Two Ladies and Two Dogs Walk into a Bar…

 

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Part 1
In Anton Chekov’s short fiction, ‘The Lady with the Pet Dog’, we are introduced to Dmitry Dmitrich Gurov, the main character. Gurov is trapped in an unhappy marriage with a stately young woman who he has loathed for some time. Due to his disinterest with his wife, he has “begun being unfaithful to her long ago-[and has] been unfaithful to her often..”   Due to his unfaithfulness and attitude towards his wife, we can assume that Gurov has little respect for women, whom he calls ‘the inferior race’”.  However, after meeting the alluring Anna Sergeyevna (The Lady with the Pet Dog), he seems to become enamored with her: “There was something touching about Anna Sergeyevna; she had the purity of a well-bred, naïve woman who has seen little of life”.  Her innocence and purity seem to entrance him, unlike the women he finds himself more frequently associating himself with. Because of this, it can very easily be argued that Anna is symbolic of the innocence and youth Gurov craves that his wife lacks. Another highly important aspect of the story is the setting. The beginning of the story, when Dmitry and Anna first meet, is set in a small resort town. The resort town affects the way that the characters interact with each other. In the small town, far from the watchful eyes of their spouses, Anna and Dmitry can be openly affectionate and bask in the freedom and adventurous thrill that their affair provides. The resort town is also highly symbolic of the state of the relationship between the two lovers: it is warm, exotic, free and relaxed. However, when the two return to their respective homes, they become different people in the new settings. For example, when Dmitry returns to Moscow he is greeted by frigid air, darkness and monotony. This is very symbolic of the life that Dmitry often lives: a life that he does not enjoy where he is surrounded by his frigid, dull wife, monotonous children and routine and the overall darkness of his life. Anna returns to similar conditions as well. 

 

Part 2:

The Joyce Carol Oates short fiction by the name, although set many hundreds of years in the future, holds a similar concept. We are introduced to Anna, who has been cheating on her husband with a man whom she met while on a vacation in Nantucket away from her husband. Anna is a woman with a guilty conscience and suicidal tendencies; “She would rush home and strike a razor across the inside of her arm and free that pressure, that fever” (pg 217). Because of this we can also assume that the affair, for her at least, is highly symbolic. She seems to want to feel something, whether it be pain or love, and the affair provides her with both the pain of defiling the trust of her husband and the love of having another man in her life. The setting, in this story, also plays a huge part in character development and symbolism. Once again, the resort town setting provides for a relaxed, free setting for the characters to fall in love before returning to their respective spouses. 

Shall We Compare?

The first, and easiest comparison that can be made between the two short fictions is, in this case, the titles. Although written by two different authors, the similar titles allude that there may be similar themes running throughout. In fact, almost the entirety of Oates’s fiction runs linearly to Chekhov, with modernized references. There are also illusions to the story within the story, such as the mention of “The Lady with the Pet dog” in a  drawing on page 213. The fact that the drawing, made by the man with whom she is having the affair with (the Dmitry Gurov of this story), portrays Anna with a pet dog sitting in her lap alludes to the fact that the man may have read Chekhov’s short fiction and thinks of Anna in Nantucket as his very own Anna Sergeyevna.  The presence of the man’s child and the lack of the woman’s as well as the obvious and prevalent age difference also provides a parallel reference to Chekhov’s short fiction.

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Women of the Victorian Era

Women dressed in Traditional Victorian garb.

 

  • Women’s emotions were repressed
  • Jane is very passionate, a trait that was frowned upon in women by Victorian society
  • Around the period of the Industrial Revolution
  • New opportunity for lower class citizens
  • Offered no changes for women of the middle class
  • Single women of middle class became governesses

A victoran governess

  • No security of employment and minimal wages
  • If you did not marry or had no family, you were a governess forever
  • No opportunities for education= No women’s colleges pre 1848

 

“Just Stop Talking!”

 

 

The other day, my friend and I were sitting in the living room, chatting away like it was our jobs.  As we enthusiastically discussed everything from fashion to that girl from our 8th grade English class, when our boyfriends walked in, dirty and sweaty with torn jeans legs, exhausted from a day of riding bikes at the skate park. After a brief greeting, we continued with our conversation, until my friends boyfriend spoke up: “God, all you guys do is talk! Whenever you two are together, it never stops!”  We took no notice, naturally, but later on I noted something interesting. As my friend and I chatted animatedly about our lives, the boys talked just as equally about video games and that guy from their high school gym class who was a total jerk now. Although they weren’t as enthusiastic, they talked just as much as my friend and I. This led me to wonder: why do girls have such a rep for talking all the time, when in reality girls and guys talk equally as much.  According to many studies, women do more “rapport talking” and men do more “casual talking”. While men find comfort in casual talking, women’s relationships are often based off of the conversations they have, and oftentimes conversations are the glue that holds friendships together. So next time a guy pulls the “Why do girls spend all their time talking” card, let them know that in reality, they spend just as much time talking as you do. Girls 1 Guys 0

You Can Never Have Too Many…

Scarves.

