Author Archives: jtodd

Discussion 15

Discussion 15

The Demon represents King Shahrayar. The demon is set on punishing someone because of his imprisonment by Solomon. This correlates with the King wanting to punish his future wives based upon the action of his first wife.

The fisherman represents Shahrazad. Both are clever and use stories and wit to halt their deaths.

The enchanted lake and cave represent the way that the King is imprisoned in his own anger and need for revenge. The prince that is half man and half rock represents the king locked into his own anger and is unable to move forward in life because he is so weighed down by the anger.

I was also real interested in trying to find out how the number four played into everything. Four times to cast the net, four fish, 400 payment….. I would appreciate anyone’s thought on this.

Discussion 14 Devi; Marquez; Saadawi; Silko


“Yellow Woman’ is a story of two worlds. The young woman lives in the modern world with tv’s and cars but often hears stories of the old times. The young woman has an experience with Silva that is reminiscent of earlier times and seems to be from a myth she has heard from her grandpa. They ride horses and sleep on the ground rather than enjoy modern conveniences. I think the stolen beef that is shot and skinned is a visual representation of times past when this is how her people lived. The jello is a visual representation of modern times. The stolen beef seems to bring a darker sinister mood to the story and the jello brings a lighter happier mood.


Leila’s father seems to have love for her but he is more concerned about how others see him. He is humiliated by what has happened to his daughter. Her father claps for her when the crowd does but does not stand up and act on his own. When he was sitting in the court room he thought about shouting that he was her father but he remained seated because of his humiliation. He was only able to support his daughter when he felt her deeds were heroic and people were proud of her. As soon as he heard of her rape and how she shamed he changed how he thought and decided that they would be better off dead rather them living with the shame.


Death is the one thing we are assured will happen to all of us. We may find love, we may lose love but in the end we all die. Senator Sanchez has a terminal illness and only finds love for a brief moment in time. He dies regretting that he does not have the woman he fell for next to him when he dies. Love should be enjoyed while we are alive and never be taken for granted.

Discussion 13

Discussion 13

  1. Gregor and his family have a dysfunctional relationship. Gregor is the provider and has taken on the families debts. Gregor simply exists, he has no real happiness or goals outside of working and paying the bills. Gregor and his dad seem to have a very strained relationship. His dad appears to be almost resentful of Gregor. It seems like Gregor stepping up to provide for the family has invalidated his father’s position in life. Gregor does have hopes and dreams for his sister. He is trying to provide her some happiness that he does not have. His sister is also the one family member who tries to care for Gregor.
  2. When Gregor becomes a cockroach his family suddenly realizes they can no longer depend upon him for support. This causes them to start to pull together and find ways to provide for themselves. As each family member starts to earn money they start to grow stronger as Gregor is continually weakening.

When Gregor is seen by their tenants the family is united in their recognition of how much of a burden Gregor is to them.   The family is able to stand up to the tenants and run them off. They have come along was from relying on Gregor for everything, in fact Gregor now relies upon them for everything.

Gregor’s death is an immense relief to the family. They are free from the burden and can actually start living a normal life. They are more committed to each other and each has determined their role in the family.

  1. Akhmatova’s Requim came too late to be of any influence during Stalin’s time but it is still relevant to politics of today. Requim shows us the injustices of war and puts a visual on the pain and suffering it causes. Her words speak to us and remind us of what can happen with oppression and tyranny take over a country. While the influence of this poem would have been greater had it been published when Stalin was still in power the influence is still there.
  2. We should interpret the command at the end of Archaic Torso of Apollo as a call to live your life to the fullest. Go and find your happiness and be passionate about things.

Discussion 12

1- Felicite is a naive good person. Neither a saint nor simple minded. She has a limited reference for her knowledge of the world but she is aware of her place in it. She is comfortable in her station in life and doesn’t expect anything more. Felicite is able to genuinely love and care for others around her; in fact she seems to need someone to love. When she lost the people she loved she then turned her love to her parrot.

