Year-End Reflection

This year was really special for me as an exchange student. English became a big part in my life here and I am really happy that I can confidentally say that my English improved a lot in the last 5 months. Not just because I need to speak English 24/7 but also because of the English literature class, where I read several books and learned to be more confident while speaking in front of an audience. I will remember how to read difficult texts properly, how to analyze texts and write revisions. I learned to be confident with my english, to speak with conviction and that my english doesn’t need to be perfect. I think most likely, it’s how to do an oral presentation will stick with me and I will definetely use my knowledge now for my next oral presentation.

The Awakening

I already suspected after the first chapters that this story would not have a happy ending which got my interest for reading. The course of the story is mostly expected and there are few surprises. Often uninspired, the chatter of fine society ripples along. “Like a sad lullaby” the sea breaks in the night, a classic place of longing. Edna’s husband, who looks at her “like a precious piece of personal property,” reproaches her for inattention and neglect of the children. An “indescribable gloom” fills Edna’s being, which is elsewhere described as thoroughly lively and radiant. For the Doll’s House play it was different, the beginning seemed more boring because everything was described as “perfect” but after time we saw how unhappy that “perfect” made the people so the plot was not expected in the beginning.

The author makes no secret of the state of the Pontelliers’ marriage: the protagonist receives recognition for the “best husband in the world” from others. She herself feels “forced to admit that she doesn’t know anyone better”. Their conflict takes place behind the bourgeois facade and within. Also in Nora and Torwalld’s relationship was hiding their problems behind a marriage that seems perfect the most important thing. But we could clearly see that Nora was really trying to fit in that “perfect” life, that she did everything she was expected to. For Edna I think it was different because she did more what she wanted to than what was expected of her to do. Also her character didn’t had the development of Nora’s, which was really important for the tension of the text.

At that time, the woman was still the property of the man, had no opinion to have. But Edna tries to break out of this cage, like Nora did. Against all social dictates, regardless of the social relegation that goes along with it. She wants to free herself from these burdens that would otherwise crush her for life. Not without reason, then, The Awakening is considered a feminist book or a story of the women’s movement. Edna is a hero who at least tries to go her own way.

 

Pygmalion

Pygmalion tells the story of a transformation and detachment: it is not the pretty clothes and the andressed accent that make the new Eliza, but the emancipation from her creator.The author plays with the Cinderella motif. He counteracts it ironically and disappoints the common expectations of the audience: his Cinderella does not put on the sacrificial shoe, but instead throws slippers at the mischievous prince.

The author represented a socialist and feminist point of view: language and manners were among the most important class barriers in his time. True personal and economic freedom, in Shaw’s view, could not be achieved by marriage, but only by renouncing typically feminine traits and obligations.

The play raises many pressing social questions: What is the meaning and purpose of education? How can the individual overcome his social determinacy? What price does one pay for uprooting and is it even worth the alienation? What responsibility does the scientist have towards the human research object? And what comes after the experiment?

A Doll’s House

I think the doll’s house is a very interesting book. It shows how women got treated back then and how their life in general was. How the role distribution of mother and father in a family was. It’s obvious to see what importance that had for the people. But it’s also noticable that exactly that didn’t make them happy, by them I am especially talking about Nora.

While reading the book it didn’t seem that badly of a treatment because Nora always said Torwald would do everything for her and that he treats her very well and that she can’t complain about anything. But in the film you could really see how bad he really treated her. It was so important to see the play to understand the circumastances better. It was different than I imagined it to be.

I loved the ending, when Nora finally stood up against Torwald. For once she seemed so brave and independent. While at the beginning she was more childish and dependent on Torwald. I love the character development there. But I don’t really understand where it comes from. From now on her point of view changed completely. All the time it seemed to me as if she doesn’t understand what happens to her or she just accepted how Torwald handled her. She seems to have fun playing those games not suspecting anything wrong about it. After Torwald got the letter I thought she is giving up but I was so wrong, that was the moment when she finally got the courage to stand up against him. I just wonder where that came from, what influenced her to change her mind so drastically.

The Merchant of Venice

The end of the book leaves many questions unanswered! Who is the merchant of Venice now, and would Shylok really have cut a pound of flesh from Antonio’s chest if Portia had not found a solution?

Shakespeare here portrays Antonio as the good Christian, and Shylok as the evil Jew. However, at the time Shakespeare wrote The Merchant of Venice, “officially there were no Jews living in England” because they were “banished by law.” So, what is this drama really about? About the theme of friendship and the trust that goes with it?

Likewise, Shakespeare thematizes friendship, love and trust. Bassanio is faced with the decision of what is more important to him: his love for Portia or his friendship with Antonio and he chooses friendship. He also gives the scholar, who is Portia in reality, his wedding ring as a reward for his help at the trial. If he had known that Portia was hiding under the scholar’s costume, he probably would never have said this to Antonio and certainly would not have given away his wedding ring. But in Bassanio’s case, friendship has triumphed over love.

Portia, disguised as a scholar, rescues Antonio and at the same time tests Bassanio on his fidelity to her. Bassanio has failed this test and Portia makes him feel it. She makes him feel guilty on his return because he has given away the token of her love. Only later does she reveal that she was the scholar and forgives him. Thus she proves that love triumphs over everything else in her case. The last question that remains open is whether this drama is a comedy or a tragedy. A tragedy always ends with an unhappy ending, which usually consists of the death of the hero or good guy. In this case, Antonio should have died. But at the trial, the drama completely changes direction, when until then it had appeared to be a tragedy. From now on Shakespeare pulls out his comedic stops. At the trial, Portia appears in man’s clothing as a defence lawyer and manages to convince the court. Shylok is even accused and sentenced himself. Thus, nothing stands in the way of a happy ending. So both are present in this drama. Up to the trial it gives the appearance of dealing with a tragedy here, and from then on it turns into a comedy. Let us see, then, in the plot a comedy which, regardless of religion, shows only human weaknesses, and they are the same everywhere.