Betsy’s School

April 4, 2007

Addiction

Filed under: School — Betsy @ 1:55 pm

Here is a paper I wrote on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde about addiction and its tyrannical nature:

Many unsuspecting window shoppers find themselves wooed by the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and are soon sitting in the shop, sipping a latte.  Are they placating a need, or simply having a treat?  In the literary classic, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, published in 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson inadvertently portrays addiction throughout his story.  Dr. Jekyll’s life exemplifies the tyrannical nature of addiction, which often leads to destruction.

The dangerous nature of dictatorial addiction results from a lack of self-control, giving in to an addiction repetitively to the point where it controls a person.  This is not the single enjoyment of something good, but, the overpowering need to partake, like Jekyll.  Although, one might claim there is such a thing as a good addiction, more correctly, it is a good habit, whereas addiction has a negative effect.  “I began to spy a danger that… the balance of my nature might be permanently overthrown …” (68)  

Jekyll displays his despotic addiction in the window incident during the rising action of the story.  While Jekyll was conversing with Utterson and
Enfield, suddenly, “… the smile was struck out of his face and succeeded by an expression of such abject terror and despair…” (40)  Within seconds, Hyde’s tyrannical nature took over, not only destroying his conversation by slamming the window, but ruining the good relationship with his shaken friends.  In today’s culture, addiction can become a top priority for a person, pushing out friends, and having dire consequences, just like Jekyll.

The overpowering theme of this classic is also illustrated when Jekyll throws aside Hyde, determining to lead a life without him.  For two months, Jekyll remained clothed and in his right mind.  “He entertains, devotes himself to charity, and is highly sociable.” (Nelson)  But, he neither destroyed the potion, nor the remnants of Hyde.  If an individual wants to overcome an addiction, he must destroy anything that would tempt him to return to its undesirable path.  Jekyll knew that for his situation, “…to be tempted, however slightly, was to fall.” (69)  But, the temptation was too strong, and his self-control too weak.  “… at last, in an hour of moral weakness, I once again compounded and swallowed the transforming draught.” (69)  Tyrannical Hyde had been caged for too long, “… and he came out roaring.” (69)  James Roberts noted, “Edward Hyde began appearing whenever he wanted to…,” forcing Jekyll to stay secluded.  Jekyll’s Goliath grew to be uncontrollable. Although, “Stevenson suggests that once one gives free rein to their evil tendencies, there is no going back,” (Sauder) this is not true.  While a person lives, it is never too late for God’s saving grace, if the person is ready to repent, and wants help to overcome his problem.

Domineering addiction for Jekyll ceases in the climax of the story, when Hyde commits suicide, destroying Jekyll’s life and reputation by the exposure of his dual personality.  Here, “Stevenson stresses the importance of reputation in Victorian England…” (Nelson) Utterson delayed involving the authorities in an attempt to save face.  Jekyll’s reputation and scientific life was shattered, his dream to discover a purely good self lost forever, and his science lab lay in ruin. With Jekyll’s destruction, everything else went with him.  This scenario can be applied in today’s culture.   An individual’s addiction, whether alcohol, drugs, etc., if they let it overcome them, it will most certainly end in destruction.  Everything one ever worked for could splinter to pieces because of the addiction.  

 Robert Louis Stevenson is warning today’s culture through Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, exposing the tyrannical nature of addiction, and how it often leads to destruction.  Although Stevenson didn’t live the values that he preached, his writing still has an impact.  Be challenged to catch and smother addiction before its hold is too strong and powerful enough to be irresistible.  When that wonderful aroma woos those unsuspecting window shoppers into the coffee shop, they will simply be treating themselves to a delicious latte, because they have learned from Jekyll’s mistakes, and haven’t chosen his unfortunate path.  They can sip with content, and give no second thought to it.  There is no monster in its shadow. 

Word Count: 694

 

 

 

Works Cited 

Nelson, Brittany. GradeSaver: ClassicNote: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Study Guide. Gradesaver.  2007.  9 March 2007 <http://www.gradesaver.com/classicnotes/titles/jekyll/section3.html>

  

Roberts, James L. CliffsNotes on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Character Analysis: Dr. Henry (Harry) Jekyll.  2007. 9 Mar 2007 <http://www.cliffsnotes.com/WileyCDA/LitNote/id-88,pageNum-27.html>.

Sauder, Diane.   PinkMonkey: Free Study Guide of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Overall Analyses: Literary Criticism.  PinkMonkey.com. 2000.  8 March 2007. <http://pinkmonkey.com/booknotes/monkeynotes/pmJekyll36.asp>

 Stevenson, Robert Louis.  The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. 
New York: Oxford University Press (World’s Classics), 1998. 

January 15, 2007

Pride

Filed under: School — Betsy @ 7:55 am

Here’s my most recent paper that we turned in today for Literary Analysis.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on pride!

