[Not] For Technophobes

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October 31, 2010

Victor Frankenstein, Monster.

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 1:06 pm

Frankenstein, through scientific dedication and study, becomes the creator of life in the novel. Beforehand there were no referenced to God, but soon into the text the reader can see the similarities in Frankenstein and ideas of God, but rather as an unjust and as an imperfect creator. Though he is the maker of the monster Frankenstein is not happy with his creation and thus attempts to forget about its existence until he learns that the monster killed his brother. This is when Frankenstein wishes for the death of the monster and goes about to succeed in it.

However, the monster is a factor that is not looked at directly. He did not ask to be created but he exists, and of all the creatures on the planet he can find no companion. His existence has no meaning because he has no companion and his creator wants nothing to do with him. Created from need and discarded because of fear, the monster exposes Frankenstein’s real identity; that of true monster: a giver and taker of life, one who with the frightening meeting with his creation condemns it to a life of loneliness. Frankenstein becomes an unjust God.

October 24, 2010

Thomas the Tank Engine

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 1:14 pm

Thomas, a steam engine from the trains of Sodor, is based on the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) E2 Class. These were a class of 0-6-0T steam locomotives designed by Lawson Billinton in 1913, intended for shunting and short distance freight trains. Thomas was created by Rev. W and Christopher Awdry in 1946.

LB&SCR E2 Class

I think that Thomas’ creation was a psychological response to the astounding advances in technology that occurred during World War II. Instead of tanks and bombers, society was presented with a happy and friendly steam engine. What harm can coal and water do to the people of Europe? This non-threatening image of technology served as a solace to a country directly affected by war.

Thomas can also be seen as a figure of the technological assimilation of children after WWII. These children would now be raised in a world full of destructive technological elements and it is understandable that parents and the greater part of society would want them to grow up accustomed to the idea of this shifting and developing world.

Being a blue, red and white train, Thomas can be associated with the Allied forces of WWII, mainly France, Great Britain and the U.S.A. He is a train we can trust. He is a symbol of technology as a good element in society. He is a helpful train, so of course children would grow up with the belief that technology is here to help us live and we need and should want it in our lives. Though he is a train that predominately smiles and laughs, he rarely frowns and I believe he has cried once in his steam engine existence. Growing up on Thomas I was more willing to ride on the subway and buses. I viewed them as non-threatening modes of transportation. I knew nothing of the second Industrial Revolution. Technology was simply a part of my existence.

So what is the affect of Thomas the Tank Engine? It is not so much what his character has done for children of the mid-late twentieth century but, rather, what his creation says about the adults of that same time. Books, toys and programs designed for children also have aspects that are directed towards adults, so that they may feel secure in allowing their children to be exposed to them. A docile tank engine was fun for children but it was predominately comforting for the adult. Thomas was built for short distance travel, so he would never go too far from home. Never in real harm and always finding someone who could help him or needed his help, parents now choose to believe that their children would be safe in a constantly developing world.

October 19, 2010

Penitentiary Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 2:46 am

Penitentiary (Adjective)

1.      Of penance

Relating to penance.

2.      Concerning punishment or reform

Involving or used for the punishment or reform of offenders

3.      Punishable by imprisonment in penitentiary

Criminal law punishable by a term of imprisonment in a penitentiary



Penal Colony

Labor Camp


In reference to the above definition the “new penitentiary” can be viewed as a new reform idea. A new method enacted under the reign of Elizabeth I and followed through under the reign of James I; the act of saving a life by sending a person to a rough and “uncivilized” country where they would have to fight for their own sustenance. This act would not only force them to have to learn how to want to live and find sources of nourishment, this would in effect force the punished to develop a civil society of their own. This is what Robinson Crusoe is forced to do. Crusoe is a man who rejects the comforts of life offered to him by his parents. Instead, he seeks the adventured offered to him by the sea. Though his first voyage is a failure he does not disparage the missteps in his new life, he quickly falls further into the abyss of a newer and more dangerous world.

