28 November 2008

Frankenstein’s Reflection of Britain and Its Others (British Literature)

Gothic novels during the nineteenth-century reflected the mainstream ideas of Britain about its others through horror, monsters, romance, darkness and death. Written during the period of the Industrial Revolution, the novel raised many issues that could be linked to the fears of English society.Many nineteenth-century English novelists investigated the historical, social, moral, and political aspects of Great Britain. Britain was conquering many lands in the non-Caucasian regions of Asia and Africa. Britain was benefiting from a slave-driven economy in the West Indies.

In the social perspective of the novel being written, the English “Enlightenment” had a skewed view of people in foreign lands. It was part fantasy and part-exoticism. During this time-frame a system of races had been formed. Based only on ethnicity, men were ranked by their race. Europeans commonly referred to the dark Other. Mary Shelley was born and reared in this historically, socially, morally and politically-charged environment and she was affected.

Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein was of particular interest because of the negative views of the Other was profound within the text and helped shape the negative reflections of Britain on its Others.

In H.L. Malchow’s “Frankenstein’s Monster and Images of race in Nineteenth-Century Britain,” he claimed gothic novels of this period allowed humanity to claim the responsibility for remaking and re-shaping creation itself through forced measures.

Malchow focused on the racial interpretation of the novel through the historical, social, moral and political context of the times.

He highlighted Frankenstein’s correlation with the historical aspects of Britain’s emerging industrialized society; the social aspects on views on non-whites, specifically blacks; the moral aspects on abolishing slavery in the West Indies; and the political aspects of the merchant class securing status and wealth (93-100).

Within the novel, the Other was dehumanized, which allowed for common acceptance of the Creature’s ill treatment and isolation. The creature was described as being about eight feet in height, with translucent yellowish skin that "barely disguised the workings of the vessels and muscles underneath", watery, glowing eyes, flowing black hair, black lips, and white teeth (37).

In the same way Malchow investigated images. The image portrayed in a “Scene from the Extravaganza of Frankenstein: or ‘The Model Man,’ at the Adelphi Theatre,” Illustrated in the London News on 12 January 1850, on page 28, was a reflection of the times. He highlighted images that intentionally paralleled the social stereotypes on non-whites as the “monster,” the Other (120).

He highlighted the subconscious messages with the novel beginning with the concepts that were politically inspired by Rousseau, but matured with mid-Victorian pseudo-scientific racism. Europeans were mal-informed on the Other.

The images of the Other within novel are compelling and exemplify Malchow’s argument. Shelley wrote, “His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing…his shriveled complexion, and straight black lips” (37). The yellowness of the creature’s skin instantly signified his Otherness.

The blackness of the creature’s hair and lips exemplified the darkness of the Other. Shelley’s description of the Other was ill-informed and reflective throughout her novel Frankenstein.

Mary Shelley was limited in her representation of the Other. The Other represented anyone outside the English standard of civilization. Though accomplishments in this novel are undeniable, Shelley’s lack of knowledge and respect for the uniqueness and the popularity of the novel greatly affected concepts of the Other within Frankenstein.

One can easily argue that in the nineteenth-century that increased exposure to the Other provoked fear and uneasiness. Whether conscious or unconscious, the fear and sense of uncertainty was revealed within the lines of Frankenstein.

Additionally, Patrick Brantlinger stated that “[Malchow] focus[ed] on the numerous intersections between the literary conventions of the Gothic romance tradition…about race and empire… [and showed] the debates of slavery, abolition, and miscegenation” (698).

Malchow was able to contextualize Frankenstein as it related to slavery and abolition. He highlighted Britain’s issues of race and empire and its reflection in English Gothic literatures such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Though limited in actual experience and encounters with the Other, Shelley’s creature was a reflection of mainstream ideas and thoughts on the Other.

Furthermore, Alicia Thompson’s dissertation “The Frankenstein paradigm: Marginalized literatures as monster and the voice of protest” could be adjusted to analyze the interrelationships in Frankenstein between a dominate Anglo-Saxon culture and a subordinate “Other” that exists within the periphery of society.

The Frankenstein paradigm existed and operated between a white patriarchal domination English society and the marginally oppressed Other. Shelley used of “monster” as “Other” in Frankenstein. Thompson stated, “The issues of identity, flight and monster imagery exposed the foundations of patriarchal acts that dehumanize, oppress and maintain the idea of white supremacy” (24).

Thompson’s assertion can be proven within the confines of the novel. One can deduce that part of Frankenstein's rejection of his creation was the fact that he did not give it a name---giving the creature a lack of identity.The same practice was common in slavery. The taking away of one’s name was instrumental in submission of the slave. With the novel, the creature was referred to by words such as "monster", "creature", "demon", "fiend”,” demonic corpse" and "wretch".

When Victor Frankenstein conversed with the monster in Chapter 10, he addressed the creature as "Devil" and "Vile.” Some have referred to the Creature as "Frankenstein" by pointing out that the creature was Victor Frankenstein's offspring, his creation. Again the practice of slavery was applicable—the idea of forcing the slave-masters name onto the slave.

The practice allowed for complete ownership of another individual. One could also argue that the monster was the invention of Doctor Frankenstein and inventions are often named after the person who invented them. (However one chooses to view)Which ever view one takes, the idea of complete possession another individual was clear. Furthermore Thompson stated, “The Frankenstein paradigm provides a different theoretical lens that allows examination and reflection regarding the nature of interrelationships involved in patriarchal hierarchies that sanction institutionalized racism” (220). Racism was, in essence, fear.

During much of the novel Victor feared the creature's desire to destroy him by killing everyone and everything most dear to him. Within the text, the creature had killed his youngest brother, William, his friend Henry Clerval, and his bride Elizabeth. It must be noted however that the creature was not born evil. It sought only to be loved by its creator, by other humans, and to love a creature like himself. It was mankind who taught the creature to hate and reject.

Victor and the villagers taught the creature rejection and how to be evil. The creature did not feel fear until he realized the reactions of his environment—only then did he understand that he was a monster.Thompson stated, “The subjugated, oppressed other, born into a patriarchal order gazes expecting protection, guidance and love, but reaps cruelty, hatred and rejection” (48). Frankenstein was a product of the mainstream subjugation and oppression of the Other within nineteenth-century English society—the creature was its manifestation.

To reiterate, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was a reflection of Britain and its concepts about its Others. Many gothic novels during this era reflected the mainstream ideas of Britain about its others through horror, monsters, romance, darkness and death--Frankenstein was no exception.Frankenstein highlighted the historical, social, moral, and political aspects of Great Britain.

Works Cited

Brantlinger, Patrick. “Gothic Images of Race in Nineteenth-Century Britain by H. L. Malchow.” Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies. 29.4 (1997): 698-699. JSTOR. 15 March 2008 http://links.jstor.org/search.

Burke, Edmund. “The Sublime and the Beautiful.” The Longman Cultural Edition: Frankenstein. Susan Wolfson. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 212-214.

Malchow, H.L. “Frankenstein’s Monster and Images of Race in Nineteenth-Century Britain.” Past and Present. 139 (1993): 90-130. JSTOR. 10 February 2008 http://links.jstor.org/search.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. “Frankenstein.” The Longman Cultural Edition: Frankenstein. Susan Wolfson. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 1-179.

Thompson, Alicia Rebecca. The Frankenstein paradigm: Marginalized literatures as monster and the voice of protest. Diss. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 1999. AAT 9948379.

23 November 2008

Rhetorical Analysis of “A More Perfect Union” Speech

The speech titled “A More Perfect Union” was delivered by Senator Barack Obama on March 18, 2008 near the historical site of the signing of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The speech responds to the video clip of Barack Obama’s pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, making racially charged comments against America and Israel. The pundits and various news media outlets played the clip repeatedly on the television, radio, YouTube, and podcasts.

First, the Senator’s speech attempts to address the nation on their concerns of his affiliation with Reverend Wright. Second, the speech addresses the sustaining and prevailing issues of race within America and how it paralyzes our nation.

The speech is compelling because it possesses the necessary elements of effective and persuasive rhetoric; in summation, Obama’s rhetoric works. Rhetoric is the study of opposing arguments, misunderstanding, and miscommunication.

Also, relevant to this analysis, rhetoric will be defined as the ability to speak and write effectively and to use language and oratory strategically. Despite the common employment of speech writers by most politicians, Senator Obama wrote the speech himself.

By addressing the misunderstanding and miscommunication connected to and perpetrated by racism in America, the audience sees precisely how effective Obama’s speech is when examined through such lenses as the classical and 20th century rhetorical theories and concepts from Aristotle, Richard Weaver, Stephen Toulmin, Chaim Perelman, and Michel Foucault.

Barack Obama’s speech echoes the rhetorical concepts of ethos, pathos, and logos that are explicitly discussed within Aristotle’s The Rhetoric. Ethos is how the speaker’s character and credibility aids his or her influence of the audience; whereas pathos is a rhetorical device that alters the audience’s perceptions through storytelling and emotional appeals (181). Logos uses reason to construct an argument and to covey an idea (182). Finally, kairos attempts to conceptualize the need for the correct timing (201).

Therefore, ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos are all evident within the speech and expressed in various ways, striking language and repetition, and through different receptors, emotions and logic.

Ethos is accomplished on intellectual, social, spiritual, and biological levels. Senator Obama does this by giving factual information. He interjects historical references; he explains the extent of his family tree. Thus, the Senator gives creditability to his speech and validity to his message. The implication is that everyone should listen; he is the authority.

He acknowledges that the press routinely looks “for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well” (Obama, par. 7). From this quote, the audience is being persuaded by the classical theoretical concepts of opposing arguments.

The audience is fully aware of the division between the races, and the speech is very effective due to the fact that Barack Obama is willing to speak of what is often unspoken. When addressing his intellectual ethos, Obama mentions that he has “gone to some of the best schools in America” (Obama, par. 6).

