Sunday, May 5, 2013

INVENTORY-- one last time...

You've written a lot this week; is there anything left for you to practice/improve over the weekend?  Do you need to practice more multiple choice?  Take inventory-- one last time-- and describe how you will address any areas where you feel less than 100% confident.


 This week has been beneficial not necessarily in improving my writing skills holistically but, rather, the pacing of my writing. I remember at the beginning of the year I would focus nearly half the allotted amount of time just focusing upon  the thesis statement of my introductory paragraph. Don't get me wrong, the intro paragraph may very well be the most critical, adumbrating the specifics that will be expounded upon within the course of the essay, but this week's rigorous persistence has enabled me to forgo my usual feather and fluff flavor text that generally protracts writing time in exchange for, to put it simply, cutting to the chase, to the real central dogma, heart of the essay prompt content. In regards to multiple choice, I've never had challenges with such in the past and, not to underestimate the exam, I don't really feel threatened or worried about this portion at all for that matter. All in all I've never practiced this much for an AP exam (and have passed every one prior), or written this large of a volume of essays, in such a short but intense amount of time, ultimately I feel confident that I am more than prepared, that I will pass the exam, I'm as ready as I'll ever be. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

In class essay (5-2-13)

(Question 1)

Mortality, of all the facets of humanity, mortality, the imminence of death is arguably what most defines us. Death is merely the stage where life is distinguished, yet many fear, fight against their in-elusive fate in the unwavering desire to yet achieve their dying ambitions, final aspirations in life. John Keats When I Have Fears and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Mezzo Cammin both chronicle the restless fears, looming concerns of the two poets forthcoming mortality. Similar in thematic ties, the works share the prominent use of metaphorical imagery to connote their ideas but contrast in their respective structure as the authors explore their varied but so to familiar perspectives on the subject of death, mortality, in comparison.

"Half of my life is gone..." Wadsworth opens his composition similarly to Keats "when I have fears that I may cease to be..." The two poets reflecting not simply on their inevitable death but their lives thus far. Both works explore these reflections, their authors concerns via the device of imagery. "Then on the shore of the wide world I stand alone and think till love and fame do sink to nothingness." Keats imagery of reflecting on a beachhead shore at worlds edge, essentially commenting on how temporal "love and fame" really are as they "sink to nothingness" and become nothing but terminal memories after life is similar to Longfellow's use of imagery as follows.
"Though half way up I see the past, a city in the twilight dim and vast with smoking roofs, soft bells, and hear above me the autumnal blast The cataract of death far thundering from the heights." Longfellow crafts the image of a "twilight city" the diction of "twilight" and "dim" connoting Longfellow's own petering life in twilight years whilst the "soft bells" marking the "thundering" "autumnal blast" all echoes the coming inevitable end of life, all roads of life ending at "deaths cataract". Indeed both John Keats and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow utilize the poetic device of imagery within their respective works to reflect upon their lives as well as pine to live longer so as to chase their final "youthful aspirations".

Though the two poets explore the same theme of mortality, employing a plethora of similar poetic devices, such as imagery, Keats and Longfellow's pieces, however, contrast in their poetic structure. Both works are constructed with a rhyming scheme but whereas Keats rhymes in odd couplets every other line as illustrated: "When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face, Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, And feel that I may never live to trace, Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;". Longfellow, on the other hand, directly rhymes each subsequent following line with the preceding last, ex: " The years slip from me and have not fulfilled, The aspiration of my youth, to build, Some tower of song with lofty parapet. Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret.". Though the poets differ in comparable rhyming structures, the dual use of rhyming in general expertly crafts a hypnotic momentum, pacing that enables the author to fluidly convey their similar perspectives on mortality, both lamenting the loss of time, both rapidly now pursuing youthful aspirations, both reflecting on their lives.

