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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Additional Relevant Links - 2nd Tri (Farewell?)

Hello readers! To close off my blog posts for this section of the year (or probably ever), I provide a few additional links to enhance the experience of reading both The House of the Seven Gables and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof - just a few small things to make the reading experience better. If this is my last post on this blog, then I thank my teacher, classmates, and any other readers for following me on my journey through a few works of literature. Thanks for your time here, and maybe check out my personal film review blog that I shall be updating soon: Creeper's Reviews from the Abyss. Anyways, here are the links:

Final Overview: The House of the Seven Gables & Cat On a Hot Tin Roof

     Reading through these two very different masterpieces has been a significant point in my journey through literature. Both have left deep impressions on my beauty-appreciative soul. Both essential meaning and the true commotion of life is brought to life through the wise lenses of these two very different authors. Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables explores the effects of previous ancestors on the current generation and the generation's superstitious gossip. Tennessee Williams' Cat On a Hot Tin Roof touches upon the taboo ideas of tender marital issues, homosexuality, impending death, and the reality of inheritance. Both literary works, though miles different in style, have a lot to do with the idea of inheritance and one's effect on the future generation. One could say that this step in my literary journey was an overall preparation for the future and the future generations to come.
     Hawthornes' House of Seven Gables personifies the effect of a previous generation's gossip in such grave detail through delicate, stylish language. When I encountered this piece of work, I became immediately excited and intimidated by the complicated use of language throughout and the metaphorical bombs of wisdom dropped on the reader throughout the novel. This novel wasn't just a challenging piece of work, but an experience. The novel has broadened my horizon of language and fallen right into my line of wisdom. Hawthorne teaches a grand lesson about how what one person says can greatly effect the next generation to come. In this novel's case, those age-old words crafted a sort of "house" of superstition and decay. In his words, "A man will commit almost any wrong—he will heap up an immense pile of wickedness, as hard as granite, . . . only to build a great, gloomy, dark-chambered mansion, for himself to die in, and for his posterity to be miserable in" (269). The gossip and superstitions one creates will leave a dark, lasting impression on the future to come. It crafts a dark undertone that ensures everyone will keep away.
     Where Hawthorne's magnificent novel focuses on the words and rumors surrounding the future generation, Williams' Cat On a Hot Tin Roof focuses more on the insurance of a future generation, accompanying the major idea of having the taboo brought to light. Williams' compelling play may be a speedy read, but it contains some of the most heavy subject matter ever established in another play. The spirit of commotion that Williams tried to capture in his play was the chaos of having one's most taboo secrets brought to light. Not many playwrights attempt to construct a play on a sole, abstract idea, but Williams achieves the true, unstable emotion of being caught in a bad lie very well. However, like Hawthorne, Tennessee Williams also crafts inheritance into the play as an idea. The play focuses more on making sure the next generation is preserved along with marital traditions. As said in the play, marriage falls on the rocks in the bedroom.
     Nathaniel Hawthorne and Tennessee Williams are both fantastic authors, capturing heavy subjects and abstract ideas in very different ways. These literary marvels have helped broaden my range in both elegant language and comprehending the spirit of an utterly abstract emotion. These are truly meaningful literary masterpieces.

Word Count: 500 (minus passage citations)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Theme Exploration 2: Cat On a Hot Tin Roof

