About marshall_rustand

Baylor Student

Surprised or satisfied?

George Talboy’s and Lady Audley’s fates at the end of this novel clearly differ but both satisfy the reader who wants to be content in the end.

George’s fate was a reversal of the presentation of his character from the beginning to end of the novel. When we meet George, we like George. Everybody likes George. “This George Talboys was the life and soul of the vessel… but everybody liked him” (Vol. 1, Ch. 2). But as much as we like George, Braddon sets us up to believe that George’s story may not have the happiest ending. We met George on a ship that is London bound and read this conversation that leads the reader to believe George’s fate is the character who is royally let down. “My wish is that we may find no disappointment when we get there” and “the person I go to meet may be changed in his feelings toward me” are two comments the governess makes to George that ultimately define his experience when he returns home (Vol. 1, Ch. 2). George then disappears for the majority of the novel so as the reader we assume he received the destiny we expected. This fate is completely reversed when George shows up alive and ends with a hope for a brighter future.

On the other hand, LA’s fate was a continuation throughout the novel. LA’s character is like a tornado where we are exposed to only the small part that touches the ground at first, but as the novel progresses we get caught up in the chaos of the storm and are thrown out at the top of the mayhem. LA started off similar to George’s character in the sense that “every one loved, admired, and praised her,” but LA quickly and severely had a negative development (Vol. 1, Ch. 1). Through shady acts, and manipulation of other characters the reader quickly begins to doubt and judge LA more and more harshly. And ultimately Braddon lets LA reveal her story, “I must tell you the story of my life in order to tell you why I have become the miserable wretch” at a point in the novel that helps the reader proceed to the next step of anticipated misery for LA (Vol. 3, Ch. 3).

To sum it up, I think George’s fate was initially unexpected for the reader whereas LA’s fate was bound to happen. But I think both of their fates pleased the reader rooting for the happy ending so job well done, Braddon.

What is evidence and what is deceitfulness?

I could not put this book down. Maybe I should’ve been in the Victorian period because I love this genre of fiction crimes and mysteries. It really is interesting to think about what counts as evidence in these kinds of stories. I tend to look more at the implied or theoretical side of things (aka not the empirical side) when I read these kinds of books so it is a good challenge for me to note the use of logical evidence throughout our reading. 

I like the way Braddon uses her rational evidence. Braddon creates this visual for the reader just like those scenes in the Sherlock Holmes movies where time freezes and you zone into one specific thing, and then as though nothing happened at all the story moves on. This left me wondering whether or not the highlighted information was important, or just there to trip me up? Three big examples of this questionable, rational evidence start in the very beginning. In Chapter 1 we hear a lot about Lady Audley’s ribbon, “she wore a narrow black ribbon around her neck… whatever the trinket was, she always kept it hidden under her dress” (chapter 1). The hidden nature of the ribbon made me curious, and when the ribbon showed back up later on in the story my interest peaked. In the third chapter I definitely thought that Phoebe and Luke’s discovery of the baby shoe and hair was tangible evidence. And the third example from the early chapters is later on when George is given a clip of Helen’s hair which he recognizes, but interestingly mentions how it used to be a little different when she was alive. This a great example of a time when I was unsure whether Braddon was giving me a hint, or simply trying to confuse me more.

I am very eager to see how each of these clear materials (the ribbon, the baby shoe and hair, and Helen’s hair) will play into the evidence, and into the mystery of this story. After looking for these specific details, Braddon successfully grabbed my attention and stirred a whole new group of questions and ideas.

What role does self-identification have with compassion?

Victor is not your normal guy. He’s a genius, was a recluse for a certain period of time, and is obsessed with knowledge. That being said, I think the most effective part of the Monster’s story to create compassion for Victor is different than for the reader. The most important part of the Monster’s story to convince Victor to have compassion for him is when he tells Victor about the books he found, read, and studied. This is a strange part to highlight, especially coming from the reader’s perspective who is more prone to feel for the Monster. The reader is impacted by the part of the Monster’s story where he asks for a companion after he has told us his hopes and aspirations then finally reveals himself to the DeLacey’s and is shunned.

