Research Paper Writing Process

Throughout the course of this semester, I have learned a lot about myself and of my writing process. Skills I have discovered in other classes have allowed me to approach my research paper assignment in a positive manner. I first began by exploring different topics regarding Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”. The topic that seemed most interesting to research was that of drug addiction. I then selected three different areas to explore that could be seen through Rossetti’s “Goblin Market’. These three areas include drug use in nineteenth-century England, her biographical background, and markets in London during the nineteenth century. I’ve struggled most with finding appropriate sources to include in my essay and research. I have explored several databases looking for Christina Rossetti’s biographical background, particularly the life of her brother’s wife, Elizabeth but have found a minimal amount of useful sources. While this has been the most difficult to retrieve it has allowed me to become a more keen user of the resources that Marymount’s library services provides. In terms of writing the essay, I have reached a “writer’s block”. Often times I focus on what the length a paper needs to be, focusing on quantity versus quality. Thus I concern myself with reaching the second, third, and fourth page mark and then find myself asking myself, “What more can I write about?” rather than exploring the concepts and ideas of my paper. At this point I feel comfortable with the content and direction my paper is headed in but know that there is a bit more research that needs to be done and a bit more closer reading and analysis.

Walt Disney’s Retelling of “Alice In Wonderland”

DVD Cover - IMDb

DVD Cover – IMDb

According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) Walt Disney released Alice in Wonderland in 1952. As with most Disney movies, this film featured many catchy jingles for many scenes throughout. After reading and watching the movie for the first time I unquestionably noticed a handful of similarities and differences.

The film by Disney is a combination of Lewis Carroll’s “The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass”. Disney’s retelling introduces us to Alice she listens to her history lesson while playing with her cat, Darna, while in the book she is sitting next to her sister reading a book. Since this is a children’s movie, it’s possible that Disney incorporated the subject of History in an educative manner to interest their children viewers in history. Children often look up at Disney princesses and characters as role models. Perhaps introducing the subject of History would spark interest in children to be like Alice and take interest in History. In the film, Alice follows a white rabbit and falls through a rabbit hole. In the movie Alice lands directly in the hall of the doors. In the Lewis Carroll’s original book, Alice has to follow the rabbit in order to get to the miniature door. In the film, as typical for Disney (giving life to inanimate objects) the miniature door speaks to Alice telling her to take a potion to change in size from a table that magically appears. However, in the text “Alice in Wonderland”, the table is already in the scene and the potion has instructions for her to drink it. Accurate however, was the scene of the pool of tears.

A major difference I spotted in the film was the appearance of Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, characters that appear in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. Most significant was Tweedle Dee’s and Tweedle Dum’s recitation of “You are old, Father William”, which Alice recites in the book to the Caterpillar. Their characters however were very well illustrated in the film as they were in the original text – obnoxious and annoying. The character of the Queen was also exact as the book, with the Queen screaming “off with his head” to resolve all issues.

In Disney’s movie, the Caterpillar (as in the text) sits on a large mushroom smoking hookah. In the film the Caterpillar transforms to a butterfly where in the book the Caterpillar did not transform; it was only insinuated as Alice only talked about how the Caterpillar would one day transform into a butterfly.One of my favorite scenes from both the film and the book was of the Mad Hatter’s tea party. In the film, the white rabbit appears with the recurring motif of the watch complaining about lateness and tardiness. The Mad Hatter takes it from the white rabbit and says that it’s defective. In an attempt to fix it he begins to smother it with jelly, tea, sugar and other items from their tea party. In Carroll’s original book, the Hatter takes out his watch and asks what time it is, the white rapper makes no appearance in this scene. After she leaves the tea party Alice gets lost in the woods and meets very odd creatures, another very Disney styled animation.One of the scenes I found to be exact as the book was of the cards painting the roses red. In the movie, the cards sing a jingle that tells why they’re painting the roses red – as is explained in the book. Alice chimes in, sings along and helps them.

