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Posts Tagged ‘Tragedy’

She had no idea

(I was inspired to write this after reading an article about the Indian woman gang-raped on a bus recently. As a warning before you read it, it gets graphic near the end… My heart breaks for her and every other woman violated all over the world.)

She had no idea what going out tonight would mean

In a country where women are seen

As less than men

And treated as such

She went out with him

A male friend

Nothing particularly out of the ordinary

Just seeing a film at the cinema

She came out smiling and laughing

Glad for the company

Who cares what the movie was about?

She boarded the bus with her friend

Picked out the seat

In the middle

Sat down

And without realizing sealed her fate

She saw the men get on at the next stop

Six men

One of them a minor

Not even a man yet

All glancing at her with sneers

And derision for being there

She didn’t belong

She heard the first one initiate the taunts

Degrading

Berating

Hurtful

She was ashamed

She saw another pull out an iron rod

Where did it come from?

He rose up from his seat

Moving toward her and her friend

Like a beast stalking its prey

She cringed as the rest followed suit

Pulling her friend aside

Beating him into submission

And tossing him away

She cried out in terror

As they dragged her to the back of the bus

And proceeded to violate her

In such monstrous ways that could not be described

Hands

Fingernails

Teeth

Dicks

All scratching

All beating

All slapping

All biting

All violating

She didn’t see the iron rod being brought forth

Plunging inside her

All the way into her being

Until it dragged out her insides

Dragging out her life’s essence

Dragging out her soul

At least she was mercifully borne away by the angels

Before she could experience that pain

How could the bus driver have allowed this

Going on a joy ride

Looking back in the mirror

Watching the murders

With sick satisfaction?

How?

Why?

How?

Why?

IndianWomanRaped

(Note: I’m not sure if the woman on the right is the actual woman that was raped on the bus. I’ve heard from some that it isn’t her. My heart goes out to all those affected and traumatized by rape. Hopefully more action to prevent a tragedy such as this from happening again can be taken.)

 

-Me

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The Titanic

(I wrote this in 2004 for my 8th grade Literature and Composition class. First is an original short story, and then a report.)

 

A Night Engraved in Memory

Every jarring motion that the precarious lifeboat made, as it lowered into the inky blackness of the Atlantic Ocean, jolted straight to Katherine Evan’s heart.  Her eyes locked with a dark-haired handsome twenty-year-old man.  The man seemed to be holding back the fear that entered his eyes just as the water seeped slowly into the “unsinkable” ship, Titanic.

“My love for you will never cease, Katherine; remember that,” he called, his voice cracking.

Katherine then knew what she had to do.

“Goodbye Mother and Josephine.  I apologize, but I must take another boat,” she said.

Her mother emitted a shrill, piercing shriek and held onto her left foot as Katherine grabbed hold of the railing of the massive ocean liner.  The high-buttoned shoe dislodged itself from her foot and plunged into the welcoming sea.  As she tumbled onto the deck, the young woman yanked off her other shoe.  What use is having only one bloody shoe? Katherine thought with frustration.  Her gaze searched for the young man.  Gone.  No terrified, remaining passenger wore his face.  She fervently ran and searched for him.  No one knew of him.  Up and down several stairs she scrambled.  When she reached the deck she started from, she knew that she must get onto a boat.

“Excuse me, sir.  Where are the lifeboats?” she asked a steward, fearing she already knew the answer.

“I apologize, Miss.  They’ve all gone,” the steward replied.

~*~

April 14, 1912 3:29 p.m.  I must say that today has the most beautiful weather I have ever witnessed with this magnificent voyage on the Titanic.  The sun shines like a beaming smile with a tease of a breeze brushing against my cheek.  Unfortunately, this vacation hasn’t been enjoyable in the least!  I’ve sat around sipping tea, listened to men boast about their money, and watched my little brat of a sister as she races about the decks the entire day!  What fun!  Today she’s dragged me onto the steerage deck of all places!  I long for an adventure and a man who will actually listen to my ideas. I’m not a bloody display doll!  Could life get any worse…  Katherine abruptly closed her diary as her sister ran up to her.

