Sunday, May 13, 2012

Shakespeare and Misogyny

          Throughout history, men have felt the need and compulsion to keep women in a state of obedience and expectations. In the modern age, women have proven to be just as qualified as men in many aspects of life, but traces of misogyny still remain despite the progress that has been made. During Shakespeare's time, the mocking and lack of respect for women was much more prevalent than it is in the twenty-first century. Both of Shakespeare's plays Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew provide clear examples of misogyny during Shakespeare's time period. After reading through these two plays, it's interesting to think  about how much society has changed for women and in some ways hasn't.

          During the play of Hamlet, one particular scene illustrates the contempt and frustration men seemed to have had towards women in Shakespeare's time. In the beginning of Hamlet, it is quite well known by most characters that Hamlet and Ophelia are involved in an intimate relationship. After the Hamlet encounters the ghost of his late father, he purposely begins to act crazy and contemplates the purpose of life and humanity in general. Being worried for him, Ophelia seeks out Hamlet and questions his odd change in behavior, but is only rewarded with a harsh lashing of words. "God hath given you one face and you make yourselves another. You jig, you amble, and you lisp, you nickname God's creatures, and make your wantonness your ignorance"(Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 1, Lines 137-140). This outburst clearly defines the true feelings that Hamlet and arguably Shakespeare had towards women along with the rest of society at that time. Even in the bible(which was taken much more seriously then than it is now) it was clearly stated what roles women were supposed to live by.

          Compared to Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew focuses much more on the expectations of women in Shakespeare's society. The story focuses primarily on a hot tempered and ferocious woman named Katherine whose attitude and behavior is ultimately subdued by her future husband Pertuchio. In many ways, Katherine represents all the qualities that women were not supposed to have during Shakespeare's time while her sister Bianca is modest, quiet, and delicate flower all women were expected to be. After a variety of harsh and unorthodox methods, Pertuchio is able to tame the shrew known as Katherine into a satisfactory and submissive state. "She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house, my household stuff, my field, my barn, my horse, my ox, my ass, my any thing"(The Taming of the Shrew, Act 3 Scene 3, Lines 101-103). The mind set that women are little more than property to their husband or any man is made quite clear by Pertuchio. A women with Katherine's attitude and spirit had no place during Shakespeare's time and had only two options: become tamed or die miserable, old, and alone.

          While it's clear that there was a high level of misogyny in Shakespeare's time, there are still clear traces of it in our society as well. One of the most obvious examples is how women are portrayed by the mainstream media. In today's day and age, women tend to be exploited as sex symbols and society has taken a greater value to a woman's appearance than how intelligent or well meaning they are. However, there have been some massive improvements within the last fifty years in America at least. Women are now able to live independently without dependence on anyone and can hold high positions in the government as well as run multi-million dollar companies. It's a mixed bag, but misogyny is nowhere near as prevalent in our time than it was in Shakespeare's.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Sunthesizing Genocides and Understanding Them

          It seems that whenever there has been mass murders of groups of people throughout history, all seem to follow the same patterns or steps. The core of why these genocides happen in the first place seems to be after years of disputes and tensions between two or multiple groups. The differences could be about nationality, religious beliefs, political stipulations, or social backgrounds. Genocides that have happened in Darfur, Serbia, China, and various other places around the world are strikingly similar to the underlying causes of the Holocaust during World War II. Like the Nazis, the governments who were in power post Holocaust genocides used strikingly similar methods and propaganda to build support for their causes. I think it's safe to say that humanity has not learned enough from the Holocaust to prevent future genocides or even stop them before it's too late.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Rwandan Genocide

          Despite the harsh lessons humanity has learned from the Holocaust, the world has remained an excessively dangerous place to live. The mass murder of an entire ethnic group has continued in various places such as Serbia, Darfur, Rwanda, and other chaotic nations. The catastrophe began in 1994 and revolved around the never ending strife between Rwanda's Hutu majority and Tutsi minority. Once the killings came to an end, 800,000 Rwandans had been killed in the span of 100 days.

          Years before the Rwandan genocide took place, tensions between the Hutus and Tutsi had been building up for decades. During Rwanda's time as a colony for Belgium,  the Belgians used identity cards to separate the different ethnic groups and considered the Tutsis superior over the Hutus. Under Belgium's colonization, the Tutsis were favored for better education, living standards, and more lucrative job opportunities. Rwanda's society would remain in this state until 1962 when Rwanda claimed its independence from Belgium and leaving a Tutsi minority ruling over the Hutu majority. With all the years of resentment and disdain towards the Tutsis built up, the Hutus immediately took power and blamed the Tutsi for all the misfortunes that would plague Rwanda in the years to follow. In a way, this situation is similar to the Nazis using the Jews as scapegoats for the Germany's humiliation and woes after World War I.

