This reading seemed a little backwards to me. As I was reading it, I got confused because the father, Parvez, seemed afraid of his own son, Ali. It was even said, “He was aware that he had become slightly afraid of his son…” at the beginning of the reading. This is most definitely not a typical father and son dynamic, even in modern times.
Throughout the entire piece, Parvez talks about the things he did for his son such as paying for an education in accountancy, buying all his books and computers, and just giving him everything he might have needed to succeed in the western world. Parvez is also extremely unconfrontational with his son. Again, he just seems afraid to say anything to Ali. Parvez is constantly going to his coworkers or Bettina, the prostitute, for advice or to see if he should even say anything to his son about what he was thinking. Even when he thought his son might be a drug addict, instead of confronting him like even a modern-day father would do, Parvez just inspects him from a distance. When talking about these periods of observation it’s written, “He sat beside him at every opportunity and looked into his eyes.” Parvez could take every opportunity to sit and scrutinize his son physically but could not even just honestly ask Ali if he was on drugs.
But, at the end of the reading, Parvez beats his son Ali. Where did that fear go? I thought he was so afraid of his son? I believe there was a buildup of anger that set this ticking time bomb off. Ali was throwing things away that his father had worked hard for; Parvez said nothing. Ali scrutinized his father’s way of life and basically told him he was living his whole life wrong; Parvez was roused, but still did nothing. Finally, Ali was disrespectful to Bettina; (I don’t think she’s just a friend, but that’s a topic for a different day) finally Parvez stews for a moment and then lets his anger out on his son by physically hurting him. In the end, I still believe Parvez is truly fearful of his son, but getting physical with him was the only way he could let out his emotions and prove to himself that he was still the father figure.
This poem is a very dark poem to read in comparison to present day. If a group of officials were to murder a woman like the woman in this poem was murdered today, there would be outrage. During the specific time period being referenced in the poem however, this was a normal occurrence when a woman was adulterous. The IRA was working to end British rule in Ireland, but they apparently also took it upon themselves to “take care of” women who committed adultery.
Although the murder of women who committed adultery was a known punishment of the time period, I found the sympathy of the author surprising. Sympathy is first shown after multiple stanzas of a description of the girl’s dead body and a couple stanzas of what she might have been before her death. The author writes, “I almost love you / but would have cast, I know, / the stones of silence.” (lines 29-31) I took from this that there is sympathy in her murder, but they also would not have gone against the norms of the time because the punishment was known. Sympathy is also shown in the last two stanzas of the poem where the author basically says they stood and watched as others were punished and wept. Again, in the last stanza; the author even admits to “civilized outrage.” (line 42)
In such a dark poem, it’s hard to find anything positive, but there is positive in sympathy, because at least it’s known that something is not quite right.
This reading was so interesting to get through because it was basically one big, run-on sentence. It was almost as if we were getting this woman’s entire thought process, as it was going through her head. I truly struggled to understand some of the things she was talking about at times. However, the sexual tension this woman was feeling was incredibly evident, which was not a normal thing to be talked about in this time period. Women’s feelings were not usually even thought about. I also found her opinions on women interesting and conflicting. It’s difficult to analyze this writing from the point of view of a woman, when it was actually written by a man. I struggle with conflicting thoughts because although these sound like real things a woman would be thinking during this time it’s not actually words coming from a woman.
At the very beginning of this piece, the narrator immediately goes in on sexual desires. She begins to talk about the man she had an affair with and how he treated her. She seemed a little upset and even sounded like she felt as if she had been used by him. She goes on to talk relatively explicitly about his sexual desires by saying, “…O well I suppose its because they were so plump and tempting in my short petticoat he couldn’t resist…” She then goes on to say, “…they excite myself sometimes…” which would not have been a very normal or accepted thing to say at the time. Later in the writing she goes on to complain about not being touched by her own husband and wanting it so badly. She says, “…it’s a wonder Im not an old shrivelled hag before my time living with him so cold never embracing me…” Then she says, “… still of course a woman wants to be embraced 20 times a day…” These two lines especially show her strong desire for physical attention from her husband.
