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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Critical Analysis of Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Critical Analysis of Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley

Ozymandias is Percy Bysshe Shelley’s sonnet metered iambic pentameter. Ozymandias is referred to the ancient Egyptian King Rameses II, who was cited as the most powerful Pharaoh in Egypt. Shelley wrote the poem after he heard the news of the discovery of ancient ruins belonged to the once great civilization. The poet expresses the short-lived power of a man and nature prevailing over humans.

The beginning of the poem tells of the stranger visiting an antique land that referred to as Egypt. The desert and the sand describe the setting of the country. The traveler tells the unearthing of a pair of legs of stone standing in the desert. It indicates that the sculpture has been destroyed due to the harsh environment for a long time, the body is missing, and the face of Ozymandias lays half-buried in the sand. The “shattered visage” of the king indicates of his confounded power. The “land” and “sand” states the perennial power of nature compared to Ozymandias’ supremacy.

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The visage describes Ozymandias’ true character: the “frown”, “wrinkled lip” and the “sneer of cold command” tells of his cruelty, mercilessness and contempt for his people. The sculptor, instead of praising the king, is mocking the man, even though he perfectly molded the king’s expression. The cruel character of the king lives on even after he died; his subjects had reduced to no more than a thing because of his hostile treatment to them. “The hand that mocked them” tells his disdain to serve his subjects; “heart that fed” indicates that he brings terror and dread to his people.

The pedestal which read:

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Ozymandias strived for political glory and even challenged the gods to overthrow his power. His pride and thirst for glory brings him nothing. His monument stands in the vast desert, “lone and level” shows the emptiness of the land.

The poet wrote incomplete ideas that leave the reader hanging on to what the traveler is talking about. The ironic tone of the poem mocks the king’s greatness turning into dumps. The major theme of the poem is the pride followed by a downfall.

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Critical Analysis of "My Last Duches" by Robert Browning

Critical Analysis of "My Last Duches" by Robert Browning

My Last Duchess is written by Robert Browning in 1842. A dramatic monologue of the Duke of Ferrara presents his best side to the agent of the count of Tyrol when he tries to talk about his previous wife. 

Set in iambic pentameter, AABB rhyme scheme along with other techniques such as enjambment and caesura, the poem reveals qualities about the speaker and his situation. The reader might be drawn to the conclusion that the speaker has something to do with his wife’s death as revealed in his confusing speech and actions throughout the poem. The dramatic monologue exposes the speaker’s true personality and his situation more than he aims to say both to the agent and the reader.

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The Duke of Ferrara seems to be controlling in nature; he tries to control everyone he is comes to term with,  like he controls the actions of the agent as read in line 5, “Will’t please you sit and look at her”, “Will’t please you rise?” (l 47) and “Nay, we’ll go/ Together down, sir” (l 53-54.) He succeeded in controlling Fra Pandolf’s works of art but failed to control his wife when she was still alive. When the Duchess dies he fully gains power over her, his possessiveness surfaces in the lines 9 to 10: “since non puts by/ the curtain I have drawn for you, but I”.

The Duke tries to put his wife in the bad light, giving the reader the impression that she is flirtatious, false and disrespectful, while he appears to be the abused but caring husband. His previous wife’s actions leave him no choice but to kill her. But as he is telling the agent about his wife’s death he appears nervous and tense. The use of caesura suggests that he is unsure of what to say next. He could not understand of his wife’s love for natural, simple things and her kindness she displays towards others he treated it with disdain. He could not gain command over his wife’s appreciation towards others that he thought it belongs to him alone. Her happy disposition and love of life which he could not control made him to kill her in the end.

The poem is all about mystery, murder and intrigue. Robert Browning effectively captures the Duke’s haughty and arrogant character.

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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Movie Review of "Every Child is Special"

Movie Review of "Every Child is Special"

Ishaan: The letters are dancing.

Teacher: They are dancing, are they? Then read the dancing letters. Read the sentence loud and proper.

The dialogue between Ishann (Darsheel Safary) and his English teacher is funny and interesting, especially when Ishaan reacts after his teacher orders him to read out the sentence. The scene is actually very good, but this is just one of those scenes which brings out Ishaan’s suffering in Every Child is Special.

