it was to high up, he turns out fine and isn’t hurting anymore.

All of your poems that I have read have carried out a strong message and should be viewed by everyone to see what black people in the early 20th century went through and see the pain they went through, and show value and appreciation towards the black community and also show sympathy for what white people did to them.

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Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

After reading some of your poems within class I wanted to tell you that I love how your poems are composed. Unlike other poems that I have read all of your poems are consistently simple. Your use of diction is easy to understand which helps make the meaning behind your poems easier to comprehend.

You have surrounded the subject matter of your poems around freedom and justice, and although they are simple they are filled with your passion for stating what is right and what is wrong within this world.  Even though your poems do not include many end rhymes which in ways better connects the poem, I feel that you did the right thing by mostly avoiding adding end rhymes because the way you present your different poems is more, in my opinion, persuasive without end rhymes. Often poets use end rhymes to adhere to the musical qualities poets have used in the past, to allow the reader to read the poem as it is meant to be heard. By avoiding this I feel it made your poems quite different from other poems. Within your poem “As I Grew Older” you wrote the following:

“My hands!

My dark hands!

Break through the wall!

Find my dream!

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this light, To break this shadow–” (ll. 24-30)

The class had concluded that this poem was about racism, dreams, and optimism.  If this is true, what inspired you to make this poem about racism, dreams, and optimism? Other than this I love the way you used only vague imagery and not imagery that was extensive towards our view of the poem. The idea of optimism came up within this poem, especially in the last stanza:

“Into a thousand light of sun, 

Into a thousand whirling dreams

Of sun!” (ll. 31-33)

The speaker in the poem recites a dream he once had, and it seems you made the speaker express great optimism towards that dream. Or at least you had made me feel optimistic for the speaker and his dream. It seems you at times like using the idea of optimism within your poems since you had also showcased optimism within: “I, Too.” Within the last stanza, you wrote: “I, too, am America.” (l. 18) I feel this shows optimism within the speaker. The speaker is stating that he/or she is America itself and that it is something to feel proud of.

Your poems have changed the way I view poetry. I have learned that poems can vary in many different ways, they do not need to follow the norms of other poets from the past, and that in poetry you can express what you simplistically think about life.

Gratefully,

Armaan Singh Tumber

 

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Langston Hughes: Letter

Dear Langston Hughes,

I have read a select few of your poems, and have noticed that many of them (if not all) seem to be about the struggles and dreams of African-Americans. From the 1920s to the 1960s, and probably longer, you wrote of freedom. I do not know much about you, not how long you lived or what you experienced, but I cannot help but think how terribly sad it is to write of freedom for so long. In your poem “As I Grew Older,” you wrote: “It was a long time ago. / I have almost forgotten my dream” (1. 1-2). I know it cannot have been your dream of freedom that you had forgotten, I imagine it being a regular dream instead. A dream any person, of any race, could have, but one that you realized was out of your reach. Not because it was too lofty, but rather simply because of your colour. I wonder if you lived long enough to rediscover that dream, to “Break through the wall” (6. 3).

I cannot help but think you must be resentful. I wonder if you hated them when you wrote “I, Too”– hated those who sent you to “eat in the kitchen” (2. 2). I think I would’ve hated them. I think sometimes that there will never be full reconciliation. How can you undo thousands of generations of mistreatment? Your fight was to change the obvious wrong– the visible immorality that’s violence provoked visceral reactions. I wonder now though if we can ever change the invisible ones. Will there always be little things that divide us, and plague us with inequality? Did you ever think that far into the future, or ever believe that pure equality between races was possible?

I think my favourite poem of yours so far is “Theme for English B.” I like it because it is you simply talking. All of your poems are written for the ordinary person, and none, I think, are so ordinary as this one. The difference between it and most other poems is that it puts you in a real place– words don’t simply start appearing from a nebulous creator, but rather the reader is lead along with you into your apartment and onto the page. Now that I know you “cross St. Nicholas, / English Avenue, Seventh,” and “come to the Y,” (1. 12-13), I know you are real, and ordinary– and furthermore, you’re writing to another real and ordinary person. I do not find myself perplexed as to the scenario of the poem. You simply are you, and you are writing, and it is all very wonderful to be so ordinary. You are not a mysterious writer veiled in shadows, nor someone to evoke wonder. You are someone who likes to “eat, sleep, drink, and be in love” (2. 6). The impact of all this normality comes in the third stanza, for how can I now, after reading the prior, not agree that “being colored doesn’t make [you] not like / the same things other folks like who are other races” (3. 1-2)? How could I not see that you “are a part of me, as I am a part of you” (3. 8)? I hope that at least one person had their minds changed by this in your time. I also hope that you got to see the impact you had.

Regards,

Fenna

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Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

In 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement began. It was founded by three black women, in response to a recent murder of Trayvon Martin, an African American teenager, in which the murderer was found not guilty. In 2013, I didn’t know of this mouvement, nor the injustice black people faced on a daily basis due to the racism that encompasses the world. I was nine years-old, and I lived oblivious to this, because I could. I never had to be told as a child what to do if I was stopped by a police officer, I never had to be told that people would treat me unjustly due to my race. I was raised in a household where I was taught about racism and how wrong it is. However, I also grew up in a largely white neighborhood, with white privilege; thus, I wasn’t exposed to how severe it was for many.

Even through empathy, I will never truly comprehend how bad it can be for black people. Now, in 2021, I regularly follow the Black Lives Matter movement. However, no form of education comes anywhere near real-life experiences. I still live with white privilege. I have never been in a position of fear due to my race, and I wish you could have said the same. When I read your poetry, anger envelops me. Indignation towards the injustice you had to face. Rage at the racism and oppression that is still pervasive. Resentment towards all white people, past and present, that have suppressed others due to something as beautifully diverse as race. Identity isn’t something anyone should be harmed for; and yet, people who look like me have vehemently forced others into this position, to give themselves a feeling of superiority.

In, “As I Grew Older” and “I, Too,” you speak of the “dream” that many black people have ached for throughout their lives,

My hands!

My dark hands!

Break through the wall!

Find my dream!

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this night,

To break this shadow

Into a thousand lights of sun,

Into a thousand whirling dreams

Of sun! (As I Grew Older, ll. 24-32)

As your life progressed, did your idea of this dream change? If you were alive now, would you feel as if you have achieved this dream, or are still fighting for it? Racism may have improved since your time; however, better doesn’t automatically equate to good.

In a time where hate feels indomitable, your poetry is a reminder of what people have overcome. Although the content in “Negro” may provoke sadness or anger due to the injustice demonstrated within it, it has strong tones of resilience and pride for everything black people have overcome. We see a range of suffering, from,

I’ve been a worker:

Under my hands the pyramids arose

I made mortar for the Woolworth Building. (Negro, ll. 7-9)

to,

I’ve been a victim:

The Belgians cut off my hands in the Congo.

They lynch me still in Mississippi. (Negro, ll. 14-16)

But despite the centuries of pain and injustice conveyed through this, you still manage to make it a poem raising existential questions regarding identity. Who are we?, one may ask, to which this poem responds,

“I am a Negro:

Black as the night is black,

Black like the depths of my Africa. (Negro, ll. 1-3)

This feeling of identity has an impenetrable strength to it. I can imagine the bond you have created between people who have similar trauma engraved within their identities.  Not only does it show a  progression of black history, it shows hope; hope for the futureーfor the aforementioned “dream”.

In your past society and our present one, harmful stereotypes about black people have been propagated. In, “Deferred,” you broke the detrimental idea that black people were all the same, by presenting individuality through different speakers,

All I want is

one more bottle of gin.

All I want is to see my furniture paid for. (Deferred, ll. 29-31)

Then, in, “Dream Boogie,” you portray the false facades of happiness black workers were forced into by their white employers,

Sure,

I’m happy!

Take it away! (Dream Boogie, ll. 15-17)

In these debunkings, we receive a taste of previous stereotypes, allowing us to reflect on the progression of our society. Did you ever suspect your poetry would be seen by people who weren’t even aware of the stereotypes that were so prevalent for you?

Throughout your diverse collection of poetry, we experience an outpouring of pain, hope, resilience, and strength. We observe a contrast between the beautifully seductive language used in “Harlem Sweeties”, the bluesy humour in “Life Is Fine”, and the powerful, dreamlike imagery in “As I Grew Older”. I wonder if you would be pleased with the impact your poetry has had on people globally, or satisfied with the manner in which we are studying it.

Thank you, deeply, for allowing us to live within your work.

With high appreciation,

Amy Norris

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Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

You wrote As I Grew Older when you were only about 20 years old. There is almost a sacredness about it. “Bright like a sun—/ My dream.” (ll.5,6) There are no other pronouns other than “I,” so I could only assume that you are the speaker. Your dreams and your hopes, expressed through vague imagery, is unpolished yet impactful.

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this night, 

To break this shadow

Into a thousand lights of sun, 

Into a thousand whirling dreams 

Of sun! (ll.28-33)

You expressed the contrast between your dreams and the bitter reality by referencing light and darkness. Words such as “shatter,” “smash” and “break” gives such momentum as we picture a strong force penetrating the dark barriers to let light shine through.

