Dear Mr. Hughes,

I request of you an opinion on a matter dear to me, of which I find no resounding, nor over-arching, resolution. As one, whom one may say, is naturally inclined to tinker with the weight of words, persuing the most arbitrary word compilations, perusing meaning where there might be none. In actuality, countless if meaning was in fact intended by an author, what if meaning has no truth? no firm basis in resonance? Mr. Hughes, I shall allow you to interpret as you will what meaning there is in preceding sentences.

Now I am not here to bore you with fickle matters of no value, at least I hope, and hope you find too. You have received many letters, from my mutual classmates/peers. I hold no doubt certain among such have irked your interest, or instead your irritation. Perhaps some have conveyed a formal and literal message, while others a powerful, or emotional, and figurative message. I yet hold no doubt that said letters have swayed you alternately from I (for I have too read them). Furthermore, I hold no doubt how you have interpreted the qualities of said letters has congrued with your meaning of value in literature, if certain assertions within literature are more worthy in value than others, and if the form shows merit in conjunction. Although, I understand your analysis of literature is much developed and refined over years, full of sway and rhythm, power and sensation. And I know the style forming your literature is unique, fresh, inventive, it follows the identities you have developed in the literary world.

So I ask you to ponder: what makes “good” literature? What do you look for/what does it need? Are the requirements for literature different from piece-to-piece I wonder? If so, I wonder if the meaning behind literature is much larger than imaginable, if it really is the realm of possibility? Yet the confusion is pertinent, for I understand that lots of the power in your prose is based on your dream of better life of minority classes. Therefore, is literature a figment of the real world, forever tied to our experiences? Mr. Hughes, I would love to know what motivates you as a person to write literature, and to know what you seek as you write literature.

Sincerely,

Trevor

Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes,

I have read few of your poems, and while reading some of your works, I learned about your writing style and how you structured your poems.  The wordings you use are relatively easy for me to understand, yet can also express deep thoughts. Your poems made me realise I underestimated the racism and learnt about black history.

After reading most of your poems, I found some similarities in most of the poems. It’s talking about chasing dream in early 1900s  and suffering from racism. As a black person it’s is tough back then, the poems let you express how you feel about the society. I can feel it through some of the poems that you wrote.

“And then the wall rose,

rose slowly,

slowly,

Between me and my dream.” – (As I Grew Older, II. 7-10)

The wall rose, you were referring to racism, blocking you to fulfil your dream. It’s a boundary that grows slowly and slowly until it becomes a wall that you can’t break through.

“My hands!

My dark hands!

Break through the wall!

Find my dream!

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this night,

To break this shadow” – (As I Grew Older, II. 24-30)

These sentences sticks out in this poem, the tone sounds different. Again, you want freedom and justice. I can feel that you are passionate for declaring what is right and what is wrong. I feel like you want whoever is suffering from racism feel relatable when reading this poem, to resonate with the readers.

After reading your poem, I learn to sympathise people who are suffering from racism. Your words express pain, discomfort, and fear. Now it’s 2021, and racial discrimination still exists. I hope people can face this problem squarely. Not only black people, but many races also face the same problem. 

Sincerely,

Lydia Lam

Letter to Langston Hughes:

Dear Mr. Hughes,

Upon reading a few poems of yours, an obvious thing I noticed was many of the lyrics were about African Americans, a dream of freedom, and black lives. During a discussion with my classmates, I understood many authors wish to write about other genres but have the need to write about world events during tough times like wars, and I wanted to know if this was a situation you went through as well?

One of my most enjoyed poetry was “The Negro Mother,” the poem was easy to understand and explained in detail; it had a clear indication of imagery and talked about carrying on the legacy of achieving freedom. “All you dark children in the world out there, / Remember my pain, my sweat, my despair. / Remember my years heavy with sorrow– / And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.” (35-38). If I ever fought for freedom, I would want everyone to remember my sacrifice and carry on the legacy of achieving the justice required, and always protect those who cannot defend themselves. Another factor I thought was influential in the poem was the belief in God. “But God put a song and prayer in my mouth, / God put a dream like steel in my soul.” (18-19). My question to you is, did everyone believe in God? and what happened if someone were an atheist?

“Life Is Fine” is one of the poems I enjoyed as it was a change from presenting the idea of the suffering of African Americans to conveying a thought about how love influences us to do stupid things. “I tried to think but couldn’t, / So I jumped in and sank.” (1. 3-4). “I though about my baby / And thought I would jump down.” (4. 3-4). The poem conveyed a profound message about the struggles gone through by all of humanity; depression. It is an excellent example of how many people view suicide as a permanent resolution of their problems than actually fighting through them.

In the end, I would like to appreciate the diverse range of poems you have written. They express the fight for freedom and justice, the injustice humanity suffers, and great strength and resilience. I wonder which poem you are proud of the most.

Sincerely,
Divya Rajpal.

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

A Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr Hughes,
Over the past few days, I have had the pleasure to read some of your poems, some of which have impacted me in different ways. The way you allow your words to flow with such strength is so refreshing. The importance of showing the strength black people have as well as what they had to endure is absolutely astounding.
In your poem “I, Too” you wrote the following:
I, too, sing America.


I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.


Tomorrow,
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
Then.


Besides,
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—


I, too, am America.

As someone who was adopted legally in the united states, but comes from India, I have dealt with the struggle throughout my life of being questioned as an American on the basis of my origin as well as my patriotism.

I grew up as a foreigner in Mexico, constantly asked questions like “Are you in favour of what Americans say about ‘your people’ whether that being about Mexicans or Indians. I struggled with being accepted as ‘one of their own’.
Throughout my childhood, I went through struggles of being a coloured student in a mostly white school, being questioned about my being good enough to study in said institutions. I would like to thank you for opening up about your experiences as a black man in a country which in times felt as though it was not yours to be in.

Letter to Langston Hughes

Jack Bradshaw

1939 Sooke Rd, Victoria,

BC V9B 1W2

January 11th 2021

Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes,

I really enjoy your poetry and I think that it is filled with plenty imagery and emotion. I feel as though these poems were my favorite, Ballad of the Landlord and Life Is Fine.

With ballad of the landlord I could feel his emotion and just his overall anger/annoyance getting stronger throughout the poem with certain sentences and phrases.

“What? You gonna get eviction orders? 

You gonna cut off my heat? 

You gonna take my furniture and 

Throw in in the street?” 

With Life is Fine I could see more of a rollercoaster of multiple strong emotions like sadness, depression, and clarity in a way.

“I came up one and hollered! 

I came up twice and cried! 

If that water hadn’t a-been so cold 

I might’ve sunk and died.” 

 

“I stood there and I hollered! 

I stood there and I cried! 

If it hadn’t a-been so high 

I might’ve jumped and died.” 

 

“So since I’m still here livin’, 

I guess I will live on. 

I could’ve died for love– 

But for livin’ I was born”

My questions for these poems would be: Are these experiences based on your on experiences? If not then, How do you get these experiences? Is there a lot of draft poems? What is your process in making these poems? Is it a more creative process that comes naturally or is it like sitting down and making poems for a couple hours?

All in all I enjoyed these poems and to me they gave me a very open point of view of the injustice and racism people of color would receive during the 20th century.

Thanks for looking,

Jack.

 

 

 

Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Langston Hughes

throughout reading some pieces of your work, I have enjoyed learning about your style of writing and the creative and impactful ways you link your work with other references. Compared to other poems your vocabulary that you use in your poems is mostly very simple and easy to understand, but yet you are still able to convey points with deep context behind them, the fact that you can do this to me is impressive compared to other poets who use vocabulary from space.

The poems that we have read convey passion through your writing about racism and justice. All the poems I found relate to chasing the dream of having freedom throughout the early 19 hundred’s as a black person. Although I did not experience the south or racism you do an amazing job of painting a picture for the reader when reading your poems.

One of the poems that stuck out to me that made me think was Dream Boogie, this poem shows how slavery was and how black people had no choice but to pretend to be happy or they would be in trouble as if they were dogs on a leash  

 

Listen to it closely:

aint you heard

something underneath

like a–

What did I say?

sure

I’m happy!

Take it away !

in-class we came to the conclusion that this represents a slave talking about something that may be a complaint. he then decides to act as though he did not say anything to avoid trouble. This shows the amount of power the white people had over the blacks, equality was far from existent and it’s hard to think about. Writing about this must have been hard having the feeling as though equality with people of color would never happen. Did you ever think that there would be? I wonder if you would be happy with how far society has gotten with equality or disappointed?

your poems mostly all have the similarity of justice and chasing the dream of equality and it is well conveyed and is impactful to read. thankyou for your writing and showing what the world should look like one day, hopefully without racism of people of a different colour.

 

 

 

 

Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

I have now read many of your poems and I enjoyed reading them. They are great poems with a strong message behind racism, and black history in the United States. I also liked how some poems were also composed as the “language” of jazz/blues bars which really expresses its diversity.

The main message your poems express is black people in America with slavery and dealing with the racism in modern society. One of my favourite poems that you made was I, Too. It talks about being a slave for a white family. In the poem you wrote:

“I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When the company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I’ll eat at the table
When the company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“eat in the kitchen,”
Then.” (I, Too II. 2-14)

It talks about being a slave and the owners having company over and how they won’t let him be in the kitchen and really see how ‘beautiful’ he is. Reading this poem really hit me differently. It really expressed what life was like back then with a slave and what they went through.

Another poem I would like to bring up is Life is Fine. I also did enjoy this poem a lot but was also quite confused reading it. One big question this brings up for me is ‘is it realistic?’ I ask this because he goes from a hard break up and wanting to kill himself, then immediately turns around to be fine. I never understood this because a breakup most likely takes a long time and rarely turns around that quickly. It quotes here:

“I stood there and I hollered!
Stood there and I cried!
If it hadn’t a-been so high
I might’ve jumped and died.

But it was
High up there!
It was high!


So since I’m still here livin’,
I guess I will live on.
I could’ve dies for love-
But for livin’ I was born.” (Life is fine, II. 16-26)

In this quotation, it talks about him about to jump off a building, but since it was to high up, he turns out fine and isn’t hurting anymore.

All of your poems that I have read have carried out a strong message and should be viewed by everyone to see what black people in the early 20th century went through and see the pain they went through, and show value and appreciation towards the black community and also show sympathy for what white people did to them.

