Thursday, April 15, 2010

The House of Mirth, Part Two

I thought what was said the other day about how Lily seemed to be stricken by the "grass is always greener" syndrome. I agree with the assertion that when Lily has money she seems to be drawn to the lifestyle of the "republican spirit", and then when she is in debt Lily is drawn towards the high society lifestyle. Lily can never be satisfied. Lilly can not figure out what it is she wants. She makes it clear early on in the novel that her intentions is to marry someone rich and live happily ever after. However, as the story progresses she goes from striving for the lifestyle of the rich to wanting what Seldon represents. Then when she begins to lose enough money that threatens her status her "needs" change back to wanting to be in society.

What is up with this, who knows. I feel as though the best explanation for her actions is that there is no explanation at all. I can't think of any instance where someone would want one thing and the all of a sudden want the exact opposite, and then go back once again. I find it frustrating because as I sit here and write this I can not figure out what is going on with her.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The House of Mirth

The game of cat and mouse that Lily and Selden are playing is a little annoying. No one wants to bend and yet they are both expecting the other to give in if their relationship is going to take off. Even though I feel as if Selden only applies this to his courtship of Lily, Lily on the other hand plays cat and mouse with her status in her society. She gambles when it is not proper for her to do so, she smokes when it is not proper for her to do so, and she doesn't have the money to maintain her expensive appearance. Lily is way to stubborn to submit to all the rules that tells her what she should do, she does what she wants to do.

There are times where it appears she is going to go beyond her stubbornness, but in the end goes back to her old ways. The first example of this is in the train car where she attempts to hide who she is in an attempt to court Mr. Gryce. She attempts to hide the fact that she smokes and engages him in conversation with him regarding the things that he likes, but she doesn't have any genuine interest in them. Later in the novel Mr. Gryce proposes to her, but she declines. I feel she declines because of the stubbornness of not wanting to change who she is if she were to marry him.

Thursday, April 1, 2010


The clips that we watched in class today were very interesting. For some reason I felt that the dinner scene was pretty gruesome, its not that they were doing anything wrong in the scene, I guess its the way the ate. It was almost like they were not human, devouring all that food, and seeing characters eat off of the cow/pig skulls.

Another aspect of the film that I felt was creepy was the actress that played Trina. To me, Trina looked alien. Her skin was so pail that it seemed like there wasn't any facial features to be seen like cheek bones, and even more prominent features like her nose and jar line did not appear to be there unless you were looking at her at the right angle. When she was in her wedding dress it appeared that she was more like a ghost then a bride. Maybe like a zombie bride or something. Something wasn't right about that character.

The funeral / death march going outside the window as McTeague and Trina was getting married was a pretty nice touch. I noticed it before the film explicitly cut to the scene, but I could see the same touch being used in a film today without the cut to the street level which I thought was pretty cool. I liked how it worked in the movie too, the ending of the McTeague and Trina that we new from the first half of the book/film.

The final scenes with everyone going through Death Valley I found interesting because it seemed that the shading on the film was completely different from the rest of the movie. Everything was brighter and had a bit of a yellow haze to it, probably due to the sun, but I like to think that this was intentional and worked to show that McTeague and Marcus were there alone with only their Greed to accompany them.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


With McTeague, I found McTeague's courtship of Trina to be very interesting. At this time period it is very common for the male to send the female gifts to gain her favor, but in McTeague this doesn't happen. Trina even makes note of this where she compares the way that McTeague is courting her with the way Marcus had courted her. I am surprised that Trina allowed her relationship with McTeague to grow because he bumbled every step of the way.

From their first "intimate" interaction where McTeague kissed her while unconscious and then asks her to marry him. The book does not indicate that Trina was aware that she was kissed by McTeague, which works in McTeague's favor, but with McTeague hounding her to marry him after she had just gained consciousness should have caused her to run off and never turn back.

I can't help but think that their position in society gave more leeway in the bundles made by McTeague during the courtship. By being "lower class" the courtship appears to be less formal than those from the "upper class". Tying into the "lower class" is the fact that Trina's parents are either immigrants or first generation children of immigrants that caused them to not be aware of the courtship traditions of America which also played in McTeague's favor. It appears that Trina's parents are decieved by the fact that McTeague is a "Doctor", and thus gives him more credit then he deserves.

