sadist me

it’s drowning me
in the sea of depression
making me numb
stealing my happiness
and the belonging with this world.
it’s killing me
making me feel empty, sick
leaving me with no reason
and i lack belonging with this world.
it makes me feel alone
amidst the crowd of my loved ones
and the happy moments.
such a sadist is this self of mine
sadist indeed.

by: Huma Aftab

creating monsters!

Now i know how people having similar experiences or gone through the same trauma end up making a special kind of bond between themselves. These people are empathetic towards each other. They know how the other suffers when gone through the similar situation. Their suffering binds them together for a reaction. And then, they emerge as a force, united and focused, having a same goal i.e. somehow to eliminate that cause of their sufferings. Their empathy i.e. converted into enthusiasm by then, finally turns them apathetic. And they become MONSTERS. Now they are wild, barbaric, and have no social limitations and morality. That is how talibanization might have started. This is what have been started in our country too. People are devoid of their basic needs. People are not secured. And that day isn’t far away when their sufferings will be creating monsters all around us.

THE ROLE OF MR. KNIGHTLEY IN BRINGING ABOUT CHANGE IN EMMA’S WAY OF THINKING.

Jane Austen’s Emma is about the psychological growth of the character Emma in particular. Emma is depicted as a ‘handsome, clever, and rich’ girl of about twenty-one years old. She resides with her father Mr. Woodhouse, who had no contribution in her upbringing. As he, himself behaves like a child, and instead of him caring Emma, Emma used to care about him. Her mother died early in her childhood. Too early, that she only have ‘an indistinct remembrance of her caresses’. Miss Taylor, Emma’s governess was also depicted as more like her friend than as her governess. So, from the very beginning of her life she missed the governing figure, an authoritative person. Who can guide her, points out her mistakes, and has psychological influence on her. Therefore, as a result she became independent. As we were told in ch1, pg. 5:

“Emma doing just what she liked, highly esteeming Miss Taylor’s judgment, but directed chiefly by her own.”

And thus Emma had some flaws in her character, which mainly depends upon flaws in her thinking patterns.

 

Since Emma lacks a governing figure in her own home, Mr. Knightley (Emma’s sister, Isabella’s brother-in-law, and Emma’s neighbour) acted as Emma’s mentor and moral guide. He was introduced to us as ‘a sensible man’, an objective and a foresighted person. The only person who was critical of Emma, when everyone around Emma were so influenced by her wit and charming personality, was also Mr. Knightley. As Mr. Knightley once pointed out:

“Emma is spoiled by being the cleverest of her family. At ten years old, she had misfortune of being able to answer a questions….Emma has been mistress of the house and of you all.” (ch. 5, pg. 29)

Mr. Knightley acted as a sensable, thoughtful, and judging sort of a person. Therefore, he is considered as a voice of reason, and has a prominent contribution in bringing about change in Emma.

 

Despite of the good qualities of Emma’s character, like her loving nature, her being witty, social, and conversationalist, she had some flaws in her character, which hinders her being a perfect person. And the main reasons behind these flaws were that there is no one to point them out. So, initially in the novel, when Mr. Knightley point out her mistakes, she doesn’t take it seriously. She thinks that he ‘loves to find fault in her’, and ‘it’s all a joke’ (ch 1, pg. 9). And as a result she never tried to rectify her mistakes.

 

Emma’s main problems, that hinders her psychological growth are, her being idealistic and over-confident. Emma once talking with Mrs. Weston said:

“You take up an idea, and run away with it; as you have many a time reproached me with doing.” (ch 26, pg 171)

She doesn’t realize the honesty of her own words. That actually, she is the one who comeup with an idea, and imaginations; and then because of her thick headedness, she stick to it, despite the fact that someone (i.e. Mr. Knightley) always points them out right at the beginning. Forexample, in the case of Harriet Smith, she had this wild imagination that Harriet does belong to a noble family, and therefore, she is needed to be detached from “her bad acquaintance” and should be introduced into a “good society” (ch 3, pg. 19). On-the-contrary, the truth was that “Harriet Smith was the natural daughter of somebody” (ch 3, pg. 18), which probably means that she was an illegitimate child. And illegitimate children at Jane Austen’s time were looked down upon, and usually left to live in isolation. But Emma was over-confident by her idea of Harriet Smith belonging to a noble family. Therefore, she tries to mould Harriet according to her own social class. And also tries to make her match with Mr. Elton (a village vicar).

