AP Lit and Composition Journals

By: Courtney Anne Henry

Journal Number One

The poem Advice to my Son captures a sentimental feeling of time goes by fast but at the same time it goes by slow. The author, J. Peter Meinke, coneys a message through vivid imagery of living life to the fullest for it could end at anytime, “the shattered windshield and the bursting shell” (line 7). Meinke conveys a message here of a war time or carless actions that could easily end someone’s life too soon and make life flash by all too fast. However, at the same time, Meinke is also telling his son to enjoy the sweetness of taking his time and to enjoy the journey by, “Therefore, marry a pretty girl/ after seeing her mother” (lines 17-18). The imagery that Meinke provides is a way for him to really connect with the reader and his audience by making them stop and think about their lives and what it means to flash by quickly and yet at the same time slowly inch forward.

As a senior and a rising college freshman, I think that this poem really reaches out to everyone in my position. We are all so excited for the next year and wishing May to get here so that we can graduate and start pursuing our dreams but at the same time, we are told over and over again to slow down and enjoy the ride. Our graduated friends tell us that senior year goes by so quickly that we should remember to slow down and savor the last moments with some friends, a few great classes and that one teacher who changed our life, “beauty is nectar/ and nectar, in a desert, saves-“ (lines 13-14). However, at the same time, we are quickly urged to apply for college now and make up our minds about what we will do with the rest of our lives even though we still have doubts and and are told to relinquish our innocence and grow up and be ready for the world, “for they go fast, and young men loose their lives/ in strange and unimaginable ways” (lines 3-4). We are loosing the safety net of our hometowns and the familiarity of our lives in one quick year but if we take the time now like Meinke suggests, we can enjoy the slowness of time to savor what we know and love.

Journal Number Two

I think that my favorite archetype has to be the character who is perceived to be bad or evil or even the villain but in reality is genuinely a benevolent person. One of my favorite examples of this archetype is Maleficent from the classic Disney film Sleeping Beauty and the much more recent Maleficent. I fell in love with the character Maleficent from the first time I watched Sleeping Beauty and was completely hooked. I find this type of character to be very interesting in the fact that such a nice and often vulnerable person could be objectified in such a way that society hates them or is completely rendered fearful. One reason that this archetype is my favorite is that I think this type of character is so relatable to. So many people know the feeling of having to hide behind a mask of someone they are not or are seen by society to be someone that they are not.

Maleficent portrays the horrific and bittersweet story of Maleficent growing up with an ordinary boy Stefan and completely putting her trust in him just to have him exploit her lands and vilify her when in fact he was the villain all along. The character Maleficent always keeps strong and fights hard to have her voice heard of who she really is. This is one thing that I really admire about this archetype. The character is always trying to get past how society sees them and have their true identity recognized and treated the way that they deserve. Maleficent does just this. After Stefan steals her wings, Maleficent, although grounded, does everything in her power to get back what was rightfully hers [her identity] and was willing to put up a fight for it. This archetype may be objectified and made fun of or treated harshly but they are a fighter and a strong one at that.

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Journal Three

The poem, Ozymandias by Percy Shelley describes the power and fame of past ruler Ozymandias, better known as Ramses ii, King of Egypt. The narrator describes the ruins of this once great king and his past fame. Ramses ii is often considered to be the greatest ruler of Egypt and he is still quite celebrated. All of this fame is very flattering for Ramses ii but what was Shelley really trying to say? In the modern 21st century, fame often comes from association with the media and all of its attributes from movies to television shows to having a career in the music industry. However, Shelley was trying to convince a different point in his Ozymandias.

In Ozymandias, Shelly describes the words that the traveler said about the place that he came from, “who said— ‘two vast and trunkless legs of stone/ Stand in the desert… near them, on the sand,/ Half sunk a shattered visage lies…’” (Shelley 2-4). He describes a land of ruins (which is Egypt) and what surrounds the fallen statue. In regards to the fallen statue, I think that Shelley is trying to convey that even though fame is a great thing, time will still take its tole on it, no matter the person. I think that Shelley is trying to say that although people may talk about you for years to come and what not, a person will never regain the same type of fame that they had in their day and that over all, fame will fade and crumble with the ages.

Journal Four

I feel like the people in America today want to say whole heartedly that they are active participants in instigating change but in my view, people are not. People become excited, enraged, saddened, everyday by the news that they see and through their televisions, social media pages, and word of mouth. This news sparks people to feel feelings but they never do anything. The mere idea of going out and being activists is scary, and not many people ever gain the courage to go out in the world and try and make a change. However, the few people who work up the courage to make a difference are often laughed at or considered a nuisance to society and a big waste of time. Activists line the road ways to share their points of view but yet people just drive by and only slow down for a minute to see what is really going on. Last December, my family was staying at the Embassy in Buckhead for the weekend when a group of protestors and social activists showed up to to protest “the killing of unarmed black men and children by the police” (AJC). The protestors chained themselves together and blocked a major intersection. My dad was stuck in the middle of the commotion but yet all he wanted to do was get out of the mess. He just drove on by and was not active in the situation. He observed from afar. He did nothing.

