A Geography Report

Since I am currently engaging in private tutoring, I thought it would be fun for younger students to see a report I produced during Spring Session (2018) for a university Geography course. It earned an A!

Far-Away-Place_Hobbiton, Matamata, New Zealand

Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of the 3-D topographical map, since I gave it to the professor.

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Persuasion

Vol. 1, Chapters 12 to Vol. 2, Ch. 7

Anne and Henrietta set out for a morning stroll in Lyme. Henrietta recalls Dr. Shirley saying that a month at the sea did more for him than any medicine and that it actually made him feel young again (Austen 131). This foreshadows Anne’s renewed “bloom” which is noticed by Cpt. Wentworth as well as Mr. Elliot (Austen 132-3).

On the topic of persuasion, Henrietta makes it clear that Lady Russel could easily persuade Dr. and Mrs. Shirley to retire by the sea. Cpt. and Mrs. Harville are pleased by Anne’s conversation with Cpt. Benwick.

All attention soon shifts to Louisa as she jumps from the sea-wall into Cpt. Wentworth’s arms, only to miss and cause herself a concussion and a great alteration of plans for everyone. Anne is called upon to take command of the situation and persuades Cpt. Benwick to attend to Louisa then fetch a surgeon (Austen 138). Next, Anne persuades Cpt. Wentworth to carry Louisa to the inn (Austen 139). The surgeon is optimistic about Louisa’s recovery. Arrangements are soon made for her care, while it is decided who should stay and who should go back to Uppercross to inform the Musgroves. Henrietta is persuaded to go (Austen 141). Cpt. Wentworth recommended that Anne stay with Louisa causing Anne to colour deeply. His praise spoken with “a glow, and yet a gentleness, which seemed almost restoring the past” (Austen 141-2). However, Mary’s jealously set in and she is to stay at Louisa’s side while Anne rides to Uppercross with Cpt. Wentworth (who is heartbroken about Louisa’s injury) to assist him with Henrietta (Austen 143).

Lady Russel at Uppercross confirmed Anne’s lovely plumpness and the onset of her second bloom (Austen 147). The Crofts were decidedly fitting tenants of Kellynch-Hall, and even Anne’s mother would have been pleased (Austen 149). Louisa recovers nicely as does Cpt. Wentworth.

Anne joins Sir Walter and Elizabeth at Camden-place in Bath. Mrs. Clay remains on scene and the Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple and her daughters are made the Elliot’s acquaintance yet are underwhelming (Austen 171). Sir Walter Elliot’s heir presumptive appears on scene to woo Anne and he succeeds in wooing her entire family who make allowances for her previously unscrupulous behavior.

Anne visits her old school friend, Mrs. Smith raising eyebrows at Camden-place, but Lady Russell supports Anne in this acquaintance. While Lady Russell seems to have impeccable wisdom most of the time, she is completely drawn in by Mr. Elliot (Austen 179). Anne has grown much over the years and has reservations: “How could it ever be ascertained that his mind was truly cleansed?” (Austen 180). Anne still flushes when she thinks of Cpt. Wentworth though she seems pleased enough with Mr. Elliot (Austen 186). Cpt. Benwick and Louisa are to marry while Anne looks forward to a concert at Camden-place. No marriage for Anne yet!

 

Personality Types in Austen’s Persuasion

Upon meeting, Frederick Wentworth and Anne Elliot were immediately attracted to one another. He lived with his brother, the curate at Monkford, and was thought to be intelligent, spirited, and brilliant; on her part, Anne was an extremely pretty girl, gentle, modest, tasteful, and feeling (Austen 65). They fell “rapidly and deeply in love” (Austen 65).

Sir Walter and Lady Russell were immediately against the match, but for different reasons: while Sir Walter thought the alliance “degrading,” Lady Russell was concerned more about the young suitor’s ability to advance in career and provide for Anne (Austen 66), as women relied on men to provide for them during the 19th Century. Therefore, Lady Russell examined Wentworth’s character according to his personality which, their Free Indirect Discourse shows, is sanguine (Austen 66). A sanguine temper, or personality type, is the life of the party: he has “fearlessness of mind,” is “brilliant” and “headstrong” (Austen 66). Lady Russell knew that Anne is very different in temperament from Wentworth. Do opposite’s attract?

