Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Today during class, Natalia mentioned the importance of detaching yourself from your writing a little. When she said this, I felt like she was referring specifically to me. (This does seem egocentric of me.) Often when I write, I become emotionally attached to my writing, and I feel like the final product is a great achievement. Somehow, the paper I had just written was a part of me, and I had just put down a part of me on paper. A finished essay is only satisfying to me if I feel that the paper went the way I wanted it to go. When writing gets frustrating, it can ruin my mood for the rest of the day. This prevents me from being productive and lends itself to procrastination. This is how I felt about this final research paper which took me awhile to even start the revision process, because I already knew how unhappy I was with my first draft. I know writing isn't supposed to be perfect, but I at least want to be happy with what I had created. Fortunately, I'm happy now with my final draft, and hopefully, it's better for my readers.
This is very different from my experience writing the reading paper. With that one, I had a clear vision of what I wanted my paper to look like in the end, and I worked it out the way I had planned. Even the revision process seemed to come naturally, because I felt like the paper was only getting better and better.
I took this class thinking it would give me more practice in constructing analytical essays since I have to write a lot of essays in Gender and Women's Studies. One of my weaknesses in writing is not having enough analysis in my paper. Many times, I receive my paper back with comments such as: "This is a good start, but I would like you to go deeper in the analysis." I still received these kinds of comments on my paper, but hopefully I've gotten better.
Anyway, I hope everyone is working hard or even done with their paper. Good luck and I hope everyone enjoys the last 10 days left of summer.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Even today, we see how easily people pass the blame to other people in higher positions. There is no doubt that our political representatives (i.e. mayor, senator, governor, president) have a responsibility to serve the people, but too often I feel that people often put the blame on politicians without looking at how they may be contributing to the problem. The country's problems will only progress for the better if more people take responsibility for the problem and collectively seek a solution. As we can see through Samantha's failed attempt to lobby politicians for women's rights, one person is not very effective. It takes a whole mass of people who are in support of each other to get something done. Our government officials can only do so much, and sometimes they do nothing at all, which gives the ordinary people more reason to take up the problems society faces.
Monday, August 11, 2008
I’ve been a little caught up with all the revision for the final draft. The peer review and Natalia’s comments have been incredibly helpful in allowing me to understand some of the problems with my argument. My paper focuses on the commentary on Transcendentalism and Fourierism in The Blithedale Romance, specifically as it relates to the type of society they envision. When I was doing my research, I took it for granted that the apparent reflections of Transcendental and Fourierist philosophy within the novel were indications that he was attacking the social framework they envisioned. For example, I use the similarities between certain personal attitudes of Hollingsworth and Coverdale in Transcendentalist philosophy, which are seen as being personally and socially harmful, as indicating that the social system implied by this ideology was incoherent and incapable of being realized. On reflection, it is unwarranted to make this conclusion. Very little I wrote in my paper actually discussed the relationship between the structure of Blithedale itself and the two philosophies. My research proposal was oriented towards utopian socialism, so naturally I wanted to extend what I noticed in the novel as meaning that the variant of utopian socialism prescribed by these two ideologies is problematic, when in fact I don’t really present much evidence for it.
To remedy this problem, I’m moving towards focusing on the personal aspects of Transcendentalism and Fourierism. What I found critical in The Blithedale Romance of both philosophies was largely focused on the individual. Neither philosophy worked properly in the characters, to the extent they adopted them. I’m not entirely sure to what extent utopian socialism will play a role once I’m done, considering the change of focus. Regardless, I think I have a clearer notion now of what argument I should make.
After a short introduction similar to the Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of Sentiments gives the following list of transgressions:
- He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise.
- He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice.
- He has withheld from her rights which are given to the most ignorant and degraded men - both natives and foreigners.
- Having deprived her of this first right as a citizen, the elective franchise, thereby leaving her without representation in the halls of legislation, he has oppressed her on all sides.
- He has made her, if married, in the eye of the law, civilly dead.
- He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns.
- He has made her morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master - the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.
- He has so framed the laws of divorce, as to what shall be the proper causes of divorce, in case of separation, to whom the guardianship of the children shall be given; as to be wholly regardless of the happiness of the women - the law, in all cases, going upon a false supposition of the supremacy of a woman, and giving all power into his hands.
- After depriving her of all rights as a married woman, if single and the owner of property, he has taxed her to support a government which recognizes her only when her property can be made profitable to it.
- He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employments, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration.
- He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most honorable to himself. As a teacher of theology, medicine, or law, she is not known.
- He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education - all colleges being closed against her.
- He allows her in church, as well as State, but a subordinate position, claiming Apostolic authority for her exclusion from the ministry, and, with some exceptions, from any public participation in the affairs of the Church.
- He has created a false public sentiment by giving to the world a different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated but deemed of little account in man.
- He has usurped the prerogative of Jehovah himself, claiming it as his right to assign for her a sphere of action, when that belongs to her conscience and her God.
