For your final blog assignment, you will compare and contrast the way two characters in any of the three works (F451, Cuckoo's, Streetcar) use language to gain power over others. This will be due by midnight on Friday, 8/26. To complete this task you'll need to know a little bit about how power works, so start out by watching this animated TED video with theorist/activist Eric Liu:
How to Understand Power
As you watch, think about how you might apply this to the way characters try to exert power over each other through their speech. Do they use particular words, explain particular ideas, or talk in certain ways that let them wield power over overs as Liu describes? If you need a little more guidance, check out the slides below, which explain how another theorist, Norman Fairclough, connects language and power in analyzing conversations:
To begin, read this summary of the sociological study of gender. Find something you think you can apply to the character or characters you've chosen to analyze, developing a thesis about the influence of gender socialization on their conduct. Maybe a character is obsessed with some aspect of their assigned gender role that has come to define them. Or maybe they can't live up to the stereotype and others criticize them for it. Or perhaps you want to look at how two characters' relationship is hindered by their fixation on playing these roles instead of being honest with each other. The point is to find something you feel comfortable writing about and make it interesting! Make sure you include two quotes from the play and/or the linked sociology sources. Good luck!
Michel Foucault's history of madness tries to discover the origins of modern psychiatric practice, and raises questions about its meaning and validity. At the center of his critique is Foucault's claim that modern psychiatry, while purporting to be grounded in scientific truths, is primarily a system of moral judgments. Indeed, what psychiatry presents as the 'liberation' of the mad from mental illness is in fact 'a gigantic moral imprisonment.' Foucault may [exaggerate], but his essential point requires serious consideration. Psychiatric practice does seem to be be based on implicit moral assumptions in addition to explicit empirical [e.g., scientific] considerations. And efforts to treat mental illness and be society's way of controlling what it views as immoral, or otherwise undesirable, behavior. Not long ago, homosexuals and women who rejected their stereotypical roles were judged "mentally ill." [Foucault showed that], while the term "normal" sometimes signifies merely what is usual or average, in discussions of mental illness, it most often has normative force." (Normative means it has the power to establish a social standard of behavior).
Your post should be a paragraph-long application of this idea to one patient in the novel. Are they "really" mentally ill (whatever that means) or are they victims of someone else's "normative force"? In other words, are they simply being denied the freedom of self-determination, and forced to conform to someone else's ideas of morality and normality? Foucault believe that "where there is power, there is [always] resistance" - so how do these characters resist the power of the psychiatric establishment in the hospital? Kesey wrote the novel around the same time Foucault was doing his analyses, so these ideas apply to the kind of asylum Nurse Ratched runs in the story. That should make it easy to find connections. A good post depends on using a particular character's situation to show them. Make sure you have two quotations in the post, one from the above quote and one from the novel. Good luck! THIS ASSIGNMENT IS DUE BY SATURDAY 8/30 @ 12:00!
TASK: Write a paragraph featuring 1-2 quotations from the novel in response to the prompt.
PROMPT: The ancient philosopher Heraclitus used fire as a symbol for change, which he saw as the only constant in our universe. He wrote, "This world ever was, is, and shall be a Living Fire, which rekindles in measures as it burns away" (Fragment 30). Guy Montag has a similar thought as he flees the city after burning Beatty at the novel's climax: "The sun burnt every day. It burnt Time. [And] Time was busy burning the years and the people anyway, without any help from him. So if he burnt things with the firemen and the sun burnt Time, that meant that everything burnt!" Explain the significance of Montag's revelation. How does this philosophical insight allow Montag to accept his actions and redefine his purpose in life, thus setting up the novel's ending? Pay special attention to Granger's final speech to Montag about human history and the symbol of the Phoenix. Also consider relating Montag's ideas to the death of Clarisse or the final destruction of the city.
DUE: Post this assignment by FRIDAY, 7/15 @ 11;59 p.m., unless you arranged an extension with me via email.
I. Original Thesis Statement on Gatsby using a literary theory
-Your thesis should make a thematic point about The Great Gatsby using any of the following literary lenses:
(Freudian/Lacanian Psychoanalysis; Feminism/Queer Theory/Post-Colonialism; Structuralism/Archetypes)
-For now you are writing about Gatsby, and only Gatsby; focus your thesis on something key to the novel.
-Introduction (Set up thesis)
-4 to 6 body paragraphs
-2 quotations per body paragraph
-At least 1 secondary source on Gatsby
-Conclusion (So what?)
