Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau is like a strange throwback to the Rationalist writings of Revolutionary period. Unlike most Romanticism writers, he does not focus on emotion and nature, but rather on reason to make his writing sensible and interesting. Of course, on closer inspection his writing does share many characteristics with other writings of the Romanticism period. Even so his work bears the distinctive mark of the Transcendentalist style. The philosophy in Civil Disobedience is really interesting as well, and it sort of makes a person feel a little bit better about humanity to read it. It reminds them that they are not the only ones who think in such a manner.

Civil Disobedience is a rationalization of when and why people should defy their governments. Thoreau writes that "Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice." This is meaning that by following unjust laws people are made to act unjustly. The question then becomes whether or not it is better to break the law for justice or follow it for safety. Thoreau makes a compelling argument that a good person would break the law in such cases. This is an appeal to reason where in other Romanticism works there would be an appeal to emotion.

One of the characteristics of Romanticism that it does have is a value for purity and innocence. One of the reasons Romanticists tend to focus so much on nature is because they see society as a great corrupter of the soul. Civil Disobedience is about seperating one's self from one of the most important parts of a society, its government. In this Thoreau is very much in step with Romanticism style writers even though he does not write about nature specifically.

Transcendentalists had great respect for the individual and thought that people were best before corrupted by society. This is typical Transcendentalism because it is entirely about the rights of an individual to step out from under the rule of a government and allow them to rule themselves. Thoreau writes about how a man is best governed by his own conscience, and that government only comes in the way of that by passing laws contrary to it and claiming money that does not belong to it.

The philosophy in Civil Disobedience is about as wonderful as it can get. It places the focus not on what would be the best for the most people in a society, but on what would be best for each individual. It would be wonderful for the rights of individuals not to be subject to the tyranny of the majority. In some instances government is necessary, as in the case of criminals with no care for morality, but with most good people it would be far better if the government would leave them to themselves. Imagine the freedom and liberty that would be possible to people if the government worked that way. Is it not a wonderful thought?

Graves, Roy Neil. "Individual and Society in 'Civil Disobedience'." McClinton-Temple, Jennifer ed. Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature. New York: Infobase Publishing, 2011. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 24 Jan. 2012. ETL1130&SingleRecord=True.

Krueger, Christine, ed. "Romanticism." Encyclopedia of British
Writers,19thCentury, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2002.
Bloom'sLiteraryReference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 16 Jan. 2012.

Thoreau, Henry. "Thoreau's Civil Disobedience - 1." The Thoreau Reader. Web. 25 Jan. 2012.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Journal 26

I really have not given much thought to when it is or is not okay to break the law. There are plenty of absurd laws, and a great number of laws that are unfair and seek to protect special interest groups and industries with good lobbyists. With this in mind, I do not think it is always wrong to break the law. However, when it becomes a choice between two evils it becomes a little bit more complicated.

The real question is whether or not it is okay to steal from someone in a situation of life or death. When I say that this is the real question, I take for granted that hurting another person is always wrong. In a normal situation, there should be help available from a variety of sources. People could go to their families, charities, and other organizations made to help people in dire situations. In the absolute worst case possible, when there really is no other choice, I think it could be acceptable, but still be wrong.

This is all assuming that the person in said situation is dying of starvation through no fault of their own. If they were just lazy and did not want to work, then I think they have no excuse to steal from other people who worked hard. It is only acceptable if some unavoidable tragedy or natural disaster deprived them of the fruits of their labor.

It is a really specific sort of situation where I could understand why a person would steal. It is my personal belief that a person only has a right to what they have worked for and earned, and has absolutely no right to ask anything of anyone else. Even with my black and white view of right and wrong, I can understand why someone would steal in a few situations. Please do not misunderstand me, I still think it is wrong, but I can give them a little bit of sympathy in certain situations.

Friday, January 20, 2012


The Minister's Black Veil by Hawthorne is a pretty crazy tale. It has many traits of Dark Romanticism, like the solitary protagonist and the pessimistic view of human nature. It is far more focused on emotion that reason, like other works in the Romanticism style. It also has a deep psycological effect that is a little hard to describe.

According to Christine Kruger, one of the defining features of Dark Romanticism is the solitary, dark protagonist. This is very apparent in The Minister's Black Veil. The main character, Mr. Hooper, spends his entire life alone behind a black veil. That must be the definition of dark and solitary, after all, the veil is black. The solitary protagonist shows up a lot in Romanticism writing, and The Minister's Black Veil is certainly no exception.

The really dark, pessimistic view of human nature and humanity in general is the destinctive quality of Dark Romanticism. The theme of The Minister's Black Veil is that people all have evil spots on their souls, and no one truly wants to acnologe it. Because the entire theme is about the hidden darkness within everyone, the story definitly fits in with other works of Dark Romanticism.

