Hey guys, I have to write two essays for my English midterm (take-home) and I was wondering if anyone would help me by proof-reading and giving me advice. thanks.
Here is one so far, I'm still working on it as you can see:
This is the question:
"Setting is important to other element of a piece of literature, such as character and theme. Discuss the three pieces we have read this semester and evaluate the effect setting had on other elements, such as character, conflict, and theme."
In a novel, setting is a key feature for success. Without setting, all events in a novel seem to be unimportant. As setting changes, so does theme and character. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams are examples of why setting is an important factor in telling a story.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne takes place during the 1640's in Massachusetts. The main character, Hester Prynne, lives in a strict, Puritan society. The Puritans keep strictly to the bible and never work against it. Hester Prynne commits adultery, becomes pregnant, and is punished with public embarrassment. Hester is imprisoned for a short time and is forced to stand on a scaffold in front of her town. She must also wear a letter “A” on her bosom until she dies. Hester committed adultery only because her husband, who she was forced to marry, was missing after her colony moved to America. Hester becomes ashamed and begins to resent herself. There are a few themes in The Scarlet Letter, but perhaps the most important is to not hide your true feelings. Throughout the novel, Hester's “A” begins to stand for “able” and not “adultery.” She begins to gain peoples' respect and is started to be seen as a normal human being. If the story took place today, Hester would most likely not be forced to marry anybody against her will and her punishment would be far less severe. Today we have such things like abortions and birth control to prevent or end pregnancy. Hester certainly would not have been legally punished or considered a criminal. Today, Hester Prynne would not be the same, distressed person. The theme would also change greatly. In today's society, people seem to be less strict and don't take notice in such situations. (add transition)
Speak by Lauri Halse Anderson takes place in New York in present day. The story is about a teenage girl, Melinda Sordino. At a party during the summer, Melinda is raped by a football jock, Andy Evans. Melinda calls 911, but does not say what the problem is. The police show up to the party and people are arrested for underage drinking. Melinda loses her friends and is now going through high school alone. Melinda does not speak up about her problem, which leads to more problems, like her eventual social outcast. Making matters worse, Melinda and her parents only communicate through notes left on the refrigerator. The main theme of Speak is that problems only get worse if nothing is done about them. If the setting was changed to the early 1900's, everything would change. Today, parents are less involved in the lives of their children. in the early 1900's, parents had more control over what their children did. Although rape was still existent during the 1900's, it was not as much as an issue it is today. Today we can still relate to being outcast from a group of friends for a misunderstanding, that is how high school works.
“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams takes place in New Orleans during the 1950's. The story is about a compulsive liar, Blanche Dubois, who moves in with her sister, Stella, and her controlling husband Stanley Kowalski. The characters live in the slums where prostitutes and street vendors are often present. Stanley Kowalski is a drunken animal who has a bad temper and controls Stella's life. In the 1950's men were generally dominant and women did not have much say in her relationship. If the setting was changed, the views on each character would as well. Stanley often beat his wife, Stella, and she was never upset at the end of the night. Blanche was an alcoholic who could not set her life straight, eventually leading to her admission to a psych ward. Today, Stanley would be arrested for beating his wife, Stella would be out of the relationship, and Blanche would be in a rehabilitation center. Things tend to change from generation to generation, views and beliefs in one period might not be acceptable ten to twenty years later. In this case, almost anything in “A Streetcar Named Desire” would not be appropriate today.
Perhaps the most important part of a story is the theme. Without theme, a story would have no identity. Things on a certain time period may be completely unacceptable in another. For example, In the early 1920's Jazz was said to be the devil's music. However, Jazz came to be one of the most popular genres of music.
This second essay is a thematic essay and is pretty straight-forward as to what I have to do"
“In a dark time, the eye begins to see.” This quote by Theodore Roethke is present in many pieces of literature. Two pieces that support this quote are Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams. This quote means that when things go wrong, people begin to see the truth in certain situations or people. I agree with Roethke's claim. Some literary devices that support the quote are character, symbolism, and conflict.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson supports Roethke's quote. One literary device that backs up the quote is Symbolism. In the beginning of the novel, the main character, Melinda picks “tree” as her art project for the year. Melinda is a troubled young girl who has no friends. At first, the trees that she draws look bad and sick, much like herself. As the story progresses, her trees grow more and more complex. It isn't until she notices a sick tree in her yard, that she realizes that she has a problem. Her father explains that the only way for the tree to grow healthy again is for it's sick limbs to be cut off. Melinda realizes that she must fix herself and patch up any problems she might have. By the end of the novel, the tree is almost healthy, and so is Melinda. Another literary device that supports Theodore Roethke's claim is character. Throughout the novel, Melinda does not talk much. She struggles communicate with other characters and participate in events. At the end of the novel, when her rapist returns, trapping her in a corner, she screams. She begins to see in the darkness and decides that she can no longer live in an isolated world. Another Literary device is conflict. Melinda Sordino has not been able to handle circumstances very well. She lets people use and does not decide to react any other way than saying yes. Her “friend” Heather is using her so she can get in a group and be popular. Finally, Melinda sees the truth in her situation and realizes that she is being used. When Heather asks Melinda for help the last time, Melinda breaks off their friendship because she is done letting people take advantage of her. These Literary devices help keep a story together and to prove that “in a dark time, the eye begins to see.”
“A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams supports Roethke's quote in many ways. Symbolism is present very often in Williams' screenplay. In the screenplay, truth is often covered up by Blanche. Blanche lies about her age and covers a light bulb with a Chinese lantern. Covering the light bulb also covers up Blanche's wrinkles. Throughout the novel, while the bulb is covered by the lantern, Blanche continues to hide the truth. However, at the end of the novel, Blanche is taken away to a mental hospital and the light bulb is uncovered, showing the truth behind her lies. Another literary element that Williams uses is Character. Stella has let her sister Blanche live with her until Blanche returns to her plantation from “vacation.” However, Blanche does not leave and Stella lets her stay. Stella refuses to believe the truth that Blanche isn't on vacation and has, in fact, lost the plantation. At the end of the screenplay, Stella sees the truth in Blanche as she tells Stella that she was raped by Stanley, Stella's husband. Stella refuses to believe Blanche and finally sees the truth in Blanche. The last Literary technique that helps support Roethke's quote is conflict. As soon as Blanche moves in with Stanley and Stella, it has been a power struggle between Blanche and Stanley. Throughout the whole screenplay, Blanche and Stanley fight for who is the most dominant. Stanley is a controlling, selfish animal and Blanche does not let Stanley see her powerless. Stanley sees through the lies that Blanche has been telling her sister since she has begun to stay with the couple. Stanley rapes Blanche and winds up being the one with more power, proving how disgusting her really is.
I agree with Theodore Roethke when he says that “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.” This can be backed up in many novels and stories such as the ones in this essay. It seems to be present in almost any story, that when there is darkness in a situation, there is always truth that is revealed. Perhaps the most important part of something, is knowing the truth.