The main theme I noticed throughout this unit and tried to describe through my blog entries is Reflection on the timeless human person. We may live in a more advanced and technology-driven environment but our internal human nature has not changed drastically. Jane Austen’s “Emma”, in my opinion, felt oddly relatable despite being written years before I was born. That is because of the characters’ traits that I realized also resides within me. We can tell ourselves we are the better person, and we do not think selfishly, but at times we do. However, that is not because we are bad people. Emma was not a bad person either; she was just blinded. She was blinded by social status and stereotypes, and she tried to fit the mold of an upper-class, educated woman until she realized she did not have to. It does not have to be just one character. I related to Mr. Gradgrind’s insecurities as well as Sissy Jupe’s spontaneity. I am not a person of cold facts, but I used to be a person that put up a defensive shield to protect myself. I felt Mr. Gradgrind’s facts were his shield, and it was his ways of protecting himself and his children. To him, the facts were comprehensive, understandable and controllable, unlike Sissy’s free-spirited sense of judgement, which I felt he was threatened by. As I have grown up and realized that there are things simply out of my control, I let go of holding on so tight to my shields and just accept things as they are. I think Charles Dickens created Mr. Gradgrind as an example of what industrialism could do to us. He was a child as well, probably just as carefree as Sissy, but the difference was the context that brought them up. Mr. Gradgrind lived in Coketown, a mechanic society, while Sissy grew up in a circus. The society we live in today is not as intense as Coketown was, but I still felt a sense of undermining industrialism residing within.
George Eliot’s “Silas Marner” showed me that we are more than what we think we are. All we need is a chance. Silas seemed like a man out of touch with society, abandoned and imprisoned. It took losing everything he had to gain the one thing he needed. Eppie was his Gold, and she was his second chance. In addition, Tolstoy’s “Master and Man” gave a similar vibe, proving not everyone is entirely one-sided. Vasili was portrayed as an evil character but at the end, he sacrificed his life to save his peasant, Nikita. I would object that it was an action driven by good will and selflessness, because I felt a personality like Vasili could not have a change of heart that easily, despite having been in a desperate circumstance. In my opinion, he was saving Nikita with the intention of having Nikita help him later, because if Nikita had died, he would be stranded on his own and have no help. Therefore, while it was a great gesture, it was not entirely selfless because he had his own interest in mind as well. However, I would not agree that this was a negative behavior. That is an evident behavior in modern society and as we learned from Eliot, was evident in past times as well. Oscar Wilde’s wild exaggeration of his characters was probably the most educational experience I have had in this course. The audience can have a laugh at Lady Bracknell’s absurdity, but only because they see themselves in her. The Victorian times may have passed, but the community we live in has yet to fully evolve from such superficial standards.
In conclusion, not only has this unit been satisfactory, it has been reflective and therapeutic towards my own personal development and self-realization.