Henrik Ibsen’s History of “A Doll’s House” Drama Essay
So you want to know more about how and why I wrote “A Doll’s House”. Many people have asked me about this play and about my ideas, why I made this play the way I did. They said I was too bold, I was immoral and I was contributing to the breakdown of my society. I tell you, though, my society was already broken before I ever arrived and my play did not serve to break it, but to bring ideas that needed to be discussed out into the open. They also applauded me and welcomed me at their meetings, saying I was their hero, one of the champions of the woman problem, but I was not that either. I admit I had some influence in the development of the theater. I did not choose to follow the same lines as my predecessors and present a hero character who would champion the accepted ideas of what was right and good. But again, this was not necessarily my intention. And so, I will tell you what I was thinking, as well as I might recall, what things were like in my time and society that helped me determine the direction I would take and why I took this direction dramatically-speaking, which helped to change the course of future theatrical productions.
In writing “A Doll’s House,” I, of course, knew about the woman problem, the question of whether women should be given more rights, perhaps even rights equal to the rights of men. I knew how they felt. I saw the problems in the streets. My primary concern, though, was in describing the human condition as well as I might. The issues of women really were not much concern of mine, but they could heighten the dramatic effect of the primary questions that were then weighing on my mind. I believe it was Joan Templeton (1989) who said “Nora’s conflict represents something other than, or something more than, woman’s” (28). I like this way of putting it. I wrote the play considering the problem of becoming an individual. Everyone grows older, takes on professions, struggles through life as best they may and often find themselves disappointed with what they have. But what did it mean to be truly alive, actually fulfilling the ideas of self that one harbored – courageous, brave, steadfast, loyal, clever, etc.? This kind of questioning was not unique to me alone. In my time, life was changing rapidly in every possible way. It seemed all of Europe was engaged in busy activity, there was a sense of a perfect way of living and of life and a realization that this form of life was not realized by most, if any. It seemed we were constantly greeted with new and more amazing advances in technology and scientific thought. Philosophy advanced tremendously as we became more informed thanks to the wonders of the discoveries made.
At the same time, the society of my youth was not the society I knew as an old man. By the time I reached my advanced age, life for myself and my countrymen, regardless of which country I lived in, had become focused more upon the active life of the city than it had been in my youth, and the problems of the city had become much more defined. Our cities continued to grow, but they were ill-equipped to handle such growth. They were often dirty and grimy, full of poor people seeking aid of some sort and urchins in the streets running about. There were also plenty of respectable people as well, of all classes and education levels. But the cities also offered many more opportunities for people to work together in new and unique ways. Although Nora was seen by my critics as an unusual woman because she found a means of earning money of her own and used this money to pay back a loan she’d kept hidden from her husband for several years, she was not. This was what my audiences recognized in her. It was scandalous to bring this conversation into the open, but it was known to have occurred in at least one household within a given circle. Between everyone questioning the strictures of society I had grown to know as a child and my own questions regarding what it meant to truly become what one was meant to be, it should not be surprising that a character such as Nora should come to be.
While my primary aim was to investigate the question of what it meant to exercise one’s choice, it cannot be denied that I was probably influenced by the woman problem. It would have been hard to avoid as it was talked of loudly. Viewing the streets as I made my way through each day, it was impossible not to see the hopeless condition of some of these women or to realize that they were in such a condition not as the result of their own lack of effort or moral adherence, but instead because of strict rules of society that prevented them from gaining appropriate education, adequate employment or sufficient familial support and protection. While I desired Nora to become a type of Everyman in the exploration of the development of the individual as a real and valid human being, this type of exploration was only possible within this sort of framework. Let me try to explain in another way. Had I placed the questions I was asking within the framework of a male character, shaped and molded to a small frame by the workings of society and then constrained within this form as a caged bird, my story would not have been believed. Nor would it have served a double benefit of bringing these questions into the open while suggesting further social investigation. It was denied in my day that men of any kind were limited in what they could do, particularly as our economic base was so quickly shifting that poor men became rich and rich men became poor seemingly overnight in a variety of new fields that also seemed to spring up suddenly (Greenblatt, 2005). However, it could not be denied that women were very rigidly constrained within a certain ideal.
In deliberating these questions within my own mind and with my friends and colleagues, I determined that at least some portion of who we became, or perhaps didn’t become, was due to the effect of the various constraints our society places on us. What if we didn’t wish to become a lawyer, a doctor or a pharmacist? What if what one wanted to do with his or her life was to become a writer? More than a selfish wish or a hedonistic dream, what I propose here is that perhaps we have been given by God certain talents that we must utilize in order to bring about the changes and discussions that must take place to further society in the direction God intends. If this one, with a talent for bringing together ideas and words in some format, were intended to write about social issues and were prevented, through the constraints of society, from doing so by becoming a chemist instead, these ideas and words would never be placed before the public and God’s plan would thus be thwarted. These were the thoughts that helped to inform the production of “A Doll’s House.” It was not the question of providing equal rights for women per se, but was rather a question of what it meant for a person to find the strength within themselves to become the person they wanted to be and the opportunity to be recognized for this effort, to be permitted to exercise their abilities to explore their talents and abilities, that brought me to write this play.