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

 

Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

In 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement began. It was founded by three black women, in response to a recent murder of Trayvon Martin, an African American teenager, in which the murderer was found not guilty. In 2013, I didn’t know of this mouvement, nor the injustice black people faced on a daily basis due to the racism that encompasses the world. I was nine years-old, and I lived oblivious to this, because I could. I never had to be told as a child what to do if I was stopped by a police officer, I never had to be told that people would treat me unjustly due to my race. I was raised in a household where I was taught about racism and how wrong it is. However, I also grew up in a largely white neighborhood, with white privilege; thus, I wasn’t exposed to how severe it was for many.

Even through empathy, I will never truly comprehend how bad it can be for black people. Now, in 2021, I regularly follow the Black Lives Matter movement. However, no form of education comes anywhere near real-life experiences. I still live with white privilege. I have never been in a position of fear due to my race, and I wish you could have said the same. When I read your poetry, anger envelops me. Indignation towards the injustice you had to face. Rage at the racism and oppression that is still pervasive. Resentment towards all white people, past and present, that have suppressed others due to something as beautifully diverse as race. Identity isn’t something anyone should be harmed for; and yet, people who look like me have vehemently forced others into this position, to give themselves a feeling of superiority.

In, “As I Grew Older” and “I, Too,” you speak of the “dream” that many black people have ached for throughout their lives,

My hands!

My dark hands!

Break through the wall!

Find my dream!

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this night,

To break this shadow

Into a thousand lights of sun,

Into a thousand whirling dreams

Of sun! (As I Grew Older, ll. 24-32)

As your life progressed, did your idea of this dream change? If you were alive now, would you feel as if you have achieved this dream, or are still fighting for it? Racism may have improved since your time; however, better doesn’t automatically equate to good.

In a time where hate feels indomitable, your poetry is a reminder of what people have overcome. Although the content in “Negro” may provoke sadness or anger due to the injustice demonstrated within it, it has strong tones of resilience and pride for everything black people have overcome. We see a range of suffering, from,

I’ve been a worker:

Under my hands the pyramids arose

I made mortar for the Woolworth Building. (Negro, ll. 7-9)

to,

I’ve been a victim:

The Belgians cut off my hands in the Congo.

They lynch me still in Mississippi. (Negro, ll. 14-16)

But despite the centuries of pain and injustice conveyed through this, you still manage to make it a poem raising existential questions regarding identity. Who are we?, one may ask, to which this poem responds,

“I am a Negro:

Black as the night is black,

Black like the depths of my Africa. (Negro, ll. 1-3)

This feeling of identity has an impenetrable strength to it. I can imagine the bond you have created between people who have similar trauma engraved within their identities.  Not only does it show a  progression of black history, it shows hope; hope for the futureーfor the aforementioned “dream”.

In your past society and our present one, harmful stereotypes about black people have been propagated. In, “Deferred,” you broke the detrimental idea that black people were all the same, by presenting individuality through different speakers,

All I want is

one more bottle of gin.

All I want is to see my furniture paid for. (Deferred, ll. 29-31)

Then, in, “Dream Boogie,” you portray the false facades of happiness black workers were forced into by their white employers,

Sure,

I’m happy!

Take it away! (Dream Boogie, ll. 15-17)

In these debunkings, we receive a taste of previous stereotypes, allowing us to reflect on the progression of our society. Did you ever suspect your poetry would be seen by people who weren’t even aware of the stereotypes that were so prevalent for you?

Throughout your diverse collection of poetry, we experience an outpouring of pain, hope, resilience, and strength. We observe a contrast between the beautifully seductive language used in “Harlem Sweeties”, the bluesy humour in “Life Is Fine”, and the powerful, dreamlike imagery in “As I Grew Older”. I wonder if you would be pleased with the impact your poetry has had on people globally, or satisfied with the manner in which we are studying it.

Thank you, deeply, for allowing us to live within your work.

With high appreciation,

Amy Norris

Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

You wrote As I Grew Older when you were only about 20 years old. There is almost a sacredness about it. “Bright like a sun—/ My dream.” (ll.5,6) There are no other pronouns other than “I,” so I could only assume that you are the speaker. Your dreams and your hopes, expressed through vague imagery, is unpolished yet impactful.

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this night, 

To break this shadow

Into a thousand lights of sun, 

Into a thousand whirling dreams 

Of sun! (ll.28-33)

You expressed the contrast between your dreams and the bitter reality by referencing light and darkness. Words such as “shatter,” “smash” and “break” gives such momentum as we picture a strong force penetrating the dark barriers to let light shine through.

When you wrote The South, along with The Weary BluesRuby Brown, and Life Is Fine, your poems have commonly expressed resentment of the present reality. You also seemed to have developed sarcastic humor that reflects the hardships of life, perhaps due to the Blues’ influence. “Life is fine! / Fine as wine! /Life is fine!” (Life is fine, ll.31,32) Life was never fine. I think you have seen and experienced quite a lot more since As I Grew Older, as your poems also tell stories.

Since 1951, your poems have begun to mention dreams again. And not just that, it gives me the feeling that you are combining dreams and reality.

In Montage of a Dream Deferred, you began playing with space and time by arranging short clips of several distinct speakers telling their dreams. Even if it’s something out of the blue like learning French or taking up Bach, or even if all the person wants is one more bottle of gin; through different times and space, these voices all connect.

Then in Dream Boogie, you showed us that it isn’t just the individual dreams that are deferred; collectively, as a whole, the dream of freedom and equality of African Americas are deferred. “Ain’t you heard/ The boogie-woogie rumble/ Of a dream deferred?” (ll.2-4) The low rumblings are not words; it is through the language of music.

“Listen closely: 

You’ll hear their feet 

Beating out and beating out a—

 

You think It’s a happy beat?” (ll.5-7)

You have the power to express this repressed anger through speech and rhythms. And I can only conclude that this is due to its musical qualities, “Hey, pop! /Re-bop! /Mop! / Y-e-a-h!” (ll.18-21) Such a short stanza tells so much. It makes us listen to it, other than to read it.

As time progresses you experimented with different forms and techniques in your poems. you played with not just only imagery but also the other senses such as taste (Harlem Sweeties) and hearing (the Blues, Jazz Ringo, etc.). You experienced life and met other people, and got to know their dreams, not just your own. But it is the same dream. Looking back to As I Grew Older, you stated at the very first line:

It was a long time ago.

I have almost forgotten my dream. (ll.1,2) 

Yet this is a dream you have dedicated to during your entire life. It isn’t just “your dream,” it is a dream of freedom, of everyone’s freedom. You mentioned that the barrier, the “wall” almost cast your dream away, “Rose until it touched the sky—/ The wall.” (ll. 15,16) No matter how much your poems change in structure, what musical form you take on, or what stories you tell, you always attack this Wall that has been ever-present but needs to be broken down. You have always had the same dream.

Sincerely,

Cecilia Chen

 

WDolan_Letter_To Langston_Hughes

Langston Hughes

January 11 2021

William Dolan

Student

Brookes Westshore

1939 Sooke Rd, Victoria, BC V9B 1W2

Colwood, British Columbia

 

Dear Mr. Langston Hughes,

I am writing this letter to tell you how much I enjoy your poetry. I especially found  “Ruby Brown” and “Negro” to be interesting and thought provoking.

My questions for you would be; How do you start your poems and what influences your ideas? What poet inspires you the most. What is your idea of blues poems? What blues structure do you prefer? What emotions do you think they should create? What is your favorite form of poem? I noticed you use multiple structures, topics, and moods throughout your works.

I found it easy to experience the mood you may have been feeling when you wrote “Ruby Brown”.  The emotion I encountered was joy and sadness.

“She was young and beautiful
And golden like the sunshine
That warmed her body.
And because she was colored
Mayville had no place to offer her,
Nor fuel for the clean flame of joy
That tried to burn within her soul

However with “Negro”, I felt emotions that included sadness, frustration and empathy. In the poem, you talk about black people’s contributions from the continent of Africa, to the country of America. Unless you take history, readers may not know what you mean by:

“The Belgians cut off my hands in the Congo.
They lynch me still in Mississippi.”

Did you initially question whether the vast majority of people would know what this means? What mood were you experiencing while writing this poem, and how do you view the world? Should more art like your poetry be included to promote different perspectives to make a better society?

I enjoyed your works and their creative content. They have benefitted my education about the arts and my heritage.

Thanks, and best wishes,

William Dolan

Personal Response to Candide

Candide is a book written by Voltaire, in this story it shows the globe-trotting misadventures of Candide during the 18th century while searching for his love and losing people a long the way and reconnecting with them or finding them again later on in the story. Witnessing tragedy, and causing tragedy is something Candide experiences often.

One of the global issues that I see during Candide is War and Violence. Candide is set in a time of huge violence and wars due to this there is plenty imagery, stories, and scenes of war. Some of the scenes and stories take a toll on certain people and how it shapes them.

“‘Mademoiselle’, the old woman replied, ‘you are not aware of my pedigree. And were I to show you my bottom, you would not speak as you do but would immediately abandon your claim.'”

This is talking about how the old woman’s misfortunes from being a princess to a slave in morocco to escaping a mound of corpses to Constantinople where they are supposed to defend against the Russians.

Then during the time the Russians were trying to starve the soldiers inside Azov, the soldiers thought because they had no food they would eat the woman inside but there was a imam that said it would be beneficial to eat one buttock from each woman instead of killing them. Then she worked from inn to inn in Russia, then she became a maid to Don Issacar where then she was appointed to dear lady Cunegonde.

 

Personal Response To Candide

Candide, by Voltaire, touches on the subject of happiness. We meet and follow characters who believe that happiness is always achievable and others who find it impossible to find. Wealth and society impact the way people look at happiness and if happiness even is achievable.

Society and wealth play a big role in how we interact with people we meet, and the people we know. Class and wealth can give a person power socially over a person with your average salary If they were in the same room together. This, therefore, leads us all to believe that becoming rich and upper class, will change us for the better or take care of all our problems. Voltaire’s Candide shows how money really is not everything there is to live and what we really need in life to be somewhat happy.

