The Luminous Review is sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Honors Program at Chestnut Hill College and is a compilation of the brightest academic papers of Chestnut Hill College’s undergraduate students. Inside, you will find nine scholarly papers, ranging from political analysis to literary criticism, all of which shine as brightly as the title of our magazine. We hope that this magazine will serve as a reflection of the great intellect of Chestnut Hill students as well as produce opportunities for further cultivation of knowledge. The Luminous Review is what happens after a paper has been graded: it is where out community can reflect on and learn from our individual work. The Editorial Board puts its love into this, the second publication of the Luminous Review, and hopes for an even larger forum for scholarly reflection in future editions. If you are interested in learning more about the Luminous Review please contact Kelly Butler at email@example.com. Special thanks to our faculty advisor, Professor Kelly E. Butler, who has contributed countless hours to make this publication possible. Also, many thanks to our editorial advisor, Professor Suzanne del Gizzo, for her invaluable insight and Mr. David Kahn for all the advice and support that went into getting this edition to print.
The Luminous Review Senior Editors: Anitra Babic ’10 Tammy Schaaffe ’10 Alexandra Scheirer ’09
The Luminous Review Editorial Board: Alison Borden ’10 Koh Chiba ’10 Jessica Fisher ’11 Merissa Herbert ’11 Lanette Hushon ’10 Lauren Jackson ’08 Stefanie Paternostro ’08 Caitlin Shuker ’10 Leslie Zemnick ’11
Cover Art by Lanette Hushon ’10 Layout by Anitra Babic ’10 Printed by Smith-Edwards-Dunlap Company i
Table of Contents Transitioning – The Big Sleep
Andrèa Fernandes ‘09
Pages 1 - 6
Oil Nationalization, Mohammed Mossadegh, and the CIA: A Study in Firsts
Lauren Jackson ‘08
The Cemetery as a Setting For Crisis
Jane Ziff ‘08
The Life of Dorothea Dix￼
Patricia Popelak ‘10
Pages 7 - 16
Pages 17 - 19
Pages 21 - 25
Breaking Free: An Unconventional Reading of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” ￼
Tammy Schaaffe ‘10
Pages 27 - 30
Doubts within Alfred Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam
Anitra Babic ‘10
Pages 31 - 32
Slaughterhouse-Five and The Red Badge of Courage
Michele Grinar ‘08
Pages 33 - 36
In the Common Interest and for the Common Good: American Foreign Policy in the Age of Terrorism Lauren Jackson ‘08 Pages 37 - 42
Frederico García Lorca’s Treatment of Women
Stefanie Paternostro ‘08
Pages 43 - 49
Transitioning – The Big Sleep Andrèa Fernandes ‘09
On the surface, Raymond Chandler’s novel, The Big Sleep, and Howard Hawks’ 1946 film adaptation
tell the same story: a tale of a blackmailed dying patriarch, a murdered pornographer, and a missing man. Upon closer inspection, though, significant changes from page to screen are obvious, most of which were made either to comply with the Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 (the Hays Code) or to satisfy movie-goers’ desires. The Hays Code dictated subject matter and the way in which ideas, characters, and situations could be portrayed on screen. In order for a film to be released, it had to meet the guidelines of the Hays Code. As a result of those guidelines, the film Vivian, played by a young Lauren Bacall, is less wild and promiscuous and more traditionally feminine. For a movie to be successful, it must appeal to the current movie-going audience. To satisfy those movie-goers’ desires, the film Marlowe, portrayed by Humphrey Bogart, is a more secure, masculine detective and the relationship between Vivian and Marlowe develops from the semi-antagonistic, business relationship of the novel into an actual romance.
The combination of the romance between Vivian and Marlowe and the requirements of the Hays Code
created a significantly different Vivian Rutledge on screen than the Vivian Regan Chandler had created in print. “It is ultimately fitting that Vivian has a different last name in Hawks’ film: her transformation is… radical,” John Paul Athanasourelis remarks in an essay discussing censors and adaptation of Chandler’s works (335). The change of Vivian’s last name, instead of Rusty’s (whose first name is—unexplainably—changed to Shawn) is an interesting alteration, but perhaps it was an acknowledgement by the screenwriters, William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, and Jules Furthman, of the difference between the Vivian of the movie and the Vivian of the novel. Chandler describes both General Sternwood’s daughters as “wild” (10) and Vivian herself as “trouble” (17), noting that Vivian was “married three times, the last time to an ex-bootlegger who went in the trade by the name of Rusty Regan” (10). For the movie, though, Vivian needed to be not a wild girl who might still be married but instead a single and likable woman. Thus omissions were made in the movie: she does not have as wild a reputation as her sister; she was not married three times nor was she married to Rusty (Shawn) Regan; and her interest in Marlowe’s case is no longer personal, but merely out of concern for her father.
According to the Hays Code, “The sanctity of the institution of marriage and the home shall be upheld”
in films (section II). This requirement explains Vivian’s marital status in the film. Three previous marriages would undermine the “sanctity of the institution of marriage,” making marriage seem less of a lasting or significant establishment than the creators of the Code wanted it to appear. Instead, in the film, Vivian has had 1
only one prior marriage and is presumably widowed. Likewise, the sub-statement that “Adultery… must not be explicitly treated, or justified, or presented attractively” (II:1) is the reason behind the lack of a marriage between her and Regan in the movie. Since the film emphasizes a romantic relationship between Vivian and Marlowe and because, for most of the plot, Regan is presumed missing, not dead, the connection between Regan and Vivian must be severed so as not to even suggest adultery.
Hawks’ Vivian is even somewhat different visually than the Vivian of the novel; her clothing is less
revealing. Chandler’s description of Marlowe’s and Vivian’s meeting includes Vivian’s legs, “…in the sheerest of silk stockings… arranged to stare at. They were visible to the knee and one of them well beyond” (17). Yet in the movie, Bacall is costumed in wide pants with a shapeless button-down shirt on top. This choice of clothing could be attributed to the Hays Code, or to an attempt to make Vivian appear more reserved and less promiscuous than she is presented in Chandler’s novel. The Hays Code statement on costume includes the line, “Indecent or undue exposure is forbidden” (VI:3); the display of Vivian’s stocking-clad legs, up to the thighs, to a man she had just met, would most certainly have been deemed indecent or undue exposure. In a later scene in the film, when Vivian visits Marlowe’s office, her legs are shown off and even focused on, but this scene has a different impact than Chandler’s scene in which her legs are displayed. In the novel, Vivian’s legs are “arranged to stare at” upon her first meeting with Marlowe, indicating that she dresses and arranges herself in such a manner on a regular basis. The scene in the movie, though, occurs after she and Marlowe have already established some romantic connection. Vivian’s display of legs in the film is therefore intended for Marlowe, and thus acceptable; her display of legs in the novel is intended for everyone.
Vivian Regan in the novel gets around a bit, spending most nights out at Eddie Mars’ casino, presumably
with various escorts who “would hold a lot of liquor” (Chandler 144). Marlowe even tells her, “You’re easy to take—too damned easy” (151). Such a woman, though, was not fit for Hawks’ film version of The Big Sleep, for audiences wanted to see Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall together again on the silver screen, and Vivian, as Chandler wrote her, could not retain her original characteristics while also being a suitable love match for Bogart’s Marlowe, or any protagonist. Originally, in the 1945 version of Hawks’ film, which was not released in theaters, the relationship between Marlowe and Vivian was more similar to the relationship in the book. Yet the main reason the American public wanted Bogart and Bacall together again in a film was to see their on-screen chemistry, especially after news of their real-life romance, and so, after test-screenings, more Bogart/Bacall scenes were added, shifting the emphasis of the movie from the mystery to the romance. Paul Athanasourelis
remarks, “For all its hard-boiled veneer… Hawks’s film is a romance set against a backdrop of crime-ridden Los Angeles” (336).
The 1946 promotion posters (now the DVD cover artwork) feature an image of Bogart and Bacall
almost kissing centered between their names, in large print, and the byline, “The picture they were born for!” The movie itself also focuses more on the two together than on Marlowe himself; the opening credits are set against a silhouette of the two smoking together. The relationship Hawks develops between the two stars affects not just the characters of Vivian and Marlowe but also several scenes.
One notable instance of romance-induced revisions is Marlowe’s escape from Mr. Canino. In Chandler’s
scene, Mona Mars aids the escape. Mona is the only woman in the novel to whom Marlowe seems to be attracted, or whom he at least respects. She is present in Hawks’ scene, but her presence is cut short, and it is Vivian who actually frees Marlowe. As Athanasourelis points out, “In terms of narrative logic, [Vivian’s] presence in Rialito [sic] is left unaccounted for: her function is to aid Marlowe in his escape and thereby solidify the romance” (336). In their attempt to romantically link Bogart’s and Bacall’s characters without completely rewriting the whole movie, Hawks and his Faulkner-led screenwriting team neglect to construct logical, viable situations. However, Chandler’s plot is already complex, and the audiences wanted to see Bogart and Bacall together, so illogical scenes like the one in Realito are most likely unnoticed or overlooked by the average viewer.
Perhaps the most memorable occurrence of romance-induced revisions is the final scene, in which the
following exchange occurs: Vivian: You’ve forgotten one thing. Marlowe: What’s wrong with you? Vivian: Nothing you can’t fix. The scene closes with a look between the two, which suggests the two embark on a full-fledged romance. This scene is a drastic departure from Chandler’s conclusion, in which Marlowe orders Vivian to put her sister away or “out it comes” (230) and then ponders his involvement in “the nastiness” (230). Marlowe’s narration concludes, in the novel, with thoughts of “Silver-Wig” (231), his nickname for Mona Mars, indicating a desire for a romance with Mona, but the reality of a romance with no one.
In order to make such a romance as the one implied between Vivian and Marlowe plausible, Philip
Marlowe himself underwent significant changes. Every aspect of Marlowe, from his personality to his behaviors
and interactions, was subject to revisions. While Chandler’s Philip Marlowe epitomizes the crisis of masculinity prevalent in the United States at the time (1939, just after the Great Depression and just prior to World War II), Hawks creates a Marlowe who is everything American men want to be. A man whose masculinity is in crisis would not be able to enter into any significant relationship with Lauren Bacall’s Vivian, and Humphrey Bogart would never be a man whose masculinity is in crisis anyway. Bogart’s Marlowe is thus secure in his masculinity, secure in his abilities and his place in the world, confident that he is doing good, and capable of loving women and even letting at least one into his life.
The sexuality of the Marlowe of print is up for some debate; although it would appear, on the
surface, that Marlowe is straight, Hassell A. Simpson and others argue that many of Marlowe’s actions and conversations have homoerotic qualities. A Marlowe with suggestions of homosexuality would not be able to form a plausible romantic relationship with Vivian, nor would one be in compliance with the Hays Code (section II). Thus, several scenes are altered, turning Marlowe into a ladies’ man instead of an admirer of men. Simpson reads Chandler’s dialogue between Marlowe and a young male cab driver as containing a distinctly homoerotic subtext (43) and points out multiple occasions in which Marlowe’s descriptions of men sound as though he is attracted to them (43). Yet, Simpson claims, although Marlowe’s words and actions—his rejection of women’s advances, including those of the Sternwood sisters—could be read as indicating Marlowe’s homosexual tendencies, they only express Marlowe’s “admiration for another man, without having to examine or express what that admiration might mean” (47). A movie does not have room for such ambiguities and uncertainties, though, and so almost all such scenes were removed or altered in the film.
The scene between the cab driver and Marlowe, which Simpson mentions, becomes, in the film, a scene
between Marlowe and a young female cab driver, though the dialogue remains virtually the same. The change in gender of the cab driver significantly alters the implications of the scene: Marlowe is no longer suspected of homosexual tendencies; instead, he is a ladies’ man. The scene follows soon after the scene in the book store, in which it is implied that Marlowe and the attractive young female clerk have sex, which itself is shortly after a scene in which Marlowe flirts with an attractive young female librarian, commenting that he “collect[s] bottles and blondes, too.” In the novel, the library scene is just two sentences regarding “research in a stuffy volume” (Chandler 22); the bookstore encounter includes a few flirtatious lines, but nothing more (28-29). These three scenes, in addition to Carmen’s attraction to and flirtation with Marlowe and the developing romance between Vivian and Marlowe, firmly establish Philip Marlowe’s heterosexual masculinity in the movie. 4
In addition to becoming a much more securely heterosexual man for the film, Marlowe also becomes
“consistently in control of himself and the situations in which he finds himself” (Abbott 306). Noticeably lacking from Bogart’s portrayal of Marlowe are his uncontrollable laughter and his obsessive preservation of his privacy and personal space. After shooting Canino four times in the novel, Marlowe tells Mona Mars, “We had a date. I told you it was all arranged,” and then he begins “to laugh like a loon” (Chandler 202). Such laughter is indicative of instability, uncertainty, and a lack of confidence—all qualities which epitomize the crisis of masculinity but which are inconsistent with the confident, secure, ladies’ man Bogart’s Marlowe portrays. Similarly, while the Marlowe of the book discovers a naked Carmen on his bed and, upon her departure, “[tears] the bed to pieces savagely,” reflecting the next morning that, “You can have a hangover from other things than alcohol. I had one from women. Women made me sick” (159), such an action and thought would be inconsistent with the confident, collected, and in-control Marlowe of the film.
