Sunday, 14 December 2014

Wide Sargasso Sea - 1 Reflection

Wide Sargasso Sea was a novel that I began reading with low expectations, because I was unsure if I would like it or not. After reading the novel, I discovered that there were parts of it that I liked, and parts that I did not particularly care for. I think the parts that I did not care for were the parts that I couldn’t completely comprehend fully. I thought that there was a lot going on throughout the entire book, and that tends to mess with my mind when I read books. I found myself mixing up the characters, and putting the names with the wrong personality. It’s not that I did not particularly hate the book, because I did enjoy it. I tend to enjoy fiction writing more so than nonfiction or narrative writing. I think Jean Rhys was a great writer, and her ideas for Wide Sargasso Sea were definitely good idea that had interesting metaphors and imagery connected to them.
In class, this novel was described as a “stream of consciousness”, and I couldn’t agree more. I think that the description of “stream of consciousness” can be defined as something where the reader must be fully aware of what is happening at all times. Otherwise, the novel becomes something that doesn’t want to be read. I think the decision to write the different parts through narration of Antoinette in parts one and three was interesting because it took place during different times of her life. I liked how part one began the entire novel with a background of what Antoinette went through, growing up as the daughter of former slave owners on an old plantation. Part two was odd, in a good way, only because the narration was by Antoinette’s husband who remained nameless throughout the entire novel. That confused me greatly. He went by the name of Rochester, but I also found my mind wondering what his actual name was, so it was slightly harder for me to get through the second part. Antoinette narrated the third part of Wide Sargasso Sea again, but from a perspective that most people would not think of to write from. She was being held captive in the attic, from which she narrates the last part. I thought this was an interesting way to write part of a novel. I would have never thought to have put a narrator in captivity and tell the story, too. It’s a little odd to me, but I think in this case, it worked pretty well too.
The novel, overall, had some interesting ideas for a story of this time period. The novel was written and published around the time of the women’s rights movement, so I think Jean Rhys’ decision to write a novel with such a powerful female character lead during this time was a fascinating idea.

I liked to think that there were a few scenes from this novel that could very well have doubled as a reality with the relationship with Britain. For example, the section when the house caught fire particularly stuck out in my mind. I thought that this fire could quite possibly double as a metaphor for wanting to burn the British system and government for the slavery that they started earlier. It makes sense, if you think about it because any former slaves or abolitionists would want payback and/or revenge on the ones who ruined their lives. There was another part within this scene where Mr. Mason had clipped their pet parrot’s wings. I saw this a sign of wanting to be in control, and taking freedom and power away from others. Though it was just a bird, it still gave a metaphor for being in power and taking over.  

12 Years A Slave - 1 Reflection

I particularly loved this movie, and I think if you have the chance to see it - you should. 12 Years A Slave was a phenomenal depiction of the horrors of slavery. It follows a free black man named Solomon Northup, who was forced and manipulated into slavery. I remember growing up and learning about the terrors of slavery, and I have to say that watching this movie was one of the greatest way to help teach people about what slavery was really like. After seeing previews for this movie on television during the Oscars, I decided that I needed to watch it, and see what all the talk was about. I was almost hesitant to watch this movie at first, because I didn’t know how uncomfortable I would feel by the end of it. I also didn’t know how much gore there would be depicted throughout, because generally I don’t do well with that kind of stuff. I never did get around to seeing it until yesterday when we watched as a class. What I thought was extremely interesting was that we are just about wrapping up reading a few slave narratives for one of the courses this semester. I thought it was interesting because I am able to now compare these slave narratives that I’ve read with 12 Years A Slave. The movie as a whole impressed me greatly, and some moments stood out to me more than others. The scenes when an overseer or a master would beat or whip a slave particularly gave me a sense of discomfort. Perhaps it was because the images were so graphic, and though there wasn’t much gore, you could still feel the pain that the slaves felt. The moment when Solomon was forced to beat Patsy was one of the scenes that caused me discomfort. Just to see the look of pain on her face was disheartening, and it was noticeable that Solomon did not want to be the one beating her, because he and Patsy are close friends. It interested me that Patsy was the one who wanted Solomon to whip her rather than Epps. This movie, as a whole, was spectacular. I absolutely loved every moment of it, and I’m glad that I was able to incorporate things that we discussed in class with this movie, too.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The History of Mary Prince - 1 Reflection

