A Streetcar Named Desire, a look into Stella

“A Streetcar Named Desire” is a play about a a husband and wife, Stanley and Stella, who get visited by the wife’s sister, Blanche. Stella and Blanche come from a weathly backround, whereas Stanley is of poor and polish descent, which underlines the basic conflict and theme of the play which is the battle of social classes. Stanley and Blanche seem to occupy opposing roles; Stanley is the masculine, hard working blue collar worker who at times can be overly chauvinistic. Blanche, on the other hand, is a flirty materialistic woman who always seems to not be able to be truthful and directful about things, preferring instead to tell “white lies”, which perhaps causes her more trouble than the are worth. And then there is Stella, the faithful wife of Stan, who is perhaps the link between the two extremes. Stella grew up with Blanche, and is familiar with the posh life style that the two used to live together in before Stella “ran” away. However, she also is the wife of Stanley, the hard working Polish man, so she is also exposed to his lifestyle as well.

Stella seems to be the piece of the puzzle that links Blanche and Stanley together, if not only physically and legally. She seems to be the mediator of the two extremes, often times trying to quell or calm each one do to the other’s actions. For example, when Stanley finds out that Blanche has sold the sister’s family’s house, “Belle Reve”, Stanley immediately goes into a rage, accusing Blanche of selling the house in order to buy herself lavish items, here is a passage from this exchange;

Stanley: “Look at these feathers and furs that she come here to preen herself in? What’s this here? A solid-gold dress, I believe!”…

Stella: “Those are inexpensive summer furs that Blanche has had a lone time.”

Stanley: “I got an acquaintance who deals in this sort of merchandise… I’m willing to bet you there’s thousands of dollars invested in this stuff here!”

Stella: “Don’t be such an idiot, Stanley!” (Page 34, A streetcar named desire).

As we see from this passage, Stella continues to rebuff Stanley “ridiculous” claims, always having faith in her sister and choosing to be the more rational and less rash individual in the relationship. However, this behavior is not exclusive to her husband, but she also treats Blanche with the same attitude when Blanche gets angry with Stella after Stanley beats her after a drunk poker night;

Blanche: “In my opinion? You’re married to a madman!”

Stella: “No!”

Blanche: “Yes you are, your fix is worse than mine is! Only you’re not being sensible about it… And that isn’t right, you’re not old! you can get out.”

Stella: “I’m not in anything I want to get out of.”

Stella continues to play the mediator between Blanche and Stanley, a role she is determined to play as long as there is dispute between her sister and her husband. Stella, although she is perhaps not considered the protagonist or the antagonist, plays a class of character that is the opposing force to the clashing of these two characters. Without Stanley and Blanche together, Stella’s character becomes obsolete and meaningless. This is perhaps a metaphor for Stella’s life, in that she must strive to keep her family and matrital ties, or be doomed to be consumed by the one that is not given up on by Stella. The role of the mediator is the essence of the character Stella in the play A Streetcar Named Desire.

Word count: 590

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Analysis of Passage from Frankenstein

In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, we see the use of many literary devices as well as themes that reoccur throughout the novel. We see an excellent example in the form of a passage on pages 104-105. In this passage, Frankenstein’s creation (the monster) is in the middle of explaining to Frankenstein his travels and activities since his departion from his creator; “But Paradise Lost” excited different and far deeper emotions. I read it, as I had read the other volumes which had fallen into my hands, as a true history. It moved every feeling of wonder and awe, that the picture of an omnipotent God warring with his creatures was capable of exciting. I often referred the several situations, as their similarity struck me, to my own. Like adam, I was created apparently united by no link to any other being in existence; but this state was far different from mine in every other respect. He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy and prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he was allowed to converse wtih, and acquire knowledge from beings of a superior nature: but I was wretched, helpless, and alone. Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition; for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me”.

This passage is very insightful to the novel as a whole, and in it lies many themes, all densely packed into the analogy the monster gives, comparing his situation to Adam and Satan, two biblical figures. One theme that reoccurs throughout the novel is the theme of communication. Watson writes to his sister, longing for a worthy male candidate to converse with, Frankenstein talks in coded diction so as to relieve himself from the blame of creating the monster, and in this passage we see that the creature also longing for a companion to speak with. In this way he compares God to Victor Frankenstein and Adam to himself, but makes the clear distinction in that God, at least initially, converses with adam and protects him, something that Victor never did with his creation. But then again, we can also draw a parallel between God and Adam with Victor and the Monster in terms of the other way around. Just as God has power over Adam, the creature has power over Victor, as evidence of the monster forcing Victor to listen to him while he recounts his experiences. In fact, this analogy seems to be fitting as Victor seems to be less than likely candidate for the position of God; he is a curious scientist, not an overpowered king, and is much of the time indecisive in his actions. The creature, on the other hand, possesses much strength and capability, and in some respects exhibits features that make him more likely to fit the “God” persona than Frankenstein.

