Okay, so my writing schedule did not go as planned because I got the flu. When I started feeling symptoms, I got as much of my assignments done for other classes as I could which, obviously, threw my writing schedule into the trash. Although I may not have started writing yet, I have been thinking about my project and my sources as I should because I plan on starting my paper tomorrow. However, I am attempting to take a page out of Sarah’s book and just trying to write without worrying about perfection or anything. I am also going ahead and writing my Works Cited section so I do not have to worry about doing that after writing my paper. Like I did in Dr. Mouser’s senior seminar, I also plan on writing the paper over a series of days with a goal of five days at most. Obviously, I will add days if needed, but that is my goal.

As for an update for my research, I realized that one of my articles is more than likely not going to be used in my paper: “Godwin’s Case: Melancholy Mourning in the ‘Empire of Feeling'” by Ildiko Csengei. It is about Godwin’s melancholy and how his mourning for his wife could be found in a lot of his writings, thus presenting a different point of view for psychology purposes. It is not that the article is not good, but quite possibly has no place in my paper. I was throwing around the idea that the article could help explain why the novel is a bit of a downer and so focused on Reginald’s regret and mourning of his wife, but I am uncertain. I am not throwing it out just yet, however, because I never know for certain until I have finished my paper. (Not my first rodeo.)

(WC: 309)

Mansfield Park: Maria’s Marriage to Mr. Rushworth

Since we talked Ms. Crawford and Edmund’s relationship and considering who to blame, I started thinking about Maria and Mr. Rushworth’s marriage. Seeing as we discussed Ms. Crawford working within the system and doing what she has been taught, I see the same in Maria’s behavior with Henry Crawford and Mr. Rushworth. However, I think there is a differing element in Maria’s behavior: freedom.

Maria actually talks about her need for independence that she had experienced when she could pursue and flirt with Henry Crawford:

“Independence was more needful than ever; the want of it at Mansfield more sensibly felt. She was less and less able to endure the restraint which her father imposed. The liberty which his absence had given was now become absolutely necessary. She must escape from him and Mansfield as soon as possible”

I mentioned this quote in class yesterday, but what I thought was interesting that Maria considered a marriage to Mr. Rushworth would be a ticket to freedom. She is essentially going from being the property of her father to being the property of her husband. However, I think Maria’s intelligence is seen when considering who she is marrying. Mr. Rushworth is basically a buffoon who cannot see past the end of his nose. He was completely oblivious to the fact that Maria and Henry were kind of a thing and Maria was ignoring him.

With this in mind, Maria is marrying a man that she knows she can do what she wants without him having any clue. Combine Mr. Rushworth’s character with the distance between her and Sir Thomas, Maria has an equation for freedom she clearly desperately wants back.

(WC: 278)

Paper Update

Okay, so I am not as far along as Sarah, but I have outlined my paper and figured out which sources will be used where. I have gotten a document started. I am honestly a little frustrated that I am not more along or have not even started writing yet, but I am currently in the middle of writing an annotated bibliography, a long quiz for a long play, and constructing my plans for leading discussion. So while I would love to have already gotten further into writing my paper, I am currently attempting to get those assignments out of the way before sitting down for this paper. If all goes according to plan, then I should be able to start writing by Tuesday, if not Monday.

I have been making headway with my argument, however. I keep jotting down things to say and point out and add them to my outline when I am able. I am at the point that when I sit down to write my paper, I will be able to focus and not feel so stressed because I have a pretty good idea of where I am going. I just am feeling a little anxious to get that point, but I do not want to write my paper in a rush to get to what is actually due now.

Mansfield Park: Fanny’s Fortune is for the Sons

I have read through chapter seventeen of Mansfield Park by the one and only Jane Austen, but I want to discuss how Mrs. Norris’ reasoning for Sir Thomas to take in Fanny and his own thoughts on the matter. Mrs. Norris starts off talking about Fanny should have an education and how taking her in could help Fanny, but then Mrs. Norris descends into why it would benefit his sons to have her brought in.