- He has endeavored, in every way that he could to destroy her confidence in her own powers, to lessen her self-respect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.
"Elective franchise," in the above, refers to the right to vote, but other than that I think it is pretty easy to understand. Most of them involve suffrage in some way, which indicates that women probably viewed that as the most fundamental of the rights they lacked. For the most part, I think these are legitimate complaints, although some I don't really think are legitimate rights (for anybody, not just women), such as the third-to-last item on the list, since it amounts to a claim on a particular standard of moral judgment, which is really outside the scope of political rights.
I did find this interesting, just because it gives a more explicit reference point for many of the issues being raised in Sweet Cicely.
In my paper I wanted to prove that Hawthorne uses the novel to criticize Margaret Fuller and the Feminist Movement of the 19th century. Hawthorne was basically a cultural analyst. Like any author, he wrote about what he knew and was passionate about and that was his culture and society. His works essentially became the social commentary of the time.
During his time, in the 19th century, is when the first wave of Feminism spawned and it would only be fitting that Hawthorne would write about it. It becomes lucid through Hawthorne and the rest of 19th century New England was not supportive of the movement. Hawthorne uses Blithedale to criticize Fuller, who spearheaded the Feminist Movement, and the movement itself.
- Hawthorne is influenced by the Puritan Faith, which defines the traditional role of Women
- 19th Century New England was not supportive of the movement
- Zenobia parallels Margaret Fuller
- Zenobia fails, she falls for Westervelt and Hollingsworth; Women's down fall is emotion
- Zenobia's character would not be possible in the 19th century
- Success of Priscilla and her embodiment of Women
Maybe Hawthorne is trying to, instead of simply speaking out against reform, show how people do not have the right, good intentions in mind. He seems to be criticizing reformers also, and thus I think that he is bitter against people who claim to be helpful or philanthropic, but are in fact living a lie. For this, I might even have to research a bit about specific reformers such as Theodore Parker or Samuel Howe. But, as I ponder more, I think I could make a viable argument that connects Hawthorne's negative views on reform to his criticism on the people/society itself. In fact, this relates to one of my quotes that stated "that man's efforts to improve society will continue to accomplish nothing until the[reformer's] heart is purified" (Turner 705). While this is ambiguous by itself, taken into context, one can see that Hawthorne is criticizing reformers. A similar argument could be that Hawthorne is trying to tell reformers themselves, instead of warning others, that they should set some real goals that could accomplish something.
I keep looking back at my paper and realize that Natalia was definitely right, and my argument was basically saying "Hawthorne thought reform was bad." I'm going to go look into this new argument, and maybe even think of some more. Hopefully I can go more in-depth.
Turner, Arlin. "Hawthorne and Reform." The New England Quarterly 15 (1942): 700-714. JSTOR. Berkeley. 24 July 2008.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Why is procrastination so hard to fight? I was planning on revising my paper and finishing Sweet Cicely. Instead, I spent some time making radioactive celery in my kitchen. Why am I so easily distracted?
How can he have it both ways? How can he make a realistic romance based on “his actual reminiscences” (1) without comparisons being drawn between reality and his fiction?
He wants to be “allowed a license with regard to every-day Probability,” or in other words, to be able to create a completely fictitious story, but he wants to simultaneously prevent “the render[ing of] the paint and pasteboard of [his characters’] composition but too painfully discernible” (2). Essentially, he wants the freedom to create fake characters--that do not seem fake--by using his real life experiences as a basis—and not inspire any comparisons between these experiences and the novel.
Somehow Hawthorne thinks that, by using Brook Farm as a basis for his novel, he is preventing his characters from being compared with real living beings and, in result, from appearing fake. Obviously, this is impossible. Hawthorne cannot make his fictitious characters seem real by using his personal experiences while still maintaining their integrity as separate entities from real-life counterparts. Specifically, Hawthorne cannot base Coverdale on himself just to make him seem more real without the inevitable comparisons being drawn between the two.
So how does this relate to my research question (“How does Hawthorne relate to Coverdale?”)? Well, I’m trying to figure out exactly what all the similarities between Hawthorne and Coverdale that I’ve found mean. My analysis of the preface is one direction I can go, but I’m still trying to relate it back to my research meaningfully.
Maybe I can analyze how Hawthorne puts himself into Coverdale to give a “lifelike tint” to the romance, but illogically wants to prevent the inevitable comparisons from being drawn between the two. Perhaps I can look at Hawthorne’s obsession with how reality’s peeking through the veil of fiction makes the fiction seem even more unreal (as Zenobia suggests during Tablaux vivants on page 106). It seems Hawthorne’s hiding behind Coverdale makes his character ultimately seem more unreal.
I still can’t figure out exactly what can be revealed from my comparisons between Hawthorne and Coverdale! As of now, I don’t even have an argument to work with, just a bunch of similarities between Hawthorne and Coverdale; I hope I can come up with something.