     In life, there are certain subjects the general public just don't speak of readily in a conversation. In Tennessee Williams' play, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, many taboo subjects are established looming over the main characters, such as inevitable death, intimacy issues in marriage, and a homosexual past. Williams' goal in this play is to capture the build-up of these secrets being bottled up and the eventual explosion that occurs when these issues are brought to light. This signals the play's true theme to the reader - keeping the taboo issues in one's family hidden under a cloak of mendacity only leads to chaos and discomfort. Put more simply, lying to one's own family about a hefty, embarrassing issue only brings about an unstable relationship between that person and that person's family. 
     The theme starts to become clear to the reader when Brick and Big Daddy are discussing what's been driving Brick to alcoholism. In the conversation, Brick claims he drinks to kill the disgust he has with the mendacity in the world, to which Big Daddy eventually exclaims, "You been passing the buck. This disgust with mendacity is disgust with yourself" (127)!  They had been talking about lies being the foundation of their family, especially Brick's homosexual past. The true mendacity in this play is not just in Brick, but the whole family. Each, like real families, struggle keeping secrets from each other, which one can see leads to eventual chaos, as the play closes with Big Daddy contemplating his death and Maggie attempting to sleep with Brick at Big Daddy's party. Williams' captures the true chaos of not only the taboo being discussed in public but also the effect it has when kept secret for too long. They say the truth will set you free. However, the if kept for too long, the truth will only ruin things and disrupt the friendly flow you have with your family. All Williams' wanted to portray was that sensitive issues can be tolerated when brought to light sooner.
     In the world in which we all live, there is a great cloak of mendacity being pulled off and finally exposed to the light. Issues people once kept heavily hidden under wraps are becoming easier and easier to discuss. Williams' true intent of writing this play was simply to wake people up. Just because the general public doesn't readily talk about an idea doesn't mean it will go away when ignored. In fact, it's pure mendacity.

Word Count: 400 (minus passage citation)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Journal Entry 2/11/16: Cat On a Hot Tin Roof

"The bird that I hope to catch in the net of this play is not the solution of one man's psychological problem. I'm trying to catch the true quality of experience in a group of people, that cloudy, flickering, evanescent - fiercely charged! - interplay of live human beings in the thundercloud of a common crisis. Some mystery should be left in the revelation of character in a play, just as a great deal of mystery is always left in the in the revelation of character in life, even in one's own character to himself" (Williams 116-117)

     One doesn't often see a hefty set of stage directions when reading through an average play script. However, Tennesse Williams manipulates his stage directions to conceal the meaning and tone of the entire play. Aside from assigning just mere movements for the characters, Williams goes on to describe his exact goal for the play's tone. He crafts the stage directions more as if he were composing a novel instead, with powerful diction and excited syntax. 
     The surprise insertion of these meaningful directions are in no way unintentionally placed. At this moment in the play, the atmosphere is taut, tense and awkward, which prompts Williams to be specific with how he sets the scene. He uses colorful words like "flickering" and "evanescent" in an excitable tone to paint the perfect picture of how naturally the scene is supposed to play out. Williams wants to capture the central emotion of people struggling through the chaos of the real world while also still leaving a sense of mystery behind. 
     As the reader progresses through the play, the reader should expect to see those wise directions applied. As the scene builds up tension, it becomes obvious that these directions have set the tone universally. 

Word Count: 200

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Close-Reading Passage 3: Cat On a Hot Tin Roof

"We drank together that night all night . . . I said, 'SKIPPER! STOP LOVIN' MY HUSBAND OR TELL HIM HE'S GOT TO LET YOU ADMIT IT TO HIM!' . . . HE SLAPPED ME HARD ON THE MOUTH! . . . When I came to his room that night, with a little scratch like a sly little mouse at his door, he made that pitiful, ineffectual little attempt to prove that what I had said wasn't true . . . In this way, I destroyed him . . . (Williams 60)"

     Tennessee Williams crafts this passage with vividly to give off just the right tone desired. Through use of descriptive diction and common writing traditions, the reader is presented with an awkward and sort of "small" tone. Williams does this intentionally as to make the reader feel just as embarrassed and shocked as the character in her described scenario. Williams uses his language to manipulate the tone to a sense of defeat and realization of the "manly" figure's real past.
     Williams, in crafting this passage, adjoins two different tones in an easily identifiable shift. The beginning of the passage is in all capital letters, as to signal the common tradition of someone shouting in the text. As the passage progresses, the author not only switches back to natural text but also uses small, sympathetic and defeated diction to bring the tone from extremely loud to an awkward, tense kind of softness. The author crafts this through the use of powerfully descriptive diction such as, "pitiful," "ineffectual," and "destroyed." At the conclusion of this passage the reader has traveled from a loud-mouthed description to an awkward blanket of quiet, covering the conversation.
     Williams not only experiments with the diction to shape his tone, but also manipulates the syntax and adds in some literary devices. In the passage, the speaker says that she and the other character involved "drank together all night that night", and the intentionally poor syntax proves it. The words are arranged together in a way so repetitive and nonsensical that it sounds like something a child would say. The author embeds this in the passage with an intent of creating a kind of curious sense of doubt, making the reader question whether they should take this information seriously or not. Also, in addition to the small language mentioned previously, the author uses to simile to describe Skipper as "a sly little mouse". It adds to the small tone as does using the hyperbole "destroyed him."
     Through this vivid diction and carefully-arranged syntax, author Tennessee Williams crafts a passage with a small and awkward tone that some would question whether or not to take seriously in relation to the rest of the play. Williams might have also intentionally done this writer's trick to keep the sense of mystery afloat, as he likes to do in all of his works. However, there is little mystery involved in recognizing William's writing skills.

