Monday, March 21, 2016
Maybe not everybody has one, but we have all heard of them. A list of things we dream of doing before we die. In our young age, there are countless things that we have yet to do, but maybe as we get older the concept of a “bucket list” may become less appealing and concrete.
With age, people tend to see their goals and aspirations as things that will just fall into place over time; rather than things that are meant to be achieved in succession. They might see that their path has changed, or that their ambitions have evolved.
“I don’t really believe in bucket lists,” said Joe Monninger, an English professor, “I think life is about going along, and those things seem artificial.”
As young adults we are facing an increase in responsibilities, and we see all of the opportunities that lie ahead. We are eager for certain things to happen in our lives before they end. Whether these goals are likely or less likely to be reached, it is still important that we stay whimsical and optimistic.
When Ed Fleming was asked what was on his list, he was sincere and realistic in his answers. He said “Go to Lego Land, and eat the most chocolatey thing in the whole world.”
More often than not, individual’s goals reflect who they are and what they are interested in. Cecil Smith’s response was very eccentric and illuminated his personality. “LARP one of the battles from Lord of the Rings… yeah, I want do some LARPing.”
There are many people that see the concept of a bucket list as something frivolous and not so serious. Although it is important to have tangible and realistic long-term goals, it is fun to think of all of the possibilities. When Ebenezer Edwards was asked what is on his list, he said, “Own an island, and have sex with a princess.”
One of the things on Anthony Scolamiero’s list was more of a long-term goal rather than just a one-time experience or happening. He said, “I want to be a teacher.” It is important to be able to see further ahead rather than just being impulsive; but spontaneity is also essential for diverse experiences.
Virginity, in and of itself, is supposed to be a magical, sacred thing. This is what society has taught young people for many years. Although the word can mean many different things to everyone, it is something that most people have to deal with at one point or another.
Religious backgrounds, familial morals and upbringings, and pressure from others can all be factors in the choices people make about losing their virginity. Today, many people seem to treat it as something they are absolutely driven to do, mainly because of the social pressures surrounding the matter; whereas, not even a couple hundred years ago, the opposite was true.
The idea of virginity as a social construct in generations past was viewed as a desirable trait for a woman to have until marriage. It was considered more important that women were virgins prior to marriage because it ensured that they came from a respectable family, and it solidified faithful paternity.
The myth of purity and the culture of virginity have both changed to become more lenient. Nowadays, there is less shame and guilt put upon people for losing their virginity prior to marriage. An anonymous quote that demonstrates people’s changing attitudes towards virginity: “Today people view it as a rite of passage.”
Heteronormative vaginal penetration is the main way that people describe virginity (or the loss of). Although there are people that lose their virginity in other ways, the masses view ‘sex’ as mainly this. Virginity is subjective, and it is up to the individual to define their own virginity.
“To be true to yourself, and not just what someone else wants is the most important.”
The socially acceptable age at which people generally lose their virginity has changed drastically over the course of time, although marriage may or may not be a variable. There are people that believe that it should be saved for marriage, although religious beliefs are not a factor.
For some, saving it for the correct person and keeping it private is enough. Although there are certain social norms instilled in our culture, it is vital to respect all people’s choices, regarding virginity, sexuality, and how much information they choose to disclose.
“Virginity is your own personal business; have as much sex as you want, or don’t.”
Sylvia Plath is one of the most recognized female poets of the postwar period. Her two major works include The Colossus, published in 1960, and The Bell Jar, which was published in 1965. The Bell Jar was coincidentally published only a few weeks before she successfully committed suicide on her third attempt. Her deep expression of personal torment and anguish is often compared to other poets like Robert Lowell and Anne Sexton. There are critics that view Plath’s work as not autobiographical, but say that they are in fact dramatic monologues and that the character Plath puts into her work symbolic of a force that challenges and resists and can be lead towards transformation. Plath is defined by her use of unnerving imagery, violent, grim, and severe metaphors, and the way she addresses cultural, political, and societal conventions- especially the societal roles of women, regarding stereotypes and female identity. Lady Lazarus, written in October of 1962, is a perfect example of Plath’s verbalization on deconstructing the connotation of the traditional sex symbol.
The original binary that Plath generally deconstructed was that men are superior to women and women must follow a strict set of societal expectations. Women were expected to be married and care for the children while the men worked. This is no longer as evident as it was, but we still hold some of these connotations. Plath did follow these societal codes to some extent because she was married and she had children. Women were expected to be seen and not heard, and only allowed to speak when spoken to. With this binary, women who expressed themselves did so in a very flowery, soft, delicate way. Any issues they had, minor or major, were internalized or dismissed. Sylvia Plath, however, deconstructed this binary by using jarring language and violent, gruesome imagery. A perfect example of this deconstruction is her poem Lady Lazarus.
Lady Lazarus is said to be the climax of the creative period that is described as an “aesthetic of distortion” (Bayley). It is about the notion of turning the female body into a commodity by a sexually prying and oppressive society. This work depicts “a cruel deconstruction of the fifties sex symbol” (Bayley). The goal of this work is to horrify, rather than seduce. There is the idea that some readers may entirely reject Plath’s work because she presents an image of a “defiant” woman and the dangers that go hand-in-hand with being a defiant woman. A defiant woman was seen as something to be afraid of because they questioned the male authority and the patriarchy, they did not think that a woman was defined by a man and this raised disbelief and uproar in the 1960’s. The older generation of women saw it to be untraditional and highly opposed it. Sylvia Plath opposed this idea that women were inferior to men.
Scholar Arielle Greenberg thinks Sylvia Plath’s use of the literary strategy of linking the pathology of young female characters with the pathology of the culture is “what is wrong with the girl [is] emblematic of or metaphoric for what’s wrong with the culture”. This speaks to Plath’s concentration within the culture, especially issues regarding social elements of femininity during the 1950’s-1960’s.
Sylvia Plath was a voice for women at the time who were not allowed to speak. She devoted a lot of her writing to issues such as suicide, depression, politics, and gender biases, with undertones of racism and war.
