5.22.2014

|Writing Reflection| From A Separate Peace to now


After cringing my way through the assessment on A Separate Peace  I wrote in the beginning of the year, I have come to this conclusion: Mrs. Chen did not start grading lighter but it was our writing that improved. In order to learn from my mistakes and see how much I have grown as a writer I have made a list of everything that went wrong in my two paragraphs.
1. No clear subject of sentences

  • The first and last sentence of my paragraph talks about a "he" - a "he" I have not defined. I now know I need to state the subject and object of my argument before jumping in and start using pronouns.
2. Clearly did not proofread
  • I often move ideas around in my essays which is perfectly fine as long as I remember to delete my sentence after I move it so you do no have the same quote twice in my essay. Not only did I lack in writing skills I also lacked the knowledge of the Ctrl + x function on my laptop. Silliest (stupidest) mistake I made in this assessment.
  • There are also grammatical errors all over the place because some of my sentences are missing a few words. In my first paragraph I opened with "feels towards Finny which leads his weak mental state" and later on wrote "because he tired of constantly winning". I can not claim to be a master proofreader as I always run out of time before I get a chance to read through my writing but I will start perusing through in greater detail if I ever get the chance to proofread.
3. Illogical/ flawed argument
  • It is kind of difficult to write a strong analytical paragraph if your argument does not even make sense. I still have problems creating a strong and insightful argument in my writing but I have improved in creating a more logical stance (most of the time).
4. Evidence does not match up with argument
  • This is also an area I have not yet mastered as I have difficulty creating logical connections between my quotes and argument. This can link back to my previous point on how weak arguments never lead to strong analysis.
5. Weak analysis of quotes
  • I find that a lot of my analysis either does not relate to the topic or does not uncover the true meaning of the quote. The lack of insight in my analysis leads to not using the quotes to the benefit of my argument as I am not using the quotes to their fullest potential. Overtime, I learnt to recognize the deeper meanings of quotes by breaking down the quote and analyzing its diction or relating it back to themes of the book. I still need to create more logical and insightful analysis in my essays but I have definitely made progress since the A Separate Peace assessment.
  • Another area dealing with quotes is the way I just dump the quote into my essay instead of weaving it throughout my essays. I was taught in middle school to state your evidence and then state your analysis but once I reached high school I realized we get more freedom with the structure of the essay as long as we have good organization. I now understand the importance of weaving in quotes because it makes the paragraph smoother to ready.
What I take away from reading through my old assessment is although I have definitely made progress in my writing I still have many more areas to work on. Although it was appalling to see the low quality writing in my earlier assessments it is nice to see areas were I have improved. 



     Thoughts on my writing

4.22.2014

|Quote Analysis| Sense and Sensibility: The Real Elinor

"His (Edward) coldness and reserve mortified her severely; she was vexed and half angry; but resolving to regulate her behaviour to him by the past rather than the present, she avoided every appearance of resentment or displeasure, and treated him as she through he ought to be treated from the family connection." Chapter 16, Page 168, Anchor

This quote reveals Elinor's real personality. Unlike what her cold demeanor suggests, Elinor does, in fact, get offended by cold treatment - she just does not show it. Elinor's composure and serious character comes from her ability to control and hide her true emotions. As although she was "mortified severely", she was able to "regulate her behaviour". The use of the word "regulate" suggests Elinor thinks herself as a out of control person who needs to be governed by regulations. In her case, Elinor restricts herself based on societal rules. Elinor "[avoids] every appearance of resentment or displeasure" and treats Edward the way he "ought to be treated from the family connection". She tosses aside her personal feelings because she knows it would be improper if she treated Edward harshly. 