At the root of the romance between the film Marlowe and the film Vivian is differences in audience’s
desires. The novel, aimed at and read primarily by men, features a Philip Marlowe to whom the readers can relate and with whom the readers can empathize. The insecurities, lack of control, and confusion Marlowe experiences are the same insecurities, lack of control, and confusion the readers face in their own lives. Raymond Chandler had more freedom in his medium than Howard Hawks had in his, due to the difference in restrictions and censorship, and therefore was able to more accurately portray such a character as Marlowe. Additionally, male audiences are less concerned with romantic, and otherwise emotional, relationships than women, negating the need for a clear or definitive romance in the novel.
Conversely, the film targeted the entire movie-going audience, male and female, and therefore needed
to play up the romance angle to gain and retain female viewers. The phenomenon of American celebrity also drastically affects movies, especially at the time of The Big Sleep, and audience members desire and expect certain things from certain stars, no matter what the movie is. Since Bogart and Bacall star in Hawks’ production, a romance is necessary to not only please the audience, but to have an audience at all. Also, audiences often look to movies for people they want to be like, instead of people like them, resulting in characters who epitomize audiences’ ideals and desires, instead of audiences’ realities.
There can be no question of better or worse, faithful or unfaithful, for there is no comparison. Raymond
Chandler and Howard Hawks were working in two notably different media, subject to the restrictions and audience expectations of their respective media. Only an examination of the differences and the reasons behind them is possible. 5
Works Cited Abbott, Megan E. ““Nothing You Can’t Fix”: Screening Marlowe’s Masculinity.” Studies in the Novel 35.3 (2003): 305-325. Academic Search Premier. 15 March 2007. <http://search.ebscohost.com>. Athanasourelis, John Paul. “Film Adaptation and The Censors: 1940s Hollywood and Raymond Chandler.” Studies in the Novel 35.3 (2003): 325-338. Academic Search Premier. 15 March 2007. <http://search. ebscohost.com>. The Big Sleep. Dir. Howard Hawks. Screenplay by William Faulkner, Leigh Brackett, & Jules Furthman. 1946. DVD. Warner, 2000. Perf. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Adapted from The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. Chandler, Raymond. The Big Sleep. 1939. New York: Vintage Books, 1992. “The Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 (Hays Code).” Arts Reformation. 12 April 2006. Ed. Matt Bynum. 19 March 2007. <http://www.artsreformation.com/a001/hays-code.html>. Simpson, Hassell A. ““So Long, Beautiful Hunk”: Ambiguous Gender and Songs of Parting in Raymond Chandler’s Fictions.” Journal of Popular Culture 28.2 (1994): 37-48. Academic Search Premier. 11 April 2007. <http://search.ebscohost.com>.
Oil Nationalization, Mohammed Mossadegh, and the CIA: A Study in Firsts Lauren Jackson ‘08
The end of World War II signified the beginning of a bold new era in international affairs. The once-
fledgling United States ascended to power as the traditional stalwart nations of Europe were left decimated in the wake of Hitler’s grandiose ambitions—an ascendancy matched only in might by the austere Soviet Union. New lines had been drawn, demarcated by mushroom clouds and firebombs, and a brave new world emerged from the fog of war. In this post-World War era, the once-proud German nation was splintered, Israel bloomed in place of Palestine, and shrewd eyes everywhere turned once more to the Middle East, as oil became the lifeblood of the mechanized first world and states such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Iran gained prominence because of the resources—and profits—that they could offer. Oil interests in Iran, however, proved to be the most problematic in the decade immediately following World War II, instigating a conflict between the former land of Persia and the monolith of the West, the United States. The enmity and discord that defines the relationship between the United States and Iran seems particularly incongruous to Americans who cannot comprehend why anti-Americanism has become so fervent in the Iranian state and throughout the rest of the Middle East. In the aftermath of 9/11, the idea of putting US-Iranian relations in a historical context has become particularly appealing, especially after President Bush named Iran as part of the nefarious “Axis of Evil” in his 2002 State of the Union Address. However, in order to fully understand the implications of American involvement in Iranian affairs, one must consider the American decision making process as a definite product of the global political environment of the 1950s, in particular, the threat of the Cold War specter of Communism, and the extent to which the Eisenhower Administration would act in order to prevent Soviet advances. In the face of massive oil profits and protective Cold War mentality, the country of Iran and the government of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh became the first victims of the CIA’s penchant for covert operations—a coup d’état that still has lasting ramifications in modern day US-Iranian affairs. Mohammed Mossadegh assumed power during a transitional period in Iranian history. He was born to “arguably the most prominent Iranian political family of the past century,” and these familial connections allowed him to start his political career while “still in his teens,” serving in “positions associated with the ministry of finance” in the provincial regions of Iran (Bill 53). Mossadegh also spent time in Europe around the turn of the century, studying law in France and Switzerland, eventually earning a doctorate in the subject before his return to Iran in 1920 to become a provincial governor (Bill 53). 7
Mossadegh earned prominence as a minority politician for his opposition views. As a member of the Fifth and Sixth majiles—the Iranian parliament—Mossadegh “spoke out and voted” against “Reza Khan’s accession to power as the first Pahlavi Shah,” thus establishing him as an enemy of the Pahlavi family (Bill 54). Under the rule of Reza Shah, Mossadegh was “frozen out of politics” and even thrown in jail “for political reasons” (Bill 54). The Allies forced the Shah’s abdication in 1941 in favor of his son, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who ascended the Peacock Throne with Western blessings (Kemp 19). Soon afterward, Mossadegh “began his second and stormiest political career,” once again establishing himself in opposition to the Shah after being elected to the Fourteenth Majiles. His speeches against the Shah brought him “national recognition” as he “bluntly condemned…the tyranny of Reza Shah” and “praised the democratic form of government,” along with making the first steps towards the prevention of “the granting of further oil concessions” on behalf of the Iranian people (Bill 54). These actions led to the “unanimous recommendation” of Mossadegh as prime minister by the majiles on April 28, 1951 (Iran’s Foreign Policy 1941-1973 197). His appointment was “unanimously approved” on April 30, and the Shah “promulgated it as law of the land on May 1, 1951” (Iran’s Foreign Policy 1941-1973 197). Mossadegh gained international notoriety as Iranian nationalist sentiment soared. His strong stance against British intrusions and his efforts to reclaim some portion of the revenue garnered from the sale and procurement of Iranian oil for the Iranian people earned him the favor of his people. He was the first to “effectively challenge” the “Anglo-Iranian oil agreements” that had served as a major point of contention for the Iranian people since their adoption (Andersen, Seibert, and Wagner 252). Mossadegh’s move to nationalize the Iranian oil infrastructure, thereby removing from the British “monopolization” that it had been under for “half a century,” helped make him a nationalist hero among the Iranian people who believed that the British “had exploited Iran’s natural wealth to [its] own advantage” (Parsons 72). Hostility between Iran and Great Britain over the extensive revenue generated from the sale of Iranian oil had been intense since Britain first inserted itself into Iranian territory. The British had long been unwanted guests on Iranian soil, having “dominated Iran from the early 19th century” up into modern times (Parsons 71). Known as “the aged wolf of Imperialism,” the Iranians clearly resented the British intrusions in their country and the disproportionate share of oil revenue that the British had taken for decades (Parsons 71). For Mossadegh and for many other Iranians, the British were “a nation of satanically clever and shrewd maneuverers” who manipulated those with lesser power and influence by “secretly planting seeds of decay and impotence” while “act[ing] to bring power and prosperity to the British Isles” (Bill 64). 8
After oil was discovered in the southwestern provinces of Iran in 1908, the British established the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, later the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, which began operation in 1909. In May 1914, the “British government” gained a controlling interest in Iranian oil development, “acquir[ing] 51 percent ownership of the company” and becoming “a direct partner” in “running [its] affairs” (Bill 57). Under the initial provisions established between the British and Iranian governments, Iran would only receive “16 percent of the company’s net profits,” which ultimately proved to be a pittance next to the great sums that Great Britain was accruing (Bill 59-60). Dissatisfaction over this agreement led to negotiations in 1933 between British representatives and Reza Shah in which the Shah was able to procure “a modest improvement in terms of revenues per ton received,” along with the promise that “more Iranians” would be allowed “supervisory and technical positions,” in exchange for “exempt[ion] for all taxes other than those provided in the original concession” and an extension of the original oil rights concession for another sixty years (Bill 60). This new agreement did little to staunch the resentment between Iran and Great Britain, particularly among the nationalist movement. The Shah’s agreement “became the target of Iranian nationalist ire” and was “heavily criticized” for achieving little of its initial intent (Bill 61). During this time, similar governmentcontrolled oil operations in the “Third World” were “attempt[ing] to gain greater control over their natural resources” (Bill 60). Precedents set by the Venezuelan government in “the early 1940s,” which ultimately led to “a revolutionary new fifty-fifty agreement” in 1948, along with a similar agreement for “fifty-fifty division of profits” reached in by the Arabian American Oil Company in Saudi Arabia in 1950 galvanized the Iranian nationalist movement to seek “control over and profit[s] from valuable natural resources” (Bill 61). In 1950, the Sixteenth Majiles took its initial steps towards nationalizing Iranian oil. A “special oil commission” was assembled on June 26, 1950, which included Mossadegh, who was later elected chairman, along with other members of the National Front, Mossadegh’s nationalist political party (Ramazani 189). Sentiments soon arose within the National Front, which culminated in Mossadegh’s speech before the commission, “demanding ‘that the oil industry of Iran be declared as nationalized throughout all parts of the country without exception’,” with the specific intent to improve the quality of life for Iranian citizens through enhanced oil revenues (Ramazani 192). The National Front believed in the “political necessity of nationalization” and “did not mind seeing Iranian oil stay in the ground if it had to as the result of nationalization” as a result of these decisions, because they believed that “no nation could overlook [Iran’s] sovereign right” to do so (Ramazani 194). On March 15, 1951, after a few turbulent months of internal political upheaval and strife, “the Majiles as a whole approved the oil commission’s recommendation for 9
nationalization,” and the “principle of nationalization” was “approved unanimously” by the Senate five days later, precluding Mossadegh’s own appointment as Prime Minister (Ramazani 197). Great Britain immediately sent diplomats to attempt to find another recourse around this show of defiance by the Iranians. Though “Britain responded with threats and sanctions,” Mossadegh “refused to back down” from the hard-fought nationalist stance (Risen). Britain was incensed over Mossadegh’s defiance and “sued the purchasers of Iranian oil,” as well as “impos[ing] an economic blockade” on the country in an attempt to subdue “Iranian self-determination” (The United States and Iran: Patterns of Influence 16). After a few haphazard attempts at negotiation, the British government commenced “military preparations” that could have “perhaps” been for the “purpose of protecting British lives,” but was most likely “a show of force” (Ramazani 205). Though no military conflict between British and Iranian forces was ever engaged, tensions continued to mount until Mossadegh eventually announced that Iran was severing all diplomatic ties with Great Britain on October 22, 1952 (Ramazani 230). The United States as a major world power and traditional British ally was not blind to the daily turmoil that Mossadegh’s daring actions had wrought. Initially, the United States under President Harry Truman “recognized the Iranian right to nationalize” and attempted to broker negotiations between Iran and the United Kingdom (Bill 75). Secretary of State Dean Acheson pushed the Truman Administration’s policy, which was “to try to placate the British” while “trying to convince Mossadegh to agree on a compromise” (Bill 75). The United States also helped dissuade Britain from “unwarranted” military intervention by adamantly asserting its “strong opposition” to that recourse (Bill 75). While American diplomats attempted to intercede on Mossadegh’s behalf, Truman developed some “concern” over the “contagious nature of the nationalization act in Iran” and began to worry about the constancy of its own oil holdings in the Middle East (Bill 78). However, it was only as “the oil crisis dragged on” through 1952 while “politics in Iran became increasingly stormy and the British applied diplomatic pressure” did the United States begin to “shift its position” on the matter (Bill 79). The British had been imploring the Americans to assist in covert action against the Mossadegh since very early on, but the “officials at higher-level policy positions” within the United States government “did not entertain such ideas until 1953” (Bill 79). Eventually, the United States “gradually came around” to Britain’s proposal that “the best way to confront the situation” necessitated “actively seek[ing] the overthrow of the Mossadegh government” and then working “to assure its replacement with a regime more amenable to compromise” (Bill 79).
The American stance on the Iranian crisis changed for a number of reasons. United States diplomats
were “concerned about the accessibility” of the “rich Iranian oil reserves” to “the Western world,” particularly to the United States, after Mossadegh’s nationalization process became finalized (Bill 79). Iranian oil had long been a concern of the United States government, which had internally “decr[ied] Britain’s control” over the oil supply and at one point in 1943, had begun drafting language about the possibility of requesting “one-third of” Britain’s “oil interests in Iran” specifically “as compensation for American contributions to the war effort” (Bill 80). Though the United States never made any blatant overtures towards cornering a share of the Iranian oil market, it was evident that “the United States clearly had an interest in gaining entry to the Iranian oil business” (Bill 81).
