Tuesday, April 19, 2011

So long, farewell

            This being the final blog of the semester makes me realize how quickly the time has passed. I came into Understanding Literature kind of kicking myself for not having taken the class earlier, and lamenting about being one of the only sophomores in the group, but it turned out neither of those things mattered in the end. I had add/dropped an EN101 class last semester because I didn’t feel like I could relate to the professor, and I am so glad things turned out the way that they did. Over the course of this semester, I have come to appreciate everyone in our class, and the convergence of all the different personalities. From Kyle with his quietly confident and astute observations to Dorothy with her soft-spoken intelligence to Kelly with her bubbly personality, Anthony with his signature island accent and Nicole with her eternal optimism and cheer, I will really miss everyone in our class.
I began the semester wanting to do service, but when I realized it wouldn’t be feasible with my schedule I was disappointed. I thought the events would be fun but wouldn’t give me the kind of satisfaction and sense of personal growth that service would. Once again, I was wrong on both accounts. While I enjoyed most of them, some events were decidedly dreadful, but I never left having not learned anything. I grew a great deal from attending events held by all different kinds of groups on campus, and got to know some great people in the process. Probably the most surprising element of the semester was how far I was able to push myself outside of multiple comfort zones: in my writing, my reading, and the way in which I experienced Baltimore. Short stories have always been a favourite genre of mine, and the ones we read this semester further enhanced my love of them. I was even able to re-visit ones I had read before like “The Cask of Amontillado” and “A Good Man is Hard to Find” and look at them with fresh eyes. As a Creative Writing minor, I didn’t think my analytical skills were up to par, but this semester showed me how much potential my critical writing has to grow.
However, it seems no matter which English class I take, I cannot escape William Shakespeare. I loved Hamlet perhaps more than anyone can love a play, but overall I have never been a lover of reading his work. Clearly a fan of unrequited love, Shakespeare's depiction of Orsino's longing for Olivia is nothing short of masterful. He crafted Act 1 in such a way that the audience learns much of their information through indirect characterization and the conversations of characters seemingly removed from the issues about which they are speaking. Olivia's devotion to her dead brother speaks to classical themes in which Shakespeare is known to dabble, and Viola's decision to dress as a teenage boy and adopt a new persona demonstrates his love of putting his characters in disguise. Shakespeare always creates an intricate web of relationships, for example Orsino loves Olivia but Olivia can't be bothered with him and Viola who is dressed as a boy falls in love with Orsino. It's like being privy to messy high school drama, or a soap opera. 
I was excited when Sir Andrew challenged Malvolio to a duel, because the duels between the Montagues and Capulets were my favourite part of Romeo and Juliet. The different disguises became difficult to keep track of after a while, so I had to keep a little cheat sheet of who was wearing a disguise in which act. Sir Andrew, Sir Toby and Maria's decision to play a prank on Malvolio and trick him into believing that Olivia is in love with him has set the stage for what I am sure will be a great deal of intrigue in the second half of the play and I look forward to reading it. 

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