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A Room of One’s Own Essay

March 24th, 2010 No comments

“…I am sorry to break off so abruptly. Are there no men present? Do you promise me that behind the red curtain over there the figure of Sir Chartres Biron is not conclead? We are all women you assure me? Then I may tell you that the next words I read were these- ‘Chloe liked Olivia…’ Do not start. Do not blush. Let us admit in the privacy of our own society that these things sometimes happen. Somtimes women do like women.” -Virgina Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

This quote so interests me because it gets at the views on homosexuality not just of Virgina Woolf’s time, but of the views of many centuries before her. Only recently has the issue of homosexuality been publicly discussed and debated, and even now there are still many who are uncomfortable or against the subject. Therefore, with a subject that is still so adamantly argued today, one can only expect that the ideas were even more narrow-minded concerning homosexuality dating back for centuries.

Historically, the subject of homosexuality has been kept very hidden and private from the public. Obviously the idea and practice of homosexuality has existed for centuries, if not since the caveman, but the degree with which one was free to discuss it has changed dramatically. As reference, for example, we know that Sappho was a lesbian based on her letters and poems to women, but she could never come out and express such an idea openly to the public. The paragraph directly following this quote from A Room of One’s Own begins, “it struck me how immense a change was there. Chloe liked Olivia perhaps for the first time in literature. Cleopatra did not like Olivia.” This demonstrates that in Woolf’s time even the idea of discussing homosexuality in a public forum was revolutionary. As she describes, never before had there been a novel where a girl was in love with a girl or even a man was in love with a man. Additionally, in her preface to the actual discussion of homosexuality in literature, she makes the point of glancing around the metaphorical room of readers in order to ensure that there are no men around. This seems indicative of the ideas of the time, as though some of these ideas were finally able to be discussed in literature, the idea of discussing it with men was still considered taboo. Read more…

Seamus Heaney Essay

September 3rd, 2009 No comments

“Blackberry-picking,” by Seamus Heaney, can be seen as a multi layered cake. There is the obvious physical attraction of a beautifully written poem as there is a grandly frosted cake, but once tasted, the poem can tell different stories as a cake can reveal different flavors. There is a literal reading of the poem, but the poem can also be read as a struggle between man and nature and the natural mental progression from childhood through adult hood.

Man possesses a preoccupation with opposing and fighting the world in which he lives. In spite of all the good that nature has done unto him, man possesses an inherent force, perhaps stemming from the Freudian id (the one of the three divisions of the psyche in psychoanalytic theory that is completely unconscious and is the source of psychic energy derived from instinctual needs and drives), which causes him to create conflict with the rest of the universe. (http://www.m-w.com) Throughout literature, humans have tried to oppose nature. Such epics as Beowulf and Gilgamesh contain heroes that fight against nature’s creation but suffer a tragic end and the hands of the universe. In “Blackberry-Picking,” Seamus Heaney grasps this theme of the eternal conflict between nature and man, and impresses this premise into an idea as simple as blackberry-picking. The author reverses the common structure of the words “Picking Blackberries” to “Blackberry-Picking.” This reversal may signify the importance of “Blackberries” from the singular form “Blackberry,” thereby leading the reader to infer that the poem transcends the denotation of picking blackberries. Also, the singular form of the title may serve to emphasize that Heaney focuses the poem on one single theme which pervades the entirety of the poem. Through the physical notion of the action of blackberry-picking, Seamus Heaney employs poetic devices ranging from imagery to metaphor; illuminating his universal theme of the eternal struggle of the force of man versus the force of nature. Read more…