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September 23rd, 2007

Hahahahaha

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September 15th, 2007

I might need a doctor

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I’ve been reading too much books again. My head is buzzing and my eyes are burning yet I went to the library and took out 12 books all of which I have to read and critique by the 24th September. Why have my reading lists got to be so long.

Bolded text equals books I’ve already read. Books to read this week or as follows:

The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
George Gissing, The Odd Women
Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Daughters of Decadence, ed. Elaine Showalter
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw
Horace Walpole, The Castle of Otranto
Matthew Lewis, The Monk
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

I hope to eventually post reviews for all these books.

August 21st, 2007

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‘War, which for a moment was no more.’ To what extent do you find that war and heroism are themes of writing of the period?

During the eighteenth century, the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars left Europe destroyed economic decline, political turmoil, and uncertainty. This influenced the writers and poets of the day who were especially vocal and indignant about the repercussions of the war. The works created at this time showed just that just because the war was over that did not mean that everything had gotten back to normal. The poems to be considered in this paper are Lord Byron (1788-1824).and his satirical poem Don Juan written in 1819 and two propaganda poems from Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) England in 1819 and The Masque of Anarchy (1819). These poems illustrate the failures within society after the war, they also show that heroes are pointless and ineffectual and that it is a united people that can conquer the ruling classes and bring about change.
In his political poem England 1819, Shelley lists the break down of society beginning with the higher echelons and working his way down to the common people. His poem is a shaming indict as to what England had become under the rule of King George and Shelley begins his poem by passionately denouncing the king.
“An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king;”
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn,--mud from a muddy spring,--
“The prince regent’s nine years as head of the state had so signally failed to endear him to his people that he hardily dared to show his face in public.” () The princes fear no better, they are the worse role model for their race. Who flows through as if they don’t care likes the king they are blind. “Mud from a muddy spring” again the dismissal to the king that they are in his image.
“Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
but leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,”
This refers to the rulers, who are blind to the countries suffering but continue regardless to hang on to the country and its resources. ‘Leech-like’ they continue to suck the blood out of an anemic country that is particularly vulnerable after the long years of war. The rulers thus appear like predators, attacking a defenseless country and by proxy the people. So enraptured by their gluttony that they are blind to the dissent around them.
“A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field,--
An army, which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield,”
In comparison to the higher echelons is the people who suffer from their arrogance and gluttony. The people are oppressed and starved and have not the resources to provide for themselves. The poem goes on to say the army cuts down anyone who would reproach them for their behavior. The army is corrupt and dangerous to its own people.
“Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay;
Religion Christless, Godless -a book sealed;
A Senate, -Time's worst statute unrepealed, -
Are graves from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day”.
Who or what the phantom is, is not mentioned within the poem but seems to be the possibility of liberty won through revolution, as it was won in France.
Shelley commiserates in his poem is the break down of society, it illustrates that those in power should be taking care of the people and this refers to people high in society, such as the church, the state, the ruling classes and the army. This poem calls for revolution. Shelley cites all that is wrong with the country and encourages revolutionary attitudes.
While Shelley vehemently calls for revolution in his poem, Byron approaches his topic more subtly instead of pointing out every error and every failing within society as Shelley does in England 1819 he uses satire to show his personal opinion. Don Juan tells of the life of a man who is enamored of women. While this does not seem particularity heroic Bryon uses his protagonist as a basis to discuss political themes and his own personal concerns. “Don Juan represents the full scope of Bryon’s achievements it demonstrates a range of subjects, personal, political and philosophical […]” (55 Bryon)
“I want a hero, an uncommon want,
When every year and month sends forth a new one,
Till after cloying the gazettes with cant,
The age discovers he is not the true one.”
Extracted from the first canto of Don Juan the poem opens with a declarative demand. The narrator wants a hero and he does not see anything particularly strange about that. Byron goes on to suggest that is not an uncommon want, alluding that others would not mind having a hero as well. He says there are frequently people suggesting that they are heroes but can do nothing for the country and fill the newspapers with what they can not do. In time people realize that the hero that they had faith in was no hero at all.
“Of such as these I should not care to vaunt;
I'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan.
We all have seen him in the pantomime,
Sent to the devil somewhat ere his time.”
What makes this poem particularly interesting is that the protagonist Don Juan does not have any heroic qualities instead the only thing he mangers to do is sleep with another mans wife and runs away. Bryon seems to be saying that though a hero is needed that none can be found and they have all been done away with. What this poem seems to suggest is while people most people do not have the heroic age and takes some one with truly exceptional gifts, which Don Juan does not have, to be a hero. He could be also saying that the idea of heroic is a romantic ideal and that in reality it is the truly exceptional that have the aptitude for heroism.
The Masque of Anarchy was written following the Peterloo massacre -the dispersal by the yeomanry on an unarmed crowd protesting quietly – that took place in August 1819. “This inspired some of […] Shelley’s best and most direct political writing.” This poem similar to that of England 1819 calls for the people to make a stand against tyranny. It mentions. The Foreign Secretary, Castlereagh who appears as a mask worn by Murder, the Home Secretary, Lord Sidmouth whose guise is taken by Hypocrisy, and the Lord Chancellor, Lord Eldon whose ermine gown is worn by Fraud. Led by Anarchy, a skeleton with a crown, they try to take over England, but are slain by a mysterious armored figure that arises from a mist. By depicting these political figures in these symbolic figures Shelley shows his hatred of tyranny. However, it is the last two stanzas of the poem that sums up the ideals of Shelley. “Though his own reaction to social injustice was to fight, he knew that the passions aroused by fighting were often worse than the evils the fight aimed to remove (149 essays on Shelley) so in his poem he called for a revolutionary stance against the tyrants that were oppressing the people.