With all this in mind, Trina is aware of all of these things and yet she still ends up marrying McTeague. I am floored. I figure that Trina would never interact with McTeague again after the "Marry Me" incident.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pudd'nhead Wilson

In class while discussing honor and identity it got me thinking about how since Luigi is an dishonorable man, so Judge Driscoll would not have a gun fight and that "Tom" would dress up as a woman to hide his identity when he went raiding. I do not think I am going anywhere specific with these observations.

Talking about honor today it makes sense to me that the Judge would not have a showdown with Luigi because being an assassin is dishonorable. What I have a problem with though is that the Judge basically said that he was going to shoot him on the street, or something to that effect, when he would see him on the street once the election was further in the past. I find this to be highly dishonorable to go out and shoot someone in the street. Luigi would be looking for the same retribution, but to me if he would have shot the Judge in the street is justifiable because he would not give Luigi the chance to defend his honor. I feel as though since the Judge would not grant Luigi another duel that he did not have the right to shoot him on the street.

When talking about identity today I am surprised that we did not touch on the fact that "Tom" was a cross-dressing thief. Of course this does not have anything to do with racial identity, but gender identity instead. I am definitely not sure if Twain is attempting to make a social commentary about how women are just as strong and independent as men, which is seen with Roxy's character and how a "woman" can be a thief. Maybe it says more about "Tom's" identity crisis with his internal struggle of being the child of a slave. After kind of working it out here, I suppose it makes the most sense that he would dress as a black woman when going on his raids on the town because presumably he obtained this from his mother's "blood", and then to fully emulate a thief he had to dress as a black woman. There are probably more practical explanations such as the majority of the slaves that would work in the home are female, as most male slaves worked the fields.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Not Much of Anything In the Realm of New

Unfortunately there is not a new novel to discuss for this weeks posting, so this may very well end up being a posting of random stuff. First of all, the trip to the MASC today was pretty cool. Seeing the old texts in there original compositions was interesting, especially comparing them to the way books look today. The content of some of the books was interesting as well, such as the small book that was against the consumption of alcohol.

I am going to digress and talk a little about The Rise of Silas Lapham. Silas' downfall is due to Silas trying to be someone who he was not. He tried to insert himself into the upper class of Boston where he did not belong. Sure he had the money that would allow his family to associate with the other socialites, but they did not have the "culture" to fit in.

Kind of stuck on what else to discuss in this posting, so I guess that is it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Old Against New

A recurring theme in both The Rise of Silas Lapham and Daisy Miller is the clash between people with old money and people with new money. Amazingly it is kind of one sided though. The families with new money seem oblivious to the ridicule that they receive from the old money families.

In Daisy Miller the Miller family, especially Daisy, does not live up to the rules that their money dictates. The family treats their servant, Eugenio, like a family member. Mr. Costello however, looks down on the Miller family for doing so. She constantly says that the family is "common". Daisy also does not realize the rules that she is to follow now that she has money. She frequently takes walks with men, when it is not appropriate, and because of these actions she is eventually shunned.

Even though I have not completed The Rise of Silas Lapham yet, the same is occurring here. The Lapham family has gained their fortune just recently by selling paint. The Corey family is the old money family that looks down on the Lapham family, and thus sees them as not being cultured.

For me there is a disconnect with me and what is happening in these two stories. I realize that at the time that these stories were written that this is a relevant theme of old against new, but I can not connect with what is going on.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Behind the Mask

I am not really sure what to say about the story itself. It is definitely not the type of novel that I
enjoy reading. I personally want to group it with the likes of Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice simply because it revolves around the love life of the female lead. I found these to be pretty boring, but the saving grace in Behind the Mask for me was the "who is Jean" plot. I could care less about the love triangle that was going on.

One thing that I am not sure about is why Edward looked into the past of Jane once he left the estate. I do not recall that being discussed within the story, and I suppose that his curiosity over Jane's past is due to his infatuation with her. I suppose that this is a logical conclusion because he left all he ever new for a new place and until he got accustomed to his new surroundings that he would look wet his appetite by gathering information about the woman he was infatuated with.

