Anna: On the queen known for her infinity

Hughes, Lucy, About Cleopatra: On the Queen known for her infinity, 2006, Web, 4 July 2016
Another significant character of Shakespeare’s plays is Cleopatra. She is consistent only in her inconsistency. She is a woman as changeable as water. Writing 200 years after Cleopatra’s death, Plutarch found traces of the way her own people had seen her. He did justice to her reputation as a linguist and scholar. He acknowledged her courage and the efficiency of her rule. He recorded fragments of the self-glorifying vision which she and her aides had adroitly cultivated, that of wise mother of her people, the incarnation of the goddess Isis here on earth.
But in his Roman sources, Plutarch found a very different Cleopatra, a depraved sensualist, a woman defined by her foreignness to Rome, whose nature and career seemed to confirm every prejudice Romans might hold against both foreigners and women – that they were sly and cowardly, that they were frivolous to the core, interested only in hairdressing and parties, and that they had sneaky, insidious ways of ensnaring a virile Roman hero and drawing him down to their own level.
The image of Cleopatra as irresistible temptress was elaborated by her enemies. It suited Octavius that the Romans should believe that his chief rival for power in Rome, Antony, was totally unfit to rule them, and that the conflict which reached its climax at Actium was not just another phase of the civil wars of which the Roman people were so heartily tired, but one fought against an aggressive foreign power.
Thanks to that persona, Cleopatra has remained for over two millennia as the quintessential object of desire, and she has been repeatedly re-imagined in accordance with changing fashions in desirability. Medieval poets hymned her sweet docility and her devotion to her man. Renaissance painters depicted her as a blue-eyed blond (she was a famous beauty, and beauties, in northern Europe at the time, were fair). Orientalists re-imagined her as a dusky houri. Romantics from Pushkin onward cast her as a femme fatale and entertained masochistic fantasies of her thrilling cruelty. ‘She is the most complete woman ever to have existed,’ wrote Theophile Gautier in 1845, ‘whom dreamers find always at the end of their dreams.’
But Cleopatra is not only the figment of others’ imaginations. She was herself a skilled manipulator of her own image. In Plutarch’s version of her story, and in Shakespeare’s re-interpretation of it, it is possible to glimpse some of the ways in which she presented herself to her subjects. Using costume and gesture, spectacle and ritual, she dramatized her power.
There are dozens of more or less pornographic paintings, dating from the 1st Century onward, of the death of Cleopatra in which the Queen, naked or nearly so, applies the asp to her bare breast. In fact all the ancient historians agree that, as Shakespeare correctly shows, she didn’t undress, but dressed for death. And the ‘royal robes’ she calls for would have been the paraphernalia which identified her as a goddess, an identification which was dramatically emphasized by the fact that the snake that killed her was Isis’s sacred creature. We well never know what the real Cleopatra was like. She certainly wasn’t the libertine of the Roman imagination, she was probably celibate for the majority of her adult life. Nor was she an omnipotent deity – her defeat and death are proof enough of that.

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Silpa – “Half God, Half Man: Kazantzakis, Scorsese and The Last Temptation”

“Half God, Half Man”: Kazantzakis, Scorsese, and “The Last Temptation”. Graham Holderness. The Harvard Theological Review. Vol. 100. No. 1. January 2007. Pp. 65-80

Arguments

The article points out the theme “The dual substance of Christ” which is mentioned in the prologue to Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel The Last Temptation of Christ and also in the film version of the novel directed by Martin Scorsese.

Both Kazantzakis and Scorsese located their work at the heart of Christianity’s most complex internal controversy, the relation between divinity and humanity in the person of Christ.

The paper explores the theological underpinnings of both versions of The Last Temptation and attempts to demonstrate the value of their contributions to theological discussion and debate.

In this paper, the author argues that though apparently denying divine omniscience, Kazantzakis fleshes out a persuasive model for understanding the purpose of incarnation. Kazantzakis affirms that God is incomplete without man and the author further claims that the contrary is also true.

The main objective of Kazantzakis was to liberate Jesus from the church and to bypass both the Christian doctrine devised by Paul and the “falsifications” of the gospel writers in order to get at the historical truth about Jesus of Nazareth.

Kazantzakis saw his work not as a repudiation of Christian truth nut rather as a revaluation of Christian spirituality for a modern age. Kazantzakis was clearly attempting a theological as well as an imaginative reworking of the life of Jesus. He was undertaking a theological revision of key doctrinal matters such as the incarnation and the atonement.

Sub Arguments

The dual nature, or dual substance, of Christ has always been, and still remains, an intellectually challenging, doctrinally controversial but nonetheless unavoidable cornerstone of Christian belief and worship.

Man without God is a mere animal, haunted by his anthropoid ancestry, and struggling to extricate himself from the coils of evolution. But conversely God without man could have no direct physical knowledge of the human existence that he himself had created.

