Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Overview of the Semester

I would have to say that my favorite piece of literature that we ready this semester was Dante's inferno.  Mainly because I have read it before and it was a lot easier to understand, and the imagery made it easy to follow along.  Everything was separated out into different circles and pouches which made it so much easier to follow along.

My least favorite piece of literature would have to be King Lear.  I have never been good at interpreting and understanding Shakespeare.  Each night of reading the play I would have to go on No Fear Shakespeare and read the play in modern language, and then I would go back and read the actually play written by Shakespeare himself.

I think the purpose of literature is to expand our mind, and open it up to new thoughts, ideas, belief systems, and culture.  It has allowed me to vastly expand my knowledge of the subject, and helped me in interpreting many of the pieces of literature that we have read this semester.  It was interesting to read literature from a variety of cultures all the way from Japanese to European.  Some of them were more difficult to understand than others, but in the end it gave me a better idea and perspective on the values and beliefs of other cultures.

I really wish that we could have read the Odyssey as it has always been one of my favorite stories to read, mainly because of the number of crazy gods with different personalities and powers.  I am somewhat disappointed we did not have the opportunity to read it this year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Gloucester, Edgar and Lear

While reading Act 4 I came across a specific part that interested me.  Edgar takes Gloucester to the Cliffs of Dover in order for the old man to commit suicide by jumping off.  The cliff is described as being so tall that the people walking on the beach below appear to be the size of mice, while the boats do not look much bigger.  At this point Gloucester is blind after his scruffle with Cornwall. He is coping with this opposing hatred upon himself by wanting to jump off of a cliff.  Edgar is smart for lying to Gloucester saying that he was descending off of the cliff.  Gloucester believes it because he doesn't know any better because he cannot tell whats around him, and his sense of proprioception or where he is in space is obviously blocked because of this blindness.  Although it makes me wonder how Gloucester didn't realize that Edgar was lying to him.  Clearly Gloucester was suffering no pain, so there is no way he could have fell the distance that Edgar was describing.  Edgar also saves Gloucester later in the play by jumping in front of a sword for him and killing Oswald.

I get a feeling that in this play there is a theme of confusion.  Gloucester is confused early on in Act 4, but he is not the only one, Lear is confused himself.  Its almost as if Edgar and Cordelia keep Lear and Gloucester somewhat sane, while Goneril and Regan only cause trouble for the two.  At the end of act four when Cordelia is speaking to Lear and trying to wake him up from his anger driven sleep due to his evil daughters, it is clear the compassion she has for her father.  They share tears, and she comforts him with her love, and Cordelia is the only person recognized by Lear as soon as he wakes from his "Coma."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Storm

So now that we no that King Lear is selfish and and begs his daughters to keep the knights, he becomes enraged at that and decides to leave the castle.  I did not see this coming, I mean what difference does it make if Lear has 25 knights or 50.  He seems a little selfish at this point thinking he needs all of these people to protect them, which then again may make sense because he is becoming very old and he needs all of the help and guidance, and reassurance that he can get.

Lear storms out of the castle and is frustrated and takes the Fool along with him.  The Fool does him no good throughout his frustrated battle through the storm, but who would expect him to?  It is storming, thundering. lightning, and is even described as so intense that it keeps the animals hidden in their homes.  Usually animals could travel through pretty severe weather, but in this case the storm was too intense.  The text is full of imagery, and the storm is describing how angry Lear is at the time, as well as the state of France, and life back at the castle.  There is a sense of tension and uprising in all of these areas and the storm only exemplifies this situation.

It is somewhat ironic that Lear is offered shelter, even though it is just a little hut, and enough to keep away from the storm which Lear continues to fight.  I cannot imagine this old King making his way through these gruesome conditions and still coming out alive.  The storm is so strong it is causing floods, it is strong enough to split trees, and to singe the white hair on Lear's head.  Maybe this could be possibly foreshadowing Lear being struck by lightning?  We will see as we continue to read further, but up to this point i see the storm as describing the state of France, Life back at Gloucester's castle, and Lear's mind, which is all in a fury of enragement

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

King Lear as a Person

I am going to start off by saying that I think King Lear has many flaws as well as triumphs.  Overall, I do not think he is that good of a ruler, because I personally think that he is lazy.  One quality of a ruler is that they must rule the people, with authority, but take into consideration the thoughts and beliefs of the people. An example that shows King Lear being a bad ruler is when he lets his daughters take control of  his land, but he still wants to have the power.  This shows that he is lazy and wants them to fulfill the obligations of a king, and do all the hard work that is involved, while he sits back and enjoys the power of being a king.  He is immature for putting his daughters in charge of his land mainly because of the manner he picked them.  He asked them "Which of you shall we say doth love us most" showing that he only cares about what they say, rather than if they actually love their father or not.  In this instance he chooses public display of affection over real love. 
I am 100% on Cordelia's side and I think that she does the right thing when she states that she loves her father because he is her father.  She is being honest, and not lying to Lear in this case, which I think shows trust and bravery.  Despite the fact that Cordelia is Lear's favorite daughter, he doesn't accept her plead for fulfillment of duty to her father, but instead is blind to her case, and accepts the false plead from his two other daughters Goneril and Regan.  I think King Lear will regret this decision in the end, and wish he would have chose Cordelia to control the land instead of his other two daughter, because they are selfish, and want the land just to feel like they have power.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Gilgamesh vs. Sunjata