 

Mr. Knightley foresees the bad influence of Harriet on Emma, and Emma on Harriet. He declared it a bad thing, while discussing Emma and Harriet’s intimacy, with Mrs. Weston. About Harriet he said:

“I think her the very worst sort of companion that Emma could possibly have. She knows nothing herself, and looks upon Emma as knowing everything. She is a flatterer in all her ways; and so much the worse, because undersigned.” (ch 5, pg. 30)

And later when Harriet refused Robert Martin’s proposal because of Emma’s influence on her, he became angry and points out Emma that she is not Harriet’s friend. Mr. Knightley clearly knows the limitation of class differences. Since Harriet parentage is unknown, so she should consider Martin’s proposal as a blessing for her. As in front of Harriet, Martin is much more superior. It’s not that Emma doesn’t know the limitation of class differences, but she became blinded by her imagination in Harriet’s case. Mr. Knightley also points that out to her, when he came to know that Harriet has rejected Martin. He said:

“No, he is not her equal indeed, for he is as much her superior in sense as in situation. Emma, your infatuation about the girl blinds you. What are Harriet Smith’s claims, either of birth, nature or education, to any connection higher than Robert Martin? ” (ch. 8, pg. 48)

 

Emma does become affected by Mr. Knightley’s criticism. She respects his judgment. Somewhere, she also knows that whatever Mr. Knightley is criticizing her about, is right. But her egotism hinders her to acknowledge his opinion, and makes her uncomfortable.

“Emma made no answer, and tried to look cheerfully unconcerned but was really feeling uncomfortable, and wanting him very much to be gone. She did not repent what she has done; she still thought herself a better judge of such a point of female right and refinement than he could be; but yet she had a sort of habitual respect for his judgment  in general, which made her dislike having it so loudly against her; and to have him sitting against her in angry state, was very disagreeable.” (ch. 8, pg. 51)

 

The conflict of her mind is dangled in between Mr. Knightley (her rational and intuitive self) and Emma Woodhouse (her irrational and idealistic self). On the one hand she feels her judgments and opinions to be perfect, but on the other hand she also feels dissatisfied with herself; which shows that she has the potential to become rectified, to solve her mind’s conflict and to become psychologically mature.

 “She did not always feel so absolutely satisfied with herself, so entirely convinced that her opinions were right and her adversary’s wrong, as Mr. Knightley.” (ch. 8, pg. 52)

All she needed was a realization, i.e. she needed to open her eyes, to put her irrational and imaginative self aside. And to look at things critically and rationally, like Mr. Knightley does.

 

Emma does realize the accuracy of Mr. Knightley’s judgments before her ‘grand realization’ (which actually brings about change in Emma’s way of looking at things). Her realizations usually come to her, when she was proved of being wrong, like in the case of Mr. Elton. After the incident of Mr. Elton proposing Emma, instead of Harriet, Emma realizes the penetration of Mr. Knightley’s prediction.

“She remembered what Mr. Knightley had once said to her about Mr. Elton, the caution he had given, the conviction he had professed that Mr. Elton would never marry indiscreetly; and blushed to think how much truer a knowledge of his character had been there shewn than any she had reached herself.” (ch. 16, pg. 104)

Although, she get hints before her realizations, either from Mr. Knightley or from within herself; she ignored them and become blinded. As in the case of Frank Churchill, when he goes to London just to have his haircut, Emma considered it ‘nonsense’. But she let this thought go by thinking about her self-made positive imaginations of him.

“But for such an unfortunate fancy for having his hair-cut, there was nothing to denote him unworthy of the distinguished honour which her imagination had given him.” (ch. 25, pg. 155)

 

Mr. Knightley also points out tendency of Emma’s making right decisions, to evoke Emma to change her way of thinking. That if she realizes that she’s doing wrong, she will not do it, as he knows that Emma is not a person essentially doing wrong things. When Emma asked him “Does my vain spirit ever tell me I am wrong?” He replied:

“Not your vain spirit, but your serious spirit. If one leads you wrong, I am sure the other tells you of it.” (ch. 38, pg 249)

And that’s what Mr. Knightley actually does. He acted as Emma’s ‘serious spirit’, telling her faults, whenever she’s wrong. He doesn’t force his observation on Emma, but just points out her mistakes, like the way it happens in one’s mind; that whenever someone’s wrong, there are ‘serious spirits’ which alarms that person before handedly. Mr. Knightley only wants Emma to realize that there is that serious spirit in her. All she needs is to be attentive towards it.

