As an actor myself, I’ve always liked Shakespeare and appreciated his work. From Romeo and Juliet to Macbeth, the plays always contain some of the mos...moreAs an actor myself, I’ve always liked Shakespeare and appreciated his work. From Romeo and Juliet to Macbeth, the plays always contain some of the most intricate and detailed plots and characters. As an actor, it’s always interesting to read texts that are very descriptive and illuminating in their character development. In the Tempest, the development of Prospero is one of the more interesting parts of a book devoid of that many good aspects. The struggle of his quest to regain control and authority after having it taken from him gives the reader something to sink their teeth into. However, this was one of the only positives I had from reading the book. As a Shakespearian actor, reading his texts’ have never been an issue. For some people the pros of Shakespeare are difficult to understand, yet that wasn’t the issue for me. I found it extremely hard to understand the point of the play and wasn’t interested in any of the sub plots or side tangents. Overall I thought it was one of his least inspiring books. Normally I finish reading a Shakespeare text and am interested about the time period it was written in. But with The Tempest I was just glad to be done with it. I’ll never stop liking Shakespeare, I was just saddened by the quality of this book. (less)
After reading The Lover I was very befuddled and unsure about what I had just read. From the beginning, I didn’t understand the text and was confused...moreAfter reading The Lover I was very befuddled and unsure about what I had just read. From the beginning, I didn’t understand the text and was confused about the structure that in was written in. However, after reading an analysis of it and talking about it in class, I began to develop more of an understanding and appreciation for the text. It’s a book that really should be read multiple times to fully understand the meaning and importance behind the words. Normally I am not a fan of analyzing and deconstructing texts, however for this text I think it is completely necessary. The true meaning of the text is completely lost without background information on the author, the situation and the style of writing. The story follows a 15 year old girl in an unstable family with a manic depressive mother and crazy brothers. The girl is incredibly insecure and pessimistic about herself and her life, a result of her mothers actions. She falls in love with a wealthy Chinese man and the book chronicles the relationship and her subsequent realizations about life. The text is written in paragraph form and is essentially a collection of her thoughts and memories. One of the reasons the book is so confusing is that it is written as her thoughts. There aren’t always connections or transitions between thoughts and events. The text flows as a stream of consciousness, something that is incredibly confusing to the reader. However, once read again, it is easier to understand what Duras is trying to do. The paragraphs are like memories, little snapshots that together create her life. Although an odd comparison, the movie Momento shares a similar use of these “snapshots” or photos to describe someone’s life. In the movie, the protagonist takes photos to remember who he is and aspects of his life which is similar to how this text is formatted. Each individual paragraph should be considered by itself, but also as part of the whole work. It is this concept that makes the text inherently difficult. We are so used to reading plots in a linear fashion, that this format confuses our expectations.
This book has been referred to as a feminist text but unfortunately I have not read many "feminist" books, however, to me what makes a feminist text is that it is largely based around these ideas of a woman trying to find her place in society. Generally the protagonist would be a female simply because that is the easiest way the author could convey their point.
In The Lover, the protagonist is dealing with many of these issues. She is a self conscious girl who is incredibly insecure about her appearance and personality. She has an overbearing mother who dictates her life and who is so unstable she cannot act as a true mother figure. However, what makes this text uniquely feminist is how the girl embodies many masculine traits. The reader expects to read about a male figure taking advantage of her to reveal the relationships between men and women in society. Yet that is not the case here, the 15 year old girl is actually the “man” in the relationship with the older Chinese man. This odd role reversal was an interesting and new take on the issue of feminism and how roles are represented in society. It’s arrogant to assume that the man would be the dominant one in the relationship yet that’s what modern culture has told us to believe. Duras uses this to her advantage in proving her point about feminism and our skewed perception of roles in society. (less)
Written in the late 1960’s, the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep portrays a bounty hunter living in a post apocalyptic world faced with chall...moreWritten in the late 1960’s, the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep portrays a bounty hunter living in a post apocalyptic world faced with challenges that force him to rethink his place in society. It is a biting critique and analysis of society and the western culture in which it was based. Like 1984, Androids manages to create a compelling story with a relatable protagonist while simultaneously making a commentary on society and modern culture. Androids is an ageless book because the main issues will never go away and will continue to be relevant for decades to come. The book focuses on the fear of change in society and how people react when challenged with something that affects their view on the world. When Isidore realizes Buster is an android, all that he has known in his life is shattered. The comfort of Buster Friendly is over and he is faced with the cold reality of life. Similar to 1984 the novel is