It has destroyed rulers, taken lives, turned brother against brother, separated lovers.  It was the original sin.  It can be obvious or obscured, appealing or hideous.  Pride.  This destructive attitude is difficult to portray, but, Edmund Spenser tackles it in his first book of the Faerie Queene series, Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves, translated by Roy Maynard (1999).  Originally published in 1590, This allegorical epic follows the journey of Redcrosse, a young, amateur knight and Una, his lady, who overcome life’s trials and errors, and slay a dragon.  One of the most prominent themes of this poetic work is pride, and the danger it brings.

This theme of pride is shown throughout the plot, characters, and setting.  In the plot, upon reaching Error’s den, Una cautions Redcrosse not to enter, but because of his youthful pride, he plunges in and bouts with Error, who nearly kills him.  This amateur knight’s prideful attitude is also evident in the rising action when Redcrosse volunteers to go and challenge Despair, confident that he is strong enough.  Unfortunately, his mind is weak, and he almost kills himself, believing in Despair’s logical, persuasive, and suicidal words.  Fortunately, in the denouement, Redcrosse overcomes his pride when he slays the dragon, understanding that he needs God’s strength to overcome his foe.  Pride is also portrayed through the characters of this allegorical epic.  “Proud Lucifera…” (Maynard 77), queen of the House of Pride,  could hardly bring her eyes so low to speak, telling Redcrosse and Duessa to rise.  Redcrosse sheds his armor, thinking he is safe from the House of Pride.  Consequently, while unprotected and exposed, Giant Orgoglio, Italian for pride, captures Redcrosse and throws him in his dungeon.  The setting of this book also portrays this prominent theme.  The House of Pride.  Its visitors are vain, and  “…Each others greater pride does spite.” (Maynard 77)  Its road is wide, and foundation sandy.  In contrast Spenser presents the House of Holiness that is free from pride, has a narrow gate, and is built on a firm foundation.  All these examples describe how pride is exposed through the book’s plot, characters, and setting.

          The religious turmoil Spenser lived in formulated his view of pride, showed the dangerous aspects of it, and provided the young men of his time with an example of virtue free from it.  Spenser’s observation of the Catholic Church, while it was butting heads with the Protestants, confirmed his view of pride, which he illustrated in the House of Pride.   Spenser believed pride lead to self-focus, caused a person to rot, and could be either obvious or obscured.  The House of Pride was exalted and appealing on the outside, but,  “… all the hinder [hidden behind] parts that few could spy,/ Were ruinous and old but painted cunningly.” (Maynard 74)  As Shakespeare once wrote, “All that glitters is not gold …” (Shakespeare)  Spenser’s accusation of pride in the Catholic Church was well founded.  The antagonists of this story allude to the Catholic Church, so it is reasonable to assume that Spenser observed inexcusable pride in the hierarchy of the church.  Some of the leaders were self-centered, obvious in their extravagantly ornate clothing and lavish living.  The Catholic Church was rotting inside, due to its corrupt leadership.  Just like the House of Pride, it looked substantial on the outside, but was rotting within.  Spenser recognized this, and showed two dangerous aspects of pride in his book.  The obvious, and the obscured.  Obvious like Lucifera, queen of the House of Pride.  Obscured, like Redcrosse, when he shed his armor, thinking he was safe from the House of Pride.  The purpose of Spenser’s book wasn’t just to expose pride in the Catholic Church, but to “… fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline…” (Bartleby.com)  In this old English letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, Spenser explained his purpose of the Faerie Queene series.  Seeing the lack of virtues in the young men of his time, he wanted to warn them of pride’s dangers.  So, he formulated his view of pride, showed its dangerous aspects, and modeled success for young men to overcome it.

             Spenser’s portrayal of pride is praiseworthy, applicable today, and universal.  Spenser did a laudable job illustrating pride and showing two different aspects of it.  Of the two, obscured pride is the more dangerous than obvious pride, because one doesn’t always know they are doing it, and it is difficult to discern.  Spenser made it applicable for today, by portraying Redcrosse as an Everyman which a reader from the 16th century as well as the 21st can relate to.  Because of its universal theme, one can find the consequences of pride in history, movies, and the Word of God.  Hitler ended in suicide after his unsuccessful attempt to conquer the world, Anakin fell to the dark side after he resented the Jedi Council because his pride overtook him, and Nebuchadnezzar ended up eating grass for a time, because he took all the credit for himself instead of recognizing that God had blessed his kingdom.  From Satan’s fall to eternity, pride has been and always will be a problem.  However, one can overcome pride with God’s help, just like Redcrosse, who finally defeated the dragon by putting his faith in God, not relying on his own strength, but embracing, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (New King James Version. Philippians 4:13)  Word Count:  899 

November 25, 2006

True Selflessness

Filed under: School — Betsy @ 10:57 am

This was the paper I wrote 2 weeks ago that compared the two short stories “The Selfish Giant” (Oscar Wilde) and “Where Love is, God is” (Also known as Martin the Cobbler by Leo Tolstoy). 

