English Literature from 1800- the Present
Reading Journal: H.G. Well’s “The Time Machine”

The futuristic world that the Time Traveler had gone to looked to reflect something like a utopia at first glance when he described the people of that society, the Eloi. At first I was somewhat reminded of the English 215 reading of Thomas More’s Utopia when it seemed the Eloi were living a perfect (or at least as very close to perfect) communal society to the point of them eating only fruits, though it was explained that domestic animals such as “horse, cattle, sheep, dogs” (page 23) and so on have been extinct. But that first impression of them changed when he came across the nocturnal creature on page 38 he called Lemur (page 39). When this creature appears in Chapter 8 and the Time Traveler is describing it, I felt that it was out of place among the Eloi. These nocturnal creatures, it is later learned are called Morlocks and lived underground, under the Eloi’s bright, above the surface world. By this point, I feel that the story now has a deeper meaning in reflecting the society of Victorian England. The Industrial Revolution, I’m guessing, was at its height when the story was either being written or around the time it was published. In my speculation, in this time period where the Industrial Revolution is in full swing in the Victorian Age, class divisions was largely different and separated. The upper class had a luxurious and comfortable lifestyle it seemed that it could almost be seen from an outside perspective, and especially for the working middle and lower classes, as a perfect society, almost utopia. They could be compared to the Eloi. The working middle class, and maybe even the struggling lower class, worked hard just to survive from day to day. And if the upper class society were the Eloi, then the working class could be labeled as the Morlocks in comparison. The dark conditions of the underground, as described by the Time Traveler, reminded me of the description from one of last week’s reading of the work conditions of the mines in “The Children’s Employment Commission” where the tunnels were dark and the children couldn’t be distinguished of their gender by how poorly and dirty they looked. I did find it interesting that Wells can be almost criticizing how society was, or at least heading, if they didn’t accept the progress in science, technology, and so on as can be reflected in the first chapter when the Time Traveler is explaining to his guest about the Fourth Dimension and Filby is being argumentative and not really open to the idea of having a Fourth Dimension. Overall, I enjoyed “The Time Machine”.

"The Children’s Employment Commission"

I remember William Blake briefly describing child laborers in his two poems entitles “The Chimney Sweep.” But unlike Blake’s poems, the excerpt from First Report of the Commissioners, Mines is a first hand report of what a child goes through. The short paragraph of Margaret Gomley, one of the children working in the mines of the United Kingdom, was only a glimpse of the true horror of what the children went through. I was able to appreciate that I got that small glimpse of the work conditions of the mines for the children as well as how badley they were treated. It gave me a better understanding of their difficulties that they faced everyday. At first reading, I had a somewhat similar reaction as the commissioner towards how the children looked and overall conditions of the mines based on his description in his commentary. And when he stated on page 1564 that even the worst of all the factories weren’t as bad as the conditions of these mines, it was utter shock for me. I was somewhat familiar with how horrible conditions were in factories, and have him mention that the mines were worse, I can understand, and empathize, with Margaret in wanting to work in a factory any day over the mines.

Reading Journal: John Keats “La Belle Dame sans Merci”

John Keats’ “La Belle Dame sans Merci” is a poem that talks about the supernatural that incorporates life and death. It doesn’t directly speaks of both life and death but rather through description. In the poem, Keats talks about life when the knight is describing the queen stanza 4, line 16 stating that “her eyes were wild”. It seemed death was a more predominant theme when at the beginning, a speaker asks the knight why he looks “palely”. To me it seems like at this point the knight is at the brink of death. It also looks to me that the knight could already be a ghost that the speaker is already speaking to. The unknown speaker also describes the knight’s “cheeks a fading rose” whose color is fading fast in lines 11 and 12. Also the fact that there aren’t any birds as mentioned in lines 4 and 48 which to me sounds like there isn’t life at this place where the knight and speaker is speaking.

Reading Journal: Samuel Taylor Coleridge “Dejection: An Ode”

From reading the brief biography provided in the textbook, Coleridge seems to have had a troubled start in his youth which would foreshadow what would happen to him later on in his later years of life as an adult. Physical pain had affected him to the point that he had to be prescribed opium in the form of laundanum where the drug was mixed with alcohol. This initial use of the drug brought about an addiction in which he wrote “Dejection: an Ode,” a poem about his drug use.

