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The Yahoo: An Imperfect Representation of Mankind

Gulliver’s Travels is yet another dense and elaborate text by Jonathan Swift.  By dividing his essay into four parts, Swift gave each section a unique characteristic.  Furthermore, each part of the essay was strategically placed to foreshadow each of the main character’s adventures.  Although each part in Gulliver’s Travels has a profound message with in it, Part IV leaves a lasting impression in the reader’s mind. Swift uses the Houyhnms, an ideal society based purely on principles of reason to prove that one could not live in a society strictly based on reason.  This is proven by Gulliver’s disconnect from mankind after spending several years with the Houyhnms.

In order to provide considerable evidence for this claim, one must begin by examining the key aspects of Part IV in the essay.  First, it is necessary to analyze how Gulliver reacted when he encountered the Yahoos and the Houyhnms. Then, one must provide evidence as to how Gulliver differentiated the two groups from one another. It is also important to provide information on the way in which Swift used stylistic devices to define either one of the aspects of the two races, or one of the ambiguous trials hidden inside the final part of Gulliver’s journey.  Ultimately, this analysis will provide a deeper understanding of the passage’s overall theme as well as its meaning and purpose.

Swift begins Part IV in a unique way. Rather than having Gulliver dock his ship near the island or docking station, Gulliver was cast overboard by his own crew (who turned out to be a group of pirates) and was banished to the country of the Houyhnms.  Ironically, having Gulliver being alone was a way for Swift to introduce the Yahoo to Gulliver.   Moreover, he also provided a sense of mystery by having Gulliver stranded on the island. Shortly after seeing what appeared to be human and horse footsteps in the mud, Gulliver gazed upon the first Yahoo.  He described their features as such:

Their [heads] and breasts were covered with a thick [hair,] some frizzled and others lank; they had [beards] like [goats] and a long [ridge] of [hair] down their [backs,] and the four [parts] of their [legs] and [feet,] but the rest of their [bodies] were bare, so that I may see their [skins…] (454-55).

Through closer analysis of this is representation, one can see that the Yahoo appear to be a representation of the savage nature of mankind.  This becomes clear when Swift had Gulliver explain that after being threatened by a Yahoo, he had to fend him off with his sword.  After hitting the Yahoo with the hilt of his sword, the Yahoo retaliated with a violent roar; calling his pack.  The pack of Yahoos attacked Gulliver by jumping into the trees, and released their excrements upon him (455).  Both the description of the Yahoo and its violent nature are intriguing.  By giving this basic description Swift implied that the Yahoo and the rest of mankind were one and the same.

This idea that the Yahoo reflected the savage nature of mankind was illustrated when Gulliver was rescued by a Houyhnm, who figured Gulliver to be an odd-looking Yahoo.  Swift uses this misconceived assumption to show that the Houyhnms were barely able to distinguish a normal Yahoo from the rest of mankind.  Furthermore, this misconception is stylistically used by Swift to make one see the connection between the Yahoo’s violent nature and mankind’s violent nature.  In short, the Yahoo race is a metaphor for the imperfection of mankind.

The Houyhnm are unique characters, because they contrast the Yahoo in every single way.  The Houyhnms do not resemble human beings at all, as they are described to look like horses.  Furthermore, Swift implied that they had their own language, and would converse with one another.  As for their nature, Swift inferred that they did not perceive themselves as animals. Swift showed this by having a Houyhnm reject Gulliver’s hand while he attempted to pet him. (455-56).

One of the key aspects of this passage was how Gulliver reacted to the horse-like Houyhnm figures.  Rather than fear these creatures, Gulliver allows them to take him to their village.  Although one may be confused by Gulliver’s reaction to the Houyhnm, this was yet another stylistic device used by Swift to separate the animalistic, yet humanlike Yahoos from the ideal moral rational Houyhnms.

Swift used the moral rationalistic traits of the Houyhnm to further build the theme in the last part of the essay: the disconnection between Gulliver, who represents the failed ideal, and the rest of mankind. Gulliver became familiar with the Houyhnm by learning the rational ways in which they perceived life.  Moreover, Swift used Gulliver’s relationship with these people to express his belief on how one could not live within a completely rationalistic society.  To further establish the final passage’s theme, Swift uses the animalistic qualities of the Yahoo and the rationalistic qualities of the Houyhnms as a metaphor to connect the flaws of mankind with the rationalistic ideal.

If one were to strictly focus on the animalistic and violent nature of the Yahoo, they most likely would find it easier to favor the rationalistic and therefore peaceful characteristics of the Houyhnm.  However, Swift’s purpose behind creating these two archetypes was to show how one could not live a society that was based strictly upon reason.  He shows this by having Gulliver travel through the village of the Houyhnm in which he sees how the Houyhnms treat the Yahoos.  The text illustrates that the Houyhnms enslave the Yahoos by either imprisoning them in a kennel, or forcing hard labor upon them.  Swift further illustrates this by having Gulliver describe how the Houyhnms use the Yahoos as vehicles to transport those who were injured by saying:

…I saw coming towards the horses a kind of vehicle drawn like a [sledge] by four Yahoos.  There was an old [steed] who seem to be of [poor] [quality] he alighted with his [hind-feet] foreword, having by [accident] got a hurt in his left [fore-foot]… (459).

