Archive for » October 20th, 2003«

Grrr

Gee, if Hotmail would learn to have better spam-blocking capabilities, maybe their freaking server wouldn’t be too busy half the time! Morons.

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Fine line between love and hate

I just finished my paper on Emma by Jane Austen. I like the book overall, but really do not care for Emma herself. It would be fine if she actually had a conscience and changed into a better person. But she gets what she wants without growing. And that’s just disappointing.
Click on if you want to see the paper. I wish I had more than a week as I’d like to delve deeper into these thoughts.

(sorry for the formatting – old blog transfer wonkiness)
Missed Opportunity Jane Austen�s Emma, while widely popular, is a book about trivial things. It is a narrow story within a social microcosm about a flighty, thoughtless, spoiled heiress. Readers hope for a social commentary on separation of class, but wind up with a pleasantly innocuous story about a manipulative young woman. Emma Woodhouse is the focus of Austen�s story. She is nearly twenty-one, rich, and rules her father�s house. Everyone around her looks up to her and thinks her clever to the point of divine. Only Mr. Knightley seems to have an eye to her faults; Emma greatly values his opinion and views. Nevertheless, even he does not affect change in her conduct or personality. Emma is mean yet thinks herself well intentioned. She is self-centered and sure that she knows what is right for others � without considering the consequences of her actions. And since everyone is an admirer of Emma � her father, sister, Harriet, Mrs. Weston � she does not realize the negative results of many of her doings. She is conveniently sheltered or distracted. When she does realize what she has done, she certainly does not learn from her mistakes or change her actions or even dwell for very long on what she needs to change. Emma is a character seemingly mired in class distinctions. While she befriends Harriet � a girl of indeterminate parentage � and insists that Harriet can marry above herself, Emma does not truly believe Harriet will succeed. In fact, when Harriet sets her sights on Emma�s favorite neighbor Mr. Knightley, Emma decides that Harriet has overstepped her bounds. When Harriet no longer serves to distract and entertain Emma, suddenly Harriet is not so desirable. Emma panics and betrays her friend by sending her away; she does not deal with how she treats Harriet. She does not try to change the social conventions of the time and fight against them. She just accepts the status quo � which of course benefits her � and in the process hurts someone that looks up to her. Emma�s shallowness is rewarded, frustrating readers that expect the main character to grow with the story. Perhaps Emma is simply misguided. However, readers still see no resolution at the end of the tale. Emma does not change. Knightley, while not blind to Emma�s faults, really just wants her to fall in line as a good wife. Apparently, the only way for the women in this novel to achieve happiness is to marry someone in a slightly better social and financial situation than themselves. Yet Emma and Knightley combined are quite rich. They have the power to affect change in their small society. But they do not; their small circle of influence is stagnant. Helping the poor is incidental, especially for Emma, while Knightley, at least, is authentic in his generosity. With their wealth, though, the two could help the less fortunate like Miss Bates. There is no indication of their intent to improve things. Readers cannot expect Emma to change the surrounding town and society when she does not even bother to better herself. Austen�s command of the language makes her ideal to address the equality of women, much as Mary Wollstonecraft did in �A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.� She could have easily written a clever and biting commentary, letting Emma get the best of everyone and growing into a knowledgeable and powerful, influential woman able to affect true social change. Instead, she dwells on trivial things in Emma�s life and times. Emma does get power through money, but she does not use it in the way readers hope she will. The women get married and are fulfilled by matrimony; they do not learn to be happy in themselves. The rich stay rich and the poor continue to get poorer. Austen tells a pleasant story, a mere distraction from modern life � but she could have done so much more.�2003 Becky Scott (Yeah, I know I’m posting this on the ‘net, but it’s still stealing if you take it.)

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Browning – fun with fra lippi

Okay, here’s the other paper I skipped posting. This is the longest paper I’ve ever written for this professor.
Again, if you’re not interested in English Lit, feel free to skip.

