Thursday, October 22, 2020

Join Me on a Crafty Adventure

Here in the pond of life I find myself either sunning my legs on a lily pad in Monet’s Garden thinking life is fan-froggy-tastic

OR

My legs are perfectly seasoned, breaded and dressed on a plate in a Micheline Five Star restaurant.  


In each situation I make the best of the situation. As a visitor to the Lily Pad, my journey is filled with pivots and plot twists. As an extrovert with Fibromyalgia, navigating through PTSD triggers while sharing my experience, strength and hope life is filled with beauty and practicalities.


It seems for all of us 2020 has been such a year. I am abundantly grateful for the many changes I’ve grown through since July 2019. So many changes happening all at once, it is important to see the extraordinary in the ordinary. Pausing to be in the moment and savor the beautiful. It’s an important focus in developing a new direction for myself through this  constant shifting horizon of opportunities. 


I now teach English as a Second Language (ESL) online through two different tutoring platforms. It is so fun to use my over 35 years of education experience on a new platform. You can find me at Superprof for tutoring in many different forms, reading, math, language development. Working with people from all over the world is perfect for this homebound extrovert.


I am in school with Abilene Christian University Online full time, working to complete my undergrad degree in Psychology and Business.  You can see some of my projects here.




I  am developing an art curriculum for online and at home educators that blends art history and the art style of an Artist. It has already received positive feedback during live streaming sessions.

The Etsy store is available here. Art reflects life, and crafting splashes a bit of beauty into the ordinary. Embroidered dish towels, message boards, and aprons are just the start. Mixed media art is a new medium for me, and infused with words will be a perfect encouragement.  These kinds of Practical Crafts bring a bit of extraordinary into the ordinary. 


So that is precisely what I’ve done. I am inviting you to be part of my process as I grow and develop over the coming months and through the next year. Part of this growth includes a new venture - I am now offering a monthly subscription service.


For a donation of: $36-60   You will receive, monthly for one year, a link to a digital artwork, with an inspirational quote.

For a donation of: $120-$144 You will receive monthly for one year a link to a digital artwork with an inspirational quote AND In the mail package of a Practical Craft. (monthly for one year)


Part of this year’s journey will be blog posts about the classes I’m taking, what I’m learning and how it is all progressing. 2020 was a tough year for all of us, and I look forward to sharing growth and what I call living Tenacious Optimism with you.  If you have any questions, you can leave a comment, or email me at froginparis@gmail.com. If you would like to be a part of this project you can donate through either Paypal: paypal.me/frognparis or Venmo: https://venmo.com/Frognparis.


If you would like to donate, but would not like to be a part of the monthly subscription, leave a comment below.






Wednesday, October 14, 2020

British Literature Portfolio ACU (Part 3)

Weekly Assignments (4)
W7 Assignment 1: God of the Story

I was raised in extreme spiritual abuse by parents who were powerful leaders within the local  christianity community. To answer a topic such as this is difficult for me. Often unsavory for the Believer who enjoyed a Privileged Church experience. I must tread tenderly into the subject. I often dance around the topic in my writing so as to not offend a reader. 

In separating a God of my understanding from the christianity I was raised in. For over 30 years now, I delve deep into theology. It holds the frail ends of my Faith together. The God of my Understanding uses literature constantly to reveal Biblical and theological truths. Those very Tolkien Cauldron Of Story ingredients we’ve talked about over the last session. 

In the noise of the Prosperity Gospel, Charismatic childhood, I met Elijah’s God from 1 Kings 19:11-13. This Story Soup God had a “Still Small Voice” that would call to me through the noise of tongues, demonic possession, praise music, sermons, revivals, vote your “faith”, etc. As I pressed into theology and the writings of the First Century Church, I understood the God who met me as a child. The Jesus who walked with the Disciples and talked about how the Kingdom of God was Now. 

This God was not a “Warrior God.” who made a “glorious sacrifice for my sins.”  This God sat with a woman at the well. This God cooked fish for Peter when he felt lost and alone. This God became flesh and was The Word. I feel safe growing in the warmth of this God of my Understanding. 

Reading through Beowulf, I can see how this First Century Theology shifted. How a Servant God had to become a Warrior God. In Norse Mythology, Oden was a Warrior King. To die in the heat of battle was the way into Valhalla. The narrative of christianity had to shift  and incorporate the Story Soup of the Norse in order for them to see Jesus/God as more powerful than their Oden. I found sifting through the Norse paganism and the Christian narrative fascinating. Observing how, not only did the Anglo-Saxon’s mold to christianity, and lose their cultural integrity. It also reveals a tectonic theological shift within Christianity that still shapes how we practice Evangelicalism today. 