Secondly, he recites, “We the people, in order to form a more perfect union,” which is easily recognized as the first line in the U.S. Constitution (Obama, par. 2). Even those who do not possess complete knowledge of the famous line immediately understand that something of importance is being conveyed to them.

Thirdly, he demonstrates his awareness of past occurrences and present concerns on the global scale. Senator Obama recalls the “legacy of slavery and Jim Crow” within our nation (Obama, par. 24). He acknowledges the present dangers of “conflicts in the Middle East” and explains the cause of such conflict (Obama, par. 10). The audience is given evidence that he understands the role of history as well as the present-day global concerns affecting our nation.

Furthermore, Senator Obama uses ethos to gain credibility with his knowledge of social issues that pervade our society today. He states, “The most segregated hour of American life occurs on Sunday morning” (Obama, par. 12).

He acknowledges that the resentments of the black and white communities “aren’t always expressed in polite company,” but these resentments are manifested within our society in destructive ways, like racism (Obama, par. 31). The audience feels that he is knowledgeable and credible on the immediate topics affecting our future and our daily lives.

Ethos is also applied on a spiritual level by mentioning his present faith and making Biblical references. He states that “more than twenty years ago [he was] introduce[d] …to Christian faith [with] obligations to love one another, to care for the sick and lift up the poor” (Obama, par. 13). He noted how “black people merg[ed] with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, [and] Ezekiel’s field of dry bones” (Obama, par. 16).

Senator Obama is altering the language. Christians did not exist in the Old Testament story of Ezekiel, but Senator Obama is effectively connecting with every major religion. Simultaneously, he is reaching out to the secular world as well. Being cognizant that everyone does not actively practice a religious faith, Obama chooses stories that everyone, Christians and non-Christians, could identify and recognize. Thus, these religious references connect with masses as well as members of the three major religions.

Finally, Senator Obama gains ethos by explaining his own genetic makeup. He states that he is “the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas… [He continues that he] is married to a Black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slave owners… [Then, he acknowledges that he has] brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins of every race and every hue scattered across three continents” (Obama, par. 6).

In essence, he reveals that he has the blood of Africa, the birthplace of humanity, and the blood of a woman of French descent within him. He has married a woman who has both slave and slave owner flowing within her. Moreover, he has fathered children who have the blood of humanity: African, European, slave, and the Caucasian slave owner within them. Thus, he is an authority on race.

He states, “[his] story [is] seared into [his] genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more that the sum of its parts--that out of many, we are truly one” (Obama, par. 6). The audience revels at his remarkable story, and ethos is achieved through storytelling. In essence, Obama forges a biological connection with his audience.

The connection is strengthened through Senator Obama’s use of pathos. It is achieved through the use of emotional appeals. He alters the thoughts and feelings of his audience through storytelling, imagery, and allusion. The topic of race, within itself, evokes strong emotions, even to this very moment, this very second.

The senator begins by telling a story of his grandfather “who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s army during World War II” (Obama, par. 6). The use of key terms such as Depression, Patton’s army, and World War II evoke the emotional responses of patriotism and self-sacrifice.

Toward the end of his speech, Obama shares another story; he tells of a young, white, Southern campaigner--Ashley Baia--who inspires an old, black, Southern man to vote (Obama, par. 45-46). In essence, Baia encourages pathos by telling her story. Barack Obama uses Baia’s story of inspiration to highlight the power in sharing his own story.

The audience is able to connect through the emotional appeals that take place at the very core of humanity. It is easy to disrespect and dishonor something that is foreign and unknown, but it is hard to turn away from the essence of another man’s soul. As fellow humans, the audience recognizes the sheer humanity in the story.

Pathos is also achieved through the use of allusion and imagery. The imagery that is provoked with terms such as slave or slavery is still poignant today. Most people are cognizant of the plight of slaves within this country. The audience would be aware of the racism that ensued and the devastation and isolation that slavery caused in American history.

When Barack Obama describes the various ways that racism manifested within our society, pathos is achieved because of the powerful imagery of the allusions to race and racial conflicts within our community. The audience is trapped and becomes aware of the prejudices and experiences of race and racism within their own lives, thus causing emotions to surge and overflow.

Pathos, being the weakest form of rhetoric, is utilized by Senator Obama sparingly. Instead, he overwhelmingly utilizes the most powerful form of rhetoric, logos. Logos is the ability to embody rational, logical, methodical thoughts and persuasions.

As it relates to Obama’s speech, examples of logos are found throughout the text. For example, by displaying objectivity, the element of logos is achieved. Senator Barack Obama methodically explains the problems with race within America, and he gives logical, reasoned resolutions to the problems.

He explains, “The anger [of Blacks and] the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away, nor has the anger and bitterness of those years… [Later he offers resolution and states that] the African-American community [must embrace] our past without becoming victims of our past” (Obama, par. 34).

Many African-Americans will identify with Obama’s assessment of race within the African-American community, and they will be inspired to act in a positive manner.

Simultaneously, he acknowledges “a similar anger within…the white community. They [feel] they’ve worked hard all their lives…They are anxious about their future, and they feel their dreams slipping away [and] resentment builds over time… [Furthermore, he offers resolution and urges that] the white community [must acknowledge] that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination [exists]” (Obama, par. 36).

From these lines, the audience is persuaded to respond in a positive manner as well, and they are urged to approach the subject of racism both subjectively and objectively. Senator Obama recognizes the duality of both plights and asks the American people not to blame each other but investigate and seek out the true reason of conflict within our nation.

Thus, Obama is using inductive and deductive reasoning, which is indicative of logos. By utilizing Aristotle’s method and system, Obama’s appeals to logic are beyond reproach. Once his reasons are defined, he states that this is the time that we must take action and secure our future together, and Obama begins to preach on the importance of time.

The issue of time and timing directly correlates with the classical rhetorical term kairos. Obama conveys time in a powerful fashion. In the beginning of his speech, he states, “Two hundred and twenty one years ago [our forefathers]…produced [a document that was] eventually signed, but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by the nation’s original sin of slavery [that] brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least 20 more years, and leave any final resolution to future generations” (Obama, par. 3).

Later, he explains how people often manipulate race to win political elections and prevent unity. Barack Obama speaks of the continual war between segments of our community. Then he states, “But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now” (Obama, par. 23).

Furthermore, he acknowledges “the complexities of race” in America have never been resolved. He urges Americans “to come together and solve [the] challenges [in America]” (Obama, par. 33). He persuades the audience to racial relations within America a priority.

In summary, kairos is aggressively addressed and highlighted. The audience realizes that the problem at hand may have been ignored by our forefathers, but these problems must be addressed now.

Toward the end, kairos reaches its peak of effectiveness. Obama states that what has been effectively dividing the races in the past will not happen again:

Not this time. This time we want to talk about crumbling schools…This time we want to reject the cynicism…This time we want to talk about [healthcare]…This time we want to talk about [jobs]…This time we want to talk about [race]…This time—This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag (Obama, par. 40-41).

From these lines, the audience feels the urgency of time; the listeners realize that “this time” America must act. Obama effectually uses the sophistic rhetorical theories and concepts to ignite and unite the audience; however, he also incorporates modern-day rhetorical theories and concepts as well.

Specifically, Senator Obama utilizes the hierarchy of definition, analogy, cause and effect, and testimony of the 20th century rhetorician, Richard Weaver. In the introduction of Language Is Sermonic, the narrator summates Weaver as stating, “Rhetoric…is a positive act with consequences in the world…Every utterance is an attempt to make others see the world in a particular way and accept the values implicit in that point of view” (1348).

Similarly, Obama desires to persuade the audience to see the world from a different perspective, a different lens.

First, toward the beginning of the text, Obama defines the Black church. He states, “Black churches across the country embod[y] the community in its entirety—the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger…[S]ervices are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor... [Full] of kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love [as well as] the bitterness and biases” (Obama, par. 18).

If one really looks closely at the definition, it is also a definition of America as well as the Black church. By explaining the polarity within the Black church, he explains the polarity within America as a whole.

In this way, Obama uses rhetoric in a positive way to impact his audience and highlights that “every utterance is an attempt to make others see the world in a particular way [through definition].”

Second, Weaver asserts, “Rhetoric [is] the most important of all ends, the persuading of human beings to adopt right attitudes and act in response to them” (1351). From these lines, one can examine Senator Obama’s use of twentieth century rhetorical theories and concepts. Obama uses “cause-and-effect” by illustrating the history of racism within the United States (1354). He states:

We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that existed between the African-American community and the larger American community today can be traced directly to inequalities passed from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow (Obama, par. 24).

In essence, Obama is stating that the racism today has a sordid past in our history; it can not be ignored, but it must be confronted, discussed, and acted upon. Obama is using this cause-and-effect to play on the emotions of his audience.

Everyone is aware of the gruesome history, yet, as Weaver puts it, “Humanity includes emotionality or the capacity to feel and suffer, to know pleasure” (1352). From these lines, it is obvious that Senator Obama uses cause-and-effect to evoke an emotional response and sway the audience to his point of view.

Furthermore, Barack Obama utilizes the elements outlined by Stephen Toulmin’s The Uses of Argument. He uses the schema of the six components in analyzing arguments: qualifier, claim, data, warrant, backing, and rebuttal.

The qualifier is the “word or phrase [that] expresses the speaker’s degree of force or certainty concerning the claim” (1418). Next, the claim is the “conclusion whose merit must be established” (1417). Then, the data is the “fact we appeal to as a foundation for the claim” (1417). The warrant is “the statement authorizing our movement from the data to the claim” (1419).