"And these words shall then become
Like Oppressions thundered doom,
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Heard again--again--again.

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many — they are few
“What is foremost here is struggle, unity and revolutionary consciousness; his is not a moral argument but political extortion, an appeal to physical superiority.”(209)


In conclusion the war was a long drawn out affair and even when it was over the repercussions of it still resonated through out England. Shelley’s England 1819 depicts the social decline of the country after the war by giving a critique as to what the ruling classes were doing while a disenfranchised people starved. He portrays shows how the war has ravaged the country and illustrates the failures of the ruling institutions but he does not ask for a hero. This theme of social decline is continued in The Mask of Anarchy which depicted Shelley’s hatred of tyrants again he does not ask for a hero but begs for revolutionary change. He encourages the people to make a stand and not to be reliant on any one figure. Bryon’s shows the direct opposite. He uses the fictional character of Don Juan to illustrate that there are no longer any heroes by making him an anti hero.

Bibliography
Allot Miriam, Essays on Shelley Liverpool University Press, 1982.
D. Jump John, Byron Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972.
King-Hele Desmond, Shelley – his thought and work 2nd edition Macmillan, 1971.
Wu, Duncan, Romanticism an Anthology 3rd edition Blackwell, 2006.

August 17th, 2007

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http://www.arts.uottawa.ca/writcent/hypergrammar/sntstrct.html

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http://litmed.med.nyu.edu/Annotation?action=view&annid=12479

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If Lord Byron created Don Juan as a response to the lack of heroes and heroic subjects, then perhaps he is stating that the time for writing about heroes such as were covered in books by Virgil and Homer is gone forever because we now understand that those kinds of heroes never really existed in the first place. Juan is in no way relative to the heroic figure of past literature; Don Juan's greatest accomplishment is to bed another man's wife. And while this feat—apart from the fact that it's hardly comparable to winning a great battle or stealing fire from the gods—isn't totally unrelatable to actions taken by previous heroes, the difference here is that Juan runs away when caught and apparently makes no effort to come back and save Julia from her appointed destiny with a nunnery. Juan expresses no heroic features and perhaps that is Byron's point. Heroes in reality are those who rise to the occasion presented them. In fact, they are acted upon and heroically respond to unexpected situations. But in point of fact, few people do respond heroically, preferring to take the easy way out. And in a time in which the Poet Laureate of the nation took the easy way out and turned his back on the radical beliefs of his youth, Byron may be saying that it's only the truly exceptional man (or woman) who turns out to be heroic. And very few of those exist during any age. So perhaps it's time to turn one's attention in poetry to the person who isn't heroic, but who instead actually resembles the true nature of the majority of mankind. It might be that Don Juan is literature's first anti-hero and maybe that's what Byron was attempting to create by returning to the heroic form to write about such an obviously non-heroic character.

April 20th, 2007

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