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Orwellian Manipulation

In the novel 1984, The Party controlled everyone’s lives.   They controlled what they watched on tv, what they did outside of work, and every other aspect of their lives.  The most horrifying thing, in my opinion, was how they controlled what the people knew and thought.

They changed historical records and manipulated information to keep the people supporting The Party.   As Winston said, “if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'”   This can be seen in our government today.   Politicians know just what to say, what words to use; to make sure that we interpret what they are saying the way that they want us to.  Also, our government can control what is released to the public.  Were there a big event, they could choose to not tell us, they only have to say that it is classified and them keeping it a secret is “justified.”  They can create cover stories and lie to the public when it serves them, “In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct; nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record.”

In order to ensure that everyone was going along with The Party, they made sure to keep everyone under surveillance.  Like 1984, our government has certain “red flags” that can cause you to be considered suspicious.  The Party may not have watched everyone at any given time but if someone seemed to be doing something suspicious, they made sure to watch them.  Today, if you have suspicious buying habits or internet history the government can justify watching you, keeping tabs on your purchases, internet, phone calls, etc.  I don’t see that much of a difference.

Works Cited

Ball, Tom.  Political  March 6, 2005.  Website.  April 7, 2011.

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Posted by on April 7, 2011 in Beyond 1984



Utopian Literature

Utopian literature is used to expore social and political structures by creating an ideal world, a utopia.  Sir Thomas More was the one who coined the phrase a “utopia,” in his 1516 book Utopia.  His book presents an ironic projection of an ideal state that can be interpreted in many ways.

There was utopian literature before More, though it was not known as utopian literature.  One example is Plato’s The Republic which was written in 380 B.C.  In The Republic, Plato outlines what his ideal society and political system would be.  Another example of an earlier form of utopian literature is De Civitate Del (City of God) which was written between 413 and 426 by St. Augustine.  City of God was written to defend Christianity against paganism and to attack the pattern of immorality in Roman life.

There is also a lot of utopian literature written after More’s lifetime, though most is considered to be utopian satire.  One example, Erewhon by Samuel Butler is about a young man who discovers a utopian nation.  However, after further study of the society, it is found that the nation, though not a dystopia, is far from a utopia.  The novel also contains a satirical view of Victorian society for criminal punishment and religion.  Another example of utopian literature after More’s lifetime is News from Nowhere by William Morris.  In this book, the narrator falls asleep after a meeting of the Socialist League and awakens to find himself in a future society based on common ownership and democratic control of the production of goods. In this society there is no private property, no big cities, no authority, no monetary system, no divorce, no courts, no prisons, and no class systems. This society functions simply because the people find pleasure in nature, and therefore they find pleasure in their work.  News from Nowhere was actually written in response to another utoian novel, Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy which shows a socialist society as the ideal society.

Also, more recently there has been the development of feminist utopian literature.  Most of the novels belonging to this genre were written by American women in the early 1900’s and usually show women as equal to or superior to men.  Some even show isolated all-female societies or societies in which men have died out.

Utopian literature has been known to have quite an impact on our society.  In 1848, Travels in Icaria by Etienne Cabet caused a group of followers to leave France to travel to the U.S. and found a series of utoian settlements which lasted until 1898.  There are also select communities today that strive for a better, m0re ideal way of life as inspired by utoian novels.

“Utopian Literature After More.” 25 Oct, 2010 <,pageNum-12.html&gt;

“Utopian and Dystopian Fiction.” 25 Oct. 2010 <;

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Posted by on October 26, 2010 in Thomas More's Utopia


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Dante and the House of Fame

Throughout the history of literature, writers inspire other writers, whether it be on style, format, plot, or theme.  Dante Alighieri, an Italian poet of the Middle Ages, wrote The Divine Comedy, originally called Commedia. It is considered the greatest literary work composed in the Italian language, as well as a masterpiece of world literature.  This can be seen undoubtedly as a great inspiration for Geoffrey Chaucer.