Let’s talk materialism, shall we? Anyone who knows me can easily tell you, with affectionate rolling of the eyes, about my love-and slight obsession-with scarves. Pashminas, silk scarves, summer scarves, wool scarves, any kind of scarf you can have, its pretty much guaranteed  that I have it. So what’s with my undeniable obsession with scarves? One is never enough, I always need more. When I see a stand selling scarves, I make the immediate beeline, with excuses like “I don’t have this color” or “I’ve never seen this print before, I need it”. In reality, lets face it, I have enough scarves to keep me warm down in the south pole. But something in my mind continues to tell me that I need more, more, more.

The comforting thing here is that I’m not the only one feeling this pain. Millions of Americans are obsessed with the replacement of happiness with materialism.  Over the years,  American consumerism has boomed and our insatiable need for ‘stuff’ has  grown. For decades, there have been books, movies and articles about materialism, and with good reason. We now live in a world dominated by advertisment and retail. As Anna Quindlen states in her article ‘Stuff is Not Salvation’, ” If the mall is our temple, then Marc Jacobs is God’. A frightening thought, even for a girl like myself who is easily swayed by my favorite companies advertisment strategies. Many, like myself, find happiness in the purchase of a new item of clothing, accessory, car, anything materialistic.

This brings us as Americans into a whole new mindset. Our dire need for new things has brought us into a dark age where our purchases must be made at all costs, even when it endangers us financially, or even physically. Take a look at Black Friday, for example, the American holiday that accompanies Thanksgiving. Immediatly after giving thanks for all that we have, we stand in line outside stores for 4 hours until doors open at midnight, then proceed to bludgon each other to reach for the newest, hottest product on discount. I myself have never been Black Friday shopping (preferring not to become yet another retail casualty), but I have heard the horror stories that my friends have told me. “You have to be agressive,” a good friend of mine who lives for Black Friday said one day, “if you don’t get violent, people will push you around. If someone pushes you, start a fight. That’s what Black Friday is all about!” Yeah, no thanks.

Why is it so hard to step back, put our wallets away and take heed of the old but well-used phrase “The best things in life are free”? We’re so obsessed with “stuff salvation” that it becomes almost impossible not to repurchase or continue to go shopping. We are so obsessed with the emotional high that we get when purchasing that,when we come down from it, we feel the need to go out and re-experiencing it.  The next time I pass a scarf stand, it’ll be hard, but  I will try my very hardest to push down the feelings of “I want”…maybe.

The American’s Guide To Spotting Terrorists.

Welcome to America; land of the free and home of the brave, the melting pot where people of all nationalities, religious affiliations and cultures can come together and share the same freedoms. Well…not quite. Recently a new “threat” to our country’s’ safety has been exposed: Arab terrorists. A Google Image search of the word ‘terrorist’ brings up 408,000,000 results. The sad fact of the matter is that, out of these 408,000,0o0  images, the images are all hauntingly similar: dark-skinned men with turbans wielding weapons or with bombs strapped to their chests. Is it possible that this is the image that all terrorists are molded to? The answer is no, of course. But the more important questions is; is this the image that we as Americans are stereotyping terrorists into? The answer to that is, unfortunately, yes. Ask an average American what they see when they picture a terrorist and they will most likely give you the same image:

Meet the “American Terrorist”- a koran-weidling, infadel-slaughtering image of the American mind. Is this a realistic image? Of course not. But certain events, especially September 11th, have implanted this image into our brains to the point where an alarm goes off in our head when we see a man of Middle-Eastern appearance walking casually through an airport. Is this fair? Absolutely not. We, as a society, only think about ourselves when profiling these people as terrorists and not of the people of Middle Eastern and Arab descent who are being profiled.  In her article “Profile of an Arab Daughter”, author Elmaz Abinader talks about life post 9-11 as an Arab girl in America. She speaks of the racism and hate she faced just because of the color of her skin or her nationality. She speaks of being profiled at airports as a terrorist and the difficulty she faced with cultural backlash after the tragedy. The article sheds light on the less discussed element of the national tragedy: the minorities who faced racism and hate from a grieving country.

A significant point in this article was the one that the author made when discussing racial profiling, especially the issues she faced when using air transit. After being stopped and searched at an airport, she stated; “They turned my purse inside out and x-rayed it. One guard picked every credit card out of my wallet held it to the light. They flipped through my notebook, shook out my magazines. I stayed in my position, staring with fury. No one else had been asked to stop.”  She spoke of how the other people in the airport passed through security without issues, going on their way while she, who had intentionally been traveling light, was stopped and searched.  This brought my mind to a place in which I was curious about racial profiling, and indignant about the injustices that those who are profiled faced.

