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

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act I, Scenes 1-3

The opening scene with the three playful witches gives the reader a hint about what is about to come. Also, whenever the witches, monsters, or any other supernatural elements are present in the story, the reader knows to expect the everlasting battle between good and evil.

Since I am not different than the other readers, I already have expectations and ideas about what may or may not happen further in the story. Our first impressions about Macbeth are created based on what we learn about him from the wounded captain. He informs the king Duncan about Macbeth and Banquo’s bravery on the battlefield. Up to Macbeth’s encounter with the three witches, he is a great and honorable Scottish general. Well, this is soon to change! While he does display courage on the battlefield, the reader starts to doubt his real motivation. Is he driven by true honor or rather by an unhealthy ambition?

The witches’ prophecy that he will become a king one day, Macbeth takes seriously. It obviously makes him joyous. My opinion is that he fancies the idea of becoming a king even prior to meeting with the witches. The witches are there just to give him what we may call ‘moral support’ to realize his intentions.

Also, another clue that gives away Macbeth’s true or even “bloody” character is the way he kills the Irish soldier on the battlefield. He splits the man open from his navel to the mouth and then puts his head on a stick on the field. Talking to king Duncan, the sergeant says,

“Which ne’er shook hands nor bade farewell to him.

Till he unseamed  him from the nave to th’ chops,

And fixed his head upon our battlements”.

Macbeth doesn’t simply kill the man. He kills in a very cold-blooded and grisly manner.

 

 

 

Response to Our Workshop # 3

Our last workshop could be my favorite so far. I especially enjoyed the people in my group. Not to sound harsh but it is always preferable to have people who share similar interests in your group. Their inputs and suggestions were valuable. They pointed out some really important facts that a good essay should have, and it made me think constructively.

While we all have our own strengths and weaknesses, it is fairly easy to do well where we know we can, but it is equally as important to improve ourselves in those areas where we lack some skills.

All in all, I think that our workshop # 3 was time well invested. 🙂

 

Research Journal # 5

1)              As my last source I chose to use Maurice Charney’s Comedy:A Geographic and Historical Guide. While no one suspects something as dreadful as death to happen during carnival time, the description of the catacombs decorated with human remains does not leave anyone indifferent. On the contrary, the reader is fully aware of the critical situation, and notices the quick change in atmosphere, from joyousness to the darkness of the catacombs.

As mentioned in Comedy: A Geographic and Historical Guide, Volume 2, “The gallows irony in Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ (1843) comes from the contrast between the fun of the carnival and the pleasant connotations of the wine cellar when contrasted with ominous words. In the end, Fortunato, who is not so fortunate as his name would imply is entomb alive in a dark wine cellar (Charney 406).

Fortunato is completely immersed in the festive spirit of the carnival and is oblivious to multiple warning signs that could save his life. Unlike the reader, Fortunato takes no heed of them, and proceeds towards his own grave. He is pretty intoxicated as well, so he becomes an easy prey.

2)              The source I am using is credible (reference book).

3)              The piece is well written which is one of the reasons why I chose to use it. The quote itself could have been little longer but is still a valuable contribution to my essay.

4)              The piece is going to be used to elaborate on how the setting of the story (carnival time) contributes to the overall suspense that builds in the reader.

5)              Charney, Maurice. Comedy: A Geographic and Historical Guide. Vol. 2. N.p.: Greenwood Group, 2005. Print.

Research Journal #4

1)              In my research journal #4 I decided to use the book Short Story Criticism (Volume 35)  by Anna Sheets Nesbitt. In my essay, I will be using two segments from this book. The first one has to do with Montresor’s dominance over vain Fortunato. Fortunato is like a mouse who gets caught in the trap set up by his enemy or so-called friend Montresor. What Montresor uses as bait to get Fortunato to cooperate with his morbid plan of execution is Fortunato’s weakness for wine tasting or his “connoisseurship”. Interestingly, in this case, Fortunato follows the Montresor’s pattern of behavior, and displays animosity towards Luchesi since he cannot put up with rivalry. He sees Luchesi inferior to himself, the same way Montresor sees Fortunato.The authors of Short Story Criticism notice:

Ironically, Fortunato makes the same judgment about Luchesi that Montresor makes about him. Because he dislikes him as a rival he considers him incompetent and beneath sympathy (“ And as for Luchesi he cannot tell sherry from Amontillado “). Both victor and victim accept the code although the one lives up to it and the other merely tries to. (Sheets 303)

Both Montresor and Fortunato are vain and do not accept rivalry. However, unlike Montresor who lives up to his hatred for Fortunato by murdering him, Fortunato displays more of a child-like resentment toward Luchesi. His animosity is not deep-rooted.