I think that this is problem in America today. We easily drive by problems or scroll past them and because we “were exposed to the issue” we did something. No, I do not believe this. Just because someone “likes” something on social media does not mean in anyway that they actually support the cause. One “like” will not change anything in the world. To have change in the world (and in America) we must have people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get dirty to make change. Right now, the people of the USA are brainwashed into thinking that sitting back and looking at an issue on social media will solve something while they post their comment on someone’s post because “that one comment will for sure make a huge difference.” People need to get up off of their couches and do something about what is going on. If a guy can walk into a school and kill multiple little kids and all the country does is moan and cry about it, what will ever get done? People need to stand up for the changes that they believe in, not just say that they support something because they shared a post on Facebook.

Journal Five

In Sonnet 130, William Shakespeare used poetic elements and literary elements to completely disassemble the general picture of a “goddess” and a lover. As a result of this disablement, the reader of the sonnet is left with a different take of the idea of a lover and goddess. To begin the sonnet, Shakespeare takes a well known literary device, the simile, and uses it not to compare two alike things but drive them away from another, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;/ Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;” (lines 1-2). He immediately presents a contrast of things that would normally be considered beautiful but in this case are not even close to the object that they are being compared to. This creates a vast contrast in the view of “traditional beauty.”

Secondly, Shakespeare also turns the whole “love sonnet” on its head. In most poems and sonnets about love, the narrator goes on and on about how beautiful the love of their life is and as a result they are out of reach due to their beauty (essentially out of their league) or how their love is picture perfect. Shakespeare does nothing of this sort. He tells of how the love of his life is nothing like a goddess and not beautiful at all. He goes on and on comparing her to objects that are usually used in beauty comparisons but he throws a “not like” in there and completely changes the meaning. The one thing though that Shakespeare does with all of this is that at the end, he still comes out and says that he loves this woman and that she is the love of his life. Shakespeare does not follow the general pattern as discussed before, he completely changes it.

This changing of the ordinary similes and patterns of poems and sonnets sets Shakespeare apart from other authors. The effect from all of this is a fresh look at love. Shakespeare is very clear that this woman is not the “standard picture of beauty” at all but yet still loves her. Most love poems and sonnets that a person reads are chalked full of why a person is so wonderful and how beautiful the are but not Shakespeare. He puts love in to reality. Not everyone is perfect nor will they always look or smell a certain way, but if you love that person then go for it.

Journal Six

Physical beauty verses inner beauty and worth is quite the struggle. Every day the media throws it in the public's face, "you are too fat, too skinny, you're not tall enough, you don't wear make up, you don't wear enough make up..." On and on the list goes, there is no end.

In The Tempest, Miranda is a hopeless case for love. A beautiful young woman with no one to love. Miranda spends every day alone on the island with her father and Caliban. These two people do not do much for Miranda as far as love goes. This seems to be as a result of one of them being her father and the other tried to rape her. When Ferdinand shows shows up on the island, she is immediately stricken with love and admiration for him. Both characters fall head over heels in love for one another. This has a few possible reasons, the main one being how Miranda and and Ferdinand have both been deprived of love and attraction for an other person due to their seclusion on the island. For Miranda in particular, she has never seen but two men for most of her life so a new one really turns the whole story around (since she was forced to leave her home at about age three). Although there is no real tension between Miranda and Ferdinand, there is tension between the father and Ferdinand. The father, in his grand scheme of things, wants Ferdinand and Miranda to get together (since they are prince and princess). However, he can not show his support out-ly for the relationship that the two young adults are having.

Journal Seven

The Tempest is filled to the brim with hatred and jealousy originating from Prospero being a Duke and ruling over a dukedom in Milan. This issue of power is what brings his downfall and plagues part of his journey to a foreign island where him and his daughter are imprisoned for many years after a horrible boat reck. Alexander Pope's quote, "To err is human, to forgive divine" relates to the situation on the island that all the characters are feeling. They realize that it is easy to make mistakes and go after things but yet hard to forgive others, especially if they feel that their motives are justified. While on the island, everyone is confused to who is alive and dead and what to make of life. As the story progresses, Sebastian and Antonio are both seen to be plotting to kill Alonso so that they can then gain his power of being king of Naples. Murder seems to be what is on everyone's mind throughout the play. Sebastian and Antonio continue to plot their murder but yet their sins are later forgiven when a banquet that appears to be left for them is suddenly taken away. The two men are forgiven for their plot to commit murder as they were just being greedy men who were not in the right state of mind. Clearly, the men made a mistake but yet they have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that Alonso still got to keep his power and Ferdinand is alive and not dead (from not being killed in the boat reck). The men represent Pope's quote well through their display of making mistakes and yet at the same time having a hard time trying to come to terms with what they thought and planned to do.
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Journal Eight

