Sunday, April 17, 2011

Final Blog (Event + 12th Night and Reflection)

Twelfth Night or, What You Will, by William Shakespeare shows humor through the use of play on words and mistaken identities. Shakespeare uses double meanings, homophones, and hidden gender identities to express the playful and mischievous love throughout the play. He does this to show the reader that things aren’t always what they seem.

By using homophones and words with two meanings, many of the characters misunderstand each other, leading to a humorous dialogue and turn of events. An example of this can be seen on page six where Sir Andrew uses the word “tongues” but the pronunciation is interpreted by Sir Toby to be, “tongs”. This turns the conversation away from foreign languages and turns into a joke about Sir Andrew’s curly hair. Sir Andrew, a fairly dim-witted individual, is unable to redirect the conversation and is, instead, confused and goes along with the misunderstanding. Another way that Shakespeare uses humor is through the use of gender misrepresentation. Viola, the female twin, pretends to be a eunuch in order to gain access to the Duke’s council. Failing to realize that she's a female, he calls her Cesario. At the time of Shakespearean literature, the exploration of sexuality was mostly regarded as taboo; the use of mistaken gender identity pushed the boundaries of sexuality in literature and proves to be humorous even today. Throughout the play, many misunderstandings, and misrepresentations are seen, both in dialogue and in gender.

Shakespeare shows his brilliance by manipulating the English language through the dialogue between characters in the first half of the play. He uses homophones and other word plays to create humor, causing mischief between characters. He also writes boldly about sexuality by disguising Viola as a male, creating more humor and messy love triangles. This play represents some of the most timeless comedic episodes and pushed the boundary of English literature.

The event that I attended, Invisible Children, this past week held a drastically different tone than the humor of Shakespeare. The video that I watched was horrific, moving, somber, heart wrenching, and inspiring. The flood of emotions overwhelmed me. There was no play on words, no misrepresentation in the video, the message was clear: the children in Uganda need our help. Oppressed by Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), children in Uganda are captured, enslaved, brainwashed, and forced to fight in his army. LRA soldiers rape the women in the villages and many families feel it is unsafe to leave their homes. These are atrocities that need to be and can be fixed. The Invisible Children campaign, a group of humanitarian college students, is working to install radio towers for emergency broadcasts and is petitioning our government to find and stop Kony. Tony, one of the children that the organization met during their first visit to Africa, lost his mother to HIV and dropped out of school. Now educated and part of the organization, Tony travels across the US preaching the importance of education for the advancement of children in Uganda, asking for monetary support to put the children through school. It is important that we answer his call for help and not ignore the atrocities occurring to the people of Uganda.

This documentary was one of the most inspiring films and events that I have attended this semester. The civil war in Uganda is truly horrific and unspeakable. It is amazing that a few college students, like ourselves, could make such a difference in the lives of the Ugandan children, especially Tony. The Invisible Children organization is currently working with the U.S. government to help the suffering children in Uganda, hoping to stop Kony’s war crimes and civil war. It is important to do our part in every way possible, realizing that there are children in Africa that need our help.

The most surprising thing that I learned this semester was the connection that literature has with my life; both short stories and poetry can seem timeless. English is not by any means my favorite subject, yet I found myself enthralled by some of the short stories, and captured by the poems. As college is such a pivotal time period in my life, as well as many of my classmates, I was pleasantly surprised that the literature that we read was so pertinent and appropriate to our own lives. The link between our Jesuit education and our homework was evident and I never thought that I would leave my comfort zone and enter the heart of Baltimore. I was surprised to find myself not as a student of Loyola, but as a part of the community, a student of life as I walked through the Walter’s Art Museum and traveled on the bus through the streets of the city. In the end, the most surprising thing that I learned this semester wasn’t one thing at all. I was surprised to learn that I had a love for poetry and short stories, that they could move me, that I would find a connection to the community around me, and that my studies would take me out of my comfort zone and into the heart of the real world.

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