“Sissy, Sissy, Sissy, look at what I can do!” her sister Josephine cried as she twirled around and around.  “I can dance!”

“That’s just great, Josie,” said Katherine.  “Be careful; the last thing I need is a seasick sister.”

Suddenly, the bored eighteen-year-old recognized the familiar bulging and retching of her sister that she had witnessed more times than she needed to.  Katherine shouted for her to hurl over the railing, but her sister didn’t stagger over to it fast enough. A man with his cap over his face rested on a deck chair, unaware of the approaching child.  He jumped to his senses as Josie got sick all over him.

“Oh my goodness!  I’m terribly sorry!  My little sister didn’t mean it!  It’s nothing personal…” Katherine ranted.

“Calm down.  I’m fine.  It hasn’t made contact with my bare skin, so I should survive,” the man said.

“Well, it’s best for you to go and bathe,” Katherine suggested.

“It will most likely be a few days.  Only two bathtubs for the passengers in steerage exist on this ship,” the man said.

“Ugh!  Come with me,” Katherine exclaimed and dragged him away without his consent, leaving Josie behind.

The pair didn’t stop until they reached a gilded, first-class door.

“Hurry!  The tub should be filled with warm water.  I’ll keep watch,” Miss Evans said.

“But…”

“Just hurry!” she said and pushed him through the door.

~*~

Later that evening, Katherine waited in her bed until her parents’ whispers faded and her sister’s grunts and snores became overpowering.  She creaked the door open and tiptoed out into the hall.  Her feet seemed to sink a few inches into the fluffy carpet.  Stopping a stewardess, she asked for the whereabouts of the steerage dining room.  The stewardess warily told her and hurried away to replace sheets on a bed.  When Katherine strode through the entryway of the dining room, shouts and laughter met her ears.  Everyone danced about the room or sat on tables eating.  Spotting the familiar raven hair and chocolate eyes, Katherine sauntered over to the man she had met earlier that day .

“I believe that I have told you my name; you have yet to tell me yours,” she said coyly.

The man hastily rose and bowed extravagantly.

“My name is James Barrett, but you may call me James,” he said.  “What brings you to a dining room with such humble furnishings?  Were you seeking the amusement of watching people of a lower class than you?”

“Excuse me!  I have better manners than you assume!” she exclaimed.  “I was afraid that I would break one of those plates with gold edges if I dined there!  If you must know, I wanted to see you again.”

“Well, I am honored,” James said and bowed again.  “Would you care to dance with me, or will your parents have my head?”

“I haven’t the slightest care for my parents’ opinions!” she exclaimed and dragged him onto the dance floor.

“When your mind is set, it’s engraved in stone, isn’t it?!” James panted.

Katherine felt his strong, muscular arms enfold her waist.  For some strange reason, it felt right.  They discussed their passions and dreams for what seemed like hours.  She had never felt this way about any man before!  What the feeling was suddenly flashed in her brain like lightning.

“This may sound crazy.  After all, we’ve only just met!” she said nervously.  “What I’m trying to say is that I’ve fallen in love with your spirit.”

“That’s just too bad,” James said, his eyes glittering excitedly.  “I happen to have fallen in love with everything about you.”

After meeting in a passionate embrace, Katherine stared into his eyes and memorized every detail of him.  In a few days, she would never see him again; this night would only be a fleeting memory.  Little did she know, that time would come sooner than she thought.

~*~

James Barrett woke up sprawled on a rough, wooden bench inside of a tavern.  He was an extremely fortunate male steerage passenger to have been able to hop onto the last remaining lifeboat.  No one inquired about the class of any survivor.  Another day without Katherine would torment his soul.  He could not get her scent of spring flowers out of his mind.  A tall, gangly boy waved a newspaper and shouted that a list of the people who had not survived the sinking of the Titanic had been printed.  Scurrying out the door with a half-asleep foot, James bought a copy.  His eyes hungrily read the list, devouring every name.  His heart jumped to his throat and froze as he read the name… Katherine Evans.

