“The Awakening”: a woman breaking out of the sexist norms that society has set for her

After finishing “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, the reader is left with a lot to think about. For me I was stuck on the idea of whether Edna was a good mother. She would neglect her children and family, but never to the point that she was an absent mother, but then again the book ended with Edna drowning herself, leaving her children motherless. However in my interpretation Chopin wasn’t trying to illustrate a bad mother who was also generally turned into a bad woman because she didn’t want to fit into her societal normal anymore. For me Chopin was trying to show the mental struggle and power a woman needs to get out of her societal norm of the “American Dream” or the idea that a wife is solely responsible for taking care of home and children.

This version of how Edna is depicted I think was made popular by the feminists that discovered Chopin’s work and brought light to it. This story in particular as I interpret it shows a woman breaking out of the sexist norms that society has set for her, and that being a difficult tasks fails under the stress of it all. To conclude I think that “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin was possibly something of a real life story she has witnessed because women of her time couldn’t break these sexist norms. Looking back on this story however we can get an idea of the struggles women silently had because of societies sexist rules and norms.

Pygmalion PR

After reading Pygmalion I found myself questioning whether it was morally right for Eliza to have left Higgins without anything in thanks for what he did for her. However, there are very valid points from both sides that make this a really difficult situation. In Higgins’ case, he has essentially created a new and much-improved life for Eliza, he taught Eliza how to speak proper English and how to act like a “lady”, which would help her to obtain a working-class job and no longer have to work selling flowers in the street. Eliza’s future looks much brighter now, but for Eliza, Higgins didn’t want to help her sincerely; it was initially a bet for him to improve her English and “ladylike” manners. When we approach the end of the play Higgins obviously cares about Eliza but his ego wouldn’t let him admit it. This leads to Eliza believing that in reality, she was just a piece in a bet for Higgins, so Eliza running away really makes sense. Why would she want to stay with someone when she has no value to them? It’s hard to come to a conclusion on this.

 

Eliza’s new lover also gives her another reason to leave which creates a lot of anger in Higgins. Freddy and Eliza had been exchanging love letters after they had met at Mrs. Higgins, not only does this help give Eliza confidence to go out into the world, Higgins is obviously angry about this and makes fun of Freddy calling him an idiot. I think that comment was Eliza’s last straw, Higgins was further showing he is a very self-centred person with that comment because anyone else other than his friends would be considered idiots. Additionally, this shows that Higgins doesn’t really care that much about Eliza, he really just wants a sense of ownership over her, which is very similar to Torvald in “A Doll’s House”, a man losing a woman hence losing a relationship that makes him feel powerful. However once again we are met with the fact that Eliza wouldn’t even have the choice of having a middle-class lover if it wasn’t for Higgins, so we are still left with an unanswerable question. What would the morally correct thing to do be for Eliza?

A Dolls House PR

After reading Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”, I had observed throughout the play that Ibsen has created very “real” characters. These characters in the play had “real” problems and were very complex. For example, Nora struggled with being happy which in her eyes the only way to do that was to make sure the house was making sure her husband has everything he likes, which in reality is a very toxic and misogynistic view that a wife can only be happy if her husband is kept happy. Ibsen uses these real problems to create a story that is interesting because viewers/readers can actually relate to the suffering of the characters because the characters seem like “real” people. Personally reading this play in our day and age, I find myself hating Torvald. I think the reason I most hate him is that he seems real, he has created a toxic atmosphere for his wife where she can’t even be herself, but at the same time, his wife saved his life by doing something against his will. So it is a complex situation with Torvald being the person of utmost attention because these issues are really his fault directly and indirectly.

For most of this play, we witness Nora’s struggles for the happiness of other people (mostly Torvald), but at the end, we see Torvalds faults come back for him and his struggles create a route of happiness for Nora. When Nora walks out, she is no longer obligated to the “happy home” and “happy husband” responsibility, meaning she no longer has to suffer for other’s happiness, whereas now Torvald is going to have to go through those suffrages that she once did in order to maintain his family. This at the time of the play was a very controversial thing, but now we would see that as something Torvald deserves. So as well as having these real problems he also brings justice to these problems, but the thing is its not complete justice for Nora because Nora now has to go into a misogynistic society where we saw from Kristine, is very hard for a woman to get by and live a happy life by herself in that time period, so I found that very interesting because there is justice but Nora still is suffering. In short, Ibsens “A Dolls House” was very interesting because of the realism in the characters and their struggles as they are very real and are observable in real life and also because of how the play ends with Nora walking out leaving us with a question of whether Nora really got her justice or not.

