Saturday, June 29, 2013

Richard III – Grammar Stage (1st Level) Inquiry

After having breaking down the whole play in several Acts summaries, I am going to post the three stage inquiry required for my WEM Self Project. This is the first one, the grammar stage. The inquiries are slightly different from novels, histories or poems.

Death of the two little Princes

What is the initial question or tension?

The play is opened by the description of peace in England, when the Yorks and Lancasters are having peaceful relationship after war. Only Richard felt unhappy by this situation because of his ambition; he wanted to start another war. So, I guess the initial question is: What would Richard do to fulfill his ambition; can he take over the throne? 

Where is the point of greatest tension?

This play’s greatest tension is when the Major and citizens came to plead Richard to be their king—and Richard accepted it after declining a few times. I think it shows how Richard has calculated everything; he has got rid of any obstacles to the throne, and he even made the citizens plea to him. It is the sign of his genius, and it answers the initial question. Although unwanted and detested by his adversaries, Richard succeeded because he was clever enough to win citizens’ voices. Richard finally became the King of England!

Where does the play’s action reach its climax?

Although I still don’t get the difference between greatest tension and climax (aren’t they just the same?), I guess the point where the characters change (Richard in this case) is the night before the battle, when the ghost of Richard’s victims visited and cursed for his lost in the battle. Before that Richard was so confident that he would win as: 1). his army is bigger than Richmond’s, and 2). Richmond wasn’t well experienced in battle field. However, after the ghosts’ visits, his conscience began to disturbed him, and the prophecies began to lead his spirit down. I believe this had an influence to his defeat (besides his ex-people’s betrayal).

Where is the resolution?

The last scene after Richard was killed in battle, and the others gave the crown to Richmond. Richmond then brought peace once again into England by putting the Yorks’ and Lancasters’ eternal enmity to an end.


Friday, June 28, 2013

An Ideal Husband

Every man of ambition has to fight his century with its own weapons. What this century worship is wealth. The God of this century is wealth. To succeed one must have wealth. At all costs one must have wealth.” (Sir Robert Chiltern—An Ideal Husband)

Once again I was amazed by Oscar Wilde—this guy is really cool, isn’t he? After having been impressed by The Picture of Dorian Gray—Wilde’s masterpiece for me—Wilde made me laughing hard at his witty sarcasm in Importance of Being Earnest. After that I was a little worried whether his other plays would be exactly like Importance; very funny but lack of deeper values. I was wrong! This month I picked An Ideal Husband for Let’s Read Plays and, fortunately, The Classics Spin also picked the play from my list by spitting the lucky number 6! So there I was, plunging into the fraudulent scheme, political twist, love story and morality of British society in 19th century. And, although the beginning is rather flat, An Ideal Husband turns out to be one of the most entertaining plays I’ve ever read so far; and more importantly, it’s much deeper than Importance!

Sir Robert Chiltern is an honorable gentleman in society, and respectable politician in the House of Parliament. He was appraised by so many people, but little do they know that Chiltern had done a shameful deceit in his earlier career, from which he has been building his later career and fortune. Lady Chiltern is also a high reputation ‘flawless’ lady in the society. She adores her husband for being pure and noble. In a party one night, a crafty woman named Mrs. Cheveley blackmailed Sir Chiltern to support a fraudulent scheme that he disapproved in the House, or otherwise she would release an old letter that will prove Chiltern’s deceit in public and will ruin his life.

Lord Goring, a young gentleman who leads an easy going, fashionable and enjoyable life style, is a closest friend of Robert and Gertrude Chiltern. Being sarcastic and indifferent outside, Arthur Goring is actually a kind hearted friend inside. When Robert and Gertrude were on the edge of losing each other’s love following the blackmail, Arthur separately tried to help them. Unfortunately, several trivial accidents put Arthur in a complex situation himself; he almost lost his friends’ trust and, most importantly, the young lady he was in love with.

As always, Wilde’s strength in plays is the combination of intertwining plot, complex failures, sarcasm paradoxes to criticize British society at that time, and his clever wittiness. But particularly in this play, Wilde plunged deeper than merely witty banters. My favorite character here is Lord Goring, he’s as easy going as Lord Henry in Dorian Gray or Algernon in Importance, but he also possessed a wise philosophy beneath his indifferent manner, which was always ready to be presented whenever his friends needed it. Far from being shallow, Goring’s advices to Robert and Gertrude were so genuine and useful at the same time. My favorite scene is when Lord Goring gave his speech to Lady Chiltern after the lady restrained her husband from accepting seat in Parliament. Here’s part of it:

Women are not meant to judge us, but to forgive us when we need forgiveness. Pardon, not punishment, is their mission. […] A woman who can keep a man’s love, and love him in return, has done all the world wants of women, or should want of them.”