Another thing I found interesting is that the narrator kind of seems to have conflicting views on women. At one point she says, “… I don’t care what anybody says itd be much better for the world to be governed by the women in it you wouldn’t see women going and killing one another and slaughtering…” This line gives the reader the idea that the narrator is a woman’s woman, but she contradicts herself later by saying, “…some women ready to stick her knife in you I hate that in woman no wonder they treat us the way they do we are a dreadful lot of bitches…” Although she’s not saying anything too terrible about women, this line does kind of seem to contradict the previously mentioned line about women, so we’re kind of left with mixed ideas as readers.
Overall, I’m still struggling with the fact that this was written by a man from a woman’s perspective. It seems that it was purposely written like a big run-on sentence so that it would seem more realistic as the actual, real-life thought process as a woman. The writing style was a tactic to make the charade more believable.
When I first began reading this poem, I had no idea what it was saying. I literally thought to myself, “What am I even reading?” After reading it a couple more times, going over notes from the lecture, and thinking a little more critically, I think I have more understanding of the poem.
Before getting into the poem itself, I think it’s important to quickly go over the time period and how women lived during it. Basically, women lived at home with their parents or at home with their husbands. Their jobs were to find a husband, take care of the home, cook, clean, have children, and take care of children. Whatever a woman might have had before she was married would be given to her husband as soon as they were wed. Women did not have things to themselves. Divorce was also not really an option at the time so when one was married that was it for the rest of her life.
In the first stanza, the narrator talks about the journey she’s taken and how she just wants to be let over the threshold. “My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set, / And the way was hard and long.” (lines 3-4) Seems like she might have went through hell and back to get where she is, just let her over the threshold, why can’t she just come in? I understood this journey of hers to equate to the journey of life as a woman during this time. I think the threshold she’s trying to cross is just a threshold of respect and a place in society that doesn’t come from a man.
In the second stanza, the narrator says, “The cutting wind is a cruel foe. / I dare not stand in the blast.” (lines 8-9) I imagine this goes along with the desire of some sort of respect in society. She’s taken hit after hit from this “cutting wind” that is a “cruel foe,” now she can’t take another hit. “My little white feet are sore.” (line 13) This line just restates the first stanza, her little feet are sore from the exhausting path she’s been on in her life to get just a little bit closer to having her own place in society.
In the last stanza, the point of view shifts, the narrator is no longer the woman who’s been on a lifelong journey to gain respect. The narrator is now talking about that woman in third person. The narrator talks about the woman as someone that is representative of all woman during this time who beg to be respected in society. “Her voice was the voice that women have, / Who plead for their heart’s desire.” (lines 15-16) In the lines, “She came- she came- and the quivering flame / Sunk and died in the fire.” (lines 17-18) it seems as if the woman’s will to keep fighting for herself and other women has depleted. She’s been on this journey for so long, just wants to cross the threshold, but no one will let her in, so she’s defeated.
Such a short piece, but so many emotions it brings. This reading hit me pretty hard. When you usually think about wars, you think about how men (and women present day) go off to war leaving their families behind. You think about how hard life must be for a woman to sit around and wait for her husband to come home from war. You think about how terrible it would be on her if something were to happen to him while he was gone. Finally, you feel joy and excitement for her when you think about his return. But what about him? That’s what this reading brings to light.
“Glory of Women” was written about World War I. During WWI, men were shipped off to fight in extreme circumstances and the war left about 40 million casualties. This piece shows how a man who has been to war’s point of view is often over looked; “You love us when we’re heroes, home on leave. / Or wounded in a mentionable place. /. You worship decorations; you believe / that chivalry redeems the war’s disgrace.” (lines 1-4) Soldiers are praised when they’re home and when they’re injured, but what about all the ones who didn’t come home? The piece goes on to talk about how their stories are listened to. “You make us shells. You listen with delight. / by tales of dirt and danger fondly thrilled.” (lines 5-6) These words being used; delight and thrilled. Women during WWI had the privilege of listening to war stories with delight and thrill? But would delight and thrill be the words used of the men who were there, in the dirt and danger? As a whole, I think “Glory of Women” shows how much it wasn’t deeply thought about by women of what was really going on during the war; what men really had to go through.