More importantly, after some careful persuasion by the British and some diplomatic missteps by
Mossadegh himself, the United States began to grow seriously concerned about the possibility of Soviet expansion into Iran. Though Mossadegh was named Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1951 for “defying the great powers by nationalizing Iran’s oil supply,” as Cold War mentality began to prevail in Washington, American politicians became wary of the nationalization trend in Third World countries that essentially was seen as an abettor of Communist expansion (Bowden 117). The post-war world had recently undergone a number of changes which enticed the United States government to become “increasingly obsessed with the challenge of communism,” and events such as the communist takeover in China along with the shrill histrionics of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch hunts fostered an environment where “hysterical threats of communist infiltration were in the ascendancy” (Bill 80). Indeed, the inability of “American policymakers” to “distinguish nationalist movements from communist movements in the Third World” has been well documented, a failing that would eventually lead the United States into war with Vietnam (Bill 80).
In an unfortunate turn, it was Mossadegh himself who unwittingly fueled the American belief in the
imminence of Iran’s descent into communism. Mossadegh championed a theory of international relations that he called “negative equilibrium,” which was meant to “balance the influence of two contending powers by denying both of them excessive privileges,” essentially, “refusing to favor one side over the other” (Hunter 23). Some theorists posit that Mossadegh intended the idea of negative equilibrium to “develo[p] a neutral position” worldwide, perhaps “on the model of Switzerland” (Hunter 23). Negative equilibrium proved to be a dangerous undertaking for Mossadegh because in order to deny the United States and the Western powers influence over Iranian resources, he had to make advances to the Soviet Union. This was also particularly worrisome, as the
Soviet Union “had made little secret their designs on Iranian oil” (Roraback 59). Though “no one considered [Mossadegh] a communist himself,” his entreaties to the communist Tudeh Party “might pave the way for a proSoviet regime in Iran” (Rubin 107).
As the conflict grew, positive opinions of Mossadegh, both at home and abroad, began to wane. Western
officials already had a low opinion of the Iranian Premier, who was “prone to tears and outbursts” during negotiations, and was viewed as melodramatic and weak (Risen). Mossadegh is regarded as one of “the least understood political figures in this century,” condemned for his “physical characteristics” and his “manner of speech” rather than for his politics (Bill 54-55). His penchant for holding “cabinet meetings while propped up in bed by three pillows” and being “nourished by transfusions of American blood plasma,” all the while adorned in his “favored pink pajamas” and a “fawn colored jacket” helped create the Western perception of Mossadegh as a man not to be taken seriously (Bill 55). In spite of these eccentricities, Mossadegh was initially beloved by his people; however, as the “oil nationalization dispute with Britain continued,” he “increasingly lost support” among his power bases, most notably the “nationalist and religious forces” while gaining the dubious support of the Tudeh Party (The United States and Iran: Patterns of Influence 15).
All of these factors worked in concert to ultimately influence American intervention in Iran. Though
the Truman Administration “favored a more subtle approach,” CIA and their British “counterparts” in MI6 had begun “planning a military coup d’etat to depose Mossadegh” and “install a pro-Western regime more to the liking of the Shah” by November 1952 (Little 665). The CIA soon concluded that because of Mossadegh’s weakness in finding an adequate solution to the oil crisis, coupled with the “real and imminent” threat of “Iran falling behind the Iron Curtain, no remedial action other than covert action…could be found to improve the existing state of affairs” (The Secret CIA History of the Iran Coup, 1953). Thus, plans to overthrow the Mossadegh government were already being established by the time that Dwight Eisenhower took office in 1953 (Little 665).
The change of command in the Oval Office hastened the advancement and development of the covert
plot against Mossadegh. Eisenhower and his Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles, were the decision-makers who ultimately “decided to intervene” in Iran (Bill 85). Kermit “Kim” Roosevelt, a grandson of former president Theodore Roosevelt and head of CIA operations in the Middle East, was named “field commander of the American intervention” and was essentially the catalyst for its success (Bill 85). Though Roosevelt “spoke no Middle Eastern language himself,” he was considered to be a “very successful professional” and was able to insert himself into the societies that he studied, making contacts at “parties in elegant Middle Eastern homes” 12
(Bill 89). It was Roosevelt who “incorporated elements of the scheme” that was “previously discussed with the MI6” into “a unilateral American covert action” (Little 665).
Under Roosevelt, the elements of the plan solidified. The scheme was code named “Operation Ajax”
and had the express intent of “caus[ing] the fall of the Mossadegh government” enabling the “replacement” of that leadership with a “military regime” which would “reach an equitable oil settlement, allowing Iran to become economically sound and financially solvent,” and most importantly, “would vigorously prosecute the dangerously strong Communist party” (Little 665). Roosevelt snuck into Iran on July 6, 1953 using a pseudonym and, “in hiding, orchestrated the countercoup that overthrew Mossadegh and replaced him with the Shah” (Bill 90). Because Mossadegh had done much to stifle the powers of the Shah, the cooperation of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was seen as a vital component of the CIA’s plan. In order to accomplish this, Roosevelt “preyed upon Pahlavi’s vanity and royal presumption” by offering him the “full power” that had been taken from him by Mossadegh in what would become “America’s client state” (Bowden 118). Pahlavi was to “issue a royal decree” announcing the replacement of Mossadegh with a “right wing general,” thus undermining Mossadegh’s power while the CIA “dispensed several hundred thousand dollars to organize mass demonstrations supporting the change” (Little 665-666). However, Pahlavi was a weak and vacillating man and his lack of fortitude nearly caused the failure of Roosevelt’s vigilantly planned operation.
The carefully laid plans of the CIA were nearly disrupted when existence of the coup was revealed to
Mossadegh. As per the scheme, Pahlavi had a messenger deliver a “political eviction notice” to Mossadegh; however, Mossadegh refused to capitulate and had the messenger “arrested on the spot” (Bill 91). When word of Mossadegh’s defiance reached the Shah, he “made a hasty flight out of the country on August 16, 1953” (Bill 91). Despite this initial setback, Roosevelt decided to persevere with the plan and commenced a propaganda attack to offset the news being broadcast throughout Tehran that “a coup against the government had failed” (Risen). Because the Shah had fled, it also seemed unlikely that Roosevelt would be able to assert the proper level of legality for the CIA’s actions. Luckily, the Shah agreed to make a radio address from Baghdad on August 17, which helped quell the pro-Mossadegh forces with a dramatic charge from the royalists loyal to Pahlavi (Risen).
The final stages of Operation Ajax were undertaken as a last-ditch effort on August 19, 1953. Many CIA
operatives stationed in Tehran had already given up on a successful conclusion to Operation Ajax and had been questioning whether or not “they should continue with TP-Ajax or withdraw” (Risen). Roosevelt, however, was 13
still convinced of the possibility of success. On August 19, pro-Shah rioting, led by Roosevelt’s “paid mobs” and “royalist military officers,” catalyzed south Tehran (Bill 91). After “much street fighting,” Mossadegh was eventually ”forced to flee his residence” and was “arrested soon after” (Bill 91). After the apprehension of Mossadegh, the Shah “flew back to Iran in triumph” on August 22 (Bill 91). After his return, Pahlavi “offered a midnight toast to Kermit Roosevelt,” saying “’I owe my throne to god, my people, my army—and to you’,” (Little 666).
The Shah immediately regained control of Iran upon his arrival, as members of Mossadegh’s
administration were rounded up under his control. The remainder of Mossadegh’s National Front were “jailed but later released” by the Shah, yet these political dissidents were still subject to “harassment and political pressure” from the Shah’s loyalists for years (Bill 100). Mossadegh himself was placed on trial in November and December of 1953—a forty day affair which would ultimately become his “last public political appearance” (Bill 100). The “premier performance” that Mossadegh gave during the trial helped to “provide inspiration for Iranian nationalists for years afterwards” (Bill 100-101). He used the event as a pulpit from which he “defended his political actions, condemned the Shah’s rule, criticized…British and American imperialism, and praised democratic values” (Bill 100-101). Despite his eloquence, he was “given a three-year jail sentence” and spent the “last decade of his life under house arrest” in his native village (Bill 101).
Operation Ajax proved to be a groundbreaking enterprise for the CIA, one that helped create its
mystique for years to come. Ajax, which became one of the CIA’s “most celebrated covert actions,” was the “first successful US covert effort to destabilize and overthrow a legitimate popular government in the postwar period,” a paradigm of success which eventually became “a model for covert operations that followed” (Little 664; Stork 233). From this auspicious beginning, the CIA would later go on to topple government through covert action “from Cuba and Guatemala to Indonesia and Iran” (Little 664). During the remainder of the Cold War, Operation Ajax would continue to serve as an example as the CIA “waged what amounted to undeclared political warfare…to prevent Soviet subversion and promote American interests (Little 664).
A stronger legacy, however, was the one left in the hearts and minds of the Iranian people after the
success of Operation Ajax. Before the CIA’s intrusion in the Mossadegh affair, “most Iranians” believed that the United States was “a benevolent, non-exploitative power” which would be wont to “support…struggling nations” because of “its own history of anti-colonialist struggle” (Hunter 48). Before Kermit Roosevelt and PR-Ajax, the Iranians “romanticized” perception of the United States depicted the country as “the favorite counterweight to Anglo-Russian involvement” and as “a potential source of assistance” (Hunter 48). The fall 14
of Mossadegh marked a genuine shift in Iranian opinions about the United States and the “end of American innocence” in that country (Hunter 50). The success of Operation Ajax has been termed “the Original Sin” of US-Iranian relations and is considered to be the start of “the rise of Iranian resentment” (Hunter 50).
When placed in its proper historical context, the reasoning behind the intense anti-Americanism
prevalent in Iran becomes logical. The United States was seen as the enabler of the Shah’s rule—a regime that proved to be terribly oppressive and detrimental to the people of Iran. Animosity fostered under the Shah’s tyrannical thumb ultimately boiled over in the 1979 Iranian revolution, which installed a strict Islamic republic in place of the formerly secular rule. The importance of Operation Ajax to the Iranian people also cannot be underestimated; the power of the CIA became near legend—something to be reviled and feared—a hatred of “the Great Satan” which is still particularly virulent even today. This intense disequilibrium was excellently illustrated by author Douglas Little, who recounted his own experience with the lingering aftereffects of the CIA’s grand Iranian adventure in 2003. He met with a group of Arab university students who were summering in the United States in an “attempt to foster better relations between America and the Muslim world” (Little 663). The conversation eventually turned to the September 11 attacks, and Little says that he was “stunned” when he realized that his “listeners” were “insist[ing]” that “the destruction of the World Trade Center” was the result of “an elaborate CIA plot” (Little 664). Little was aghast, about to “dismiss” this assertion as “the worst sort of paranoid claptrap populated by the lunatic fringe” when something happened that ultimately changed his mind and made him “truly appreciate what a long shadow the CIA has cast across the Middle East”—a student asked if he had ever heard of Mohammed Mossadegh, and that was all that needed to be said (Little 664).
Works Cited Andersen, Roy R., Robert F. Seibert, and Jon G. Wagner. Politics and Change in the Middle East: Sources of Conflict and Accommodation. New Jersey: Pearson, 2007. Bill, James A. The Eagle and the Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988. Bowden, Mark. Guests of the Ayatollah. New York: Atlantic Monthly, 2006. Hunter, Shireen T. Iran and the World: Continuity in a Revolutionary Decade. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990. Kemp, Geoffrey. Forever Enemies? American Foreign Policy and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment, 1994. Little, Douglas. “Mission Impossible: The CIA and the Cult of Covert Action in the Middle East.” Diplomatic History 28 (Nov 2004): 28. EBSCOHost. CHC Lib., Philadelphia, PA, 18 Mar 2007. <http://www. search.ebscohost.com>. Parsons, Anthony. “Iran and Western Europe.” Iran’s Revolution: The Search for Consensus. Ed. R.K. Ramazani. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990. 69-84. Ramazani, Rouhollah K. Iran’s Foreign Policy 1941-1973: A Study of Foreign Policy in Modernizing Nations. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1975. The United States and Iran: The Patterns of Influence. New York: Praeger, 1982. Risen, James. “Secrets of History: The CIA in Iran.” New York Times. (2000). <http://www.nytimes.com/ library/world/mideast/041600iran-cia-index.html> . Roraback, Amanda. Iran in a Nutshell. Santa Monica: Enisen, 2006. Rubin, Barry. “Lessons from Iran.” Washington Quarterly 26 (Summer 2003): 105-115. EBSCOHost. CHC Lib., Philadelphia, PA, 18 Mar 2007. <http://www.search.ebscohost.com>. Stork, Joe. “Iran 1953.” The Nation 257 (1993): 233. EBSCOHost. CHC Lib., Philadelphia, PA, 18 Mar 2007. <http://www.search.ebscohost.com >. “The Secret CIA History of the Iran Coup, 1953.” National Security Archive Briefing Book No. 28. 29 Nov 2000. Ed. Malcolm Byrne. 18 Mar 2007. <http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB28/index. html>.