While analyzing Lady Lazarus, it is evident that Plath is depicting the female body as a place of opposition against patriarchal expectations. Lisa Narbeshuber explains that Plath is using the body to convey the denial of any public discussion or voice to women. In turn, these women offer their bodies as public spectacles, completely exposing the disease of the culture. However, feminist issues were not the only issues that Plath confronted. The way she approaches death in Lady Lazarus is full of imagery is full of imagery from World War II and Nazi Germany. To begin to dissect Plath’s deconstruction of the binary of men and women, let’s look Lady Lazarus.
In the second, third, and fourth stanzas she makes a very disturbing connection, comparing her skin to that of the victims’ in the Nazi death camps, whose skin was stretched and used to make lampshades. “A sort of walking miracle, my skin/ Bright as a Nazi lampshade,/ My right foot/A paperweight/ My face a featureless, fine/ Jew linen/ Peel off the napkin/ O my enemy,/ Do I terrify?”(Plath 625). This is Plath using disturbing language to explain the ugly side of war, which is typically not the part that is glorified. A “Jew linen” being the actual skin of the Jewish people used as lampshades during World War II. She is also making connections to her body and collectively, all women’s bodies. This is done by mentioning her “featureless face” being juxtaposed to “fine Jew linen”. This notion is grotesque purposefully to oppose the delicacy of women. By doing this, Plath hoped to shock and disturb her readers in order to get their attention to make them better understand the atrocities of war.
In the next few verses, she talks about stripping herself down to skin and bone. She uses provocative language to illustrate this scene but in such a grotesque way that it completely takes the femininity out of it. “What a million filaments./ The peanut-crunching crowd/Shoves in to see/ Them unwrap me hand and foot-/The big strip tease./ Gentlemen, ladies/ These are my hands/ My knees./ I may be skin and bone,/ Nevertheless, I am the same identical woman” (Plath 626). Here is a scene where Plath is depicting men lusting for the female body, only viewing her as a sexual object. She believes differently, seeing herself as the exact same woman whether she is clothed or unclothed.
Plath mocks the idea of women being kept as objects. “I am your opus,/ I am your valuable,/ The pure gold baby.” The original binary of women was that they were valuables, and seen as something to be displayed and kept safe, however Plath opposes this with her lines “I turn and burn. / Do not think I underestimate your great concern./” She is describing how she would go against the general idea of how women would be complacent and submissive and instead would stand up for herself, fight back, or lash out. The last line she uses a very heavy tone of satire in order to make a mockery of the males ‘concerns’ for women, because she knew how uninterested and unconcerned they really were.
Another key issue Plath brings up is suicide. At the beginning of the poem, she uses the lines “I have done it again./One year in every ten/ I manage it—“ We can deduce that what she has done again is attempt suicide due to the context of the rest of the poem. Later on, she says “The first time it happened I was ten,/ It was an accident./ The second time I meant/ to last it out and not come back at all./ I rocked shut/ As a seashell/ They had to call and call/ And pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.” Throughout Plath’s life, she attempted suicide three times and evidently succeeded once. Speaking openly of suicide was something that was typically not done during the 1960’s. To Plath, death was very personal, and it was always on the forefront of her mind. To most people, death is something that is very negative and removed, something that many people do not like to think or talk about. She had no shame in expressing her desire to commit suicide, and this was against the societal normality, causing a mild panic with her readers.
We can see that death is very personal and close to Plath through her words “Dying/ Is an art,/ like everything else./ I do it exceptionally well.” She expresses how dying is an art form and that she does it so well that it feels real to her and she can do it anywhere. “I do it so it feels like hell./ I do it so it feels real./ I guess you could say I’ve a call./ It’s easy enough to do it in a cell./ It’s easy enough to do it and stay put.” Plath is very open about suicide to the point that she is dramatizing her whole situation. She is equating herself to a professional, but in something that is not a profession. She claims to be “good” at dying, and claims that it is an art form.
Juxtaposed to what she said about dying and how it is an art form, she always seems to come back to life. “Comeback to broad day/ To the same place, the same face, the same brute/ Amused shout: ‘A miracle!’/ That knocks me out.” In these lines, we gather that Sylvia Plath detests the idea of living. The phrase “the same brute” conveys her anger and resentment towards her husband and also towards men collectively.
Afterwards, Plath implies that there is a “charge” for being with her, being near her, looking at her, or having a piece of her clothing or hair. Although this “charge” is figurative and not defined, it is implied. “There is a charge/ for the eyeing of my scars, there is a charge/ For the hearing of my heart--/ It really goes./And there is a charge, a very large charge/ For a word or a touch/ Or a bit of blood/ Or a piece of my hair or my clothes./ So, so, Herr Doktor./So, Herr Enemy.” The first half of this quote is talking about a “charge” to live in her world, to understand her, and go through the same things she does. The usage of the word “Herr” is purposeful and deliberate. It is a play on words, one meaning “Mr.” in German, and the other representing females (‘her’). If you read the lines “Mr. Doktor,/ So, Mr. Enemy.” then we get the idea that she is talking directly to male authority figures, while if you read it as it is spelled with the English meaning, it takes on the connotation of a more literal approach. Later on we see this used in another stanza.
“Herr God, Herr Lucifer/ Beware/ Beware./ Out of the ash/ I rise with my red hair/ And I eat men like air.” It is often thought of that these two figures are male, and they are thought to be two of the most powerful figures, yet here Plath is telling them to be afraid and careful of her. Typically, these two figures are considered to be the ultimate good and ultimate evil, both of which are men. This is slightly ironic because when she eventually succeeds in committing suicide, she would supposedly have met one of these figures in either Heaven or Hell, but she is trying to overpower them.
Looking at the lines at the end of the poem; “Out of the ash/ I rise with my red hair.” This is symbolic of rebirth and relates to the mythological creature of the Phoenix. This is because her “creativity is a manifestation of her reparation”. She felt as if women collectively deserved more from society, and her writing was meant to break them out of the mold they had been put into by the patriarchy. It is ironic how consistent she is with the theme of death and how comfortable she is with it, and in comparison, how she then brings up the idea of rebirth at the end of the poem. She is thinking of death as a new beginning, seeing it in a positive light, contrary to thinking that death is the end.
"Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)." Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Jeffrey W. Hunter, Deborah A. Schmitt, and Timothy J. White. Vol. 111. Detroit: Gale Group, 1999. 155-222. Literature Criticism Online. Gale. Plymouth State University. 8 May 2013 http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/LitCrit/plysc_main/FJ3529550006
"Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)." Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Kathy D. Darrow. Vol. 252. Detroit: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2011. 93-242. Literature Criticism Online. Gale. Plymouth State University. 8 May 2013 http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/LitCrit/plysc_main/FJ2828550003Bayley, Sally. “Sylvia Plath and the Costume of Femininity”. In Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath’s Art of the Visual, edited by Kathleen Connors and Sally Bayley, pp. 183-204. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Sylvia Plath: A Split in the Mirror. Susan E. Schwartz, Ph. D http://www.iun.edu/~nwadmin/plath/vol4/Schwartz.pd
W.K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley said in their novel The Intentional Fallacy that "intention is design or plan in the author's mind" (469). It suggests that the inclinations and preferences of the artist should have no bearing on what the viewer interprets the work as.
Although this theory seems like it may mostly be limited to literary art, we can apply this concept to all forms of art."The evaluation of the work of art remains public; the work is measured against something outside the author" (477).
Even if the objective or purpose of the work seems to be apparent or rather blatant, once the work is available to the masses, any artists thoughts and ideas about what their work is about should not have any effect on what the reader deems to be an appropriate interpretation for themselves."A poem should not mean but be" (469). I interpreted the rest of this passage describing how poems, and everything for that matter is judged and tried to make sense of.
These things do not lack meaning if they are being. Being is where meaning comes from and if something is, then it means something.
Konnikova’s article “Being a Better Online Reader” focuses on the decrease in comprehension when reading online and the way that reading has changed as a result of the increase in readily available information. Of course we do not use an online article the same way that we would use a book,as it is explained here.
The physical process of reading online changes the way we manage and apply what we are learning. What is ironic about this assignment is that I am reading and annotating the article online, which is exactly what Konnikova is arguing against.
She discusses skimming, scrolling, selectivity, distractions, boredom, and information overload and how these habits can be detrimental to our comprehension. When we read online, it is easy for us to move from page to page, and from source to source which can make us lose focus and cause us to not read or think as deeply. The decrease in deep reading is the larger issue. Wolf is concerned with the idea that as we increase the online and electronic reading methods, our ability to engage in deep thought will be sacrificed.
In Paulo Friere's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", he illustrates a method of teaching in which an individual learns to grow from their cumulative experiences. Justin Wyllie's review of this work discusses Friere's background as an educationalist, and how his South American roots influence his views on the oppressed. In the beginning, Wyllie says, "While the revolutionary theory is Marxist the context is unmistakably South American" (Wyllie 1). He discusses Friere's approach and who he aims his attention at.
He outlines the argument by addressing the overarching themes of the four chapters right up front. Chapter one dealing with the revolutionary background, the oppressed in relation to those who oppress, as well as the the pursuit of the oppressed over time. The second chapter highlights the educational approach that many oppressors choose. The third describes Friere's experience with the "educational programs with the rural poor in various South American countries". Lastly, the fourth chapter compares the two theories of 'antidialogical' and 'dialogical'. Antidialogical aims to suppress the anxiety of reality, and dialogical aims to aid in "the discovery of reality through critical thought and free communication" (Wyllie 1).
Wyllie quotes Freire and says "oppression and its causes objects of reflection by the oppressed...from that reflection will come their necessary engagement in the struggle for liberation". Wyllie says that this is a "pedagogy for the revolution" (Wyllie 1).
Would Friere consider conventional educational methods to be oppressive? How would he begin to educate oppressed people in urban areas to educate them about their own situation while still being sensitive? Clearly poverty influenced Friere in a negative way and helped him to develop this theory, but how would he think differently if he was raised in a different environment with different living conditions?
Although the famous image of the fist is generally one that represents power to the working class, I thought it would be interesting if I used the image to represent the oppression that the proletariat is subjected to.
According to Judith Butler, gender and sexuality are always in freeplay. Heterosexuality is always going to insist on being the original. It always seems like there is an original, but there is not. Conventionally, how do people know they are a certain gender or sexuality? It would make most sense to determine this anatomically, but not for Butler; bodies have no meaning. Language constructs all of the ideas that we have surrounding gender, queerness. It is cultural and social. It shifts with the times and social changes. Because of the overarching element of language and how it determines what we "are", I felt that it would be most suitable to illustrate these key concepts with language.
You can’t have any binary meaning that is only on one side. If there was only one sexuality hypothetically, then there would truly be none, because nobody would ever talk about it. What does it mean for something to be constructed by language? Am I constructing something by writing right now? Am I essentially asking the same question and doing the same thing that Butler was doing in the beginning of the article when she said "But I am writing here now: is it too late? Can this writing, can any writing, refuse the terms by which it is appropriated even as, to some extent, that very colonizing discourse enables or produces this stumbling block, this resistance? (Butler)".
and we are
we used to "be"—
from the original
to become something
new but it truly
doesn’t even exist;
then what are we
please tell me what are we
my mother insults,
the one that took your brain.”
—i hope we’re all
the same in the
some of the best
i’ve ever seen.
A semiotic analysis is the study of meaning-making, the philosophical theory of signs and symbols. I will be doing a semiotic analysis of red lipstick, followed by a few questions of my own.
What different emotions do these images evoke?
It is a strange concept; to think that we paint on our faces differently than our natural selves. Whether it is elaborate or not, the makeup on a woman's face, or the lack thereof, says a lot about her and what she is aiming to achieve with the presentation of her appearance. It also makes a difference in the entirety of her day. If a woman is more confident in her appearance, it will reflect in her actions.
