Persepolis: A Female Bildungsroman?

Posted in Uncategorized on December 9th, 2016 by Ravenn Haynes

First off, Persepolis 1 is a fantastic graphic novel, that is intriguing in both words and illustration. Marjane Satrapi definitely took a medium that is usually used for light stories, and told a story of growth as a young girl living during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Personally, I think that was a rather brilliant idea. It is not only engaging and fun to read as a reader, but I’m pretty sure it was fun and challenging as a writer and artist.

This story fits into various different genres such as Bildungsroman, Memoir, Political Commentary, Historical Non-fiction and most obviously, a graphic novel. With that said, we see the growth in Marji throughout the story as she is thrust to face the war during her childhood. More specifically, I really enjoyed reading the chapter, The Bicycle, as it was the chapter that really took us into the history of Iran as it was once apart of the Persian Empire. Through the artwork and the words she chose, Satrapi described to the reader the various ways the Persian Empire was invaded, and through her illustrated showed exactly what their characters were like.

From the very beginning of the novel, when wearing the veil was inflicted upon young girls and women, we got a sense of Marji’s idea of the world and the idea of freedom, and that is demonstrated in The Bicycle. She wants to be apart of the revolution, she wants to reads all of the literature she can to be well informed. She wants very badly to be an adult. This idea of being an adult is tied to her belief in God. God was present in the first few chapters of the graphic novel and in those chapters, she had a child-like mindset despite her interest in the revolution. When she banished God, she became more of a free thinker and acted out on this. She was interested in punk and wanted to listen to western music. The hold that the Islamic government had on the people of Iran that constantly killed people and imprisoned them, I feel gave Marji a negative taste in her mouth, and as God is the “center” of the Islamic government, she didn’t want to be apart of something that harms people for wanting to take advantage of their free will.



Harry Potter: The 20th Century Bildungsroman

Posted in Uncategorized on December 9th, 2016 by Ravenn Haynes

Would I consider Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban to be a bildungsroman? Maybe. Would I consider it to be a school story? Definitely. The story’s premise is on the adventures of the protagonist, Harry Potter’s journey at England’s most promising school of wizardry, Hogwarts. We are introduced to Harry’s friends, Ron and Hermione, as they are the ones who help him develop as both a character and a person throughout the series. This relationship is essential in the school story, as is demonstrated in Stalky & Co., Tom Brown’s School Days, David Copperfield, and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Each of the main characters in these novels have friends that help them rise to the forefront of the story, or they develop together as a unit.

In Harry Potter, everyone plays a role. From Dumbledore the headmaster, to Professor McGonagall, to Professor Snape, and Professor Lupin. It is almost as though, each professor plays a more grand role than the initial title they are given. For example, when Harry and Ron come face to face with Peter Pettigrew, Sirius Black, and Professor Lupin, Professor Snape barges in, but it is in this moment that Harry learns how important the three other characters were to him and his family, and what the act of true betrayal actually meant. Black was more than an ex convict, Pettigrew was more than a pet rat, and Lupin was more than your average Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. Obviously, Snape was more than Harry’s enemy, as it is later revealed in other books that Snape was actually looking after Harry for his mother and for Dumbledore. He wasn’t actually against Harry, instead it could be argued that he is jealous of how Harry came to be and that he is projecting his anger and jealousy of Harry’s parents’ relationship onto Harry himself, especially since he has sworn to watch over him.

That concept raises another point; the idea that further details are revealed in another book. The mere fact that the Harry Potter series is a compilation of journeys that Harry and his friends embark on is exactly why Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is not a bildungsroman on it’s own as it is just a glimpse of Harry’s progression as a person, a wizard, and a character. You have to look at the whole picture, and by reading the entire series, you can see that growth. You can come to the conclusion that Harry developed on his own, or is truly the hero of the story aside from being the protagonist, or you can concur that he is simply the stepping stone in which Hermione and Ron discover themselves and they are the ones who truly experience a development in character.

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie: The Female Bildungsroman

Posted in Uncategorized on November 18th, 2016 by Ravenn Haynes

Throughout this class, we have constantly mentioned the term bildungsroman. Interestingly, we haven’t just left the definition to define the typical male bildungsroman, but we’ve compared the term to other works that have possibly fit the criteria for a bildungsroman, and we’ve contrasted those same works against those that do not fit the definition.