The backing is the “credential designed to certify the statement expressed in the warrant; backing must be introduced when the warrant itself is not convincing enough to the readers or the listeners” (1420). Finally, the rebuttal is the “statement recognizing the restrictions to which the claim may legitimately be applied” (1421). The following examples show how Obama’s speech utilizes these principles as well:

First, by working together, we can move beyond some (qualifier) of our old racial wounds (claim) by virtue of asserting a firm conviction, a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people (data), because we have no choice if we are to continue on a path of a more perfect union (warrant), as we know it’s a racial stalemate we’ve been struck in for years (backing)…

Second, the vast majority (qualifier) of Americans want the issue of race to be resolved (claim) by virtue of the desire to perfect our society by young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election (data), because there is hope in the next generation (warrant)…(Obama, par. 33, 42)

Similarly, as a rhetor, Obama uses Chaim Perelman’s techniques to connect to his audience. Perelman’s The Realm of Rhetoric states, “The importance of rhetoric, of the psychological technique which acts upon the hearer’s will in order to obtain his adherence…[B]y showing that for any subject there are two opposing discourses…the existences of one single truth [is denied]” (1379).

From these lines, the audience can assume that Senator Obama verbalizes the plight of black, white, and brown Americans. He dismisses a single truth, and Obama accepts multiple truths within a society. He promotes inclusion and commonality among all people despite socio-economics or race, and Obama encourages them to look at both sides of the argument. Thus, he uses psychological techniques in order to connect with his audience.

Similar to Aristotle’s rhetorical concept of kairos, in Chaim Perelman’s The New Rhetoric: A Theory of Practical Reasoning he states, “‘Political speaking’…urges us either to do or not to do something” (1387).

Not this time. This time we want to talk about crumbling schools…This time we want to reject the cynicism…This time we want to talk about [healthcare]…This time we want to talk about [jobs]…This time we want to talk about [race]…This time—This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag (Obama, par. 40-41).

From these lines, Obama is calling for action. He is urging the audience to respond and respond now. Using anaphora, the importance of acting now is echoed over and over again. It provokes emotion, pathos. He is promoting social cohesion in his audience.

Furthermore, Perelman states, “Things present, things near to us in space and time, act directly on our sensibility” (1395). Obama’s speech parallels this concept. Obama begins by making allusions to America’s historic past:

Two hundred and twenty one years ago [our forefathers]…in a hall that still stands across the street…produced [a document that was] eventually signed, but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by the nation’s original sin of slavery [that] brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least 20 more years, and leave any final resolution to future generations (Obama, par. 23).

From this quote, Obama even reflects the idea of time, past and present, in the very location in which the speech is given. He is connecting the past to the present. This quote highlights the importance of the location of Obama’s speech on race, and how the event at the location has made the present setting possible.

Finally, Michel Foucault’s The Order of Discourse can easily be applied to Senator Barack Obama’s speech on race in America; the political speech delivered in March 2008 concerned the taboo subjects of racism and how racism affected our religious rhetoric.

According to the text, Foucault remarks, “The desire to locate truth in something other than discourse itself has…spawned several mistaken beliefs… [Foucault questions] the will to truth [and attempts to] restore to discourse its character as an event” (1432).

Likewise Obama seeks to locate truth in his own experiences and through the invitation of discourse with the audience. Senator Obama discusses the discourse of race in America in a reasonable and logical manner, yet he also seems sincere, full of character, and an expert on the topic.

Toward the beginning of The Order of Discourse, Foucault states, “I should not like to have to enter this risky order of discourse” (1460). Obama’s speech is a risky order of discourse. Racism in America is, in many ways, ingrained and embedded within the culture. There are deep wounds that accompany a deeply wounded history.

Foucault remarks, “In a society like ours…We know quite well that we do not have the right to say everything, that we cannot speak of just anything in any circumstances whatever, and that not everyone has the right to speak of anything” (1461). Foucault’s statement sums up Senator Obama’s dilemma. His pastor has spoken words that should not have been uttered—publically at least.

Obama states, “We’ve heard my former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation and that rightly offend white and black alike” (Obama, par. 8). In our society, it is simply not acceptable to transmit racism in a public and formal manner.

Racism exists, but it is most often in the subtleties and comforts of familiar spaces and private homes. Thus, Obama’s willingness to have an honest conversation on the taboo subject of racism in America is a risky order of discourse.

To reiterate, the speech delivered by Barack Obama in March 2008 exemplifies effective rhetorical theories and concepts. Obama hopes to heal America’s turbulent racial legacy and move forward, from the negativity of the past, in a positive, logical manner through ethos, pathos, and logos appeals.

First, Senator Obama argues against the long standing racial climate that exists within American society. Second, he broaches subjects that are often discussed in the private sphere but rarely discussed openly. Third, he wants the audience to know that he is an articulate, vibrant, and diverse African-American man who is capable of leading this country forward. Finally, he uses rhetoric to calm the misunderstanding of his personage and his controversial affiliation.

In essence, he uses many elements that are exemplified in the classical and modern-day study of rhetoric, blends and expands new rhetorical devices in order to elevate the message, and effectively reaches a broad audience composed of multiple ethnic groups, multiple religions, and multiple socio-economic divisions.

Through the rhetoric of language in the speech, Senator Obama proposes to have an honest conversation on race and unite the historical racial divide. In summary, the speech effectively connects to the audience through the multi-media of rhetoric.

Works Cited

Bizzell, Patricia and Bruce Herzberg, eds. _The Rhetorical Tradition_, 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2001.

Aristotle. From_Rhetoric_. In Bizzell and Herzberg. 169-241.

Foucault, Michel. From _The Order of Discourse_. In Bizzell and Herzberg. 1460-1470.

Perelman, Chaim. From _The Realm of Rhetoric_. In Bizzell and Herzberg. 1379-1384.

Perelman, Chaim. From _The New Rhetoric: A Theory of Practical Reasoning_. In Bizzell and Herzberg. 1384-1409.

Toulmin, Stephen. From _The Uses of Argument_. In Bizzell and Herzberg. 1413-1428.

Weaver, Richard. From _Language Is Sermonic_. In Bizzell and Herzberg. 1351-1360.

Obama, Barack. "A More Perfect Union." Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 18 March 2008.

18 November 2008

Senator Barack Obama's "A More Perfect Union" and Michel Foucault’s The Order of Discourse (Rhetorical Theory)

Michel Foucault’s The Order of Discourse can easily apply to Senator Barack Obama’s speech, "A More Perfect Union," that addresses race in America; the political speech delivered on 18 March 2008 concerned the taboo subject of racism and how racism affected our religious rhetoric. According to the text, “Foucault remarks that the tendency of Western philosophy since the demise of the Sophists has been to deny discourse its own reality…The desire to locate truth in something other than discourse itself has…spawned several mistaken beliefs…[Foucault questioned] the will to truth [and attempted to] restore to discourse its character as an event” (1432). Likewise Obama seeks to “locate truth” in discourse. Senator Obama discusses the discourse of race in America in a reasonable and logical manner, yet he also seems sincere, full of character, and an expert on the topic. Toward the beginning of The Order of Discourse, Foucault states, “I should not like to have to enter this risky order of discourse” (1460). Obama’s speech is a “risky order of discourse.” Racism in America is, in many ways, ingrained and embedded within the American culture. Deep wounds still exist as well as a deeply wounded history. Foucault remarks, “In a society like ours, the procedure as exclusion are well known…We know quite well that we do not have the right to say everything, that we cannot speak of just anything in any circumstances whatever, and that not everyone has the right to speak of anything” (1461). Foucault’s statement sums up Senator Obama’s dilemma. His pastor has made spoken words and should not have been uttered, publicly at least. Obama states, “We’ve heard my former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation and that rightly offend white and black alike.” In our society, it is simply not acceptable to transmit racism in a public and formal manner. Racism exists, but it is most often in the subtleties and comforts of familiar spaces and private home. Thus, Obama’s willingness to have an honest conversation on the taboo subject of racism in America is and was a “risky order of discourse.”

08 November 2008

Role of Women (Middle Eastern Literature)

The role of women in Naguib Mahfouz’s The Journey of Ibn Fattouma is varied and alters according to the situation and their faith. As for his mother, Fattouma al-Azhari, is a protector and sounding board for Qindil. She tells Qindil that his birthday is “really her day…[His] birth brought both conformation of his [half-siblings] defeat and renewal of their fury” (2, 3). Qindil is aware of his isolation from his siblings and the circumstances that caused the separation. The narrator speaks of Fattouma lovingly. She provides a good education for her son, takes an active part in his education, compliments him and tells him his faults. The narrator states, “My mother was happy at what I was gaining day by day and participated in shaping me by her love and her beauty…Never did she hesitate to express her admiration for my handsomeness, though telling me with the same frankness, ‘Your words often disturb my peace of mind…It’s as though you see only the ugly side of life’” (7). From these lines, the audience senses that Fattouma was a good and caring mother, as well as an honest one. In essence, she is important in shaping Qindil’s early years. For the most part, she offers him a gentle wisdom. Overall, the women play instrumental roles in the development and evolution of Qindil. He states, “I have been betrayed by religion, betrayed by my mother, betrayed by Halima. God’s curse be upon this adulterated land!” (13). From these lines, the audience perceives why Qindil begins a journey of this magnitude. The disappointment with Halima Adli al-Tantawi’s is a catalyst, in and of itself, but it is ignited fully by his perception of his mother’s betrayal. With Halima, Qindil does not have an intimate or fully expressed relationship. It is only the idea of what it could have been. He is mostly struck by her beauty and form, not her personality. Qindil’s first physical relationship occurs in Mashriq with a pagan woman, Arousa. She is nude and sexually free; she does not have sexual inhibitions. In sum, she distresses Qindil. Furthermore, he states, “She was…bronze and naked, but her face closely resembled Halima, my lost love” (24). At this point Qindil allows the reader to become aware that he is still clinging to the past. Next, he remarks, “Arousa gave birth to her first child…[and acted] as though she had produced him on her own and I had nothing to do with it” (47). Arousa proves to be the source of his torment in many other cases as well. However, in the torment, Qindil grows, evolves, and finds small truths in his journey. Through the pain comes knowledge and enlightenment. In Halba, Qindil meets and marries Samia, a physician. Through the relation, Qindil’s faith in Islam strengthens and matures. Arousa ruins the relationship, but in the end Qindil realizes that “continuing to be attached to Arousa is a meaningless self-delusion” (98). Finally, it appears that when he no longer seeks female relationships that his enlightenment blossoms. In summary, Qindil is greatly affected by the women in his life. Women are the catalysts that direct and redirect his actions, over and over again. They affect his journey from the beginning to the end. In a way, the women make the journey possible, by stimulating Qindil’s reactions. Thus, he achieves enlightenment through his encounters with women.