1. Reading the narrative from Mary Prince interested me a lot more than Equiano. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy Equiano, but I think it was because of gender that drew me into Prince more. Prince heavily focused on the pathos, or emotional, element in her narrative. I think reading about the abuse and violence very much struck me. It was interesting to read how in depth she made the violence, especially from a woman’s perspective. Although, because Prince is a female, I think writing about abuse and violence is such a strong concept. Many readers would think that violence would be an idea that is typically addressed by a man, but on the other hand, writing about such ideas from a woman’s perspective draws in the female audience with feelings of guilt and disheartenment. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Mary Prince’s narrative because it was directed more to my kind of audience – a female perspective. Reading about how she had a family, and knew who her parents were – something that many slaves did not know – was really fascinating. Also the fact that she wasn’t separated from her mother and siblings until she was a little older wasn’t known. I felt like I could almost feel the same pain and suffering that Prince went through just because the words she wrote were so strong and believable. Both Equiano and Prince wrote their narratives to make an argument that slavery was a horrible thing, but Prince wrote with an emotional tone while Equiano wrote with a more legal tone. Prince chose to have her audience be women, and since she is a woman, it was easier to write for women and make them persuade their husbands to abolish slavery. She tends to come right out and say this is how it is, and it is a horrible thing that must be abolished. I really loved how much mother/daughter relationship was written into this story, especially in the beginning. Prince seemed like she really loved her mother, and I can only imagine how hard it would be to be sold away from a parent. Obviously, I did not grow up in a time of slavery, but I don’t know how I would be if I was sold to work on a plantation, and owned as property. On page 262, Prince writes the line, “How can slaves be happy when they have the halter round their neck and the whip upon their back?” I found this quote to really stick out to me because it’s so truthful. There couldn’t have been any way that a slave was truly happy working on a plantation, and getting beaten every time they disobeyed their master. I think it stood out to me because it shows how Prince focused on attracting her audience to side with her through the use of emotions. She seemed smart enough to make her audience women who could be drawn into the emotional affect, and persuade their husbands to side with the abolitionists.

The Life of Oludah Equiano - 2 Reflections

1. In the introductory chapter, Equiano mentions his father, and also the culture within his country while he was growing up. Equiano’s father was a part of the Embrenché – which was a set of chief men who decided the punishments for people who committed crimes. He listed a few examples of what type of punishments would be given, such as adultery and kidnappings. Then he went on to write about the culture within the country. He talks about the African culture is heavily influenced on dancing, music, and poetry, but also writes about how the living style is very plain and simple. Agriculture was the main employment, and everyone did something to contribute to it. They believed in one Creator, and though there weren’t any places to worship, there were still priests around for worship. He goes on writing about how he shipped from Africa with his sister, but it was not long until he was separated from her. Equiano writes about the kind of masters he was sold to, and I couldn’t believe what kinds of punishments slave owners acted upon their slaves. In his narrative, Equiano tends to steer towards a more logical stance for his audience is more the abolitionists acquired in the legal fields. I think Equiano’s writing had more of an informational style to it; it seemed to have logic mixed with a little emotion. I think it was amazing to read that Equiano did not stay within North America during his time as slave. He was shipped from Africa, but each time he was sold to a new slave owner, it could have been in somewhere in the south, or in a different country in Central America. It is also really interesting to read about the friendships that were created between the slaves and the slave owners’ children. Reading about Equiano’s friend, Dick, was an inspiring story. It was fascinating to see how much Equiano thought of Dick as a friend, and as a person of a different race. He thought of Dick to be his “best interpreter”, and he could be “free with him”. I think it’s inspiring that as children, slaves could befriend the children of their masters and be open and create a close friendship with one another. The thing that I feel like I get most out of reading these slave narratives is that the writings are so personal to the authors, and as a reader, I feel like I should be the one doing something about this horrible time. I’ve never read a slave narrative before, so I never really knew what to expect from it – other than the idea that it would be the slave’s story. However, I feel as though it is so much more than just a story. It’s an emotional, informational piece of writing that makes you feel guilty for what the slaves went through, and during the time of slavery, it made readers want to put an end to such a terrible event.