The Cemetery as a Setting For Crisis Jane Ziff ‘08
Both Great Expectations, Charles Dickens’ bildungsroman about social status, and Written on the Body,
Jeanette Winterson’s androgynous meditation on love, contain seemingly minor but deeply symbolic scenes in which the narrator takes a lonely walk through a cemetery. At first glance, these scenes appear to have little in common (for instance, Dickens’ is at the beginning of the book and portrays a child, Winterson’s is toward the end and features an adult), but each embodies the central struggles of their protagonists—searching for identity and surviving the end of a romance, respectively. Although cemeteries can be peaceful places to commemorate deceased people and contemplate the transience of human life, Dickens’ and Winterson’s cemetery scenes are mostly shrouded in the uncertainty and fear that their narrators are experiencing.
Great Expectations opens with young Philip “Pip” Pirrip stealing away from home to look at the graves
of his parents and all but one sibling, a poignant moment that likely foreshadows Pip’s struggle to determine who he really is and where his place in the world lies. He reveals that he has never seen a picture of his dead family members, and the only mental images he has of his parents appear when he looks at their tombstones. His image of his five dead brothers is even more hazy; he is unable to imagine them alive and pictures them as if “they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and [I] had never taken them out of this state of existence” (Dickens 1). Pip would not even have evidence of his last name without the family plot in this churchyard; he can only “give Pirrip as my father’s family name, on the authority of his tombstone” (Dickens 1). As Great Expectations proceeds and Pip grows older, he will have a difficult time grappling with circumstances thrust on him with little explanation, and the question of who he actually is will take a long time to solve. These conflicts seem to be foreshadowed in this scene, with Pip’s ignorance of his background and unclear idea of how he came to be.
Pip’s solitude is interrupted when a terrifying, mysterious man with a chain attached to his leg emerges
from within the graveyard; this encounter epitomizes Pip’s mistreatment at the hands of adults, which will ultimately play a role in forming the insecure, self-centered person he becomes when he grows up. As Pip puts it, the convict “took me by both arms, and tilted me back as far as he could hold me; so that his eyes looked most powerfully down into mine, and mine looked most helplessly up into his” (Dickens 3-4). In the interrogation that follows, the convict “tilted me over a little more, so as to give me a greater sense of helplessness and danger” (Dickens 4), flips Pip upside down, and threatens him with violence. But the convict, 17
as Pip will later reveal, is only one of many adults who manhandle and verbally abuse the orphan. From his much-older sister who prides herself on administering corporal punishment—Pip wryly notes immediately after the cemetery scene, in her introduction, that she has “a hard and heavy hand, and [was] much in the habit of laying it…upon me” (Dickens 6)—to the neighbors who patronize him and make him feel like a burden, the adult world has rendered him to “a small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry” (Dickens 2) even before he meets the convict.
Unlike Pip’s trip to the churchyard, Winterson’s narrator’s walk through the cemetery is not for visiting
any headstone in particular, but rather for focusing on a still-living person: former girlfriend Louise Rosenthal, who has not been in the narrator’s life since she was diagnosed with leukemia. The narrator originally believed that severing ties with Louise was the better course of action so that Louise’s ex-husband, a doctor, could treat her, but is having second thoughts at the time of the cemetery walk. The narrator is not interrupted in his or her meditation the way Pip is, but the memory of Louise haunts the scene in such a way that the narrator is not really alone, even though she is not explicitly mentioned by name. The death and decay of the cemetery stand in for the end of the affair. For instance, the narrator is dismayed thinking about the embalming process and how it must feel to hand over a loved one’s remains: “What would you do? Pass the body into the hands of strangers? The body that has lain beside you in sickness and health. The body your arms still long for dead or not… passing into the hands of strangers” (Winterson 178). This seems to reflect the narrator’s distrust of Louise’s exhusband, and guilt at leaving Louise to struggle alone.
The narrator’s crippling doubt over whether leaving Louise was the right thing to do, which is at the
heart and soul of much of the book, is not alluded to directly in the cemetery scene but may be hidden in the details. “There’s something macabre about making your own coffin,” the narrator remarks. “You can buy boat kits, house kits, garden furniture kits, but not coffin kits” (Winterson 176). Going beneath the surface, this line may evoke the metaphor of digging one’s own grave, a cliché that the narrator mentions later: “Very often in the nineteenth century a grave-digger would die of the damp. Digging your own grave wasn’t a figure of speech then” (Winterson 177). These references to a self-destructive action also apply to the narrator’s decision to stop seeing Louise. Observing flowers placed on graves, the narrator comments on how the most recently dead have the nicest tributes: “The funeral here today is banked with flowers; pale lilies, white roses and branches of weeping willow. It always starts well and then gives way to apathy and plastic tulips in a milkbottle” (Winterson 176-177). Much of the narrator’s agony throughout the novel is the result of love’s stagnation, and of questions about whether, or why, it is inevitable for love to cause pain. Louise’s cancer aside, even an affair as fiery as 18
theirs might have faded in enough time. An additional manifestation of the narrator’s guilt may be coded in one of a few references to worms—immediately after the cemetery scene, the narrator refers to “the worm of doubt [that] has…found a home in my intestines. I no longer know what to trust or who is right” (Winterson 179).
Pip and Written on the Body’s narrator both experience profoundly telling, yet barely perceptible and
incomplete, moments during their walks through the cemetery. For Pip, the scene foreshadows the goals he will strive for later in life, to find his own identity despite the abuse he endures from adults who disregard him; and for Winterson’s narrator, the walk is a symbolic reminder of the love affair with Louise, of what he or she has done and may always regret. In both scenes, the journeys and epiphanies at the heart of the books are coded but very present.
Works Cited Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. New York: Scholastic Classics, 2002. Winterson, Jeanette. Written on the Body. New York: Vintage International, 1992.
The Life of Dorothea Dix￼ Patricia Popelak ‘10
Biographical and autobiographical details of the life of Dorothea Dix, including a consideration of her own alleged mental illness, is discussed in an effort to examine the outcome of her crusade of American asylums. Dix ultimately expanded the number of mental hospitals from eighteen to 139 over the course of twenty years. While some argue this outcome caused the downfall of moral treatment, there is evidence that suggests a positive aspect. Given her gender and the social constraints of the time, Dix raised a tremendous amount of awareness about the treatment of the mentally ill through her own rigorous investigations.
In an attempt to comprehend and analyze the work of Dorothea Dix, it is important to examine her life
prior to such a discussion. Dorothea Dix was born in Maine in 1802 (Parry 624). Due to her father’s frequent traveling to spread his ministry work and her mother’s “trouble spells,” Dix soon became a mother-figure for her two younger siblings (Wilson 29). It has been proposed that, at times, she was neglected by her parents, thus leading to feeling of depression (Parry 624). This may have contributed to her empathy towards others as well, which ultimately shaped Dix’s career. Dix soon left her immediate family to live in Boston with her wealthy grandmother at the age of twelve (Parry 624). In doing so, Dix received a more formal education which enabled her to become a schoolteacher (Parry 624). At this time, the most reputable occupation for women, and nearly the only one available to them, was, in fact, teaching.
It was in teaching that Dorothea Dix acquired the work ethic which were later attributed to her reform
efforts in the American asylums. She convinced her grandmother to allow her to establish a school at her estate, the Dix Mansion (Wilson 48). This proposal proved to be a satisfactory alternative to public schooling for many young pupils (Wilson 47). At the time, public schooling in Boston was restricted to those children who exemplified literacy proficiency prior to acceptance. In addition, young girls were permitted to attend only during months when the numbers of boys in attendance declined, from April to October (Wilson 47). During this time, Dix’s school, as well as her own inspiration, flourished. Dix became influenced by the prominent and controversial speaker of the Federal Street Church, William Ellery Channing. Dix was enthralled with his emphasis on the “fatherhood of God” and incorporated this into her own spiritual beliefs (Wilson 49). Channing advocated the notion “of a loving rather than an avenging deity” (Wilson 44). In the words of Channing, “‘Creation is but a field spread before him [the Christian] for an infinitely varied display of love’” (Wilson 51). Through this new understanding, Dix advocated for equal schooling opportunities for 21
the impoverished of those living in her society. Thus, she opened another school on the Dix estate, known as “The Hope,” to teach those children who did not have the financial support to attend private, or “dame,” schools (Wilson 49). In addition, these pupils were enabled to attend school at a time when most would have been rejected from public schools due to the requirement of literacy proficiency (Wilson 51).
With the establishment of these two schools, Dorothea Dix was constantly working. However, she
considered teaching to be a chance to increase not only her students’ knowledge, but hers also (Wilson 54). In this manner, Dix began to write a collection of expansive topics, varying from “time, clocks, manufacturing, architecture …and a hundred other subjects” that interested her students, thus forming a book entitled “Conversations on Common Things” (Wilson 55). In addition, Manon Parry, a writer of the American Journal of Public Health, notes that, “Written in the style of a conversation between a mother and a daughter, and directed at the young women who dominated the teaching profession, the book reflected Dix’s belief that women should be educated to the same level as men” (624). This book, which was, in essence, an encyclopedia and later renamed a “Book of Knowledge,” was published in 1824 and was “treated with exhaustive and scholarly detail” (Wilson 55). Dix’s extensive devotion to her work led her to cancel her secret engagement to her cousin, Edward Bangs. Dix was dismayed to find that he had no intention for her to continue her work once they were married (Wilson 56). Dix did not see herself as solely fulfilling a role as wife and mother; rather she may be said to have “married” her work.
The constant focus on work and the perfection of it left Dorothea Dix in an unhealthy condition.
However, even during the times when she suffered from frequent bouts of illness and was confined to her bed, Dix ceaselessly continued to search for more knowledge (Wilson 55). With these pauses in her teaching career, Dix had the opportunity to meet William Ellery Channing, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson (Parry 624). Emerson, a fellow Bostonian later to become a renowned poet, speaker and essayist, advocated for social reform through the idea of Transcendentalism (Wilson 106). Despite these uplifting visits, in 1836, Dix “began to dwell on the idea of death, and felt overwhelmed by her physical illnesses” (Parry 624). Her physician, along with her prominent friends, persuaded her to travel to Europe for “restorative” purposes (Parry 624). Unfortunately, the sea voyage significantly reduced Dix’s health and optimism toward her recovery (Wilson 79). However, at the
destination of her voyage, she gratefully came into the household of William Rothbone II, both a Whig reformer and a politician (Gollaher 152). 22
Dorothea Dix’s stay in Liverpool proved to be an almost curative treatment for her illness and further
provided her with an opportunity to observe the meanings which would later serve as a basis for her crusade of American insane asylums. In fact, David Gollaher, a writer for the Canadian Review of American Studies, notes:
This was the turning point in her life. For the circumstances of her recovery furnish clues that not only help explain her personal interest in insanity and its cure, but also clarify both the form and meaning of the Massachusetts Memorial1 and her strongest convictions about social welfare (153).
Dix’s condition has been described as “an affliction of deeply religious overtones” (Gollaher 153). Indeed, her pursuit of perfection was intellectual as well as spiritual (Gollaher 153). However, the treatment Dix received, which emphasized healing of the mind and soul in addition to the body, empowered her to continue her writing as a therapeutic means, and in essence allowed her to receive moral treatment (Wilson 82). Dix soon found herself partaking in intellectually stimulating conversations with members of the Rothbone family (Wilson 82). Among those included in the Rothbone family was William Rothbone’s grandfather, William Tuke (Gollaher 153). William Tuke had led many Quakers to establish a new method of treatment towards the mentally ill, which evolved into a method known as “moral treatment” (Whitaker 23). In this way, Dix was introduced to William Tuke’s grandson, Samuel Tuke, who helped maintain the York Retreat, in York, England, founded by his grandfather. In addition, Dix was given the opportunity to meet with a prominent advocate of prison reform, Elizabeth Fry (Parry 624). As a result of these experiences, Dix was exposed to new and impacting beliefs about the mentally ill and their treatments.
Dorothea Dix was disrupted from her stay in Europe in the fall of 1837 (Wilson 86). Upon hearing
the news of her grandmother’s death, Dix returned to America a changed person and almost fully recovered (Gollaher 153). Gollaher notes that in her return to America, Dix “shifted from the reassuring, sentimental, feminine voice of a Victorian woman writer to the unexpected, unfamiliar, masculine voice of the British lunacy reform” (157). After the course of three years, Dix began to apply her recently attained knowledge about mental illness to the American insane asylums (Gollaher 154). Prior to this, she took up her former profession of teaching. This time, Dix taught female convicts in East Cambridge Jail (Parry 625). Through this experience, Dix recognized the unjust and inhumane practices established in the country’s prisons, which led her to delve into the treatment of the mentally ill in Boston (Parry 624). 1 The Massachusetts Memorial, written by Dorothea Dix in 1843, was a presentation of the poor and inhumane conditions she found in insane asylums and alms-houses throughout Boston. In this manner, Dix appealed to the Legislature of Massachusetts to not only acknowledge these problems, but move toward action. Manon Parry notes that, “Dix was able to use her vivid and upsetting descriptions to powerful effect, damning the existence of these abuses and shaming political leaders into taking action on her behalf, and on the behalf on the ‘inmates’ of these institutions” (625).
