Sunday, February 27, 2011


"How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd"
 -Alexander Pope

"This was not a story to pass on"
-Toni Morrison
What is Freedom?

I sure this question has run through the minds of Sethe and Paul D because they were slaves not even considered human. If their previous servitude was erased from their memory would they know and understand freedom?

In the 2004 movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Kate Winslet and Jim Carey play a couple who erase each other from their memories following a very messy and painful relationship. However they meet again and are drawn together even though they're erased from each other's memories. At the end of Beloved, Toni Morrison writes that this was not a story to pass on, the awful memories of slvery and its terrible implications as in this story should not have been passed on but also not a stroy to die. If what happened to the two lovers in the movie happened to Sethe and Paul D they still might be drawn to the memories of slavery still attaining no freedom. They walk the line of remembering and not remembering if they want to achieve personal freedom. As Paul D tells Sethe at the end of the book, "you your own self."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Constrained by Honesty

What is freedom?

I don’t think any of us knows what its exact definition is. We all have things in our lives that take advantage of our lives. The power of Meursault is truth and honesty. It words come out of him unfiltered and unrestrained like 'word vomit' (Mean Girls). It got him into more trouble after killing the nameless Arab in the climax of Camus’s The Stranger,

Another issue of this novel, to me, is the lack of consideration for the Arab who got killed by both Meursault and the juror’s of his trial. They were rather preoccupied with the fact that Meursault had not cried at his mother’s funeral. The Arab seems like a disposable life not even worthy of a name. He is often referred to as the nameless Arab. This drives me crazy. Maybe Camus was using Meursault and the juror’s attitudes towards the death an Arab man to reflect the current feeling of the general public of France. Whatever the truth is behind the apathetic reactions to this murder they remain true as horrible as they may be.


Is humankind inherently good or evil?

Let me begin by saying I have never disliked a character in a book as much as I have disliked Raskolnikov. He decides to play supreme ruler of the universe, thinking of himself as an extraordinary man above Alyona Ivanovna and killed her. Of course no one loved her and no one needed her, so Raskolnikov thinks he’ll do the job himself. His arrogance just drips through the pages of Doestoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Even though in a deep depression, delusion and paranoia brought on by not only the death of Alyona Ivanovna but her sister Lizaveta as well that “extraordinary man arrogance still bleeds through.

As long as Raskolnikov’s brand of arrogance exists in humanity, we can never be good. People thinking they’re better than other people. It never ends well. Still after the torture of guilt day and night, Raskolnikov never confesses that what he did to Alyona was wrong. To me it’s like nothing is really changed in Raskolnikov, if this arrogance over Alyona still exists. It’s like the same song playing in the beginning of a movie is repeated at the end.

There’s more to Falstaff than just Fat

What are the politics and consequences of war, and how do these vary based on an individual or cultural perspective?

Well, ’tis no matter; honour pricks
me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I
come on? how then? Can honour set to a leg? no: or
an arm? no: or take away the grief of a wound? no.
Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? no. What is
honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what
is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it?
he that died o’ Wednesday. Doth he feel it? no.
Doth he hear it? no. ‘Tis insensible, then. Yea,
to the dead. But will it not live with the living?
no. Why? detraction will not suffer it. Therefore
I’ll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon: and so
ends my catechism.”

Henry IV Part 1, Act V, Scene 1

I came to respect Falstaff tremendously after this quote in the play. Much of war, I believe, is about pride and defending the honor of something we hold dear. But really how far should we humans go for honor? Does it even exist on earth if every one can has done their share of good and bad? When Falstaff took responsibility of Percy’s death, I feel I understood why Hal let it slide. Falstaff is taking the ‘honor load’ off of his friend. Hal wanted to kill Percy to defend his honor and when he killed Percy was it really worth it? I see Falstaff being a good friend.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oedipus Rex

“Everywhere the human soul stands between a hemisphere of light another of darkness on the confines of two everlasting hostile empires- Necessity and Free Will.” Thomas Carlyle

The crucial theme in Oedipus Rex is definitely free will vs. fate. These two pathways are nonetheless intertwined. One cannot abide without the other. There will be a perpetual balance. Oedipus’s road wasn’t foggy and bleak like most.The oracle told Lais and Jocata that their son would grow up to kill his father and marry his mother. The oracle also told Oedipus his fate. He then, of his free will chose a path he thought would lead him to a different fate, but then soon realized that his own will sealed this foretold destiny.  

 I believe if Lais and Jocasta hadn't tried to change the situation Oedipus would have had a fairly normal life, or perhaps the Gods would have taken pity on the family's fate. The same goes for Oedipus later on in his life. If he had not left Corinth in the first place, he wouldn't have come back to his real hometown of Thebes. It's so funny that by their own free will, they sealed their fate. It was either by fear in Oedipus's case, or arrogance on Jocasta or Lais's case that this horrible fate came true.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Revolutionary Road Big Question Blog

What is happiness and what is the degree of importance in one's life?

"Happiness" by The Fray

"Happiness is just outside my window
I thought it'd it crash blowing 80-miles an hour?
Or is happiness a little more like knocking
On your door, and you just let it in?

Happiness feels a lot like sorrow
Let it be, you can't make it come or go
But you are gone- not for good but for now
Gone for now feels a lot like gone for good

Happiness is a firecracker sitting on my headboard
Happiness was never mine to hold
Careful child, light the fuse and get away
'Cause happiness throws a shower of sparks

Happiness damn near destroys you
Breaks your faith to pieces on the floor
So you tell yourself, that's enough for now
Happiness has a violent roar

Happiness is like the old man told me
Look for it, you'll never find it all
But let it go, live your life and leave it
Then one day, wake up and she'll be home"

Happiness is one of the most important thing in anyone's life (So what if that's almost an absolute statement). I would even rank it with oxygen it's that important. But then I have to ask myself, if a person is unhappy with a situation, should should alter their lives or relationships until they feel they can achieve it. Is  the pursuit of happiness the ultimate bringer of unhappiness and is happiness something or someplace tangible for anyone to find?

Happiness and fufillment are such a huge themes in the Richard Yates's novel Revolutionary Road. Because of it (or lack of it) the marriage of Frank and April Wheeler is almost torn apart. Maybe if they tried harder to find contentment in their own lives, Happiness would have snuck into their living room windows. Or Maybe they didn't try hard enough to change their lives and relationships. The Fray's lyrics "Happiness has a violent roar" suits this book. No one never really knows who or where Happiness is. Whoever or wherever he or she is, desire for their attention definitely increases his or her elusiveness.

Odyssey Big Question Blog.

Why do we bother to examine/study the past, present or future?

I know it's very cliche but things become cliche because of importance and truth. The past is a very great tool for understanding the present and more importantly the future. Human beings do not like change and our behaviours and attitudes towards many things have not changed at all. Looking into the past would help us understand ourselves and others. This is one of the many reasons that the Homer's epic poem The Odyssey is still relevant in our modern world.

Odysseus, the main character, had been away fighting in the Trogan war for 10 years and then spent another 10 years for him to reach his home of Ithaca. Odysseus's sly cleverness ( I believe his best and worst trait) gives him such a human quality though the goddes Athena does assist him much of the span of the epic poem.  His longing for home and being reunited with his family in his home despite his physical and seemingly emotional strength also aids with the pathos. The ability of the modern audience to be absorbed in this very pathos proves the importance of studying the past. It only gives us humans a better look at ourselves and ultimately our futures.