Tutor profile: Emily W.
What is the “process writing approach” and is it an effective process for all writers?
In the past couple of decades, an enormous amount of writing has been don on the process of writing. I was taught this same process throughout my academic career. The process focuses on prewriting, drafting, revision, peer review, and, ultimately, publication, which, for a student, would mean turning in a paper to his or her professor. The prewriting, or brainstorming, process encourages students to look up resources, think of what they want to write about and how they might organize their argument. The drafting, peer review, and revision processes are meant to help the writer see how he or she could strengthen his or her argument, premise/idea, and overall structure and organization. By going through those processes, the final step, publication, is made more successful, because the writer has taken the time to consider his or her argument from all angles in order to create a truly polished piece. However, this process, as beneficial as it is, is not equally effective for everyone. The process isn’t effective for everyone, because not every writer goes through the process. While many find it effective to brainstorm, prewrite, and revise, especially if the material is new to them, many writers simply put down what they want to say to their readers. This type of writer might perform a bit of editing, but they generally do not focus on the opinions of others. Moreover, because the process is essentially about promoting “discovery,” an abstract idea about finding new topics and new ways to write about that topic, it will not be effective for every type of writing. Writers can and do write about what they know already, so a process emphasizing discovery becomes redundant. Moreover, not all writers will enjoy or benefit from the “group” process that is peer review. When others have a hand in the writer’s work, the meaning, and, some might argue, the “heart,” of the piece are changed, because the reviewers do not share the same vision for the piece that the writer has for it. Essentially, the process can be highly beneficial, especially for writers who are looking to discover what it is that they are writing or arguing; however, for a writer that already knows his or her topic well, going through the process can circumvent the author’s original purpose for the piece. It would be beneficial for each writer to consider where he or she lies in terms of his or her pre-existing knowledge and whether he or she already has an idea for the piece of writing. Additionally, it is important for the writer to know whether their writing thrives with peer input and multiple revisions or whether he or she can maintain the integrity of his or her writing without outside assistance.
In Shakespeare's Othello, the character Othello, ultimately, dies because of the effects of his jealousy. However, Othello Is not the only jealous character in the play. Who else does Shakespeare doom through his jealousy, and how does the reader know that character also suffers from jealous rage?
In Othello, Shakespeare emphasizes Iago’s own jealousies to show his motives for driving Othello into jealousy. Iago manipulates Othello’s thoughts in order to assert his power over the moor’s mind, and his power is further emphasized when Othello asks why Iago created the jealousy plot and Iago refuses to give his reasons. Iago is asserting his dominance by leaving Othello in the dark. Iago says, “Demand me nothing. What you know, you know. / From this time forth I never will speak a word” (5.2.311-312). Iago will not reveal his motives, because He likes to draw the feelings out of Othello. With Othello brooding over his mistake, Iago can feel pleasure at the knowledge that he has bested the moor. Shakespeare suggests that Iago will not reveal his motives, because Iago physically embodies jealousy. Iago mocks Othello for his jealousy even though Iago is the truly jealous one. Iago is clearly jealous of Cassio’s status, and he is also jealous of a rumored relationship between Othello and his wife Emilia. In act one Iago says, “And it is thought abroad that twixt my sheets/ He’s done my office. I know not if’t be true” (1.3.388-389). Iago has heard rumors that Othello has slept with his wife, and if this is true it means that he does not share real love with Emilia. The possibility of a false love may have caused Iago to devalue and hate love. Iago devalues love because he does not have it, but it also makes him jealous of those that do. He desires to have the beautiful love that Othello and Desdemona share, so he created the plot to destroy what he felt he could never have. Iago could never tell Othello that he was jealous of their love, because that would mean he would have to admit he actually valued love. Iago is not simply jealous of Othello’s love life but also his status as an “alpha male.” Iago feels emasculated by Othello, so Iago seeks to put himself on the same level of power as Othello. Iago repeats the idea of putting poison in or abusing Othello’s ear, and the suggestions he breeds through those ears tell a lot about his jealousy. Iago poisons Othello with a false report of what Cassio said in his sleep. Iago painted this fantasy in a way that further shows his jealousy of the love shared between Othello and Desdemona. He imagines himself as Othello lying next to Desdemona, which would put him in the role of the powerful male. Iago is trying to gain power and masculinity by violating Othello’s thoughts and his body by speaking into his ear. Iago’s admittance of his feelings of emasculation would only prove that he is not as powerful and masculine as Othello, so he cannot admit that motive without destroying the image he tried to build for himself.