These warrior god themes stretch through the structure of the clergy in Chaucher’s Tales, the tension between Anglicanism and Catholicism in Dr. Faustus, the advocacy of the clergy in Much Ado About Nothing to the imbalance of political power in the oppression writers. God only honors the strong, he ignores the week. God gives us those who suffer to build character in the powerful. This Anglo-Saxon Christianity still holds no equality for all. Not in the way Jesus spoke when he sat with tax collectors and prostitutes. Definitely not the way the Apostle Paul taught when guiding an oppressed first century people in how to interact in a hostile Roman environment.  

It has been centuries since “Christianity” was the oppressed. Once Constitine made it the official religion of Rome, Christianity became the religion of the oppressors. Of course, there are exceptions. The point of Dr. Faustus, Chaucer and others I believe were to expose the oppression. The Church forgot it’s mission. I will continue to read, reflect, write and heal. Undoing a lifetime of wounds and trauma. Nourishing myself within the Gentle Whisper of the God of my Understanding while living out the faith I have been given.

To sit within the margins of humanity, alongside the unsavory. To hold the rejected. Comfort the disillusioned. Hoping that the commonalities of my story will bring hope to others. 

Resources:

Robinson, Bonnie. Getty, Laura. (2018) British Literature I Anthology: From the Middle Ages to Neoclassicism and the Eighteenth Century. University of North Georgia Press. 

1 Kings 19:11-13, New International Version. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20Kings%2019%3A11-13&version=NIVLinks to an external site. Retrieved October 10,2020

Reflection:


The weekly assignments I chose to reflect on were Cultural Values and Influences Beowulf, The Faustian Bargain and the Activist Writers. In examining the cultural values and influences of Beowulf as Christianity was introduced to the Anglo-Saxons it is interesting to see how it morphs the theology of the First Century Church. The beginnings of Christianity was a message of hope to an oppressed people. In bringing it to a culture of power, a servant god was not attractive. This message was open to be bargained with. We see this idea continue throughout the protestant reformation in the ideals of the Faustian Bargain. We as humans have the autonomous authority to negotiate for ourselves with Powers beyond. As writing reflects the attitude of European culture over the 1,000 years this religion for the oppressed became the religion of the oppressors. At the end of our literary journey we are hearing from the voices of the oppressed, They are begging to be heard and seen by a merciful power. To be treated as equals and saved.  

 

Walking through these stages of history again I feel grieved, incensed, and lost. I wonder if God’s kingdom is honestly real. I turn myself to scripture and Jesus’ words that the Kingdom of God is Now. In Luke, the salvation narrative is very different than in Matthew, Mark and John. I will align myself with the Jesus who sat with the marginalized and find God’s Kingdom there.

Weekly Connections (5)

W1 Weekly Connection Post - W1


“So with regard to fairy-stories, I feel that it is more interesting, and also in its way more difficult, to consider what they are, what they have become for us, and what values the long alchemic processes of time have produced in them.”

Selections from “On Fairy Stories,” J.R.R. Tolkien, Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics and Others Essays. Ed. Christopher Tolkien. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co, 1984, pp.109-161.

In my discussion post this week I referenced the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast. It is my favorite for many reasons. I often keep quiet in the present day because on the surface the themes are archaic. 

The main criticism is Beauty is a prisoner of the Beast and is not truly in love with him. Beauty is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. This critique is shallow and frustrating for me. It overlooks Beauty’s origin. The “long alchemic process” that produced this tale:

An ungrateful Prince put under a curse by an Enchantress until he learns how to love unconditionally. 

A Beauty who loves unconditionally and is cursed with a family who takes advantage of her.

The themes in this tale are about what Love honestly is: self sacrifice in both. Equality in both. That beauty is in our actions, not in the way we look. 

Those who dismiss this Faerie Tale devalue the rich character values it offers.

W2 Weekly Connection Post 

In watching Moana this week, I noticed a parallel between Maui and Beowulf. Both had something to prove. Both were brave and faced a monster. Both  heroes overstepped their bounds of confidence. Maui when he stole the heart of Te Fiti so that humans could create themselves. In Beowulf when he went out to conquer the dragon himself. Both heroes allowed pride to cloud their judgment and interrupt the ebb and flow of life. 