In the end, Wilde wants to criticize how British society has been worshiping wealth and status too much that they neglected the genuine values in life: love and honesty. When Robert Chiltern consulted with Arthur Goring after the blackmail, Goring’s first advice is to confide to his wife; that Lady Chiltern loves him and thus will forgive him. On the other hand, Goring also advised Lady Chiltern to forgive his husband, and instead of blaming him, to accept and support him with her love. From the Chilterns’ conflict, I learn that every family, every person must sometimes have crisis in life; but that crisis often get bigger than it should because we are reluctant to be honest. As soon as the Chilterns opened themselves to each other, one by one the complicated problems were eventually unraveled.

Wilde is also emphasizing women’s role in the society. Instead of expecting their husband to be perfect and worshipping them like gods, they should act as a partner by loving and supporting them. It’s really interesting that the philosophy must come from Lord Goring, who was a bachelor. With that quality of perspective, we should envy whichever girl Arthur Goring picks to marry, for he would certainly be an ideal husband!

Four and a half stars for An Ideal Husband, really entertaining!


Let’s Read Plays (June) theme: Oscar Wilde
Baca Bareng BBI 2013: (June) European Literature

Monday, June 24, 2013

Richard III - Act IV - V Summaries

Read my previous summaries of Act I – II, and Act III before continuing to these last acts of Richard III.

Act IV

Scene I

Duchess of York, Queen Elizabeth and Lady Anne were rejected to meet Prince Edward and Duke of York in the Tower, and the news that Richard would be crowned as King broke. Lady Anne was reluctantly became a queen because she felt that she’s been haunted by her own curse to Richard, that his wife will suffer much. Everybody was leaving, Anne to be queen, Dorset to Richmond (Henry Tudor), Elizabeth back to sanctuary, but not before she, in sadness, bid farewell to the Tower walls that imprisoned her dear sons.

Scene II

From the throne, King Richard saw that Buckingham went softer and thus became untrustable. He then ordered a murderer called Tyller to kill Prince Edward and Duke of York in the Tower. Meanwhile Richard purposely refused to listen to Buckingham’s pleading for his reward, and Buckingham—reminded of Hastings’ faith, fled away to save his life.

Scene III

 It turned out that Tyrrel delegated the murder to his two villains, and they confessed to have wept before finally slaughtered the two innocent boys. After getting rid of his potential rival, now Richard planned to marry Elizabeth, younger daughter of Edward, to protect his throne from Richmond. Meanwhile Buckingham was marching over with his Welsh army, and Richard soon prepared for a battle.

Scene IV

It’s a witty scene when grieving mothers and wives: Duchess of York, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Margaret, sat down and compared their losses and blamed each other. After that Richard intercepted their way, and his mother cursed him of losing the battle because she and his dead enemies will bless for his adversary’s victory in war. Richard then asked Elizabeth to prepare her daughter to take his proposition to be his queen. Elizabeth rejected and after a long and smart debate with Richard, she finally agreed. Meanwhile, Richmond’s army also came to attack, persuaded by Buckingham and Dorset; while armies from different counties were preparing their armies as well. Buckingham was captured and Richard marched to Salisbury to fight the battle!

Scene V

Richard untrusted Stanley and kept his son in hostage. Stanley sent a letter containing his opinion to Richmond, as he could not risk his son’s life by helping Richmond openly.

Act V

Scene I

Buckingham was lamented that what he had wished to God jokingly, has been granted by God; now he was going to be executed, and Richard did not even come to speak to him.

Scene II

Richmond and his allies’ armies were approaching the battle field; Stanley seemed to update them with Richard’s army position. They believed Richard didn’t have many friends who would help him, and even among the less numbers, some would desert him when they needed it.

Scene III

Richard was confident at first because his army was three times their adversary. While he was planning his battle strategy in his tent, so was Richmond. Richmond sent a letter secretly to Stanley; while Richard instructed him (Stanley) to send his regiment if he cared for his son’s life. Stanley came to visit Richmond tent; giving him his silent support. Night before battle, ghosts of all Richard had murdered came and visited Richard—to curse him, and visited Richmond—to bless him. Richard was terrified by it, his conscience was disturbed, and he became more paranoid if his troops were deserting him. He was not well prepared mentally for the battle; while Richmond was in his good state with the ghost blessed him and he believed that God will bless he who fight against the wicked. In the last minute, Stanley sent news to Richard that he refused to send his army to the battle.

