Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Literary Papers by Allen

Mission Accomplished: A Shrewd Man VS A Shrewish Woman

Allen Yuan
Ms. Lin
English 12
Block 2-1
January 2013

[Word Count: 1,103]

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man who decides to marry must prefer to have a loving and obedient wife. If he does not have such good fortune, he would try all means to reform his woman into a wife he wishes her to be, although this task may often prove to be an impossible mission. Set in Italy during the Elizabethan era, Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew dramatizes the comic way Petruchio, a smart and ambitious young man from Verona, comes to “wive and thrive” in Padua. While all other men in the play are too afraid even to come close to Katherine, a hostile, ill-tempered and sharp-tongued girl who has a wealthy father, Petruchio manages not only to marry her but also ‘tame’ her by manipulating her psychological tendencies and physical needs in a highly tactful manner.
Psychologically, Petruchio wins the battle mainly through his ruthless and effective attacks on Katherine’s intellectual and emotional weaknesses. When Petruchio initially meets Katherine, also known as Kate, he recognizes her as a true shrew overly proud of herself and bitterly hostile to men in general. As though to beat her at her own game, Petruchio is ready to match, if not to outmatch, Kate’s intelligence with his quick wit. For example, when Kate warns that “if I be waspish best beware my sting” (2.1.212), he immediately replies that “my remedy is then to pluck it out” (2.1.213). In so doing, Petruchio is able to undermine her sense of pride and win her respect to a certain extent. This result becomes evident when Kate asks him where he has learned “this goodly speech” (2.1.264). Shortly after this duel of words, Petruchio announces to Katherine’s father Baptista that the two have “’greed so well together/ that upon Sunday is the wedding-day” (2.1.299-300) without actually gaining her consent beforehand. It seems surprising that the shrew makes no rebuttal to the wedding and remains quiet even when Petruchio dresses himself up like a clown and arrives late; however, considering the way the shrew is waiting tearfully at the altar, afraid her groom could be someone who “never means to wed where he hath wooed” (3.1.17), one realizes that Kate’s response is quite predictable, since Petruchio is probably well aware of Kate’s deep-rooted fears and intends to humiliate her by taking the advantage of these fears. Indeed, if she refuses, she might lose the chance and remain a maid forever. Having won this crucial battle, Petruchio certainly has a good reason to declare himself to have been “born to tame… Kate” (2.1.278).
To reinforce his psychological victory over the shrew, Petruchio continues to ‘tame’ her in a physical sense. After the wedding is over, the newlyweds come to live in Petruchio’s home, where the husband starts to maltreat his wife intentionally. When Kate feels hungry, Petruchio denies her of food, saying that he does not want her to eat anything that is not good enough for her; when she needs to go to bed, he does not allow her to sleep on a bed that is too poorly made. Although Kate grows increasingly hungrier and wearier, Petruchio still tries to make sure that “she eat no meat…/ …last night she slept not…/that all is done in reverent care of her” (4.1.184-191). As Petruchio gives all kinds of excuses in the name of love, Kate has to yield to his will and way until she cannot endure her physical suffering anymore. If she wants to live a normal life as a wife, she has to, in other words, submit herself to her husband’s authority. When she finally tells him that “sun it is not when you say it is not/ and the moon changes even as your mind/ what you will have it named…/ and so it shall be still for Katharine” (4.5.19-22), Kate makes it clear that as long as she can have some food and rest, she does not care whether her husband becomes her master or absolutely controls her universe. Through this physical maltreatment disguised in love, Petruchio is thus able to consolidate his position as the dominator within their relationship.  
As a result of Petruchio’s effective use of his taming tactics, Kate goes through a whole process of transformation both in words and in deeds. When the drama unfolds, Kate appears to be a truly shrewish girl, whose very name is “a title for a maid of all titles the worst” (1.2.127). Even when her father orders her to stay, she sarcastically asks: “shall I be appointed hours, as though… I knew not what to take and what to leave?” (1.1.103). Rude, violent and stubborn, she refuses to accept the role she is expected to play in her society.  However, as Petruchio tries to tame in one way or another, she changes dramatically. If her question about Petruchio’s quick-witted speech signifies her initial change in her attitude towards her suitor, her agreement to marry Petrudhio is the first major change in her behavior pattern, suggesting that she is ready to commit herself to a serious relationship with a man even without any verbal protest. This process of transformation becomes complete at the end of the play when all the new husbands have a bet on whose wife would come first upon command. Not surprisingly, it turns out that Petruchio’s wife is the only one to respond willingly. More significantly, she makes a long and unexpected speech about marital harmony, stating that men go through many hardships for “love, fair looks and obedience-/ too little payment for so great a debt” (5.2.158-159). This dramatic moment clearly demonstrates that Kate has become a wife completely tamed in words as well as in deeds, who not only embraces her social role, but also defends it readily.
To conclude, Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew is a powerful dramatization of how Petruchio successfully tames Kate primarily through his effective manipulation of her psychological tendencies and physical needs. As he kills “her with kindness/ and thus… curb[s] her mad and headstrong humor” (4.1.195-196), he accomplishes his mission to bring her from “a wild Kate to a Kate” (2.1.279).  It is true that other factors may also have contributed to Kate’s transformation – for instance, she may have developed a genuine love for Petrechio; it is also true that Kate’s change may have more to do with her own self-awareness or fears; however, it is obvious that Petruchio plays a particularly important role, as he manages to accomplish a mission impossible for other suitors. While his accomplishment may be fantastic, it clearly shows that one’s personality is transformable after all.  