Perhaps you will notice some similarities between my thoughts, above, and my life. Anyone who has read even the smallest amount of detail about me will know that I was born to a well-respected and ancient family, but that I grew up in a household without a great deal of money (Merriman, 2006). I left home early as an apprentice to a chemist despite the fact that this was not where my heart lie. I enjoyed using my brain, but only to the pursuit of the lives I saw around me rather than the mixing of chemicals to produce what we might hope were healing effects. However, I must admit, my experiences here might have had some bearing upon the way in which I approached the world, with a more analytic, somewhat objective eye toward presenting things as they really were rather than how we might like them to be. This, too, was a sign of the times. It is a set of ideas and concepts that is today referred to as Modernity. “Modernity is a project, and not only a period, and it is, or was, a project of control, the rational mastery over nature, the planning, designing and plotting which led to planomania and technocracy” (Beilharg, 2001: 6). The basic concepts of modernism were to take a hard and fast look at various social processes to determine the universal truths of existence. These could then be canonized and applied across all cultures, individuals and time periods as a means of progressing toward a more ideal civilization. We were attempting, through such approaches, to expose the real essence of the truth, which required intense and detailed investigation of what was in front of us rather than what we would choose to see.
In terms of dramatic approach, I find I usually prefer to work with the point of the story that traditionally contains the most impact. This is usually considered the climax and occurs, in most plays, much later in the story. Anyone who studies Shakespeare is familiar with the approach in which the character slowly builds up his mistakes until he is finally brought to an appropriate final moment of reckoning and then the playwright ties up any loose ends in a resolution (Lee, 1910). In presenting my story, I prefer opening the curtain upon approximately the last moment possible before the climax hits and closing it as soon as possible afterward. My plays, including “A Doll’s House”, are concerned, as I have previously discussed, with the psychological elements of the human mind and what it means to ‘become’. As a result, I place the entire structure within a limited space that also helps to illustrate the limited space allowed the main character. Nora is constrained in mind, body and soul and this is depicted explicitly within the frame of the stage as everything occurs in the one room. At the same time, by concentrating on presenting the climax and conclusion only of the story within the frame of the play, the ‘action’ can only occur within a constrained time – here the course of two days. At the same time, there is the tension of knowing that there is a tremendous story leading up to the opening of the play that is never told, nor is the intriguing story of what occurs immediately after the play and therefore, time also is not constrained. This underscores the idea that Nora also may seem constrained at first glance but is at heart, constrained only as much as she allows herself to be.
What thrilled me so much about this condensed approach to the story was the way in which it changed the focus of attention. Rather than focusing on the broad view of what brought the character to a particular end, this condensing of the time and space available within the play forces attention to shift to understanding just how the individual’s mind exerts itself in a moment of crisis. Just how a person responds to a moment of truth reveals much about the true nature of that character. Some have suggested that perhaps Nora, having had her fit of anger at Torvald and stormed out of the house in childish indignation, might have then turned around and slunk back home again, begging his forgiveness and again adopting the role of housewife and mother. And well she might. That is not how I envisioned her, though. For a person to realize their own internal value, to have established a sense of worth within themselves such as Nora has, to then be told these efforts meant nothing, to lose that value, is a difficult thing. I provided Nora with the opportunity to make the decision for herself. She could have kept Torvald from opening the envelope that revealed her secret, but she did not. She could have accepted Torvald’s reaction and resumed her ‘proper’ position, but again she did not.
I did attempt to provide hints within the play that Nora was not intended to be the kind of character that simply threw a childish tantrum and will soon repent after the curtain falls. For example, the name of the play and numerous hints within it suggested that what was contained within was a passing trifle, a child’s plaything that couldn’t possibly last. The title makes direct reference to the doll’s house and the way Torvald speaks to his wife is also very much like a child speaking to a favorite toy. Nora brings home with her in the first act a small doll and her bedstead. In itself, the presence of this toy should remind the audience of the nature of the room they are viewing and the people who act within it. Nora then provides the key link when she tells Torvald, “they [the doll and bed] are very plain, but anyway she will soon break them in pieces” (Act 1). Nora herself breaks the house in pieces when she leaves, something that cannot be undone or repaired and is, perhaps, not something worth repairing as it prevents each of the characters within it from becoming fully as human as they might.
They say that this approach has founded a new approach to theater, bringing the traditional art form into the modern age. I will admit that I consciously stripped the play down to its constituent elements, focusing on what was real and relevant and focusing upon the development of the soul as it is defined in a moment of crisis. It must also be acknowledged that prior to my plays, there were not many within the theater world that were directly challenging the issues of the day, at least not in such a direct way. From what I understand, this has been a tradition in theater since my time. I must say it is gratifying to realize that I was able to have some effect, presumably to the good, in bringing about necessary discussion and investigation into long-standing assumptions and beliefs and present day social issues.
Beilharz, Peter. The Bauman Reader. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2001.
Greenblatt, Stephen (Ed.). “Introduction: The Victorian Age.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Vol. 8. New York: W.W. Norton, 2005.
Ibsen, Henrik. “A Doll’s House.” Four Major Plays: A Doll’s House, Ghosts, Hedda Gabler, The Master Builder. James McFarlane (Trans.). Oxford University Press, 1998.
Lee, Jennette. “Relation of Symbol to Plot in Ibsen’s Plays.” The Ibsen Secret: A Key to the Prose of Drama of Henrik Ibsen. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1910: 86-113.
Merriman, C.D. “Henrik Ibsen.” Online Literature. Jalic, 2006. Web.
Templeton, Joan. “The Doll House Backlash: Criticism, Feminism, and Ibsen.” PMLA. Vol. 104, N. 1, (January 1989): 28-40.
Ernest Hemingway’s Masculine Dominance Essay (Critical Writing)
In many of these works, Ernest Hemingway portrays male dominance and masculine power as dominant features of the main characters. Critics admit that the structure that Hemingway establishes for the telling of stories, the apparatus and technique he uses, is complex. As he essentially describes a psychic battle, he interprets his terms broadly and mythically. Male dominance and authority portrayed in his works are caused by life experience at war and hatred towards his mother.