          The event that finally triggered the widespread of violence was assassination of former Rwandan president Habyarimana who was a Hutu. As always in Rwanada, the Tutsi were blamed for the incident. The current presdient of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, was blamed for the killing due to his previous involvement in the rebel Tutsi group known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front. Immediately after the assassination, much of the Hutu began to hunt down the Tutsi who they felt were responsible for the death of president Habyarimana. The Hutus in political power used the radio to broadcast anti-Tutsi propoganda and encouraged the Hutu majority to participate in genocide. Much like the Nazis, the Hutu run government used hatred and fear to manipulate the majority of Rwandans into serving their own agenda.

          During the genocide in Rwanda, the international community was completely aware of the slaughter, but failed to take action to end the bloodshed. The more powerful nations of the world refused to acknowledge that there was a genocide happening in Rwanda and stalled for weeks in fear of having to intervene. Even though footage of the carnage had been leaked all over the world, the major powers of the world still chose not to help the dwindling Tutsi.  Particularly, American politicians refused to even use the "g-word" and avoided any talks involving the genocide in Rwanda. This is strangely similar to how countries outside of Europe during World War II knew about the Nazis' extermination of the Jews, but chose not to help at first.

          In a few ways, the genocide in Rwanda is comparable to the Holocaust. Both genocides involved the extermination of minorities and political parties that used fear and propaganda to win the majority over to their agendas. At the same time, while 800,000 is a staggering number of victims, but not as atrocious as over six million victims. Regardless of the numbers, humanity has obviously not learned enough from the Holocaust to prevent the genocides that have happened after its legacy.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Church and State

          Intolerance, scrutiny, and theocratic society all run rampant in The Crucible by Arthur Miller. In retaliation to the outrageous accusations of people being communists without any evidence, Republican U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy was the figurehead of the Red Scare at its height. Similar to McCarthy and his followers, Miller expresses his distain towards McCarthy's fear mongering by using the setting of Salem, Massachusetts during the early 1600s to show that McCarthy's hunt for communists were no different than the witch hunts committed back more than three centuries ago. After reading through The Crucible, I was able to pull more ideas on how to make comparisons to the Church's rule in the past while also borrowing some characteristics from certain characters.
          During the time period of The Crucible, the Church spread its influence in all aspects of life and everyone was deemed either in support or against the Church. A completely black and white outlook with no room for grey areas. If you obeyed all the rules and established a good name for yourself, then your chances of going to heaven seemed that much more likely. Since religious laws were also society's laws, any who dabbled in scandalous behavior such as dancing or other forms of entertainment were looked down on and considered a bond with the devil. "You must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time-we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world."(Act III, The Crucible, Arthur Miller). Like the Church, the Librarium views the world in the same black and white mindset. Any peasants who are openly against the Librarium are condemned to death and labeled a threat to the world's stability like how the Church would hang those who did not support the Church or its beliefs. The Librarium uses the Wings of Justice to conduct witch hunts of their own and considered the Librarium's most lethal and loyal force.
          In The Crucible, John Proctor is the protagonist and serves as the voice against the Church and ultimately the iron grip it holds society in. As the play progresses and the witch trials escalate and it becomes more apparent to Proctor and the audience that all of these trials are groundless and illogical, Proctor starts seeing how flawed the system is and in the end rebels against it. It comes to a turning point when Proctor loses all faith in the Church when they accept the word of the manipulative and insane antagonist Abigail Williams. "Show honor now, show them a stony heart and sink them with it!"(Act IV,  The Crucible, Arthur Miller). Once the protagonist of my story joins the Wings of Justice and is forced to kill innocent people, he starts realizing just how unfair and controlling the Librarium is in terms of magic and denying the peasants and ordinary citizens of the world to learn how to use it. Roland, my protagonist, ultimately  rebels against the Librarium and organizes a standing army to fight them.
          News of the devil making its way into Salem reaches the surrounding towns and cities which brings the attention of those who have experience in dealing with witch trials, specifically Judge Danforth. Over the course of the play, Danforth becomes the ruling authority of the court in Salem and represent the Church's theocratic principles and authority. While he is by no means an idiotic man, Danforth would rather keep his well respected name rather than admit the trials as a sham and makes it clear that there can never be a middle ground in the Church's society. "Do you take it upon yourself to determine what this court shall believe and what it shall set aside?....This is the highest court of the supreme government of this province, do you know?"(Act III, The Crucible, Arthur Miller). The Librarium has no concern with the millions of refugees that scatter the entire world. All they really want is to try and find the most intelligent of these peasants and convert them to the Librarium's cause. The enthrallment of power and knowledge has been enough for the Librarium to have these recruits abandon contact with their families and friends. If they don't, the other option is death.
          The Crucible is exceptionally insightful play that has helped me gather new ideas and circumstances as I continue to work on my own story. I would recommend The Crucible to anyone interested in authoritarian governments or other oppressive regimes. This along with my other mentor texts can only benefit my final product!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lost and Found Interview

Chris: "What sort of setting does your story take place in?"

