Thursday, April 15, 2010

House of Mirth: Paper Issues, Edith Wharton, and Stephanie

I am still kind of conflicted about what to write about for my second term paper. I really want to write about House of Mirth because I really enjoyed reading that book and I felt that I could write about that passionately. I have been researching a lot about a topic to chose and I think I have narrowed it down to writing about how Edith Wharton and Lily Bart are similar. I'm not sure however if that would suffice for a lengthy paper.
After doing some research, I stumbled upon Hermione Lee's new biography Edith Wharton. The copy at Holland/Terrell library was taken but I looked it up online and read a few passages and it really interested me. Edith Wharton was a very interesting person. I learned that she was always a very talented writer and at 15 wrote her first novel. While reading, I kept thinking about my little sister, Stephanie. Stephanie is 17 and is pretty much what you would call a genius. She has been reading since I can remember and has been writing since kindergarten. She recently finished her first novel entitled "Cole Black" and I have read this work of fiction. It is fantastic. Stephanie and Edith are very similar. They both are smart and they are driven to make their own ways through this life. If we lived back when Edith Wharton did, Stephanie would have been right there with Edith Wharton: writing, critiqing, learning from everyone else. She would have been able to make something of herself and she would have been able to forge a new path for women. I wish I wish i was more like my sister and Edith Wharton in this respect...they are both fiercely independent women and they seem to know what they want out of life. They both will not stop until they get what they want and are extremely passionate about writing their dreams on paper.
Overall, I really am not sure what I will write about but I am really not that worried. Edith Wharton, because of this class, is one of my mentors and inspirational people in my life. I greatly look up to her and I know that I will figure out what to write about. Inspiration will hit me and I will continue to be in awe of strong women like my sister and Edith Wharton...women who I aspire to be like.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lily + Seldon and Sarah + ?

I have really enjoyed the House of Mirth so far. I have always been fascinated by the 1920's and the time around that period. Ever since I read the Great Gatsby in my junior year of high school, I have just been enfatuated with the glitz, glamour, and sparkle of what was going on during the '20s. The book also really reminded me of Gossip Girl. . upper New York, caddy "friends", money, love. .it's just really interesting.
The talk in class today hit really close to home. So often we question potential relationships with people. We are fearful of rejection because we don't know how the other person feels. While reading about Lily and Seldon and what they could have been when they went for a walk was just really frustrating. We as the reader can see that they could work together and both would no longer be alone but the two of them can't see that because they don't know how the other is going to react. They are both scared of rejection from the other person when in fact the other person is not going to reject them.
We have all been through this in life. We get scared when things get intimate because we are embaressed, we don't know if we are doing things right, we don't know how the other person feels or what the other person is thinking. Seldon and Lily both, I feel, are doing all the things that we do in a situtation like that. They are weary of what might happen if something goes wrong, if another person comes into the picture, and then they may feel like the idiot. It's life and life just happens sometimes.
Seldon and Lily are so frustrating to me because I know what it is like to be in their position. I always over think, overanalyze, never knowing how the other person is feeling. Do they feel like I do? Did I do something to turn them off? Why didn't I say something when I could have? Having been hurt in the past for not acting, I have a quote that I know always turn to when I'm too scared to take the leap and I think that this quote is relavent for Seldon and Lily:
"Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we want, and just see what happens."
I hope that Seldon and Lily are both strong enough to figure out what THEY want, not what they think the other person wants. Because in the end, wouldn't it be better to be embarrsssed temporarily and really figuring things out or would it be better to hurt and wonder over the other person for the rest of your life? Sometimes I just wish I could take my own advice. . .maybe I will this time.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


