Negro by Langston Hughes is neither technically complex not metaphorically rich. Yet it strikes a powerful chord in the hearts of the reader, mainly on the back of its emotional appeal. The poem is an illustration of how simple words and easy historical references can be synthesized into powerful art. This essay will argue how the medium of poetry is employed by the poet in conveying one of the blights of human history, namely, black slavery.
A prominent theme in the poem is the comparison between the status of blacks then and now. Written from the point of view of an enslaved American black, the poem is full of comparisons with slave experiences from history. Bet it in King Caesar’s empire or under the Egyptian Pharaohs or as captives in native Africa or under the hands of Belgians in Congo, blacks have suffered great oppression throughout history. What more, slavery of blacks had occurred in different corners of the earth, under various political and social contexts, . . . Read More
The nature and context of love in the chosen literary works is somewhat different. Each of these works belong to a different era and represent the sensibilities and customs of their times. At the same time, love is a universal human phenomenon, which transcends time and localized culture. To this extent there is unity within the diverse manifestations of love that the chosen works illustrate. The rest of this essay will highlight the various treatments of love in this set of five literary works.
In the classic 14th century book Decameron, the 100 tales of love are narrated by seven young women and three young men. Having isolated themselves from other humans during the devastating epidemic of Black Death, the ten secluded individuals give vent to their creative imagination through these tales. Love is expressed under a range of situations and characters. Some of the tales border on ribaldry while others are narratives of tragedy. There are numerous instances of adultery and . . . Read More
Arnold argues in his essay that criticism is as (if not more) important an aspect of literature as the creative effort. He took this stance at a time when criticism was being looked at as an academic pursuit. Some even considered it a sign of cynicism. Arnold clarifies the conventional definition of criticism thus: “the endeavor, in all branches of knowledge, theology, philosophy, history, art, science, to see the object as in itself it really is”. (Arnold) Hence, criticism is much more than comment and analysis – it is indeed a process of seeking the truth. That Arnold does not restrict his observation to merely literary art but includes all disciplines of inquiry speaks of his conviction. There is a great deal of convergence between Arnold’s views in his classic essay and his own poetry. Foremost,
“The active response Arnold always seeks in his prose criticism, as in his poetry, is the participation of his audience in the process of exercising the very . . . Read More
William Faulkner is identified as a Southern writer, showcasing the issues and peculiarities of this part of the USA. To this extent, his short stories and novels reflect the culture, language and religion of the American hinterland. A Rose for Emily is no exception. Although set in a fictional city named Jefferson in Mississippi, the details distinguish it as a southern city.
A clear indicator of a southern city is the style of language – the southern dialect as it were. Through all dialogues, especially those used by the illiterate or rural folk, the southern accent is evident. Faulkner’s style also captures the social hierarchy within the city. It is on account of Emily’s high social status that her tax evasions are tolerated and her privileged lifestyle permitted. The epitome of this is when the town police pour lime around Emily’s house to absorb the foul smell emanating, instead of actually going inside and investigating.
Faulkner uses tragic irony in . . . Read More
The three poems in question are much contrasted in their content, tone and style. The poem by Willam Butler Yeats is a classic, whose lines have been invoked on many a romantic occasion by the English speaking peoples. The poem is a ode to love, but its real beauty comes from the angle of self-love. While admiring the object of his desire in unequivocal terms, the author implores her to have consideration for his heart. It is a charming way of wooing the lover, by showing the fragility and politeness of the besotted. It is a clever romantic ploy as well, for, by boldly claiming to be poor and modest, the narrator is putting the burden of rejection on the part of his lover. This is an enchanting way of tapping into her guilt. But what the poor romantic lacks in wealth, he duly makes up in imagination. The presentation of the golden, colourful and embroidered clothes of heaven as a carpet to the girl’s feet makes for powerful imagery.
