All posts by Tia

Summer Reading: Enough is Enough

In the article “Enough is Enough” Bates describes her struggles with women’s rights. Throughout reading the article, I related to the issues and pressures that the women had to face. An issue that resonates with me is the lack of sexual education. I believe that if the schools take more accountability surrounding that topic, it can create change for the multiple other issues. Going to an IB school, I expected that we would have received sexual education the same as public school or even better. But to my surprise, I didn’t get an education on that topic. The closest thing I could call “sexual education” would be biology class learning about the reproductive system. It’s just disappointing that there wasn’t more effort to educate the students about these important issues, especially because of the school’s participation in Model United Nations, where we frequently cover women’s rights around the world. We even had one debate where Iceland (me) and Canada created a list of topics that should be included in sexual education. The list had a large range, from child marriage to workplace harassment. It’s just funny to think that we created this list and gave a presentation to result in nothing. 

Another big issue that was mentioned in the article was the over-sexualization of younger girls. This is a huge topic that I have been researching in my own time because growing up I often felt like I had curated my outfits to be considered “sexier” or “hotter”. Today, we no longer have that “awkward phase”, where in middle school you were just ugly or uncool, but it was never a big deal because everyone was. No one had their life figured out because there wasn’t a need for anyone, too. Through social media, we have lost that very important phase, where now young girls and boys are growing up too fast. Caring too much about things that they shouldn’t need to worry about. This does impact both genders, however, I feel that in society there is more pressure on girls. They are shown images of beautiful woman, makeup tutorials, and all the tricks to become your “best self”. Then once these children follow them and try to emulate these women, they are scolded and ridiculed for growing up too fast or trying too hard. But what do we expect? Either way, they are trapped, of either the humiliation of their peers or emotional abuse from the world around them. I just hope one day, younger girls are given a break and can just experience life without the pressure.

The Awakening: Personal Response

The Awakening written by Kate Chopin is a fascinating novel which I thoroughly enjoyed reading. I thought that it carried deep and emotional subjects. In The Awakening Edna a mother of two is founded in a loveless marriage. She escapes her reality in finding a romantic interest towards Robert. Robert takes off, and she is alone rediscovering herself. Throughout the novel we see her having multiple different “awakenings” from sexual to emotional. I will be analyzing Edna’s final decision, and if this was the right choice for her.

Symbolisme is a huge factor in the novel. It helps define Edna awakening and emotional suffering. One of the two most notable symbols in the novel is the sea. To Edna, the sea (or the idea of the sea) represents freedom. It is her getaway. The sea is there in the beginning of the novel before her awakening. Often represented as “…seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamouring, murmuring…”(p.15). It is this seductive, secretive sea that ended Edna’s struggle. The sea often foreshadows what was yet to happen; “The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.”(p.15) It is as if the narrator themselves saw the sea as an escape from society, like a soft and grand bed to sleep on after a hard day’s work. Throughout the novel, we see Edna’s strong connection with the sea improve. We notice this with Edna’s experience learning how to swim. Edna randomly feels empowered to swim, though she struggled with it for most of summer. “A feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given her to control the working of her body and her soul” (p.32). This was the first time where Edna feels like she is in control and she gets so excited and entranced with her new power, she doesn’t realize how far she has swam. Getting scared, she swims back. In the later chapter of the novel (where Edna finally decides to end her own life) she isn’t scared. She is calm, thinking of the summer and her childhood. She no longer cares for what society thinks of her and this is what makes her not go back to the shore. She has gone too far, where she can’t go back. Even if Edna decided to live her mundane life, she simply wouldn’t. She now knows what it is like to be free and to feel awake where she’d rather die than live her life. This gives Edna power for this is the only thing that she can control in her life. 

