the stylish writings of e. e. cummings

E.E. Cummings is definitely one of the most interesting writers of literature. He did not follow the traditional conventions of poetry that are still used in today’s poetry. Not only did he manage to create poems with unique content, but he also created an interesting way to exhibit his content. Cummings would sometimes ignore the standard rules of grammar, such as capitalizing the first letter of the first word of a line and others. Cummings would also carefully place the words on a page and even use them to create an image to aide the image that he had already created with his poetry. Have other authors used a similar style of writing to aide their material?

“The Sky Was” by E.E. Cummings, which shows the images he would create by word placement.

The answer to this question is yes. There is another author who uses a similar technique in her writings. Her name in Ellen Hopkins. She has written over fifteen books, but she does not write in the traditional style. Her writings are most often in free verse and are also artfully displayed in the page. She writes on more serious topics than E. E. Cummings did. Her most popular series Crank is about a character who suffers from drug addiction and the effect of this on herself and her family. This character is based on Hopkins’ own daughter who also has a past of being an addict.

An excerpt from one of Hopkins’ books.

It is very interesting how the arranging of words on a page can change the entire feeling of the poem or passage. Some of Hopkins’ writings are displayed in a sporadic way on the page and this helps to convey nervousness or being jittery. Cummings most often used the format of his writings to show an image from the poem, but I believe that they also can help convey emotions. Even though it is not a common way to present literature, some might prefer this style. It helps keep the attention of the reader because it is something that they have not seen. Perhaps in future years, Ellen Hopkins and her writings will be studied for her unique style.

A video trailer for Crank, the first book in the Crank series.

The Classic Debate: Books vs. Movies

There have been many people who have debated if books are better than movies or if movies are better than books. Everyone seems to have an opinion about this question, but no one seems to question what the differences between the two really are. It seems that there is really only one major difference between film and written works. This is that there is a battle going on in a reader’s mind while they are watching a film on something that they have read. It is a battle of imagination versus reality.

While reading anything, a reader creates a world that the characters live in and where the story takes place. The characters become real people to them and they develop opinions about what these characters look like, act like, or any other characteristic that the character might have. Many people argue about what characters look like in films. They will even have arguments on the internet over how the actor chosen to portray a certain character is completely wrong. In “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” The main character looked differently in my imagination than he did in the film. However I am not a hardcore fan of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” so this does not affect me in any way.

*LANGUAGE* A fan crying over Ben Affleck being cast as Batman…

Another problem for films is that movies are time constricted. For many people, a story can live on in their minds and they will remember any detail about the story. When they go to the movie theater and they do not see their favorite scene from a movie portrayed as they remember it, they may become very upset. I myself have been somewhat distraught when there is a scene left out that I find crucial to the plot line. This is because the directors will have to find a way to connect the points in a different way. An author could spend months trying to piece together the ending of a story, and the director of the film could ruin it in a second. Endings are a great example of this.

The ending of It: one of the most confusing endings of all time if you did not read the book.

There are certain things that directors can change in a script based on a work of literature that can make or break the movie. It is one of the risks that one takes when turning fiction into a form of “reality” that is only viewed on screen. There are certain films, like The Hunger Games and One Night with the King that accurately tell the stories that they are based off of. They are very close to the original stories, and the script is changed in ways that allow the original story to still make sense. In The Snows of Kilimanjaro, there is a very large plot change, essentially the entire ending sequence, that make me feel that it is not as good of a film adaptation that it could have been. It really reminded me of the difference in the film and book version of My Sister’s Keeper. A director should not kill anyone or let any one live in a script that in the book the author has not allowed to do so. More directors would have successful fan bases  if they realized this.

A Streetcar Named Desire is Almost Next to Normal

There are many things that plays and musicals have in common with one another. However, it seems that recent drama works do not have that much in common with older works unless they are new adaptations of an older work. So, a question came to me while seeing A Streetcar Named Desire. Is there a modern drama that relates to this great work of literature? This is when Next to Normal came to mind.

Next to Normal is a musical about a woman named Diana who has Bipolar Disorder and greatly suffers from it. She is also trying to come to terms with the fact that her son is deceased because she can still see him. Her husband Dan is also suffering from depression as a result of his wife’s mental illness and the loss of their son. In some productions of the musical, Dan seems to be physically abusive to his wife because of his inability to deal with her disorder. The musical also shows the suffering of their daughter Natalie and her new relationship with Henry, one of her classmates. The musical encourages the audience to understand that mental illness is something that effects everyone in some way or another, whether they themselves personally suffer from a mental illness or if they know someone who does, and that it nothing to be ashamed of.

  A clip from Next to Normal. Warning: It does include some language and suggestive themes.