As the movie came to an end, Alice was chased by all of the creatures until she reached the miniature door again. She peeped through the keyhole and saw herself asleep beside a tree. Disney illustrated Alice escaping wonderland waking up to reality and going in to drink tea as instructed by, who from the book we assume is her sister. The book also ends with Alice waking up from a dream, however in the book she wakes up to her sister instructing her to go in for some tea.

A few pieces from Carroll’s original book I found were completely omitted from the Disney movie were: the concept of the chess game, the scene of the queen and the pig, the Mock Turtle, the dormouse story from the tea party, the Gryphon, the Jabberwocky, and the Lobster Quadrille. I feel that these are scenes that Disney did not incorporate in their retelling because they were scenes that perhaps children would have trouble understanding.

Disney movies, especially the retelling of “Alice in Wonderland”, are marketed and geared towards the children audience. Their films feed to the child mind, and this retelling of Alice’s curious and imaginative world explored just that. It allowed for the child mind to explore and engage in Alice’s endless possibilities.

A Word Cloud to Illustrate Alice in Wonderland’s: Advice from a Caterpillar

The fifth chapter of Alice in Wonderland, Advice from a Caterpillar, introduces Alice to a wise insect. Alice comes upon a mushroom and sitting on it is a caterpillar smoking hookah. The caterpillar questions Alice and she confesses her current identity crisis, compounded by her inability to remember a poem. In an attempt to analyze this passage by using a digital humanities method, I created a word cloud using a tool provided by Voyant. The world cloud generated a visual analysis of this passage. The words in the original text are strategically prepared and weighted according to the number of occurrences in the text.

wcl

At a glance, the word that is graphically represented as the largest and consequently appears most in the text is the word “the”. The word that is graphically represented as the smallest and thus appears the least in the text is the word “replied”. These two words although not extremely significant key words to this passage like William, Alice or caterpillar, are important to the analysis of this passage. Lewis Carroll, author of the popular novel, makes excessive use of the word “the” when speaking of the caterpillar. The caterpillar does not have a name; as a result Carroll cannot address him as caterpillar but as the caterpillar. The word replied is least used because Carroll uses dialogue when illustrating a conversation versus a he said, she said, he replied, or she replied approach.

In an attempt to filter out words that I felt were less important or significant I used Voyant’s Taporware tool to adjust my word cloud to themes and words I thought were more noteworthy. As a result, a second word cloud was generated.

wcl3

After filtering out a few words, I think the second word cloud is a better representation of the advice from a caterpillar passage. This word cloud allows the reader to focus their attention on the larger words illustrated: Alice, Caterpillar and youth allowing for an enhanced illustration of the themes and key words of this passage. In this customized word cloud the word “caterpillar” is the largest, occurring 24 times in the text. Coming in second place, the name “Alice” appears 22 times.

Upon analyzing the word cloud and exploring other tools on Voyant I discovered that the word trend graph best illustrates the exchange in conversation regarding the advice the caterpillar is instilling upon Alice.

word grapgh

While the word trend graph allows to clearly see the exchange in conversation, the word cloud allows us to visually analyze themes and key words.  The word “caterpillar”,  suggests a theme of evolution or transformation. This is particularly evident for Alice because it exemplifies Alice’s quest to find herself taking on advice from the caterpillar.Words such as “youth”, “minute”, “life”, “youth”, “old”, and “beginning” suggest a theme of a self-journey to find one’s self. Words like “inches”, “mushroom”, “height”, “little”, “grow”, and “size” illustrate the caterpillars instructions for Alice to eat in certain ways to grow or shrink in any given situation. The words “father” and “William” appear fairly small suggesting that they are not words that are often repeated in the text. While this is a true statement, these two words encompass a deeper meaning to the chapter being analyzed. By simply seeing these two words on the cloud it is not evident that in this passage the poem “Father William” is used as a tool to trigger Alice’s memory.

