American Lit.- Fahrenheit 451

Saving Books For The Future

If you could only save one book for the future besides the Bible, of course, what would it be?  This is a very hard decision just to choose one book. There is really not a very wrong or right answer. But, there were some honorable mentions. The first being The Iliad or The Odyssey by Homer.  The second being If You Give a Mouse a Cookie  is a very educational book. But, last and definitely not least, the book I chose which is the collection and stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I chose Sherlock Holmes because he is a great character, it helps people think about their surroundings, perceive things better, and Sherlock Holmes solves mysteries and brings justice to the right person.

First, let us talk about Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective that lives in the late nineteenth-century London at 221B Baker Street. He is very intelligent and uses deductive reasoning to solve cases quickly and easily. His best friend, Dr. John Watson, is always there.  The friendship is very strong and they are always there for one another.  Also, Sherlock Holmes is just a legendary character.  There have been many movies and TV series about this character, Sherlock Holmes.

Next, how does it help people? He uses logic. This makes people’s senses sharper and questions how much people actually see when they look around in the real world. This famous quote by Sherlock Holmes really tells you about how he thinks. “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” (The sign of four)

Lastly why should it be saved? Or, why do people enjoy it? Everybody loves a good mystery where the detective catches the criminals.  Sherlock Holmes works with the police to get justice for the people who have been wronged in the situation.  It makes reading exciting and fun. When people are in school, reading is not really fun anymore. Sometimes, you are forced to read boring books in your class.  But when I read Sherlock Holmes, I read it quickly because I enjoyed it and thought it was interesting.  I feel we need to have more well-written, interesting books to read.

In conclusion, I would keep Sherlock Holmes because it is one of my personal favorite books or collections of stories.  I find Sherlock Holmes to be a very interesting character along with his friend, Dr. John Watson. I like how it makes you think about the world around you and if you would be able to solve the case as well.  I also like the different creative stories. This makes it fun to read not knowing that you are learning something as well.

 

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American Lit.- Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451: A Horror Story

In Fahrenheit 451, the character Guy Montag lives in a Dystopian Society. One critic has said it is a horror tale because of extreme antisocial behavior becoming the norm.  “Many of Bradbury’s best horror tales feature no supernatural element, only seemingly ordinary people revealing extraordinary antisocial tendencies.” [Barron, 201]  It first starts with the individual, which affects the family which in turn affects the culture.  Then it was enforced by the government.

First, to discuss the individual.  The individuals in this society do not have relationships with other people.  They are ignorant, oblivious, and all everyone wants to do is have fun. They are consumed by the culture. All anyone wants to do is follow fads and have no substance to themselves.  But if you disagree, you will be silenced.  There is no freedom of speech anymore, no freedom of thought or intellectual diversity of any kind. Intelligence is looked down upon.  An intellectual was a nasty name that people called you. Mildred throughout the book was actively trying not to change.  She was just a shell of a person.  Honestly, since the society is so anti-commitment and anti-responsibility, it seems pretty likely that there would not be any family units or marriages at all. But, surprisingly, there is.

Second, is the family.  Marriage and families were created by God. Marriage was to be an earthly example of Christ’s love for the church. It is also to help parents raise children.  But in this society, this is not how the family works.  The individuals do not have a love for their family or a love for children.  They think of children as an inconvenience and in the book Mildred’s friend has had a lot of abortions.  The kids she has kept, she just sends them off to school. They think of everything as replaceable. Children are replaceable and their spouses are replaceable.  The women of that society would not care at all if their husband, who is a soldier, got killed in the war. This quote really sums up the society when Montag goes off on Mildred’s friend. “Go home and think of your first husband divorced and your second husband killed in a jet and your third husband blowing his brains out, go home and think of the dozen abortions you’ve had, go home and think of that and your damn Caesarean sections, too, and your children who hate your guts!”  The family is not strong and Montag is telling her to think about it because in this society nobody thinks anymore.

Third, is the culture. The culture promotes anti-socialism and this has great influence on young people and children. All everyone cares about is having fun driving in fast cars.  There does not seem to be any value for human life in this society. They have no appreciation for the world they live in and no understanding of the rest of the world.  Also, there is no moral standard because there is no religion.  There is no state religion, and private people do not practice religion. So, there are no books because books are banned which means no Bible or other books that cause people to think about the world, their surroundings, and their purpose. This lack of responsibility causes people to have problems mentally and it just is not healthy because humans are social creatures.  “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Last, is the government.  The government enforces the culture.  Government institutions such as the Education System do not rely on past mistakes.  They also rewrite history and edit information out that they disagree with or do not like. How would they run a government like that? It must be hard when all books are banned. There is a group called the Happy Boys who ensures everybody is having “fun”.  Also, interaction between people is lost when people are children. They have watchlists of people and do not care who they kill as long as it does not cause any other problems.  There is the Hound that does the killing in some instances and there is one at every fire station.  The firemen at the fire station just burn down houses with books.  They are only beneficial to erase responsibility.

