Tuesday, June 10, 2014

CANNIBALISTIC OKONKWO: A DECONSTRUCTIVE PERSPECTIVE OF CHINUA ACHEBE’S THINGS FALL APART

Abstract

This essay is an attempt to a deconstructive interpretation of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”. It begins by reviewing literary comments on Chinua Achebe and later dovetails an explication of the meaning of deconstruction as a way of enabling to grapple with the realities of this post structuralist critical formulation. This essay observes that Okonkwo is not only a brutal cannibal but also a barbarian. This refers to the backdrop of his penchant for killing as shown in the novel. This opinion is buttressed by Okonkwo’s ruthless habit of drinking from his first human head, which is a tilled smack of cannibalism. Based on the theory of deconstruction, it concludes that the scientific reading relies only on the text which functions as the real mirror of society which literature is all about.
                                                                                                                   
Keywords: post-structuralism, deconstruction, criticism, signifier and signified

I. INTRODUCTION
Chinua Achebe’s popularity among literary critics, especially literary historians of the novel genre, draws elaborately from his aptitude to use the novel to popularize the African cultures and ways of life. He broached this feat through his realistic presentation of African life-style.
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Monday, March 02, 2009

SALIENT FEATURES OF ROMANTICISM IN GRAY’S "ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD"

Abstract

Gray’s “Elegy written in Country Churchyard” is a product of Transition period. Therefore it is a blend of two literary trends; Classicism and Romanticism. This article deals with elements of nature, melancholy and sympathy for the poor which are the main characteristics or Romanticism.

I. INTRODUCTION
Gray is no doubt a classicist, but was sensitive to impending trends of Romanticism which soon came to eclipse classicism. Gray began to shift his attention from suffocated town to pristine country side with its green pasture, where cattle graze, rivers run, birds chirp, breezing winds blow that create peaceful atmosphere of rural area. The setting of country side opens our eyes to simple life of poor people. They live in poverty and this has crushing effect on their life. They are never able to get rid of the poverty. In fact humble, people of country side have innate gifts and latent ability but because they have no opportunity to develop their potentials, remains undeveloped.

II. DISCUSSION
2.1 Return to Nature


One of the most conspicuous features of Romanticism is nature. The sights and sounds described in the opening stanzas create a rural atmosphere and suggest the interest in many sides of nature.
“The curfew foils the knell of parting day
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me”
(Lines: 1-4)

In the very opening lines, the poet builds up an atmosphere of evening in rural area. The sheep are returning to the village over the pasture land. They are walking in winding course as is their habit and they walk, they produce their natural sound. The farmer is also walking heavily homewards, tired of the days labours. The dark is descending upon the world and the poet finds himself all alone. The above lines are meticulous observation of Gray towards nature.

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Friday, November 14, 2008

SEXUAL PERVERSION DEPICTED IN ELIOT’S “THE WASTE LAND”

Abstrak

Hubungan sex merupakan kegiatan sakral yang dilakukan dengan penuh kasih sayang oleh pasangan suami istri untuk melanjutkan keturunan. Namun pada “The Waste Land” karya T.S.Eliot, sex telah berubah fungsi. Sex digunakan sebagai alat pemuas birahi, obat menghilangkan stress dan bahkan diperdagangkan sebagai barang komersial untuk memperoleh keuntungan materi. Penyimpangan sex tersebut menyebabkan kemandulan peradaban modern. Eliot menyerukan pembersihan spiritual sebagai solusi masalah tersebut. Namun masyarakat modern tak terketuk hatinya karena terbius oleh kenikmatan duniawi semata.

Keywords: sexual perversion, moral values, guilty love, sex exploitation

INTRODUCTION

According to Eliot, sex is an important aspect of life. It is an expression of love and a means of procreation. But in modern society, sex has been perverted from its proper function and is utilized for animal pleasure and monetary benefits. Easy sexual relation could be found among all sections of the society.

Eliot cites the instances of guilty love in the first section of the poem with reference to Waqner’s opera Tristan and Isolde. Then he goes to another guilty love of the hyacinth girl.

In the section of Game of Chess we are introduced to sexual violation in high-class society where a lustful duke seduced a young married-woman. Sex also prevails among the lower class of society. Eliot mentions the story of Lil and the experience of three daughters of Thames. Another example is that of mechanical sex relation between the typist girl and her boy friend. A homosexual relation is exemplified by Mr. Eugenides. Eliot sums up the story of European lust through the words of St. Augustine.

To carthage then I came
Burning burning burning burning
(Lines 307-308: The Waste Land)

Eliot means that the whole of Europe is being destroyed by the fire of sexuality.

