Raven Symoné

Raven Symoné

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Satire in Persuasion

Jane Austen's Persuasion revolves around Anne Elliot, reserved daughter of fatuous and snobbish Sir Walter, and the trials and tribulations in both her family and love lives. Jane Austen focuses on satire in many of her great works, from Pride & Prejudice to Sense & Sensibility to her latest work Persuasion, where she pokes fun at the social extravagance and absurdity of her time. Many characters in Austen's Persuasion encompass the satirical ideas that she was looking to shed light on. Firstly, Anne's father, Sir Walter could most likely be the most satirical character in the entire novel for a few reasons. Firstly, Sir Walter is extremely vain and has multitudes of mirrors set up in his house, showing Austen's mocking of her society's complete arrogance and conceitedness. Sir Walter is also a satirical character due to his constant obsession with class and/or rank. This obsession is exemplified in a few of Walter's actions throughout Persuasion: initially, Sir Walter's favorite book is the Baronetcy (a book of all of the class and ranking of people in his society). Also, Walter refuses to associate with a man of the navy due to both their low class and ugly, worn out features. These both show satirical elements as he was so obsessed with rank, yet he frivolously spent money to the point of him moving out of his own home to control spending: clear irony (as well as showing his obsession with the superficial through his hatred of Navy men, Austen's way of satirizing the vanity of her time). Sir Walter's vanity (in both physicality and ranking), a purposely satirized element in his character is obvious throughout the text, very directly characterized by Austen: "Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot's character; vanity of person and of situation. He considered the blessing of beauty as inferior only to the blessing of a baronetcy; and the Sir Walter Elliot, who united these gifts, was the constant object of his warmest respect and devotion" (Austen 6). 
Other satirical characters include Elizabeth Elliot, much like her father, vain and arrogant, who although is so full of herself and obsessed with her "beauty", as well as being the older sister, is still single and quite lonely. This ironic element Elizabeth exemplified shows Austen's twisting of a usual family's values and practices back in her day. Overall, it's clear that Austen uses satire to poke fun at her society's slightly twisted and self-absorbed ways in Persuasion. By bringing out characters' flaws such as vanity and class-hunger, Austen successfully portrayed these foibles as crucial elements of her satirical games she so greatly demonstrates so very often. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

WAYGWHYB Movie vs. Story Comparison

     "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" a story by Joyce Oates follows the stories of the murders of three girls from Arizona. After the popularity of this story (which was based off of a true story), a movie recreation was born. A product of the 80's: Chopra's "Smooth Talk". In WAYGWHYB, Oates ends the story with Connie, the protagonist, freeing herself from all of her restrictions and letting herself go to Arnold Friend's control. Although the gruesome details are not written about at the end of WAYGWHYB, it can be assumed that Connie is murdered due to the story being based off of a news article about the murdering of three girls, one being Connie. On the other hand, "Smooth Talk" portrays a different story as the movie comes to a close. After Connie gets into the car with Friend and they "go for a ride", Connie is suddenly returned home after a, literal, drive around in his car. As a reader of WAYGWHYB and the news article about the killings of these girls, I was, as a viewer, expecting a completely different ending and was shocked and confused about why Chopra decided to end "Smooth Talk" on a different note: returning Connie to her house as if nothing occurred. Whether Connie was raped or not can't be assumed, but the fact that she returns to her home a changed woman is apparent. Connie's development before and after this climactic (or anti-climactic) moment is discussed in Brenda O. Daly's "An Unfilmable Conclusion: Joyce Carol Oates at the Movies".
     At the beginning of the movie, Connie is demonstrated by Chopra as trapped: trapped by her mother's always overbearing grasp on her life and obsession with finding little things to reprimand her on, and trapped by her obsession with love and sex, causing her to almost feel overwhelmed with unsatisfied feelings. This is directly correlated in not only the story, but also physical and cinematic aspects of the movie as Daly explains: "Every time Connie is on screen, she’s shot in close-up...with no space around her, pinned to the tiny unmovable frame”. This supports the idea that Connie was literally not only, as she felt, trapped emotionally, but also physically in her life which is reflected through the metaphor of the actual shot that Chopra used in the movie. The eventual development of Connie's character is next seen through Arnold Friend's shots. Friend is shot in very wide shots, a metaphor, as Chopra explains, for the freedom that Friend gives Connie; a chance to be herself, and not worry about the restrictions that she feels are on her life put on by her family and friends. 
     Through this, it's clear that Chopra intentionally did not shoot the gruesome ending to the story, because it was not important to the point of the story that she intended to get across. Connie's development is shown as she leaves Friend's shiny gold car and realizes that her dependency on men was not as required as she once believed; that freedom and a world open for her taking was up to her. Overall, it's clear that through Chopra's interpretation of Oates' story, the crucial theme of independence and Connie's constant search for it is gotten across and effectively establishes a successful bridge between the text and cinematic version of this iconic and classic piece of literature.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Parallels in "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" & "Dont You Know Who I Am?"

Oates's Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? tells a haunting story of a typical teenage girl whose love-obsessed personality gets the best of her when she is thrown into a truly "life-or-death" situation with an unknown man. Inspired by three Tuscon, Arizona murders, Oates garnered her inspiration for this work from a Life Magizine article profiling the killings. A common theme in both WAYGWHYB and Joyce Wegs's critical paper "Dont You Know Who I Am?"... is religion: themes through Connie's interests in music and daily actions. Music functions as a bridge for Connie to escape from reality to fantasy, away from her overbearing mother to a world of pure bliss: “The music was always in the background, like music at a church service; it was something to depend upon” (Oates 120). Connie explains that music is her religion, the object of worship at the service that completely takes over her existence. Wegs further explains Connie's attachment to music as her religion through her embodiment of the superficial, love-obsessed characteristics in much of, specifically, Bob Dylan's lyrics. Connie's complete infatuation with love comes to surface when Arnold Friend approaches Connie, a seemingly youthful and experienced lover, embodying all of the characteristics Connie and other girls her age at the time swooned over. Through this, it is understood that Connie's religion is not only music, but the perfect boy that music spoke of at the time, leaving her so vulnerable and able to be taken advantage of: "...her first glance makes Connie believe that a teenage boy with his jalopy, the central figure of her religion, has arrived; therefore, she murmurs 'Christ, Christ' as she wonders about how her newly-washed hair looks (Wegs 103). In conclusion, it's clear that Connie's disregard for typical warning signs due to her unchangeable goal in life being finding love get her into trouble, making her the target in Arnold's sick game. As music runs her life, as well as the themes the music Connie listens to brings, a complete disregard for the reality of a situation and the growing oddity of Arnold Friends persona, is clear in her choices. As Arnold's true identity is slowly revealed to Connie: the makeup rubbing off, the wig falling off, the seriousness of Connie's obsession with love, is revealed as she lacks the judgement to stop herself from completely letting herself go to a man she is completely fooled by: "She watched herself push the door slowly open as if she were back safe somewhere in the other doorway, watching this body and this head of long hair moving out into the sunlight where Arnold Friend waited" (Oates 131).
Works Cited:
Oates, Joyce Carol. “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Where Are You Going, Where      Have You Been? Ed. Elaine Showalter. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002. Print.

Wegs, Joyce M. “‘Don’t You Know Who I Am?’ The Grotesque in Oates’s ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’” Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Ed. Elaine Showalter. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002. Print.