Comparing Rowena’s Rooms in Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe and Edgar Allan Poe’s Ligeia

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I’ve been reading some Sir Walter Scott lately. Any serious reader of 19th century literature has to have at least cursory knowledge of Scott’s writing, as his influence on pop culture and his writers of the age like Goethe, Eliot, and Austen was immense. As I was reading through Ivanhoe, specifically the part where Rowena’s room is described I got the strangest feeling of deja vu.

Following a hunch, I dug out my copy of Poe’s Ligeia and found what I was looking for. Rowena’s room, which is a highly symbolic element of Ligeia and is the site of major plot events, was heavily borrowed from Rowena’s room in Ivanhoe. 

It’s no secret Poe took influence from Scott in the creation of his Rowena. He very much intends to make use of the “girl next door” vs. “femme fatale” trope that Scott uses masterfully with the mild-mannered Rowena and dangerous Other, Rebecca. But, the question I asked myself as I started comparing the passages is, what is Poe taking from Scott, and in what ways is he extending Scott’s imagery and ideas? Continue reading

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For those who like to criticize generations

 

Our Generation Waiting For Godot

People like to rag on this generation, the generation before us, even the generation to come. Ultimately, we are all human and have virtues and vices alike. There is good and terrible music made every decade and each generation is entitled in their own special way.

I’m a big fan of absurdist theatre. Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is my favourite play. I’ve seen Beckett’s Waiting for Godot 3 times and have enjoyed it every time despite its bleakness. When I saw this quote while reading the stageplay I had to put it up on the blog. It’s a bit depressing, yes, but I don’t think it’s wrong.

Thackeray on Kindness

Never lose a chance of saying a kind word. As Collingwood never saw a vacant place in his estate but he took an acorn out of his pocket and popped it in; so deal with your compliments through life. An acorn costs nothing; but it may sprout

If you read Vanity Fair or The Luck of Barry Lyndon (or watched the amazing Kubrick adaptation), you discover pretty quickly that Thackeray is a cynic. His books are filled with some characters who are truly delightful, extremely awful, and always amazingly human. But I think at the end of the day Thackeray believes in humanity, or at least some human individuals, and delivers to us this piece of advice from Vanity Fair on the benefit of kindness.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, you never know much or in what way you’re impacting the world. Being kind can make a much bigger difference than you might think. I’m incredibly shy and for a long time would rarely give out compliments (or you know, talk to people in general), but I found that being kind, even in little ways, changed the perceptions people have of you and make the world a little bit better of a place.

Remember: you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s life. Letting them know they look beautiful today or you thought they did a good job leading the last staff meeting can make a big difference. So go out and give a genuine compliment today! See what happens 🙂

What’s Love Got To Do With It?: “The Story of an Hour” and the Servitude of Marriage

“The Story of an Hour” is an excellent example of the idea that you don’t need to be wordy to get your message across. This succinct little story critiques the state of marriage in the late 19th century, showing the detrimental effects of power imbalance in relationships. Upon receiving news that her husband is probably dead from a railroad accident, Louise Mallard locks herself in a room where she doesn’t cry from grief, but exalts in the idea that she is finally free of the ol’ ball and chain. At the time, women were meant to be the “angel of the household.” In marriage, you are expected to become a domestic goddess, staying virtuous and in the kitchen. It was also very fashionable for women to be considered frail or delicate, and if they were rich enough, should busy themselves with sewing, music, or drawing, letting the servants do all the work, lest it strain their poor, hysteric nerves. Chopin is speaking out against this mentality, driving home the message that emancipation is preferable to staying in a stifling marriage. I wanted to offer a quick analysis of major themes and symbols in the text within this entry. If you haven’t read the story already, it is only 3 pages long, and you can access it here. Continue reading

Amazons and the “space of possibility” in Swetnam the Woman-Hater

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In 1615, Joseph Swetnam published an anti-feminist tract entitled The Arraignment of Lewd, Idle, Froward, and Unconstant Women that attracted the attention of numerous proto-feminist writers who rose to the defense of women. Rachel Speght, Esther Sowernam and Constantia Munda published pamphlets criticizing Swetnam’s arguments and defending feminine virtues. One of the responses to Swetnam’s misogynistic pamphlet was the 1620 anonymous play Swetnam the Woman-Hater Arraigned by Women. This Jacobean play is obscure now, although it was very popular when first performed. There has been very little research conducted on it, try to find more than fifteen scholarly articles on it, I dare you. However, if even one person is interested in learning more about Jacobean drama, you’ve come to the right place. Continue reading

“Sinless, foodless”: The purging of desire in Eavan Boland’s “Anorexic”

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Eavan Boland’s “Anorexic” never fails to give me goose bumps, no matter how many times I read it. The speaker of the poem has fallen hard for Friedan’s Feminine Mystique and Wolf’s Beauty Myth (depending on which wave of feminism you’d like to ride), trying to destroy her desire (sexual and more of bodily needs) and her femininity through starving herself or purging whatever she does eat. Regardless of whether you look at the poem from a critical perspective or merely for entertainment purposes, reading this poem has a visceral impact on the reader quite unlike many poems I’ve read (and I read a lot of poetry; if you’ve read any of my previous stuff, you may have noticed that I’m a nnneeerrrrddd). Continue reading