Twisted Governments, Characters, and Intentions: The Tempest

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We began our talk of The Tempest with some much needed plot clarification as this is one convoluted story. Prospero (the rightful Duke of Milan), Miranda (his daughter), Caliban (his slave) and Ariel (a spirit he freed, also a slave) have been together on this uninhabited island for 12 years or so. Prospero and his daughter were shipwrecked here, but don’t seem to have intentions to leave which we discussed in class as a bizarre choice. Caliban was born on the island to the witch Sycorax, who was sentenced to death but couldn’t be executed because she was pregnant. So she was exiled to the island. Antonio (Prospero’s brother) and his gang of ignorant misfits are now shipwrecked on the island as well, thanks to Prospero’s magic. The final plot point I would like to make is Antonio usurped his brother Prospero as the Duke of Milan, and Prospero left the situation only to be marooned on this island and now is seeking revenge.

We hit a range of topics regarding the story and its characters. In this protokoll, I would like to discuss the three kinds of government that are found on this island and the notion of a hierarchy. Government and politics is something we cannot get away from, even in a story of a shipwreck on an inhabited island. This was something I did not see right away but was appreciative that it was brought to the attention of the class. I would also like to discuss Miranda’s role in this play and the power dynamics that exist between Prospero and his slaves. It is interesting to see how Ariel wants more agency and to be completely free, while Caliban is fine with just having a new master.

The idea of a hierarchy on the island is an interesting one I would like to explore as I believe it is Shakespeare demonstrating that even in a dire situation people will perhaps try to work together, but struggle or even manipulate others to achieve power. All of our readings so far have had this theme of a hierarchy being created. In Arabian Nights, the hierarchy was of the royals and their subjects as well and men and women, but women had a way of finding power in an unexpected way. In The Canterbury Tales, the author harshly judged many of the characters, but we could also create a hierarchy in that text of the different professions and beyond that the gender dynamics were something we explored at length. Women and their strength was also an interesting point in these tales. In The Treasure of the City of Ladies as well as The Battle over Free Will, God is at the top of the hierarchy. In The Treasure of the City of Ladies a hierarchy of women is created as Pizan addresses women from all walks of life, giving them life advice while ranking them in the process. All these texts mentioned had a lot of people in mind regarding the hierarchy that was established so I ask, who is there to even rule on this island?

In terms of ruling people, Machiavelli had very forceful points about how to rule, but the way that Antonio talks isn’t reminiscent of a thirsty power grab. He already achieved that by throwing his brother from his rightful place. It feels more like a sense of entitlement and pretentiousness that propels his discussion and that of his gang what kind of power they will gain while on this island. The three types of government that were brought to light were: Machiavellian – Stephano with his wine, hedonism – Gonzalo with power politics, and Prospero with restoring the kingdom through marriage. Is the idea of creating this system easier because they can start fresh and build upon it due to the lack of people here? From this question I think of the process of colonization due to Prospero wanting control of the spirit and the person that was there before he was. The two that must suffer as a result are Caliban and Ariel, although interestingly, only Ariel seeks freedom.

Caliban and Ariel are the two (person and spirit) that were there previously to Prospero. It seems very unjust to automatically wish to enslave people or spirits upon arriving at a new place. Through history, we see this behavior of conquering, so while unjust it is not surprising. In class, there was talk of the defiance of both Caliban and Ariel in subtle ways but I do not see that happening in this play. While they can push against their master, they must ultimately submit to his wishes. There are two different people here to consider and they want different things from their lives. Caliban is disobedient to Prospero but when Antonio and his gang appear, Caliban seems oddly willing to having some new masters that aren’t any better than Prospero. Ariel, in contrast, was freed from a tree that Sycorax locked him in, and Prospero is really milking that situation unfairly. Ariel wants true freedom but Prospero wants Ariel to continue doing tasks for him and reminds Ariel how he freed him. Another point to consider is that both the slaves are grateful to the master, one for all he learned from Prospero, and the other for being freed. As the story unfolds, we will see how these two characters develop further and we shall see about Caliban’s ridiculous idea to attack Prospero with his new masters. Another character connected to Prospero is his daughter, Miranda.

