Marvell, Andrew: To his Coy Mistress

Had Andrew Marvell’s poem “ To his Coy Mistress” been written in the 21st century, I would definitely think of the narrator in terms of what we call a player. He deserves an A+ for flattery and glorifying of the woman that he ultimately desires to have an intercourse with. “To his Coy Mistress” is a beautifully written poem in a very persuasive form. I may not like the goal that the narrator is trying to attain, but the arguments that he uses to win her over are very plausible and supportive. He urges his mistress to think about utilizing her beauty assets while she can. Time passes quickly and before she knows, she will be old and dead. Marvell says,

“And your quaint honour turn to dust,

And into ashes my lust.”

The author is trying to convince her to skip the courtship since they have a limited amount of time on earth and make love instead. If she procrastinates too much, she will lose in the end. However, she is not the only losing. His lust will also turn into ashes, so it is up to her to take control of the situation and help them both by agreeing to have sex with him.

He is praising her beauty, and wouldn’t mind spending thousand years to adore each part of her body but he doesn’t have time to do so. Thus, he urges her to act upon his words and take advantage of time. He uses irony to describe the consequences if she chooses to wait longer. He says,

“… Thy beauty shall no more be found,

Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound

My echoing song; then worms shall try

That long preserv’d virginity…”

These lines are a pretty big contrast to the first part of the poem, but the narrator becomes gradually more aggressive in his attempt to persuade the lady to take an immediate action.

The last two lines of the poem are probably my favorite. Marvell states,

“Thus, though we cannot make our sun

Stand still, yet we will make him run.”

In other words, he is saying that even though the two of them cannot take the charge of time and mortality, if they passionately love each other, they can live the life of fulfillment without any fear.

 

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Robert Hayden: Those Winter Sundays

I really like Robert Hayden’s poem “Those Winter Sundays”. One of the first things that I noticed while reading the poem was the imagery. Everything I read I was able to automatically picture in my head. For instance, “ the blueblack  cold, cracked hands, banked fires, warm rooms, and the author’s polished shoes” are just some of the powerful images that speak for themselves. The focal point of the poem is the love between the father and his son. The kind of love that Hayden describes in the poem reminds me of my own relationship with my father. As a kid, I wasn’t always able to understand some of his behavior. I used to think that he simply didn’t love me much. Not before I grew up did I realize how much love he has always had for me. He was very stern and at times overly rigid which translated as the lack of love in my little head, where in fact it was just his way of parenting. Along the same lines, the author of the poem, when he was a kid, didn’t show enough gratitude and respect for his father and he regretted it later as an adult (possibly when he became a father himself and better understood all the responsibilities and obligations that he as a father had).

Hayden masterly gives the reader the entire family dynamics in only three stanzas. He does it by carefully choosing the words and tones that those words create. What we can understand from the first stanza is that his father is a hard working man, who, unlike majority of people who get to sleep in on Sundays, has to get up early on Sundays “too”! He provides for his family, and chooses to sacrifice some of his own comfort, to make his family members feel more comfortable. Hayden writes,

“I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.

When the rooms were warm, he’d call…”

He obviously doesn’t want his children to have to experience the harsh winter conditions. His father is an authority figure in the house. The author fears him. It tells the reader that his father is not a touchy-feely person but he expresses his love through his other actions. For example, he polishes his boy’s shoes and indirectly demonstrates how much he cares for his well-being. Of course, at a young age, the boy doesn’t see the things that way. He even says, looking back at a pattern of life that he experienced as a child, ”What did I know, what did I know?” What the author knows now that he didn’t know back then is how much his father truly loved him and how much effort and sacrifice he had to make to raise him.

Marge Piercy: Barbie Doll

“Barbie Doll” by Marge Piercy is all about unrealistic norms and expectations that our materialistic culture and demanding society impose on our children, especially young girls. From a very young age they are given Barbie dolls to play with. A Barbie doll is what every girl dreams to be- pure perfection! She has a perfect body, perfect hair, perfect smile, perfect outfits and perfect life style! So, what if you don’t look like a Barbie? Will you still be accepted by your society? Will you be equally successful as your Barbie like peers? There lies the ugly truth! No, you will be harshly criticized and eventually rejected by the society that praises fake beauty and fake ideals.

