The Awakening Personal Response

The Awakening by Kate Chopin was a very interesting story that shocked me, especially towards the end. While reading this story, I was raised with many questions regarding motherhood and being a “good wife” and what that truly means. Like many novels we have read this year, I didn’t get clear answers to the many questions I had. However, by the end of the novel, I had raised many more. The two themes that stood out to me were the similarities between Edna and Nora from A Doll’s House, society’s expectations for the roles of a woman, mother, and wife concerning these women, and the symbolism of the sea in the story.

Edna is a woman who feels pressured by societal expectations and is stuck in a loveless marriage . However, throughout the novel, she slowly begins turning her thoughts into action and aligning her inner self with her outer self. This reminded me a lot of Nora from A Doll’s House. We see that at the beginning of both of these works of literature, these women feel conformed to the “roles “they must follow and towards the end, they both gain strength and go away from what society wants and do what they want. Both of these women were in relationships where they were not paid attention to like people. Even though Mr. Ponteiller was not like Torvald, the way the women felt was very similar. The feeling of being stuck. There were a lot of criticisms of how these women could abandon their children and leave. Both of these women expressed how they would not give themselves away, but that does mean they didn’t care about their families. They were both stuck in situations where all they did was care about the needs of their families and everyone around besides themselves. They both focused on the needs and requirements of their husbands, not even knowing themselves as individuals. They didn’t take the time to understand themselves as people and grow; they both had their breaking points where they rebelled and left. This shows the contrast between these two women and women at that time who felt the same way and kept silent.

The sea was a representation that was referred to several times in this novel to represent the awakening process of Edna as a woman who strived to be free and escape the life she was living. Free of being the perfect wife and the perfect mother.Free from the dominance of her husband and being confined to segregated roles. Free from all the oppression she was dealing with within herself. Free from her husband, her children and the pressure of societal norms. The sea was something Edna always observed in the novel. In the novel, we see her observing how others can swim and she cannot, representing the freedom and independence she longed for at the story’s beginning. However the end of the story, we see developments and a change when Edna approaches the sea from her perspective. Edna gains significant confidence in herself when she eventually learns to swim: “A feeling of exultation overtakes her as if some power of significant import had been given her soul. She grew daring and reckless, overestimating her strength. She wanted to swim far out….”
This passage shows that Edna was able to fight back her fears and go swimming, going deeper and deeper, leaving all the world’s responsibilities, issues and judgment behind her as the ocean taking her away forever.

Overall I had a lot of mixed emotions about this story and how I truly felt about the different characters; I don’t think it’s right for anyone to be unloyal to each other, in the case where Edna just cheated on her husband. However, the awakening of Edna and her feelings towards her life mirrored many women in the nineteenth century, as well as women today who are trapped by cultural conventions.

Pygmalion Personal Response

Pygmalion by Shaw George Benard was a provoking play that emphasizes the complexities of human interactions and the interaction between classes. One of the most important lessons Eliza teaches is that if you keep elevating and improving yourself in life, it’s nearly impossible to go back to the way you were. Two things stood out for me in the play: Higgins’s resemblance to Torvald from A Doll’s House and the femininity shown by Shaw among the different social classes.

I had many mixed emotions about the characters in the play, specifically Higgins. Though he was a selfish, arrogant, prideful man, and I didn’t like how he interacted with Eliza, I felt bad for him in the same way that I was left wondering what would happen to Torvald and his kids when Nora just left. Just the way Torvald had provided everything to Nora, he did the same with Eliza. He gave her everything from a house, clothes, and food and made her a beautiful lady accepted into society. However, like Torvald, even after giving her everything, he didn’t give her respect as a person. But instead, he looked at her as if she was his creation and had to reach his perfecting expectations. Higgins did not bother to even take a second to recognize Eliza but rather made her feel like she was no use to anyone. He Higgins tells Mrs. Pearce that Eliza is “no use to anyone but me.” This shows how he views Eliza as a lesser being with no feelings.