In conclusion, this book could be seen as a horror story because even when it was written by Bradbury in 1953, he could see we were going in this direction.  We also see it today.  The direction of technology being so advanced that human interaction is unnecessary. We see it even more today where the Education System is brainwashing people, especially at colleges, turning them away from the values they were raised with. The family units are not seen as important and strong bonds between people.  Children are an inconvenience today more than they have ever been before. So, all around, the reason this tale was horrifying is because people need social interaction and that is something we are losing today.

 

American Lit. – Fahrenheit 451

Christian Consumerism

To what extent is it appropriate, and right, for Christians to buy specifically Christian products? It is always appropriate and right to buy from Christian companies and Christian products because then you are not supporting businesses and products you do not agree with or businesses giving money to charities you do not want your money going to for various reasons.

But, it is still necessary for Christians to buy things from non-believers or non-Christian companies. This is not a bad thing for we want to show the love of Christ to unbelievers, so God can hopefully work within the heart. I do not think it is right to support a business or product that is clearly against Scripture and hates values that are very dear to the Christian worldview. Matthew 7:17-23 talks about nothing outside of a person that goes in cannot defile a person.  A person is defiled from inside because the heart is wicked.  Since the heart is wicked, we make bad choices.

In 2 Corinthian 6:14-15, it talks about being unequally yoked.  It is easier for somebody to drag you down then it is to pull somebody up.  Also, it is impossible to bring someone to salvation because that is God’s job.  This is why your spouse and closest friends, for a healthy walk, have to be believers.  This does not mean that we do not love unbelievers because we are called to do that too.  So, while we should interact with unbelievers, we should have a strong foundation. Especially when you are working with unbelievers, making business transactions, etc.

Are some Christian products more good or necessary than others? Yes. I believe when you are buying some Christian study material that you should buy from a Christian company or else Scripture will not be at the forefront of what you are buying.  I also think that when a company or product helps or supports things that do not have to be sinful but some things are still going to tempt believers and nonbelievers spiritually. Not all things are  bad but they can be used by the human heart to sin. This is not that the products are bad, but the people who use the products. In 1 Corinthians 6:12, there is a phrase that is quoted “All things are lawful for me.” This was probably a common Corinthian slogan as an excuse to give the body whatever it craves.  We often do not realize the way we live our life now will affect eternity.  Since the heart is wicked, we do not know what is good for us but God the Creator does.  This is why we follow His Word as a guide. Because, we are never content.

How do Christians negotiate between engaging in the rest of consumer culture and remaining apart from it? We need to be a positive influence on the culture to glorify God and be used by God to minister to people’s hearts.  We are not supposed to be separated from society like the Amish or monks, etc. Because, we are supposed to be in the world but not of the world. We are wanderers in a land that is not our own. We need to know that all we need is God and His grace is sufficient.  Becoming obsessed with material wealth is pointless and will never fulfill you. (Matthew 5:13-16) In John 17, which is the high priestly prayer, we are called to be a part of society (John 17:14-18) but we cannot condone other’s sin.

So, as Christians, we are not to steal, cheat, etc. because that is sin.  We are to be holy because God is holy and just.  We are to treat people fairly and right and as we want to be treated through our jobs and businesses. Revelation 18:11-13 talks about worldly goods. They will have no place or value for our purpose on the last day and sinners will not get what they desire. We also need to think about the businesses we are supporting and buying things from to see if they are openly hostile to our Christian worldview or if they have values that support it.  

 

Government – President Paper

Ronald Wilson Reagan (February 6, 1911- June 5, 2004)

Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States. He is the face of new conservatism and most people liked him because he strengthened our military to make the United States more powerful and influential around the world. He fought Communism and Marxism that was spreading around the globe.  During the Reagan Administration, he cut federal domestic spending which made it possible to cut taxes and make the economy prosper. Ronald Reagan was a father, husband, actor, radio announcer, Governor, and President. He was clearly very ambitious. To conservatives, he is remembered as one of the best Presidents in history.