This week, we focused on The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks, a novel about 5 different young girls, who all have certain attributes that define them as they get older. These girls are the chosen pupils of Miss Jean Brodie who happens to be in her prime during the 1930s in Edinburg, Scotland.

There are two terms that are constantly mentioned throughout the novel by Miss Jean Brodie, and those are crème de la crème and prime. She hoped to make her Brodie set the crème de la crème while she was in her prime. To her, they were lucky that she was in her prime, as they could benefit from that.

Aside from the constant theme on Miss Brodie being in her prime, Miss Brodie’s character is rather unusual also, and that is what set this work aside from the others we’ve read so far. It is intense, and in depth, and very thought provoking. Miss Brodie had a teaching method that contrasts the headmaster’s, Miss Mackay. She said that Miss Mackay is interested in the thrusting out of her pupils, while to Miss Brodie, she felt that education meant leading out.

The concept of thrusting out and leading out is a subtle focal point of this novel. It is understandable that a bildungsroman in general contains some element of education, whether it be directly in the school, or an indirect learning of a lesson that has happened throughout the protagonist’s life. As I think about the idea of leading out and thrusting in or out in terms of one’s education, I believe that both elements can be necessary. In some situations, it will be easy to direct someone into a lesson, or place the object in from of them, and in other situations, it might be easier to thrust, or be more forceful in tactic to allow the lesson to hit home.

Stalky & Co. vs. Tom Brown’s Schooldays

Posted in Uncategorized on November 10th, 2016 by Ravenn Haynes

These two novels, Stalky & Co. by Rudyard Kipling and Tom Brown’s Schooldays by Tom Hughes, are both novels that exemplify the sub-genre, “School Story” in the broader genre, Bildungsroman. They were both written 40 years apart from one another, Tom Brown’s Schooldays being the elder, having been published in 1857, and Stalky & Co. published between 1897 and 1899. Both stories centers around the typical all boys boarding school in England. One school was Rugby while the other was the United Services College.

Interestingly enough, aside from how the story was written, the way it was written, in reference to its  dialect and tone, one would think that the elder story were harder to understand and would actually be written in more of a school boy’s slang, as the younger story would be the exact opposite as it was written near the turn of the century. Instead, Tom Brown’s Schooldays has more of a standard english dialect with moments within the story revealing the slang of the characters. Stalky & Co. on the other hand, contains more of a harder to understand dialect, that really takes you into the story, as if you are sitting in on the conversations themselves between Stalky, Beetle, and Turkey (McTurks).

Moreover, the slang used in Stalky & Co. shows the most obvious difference between the two books. Stalky & Co. has more of a rebellious tone to it. From the very beginning, we know exactly where these characters stand in the story. They are the “bad kids”, the “outsiders”. Most times, this is how the stories develop the characters. This is what makes the story a bildungsroman, aside from the school aspect. Although, the school plays an enormous role in why this is a bildungsroman, thus calling this a school story. Tom Brown’s Schooldays, is not necessarily the opposite, but the sections we were to read, chapter 5 and 8 of Part 1, do suggest that he was a good and innocent boy, who found beauty in things (rugby). Then later on, he began to rebel, but there was a progression in that moment. So far, both stories show the opposing sides, where the bad boys potentially turn good, and then the good boy turns bad, but perhaps he becomes good again, because who wants their protagonist to be rebellious in the end?

Biographical Notice: Agnes Grey

Posted in Uncategorized on November 10th, 2016 by Ravenn Haynes

Reading over the Biographical Notice in Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, I can’t help but think about how courageous these women were. Sure, they wrote about docile women and their subtle growth as a woman during the Victorian Era, but aside from that, they wrote. They used their voices and wrote about things that pertained to their lives, whether it be autobiographical or not.

To me, such an act speaks volume. One might argue that they actually weren’t courageous because they carried on under pseudonyms ( which were male names), but there are many sides to this point. Pseudonyms are very powerful. They allow one to write without judgement and without restraint. As women, your work is viewed differently, harshly. Pseudonyms grant you freedom, and therefore you will be judged as a man. Their works were regarded well and this was under the pseudonym, thus proving the benefits to write under another name.