Why is it that we react differently to a woman wearing red lipstick than to a woman wearing none? We assume things about her and see her in a different way than if she was wearing a more neutral shade or no lipstick at all.
Lipstick in particular, especially bright and dark shades, draws a lot of attention to the mouth and in turn gives the woman's overall appearance a sense of heightened sexuality and "promiscuity". Bright red lipstick is often associated with sexuality, but also with strength, which together can be very intimidating, to men and other women. A woman that is comfortable with her sexuality, but also confident that she is intelligent and strong, can be emotionally threatening to both genders.
Customarily, the color red is used to evoke sexual and erotic feelings simply because it goes back to our rudimentary physiological elements. We, as animals, see red as a symbol of health, blood, life, fertility, procreation, etc. The color demands attention. It is very active and stimulating to the eye. In literature and film, we know that it is the indicative color of things both negative and positive. Perhaps anger, sin, danger, violence, and murder, or differently love, bravery, passion, sacrifice etc.
Rosie the Riveter, with her red lips and red polka dot headband, is a fantastic cultural icon exemplifying the drastic change in politics and economics and empowerment that came for women after the second World War.
Men often see a woman who chooses not to wear makeup as "lazy" or "not feminine", but if she wears too much or wears it in the wrong way, she is unattractive or "trashy". Many feminists believe that make-up is a powerful, helpful luxury, but there are some that believe it to be a governing product of the patriarchal society that we live in.
A woman wearing no make-up may feel differently than when she puts a little bit on, but why?
Do we identify ourselves differently when we wear it?
When we present ourselves as "made up" what does that do to other females perceptions of us as women? Does it increase or decrease our chances of becoming acquainted with them? At what point does jealousy take hold?
What is the effect on a man's gaze when he sees a woman wearing red lipstick?
Anne Bradstreet is easily one of the most recognizable names in early North Americanliterature. She was the first person to have their poetry published. She was born Anne Dudley in
1612, into a nonconformist Puritan family who were all planning for the settlement of
Massachusetts Bay Colony. She married Simon Bradstreet, another nonconformist, in 1628. Her
extraordinary love and open accessibility for education was unusual for a young woman of her
time. The poetry of Anne Bradstreet challenges the traditional role of women in the seventeenth
century while still remaining true to strict gender biases within the Puritan faith.
Bradstreet is famous for many of her works, and some of the most well-known include The
Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit
and Learning, The Works of Anne Bradstreet in Prose and Verse, The Works of Anne Bradstreet,
and The Complete Works of Anne Bradstreet. Her poems do vary in subject matter, but they
unfailingly express “the Puritan spiritual and communal vision that informed her life” (419,
Cowell). The underlying themes of family, love, sorrow, nature, faith, and resignation are all
exceptionally prevalent in her verse.
The Prologue [To Her Book], is one of her most famous pieces, and it most likely stood as an
opening section in The Tenth Muse. Bradstreet is discussing the notion that there are certain
topics that she should not write on. She says, “For my mean pen are too superior things;” (420,
Bradstreet line 3). A couple more lines down in the same stanza she says “Let poets and
historians set these forth, /My obscure lines shall not so dim their worth” (420, line 5). It is
exceptionally ironic and bold of her to immediately begin by openly doubting if it was truly her
place to write poetry, in a poem, in the introduction to her poetry book.
In the sixth stanza, Bradstreet uses a Greek mythological example and discusses a group of
nine women, The Muses. The majority of Greek men were still not particularly open-minded
about women's rights during this time. Bradstreet makes mention of her right to have a voice and
perceives her domestic life as a treasured inspiration for verse. The last line in the stanza reads,
“The Greeks did nought, but play the fools and lie” (421, line 36). She does not, however, make
mention of gender equality or ever once reject the patriarchy. In fact, she holds exceptionally
true to her belief that men are the stronger sex. The next stanza reinforces the fact that she truly
believed that men were superior, and women knew this. “Let Greeks be Greeks, and women
what they are, / Men have precedency and still excel, / It is but vain unjustly to wage war; / Men
can do best, and women know it well” (421, line 37). She merely discusses that women are
capable of generating work that is worthy of “some small acknowledgment” (421, line 42).
Although she is asking for more acceptance as a female intellectual and writer, she wholly
accepted the Puritan designations of gender roles.
To My Dear and Loving Husband is another poem that holds much significance in the themes
of love, family, and spirituality. Bradstreet sets the piece up very personally, with the title written
similarly to the opening of a letter. It is twelve lines long and bears a resemblance to a
Shakespearean sonnet. The two opening lines are “If ever two were one, then surely we. / If ever
man were loved by wife, then thee,” (430, line 2). Simplistic, succinct, and understandable, it is
relatable to the interactions of marital love.
Her messages to her husband are raw and emotional. She is saying that there is no wife that
loves their husband more than she does. The next two lines begin to become spiritual, and even
more so at the very end of the piece. She says “Thy love is such I can no way repay, / The
heavens reward thee manifold, I pray” (431, line 10). At the very end of the poem, she becomes
exceptionally spiritual. She writes “Then while we live, in love let’s persevere, / That when we
live no more, we may live ever” (431, line 12). This can be interpreted that while she and her
husband are still living, they should love each other to their fullest and deepest potential, so they
can go to Heaven, and their love will live on even after they have died.
Bradstreet’s message is logical and true to Puritan values. People were married young, and
they were expected to stay together until death. Divorce and adultery were not accepted in
Puritan society. This poem is both religious and secular. It does recognize the importance of
Puritan religious beliefs, but it is also centralized around Bradstreet’s amorous attraction to her
The major themes of Puritanism, accompanied with a desire for eternal life, are both very
prevalent in all of her work. She speaks a lot about motherhood and matrimonial love. Some may
interpret her work as some of the first feminist writing. She accepts that men and women fulfill
separate but important roles, because she believes that that is what God wanted. She does
however, make the statement that women are knowledgeable and talented, and their
achievements and writing should not be censored or suppressed. Although she understood that
she was not the best writer, she wanted her work to be appreciated for what it was. She did not
want people to reject it because it was written by a woman. She also did not want people to think
that only men could write.
