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Archive for the ‘productive procrastination’ Category


For this week’s major writing assignment I have been asked to write a five page paper for my Jane Austen and the 18th Century course. As a graduate student I am expected to create my own topic and to bring in an additional source to analyze from outside the books assigned for class. To fulfill these two fairly simple requirements I decided that it would be interesting to compare Jane Austen’s Love and Friendship to Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders. The focus of my comparison would include the choice of literary form and how each main character’s style and “art” appeals to the sensibilities of their readers.

At the moment I have a decent collection of quotes and ideas of what I want to do with this paper but I am having minor difficulties with writing out an acceptable introduction to the whole thing. I have been informed many times that I don’t have to write the introduction before writing the body of a paper but my personal preference is to work my way through from start to finish instead of jumping around.

So, where to start? I know that during the 18th century it was difficult to survive as a woman unless you were connected to a man or some wealthy family–and even then a comfortable life was never guaranteed thing. But do I want to include this awareness in the introduction? Or, should I start with a much more direct attack at the 18th century conceptions of “art” and “sensibility” and how the written word was a method through which women of ill repute could use a certain degree of art in their writing in order to appeal to the sensibilities of their intended readers?

My gut is telling me to go with the second option–especially after going back and reading that last paragraph. Below will be my rambling attempts at an introduction to my paper:

In the struggle to survive on their own in a male and money dominated culture, women of the eighteenth century had limited morally acceptable choices–especially when their family’s social and economic status were taken into account. The primary choice for all was to find an advantageous marriage in which their money needs would be provided for by their husbands while they cared for the house and family. For those born into titled and wealthy families this expectation of matchmaking was a given and yet if a match could not be made those old maids in the making had the security of a home and yearly allowance. However, what about the gray area of social status given to those girls (soon to be women) who were raised within the sphere of the privileged families but held no claim to title or fortune? Their morally correct options could range from marriage like their better endowed peers to stepping down in station by becoming a governess or going into service in another household.

or

In the struggle to survive on their own, women of the eighteenth century often had to rely on the kindness of friends, family, and strangers depending on their social position—or lack thereof. Sometimes this reliance was wholly acceptable and received without any true art of persuasion or application to the sensibility of their relatives—as was the case of characters like Fanny Price from Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion. But, as made wholly apparent by the stories told by Laura from Love & Friendship and Moll Flanders in the novel that bears her name, not all women had the privilege of a wholly supporting adopted family combined with an honest steadfastness in “temper” to maintain them. Instead, these two women find themselves in more desperate circumstances in which their ideas of sensible necessity drive them to take certain unsavory actions in order to obtain monetary support of the lifestyle they felt was deserved. In their respective novels (or a collection of letters in the case of Laura), these two women attempt to explain the winding course of their lives as a lesson to their intended readers. These creations—supposedly penned by their own hand—represent the use of a written application of art in which appeals to the sensibilities of their readers.

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The following is my act of productive procrastination in an attempt to get out of my head the content and ideas related to a paper that I have due in my class on Dante and His Divine Comedy

The General Prompt: What has happened to the character Dante by the time he encounters Fra Alberigo in Cocytus, Inferno 33b? Review his behavior through the descent. Has he learned to respond to the Damned appropriaely of has he ‘Lost it’? What is the purpose of his reactions and what do I make of how he changes. 

–> according to the professor, how I answer this question will no doubt reflect my theology as well as literary assessment of the Inferno.

 

My rambling Answer that will need to be shaped and expanded with proper analytic details before I hand in as a paper:

 

“When in Rome, do as the Romans Do.” This familiar adage came to my mind as I began going through the descriptions given to us by Dante the Poet of the different interactions he had on his journey through the highly structured levels of Hell. Be it his momentary loss of self as he swoons over the tragic (and condemning story) told by lovers or his outburst of anger and use of deception at the deeper levels of hell, his embodied actions—especially his final two encounters—left me asking questions that I’m not sure I will ever fully come up with answers for.

 

One of these questions deals with the choice of Dante the Poet to include in the pilgrim’s last encounter (but also in the whole of canto 33) a textual allusion to the Sermon on the Mount. According to a footnote provided in the Durling and Martinez translation of the Divine Comedy the “scornful play on the name” of the last soul the pilgrim meets (Alberigo) “is related to the word for ‘tree’ (albero) and draws on the Sermon on the Mount” from Matt. 7.16-20. My question for the presence of this usage of the name is why does he do it—espeically when we look at the other messages present within that chapter of Matthew. For example, the first segment of the chapter places an emphasis on it being the task of God and no other to Judge and then prescribe/carry out punishment. It is possible to answer this question through the “when in Rome” lens by saying that because Hell is an inversion of how a positive reality is supposed to be then of course Dante is supposed to judge because it is the opposite of what Christ said to do. However, I do not want to accept this because although Dante is in hell he cannot do what the condemned and keepers of Hell do because of his state as a living and embodied human being with his poetic soul still attached. Therefore, my confusion is because of this physical state shouldn’t the Pilgrim still need to abide by the Christian values preached in the seventh Chapter of Matthew and the sermon on the mount? Yes, he can be drawn toward and even seduced by sins but these visceral responses are bound to happen because he is still a flawed breathing man with soul and body joined together.

“When in Rome, do as the Romans Do.” This familiar adage came to my mind as I began going through the descriptions given to us by Dante the Poet of the different interactions he had on his journey through the highly structured levels of Hell. Be it his momentary loss of self as he swoons over the tragic (and condemning story) told by lovers or his outburst of anger and use of deception at the deeper levels of hell, his embodied actions—especially his final two encounters—left me asking questions that I’m not sure I will ever fully come up with answers for.

 

One of these questions deals with the choice of Dante the Poet to include in the pilgrim’s last encounter (but also in the whole of canto 33) a textual allusion to the Sermon on the Mount. According to a footnote provided in the Durling and Martinez translation of the Divine Comedy the “scornful play on the name” of the last soul the pilgrim meets (Alberigo) “is related to the word for ‘tree’ (albero) and draws on the Sermon on the Mount” from Matt. 7.16-20. My question for the presence of this usage of the name is why does he do it—espeically when we look at the other messages present within that chapter of Matthew. For example, the first segment of the chapter places an emphasis on it being the task of God and no other to Judge and then prescribe/carry out punishment. It is possible to answer this question through the “when in Rome” lens by saying that because Hell is an inversion of how a positive reality is supposed to be then of course Dante is supposed to judge because it is the opposite of what Christ said to do. However, I do not want to accept this because although Dante is in hell he cannot do what the condemned and keepers of Hell do because of his state as a living and embodied human being with his poetic soul still attached. Therefore, my confusion is because of this physical state shouldn’t the Pilgrim still need to abide by the Christian values preached in the seventh Chapter of Matthew and the sermon on the mount? Yes, he can be drawn toward and even seduced by sins but these visceral responses are bound to happen because he is still a flawed breathing man with soul and body joined together.

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