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Blog Post on Rear Window

The set for the movie is amazing, as Hitchcock and his team basically built a model of an apartment building on the studio lot. In fact, Hitchcock even said that every apartment in the building, even the ones we don’t see, was fully furnished. My question involves the apartments we do see. How do the stories that unfold in the apartments across from Jeff’s “rear window” relate to the relationship between Jeff (Jimmy Stewart) and Lisa (Grace Kelly)? Think especially about Miss Torso, Miss Lonelyhearts, the Composer, the Newlyweds, and, of course, the Thorwalds. Consider, also, the different ways Jeffries and Lisa react to what goes on in those apartments. How does Hitchcock manage to define their relationship more clearly by playing it against the lives of Jeff’s fellow tenants?

 

  1. Miss Torso:
    1. Lisa:
      1. Miss Torso is Lisa outside of Jeff’s apartment. Miss Torso is Lisa in her high society circles being a woman in a man’s profession. Both have to be flexible and put on a good show for the men of society. They have to work day and night to perform their best else they be cast out. Both seem to love what they do otherwise they would allow themselves to be cast out instead of putting the never-ending work forward. Neither love the attention of the miscellaneous men that they have to endure. Both long for the one they actually love to come home (in Miss Torso’s case) or fully commit to them (in Lisa’s case.) It can also be argued that the men they love live dangerous lives that does not allow them to go with their loves. Luckily both Miss Torso and Lisa gain what they have longed for. Miss Torso’s love (an army man) comes home at least for a while. Lisa’s love (Jeff) stops trying to push her away and accepts her presence in his life.
    2. Miss Lonelyhearts:
      1. Jeff:
        1. To Jeff Miss Lonelyhearts represents the life that he imagines for himself without Lisa. Jeff however seems to find it slightly amusing when he sees her get all dressed up and greet an imaginary man. I think Jeff can picture this sort of life for himself because he cannot believe he is worthy of Lisa’s affections. He seems resigned to the fact that he will always be toasting to someone not there. However, as the Movie progresses it seems obvious he falls out of pattern with her. While Miss Lonelyhearts goes out to try and find the company she so craves Jeff continues to try and push Lisa away. When he sees the disastrous result of Miss Lonelyhearts evening it seems he pities her and is even more convinced to push any romance away. I think the most shocking thing for Jeff is when Miss Lonelyhearts attempts to kill herself. He wants to save her and is confused how the music stays her hand. Too much is happening for him to consider what this means, but I believe if he thought about it he would see how that romance and love portrayed by the song is more tempting than continuing alone or not continuing at all.
        2. To Jeff Miss Lonelyhearts is another miserable person in this world, but only at first.
          1. Jeff watches three very important events:
            1. He watches her “imagined” dinners. Jeff can sympathize with her lonely dinners and even raises his glass in a mock toast to show his appreciation of her situation. When he toasts her he is also ignoring Lisa. I think this shows how he is still thinking that distancing himself from Lisa would be better for them both than attempting to commit to forever. I think he can see both himself and Lisa in the
            2. He watches her attempt to go out and the subsequent event of the disastrous dinner. In Jeff’s mind this is an affirmation that he is better off alone. He doesn’t want to be forced into something.
            3. He watches her attempt to kill herself and how the music stays her hand. I think this is the final thing that gets Jeff to realize how horrible life would be alone and how letting yourself be lead where your heart is how you truly can become happy. This is also happening at the same time that Jeff is worrying over Lisa’s safety and life. I think both of these events lead him to see how much he does not want to live without Lisa and how important Lisa is to him.
          2. Lisa:
            1. To Lisa Miss Lonelyhearts represents the life that she imagines for herself without Jeff.
            2. She sees the empty formalities of getting dressed up for an evening with no one – or no one special – and hates how it would resemble her nights without Jeff.
  • Lisa does not see how Miss Lonelyhearts attempts to forge a “real” relationship. If she had I think she would have been horrified and heartbroken imagining herself in Miss Lonleyhearts place.
  1. Lisa also does not see Miss Lonelyhearts attempt to kill herself. If she had I think she would have felt that doom and confermation that life is not worth living without Jeff (or the music in Miss Lonelyhearts case.)
  2. Because Lisa does not witness these two events I think it is hinted that she would be able to move on without Jeff. Especially due to their dual-admiration of the music and the comfort both feel at the end of the movie.