Winston Smith:
A Discussion of His Character Traits

Allen Yuan
Ms. Lin
English 12
Block 2-1
November 11, 2012

[Word Count of the Text: 1017]

            An internationally-acclaimed dystopian novel, Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four vividly portrays an oligarchical collectivist society where life in the “Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system named English Socialism (Ingsoc) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking” (Wikipedia). At the beginning of the novel, its protagonist Winston Smith is presented as a physically frail 39-year-old man, who has to walk “slowly, resting several times on his way” (page 3) when he climbs the stairs. However, as the story progresses, one recognizes Winston to be an psychologically strong character, whose most important personality traits are his independent mind, rebellious tendency, and courageous spirit.
            Although he is a member of the Outer Party and a civil servant of the Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith does not blindly subscribe to the doctrine of Big Brother and the Party as he is expected to. It is true that under the totalitarian rule of the Big Brother who is both omnipotent and omnipresent, all individuals can see or hear only what the Party allows them to see or hear; it is also true that with the Party’s tight control of the human mind through language (Newspeak and Doublethink), technology and spying agents, all citizens may even tend to think the way the Party wants them to; however, Winston has an independent mind. Probably from his job experience in changing historical records as the Party sees, Winston has developed a deep hatred against lies and a strong passion for the truth. While he disagrees with the Party’s slogan that “FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH” (page 18), he firmly believes that “it is impossible to found a civilisation on fear and hatred and cruelty” (page 281). When reflecting upon the censored media and great offences like Thoughtcrime, Winston hopes for “a time when thought is free… a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone” (page 32). Unlike his brainwashed comrades who would be always ready to absorb the Party’s teachings like a sponge, Winston refuses to accept the Party’s ideology. For him, true freedom is the freedom to seek and express the truth, or “the freedom to say that two plus two make four” (page 84). That is to say, Winston’s independent mind is closely related not only to his job experience but also to his pursuit of truth and freedom.
Given his independent mind, it is not surprising that Winston has a strong tendency towards rebellion. As he functions to adapt Big Brother’s persona and using Newspeak to alter the past for the Minitrue, he hates the Party and engages himself in a whole series of rebellious acts against Big Brother. Winston even dislikes those who work hard for the Party or remain loyal to it, such as Parsons and Syme who obnoxiously praise Big Brother and Newspeak. Winston knows well that possessing a diary is already a punishable act, but he actively keeps one; additionally, he consciously commits multiple Thoughtcrimes by scrawling “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” (page 21) repeatedly. Also, he challenges the regulations of the Party by falling in love with Julia, thus striking a “blow [struck] against the Party… a political act” (page 133). This relationship is particularly significant in a political sense, since Julia likes Winston because he is “against them” (page 128), specifically the “Party, and above all, the Inner Party” (page 128). Another even more significant rebellious act Winston performs is his secret meeting with O’Brien to formally join the anti-Party Brotherhood. Winston pledges to do “anything that [he] is capable of” (page 179). When he starts reading Emmanuel Goldstein’s book The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, he is practically committing treason because the author is the greatest threat to the Party and Big Brother. Such actions clearly demonstrate that Winston has a persistent rebellious tendency against the Party and Big Brother.  
            No less noteworthy than his rebellious tendency is Winston’s courageous spirit, which can clearly be seen throughout the novel. Writing “DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” (page 21), he is certainly aware of his Thoughtcrime. More courageously, Winston leaves his diary open, not wanting want to “smudge the cream paper” (page 22), since the “Thought Police would get him just the same” (page 21). Furthermore, as his relationship with Julia develops, Winston goes so far as to rent a hidden room in Mr. Charrington’s shop which appears to have no telescreen, although the Thought Police could persecute him simply for avoiding surveillance. In the face of danger and death, the man is brave enough to do whatever he finds is the right thing to do, whether it is expressing his true feeling or living together with his love. Later on, when he is questioned about his memory and the past of Oceania during his interrogation, Winston defiantly shouts: “you have not controlled mine” (page 261). While O’Brien attempts to force him to recognize that two plus two equals five, Winston repeatedly answers “four” (page 262) despite the great pain of the electroshock. Believing that the totalitarian regime is doomed to collapse, Winston tells O’Brien that he is the “spirit of Man” (page 282) who will oversee that the Party is overthrown and people are set free. These and many other similar episodes are explicitly illustrative of Winston courageous spirit, which is deterred by neither pain nor death itself.
            Physically weak as he is, Winston Smith turns out to be a true hero.  Throughout the story, he shows himself to be a psychologically strong character with an independent mind, rebellious tendency, and courageous spirit against all odds. Unlike other citizens of Oceania, Winston refutes the teachings of Big Brother and the Party, and sticks to his own convictions in spite of all possible consequences he would have to face. As he refuses his “duty to the Party” (page 139) and fights for true freedom, Winston exemplifies the way anyone who seeks truth and freedom in a society under the totalitarian rule can and should define oneself as an individual.

