Reflection #5- Yeats: Sailing to Byzantium
Yeats's poems are mosiac and distorted like Picasso's works. Yeats's poem, Sailing to Byzanntium, has themes about life and aging. As well as descriptions of art and the mortality v. immorality. The First stanza states that " That is no country for old men" .It talks about a fast pace world- time of change- and how generations come and go but life is temporary. s The poem then goes on to describe the grecian urn and how it represents a stamp in time- it reflects the creature/ time period. Yeats continues to talk about how the attractions of this world are distractions from immortality.This city of Byzantium represents a What does Byzantium represent? - a place of art where people can have a holy spiritual artisitic experiance. The ending stanza then talks about immortality. and a spirit that transends time and is "of what is past, or passing, or to come." Basically, Yeat says that art is timless and it speaks to us in past present or future. He would want to turn into art so he can live forever.
Reflection #4: Notes from the Underground
Dostoevsky, in writing this novel creates the underground man who is extremely alienated from the rest of society. This man writes, a confused and often contradictory set of pieces describing and explaining his alienation from modern society. He complains that man's primary desire is to exercise his free will even though it may not be the best thing. He says that people are willing to do bad and stupid things simply because they have free will. the underground man critiques "capitalist progress" and self-interest. He is that man is inhertly irrational and believes in the unconciousnes. He describes rational ideas as creating a prison. An example he gives is of the " crystal palace" ( which is under surveillance bc you can see people through the crystal). This palace shows that because of modernity, things have changed. Overall, the novel hints at existentialism in which the underground man refuse to go along with the rest of society-individual alienation.
Reflection #3- Maggie: A Girl of the Streets
Maggie: A girl of the Streets was an 1893 novella by Stephen Crane. Crane had trouble publishing the book because many publishers considered it too risky so, Crane financed the publication of the book himself. This novella takes place in a New York neighborhood in Manhattan and was published during the time of industrialization. The novella was inspired by French naturalism. Naturalism was a literary movement that used realism to portray that social conditions and environment had inescapable force in shaping human character. Many themes of the novella are no free will, pessimism, and the focus on the scientific underlying forces that shape a person. The book was written to replicate a believable everyday reality.
The language of the book is very descriptive and vivid- crane uses a lot of adjectives. Irony is also a key component throughout the book. An example is in chapter 1, how a “very little boy stood upon a heap of gravel for the honor of Rum Alley”. This is ironic because “little boy” and “honor” don’t go hand in hand. the fight seemed so grand and “warlike” until the father came and made it seem childish and petty. Also, the way that the characters are talking is written exactly the way they would actually say it. This gives the book a very realistic feel. Crane wants portray the streets realistically and does this by using the rhythms of street talk and its slang. Also, at many times the readers may become confused and lost in this style of speech but that is part of it.
Reflection #2: The Searchers
The Searchers, directed by John Ford, is a western movie that is distinctively American in setting and characters. There is the typical conflict between Native Americans and the white Americans where the winner is always the white “American hero”. The film is filled with archetypal characters with stereotypes of Native Americans, Mexicans, and even whites. The “hero” or the loner of this film is played by John Wayne who is known to play characters that are supposedly truly American. This racism may not be a reflection of John Ford’s views. However, I believe that Ford purposefully included many racist and stereotypical characters to reflect the tensions at the time between Native Americans and whites at the time. During the movie one of the rangers was speaking with Ethan and stated, “It’s hard to believe they are white…” and Ethan replied, “They ain’t white anymore, they are Comanche”. He portrayed racism as a flaw because by the end of the movie, Ethan began to accept Debbie as integrated into Native American culture. There is also a theme of the Manifest Destiny that is portrayed in the movie; how, the whites are destined to stretch from the east to the west. Ironically, the frontier society that believes this seems a little uncivilized and rough in their way of living. Yet, they are basically kicking Native Americans out of their own land and calling them savages.
Reflection #1: Song of Myself- Whitman
Song of Myself by Walt Whitman encompasses the many aspects of what it means to be American. Specifically, Whitman speaks of his own experience as an American as the working man. However, he also seems to act as a mystical figure in the poem (as though he is one with all and everything). Whitman uses a variety of different styles. This ranges from being informal (conversation like) to being a very formal written stanza. But, the most important aspect of his poem in my opinion is his contradiction between the desire for individuality and for the community or the identification with others. He is celebrating himself and what it means to be American as he says in the first line, “I celebrate myself, and sing myself”. However he is also celebrating America as a whole in lines 5-15 of part 16 as he mentions specific locations in America. By doing this, he is trying to show one nation united and that everyone is equal. He especially enforces the idea about equality, specifically the equality of men and women, in line 5-6 about how it is as “great to be a woman as to be a man” and that “there is nothing greater than a mother of men”. He also enforces this idea of equality through the constant use of “he and she” throughout the poem. More generally, Whitman believes that everyone should be treated fairly under America’s democratic society or else “whoever degrades another degrades me [Whitman]”. There is also a big connection between nature and humans in this poem. This is especially true when he is describing how he was created; “my tongue, every atom of my blood, formed from this soil, this air…” A line which I find really interesting because it touches upon death as something good to some degree is on line 2 of section 7 which says, “Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her it is just as lucky to die, and I know it”. And of course, there are Walt Whitman’s famous lines which come towards the end of the poem, “do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes)”. This line thinks about humans as contradictory beings and how we (humans) want to be individuals but at the same tie we want to fit in.