 

  1. The Composer:
    1. Jeff:
      1. Jeff finds it entertaining how much the composer is struggling with the music and even relates it to his and Lisa’s relationship at one point. I think it is disconcerting for him when The Composer finally succeeds in finishing his song. I also think it is funny for Jeff to watch him when he comes home drunk. When he does finally succeed is surrounded by those who want to help him Jeff is caught up in something else but I think he is also purposefully ignoring him, because he doesn’t want to believe that all he needs to do is put in the work to make his and Lisa’s relationship work. He would rather struggle on than admit that he and Lisa could make it work.
      2. There are two possible scenarios involving both Miss Lonelyhearts and the Composer represent Jeff and Lisa.
        1. One is Jeff is supposed to represent Miss Lonelyhearts and Lisa is the Composer. In this case I think Jeff does not realize how truly lonely he would be without Lisa (or the Music) and is shown how empty his life would be and unbearable it would be. He watches how it isn’t even worth living without love. I think in this case Lisa and the Composer are both trying to finish a thought or force a conclusion but are struggling with it. Lisa is trying to get Jeff to commit to her and the composer is trying to finish his piece.
        2. Two is Lisa is supposed to represent Miss Lonelyhearts and Jeff is the Composer. I think this is the most likely as Lisa knows what she wants but is waiting for the perfect person to recognize her just like Miss Lonelyhearts. While Jeff isn’t looking for love just yet but focused on his career and can’t pursue love until he accomplishes what he set out to do.
      3. Lisa:
        1. Lisa admires the music and thinks it is beautiful. She is the first to introduce the idea that it is like her and Jeff’s love. Which of course then makes her angry as Jeff comments on how he is struggling with it. I think Lisa wants the Composer to succeed so that Jeff might see that they can succeed as a couple.
      4. The Newlyweds:
        1. Jeff:
          1. Jeff watches how “happy” the Newlyweds are to be married. He also sees how every time the man comes to the window to look out or smoke his wife calls him back inside. I think Jeff thinks they are funny. He thinks it is something that will wear off and he sees the nagging of the wife as an interference to the husband’s life. I would almost go so far as to say that Jeff thinks that the Newlyweds are the precursor to the Thorwalds. Where the man can’t do anything for his own without his wife interfering.
        2. Lisa:
          1. Lisa never sees anything of the newlyweds but the curtain and their appearance at the sound of the dog-lady screaming. She does see Jeff’s reaction to them and I think it makes her angry. Lisa wants to be in that sort of relationship with Jeff but he is refusing to commit.
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Much Ado About Nothing Blog Post

My heart wants to judge this play by today’s standards, but to do so would be a discredit to the play as well as its author. Shakespeare was rather far sighted for his time which he helped to sculpt in society through theater. In this play specifically humor showcases his opinion at the traditional marriages of the time.

While Hero and Claudio are not the loving couple we might wish for in today’s society they are fortunate youths for the time. Hero marries a man whom is supposedly handsome, in good standing with a Prince, and a war hero. Though Claudio seems a bit of a brute he is unlikely to take her to far from her home as they will inherit her father’s estates. For many women of privilege during the time Claudio would be a catch. There is also the off chance that the accusations lobbied at Hero during their first wedding could have later tarnished her reputation if Claudio had not married her.

Claudio gets much more out of their union than Hero, but I suppose that is to be expected. Claudio will inherit Hero’s family land as her father and her uncle’s only heir. Claudio gains a supposedly beautiful maid whom he will be allowed to tarnish. As well as the stereotypical wife whom is likely to never raise her head above the finery of her clothes and the gossip of the time. So all in all both walk out of the play with what they wished to acquire in the beginning of the play. IF they are happy how can we as an audience be unsupportive?

As I spoke of what Claudio and Hero gained I suppose we can speak on what Beatrice and Benedict gained from their union. Benedict gained the dreaded wife he seemingly could not comprehend wanting. Now I am unsure of what Beatrice’s dowry and inheritance might be, so Benedict truly walks out of the play with little more than he walked in with. Beatrice gained the abhorrent husband with a beard (or at least we assume he has a beard). However, Benedict has the favor and friendship of a prince and other influential characters as well as being a war hero. Beatrice walks out in love as well as high standing. In this view it seems Hero and Claudio are the more fortunate pair.