2. Society can be heavily influenced on religion. Separation of Church and state, in my mind, may still exist today. The laws created by the government aren’t the laws that the Church agrees with. When Equiano came to consensus that he couldn’t rely on the human laws, he made the decision to turn to God for help because he knew that God would always give him the answer. His religion plays out a lot throughout his narratives because of the time that he lived in. Equiano wants to convict society for being discriminatory and harsh. He sees God as the overseer over all people – that when a person does something bad, God will know because he knows all. As much as Equiano is an Evangelical Christian, he is conflicted between two different sides of Christianity. God is being used in different ways by different groups of people, but Equiano knows that his audience will consist of abolitionists that are Christian and will agree with him. Society is also heavily influenced on race. The idea of the system is a horrible creation, yet society is the one who created it in the beginning. Though the system was destroyed, it not only affected the slaves, but it destroyed all humanity including owners, too. This system affects all, and is most likely the reason for Equiano’s reliance on God and Christianity. I thought it was interesting for Equiano to reference religion and God so much within his narrative. His audience would have most likely been Christian and abolitionists, so to plant several religious aspects allows his audience to feel the emotion through a Christian viewpoint, and take a side with him. I always thought that slavery was a horrible time. For me, as someone who is a Christian, I can understand how Equiano trying to persuade his audience through religion could work. Humans created this system of slavery, and humans could only end it too. Seeing as the state was the ones that were creating this horrible time, the Church was the thing that could defend slavery as something immorally wrong. Equiano was a strong believer in Christianity, and that was what he turned to every time the state would defeat him and shoot him down. 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

"Harry Potter and the Emerald Isle".

Last weekend, Alisa and I took a weekend trip to Dublin. The Emerald Isle was gorgeous, and I can’t wait to go back over Christmas with my family.

We left from Liverpool because RyanAir plane tickets were cheap – and it was only a thirty-minute trip! When we arrived in Dublin, it was about 9:30PM, so we headed straight to our hostel. The hostel was interesting. Overall, it was pretty decent. However, the room was an interesting experience. We went for the 18-bed room because it was cheaper in the long run. Needless to say, I think if we ever book an 18-bed room again, we should be with a larger group of people that we know. It was awkward, and every time I wanted to say something, I felt like I had to whisper. Honestly, I’m glad that we tried it out because now we know what exactly to feel.

On Sunday (11/2), we had booked a day trip to the Wicklow Mountains. This was a lovely way to get to see the countryside of Dublin. The shuttle stopped at Powerscourt Gardens, which we decided to take a walk around. The Gardens were beautiful, and there was so much green around. During the trip, we stopped for lunch in Enniskerry at a restaurant called Poppies. After lunch, we continued the day tour into the Wicklow Mountains – which were beautiful – and then into a little town called Glendalough. When we arrived back in Dublin, Alisa and I found a nice little restaurant called Crackbird for dinner. It was pretty good, but the exciting part was that we found a cute little café that had a huge selection of various hot chocolates. We couldn’t not go in and get some hot chocolate.

 On Monday (11/3), we had booked tickets to tour the Guinness Storehouse. The Guinness Storehouse was really amazing. It was interesting to see how the beer is made, and we even attended the Guinness Academy – where we learned how to properly pour a Guinness. It was pretty neat stuff. I admit, when I tasted Guinness in the United States, I hated it. But when I had a pint in Ireland, I loved it! Touring the Guinness Storehouse took most of the afternoon, but it was worth it!

On Tuesday (11/4), before we left and headed back to London, we walked around the campus of Trinity College – the oldest universities around. It was super pretty to look at, and the architecture was beautifully created. We had lunch, and then headed off to catch a bus to the Dublin Airport, where we were on our way back to London.

It was a lovely little vacation.