The emotion in The Minister's Black Veil is really important. During the story, the reader has trouble deciding whether to like the minister for his kind service or distrust his because of the ominous blcak veil he wears. A pretty good deal of the story described the different emotions the black veil inspired in different situations. When he is ministering a funeral, the reader feels affection for how sympathetic he is toward the mourners of the dead woman. When he is at a wedding, the reader gets suspicious toward him for making such a joyous occasion into a dark and suspenceful one.

James Mellow writes about the difference between a mask and a veil, and its importance in the story. A mask completely changes the perception of a person, and makes it seem totally different. A veil just covers something, maybe just one small aspect, from view. It still allows the person to be viewed as it is, but just hides something from view. This is important because even though just one aspect of Hooper is hidden by a veil, it completely changes the way people see him, as if he was wearing a mask.

The psycology in the story of The Minister's Black Veil is really interesting, in that the veil effects people in two ways, both with the same effect. When people see the veil covering their minister's face, it makes them think that there is some deep sin on his soul, so they start to avoid and fear him. The other, more important thing they think of when they see the veil and think of hidden sin, they are reminded of their own secrets they hid deep inside and try hard not to recall. They are afraid to see him and be around him because it reminds them of this, and they really, really do not want to be reminded.

Hawthorne,, Nathaniel. "The Minister's Black Veil, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1836." Eldritch Press. Web. 20 Jan. 2012. .

Krueger, Christine, ed. "Romanticism." Encyclopedia of British Writers,19th
Century, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2002. Bloom's
LiteraryReference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 16 Jan.

Mellow, James R. Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980): pp. 60–61. Quoted as "Hawthorne's Veil" in Harold Bloom, ed. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bloom's Major Short Story Writers. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishing, 2001. (Updated 2007.) Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 16 Jan. 2012. BMSSNH16&SingleRecord=True.

Journal 25: the egg mcmuffin of journals about fear

This being the third journal I have been assigned about fear, I am beginning to grow frustrated. One can only write about a single subject for so long before it has been beaten to death, and there remains nothing more to be said. It might be a it easier if the assignment had been more specific, like the previous two were, but no, I am merely to write about fear in some sense or other.

Do not misunderstand me though, I really do appreciate the feeling of fear. Like sadness, it is one of those rare feelings that can completely fill a person without any other feelings mixed with it. Happiness is rarely ever complete and perfect, there is always something bitter, or something missing in it. With fear, and even more so with sadness, the feeling is found frequently without anything to mar it. I would suppose this is because of all feelings, happiness is the most easily forgotten. Although this happens little with fear, in sadness the perfection gives it beauty, and the beauty of it causes me to be happy (which is a little bit confusing, considering the jist of what I just said was a lack of happiness makes me happy).

That brings me around to something that troubles me from time to time. Why is it people always forget me when I do not make sure to remind them I exist? Does that happen to everyone, or just to me? In one relationship I was in, the guy promised he would call me back the next day or the day after, but it would happen that the next time I spoke to him was a week later when I called him. He said he just forgot about it. In another, a friend of mine would tell me he would talk to tomorrow, only to call me a month later. Is it just me? Am I just so uninteresting and plain that people cannot seem to keep me in mind? You can see why this bothers me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Poe (but a different one this time so don't have a kiniption)

The Pit and the Pendulum is another really good example of Dark Romanticism by Edgar Allen Poe. Among other things, it has frightful scenarios and a lot of suspense. Like most other Dark Romantic works, it has torment, although it is a little bit unique in having literal torture in it. Another characteristic of Romanticism in the short story is the exotic setting.

Dark Romanticism style writing tends to focus on the darker side of human nature according to Christine Kruger (the all knowing master of absolutly everything to do with Dark Romanticism, which is admittedly really not much). This is very much present in The Pit and the Pendulum. There really are not many thoughts more disturbing than those of holy men become tormentors and executioners, but human nature would have us go to extremes such as this to try keeping people that threaten to change things from being able to do so. That is the reason for the plot of Poe's short story, and definitely makes one look a little bit more cynically on humanity.

There is also a strong element of emotional suffering in Dark Romanticism. The protagonist of Poe's story has to watch his death slowly descend upon him, waving back and forth on its way down. The protagonist becomes frenzied as it gets closer, and even starts laughing at one point (Poe 270). His emotional distress is so great it sounds a though he might have even loses his wits for a while.

The exotic is really something of an ever present characteristic of Romanticism. It seems that almost every Romantic work has at least a touch of it somewhere. Spain during the inqusition is fairly exotic, and death via pendulum and collapsing walls are up there as well. The exotic elements of The Pit and the Pendulum are historic, which is a bit unique for Romanticism, as most exotic things and happenings have something to do with fairy tales.

