Friday, May 10, 2013

Reading Responses:

While reading Frankenstein I was surprised by Mary Shelly’s choose to have two different narrators in the story. Victor Frankenstein’s telling of his tale contrasted with the Monster’s story. Victor’s narration is dark and full of misery while the Monster’s story is more poetic. The quiet life the monster leads for two years in his hovel outside the De Lacey leads the reader to believe that the monster may lead a normal life. I found this the most enjoyable part of the story. The monster observation of the De Lacey teaches the monster about misery but also hope. Civilization ends up crushing the monsters humanity and kindness. Shelly conveys that civilization is evil and the end of kindness and only leads to misery. 

The change in the demeanor of the monster when his attempt at human contact goes wrong propels the story but leads the reader to believe their is no kindness in the world. The monster following actions takes away any hope in the novel. Victor Frankenstein and the monster start to spiral into a dark abyss. The novel falls into complete tragedy. Shelly’s novel defiantly teaches the reader never to attempt to play God while encapsulating the ideals of the Romanticism.

Dark Beauty, Forbidden Loves 
The shift from Tom’s life to Maggie’s life in the last third of the book is a pleasant. The Mill on the Floss morphs into a love story. The last third of the novel chronicles Maggie’s visit to her cousin, Lucy. While at Lucy’s home, Maggie blossoms into a dark beauty in the eyes of the people of St. Oggs. I enjoyed this parallel to Lucy’s pure, light beauty. The contrast between the two cousins makes Maggie more intriguing. She is different from the rest of the young ladies in St. Oggs. It is like when King Henry married his second wife, the dark Anne Boylen. She was an exotic beauty like Maggie. This comparison would not be so far fetch to the readers in England in the nineteenth century. 
Maggie becomes the love interest of two men, Stephen Guest and Philip Wakem.  For any young lady at the time, this would be a blessing but Maggie rejects both men repeatedly. She feels like she would be betraying her brother or her cousin, Lucy, if she married Stephen or Philip. She repeatedly tells Philip that she love him and that she will marry him but it never comes to light. It is an interesting contrast to her life. One would think that Maggie would be overjoyed by the prospect of a better home but she is drawn to living with her brother. Her duty is stronger than her will. She feels the responsibility to her brother stronger than marriage and children. 

Notes from the Underground by Dostoyrvsky reminds me of the small things that we all worry about. The Underground Man seems to be focused on the idea of impressing some old classmates of his even if he loses all his money. He goes to many lengths in order to impresses these men like selling his old fur collar to buy a more expensive one and spends his last dollar on a dinner when he mets up with the men. Despite all these measures to impressive these people, he talks about them as if he could careless what they think of him. The Underground Man contradicts himself. Dostoyrvsky uses humor to make the reader go along with his plan but his story relates to human nature. It is natural to want to impress people. The urge for the Underground man’s action is not far off from what most people do everyday. 

The Paris Commune and the Birth of Socialism
Before reading Writing on the Paris Commune, I had never heard of the Paris Commune. The brief rule of the Paris Commune seems to have changed much of European government in the years after the Fourth French Revolution. Many of the ideals from the Paris Commune are reflected in modern politics. The most influential one being the separation of Church and State. This does come after the installment of the writing of the Untied States Constitution in 1788, but it appears to be the first time that it has appeared in a European country. Today, most countries acknowledge the separation of church and state. 
The readings that discusses the years after the Paris Commune laminate the sad end of the Paris Commune and it’s need to be reborn, but also talks about the idea that the Paris Commune lead to some socialistic tendencies in European Politics. The rise of the proletariat can be connected to universal healthcare and schooling in most European countries today. The proletariat rose against the wealthy and wished to have the same rights as them included education and better healthcare and housing. The Paris Commune sparked the birth of many modern political theories today. 

Robert Browning and Andrea Del Sarto
Browning’s poem, Andrea Del Sarto, immediately made me think of my time abroad in Florence, Italy. Del Sarto worked in Florence and contributed many paintings to the High Renaissance. While living in Italy, Browning would have came in contact with many of Del Sarto’s painting because many of Del Sarto’s painting still resided in Florence and Rome. Like Browning, I saw many Del Sarto’s works while living in Italy and I can see how Browning was inspired to write this poem. Del Sarto was very prolific during his life and well known as an artists without error. Browning writes as if he were Del Sarto. He proclaims his love for his wife, Lucrezia, while he is in France. Del Sarto longs for his home, Florence, and talks about his contemporaries, Raphael, Michelangelo, and Da Vinci.
Browning writes this poem about an interesting point in Del Sarto’s life. Del Sarto moved to France to work for the king of France but his wife demanded him to come back to Florence. The King allowed this and gave Del Sarto money to buy artworks for France. Del Sarto is said to have bought a house with the money instead and was never allowed back into France. As an art historian, the story of Del Sarto buying a house with the money from the King of France seems fractionalized. Browning’s poem false account of Del Sarto’s life has puzzled historians. He romanized history so believable that that story remains a mystery to this day.

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