At the time Dix returned to America, the country had been practicing moral treatment for some time, with one major difference from its European cousin. Rather than appointing lay superintendents, Americans placed physicians in charge of “administering” moral treatment (Whitaker 27). Despite this, American moral treatment did reflect many beliefs and customs of the Quaker reformers.
Dorothea Dix sought to expand this moral treatment to all classes of society, including those in poverty
and prisons. In doing so, she visited every prison, workhouse, jail, and almshouse in Massachusetts by the end of 1842. In the following year, she delivered her Memorial to the Legislature of Massachusetts (Parry 625). In this, she reported her findings of the treatment of the mentally ill in America. Dix provided numerous excerpts from her journal entries about her visitations. For example, she indicated her experience in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she found “a woman in a cage” (Dix 623). She explained the current conditions of mentally ill individuals as “chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience!” (Dix 622). Dix implored the Legislature of Massachusetts to “place ourselves in the situation of some of these poor wretches” in an attempt to bring social reform (Dix 624). It is important to note that this pamphlet, which would be one of the many written by Dorothea Dix, was the only method available at the time for women to express themselves in political means (Parry 625). As Manon Parry notes, “This memorial reveals how Dix worked within the conventions of her time to carve a role for herself in public life and draw attention to the horrendous treatment of the mentally ill in prisons, almshouses for the poor, and asylums” (625). As a result of her Memorial to the Legislatures of Massachusetts, over the course of twenty years, the number of mental hospitals increased from eighteen to 139 (Whitaker 34). This clearly demonstrates the tremendous changes Dix made in promoting services to assist the mentally ill.
In examining the life and work of Dorothea Dix, one can see the effects she brought to the history of
mental illness in America. However there are various viewpoints that both criticize and support the intentions and outcomes of her work that exist. As Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America, notes, “Ironically, Dix’s successful lobbying was the catalyst for the downfall of moral treatment” (34). In Whitaker’s viewpoint, the enlargement of asylums decreased the opportunity to fully practice the ideals of moral treatment (34). On the other hand, Whitaker does identify Dix as a “tireless and brilliant lobbyist” (34). In addition, Manson Parry noted, “Her tireless work and dramatic testimonials highlighted the appalling conditions in existing flag institutions and promoted the inherent value of compassionate care” (624). Dorothy Clarke Wilson, author of Stranger and Traveler, appealed to her audience to recognize Dorothea Dix as “the patron saint of the helpless” (308). 24
While Dorothea Dix’s work ultimately expanded the number of mental institutions, thus inadvertently
altering the practice of moral treatment, she advocated reform for those members of society without a voice. To discover the true of effect of Dix’s work, one need only to look at Dorothea Dix herself. Dorothy Clarke Wilson indicates that Dix admitted to the negative aspects of her reform movements of the American asylums. Dix agonized “seeing so much of her previous work in retrogression if not in ruins…and, worst of all, a return to some of the old horrors of purges, straightjackets, dungeons” (Wilson 315). Despite this, Dix continued to labor “trying to correct such evils” (Wilson 315). Perhaps rather than scrutinize the heroic efforts of Dorothea Dix, one should face the challenge she left us with: “Raise up the fallen; succor the desolate: restore the outcast; defend the helpless; and for your eternal and great reward, receive the benediction…Well done, good and faithful servants, become rulers over many things!” (Dix 624).
Works Cited Dix, Dorothea. “”I Tell What I Have Seen”- The Reports of Asylum Reformer Dorothea Dix .” American Journal of Public Health 96. 4Apr 2006 622-624. Feb 13 2007 <http://www.ebscohost.com>. Gollaher, David L.. “Dorothea Dix and the English origins of the American asylum movement..” Canadian Review of American Studies 23. 3.Fall 1993 149-176. 12 Feb 2007 <http://www.ebscohost.com>. Parry, Manon. “Dorothea Dix (1802- 1887).” American Journal of Public Health 96. 4Apr 2006 624-625. 10 Feb 2007 <http://www.ebscohost.com>. Whitaker, Robert. Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill. New York: Basic Books, 2002. Wilson, Dorothy Clarke. Stranger and Traveler: the story of Dorothea Dix, American Reformer. Boston: Little Brown, 1975.
Breaking Free: An Unconventional Reading of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” ￼ Tammy Schaaffe ‘10
“The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is an introspective narrative about one woman’s struggle to define and recover from her mental illness in a patriarchal society. The story is narrated by a woman, who has recently given birth and is arguably suffering from what today we might recognize as post-partum depression. She narrates her story through a diary that she is secretly keeping as she undergoes a popular “rest cure” at an asylum that she is told is merely a vacation home. John, a physician and her superior because he is a male, her doctor, and most importantly her husband, only helps to further her illness. By lying to her and telling her she is at a vacation home, not allowing her to care for her newborn baby, do the housework, or have visitors, John treats her as an infant and adds to the restraints by which the narrator is confined. The title of the piece comes from the yellow wall-paper that covers the walls in her room. The wall-paper represents her situation and eventually exacerbates her illness as she sees women like herself in and behind it. The paper is also another constant contribution to, and reminder of, the restraints she feels, and by the end of the story, in an attempt to break free, she decides to completely tear down the very thing that represents her lack of self-control: the wallpaper. The author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, leaves much to be interpreted by the reader, therefore contributing to the many different readings of this story. One popular reading is that the narrator’s illness was becoming increasingly worse and her tearing down the wall-paper was the sign of full mental insanity. However, this paper presents an unconventional reading of the story, one that sees the tearing down of the wall-paper as the woman’s decision to take control of her mental illness and in the process break free from the constraints that have been restricting her. Essentially, the story portrays the idea that insanity might be the only choice for a sane woman in a patriarchal society. One of the greatest contributors to the narrator’s illness and eventual decision to break free is her husband John. Though a caring and loving husband, John represents the patriarchal society which is helping to imprison the narrator. John’s insistence on defining her illness and prescribing her treatment create the greatest tension in the story and eventually lead the woman to tear down the wall-paper, a measure taken in order to prevent being further infantilized. John acts appropriately in the eyes of society, but instead of helping to ameliorate her illness, he inadvertently makes it worse. A doctor of very high standing, John does not take his wife’s illness, or her own understanding of her illness seriously because he does not believe that she is truly ill. He believes that she has “hysteria” and that a period of inactivity and “rest” will cure her, a belief that not 27
only devalues the woman’s condition but also shows the lack of understanding he has about his wife’s illness. However, the narrator herself believes she is ill, expressing this when she writes in her diary that, “John is a physician, and perhaps – (I would not say it to a living soul, of course but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind) – perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster. You see he does not believe that I am sick! And what can one do? If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency – what is one to do?” (Gilman 833). The woman, though believing that she is sick, and frustrated with John’s dismissal of her illness, cannot disagree with him due to the patriarchal society in which she lives. Beverly Hume further explains the woman’s inability to control her own situation by calling the story, “…a woman’s entrapment, defeat and movement towards madness – one caused by patriarchy, that is by obtusely sexist men such as the narrator’s husband John” (Hume 477). This inability to define the extent of her illness and control her situation does not allow the narrator to make progress and greatly contributes to her final decision to take control and break free from both her husband’s and society’s patriarchal perceptions of mental illness. Along with dismissing his wife’s illness, John also prescribes a treatment for her which works only to aggravate her condition further. Believing that she has feminine hysteria, John prescribes the “rest cure,” a treatment which does not allow the narrator to cook, clean, write, have visitors or engage in any activity which might cause her to exert herself. She is merely allowed to lie in bed and sleep or get fresh air. Though John feels that this is the best for her, the narrator does not believe that this will cure her illness or help her to recover faster. She writes, “So I take phosphates or phosphites – whichever it is – and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change would do me good” (Gilman 833). By having to adhere to the rest cure and not being able to work, the woman has essentially lost her identity. The activities that have normally defined the social roles of women, such as doing the housework and caring for her newborn baby are being denied to the narrator. This loss of social identity is hindering her recovery. However, because she is unable to control her own life and situation the way she feels is best, she must obey John and follow the treatment he has prescribed despite the debilitating effects it renders upon her. As an energetic and intelligent woman who is unable to do more than sit in her room and think, the narrator begins to read into the wall-paper, the only “text” which is available to her. She reads into the wallpaper so much that she begins to envision and befriend other women who are in similar situations as herself, in and behind the paper. She says, “I didn’t realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind that dim 28
sub-pattern [in the wall-paper], but now I am quite sure it is a woman” (Gilman 840). The women the narrator sees in the paper serve to help her realize the actual restraints she is trapped by and at one point, the narrator sees one of the women behind the paper trying to escape, “The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out” (Gilman 838). The ‘faint figure’ the narrator sees is a representation of herself and her own longing to be cured of her inability to control both her life and illness. The final realization of her imprisonment comes when the wall-paper turns into prison bars, “At night in any kind of light, in twilight, in candlelight, lamplight and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars!” (Gilman 839-840). It is through these images that the woman finally comes to terms with her own entrapment and decides to tear down the wall-paper and take back control of her life. The point in “The Yellow Wall-paper” when the narrator completely takes control of her life and refuses to live under her restraints any longer is also the point that she appears to have moved into full mental insanity. The last day that she is expected to be at the “house” the woman sets a goal for herself to tear down the wallpaper, which has come to symbolize her imprisonment, entirely. The wall-paper symbolizes the restraints in her life and by getting rid of the paper, she empowers herself to take control. The narrator also purposely takes steps to ensure that her husband will finally have to follow her directions to get what he wants, telling him, “The key is down by the front steps, under a plantain leaf!” (Gilman 844). By making her husband follow the directions of going to get the key, the narrator is reversing the social roles and ensuring that John will realize she is breaking away from the grasp of his control when he must walk in and see her crawling on the floor ripping away the remaining wall-paper. Upon seeing this, John faints, which proves to be ironic as fainting was generally a habit attributed to women. Beverly Hume supports this in her article arguing, “As John is finally made aware of the severity of his wife’s “disorder,” he reacts by “fainting,” altering his conventional role as a soothing, masculine figure to that of a stereotypically weak nineteenth-century female” (Hume 478). By ripping the paper off the wall, the narrator not only forces her husband to realize that she was sick all along, but also makes him realize that she is no longer going to obey him. However, the woman’s victory is another irony presented in the story. While portraying the notion that the social roles have changed completely, with the narrator as the epitome of strength, and John showing weakness by fainting, the victory itself is a perverse one. Trying to live as a sane woman in a patriarchal society, the narrator is led to infantilize herself by crawling at the very moment in which she was actually demonstrating her power. In an effort to set herself free from all of the restraints which are exacerbating her illness, the narrator engages in activities which make her look completely insane. She sees women behind the wall-paper which 29
lead her to realize her own fetters, and she tears away the paper in an attempt to free herself. Though to many she may look insane, her illness was nothing but intensified by her husband, his perception of and treatment of her illness in the midst of a patriarchal society, the room she was confined to, and the wall-paper which served to eventually call her to action in her own life. By tearing away the wall-paper, she begins the road to recovery without the many restraints which were formerly holding her back.
Works Cited Perkins Gilman, Charlotte. “The Yellow Wall-paper.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature 1865-1914. Ed. Nina Baym. 6th ed. New York: 832-844. Hume, Beverly. “Gilman’s “Interminable Grotesque”: The Narrator Of “The Yellow Wallpaper”.” Studies In Short Fiction 4(1991): 477-484.