Psycologically the important thing about the death planned for the protagonist is the time he has to spend thinking about it. He had hours to think about the slow pain, the ways he could have escaped, and all of the things he will never get to do because he is about to be sliced in half by a deadly pendulum. That is pretty much all that it takes to unnerve a person. Having nothing to do but think your fate over for a few hours, being able to take absolutly no action to speed it or prevent it is really terrible when given thought.

An interesting point of view proposed by Charles May is that the reason everything seems so terrifying to the protagonist is because he keeps falling in and out of dreams. Like when he is being carried down into the dungeon, he cannot quite decide if the descent was a dream or a memory (Poe 264). May suggests that some parts of the protagonist's story are nightmares whose memory is mistaken a memory of real events.

Krueger, Christine, ed. "Romanticism." Encyclopedia of British Writers,
19th Century, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2002. Bloom's Literary
Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 16 Jan. 2012.

May, Charles E. "Alternate Realms of Reality." In Edgar Allan Poe: A Study of Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991, pp. 96–97. Quoted as "Dreams and Reality in the Story" in Harold Bloom, ed. Edgar Allan Poe, Bloom's Major Short Story Writers. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishing, 1998. (Updated 2007.) Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 18 Jan. 2012. BMSSEP39&SingleRecord=True.

Poe, Edgar. "The Pit and the Pendulum." Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, Ph.D. and Douglas Fisher, Ph.D. Glencoe Literature. American Literature ed. Columbus: McGraw-Hill Companies, 2009. 97-99. Print.

Journal 24

A time when I was frightened? To be quite honest, there have not been many. Most of the time I would appear to be frightened I am merely startled by something that has happened suddenly. When I was younger, I was frightened by the supernatural things in horror movies I would glimpse. For around a year I would jump onto my bed because I was afraid of something grabbing me from underneath it. When I randomly scattered garlic cloves around my room, I quickly ceased being afraid though (I kid you not, I really did that). I understand it sounds childish and superstitious, but it made me feel much better, and even seemed reasonable at the time. Since then fears have been few and far between, save for one.

My deepest, most guarded fear is that I will spend all of my life in central Illinois or somewhere like it, and be stuck there alone. It terrifies me down to my core. Try as I may, I cannot imagine anything even slightly worse. I cannot bear the thought that my entire life will be spent with no excitement, no thrilling interest, and with no one who understands. When ever I think of it I get a strange, nauseous feeling that stretches all of the way up my throat, and I start panicking. When I say that I panic I mean that I truly panic. Had I less control of myself, I would begin fidgeting compulsively. The panic is one of the reasons I get so restless and need to take extensive walks. It is a rather vehement emotion, and sometimes it quite overcomes me when I spend too much time in thought over it.

So, now I have shared my deepest and only fear with the entire internet, to be read by no one. That is just the slightest bit depressing when one starts to think about it. I have barley even mentioned it to my closest friends, and here I am, spelling it all out where the entire world can see it, but no one will.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Edgar Allan Poe's poem The Raven is a perfect example of Dark Romanticism. It is depressing and tormented in all of the right ways, and it has several other characteristics of Romanticism writing, like the innocence of the narrator of the poem.
The real difference between normal Romanticism and Dark Romanticism is how troubling the themes and characters are. In The Raven the theme is how terrifying it is to think that once people die they are gone from the rest of us forever, never to be seen again. When the narrator of the poem asks the raven if he will ever again see his love, Lenore, the raven replies "Nevermore" (Poe 96). After such reply, the narrator goes into a kiniptsion, and then is forever haunted by the demonic raven perched above his door. That is a horrifying thing to think of, and really not pleasant thing to write poetry about.
According to Christine Krueger, one of the most defining feature of Dark Romanticism writing is the "dark, troubled, solitary protagonists." The Raven definitly has one, considering that the narrattor finds nothing better to do with his time than sit all by his bonny lonesome in his study mourning his lost lover. If that is not the picture of troubled and solitary, then there is no such picture in existence.
One of the most important parts of Romantic writing is the innocence of the main characters. Despite the rather meloncholy nature of the main character, he also is wonderfully innocent in his own way. Despite the ominous nature of the raven, he still finds it terrible entertaining, and it makes him smile before it starts tormenting him with its ceasless answer of "nevermore" (Poe 67). That such a strange appearance was able to tickle his fancy and make his troubled heart smile shows his innocence despite his depressing life story.
There is a certain element of the exotic in The Raven, as a talking raven is a slightly strange thing to see. Normally Romanticism writings have exotic locations, but an exotic creature or two often make an appearance. Romanticism is based off of the irrational and mystical, and a dark, talking raven does seem rather mystical.
According to Harold Bloom, the raven's perch also holds some unique significance in the poem. The raven perches on a bust of Pallas, a Godess of wisdom and intellect. As the poem goes on, and the narrator's terrors grows more and more fierce. Quite soon, his terror overcomes his reason, and he is evermore lost in his woeful mourning. This is very consistent with the Romanticism style because the style values emotion, and really has little affection for reason.
Frequently, Romantic style poets would use an interesting meter and rhyme scheme. The Raven is no exception here, as the second, fourth, fifth, and sixth lines rhyme, while the first and third rhyme internally. The meter is consistant in all lines except the last in each stanza, which is shorter. The interesting rhyme and meter gives it a wonderful cadence that begs to be sped to a frenzied pitch.
Bloom, Harold, ed. "'The Raven'." Edgar Allan Poe, Bloom's Major Poets. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishing, 1999. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 16 Jan. 2012. BMPEAP19&SingleRecord=True.
Krueger, Christine, ed. "Romanticism." Encyclopedia of British Writers, 19th Century, vol. 1. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2002. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 16 Jan. 2012. GEBWIXX351&SingleRecord=True.
Poe, Edgar. "Edgar Allan Poe: The Raven." Heise Online IT-News, C't, IX, Technology Review, Telepolis. Web. 16 Jan. 2012. .

