Reverend Martin Luther King’s famous letter from Birmingham Jail captures some of the core elements of his public discourse. Although the letter had not been orated in public, it is similar in style to his more popular public speeches and brings out the inspirational and charismatic aspects of King’s personality. The letter was first published in The Atlantic as “”The Negro Is Your Brother”. It was written in response to a public statement of concern and caution issued by some prominent Caucasian religious leaders of the Southern states. Even today, the document is regarded as one of the most influential pieces of literature to have come out during the Civil Rights movement. Editor Don Abel exercises several editorial choices in the shortened version presented in the text. The rest of the essay will attempt to provide possible rationale for those choices while also commenting on their merit.
The very first editorial choice made by Don Abel starts . . . Read More
The two literary works in question are stellar illustrations of the dichotomous views of men and women in medieval Catholic Europe. The two works are truly exceptional in that they represent the rare women’s voice in a cultural and intellectual milieu dominated by men. The Book of the City of Ladies (which originally appeared in French in 1405 as Le Livre de la Cite des Dames) was written by Christine de Pizan. The project is not only a product of creative storytelling, but also a polemical response to an earlier work by Jean de Meun, namely The Romance of the Rose. De Meun’s work exemplifies the stereotypical views and subordinate status of women of the era, as the prose is full of misogynist beliefs. In the creative yet culturally sensitive response to de Meun’s work, de Pizan constructs an allegorical story of the City of Ladies.
Drawing heavily from Giovanni Boccaccio’s On Famous Women (first published in French as De mulieribus claris), de Pizan weaves . . . Read More
Leonard Cohen is one of those artists of rare breed who drew creative inspiration from the rapidly changing social and cultural atmosphere after the Second World War. He is also one of the most versatile and accomplished artists, in that his genius is evident in various art forms such as music, poetry and the novel. The lyric poem in question (‘God is Alive’) is part of his 1966 novel ‘Beautiful Losers’. One of the most original thinkers of his era, Cohen experimented with words and ideas in all his works. This is true of God is Alive too, where Cohen’s personal religious beliefs are artistically and lucidly articulated in poetic form. This essay will argue the following points: ‘God is Alive’ was a radical act, in that it came amidst the rampant atheistic tendencies of the hippies generation; it is also deeply meaningful and insightful, as the poem lends itself to many layers of interpretation; the literary style of the poem is unique in terms of its fluidity, making . . . Read More
The Yellow Wallpaper is a much acclaimed nineteenth century short story authored by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It first appeared in The New England Magazine in 1892. Upon its publication it proved controversial and provocative due to its bold portrayal of women’s sexuality and psychology. The story is also unique, for it adopts the epistolary style, which is a device uncommonly used in short fiction. The letters/journal entries record the experiences of a woman who is confined by her husband to the bedroom upstairs. She is ordered not to work or exert herself in any which way, so that her recovery from ‘temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency’ will be quick and effective. In what amounts to a house-arrest by her husband, the woman’s condition steadily descends toward psychosis due to lack of variety and distraction in the bed-room existence. For example, “the character becomes increasingly perplexed by the garish color and the intricate . . . Read More
The article by Colleen Burke titled Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: A Metaphor of Jungian Psychology is well written, insightful and instructive. The author draws on parallels between the works of two great intellectuals in the form of Joseph Conrad and Carl Gustav Jung. Although Conrad and Jung were not contemporaries, one could see striking resemblances between the theories proposed by them. Indeed, Conrad preceded Jung by a generation, yet there are strong analogues to Jungian Psychology to be witnessed in the works of Conrad, most accessible in the novella The Heart of Darkness. The rest of this essay will delve further into this assertion, by way of underscoring the valid rationale presented by Colleen Burke in her article.
Access to Jung’s views on Africa is to be found in his personal memoirs of his travels within the continent. In his classic memoir Memories, Dreams and Reflections, Jung expounds on the mysteries of African wilderness to that of its . . . Read More
The novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker is a ground-breaking work in American fiction. The topic of emotional/physical abuse, especially that endured by black American women of earlier generations is not openly spoken about or documented in history books. By bringing focus to this sensitive, yet saddening, experience of black women, the novel attracted criticism, censorship and controversy. A careful analysis of the novel will reveal several themes, symbols and motifs woven-in by the author. This essay will confine itself to highlighting some of the major themes such as the representation (or lack thereof) of God, the interpretation of the color purple that is the title of the work, the symbolic value of the epistolary element in the novel, etc.
One of the prominent themes of the novel is the degree of suppression of the female African voice in early twentieth century American society. This is most evident from the events and circumstances in the life of the protagonist of . . . Read More
Ambrose Bierce’s short story titled An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is one of the classics of the art form. The story could be read from three different angles. First, the political angle provided by the American Civil War of the 1860s. Second is the cultural angle, whereby the unique flavors of the American South can be appreciated. Third, the story provides rich material for studying the psychology of impending death – though the hallucinatory sequence experienced by Peyton Farquhar is temporally brief, within it contain profound truths about the nature of human psychology and existence. Apart from these merits, the story also excels in employing literary devices, which heighten its aesthetic effect.
One striking literary element of the story is the non-linear plot structure employed by the author. The story is divided into four compact parts. Chronologically they are arranged in this fashion – 2,1,3,4 – which means the background information . . . Read More
What do Ain’t I a Woman and Address to the People of the Free States by the President of the Southern Confederacy tell us about the divisions between people in United States during the 1860s?
The 1860s were a tumultuous time in the history of the United States. Public discourse and debate centered on the economic, cultural and political divisions between the northern and southern states of the union. The two speeches in question were delivered in the context of an impending military implosion between the two sides. The speech titled Ain’t I a Woman was spontaneously delivered by Sojourner Truth – a slave woman from New York State – on 29th May, 1851. She makes a passionate appeal in her speech towards all Americans, to make a case for racial and gender equality for all black women. She implores the audience to think about the privileges and comforts enjoyed by white women and men that are not extended for blacks. When . . . Read More
Authored by Noel Coward in 1924, the play Hay Fever was first performed the following year at the Ambassadors Theatre. The original cast included eminent actors and actresses from the Jazz Age America. These include Helen Spencer, Robert Andrews, Marie Tempest and Graham Browne who comprise the members of the Bliss family. Most of the action takes place in the Hall of David Bliss’ house, which is located beside River Thames at Cookham, Berkshire. The eccentricities of the four members of the Bliss family become heightened during a weekend, when each of them invites a guest over without consulting other members. The farce and comedy then come to the fore, as the family tries to resolve its internal disputes in the midst of their guests. (Mander & Mitchenson, 2000) This essay will argue that beside the hilarious comedy on offer, the lasting success of the play is due to skillful handling of its production, especially its scenic design and . . . Read More
‘We The Living’ is the first published work of Ayn Rand. The novel deals with Communism and its various drawbacks. Having escaped from Communist Russia into the United States during her late teens, the novel thus represents a first-hand view of her experiences in Russia. In this sense, the novel can be considered part autobiographical and part philosophical. Finding a publisher for the novel had been a great challenge, for not many in the industry saw commercial value in the theme. But eventually, the book was published in 1936 by Macmillan, and has since gone on to sell close to 4 million copies. Looking back retrospectively, the novel is seen to contain many elements of Rand’s philosophical system called Objectivism. Since Objectivism espouses the capitalist system (the laissez-faire variety), it can be seen as an antithesis to Communism. (Walker, 1994, p.51)
In ‘We The Living’ though, the thrust of Rand’s argument is more on political liberties granted to civil . . . Read More