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Hedda Gabler November 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 12:53 pm

I just started my second independent book and I chose Hedda Gabler.  I kind of just did a finger point/chose from one of the shorter stories-on-the-list but I really like it so far!  It’s very readable and pretty interesting.  I always think it’s funny when I read a book from before the 1900s that seems like a current day, “junky”,  gossip novel.  In this story specifically- this is probably, in part because it is a play- and much like the Crucible, the reader is brought immediately into the heart of the story and sees even the worst parts of society.  I guess what I’m trying to say is that when people think of the 1800s, they imagine horse drawn carriages and victorian mansions but to actually see into a specific house and hear that these people are very petty and aren’t talking about stuff that is all that important, is quite surprising.  Hedda comes from an especially prominent family and we see just how false the relationships are when she is dissatisfied with her new life with Tesman, who, ironically is far less well off.  Her interaction with Mrs Elvsted shows just how self absorbed she is-Hedda gets Mrs Elvsted to open up about her unhappy marriage and about her very close relationship with Ejlert Lovborg.  Hedda thinks that the world is hers, that she will get whatever she wants and in a way, she actually does make that happen.  She forces Mrs Elvsted to overlook the way she treated her in school and to share her deepest secrets.  Mrs Elvsted is meek and timid but Hedda uses her charm to control Mrs Elvsted, who really has no business with Hedda and gains nothing by sharing her secrets with her.

Henrik Ibsen’s choice to make aspects of this  story as unrealistic and fantasy like as possible-to exaggerate qualities and situations that are preposterous to call out elements of real life that really exist is such an effective method.  But then I think the most interesting and well read books are those that don’t wander that far from the average person’s life.  My first reaction to what I’ve been reading was that these people are so ignorant and superficial but the world today hasn’t really changed that much.  Like my psychology blog perspective, deeply ingrained segments of society and personal moral character have  low chances of changing or improving and Hedda Gabler is just another example of that.


Psych Research Method Write Up November 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 8:39 pm

Psych 11/25

Throughout history people have been aware of gender inequality and have simply ignored or overlooked it.  But what is at the heart of the issue?  Why has sexism survived for so long?  Two different studies, both centered around women, reveal different things due to varying research methods/experiments.

The first study took a unique perspective- that certain languages/words are associated with a gender and therefore keep our world gender oriented, not recognizing an object for what it is but rather as a soft(female) or hard(male) concept.  Using Correlational Research methods, Naturalistic Observation enabled scientists to manipulate any variables(the words, matching two words that were considered as opposite “genders”) and saw how that affected that language’s response.  People often times can’t elaborate or explain their thoughts or in this case, prejudices, and this study proved that these gender associated words are meaningless-a word that a German speaker can be so sure about as “female” related, is perplexed when an opposing word is compared and that person is completely unable to explain their reasoning.

As said, the effects of gendered language on our thoughts are currently seen especially in the science professions.  In a second study, undercover audio was collected- people weren’t given the chance to explain themselves and the real world was revealed. Women scientists collected audiotapes of random interactions over a period of time and the response each woman received was analyzed.  The comparison and the depth of the prejudicial language used while speaking to these women scientists was revealing to the researchers about the nature of what they experience in their careers. Interestingly, this study was still done using Naturalistic Observation, but this information enabled scientists to predict the future and generate ideas for additional research.  Less women occupy the science field but this can be applied on a larger scale- this study shows the pattern of women’s self fulfilling prophecy.  They are shown less support and are constantly the underdog and these difficulties affect women.  Many give up or aren’t able to perform to their highest ability.  It is incredible that the subtleties of a language can have such a huge effect on society and that despite current efforts to explain it and educate the world, history repeats itself and nothing changes.


Acts of Kindness November 25, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 11:31 pm

As Thanksgiving break concludes, I wanted to share something that caught my attention throughout it.  The month of November was renamed “Acts of Kindness Month”, featuring random pictures, videos, and stories of exceptional behavior.  At first what I saw seemed outrageous- people were going completely out of their way to help others.  Today, people think of thoughtfulness, kindness, and generosity as who gives the most expensive, valuable objects as a gift or who can do the most publicly visible gesture like donating money or advocating for a third world nation.  Really, in my mind, these actions are disingenuous efforts-acts ruled by self centric accolades.  On the other hand, being able to be creative and know just what will touch a person means so much more.  Interestingly, these situations are not planned ahead of time- they already had a kind heart and did what they felt was just the right thing to do.  Old and young, rich and poor, friend and competitor all performed incredible acts-a man got out of his car to help an old lady cross a busy road, a family gave a local homeless man a Thanksgiving dinner and included him in their activities, and two competitors carried an opponent around the bases in a softball game after she had hit a home run and hurt her knee and her own team couldn’t help her.