I am referring to how Mrs. Norris is suggesting that by taking Fanny in as a young girl, Sir Thomas will be protecting his sons from falling in love with her. Mrs. Norris puts it like so: “You are thinking of your sons—but do not you know that of all things upon earth that is the least likely to happen; brought up, as they would be, always together like brothers and sisters? It is morally impossible. I never knew an instance of it. It is, in fact, the only sure way of providing against the connection” (Austen 38). What Mrs. Norris is saying is that Sir Thomas should take in Fanny to prevent his sons and Fanny from getting into any kind of romantic relationship.

Now, despite today’s ideas of marrying one’s first cousin, I think that this is a real concern for Sir Thomas especially given Fanny’s social status. I do not like that this seems to be what ultimately won him over because it suggests that the affairs and lives of his sons are more important than Fanny’s unfortunate situation. Of course, this is the times, but the idea that Fanny should be taken better care of to ensure that his sons do not fall for someone outside of their social station is appalling.

Despite that it is Mrs. Norris to voice the idea of Fanny and his sons falling in love, I do think that this concern was at the forefront of Sir Thomas’ mind because of his thoughts behind his reluctance: “He debated and hesitated;—it was a serious charge;—a girl so brought up must be adequately provided for, or there would be cruelty instead of kindness in taking her from her family. He thought of his own four children—of his sons—of cousins in love” (Austen 37). Sir Thomas does start to think of Fanny and her well-being, but by the end of the quote, he thinks of his sons and “cousin in love,” an obvious hint to the worry of his sons forming romantic connects to their cousin. On top of that, Sir Thomas does agree to take Fanny in after Mrs. Norris convinces him that taking in Fanny would prevent any romantic ties would happen with his sons.

So, yes, I think Fanny is granted a “better” life in order to prevent any negative effects on Sir Thomas’ sons. I don’t like it, but at least Fanny was able to have opportunities that her siblings did not have. I have some suspicions and thoughts on whether this change in lifestyle will benefit Fanny overall (given how isolated and sad she seems to be), but that is a post for another day.

(WC: 525)

Research Update Again: Media Form and Thoughts

Dr. Gates’s comment on a previous post that got me thinking about the different media forms of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and St. Leon. I remember briefly thinking about their media difference in the beginning, but dismissed it as I wanted to really focus on the their stories. I had thought that I might go down a rabbit-hole about how different people enjoy different media forms and so on, but her comment made me realize that it does have a place in my argument. It cannot be avoided that you can either read the manga with pictures and dialogue or simply watch the anime versus having to sit down and read St. Leon.

The only problem is that I do not want to make it seem like modern audiences may enjoy Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood more than St. Leon because they would rather watch something or read a Japanese comic book (which is pictures with easy-to-read dialogue). Then again, reading manga is not exactly the easiest thing to do as English readers, but is also not the hardest thing either. Since the Japanese read and write from right to left, the manga is arranged as such so English readers have to adjust in what we would consider “backwards.” (Just as our reading and writing directions may be considered “backwards” to Japanese readers.)

Speaking from experience, it took me some time to getting used to from right to left, but after a few volumes, I got the hang of it to the point that when I pick up a comic that reads left to right (like American or Korean), my first instinct is to go to the “back” of the book and read from right to left. However, again, this is my own personal experience and my friends in middle school had varying times of adjustment. One friend got the hang of it quicker than me, and another took longer while also reading slower. So adjustment and reading time cannot be really generalized.

My point is that I want to draw attention to the anime and manga media forms of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood without making it seem like it is more popular with modern audiences because it’s “easier” to do than to read St. Leon. I know that with the antiquated language of St. Leon and the fact a person would have to actually read it (or listen) makes it seem “harder” to consume, but that was not true for Godwin’s original audience. At least, I do not think so.

That is another question I need to answer: could anyone have read St. Leon in that time period? Could have a literature person of lower class even have access to St. Leon? The money? (I am going to look that up right after this.)