Maui to gain the love of human kind, because he was human. His human parents threw him away. Instead of embracing the adoption of the gods he continued to seek the approval of humans.

Beowulf to stay relevant. To not become a weak and helpless king like Hrothgar. If he could not protect his people from the ravages of a dragon, then in the eyes of his people he no longer was a valuable king. Grendel decimated the peace of a great king. Beowulf would rather die in battle than live in terror.

Of course Disney provides us with Moana, a girl to heal the mother's wound.  Allowing the Fates, or Creation to run it's course is a great act of hospitality.

W3 Weekly Connection Post 


In the face of the latest Jerry Falwell Jr. scandal.

I was raised through Jerry Falwell's rise to power. Watching my parents react to the "right to life" movement and "Voting their Conscious". My adolescence was the foundation of what became purity culture with soul ties, my worth was my virginity and only a godly man could rightly align me with God. (Complimentarianism) Mixed in with many other versions of spiritual abuse in the claim of my spiritual growth. 

In watching Jerry Falwell Jr. attempt to spin the story through blaming his wife before the story broke. Watching theAn two story lines unfold,

the secular version: the pool boy's claims that Jerry Falwell Jr. hired him to watch 

and the evangelical version, Jerry Falwell Jr's wife was in sin and Jerry was a victim. 

Jerry Falwell Jr.'s tweets of stepping down as President of Liberty University, then refusing to step down, then stepping down. Finally grossly misquoting Martin Luther King Jr.'s "free at last" with his resignation announcement. 

The next day it was a released that Liberty University gave Jerry Falwell Jr. a 10.5 severance package.

As a former corporate wife, that means the tweets from the day before were part of the extortion negotiations. Holding Liberty University hostage until they paid him to go away. Normal for any typical CEO or Corporate Head. However to see this behavior in the Evangelical world.... is well.. comical.  

And the perfect soft target for satire.

W4 Weekly Connection Post



Doctor Faustus pride deceived him. 

As did many evangelicals in the rise of Jerry Falwell  developing the "Moral Majority."

Along with Bill Gothard, Phyllis Schlafly and others, under the illusion of their intellect and  they developed an narrative. The campaign of the late 1970  and well into the 1980s built on the backs of the televangelists of the 1970s. 

Most of it was slight of hand and parlor tricks, similar to Mephistopheles fulfillment of Doctor Faustus' requests. It seems some of the doctrine and things I witnessed were directly staged from Mephistopheles' show he put on for Doctor Faustus in Rome. Enough chaos for it to be fun for Faustus and feel powerful over people in dynastic control. However,  chaotic enough to unsettle those people in power. All the while, the Mephistopheles' agenda continued on.

To deceive.

To make greater the kingdom.

I've watched over 50 years of what this play explores, arrogance, sloth, greed, pride, lust, wrath, lasciviousness, the seven deadly sins. I've fought the spiritual abuse scars with in myself. I've cried and ached as people I loved were consumed by what they thought was greatness, only to loose the Love of God in the end. All of it through the lens, books, teachings, songs, talks, "insprations" of this  community that began in my childhood.

On my childhood television.

Discussed at my childhood dining room table.

Practiced on the home organ for Sunday morning service I listened to as I fell asleep.

Practiced sermons for Sunday School classes , on Saturdays while I played in my room.

Hours, days, weeks, years, of a kingdom that was to come first.

But who's kingdom is everyone really working for?


W5 Weekly Connection Post 


The relationship of deception and cognitive dissonance runs Throughout the movie Tangled. 

Flynn wants nothing to do with Rapunzel

Rapunzel wants nothing to do with Flynn.

The banter and hostility between the characters is a Story Soup theme similar to Much Ado About Nothing. Both struggling with self deception and internal truths.

Both needing to face, heal and move forward to embrace love and happiness in their individual lives.

In order to live a full life, we have to stop lying to ourselves first. 


W6 Weekly Connection Post

 


It was fun to watch this movie and the direct application of Wollstonecraft's writings. Enola's character is based on Holm's mother working as a suffragette to improve life for her daughter. 

Observing the story unfold as the sheltered yet well educated Enola interacts with the world as it is was fun. Her interactions with Mycroft and Sherlock as each dealt with the issues of women's rights within their social structure and how it challenged them was written very well.

I hope there will be more. 

