Archive forNovember, 2011

New Critic

Madeleine had been trying to beat Alton [in tennis] her entire life without success. This was even more infuriating because she was better than he was, at this point. But whenever she took a set from Alton he started intimidating her, acting mean, disputing calls, and her game fell apart. Madeleine was worried that there was something paradigmatic in this, that she was destined to go through life being cowed by less capable men. As a result, Madeleine’s tennis matches against Alton had assumed such outsize personal significance for her that she got tight whenever she played him, with predictable results. (10)

Certain word choices in this passage helps develop the theme of mania in the novel. In particular, Madeleine’s father’s obsession with beating his daughter in tennis is another example of it. According to Madeleine, she is better than her father, but her father refuses to give in to his daughter and resorts to some pretty dirty tactics to intimidate her and cause her to falter in her game. He may have been just playing around, but the fact that it was her father acting so hostile may be his obsession to not lose to anyone. With Madeleine, she is obsessed with romanticizing her life and believes she is “destined” to go through life like this, which is a bit dramatic and over the top for this incident. Her father is proactively trying to best her in tennis, but in all the other cases with the men in her life, she is the one subjecting herself to their dominance and will over her. She uses “destined” and this is problematic because she is giving up already in a sense. When something is foretold by destiny, the person being affected has no say in anything and no will, so she is technically allowing herself to be swept up by this emotion. A tennis match is just a tennis match, but Madeleine is making it something far more important than it is, especially in how it determines the rest of her life and her successes or autonomy, and this is another form of romanticizing things. She is shirking off the responsibility that is hers by allowing the way she is treated to be “destiny” which may be a result of her obsession with romanticizing things.


Reflections on research so far

Research so far on my short story has been a bit frustrating. This might be an issue on my part regarding finding accurate search terms to use that would result in more useful articles. I’m a bit confused on what I should be focusing on and how the rest of the elements of my short story tie into the central idea. The central idea, from what I understand so far, is Junpei and his relationship with Sayoko and actually making it something concrete all these years later after Sayoko has divorced her first husband and both her’s and Junpei’s mutual friend. I don’t understand how the content of the short story he tells Sayoko’s daughter about fits into the story and why it is so important that the concept becomes the title of the short story. What does Honey Pie and the story of the bears and Sala’s fear of earthquakes have to do with Junpei’s relationship with Sayoko?

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Myth-Lit <—- Link to my chart.

My graph was character based. Each was separated into an action dealing with a character or done by the character.



Growth in a myth is used to highlight the structure of a myth. The growth is a description of how certain elements of a myth are repeated and added on to (“growing”) in order to emphasize the structure. We can make the inference that the item most stressed is most important and that the quantity is proportional to how relevant it is to the story. In Rumpelstiltskin based on Professor Ferguson’s chart (, we see that the two categories, contracting and producing are more important because there are three instances for each, whereas the other two categories cheating and rejoicing are less important events relatively. Contracting and producing can also be seen as opposites of one another and it is interesting to see how the dynamic between the two ideas is created and used in the story. In the chart I created above, it is character based (and perhaps not how Levi Strauss intended for the chart to be organized) and we can tell from it that the character of the Manikin and the game the Queen played were central to the story. The Manikin provided the driving force in the story, whereas the name game was the crucial deciding factor as to whether or not the Queen could keep her child.

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Freud’s Dream Theory

In interpreting literature with Freud’s Dream interpretation Theory in mind, it would be helpful to remember that

1) All of the scattered ideas are compacted and condensed into the smallest most effective forms of representation for those ideas. (Freud: “We may suppose that a good part of the intermediate work done during the formation of a dream, which seeks to reduce the dispersed dream-thoughts to the most succinct and unified expression possible[…]”).

That being said, the first most important task to undertake in interpreting literature is to find images that are ambiguous in order to see if they are acting as an umbrella idea for many other smaller similar ideas. After this identification process, the reader should then try and list out all the ideas this term or concept could mean.

In short, the two tasks are identify and expand.

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