Pygmalion is an excellent example of feminist criticism in literature. Male domination over females is apparent throughout the play. Shaw portrayed how being a lady impacted how you were regarded throughout the Victorian era. Women were expected to act in a certain way–the stereotypical lady-like way, where some women have to work, and others don’t. This is evident in the treatment of the flower girl when she interacts with the daughter and mother in act 1. The daughter looked down upon her, and when her mother was giving her money for the ruined flowers, she stated
“Make her give you the change.”
This ill-treatment can be inferred because of the flower girl’s speech and appearance. However, the second time they meet again, they meet Eliza, a beautiful, fair woman who has excellent speech, is listened to and treated nicely.

Shaw demonstrates femininity among the different social classes through many charters who had specific roles and boundaries. He also shows the fixed roles all these women had: Eliza, the poor flower girl; Ms. Pierce, the house help; and Ms. Higgins, an upper-class lady who had a home and raised her family. He shows through three characters that these fixed roles and specific definitions of femininity are artificial. Through the transformed Eliza, there is a new vision of a woman. A woman who is educated, career-minded, and self-reliant.

Altogether, it was an interesting play to read and observe how much appearances in the Victorian time meant and how people were meant to act in their specific social class. Eliza is a woman who is now considered a fair lady and not just a flower girl to bring up her status in society. After declaring her independence to Higgins, she is now free and an independent woman. However, now that her outer appearance has changed, I was left with her question: Is she really better off?

A Doll’s House

A doll’s house by Henrik Ibsen was a really interesting play that made me ponder about the roles of women and men and the responsibilities and expectancies of a wife and a husband. I was quite triggered by how Torvald acted and engaged with Nora as if he owned her and she was his property. I also think it was quite disrespectful of him to say rude things about her father and compare those qualities to his wife. Appearance vs reality was a theme that really stood out to me because, at first, everything seems like a “dollhouse”, perfect and flawless on the outside. A good business, a husband who worked and earned money, a beautiful wife who seemed joyful during the holidays, and their children. What could possibly be wrong with a lovely looking family and money? However, within that dollhouse, the perfect dollhouse was not as pretty as it seemed. This play emphasizes that having a good appearance does not lead to a happy, contentful life. The three symbols and themes that stood out to me were money and its role at that time, healthy relationships, and the symbol of birds used to represent Nora in the play. 

Money was a very critical symbol demonstrated in the play. Money showed men’s control over women as women did not have equal access to it as men did at this time. The play started off with Noras asking for money in a very childish way to get the money she needs. However, at the end of the play, Nora doesn’t want anything that belonged to Torvald. Because Nora was dependent on Torvald for everything, she was stuck in a toxic environment where she was treated like a doll. Her financial situation and reliance on Torvald gave Torvald a sense of power that he definitely took advantage of. On the other hand, Christine showed another perspective of a woman at this time. She could make money, therefore, she could make her own independent choices and not rely on a man. 

Healthy relationships was a theme Ibsen demonstrated by comparing Nora and Torvalds toxic relationship to Christine and Krogstad who showed a healthier relationship. The relationship between Nora and Torvald was so toxic because of the dishonesty and miscommunication that happened, as well as Torvalds big masculine ego that took over him. Torvald not only was the man of the house, but was also the controller of the house. He controlled Nora to a point where she did not know who she was anymore and was therefore treated as a child. Nora was told what to wear, what to eat, how to act, and her primary purpose was to please her husband and be the best obedient wife she could be. As the man of the house, Torvald took charge of her, having her stuck in his manipulating toxicity. Ibsen shows us this toxic relationship where honesty and communication was a joke and meant nothing. He shows us how dependent Noras was on her husband and the power that it gave him over her. In contrast, Christine and Krogstad both struggled in their lives but valued honesty in their relationship. Krogstad, unlike Torvald, was happy with Christine supporting him financially. They had open and honest communication, showing a better representation of healthy relationships where two people are equal and are not there to control each other but instead supporting and respecting each other. 