One thing I noticed when reading these two stories is that they are both epics, therefore they have many things in common. First of all just like in Gilgamesh, Sunjata himself goes on an epic journey and later returns back to his home. Sunjata definitely shows that he is way more mature that Gilgamesh, as far as a ruler goes, and he shows this maturity through his actions. One thing that was a little questionable to be was when Sunjata decided to cut his calf off just to help his companion Bala. Also there is some similarity in the two epics between the role that women play. In both of these stories, considering the time period women were both treated to follow the man, and live in the shadow of man. In the epic of Sunjata, Sunjata is a great king and many people look up to him, as well as his wife. Another similarity between the epic of Gilgamesh and the epic of Sunjata is the tole that nature plays. In the epic of Gilgamesh nature is seen as pure and powerful, and it is viewed the same way in Sunjata. For example, the tree is hard to split and it splits from the top to the bottom, showing the purity of nature and how powerful nature can be and how much it means to the culture.

Overall this was a very tough read for me considering the culture and the difficulty of pronouncing the names and terms. This is understanding because of the time period as well as the culture, and I found this as the most difficult to read and interpret to this date.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Tale Of Genji

I find this specific story to be quite interesting from a man's perspective.  There can obviously be many opinions made about Genji, but i am here to tell you mine.  Personally, I think Genji has had too many partners, even though during his time polygamy was most popular.  He goes through women like a bag of popcorn at the movie theatres.  He take a quick look at them, and makes quick judgements on what type of person they are and if they are right for him.  I think this is very immature, because clearly you cannot look at someone and after a few moments decide they are not right for you, and that they have flaws that stick out.  Well guess what, unfortunately we are all human, and we all have flaws, and this is one of Genji's flaws.  He cannot make up his mind on a woman, and seemingly peels them apart like an orange before he even really gets to know them.
I personally think that Genji needs a role model, like Virgil in Dante's inferno to guide him through all this mess with women.  It is clear than Genji is immature, and too young for a stable long-lasting relationship.  He is extremely emotional, and gets upset over the smallest of things.  It makes me wonder how people even look up to this guy.  If Genji were around today he would have trouble living a role as a typical man in society, because in my opinion he is total opposite of guys today, and he needs to learn to grow up and settle on one woman.  Beggars can't be choosers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Love in Present Times

The Dove's Necklace, written by Ibn Hazm, is an interesting story to read, and it caught my attention more than any of the other stories that we have read so far.  Even though the version in our text is translated, and not the original version of this poem, it still relates to what love is like, and how it is viewed today.

The Dove's Necklace reminds me of relationships today in so many ways, and is portrayed this way throughout the entire poem.  When it states "Love has certain signs which the intelligent man quickly detects and the shrewd man readily recognizes, of these first is the brooding gaze."  It continues along to discuss the signs of love.  This hold true to love today, when the first thing that is noticed is the gaze by the lover, and how much attention he pays toward her.  The second paragraph explains how when the loved one is speaking, how much attention the lover pays toward him or her.  So many times I have seen someone interested in another person, and they will laugh at all the jokes they tell even if they are not funny and they will also seem so interested in what the loved one has to say.  Later on in the poem he discusses that when lovers equally love each other, they will fight over the smallest things for no reason, and soon after they will be best friends again.  I know I have seen one of my friends fight and argue with his girlfriend on the phone one second, then a couple hours later he is as happy as can be, and everything is resolved between the two.  These characteristics hold true in my relationship as well.

Hazm, states that "the variety of love is divided into two classes: When a man falls head over heels in love with a mere form without knowing who they are, and a man that forms an attachment at first sight, with a woman that is known to him."  Focusing on the second class of love, which is usually seen more often, he makes a key point that I feel holds true even today.  When relationships progress quickly, they usually end sooner, and when they move slower, they usually last longer.  For example, people today who tell their partner that they love them after two weeks of dating usually don't stay together too long.  As for those who take their time,  and progress slowly (Waiting to say "I love you", waiting a while to have sex, and not being around each other all the time in the early stages) will usually be together longer.  There is always exceptions to this rule, as well as some bizarre cases of love, but for most this hold true.