Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Ends With a Virus!

My mommy and I on Christmas Eve.
Some people like to end the year with a bang, but me?  I decided to end it with a virus.  A computer virus to be more specific and it partially explains why I haven't had a new blog post since the 19th.  Well, that and life got busy but I'll talk about that a little later on.  As far as the virus goes, my poor little laptop has been hanging on by a thread for a long time.  Years really.  It would shut off at random or freeze up or do anything at all to upset me.  That seemed to be its main goal in life:  upsetting me.  And with its life's purpose fully realized it has bitten the dust, kicked the bucket and gone to meet its maker.  Some computer experts declared it officially dead on December 30th, 2011.  Cause of death:  a vicious computer virus that destroyed the hard drive.  May my Toshiba rest in peace.

So now I'm writing this from a borrowed computer, which I could have done sooner if it weren't for the fact that I've been too busy.  I naively thought that Christmas break would provide me with some kind of rest and relaxation, but that hasn't been the case.  Work at the diamond store continued on, of course, and in the week leading up to Christmas, any time spent outside of my 40-hour workload was spent getting together with friends and family and shopping, shopping, shopping.  Brian and I visited my Uncle Greg and his family for an evening, went to a birthday dinner for Michelle's brother-in-law at Tucano's Brazillian Grill, entertained Brian's cousin Patrick who visited from Logan for a few days, baked deserts for the Kesler family Christmas party at the Culinary Crafts kitchen where Brian works, attended said Kesler family Christmas party, and then packed and boarded a plane to Boise, Idaho to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my mom and siblings. 

Christmas at my mother's was so much fun, even if our trip to Boise was a short one (and the plane ride even shorter).  We flew in on the morning of the 24th and spent the day playing games and catching up with my family after checking out the new animated movie The Adventures of Tintin which everyone enjoyed.  That night was a traditional holiday dinner of ham with all the fixings followed by more games, more conversation and more merriment.  Christmas morning was on a Sunday so we all went to church (sinners included) and opened presents afterward.  Santa was good to us, and Brian and I barely managed to get everything back home with us!  So many awesome presents, including a new iPod!  I'm really excited to take it with me to the gym.

And speaking of the gym, Brian and I have decided that getting in shape is one of our main focuses in 2012 so we have signed up with Planet Fitness.  I even spent $120 today buying workout clothes and athletic shoes.  So if I don't want to put my money to waste, I better commit to getting healthy!  And with work and school, it won't be easy to get to the gym, but I better make it work!  If not, I might find myself in the same situation as my poor laptop:  dead with an incurable virus.

Here's hoping for a happy, healthy 2012!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ann Cannon Interview

Author Ann Cannon
Ann (A.E.) Cannon is living the life I want.  There, I said it.  Plain and simple, our lives need to be swapped.  She’s a published author—having written several books for young adults including Amazing Gracie, Charlotte’s Rose and the children’s series Pirate Pete and Pirate Joe—and she’s also written columns for Deseret News and The Salt Lake Tribune.  When she’s not busy writing, she’s selling books at the King’s English Bookshop in Salt Lake City and teaching creative writing workshops to aspiring young writers.
 
Wouldn’t you say her life is swap-worthy?  I would.  I even went so far as to tell her so in an email:  “Dear Ann Cannon, I want your life.”  When I asked for her advice to a would-be writer, one of the things she said was to enter as many writing contests as I could.  In fact, she told me that her first young adult book to be published, Cal Cameron by Day, Spiderman by Night, was the result of her entering the Delacorte Press Prize.  “That’s why I always tell people to enter contests,” she said.  “You never know what you might win.”

But that’s not all she did to get started.  As a grad student at Brigham Young University, she realized that most of her peers were doing lots of writing, but they were not actively trying to get their work published.  She decided to go for it, submitting her work to anyone and everyone.  “Obviously I got rejected a lot,” she said, “but eventually I started having things published in local publications… and then I started selling short fiction to national teen magazines about the same time.”  And apart from creative fiction which she readily admits is her “first love,” she also wrote manuals for multi-level marketing companies, instructions, radio scripts and pretty much any job that came her way.  “Whenever projects came along, I never said no.”