Mme. Aubain was a widow whose fortunes had fallen when her husband died. But she still viewed herself as someone above others. Her love was a more complex thing; it was only given to whom she thought it was supposed to be given to while Felicity loved those that touched her heart.

2-Baudelaire characterizes women as the tool of sin, they are temptresses He depicts a woman’s physical body and her sensuality as weapons a woman uses to snare males. While her outside might be beautiful to look at he characterizes her insides as stinking and festering. Baudelaire depicts men who are turned from the right path by the wiles of women. He seems to think that man would more virtuous and righteous if women were not here to tempt him. While I do not agree with his message and thoughts I do find myself drawn into his work. His imagery is bold, dark and very powerful.

3-Rama and Sita are a more selfless couple. They strive to always do right and be honorable and just. Chidam and Chandara are more self-involved and are more concerned about doing what they think is best for themselves. Chidam will tell lies and manipulate others to get what he wants without regard to others feelings. Chandara gives up her life just to make her husband pay.

4-Leda and the Swan by Yeats is a terrifying poem. The young girl held down by great wings and her neck held by the bill of a bird. The bird is a beautiful swan but it has an ugly beast inside it. These are terrifying images of a great beast raping a young girl. You can almost feel her terror and helplessness in the imagery Yeats describes. This poem lets us know not to be deceived by the outer appearance of someone because you never know the real beast that may be lurking inside.

Discussion 11

1- Moliere states that his play Tartuffe is not anti-religious. But I think he protests too much. I believe that his play is anti-religious and encourages people not to blindly follow the church. At the time the play was written the church was a highly influential institution and hypocrisy was a common characteristic of some religious people. I believe that Moliere’s play is a warning to all that religion and religious people should be questioned because sometimes their motives are not truly in the best interest of anyone or anything but themselves. When people start to question the church it can lead to a power struggle and cause the church to loss their influence.

2- Hugo’s Satan can be seen as a hero because he embodies what we all have the choice of free-will. Satan is a living being has the right to make decisions about his own life and his choices have made him a fallen angel, a rebel. His daring to question authority and make his own choices have been romanticized. Even though he has the power to ask forgiveness Satan refuses to. He sticks to what he chose in life.

Datne’s Satan was incapable of moving around while Hugo’s Satan was flying and reaching for the Stars. Dante’s Satan also has six eyes and three chins. He cries from his six eyes and this seems like he is upset at his punishment and is remorseful while Hugo’s Satan is not remorseful, simply angry and upset at being left in the dark.

3- I was drawn to the poems “The Infinite’ and “To Himself’ by Giocomo Leopardi. Both poems have a lot of imagery and connect thoughts and feelings through nature. In “The Infante’ Leopardi is speaking of his longing to see things beyond the home he has always known, his desire for knowledge. He basically is saying he desires to venture out in the world even if in the end it causes him heartache or death. The wind that speaks to him and the present season are images of being alive and moving through life. Seeing new things and opening himself up to whatever may be.

In “To Himself’ he is speaking to his desire to love and be loved. He has lost hope that he will have the love that has eluded him so far and he is saying he is giving up his desire. Both poems are speaking to desire and the heartbreak it can cause. The world being mud and nature being an ugly force are symbols of hopelessness. The end of his dream.

Discussion 10


Machiavelli may have lived centuries ago but his thoughts on political ideals and concrete realities still apply in our own political world today. While Machiavelli wrote of princes and monarchies  his writing may have very well been about the senators, congressmen, governors ,presidents, and really any ruling person of today.

Every election time we see the ads that are not about what is good for the people but what someone else is doing wrong. These negative ads do not come from a morally good place they come from Machiavelli’s virtu. Machiavelli uses virtu to describe the range of personal qualities (good and bad) that a person will use to acquire or maintain his place of power.