The hands of time deliver us all to the same ends, life is death and death is life. John Keats When I Have Fears and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Mezzo Cammin in contrast/comparison both convey the authors varied but all to similar dispositions on their imminent, perpetual, mortality. Via the use of poetic devices painting connotative metaphorical imagery as well as differing but dually hypnotic rhyming structures, both Keats and Longfellow reflect upon their forthcoming deaths as they live out their middle-aged twilight years. Though they may differ in exact utilization of poetic devices, they both use them to reflect upon their existence, both desire to pursue and accomplish their ultimate "youthful aspirations", both confront their inevitable mortality, but both so to never forgo hope, forget whats important in life: to live.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

In class essay (5-1-13)

In Ann Petry's novel, The Street, the author employs a panoply of rhetorical strategies, literary devices to capture not only the zeitgeist of the eponymous setting, but so to convey Lutie Johnson's relationship to the urban metropolis. Whether it be the personification of wind interacting and influencing the city streets, The use of imagery to authentically capture the spirit of the urban locales and denizens, or a diverse array of figurative language throughout, Ann Petry, paints, characterizes not only visually the urban cityscape but so to the protagonist Lutie Johnson's relationship to the metropolitan setting.

"There was a cold November wind blowing through 116th street. It rattled the tops of garbage cans, sucked window shades out through the top of the opened windows and set them back against the windows." The opening paragraph immediately illustrates Petry's utilization of personification. Wind rattling tops of garbage cans, gusts so strong as to "suck" out window shades, indeed, wind throughout the entirety of the passage excerpt plays as an entity of sorts, very much a character guiding the reader through the setting whilst characterizing the urban alleyways and streets. "It found every scrap of paper along the street, theater throwaways, announcements of dances and lodge meetings, the heavy waxed paper that loaves of bread had been wrapped in, the thinner waxed paper that had enclosed sandwiches, old envelopes, newspapers." Wind in the quotation furthers Ann Petry's purpose of painting imagery thru personification. In the given quotation wind acts as a sort of rail guided expressway for us to tour the streets as the personified zephyrs "find every scrap of paper" we learn of the city's evident vivacity with "theater throwaways, announcement of dances". "It found all the dirt, dust and grime on the sidewalk and lifted it up so that the dirt got up into their noses..." We learn thru the seeming mischievous actions of the wind that the streets are not the most lavish, meticulously clean of settings, nor it's respective people. When the wind "lifts Lutie Johnson's hair" we soon learn of our protagonists disdain for the cold, windy setting as the gales make her "shiver" and "even blew her eyelashes away so that her eyes were bathed in a brush of coldness". Through this lack of acclimation to the cold, thru the personified wind and the later evidence, Petry subtly connotes, reveals Lutie Johnson's relationship to the setting. As the wind gives us a guided tour essentially creating the setting for the reader, we can interpret that so to is Lutie seeing the streets for the first time subsequently we can infer that Lutie Johnson is not a native of this setting. Indeed Petry implements the personification of wind as it interacts with the streets as a means of observing the setting thru Johnson's eyes for the very first time, subsequently revealing her relationship to the city, the hostile and cold wind personifying her insecurities as she visits a new city with new people, Petry via personification revealing that Lutie Johnson is not a resident of the region.

"Three rooms, steam heat, parquet floors, respectable tenets. Reasonable." Thru this use of the rhetorical strategy, imagery, Petry ultimately details Lutie Johnson's relationship to the setting. In particilar thr specific selection of details "three rooms..."( etc.) is deliberate on part of Petry's imagery. As Johnson attempts to read against the blustering winds, the imagery of the preceding quotation describing an apartment complex supports the previous inference that Johnson is not a resident of the location as we can infer that she is looking for a place to stay. Subsequently Petry yet again utilizes rhetorical strategies of imagery/selection of detail not simply to relay the superficial facade of the streets to the reader but actually, subtly characterize, reveal Lutie Johnson's relationship as an outsider to the setting, the street.

