The Swerve

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In our discussion of The Aeneid, we talked of the distinct way law appears, Fate, Aeneas’ character, a history of the text, women’s role, Roman rule, and an array of other things. A swerve was discussed in reference to creation of the powerful Roman Empire.  While I found many parts of our discussion moving and interesting, the real “swerve” or turning point I find is the way women are depicted in this text compared to all others we have encountered, particularly in The Iliad. In stark constant to the Iliad, women in The Aeneid have a voice, affect change, rule a city, and dare I say have agency. Perhaps it is the hundreds of years between these two texts that cause this incredible change to be possible. I would argue that Virgil sees women’s value in a way Homer never considered. Virgil gives woman not quite the credit due to them, but a generous, commendable effort was made to give some much needed balance.  His language being more romantic as pointed out in class, I believe gives the necessary condition for a huge shift in the treatment and portrayal of women. The language of the other text was fitting for the amount of male influence, while this style of writing may be what allowed for women to be involved in a way we haven’t encountered very much in the scope of the class. In the Iliad, Helen was blamed for so much while the “wonderful, handsome” men were constantly sidetracked with avenging someone or being petty and angry. It seemed that within certain codes, men could do no wrong, and the massive slaughters committed were for the good of the people. It was almost like a running joke to me (the condemnation of Helen), as Helen did not actively choose to leave but was stolen, and while the men carry on in a bloodbath whose purpose I question as well. It then becomes so easy to blame a woman’s “terrible beauty” for an entire war. Furthermore, the few times she spoke added only to the hopelessness of her situation. It was as if by giving her a voice, she negated her own value even more, and her voice only empathized her lack of agency. In the Aeneid, it is flat out said that Helen shouldn’t be blamed for the war and that the true blame for that situation lies with the gods. The implications of such a concept being brought forth are immense. All through the Iliad, the gods dashed around impulsively like teenagers, and there was no real consequence for them. Here we have a truth that many students have pointed out and questioned countless times. The gods’ role in Fate and in the action of the texts is huge, but is just now being acknowledged as a point of concern by Virgil.

A female goddess who is treated very differently in these two texts is Hera, so much that the term “New Hera” was coined during our discussion. Hera, while cunning and conniving throughout The Iliad, is passed over as an irrational angry women whose ideas aren’t valued. Zeus admits to being afraid of his wife, but the limit of what say she has, even as a goddess is rage inducing. It is interesting to trace a female god, and Juno (or Hera) as an example of this shift in women’s agency within the two texts. Interestingly, in The Aeneid, although “New Hera” shows her action through a masculine-like rage, there is a greater question I consider. I do not buy that Hera (or Juno) was acting particularly masculine. She was acting in a way that fueled events that were to come. Yes, all people previously behaving in this way were men. Achilles was synonymous with rage almost throughout The Iliad, as was Ares God of War. It’s as if women are not permitted to have this level of power, and so Juno’s rage on the first page of Virgil’s text is jolting. I would argue that character traits being ascribed to men such as rage and power are unisex traits. Women can be powerful, angry, and affect change and Virgil shows us that. When men are angry, they rush off to war, avenge a death, or having a silly argument. Yet, angry women are cast off as the irrational ones… The reading that Hera had to be written with a masculine description in order to be taken seriously is not my reading at all. Innana, queen of the heavens, had this same kick-butt attitude throughout her story, but we never described that as a masculine attribute. She was also clever and conniving in a similar way to Hera. As I recall, Inanna was considered a very powerful woman and that gave her so much agency. By calling Hera’s behavior “masculine”, it takes away from the notion of agency I feel is given to her in The Aeneid. In class, the reason that was given for why Dido, the female ruler of Carthage was being tricked was that Virgil would be giving her too much agency if she fell in love of her own accord. Indeed, I agree that Virgil took Dido’s agency for something that is not even explained in the text. The fact that there was a female ruler of a city is remarkable, so I would expect some clear, concise reason for why she would be put to ruin.

Having agency or free will verses everything being up to Fate in The Aeneid is something we did not come to an agreement on in class. The concept I found striking while we questioned Fate in class was walking a path, and being able to deviate from this path. It was pointed out as a possibility, that you can have four paths to deviate to, but they will all lead to the same place. The power of Juno in this text gives me the sense that while Fate is in place, there is a certain degree of agency for all mortals and gods alike. One source is the gods intervening and changing events through a drastic action or something as simple as a mist. I maintain while it is written on a scroll, both mortals and gods can change Fate. Now that Virgil has presented this huge change in how we think of women, they are a part of this discussion of changing Fate. Before this, I didn’t think of women as able to affect change. However, this is only the beginning of this epic. Unlike Aristotle in On the Heavens, I have not taken into account everything in my argument. As this text evolves, what will become of women’s voices and their agency? Will Dido’s ruin be seen as something that was in her control? Was Virgil’s generous amount of time spent on evolving the agency of a woman something that was created only to be later destroyed?