This is exactly what happens to the protagonist in the “Barbie Doll” poem. In the beginning everything seems pretty normal. The girl is born and typical girls’ toys such as Barbie dolls, toy household appliances, and, of course, make-up, surround her. She is expected to grow up and fit into a stereotypical female role. She takes care of the household while looking pretty. When the girl in the poem reaches puberty, she is described as “healthy, intelligent, with strong arms and back, abundant sexual drive, but with a fat nose and thick legs”. Unfortunately, her peers are not able to see any of her inner beauty or potential, and are only focused on her flaws. In order to become accepted, she has to abide by their rules. The author writes,

“ She was advised to play coy,

 exhorted to come on hearty,

exercise, diet, smile and wheedle.

Her good nature wore out

like a fan belt.

So she cut off her nose and her legs

and offered them up”.

Poor girl is not allowed to embrace her qualities and be the person who she is but tries hard to please the society. While doing so, “her good nature wore out.” In other words, she loses herself and is not the person she once was.

The end of the poem is extremely sad and ironic. Not being able to cope with peer pressure, she kills herself. It is not before she dies that she becomes accepted by the society. She has a fake putty nose on, “dressed in a pink and white nightie,” and everyone compliments her looks. Ironically, people often fail to see someone’s true beauty but are rather immersed in anything that’s fake.

While reading the poem, I found a parallel with Monster that Frankenstein created. He was also judged based on looks and considered an outcast by the society. Unlike the girl who killed herself, Monster took a different path. He went on a killing rampage in search of revenge!

Gemini, What Are You Fighting For?

I will start off by saying that I am not much familiar with so-called spoken poetry. I watched the assigned videos and did not quite enjoy them. Part of the reason for this could be the fact that I don’t like or listen to rap music and this is exactly what these poems remind me of.

Instead of bashing the Gemini’s performance, I will rather try to point out what I do like about it.

First of all, I think he is a powerful artist and he recites from the heart. This is very important because this either grabs the attention of the audience watching him, or it disappoints them. Gemini has a great presence on stage. He is very charismatic and the audience responds well. He is listing the possible and most likely outcome for those who opt to join gangs. When he says, “ Don’t you see that you are dying for nothing, rather than living for something”, he implies how meaningless it is to join the groups of people who have no healthy ambition to succeed in life but rather achieve a temporary success by destroying other innocent lives. They ruin their own lives eventually. By using the images such as caskets, or tombstones, Gemini keeps reminding the gangsters of their imminent future unless they turn their lives around. He also repeats “What are you fighting for?” throughout the poem which adds a lot of emphasis to his presentation. He changes this question to “ What are you dying for?” at the very end and it creates an effective statement. The money that drug dealers make is not worth dying for it…

Shakespeare, Macbeth, Acts IV and V

After finishing reading of the last two acts of Macbeth, one sentence really stands out. When Seyton reports the queen’s death to Macbeth, his response is “ She should have died hereafter.” As the reader, I guess I had expected him to show a little more grief and sadness. His reaction contains rather some sort of indifference to it.  This is the death of the woman whom he loves so much that he goes that far to even kill the king just to please her sick power ambitions. Now she dies, and all he has to say is pretty much “O well, we all die after all. Life goes on”. Or, I could be wrong. Maybe his cold reaction is just the result of his numbness. His greed and lust for power have changed him from a loyal hero whom we see at the beginning of the play into a real vengeful beast at the end of it. For instance, the moment he sends out his people to slaughter the entire Macduff’s family shows the worst of his personality. There’s absolutely no valid reason for Macbeth to do so. They are not a threat to him or his reign in any way. He does it out of spite. I think that is the moment when Macbeth becomes completely irrational and acts like a mad man. He knows he’s got a lot of blood on his hands and there is nothing else that can save him. He is a dead man much before the actual moment of death when Macduff takes revenge upon him.