Friday, January 13, 2012

journal 23

Personally, I find most scary stories and movies distasteful. They are all filled with cliche monsters, reasonless hauntings, and God awful plots. Often times the most frightening thing in the stories is all of the gore, which becomes less frightening all the time. The only scary movies I like are the psychological thrillers, like Silence of the Lambs. They are much more frightening because they are so much more realistic and possible. Most people do not believe in ghosts, and it is really only children who get scared of monsters, but crazy people exist all over the place. The build entire complexes just to hold all of the crazy people who commit violent crimes.

Poe's stories and poems are really wonderful because they are about things everyone worries about every once and a while. The Raven is about never seeing the people we love again after they die, which is terribly frightening. Just imagine all of the family and friends that will pass away before you, and that you will never see them again. And think again that after you die you will never see the people you love who are still living. I am almost in a panic just thinking about it, and I have not read the poem in years. One of his best stories, Mask of the Red Death, is about the spread of a deadly disease at a party. He writes about things that are really frightening because they are possible and horrible.

I used to hate scary movies because they frightened me so badly, but once I became used to things popping out on the screen every once in a while, I hated them because they were plot-less and pointless. Every once and a while I see a good one, which redeems my faith in them until the next time I chance to see a really bad one. At that point I go out and find a movie more to my taste and forget my previous poor choice.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Journal 22: A Forced Poem

I love the ice and snow to fall on hills
Where sleds can gain the top and ride for thrills
And people in thick coats will spend the day
Trudging up hills to fall in speedy way.
Their faces bright and snow looking so clean
In sleds ranging from red to blue to green
The colors on the snow seem twice as bright
As they would have against anything but white.
I love to stop and watch for just a while
As the people all laughing will make me smile.
From the bottom to the top again
Sometimes to crash before they reach the end
They spend their time in perfect agony
With freezing limbs and hearts almost longing
To head inside and forget freezing cold
But even so their spirits soon grow bold.
As they reach the top their hearts begin to rise
To see the way the sleds race side by side
And all they think is "Ride down once again,
And maybe a few more times once that one ends."
I almost wish to join as I drive by
And see the way the sledders seem to fly
But with no time to spare I cannot stay
And sadly I continue on my way.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Journal 21

Honestly, at this very moment, snowy scenes leave me uninspired. As partial as I am to any extreme, I really prefer warmer weather right now. My mom bought me a space heater for my room, and now she can barely stand to walk because of the heat (and also because I tend to dislike anyone opening the door and letting the cold in). For the sake of this journal I will try to put myself in the shoes I will be wearing a few weeks from now.

I love the cold. Sometimes I take off my gloves and leave my hands still just to feel the aching coldness creep into them. I know it is a bit odd, but there is a strange sort of pleasure in letting go of the heat held close to your body, and letting the bitter winter take its place. I take walks when I get restless (which is rather frequent), and then I can really feel it. My hands ache and I my cheeks burn. I walk quickly so I can get home and warm up faster, but I pass my house to go around the block again when I get there.

When it is wet outside, the street lights make everything shine, and make it look as though every branch on every tree had grown specially to surround the light in a natural wreath. This does not last long though, because when the water freezes entire trees light up. Then, there are the terrors of walking in the snow. Trudging with wet feet, and sometimes soaked all the way up to my knee, it is easy to imagine mysilf in a Siberian work camp (which is always entertaining).

I mainly love the winter because it is something to fight against. It is terribly infrequent for me to have conflicts of any kind, so I am glad to make the entire season my opponent. Let it throw its worst at me, and just watch to see if I let it beat me.

Is it just me, or is it a little warm in here?