Thursday, April 22, 2010

Making a Movie

If one had the budget, and know-how, I believe the novel "Pudd'n head Wilson" could be the next huge block buster. Ideally, this novel could cause heaps of controversy. In regard to the one drop rule as applied to characters in this novel, choosing actresses and actors would be arduous yet interesting. The viewers could really become surprised at discovering certain characters are not exactly as they seem.

First, I would try to get President Obama in the cast, simply for a little extra press. Next, I would aim to cast Beyonce, Halle Berry, or possibly Gabrielle Union as the star female actress. As for Pudd'n Head Wilson, I think Morgan Freeman or Denzel Washington would be perfect, due to their successful careers and popularity as actors. Finally, casting the two twins would call for some investigating, I would need the perfect complexion as well as a large degree of identical features between the two. Real life twins would be perfect.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Today's class was profoundly interesting, as we watched the silent film "Greed." This film portrays some of the scenes from Frank Norris' novel "McTeague." Throughout the black and white scenes of the movie one notices the presence of color only when viewing gold, or the two canaries. This focus on gold ties directly in with the themes of the novel.

As all things dealing with greed are portrayed with a yellow luminescence in the film, it is no surprise to find that the death valley scene is practically entirely yellow. Notice how McTeague surrounds himself with the yellow sand and heat of the desert. Due to the film "Greed," I was able to draw yet another parallel between McTeague's fate and obsessive qualities.

Because McTeague was obsessed with Trina's 5000 in gold, he went to great lengths to escape his fate. Thus, as he dies in the yellow desert, one may argue that he dies with useless wealth. Furthermore, as the 5000 is wasted in the desert, all things gold may be described as useless in regard to both the novel and the film. This is to say that McTeague, Marcus, and Trina all obsess over a useless cause, and overall, each character dies under the golden glow of greed.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ironic Obsession of Possesion

Frank Norris’ McTeague exhibits the ill effects of obsession with possession. Specifically, Norris’ characters McTeague, Marcus, and Trina all posses strong obsessions with certain possession. In regard to McTeague, one may describe him as being obsessed with two things throughout the novel; Trina, and towards the end, Trina’s gold. In regard to Trina, one may say she too was obsessed with gold. Similar to McTeague, Marcus shows strong feeling of obsession towards Trina at first, and towards the end, towards Trina’s gold.
Marcus, McTeague, and Trina each reach their fates as a direct result of their obsessions with possession. Likewise, each of their respective fates correlate in nature, that is, each dies a grotesque death. Trina is the first to go, being beaten to death by her husband, McTeague. Here, one witnesses the powerful nature of obsession. McTeague and Trina lose control of their humanity, acting in an animalistic fashion. Thus, as Trina could not give up her gold to McTeague he murdered her and took it for himself.
The next character to go is Marcus. Upon confronting McTeague in the desert a fight between the two breaks out, in which McTeague’s water supply is wasted. With no hope of survival, Marcus and McTeague begin to quarrel over Trina’s gold, which was useless to either man in the sweltering heat of the desert. McTeague murders Marcus, although before dying Marcus manages to hand-cuff himself to McTeague. Thus, McTeague condemns himself with the killing of Marcus.
Ironically, not one of Norris’ main characters remains alive. Each of these characters was obsessed with possession, thus, the fact that each dies without possession is ironic. Also, one may find irony in the attachment of McTeague and Marcus in death. Both men were obsessed with possessing Trina, and later Trina’s gold, yet, the only thing these two come to posses is one another, and the heat of the desert. Similarly, Trina’s obsession leads to her demise, and lack of any real possession. Thus, possession is lost through obsession, life is lost with loss of possession. Obsession is all that is left. The world goes on.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

One Drop Rule Applied to "Iola Leroy"

In discussing racism in regard to Francis Harper's "Iola Leroy,"the one drop of African American blood rule comes into play. Consider the events in which Iola is forced to confront her African American heritage, and the ways in which she is segregated as a result. As Iola is more white than black in appearance, her status as a black woman in society shows us the power of the one drop rule. Specifically, this rule states that any person with even one drop of African American blood is to be considered African American.

There are several problems which must be confronted in regard to the one drop rule. First, many African Americans, such as Iola Leroy, posses more "white" blood in their bodies than that of African American blood. Yet, the Whites, who hold their blood line to be extremely pure, view one drop of African blood to be so vile. Thus, one may say that the white Americans are contradicting their own disgust with African blood and love for "white" blood. Here, one may see that the real issue behind the racism in "Iola Leroy" is not concerned with blood, but with maintaining illusions. Such illusions may be witnessed as white characters mistakenly assume African American characters to also be "white."