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Exploring the World within The Iliad

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Reading this for the third time, I am struck by all the things I missed by reading in haste and without enthusiasm. Talking about it with our class furthered my curiosity and showed the value of the text in a way I had not considered. Our discussion explored the roles of Agamemnon and Achilles, the oaths made between various characters, the crucial role that woman do play, and the way in which the Greek gods interact with each other and mortals. In only three chapters there is so much to cover. I would like to focus on women’s roles, Agamemnon as a ruler, and the role anger of the gods has in affecting change. Power dynamics between certain characters is also something I want to explore.

Using the information we have so far, we saw how important women are in this text despite constantly being referred in a demeaning way and as “prizes”. There are obvious things that can be pointed out. Helen caused an entire war by being captured, and when she finally does speak she blames herself. This is an odd statement as it was not her fault. She wishes she had died, but as was pointed out in class her voice besides that one passage (and the one with Aphrodite) is largely missing. We get accounts from the author about her terrible beauty, but seeing the world through her eyes is difficult, and it feels passed over. It was suggested that a text from Helen’s point of view would show the other side, but we have other important women figures presented to us. Athena, Aphrodite, and Hera all have roles they care out that influence the story in varying degrees.  For example, despite Zeus being the leader of the gods he fears Hera which is funny considering how he speaks to her. Moving away from women’s role in the text, Agamemnon is presented as the lord of men. Is his leadership truly great and well planned or is he merely an arrogant jerk?

We discussed Agamemnon’s bizarre strategies, the way he treats his warriors, and his deep arrogance. He has strange tactics that seem counterintuitive to a successful outcome, such as asking everyone to flee, that we pointed out don’t sound like sound strategies. His strength as a great warrior is certainly true, but it is the great men among him such as Odysseus that make him successful. He gets good advice to have everyone in his army to fight by clan but I feel if he was a great leader he would have already known that himself. Agamemnon’s character flaw is his deep arrogance and inability to listen to reason. By taking the daughter of a priest he angers Apollo who unleashes a plague upon his army. He walks around wondering, why are these bad things happening, which is laughable since he caused them. When it is strongly suggested he return her in exchange for three to four times to the gift, he refuses. Is Agamemnon doomed (I mean he is cursed) to be simply a huge jerk or as the story develops will we see him develop as a character? I feel he will stay a jerk (to put it nicely) but although he is angry, his anger and that of other mortals is small compared to that of the gods.

On the very first page, the rage of Achilles is brought up. The anger of mortals, but also gods or God is crucial to the development of plots in The Iliad as well as the Bible. As a class we considered God’s motivation in the Old Testament, the Sumerian gods in Inanna, and the Greek gods we become familiar with in The Iliad. I see anger or rage playing a huge role for both the mortals and the gods within the Iliad. Anger is an important emotion that the various gods have because it creates action. When God is content, the Old Testament isn’t very dynamic. But when God is angry or in a scheming mood, many things happen and evolve in the mortal world. In the world of the Greek gods, because there are many of them they can anger each other. Their relationship with different mortals complicates things further. For example, when things are working out for some of the gods, another god, Aphrodite rescues Paris. This disrupts things for mortals, while demonstrating that the Greek gods take sides. It’s also notable that everyone hates Paris, even his own brother. Thus, having one God disrupting things is difficult for the people of the Old Testament. But having many gods with scheming, self-serving agendas and relationships with mortals is an entirely different situation. Anger turns the plot in The Iliad in remarkable directions, while contentment amongst the gods brings a stop to action. Contentment brings boredom to the Greek gods. Then the cycle of scheming and doing something to cause rage stirs the pot further potentially starting or making current wars worse in the mortal world.  The concept of violence and war is prevalent in The Iliad. It is a warlike atmosphere and it is seen as glorious to fight, judging by the language Homer uses. It is discussed in The Iliad to kill Agamemnon very early on but then it is decided to not do that. Is it about glory and honor that war is seen in a positive light? Or is the anger of mortals and gods an excuse for wars and much bloodshed?

Another man of war, Achilles who is doomed to have the shortest life span is also examined. We discussed how Achilles’ father was almost Zeus, so his “rage” and behavior may correspond with the fact of missed potential. There is not a question that Achilles is a great warrior and as a result he and Agamemnon have a huge verbal fight where Achilles says he isn’t going to take orders from Agamemnon anymore. There is a power struggle because Achilles must give up his prize, a woman, to Agamemnon. It’s interesting that within the same side (in terms of the war) such differences appear. I see Achilles as blinded by rage, but then weeping after giving up his prize. Why doesn’t Achilles just keep the prize? This seems to show that although he said he is not obeying Agamemnon, he must still listen to him. This power struggle is fascinating, and it is interesting to compare that to the power struggle between Helen and Aphrodite.

After Aphrodite snatches Paris from death, she goes to find Helen and wants her to surrender herself to Paris. Helen does not want this, because being captured was enough and she refuses to have sex with Paris ever again. Aphrodite threatens her with intense words and she submits herself. In this scene, Helen loses the agency she had and it will be interesting as the story unfolds to see how Helen behaves in the future.  The power struggle here is different because Aphrodite is a goddess, but Helen has such terrible beauty that a war started over her. Perhaps Aphrodite wishes to knock Helen down since Helen is receiving so much attention. Through all the power struggles in the text, it will be interesting to see how the progression of the characters continues, and how the gods interfering cause the course of events to shift even more.