Back to what I was saying originally: I do not think that the difference in media forms is a major contributing factor to a modern audience’s preference for Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or St. Leon. I think it is a small contributing factor in how Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood as an anime/manga may be more accessible for a modern audience. For one thing, the manga is broken up into multiple volumes so while it is a “long” story, it has been broken up in bite-sized pieces that can be manageable even for struggling readers or those who do not fancy reading a full length novel. (I personally think that Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has a lot more going on plot-wise than St. Leon, but it is not as noticeable or intimidating due to the smaller chunks of either episodes or manga volumes.)

As for St. Leon‘s media form, I think four hundred pages of antiquated language is an obstacle that modern readers are faced with and is one that Godwin’s original audience did not have. I do not necessarily want to say that this is “harder” than reading Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood or watching the anime, but I think it is a small contributing factor for modern audiences. It is unavoidable. Just look at the first line of the Preface: “The following passage from a work, said to be written by the late Dr. John Campbell [1], and entitled Hermippus Redivivus ^1, suggested the first hint of the present performance” (Godwin 50). In just that first line, not only is there a footnote, but also a reader would have to go to the back of the book to find out what the heck Hermippus Redivivus is. This can ward off potential readers who may have picked up the book just because they liked the cover. Even if the reader gets past that first line, St. Leon is simply not written like modern novels. The dialogue and prose may not be completely (if at all) understand during the first read. To be honest, the novel is not a kind of book that meant for modern readers to enjoy and somewhat turn off their brain.

Not to say that there are not novels written nowadays that are meant to make the readers think, but what a lot of popular literature is meant to be read like that. It is made to not necessarily be simpler, but easier to comprehend with more modern language and context that a modern reader can understand. Think of Harry Potter. It is written so that even a younger audience is understand most of what is going on, but it has deeper themes and situations that older audiences can enjoy and dissect. A reader does not necessarily need to be in Sherlock mode to understand and enjoy the series. The same cannot not exactly be said for St. Leon. Again, that is not a bad thing, but is an obstacle that has to addressed when considering modern audiences’ response to the novel.

So that is where my brain is at right now. I know I want to talk the media differences, but I do not want to go too deep into a rabbit hole. (I definitely do not want to even see the floating furniture.) Honestly, after writing this post, I’m thinking that maybe the media differences and audiences play a big part of my argument. I just don’t want it to overtake my paper . . . Unless I make that my entire paper. I don’t know. I think I’ll know for certain once I look up the accessibility of St. Leon in Godwin’s time.

(word count: 1062)

Men in The Victim of Prejudice: Props for Mary

Yesterday in class, an interesting idea came up: are the men in this novel just props/plot devices for Mary and her journey? After thinking about it, I am of the opinion that yes, they are. When I think of the male characters, they are not as defined as Mary is and serve plot-related purposes that women often fill.

Take William for instance. Like how often girlfriends serve as just a love interest to save in superhero movies, William is just a love interest that causes Mary emotional and mental turmoil. He is what she wants, but cannot have. He is the reason that she ultimately decides that she will not marry a farmer, a life she would not have minded to live. William is the reason that she takes the grapes and attracts Sir Peter’s creepy attention. William does little (so far) and seems to have two character traits: in love with Mary and sexist jerk. He is not nearly complex as Mary. (He does not even come close.)

Sir Peter, the farmer suitor, and Mr. Pelham are the same as William, offering very little character besides the bare bones. Sir Peter is just a straight-up villain. He is a creepy, slimy, rapist. The farmer suitor does not even have a name (so far) and is referred to only twice. He just serves as an actual plausible choice for Mary’s husband, but one that Mary rejects due to her love for William. So, basically, he just highlights Mary’s love for William much like how Sir Peter does (but in a non-creepy, non-rapist way). Mr. Pelham is a mere obstacle for Mary and William’s relationship, creating more problems for Mary. He has no character besides being prejudiced and stuck-up. That’s it.

Even Mr. Raymond is akin to William and the others. He may have a bit more character than them, but in the end, he serves as a plot device as well. To name just one instance, his death is what leads Mary into the rapey arms of Sir Peter (unknowingly, of course). Honestly, as the father character, I figured that he would die that moment I started reading the novel, and he died when I thought he would. Mr. Raymond fulfilled his purposes, which was to raise, teach, protect, and impart the idea that Mary could not be with William, so it was time for Mr. Raymond to die and jump-start the beginning of Mary’s misery. Though I would argue that Mr. Raymond still has more character than the other male characters, he is used much like them in that his entire character revolves around Mary and is used in accordance of how to tell and enact her story.