Ronald Wilson Reagan was born to Nelle and John Reagan on February 6, 1911 in Tampico, Illinois.  Ronald Reagan’s dad was a shoe salesman.  He had an older brother, Neil Reagan, who was born in 1908.  They were poor, residing in an apartment that lacked indoor plumbing, running water and was located on the town’s main street. Reagan’s father called him “Dutch” as a baby saying that he looked like a “fat little Dutchman”. They moved to Dixon, another nearby town, where Reagan graduated high school and was student body president. During summer vacations, he worked as a lifeguard saving many people from drowning. Then he went to Eureka College to study economics and sociology. He played sports such as football.  He ran track and was captain of the swim team.  He was also in the school plays.

After graduation, Ronald Reagan became a radio sports announcer.   In 1937, he got a Hollywood contract and was in fifty-three films over the next two decades.  Reagan did the screen test for Warner Bros. and this is how he got the contract.  In that same year, he made his film debut in “Love is in the Air” playing a radio news host which is funny, because that was what he was.  One of his most successful acting roles was of Notre Dame football star George Gipp in the 1940 biographical film “Knute Rockne All American”.  His famous line from this movie was “Win one for the Gipper.” Another notable role was in 1942, the movie was called “Kings Row”. Reagan’s character is an accident victim who wakes up to discover his legs have been amputated and cries out “Where is the rest of me?” This is the title of Reagan’s 1965 autobiography.

Ronald Reagan was married twice. He was the first president to have been divorced.  His first wife’s name was Jane Wyman who was the co-star in the film “Brother Rat” with Reagan.  This is how they met.  She was an actress.  They had two biological children Maureen and Christine, and one adopted son, Michael.  Christine only lived for a day.  They got divorced in 1948 because of arguments about Reagan’s political ambition.  They both had different political views.  She was a Republican and, at that time,he was a Democrat.  She filed for the divorce and it was finalized in 1949.  They were still friends until his death, though.    

His second wife and First Lady, when he became President, was Nancy Davis.  She was a Broadway actress and together they had two children whose names were Patricia and Ronald Jr.  It seems like they had a good, strong marriage and a very special relationship.  They never stopped loving each other.

From 1947 to 1952 and from 1959 to 1960, Reagan served as President of the Screen Actors Guild. This is where he met his future First Lady, Nancy.  The Screen Actors Guild was like a labor union for actors. When Ronald Reagan was younger, he was a member of the Democratic Party and was your typical Hollywood Democrat.  He campaigned for democratic candidates and one of his political heros was Franklin D. Roosevelt,  who believed in a lot of government intervention. He started switching his political view after disputes over communism increased in the film industry. When he had his weekly drama series “The General Electric Theater”, he broke out against too much government control, wasteful spending, and things that would later become central themes of his political career. He toured the country and became the new face for conservatism.  This is really when he got started in politics. His views grew more conservative overtime and in the early 1960s he became a Republican.  

In 1966, Ronald Reagan started eating jelly beans to help him stop from pipe-smoking, and he did stop successfully pipe-smoking.  He also became Governor of California in 1966 and was re-elected in 1970.  Even while he was Governor, he got shipments of jelly beans to his office.

Ronald Reagan won the Republican presidential nomination in 1980.  His running mate was George Bush, former Texas Congressman and United Nations Ambassador and future President.  He became Reagan’s Vice President for both terms. Reagan ran against the incumbent, Democrat, Jimmy Carter. Reagan won by a landslide four hundred eighty-nine electoral votes to Carter’s forty-nine electoral votes, which is unheard of because Jimmy Carter was the current President. Ronald Reagan was elected because voters were worried about inflation and Americans being held in Iran.

He was the oldest President to be elected at sixty-nine years of age in 1980. When Ronald Reagan was sworn into office January 20, 1981, in his inaugural address, Reagan famously said of America’s economy “This present crisis government is not the solution to our problems, government is the problem.”  Also, at Reagan’s inauguration, three tons of jelly belly beans were delivered and consumed.  After the Carter years, which had been more plain, Reagan and Nancy brought in the glamour of Hollywood into Washington, DC with designer fashion, redecorating the White House,etc.

Sixty-nine days into his term, an assassination attempt was made but Reagan quickly recovered and became even more popular because of this tragic event which he survived from. The attempt was made on March 30, 1981 by John Hinckley Jr.  John Hinckley Jr., a man with a history of psychiatric problems, shot the President outside a hotel in Washington, DC. Although this is not the end of the story for Ronald Reagan, in this attempt his lung was pierced.  The bullet just missed his heart and he was bleeding internally so it was a serious injury. Within several weeks of the shooting, Reagan was back at work.  In 1981, Reagan made history by appointing Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman to be a United States Supreme Court Justice.