Although Torvald treated Nora like a doll, he calls her by animal names, specifically bird names throughout the play which was a significant symbol. For example, when Nora was happy in the way that Torvald wanted, he referred to her as “my sweet little skylark”, “my little songbird,” and “a hunted dove” more than five times (Ibsen 7, 30, 73). When she was upset, she was referred to as a “Dove” and Torvald said, “A songbird must have a clean beak to chirp with—no false notes!” (Ibsen. Act 1. Page 435). Birds represent how Torvald views Nora as a fragile creature who’s meant to look pretty, please, and entertain him as he wishes. Nora’s weakness and reliance on Torvald are conveyed by his insistence on calling her diminutive names. By the end of the play, the analogy of a bird can also be used where Nora, trapped in a cage, can set herself free and fly away, finding her identity.

Overall, I appreciated the play since it demonstrated Nora’s development and strength, showing that she is a self-sufficient individual with no defined role. She also tells Torvald that she considers herself a decent human being, just like him, establishing the equality of men and women in terms of rights and freedom.

 

Merchant Of Venice Personal Response

The Play Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare was an engaging and eventful play that allowed me to understand the separation that occurred between Jewish and Christian people during Shakespeare’s time. Throughout the play, the themes that stood out for me were prejudice, injustice, and the conflict between love and self-interest. In addition, I learned how far different characters were willing to go because of the “love” they had for others.

Prejudice and injustice were two themes that were demonstrated in this play. Prejudice can be seen through the character of Jessica. Shakespeare’s example of prejudice is shown in the dialogue between Lancelot and Jessica when Lancelot jokes about how Jessica would not enter paradise because of her Jewish father. Even though Jessica was welcomed with open arms, she would always be known as the daughter of the jew. Jessica left her religion, father, and past life where she was trapped under her father’s control for Lorenzo and Christianity. However, because of her jew bloodline, she will never be a true Christian and will always have some prejudice against her. Injustice is demonstrated through Shylock, who depicts the life of Jews and how they were treated as a result of their beliefs. Shylock’s passionate speech raises awareness about how Jews are treated and how they feel targeted. It made me realize how Shylock was feeling and how frustrated and angry he was because of the persecution he was receiving, including being humiliated, insulted in public, and harassed because of his beliefs. This was a strong point in the play, demonstrating his sense of injustice and his plans for revenge after being treated unjustly. Injustice towards Shylock is demonstrated when the bond ends. Everything was taken away from him, including his faith which was important to him and his identity.

The conflict between love and self-interest is shown through the character Shylock and Antonio. The significant difference between the Christian characters and Shylock appears to be that the Christian characters emphasize human relationships over business-related relationships. In contrast, Shylock appears to be entirely concerned with money. This is how the Christian characters see the situation. Merchants like Antonio risk their lives to lend money to individuals they care deeply about, like Bassanio. In comparison, Shylock grieves the loss of his money and is said to run through the streets crying, “O, my ducats!” “Oh, my daughter!” (II.viii.15). He appears to appreciate his money more than his daughter with these statements, implying that his greed overrides his love. However, Shylock also shows sadness and how hurt he is because his daughter left him all alone. This is shown in scene three. An example that shows how hurt he was was when he heard that Jessica sold the ring of his beloved dead wife for a monkey. Upon hearing this rumour, we see how upsetting this was to Shylock, indicating that some human connections are more important to Shylock than money. Furthermore, his emphasis on a pound of flesh rather than any amount of money demonstrates that his anger outweighs his greed.

Overall, I enjoyed the play and seeing the movie version alongside it helped me have a deeper understanding of the lives of individuals who live in segregated groups. I believe that this play addresses more than just the Jewish-Christian divide; it also shows how unfair the system was and the mistreatment of non-Christians.
This play can be applied to various groups, demonstrating the injustice and prejudice that groups have towards one another. Lastly, the Merchant of Venice emphasizes the impact of mistreatment solely because of others’ differences and demonstrates the discrimination that occurred throughout history to this day.