Today in class, we watched the silent film Greed based off of Frank Norris's novel McTeauge. Greed was a very interesting film, I thought that it really did closely follow the book which is pretty unlikely in a film. It was interesting the see it without any dialouge, it made me pay attention that much more. I think that if someone watched Greed and they had not watched the film, they would not have known was going on. By reading the book McTeague, I better understood what was going on throughout the film and it was even nice without dialouge too.
The scene in the desert was really interesting and it was also really stressful for me as a watcher of the film. I felt myself getting thirsty while Marcus and McTeague traveled deeper and deeper into the desert. Even though it was filmed 90 years ago, I felt like I could be trapped in the desert as well which is absolutely amazing. I just felt really uncomfortable, I know that I would not want to be stuck in the desert like McTeague and Marcus were!
Overall, I really did enjoy the film a lot. I thought that it was a good way to end the unit of McTeague and the film allowed me to understand the book that much more. I look forward to read the House of Mirth!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Reading McTeague has been very interesting. The beginning of the book was kind of hard to get into but then it kind of just took off. The character of McTeague is not my favorite and rightly so. As the novel kept moving forward, McTeague became less and less favorable. He firstly stole Trina right from under Marcus (even though the two are cousins so that is kind of gross). He then seems to pressure Trina into a relationship, love, and eventually marriage. He is slow, sluggish, and annoying when it comes to everything essential to a courtship. He always seems uninterested in everything he does and everything that has to do with Trina. McTeague is also very greedy as well and he goes as far to kill his own wife for the money that she would not give him. He was never a moral character throughout the novel and he just ends up being a murderer of his wife and his former best friend. His karma really does come at the end of the book though when he ends up being trapped in the desert with a dead Marcus handcuffed to himself.
McTeague never does get to redeem himself though, but I really do not think that he is a redeemable character. He had so many points where he could have been noble but he does not take the opportunity. He deserved everything that he got in the end. He was a horrible character who's nature did not show until greed took him over.
In the end, the book McTeague was an interesting read but I do not think that I would have picked it up on my own to read it. It had an interesting premise but I just did not like it as much as the other books that we have read so far in this class. I look forward to reading a different book with a different plot, characters, and ending.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I really enjoyed visiting the MASC today. I had never been there before and I was not really sure what to expect, I had literally no idea what I was going to do or see there. However, once there I thought that it was so interesting. I loved looking at all the old books, it really was like looking back on history. It was so cool just to flip through the old books and look at what was the popular entertainment a long time ago. I really liked looking at Henry James's Italian Hours book. It was all about Italy and James wrote down his thoughts about the many different places in Italy where he visited. The pictures in the book were beautiful and both words and text made me want to go to Italy. I also really liked the Chatterbox book, it really reminded me of a modern day magazine. It's interesting to think about how people in the future will look back on our books and our magazines. I really enjoyed the MASC a lot; I enjoyed learning about the history of the books and I wish I could maybe figure out how I could connect my major, Public Relations, to something about the history of books and things like that. I just really enjoyed today and I hope that I can go back to the MASC in the future!!

Daisy Miller

Even though this is a late blog post I decided that I still should write a blog about Daisy Miller. I found the conversation that we talked about in class very interesting about comparing our college society with the society that Daisy Miller lived in. I find it interesting that in modern days in Pullman walking home at 10:30 a.m. in a party dress is comparable to Daisy walking with both Winterbourne and Giovanni at night. Then I thought how we moved on to justifying the walking home in a party dress and the walking with Winterbourne at night is interesting too. Basically, it’s ok to walk home at 10:30 am if you’re in a relationship and it’s ok to walk with Winterbourne if you’re engaged to him. For someone who isn’t in a relationship, this doesn’t really make sense to me; it’s not really fair that people are punished for choosing not to exclusively date one person but I guess that is what today’s society and Daisy’s society looks down upon. I feel bad for Daisy though because she really was being pure and innocent the entire time though others thought she was not. She was just a pretty little flirt but she still had a tragic end. I wonder why Henry James decided to end the book that the way he did, it’s a very interesting ending to choose. I guess James just wanted to show off the character of Winterbourne a little more…he wanted to show how easy it was for Winterbourne to move on and get over Daisy. It’s a sad ending but it really is life and life happens like that…it’s not a perfect ending tied up in a bow.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

"Behind a Mask"

Louisa May Alcott's "Behind a Mask" was an interesting read. At the beginning I was confused because there were so many characters being introduced but after a while, I really started to like it. I thought that Jean Muir was an interesting character because she was so different for her time period. She lied, she drank, she charmed everyone around her, and she was impersonating a 19-year-old while being a 30-year-old. I know that after the discussion in class today, a lot of people did not like her and I'm not saying I do, but I think she is a very interesting character. She seems modern to me though she puts on a "perfect woman" front. She takes the idea of masks to a whole other level. . . she masks herself differently for every character in the book like we were talking about. She reads to Sir John, is a sister to Bella, ignores Gerald, tames the horse for Edward, and makes the perfect cup of tea for Mrs. Coventry. She just knows what appeals to whom and uses it to win everyone over and that is a modern trait. Though she is deceiving, it makes the book that much more interesting and modern. This semester we have read books that have characters who are very similar to each other and have a modern flair: Zenobia in "The Blithedale Romance", Joaquin in "Joaquin Murieta", and now Jean Muir in "Behind a Mask." I'm interested to see what character will continue this cycle as we go on in English.
I really enjoyed the presentation on Louisa May Alcott too. It was interesting to see how she didn't even like to write the children books but she liked to write the thrillers. I really like that about her and I feel like I can relate to that too. I've started to read "Little Women" but I didn't like it so I had to stop. It was kind of bland and I much rather liked "Behind a Mask." I can't wait to see what we read next!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Robin Hood Bad Boy of California?!