The movie is all about a kid who has dyslexia, is misunderstood and treated badly by his teachers and parents, particularly his father. He suffers from depression when he is sent to a boarding school, away from his family. The substitute teacher gets to know him and identified himself with the child so he sets out to help him overcome his problem. But there is more than Ishaan’s problem and the teacher’s solution to solve the kid’s problem. The movie deals more with the current education system and parents who appear to give importance to their children’s academic success rather than on their own interest or inclination. Every Child is Special (Taare Zameen Par) taught the issue about a particular event of a child’s life whose interest/difference in misunderstood by adults and passing on judgments on the child rather than understanding the child’s situation.

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The movie also emphasize on teacher-student interaction especially on the teacher’s part on convincing Ishaan’s parents and the boarding school principal to teach the child himself. There are many heart-warming scenes that will surely bring tears to the movie watcher. The scene where Ishaan is placed in a strict boarding school for boys and got separated from his family, and from then on he goes into a depression. The song “Tuhje Sab To Pata Hai Na Maa” is very good song that conveys the separation from his mother.

Parents and teachers can find a lesson from this film. The title alone “Every Child is Special” is an obvious message to parents who pressure their kids to be the first among their peers and classmates, and who compare them to others who fare better in academics. This film should be watched by teachers if they want to have a deeper understanding of the dynamics between teachers and students. Children too can benefit from watching “Every Child is Special”. Studying for honors and recognition is not the only thing that matters. Discover what interest them, their inclinations, and accept their differences and be reminded that “Every Child is Special”!


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Summary and Analysis of "Killings" by Andre Dubus

“Killings” is a short tale written by Andre Dubus in 1979 and was first published in The Sewanee Review.  The story was later adapted by film director Todd Field in the 2001 movie entitled In the Bedroom, a highly acclaimed movie by the Academy Awards.  The story revolved on love, murder, revenge and morality.

The story sets in a small town somewhere in Massachusetts one August morning with the burial of a 21 year old Economic graduate Frank Fowler, Ruth and Matt’s youngest son. Along to grief with the couple were their two other children – Steve, oldest and Cathleen, the second among the brood.

Richard Strout, a 26 year old former football scholar dropout who has worked as a bartender, shot Frank one Saturday night in September right in front of his two sons.

Strout was known to many as the spoiled and hot-tempered guy.  It was this very same attitude that caused his wife of 6 years, Mary Ann, to file for divorce. 

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Mary Ann was the girlfriend Frank had before his death.  The two met in Salisbury beach where the latter worked as a lifeguard. Their romance blossomed while she was in the process of the divorce.  Frank’s mother, Ruth, disagreed to the relationship. She never wanted Mary Ann for her son for a number of reasons: first, she had a history of playing around, second, the divorce was not finalized yet, third, she had kids and lastly, she was older than him.  Matt, on the other hand, being a protective father that he was tried to understand his son and weighs the balance between his wife and son.  He accepted Mary Ann and welcomed her into the family.  Unfortunately, this was not the same case with Strout.  Whether be it for his pride or love for Mary Ann that forced him to commit murder, it was very clear that he never approved of the divorce.

The tragedy has not left the Fowlers since then.  Conflicts arose when Strout was granted a bail for which his presence made coping tougher for both Matt and Ruth.  Strout was seen all over town living a normal life after the crime.  Seeing him not only sharpened the pains of losing their son but it strengthened the eagerness of revenge. 

Matt and Ruth’s suffering grew with each passing day.  To end such suffering, Matt premeditated on killing Strout with the help of his friend, Willis Trottier.  Willis, a short silver-haired man, was a restaurant and bar owner who shared Matt’s sentiments.  Being a good friend that he is, he felt for Matt.  Together they consummated a crime.

Dubus was able to present the story in a very vivid manner.  He was able to showcase conflict of emotions in an orderly way.

The crime committed by Matt to overcome his ill feelings maybe justifiable.  There is no greater pain than losing a child to someone with no worth.  It is more unacceptable seeing the antagonist out in the open and free while justice was not fully served yet.  But then again, we cannot correct a mistake by another mistake.  It’s not always right to take the law into your own hands.  Avenging may make things worse in the future.  In this case, once authorities discovered Strout’s murder, they will only point at one suspect, the one with the strongest motive. That will make the struggle for the Fowlers more gruesome.

Like the saying goes, ‘to err is human, to forgive divine. Sometimes we have to go over the limits of human nature to put things in its proper perspective.  It might take time, but justice will be served.


