Does West talk to us through objects?

There are many objects in the novel West employs to illustrate imperfections. Some objects she uses are the neighborhoods described by Jenny, Margaret’s hat and Baldry Court.  Jenny describes the neighborhood with a “score of houses” with “hideous patches of bare bricks that show like sores through the ripped-off plaster and uncovered rafters that stick out like broken bones” (97).  Her description is notably different than the grounds of Baldry Court, which are mutinously groomed.  Another imperfection West includes is Margaret’s hat. Jenny “pat[s] its plumes” in an effort to fix it, but concludes that it is “an inoperable case” (106). Here, West uses the theme of imperfection to create a contrast to Jenny’s desire to control and change imperfections, whereas Margaret chooses to live with them. This object also sheds light on the differences in Margaret’s and Jenny’s characteristics. Margaret is content with the imperfections in the world. However, Jenny along with Kitty feel the need to modify and groom the world around them. This is also evident in the state of Baldry Court.

I consider the grounds at Baldry Court to be especially important for the theme of imperfections In the beginning of the story, Jenny describes the grounds of Baldry Court extensively and highly. She claims it could be the subject of “innumerable photographs in the illustrated papers” and that Baldry Court reveals the not “the wild eye of the artist” but the “knowing wink of the manicurist” (48). The land that is the most perfected and controlled, Baldry Court, was the last place Chris should be in. As his cousin and his wife only “wanted to snatch” Chris “from the wars and seal him in this green pleasantness” (48).

The Baldry’s estate illustrates the differences in class between Margaret and the two women, Jenny and Kitty. Importantly, it also helps Chris’ cousin and wife understand what Chris needed after he came home. The grounds of Baldry Court are so manicured and altered that Chris feels out of place upon his return. Jenny notices Chris looks like he was an “outcast” and wonders if “Baldry Court so sleek a place that the unhappy felt offenders there” (67)? Her feelings towards the grounds are further questioned when she witnesses Margaret’s reaction to the estate. Jenny notices “there is no esthetic reason “for the strip of turf; the common outside looks lovelier where it fringes the road with dark gorse and rough amber grasses” (90). She realizes Baldry Court’s “use is purely philosophic” as it “proclaims that the Baldry’s only admire “controlled beauty” (90). Jenny realizes through this object that the perfect estate would only act as a prison for someone like Chris and that he appreciated a more natural, or even imperfect setting.

Should the reader be asking the same questions as Robert?

Braddon’s use of empirical evidence in the novel can be noticed in two specific instances: when George learns of his wife’s death and when George disappears. In both of these instances, Robert incorporates a rational and logical mindset to navigate the clues to eventually reach an answer. In the first example, George reacts, as any married man would when he finds out his wife may be dead, stunned and panicked. However, Robert addresses the situation without such emotion and instead tells George “you must remember that the person whose name you saw in the paper may not be your wife. There may have been some other Helen Talboys” (78). Instead of jumping to conclusions, Robert suggests a more logical approach, to not assume that the person on the list is in fact George’s wife. Even with George’s counter, claiming “the age corresponds with hers” and that “Talboys is such an uncommon name” (78), Robert suggests “it may be a misprint for Talbot” (78). His suggestions serve as a push for George to travel to Ventnor to verify his wife’s death, instead of taking the newspaper’s word. Once in Ventnor, Robert again shows a rational method of finding George’s wife by suggesting George talk with the hotel first to locate his Mrs. Maldon, since he would know the fate of the wife. The second instance occurs when Robert questions Smithers if George boarded a train and uses visible evidence to confirm George’s location. He supplies Smithers with George’s description, “a tall, broad-chested young fellow, with a big brown beard” in hopes to spark a memory of him seeing George (118). Robert’s description of George, including his grey attire, led Smither’s to realizing that George had boarded a train to London. Lastly, it’s important to note that Robert went to the Train station because he suspected George would want to leave due to what happened with his wife and that he would want to be back in London.

Braddon’s inclusion of empirical evidence allows for the reader to understand the mindset and decision making process each character undergoes. In this example, Robert addresses both situations with little emotion and incorporated a logical and rational mindset as well as an evidence that was visible to solve the mystery of George’s wife and discover where George was when he was missing.

Can education be a bad thing?