In the movie V for Vendetta, the fascist government seeks to control every aspect of the lives of its people. This is starting to cause problems. Main character, V, recognizes that the government is doing harm to the people and their lives but also realizes that the people are allowing the pain and the ignorance that the government is inflicting upon the people is part of their own fault. Towards the end of the movie, V dresses up as missing man Rookwood in order to give information to the inspector with out being seen as himself. "Rookwood" said "fear became the ultimate tool of the government." He is right. The government had imposed strict rules upon the people-such as a curfew and fear of being killed or worse if found violating it. It helped to help control its people by keeping them in constant fear. This can be seen by the character Evie in the beginning of the movie. Evie had been going to see Gordon when she was caught by government guards who preceded to take hostage of her all because she had been found violating the curfew by a few minutes. Additionally, the government is seen to be censoring the news and what is being broadcast to the public. Everything is being spun to put the government in a good light so that when ever something bad were to happen, the people will put their faith in the government (strength through unity, unity through faith). The government has taken away the people's ability to practice religion (and banned all religious texts as well) so that they would purposely put their faith in the government [this also creates a sense of fear in the people for if they are found to have a religious text in their house they will be severely punished like Gordon when he was found to have a Qur'an (he was killed)]. This can be related to the multitudes of refugees in today's world. People are constantly fleeing their homes because of fear of their governments and what may happen to them in the future. However, not all people flee because of their government. In North Korea the people constantly live in fear of what will happen to them if they violate any rules and try to escape their current life style. The people are living in an oppressive society who is doing everything in its power to keep the people ignorant and submissive. As later said in the movie, "people should not be afraid of their government, governments should be afraid of their people." This is a hope for the future but at the same time, the people have to be willing to make a change and not become scared any more. People, like V, have to stand up, without fear, and face the oppression. It's up to the people to make a change.
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Journal Nine

I think that the mother, Orleanna, and her daughters wanted to go back to Kilanga because they wanted to find Ruth Mays grave and say a final goodbye to her as a family. I think that the little family was still feeling so much pain and loss from losing Ruth May as a young child that they all had a place in their hearts that felt empty and broken. This trip back would have helped them to obtain some closure to her death. I think that, however, because they could not go back to the village, it symbolized how Africa had already accepted the deaths of so many of her children and those deaths were part of the past that can never be changed. The death of a child but Africa and the Congo had already mourned the deaths of them and moved on.

When the mother and her children meet the old woman selling carved wooden figures in the market she, after much convincing, bought three elephants for her children. However, as the mother and her children were leaving the woman, she gives her a carved figure of a okapi. The symbolism with the okapi is reverent here because perviously the little family had scared off one trying to make its home on the river bank. The novel both begins and ends with an okapi just like the novel both begins with Ruth May [at least in reference] and ends with her. The carved figure represents the youngest child and all that she meant to the family. Ruth May will be forever present in the family, even if she is not there physically.

This chapter implies that Ruth May has become a snake in the trees like she had always [in the Congo] hoped to become. Ruth May being a snake is a bit ironic because she was killed by one but to become that animal was her desire. With her "becoming" a snake in the trees, this represents how Ruth May is at peace, happy, and safe. She is in a protective spot watching over her family that she is no longer with.

Journal Ten

If you are one to take the story of Pygmalion literally and believe that the Roman Gods really do have power, then it is quite obvious that the Roman Goddess Venus is responsible for awakening the statue that Pygmalion created. The main character, Pygmalion, created a statue to prove to mankind that women are not perfect and wonderful people. However, Pygmalion happened to fall deeply in love with his statue but became heart broken when he realized that he could not actually have a relationship with her. His deep love for his state caused Venus to take pity on Pygmalion and bring the statue to life for him as she had never seen love and care like this before.

Pygmalion's love for Galatea is completely self obsession. Pygmalion is so focused on creating a statue that displays a woman so wonderful and beautiful that the world has never seen before that he becomes completely sucked into his work [you could almost say that he becomes "married' to his work]. The love that Pygmalion has for Galatea is not ethical what so ever...the man falls deeply in love with a statue. His love is weird and twisted [and the fact that he is so deeply infatuated with a state] that his "love" should be put way into the "help I am crazy" category and then sent to counseling.

Galatea has no rights of her own. Pygmalion created her out of a desire to prove to man kind what awful women their society had. In the process of creating her, Pygmalion happened to fall deeply in love her but the love was completely centered in himself. He is narcissistic. When Venus brings Galatea to life, I am sure that Pygmalion was completely over joyed with the "love" of his life being "alive." However, I feel that Pygmalion would completely take advantage of her being alive and be super strict about what she could and could not do. I think that he would almost develop a super protective hold on her and thus strict what she could do [out of a fear that he would possibly loose her]. I think that also Venus had no choice about whether or not she wanted to love him back. She was brought to life because of one man's love. Maybe she did not want to love him back [that is saying that status would have to have feelings]. I think that as a result of all of this, Galatea suffers fro not having her own rights and free will.