What is the "pastoral mode," and how does pastoral literature demonstrate the purpose of that mode?
Authors use the pastoral mode to disavow complex city life in favor of a simple, natural life. Moreover, authors who use the pastoral mode focus on Shepherds, whether they are in singing competitions, mourning other shepherds, or their daily life, and the nature that surrounds them. However, I argue that the pastoral lifestyle featured in those works is not used for the sake as simply praising nature, as one might see in Romantic poetry. It is important that pastoral works are written by urban authors for urban readers, so in Greek pastoral works, where the mode began, the pastoral sentiments point to a “golden age” in which the relationship between man and nature is perfect, and nature is the “thing” that doles out punishments. Thus, the rural lifestyle is romanticized and, often, made more beautiful than it actually was. The rural life places the shepherd in a “locus amoenus”, or “beautiful place”, often the mythological home of the pagan god Pan, and almost disregards what a shepherd’s true work would entail in favor of a state of almost perfect leisure. Additionally, because Shepherds are so often connected to poets, priests, and general leaders of men, this mode offers the author multiple ways in which he can make political, religious, and social commentary. I argue that the pastoral mode works to seek a more ideal time in which man is more connected to nature, and it allows the author to provide political or religious commentary, even if the author tries to counteract that commentary later in the poem. First, it is important to touch briefly on the fact that pastoral poems, in observance of Greek traditions, hearken back to Pagan gods and creatures. Milton’s “Lycidas,” an elegiac poem written upon the death of his classmate, calls upon muses and nymphs, and he alludes to Ovid’s untimely demise (being torn apart by nymph’s for his chastity, which they thought was coyness). Moreover, Lycidas is visited both by Phoebus Apollo, god of poetry (and music, medicine, and light) and Alpheus, a rather lusty river-god. The presence of Phoebus Apollo is especially important, because it connects Milton’s work to Virgil’s eclogues, in which Phoebus Apollo also chided the speaker for desiring fame (wanting to leave the pastoral mode behind in favor of epics). We can look to Ben Jonson’s “To Penshurst” for more pagan gods. Jonson inserts Pan, Greek god of the pastoral world, and Bacchus, god of wine, intoxication, and ritual madness, as notable company in his memories of his time at Penshurst. Pan, in my reading is the most notable guest for the pastoral genre, because pan is connected both to shepherds and hunting. Moreover, the sheer mention of these two gods shows how prestigious Penshurst is. Penshurst was so romanticized by Jonson that it was worthy of gods. Penshurst is worthy of those gods, because it connected to nature. Instead of having frivolous things like polished pillars and gold roofs, markers of industrialized society, it delights in soil, air, wood, and water. It has walking trails and a “mount”, which dryads use as a sort of vacation spot. Most importantly, the gods, Pan and Bacchus, have feasted under Penshurst’s beautiful trees. Its connection to nature makes it fair. Jonson emphasizes that nature is beautiful and does not need any man-made decoration like those that appear on other stately homes. The beauty of nature is even more potent once it is connected to humanity. The idealized connection between nature and man is made clear in Edmund Spenser’s first published work, “The Shepheardes Calendar.” “The Shepheardes Calendar” is a collection of twelve eclogues, each named after one of the twelve months of the year. Within the twelve months, namely those associated with holidays/harvest/new growth/etc., Spenser shows various shepherds living in moments of eternal bliss with nature. However, his depiction of Colin Clout is what really shows the connection between mankind and nature, in my reading. By showcasing the changes in human nature, i.e. Colin Clout’s fall from poetry and possible death, from my understanding, in the December eclogue, with the changing seasons, shows that man is set to follow a cycle as the seasons do. Just as the seasons become dreary in the winter months, so does Colin. Colin’s happiness is just as fleeting as the spring. Man and nature, then, are trapped in an endless cycle. To return to Spenser’s assertion that man’s life, like, nature, is cyclical, acts as an indictment of the progress of humanity. Man can make scientific advances greater than the previous age of man could have hoped for, but humanity will still be held back. Whether it is by prevailing political or religious ideals or some natural, biological, or man-made disaster, the history of humanity is doomed to repeat itself. One could argue that with such a dismal view, man is actually disconnected from nature, because nature withers in the winter and is reborn in the spring. However, I argue that the cycle of death and rebirth further connects humanity and nature. Although an individual man cannot be reborn, humanity can be (and has been). At the end of each era, humanity is born anew as it strives toward new ideals and ways of life. In this way, Spenser further connects