Monday, April 26, 2010

Wabash College's Feminist Tempest

A Feminist Take on The Tempest
Shakespeare, being a product of his time, is not usually regarded as a feminist writer. Nor would I know exactly how he would respond to a feminist production of one of his plays, especially his swan-song, The Tempest. Wabash College, though, has taught me that an author is more than likely the least helpful source for information on a text or work of literature. This is certainly applicable to our production of The Tempest, a production where the main female character, in fact the only female character, is given strength Shakespeare may not have intended.
Briefly, The Tempest is Shakespeare’s last known full work; it falls into the genre of a Romantic play, that is a sprawling journey with a story arc to match that of his comedies, usually ending in marriage and resolution of an otherwise convoluted plot. The Tempest certainly does have a convoluted plot and also ends in marriage, or at least the promising of marriage. Prospero, the main character, was driven from his Dukedom of Milan by his brother. He ended up on an island and plotted revenge through the aid of his sorcery for twelve years before divine circumstance allowed him to actually follow through with it. His revenge is a complicated one, so I won’t focus on it specifically, but what is important is that Prospero could be read as an angry character, overwhelmed with a desire to set the world right again by regaining his Dukedom.
One of the main players and assistants in his revenge is his young daughter Miranda. When reading the text, she can be seen as another pawn in his game. He sets her up to marry Ferdinand, heir to Naples and thus establishes a dynasty for his name. Wabash’s production, though, makes her out to be a much more forceful character. Their relationship is very close, and Miranda has power over her father. This is most evident in the opening scene when she criticizes the storm her father is making. She uses words such as “beg” and “plead” to get him to stop. When reading the text, she was a much more passive character, but Wabash plays these lines like commands instead. She is given power over the most powerful character in the play.
Also, her love for Ferdinand is played not like a strategic maneuver, but instead as true love. Miranda was only three years old when she first arrived at the island, and because of that doesn’t know what other men look like. The play is a positive discovery of mankind in her regard. She refers to the world in very positive terms, “What a brave new world!” is her most famous quote. In the Wabash production she helps Ferdinand carry the burdens her father has set on him, she is a force to be reckoned with, not just a passive female as may have been the intention. She is stubborn and intent on pursuing her own happiness, not a happiness set upon her by anyone else.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Comment on "The Specialist, a look into the other"

I would have to agree with your interpretation of the frigid woman in Alice. As I was reading about what you thought the significance of Alice's name was, I thought that it sounded very similar to "All ice". I thought that this was quite fitting, as the imagery used includes the icy tundra, icebergs, and frigid barrenness.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Reply to "Faith Makes Life Possible...Not Easy"

I believe that Allan hit the nail on the head with his blog about the short story "Wait" and its true underlying meaning. Everyone is going to be tried in their life, and no matter it be big or small, everyone will be tried. It is how we respond to these situations when they are presented to us. Do we do what we know is truly correct and have faith that by doing this everything will turn out how it is meant to, or do we just follow the crowd, and do what me know is wrong. I agree with the point Allan makes about how the story starts out just as another typical flight delay in the airport, but as the plot grows and thickens it becomes more apparent that some of these things are a bit over the top from something that would really happen. The author uses these examples just to try the faith of all the characters who are stranded in the airport, and see who has the stronger faith of them all. It is a situation of the survival of the fittest. But that wish the fittest faith and strongest will to do the right thing and turn away from one knows is wrong. This is the case when everyone turns against eachother and the Businessman and young women are left. In the end they are rewarded with a hot air balloon landing next to the airport conveniently so they can escape and get away. It is like a message from above, and a reward for there strong will and faith for doing the right thing. We all encounter situations such as this one in our daily lives. Some of the challenges are big while others are smaller, yet they still challenge our faith. I think Allan brings up a good point about the active role of faith in everyones life and how they choose to use it, or abuse it.