The second quote is related to the setting of the story and how the characters’ outfits foreshadow the death of Fortunato. In Short Story Criticism, the authors write:

By his wearing of motley Fortunato demeans himself below the level of a gentleman; no true aristocrat would ever willingly consent to make himself appear ridiculous. Montresor is pleased, apparently because it confirms his previous opinion of the man; also, it clarifies what his future role shall be; he will not vindicate his honor against the slight of an equal but administer a deadly rebuke to an insolent pretender. (Sheets 302-303)

Fortunato’s carnival outfit serves as a great excuse to Montresor to see him as his inferior. In Montresor’s eyes, Fortunato is nothing else than an imposter. This helps Montresor justify his actions against Fortunato. Fortunato is dressed like a fool and is treated like one by Montresor.

2)              The book I am using as a source is found in the reference section of the UCC library, which makes it credible.

3)              I really like the chosen quotes and think they make a great point. They support my arguments well, and fit well with the rest of my writing.

4)              The piece is one of the best sources I’ve found so far and will definitely be used in my paper.

5)              Sheets Nesbitt, Anna, Ed. Short Story Criticism. Vol. 35. Detroit: Cengage Gale, 1999. Print.

 

 

 

Adichie’s speech

I am really moved by Adichie’s speech. In a very simple, well-organized speech with a healthy dose of humor, she expresses her feelings regarding stereotypes that all of us are prone to. She touches some other themes such as poverty, racism, and dignity but in a very sharp, inoffensive way. One of her powerful quotes that I particularly like is “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” This could not be truer! The real issue here is that we are so quick to judge others based on very little information provided (sometimes not even any but based on someone’s physical appearance only; be it a skin color, big nose, height or weight). If we only were willing to invest some time and learn more about each other, a lot of tragedies or at least hurt feeling would be prevented.
While I was listening to her speech, I felt embarrassed. I was grateful that no one was next to me to see me turning red ashamed of my own ignorance. Just like the roommate she talks about in her speech, I associate Nigeria with poverty, people dying either from AIDS or starvation. Why? Partially because of my exposure to what she calls “ a single story” and that’s what we hear about most of the time but also because of my own ignorance and failure to find out the other stories and get a more complete picture.

 

Being a foreigner in America, I felt the strength of human bias on my own skin and therefore, I can identify with Adichie. Coming from what the Americans refer to as one of the “second world countries,” I’ve been often asked ridiculous questions such as if we watch TV in Serbia…

 

Response to in-class workshop

Professor Pope,

 The last in-class workshop was absolutely great! Not that I didn’t know how to use sources and incorporate them in research papers, but your detail analysis was very constructive. I used to think that repetitive sentences make an essay look bad, but now I have a much clearer idea about how to repeat or better said “restate” the same thought using slightly different vocabulary.

On a plus side, I don’t think after that class that anyone can come up to you and say that they don’t know how to find or use research material.

You made it simple, easy, and clear!

I honestly have only positive criticism about it!

 

Thank you!:)

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story “The Yellow Wallpaper” describes the mental state of a person who in my opinion suffers from what we call today “postpartum depression.” The person is also the narrator and throughout the story it becomes evident that her mental health gradually worsens. What sounds like a complete paradox is the fact that her husband John, “a physician of high standing”, fails to see that the therapy he prescribes is in fact detrimental to his wife’s well being. He is deaf for her pleas for help. He treats her as a child, not as his equal. He even talks to her in a very infantile way. When she wakes up in the middle of the night, he says to her, “What is it, little girl? Don’t go walking like that–you’ll get cold”. She is even given the room in the house that used to be the nursery. John displays a very superior and controlling behavior over her. Even though she expresses her feelings and communicates her needs for writing and socializing, her husband along with the other members of the family does not acknowledge them. Again, he is a doctor and his ego plays an important role. He cannot possibly be wrong!

Being isolated and idle most of the time, she becomes obsessed with the pattern of the wallpaper. What she makes out of it basically indicates her state of mind. Towards the end of the story she appears almost insane. The author does a great work on describing the pattern and the woman’s behavior. The reader gets completely immersed, all of his senses stimulated.

The narrator identifies with the lady behind the bars who tries to escape. I believe that the narrator herself subconsciously wants to escape from isolation, and potentially her controlling husband, and let her suppressed imagination and creativity lead her back to recovery.