One Friday (11/7), Emily, Alisa, Tess, Tyler, and I all took a little trip outside of zones one and two to visit the Warner Brothers’ Studio and see The Making of Harry Potter. As a fellow Harry Potter nerd, I was ecstatic about this trip. It was so worth it. We were walking on the same ground that the cast and crew of Harry Potter walked on! It was amazing to see the real props, set pieces, costumes, wigs, and everything that was actually used in the films. I had a butterbeer too – which was just cream soda with a little whipped cream on top. (They had to keep it kid-friendly). I bought myself two little souvenirs from the gift shop – a time-turner keychain, and a journal with the Hogwarts crest on it. It might have been a journey to get to, but I loved every second.

Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry
Six weeks left in the semester. Time is winding down, folks. Keep checking in for more blog posts.

My Thoughts on the International Slavery Museum.

Last week concluded Integrated Theatre History and Shakespeare in Performance. While I am sad to no longer experience these courses, the next two courses coming up sound interesting. For the month of November, Slave Narratives will be new course.

On Friday, we took an overnight class trip to Liverpool. The main reason for going on this overnight trip was to attend the International Slavery Museum as an introduction for Anglo-American Slave Narratives.

I am going to be honest – I did not have high expectations for this museum. I think slavery was a horrible time, and I do not agree with any of it, but I also was not sure how I would feel about looking at an exhibit all about it either. However, I got more out of this museum than I expected. I left with a better knowledge of what happened, and how slavery all began.

I walked into the Slavery Museum, thinking that there would be lots of repetition going on throughout the exhibit. The only knowledge that I had of slavery was the events that took place within the United States. I did not know that England was the start of it all. I thought that was interesting because the British were the ones who sent the ships out to fetch the slaves from Africa, and send them along the Middle Passage. In this museum, there were videos playing of historians talking about slavery and everything that went on during that time. It was really interesting to see and read about how ships departed from Liverpool and traveled to Africa to ship slaves off to the Americas.

A lot of things in this Slavery Museum stood out to me. One thing, in particular, was seeing the shackles that had been chained around the slaves’ wrists and ankles. It made me feel horrible inside because not only were there adult-sized chains, but there were smaller ones – the size for children. Slavery is horrible, and no human being ought to be put through such atrocious conditions, but to put children through such a time makes me sick to my stomach. It’s appalling learning about how those who could own property were able to own slaves. No person ought to be owned by anyone.

I was disappointed that I didn’t get to take many pictures while at the Slavery Museum, but I wasn’t sure if photography was allowed. If I went back, I would have captured some of the things that I thought were interesting and really stood out to me. Another thing that really stood out to me was a video that was playing repeatedly in the museum. It was a clip of the slaves on the ships during their transport on the Middle Passage. I stood watching the clip for a good three minutes, and it made me feel for the slaves back then. I can only imagine the pain and suffering that these slaves went through – just watching the clip made me feel horrible. Slavery was a tragedy in itself, and the idea of a person as property is wrong. As I watched the clip of the slaves in transport, I felt myself being punched in the gut because thought it wasn’t me who put those slaves on a ship and sailed off to the Americas, I feel the guilt of putting the innocent Africans to work until death.

Something else that I found quite intriguing from this museum was there was a window that you could look out. This sounds weird, but the view from this window was where the ships would dock and depart to Africa to trade goods for people. I found this to be interesting because it isn’t every day that I get to look out and see the location of where the ships that transported slaves to the Americas. It was a repulsive time to live in, especially for Africans who were being traded into working until death. Looking out this window, I could only imagine being back in time when slavery still existed and watching ships depart from the dock with trade goods to Africa.

As I made my through the Slavery Museum, I noticed that it began to focus a lot on African culture. It started off with culture from when Africans were slaves and progressed to today’s society.

There was one picture that I took, and it was off a piece of artwork with the faces of Martin Luther King Jr. and President Barack Obama enlarged in front of the American flag with the caption, “We the people… Have a dream”. I took this picture because I thought it represented equality – in the United States, but everywhere really – in all people. I particularly liked that this picture captured two very well known African American political figures. I think that it was vital that this be included in this Slavery Museum because both of these to political figures have done powerful deeds to the United States.

"We the People... Have A Dream!" 
After visiting the International Slavery Museum, I have a better knowledge for how slavery started, and just how bad it really was for the slaves. This has helped me prepare for what is to come the next few weeks of November.