The most important part of the Monster’s story to convince Victor to have compassion for him occurs when the village and Felix welcome and accept Arabian. As the Monster witnesses her introduction in the village, he notices “that although the stranger uttered articulate sounds, and appear to have a language of her own, she was neither understood by, or herself understood, the cottagers” (133). Here, it becomes apparent to the Monster that in a way, Arabian cannot communicate with people around her. But, unlike the Monster, Arabian was welcomed with “delight” and even “learned about twenty words” at her first “lesson” in speaking (133).

The Monster began to mirror the education Arabian received, but found that with his increased knowledge, he only became more upset with his situation. The Monster’s increased knowledge and perspective caused him to “turn towards myself” (135).  Most importantly, the Monster realizes his status as a “vagabond and a slave” as he does not possess any of the“acquisitions” (135).

The Monster appeals to Victor, his creator, and the reader when he mentions the only thing he was bestowed was a “figure hideously deformed and loathsome”( 136). He realizes that he is “not even the same nature as man” (136). The Victor and Monster’s education or knowledge has actually caused more harm than good. In Victor’s situation, his fascination with learning propelled into isolation and eventually the creation of a “monster”. And in the Monster’s situation, he became aware of everything he was robbed: love, acceptance, a companion and a relationship with his creator. As the Monster describes, “ No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses, or if they had, all my past life was now a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished nothing( 137). The Monster’s witness to Arabian’s education from the village only caused him to feel “agony” as prior to them, he had not felt beyond the “sensations of hunger, thirst, and heat!” (136).

Victor Frankenstein: A beautiful mind or a dangerous mind?

In the opening chapters of Frankenstein, the reader learns that Victor is a curious, intelligent individual. Victor compares himself to Elizabeth as being “more calm and philosophical” but also reveals that his “temper was not so yielding” (66).  He explains that he is “delighted in investigating the facts relative to the actual world” and that he considers “the world” to be a “secret” to which he “desired to discover” (66). Victor portrays himself as someone who is hungry for more information—possessing a strong curiosity in the world.

However, as his portrayal moves forward, it becomes evident that Victor holds himself to a higher standard than other people and even possess a sense of arrogance. This can be seen through his description of his accomplishments by the age of seventeen. By this age, Victor had developed occupations in mathematics and science as well as understanding English, German, Latin and Greek. At first, this might seem as if he was just self-motivated to learn more. But through his interaction with M. Krempe, it becomes evident that Victor has a slight superiority complex.  Victor mentions that he “did not feel much inclined to study the books” M. Krempe had recommended and he further described M. Krempe as a “little squat man, with a gruff voice and repulsive countenance” (75). Victor knew that the old books and philosophers he obsessed over were outdated. However, he reasoning for not pursuing the books reflects his superior attitude towards M. Krempe.

Victor unintentionally reveals to the reader that apart from being an intelligent and curious man, he is also extremely obsessive. He does not describe himself as being obsessive. Instead, this is portrayed through his detachment from his family, his school work and daily life. As Victor obsessed over his work, he understood his “father’s feelings” but was unable to “tear his thoughts from [his] employment” which “had taken an irresistible hold of his “imagination” (82). Even as Victor worked on his experiment, he reasoned with himself as motivation. Victor “promised” himself exercise and amusement once his “creation should be complete” (83).  Victor was aware of the repercussions his work was causing on his life, but he continued due to his obsession.Victor’s obsession can be noticed when he witnessed the storm and watched “its progress with curiosity and delight” (70). Victor mentioned that the catastrophe of the tree “excited [his] extreme astonishments” (70). His observation of something “so utterly destroyed” combined with his study of science fueled his obsession with discovering the secret of life(70).

Does Beauplaisir need glasses?

Fantomina maintained control over Beauplaisir, but only while her disguise and power of manipulation were in effect. She was “so admirably skilled in the art of feigning that she pleased and knew so exactly how to form her behavior to the character she represented” (2575-2576). Along with being able to change her physical appearance, Fantomina could also change her writing and speaking skills. She manipulated Beauplaisir through the use of her letters from her various disguises which worked to reel Beauplaisir back to her. In one of her letters as Mrs. Bloomer, she wrote that Beauplaisir “had been so cruel in not sending one letter to her all the time he had been absent.” (2576). This combination allowed “the lady” to counter Beauplaisir’s eventual dissatisfaction with her, and in this situation, luring Beauplaisir into pursuing Mrs. Bloomer.  Beauplaisir continually “rejected the belief of having seen” Fantomina before and he “supposed his mind had been deluded by an idea of some other” (2576). This further supports the level of control “the lady” possessed over Beauplaisir.