Scene IV

Richard fought like no man ever fights. He lost his horse, yet he bravely continued on fighting on foot, seeking Richmond.

Scene V

Richard finally fought Richmond, but he was finally killed. Richmond was crowned as King of England, and he reunited the Lancasters and the Yorks, ended years of their enmity, and began a peaceful era.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Weekend Quote 20: Richard III

“O momentary grace of mortal men,
Which we more hunt for than the grace of God!
Who builds his hopes in air of your good looks,
Lives like a drunken sailor on a mast,
Ready, with every nod, to tumble down
Into the fatal bowels of the deep.”

It’s Lord Hastings’ lamentation just before he was executed by the order of Richard III. He condemns men who only hunt mortal virtues rather than God’s wisdom; for their lives would be so vulnerable, that very little obstacles or crisis would draw them down.

Do you agree?

Weekend Quote is a meme hosted by by Half-Filled Attic. Feel free to join. You can:
  • Give the context of the quote
  • Give your opinion whether you agree or disagree with it
  • Share your experience related to the quote
  • Share similar quotes you remember
  • Or anything else. Just have fun with the quote.

Friday, June 21, 2013

How Are You Following Me? – Blog Update

First of all, I would like to thank all of you who have been following my blog, reading my posts, and sometimes commenting it. It might perhaps be a little annoying for us that Google has decided to turn off their Google Reader feature starting July, 2013. You know that Google Reader is a tool enabling us to get updates from blogs we have been following via Google Friend Connect or via RSS feed. It means that starting July 1st, you who have been following me via GFC would be missing my updates. Something must be done to prevent that, and so, this is what I have prepared for you…

There are some ways for you to follow my blog updates, please feel free to choose one or more that would be most convenient for you:

Bloglovin click to follow me

This is another blog feeds aggregator; some says it’s one of the best means to replace Google Reader. When you create a bloglovin account, they would automatically offer you to import all blogs that you are following via Google Reader to your bloglovin account. I like bloglovin so far, it looks very neat and simple; but I still haven’t found any way to find the numbers of my followers or who are following me (it’s like Google Reader without GFC). I do hope bloglovin will improve their features very soon—or is it just me who can’t find the way? Is there anyone more familiar with it who can guide me?

Follow by Mail – the widget to subscribe is at the right-outside sidebar 

If you don’t like to deal with too many social media sites and just want to stay conservative, maybe following me by mail would be more convenient. Just don’t forget to check your inbox right after you do the follow, because feedburner will send you an email and requires you to click the confirmation link before you can receive my updates in your e-mail.

If you have already set up a Google+ account and check it in regularly, you can also follow me here (or put me into your circle) to get my updates. As I own 3 book blogs, you can get updates of all these 3 blogs in one place (one follow for three blogs).

Those three are my recommendations, but you can also choose one or more from these features too if you like:

Networked Blogclick to follow me

Only if you have Facebook account and open it regularly; my posts updates will appear in your Facebook updates.

RSS Feedclick to follow me

This is operated by Feedburner too, but you will have more choices to subscribe to my updates. If you like to hang around with Yahoo, for example, you can subscribe using My Yahoo.


None of the above? Well…you can still following my updates if you place my blog in your blogroll. Actually, this is my favorite way of following blogs, and I have applied this for my favorite blogs.

That’s my update, and again, thanks for following me and reading my posts… :)

Dante’s Inferno – Final Review

Like Dante, “midway upon the journey of our life/I found myself within a forest dark…”, I too felt like being plunged into darkness when I decided to read a narrative poem of Dante’s The Divine Comedy, end of last month. Being a complete newbie in poems, I just braced myself to read Dante’s Inferno, the first of three parts. At first it seemed like I was going to enjoy the poem, but when I reached the middle, I doubted whether I’d ever finish it. There were many historical persons and events that Italian people in 14th century—or at least whoever studied Italian history—would have been very familiar with, but it was very annoying for us in modern days to follow Dante’s journeys without having to consult wiki or google almost every each circle! Besides that, the poetic lines were also intriguing me along the reading, that at the second half of the poem, I consulted more often a Dante’s translation site I’ve found on the internet; it’s indeed really helpful!