Class and wealth do not give you permanent happiness. As humans, we get bored of what we once were once driven to receive or see but soon want more, something bigger and better, just like a little kid and how they will get a new toy then need the newest one tomorrow. Most people I find know this is not true that wealth will fix your problems but, when they are put into the actual situation of being around or being offered large amounts of money, they’re way of thinking disappears and it’s all about the money, regular taking is thrown out the window caution doesn’t matter just the money. Money in Candide is everything, everyone wants it and is trying to gain more of it. Even within the book when Candide asks for a boat ride to Venice it costs him 10 thousand, the sailor realizes how easy it was to get the money out of Candide and asked for 20 thousand, then 30. Candide is desperate and forks over the money foolishly. The sailor then takes off before

Candide is even on the ship along with his money. Money can disappear quickly anyone can take it at any given moment in time. We see an example of this when Candide met the six dethroned kings. They may not be poor but are unhappy and tired. Once your class and wealth are gone it leaves you feeling like nothing since you have become used to these luxuries.

Money is still able to even bore someone, even if you have all the money and wealth you can become bored. For example (P 100) “Don’t you see that everything he poses disgusts him?” Martin replied “Plato said a long time ago that the best stomachs are not the ones that reject food” Martin is saying how people in need would beg to be in the situation that the man they have met is in, yet men like him become spoiled and don’t know what pleasure is anymore. Therefore, these kinds of people are the ones rejecting the food ignorantly.

Without struggle, humans will lose their perception of what makes them happy since they will have already been there done that if life was harmless and always happy. We need to feel sadness and struggle to keep life interesting. Without struggle or work, we end up having nothing to look forward to each day it all just becomes a blend of nothingness. towards the end of the book, Candide meets a gentleman who invites him into his house. The gentlemen explain how does not know about anything of what is going on around him and just focuses on his own life, minding his own business. (P.118) “work keeps three great evils at bay: boredom, vice and want” This man is perfectly happy as far as we can tell and just pays attention to taking care of himself while working away. This shows Candide and the readers how there can be happiness without ridiculous wealth and class.

Work keeps us content with how life may be going on around us. Without it, we would have nothing to work towards. It is a necessary part of our lives and we cannot just get rid of it by creating a utopia of some sort.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candide by Voltaire: On the Meaning of Life

Time and time again, I, and certainly a large portion of people, confront the question of why we exist, and consequentially, what goals I should strive for to be happy in my life. And this is a theme which permeates throughout Voltaire’s book Candide, presenting itself as a form of irony which reinflicts itself upon the main protagonist Candide.

Candide is perpetually in a limbo of justification. He worries endlessly: am I acting morally? Especially, is this world morally positive, or anarchically tendencied towards indifference and suffering? These two opposing standpoints are reflected in Candide’s companions Pangloss and Martin, Pangloss advocating our ability to alter fate is benign and that destiny is not found, but predetermined, while Martin advocates an indifference about the world, where empathy is immaterial and suffering is the quality of life. Candide is always limbo between these two schools of thought, swaying from the belief of Pangloss’ “best possible world” when events proceed in benefit to him, while in times of suffering and remorse, he would resort to Martin’s beliefs.

However, and this I believe is where Voltaire’s opinion illuminates itself, is the irony underlining this whole dilemma. In Candide, no resolution is found in travel with Martin nor Pangloss, and events contradict both philosophers’ teachings. With Pangloss’ teaching at heart, Candide’s love Cunegonde is kidnapped from Thunder-ton-Tronckh, he encounters poverty in the Netherlands where he finds Pangloss withered and permanently blemished, and even Pangloss is hung following a misconceived condemnation via lynching of his party during the Spanish Inquisition in the book. Whereas for Martin, his cynicism falls short in determining what happiness really means for us, his advocation of life as being eternal misfortune is refuted by this statement, “‘Let us work without reasoning,’ Martin said. ‘It is the only way to make life bearable.’ (p.119)”

Additionally Voltaire’s own ethos may be used to affirm this resolution: “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.” And this one: “Faith consists in believing what reason cannot.” Voltaire did not know why Pangloss nor Martin’s beliefs were wrong, yet his school of thought was that there is doubt in the world, and Candide’s questioning on what the world should mean is a situation of such.

I am unsure what to conclude from reading Candide, as the effect the book has upon me is unclear, however one thing is definite: whatever Candide was searching for in terms of resolution he did not find, and that this resembles the real world in how things have no inherent meaning and that truth is probably not what it seems. To address a certain perspective: some may argue Cunegonde was the resolution Candide was looking for, but can that really be true?  I don’t know if love is the answer to happiness, if happiness can easily be that simple; maybe even happiness is not the answer to life resolution. And this is what I mean when I say Voltaire’s irony. Therefore, the best conclusion I can have, along with Candide: “…we must cultivate our garden.”

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.

 

 

WDolan Response to Candide

My chosen global issues are beliefs, values, and education. Candide represents these global issues as he follows ideas implanted in his head by Dr. Pangloss. He refuses to turn away from those values even if they are not for the better good.

Candide is a scornful novel that mockingly explores the evident unpredictability of our lives,  religion, and optimism, thinking that everything occurs for a purpose and that each of us produce our share of luck to make a lasting happiness.

How do the chosen global issues tie into Candide? They address the main elements communicated within the story, and reflect some of the elements included within a real historical timeframe which was the Enlightenment. In society today, we have ideas implanted into our minds either by visual media or governments that tend to create a vision for what the future or present should look like. Based on our education, there are many values and belief’s we follow. Candide’s education by Dr. Pangloss is what influenced his beliefs, values, and education.

In what way are the ideas presented in Candide an example of how we should be vigilant when it comes to caring for those we love? Do Candide’s values reflect our tendency to be unforgiving and full of hatred toward those who hurt us? Should we be more optimistic when it comes giving people a chance to redeem themselves from their mistakes? Should society be more critical towards the ethics behind politics, the treatment of women, religious knowledge systems, and corrupt power of money?

Although Candide may have a comical approach towards the principals of optimism, It has many underlying properties that reflect a better society. I think Candide is an important read for individuals, since it allows people think critically around the comical aspect of the story. Individuals can reflect on the global issues mentioned in the story and add the values into their daily lives.

Candide: Personal Reflection

In Candide, there is a lot packed into a relatively thin book. Beneath the surface of a series of comical but realistic events of 18th century Europe, Voltaire criticizes Leibniz’s philosophy of Optimism and also includes his own philosophical views here and there. Many of them left an impression, but I want to write specifically about the objectification of art and artists in Candide. Objectification is constantly found in Candide, in terms of the objectification of women, various races, and slaves. In this context, I specifically refer to the dehumanization of artists, and the subjective value of the produced art.

When the group watches a tragical play in France, Candide, fascinated by the actress playing Queen Elizabeth, asked “how the queens of England should be approached in France.” (p.76) Candide calls the actress the “queen,” when she is really just a performer.

 “One must make a distinction,” the abbé replied. “In the provinces one takes them to an inn; in Paris one shows them respect while they are beautiful but throws them onto a garbage dump when they are dead.” (p.77)

By making a “distinction” between the different ways of approaching the actress, suggests that stage artists in the provinces and in Paris are valued differently. When in fact, whether skilled or not skilled, they are all performers. “Takes them to an inn,” gives me the visual impression of “pulling” them off the stage, entering reality. It is hypocritical not to realize that the artist isn’t only a role in the play, but is also human, and should be treated as one. Candide is eager to approach the actress offstage, “for she seems quite admirable.” (p.78) To keep their desirability as an actor or actress, performers are expected to keep wearing their roles offstage.

However, admiration and respect does not last long, for when they die, they are refused the “honor of burial” from the Catholic church. This contrast of treatment has nothing to do with their humanistic qualities, but rather it is just because they are performers. Mademoiselle Monime is Voltaire’s reference to his friend, an actress who received poor burial. “She had a noble mind,” (p.78) he writes, indicating that her terrible burial had nothing to do with her personal qualities, nor is something that she deserves. Voltaire calls it “contradictions” and “incompatibilities,” (p.77). The Church does not appreciate the artistic value of the actors and actresses. But just because the plays don’t serve for the Church’s interest, does not mean the actors and actresses are unholy or unworthy of burial.

Nevertheless, Candide quickly moves on in his journey of searching for answers. He visits Count Pococurante. Amazed by his prosperity and lack of appreciation for his collections, Pococurante made me think about the value of art. Count Pococurante claims that he cannot “like a painting unless I can believe I am seeing nature itself,” (p.98) which seems to suggest that art’s value is determined by one’s subjective opinion, or as we say today, art is subjective. The clergymen of the Church, the play critic, (whom Voltaire describes as “serpents of literature,” (p.78)) and Count Pococurante cannot appreciate art, because they ignore and reject the artistic intent of the artists. If you objectify art by giving it a fixed physical value, label the artist, or use art for a purpose, such as satisfying one’s “vanity,” (p.95) there is no doubt that the real message intended from the artists are ignored.

Art, as an everlasting method of communication, along with its communicators, are injured by this objectification. Candide and his group of friends move on very fast in the plot, similar to how fast everything is happening in the world today. But art is always present. It is always there for us to appreciate if we wish to. Compared to other things, there’s only several short passages that mention those issues with art in Candide. But it also matches up to his philosophical remark at the end, “we must cultivate our garden.” (p.119) In this sense, it is very important for one to cultivate one’s own garden. It is impossible to appreciate the value of art when one’s heart has nothing to resonate with it.

 

Personal Response to Candide

Candide, by Voltaire, explores the everpresent global issue of happiness; specifically the facades we put up to simulate it. Throughout this novel, we observe a differentiation between optimistic and pessimistic characters; ones who believe happiness is easily achievable, and ones who scrutinize the lack of it. We witness Candide conforming to the philosophy he has been told to believe—that we’re living in the best of all possible worlds—then we see him branch away and truly question his own beliefs on Leibnizian optimism. Amidst that, Candide raises questions regarding our reliance on others to make us happy, and the deception of our appearances.