Though this may appear to be a simple observation, Swift used it to uncover a much more morbid side of the Houyhnm people.  As a result, Swift leaves one to question whether a strictly rational society has its faults. Upon closer inspection of the text, it is evident that even Swift sees a problem with a strictly rationalistic society.  Firstly, the name Houyhnm refers to a horse that represents, as Swift said, “…[An etymology] [and] the perfection of [nature.]” (462).  Although this may sound intriguing being perfect would deprive one of so many experiences. If one were to be completely immersed in nature, one would have no use for books, films, clothing, games, or anything else in the way of possessions.  Secondly, if one was a perfection of nature, could one be exposed to learning new things and therefore grow in life?  Ultimately, one must ask is being perfect is a virtue or a vice.  Furthermore, if one were completely rational, would they favor the institution of slavery if it was deemed reasonable?  Rather than simply stating his opinion about an idealistic rational society, Swift implied his opinion about such a society through the characteristics of Gulliver and the Houyhnms.

However, it is only reasonable to be fair and equitable to other points of view.  Some may see living in a society based on rationality as a virtue.  Therefore, it is necessary to conduct further analysis on the text to uncover how this viewpoint is flawed.  When making a claim, one must not forget about the metaphor Swift used to connect the Houyhnms and the yahoos to everyday life.  One must keep in mind that for Swift, the Houyhnms represented an ideal and the Yahoos represented the savage nature of mankind.

Firstly, the way in which the flaws of this society are brought forth is through the conversations between Gulliver and his Houyhnm master.  The essay mentions that the Houyhnms have no idea about books or literature, because they have no use for them (461).  This fact is debatable, because as human beings or “Yahoos” we are not always rational.  Therefore, we utilize what we learn from books and literature to provide an understanding of life by examining the teachings of those who came before us.  Therefore, it would make it impossible for Gulliver to give up all he has learned from books and literature.  This was yet another hidden message of Swift’s.  He used the Houyhnm’s disregard for books and literature to show that human beings simply could not progress without them.

Ultimately, Gulliver informs his master of all the injustices done by his country’s government.  He describes how unjust the legal system is, and how the judges in charge of this legal system refused to see how those who have sworn to uphold those laws have taken advantage of them.  It is clear that there are some injustices among our nations.  With that being said however, one must remember that human beings, or yahoos, are not completely rational creatures.  Therefore, some may take advantage of a position of power.  However, the opposite is also true, and it is what Swift secretly implied in the essay.  Swift’s purpose for doing so was to show how mankind is corruptible and ultimately fallible.  Swift himself saw that human beings could not be completely rational.  He showed this by having Gulliver lose his connection to mankind.

Although Gulliver’s Travels is riddled with ambiguity, it is nonetheless a classic which continues to be debated.  In Part IV of the essay the debate of the current society of mankind versus the ideal rational society posited by the Houyhnms is sustained until the conclusion, because it shows how a human being cannot be completely rational.  Ultimately, this final part shows that no matter how rational human beings perceive themselves to be, we are all nothing more than odd-looking Yahoos, and thus imperfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Rawson, Claude, and Ian Higgins, eds. The Essential Writings of Jonathan Swift. Landon: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010. N. pag. Print.

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Analyzing Shakespeare’s Sonnet 83

I never saw that you did painting need, (a)

And therefore to your fair no painting set. (b)

I found – or thought I found – you did exceed (a)

The barren tender of a poet’s debt; (b)

And therefore have I slept in your report: (c)

That you yourself, being extant, well might show (d)

How far a modern quill doth come too short, (c)

Speaking of worth, what worth in you doth grow. (d)

This silence for my sin you did impute, (e)

Which shall be most my glory, being dumb; (f)

For I impair not beauty being mute, (e)

When others would give life, and bring a tomb. (f)

Their lives more life in one of your fair eyes (g)

Than both your poets can in praise devise. (g)

 

The speaker’s emotional pain is brought to life through shifts in dense vocabulary, piercing imagery, and the heart wrenching tone that speaks of a man desperately in love. At first, it appears as if the speaker is just simply admiring a beautiful woman as the letter says, “I never saw that you did painting need.” (1) The vocabulary in this first sentence is crucial to the sonnet, because it establishes a metaphoric connection between a woman’s beauty and a painting. After the speaker realizes that his beloved is not wearing any cosmetics he becomes confused as to how someone could be so naturally beautiful. The speaker is captivated by his beloved’s beauty and plants an image of having a glow within his soul to have words to describe such a beautiful woman in line four. The speaker’s confusion continues until the final two couplets of the sonnet. When he concedes that his beloved’s beauty is too perfect for a poet to describe.