The “Jewels” of Judgment: Reading Lolita in Tehran

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In the midst of daily talks about terror threats in our everyday lives, comes a story about an Iranian woman, Dr. Azar Nafisi, who is the heart of the story Reading Lolita in Tehran. Through an informal, sarcastic tone maintained throughout this book, a series of accounts from her troubled life in the Islamic republic frequently boil to the surface. Although politics is something that Dr. Azar Nafisi herself acknowledged as corrupt, she never seemed prepared for the utter and immediate toll it took upon her friends and people she knew such as her father, who was persecuted under the vindictive regime. Despite refusing to wear the veil that caused her to lose her job, she came in greater contact with her emotions. Using these new unexpected passions Dr. Azar Nafisi formed a secret group of students who were bound together through their vigorous studies of fiction.

In the exuberance of the novel, two types of characters emerge. The characters are those within the book and those fictional characters within the novels. The personalities are as diverse as the four seasons. Nima, Nassrin, Manna, Mahsid, Yassi, Azin, Mitra, and Sanaz are to me like the members of a secret “breakfast club”. They do not meet for breakfast per say but their explosive personalities and comments and well as their beliefs about the regime forever change their teacher (Dr. Azar Nafisi) and themselves. Sanaz has a need for approval. Nima, the sole male, wanting very much to get into the club displays a new way of male behavior. Yassi confesses that an uncle molested her, however Nima seems to be of a different generation; one which respects women. Mahsid does not make it to the end. Each girl had something to bring to their meetings. An experience, a comment, a vision that the others used to get through these hard times.

However it is not their individual personalities but common struggles that unite them as one. Some were jailed for bogus charges like make-up on, running, and some talked of being reprimanded for “eating their apples too seductively”. This novel is another demonstration of the way in which women are oppressed through out history even in the 1980’s and 90’s. Using Lolita, The Great Gatsby, and Jane Austen novels Nafisi teaches the students of Western heroines and how their oppression relates to that of Islamic women. For example the antagonist Humbert brainwashes, kidnaps, and manipulates Lolita to satiate his sick fantasies. This is something that makes the book particularly amazing; that she makes these meetings with her students and the degree that she can relate literature of the Western world to her own world. Gatsby is someone in love with a girl he will always love, but one he can never have. Myrtle the adulterous one is a character questioned in the book. In Pride and Prejudice discussions, it would seem some girls dream to fall in love. For exposing these truths Nafisi should be praised. She is an amazing, eclectic individual who should be celebrated for her stubborn resolve to not allow the government who she is.

Nafisi also has the awful facts that surround her daily life. Daily reminders like bombs in the night. She recalls things, like her mother always being disappointed with her behavior, for Azin recognizes that she never lived up to her mother’s plans. Also, her father was the mayor and he was assassinated. Through her frightening experiences relating to the law (the bombings and constant raids in her daily life), she shares not only a knowledge of facts from being an honored professor, but a solid character of what fiction can be identified with.  Her strong beliefs she instilled within her and her comrades evoked this idea of neglecting the grave side of society and focusing on the magnificent parts of life: “… life could be transformed into a jewel through the magic eye of fiction” (Nafisi 3). People in Iran were taught to resent Western culture yet she did not. Nafisi is actually like many of her heroines, courageous beyond belief. Gatsby and Lolita are two quite different perspectives which Nafisi presents in a light of hope. Although in fiction both Gatsby and Lolita suffer unimaginable sorrow, in reality Azar evolves a candle of hope that does not vanish because of obstacles; in fact she becomes more resolute.

If not hope, then an understanding of suffering and unspoken empathy is what Nafisi attempts to project out into the world. Although her “magician” hid in the world, she did not. Sure, she hid in her apartment flat with her students but they were open with one another and shared deep reflections about the troubles they, as women felt and addressed to the professor which bound them closer. By having this almost secret society she grasps the true meanings of fiction. Occasionally, Nafisi diverts many of the problems surrounding the regime into a question of identity; she preached at first unintentionally the more profound ideas that would not soon be forgotten by any of her fellow students. Soon, they all found that they shared the same thoughts about woman’s declining role in society and it sickened them. Setting the stage for many of them would be an event much later in the memoir that left a lasting impression – the author’s moving to America.

Nafisi talks of the enormous changes, of all the things she left in Iran: the danger, the men pursuing her and mostly importantly the veil, which once represented devotion, but now a represented entrapment. She was like the Rosa Lee Parks of Iran saying, No I will not wear the veil. It is what got her fired, but also into that secret class and discovering a life that she had to smuggle. She had to smuggle happiness and her move to the states was a decision that made it seem as though she were abandoning her students.

Betrayal and dismay are two key feelings that many of her students voiced, but mentally Nafisi could not force herself to stay in this unstable lifestyle. Her thorough studies of fiction have led her to discover how beautiful life can be if you only give it a chance. This “chance” simply could not be accomplished if she stayed in a place that did not free her spiritually. As someone who cherished and loved fiction as much as she does, the coming to America was a closure that she recognized would not erase the painful memories she had to bear. The fact that she would no longer allow herself to become immersed in them was something incredible to undertake, something many people today can take with them. Learning of her story can inspire a hope in even the most desperate situations to climb out of your hole of apprehension into exuberance!