Review on collection of Langston Hughes poems

In my opinion, Langston Hughes’s collection of poems is very inspiring and creatively showcases the life of people of colour and what they went through. Hughes emphasizes the struggles coloured people went through and the work they had to do to survive as coloured people. For example, in his poem “Ruby Brown”, he shows the miserable life of a beautiful young woman who’s dreams and goals were crushed and taken because she was coloured. As a coloured person with limited work opportunity, she had to make a living through a job that was frowned upon, causing her to throw away her self respect. Through this poem and many more in his collection, Hughes  shows how coloured people were downgraded because of the colour of their skin, how they  lived their lives with no freedom or justice, giving away their self-worth to earn a living. He emphasized the lives of women, mothers, children, and men who worked so hard for their generations to come. Hughes writes his poetry from different perspectives and this helped me as a reader understand the situation people of colour faced and the struggles they encountered. The imagery and descriptions used also had a tremendous effect on the poems and made them unique and very expressive. The different perspectives he used helped me as a reader understand the situation being described.

Reading Hughes’ collection really opened my eyes to the deeper struggles black people faced living in a world that excluded them from society, a world that treated them as if they were not human. I realized that these people felt like their lives were based on simple dreams that were unreal. The poem “Montage of a Dream Deferred” really opened up my eyes to the different dreams, goals, and wants that all these different black Americans desire. The fact that people assumed that they only wanted money and didn’t have dreams just showed how people judged and looked down upon black people. 

Not only did Hughes emphasize this, but he also had a very strong sense of racial pride which is demonstrated in his poems. Racial pride in Hughes’s poetry and jazz music are inextricably linked. In fact, he invented the phrase “jazz poetry” to describe a type of poetry in which the poem’s rhythm mimics the sounds of jazz music when spoken aloud. Racial pride was shown through being hopeful and expressing the black American culture. 

Overall his poems appealed to me because they supported equality, opposed racism and injustice, and celebrated African American culture, comedy, and spirituality, among many other aspects. He also talks about experiences being black and living in America, as well as universal themes of identity and belonging in the modern world. I think that all of his poems can appeal to anyone of any race, showing that no matter what, whether you are black, purple, or yellow, it should not impact how you live your life because, in the end, we are all humans. 

 

Candide Reflection

Candide by Voltaire was a novel that I personally really enjoyed compared to the other pieces of literature we have read so far this year. It was easier to understand and overall comprehend the whole storyline. I really like how the novel demonstrates and conveys many significant issues to Voltaire through the characters in the book that were significant in the 18th century. For example, the injustice of the lives of women at that time, being used for sexual services and living miserably. I feel like I gained a better understanding because of the stories of the characters Voltaire writes about. Voltaire’s sense of humour was entertaining to read, including religion, status, and race. However, his humour and ideas about certain groups were quite strong and very expressive at times. At times I didn’t particularly like how he described certain groups and freely expressed his opinion. Sometimes it seemed like he was making fun of them. Another thing I disliked is that I felt like everything was happening really quickly, and Candide’s journey seems to be going by very fast throughout the book. Several events and ideas were presented within a chapter, which really made me reflect upon whether being grateful and optimistic is the best thing to do when your life is filled with so much grief, tragedy, and misery.

Throughout the novel, we encounter many problems around the world during Candide’s journey, such as justice and overall cruelty. Voltaire demonstrates why philosophical optimism is not true by having very optimistic characters about everything though they suffered tremendously. Candide and his beliefs regarding optimism also made me question whether it was true and ask myself to what extent we should be optimistic. Voltaire’s philosophical argument was greatly expressed through Candide’s journey. Another key part of the philosophical argument was how someone could attain happiness? The bok teched how humans can choose whether or not they want to attain happiness, however, happiness takes hard work, and dedication, without only sitting and relying on others to attain that contentment .” We must cultivate our garden,” Candide’s last conclusion, I think, means that people should take care of their own needs before trying to take care of others. As well’s learning something new every day and having the determination to keep going.

Charles Dickens “Great Expectations” Pastiches

Passage 1

At such a time, I knew for certain that the tombstones in front of me would continue to haunt me and remind me of death; and my mother repeatedly asking if I was okay, and my grandmother’s wrinkled face staring at the pile of dirt being dumped on his grave, and my cousins walking towards the grass were scared and nervous at that moment conversing with each other through darting eyes; and the sounds of cries and sadness in the air, the rain pouring down aggressively, being aware of every drop that landed, on my face; and the crisp air hitting my face, was the wind, and that even with everyone there, the feeling of sadness, was everywhere.

