Friday, March 29, 2013

Land of the Free, Home of the Brave

Ray Bradbury - The Martian Chronicles

                Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles is a tale of conquest drawing many parallels with the invasion of America. Just as Europeans came to America and imposed their rules and customs nearly exterminating the natives in the process, so the humans came to Mars and did the same. The parallel is most obvious in "—And the Moon Be Still as Bright" where Spender talks of Cortes' destruction of the Aztec Empire and Cheroke shows empathy for the Martians because of his Cherokee ancestry.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Convergence of the Sexes

Charlotte Perkins Gilman - Herland

                There's an obvious feminist aspect to Herland, but it's just a frame for more universal ideas. The depiction of perfect society consisting only of women clearly strives to show they are no less capable than men, but rather than emphasizing female characteristics, Gilman creates a society in which they are toned down and concentrates on common human qualities. Terry's rant makes it evident: "They've neither the vices of men, nor the virtues of women — they're neuters!"

Power of Quantity

H.G. Wells - The Invisible Man
H.G. Wells - The Country of the Blind

                There is a great struggle between the individual and the society presented in The Invisible Man and The Country of the Blind. Both feature a lone man with a remarkable distinction from the others which, at first seeming advantageous, soon turns out to be the source of his doom.

The Beauty of Creation

Nathaniel Hawthorne -  The Artist of the Beautiful

                All of Hawthorne's and Poe's short stories but one have death as one of the main motifs. The exception is Hawthorne's The Artist of the Beautiful. While the other stories talk about transience this one celebrates eternity.

Friday, March 01, 2013

The curse of ambition

Mary Shelley - Frankenstein

                One of the most interesting things in Shelley's novel is a parallel she creates between Victor Frankenstein and his creation. Both of them are highly intelligent beings with a great thirst for knowledge as well as an extraordinary eloquence, moved by the beauty of nature and human kindness and led, at first, only by good and noble thoughts. They also both end up in misery, wanting for themselves nothing but the death of one another. The parallels point to a special connection between the two, similar to that between God and man. However, while God created (man) in his own image, Frankenstein hasn't, as the "daemon" laments: "...but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid from its very resemblance."