Merchant of Venice PR

After reading Merchant of Venice I found myself questioning whether Shylock deserved his punishment and if he should deserve the sympathy of the readers. Obviously, when this play would have been first performed in the 1600s no one would have had sympathy for Shylock because of the anti-Semitic culture that was normalized in that time period. However reading the play without this anti-Semitic culture changes the view of Shylock, from the reader’s perspective Shylock’s suffering is immeasurable, but Shylock was trying to cause suffering on another human. Once again there is another “but” because Shylock trying to cause harm to another human (Antonio) was the same person that has treated him like a “dog” and made Shylock have additional suffering as a Jew living in a Christian majority city. From my view, while reading the book I think Shylock’s suffering in the form of his punishment is too severe and that readers should be sympathetic for him.

It is arguable that Shylock should be punished the way he was because he wanted to take another man’s life which is never justifiable, but the reader has to try and imagine what Shylocks scenario would have been like, his daughter was stolen by a Christian man, he has been berated and abused by Christian peoples his whole life ( Especially by Antonio),  he lost half his wealth being stolen by his daughter and then loses 3000 ducats from his bond that isn’t repaid. Shylock should still be punished because he was going to take a man’s life, but he should not be punished to the extent that his own existence is unbearable. Every human has a mental breaking point of the amount of suffering they can endure before their mental health crumbles, and I think Shylock became mentally unstable and was desperate to fill his sadness with a feeling of actually winning for once. It wasn’t Shylock’s fault he reached that mental breaking point either, he was pushed to that limit by the same people that are being punished for reaching that low point which isn’t fair to Shylock’s case. Throughout the whole play, Shylock does not experience a single scenario where he gets even close to what he wants, so in my eyes, I was sympathetic for him because that is not healthy for the human brain to not have any success in anything. 

To conclude I think that Shylock’s punishment is not justified and deserves the sympathy of the reader in the Merchant of Venice. Shylock had suffered throughout this whole play, even though he was going to commit a heinous act of taking somebody’s life, perhaps instead the court could have taken only a fraction of his estate and not forced him to renounce the one thing that he still had, which was his Jewish religion. Shylock did not deserve to lose everything he had, he had already fought throughout the whole play to keep himself together and bear the abuse that Christians had cast upon him throughout the play, I think shylock should have gotten a less severe punishment because of all the wrongings he has already experienced by the Christian peoples.

Langston Hughes PR

Langston Hughes’s collection of poems are very powerful and moving poems that combat and go against the racial stereotypes Hughes battled in his time. He consistently has a sense of African American pride in his poems, where he celebrates black culture, triumphs and history. In doing this he pushes his fellow African Americans to be honoured of their race and culture. Hughes also speaks about the dreams and aspirations that African Americans should have and for them to not be discouraged by the racial stereotypes set upon them, rather disprove and overcome them. In most of his poems it is the themes that he uses that really allow him to do this.

The themes that Hughes uses vary throughout this poem, but I found the most important ones were black pride, racial discrimination and injustice, cultural history and the dreams of African Americans. The reason these themes are so moving for the most part, was because there was a stigma surrounding those topics, especially for black-white conversation, this was unheard of. The stereotype for African Americans of this time was that they only knew the emotion of happiness because if they were to complain to white people it would make them seem ungrateful and upset the white people, which could lead to a bad consequence. For Hughes to speak about these stigmatized things was very courageous, and the content of the poems elaborated on these themes in very moving ways because he would use the poems to share the universal struggle of black people during this time.

Hughes’s poems successfully give the reader a sense of responsibility to try and make a change against racial injustice and discrimination. By using the stigmatized themes, it makes the poems seem more powerful because it was not common for African Americans to see someone take a lead like this and basically make a stand without the use of violence which gives a powerful message. To conclude Langston Hughes’s poems helped to begin to break the stigmatism around the universal struggles of African Americans and pave a path for other youth to start and make a change to a more inclusive future.

Candide PR

I found Candide to be a very entertaining yet interesting book, it consistently kept a balance of humour (satirical) and thought provoking content. There were some really interesting questions that Candide raised for me. The main one can really change the way you think sometimes, and it’s the question of whether optimism is really a good way to look at things, especially knowing there is so much suffering, struggle and tragedy every single second of your existence.

This question of whether optimism is practical in our world isn’t really directly asked or addressed in Candide, but the conversations and questioning of philosophy, religion and why people suffer is constantly being talked about. I found while reading those conversations addressing those subjects I would question those philosophies and it would really make me delve into the different ideas of why humans suffer and if it’s fair to be so optimistic if we know about the suffering around us, or if it’s even possible to optimistic about our existence with that underlying mental block that suffering is constantly happening. I believe the main reason I was asking these questions even though they weren’t directly addressed was because Voltaire seemed to be trying to explain his philosophy through a story, personally I think using this way helped Voltaire explain his philosophy because he used it to criticize other groups of people through satirical humour while keeping his overall ideas organized and communicated.