I can’t promise that my ways will change immediately. It has been so burned into my brain, that perhaps for years I will be cautious of men who look ‘suspicious’ in airports, train stations, buses.  I can’t promise that there won’t be a secretive little whisper of fear when I get on a plane. I can’t make these promises because they are a part of who I am and what I learned as a child, but I can promise that for every time I unintentionally profile someone, I will do my best to go back on my expectations and fears and remember that we are all Americans. We all have the rights of freedom and equality. We are the melting pot, and it is only fair to give each person I see every day a fair and equal opinion.

It’s Getting Hot In Here…

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 The other day, I bought a beautiful coral sweater from H&M. Like, beautiful. I had been eyeing it up for weeks and the second I got my paycheck I got my butt to the mall and dropped a quarter of my paycheck on it. The first thing I checked before purchasing the sweater was, naturally, the price tag. Who doesn’t want to know how much they’re paying for a sweater? Certainly not me. The one thing that I didn’t look at, however, was the actual label which includes a piece of information that is so frequently overlooked: where the clothing was produced. I think that we all like to turn a blind eye, of sorts, in regards to how our clothing is produced. We’ve all heard of the work conditions that some of the people who produce clothing in third world countries have to endure, but we’d like to think that our favorite clothes are the ones that are made carefully and without pain so we can be free of guilt. The reality of it, however, is that a ridiculously small portion of items sold in stores were actually produced in America. My lovely sweater that I lusted over was, naturally, made in Bangladesh (“Where’s Bangladesh?!” was my next question). So the true question here is: Do we have a right to force others to make our products for us for a minimal wage? Or should we give them benefits and higher salaries and risk the economy?

Keep Your Friends Close…And Terrorists Far Away

Picture a terrorist. Seriously. Close your eyes, close your eyes and imagine a terrorist. A threat to public safety. More importantly, a threat to our country and our independence. Don’t think I don’t see you guys with your eyes open. I’m looking at all of you. Okay. So now open your eyes and tell me how accurate your mental picture was to this:

http://www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,20120924,00.html

Call me crazy, but is it just me or are terrorists always associated with flag-burning, violent, mobs of Koran-wielding Middle-Easterners?  Is that really a fair image? Of course not. It is, by far, the most offensive stereotype that is in our society today. I can’t even count on two hands how many times I’ve heard of people refer to Muslims as terrorists. Of course I want to shake them, shouting that not all those who practice Islam are terrorists. In fact, a very small number do. And who is at fault for the stereotype of Middle Eastern terrorism? The media.  I’m hardly denying that some terrorists are bred in the Middle East/ I’m simply saying that it is unfair to label Middle Easterners are terrorists and haters of America and our culture. I personally find that this image is extremely stereotypical, especially for a world news outlet. The tone is very angry and violent. So is it fair to stereotype one certain culture as dangerous or as terrorists? Is it fair to blame one group of people on all of our problems?

On Aqua di Gio,

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While walking through the mall the other day, I saw an advertisement similar to this one for a popular cologne. The model was the spitting image of male perfection: Sculpted body, chiseled jaw, full lips, perfectly coiffed hair, thoughtful stare off into the distance…I found myself, rather vainly thinking, why on Earth do not all men look like that? Naturally the answer is that not every man steps out of a black and white cologne ad retouched for perfection and looking for an average looking 18 year old to sweep off her feet. But for some reason, I found myself grumbling in my head about stupid, unattractive ex boyfriends and romantic interests as I walked away, silently cursing God for not giving me my Armani cologne boy. Looking back, I am alarmed at how often we females are bombarded by images of stereotypically perfect men and how we take these images! Our celebrity crushes are all sculpted, handsome, rugged looking men with perfect bodies and hair who appear on the big screen in romance movies that make us want to buy tickets for first class on a doomed-to-sink ship just to have the affection of. It really is no wonder that men these days are dishing out more money than ever to make themselves more appealing to women. While women may complain that they are the overly-sexed gender, men have it pretty hard themselves. While I’m hardly saying that we women don’t have it difficult because of the media-because we do- what I am saying is that men may have it just as hard. For example, in movies and television, overweight men often play the butt of jokes, the comedic characters who have no romantic interest. So is it that unfair to say that the media can make men feel insecure as well? As women we find it easiest to believe that we are the only sex who have body image issues because that’s what we’ve been brought up believing: girls have it the worst because the media tells them that they must look pretty. But is it that alarming that men are being influenced by media stereotypes just as much as we women are?