Her published short stories in LDS magazines such as the New Era led to a job with the Deseret News where she was a columnist for many years.  Unfortunately, new management came in and fired almost half of the staff.  She didn’t lose her job, but she didn’t want to wait around and see what was going to happen so she contacted The Salt Lake Tribune.  “They hired me on the spot,” she said.  I’ve read many of her columns in that publication and she’s always fun to read.  Her December 2nd piece was entitled “If Only We Could See Ourselves as Others See Us” and talked about her recent cataract surgery, humorously relating it to our inability to see what others are thinking.

She’s very relatable and funny, that Ann Cannon.  That might be part of her success.  At the bookstore she gets an opportunity to connect with people that’s very different from the way she connects with a reader through writing.  It’s more one on one.  And although she says the everyday tasks of sweeping and shelving are menial, she adds, “It's thrilling to see all the new books out there and to talk to people about what they've read and loved.  The workshops are fun, too, because I always learn a lot from my students--even those who see themselves as beginners.”

And that’s me.  I’m a beginner.  So I asked her to please give me her very best advice so that I could one day be an Ann Cannon.  Her answer was less rosy than I expected, but very solid.  She said, “Well, quite honestly I would say to have a backup plan.  Most writers have to cobble together an existence like teaching/writing/speaking in order to make ends meet.  But don't let that stop you.  Go for it.”  And do you know what?  I think I will.  Because if Ann Cannon can, why can’t I?      

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Edward II: The Death of a Homosexual King of England

According to a quote from French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, “The ass is the secret femininity of males, their passivity” (Bredbeck 31).  This is a rather shocking quote to open with, but a perfectly suitable one for both the subject of homosexuality and the murder of England’s King Edward II done supposedly by a hot poker thrust into his anus.  This paper will discuss the homosexual relationships of  Edward II that led to such a messy end—pun intended—while comparing actual facts to retellings by authors of the Elizabethan Era such as a sonnet by John Taylor and the play entitled Edward II by Christopher Marlowe.

Edward II was born in 1284 to King Edward I, and even as a young boy displayed certain tendencies that caused his parents to question his masculinity.  According to Caroline Bingham, author of The Life and Times of Edward II, the young Edward was a fan of gardening who displayed little interest in jousting.  The King thought his son would benefit from some male influences, and he appointed Piers Gaveston as his squire.  Unfortunately, the two fell in love instead.  Bingham writes, “When the king’s son saw him he fell so in love that he entered upon an enduring compact with him” (Bingham 35).  The two became inseparable, and King Edward I sought early to break them apart.  He even went so far as to send his son away for a summer in 1305 because he feared that his son “had an inordinate affection for a certain Gascon knight” (Costain 187).

The puppy love between the young boys persisted and found new strength when King Edward I passed away in 1307, relinquishing the crown to Edward II, then only 23 years old.  Straightaway the young monarch appointed Gaveston as Earl of Cornwall and the two lovers were married… to women.  Gaveston married Edward’s niece, and Edward married Isabella of France.  Just after Edward and Isabella’s wedding, Gaveston arrived dressed in jewelry that had been a gift from Isabella’s father to Edward… causing some jealousy on Isabella’s part.  As a humorous article from the e-zine History House states, “It’s simply bad form when your homosexual lover shows up wearing your wedding presents a few days after the ceremony.” (History House).

Isabella wasn’t the only one to be jealous.  Many of Edward’s peers—a group of barons and earls—were upset that the king spent all of his time whoring around with another man.  Homosexuality, as explained in Gregory W. Bredbeck’s Sodomy and Interpretation, while not unheard of was definitely not accepted.  Actually, it was abhorred.  Bredbeck writes, “A large number of derogatory terms became associated with people who engaged in sodomy—pathic, cinaedus, catamite, buggerer, ingle, sodomite—and legal writings of the time express a definite attitude of abhorrence” (Bredbeck 5).  The barons conspired together and had Gaveston exiled to France.