Dante Alighieri and Geoffrey Chaucer

The House of Fame is the first of Chaucer’s Italian-influenced period which echoes Dante’s Divine Comedy.  With the journey at the beginning of the poem, the poet ends up in a glass temple with etchings of famous people and their deeds. With an eagle as his guide similar to Virgil, he goes on the course of fame and trying to understand it. This allows Geoffrey to narrate, telling the lives of the famous and the truth in what can be told.  Then the dreamer walks to the House of Fame and describes the walls made of beryl (semi-precious stone) with great poets on top of pillars of metal.  The metal represents the subjects of the poems (iron for war, copper for love, etc.) and the poets have to carry the weight of the fame of their subjects on their shoulders.  How Chaucer mentions the various famous people suggests that the poem was meant as a parody of the Divine Comedy.  The different levels of pillars and the affect it has on the weight of fame resembles the different levels of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven.  A reference at the end of the work to a “man of great authority” parallels to Dante’s third canto in which Virgil references God. As with several other works by Chaucer, the poem is apparently unfinished.

Allen, Mark and John H. Fisher.  Essential Chaucer. G.K. Hall and Mansell Publishers Limited, 1987.  <;

Chaucer, Geoffrey. The House of Fame. <;

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Posted by on October 18, 2010 in Dante


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The Seafarer


The Seafarer is told from the point of view of a man who has been exiled. He was forced upon the sea in isolation.  In the first half of the poem, he tells about how horrible it is being all alone on the sea and how lonely he gets.  In the second half of the poem, he talks about how important it is that you follow God’s will and he tells of what happens to men who forget their God.

Anglo-Saxon Beliefs:

You see the Anglo-Saxon beliefs in The Seafarer in his discussion of God and predestination.  At the end of the poem, he speaks of an inner-relationship with God.  Also, he tells of how he was destined to live life on the sea, in exile and loneliness.

Imagery & Sound:

The poem speaks of how life is dreary, weary, sorrowful, painful, and deadly.  For example, lines 25-26 speaks of how there’s no one to comfort him while his soul is drowning in loneliness.  He also says how the birds have death-noises instead of laughter to emphasize how his positive point of view on life has been annihilated.  On the other hand, the poem picks up towards the middle where he starts speaking of God.  He speaks of how the joys of God are comforting and holy… well, as long as you follow God’s will.


In Beowulf, Beowulf speaks of how “By God, punishment is forever for a crime,”  showing how God has the ultimate authority over one’s life.  That concept resembles The Seafarer‘s when it says “Fate is stronger and God mightier than any man’s mind.”  In both poems, evil comes when one opposes God’s will.  In The Seafarer, “Death leaps at the fools who forget their God,”  which is what happened to Grendel in Beowulf, who was “a brood forever opposing the Lord’s will.”

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Posted by on September 7, 2010 in Anglo-Saxon Poetry


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Sarah Edmonds

In May of 1861 Sarah enlisted in the Second Michigan Infantry in Detroit under the alias of Franklin Thompson.  While in this she served as a private in the Peninsula Campaign, the Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Antietam, and the Battle of Fredericksburg.  Sarah even went undercover as a black man and worked building fortifications for the Confederate Army, when she returned she was able to provide valuable information; her success undercover earned her other undercover assignments.  Sarah later worked in the military hospital, while working there she contracted malaria.  The treatment for malaria would have exposed her as a woman, so she decided to desert from the army.  After her desertion she worked as a nurse in a hospital for wounded soldiers; she later published a book about her experiences in the army, Nurse and Spy in the Union Army (1865).  Starting in 1886 she began receiving a government pension based upon her military service.

Sarah broke gender stereotypes by proving that she was just as strong as any male soldier.  She served in the army for years without anyone realizing that she was a woman.  She also later had three children, which proves that by focusing on something other than her reproductive organs she did not render herself sterile.

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Posted by on March 11, 2010 in Civil War



Year That Trembled and Reel’d Beneath Me

Year That Trembled And Reel’d Beneath Me

Year that trembled and reel’d beneath me!
Your summer wind was warm enough, yet the air I breathed froze me,
A thick gloom fell through the sunshine and darken’d me,
Must I change my triumphant songs? said I to myself,
Must I indeed learn to chant the cold dirges of the baffled,
And sullen hymns of defeat?

The tone of this poem is defeated.  He speaks as if he is being forced to do something he really does not want to do.  You can see this when he says, “Must I change my triumphant songs?”  The mood of this poem is depressed.  You can see this when he says; “sullen hymns,” “cold dirges,” and “thick gloom.”

From this poem you can infer that Whitman thought that war was depressing and destructive.  He thought it went against all feelings of happiness, contentment, and freedom.

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Posted by on March 5, 2010 in Whitman's Civil War Poetry