DISCUSSION

Guilty Love
Sex occupies a very prominent place in human life. At one time sex was considered as a means of human development. Unfortunately in modern time, sex has become an animal urge without any moral or social commitment.

Eliot gives two examples of guilty love or the pain of satisfied love. The poet refers to the story of Tristan who had a guilty passion for Isolde in Waqner’s opera Tristan and Isolde.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

SALIENT QUALITIES OF ROMANTICISM IN EDGAR ALLAN POE’S “THE RAVEN”

Abstract

The Raven, written by Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849), was published in ‘’The New York Paper’’ in 1845. It is entirely the dominant sentiment of Poe’s life, the longing and regret for a beautiful love whom he had known. The poem consists of 18 six-line stanza, the first five-lines of each being in trochaic octameter, and the sixth line trochaic tetrameter. The rhythm is varied frequently, caused by effects of double rhyme and alliteration. The rhyme scheme is abcbb, wherein the b rhymes are based on the constant refrain, Nevermore, which are merged in Poe’s favourite theme of grief occasioned by the death of a beautiful woman, and the sonorous sound of the ‘’o’’ and ‘’r’’ in the refrain itself. The poem contains salient qualities of Romanticism. The poet, steeped in melancholy memories of a lost love, is haunted by the death in the guise of a raven. With the learned imaginative literature, The Raven has taken rank over the whole world, especially in the American Continent.

Keywords: Romanticism, Nevermore, Restraint, Classicism, Rhymes, Alliteration, Simplicity, Directness, Nobility, Achievement, Communion with Nature, Imagination

I. INTRODUCTION

Romanticism is a style in fine arts and literature. It emphasizes passion rather than reason, and imagination and inspiration rather than logic. Romanticism favors full expression of the emotions, and free, spontaneous action rather than restraint and order.

(The World Book Encyclopedia, 1983. Vol. 16. p. 142)

Romanticism is the sweeping revolt against authority, tradition, and classical order that pervaded western civilization over a period that can be roughly dated from the later eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth century. More generally, Romanticism is that attitude or state of mind that allies itself with the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imagination, and the emotional and the most often takes for its subject matter history, rational striving and the sublime beauties of nature.

(The New Encyclopedia Britannica. Chicago:

Encyclopedia Inc. 1768. Vol. X. pp. 160-61)

The above illustrations on Romanticism transparently can be used as a guide to identify the qualities of Romanticism in Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.

The essential elements of romantic spirit are curiosity and love of beauty; and it is as the accidental effect of these qualities only that it seeks the effect, of a strange beauty to be won by strong imagination out of things unlikely or remote.

Curiosity and the love of beauty, these are certainly the integral factors of romanticism, the one intellectual, and the other emotional. But romanticism is certainly not limited to such a simplification; it also includes a subtle sense of mystery, an exuberant, intellectual curiosity and in instinct for the elemental simplification of life.

Thus the characteristics of this period can be summed up as: The protest against the bondage of rules, the return to nature and the human heart, the interest in old sagas and medieval romances, the sympathy with the poor, the oppressed and the lowly, and the emphasis upon individual genius. Romanticism cannot be restricted into one certain corridor.

Though it is a little bit difficult to seek a satisfactory definition of Romanticism, it is still possible to point out a number of important elements which can be regarded as the Romantic Qualities. Here the term ‘’qualities’’ is used to name the romantic elements instead of ‘’aspects’’ or ‘’characteristics’’.

Semantically, in accordance with the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English, ‘’quality’’ means something that is special in, or that distinguishes a person or thing whereas ‘’aspect’’ means particular part and ‘’characteristic’’ means special mark or quality. Thus the words ‘’quality’’ and ‘’characteristic’’ have the same meaning but the word ‘’quality’’ gives a better accuracy in this study and has more sense to refer to Romanticism. There are some special points in Romantic literary works that distinguish them from other literary movement, especially those of classicism. This term is also used in the World Book Encyclopedia, volume 16, 1983.

Many writers have undertaken to point out and explain the qualities of Romanticism which tend to be contrasted with the classicism. The main marks of classicism are simplicity, directness, and nobility, and perfection in achievement. In a classic work of art there is no evidence of a lack harmony between the ideas and the medium. As a consequence, the personality of the artist is not expressed; the artist is lost in his work, which stands impersonal and objective. The artist’s own attitude, his emotional struggles and the play of his life are not shown towards the subject matter. The Romanticist, on the other hand, puts himself into his work; it is not a separated idea of beauty that he seeks to express, but his own personality, the longings, hopes and ideals of a spirit that has a tendency toward the Infinite, and which, therefore, can never express itself in any limited and objective medium. Classicism is thus always definite, objective and complete, while Romanticism is always touched with subjectivity, and thus with a suggestion of incompleteness, which is due to the fact that it seeks to convey the mystery of spirit for which no objective mode of expression is adequate, and which, therefore, can only be symbolized and vaguely suggested.