The key to winning over Victor’s compassion is when the Monster informs Victor of the books he stumbled upon one evening. I think its safe to say that Victor is smart. He created life even if it was in Monster form. We also know that something that is near and dear to Victor is knowledge. We see it in he and Walton’s conversations, and we see it all throughout the book thus far – he loves knowledge. So to tie this back to the part of the Monster’s story where Victor learns that this Monster found “extreme delight” in reading and studying (Vol. 2, Ch. 7, par 3). The Monster and Victor can now identify with one another. “I now continually studied and exercised my mind upon these histories,” the Monster shows a similar dedication to knowledge as we in Victor near the beginning of the book (Vol. 2, Ch. 7, par 3). This unique connection is rare for Victor to have, even with other humans.The Monster says “I can hardly describe to you the effect of these books. They produced in me an infinity of new images and feelings that sometimes raised me to ecstasy, but more frequently sunk me into the lowest dejection” (Vol. 2, Ch. 7, par 4). He goes on to list and talk about each book and we slowly begin to see the way he interprets, learns from, and is impacted by these books. Book language is Victor’s language and that is why I think it is the most important part of the Monster’s story to convince Vitor to have compassion for him.

As a reader we are more likely to be compassionate in earlier situations in the book where our sympathy is triggered for the Monster. The moment of the Monster’s story to convince the reader to be compassionate is when he asks for a companion. By this point we have seen him express his hopes and aspirations for community and relationship, and we have also seen him in constant abandonment by all humans. Here we can sympathize with his loneliness and therefore feel compassionate towards his need for community and his hurt of rejection.

Letter writing is an art, don’t you think so?

To whom it may concern,

Seeing that I am writing you concerning letters, I decided to put my writing in the form of a letter. As I read the beginning of Shelley’s Frankenstein, I enjoyed the way she opened the story with several letters. Shelley’s character Robert Walton writes to his sister Mrs. Saville. Walton’s letters cover the early stages of “this expedition” to the North Pole (Letter 1, 3). Through these letters Shelley creates a foundation of curiosity which is the overall effect these four introductory letters have on the reader, the story, and the presentation of characters.

The effect the four letters have on the reader works similarly to when a tale begins with a scene from the middle of the book. The technique novels use to start a book with an important or dramatic scene from later in the book as well as Shelley’s letters both effect the reader. First they draw the reader in. Reading a letter that is between siblings, let alone two people is thrilling. Walton writes, “you know me sufficiently to confide in my prudence and considerateness” (Letter 2, 5). It is clear that his words are personal and clearly intended solely for his sister, and therefore we feel as though we are getting more information than he would give a stranger or even a friend. Second, these letters foreshadow for the rest of the book. Victor comes into the story and gives us a glimpse of the end of the novel. And after this glimpse the letters thirdly prompt the reader question several areas of the story. These letters are brilliant page-turners. With just enough information, and just enough of a story line, curiosity is peaked as to where Shelley is going with her story, so we must read on.

Walton’s letters immediately create a story within a story. There is the relationship between Walton and his sister displayed in letters. Then there is the adventure of Walton on his journey being expressed through the relationship between He and Mrs. Saville. And then there is the unexpected relationship between Victor and Walton, which is caused by the journey, which is expressed by the letters in the relationship between Walton and his sister. This is exactly how the letters effect the story and presentation of the characters – complexly. Right off the bat the introduction of multiple relationships communicates that this is going to be an intricate novel not just a simple story. We are left hanging more curious than ever, knowing that Victor is about to enlighten us on his story.

Well, they say curiosity killed the cat.. But thankfully I’m not one so I can keep on reading!


Marshall Rustand

Why have one personality when you can have four?!