When Candide first sees Paquette and Brother Giroflée, he claims, “But as for this girl and her monk, I will wager that they are truly happy creatures,” (p. 90) to which Martin replies, “I will wager that they are not.” (p. 90) Brother Giroflée is described as having, “sparkling eyes, a confident air, a superior look, and a proud gait,” (p. 90) and Paquette as, “very pretty and was singing.” (p. 90). Later, after learning the stories of both people, Candide comes to realize that Martin was correct; their happy exteriors did not match their true, “unfortunate” feelings. Paquette tells Candide, “I have to seem in a good mood to please a monk,” (p. 92) which leads to a theory of why we mask our true feelings behind facades of happiness: to please others.

In a way, the satirical genre of the novel coincides with this global issue. On the surface, it’s lighthearted, humorous, and absurd. Yet underneath, it tackles issues of importance. There are a variety of levels at which we can process this story; as we dig deeper, we are exposed to more profundities. This is a parallel to the gradation of happiness we remark in different characters; we must search for their values and emotions, since we can’t necessarily trust what they originally display.

After forming the conclusion, with Martin’s help, that one without sorrows is a “rare specimen” (p. 94), Candide decides, “Well . . . no man can be happy, except for me when I see Cunegonde again.” (p. 100) Candide is tying his happiness to someone else, rather than finding it from within or from a healthy source. Relying on someone else for something as fundamental as happiness is toxic, because if that person lets you down, you’re risking your wellbeing. Throughout this novel, Candide continuously loses people dear to him. In fact, he repeatedly loses Cunegonde; it’s a cycle of being separated then reunited. When Candide is without these people, we see glimpses of unhappiness and pessimism. The first time he reunites with Cunegonde, he’s elated. When he realizes Pangloss and the baron are alive, he can’t believe his luck and joy. However, in the concluding chapter of Candide, he starts finding himself profoundly bored, and even points out, “there is a horrible amount of evil in the world.” (p. 117) The spark of that initial reunion has faded, and the happiness along with it. This is what happens when you tie your happiness to someone; this is why we must find alternative sources for it.

In the final chapter of Candide, he has a conversation with a Turk, who spends his days cultivating his estate with his children. He claims, “Work keeps three great evils at bay: boredom, vice, and want.” (p. 118) After profoundly contemplating this conversation, Candide makes his notable concluding quotation,

“That is well said,” Candide replied, “but we must cultivate our garden.” (p. 119)

We don’t see what Candide does after saying this. We don’t know whether he follows through longterm on this newfound philosophy; whether he combats boredom, vice, and want; whether he’s happy. Is cultivating his garden—himself— a way of finding happiness from an alternative source? This novel allows us to reflect upon our own lives; it allows us to question whether we’re hiding behind a facade of happiness. Beyond that, it prompts us to wonder what we can do to find happiness. If we were to ask ourselves this, and profoundly contemplate it like Candide does, would we reach the same conclusion? Would we find happiness through cultivating our garden?

Personal Response to Candide

The novel Candide by François-Marie Arouet, who is also well known as Voltaire, written in 1759, is a satirical and philosophical tale that debunks the popular belief of “the best in the best of all possible worlds.” The story was told from Candide’s perspective and initially targeted Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, a German mathematician and philosopher. The content is repetitive, and some of the themes frequently occurring are optimism and disillusion, social criticism, the hypocrisy of religion and philosophy, politics and power of justice, and love and women.  

A global issue brought up in Candide is politics, justice, and the corrupting power of money. There has been a hierarchy of powers; with money comes power, and thus, without money, the characters ought to be slaves. Candide being rich is a great irony in the novel; not only does his money help him along his journey, but it also holds him back. His riches make him a target for attentiveness and thievery. He was referred to as an ‘English lord’ because he was unbothered by his fortune loss. “Among those who did him the honours of the town was a little Abbé of Perigord.”(XX 156). His money regularly attracts false friends and helpers and is robbed several times during the novel. He listens to countless stories of miseries along his journey and awards money to the most despairing person. His behavior resembles the old woman’s to some extent, as they compare misfortunes. When we talk about how his riches helped him, it is referred to as bribery, “If the Governor makes any difficulty, give him a million.” (XIX 136). The power of money helps him rescue the love of his life, Cunegonde, from the Governor. Having money includes its benefits; for example, the noble Signor Pococurante owned a beautiful palace and lived his best life, although it did not buy him happiness. Candide was not always rich; during his poverty, he saw and caused bloodshed. After gaining wealth, the audience watches his optimism slowly turn more into pessimism. He was involved in the killings of the Baron and the Inquisitor, even though he caused bloodshed; it seemed as if he was sorrier to see his money disappear than witness bloodshed.

The global issue of politics also includes human rights and justice. People must be allowed the basic rights of freedom and speech. However, these often are neglected in the novel. Certain ethnic groups are tortured for the most stupid reasons, this occurs to a point where the audience is unable to distinguish between the reality and the comical side of the events.  “The burning of a few people alive by a slow fire…is an infallible secret to hinder the earth from quaking.” (VI 47). These are incredibly bizarre superstitions followed by the Portuguese. They established ways to torture visitors and their people for “speaking their mind” and “refusing to eat bacon.” Individuals are forbidden to speak their thoughts and tortured for refusing to eat something that could perhaps be against their religion. This point has been re-established in chapter 25, during Candide’s visit to Italy. “In all our Italy we write only what we do not think…the Antoninuses dare not acquire a single idea without the permission of a Dominican friar.” (197). Citizens are barred from having a different opinion than that of others, and if they must ⏤ they shall face the consequences.

A difference of opinions is shown throughout the novel, “Thou does not deserve to eat.” (III 32). This quotation was used by the orator while asking Candide about the Pope. As Candide was unbothered and had a different opinion than the orator, he was declared not to be served food. Our opinions are shaped through previous experiences and concrete evidence; although Candide’s was mostly constructed by Pangloss’ philosophy, it is unjust to criticise someone’s beliefs. This leads to Candide trying to classify himself as ‘just.’ “Candide asked to see the court of justice, the parliament.” (XVIII 127).  There has been no previous information for the existence of a ‘law court’ in the book. The entire world is shown to be in chaos, yet no reference has been made to a court of justice. An aspect that is confusing is, if the government refused to take action in other countries/cities, why would a parliament exist in a paradise such as El Dorado? Candide tries to initiate a just environment and tries to make amends after killing a significant number of people. “I have made ample amends by saving the lives of these girls.” (XVI 106). Candide is the type of character who would understand the consequences of his actions once he has caused the conflict. The killing of any sort has no relation with making amends of any kind. Cacambo, on the other hand, describes the chaos as “a masterpiece of reason and justice.” (XIV 93). The privileged becoming wealthier and the unprivileged becoming poorer is not a masterpiece. Individuals being tortured daily does not spark as justice to anyone. People are said to get what they deserve, but in the 18th century, this does not seem to be fair. “Why should the passengers be doomed also to destruction?” (XX 148). This represents inequality; individuals must not suffer due to someone else’s actions. Voltaire indicates this as God’s justice but the ‘devil’s mischief.’

A philosophical question raised by the novel was, is an optimistic view a practical perspective of the world? And to that my answer would be no. Not every event can be the best of all possible worlds. An individual’s life can never be the best or the worst of all possible worlds; there is always a neutral. Candide could be referred to as a ‘sympathetic hero.’ There are circumstances in the novel that impose a particular standard of power. For example, in chapter 26, six dethroned kings enjoyed supper together at an inn. It is a surprising coincidence for six dethroned kings to have a dinner together at an inn in Venice. This also proves the answer to the philosophical question. The kings were rich and powerful, but not for too long; once they were dethroned, they would live an ordinary life.

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.

 

 

 

 

WDolan_Odyssey_Reflection

The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer, taking place in ancient Greece. It focuses on the ten year struggle of Odysseus returning home after the Trojan war. During Odysseus’ battles with mythical creatures and the wrath of the gods, his wife Penelope and his son Telemachus fight to hold off suitors, who want to marry Penelope, and behold the throne of Ithaka.

The Odyssey should be given credit for its mass amount of geographical information, and use of an attention grabbing theme. It involves a hero and who is trying to make his way home to his family, and throne. The from uses dactylic hexameter, which is a form of rhythmic tempo within poetry. It includes 6 foot lines where every foot has either a long syllable followed by two short ones (this is called a dactyl), or just two more long syllables (this is called a spondee). The first four feet can either be a dactyl or a spondee, and the fifth is usually a dactyl.

I found the Odyssey interesting for it’s form and use of suspense. Many detailed parts of the book seemed like they could have been left out to keep the reader engaged in the action. It took a long time to reach the end goal, and the ending was ruined by the potential of another war. The interruption of Odysseus’ reunion with his family seemed unnecessary to me. The repeating of the characters traits such as: “grey eyed Athena” was irritating. It’s inclusion of themes such as seduction, paradise, death, and temptation were fascinating as they reflect the problems of modern day humanity. The idea that there may never be a paradise that can satisfy every individual therefore being a form of death within itself was engrossing.

In conclusion, the Odyssey is not a horrible book. However, it is not something I would recommend to readers (especially millennials) as it is very extensive, and doesn’t seem to have enough of a connection with the modern world.

Personal Response to The Odyssey

Despite being written approximately 3000 years ago, The Odyssey, by Homer, challenges us to question ourselves and our priorities, while simultaneously questioning Odysseus. At the start of his journey, Odysseus longs for action, glory, and excitement. He’s a young man, seeking adventure一something that many young people can relate to. He defends, he fights, he conquers. He builds his reputation, leaving one title for himself: a hero. However, after travelling to Hades and witnessing real death, he aches for life; the mortality of his loved ones, the reconnection with his family, the evasion of death. Odysseus has that life altering moment. He experiences something so significant that he realizes exactly what he wants一needs to be doing. In reality, most of us aren’t fortunate enough to have that momentous experience or realization. There’s no big BOOM!, or if there is, it often blows over quickly, whether that’s positive or negative. Prior to this significant event (Odysseus’ visit to Hades), Odysseus’ personal characteristics and desires are questionable. He allows himself to be tempted by several obstructions blocking his path home, such as the beautiful goddess, Kirke, or the glory of beating the Kyklops, regardless of the effect it would have on his crew. Moreover, Odysseus’ reluctance to travel home to his parents, wife, and child demonstrates how little he prioritizes family. To contrast, after going to Hades, Odysseus’s likeability increases, because he has a sudden shift in his priorities and values. This raises the question, did Odysseus need this profound, life-altering experience to grow? What does that reveal about us? Is personal growth acquired through multiple life experiences, or through one earth-shattering one?