Examining Anne’s personality type, she is phlegmatic, which is described as meek, submissive, introverted, peace-maker, always puts others first, blames herself, trustworthy, extremely friendly, and her emotions are internal (web). Through Direct, Indirect, and Free Indirect Discourse with the other characters, Anne demonstrates these characteristics. Mary says, “I cannot possibly do without Anne” (Austen 72). Mary and Charles, in turn, confide in Anne, blaming the other for spoiling the children (Austen 80). Even Mrs. Musgrove trusts Anne to “set things right” with Mary, her daughter-in-law (Austen 81).

While Sir Walter, Lady Russel, and Elizabeth are all choleric (Type A) personalities who take charge and are self-centred, Mary appears to be sanguine (open, extroverted, friendly, can’t be alone); Mary complains of being left alone despite seeing people every day (Austen 75). Admiral and Mrs. Croft are like the out-going and amiable Captain Wentworth, always busy and personable, exploring, and happy to interact daily with the families of the neighbourhood. In addition, Mrs. Croft happily accompanied her husband during his sea voyages for fifteen years (Austen 103). Similarly, Captain Wentworth and Louisa seem to make a perfect match as a replica of the older couple: both are extroverts who are determined and sure of themselves; Cpt. Wentworth says, “I honour you!” after Louisa intones about her desire to never be separated from her future husband (Austen 115).

Anne seems to meet her perfect match in Captain Benwick who is melancholic: he suffers heavily, unites very strong feelings with quiet, serious, and retiring manners, and loves to read and study as does Anne (Austen 126-130). Anne quickly puts her caring qualities to use in caring for Cpt. Benwick: she recommends certain authors who may help him overcome losing his love, which is ironic, as Anne still has not recovered from her romance with Cpt. Wentworth. Captain Wentworth is Anne’s opposite in every way, yet she is still in love with him. Who will she marry? A later entry will reveal her choice, or read the book and find out.

 

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Jane Austen. Persuasion. Edited by Linda Bree. Broadview Literary Texts. 1998.

Still I Rise, Maya Angelou

It is with respect and awe that I post the first stanza of this poem by Amercian poet, Maya Angelou, found on the poets.org website:

Maya Angelou 19282014

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

She had many hurdles to overcome in her life, and yet she overcame them all to become a successful poet, playwright, director, historian, and civil rights activist, to name several but not all of her many accomplishments.

Her use of the word “dust” signifies that all people are made from the same stuff and are mortal. However, the word “rise” presents the theme of immortality. Angelou’s works now have a life of their own and her words seem to echo, free from any constraints.

These two lines in the last stanza of the poem allude to a heritage of struggle and oppression, as well as her creative gifts which led to her success:

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

Her words are inspiring when we consider our own challenges, whether they be physical, emotional, circumstantial, or otherwise.

During my life, I have known many people who struggle in many ways and I find myself struggling at times, too. Yet in the difficulties, there are many joys to be found. To see myself in others and other in me has often kept me going when life is difficult. We all participate in the great struggle of life together. There is comfort in camaraderie. And as humans struggling together we can help each other find beautiful moments.

Here is a poem I wrote with these things in mind:

 

Autumn Hay

Today

When the mountains are luminescent

And the sun is ricocheting off the flat-

walled places

Where a family lives

Across the pasture

And their cows are lowing

And the old rusty swather is warming up

In the late October reprieve

To bring in the autumn hay

I feel like it is going to be okay

Like I can do this

For another day

Today

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Thank you, Maya.

The Story of Jane Eyre as a Bildungsroman

 

The education of the protagonist in Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre continues through all five sections of the novel. Jane, as a young girl in the first section of the novel, is imaginative and articulate, but unruly. In the second part of the novel, based at Lowood School, Jane responds not to severity, but mainly to the gentle and loving guidance of her teacher, Miss Temple. Under her tender and temperate guide’s calming demeanor, Jane learns to restrain her wild passions, as well as advance in moral character. Jane describes herself as quiet, content, disciplined, and subdued (150). However, uncharacteristic of the ideal female of her time portrayed in the typical bildungsroman, Jane is not content to stay in her comfortable position at Lowood as a teacher, but she desires to venture out into the world: “I desired liberty” (150).