 

Emma’s grand realization happened after Box Hill incident. When Emma insults Mrs. Bates, and Mr. Knightley scold her for that.

“Emma, I must once more speak to you as I have been used to do: a privilege rather endured than allowed, perhaps, but I must still use it. I cannot see you acting wrong, without a remonstrance. How could you be so unfeeling to Miss Bates? How could you be so insolent in your wit to a woman of her character, age, and situation?” (ch. 43, pg. 283)

This incident and Mr. Knightley’s scolding of her, proves to be the turning point in Emma’s thinking. From this incident, she, for the first time felt really sorry and ashamed of her behavior. She felt angry, and for this time she’s not angry on Mr. Knightley for pointing out her mistake, but she was angry on herself. We can clearly see her serious spirits taking control over her vain spirits, at this point in novel.

“Never had she felt s agitated, mortified, grieved at any circumstance in her life. She was most forcibly struck. The truth of his representation there was no denying.” (ch. 43, pg. 284)

She, for the first time felt repentant right away, and asked for Miss Bates’ forgiveness, in order to rectify her mistake.

 

This incident also brings about change in Emma’s way of looking at tings. Before Box Hill incident, she always disliked Jane, but after this incident she actually felt ‘kinder towards Jane’ (ch. 44, pg. 287). She started looking at people by placing herself in their situation, instead of comparing them with her fancies and ‘selfishness of imaginary complaints’ (ch 45, pg. 293). Also, when Mr. Knightley told her about Harriet and Robert Martin’s engagement, she actually raised no objections this time. And felt happy and satisfied with Harriet’s decision. Because this time, she understands and agrees with Mr. Knightley’s previous judgment about Martin, being suitable for Harriet. She also now sees Mr. Martin under Mr. Knightley’s light of judgment.

“She had no doubt of Harriet’s happiness with any good tempered man; but with him, and in the home he offered, there would be the more security, stability, and improvement…..Emma admitted her to be the luckiest creature in the world, to have created so steady and preserving an affection in such a man; -or, if not quiet the luckiest, to yield only to herself.” (ch 55, pg. 365)

 

Emma started considering Mr. Knightley as superior to her. She has accepted Mr. Knightley to be always correct, and admits that she has always been wrong.

“She was proved to have been universally mistaken; and she had not quiet done nothing- for she had done mischief. She had brought evil on Harriet, on herself, and she too much feared, on Mr. Knightley.” (ch. 47, pg. 312)

She also admits this to Mr. Knightley, when she said:

“I have not forgotten that you once tried to give me a caution.- I wish I had attended to it-but-(with a sinking voice and a heavy sigh) I seem to have been doomed to blindness.” (ch 49, pg. 321)

She accepted her being blinded previously, which means that now she’s mentally awaken.

 

Emma’s mental awakening and her psychological growth was deliberately done on Mr. Knightley’s part. Mr. Knightley consciously participated in Emma’s psychological growth. Emma, herself also realizes this:

“He had loved her, and watched over her from a girl, with an endeavour to improve her, and an anxiety for her doing right, which no other creature had at all shared.” (ch 48, pg. 314)

So Emma admits that no one but only Mr. Knightley has a share in her improvement, (of her way of thinking, and doing right things) and also Mr. Knightley, himself observes his influence over Emma.

He had, in fact, been wholly unsuspicious of his own influence.” (ch. 49, pg. 326)

‘His own influence’ on Emma means, Emma adopting his way of critically looking at things, with rational approach, and doing right things. So, it’s also proved that Emma is rid of her biased, irrational, and imaginative thinking. Also we can certainly say that she is rid of such thinking as far as she’s living with Mr. Knightley (who is Emma’s voice of reason and rationality).

ANALYSIS OF LEAVIS’ ESSAY ON OTHELLO FOR ITS LIBERAL HUMANIST FEATURES:

The title of F.R.Leavis’ critique on Othello itself depicts the entire critique. The main title of his critique “Diabolic Intellect and the Noble Hero” suggests the Bradley’s point of view of analyzing Othello, which according to Leavis is sentimental approach towards Othello. Leavis accused Bradley and other critics who supported Bradley’s point of view for not being objective. And thus he called them sentimental and their critique “Sentimentalist’s Othello”.