This book is truly a gem that sparkles in the night. The brilliant combination of fiction overlapping reality and the compelling stories of the oppression of women really make one think. Our author, a brilliant wonderful teacher annexed from the University of Tehran for not agreeing to wear the veil was a landmark event. It withstands the sands of time and is truly a testimonial to someone who looks fear in the eyes and said, no I am not allowing myself to be the government’s puppet. So to sum it all up, Nafisi never quite lived up to her mother’s expectations; she towered over them. It is fantastic to say that she was brilliant. However it is the girls she taught in secret whose resilience left the reader in shock. For the Middle East and Iran are worlds foreign to us. We, the spoiled, they the suffering, something this book outlines quite well. This book encompasses detail and memories and draws them into a one of a kind story.

 

The Ice Inside your Soul

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When the civil rights movement was under way one woman, Rosa Lee Parks, was doing something she found to be a normal and necessary part of her day- riding the local bus. In the same way that William Palmer found going to the church in Russia to be normal and furthermore necessary in his journey, she went along her day until something changed it and her life forever. Rosa Lee is remembered and known by so many people as someone who started the fuel behind the civil rights movement. She was asked to give up her seat on the bus because of the color of her skin and rightfully so in those times, for African Americans were not allowed to sit in the front of the bus. By taking a stand, she perhaps did not realize that what she was doing what an existential visit of her mind and thereby subconsciously as well as literally saying “I count as a human being as much as anyone else on this darn bus and my being black has nothing to do with the way you behave towards me”.  It is difficult to imagine that someone would have to question who they are in such a profound manner because of the ignorance of others. It is perhaps shocking for us in the 21st century to think that just because of skin color one would be shunned, displaced, and furthermore considered less a person than anyone else. On this Earth we as humans do not have to like one another, but we do have to respect one another in order for the world to not fall into utter chaos. It is such a tiny thing to ask for but in the case of the civil rights movement, people were swept away by the simple color of one’s skin as thus had bitter, black hearts when it came to African Americans. To this day racism thrives in the minds of the ignorant, who fear others that are different than them. William Palmer was also disliked (though  not on the same scale) because he was Catholic was denied communion and through themes of religion discussed the profound effect that had upon him.

The diction of this essay is quite formal with sentences such as “George Horsley Palmer, and Archdeacon Palmer of Oxford, was one of those earnest-minded and devout men, forty years since, who, deeply convinced of the great truth that our Lord had instituted, and still acknowledges and protects, a visible Church—one, individual, and integral—Catholic, as spread over the earth.” (Newman). The words “earnest-minded and devout men” are only a sample of the formal diction that goes on throughout this essay. The essay is one about attempting to join churches so it makes perfect sense that the form would be an essay that Cardinal Newman wrote about William Palmer and his epic journey to Russia. Palmer discovers the Russians resistance and utter despising of him and his methods. It is an essay displaying what a down to earth honestly good human being Palmer is and how one piece of you does not make up your entire identity although the Russians felt that if you were Catholic you were not one of them.

“How Mr. Palmer’s appeal for such recognition of our “Anglo-Catholicism” was met by the ecclesiastical authorities of Petersburg is the main {viii} subject of this volume,” (Newman) is the content of this essay. In the way that Rosa Lee Parks was met by opposition Palmer was denied communion, which is the most sacred part of mass. He wants desperately to be recognized by the church however the Russians say “We know nothing about Unity, nothing about Catholicity; it is no term of ours; it had indeed a meaning once, it has {x} none now. Our Church is not Catholic, it is Holy and Orthodox; also”(Newman) … They are completely serious in their convictions and beliefs that not only will they deny him communion, but never will the two churches have even a faint chance of being united for they know nothing about unity. Their stubbornness is understandable but the way in which they receive Mr. Palmer is unacceptable and cold. They treat him horrible and our author cannot help himself but gush over what a wonderful person Mr. Palmer is.  The tone is straight forward explaining to us about Mr. Palmer troubles.

It is an intricate, complex topic and it is one that is always met with resistance. One’s sexual orientation, skin color, or religion are often brought into question and I believe that the things that people cause us to consider to change about ourselves is often the most interesting thing about of you. In life we are plagued by people daily who are trying to change that interesting part or part that makes us unique and stand out from the pack. Newman eloquently describes it as “at least part of that ancient teaching which they so proudly claimed as their own peculiar prerogative.” In the end I would say to them, “Who do you think you are? Running around leaving scars? Collecting your jar of hearts? You’re going to catch a cold from the ice inside your soul.” This line from a popular song by Christina Perri illustrates my point beautifully. Those in the Russian church, or even those attempting to stop Rosa Lee from getting her seat on the bus are going to do just that, catch a cold from all the negatively that they are spreading. Cardinal Newman and William Palmer understood that it was in fact too much to ask those individuals to change what is in their souls. However, they did become friends and “In consequence of this mutual good understanding, Mr. Palmer made many friends in Russia, and had no reason to regret his going there. He liked the people and country, and returned there again and again;” So really, despite the differences the theme here although the church could not be unified is unity of people.