Preceding this event, would we consider Odysseus heroic? Is he a good person? We recognize Odysseus as a hero, but as I was reading The Odyssey, I repeatedly found myself contemplating that. On a spectrum ranging from good to bad, Odysseus is morally grey at best. Yes, he is courageous, intelligent, and brave, but he is also disloyal, hubristic, and hypocritical. During Odysseus’ hard times, I feel sympathy for him. For instance, the scene when he sees his mother in Hades, without knowing she had died, is heartbreaking, because we see vulnerability and tenderness within him. Nonetheless, the brutal deaths of the maids and suitors had me reconsidering my stance on those qualities, due to how rapidly he can turn his compassion on and off.

Throughout this poem, I began to grasp how consistent human nature is. Although we have evolved tremendously on superficial levels, we’re still fundamentally the same as characters in The Odyssey. People still have that unwavering ambition that we see within Odysseus, the wise intelligence Penelope possesses, and the sheer heartbreak Anticlea is pained with. In modern life, we observe Telemakhos’ coming-of-age story retold in many contexts, and we feel ourselves experiencing it. People encounter the same temptations Odysseus does, underneath different, luring facades. The problematic patriarchal society we’re trying to move past is so difficult to conquer, because it’s been rooted in society since before the 8th century BCE. We may think that we’re different to these characters, and in many ways we are. But ultimately, we can see ourselves in them. The reason why we can read a book like The Odyssey and raise questions such as, ‘Why do we suffer?’ is due to the poem’s emphasis on human nature, and our ability to connect with it. As we have discussed in class, it has a different effect on us depending on our life experience and emotional state. The Odyssey was a challenging read, but due to this reason, I’m certain I will one day read it again.

The Odyssey: Notes on Fate and Suffering

Prevalent in The Odyssey are the topics of Fate and Suffering. Questions are raised about what forces control our fates, and what the origins of the events that cause our suffering are. The reader is given insights into the common ideologies of the time, and the motivations of the characters to behave in certain ways. Take as example their belief in morals, and how they affected what their fate, i.e., the gods’ opinion about them, were prevalent in the book: (Fitzgerald, 1961) “Young friends, no mortal man can vie with Zeus. His home and all his treasures are for ever. But as for men, it may well be that few have more than I. How painfully I wandered before I brought it home! Seven years at sea . . . But while I made my fortune on those travels a stranger killed my brother, in cold blood,—tricked blind, caught in the web of his deadly queen. What pleasure can I take, then being lord over these costly things? How gladly I should live one third as rich to have my friends back safe at home!” (p.55-56)

This is how Menelaos, richest of the kings at the time of the story responds to Telemakhos’ comment on his splendor rivaling that of Zeus’. He begins by rejecting that statement, then differentiates how he is merely a mortal, rather than Zeus who would live forever. He then states the obvious: he may be the richest man alive, however he contrasts that with the humble sufferings of his life, and how he is no different from any other person who suffers; his wealth comes from the common place of suffering. Instead of using it to widen the social difference between he and poor peasants, he talks about how it was events of the world which led him to being wealthy, and events of the world to which he is forever in debt for his wealth. Through this quote, it can be interpreted Menelaos believes the world is somewhere of unfair suffering, where we are all victims of a malicious culpable world that executes suffering unjustly. Then to ratify this statement, we can see how Odysseus, for no apparent reason except fate, ended up stuck on Kalypso’s island for seven years, or how Paris, son of king Priam, chose to take Helen back to Troy, igniting the Trojan War. Menelaos shows humility in how he understands himself to be part of a much larger and stronger world, of which he has no control. Then, a situation occurs where Menelaos is justified in showing contempt, rather than empathy:

(Fitzgerald, 1961) “Intolerable—that soft men, as those are, should think to lie in that great captain’s bed. Fawns in a lion’s lair! As if a doe put down her litter of sucklings there, while she quested a glen or cropped some grassy hollow. Ha! Then the lord returns to his own bed and deals out wretched doom on both alike. So will Odysseus deal out doom on these. O Father Zeus, Athena, and Apollo!” (p.63)

In his response to Telemakhos’ description of events at the great hall on Ithaka, Menelaos denounces the suitors and threatens them with suffering. Instead of generousity, he conveys anger and repulsion at the notion, and uses demeaning language by reference to as if they were courting a doe’s sucklings, implying that is all they can and are worth to court. Then he appeals to the gods of justice, Zeus, Athena, and Apollo, to be ratified of his own statement. This example of morals—how others should be treated—is very different from the previous example of Menelaos denouncing his own valour, empathizing with the common people. It represents how it seemed just worthy to bear commonality to people who seemed well-intentioned, whilst others deserved scorn. And, arguably, that is still the case in modern times, as we, as people, choose to befriend those who we deem morally similar rather than those who our principles conflict with. However, the stark difference from The Odyssey’s ancient Greece and our own world is how there exists a divine law of the admirable qualities in a person, rather than the unmonitored and unsolidified qualities we, in the modern world, possess.

In The Odyssey, fate and suffering are determined by the will of the gods, as expressed by random events, prophecies and omens, and direct or indirect appearances by the gods. People must conform by the acceptable social standards of politeness, or they are punishable by the gods. In The Odyssey, anyone who acted against moral principle went to the fields of Asphodel, while the good-natured others went to the heavens with the gods. What was determined to be good-natured was rigid and unrelenting. That way, fate was directly based on how people comported themselves in life. Whereas suffering happened even to the best of people, like Odysseus, however it was the response to suffering which could be determined admirable or unadmirable, which in turn determined the person’s fate. If one kept genuinity and humbleness through their life experiences, rather than becoming bitter and revengeful, like the suitors, would likely be rewarded later by the gods, as in Odysseus’ case. In our modern world, though, there is no fate. Our will to behave morally and admirably is instead based on social rules and interpersonal respect. It is less likely our decisions will have as dire consequences as they would in The Odyssey, nor will they condemn us after we die. However, we still suffer identically to characters in The Odyssey, and the only thing we can blame for causing it is the world. Likewise, our approach to overcoming suffering, profiting from our experiences, and sharing kindness to others through everyone’s commonality under this absurd world stays the same. Although the world of The Odyssey is drastically different, holding divine forces and concrete social laws, our world is fundamentally similar, and what issues afflict us, and the basis on which we live among each other, are still the same. Throughout time, even as beliefs change on the source of fate and suffering, these issues are still core to who we are as human beings. It shows how it is impossible to understand: Why do we suffer?, and what is good and what is bad?

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.

 

 

Reflection on Paradise and Death

Paradise and Death by Eric Macknight talks about Odysseus’ journey after the 10 year Trojan war. It but it really talks about the brutal journey Odysseus had to go through suffering through all the pain and trying to find happiness while at the same time, facing the gods and losing all his men.

I learned how much pain Odysseus had to really go through especially after seeing his mother in the underworld. I also registered how many tragic events he had to go through. He was responsible for the death of his crewmates, and him discovering his mother died from missing Odysseus. You can tell the impact it made on him.

From the text, I learned that expressing emotion can catch the reader’s eye, and to be more descriptive and getting deeper into text, but not getting sidetracked and losing the topic. Another thing I learned that ties into the last part are to be more clearer with writing and make sure the text makes sense in your head.

WDolan English Paradise and Death

There are many things I learned about the Odyssey from the ‘Paradise and Death’ literary analysis.  There is a restless dissatisfaction with the pleasures of paradise and the inability to fully experience every fantasy life in paradise brings.  I observed and made note of how the author starts explaining the meaning and significance of the title right at the beginning.  This is a great tool for writing, as it is important for the reader to gain a summarized approach to the literary analysis first, to keep them engaged.

I learned about the main aspects included within the definition of death in the Odyssey. I liked how the author explains the meaning of each word included in the title. He begins with paradise, and then debunks his points with contradictory comments about death. I was amused by the way he was debating with himself about his previous mentions of paradise and death, and making sure to look at all viewpoints on the topic he was analysing.

The author also mixes the theme of paradise and death by mentioning how certain aspects of death do not exist without paradise since paradise is a form of death within itself. He references how Odysseus is in paradise when he sees his mother, but is really dead since she vanishes when he goes to hug her.  This situation strongly references the story of Sisyphus, and how every time he rolls the rock to the top of the hill, it suddenly rolls back down the hill, causing Sisyphus to start over again. I re-learned how good writing requires extra emphasis on important points, to persuade the reader to believe the statements you make. A great example of this is when the author returns to the subject of how death requires paradise, and writes about how living in the past is a form if death within itself, since we would not be able to experience other pleasures in the future.

I learned how Odysseus takes Penélopê for granted since she is mortal. He also uses Kalypso as a sort of medicine for his feelings, and would not be “so dissatisfied” with her if Penélopê was immortal. This then transitions into the thought of a paradise where we can love anyone we want.

I observed how paradise and death were linked again through the mentions of how to live forever would be to not live at all, and how paradises are a form of death when they pretend adversities don’t exist.

I liked how the conclusion mixes Homer’s world with our current world, and how human nature has not changed over the course of 2000 years. All paradises have their conflicts and forms of death. Our modern world contains pleasures such as technology, but when used offensively against others, it causes a physical and mental death.

DP English Literature 1 – Reflection on “Paradise and Death”

“Paradise and Death”, written by Eric MacKnight, expresses how the main character, Odysseus, pursues the goal of happiness in the book “The Odyssey” (by Homer). MacKnight brings up many points about how “The Odyssey” is a compelling series of books in how it makes you reflect on life and what its meaning is. All good literature contains big questions, and MacKnight’s essay talks about the big question “Who are we?” and provides evidence how this big question makes “The Odyssey” a compelling and insightful book, even to us, in the modern era.

