The most painful episodes of twentieth century history are its wars. Starting with the losses of the First World War in 1914 the Second World War was even more catastrophic. Then followed the theatre of the Cold War, in which the American military intervened far and wide in the globe. Notable examples include the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The two works in discussion, Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce Et Decrum Est” and Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” talk about two of the several wars of the recent century, namely the First World War and the Vietnam War. The political context, military strategy and technological aids employed in these two wars were quite different. Yet, their human tragedy remains the same. Separated by half a century, these two conflicts reflected the global geo-political power equations of their respective times. The two authors, far from glorifying war, present the realities of it in all its gory detail. Their works clearly suggest that . . . Read More
In Virgil’s great epic poem Aeneid, the adventures of Aeneas are registered to create a powerful human drama that still retains its force two millennia past. Aeneas, the hero of the epic, is born of a divine union between the mortal Anchises and the goddess Venus. Believed to have been written circa 20 BC, this rhapsody illustrates the virtues of piety and duty on part of the hero. The grand scale and difficulty of the adventure of Aeneas provides several moments of examination of his virtuous qualities. In his mission to find the prophesied place where he is to build a new Troy, he is accompanied by his father, his baby son Iulus and a group of loyal companions.
One could liken the sense of duty of Aeneus to that of Augustus. This is particularly true with respect to the filial piety shown by Aeneas, as illustrated by “his care for and deference towards his aged father Anchises.” (Whitehorne, 2005, p.1) The epitome of Aeneas’ sense of duty is the scene where he . . . Read More
William Shakespeare and John Donne are early masters of the English verse. We see their textual dexterity, skilful turn of phrase and creative metaphor in their body of work. The two poems chosen for this essay are about love. But what makes them stand out from conventional love poetry is that they project praise of a lover in reference to commonplace objects of nature. This essay will argue the thesis that the genius of the two poems lie in their application of imaginative metaphor in praise of the lover, albeit with creative adaptation of commonplace and ordinary objects to poetic imagery.
Shall I Compare Thee is a testimony to unadulterated love, whereby the love-smitten author is in total and unconditional admiration of his object of love. Shakespeare employs all commonplace occurrences and conditions of nature such as a “summer’s day”, “rough winds”, “too hot”, “gold complexion”, “eternal summer”, “rest in his shade”, etc. These . . . Read More
As the opening poem to the ASLS website proclaims, ‘Forget your Literature, Forge your Soul’. This is very true and its veracity can only be understood by patrons of literature who assimilate its refined aesthetic in the very fabric of their personhood. Just as literary art seeps through to the soul of the patron, so also the aura of iconic authors make a personal connection with the audience. This is true of literature in general and by extension applicable to the Scottish literary scene, which has seen a renaissance of sorts in modern times. For this essay, the term ‘modern’ is applied in its broad sense, covering all the artists and movements witnessed in the Scottish Highlands and Islands during the twentieth century continuing till today. What follows is an evaluation of the relevancy of cultural icons, perceived or otherwise, to the modern writers of the region.
It used to be the case that Scottish literature was not taken seriously by highbrow academics . . . Read More
Joyce Carol Oates’ Where Are You Going and Where Have You Been? is a suspenseful and thrilling story. I found some aspects of it interesting while others superfluous. The following passages will lay out my critical interpretation of the story.