   “The lady,” in Haywood’s “Fantomina” is extreme. She seems like the kind of person who if she does something, she does it one hundred percent no matter what. Her behavior towards Beauplaisir, the man she loves, is what gives her this all or nothing outlook. Fantomina, Celia, Widow Bloomer, and Incognita are the four different personas that “the lady” puts on in order to do pursue Beauplaisir. It is almost impossible not to question what exactly is “the lady” doing by creating four different identities and why she goes to the extent to create them. I would argue that similar to the Duke in the “Last Duchess,” our Lady’s motivation for plotting and pursuing Beauplaisir is her need to be Beauplaisir’s want and desire at all times. 

     As the reader, we receive mixed motivations throughout the story. Examples we see include our Lady appearing as in love, controlling, power seeking, addicted to the pleasure, and on and on. It is not until “the lady” becomes Incognita, her fourth and final identity, that we discover her true motive for the extreme measures she has taken. Just after Incognita receives Beauplaisir’s response to her letter, she praises herself for the ways she outsmarted him. While she is reflecting, she informs us that she has successfully defeated the ultimate fear for all women which is the fear of their “lover’s inconstancy” (2580, 3). This dread women have is the fear that in a relationship they will not be their significant other’s want and desire at all times. We discover this is our Lady’s motivation when she “heartily” thinks of the way she has “triumphed” over this fear (2580, 3). Just like the Duke, “the lady” wants to be the only one Beauplaisir wants and desires. Sadly, just like the Duke, “the lady” does not end up being the center of her lover’s world.

Side by side or miles apart, will sisters always be connected by heart?

“Goblin Market” is like a loaded baked potato. I mean it is stuffed with moral and ethical questions. There is sisterhood, deceit, desire, sacrifice, etc. Out of all of these packed topics, the strongest message that came through this poem for me had to do with the power of sisterhood. The fairytale nature and the development of the sisters’ relationship both impacted my interpretation of the lesson of a sister’s love.

The fiction is immediate. Initially, the title places us in the middle of a strange setting where goblins exist. Then the first two lines hit the ground running by showing us that “morning and evening maids heard the goblins cry” (lines 1-2). We see an interaction between the goblins and humans. This interaction is hardly normal or accepted to the adult, but from a child’s perspective could be possible. The way Rossetti makes this poem so instantly fictitious encourages the reader to read with the perspective of a child, or simply as though you are reading a children’s tale. When I read kids books, my mind immediately expects two things: a moral of the story and out of the box, creative thinking. Considering this, the fairytale nature of “Goblin Market” prompted me to expect and look out for a virtuous ending.

Although I was expecting a happy ending, I was pleasantly surprised at the weight this poem carried. The way the plot took the two sisters down a progression of any good relationship was something you hardly find in a traditional story. The two main characters progress from participating in a reckless hobby “evening by evening” of watching the goblins “Laura bow’d her head to hear, Lizzie veil’d her blushes” (lines 34-35). The line between harmless pastimes and danger begin to blur and the sisters become divided by choice. Lizzie runs, “in each ear, shut eyes and ran” while Laura stays, “curious Laura chose to linger” (lines 68-69). The divide grows wider and deeper as the consequences of these actions begin to set in. Laura starts to go mad over the fruit she has eaten, while Lizzie starts to unhinge over her older sister’s loss of sanity. There is a great part that highlights the gravity of this divide that says “one content, one sick in part” (line 212). The insanity drives the sisters to this next huge step in their relationship where Lizzie sacrifices all she can in order to save her sister. Something about the strength and motivation Lizzie has to save her sister is captured so well in my favorite lines of this poem, “one may lead a horse to water, twenty cannot make him drink” (lines 422-423). Lizzie is able to save Laura and the relationship progresses to the eventual reunion between the sisters. Reading this, I got the strong message that a sister will be there no matter what. Not only will she be there, but also she will be there to save you when you most need it.