After experimenting with a word cloud as a method of analysis it is not until after the word cloud has been customized to our own liking that it will make sense to us. From the first word cloud created it wasn’t clear what the centralized theme of the passage was. It wasn’t until I filtered out a few words that the theme and key words were more apparent. However, the word cloud does not necessarily provide a close reading of the passage. It allows only for a visual to be explored for further analysis. Thus, in any case I don’t think it’s an accurate means to analyze a story by its word cloud.

Advice From a Caterpillar

Chapter V of Lewis Carrol’s  Alice in Wonderland introduces Alice to an odd Caterpillar smoking hookah while resting on top of a giant mushroom. During the initial encounter the two characters stare at each other in silence before the Caterpillar asks Alice who she is.Thus far, Alice had been experiencing an array of events that for that moment she could not explain who she was to the Caterpillar. The Caterpillar’s attitude and annoyance towards Alice’s inability to explain herself made her uncomfortable and as she turns to leave the Caterpillar calls her back to recite a poem, “You are old, Father William”. He knew that Alice had been trying to recite this poem since she had reached Wonderland but she had forgotten the lines. The forgetfulness and inability to define who she is allows Alice to realize that she doesn’t know who she is anymore. Her confusion and feelings of despair further intensify when the Caterpillar appears to be reading her mind. Up to this point of the scene Alice had been experiencing a dilemma trying to become her true height once again. It appears to be that every time she eats something she either got taller or got shorter. The Caterpillar had knowledge of Alice’s struggle before she could even ask him, he stated “One side will make you grow taller, the other side will make you grow shorter” (40). The Caterpillar had answered her unspoken question. She then becomes even more confused and desperate fearing that she has lost ownership of her own thoughts.

The next scene of this chapter introduces Alice to a Pigeon that accuses her of being a serpent. Alice claims that she eats eggs, and the Pigeon argues that Alice must be none other than a serpent as this egg eating trait is that of a serpent. Logically, the Pigeon concludes that Alice is truly a serpent.

The two characters of this episode, the Caterpillar and the Pigeon, question Alice’s being. While the Caterpillar offers guidance to Alice the Pigeon further accuses Alice. In both circumstances Alice found trouble defending herself and explaining who she was. She had trouble remembering a poem, and had trouble remembering who she really was after all of the changes she had undergone in such a short period of time. This episode is particularly significant because it further shows the effects of Wonderland on Alice’s brain.

(Image taken from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/53/Alice_05a-1116×1492.jpg)

The Importance of Being Earnest

In the 2002 film adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest, featuring Rupert Everett and Colin Firth the director set the stage of the cigarette scene at what seems to be a social gathering. The written script sets the setting at Algernon’s flat, a single story house or apartment arranged with a table prepared with sandwiches and afternoon tea that Lane has prepared for expected visitors. The written script also stages this scene with piano playing in the background. The movie sets this scene in a party like setting with additional guests whereas the script only has Algernon and Jack in the scene. We don’t see the table that Lane had prepared nor is there a piano playing in the background.

The next notable difference is the inconsistency of the film to follow the script. We first notice this when comparing the very beginning of the written script to the film. In the written script this scene of the cigarette case begins:

Algernon. It isn’t. It is a great truth. It accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors that one sees all over the place. In the second place, I don’t give my consent.

In the film it begins:

Algernon: I certainly cant see you and Gwendolyn getting married
Jack: Why must you say that
Algernon: Well in the first place I haven’t given my consent

When the discussion of the cigarette case comes into question, in the film the cigarette case is retrieved by Algernon himself pulling it out of his pocket. On the written script, the cigarette case is handed to Algernon by Lane. As the characters continue to discuss, in the movie they begin to smoke cigarettes from the cigarette case. In particular, Algernon get’s his cigarette lit by a woman sitting next to him on a couch. This is the same as the written script except that Lane appears to be a servant and in the film she appears not be based on her costume. She also is said to enter and leave the stage in the written script and in the film she remains on set.

In the background of the film there are extras, of which all make a reaction when Algernon asks Jack about Cecily, in fact, we can hear all of them chuckle at Jack’s answer.