Personally, I feel as if Beatrice and Benedict are a much more satisfying ending at least in a romantic aspect. Their love speaks clearly of equality and adoration. In almost any time period I feel their love would be much preferred. I wish we knew more about the feud between them at the beginning of the play. Their interactions speak of knowledge of one another. Their words while seemingly playful tend to be edged with a small blade of pain. Yet they still manage to (rather quickly) overcome their said hatred of the other and fall in love.  I am glad we see them get together at the end. We even see them overcome the lies their friends told to get them together.

Again I wish we had seen more than the briefest of interactions between them as they discovered their friend betrayal. It is interesting that their written love is stolen and then presented to the other by the hands of Hero and Claudio. Claudio and Benedict had just come out of an argument and their friend ship had not seemed overly close from the beginning of the play. Hero and Beatrice are a more likely friendship as they are kinswomen and bedfellows. However, there is a certain distance between the two women from Hero’s earlier remarks upon Beatrice’s character that never gets resolved. Also, Hero who marries for image presents the mind of the traditionally women roles that Beatrice rejects. If there was anything I wished for at the ending of this play it would be more resolutions for the characters in their mistaken noting of each other’s words.

Gwendolyn Brooks Blog Post: The Death of Boys

When you read Gwendolyn Brooks it is obvious that you must be aware of the society and community where which she lived. It is a black community with a range of different social standards however the most prevalent are the impoverished people in her community. With this in mind, you can bring most of what she writes about into present day impoverished black communities. Not much has changed and should serve to humiliate all of American Society.

In the poem “of De Witt Williams on his way to Lincoln Cemetery” we experience the assertion that all black boys are the same. That all black boys are just plain black boys with little to show for their lives. The term boy also does not mean child or at least we assume it does not because of the line,

“Where he picked his women, where

He drank his liquid joy.”

Instead, we know that the term black boy refers to most if not all age of black males. So now the assertion is even worse for not only are these people plain, but they are children. Claiming someone is a child has implications. These implications can range from children need to be taken care of and looked after; to the untrue but common implication of the simplicity of a child’s mind. Many people due to these implications do not appreciate being referred to as a child. Yet here we are, with a whole population of black males whether they are children or not being referenced as boys.

As a side note, many would also not appreciate being called plain. Plain can be a reference to being unoriginal and a non-individual entity. Plain can also mean not-very-bright, but that is basically covered in the assumption of these people being children so would be repetitive. Both of which cluster these people into one category and whole. These assertions diminish an individual with their own character into a stereotype, not a very pleasant stereotype.

In the poem, “The Boy Died in My Alley” we again encounter the word boy. Now the word is capitalized but holds all the same assertions as the previous encounter with the word had. This poem seems to be a continuation of the idea, however now it comes with a responsibility. The speaker has diminished the person to an average boy and thus killed him. Instead of trying to help or do anything for the boy the speaker ignores this person and the events that led to his death like they have done many times before. This is indicated in many lines like,

“The Shot that killed him yes I heard

as I heard the Thousand shots before;”

And I think this is the beginning of why “The Boy Died in My Alley” is more political and more relatable. Unfortunately, black culture runs synonymously as criminal. Seemingly only blacks can perpetrate crime. When something seemingly criminal happens to someone of black skin or to someone in a black community it is largely ignored. We might not know but we can assume that the reason the speaker has heard many shots in the alley is due to the fact they live in a criminally infested area. Where there are criminals we believe, due to cultural expectations, that there must be black people.

“Policeman said, next morning,

‘Apparently died Alone.’

 

‘You heard a shot?’ Policeman said.

Shots I hear and Shots I hear.

I never see the Dead.”

The second reason I believe that this poem is more political is the presence of the Police. I am unsure of the abilities of the police in the time that Gwendolyn Brooks lived, but why did it take till morning for the police to discover and investigate the death of the boy? Why did no one report this until the morning? Or if no one reported it why did it take till morning for the police to discover it? Perhaps it is simply due to the difference in time, but in my experience, if a person died of a gunshot in an alley the response would be almost immediate. Unless of course you live in a criminally infested area and people do not take notice of gunshots or running boys. Then again we are reminded that the speaker often hears gunshots and does nothing to report the crime. Then again we know that this is not the first death the alley must have seen because the speaker says they never, emphasis on never, see the dead. If this had been the first time why would you not have said I did not see the dead or the body?