What intrigued me most of Dante’s journey in Hell is the opening stanza, where Dante confessed that he didn’t know how he could have suddenly arrived in Hell.

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

Dante warns us (who are in the midway upon our journey of life) to reflect where we are ‘standing’ right now. Perhaps we have done so many wrongs and sins in the past, that if God takes our life this very minute, we would go straight to Hell. And yes, how often it is that we find ourselves suddenly far away from the purity that God had granted us when we were born? Suddenly we find ourselves in the dark forest and could no longer see the straightforward pathway to Him. Here and now, it’s time to pause and resume our past journey to be able to rediscover that straightforward pathway to salvation. Reading The Divine Comedy might be the best choice to help us in our own struggles. Dante is very lucky that Beatrice—the woman he loved—took the initiative to send Virgil to guide him in a dangerous and terrifying journey to Inferno (but we are also lucky that Dante ever published this poem!), so that he could warn many people in the world.

Dante portrayed the Hell as a giant funnel built underground that leads to a narrow pit. It was Lucifer, who, when fallen so heavily from heaven, his body (head first) thrust deep down the earth and created the funnel. The narrowest and deepest pit contained of Lucifer’s head, and it held souls with the most severe sin and received the most savage punishment. From the Hell’s gate to the pit there were nine circles with different grades—of course—the deeper the circle, contained the more severe sinners with more severe punishments.

What makes Inferno more interesting—and in a way fit to bear ‘Comedy’ in the title—is how Dante put a lot of historical and mythical characters into each circles. Here you’d find respectable personages like poets, philosophers, and political leaders, historical and mythical figures (Julius Caesar, Brutus and Cassius, Achilles, etc.) were punished in different circles. In a way, it widened your knowledge, because you will be forced to dig about their stories to understand their sins and how Dante punished them so fittingly. It’s quite comforting, for example, to find that Brutus and Cassius were punished far below Julius Caesar; actually you would be surprised to find with whom Dante kept Brutus and Cassius here!

Dante is very detailed in describing each circle’s condition and the severity of the punishments, that it made me often shuddered just to imagine it; for we might read and imagine it in few minutes, but the souls must bear it ceaselessly and endlessly. You will be cringed only by thinking of it! And Dante ‘punished’ the sinners with the same means as the sins they had performed, how interesting it is!

I learned later from Matthew Pearl’s historical fiction: The Dante Club, that Dante has a military background before writing The Divine Comedy, because he fought with the army at a war (I forgot which war). That’s how he learned how some torments would create such tortures to men; something that either a physician or a soldier who survived a war would have known.

In the end, I think I still owed Dante to delve deeper in his poem. I have been more familiar with it now, and in the future I can use the translation (from poetic to prose) to help me exploring the beauty of Dante’s narrative poem. Until then, four stars for Inferno, and I can’t wait to proceed to Purgatorio!


I read e-book from Project Gutenberg, translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This book is counted for:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Richard III - Act III Summaries

Following my summaries of Act I and II, this is the seven scenes of Shakespeare’s Richard III of Act III.


Scene I

Prince Edward was disappointed for not finding his mother and brother welcoming him. Buckingham persuaded Cardinal to pick up Duke of York from the sanctuary, and the two brothers reunited. Richard insisted they both stayed up in the Tower. Meanwhile, Buckingham and Richard gathered allies to realize their plan; they would hold two councils the next day at the Tower. They sent Catesby to approach Hastings.

Prince Edward and Duke of York in the Tower

Scene II

Lord Derby was scared and sent messenger to Hastings, but Hastings was sure that there’s no danger as Catesby was a double agent for their advantage. Hastings rejected to join Richard, and he heard that Queen’s relatives were going to be headed.

Scene III

Lord Rivers, Grey and Vaughan were executed by Ratcliff at Pomfret.

Scene IV

In the council, Richard trapped Hastings by showing that he has been bewitched by Queen and Mistress Shore (which has been Hastings’ after King’s death). Hastings who naturally defended his mistress, was called traitor by Richard and was finally sent for death.

Scene V

Richard sent for Lord Mayor, accused Hastings for being traitor in front of him, and asked for his protection from citizens’ complaint. Richard then sent Buckingham to spread a good fake story about Prince Edward being a bastard son and lustful man to London citizens. Richard also sent for a priest and a learned bishop, then wrote order to forbid anyone seeing Prince Edward and Clarence’s children.