Beauplaisir was unable to connect each of his encounters with the disguises back to “the lady”. However, “the lady” lost control once her disguise was compromised by her mother and her pregnancy. She lost her ability to hid behind a mask and returned back to her original identity, one that no longer gave her control over the people around her. In this identity, she is forced to answer to her mother and “reveal the name of the person whose insinuations had drawn her to this dishonor” (2583).

“The lady” recognized the power of her disguise, especially when she informed Beauplaisir, as Incognita, “there is but one thing in my power to refuse you, which is the knowledge of my name, which believing the sight of my face will render you no secret” (2579).  “The Lady” understood that if her disguise was compromised, then Beauplaisir would simply move on to a greater challenge. Although the end of the story sees “the lady” sent to a “monastery in France”, she still demonstrated it was possible for her to obtain control over a man using the power of manipulation and various disguises (2584).

Why does Hood choose this point of view?

Hood’s choice to adopt the point of view of a seamstress conveys a distressful tone regarding the harsh working conditions in England in the 1800s. Hood effectively describes the conditions of the female speaker and he manages to attract the reader’s attention directly through the use of the third and last stanza. In the third stanza, Hood identifies men with “sisters” and “mothers and wives” and claims that “it is not linen you’re wearing out/But human creatures’ lives” (17,18,19-20). Using the voice of the seamstress, Hood aims blame at the consumers, because in way, their demand and abuse of the shirts is contributing the seamstress’ torture. Next, in the last stanza, Hood reveals the purpose of the poem and the reason for the seamstress’ outcries. His use of a “voice of dolorous pitch” is meant to “reach the rich” to raise awareness and eventually lead to change (79,80).

Hood’s use of writing from the point of view of the seamstress highlights differences between her and the audience. This first appears through his description of the female workers who are dressed in “unwomanly rags” and are working until their “eyes are heavy and dim” (3, 12). Not only are they working to the point of exhaustion, but also they have lost their status as women. The seamstress works as hard as a man and even wears clothes more similar to one too. He most likely considers shocking his audience to be an effective approach. This is especially evident when he describes how the seamstress feels towards death. She claims to “hardly fear” death (27). I consider this line to give the most intense portrayal of the seamstress’ mental state and due to its severity, creates a significant distance between the reader and the woman. Most people reading this poem do not have a job that is mostly similar to torture and makes them comfortable with the idea of death. I do not believe that Hood wanted to make the seamstress relatable. Hood’s presentation of her as being on the verge of collapse brings attention to the poor conditions the working class was exposed to at that time. His choice to write from the point of the view of the seamstress allows his audience to grow closer to understanding the atrocity they are shielded from.

Is Yeats a stone?

Although Yeats depicted some of the Irish revolutionaries using a critical attitude, by the last stanza, it is evident that he sees that they “changed utterly” (79). He incorporates the idea of nature and the “stone” to give his poem an overall attitude of admiration and appreciation for the rebels that died in the revolt (43). He presents the stone as “trouble” to “the living stream” and compares it to objects in nature that are constantly changing (44). He mentions how clouds and even animals change “minute by minute” (50). Yeats’ depiction of the stone represents Ireland’s resistance to change and though deaths on the surface seem terrible, in the end, they work to initiate a period of “beauty” (80).

In the moments leading up to Yeats’ realization involving the stone and nature, he drifts into periods where he maintains a critical tone towards the revolutionaries. He first attacks Countess Markievicz for her appearance of “ignorant good-will” during the day and “her nights in argument/until her voice grew shrill” (18,19-20). Yeats finds Markievicz only reveals her discontent with England in times of convenience.  Next, Yeats mentions another revolutionary, MacBride, whom he describes as “a drunken, vainglorious laut” (32). He furthers this critical tone by claiming “he had done most bitter wrong” (33). However, despite Yeats’ personal dislike for MacBridge, he is still able to recognize MacBride sacrificed his life for Ireland’s fight for independence. Because of this, MacBride “has been changed in his turn” (38).

