Blog 9 – Magnified

“This play, while mocking deeply at the tribal customs of the late Victorians, has, at its heart, a wish to point the human race in the right direction: away from fraud, hypocrisy and such indecent preoccupation with material realities.” – Michael Griffith.
Write whether you agree or disagree with the last paragraph in this blog.

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Oscar Wilde always leave an aftertaste in his work. He does not just create stories, he creates a mirror for readers to reflect on. “The Importance of Being Earnest” was a masterpiece of satire, parody, over-the-top production of the Victorian society standards, and while I did not approve of the character’s sense of judgement, I strangely saw myself in them.

John Worthing was an educated, self-made man. In today’s society, he would be celebrated and inspire many, but back in Victorian times, he was judged by something he could not change: being abandoned by his birth parents. Found in a handbag at a train station, it is amazing to think how far he had come and achieved. Sadly, none of those factors were considered by Lady Bracknell. An overdramatic creation of Wilde, Lady Bracknell was a strong, strict and powerful woman of the higher class looking down on Worthing’s unfortunate past. When considering him as an option for her daughter, she did not take in consideration whether his love was authentic or not. All she cared about were the materialistic aspects. Honestly, I don’t fully object her point of view. In my opinion, it is important to take in consideration a person’s financial status and wealth. However, that should not be the only determining factor, just an addition to the bigger picture. For Lady Bracknell, it was obvious she was intimidate by the likes of Worthing, educated, independent and powerful. She never believed in education as she saw it as a dangerous tool to overthrow the social hierarchy. In other words, Lady Bracknell was uneducated, and her fragile social status was threatened by Worthing. She dug deep in his past hoping to find a flaw, and when she couldn’t find one, she created one. Worthing could not control his situation of being abandoned, but Lady Bracknell held it against him anyway because it was the only flaw she could cling on to judge him. As for Gwendolyn, naive as she was, the only reason she fell in love with Worthing was because of his name. She fantasized about nothing but his name and only that. You would expect this kind of behavior from a child, not a grown woman of high class. However, there have been times I based my judgment of another individual on depending on their name. We do it without realizing at times. It is uncomfortable to think about, because a person’s name says nothing about them; it’s not even something we earned, it’s given to us by our parents. Therefore, it is ridiculous to define someone by their name, yet we do it everyday. We may laugh at Gwendolyn for her childish reasoning but we are Gwendolyn, however hard it is to accept.

The genius in Wilde’s work is that he made us laugh at the characters that were based on us. We are John Worthing, a man of good character but with a troublesome past. We are Gwendolyn, an immature adult with a child-like sense of judgement. We are also Lady Bracknell, an individual with a strong exterior but filled with insecurities and intimidation. We may like to see that we have evolved as a society, but we cannot deny that there is little change that have been made. “The Importance of Being Earnest” is a magnifying glass pointing out the wrongs of our society, with hopes of us realizing our ways and change for the better. Wilde made us look at his creation and to answer an important question: “Is that who we want to be?”

Blog 7 – Trés

CRITICAL
In your own words explain what you sense is the real difference between the fictional worlds of George Eliot, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen.

What makes Jane Austen stood out from Dickens and Eliot is the fact that she did not follow the mold. “Emma” was written during the Romantic era but it broke the mold for Romanticism, therefore she became a pioneer of the genre. Emma achieved her happy ending, but it was a difficult road for her to get there. In addition, Austen never moved the spotlight away from Emma through the entire story. Even when it was about the other characters, there was still a glimpse of Emma. Such can be symbolic for how society viewed a person of her status at the time, always in the center, the talk of the town and gawked at with a magnifying lens. She was always under pressure from those around her, unlike Silas Marner and Sissy Jupe. Emma never had to endure prison or grow up in a dysfunctional foster family, but she walked her own winding road and ultimately reached the end.

Charles Dickens was more than just a great writer, he was a sensational storyteller that took his readers on a journey with him. Personally, it was hard for me to get through “Hard Times”, hence the title. However, that is not a stab at his style of writing, but to compliment Dickens’ commitment. Coketown was a bland monotonous suburb where everybody was a copy of each other, and there was nothing but fact. His use of long sentences and dull description of colors played along into giving readers an authentic experience of the town itself. Emma had a difficult journey but the readers were standing by observing, whereas they would need to follow Sissy till the very end to truly appreciate “Hard Times”. This is not a feel-good, light-hearted read but rather a representation of society in the past. It is not as intense as the rollercoaster that is Silas’s life, it feels more like swimming against a lazy river, and that is exactly the point.