Scene VI

A scrivener (=professional copier) stated openly that he had an official indictment of Lord Hastings that he would read aloud in public outside St. Paul Cathedral.

Scene VII

Buckingham had spread the story of how bad Edward was and how fit Richard was to be King of England. When Lord Major and citizens came to propose Richard to be King, he pretended to accept it difficultly through such a ‘show’! At the end, it was the citizens who forced Richard to be King, not the other way round. What a clever and sleek game!


Dante’s Inferno – Third Level Inquiry

Following my second level inquiry, here are tasks of the third and final level inquiry, still for my WEM Self-Project.

Is there a moment of choice or of change in the poem?

Before entering the Hell, Dante seems to be in a comfort of his life. It is Beatrice (the woman he loves) who sends Virgil to guide Dante to the path of salvation. So, if there is a change, it would be in Dante himself, before and after he witnesses punishments and hopelessness provided for sinners, and in that he warns us to not fall into the same hole.

Is there cause and effect?

Dante must have related his own life and experiences in this poem, as most of the time he would speak about Florence and the city’s political movements. Besides historical and mythical characters, Dante also puts numbers of Florence people onto the circles of Hell. It seems that Dante wants to punish them for their failures (according to him). So, yes, I think there is cause and effect in Dante’s mind, and he might have reflected very hard to set those sinners and the level of their punishments.

What is the tension between the physical and psychological, the earthly and the spiritual, the mind and the body?

In writing those punishments in amazing details, Dante has tried to transform the physical experience he brought us to imagine, to a spiritual enlightenment. Whatever the sin, the punishments will take much longer and severe than the deeds; it makes us think how unworthy it is to ever do those sins!

What is the poem’s subject?

A warning to Florence people and to all human kind, that each sin must lead to a just punishment.

Do you feel sympathy?

I sympathize with all human kind who is at present still in their path of life. Many of us take it for granted in living our daily lives, making our worldly business the most real thing and treating religion as an abstract thing to do.

As for the characters in the Hell circles, maybe my sympathy goes to them who are in Limbo. Some of them might have lived a good life without sins, but because they were born before Christ or have not been introduced to Him, they must linger within the Limbo. It’s really not their choices, and in a way it’s almost unfair for them. But anyway, it reminds me too of how much I must be grateful that God had put me to be Christian.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Richard III - Act I - II Summaries

I read this Shakespeare’s play both for Let’s Read Plays (I skipped last February’s theme: History, and so would pay it off this month). I would also read this for my WEM Self-Project, and as usual, the first few posts would be dedicated for summaries, as inquired for the First Level Inquiry. Now, let us summarize Act I and II….

Act I

Scene I

In peace time Richard, who has a deformed body, was bored, and so he sets up an adversary between his brother Clarence and King Edward IV (Richard’s brother) so that Clarence would be imprisoned. After that he intends to marry Lady Anne after killing her husband and father-in-law.

Scene II

King Henry VI was stabbed just like Prince Edward, Anne’s husband. Anne was first enraged with Richard whom she knew was the murderer; but under his smart courting, Richard finally conquered the lady.

Scene III

Queen Elizabeth worried that the throne would go to King’s brothers, not to her too-young sons. Richard complained that Elizabeth had roused King’s dislike against him and Clarence, while Queen Margaret—who was King Henry’s widow—accused Richard and cursed everybody. In the end Elizabeth and everybody else seemed to take side with Richard.

Scene IV

Two murderers were sent by Richard to murder Clarence up in the Tower (prison). After reasoning with their own consciences and even debating with the-victim-to-be, Clarence was stabbed by one of the murderers, while the other one fled away.

Act II

Scene I

While dying, King Edward IV reconciled all the disputed factions within the family: the Queen, the Dukes, and Richard. King Edward regrets very much of Clarence’s death whose execution-warrant revision had come late (another trick from Richard!). The King accused the others for not pleading for Clarence’s life.

Scene II

King Edward finally died, and everyone agreed that a small train should dispatch The Prince to be crowned. Apparently Buckingham conspired with Richard to (I guess) kidnap and murder the Prince.

Scene III

Citizens foresaw that troubles will happen in their country after the King died; the factions of King’s and Queen’s relatives would be vying for the throne.

Scene IV

While waiting for Prince Edward’s arrival, a message came that Lord Rivers and Grey had been imprisoned by Richard and Buckingham. Queen, Duchess of York and young York fled to a sanctuary, carrying the Seal of England which had been trusted by Archbishop of York to the Queen.