In comparison with this, A Streetcar Named Desire details the life of Blanche DuBois and her sister Stella Kowalski. Blanche’s visit to her sister completely disrupts the dynamic of her sister and her brother-in-law’s relationship. Her brother-in-law Stanley is abusive to Stella and eventually to Blanche. He is demanding and controlling over all of those in his life. He eventually has Blanche institutionalized at the end of the play. Stella is definitely a victim in this story, although she is also a willing participant. It is also evident in the play that Blanche DuBois is also suffering from suffering.

Blance DuBois’ famous monologue from A Streetcar Named Desire. In the stage version. it is evident that her lover’s weakness was that he was homosexual. It is referred to as a weakness in the 1950 film.

DuBois seems to suffer from a mental illness, other than her evident depression over the loss of her homosexual lover. Her character is apparently based off of Tennessee Williams’ sister who also suffered from a mental illness and was eventually institutionalized. DuBois could have suffered from even more than one mental illness. DuBois seems to suffer from Antisocial Personality Disorder. She has no regard for those around her feel because she acts as if her opinion is the only one that counts. She is also a pathological liar who fears being outed to those in her new surroundings because she ashamed of how she has acted in the past. It could even be argued that DuBois suffered from Bipolar Disorder herself, like Diana in Next to Normal. She has a lot of mood swings, with most of them caused by self-inflicted suffering. She also seems to do things completely out of her own character at times. She thinks very highly of herself, yet she does things that she looks down at others for. It would not be a stretch to say that she suffered from either of these mental illnesses.

It seems that both of the female leads in these works of drama are suffering from something that only they can describe. They both needed people wiling to support them, but they were unfortunate to find anyone willing to support them until after they put into extreme circumstances that forced them to get help and support. The fact that both plays won the Pulitzer prize for drama is no surprise because they were both very inspiring works. They addressed mental illness in a way that it had not been done before, and showed how troubling mental illnesses can be.

T.S. Eliot and Langston Hughes: A Comparison and Contrast

T.S. Eliot

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes and T. S. Elliot were two of the most influential writers of their time, and they continue to impact people today. Although most might assume that the writers were very different, they actually had a lot in common. Through they had their differences, they addressed various issues in society during their lifetime. They desired change, so they sought to inspire it in others.

Both of the writers were Modernist writers. Modernism itself is a very broad category that literature can fall into, so it is easy to say that this is something that both writers had in common. However, there are some main points associated with Modernism that Langston and Eliot both shared. They both tried to approach literature in a way that had not previously been explored before. Both also wrote about how the things had been done up to the point in their writings was not the way that they ought to be done. They had specific “causes” to which they were dedicated.

Although these “causes” were very different, the writers saw where changes that need to be made in their respective worlds that they lived in. They used their best weapon, writing, in order to try to change how others felt about various groups of people. They saw that there were things that needed to change in American society. The way that things were being done was not the proper approach to the problems being faced, and certain traditions caused more harm than good and needed to be broken.

The main difference in the writings of the pair as previously mentioned is that their “causes” were different. Langston Hughes‘ writings address how important it is to look past what makes people different, like race, and to band together in order to try and improve society. T.S. Eliot‘s writings address how important it is to know that the individual has a voice and that they can use it, no matter what walk of life they may come from.

Both of these writers continue to have a major influence over others, including myself. Previous to this blog assignment and studying Modernism, I was not exactly sure what the modernist period of literature entailed. I now want to read more examples of this type of literature. This video provides some suggestions for why a person should read Modernist works of literature.

Why you should read modernist literature.

The Grand Design

The poem “Design” by Robert Frost is a very interesting one. It tells of a white spider who has caught a white moth in his grasp on a white flower. The speaker then begins to ask large questions about the event which could seem small and unimportant to many living in today’s society. Through imagery and the thought provoking questions it asks, “Design” successfully makes the reader feel what the author is trying to convey and question what the speaker is also questioning.

A reading of “Design.”

Wordle of “Design'”

The spider, flower, and moth in this poem are all described in vivid detail. The speaker paints a picture for the reader of what he sees happening on the flower. The speaker mentions that the spider, flower, and moth are all white. Normally in literature and in various cultures, the color white represents purity and innocence. This is the main reason why brides wear white on their wedding day in the United States. However, the color white in this poem does not represent these things. It is used to represent the paleness of death, although some would argue that it is used to show delicateness. I think that white is used to convey a combination of the two ideas. To me, it represents how frail all things are and how being frail causes the ultimate end, death, as well.

How much control does God have over life? This is the main question that is asked by the speaker in the poem. The speaker obviously believes that there is a design for all things. In the Bible in the book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, it is shown that there is a design by God for everything that happens. There is a time for life, and as a result of life, a time to die as well. Since it seems to be that there is a design for life, what all is included in God’s grand design? Are the spider, flower, and moth a part of this design? Could something so small really change anything? I think the answer to these questions could be debated for hours depending on a person’s beliefs. However, I personally believe that everything that happens is for a reason, even if it is as simple as a spider eating a moth on a flower. This event obviously had a purpose because it had a large enough impact on the speaker that he decided to tell the story of the event. I do not know how much is encompassed in God’s plan, but I am not God, so that is fine. I would like to think that God would be involved in something so small, even though He is so vast.

