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?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Manipulative Nature of Jean Muir

"Nineteen." And a smile passed over Miss Muir's lips, as she folded her hands with an air of resignation, for the catechism was evidently to be a long one. (Alcott 1)

From the beginning of Louisa May Alcott's, "Behind a Mask," the main character Jean Muir exhibits a rather manipulative demeanor. This is not to say any of the other characters ever truly understand the depths of Jean's deceptions, however. The actual feelings towards Jean Muir from the other characters is seemingly unknowing. This is to say that throughout the events of the novella not once is Jean Muir's true identity, or age for that matter, fully known.
Another aspect of Jean Muir I would like to address is her relation to the pursuits of women writers at the time of "Behind a Mask's" publication. As many women still adhered to domesticity and submissiveness, such a character as Jean Muir was contrary to the time and tradition. Furthermore, the specific title of the work, "Behind a Mask," suggests the author may feel in relation with her character Jean Muir. This is to say that Jean Muir could be described as behind a mask throughout her role in the novella. Specifically, pay attention to the fact that women of the time were expected to write only out of necessity. If Alcott was writing this text out of necessity, why does the title allude to something more?
I assert that Alcott uses the title to infer that this novella serves more of a purpose than to simply feed hungry family members. Consequently, I predict that Alcott furthers her implications as to her reasons for producing this novella through the manipulative nature of Jean Muir. I wonder then, how much Jean Muir and Louisa Alcott are alike when pursuing their desires.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Joaquin Murrieta the Mexican Robin Hood

John Rollin Ridges' novel of the adventures of Joaquin Murrieta closely parallels the story of Robin Hood, for several reasons. First and foremost, the novel which John Rollin Ridge constructs is that of a fast paced action packed story. Furthermore, the character Joaquin provides us, the reader, with much of the action encountered. Similar to Robin Hood, Joaquin was not a mere Mexican Bandit riding and killing with reckless abandon, he was motivated.

Motives act as the main underlying relationship between Joaquin and Robin Hood. Let us inspect some further comparisons in regard to these two characters. Robin Hood acts to steal from the rich and give to the poor in reaction to his lands being controlled by the rich. Incidentally, Joaquin Murrieta seeks revenge upon Americans for pushing him from his land and raping his wife. During such times, Americans may be compared to the rich in Robin Hood. Thus, both Robin Hood and Joaquin face strong motivation to rebel due to personal strife accompanied with the tribulations of loved ones. Consequently, Joaquin vies to kill any American he sees.

Both Joaquin and Robin Hood may be withheld as heroes. As heroes, both characters possess a certain code of ethics. In regard to Joaquin, he always keeps his word, does not kill any who provide him with favors, and he has a rudimentary sense of justice as well. Likewise, Robin Hood uses his cunning and courage to implement his code, which closely resembles that of Joaquin. Robin Hood also keeps his word, steals from the rich to give to the poor, and adheres to justice. Moreover, both characters can justify their actions through their heroic codes of action.

Although Joaquin may kill and steal, and Robin Hood may do similar things, their actions are justifiable in that they are seeking out justice. This is a huge similarity in regard to viewing both Joaquin and Robin Hood as heroic. Furthermore, both provide reason for their actions, which further justifies their pursuits. For example, Joaquin provides reasons for his murders, the rape of his wife and loss of his land. Additionally, Robin Hood justifies his pursuits by articulating that the rich are to rich and the poor are to poor. Overall, Robin Hood and Joaquin Murrieta were truly heroic, proactive characters.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Womens' Roles in The Blithedale Romance

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance suggests certain roles which women should adhere to. More specifically, the two prominent female characters, Priscilla and Zenobia, are prime examples of ways in which women were regulated and restricted by their roles. As Zenobia and Priscilla are two very opposite characters, one may see how their actions reinforce their womanly roles. By comparing and contrasting Priscilla to Zenobia one may gain a sense of what things were expected of women and what was not in Blithedale.
“The Cult of True Womanhood,” as described by Barbara Welter, is made up of four pillars which constitute what it means to be a true woman. Piety, purity, submissiveness, and domesticity make up these four pillars. Thus, Priscilla and Zenobia alike are received as either fitting into these categories or not. Consequently, Zenobia does not adhere to each of these four pillars, while Priscilla may in fact be the very essence of true womanhood.
In contrast to Priscilla, Zenobia may be described as enigmatic, exotic, strongly spoken, manipulative, and beautifully dark. Priscilla, on the other hand, is a shy, ethereal, secluded seamstress who is very soft spoken. Obviously Priscilla is pious, submissive, pure, and domestic. Yet, if Priscilla fits into the categories a woman was expected to, while Zenobia is deviant, why is it that Zenobia is described as a beautiful, strong woman?
I assert that Nathaniel Hawthorne is subtly pointing out some of the flaws with the roles of women in his “Blithedale Romance.” This is to say that Hawthorne has constructed two female characters; Zenobia is on one end of the spectrum of womanhood, while Priscilla is on the other end, embodying everything a woman was expected to be. Further, I believe Hawthorne has used Zenobia’s suicide as a statement about women and their actions.
As Zenobia was out-spoken, exotic and dark, her death signifies the end of a woman who acted out against her social restraints. Contrarily, Priscilla’s intact life shows us that the woman who adheres to the pillars of womanhood lives on. Thus, the deviant character dies and her actions loose significance, while Priscilla, the model woman, lives on and carries on tradition.