I think film makers and actors make changes they deem appropriate so that they can successfully convey characterization of characters and to provide more dramatic impact to scenes. Sometimes its necessary to change words here and there or omit them to convince viewers of a character. Perhaps the extras were in this film so that the viewers could also laugh at Jack’s response, while also setting a tone for the scene. In my opinion, I think this excerpt was a fair representation of the written script. It provided a visual for the characters of Jack and Algernon but failed to adequately represent Lane.

A Reflection of Dialogue and Setting in Trifles by Susan Glaspell

The dialogue in Trifles by Susan Glaspell is perfectly natural and colloquial. Through the use of dialogue in Trifles the reader is able to discover the setting, season, and even learn details about the circumstances of the characters within the play. The dialogue in Trifles also transports the reader to a time period where there were only workingmen and housewives, to where gender roles played a big role in society. This is specifically noticed as Mrs. Hale and the County Attorney exchange words:

COUNTY ATTORNEY: […] Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?

MRS. HALE: [Stiffly] There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm

COUNTY ATTORNEY: To be sure. And yet [With a little bow to her] I know there are some Dickson county farmhouses which do not have such roller towels.

In this area of the play the County Attorney has become disgusted with the conditions of the Wright farmhouse and questions how a housewife, could let the house be in the shape it was. The effortlessness of the dialogue emphasizes the ease of the characters; they are not concerned with anything else other than the matter at hand, to put together the murder case of Mr. Wright.Through dialogue the reader is also able to illustrate the characters. Mrs. Hale described Mr. Wright as a good man but a bit tough.

MRS. HALE: Yes – good; he didn’t drink, and kept his word as well as most, I guess, and paid his debts. But he was a hard man […]

She also described Mrs. Wright in delightful ways.

MRS. HALE: She – come to think of it, she was kind of like a bird herself – real sweet and pretty, but kind of timid and – fluttery. […]

Through dialogue between Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale we also learn that Mr. and Mrs. Wright were married but did not have children.

Photo Credit: Flickr, photograph by Justin Smiley

*Photo Credit: Flickr Photograph by Justin Smiley

One of the features of setting in Trifles is the time of year. The first line of the play is the County Attorney speaking:

COUNTY ATTORNEY: [Rubbing hands] This feels good. Come up to the fire ladies.

This first line cues a season for the reader, winter. The play begins with the County Attorney rubbing his hands together, gesturing a creation of friction to create heat, and two women approaching a fire to keep warm. The season is further confirmed when the sheriff comments that “it dropped below zero last night”. Susan Glaspell skillfully incorporates the weather into the setting of the play using it as an element to characterize the attitude of the farmhouse murder case of Mr. Wright. A cold place, no children, and a question among the characters of whether or not there was ever joy in that house. The physical setting is at Mr. Wright’s farmhouse, the scene of the crime. Glaspell creatively placed the play during the winter season and in conjunction set the “lifeless” farmhouse in a hollow that as Mrs. Hale confirms can’t be seen from the road. The setting also conveys meaning in characterizing Mr. and Mrs. Wright’s relationship.

MRS. HALE: Not having children makes less work – but it makes a quiet house, and Wright out to work all day, and no company when he did come in. Did you know John Wright, Mrs. Peters?

Mr. and Mrs. Wright did not have children and yet they didn’t seem to have time for each other. In comparison to the farmhouse their marriage relationship was also lifeless and cold. Glaspell also uniquely crafts a setting within the physical setting. The play begins with all the characters in the kitchen of the farmhouse. The kitchen is significant because as discussed, through the dialogue the reader distinguishes this play to take place during the time period where only the men would work and women stayed home taking care of the upkeep of the house. The use of the setting within the physical setting ties back to the system of gender roles, strategically this is the only place women of the play are placed.

*Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/justinsmiley/2392530035/sizes/z/in/photolist-4DqkPR-4DqkyM-4DqksD-4DuzZw-4DqjBe-4DuAmu-4DuAej-4DqjPM-4DqkwM-4DuAVC-4DuA7h-4DuzRU-4DuAbW-4DuABo-4DuACY-4DuANf-4DuB6E-4DuBao-4DqjWB-4DuAtY-4DuB55-85HcQh-WjFR-d7xYNs/

Reading Response: Resolution and Independence by William Wordsworth

As I read William Wordworth’s poem “Resolution and Independence” I first began to take notice of the poem’s length, structure and rhythm. The poem is written in stanzas (20) composed of seven lines each (iambic pentameter, where the last line contains one extra iamb), and a rhyme scheme of ababbcc. I personally enjoy listening to poetry because I feel that poetry is composed of feeling and emotion that is best communicated when recited aloud. After reading the poem once, I searched YouTube to find a recitation to assist in helping clarify tone and rhythm and found a fair recitation:

Recitation of William Wordworth’s “Resolution and Independence” 1802

As we read the beginning of this poem we come to understand that the narrator/speaker is a traveller who feels at one with nature and who is reflecting on events occurred sometime ago. Wordsworth’s use of nature as a means of description continues throughout the poem while also using elements of imagery and tone. Throughout the poem theme becomes that of a reflection the traveler is communicating. We learn that through this journey sometime ago he had an encounter with an old man. A very old man as he’s thoroughly and vividly described. It is very soon learned that this old man is a leech-gatherer, and though he is old, he still perseveres in his task. In the final stanza the Leech-gatherer becomes an the perfect example of Resolution and Independence for the narrator. It is here that we learn that Wordsworth’s choice of vocabulary is apparent. Resolution here takes the meaning of determination to succeed.

I felt the last stanzas, 17 – 20, were most interesting because they created a vision of concern to the reader of the narrator. We learn to understand his feelings of fear, fear that kills (line 113) the fear of poets in their misery dead (line 116). As we become engaged with the narrator through his conversation with the leech- gatherer we can feel the tone become calm as the leech-gatherer tells how he gathers leeches, through perseverance he finds them where he may (line 126). Through his meeting with the Leech-gatherer, he learns that through perseverance he can too be successful.

The Coldest Winter Ever

It’s always difficult to select a favoritSS. Coldest Winter Evere book, especially when each book you read has impacted you in some way. Each time I read a book more often than not, I am able to identify with scenes, characters and situations. So, if I had to select a favorite book at this time, it would be one in which I felt I could connect with the character on a very personal level. It would be a book that I could not go to bed without reading. In which I actually stayed up till the wee hours of the night turning pages. A book that I was able to pass along to others, so that they too could relate, identify and perhaps apply a life lesson. Up to this very day the book that has been one I’ve handed off to plenty is, The Coldest Winter Ever by Sistah Souljah.

The story is about a young teen, Winter Santiago, daughter ofa key drug dealer of Brooklyn. Her father ruled Brooklyn and kept his family up to date with high fashion, fancy jewelry, and all top of the line items. Winter quickly became accustom to the life her father provided. She partied with her friends rather than attending class and simply just enjoyed the fast life. Sooner than later her father was soon caught by authorities and facesjail time causing Winter to basically lose it all. However, she doesn’t take this as a lessons learned, or as an opportunity to change her way of life. If anything, this gave her extra push and adrenaline to get back to Brooklyn and continue living the lifestyle her father had provided. Winter then finds herself struggling to find money to keep that lifestyle she once had all the while making the wrong choices.

The greatest strength of this read is that the book was written to make us, the reader, feel as though we personally know all of the characters in the book. There were many times that I found myself reading and perhaps identifying others as my version of Winter.

It was interesting to see how important we make clothes, hair, and jewelry. We so often forget that these are materialistic dust and there’s so much more to take from life than materialistic items. As individuals we like to say that materials have no true value to us but it’s funny to see once in a situation what our actions will be.

Photo was taken from: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/coldest-winter-ever-sister-souljah/1100364537?ean=9781416521693