Rent as Protest Literature

The Jungle was written by Upton Sinclair in the early 1900s. The novel tells the story of Jurgis Rudkus, an immigrant to the United States, who faces many hardships typical of an individual who lived during the time period. While the characters in the novel are fictional, the book is based on true events and happenings that Sinclair saw individuals experience firsthand during his undercover reporting of the meat industry in Chicago. He exposed the harsh conditions that some were forced to work and live in to many people who did not know that these things were even happening in America. This novel would go on the become one of the great examples of protest literature and what it encompasses.

Protest literature can be used to describe a variety of literary works because there are many authors who use their writings to bring about change in society. Even though they can be ineffective on a wide scale, they can bring about change on a more personal level. However, they can also change the opinions of large groups as well. Protest literature is about seeing an issue that needs to be addressed, addressing it effectively, and presenting it in a way that its intended audience will pay attention to it.

Jonathan Larson is a playwright who is very popular among musical theater enthusiasts. This is because of his musical production Rent, a modern story telling of Puccini’s classic opera La BohemeRent is the story of a group of friends living at the end of the 1980s in New York City who have many obstacles that they have to overcome. The largest of these obstacles is AIDS and its impact on those who saw what it could do to an individual. AIDS was first observed in 1981 and was very lethal. One of the scariest things about AIDS was that many people did not know how it was contracted and there were not any forms of treatment that seemed to help those who suffered from it. Larson addressed this issue because it was one that he was experiencing with several of his colleagues during what seemed to be the height of the AIDS epidemic. HE believed that it just made sense to address the issue that he knew many of his peers suffered from. This is because it was an issue that not many individuals were even acknowledging at the time in the musical theater community, even though many in that same community suffered from AIDS and HIV. 

Rent is a work of literature that Larson used to show what sufferings those who lived in the art communities were experiencing. The musical show brought those who had AIDS, those who lost loved ones to AIDS, and those who were ignoring AIDS together in a way that could not have been done nearly as effectively if it had been simply a novel or a speech. Rent continues to move people today and motivates some to find the cure for such a terrible illness that affects so many.

“Will I?” from the movie version of the Broadway hit Rent, shows the emotions that some experience will living life with AIDS.

The Jungle and Rent were written in order to try to make a difference in someone’s lives based on what the writers themselves had experienced while living in the conditions comparable to their characters. Both writers use emotion in order to convict the readers that changes have to be made and that cures have to be found. Although they focus on very different subjects, there is one thing that both of these works have in common: a desire to expose something that others might avoid in order to make it so unavoidable that it cannot be ignored. 

 

Johnny Manziel: Modern Ida B. Wells?

Ida B. Wells had one of the largest influences on the racial equality movement during her lifetime. She was dedicated to saving the lives of innocent people from lynching by exposing lynching for what it truly is: murder. She wrote about how horrible lynchings were and about how they were used to show that African Americans were somewhat powerless in the South. She is a highly regarded author and activist for her works on exposing lynching. She influenced many of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

It is recorded that there was a specific event that began Wells’ crusade against racial injustice. This event occurred when Wells was asked to leave the first class seat she had paid for to a seat in the smoking car so a white man could have her seat on a train ride to Memphis. She refused and was physically removed from the car. She would go on to sue the railroad company, and she would win. However, the verdict would be overturned due to the railroad company’s appeal to the court.

Over half of a century later and 230 miles away, a similar incident would occur. However, this would be an event that most American children will learn about in their history classes growing up. Rosa Parks would be asked to give up her seat on the bus for a white man. When she refused, she was arrested. This event is given a great amount of credit for starting the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S. After the incident, Rosa Parks would be called the “Modern Ida B. Wells” due to the overwhelming similarities of the events that both of the women experienced.

 More information on Rosa Parks and her life.

However, there is a new character who is being called the “Modern Rosa Parks” by at least one writer. Johnny Manziel, of Texas A&M football and Heisman fame, was recently called this by Jen Floyd Engel of Fox Sports. Manziel is currently facing troubles from the NCAA because of his attempt to sell his own autographs. This comparison is made by Engel to show that Manziel might be the player to make a major changes concerning whether or not NCAA players should be further compensated. In other words, that Manziel could be to college football what Rosa Parks was to the Civil Rights Movement. Many have been offended by this, and for good reason. Even though the writer meant for this to be a hyperbole, it has still been taken out of context due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Manziel: Is he really comparable to Rosa Parks?

Both Ida B. Wells and Rosa Parks were extraordinary women who experienced and created some of the most important events in history. To compare a college football quarterback, even if he has a Heisman Trophy, is almost absurd. These women made a difference in the lives of others. What difference will Johnny Manziel’s autograph make?