When you wrote The South, along with The Weary BluesRuby Brown, and Life Is Fine, your poems have commonly expressed resentment of the present reality. You also seemed to have developed sarcastic humor that reflects the hardships of life, perhaps due to the Blues’ influence. “Life is fine! / Fine as wine! /Life is fine!” (Life is fine, ll.31,32) Life was never fine. I think you have seen and experienced quite a lot more since As I Grew Older, as your poems also tell stories.

Since 1951, your poems have begun to mention dreams again. And not just that, it gives me the feeling that you are combining dreams and reality.

In Montage of a Dream Deferred, you began playing with space and time by arranging short clips of several distinct speakers telling their dreams. Even if it’s something out of the blue like learning French or taking up Bach, or even if all the person wants is one more bottle of gin; through different times and space, these voices all connect.

Then in Dream Boogie, you showed us that it isn’t just the individual dreams that are deferred; collectively, as a whole, the dream of freedom and equality of African Americas are deferred. “Ain’t you heard/ The boogie-woogie rumble/ Of a dream deferred?” (ll.2-4) The low rumblings are not words; it is through the language of music.

“Listen closely: 

You’ll hear their feet 

Beating out and beating out a—

 

You think It’s a happy beat?” (ll.5-7)

You have the power to express this repressed anger through speech and rhythms. And I can only conclude that this is due to its musical qualities, “Hey, pop! /Re-bop! /Mop! / Y-e-a-h!” (ll.18-21) Such a short stanza tells so much. It makes us listen to it, other than to read it.

As time progresses you experimented with different forms and techniques in your poems. you played with not just only imagery but also the other senses such as taste (Harlem Sweeties) and hearing (the Blues, Jazz Ringo, etc.). You experienced life and met other people, and got to know their dreams, not just your own. But it is the same dream. Looking back to As I Grew Older, you stated at the very first line:

It was a long time ago.

I have almost forgotten my dream. (ll.1,2) 

Yet this is a dream you have dedicated to during your entire life. It isn’t just “your dream,” it is a dream of freedom, of everyone’s freedom. You mentioned that the barrier, the “wall” almost cast your dream away, “Rose until it touched the sky—/ The wall.” (ll. 15,16) No matter how much your poems change in structure, what musical form you take on, or what stories you tell, you always attack this Wall that has been ever-present but needs to be broken down. You have always had the same dream.

Sincerely,

Cecilia Chen

 

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WDolan_Letter_To Langston_Hughes

Langston Hughes

January 11 2021

William Dolan

Student

Brookes Westshore

1939 Sooke Rd, Victoria, BC V9B 1W2

Colwood, British Columbia

 

Dear Mr. Langston Hughes,

I am writing this letter to tell you how much I enjoy your poetry. I especially found  “Ruby Brown” and “Negro” to be interesting and thought provoking.

My questions for you would be; How do you start your poems and what influences your ideas? What poet inspires you the most. What is your idea of blues poems? What blues structure do you prefer? What emotions do you think they should create? What is your favorite form of poem? I noticed you use multiple structures, topics, and moods throughout your works.

I found it easy to experience the mood you may have been feeling when you wrote “Ruby Brown”.  The emotion I encountered was joy and sadness.

“She was young and beautiful
And golden like the sunshine
That warmed her body.
And because she was colored
Mayville had no place to offer her,
Nor fuel for the clean flame of joy
That tried to burn within her soul

However with “Negro”, I felt emotions that included sadness, frustration and empathy. In the poem, you talk about black people’s contributions from the continent of Africa, to the country of America. Unless you take history, readers may not know what you mean by:

“The Belgians cut off my hands in the Congo.
They lynch me still in Mississippi.”

Did you initially question whether the vast majority of people would know what this means? What mood were you experiencing while writing this poem, and how do you view the world? Should more art like your poetry be included to promote different perspectives to make a better society?

I enjoyed your works and their creative content. They have benefitted my education about the arts and my heritage.

Thanks, and best wishes,

William Dolan

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Personal Response to Candide

Candide is a book written by Voltaire, in this story it shows the globe-trotting misadventures of Candide during the 18th century while searching for his love and losing people a long the way and reconnecting with them or finding them again later on in the story. Witnessing tragedy, and causing tragedy is something Candide experiences often.

One of the global issues that I see during Candide is War and Violence. Candide is set in a time of huge violence and wars due to this there is plenty imagery, stories, and scenes of war. Some of the scenes and stories take a toll on certain people and how it shapes them.

“‘Mademoiselle’, the old woman replied, ‘you are not aware of my pedigree. And were I to show you my bottom, you would not speak as you do but would immediately abandon your claim.'”

This is talking about how the old woman’s misfortunes from being a princess to a slave in morocco to escaping a mound of corpses to Constantinople where they are supposed to defend against the Russians.

Then during the time the Russians were trying to starve the soldiers inside Azov, the soldiers thought because they had no food they would eat the woman inside but there was a imam that said it would be beneficial to eat one buttock from each woman instead of killing them. Then she worked from inn to inn in Russia, then she became a maid to Don Issacar where then she was appointed to dear lady Cunegonde.

 

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Global issue in Antigone

Antigone is a tragedy by Sophocles written in or before 441 BCE and represents so many global issues, here I want to focus on “social justice” and mainly discuss it by using the relationship between Creon and Antigone.

In terms of social justice, Law vs Moral will be most visible in this play. From Creon’s point of view, he sees Polynices as a traitor because he fights his own people and his country to get the throne. In ancient Greece, fighting against one’s own family  is a big prohibition. So Creon believes that “…nor could I ever make that man a friend of mine who menaces our country” (p. 68). However, Eteocles first broke the promise of the Oedipus brothers to share the throne, and Polynices just used an extreme way to defend this promise. Therefore, Creon’s decision was unfair and immoral, because he passed all the responsibilities to Polynices, who tried to seek justice for himself. He says “No, he must be left unburied, his corpse carrion for the birds and dogs to tear, an obscenity for the citizen to behold” (p. 68). From this sentence, Creon doesn’t seem to fully assess the situation, such as the underlying cause, but automatically accuses Polynices based on his behavior.  In addition, as an uncle, Creon should respect Polynices, instead of putting his corpse in the open as animal food. He seems to have abandoned morality and obsessed with the law, and gives the most severe punishment to all those who violated the law. Even after knowing the fact that Antigone buried the body, he does not give any tolerance, but insisted on his own law and resolutely executed. He ignores the fact that Antigone is his son’s bride and his son’s advice. Maybe his starting point is good (punishing those who invade the country), maybe in his eyes his own laws and punishment are just and moral, but combined with objective facts, his behavior has been out of the moral track. Burying the dead is, after all, part of the moral code.

On the other hand, Antigone believes that the family is more important, so she secretly buries Polynices, even if it means that she would risk her life and violate the law. She says “I will bury him myself. And even if I die in the act, that death will be glory…” (p. 63). Antigone holds a decent funeral for Polunix, which is in keeping with the moral codes set by the gods respected and followed by the Greeks; in this case, the dead should be properly buried. From here, it can be seen that Antigone is on the moral side, the opposite of Law, combined with the situation at the time, she seems to be on the side of justice and has won the support of the audience. But is it right to perseverely break the law while knowing the existence of the law? Even in the end, Antigone still shows his disrespect for Creon and constantly blamed Creon. She complains in the end “…see what I suffer now at the hand of what breed of men-all for reverence, my reverence for the gods” (p. 107). Antigone is just an endless abuse of Creon. She has never looked at this law effectively, but the reason for making her a victim (justice) is that she supports morality, which is human love.

In the end of the play, both characters have a tragic ending. Antigone has hanged herself. Although Creon changes his mind and tries to release Antigone, Antigone commits suicide, and even his son and wife choose to end their lives. However, the discussion of “social justice” will never be finished. Is Creon right to decide on such a harsh punishment for breaking the law? Is Antigone right in burying her brother knowing very well that she was breaking the law? For the action of obeying the law, Creon seems to be right and just, but he does not have the most basic moral and human beings, which makes him an unjust role. And Antigone becomes a seemingly just role at the beginning since she supports morals and obeys the god laws, but her illegal behavior brings her a tragic end in the end. Therefore, what was right and what was wrong? Who decides what’s right and/or wrong? Maybe there is no a final answer.

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The Global issues of today, did not appear overnight

Throughout history, there have always been global issues. These kinds of problems affect the global community, and there are different kinds.
Global issues occur in real-life situations, and they can be found anywhere, from daily life situations to literature. For example, the play Antigone.

Antigone is a tragic play written by the ancient greek Sophocles. It was written a long time ago, around 442 BC. And still, it presents global issues that are common today. One example of a global issue presented in this play is individual vs. state. Normally, people have different points of view and perceptions due to their past experiences. This specific global issue emerges when the state punishes particular individuals that do not agree with their beliefs.