So I've been attempting to come up with an alternative argument and so far haven't had much luck. I don't want to completely abandon my original thesis, but I need to figure out a way to make it more meaningful to the novel. Unfortunately I don't really think that the relationship between the two groups is very significant to the overall reading of the novel. I think it is something that is very valuable to know from a historical perspective but not really from a literary perspective.
An early critic of the book warned readers to skip the preface and read it after they finished the novel. So that critic apparently believed that it was better to read the novel under the pretext that it was based on Brook Farm. Does anyone have any idea why?
Does anyone believe that the opposite might be true?
I was busy watching the Olympic Games!
Maybe I shouldn't use the past tense, because I am still watching the Olympic Games at this very moment (a lot of swimming competitions today).
The Olympics is such an irresistible temptation to me, and watching various competitions is certainly more entertaining and exciting than reading the book.
So I am going to share a bit on my research paper today.
On my first draft, I wrote about how Zenobia and Fuller are similar, and Zenobia's death in Blithedale is merely a portrayal of Margaret Fuller's death in reality but not a "devastating satire" of Fuller. I began with Hawthorne and Fuller's relationship, because in order to prove that Hawthonre is not expressing his hatred towards Fuller in Blithedale, I need to establish that their friendship was intimate, and was misundertood to be negative by many past critics. I devoted a lot of time on the background in my first draft, which is too much, so I need to cut down the background and expand the similarities between Fuller and Zenobia, as well as their drownings in my final draft.
So far, I found several similarities between Fuller and Zenobia's deaths.
1. Fuller drowned in a shipwreck; Zenobia drowned in a river.
2. Fuller refused help from others to save herself (which she could have survived if she accepted help); Zenobia committed suicide.
3. Fuller refused help because she wished to die with her husband and baby. She would rather die with the ones she loves than to live without them;
Zenobia commited suicide because she would rather die than to live alone without the man she loves.
4. Fuller prayed with other passengers before she died; Zenobia was found dead "in the attitude of prayer"
5. They both had ambition to achieve women's rights, but both died before they could push or witness women's movement. So, they both left their feminist works undone.
6. still searching.....
I am trying to prove that the reason Hawthorne kills Zenobia in the novel is not because he hates Fuller or feminism, but because he is portraying Fuller's life and fate (of course, not 100% similar to the reality).
I also want to show that Hawthorne might be expressing his sadness of Fuller's sudden death through Zenobia's death. For many readers, Zenobia's death is sudden, surprising, pitiful, and perhaps, heartbreaking. Perhaps Hawthorne had the same feelings when he found out that Fuller died in a shipwreck, given that Fuller was one of Hawthorne's closest friends in his lifetime.
The latter may be harder to prove, but my goal is to prove the first claim. I will put more analyses on Fuller and Zenobia's drownings.
Friday, August 8, 2008
You can see a scan of an illustration of Paul Slide in the first edition here, courtesy of the Harvard library.
Errata for the bootleg edition of Sweet Cicely that you all have:
p. 37: But I wouldn't hear
p. 48: The young feller that gin the lecture, and his sister, wus left orphans and poor; and she was a good deal the oldest, and she set her eyes by him.
p. 177: ah
p. 220: No, sir! fellers must come free and spontaneous
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
1. The Bechdel/Wallace test for a film or other work contains the following criteria:
1. It has to have at least two women in it,
2. Who talk to each other,
3. About something besides a man.
Samantha seems to be trying to achieve something like this the following passage from Sweet Cicely:
And then, thinks’es I as I sot down, we will have a good, quiet visit, and talk some about other wimmen. (No runnin’ ’em: I’d scorn, it, and so would she.)
But I thought I’d love to talk it over with her, about what good housekeepers Tirzah Ann and Maggie wuz. And I wanted to hear what she thought about the babe, and if she could say in cander that she ever see a little girl equal her in graces of mind and body.
And I wanted to hear all about her aunt Mary and her aunt Melissa (on her father’s side). I knew she had had letter from ’em. And I wanted to hear how she that was Jane Smith wuz, that lived neighbor to her aunt Mary’s oldest daughter, and how that oldest daughter wuz, who wus s’posed to be a runnin’ down. And I wanted to hear about Susan Ann Grimshaw, who had married her aunt Melissy’s youngest son. There wus lots of news that I felt fairly sufferin’ for, and lots of news that I felt like disseminatin’ to her.
But, if you’ll believe it, just as I had begun to inquire, and take comfort, she branched right off, a lady-like branch, and a courteous one, but still a branch, and begun to talk about “what should she do – what could she do – for the boy.”
a)Why does Samantha give such a long list of things she wants to talk about?
b)How does Cicely’s insistence on talking about the boy change the way we understand her political motives?
2. What is Josiah’s Plan? Why does he think it is foolproof? Why does it fail?
3. How does God take care of Sweet Cicely’s boy? What was your reaction to that solution?