Silas Marner had an eventful adventure throughout his life, with a surprise waiting at every corner. After enduring prison for 16 years, he had to have his gold stolen from him and lost everything in order to gain the only thing he ever needed. Eppie was the Gold that made the journey all worthwhile. Eliot also developed her characters and helped them develop into better versions of themselves. Silas has become a selfless father figure that was willing to let his daughter pursue her own happiness. Eppie matured to a wonderful lady with a clear outlook on life and towards her future goals. In the end, they rejected materials for dignity and affection. This is definitely a more light-hearted read compared to the other two stories.

Blog 3 – Tainted Black

CRITICAL
rite a brief critical appraisal of what you think Dickens’s main complaints are about Coketown- from the passage we explored in tutorials today.

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Coketown, as described by Dickens, is a monotonous suburb created for working and only that. The most mentioned colors are dark heavy tones, smudged by the blackness of coal. The town citizens follow a daily routine with little change, if at all. Deprived of all creativity, they are surrounded by “fact, fact, fact”. The entire area is smothered by a “serpent of smoke”, infiltrating every corner and leaving no exceptions. The intentional use of long sentence give readers a sense of the dull, monotonous atmosphere surrounding the town, uncomfortable and unsettling. The Coketown citizens knew only of work and nothing else, because they were not allowed to do anything else. The second paragraph, which is basically made up of one really long sentence, made it clear of the things they were forced to give up, because their comfort and basic needs were of no use to the industrial machine that they were a part of. All the buildings were built and painted the same without a distinctive feature, to a point where one could have been mistaken for another. The only exception seemed to be the churches, but even that fact seems skeptical. Are they built just for the sake of having one or is it built with the people’s interests taken in consideration? It is difficult to decipher whether it is really a safe place for religion or just another part of the machine, disguised as a “elegancy of life”. The story ended quite interestingly, with the last sentences imitating the rhythm of the bible. It can be seen as Dickens’ way of mocking the religious persuasions, all eighteen of them, for using the excuse of caring for the people to deprive them even more. For a town made for industrialism, “the people” seemed to be weirdly invested in religion, so much so that eighteen churches have been built and more are in the progress. Perhaps, by giving people the illusion that are somewhat free, it is easier for the government to control them. Dickens did not make clear his feelings towards Coketown, but if readers are not willing to dig deep and put in the work themselves to discover his intention, they might as well be one of the Coketown people.

Blog 2 – To each their own

CRITICAL: It has been said about Jane Austen that she is basically trying to show her readers how they should live their lives. Do you agree with this statement?

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“Be who you are, but before you do that, make sure who you are is somewhat good” – Katya Zamolodchikova, UNHhhh, 2016

None of us ever has the right to tell other individuals how to live their lives, that is correct. However, there is a difference between being controlling and pointing out the wrong. The novel is literally about disapproving Emma’s behavior of manipulation while trying to help her see her true potential to grow as a person. I disagree entirely with the statement, because Jane Austen was not trying to force her ideas of life upon her readers, but instead showed them how to rise above the stereotypes and take control for their own lives. Emma at the beginning was not her authentic self, but the embodiment of expectations from society. Even though her matchmaking plans were with good intentions, it was still a serious violation of trust. As the story progressed, with the help of Mr. Knightley, she eventually realized the consequences of her action and turned over a new leaf, quite impressively. Personally, Emma being able to transform and progress is a healthy example of how an individual can rise above their environment and take control of their lives. Granted, she was never poor physically, but psychologically, she grew up without a mother’s love and the only one that could provide that for her, Miss Taylor, could only do so in a limited amount of time. In addition, her family stood quite high in the social hierarchy at the time, meaning she had been under a large amount of pressure from the outside naturally. Such circumstances can very much break a person and lead them astray. However, Emma rose and became a much better version of herself, the version Mr. Knightley knew for sure was there since the beginning.