Reagan worked effectively with Congress to help the economy and strengthen the military. In 1983, Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a plan to develop space-based weapons to protect America from attacks by Soviet nuclear missiles.  Reagan cut taxes and made budget cuts causing large deficits. This made him an even more popular President. Reagan was re-elected in 1984 by an even larger margin than his first term.  In the 1984 election Reagan only lost one state, Minnesota.  

In 1986, Reagan overhauled income tax.  He eliminated deductions and exempted people of low income. He also simplified the tax brackets and caused there to be less tax shelters. An outstanding achievement for Reagan and his administration was “Reaganomics” which was a series of supply based economic policies. He really helped the economy.  He created sixteen million jobs, cut taxes, regulations, and domestic spending. This caused a federal deficit which is always good for a nation and this economic boom lasted two decades. He was proud to be an American and optimistic about our country. He also signed the Immigration Reform and Control act in 1986, which made it illegal to knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

Now, talking about Ronald Reagan’s foreign-policy and his main point was to make sure that he strengthened the United States’ military.  He seemed to focus more on this than on domestic affairs. He added a lot of troops.  While the United States had the strongest military on the planet, it is easier to be at peace. He increased the production of B1 bombers, which Jimmy Carter had canceled and started the production of more missiles and used NATO to our advantage.

Reagan’s thoughts on foreign-policy was to achieve “peace through strength” President Reagan increased the defense budget by thirty-five percent.  He also tried to improve relations with the Soviet Union and negotiated a treaty that would eliminate intermediate-range nuclear missiles.  Ronald Reagan declared war against international terrorism and sent American bombers against Libya after it was found out that they were involved in a terror attack. He ordered naval escorts in the Persian Gulf and maintained a free flow of oil during the Iran and Iraq war. Reagan kept to the Reagan doctrine by supporting anti-communist rebel powers in Africa, Central America and Asia.

In Ronald Reagan’s administration, the Cold War was ended. But first the war was escalated by starting an arms race against the Soviet Union but he stood firm against the Soviets.  He called the Soviet Union the “Evil Empire” and challenged the Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” meaning the Berlin Wall. Reagan and Gorbachev talked and this culminated in the INF treaty. The Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This was an agreement to remove all medium to short range missiles from the country’s arsenals which caused both the United States and the USSR’s nuclear arsenals to shrink. The Treaty was signed on December 8, 1987. Reagan began his presidency at the beginning of the decline of the Soviet Union. In just ten months after his term ended, the Berlin wall fell and Germany was reunified.

Other things Ronald Reagan did in foreign-policy was the bombing of Libya after Libya attacked a nightclub in West Berlin where a US servicemen was a victim. But Libya was bad news all the way.  Libya’s leader openly supported violent Palestinian and Syrian groups.  It was very anti-Israel and did not align with United States foreign-policy.  They were also trying to become a nuclear power. They were a threat that was eliminated.

He also fought communist regimes around the world and helped find rebel insurgents. This was the cause for scandal though, which was the Iran-Contra affair. This was a political scandal in Reagan’s second term.  Senior Administrative officials secretly sold arms to Iran to fund the Contras, a rebel group in Nicaragua.  At the sametime, they were negotiating for the release of U.S. hostages.  This was prohibited by Congress.

The First Lady, Nancy Davis Reagan, passionately advocated for decreasing drug and alcohol abuse in young people and she loved being a wife and mother and enjoyed helping people and making appearances at nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and helping people even before her husband was President.  Nancy Davis Reagan supported her husband well.  Her main campaign was the “Just Say No” campaign.  Her husband also believed in this cause by declaring the War on Drugs during his presidency  

After leaving the The White House in January, 1989, Ronald Reagan and his wife moved back to California where they lived in Los Angeles.  In 1991, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum opened in Simi Valley, California. One of the things displayed at Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Library in California is a 6,000 pound graffiti covered section of the Berlin Wall gifted to him by the People of Berlin.  There is also a portrait of Ronald Reagan made of 10,000 jelly belly beans.    

In November 1994, Reagan revealed a handwritten letter to the American people that he had recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Nearly a decade later at age 93, he died of pneumonia complicated by Alzheimer’s disease on June 5, 2004, at his Los Angeles home.  At the time of his death he was the longest living President. Reagan was given a State funeral in Washington, DC and later buried on the grounds of his Presidential Library.

Doing all this research I learned a lot about his life and impact on modern American society and more specifically, conservativism.  He championed traditional and family values while still including people with other views. This is why he won with such large margins. He grew the economy and made it prosper.  Also, he really worked on foreign policy and strengthened the armed forces to make America a world superpower to help the rest of the globe.  At the end of the administration, was the longest recorded peacetime and prosperity for the United States.  There was no depressions and the economy was well.