Reflection


The weekly connections was an interesting practice to carry through the week. It was satisfying to write out my feelings about Beauty and the Beast. Our revisionist Post-Modern society does not view that heroic tale in a very kind light. It is one that I find very inspirational.

 Through the Story Soup lens of Beowulf I saw similarities in Moana. How often in my life do I take up a heroic task that is not my cause? It is important to question my intentions when rushing in to “save” or “help” someone. Am I helping them, honestly? Or am is simply easing my discomfort and seeking approval from those around me. Maui was seeking the approval of the human race who rejected him. It seems Beowulf was fulfilling some paternal expectation. 

 Soaking in the delightful wit, irony and satire of Chaucer, Emperor’s New Groove held a whole new context. From the white actors playing South American characters to the position of Emperor Cuso being transformed into a llama. Of course the Jerry Fallwell Jr. scandal played entirely into the type of corruption Chaucer attempted to level. 

 I struggle with forcing literature, culture and everything through a lens of Evangelical Christianity. It is very painful for me. Dr. Faustus, the self deception of Much Ado and the Oppression writers granted me a space to be speechless. The words were said for me. 

Course Reflection (6)


When I saw what my courses were going to be this session, I was quiet elated to see British Literature on my list. For me the Cauldron of Story is a constant safe space for me to heal. Walking along characters in their adventures over millennia I find pieces of myself that were taken away by incidences in my childhood. It is a place God continually meets me. 

 

In reading through the course material, my hackles rose. I felt an enemy on the horizon of my safe space. Evangelical Christianity was near. The narrative God works diligently to free me from through the Hero’s Journey i would now have to force through a siphon. Terms, dogma, thinly developed theology based on Modern Humanism would be accessed as I answered discussion questions, or wrote assignments. We don’t realize how subversive Chaucer or Dr. Faustus really was to their day. Why it was their authors possibly came to an unnatural demise. What they wrote led to the Protestant Revolution. A religious war Evangelicals are still fighting against Catholics and Orthodox Christians today.

 

Through the literature the God that I understand met me. The Gentle Voice encouraged me to simply write, with evidence and analysis my point of view. It was ok that it didn’t agree with the status quo. It was acceptable that what I wrote was in line with Chaucer, Marlow, Swift and others I was reading. They were great for a reason. A compassionate God shared his heart with them too, and they responded. Each time I face the weeping wounds of my past, and present abuses I physically react. Days long migraines. Depression sleeps to balance out the anxiety attacks that I process through as I write. Most times I did submit a first draft, because I couldn’t stomach reading through the topic again. 

Over thirty years of reflective writing in a formula of Experience, Strength and Hope is how I keep moving forward. Literature, Hero’s journeys and discussions along with God’s Gentle Whisper encourage me to grow. Often I am tender of heart after seasons like this last seven weeks. I will say processing through pain is easier now. The nightmares are less. My ability to function and remain even keel is beyond anything I ever thought I would be able to manage. I love all the works we walked through. I am grateful for the ability to be honest about my point of view. I am continually encouraged by the culture within ACU and it’s tolerance about topics. I will definitely go back and revisit all of these works. I want to take my time and enjoy the language, perspective and journey each story makes.

British Literature Portfolio ACU (Part 2)

 

Discussion Posts (3)

The Value of Class Discussion


I chose these three discussion posts because they reflected my experience with the literature in this class. I homeschooled my children for 12 years in a cyclical curriculum I developed in accordance with their needs and interests. It worked upon a four year history cycle and each of these works were studied. Through the many different versions of Beowulf, Chaucer’s Tales and Much Ado About Nothing I’ve journeyed through something new is always revealed. 

 

This time reading through Beowulf, I saw clearly the fault of his pride. Many comprehension guides and long car rides my kids would discuss the topic. I personally never saw it for myself. I also didn’t see his loyalty to his Father’s Legacy either. This point was brought up in a discussion and through parts of the suggested reading. In pondering the source of Beowulf’s pride as his desire to live up to a legacy, I found myself corrected in an assumption. The flaw of pride seems not to be from a necessarily arrogance, self-absorbed place. Beowulf’s motivation of pride seems to be some kind of self imposed agenda that he feels he must live up to. For me this makes his heroism more human.

 

Visiting Chaucer’s world brings me a certain delight. Each time I find a kindred spirit in his writings. He seems burdened by the injustices of the Catholic Church and it’s abuses of power upon the people. Watching how an institution which is supposed to serve the people used political power to suppress them. I relate to his irony and satire within his stories growing up in Evangelicalism. Watching the rise of the Moral Majority and how Protestisim in all of its branches has become just as oppressive of a political religious body as the church of Chaucer’s day. Engaging in discussions, and reading my classmates points of view is refreshing. I am grateful for those who are able to see the good within the system of Evangelicalism. I hope they never see what Chaucer and I have seen. 