And here is where 16th century author Christopher Marlowe’s play Edward II begins, with the exiled Gaveston returning to England.  Marlowe’s Gaveston has just received a letter from the king requesting that he return, and Gaveston is overjoyed at the prospect of seeing his lover.  He opens with a monologue, saying, “Ah, words that make me surfeit with delight!/ What greater bliss can hap to Gaveston/ Than live and be the favourite of a King!/ Sweet prince, I come!/ These, these thy amorous lines/ Might have enforced me to have swum from France,/ And, like Leander, gasped upon the sand,/ So thou wouldst smile, and take me in thine arms” (Marlowe)

When the two finally meet a little later, Edward’s words reflect the same intimacy that Gaveston speaks of and also show that he cares more about his lover than about his country.  He says, “What, Gaveston, welcome, kiss not my hand;/ Embrace me, Gaveston, as I do thee./ I have my wish, in that I joy thy sight;/ And sooner shall the sea o'erwhelm my land/ Than bear the ship that shall transport thee hence” (Marlowe).  A destructive flood would be better than seeing his dear friend leave his side.

Edward also bestows upon him various titles, saying, “I here create thee Lord High Chamberlain,/ Chief Secretary to the state and me,/ Earl of Cornwall, King and Lord of Man” (Marlowe).  Gaveston humbly replies, “My lord, these titles far exceed my worth,” but Edward insists, “Thy worth, sweet friend, is far above my gifts:/ Therefore, to equal it, receive my heart” (Marlowe).  It is easy to see why so many noblemen would be jealous of Gaveston—being so favored—and Bredbeck makes the argument that perhaps Gaveston’s love for Edward was nothing more than a love for money and power.

“I must have wanton poets, pleasant wits,/ Musicians, that with the touching of a string/ May draw the pliant king which way I please,” says Gaveston (Marlowe).  Here he clearly makes a reference to manipulating the king to get what he wants and, as Bredbeck explains, Marlowe’s Gaveston is painted with a “broader discourse of political ambition and power.  Gaveston begins his speech with the seemingly innocent question, ‘What greater bliss can hap to Gaveston/Than live and be the favourite of a king?’, but his ending to the speech indicates that ‘favourite’ is something other than a position of personal affection” (Bredbeck 58).

But one’s true motivations are always subject to speculation.  It is difficult to know if Gaveston’s feelings towards the king were anything less than genuine, but we do know that Edward truly loved Gaveston, at least enough to constantly defend his lover under threat of civil war, even when Gaveston was in ever-present danger of being exiled from the country, or worse, murdered by Mortimer and the other scheming peers.  Nobody else in the court liked Gaveston, and Edward’s relationship with him made the king unpopular.  John Taylor writes a poem from Edward’s perspective, saying, “But all these fickle [joys] did fading end,/ Pierce Gaveston, to thee my love combinde:/ My friendship to thee scarce left me a friend,/ But made my Queene, Peeres, People all unkind” (Taylor).

Notice how he mentions the queen in his list of “unkind” people.  The relationship between Edward and Gaveston was so strong that Queen Isabella often felt neglected.  She wrote a letter to her father saying, “I am the most wretched of wives.  [Edward] is a stranger in my bed” (Bingham 67).  The character of Isabella as portrayed in Marlowe’s Edward II embodies this same sense of loneliness and longing.  In Act One Scene Two, she begins to walk away and Mortimer asks her where she is going.  She says, “Unto the forest, gentle Mortimer,/ To live in grief and baleful discontent;/ For now my lord the King regards me not,/ But dotes upon the love of Gaveston./ He claps his cheeks and hangs about his neck,/ Smiles in his face, and whispers in his ears;/ And, when I come, he frowns, as who should say,/ ‘Go whither thou wilt, seeing I have Gaveston’” (Marlowe).