 

Bibliography:

 

Black, Allida. Whitehouse.gov: Nancy Davis Reagan.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-ladies/nancy-davis-reagan/ 2009

 

Freidel, Frank. Sidey, Hugh. Whitehouse.gov: Ronald Reagan.

https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/ronald-reagan/ 2006

 

History.com staff. History.com: Ronald Reagan.

http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/ronald-reagan 2009

 

Human Events: Top 10 Reagan Achievements.

http://humanevents.com/2011/02/06/top-10-reagan-achievements/ 2011

 

Fahrenheit 451- Building a Character

Guy Montag

In the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Guy Montag is the main character. Bradbury makes Montag really come alive in the book. He also makes him seem more realistic than the other characters in the book. How does he do this? He uses different literary techniques to shape and cause the main character to have depth. Some of the different literary techniques are physical description, direct information, physical circumstances, dialogue, and physical action.

First, are the literary techniques Bradbury seemingly does not focus upon using with Guy Montag.  He does not use much direct information and physical description because the story is from Montag’s point of view. But, there is a slight physical description of Montag.  He is 30 years old, with black hair, black brows, a fiery face, and a five o’clock shadow. Montag realizes that he is just one in the crowd.  He had never seen a fireman who did not look the same as him.  They all look exactly like him.  He has the emblems of his profession (a salamander) on his arm, a phoenix disk on his chest, and always smells of kerosene.

We also do not get a lot of direct information from Montag.   But, what we do know is that he is isolated.  He does not know or talk to anyone.  He wears his happiness like a mask.  Also, he thinks reading books would help the  country as a whole, and from the beginning, he hints at the ventilator grill in the hall of his house.

Next, is his physical circumstances. He lives in a society which is very fast pace and where everyone lacks responsibility.  Books are illegal and history is being rewritten. He is a fireman which means he burns all houses where books are found, and sometimes the people who own the books. This takes a toll on him. He is also in a loveless marriage.  It is loveless because they honestly do not really know each other.  His wife, Mildred, is always talking with the TVs on the walls.  After his wife overdosed, she lived.  He had become friends with Clarisse who mysteriously died.  He realizes that society was bent out of shape and he thought he would try to fix it with books.

Third, is dialogue.  The person he really only talks to as a friend is Clarisse. From talking with her he realizes he is not happy.  He does not know if he really loves his wife. He realized how uneducated he is and does not know the simplest things about the world around him because he has never taken the time to look.  From dialogue or lack thereof, Montag realizes he does not talk to his wife, Mildred and they cannot even remember where they met.  Also, from the Fire Chief, Captain Beatty, Montag knows that Beatty knows he stole a book.

Lastly, is physical action.  Montag’s physical action starts when he begins to take books.  By the time we meet him, he has taken almost a whole library of books away from the fires.  The first book the reader sees him take is actually a copy of the Bible.  At this time, the reader does not really know the extent of how many books he has taken. He also wants to understand what is in the books that makes them so dangerous to society. He wants Mildred to understand too.  But, neither of them do.  He can read the books but he does not understand what they mean for the bigger picture.

As you can see, all of these literary techniques intertwine to bring the character to life. I personally find Montag to be a complex character from the first few pages of the book.  You thought he likes being fireman, but later you realize it was all a façade because he had already been stealing books. I also find him to be a sympathetic and relatable character.  He is curious and wants to see if there is more to life then racing fast cars and burning down houses.  He also realizes how antisocial his world is and he wants to have better relationships.  So, I see Guy Montag as a person that has a human reaction to the situation. This gives the character relatability so the reader wants to read more about this character.  

 

The Scarlet Letter- Final Essay

Arthur Dimmesdale: The Ideal Puritan?

Arthur Dimmesdale, Hester Prynne, and Pearl have a very interesting story and relationship in the book The Scarlet Letter. They could be seen as representing two worldviews fighting throughout the book. Which one would prevail? The two opposing worldviews being Puritan Christianity represented by Arthur Dimmesdale and a Romantic Transcendental Worldview represented by Hester Prynne. But, where does Pearl fit into these opposing worldviews?