Ann Petry's use of various rhetorical strategies in her novel The Street not only helps craft the setting but so to subtly characterizes and reveals the protagonist, Lutie Johnson's relationship to the locale. Thru personification of the wind it is revealed that Lutie Johnson is not acclimated, familiar with the area unable to cope with the cold and wind whilst the use of imagery and selection of detail illustrates her pursuit of a place to stay. Indeed, Ann Petry reveals Lutie Johnson's relationship to the urban streets: an outsider to the setting, all this through the instrumentation of rhetorical strategies.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In class essay (4-30-13)

The compulsion of desire is indeed a fundamental facet of human nature. In works of literature, poetry, desire for wealth, desire for fame, desire in innumerable permutations propels individuals towards some ultimate ambition, wants. Sir Phillip Sydney's poem Thou Blind Man's Mark engenders the authors own perspicacity on the subject of desire. Employing various poetic devices such as repetition of key words, couplets, to emphasize central ideas, or imaginative but thematically relevant metaphors, Sydney conveys his respective perspective, attitudes towards desire: do not absorb, mindlessly enthrall yourself within self-desires lest you will lose yourself, your desires become you.

"Desire, desire!" Utilizing strategic repetition of choice diction, like in the preceding quotation, rapidly establishes Sydney's stance on desires ensconced in the poetic work. When he repeats with "too, too long" he brings attention to how for too long he has been wrapped in the self serving thralls of his own desires, his compulsion to achieve his desires overriding any and all other aspects more so crucial when he says "who should my mind to higher things prepare." Directly referencing higher more noble causes he simply ignores due to careless wants. "In vain, in vain" in vain, Sydney again uses repetition to emphasize how all of his actions to accomplish his desires have been in vain. "In vain thou maddest me to things aspire" the compulsion of desire as Sydney connotes only caused him grief madness as he could only obsess about those things that he "aspire(s)" or in other words desires. "In vain thou kindlest all thy smoky fire" here thy smoky fire connotes yet again how selfish desire ultimately bears no fruit, kindles only smoke no fire or results, his actions in vain. Thru repetition Sydney reveals the follies of mindless pursuit of desires, emphasizing his own attitudes by way of repeating diction, emphasizing how actions towards only the seizure of self desire are ultimately all "in vain".

"Band of all evils, cradle of careless care" With this metaphor Sydney makes use of the poetic device to clearly and cleverly convey his attitudes towards desire. "band of all evils" or desire, as Sydney furthers, is the root of all dilemma, metaphorical "band of all evils". The later half of the excerpt " cradle of careless care" again conveys Sydney's perception of desire as the conception point birthing recklessness as well as careless self-obsession, forgetting anything and anyone not relevant to his mad lust of desire. "Thou web of will whose end is never wrought" is another notable example Sydney's use of metaphor, the author likening desire as an inextricable web trapping all "will" except those relevant, again, to the pursuit of desires. Never ending, "never wrought" Sydney implements the device of metaphor to convey his attitudes, his seemingly endless torment, despair unable to rest without accomplishing selfish-avarice, his desires never ending, "never wrought".

Ambition is hailed in American culture, utter dedication to achieving a goal, aggressively acquiring our wants, obtaining our desires no matter the cost, perceived as a positive societal trait. Sir Phillip Sydney's Thou Blind Man's Mark warns against such recklessly selfish pursuits of avarice, warns against the blinding mark of desire. Whether it be strategic use of the device of repetition to emphasize the vain of self-vanity, or the instrumentation of metaphors to identify the "web" of inextricable trappings that is desire, binding and blinding all will other than wants, Sydney clearly conveys his perspective, attitudes towards desire. The mark of ignorance, a " blind man" is one who forgets any and all things not relevant to himself, the stigmata of a "blind man" one who forgets, allows his wants, his desires to become him, forgets, forgoes and loses his self in the process.

Monday, April 29, 2013

In class essay (4-29-13)

In Barbara kingsolvers The poisonwood bible, there is a cast of characters widely varied but all experiencing some measure of change prompted by there environment, surroundings, no more so than Leah Price. At first and foremost the daughter of a priest an, following her fathers zealous religious footsteps, Leah's experiences in the african congo amongst the native populace makes an indelible impact on her character. Maturing mentally, intellectually, Leah by novels end becomes enlightened, empathetic towards the differing values, cultural beliefs of the African tribe she came to "purge" the surrounding culture shaping her development as well as helping shed light, illuminating the ultimate meaning of the work.

