Both Walt Whitman and Thomas Bailey Aldrich are important poets in the American literary canon. While Whitman continues to influence and contextualize contemporary American poetry, the popularity and reference to Aldrich have greatly diminished. One can see why this disparity has come about from the two poems dealt with in this essay. Whitman’s poem titled A Broadway Pageant is one of appreciation and warmth toward the people of the Orient and beyond. The poem was written in the year 1860 on the occasion of a Japanese envoy’s visit to United States. Consistent with the spirit of the country’s founding principles such as liberty and freedom, the author welcomes the envoy with enthusiasm. His enthusiasm overshoots his subjects, as Whitman makes references to different races, ethnicities and cultures of the world with poetic grace. This is in sharp contrast with Thomas Aldrich’s poem, titled Unguarded Gates, which takes on hues of Xenophobia and White . . . Read More
The book Reviving Ophelia, which is written by Mary Pipher, deals with the topic of adolescence in girls. The author peruses widely accepted concepts in the fields of psychology, sociology and gender studies to illuminate her thesis. At the outset, Pipher talks about the numerous challenges imposed on adolescent girls by the society of today. For example, she sees contemporary society as a ‘girl-poisoning’ one, which essentially forces young girls to turn into “female impersonators who fit their whole selves into small, crowded spaces”. Instead of letting the girl find her true calling through a process of exploration and experiment, the strictures of American society narrows down the scope of their individual expression. The author cites numerous anecdotal examples in the book, by way of which she throws light on key psychological insights on female adolescence. Reviving Ophelia does not stop with illustrations of the state of young women in the United . . . Read More
The novel ‘The Reader’ written by Bernhard Schlink as well as its movie adaptation starring Kate Winslet as Hanna received critical acclaim. The movie version got several nominations in the Academy Awards. But, as is the case with motion pictures based on works of literature, certain aspects of the written work tends to manifest itself in a diluted form in the celluloid version. This is true with respect to The Reader as well. While the movie certainly deserves its acclaim, especially on its technical aspects, there are crucial differences between the two versions. This essay will argue that the movie The Reader fails to capture the central thrust and focus of the novel in terms of capturing the personalities and thoughts of Hanna and Michael in their entirety. As a result of this deviation, it would stand second to the novel in terms of its aesthetic and moral significance to the audience.
When evaluating the novel, one has to see it in the context of the . . . Read More
Iago’s hatred of Othello emerges from a variety of reasons. At the outset, Iago is Othello’s servant and there is bound to be a systemic hatred against one’s masters. Then there is Desdemona, the most gracious and virtuous wife of Othello. The intimate and exemplary nature of their mutual love and devotion inspires envy and none more strongly from Iago himself. In the play, Iago is so placed that he sees opportunities to improve his station in life by bringing about his master’s demise. Seen from this perspective, Iago holds no special grievance against Othello, but rather the latter happens to be a mere hurdle to Iago’s social and economic progress. Shakespearean scholars through the centuries have forwarded a variety of reasons for Iago’s apparent hatred of Othello. This essay will provide the whole gamut of reasons offered by scholars, namely sexual envy, material opportunity, religious belief, ethnic and racial prejudice, social and economic progress, etc; but it . . . Read More
The novel Anton Reiser by Karl Philipp Moritz deals with issues of growing up in Germany toward the end of the eighteenth century. This semi-autobiographical work traces the first twenty one years the author’s own life. The author performs a retrospective analysis of his psychological development during these years. This essay will pertain itself to one particular aspect of the work, namely, the analogy between Anton Reiser’s resort to reading books with the modern day teen phenomenon of using recreational drugs.
A careful scrutiny of the early life of Reiser gives clues to his psychological development and his propensity to fall back on escapist activities. Foremost among the conditions was the family environment in which he grew up. He has a very unpleasant childhood as his parents never get along. From this backdrop of a dysfunctional family he is apprenticeship with a pietistic hat-maker proves equally troublesome and is forced to go back to school. His . . . Read More
King Lear is widely acknowledged as one of William Shakespeare’s great tragedies. This essay will identify and analyze a couple of key scenes from the play which makes a significant contribution to the overall development of plot, its character and the theme.
Act 1 Scene 1
The very first scene from the first act is important for various reasons. Firstly, it introduces all the central characters in the play and gives an indication as to their dispositions. Of the three daughters of King Lear, the two elder ones Goneril and Regan play the roles of antagonists along with the ever conspiring illegitimate son of Gloucester, Edmund. King Lear assembles in his court his heirs-apparent and key members of the nobility as he decides to announce the details of inheritance of his Kingdom. The ensuring dialogue between King Lear and his three daughters sets the tone for subsequent developments in the plot and also captures the . . . Read More
In the novel Desirable Daughters, the main character Tara Lata struggles with recurrent themes of Self versus Society, Self Destruction and Self Discovery. Desirable Daughters belongs to that genre of American literature which deals with issues of immigrant life and cultural assimilation. There are sufficient works in this genre that represent Hispanic, African and Chinese ethnic minorities in the United States, but relatively few that speak for South Asian immigrants in general and Indian Americans in particular. Bharati Mukherjee’s work fills this void in the American literary canon. One can say that the novel is written by a woman for a women audience, as the story’s central female protagonists. There are also elements of feminist thought that is woven into the passages of the novel, although, in its entirety, the novel was not meant to propagate the idea of feminism. The rest of this essay will elucidate the important themes dealt with in the novel.
The foremost and . . . Read More
Patrick Henry is still regarded as the ‘Homer of Orators’ within the American literary canon. He is most renowned for his words ‘Give me Liberty or Give me Death’ which he uttered to his followers on the eve of the Declaration of Independence. A recently taken public opinion poll by Gallup found that nearly one in two American associate Patrick Henry with his heroic oratory. According to the poll results, he stands alongside Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt as one of the most . . . Read More
‘Two Kinds’ is the last story in the second segment of Amy Tan’s highly popular debut book, The Joy Luck Club. The book is divided into four interconnected segments with each of them containing a group of stories which can stand alone themselves. While the author had intended the book to be a short-story collection, it is seen by critics as a novel due to the interrelated and cohesive narrative. Similar to other stories in the collection, ‘Two Kinds’ is a depiction of complexities in mother-daughter relationships in San Francisco’s China-town. The focus of the story is the often disruptive but inevitable “distance between mothers who were born in China before the communist revolution and thus have been cut off from their native culture for decades, and their American-born daughters who must negotiate the twin burdens of their Chinese ancestry and American expectations for success”. While the protagonist and narrator of the story Jing-mei persistently thwarts her . . . Read More
Scott Fitzgerald’s well-crafted short story ‘Winter Dreams’ is set in the 1920s, which is also referred to as the Jazz Age in American history. Following the lull and chaos of the First World War, American society was primed to embrace a liberal and materialistic culture. The conventional structure of society was shaken up and new attitudes toward religion, morality and personal relations emerged. The widespread patronage of art and artists was central to this cultural upheaval. An important aspect of the short story is its masterly depiction of this changing cultural milieu.
The plot of the story serves as a narrative foundation and gives coherence to it. Alongside elements of fiction also lie historical facts about the 1920s America. In this respect, the story is both a well-crafted piece of art and a historical document. Through the characters of Dexter and Judy, Fitzgerald portrays the shallowness of the then American society. Judy Jones is a wealthy and attractive . . . Read More