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Summary and Analysis of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson

Summary and Analysis of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson

“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” was originally from a 250 word photo-caption job which grew to a novel-length feature story by Hunter S. Thompson.  The two-part story was published in Rolling Stone magazine on November 11, 1971.  Thompson approached his work in a ghastly manner, often creating a negative criticism from its readers. 

The story moved along with Raoul Duke, a journalist, and his attorney Dr. Gonzo as they explore the great American Dream in a discriminating and hypocritical society.  It was based on the author’s own account of his self-discovery in a drug-crazed state along with his Mexican lawyer friend Atty. Oscar Zeta Acosta.

Raoul, like any other journalists, dreamt of getting the most controversial story there is.  When given the opportunity to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race, he never hesitated and went on the trip.  Unfortunately, Duke and Gonzo engaged themselves in an adventure of a lifetime  They had all sorts of uppers and downers all packed with them during the entire trip to keep them awake.  Somehow, things went berserk.  Both find themselves abandoning work and engaging in disparaging experiences. 

For men of their stature, it is not surprising that despite the volume of addictive drugs and liquors in their possession, there were never a doubt to any man in uniform that they were clean. 

In Vegas, sins lurk the city.  The only thing to be feared of is getting caught.  It is disgusting, however, that it showcased the ugly truth of the American Dream.  It highlighted that crimes were for those with fame, power and fortune.

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A close reading of the plot of the story will reveal that it is not a typical novel which follows the stage of conflict and then a resolution of the conflict.  Instead, it chronicles the adventures of Duke as he and his companions enter into casinos and hotel rooms consuming large amounts of drugs every time.

The search for the American Dream is emphasized in the novel.  However, Duke’s vision of American Dream is different from the rest of us.  For him, the American Dream is the voluntary submission to the temptations of drugs and alcohol.  It is about the pursuit of drugs, alcohol, sex, violence and commercialism. 

The author might not be refined in using words to depict his messages but as it captures more and more readers, liberalism have become more acceptable.  It clearly showed that not only those gifted with literary arts have the capacity to attract and influence.  Loose and open words are sometimes enough to get your message across.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Essay on Analysis of Streetcar Named Desire

     The play Streetcar Named Desire portrays sexism and the disparity, prejudice, and stereotypes of men and women in an era where the chaos of Second World War and its offshoot in the economy largely affected the moral sensibilities and judgment of the people living at that time. As a result, struggles on norms and values afflicted the characters as the main protagonist lost sense of balance and reality and instead adapted extremities in interpreting truthfulness, deceit and delusion to cope with the skirmishes hounding her need to survive. Other characters, including her own sister, stuck sternly to their expected roles which left the main protagonist dejected, maladjusted, and worst, crazy in an asylum.

     Like any work of fiction, playwright Tennessee Williams took inspiration from real personal circumstances in breathing life to the characters in the play. He was successful in delineating the gender roles of men and women. As portrayed by Stanley Kowalski, men are strong, flex muscles at work, earn the bread for the family, drink liquor and play poker with friends, and regard themselves as superior beings in the house. Men in the play, like Stanley and his friend Mitch Michell highly discriminate female sexuality. They believe that only pure, virgin and chaste women should be given marriage proposals while ‘experienced’ or those with shadowy past should be treated harshly like a prostitute.

    On the other hand, women ought to be submissive, meek and silent in front of their husband.  This was portrayed by Stella Kowalski, wife of Stanley and Eunice Hubell, wife of the building owner where the Kowalskis live. They should ever be willing to serve their husbands in any way, including their lustful needs and demonstrate their happiness for it. Their actions must show that they exist solely for their men. They should also be modest and chaste in the house and feel inferior to their male counterpart. They ought to expect physical and verbal lashings when they show resistance and disrespect.

     Similarly, the play effectively presented the contrast of genders in terms of occupation, behavior and attitude.  Common men or men of low degree like Stanley Kowalski and Mitch Michell should hold blue collar jobs while those who belong to the upper class should be doctors. They should be brusque and violent and cuss occasionally or speak foul language to show their manhood. They can be blunt and severe in deciding against an issue because they don’t beat around the bush. It is fine if they are untidy and smell of perspiration because these are signs of being manual laborers. They are also expected to be promiscuous by visiting brothels and other sleazy places.