The other analogy that the creature uses is the comparison of Satan to the creature. In this way we may reason that the creature, bitter from neglect, has become the enemy of God, or in the novel Victor. Just as Satan causes havoc, so does the creature, killing Frankenstein’s brother, and later Elizabeth. It is interesting that in this way, the creature associates himself with something that is generally thought of as evil incarnate. Indeed, the creature also speaks about an experience he had viewing his reflection, and realizing how ugly he is. It is interesting consider that even though the creature was born as a blank slate, that he should eventually come to the conclusion that he is an unattractive outcast through experiences with other humans, which shout and attack him when he attempts to communicate with them. Only the blind old man, De Lacey, is not afraid to speak to him. In this way he is like Satan, as the creature points out, that he burns with envy from the lives of normal people around him.

Finally, as a whole we can compare Shelley’s work “Frankenstein” and Milton’s “Paradise Lost” as a whole. Both deal with the concept of creation, and by comparison of Adam to the creature and so on we can see Shelley’s interpretation of how a created being would fare as well as the ethical ramification of the creation of life unnaturally.

Word count: 726

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Analysis of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”, part 1

In Mary Shelley’s classic novel, Frankenstein, we see themes such as masculine versus feminine traits, as well as ironies involving the “miscommunication” of writing and speech. We also see recurring themes about individual characters themselves. This is especially apparent in Victor Frankenstein, the man responsible for the creation of the “creature” in the story, and his insecurity in matters that are not predictable, which we will further discuss and analyze in this piece on Frankenstein.

Victor, as the scientist, is a very ambitious and factual person. He strives to know more about the world, how life and death work. However, Victor the man is feeble and shy, an interesting irony that results in his uncertainty of how to handle certain situations. This first becomes apparent in Victor’s telling of his first journey away from home, for schooling in Ingolstadt; “I was now alone. In the university, whiter I was going, I must form my own friends, and be my own protector. My life had hitherto been remarkably secluded and domestic; and this had given me invincible repugnance to new countenances… I believed myself totally unfitted for the company of strangers”(Page 28). From early on we see one of Victor’s insecurities, a fear of the unknown, drive him to approach situations differently than less sheltered individuals. Though he is a man of strong mental capabilities, we see that he is not apt in all areas of the brain, and irony that will plague him throughout the whole story.

We again see Victors fear play a role in the creation of his monster; ” I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream had vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room, and continued a long time transversing my bedroom.. I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to seek a few moments of forgetfulness” (Page 39). Frankenstein, after finishing his project, that he was so obsessive and ambitous about, is now in a state of panic and dispair after his project did not turn out the way which he intended it to. Although many would stop and consider the consequences before pursuing the experiment, Frankensteins contemplation comes only after the results from his experiment did not go as planned. Perhaps it was Frankenstein’s lust for knowledge that urged him to go through with the project. After all, if he hadn’t, the result of the experiment would have been unknown…

Finally, we see Victor’s uncertainty come out once more on his journey home. Victor receives a letter from his father, in it he tells Victor of his brother’s mysterious death. Even Victor’s journey home would be one plagued with indecision; ” My journey was very melancholy. At first I wished to hurry on, for I longed to console and sympathize with my loved and sorrowing friends; but when I drew near my native town, I slackened my progress. I could hardly sustain the multitude of feelings that crowded into my mind… Fear overcame me; I dare not advance, dreading a thousand nameless evils that made me tremble, although I was unable to define them” (Page 54). Victor once again is struck by his fear, this time from his emotions. He does not know how he should act or how he should feel upon his return to his home. Perhaps he is also afraid of what lies before him. How did his brother die? By the hands of the creature that Victor created? Many questions such as these must have filled Victors mind, consuming him, paralyzing him to slow his return home.

Victor’s insecurities have thus far in the novel subjected him to make very unusual choices when it comes to problems he encounters throughout this beginning portion of the novel. Only time will tell if this problem will eventually overtake him, or if he will overtake his fears.