Throughout the novel, we, readers, often question Edna’s relationship with her children. For the first part of the novel, she is seen as distant and far from her children. She doesn’t really care where they are nor what they are doing. “If one of the little Pontellier boys took a tumble whilst at play, he was not apt to rush crying to his mother’s arms for comfort; he would more likely pick himself up, wipe the water out of his eyes and sand out of his mouth, and go on playing” (pp.8-9). When she gets more involved with her personal awakening, we start to see her have more appreciation for her children, but only when they are with her. “How glad she was to see the children! She wept for very pleasure when she felt their little arms clasping her, their heard ruby cheeks pressed against her own glowing cheeks”(p.111). We never see her think about her children alone until the end of the novel deciding her own death. So is Edna a good mother? When being compared to one of her foil, Mme. Adele, it is easy to consider that Edna wasn’t a very loving mother. However, Edna is a caring mother for what she can do in her situation. It isn’t her fault that she is stuck in this society where her only value is to give birth. She didn’t ask to be here, to marry nor to have children. She still loves her children but only because they are her offspring. She doesn’t love them for who they are, simply because she doesn’t know who they are and they are too young to have a defining personality. She is busy holding up womanly values (which she doesn’t believe in) to be a mother for her children, such as staying home on Tuesdays. She knew that she wouldn’t be able to live life to societal conventions. She’d rather die and give her soul to the sea then create a scandal for her children in suicidal aftermath which would forever ruin their reputation and opportunities. So she does 7have consideration for her children. 

Was it the right decision for Edna to end her own life? Personally, I will never conclude that killing oneself is the best option when dealing with difficult times. However, in this context, a literary source; in understanding Edna’s consternations, character and situation, I believe that she made the best decision for herself. She is freeing herself and saving her children from a life of scandal. I also believe that Edna didn’t think she belonged in this world where her roles were very limited. When being compared to her two foils, she simply doesn’t fit in. She isn’t the motherly type nor the independent woman type. The decisions she made in her past has left her now feeling helpless, unable to escape an unloving marriage without causing scandal for her children. Societal pressures obviously lay very heavy on her. I believe that Edna also feels that even if she did come to love someone else, she would still not want to oblige to the “ideal” marriage they would likely want. 

While reading the story of Edna and her ends, I feel a sense of wanting to cry but not having enough tears to do so. To think about how many women often felt trapped in a society that controlled every aspect of their lives. This idea and concept of women is still present in today’s society, from beauty standards to sexual harassment and child marriages. A lot of women around the world constantly feel pressured and harassed to fit the role of “the perfect woman.” I, personally, sometimes don’t even know whether my own opinions are my own, or if they have been formed through thousands of years of social conditioning to undermine women. I hope that one day all women will feel valued in the society that they live in.

Personal Response: Pygmalion

While watching Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw, I realized how deeply ingrained the idea of male chauvinism and glow up culture is present in our society. My first impression about Eliza Doolittle is that she is just trying to get a better life for herself by undergoing an extreme transformation. Doolittle is handcrafted into Higgins prefect little creature, to the point where he thinks no one else but him should “have” her. 

The idea of “male chauvinism” and “glow-up” culture disturbs me. In the media, we see this trope of glowing up: a way of expressing one’s growth through a drastic change in appearance, usually making the character more visually acceptable to societal beauty standards. These young women in the media go through a vast transformation in popular movies and TV shows, such as Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries, She’s All That, and many more.

Why is there such a big presence of glow ups in the media? Why do we enjoy a typical makeover? We see these makeovers in coming of age or romantic movies. No surprise but these makeovers are toxic towards women. The women in these films are physically changing to fit society’s ideal beauty standards of that time. This discriminates against a vast majority of young girls and women. But it also says that if you want to change to become a “better person” or experience some sort of growth, you’ll have to change your appearance to fit this ideal beauty. Not only is changing your looks to fit this ideal problematic but it is also with the help of a man. The men in these movies are shown as “trying” to help their romantic interest by making their conquests more socially acceptable. Like in Pygmalion, Higgins buys and teaches Doolittle everything, to the point of her not having a say of what she wants to be. In all of the before mentioned movies, all of the women go through a transformation not by their own prerogative, but by someone telling them they have too, or by someone helping them change. This change usually stripes the main character of their usual charm.

I believe that we should move away from physical transformation in the media and focus more on discovering one’s inner values. I think it is important to have a clean appearance, but we should be able to express ourselves and our flaws. In Pygmalion, it upsets me that Doolittle couldn’t get a job because of the way she speaks. Without Higgins’s or Pickering’s help there would be no way for Doolittle to get out of poverty. It is interesting that society puts so much value on looks; does this really enhance what’s important to our inner values?

Personal Response: A Doll’s House

In A Doll’s House by Henik Ibsen, we are introduced to the marriage of Nora Helmer and Torvald Helmer. Nora is introduced to us as a pretty and cheerful woman living out her days as a mother and wife. Torvald Helmer is represented as cold and strict, where his transitional views carry the play. Throughout the play, we slowly see the unraveling of their marriage, and Nora’s perspective of her own life changes dramatically.