In the poem Valentine by Caron Ann Duffy, . . . Read More
It is quite true that Sarah Penn and Grace Ansley come from contrasting social backgrounds and are separated in terms of place and period. Roman Fever is set at the turn of the 20th century and reflects the values and ethos of urban America at that time. Grace Ansley, though belonging to a particular historical era, cannot be said to typify all women of that era. The strongest proof of her uniqueness is obtained in comparison to her antagonist Alida Slade. Revolt of Mother, in contrast, is set in rural America. Its primary character, Sarah Penn, is a good representation of the homemakers of that generation. She shares the same problems that most women of her generation suffered, chief among them being male domination. While there are these undeniable differences in terms of their social mileau, the stories of the two women share many similarities. The rest of this essay will delve into these similarities.
The most common characteristic between Sarah Penn and Grace Ansley is . . . Read More
Both the chosen texts talk about the importance of faith in our social lives. The two authors, Jim Wallis and Sharon Salzberg, do not strictly equate faith with religion. While basing their arguments on Christian and Buddhist doctrines respectively, they attempt to portray faith as a communal activity. Moreover, they both suggest that, though religious faith is a subjective experience and springs from one’s heart, it is crucial to shaping politics and culture of a society.
Jim Wallis’ Get out of the House More Often is an invocation to be a social being. Too often, too many of us are so accustomed to living in our comfort zones, that we lose out on growing our spiritual selves. Based on his first-hand observations and experiences as a priest, as well as drawing from numerous anecdotes of his peers and friends, Wallis constructs a powerful essay on community service. But instead of serving our own interests and inclinations, he argues, it is only when we serve the . . . Read More
In Les Faux Monnayeurs, Andre Gide adopts an experimental literary style. Employing the novel-within-a-novel format, Gide tries to capture his own persona through the character of Edouard. The usage of omniscient and multiple narrators makes the reader privy to the most intimate thoughts of the characters. There are two distinct layers to the novel. The first is the obvious reference to pure and counterfeited gold coins, which is outwardly the plot of the story. But at another level, even the characters are shown to wear two personalities – real and artificial. To this end, Gide creates a careful sketch of each of the characters. The composite nature of their personalities is most evident in characters such as Edouard, Olivier, Bernard, Georges and Laura.
In comparison, the number of characters in Lettres d’une Peruvienne is lesser than that of Les Faux Monnayeurs. This is partly a result of the epistolary form employed by author Francoise de Graffigny. This novel form . . . Read More
Leila Marouane’s «La Jeune Fille et la Mere» is a thought provoking novel. Based on the author’s own experiences as an Algerian-French national, the novel is history, autobiography and fiction all at once. It is also a post-colonial work, in that the young girl Djamila’s dilemmas and conflicts are similar to her newly independent nation’s own struggles with identity and choice.
One of the struggles for the mother is with male domination. Even in fundamental questions of choosing a partner or choosing sexual lifestyle, women have little choice in Algeria. Worse, they are sometimes forced into abusive sexual relations and even prostitution. Frequent unwanted pregnancies and abortions are not uncommon. If this blatant abuse of women’s rights were to happen in France it would provoke an outrage. But in the patriarchal social milieu of Algeria, these events go on as a matter of routine. Author Marouane seems to be suggesting that nominal political freedom has no benign . . . Read More
It is important to remember that Regeneration is a work of fiction, even if it is based on a real historical event. Certain circumstantial settings of the novel are indeed true. For example, it is not contested that within the theatre of the First World War, many British soldiers suffered severe psychological trauma. Likewise, it is a fact that some of them were treated at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh. While retaining these basic facts of the war, author Barker had taken the liberty to change chronology of events or distil the collective experiences of the soldiers onto one character, etc. These literary licenses do not majorly diminish the utility of the work as a historical record. To the contrary they condense and encapsulate British soldiers’ experiences. The book proves to be both intellectually engaging and technically satisfying, while not compromising on history. This essay will argue that while accommodating the imperatives of the novel form, . . . Read More