Sonnet 83 is a very dense and cryptic piece that is filled with literary and rhetorical elements.  At first glance, some of these elements may be missed or misinterpreted. Therefore, to find the veiled message within the sonnet, it is crucial to examine how vocabulary is used to bring various literary and rhetorical elements to bear. For instance, in the opening line of the sonnet, the speaker is puzzled by his beloved’s natural beauty, as is seen when the speaker refers to his beloved cosmetics, or lack thereof, as “painting.” (1) This artistic word is chosen purposefully, because it creates the sonnet’s theme which addresses how beauty is desired, praised, and celebrated.  Additionally, the sonnet shows that even the speaker has trouble finding the words to describe his beloved’s beauty.  Some of the most powerful elements in this sonnet come from the way in which the speaker praises his beloved’s beauty and how her aesthetically pleasing features impact him emotionally.

Another profound facet of the sonnet is the way in which the speaker pits imagery that is very joyful in nature against imagery that is very morbid.  After describing his “barren tender” burden as a poet, he describes how others would give their lives to be with her. Ultimately, the hidden elements of love, desire, pain, and death bind together to deliver a level of meaning that surpasses the traditional Italian love sonnet.  The Shakespearean form brings more life into the speaker by having him face the challenge and coming to a solution.

 

From Epic to Romance

How does one know the difference between an epic poem and a romance poem?  Are they simply the same thing, or are they different?  Unfortunately, these have proved to be very difficult questions to answer.  Therefore, the best way to distinguish the differences between the two genres would be to separate and examine them individually.

Many poets believe that the epic was the final step in mastering poetry.  In fact, Edmund Spenser, died before he could finish writing his epic entitled The Faerie Queene. However, there was much more to writing an epic than an author or poet sitting down and writing a long poem.  When most epics were written (or told), the poet’s (or scop’s) goal was to inspire groups of people. Moreover, it was typical for an epic to be very exaggerated and fantastic.  For example, in this type of poem, the protagonist of the story was often sent by a king from another land to help a village defeat a demon or monster.  When the protagonist, was described by the speaker, he (or she) would glorify the heroes’ superhuman strength, or his (or her) unconquerable ability to accomplish his (or her) objective and rise to glory.  The speaker would most likely end an epic by having the protagonist crowned as royalty, and being the only hope for his (or her) kingdom.

Beowulf exemplified this type of epic.  The protagonist named Beowulf was sent by his father to defeat Grendel and free the village of Heorot.  Throughout the story Beowulf’s magnificent abilities were described in great detail, and at times his magnificent strength and willpower seemed to be almost supernatural.  For example, Beowulf had the strength of ten men, and could hold his breath underwater for almost an entire day.  His heroic willpower was illustrated when Beowulf boasted about his swim from one continent to another.  Finally, after defeating two monsters Beowulf is crowned as King of his village.

Romance poems on the other hand, tend to focus on the aspect of courtly love.  This type of storytelling was more appealing to women, because of the romantic connection the protagonist had to his lady.  Additionally, the protagonist in the story was more “human,” and was therefore vulnerable to corruption.  Rather than giving the hero superhuman strength or incredible wit, in these poems the hero was given a special item such as a sword or a shield which held the supernatural power.  Ultimately, the hero would have to rely on his equipment to survive battles.

A good example of the romance poem would be Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.  This poem illustrated how a noble knight named Sir Gawain was sent by his King to defeat the evil Green Knight.  Ironically, Sir Gawain is given a shield that symbolized perfection.  However, Sir Gawain proved to be far from perfect as he was constantly tempted to violate his noble ways.  At first he is able to resist, temptations but his humanity eventually wins out.  Sir Gawain’s humanity was illustrated when he accepted Lady Bertilak’s girdle. These poetic ideas showed the hero as being flawed and needing divine power.

In closing, the purpose of this essay was to examine the various differences between these two types of poems. However, this essay is only a small part of analyzing what truly makes and epic different from a romance.  Truth be told, we may never find all the answers about what sets one apart from the other since aspects overlap. We can only continue studying and interrupting them through contemporary lenses.

An Anecdote of a Proud Cyborg

Donna Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto,” and Moser and Law’s “Making Voices” were two very extravagant articles.  I thoroughly enjoyed them because they exemplified the way in which I as a disabled person view and interact with technology.  Although it may seem preposterous to some, after reading Haraway’s “A Cyborg Manifesto,” I can say with confidence that I consider myself to be somewhat of a human cyborg.  Living with cerebral palsy has forced me to have several surgical modifications.  Much like a personal computer, I have had malfunctioning parts recertified old parts replaced, and every troublesome nerve or hamstring cut: giving me the best cable management service my medical insurance could afford.

Since I have a plethora of experience with assistive technology, and understand the struggles involved with getting the right equipment. I was immediately able to connect with Moser and Law’s “Making Voices.” Their article made me reflect on how I use assistive technology to combat the challenges of my disability.  Although I cannot relate to someone who is unable to speak, I can, however, relate to the gratification of having personal independence.  Much like, Bridget the girl in the article, I also use technology to escape my disability, only my escape is through the use of my PlayStation 4.  I thoroughly enjoy playing my PS4 games because they disable my disability.  When I play them I can walk, run, and jump with the push of a button.