Due to poor health, Hemingway was not enrolled in the army during WW!, but he joined the Red Cross Ambulance Corps. He took no orders and gave no orders, and came and went wherever he pleased. This allowed him to understand hardship and cruelty of war, communicate with soldiers and record their memories. During the First World War, the United States got into the fighting so late that an American with true war stories to tell, and a wound besides, was something of a rarity (Meyers 65). Such, of course, was Hemingway’s situation. Hemingway’s compromise indicates that even while writing The Sun Also Rises he was conscious of the problems his realistic language and sexual content could cause. Masculine dominance and language prevail in this novel. At the same time, Hemingway was not interested in challenging the censorship codes of the period. He often changed words to avoid such a confrontation. However, he was dedicated to his craft and to the integrity of his stories; an integral aspect of this dedication was presenting experiences as realistically as possible. The main characters of the novel, Brett Ashley and Jake Barnes experience psychological pressure caused by WWI. He says “A man can be destroyed but not defeated” (Hemingway 103). Consequently, he felt the language and sexuality of his characters had to support and reflect this realism. His major pattern associates the Fascists with the Apollonian and all that might be associated with that, and he largely places the cyclical, the “revolutionary,” with the Dionysian (Meyers 76; Meyers 198). These polar oppositions become in a broader perspective and another vocabulary masculine and feminine, and the struggle between them emerges partly as a solar battle in which male powers accept feminine control and the solar world yields to the lunar. Following Fantina, “
The heterosexual David Bourne shares the masculine identification that prevails in much of Bersani’s view of the gay man. Hemingway, of course, also identifies most emphatically with the masculine, and with phallocentric power arrangements as well. Here we can see how Hemingway’s masochism may not be entirely progressive” (84).
Certainly, in Hemingway’s style, as in any work of art, such basic oppositions are neither simplistic nor unvarying, while they serve to define a struggle between opposing forces.
Homosexual orientation and homosexual relations are often cited as main sources of Hemingway’s style and inspiration (Fontana 84). Thus, some critics reject this opinion stating that male bonding is caused by dual nature of his personality and a strong impact of his mother. His mother wanted twins but when she born a boy (further called Ernest) she was disappointed and dressed both of her children, Ernest and his sister in similar close. Following John Dos Passos “Ernest Hemingway was the only man he had ever known who really hated his mother (Lynn 395). This biographical fact explains male dominance and masculine features in many of his works. Lynn admits that it was partly his mother’s standards of beauty–elegant, inflated language supporting hypocritically held values–that Hemingway revolted against in his insistence on simplicity of style” (Lynn 395).
Similar to The Sun Also Rises, the majority of his works are based on a central male character who fights against life circumstances and destiny. His most popular short stories are The Killers, A Clean Well Lighted Place, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and Indian Camp. Hemingway biographer Meyers links the author’s long-standing fascination with the American West to the development of his central male characters. Meyers points to a sharp break between the passive men of Hemingway’s early fiction and the self-reliant males who populate his books after 1928 (Lynn 76). A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is a unique story in which the characters do not come in total contact with death, but nothingness hints and causes death. The cup of “nada” represents the emptiness in the old man’s life. The old man’s attempted suicide is linked to the emptiness and death as well (Meyers 20). Indian Camp is considered one of the classic stories. Nick Adams is a young boy who lives in the North woods. Nick, his father, and his uncle George set out on a trip to an American Indian camp that sits on the other side of a lake. Nick’s father is a Doctor, just as Ernest Hemingway’s father was a Doctor.
Hemingway is spawning characters that are similar to his own life experience.
Nick’s father travels to the American Indian Camp because a young American Indian girl has been having severe labor pains for two days. She is still unable to deliver her baby, so Dr. Adams decides to help. When the family arrives the mother is in pain and her husband suffers from an axe wound to the leg from a few days earlier (Lynn 72). A group of four American Indian men holds down the woman and Dr. Adams performs a makeshift procedure. He uses his jackknife as a scalpel and performs a cesarean section on the pregnant woman. Hemingway, during his service in World War I was injured by Austrian mortar fire in both legs. His use of injured legs in Snows and Indian Camp is an obvious and personal inclusion of his own life. His own mortality is a reference point and the injured leg in each story is a successful attempt by Hemingway to make the reader feel what Hemingway feels. Following Forter: ”My own sense is that inventing a masculinity less committed to the sanctity of its borders would be the beginning of a genuinely revolutionary project about gender” (133).
Critics admit that masculine lifestyle and hobbies (hunting and fishing) had a great impact on his themes and motifs used in the works. In the novel For Whom the Bell Tolls Hemingway, moderate in height, sight, in his masculinity, and in his faith which he moderates because of love, he finally nearsightedly rushes towards death “blindly,” believing he is rushing towards his wife who calls his name. His final blindness is an important self-dethronement of the world, as it speaks of the substitution of the woman for sight (Lynn 23). The anomaly of Don Guillermo Martin speaks to the two worlds that are in delicate balance within him. On the simplest of levels, the reference to the lost eggs is, of course, to lost testicular power or male potency in the struggle for power and authority that Jordan has witnessed within the cave, a battle that has culminated in Pablo’s overthrow as he has been unmanned and cowed by Pilar as she, inverting her stirring spoon, has made the baton of her cyclical function the new emblem of power in the cave.