First, is Arthur Dimmesdale an ideal representative of Puritanism? From the outside, people thought of him as a well respected, godly pastor. They thought of him so highly that even when he publicly confessed by showing his letter “A”, those closest to him lied, even to themselves. They said there was nothing at all on his chest when there clearly was.  But, Arthur Dimmesdale was having a serious battle against his sinful nature.  On the inside all Christians face this Romans 7:15 says, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”   He did not think he could seek wise counsel or get help because it would ruin his career as a pastor and his life in general.   Because of this, he hid his sin for seven years as to not hinder the work of the Lord but mostly, he did not want to face the consequences for his sin. This thinking directly opposes Scripture. He did many works of penance but he still loved Hester.  He did not regret his sin.  Arthur Dimmesdale even says, “Of penance I have had enough! Of penitence there has been none!”  But, if not for their adultery, he would not have a daughter even though he and Pearl did not have a relationship. Tired of hiding his past sins any longer, he publicly owned up to his sin and died right there on the scaffold.

Next, is whether Hester Prynne represents Romanticism in The Scarlet Letter? Hester’s story is quite different from her counterpart, Arthur Dimmesdale, because she could not hide her sin and faced her punishment right after Pearl was born. Although, she would have to face the people’s judgment the rest of her life, she stood on the scaffold and became a social outcast. Unlike Dimmesdale, who is still greatly respected by the community, Hester took personal responsibility. Nevertheless, she did not regret her sin because of little Pearl.  Pearl was the light of her life while being a constant reminder of her past sins.  Hester tried to move on.  As the years went by, people started to respect her for the good works she did. Hester did break her marriage covenant with Roger Chillingworth and this is why she had to wear the letter “A” for the rest of her life.  But, Roger Chillingworth, instead of forgiving her or just divorcing her, spent his life trying to get revenge.  He did this by following them, blackmailing Hester, and keeping Arthur Dimmesdale sickly.  His actions are why it is hard to see him as the victim, which he actually was. This is where Hawthorne tries to twist things around and makes love more important than God’s law. When Hester and Arthur want to go back to Europe to escape Roger Chillingworth, and be free, he does not move on.  He was planning on following them to Europe.  Everybody did wrong in that part, everyone except Pearl.

Lastly, is Pearl. Pearl is the daughter of Arthur Dimmesdale and Hester Prynne and was born out of their adultery. She is the real Scarlet Letter. Her childhood would have been very hard. She was born out of sin and so she was a social outcast too. Because of the circumstances of her birth, people thought she was going to be demon-possessed, crazy, or a witch. This is what the Puritans believed. Pearl was not raised very religious so she had more of a romantic worldview.  She thought of nature as her friends.  Hester often referred to her as an elf, spirit, or a fairy. Being totally isolated would take a toll on her beliefs and emotions. Pearl came from a broken family. She did not know her father except when they stood on the scaffold in the dark and she realized there was a connection to him. She did not fully understand that he was her father until he publicly confessed it.  At the age of seven, she realizes her life has more meaning than she thought.  These things really made her get in touch with her humanity. This is when she becomes “normal”.  But, she soon overcomes being looked at differently and becomes as normal as she can be, given the circumstances.  

Are Dimmesdale and Hester really true representatives of Puritanism and Romanticism? No. Dimmesdale is a representative of Puritanism but he is not as strict, unforgiving, or scared of things he does not understand.  This situation grows him in that.  Arthur Dimmesdale is a good man but he is still a sinful, fallen creature and his life represents that. Hester, while more on the romantic side, still is not a great representative of Romanticism. She grew in her romantic worldview because of her situation.  She was a social outcast: isolated.  Nature is somewhere she felt safe and where she felt like she could be normal and herself.  She could not find security in the church because of her sin and the judgment of other people.  As for Pearl, she mostly had Hester’s worldview because she did not really know Arthur Dimmesdale. She was just a little girl in a bad situation that she could do nothing to change it.

British Lit.- “Beowulf”

Monsters who show our flaws

The English word “monster” is ultimately derived from the old French word (monster) from the Latin word monstrum which can mean portend, sign, or omen.  

The word monstrum in turn derives from the root word monere which means “warn”.  It also gives us our word “monitor” one who reminds and guides. These monsters can serve as a kind of mirror reflecting back to us important insights to the human condition.  

After knowing this, it might mean that the monsters in Beowulf could serve the purpose as the mirror of humanity. There are three main monsters in Beowulf: Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the Dragon. All three of these monsters had very different reasons for why they attacked the humans.  It was not that they were necessarily provoked but they were. The reasons they were provoked are the distinctions between humans and monsters.  The monsters brought to life a greater fear and a more significant story a bitter neighbor, angry mother filled with revenge, and a greedy person. Because they were more lethal, they were dangerous monsters.

