Blog 8: Hybrids

Hybrid Identities: Race, Class and Gender in Postcolonial/Multicultural Britain

Image result for buddhism

“Sermon in the Guava Tree” by Kiran Desai

Women are expected to carry the weight of their family on their shoulders. This weight is called honor. The dishonoring of one’s family can be the difference between life and death for women in some countries. The pressure for women to be perfect mothers, perfect wives, perfect lovers never truly stops.

Mrs. Chawla remembered her own free spirited ways during her youth and encouraged her son to follow his own path. This path lead him to the spirituality of Buddhism. Buddhism involves the letting go of suffering. To let go of suffering, one must isolate the cause of the suffering and cease to suffer by following the path of cessation.

I don’t believe that anything Sampath said was profound. However, he seemed profound because no one else had thought to stop and think of solutions to their problems. Everyone is seemingly too busy to climb the metaphorical tree and think of the solutions/leaves that hang above their heads. Everyone is too busy being in the situations to think of suitable solutions to those situations.

Buddhism is about letting go the problems of everyday life. Those problems are keeping you from ultimate peace, from nirvana.

An important question was raised. How does one go about becoming one with God? Do they require knowledge or undying devotion. To me, it’s knowledge about one’s self and one’s surroundings. Devotion can only occur when one is devoted to knowing themselves first. I’m not religious in the slightest. However, I believe that God doesn’t want those who are strangers to themselves. I feel as though people question themselves and life too much, no one is willing to let go of atrocities or misfortunes because we as humans feed off of them. We can’t look away from train wrecks, car accidents, or blaring sirens racing towards fires. Something about chaos attracts us and something about peace bores. We don’t want suburbia, we want a dysfunctional utopia. We want the appearance of being perfect, without having to put in the work to achieve tranquility.

All of this makes me wonder though, does Sampath have more peace than others? Is he happier than others? Is he more enlighted than others? Or, is he a fraud?

Work Cited:

Ames, Natasha. “The Sermon in the Guava Tree.” Prezi.com, 1 Dec. 2011, prezi.com/drb9nu1rqgis/the-sermon-in-the-guava-tree/.

“Buddhism: Basic Beliefs and Practices.” Infoplease, Infoplease, http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/religion/eastern/buddhism/buddhism/basic-beliefs-and-practices.

Holcomb, Brett. “Buddhism – Lessons – Tes Teach.” Tes Teach with Blendspace, http://www.tes.com/lessons/pNDzQTHITpd8gw/buddhism.

Blog 7: Inheritance

Paternal Legacies: Twentieth-Century Perspectives on the Inheritance of Empire

bogpoems-tollundhead1

Seamus Heaney’s Punishment

Punishment is a correlation between the brutality in Ireland, and the brutality brought on “Bog People.” Bog people were dead bodies that mummified in peat bogs. This poem is about humanity or rather, a lack there of. These bog people were typically stripped of clothing physically. Metaphorically, bog people were stripped of all identity, left to rot in inhumane ways.

In the poem, we get a sense of vulnerability. The bog woman’s breasts are exposed, her frame is frail, her front is naked. Instead of being placed peacefully into the ground to enjoy an eternal slumber, she has been drowned in a decaying bog.

The poet compares the woman to a young tree, once full of potential and life, cut down before life could truly grow. As described in the video below, the woman’s head was shaved, which was common punishment for women who dated British soldiers during Ireland’s War of Independence. The shaving of a woman’s head now means liberation or a woman embroiled in a fight for her life. Back then however, the shaving of a woman’s head meant the desecration of a woman’s femininity and choice. The choice to love who she wished was no longer hers to make, it was her country’s.

The most powerful part of the poem to me was when the poet compared the noose around the woman’s neck to a ring. “Her noose a ring to store the memories of love” (Heaney Para. 5 and 6). This means that her death was a direct result of her romantic choices. Her perceived sins got her killed. The poet implies that society believed that if the woman had been a good girl and didn’t consort with British soldiers, that she wouldn’t have been killed.

Another very powerful part of the poem occurred when the poet called the woman a scapegoat. She was a being who died for the sins of others. Whether justified or not, the woman was sacrificed for societal ignorance and superiority.

Work Cited

Derby, Bruce. “Punishment by Seamus Heaney.” YouTube, YouTube, 25 Apr. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzqVEvyj4BY.

Jones, Lewis. “Doggerland: the Lost World Hidden beneath the North Sea.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 24 Mar. 2019, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what-to-read/doggerland-lost-world-hidden-beneath-north-sea/.

Spacey, Andrew. “Analysis of Poem Punishment by Seamus Heaney.” Owlcation, Owlcation, 20 Mar. 2019, owlcation.com/humanities/Analysis-of-Poem-Punishment-by-Seamus-Heaney.