III. Writing Process:
-After outlining, write a general draft of the essay, identifying areas where you might need more quotes.
-Put this on Google Docs and share it with me and three classmates.
-Have three classmates read it and make CONTENT suggestions (only correct obvious mistakes!)
-Write your full draft of the essay, revising it according to suggestions and research.
(-Lastly, get ready to expand the essay into a research paper during 4th marking period!)
-CONTENT: Unpack your textual evidence closely and carefully.
-EXPRESSION: Make sure you structure your sentences around active verbs.
-OVERALL STRUCTURE: Make sure your body paragraphs are in some logical order.
-OVERALL PAPER: Aim to leave the reader with a clearly-formed interpretation of the work.
The title of this post is one of the titles F. Scott Fitzgerald considered and almost settled on for The Great Gatsby. This would have led people to take a more political lens on the novel, which is what we'll try to do for this final chapter, which ends with a powerful meditation on the promise and perils of the American Dream.
What does that phrase, "The American Dream," really mean? Watch these videos first:
The New York Times' report on the enduring idea of the American Dream
Interviews with average Americans about the meaning of the phrase
John Green's summary of the history and future of the concept
John Green applying these observations to The Great Gatsby
The question raised by the novel is: Was the American Dream ever possible, and is it still? Or has it died?
Here are two videos to get you thinking about that.
This video uses the American Philosopher Richard Rorty's ideas to argue it is still alive
This video uses the German Philosopher Karl Marx's ideas to argue it is dying
Fitzgerald, for his part, definitely felt the American dream was at the least, threatened. Sometimes he leans toward Rorty's Gatsby-like hopefulness; other times (especially later in his life) he leans toward Marx's pessimism about the idea that progress can continue forever. When you consider what happens to the lower class vs. upper class at the novel's end, you can see that pessimism in action. But what about the final passage?
"Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning —--
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Your goal is to write a paragraph summarizing your take on the American Dream and these last paragraphs of the novel. Does Fitzgerald suggest Gatsby IS America? And that America's Dream is as dead as he is? Or is he saying something else? And whatever you think he's saying, DO YOU AGREE? WHY OR WHY NOT??
The "Dialectic" is a way of thinking about conflict and change developed by the philosopher Georg Hegel. It comes from an old word meaning conversation or debate. Basically, a dialectical understanding of change suggests that situations evolve through the working-out of contradictions between opposing ideas or forces (typically called the "Thesis" and "Antithesis"). This is especially relevant to chapter 7, where all of the conflicts in Gatsby come to head, leaving the situation dramatically different. A really simple example of this is the conception of a child. A sperm cell comes into a kind of conflict with an egg cell, which somewhat resists its entrance. But if it gets in, it becomes beginnings of a brand-new person - a "synthesis" where conflict creates something new. Of course, not every synthesis is a good one from everyone's perspective...
First, though, let's think about how this model applies to four short stories we read:
I. "Masque of the Red Death"
A. Thesis: The People want protection from the Plague
B. Antithesis: The Prince locks them and the Plague out.
II. "Repent, Harlequin! said the Ticktock-Man"
A. Thesis: The
C. Synthesis ................
III. "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
A. Thesis: The narrator's husband thinks she's crazy and needs to be locked up.
B. Antithesis: The narrator does not think she's crazy, and that locking her up makes her worse
C. Synthesis ..............
IV. "A Mystery of Heroism" by Stephen Crane
A. The country sends the solders to perform "heroic" acts of glory in battle
B. Collins, who has never been heroic, engages in the heroic act of getting water
Your assignment for the chapter is to post a paragraph comparing and contrasting the way the conflict in one of these stories is worked out with the way a conflict in chapter 7 gets resolved.
We spent the first few chapters heavily focused on Fitzgerald's use of evocative language to present the setting and its inhabitants in meticulous, often thematically complex detail. Now we'll start to unpack those themes, which means getting philosophical. Specifically, we can get a lot of our of understanding two very ancient philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, associated with philosophical theories called IDEALISM and REALISM. You can read about them in the slide above; notice how Plato, as Idealist, points upward, towards higher ideals, while Aristotle the realist holds his hand outward to draw attention to the here-and-now. We've seen this kind of pairing before: for instance, clerk Sammy from "A&P" was a pretend-hero idealist, while the manager (and presumably the girls) represented realism. Then there are characters with elements of both, like John Proctor.
