Friday, March 25, 2005

Magic a Crutch?

1.) It’s about time! I usually don’t show that much emotion but my reading material, as of recently, has been saturated by hidden agendas and mini people. Now we are reading a first rate novel written without any controversial elements. First off, a controversial topic which has been floating around the class discussion must be put to rest. What gives me the right, or even the academia to act as an expert witness? This is my blog. The idea that has been passed around class is that The Prisoner of Azkaban has a hidden gay rights agenda and I’m sorry to be contradictory but Professor Lupin does not represent the homosexual community. I find that in our modern day education, every book we read has to have a secret meaning or stance the author is a proponent. Why can’t we just read a book and enjoy the story? When parents tell their kids a story, are they sculpting their ideas about certain social issues? NO, a story is designed for entertainment purposes. To wrap up I just want to say, I am a big fan of Harry Potter and that I am not against gay rights but I am against assigning social agendas to children’s books.

2.) The Prisoner of Azkaban revolves around a boy and his adventures in a magical world. In Harry Potter, magic was evident throughout but the resolution always stems from more mundane elements. When Harry was faced with a boggart, which transformed into a dementor, his magic failed him but the humanistic virtue which helped him succeed was persistence and bravery. Every time he faced the dementor he heard his parents being murdered, but when he attempted to just utter the spell, a “white fog obscured his senses” and then “Harry, Harry wakeup.” (178). This quote evidenced that magic was just the physical tool displayed to represent his warring mind. After he passes out, it was not magic that forced him up, rather it was the mundane human quality of never giving up. A flying horse, another example of magic, was used as the crutch for Sirius’s escape from imprisonment. However, this form of magical assistance wasn’t any different from a jail break in the 1800’s via a horse or in the 1900’s using a helicopter to extract a captive. The author in Harry Potter used the flying horse to enter into the realm of fantasy not to diverge from the practical.

The climax where Harry was fighting the dementors by the lake, he used the patronous spell to save the day. Harry relied on magic to attain the resolution to the climax however this wasn’t any different from a soldier relying on his weapons to save civilians. In “Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban”, the use of magic was acceptable because it is just expressed humanistic tools or virtues as fantasy elements.

Thorin, The Hero?

1.) I want to take some of my personal time to comment on “The Hobbit”. I had previously stated its shortcoming but, unfairly withheld any laudations about the plot. Though the storyline was straightforward, bordering on redundant, it had an unique ability to keep the reader interested. I believe that the book was written for a culture who loves heroes and even though the ending of the story was far from deceptive, it had the attended effect of provoking the readers emotion. Who could scoff at the valiant, fearless charge of the undersized Thorin. The selfless heroics of the men and elves in their deadly battle with the goblins or even the clever and witty Bilbo, never to be outthought. “The Hobbit” is a book that when broken down, appeals to two emotions prided in our culture, bravery and intellectual prowess. “The Hobbit” gains mass acclamation by appealing to virtues treasured in our society.

2.) A hero is one who goes above and beyond his limitation or in this case, character complexion restrictions. Thorin was the hero of “The Hobbit” because in the final scene he was able to transcend his characters limits and help his friends win the battle. Thorin had two limits that restricted his characters appeal and heroism throughout the story, pride and greed. An example of Throrin’s unchecked pride was when he addressed the men in the village saying he was “Thorin son of Thror King under the mountain” (212). Throughout the story Thorin continually referred to his prided ancestry believing that bloodline was the determining factor of a man’s stature. He had a pompous attitude toward his companion dwarves, who he feels superior to because of his glorified ancestry. This pompous attitude towards his own friends was evidenced at Bilbo’s house when the dwarves were cleaning up but “not Thorin, he was too important, and stayed talking to Gandalf” (15). This quotes showed Thorin’s view on his superiority to the other dwarves. Thorin also had an immense disposition to the beautiful things of the world, gold. The whole storyline was based on Thorin’s impulse to retrieve the treasure from the mountain. This particular characteristic continually interfered with his reasonable judgment as evidenced when he was confronted by the men of the village, he said, “But none of our gold shall thieves take or the violent carry off while we are alive” (280). This quote portrayed the negative influence of greed on Thorin’s decision even when presented with the facts that there wasn’t any food and they were outnumbered by a couple hundred men. Another example of Thorin allowing his greed to conqueror sound judgment was when he discovered Bilbo gave his precious gem to the men, he proceeded to rant “As for you I will throw you to the rocks! He cried and lifted Bilbo in his arms.” (297). In this quote he allowed his greed to blind him from his true treasure, the friendship between Bilbo and himself. Thorin had many faults seen throughout the novel, however when the final battle took on a desperate appearance, one dwarf stepped up to the challenge by selfless heroic action. Thorin’s heroics were most clearly represented during the final battle when “and from the Gate came a trumpet call. They had forgotten Thorin! Part of the wall, moved by levers fell outward with a crash into the pool. Out leapt the King under the Mountain.” (306). In the most crucial battle, Thorin transcended his greed and pride and fought with selfless bravery.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