Sara: "My story takes place in a space station comparable to the death star although much less intimidating. At a certain point in the story, the setting is then switched to Malca. The story takes place several hundred years in the future from our time."

Chris: "Why is there tension between the two planets?"

Sara: "the Tension stems from the cultural differences. Malca is very much like the Middle East where women have very little rights of their own and are treated like second class citizens. Trayit is the exact opposite where the women are in power and the men are second class citizens."

Chris: "What is the purpose of the Alliance?"

Sara: "The Alliance has 20 members. They all banded together in an attempt to make galactic trade and relations easier. The Alliance is largely modeled after the UN."

Chris: "Do the politial stipulations reflect our world?"

Sara: "In a way Malca does because it's supposed to reflect how the Muslim world is today. Not so much Trayit because there is no country like that in existence."

Chris: "Does the princess become friends with Scarlet?"

Sara: "Yes, they were friends even before the kidnapping incident and maintain their friendship when they're trapped together."

Chris: "What movies or books inspired your story?"

Sara: "Since I'm a pretty big science fiction nerd, Star Wars and Star Trek are the most obvious examples. The Ender's Game was also another mentor text of mine."

Chris: "Why is John Do on trial?"

Sara: "John Do is responsible for kidnapping Scarlet and Sonya."

Chris: "This may seem like a dumb question, but since this story is taking place hundreds of years in outer space, will there be super advanced technology?"

Sara: "Indeed, hyper speed space travel will play a big factor. There will also be gigantic space stations that even rival the size of the death star along with smart matter(not revealing that yet)."

Chris: "Why is it so hard to break away from the Alliance?"

Sara: "It's not hard to leave, but it is hard to kick someone out. Requires the full support against the planet being kicked out. And I mean ALL the other planets must vote against the planet under dispute. Not the majority, but all."

Chris: "Do Scarlet and Sonya start off as friends or do they develop their friendship?"

Sara: "Scarlet and Sonya were already freinds before the kidnapping."

Chris: "What planets besides Earth do humans populate?"

Sara: "Most planets in our solar society and some planets that go past our solar system."

Chris: "What are some of the key differences between Malca and Trayit?"

Sara: "Trayit was controlled by the men previously before the women rebelled and took over. Ever since then, tensions have been high and it's a somewhat similar atmosphere to the Palestinian and Israel feud."

Chris: "Is the conflict between Malca and Trayit open warfare or more like the Cold War?"

Sara: "Very much like the Cold War. Both planets are always trying to meddle in each other's affairs. They would destroy each other completely if it came to full warfare."

Chris: "Will Malca and Trayit recieve help or build alliances with other countries?"

Sara: "No, because nobody else really likes them because nobody wants to put up with them and is one of the reasons why their not in the alliance. Trayit is trying to make it seem like there is equality by filtering information.

Chris: "Does this story take place in the far off future?"

Sara: "Yes, hundreds of years past our own time?"

Chris: "Is there a specific date?"

Sara: "No, I haven't pinpointed the story to a specific date."

Chris: "Are there any aliens in your story?"

Sara: "Aliens do exist and are mentioned, but all the characters in the story are human."

Chris: "How is the government set up for Trayit?"

Sara: "Trayit is ruled by a queen along with a council of nobles. In that regard, it's set up much like a traditional monarchy."

Chris: "How is the government set up for Malca?"

Sara: "Malca is ruled by a king, but it also has a council of nobles along with commoners. There is a little more political freedom compared to Trayit."

Chris: "Why were the two girls at the treaty?"

Sara: "Princess was brought along to see how politics work in the galaxy with her mother. Scarlet's parents were soldiers in the Alliance which means she now goes to school on the Alliance space ships scattered around the galaxy until she is eighteen years old."