 

In every form of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing I am consistently delighted at the dignity he gave the women characters. Each woman, from Hero to Beatrice is relevant to our feminist now. Taming of the Shrew bends to the manipulative depending on how Petrucio is portrayed. In many other of the plays, Shakespeare dances around the caricatures of women. In this play, for some reason, he allowed them to be real. It is one of my favorite plays to discuss because of the wordplay and nuance. When I visit the world of Beatrice I am reminded, I do not have to compromise who I am to accept being fully loved.


Weekly Assignments (4)

Cultural Values and Influences in Beowulf


Rebecca Erwin

Abilene Christian University Online

ENGO 221 Week 2 Assignment 1

One aspect I admire in the world of Beowulf is the dance of hospitality. To realize Beowulf constantly declaring his intentions, was an act of respect for the king. (Michelet, pg27). In a moment where Beowulf could easily invade and conquer Hrothgar in a moment of weakness, Beowulf brings his men in for a solitary purpose. An act of honoring his father in this act of reciprocal hospitality.  King Hrothgar offered refuge to King Ecgtheow when he was in danger(Michelet, pg. 28). I admire Beowulf’s loyalty to his father, transparency while being in King Hrothgar’s stay, and tenacity in the face of a danger that was not his. Just like King Hrothgar saved his father, Beowulf was there to save King Hrothgar. The debt of hospitality between the kings would be paid. 

 In my earlier assessment of Beowulf I saw him as a man working to prove himself worthy to his own people. I still believe a layer of that exists in the story. The way his people “chide” him (Liuzza, pg 20) paints an image that his own people loved him. They did not, however, think him a great warrior. In our modern day heroes, we seldom see an overtly proud hero. Today they undervalue their strengths. When we do see a confident hero, as in Tony Stark/Iron Man the confidence is part of a story arc. The pride in his character goes through the transformation with him to become a humble, yet powerful hero. In Beowulf we see him walk with confidence into King Hrothgar’s mead-hall to offer aid. The level of confidence never wavers in the battles with Grendel or Grendel’s mother. Beowulf’s pride is the same when the dragon appears in his kingdom. It is as if he does not consider his age at all. Where our modern heroes would pause and acknowledge a need for help, Beowulf’s pride is a stagnant flaw throughout the epic. 

 Each time I read Beowulf, I am captivated by the role of the women. So much so that I often forget who the saga is about. In Beowulf the two prominent women seem to be foils. One caution while the other is rage. Both hold an important place in the world of men. That is all they seem to be, however, place holders. 

 In a moment of ruckus celebration Hrothgar offers his kingdom to Beowulf, bypassing his son and nephew. Hrothgar’s wife is in attendance quietly filling the cups and attending the men. Wealhtheow calmly reminds the King of his duties. She asks Beowulf to be kind to her nephew and son (Michelet, pg.34) . Her soothing words to the nephew reveal a tension in the family, “I know good Hrothulf, that the noble young troopers...He’ll care for and honor, lord of the Scyldings,... (Liuzza, pg 44).”

In this particular role, a woman’s place is a peacekeeper. 

 Grendel’s Mother is an enigma to me. Although she is described in the most vile language, “Devil-shaped woman”, “woe ever minded,” (Liuzza, pg. 46) It seems her role is vengeance. She does violate the terms of hospitality and the death of the dear Æschere, invites retaliation. Grendel’s Mother retrieves her son’s arm. Grendel’s Mother is cunning, she hides in a lair. Vengeance, jealousy and woe are overwhelming foes. They are more difficult to conquer than a simple Grendel. The men must leave the safety of their place and go find her. Beowulf still practices hospitality with her by not invading her hall (Michelet, pg.27). 

 The women have two parts in Beowulf. A woman was a Wealhtheow, a beautiful voice of conscience that holds a peace among men. A woman was seen as Grendel’s Mother, a nameless cursed female consumed with woe and vengeance. Her contribution to the world is chaos. In our present day, the role of women is complex. It seems to depend upon the social group. Within Conservative Evangelicalism the roles have not changed much. A woman is considered successful who has a happy husband and peace in her home. If her husband turns out to be a Cain, and offspring suffer those consequences the cultural norm is to blame the wife. Outside of the Conservative spectrum women are allowed to be diversified. A woman can be the hero of her own story. That woman can broker peace or fight the war. 