humanity and nature by showing that like nature (the earth itself) man can transcend time, in a way, because the last age paves the way for a new one. If Spenser shows that humanity and nature are connected by their cyclical nature, Milton, in his elegiac poem “Lycidas,” shows that man and nature are physically linked. After the death of Lycidas, the shepherd stand-in for Milton’s classmate Edward King who died at sea, all of nature is affected. The speaker of the poem is forced to pick berries and write before they are in season because Lycidas is dead. Just like Lycidas, the berries are plucked from the vine before they can come into their prime. While Lycidas was alive, the stars were bright and the fields were full of dancing satyrs and fawns and their beautiful music. However, the speaker shows that upon Lycidas’s death, the woods and caves are overgrown with vines while plants lose their leaves or become covered in frost. Even the flocks are tainted with worms. It is only when the shepherd calls out that Lycidas is not dead but shall be reborn anew that there is any hope. As the speaker of the poem tells us, after it is clear that Lycidas will be “mounted high” by him who “walked the waves” (saved by Christ), the shepherd rises and heads towards fresh woods and new pastures. Through the authors’ idealized connections between man and nature, man actually has hope for the future. The connection suggests that humanity, like nature, will always have a chance to begin again. Human life is bound to end, because man cannot live forever (thanks, Adam and Eve). However, man’s connection with nature shows that new life can grow from death and decay. More importantly, the period of regrowth, after the fall of humanity, facilitates the need to begin again, which may allow mankind to start from the beginning, leave behind industrialized society, and connect with nature once more. Furthermore, the pastoral form, specifically its reliance on the presence of Shepherds and the relationship between Shepherds and poets and priests, allows the pastoral author the ability to comment safely on the political, religious, and social goings-on of their time. Consider Spenser’s “Calendar” again. Spenser was a part of a literary group, “Areopagus,” which supported the Earl of Leicester’s views on religion and politics. Spenser published the “Calendar” around the same time of proposed marriage between Queen Elizabeth and the Duc d’Alencon. His work, then, becomes a sort of propaganda against the marriage. In one reading, the "mayden of great bloud" in November, called Dido, is Elizabeth I, "dead" to her people because of the impending French marriage. In another reading, Spenser’s tale might warn against Catholicism in general, which would certainly concern the proposed marriage between the Queen and a Catholic Frenchman. One major piece of evidence to support those readings is that Spenser’s printer, a Puritan Propagandist printed another book about England being swallowed by “another French marriage,” almost had his right hand cut off (the author and publisher did have their right hands cut off). It is no wonder that Spenser’s work was published anonymously. Milton’s work, on the other hand, very clearly calls out the church. Lycidas has four mourners, one of whom is St. Peter (keeper of the pearly gates and “The Pilot of the Galilean lake”). St. Peter indicts the clergy with Lycidas’s death! The audience and the speaker know that Lycidas died at sea, but St. Peter seems to believe that the corrupt clergy caused his death. In this, Milton, or, more rightly, the speaker, calls out the clergy as men who joined only so that they could feed and provide for themselves. The speaker says that the clergy know nothing of the shepherd’s trade, so, if the vocation of a shepherd is equated to that of the priests’ (and even God’s), priest know nothing about leading and providing for a flock. Instead, the clergy take only for themselves. For his day, Milton leaned a little to the “left” to use an anachronistic term, so he may be espousing a more Puritanical view. At that time, Puritans placed the importance of Christianity on the sermon, not the ceremonial liturgy. So the speaker, St. Peter, or Milton is saying that the clergy, unlike Lycidas (or Edward King) care only for worldly goods and earthly gain, as opposed to spreading the word of God. Although each of these pastoral poems deserves pages of close reading, the overview I have provided here shows how the pastoral mode focuses on man’s connection to nature, and the beauty of that connection and nature itself. Moreover, it shows how an author can take a shepherd character and use that shepherd to promote his own concerns and ideologies. For instance, if I were able to continue this essay, I would give additional focus to the ways in which Milton returns to the question he poses in his masque Comus: are the virtuous and virginal truly rewarded? Through that discussion, I could explore the ways in which Milton goes against the Church’s answer (“Yes, the virtuous are rewarded.”) and questions why the virgin/virtuous Lycidas was cut down before he could create poetry and join the clergy (and if he should create more erotic works instead of denying himself, since the “end” might come for him early as well).
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