 

Passage 2

A sad girl, dealing with loss, grief within her. A girl with a blue hijab, a big smile, having so much love to share. A girl who drowns in thought, and wishes to be someone great, and be loved by more, and to help everyone around, and hopeful for better days who screamed, and sang, and prayed; and whose tears flowed gently down her cheeks as her past memories rushed back in.

 

A Pastiche of Charles Dickens, “Great Expectations”

A sad girl, dealing with loss, grief within her. A girl with a blue hijab and  big smile, having so much love to share. A girl who drowns in thought, and wishes to be someone great, and be loved by more, and to help everyone around, and hopeful for better days who screamed, and sang, and prayed; and whose tears flowed gently down her cheeks as her past memories rushed back in.

Who is the protagonist (main character) of the play?

        Throughout this Greek play Antigone, there is a debate about who the protagonist of this play really is. In my opinion, I believe that Creon, the king of Thebes, is the main character of the story because of the story revolving around him and his overall power and involvement throughout the whole story. As King Creon is powerful and makes the rules, he voiced his opinion several times in almost every situation in a ruthless, ferocious manner. I think that Creon always was the center of attention and was also a very self-centred king who did not value family and used the power he had to his advantage, losing everyone he truly cared about in his life. An example of his aggression and interference is when He gets angry fast and abuses Ismene, who is innocent, calling her many names. For example, he states, “You viper, slinking undetected sucking my life-blood”!This signifies that he is very mean and unjust when dealing with Antigone and her sister Ismene. He also intrudes in a situation where he should have shown kindness towards his family member and had humility and mercy. Therefore, it is evident that Creon was the story’s protagonist and played an enormous role in the entire play.

 

The Three Theban Plays

The story of Oedipus was very disturbing and extremely complicated because of all the emotions displayed. From love, sadness to hatred, disgust and horror. Oedipus was an interesting character who puzzled me the entire play because of the person he was. From the moment the Shepard had saved him from the mountainside and gave him to the King of Corinth, his whole life was just cursed. After all the tragic, terrible events that happened to him, I sympathized for the poor guy and all the terrible encounters he was constantly facing in his life. Just as he thought he was living his life with his love and children, little did he know what his future held. He was given the honour to be a king and help his people, and in an instant, it was all taken from him as if none of it even mattered. This story just shows that in a moment, everything around you can be taken from you. Oedipus had good intentions and intended good. But, in the end, his status was gone, and everything he loved and desired was also taken in one form or another, and he was left as a pathetic, disgraced man. Throughout the story, we start to understand who Oedipus is and his unique traits and how he did indeed actually have good intentions. This reminds me of the fact that sometimes people have good intentions and want to help others; however, life can switch up so fast, and next thing they know, everyone thinks of them as the bad guy when it wasn’t her fault.

Enough is Enough

As I continued to read Laura’s Blog, It made me reflect on the “given roles” I had been taught because of the cultures around me, which are definitely sexist in their treatment of women and men’s responsibilities. I remembered a specific incident where a boy once told me to clean up his mess and go back to the kitchen where I belonged. Thinking about situations like this really triggered me because of these types of sexist roles. Are we some sort of objects that aren’t capable of living our own lives without the judgement of others? Without the side remarks? Why is it that sexual harassment is spoken about as a regular part of our lives? When in reality, it should not be acceptable. Laura explains in her blog multiple times where she has been talked to sexually, which bothered me. She explains that she had done nothing regarding these situations that had happened to her because she had simply accepted them. Today, women don’t speak up because they accept how they are being treated, which needs to stop. While reading this literature, my eyes opened up to how girls in specific felt growing up as teens with the idea of looking “perfect.” Whether it was having a thigh gap or being skinny enough was a real issue girls now face starting from an extremely young age, simply to meet the expectation of society we live in. Writing or maintaining a blog like Lauras will definitely contribute to raising public awareness into the world about this crucial issue