As the plot of Marlowe’s play goes, all the various earls and the older and younger Mortimer go to the Pope and get Gaveston banished once more, this time to Ireland.  Edward is racked with grief and upset with his wife, insisting that she played a part in this.  He says, “Thou art too familiar with that Mortimer,/ And by thy means is Gaveston exiled,/ But I would wish thee reconcile the lords,/ Or thou shalt ne'er be reconciled to me” (Marlowe).  Throughout the text of the play she protests the accusation of an affair with Mortimer, but in reality, Queen Isabella did take up a lover named Roger Mortimer and did conspire to kill Gaveston (New World Encyclopedia).

Gaveston is eventually murdered by beheading and Edward is distraught…at least momentarily.  In the play he soon meets a young man named Spencer—known historically as Hugh le Despenser—who worms his way into the king’s good favor just as Gaveston did.  Stephen Greenblatt, author of Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare, says “When Gaveston is killed, Edward has within seconds adopted someone else: the will exists, but the object of the will is little more than an illusion” (Greenblatt, Renaissance 165).  With political opposition increasing and a threat from France, Edward and le Despenser ran from kingdom to kingdom attempting to gain supporters, but were captured in 1326.  Hugh le Despenser was brought to the queen who had him killed.  One account of Hugh’s death states that his “member and testicles were first cut off, because he was a heretic and a sodomite, even, it was said, with the King” (Bingham 179).

King Edward II soon met a death equally as gruesome.  In both reality and in Marlowe’s play, the crown was passed down to his son, Edward III, and the sodomite king was locked in prison until Queen Elizabeth gave orders for his death in September of 1327.  An account published thirty years after the fact said, “He was ignominiously slain with a red-hot spit thrust into the anus” (Bingham 197).  Taylor’s sonnet from King Edward’s perspective—speaking from the grave—says, “A Red-hot spit my Bowels through did gore,/ Such misery, no Slave endured more.”  Of Taylor’s version of the murder, Bredbeck writes, “Taylor frames his narrative to stress that fate and fortune, the attendants of royal power, withdrew their favor when Edward II ‘combinde’ his love with Pierce Gaveston…even the barbarous murder offers few overt morals, as if to imply that the lessons are self-evident: a contra naturam love deserves an equally contra naturam death” (Bredbeck 49).

Marlowe’s version of the account doesn’t blame Isabella for the king’s unsightly murder, but instead pins the horrid idea on the executioner named Lightborn.  But historically, Queen Isabella is responsible and forever known as “The She-Wolf of France.”  But regardless of whose idea it was, this death is very symbolic in meaning.  Bredbeck writes, “The murder of Edward by raping him with a red-hot poker—quite literally branding him with sodomy—can be seen as an attempt to ‘write’ onto him the homoeroticism constantly ascribed to him" (Bredbeck).

According to The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Christopher Marlowe himself was branded with “atheism, sedition and homosexuality” and comparisons can be drawn between his own tragic fate—he was brutally stabbed with a dagger—and that of the homosexual King Edward.  The Norton Anthology goes on to say, “Edward II’s life of homoerotic indulgences seems innocent in comparison with the cynical and violent dealings of the corrupt rebels who turn against him… Marlowe’s plays, written in the turbulent years before his murder at the age of twenty-nine, have continued to fascinate and disturb readers and audiences” (Greenblatt, Anthology 1003).

In my opinion, not only does Marlowe “fascinate and disturb” me, but also the life of King Edward II.  While I’m not na├»ve enough to assume his death was entirely based on his sexuality and had much to do with his frivolous spending and inattentive leadership, I do know that his contemporaries harbored a great disgust and anger towards his love of other men as is to be seen by the horrible torture he underwent.  If the ass really is the “secret femininity of males” as Sartre says, then those men did everything they could to rid Edward of that femininity once and for all, following the beliefs of the time that sodomy was to be abhorred at all costs.  The king’s death was nothing more than a derogatory slight on his very life, causing us to question what is the greater sin:  the love of two men or the hatred towards them?

Works Cited

Bingham, Caroline.  The Life and Times of Edward II.  Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1973.  Print.

Bredbeck, Gregory W.  Sodomy and Interpretation.  New York: Cornell University Press, 1991.  Print.

Costain, Thomas B.  The Three Edwards: A History of the Plantagenets.  Doubleday, 1962.  Print.