To check out the rough draft of "Lost and Found", click here

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Librarium(Rough Draft)

               "Hey, sleepy head!", called Charles from the bottom of the bunk beds. "It's orientation for the academy today. A golden boy like you should be on his toes for an event like this.", mumbled Charles as he was barely rolling out of bed himself. With that said, mentally forced himself out of bed and gradually walked towards the bathroom to prepare for the day. "Isn't the Emperor himself coming to give us a speech Charles?", yelled Roland as the showers sprayed water in a fury. "That's what the rumors say, but they are rumors after all. Honestly, with all the Librarium academies scattered across the globe why would the Emperor want to visit this one?", Curiously asked Charles with a puzzled tone in his voice. "Might be another speech on the importance of safeguarding magic and all that other rabble, but you know as well as I do who follows the Emperor wherever he goes.", Roland answered back. "The Wings of Justice...", gulped Charles. "You know, you should probably stop asking me questions right about now and get dressed yourself. It's our first year here at the academy and I'd hate to leave a bad impression on the professors. I will be the greatest wizard the Librarium has ever seen. Have I said this before Charles?", asked Roland condescendingly. "Yes Roland, you only remind me every single day, but we've wasted enough time already. If we keep this chatter up we'll surely be late!", yelled Charles, and with that in mind the two boys quickly washed, got dressed, ate their meals and proceeded to the inner sanctum of the academy.

               With the flood of other students pouring into the inner sanctum, the masses of bodies squirmed and squeezed their way to find a seat. As Roland and Charles searched a seat themselves, a girl with light brown hair put into a neat ponytail and a happy-go-lucky demeanor skipped her way over to greet them. "Morning gentleman, I'm pleasantly surprised to see you two actually made it on time.", cracked Charlotte with a teasing demeanor. "Honestly, does sleeping in on one of the most important days of our lives really surprised you?", questioned Roland. "Now that you think about it, no, it hardly does", smirked Charlotte with a small laugh. This band of three boasted and laughed as much as they could until members of the Wings of Justice made their way to their seats on top of the stage. Their golden masks glimmered in the light. Majestic and intimidating. The masses of students quickly came to a dreaded silence. The Emperor made his way down behind them, regal robes and scars ran down his face. He may have been an aristocrat all his life, but he had seen his share of warfare in the Oxford Conflict.

               "Young wizards and witches, let me begin by saying how much joy it brings to an old man's heart to see such fresh and eager minds enter the halls of one of the Librarium's academies. This is a special day for you all that you'll all remember fondly when you all see your children entering these same halls. Magic is a gift to mankind, but it is also a burden. Only the brightest of humanity can be trusted with this precious gift. If we were to simply let every single human on the face of the earth gain access to magic, the circumstances could be astronomical. Therefore, it is imperative that you all try to understand this at an early age: the entire human population is not ready to handle the responsibility that comes with magic.", with this said, all the students in the sanctum applauded. The Wings of Justice bowed and escorted the Emperor back behind the scenes of the Librarium.

               With the excitement of magic flowing in the minds of all the young wizards and witches, the year passed by within the blink of an eye. Roland was making leaps and strides to become top of his class. His aptitude for magic was marked above average and was even being considered to be inducted into the Wings of Justice. Charles didn't share the same kind of ambition Roland did and decided to study in order to become a professor since helping others was something he could happily see himself doing for the rest of his life. Charlotte would follow the same path as Charles and continue her education in order to become a professor herself. Everyone's lives seemed like they were going to be perfect fits for them, but things didn't go exactly as everyone had hoped.

               "We're going to pay a visit to some of the civilians in London for your first mission.", growled one of Roland's senior officers. Roland looked around the surroundings and was quite disgusted with what he saw. Buildings once glamorous and proud were reduced to rubble and the locals wore mostly rags and tattered old clothing long in need of replacements. Once they caught sight of Roland's uniform and golden mask, terror filled their eyes and ran furiously in the other direction. Just ahead were giant protests with makeshift signs such as "Down With The Emperor" and "Why Can't We Have Magic". While Roland was considered to be a diligently loyal soldier of the Librarium, he wished sometimes that magic could be shared with humanity, seeing as how much of the population lived like refugees and the plague was making a deadly comeback. "Let me show you how to deal with upstarts. Remember this." The senior officer leaped towards the crowd and immediately started snapping his fingers which produced multiple explosions near the protesters. The point of this was to try and frighten them, but a large portion refused to back down. The protesters charged the officer with rusty repair tools which the officer could only snicker at. "Fools", he muttered to himself before encasing the protesters in ice with elemental magic. One by one, the senior officer walked up to the frozen statues that used to be people and kicked them over. A horrified expression was painted on Roland's face as he watched what used to be people break into a hundred pieces as they smashed into the ground. "They never said anything about this at the academy..."

To Be Continued...


Sunday, November 13, 2011

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