In the play of Antigone, there are different situations related to global issues. But the one of individual vs. state caught my attention as it is presented from the beginning of the play and lasts until the end. The main character, Antigone, is a girl that sticks to what she thinks is right regardless of the consequences. Since the start of the play, Antigone is presented to the reader as a woman with a clear vision of what is wrong or right. The issue of individual vs state starts to rise when her brother Polinycies died “as a traitor”, well that is the king’s perspective. And the king, Creon, announces that whoever dares to bury Polinicies body would die. Guess who did not care because her values are first than what the king declares? Yes, Antigone. Moreover, this is how this tragedy begins…

Antigone has clear that she will bury the body because, in the end, Ploinicies is her brother. Also, to bury people when they die is a Greek tradition. She talks to her sister, Ismene, hoping she will help her, and when she refused, Antigone did it herself. When Creon finds out is when the global issue of individual vs state appears. A huge fight between Antigone and Creon starts because Creon cannot believe she disobeyed. Antigone is satisfied with how she managed the situation, and there are no regrets about burring the body. When she is fighting with Creon, she says this quote that relates to this global issue. “Of course I did. It was not Zeus who made this proclamation- not to me. Nor did that justice, dwelling with the gods beneath the Earth, ordain such laws for men. Nor did I think your edict had such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods, the great unwritten, unshakable traditions.” (Antigone, p.80). This quote relates to the issue of individual vs state because normally ‘the state’ or, in other words, the rulers of a place, with the power they have, get blind and feel they can rule the way they want without taking into account others’ perspective. They end up feeling they are the most powerful creature. In this case, Creon feels he is right, and over the play, he gets mad with everyone that tries to prove him wrong. So if anyone differs from his opinion, he punishes them. And while Antigone and Creon are fighting, Antigone talks about another important aspect of this global issue. And this is how other people who rule the place will always agree with the most powerful person. For example, Antigone says, “….they would prise me too if they weren’t locked in fear….They see it just that way but defer to you and keep their tongues in leash” (p.84). And this also relates to this same issue because the other rulers, in this case, the Chorus, follow the more powerful person in the room, Creon, although they do not completely agree with him.

These are just two examples of how the global issue of individual vs state appears in this play, although there are many more. For me, these define this issue better. As it is still normal today that some dictator governments give horrible punishments to the people that do not follow their rules. A good example of this is Hitler, he was a dictator, and because of his belief toward the Jewish people, the second world war emerged. Another example is Venezuela, or North Korea that the government has been evaluated as a totalitarian dictatorship. It is crazy how dictators have been ruling since the beginning of time, and people who decide to speak up for their values and opinions end up with death punishment. This happens because the government does not want to look ‘weak’ in the population’s eyes; therefore, the citizens will keep ‘behaving correctly.’ In the case of the play Antigone, Creon, in the end, realizes that killing Antigone is a mistake. However, he realizes it too late.
It’s crazy how this problem started thousands of years ago, if not before, still happens. Isn’t history supposed to help the human race learn and not make the same mistakes? When do people who have power will stop feeling superior and stop being self-centered? When are rulers going to realize all the citizens’ perspectives and values need to be taken into account for decision making?

 

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Younger vs. elderly in the Antigone

The play Antigone by Sophocles, despite written around the year 441 BC, still is able to tackle multiple global issues that are present even today. One of these issues is the conflict of authority between the younger and the elderly. Older people, with their vast experience, learnt from living their lifetime, prefer to think that they should be the ones in power with the voice which matters because they are able to make decisions consequences of which they will be able to predict, and that makes perfect sense, as people with more experience will be more cautious and will be able to make better decisions. This tradition comes way back from the prehistoric days of the tribes, and so our society is built around this concept. The younger people, however, due to their irrational, immature mind prefer to think that they “know everything better,” and that they are making wrong decisions, and that makes perfect sense as well. Younger people are reluctant to follow orders under authority, they feel rebellious and think that the world needs a new perspective on things, and perhaps they are correct – the elderly sometimes miss things which need revisiting, or prefer not to touch the sensitive subjects. An example of this is the climate change movement which has recently been more active. The younger generation has been taking more action, both in form of protesting and discussions with the elderly. So, perhaps, both sides are needed to be able to achieve a result, however, the conflict of authority is eternal and unlikely to go away.

In the play, the issue is best seen in the interaction, not between Antigone, Ismene, and Creon, but between Creon and his son, Haemon, which also slightly shifts the issue into the “sons and fathers” area. Firstly, Haemon gives his father respect and tries to give a suggestion, but meets older’s pride. Creon expects his son to be obedient, to put him higher than Haemon’s bride – Antigone, who is about to be killed. And so he does, at least for now:

“Father, I’m your son… you in your wisdom set my bearing for me – I obey you. No marriage could ever mean more to me than you, whatever good direction you may offer.”
(Haemon, 709-712, 93)

As a good son, loyal to his father and the King, Haemon obeys and follows the orders. However, when it comes to Creon’s decision on killing Antigone, Haemon, as a younger member of the society and Antigone’s lover, sees a problem with this, and tries to respectfully offer a suggestion:

“Of course it’s not for you, in the normal run of things, to watch whatever men say or do, or find to criticize. The man in the street, you know, dreads your glance, he’s never say anything displeasing to your face. But it’s for me to catch the murmurs in the dark, the way the city mourns for this young girl. ‘No woman,’ they say, ‘ever deserved death less, and such a brutal death for such a glorious action.’” (Haemon, 768-779, 95)

Haemon uses his position as the King’s son to offer an alternative point of view, because he knows Creon will not execute him, acting as the city’s voice. And he once again tries to keep Creon calm, to not be “single-minded, self-involved, or assume the world is wrong and [he] is right.” (Haemon, 789-790, 95). This shows how the younger son recognizes the authority of his father and tries to be respectful, not to cause conflict, perhaps knowing about his father’s fragile pride. The chorus’ leader acts as a 3rd viewer, who agrees with both sides, saying that “both are talking sense.” (811, 96). Creon, however, is dissatisfied:

“So, men our age, we’re to be lectured, are we?- schooled by a boy his age?” (Creon, 813-814, 96).

Creon feels like his son is rebelling against him a child is trying to teach him, a grown, experienced man with wisdom. He only cares about Haemon’s age, not what he is trying to say. This shows how the elderly sometimes are blind to the fresh perspective of the younger, just because of their age. So, the younger one tries to offer a suggestion, but the elderly dismisses it and is offended by it, has his pride hurt.

Later in the play, we see that this ends up in a terrible fate – when Creon recognizes his mistake he rushes to give a proper burial to Polynices and to free Antigone from imprisonment, but he is too late – she is already dead. Then, we can see the opposite side of the issue. Haemon, clearly in grief caused by his bride’s death, tries to kill, or perhaps scare away his father with his sword, and then stabs himself to death.

“’…Come out my, son! I beg you on my knees!’ But the boy gave him a wild burning glance, spat in his face, not a word in reply, he drew his sword – his father rushed out, running as Haemon lunged and missed!” (Messenger, 1357-1361, 122)

While we could say that Haemon did this out of rage, grief about Antigone, and we would be right, it still shows how young and emotional Haemon acts completely irrational, following not his mind, but his heart, or rather hormones. This contrasts with the way he talked with his father, trying to convince him not to kill his bride. Then, we can say that this shows the opposite side of the conflict of authority between younger and elderly – the younger ones are still emotional and irrational and can make wrong decisions.

Overall, the play Antigone shows both sides of the global issue of the conflict of authority between the younger and the elderly, mentioning both the fragile pride of the more experienced elderly who sometimes cannot comprehend the alternate opinion coming from a younger, less experienced one, and the immaturity and irrationality of a younger mind when the two do not get together, and some catastrophic consequences it can lead to.

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Global Issue in Antigone

A global issue that stood out to me through reading Antigone is the idea of the state vs an individual. I feel that this global issue is strongly shown through the idea of ethics shown in this play. This issue of the state vs an individual is shown when Creon decides how the deaths of Eteocles and Polynices were going to be handled. When Antigone finds out that only one of her brothers was going to have a proper burial while the other was going to be left out for the dogs ad birds, she felt that both of her brothers deserved to have a proper burial and to be treated equally.  Antigone knows that going to burry her brother would be going against the rules which Creon had mad but she want to do what she thinks the right thing for her brother is. This is shown when Antigone is being questioned by Creon when he finds out what she had done.

Of course I did. It wasn’t Zeus, not in the least, who made this proclamation-not to me. Nor did that Justice, dwelling with the gods beneath the earth, ordain such laws for men. Nor did I think your edict had such force that you, a mere mortal, could override the gods, the great unwritten, unshakeable traditions. They are alive, not just today or yesterday: they live forever, from the first of time, and no one knows when they first saw the light.

These laws- I was not about to break them, not out of fear of some man’s wounded pride, and face the retribution of the gods. Die I must, I’ve known it all my life-how could I keep from knowing?-even without your death- sentence ringing in my ears. And if I am to die before my time I consider that a gain. Who on earth, alive in the midst of so much grief as I, could fail to find his death a rich reward? So for me, at least, to meet this doom of yours is precious little pain. But if I had allowed my own mother’s son to rot, an unburied corpse-that would have been an agony! This is nothing. And if my present actions strike you as foolish, let’s just say I’ve been accused of folly by a fool.