Works Cited
Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. 1989. Reprint. London: Penguin Books, 1990. Print.
“Nineteen Eight-Four.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 11 Nov. 2012. <>
“The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 11 Nov. 2012. <>

“The Lottery” and The Holocaust
A Comparative Discussion of Two Types 
 of Public Murder

Allen Yuan
Ms. Lin
English 12
Block 2-1
October 7th, 2012

[Word Count: 723]

            Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery,” which is set in a small rural community on a summer day, vividly portrays the way Mrs. Tessie Hutchinson is tragically victimized when participating in the village’s traditional “lottery” which commands the stoning of the individual who draws the black-dotted paper. With killing as one of its central themes, the story can closely be related to The Holocaust. It is true that the genocide during World War II and the killing in “The Lottery” are different in terms of cause, process, and result; however, both the story and the Holocaust reveal that in a given social setting, innocent people can be brutally murdered in a public manner.
            When comparing the Holocaust and Jackson’s story, one initially finds that the causes of the homicides are very different. While Hitler aimed to create a pure Aryan race by exterminating disabled people, homosexuals, Gypsies, and the Jews, the lottery conducted in the village represents superstitious tradition which dictates “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon” (page 48). In other words, the Holocaust was carried out for the sake of purification of a race while the lottery drawn is for a good harvest. Another important difference between the two cases lies in the killing process. In the story, it is very simple: Mr. Summers, the village leader, reads out the “names… and the men come up and take a paper out of the box” (page 47). Whoever has the black-dotted paper is stoned to death by the others. However under the Nazis rule, the targeted groups were first isolated, then forced to work in concentration camps or participate in medical experiments, and finally murdered in a systematic fashion. As a result, Mrs. Hutchinson being the only unlucky person killed supposedly benefits the whole village in the story; by contrast, millions of Jews were massacred during the Second World War in order to fulfill Hitler’s evil plan.
            Much more noteworthy are the similarities between “The Lottery” and the Holocaust. For one thing, in both cases the killings are murderous in nature. Tessie Hutschinson has committed no wrong; she just happened to draw a slip of paper with “a black spot on it” (page 51). In “The Lottery”, the stoning is very brutal since all the villagers, including Tessie’s family and friends, join in on the stoning. “Someone gave little Davy”, who is her son, “a few pebbles” (page 51) and her friend “Mrs. Delacroix [had] selected a stone so large she had to pick it up with both hands” (page 51).
The Shoah’s countless victims are like the lottery’s “winners” since they are both innocent; however, they are slaughtered as a result of the Nazis’ or the villagers’ blind actions. Similarly in the Holocaust, the Nazis had followed Hitler for a preposterous and controversial purpose. Essentially, they are ordered to kill distinguished groups of people who have committed no crime; the Jews and others are also the ill-fated victims of unwarranted bigotry. The genocide also had been very ruthless. The Nazis had slaughtered an estimated eleven million people through a variety of tactics, such as gas showers, chambers, bomb raids, shooting, torture, and physical abuse.
            Although the foundation and progression is obviously contrasting to great extents in “The Lottery” and the Holocaust, both scenarios share parallel natures and deep lessons. There may be a time in one’s society when something unfair and insensible occurs, such as public murder, but do not be afraid to be that single voice retaliating from the masses, shouting something simple as “it isn’t fair, it isn’t right” (page 51).