 

Titanic

 

Report

1490 people died that morning on April 15, 1912 (RMS Titanic Inc 1).  The Titanic crashed and sank only four hundred miles away from the coast of Newfoundland (Ballard 20).  It was nearly at its destination!  Only 711 passengers were rescued.  That was thirty two percent of every one onboard (RMS Titanic Inc 1)!  What was it like on this unforgettable ship?  Why did it sink?  Most people thought it was unsinkable and wouldn’t listen when asked to get on a lifeboat.  Some thought that “the Titanic was jinxed because she had a mummy in the hold, a mummy that carried a curse with it.” (Sloan 19).  Whatever reason it was, the ship sank, and there’s evidence on the seafloor to prove it.  A woman’s high button shoe was discovered there (Kamuda 2).

The cost to build this enormous ship 1912 was 7.5 million dollars, but today the price would be 400 million dollars.  During construction, there were 240 accidents and eight deaths (Stewart 7,8).  Titanic’s maiden voyage would be the fifty nine year old Captain’s last job before he retired (Harmon 28).  Little did he know, he would go down with his ship?

Titanic was a floating, grand hotel!  There were thirteen honeymoons on the voyage (Sloan 85).  First class dining was elegant and exquisite.  They ate on china plates with twenty-two karat gold edges (Kamuda 4)!  A typical dinner in first class had about eight or nine courses (RMS Titanic Inc 1)!  The ship did have its drawbacks though; 710 steerage passengers had to share two bathtubs (Stewart 20).

On Wednesday, April 10, 1912 at approximately 12:00 pm, Titanic left Southampton, England on its journey to New York.  It hit the iceberg at about 11:40 pm April 14, 1912 (Stewart 5, 22).  The ice field was seventy-eight miles long (Ballard 20).  With twenty-eight out of the possible sixty-five passengers, the first lifeboat was lowered into the water at 12:22 am.  By approximately 2:15 am the next day, all of the lifeboats had left the Titanic.  The ship Carpathia arrived to save the survivors at 4:10 am (Stewart 24, 26, 29).  It docked in New York on Thursday, April eighteenth on a rainy day (Sloan 55).  No one is ever likely to forget this tragedy of the early twentieth century!

 

Works Cited

Ballard, Robert D.  Exploring the Titanic.  New York:  Scholastic/Madison Press, 1998.

Harmon, Dan.  The Titanic.  Philadelphia:  Chelsea House, 2001.

Kamuda, Edward S.  “Titanic Past and Present.”  Titanic Historical Society, Inc.  2004.                                       25 March 2004  <http://www.titanic1.org/articles/titanicpastandpresent.asp>

RMS Titanic, Inc.  “FAQ.”  RMS Titanic, Inc.  2004.  24 March 2004  <http://www.titanic-online.com/index.php4?page=faq>

RMS Titanic, Inc.  “Tabulation of Lives Saved and Lost.”  RMS Titanic, Inc.  2004.  24 March 2004 <http://www.titanic-online.com/index.php4?page=376>

RMS Titanic, Inc.  “Titanic.”  Titanic.  2003.  25 March 2004  <http://www.search.eb.com/titanic/01_01.htm>

Sloan, Frank.  Titanic.  New York:  Franklin Watts, 1987.

Stewart, David.  You Wouldn’t Want To Sail On the Titanic!  New York:  Scholastic Inc, 2001.

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I wrote this for my Shakespeare class last semester and thought I’d share it with anyone interested in reading it.

The Madness and Masculinity of Lady Macbeth

Bloodthirsty ambition and conquest run rampant in William Shakespeare’s violent play, The Tragedy of Macbeth. Success and the subsequent renown depend on the desire to strive for constant excellence and refuse defeat. There are no other settings in the works of this celebrated playwright that have a darker mood plagued by demons and witchcraft than in Macbeth’s Scotland.  Magic and malevolence infuse themselves inside the characters, inspiring deeds that cause a shudder to run through the soul. One of the most formidable characters responsible for the fatal consequences of the kingdom is the Lady Macbeth. In his psychological sketch, philosopher Robert Munro describes her as “the true Celtic type of woman… quick mind, a strong will, and a form beautiful as it was instinct with grace and animation” (Munro 30). She is a powerful ally to have by one’s side, terrible and fearless. In the male-dominated society which she is fully submerged, she recognizes that in order to be influential and successful she must destroy any part of her being that suggests her weaker femininity. Yet, as Lady Macbeth revokes her inherent nature, the unnatural desire of her self-masculinization inevitably leads to her demise.