To conclude I really enjoyed Candide for one main reason, and that was his ability to transform a complex idea (his philosophy) to an easier understandable format which could keep readers not only entertained, but in question and debate if his philosophy, which creates opportunities for further questions or new ideas of what the most ideal philosophy for happiness is.

Great Expectations: Two Pastiches

It was that moment I knew for sure, that this dreary place bustling with adolescents was the campus; and that Jackson Jenkins in the missing of his assignments, and also energy of the day before, was late to class; and that his fellow classmates of years before, and to come, were also late to class; and that the grand beauteous jungle beyond the campus, mottled with bears and cougars and peacocks, with many beast’s residing in it, was the rainforest; and that the slow flow band below, was the creek; and that the obscured unchecked cauldron from which the storms are brewed, was the pelagic ocean; and that the sudden energy growing inside, was the excitement to leave.

 

An unhelpful creature, all in gleaming brown, with a minor matter in its leg. A creature with no collar and with broken teeth, and an old bandana tied round its neck. A creature who had been across lands, and over oceans,and through the rivers, and on top of the mountains, and between the roads, and along the valleys; who limped, and caressed, and barked, and chomped; and whose tongue slobbered my face as it took me down.

Personal Response To Antigone-

In Antigone it is debatable who is really the “main character” of the play, however, I believe Creon is the main character and this is why. Creon almost perfectly matches Aristotle’s definition of the main character in a tragedy, meaning he is the “tragic hero” of this play. This is supported by the fact that Creon is generally a good ruler and normal person, but his stubbornness and pride ends up overcoming him leaving him to rule all alone. He matches Aristotle’s definition of a tragic hero because he didn’t exactly do anything that was inherently bad, an average person would have made the same decision in his situation, but since Creon was kind of the “good guy” in Oedipus you see him as a man with high moral standards and you feel sympathetic for him. So when he is met with defeat, particularly defeated by himself, it seems tragic because of the things that happened to him he didn’t really deserve. To top it all off, Creon’s whole family dies not by his hand, but indirectly because of his actions, all this happens after he sees the higher good and takes back his action saying he will free Antigone, once again this supports Creon being the tragic hero because even though he made the right decision it was too late and the cost of it was heavy. So it leaves the reader with this tragic feeling: what if Creon made a decision earlier? What if Creon listened to Antigone? What if Creon didn’t let his pride blind him? In conclusion, Creon is a great example of Aristotle’s tragic hero, which is- a tragic play would make him the main character, and after reading this play you can really dissect the traits and virtues a tragic hero has.

Personal Response To Oedipus The King

The story of Oedipus the king is quite disturbing and just downright morbid. Although it is just a Greek tale, I feel sort of sympathetic towards Oedipus despite the things he’s done. Oedipus did not ask for the prophecy that made his life an absolute mess, and I want to feel bad for him because he tried so hard to run away from this prophecy, but you can’t escape your own fate. You can see this happening when he runs away from who he thinks is his mother and father to avoid killing them and bumps into his true father Laius, ending up killing him instead. When he thought he had beat the prophecy becoming the king of Thebes and settling down with his wife, once again the prophecy came for him again. Although it is not the exact same, the way that Oedipus was born into something he didn’t ask for, it reminds me of children that are born into less fortunate circumstances, who may or may not make it out of childhood, and if they do often carry burdens of their childhood that hold them back from achieving greater things in life. I think that’s why I have some sympathy for Oedipus, his story is not directly the same as the others I’m talking about, but the concept of being essentially “screwed” from the day of birth is what I’m trying to communicate. To conclude, I don’t think this story was made with the concept of being “screwed” from birth, but this has been an underlying issue since before the Greeks, and it is still something that happens today, your childhood environment can dictate your life in many ways, just like how Oedipus’ prophecy had dictated his life from birth.

Summer Reading Journal – Bartleby The Scrivener

To be completely honest I was not able to always fully understand what was happening at all times in this story, but from what I gathered it’s about Bartleby slowly becoming lazier and lazier not preferring to do tasks and eventually ended up living in a Wall Street office, and eventually finding Bartleby dead of starvation because he preferred not to eat. Because this text was very difficult for me to understand I didn’t spend much time inquiring about the meaning of everything more just trying to understand but reflecting on it, I had some thoughts at the end about what Bartleby could have struggled with, or what caused this, because during this time it was written people with mental illnesses weren’t treated the same they are today so maybe that’s why he couldn’t get the help, and even today there Is a huge stigma around mental Illness and people not reaching out so maybe that’s what the text was about, at least that’s what It made me think about.