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Showing posts from September, 2008

Freedom to Choose and Freedom from Choice: Margaret Atwood ' s " TheHandmaid ’s Tale "

While on the surface Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale paints the picture of a time and place not far from our own where the utopic ideals of one group of people appear to be a dystopic hell for another, beneath these circumstances it is, among other things, a story about freedom and choice; the freedom to make your own choices, and the freedom from making your own choices. When freedom is at stake some choose escape, some choose to fight, and others adapt. In the end however, how can we know if we’ve made the best choices? Some characters in Atwood’s story saw their freedoms being limited and chose to escape. They tried to escape their captors through means either physical, mental, or both. The handmaid Janine tried escaping mentally, escaping to insanity. Others, including Offred’s predecessor, escaped through suicide. Some escaped by leaving the country through covert means, as Offred and her family tried to do in the beginning of the story, and as she may have managed in the en

Religious Parallels in Ayn Rand ’s " Anthem "

Ayn Rand’s Anthem utilized religious symbolism to emphasize the work’s humanistic message. As in the Bible’s account of creation, man is expelled from paradise for his transgressions and the sin leads to self awareness. In both stories light represents understanding and truth, and the “Word” is a god given to mankind. Rand also makes use of a narrative style reminiscent of Biblical narrative. The very name “Anthem” has religious implications. But in spite of all these parallels, Anthem is not a religious story, but a glorification of man’s humanistic potential. Equality 7-2521 and the Golden One show similarities to the Bible’s story of Adam and Eve. Where in the Biblical account transgression lead to mankind’s self awareness, Equality 7-2521’s transgressions lead him down a path which ultimately provided awareness of individuality and ego. Where Biblical man is expelled from a Utopian garden for his sin, Equality 7-7521 flees and is left to wander The Uncharted Forest. As Adam was giv

Confinement in Charlotte Bronte ' s " Jane Eyre "

Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre addresses the prevalent gothic theme of prisons and confinement, but on a level deeper than some of its literary predecessors. Bronte’s prisons are more than romantic castles of bygone days, but include prisons imposed on us by others, prisons we create for ourselves, and prisons which exist within our minds. These prisons may consist of society and social rank, law and religion, as well as thoughts and reputation. But not all such confinements keep us locked in; some confinements exist when we are locked out. Also not every form of confinement will bring us harm; some types of confinement are a type of protection and can keep us from harm. One of the earliest ideas of confinement Jane faces in the novel is that of social class and standing. As a child, although living in a wealthy home Jane is not accepted by her aunt and cousins. She is forced to exist somewhere between the role of family member and servant, but without fitting into either position.

Ambiguity in Emily Bronte ' s " Wuthering Heights "

Although little is known about the inner life of Emily Bronte, who died two years after the publication of her novel Wuthering Heights, it seems evident the work was born more of her mind than her experiences. There doesn’t seem to have been any real-life Heathcliff in Emily Bronte’s Irish forebears or Yorkshire neighbors. The work Bronte left behind is sparse, the one novel and several impressive but baffling poems. But the drab life of this genteel English spinster who wrote Wuthering Heights doesn’t lessen the work; to the contrary, it makes the work even more remarkable. To realize the fiery, beautiful Catherine and the brooding, handsome Heathcliff were born entirely of the imagination means their traits were a thing of design; their characteristics were built with a purpose in mind, and each of their idiosyncrasies were a thing of choice. The only thing left to do then is decide what those choices meant and how they supported Bronte’s purposes. Wuthering Heights did not sell well