Fitzgerald openly tells us that Gatsby is a Platonic Idealist: "The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God — a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that — and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end."
Unpacking this complex quote requires a better understanding of the debate between Plato and Aristotle, which we can get from these three videos. But basically, Plato believed that our reality was a false appearance, a mask concealing the True Reality, which was timeless and eternal andperfect: essentially, a Heavenly realm. (That's part of why Fitzgerald calls Gatsby a "son of God" in this quote, although there's more to it, as we'll see). Nick, like Plato's dissenting student Aristotle, believes perfection only exists in our heads, and we must focus on dealing with the flawed reality we find before us through extensive study and careful action (a "pragmatist" is a synonym for a realist). This contrast helps us understand why Nick has such mixed feelings toward Gatsby: he respects the "infinite hope" behind his Idealism, but doesn't share it at all. This is clearest in the sad ending of Chapter 6, with the famous line, "Can't repeat the past? Of course you can!"
Your assignment for these chapters is to post a short paragraph defending Gatsby's Idealism or criticizing it from a Realist position, though you can take some in-between stance as well. But give some details from this final scene of Chapter 6, including some text beyond that key line, to support your point.
*Now is also the time you want to start thinking about what you wnt to write your Gatsby paper about - and most of you will probably decide to develop your essay into your research paper, so choose a topic you're genuinely interested in. As always, I encourage you to go outside the boundaries of English (which is called being "interdisciplinary" in fancy academic language) - bring in history, psychology, contemporary issues, etc.)
--> Remember the literary theories or "lenses" we used first marking period to produce interpretations of poetry, short stories and The Crucible? If you liked one of those you might start to bring it into your analysis.
-Psychoanalysis: What happens to society when the Superego TELLS you to feed the Id, as in the Roaring 20s? What desires are the characters repressing, why, and how do they "seep" out in other ways? Also, is Nick gay?
-Lacanian Psychoanalysis: How does Gatsby's Imaginary self-image get caught up with the Symbolic order of wealth? How does this lead him to treat Daisy as the Ideal that represents the Real (objet a)?
-Structuralism: Patterns of images, use of symbols, mirroring or contradictory elements, archetypes
-Feminism: The Platonic Ideal(s) of Woman in the 1920s, and its effects on Daisy and Myrtle
How do you make words, which are just sounds or written symbols, somehow reflect real people and events in the world? This is a complex question which every writer has to answer for themselves, but in F. Scott Fitzgerald's case, it's all about "evocative" writing - that is, trying to "evoke" a scene in the reader's head. That's why we focused on the attention to detail in setting as a way into Fitzgerald's dense writing throughout chapters 1 and 2 - it helped us see how his writing isn't meant to just tell a story, but bring to life a whole WORLD with language. This is especially well-done in Chapters 3 and 4, which finally introduce Gatsby in twin scenes that evoke almost opposite images of him. In Chapter 3, he appears as a perfect gentleman, whereas in Chapter 4 he at least briefly becomes, in Nick's words, "sinister." Which is it? Is it both? The duality or contradiction between appearances and reality that defines Gatsby will begin to make more sense in Chapters 5 and 6, where it will become our focus.
For now, by paying close attention to DICTION (word choice, especially adjectives/adverbs) and SYNTAX (sentence structure, especially way way Fitzgerald links patterns of images together), we'll unpack the many layers of thematic meaning in Fitzgerald's evocative prose. You will post a comment here at the conclusion of chapter 4 analyzing one passage's descriptive use of a MOTIF (recurring image or symbol) and its thematic significance, worth 25 points (including a response to a classmate's post).
Here is our final group from 2B's commentary on the nature and role of the setting in Chapter 1 of our new novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. Read it and write a comment in which you respond to one of their observations, then compare/contrast it with some element of the new settings introduced in Chapter 2. You might find it interesting to check out these clips of Tom and Daisy's home and Myrtle's garage-home from the 2013 film version of the novel - they could provide some interesting fuel for different interpretations!
The Great Gatsby: Chapter 1 Setting Analysis
-Symbolic significance of color in the setting: interior of house starts off as a “bright rosy colored space,” creating a facade of joy and tranquility; however, as the chapter progresses, the set is describe a “crimson room.” This transition from light to dark parallels the exposure of Daisy and Tom’s situation as grim and desperate, contrasting the illusion of luxury and happiness that previously enshrouded the scene.