Arriving in the African Congo the prices are a god fearing family. Led by their zealous father Nathan price, the family is on a mission delivered unto by Christianity, god to purge the native paganism of the local tribes. Indeed Leah Price is at the outset of Poisonwood bible the paradigm of daddy little girl following in her fathers footsteps blinded by his misguided idealism, ignorance, she so to wishing to purge the locals of there fundamental faith. Yet her time in the Congo, observing and interacting with the locals soon comes to change her. When she begins "educating" the locals on ger Christian values early in the novel, Leah soon learns the culture and customs of the indigenous rapidly realizing her faith to be to excluding and too out of touch out if place for the Congolese. Effectually falling in love with not only Africa but the locals beliefs, she marries a local boy named Anatole so to effectively marrying the ideals of Africa rather than that of her fathers blind, ignorance unaccepting of others perspicacity. Leah is shaped by her surroundings, her developmental odyssey, sojourn from being blind and ignorant attempting to purge and force her own ideals to eventually understanding, empathizing and embracing the congolese views, her conversions ultimately illuminating the most prominent overarching theme, meaning vested in the work: tolerance for others beliefs and culture.

Within Barbara Kingsolver's novel The Poisonwood Bible we witness the effects, indelible impact of surroundings upon a character. Leah price begins as daddy's little girl following the religious zealous ideals of her upbringing lacking at first any and all understanding, tolerance for others cultures, beliefs. Initially arriving to purge the paganism of the Congolese, Leah's time in Africa, her interactions with the local denizens, her surroundings quickly shape her, engender new beliefs. It is she who is educated when attempting to educate and exterminate the culture of the locals she learning only what they could teach: acceptance of others, tolerance. When she marries the congo tribesman Anatole she symbolically marries Kimgsolvers ultimate theme, her surroundings marrying her to the very meaning of the work: tolerance, acceptance of others culture, beliefs.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Party like it's 1999


·      Prose Essay


A master of the written craft, Cormac McCarthy employs a plethora of literary techniques, rhetorical strategies within his vast catalog of works. In his novel The Crossing, McCarthy’s particular utilization of grave similes as well as pastoral, solemn imagery plays to the dramatic impact of the given traumatic event upon the title’s primary character, indirect characterization so to ultimately revealing his sorrow.

            “His trousers were stiff with blood. He cradled the wolf in his arms and lowered her to the ground…” McCarthy opens in the passage of above with the introduction of the unnamed protagonist traveling with a notably bleeding, injured wolf. The specific diction of “cradled” is a device that instantly and indirectly characterizes the protagonist’s nurturing nature towards the wolf, his actions characterizing the protagonist’s peculiar tenderness for the wolf as if cradling gently a napping babe. Further on the following quote furthers McCarthy’s aims of conveying the protagonist’s intimate sense of despair, loss, ultimate sorrow towards the dying wolf. “He fell asleep with his hands palm up before him like some dozing penitent” With this marked simile “like some dozing penitent” McCarthy likens the character to a “penitent” or an individual shamed and sorrowful for committing  a wrongdoing, subsequently the author sheds light upon the internal sorrow, the impact of the wolf’s petering hours of perish upon our character in question. “He squatted over the wolf and touched her fur. He touched the cold and perfect teeth. The eye turned to the fire and gave back no light and he closed it with his thumb and sat by her and put his hand upon her bloodied forehead and closed his own eyes that he could see her running in the mountains, running in the starlight where the grass was wet and the sun’s coming as yet had not undone the rich matrix of creatures passed in the night before her.” This passage excerpt conclusively reveals the impact of the wolf’s death upon McCarthy’s primary character. McCarthy employs yet again indirect characterization to deliver the impact of the event with the first half of this excerpt when “He [the protagonist] squatted over the wolf and touched her fur. He touched the cold and perfect teeth. The eye turned to the fire and gave back no light and he closed it with his thumb and sat by her and put his hand upon her bloodied forehead and closed his own eyes”  the protagonist laments the death of the wolf sorrowfully combing thru her fur, “touched the cold and perfect teeth” closing her eyes and his own to paint a pastoral, romanticized reflection, imagery of the wolf alive where “he could see her running in the mountains, running in the starlight where the grass was wet and the sun’s coming as yet had not undone the rich matrix of creatures passed in the night before her.” This pastoral imagery on part of McCarthy further connoting his deep seated loss, sorrow.