(p. 82)

This clearly shows the global issue of the state vs the individual through how we are able to look at this part of the play from both perspectives. From one perspective we can see that these are the rules which Creon had put in place as the leader, it would be expected that Antigone would have to follow these rules regarding the burial of her brother like she would have to follow any other rules put in place by Creon. This can also be looked at from the opposite perspective which is that Antigone was doing what she felt she needed to do. Antigone felt that it was wrong for one of her brothers to receive a proper burial while the other was left to rot and be eaten by the animals. Because of this she made the decision that she would have to go against Creon’s rules in order to do what she felt she had to do for her brother. This global issue raises the question of from a readers point of view did Antigone make the right decision or should she have just followed Creon’s rules and left her brothers body unburied.

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Personal Response To Candide

Candide, by Voltaire, touches on the subject of happiness. We meet and follow characters who believe that happiness is always achievable and others who find it impossible to find. Wealth and society impact the way people look at happiness and if happiness even is achievable.

Society and wealth play a big role in how we interact with people we meet, and the people we know. Class and wealth can give a person power socially over a person with your average salary If they were in the same room together. This, therefore, leads us all to believe that becoming rich and upper class, will change us for the better or take care of all our problems. Voltaire’s Candide shows how money really is not everything there is to live and what we really need in life to be somewhat happy.

Class and wealth do not give you permanent happiness. As humans, we get bored of what we once were once driven to receive or see but soon want more, something bigger and better, just like a little kid and how they will get a new toy then need the newest one tomorrow. Most people I find know this is not true that wealth will fix your problems but, when they are put into the actual situation of being around or being offered large amounts of money, they’re way of thinking disappears and it’s all about the money, regular taking is thrown out the window caution doesn’t matter just the money. Money in Candide is everything, everyone wants it and is trying to gain more of it. Even within the book when Candide asks for a boat ride to Venice it costs him 10 thousand, the sailor realizes how easy it was to get the money out of Candide and asked for 20 thousand, then 30. Candide is desperate and forks over the money foolishly. The sailor then takes off before

Candide is even on the ship along with his money. Money can disappear quickly anyone can take it at any given moment in time. We see an example of this when Candide met the six dethroned kings. They may not be poor but are unhappy and tired. Once your class and wealth are gone it leaves you feeling like nothing since you have become used to these luxuries.

Money is still able to even bore someone, even if you have all the money and wealth you can become bored. For example (P 100) “Don’t you see that everything he poses disgusts him?” Martin replied “Plato said a long time ago that the best stomachs are not the ones that reject food” Martin is saying how people in need would beg to be in the situation that the man they have met is in, yet men like him become spoiled and don’t know what pleasure is anymore. Therefore, these kinds of people are the ones rejecting the food ignorantly.

Without struggle, humans will lose their perception of what makes them happy since they will have already been there done that if life was harmless and always happy. We need to feel sadness and struggle to keep life interesting. Without struggle or work, we end up having nothing to look forward to each day it all just becomes a blend of nothingness. towards the end of the book, Candide meets a gentleman who invites him into his house. The gentlemen explain how does not know about anything of what is going on around him and just focuses on his own life, minding his own business. (P.118) “work keeps three great evils at bay: boredom, vice and want” This man is perfectly happy as far as we can tell and just pays attention to taking care of himself while working away. This shows Candide and the readers how there can be happiness without ridiculous wealth and class.

Work keeps us content with how life may be going on around us. Without it, we would have nothing to work towards. It is a necessary part of our lives and we cannot just get rid of it by creating a utopia of some sort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Candide by Voltaire: On the Meaning of Life

Time and time again, I, and certainly a large portion of people, confront the question of why we exist, and consequentially, what goals I should strive for to be happy in my life. And this is a theme which permeates throughout Voltaire’s book Candide, presenting itself as a form of irony which reinflicts itself upon the main protagonist Candide.

Candide is perpetually in a limbo of justification. He worries endlessly: am I acting morally? Especially, is this world morally positive, or anarchically tendencied towards indifference and suffering? These two opposing standpoints are reflected in Candide’s companions Pangloss and Martin, Pangloss advocating our ability to alter fate is benign and that destiny is not found, but predetermined, while Martin advocates an indifference about the world, where empathy is immaterial and suffering is the quality of life. Candide is always limbo between these two schools of thought, swaying from the belief of Pangloss’ “best possible world” when events proceed in benefit to him, while in times of suffering and remorse, he would resort to Martin’s beliefs.

However, and this I believe is where Voltaire’s opinion illuminates itself, is the irony underlining this whole dilemma. In Candide, no resolution is found in travel with Martin nor Pangloss, and events contradict both philosophers’ teachings. With Pangloss’ teaching at heart, Candide’s love Cunegonde is kidnapped from Thunder-ton-Tronckh, he encounters poverty in the Netherlands where he finds Pangloss withered and permanently blemished, and even Pangloss is hung following a misconceived condemnation via lynching of his party during the Spanish Inquisition in the book. Whereas for Martin, his cynicism falls short in determining what happiness really means for us, his advocation of life as being eternal misfortune is refuted by this statement, “‘Let us work without reasoning,’ Martin said. ‘It is the only way to make life bearable.’ (p.119)”

Additionally Voltaire’s own ethos may be used to affirm this resolution: “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.” And this one: “Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.” Voltaire did not know why Pangloss nor Martin’s beliefs were wrong, yet his school of thought was that there is doubt in the world, and Candide’s questioning on what the world should mean is a situation of such.

I am unsure what to conclude from reading Candide, as the effect the book has upon me is unclear, however one thing is definite: whatever Candide was searching for in terms of resolution he did not find, and that this resembles the real world in how things have no inherent meaning and that truth is probably not what it seems. To address a certain perspective: some may argue Cunegonde was the resolution Candide was looking for, but can that really be true?  I don’t know if love is the answer to happiness, if happiness can easily be that simple; maybe even happiness is not the answer to life resolution. And this is what I mean when I say Voltaire’s irony. Therefore, the best conclusion I can have, along with Candide: “…we must cultivate our garden.”

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Personal Response to Candide

Candide, written by Voltaire is a satirical novel that outlines the idea of optimism existing within the world. Voltaire had been one of the main figures of the Enlightenment. Many people viewed him as their hero. He had written Candide within 1759 and had placed many historical events such as The Seven Years War within his novel. He had used Candide as a way to help people nowadays understand how the various terrible events during the 18th century affected many individuals. Voltaire’s main character named Candide had gone from living a good life to a very terrible one through the progression of the novel. Candide had been taught by his teacher Dr. Pangloss to believe that they lived in “the best of all possible worlds” (p. 4). This belief Dr. Pangloss had taught Candide to believe was the reason for the continuous optimism Candide showed throughout the novel. Even when everything felt wrong to Candide he believed that he lived in the best of all possible world and therefore everything will get better in time.

One of the global issues that I had seen within Candide had to do with Violence and War. With Candide having its setting during the 18th century we had read about various events that the main characters had gone through. One of the main events was The Seven Years War that lasted from 1756 to 1763. The unpleasantness of events such as this was quite clearly depicted within Candide to have devastating effects on many people…

“The following day, Candide was out walking when he came across a beggar converted in pustules. He had lifeless eyes, a nose that was rotting away, a mouth that was twisted, black teeth, and a rasping voice, He coughed violently, spitting out a tooth every time” (p. 11).

Within this quote, we read about a beggar that Candide comes across. The beggar is suffering from poverty and lack of help from others, he has been left to suffer alone because the people during this time cared more about themselves rather than others. In a way people were greedy and I feel that Candide was one of the few characters within the novel who was willing to help others instead of just letting them die. With War, it brings pain and not much benefit.  People suffer from loss, while others celebrate because from War there is almost always a winner. Some people feel a certain value from being a winner of war and that is why War is real. People care about themselves instead of others and that is what Voltaire was trying to express partly within his novel.

Voltaire’s Candide makes us question why our world is the way it is and whether or not, whatever happens, is for the best. However, are we talking about for the best of ourselves or the best of others? Is violence really the best way for change or is not taking action at all the best way of achieving change? People think in different ways and Voltaire viewed the world with great optimism that it really was the best it could ever be. I feel that through Candide Voltaire was able to make his belief more agreeable with the world. We are the reason for everything, are we not? We make choices, carry out actions, believe in what we feel is right, and live in a world that is and forever will be changing because of our existence.

 

 

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WDolan Response to Candide

My chosen global issues are beliefs, values, and education. Candide represents these global issues as he follows ideas implanted in his head by Dr. Pangloss. He refuses to turn away from those values even if they are not for the better good.

Candide is a scornful novel that mockingly explores the evident unpredictability of our lives,  religion, and optimism, thinking that everything occurs for a purpose and that each of us produce our share of luck to make a lasting happiness.