 In the many shades of Beowulf I see many things. Was he an epic hero for his time? Absolutely. Beowulf was the embodiment of every character asset men ascribed to be. Bold, strong, loyal, tempered, conquering and constantly proving to those around him he was capable. In a war oriented culture the bravest warrior is the hero. Overconfidence and pride is an asset. I also find Beowulf a cautionary tale. Beowulf forgot the role of the Fates, or the Will of God depending on the line. Beowulf’s pride was not greater than it. 

 References:

 Robinson, Bonnie. And Getty, Laura (2018)  British Literature I Anthology: From the Middle Ages to Neoclassicism and the Eighteenth Century. University of North Georgia Press.  British Literature: Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century Creative Commons

Links to an external site.Part 1: The Middle Ages Section 1.1-1.19. North Georgia Press. 

Michelet, F. L. (2015)Hospitality, Hostility and Peacemaking in Beowulf.  Philological Quarterly, 94(1-2), 23-50. . Hospitality, Hostility, and Peacemaking in Beowulf.


Kim, S. K. (2005). “As I Once Did with Grendel”: Boasting and nostalgia in Beowulf..”  Modern Philology, 103(1), 4-27. As I Once Did with Grendel”: Boasting and nostalgia in Beowulf.”

Power and Purpose of Faustian Bargain Through the Centuries


Rebecca Erwin

Abilene Christian University Online

ENGO 221 Week 4 Assignment 1

Forbidden delights somehow always taste sweeter than those dulled by the flavor of honesty. It is an odd pairing of flavors. In the order of human rule, we must work toward a goal in order to attain it. Somehow by the time we achieve our goal, it has lost the luster. On one hand, this rhythm of personal growth does keep growth however it also leads to our downfall. For as in The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus, we all crave to be the master of what we cannot have.

 Our poor Doctor Faustus mastered all the permitted knowns. Academics in order to achieve an acclaimed success, Medicine to bring healing and freedom from Plague.

“Whereby whole cities have escap’d the plague, 

And thousand desperate maladies been eas’d? (Robinson/Getty ,pg 1118)”

Mathematics, Philosophy, Logic,and more, we meet Doctor Faustus as he laments his gluttony of knowledge without the ease of satisfaction. In his boredom he lusts after things spiritually and morally unattainable, 

“These metaphysics of magicians, 

And necromantic books are heavenly; 

Lines, circles, scenes, letters, and characters; 

Ay, these are those that Faustus most desires, (Robinson/Getty ,pg 1119)”

As a doctor of Divinity, Doctor Faustus would be familiar with the story of Adam and Eve. This “bone,” as suggested by Tolkien’s Story Soup follows the same simple structure. Every sensation and delight is satisfied, except for one forbidden element. What if it could be mastered?

 Pride enters here and blinds Doctor Faustus’ mastery of Logic. Surely he could be the Master of a spirit for a little while. Easily comforted by his pride, Doctor Faustus contracts Mephistophilis to serve him, by payment of his soul to Lucifer.  He didn’t believe in Hell anyway (Robinson/Getty, pg. 1137). Our Doctor Faustus believed himself so brilliant that in this one last venture he would find final satisfaction. 

“Think’st thou that Faustus is so fond to imagine 

That, after this life, there is any pain? (Robinson/Getty, pg. 1138)”

Within this declaration, Doctor Faustus reveals his pride is greater than any fear of Hell to Mephistophilis. This blindspot is all Mephistophilis needs to begin his deception.

 This universal appeal that a mere human could overcome a damned being through sheer will, or pride, is what brings us all  to this story repeatedly. It is  at this crossroads, when we are the most hopeful for the main character. Will this person do it this time? Maybe I could do it. The second ingredient within our Story Soup is revealed, the blindspot for deception. Where we as an audience begin questioning why. Why does Doctor Faustus let Mephisophilis talk him out of a wife (Robinson/Getty, pg. 1138-1139)? At each request Doctor Faustus makes, Mephisophilis counters with a book, or a question, or a distraction of humiliating a person in power. In the example of the Pope (Robinson/Getty, pg. 1148-1151), the things Doctor Faustus does at Mephisophilis’ suggestion seem petty. However, to humiliate God and the powerful established Church in the eyes of a Protestant Doctor Faustus would only strengthen Doctor Faustus pride. It would reinforce the earlier interaction with Lucifer, Beielzabub and Satan that God would not be able to save him. If God could not protect the Pope and Friars, then God would not be able to save Doctor Faustus when the time came. God was not all powerful. Neither was Mephisophilis, but that was never his claim.  Mephisophilis made the intention of serving Doctor Faustus clear in the beginning. The only reason Mephisophilis agreed to the contract was to