The bible has several passages that discuss women’s hair. In 1 Corinthians 11:5 it says “And every woman, who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered, dishonors her head; for she in on a level with her whose head is shaven: and 1Corinthians11:15 says “But for a woman, if her hair is abundant, it is a glory for her’.

For many Native American tribes hair is significant. Their hair is often thought to be the strength of their spirit and is a powerful symbol to them. The only time they would cut their hair is when they were in mourning. In many other cultures long hair on women was a sign of prominence or status. Long hair that was loose was also a way some cultures signified young unmarried women. Slaves often had their hair shorn as a sign of their inferior status. Hair has long been an outward sign of religious, social, and economical status.


I believe that the flowers signify those who have passed on, particularly warriors who had died in battle. They were honorable courageous souls that would be deemed beautiful. Songs are an integral part of Native American lives and I believe the songs in this passage are prayers. As they prepared for battle they were praying for guidance and protection and if they should fall they are reunited with those who have gone before them.

Discussion 9- DeFrance; Decameron


Griselda’s character was tested by her husband Gualtieri. He devised the most awful tests he could to test how strong Griselda’s loyalty and patience were. Griselda gave up her children thinking that they were to be killed; she let her husband divorce her so he could marry another woman without so much as a negative word. She obeyed her husband’s commands and proved that she was a woman of great character.

Beyond the testing of Griselda I think the story is actually pointing out how much women could endure and still stay strong. At the time the story was written women were second class citizens and yet they persevered and cared for their families with strength and dignity. The testing and trials that Griselda went through were just an exaggerated example of the hardships women endured at that time.



The stories from the Decameron and the Thousand and One Nights were all stories that entertained while teaching a moral value. Shahrazad wove her tales to entertain her husband so he would not order her death while the ten storytellers in Decameron told their tales to entertain themselves while in self-imposed exile. The stories accomplish what the intended purpose is in the storyline but also accomplish what I am sure the writer was trying to convey about morals and values. It is important that the teller can tell the tale in such a way that it is believable. There has to be some connection or the tale will not come alive and be as entertaining.



I think that the nightingale symbolizes a forbidden love as well as the dreams of the wife. She knows that she is chained to a man she does not love and who controls her life but she longs for more. She longs for love and freedom. When her husband kills the nightingale it is as if she is the bird…. broken and dead. She knows she will never be free from her husband and she will never have a chance to know love.

Discussion 8: Dante’s Inferno

Discussion 8


I believe that Dante’ learned that man alone was responsible for his own fate. He saw eventually all the choices a man made would have consequences that he had to accept. Man’s ultimate fate is his alone to decide.

Much of Dante’s sins and punishments seem to be directly related to the Bible. I found it a little hard to understand why people were being punished for sins they had committed before the Bible was even in existence. I had to take a step back from this and have come to realize that sometimes a person’s faith needs to be truly believed by them to have been in existence since time immortal. People will rationalize or simply ignore things which do not follow the dictates of their faith or religion. But in the end I think I have come to realize the same thing that Dante’ did and that is that we are all responsible for our own fate- here on earth and in the afterlife. While I do not necessarily think that the punishments he described are what awaits us I do believe that we will be held accountable in say way for our choices.

Discussion 7: One Thousand and One Nights; The Inferno



Shahrayar’s madness was appalling even for the time he was living in.   Even at the time when women were viewed as possessions the citizens of his country viewed his behavior was viewed as excessive. That is why the citizens of his country called for a plague on Shahbrayar’s head.

Shahbrayar’s pride was hurt when he found his wife cheating. Her cheating not only hurt him as a man and the master of his home it hurt him as the King and master of his country. Being a man and King should have been more than enough to deter his wife from making a fool of him. Her betrayal damaged his ego and caused him to question women in general. Then the wife of the demon that forced Shahvrayar and his brother to sleep with her reinforced his to believe that all women were deceivers and would use their cunning to get what they want. His bruised ego and the madness that ensued caused him to rationalize the killing of the women he slept with before they could cheat on him.