Macbeth book vs. Macbeth movie

While I really like Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, and even though it is far from an easy read, I think that reading the book is a thousand times better than watching the movie “Macbeth”. Watching a movie is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. Watching “Macbeth”, not so much! It is rather a three hours long torture! Even though I think the dialogue in the movie remains pretty much the same as in Shakespeare’s original version, the setting itself has a very contemporary feel to it and it really ruins the play. In fact, when I started the movie, I almost thought I clicked on the wrong link. I thought I was about to watch a World War II movie.

The play was written in the 16th century! You can’t simply fast forward five centuries, make characters look like Nazis, play Russian music and keep Shakespeare’s dialogue. The filmed version of Macbeth is rather a cheap, poorly made horror movie. Too much blood everywhere. The three witches that appear in the book are almost fun characters unlike the three nurses or maids that take on their roles in the movie. The witches in the movie are extremely eerie. Let me mention the opening scene where the three of them are disguised as nurses ‘helping’ a wounded soldier. One of them pulls his heart out! Eww! Later on, I noticed they appear in certain scenes where Shakespeare doesn’t mention them. They also make a surprise appearance at dinner held by Macbeth dressed as maids. The most hideous movie scene is probably the night of the banquet when the guests dance to a Russian song, and whoever ends up without a partner has to dance with a mop. There are some other discrepancies between the book and the movie, such as Banquo riding a horse in the night of his murder, versus Banquo and his son traveling by train in the movie. Or at least what appears to be the train to me! I really could not suffer another three hours just to make sure whether it is the train! J Also, the queen in the book walks around carrying a candle, while she uses a flashlight in the movie. Along the same lines, I think the use of guns in the movie does not match the weapons described in the book.

While I generally find filmed versions of the books bleak, the movie Macbeth probably tops them all. It’s nowhere near my expectations. I am definitely sticking to the book! J

 

 

 

Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act III

The focal points of the Act III of Shakespeare’s Macbeth are the banquet held by Macbeth and the murder of Banquo, his chief guest. If there had been any sympathy for a hero Macbeth, it’s long gone by the beginning of Act III. With every new murder that he directly or indirectly commits, Macbeth turns into such a repulsive character that the reader’s desire to see him killed grows from page to page. Macbeth becomes

a mirror image of Lady Macbeth! Now she is the one who appears scared and anxious, while Macbeth is on a killing spree. Deep in blood already, Macbeth is unstoppable. He even adopts Lady Macbeth’s tactic of challenging manhood of his servants the same way she challenges his when Macbeth hesitates about killing king Duncan. When one of the murderers in Act 3, scene 3 says, “We are men, my liege”,

Macbeth responds sarcastically,

“Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men,

As hounds and greyhounds, mongrels, spaniels, curs,

Shoughs, water rugs, and demi wolves, are clept

All by the name of dogs…”

What Macbeth is really saying to his servants is that they won’t be real men until they kill Banquo.

During dinner, Macbeth makes a fool of himself since he is the only one who sees Banquo’s ghost. Macbeth is horrified by his presence, and acts absolutely insane.

The themes of revenge and no immoral deeds go without consequences are portrayed in Banquo’s appearance as a ghost. He is back to torture Macbeth’s conscience. While Lady Macbeth still manages to stay calm, at least on the outside,

Macbeth looses his connection with reality.

My Response to Peer Consultation Workshop #3

Generally speaking, my response to our last workshop is positive. While I have to make a couple of remarks, overall it is a successful way of having students help each other revise their papers.

My arguments that favor this type of a peer workshop are:

1) It allows students to express their concerns related to their papers freely (they won’t feel dumb if asking a silly question, or risk to be laughed at by another thirty students)

2) It also brings the students within their groups closer and encourages their cooperation (we can hear valuable inputs from our classmates that can help us improve our writing skills)

3) By being asked to point out our potential problems, and have other students help us resolve the same is highly appreciated, especially if we know that our weaknesses are someone else’s strong points

4) We have a chance to practice and learn from each other

5) Group discussions help us generate new ideas which help our creativity

6) Having 10 minutes per paper teaches us to be effective at evaluating our peers’ work (improves time management skills)

 

Some of the disadvantages I find with this type of workshop are:

1) Not all students have the same writing skills (incompetent critics)

2) Not enough time to give a detailed feedback

3) Working under pressure (time limitation plus background noise)

4) Possible intimidation by more dominant students in one’s group

Taking all the pros and cons into consideration, the pros outweigh the cons and  I find this particular workshop beneficial.