A death not in Vain: Analysis of Where are you going, where have you been?

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From Jesus dying on the cross thousands of years ago to more modern examples such as a teacher at Virginia Tech shielding students from a wave of bullets, history has been filled with self-sacrifice. In these acts, one forgets their needs and even in the case of Jesus and the teacher loses their life, not because it is wasted but rather sacrificed for a greater cause. People who are truly kings among men both in fiction and the real world, for they are people who find the courage to put themselves in harm’s way to save someone else whether they knew them or not. In Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where are you Going Where Have you Been?” this particular idea of self-sacrifice is explored through Connie, a fifteen year old in her own little world who gives up her innocence and life to save her family. Joyce Carol Oates was born June 16, 1938, in Lockport, New York (Contemporary Authors Online para. 2). After writing her first novel at fifteen she went to Syracuse University on a scholarship where she began what has been a long extensive career as a writer (Contemporary Authors Online para. 2). “The following year she earned a master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin and married Raymond Smith, a former English professor” ( Contemporary Authors Online para. 3).  She has earned numerous awards including the O. Henry Special Award as well as the  American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, Richard and Hinda Foundation Award, American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, the Boston Book Review Fisk Fiction Award, and the first award which set it all off the Mademoiselle College Fiction Contest  ( Honors and Awards). She has two grown children and teaches at Princeton University to this day (Contemporary Authors Online para. 4.). In 1963 she wrote one of her masterpieces, “Where are you Going Where Have you Been?”, a story about Connie which begins like an ordinary story but sure does not end that way. Connie is your classic fifteen year old who twirls her hair daydreaming about love with a typical family of that time. She makes a decision to stay home from a picnic and comes face to face with a choice after an unexpected guest, ironically Arnold “Friend”, comes to her house. He begins seducing and harassing her until she ultimately submits herself to him in an effort to save her family.  In Oates’, “Where are you Going Where Have you Been?”, Connie’s sacrifice and ultimate martyrdom in the hands of Arnold Friend can be compared to Joan of Arc and her innocence and fight for Christianity which also leads to her death.

The hero of the story Connie surprisingly is not your typical candidate for a martyr. A martyr by default has characteristics of being caring, giving, loving, self-less, intelligent, and destined. Our title character seems anything but any of these things especially destined. Our story begins with Connie’s description and we immediately see her innocence and self-absorbed character contrary to that of a martyr who would be self-less and giving. “…she knew she was pretty and that was everything” (Oates para. 1). She is without a doubt someone who is not likely to play the role of a martyr because she is just not of that strong a character for she cannot care about others. In fact, she could care less about her parents whom she ultimately saves. Her dad just comes home, reads the paper, and completely ignores Connie (Oates para. 3). He is not making the effort but then neither is Connie. As for her mother, Connie herself says she wishes she was dead (Oates para. 3). Although that may not be meant to be taken seriously, it shows us that Connie is distant from her parents and does not seem to have a reason to save them or her sister June. She constantly makes fun of and laughs at how June is a 24 year old who does not know what she is doing observing this: “…and in the back seat was poor old June, all dressed up as if she didn’t know what a barbeque was, with all the running yelling kids and the flies” (Oates para. 9). This shows that Connie thinks her sister is basically one big joke. Korb argues “she is suffering not from a malicious desire to be cruel, but merely from romantic delusions in her search for a ‘sweet, gentle love’ the way it was in movies and promised in songs” (para. 5). In this desire, she is just your average teenage and not capable of anything extraordinary. Therefore, Connie clearly needs to make some changes to live up to this title as a martyr.

Furthermore, when the car pulls up and Arnold Friend comes out all Connie seems to care about is her appearance (Oates para. 12) for Connie sees only one thing and that is herself, not realizing the danger coming her way. This is a key reason why she does not seem like a candidate for a martyr. In fact, it is not until nearly the end where we see her desperation force her to come to a realization, an epiphany which turns the story. At this point, Arnold has gone from just asking her to come with him, to making sexual references, and then threatening her directly. Oates scares us and Connie with these few simple words “Promise not to come in unless you touch that phone, and I’ll keep that promise” (para.113). The tension continues to build up but it is when Connie’s family gets directly threatened that Connie really gets petrified. Oates keeps the tension high for after going in the house and initially deciding to call the police, Connie in agony puts down the phone almost as if to signal a shift in not only the story but her individual character (para 123-124). Hence the epiphany previously mentioned; Connie morphs. When she comes outside she gives in to Arnold’s demands, the fiend gets his way. If Connie is a martyr for a cause and Arnold is this cruel, unforgiving, creepy man that perhaps he represents the evil that Connie has chosen to fight. Connie could just as easily have waited for her family to come, or even called the police. There are in fact numerous courses of action that Connie could have potentially taken. Like a true sacrificial person she willingly gives herself up and that is where the shift of character truly shows.