Wait, can I get you to repeat that?

Does repetition affect the way you read something? Does it? Does it? Does it? Have you ever read one word over and over again until you are convinced you are saying and spelling it completely wrong? Or what about that song on the radio that literally only sings one word for the entire song? Repetition is not always this frustrating, but it is a successful technique to impact the tone of a work. 

     In the poem “Song of the Shirt” repetition creates an ironic tone throughout the poem. We have discussed this tone in other poems, and it has come up again in Hood’s poem today. The repetition forces the audience to read in this sing-song fashion. Most things read in a song manner are light hearted, and childish. These words could not be more opposite to the story of a woman basically working herself to death. Hood has put a heavy issue to a weightless tune, creating this ironic glaze over the poem.

     Although there is this general ironic tone, the repetition also triggers the readers’ interest. Noting that the repeated phrases are not silly but instead enlighten the reader to a day in the life of this woman, the readers’ curiosity is sparked and he or she wants to read on. “Seam, and gusset, and band, band and gusset, and seam” is just one example that is repeated later on in the poem and pulls the reader to the edge of their seat (lines 13-14). Our compassion is triggered by a disbelief – we want to read on and secretly hope something will change. We hope the “band, and gusset, and seam” will have faded into a vague memory. As the reader we almost want the repetition to stop so that the words can grow lighter, so that maybe the “Song of the Shirt” will change.

     This is exactly why the technique of repetition works to make the reader identify with the woman. What Hood has done here is create a middle ground between the reader and the woman character. By the time we are half way through the poem we expect the “work-work-work,” and the “stitch-stitch-stich” (line 9, line 5). You could have absolutely nothing in common with this woman, but by about the fifth stanza both you and the woman are prepared for the “work-work-work” (line 33). Hood successfully repeats words that show us the tediousness of this work once again drawing us to identify with this woman. We are put in her cold, rugged shoes for just a moment as Hood opens our eyes to the horrifying lifestyle this woman lives.

What if history books were purely poetry?

Poetry is an elaborate way of telling a story or sending a message. It can still be serious, comedic, educational, etc., but nevertheless is a unique form of communication. So, why would Swift choose to write about London or Yeats the Irish rebels and why in the form of a poem? What were they trying to communicate? These authors use poetry to record history, and urge the reader to action.

In his poem “A Description of a City Shower,” Swift documents the quality of life in the same way that Yeats documents history in his poem “Easter 1916.” Swift unlocks the poor quality of life in London through showing the way Londoners are stuck with the dreaded “city shower.” We see that this rain was inescapable and terrible for Londoners who know when to “dread a shower” (line 2). Moving from this documentation of the quality of life, both Swift and Yeats use political references to document important changes in these separate time periods. By mentioning the “Triumphant Tories and desponding Whigs forget their feuds and join to save their wigs” are see the documentation of political changes (lines 41-42). Yeats uses the social pressure to document political powers at the time in Ireland; it requires “polite meaningless words” (line 6). Yeats also documents people who were influential in the revolution with examples like “when young and beautiful, she rode to harriers” (lines 22-23).

I think both of these poems were written to raise questions regarding the way life was. Swift initially opens our eyes to how accepted this nasty sewer situation has become. Then we move to noticing how no one is doing anything about it. And taking another step, you begin to see how Swift uses the sewer to put everyone from the royals to the peasants on the same playing field. He shows how everyone becomes subject to the rain by showing that “now from all parts the swelling kennels flow,” showing us that it does not matter who you are but instead that everywhere is affected (line 53). I love at the end how he starts an almost random list of things that flow down the muddy water just to get the point across that nothing is being done about this vulgar lifestyle and how bad it has gotten. “Sweepings form butchers’ stalls, dung, gust, and blood, etc.” (line 61). I think here Swift encourages questions like, if we can let this sewage system get this bad, what else can we let get this bad by simply not doing anything about it?