         

Of all the character traits people strive for in their lifetime, the one that continues to be the most elusive is selflessness.  Oscar Wilde’s short story, “The Selfish Giant”, and Leo Tolstoy’s “Where Love is, God is”, both address this desirable attribute, but approach it in two different ways.  “The Selfish Giant” is about a giant who expels some children from his garden.  After his heart is touched by a little boy, he reopens his garden to them.  Later, the Giant is invited to accompany the little boy to his garden of paradise.  The story of “Where Love is, God is” begins with Martin, a cobbler, who after the loss of his wife and son, finds his purpose in life by learning to following Jesus.  After having a vision in which he will meet Christ, he begins to help people, and meets Christ through them.  The primary theme throughout these two books is selflessness. 

          Published in 1888, Oscar Wilde’s, “The Selfish Giant”, illustrates the theme of selflessness through many elements, but primarily through the main character, a giant.  When the Giant realizes “how selfish I have been” (Wilde 3), he experiences a change of heart.  His awareness of a prolonged winter, and hoping that “there will be a change in the weather” (Wilde 2), helps this change to occur.  The Giant then knocks down the wall that had prevented the children from coming in, and reopens his garden to the children.  The conflict, which asks if the Giant will ever get rid of his selfishness, is answered by this act of selflessness.  This brings the theme to the surface, and is perhaps the most vivid example of his change of heart. 

          Leo Tolstoy’s story, “Where Love is, God is”, was published in 1885 and also deals with the theme of selflessness.  Martin, the cobbler, is struggling to find his purpose in life, and when an old friend comes to visit and urges him to live for God, Martin does so.  Like Christ, he began to selflessly provide food, tea, money, and shelter to the “unfamiliar boots” (Tolstoy 3) and friends around him.  “Come, friend, sit down and have some tea.”  (Tolstoy 3)  His selfless acts of hospitality and servitude reflected Christ, and gave God the opportunity to use Martin to touch other’s lives.  Through the conflict in wanting to meet Christ, Martin’s selflessness helps him to experience Christ through his acts of kindness towards others.  “Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren even these least, ye did it unto me.”  (Tolstoy 7)  Martin unknowingly “met” Christ three times through the people he served.  Like Martin, Tolstoy became a Christian later in life.  Tolstoy at one point tried to selflessly give all of his property away, but his wife intervened.  Martin selflessly gave to the needy and touched lives through Christ.  In the same way, Christ was imitated through him. 

          In “The Selfish Giant” and “Where Love is, God is”, there are some similarities and differences in the themes of these two works regarding selflessness.  Both books start out with their main characters as being self-focused.  The Giant “was a very selfish Giant” (Wilde 1) and excludes others from his garden.  Martin approaches life from a selfish perspective because he didn’t understand why God had let his wife and son die.  He could only view his misfortune from his selfish point of view.  However, both characters were able to put aside their selfish ways, and were reborn through Jesus Christ, becoming selfless like Christ.  Wilde made his Giant’s conversion more metaphorical while Tolstoy’s cobbler was more straightforward.  The change to selflessness by these two characters was also a result of different motives.  The Giant was selfless in order to make both him and the children happier, whereas Martin was selfless out of his desire to serve God.   

          The unselfish acts performed by Martin and the Giant are something that anyone can attain, but there are flaws in the portrayal of the Giant’s selflessness that need to be addressed.  Wilde’s depiction of selflessness through the Giant is less praiseworthy because it was rooted in the desire to obtain personal happiness by making the children happy.  This approach was formed by Wilde’s worldview, which was influenced by two popular philosophies prominent during his lifetime.  The concept of the Giant sharing his garden (property) with the children represented Wilde’s socialistic ideas.  Also, Wilde’s depiction of the Giant’s motive to become selfless in wanting to be happy along with the children may have been influenced by the “it’s all about you” Decadent movement.  This is where Wilde went wrong.  You cannot become truly selfless by looking for your happiness along with others.  No matter what the Giant did to show selflessness, it would never be a true selflessness unless he did it through Christ.  True selflessness is serving others through Christ, without consideration of oneself.  Martin’s actions reflect this in the second story.  The cobbler understood the true meaning of selflessness and served others through and for Christ, and by His love.  The selflessness that Martin portrayed was only possible through Christ, a concept that continues to remain elusive for some, and one of the hardest yet most important ways one can live for Him.  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (New International Version, Philippians 4:13) 

 

Word Count: 889

October 15, 2006

Welcome!

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Betsy @ 9:58 pm

Hello everyone,

I just created this, so I’ll be changing stuff around and taking some time to get on my feet.

Thanks for being patient,

Betsy

Blog at WordPress.com.