As for Edmund Pelham, well, we as a class had to look up his name because no one could remember it. Enough said.

(Word count: 474)


Thoughts on Final Paper Topic

I’ve had this train of thought in the back of my mind these past few days about what Dr. Gates asked us to discuss in this post regarding our paper and research. After getting feedback for my topic proposal, I realized that I was being a bit too negative toward St. Leon. Obviously, that was not my original intent, but I guess when I was mentally comparing the novel to Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (which is my favorite anime), I was ignoring what is actually important in regards to my paper. I don’t want to just slam St. Leon for not being what I had wanted which is honestly a bit more adventure, drama, and thrills like in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. My research since writing my topic proposal has helped me to think more objectively about the novel.

I think what I want to answer with my paper is why St. Leon has survived two centuries and recognize the brilliance of it. Before my research, I had no idea some of what Godwin was critiquing or the other layers he had written into the novel. That’s because I’m not the original audience. Now that does not mean that the novel’s brilliance is lost on modern audiences necessarily, but it does require more research to understand what Godwin was doing. After all, that’s why when we read older novels, short stories, and poetry, we usually are doing so in a classroom setting or at least have to google some things to get what else the writer was doing.

After realizing my bias towards the anime and researching some more, I realized that there is a reason that I wanted to write about St. Leon before I had even considered its connection with my favorite anime. I had been emotionally involved when I read the novel and wanted to know what happened next despite my gripes with Reginald’s actions. So even though I’m not the original audience, Godwin was doing something there that transcended audience, time, and even country that I could resonate with. That’s what I want to answer. Using Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood as a lens/comparison, what was it about St. Leon that kept me going even with its faults?

(Word count: 370)

Mary Robinson’s Genius

Okay, how Mary Robinson argues in her A Letter to the Women of England is genius. The way that she questions that women are inferior to men due to being weaker to men is my favorite section. Robinson puts it so brilliantly when she says: “if woman be the weaker creature, why is she employed in laborious avocations?” (218). She points out that despite women being “weaker” than their male counterparts, women are performing jobs and tasks that take a lot of strength and energy to do. Robinson draws a direction comparison between the men’s work and the women’s work, suggesting that “men are employed in measuring lace and ribands; folding gauzes; composing artificial bouqets; fancying feathers, and mixing cosmetics for the preservation of beauty” (218). She is not pulling any punches at all. I love that section’s closing line as well: “are women thus compelled to labour, because they are of the weaker sex” (218).

Robinson is out to show a piece of the reason why women are not simply the weaker sex (and thus explaining why they are oppressed). If that was really the reason why, then she is right; why would women be allowed to do such hard labor? Why would they be allowed to do energy-draining, very demanding housework? Housework, especially concerning the time period in which Robinson lived, was not easy. Want a clean floor? Well, get on your knees and scrub it. Want to wash dirty laundry? Wash it all by hand and hang it up to dry. And that’s not even including dusting, cleaning general clutter, the kitchen, and so on. I think it was quite brilliant on Robinson’s part to not only point to labor outside the home but the work that a wife would perform inside the home as well. Because that was the point; that was the work that was labelled as “acceptable” work for women, but that did not mean it was not hard labor. After all, if the women were “weak,” then how did they get all this stuff done?

So, yeah, Mary Robinson is a genius.

(Word count: 348)

Tentative Source for Final Paper

Article: “(Fullmetal) Alchemy: The Monstrosity of Reading Words and Pictures in Shonen Manga” by Lesley-Anne Gallacha

Okay, I have this article listed as tentative because I’m uncertain it will help with my argument. I didn’t put it in my annotated bibliography due to that. Lesley-Anne Gallacha is more concerned about how manga and comic books tell compelling stories with just dialogue and hand-drawn pictures. However, Gallacha touches on that Ed and Al (the protagonists of Fullmetal Alchemist) are like “monsters” and that the audience has to be willing to “accept” monsters in order to get into the story. Honestly, it’s a bit odd because in reading the manga and watching Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, I did not see Ed and Al “monstrous.”