The theme of masculinity and male dominance is depicted through the theme of struggle and fight. For instance, in The Old man and the Sea people struggle with life similar to Santiago who could not catch a fish during eighty-four days and become the laughingstock. Despite his old age, Santiago is strong enough to continue his battle with nature and sea. “Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same color as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated’ (Hemingway 10). Male characters are depicted as the persons who are full of life experience, but still have not found the truth of life (Meyers 1997). For instance, Santiago says: “It is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers” (Hemingway 75). In all of his stories and novels, Hemingway creates a powerful and true-to-life story about real experience of many soldiers who came home but felt lack of understanding and social support.
In sum, themes of male dominance and masculinity are caused by poor relations with his mother and personal experience during wartime. Hemingway underlines masculinity m order to impress the reader and convey the message. His structural and stylistic devices reveal a variety of interpretations as to the meaning in the novels. Through the theme of life struggle Hemingway describes that a person has only one life, which cannot be “restored”. Also, male characters in most of his works show the hopelessness and futility of people’ dreams when the life was to be taken as the true image of the human condition: frightened, lonely,
Works Cited Page
- Burwell, R. M. Hemingway’s Garden of Eden: Resistance of Things Past and Protecting the Masculine Text. Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 35 (1993), 198-221.
- Fantina, R., Hemingway’s Masochism, Sodomy and the, Dominant Woman. The Hemingway Review, 23 (2003), 84.
- Forter, G. Hemingway’s Fetishism: Psychoanalysis and the Mirror of Manhood. The Hemingway Review 18 (1999), 133.
- Hemingway, E. Sun Also Rises. Scribner, 1995.
- Hemingway, E. The Old man and the Sea. Scribner; Reissue edn, 1995.
- Lynn, K.. Hemingway. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1987.
- Meyers, J. Ernest Hemingway: The Critical Heritage. Routledge, 1997.
Why Is a Good General Knowledge of Emily Dickinson’s Life Useful for Interpreting Her Poems? Essay
Biographical information is often used by readers and researchers who analyze literature works because it provides them with an opportunity to improve their understanding of the discussed issues. The same approach can be rather beneficial when dealing with Dickinson’s poems. Even though the themes she reveals in her pieces seem to be universal, they are taken from Emily’s life. With the help of her poetic imagination, Dickinson shares her experiences with the world.
The words of this poet are very personal. For instance, the influence of her Calvinist faith can be observed in her four-line stanzas and meter. They are similar to religious hymns and psalms that were familiar to her since her childhood. Nevertheless, Dickinson introduces changes to the stanzas by creating additional pauses, which reveals both her individuality and unwillingness to be focused on spirituality. The poet was familiar with religion from her early age due to the father’s influence (Williams). Her belief in God’s existence can be observed in the first works, such as “I reckon – when I count at all” (Dickinson). With the course of time, she starts questioning the possibility to get to Heaven, which reveals the fact that her faith is no more supported in real life and she experiences a tough period. Nevertheless, her doubts are overcome eventually. Her further works seem to reveal the relationship between two people. However, those who understand spiritual issues faced by the poet can also realize that these works reveal her connection with God and desire to be accepted by Him.
Being aware of Dickinson’s life, readers should use this information with caution because it can affect their perceptions adversely and lead to distortions. However, this knowledge allows recognizing some of her contrasting attitudes. At least general awareness of her biographical information can be extremely advantageous for the interpretation of her works.
Dickinson, Emily. “I Reckon—When I Count It All.” All Poetry, Web.
Williams, Emily. “God the Father: Emily Dickinson, Psychoanalysis and the Paternal Relationship.” VoegelinView. 2018, Web.
Virginia Woolf Biography Annotated Bibliography
Life, Family, and Origin
Virginia Woolf was born on the 25th of January, 1882 in Kensington, London. Her mother, Julia, was a philanthropist and model, and her father, Leslie Stephen, was a writer and biographer. Since both of her parents had been previously married and widowed, Virginia grew together with 2 half-brothers and 2 half-sisters in addition to three siblings. Woolf was brought up in socially acceptable conditions influenced by the Victorian Literary Society.
While her brothers were educated at university, Virginia and her sisters were home-educated in English literature and Greek. A vivid impression that had made an impact on her was the summer home in St. Ives, Cornwall, and particularly the Godrevy Lighthouse, which she later used in her novel To the Lighthouse. The sudden death of her mother in 1895 and the death of her half-sister Stella several years later led to Virginia’s first nervous breakdown. Notwithstanding that, Virginia studied classics and literature at King’s College in London. It was there where she heard about the women’s rights movement and met Lilian Faithfull and Clara Pater.
Virginia’s strongest episode of depression was caused by the death of her father in 1904, after which she was hospitalized. It is thought that Virginia’s episodes and depressive periods might have been caused by sexual abuse by her half-brothers. Throughout her, later life, Virginia was suffering from mood swings, which had a major impact on her social life and adaptation to the community.
In 1912, Virginia got married to Leonard Woolf who was a writer. Despite the fact that his material state was low, Virginia fell in love with him. Their marriage lasted for 29 years and was considered an example of mutual respect and emotional support. Spouses also had professional relations in that they founded a publishing house Hogarth Press in 1917, which published some of Virginia’s works along with the ones of T. S. Eliot, Laurens van der Post, and others. Virginia held the view that in the patriarchal society, female writers needed support in their work. Her dream was to create a virtual space for herself and other women for developing a feminist critique of society. Woolf assisted her husband in publishing books in the Hogarth Press because there was no money to hire some employees.
Relationship to T. S. Eliot
T. S. Eliot was among the writers whose works were published by the Hogarth Press. It is a curious fact that for the first time Virginia and Eliot did not get along well. In her diaries, Virginia considered Eliot to be narrow-minded, too dramatic, and even sluggish. Nevertheless, after some time Virginia and Eliot managed to become good friends as Eliot became less pompous and pedantic.
