All posts by Armaan

Turning Pages

Turning Pages: My Life Story, by Sonia Sotomayor, talks about the advantages of books and how reading can change your life to be more open to the world around you. She has written the story mostly in English and a couple of parts in Spanish, she had decided to use both languages since she “struggled to learn English” while also learning Spanish. It is understandable that languages are difficult to learn, learning a language takes effort, learning two languages takes determination. Sotomayor asks the question: “What was so special about books”? I feel that books allow us a chance to learn more. Books hold knowledge, and I feel that is what makes them special. “Reading was like lighting candles, each book a flame that lit up the world around me.” This line is perfect this it demonstrates how reading more and more books allows you to better understand the world. There are so many things we do not know, we ask out parents since they are wiser but books hold more knowledge, at least more specific knowledge. Meaning that while people may remember experiences the world or they have faced books tell is the facts, they make us questions things about the world as well, that is if we feel like questions a book… This reading try’s to inspire us to read more, to understand more about the world. To use what we have read to think about the world differently and to make connections. “Magic potion. Friend. Boat. Snorkel. Time machine. Launchpad. Lens. Teacher. Life preserver. Mirror. Map. Key” (p. 5). The writer writes like a child sometimes, however, this allows us to relate, as students we lack knowledge about the world, knowledge which can change our thinking towards how the world works. This reading is an inspiration as it seeks to help us grow and build healthy habits by reading.

Personal Response: Pygmalion

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

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

 

 

 

Personal Response to: A Doll’s House

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

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

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

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

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

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Paradise and Death

“Paradise and Death: The Temptations of Odysseus” written by Eric T.  Macknight, illustrates the temptations Odysseus faced throughout his journey home. Homer’s Odysseus comes across multiple opportunities to live in comfort rather than in pain. However, these opportunities were never there to help save Odysseus from his pain, rather to slowly bring his life to an end.

These opportunities that are written within The Odyssey as chances for Odysseus to live in paradise are actually chances for him to live in comfort, meaning to live in death. The opportunities are: “the land of the Lotus-eaters; Kirke’s island; the Sirenes; Kalypso’s island’ the three days swimming at sea after his raft is destroyed by Poseidon and Phaiakia” (p. 2).  Why is Odysseus’s life an adventure and how does he make it out of these opportunities for death that are disguised as paradises? It is because Odysseus knows that life is nothing without pain.

“Paradise and Death: The Temptations of Odysseus” is a well-written piece that through examples from The Odyssey and other readings such as: “The greek Myths (Baltimore, 1955)” (p. 10). It helps us to better understand the truth about The Odyssey and how Odysseus is portrayed. The truth is that Odysseus’s life is not quite different from our own.

“In our ‘magical islands,’ we have manicured lawns, gleaming automobiles, tastefully landscaped homes. Inside are wall-to-wall carpeting, double-wide refrigerators, cable TV, and centralized climate-control systems. Like Phaiákia, these paradises promise comfort and pleasure—a refuge from the harsh realities. Suburban life offers all the temptations that beckoned Odysseus. Like the Lotos Eaters, we consume drugs to escape from reality. In our glorification of youth, our denial of death, and our frequent refusal to honestly confront the future, we hearken to the Seirênês song. Like the Phaiákians, we lose ourselves in trivial pleasures and amusements. And our alarming rate of suicide, especially among the young, shows how strong is the temptation to “sink beneath the waves, let go, and die.” (pp. 16-17)

After reading this we can better understand how the temptations Odysseus’s faces are very similar in fact to certain temptation within our own lives. To escape the reality we tend to choose the easy path and live in comfort. But this path will never make us happy. Odysseus chooses pain over comfort because he knows that if he does not feel the pain he would not be living.