 “Enlarge his (Lucifer’s) kingdom.(Robinson/Getty, pg. 1134) ”

As much as we want Doctor Faustus, and others who retell this tale, to beat the Dark One at his deceptions, the Father of Lies wins every time.

 The Pope and Friers stood alone in that hall doubting God’s power, a little. Each petty parlor trick Doctor Faustus played on people of power left them feeling less confident and prideful. Mephisophilis carried on his Master’s mission, to enlarge the kingdom. In our humanity we thirst after what we cannot have. Humanity will never acquire complete autonomy from a Creator, or beings older than creation itself. The themes within The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus became the present day Story Bones for movies like Click, Ghost Rider, Twilight, etc. We still are wrestling with the same riddle Adam and Eve did, does the cost of unknown knowledge really matter.

 References:

 Robinson, Bonnie. And Getty, Laura (2018)  British Literature I Anthology: From the Middle Ages to Neoclassicism and the Eighteenth Century. University of North Georgia Press.  British Literature: Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century Creative Commons

Links to an external site. Section 2.12. Christopher Marlowe and The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus (1604) pg. 1117-1174

Eighteenth Century Activist, Fighting Oppression.


Rebecca Erwin

Abilene Christian University Online

ENGO 22 Week 6 Assignment 2

In reading the voices of the past, it is important to remember the context of that past. Who were Equiano, Wollstonecraft and Swift talking to? As artists what were their personal convictions? This creates a caution in dealing with revisionist history as a lense while reading political texts such as these. Without a proper lense, the source material is often misinterpreted. The satire of Johnathan Swift becomes distasteful. The compassion narrative of Olauda Equiano develops suspect origins. Mary Walstonecraft’s philosophical approach has a tone of subversive manipulations. All three forms are equally effective forms of communication to their target audience, our responsibility is to keep this in mind while doing analysis. 

 A Modest Proposal is a humble sounding title for a scathing critique of the class discrepancy between England and Ireland. At the time England held a monopoly on all of Ireland’s agricultural production. Ireland could only eat the surplus after the orders to England were filled. When the Blight ravaged Ireland, the agricultural demand did not lessen. England simply saw Ireland as a supply chain for its economic demands. This included the people. This relationship was generations in the making. England at the time complained of Ireland's inefficiency. The obtuseness of the English Landowners who leased the land out for the Irish to farm was a twisted and unethical bundle of laws. What “A Modest Proposal” did, was to reveal the depravity of the English gentry. 

 “I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the

arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers,

is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance;

and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making

these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well

of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation (Swift, pg.2652).”

Swift plainly supposes it could be “...agreed by all parties…” the “...prodigious number of children…” be made useful instead of a “grievance” to the “...members of the commonwealth…” all in the effort as a “preserver of the nation.” As offensive and difficult this is for we Americans to read, Swift is writing to gentry under a Monarchical system. Not quite a caste, but not feudal either, this system still held secret attitudes of both while dressed in the finaries of Christianity. Nothing could change the opinion of an English Aristocrat than to subtly and deeply attack the stance of Faith. 

 During this period of history not only was Revolution erupting all over the world, but Imperialism was at its height. In order for the Christian European world to “spread the gospel” among all nations using economic means, mental gymnastics were in order. The social hierarchy of a Monarchical system which slowly led to revolution and a democratic one did say men were equal. At the time, however, only white men who owned land were equal in status. As mentioned in the Atlantic Slave Trade TedEd, white europeans needed to see the africans as underdeveloped people (Hazard, 2014). This perspective supported the idea of taking the “gospel” and “saving” the lost. A compassionate and well written narrative like Olaudah Equiano’s would speak to that audience. Satire would only dehumanize the African experience and affirm the European perspective. A philosophical approach would be implausible to a white reader. Yet, a compassion narrative would get under the reader’s skin and slowly develop relatability and empathy. 