Both articles prove that everyone is different.  We all have our own unique qualities, strengths, and challenges.  Ultimately, these articles imply that we can live happy, independent, and successful lives regardless of whether we are disabled, or how we identify ourselves in society.

Close Reading of William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 91

 

     Some glory in their birth, some in their skill. (a)

Some in their wealth, some in their body’s force. (b)

Some in their garments (though new-fangled ill). (a)

Some in their hawks and hounds, some in their horse. (b)

And every humour hath his adjunct pleasure (c)

Wherein it find a joy above the rest. (d)

But these particulars are not my measure; (c)

All these I better and one general best. (d)

Thy is better than high birth to me, (e)

Richer than wealth prouder than , (f)

Of more delight than hawks or horses be, (e)

And having thee of all men’s pride I boast, (f)

Wretched in this alone; that thou mayst take (g)

All this away and me most wretched make. (g)

Shakespeare’s Sonnet 91 puts a unique spin on the traditional Shakespearean love sonnets by having the speaker express how wonderful it feels to be in love. Rather than describing his beloved beauty, the speaker in this sonnet uses the term love as an analogy and compares it to wealth and aristocratic status. After comparing love to immaculate wealth and aristocratic status, the speaker uses love as a metaphor to argue that having the ability to feel love is priceless.  Ultimately, he argues that feeling love is more powerful than the luck of high birth or having a unique skill. In other words, the speaker is arguing that love is not a birthright or possession – it is something more profound. Throughout the sonnet it is clear that the speaker believes he has something so profound it supersedes the elite. However, the last two couplets express the speaker’s fear of losing his power by the use of imagery which gives the reader a glimpse of seeing him as a broken man. He concedes that if he loses the ability to feel love he will be just an ordinary man — one who is hopelessly lost without love.

Hidden beneath the cryptic language of this sonnet lies a conflict between high birth, wealth, pride, and love. Love in this instance seems to be the most powerful term in the sonnet. The speaker seems to pit high birth, wealth, and pride against one another. He uses love to express something that is more profound and implies that he sees high birth, wealth, and pride as a physical possession and therefore powerless. Upon reflection, one could argue that another main metaphor for love is power as the speaker expresses that he has something that those with immaculate wealth do not. The way in which love is placed above high birth signifies that love is placed above one’s social status, pride, and wealth. The speaker mocks those who are privileged by implying that the feeling of love gives him more pride and wealth than could be imagined. Ultimately, this power allows for an additional conflict between love and the speaker. The sonnet’s conclusion implies that the speaker is aware of the possibility that he can lose the power of feeling love. In the last two couplets, the speaker acknowledges his fear of losing his unique ability, and implies that extreme wealth and privilege cannot substitute for the power of love.

 

Horizon Zero Dawn Review

 

*This is a non-spoiler review. *

With its open world, action role-playing game, Horizon Zero Dawn already receiving high praise from gamers and game critics alike, it is certainly clear that developer Guerrilla Games and publisher Sony Interactive Entertainment have yet another huge hit on their hands. Although Sony’s first party support clearly has the upper hand on Microsoft’s so far, it has been anything but a blowout victory for the PlayStation Nation. With Microsoft Xbox One trailing closely behind, and Sony wanting to hold its narrow lead, the company is looking to its best developers to ensure that the PS4 holds that ever so precious number one spot in console gaming.

Horizon Zero Dawn is nothing short of spectacular and claiming that it is Sony’s top first party release of early 2017 would certainly not be an overstatement. This is largely due to Guerrilla’s focus on a story that is both fluid and captivating. The narrative in Horizon Zero Dawn follows the personal self-discovery of a young, outcast, tribal warrior named Aloy understanding who she is as a person, and how she is the key piece to ending the war between humanity and the ancient machines that have become corrupted by an evil entity named Hades. On Aloy’s personal journey, you will help her seek out, and where need be, defeat those who will stop at nothing to prevent her from discovering the secrets of her past. Aoly is a very versatile Hunter, and is more than capable of defeating the deadliest of enemies. Along with the knowledge of knowing how to utilize a multiplicity of hunting bows and other weapons, Aloy can also gain a tactical advantage in battle by using a variety of fighting skills which include, stealth, archery, and melee techniques to subdue any foe who stands in her way.

The questing and exploration aspect of Horizon Zero Dawn is indeed long, but it does not overstay its welcome. Each quest challenges you to explore the game’s open world. Some quests will demand you defy a fear of heights by scaling tall mountaintops to defeat corrupted Glint Hawk machines that have savagely attacked innocent villagers below. Where other more lenient quests will allow the opportunity to voyage across a vast desert or one of several swamp areas to find collectibles that help to progress the narrative, or to unlock items making Aloy a more sufficient Hunter. The open world environment also helps you along the way. You can use the tall grass in the luscious forest to hide from enemy machines that are too much to handle. Ponds and riverbanks can also provide you with cover, as you can swim underwater to avoid being detected by any nearby patrolling machines.