How do the chosen global issues tie into Candide? They address the main elements communicated within the story, and reflect some of the elements included within a real historical timeframe which was the Enlightenment. In society today, we have ideas implanted into our minds either by visual media or governments that tend to create a vision for what the future or present should look like. Based on our education, there are many values and belief’s we follow. Candide’s education by Dr. Pangloss is what influenced his beliefs, values, and education.

In what way are the ideas presented in Candide an example of how we should be vigilant when it comes to caring for those we love? Do Candide’s values reflect our tendency to be unforgiving and full of hatred toward those who hurt us? Should we be more optimistic when it comes giving people a chance to redeem themselves from their mistakes? Should society be more critical towards the ethics behind politics, the treatment of women, religious knowledge systems, and corrupt power of money?

Although Candide may have a comical approach towards the principals of optimism, It has many underlying properties that reflect a better society. I think Candide is an important read for individuals, since it allows people think critically around the comical aspect of the story. Individuals can reflect on the global issues mentioned in the story and add the values into their daily lives.

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Candide: Personal Reflection

In Candide, there is a lot packed into a relatively thin book. Beneath the surface of a series of comical but realistic events of 18th century Europe, Voltaire criticizes Leibniz’s philosophy of Optimism and also includes his own philosophical views here and there. Many of them left an impression, but I want to write specifically about the objectification of art and artists in Candide. Objectification is constantly found in Candide, in terms of the objectification of women, various races, and slaves. In this context, I specifically refer to the dehumanization of artists, and the subjective value of the produced art.

When the group watches a tragical play in France, Candide, fascinated by the actress playing Queen Elizabeth, asked “how the queens of England should be approached in France.” (p.76) Candide calls the actress the “queen,” when she is really just a performer.

 “One must make a distinction,” the abbé replied. “In the provinces one takes them to an inn; in Paris one shows them respect while they are beautiful but throws them onto a garbage dump when they are dead.” (p.77)

By making a “distinction” between the different ways of approaching the actress, suggests that stage artists in the provinces and in Paris are valued differently. When in fact, whether skilled or not skilled, they are all performers. “Takes them to an inn,” gives me the visual impression of “pulling” them off the stage, entering reality. It is hypocritical not to realize that the artist isn’t only a role in the play, but is also human, and should be treated as one. Candide is eager to approach the actress offstage, “for she seems quite admirable.” (p.78) To keep their desirability as an actor or actress, performers are expected to keep wearing their roles offstage.

However, admiration and respect does not last long, for when they die, they are refused the “honor of burial” from the Catholic church. This contrast of treatment has nothing to do with their humanistic qualities, but rather it is just because they are performers. Mademoiselle Monime is Voltaire’s reference to his friend, an actress who received poor burial. “She had a noble mind,” (p.78) he writes, indicating that her terrible burial had nothing to do with her personal qualities, nor is something that she deserves. Voltaire calls it “contradictions” and “incompatibilities,” (p.77). The Church does not appreciate the artistic value of the actors and actresses. But just because the plays don’t serve for the Church’s interest, does not mean the actors and actresses are unholy or unworthy of burial.

Nevertheless, Candide quickly moves on in his journey of searching for answers. He visits Count Pococurante. Amazed by his prosperity and lack of appreciation for his collections, Pococurante made me think about the value of art. Count Pococurante claims that he cannot “like a painting unless I can believe I am seeing nature itself,” (p.98) which seems to suggest that art’s value is determined by one’s subjective opinion, or as we say today, art is subjective. The clergymen of the Church, the play critic, (whom Voltaire describes as “serpents of literature,” (p.78)) and Count Pococurante cannot appreciate art, because they ignore and reject the artistic intent of the artists. If you objectify art by giving it a fixed physical value, label the artist, or use art for a purpose, such as satisfying one’s “vanity,” (p.95) there is no doubt that the real message intended from the artists are ignored.

Art, as an everlasting method of communication, along with its communicators, are injured by this objectification. Candide and his group of friends move on very fast in the plot, similar to how fast everything is happening in the world today. But art is always present. It is always there for us to appreciate if we wish to. Compared to other things, there’s only several short passages that mention those issues with art in Candide. But it also matches up to his philosophical remark at the end, “we must cultivate our garden.” (p.119) In this sense, it is very important for one to cultivate one’s own garden. It is impossible to appreciate the value of art when one’s heart has nothing to resonate with it.

 

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Personal Response to Candide

Candide, by Voltaire, explores the everpresent global issue of happiness; specifically the facades we put up to simulate it. Throughout this novel, we observe a differentiation between optimistic and pessimistic characters; ones who believe happiness is easily achievable, and ones who scrutinize the lack of it. We witness Candide conforming to the philosophy he has been told to believe—that we’re living in the best of all possible worlds—then we see him branch away and truly question his own beliefs on Leibnizian optimism. Amidst that, Candide raises questions regarding our reliance on others to make us happy, and the deception of our appearances.

When Candide first sees Paquette and Brother Giroflée, he claims, “But as for this girl and her monk, I will wager that they are truly happy creatures,” (p. 90) to which Martin replies, “I will wager that they are not.” (p. 90) Brother Giroflée is described as having, “sparkling eyes, a confident air, a superior look, and a proud gait,” (p. 90) and Paquette as, “very pretty and was singing.” (p. 90). Later, after learning the stories of both people, Candide comes to realize that Martin was correct; their happy exteriors did not match their true, “unfortunate” feelings. Paquette tells Candide, “I have to seem in a good mood to please a monk,” (p. 92) which leads to a theory of why we mask our true feelings behind facades of happiness: to please others.

In a way, the satirical genre of the novel coincides with this global issue. On the surface, it’s lighthearted, humorous, and absurd. Yet underneath, it tackles issues of importance. There are a variety of levels at which we can process this story; as we dig deeper, we are exposed to more profundities. This is a parallel to the gradation of happiness we remark in different characters; we must search for their values and emotions, since we can’t necessarily trust what they originally display.

After forming the conclusion, with Martin’s help, that one without sorrows is a “rare specimen” (p. 94), Candide decides, “Well . . . no man can be happy, except for me when I see Cunegonde again.” (p. 100) Candide is tying his happiness to someone else, rather than finding it from within or from a healthy source. Relying on someone else for something as fundamental as happiness is toxic, because if that person lets you down, you’re risking your wellbeing. Throughout this novel, Candide continuously loses people dear to him. In fact, he repeatedly loses Cunegonde; it’s a cycle of being separated then reunited. When Candide is without these people, we see glimpses of unhappiness and pessimism. The first time he reunites with Cunegonde, he’s elated. When he realizes Pangloss and the baron are alive, he can’t believe his luck and joy. However, in the concluding chapter of Candide, he starts finding himself profoundly bored, and even points out, “there is a horrible amount of evil in the world.” (p. 117) The spark of that initial reunion has faded, and the happiness along with it. This is what happens when you tie your happiness to someone; this is why we must find alternative sources for it.

In the final chapter of Candide, he has a conversation with a Turk, who spends his days cultivating his estate with his children. He claims, “Work keeps three great evils at bay: boredom, vice, and want.” (p. 118) After profoundly contemplating this conversation, Candide makes his notable concluding quotation,

“That is well said,” Candide replied, “but we must cultivate our garden.” (p. 119)

We don’t see what Candide does after saying this. We don’t know whether he follows through longterm on this newfound philosophy; whether he combats boredom, vice, and want; whether he’s happy. Is cultivating his garden—himself— a way of finding happiness from an alternative source? This novel allows us to reflect upon our own lives; it allows us to question whether we’re hiding behind a facade of happiness. Beyond that, it prompts us to wonder what we can do to find happiness. If we were to ask ourselves this, and profoundly contemplate it like Candide does, would we reach the same conclusion? Would we find happiness through cultivating our garden?

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Candide: Personal Response

In Candide, Voltaire grapples with the global issue of beliefs, values, and education, and proposes an answer throughout it: most people are hypocrites. We often like to assume everyone has stead-fast morals, but while reading Candide, we are presented with a far different idea, and one that forces us to reconsider reality despite it’s initial ridiculousness.

Education is one of the key ways through which we build our moral systems. In Candide, Pangloss is Candide’s initial educator, to which Candide “listened attentively and believed innocently” and whom he thought to be “the greatest philosopher in all the province” (p. 5). Throughout the novel, Candide has many mentors, and all of them have one thing in common– they tell Candide what to do instead of encouraging him to think for himself. This is one of the hypocrisies Voltaire brings attention to: we educate in order to make our populous smart, and yet in Voltaire’s time, and sometimes in our time as well, our education teaches students not to think for themselves. Candide is an exaggeration of that perfect student concept, as he trusts his mentors, and everyone else, completely and without question. Though few in reality exhibit such extreme faith, there is an astonishing number of people who have morals they only believe because others told them to, and who would be unable to defend those beliefs against any serious inquisition.

