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The Modern 1984

George Orwell viewed the future society as totalitarian in his novel 1984. In his society, privacy was nonexistent. Every action and every thought was watched over by Big Brother, the face of the government called Ingsoc. Telescreens and microphones were used to carry this out along with and Thought Police. The main character Winston wrote “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” in his diary, the thought and the action both being against the government. “The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed- would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper- the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you (pg. 19).” Thoughtcrime is a Newspeak word. Newspeak is the language that Ingsoc used. It was developed to narrow thought to the point that Thoughtcrime would be impossible.

Was George Orwell right?

Doublespeak was a term used in 1984. Doublespeak is a distortion of words to where the meaning of the word is opposite. Examples of doublespeak are most common in politics. The Secretary of Defense has erased terms such as body bag from the Vietnam Era and has replaced them with “human remain pouches”. The goverment in 1984 erased terms as well.  The U.S. goverment also in order to get away with torture defined it as “pain equlivant to a serious physical injury such as organ failure, impairment of body function, or death.” Torture is only unconstitutional when it is used with interrogation. Other examples of doubelespeak in today’s society can be found at the NCTE Doublespeak Award website.

In todays society we are not concerned with totalitarianism as Orwell was but we are concerned with privacy.  Our privacy is not as private as we think it is.

The Justice Department has issued subpoenas on Internet Search Engines to find out what people are searching. Google refused on the grounds of the personal information that they have and if they would give the Justice Department this information, they could ask for more personal information. Google offers accounts, Gmail, social networking, shopping lists, personalized home pages, and your account will link all of these services along with others not listed together. What you previously searched is organized into a calendar where every word you searched along with the websites you visited is stored. If the person does not have an account the information is not as neatly stored but Google will use tracking cookies. Google is watching you. What we search is usually random, whatever we are thinking that day. The government wants this information which a website has. All of that information is not private anymore.

The government is also watching you. The Pentagon has formed the Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) was formed to protect military facilities from attack, to collect data on U.S. citizens, and to use that data to prevent sabotage, attacks, assassinations, etc. It was formed shortly after the 9/11 attacks so it was because of the terrorist scare. This agency is not widely known and its staff, which is said to be about 1,000, and budget is not public. The Pentagon with this agency has access to all the data collected, not just those on citizens related to terrorism. This means that what we do is not private.  More information can be found here.

Orwell thought of a society where the government watched over our every move. Society today is not exactly like that but the government does keep track of us, even when we do nothing wrong. The internet has all of our information in databases, every word we search, every website we visit. We are living in a Modern 1984.

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Posted by on April 6, 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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The Divine Comedy’s Inspiration to James Joyce’s Dubliners

Dubliners was the first work of James Joyce. Because of this he used many ideas from previous famous works, including Dante’s The Divine Comedy.  Dublines and the people in it are major aspects compared to Dante’s The Divine Comedy.

Inferno and Kernan’s climb

Hell is represented in this part of Joyce’s work by physical tortures and faults. There is a man, named Kernan, ascends the stairs to the sick room, and the climb is directly compared to the acent into heaven. He mentally goes through stages in which he reviews his life and his sins. Every level the man comes closer to god and leaves his sins behind.

Inferno and The Sisters

In Dubliners there is a chapter about two sisters. In the begining of this chapter tere is a quote that says “there was no more hope for him at this time”. Thomas Rice compares this to the gates that Dante enters to get into the inferno. “Abandon all hope, ye that enter here” shows the intimidation and hopelessness that one must go through to endure hell. Just as the Sisters put all who interact with them through the same hell.

Paradise and the Church

 In one of the chapters assigned “Grace” there is a sermon in a church service that pertains where the sould of the dead and sinners go. In Dubliners this priest tells the congretatio that there are many things unknown about death but surely god will designate the deceased on how they persued their lives. He talks about heaven and uses the “paridise” to describe it. The priest also uses “inferno” instead of hell, which is a direct referance to Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Also the way he adresses sinners and how badly hell will affect them is to the same degrees even though he does not mention that they will go into a certain section of hell.

Dante and Joyce

There was even a comparison between the two authors and their mental state at the time of writing these works. Because Dante is the main character in The Divine Comedy we know that he was depressed and contemplating Suicide. We also know somewhat about the mental state of James Joyce because of his writings. Joyce was also depressed. We do not know if Joyce was decifering suicide or not, but it puts the question out there… Did Dante’s literature influence a mental state as well as literature?

Lobner, Corinna del Greco. “A Tilly of Irony in Joyce’s Divine Comedy:  The X in “Grace”” Irish University Review. 1991. web. 15 October, 2010.

Rice, Thomas Jackson. Joyce, Chaos, and Complexity. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1997. Print.

