Tutor profile: Ali K.
Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 contrasts the conventions of love poetry by comparing the speaker's mistress to various things of beauty only to remark on how the mistress falls short of the aesthetic. What may have been Shakespeare's intention for purposefully comparing the mistress to things more beautiful? How does this contribute to the sonnet's final couplet, "And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare / As any she belied with false compare/" (Shakespeare, ln 13-14)?
Shakespeare makes quite a few strategic moves to create the irony of the poem. For one, his choice of the sonnet form indicates a traditional love poem, yet in the first line, "My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun" (Shakespeare, ln 1), he establishes an early distinction from typical romantic imagery. As the poem continues, he does not break this trend and continues to focus on how his mistress falls short of the aesthetic appeal until the final couplet where he demonstrates a reversal towards appreciation. The poem is constructed like a great joke at the expense of traditional love poetry, yet is still a love poem. Shakespeare compares the mistress to many things that are beautiful, but noticeably to things that are not human. Comparisons are widespread in romantic poetry but deviate from reality in favor of an artistic ideal (that human beings are likely to fall short of). Shakespeare, in other words, is being realistic even if it means not being as pretty with his symbolism or as idyllic with his depiction of the mistress. A hint of the true intentions of the speaker is present before the final couplet in the preceding statement, "I love to hear her speak" (Shakespeare, ln 9) quickly followed by another example of the mistress's shortcomings. What this suggests is the true feelings of the speaker which is one of admiration in spite of their unsympathetic depiction. Thus when we come to the final couplet, we can understand that "love rare" (Shakespeare, ln 13) is indicative of the value the relationship has to the speaker. What we can argue is that the speaker finds value in the realness of the mistress in spite of her failure to compare to romantic ideals and therefore understands the rarity and worth of real love opposed to romantic love.
Olivia Butler's novel, "Dawn," reconsiders the concepts of free will, self-determinacy, and the nature of consent in an environment with intelligent beings with inverted sensibilities to humans. As a result, the humans and the intelligent beings known as Oankali differ on the concepts of free will and communicated consent. What plot elements may have caused this relation to exist? What characteristics of both species may attribute to the distinctions?
The first element to consider is the situation of the humans and the Oankali. The captive humans, like the protagonist Lilith, are the survivors of the post-nuclear fallout rescued by the Oankali while the planet is restored. In this case, the relationship between the Oankali and the humans is much like that of humans and an endangered species in captivity. In the precarious situation of the human species, the Oankali recognize that humanity is fatally flawed in being both “intelligent as well as hierarchical" (Butler, 27) and has a tendency to be self-destructive. This tendency is evident in the human beings in captivity that either killed themselves or others, that, to the Oankali, serves as individual examples of the "mass suicide" (Butler, 9) humanity undertook in the nuclear war. The relationship that the Oankali have to the captive humans is not one that began in a position of equity given that the fate of the species is more secure in the care of the Oankali than of the humans. The consent of Lilith and the other humans is therefore fundamentally impeded from the start, as is their sense of self-determinacy in their state of captivity which the Oankali propose is the best for the life of the species. The Oankali and the humans, however, are also in conflict regarding their understanding of will and self-determinacy as a result of their physiology. The Oankali, after all, recognize human intelligence and attempt to treat them with fairness (granted there is still a high degree of captivity experienced by Lilith and the other humans). In spite of some of the similarities between humans and the Oankali, the chief one being language (communication), the Oankali occupy a physical, plural existence while humans occupy an individual, psychological existence. Having originated from a species that existed like coral or schools of fish, the Oankali's fundamental understanding for communication is rooted heavily in the physical (i.e., in touch and sense). They understand existence as something that shared and communicated physically. Humans, on the other hand, are individualistic and base much of their communication on intention and other psychological signals. The many forms of human interaction, seen in written, spoken, and expressive languages, develop an idea of intention as the basis of our communication. Physical stimuli are still a factor in human communication, but it is not a fundamental as it is for the Oankali. The incapability of these two physiological understandings is evident in instances where human characters like Joseph object to propositions made by Oankali characters like Nikanj who responds, "Your body has made a different choice" (Butler, 135). In this relationship, Butler throws off the anthropocentrism or centralized understanding based on human experience, by reconsidering fundamental human concepts like intention and independence in contrast to a physiologically inverse race.
How do I formulate a good thesis?
The thesis of any paper is going to be the argument you are making in your essay expressed in a sentence or a few sentences. A good thesis statement is going to be located in your introductory paragraph as it establishes your position and the structure of your essay. You thus want your thesis to be as strong as possible, which makes clarity and directness essential. The clarity of your thesis refers to your choice of words as well as the statement you are conveying. Things regarding your clarity are vagueness or passive statements, as these will hurt the strength of your thesis. If you are having a hard time with your language, I find it helpful to take a step back and ask yourself directly what you want to write about. Ask yourself, "What do I want to talk about?" and then answer, "I want to argue that _______." You will not get a thesis statement right away, but your response may help shape your thesis with direct language and a basic idea as to where you want to go with your argument. Making a definitive statement is difficult to accomplish and causes many problems with the directness of your thesis by asserting an argument but not a structure for your essay. A useful tip for formulating a working thesis (which serves as a "rough draft" thesis") is using a basic outline like; "I argue _______ because of ______, _______, and _______." In this format, you assert your argument as well as provide three reasons that you will then elaborate on in your following body paragraphs. For more advanced papers, you will want to change your wording but accomplish the same goal. Keep in mind that not every paper will be organized the same. A philosophy paper, for example, is very different than an English paper. This, however, does not mean that your thesis will be drastically different so by considering clarity and directness, you can troubleshoot your working and final thesis.
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