The manner in which he ends up on his solitary island is, of course, purely accidental; however, his being stranded forces him to make a home from nothing. Having to make things from scratch and teaches Crusoe the value of working from the bottom up and does make him pine for the comforts of life that were once offered to him by his parents.  As Bender mentions, Crusoe is forced to start a regiment and a system in order to maintain his sustenance. He farms and picks fruit and takes care of his live stock. He is thus enabled to live a comfortable life now that he has accepted a mandatory structure and orderliness in his life.  This is much different than how his life as a gentleman might have been if he heeded the counsel of his father.

Crusoe, through his constant desire for adventure, is stifled at the height of his personal productivity; after having established a growing and prosperous tobacco plantation from his own hard work Crusoe slips into the mentality of the colonizer and seeks the advantages of slave holding. It is not completely lost on the reader that Crusoe’s subsequent shipwreck is another dashing of his plans to conquer a people when he has not even managed to conquer himself.  Imprisoned on the unnamed island having all the freedom that he was so desirous of while simultaneously having said desires crushed out by this revelation. He obtains his goal and realizes his constant dissatisfaction, leading to a life time of self enforced labor for the basics of sustenance.

Defoe develops a matrix of the novel and of the city in Robinson Crusoe. The words Bender uses that signify society “(justification, investigation, compilation, adjudication, letters, lists, receipts, journals, records, evidentiary details)” are all represented in the novel. Crusoe implements all of these elements of “civil” society into his structuring of the island: journal making of his first two years on the island, letters left to the Spanish crew who were to be expected, a mental list of all his goods and their non-monetary value to his sustenance. He narrates all of his years abroad by writing a full account of the trials he faced while in an unconquered land, which he proceeds to conquer when he established order and as Bender states, when Crusoe presents himself as the Governor of the island.  At his rescue from the island and his years following, Crusoe seems to have grown from a decidedly unaware self-saboteur to a man who seeks only what was already his and nothing that is new.

Works Cited

Robinson Crusoe. Defoe, Daniel. Ed. Shinagel, Michael. 2nd Edition. Norton Critical Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 1994. 1-120.

“The Novel and the Rise of Penitentiary: Robinson Crusoe.” Bender, John. Robinson Crusoe. Defoe, Daniel. Ed. Shinagel, Michael. 2nd Edition. Norton Critical Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 1994. 373-390.

October 4, 2010

The Affects of the Island in The Tempest

Filed under: Uncategorized — E. A. @ 5:53 pm

Elizabeth Arestyl

Professor Buell

English 399w

4 October 2010

The Affects of the Island in The Tempest

William Shakespeare’s play, The Tempest the inhabitants of the unnamed island observing a temperamental storm at sea; however, throughout the play the most unpredictable setting becomes the island itself, influencing Prospero and other characters. The island and its elements can be viewed as a technological shift in the lives of the characters, which few use to further their own personal aims.

Gonzalo is the first of the nobles to use the island to his own and Alonso’s advantage. It is in their best interests to remain calm and together on this alien island even though it is highly probable that Prince Ferdinand is dead:

“Beseech you, sir, be merry. You have cause

(So have we all) of joy; for our escape

Is much beyond our loss. Our hint of woe

Is common: everyday some sailor’s wife,

The master of some merchant, and the merchant

Have just our theme of woe. But for the miracle—

I mean our preservation—few in millions

Can speak like us. Then wisely, good sir, weigh

Our sorrow with our comfort” (II i.1-9).

Gonzalo tries to calm Alonso with the comfort of having their lives thanks to the island. The island is what they have that many other shipwrecked people lacked, which resulted in their untimely deaths. Gonzalo’s reference to common death at sea can be seen as his way to tell Alonso that Ferdinand’s death was unavoidable but their survival is then that much more profound and unbelievable; therefore, Alonso should not mourn for something that was very likely to happen at sea, rather, he should celebrate for his and his noblemen’s unlikely survival. Without the island’s existence, first off, Gonzalo would not be able to plead is argument to Alonso.