From the moment she reads the letter of her husband with news of the witches’ cryptic prophecy declaring him to be the future king, Lady Macbeth becomes consumed by the goal to successfully bring it to reality. There is no room for a conscience in her mind or regard for anything outside of the plan.  She has a firm understanding of her husband’s personality and recognizes his weakness within: humanity. Deliberating with herself, she thinks of Macbeth and his potential in regard to what could come to pass: “Yet do I fear thy nature, / It is too full o’ th’ milk of human kindness / To catch the nearest way” (Shakespeare 1.5.16-18). He has great ambition but tends to carry out his deeds “highly” and “holily,” without “playing false.” In her belief, to have a conscience is to fail. With wickedness is the only possible method to carry out the deed, for that is the only state of being Lady Macbeth truly and comfortably carries within her.  She resolutely asserts the importance of not straying from the purpose and seeks to counteract her husband’s shortcomings. Confident in her abilities, she hurries him home so she can guarantee the success: “That I may pour my spirits in thine ear, / And chastise with the valor of my tongue \ All that impedes thee from the golden round” (1.5. 26-28). From the moment Macbeth returns, she takes control of the situation in the superior position, directing the affairs and formulating the plan to murder King Duncan who will be visiting their castle. In doing so, she shifts the balance of masculine dominance and power to her favor.

The chilling revocation of Lady Macbeth’s female being gives further insight into her conflict of identity. With fervent passion, she invokes the spirits to eliminate her gender and anything of her that could attribute to weakness and failure for the approaching deed, replacing it with malice and cruelty. As Janet Adelman writes in her essay on “Fantasies of Maternal Power,” “[Lady Macbeth] imagines an attack on the reproductive passages of her body, on what makes her specifically female” (Adelman 111). The thickening of her blood and end to her menstrual cycle symbolize the halt of empathy associated with women and any forthcoming sweet nature that could possibly distract her from the task.  She calls the evil spirits to her breasts to take her milk for poison. Some scholars interpret this as the exchange of milk for poison, but others suggest it could signify the demons nursing at her breasts and finding already within them the poison (112). Extracting the representation of the ultimate feminine form of nurturance and replacing it with a deadly fluid takes away more than what makes her a woman. It takes away her very soul, leaving behind a frightening monster.

The dominating fearlessness of Lady Macbeth’s resolve to prove herself an equal in the world of men brings about a resolute inner strength that builds up and overflows onto her influence over other people, particularly her husband. Professor Bradley calls it an “inflexibility of will, which appears to hold imagination, feeling, and conscience completely in check” (Bradley 366). When Macbeth admits he is having second thoughts about murdering Duncan, she erupts and proceeds to question his very masculinity. In the militaristic society, threats of cowardice are a serious insult, particularly to Macbeth who was already admired for his prowess in battle.  Carrying out the murder and thus ensuring the crown becomes the only way she can accept him as a true man. “When you durst do it, then you were a man; / And to be more than what you were, you would / Be so much more the man” (Shakespeare 1.7.49-51). Her devotion to the deed evolves into obsession.