Word Count: 400

Journal Entry 2/10/16: Cat On a Hot Tin Roof

"Brick, y'know, I've been so God d*** disgustingly poor all my life! - That's the truth, Brick! . . . You don't know . . . how it feels to be poor as Job's turkey and have to suck up to relatives that you hated because they had money and all you had was a bunch of hand-me-down clothes and a few moldy three-per-cent government bonds . . . So that's why I'm like a cat on a hot tin roof" (Williams 54-55)!

     The author presents us with this powerful monologue revealing the full details of Maggie's anxiousness to be intimate with Brick and what she truly feels when she refers to the "cat on a hot tin roof." The metaphor itself can be applied outside of the text as being in a harmful or tense situation with confusion on how to escape. However, Maggie the Cat leaves little question about her feelings in this monologue, exposing the true meaning behind her character and the majority of the text.
     Many readers up to this point could translate Maggie's extended metaphor and anxious attitude as being frustrated from pure lack of intimacy or even total loss of chemistry with Brick. It's here that she reveals more than just what we can infer. While Big Daddy had been dying of cancer, the couple had been battling the rest of the family for his wealthy inheritance. However, he, like most traditional fathers, doesn't want to pass on his legacy to a branch of the tree without future generations. Maggie, with her poor background, just wants to feel rich, and Brick is refusing to give her even that. In conclusive reality, this is her "hot tin roof."

Word Count: 200

Monday, February 8, 2016

An Instance of Verisimilitude: Cat On a Hot Tin Roof

"When something is festering in your memory or your imagination, laws of silence don't work, it's just like shutting a door and locking it in a house on fire in hope of forgetting that the house is burning. But not facing a fire doesn't put it out. Silence about a thing just magnifies it. It grows and festers in silence, becomes malignant . . . (Williams 32)"

     Cat On a Hot Tin Roof contains one of Tennessee Williams' most famous motifs, present throughout most of his popular works. Williams is well-known for taking a tender subject and working it out into the open. For this, many consider him the most controversial and boundary-breaking playwright of the 20th century. Evidence of his technique is probably more ever-present in this work than any of his others, as this one deals a lot with more tense and taboo subjects. Williams just wants to bring man's true nature to light via the stage.
     Prior to the key quote cited above, romantically frustrated, Margaret, had been fighting with her husband, Brick, about past affairs and why he doesn't show her affection anymore. Throughout the play, scandalous and often important secrets are kept from various members of the family, from Big Daddy's fatal illness to the real reason Brick became an alcoholic and lost all affection for Margaret. Williams, being a controversial writer, slowly starts to later bring these issues to light, just as his intentions are in getting the theme across. The whole play is spent establishing secrets with the reader that are driving the characters to be so distressed, but none of the characters know truly, which is what the quote suggests in relation to the text. The secrets are ruining relationships and "festering" inside each character, eating them alive with guilt. Just like the universal metaphor of the "cat on a hot tin roof", this quote compares one of the text's central ideas to being burned. Keeping the truth secret is only torment to a smart soul.
     The work's true essential reality is the presence of the all-natural truth. If one chooses to hide the truth, the one and all parties involved will end up burned, no matter the controversy.