-Adjectives placed throughout the chapter describe the scene (and characters) as stagnant, unmoving, i.e. “stationary,” “anchored,” etc. (Fitzgerald 8) . These details contribute to the “frozen-in-time” ambiance of the house. Daisy and Tom reside in West Egg, home to the rich whose wealth is comprised of family money. They are affluent due to maintaining their historical status as a wealthy family, and just like the house, have “frozen” themselves in time.
-Tom and Daisy’s house was described as having a “sunken Italian garden, a half acre of deep, pungent roses, and a snub-nosed motor-boat that bumped the tide offshore” (7 Fitzgerald). The roses, in their pleasant but overpowering aroma, also show how Tom and Daisy mask the true stench of their putrid, rotting marriage with the illusion of health and beauty. The genuine, twisted nature of their situation is exposed to the reader by the presence of the “motor-boat” in the scene (7 Fitzgerald). If their lives are as perfect as they assert, why would they need to escape from their allegedly fortunate circumstances? It is clear Tom and Daisy are aware (whether consciously or subconsciously) of the ugly reality of their lives that festers beneath the pretty veil of wealth and grandiose living, and have a suppressed desire to flee from their troubles.
-Outside of the mansion, there was “fresh grass… that seemed to grow a little way into the house.” Perhaps this detail foreshadows change soon to come to the Buchanan household. Like previously stated, there are many adjectives and descriptions that indicate stagnancy in Tom and Daisy’s home. But just as plants, constantly growing and changing, are finding a way to pry their way into the home, maybe another force (Gatsby?) will also come to break into the home and disrupt the stagnancy.
-The comparison of the “curtains” to “pale flags” alludes to Tom’s territorial nature (8 Fitzgerald). Like a warring nation, he marks his territory with a flag, proclaiming to all that he will fiercely protect his claims. Therefore, this detail may also foreshadow Tom later in the story protecting what is “his” (his home, his money, his reputation, his wife?). The ambience of the room Daisy and Jordan lounge in is quickly changed from a free flowing space to sudden confinement when Tom enters the room where he “shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room” (8 Fitzgerald). The action shows Tom attempting to bring everything back to a stagnant nature. He refuses to accept change, and in doing so, shuts out the world. He wants everything to remain exactly the way it is, and will go to any length necessary to do this. Also, in shutting the window, Tom is cutting off his wife, Daisy, from the world, and the desire for liberation that may come to her if she were to taste even the smallest bit of freedom. Tom keeps her shut up, caged.
-Tom guides Nick into a room with a ceiling like a “frosted wedding-cake,” and a “wine-colored rug” (8), both symbolic of the honeymoon-stage, in which the couple was at one point happy together, and now, as their marriage deteriorates, they are attempting to pretend they are still. The “wedding-cake” ceiling represents the couple’s refusal to acknowledge the issues of their relationship, the mental aspect. To parallel, the rug and floor represent the foundation, the physical aspect, of their relationship. The “wine-color” of the rug shows that Tom and Daisy, both incapable of dealing with the hard reality of their dying marriage (like a hard, stone floor), soften the blow of it (like how a rug makes a floor seem soft) by drowning their pain in the intoxicating extravagance of wealth, whether it be through literal alcohol consumption (“wine”) or any other luxury paid for by the couple’s abundant supply of money.
-Symbolism of Light as Hope: While Daisy, Tom, Nick, and Jordan are dining outside during this chapter, “four candles flickered on the table in the diminished wind” (11 Fitzgerald). These candles symbolize the little bit of hope left for Tom and Daisy’s marriage, as it is evidently falling apart at the seams. However, Daisy, claiming there is still plenty of light left in the day, plenty of hope left for their relationship, extinguishes the candles. Daisy refuses to accept defeat, that there is so little joy left in their horribly corrupted marriage. As the scene progresses, Tom’s mistress calls the house, shattering the pleasant but false fantasy Daisy had attempted to maintain. Night falls as hope fades, and “the candles [were] lit again,” as the couple at last can no longer pretend there is more than but a morsel of promise left in their relationship, a trembling candle light. Finally, Nick leaves the house, and Tom and Daisy wish him goodbye while “[standing] side by side in a cheerful square of light” (19 Fitzgerald). This displays the restoration of the facade of happiness in the Buchanan home. Nick caught a flash of the truth during his visit, but still the illusion the couple asserts still stands, at least for now.
Mr. Justin Biggs