This will be a short response, mainly because I read the story, did not think about the questions it raised or read the underlying symbolism. I only read to page 131 of the book, around part 38 (XXXVIII). Which further kiboshes my agility and ability on the English obstacle course. And so…
Hears what I think of the story, as well as my other thoughts.
It seams like a common theme to have a strong female character try and explain (example: Edna can do what she pleases because, she to, is a human being) to a male character, like Robert and Edna, and the man can’t seem to wrap his head around what she is saying. perhaps it is that I am born in this time or that I’m just weird, but I don’t understand how a man could not wrap their head around some thing so simple. They can’t seem to just go, “great, your head strong, and you’ve realized that your a human being how can make your own choices.” He (I’m picking on Robert) just seem to sit there, white in the face, going “what? but but but. ????? *insert abject confusion here* ???”. They all seem to be hard headed, unable to change in the slightest way.
I also note that Robert is a lot like Mr. Pontellier, a business man who is a man of his time and set in his ways. But it fascinates me on how much different of a character Robert would be if he stayed when Edna begged him to, or if he did comprehend her notion of, her being free to do what she wants.
Over all the story is good, I hear that others find it slow, but I’ve read slower. I actually find that it has a fairly pleasant pace. Chopin paints the world of The Awakening very vividly in my mind, I like having a world that I can sink my teeth in to. She also paints most of the characters vividly, so that they seem like real people in some fashion or other. The events of the story shape the characters, but I find them a bit, common. Which I suppose is the entire reason they’re there. Same with the characters and the world, everything except Edna, who is different only because she “Awakens”.
Pygmalion, the original was interesting, minutely. The remake by George B. Shaw was very entertaining and interesting. I liked the change from the easily grasped statue and sculptor, to the less tangible language teacher and student. It is more real, and removes the odd, deity pities mortal situation. Instead of a wanting sculptor and a marble statue made living flesh, the characters of George B. Shaw’s version of Pygmalion are more human, with flaws. Higgins being the somewhat childish and fully self-absorbed. He constantly produces entreating remarks with no consideration, and Eliza the thin-skinned common flower girl. I enjoy the addition of another lover to make the triangle, Freddy, the lovestruck lunkhead.
The change from the book to the movie is interesting to see, but I think I should have read the book before watching the movie, the biggest change the movie gave was the party scene, which added a bit of suspense and allowed our characters to be fleshed out a little more, particularly Higgins with the introduction of an old student of his, who is also the source of suspense.
For some reason I keep looking for a message in the old Greek version of the story. I can never find one.
A Doll’s House surprised me with how good it is. It allowed me to explore, in a third person view what a 19th century marriage looked like, obviously with some exaggeration because Torvald was a man and a half, not in a good way. I like how the characters, specifically Nora and Krogstad grew. At first I was somewhat disgusted by Nora and her childish behavior, and I disliked Krogstad because I saw him as the sleezy bad guy that is put there just because. But over time I saw that Krogstad was much like shylock, a man pushed to far, and Nora was a bit naïve but her heart was in the right place and changed to be a stronger person that she was at the start of the play, a bit like Antigone. I also like the symbolism of the one room which the play takes place in, which at the end Nora leaves. Oh! I also liked Dr. Rank he was a cool gentlemanly kind of guy.
William Shakespeare’s play The merchant of Venice is heavily interesting. The play seems to dig at the hypocrisy of medieval life, while being a tragedy(shylock) and comedy(other shenanigans). I personally found the comedy part quite interesting, in that, comedy changes over time and most people, at least, my age don’t find the comedy particularly funny whether or not they got the jokes. I can say I caught some of what Will was pitching, such as “Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but at the next turning of all on your left…” This was said by Lancelot in his scene with Gobo, I find that this runs along the lines of nonsense humor like “A barefoot boy with shoes on stood sitting on the grass.” Other comedy aspects are cross dressing, bawdy humor etc.. are still understood and found funny.
Second, the hypocrisy is amazing and I wonder if people noticed it in the 1600s. The scene of the court and Shylock’s trial is an amazing example of this. The fact that the Christians think that they deserve mercy, in the proper meaning of the word, and shylock wants justice and a chance to exact fair punishment. When he does that and pushes for it, the Christians then proceed to beat him into the ground with extreme unfairness and stupidity of law and its loopholes(tragedy? anyone?).
Lastly, this play addresses inside and outside appearances. Like the caskets, or Portia being “unlearned” or Shylock, being the bad guy of the play. We have seen those turn out, well Shylock is a matter of debate, he is the antagonist, and now would be seen as someone who the tragedy revolves around, whereas in the 1600s he would have been the one that was antagonized.
Through out the collection the poems share a common focus/theme. The focus on “Negroes” and their lives in Mr. Hughes time. Most of the poems seem to be a more free form, with emphasis on the constant oppression faced by the Negroes and the dreams born of that.