Word Count: 300

Journal Entry 2/8/16: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

     Tennessee Williams is a playwright well familiarized with using symbols and extended metaphors to hint at a greater truth. For an outside example, the whole play of A Streetcar Named Desire is a symbolic entity of the moral destruction that actual desire can do. In this work, the "cat on a hot tin roof" is a blatant extended metaphor for being stuck in a harmful situation but not having the will to escape from it.
     The two main characters in the play portray the sad truths of many modern young couples today. Brick is an alcoholic with a numb outlook on life and love. Margaret is still hopeless devoted to Brick and lusting after him, though he carries no affection for her anymore. Margaret, while expressing her unrecognized want for Brick, then questions "what is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof? . .  . Just staying on it, I guess, as long as she can (31)." What is the point in fighting for a harmful relationship when someone's still going to get burned? Margaret is so blindly devoted that she doesn't get the hint when Brick tells her to "jump off the roof" because "cats . . . land on their four feet uninjured" and to "find a lover (40)." He's telling her that she's better off without him, yet she stays trapped on the hot tin roof, like the cat she suggests.

Word Count: 200 (minus passage citations)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Plot Synopsis: Cat On a Hot Tin Roof

      In 1950s Mississippi, a father is dying of cancer and the family is vying against each other for his inheritance. Prior to this, his son, Brick's, love life has begun deteriorating and Brick's life falling into alcoholism. His wife, Margaret, is lusting for him heavily, though his heart is elsewhere.

Word Count: 50

Third Title: Cat On a Hot Tin Roof

     For my next title, I choose something a little different to add to my variety of literature. I decided next to move on to Tennessee Williams' tense play on serious subjects, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof. Many may have heard of or seen the film based on the play, or at least read William's most famous play, A Streetcar Named Desire. I'm reading this play not only to make up my page limit but to increase the variety of literary works of which I break down and analyze.
     Williams first released this play in 1954 - a time where most of the play's subject matter was not spoken of in public. The play deals with the ideas of feminine desire, homosexuality, sexual tension, and what it means to be a man, most of which in the golden days of the 1950s were not readily talked about in the media. The play stands as one of the most controversial of its time. The intense mood is already set by the end of Act One, and one could predict that it's only going intensify further.

To enhance my experience reading the play and your experience reading my blog, I present you with a few relevant links:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Pages Read Verification (1/14/16)

I have currently read 192 out of 500 pages required for my reading minimum. I am currently on page 192 (Chapter 13) of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables, which contains 330 pages total. To make up for the missing pages, I'm also going to read Tennessee Williams' play, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, which is 208 pages total. After everything's been read, I will have a total page count of 538, which is well over the minimum but the best I could do in staying around the ballpark of 500 pages.

The House of the Seven Gables - 330 total pages
Cat On a Hot Tin Roof  - 208 total pages
Current bookmark: pg. 192 in The House of the Seven Gables

Close-Reading Passage 2: The House of the Seven Gables

"He needed a shock; or perhaps he required to take a deep, deep plunge into the ocean of human life, and to sink down and be covered by its profoundness, and then to emerge, sobered, invigorated, restored to the world and himself. Perhaps, again, he required nothing less than the great final remedy - death" (Hawthorne 170)!

     This passage from the novel is pretty beautiful and insightful in its choice of language and its effect on the reader. Hawthorne measures his diction carefully as to pack a heavy emotional and intellectual punch with this passage. By depicting life through a grandiloquent metaphor and using deliberate, descriptive diction, Hawthorne conveys a meaningful, weighty lesson about how it feels to be truly alive and inspired.
     Prior to this passage's appearance in the novel, Clifford and Phoebe had been relaxing by the House's arched window and watching people go by. Clifford then gets a tad emotional and contemplates jumping out of the arched window, which is when this passage occurs. What Clifford's saying, in simpler terms, is that he needs to face death or have a near-death experience to truly feel alive. This statement is presented to the reader as somewhat of an extended metaphor, comparing life to an ocean - an ocean that he wants to swallow him alive as to refresh his state of being. He wants life to feel like it has meaning again, for life without meaning as akin to living just to breathe.
    In addition to this clever metaphor intertwined within the syntax, Hawthorne arranges his precise, descriptive diction. Hawthorne uses verbs like "plunge" and "emerge" to create an image of being enveloped by something completely. He also uses powerful adjectives such as "sobered", "invigorated", and "restored" to create a certain sense of being awake and aware of one's own existence. It's as if Hawthorne is crafting his language as such to get his honest point across without having to elaborate any further. Through the use of these vivid words, Hawthorne captures a sense of ultimate awareness and spiritual refreshment.
     This passage's impact is metaphorically an intellectual punch in the face. Hawthorne sticks this insightful outlook on being alive in the novel to in a way signal a kind of verisimilitude, for it is very much a deep, true fact about life. If one has no appreciation for life and being aware of existence, then there is no true point in living. In death, or fear of it, one can find themselves invigorated and more appreciative of life itself. Hawthorne crafts this passage not only to make a point to the characters in the novel, but to also make a point to the audience, with precise and vivid diction as well as the oceanic metaphor.