On a completely different note, the patron Saint Joan of Arc exhibits the common traits of a sufferer for a cause. She by contrast is religious, intellectual, hardworking, and most importantly destined. At age thirteen she begins to hear voices, supposedly from Saint Michael, about fighting for the French (U X L Biographies para. 6). She goes to the King to be the commander of the French army without hesitation. Joan of Arc then fights in the battle of Aquitaine and brings a huge victory for France. She is a brilliant leader and truly seems heaven sent. All this seems too good to be true, and it is as the tide turns on Joan and she is tried as a witch, surrendering to the King (U X L Biographies para. 7). She is imprisoned, lied to, and kept there until her trial and wears her armor as a sign of rebellion while in prison. Joan of Arc had no way out, but although she could have resisted she gave into the kings demands and was burned at the stake for being a witch. There was so much she could have done, for example running away or fighting until the very end but she ended her life on a quiet note, until her ultimate end. Only later was it recognized that she really was divinely sent and a martyr. Therefore in 1920 Joan of Arc became a saint (U X L Biographies para. 11). Joan truly was a story book version of what a good martyr should be.

Consequently, Joan’s actions of attempting to rescue her mother country France end up being her demise. By scrutinizing her life one thing stands out and that is she did not need to die, it is perhaps best stated in Romans 5:6, “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for our sins.” Joan of Arc came at the precise time that the French really needed her and by doing so only received punishment which she agreed to. Although everyone wanted her burned at the stake, they clearly forgot all that she did for the country of France. Like a true martyr, she despite the faults people might have had, was ready and willing to die for her country. Joan takes on the true characteristics of a martyr by symbolizing change and sacrifice in an unforgiving world. It looks like other options were not even considered. She knew what she needed to do which was to take a stand for her morals and if that meant death so be it.

Although Connie may seem unqualified to be sacrificial she and Joan of Arc have much in common that sets them apart as martyrs for a cause. In one corner we have Connie. She is our outsider but really pulls through at the end. Arnold Friend is evil and testing her by trying to lure her to his car, a passage to Connie’s death. She goes not because she wants to, but because she wants to save her family from the same fate she is about to endure. At the beginning, we would not even think it was the same Connie but at the end she does a 180 and completely surprises the audience with her self-less act. Similarly, Joan of Arc, although she was more likely, gives up her life for Christianity and her country of France. Charles giving Joan a suit of white gold which resembles the gold lettering on Arnold Friend’s car. Both colors seem dazzling and inviting at first but the armor betrays Joan and the car is just a part of the evil that is Arnold Friend. The enemy in both cases has these fancy things to offer but in the end they turn out to do nothing towards the causes of saving either of our heroines’ lives. Also, similar was the fact that there was no one there to rescue them. In Connie’s case she is out in a rural area with no way to signal for help, while Joan of Arc is in prison and worse off because even though there are people all around no one will defend her. Finally, and mostly importantly their contributions were only recognized once they were gone. Connie through out the story is thought of as a brat and Joan of Arc worse yet as a witch. It is only after they sacrifice themselves do we realize what a contribution they have made. Through their valiancy,  they at the young ages of seventeen and fifteen, conquered fear and paid willingly with the biggest most precious sacrifice of all – their lives.

We can now see how both our heroes conquered evil for a greater good. In Oates’ “Where are you Going Where Have you Been?” Connie transforms from this bratty pest who thinks about shallow things to a young woman defending her family like Joan of Arc who sacrifices her life for a greater cause as well, Christianity. These two adolescent girls are both extremely young but they are clearly chosen to do some good in the world, even if that means death. Connie is not Jesus or even Joan of Arc. She is like you and me, ordinary. She does not fight into battle against the English or burn at the stake for her actions.  In fact, She lacks many qualities we look for in our everyday hero, how ever overrated that may be it is the truth. Her actions however are unmistakably unique and self-less. She manifests in herself traits she does not show in the surface; she goes from being a nobody to being a somebody, somebody worthy of your time to discuss. She is someone that is now worthy of picking apart and discovering why she gave herself up that quickly. She saw the option if she stayed. Knowing the consequences would be grim, something greater than herself burst inside her. That something was what Joan of Arc had inside herself as well – wisdom, and it is this wisdom that these two young heroes who are polar opposites share in the end that saves more than one life.

The Tempest …thoughts

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Act 1- Act 3 of the Tempest I realize that this is unlike the other plays we have read and in a good way. Not that the other plays weren’t enjoyable, this play just had so many unique layers that I liked peeling apart and seeing what would come next. I really like the many dimensions of Prospero and see the perception of him change throughout the play. Wizard and loving father are two hats interesting he wears that I really like and enjoy watching develop through the first three acts.  He must think of how to regain power that has been usurped by his own brother (an annoying theme in many plays) while still keeping his daughter in mind. This is complex because he must make sure his daughter is raised properly given where they are, while still using magic to control whatever he wishes starting with the name of the play, the Tempest, or the storm he creates that Miranda begs him to get rid of because it is frightening.

I love the act of crashing a ship on this island so he can plot a way to fix his problems but at first that concerned me that a seemingly evil man has a young daughter. (No one was harmed so it is ok. If there were deaths because of the crash I would feel much differently.) I also adore the idea of being secluded from much of the world. It creates a certain mood through the novel and I think Shakespeare does this to create a land like this island where Prospero can perform his magic and it is more accepted because of the tone.