After Virginia’s father’s death and her second mental breakdown, her siblings sold their old house and moved to Bloomsbury. There Virginia met Lytton Strachey, Clive Bell, Desmond McCarthy, Saxon Sydney-Turner, Duncan Grant, E.M. Forster, Roger Fry, and David Garnett. Together they established the Bloomsbury Group or Bloomsbury set, an intellectual association of writers and artists. Some of the members of the group, including Virginia, had become famous after the “Dreadnought Hoax” in 1910.
Virginia Woolf developed the idea of a liberal attitude to human sexuality. Interestingly, in 1922 she met Vita Sackville-West, a writer, and gardener, with whom Virginia had a romantic relationship to which her husband did not object. Sackville-West did her best to rise up Virginia’s self-esteem as the woman grew up to be a sickly recluse. Vita appreciated and encouraged Virginia’s liveliness, wit, and high intelligence.
As a result, that helped Virginia to build up a more confident image of herself. Sackville-West was the first one to help Virginia deal with her disease by switching between various forms of intellectual activities, such as reading and writing. In order to improve Virginia’s material situation, Sackville-West made a decision to be published in the Hogarth Press. After their love affair came to an end, Vita and Virginia remained friends till Woolf’s death in 1941.
At the onset of World War II, Virginia began to suffer from episodes and headaches which were caused by permanent fear for her Jewish husband. The house in London which they owned was destroyed during a heavy airstrike. After she had completed work on the manuscript of her last novel Between Acts, Virginia got depressed and was unable to continue her work. According to her diary, after the end of World War II, Virginia got obsessed with thoughts of death.
On 28 March 1941, having written a letter to her husband and sister, she took on her coat, filled the pockets with stones, and drowned herself in the River Ouse, which was near her home in Sussex. Her body was found two weeks after her death. In her suicide note, she said that she continued to hear the voices and could not recover. She thanked Leonard for all the good things he had been doing to her in the course of their family life.
Virginia Woolf’s novels were translated into 50 languages. She is considered to be among the best novelists of the 20th century and a progressive modernist writer. Her works are prominent for Virginia’s experimental approach in using a stream of consciousness and paying much attention to the emotional side of the protagonists. Despite the fact that she grew to be less popular after World War II, her works became to be of great interest after the feminist movements in the 1970s.
In her famous novel Mrs. Dalloway (1925), Virginia shows a try of a middle-class woman to organize an evening meeting as her life is paralleled with the life of Septimus Warren, a veteran who has returned from World War I. In the novel To the Lighthouse (1927), Virginia tells a two-day story of a family which is going to visit the lighthouses and faces various domestic disputes along the way. The main theme of the novel is the struggle in the creative process as the protagonist continues painting during a family drama. In the novel Orlando: A Biography, Virginia portrays a young aristocrat who lives for three centuries and does not age. In this novel, a historical biography grows into absurdity. Among Virginia Woolf’s famous novels there are also Between the Acts and The Waves.
Despite the fact that her husband was a Jew, Virginia often incorporated stereotypical archetypes in portraying Jewish characters. In her diary, she mentioned that she liked neither the sound of a Jewish voice nor a Jewish laugh. She also tended to criticize Christianity because of its confident selfishness. As follows from her private letters, Woolf considered herself to be an atheist. In her book Three Guineas, she criticized fascism and the patriarchal societies’ tendency to violence.
Virginia Woolf has contributed much to 20th-century literature; her works have made a great impact on modern culture, in particular, literature. Michael Cunningham’s novel The Hours tells a story of three generations of women influenced by Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway. In 2002, The Hours was made into a movie. In her novel Vanessa and Virginia (2008), Susan Sellers discovers relations between Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa. In 1962, Edward Albee’s play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was published. Virginia Woolf is still being popular and studied by such organizations as the Virginia Woolf Society and The Virginia Woolf Society of Japan.
Best Poets of the 20th Century: Zbyněk Hejda and Josef Hiršal Report
The 20th century saw a wide range of incredibly talented and innovative people, including amazing poets. However, when considering the people that managed to make a difference in the realm of poetry at the time, one must mention Zbyněk Hejda and Josef Hiršal. Known for introducing innovative concepts into poetry, as well as their political activism and the focus on societal concerns, both poets warranted the title of the best poets of the 20th century.
Zbyněk Hejda’s path toward world recognition was rather difficult. On the one hand, his devotion to art, literature, and history made him reach stellar results in his academic life, as well as become a rather prolific author. His first self-published book of poems made him instantly recognizable among Czech poets of the time due to the sharp and expressive manner of writing (Hilder 188). However, his attempt at rebelling against the regime nearly made him a social pariah. While having joined the ranks of the Communist Party in 1947, he continuously criticized the policy thereof and frequently produced rather caustic poems aimed at building political and social justice within the Czech society of the time. However, with the advent of change in the political landscape of the state, Hejda was finally given credit for his unique style and inspirational ideas. Although Hejda was also widely known for his translations of poems by Emily Dickinson, Georg Trakl, and Gottfried Benn, it is his poems that made him famous (Hilder 188). Hejda’s poems are sharp and minimalistic, which makes the reader appreciate the intelligent and accurate choice of words in them even more. Thus, the expressivity, emotional charge, and eloquence of Hejda’s poems made him one of the best poets of the 20th century.