Bradstreet’s poetry is very much so influenced by the personal and intimate aspects of life. If
someone was to read these poems, and the author’s name was missing, it should not be difficult
for them to tell that they were written by a woman. For example, when expressing ones love for
their significant other, it is only honest to say that a man does not express it the way a woman
does. It is naturally easier for women to relate and empathize. Especially in To My Dear and
Loving Husband, Bradstreet does an impeccable job letting her femininity surface in her verses.
These emotionally fervent words are important to American history and the progression of
literature because they are the first of their kind. As the first woman poet and writer to be
published in British North America, her writing should be interpreted as the inauguration of
women’s writing and literature. If this woman never wrote the pieces that she did, our basis of
comparison would be vastly askew. The things she has written about and the way she wrote
should both be examined and analyzed. Scholars and readers, especially females, should be
scrutinizing how the differences between men and women’s thoughts and expressions are
translated into written language.
Although Bradstreet was exceptionally conflicted and clearly felt a deep internal struggle
about whether or not it was acceptable for her to write poetry, there does not seem to be any self
loathing coming through in her words. Her modesty illuminates all of her poems. Some readers
may interpret this as paranoia; or possibly as a fear of surpassing certain gender limitations.
Others may see it as a part of a linguistic practice of modesty that many poets of both genders of
the time practiced. Puritans valued unpretentiousness. Although her existence as a poet was
contradictory, it does not seem like Bradstreet is unaccepting of her completely evident talent
because she does make mention of her confidence in her work. By doing what she did, she
challenged one of the main aspects of her faith and societal norms of the time period, while also
staying true to her beliefs and lifestyle.
Works CitedLauter, Paul, and Bruce-Novoa. "Anne Bradstreet." The Heath Anthology of American
Literature. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1990. 418-37. Print.
manuscript called Meditations Divine and Morall. It was written on March 20th, 1664. It came
from the Houghton Library at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It seems to be
written in a leather bound book. Something especially intriguing about this particular document
is that it has the name “Jane Bradstreet”, the date 1849, and it also the words “of the fourth
generation from the author” on the cover page.
Jane Bradstreet was most likely a descendant of Anne, according to this information, and she
was probably in possession of this document before Harvard University found it. There were also
three other signatures on the cover page, that looked like “B. Edwards” and “Jiah Eliot”, and
“Harris” written upside down, with long lines before and underneath them. I chose to analyze
this document because I initially wanted to know more about Anne’s personal relationship with
her children. When I found this document I was especially intrigued by the cover page.
The letter itself reads;
“Parents perpetuate their lives in their posterity and their manners; in their imitation
children do naturally rather follow the failings than the virtues of their predecessors, but I am
persuaded better things of you. You once desired me to leave something for you in writing that
you might look upon, when you should see me no more; I could think of nothing more fit for you
nor of more ease to myself than these short meditations following. Such as they are, I bequeath
to you; small legacies are accepted by true friends, much more by dutiful children. I have
avoided encroaching upon others’ conceptions because I would leave you nothing but mine own,
though in value they fall short of all in this kind; yet I presume they will be better prized by you
for the author’s sake. The Lord bless you with grace here and crown you with glory hereafter,
that I may meet you with rejoicing at that great day of appearing, which is the continual prayer
your affectionate mother,
March 20, 1664” (Hensley 271). A.B.
In this letter to her son, Bradstreet is saying that children carry the faults of their parents. At
the same the time, she means to say that she expects more than that of her favorite son, and that
she hopes he will learn from her mistakes and take the faults as lessons. This letter was meant to
be a precursor to the seventy-seven meditations that she wrote that followed it. She wanted to
leave something for her son to remember her by, and she thought that words would be the most
suitable option. She did not want to infringe on other people’s ideas or opinions because she
wanted hers to be the only ones that she left behind for her son. She leaves him with a prayer at
the end of the letter.
During this time period, we are seeing the transition from old English to modern English.
There was an influx of new words, as well the Great Vowel Shift, which was a language change
that affected the long vowels of English through the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. The
original document and its translation exemplify this is many ways. Reading the original piece, it
is easy to notice some strange spellings of certain words, such as “myne” and “owne”.
A woman named Ann Stanford wrote a critical essay called “Anne Bradstreet as a
Meditative Writer”. She discusses how all Christians and Puritans alike turned to “meditation, or
contemplation” (Stanford 89) for serenity. 1664 was the year she began writing her prose in the
mediation form. Her son, Simon, believed that she wrote in this fashion until she died. She wrote
her most famous poem in this style in the 1650’s or 1660’s, naming it “Contemplations”. It is
thought to be “the first important meditative poem written in America” (Stanford 89).
In the seventeenth century, the words contemplation and mediation were used synonymously.
For Puritans in this time, such as Anne Bradstreet, these words meant severe inquiry and
reflecting on religious subjects, rather than how Catholics interpreted them, as recognized and
divine practices. Bradstreet was not exceptionally well-read on the subject of meditation “as a
method of spiritual exercise” (Stanford 92) but she was completely mindful of it as a holistic
This meditative theme is seen in this letter. Bradstreet uses the words “divine” and “morall”
as a way of showing that she has recognized and agreed to the disciplines of God. She simply
wanted to pass down her meditations to her children so they could have something to think about
In a critical essay by Elizabeth Wade White called The Tenth Muse - A Tercentenary
Appraisal of Anne Bradstreet, it is said that Bradstreet had some unpublished material that was
released in 1867 by John Harvard Ellis. There were autobiographical entries of prose, Religious
Experiences and Occasional Pieces, Meditations Divine and Morall, and scattered short personal
pieces. There are seventy-seven Meditations, all for her son Simon, written as moral statements
and are meant to be familiar and easily relatable.