30 October 2008

The Significance of the Journey in 20th Century Middle Eastern Literature

When most people think of a journey, they think of traveling and experiencing various cultures. In Naguib Mahfouz’s The Journey of Ibn Fattouma, the journey represents much more. Qindil, the protagonist, travels on a simultaneous inner and outer journey. Superficially, he is experiencing new people, beliefs, and cultures, but he is also changing as the journey continues. He is evolving into a new man with every experience; he is traveling toward perfection. Initially, Qindil explains, “During his discourse he [Sheikh Maghagha al-Gibeili] talked about a certain ancient traveler…He spoke so liberally that I lived in my imagination the vast lands of the Muslims, and my own homeland seemed to me like a star in a sky crammed with stars” (5). From these quotes, the narrator is foreshadowing the never-ending journey of Qindil; it’s like the vast celestial universe. The Sheikh recalls his own journey and his regrets. The Sheikh states, “The circumstances of life and family made me forget the most important objective of the journey, which was to visit the land of Gebel…It’s as though it were the miracle of countries, as though it were perfection itself, incomparable perfection” (6). From these lines, the audience can sense that Qindil is intrigued and mesmerized by the description. Qindil will not be stopped by “the circumstances of life and family.” He will reach the most important objective; he will see Gebel. Next, through Qindil’s responses and questions, the audience is privy to his thought processes. He has a desire to explore, to see, and possibly the propensity to evolve. The Sheikh continues describing his personal journey. He recalls, “I have never in my life…met a human being who has paid it a visit, nor have I found a book or manuscript about it [Gebel]...It’s a closed secret” (6). From this quote, the audience assumes that Gebel represents the obscurity of knowledge. The narrator writes, “And like any closed secret it drew me to its edge and plunged me into its darkness. My imagination was fired. Whenever I was upset by a word or action, my soul fluttered around the land of Gebel” (6-7). From these quotes, the audience becomes aware of the continual foreshadowing. The rising action of the novel is preparing the audience for Qindil’s upcoming travels. Losing Halima Adli at-Tantawi is the catalyst Qindil needed to journey and appease his soul and his desire. The narrator writes, “An inner voice told me that I would be the first human being to be given the chance of touring the land of Gebel and making known its secrets to the world” (22). The true journey is his journey into the exploration of Islam. Furthermore, Qindil’s journey into Islam is foreshadowed in the first few pages. Qindil asks, “If Islam is as you say it is, why are the streets packed with poor and ignorant people?” (4). The Sheikh answers, “Islam today skulks in the mosques and doesn’t go beyond them to the outside world” (4). As a result, Qindil remarks, “Then it is Satan who is controlling us, not the Revelation…I am upset by injustice, poverty, and ignorance” (4, 7). From the dialogue, the audience is able to see how Qindil’s perceptions are forming; the audience is cognizant of the ideas that are growing in his consciousness. Qindil will not practice Islam in the mosques; he will search for it and analyze it during his journey. Thus, the journey is a search for meaning, but it is also an evolution of character and faith. The journey is an experience that Qindil relishes. Each experience represents a new lesson, a new step in evolving. In Mashriq, Qindil experiences the polar opposite of the teachings of Islam; he witnesses nudity and idol worship. He asks, “What land is this that hurls a young man like me into the flames of Temptation!” (23). From the quote, the audience realizes that this is a new experience for Qindil. Next, he reveals, “I pondered over the torments suffered by human beings in this life and wondered [if] in fact there was to be found in the land of Gebel the elixir for all ills” (29). From the quote, the audience realizes that Qindil is learning and growing. He asserts, “I gave myself over to my thoughts in a miserable state of languor until, all of a sudden, my ear was pierced by a shout for help. I jump to my feet in a state of readiness and found myself in utter darkness. I quickly grasped that I had been asleep, that in fact sleep, that in fact sleep was covering the whole universe. I had awoken early” (33). As proof of his evolution, he senses some awareness of being in darkness as well as the state of his surrounding. He is obtaining knowledge. The lack of religion in Mashriq aids him in obtaining a clearer picture of Islam. Also, he also experiences the turbulence of a romantic relationship with a pagan woman, Arousa. He realizes that it is a personal choice to follow Islam; she makes a choice not to practice the faith. In essence, one must choose Islam; it does not choose you. In Haira, Qindil experiences the cause-and-effect of war and the elation of freedom. It can be implied that he learns that Islam represents freedom from bondage which can not be paid for, as illustrated in his failed attempt to purchase Arousa. There are many implications, but one idea is solid; he is experiencing and evolving on his journey. In Halba, Qindil attempts love once more with Samia, a Muslim female pediatrician. With Samia, Qindil learns to respect Islam, but abandons a present love for a past love. This could parallel to his love of Islam; he must not forsake his first love, Islam. Next, Qindil journeys to Aman where freedom is suppressed. Thus, Islam is suppressed. Finally, it is in Ghuroub that Qindil prepares for his “beginning” in Gebel. Ghuroub represents the love of reason and logic, knowledge and wisdom. Here Qindil is able to evolve, grow, and prepare for Gebel, to achieve perfection. The Sheikh prophesy of “never [having]…met a human being who has paid it a visit, nor have I found a book or manuscript about it...It’s a closed secret” is realized (6). The audience will never know the secret, but possibly Qindil will know it. Qindil has the opportunity to reach perfection and obtain the secret of Gebel. In essence, initially Qindil “pondered about how we embellish our longings with luminous words of piety, and how we conceal our shyness with firebrands of dive inspiration” (13). But slowly, with each journey within the journey, he progresses and obtains enlightenment. This assertion is implied in the very first lines of the novel. The narrator states, “Life and death, dreaming and wakefulness: stations for the perplexed soul. It transverses the stage by stage, taking signs and hints from things, groping about in the sea of darkness, clinging stubbornly to hope that smilingly renews itself” (1). In sum, the first lines tell why Qindil must journey for so long. He must learn lessons from each experience; he must evolve into a new man. With each journey, his faith increases and strengthens as he reaches for perfection.

28 October 2008

Response to Palmer’s The Promise of the Father: Chapter One (Rhetoric and Composition)

The Promise of the Father by Phoebe Palmer is an “argument in defense of women’s public ministry” (1089). She begins her argument by stating “Do not be startled…We do not intend to discuss the question of ‘Women’s Rights’ or of ‘Women’s Preaching,’” but, in a sense, that is exactly what she does; it is simply veiled by religious activity. The text is full of the words: we, us, and our. Additionally, she poses some fifteen rhetorical questions and uses numerous enthymemes. Palmer is definitely making a connection. She is placing all women in the same situation that she faces as she attempts to promote God’s word. Yet she attempts to assure men that she does not aim to take their leadership roles; she is simply doing God’s will. Yet near the end of the text, she contradicts those statements. Initially, she states, “But we have never conceived that it would be subservient to the happiness, usefulness, or dignity of woman, were she permitted to occupy a prominent part in legislative hall, or take a leading position in the orderings of church conventions. Ordinarily, these are not the circumstances where woman can best serve her generation according to the will of God” (1095). But she asserts, “It is in the order of God that woman may occasionally be brought out of the ordinary sphere of action, and occupy in either church or state positions of high responsibility…The God of providence will enable her to meet the emergency with becoming dignity, wisdom, and womanly grace.” Toward the middle of the text, she assures men that Adam was before Eve, and men were in a superior position and are the “first in creation, long as time endures.” However, in the end she states, “Not only will the women of this age have to do with the women of the future age, but, as the men of the future age will have had their early training mostly from the women of the present age, how greatly have women to do with the destines of the moral and religious world!” (1099). In order to back her claim, she proceeds to give biblical examples of where women served in Christian leadership roles. She mentions Deborah, a judge of Israel who was instrumental in leading a fierce, but victorious battle. Palmer states, “She led forth the armies of God to glorious conquest…not because there were not men in Israel [but because of her faith and wisdom.]” She asserts that Huldah, the prophetess who proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, was sought out for council by the king because she possessed the “momentous trust, involving the destinies of her country” (1096). She goes on to mention Queen Victoria and Mary as well. After backing her claims with “modern and ancient” examples, she goes on to address to origin of the conflict on whether or not women should minster the word of God. But first she addresses the naysayers. She reminds her audience that no one ever questioned whether or not the women mentioned above could lead; instead, “we only speak of their being pious, earnest, [and] Christian wom[en].” Then she poses the question, “Whose head the tongue of fire has descended” and who would have Christian women silenced? She states, “It is the power of an ever-present Jesus that the Spirit would have her testify; but the seal of silence has been placed on her lips. And who has placed the seal of silence on those Heaven-touched lips? Who would restrain the lips of those whom God has endued with the gift of utterance...?” She addresses the origin of the conflict. She dissects Paul’s letter as it related to the women of Corinth. She argues that Paul’s instructions where specific for that particular church, not all women in all churches. In essence, she effectively used rhetoric to argue a point in a logical and methodical way. She gradually elevated the tension within the text through words, rhetorical questions, and stories. She systematically took apart the argument that women should not minister God’s word. In the last paragraph, the text climaxes, she names her accusers. She states, “We feel that there is a wrong…which has long been depressing the hearts of the most devotedly pious women. And this wrong is inflicted by pious men [who] imagine that they are doing God service in putting a seal upon lips which God has commanded to speak…But…as we believe ignorance they have done it. Now ignorance will involve guilt” (1099). Palmer’s argument is a call to action for both women and men.