From Page to Screen

1.) I just want to take some time to talk a little more about the Harry Potter book. I believe that this is one of the greatest novels in previous years. I know there has been better literary structured novels or more sophisticated works but in succeeding in its purpose, Harry Potter takes the cake. The main goal of the Harry Potter series was to relate to the mainstream audience, and as evidenced over the past few years it has succeeded past anyone’s wildest dreams. One of the key components was the novel's uncanny ability to stoke the flames of imagination. It causes the mind to delve into the world of fantasy and to sculpt its own magical reality. This one feat has caused millions of fans to flock to the shelves upon the distribution of a new book in the series. The Harry Potter novel, in my opinion, is one of the greatest literary successes in recent years because of its unique ability to enhance the audience’s imagination.

2.) How does a fantasy movie compare to its base novel has been one of the most prevalent judges of a film. In general, especially with fantasy movies, the film never ascertains the same successful status as the novel. The book allows for the reader’s imagination to shape the fantasy reality in a way that is most gratifying to the specific individual. Fantasy films, on the other hand, severely restrict the ability of the audience to transform the story into their own fantasy reality. Fantasy novels in general will be more entertaining then films because they allow the audience to experience them in their own individual way.

Another reason why fantasy films are substandard in comparison to their base novel is because the movie cuts out many parts of the story line. The movie "Harry Potter and The prisoner of Azkaban" omitted many crucial details of the original novel plots. These included classic confrontations with Snape and Hermione’s magical disappearances. The greatest loss from the transfusion of a book to the movie is the atmosphere of the setting. For example, in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban", the novel spends a good third of its story presenting everyday interactions in the castle that build up to the final climax. The movie was unable to implement this literary tool because of the restriction of time for the film. A fantasy movie will always fall short of its preceding novel because it can not be individually perceived and also because of its exclusion of many aspects of the plot.

Novels, historically, have provided a great source of imaginative escape for the reader. In twenty first century society however the majority of the population has become fixated on visuals such as TV and cinemas. Has the mass production of screen visuals taken away from the imagination? The first answer to this question is yes. Since the fixation of visual productions has occurred the amount of literary experience for a person has decreased and consequently so has the use of the imagination. Though visual productions have taken away from the amount of time allotted to the imagination, it does not negate the effects of a fantasy novel. Visual productions also can be beneficial to the imagination employed in fantasy novels. The visuals that are experienced on a daily basis fine tune the imaginative capabilities of a reader. The present fixation on visual presentations decreases the amount of time an individual can delve into the imaginary realm however it also sharpens the minds visual capabilities.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Response To Josecuervo’s: “What Adults Can Learn from The Hobbit”

1. This assignment is the hardest as of yet, for a few reasons. First, it is downright unpleasant to attack or even to that matter critique someone else’s ideas behind an alias. I’m all for debating ideas, maybe not politics or religion, but this assignment isn’t a classic debate, rather it’s like beating up a blind person who has no arms. No offense to anyone blind, I have a great respect for you, but I make this analogy because we’re attacking our classmates who are blind to our identity and incapable of retorting. Then again, I’ll be fine with the assignment as long as no one touches my work. Sorry Jose.