Lady Macbeth further denies her feminine nature by relating in horrific detail how she would even be able to kill her own child if she did not live up to what she had promised as he had. “I would, while it was smiling in my face, / Have pluck’d my nipple from his boneless gums, / And dash’d the brains out, had I so sworn as you / Have done to this” (1.7.56-59). Her choice of language is masculine in nature rather than the soft, supportive tones that would be deemed more acceptable of a woman as she continues with the persuasion. Rarely would a wife tell her husband to “screw [his] courage to the sticking place” (1.7.60). Robert Munro suggests, “She knew his strength and weaknesses, his hopes and fears, and with a skill that is almost demoniac, and too horrible to conceive as existing in a woman… she played upon his nature with as much ease as if she was fingering the strings of her native harp” (Munro 31). Surprised by her power and resolution, Macbeth marvels at her attitude and praises her dominance. Through the personal appeals, her force of will, and his admiration for her, she succeeds in convincing him to kill Duncan.

As time passes, the reader sees a slight shift in Lady Macbeth’s character. In Act Two, Scene two, she is emboldened by liquor also used to incapacitate the king’s chamberlains while the murder is carried out. A brief moment of doubt falls upon her as she wonders whether Macbeth could bring himself to do it, and she says, “Had he not resembled / My father as he slept, I had done’t” (2.2.12-13). The mention of her father is a glimpse of her humanity otherwise not shown. She does have a conscience and familial bond, even if those aspects are hidden deeply away.

When Macbeth returns from the chamber after the murders, her ruthless leadership and strength once again take charge in compensation for his anxious guilt. She asserts, “These deeds must not be thought / After these ways; so, it will make us mad” (2.2.30-31). It is counterproductive for worry about what has been done to overshadow their new lives as rulers. As the blood is washed away from their hands, she assures the washing away of their guilt. Bradley comments on Lady Macbeth’s choice to bury her humanity stating, “We find no trace of pity for the kind old king; no consciousness of the treachery and baseness of the murder; no sense of the value of the lives of the wretched men on whom the quiet is to be laid; no shrinking even from the condemnation or hatred of the world” (Bradley 368). However, these feelings buried deep within her psyche do not have the ability to be hidden forever.

The emergence of Lady Macbeth in Act Three as queen continues the steady deterioration of her once fiery and merciless character. Gaining the throne did not bring the fulfillment she expected, especially at its price. Listlessness fills her as she sighs, “Nought’s had, all’s spent, \ Where our desire is got without content; / ‘Tis safer to be that which we destroy / Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy” (3.2.4-7). Macbeth has spiraled out of control, consumed with paranoia and delegating more murders to ensure the security of his status as king. His wife feels distanced when he no longer seeks her for advice, instead choosing to keep alone with his maddening thoughts. He brushes her aside, telling her it is not necessary for her to know all of his plans despite her desire to be involved. This makes it particularly difficult when he sees the vision of Banquo’s ghost at the feast and Lady Macbeth as the hostess must quickly rise and account for his delusional exclamations. Her once commanding presence is now reduced to a wife fruitlessly struggling to provide relief for a husband sinking deeper into destruction.

Without explanation, Lady Macbeth disappears from mention and does not re-appear until the final act. The woman that emerges is a shell, tormented by the guilt that finally plunges her into madness. Munro believes it is caused by her brooding too long over the singular idea of gaining and keeping power as well as “being thrown too much on her own company” (Munro 32). Much to the concern of doctors, she would wander the corridors, holding a candle and wringing her hands in an attempt to wash away the imaginary blood from her ill-fated crime. Her unconscious verbal confession comes forth as a testament to the futility of burying such a crime. In the end, the torment consumes her to the point where the only way to escape is to take her own life. The fall of Lady Macbeth is a chilling example of how suppressing one’s true nature will inevitably lead to ruin.

Works Cited

Adelman, Janet. “’Born of Woman’: Fantasies of Maternal Power in Macbeth.” Shakespearean Tragedy and Gender. Eds. Shirley Nelson Garner and Madelon Sprengnether. Bloomington and Indianapolis: IndianaUniversity Press, 1996. 104-134.

Bradley, Andrew C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth. London: Macmillan and Co., 1952.

Munro, Robert. “Lady Macbeth: A Psychological Sketch.” The Journal of Speculative Philosophy. 21.1 (1887), 30-36. 17 April 2012 <http://www.jstor.org/stable/25668126&gt;.

Shakespeare, William. “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd Ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997. 1360-1387.

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