Even though the questing and exploration in Horizon Zero Dawn makes the game alone a satisfying adventure, the unique enemies are what truly makes this adventure a masterpiece. Whether you are fighting against rival tribal bandits, or the evil machines, every type of enemy has their own specific strengths and weaknesses which forces you to modify your tactics to defeat them in battle. Although learning how to approach and defeat enemies can be challenging at first, it is very satisfying when you are successful in battle. Whether you are basking in the glory after defeating a pack of Sawtooths in a difficult Cauldron area, or taking out the final tribal bandit to free hostages held captive in a rigorously challenging bandit camp, you are always left with the feeling of accomplishment once overcoming the difficult challenge.

One of Horizon Zero Dawn’s biggest drawbacks is its lack of replayability. Firstly, since the platinum trophy can be obtained in one play through, there is no reason to replace the game a second time unless you have missed one or two trophies. Secondly, trophies are also not restricted by the game’s difficult settings. So, unless you’re one of those gamers who simply wants the bragging rights of saying that you have completed Horizon Zero Dawn on its hardest difficulty setting, you’ll probably will be perfectly content with playing the game on normal. Lastly, some of the weapons in the game seem unnecessary and useless where others seem to be too powerful making you almost impossible to defeat. However, these nitpicking gripes should not differ you from purchasing this game and treating yourself to this phenomenal action-packed experience. Horizon Zero Dawn is clearly one of Sony’s biggest home runs so far, this year, and is worth checking out for yourself.

 

A Message through Madness

 

When Jonathan Swift drafted “A Modest Proposal,” he made use of irony to add some innovation to his piece. This use of irony proved to be a powerful literary tool as it made the essay’s main idea more ambiguous than direct.  Therefore, this essay’s meaning has continued to inspire many debates and arguments among scholars and students.  In addition to irony, Swift used satire to mock Roman Catholic countries.  The essay implied that the contributing factor to Ireland’s poverty was due to continuous exploration conducted by Roman Catholic countries.

Rather than directly stating the main idea at the beginning of his essay, Swift chose a different approach. He created an unnamed narrator who would serve as an orator, one who was more than willing to give his opinion as to the current state of Ireland.  Swift used this narrator as a tool to transition from a seemingly straightforward grievance to an outrageous proposal that was both unethical and impossible.  To his own credit, Swift brilliantly grabbed his readers’ attention by having his narrator described the streets of Ireland as being a “melancholly object,” where poor children flooded the streets (295).  This particular phrase strategically placed by Swift, allowed the author to connect the depressing poverty-stricken lifestyle in Ireland to the exploration in Spain. The narrator’s circular reasoning, embedded with irony, was a rhetorical tool used by Swift to develop the narrator’s irrationality and mask the essay’s true meaning.

Swift began to shift his essay in the satirical manner by having his narrator attack the children themselves as he said, “[These children will] grow up [and] either turn [into] thieves for want or work; or leave their dear native country to fight for the pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.” (295). Swift’s reasoning behind this crude statement allowed his narrator create a satirical proposal that would rid Ireland of poverty, and in a way, poke fun at the efforts of Charles Wogan. To add more comedy to his satire, Swift used irony in a way that made the worst ideas seem logical. He attempted to develop a character with a proposal that was so preposterous that the reader could extract the satirical undertones of the essay.   Although it was Swift intention, many people missed the satirical message and took Swift seriously.  This misinterpretation could have been because Swift decided to use the seriousness of poverty in Ireland as a theme for his essay.  Additionally, Swift narrator’s bluntness and crude nature came off as being too believable to some readers.  For example, Swift’s narrator said in vivid detail, “but my intention is very far from providing only for the children of professed beggars: [it] is of much greater [extent] and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age.” (295-296). As a way to add more controversy in the essay, Swift had his character elaborate on what his proposal; the narrator said, “[…these children] on the contrary, [would be best fit to] contribute to the feeding and clothing of many thousands” (296). With the grotesque nature of the narrator’s proposal in mind, it easy to see why one could take the essay so seriously.  However, Swift’s intentions were to make a dark comedic essay that mocked Roman Catholic countries.  Moreover, Swift actually wrote “A Modest Proposal” to side with the non-Roman Catholic Irish Anglo-Saxon citizens.

If one were to carefully examine the text in “A Modest Proposal,” they would see that Swift’s character is not only willing to sacrifice the children of poor Irish beggars, but also the children from Spain and England.  This fact is evident in the initial statement of Swift’s narrator. The proposal is clearly poking fun of Roman Catholic countries.  This is demonstrated when the narrator elaborates on where merchants could get more children for slaughter.  He said, “…There are more children born in Roman Catholic countries about nine months after Lent…” (297).  This particular quote is very intriguing, because it made the reader further question the narrator’s irrationality. Swift’s essay wanted all children to be a part of his scheme. This was a rhetorical move done by Swift on purpose.   Swift once again used irony to ridicule Roman Catholics countries.  Frankly put, if this essay were taken literally, the narrator’s proposal would have been condoning the slaughtering and butchering of the Roman Catholic children after Lent.  This message would have been difficult for many readers to accept, as it still is today.