I can see what Gallacha is saying, though. Gallacha is referring to the fact that the brothers (Ed and Al) committed a taboo in attempting to bring their mother back to life and paid for that transgression in losing their bodies. Al loses his entire body, leaving only his soul. Ed loses his left leg due to their mistake and then his right arm in order to bind his brother’s soul to a suit of armor. This means that their physical appearance can be considered quite different and thus “monstrous.”

However, I think Gallacha is forgetting that the automail that replaces Ed’s lost arm and leg is not that uncommon; there are other people who have automail limbs. Think of it as prosthetic limbs that some people have in order to walk or for other parts of their bodies. Regarding Al’s armor body, it merely gets an eyebrow and people thinking it’s for protection and/or part of alchemy training. So it’s not so much as the existence of Ed’s automail and Al’s suit of armor that make the brothers “monstrous,” but really what the metal limbs and body mean when people tie their existence to the brothers’ alchemy and the fact that Al is essentially empty within the suit.

I think that Gallacha, with the wording of that section, glosses over the nuance of how people perceive the brothers’ appearance at first glance versus to how certain people make connections between the brothers’ bodies when they take into consideration of the brothers’ use of alchemy. This is why I am a bit cautious to use the article in my paper, but after writing this blog post, I think Gallacha does have an interesting perspective that I think I can use when I am comparing Ed and Al to Reginald as protagonists. If Ed and Al are “monsters,” then maybe Reginald is a kind of “monster” as well? As a class, we had issues with Reginald, but maybe that is the point. Reginald is a kind of “monster” that we have to accept in order to read and enjoy the story.

I’m honestly just spit-balling. I just thought of that connection so obviously I’m going to have think about it some more.

(Word Count: 494)

Wollstonecraft’s Published Travel Letters: To Be Literary or Not To Be

I can’t stop thinking about our class’ conversation about if Mary Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written during a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark could be considered “literary” or not. What are the boundaries? We talked about guide books for fixing toilets isn’t “literary,” but where does that leave works like fanfiction? And a collection of letters? Diaries? We talked about publishing, but when Anne Frank wrote her diary, I don’t think she ever intended or knew that one day her diary would be published. So, to me, publishing does not necessarily factor into the idea.

Iris mentioned something about emotions and feeling something when reading (at least, that’s the bit that I heard and then I started down a rabbit hole in my brain). That got me thinking about the later letters that are assigned for Thursday and how political the letters get. As I recall, Wollstonecraft was a supporter of the French Revolution so it surprised me that she was so in favor of this prince as so wonderful, pure, and selfless that I was waiting to hear the Disney tune from the beginning of the VHS tapes. Yes, maybe he was just that great and perfect, but I did roll my eyes at her description and view of him. That is, until she gets to complaining about a king that, from what I understand and remember, was not all mentally there (connected to age, not mentally disabled since she mentioned he was old). That was when I could hear her frustration quite clearly and she invoked similar frustration within me. I was right there with her, angrily folding towels and muttering about stupid governments. (I should clarify that I was listening to the audio-book while I did housework.) Wollstonecraft got me to feel something about the country that had to deal with a king that had to be babysit by his son and others around him.

That’s the point I’m trying to make: she made me feel something in the midst of chatting (writing) about her travels and observations. It made me feel and think. Isn’t that one of things that “literary” works do for us? To make us see something far away by bringing it closer, cradling in their written words and burning our minds by feelings and stirring up opinions? To provoke the humanity that we sometimes set aside in order to get through our day-to-day lives?

Of course, this is just my opinion, but I think sometimes with labeling what is “literary” and what is not, we lose sight of what the words were trying to say and make us feel. However, I know that it is a conversation that can be fun to have and is, at times, necessary to have when writing academically and critically. As an English major, I am quite aware.

(Word count: 472)