As the poem continues we deal with the deal with the guilt of the speaker for not attempting to stop the boy’s death. Yet despite the speaker saying they killed the boy by not doing anything, we are left with the question of whether if such an occurrence were to happen again would the speaker do anything different. Would the speaker attempt to save the next boy?

“He cried not only ‘Father!’

but ‘Mother!

Sister!

Brother.’

The cry climbed up the alley.

It went up to the wind.

It hung upon the heaven

for a long

stretch-strain of Moment.

 

The red floor of my alley

is a special speech to me.”

Despite such a tremendous speech, it is only a moment to the speaker, and we have no assurance that the speaker would do anything differently the next time they hear a shot in their alley. This poem is a very strong message on the inability of people to change what they think is unavoidable. Whether that message is political or not I think depends on why the boy’s death is unavoidable. Are gunshots in the speaker’s alley always going bring death?

Walden Blog Post

In his book The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America, the critic Leo Marx writes that in Walden Thoreau “is clear . . . about the location of meaning and value”: “He is saying that it does not reside in the natural facts or in social institutions or in anything ‘out there,’ but in consciousness. It is the product of imaginative perception, of the analogy-perceiving, metaphor-making, mythopoeic power of the human mind.” Do you agree with Marx’s conclusions about Walden? Where does Thoreau seem to find “meaning and value” in the chapters you’ve read from the book, and in particular in the chapter “Spring”?

I cannot possibly agree with Marx’s conclusion on Walden and Thoreau. While it is true Thoreau speaks about the human consciousness and the power of the human consciousness, Thoreau spends more time simply describing nature, at his own leisure to promote tender thoughts towards Nature, than to question the value of the human consciousness.
“Beside this I got a rare mess of golden and silver and bright cupreous fishes, which looked like a string of jewels. Ah! I have penetrated to those meadows on the morning of many a first spring day, jumping from hummock to hummock, from willow root to willow root, when the wild river valley and the woods were bathed in so pure and bright a light as would have waked the dead, if they had been slumbering in their graves, as some suppose. There needs no stronger proof of immortality. All things must live in such a light. O Death, where was thy sting? O Grave, where was thy victory, then?”
In this quote Thoreau speaks of immortality as a connection to every other living thing; thus we all live forever together. And if we all live together forever then how can Death be our end and how can a grave claim victory over the deceased. The idea of immortality would have been expressed differently if Nature were only a backdrop to our thoughts and if our individual consciousness were the thing that lived forever. I think for Thoreau Nature is where meaning and value is stored and Nature is the only thing ‘out-there.’ Which is the reason for Thoreau being so adamant that we cherish the Earth and nurture Nature. Thoreau is afraid what will become of Humanity when there is no Nature left.
“A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener. So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts. We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and took advantage of every accident that befell us, like the grass which confesses the influence of the slightest dew that falls on it; and did not spend our time in atoning for the neglect of past opportunities, which we call doing our duty. We loiter in winter while it is already spring. In a pleasant spring morning all men’s sins are forgiven. Such a day is a truce to vice. While such a sun holds out to burn, the vilest sinner may return. Through our own recovered innocence we discern the innocence of our neighbors.”
In this quote from Spring by Thoreau I can begin to understand what Marx meant, but the thought remains incomplete and I am unsure where he made his final leap. Thoreau speaks of how the rain depresses the grass but then the grass grows greener than ever before. Thoreau goes on to explain that if Humans’ were like the grass we would be better off for it. If Humans, simply let the rain cleanse them and leave their sins in the rain, then they would not be so burdened. Then they would also be able to enjoy the sun and light all the more because they would no longer be sinners, but innocent and reborn in the world to become happier.
I can understand where Marx begins to see Thoreau talking about the Human consciousness. Thoreau says that our minds are what hold our value on guilt and consternation. That is the first piece to believing that the Human Consciousness holds the meaning and value of life, however Thoreau rarely if ever brings in the rest of the pieces. For example, Thoreau would have to believe humans own all that they see, and many times in Walden Thoreau speaks against such a trait. Thoreau believes in the equality between living things whether those beings are sentient or not. Also Thoreau would have to advocate for a separation between the mind and the body, and yet again Thoreau encourages us to use what our sense tell us to lead us in our thoughts. And the last piece would have to be Thoreau believing that nothing had value unless thought of by the Human Consciousness. And while Thoreau gives value to many things throughout Walden I do not believe he would think those things of less or no value if he had not thought of them.
In conclusion while I think Walden encourages us to be introspective, I do not believe that was Thoreau’s main purpose. I think his purpose was to encourage people to find a balance between introspection and observance of the living world. I think Thoreau would balk at the idea of Human Consciousness being the sole provider of meaning to the world. I also think that Thoreau believes that all lives are connected and that is what gives life meaning is our relations to one another not how we view one another.