This is when the hero walks in. The little human race.  The human race is not technically the best at anything: physically, athletically, emotionally.  But they are pretty good with their brains.  While emotions can run high with humans, they are still analytical. The only real thing the humans have on their side is determination and being proud of being human unlike hell beasts which only care about their feelings.

This brings us to Grendel.  Grendel was a hell beast who loved to sleep in his cave.  But what disturbs him was the sound of celebration in Heorot. The humans feasting and just celebrating life bothered him heavily.  It bothered him so much that he started attacking the Mead Hall and killing people.  This caused a great stir among the nations surrounding the Mead Hall.  This is when Beowulf enters in.  What the story about Grendel tells us is that sometimes humans act before they think or do not think about the consequences of their actions.  An example of this is after killing Grendel the hell beast, his mother comes to seek revenge. Beowulf was always lead by something such as fate or God etc. Beowulf was led to fight Grendel without weapons and it just so happens that Grendel is immune to weapons.  What would have been maybe just an idiotic decision for Beowulf to not use weapons ended up turning into his favor since Grendel was immune to weapons.

Now comes Grendel’s mother.  When Grendel’s arm gets ripped off by Beowulf, he runs back home and dies. Then Grendel’s mother is revenge stricken, full of grief, and angry at the puny human who killed her son.  This is odd because they are monsters.  She seeks revenge and she just wants to kill humans after Beowulf killed Grendel. This brings us to revenge.  Revenge is not the best idea in any circumstance.  It is actually always a bad idea.  Why? Because she ends up getting killed by Beowulf.  Even humans go after revenge a lot and nobody ever learns that killing the person who killed somebody close to you is never going to bring them back or make you happy.  It will not.  People who are revenge stricken are trying to fill the hole in their heart that has been left by the person who has passed.  But revenge will not fill that hole, it will probably just make the hole grow.  I speak about Grendel’s mother having a heart, which I highly doubt was the case, because she is evil and ruthless and now dead because of Beowulf.

Lastly, the greedy old dragon who lay asleep surrounded by treasure. He was not doing anything with the treasure.  He just loved being around the gold.  So, when a slave steals a golden cup, the dragon literally freaks out. He starts burning towns, killing people, going crazy for one small golden chalice. After thinking about it, he probably has another of the same chalice. When Beowulf, at the end, fights the dragon he is an old man. But, he was prideful and did not think that he needed an army and things might have turned out different for him if he had brought an army.  Nobody knows what could have been though. This time God is not on his side and he fails and dies. He gets abandoned by his companions after he was struck down.  But there is only one person who stays with him to fight.  That person is Wiglaf.  He realizes what a good king Beowulf has been and he would rather die with him then live as a coward.  Before Beowulf dies, he slays the dragon but loses his life.  A long life lived by serving his people and defeating monsters. One of the flaws they encounter with the dragon shows that man is mortal and because of man’s mortality people seek self-preservation above all else.  This is caused by the fear and anxiety of imminent death.

In conclusion, everybody has flaws. But in Beowulf we are showed the fatal flaws of everyone.  The flaws that cause the monsters doom and eventually Beowulf’s death.  Do I think that literary monsters can show us our weaknesses? Yes. I think they can and I believe we can grow and learn from it.

 

British Lit.- “Beowulf”

Wiglaf- The Supporting Cast of Beowulf

Wiglaf enters the story when he is chosen to accompany the group that is going with Beowulf to slay the dragon.  The author really starts to separate Wiglaf from the rest by sharing more about Wiglaf’s heritage, his father’s background, and more about him personally.  The part of the story where Wiglaf was a main character shows he grows in commitment, heroism, and confidence. These are three things that Wiglaf develop throughout the dragon battle in Beowulf.

Wiglaf really only makes himself known and distinguished, besides others in the group, when defeating the dragon by his loyalty and commitment to Beowulf.  He is the only one who does not abandon him.  Everybody else including the more respected, stronger, more mature warriors all fled. It really was not the smartest thing Wiglaf could have done because he could have died.  But, he was so committed to Beowulf because of his love and respect for him, that he stayed.  Because of this, Beowulf ended up killing the dragon and they got the treasure. Wiglaf also proceeded to do all of Beowulf’s final wishes at his deathbed.  He was very committed to Beowulf and loyal  because Beowulf was very highly respected and well thought of by all the people.  Beowulf reigned for fifty years and before that he was a hero among men.  So basically Wiglaf wanted to be just like Beowulf and so did every other man, though.  He actually succeeded by gaining Beowulf’s trust and not leaving his side even when everybody else did.