Doubts within Alfred Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam Anitra Babic ‘10
Within stanza set LV of In Memoriam by Alfred Lord Tennyson, both nature and religion play a role in creating the inner doubt Tennyson experiences after the death of Arthur Ballam, a close friend. Tennyson sees nature, which emphasizes Darwinian concepts, as indifferent to the plight of the individual, which shakes his faith in the afterlife and religion. Meanwhile, religion offers little evidence to oppose the impartialness of nature and leaves him groping in the dark for answers. After Tennyson questions his spirituality, he begins to place some hope in the idea of life after death. The conflict between religion and nature portrays the spiritual crisis that Tennyson experiences throughout the stanza set. With “God and Nature then at strife” (Tennyson 453), Tennyson uses the conflict between nature and religion to explain the reasons behind his spiritual crisis. Due to the influence of Darwinian ideas, religion and the promised afterlife seem implausible. Meanwhile an image of nature as an indifferent mistress develops within the second and third stanzas. Nature, which is feminized, is portrayed as “careless of the single life” (Tennyson 453) though not as remote as religious images of God; like God she still has a “secret meaning in her deeds” (Tennyson 453). Nature is just as remote as religion but offers more proof of her existence in Tennyson’s world. The diction Tennyson adopts when addressing nature has a scientific quality. This emphasizes the uncertainty nature places on his beliefs. Words such as “type” (Tennyson 453) and phrases such as “single life” (Tennyson 453) and “fifty seeds” (Tennyson 453) in reference to nature gives these stanzas a scientific tone. The reference made to the fifty seeds alludes to Darwinian ideas of natural selection. The fate of the seeds threatens Tennyson’s own faith. Though nature produces many seeds, she often allows only one to thrive, which contradicts the idea that each human is a likeness of God. This conception of nature makes the biblical teachings of Tennyson’s era seem fictitious. The loss of faith caused by nature makes Tennyson turn to the bible for answers. While grappling with a spiritual crisis, Tennyson looks for evidence to disprove the doubt nature brought upon him. He makes allusions to the Bible as a way to understand his weakened faith. His faltering, “where I firmly trod” (Tennyson 453) alludes to the story of Job, in which Job experiences doubt in his own faith but eventually comes to terms with his beliefs and is rewarded by God. The “slope of darkness” (Tennyson 453) Tennyson falls up with his “weight of cares” (Tennyson 453) shows how hard it is for him to understand the concept of an afterlife when it is shrouded in darkness. It is made even more difficult for Tennyson since he still bears a heavy heart filled with doubt and nature’s contradicting ways are made visible in an “evil dream” 31
(Tennyson 453). Tennyson mentions gathering “dust and chaff” (Tennyson 453) when he looks for his faith. This line echoes Isaiah 29:5 from the Old Testament, where “your many enemies will become like fine dust, the ruthless hordes like blown chaff”; Tennyson’s enemy, doubt, has become a fine dust and he is able to continue on and trust in his faith. It is the eventual awakening of trust that returns Tennyson’s hope in the afterlife. The opening lines of stanza set LV portray Tennyson’s “wishing” (Tennyson 453) for life after death, while the closing lines of the set have him “hoping” (Tennyson 453) for the same thing in the closing lines of the set. He starts out the stanza set with “The wish, that of the living whole no life may fail beyond the grave” (Tennyson 453) or the idea that each living person wishes for something after death. At this point Tennyson, like mankind, is only wishing that there is an afterlife, or a life beyond the grave, but he does not have any real expectations of there being one. This wish is based less on faith and more on desire. He has a slight change of heart at the end of the stanza set however, when he uses feelings over intellect. This is emphasized by the repletion of the ‘f’ sound, which makes one connect the use of feelings and faith, throughout stanza five. Tennyson moves from the rational way of thinking, which relies on facts and the mind, to a more intuitive standpoint. He trusts in his emotions “to what I feel is Lord of all” (Tennyson 453) and begins to “trust the larger hope” (Tennyson 453) and put his faith in the idea of Heaven. Tennyson’s faint hope in the idea of faith indicates his coming to terms with his doubts. Throughout stanza set LV an overall tone of doubt prevails as Tennyson brings up the conflicting ideas that nature and religion conjure within the human mind. Though nature offers him proof of its control over the human condition, playing its part in life and death, Tennyson cannot bring himself to disband his belief in a life after death. He uses the weight he bears up the stairs to God to help free himself from his intellectual side. At the stanza set’s conclusion Tennyson looks beyond the living proof that nature offers and begins to trust in hope and heaven. Works Cited Tennyson, Lord Alfred. “In Memoriam”. Victorian Prose and Poetry. Ed. Harold Bloom and Lionel Trilling. New York: Oxford UP, 1973. 441-466. The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: American Bible Society: 1999.
Slaughterhouse-Five and The Red Badge of Courage Michele Grinar ‘08
When Sir Winston Churchill remarked, “One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once ‘The Unnecessary War,’” he was referring to World War Two. Churchill may well have been speaking of any and every war, however, he was not alone. Two authors who creatively represent the lack of necessity of war are Stephen Crane and Kurt Vonnegut. Close reading of Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage and Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five reveals that war is an unnecessary event, waged by the impotent and ignorant, without regard or purpose. Many writers have analyzed war, but none so brilliantly as Stephen Crane and Kurt Vonnegut. Both authors prove that war is unnecessary in very different ways. Slaughterhouse-Five’s satiric approach is refreshing and humorous, even includes a reference to The Red Badge of Courage. Crane’s piece allows the reader to reach the conclusion with subtlety. Both novels emphasize the fact that war is unnecessary through three key points. First, the men in both novels seem to be fighting in order to take themselves more seriously and appear heroic, but the situations in which they find themselves betray their less than noble intentions. Secondly, war seems to magnify the insecurities, cowardice, immaturity and selfishness in men who are supposed to be defending the way of life of a nation. Lastly, and most importantly, the men in both novels fail to discuss the causes they are fighting for. Vonnegut’s post-modernistic style emphasizes these points using World War Two metaphor, specifically the bombing of Dresden. The Red Badge of Courage, written in the naturalist genre, proves these points through her cowardly characters controlled by their circumstances.
Both novels reveal that men wage war so they can take themselves more seriously and appear heroic,
simultaneously using war to show how soldiers have less than noble intentions on the battlefield. The soldiers continuously appear ridiculous. This is seen in The Red Badge of Courage early on and with clarity within the novel. Men have a tendency to accuse women of being gossipers, but the “whisper down the lane” effect has certainly taken hold of these men at camp. A tall soldier, named Jim Conklin, tries to appear knowledgeable as he invents a tale of an impending battle, filling in details as he sees fit. When “to his attentive audience he drew a loud and elaborate plan of a very brilliant campaign” (Crane 1), Conklin tries to make a name for himself after being thrust into a world where he is nobody. He is preening before a crowd in an effort to seem like a courageous man but fails and appears silly. Vonnegut, however, is the master of portraying the ridiculousness of war situations. Princess, a dog, is one of the few females to grace Slaughterhouse-Five, and she is an invaluable tool in men’s betrayal, revealing 33
them as men trying to live up to the ideal of a soldier, but falling short. Princess, “who had sounded so ferocious in the winter distances, was a female German shepherd. She was shivering. Her tail was between her legs. She had been borrowed that morning from a farmer. She had never been to war before. She had no idea what game was being played” (Vonnegut 52), illustrates that men see war as a game and in that game, there can be a winner that is glorious and imposing. The dehumanizing effects of war only serve to clarify the less than noble intentions of soldiers. Vonnegut’s post-modernist approach to his novel uses their brandishing a useless dog as a symbol for the lack of reason for World War Two and the impotence of the men fighting.
War magnifies the negative traits of immaturity, cowardice, insecurity and selfishness in men who
are supposed to be the ideals of their country, defending the honor and way of life of a nation. Men are counted upon by the citizenry to protect them with selflessness, experience and valor, but in both novels, they consistently show themselves to be unworthy of the task. This point is shown in The Red Badge of Courage when the youth runs away from his first battle. When the battle is over and his regiment has survived, “He began to pity himself acutely. He was ill used. He was trodden beneath the feet of an iron injustice. He had proceeded with wisdom and from the most righteous motives under Heaven’s blue only to be frustrated by hateful circumstances” (Crane 34). This satirical jest at men’s immaturity, cowardice and insecurity highlights the naturalist theme of The Red Badge of Courage by showing that the youth is controlled by his environment. Slaughterhouse-Five is admirable in its depiction of men as selfish, insecure, immature and cowardly in several scenes. One key character, Roland Weary, is a prime example of negative traits rearing their heads in a war situation. Weary, who “had helped to fire one shot in anger” (Vonnegut 34), not only misses his target, a large German tank, but reveals his regiment’s position. When the tank returns fire, it “killed everybody on the gun crew but Weary” (Vonnegut 35). Weary, aptly named for the feeling he evokes in his fellow comrades, displays his desire to seem brave in the way he wrongly remembers the event. His treatment of the main character, Billy Pilgrim, however, emphasizes the idea that war brings out the worst in men with utter clarity. When “Weary drew back his right boot, aimed a kick at the spine, at the tube which had so many of Billy’s important wires in it” (Vonnegut 51), Weary becomes a metaphor for how war short circuits men, both mentally and spiritually, rendering them into mindless killers with no sense of purpose. Weary is representative of powerlessness and ignorance. His complete failure of reason can be attributed to the post-modernistic theme of the text. War is supposed to accomplish something good for people, something noble; it is supposed to bring peace but instead only serves to propagate more violence. The Red Badge of Courage offers an example of this. 34
Jim Conklin, the “tall” soldier, and Wilson, the “loud” soldier, are nick-named to emphasize Crane’s naturalist theme of the loss of individuality. They nearly come to blows over a disagreement about the movements of the troop. The “tall soldier [Conklin] felt called upon to defend the truth of the rumor he himself had introduced. He and the loud one came near to fighting over it” (Crane 2), illustrating Conklin’s desire to try to defend anything, even something he knew was a falsehood. He does this without considering if his national ideal or way of life is worth defending and laying his own life down for. Vonnegut, however, is once again the quintessential master of irony when he introduces the reader to a soldier named Paul Lazarro who, while being held prisoner by enemy forces, actually threatens to have individuals killed after the war by contract murderers. Lazzaro brags that “he could have anybody in the world killed for a thousand dollars plus traveling expenses. He had a list in his head” (Vonnegut 140) and he places the main character, Billy Pilgrim, at the top of his list. Pilgrim, aptly named to represent someone innocent and blameless, a bystander who wishes for a quiet life, does not respond when Lazzaro says, “Enjoy life while you can. Nothing’s gonna happen for five, ten, fifteen, twenty years. But lemme give you a piece of advice. Whenever the doorbell rings, have somebody else answer the door.” (Vonnegut 141) These continuous visions of death and destruction, played against the complete annihilation of the city of Dresden stress the post modernistic theme of Slaughterhouse-Five. The helplessness of the survivors of the Dresden fire highlights the fact that the cause they are fighting for is never discussed. They did not care what the war was about. Their objectives are to stay alive, raid the bodies, and get out of Germany. Pilgrim, who has no idea what cause he is fighting for, he is the backdrop, the straight man. He is the stage, set with blue and silver drapes, awaiting Cinderella, the unreasonable and weakened soldier.
The Red Badge of Courage and Slaughterhouse-Five offer a myriad of examples supporting the fact
that war is an unnecessary event, fought by the desolate and ignorant without regard for purpose. The two novels approach the point in different ways. Crane, writing from a naturalist perspective, stresses that the loss of individuality is the root of the impotence and the subsequent negative behavior of warriors. Vonnegut, the post-modernist, uses satire and biting wit to highlight the uselessness of war. His fragmented storyline and apocalyptic portrayal of Dresden further stresses the death rattle of World War Two. Both authors share the same vision when emphasizing three key points. The men in both novels appear ridiculous at times, especially while trying to appear gallant or noble. War magnifies many of their negative qualities. The men never discuss the cause they are supposedly fighting for while continuing to fight. Both novels indicate that war is useless. It 35
renders men ungallant and brings out their ignorance. It hurts more people than it helps. Stephen Crane and Kurt Vonnegut guide their readers through a vicious battlefield to prove it. Both illustrate journeys trod with laughter and tears.
Works Cited Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage. New York: D. Appleton and Co. 1895. Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five. New York: Dell Publishing. 1969.
In the Common Interest and for the Common Good: American Foreign Policy in the Age of Terrorism Lauren Jackson ‘08
The United States since its inception has been a sort of precocious younger sibling to the rest of the
modernized world. This petulant upstart sent shockwaves through the established systems of Old Europe when a ramshackle army of farmers and patriots declared themselves independent from the dominant grasp of Great Britain and her king and pronounced themselves a defiant new nation. The importance of this event cannot be overlooked, for this revolutionary beginning inaugurated a grand tradition of American independence and integrity. The Founding Fathers, who forged the democratic principles on which the United States is based, realized that the freedoms and rights being afforded to the fledgling nation were privileges hard-fought and hard-won through gunpowder and spilled blood. Because of this, the ensuing presidential administrations and various statesmen have worked hard to mold both American domestic and foreign policies around the ideals instilled into the essence of the country by Jefferson, Madison, and their ilk.
Following the requisite focus on domestic issues in the nation’s infancy, these rather auspicious
beginnings have helped the United States become the most dominant force on the global stage. Since that point, American relations with other countries have been defined by adherence to a number of national interests and principles, the majority of which are direct remnants of the guiding influences of the framers of the Constitution. These interests are considered to be “concrete objectives of foreign policy” that work to provide “national security, economic well-being” and “a homeland for an identifiable group of people,” typically guided by the principles of “moralism, isolationism, pragmatism, and unilateralism” in American practice (Papp, Johnson, and Endicott 39, 45-50). Some of the earliest American entreaties into international politics were devoted to “protect[ing the country] against military threats from abroad” and “seek[ing] out commercial opportunities to strengthen the economic might of the nation and the prosperity of its citizens” (Johnson 7).