Firstly, the characterization of the two main characters is very impressive. The mental makeup of Connie, who is brought up by a mildly abusive and critical mother, is spot on. Her eventual decision to take a huge risk and go away with the dangerous suitor Arnold Friend shows both daring and weakness. She perhaps opts for this course of action as she subconsciously realizes how the prevailing circumstances in her home are not very positive. Hence, by taking a chance with a dangerous (yet attractive) stranger is a calculated gamble. Similarly, the mental make-up of the wild and macho young male – Arnold Friend – is also impressive. The heightened sense of machismo exhibited by him impresses Connie at some level. . . . Read More
Bret Harte is a writer whose works are full of human empathy and insight. He is also exceptional in terms of attention to detail and gifted in coming up with beautiful turns of phrase. In the three short stories of the author chosen for this essay, we see ample examples of remarkable literary and humane touches. The force and achievement of Bret Harte’s works are best understood when considering the social milieu and literary norms of his time. In other words, Harte was one of the early American writers to project the lives of the underprivileged into mainstream literature. This essay will flesh out the thesis that in Harte’s stories, there is manifest celebration of the virtues of the social underclass. Where literature was previously the preserve of the privileged and addressed to the same privileged audience, Harte broke this trend, and courageously at that, and highlighted the depth, effervescence and humanity of those in the . . . Read More
The book Equiano the African: Biography of a Self-Made Man is one of the most important historical documents of imperialism. The book narrates the story of a former slave – Olaudah Equiano (born circa 1750 and died 1797) – who is one of the earliest voices of African slaves. Reading this book has been an eye opening experience for me. For someone who was born into slavery and who survived its harsh conditions, Equiano was a man who had surpassed his obstacles with great tenacity and had emerged as an enlightened thinker and a gifted leader. The book draws heavily from the original autobiography by Equiano, titled ‘The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: or, Gustavus Vassa, the African’, and yet adds new perspectives and primary research to make it a wholesome book. Author Vincent Carretta covers various aspects of the heroic life of Equiano, but this essay will focus on two prominent facets of the book, namely, the political and literary . . . Read More
Emily Dickinson’s poems lend themselves to Freudian psychoanalysis as they are full of psycho-emotional posturing and insight. The poem in question ‘I Started Early, Took My Dog’ is subject to various interpretations as it is abstract and lacks a concrete meaning. The poem is thus rich in its interpretive scope across both literary and psychological dimensions. Sigmund Freud, who was a pioneer in the field of analytic psychology, placed a lot of importance on unconscious cognitive processes and behaviors exhibited by individuals. He posited that the unconscious cognitive patterns have a greater control over an individual’s actions and perception compared to conscious reflection and volitional behavior. Likewise, sexual symbolism, especially as manifest in imagination and fantasy, holds profound significance for the entire psychological makeup of the subject.
In the poem I Started Early, the author Emily Dickinson uses imagery and symbolism at various places. . . . Read More
The Kiss by Anton Chekhov is a brilliant short story. It contains all the requisite features of a good short story. Elements of excitement, drama, romantic infatuation and suspense make the story hold its ground. In terms of literary devices, the apt yet optimal use of imagery and symbolism accentuates the overall effect on the reader. The story is also outstanding for its accommodation of dual characteristics of the concrete and the abstract. In other words, while the romantic preoccupation of Ryabovitch has a certain immediacy and specificity, by the end of the story, it becomes clear that the author is dealing with human universals. The character of Ryabovitch pitted against the unexpected circumstances he finds himself in acts as a representation for broader human life. The rest of the essay will outline the summary, and analyze the themes and literary aspects of the story.
When the officers of a reserve artillery brigade pass through the countryside as part of their . . . Read More
Wendy Wasserstein’s one-act play Tender Offer makes a persuasive argument in favor of openness and discussion in family relations. This two-character short play is centered on the conflict and miscommunication that could arise between a father and daughter. The concerns and preoccupations of Lisa and her father are very distant. The father, for example is mostly drawn into thinking about his business activities. Lisa, on the other hand, is insecure and vulnerable, as girls of her age tend to be. She complains to her father that he seldom finds any time to talk to her. The father, in reply, doesn’t take this complaint seriously at first. But upon Lisa’s persistence, agrees to have a talk with her after reaching home. When the two finally settle down and talk, they figure that their worlds are not as incompatible as it seemed.
Wendy Wasserstein portrays the character of Lisa as that of an insecure, petulant, yet charming young girl. Her father is shown . . . Read More