"Pains of Sleep," like "Dejection," is another poem Coleridge wrote describing his addiction and some of its affects on him. Ay first reading,cruel poem seemed like the stanzas were in sonnet form. But in closer look, the number of lines varied and didn’t contain the 14 lines of a typical stanza common in literature. (Stanza 1 has 13 lines, stanza 2 has 19 lines, and stanza 3 has 20 lines for a total of 52 lines in the poem.) The tone of the poem sounded like it was one of pain, but not quite of heartache. Rather, the tone sounded like pain in the sense of suffering and agony. As the biography described, Coleridge suffered from physical pains that led to his use of opium, but these pains and suffering that he is describing were the side effects of his drug use. With the tone of the poem and the description of his troubles sleeping, it also almost sounds like the poem was written during a period of time when Coleridge may have possibly been experiencing some withdrawal symptom.

In the first four lines of the the last stanza, lines 33-36, it’s written that the want of sleep is much desperately needed that to have it would be a “wide blessing” (line 35). And when he finally gets even just a little, as stated in the following lines, his rest gets disrupted by nightmares, which Coleridge calls “fiendish dreams” in line 38, and causes him to weep over the lack of sleep and struggles of staying asleep.

Thoughts on Charlotte Smith’s “On Being Cautioned”

Like what was said in the biography provided in the book, Smith had helped regain the sonnet’s popularity by the late 18th century with Coolridge by “refashioning” the literary form of expression, which had at one point been widely and popularly used during the Renaissance period by famed writers such as Milton, Donne, and, of course, Shakespeare. Her sonnet “On Being Caution” is (obviously) much different than the sonnets I’ve gotten used to reading by Shakespeare and even Milton. “On Being Caution” has a tone that contains both a bit of curiosity asking if such a man exists living who lives by the cliffs that over looks the sea and seems to be unaware by the condition of his mental state, as well as some pity at the end of the sonnet towards the man who does seem to her, and society, to have some kind of mental disability as she describes him to mutter to himself, have “wild and hollow eyes” (line 3).

William Blake’s “The Tyger” plate from my presentation.
Presentation content:
William Blake’s “The Tyger”
William Blake’s “The Tyger” from Songs of Experience has 6 quatrains with 12 pairs of couplets with the first and last quatrains having an AABB rhyme scheme.
As far as the first and last quatrains go, they are very similar with only subtle variation with different words at the beginning of the last lines of each quatrain (“Could” in Line 4 and “Dare” in Line 24).
With the changing of the words, the tone of the speaker also changes within the questions being asked, from a seemingly innocent curiosity in the first quatrain to a darker, somewhat cautious or, for the lack of a better word, “fearful” questioning.
 Blake often uses the Lamb as a motif in many of his works so it’s not much of a surprise that the Lamb was mentioned in Line 20 of the poem (“Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”).
 Though the symbol of the lamb is usually a portrayal of innocence, I find that its appearance in the line is fitting with the way the question was asked. 
§  In comparison to the Lamb, the Tyger is the more aggressive animal, and because of this the speaker seems to ask not only did the same creator who made the Lamb also make the Tyger but also how can the creator who made an innocent Lamb also make the Tyger, a fearful and aggressive beast.
Discussion Questions
1)      Other than the obvious symbolism of the Lamb and Tyger being innocence and aggression respectively as well as a young child and a grown adult, what can the two creatures metaphorically and symbolically represent?
2)      How does the time period the poem “The Tyger” had been written relate to the it and what can be said about the viewpoint of society of the time in the subjects of adulthood and the innocence of children?

William Blake’s “The Tyger” plate from my presentation.

Presentation content:

William Blake’s “The Tyger”

  • William Blake’s “The Tyger” from Songs of Experience has 6 quatrains with 12 pairs of couplets with the first and last quatrains having an AABB rhyme scheme.
  • As far as the first and last quatrains go, they are very similar with only subtle variation with different words at the beginning of the last lines of each quatrain (“Could” in Line 4 and “Dare” in Line 24).
  • With the changing of the words, the tone of the speaker also changes within the questions being asked, from a seemingly innocent curiosity in the first quatrain to a darker, somewhat cautious or, for the lack of a better word, “fearful” questioning.
  •  Blake often uses the Lamb as a motif in many of his works so it’s not much of a surprise that the Lamb was mentioned in Line 20 of the poem (“Did he who made the Lamb make thee?”).
  •  Though the symbol of the lamb is usually a portrayal of innocence, I find that its appearance in the line is fitting with the way the question was asked.
  • §  In comparison to the Lamb, the Tyger is the more aggressive animal, and because of this the speaker seems to ask not only did the same creator who made the Lamb also make the Tyger but also how can the creator who made an innocent Lamb also make the Tyger, a fearful and aggressive beast.

Discussion Questions

1)      Other than the obvious symbolism of the Lamb and Tyger being innocence and aggression respectively as well as a young child and a grown adult, what can the two creatures metaphorically and symbolically represent?

2)      How does the time period the poem “The Tyger” had been written relate to the it and what can be said about the viewpoint of society of the time in the subjects of adulthood and the innocence of children?