Another thing that struck me in this Biographical Notice was the Charlotte Bronte described her late sisters, Emile and Anne. While she had some good things to say about them, she also criticized them, but used that criticism to speak highly of them at the same time. She sings their praises yet criticizes them all the while.

Agnes Grey (Female DC)?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8th, 2016 by Ravenn Haynes

“All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity, that the dry, shriveled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut. Whether this may be the case with my history or not, I am hardly competent to judge. I sometimes think it might prove useful to some, and entertaining to others; but the world may judge for itself. Shielded by my own obscurity, and by the lapse of years, and a few fictitious names, I do not fear to venture; and will candidly lay before the public what I would not disclose to the most intimate friend.”

Here lies the opening paragraph of Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. It definitely sounds like the opening sentence of David Copperfield, in that it is very humble in its remarks, leaving the opinion of the novel solely in the hands of the reader. However, the means in which one protagonist is more open than the other is the question. Agnes Grey is certainly the more open of the two. She blatantly says that this novel is for the public and she does not fear indulgence. In fact, she is openly presenting her work, whereas, David Copperfield was more casual in that he felt if his work were to be found and therefore read, then so be it. But they both had the idea of the work speaking for itself and it being “in the eye of the beholder”. Perhaps Charles Dickens was inspired by Anne Bronte when he wrote this line and decided to develop on the idea. Obviously, he couldn’t produce a female bildungsroman because he is not a woman. Or can he? It’s actually quite possible, but to write an autobiographical female bildungsroman, I think that will prove to be quite challenging enough.

David Copperfield: An Imitation

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27th, 2016 by Ravenn Haynes

For the past five weeks, we have been reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Although, it is a rather large novel, (my edition is about 1020 pages), I find myself enjoying reading it. At first, I figured, it might be dull or lack entertainment, but it has proved to be very intriguing. The first line grabbed me, where David said, “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that state will be held by anyone else, these pages must show.” How powerful is that? The mere fact that he left his outwardly image in our hands, the hands of the oh so trust worthy reader, whose opinion on most things varies depending on the circumstance. He didn’t tell us that this was a heroic story, but instead left it up to our own vices to draw our own conclusion after having read the entire novel.

I love when artists are humble. Sometimes they have their own plot and idea of what they want to happen and how they want their work to be seen, all the while waiting for audience to catch on and see the vision too. Sometimes it happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. But I love the fact that David Copperfield plainly stated that it was up to us. He could have just been humble or he really doesn’t know if he should be considered the hero of his story. Through beautiful prose, I felt certain moments of the story. One instance in particular that we read in class today is from the 2007 Penguin Group Edition on pages 1018 and 1019. The two paragraphs that describe his encounter with nature really resonated within me. He took on a very romantic, and pastoral persona when he spoke of the valley that he visited. It had a rather somber yet meditative tone. Everything seemed to slow in that moment as nature helped him put things into perspective. It even allowed him to go back to his natural habitat and mourn like a babe over the death of Dora. Thinking about it now and writing it in this blog post takes me to the place where he was, reminding me that sometimes, it is good to stop and literally smell the roses.

Horror? I think not!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 27th, 2016 by Ravenn Haynes

When I think the of the genres that Candide by Voltaire fits into, horror is not one of them. Sure there were some horrific moments in the novella, but because of the satirically, cynical, and comical aspect, I lost the horrific feeling when reading of the terrible things that took place. For example, when the narrator explains the battle scene towards to the beginning of the book, it was very graphic and rather gory, but there were subtle hints and moments where it seemed as Voltaire was making fun of the corpses that were lying around with their bowels pouring out of their weary vessels.

Another example was when Cunegonde and Candide met again for the first time and she got him to kill the priest and the Jew because they raped her. She had a lightness about her, as if something terrible hadn’t happened to her. To add to the cynicism, in the operetta that we watched in class, the director and everyone else involved in the creative process of that operetta, decided to exaggerate her already nonchalant attitude. In fact, she used her rape to manipulate Candide into killing those two men. Therefore, this novella doesn’t quite fit the stigma of a horror novel but instead one of cynicism and satire.