“Edward II, Part I: The Gay Blade.”  History House: An Irreverent History Magazine.  Web.

“Edward II, Part II: The She-Wolf of France.” History House: An Irreverent History Magazine.  Web.

Greenblatt, Stephen.  Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare.  University of Chicago Press, 1980.  Print.

Greenblatt, Stephen, ed.  The Norton Anthology of English Literature.  New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 2006.  Print.

“Isabella of France.”  New World Encyclopedia.  24 Nov. 2008.  Web.

Marlowe, Christopher.  Christopher Marlowe: Complete Plays and Poems.  Ed. E.D. Pendry and J.C. Maxwel.  London, 1976.  Print.

Taylor, John.  A Briefe Remembrance of All the English Monarchs.  London, 1618.  Print.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

No Man Can Serve Two Masters: Adam as Depicted in Paradise Lost

John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost delves deeper into the Genesis story of the fall of man possibly more than any other written work.  Much like God breathed life into Adam, Milton breathes life into this all-important fable of the Christian world.  He gives the characters personality and voice.  Satan is no longer just a one-dimensional villain and Eve isn’t the stupid sinner we blame our troubles for.  And while many might focus on the characters of Satan or Eve, I found Milton’s portrayal of Adam to be most intriguing.  Adam is a man torn between two masters: one of them being God, the other being Eve.

For the most part, Adam is a stalwart example of righteousness and fiercely loyal to his God.  When Eve suggests that Eden is in fact imperfect because they must live in constant fear of being tempted, Adam is quick to defend God, saying, “O woman, best are all things as the will of God ordained them.”  He insists that God’s hand creates “nothing imperfect” and that even their reason “he made right” (Greenblatt, 1981, lines 343-352).

So obedient is he, that the very thought of sin frightens him.  He worries about Eve leaving his side for fear that Satan might get ahold of her.  “But other doubt possesses me,” he says to her, “lest harm befall thee severed from me; for thou know’st what hath been warned us, what malicious foe… seeks to work us woe and shame by sly assault; and somewhere nigh at hand watches” (Greenblatt, 1979, lines 251-257).  When Eve finally does sin, Adam reacts as to be expected:  he is horrified.  Milton writes, “Adam, soon as he heard the fatal trespass done by Eve, amazed, astonied stood and blank, while horror chill ran through his veins” (Greenblatt, 1992, lines 888-891).

So how did one so God-fearing and good-intentioned fall?  When Adam expressed his fear of what Satan might make them do, he said, “Whether his first design be to withdraw our fealty from God, or to disturb conjugal love, than which perhaps no bliss enjoyed by us excites his envy more” (Greenblatt, 1979, lines 261-264).  I feel this statement is more telling of Adam’s own struggle than Satan’s envy.  Adam clearly states what two things are important to him: his loyalty to God and the love he and Eve share.  Unfortunately in the end, his love for Eve won out.  He began to love the creation more than the creator.

“I also erred in overmuch admiring what seemed in thee so perfect,” Adam laments, “that I thought no evil durst attempt thee, but I rue that error now, which is become my crime, and thou th’ accuser” (Greenblatt, 1998, lines 1178-1182).  Adam’s greatest mistake was esteeming Eve to be as perfect as God.  Constantly throughout the text Adam praises Eve’s beauty and virtue.  “For nothing lovelier can be found in woman, than to study household good, and good works in her husband to promote” (Greenblatt, 1978, lines 232-234).  He even goes so far as to say that Eve made him a better man, saying, “I from the influence of thy looks receive access in every virtue, in thy sight more wise, more watchful, stronger” (Greenblatt, 1980, lines 309-311).

When Eve partakes of the forbidden fruit, Adam’s love for her is so strong that he has no other choice but to join her.  He doesn’t want God to make him another Eve.  He wants his Eve.  “And me with thee hath ruined,” he says to her, “for with thee certain my resolution is to die; how can I live without thee?”  (Greenblatt, 1992, lines 906-908).  He can live without God’s presence, but he can’t live without Eve.  The time came for Adam to choose, and his romantic side won out.