Word Count: 400

Journal Entry 1/14/16: The House of the Seven Gables

"The truth is as I say! Furthermore, the original perpetrator and father of this mischief appears to have perpetuated himself, and still walks the street - at least, his very image, in mind and body - with the fairest prospect of transmitting to posterity as rich and as wretched an inheritance as he received! Do you remember the daguerreotype, and its resemblance to the old portrait" (Hawthorne 190)?

     Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables is a novel centered around family tradition and age-old superstition. Through time, it appears that the current generation closely resembles its golden ancestor, at least in one case. Just like Phoebe in the novel, people might not catch or be taken off-guard by the quote above from Holgrave, the daguerreotypist, who has remained an omniscient friend to the ancestral Pyncheon family. In reality, Holgrave is comparing the greed of a current family descendant to the greed of the family's grand ancestor. 
     In the current family generation, most seem to greatly differ from their grand ancestor. However, Judge Pyncheon seems to have fallen into his greed and pride, just as the first Pyncheon descendant. Holgrave is telling Phoebe that the Judge is just a reflection of the of the grand, greedy ancestor. It was because of him the House was cursed, and it's because of the Judge the family name remains cursed. Judge Pyncheon buries himself in his inheritance, ignorant of his House's rot. Evidence is clear of Holgrave's comparison when he compares his daguerreotype of the Judge to the antique painting of the grand ancestor. The Judge robs while the House sobs. 

Word Count: 200

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Theme Exploration 1: The House of the Seven Gables

     Ever have an ancient story or tradition passed down through family? People might even treat you differently because of your family name or legacy. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, The House of the Seven Gables, the reader is introduced to one family with a cursed name, recounting every previous generation as far back as the first ancestor. This novel not only revolves around family and superstitious tradition but also the most practical and mature way of facing it. People are going to have their superstitious stories about a certain group or family, but the reality is that there's nothing really to do about it. Once someone's long gone, there's nothing that someone can do to change that. The main theme behind this novel is that people can slander a person's name, but there's nothing that person can do but accept and deal with it.
     To recap, the story centers around the Pyncheons, a family cursed in the beginning by a revenge-seeking wizard. Since then, only superstitious gossip has surrounded the House and all Pyncheon descendants. Each of the descendants currently living in Hawthorne's work represent the effects of what this superstition can do to a person. Hepzibah hasn't left the House in years and has fallen into a gloomy, emotional decay, just as the House itself has physically. She, like the House, has been wrecked by superstitious gossip and time's effect on it. Phoebe, the youngest descendant, is extremely upbeat and revitalizing, as she was isolated from the House and its gossip for all of her life prior to the novel's events. Clifford, the liberated convict, is much like Phoebe in terms of innocence. However, he grew up with the same superstitious influence, molding his rough exterior and damaged intelligence. Judge Pyncehon represents the positive outcome of gossip. He used his famous name to build a reputation instead of rot with the House. He escaped from the rumors, which the House itself appears to represent, as it only crumbles with time. The strongest evidence connecting the theme to these symbols would be the daguerreotypist's intellectual comment, "we must be dead ourselves before we can begin before we can begin to have proper influence which will then be . . . the world of another generation, which we have no shadow of a right to interfere" (Hawthorne 188). The daguerreotypist, an omniscient resident in the House, presents his realistic, unique viewpoint. Sometimes it takes an outside, non-biased source to discover the truth of the matter.
     Hawthorne's novel is a perfect example of how to maturely handle superstition and gossip. Pay no attention, for it doesn't matter and will only do harm.

Word Count: 400 (minus passage citation)