There are those who cannot justify their morals, and also those who do not abide by them. Throughout Candide, Voltaire largely focuses on the hypocrisy of religious institutions, but includes examples of everyday hypocrisy as well. After one of Candide’s tragedies, he approaches a religious orator who “had just addressed a big crowd for a whole hour on the topic of charity”, and asks him for a portion of bread. The orator, believing Candide to be Catholic, replies “‘You don’t deserve any… Go away, you rogue, you wretch!'” (p. 10).  Similarly, we learn that one of Candide’s companions is “the daughter of Pope Urban X” (p. 31), even though the pope is supposed to be celibate; that a Jesuit Reverend  felt “a most tender friendship” for Cunegonde’s brother, despite the Jesuits denouncing homosexuality (p. 47); that the referend Franciscan Father stole Cunegonde’s diamonds and money (p. 28), despite that Franciscans weren’t supposed to own any possessions; etc.

None of the religious figures in Candide abide by their doctrines, and most of the regular people are no better. Pangloss decries the merciless Bulgars for ravaging their barony, then says: “but we were well avenged, for the Avars did exactly the same to a neighboring barony belonging to a Bulgar lord” (p. 13). Cunegonde’s brother forgives Candide for stabbing him, saying “I admit I was a little too rash myself” (pp. 109-110) in reference to his outburst when Candide announced his intention to marry Cunegonde. Three pages later, he acts in the exact same way he was just apologizing for, and says “no! My sister shall never marry anyone but a baron of the Empire!” (p. 113). During the old woman’s tale, she tells Candide that she “was left dying on a heap of corpses” and that “such scenes were taking place all over an area of more than three hundred leagues around, without anyone neglecting the five prayers a day prescribed by Mohammed. ” (p. 34). In short, everyone in Candide is a hypocrite.

This pessimistic view of common morality holds an unfortunate amount of truth and applicability to our present-day conditions. Though everything in Candide may seem like an over the top exaggeration, that only makes it more impactful when we realize that it isn’t really so far off of reality in at least some places, for some people. The discussion of beliefs, values, and education in Voltaire’s Candide is one worth paying attention to, and certainly worth reflecting on.

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Personal Response to Candide

The novel Candide by François-Marie Arouet, who is also well known as Voltaire, written in 1759, is a satirical and philosophical tale that debunks the popular belief of “the best in the best of all possible worlds.” The story was told from Candide’s perspective and initially targeted Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, a German mathematician and philosopher. The content is repetitive, and some of the themes frequently occurring are optimism and disillusion, social criticism, the hypocrisy of religion and philosophy, politics and power of justice, and love and women.  

A global issue brought up in Candide is politics, justice, and the corrupting power of money. There has been a hierarchy of powers; with money comes power, and thus, without money, the characters ought to be slaves. Candide being rich is a great irony in the novel; not only does his money help him along his journey, but it also holds him back. His riches make him a target for attentiveness and thievery. He was referred to as an ‘English lord’ because he was unbothered by his fortune loss. “Among those who did him the honours of the town was a little Abbé of Perigord.”(XX 156). His money regularly attracts false friends and helpers and is robbed several times during the novel. He listens to countless stories of miseries along his journey and awards money to the most despairing person. His behavior resembles the old woman’s to some extent, as they compare misfortunes. When we talk about how his riches helped him, it is referred to as bribery, “If the Governor makes any difficulty, give him a million.” (XIX 136). The power of money helps him rescue the love of his life, Cunegonde, from the Governor. Having money includes its benefits; for example, the noble Signor Pococurante owned a beautiful palace and lived his best life, although it did not buy him happiness. Candide was not always rich; during his poverty, he saw and caused bloodshed. After gaining wealth, the audience watches his optimism slowly turn more into pessimism. He was involved in the killings of the Baron and the Inquisitor, even though he caused bloodshed; it seemed as if he was sorrier to see his money disappear than witness bloodshed.

The global issue of politics also includes human rights and justice. People must be allowed the basic rights of freedom and speech. However, these often are neglected in the novel. Certain ethnic groups are tortured for the most stupid reasons, this occurs to a point where the audience is unable to distinguish between the reality and the comical side of the events.  “The burning of a few people alive by a slow fire…is an infallible secret to hinder the earth from quaking.” (VI 47). These are incredibly bizarre superstitions followed by the Portuguese. They established ways to torture visitors and their people for “speaking their mind” and “refusing to eat bacon.” Individuals are forbidden to speak their thoughts and tortured for refusing to eat something that could perhaps be against their religion. This point has been re-established in chapter 25, during Candide’s visit to Italy. “In all our Italy we write only what we do not think…the Antoninuses dare not acquire a single idea without the permission of a Dominican friar.” (197). Citizens are barred from having a different opinion than that of others, and if they must ⏤ they shall face the consequences.

A difference of opinions is shown throughout the novel, “Thou does not deserve to eat.” (III 32). This quotation was used by the orator while asking Candide about the Pope. As Candide was unbothered and had a different opinion than the orator, he was declared not to be served food. Our opinions are shaped through previous experiences and concrete evidence; although Candide’s was mostly constructed by Pangloss’ philosophy, it is unjust to criticise someone’s beliefs. This leads to Candide trying to classify himself as ‘just.’ “Candide asked to see the court of justice, the parliament.” (XVIII 127).  There has been no previous information for the existence of a ‘law court’ in the book. The entire world is shown to be in chaos, yet no reference has been made to a court of justice. An aspect that is confusing is, if the government refused to take action in other countries/cities, why would a parliament exist in a paradise such as El Dorado? Candide tries to initiate a just environment and tries to make amends after killing a significant number of people. “I have made ample amends by saving the lives of these girls.” (XVI 106). Candide is the type of character who would understand the consequences of his actions once he has caused the conflict. The killing of any sort has no relation with making amends of any kind. Cacambo, on the other hand, describes the chaos as “a masterpiece of reason and justice.” (XIV 93). The privileged becoming wealthier and the unprivileged becoming poorer is not a masterpiece. Individuals being tortured daily does not spark as justice to anyone. People are said to get what they deserve, but in the 18th century, this does not seem to be fair. “Why should the passengers be doomed also to destruction?” (XX 148). This represents inequality; individuals must not suffer due to someone else’s actions. Voltaire indicates this as God’s justice but the ‘devil’s mischief.’

A philosophical question raised by the novel was, is an optimistic view a practical perspective of the world? And to that my answer would be no. Not every event can be the best of all possible worlds. An individual’s life can never be the best or the worst of all possible worlds; there is always a neutral. Candide could be referred to as a ‘sympathetic hero.’ There are circumstances in the novel that impose a particular standard of power. For example, in chapter 26, six dethroned kings enjoyed supper together at an inn. It is a surprising coincidence for six dethroned kings to have a dinner together at an inn in Venice. This also proves the answer to the philosophical question. The kings were rich and powerful, but not for too long; once they were dethroned, they would live an ordinary life.

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The venom of power

Overall, I have enjoyed the play Oedipus the King, mostly for its plot, which, despite being short, is able to fit quite a lot of dilemma in itself. questioning the nature of human, the nature of actions and destiny, the fate. It has summoned an entire spectrum of emotions in me, from joy, when Oedipus finally uncovers the truth about himself, to pity, to actual revulsion, when, ironically, Oedipus finally uncovers the truth about himself. The main question raised by the play, whether we are in control of our own decisions is quite deep and requires a thorough analysis, however, from my point of view, Sophocles’ religious take on it is impressive, but sometimes too confusing. For example, the moment where Oedipus blinds himself is still puzzling me. We know from literature, that darkness represent the evil, pain, the “bad”, while light represents joy, heroism, the “good”. Then, it remains a confusion (at least for me), why Oedipus puts himself into eternal darkness, while shouting that he does not want to see pain no more? Does he blind himself by his own hand, or by the Gods’ will? Is it nothing, but an illusion of control over his destiny? Either way, he is now forever blind, in darkness, in pain. Then, is the prophecy true? Was he born for pain? Was he in control of his decision, or is it his fate?

Other than the plot, an interesting observation which I spent some time thinking on, is the development of Oedipus’ and Creon’s characters. They are both noble, they are both (at some point) kings, and they end the same fate. In Oedipus the King, Oedipus, who was the child of royal family, develops from being a intelligent, sensible hero who saved Thebes by solving the phoenix’ riddle, into a senseless, emotional baby, subject to his own phobias. Of course, it is understandable, we are all just human, even if royal, but then if we look at Creon’s character, we can observe similar behavior. In Oedipus the King, he is a sensible, moral, relative of the queen, person with good intentions. When Oedipus accuses him, he defends himself, when blind Oedipus is lying in front of him, he shows compassion and “shows” Oedipus his kids, even if presenting more of a cold approach. However, later, in Antigone, he will also go mad, lose his senses and become completely irrational. From this, we can ask another question, how does power affect people? If all people who were in power ended up, to say, crazy, then can we call power evil? What should we do with power? Should anyone have such power?

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Oedipus the King

I personally really enjoyed reading the story of Oedipus the king. Although this was a story which was written quite a while ago and a story that was written in a different way compared to what we are used to nowadays, I felt that the story line was very interesting which is what kept me interested in the story and wanting to continue reading it. When we initially read the Oedipus was told he was going to kill his father and marry his mother I felt that it was kind of a crazy idea and that it would not actually happen which is why I was very surprised and I became more interested in the story after reading that Oedipus had actually killed his father and ended up marrying his mother. I also feel like the irony used in how Oedipus didn’t know he had killed his father as he was working towards trying to find the person who did , was something which made the story more interesting from a readers point of view.