17 October 2008

A Reader–Response Criticism: Meant to be Appreciated (Southern Literature)

Today, when the temperature changes and the season becomes anew, it is easy to remember living in a rural Georgia community. What I do recall is that although the area lacked an abundance of extracurricular facilities for its youth, it was rich in other things—tradition, heritage and family—and stagnant but as colorful as an old hand-worked quilt in any home, even today. These quilts can be found in every home. I have several in my possession as well. Some were given to me as gifts for various occasions from my grandmothers, my aunts, my mother and the church “sisters” from our community. In my family, the trade of quilting has been passed down for generations. As stated in the analysis “In Spite of It All: A Reading of Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use’” in the African American Review, Sam Whitsitt quoted Barbara T. Christian’s assertion that “the metaphor of quilting to represent the creative legacy that African Americans have inherited from their maternal ancestors” (443). Alice Walker has been instrumental in analyzing the value of the quilt in the black experience. Most black experiences are unique yet similar, for instance many share life experiences. I remember from my parent’s backyard, I could see a family pond that was surrounded by the homes of my relatives. It still exists today as an 84 acre plot of houses owned and operated, with small gardens on the side or in the back, by family members. I shared that experience with two siblings and sixty three cousins. Characterized by personal development, social elevation and cultural awareness, Alice Walker presented a distinct analysis of these concepts in the short story “Everyday Use.” Being caught in the middle of two ideologies were three family members, Mrs. Johnson, Maggie and Dee/Wangero. The vastness of the short story can be analyzed through the reader-response approach. Recognizing that different readers will have different responses to the work of literature at variable life stages and life experiences that are specific to the reader’s evaluation of the text. The characteristics of personal development, social elevation and cultural awareness of the three main characters, Mrs. Johnson, Maggie and Dee/Wangero will be discussed and examined. This year, during my re-entrance into the collegiate setting in English studies, I, a young African-American woman from the South—a second career advent—was delighted to choose a career path beyond that of Respiratory Therapy. I had truly believed my calling to be a clinician but I had not truly appreciated my uniqueness and love of literature and spoken word. With the enthusiasm of a recent student, I am challenging my beliefs and reconsidering the understandings of my Southern history and traditions, to “revise [my] notions of what constitutes [a] sense of place, political agenda, race and class" (630). I was born and reared in Roberta, Georgia, which is approximately a forty-five minute drive from Eatonton, Georgia, where Alice Walker was born and reared (556). As a child, my mother loved to read poems written by Walker, as she thought television to be the death of us. While reading Steven Mailloux’s Reading in Critical Theory, I realized each reader responds differently to the text. My reading of Alice Walker’s short story “Everyday Use” and my continuing evaluation of my childhood and my love of quilting has lead me to analyze my life and its place as it relates to the short story (1149). I began quilting around the age of ten, during the summer when school was not in session. My aunt never learned to knit or crochet, but she was a phenomenal quilter. Aunt Mattie Pearl Blasingame took a special interest in me. A quiet woman of menial means, Aunt Mattie Pearl sold quilts to aid in the financial status of her home. She was actually my great-great aunt but those specific distinctions were not routinely made in my family, then or now. She was not well educated and could read very little, but she had memorized passages of Scripture and could tell virtually every major story in the Holy Bible. Financially and educationally deprived, Aunt Mattie Pearl was emotionally depressed as well. Creating meaning and experience to the text to be analyzed, her husband, Uncle Josephus, was a farmer and they had eleven children whom did not visit very often. Uncle Joe was a bit of a tyrant and suffered many of the emotional ills of black men of his day. He needed to control something; his obedient and submissive wife was the perfect victim. To further aid in processing the text, Aunt Mattie Pearl’s grand-daughter, Laura, commissioned her for quilts and obtained orders from everywhere. Laura was a recent graduate from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. Not knowing the worth of the quilts, Aunt Mattie Pearl sold the quilts for $25.00 a piece. She was ecstatic and reveled in the financial gain, but her bruised hands told another story. With her new found wealth, her life began to change. As a child, I could not understand why that part of the family was so odd. My mother would tell us that it was not Aunt Mattie Pearl, but “it was that crazy Uncle Joe.” She surmised he did not know any better and did not want any better. He alienated his family from the community. My father and uncles would go down and take food or offer to do handy man jobs around the house. Uncle Joe was old and unable to do any hard physical labor—the sight of their home told the story all too well—but he would refuse and would politely say “if I need ya, I’ll call ya”—they did not have a telephone. Constantly working to provide financial means for her family, Aunt Mattie Pearl would make three to four quilts a week. As soon as they were made, she would sell them. Aunt Mattie Pearl was always positive despite her circumstances. She always sang as she quilted. She was proud of her accomplishments and for the first time people commented on her wonderful smile. Why not rest, I once asked. “When the Lord gives you a way out, take it,” she responded and busily began a new quilt. These memories with Aunt Mattie Pearl forced me to analyze my views of Alice Walker’s short story, not to mention to examine my own position about culture and heritage. If Mrs. Johnson was the uneducated woman living in rural Georgia and the matriarch of her family, Aunt Mattie Pearl was the antitype (631). If Maggie, the stay at home daughter in the story, was the meek and devoted daughter, Laura was the antitype. And if Dee/Wangero was the culturally aware and educated daughter, I was the antitype. Both Mrs. Johnson and Aunt Mattie Pearl were family matriarchs: Mrs. Johnson supported her family and worked hard, along with the Church, to send Dee “to Augusta to school” (559). Likewise Aunt Mattie Pearl would make quilts and give Laura “spending change” while she matriculated Georgia College and State University. Both women were uneducated and living in rural communities in substandard housing. Both women took on the overseer role for their families. And both knew the importance of an education, despite not being able to obtain one themselves. They were stout women who desired the best for their families. Both Maggie and Laura were devoted “daughters” in the truest sense of the word: Maggie stayed around the home and aided her mother in cleaning the yard and other domestic duties. Likewise Laura cared for her grandmother and desired to aid her in financial stability by soliciting orders for her quilts. She did not seek to change her grandmother or teach her a new trade. Instead she embraced what her grandmother knew well and helped her to make it profitable. Both women took on supportive roles and aided the matriarchs of their respective families. Also like Maggie, Laura showed a sense of true cultural enlightenment in her appreciation and respect for character. Both women accepted the matriarchs in their family as they were and did not attempt to change or mold them into something better or more than they were. They simply embraced the person, not flowery notions of what they should be. Maggie remembered the stories of her ancestors and could recall them at will. Maggie was in touch with her family history and was deeply rooted in her heritage. Both Dee and I possessed a cultural awareness that has been aided through education. Like Dee I have chosen to embrace the characteristics of my ethnicity; we both expressed this with natural hair texture. As in Dee’s childhood, I loved the audience of the family as I read and re-read stories. My family members listened intently and surely must have felt some “tiredness” of it all. Education was important to my family and they are still are a driving force for me. Like Dee, I also appreciate my cultural and ethnic identity; but unlike Dee, I do not reject my personal history or try to exploit its circumstances. Mailloux asserted a component of a “reader-response criticism actually attempts to define a critical “movement” and therefore helps establish and disseminate it as well” (1150). This is further explained by Barbara Christian in the first paragraph of her introduction of “'Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker” that “the Black Power Movement and the Second Wave of the Feminist Movement [are] two social interventions that define the literary commitments…and shape[d] our viewpoints about the social commitment to higher education (308). After this time period, African Americans exhibited a social commitment to higher learning. Dee was out-of-touch in her willingness to cling to a culture that she had not direct ties. By taking on the new name Wangero, and denying her generational name Dee, she lost touch with the concept of heritage. Her birth name had meaning and significant but Dee was unable to conceptualize that fact. In Walker’s story, Dee has returned only to obtain certain items that she deemed historically and culturally valuable. Prior to embracing her family, she thought it necessary to take pictures of her mother, a cow, and the shack in which they lived. Dee was on a mission of sorts in order to obtain and secure their historical wealth—their heritage. The house similar to the one she reveled as it burned to the ground became an architectural masterpiece. The bench that represented poverty as a child was now a piece of art. The irony and paradoxical duality of these occurrences brought to life her [Dee’s] out-of-touch personality. Mrs. Johnson noted the way Dee and Hakim-a-barber, her companion, had a conversation that was above her comprehension with their eyes. Like Dee’s appreciation of the quilts, I display special quilts on my walls at my home. And occasionally on a quiet evening, I simply stare at them, appreciate them, and find a sense of peace. Unlike Dee/Wangero whose motives were a paradoxical irony—something she detested, she also wanted to preserve; something that was beneath her was something of supreme value. I believe Dee/Wangero was not sinister or evil but acted out of her need for preservation. She saw the value of her heritage and the main motive was of good origin--preservation of history. She realized that a remnant of a deep and rich past was bound in the quilts. I am similarly interested in preserving the history of my family through restoration of family photographs and preservation of quilts and other items, for example, the copy of my great-grandparents wedding photo frame. Many critics have faulted Dee/Wangero for being out of touch with the needs of her family and attempting to exploit their ignorance to material value. I almost faulted her as well. Although I can identify with her efforts, I do not identify with her methods. It had been years since I read the story of “Everyday Use” and now I have a clearer understanding and a newer appreciation for things of the past. These things matter and are a part of my culture. I recognize that the story of “Everyday Use” is a strong testament to my own history, “that this paper, if quilt-like in its narrative”, is a paradoxical and physical metaphor for the narrative and is designed to be displayed in our hearts, designed to be displayed on our walls and designed to be used every day, simultaneously (634). Works Cited Christian, Barbara T. “’Everyday Use’ by Alice Walker.” African American Review. 30.2 (1996): 308-309. JSTOR.16 October 2007 . Mailloux, Steven. “Reader-Response Criticism: From Formalism to Post-Structuralism” Comparative Literature. 96.5 (1981): 1149-1159. JSTOR.16 October 2007 <>. Torsney, Cheryl B. “Everyday Use: My Sojourn at Parchman Farm.” Literature and Its Writers: A Compact Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 4th ed. Ed. Ann Charters and Samuel Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 630-634. Whitsitt, Sam. “In Spite of It All: A Reading of Alice Walker’s ‘Everyday Use.’” African American Review. 34.3 (2000): 443-459. JSTOR.16 October 2007 < http://links.jstor.org/search>. Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use.” Literature and Its Writers: A Compact Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 4th ed. Ed. Ann Charters and Samuel Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 556-564.

