Quentin’s Impulsiveness – The Sound and the Fury

Response assignment for my fall Major American Authors: Faulkner (ENGL4460) course. 2017.

If someone is driving and hydroplanes, his or her first impulse is to slam the breaks—which increases the severity of the hydroplane. Quentin Compson’s character would attempt to slam the breaks, or yank the steering wheel, in order to feel in control of the situation.

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The Women’s Question in Major Barbara

What would make a person with a rigid set of principles suddenly change? The presence of Andrew Undershaft, apparently. The women in George Bernard Shaw’s play, Major Barbara are first introduced as strong women who are a force to be reckoned with. However, Shaw makes the women less powerful as the play goes on. We see this in the beginning of the play with the character Lady Britomart; she is described as an outspoken, scolding mother who is indifferent to the opinions of others and has a clear set of what is right and wrong. Even when her son approaches her, Shaw describes Stephen’s walk as submissive. In contrast, her husband Andrew Undershaft, of which she is separated from, acts immorally and is responsible for the sudden snap of Lady Britomart’s character. Similarly, the play’s main character Major Barbara begins to question the morality of her work in the Salvation Army once her father appears. In the beginning of the play, Barbara’s principles are black and white, but it fades when she visits her father’s place of work and eventually succumbs to his and her fiancé Cusins’s ways. In Major Barbara, Shaw shows that women who are strong-willed, headstrong figures can eventually be tamed through the presence of a man.

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The gypsy woman in The Monk

The Bible tells us “do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them” (Leviticus 19:31). Ironically, the medium, or gypsy woman, in Matthew Lewis’s The Monk is one of the most honest characters, as compared to other devout characters of the Christian faith, who should be trustworthy but ultimately fail. In The Monk, Lewis creates a nameless fictional character, the gypsy woman, to challenge the Bible’s disdain of mediums and display a theme of the supernatural being more trustworthy than those of the Christian faith.

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The Etymology of Conlang

An introduction to the word conlang

Merriam-Webster: CONLANG, N. an invented language intended for human communication that has planned and cohesive phonological, grammatical, and syntactical system.

The word conlang serves as a compound of the words constructed and language; it was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in February of 2017. A conlang is an artificial language with phonology, grammar, and vocabulary created as human or human-like communication, instead of having developed naturally. The word conlang can also be synonymous with “artificial or invented language” or “fictional language.” However, some philosophers argue that all human languages are artificial. One of the most popular quotes on this debate is from French Renaissance writer François Rabelais, who in translation said, “It’s an abuse to say we have a natural language; languages are arbitrary and conventions of peoples by institution.”

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Comedy has changed, Chappelle hasn’t

Comedy moves quickly in 2017. There’s a small timeframe to make joke work, and Dave Chappelle’s two new Netflix originals missed it. Perhaps it’s because he is unaware of how quickly, within minutes, social media reacts to news with crisp one-liners, gifs, and new memes. Then somewhere between a week and a month, the joke is exhausted and we move on to whatever is next. We know when the joke is dead when it gets to the point where the popular, mainstream Twitter comedy accounts copy and paste the joke from the original writer (think @tbhjuststop, @SoDamnTrue, Common White Girl, @Dory, basically any account with a cartoon character for the icon with tweets lacking original substance), and Chappelle’s two specials feel like those recycled tweets that remind us to unfollow whoever retweeted it to your timeline.

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Kenneth Koch’s parody of “This is Just to Say”

Occasionally, we befriend a person we should not have—the kind that borrows a shirt and never returns it, never seems to remember to bring a wallet to dinner, or never offers to drive or give gas money. This type of friend resembles the speaker of Kenneth Koch’s “Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams.” The speaker of Koch’s poem lightheartedly apologizes to an unnamed person for off-the-scale wrongdoings, such as chopping down his house and breaking his leg. He has no genuine reason for these potentially life-ruining actions, only that he saw an opportunity and ran with it. “Variations on a Theme” parodies the similar unsympathetic apology given in “This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams through its use of amusing, parallel word choice.

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