As Romanticism tries to express what is strange and mysterious in the life of spirit, it naturally seeks its material in the past and feels itself especially in sympathy with the Middle Ages. Thus a sympathy with the past, a new interest in humanity as such, marks Romanticism.

Romanticism gives expression to a deep and enduring vision of Nature as an immediate personal experience, the supernatural, night, death, ruins, graves, the macabre, the dreams and the subconscious. The Romantic hero is either an egocentric devoured by melancholy or boredom, in either case often a man of mystery. The emotion is preferred to the reason. Romanticism proclaims freedom from rules and conventions, emphasizing spontaneity and lyricism.

Just because Classicism seeks express the idea of beauty in definite and objective form, it is possible to lay down fixed procedure and so to render the result formal, precise and almost mechanical. Romanticism, however, aims to represent what is inner and subjective, and, therefore, necessarily protests against making art stiff and formal by the application of external rules and mechanical standards. Art, the Romanticism, declares, must spring from the untrammeled expression of the free spirit of the man of genius.

And some of the salient qualities of Romanticism that are going to be discussed in Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘’The Raven’’ are: Imagination, Relationship to Nature, and Interest in the lowly subject.


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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Three Unities in "Volpone" by Ben Jonson

Abstract

This article is an attempt to observe Ben Jonson’s adherence to the Greek concept of Three Unities as a means to contribute to the realism of a play. It begins by introducing the three unities, i.e The Unity of Time, The Unity of Place, and The Unity of Action, and later fits together an explication of the meaning as well as the significance of the three unities as the actual practice of the Greek dramatists. This article observes that Ben Jonson obviously holds on the formula of the Three Unities in the play. It is seen in the play that the story takes place only in one place, that is in a city named Venice. The action confines to a single day, and has no digression. It goes directly to the climax of the plot.

Key Words: The Unity of Time, The Unity of Place, The Unity of Action, Poetics, Renaissance, drama, tragedy, plot

I. INTRODUCTION

Greek and Latin drama are strict in form. The stage represents as a single place throughout the action; the plot recounts the events of a single day; and there is very little irrelevant by-play as the action develops. The formula of the practice to which the Greek and Latin dramatists adhered in general is known as the Three Unities, i.e. the unity of time, place and action. Therefore, the Three Unities were conventions which ancient Greek playwrights were expected to adhere to. Every play was to adhere to these rules, according to their originator, Aristotle. In the name of Aristotle, the three unities were emphasized by the English, the Italian, and the French critics, and especially by the Italians and the French. The English critics of the Renaissance, especially Sir Philip Sidney, regarded the observance of the three unities as obligatory for dramatists. However, in the 17th and 18th centuries, some English critics, especially Dryden and Dr. Johnson, declared that the observance of the three unities was not essential, though Dryden thought that the unity of action was a necessary condition of a successful play.

Aristotle means three unities as a description of the norm, not that of an ideal. Three unities are supposed by critics to be useful in contributing to realism of play. Aristotle describes the drama of an earlier age in his important work On the Art of Poetry; those who follow his precepts call this disciplined structure the “Three Unities”, i.e. the unity of place, the unity of time, and the unity of action.

Dealing with the unity of action in some detail, under the general subject of "definition of tragedy", Aristotle wrote:

Now, according to our definition, Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is complete, and whole, and of a certain magnitude[1] … As therefore, in the other imitative arts, the imitation is one when the object imitated is one, so the plot, being an imitation of an action, must imitate one action and that a whole, the structural union of the parts being such that, if any one of them is displaced or removed, the whole will be disjointed and disturbed. For a thing whose presence or absence makes no visible difference, is not an organic part of the whole.[2] ([1] Aristotle's Poetics, XVII, [2] Aristotle's Poetics, XVIII)

His only reference to the time in the fictive world is in a distinction between the epic and tragic forms:

Epic poetry agrees with Tragedy in so far as it is an imitation in verse of characters of a higher type. They differ, in that Epic poetry admits but one kind of metre, and is narrative in form. They differ, again, in their length: for Tragedy endeavours, as far as possible, to confine itself to a single revolution of the sun, or but slightly to exceed this limit; whereas the Epic action has no limits of time.[3] ([3] Aristotle's Poetics, V)

On place he is less explicit, merely saying that ‘tragedy should be confined to a narrow compass’.

Based on the consideration of the dramatic unities of action, time, and place above, it can be inferred that the classical unities or three unities are rules for drama derived from a passage in Aristotle's Poetics. In their neoclassical form they are as follows:

1. The unity of action: a play should have one main action that it follows, with no or few subplots.

2. The unity of place: a play should cover a single physical space and should not attempt to compress geography, nor should the stage represent more than one place.

