Victorian Period Term Paper

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Journal Exercise 5.1A: Morality Then and Now

The literature of the Victorian Period expressed fascination and fear

with technology and machinery. Thomas Carlyle stated that man's ability to

use tools is all he is in his philosophical work Sartor Resartus. In John

Stuart Mill's On Liberty, the author stresses the idea that the individual

is supreme and sovereign over all else, which addresses the period's fear

that individuals were being replaced by machines. The advent of the

industrial revolution seriously affected religious beliefs. Matthew Arnold

suggested that the period was hovering between two worlds, "one dead" and

"one powerless to be born," according to his Stanzas from the Grand

Chartreuse. One of these worlds is religion and one is technology.

According to Arnold, the Victorian Period was still clinging to its Puritan

Christian morals while struggling to emerge into a world ruled by a

technological, not religious, morality.

Like the Victorian Period, the modern era is filled with

technological innovation with implications for modern morality. In this

post-modern world, the typical view is that morality is an individual

choice. What is right for one person might not necessarily be right for

another. Just as technological innovation caused Victorians to doubt their

belief in God and the importance of their own selves and souls,

technological innovation in the modern era has caused individuals to doubt

that a universal religion or moral code applies to all. Because modern

technology has proven that a variety of solutions exist for each task,

individuals have begun to assume the same about morality-many solutions and

moral choices exist for each person.

Journal 5.2A: Youth and Aging

Alfred Lord Tennyson's Ulysses is a poignant poem for readers of all

ages. As the aged and impotent king reflects on the days that gave him

joy, even the youngest readers must contemplate their own morality. The

ability to challenge even young people to think this way is an example of

Tennyson's brilliance as a writer, but the content of the piece is worth

discussing independently of the poet.

Unlike the young Ulysses, I am not in the midst of glorious days of

battle in my youth, but I do experience similar exhilarations. The ability

to perform in a variety of activities, have more then one job, attend

school, and actively participate in social causes without tiring are

examples of the activities that are important in my life right now,

examples of activities that I may not be able to continue forever. When

I've become too old to live at this pace, I imagine I will feel much like

the withered old king. I will look back with fondness on my

accomplishments, while retaining a degree of sadness that I cannot

continue. Just as Ulysses did, I might leave a more capable young person,

like Ulysses' son Telemachus, in charge of those responsibilities that I

find too stressful in my old age, while I let myself sink like a once-

rising star, enjoying the company of those my own age with whom I can

reminisce, and continuing to seek in my own way.

In fact, Ulysses's (and Tennyson's) use of star imagery conjures up

not just the image of a physical star, but also the image of a faded

celebrity (or star) who has continued his or her career long after it has

peaked. An example of this is rock and roll star Meatloaf. Although his

vocal chords were damaged and he had gained a great deal of weight, he

continued to produce albums and is currently on tour. Like Ulysses,

Meatloaf's image of who he once was haunts him, and he continues to seek

his own fame and power. If I had to deal with the issues of either the

aged king or the withered star, I would need to be surrounded by friends

and family members in order to counterbalance the negative image of my

current self I would have in light of my former, more powerful self.

Journal Exercise 5.2B: "The Lady of Shallot"

Poetry Analysis Chart:

Key Words and Phrases: "Willows whiten, aspens quiver,/Little breezes dusk

and shiver," the wave "that runs for ever," "a magic web with colours gay,"

'a curse is on her if she stay," "I am half sick of shadows," "like some

bold seer in a trance seeing her own mischance," the pale lady lying in the

boat, "her blood was frozen slowly,"

Symbols: The island is a symbol of isolation. The fact that it's surrounded

by agriculture (barley and rye) and technology and innovation (the road)

suggest that it is a boundary between the two worlds. Cold imagery suggests

a frightening and strange aspect to the tower, and the contrast between

"gray walls" and "flowers" symbolizes a bittersweet situation and the

contrast between the lady and her situation. Transportation images near the

stationary tower further suggest the lady's loneliness. The curse and the

woman's weaving as she looks over Camelot suggest how she tortures herself

by looking outward on society while she is forced to remain in one place.

The mirror symbolizes what the woman cannot have. The mirror's cracking

resembles the lady's attempt to gain what she cannot have. Her death

symbolizes her attempt gone too far. All of these symbols seem to echo the

position of the Victorian Period.

Images and Opposing Images: the isolated Island of Shalott surrounded by

"barley" and "rye," "the road," and "the lilies," "four gray walls, and

four gray towers, Overlook a space of flowers," the "silent isle," images

of transportation near the stationary tower, the woman weaving her web in

the middle of a curse, Sir Lancelot with his "helmet and the helmet-

feather," which "burned like one burning flame together," Sir Lancelot's

praise of her dead, lovely face

Theme: The themes of the poem suggest loneliness, immobility, and sense of

being trapped between two worlds.

Analysis:

The theme of The Lady of Shallot is that the Victorian Period is

lonely era of transition trapped between the modern and out-dated worlds.

This is shown by the Lady of Shallot, who serves as a symbol of the

Victorian period. The lady sits locked in a tower that is surrounded by

agriculture, or the out-dated world, on one side and a road, the modern

world, on the other, yet she is immobile. She concentrates on weaving her

web, which is a symbol of the Victorian Era's attempt to create its own

identity. In addition, she is haunted by a magical mirror that shows what

is going on outside. The mirror symbolizes the outside world, and when the

lady attempts to leave the tower, the mirror breaks, symbolizing that the

Victorians cannot escape the progress of the outside world. Lancelot

symbolizes the Victorian Era's unattainable goals, or seeking to postpone

modernity, and the Lady's death on trying to reach him symbolizes the

impossibility of those goals. Finally, Lancelot's ironic reaction of

praising the lady's dead face is a symbol of the modern era's reaction to

the Victorian Period. They see the era as beautiful, but gone and

irrelevant, something of the past. Based on these images and symbols,

therefore, the poem symbolizes the Victorian Era's position as a lonely era

of transition trapped between the modern and out-dated worlds.

Journal Exercise 5.3 A: Love Poetry

Although the saying is clich?, no one really "knows" what love is. It

is impossible to describe, but Elizabeth Barrett Browning comes close with

her description of how she loves in "Sonnet 43." If I were to follow

Browning's guide for describing how I love one of my loved ones, I would

use the following descriptions.

1. I love you like the bees that are content to live in solitude with one

another.

2. I love you to a point that exceeds my frustration with you and becomes

a new emotion, a sort of bemused, angry, and appreciative emotion,

because if you were gone, I would miss even the messy parts of love.

3. I love you enough to want to speed on my way home to you, to turn off

the radio and think of you, and to call you when I have nothing to

say.

4. I love you the way a child loves her first pet, which she must learn

not to restrain even when her only desire is to lavish it with

attention.

5. I love you above what you are, above the concept of you, the images of

you, the understanding of your personality. I love you as an entity

made up of procrastination and blue shirts and everything that is you

that I cannot now separate.

6. I love you the way I love the dog that I must train before he hurts

himself with his own ambition.

7. I love you like the breathe of fresh air after a deep-end dive.

8. I love you enough to give you choices.

9. I love you much more like the journal, which inspires creation, than

the washing machine, which only exists for convenience.

10. Falling in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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