May I just start with, “Wow”? This play was full of highs and lows and twists and turns. Honestly, nothing that happened was really expected at all. So, to start off, we have Algernon who is friends with Jack, but later becomes Ernest who is Jack’s made up brother, then is found out to be pretending to be this Ernest character and in the end really does end up being Jack’s brother, but with his real name Algernon. Now we have Jack which is a nickname for John who pretends to be his own fake brother Ernest when he’s in the city but is found out to be pretending to be Ernest and then he discovers his real identity which is actually Ernest who is Algernon’s brother. Did you follow that? Me either.
The entire play follows the friendship and love lives of Algernon and Jack. In the first act, they clearly have a good friendship where they can be blunt with each other in the moment, but it also seems like they may not always be completely honest with each other. We see Algernon being blunt with Jack in the first act when Jack claims he’s going to propose to Algernon’s cousin Gwendolen. He says to Jack, “You are not married to her already, and I don’t think you ever will be (Wilde).” There’s no hesitation, he just comes right out and says it to his friend. We then see there’s not complete honesty between the two of them when Jack finally comes out and explains who he really is after some very probing questions from Algernon: “Well, my name is Ernest in town and Jack in the country, and the cigarette case was given to me in the country (Wilde).” Then, Algernon admits he has made up a person as well: “You have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest, in order that you may be able to come up to town as often as you like. I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose (Wilde).” Both men have now admitted to each other that they have made up fake people to get away from their real lives.
In the second act and third acts, things get a little messy because of these fake personas. Algernon can’t marry his love because Jack won’t allow her to marry him because he is her guardian. But Algernon’s aunt won’t allow Jack to marry her daughter (Algernon’s cousin) because he’s not from a well-known family in the society, which was important to people at this time. In the end, everyone does seem to get what they want, and Jack is indeed Ernest.
Here’s the play!
There is a lot to take in when reading Modern Love by George Meredith. Quickly, it is understood that the relationship that is being talked about is completely estranged. It is full of sadness and anger. In Sonnet I the wife’s sobs are described in the husband’s point of view as, “like little gaping snakes, / Dreadfully venomous to him.” (lines 5-6). This shows the readers, even with her clear remorse and sadness portrayed by her weeping, the husband is still full of anger and resentment. At the end of Sonnet I, it is written, “Upon their marriage-tomb, the sword between; / Each wishing for the sword that severs all.” (lines 15-16). These lines are a very dramatic and descriptive way for the narrator to describe the marriage. It shows the readers how “dead” the marriage is by saying it’s in a tomb and that they are both wanting a “sword” to end it. To continue, in Sonnet XVI, it is written, “Her cheek was salt against my kiss, and swift / Up the sharp scale of sobs her breast did lift:- / Now am I haunted by that taste! That sound” (lines 14-16). These lines explain the pain the husband feels around and about his wife. Finally, in Sonnet XVII Meredith writes, “Fast, sweet, and golden, shows / the marriage-knot. / Dear guests, you now have seen / Love’s corpse-light shine.” (lines 28-31). These four lines explain how the couple have put on a show for their dinner guests. To conclude, all of these sonnets show the reader different scenarios where the couple is basically miserable together.
To fully wrap our heads around the situation of these sonnets, let’s get into what marriage was like in the mid-Victorian time period that these sonnets were written. In general, the entire Victorian era was based on romanticism. There were many rules for courting which was the step before engagement at the time. These rules were mostly for women to follow. Women were groomed to be perfectly, dutiful wives and mothers before they were even in a courtship. A woman could be married off as early as 12 years old, although they were normally married around 18. When married, women signed everything over to their husbands and that was that.
So, what about divorce? Was it even a thing in that time period? Why doesn’t this unhappy couple just get a divorce and move on? The answer is complicated. Divorce was slowly becoming more allowed during the time, but it was still incredibly difficult to do and usually caused a scene in the community. Basically, if a woman wanted a divorce, she had to have extensive evidence of her husband causing her harm. This was the case even in an instance of adultery performed by the man. It was also incredibly expensive to divorce in this time period. All of this made it socially and economically silly to divorce in the Victorian period.
Want to read the Sonnets? Check them out here:
Hello! Welcome to my blog page! My name is Abbie and I'm a Communication Studies student at Wright State University. I like to spend my free time shopping, playing Animal Crossing, and watching Netflix, of course. I'm currently not working so I get to hang out with my fiancé's two kids who are 4 and 5 every day.