There is this concept of white magic and black magic. Something that is not addressed but is very important is that both light and dark magic can be used for wrong such as when Prospero tortures Caliban. However, when I discovered that Prospero wanted good for Miranda when she falls head over heels in love with Ferdinand I knew he was not the evil man he was portrayed to be in the beginning of the story. I also think it is an interesting concept that Miranda had never seen another man before Ferdinand. Also, I do not like how Prospero treats Caliban and Ariel. He threatened Ariel with twelve years of being in a tree when the floating figure asks for freedom. It is sad that Prospero is such a kind, tender, and loving father but he treats others with cruelty. I understand the colonial ideas thrown out by Shakespeare but it creates a character that swings between kind and cruel and I do not care for it one bit. Caliban and Prospero have a complicated relationship because he claims the island belonged to him because it was left to him by Sycorax. And Prospero took the island and tricked him with kindness and now is his slave. Caliban does not make himself very likeable. Finally, despite the gender implications of not allowing Miranda to work, I really enjoyed the little back and forth between Miranda and Ferdinand. I thought it was cute and a break from all the serious topics going on around them.

Freud’s False Facts

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Many times while explaining something of great importance to another person, we don’t realize that we are being biased or allowing thoughts that are our own to corrupt and the truth of the work is thus changed in the minds of others. In this way, we are negatively affecting our audience and distorting their thoughts and minds. For example, when reading The Bible you can explain it as God’s literal teachings or as mere stories, depending on your religion and beliefs. That is not distorting people minds but giving viewpoints and options for people to take in. Taking the stories and construing a negative meaning is wrong, such as when people turn The Bible into a vehicle to explain and excuse their hatred towards the gay community, claiming God hates them and spewing false truths. It is a particular problem because certain people are using The Bible to perpetuate hate in the same way that Sigmund Freud takes “Femininity” and “Female Sexuality” and creates something completely inaccurate. It is particularly grotesque that something meant to be spiritual as The Bible turns so cruel because of human interpretation. Sigmund Freud does something quite similar with his alleged research and observation in “Female Sexuality” and “Femininity”. He uses these works to just chisel away at women’s image using bizarre theories he himself claims he cannot prove. One might read these passages and say he is merely being phallocentric. An argument can be made for either Freud being phallocentric or purely sexist. However, Sigmund Freud exploited people’s somewhat gullible nature when much wasn’t known about the theories behind female sexuality in such a manner as he provides. One may come to the conclusion that he is sexist. Another may come to the conclusion that Freud is merely using phallocentric opinions. It can be misconstrued that Freud has a strong male perspective, that his comments about woman one finds offensive are just a male’s viewpoint. However through numerous examples in these two articles alone, Freud gives one enough ammunition to prove his is extremely sexist as well as phallocentric. In “Female Sexuality” he claims the woman to be inferior on the mere fact that she does not have a penis and how this causes angst through her entire life. There is never shown the other side of this paradigm, where a woman has a different sexual construction and that alone does not make her inferior. It is this difference as one example that points at Freud’s sexism.  When all the information is set and truly put under the microscope, sexism as well as phallocentricism is the clear way that Freud takes us into his mind through a series of essays, full of false convoluted conclusions. Phallocentric implies emphasizing the male view point which he does do and at the expense of all females. Through use of language, instilling fear in women and creating false truths about penis envy, and discrediting successful women Freud develops deeply flawed and unbelievably sexist statements that baffle the reader and are not constructive in any way.

Before specific examples are given, simply by reading Freud’s phrasing and language you can easily see phallocentric and furthermore sexist, which is exactly what Freud is. He makes these little snide comments that especially to a woman come off so rude and insensitive. It is his bold yet ignorant use of language that gets him in deep water with the female reader and hopefully the male as well. At first, this language can be taken as phallocentric, but when further investigations are made one realizes that he is sexist as well as phallocentric. The “atrophied penis” is a term implying that the penis is better somehow. All the adjectives he uses are really not only phallocentric but lend strongly towards sexist. The phrase “a boy’s far superior equipment” (Femininity 157) is one troubling instance of not only language but a bold claim lacking support. Furthermore, these almost cruel digs do not even help procure a valid argument for Freud. He comes off as actually less intelligent because of these jabs at women. One such comment, “There is another, far more specific motive for the turning point away from the mother, arising out of the effect of the castration complex on the little creature without a penis.” (Female Sexuality 4) Reading that, one starts losing faith in Freud because women are now subhuman by being calling creatures. This is dehumanizing and it only gets subsequently worse when Freud describes the young girl as being angry at her mother for not giving her the “proper genitals”. This strikes deeply as extremely sexist because according to Freud the proper genitals to have are clearly male. Women are just as important in society and gentially speaking if not for a woman, children could not be born and Freud’s beloved penis could not come on to this Earth because the female has to literally produce it. It is absurd to just say that the male genital is the proper one with even giving a proper conclusion as to why.  This is a huge belief for a phallocentric mindset and Freud highlights it quite well in this example. He does not have valid research and the observations he claims to have made are absurd, for such subtlies cannot be accurately observed.  Although that might further convey the sexism, Freud seems to make a lot of sexist generalizations but not explain why they are such. There is one example where he is to an extent using deeper analytical thought but arrives at a conclusion he cannot possibly prove. This is this notion that “girls hold their mother responsible for their lack of a penis” (Femininity 154) that one cannot prove. This was not studied because this notion cannot be studied, and this shows phallocentricism but also Freud being sexist and a misogynist. Many of these arguments seem to be what he believes and not what he claims to have observed which is unfair to say if truly it cannot be observed.