Well-done professor Pope! J

 

 

 

 

 

Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Act II

Act II appears to be very tense with a lot of foreshadowing and anticipation. Lady Macbeth hears owls and crickets cry minutes before the king Duncan’s violent death. Often in literature owls are used to represent a bad omen. Macbeth commits the murder as planned but it doesn’t go as smoothly as Lady Macbeth expects. Apparently disturbed after committing the sin against God, Macbeth is unable to say “Amen” at the end of the prayer. He hears two people next to the king’s chamber say a prayer and prays along with them but as they finish it with “Amen”, Macbeth simply cannot say the word. Macbeth explains the situation in following words,

“One cried ‘God bless us,’ and ‘Amen’ the other,

As they had seen me with these hangman’s hands.

Listening their fear, I could not say ‘Amen’

When they did say ‘God bless us.’”

The reason why Macbeth feels the way he does is because he understands the proportions of his horrific deed and is aware of its consequences. He has a guilty conscience. He is aware that his hands are stained with blood forever and he won’t find peace ever again. Soon after murdering the king, Macbeth starts hearing voices. One of them professes that,

“Glamis hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor

Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more”.

Macbeth’s ultimate sin can never be forgiven and he is deeply aware of it. However, Lady Macbeth’s horrific comments reveal that she thinks of the murder in a very superficial way. She thinks it is enough to wash the blood off his hands for Macbeth to forget about the murder. Some of her comments make the blood in the reader freeze! For example, when she says,

“Confounds us. Hark! I laid their daggers ready;

He could not miss ’em. Had he not resembled

My father as he slept, I had done’t.”

This is the first time that the reader has a chance to hear anything remotely sensitive said or done by Lady Macbeth. She is ready to kill the king but his resemblance to her father prevents her from doing so. Even though she appears incapable of feeling love for anyone, she must love her father.

Another detail that I would like to mention in this particular act is “knocking”. It reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “Tell-tale heart”, where knocking on the door is the beginning of discovery of the murder. The narrator hears the knocking of the policemen. Later on, he hears the clock ticking. In similar manner, knocking in Macbeth is almost like a countdown to the final discovery of the murder.

Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act I, Scenes 4-7

 

Macbeth decides to kill king Duncan to overtake his throne. I cannot say that I did not see it coming. From the moment Macbeth hears the witches’ prophecy he seems determined to fulfill his goal. What in fact does surprise me is Lady Macbeth’s desire for Macbeth to become the new king. I even tend to believe that Macbeth alone is not capable of caring out such a monstrous plan if not for his wife’s support. She is the mastermind behind his actions. When Macbeth contemplates his decision to kill the king, she steps in and says:

“Wherein you dresses yourself? Hath it slept since?

And wakes it now, to look so green and pale

At what it did so freely? From this time

Such I account thy love. Art thou afeard

To be the same in thine own act and valor

As thou art in desire? Wouldst thou have that

Which thou esteem’st the ornament of life,

And live a coward in thine own esteem,

Letting “I dare not” wait upon  “I would,”

Like the poor cat i’ the adage?”

These are the Lady Macbeth’s words that challenge Macbeth’s desire and what it takes to execute the murder of the king.

The old saying “like the poor cat” that she uses mocks Macbeth’s indecisiveness and attacks his ego. She basically compares him to a cat who likes to eat fish but not so much getting her paws wet. In other words, she states that Macbeth would enjoy being a king but is afraid to take steps needed to get there. Of course, this is an open provocation on her part. Apparently, she knows her husband’s weak points, and is very calculated.