A Monk�s Monologue copyright 2003 misspriss.org NO STEALING In �Fra Lippo Lippi� Robert Browning uses the technique of dramatic monologue to tell a story. Readers are expected to draw their own conclusions about details left out by the speaker and evaluate the speaker�s trustworthiness in relating the story. At the beginning of the poem, Fra Lippo Lippi is being held by the police for questioning. The hour is late and the police seem suspicious of this lone man. In fact, one of the officers gets a little rough with Lippi, grabbing him by the neck and demanding to know who he is. Since Lippi is in the red light district after curfew, the officer assumes he is a bad character. At this point, Lippi tosses out a false bravado, asking the officers if they know who he is and bandying about powerful connections and threats of hanging. It appears our monk has a chip on his shoulders. When threats do not work with the officers, Lippi changes tactics by offering a little drinking money. When the threat does not lessen, Lippi switches to flattery. Finally, someone realizes who Lippi is and Lippi responds that he liked his �looks at very first� (p1374, ln 43). Lippi is trying to talk fast to keep from being dragged to jail. As long as he has the officers listening and standing still, he has a chance at getting out of his mess. Lippi tells the officers why he is out so late. He tells them that he has been cooped up for three solid weeks and really only wanted to open his window for air. But when three young women happened by and one locked eyes with him, Lippi loses his head. After all, he is just a man made of flesh and blood. So Lippi makes a ladder out of his curtains and sheets and makes a dash to where the party is. As he is returning home, Lippi runs into the officers. One of the officers shakes his head at a monk out partying so late and chasing the girls. Lippi decides he must justify himself � a monk running after fleshly pleasures � against the expectations of those around him. When Lippi was about eight years old, he lived on the streets, scrounging for food, when he is forced to go to the convent. Munching on the first bread he has seen in a while, young Lippi is asked to renounce the world. At that point, a hungry child will probably agree to anything in order to assuage the pain of an empty stomach. Lippi seems flippant about his decision to enter the cloister, in part because of his youth, desire to be off the streets, and steady meals. He is fed, clothed, and has idle time � a child could want little else. As a child of the streets, Lippi quickly develops the powers of observation. He learns to read people�s faces � not only their expressions, but their intent as well. When he no longer has to concentrate on survival, Lippi turns his attention to recreating those faces � apparently everywhere in the convent. The monks are so exasperated they want to toss him out. The Prior, however, has other plans. Instead, Lippi is given a purpose for his energy. He will paint the walls with his characters. According to Browning, Lippi puts intense energy into his creations, creating backdrops and intricate stories to go along with his paintings. His first work, Lippi is immensely proud of his efforts. Even the monks seem to appreciate his abilities � until the Prior steps up to lend his observations. The Prior thinks Lippi�s painting is too real, too sinful. The flesh is bad and so is any rendering of it. Lippi is devastated at the reactions. The way he relates it, the reader can see the criticism has a lasting effect of Lippi and how he works. However, Lippi does not completely subscribe to the Prior�s teachings. Lippi sees beauty in the ordinary and strives to show that in his art. He says beauty is of God. God made our flesh. Yes, it has been corrupt since the fall, but it still has worth. People should see that beauty in its natural state and appreciate it! At the same time, Browning is making the reader aware of a seeming narrow-mindedness of the pre-Renaissance church and Lippi�s struggle to combat pre-conceived notions of what art should be. Lippi�s first criticism stays with him even in adulthood. He resents the idea that his art is too bold, too physical, and not spiritual enough. Lippi wonders how one would paint a soul. But he still feels the Prior looking over his shoulder; he still fights trying to please the monks. He mocks them, saying they must know it all because they know Latin. But their expectations still taunt him, their voices telling him he is helping ruin art by making it too fleshy, not reverent enough. Lippi gets angry and keeps working, hoping to please his sensibilities and silence their disdainfulness. To run from the monks� teachings, Lippi does crazy things like sneak out in the middle of the night, chasing young girls. To counteract a decision he made at a very young age, he wants to enjoy the pleasures of life, kick up his heels, and experience new things. Of course, a monk�s life is comfortable and Lippi does not want to quit completely. And that is why he is talking as fast as he can, convincing the officers why they should not take him to jail or report him to his patron. He does manage to extract himself from the police, leaving readers to admire � or disapprove of � his storytelling ability. Browning sets the stage in this poem for the Renaissance to change the way people look at art, life, and religion. As young artists observe their masters, they find new ways to do things, such as paint the flesh in a more realistic way, concentrating on real life, not just a soul no one can see. Artists � whether a painter or a writer � constantly push for new things, new ideas. Browning predicts a change in art, in how it is painted and appreciated. Of course, Browning has the advantage of hind sight. But his intent is to make readers contemplate a time of great change and challenge to convention. With his new type of writing � the dramatic monologue � it is possible he wants to prepare his readers for a new genre of writing as well.�2003 Becky Scott (Yeah, I know I’m posting this on the ‘net, but it’s still stealing if you take it.)