MacKnight talks about how there were “…six opportunities to [for Odysseus] escape from his troubles: the land of the Lotos Eaters; Kirkê’s island; the Seirênês; Kalypso’s island; the three days swimming at sea after his raft is destroyed by Poseidon; and Phaiakìa.” (P.2) He then goes on to explain how each scenario offered a different way for Odysseus to spend the rest of his life. He explains how the Lotos Eaters offered a drug-induced euphoria, Kirke’s island offered a life of banquets and sleeping with Kirke, the Seirenes offered a life of living in the past, the three days at sea offered death, Kalypso’s island offered immortality, and Phaiakia offered a life of comfort and splendor. MacKnight then elaborates how each scenario offers a form of death, as a certain form of pain would be eliminated from Odysseus’ life and because we need pain to feel happiness, Odysseus would cease to be happy. A life without happiness, he argues, is a form of death.

My greatest takeaway from “Paradise and Death” is that underlying literature there are regularly big questions that you wouldn’t realize are there. I would never have thought that Kalypso’s island was a place of death until the class discussion we had talking about how all the plant life on the island was symbolic of death. It also would never have crossed my mind that Phaiakia would be a form of death, even though I understood Odysseus’ reasoning to go back to Ithaka (to see his home). I think MacKnight’s writing is excellent because, even though it uses simple vocabulary and sentence structure, it explores really compelling and resonant ideas that I would never have thought of before. These ideas are put plainly by him in his essay, and they benefit from that because they make you clearly understand what “The Odyssey” is really about.

Paradise and Death

Paradise and Death: The Temptations of Odysseus, by Mr. MacKnight,  raises and explores each of the major questions we consider while reading The Odyssey. Whether they’re discussed directly or indirectly, this essay highlights the connections between  each question. In The Odyssey, we travel alongside Odysseus as he encounters gods and monsters, suffers through pain, faces dangerous temptations, and grows as an individual. This analysis connects those adventures with current societal issues, as well as deep-rooted flaws in human nature.

The first question, the nature of the Greek gods, is raised in the discussion about immortality and what gives our lives meaning. As Odysseus encounters the Greek gods and goddesses (Kirkê and Kalypso) he’s tempted by paradisiacal islands and beautiful women. However, after being offered eternal life, he realizes that immortality would render his life meaningless. In Mr. MacKnight’s words,

. . . he longs for Penélopê precisely because she must die. If Penélopê (and Laertês and Telémakhos) were immortal, Odysseus would not be so dissatisfied with Kalypso, so impatient to get home; there would be plenty of time to do everything, without suffering any loss. . . It is because we mortals die that our lives are precious and our actions significant. (p. 9)

This introduces the following question, ‘Why do we suffer?’. Through broadening my literary knowledge, I have recognized a recurring trope that I noticed in this essay and in The Odyssey. Pain shades your life— it makes happiness better and sadness worse. It deepens your understanding of yourself and of the world. It keeps you connected with your emotions, and is imperative to hold onto, 

[Odysseus] wants to live fully, which means living consciously. He doesn’t want to suffer, but when suffering comes he wants to feel the pain the pain of losing his mother, of being separated from his family, or growing old and facing deathbecause only if he is fully conscious of life’s sorrows will he be fully conscious of its joys[.] (p. 14)

This quotation reminded me of an impactful line said in a monologue of a film, “Right now there’s sorrow. Pain. Don’t kill it, and with it the joy you’ve felt.” (Call Me By Your Name) Odysseus’ character and desires have shifted, because he has realizes that repressing the pain is not an option. He doesn’t want to live a life where he is numb to his emotions, like the Phaiákians. Pain is inevitable. We all suffer. It hurts, for some more than others, but it’s essential. This is exemplified when we compare pain to it’s emotionless alternative,

Living in their protected world, the Phaiákians never really suffer, but neither do they feel the unsurpassed joy, the inexpressible relief that comes when suffering ends. And neither do they have that intense appreciation of life that comes from recognizing its brevity, and the inevitability of loss and sorrow. (p. 14)

We suffer because it makes us human. We suffer to feel happiness. We suffer to acquire emotional depth— love, joy, grief, and passion, rather than liking, comfort, suppression and apathy. While visiting Hades, the land of the dead, Odysseus experiences death (without actually dying), which prompts his reconnection with life. He develops a new desire to travel home; a new appreciation for everyone and everything. His motivation is restored, and he wants to return to his family. Like suffering, death has allowed Odysseus to appreciate the alternative. 

In this essay, I observed clear, specific assertions, well-structured paragraphs, literary evidence to support the assertions, and further exploration. I saw a combination of analysis and links to society/human nature, which I admire. The language wasn’t flowery, but the points were insightful and powerful. This taught me that embellished language is unnecessary for impactful writing—something which I will attempt to improve going forward. 

Antigone, “Who Is The Tragic Hero”

Sophocles’ Antigone focusses on the conflict between Creon a great almighty king, with all the power to do basically whatever wants. All of this against one willingly girl Antigone. Antigone’ is fighting for the “higher law “and does not abide or believe in Creon’s overpowering laws. Now, this issue of visibility in many examples of politics in history and modern-day history. There will always be the issue of someone having a higher bracket, influence, or just plain power over others.

For most people their preconceived idea of what a hero is our strong individual who overcomes a problem. Although the truth is heroes don’t always have to be courageous, strong, and always find justice. For example, Martin Luther King’ fought for black rights and got shot in the process, yet he still made a massive impact on society then and today.

when I read his play personally, I find it obvious who the hero could be yet still have trouble putting it into words. Mostly everyone in this play worships Creon because of fear. For example, at the beginning of the play (P1, L28) Ismene says “they mean a great deal to me, but I have no strength to break the laws made for the public good.” You can see in this quote how much Creon has almost brainwashed the public citizens. Everyone in they’re right mind would never question Creon’s laws, understandably.

Antigone to me in this play is immediately a hero in this play to me showing how she would rather die a martyr then ignore it.

“If you say so, you will make me hate you, and the hatred of the dead, by all rights, will haunt you night and day . But leave me to my own absurdity, leave me to suffer this dreadful thing. I will suffer nothing as great as death without glory.”  (Antigone P 64)

Antigone expresses through this quote how she feels it is more necessary to honor her brother, then to die without glory knowing what she could have done. The fact th=at she wet up against the insane law and fought for what she thought was right was very hero-like. maybe she didn’t get to carry on her life, but she died in glory as a martyr and stood up for hat she believes. I’m sure others in the city of Thebes realized how sickening the laws were. you can see the effect of Antigone’s decisions through the death of Eteocles and healed who both realized how cruel these laws were.

I believe Antigone was a strong individual who stood up for what she believed in until the very end as a tragic hero.

Antigone: Modernism, Law vs. Individual

Modernism? We prefer to create public order as a political tool, a philosophy that helps us to control the brutal forces of nature that threaten us. In this sense, a reductive instrument that helps prevent us from being overcome by the overwhelming complexities of human social life. Such demarcations are much less simple than all characters imagine. Creon suppresses the requests of the nether gods, one-sidedly stressing his devotion to the town and rejecting his duty as a dead member of his kin to Polynices. Not only does Antigone reject Creon ‘s public rule as the only way out of confusion and suffering, but also the private role of Creon as the head of the integrity she wants to protect. For both, the distinction of public and private is the basis for more separations of friend and adversary, spiritual and mortal, just and unjust; as it turns out, however, their one-sided solution to these problems tends to be at least partially defective, when both Creon and Antigone close their eyes to substantial details and situations that escape their schematic ways of thought.

With that being said, the defeat of the main characters of the play does not decide that it is with wrong to ‘separate rule.’ The imaginary divisions and demarcations of law are, for the Greeks as for us, the only manner in which law can expect to bring order to the anarchy of nature. The goal set by the Chorus is to look for the virtues of separative law while remembering that the art of division of law itself is a natural force. Separative law may be an invention of man, but it does not mean it is not a natural occurrence. In his valiant attempts to transcend nature and better the human condition, we undoubtedly say women too, man and as moderns. These contrivances have given us immense advantages but can also result in our demise. As artificial law takes on an unnecessarily rationalist nature, the dangers of our greatness loom big, not only drawing more or less artificial lines and categories but absolutizing its artificiality and fully ignoring its own identity as a natural power.

One-sided resort to separative law’s artificial divisions and generalisations ruins human existence even when it attempts to protect it from other powers’ devastation. No feasible solution is offered by an unbalanced focus on contextual particularity; a legal structure that depends unilaterally on unreflected personal morality is required to collapse in its coordinating role. It would eventually be important to negotiate with the remains of justice. The play leads us ever less to any unheroic ‘middle path’ in which human grandeur is rejected in lieu of a life in the shadows that is wretched and insignificant, preserved by the gods but unseen by posterity. Instead, the Antigone of Sophocles makes us mindful of our precarious state in which we are bound to make use of law and politics as rationalistic instruments that elevate us at once but threaten us in that elevation. To support us in our human lives, managing and nurturing wild nature and shielding us from its harsh powers, we founded our legal orders and cities. We are continually and ultimately at risk of losing ourselves in our hurried efforts to become the rulers and possessors of nature, now guided by the complex legal and political systems we built to assist us in the first place.

Oedipus and Antigone: Men vs Women

As Ismene said, “Remember we are women, we’re not born to contend with men.” (page 62) She believes that women must be ruled by men because they are weak. Ismene made it clear that women are second class citizens compared to men who rule everything. Antigone’s reaction to her sister was powerful. Antigone said “But leave me to my own absurdity, leave me to suffer this – dreadful thing. I will suffer nothing as great as death without glory.” (page 64)In these aspects, Antigone made it clear that what matters is standing up for what is right. Gender issues are not just about making sure you have a strong faith. For Antigone, it means the ability to know that no matter what the consequences are, you must fight for your beliefs and pursue it all the way to the end.

Sophocles takes the reader through ancient Greek, a patriarchal society dominated by men. “What? You’d kill your own son’s bride?” Ismene (page 89) then Creon replied with “Absolutely: there are other field for him to plow.” He is denying Antigone’s emotional value for Haemon. He is proved wrong as Haemon really loves Antigone, not only because she is his fiancé, but that he is madly in love with her, that’s the reason why she is irreplaceable and why Creon was wrong about objectifying women.

 

 

Antigone: Tragedy

The story of Antigone is a tragedy. Aristotle believes that “Tragedy is an imitation, not of  men, but of an action and of life, and life consists in action, and its end is a mode of action, not a quality.” (ch.6) There is more behind the conflict between Creon and Antigone, no matter if politically significant in Sophocles’s time or not.