Wiglaf really developed heroism during the time at the dragon battle with Beowulf.  Beowulf knew Wiglaf had the potential to be a hero because that is why he picked him. He saw some of himself in Wiglaf.  But, Wiglaf really proved that he was a hero when he did not leave Beowulf alone to die in battle.  He stayed there even though it could have meant his imminent death.  This is how heroes are made.  In the fire of battle.

Last, is confidence.  This, is what Wiglaf gained the most throughout the book.  In the whole battle with the dragon, it was only him and Beowulf.  He builds up a lot of confidence during this time.  He became more confident in himself and his abilities.  Also, he became more confident in his decision to stick by Beowulf in his time of need. He also took control of the situation after Beowulf had seen the dragon and all of their companions slowly wandered back over because they were afraid to get reprimanded for their cowardice. When they brought the treasure for Beowulf to inspect and after Beowulf dies, Wiglaf rebukes the other people in the group who fled. He takes control and sort of acts like the new leader telling them how cowardly they were and was happy that he, of all people, stood beside and helped Beowulf.

So basically he grows a lot in the heat of battle with his hero Beowulf.  His loyalty does not waver toward Beowulf.  He has now done something heroic.   Now he is confident and ready for the next battle he has to face.   

British Lit.- “Beowulf”

The Purposes of Mead Halls

A Mead Hall symbolizes hope, light and strength.  This is why everybody loved the Mead Hall.  It was like a community center. It was a place, in the middle of their village, where the king could share with his people.  Heorot from Beowulf was said to be such an amazing Mead Hall that it could be one of the Wonders of the World. That is what the king that built it hoped.

The specific purposes of a Mead Hall included feasting and drinking. They would drink mead which is a alcoholic beverage.  It is made from fermented honey and water.  It is like wine only not made with grapes but honey. The people usually celebrated the return of the king and their soldiers from battle.  This would be a cause a celebration for them and they would feast.

The Mead Hall also had a room where the king could sleep inside.  It also had a throne. This is where the ring-giver (the king) could hand out the spoils and treasure among the people after battle.

Another purpose of the Mead Hall was to share war stories from generation to generation. To share stories about the battles that have passed and how they can learn and grow from either their victories or defense. The telling of stories was also really the only entertainment they had because Mead Halls were in use so long ago.

In conclusion, everyone loved the Mead Hall!  If the Mead Hall was ornate and beautiful it would show the wealth of the kingdom.  It was also a great place for the people to gather and celebrate pretty much anything.

 

American Lit. Pre-Reading Assignment “The Scarlet Letter”

 

Why Do We Need Civil Government?

Civil government was created by God and it is essential for nations and people to prosper. Why? Because we are all sinners and we have the inclination to do evil.  The only person who can save you from the wrath of God is the God-man Christ Jesus. As Christians, we are called to be in the world but not of the world. (John 17:16-18) We are not to live our lives like normal people or everybody else.

We need civil government so people face consequences for their sin. Although, under government, people should still have the freedom to make their own choices whether they honor God or not because God has given us the choice of whether to do good and be like him or to do evil and oppose him. If we are not regenerated and are still unredeemed sinners, we will choose evil every time.  God judges the heart and every little thing.  Whereas, the civil government should only take action if it hurts another individual or impedes on their freedom. But as the Church, we are called to be set apart and be good, upright citizens because all authority is appointed by God.  Obeying civil authority is like obeying God unless it is in direct opposition with His Word. (Romans 13:1-7)

There is a way to get right with God. We need a solution because there is a problem.  So, what is our problem? It is an issue with the heart.  Our very nature opposes God. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” This means we cannot understand the full extent of our sin. We are completely helpless. But, there is a solution and his name is Jesus Christ.  Romans 5:20-21 says, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” If we confess our sins Christ is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and that is how we can have a eternal life because of Him. (1 John 1:9) This means that we should start to act differently because of it.

How should a Christian respond biblically to someone who is stuck in sin? The beginning of Galatians 6 talks about this exact subject saying that those who are spiritual should attempt to restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness but being careful not to be tempted also. We also are called to not be judgemental or hypocrites either. “Judge not, that you not be judged. ” (Matthew 7:1-5)

In conclusion, the purpose of civil government from a biblical perspective is to keep the peace and to have earthly consequences for sin. Also, Christians are called to be the light in the dark world by being good citizens and by submitting themselves to governing authorities who have all been appointed by God. But, the only solution to sin is to trust in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and to depend on Him alone. Since that is the case and the only way to get to heaven, Christians need to be grateful for their own salvation.  They also need to share the gospel and be gracious and help those who are stuck in their sin without being hateful or judgemental.