Word count: 664

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Persimmons, a poem by Li-young Lee

The poem “Persimmons” by Li-Young Lee is a free verse poem that presumably takes place during various periods of time during the author’s (Lee) childhood up until early adulthood. The poem contains many themes and is set up strategically to present these themes in a particular manner that intrigues the reader, allowing them to enjoy the roller coaster that is his words from climax to climax, closing the poem at the end by bringing back the reader to his first subject of the poem, the Persimmon.

Lee is careful in the arrangement of words and ideas in his free verse style poem. For example, in the first stanza, after being scolded by his teacher for not knowing the difference between the words persimmon and precision, Lee ends the stanza with “How to choose”. This sentence does not finish its idea until the next stanza, thus drawing the reader in closer and leaving the idea suspended as to how he is going to approach this problem of his identifying the differences between the two words. He also singles out lines that he thinks are important into individual stanzas, such as “My mother said every persimmon has a sun inside, something golden, glowing, warm as my face”. This line contains many important themes to the content of the poem itself (to be discussed later on in the post) and it is easy to see why Lee choose to single this line out. Lee also makes it a point to shift to and from different time periods (not necessarily in chronological order!) throughout the piece, only letting the reader know when a new period has potentially started by a break in stanza. Lee’s style of presenting the poem is filled with power, each line placed to be presented to maximal effect, overall creating an emotionally loaded piece.

The meaning of Lee’s poem is a puzzle that requires some thought to process the many layers that are contained in his poem. A common theme throughout his poem is an obvious one; the Persimmon. Initially, the poem starts by Lee recalling a story where his teacher, Mrs. Walker, scolds Lee for not knowing the difference between the word precision and persimmon. In the following stanza, Lee uses precise diction to describe how to properly eat a persimmon, demonstrating his ability to use both words correctly. An interesting point made by Lee is his first instruction of how to eat a persimmon; “put the knife away, lay down newspaper”. In the fifth stanza, we see a the theme of his 6th grade teacher and persimmon occur again; “Mrs. Walker brought a persimmon to class and cut it up so everyone could taste a Chinese apple. Knowing it wasn’t ripe or sweet, I didn’t eat but watched the other faces”. This line suggests a complete reversal of what we witnessed in the first stanza, which we saw the author as the ignorant one. Now in this fifth stanza, we see that Lee’s teacher, Mrs. Walker, is in fact the ignorant one. Not only does she choose an unripe persimmon, refers to it as a Chinese apple, but she does not even know how to properly eat a persimmon (Which is to put the knife away before eating…), at least according to the author. Throughout the poem Lee also refers to round objects, such as in the aforementioned line; “My mother said every persimmon has a sun (a pun on son!) inside, something golden, glowing, warm as my face”. The theme of round objects continues as later int he poem he mentions his father, in his growing age, has lost use of his eyes (another set of round objects). Lee masterfully brings the poem to a close, via an episode he has with his later father, who we can deduce from the poem was a painter in his earlier days. His father, now completely blind, asks Lee what painting Lee has handed him, to which Lee replies “This is persimmons, father” (this line is singled out by itself, emphasizing its importance). To which his father replies “Oh, the feel of the wolftail on the silk, the strength, the tense precision int he wrist. I painted them hundreds of times eyes closed. These I painted blind. Some things never leave a person: scent of the hair of one you love, the texture of persimmons, in your palm, the ripe weight.”. The poem ends with Lee’s blind father bringing the theme back of the persimmon, an object so innate to Lee and himself, that he shall never forget it.

Word count: 751

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Analysis of the poem “The emperor of Ice-cream”

In the poem “The Emperor of Ice-cream”, we see the emergence of the thematic contrast between life and death. The poem is broken up into two stanzas that can be labeled as the “life” and “death” stanzas of the poem. The form and content of the poem, both analyzed below, support this idea, and both compliment each other to form a poem divided not just physically by its break in stanzas, but also by the content of each stanza and its respective meaning.

First we can look at the form of the poem, which is broken down into two stanzas of equal length (each containing eight lines). It should be noted that each corresponding line in each stanza comes very close to containing the same number of beats, but all save for the last line differ by just one beat (for example, the first line of the first stanza contains 8 beats; “Call the roller of  big cigars”, and the first line of the second stanza; “Take from the dresser of deal”, contains 7). However, as I just mentioned, the last line of each stanza contains the same amount of beats because it is the same line “The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream”. It should also be noted that both stanzas end in a rhyming couplet, with the first stanza’s seventh line “Let be be finale of seem” and the second stanza’s “let the lamp affix is beam” both ending in words that rhyme with ice-cream.