According to Leavis, because of the collective opinion about Othello, it essence suffers. He says that “relevant discussion of its tragic significance” (p.136) is the result of extrinsic approach i.e. “character-analysis”. Leavis himself was liberal humanist and that’s why he accused Bradley of using extrinsic approach. In spite of the fact, that Bradley also proved his points by giving examples from the text.

Leavis called Bradley’s criticism on Othello “extravagant in misdirected scrupulosity” (p.136) and accused Bradley for lacking knowledge. The reason Leavis assume of misunderstanding by Bradley is that Bradley didn’t fully understand the text, therefore the evidence he give lacks ‘weigh’ (p.136). Bradley’s wrong interpretation of text was due to the lack of understanding of words on text, which happened due to him being sentimental, and that’s the reason he excessively ‘misdirected’ (p.136) the quality of moral integrity in Othello.

Leavis disagree with the Othello being centre of the play “Othello”. According to Leavis, displacement of Iago (which is for Leavis is the centre of Shakespearean tragedy) by Othello is also the result of Bradley being sentimental. He proved his point by quoting from Bradley’s essay that,

Iago’s plot is Iago’s character in action.” (p.137)

For Leavis, it seems like Bradley himself is not aware of the significance of ‘Iago’s character in action’, as for Leavis, the play itself is Iago’s character in action.

The reason Leavis suggest behind this is that Bradley is unaware about Othello’s character in depth. He just considers Iago as a ‘necessary piece of dramatic mechanism’ (p.138). On the contrary, if we treat Iago as a centre according to Leavis, then Othello would be considered as a ‘necessary material and provocation for a display of Iago’s fiendish intellectual superiority” (p.138). In any case, both of the characters are necessary to set the play in action.

Leavis proved Bradley of being sentimental by proving his counter argument from the same text given by Bradley, to prove his own point. Leavis says that Othello was essentially flawed. Iago just provoke that ‘essential element’ (p.139), which was necessary for his success. So in a way Bradley’s too innocent and faultless Othello was according to Leavis essentially faulty. That’s the reason Othello responded to Iago in a manner, Iago wanted him to respond. And thus its Othello’s ‘readiness to respond’ (p.140) which make Othello a tragic play, not Iago’s diabolic intellect.

Leavis proved his point of ‘Othello being essentially faulty’ by quoting from Othello as well as Bradley’s own text. Leavis says that Othello’s trust on Desdemona was partial from the beginning, if we consider Othello under Bradley’s words;

His trust, where he trusts, is absolute.” (p.140)

Also, Othello is represented as a middle aged man in a play, and according to Bradley Othello is ‘of a great openness and trustfulness of nature’ (p.140), but still he didn’t trust Desdemona.

Leavis suggest the reason behind Othello’s distrustfulness about his wife Desdemona’s character and faithfulness is because Othello was essentially ‘self approving self-dramatization’ (p.142) and an emotional person, which didn’t work in his relationship with Desdemona.

The main point which Leavis tried to prove in the entire essay is that it’s not merely Iago’s devilish tricks which cause the tragedy in ‘Othello’. Othello himself was essentially faulty and not too innocent, as the way Bradley depict him. That’s the reason Leavis uses the term “Bradley’s Othello” and claim it to be different from the “Shakespearean Othello”, the traits of Othello which Leavis define in his essay.

Leavis also accused Bradley for being sentimental and in the entire essay he uses the terms like ‘Bradley’s Othello’ (p.136), ‘sustained and sanctioned perversity’ (p.138), ‘preconception’ (p.139), ‘idealizing’ (p.148), ‘betray certain misgivings’ (p.153), to make the reader themselves sentimental, and when it comes to bring forward his own opinion, Leavis uses the terms, ‘the plain fact’ (p.138), ‘it is plain’ (p.145), ‘the text is plain’ (p.144) to show that the text of Othello is so simple. If Bradley had been objective, he would have noticed these points.