Another poet that made a difference in the realm of Czech poetry, Josef Hiršal must be recognized for his contribution to the development of experimental poetry. Placing a very heavy emphasis on the technique in which poems are written, the experimental genre implies an unceasing search for new tools and methods of expression (Greene and Cushman 140). Hiršal, in turn, reinvented the genre by claiming that the function of speech and its units needed to be reconsidered (Greene and Cushman 140). The poet’s assumption regarding the necessity to breathe new life into words, which must have worn out their meaning to the point where a poet must challenge it led to the creation of bizarre yet marvelous and truly inspiring pieces. Hiršal died on September 15, 2003, yet his legacy still lives and takes a very special place in the poetry of the 20th century (Greene and Cushman 140).
Zbyněk Hejda and Josef Hiršal both contributed massively to the evolution of poetry by incorporating innovative ideas into it but also affected the political and social landscape of Czechoslovakia and, later on, the Czech Republic. Although, technically, the approach to poetry that each of them used was unique and strikingly different from the other, their vision of poetry as the means of expressing one’s artistic intent but also as the means of encouraging a discussion and serving as inspiration made their poems similar. Zbyněk Hejda and Josef Hiršal remain two of the most renowned poets of the 20th century, and their voice is still heard in every line of their work.
Greene, Ronald, and Stephen Cushman. The Princeton Handbook of World Poetries. Princeton University Press, 2016.
Hilder, Jamie. Designed Words for a Designed World: The International Concrete Poetry Movement, 1955-1971. McGill-Queen’s Press – MQUP, 2016.
William Cullen Bryant, an American Romantic Poet Essay (Critical Writing)
William Cullen Bryant is a famous American author of the Romanticism era who focused on nature. His poem titled “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood” describes the whimsical power of nature and its connection to humanity. Bryant appeals to the reader’s senses in this work, creating a strong and explicit message. Bryant believes that nature will outlive the man-made environment.
The literary works of Romanticism are characterized by excessive attention to nature. The movement’s assumption is that “there is a division of negative and positive in the works of that time” (Oroskhan and Zohdi 30). In “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood,” the author relies on such words as guilt, misery, crime, and sorrow to explain the negative side of the surrounding man-made world.
Reading these words in the context of the era during which the author wrote made me imagine the world of Romanticism as an ungodly place. As I concentrated on imagining an average city existing back then, the first thing that came to mind was narrow streets, litter, and rags, which is very powerful, if unsettling, picture. Afterward, Bryant makes a soft transition to happy and more positive tones – “the rivulet sends forth glad sounds” (Bryant).
He uses woods as a place of healing and sustaining for humans. Bryant uses words reminiscent of birds chirping in order to paint an almost Disney-like picture in the reader’s mind. The forest appeared to me as a place of physical and spiritual healing. Humanity came out of the woods and lost touch with its roots, which is the underlying reason for unhappiness. This poem, like most works from Romanticism, is concentrating on human nature, inner conflict, and emotions.
In “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood,” the author influences visual perception by writing, “enter this wild wood And view the haunts of nature” (Bryant). To me, it was like a fairy-tale, as in it creatures, plants, and birds live together like a big family rather than engage in a vicious struggle for survival. Bryant’s imagery also appeals to sounds – “and musical with birds that sing and sport,” “the rivulet sends forth glad sounds, and tripping over its bed.”
Furthermore, he describes touch: “the cool wind that stirs the stream in play shall come to thee” (Bryant). Reading these lines allowed me to briefly travel into the whimsical and magical world of nature, detached from somber realities. I discovered that the best way to experience the sounds, the imagery, and the sense of touch is by closing one’s eyes and placing one’s hand at a trunk of a tree, a rough stone, or a similar surface, which was not polished or formed by human effort.
The aspects of positive romanticism inspire the admiration of nature. The authors of the Romantic Movement, including Bryant, “were constantly searching for the meaning and spiritual refreshment” (Sultana and Islam 64). Overall, it encourages readers to remember where they come from and consider that nature has the most power and strength in this world.
Bryant, William Cullen. “Inscription for the Entrance to a Wood.” Academy of American Poets. Web.
Oroskhan, Mohammad Hussein, and Esmaeil Zohdi. “Negative Romanticism: An Exploration of a Sense of Isolation in Yushij’s Afsaneh.” International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, vol. 70, 2017, pp. 30-36.
Sultana, Sabera, and Mohiul Islam. “Investigating American Romanticism: A Comparative Study.” IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science, vol. 21, no. 4, 2016, pp. 58-65.
Henrik Ibsen’s Biography and Literary Activity Research Paper
Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) was a famous Norwegian playwright whose works still raise much controversy and draw the public’s attention. In 1862, at the age of 34, Ibsen was forced to move to Italy. Several years later, the writer moved to Germany, where he created one of his most distinguished plays, A Doll’s House (1868) (“Henrik Ibsen Biography”). Ibsen’s other notable works include Brand (1862), Peer Gynt (1867), and Hedda Gabler (1890) (“Henrik Ibsen Biography”). The author had a large body of work: he created 26 plays during his life (Lombardi) and about 300 poems (“Henrik Ibsen Biography”).
The themes raised in Ibsen’s plays were so important that they continue to be popular even nowadays. The author mostly focused his works on family relationships. In his most famous play, A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler, Ibsen concentrated on the roles of women in the family and society. Many critics dedicated research to analyzing whether Ibsen’s female characters were feminists. In her study on A Doll’s House, Moi remarks that Nora, the main character, suffered from being misunderstood both as a woman and as a human being (256-257).
In the analysis of Hedda Gabler, Farfan mentions that Hedda, the main heroine, was a powerful woman who strived to express her femininity (61-62). Thus, it is relevant to notice that relationships between genders and within the society constituted some of the most crucial themes in Ibsen’s plays.