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     On the other hand, women are housewives or housekeepers like Stella Kowalski and Eunice Hubell, and nurses or teachers like Blanche Dubois. They should be cultured, refined, yet simple and modest. They should bear children, stand for their man and believe on their side of the story when confronted with a controversial situation. They should cry in silence or go to a confidante to ventilate their sobbing. When inside the house, they must oblige themselves to step out of the house so that they husbands can enjoy time with friends at home. They listen to radio for enjoyment and dance to the music for self-entertainment.
     What makes this play realistic and lively is the character of Blanche Dubois, sister of Stella Kowalski. She is the ambiguous persona in the play, the lady main protagonist who did not observe stereotypes of the gender roles to the letter. She was the experimental character who moderated the extremes of gender roles or broke the gender politics prevalent at that time.

     Through Blanche Dubois, whose character was referred to as fading Southern Belle, playwright Williams took fancy of the so-called ‘Old South’ and its lost glory.  Born and raised from aristocracy and sustained by passive money coming from the family’s cotton plantation, she regarded herself as upper class, elite and educated. But due to twists of fate, the old money gradually went down the drain as it expended the living and death expenses of up to the last older member of the clan. She was left penniless, good thing she acquired education and worked as English teacher. Subsequent misfortunes, such as the suicide of her young husband who turned out to be homosexual, worsened her emptiness to nymphomania. This split personality of being prude, stemming from her family culture and educational background to being promiscuous and prurient became apparent when she finally had to migrate to New Orleans to live with her sister. What followed was harsh interplay of strict gender politics and stereotypes which Blanche Dubois opposed against the rest of the characters.

     The 1940s, characterized by post-World War II consequences, meant regrouping and picking up the pieces not just of tangible things for further use but of lives as well, to be salvaged and reconstructed. Collectively, it was the era of shallow machismo where men teased women sexually and treat them solely for their lustful consumption. They have bizarre, violent measures of putting a woman right into her ‘proper place’ either by physical assault or sexual molestations.  Family men leave all the household chores to the wives but depend on them when they become jobless.

     On the other hand, women empowerment gradually crept in against strict gender roles. They were filled in jobs normally dominated by men. They became the safety net of the American economy as they performed dual roles -- keeping the house while earning money at the same time. Because they had shown their aptitude to be equal with men in terms of becoming a force, they faced maltreatment from the men. 

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Essay on "In Westminster Abbey" - A Critical Analysis of Dramatic Monologue

            “In Westminster Abbey” is another dramatic monologue.  It is a poem by John Betjeman.  The setting for this poem is the beginning of World War II in Britain.  The only character in this poem is a woman who enters the Abbey to pray for a short moment before she goes to a lunch date.  The woman was not named but she appears to represent the people who belong to the upper class and lived in the classy Chelsea neighborhood of Cadogan Square.

            The first character trait of this woman that was revealed is that she is a racist woman.  This is apparent in this line, “Gracious Lord, oh bomb the Germans.” The setting for this poem was in Great Britain during the start of the World War II, the time when Germany joined forces with Italy and Japan to wage against the Allied forces of the United States and Great Britain.  At this time, Germany had started to launch its attack by dropping bombs against Great Britain.  In order to afford protection, the main character entered the church and asked that she be spared and that the Germans should be bombed instead.  She asked the Lord to use His power to protect them and instead annihilate the Germans.

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               The second character trait of this woman that was revealed is that she is a hypocrite woman.  Her hypocrisy is evident in the following lines, “I will labour for Thy Kingdom, Help our lads to win the war.” In these lines, the main character showed her hypocrisy by promising that she will obey the Church’s commandments and do something for the Church.  She even stated at the start of the poem that she was willing to remover her glove commonly worn by women of her social stature and to clean the Abbey.  However, she expected that she will get something in exchange for her promise to work for the Church.  She hopes that Britain will win the war against the Germans.  She also hopes that the Lord will bomb the Germans but let her survive the war.  She also hoped that at the end of the war, the Lord will spare her of the damage and that her business investment will not be affected.  This evident in the following lines, “So, Lord, reserve for me a crown. And do not let my shares go down.”

            The third character trait of this woman that was revealed was that she is a selfish and self-centered woman who only cared about herself during the time of war.  She went to church not to pray for the people in Britain who have been attacked by the Germans.  In fact, she went to church only to ask that her prayers be granted which is for her to be able to survive the war and for her business investment not to be affected when the war is over.  I think the poem sought to show that at this time in history there were many women saw the church as a place where they could benefit from.  God was seen as someone who can grant their wishes like a genie in a lamp.  For them, God was someone who existed for their benefit whom they can command as their servant.  

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