According to liberal humanist approach, the job of the criticism is to interpret the text, to mediate between it and the reader. Bradley’s analysis of Shakespearean writing is considered authentic and valid. Therefore, the interpretation which he did of Othello was also considered sustained and sanctioned. Bradley’s reader also treats Othello, the way Bradley has treated. But according to Leavis, the Othello which Shakespeare wanted to depict is entirely different from what Bradley’s followers perceive. To prove his point, Leavis himself became too sentimental and deviate from his thesis, when he starts discussing the purpose of Othello being poetic.

Every person has his own way of interpreting text. It’s not possible to kill your thinking pattern and become entirely objective; the way Leavis wanted Bradley and other critics to be. The point which Leavis proved is very true, but the way he targeted Bradley from the beginning till end suggests that Leavis himself is emotional or so called ‘sentimental’, which contradict with his own point of being objective. Or else he would have put forward his analysis in more descent way, i.e. without taunting Bradley.

ANALYSIS OF ‘THE SONNETS TO ORPHEUS, PART TWO, XII’:

 

The sonnets to Orpheus (part two, xii) by Rilke is about the universal idea of acceptance towards change and transformation. Rilke uses certain images to create new symbols in his poem.

In first stanza Rilke uses the flame to represent internal changes. That if a person wants a change he should be inspired by the flame. The way flame gives light to others , similarly a person should be doing such deeds that make him known and respectable, even after his death.

‘the curve of the body’ suggests flexibility. Only a person could transform if he has enough mental flexibility to accept a change. Like the artist loves curve of the body, similarly ‘The Artist’ i.e. God also loves the person who transforms himself into a better human being.

Rilke poses a question for readers that ‘is it safer to be gray and numb?’. Gray symbolizes old age. That means Rilke is asking us whether being old and devoid of emotion makes a personworth living or does that kind of life is of any worth. Ofcourse not. And rigidness in one’s pesonality can only destroy him. Like if we try to bend hard wood, it’ll break. Similarly a rigidness damages a person badly.

In third stanza Rilke suggests us to let all our goodness and positive energies flow out like a fountain. Like fountain flows in no definit shape, and has the ability to change its shape according to its surroundings, similarly a person should also change himself according to his surroundings and requirements. Since every start has an ending but it begins again when you determine to revive or renew your thoughts with positive approach.

In fourth stanza Rilke says that every happiness is a child of a seperation. Means when you change that change certainly brings happiness to you and that can only be possible if you separate your former being from you.

Wind symbolizes a possibility of change. Also wind represents spirit, which in psychological terms may be understood as an energy that can lift you from depression to joy or from mundane and material interests to a ‘higher’ (or deeper) level of conciousness.

REALIZATION

one day I take a flight

in my desire to fly

beyond the limits of this earth and sky.

but suddenly with a jerk

i found my feet are chained

and i fell on my face

while discovering i’m a slave.

by: Huma Aftab

CURIOSITY-THAT’S THE SECRET (CRITICAL ANALYSIS):

“Curiosity- That’s the secret”,a speech addressed by Robertson Davies is about a concept that individual can lead a successful life through curiosity and work. To prove his point Davies discuss that how people used to consider work in Oxford, when he was student, and how work is considered today. He give example of how lily works and concluded his speech by motivating individuals to work with curiosity, inorder to make their work interesting, and to enjoy secret and success of life.

In “Curiosity- That’s the secret”, Davies stresses that work should not be “mentioned”. When an individual takes ‘interest’, and get ‘absorbed’ in his work, a work doesn’t seems like work anymore. It becomes a sport like thing, which helps you to increase your physical as well as mental health. All you need is a passion towards your work, so you can give your best in it.

Davies suggest that work helps you to understand ‘all that life has to give you’. Work itself provides you with motivation and energy. Work also provides you with new perspectives to observe the world, in an entirely different way. Forexample, doctors observe life diffrently as compared to lawyers. Doctors are more concerned about diseases and medicines, and how to save life. However, lawyers focuse on resolving the conflict between different people. Although both profession involves life and how to save that life. But the life  itself seems different to people belonging to these professions.

Davies concluded his address by saying that an individual can become achiever ‘by bringing curiosity to his work’. Curiosity is a key to bring success in one’s life. It is curiosity which has brought fame, wealth, and respect to many individuals. Curiosity has an immense power which can turn dreams into reality. Nobody has thought of flying in the air before 1903. But it was the curiosity and working through which Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, turned their dream of flying in the air, into reality.