The features given by Ibsen to his female characters made scholars consider him “the first male feminist” (Blake). Whereas in real life, women appealed for autonomy and the extension of their rights, no author before Ibsen reflected those demands on the stage (Blake). In the works of other playwrights, the main characters were predominantly men. Ibsen revolutionized the theater in that respect by putting women in the first place and allowing their characters to tell the story of all the female population.
Henrik Ibsen was associated with a literary trend called the Modernist theater movement. He was considered the founder of the movement (Lombardi). The focus on people’s relationships that persisted in his plays allowed Ibsen to “break new ground” and made him an innovative artist in the literature (Lombardi). Also, the playwright received the nickname “the father of realism” due to concentrating on domestic interactions in his works (Lombardi). The purpose of realism was to enable the reflection of real-life at the theater and create natural dialogue.
Having spent many years in exile and having written most of his famous works in several different countries, Ibsen returned to Norway in 1891 as a “literary hero” (“Henrik Ibsen Biography”). The writer ran Christiania theater, where large numbers of fans could communicate with him and express their admiration. Ibsen was happily married and had two children, one of them with his wife, and another one from an early relationship (“Henrik Ibsen Biography”). Whereas the author provided both sons with financial support, he never met the elder one.
Henrik Ibsen’s literary life allows referring to him as one of the most famous and controversial authors of all times. The themes he raised in his plays made the audience reconsider their attitudes towards male-female relationships as well as the position of women in society. Even today, Ibsen’s works fascinate the audiences and challenge viewers to analyze the themes raised in them.
Blake, Elissa. “Was Playwright Henrik Ibsen the First Male Feminist?” The Sydney Morning Herald. 2014. Web.
Farfan, Penny. “From “Hedda Gabler” to “Votes for Women”: Elizabeth Robins’s Early Feminist Critique of Ibsen.” Theatre Journal, vol. 48, no. 1, 1996, pp. 59-78.
“Henrik Ibsen Biography.” Biography. 2015. Web.
Lombardi, Esther. “Henrik Ibsen’s List of Works.” ThoughtCo.. 2017. Web.
Moi, Toril. “First and Foremost a Human Being”: Idealism, Theatre, and Gender in A Doll’s House.” Modern Drama, vol. 49, no. 3, 2006, pp. 256-284.
William Bradford as a Colonial American Writer Essay
Colonial American literature was largely influenced by British authors and was represented by narratives, journals, and letters. One of the most prominent writers of that period was William Bradford (1590-1657), whose most famous work, Of Plymouth Plantation, was regarded as an exceptional achievement both in literature and politics. Bradford’s works were focused on such themes as Puritanism, righteousness, patriotism, equality, democracy, and political relationships. The works written by Bradford had a profound effect on the literature of the period since they encouraged other authors to discuss similar themes and inspired them to raise patriotic feelings in the audience.
Probably the most significant theme that Bradford wrote about was that of righteousness reflected in Puritanism. Of Plymouth Plantation contained many descriptions of right and wrong ways of conduct. The book’s attempt to explain the difference between the two and the encouragement to alter one’s bad habits were some of the reasons why the book was highly esteemed (Sargent 389). Literary critics note that although the writer was not a Puritan, he managed to make a distinct influence on the colonial literature in this respect (Moran 44). The theme of righteousness, which occupied a prominent place in Bradford’s works, was reflected in the description of Puritans’ daily routine and favorite pastimes.
The author condemned such kinds of entertainment as playing cards or dancing and considers them immoral. Thus, scholars note that the topic of peaceful and rightful life was the most vividly represented in Bradford’s works. This theme was intertwined with the ideas of plain living and the adherence to God’s rules discussed by the writer (Gray 32-33). Bradford’s theological inclinations were even believed to make the book difficult to understand at times (Read 291). Still, the theme of religion was important to Bradford, and he paid much attention to it in Of Plymouth Plantation.
The unique writing style that Bradford owned allowed him to remain the most recognizable author of the colonial period. Because the most esteemed book containing a detailed description of life on the plantation, the theme of political relationships became another significant aspect of Bradford’s works. At first, the writer was amused by the establishment of the plantation and the considerable achievements it was making.
Thus, the prevailing motives in his Of Plymouth Plantation were those of the successful building of political connections and the beginnings of democracy. However, the positive impression was soon changed by disappointment, which became another topic of Bradford’s writing (Sargent 394). Along with this alteration, another important theme emerged: betrayal. Bradford realized that the American ideal, towards which his efforts had been directed, was not as easy to achieve as it had been expected and was not composed of solely positive features. As a result, the theme of disappointment in the political system replaced the previously predominant depiction of patriotism and democracy.
Another highly important theme disclosed by Bradford was that of slavery. The writer described his protest against that negative social movement in his An Exhortation and Caution to Friends Concerning Buying or Keeping of Negroes. It is impossible to underestimate the significance of this theme both in Bradford’s era and several centuries following it. The problem of inequality is still one of the major social debates in any society. Some people feel the lack of opportunities in education while others cannot pursue their dreams connected with the career because their prospective employers underestimate their abilities based on race or gender.
The variety of biases existing in modern society is so large that it may seem that Bradford’s endeavors were in vain. However, they were not, since those were the first attempts to reject the wrongdoing of the political leaders aimed at a specific population group (Gerbner 553). The condemnation of slavery by Bradford and his colleagues was one of the crucial steps against the inhumane treatment of people based on their skin color.
This theme is no less important than the issue of righteousness. All people should realize that their lives are not more important than the lives of other individuals merely because they have a different color of skin, more money, or some privileges. It is crucial to explain this to all society members who do not support equality, and Bradford was one of the first activists to do so.