Works Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen, ed.  The Norton Anthology of English Literature.  New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 2006.  Print.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Social Injustices of Utopia

Sir Thomas More makes quite a case for social equality in his novel Utopia, which features a fictional society of people who all dress the same, work the same hours, and divide all goods amongst themselves in equal measure.  True, nobody is rich and nobody is poor—which is to be commended—but as the saying goes, nothing is as good as it seems.  Even in Utopia one will find all kinds of social injustices, including a class hierarchy of government officials and religious leaders, sexism, seniority and even slavery.

While the majority of the citizens stand on equal ground, there exist quite a number of elected officials that do enjoy an elevated position of superiority over others.  Syphogrants (or phylarchs) are in charge of a group of thirty households, and the tranibor (or head phylarch) governs over a group of ten syphogrants.  These all come together to elect a governor, who holds his position for life, and although More doesn’t discuss him too much, he makes mention of a prince with whom the tranibors consult regularly (Greenblatt, 550).  Although presumably these elected officials never campaign for public office and are said to be very approachable and humble (Greenblatt, 572), they do indeed reap special treatment.  For example, public officers are referred to as “fathers” (Greenblatt, 572) and syphogrants and their wives sit at “the place of greatest honor” in the dining hall (Greenblatt, 556)

None of these officials, however, is esteemed half as much as the priest.  There are thirteen priests per city whose job it is to preside over worship services and make religious decrees (Greenblatt, 583), and although More makes it very clear at one point that every citizen dresses the same, the priest adorns himself with “a robe of many colors, wonderful for its workmanship and decoration” (Greenblatt, 585).  More states, “No official in Utopia is more honored than the priest” then further explains that if a priest commits a crime, he isn’t brought before a court of law (Greenblatt, 583).  Any other man would be tried, but priests are seemingly above the law.

While the wives of priests are said to be “the very finest women in the whole country” (Greenblatt, 583), other women aren’t viewed so kindly.  More specifically comments, “Wives are subject to their husbands” (Greenblatt, 554).  Women must sit separately from men when attending church services (Greenblatt, 585), dress differently from men (Greenblatt, 550), and as “the weaker sex” work in different professions than men (Greenblatt, 551).  Women work with wool or linen (Greenblatt, 551) and take the sole responsibility for preparing and cooking meals (Greenblatt, 555).  Men would never perform such tasks. 

And while men are superior to women, older citizens are superior to younger citizens.  When dining, they serve the oldest people first and give them the best food.  They consider it “due respect” to seniority (Greenblatt, 556)—which seems fitting—although their agism seems far too extreme in some cases; the young get the short end of the stick.  Children up to age five seem well taken care of, but any child older than that doesn’t even get to sit at the table.  They must stand quietly and wait for food to be handed to them (Greenblatt, 556).

The last and probably greatest injustice found in Utopia exists in the form of slavery.  Slaves come about in a variety of ways:  prisoners of war, citizens who have done wrong, or foreigners who would rather be a slave in Utopia than a free citizen in their homelands (Greenblatt, 569).  Slaves must wear heavy gold chains as a sign of their enslavement, since in Utopia gold is seen as evil.  These slaves do all of the dirty work that is viewed to be beneath the work of a good and moral citizen, which includes butchering animals because it “gradually destroys the sense of compassion, which is the finest sentiment of… human nature” (Greenblatt, 554).  Clearly these slaves are not even seen as human.

So while we, today, might use the word “Utopia” in reference to a perfect society of equals, it was not the case in Sir Thomas More’s great work of fiction bearing that name.  Although the people made many valiant efforts to create equality, many aspects of inequality and injustice still managed to take root.  Perhaps it can be argued that humans are incapable of ever achieving a perfect socialistic society, because on a personal level we all aspire to greatness, and cannot help but put others down on our way up.