“Odysseus rejects a life of indolent leisure as he rejects death itself. Why? He knows that to live consciously is to recognize our limitations-our flaws, our feialties, our ignorance, our mortality-and struggle against them. To deny these limitations-to seek an illusory escape from them-is, in effect, to die.” (p. 17)

Our limitations are needed for us to live. Denying them we would find ourselves living a life that will end in death rather than in happiness. Accepting your limitations and removing comfort from your life is what you call living consciously. But when you choose to deny your limitations and live in comfort is what you call living unconsciously, which is not living at all.

“For Odysseus, for everyone, unconsciousness is death, and the only life worth living is that peculiarly human life, that life which ‘is pain’; that life in which joy and happiness are not given, and are never permanent, but are dearly bought, always temporary—and thereby unspeakably precious.” (pp. 17-18)

People tend to underthink what life is. Happiness never lasts, it is only temporary but within the moments you can feel it throughout your life is when you are truly living. “Paradise and Death: The Temptations of Odysseus” exemplifies through well-asserted paragraphs, clear and thoughtful use of words through each paragraph, and supporting evidence from The Odyssey and other similar reading how life should be understood. I have learned that pain is needed to live consciously within life. That without pain, we would be living unconsciously, which is living life surrounded not by happiness but rather by death.

 

 

Why do people Change?

Creon changed for the worse over the years from having everything he ever needed to losing everything he had. In Antigone, written by Sophocles we often find ourselves asking questions about what was the cause and reason for a certain event. A question such as how some characters have changed for the better and others for the worse. Why do people change? This question is quite bland, isn’t it? Why don’t we tie it to one of the main characters in the story like Creon? Creon had made appearances within Oedipus the King and in Antigone. In Oedipus The King we noticed the kind of person Creon was from the way in which he acted during certain scenarios. “Never–curse me, let me die and be damned if I’ve done you any wrong you charge me with.” (p. 196). After Oedipus continuously blames Creon for being the murderer of king Lauis Creon stays kind to himself and does not talk back in a rash way. He was calm and spoke nothing but the truth, which showed how caring and loyal he was as a person of Thebes. However this loyalty or so-called truthful characteristic of Creon changed completely in Antigone. . .

So why did Creon change in Antigone? After Oedipus’s exile and after Oedipus’s two sons had killed one another Creon became the king of Thebes. Before being a king Creon had everything he had ever needed. He had a family, a home, and money. However once he had taken a step forward from his comfort at a young age, now being king, he began to act in a less truthful and noble way. He decided that Polynices, who was one of Oedipus’s sons, was to be left out in the open to be eaten by the crows and dogs. However, Antigone, one of Oedipus’s daughters, thought that her own brother was being treated rather unjustly and she buried her brother in love. Did Antigone bury her brother for love or for glory? When Creon had found Antigone guilty for the crime he became frustrated with her for disobeying him. . .

“Never! Sister’s child or closer in blood than all my family clustered at my altar worshiping Guardian Zeus–She’ll never escape, she and her blood sister, the most barbaric death. Yes, I accuse her sister of an equal part in scheming this, this burial.” (p. 83)

When Creon said this he no longer related to his original self. His original self being a kind and honest, not at all self-centered man. However, now that he is king he is becoming more dishonest about himself. You would be able to relate him more to Oedipus rather than his own son Haemon. When Haemon saw how Creon was acting towards Antigone in such a harsh and unreasonable way he decided to side with Antigone. This made Creon even more irritated because first of all Antigone was speaking up as a woman and Creon had to defend himself as a man. Secondly, his own son was siding with the enemy, or at least who Creon thought to be his enemy being Antigone.

What makes us change? Or maybe in another sense what makes us human?  Is it to do with the individuals we surround ourselves with or is it something else? Maybe it is the way we act and think with ourselves? How do we or can we relate to Creon or Antigone’s situation? One is fighting for themself while the other is fighting for the entire kingdom of Thebes. Who is supposedly right in this situation? The person who wants everything in order? Or the person who wants to do what is right not only for themself but for everyone who feels they are being judged unfairly?