Tuesday, September 30, 2008

King Lear

I quite enjoyed rereading King Lear; though I have to say, after not reading Shakespeare since high school, I did have a little hard time reading it. However, as we've discussed in class it isn't always important to what they say but how the people interact. Both Lear's family and Gloucester's family truly represent a dysfunctional family.

From the beginning we see that Lear has not treated his daughters equally. Cordelia is clearly his favorite. However, I don't believe it justifies the actions of Regan and Goneril. They appear to be jealous sisters and sinister women. Lear did get the kingdom to both daughters so there is no room for questioning there. Though it does seem possible that King Lear's headstrong and stubborn personality might have caused them annoyance in the past and now they can seek revenge. It is as if they girls knew he would not bow down in agreeing to give up his one hundred knights, which led him to be homeless. Gloucester also had family issues. We are introduced to him harassing Edmund for being a bastard son, and this leads to resentment. It appears that in both cases the characteristics of the father lead some of their children to resent them and seek revenge. However, both Cordelia and Edgar remain loyal to their fathers.

King Lear and Gloucester continue to parallel each other throughout the story. Gloucester had to lose his eyesight in order to see the truth. King Lear had to lose everything to acknowledge his faults. In the end any true reconcile is cut short because of their deaths. These actions do play on the theme of nothingness. King Lear states in the beginning that "nothing can come of nothing." However, something does come from nothing for both these men. They had to have nothing in order to see the truth in their lives. Prior to their loss the men didn't know who they were. On a side note every time I hear that phrase I get "Something Good" from Sound of Music in my head, and have to wonder if Rodgers and Hammerstein took the phrase from King Lear.

The theme of disguise goes along with the idea of characters not knowing themselves. Both Kent and Edgar had to disguise themselves in order to save their lives as well as protect Lear and Gloucester. It is interesting to see the the two men who truly know who they are and stand for what they believe in have to mask themselves. In my class that previously read the play we were given the possibility also that Cordelia was actually the Fool. In that case she too had to disguise herself. This theory came from the fact the two were never in the same scene and the Fool vanishes from the play as soon as Cordelia returns. Also, at the very end Lear calls Cordelia his fool, in a term of endearment, but it could also indicate she was the Fool. I am interested in knowing if it is a common belief that she was the Fool.

I also found the imagery of animals interesting. Often times the image of being treated and lead around like a dog appeared. The most interesting image was the association of Regan and Goneril with birds. They pluck out Gloucester's eyes, which is common for crows and vultures. Lear also says they are "pelican daughters," and young pelicans were attributed with drinking their parents blood (63). However, it was odd to see Cordelia being associated with birds as well. When she and Lear are captured he imagines that they could live together like caged birds, and when he holds her dead body he mentions that "this feather stirs" (116).

I did enjoy King Lear though it really was a tragedy. I understood the justice of Regan and Goneril being killed. However, I found the death of Cordelia unnecessary, though I suppose she is representative of a true victim. Throughout the play she is mistreated, she does what she can to save her father, yet she is still killed in the end. I suppose that's what makes a tragedy a tragedy.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I really enjoyed our reading of Persepolis. It was interesting to be introduced to a different style of writing. I believe the graphic novels brings the reader to a whole new level. Instead of having to imagine what went on the images are right there for you. I think this was also a very good way to tell a story though a child's point-of-view. It is like incorporating the image style narrative of children's books but with an adult storyline.

It was interesting to see the life and emotions of Satrapi represented in the novel. I believe she gets her intended message across. There are many misgivings about Iran and the Middle East. She has lost many people in her life and writing this book is a way to honor them. It is an acknowledgment that, although there are radicals thinking they are saving their nation and actions of war, not everyone agrees with it. It is true in any war or cultural movement; not everyone supported the Revolutionary War or Civil War in America. People should not be bias to events because they do not understand the reasons or have no involvement. I think too often people hate what they do not understand. Persepolis is a personal view of a girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution. It allows those who do not understand the religious connotations of the movement to find other ways to connection with Satrapi such as rebelling against parents or the different trends of music.

I enjoyed seeing the childhood innocence of Marjane, such as on the first page when the girls played with the scarfs. The beginning of the story demonstrates how easily a child can be influenced by the public life around her. However, in the end, her parents influence her more. The story was shocking and emotional. I thought one of the most moving parts of the novel was when she describing how the Baba-Levy's had been killed and she left the last panel black, because "no scream in the world could have relieved [her] suffering and [her] anger" (142). I could never imagine how powerful a black box could be.