Yeats’ cements his tone of admiration through writing the names of the revolutionaries killed “in a verse” (74). Similar to the contrast of the two words, criticism and admiration, Yeats’ sees this fight for independence from England and the unification of Ireland as a form of “beauty” but at the same time, he also witnesses the “terrible” nature of this fight in the form of death (80).

Kipling: a racist or a political revolutionary?

Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” utilized satire to expose the racist and paternalistic behavior within imperialism during the late 1800s. I understand how this poem could be seen as Kipling justifying imperialism, but his over-the-top and often harsh descriptions of the colonized peoples are most likely directed towards the people who coined them in the first place. Kipling, often maintains a patronizing tone towards the “white man” and includes some ludicrous requests that most imperialists at that time would have believed.  He does this first by contrasting the white man with the captives, who he describes as “fluttered folk and wild” (6) as well as “your new-caught, sullen peoples/ half-devil and half-child” (7-8). He establishes that the white man owns these people, who are not even fully human.

Kipling furthers this tone by informing the white man that he is too smart for the captives and that he should communicate with them in “open speech” (13) and “hundred times made plain” (14). The idea that the white man could only communicate with non-English speakers through a lower level vocabulary and slower speech is ridiculous. In my opinion, Kipling was aware of this and included this in his poem to expose the stupidity of this idea.

Once Kipling presents the captive people as being lower than human and having difficulty communicating with the white man, he tells the white man that he should “veil the threat of terror” (11), “fill full the mouth of famine” (19) and “bid the sickness cease” (20).  These requests attribute to Kipling’s patronizing tone and expose a belief that imperialists could heal all of the problems facing a recently colonized area. The purpose of this exposure was to attack the idea that imperialists could rid the colonized people of fear as well as end famine and illness. Including those difficult tasks, the “silent, sullen peoples” (47), as Kipling describes, will evaluate the imperialists and their “Gods” (48), making it even harder for the imperialists to take up their “burden”.

Overall, Kipling uses this poem attack the beliefs that many imperialists held using satire. He was a progressive individual who had spent time in many different countries and had experience with many cultures. I believe he wrote this poem because he understood the fault in the movement and belief and felt compelled to shed light on this issue.

What are Prospero’s motives?

In Act V, Prospero reveals himself as a character capable of expressing forgiveness and showing humility. It took until Act V for Prospero to be reminded that he is a human and not some monster like Sycorax. Once Ariel describes his magic as “so strongly works ‘em that if you now beheld them, your affections would become tender”, Prospero decides to forfeit his magical powers (5.1.21-24) In this moment, Prospero recognizes the severity of the magic spell and decides to side with his “nobler reason ‘gainst my fury” and treat the entourage with compassion (5.1.34). Prospero ends his conversation with Ariel by announcing “my charms I’ll break, their senses I’ll restore and they shall be themselves” (5.1.39-40). His conversation and actions with Ariel serve as evidence for Prospero capable of showing a ‘good’ side, but at what cost?

Although Prospero did show a sign of conversion and a demonstration of his commitment to forfeit his magic, I still do not think he fully forgave each of the people on the island. His interaction with Antonio did not seem genuine, especially since Prospero referred to him as a “wicked sir” during the moment he was supposedly forgiving Antonio  (5.1.149) Following this interaction, Antonio did not make any comments acknowledging Prospero’s statement of ‘forgiveness’. A similar attitude is shown to Caliban. Although Prospero orders Ariel to “set Caliban and his companions free” (5.1.305), Prospero still refers to him later as a “demi-devil” (5.1.327) and eventually tells him to “go to, away” (5.1.355) Which I see as evident hostility towards Caliban, someone he had just forgiven.

These finally interactions with Caliban and Alonso support this idea, that although Prospero showed some signs of forgiveness and a change of heart, he still was focused on reclaiming his throne and enabling his daughter to be included as well by act of the marriage.

I can see how readers would consider Prospero’s final speech in the Epilogue as manipulative, especially since he finishes with the line, “as you from crimes would pardoned be, let your indulgence set me free” (Epilogue.19-20) That line could be interpreted as if Prospero is now asking the audience for forgiveness and without the audience’s acceptance, he will be imprisoned like the entourage was. However,  this speech and that final line could Shakespeare attempting to interact with the audience, seeking a reaction from the play and possibly an encouragement to write more plays.