Kazantzakis’ view of the “dual substance” of Christ assumed then that the two natures were utterly distinct, absolutely different, and violently inimical one to another.

More than any other foundational doctrine of Christianity, the supposedly symmetrical and stable relationship between the persons of the Trinity has proved in practice a site of controversy.

When the novel began to approach the person of Jesus, it was in the form of an anticlerical, secular and humanizing project. This Jesus, man rather than God, appears in both liberal theology and secular fiction of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries. Scepticism about the Christological possibilities of imaginative prose encouraged scholars to assume that the Christ of the novel is invariably the human Jesus and that Christ as incarnate God is therefore not representable in modern fiction.

The structure of Jesus’ journey, which corresponds loosely to the four phases mapped out in Kazantzakis’ sketchbook (son of the carpenter, son of man, son of David, son of God), shows a Jesus growing through successive stages of evolution into consciousness of his mission.

Backings

Kazantzakis links the dual substance of Christ with the dual nature of man as the product of both nature and God.

Creationism and evolution are juxtaposed as respectively theocentric and anthropocentric explanations of the universe.

Kazantzakis’ Jesus is predominantly human, full of weakness, self-doubt and ambivalence. He is not at first consciously aware of his own divine status, his mission of salvation or his destiny of crucifixion. He encounters his divinity as something hostile and alien. Throughout the novel Jesus retains a love of life and of the earth, which seems to conflict with his divine destiny.

Kazantzakis’ Jesus may not be conscious of his identity and destiny but is certainly subconsciously aware of them at the level of dream and vision, where much of the novel’s narrative operates.

The three temptations of the snake, the lion and the burning archangel discussed in the novel are the core temptations of humanity. The snake is desire, love of the earth, the yearning to have a wife and children, and the hunger for Mary Magdalene. The lion is the fierce and violent passions of animal instinct: the visionary beast proclaims that he is “the deepest voice of your deepest self.” The archangel tempts Jesus to think of himself as God.

 

 

 

 

Diasporas by James Clifford – Shivangi Bhardwaj

Clifford, James. “Diasporas.” Cultural anthropology 9.3 (1994): 302-338.

 

James Clifford in his work Diaspora brings to light the way the term has been used and how it has evolved over time and how it is placed in society now. He begins with the Jewish idea of the term and how it is used in context with Polish, Chinese and African context now. The term is more than geographical and merges with history and despite the continuous heterogeneity if these diasporic experiences the common thread of ambivalence runs through. The experience differs but the sense of homelessness, the rootedness in the home country and the alienation from and for the host country. He talks about how border and histories merge and the difference is very thin between what was felt in medieval ages and in contemporary times, even though the idea of exile hardly exists in current times. There are times when two communities associate with each other when they share the same diasporic geography. Their histories might differ but their experience merges. He brings in Said and Bhabha to create a diasporic identity that runs through the world and that identity is based on fragmented history, memories and a need for identity. And in the case of English Diaspora he draws from Rushdie who points out the fact that the British history was a diasporic construction, something made entirely outside their geography, hence a certain ambivalence seeps in towards both the host country and their homeland. This paper helps in constructing and understanding diasporic identities in the research that will be undertaken. This paper does not look at Indian diaspora and looks at medieval and contemporary diaspora missing out on the one that took place in the modern times.

Parvathy K_ELT_Tackling Lower Ability Students’ Writing

Clarke, J., Dale, J., Marsden, P., Davies, P., & Durbin, C. (2003). Tackling lower ability students’ writing skills. Teaching Geography, 28(2), 56-59. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23754312

The article outlines various ways in which writing skills can be improved. The first way to not overcrowd the essay, but help the student figure out relevant and to-the-topic points which can then further be explained if needed. Another way it works is by Scaffolding approach, in which the students are provided help (in terms of phrases or words) in the beginning and the help will be reduced over a period of 2 – 3 months.

The article also shows the result of this being implemented in a school in England. However the limitation of this is that the prerequisites of this article is that the students be able to grasp ideas and topics and write. However the lower ability students, in most cases need not have a grasp on language that is expected here.

The article provides another possibility in my research in terms of understanding the effect that Scaffolding has on writing skills. And the researcher can correlate the effects Scaffolding will have to topic.

Sankhipta- From Subjugation to Emancipation.

Samanta, Sugata. “From Subjugation to Emancipation: The Emergence of Unshackled Womanhood in ‘Rajmohan’s Wife’”, Research Journal of English Language and Literature (RJELAL).3.3. 2015. WEB.