“A Modest Proposal” was, and still is, a profound essay that has continued to inspire debates and arguments by students and scholars.  Jonathan Swift dared to push the boundaries of political correctness by making a mockery of Roman Catholic countries and Ireland’s poverty.  Moreover, the essay teaches one that they can find laughter in even something so serious.  Ultimately, a combination of satire, irony, and the rhetorical tools used by Swift to develop this essay has made “A Modest Proposal” a literary masterpiece.

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Jonathan Swift. The Essential Writings of Jonathan Swift. (Norton Critical Edition, 1st ed., rev. 2010).

 

 

True Love: The Untamable Beast

As the naturalist movement began developing, writers and scholars alike began to ponder several facets of life that had been unaddressed, or disregarded altogether. Considering nature’s impact on life, the nationalist movement allowed writers to establish a new perspective and describe how nature influence certain situations in their narratives. Bringing the naturalist movement a step further, Henry James applied his naturalistic focus inward and addressed how one was affected by the internal forces of nature. For James, these internal forces of nature were more profound going beyond the simple form of nature dealing with whether, natural disaster, life, or death. James shifted his focus and concentrate on the nature of human emotions which is seen in his classic short story entitled, The Beast in the Jungle. James became one of many influential writers that further the nationalist movements by asking others to consider the psychological aspects of nature. It is this perspective of the mind where James challenged the facets of the meaning of true love. Through the indecisiveness and mental anguish of his narrator, John Marcher, James expressed that even something as complex as the human mind cannot comprehend the meaning of true love. Moreover, it is also evident that although the human mind is a profound aspect of one’s life, it is imperfect and is influenced by human emotion. Is this imperfection of psychic that allowed James to express through his narrator that the aspect of true love is an idea is too difficult for the human mind to understand. James created his narrator so as to examine how the human mind deals with the complexity of true love; unfortunately the narrator’s insecurities and indecisiveness suggests that James believed the idea of true love could only be acquired by those who were sure of themselves, and were in touch with their frame of consciousness.

James wanted to bring attention to the mind’s power over the body in the sense of a stream of consciousness. This stream of consciousness was used to give the reader a way to grasp a sense of one’s internal struggles. By focusing directly on John Marcher’s internal thought, James showed the imperfections of Marcher’s consciousness while simultaneously revealing his unreliability as a narrator who is fallible and unsure of himself. Furthermore, it is evident that Marcher is somewhat powerless in terms of this mental conscious. This sense of powerlessness was largely expressed by James through Marcher’s counterpart, May Bartram. Marcher’s unreliability was demonstrated in his initial interaction with Bartram:

What determined the speech that startled him in the course of their encounter scarcely matters, being probably but some words spoken by himself quite without intention – spoken as they lingered and slowly moved together after their renewal of acquaintance (477).

James further accentuated Marcher’s insecurities by bringing attention to his frame of mind. It is evident, that James wrote Marcher to be a character who was largely inspired by his assumption with regard to the motives of others. Additionally, Marcher was also unable to think intuitively and uncover what one truly was intending to express. Unfortunately, Marcher is naïve to the fact that he has such flaws and was presented by James to be a character who felt somewhat estranged to his aristocratic peers. This is expressed in the explanation that summarized Marcher’s feelings in the mansion in the opening scene of the story which states, “John Marcher found himself among such suggestions disconcerted almost equally by the presence of those who knew too much and by that of those who knew nothing” (478). Marcher’s character flaws created an internal struggle within him and made him unaware of the fact that he was truly loved by May Bartram.  Expressing Marcher’s characteristics in this way allowed James to bring forth his unreliable and indecisive nature, yet also gave Marcher a sense of vulnerability. Creating Marcher as a vulnerable character, James was able to stylistically present the theme of the narrative which dealt with Marcher’s internal struggle with his own consciousness and emotions. Moreover, James further complicated Marcher’s internal conflict by giving Bartram the knowledge of a previous encounter with Marcher which Marcher did not remember. Marcher described the internal conflict between himself and Bertram as a metaphorical thread. He inferred that Bartram had possession of this thread and refused to relinquish it to him and give away its secrets (478). Being unaware of the fact that the secrets that were trapped in this “thread,” or the secrets of the couple’s first encounter, Marcher refused to give in to the fact that he had no knowledge of the secret that Bartram was hiding; allowing Bertram to use this “thread” as a means of manipulation. From Marcher’s perspective, having this “thread” placed Bartram consciously above him and therefore made her an idolized figure from Marcher’s perspective. The power Bartram possessed was an insightful power that allowed her to grasp, and in a way, control Marcher emotionally. For James, this power was not influenced by person’s physical status in life nor influenced by one’s gender.