Miranda is the only female character we encounter and she is intriguing. She is Prospero’s daughter but she seems to have a sense of strength about her. She is inquisitive and curious about what brought her and her father to this island. She is the first to speak in the play before her father, and I wondered if that had any significance in the play or if it was an arbitrary fact that I noticed. Miranda could have developed far more as a character, but upon seeing Ferdinand the only man she had ever seen in her life, she becomes overwhelmed with love and he does as well. I wonder if her father is creating this forbidden love story so they fall more in love is to help her, or if it is his way of maintaining control over her like he does over his slaves. If Ferdinand did not come, I would be curious to see what kind of character Miranda would become. It seems like she was a strong character, until she finds love. Then, she becomes a slave to that love. That concept is particularly interesting because Dido is referred to in the play, and she is a goddess that also was very powerful, until her love for Aeanus and his abandonment of her destroyed her in The Aeneid. Hopefully, there is a happier ending for Miranda. Given this is a Shakespearean comedy I have a hunch that things will work out just fine for Miranda. It seems to be a running theme that when a woman has agency, she loses it, blinded by love. In the conclusion of this play, we have to see what will become of her love and of Caliban’s foolish plan, as well as the building of a hierarchy as the play progresses. What will be the outcome for Prospero’s plans and will Ariel be free? There is a lot to resolve but there are three acts remaining so I have faith Shakespeare will accomplish just that. Perhaps, Miranda will continue to be a strong character despite her new found love.

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Gender Power Dymanics Traced in Two Novels