In the Jewish tradition, charity and giving are constant demands of the commandments.  There are levels of giving with the most revered being those that are committed with no benefit to the giver and done so anonymously.  I am sure that is true for all of the major religions.  My take on it is that it is in your nature or not-that being a natural, constant giver is not something that can be trained so much as a natural inclination, especially in the case of random and spontaneous acts.  I also think though that kindness should not be closely evaluated.  The value of what one does should not be judged so long as they participated.


At two of my sister’s college, Lehigh tried to get more people to say hi (because of Le’high’) and Brown created a website where people can post random compliments.  When I even smile at someone in the hallways at TA, I get a glare, confused, or blank look.  As much as people think of Maine as a close knit community, I’m really excited for college where everyone has something in common and it isn’t unusual for strangers to show a random act of kindness.


This website had some incredible ones… in_n_2147755.html#slide=1264949


Act III The Crucible November 23, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 10:00 pm

The whole Salem witch trials event is so preposterous and at the time, I think even the most pious people didn’t really believe in witchcraft but they were simply bored and like modern day society, they were looking for ways to bring others down.  The Puritan society created almost no opportunity for creativity or imagination.  In response,  the girls who danced in the woods have strong imaginations and were probably getting out some pent up energy. When caught participating in this sinful behavior, they have to fake their stories to extremes, whipping up their imaginations and even they begin to believe in them(they truly fear the yellow bird in the roof of the courtroom).


This story is still relevant today.  One of the consistent messages Hawthorne presented was how widespread this circle of blame could spread.  No one was safe.  Neighbor, family, and friend accused another of bewitching them, knowing that their punishment would be lessened or disappear if the attention was taken off them.  Witchcraft was a fabrication and the same principle of not taking responsibility for one’s actions and faults still holds true today. Evidence of this can be found everyday- how parents blame teachers for their children’s problems, how criminals blame the victim for making it so enticing.   I also recently read about how the US deals with terrorists, requiring for them to point a finger at another in exchange for leniency.  The person succumbing to this system is at fault, but really the people in charge are, who are creating this environment, bear a large amount of blame.  I think Danforth is at the heart of the matter in the Crucible; not deeply considering the townspeople’s pleas that it is deceit and therefore, abusing his power.  It takes the event to go beyond repair for the matter to be solved or go back to normal and since everyone in Salem is prey to becoming a victim, the story must end with a crumbling of events.


Israel/Gaza Bombing November 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 12:30 am

I’m obviously biased since  I’m Jewish but it is so frustrating how Israel and Jewish people have  been relentlessly  attacked for so long.  Jewish people are typically humble, giving, quiet people but nonetheless they are still targeted.  In situations with Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and most recently with the Palestinians in Gaza, Israel simply defends itself.  Even still, they are seen as monsters and that they are fueling the fight and the media presents them as the enemy, only sharing stories from poor innocent Arab civilians who are incidentally hurt in the struggle.  As a hopeful future journalist, my radar is up for biased reporting and since this is such a personal issue for me, I am particularly sensitive to the types and tone of reporting occurring.  My sense is that most American’s are prejudiced toward Jews and Israel and see this an Israeli issue-of which a dominant power is squashing the poor Palestinians rather than the age old pursuit by the Arab nations to deny Israel’s right to exist and their hope for the complete annihilation of the Jewish people.

Sometimes  it is an outside, unbiased source that takes control.  Israel and the Palestinians are in an unwinnable battle, equally butting heads to no avail.  I am so relieved to hear PresidentObama sees Israel as the victim.  He said Israel was within its rights to respond to an attack on its territory.  “There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.  We are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself.”  And that last part is critical.  Israel should not be scorned for defending their country against an outside threat.  The US is only aiding a country that is on the verge of crumbling due to a pointless, illegitimate battle that they never wanted to enter in the first place.  Much like the Holocaust, the US intervened because the trauma got to such a high level, the event was clearly inhumane and unjust, and the Jew’s only hope/the only way the fight would end was with the aid of  an outside source.


Act I of the Crucible November 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 1:40 pm