16 October 2008

Shakespeare Character Analysis: The Character of Leonato in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare)

In casually reading Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, the play centers around six major characters: Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon; his companions Benedick, of Padua and Claudio, of Florence; Hero, Leonato’s daughter; Beatrice, Leonato’s niece; and Don John, the bastard brother of Don Pedro (1416). If one analyzes the text closely, it becomes obvious that the minor character Leonato, governor of Messina, makes all the necessary connections needed for the plot of Much Ado About Nothing to succeed. The audience learns about Leonato through his words and responses. Observing the interactions of the six main characters, the governor of Messina is instrumental in the progression of the play. Through his verbal interactions, the audience perceives the full personality profile of Leonato. Throughout the rising action, climax, and resolution of the play, the character of Leonato is instrumental in every major scene and interacts with every major character. The governor’s importance and moral distinction are highlighted in the reception of the letter; the initial introduction and greeting of his guests; the guidance of his relatives; the interaction between other characters; and the response to his daughter’s dishonor. Even though Leonato, governor of Messina, is a minor character, he accomplishes a great deal within the one hundred and twenty lines in which he is given. A superficial analysis of Leonato is needed in order to grasp the close reading of his words and responses. The character remains in the Messina, a Sicilian city, throughout the duration of the play; the entire plot plays out within the confines of his estate. He is a round character that is original and memorable. Being dynamic, he experiences a transformation within the play. Leonato is hospitable to guests, concerned for loved ones, and an authority of what is just and fair. These superficial qualities allow the audience to perceive the deeper strengths in his character. Leonato, the governor of Messina, opens the play by receiving a letter from a man of honor. He states, “I learn in this letter that Don Pedro of Aragon comes this night to Messina” (1.1.1-2). From these lines, the audience realizes that Leonato’s social position is important and that he is hospitable. Leonato eagerly makes preparations for his guests. Thus, Leonato’s response gives clues into his character. Through his responses, the audience assumes that he is thoughtful and considerate, as well as important. The fact that Don Pedro is writing him and requesting temporary residence at his home conveys a sense of importance to the audience. In essence, the response, alongside his social standing, gives Leonato a trait that is characteristic of a compassionate man of importance. The characterization of Leonato makes the play possible or feasible in the eyes of the audience, and he is able to connect with the characters and the audience as well. Moreover, the importance of Leonato is highlighted when he introduces the guests through his conversation with the messenger, and when he initially greets his guests on their arrival. He remarks, “A victory is twice itself when the achiever [Don Pedro] brings home full numbers. I find that Don Pedro hath bestowed much honour on a young Florentine called Claudio” (1.1.7-9). In these lines, Leonato is informing the audience of the major characters within the play. From the beginning, through Leonato, the audience knows the prestige associated with the visit. Next, Leonato tells Beatrice, “Faith, niece, you tax Signor Benedick too much. But he’ll be meet with you, I doubt it not” (1.1.38-39). From this quote, the audience gains clues of the major character’s personalities. Furthermore, he explains to the messenger, “You must not, sir, mistake my niece. There is a kind of merry war betwixt Signor Benedick and her. They never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit between them” (1.1.49-51). Through these lines, the audience is given more information on the major characters, and the audience suspects a plot formation. Thus, elements of Leonato’s character are expounded on by displaying his position, words, and responses. Leonato introduces the major characters to the plot, and aids the audience in understanding the major characters. Furthermore, it is Leonato who greets the guests; thus, his level of importance is expounded upon. The audience also glimpses his character as a human being through his words and responses in this interaction. Upon greeting his guests, Leonato implies the need for the social linguistics that take place between social authorities. Leonato states, “Never came trouble to my house in the likeness of your grace [Don Pedro]; for trouble being gone, comfort should remain, but when you depart from me, sorrow abides and happiness takes his leave” (1.1.80-83). Through the interaction, the audience further recognizes the “governly” status of Leonato. Moreover, the governor addresses Don John, the bastard brother of Don Pedro, in the same manner of courtesy. He states, “If you swear, my lord, you shall not be forsworn. Let me bid you welcome, my lord. Being reconciled to the Prince your brother, I owe you all duty” (1.1.124-126). From these lines, the audience is aware of Leonato’s graciousness and social importance. He connects with the audience; when the major characters disappoint him, it is Leonato who commands the pity from the reader. Leonardo epitomizes a good human being. Through the greeting, the audience becomes aware of his graciousness and outstanding character. The greeting allows the audience to care about his state of being. Also, the audience cares about the character of Leonato because he is concerned with the well-being of his family. Leonato provides guidance to his relatives. He is instrumental in the union between Claudio and his daughter, Hero. The governor has been informed of the conversation between Don Pedro and Claudio. He states, “No, no. We will hold it as a dream till it appear itself. But I will acquaint my daughter withal, that she may be the better prepared for an answer if peradventure this be true. Go you and tell her of it” (1.2.17-20). From this quote, the audience realizes that Leonato is wise and discrete; if he had acted on the information provided to him, he would have been in error. Simultaneously, the audience was aware that nothing happens without Leonato’s awareness, thus highlighting his importance. The audience assumes that Leonato is in control and acts justly and cautiously. Thus, when Don John and Claudio betray Hero’s honor, the audience is cognizant of Leonato’s graciousness in the past and is able to identify with him. Leonato’s character matters, because without him the audience will not have a moral standard to judge the major characters. Moreover, Leonato’s guiding hand is illustrated in his correction of Beatrice, his orphaned niece. It is Leonato that calls attention to the severity of Beatrice’s language. He argues, “By my troth, niece, thou wilt never get thee a husband if thou be so shrewd of thy tongue” (2.1.16-17). From these lines, the audience acknowledges Leonato to be a social standard. The audience realizes that he is straightforward in nature. Also, his words and responses are indicative of the correct form of communication; he is in a position of authority of what is socially acceptable and what is expected. Through Leonato, Beatrice’s inadequacies and abruptness in language are highlighted. Furthermore, Leonato has the authority to give social advice to Hero. He urges, “Daughter, remember what I told you. If the Prince do solicit you in that kind, you know your answer” (2.1.55-56). Through these words, the audience recognizes the guiding hand of Leonato. He is motivated to keep his family on the right path. The audience draws the conclusion by analyzing Leonato’s words and responses, thus offering insight into his nature as a human being. Throughout the play, Leonato possesses the moral code and strives the do what is right and proper. Furthermore, Leonato is important in the personal relationships of his relatives. It is Leonato who blesses the union between Claudio and Hero. He states, “Count, take of me my daughter, and with her my fortunes. His grace hath made the match, and all grace say amen to it” (2.1.263-265). From these lines, the moral code of Leonato is reaffirmed. The audience is able to judge Leonato by what he does. He shows kindness and concern; therefore, he is a good and upright man. Leonato is also instrumental in the union between Benedick and Beatrice. He participates in the deception that unites the couple. In the garden, he remarks: No, nor I neither. But most wonderful that she [Beatrice] should dote on Signor Benedick, whom she hath in all outward behaviours seemed ever to abhor…By my troth, my lord, I cannot tell what to think of it. But that she loves him with an enraged affection, it is past the infinite of thought…I would have sworn it [her spirit] had, my lord, especially against Benedick. (2.3.89-91, 93-95, 108-109) From these quotes, the audience acknowledges that Leonato knows the difference between good and evil. He willingly deceives Benedick in order to achieve a greater good. In essence, Leonato knows what is best for Benedick and Beatrice even if they, themselves, do not. Thus, Leonato is able to adapt to the situation; he is a dynamic character. Moreover, the governor is aware of his influence on social matters. Complementing Leonato’s age and perceived character, Benedick believes that Beatrice loves him because it is verbalized by Leonato. Benedick states, “I should think this is a gull, but that the white-bearded fellow speaks it. Knavery cannot, sure, hide himself in such reverence” (2.3.110-112). From these lines, the audience is reassured of Leonato’s character and moral standing. He is perceived by those around him to be a man of stature and authority. He is a respected and honest man; therefore, Benedick must believe what he overhears. Also through these lines, the audience catches a glimpse of what Leonato looks like; we know that he is an older man. Benedick’s comment of Leonato’s “white-beard” makes the point clear. In sum, the audience is able to perceive Leonato’s importance and view what motivates the character. Leonato’s importance is also highlighted in his interaction with other characters. The audience glimpses another view into the character of Leonato from his interaction with the Dogberry, the constable and Verges, the headborough. Despite the fact they are of a lower class, Leonato greets them with respect. Leonato says, “What would you with me, honest neighbour?...What is it, my good friends” (3.5.1, 7). In bidding them farewell, he remarks, “Drink some wine ere you go. Fare you well” (3.5.46). From these lines, the audience realizes Leonato is a good person, a moral standard. He treats the men with respect, thus adding insight into his character. Leonato epitomizes the social standard and creates the “mark” that all the other characters are judged against. The roundness and dynamicity of Leonato comes to fruition during his words and responses to his daughter’s dishonor. When the unrealized marriage scene between Claudio and Hero takes place, the audience, through Leonato’s words and responses, recognizes the severity of the scene. Leonato, who has been so aware of the social dealings within his home, is at a loss for wisdom in words and responses. He asks Claudio, “What do you mean, my lord?” (4.1.41). He is devastated and argues, “Dear my lord, if you in your own proof [.] Have vanquished the resistance of her youth [.] And made defeat of her virginity—” (4.1.43-45). From these lines, the audience realizes that Leonato, the social standard, has lost all awareness. He gasps, “Are these things spoken, or do I but dream?” (4.1.64). From this line, the audience understands there is a loss of all social order. The governor cries, “O fate, take not away thy heavy hand. Death is the fairest cover for her shame [.] That may be wished for” (4.1.112-114). Through these lines, the audience recognizes the total reversal of Leonato’s character. In previous scenes, the governor was wise and discrete; the audience is cognizant of the social chaos through Leonato’s words and responses. Leonato is fully alive and in pain; his plight is significant, because the author has established his importance. Toward the end of the scene, Leonato begins to regain stability, and questions the major male characters as they relate to his daughter’s dishonor. He announces, “If they speak but truth of her [.] These hands shall tear her. If they wrong her honour [.] The proudest of them shall well hear of it. Time hath not yet so dried this blood of mine, Nor age so eat up my invention” (4.1.189-193). From these quotes, the audience realizes that Leonato is a force to be reckoned with, and the audience is aware of his multi-dimensionality within the play. Still, Leonato remains the sounding board for the audience. He represents the social standard and by him all other characters are measured. Further highlighting his roundness and dynamicity, the governor provides the reader with a host of emotions and thus illuminates the plot of Hero, his daughter. Leonato states, “I pray thee [Antonio, his brother] cease thy counsel, Which falls into mine ears as profitless…Nor let no comforter delight mine ear [.] But such a one whose wrongs do suit with mine. Bring me a father that so loved his child” (5.1.3-4, 6-8). Through these lines, the audience understands the plight of Leonato and identifies with him. Through his grief, the audience remembers his character in previous scenes and cares about him. Leonato’s words and responses allow the audience to further analyze his character and consider his motivation. Leonato is a concerned family man who promotes harmony and unity within his household. He possesses the essence of humanity. Moreover, it is the governor who re-stabilizes in the play. He states, “My soul doth tell me Hero is belied, And that shall Claudio know, so shall the Prince, And all of them that thus dishonour her” (5.1.42-44). Also, it is Leonato that prevents Don Pedro and Claudio from leaving his residence until the truth is revealed. He challenges Claudio. Leonato argues, “Tush, tush, man, never fleer and jest at me…Know Claudio to thy head, Thou hast so wronged mine innocent child and me [.] That I am forced to lay me reverence by…Do challenge thee to trial of a man. I say thou hast belied mine innocent child. Thy slander hath gone through and through her heart, And she lies buried with her ancestors” (5.1.58, 62-64, 66-69). From these quotes, the audience recognizes a change in emotional stability. Leonato is actively reasserting his authority. The social standard has been resurrected. Leonato takes control of the situation and through his leadership Hero’s honor is restored. Toward the end of the play, the governor addresses the persons who aided Don John in his dishonorable scheme. He gnarls, “Art thou the slave that with thy breath hast killed Mine innocent child?” (5.1.247-248). From these lines, the audience envisions Leonato’s appearance as a man of authority and identifies with his motivations to preserve his daughter’s honor. In this scene, Leonato is illustrating his elite status and his position as a social authority. He heads the investigation, and the others follow his leadership. Leonato remains the social sounding board. After clearing his daughter’s name, he boldly asserts, “So are the Prince and Claudio who accused her [.] Upon the error that you heard debated” (5.4.2-3). From this quote, the audience sees Leonato as an authentic character that fights for his family and justice. These are attributes that the audience readily reverences. Furthermore, Leonato reaffirms his role as family guide, and he directs and orchestrates the actions of his relatives. He tells Hero and Beatrice, “Well, daughter, and you gentlewomen all, Withdraw into a chamber by yourselves, And when I send for you come hither masked. The Prince and Claudio promised by this hour. To visit me” (5.4.10-14). From these lines, the audience acknowledges that Leonato is back in control and all is well and back to normal. It is Leonato who possesses the guiding hand in which the major characters are directed. Without the governor, the plot could not have been feasible or successful. In summary, Leonato, the governor of Messina, is instrumental in the movement and actions of the major characters of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. He provides the audience with a “mark” to measure the other characters. Through his words and responses, the audience senses his morality and importance. Being a round and dynamic character, Leonato is not expendable in the plot of Much Ado About Nothing. It is through his character that the plot becomes feasible and believable. The character of Leonato is instrumental in every major scene and interacts with every major character; without Leonato there could not have been a Much Ado About Nothing.