Works Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen, ed.  The Norton Anthology of English Literature.  New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 2006.  Print.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Irony of the Wife of Bath

In the late 14th Century when Chaucer was writing The Canterbury Tales, there was a great surge of antifeminist writings.  Women were thought to be wicked, unchaste and essentially inferior to men who were generally regarded as more holy and just.  Chaucer’s character of the Wife of Bath is a woman who is vocally opposed to that notion—even fighting her fifth husband over it—yet lives her life in such a way as to fall stereotype to the teaching of antifeminists of her time period.  It is just as ironic for her character to behave in such a way as it is for Chaucer to depict her in the same fashion.  The argument can be made that Chaucer is as equally antifeminist as the medieval church at that time.

To begin, it is fitting to understand the preconceived notions about women during the lifetime of the Wife of Bath.  Our textbook gives a bit of background information, stating that the church believed “the rational, intellectual, spiritual, and, therefore, higher side of human nature predominated in men, whereas the irrational, material, earthly, and, therefore, lower side of human nature predominated in women” (Greenblatt, 256).  St. Jerome is mentioned to be a monk who was very much of this opinion and who wrote a diatribe against the writing of a much more sympathetic St. Jovinian.  In fact, both St. Jerome and St. Jovinian are referenced in the text of The Wife of Bath’s Prologue as well.  In lines 679-681, the Wife of Bath tells us, “And eek ther was somtime a clerk at Rome, A cardinal, that highte Saint Jerome, That made a book again Jovinian” (Greenblatt, 271).

This book happened to be a favorite of her fifth husband, and he would read it “night and day” for his own “disport” or entertainment (Greenblatt, 271, lines 675-676).  The book—which he would condescendingly read aloud to her—used Biblical stories, myths and proverbs to illustrate the wickedness of women.  This irritated the Wife of Bath so much that she tore some pages out of his book and struck out at him with violence (Greenblatt, 274, lines 796-799).  To me, it is very ironic that the Wife of Bath would become irate over this antifeminist literature which insists that women are conniving and untrue when she herself has used sex to manipulate men all of her life.

The book her husband reads says:  “That wommen can nat keepe hir mariage” and “A womman cast hir shame away when she cast of hir smok” (Greenblatt, 272 and 274, lines 716 and 788-789), meaning that women are most shameful when they engage in sex and break their wedding vows.  Logically, one might suppose that to counteract this horrible accusation of womanhood, the Wife of Bath might live a life of chastity and fidelity, but that is not the case.  Her prologue is steeped with infidelity and she uses the Bible—of all things—to justify her lifestyle.  Beginning in line 28, she says:  “God bad us for to wexe and multiplye” (Greenblatt, 257) and then goes on to cite biblical men who had multiple wives.  She even says that she does not value virginity and makes it very clear that the body is made to have sex.  She blames her lustful appetite on her Zodiac, employs her sexuality as a means of gaining control over men, and lies her way out of sticky situations.  In short, she falls into every negative stereotype of her gender.

Chaucer, in writing her character, depicts the Wife of Bath in a way that is both unflattering and oddly endearing.  I, for one, greatly enjoy reading her radical views on womanhood and sexuality and can appreciate her for her honesty.  She never makes an excuse for her actions.  Unfortunately, the Wife of Bath’s championing of women’s rights and refusal to conform only furthers the medieval notions that women are inherently evil.  Although we are able to understand her point of view—even to the point of being sympathetic of her plight—we can’t help but see that she is no different than Eve who brought about the fall of man when she bit into the forbidden fruit.  We see that she is similar to Delilah who took away Samson’s strength; to Deianira who caused Hercules to light himself on fire; to Xantippe who pissed upon Socrates’ head (Greenblatt, 272, lines 721-735).  The Wife of Bath’s story would fit perfectly into the book she despised so much.

While the Wife of Bath’s character is so ironic—both despising and embracing antifeminist opinions—so is Chaucer himself.  At first glance one might suppose that Chaucer is against these primitive notions, for why else would he let his female character speak out against them?  But by putting those words into the mouth of a woman so sexually immoral and obviously selfish, he negates every feminist thing she says.  He discredits her.  In the end, Chaucer has depicted a woman just like St. Jerome says all women are:  “irrational, material, earthly, and, therefore, lower” (Greenblatt, 256).  Chaucer’s Wife of Bath is ultimately antifeminist, while pretending to argue against it.