James bestowed the power of controlling one’s emotions upon a common female character who did not meld with the common aristocratic fashions of the time. This is expressed in the scene where the couple’s initial encounter takes place. Using the thoughts of his narrator, James expressed that while Marcher was unsure with regard to the reasoning surrounding Bartram’s appearance at the mansion he was intrigued to see her.  Marcher’s thoughts revealed, “… May Bartram, whose face, [brought upon] a remembrance, yet not quite a remembrance, as they sat much separated at a very long table, has begun merely by troubling him rather pleasantly” (478). The pleasure Marcher felt after seeing Bertram in the mansion was a pleasure derived from emotion. For James, this facet of emotion becomes a theme throughout the story and takes his narrator on an internal journey of discovery. The mysteries surrounding Bartram’s secrets in this internal journey, forces Marcher to ponder what secrets are being hidden away. This mental journey is used to express how James felt about one’s consciousness. For James, consciousness was a profound aspect of life that could not be easily controlled. Throughout his short story, James used his narrator’s to suggest that for one to truly control their emotions they would have to have a free flowing stream of consciousness that was uninterrupted by flaws such as insecurities and indecisiveness. It is evident that James developed his character, May Bartram, to illustrate an example of someone who possessed a consciousness without fault.

Building upon this aspect of the influence of one’s consciousness, James expressed how the human mind could halt a declaration of affection. It is clear that Marcher is not infatuated with Bertram solely because of her social status or wealth. One can also infer that he is not attracted to her in light of her aesthetic beauty. Marcher is attracted to Bartram because the two share a connection that is cognitively emotional. Furthermore, they both represent individuals who were lost in a world that they found to be unfamiliar; seeing themselves as out casts. Unfortunately for both of them, neither one of them will ever experience true love because they are both internally flawed. While James did write Marcher’s to be a flawed character, that was unable to decipher one’s actual intent, he also gave May Bartram a poetic flaw of waiting for her true love to unravel her secrets.

Unfortunately, James never intended for either Marcher or Bartram to see their own flaws when the two were together. Rather, James chose to end his story on a tragic note, leaving Marcher left behind without his true love. Although Marcher never truly realizes that Bartram was his true love, it is evident that Marcher felt a deep sense of loss and sorrow. For James, the sorrow and emptiness that Marcher was experiencing was the personification of James’ metaphorical beast.

This beast was not a monster of flesh and blood, but of one’s inability to act – to see through their flaws. It is clear that James used his narrator in a manner to exemplify what happens to one that was unable see past his or her flaws. James withheld the devastating reality of these flaws until the conclusion of the story where he stated, “The escape would have been to love her; then, then he would have lived” (506). Although it is unclear if Marcher died from a broken heart, James prophetically inferred that there was more to life than surviving. Solely based off of the idea of love is an escape, it is evident that James noted the importance of one’s happiness having a direct correlation to one’s healthy frame of mind.

Although many writers after James contributed to the nationalist movement, it can be said with certainty that Henry James’ story The Beast in the Jungle truly expressed how important the aspect of one’s consciousness is to their everyday life. Furthermore, the implications of the story suggests that one can only tame the beast of true love if they are willing to accept their faults as a human being, and thereby possessing a clear mind and consciousness.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Frankland, Wayne, Philip Cura, Jerome Kinkowitz, Arnold Krupat, and Robert S. Levine. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Vol. C. Ed. Nina Baym and Robert S. Levine. Eighthth ed. New York: W-W-Norton & Company, 2011. 477-506. Print.

Without Borders

Even though her writings can be seen as being provocative and forceful, Gloria Anzaldúa’s writings speak to the importance of culture and ethnicity. Anzaldúa writes to uplift those within the minority, and promotes the idea that they should be proud of who they are as a people. Through a form of writing which is somewhat aggressive and extremely argumentative, Anzaldúa expresses her thoughts on culture, race, and ethnicity through a variety of poems and essays. Even though many of Anzaldúa’s topics are graphic and stern in nature, they evoke emotions inspiring one to question their perception of their own culture and ethnicity.

Anzaldúa’s writings are not meant to be read as ones that explicitly promote the ideas of cultural pluralism, the arguments with in her writings are however relatable to cultural pluralism. Anzaldúa’s main purpose for involving such controversial topics is to mask her true thematic argument, which asks the reader to disregard the standardized social personifications of ethnicity, race, and culture. Rather than separating English from Spanish, white from brown, and Texan from Chicano, Anzaldúa argues that humanity is all one and the same, a mixture of races regardless of how one views oneself. Ultimately, Anzaldúa implies that in order to achieve this reconciliation of being a mixture of races, one must first find themselves as being unique and pure in a linguistic, cultural, and sexual sense.

In order to effectively assess how Anzaldúa illustrates the aspect of purity through her writing, this essay will examine the way in which language and ethnicity are rhetorically used by Anzaldúa to bring attention to the oppressive attitudes towards the Chicano culture, while conveying the idea that the Chicano people should be proud of their culture and language. Furthermore, this essay will show how Anzaldúa steps beyond the essence of race and ethnicity by using one’s body and sexuality to further complicate the ways one thinks of a minority. In “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” “El dia de la conciencia,” and “Letting Go” bring attention to the way in which Anzaldúa analyzes race, culture, and ethnicity, and will provide a better understanding of how her arguments can be representative of another form of cultural pluralism. Additionally, examining Anzaldúa’s arguments on how culture and language affects society can help provide a clearer understanding of the challenges that the Chicano people in her time faced.