Even though It's easy to focus on the negative in this novel, I am going to focus on the one positive that occurred. The transformation that Gerald has by the end of the novel get overshadowed by Jean's evil plot. While being the Master of the house, Gerald did not take part in the masterly duties that fell onto him once his father died. After falling for Jean however, he changed his ways and began to oversee his property. It is definitely not clear that he continued fulfilling his role as master of the house after Jean accomplished her goal.
I would like to believe that Gerald still takes care of his "master of the house" duties, especially now that Jean is his uncle's wife. Gerald should now realize why it is important to be active in his estate.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Joaquin Murieta

Here are a couple random observations about Joaquin that may, or may not, have anything to do with one another.

Joaquin becomes a "monster" that disrupts the American western society by his numerous robberies and killings. Joaquin, and to some extent the narrator, justifies him becoming a monster because of the atrocities that he had endured. As seen in with a couple instances in the book Joaquin is a bandit with a couple of ground rules. Do not kill those who help you and do not harm women. My problem is trying to figure out if he is struggling with balancing these two persona's, the noble Joaquin and the "monster" Joaquin, or if over time through the company that he keeps is he slowly becoming another Three-Finger Jack, a character that eventually enjoys killing for the thrill.

It also appears that Joaquin is beginning to fall in love with his own legend. What I mean by that is that he is appears to be prideful of all of the stories and rumors that are circulated. There is one scene where Joaquin is sitting in a bar or saloon, it was either by himself or playing Monte, that he overheard a conversation. There was a group of Americans sitting near him with one man saying how if Joaquin Murieta was in the bar right now that he would shoot him between the eyes. Joaquin jumped up on the table and exclaimed that he was indeed Joaquin Murieta and that if there was anyone brave enough to step outside with him to go now. Joaquin left and no one followed. I can only believe that this cocky response of "here I am, what are you going to do" was not only influenced by the fact that he new everyone feared him, but it also fueled the rumor mill fire that much more.

These are just a couple of things that I found interesting about Joaquin so far. To end, if there was one thing I could do to change this book to make it better I would introduce chapters or some other breaks in the story, because the way it is constructed now drives me crazy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Blithedale Romance

Life After Blithedale

At the end of the Blithedale-Pasture chapter, we are introduced to a strange reversal of roles. Coverdale tells us that through his curiosity that he seeks out Hollingsworth many years later after Zenobia’s death. He finds an emotionally broken down Hollingsworth with Priscilla by his side. The relationship between Hollingsworth and Priscilla has totally swapped with Hollingsworth “showed a self-destructive weakness, and a childlike, or childish, tendency to press close, and closer still” to Priscilla’s side (242). Coverdale observes Priscilla as being the protector and having a watchful quality, the guardian of Hollingsworth (242). An interesting role reversal, seeing as at Blithedale Hollingsworth was Priscilla’s protector, but even though Priscilla was not self loathing, she still stayed close to Hollingsworth’s protective gaze.

This is not a complete role reversal however. With their new roles each character stayed true to themselves. Priscilla is still “deep, submissive,, unquestioning reverence, and also a veiled happiness in her fair and quiet countenance” all qualities that she possessed in her younger years at Blithedale (242). Even Hollingsworth keeps his original purpose as a philanthropist, but instead of rehabilitating other criminals, he is rehabilitating himself because he sees himself as being Zenobia’s killer (243).

Even with this role reversal you can see that the characters changed, but it is frustrating that Coverdale does not grow. He is still the self absorbed bachelor that he had been before his journey to Blithedale. In his confession he says, “I by no means wish to die, Yet, were there any cause, in this whole chaos of human struggle, worth a sane man’s dying for, and which my death would benefit, then-provided, however, the effort did not involve an unreasonable amount of trouble-methinks I might be bold to offer up my life” (246). Same old Coverdale, it appears that he is saying the right, the noble, thing to say, but reading his statement it does not appear to be genuine. The only sacrifice that he had ever made was giving up his bachelor ways for the prospect of improving his life, he was not worried about the others.