The implementation of these principles in American foreign policy relies heavily upon the belief that
American interests supercede those of other nations, or, because of the United States’ prominent position in international affairs, what is beneficial to America is therefore beneficial for the rest of the world. Insistence upon morality, or “moral suasion,” has helped to drive this theory, and has also “provided the United States with an advantage in foreign affairs” by attempting to maintain “clean hands and a pure heart” in international relations (Papp, Johnson, and Endicott 330). American leaders still struggle with the balance between “moralism and pragmatism,” yet are driven by the overriding belief in the overarching rightness of the American cause, 37
which requires “sound policy” that can “produce” an end “worthy of our opportunity” (Kissinger in Papp, Johnson, and Endicott 331). In order to achieve this soundness, however, the White House must be willing to recognize that American suppositions of superiority tend to erode the allure of American “soft power,” the considerable might of which can actually help to “w[in] ideological struggles” and “influence others to be more accepting of U.S. foreign policy objectives” (Papp, Johnson, and Endicott 331). Because the United States is typically in a better position to act upon its beliefs and interests than other nations due to its advanced military and economic status, American forces have recently found themselves entangled in unilateral engagements. The propensity for unilateral intervention is another facet of American foreign policy principles that helps to reveal the underlying righteousness that girds the American identity. In instances where the White House deems military intervention necessary for the defense of American ideals and security, United States forces will not hesitate to intervene alone, if necessary, to protect the American homeland. Thus, the Bush Doctrine of preemptive defense instituted after the September 11 attacks in 2001 can thereby be classified by some theorists as an absolutely vital component of policy designed to protect the nation and to provide for the common defense in the modern age of rogue states and international terrorist organizations. In the case of the Iraq War, which was the first implementation of this theory, the preemptive, unilateral course taken by the United States was “declared” to be “essential” in order to “identify and destroy security threats before they reached the U.S. borders” (Papp, Johnson, and Endicott 389).
Though scarcely anyone will dispute the assertion that protecting the American homeland and its
intrinsic ideals and values constitutes a major interest for the United States government, one must also consider the ramifications of the actions undertaken in order to ensure that protection. The “moralism” espoused by segments of American foreign policy tends to create an unbelievable failing in the American populace to recognize and to comprehend the differing cultures and countries worldwide. This “public ignorance of the world” demonstrated by a remarkably large number of Americans “signals to those in other countries that Americans do not really care about them or what happens beyond the borders of the United States” (Johnson 59). This general ignorance extends into the higher echelons of the governmental structure, as well, causing numerous intelligence failures that inevitably lead to foolhardy actions based on “little understanding” (Johnson 70). When advocates of isolationism prevail and champion sequestering the United States from the rest of the world, such ignorance in the face of modern political strife is unequivocally dangerous and can cause nothing but continued aggression against the United States and its allies. 38
American policies abroad also tend to reflect the power of the executive branch. The president is the
most visible ambassador of American values and principles, and therefore he becomes the face of the American people abroad. In many instances, global opinion of the president becomes synonymous with global opinions of the United States, causing irreparable discord and a severe decline in “personal respect and even love for American people” (Kurlantzick 419). When a president begins to assert too much power, as in the case of George W. Bush and his unpopular war in Iraq, American foreign policy can begin to reflect a troubling unilateralist thought behind the decision-making processes. This “focus on executive power” can become hazardous when “the larger governmental system” and the necessary “checks and balances” instilled within it by the designers of the constitution are overlooked in exchange for an “imperial presidency” (Wolfensberger 101). Thus, the Congress must be able to assert its voice—the voice of the people—in order to temper certain presidential ambitions. The inverse can also occur, in which Congress can begin to dominate the executive branch, yet the tenuous balance must be maintained in order to sustain proper governmental function. Such a disproportion exists in direct contradiction of constitutional intent, yet presidents such as George W. Bush surround themselves with “like-minded loyalists” and instigate international affairs that are not representative of the feelings of the American public, nor in its best interest (Snow 115).
The complex and intricate international arena requires a greater emphasis on multilateral action in order
to appropriately handle sensitive issues. America’s discomforting tendency to display an “unwillingness” to “work in harness or even consult meaningfully” with other nations has created a definite rift among its “alarmed and disheartened” allies (Johnson 153). The second Bush administration more than any other in recent history has created an unnecessary burden on American resources by choosing to “go it alone” in its military endeavors, effectively “undercut[ting] multilateral efforts” and “rais[ing] questions about whether the United States itself had become a ‘rogue nation’” (Johnson 154). This foreign policy strategy works to exacerbate the “severe limitations” that the United States “faces…on its ability to act as it wishes on the world stage” (Johnson 155). Spectacular failures in Vietnam and in Latin America help to highlight the damning effects of overextension, ultimately making the world less safe for American citizens and for democratic values—a reality decisively not in the public interest (Johnson 156). Defeating looming threats like China will also require international multilateral action, something the United States needs to consider before it alienates the very nations necessary for future success. In order to successfully take on the enormous threat that the Chinese pose, the United States will need to cultivate “different coalitions for different crises,” lending its support to those who “need the United States” and “recognizing that when power relationships are correctly calibrated, wars tend to be avoided” (Kaplan 69). 39
The United States habitually relies upon its military strength to quash potentially troubling scenarios
across the globe. Though the United States government has a veritable army of diplomats and public servants at its disposal, it tends more often than not to call upon the “oversized military arrow” in the governmental “quiver” in its efforts to “resolve disputes overseas” (Johnson 121). Thus, American society becomes associated with the feared American military, leaving many who have faced the massive arsenal with less than favorable impressions of the land of the free. However, as the country is currently witnessing in Iraq, the military, despite its overwhelmingly impressive force, is not exceedingly well equipped to deal with unconventional warfare. Though the Middle East currently occupies the central focus of the long arm of the United States government, some believe that rapidly developing nations like China will constitute the next serious threat. China’s military might is considerably less than that of the United States, but the “fast learn[ing]” country will know not to “do us the favor of engaging in conventional air and naval battles,” but “approach us asymmetrically, as terrorists do” (Kaplan 68, 71). The necessity for the United States to adapt in a like manner therefore becomes of paramount importance, particularly when one considers the diplomatic failures of the Iraq War. The looming threat of China in the shadow of Iraq necessitates the need for diplomacy, a path that the government must not reject in favor for overwhelming military might.
The United States holds an unparalleled position of power in the modern world. Because of this prestige,
the government has a moral duty to conduct itself and its policies in a manner that is equally beneficial to American and global interests and sufficient enough to maintain American superiority. Although it may be an idealistic belief not supported by all facets of the political community, as the world’s only superpower, the United States must accept the role of benefactor of the weak in order to strengthen international ties and to facilitate the construction of a more positive global opinion—to offer a hand up, rather than an oppressive fist down. Therefore, to act unilaterally and to attempt to maintain vestiges of isolationist tendencies does not accurately represent the needs of the United States. America must be willing to cooperate internationally and forgo shortsighted cowboy crusades for actions in the global interest. Policies free from Johnson’s seven sins are ultimately more conducive to American interests because they would actively work to mend international relationships and restore the integrity of a nation tarnished by eight years of misguided leadership. The world needs a powerful United States just as much as the United States needs the support of a grateful world. America as a global leader can help the world deal with major problems, such as global warming, as a connected whole, rather than splintered factions handling smaller situations. The nation can be a strong leader, and that leadership can provide impetus to make the world a safer and cleaner place for everyone to live. As the only remaining 40
superpower, the power vacuum that would emerge in the event of the catastrophic downfall of the United States would be devastating for both international security and economic health.
The two positions as outlined reflect a definite shift in political reality. It is important to note that many
of the principles argued by Papp, Johnson, and Endicott, such as isolationism and, to a degree, unilateralism, were abandoned after World War II, at least in part because they simply could not exist in the Cold War climate. In the post- Cold War world, the unpredictable nature of the threats that face the United States require new guiding principles in order to more effectively protect and promote the national interests of the United States. America must make a conscious devotion to multilateral endeavors in order to lessen the military and economic burden on the country, while at the same time place a greater emphasis on diplomacy in order to foster a better working relationship with the rest of the global community. Increased diplomatic action can help to reduce the effects of some of Johnsonâ€™s other highlighted sins, such as the threat of imperial presidencies and the tragedy of American ignorance, by demanding that the American people become involved in the future of their country, and as a direct corollary, in the future of the world. While it is interesting that Loch K. Johnson had a hand in writing each of the books, and therefore, in determining the policy principles espoused in each, the two depictions are essentially markedly different. It seems as if Johnson attempted to refute each of the assertions made by Papp, Johnson, and Endicott about the principles of isolationism, unilateralism, and abject moralism by placing them in the current political context. Johnson is correct in this assertion. Creating effective foreign policy is an inordinately complicated endeavor, and very frequently is there no clear-cut directive for success. Those with varying viewpoints, like the evercontradictory idealists and realists, will always vie for different strategies to be enacted based on their concepts of the world. What fulfills a dedication to one American principle may often be in complete refutation of another; our history is replete with such instances where the support of dictators who were notorious human rights abusers was considered to be a vital component of the fight against communism. Americans simply cannot afford to exist in a bubble of ignorance, blind to the very real trials and travails of its global companions. We must, as a country, begin to come to terms with the challenges of the new century, where our enemies will not always be hiding behind an established flag but can move unseen and implacable to cause us harm. We must be willing to challenge ourselves to realize that the United States of America is not infallible, nor indestructible. Most of all, however, we must challenge our leaders to restore our international credibility and integrity, for they are by far the most integral components to our continued prosperity.
Works Cited Johnson, Loch K. Seven Sins of American Foreign Policy. New York: Pearson-Longman, 2007. Kaplan, Robert D. “How We Would Fight China.” Atlantic Monthly (June 2005). 49-64. Kurlantzick, Joshua. “The Decline of American Soft Power.” Current History (December 2005). Papp, Daniel S., Loch K. Johnson, and John E. Endicott. American Foreign Policy: History Politics and Policy. New York: Pearson-Longman, 2005. Snow, Donald M. “Typology of Presidential Personality and Management Style.” United States Foreign Policy: Politics Beyond the Water’s Edge. Boston: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2005. 102-117. Wolfensberger, Donald R. “The Return of the Imperial Presidency?” Annual Editions: American Policy 06/07. Ed. Glenn P. Hastedt. 101-104.
Frederico García Lorca’s Treatment of Women : With Particular Attention Paid to The House of Bernarda Alba Stefanie Paternostro ‘08
“I don’t think I’m exaggerating to affirm that the work of Frederico García Lorca has conquered and
retained a universality not equaled by any other poet of the twentieth century” (Nadal 61). This is not an uncommon statement when the topic of García Lorca comes up. He was a man who wrote so that all could feel as though someone sympathized with their plight. Lorca focused his works on the everyday events of the Andalusian pueblos all the while writing with slight undertones of surrealism (Wright 1). In these events, “Lorca, with an antique voice, almost without meaning to do so, was giving new forms to the eternal questions and sentiments of man” (Nadal 63).
Before his dramatic tragedies were published, Lorca was best known as the gypsy poet. His Romancero
Gitano amongst other published collections of his poetry, such as Llanto por Ignacio Sanches Mejias and Poema de Cante Jondo, were profoundly somber and dark. The worlds of the poems were mythical and private and of a time reminiscent of one before his own. There seems to be an indescribable driving force to the stories his poems tell, a darker force. His sense of rhythm in these early works so nearly parallels the sense of flamenco that it is unmatched. Many of his works were surrealist in nature, a form of art he, no doubt, picked up from his contact with Salvador Dalí. García Lorca’s poetry gave way to works in drama which led from romances earlier on to his more famous tragedies (Pring-Mill).
Like many writers, Lorca did not always come right out and say what the point of his works was.
He was a man with “a locus of contested meanings and significations” (Wright 1). “Lorca himself ‘at times repudiates the effeminate stereotype and with others seems to take it on’” (Magnier 113). He was a man of whimsy, taking on whatever suited him at the time. For this reason, until relatively recently, the bibliographical information of García Lorca was not entirely known and available. But with a better understanding his life comes the ability to read some of his works in different ways. Because of the undeniably dominant number of female characters in his works, one way of reading his work is to look at it through the feministic point of view and the treatment of women in his works (Wright 2).
This way of reading is of particular importance, especially in regard to Spanish literature, because of
the manner in which women were treated up through the nineteenth century in Spanish speaking countries. Until relatively recent history in Spain and Latin America, reproduction was seen as “women’s only legitimate function. Control that, and you control her” (Kaminsky 2). Women had been treated as second class citizens 43
to those first class male citizens of the culture. That is to say, women were meant not to be seen, to be hidden in the home, out of public view. They were considered and treated as intellectually inferior to the men of the culture, and also creatively inferior. Indeed, speaking in public was deemed inappropriate and unsuitable behavior for a woman. These restrictions on women served many uses for the men. For example, honorable women were unseen and unheard. Keeping a woman indoors and unheard by any other man ensured that she was only receiving attention from her husband or immediate family. If a woman were only receiving attention from such men, then she was not having extramarital affairs or premarital relations with other men. Because of the control of her sexuality, a young girl had nothing else to do other than prepare for the day when she would receive a husband and then take care of his home as a grown woman and wife. In this way, an obedient female member of this culture would carry out her life, honoring and obeying the male figure in her life whether he be her father or husband. Women who rebelled against such restrictions were beaten down and disciplined by society, their husbands or other male members of their families. Thus, women learned to abide by the rules, choosing either a man of the earth or entering a convent and choosing a man of the heavens (Kaminsky 1-13).
