Mrs. Dalloway and Spirits of the Dead
Summary - This story goes through the a day in the life of multiple characters in London. Mrs. Dalloway has been running errands for a party while other characters goes through various activities. Each have flashbacks of their past lives and some are haunted by it, like Septimus or they cherish it, like Mrs. Dalloway remembering Sally’s kiss. They all have different views of death. In Spirits of the Dead the speaker is found in a cemetery where there are spirits that are visiting the lonely soul to guide the speaker. The speaker has hope, which could be a double-sword because people cling to hope and sorrow, making them lonely.
Theme - The theme of Spirits of the Dead by Edgar Allen Poe and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf are both about death. In the poem, the soul and past lives were brought up along with hope being a double-edged sword, and in the novel, Septimus was contemplating suicide as a way to escape from the stresses of life. Mrs. Dalloway also thinks deeply about life and her choices while in the poem the speaker is seeing thoughts and visions of past lives.
Literary Device - “To thy weariness shall seem/As a burning and a fever/Which would cling to thee for ever.” The use of personification, and simile help show the theme of death from the perspective of the speaker by emphasizing the hold that the weariness has on someone’s soul.
Never Let me go and This Consciousness that is aware
Summary - In an alternate future, the cure to most diseases have been found and all is well. Except for the fact that the cure for these ailments are children who were raised for the sole purpose to be organ donors. This story follows these organ donors through their short lives and explores the concepts of self worth, deception, love, and what a person’s purpose is in life.
Theme - Identity; This Consciousness that is aware - Emily Dickinson. This poem shows the theme of identity because it is about self awareness and understanding the meaning of life and death.
Literary Device - The whole poem is personification of consciousness and that relates to the theme of identity because this consciousness is searching for its identity.
The Handmaid's tale and I gave myself to Him
Summary - In this dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, the main character, Offred, describes her journey as a Handmaid. Before the US fell, Offred was married to a man named Luke and had a daughter. Once the Republic of Gilead was established, Offred was captured and sent to be trained as a Handmaid. As a handmaid, she must be a tool to produce babies for Commanders. There is a chance of rebellion, but the novel ends with Offred being taken by an unknown black van. In “I gave myself to him,” Emily Dickinson writes about a marriage not based on true love and rather a business transaction. The marriage was just a union with expectations of the wife to become a housewife, completely devoted to her husband, while the husband is more free.
Theme - In both Handmaid’s Tale and I Gave Myself to Him, the prevailing theme is the oppression of women and the use of women as political instruments. In the book, Offred’s role as a handmaid is to have a sexual relationship with her Commander with no actual love or feelings. The poem reflects this idea by making marriage a business deal rather than a union of love.
Literary Device - Tone of words like “contract,” “purchaser,” and “cargoes” portray marriage as a business deal rather than a real act of love.
Atonement and Adam's curse
Summary - The futures of a group of people drastically change on one night due to a horrible chain of events. When looking back on this night, the perspectives of most of the guests are explored and shed light on what really happened that fateful night. After that night, the lives of the individuals are explored further, with a twist at the end that will leave readers questioning whether the decisions made back then could have changed the characters futures.
Theme - Forgiveness, Briony spent most of her life atoning for the mistake of accusing Robbie of rape. While, Cecilia and Robbie didn’t forgive her either, it was her who failed to move past her self. Her life revolved around her inability to forgive herself, and inability to accept her mistake.
Literary Device - Simile; Yeats uses simile to establish a connection with the audience and a common basis of understanding.
Hamlet and we
Summary - After the unusual death of a king in 14th century Denmark, the prince of the land resolves to discover the circumstances behind the death while also living his life to the fullest. Along the way, he has to deal with love, mania, rampant conspiracies, and a thirst for blood.
Theme - Revenge Only Causes a Cycle of Retaliation: Hamlet’s mission to avenge his father causes Laertes to go on a revenge quest. This cycle of revenge only ends with death at the end of the play.
Literary Device - Metaphor: With the mention of the atomic bomb in “We,” by Richard Wilbur the scenario is being posed that a strong message needs to be sent in order to prevent strife. However, this message will only cause the other party to retaliate with violence, creating a similar system as the one in Hamlet.
Macbeth and The Rose Tree
Summary - After learning that he will become the King of Scotland, Scottish general Macbeth resolves to do anything to rise up in any way he can. With the persuasion of three witches and his manipulative wife, Macbeth assassinates the current king, Duncan, and rules the land with dictator like authority. With the court being sceptical about the circumstances behind Duncan’s death, members of the court plot to depose Macbeth, with the play being enveloped by death, treachery, and ambition.
Theme - Deceit: Many people in the Scottish court were lying to each other left, right, and center. It made the tragic play seem almost like a comedy.
Literary Device - In “The Rose Tree” By William Butler Yeats the discussion of politics and how the government can/should work in society is explored in both “The Rose Tree” and Macbeth. With Macbeth taking the point of view that a political agenda can be forced rather than nurtured, the failure of his thought process is presented.
All the Pretty Horses and the human seasons
Summary - With the Old West slowly becoming modernized, a young man and his companions leave their homes to seek adventure in the great Mexican expanse. Along the way, they experience love, pain, and learn the hard truth about how the world works firsthand.
Theme - The theme of the poem and the novel is a bildungsroman story. John Grady is maturing throughout this story.
Literary Device - Metaphor: The poem "The Human Seasons" by John Keats uses different seasons to represent the different stages of life.
Equus and Gods
Summary - After a horrible incident, an accomplished psychologist is tasked with helping a troubled young man get through the aftermath. With his mental stability in question, the doctor will do everything he can to learn about the afflicted boy in order to understand what actually happened during that terrible ordeal. While doing so, the doctor learns more about himself and the motivation behind people’s actions.
Theme - Religion, Equus uses religion as a way to explain the problems that led to Alan’s dysfunction, it serves as a common theme and explanation for his behavior.
Literary Device - Metaphor; God by Langston Hughes, Hughes uses metaphor to compare himself to god, but in a sense to show that it is better to be a human and together than god and alone.
King lear and a Dialogue of Self and Soul
Summary - With the King of England nearing his end, the decision regarding his kingdom and how to divide it amongst his kin is presented. During his deliberation, however, the king slowly loses his ability to reason, causing both humorous and horrible scenes to ensue. This, along with and usurpers plot to gain control of the kingdom causes the court of England to be plagued with hatred, anger, paranoia, and deceit.
Theme - Identity: A person’s sense of identity can be changed based on their mental state and ambitions.
Literary Device - Extended Metaphor in "A Dialogue of Self and Soul" by William Butler Yeats: The relation of how the Soul and Self influence each other is similar to the relationship between King Lear and the Fool in King Lear. Their functionality is similar, but there methods for dealing with issues are wholly different.
Twelfth Night and Byzantium
Summary - During their travels abroad, a pair of twin siblings are separated by a storm and land in a foreign country. In order to find their sibling they think is lost at sea, each pursues work and make friends along the way. Once they meet, however, their uncanny resemblance to one another complicates their relationships with these new friends, causing feelings to become confused and directed at the wrong person. It doesn’t help that the sister lost at sea pretends to be her brother!
Theme - Appearances Can Be Deceiving: The main characters sub out for each other frequently, causing many interesting exchanges to take place
Literary Device - Extended Metaphor using "Byzanthium" by William Butler Yeats: The twins in Twelfth Night are much like the city of Byzantium since they both aren’t restricted by others to express themselves. The city of Byzantium used to be a major trade hub during the middle ages, and this popularity amongst other cities is similar to the popularity of the twins in the play.
1984 and He wishes his Beloved were Dead