When Oedipus finds out that he would kill his father and mother he decides to leave and get away from Polybus and Merope before he is even certain that they are actually his parents. in making this decision it is not that Oedipus had bad intentions, or that he realized he would end up killing his actual father and marrying his mother, it is just that he didn’t think through what he was doing before he did it. This is something which I can personally connect to because I sometimes find myself in a situation where I am asking “why did I do that” or “what was I thinking” and often in these situations I just hadn’t really thought about what I was doing before I had done it.

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The rise of million questions without clear answers


Anyone would think that it is easy to write two paragraphs of a small play. The reality is that it is a hard task. Small plays, with small dialogues are fast to read. Although they have hidden meanings underlines, so the reader has to pay more attention and read carefully. In other words a small text has a lot to reflect on. Ant that makes it harder to write just two paragraphs. And you may think, why? Well, while reading, more and more, questions keep rising. And “Oedipus the King” is the best example for this.

With a lot of irony through its pages, in this play the reader is told the tragic story of Oedipus. Throughout the play the audience are introduced to new characters and to their respective personalities. For example, the main character, Oedipus. He is an impulsive and irrational person who looses his temper fast. Creon, the brother of Jocasta thinks Oedipus is that way. Let me be more specific, he says “Not if you see thing calmly and rationally” (p.193) referring that Oedipus is not that way. Even so, it does not matter much what Creon thinks, what matters is what the reader sees. In the play the descriptions of characters’ personalities are not exactly written down, but there are different situations where the reader gets to know the characters based on how they react to those situations. Going back to Oedipus example, there is evidence that he does indeed have this personality. I’m pretty sure most of the readers think that Oedipus is that way too. And here is where questions start rising. Is he a good person? Why if I am similar to Oedipus? Small questions, but at the same time they are really big. And after the questions, the reflection shows up. It is amazing how an ancient play seems to be speking right at us today. The example of Oedipus was just that, an example. But in the play there is more to think about, million more questions, which will have millions of different answers. But still at the end, many of those questions will never be answered, and by trying to due so more questions will apear.

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Personal Response to The Odyssey

The Odyssey by Homer is an epic poem. It begins with the main hero of the poem Odysseus stuck on an island, about 10 years after the Trojan War. He had become trapped on this island after angering the god Poseidon. The gods had, later on, discussed Odysseus’s fate, for what they should do next with his life.

The Odyssey had been created more or less so for listeners rather than readers. In the past, people would listen to poets or Rhapsodes telling the story. The people who would pay to listen to the poem were individuals who already had an understanding of most of the events and how the poem was arranged. The poem is arranged in a way that would confuse someone who is reading it for the first time. For me at least I continuously found myself reading the poem with no understanding as to what I was actually reading. I think this happened due to how boring the book was because it lacked the idea of suspense. The poem had been put together by more than one poet. Various poets had brought together their stories, greek myths songs, and many other things they had heard in their past into the poem. They made sure The Odyssey had a fixed meter throughout, repetition of passages from the past, and certain details in each book about how the gods, beasts, or location within specific parts of the story looked. Through these things, the poets were able to keep themselves attached to the narrative parts of the poem. Like how the chorus keeps themselves attached to the songs within a poem or book.

The gods throughout The Odyssey have the ability to change anything however they like, they can stop and start wars, they can kill and trap people and so much more. Most of the mortal humans within The Odyssey find themselves trying to please the gods in any way they can so that they will be protected and hopefully suffer no harm for their actions. They pray, even bad people pray for the gods to help them. Or at least give an offering to the gods as the suitors did. “As for ourselves, we’ll make restitution of wine and meat consumed, and add, each one, a tithe of twenty oxen with gifts of bronze and gold to warm your heart. Meanwhile, we cannot blame you for your anger” (p. 411).

A question that on many occasions crossed my mind was: what does Odysseus want? At first, when I read about his travels we read about how he stayed in comfort with the witch Kirke for about a year. He slept with her and this made me question whether or not he wanted to get home. Since it seemed as if O did not love his wife Penelope. Another time this question arose within my mind was when Odysseus went to Hades. There he learned that no matter what, life was better than death. In Hades, he saw people in pain, he felt the fire on his skin and eventually noticed that his mother was there. He talked to her and was surprised that she had died. I believe that once Odysseus had realized his father was still alive he wanted to go and visit him and see his wife before she died as well. This reason to see his father must have been why Book XXIV was written.

I found The Oddysey very difficult to understand. I at times became lost as to what I was reading because I had barely any previous knowledge or liking of ancient Greek mythology in my past. I feel that when it comes to individuals who do not have background information about the different parts of Greek mythology then it would be unwise to try to read The Odyssey by yourself. You would most likely find yourself either lost like I was or confused as to what you are reading. I disliked how the places Odysseus had found himself in for example Kirke’s island or Kalypso’s island were only small parts of the poem. The poem does not share much about Odysseus’s experiences within these new places on his journey home. Places like these Odysseus had found himself in could honestly be written individually as small books or poems. If this was done and The Odyssey was written in separate small books or poems then would it be easier to understand the adventures Odysseus had gone through? The Odyssey does not explain enough of Odysseus’s adventures and this brings up many questions we can not answer.

The lack of suspense within the poem made me not want to read it. We knew what was eventually going to happen, we needed to know this however to understand The Odyssey better. Without having this small amount of information about the order of events it would take you a considerable amount of time to understand what is going on and where specific books in the poem are taking place. Nonetheless, the Odyssey is an interesting book that I recommend for someone to read with assistance. Whether a teacher or someone who understands The Odyssey enough to answer basic questions the reader may have about it.

 

 

 

 

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The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice is a literary and dramatic work created by Shakespeare in the 16th century, in which various topics such as love and money are discussed. One of my favorite parts is the plot reversal in the final trial. When Shylock was about to take a pound of flesh from Antonio, Portia used a logical trap to reverse the whole situation. That is, Shylock must do so without letting Antonio bleed, because the contract does not stipulate that he has any right to bleed. Until the end, Shylock had to accept two unkind conditions from Antonio. All of these are so incredible to me, and I feel a little ridiculous. After all, a logical trap turns Shylock from a strong side to a weak side. But it is undeniable that this is a very attractive clip.

I learn many things from this play. I will specify some points. First thing is the love and loyalty, we can see this clearly from Antonio. Although Bassanio owed a lot of debts at the beginning, Antonio chose to trust him and support him in his pursuit of love, even thinking about the future of Bassanio when his life was in danger. Including the love between Bassanio and Portia is also worthy of our observation. Does Bassanio really love Portia or does he prioritize Portia’s money? In the end, Bassanio gave out the ring he agreed with Portia is actually a good proof. I also learn something about Mercy. As we can see, the conflict between Sherlock and Christians culminates in the question of mercy. Indeed, Shylock’s firm adherence to the law in court and his lack of mercy make the audience think that he is a villain, but are Christians really merciful? In fact, whether it is the Christians’ teasing and discriminating against Jews in the beginning, or the seemingly merciful conditions from Antonio to Shylock in the end, the Christian theory of Mercy seemed very fake. So what is the real mercy and other issues need us to further explore.

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The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice, written by William Shakespeare is a play that that addresses the issues of discrimination, equality and religion directly and discreetly. That is part of what I found the most interesting. Shakespeare’s work is still relevant years after and relevant to today’s problems and beliefs.

The most interesting thing for me is that right now we can empathize and relate to an antagonist that was previously hated. Reading and performing Shylock’s speech made us look things from his point of view, letting us understand his suffering. Watching the play in general was useful, thanks to that we were able to imagine the scene and characters before even reading it making us more sensitive to the small details within the play.

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Merchant Of Venice- Andrea Ita

Something I noticed after reading the play was how Judaism and Christianity are not seen as just religions, they have a meaning behind it, and they give a big importance to it as if they were racial identities. The play shows us how Christians treated the Jews and how it was just all about money, how they used Shylock so that he would lend them money but, after Antonio did not pay him back, they went to court and everything backfired on Shylock. This raises questions for the readers such as whether we should sympathize with shylock as he is seen as a victim for racism. Something that I like about this play is how they Shakespeare emphasizes on the importance of a good friendship, how Antonio and Bassanio are willing to do everything for one another. However, the author makes us wonder if their relationship mis more than just a friendship as Antonio’s sadness could be related with Bassanio, but we never got the answer to this in the play, so I think it is just based on the way you interpret their dialogues.

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WDolan_Odyssey_Reflection

The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer, taking place in ancient Greece. It focuses on the ten year struggle of Odysseus returning home after the Trojan war. During Odysseus’ battles with mythical creatures and the wrath of the gods, his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus fight to hold off suitors, who want to marry Penelope, and behold the throne of Ithaka.