In the vizier’s stories the animals are given human like abilities. They have the ability to think and to talk, they are also able to give advice. In The Story of the Merchant and the Demon the animals do not speak or think, they are vessels used to place people’s spirits.

The vizier uses his story about the ox and the donkey to show his daughter what he feels is the folly of her thinking. The donkey thinks he has a solution to the oxes hardships but only ends up taking on those hardships himself. The vizier believes that his daughter is like the donkey and her taking the place of other young women will only earn her their fate. In Shahrazad’s story of the Merchant and the Demon the animals are allowed to life and serve penance instead of being killed for their wrong doings. Shahrazad’s stories are about justice and forgiveness. The demon is like the King- both demanding justice even without quilt of the parties involved. The stories helped the King see that these other women were not responsible for his wives actions and should not be held accountable for it.

In the vizier’s story the Rooster tells the Dog what he would do with a disobedient wife. The thought that it is permissible to beat a woman into submission or to even kill her tells us how male oriented this culture was. While the tales by his daughter show us that while women are treated inferior and are seen as cunning not all women are the same. We see in Shahrazad’s tales how a woman can heal a man.

Inferno_Canto_20 fortunetellers


I found it fitting that the sinners were punished in the same way in which they sinned. They made their choice in life so they continued with that choice in death. For example the fortune tellers lived telling peoples futures and this was deemed black magic or upsetting the balance of nature, so they were condemned in hell to have their heads on backwards. They had to spend eternity forever looking back.

The sinners are punished in accordance with their sins so there is greater punishment for those deemed to have committed greater sins. I had a hard time with the way some sins were placed in the levels of hell. I would think that murder would be a far greater sin then fraud. When I looked into this further I know understand that Dante is following strict Christian doctrine when assigning the sins their place in hell. Violence is an act against God’s will but fraud is a twisted perversion of it, so it is seen as a greater sin.

Discussion 6- The Ramayana; The Bhagavad-Gita

Discussion 6-   The Ramayana; The Bhagavad-Gita


Rama is presented in The Ramayana as the embodiment of a perfect man. He lived his live with a strict adherence to dharma. He gave up the throne to save his father’s honor. Rama was always a loving and dutiful son, brother, and husband. I do not believe that his following a code of honor and being a righteous man in way made him less interesting as a hero. Rama still possessed humanly emotions and did great deeds.

Rama did have to work on his perfection; he had to overcome his emotions. We can see this when Rama picks up his weapons and wants to act out in anger for the abduction of Sita. But, he overcomes this with a reminder from his brother Lasmana that Rama should not act out of his nature because he is hurt and angry.

Rama’s mother is very distraught and begs her son not to leave. She wants him to stay and fight for his throne. Rama tells her that he must obey his father and that it would be wrong to raise arms against his brother.   When Rama reminds Kausalya of her duties to his father, Kausalya agrees to stay and do her duty. Kausalya has to overcome her emotions and adhere to dharma.

The Hindu’s believe that a person should life their live in a dutiful manner no matter who they are or where they come from. Rama’s actions in life hold true to this belief. He strove to do the right thing in every situation regardless of the trials and hardship he had to endure. Rama worked to control his emotions and overcome actions based upon them.


Arjuna’s does not want to fight against his family and friends. He believes this is wrong and will bring about the destruction of them all. He ends up fighting because he believes in dharma and the purpose of this life is to better his soul. Achilles at first refuses to fight because his pride his hurt and when he does decide to fight it is because he wants revenge for the death of his friend. Both are aware that death awaits them but Arjuna’s death is for spiritual gain while Achilles of for legendary fame.

The code of behavior in the The Bhagavad-Gita is a code based upon doing the right thing in order to become more spiritually whole. Everything they do is based up on the concept of dharma. In the Iliad the code is based more upon the honor they achieve here in earth. It is also filled with many actions fueled by revenge.