Monday, June 17, 2013

My Favorite Opening Line: The Classics Club June Meme

Frankly speaking, I don’t usually pay too much attention to books’ opening lines. It is the closing line that is usually more memorable for me. If the later were the task for this month’s The Classics Club monthly meme, I would instantly have posted my answer, as there is indeed one closing line that I like to read again and again—I’ll keep that to myself to make you more curious, and who knows…CCP might bring that subject as our future meme topic? :)

So, unfortunately, this month’s meme topic is:

What is your favourite opening sentence from a classic novel (and why)?

And that made me think a bit harder to find the one perfect answer. There were several opening lines popped in my head (not before I refreshed my memory via the internet, though..):

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.”
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

“You better not never tell nobody but God.''
The Color Purple, Alice Walker

“124 was spiteful.”
Beloved, Toni Morrison

Why do those quotes likeable to me? Maybe because they represent each of the book’s soul perfectly, as if whenever we read those lines, we would instantly remember the emotion each of the books has set us when we read them.

But still, I cannot find any favorite from them just yet. Maybe, the one opening line from book that has the strongest effect upon me would always be…..

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
The Bible

Yes, it’s not a novel as required by the meme, so maybe it doesn’t really answer the meme, but it is my favorite opening line from any book I’ve ever read. It always takes my imagination to something I would never see nor experience; something far from any wild imaginations. It brings such a divine feeling, I think.


What about you, what is your favorite novel opening line?  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Dante’s Inferno – Second Level Inquiry

I was reading Dante’s first part of The Divine Comedy: Inferno, for my Well-Educated Mind Self-Project. I have worked out the first level inquiry by summarizing the cantos the last two weeks:

And now, here’s the task of second level inquiry, which requires us to analyze the technical construction of the poem. I’m really a newbie in poems (and narrative poems), but despite of the unfamiliarity, I’m glad to have picked Inferno as one of my WEM project; it has widen my knowledge about poems.

The basic narrative strategy

Dante’s Inferno tells a story, with a beginning, middle and end; it might be said to chronologically tell the poet’s journey to Hell and to witness how human being punished for his deeds while they were alive. Inferno describes Dante’s experiences both physically and mentally; it describes in detail physical places, objects, also sensations to represent how human’s sins were weighed.

The poem’s basic form

Inferno is definitely an epic poem; a long tale of Dante’s journey to Hell. And although there are not quite many heroic deeds in it, Virgil’s bravery to guide and protect Dante through dangerous obstacles from one circle to another is enough to make it epic.

The poem’s syntax

Dante uses quite a lot of poetic dictions to form his poem, although not entirely. For example:

When him I heard in anger speak to me
I turned me round towards him with such same
That still it eddies through my memory.

The lines

Inferno’s lines are often naturally divided into halves (hemistich), here’s one example from Canto I:

Then was the fear a little quieted
That in my heart’s lake had endured throughout
The night, which I had passed so piteously.

Here the second line is broken awkwardly, it is normally supposed to be ‘that in my heart’s lake had endured throughout the night’, then followed in the third line: ‘which I had passed so piteously’. But Dante purposely breaks it after ‘throughout’, why? I can only assume that Dante wants to emphasize ‘the night’, because Dante’s journey to hell represents the darkness in human’s soul. Everything seems dark, as dark as ‘night’.

The rhyme pattern

I think Dante uses both masculine rhyme and slant rhyme pattern here. Most of the last syllables are either accented or one-word syllables, and there are similar syllables in a stanza which are not really identical. One example, from the very first stanza of Canto I:

Midway UPON the journey of our LIFE
I FOUND myself within a forest DARK,
For the straightforward pathway had been LOST.

I’m not very good in English poems (as English is not my mother language), but I think ‘life’, ‘dark’ and ‘lost’ are all accented as well as one-word syllables. While ‘upon’ and ‘found’ are not identical, they have a similarity in the pronunciation.