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Posted by on October 15, 2010 in Dante


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Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night


by: Walt Whitman (1819-1892) 

    IGIL strange I kept on the field one night;
    When you my son and my comrade dropt at my side that day,
    One look I but gave which your dear eyes return’d with a look I shall never forget,
    One touch of your hand to mine O boy, reach’d up as you lay on the ground,
    Then onward I sped in the battle, the even-contested battle,
    Till late in the night reliev’d to the place at last again I made my way,
    Found you in death so cold dear comrade, found your body son of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding,)
    Bared your face in the starlight, curious the scene, cool blew the moderate night-wind,
    Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battle-field spreading,
    Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant silent night,
    But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh, long, long I gazed,
    Then on the earth partially reclining sat by your side leaning my chin in my hands,
    Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you dearest comrade — not a tear, not a word,
    Vigil of silence, love and death, vigil for you my son and my soldier,
    As onward silently stars aloft, eastward new ones upward stole,
    Vigil final for you brave boy, (I could not save you, swift was your death,
    I faithfully loved you and cared for you living, I think we shall surely meet again,)
    Till at latest lingering of the night, indeed just as the dawn appear’d,
    My comrade I wrapt in his blanket, envelop’d well his form,
    Folded the blanket well, tucking it carefully over head and carefully under feet,
    And there and then and bathed by the rising sun, my son in his grave, in his rude-dug grave I deposited,
    Ending my vigil strange with that, vigil of night and battle-field dim,
    Vigil for boy of responding kisses, (never again on earth responding,)
    Vigil for comrade swiftly slain, vigil I never forget, how as day brighten’d,
    I rose from the chill ground and folded my soldier well in his blanket,
    And buried him where he fell.

The tone of this poem is hopeful, even though the son died. The father is proud of his son and hopes to see him again. You can tell the father cared even though he doesn’t cry over his son’s death. He just stays by his son’s body in silence through the night. The mood is very somber.

Walt Whitman’s view of the Civil War in this poem is that it is destructive, families are tore apart by death. This poem shows that he is against the war because fathers and sons had to watch each other die right next to each other.

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



Come Up From the Fields, Father

Come Up From the Fields, Father

by Walt Whitman

Come up from the fields, father, here’s a letter from our Pete,
And come to the front door, mother, here’s
     a letter from thy dear son.

Lo, ’tis autumn,
Lo, where the trees, deeper green, yellower and redder,
Cool and sweeten Ohio’s villages with leaves
     fluttering in the moderate wind,
Where apples ripe in the orchards hang and
     grapes on the trellis’d vines,
(Smell you the smell of the grapes on the vines?
Smell you the buckwheat where the bees were lately buzzing?)
Above all, lo, the sky so calm, so transparent
     after the rain, and with wondrous clouds,
Below too, all calm, all vital and beautiful,
     and the farm prospers well.

Down in the fields all prospers well,
But now from the fields come, father, come
     at the daughter’s call,
And come to the entry, mother, to the front door come right away.
Fast as she can she hurries, something ominous,
     her steps trembling,
She does not tarry to smooth her hair nor
     adjust her cap.

Open the envelope quickly,
0 this is not our son’s writing, yet his name
     is sign’d,
0 a strange hand writes for our dear son,
     0 stricken mother’s soul!
All swims before her eyes, flashes with black,
     she catches the main words only,
Sentences broken, gunshot wound in the breast,
     cavalry skirmish, taken to hospital,
At present low, but will soon be better.

Ah, now the single figure to me,
Amid all teeming and wealthy Ohio with all
     its cities and farms,
Sickly white in the face and dull in the head,
     very faint,
By the jamb of a door leans.

Grieve not so, dear mother (the just-grown
     daughter speaks through her sobs,
The little sisters huddle around speechless and
See, dearest mother, the letter says Pete will
     soon be better.

Alas, poor boy, he will never be better (nor maybe
     needs to be better, that brave and simple soul),
While they stand at home at the door he is
     dead already,
The only son is dead.

But the mother needs to be better,
She with thin form presently drest in black,
By day her meals untouch’d, then at night
     fitfully sleeping, often waking,
In the midnight waking, weeping, longing with
     one deep longing,
0 that she might withdraw unnoticed, silent
     from life escape and withdraw,
To follow, to seek, to be with her dear dead

This poem is a very emotional piece of work. It starts out with a tone of excitment. The family probably has not heard from their one and only son in a long time. The whole family gathers to hear what the letter has to say but the tone changes when they realize the letter is not written by him, but about him. He is not dead, only wounded, but the chance of survial after being wounded during this time was very slim and the family realizes this. The daughers try to have hope even though they are clearly heartbroken, they try to give the mother strength. The mood changes to very depressing. The mother breaks down. She falls into a depression because she lost her only son. She is sad and longs for him.

Walt Whitman’s attitude towards the Civil War is that it is tramatic. Families lose their loved ones and will always be affected by their loss. He knows the seperation between the families, just like in the poem the mother and son are seperated.

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Posted by on March 4, 2010 in Whitman's Civil War Poetry



Roger Donlon


  • Served in the Vietnam War
  • On July 6th, 1964 led the defense of the Special Forces camp at Nam Dong against a surpise attack
  • The battle lasted 5 hours
  • Donlon risked his life to help the wounded
  • He took down a three-man snipper team while suffering a stomach wound
  • Even though the team was outnumbered, they managed to hold the camp
  • For his courage, he was rewarded The Medal Of Honor
  • He returned to South Vietnam in 1972 but was evacuated because of wounds
  • He wrote an autobiograpy about his experiences in the war in 1998

War hero- someone who shows courage and strength in battle and who risks their life to help others

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Posted by on February 11, 2010 in War Heroes