Ralph VS Jack: A Comparative Discussion
of Two Different Leadership Styles
Allen Yuan
Ms. Lin
English 11
Block 2-3
December 12th, 2011

Nobel Prize winner William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, which is set on a remote island during the Second World War, tells about a group of young British boys struggling to survive after a plane crash. In this compelling novel, Ralph and Jack Merridew are vividly portrayed as two leaders of the boys. As such, both try to play their roles well and develop a higher degree of authority in their own cliques. However, they embody very different leadership styles: while Ralph is a rational, sensible and responsible leader, Jack tends to be impulsive, dictator-like, and irresponsible.
At the story unfolds, Ralph initially demonstrates his leadership by assessing the boys’ situation and determining their survival needs. Seeing that they are all stranded on a small uninhabited island, Ralph decides that they need “people for looking after the fire” (page 42) so that passing-by ships can spot the smoke signal. Also, recognizing that they “need shelters” (page 52), he begins to address this issue by leading the boys to construct shelters with whatever resources available. After listing out the problems and priorities the group faces, Ralph organizes the kids for higher efficiency to achieve these objectives. He cleverly turns the blood-thirsty Jack and his choir member into hunters, and attempts to preserve hygiene by telling all the kids that they should strictly use “‘those rocks… as a lavatory… The tide cleans the place up’” (page 85). This instruction is particularly noteworthy because it reveals Ralph to be a sensible leader who makes logical choices. With a rational mind and strong common sense, Ralph is also able not only to articulate his thoughts but also to persuade others to listen to him, and make them follow the rules. A perfect example takes place when Ralph talks about how his “father’s in the Navy. He said there aren’t any unknown islands… so… sooner or later, [they] shall be rescued” (page 36). To cheer up his group members, Ralph tries and succeeds in convincing them about the importance of keeping a smoke signal. Even in times of terror, he manages to calm the kids down with logic: there “‘couldn’t be a beastie… on an island this size… only in big countries’” (page 34). These examples clearly show that Ralph’s leadership style is characterized by the way he first sets a realistic goal, and then works his way to it by using logic and persuasion to motivate his group members.
Unlike Ralph, Jack tends to act on his impulses rather than to try to meet the group’s real needs. In general, food is a basic necessity for survival, but meat is not, because there are other foods available on the island. Jack refuses to accept this notion, stubbornly insisting that they “‘want meat’” (page 51). For him, impulses are more important than reasons. With this mentality, Jack naturally avoids doing essential chores, like building sturdy shelters or fetching drinkable water. What he wants is simply to hunt wild boars all day to satisfy his limitless blood-lust. This irrational behavior causes Ralph to chastise him angrily, “‘Don’t you want to be rescued? All you can talk about is… pig!’”(page 55). As a leader, Jack also acts like a true dictator. When he leaves Ralph to form a new group, Jack instantly declares himself the chief, but to kids like Piggy, Jack is not a good leader since “he’d have all hunting and no fire. [They would] be here till [death]” (page 100). More importantly, Jack treats all his underlings cruelly and shows no mercy. For example, he “‘got angry and made [others] tie Wilfred up’” (page 176) for a random and harsh beating. Power-abusive as this young supreme dictator is, Jack is also irresponsible. When he is assigned the simple task of watching the fire, Jack fails to perform his duty; as a result, the fire is out and they miss the hard-earned opportunity to be rescued. Such episodes strongly suggest that Jack’s leadership style is characterized by his impulsive, authoritarian and irresponsible tendencies.
Given all the differences between them, one may well prefer Ralph’s leadership style to Jack’s. For one thing, Ralph’s rational leadership focuses upon the safety and well-being of every group member. Also, his sensible decisions on matters like keeping a fire are for the benefit of the whole group in the long run. In addition, the way he tries to persuade others into appropriate actions demonstrates that his leadership is both democratic and efficient. By contrast, what Jack wants to do as a leader, such as hunting boars all day, is often just for fun, or to satisfy his irrational desires only. Furthermore, Jack relies mainly on physical force and enjoys taking brutal actions as revealed by the way he would “‘close in and beat’” (page 99) the mysterious beast to death. In an uncivilized society, Jack may function to be a strong leader in some sense, but in a civilized world, Ralph’s leadership is undoubtedly much more proper and desirable.
To conclude, Ralph and Jack represent two strikingly different leadership styles in William Golding’s famous novel. While Ralph proves himself to be a democratic leader, Jack turns out a dictator. This great discrepancy is significant in two major ways. On the one hand, it serves to reflect and emphasize the different personality traits each leader has, thus contributing greatly to the novel’s characterization of the two rivals. On the other, the difference gives a contemporary meaning to the story as a whole, since it calls attention to two basic kinds of leaders in a given human society. Indeed, as we read the book, we readers are constantly reminded that whenever there is such occasion, we should try to choose people like Ralph to be our leaders rather than those like Jack who would place their own personal impulses before the well-being of our entire society.  