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mark Twain's Humuorous Reception of James Cooper

Although both Mark Twain and James Cooper are both respectable authors, Mark Twain calls out James Cooper. In Twain's "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses," one may assert several purposes as to why Twain would want to confront issues concerning Cooper's literary style and effectiveness. Consequently, one may also say that Twain does not fairly represent the novels of Cooper, such as "The Deerslayer." As Twain was a realist in his literary works, Cooper is best described as a Romanticist. Thus, Twain viewed Cooper's Romantic style of writing as unfavorable to any reader. One may begin to realize that Twain did not want to be the only person who did not approve of Cooper's novels.

Twain wants to shift focus from Cooper's literary works and, in turn, bring attention to his own, realistic, works. Twain never once clearly asserts his work to be of a better quality than that of Cooper's, however, he does articulate the inferior nature of Cooper's novels. Obviously, Twain's ridicule of Cooper serves a purpose other than to simply raise Twain's self esteem. One may say that Twain's criticism of Cooper acts also as an appraisal of his own, realistic, works.

Another way in which Twain attempts to pull the rug out from under Cooper's feet is through his use of categorization. Specifically, Twain labels himself as a humorist, while he labels Cooper as a novelist. This allows Twain to poke fun at Cooper's novels in a humorous way as well as to depict Cooper as a failure at being a novelist. Another thing Twain's categorization of himself and Cooper allows is to advocate Twain's own literary works, and realism as a whole. Thus, one could describe Twain as writing "behind a mask," similar to female author Louisa May Alcott.

In regard to Twain, he is rewarded for his use of a pen name and label as humorist, not novelist, as he labels Cooper. Thus, Twain allows his literary works to gain popularity through his criticism of Cooper's novels. Consequently, Twain has become a popular figure in American Literature. However, Cooper has lost little or no recognition as a writer due to Twain's humorous reception of his works. As Twain benefits, even minutely, from his criticism of Cooper, Cooper, in turn, remains utterly the same; A father of American Literature.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meetin in the MASC

Today's class was quite interesting and unfamiliar in that our setting was changed from that of Thompson 24 to the MASC. The Masc is home to many expensive, fragile, intriguing, and original texts. Furthermore, many of the books and original publications we were subjected to could be extremely useful for an English major, such as myself.

The activity we took part in was a great way to learn our way around the MASC, as well as to interact with all it has to offer. Specifically, I greatly enjoyed the idea that many of these books are so old they may contain remnants of the past. Imagining finding an ancient coin, or savings bond perhaps, was a truly eye opening experience. By looking around and discussing the books strewn about the tables, the MASC opened up to me as a valuable resource. Incidentally, after the activity and discussion a felt comfortable and welcome in the MASC.

Overall, my favorite part of our visit was our group discussion. Learning and listening, I quickly realized the great academic worth the MASC adds to our library. Furthermore, inspecting some of the old books gave me a sense of importance and worldliness. Not every person gets the privilege of a MASC. I am pleased to be a scholar when in an environment such as the MASC because it shows me the immortality of literature.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Old Money -vs- New Money

Throughout the pages of Howells' "The Rise of Silas Lapham," one gains a sense that there are two main types of wealth, or fortune, held by Howells' characters. First, there is Silas Lapham, a self made millionaire. On the other hand, then, is Bromfield Corey, an aristocrat who has inherited his vast fortune. Consequently, each of these characters has specific attributes which correlate with their social standings. Thus, one may describe, and analyze, the characteristics and attributes of both Silas and Bromfield in accordance with their wealth/equity.
Silas Lapham is different than Bromfield Corey in several ways. Primarily, Bromfield has inherited his wealth, while Silas Lapham has worked most of his life in acquiring his fortune. This fact sets up the next main difference among these two characters. Silas has a passionate air about him. Silas enjoys painting, and has earned a reputable living doing it. Thus, Silas has been made to work his entire life for his money. Consequently, Silas finds gratification in his work. Here lies a key difference between Silas ans Bromfield.
Bromfield differs from Silas in that he has never had to work for his money. As Bromfield was born into his wealth, the idea of work is quite displeasing to him. Unlike Silas, Bromfield views work as something the lower classes MUST do. Contrastingly to Silas, Bromfield finds gratification in not working at all. Furthermore, Bromfield is an un-passionate character next to the passionate Silas.
So then, one may inspect Bromfield and Silas in order to discern some of the differences between old money and new money. Bromfield lacks passion, work ethic, and views his not having to work as an indication of his status. Silas embodies passion and perseverance, he has gained his status through work, not through not working. In closing, which type of money would one rather have? Old money and inaction, or new money and hard work?