Almost immediately after I starting reading Yellow Bird's "Joaquin Murrieta" I started thinking about Robin Hood. True, Robin Hood didn't kill all the people that Joaquin Murrieta is killing, but the two are extremely similar. Not only are they both in the minority of their times, they are representing an entire group of people behind them. For Robin Hood, this is the poor and for Joaquin Murrieta this is the bandits behind him.
I think that "Joaquin Murrieta" is a very refreshing book to read. I feel like all the books I read feature the main character as the good guy who defeats the bad guy and ends up with the happy ending. Life, however, is not always like that. Joaquin Murrieta, though containing Robin Hood-like qualities, is not a good guy. He's a bad boy character who is on a killing spree in order to find another sense of justice. I can't think of another book that I've read that represents the bad guy in good light. It's just so different to almost be on the side of the antagonist. I guess he's just an interesting oxymoran. . a villainous protagonist.
Joaquin Murrieta has a sad story. He lived in harmony with Americans until one day he was kicked off his land, his wife was raped, his brother was killed, and he was tortured. He was driven to kill any American he comes in contact with because he lost faith in the justice system that so many of us believe in. In a way, I understand why Joaquin Murrieta is killing so many. . . he has been to the darkest place that a person could go to and saw that "justice" was not what justice should be. He has to go through killing in order to find what justice really is. Though the killing part is kind of harsh and extreme (and I don't agree with it at all), he has been on a journey and been through things that hopefully no one else in class has been through. We don't know how he would act in that situation either.
I just got to thinking about "The Blithedale Romance" and Zenobia. I find it interesting how Zenobia kills herself because a man decided he did not love her while Joaquin Murrieta's wife was raped and brother was killed and yet killing himself never crossed his mind, at least not in the book. You would almost think that the opposite would happen: that Joaquin Murrieta would kill himself and Zenobia would go a little psycho and maybe kill Hollingsworth or even Priscilla out of revenge. Different authors and different genres I guess.
I'm interested to see what happens next in "Joaquin Murrieta". . . and I'm interested to see what happens to our villainous protagonist as the story goes on.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Zenobia and Sarah

The character of Zenobia reminds me a bit of myself: we're both strong and independent women who want other people's approval and want to fit in but always seem to stick out a little. We separate who we really are from the person who we pretend to be (Zenobia does this more than I do, don't worry). We also both like to be in control of our lives and don't really like it when other people interfere: friends, men, or others. We both are single and sometimes have problems with that but ultimately, we both hope that we will turn out okay without that certain someone by our side.
I believe that Zenobia really is a prototype for a 21st century woman, despite what others may say. The characteristics listed above are not at what men seemed to want in a woman back in the 19th century. Although many women today are extremely spirited and successful, we are not always strong all the time; many of us do have a weak spot and a dark place. It is the way in which we handle our weaknesses or dark patches that define us and separate our individual selves from others.
The ending of "The Blithedale Romance" really did baffle me and was extremely frustrating. Zenobia's suicide was really disturbing for me...obviously I am not going to off myself like she did just because a Hollingsworth decided he doesn't love me, but our extreme similarities and Zenobia's tragic end really did bother me. The way Coverdale also handled it bugged me as well: instead of writing her that ballad, her dying wish, he goes on about his own life and how he could have prevented her death (though he does not directly say that) by expressing his interest in Priscilla. Zenobia never seems to get redemption from her interesting but hard and tragic life, not even in death and I think that is what frightens me so much; I want to eventually get redemption and be 100% complete in life. But, deep down, I know that I will, I just do, and that is what separates me from her.
After I got over the initial shock that the character who was most like myself killed herself, the ending also was a little therapeutic because I know that I am stronger than Zenobia. I will never do what she did. I know that life is hard and death is easy and no matter how hard my life can get, I will never give up on it…it’s my journey and it is mine. Zenobia seems to be smart and wise but because she gave up on something that is so beautiful and so awesome, she is naive and young. She is tragic and she didn’t realize that you don’t need that “thing” (Hollingsworth, money, etc) to be happy or get what you want out of life. Though on some days I don’t even believe that statement, I do believe it on other days which separates me from her. So I guess that I really am not like Zenobia at all. I mean, on the surface we seem to have similar characteristics but our core values differ and that is why we are different. I believe in my abilities and myself and she did not. That is why I will succeed and get what I want out of my life. Because Zenobia did not believe that she could live without love and because she did not believe in herself, she failed while I choose to live.