Is Candide by Voltaire a War Novel?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8th, 2016 by Ravenn Haynes

The element of the text that I feel does not fit the War Novel genre, is pretty much the entire novel excluding the war scene shown in Chapter 3. The traditional definition of a war novel, as per Wikipedia, is a novel that takes place primarily on a battlefield, or in a civilian setting where the characters are, either focused on the preparations of, suffering the effects of, or recovering from war. When reading this novel, thoughts of satirical and ironic elements pop in my mind. Reviewing this novel, it would seem to fit more into the picaresque genre, where the main character is taking us, the reader, along for the ride.

Whereas, in the War Novel, literally every other aspect, aside from the war scene, does not fit into this description of that genre. Even then, re-reading Chapter 3 and thinking of the impact that scene had on the rest of the novel, I see none. Instead, there is a rather humorous aspect to this chapter where the narrator says, ” Climbing over ruins and stumbling over twitching torsos, Candide finally made his way out of the war area,…” (8). I’m not sure if I have twisted sense of humour, but that sentence took away from the seriousness a War Novel is supposed to have. Voltaire took a tragedy and made light of it, leaving a trail of insignificance, in my opinion. The passage didn’t have the impact on the main character where the story’s goal was to focus on the preparations of, the suffering effects, and the recovery from war. Rather, this was more of a stepping stone into the next stage of his adventure. Almost like a passing point.

My Modern-Day Bildungsroman

Posted in Uncategorized on September 1st, 2016 by Ravenn Haynes

The issue of Feminism in today’s society has been a topic that roamed the mind of many citizens in the United States as we are trying to really understand what exactly feminism is and what the various platforms are. I know some of you may think that it is rather simple and that practically everyone should be a feminist, while others may think feminism is overrated and it isn’t for everyone.

Well I completely disagree with the latter, as it is an issue that I’ve witness in the life of my friend nearly every time I see her. She is currently in a relationship with this guy and he is a very domineering person, sometimes overwhelming for even a person like me (a strong-willed and not easily deterred woman). Yet nearly everytime I am in their midst, my heart breaks a little.

An incident between the boyfriend and I took place a few months ago, and I was infuriated, partly because of his insistent tendancy towards an insecure issue, but mainly because she just sat and listened to the entire thing transpire. No input. No output. Nothing.

If my boyfriend had constantly badgered or picked on a friend, I would expect him to stop when I asked him to and out of respect for my friend, apologize for being a jerk. As a man who is willing to put his ego aside, he would do just that.

But my friend did absolutely nothing. I can’t emphasize that enough. She probably told him to stop bothering me maybe once, and when he didn’t, she didn’t ask him again. When he threw a temper tantrum, I told him about himself. I let him know that he doesn’t know how to stop when things get too heated, and I told him that if it were the other way around, he wouldn’t be able to take the insults I would dish back at him.

He arrogantly “thanked” me for my opinion and slammed the door of my friend’s house. All the while, her anger towards me grew. Later, she went to her room and stayed there on the phone with him, pacifying his childish ways.

Let me ask you: What kind of a woman dismisses the rude and disrespectful things her boyfriend does to her friend? What kind of a woman would let his actions go unnoticed because she didn’t want him to be angry with her? I have a few ideas.

She is intimidated by him. Now, with my ideology of a relationship, and I’m sure many of you can agree, a woman is NOT to be intimidated by a man. Neither should a man be intimidated by a woman. As a feminist, I believe men and women, should be equal partners in a relationship. There should be a level of respect, and I believe when your love for someone grows, as should your respect for that person.

So, even if he hadn’t stopped because I asked him to, I believe he should have stopped simply because she asked this of him. It breaks my heart that she is planning on marrying this man as well. With his dominating personality, I fear for where they’ll stand when more important issues rise in their relationship.

Relationships like this sets us back decades where women were inferior to men. Where men made all of the decisions and women sat by and accepted them. This upsets me because women have come a long way, and to see this makes me feel as though we actually haven’t gotten far.

I’m not saying women have to be bitchy or adopt the image and persona of a man, but I am saying that women should be equal to men, ESPECIALLY in a relationship. Otherwise, it screams trouble.

Being a witness to this couple, I’ve learned to adjust the way I treat my loved ones and make sure that we are equals in all that we do. I’ve learned that they are the prim example of what I won’t be teaching my children and what I’ll show them to steer clear of in the future.

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