This article focuses on the shift from subjugation to emancipation through the female protagonist. Novels exhibit great powers in exploring human minds while delineating their characters. “unlike most other novelists of his time, was quite successful in proving that his women characters are no less prominent than men and are indeed made of flesh and blood rather than faint and shadowy figures. The way women characters are drawn in his novels show a special insight of the author into women’s heart and authorial sympathy towards them” (1). Some of the features that his women characters qualify are complex and exciting.
As established earlier, the literary world was unaware of the fact that Bankim was the first to publish novel in English i.e. Rajmohan’s Wife, a lesser known novel of the time. It may not be considered as one of the finest novels but it reflects the contemporary society.
“There is also no way of denying that the novel portrays faithfully a truthful picture of the society within a limited perspective, which enables us to witness a transition from medievalism to modernity, particularly in depicting the struggle of young women in society” (2). Looking at the fact from subjugation to emancipation, the question claimed is determining the position of Matangini in the colonial space. Therefore, the novel is story of revolution, a silent revolt of a young women of eighteen. The silent revolution against the domestic violence makes the novel have its place in the literary space.
“The novelist has portrayed Matangini with different colours and shades. Matangini oscillates in her deeds according to her conscience on one hand and in maintaining social norms as a marginalized woman on the other” (4). When Matangini is asked by her husband not to go out to fetch water is where we see the concept of subjugation but she retorts to this and goes out to fetch water showing emancipation. In return the fury of Rajmohan is seen on Matangini which she faces by being silent as said above.
“The novelist seems to preserve different narratives for Rajmohan’s wife and Matangini. From the title, it appears Rajmohan’s narrative is the prominent one and it is suggested that his wife is allowed no control over her own body as well as her sexuality”(5).
“The name ‘Matangini’ in the novel bears special connotation. From the derivative point of view, ‘Matangini’ is the name of goddess Kali and when she ventures to step out in the dark night to protect Madhab from the dacoits, she rises to superhuman heights of prowess and goes out to destroy the evil hands. She has now the power of an elephant (another meaning of ‘Matangini’) that may eventually crush everything which comes to her way in doing justice (Bangiya Sabdakosh). Like a delirious river, her immense inner strength is revealed in the language when she knocks the household of Madhab with the hope of informing him well before about the dacoity”(6).
In this novel the social orders become rigid while the protagonist changes it by her brevity.
“The symbolic significance of Matangini in this novel may be multifaceted, but it is also undeniable that the way the character of Matangini is portrayed definitely shows the motifs of feminine anguish and revolt. At the core of her character lies a rebel against accepted conventions. At first, she is portrayed as a stereotyped housewife of any Indian village ready to accept the patriarchal codes silently and uncritically”(9).

Rama Mehta’s Inside the Haveli: A Feminist Interpretation- Nidhi Chadha

Rama Mehta’s Inside the Haveli: A Feminist Interpretation

– Dr. Muktaja V. Mathkari

The article discusses in the light of Rama Mehta’s Inside the haveli the issues of female rebellion and retreat of women in the haveli. It brings out the patriarchal mentalities of the society during a particular period. The article also deals with the issues on how “voicing of protests, alienates her from the prevailing culture on one hand and on the other makes her a participant in the traditional hegemonic practices which oppress her.”

The article further looks into women and her space, the status and position she holds in such a society. It talks about empowerment, survival and a quest for a lost identity in a male dominated society. Images in the novel Inside the Haveli are also looked into by the author. It discusses the protagonist, Geeta who despite being well educated, is stuck in the shams of patriarchy. She has been portrayed as submissive, one who has not made any effort to demolish the male dominance even though the way Rama Mehta has shown her character is restless and there is a spark in her to overcome such dominance, she is unable to do so.

The article further discusses the peripherilisation of women, where they are never given a chance to enjoy a central position in the family. The article reiterates this by stating S. Bhattacharya’s opinion on the marginalization of women in traditional Hindu families and he goes on to say that the writers could have avoided the old tradition where women are the victims of domestic violence and emotional privation. Hence, Rama Mehta’s writing is seen as an ‘othering’ of females which not only subordinates their position in the society but also silences their voices in a family. They are expected to maintain the household and take care of the children as a wife, mother, and daughter-in- law or mother-in-law. Even in the 21st century, when in India girls have repeatedly proved themselves competent for every profession, the deep rooted gender discrimination continues among even the affluent and educated people living a so called modern life in the metro cities.

The novel’s latter half shows Geeta’s search for an independent identity which is seen by her ‘moving’ within her traditionally specified confines. The author then talks about transgressing boundaries and spaces by bringing in the sub-plot of the novel through the character of Lakhsmi. It clearly discusses the male and female spaces in the novel and the stark difference between the two spaces. It talks about how still women are stable and wandering women like Lakshmi are evil- a typical notion of patriarchal society. Despite the alienation faced by Geeta in the prevailing culture she still is a participant in the culture. As the novel progresses she is seen to find a space within the limits of that culture. Her ambiguous nature can thus be seen as an amalgamation of both tradition and culture.

The researcher hence with the help of this article will attempt to study the dilemma in the characters of the females in Rama Mehta’s Inside the Haveli. This article gives a direct insight to the researches done on Rama Mehta’s Inside the haveli.

Mathkri.V.Muktaja. “Rama Mehta’s Inside the Haveli: A Feminist Interpretation”. Academic Research. (1-9)