August 13th, 2012
|03:13 pm - Essay for F&SF about Dracula|
It is my contention that in the novel Dracula, the Count is the emblem for foreign influences on English mores that are driven back by a coalition of the island's nobility, gentry and professional men, supported by American arms, and Western European knowlege, shown by Quincy Morris, the cowboy, and Abraham Van Helsing, the professor. Stoker describes the filth and depravity of Eastern European folks, brought to England by Gypsies and supported by them, debasing and ruining fine British womanhood and changing them to emulate himself. Without the strengthening of their will by the intervention of Van Helsing, and their fighting prowess by the Winchester-armed American, the Englishmen were disarmed and weepy. In the end, though, the British Empire triumphs over the evil of the East, while the Western Hemisphere is slain in support of the Mother Country.
The novel was published in 1897, when Queen Victoria reigned, and as the British Empire was reaching its zenith on the world's stage. The Count's effect on the English in the novel would be especially frightening when it appeared that the power of the United Kingdom was unassailable at sea or on land. His eerie powers, and his disgusting habits would sicken and thrill the readers of the time. Even then, though, before the events of the First World War, it was clearly apparent to the intelligentsia that the British would need the aid of the Americans were they to get involved in fighting on the European continent to be able to succeed. All non-English but Professor Van Helsing and Mr. Morris were described in disparaging terms, suggesting the prevailing views amongst the subjects of the Empire of their relative value as allies.
Which? Both? First? Second?
Open ended questions stink. There's no guidance to tell me what the teachers expect me to be looking at. Do they want controversy? do they want me to look at it from a different perspective? different from what? etc.
It's a million time easier to answer a question, even a poorly worded question, than to just come up with something.
Here's the assignment, repeated each week:
Please write an essay that aims to enrich the reading of a fellow student who is both intelligent and attentive to the readings and to the course. Each essay should be between 270 and 320 words.
The essay should focus on this unit's reading and the subject may be any literary matter that you studied in that reading: plot, style, theme, structure, imagery, allusion, narrator reliability, and so on. Such matters are discussed in the video clips. Do not use the essay as an occasion to discuss non-literary matters that fall outside the course reading and the process of reading. For example, while it is true that beauty often (but not always) represents goodness in fairy tale characters, an essay for this course should not be about how today's society does or does not fairly reward attractive people. However, one could write a fine essay for this course by comparing Sleeping Beauty and her step-mother to argue that their story implicitly questions the reliability of beauty as a moral indicator in the story and hence the reliability of a superficial understanding of what we encounter, both in reading a story and in life. Of course, since the intelligent and attentive fellow student in this course has just read that thesis about "Sleeping Beauty," an essay merely restating it would not enrich that student's reading further. An essay with that thesis would have to explore its working in the story in deep and revealing ways to enrich further the reading of a fellow student. These essays should become ever more insightful as the course progresses and as you progress, but the assignment is always the same: write an essay that aims to enrich the reading of a fellow student who is both intelligent and attentive to the readings and to the course.
To review how to approach this assignment, please revisit the section on "The Essays" on the "Work Expectations" page and two video clips in Unit 00 – Getting Started, "How to Read for this Course" and "How to Write for this Course."
Ug, "deep and revealing" in 320 words.
Oh, yeah. But based on the ones I've posted, I hope you find them not too bad.
Not bad at all, especially given the word limit.
Just, well, short.