Jane’s moral education is fully tried in the third and fourth section of the novel when she is tempted first to become entangled with Mr. Rochester after he is found out to be still married; and next, when great moral guilt is exerted upon her by St. John. In the first case, Jane narrates that her “very Conscience and Reason turned traitors against [her] and charged her with crime in resisting him” (408). At the same time, Feeling “clamoured loudly” (408). She coaches herself to resist the manipulation of her sympathies by Mr. Rochester’s headlong nature of recklessness following despair: “I care for myself… I will respect myself.” Moreover, Jane admonishes herself with the truth that laws and principals are not given for times of ease, but for times when body and soul rise in mutiny, with her veins running fire, and her heart beating fast in throbs (408). Her nature meets another examination as she submits to the training of St. John.

St. John tells Jane that religion has turned his original materials to the best account, by “pruning and training nature” (472). However, under St. John’s discipleship, Jane experiences an extreme suppression of her own nature: “I felt daily more and more that I must disown half my nature, stifle half my faculties, wrest my tastes from their original bent, force myself to the adoption of pursuits for which I had no natural vocation.” St. John proves to be a most stifling zealot who is insensitive to his friend’s true nature and uses his false notions of God in attempts to manipulate her when she rejects his marriage proposal: “it is not me you deny, but God” he says (508). Jane recognizes the struggle within St. John between Nature and Grace (513). She also wisely identifies that both Mr. Rochester and St. John would lead her in ways unfitting her trained nature: to have yielded to Mr. Rochester would have meant an error of principle, and to have yielded to St. John would have been an error of judgment (518).

When Jane finally encounters a “work of nature” true to herself, she prays, but in a way different from St. John’s; and it leads her to a “Mighty Spirit” and to “gratitude at His feet,” and finally, back to Mr. Rochester who is now free to marry her. She describes herself finally with Mr. Rochester as bringing “light and life to [her] full nature” (538). Jane’s bildungsroman is complete as she enjoys married life with her trained nature content.

 

 

Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre.  Edited by Richard Nemesvari, Broadview Press, 1999.

 

 

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

To Have Mercy on the Powerful

There are several people in Pip’s life who exert power over him in Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations. However, this portion of the novel highlights two powerful people in particular: Miss Havisham and the convict, Abel Magwitch. Pip did not initiate an association with either but rather finds himself ensnared by their designs. As somewhat of a victim, could he ever extend mercy to them?

In the first relationship of these two, Pip observes Miss Havisham at Satis house while on a visit with Estella. He notes her “fierce affection” for Estella, which Estella does not return (330). Additionally, Miss Havisham asks Pip, “Did I never give her a burning love, inseparable from jealousy at all times, and from sharp pain” (331). Estella defends herself by describing the sort of education she has received from the woman: to distrust and fear “daylight” which has the power to be her enemy and destroyer (332). It would seem that daylight is a synonym for love, and Estella acknowledges the effect of Miss Havisham’s education upon her. After the interactions of the day, Pip tries to sleep, but a “thousand Miss Havishams haunted” him (333). Later, Pip summarizes his realisations about Miss Havisham’s intentions for him as “only a dream” regarding Estella. In fact, he understands that Estella is not designed for him, but rather that he is a convenience and “a model for a mechanical heart to practise on” (349). Nevertheless, to Pip’s credit, he has sufficient character to recognize that Miss Havisham’s mind has grown diseased; he was able to look upon her with compassion and see her “vanity of sorrow” (422). Pip forgives her; furthermore, he goes to her and kisses her on her deathbed. Pip’s mercy, akin to agape love is beautiful particularly since it is so wholly undeserved.

As for Pip’s benefactor, Magwitch, Pip feelings are almost entirely negative at their reunion. Pip’s inner thoughts say much about this renewed association: “The abhorrence in which I held the man, the dread I had of him, the repugnance with which I shrank from him, could not have been exceeded if he had been some terrible beast” (346). There are, however, a few small instances where Pip has a milder disposition towards Magwitch. One instance is when Magwitch has tears in his eyes: Pip feels “softened by the softened aspect of the man” (344). However, the ensuing fears and maneuverings necessary by Magwitch’s circumstances bring much distress and regret upon Pip. He wishes he had been left with Joe at the forge (347). Conversely, Pip later looks back and considers their reversed positions; he is surprised to recognize within himself a heavy and anxious heart at parting from him (402). It would seem that Pip is compassionate concerning Magwitch, despite Magwitch’s rough and crude exterior and manners, given Magwitch’s underprivileged life, and the favour the convict has had for him. Pip’s mercy concerning the convict may be somewhat cloudy, yet it is a brotherly or friendship sort of phileo love.

 

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Law and Pinnington, Eds. Broadview Press, 2002.