3. The unity of time: the action in a play should take place over no more than 24 hours.

Ben Jonson, one of the great dramatists in Elizabethan period as well as the greatest English critic between Sidney and Dryden, had a strong masculine intellect, a sound deep basis of classical learning and an abundant fund of common sense. He obviously applied the formula of the Three Unities in most of his plays.

In this article, the writer analyses Ben Jonson’s adherence to the concept of Three Unities in his play entitled Volpone. In the play, the place in which the story takes place is only in one place, that is in a city called Venice. The action of the play is restricted to one day, and the action of the play also has no digression. The action goes directly to the climax of the plot.

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

ARISTOTLE’S CONCEPT OF TRAGEDY AND TRAGIC HERO

Abstract

Things Fall Apart is an epic; it resembles stories about heroes in many cultures. In such stories, the heroes are extraordinary individuals, whose careers and destinies are not theirs alone, but are bound with the fortunes and destinies of their society. They become heroes by accomplishing great things for themselves and their communities, winning much fame as a result. In an epic story, the hero undergoes many tests, which we can see as rites of passage. This article presents how far this novel can fulfill Aristotle’s concept of tragedy as well as tragic hero through its tragic hero, Okonkwo. Okonkwo, the hero of the novel, fits this pattern. In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo undergoes such tests, including the wrestling match with Amalinze the Cat, his struggle with the negative legacy of his father, and the struggle to succeed on his own.

Keywords: tragedy, tragic flaw, hamartia, pity and fear, tragic hero, poetics, protagonist, catharsis

I. INTRODUCTION

The word tragedy can be applied to a genre of literature. It can mean ‘any serious and dignified drama that describes a conflict between the hero (protagonist) and a superior force (destiny, chance, society, god) and reaches a sorrowful conclusion that arouses pity and fear in the audience.’ From this genre comes the concept of tragedy, a concept which is based on the possibility that a person may be destroyed precisely because of attempting to be good and is much better than most people, but not perfect. Tragedy implies a conflict between human goodness and reality. Many feel that if God rewards goodness either on earth or in heaven there can be no tragedy. If in the end each person gets what he or she deserves, tragedy is impossible.

In the century after Sophocles, the philosopher Aristotle analyzed tragedy. Aristoele defines “tragedy” as an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and of a certain magnitude; in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament, the several kinds being found in separate parts of the play; in the form of action, not of narrative, through pity and fear effecting the proper purgation of these emotions.”

According to Aristotle, the central character of a tragedy must not be so virtuous as such a character, instead of arousing the feeling of pity and fear at his or her downfall, will only give shocked to the readers, or simply caused outraged. Aristotle also claims that a hero should not be so evil that for sake of justice we desire his or her misfortune. Instead, the ideal hero is someone “who is neither outstanding in virtue and righteousness; nor is it through badness or villainy of his own that he falls into misfortune, but rather through some flaw [hamartia].” The character also should be famous or prosperous.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Deconstruction (2)

For the deconstructionist, all literary texts deconstruct themselves via binary oppositions that destroy each other.


Deconstruction can be described as a theory of reading which aims at undermining the logic of opposition within the text.

In the deconstructive reading, binary opposition must be identified.

The deconstructionist always locates the point of contradiction imposed by its own realistic form within the text.

For deconstructive criticism, nothing happens outside the text.

Deconstruction is aimed at what goes on inside the text.

Post-structuralism is of the view that text serves as the critical mirror for society.

Otherwise, if we accept the system of reading whereby the reader’s knowledge of the author’s socio-political and cultural background informs our reading, then literature rather than being a mirror becomes a shadow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Deconstruction (1)

Deconstruction is a term in contemporary philosophy, literary criticism, and the social science, denoting a process by which the texts and languages of Western Philosophy (in particular) appear to shift and complicate in meaning when read in light of the assumptions and absences they reveal within themselves. Jacques Derrida coined the term in the 1960s, and proved more forthcoming with negative, rather than pined-for positive, analyses of the school.

Subjects relevant to deconstruction include the philosophy of meaning in Western thought, and the ways that meaning is constructed by Western writers, texts, and readers and understood by readers. Though Derrida himself denied deconstruction was a method or school of philosophy, or indeed anything outside of reading the text itself, the term has been used by others to describe Derrida's particular methods of textual criticism, which involved discovering, recognizing, and understanding the underlying—and unspoken and implicit—assumptions, ideas, and frameworks that form the basis for thought and belief, for example, in complicating the ordinary division made between nature and culture. Derrida's deconstruction was drawn mainly from the work of Heidegger and his notion of destruktion but also from Levinas and his ideas upon the other.