In his narrative Equiano talks about what he can remember as a child from his village. In language that expresses his own astonishment he relates what he has in common with the children within the slave owner’s house. Eloquently, he is able to express his innocence as he begins to feel safe within his new home. (Equiano, 2912) This is powerful for the reader, for in a few paragraphs later we are wretched into suffering along with him. To the audience at the time Equiano was petitioning the people purchasing and owning Africans, could see equality. Could see a neighbor, cousin or friend. That before the God they believed in, and Equiano came to believe in, they were created and saved by the same Jesus.

I take issue with the critique of Equiano’s narrative. The author of the academic paper is white, the very people group Equiano was critiquing. I find the author’s arguments suspect and dehumanizing. Kopec’s suggestion that the author’s narrative is to exploit compassion so the African could exploit for their own economic gain is obtuse to the very Abolitionist Movement itself.  The sources quoted which put Equanio’s authenticity in question are all white. They are exactly the audience Equiano was addressing. Of course they would feel offended and want to discredit the work. Here is a human person, who was first a human, then captured, dehumanized, reprogrammed to fit into a subsection of society as a slave. Equiano then earned and had to purchase his own humanhood. The rest of his life would then be spent deprogramming from the dehumanization and trauma he experienced. I am glad Equiano did not stop writing at his emancipation. We all need to see the process of how someone heals from trauma and reclaims themselves.

 I believe the most subversive work is Mary Wollstonecraft’s philosophical approach. It is well understood that men believe women are too emotional to carry on a deeply logical and intellectual conversation. In order for her to address a male audience, her writing style would need to meet the demands of the unemotional, highly rational plane of masculine intelligence. The platitudes would need to be flattering and affirming to male superiority. Her goal was to bring about change within the society of the European. This was the limit of her experience.  

 Not only did Wollstonecraft need to peek the curiosity of men at the potential of women’s abilities, her craft nurtured something else. A woman’s perspective of herself. Wollstonecraft seemed to take every negative she heard growing up and reverse it as an empowering statement for a woman to say to herself. This beautiful document allowed a woman to read it and be intelligent. It granted her the quiet space to think. Unbeknownst to the men around her. This simple challenge, 

 “I shall only insist, that men have increased that inferiority till women are almost sunk below the standard of rational creatures. Let their faculties have room to unfold, and their virtues to gain strength, and then determine where the whole sex must stand in the intellectual scale. Yet, let it be remembered, that for a small number of distinguished women I do not ask a place.(Wollstonecraft, pg.18)”

 Not only would this suggestion pique a man’s interest in what life could be like with an intelligent wife. The status and entertainment she could bring him. This beautiful paragraph awakens a quiet potential strength in all women who would read it. What would that transformation look like for women who took action? She read in Equiano’s account what it looked like when a slave reclaimed his humanity. What could it look like if a woman really did reprogram her societal self through education?

 To suggest that Swift, Equiano and Wollstonecraft either went too far or not far enough is a difficult judgment to make in 2020. We live in a world built upon their writings. To examine and dissect their writings based upon our worldview does a great disservice to the worldview they lived in. It is understandable that Wollstonecraft critiqued Equiano’s narrative, she was white, he was black. She was writing to European culture about women’s equality. Wollstonecraft missed the very important point she laid out in her own perspective.  What would women be like if they could shed the patriarchal bondage as props within society and become participants. Equiano wrote about what it was like when a slave shed the bondage of subhumanity to reclaim his humanity. All the while Swift never lost sight of the humanity between the English and the Irish. Swift had no need to appeal to compassion or philosophy, both were equal subjects of the British Empire. Swift wrote as an established equal in power to his audience. Context is imperative when reading Activist Literature, no matter the century.

 References:

 Robinson, Bonnie. And Getty, Laura (2018)  British Literature I Anthology: From the Middle Ages to Neoclassicism and the Eighteenth Century. University of North Georgia Press.  British Literature: Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century Creative Commons

Links to an external site. 

Hazard, Anthony, (Dec 22, 2014) The Atlantic slave trade: What too few textbooks told you - https://youtu.be/3NXC4Q_4JVgLinks to an external site. Retrieved, October 5, 2020

 Wollstonecraft, Mary, (1792) Wollstonecraft Vindication of the Rights of Women  -- Selections Preview the document Source: Project Gutenberg (http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/3420/pg3420.htmlLinks to an external site.

) Retrieved, October 5,2020

 Kopec, A. (2013). Collective commerce and the problem of autobiography in Olaudah Equiano’s NarrativeThe Eighteenth Century, 54(4), 461-478.