First off, our discussions in class were very helpful.  I’ve read the Crucible before and felt like I understood it but never would have thought as deeply about things on my own.  Some of the perspectives I don’t think I ever would have thought of!  It was great to distinguish four different themes-self preservation, vengeance, ignorance, and arrogance(and the fact that Giles is pronounced with a soft g haha).  In response to question 5 from our packet, it is really tragic to see the four things we discussed in class were prevalent  in their lives in the first place.  Clearly, they had forgotten why they had moved to America and could not see the hypocrisy of what they were doing.  Puritans/Protestants left Catholic-run England to escape the religious restrictions; they couldn’t worship the way they wanted to and were oftentimes killed for trying, so their only option was to flee the country.  It is baffling that they would not have learned from this experience-that they would go so far as to leave a country to escape large scale religious conflict but then got all caught up in something as preposterous as witchcraft.  Even the most selfish, ignorant, arrogant person should remember their past.  I understand that the Salem Witch Trials were spurred on by fear; no one wanted to be isolated and punished and so the snowballing of accusing a scapegoat went on.  It is ironic that the town of Salem created an environment much like, possibly worse, than their homeland of England.  In England, they were at least allowed to practice some religion or they were left alone if they followed the rules.  In Salem however, there was no fairness-once one was unjustly accused, the only way they could survive was by accusing other people or admitting to witchcraft.  Both sites provided untrusting, unhappy, and unfair situations but at least in England one could mind their own business and stay out of trouble. Those of higher statuses were likely to have been regarded less viciously.  In Salem, once one was accused, their status plummeted, in fact, if they were already an outsider from the community, all the more chance and reason that they would be accused.  Everyone was on level ground, both men and women of any background were accused.  The Puritans in Salem created a far worse environment than the one they had come from in England, for more petty/silly reasons(religion vs witchcraft) and in even more destructive ways.  This was largely in part due to the Puritan’s belief that you are either with God or against him(the Devil).  The whole witch event was a massive mob/placebo effect.  When someone was accused, they came to believe that it was true about them. They  took on the role and everyone got so caught up in the excitement that they probably didn’t actually believe in witchcraft but they simply went along with the crowd-it was more exciting and a lot easier than standing up to the whole community.  The strength the Puritans had shown in leaving England, vanished in the face of witchcraft in Salem.


Book Project November 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — charlottepierce13 @ 2:11 am

Historical/Social Milieu-The Scarlet Letter is set in New England, specifically Boston, while it was part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the early 1600’s. Puritans moved to America because they were devoted to their religion and were not allowed to worship as they chose in their native England. They became “Puritans” when they decided they wanted to become pure by ridding themselves of anything to do with the Catholic religion. Their colony’s laws were based on the laws of G-d.  Despite the fact that they were typically humble people, they liked orderly and delineated roles and anyone who did not follow their strict social doctrine or challenged a leader would be shunned.  In addition, men and women had very different roles. Relevant to this story, a woman’s character was seen as weak and therefore they could easily succumb to temptations, witchery and evil magic.

Characterization-Hester Prynne is a strong willed young woman(probably in her teens) who carries a lot on her shoulder, both in her secret of who she had the affair with and the other life(Pearl) she must protect.  Hawthorne portrays her as a free spirit in comparison to the repressed society.  She came to America alone, deals with the judgment, sexism, and religious rejection of her town, loss of her husband and her lover, and although she has Pearl, is truly alone.  Yet even still, she is depicted as one of the first female protagonists-dealing with unfair punishment and still managing to alter the meaning of her letter A into able and is “accepted” back into society.

When her husband comes back to the town after two years, he hides his identity, renaming himself Roger Chillingworth, in order to dig up who had the affair with Hester.  Pearl is really Hester’s only companion when she is shunned from society.  Since Pearl is only a child and the object of their scorn, she serves as a primary symbol and constant reminder of the scarlet letter.  Other important characters include the judges who seem to have no effect on Hester.  She feels no guilt for what she has done, only sorrow for the consequences she has received; loneliness added to the loneliness she already had.  Roger Chillingworth makes a weak attempt to reconnect with his wife but doesn’t; misreads the damage that has been done in his absence and the seriousness of her current position in society.  The minister Dimmesdale battles feelings of guilt for what he has done with Hester, but also the love he still has for her.

Conflict-Conflict in The Scarlet Letter is the mother of them all-sex in a Puritan society.  Hester is depicted as a sexual person and she is unrepentant.  What a scathing indictment on all that the men in that world attempted to impose on the women.  At every corner there is conflict and through it all, Hester shines.  She endures the life she is left with when her husband sends her to America alone, she finds love when she is lonely, she bears the brunt of a brutal society, bent on alienating her and holding her as an example of shame and she makes a great life for her baby and herself despite the shunning.  Even with the symbolic scarlet letter and all of the problems that it is supposed to bring upon her, she manages to turn it into an opportunity and to spin the positive out of it.  The most compelling conflict in The Scarlet Letter is not the outward difficulties but rather the internal conflicts Hawthorne forces Dimmesdale and Chillingworth to go through.  Their conflict is unresolvable because they are totally responsible for what has happened and neither of them can admit it to themselves or to their community.

Point of View-The Scarlet Letter is told from a third person omniscient point of view.  This style analyzes the characters and tells the story in a way that shows that the author knows more about the characters than they know about themselves.  Even still, he is a subjective narrator; he voices his own interpretations and opinions of things as seen in his clear sympathy for Hester and Dimmesdale.  By writing in the third person, Hawthorne is able to tell a story, follow each character’s lives, and also reveal their unspoken thoughts and private actions.  So, in a way you could say it is almost like he is a member of this Puritan society but has the advantages of disengagement and omniscience.