The poems had a effect that made me thoughtful, an almost peaceful sort of reflection and pondering. Most of it went nowhere though. Though the reading did give me some more basic insight and knowledge on the matters addressed.
Through all of this one question remains un answered though. Why were/are those of darker skin considered inferior, and why have most slaves throughout the ages been those of darker colour? There is almost no account in history of those of dark skin being in power while those of lighter skin are worked as servants or slaves. This question could also be easily reversed to; why are those of Proto-Indo-European decent in power, and why have they for the duration of known recorded history and possibly beyond?
Candide was a good book, I don’t think that there was anything that I really disliked. The satirical humor was quite good, although to understand it you had to know about a lot of the events that took place in the 1700s, which I think heightened it a bit. Apart from the humor, Candide is a packed story, though more in the fashion of tragedy, action and development.
I noticed that Candide at first is indoctrinated into Prof. Pangloss’ teachings, of all else, he is utterly naïve. Then as the story progresses and he receives one grievance after another, he slowly learns, though not without help, in the end he states that “we must cultivate our garden”, so he may have learned some wisdom after his adventures. I was also surprised how much happened in the 1700s, after finding that a lot of the events in Candide were non fictional, as for the life of Voltaire, it is interesting to draw correlations to Candide and Voltaire, the cascade of events bringing tragedy, humor, irony, and so on.
Oedipus the king is not straightforward, there is no “bad guy”, but the protagonist is Oedipus. Oedipus may not be the ideal king, but he cares for his people like a parent to his children, he has very little foresight or wisdom and is quick to anger and jumping to conclusions. Through his positive hastiness, Oedipus oft-times draws the wrong conclusion, and when the truth is told to him he denies it. It takes the entirety of the book for him to find the truth. Oedipus fits the definition of a tragedy put forth by Aristotle. Oedipus was a king of Thebes, who to his knowledge did nothing wrong in his life, and had horrible misfortunes. Unknowingly caused by himself.
Antigone is a tragedy for sure. For both Antigone and Creon, both of which were noble people which did, for what we know, no evil thing. They were completely good people. But Creon was king and had laws and face to uphold, Antigone was a princess of sorts who had a strong sense of right and wrong. But in accordance with some laws of the time Creon did not decide to bury the prince Polynices. Who decided to wage war on his brother who was power hungry. Polynices was then branded a traitor, and as such was not to be buried on Theban soil. But instead of being buried on foreign soil, Creon set in a law in which Polynices was not to be buried at all. Thereby violating one of the “unwritten rules” made by the gods. Thus Creon was punished (i.e. everyone he ever loved dies horribly). In such then the tragedy of Creon is not a tragedy, he instigated it. Antigone is a different story. She was a young noblewoman, good head strong, supposed to be seen as the ideal lady. But because she tried to bury her brother, Creon locked her up, later she hung herself, most likely thinking that her sister, Ismene, was sentenced to the same fate as she. Hæmon, the son of Creon, was in love with and supposed to wed Antigone, but when she was banished he ran off and was later found with the dead body of Antigone. He then fell on his sword, which at the time was more of a move of ritual suicide than accident. Hæmon´s only appearance was in the tragedy of Antigone. I believe he was simply created to die, there is no other role that is played by him. Eurydice is the wife of Creon, after hearing of the death of her last son she committed suicide on an altar. All this leads to a depressed and shaken Creon who goes on to be king. All this tragedy and death is brought to a slow end, and unlike Oedipus, nothing major happens to Creon himself, except for the death of everyone. Interestingly enough Ismene is the only one of the royal houses of Thebes left except for Creon. Through all of this as well as our talks of Oedipus before we know that women were considered deeply below males, but that men were also scared, to a degree, by women. Women were supposed to be obedient. In this way Sophocles was progressive, he made a main character that was a woman and also very disobedient and headstrong as well as morally strong, unlike her sister Ismene who was what was seen as a perfect nobility class woman. Also through Antigone and Creon do the Greek stereotypes war, for Creon he stands for the men of the day, state, power. Antigone stands for the women of the day and their social allotment, religion and family.
The Man Who Planted Trees is an amazing story about a solitary shepherd who lives in the absence of trees on a hard landscape with very little water, the people there are bitter and violent constantly striving against each other. All it seems but this man, who is quiet and kind. He noticing the lack of trees begins to plant them. Over time he plants hundreds of thousands very little of them survive sapling hood but that is still a great number. Over the years, more than 35 years, he built a forest. Today this is called permaculture. Permaculture is the practice of farming with nature, doing what nature wants to have life be pervasive, instead of leaching from the soil and monocropping. This man planted all the trees he could and if they didn’t survive he’d try a new tree or different spot. Through this he created a microclimate bringing water back to the land. This is what I’m doing with my family on my farm, to a certain extent.