a glaring critique of humanities use of technology and the dangers with becoming too attached and dependent on it. The mood organ is a perfect analogy to how lazy we have come as human beings. Instead of finding inner happiness or success from personal achievements, we now relay on medicine to make us feel “right.” Whether they are antidepressants or uppers, society has become so dependent on outside factors to make us normal that it’s easy to lose sight of what’s real and fake. The idea of an android is a perfect analogy to what we have become. People have become extensions of their technology; you are only as relevant as the newest technological advancement. Computers that predict what you are searching for, phones that think for you… The list goes on and the future is limitless in a culture where nothing is enough and we are constantly trying to outdo ourselves. If previous generations were to look at us now, they probably would have a difficult time differentiating people because we all relay so heavily on technology to define who we are. Postmodern literature constantly confronts the issue of individualism and the individuals’ place in society and culture. Through the establishment of a dystopian environment, the story is able to take on a surreal side, with Dick being able to convey his point in whatever way necessary. The post apocalyptic setting is perfect for this type of analytical literature because it enables the author to have complete control on creating the environment while maintaining a relatable “modern” feel. Written in a time where there was incredible social change going on, the novel confronts these ideas. The 1960’s saw some of the most extensive and complete social revolutions in western culture. With woman’s rights and the civil rights movement happening at similar times, it was an age of old traditions versus new ideals and morals. In the novel Androids, the bounty hunters are trying to suppress the androids from establishing themselves in society and taking places as citizens. This “controlled mayhem” is similar to how police forces and generally whites in power tried to keep society “separate but equal,” a ploy that was destined to fail. Like many writers before him, Dick used Androids as a means of warning future generations of the pitfalls and dangers of humanity and modern culture. Like Twain and Orwell before him, Dick relies heavily on the use of symbolism and analogies as a persuasive technique. It’s easy to sympathies for Rick because of his insecurities and confusion, yet his actions should make the reader despise him. It is the author’s ability to make you feel for the bounty hunter that is the true magic of this book. The reader is forced to confront the idea of social norms and how they shape society and how we think. (less)
Known for his pioneering work in the Harlem Renaissance and civil rights, Langston Hughes is one of the most influential American writers of the 20th...moreKnown for his pioneering work in the Harlem Renaissance and civil rights, Langston Hughes is one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century. His story The Negro Speaks of Rivers established himself as the premiere black poet during that time period. In his short story On the Road, Hughes is yet again providing a biting and realistic commentary on the status of blacks in society. Right as the story starts, Sargeant is walking down a cold lonely street with snow falling all around him. The reader is instantly grasped by the description of the snow, in that Sargeant doesn’t seem to notice it at all. It leads you to assume that the snow is an analogy to the white’s power and control. The snow seeping into his boots, falling on his face, essentially saying that the white’s control in society is everywhere. In the story, virtually everything symbolizes something deeper. The classic mythological archetypes are everywhere in the text. The man at the church who turns away Sargeant embodies not only the hypocrisy and injustice of the time; but also, he is the “denier” that we see all through out literature. The police who beat Sargeant are the henchmen, the classic “goons” or “bad guys.” It is not until Sargeant pulls down the church that we start to see the religious context or commentary in the story. We see a stone Jesus Christ coming from the rubble to walk with Sargeant in his dream. But only after Sargeant has broken down the marble church and “freed” Jesus. The symbolism of the unmoving unchanging stone church is hard to miss in a society where white’s clung to their old ways and traditions. (less)
The Gospel According to Mark was an incredibly interesting and stimulating text to read as a non religious reader. I have always been interested by re...moreThe Gospel According to Mark was an incredibly interesting and stimulating text to read as a non religious reader. I have always been interested by religion but have never read the Bible myself. Because of this, my understanding of the stories in it are somewhat vague; however, the analogy to the life of Espinosa and that of Jesus Christ was easy to see right from the beginning. From the fact that he’s 33 years old, the age Christ was killed, to the commentary on Noah’s arch during the flood, the story mirrored Christ’s rise and fall. However, what really struck me was that the story was more of a commentary on religion and the practice of preaching. The Gutres were illiterate people who had lost their ability to creatively think for themselves or make independent decisions. In the end, after Espinosa reads them the story of Christ’s crucifixion, they hang him on a cross, believing this will be their ticket to salvation. To me this was a direct stab at the idea of taking the Bible literally, something that can have incredibly bad repercussions. All across the world, there are extremists who take their religious stories literally and often times use it as justification for crimes and actions. This story showed how when taken literally, the Bible can have the opposite effect. Instead of preaching the teachings of Christ for a positive end, it resulted in the murdering of Espinosa. (less)