William Bradford was much more than just a writer of the colonial period in American literature. In some aspects, he was not just a participant but a pioneer, which made his contribution to literature and democracy so important. Bradford was one of the first figures to condemn slavery and initiate a democratic society. Also, he was the defender of patriotic and righteous life within one’s community and country.
The effect that Bradford’s works had on his contemporaries was remarkable, which made him the most recognizable author of the colonial period. The themes raised by Bradford — patriotism, democracy, equality, and righteousness, among others — inspired both his contemporaries and writers from the following periods to disclose similar topics and encourage the readers to think differently about crucial aspects of life.
Gerbner, Katharine. “Antislavery in Print: The Germantown Protest, the “Exhortation,” and the Seventeenth-Century Quaker Debate on Slavery.” Early American Studies, vol. 9, no. 3, 2011, pp. 552-575.
Gray, Richard. A History of American Literature. Blackwell Publishing, 2004.
Moran, Eugene V. A People’s History of English and American Literature. Nova Science Publishers, 2002.
Read, David. “Silent Partners: Historical Representation in William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation.” Early American Literature, vol. 33, no. 3, 1998, pp. 291-314.
Sargent, Mark L. “William Bradford’s “Dialogue” with History.” The New England Quarterly, vol. 65, no. 3, 1992, pp. 389-421.
Microscopic Truthfulness in Writing Essay (Critical Writing)
Experts define Microscopic Truth as speaking the truth from the internal feelings or experience as currently perceived. The truth can also be expressed through the writings of one’s thoughts and knowledge from the inside heart (Euland, 1997).
The freedom of expression that most countries have embraced has contributed to the increased information dissemination around the globe. It has done this by allowing people to speak their minds and share information. The questions that come out are whether what a friend, an associate, or a leader speaks is true or false. Passing on information through the writing of books is an excellent mode of communication, though it requires microscopic thinking. Persuasive writing thrives in a contributive environment that is free from destruction. This increases the concentration level for the eloquent flow of ideas and offers an opportunity for rational thoughts.
Writers ought to welcome new encounters at all moments to widen their thinking capacity and pass on useful information. Such like initiatives add value to their inside mind. Thus, they can act proficiently. Carrying one transparently is a significant component of Microscopic Truthfulness that helps someone to reveal every aspect of something he knows. By so doing, critical issues can be addressed of which otherwise could cause menace.
Similarly, the idea of honesty and clearness is embraced. This ensures that truth always prevails no matter what. In this regard, it goes without sayings that the two concepts go hand in hand. Different groups of people expect this at all times. For instance, for businesses to transact, the Microscopic Truthfulness ensures that this is possible.
Euland, B. (1997). If You Want to Write: a book about Art, Independence and Spirit. Amazon: New York Times.
Cognitivist Analysis of Writer’s Block by M. Rose Essay
The article “Rigid Rules, Inflexible Plans, and the Stifling of Language: A Cognitivist Analysis of Writer’s Block” explores the causes and treatment of writer’s block. Writer’s block is one of the challenges that students experience. It can be defined as a frustrating and self-defeating inability to come up with the correct phrase, word, or sentence to initiate the flow of words again when a dead-end is reached during writing. Its causes are unclear.
However, it has been attributed to emotional causes such as anxiety, insecurity, and the fear of evaluation. Students experience writer’s block as they prepare their projects, do assignments, and write exams. The resultant grades and papers fail to reflect their true potential. Writer’s block is a problem-solving process that can be overcome by applying flexible rules and plans.
A study of 10 students conducted to evaluate the relationship between their writing processes and writer’s block revealed that the students who experienced writer’s block (blockers) were applying rigid rules and inflexible plans. The rigid rules and inflexible plans impeded the composting process. The five students who did not experience writer’s block (non-blockers) utilized flexible writing rules and plans that enhanced the composting process.
In that regard, their plans were more functional and easily manipulated using information from the outside. The interviews conducted revealed that composing is a complex process that involves the solving of problems. Moreover, cognitive psychology’s problem-solving framework can be sued to explain why people experience disruptions during the composting process. Successful problem-solving begins with the proper presentation of a problem in a manner that enhances the process. In many cases, information gaps in the manner in which the problem is presented determine the problem-solving behavior.
The next step is processing, which involves a deeper understanding and an assessment of potential solutions to the problem. The process ends with a solution period that involves the generation of an answer to the problem. Individuals apply rules and plans in the composing process, and the occurrence of writer’s block depends on how they apply the rules and plans.
In many instances, students experience writer’s block because of their strict adherence to rules of writing taught in class or read from textbooks. For example, students are taught that a good essay must grab the attention of readers. This rule leads to writer’s block because students try hard to generate phrases or sentences to capture the reader’s attention. On the contrary, the students who do not experience writer’s block write with the aid of rules but only when the rules enhance their work and writing process. In writing, there are two types of rules, namely, algorithms and heuristics.
Blockers follow writing rules as though they are algorithms, while non-blockers treat the same rules as the loose heuristics that they are meant to be. The treatment of rules as algorithms leads to an inflexible approach toward writing, which is the major source of writer’s block. Strict adherence to rules transforms writing into a mechanical and boring problem-solving process.
It is important for students to explore writing assignments from a variety of angles. For instance, they should experiment with functional and flexible plans and rules as well as open systems of thinking and planning. Students should explore different alternatives that allow them to change direction whenever they encounter writer’s block. Moreover, they should adopt open and adventurous thinking and seek feedback regarding their writing process. Teachers can treat writer’s block by evaluating the individual writing processes of students and training them to develop and apply flexible and functional alternatives.