Blog 6: Dark Humanity

Constructing the Colonial Subject: “Savage” Men and Silenced Women

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

I believe that Conrad was saying that the act of civilizing was in itself, uncivilized. Men thought to be the poster boys of civility were really brutes in gentle men’s clothing. Conrad’s novella brings to light the false sense of superiority felt by imperialists. The notion that one culture should smother another in the name of civility, is severely flawed. One can never understand how deep the roots of culture go. One will never fully comprehend the intricacies of human resilience. What imperialists failed to acknowledge, was the humanity of the people they worked to dominate. Humanity is not measured by the ability to walk upright or the ability to devour other beings for their own nourishment and fulfillment. Humanity is measured by fight, courage, spirit and heart. You have to fight for your rights when others try to take them from you. You must have the courage to keep going and while you fight. Finally, you must have the spirit and heart to love your fellow man when they do wrong to you and the understanding that they too are human just like you.

With all that being said, Conrad’s portrayal of the Native Africans was atrocious at best. He depicted them as mindless savages incapable of knowing anything beyond their “primitive ways.” This is ludicrous. All cultures have value, whether others agree with the customs of those cultures or not is irrelevant.

Conrad gave no context to the African’s actions and he gave no context to their culture. He gave them no voice. Although, how could he? He himself was a White European and therefore he made his main character a White European and therefore he and his main character had White European views. Who did he talk to about this novella? Did he ask the African people what they do and why they do it? Did he stop to think how his novella would continue thoughts of fear and the mistreatment of the African people? The notions that Africans are filthy and ignorant creatures. No, it’s clear that Conrad didn’t research the people he wrote about, and he didn’t seem to care about their humanity either.

He tried to depict his character and himself as allies, coming to the realization that civilizing another culture is wrong, but he misidentifies that same culture in the process. The effort and overall message is cause for admiration but the delivery is cause for repulsion.

Work Cited:

Course, Hero. “Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad | Character Analysis.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Nov. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GHjHIt-jnM.

Course, Hero. “Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad | Summary & Analysis.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Nov. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pO2t8hUXAdw.

Course, Hero. “Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad | Symbols.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Nov. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YY7lQGsA-I.

Course, Hero. “Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad | Themes.” YouTube, YouTube, 27 Nov. 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QdmpCCpE9-g&list=PLz_ZtyOWL9BTCqXxvZKoUcEFAyYRmKmVh&index=2.

“Dark Heart.” Pictures and Wallpapers, pictures.4ever.eu/love/hearts/dark-heart-154626.

Blog 5: Forbidden Love

Modernist Perspectives on Sexuality and Desire

E.M. Forster’s “The Other Boat”

“The Other Boat” speaks of a childhood crush tainted by societal pressures and expectations. Cocoanut loved Lionel since childhood, but was undoubtedly had to hide his feelings. During this time period, love between two of the same gender was something to hide, something to feel disgusted about. Racism also runs rampant in this story of mutualism behind closed doors.

As the boat leaves England and enters the Mediterranean, Lionel gives into the unknown. He allows himself to love Cocoanut sexually, but only in private.

The symbolism of doors is not lost in this story. At one point, Lionel realizes the door to the cabin was not locked while he and Cocoanut engaged in sexual activity. Passion amongst men had to be kept under wraps and behind closed doors. One wouldn’t dare show passion for another in those times. What occurred between Lionel and Cocoanut wouldn’t have been seen as love, but a disgusting act.

The thought of losing all that society has built him up to be destroys him. Without his status or fiancée, he is nothing. During this time period, a man was nothing without society instead of society being nothing without the man. Now individual beliefs are cherished, not always, but mostly. Back then, individual beliefs were things to fear and shun away from.

Lionel plunges himself in the ocean after murdering his lover in one final act of passion. That’s where the irony/lack of awareness comes in. Lionel didn’t want to lose his status and everything that he had built for himself over his lifetime, and yet he ruined it anyway. He ruined it by killing Cocoanut and killing himself. Who knows what kind of life he could have had if only he had stayed with Cocoanut at sea. I suppose he could have gone back to his life as he knew it, with a fiancée. However, I believe that going back to that life would have been disingenuous. One must live freely, without fear no matter the consequences. Lionel shouldn’t have had to commit such atrocious acts. Society shouldn’t dictate passion or love. Individuals should choose their own path without worry due to societal norms. Without the pressures of society, who knows what Lionel and Cocoanut could have accomplished.

In the end, Lionel’s own mother wanted nothing to do with, never to speak his name again. This proves how far societal disgrace goes. Mother’s are willing to mentally kill their sons for committing any indiscretion.