The Odyssey should be given credit for its mass amount of geographical information, and use of an attention grabbing theme. It involves a hero and who is trying to make his way home to his family, and throne. The from uses dactylic hexameter, which is a form of rhythmic tempo within poetry. It includes 6 foot lines where every foot has either a long syllable followed by two short ones (this is called a dactyl), or just two more long syllables (this is called a spondee). The first four feet can either be a dactyl or a spondee, and the fifth is usually a dactyl.

I found the Odyssey interesting for it’s form and use of suspense. Many detailed parts of the book seemed like they could have been left out to keep the reader engaged in the action. It took a long time to reach the end goal, and the ending was ruined by the potential of another war. The interruption of Odysseus’ reunion with his family seemed unnecessary to me. The repeating of the characters traits such as: “grey eyed Athena” was irritating. It’s inclusion of themes such as seduction, paradise, death, and temptation were fascinating as they reflect the problems of modern day humanity. The idea that there may never be a paradise that can satisfy every individual therefore being a form of death within itself was engrossing.

In conclusion, the Odyssey is not a horrible book. However, it is not something I would recommend to readers (especially millennials) as it is very extensive, and doesn’t seem to have enough of a connection with the modern world.

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Shakespeare continues to teach through his plays


“The Merchant of Venice” is a play that, despite the time that passes, does not loses its charm. I really enjoy plays in general, it is one of my favorite genders of literature. About this play, I really liked the story, the drama, and the things I learned from it. I learned, since the history at that time, to the words that are no longer used in modern English. When watching the movie and after reading the play, I realized that creating a movie of such a famous play is not an easy task. A lot of people are going to like it and a lot of people are going to disagree with how the director decides to present and add certain scenes. What I mean by this is that because of how Shakespeare writes the play, he leaves a blank space in which the person reading the play can those spaces based on his own perspective. For example, in the film the director shows Antonio as homosexual, in love with Bassiano. Another example is how in the movie the scene of Shylock when he is about to kill Antonio is different from how it is written in the book.
Talking about Shylock, the task of becoming him was not easy. Shylock has suffered from years, and in his speech he expresses all the emotions he has been accumulating over the years. His speech is full of anger and sadness, and it is not easy to fulfill this strong character the right way. Although I think I did a good job and I liked the task. I had never done something similar. It was a good experience.
I learned a lot and I’m sure that I still have a lot more to learn from Shakespeare.

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Personal Response to The Odyssey

Despite being written approximately 3000 years ago, The Odyssey, by Homer, challenges us to question ourselves and our priorities, while simultaneously questioning Odysseus. At the start of his journey, Odysseus longs for action, glory, and excitement. He’s a young man, seeking adventure一something that many young people can relate to. He defends, he fights, he conquers. He builds his reputation, leaving one title for himself: a hero. However, after travelling to Hades and witnessing real death, he aches for life; the mortality of his loved ones, the reconnection with his family, the evasion of death. Odysseus has that life altering moment. He experiences something so significant that he realizes exactly what he wants一needs to be doing. In reality, most of us aren’t fortunate enough to have that momentous experience or realization. There’s no big BOOM!, or if there is, it often blows over quickly, whether that’s positive or negative. Prior to this significant event (Odysseus’ visit to Hades), Odysseus’ personal characteristics and desires are questionable. He allows himself to be tempted by several obstructions blocking his path home, such as the beautiful goddess, Kirke, or the glory of beating the Kyklops, regardless of the effect it would have on his crew. Moreover, Odysseus’ reluctance to travel home to his parents, wife, and child demonstrates how little he prioritizes family. To contrast, after going to Hades, Odysseus’s likeability increases, because he has a sudden shift in his priorities and values. This raises the question, did Odysseus need this profound, life-altering experience to grow? What does that reveal about us? Is personal growth acquired through multiple life experiences, or through one earth-shattering one?

Preceding this event, would we consider Odysseus heroic? Is he a good person? We recognize Odysseus as a hero, but as I was reading The Odyssey, I repeatedly found myself contemplating that. On a spectrum ranging from good to bad, Odysseus is morally grey at best. Yes, he is courageous, intelligent, and brave, but he is also disloyal, hubristic, and hypocritical. During Odysseus’ hard times, I feel sympathy for him. For instance, the scene when he sees his mother in Hades, without knowing she had died, is heartbreaking, because we see vulnerability and tenderness within him. Nonetheless, the brutal deaths of the maids and suitors had me reconsidering my stance on those qualities, due to how rapidly he can turn his compassion on and off.

Throughout this poem, I began to grasp how consistent human nature is. Although we have evolved tremendously on superficial levels, we’re still fundamentally the same as characters in The Odyssey. People still have that unwavering ambition that we see within Odysseus, the wise intelligence Penelope possesses, and the sheer heartbreak Anticlea is pained with. In modern life, we observe Telemakhos’ coming-of-age story retold in many contexts, and we feel ourselves experiencing it. People encounter the same temptations Odysseus does, underneath different, luring facades. The problematic patriarchal society we’re trying to move past is so difficult to conquer, because it’s been rooted in society since before the 8th century BCE. We may think that we’re different to these characters, and in many ways we are. But ultimately, we can see ourselves in them. The reason why we can read a book like The Odyssey and raise questions such as, ‘Why do we suffer?’ is due to the poem’s emphasis on human nature, and our ability to connect with it. As we have discussed in class, it has a different effect on us depending on our life experience and emotional state. The Odyssey was a challenging read, but due to this reason, I’m certain I will one day read it again.

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The Odyssey: Personal Response

The Odyssey is the single most boring book I’ve ever read. It’s full of hidden meaning that would’ve been enrapturing to the Ancient Greeks, and I’m sure is still enrapturing to those who have extensively studied Ancient Greece. However, to me, someone with very little background in this area, most interesting details go unnoticed. For instance, I had no inkling of the significance of Odysseus having “twelve ships in [his] squadron” (p. 149) and it’s connection to the ancient tradition of killing the king. I also have no idea who the dozens of Greek figures mentioned are, and am bored to death during the many long sequences which consist of nothing more than lists of names and feats, such as Book XI, “A Gathering of Shades:” “Now there came before my eyes Minos… And then I glimpsed Orion… And then I saw Tityos… Then I saw Tantalos… Then Sisyphos…” (p. 204). Make no mistakes, each of those “…”s replaces an extensive biography, not simply a short transition.

With the hidden meaning lost on me, surely I could at least enjoy the surface story, you question. I had hoped so too. However, the story is, in both concept and execution, mind-numbing. I simply cannot sympathize with Odysseus, a pathological liar who leaves his pregnant wife alone for twenty years, and doesn’t seem to even bother thinking about them until a decade has passed. It doesn’t help me become endeared to him either when we get to his murder-rampage in Book XXII, in which he, among other things, orders Melanthios “chopped with swords to cut his nose and ears off,” his genitals “pulled off… to feed the dogs,” and his hands and feet ” hacked… away” (p. 424). Beyond Odysseus’ questionable character, there is the matter of the writing style– that is, the “Let me tell you the entire 60-year history of this vase which appears briefly in one scene only” style. For instance, when Helen is about to drug the wine, the author finds it necessary to take a paragraph detour in order to outline how “it had been supplied her by Polydanma” (pp. 59-60), who was the “mistress of Lord Thon in Egypt” (p. 60), and how in Egypt “rich plantations grow herbs of all kinds” (p. 60), so on, so on, so on. I simply cannot imagine who on Earth cares, besides, again, those studying Ancient Greece in depth.

In conclusion, the combination of (personally) inaccessible hidden meaning, the unlikeable main character, and the monotonous storytelling makes for an extremely dull reading experience. This book would be very enjoyable to anyone with a long history of Ancient Greek studies, but all those who don’t have such: beware, it is a long, tedious trudge. It would not be a far exaggeration to say that forcing students to read the Odyssey is a form of cruel and unusual punishment– and this coming from someone who adores reading.

P. S. Yes, I am being dramatic. I deserve to be after reading nearly 500 pages of that. There are, of course, some redeeming qualities, such as the variety of fascinating questions it raises about men vs. women, fate vs. free will, etc.

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Merchant of Venice

Overall I enjoyed reading and watching the movie of The Merchant of Venice. I found it really interesting how Portia and Nerissa decided to dress up and test their husbands to see if they would just give away the rings from their wives. I was surprised by how both Portia and Nerissa were able to trick their husbands into giving away the rings because I would not have expected them to give the rings away with so little thought about how their wives would feel about the situation.
One of the main things which I noticed while reading this play is that the language at that time was very different. Because the language was so different I found it hard to understand what was being said in different parts of the play as I was reading it. With it being challenging to read parts of the play I think that it was really helpful for me to watch the movie as it gave me a better understanding of the language and what was happening in the play.
I think that the large difference in language from the play to what we use nowadays is what made it difficult for me to both memorize Shylocks speech and to portray him as a character. By doing this speech I feel like I was able to gain a better understanding of Shylock as a character as well as what was happening in the play. I found that doing this speech also helped me to better understand the language used in the play because I needed to fully understand what his speech was about in order for me to be able to memorize it.
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Great literature does not send messages! It raises questions and explores possibilities.