Weekly Literary Inspiration

There is only one success, to be able to spend your life in your own way. --Anonymous

11 October 2008

Shakespeare and Education (Shakespeare in Popular Culture)

In viewing the YouTube video Comic Relief - Catherine Tate & David Tennant during a Linguistics class, I realized that William Shakespeare is embedded within every aspect of the modern-day education. The video epitomizes the “Shakespeare omnipresence in our modern culture.” The sixteenth and seventeenth century poet and playwright engulf the educational criteria from England to American to the Middle East. Shakespeare is a world wide phenomenon with a timeless flare. The British sitcom points to this phenomenon and timeless flare. Initially, a substitute professor enters the room. He asks the class to turn to a Shakespearean sonnet. A female student interrupts the progression of class by questioning his ability to teach the class; he is of Scottish descent. Furthermore, she insults Shakespeare and states he is “pointless, repetitious and dull.” At this moment, the English teacher loses his composure and vehemently defends Shakespeare as a genius. Moreover, he insults the student and insinuates that she is not intelligent. Then, the student loses her composure and recites the sonnet in its entirety, thus reclaiming her credibility as a person to be reckoned with on the manner of Shakespeare. Shakespeare symbolizes excellence. It was presented in a comical way, but the sitcom epitomizes the ideals of Shakespeare within our culture. The sitcom is indicative of the very comical way in which Shakespeare addressed issues within his culture. There is a dialogue exchanged between two people, going back and forth, with twisted and manipulated language. In the end, one force is overcome by the other and resolution is achieved. To piggy back on the sitcom, the Scottish teacher is able to teach the Elizabethan poetry because it was a part of “his” education as well; it is not just a component of a British education. He defends Shakespeare instead of defending his own heritage. Even after the matter of the female student has been resolved, the English teacher recites a few lines of Shakespeare as well. The unstated message is clear; Shakespeare belongs to everyone. Also, the sitcom highlights the level of penetration that Shakespeare has achieved within the modern day education. Most people are able to remember Shakespeare being taught, in some fashion, in elementary school. None would deny that they can remember every grade level, after elementary school, addressing some piece of Shakespeare. In order to obtain a college degree, despite your major, you are exposed to Shakespeare. Shakespeare is all around us, but he is especially predominating within our modern day educational system. In essence, William Shakespeare has been and seemingly will be a continual presence in a variety of cultures. The way he uses language is intriguing and attracts all cultures for its sheer creativity. The plots are still compelling today because they are timeless. William Shakespeare has made an indelible mark on popular culture, but he is most loved with the field of educational excellence. Please see links column for the YouTube video. It is located under Shakespeare and Popular Culture.

09 October 2008

Shakespeare Rationale 1 Henry IV 2.4 lines 19-84: Passionate Discourse and Hurt Feelings (Shakespeare)

The context of the moment is very important in the scene. If, the reader had not been allowed to read the letter along with Hotspur, the emotion of the scene would have been different. The interaction between Hotspur and his wife becomes an intriguing one because of the context. In Act 2.4, after Hotspur reads the letter, it is obvious that he is spirited and he is preparing for battle. He states, “Hang him! Let him tell the King we are prepared; I will set forward tonight” (1207). Then his wife, Lady Percy, enters the room and the mood changes immediately. He informs her of his need to leave their home within hours. Lady Percy begins addressing him in a sweet and seductive manner. She asks, “For what offence have I this fortnight been a banished woman from my Harry’s bed?” The language of the text changes; it seems as if her address is to be read as poetry, not prose. She seems to speak to him in a loving manner at this point of the dialogue. I imagine that she is touching or stroking him in some manner. There definitely should be body contact in order for the message to be made clearer. Hotspur does not acknowledge her pleas for him to stay home. Instead, he calls for the servant. Then, she asks him to hear what she is saying. She states, “But hear you, my lord.” Only then does he acknowledge her, he asks, “What sayst thou, my lady?” I believe he is a bit annoyed by her questions and he lies to her. Then abruptly the mood changes. This should be reflected in the stage lighting as well, in order to bring attention to the next transactions in dialogue. Lady Percy no longer acts as a lady. She knows that her husband is lying. Her tone changes. She remarks, “Out, you mad-headed ape!...In faith, I’ll know your business, Harry, that I will.” Her body language as well as her voice must change in order to highlight her discontent. Next, she calls him on his lie and states the real reason that he is leaving. She states, “I fear my brother Mortimer…hath sent for you to line his enterprise.” Then, she threatens him, she argues, “…but if you go---.” Next she degrades him, by saying, “Come, come, you paraquito, answer me.” It is an insult. She knows Hotspur is often hot tempered and speaks when he should not. She is calling him out on his weaknesses of character. Moreover, she makes another threat. She remarks, “In faith, I’ll break thy little finger, Harry, An if thou will not tell me all things true.” The statement can be a threat and insult. The threat of disfiguring his “manhood”, but the insult of calling his “manhood” little. Finally, Hotspur reacts in a violent manner. He barks, “Away, away, you trifler! Love? I love thee not, I care not for thee, Kate.” He responds in a manner that he hopes would injure her in some fashion. Whether she shows any reaction to his assault would be an indicator of her true nature. Is she hurt, or is she unshaken? That is an important question.