Monologue or dialogue

In Inferno, the dialogue Dante has most often is with Virgil—the Roman poet—who becomes his guide (he has been staying at the Hell, and has been particularly instructed by Beatrice to guide Dante). Dante’s dialogue addressed to Virgil seems to be polite and kind, while Virgil’s is more critical but kind. Dante also carries on dialogue with souls who occupy each circle in Hell. Sometimes he pities them and is quite touched with their suffering, but quite often he is either angry or disgusted with what they have sinned. Sometimes Dante also has a monologue he addresses to his reader, expressing his feeling: fear or angry.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Character Thursday Is Temporarily Absent

I am very sorry to announce that I must stop my weekly meme: Character Thursday for the time being, due to—let’s say—a family crisis that I am enduring at this moment. The last two weeks have been for me like a nightmare. I am right now very exhausted both physically and mentally, and I just can’t stand to be forced to post every Thursday. I am thinking to stop Character Thursday feature at least until the end of this month (I haven’t read many classics lately anyway to give me ideas for character analysis). Hopefully everything would be normal again by next month (July).

Until then, I hope you would still be encouraged to post your own Character Thursdays, despite of my absence. I have opened a linky in my latest Character Thursday post, you can put your links there for the time being (it would be opened until July 31st). For you who have posted Character Thursday last week (June 6th), you can also put the link in the linky. I’ll try to squeeze my time to read your posts.

Meanwhile, I am still trying to work out the WEM tasks for Dante’s Inferno, so I would post every now and then anyway. I am right now reading a historical fiction that is correlated to Dante’s Inferno (The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl), but I still have Richard III and An Ideal Husband for June—which, hopefully, I can manage to read somehow. That’s all for now, I really hope my reading and blogging life would be back to normal very soon!.....

Friday, June 7, 2013

Dante’s Inferno – Canto XXVII - XXXIV Summaries

Here is the last eight cantos of Dante’s Inferno, you can read the previous ones here: CantoI – X, Canto XI – XVIII, Canto XIX – XXVI.

Lucifer, Dante & Virgil
Canto XXVII: From another flame came another voice, this time a soul from Romagna. Dante told him that Romagna wasn’t at war, but has been under tyranny’s power. As he’s sure that Dante will never leave the Hell to share his secret, the soul confided about himself to Dante. He was Guido da Montefeltro, formerly lived a tricky life, before he repented and became a Franciscan priest. But Pope Boniface intrigued him to fight Christians by promising him an advanced absolution before he committed sin, which Guido accepted. When he died, the devils took him of thievery, as absolution could not be received before committing a sin.

Canto XXVIII: Dante described terrible wounds suffered by souls in the ninth pouch which surpassed any other wounds from great wars. Their bodies were split open by the devil’s sword from chin to lower abdomen that their entrails hung between their legs; and when their bodies were closed again, they would be ripped open again and again. One of the souls was Mahomet who had been sowers of scandal and schism; and because of the division they had caused, their bodies were thus split as a punishment. Mahomet and other souls also sent their warning to them who still lived on earth.

Canto XXIX: Virgil reprimanded Dante as he was so absorbed to what he was watching that he didn’t notice a soul (his cousin) who had died unavenged, called on him. And so Virgil and Dante have reached the bottom of the eight circle: the tenth pouch, where Dante heard piercing groans, a place to punish forgers. The souls here were very sick; and they were languishing in scattered heaps, lying or crawling. Two of them had their bodies full of itchy scabs which they scratched incessantly without end. One of them had deceived someone by gaining money for teaching the other to fly, and thus he was condemned by practicing alchemy. This was the first of four zones in the tenth pouch: the punishment for falsifiers of metals.

Canto XXX: Entering the second zone of ten pouch, Dante recalled Greek myth stories of how men could treat each others like animals. One soul, Myrrah, disguised as another person to be able to commit incest with her father. These people had sinned of falsifier of other’s person. Some from third zone also mingled here; the sinners of falsifier of coin, represented by Master Adam—a Florentine money counterfeiter who produced coins with St. John Baptist’s stamp—whose punishment was being eternally thirsty. A woman, who falsely accused a man of seducing her, was placed in the fourth zone for falsifier of words (liars). The souls here were punished with burning fever. Dante was spellbound by the scenes and was eager to listen to them, which Virgil reprimanded as a vulgar desire.

Canto XXXI: Dante and Virgil were on the bank of the eighth circle. Dante saw high towers through the thick mist, which turned out to be Giants who stood on the pit. Their navels were on the same level as the eight circle, while their lower bodies were on the ninth circle, at the bottom of the Hell. One of them, Nimrod, had helped building the Tower of Babel and spread confusion of different language throughout the world. Then they met Antaeus, whom Virgil persuaded to carry them in the Giant’s hands to be lowered to the ninth circle, where traitors were punished.