          Indeed, Cormac McCarthy is an undeniable master of the written craft he utilizing a menagerie of literary techniques, rhetorical strategies in his works such as The Crossing to further plot as well as the development of his characters. Making use of grave similes likening the unnamed protagonist as a “penitent”, the protagonist is unequivocally perturbed, impacted if not personally shamed, sorrowed by the loss of the wolf. Gently “cradling” the wolf like that of a human babe, McCarthy indirectly characterizes the character thru his tenderness and peculiarly intimate actions as he brushes the wolfs fur, as he  closes her lightless eyes and his own to romantically recreate, imagine the wolf alive and running in  vivid pastoral imagery. Unquestioningly a master, Cormac McCarthy in all of his works develops not only his plot but so to his characters, The Crossing in particular depicting the impact of a character’s character, his loss, revealing his sorrow all via the use of literary techniques, rhetorical strategies.


·       Open Essay


"Nobody, but he who has felt it, can conceive what a plaguing thing it is to have a man's mind torn asunder by two projects of equal strengths, both obstinately pulling in a contrary direction at the same time." – Laurence Sterne

Conflicting ideals, wants, ambitions, indeed these are the seeds of action, driving force of myriads of characters throughout literature. In William Shakespeare’s legendary gothic tale Macbeth, the eponymous title character, Macbeth, experiences an internal struggle as two competing  desires, Lady Macbeth’s power lust  and his own guilty conscious, not only characterize the character but so to the ultimate meaning of the work as a whole.  

“Fair is foul and foul is fair.” The three witches of the deity Hectate serve as both the prophesiers and proponents propelling Macbeth towards his ultimate destiny: to kill his king and become king. Yet, throughout the play Macbeth struggles internally and externally with his own ideals as his wife, Lady Macbeth has her own desires, racks against his own hesitation essentially forcing Macbeth’s hand. When Lady Macbeth hears word of Macbeth’s potential usurp of more power, potential crowning as the new king, she wastes no time, has no hesitation in what she must do. She goads and manipulates Macbeth against his own desires and guilt so that she may achieve her own agenda: more power. She forces him to kill the King, Duncan, even whilst Macbeth himself questions why, has differing competing desires. Why would he kill a kind and magnanimous ruler? Why would he kill his King when he has already praised and promoted Macbeth to even higher royal rank, social stature? Why would he kill his own King, intermediary of his God? Indeed Shakespeare prompts Macbeth’s struggle between his own desires and Lady Macbeth’s lust for power. In the eponymous play Macbeth eventually gives in to his hesitation, his own lack of desires for that of Lady Macbeth’s and ultimately killed himself by the play’s climax subsequently Macbeth is a symbol of ambition. Macbeth’s corruption of his morality, his desires for that of Lady Macbeth’s, killing a king a high sin of treason and god fearing faith in an Elizabethan age, fulfills the works ultimate theme, purpose: a cautionary tale warning against excessive, selfish, ambitions.

“A little water clears us of this deed.” Lady Macbeth’s desires of power ironically lead to her own as well as Macbeth’s demise. Although Macbeth had his own desires, or at least saw little need to kill his king he eventually, after an internal struggle, gave in to Lady Macbeth’s agenda, lust for power. These two competing desires deliberately employed by Shakespeare to fulfill the ultimate theme of Macbeth: a testament, a cautionary tale warning against excessive, selfish ambitions.

Saturday, April 27, 2013



  • Prompt: [1994] Poems: “To Helen” (Edgar Allan Poe) and “Helen” (H.D.). The following two poems are about Helen of Troy. Renowned in the ancient world for her beauty, Helen was the wife of Menelaus, a Greek King. She was carried off to Troy by the Trojan prince Paris, and her abduction was the immediate cause of the Trojan War. Read the two poems carefully. Considering such elements as speaker, diction, imagery, form, and tone, write a well-organized essay in which you contrast the speakers’ views of Helen.