After studying the form of the poem, we can look into the content to answer the question of why it was arranged in such a way. The first part of the poem takes on a light and merry appearance, conveying a scene of dawdling wenches, boys with flowers, and a “muscular” cigar roller. One might think from the first stanza with all the merriment that the poem took place at a party or celebration (perhaps it is). However, the tone of the poem takes a dark turn when we cross the center divide into the second stanza. This time the picture that is painted is a cold dark room with cheap furniture that is missing essential parts (glass knobs). Also in the room is a woman laying down, with a sheet that does not quite cover her entire body, draped over her corpse. We can conclude from such lines “To show how cold she is, and dumb” that the woman is probably dead. Looking further into the stanza, we see evidence that this woman lived an impoverished live. With horny feet that protrude from the sheet that covers her body, this woman is not given the same treatment a woman of aristocracy would on their respective deathbed. We should also concentrate on the second to last line of each stanza, and also what the last line (the same on both poems) and their meanings. “Let be be finale of seem” can be interpreted as to let things be how they are and don’t look too much further. The boys and wenches in the first stanza are alive and well, they should enjoy their lives as much as they can now. In contrast, the woman in the second stanza is dead and shall remain this way. Likewise, the second to last line in the second stanza; “Let the lamp affix its beam”, seems to say that the spotlight has moved from the old woman to her relatives and friends in the room described in the first stanza. Finally, the concluding line of both stanzas; “The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream”, can be interpreted as the the overlying theme of life is that of like ice-cream, short and sweet at first, but as time progresses, the ice-cream melts and loses its attractive qualities, which can be used as metaphor to describe the circle of life.

Word count: 641

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The form and content from excerpts of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself

Walt Whitman’s piece, Song of Myself, is a free verse poem about the not so popular but ever intriguing topic that we refer to as death. Whitman, in original style, conveys his perspective on life from a wholistic point of view and death in a wise and calm manner. His form and content blend together cleanly, despite the rawness of the free verse style that he chose, as well as the topic he speaks about.

The content of the poem is one of various themes that almost seem to conflict with each other but somehow still manage to  relate and flow smoothly together. On one hand, Whitman approaches the subject from a scientific point of view; “My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air, Born here of parents born the same, and their parents the same” (Whitman). Whitman uses the term “atom” to break himself down to the simplest level, driving a sense of scientificity into his writings. However, earlier in the same paragraph, Whitman writes “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you”. This time, the word atom, although still maintaining its original meaning, conveys  religious or spiritual overtones. Usually, science and religion conflict, especially when talking about death, but Whitman’s piece brings them together nicely. By using both angles to approach his subject, Whitman contributes to one of his many messages in his poem that everything and everyone is connected, and that life as we know it on this planet is a continous circle that feeds off itself. Whitman’s poem also projects a rather calm or perhaps even wise view of death. He realizes that it is to come no matter any kind of preparation, and even gives either a humorous or spiritual message to those that may miss him after his death; “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, if you want me again look for me under your boot-soles” (Whitman). Throughout the poem Whitman makes his case for this thought that death must not be something to be afraid of, but to be understood and accepted, and maybe even respected.

The form of Whitman’s poem is a fitting one. First we should compare it to Dylan Thomas’s poem Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night. Dylan’s poem is that of a rigid and powerful quality, keeping tempo and sticking strictly to a Villanelle type poem set up. The nature of the poem also follows this external form, which may frighten the reader with lines that tell the reader (and the author’s father) to rage against the dying of the light (death). Whitman’s poem is of a radically different style, but nevertheless stays true to form and conveys the content of the poem perfectly. As opposed to the rigid stanza set up that Dylan uses, Whitman chooses a free verse style that exemplifies the meaning of the poem, that life flows in and out of everyone, and that we are all connected. There is no pattern of lines, no rhythmn, no rhyming, which adds to the poem’s calm view of death, instead of drilling in a beat like in the case of Dylan’s poem. The free verse style of Song of Myself is an appropriate one and perhaps the only style that would match up with the content of the poem.

In summation, the form and content of Walt Whitman’s piece, Song of Myself, flow together and support one another in Whitman’s overall message and view of life and death. The poem’s content would be altered had Whitman chose a more rigid style of poetry, and likewise the content would not match up with the external form had the meaning of his poem been of more of a daunting message. It would have been a much different piece had Whitman chose to change either the form or content of his work, and it would have undoubtedly been a weaker piece as a consequence.

Word count: 661

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