For a dual meaning of this story, Cocoanut was trying to get revenge on Lionel. Is Cocoanut jealous of Lionel’s skin color? His status? His upbringing? Is Cocoanut Lionel’s brother? Is he simply a lover? We will never know but Cocoanut knew the door was unlocked and proceeded on anyway. Was he trying to get them caught? Did he want Lionel to be disgraced? Was Cocoanut disgraced and now he wants Lionel to join in on the misery? Nothing can be certain, one can only speculate.

Work Cited:

Cuda, Anthony. The Passions of Modernism, http://www.sc.edu/uscpress/books/2009/3862.html.

Djinni. “E. M. Forster’s ‘The Other Boat’ (Deadline: 5/8).” E. M. Forster’s “The Other Boat” (Deadline: 5/8), 1 Jan. 1970, literarycollage.blogspot.com/2013/04/e-m-forsters-other-boat-deadline-58.html.

Kafalenos , Emma. Theme and Myth in E. M. Forster’s The Life to Come.

Kahan, Benjamin. “What Is Sexual Modernity?” What Is Sexual Modernity? | Modernism / Modernity Print+, modernismmodernity.org/forums/what-sexual-modernity.

Pitchdarklightheart. “The Other Plot on ‘The Other Boat.’” psubritlit2, 9 May 2018, psubritlit2.wordpress.com/2018/05/09/the-other-plot-on-the-other-boat/.

Blog 4: Women During War

Gender, Modernism, and War

Siegfried Sassoon’s Glory of Women

While I do not fully agree with Sassoon’s views, I do find his sonnet illuminating in some ways. The notion that we as a society romanticize bloody events such as wars speak to our desensitization. We have come to not only expect war, but accept it. Some even seem to relish in the high that comes with the wait of loved ones. Will they return alive, or with a toe tag?

Women during this time were seen as advisers, fort holders, and enablers. In this sonnet, it seems as though Sassoon believes that women enabled the war and possibly even enjoyed wartime. He made them appear to be sitting upon their high horses, knitting needles and handkerchiefs in hand, waiting for the men to return. Sassoon condemns the women’s pride, their pride for having a man go off to fight what Sassoon called, “a disgraceful war.”

The women in the poem fawn over battle wounds and mourn over memories of great heroes, but there are none in this war (according to Sassoon). (I myself have no opinion of WW1). These men are not heroes, they kill themselves by participating in this war and they kill others in the process.

Women at that time knew nothing of the war. They didn’t see a battle field, riddled with bloodied and battered bodies. They had only polite letters sent from their men and the mute fellas who came back alive. They had only men scarred by what they had seen, men too traumatized to speak of the true horror of their time in the war. So, women live in the before, dream in the during, and drift in the after. They live with their men before they go off to war, they imagine what they do while they’re there, and they co-habitat with the shells of men after they return.

However, I doubt that only women during that time romanticized the war. People of all genders and ages have longed and sought after war. They have dreamed of the gore, but their heads lay safely on pillows, instead of on the battlefield.

Work Cited:

“A World War One Propaganda Poster, ‘Women of Britain Say GO!’.” Casgliad y Werin Cymru, http://www.casgliadywerin.cymru/items/440866.

epicmelody101. “‘Glory of Women’ by Siegfried Sassoon (Poetry Reading).” YouTube, YouTube, 20 May 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZBtEJxhwPo.

Glory of Women by Siegfried Sassoon: Summary and Analysis, http://www.bachelorandmaster.com/britishandamericanpoetry/glory-of-women-summary-analysis.html#.XPPzLbzYrnE.

Kiwi. “‘Explosive’, ‘Shocking’ And ‘Alarming’ FISA Memo Set To Rock DC, ‘End Mueller Investigation.’” Wake Up New Zealand | What Does The Globalist Agenda / New WorldOrder Plan Mean For New Zealanders? [and the Rest of the World] |Current Events and Breaking News, http://www.wakeupkiwi.com/news-articles-55.shtml.

My own views do not reflect the views of the citation listed directly above. I only used an image off this website, nothing more.

Sassoon, Siegfried. “Glory of Women by Siegfried Sassoon.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57368/glory-of-women.

“World War 1 Propaganda Posters.” Examples of Propaganda from WW1 | If England Falls You Fall! Every Man of You Must Go, as We, Too, Must Go! Sir Rider Haggard in St. John, August, 1914., http://www.ww1propaganda.com/ww1-poster/if-england-falls-you-fall-every-man-you-must-go-we-too-must-go-sir-rider-haggard-st-john-.

Blog 3: Monster Masculinity

Fin-de-Siècle Masculinities: Monsters, Doubles, and Male Friendships

Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Stevenson understood the duality of mankind. He understood that we as people contemplate animalistic instincts and yet walk on two legs. Jekyll and Hyde are two sides of the same coin. A man looks to let his desires run wild while appearing civilized to those around him. On the flip side, a man/monster that cares nothing about civilization and all about causing grief and getting what he wants. Both sides seem opposite to one another, and yet both chose to let their urges take over.