Author’s Intent-Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter is a scathing commentary on Puritan society, the hypocrisy and dereliction of basic human morals and the triumph of one woman’s spirit in that world.  Hawthorne portrays the townspeople as monsters; caddy, hysterical, judgmental, rigid, and hypocritical- leading  us to form negative opinions of Puritans.  He shows the hypocrisy of their way of life; religion should be a private thing and each individual should mind their own business and that is clearly not the case in Hester’s story.  I think he portrays Hester as strong and brave because she is truly pure.  She does not argue with or fight the people who shun her and her silence represents this.  The man she had the affair with however is villainous by remaining silent.  People are quick to judge the worst of people and therefore, many people are misunderstood.  I think Hawthorne thought Puritanism wasn’t a good spiritual path to follow; it led to unjustified outrage and ridiculous punishment, and frequently against the wrong person.  The Scarlet Letter is a depiction of Puritan society, seen through the lens of an innocent and unrepentent woman whose spirit endures despite the attempts of her society to spurn her.

Theme-The Scarlet Letter stresses the connection between identity based on one’s society as seen by the strangeness of Hester remaining in the town even after her people shun and reject her.  Leaving Boston or taking the A off in her mind would tell society that they won, that they have power over her.  By removing the letter, she would be proving to the town that she is ashamed of the letter so she keeps it on, to show she accepts herself and her actions and she therefore incorporates the sin into her life.  Similarly, Roger Chillingworth shows the results of leaving one’s true home and attempting to reconfigure his identity.  He is drawn back to his wife and the original town that they settled in America and Hester is eventually able to see through his attempted new identity.  When he realizes how much Hester has been able to grow in this community, he lets down his guard and tries to merge the gap that has been created between himself and Hester and Pearl.  In a different way, Dimmesdale has the constant pressure of being a symbol for the town.  He is perceived as a holy figure and therefore has little time to self reflect like Hester is able to.  His identity has been decided by the town since they have such a large influence on it, and really is not an individual, only a leader figure appointing punishments that the town favors.

Symbols/Metaphors/Simile/Allusion-Pearl existence is the epitome of symbolism-she exists because of the sexual relations had, she is a reminder of Hester’s actions and moreover, she represents the idea that Hester had to have been with a man and no one is fessing up to it, therefore making every man a suspect.  She represents innocence and purity and it is likely not a mistake that Hawthorne chose to have a baby girl come from Hester’s loins. Even her name is symbolic-she is the result of Hester’s “crime” and therefore, is really no precious stone.  She is a constant reminder of Hester’s sin, a living version of the scarlet letter.  Even still, she is also a blessing for Hester as she also represents spirit and passion that resulted from this sin.  The letter A is obviously a constant reminder to Hester of what she has done, though she doesn’t seem to feel the effect from it that she is supposed to.  She has sewn on a bold scarlet colored A, embroidered with gold.  The A originally stands for adulterer but transforms to really be irrelevant(the Native Americans think it is a marking of high status/importance) and it becomes a symbol for a new future and the ability to move on.

Imagery/Mood/Tone-There is a lack of dialogue.  The Scarlett Letter, therefore, uses imagery to create the story.  Since the subject matter is somber, all of the images match that mood.  In that same way, everything is described in a dark tone/mood to build suspense and emotion.  For example, Hester’s prison door is described as “having never known a youthful era”.  The building’s heavy oak door is studded with iron spikes, and the prison appears to have been constructed to hold dangerous criminals.  Then Hawthorne places a rosebush  next to this door- to remind us of nature’s kindness to the condemned- which is a clever technique employed.

Chapter 8 in Text-

In Rev. Arthur Cleveland Coxe’s essay about the Scarlet Letter, he perceived Hester as weak and frail.  This critic felt that Hawthorne’s description of Hester did more harm than good for woman’s rights.  In general, women are often stereotyped that way but I have to disagree and say that  Hester seems like she breaks the trend and is depicted as independent and strong minded.  There are many examples of this such as her will to live independently and her refusal to let her branding define her and the way she holds her head up when walking in public.  This critic also went on to say that The Scarlet Letter has deeply degraded other literature and was only created for the market.  This seems way off the mark.  Hawthorne’s creation examines life issues, how societies deal with sensitive issues, and is a timeless analysis of the plight of women in the world.

Julian Hawthorne’s comparison of the Scarlet Letter to a tree is a fitting analysis; it goes to the root of the matter and reaches some unconventional conclusions.  The punishment of the branding with the scarlet letter is a historical fact, the letter A provided a base for further, deeper points to be made.  The scarlet letter uplifts the theme from the material to the spiritual level.  The overall point of this criticism is that Hawthorne chose to tell a story that has more depth than even he realized; he was discussing groundbreaking topics that would impact later literature and ways of life.