In an essay entitled Mistress Anne Bradstreet by Samuel Eliot Morison, there were two things
in particular that stood out as prevalent to Simon and Anne’s relationship. “Simon, Jr., who was
at Harvard when she wrote, was her favorite son:
One to the Academy flew
To chat among that learned crew
Ambition moves still in his breast
That he might chant above the rest” (Morison 49).
Nepotism comes into play greatly in this passage. Although it is somewhat of a bold
statement for Morison to say that Simon was Bradstreet’s favorite son, it is evident through the
amount of letter writing that she did for him. It is easy to understand that Simon inherited the
love that Bradstreet felt for education. In this same essay, it is said that Simon wrote in his diary
on September 16th, 1672 and says “My ever honoured and most dear Mother was translated to
Heaven” (Morison 54). It is evident that he was keeping record of his thoughts and experiences.
Although I could not find any information whatsoever on Jane Bradstreet, I can only
speculate that she was a distant relative of Anne and somehow got a hold of this very important
document. I also could not find any information on B. Edwards, Jiah Eliot, or Harris.
Although this document was challenging to work with, it is exceptionally important. These
meditations are the first of their kind. Bradstreet was experimenting with a more difficult and
less structured type of writing towards the middle and end of her life. She was testing her luck at
something new. She had a lot of influence from the Bible, Psalms, and Proverbs. Her works and
that of the Bible are both meant to present a moral truth in a short poetic sermon, not only for the
author, but for the audience so they might benefit from it. These meditations were initially meant
to be left behind for her son, however, now that everyone has access to them, it is extraordinary
that we are able to read them and see the development that her works went through during her
experimental and transformational life.
Bradstreet, Anne, Jeannine Hensley, and Adrienne Cecile Rich. "For My Deare Son, Simon Bradstreet." The Works of Anne Bradstreet. Cambridge, Mass: Belknap of Harvard UP, 1967. N. pag. Print.
Bradstreet, Anne, and Josephine Ketcham Piercy. "For My Deare Son, Simon Bradstreet." The Tenth Muse (1650) And, from the Manuscripts: Meditations Divine and Morall, Together with Letters and Occasional Pieces. Gainesville, FL: Scholars' Facsimiles & Reprints, 1965. N. pag. Print.
Cowell, Pattie, and Ann Stanford. "Anne Bradstreet as a Meditative Writer." Critical Essays on Anne Bradstreet. Boston, MA: G.K. Hall, 1983. N. pag. Print.
Menzer, Melinda J. "What Is the Great Vowel Shift?" What Is the Great Vowel Shift? N.p., 2000. Web. 13 Nov. 2014.
Piercy, Josephine Ketcham. "The Prose Writer." Anne Bradstreet. New York: Twayne, 1965. N. pag. Print.
“writers”. It was very difficult for them to challenge and speak out against the patriarchal system,
let alone be seen as professionals and make a living with their words. Both Anne Bradstreet and
Mary Rowlandson were both women writers who lived in the seventeenth century. Anne
Bradstreet was born as Anne Dudley in 1612, and Mary Rowlandson was born in 1637.
Regarding the likes of God, religion, and free thought, the poetry, prose and ideas of Anne
Bradstreet and Mary Rowlandson are poles apart. Although both of the works discussed in this
report are relevant and known today, Anne’s Bradstreet’s letter has staying power for different
reasons than Mary Rowlandson’s famous narrative.
Although it is Bradstreet’s poetry that is the most highly regarded and well-known, her prose
is especially eloquent. She wrote a piece of prose to her children, which is prefaced by a poem.
The short verses state “This book by any yet unread,/I leave for you when I am dead,/That being
gone, here you may find/What was your living mother's mind./Make use of what I leave in
love,/And God shall bless you from above” (Delbanco, Heimert 137-138). It is clear from this
small excerpt that the love and adoration that Bradstreet felt for children was absolutely endless.
It deeply stresses the implications of motherhood, and legacy, and love, not only for her children,
but God as well.
Her tone in this piece takes on an inflection of urgency and imminence. Bradstreet speaks a
lot of her death and how things will be when she is dead. She pleads for her children to
remember her by her words, and for the things that she did when she was alive. She wants them
to be spiritually developed, and continue in their religious experiences after she is deceased. In
the very beginning, when she is talking about “speakers” she is talking about parents addressing
children. She then goes on to say that “and those especially sink deepest which are spoke latest”
(Delbanco, Heimert 138). This can be interpreted a few different ways, but mainly as children do
not realize how important their parents are until they are gone. She then goes on to make an
example of her own childhood, and how God had acted upon her when she was young.
She identifies the ages at which she developed conscience thought, and love and acceptance
for God. Although it sounds rather unbelievable and premature, Bradstreet says that she was only
about six or seven years old when she began learning of sin, disobedience unto her parents, and
how confession of her sins to the Lord and reading the Scriptures was exceptionally important to
her. She describes that she became more vain and sexual as she grew into a young teenager. She
was then stricken by smallpox at age sixteen, and describes that this was God’s way of
punishment. While she was sick, she confessed to God that she was proud and vain, and she
believed that he cured her because she was honest and acknowledged her sins. Shortly then after,
she was married and joined the church of Boston.
It is clear that it was Bradstreet’s goal to have children from an early age. She says “It pleased
God to keep me a long time without a child, which was a great grief to me and cost me many
prayers and tears before I obtained one…that as I have brought you into the world, and with
great pains, weakness, cares, and fears brought you to this, I now travail in birth again of you till
Christ be formed in you” (Delbanco, Heimert 139). In the beginning of this quote, she feels as if
God is trying to emotionally wound her and keep something beloved from her, and she implies
that it made him eerily joyous. She prayed for years to “obtain” a child, which is a strange way to
explain the situation. She then speaks directly to her children and tells them that it took a lot of
pain, weakness, care and fear to bring them into the world. The very end says that religious
rebirth is a painful and laborious effort. She is merely trying to get her children to appreciate the
emotional and physical pain that she had to endure just to have them in her life, which is
something relatable to all mothers.
