September 28th, 2010

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Posted by jeannem in Uncategorized

“And would it have been worth it, after all?”

Would it have been worth it for Prufrock to reach out to some woman, any woman?  It seems as though Prufrock feels that he wants to talk to a woman, any woman at all, but he is so sad and insecure.  He believes that he is so far away from the Michelangelo that the woman speak of, that they will not even give him the timeof day.  He feels that he should have been a creature with ragged claws scuttling among the sea floor, and even the mermaids wont sing to him.

Prufrock’s indecisiveness and self conciusness seem to be such a severe issue that he does not have a very high opinion of himself.  Because he is so self concious, he feels that every woman who dares to look at him is in fact, harshly examining him with her eyes as if he were a butterfly pinned to a table for a science experiment.  According to Prufrock, he is so su of his rejection by these women, that it wouldn’t have been worth it.

Prufrock, in the poem, seems to be obsessed with time he spends the whole poem bothering himself and the reader with a vicious circle of questions that never recieve any sort of answer.  He is wasting time with all these invaluable questions, procrastinating really.  So what if he were to part his hair from behind, or even dare to eat a peach?  No one will ever know because he never stops his constant string of questioning.  If Prufrock were to just shut the hell up, the maybe he, or we as the reader, would gain some sort of insight into the answers to his questions.

September 27th, 2010

Yeats– A Coat

Posted by jeannem in Uncategorized

Even though the first reading of “A Coat” by Yeats seemed to strike something within me, the second time around seemed to be just as powerful.  Being a writer myself, I feel that I can identify with this type of thinking.  Things like growing older, new experiences, exploring new types of literature often change the way I look at the world and in time may serve to change the way I write.  For instance, when I was younger, I thought everything had to be about true love and all things dark, but now as I have gotten older and been through years of close examination of all types of literature I have learned that there are many more things that I’d like to explore.

September 15th, 2010


Posted by jeannem in Uncategorized

“The real question is the dehumanization of Africa and Africans which age-long attitude has fostered and continued to foster in the world.  And a novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of art.  My answer is no: No, it cannot.” – Achebe

I think that these sentences sum up Achebe’s p.o.v perfectly.  I felt that he is most upset at the fact that Conrad, in his novel, Heart of Darkness, portrayed the African people as sub humans, or not even human at all, like monsters or supernatural beings of some sort. 

Achebe states that he believes that Marlow’s views of Africa stems from Conrad’s own views.  He feels in fact that Marlow reinforces Conrad’s beliefs because of the similarity between thier careers.  Marlow’s character is one that hold’s the views of the time.  The things that they saw in Africa seemed shocking and atrocious to them.

Achebe, in his criticism, states that, “Africa is to Europe as the picture is to Dorian Gray- a carrier onto whom the master unloads his physical and moral deformities so that he may go forward, erect and immaculate.  Consequently, Africa is something to be avoided just as the picture has to be hidden away to safegaurd the man’s jeapardous integrity.”  People like Albert Schweitzer go to Africa, claiming to help and even doing so, but still refering to Africans as nothing more than their ‘junior brother’, rather than just their brother.  Even though Conrad’s character managed to see through all the terrible things brought on by colonization and the effects it had on people, but he still failed speak upon the uneqaulity between white and black people.  They are like Dorian Gray, trying to look good by seeming as if they are trying to help while hiding away thier indecencies in Africa as Dorian does in his protrait.  While back in England, your family and friends may think that you are doing great things in an effort to really help people, you are actually turning into a Kurtz typed person.

In my personal opinion I think that while Achebe makes his point well known, I feel that Conrad cannot be found totaly guilty for the offenses that he was accused of by Achebe.  I think that Heart of Darkness, and all its attitudes towards Africa was a product of its time.  The characters and the way they think are attuned to the common beliefs at the time.  Due to this fact, I don’t think that Conrad should be punished for something that was the prinicipal belief, things that he was probably brought up to think or was even heavily influenced by.  For example, if  Conrad were to have been alive in Nazi Germany, he would have dehumanized those in concentration camps, most likely the jewish, just like he supposedly does to the Africans in his novel.

And while I think that this is true, I do believe that The Picture of Dorian Gray reference is one that fits the English hyporacy of the time and really speaks to Achebe’s point.  I hate hypocracy as much as the next person, and I do think that people like Schweitzer, no matter the views of the time, had wronged the African people.  No matter how noble he thought he was being, he took one step in the right direction by acknowloging that the African people needed help, but two giant steps back when he refered to the African as his junior brother rather than just his brother, and believing that he was in fact a superior human.

September 6th, 2010

Heart of Darkness–Kurtz

Posted by jeannem in Uncategorized

What happened to Kurtz?

            Well, in the end we all know that Kurtz ends up dying, but that’s not what the question is really asking, is it?

            As Marlow talks to Kurtz’s fiancé, he finds out a little about Kurtz’s life before he left for Africa.  Apparently, he was nobody.  He was a poor man who was thought not to be good enough for his fiancé who seems to come from some type of money.  She states that, that might be the reason why Kurtz left for Africa in the first place, so he could make a name or himself or something to that effect.

            When Marlow finally meets Kurtz, we learn that he is just an ordinary man who has gone mad.  It seems as though Africa has changed Kurtz, given him a sort of God complex.  He says all these things like I’m not done here and I will return.  The people are begging for him not to take Kurtz away – they must see him as some kind of God – which feeds even more so into his complex. 

            Also, going back to the idea that Africa has changed Kurtz, Marlow keeps making all these remarks about Kurtz getting lost in the wilderness and being buried in the earth.  It seems as though Africa being far away from home, and being so strange and so different, had had some huge impact on Kurtz’s psyche. 

            When Marlow first meets Kurtz, he doesn’t like him one bit.  He spends the whole trip, this horrible, trouble ridden trip, trying to get to the Inner station in order to meet this mysterious God like man who he has heard so much about.  It builds and builds and builds throughout the book and when Marlow finally sees this man for himself, he decides that Kurtz is no more than a man that has lost his mind.

            Marlow spends a good amount of time with Kurtz before he dies and he comes to realize that his first impression of Kurtz was wrong.  After the death, Kurtz’s last words, and all his words actually, stay with Marlow, and he ultimately become one of Kurtz’s disciples in the end.

            He draws parallels between his life and Kurtz.  He makes the point that they have both have been within an inch of death, and while Marlow could think of nothing to say, Kurtz could. Kurtz could continue to use his strength, his words, even in the face of death, and according to Marlow, this makes him a remarkable man.  He also makes man references to a flame in Kurtz’s eyes where he himself could not see it.  It can be assumed that Marlow is under the assumption that Kurtz was a remarkable man because he was strong, even in death.

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