2. Josecuervo addressed the question “If The Hobbit is a children’s story, what can (or should) adults learn from it?” The response given for this question is that in “The Hobbit” size is directly proportional to the wisdom and power of the character. He/She mentions Gandalf and Beorn as evidence to support his/her theory that stature of the character relates to his power. Josecuervo, in the end partially acknowledged the fallibility of his response, that size is proportional to power, by recognizing Bilbo’s greatness. However, Josecuervo fails to approach his response from the other side; the big people in the story whose stature doesn’t correspond to their power and wisdom. The man, who reflects that size doesn’t correlate to power, ironically is the “Master” of the village. His cowardice is apparent when Smaug besieges the village and the master “was turning to his great gilded boat, hoping to row away in the confusion and save himself” (269). This passage reveals that though the “Master” of the village is considerably bigger then the dwarves and Bilbo, his prowess is nonexistent. Thorin on the other hand shows extraordinary bravery for his undersized stature. This is most apparent at the climatic battle with the goblins, when he jumped out of the mountain and “wielded his axe with mighty strokes, and nothing seemed to harm him” (307). His fearless charge was one of the most pivotal actions in the novel. He was not the only mini person to show a prowess beyond his size. This is seen in the passage “Out leapt the King under the Mountain, and his companions followed him. Hood and cloak were gone; they were in shining armour, and red light leapt from their eyes” (306). This quote reveals a truth behind this novel, size of the body doesn’t amount to anything rather it is the amount of heart an individual has that truly determines his power. The most outstanding show of bravery and power came from the men who were small in stature while some of the most repugnant cowardice came from a man, who was a head taller then the dwarves.

Monday, March 14, 2005

What Can Women Get From "The Hobbit"

1.) This was the first time I read “The Hobbit” and to be frank it wasn’t very good. The adventures employed by the plot were concise and redundant. This was a most unfortunate combination because the brevity resulted in many of these repetitive sub par adventures. “The Hobbit” became more intriguing to me however because of my previous knowledge of the Lord of the Ring movies. I found it interesting to connect actions in “The Hobbit” to their consequences in the Lord of the Ring series. “The Hobbit” was a fine book meant to be read by those who have yet been cultured by the far superior Harry Potter series.

2.) Women reading “The Hobbit” could take two polar opposite ideas from the story. One conclusion, which women who have thoroughly examined the plot of the story can come to, is that men should not be in charge. “The Hobbit” focused on the adventures of men, especially the dwarfs and Bilbo, and their many dim-witted decisions. The story revolves around the quest of the Dwarves and Bilbo to find gold. A woman reading this book could conclude that men in a position to lead are blinded by greed. Another blunder by men in this story is evidenced when the dwarves and Bilbo allow their stomachs to lead them off the correct path. This was seen when the adventurers were walking through the forest, following the instructions of Gandalf to remain on the path. After a while however, they became hungry and stray from the path and into the forest which ultimately leads to their imprisonment. Women who read “The Hobbit”, especially those leaning towards feminist ideas, will be inclined to believe that men should not be given a free leash with leadership.

The second idea women can take away from this novel is the plight of women at the time of the publication. Throughout the entire novel, only once is a female mentioned and that is only in passing. “The Hobbit” can be seen as an accurate representation of the social structure in the 1930’s. In this era, women were expected to be a stay at home mother and were excluded from daily activities. This is congruent to the novel because the female gender were also excluded from the main plot and took a backseat to the all male adventure. Women can more readily comprehend this social message by comparing “The Hobbit” to other fantasy books in a more recent and feminist society. For example, in the Harry Potter series, Hermione is directly involved in most of the adventures in the plot while “The Hobbit” fails to include any female supporting character to the story. Women who read “The Hobbit” can either further support the idea of the women’s supremacy to their gender opposite, the incompetent male, or that the novel was written as a social map of the 1930’s.