To address the issue of how language can be used to oppress those of minority, Anzaldúa uses herself as an example to show how society oppresses the Chicano culture in more ways than explicit oppression and racism. One of the unique ways she chooses to demonstrate racial oppression is through linguistic oppression. In particular, the short story adequately titled “How to Tame a Wild Tongue,” notes a social conflict where one ethnic group refuses to accept another ethnic group’s language. The argument in this chapter discusses how language itself has the potential to create a division between ethnic groups – taking one’s language away is what Anzaldúa terms to be, “linguistic terrorism” (80). Anzaldúa uses this harsh term stylistically to promote the idea that language is much more than one’s spoken or written words; it represents who they are culturally as a person. Moreover, Anzaldúa also gives the reader a glimpse into her life as a child and how linguistic oppression had challenged her throughout her lifetime. As a child, Anzaldúa explains her misfortunes due to speaking Spanish in school. As an adolescent, she states, “I remember being sent to the corner of the classroom for talking back to the Anglo teacher when all I was trying to do was tell her how to pronounce my name” (75). Anzaldúa uses her Anglo teacher’s prejudiced attitude to convey the message that rather than being accepting of someone’s cultural difference, the teacher shunned her for not speaking the “preferred language” of English. Furthermore, Anzaldúa encourages one to celebrate their cultural differences, implying that one should be proud of their dominant language and to speak it proudly. Utilizing this aspect of cultural and linguistic pride, Anzaldúa questions the very foundations of the refusal of Anglos to except the Chicano culture. She states, “Chicanos, after 250 years of Spanish/Anglo colonization have developed significant differences in the Spanish we speak” (79). By this statement, Anzaldúa implies that the Chicano language or Chicano Spanish is a mixture of English and Spanish, often referred to in this regions as Spanglish, – and is a living language that continues to evolve and change. For Anzaldúa, this ever evolving culturally mixed language signifies that the essence of language, regardless of its country of origin, belongs to humanity.

From a cultural standpoint, Anzaldúa uses her short story entitled, “El dia de la conciencia: I will not be shamed again [nor] will I shame myself,” to convey the aspect of culture as being a new sense of consciousness. Taking the form of a possessive vision, Anzaldúa thrusts forth her views on culture by demanding that the culture exists. “I am possessed by a vision: we Chaconas and Chicanos have taken back or uncovered our true faces, our dignity and self-respect” (109). She further claims that this vision was what she terms to be a “validation vision” (109). Although her tone can be read as being forceful and demonstrative, this is yet another rhetorical device used by Anzaldúa as her tone is written this way to uplift and inspire the Chicano people to revolt against oppression and bring about social change. Furthermore, this tone becomes the theme of her short story and continues to force the reader to consider the challenges placed upon the Chicano citizens of Anzaldúa’s time. Anzaldúa uses this vision as a way to promote a greater concept, one which she terms to be an “exogeneration.” Intriguingly, she suggests that viewing the Chicano culture through this exogenerational perspective brings a new way to see how discrimination affects the Chicano culture. Once again drawing on the aggressive tone of her short story, Anzaldúa criticizes the Chicano citizens for failing to resist the oppressive nature of the majority population, and submitting to racist stereotypes. “…seeing through the fictions of white supremacy, a seeing of ourselves in our true guises and not as the false racial personality that has been given to us and that we have given ourselves” (109). Ultimately, Anzaldúa implies that for one to be truly secure with themselves, they should speak their language and promote their culture and ethnicity proudly.

Once establishing the importance of language and culture, Anzaldúa concludes her argument by examining the intimate aspects of life. She suggests if one is to be pure of any cultural or ethnic restrictions, they must be physically, mentally, and sexually secure with themselves. Stylistically, this is best expressed in a poem entitled “Letting Go.” In the second and third stanzas, the speaker discusses the essence of peering into oneself. This can be seen when Anzaldúa blends both the philosophical aspects of the mind with the physical aspects of the body to express how one can purify themselves from the restrictions of being within a certain ethnic group:

You must plunge your fingers/into your navel, with your two hands/split open,/spill out the lizards and horned toads/the orchids and the sunflowers,/turn the maze inside out./Shake it.

Yet, you don’t quite empty./Maybe a green phlegm/hides in your cough./ You may not even know/that it’s there until a knot/grows in your throat/and turns into a frog (186).

Imploring one to go deep within one’s self, Anzaldúa symbolically utilizes mucus to represent life’s challenges. Profoundly, she describes that although various challenges in life are often unexpected; they can be somewhat like a ball of phlegm that is difficult to cough up. She implies that although the challenges of life can be sticky and at times overwhelming, with determination they ultimately can be overcome. Furthermore, the way one can become pure is by periodically peering inside oneself and confronting life’s obstacles to ensure being free from the shackles of oppression.

Although Gloria Anzaldúa’s arguments can be deemed as somewhat controversial and demanding, she effectively and emotionally challenges the reader to ponder ways in which they view their own culture, race, and ethnicity. Ultimately, Anzaldúa uses her experiences as a Chicano woman and her knowledge as an author to relay the best possible solutions for encountering racism and oppression, in making the world free of racial biases, without language restrictions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands – La Frontera: The New Mestiza. San Francisco, Aunt Lute Books, 2012, pp. 75 -186.

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