Throughout the letter, Bradstreet discusses the experiences that she had with God in her
earlier years as a cautionary tale to her children. She talks about the love that she has for the Lord
and the love that he has for her. She tells her children that being punished by God is his way of
showing his greatest love and mercy. She also discusses Satan and atheism. She questioned “how
I could know whether there was a God; I never saw any miracles to confirm me, and those which
I read of, how did I know but they were feigned?” (Delbanco, Heimert 140). Although this letter
was truly meant to warn and advise her children, it serves as a window into many chapters of her
life. We can see that she is trying to keep her children safe from harm, and keep her presence
alive for them after she is deceased, but it has the same effect on us as readers because of the
way it was written. The staying power of the message is what makes this document relative to
Mary Rowlandson is most famous for her narrative, which is entitled A Narrative of the
Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. She wrote this after she was released from
being held hostage by Native Americans for eleven weeks. This piece is also less familiarly
known as The Sovereignty and Goodness of God. Although the language may be much more
heavy and repetitive, her writing is well-written from a technical standpoint. It is also peculiarly
subliminal because of its cyclical nature. From a merely visual standpoint, you can see the
words and phrases such as “God”, “Lord”, “bodies” “poor”, “condition”, “cold”, “wounded
child” and “sick child”, and things of that nature scattered up and down the pages in all of the
removes. It could be taxing on the reader because it is so dense.
In the beginning, Rowlandson recounts the horrific events of the Native American invasion of
her town and capture of her and her family and friends in great detail. She illustrates the women
and children expressing distress very well. The way that Rowlandson talks about God is far less
personal and less spiritual. She discusses the Native American invasion as an act of the Lord that
was meant to make sure that the townspeople “…would make us the more to acknowledge his
hand, and to see that our help is always in him” (Lauter 468).
Visually, "Lord" and "God" are overwhelmingly noticeable each time you glance at every
page, in numerous places. It is easy to understand her main motivation for writing this piece.
Because it is a narrative, it does have a different tone than Anne Bradstreet’s letter to her
children. The narrative is told much more like a story than the letter, and there is little to no
advice in it. It is more generalized in its intonation because it is not written to a specific person or
Rowlandson refers to the Native Americans as “ravenous Beasts” (Lauter 469), which is
shocking to say the least, because just a few pages later, she changes her tone and discusses how
merciful God can be in the most horrible of times. She says “One of the Indians that came from
Medfield fight, had brought some plunder, came to me, and asked me, if I would have a Bible, he
had got one in his Basket” (Lauter 473). She then goes on to explain how she asked her captors
for permission to read. This change of heart could be attributed to Stockholm syndrome.
“When the Lord had brought his people to this, that they saw no help in anything but himself,
then he takes the quarrel into his own hand, and though they [the Indians] had made a pit (in their
own imaginations) as deep as hell for the Christians that summer, yet the Lord hurled themselves
into it. And the Lord had not so many ways before to preserve them but now he hath as many to
destroy them” (Delbanco, Heimert 264). Here she is depicting a scene where the people of the
Lord have been brought to a horrible downfall, and they could only think to turn to him and
nothing else. The Lord then takes matters into his own hands, as she says, and she illustrates how
the Christians have been put into this situation because they have followed the likes of God.
“The pit of hell”, as Rowlandson puts it, is an analogy for a very deep problem for the Christians.
Both of these works document a very specific and crucial time in a very private and personal
way, however, Anne Bradstreet’s letter is more relatable, especially to parents. It is not every day
that the average person is captured by Native Americans and lives to tell the story. These works
will both live on, but for entirely different reasons. The alarming nature of Rowlandson’s
account is part of the reason why it has lived on for so long. Bradstreet’s letter, however, may
not be as famous as Rowlandson’s narrative, but it is more applicable and relatable to parents
and children. From a religious viewpoint, Bradstreet uses the intimate and the emotional aspects
of her life, and questions and doubts what she believes and presents these things to her children.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Rowlandson’s main motivation for writing this captivity
narrative is based in religion, and plays on fear and sympathy more than anything. If Bradstreet
and Rowlandson were in a room together today, discussing these two works, they would have a
lot of conflicting ideologies.
Works CitedDelbanco, Andrew, and Alan Heimert. http://web.b.ebscohost.com.libproxy.plymouth.edu/. Harvard University Press, Cambridge M.A., 1985. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
Ruiz, Eva Flores, and Jesus Lorate De Castro. "Puritan Women Facing Suffering: Texts as Tests of Survival..." (n.d.): n. pag. 2004. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
Lauter, Paul. Rowlandson, Mary [White]. "A Narrative of the Captivity and Restauration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson." The Health Anthology of American Literature. 464-92. Print.
Looking at the current state of our country, the recession we are in, the debt we are collectively facing, the status of our economy, our unemployment rate, our environment, our failing government, and the way all of these factors act upon one another, we have to wonder if all of these factors are being caused by the drastic separation of the Democratic and Republican parties. The current state of the economy and the separation of the social classes may be caused by our political structure, but the failing bipartisan system is largely responsible for the inefficiency of Congress and the political animosity between citizens.
Theoretically, bipartisanship should consist of two opposing political parties who are meant to compromise. However, each party has their own plan, and it may be difficult to meet in the middle because of incompatible principles and beliefs. This stalemate is known as political gridlock, or deadlock. This refers to the state of dormancy in legislature, which is generally due to the House of Representatives and the Senate being controlled by opposing parties. This stems from the polarizing ideologies and the discrepancy in political views. Because of this polarization, the more nonpartisan voices can be silenced. The Democratic and Republican parties hold the most dominance in U.S. politics. Although we have third parties such as the Green Party, the Constitution Party, and the Libertarian Party, they hold little political authority or power comparatively to the Democrats and Republicans.
Regardless of political standing and views, it seems as if everyone is in coherence with the notion expressed by Senator John McCain, “Washington is broken”(qtd. in Zogby 47). However, it does not seem as if anyone is really ready to do anything drastic to change this. In an article titled “The President Would Rather Give Speeches About Our Problems than Resolve Them” by Mitch McConnell, the senior U.S. Republican Senator from Kentucky, we can learn about this exact issue. He explains how President Obama has been reluctant to make any fundamental changes over the past six months. He discusses the government spending of the money that we do not have, and how any tax increases will destroy the jobs we have left. He says, “This debate isn’t about President Obama and House Republicans... it isn’t about Congress and the White House... it’s about what’s standing between the American people and the future we seek for ourselves and our families” (McConnell 1).
Thinking of how politics affect our economy and the reverse, we have to understand that the people who hold the positions of power decide what to do with the money that we earn, and in turn we are required to pay a portion back to them. Zuckerman also wrote an editorial entitled, “Money In Politics: A Problem with No Easy Solutions.” Although he focuses mainly on the election of 2010 and the out-of-control campaign spending, he links this to and discusses the entire overarching concept of wasteful political spending. He talks about the money being wasted on advocacy for positions that these candidates likely have no control over, or maybe do not care as much about as we think they do. He questions our system for political financing. He says, “Our form of political financing probably goes under the heading of the evil of two lessers, but nobody has yet come up with a better solution” (Zuckerman1).
Whether it is liberal-biased media, conservative-biased media, an interview with a senator, or a seemingly unbiased solution to the problem, all of these things seem to have one thing in common: the fact that the country and the government are no longer in agreement and not much is being done to change the way the system is run. Although we may think that this turmoil is most prevalent in our country, countries all over the globe are suffering from this decline in governmental structure and efficiency. Thinking of the notion of how and why American politics have changed, especially so quickly and recently, should make us, as Americans, anxious and suspicious for the generations to come. We have to take into account our foreign allies, our military, and our economy, particularly because we have so many other countries invested in these things.
An author named Mortimer B. Zuckerman wrote an editorial in 2011 entitled, “The Bickering and Brinkmanship Must Stop." He believes that if both the Democrats and Republicans could stop arguing over petty things and get back to the way bipartisanship used to be, based on compromise and give and take from both sides, then we would be in a better place as a country. In regard to Zuckerman’s political standing, the New York Times states that, “Though not currently enrolled in a party, he is known as a Democrat. But if he ran for the Senate, it would very likely be as a Republican or independent so he could avoid a costly primary. He gives his concerns about the way our government is operating, and how there just does not seem to be enough middle ground” (Arango and Barbaro). Although Zuckerman has been a supporter of the Democratic Party for a long time, he has been critical of Obama and his choices, although he did cast a vote for him in the 2008 election. He asks this question:
Remember when Congress saved Social Security, reformed the tax code, rationalized immigration policy, and closed hundreds of military bases in the 1980s and 1990s? Now we seem to lack the core group of moderates who used to negotiate congressional compromises. They made our political system of checks and balances work in the national interest. That seems to have unraveled. Republicans moved to the right and Democrats to the left, while the political center is getting weaker and thinner. (Zuckerman 1)
Although people believe that the two parties are opposite from one another, they are more alike than we all may know. Although voters have the ease of only having to choose between two parties, it is limiting and can narrow people’s perception. They are the same in the regard that they limit our options as voters. This bipartisan system could continue to make people feel as if they have fewer options.
Considering how people believe that the political parties are rapidly growing further and further apart, the idea of being part of a third party or being registered as an Independent can seem outlandish at times. Somehow we are all expected to follow political suit, although our political views may not all line up perfectly with the two dominant parties. People may be suspicious of Third Parties. We do have this unwritten, unofficial precedent that people are expected to follow. This makes a difference in our media, our economy, our education systems, and it puts us well on our way to extremism on both sides.
It actually seems as if there has been clear dissatisfaction with the lack of change in the American government for over a hundred years, although people are unwilling to make changes. Henry George, an American writer, political economist and politician, wrote and published a piece in 1881 called Political Dangers which was included in Chapter two of his book Social Problems. He says, “The popular idea of reform seems to be merely a change of men or a change of parties, not a change of system…Our two great political parties have really nothing more to propose than the keeping or the taking of the offices from the other party” (George).
John Zogby reports that politicians lack integrity and tend to operate selfishly to advance their own careers and finances. He also discusses the problem with Washington stems from “the idea that the vast majority of politicians belong to a privileged caste, conspiring together (and often with other elites, such as media, academics and businesses) to pass laws that serve them, rather than the people.” Ironically, the politicians are critical of themselves, which they do for some ulterior motive related to self-interest.
This is not a sustainable political system. America has gotten to the point where the duality of our governmental system has infected the minds of the majority of our citizens. We are constantly being pushed and pulled to either side. There is a notable pressing necessity of “choosing a side”, and the animosity between citizens that stems from our own political, personal views. When your personal and political views do not clearly line up with either of the candidates, you are forced to make a choice between the two, or register as an Independent.
It is so common that personal animosity between citizens in this country stems from differences in political views. Politics and your views on the matter are some of the easiest things to get into an argument about, especially with someone who is supportive of the opposing party. When we rely on our government for everything, and they fail us over and over, how are we as a country supposed to act when we feel as if we are no longer being helped, but harmed?
Tim Arango, Michael Barbaro, and. "Zuckerman Is Said to Be Weighing Bid for Senate."
George, Henry. "Chapter 2-Political Dangers." Social Problems. London: K. Paul, Trench and, 1881. N. pag. Print.
McConnell, Mitch. "The President Would Rather Give Speeches About Our Problems Than Resolve Them." Vital Speeches Of The Day 77.9 (2011): 305-306. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
N.Y./Region. The New York Times, 12 Feb. 2010. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.
Zogby, John. "The Bipartisan Problem." Politics (Campaigns & Elections) 31.4 (2010): 47. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
Zuckerman, Mortimer B. "The Bickering and Brinkmanship Must Stop." U.S. News Digital Weekly 12 Aug. 2011: 27. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
Zuckerman, Mortimer B. "Money in Politics: A Problem With No Easy Solutions." U.S. News Digital Weekly 06 Apr. 2012: 21. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.