I think the movie was well done also. A handful of people had complaints about things that were changed or left out; however, I have seen enough movies that have adapted story lines and I know that everything cannot be told. So I think with the limits of movies, especially having read the first part of story, it was portrayed well. I liked the interpretation of Marjane's father telling the story of the Shah. They made the characters one dimension and very puppet-like. This describes the way the British treated the Shah; however, I think it also shows how shallow these people were. They had one desire, one dimension and that was money.

I believe the image of the Statue of Liberty with the skull face was not Satrapi making some political statement. It showed the propaganda the Iranian government printed against democracy at the time, and is it not uncommon in any nation like that. However, I also think it has a deeper meaning; it represented the death of freedom for the Iranian people and more directly Iranian women. The Statue of Liberty is a woman and it is the Iranian women who are suppressed by the veils and subjected to be the lesser gender. A main theme in the book and movie is the power of women, no matter how much the government tried to stop it. This is constantly demonstrated through Marjane's mother and grandmother. Her grandmother was one of my favorite character's in the movie and I enjoyed her words of wisdom.

There was also the mentioning that the second part of the movie was more lighthearted and trivial than the first half. This is true in the sense that she was not living in the war, and Marjane realizes after she returns to Iran and sees her friend that her woes in Austria were so minuscule. However, I think the age she was when she was in Austria should be a factor. I believe she was thirteen when she left and had to grow up away from her family in another country. For everyone at that age life is very hard and difficult. I for one can admit that when I was in middle and high school many events felt like the end of the world. I felt like I would never to recover from the heartache of a first love, and I suffered from many life-ending embarrassing moments. Looking back on my life now, those events were not the end of the world but at the time they were. I believe it was similar for Marjane; I assume the second book was also told in the same style as the first. The first book was in a child's view and the second would be in the teenage and young adult view.

Overall I enjoyed both the movie and the book, and I believe if both were reexamined there would be new things to discover the second read around.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Moviegoer

I quite enjoyed The Moviegoer. Though Binx is a bit out of the norm, I have read characters similar to him before, and I have to admire his search. I think, for Binx, he found himself often disconnected from the world and his search was his way to stay level.

I believe that Binx is as honest and as caring as he can get to Kate. They have a history of an awkward relationship, but besides his aunt, Kate is the only woman who remains constant in his life. Kate knows that Binx isn't as well off as people think he is. His aunt believes he should be in research; Sharon never understands him,and always asks if "[he's] kidding." Perhaps his proposal is both is way in trying to help Kate as it is to help himself. He admits that he's selfish, but he also cares about Kate. He knows her ups and downs and stays aware of her actions, as opposed to other people.

I liked the relationship between Binx and Lonnie. I think Binx enjoyed his company because they are a lot of like. Both tell the truth and both are devout in a goal. Binx is devot in his search while Lonnie is devout in his religion. There was also the parallels between Binx and his father. Binx's father appears to be on a search like Binx, and it was his reasoning to going to war. He also seems to be misunderstood like Binx; everyone believed he should have gone into research and Binx's mother didn't seem to understand his actions. Even their responses to women are similar, Binx goes after his secretaries while his father rashly decided to marry whoever his nurse was going to be.

I believe Binx did find resolution at the end of the story. I believe that changing moment was when Binx was on the phone with Joyce and he sees Kate and says that "only after the end could the few who survived creep out of their holes and discover themselves to be themselves and life as merrily as children among the viny ruins" (231). I believe he doesn't so much give up on his search as he gives up on trying to be so aware of it. In the epilogue he doesn't say that he gives up on his search. What I interpreted in that section was that he realizes he can't logically explain things. That would be a leap of faith, he doesn't give up on his search even though he has no found logic to discuss it. He can't talk about the things he does not fully comprehend and cannot force that on others. Binx says that he is part of his mother's family so he shys alway from religion; I see that as acknowledging his new found religious ideals, because he wouldn't have to previouly talk about something he didn't believe in. Before he would just draw a curtin when God was mentioned, yet now he is choosing not to discuss it.
There's the argument that Binx settled in the end. However, he does seem content in the end. What he's doing works for him. I think its more that Binx is settling down rather than settling in a life he does not want. Even Kate seems a bit more resolved at the end, she can walk to the office on her own, even if she needs to be told step by step of what to do.

Things don't have to be picture perfect and romanticized to be resolved. Binx and Kate aren't the most typical people in the world, and I think the story would be rather disappointing if Binx became more down to earth, emotional, and sympathetic or if Kate became less manic depressive.