Antigone’s actions can be controversial from her character. Although determinedly burying her brother out of hatred towards her destiny and disappointment to the city,  at the same time, she passionately believes that “I was born to join in love, not hate—that is my nature.” (p.86) She desires to be loved, to feel like she belongs, yet she rejects the opportunity. For example, when Ismene offers to die with her, Antigone tells Ismene to “never share my dying, don’t lay claim to what you never touched.” (p.87) In the end, she feels as if she is entirely alone. She cries,

“I go to my rock bound prison, strange new tomb—always a stranger, O dear god, I have no home on earth and none below, not with the living, not with the breathless dead.” (p.103) 

But she was never alone. Her conscious mind persuades herself to believe in a truth different from reality, and it leads to her suffering.

The same goes for Creon. As readers, we may have a negative impression on Creon and easily side with Antigone, but Creon is justifiable in his own way. He carries heavy responsibilities as the King of Thebes.

“Never at my hands will the traitor be honoured above the patriot. But whoever proves his loyalty to the state–I’ll prize that man in death as well life.” (p.68)

Having said that, putting his words into action produces a different effect, especially when the majority disagrees with his actions. And at last, Tiresias tells him, “You have no business with the dead, nor do the gods above–this violence you have forced upon the heavens.” (p.115) Creon used to be a calm and logical thinker, who used to say ” Who in his right mind would rather rule and live in anxiety than sleep in peace? (Oedipus the King, p.193) But it all disappears once he ascends the throne.

Did Creon change as a character? It isn’t necessary to say that Creon now thinks higher of the state’s law over the Gods. In Ancient Greek, it is a part of a citizen’s right and duty to contribute to a polis, a state. It could be viewed as faithfulness towards the gods, but it is also a form of monism. I’ve concluded that Creon does respect and fear the gods, but those gods are the gods of the polis. He isn’t displeasing the gods by ordering the corps to be left bare, because Polynices was a traitor, and a traitor has no rights to be a citizen nor deserving a burial.

Opposite of Antigone, Creon is the embodiment of order and logical reason in the play. But he is punished for his “wisdom” and his pride. The Chorus remarked at the end of the play:

“Wisdom is by far the greatest part of joy, and reverence toward the gods must be safeguarded. The mighty words of the proud are paid in full with mighty blows of fate, and at long last those blows will teach us wisdom.” (p.128)

But he was never entirely wrong. Creon represents more of a human to me than Antigone would. In the end, he calls himself “A rash, indiscriminate fool!”(p.127) which he indeed was a fool, but there’s nothing wrong with being foolish. I disagree that Haemon and Eurydice’s deaths are the direct causes of Creon’s foolishness. However sorrowful their endings may be, it is very arrogant for Creon to think that he alone caused their deaths. In Antigone, every character’s tragedy builds upon another’s and accumulates into a collective pain that if enlarged into a greater scale, that the entire human race suffers from.

But these large-scaled sufferings are the pains that we have trouble explaining. It is the pain from our conscious minds, which we take pride in as humans. The pains that we do notice are the small and insignificant ones. It is the basic karmic tragedy, where one suffers because of one’s faults. The tragedy in Antigone is that one is being punished for pursuing righteousness. Isn’t there something beautiful about suffering? I’d like to believe that at least in literature, the tragic story is always the most sincere story.

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.

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?

English 11: Antigone- Who is the protagonist of the play?

This play had many characters who have could’ve been the main character. There was Antigone, Creon, and even Chorus, but I believe the protagonist was Creon. Even though the play was named after Antigone, Creon had more screen time and was left with the bigger decisions throughout most of the play. Though Antigone did the “heroic” act, Creon suffered the most during the timeline of the play by losing his wife, Antigone, and others close to him. Finally, the play was mostly centred around him and his perspective.

Conflicts representing Antigone: Men vs. Women

Throughout Sophocles’ play,  Antigone, we encounter the recurring conflict between men and women. Although the dispute between Creon and Antigone could emphasize many existential issues, a primary one we are met with is the dominant ideology of patriarchy. Whether enforced by women or by men, the inequality between them is abundantly clear, and equally harmful.

The first demonstration of the societally induced gender roles is Ismene’s line, “Remember we are women, we’re not born to contend with men.” (p. 62) Ismene has made herself and other women inferior to men, because that is what she has been conditioned to believe. She then goes on to refer to women as, “underlings, ruled by much stronger hands,” (p. 62) which reveals the “damsel-in-distress” literary trope we are so often shown.

Later, we develop a sense of Antigone’s opposition to this ideology, when she raises herself onto Creon’s level, rather than making herself subservient to him. She says that she is not going to break the laws of the gods out of fear for, “some man’s wounded pride.” (p. 82) In this quotation, she is creating equality between the two of them, rather than succumbing to their patriarchal society. This, along with her strength to stand up to the man in power in order to defend her beliefs, are few of many reasons why Antigone is still regarded as an early feminist. 

Despite Antigone’s efforts of equality, Creon’s oppression against women is definitely prevalent.The line, “she is the man” (p. 83) insinuates that when you’re brave, accomplished, and successful, you’re a man, and when you’re the opposite, you’re a woman. Why is it that we still use words such as “manly” to replace the words brave and courageous?  

On a slightly more obvious note, when talking to Ismene, Creon says, “there are other fields for [Haemon] to plow,” (p. 89). This is incredibly degrading, objectifying, and upsetting. It affirms that women are just objects used to please men, and are therefore expendable. Creon also advises Haemon, “I warn you… a worthless woman in your house, a misery in your bed.” (p. 93) Is this really how women were regarded? Their only purposes were to carry children and to satisfy men. In so many respects, we are incredibly fortunate for the change that has occurred in this area. And yet, there is still a tremendous number of residual issues from these times, which is concerning due to the amount of time that has passed since this was written. 

I like to point out all the areas in which Creon is a sexist, misogynistic man, but could I expect anything else from people at that era? It was just the way it was, which is appalling, but true. It’s interesting that Sophocles wrote such a powerful, modern woman (Antigone), and such a despicable, sexist man (Creon). I wonder if Sophocles was purposefully speaking on the inequality between men and women, or if he was simply writing a realistic situation, which we now perceive as unjust…
Through all of this, I must ask, why are we defining the conflict as men versus women, when that enforces the segregation between them? We must discard the harmful, antiquated notion that one gender is superior, and we must replace it with actions supporting the claim that we are equal.

Reflection of Questions about Sophocles Antigone

My question is 2. Who is the protagonist (main character) of the play? The main character of the play is Creon. He is the main character because he is the catalyst in many ways, just like Antigone. When he is the catalyst the things he did includes: leaving Eteocles body unburied which turned into Antigone burying it and getting in trouble which turned to being exiled into a cave, once her soon to be husband found out, he went over to the cave, which then he realized that she had killed herself then once Haemon (soon to be husband) saw this he killed himself as well which turned into deep sorrow and loss for Creon, then once Creon’s wife heard about her son’s death, she killed herself too, which then caused more pain for Creon, in turn banishing himself. So in reality Creon is the catalyst, and it is solely him that brought it upon himself.

Antigone: A Convergence of Exclusionary Righteous Opinions

No one, I am convinced, has ever been able to be totally correct in their opinion. Our entire lives, we strive to correct our existential perspective to align with whatever we consider the most ‘authentic’, however such ideology is always ill-founded: we revise what we previously considered affirmative, or yet what we perceived as the truth is refuted by most other people and their respective ideologies. No one can say, ‘it is best to try and achieve our highest potential, becoming the best person we can be,’ since such a statement might be ill-founded with the makeup of our existence/universe. Perhaps, we would achieve a higher flow state, where we receive higher enjoyment (for reasons unknown, some greater energetic force perhaps), by releasing our life aspirations and living with what is around us, seeking happiness not from achieving greatness, however from the everyday sights and simple tasks of a ‘free’ life. Who knows? But what is for certain, the human psyche is perpetually self-correcting, drastically or minutely. And that, I believe, is the underlying theme for Antigone.

As an opinionated person, I naturally sided against Creon, whom I deemed a ‘fool’. It is interesting, I admit, how easily one can write off another’s opinions. Creon was ever so rash as to place sturdy empirical evidence behind his own intentions, firstly accusing his sentry of treason, then to firmly wish his niece dead, and accuse the other niece likewise, or to disavow the gods, brush off Tiresius’ prophecies, to not sense the heart of his people the citizens of Thebes, or to be as satanic as throw away his son’s true love. Whereas I may use a word such as ‘satanic’ to describe his actions, it is impossible to contradict one’s sense of justice. Creon likely considered his law was best for running Thebes, as it benefitted his personal biases and that as he was the best man to rule his country, being all ‘selfless’ and ‘sympathetic’ as any king should, his personal biases were what was best for his state and anyone had ought to obey him. That is my best guess. How he arrived at such a conclusion, I would assume perhaps he had lost touch with his moral senses, and as being king with no colleagues to receive advice from, he had never learned how to run a kingdom and what kinds of actions were just/unjust. In any fashion he achieved his outlook on life, this proves people can form severely distorted views of reality from others.

In the essence of not writing too much, I will not explore Antigone’s personality (nor Ismene, even the Chorus), however assume her situation is similar to Creon’s. Just like Creon, I believe Antigone foolish, however knowing I am judging the characters’ opinions, I am unable to provide an explanation for my standpoint on the matter. Perhaps I would adopt certain ideas of equality from Antigone, yet retain other protectionist from Creon. One can’t always appeal to the common good, neither flaunt their own opinion in public. Regardless, Antigone is best described as a conflict of interest, where different ideas on the world with different laws to adhere to converge.

Oedipus & Antigone, Men VS Women.

Oedipus and Antigone written by Sophocles, are plays mostly about loyalty. One of the key conflicts brought up frequently is that both plays represent an unjust environment for women, this also means a state where men are considered as prevalent.  Women in the plays are treated unfairly, there is a lack of gender equality. Women’s empowerment, in the real world, has turned into a global issue for this generation.

The lack of fair treatment of women is portrayed clearly in both plays. “Remember we are women, we’re not born to contend with men.” Ismene, (II 74-75). Girls were taught not to argue, not to speak up, and be afraid of men. “If fall we must, at the hands of a man ⏤ never be rated inferior to a woman, never.” (II 759-61). This quote by Creon illustrates a male superiority and it aligns masculinity with dominance whereas it aligns femininity with subordination.  Referring to Oedipus, “But my two daughters, my poor helpless girls…” (I-1602). Oedipus makes it seem like women/girls are powerless, they should get married or have children to be ensured, they must be with a man to be protected, women without men are hopeless. I think everyone is their own individual, a lady does not need to be with a man to characterize herself.

This points to the inferior power position women hold in the society, and the pressure placed upon them from previous generations. Pressure referring to being unable to stand up for themselves and sustaining societal reforms. The issue of ‘women empowerment’  is steadily being brought more into light. Society needs to overcome their ignorant and chauvinistic ways, and accept and respect everyone for who they choose to be.

English Blog Post September 27th 2020

My chosen question is:

 Does Antigone match Aristotle’s description of a tragedy?

 

There are many elements an author has to cover in order to make a successful tragedy. In order to write in the  correct form for a tragedy, you need the information as follows:

  • Play must have catharsis (purification and exclusion of emotions)
  • A tragic hero
  • A change in destiny within a character
  • Must be poetic
  • Needs to take place in a single day
  • Obtain in one location
  • All events are required to be closely related to one other

There are many components writers ought be aware of when creating a tragedy, but the main focus is to exhilarate two emotions: Pity and Fear.

Within the words pity and fear, you may be able to understand why tragedies occur in on place, or develop in one day. If a character (i.e the tragic hero, or protagonist) is afraid of meeting their fate, they may not want to leave their current location.  If a character is pitying a loss over someone committing suicide (which happens frequently in tragedies) then they may also commit suicide to add more drama to the play.

In conclusion, there are multiple ways to write a play. This  comprises of the theme, location, etc. The most important element for a tragedy is to keep the structure the same as Aristotle’s definition.

Candide lives!

From Candide, Chapter XXIII:

Talking thus they arrived at Portsmouth. The coast was lined with crowds of people, whose eyes were fixed on a fine man kneeling, with his eyes bandaged, on board one of the men of war in the harbour. Four soldiers stood opposite to this man; each of them fired three balls at his head, with all the calmness in the world; and the whole assembly went away very well satisfied.

“What is all this?” said Candide; “and what demon is it that exercises his empire in this country?”

He then asked who was that fine man who had been killed with so much ceremony. They answered, he was an Admiral.

“And why kill this Admiral?”

“It is because he did not kill a sufficient number of men himself. He gave battle to a French Admiral; and it has been proved that he was not near enough to him.”

“But,” replied Candide, “the French Admiral was as far from the English Admiral.”

“There is no doubt of it; but in this country it is found good, from time to time, to kill one Admiral to encourage the others.”

Today, we merely fire such people, usually:

SAN DIEGO — The captain of a San Diego-based aircraft carrier battling an outbreak of COVID-19 on his ship was fired as commanding officer Thursday, days after his letter decrying conditions on his ship became public.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced the firing during a Pentagon news conference.

“At my direction, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Capt. Brett Crozier, was relieved of command by a carrier strike group commander, Rear Adm. Stuart Baker,” Modly said.

Capt. Brett Crozier wrote a letter late Sunday asking the Navy to remove 90% of the crew of the Theodore Roosevelt to halt the “ongoing and accelerating” spread of COVID-19 on board. That letter was published Tuesday by The San Francisco Chronicle and generated headlines nationwide.

On Wednesday, the Navy announced it was moving almost 3,000 sailors off the ship and working to find space on Guam for more.

Modly said he wasn’t sure whether Crozier leaked the letter personally, but he said Crozier didn’t do enough to ensure the letter didn’t get out, saying it was copied to many people outside the captain’s chain of command.

“It was copied to 20 or 30 other people,” Modly said. “That’s just not acceptable. He sent it out pretty broadly and in sending it out pretty broadly he did not take care to ensure that it couldn’t be leaked.”

That, Modly said, demonstrated “extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis.

https://www.omaha.com/news/national/captain-of-uss-theodore-roosevelt-fired-over-leaked-letter-asking-navy-for-help/article_435110f2-ecf6-55ff-b6a4-5bd26a2a78e0.html

How artists increase impact by contrasting form with content

Artists of all sorts contrast form and content to increase the impact of their work on the audience. Here are some examples.

Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time:

They shot the six cabinet ministers at half-past six in the morning against the wall of a hospital. There were pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard. It rained hard. All the shutters of the hospital were nailed shut. One of the ministers was sick with typhoid. Two soldiers carried him down stairs and out into the rain. They tried to hold him up against the wall but he sat down in a puddle of water. The other five stood very quietly against the wall. Finally the officer told the soldiers it was no good trying to make him stand up. When they fired the first volley he was sitting down in the water with his head on his knees.

Hemingway’s low-key, matter-of-fact description increases the horror of what he describes.

John Keats, “In drear-nighted December”: Here Keats uses a sing-songy rhythm that might be found in a nursery rhyme, but the content of the poem is tragic.

I
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy Branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them,
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.

II
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy Brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.

III
Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any 
Writh’d not of passéd joy?
The feel of not to feel it,
When there is none to heal it,
Nor numbéd sense to steel it,
Was never said in rhyme.

Musicians can do similar things. Here is Stevie Wonder using a musical form from an 18th century European court—chamber music—to sing about the horrors of life in an urban ghetto in the 20th century:

And here is the Kronos Quartet using the instruments of chamber music to play Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.” (If you don’t know Hendrix’s original version, you should find it on YouTube before you listen to the Kronos Quartet’s version.)

So, what does all of this have to do with Henrik Ibsen’s play, A Doll’s House? Plenty! Ibsen uses the comfortable, familiar form of a “well-made play,” a form that was immensely popular in the 19th century, just as TV situation comedies were immensely popular in the second half of the 20th century. Put very simply, the form involves typical, middle-class people; plot complications; and then a clever twist that puts everything right at the end. The characters were usually stereotypes.

Ibsen takes this form and puts into it radical, challenging ideas about women, marriage, money, sex, social hypocrisy, etc. A Doll’s House caused widespread outrage when it first appeared in the 1870s, and a good deal of that impact comes from Ibsen’s clever use of this old artist’s trick: using a form that leads the audience to expect one sort of thing, and then giving them something very different.

HL “Candide” Posts: General Feedback

Most of you made only a minimal effort on this assignment: a short paragraph or two with some general remarks about the story.

In a good personal response, you need to include quotations and page citations. You need to discuss more than just one or two incidents from the story. You need to dig deeper into the philosophical questions raised by the story. You need to analyze the *way* the story is written, and how that connects with the story’s content. And you need to edit and proofread your writing.

Only one of you met that standard, and I urge all of you to read that post and learn from it.

Doll house

A key question brought to light in this play is “Do the characters in relationships/marriages actually love each other?” Throughout the play we see that Torvald and Nora seem to be in a happy relationship, but through the play we see that Torvald sees Nora as his toy, or as the title says, a doll. He does not love her, but he rather sees her as a trophy, and instead of loving her, he admires her, saying things about her for example she’s something “worth looking at”. Nora’s idea of a marriage is that whoever has the power in the relationship, has control over the marriage, which Torvald ultimately has, as he is the one with the money.  Nora ends up leaving her husband, due to her finally coming to the realization that she is being utterly controlled by Torvald, similar to the situation with her father, who treated her like his doll. She wants to become educated, and vows to become independent in her own actions. She married Torvald not for the sake of love, but for other reasons, like security and financial purposes. A good example of a true relationship is the one between Mrs. Linde and Krogstad. These two are not together for their own needs and wants, but for each other. They depend on each other and truly care for each other, rather than using each other to each’s benefit.

What does Odysseus want?

In Homer’s “The Odyssey”, we see the main protagonist, Odysseus, go through a multitude of difficult and life-threatening tasks, having to utilize his superior intellect as well as apply his inner tactician to survive, but what exactly keeps his head up through all these hardships and losses of companions?

His primary objective is to return to his home town of Ithaca, and rejoice with his family he has longed for for years, and his second, to strike down all the suitors that are rudely occupying his hall.

But at times in the story it seems he is quite stubborn and lustful for other things, for example when he stops at Kirke’s island, instead of departing after saving his comrades, he decides to stay for a year and reside in Kirke’s home, which is simply the human nature of being lazy.

Relationship between the humans and the gods

In “The Odyssey” by Homer, there are various divine gods, all with different attitudes and abilities, with different attitudes toward the mortals who live under them. All the gods have different abilities or have certain control over things, for example Poseidon controls the sea and earthquakes, while Athena is more of a goddess of psyche.

In the book, we can see that certain gods are on the side of Odysseus, for example Athena, who helps him with his quest to return home, as well as helping boost Telemachus’s self-confidence. Poseidon on the other hand, has hatred and no mercy toward Odysseus, as he made his son Cyclops go blind. He makes Odysseus’s trip back to Ithaca more difficult by causing an earthquake and rough seas.

 

Odysseus’s character

Odysseus is portrayed as a strong, and very intelligent character in the book. His ability to think quickly in dire situations and his grit is also quite notable. He is a good strategist as well as being a good strategist in war. He is respected by the gods and is well known among the humans. Odysseus’s loyalty is shown when he rejects the beauty and the offer of immortality from the goddess Calypso to be with his wife, who will die and wont be beautiful forever.

We can see his courage to go home as he withstands the harsh conditions put upon him, the harsh sea as well as the massive waves caused by the earthquake god.

Welcome to the IB English A Literature class blog!

We will use this space for sharing initial responses, informal writing, etc. You will find that reading each other’s work will be tremendously valuable to you. The blog will also serve as a discussion forum where conversations begun in class can be continued, or new ones started. It may be a bit scary at first, but be brave! Sooner or later you will overcome your apprehensions and appreciate the blog’s value.

You will learn a tremendous amount by reading each other’s work. Sometimes you will think, “Ah, that’s really good, I could do that, too.” At other times you will think, “Ah yes, I make that same mistake, but I usually don’t notice it in my own writing.” Or you may think, “Wow, my writing is better than I thought.” Together, we can learn faster and make more progress.

Comments on this blog must be specific, kind, and helpful. This is not Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Great literature does not send messages! It raises questions and explores possibilities.