Sigmund Freud writes his arguments in a way that is cause for actual fear among women if we truly underwent and subscribed to these theories he has. Many of his “observations” something I must place in quotes because it is not valid to claim the complex sexual development of especially very young children could be observed. This concept mentioned on multiple pages of a women or young girl, depending on what stage he refers to is at a disadvantage is completely unfair because he is the one creating these extra steps in the sexual maturation process that a girl needs to go through. The man seems to have his sexuality as explained through the Oedipus complex wrapped up in a nice little bow. Giving this sense of worry to the women is very sexism, as if we really are so defined by our lack of a penis. Why is it that the woman must go through this struggle of sexual confusion and inadequacy? It makes for a lack of balance and a lack of understanding when the woman is constantly being belittled and attacked and furthermore takes a direct hit at Freud’s credibility. This brings us to the notion of penis-envy something Freud is quite confident about to an obnoxious degree. It is repulsive to think that once a girl discovers a penis on her father, she does not have one and laments this through her entire life even in her subconscious until she bores a baby boy, whom she considers to have fulfilled her ultimate dreams (Femininity 159) which is sickening that through having a child with a penis her own dreams have come true. Why do women need to be defined and furthermore crushed by the notion that they do not have a penis? Freud never gives a starting point for this argument that makes sense. The previous mentioned moment when a girl sees a penis on her father is not a captivating argument for this soul-crushing feeling Freud goes on to claim.  According to Freud, it is in these loosely based arguments. It is offensive and very cocky for Freud to think that a woman’s whole life is spent wanting a penis. As previously stating women provide sex organs crucial for conceiving a child something Freud omits from his theories. It is not the male perspective about female that is bothersome. It is the complete and utter disregard for the woman and furthermore for the truth that one can so clearly establish is not only Freud being phallocentric but Freud stating awful things and furthermore not able to back them up other than to say these are his observations. Can Freud really understand what is going on in a child’s mind or even an adult? One can go as far to say that his general way of thinking and “researching” is deeply flawed and attempting to prove anything in the fashion he tries to attempt this complex concept will end with a bad result in addition to the phallocentric and sexist notions he places throughout his essays.

Lastly, Freud claims something that are purely his beliefs not those of his alleged studies. In the four step process of a woman’s sexual maturation Freud mentions many things, none of which have any basis in reality. Freud states “the development of a little girl in a normal woman is more difficult and more complicated since it includes two extra tasks” (Femininity 147) and he goes on to explain them in such a way that is puzzling and illogical. The two extra tasks are a girl switching her “love object” from her mother to her father and her erogenous zone from her clitoris to her vagina. What is never put into light is why these things are even necessary or make any sense. Why doesn’t the boy need extra stages? This seems to imply the boy’s stages are better and more complete.  What is worse in when Freud claims that things can go awry in the maturation of these two stages and one of the most puzzling is a woman getting an education being a failure in her quest to “femininity” by saying that “a capacity for instance, to carry on an intellectual profession- may often be recognized as a sublimated modification of this wish” (Femininity 155). This is incredibly unbelievable that an educated woman did not grow correctly sexually and thus chose education as a way to compensate for the fact that they are lacking a penis. Why are those things linked? In today’s world many, many women are well educated but have still developed sexually. It can actually be argued that lack of education and knowledge can negatively impact a young girl’s sexual journey so just the opposite of what Freud claims is true. It appears that Freud has taken the liberty of the most blunt and outright sexism and placed it here. One could make a clear argument against Freud but he shoots himself in the foot by claiming to be defenseless. (Female Sexuality 6) He is defenseless for his claims are extremely sexist because it is the woman that has something wrong with her and this maturation theory cannot be proved because it is the loose theory in the mind of a twisted man through being phallocentric finds nothing wrong with the young male’s development.

In conclusion, Freud tries with vigor to explain female sexuality and femininity but succeeds in offending us and leaves us to question deeply the true value of the research he claims to have done and the observations that would be so crucial if they were feasible. He is using these little digs at women that are so incredibly sexist as well as phallocentric. His language alone is enough to say that hey, this Freud fellow is a complete misogynist! Phallocentric is a part of who Freud is. Also through his flawed theory of penis envy as well as claiming a woman’s education means something went awry in sexual development just are crazy for all the aforementioned reasons. Freud took on a concept with a deeply flawed bias. He was about to create many theories but ones people of the general public should be able to see past because he is just incorrect through everything I have previously explained. Furthermore, it is unfair that men get this preferential treatment while women are at the mercy of whatever sick theories Freud has to offer.