07 October 2008

Compare/Contrast Pre-Islamic Poetry and 20th Century Middle Eastern Poetry (Middle Eastern Literature)

Pre-Islamic poetry and 20th Century Middle Eastern poetry remarkably possess similar themes and utilizes effective language. Despite these similarities, they also demonstrate distinctive differences as well. Pre-Islamic poetry is considered to exist among a pagan society in Middle East, before the rise and spread of Islam. “The Poem of Imru-Ul-Quais” is believed to have been written before 622 C.E.. Whereas, 20th-Century Middle Eastern poetry, of course, is the modern-day poetry of the era in which we are living. Nizar Qabbani’s poem, “Jerusalem,” is indicative of this 20th-Century poetry. Despite the time lapses, many comparisons and contrasts can be made between the language and rhetorical devices of Pre-Islamic and Modern-day Middle Eastern poetry. In analyzing “The Poem of Imru-Ul-Quais,” a well known Pre-Islamic poem of Arabia, one immediately realizes the effective use of language. The tone of the poem is subjective and focused on the poet and his feelings; no religious reference is made. The poem is distinctively descriptive and sometimes musical. The themes are love, egotism, nature, and pain. Furthermore, the poem uses many rhetorical devices, but the most prominent is simile and anaphora. First, the descriptive language of the poem is conveyed within the lines. In describing his lost love, the poet remarks: She was slender of waist, and full in the ankle. / Thin-waisted, white-skinned, slender of body, / her breast shining polished like a mirror. / In complexion she is like the first egg of the ostrich---white, mixed with yellow. (58-61) The poet places a great deal of detail in the description of his love. Moreover, he uses descriptive language to explain the physical attributes of his horse. He states: Well-bred was he, long-bodied, outstripping the wild beasts in speed / Bay-colored, and so smooth the saddle slips from him, as the rain from a smooth stone, / Thin but full of life, fire boils within him like the snorting of a boiling kettle; / He has the flanks of a buck, the legs of an ostrich, and the gallop of a wolf. (92, 94-95, 99) The descriptive language is compelling and effective. It provides the words into visual pictures for the reader. Second, the lines are sometimes musical as well. The poet seems to be aware that a certain combination of words can create a distinction in sound. One line demonstrates the technique more than any other. In line 46 the poets states, “Many a fair one, whose tent can not be sought by others, have I enjoyed playing with.” The line is musical, especially if it is read as an iambic line. Moreover, the theme of love gleams the lines of the poem. The poet makes several references to his present and past loves. The first line asks the reader to “stop, oh my friends, let us pause to weep over the remembrance of my beloved.” Next, he remarks, “The follies of men cease with youth, but my heart does not cease to love you” (79). References of the love the poet feels is intertwined within the entire poem. Love is the major theme. Also, a coherent theme of the poem is the subjective and egotistical stance of the poet. It is blatant to the reader. Not only is the poet often egotistical, he is somewhat arrogant as well. In line 46, he states, “Many a fair one, whose tent can not be sought by others, have I enjoyed playing with.” Next, he explains he has spent “many pleasant days…with fair women / Many a beautiful woman like you, Oh Unaizah, have I visited at night ” (21, 35). Another theme is the impact of nature in the poet’s environment. He describes many different settings of the landscape. First, he comments, “I stood in the gardens of our tribe, / Amid the acacia-shrubs where my eyes were blinded with tears by the smart from the bursting pods of colocynth” (7-9). Next, he mentions, “The South wind blows the sand over them the North wind sweeps it away” (4). Finally, he references, “I sat down with my companions and watched the lightning and the coming storm / So mighty was the storm that it hurled upon their faces the huge kanahbul trees,” (114, 117). Through these lines, the reader realizes the impact of nature on the poet’s life. The last important theme is pain. The poet’s pain is caused by the loss of his love. The poet states, “As I lament in the place made desolate, my friends stop their camels; / They cry to me “Do not die of grief; bear this sorrow patiently.” / Nay, the cure of my sorrow must come from gushing tears” (10-12). Furthermore, he explains, “Thus the tears flowed down on my breast, remembering the days of love; / The tears wetted even my sword-belt, so tender was my love” (19-20). In essence, the poet expression of pain is intertwined within the lines of the poem, alongside the love that he once felt for his lost love. Aside for the language and themes, the poem utilizes a host of rhetorical devices. The most prominent is simile which is evident within the lines of “The Poem of Imru-Ul-Quais.” Many examples can be found within the poem. Most poignant, the poet remarks, “Fair were they also, diffusing the odor of musk as they moved, / Like the soft zephyr bringing with it the scent of the clove” (17-18). Then, he states, “The fat was woven with the lean like loose fringes of white twisted silk” (28). Next, he explains, “She turns away, and shows her smooth cheek, forbidding with a glancing eye, / Like that of a wild animal, with young, in the desert of Wajrah. / And shows a neck like the neck of a white deer” (63-65). When describing his love, the poet recalls, “Her form is like the stem of a palm-tree bending over from the weight of its fruit” (72). The poet describes his love; he states, “In the evening she brightens the darkness, as if she were the light-tower of a monk” (76). When addressing the encampment of his love, he recalls, “The dung of the wild deer lies there thick as the seeds of pepper” (6). Simile is a major component of the poem. Also, the poet uses anaphora as a rhetorical device. In the last lines of the poem, a clear example of anaphora is epitomized. He announces: As though a Yemani merchant were spreading out all the rich clothes from his trunks, / As though the little birds of the valley of Jiwana awakened in the morning / As though all the wild beasts has been covered with sand and mud, like the onion’s root bulbs / They were drowned and lost in the depths of the desert at evening. (126-127, 129-130) The poet draws emphasis to the last line of the poem by using anaphora. It is an effective and timeless use of language which is still effective today. In 20th-Century Middle Eastern poetry, the same analysis can be applied. In analyzing Qabbani’s “Jerusalem,” one also immediately recognizes the effective use of language. However, there is one striking difference; the poem has a religious tone. The poem is distinctively descriptive. However, instead of the major theme being love; overwhelmingly, the prevalent themes are pain, doubt, and hope. Furthermore, the poem uses many rhetorical devices, but the most prominent is metaphor, anaphora, personification and the rhetorical question. First, the descriptive language of the poem is conveyed within the lines. By describing his sorrow and pain, the poet remarks, “I wept until my tears were dry / I prayed until the candles flickered / I knelt until the floor creaked” (1-3). The opening lines are powerful and indicative of the effective use of descriptive language. Also, the poet effectively combines descriptive language and repetition to evoke powerful imagery for the reader. He states: City of the virgin, your eyes are sad / City swathed in black, who’ll ring the bells / City of sorrows, a huge tear / Jerusalem, beloved city of mine / My city, city of olives and peace. (9, 13, 17, 22, 30) The language is thought-provoking as well as image-provoking. The poet understands how language can affect the reader. The major themes of the poem are pain, doubt and hope. The poet expresses these themes through metaphor, anaphora, personification and the rhetorical question. He states, “Jerusalem, you of the myriad minarets, / become a beautiful little girl with burned fingers” (7-8). This is a poignant metaphor of pain and suffering. The writer speaks of a society in which its children are burned, disfigured. Next, he conveys pain and doubt through the anaphora and the rhetorical question. He asks: City swathed in black, who’ll ring the bells / Who will carry toys to children / Who’ll save the Bible? / Who’ll save the Qur’an? / Who will save Christ, who will save man? The message of pain and doubt is evident to the reader. Though the images, pathos is achieved. Next, the poet uses personification to expand on the themes of pain and doubt. He notes, “The stones of your streets grow sad” (11). Finally through personification, he gives the reader a shimmer of hope. He states: “Jerusalem, beloved city of mine, / Tomorrow you lemon trees will bloom, / your green stalks and branches rise up joyful, / and your eyes will laugh” (22-25). In summary, Pre-Islamic and 20th Century Poetry can not be read by Western standards. It has its own beauty and form. The reader can not look for iambic pentameter, or rhymes schemes; the reader must place close attention to the imagery displayed the use of descriptive language and rhetorical devices. Although very different in length, structure, ideology, and religious reference, “The Poem of Imru-Ul-Quais” and “Jerusalem” possess many similarities in the usage of effective language.

03 October 2008

“The Life You Save May Be Your Own” by Flannery O’Connor (Southern Literature)

The “heart of the story” lies with the possibility of transformation in Mr. Tom T. Shiftlet. He is a wanderer. He approaches the home of an old woman and her mute daughter, Lucynell Crater, as the sun is setting. They live on a dilapidated plantation that is in need of repair. The old woman does not see him as a threat. The woman attempts to marry off her mute daughter by offering him material gain. She wanted someone to aid her in the maintenance of the estate. The transformation of Mr. Shiftlet occurs in three parts as they relate to Lucynell. Initially, he rejects the mute woman. It is only after he envisions material gain that he considers the young woman. He states, he “always wanted an automobile but he had never been able to afford one before.” He moves into their home. Then he marries Lucynell. He does maintenance around the estate and on the car and teaches Lucynell a word. He leaves her in the end. He is not whole physically or emotionally; he is missing part of his left arm. If he had chosen to remain with Lucynell they could have filled the voids within their lives. They could have met each other’s needs.

Weekly Literary Inspiration

You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without having victims. --Harriet Woods