Works Cited

Greenblatt, Stephen, ed.  The Norton Anthology of English Literature.  New York:  W. W. Norton & Company, 2006.  Print.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

School's Out! (and Other News)

So after November ended and my whirlwind book-writing ceased, the month of December arrived and brought with it the final two weeks of school.  I lucked out and only had one test to study for, and it wasn't even a cumulative final exam.  I did however have two six-page research papers to write and an interview to conduct with a local author.  Pending her permission, I might post that interview on this blog someday. 

This morning I went to my very last class of the year and now I can officially say that school's out!  All I have to fill my time now is work, and believe me, it does a very good job of filling my time up!  I've been working 40+ hour weeks and I am very excited to see my paycheck tomorrow.  It will be my first paycheck from Zales for a full two-week period and I am anxious to see just how much bigger it is than a Cinemark paycheck.  Of course I've done the math in my head, but it's always awesome to see it show up in my account!

My new job has been good so far.  I still miss my friends at Cinemark, but luckily I get along great with my new coworkers at Zales.  We're a much smaller team (just six including me) and I'm the only guy.  My duties mostly consist of unlocking and locking jewelry cases to show pieces to customers and pray to God that they decide to buy something.  A lot of times they don't, but it's still fun to help them.  I don't always know the answers to their questions, but luckily there is always another salesperson to help me out when I get stuck.  I'm sure someday I'll be an expert, but for now I am still learning.

Sometimes it can be a little slow traffic-wise, so I clean a lot of glass, conduct case counts and do a lot of pacing.  It's not uncommon to find us all bored and playing with our phones or gossiping or chatting up the kiosk workers in front of our store.  Overall though, work is fun and I enjoy it.  The only thing that really gets old is not having a car to get myself there.  I have to depend on rides and when no one is available, I take the bus.  It's much too far to walk.

In other news, Brian and I are going to Boise, Idaho this Christmas to see my mom.  My brother and sister will be flying in as well which will be even more awesome.  I haven't spent Christmas with my family in three years, so I am very excited.  This will be Brian's first Christmas away from home though, and his mom is a little bitter about that...  I hope she knows that we still love her even if we won't be there!

Anyway, to commemorate the end of my first semester at UVU, I've decided to have a "Brit Lit Weekend" where I'll post the papers I wrote for my British Literature class.  The first one posts tomorrow!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm a NaNoWriMo WINNER!

I cannot believe that I did it!  I actually did it!

I'm a NaNoWriMo WINNER!

So what did I win?  A pat on the back and a healthy sense of accomplishment, that's what.  Do you know how rarely I finish something I start?  This really is an achievement worth shouting about!

Writing a novel in a month is very difficult, and I must say I don't think November is the month to do it in.  Sorry, NaNoWriMo people.  It's just not.  First of all, I'm a college student and the semester ends in just two more weeks, which means that November brought a slew of research papers and tests.  It's hard to write my word quota every night when there are stupid school assignments demanding that I write them too.  Aside from school, there's also Thanksgiving which required me to spend the day with family (not writing) and the change in weather which caused me to get sick (not writing).  Oh, I also went and got myself a new job where I work forty hours a week (time not spent writing).

Yet somehow I managed to do it.  In fact, as of Monday night I didn't think I would make it.  The NaNoWriMo goal is a 50,000 word first draft, and I had just shy of 40,000.  I was telling Brian that I was okay with not making the goal because at least it motivated me to write that much.  But Brian wouldn't let me give up on myself.  He told me to keep writing!

So I did.  By the end of Tuesday night I had managed to write 7,583 words that very day.  Luckily I didn't have to work!  Wednesday morning I had 2,417 words left to go.  Between getting home from my class at 10:20 and leaving for work at 1:00, I was able to finish the novel!  I finished at 50,296 words which I am very proud of.  Typed in double-spaced 12-point Courier New, my first draft is 232 pages long.  I've never written that much in my life, let alone one month.

So you'll be seeing that winner's logo in the upper right-hand corner of my blog for a while... because I am very proud of myself!

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails