LITERATURE My log, my reflections

Hi, I'm Gioia and this is my log. Here I'll write my considerations and my opinions of the books and texts that we analyze in class.

Well, first thing first, I'd like to say how important literature is to me: a lot! Literature is something magical that makes me feel free because I can travel all around the world and staying in my room at the same time, I can be whoever I want and I can also learn from it.

OKAY NOW, LET'S START

PARADISE LOST BY JOHN MILTON

Well, to understand this beautiful epic poem, I think it is important to know something about the author: John Milton (1608-74) was an English poet, a reforming prose writer and a member of the revolutionary government. He was against all forms of tyranny and, in his poem, he wrote his personal experiences of the time he was sent to prison when the monarchy returned.

Paradise Lost: to sum it up

SATAN: he is described by Milton as an epic hero and he is the symbol of rebellion against authority. He is a great and fair leader and a great speaker. He tells his followers the truth, he is not sugarcoating it, he explains what they are losing to gain freedom and that is why he is fair. He is willing to lose everything, to leave Heaven for the sake of freedom. The power of speech he owns is the sign that he is as powerful as God. But, as the poem goes on, we won't see him as the hero anymore, because he will be blinded by his thirst of power and ambition and his self-confidence will border with arrogance. His appearance will also change and he will become a monster because he is moved by vengeance. The change in aspect is directly connected to the morality.

"Satan's speech", Book I

This quote from "Satan's speech" means that the mind is a powerful tool and the best weapon to ever exist. It can make us create what we want out of the things that surround us and it has no limits.

"A mind not to be chang'd by Place or Time".

AMBITION: it can be considered as an element of foreboding/foreshadowing. It is indeed his ambition to reign that will mislead him and thus he is doomed.

We can say that, in a certain way, Satan is similar to Macbeth. As a matter of fact they both are powerful and blinded by ambition.

Macbeth is a strong knight who, after the prophecy of the three witches, will do anything in order to be king and to keep the throne, but his thirst of power will get him killed.

some funny pics of Macbeth.

In the poem we come upon the dilemma of creation. The problems between creator and creature is a recurring theme in literature, for example in the novel by Mary Shelley "Frankenstein". Why are we inferior to our creator if we were all created equal? Did we ask to be created? Both Satan and the creature are outcast because they do not fit in the society and so they decide to get revenge on their creator for making them suffer, for bringing them into this cruel world full of lies.

I would like to add another issue I find really intriguing: why do we find ourselves always (almost) empathizing with the villain? I think that it is probably because everyone have a soft spot for the so called "bad guy". And in these cases (Satan and the creature) even because the authors did a really good job in the description of the characters and by giving us different points of view. I also think that it depends on the character because there are two types of bad guy: the one that is pure evil and the one that has not necessarily evil motives and is only opposing the protagonist. And here it comes the difference between villain and antagonist. (For more information click on the link below).

Adam and Eve: "The Just-Created Adam".

When Adam is created he immediately starts looking around, gazing upon all the things that surround him, just like a baby. He starts wondering about the origins of life, reflecting upon our role on this planet and he search for answers in all the creatures that surround him because only nature knows his origins. Adam is just like a child that keeps wondering because he has not met the worst part of the world yet, he does not know about death and that makes him invincible. When we are old it seems our only concern is death, but when we are young we do not worry and we are free to wonder, we are invincible.

Like Adam even nowadays we search for our roots, our past, we investigate our origins because we were not born in the void but we all have connections and we want to find them because maybe they will give a sense to our lives.

DANIEL DEFOE AND THE REALISTIC NOVEL

In the 18th century there was a huge progress in literature with the rise of the novel, which was realistic and described the real aspects of life of the time. These are the new features:

  • The events are in chronological order.
  • The narration was in the 1st person (so we can understand the thoughts of the main character, it renders the story highly subjective ) or the 3rd person (so we can all know everything because the narrator is omniscient).
  • The setting was given real names of countries, towns, streets to render it real.
  • There were precise references to the times of the day or of the year.
  • Contemporary names and surnames were given to the characters.
  • The hero was a member of the bourgeois class and struggled for survival or for social success. They were created so the reader could have identified with them.
  • The language was simple and factual.
ROBINSON CRUSOE

ROBINSON CRUSOE

Robinson Crusoe belongs to the middle-class, which is referred to be the best among the other classes because it is not exposed to misery and hardship and it is not full of luxury, pride and ambition. Crusoe is the so called middle-class hero, with his will of traveling and searching for his own identity, and a self-made man. He is predestined to do great things because he is the only survivor and he follows the Bible and so through his adventures he will prove to be worth of salvation. He keeps a journal of  his experience to see and understand God's will. On the island nature will be his enemy and he will win using a rational approach, he will demonstrate to be a coloniser by rendering the island the epitomy of England, he recreates an organized primitive empire.

crusoe and friday

Their first meeting is when Robinson rescues Friday from a group of cannibals. This act is used to let people know that he is a good christian. Then we find the description of Friday through the eyes of Robinson, a white man who is a coloniser and a slavetrader so description results like the ones of the auctions during slavery in America. Friday is compared to African people: "his hair was long and black, not curled like wool", "his skin was not quite black" and "his nose small, not flat like negroes". Two other important facts are that Robinson decides his name based on "the memory of the time" and Robinson also teaches him the language of command, like the words "Master", yes and no.

JONATHAN SWIFT & GULLIVER'S TRAVELS

The most recurring theme in Swift's novel is the opposition between rationality and animality. Like many other writers, Swift used the imaginary voyage to narrate of happy societies, utopias far away from the corrupted life and civilisation. Through the use of satire and scathing irony Swift described the decay of society in Europe, how people drifted apart from nature and simple life. It is well rendered at the end when Gulliver cannot stand the smell of humans after all the time he has spent with the Houyhnhnms, a specie of horses that use rationality to rule over the Yahoos, vile beings that resemble humans, they are deformed both in the body and in the mind and this deformation is the symbol of civilisation. Gulliver has learned from the horses to speculate and now he sees humans from the perspective of a horse. He wants to help the "English Yahoos" overcome their vice but for the time being he does not want to see them and himself, too as a matter of fact he looks at himself only through reflections of glass. The human smell is a metaphore of not having changed, of the corruption that plagues us.

AND NOW ANOTHER WORK BY JONATHAN SWIFT :)

In this pamphlet "A Modest Proposal for preventing the Children of Poor People in Ireland from being a Burden to their Parents or the Country, and for making them Beneficial to the Publick" Swift is at the peak of his writing career. The satire is simply sublime because he proposes something inconceivable to stop the overpopulation and hunger: let's eat kids! They are the best nourishing food and can make even two dishes when you have friends over! What could be wrong about cannibalism? But that's murder! And turning a blind eye on poverty isn't? What's the difference? Either way they are dying.

...is it really?

Credits:

Created with images by jarmoluk - "old books book old"

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