The Great Gatsby

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Nick is a character with romantic tendencies especially when he is being reflective. I think having such a tendency comments on the reliability of what they say. Nick states on the last page of chapter three, “Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.”
Now, most truly honest people can admit to themselves that they are liars some of the time and even when not lying theirs is only one point of view and thus might be biased. Nick never seems to worry whether or not he is biased except in the very beginning when he quotes his father on the matter of criticizing people. Now the third paragraph of the first chapter show us how Nick tries to establish himself as a reliable narrator, however for suspicious-minded people, like me, this paragraphs phrasing seems dubious. I think this paragraph also teaches us one of the few things we can believe about Nick, “[he is] privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men.” Throughout the story, Nick is certainly the recipient of many secrets as well as many griefs. The curious thing about Nick is he tends not to act on the secrets instead Nick allows them to play out and watch the havoc they create from the side.

Another reason I have for not trusting Nick is although he says he reserves his judgments we see throughout the book that he is very biased in his views towards people. For example, the way he describes people has hints of biased language. Tom, Nick describes with much to say about simple physical characteristics.
“Now he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body- he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage- a cruel body.”
Now some men of a large frame can definitely be described as aggressive and dominant by their size; Nick takes it a step further to say not only is Tom aggressive but Tom is cruel, not only is Tom large but Tom is arrogant all from Tom’s physicality. Nick does mention later in the novel that he wrote this novel later and thus we can assume that the following situations of the novel may play into his original descriptions. If Nick were truly non-judgmental, or at the very least wished to reserve from speaking about his judgments, Nick would have delivered less personal descriptions of the characters. The readers are meeting these characters for the first time and his readers deserve the chance to form their own judgments.

Now that we have spoken about Nick’s reliability as a narrator we can comment on one of his ending comments in the novel.
“And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes–a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.” This comment can mean many things however if we were to consider that Nick (a.k.a. Fitzgerald) meant to relate Gatsby’s Dream and the American Dream, then we can believe that Nick thinks that Gatsby is as great as America itself. The American Dream and Gatsby’s Dream an unusual pair; at first glance it may seem they are common and Gatsby fulfills such an amazing ideal. Yet if you break them down; though both are improbable, one has guidelines where the other is anything to achieve the goal.
The American Dream is commonly thought of as message declaring, “If you work hard, you can accomplish anything. You can start with nothing and hard work will pay into the extravagance of your choosing.” I think many in today’s society would agree that this is impossible. Hard work is not the only thing driving our chances at success; while a huge part, it is not the heart of achievement. Luck, money, influence, connections, motivation, talent all these items play huge roles in attaining triumph.
Gatsby has talent, drive, and assumedly is hard working, yet he is born from little his parents are farm people. As the novel comes along we learn Gatsby’s Dream is to have fame, fortune, and later Daisy. Gatsby gains fame and fortune but lacks Daisy. His fame and fortune also come at the cost of illegal activities and living a lie. Now, most people think the American Dream would be possible through legal means and as oneself. Not many would consider Gatsby as truly fulfilling his American Dream, because of the illegal activities he partakes in to as well as the fact that he does not achieve all aspects of his dream. Thus surely Nick cannot be comparing Gatsby and America due to their fundamental differences. The American Dream is an improbable ideal and Gatsby’s Dream an impossible illegitimate invention.

If we were to take this idea one step further, we might wonder if this is truly what Nick meant to portray. Gatsby’s life could be what is compared to the potential of a new world. Which any life can be described a new world with endless possibilities it is simply how you choose to use it. I personally think Nick was comparing Gatsby to those who first viewed America and saw it’s overpowering potential. Gatsby is mentioned more than once to see things as improbable but not impossible.
“Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” While those of us with rational minds realize that this is truly an impossibility, Gatsby viewed the world differently and from another view than that of a rational mind. Or at least that is what Nick would like us to think.