Frederico García Lorca lived through this constricting, suffocating time in Spain. He experienced and
recognized this “social-sexual code which privileged men at the expense of women’s autonomy, participation, and self-realization” and used this recognition of the “female experience as the core of the [his] tragedies” (Burton 260). However, these tragedies, Blood Wedding (1933), Yerma (1934), and The House of Bernarda Alba (1936), explore many different concepts other than the oppression of women in Spanish speaking society. One such focus is whether it is fate or people themselves which control the outcome of their lives (Burton 260-262). García Lorca explores the question of were women destined to be oppressed by men, or were women oppressing themselves the whole time by not standing up against it.
The House of Bernarda Alba is “a drama about women in the villages of Spain” (Marshall 66). It tells of
village life, a dominating mother, and is, in essence, a beautiful period piece (Marshall 66). In this play, Lorca tells the tale of a house full of women. The main role is Bernarda, the matriarchal leader and mother of the family. In the house reside Bernarda’s five daughters named (in increasing age order) Adela, Martirio, Amelia, Magdalena, and Angustias. Poncia, the head maid, and other female servants also enter at various times within the three acts. However, it is important to note that no male role ever cohabits the stage with any female. In fact, the audience never physically sees men; they only hear about their actions from the women in the play. Bernarda’s demented mother also lives within the house, appearing only sporadically throughout the play to add subtly profound ideas to the events. One instance is in her singing, “Little lamb, child of mine, Let’s go to 44
the shore of the sea” (Lorca 205). Here the lamb represents youth and innocence and the sea, a surging form of water, represents sexuality. (García Lorca often used water as a symbol for virility.) There is a subtle allusion to a foreshadowing of a young innocent girl losing her virginity.
The play begins with the funeral day of the former male leader of the household, Bernarda’s husband
and the father of the five girls. The audience learns of the customary eight years of mourning sentenced upon the women of the household and of the daughters’ disgust with such a sentence. The play carries on by telling the story of the interactions of these women within this household, the daughters’ yearning to marry off and escape their tyrannical mother, and the conflict that this desire ignites. Upon the dividing the inheritance the girls are to receive, the audience discovers that Angustias, the eldest, is to receive the largest portion. Shortly thereafter, a man named Pepe de Romano proposes marriage to Angustias, the implication being that he is only interested in her share of the inheritance. As the plot further unfolds, it is seen that Adela has been enticing Pepe physically. She finally loses her virginity to him in the family’s stable. Bernarda, furious because a woman’s sexual purity is of the utmost importance in order to be respectable, takes a gun outside and shoots at Pepe. Upon her return into the house, she informs the girls that there is no more Pepe, making it appear as though he is dead. Adela runs upstairs and hangs herself, unable to live without her lover. However, Pepe is indeed alive, scared off running by the shot fired. Bernarda orders that Adela be redressed like a virgin and that no one speak of her indiscretion. Protection of one’s reputation supersedes all else, even truth. The House of Bernarda Alba is a matriarchal tale of the eternally single. It is also a tale of the women in the play encountering tragedy as they battle the social norms of Spanish society. These women are beaten down by tragedy as animals which act in a behavior contradictory to the acceptable would be beaten or put down. They are also kept in the house like caged animals, expected to remain inside for eight years in mourning of the death of their father, a custom common in Spain at the time. And they do indeed remain within this setting for the entire play, never once sharing the stage with a male character. As discussed previously, this would mean their true use, reproduction, could be at risk of exposure. Such exposure would use them up like an old saddle. A woman who has had intimate contact with a man prior to marriage is considered tainted, no longer of use as a wife. And so her virginity must be protected at all costs, even if it means lying about the true circumstance surrounding her death, as is the case with poor Adela. Thus, Lorca comments on a woman’s place being in the home. (Burton 262-264)
Another prevalent theme in this drama is man as woman’s master or ruler. As Burton notes, “As long
as she is dependent upon a man, she must serve him, preserve his honor, and be subject to his will” (264). In 45
other words, she must be utilized much as any tool in the man’s fields might be used: a rake, a hoe, a plow. The only way a woman could free herself from this life of servitude is to first become the slave to the man, and then hope that he someday pass away and leave her with an inheritance. It is only with this inheritance that a woman may go on to have some freedom and hold the reigns to the steed of her own destiny. This is how Bernarda Alba comes into power of her own life and household. And this power is how we start to see the unfolding of the drama (Burton 264-265). When Bernarda inherits the power of the household due to her husband’s death, the daughters are all jealous. Angustias refuses to be ordered around by her mother, feeling her own freedom from men and a new incarceration by a tyrannical mother. The other girls display this jealousy through their emphasized yearning for a home of their own, even if it means marrying off.
The play also addresses weaknesses of women. The first such weakness is gossip. Burton notes how the
play demonstrates that “by keeping women confined, ignorant, and passive, male-dominated society cultivates female weakness and leaves women virtually defenseless prey to stronger forces” (268). These women, trapped in the household and within their own gender-specific circles, have nothing to do but talk about themselves (as they are kept ignorant of all else). For instance, the girls gossip about another girl trapped within her home by her husband. Martirio declares, “I know. Her sweetheart doesn’t let her go out even to the front doorstep. Before, she was gay. Now, not even powder on her face” (Lorca 169). A cycle is shown here: trapped women gossiping about other trapped women. But what is really accomplished in this conversation? Nothing. All are still trapped. In talking about nothing else, they perpetuate their own oppression, strengthening the power men already hold over them. This gossip also leads to condemnation, not just from the men, but from within their own gender. The women condemn one another’s actions should they not adhere to the social norm and demand retribution from one another (Burton 266-270). For example, Adela tattles on Angustias for behaving contrary to what is deemed acceptable by listening in on the conversations of the men outside the household. Adela tattles to Bernarda knowing full well that Angustias will be reprimanded by their mother (Lorca 166). No woman truly sees the abhorrence that is occurring here until she herself goes against the grain. It is only when a woman breaks through the pre-established system that she can openly protest against it. Such is the case with Adela (Burton 266-270).
And yet with all the intolerances of one another and themselves, these women continue to accept and
tolerate the mistakes and weaknesses of the men. For example, only women are held responsible when a social wrongdoing occurs. Even when a man tears apart the bond between female family members he is forgiven. The sisters are the ones blamed for such transgressions, as in the final act when Martirio and Adela are arguing over 46
the love of Pepe de Romano: “(Adela). Martirio, Martirio, I’m not to blame! (Martirio). Don’t put your arms around me! Don’t try to smooth it over. My blood’s no longer yours, and even though I try to think of you as a sister, I see you as just another woman” (Lorca 208). But nowhere in this conversation is a finger pointed at Pepe. They only argue with one another, each wanting the other to admit guilt. They should not have acted so, it seems to the audience. They should have known better (Burton 270-279). Burton quotes a line from the play, “The greatest punishment is to be born a woman” (279). The important themes found within this work include Lorca’s statement of purpose, the heat of the setting, the tyranny imposed on the household by Bernarda, and the superior treatment of men. The first theme to be noted throughout this work is the author’s statement of purpose. It is clearly announced at the beginning of the drama that the work is meant to be taken as a photographic document (Lorca 156). But what does this mean to the reader’s interpretation of the work? The purpose of this announcement is to make the audience realize that only a surface skimming, a quick glance, into the lives of these women is experienced. Also, it is meant to imply that only the truth is revealed here, no matter how brutal or ugly it may be. The audience must take it as the truth, and make their admissions, interpretations, and suggestions based on this acceptance. This photographic aspect of the play also has to do with the visual presentation of the play. The house that the audience sees is a representation of the incarceration of these women. Seeing the house in so simple a stage setup strengthens this sentiment.
Another point about the setting of the work must be made before delving into its finer details. That
point is the temperature that is set for this performance. It is meant to be a hot, humid summer. This makes the audience think about what heat means to them, what it makes them feel. There are all sorts of clichés about heat. One such cliché is that heat brings on a certain aptitude for sexual activity. This is highlighted in the conversation Bernarda has with her friend, Prudencia, about the stallion. The stallion is kicking against the wall of the house and Bernarda remarks, “He must be too hot,” to which Prudencia replies, “Are you going to put the new mares to him?” (Lorca 197). The mention of heat leads to a discussion of sexual acts. This sets the stage for the ladies in mourning as they admire and court the male characters of the play. The metaphor is evidenced by Poncia when she interrupts the conversation between Prudencia and Bernarda saying, “And she has the best herd in these parts. It’s a shame that prices are so low” (Lorca 197). This alludes to the fact that the girls are ready to receive their own stallions, that they are prime candidates, and that they wish there were better stallions out there to receive them. Heat is also important in how it makes people react. When people are excessively warm, they tend 47
to be short of temper, quick to be cross with one-another, and irritable, which leads to quick escalations of already tense situations. The final point to be made about heat is its purpose in reactions in general. Heat in any chemical or physical reaction adds energy, exciting things, making reactions move forward more quickly. And so, symbolically, the heat is adding the energy needed in Lorca’s work to accelerate the reactions of the components, the characters, and bring his desired product out sooner. It causes the simmering heat of sexual tension to come to a full boil.
As previously discussed, the only way a woman could experience any real freedom was in the death
of her husband, the head of the household. And this freedom was, in all likelihood, not taken lightly. It is human nature to go from one extreme to another upon freedom to do so. And so, when Bernarda Alba gains her freedom through the death of Antonio Alba, she becomes a bit power hungry. She is described by Poncia as tyrant time and time again: “domineering old tyrant” (Lorca 157) and “tyrant over everyone around her! She’s perfectly capable of sitting on your heart and watching you die for a whole year without turning off that cold little smile she wears on her wicked face” (Lorca 158). The latter quote in particular is interesting because sitting on the hearts of her daughters is exactly what she does in mandating the eight year mourning period (and in denying her younger daughter the chance to marry) in the first act of this tragedy. She will deny the very freedom she seemingly appreciates so from her own daughters. Poncia even alludes to being treated like a dog by Bernarda. She says, “I’m a good watchdog! I bark when I’m told and bite beggars’ heels when she sics me on ‘em” (Lorca 159). Bernarda is finally free of this animal-like oppression and treatment that men impose on women in this lifestyle and yet she still chooses to impose such treatment on another woman and on her daughters. Or does she really have a choice? We must wonder whether, now that her husband has passed away, if she is inheriting a newly expected role for woman to play? Is she truly free? Or is she imposing a new sort of oppression upon herself, passed down from society around her?
The men in this work are often put first and foremost by the women. Even as it is extremely hot in the
house and they are being served drinks, before Bernarda accepts hers from the servant, she mandates that some drinks be brought out to the men. Her first concern is that it at least appears that the men are taken care of first. Even when men are at fault, they are excused rather quickly and some fault is found with a woman in the nearby vicinity of the error. For instance, the men are speaking of something that has been deemed inappropriate immediately after the funeral of the father of the household. This indiscretion is quickly dismissed for the fact that Angustias had been nearby the door listening to the conversation and pining after a man, no place for a woman, especially in her time of mourning! Angustias is immediately reprimanded and scolded severely. 48
Another instance is explained in the conversation between Amelia and Martirio. Amelia asks, “But why isn’t a man like that put in jail?” in reference to a man who had treated three or four women so poorly that some went insane. And Martirio answers, “Because men help each other cover up things like that and no one’s able to tell on them” (Lorca 169). Another such remark is made by Adela when she remarks, “Everything’s forgiven them” (Lorca 185). She is referring to men; they are forgiven no matter what their transgressions may be.
Wright states that Frederico García Lorca “refuses to be confined to any one side of the paradigm-
tradition and modernity, centre and periphery, gay and straight” (3). But in reading his tragedies, it is openly apparent which side of this paradigm of how women ought to be treated by society Lorca stands. Living through the times of female oppression, Frederico García Lorca obviously saw something with which he disagreed. His tragedies were his subversive way of stating his discontent with the state of women’s rights in Spain. The House of Bernarda Alba was his final and most outright statement of this discontent. This is abundantly apparent with his use of photo documentation to emphasize the solitude of these women within their simple, white, barren home and by the outright omission of the physical appearance of male characters on stage. The point is catalyzed with the addition of heat to his sexual equation. And the want of freedom by women is carried within the dialogue and actions of these five sisters, their mother, and the maids. Perhaps because The House of Bernarda Alba so explicitly states the disquiet of the soul of Frederico García, he was killed by the conservative government of Franco the same year as its publication. Lorca was a voice to be reckoned with, and the only way to silence such a voice is in death. Works Cited Burton, Julianne. Women in Hispanic literature: icons and fallen idols. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983. García Lorca, Frederico. Three Tragedies. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1947. Kaminsky, Amy Katz. Water Lilies. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. Magnier, Grace; et al. “Reviews of Books.” Belletin of HIspanic Studies 77(Aprill 2000): 101-125. Marshall, Margaret. “Drama.” Nation 172(1951): 66. Nadal, Rafael Martinez. Cuatro lecciones sobre Federico García Lorca. Catedra, S.A.: Fundacion Juan March, 1980. Pring-Mill, Robert. “Frederico García Lorca.” Boppin a Riff. 1983. 1 May 2007 <http://boppin.com/lorca/>. Wright, Sarah. The Trickster-Function in the Theatre of García Lorca. London: Tamesis, 2000. 49
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