Antonio and Sebastian are the second and third of the noblemen who the island affects. When Alonso and Gonzalo fall asleep the seclusion of the island tempts Antonio and Sebastian, exposing their true selves, and they begin to plot the double murder of the king of Naples and his elderly counselor. At first it is Antonio who drops hints about getting away with murder and a title, “Th’ occasion speaks thee, and/My strong imagination sees a crown/Dropping upon thy head” and Sebastian is reluctant to take his line of thought seriously, instead choosing to believe that Antonio is dreaming, “It is sleepy language, and thou speak’st/Out of thy sleep (II.i.203-205, 207-208). One can argue that Antonio believes that if no one can find the island no one will find the bodies; that he believes the remainder of the crew to be dead or lost at sea and soon will be dead, therefore, there will be no differing testimony when Sebastian and he are brought up for question of the events of the shipwreck. The island’s magic is giving these two characters enough time to show their mercenary traits, killing for titles denied to them by secondary birth. It is just when Alonso and Sebastian fully commit to the murders when Ariel—the magical spirit on the island—returns and awakens Gonzalo with haste for his life, “If of life you keep a care,/Shake off slumber and beware./Awake, awake” (II.i.299-301). Ariel is only involved with the noblemen because he is indebted to Prospero, who promises his freedom after the allotted hours have passed.

Prospero, the Milanese Duke can be regarded as the most changed by the island seeing as how with its magical aid he was able to change the outcome of his life. At the end of act V proper has arranged a marriage between Ferdinand and Miranda thus linking the two houses closer than Antonio’s mere pledge of fealty, and in doing so forces Alonso to acknowledge their new relationship and its need for respect. However, one can argue that Prospero is negatively affected by the island. He is the hand that forces Ariel to put Gonzalo to sleep which places Gonzalo’s life in danger, it is Prospero who sends Ariel to separate the Neapolitans throughout the island; therefore, it is reasonable to believe that Prospero’s ‘rebirth’ is sullied by the many methods of reprisal offered to him by the island. One can argue that Prospero found no better way, other than controlling, to ensure the aid of the spirits of the island.(II.i.SD).

Proof of the island’s corruption of Prospero—and, indirectly, the spirits—can be shown by Caliban’s reaction to hearing thunder while gathering fire wood and wishing harm to Prospero:

“                      His spirits hear me,

And yet I needs must curse, But they’ll nor pinch,

Fright me with urchin-shows, pitch me i’ th’ mire,

Nor lead me, like a fire-brand, in the dark

Out of my way, unless he bid ‘em. But

For every trifle are they set upon me;

Sometimes like apes that mow and chatter at me,

And after bite me; then like hedgehogs, which

Lie tumbling in my barefoot way and mount

Their pricks at my footfall; sometime am I

All wound with adders, who with cloven tongues

Do hiss me into madness” (II.i.SD, 1-14).

Having been educated by Prospero and Miranda, the reader must infer that Caliban had no knowledge of pain prior to Prospero’s arrival on the island, so it is not far to presume that Prospero does use the magic of the island to abuse Caliban. Prospero’s intense study of the island magic and what Caliban reveals about the island cause Prospero’s powers to become vast enough and make him appear to be an omniscient being. In giving Prospero God-like powers the island enables him to erase his past and alter his fate.

The further one reads into The Tempest the island is revealed a tool with incredible powers that can enable its wielder to do either good or destructive things. Gonzalo thought it a place of security and a god-send when they thought themselves fit to die; Antonio and Sebastian thought it would be a place to hold the secret of the disappearance of King Alonso and Gonzalo, which would have been a magnificent but deadly feat. However, Prospero manages to keep all life safe and take a title while skillfully wielding control over the island. His control over the different aspects and the outcomes of many events on the island portray the island’s full power and his learned grasp of the diverse elements of the island’s nature and its magic.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. The Tempest. Ed. Sherman, William H. and Peter Hulme.

Norton Critical Ed. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2004. 1-77.


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