Literature & Faith

It is common knowledge that the primary focus of literature and short fiction is to reveal and expand on some truth about humanity. In the story "God Lives in St. Petersburg," the main character experiences a loss of faith after leaving America to become a missionary to the people of Asia, primarily the Soviet Union. However, once he arrives and spends a decent amount of time doing his "closeted" missionary work by posing as an English teacher, he comes to the realization that it is nearly impossible to try to save the people. Not only is in he a very low socio-economic place in the world, but the people also have lost faith that things could and would ever get better. They have no hope. He then comes to this same mindset and begins to not care much for anything. His ultimate act against God is having sexual relations with the underage boy. At this point, he has lost all hope of faith and is completely going against his religion. The reader almost gets a feeling of sympathy for the emphasis of his losing of place in the world. He becomes a lost soul who commits sexual acts not for pleasure, but because of what has happened to him. In the end, there can be two different interpretations of what he does with the girl. One side can take it to mean that he realizes that he can save one person by bringing her to America, rather than trying to convert an entire nation. However, on the other hand, his sleeping with the fourteen year old girl can also again follow along the lines of the consistent theme of him "being a lost soul" and emphasize that concept.

The Specialist, a look into the other

The Specialist
I found the story to be very interesting, particularly in its role as a feminine point of view on aspects of sexuality and gender. While I could hardly ever know what it is like to be a frigid woman seeking answers about some sort of unsolvable sexual problem, it was certainly a story that made me think. The fantastic elements about actually having vast plains of nothingness within poor Alice, and the obvious allegory to frigidity with the icicles and terrifyingly cold temperatures provided insight into the issue that a woman may face. The problem seems ethereal and impossible, yet still persists. It haunts the woman, despite all the efforts to normalize. Men literally enter her one after the other trying to solve the problem, all unsuccessful. While I don’t know if it is significant, I found her name, Alice to be interesting as well. My first thought hearkened to Alice of Alice in Through the Looking Glass, which lends to fantastic tales of entering a mystical, defying logic and science sort of place, similar to Alice’s situation in the story.
Alice is publicized and scrutinized for her unsolvable oddity and made into a public icon on a talk show, which also made me think of Oprah’s showcasing of odd, outside the norm women who somehow relate to all women. One woman even asked if it ached, but Alice was unable to make a real connection with her, indicating it is all just a show. And seemingly, just as mysteriously as it came, the affliction leaves her; the symbolic ocean of time and persistence and tranquility, ebbing and flowing soon takes it away. These mysterious (particularly to me, a male) situations show an experience that requires the fantastic and ethereal to relate to.

"Faith make life possible...not easy"

When I first began to read the story "Wait" I could relate as I too have experienced flight delays and having to wait in a terminal for prolonged periods of time. However as the story seemed to progress further the events which transpire are quite frankly unbelievable. Everything which could have gone wrong did go wrong. This series of unfortunate events made me question how the accountant and ghanian woman were able to be put to the test so many times and not give in to temptations like the other passengers did. The answer I found was that they must have had great faith and trust in their own decisions. This leads me on to my next point as I believe that this book is a metaphor for life; as life throws at people many hardships. It is up to the people to keep their faith and deal with them appropriately, of course their is never a right answer however the decision made will potentially open a new line of events. For example the cubans decision to hijack the plane leads to them taking the wrong plane and crashing it into the control tower; this of course is a very hard lesson to be learned but it indeed shows that the decisions made during life's hardship's will have circumstances...some good, some bad. I suppose my main point in this whole blog is to keep your faith in tact as sometimes you may want to question your faith however you have to remember that "faith makes life possible not easy."

Two for the Show

The title is only a reflection of my forgetfulness, and this blog I suppose is then only a manifestation of persistence... At any rate, I found "God Lives in Saint Petersburg" to be a quick and enthralling read. I liked how the book contrasted the piety of Timothy against the city's sins and ignorance. He quickly succumbs to his temptations after being so far separated from his God. I begin to wonder what sins Timothy developed as he entered Saint Petersburg, or whether they were only sins he bore and carried with him there. Either way, he does have these temptations, such as gay pedaphelia, and he does demonstrate these temptations while in Saint Petersburg.

There is a bleak overall tone to the peace that greatly reflects on the hopelessness of the region and the hopelessness of Timothy's faith ever finding him there.

I can not help but think that if Timothy had been more deeply invested in his faith he might have seen alternatives to what was suggested to him. For instance, why not just take Susana to America, not as a wife, but just to give her the opportunity to get out of Saint Petersburg and find a living she wanted. Or at least get her into the ministry or something. Timothy seems to be so short sighted in his options. If the answers weren't slearly spelt out for him, he didn't have an answer for his problems. For instance, he came to teach the gospel of christianity, but after being turned away once he recedes into a regular english teacher. At least try to percerviere Timothy!