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Throughout The Rise of Silas Lapham and The Great Gatsby we have strong themes regarding gender both the way the male and female is depicted in these two novels. Woman morph drastically while men continue in this hunt for success, greatness, and status. The curious thing to remember is that these novels are brought to us at different times so the way women are portrayed is drastically different in the two novels. In The Rise of Silas Lapham, the ideal woman is what is desirable at the current times. To stay and tend the house and the child, to not really have a thought of your own, these are traits of the “Ideal Woman”. Irene Lapham has mastered the traits and even cleans up the house when stressed, solidifying her role as “ideal” along with her behavior and most important the way her mind appears to work through interactions with Tom Corey and the nonchalant way she acts but really she is in this dreamy fairy tale in her mind over silly things such a a newspaper that was not actually sent to her. She behaves irrationally and this shows the woman of the 19th century quite clearly.
However, we have an exception in Penelope Lapham who gives a glimpse of the New Woman, found to be better traced later in The Great Gatsby. She is not understood nor accepted at this time in literature by other characters or the world as we know it. She is strongly the opposite of her sister because she displays her views clearly. She reads and articulates her position on things in a witty manner that is found quite charming similar to or even better in some instances than the ladies of The Great Gatsby. She is strong and sticks to her guns, something I value and appreciate. I see a lot of Pen in myself and it makes me smile knowing that a character has the ability to drastically change the course of a novel, without drastically changing who she is. Penelope is ahead of her time, a trailblazer. So this New Woman, who is she and what does she do compared to the Ideal woman of the 19th century?
Well, Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker are two new women. They have opinions about everything under the sun. They do not have to stay in the house and raise children, as women in Silas Lapham were expected to do. In fact, a nurse takes care of Daisy’s daughter, and the women are free to come and go as they please. Scandalous! Jordan is not married and it is not made a big deal in the book at all. It is almost surreal the amount of power they have over their own destiny compared with those woman in Silas Lapham who seem doomed to a fate worse than death- a life without freedom. One curious similarity is that in the upper crust for example the Lapham sisters and Jordan and Daisy sit around doing nothing. They still aren’t accepted to be productive and have a job and contribute which is ironic. The men still hold much of the power although that changes a bit in The Great Gatsby.
It is found that one cannot discuss gender especially the male gender without comparing class as well. Silas Lapham and Jay Gatsby both curiously come from new money. Silas works very hard to build his paint company up from nothing but does not hide his past. Silas is not an actor or performer because he has no desire to hide things and wants to be someone just become a man of status. Although he has the money, more in fact then the Coreys do, he does not have that status nor does he know how to behave in order to reach that status. Old clothes and gaudy paintings are among the items purchased by Silas and his family. Gatsby however, has it figured out down to the tiniest detail. The irony is that Silas has a wife and two children to help him but since they do not know how to act or perform in this upper crust it all eventually collapses. It collapses for Mr. Gatsby as well but for different reasons…
Gatsby is a master of the act or performance of a man of status. Sure, people have all sorts of opinions of him but that is true of the Laphams as well. The Coreys have a questionable opinion of them as well. Back on Gatsby, there is this magnificent house he owns where lavish parties are thrown and people who do not even get a invitation come to bask in the glory that is these parties, experiences where you yourself can put on a performance. His library is real, although never used it is created in such a way that everybody notices, this Gatsby is a man of class. He wears pink suits and drives extremely flashy cars. He pulls it off in a way that Silas Lapham never could. The secret, he has been performing since he was a child, almost preparing for this moment. He has been preparing for being everyone except his real self for so long that it is felt that his real self is lost in translation somehow. Silas was a poor country boy who with a little luck and a lot of elbow grease became rich. He does not act, but rules through shady business practices and a rival paint company that destroy him. So, what can be said about the male race? Well, they are in a constant hunt to be ahead to attain status. The goal is to be somebody but more important to have others believe that you are somebody of value to society. Gatsby achieves that, but the goal behind his performance never comes into fruition. As a man in either novel, you must present a good example for those around and provide for your family. Perhaps Gatsby’s ultimate performance was not one single person really knew him 100%, not even his own father. If he had stopped this delusion he could have lived a happier life and attained a wife and children. He just had to want what he couldn’t have. That was his downfall. In terms of gender, the men in these two novels are extremely opinionated and headstrong. It is the downfall of Silas and Gatsby to be so stubborn. The man must however, protect his nestegg. That is what they tried in vain to do.

Women’s Agency in The Aeneid

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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?

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.

Agency?

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Women frequently appear to be portrayed as being inferior to men in many literary works. This inferior portrayal of women parallels that of the way that women are seen in society. Also the condescending behavior of men and society toward women is portrayed. For example women are paid less then men are for holding the same occupation and accomplishing the same work. Therefore, it is only appropriate that in this time period both of the women’s conclusions in their stories are largely based because of their husband’s treatment and behavior toward them. Neither woman has a say in their lives. In “The Story of an Hour” and in “The Yellow Wallpaper” both women are oppressed, trapped, and misled by their husbands.
In Kate Chopin’s “The Story of An Hour” the protagonist is first informed that her husband had been killed on the train. Many wives would explode with tears and express extreme grief due to the fact that their loved one has passed on. Although the main character “wept at once with sudden wild abandonment in her sister’s arms” she escaped to her room soon after in search of solace to ponder the event that had just struck her life” (Chopin 123). She was facing an open window. The window seemed to be a representation of the endless opportunities of the future for her. It was as if a “delicious breath of rain” had refreshed her outlook, and given her life again (Chopin 123). The main character reflects a state of euphoria that she is now free, “drinking in a very elixir of life through that open window” (Chopin 124). There is no sign that her husband has mistreated her in any way, but the marriage seems to have constrained her in such a way that she could not fully experience life to her satisfaction. This exaltation and revival that occurs shows that she had not had the opportunity to enjoy the passing minutes of her life; she was in some way oppressed and trapped by the “powerful bending hers in that blind persistence” However, this sweet joy was short-lived when opens the door to find her husband standing in the doorway taking off his jacket.

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?