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Bartleby, The Scriverner

August 12th, 2009 No comments

In Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener,” the narrator, an anonymous lawyer, describes himself as one who lives a simple and mundane life. According to the narrator, his philosophy on life is that “the easiest way in life is the best way”. He is a man who takes few risks in life and tries to conform to the norm of society. However, after hiring a new scrivener, Bartleby, the narrator finds himself pulled into an existence of confusion and conflict.

The protagonist informs us that for thirty some odd years he has maintained a descent business preparing documents for the wealthy. He also makes it known that he stays away from the court room because he is not ambitious and he is known to be extremely safe. By the narrator’s own admission he knows very little about his employees; he knows only what he sees at the office. Turkey, one of the narrator’s law copyists, is productive in the morning and drunk in the afternoon. Read more…

Essay on Politics and the English Language

August 10th, 2009 No comments

The language of politics is one that is universal to all languages. In 1948, George Orwell published an essay entitled Politics and the English Language, which discussed just that. In paragraph 21 of this essay, he claims, “political language…is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidarity to pure wind.” This is absolutely right, it was in Orwell’s time, and it still holds true today, in a time of mass media, corporate influence, and colossal magnitudes of sensationalism. I plan to explain what Orwell meant by “political language” and show how those who misuse it to their advantage can get away with blatantly lying, yet still amassing support of the misled.

Right at the beginning of his essay, Orwell claims civilization to be decadent and therein infers that civilization’s language must be decadent as well. This is an interesting point that I did not agree with until I finished the reading. Orwell then goes on to explain, “The decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes,” which is definitely true. Keep in mind that his essay was written in 1946, shortly after World War II had ended, so he is speaking from a time where nearly everyone in the world knew of society’s evils. In addition, throughout the essay, Orwell uses exceptionally strong expressions to describe the current state of the English language by using the analogy of a downtrodden individual succumbing to alcoholism, and then referring to the “slovenliness” of Modern English, explicitly written English… However, Orwell also claims that this same slovenliness of the English language can be reversed…
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English Regents Answer

August 7th, 2009 No comments

Frank Conroy and William Maxwell show exceptional examples of what childhood friendships may have consisted of many years ago. Within Passage I, Frank Conroy displays how a relationship can be formed between two people who have just meet and yet still have the deep relationship that is usually only acquired by people who have had a relationship for many years. William Maxwell explains how a simple playmate can be even more significant than ever thought to be. No matter how silent the playmate is or how ironic the circumstances of their meeting, relationships will grow. Both Passages are prime examples of true friendship.

Childhood relationships seem to be very insignificant to adults. However, to children, their youngest friendships may be their most important friendships that they will always remember. Passage I, in first person point of view, shows how tranquil young child’s friendship may be through symbolism. This peacefulness is shown when Frank Conroy writes, “Above, the fat white clouds drifted in the blue. Great sedate clouds, rich and peaceful. We lay on our backs watching them, getting dizzy as they slipped along behind the branches, as if our tree was falling.” This quote symbolizes how the two boys friendship is so perfect and so peaceful that it’s just like the lightly rolling silent clouds that passed above them. The boy’s friendship was so beautiful because they required no spoken words to know how good of friends they were. They boys would spend a lot of time together, just in silence. A simile found within Passage I further displays how they could just lay there and be perfectly content with it, “hour after hour our bodies fell like bundles into the softened sand.” Along with Frank Conroy in Passage I, William Maxwell also displays the same qualities in Passage II. Read more…