Likewise Yeats challenges the Irish revolution. He begins to beg the question as to whether or not the revolt was really worth it. This is clear when he asks “no, no, not night but death; was it needless death after all?” (lines 66-67). Yeats seems to think this revolt had a strange juxtaposition where he notes that “all changed, changed utterly: a terrible beauty is born” (lines 15-16) and again he says “are changed, changed utterly: a terrible beauty is born” (lines 79-80). These lines begin and end the poem and reaffirm the idea Yeats seems to be facing. He seems to think this revolt was terrible. But he gives a subtle credit to the revolution for holding so steadfastly to what they believe, kind of showing that history will remember this terrible beauty that was born.

Both writers saw the horror, and the beauty in these massive events that were happening. They utilized the dichotomy here and put it into poetry to document and to stir the pot of questions and change.

How much power does peer pressure really have?

     It is fascinating to read texts from the past. Writings from the past help flesh out the skeleton that history books provide us with. Whether the text is from a year ago, or hundreds of years ago, these works have the power to highlight topics that are only briefly covered in regular textbooks. We get to experience more of the story that is based on different perspectives of what was socially acceptable, or based on what was known or undiscovered yet at certain times.

     Kipling’s poem “The White Man’s Burden,” is a fantastic example of showing us what exactly was crucial to people’s minds during the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. Kipling’s poem illustrates perspective in two ways. First, assuming that Kipling’s arguments were successful, we can look at the topics he chose to make his rhetorical arguments and use those topics to see what might have been considered important to the “white man” at that time. Secondly we have the ability to compare these arguments with current perspectives and see that although the content may not be the same, the argumentative strategies he used might be similar.

     I think the most convincing argument made in Kipling’s poem comes at the very end when Kipling writes, “comes now, to search your manhood through all the thankless years, cold, edged with dear-rough wisdom, the judgment of your peers” (53-56). Here he basically uses peer pressure to get American leaders to take on this “noble responsibility.” This is the most convincing argument he makes because the content and strategy are timeless. In other words this use of peer pressure is something that could be used today as effectively as it was used then. This poem is oppressive to the point that we most likely read the content as though it is an alien but since Kipling used the social factor we are able to identify with the human feeling of social pressure. This pressure is used as a form of tripping the audience into a guilt or fear of not fitting in in order to promote action for the “white man.” Do I agree with this strategy of guilt tripping the audience? Not necessarily, but it is the most rhetorically convincing argument used in this poem.

Did Prospero have a heart after all?

I do not know how I feel about my reaction to Prospero in Act 5. I did not expect to be so invested in the dynamic of these characters. Even though we were very clearly prepared in class that this play would end in a comedic way (that is to say that everything would “work out”), I was still shocked. I absolutely did not expect the sudden gush of virtue from within Prospero. Among all of the scheming, all of the plotting, I had Prospero built up in my head as this evil anomaly that was drunk with power. As strong as those words sound, I truly had boxed him into being almost as heartless as the spirits he controlled. I had to re-read Prospero’s words, “though with their high wrongs I am struck to th’ quick, yet with my nobler reason ‘gainst my fury do I take part. The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance” twice before I realized what he was saying. I was certain I had misread it. This line is extremely significant to the character of Prospero. This is significant because it reveals the soft natured heart of Prospero. In class we discussed our confusion of his fatherly nature, unsure if he was truly soft towards Miranda or if he simply manipulated her as necessary to his plans. I began to see how Prospero’s fatherly nature might be more of his natural tendency when I read this speech on using virtue over vengeance with those who had done wrong to Prospero. It was key that Prospero decided to give up his magic for the purpose of recognizing the power the magic had on him. I think the forgiveness and punishments he doled out to each of the characters came from Prospero’s remorseful reaction to the power the magic had on himself. Therefore, I do not think the doling out of forgiveness and punishments would have happened in the same way, if at all, if Prospero had no decided to release his magical powers.