Canto XXXII: Dante tried to describe the horror of the lowest part of the pit in the ninth circle. It was a frozen lake—Cocytus—whose surface was like thick glass because of the terrible coldness. The sinners sat in the ice, frozen, with their teeth chattering. On the first ring, Caina (from Cain), Dante met two souls compressed together head to head in the frozen ice, butting their heads in rage; they were traitors to their kin. In the second ring (Antenora), Dante accidentally kicked the head of a soul which turned out to be Bocca’s, who was punished as traitors to their homeland or party. Then Dante saw two souls, savagely gnawing each other’s head in hatred, and Dante interrogated them.

Canto XXXIII: The two souls were Count Ugolino who was imprisoned without food by Archbishop Ruggieri. Ugolino was imprisoned with his sons, so when the sons died, he ate their fleshes out of hunger. Dante and Virgil forwarded to the third ring (Ptolomaea) where Dante felt a cold breeze, and Virgil said they were about to find the source. Here souls were lying in the ice, only their heads protruded from it; the punishment for traitors to their guests. They still lived on earth, but so great their sins were, that their soul must suffer in Hell before they died, while their bodies on earth were taken over by demons.

Canto XXXIV: Now Dante and Virgil arrived at the lowest bottom of the Hell, the fourth ring of the ninth circle (Juddeca). Through the thick mist Dante saw a tall figure such as a mill which breathed cold wind which he could not figured out the source. Under his feet, souls were completely buried in the ice in various positions. Then Dante saw Lucifer the Satan, a three headed enormous giant with three mouths and three enormous wings, from which came the icy cold winds that freeze Cocytus. Each mouth held a sinner; they were the traitors to their Benefactor, the greatest sin of all. The teeth chewed their bodies ceaselessly without ever killing them. In the first one was Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus Christ; he was chewed head first while his legs protruded from the mouth. In the second and third ones were Brutus and Cassius, both murdered Julius Caesar; their heads hanging downwards. After these scenes, Virgil told Dante that he had seen all in Hell, and must leave soon.

With efforts Virgil climbed through Lucifer’s giant body to bring Dante and himself climbing from the center of the earth. Dante was amazed to see Lucifer’s body now turned upside down, and Virgil explained that they have passed the center of the earth, and now they were on the ground again, where life was. When Lucifer fell from Heaven, he thrust down into earth head first and stuck in the center; that has made some changes even on the hemisphere too. But now, through hidden path Virgil guided Dante to emerge to clear world where they saw stars glittering in the sky again.


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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Perry Smith - In Cold Blood: Character Thursday (65)

In a crime story, Perry Smith would definitely be the antagonist, because he is the murderer. However, In Cold Blood is not merely a crime story; it is a warning for us that the whole society is responsible to build either good or bad people. Murderers or criminals are not born as criminals at first; they are all born as innocent babies; they start life as we all do: as a blank sheet of paper, ready to be filled with scripts of life.  Here in this story, Perry Smith is not only a villain, he is also a victim.

The series of failure in the development of little Perry has begun—at least—from his parents. After his father decided to have contraband alcohol business for living, Perry’s mother began to get drunk, and other bad things started to follow. They quarreled often, and I guess peace and love have slowly evaporated from their home and family, replaced by violence. Perry was a child with sensitive and tender heart who should be taken in special care; he needed love, affection and tenderness much more than anybody else with different personalities. These violent episodes in the family, unfortunately, happened on the very important phase of Perry’s early development.

After that, his parents separated, and Perry must enter several institutions, and there he did not get any better treatment either. And that because people failed to understand Perry’s needs. If only they gave him love, acceptance and support, I believe it is not too late to bring him to the right path. But, it never happened, and with all the violence he got, he got worse. As a result, Perry grew up as a man with hatred and grudge deep inside him. In the surface he might be a feminine man who loved poetry and cared about others (he really provided comfort for his victims-to-be before he killed them), but inside, he still bore the needs to inflict upon people who had treated him cruelly and unfairly, people who had humiliated him.

The interesting aspect here, is how Perry put the blame not on several certain people who had really troubled him, but on the whole world. It was between he, Perry, and the world. At the end, the instinct of killing occupied him. It didn’t matter who the victim would be, the only matter was that Perry needed to let the world know what they had done to him.

That is my Character Thursday of this week, an analysis of book character of my choice, who is yours?... Just put your post URL in the linky below. Do you like to join us in discussing characters from books you read? See the details of Character Thursday first.