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Keats – “Ode to Indolence”

I’m getting tired of poetry, but really didn’t mind delving into this particular poem. Maybe I’m finally getting the hang of it.
Yeah, right. :D
Here’s my Keats paper, in case you just can’t stay away. I wrote it about 2 weeks ago now & realized I haven’t posted it.

Sweet Indolence copyright 2003 misspriss.org NO STEALING �Ode to Indolence� is neither the longest nor the shortest of John Keats� odes. He writes 10 lines in a stanza with 6 lines per stanza, using iambic pentameter. He writes with an ab ab cde cde rhyming pattern in each stanza. In the first stanza of �Ode to Indolence� Keats introduces three strange figures. The creatures form a circle, but look like the relief of an urn. It is almost as if they are flat; they move as if part of a turning urn. It is hard to tell at this point if the characters are completely flat or slightly two-dimensional. If vases are strange to a student of sculpture (p855, ln 9-10), then the figures must not be three-dimensional. These forms are dressed in white and have �placid� (855, ln 4) sandals. Keats could mean that they are serene, not speaking to him in the quietness of the room. However, he could mean that the figures are complacent � they just go around in their circle, not really doing anything, and not caring if he notices them. In the second stanza, Keats speculates about why the three figures are there. He mentions being drowsy without pinpointing the time of day. He could just be waking, going to sleep, or preparing to nap. Keats wants to keep his days idle. He enjoys his �summer-indolence� (855, ln 16); summer is the season where idleness is a sweet treasure. As Keats slips into the oblivion of sleep, he does not care about pain nor pleasure. He wants the strangers gone so he does not have to think. His sleep allows him to flee everything, but their presence interrupts his escape. They make him uneasy and he wonders whom they are and why they are there. In the next stanza, the figures continue to move in a circle. However, this time they actually turn and face Keats; he now knows who visits. Love, Ambition, and Poesy are the interlopers. Suddenly they disappear � leaving him curious. Love, Ambition, and his Muse come in to arouse him and then depart, leaving him bereft. He calls Poesy an �unmeek maiden� (855, ln 29) and �demon� (855, ln 30). His inspiration tortures and torments him. Keats moves on into the fourth stanza. As the figures fade suddenly, so does indolence. Keats decides he wants to give chase to the figures. Love is elusive; Keats wants to fly after love for he cannot find it. Ambition is fleeting; it is short-lived and he wants to capture some of it. But he does not want to chase his Muse. Poesy interrupts noontime naps and evening relaxation. She pokes, she prods, and she pushes him into putting words and thoughts on paper. She cajoles, she pleads, and she begs to be heard. When he desires to sleep, she wants to jump on the bed. When he needs to eat, she clears the table to get his attention. When he wants to be left alone, she is there chattering in his ear, reminding him it is time to put pen to paper. So no, he does not want to chase Poesy. He would, in fact, like it if she skulked away. Stanza five starts with the three figures moving by Keats once more, just as he finally fades into sleep. He starts to dream of being in a field with flowers and the promise of rain. He is happy to be rid of the shadows; he does not cry to see them go. In the final stanza, Keats tells the shadows to leave, that he is happy where he is. He does not want to write, to be fawned over by adoring fans. He is tired of adulation. Keats wants the figures to return to their urn and let him be. He decides that he does not want anything to do with the shadows after all. Love will just make him hurt. Ambition will only give him things to do. And Poesy will hound him day and night, giving him no rest. Keats is tired of writing and tired of fame. He just wants a little peace and quiet. If he was not feeling like writing, people were probably clamoring for more. He does not want his Muse to rule his life, so he decided a little idleness might be nice for a while. Even God rested on the seventh day. We should do no less. �2003 Becky Scott (Yeah, I know I’m posting this on the ‘net, but it’s still stealing if you take it.)

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