The evil side of the coin, Mr. Hyde rears his ugly head. Hyde continues to overpower the good will of Dr. Jekyll until nothing can be salvaged. The demolition of this good nature was at first the very hope of Dr. Jekyll. The hope/ideal that life would be easier through a monster’s eyes. A life where consequences never pan out and to the brutal victor goes the spoils. Dr. Jekyll assumed that he could comfortably float on his good name while simultaneously having Hyde clinging to the other side of the raft. Jekyll didn’t want to give up his standing or power, but he wanted to live out his gruesome fantasies. He wanted to see how ghouls sleep at night, how they can make their beds and lay in them without a conscious. As Jekyll would learn, ghouls themselves sleep like cherubs on their bed of anarchy.

This brings me to some very important questions, if given the chance, would you (the reader) take a drug or potion to become your evil side? Everyone is tempted at least once in their life to do something bad. Why is it that we love trashy T.V.? Why are we fascinated by accidents and murder shows? Why do we as a society love to relish and partake in the horrors and eccentricities of life? Is it simple fascination, or, is it a secret hidden desire? Why does one wish to forgo societal norms to live life on the wild side? Would it be more dangerous to let that bad side take over, or would it be worse for it be bottled up deep inside?

There are spoilers in these videos. However, Course Hero has some good videos on this novella, so I thought I would include them in my post.

Work Cited:

“Art Mr Hyde Jekyll Dr And.” Air Freshener, airfreshener.club/quotes/art-mr-hyde-jekyll-dr-and.html.

Course, Hero. “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde | Context | Robert Louis Stevenson.” YouTube, YouTube, 20 May 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e44W5YGHopw.

Course, Hero. “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde | Plot Summary | Robert Louis Stevenson.” YouTube, YouTube, 20 May 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USY7YSVDNVY.

Course, Hero. “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde | Symbols | Robert Louis Stevenson.” YouTube, YouTube, 20 May 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSH9pUhQoAY.

Course, Hero. “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde | Themes | Robert Louis Stevenson.” YouTube, YouTube, 20 May 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jzm8iF9IVI.

Blog 2: Victorian Abnormalities

Late Victorians: “Failed” Marriages and “Other” Sexualities

Modern Love: Sonnet #1 by George Meredith

I took this poem to be about a possible unhappiness with a marriage. The wife’s sobs, shaking, hopelessness. All these things and more allude to the wife’s unhappiness with her romantic/marital life. The shaking of the common bed tells of a struggle with the marriage itself. Why mention the common bed that husband and wife share if there was not an uneasiness with sleeping in it? This implies that either the wife was forced into the marriage or is at least very unhappy about the marriage. This poem even alludes to the fact that the wife wants out of the marriage but is unable to do so. Given the time period, the Victorian Era, this is no surprise.

As the poem continues, it’s clear that the husband is also unhappy with the union. This is seen in the last five lines of the poem.

“Were moveless, looking through their dead black years, 
By vain regret scrawled over the blank wall. 
Like sculptured effigies they might be seen 
Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between; 
Each wishing for the sword that severs all” (Meredith 12-16).

These lines signify the death of not only their marriage, but also their happiness. Both hope for, “the sword that severs all,” which is either divorce or death, whichever comes first. Even though the husband tried earlier in the poem to comfort his wife, he understands her pain and shares it with her. The husband knows that he can’t take away the wife’s unhappiness or pain, because their union is the cause of it. The husband knows that a ended union only comes in death. A union during that time can’t end in divorce because divorce brings shame to the family and the people themselves.

The sonnet has a lot of powerful language with words such as strangled, venomous, dead and darkness. This piece is meant to evoke emotion and helplessness. The main point of the sonnet is that both people are unhappy and yet nothing can be done. In those times one had to hope that they made the right marital choice. Sometimes, one had to hope that the right marital choice was made for them. If you were married to the wrong person, oh well, because you would be stuck in that marriage until death did you part. Divorce wasn’t an option, it was a disgrace.

Work Cited:

Barnett, Ashley. “Promethean Desires: Historiography of Victorian Sexuality.” Atmostfear Entertainment, 4 Mar. 2019, http://www.atmostfear-entertainment.com/lifestyle/sexuality/promethean-desires-historiography-victorian-sexuality/.

Hazel, Chestnut and. “Poetry Reading: Modern Love by George Meredith, Sonnet 1.” YouTube, YouTube, 18 Feb. 2019, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lp4G758ny0.

Meredith, George. “Modern Love: I by George Meredith.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44703/modern-love-i.