              Discrimination: A Thing of the Past and Present 

            M. Senesi’s short story, “The Giraffe,” and C. Castagna’s article, “Two dead in shooting at dealership”, both tell of the unspeakable horrors of bigotry. In addition to historical references, such as the CPR, it can be inferred that discrimination has existed for as long as a society has been established, and that it occurs in a variety of situations and forms.

To begin, in the “The Giraffe”, discrimination is apparent since the villagers reject the giraffe that is innocent and only needs to be taken care of. The boys curse the village “where giraffes can’t live, because there’s room only for the things that are already here” (pg.104). The village people refuse to accept new things and are skeptical of taking care of an entirely different species. In this short story, prejudice exists in a deprived surrounding and is against an entirely different species. The church and its priest refuse to provide shelter for the giraffe whereas the church is generally known to be a place of acceptance. This irony contributes to the overall level of discrimination demonstrated within the story.

In Castagna’s article, racial discrimination rises to a vicious level in a place supposedly free of racism: Canada. In Edmonton, a white man takes the lives of two co-workers over racial conflict. The process describes the person as someone who came “’with a vengeance and a rage’” (Castagna, 2011). Generally, western society is believed to be civil and now devoid of racial discrimination. However, it is evident that this is the contrary. For example, prejudice takes place in a common workplace and expands to a brutal extreme, creating bloodshed in its wake; much unlike in Senesi’s “The Giraffe”. In other words, discrimination not only happens in a hypothetically “equal” place, but also appears in its most cruel form: violence.

In Canadian history, there were other instances of discrimination and prejudice. For example, a great injustice was against the Chinese who diligently worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway. The Caucasians believed the Chinese were inferior and deserved fewer privileges; thus, they were paid low wages, given less food and had to work more. Along with having to live in sub par conditions, the Chinese also had to work in equally dangerous conditions. In this case, bigotry is clearly being committed against the Chinese. Although it is not violent discrimination, like in Castagna’s article, it deeply affected the Chinese and their identity in Canada. Despite occurring over 120 years ago, this also transpired in a workplace full of racial conflict like in the Edmonton shooting.

In summary, Senesi’s “The Giraffe” and Castagna’s article both contribute to the fact that discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice can be harsh and varied to different degrees, as demonstrated in the Chinese’s case, but ultimately both exist anywhere and everywhere. Whether it is against a co-worker or an animal, or in a village or modern workplace, it is still a spiteful act that mankind should aim to vanquish. Although it is a disregarded truth, it is still the truth; and the truth hurts.

Works Cited