I thoroughly enjoy this play, and it’s important input about gender roles and women rights. At times, it made me feel uncomfortable and embarrassed, mostly to do with Torvald and Nora’s relationship. Nora’s first appearance seems like she was there to “represent” all women of that time. She seemed naive and silly, brought up in a world where her only importance was to look pretty and bare children. She delightfully took the role as Torvald’s wife.“To be so utterly alone. What a heavy sadness that must be for you. I have three lovely children. Though you can’t see them at the moment, they’re out with their nanny. But now, you must tell me everything—“ (pg.116) Even when talking to a close friend, she only talks about herself, completely ignoring the fact that Ms. Linde has gone through the ringer. I thought this showed a lack of character, careless for others. As the play continues, we see her own selfish show again. When speaking to Dr. Rank in Act 2, he is expressing his troubles to her, and in response she states “Oh, you’re being quite unreasonable today. And just when I wanted you to be in a really good mood.”(pg.151). To me, this shows her lack of sympathy towards others than herself. She doesn’t comfort him but instead tries to manipulate him so she can get what she wants. I started to enjoy her character more in Act 3. It seemed like she completely changed in the span of two days, became a totally different person. I thought it was very impressive of her not only to leave but to talk to Torvald about why she is leaving, “It’s not so late yet. Sit down here, Torvald; you and I have a to talk about.”(pg.181) Running away is one thing, but this is different. She isn’t just leaving her “home”, but is telling him why, hopefully forever leaving an impact in his life. I also think being able to talk about your problems and how someone did you wrong takes a lot of courage, especially for being a woman in that time frame. She was more bold, and didn’t budge when Torvald asked her to stay. I felt more connected to her when she stood up to him, showing that she now wants to go and make her own in the world.

A Doll’s House shows us Nora’s breakdown of her “reality”, and her breaking free from society’s grasp on women. She is no longer playing a role, but becoming her own person. Even if she still carries some flaws, she is doing all of us a favour by standing up for what she believes in.

Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

In my English class, we have been reading and analyzing your poetry. I find it fascinating to learn about, as it also inspires me to learn more about the Civil Rights era. I want to become more informed on these important issues and hope to do my best to support/help others.

One poem in particular I was drawn too, is “The South”. The language is strong and seductive, creating this image. With the help of personification, we can imagine these two women, and see how they act. It carries this dark imagery that I find powerful and bold.

The Sky, the sun, the stars,

The magnolia-scented South.

Beautiful, like a women,

Seductive as a dark-eyed whore,

Passionate, cruel,

Honey-lipped, syphilitic—

That is the South.

This is the South to the speaker, this beautiful but dangerous woman who he loves but cannot have. Unlike the the North, who is represented as “cold-faced” but is kinder. This poem can also represent the similars between love and hate, both passionate and powerful emotions to have towards someone. You can love and hate someone at the same time, this is what the speaker is feeling towards to South. For the North he carries no emotion, just apathy.

So now I seek the North—

For she, they say,

Is a kinder mistress,

And in her house my children

May escape the spell of the South.

The speaker must go to the North because he has too, otherwise he’ll suffer the South’s cruelty.

I look up to your courage to represent your community. You left a big impact globally, and I want to thank you. For sharing your experience, and giving a voice to the people who did not feel they could. And for helping me understand the history and discrimination that our systems are built on.

Fond regards,

Tia

Antigone: Who is the protagonist?

Antigone is a story about our moral code and how it can play a major role in our lives. It is about how she went against all odds for what she believed to be for the greater good. However, I believe that Antigone is not the main character of this play.

In the beginning, we are introduced to Antigone and her sister, Ismene. Antigone is announcing her plan to honour their brother’s burial to her sister, however, we never see her carry out her plan. Instead, the play cuts straight to Creon, Antigone’s uncle, and the dialogue occurs mostly around him describing Antigone’s actions.

In the end, Creon was the main character. The connection I made with Oedipus and Creon is that they both had miserable endings and both of their loved ones killed themselves. Therefore, Creon was left to suffer alone forever, questioning his actions that brought death onto his loved ones.

In conclusion, Antigone’s story is told by Creon all throughout the play making him the main character on stage, and it is his story which becomes the tragic ending of the play.