4.21.2014

|Socratic Seminar + Writing Reflection + Reading Log| Sense and Sensibility: A Man for a Man

Socratic Seminar Reflection
This discussion was definitely one of our better discussion as we had great participation and flow of ideas in the seminar. Yet this discussion covered chapters 1 - 14 of Sense and Sensibility so there was a lot of material to discuss in only thirty minutes of time. So although we had great ideas, we only hit the bigger more general ideas instead of going in deeper and analyzing the literature. One aspect of the book we discussed about the is the relationships in the book. we came to a general conclusion that Willoughby and Marianne's relationship does not seem promising. Their relationship seems too perfect and fairy tale-esque to be true. We also came across the point that the plot seemed a bit anti-climatic. I know we are only in the first volume but there seems to be a lack of conflict except for the confusing relationships between the Dashwoods and the various men. Someone suggested that perhaps Margaret plays a bigger role than she currently does and will bring the long awaited plot twist. However the big ball has not happened yet so everything that is happening in the story is just building up before the real drama happens at the ball. 
Dance party for our A-



Writing Reflection
In the final essay for Romeo and Juliet, I improved on my abilities to analyze the text yet there are still areas of flawed logic and ideas that were irrelevant to my argument. An reason for this was my thesis was more complex than it should have been and it did not really state the argument I provided through my evidence and examples. I need to work on creating a stronger and clearer statement that relates to the evidence I use in the essay. 

Reading Log
The men in the story are really intriguing characters. Willoughby's sudden departure from Devonshire leaves the Dashwoods wondering about the motive behind his trip to London. Not only that, it also leads to Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood wondering if Willoughby and Marianne are engaged yet. The way Marianne mopes around after Willoughby leaves underlines her attachment towards him however it does not confirm whether she is engaged. 

On the bright side, Willoughby's departure seems to bring our long lost friend to visit the Dashwoods. Edward Ferrars finally decides to visit the ladies at the cottage. Actually, it is unclear whether he planned on visiting the Dashwoods as he was in the are for two weeks already and did not bother visiting Elinor. Adding to that, he was not particularly happy to see the Dashwoods either   and he definitely did show any added affection towards Elinor. Instead, Edward seemed more enthusiastic to see Marianne than he was to see Elinor. During the conversation he talks more to Marianne by suggesting how to spend her money and asking her if she thought he was shy.


In fact he did not mention Elinor's name when he addressed Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne about money nor did he ask for Elinor's opinion on his character. Furthermore, after Elinor tells Edward that Marianne finds anyone who does not agree or enjoy what she finds interesting to be reserved he becomes quiet and withdraws from the conversation. Right now my love senses (because I am a very trusted and reliable relationship predictor) are going off and telling me Mr. Edward Ferrar has the hots for Marianne. So the current score in the Wedding Games is 3 - 0 in favor of Marianne.

You go girl

4.15.2014

|Reading Log| Sense and Sensibility: Relationships

Thoughts on Chapters 8 - 11

Marianne and Willoughby have a fairy tale relationship. The way Willoughby carries Marianne home after she injures her ankle resembles any other damsel in distress romance story. A poor girl finds herself in danger only to be saved by a handsome wealthy young man (or in Willoughby's case, soon to be wealthy) and the pair fall in love. Simply put, I find their relationship cute. Willoughby is probably the closest match Marianne will get to her ideal man. He shares the same artistic interests as Marianne, treats her in a gentlemanly manner, is about to receive a whole munch of inheritance and as if it could not better, and is extremely good looking. 

I'm so excited for the prospects of this couple!

Yet while this whole young love thing is blooming, we have two dejected characters sitting at the side: Elinor and Brandon. When Marianne is with Willoughby "she [has] no eyes for any one else" and "scarcely spoke a word to any one else." (Austen, 55 - 56) Marianne is pretty much Elinor's only companion as Edward still resides in Norland and all the other women in Sussex are not compatible with Elinor's personality. In other words, Elinor has no one to talk to . Furthermore, Brandon also finds himself among the lonely and rejected as he suffers from unrequited love towards Marianne. At first Brandon's fancy for Marianne appeared to be a simple affair. Yet from his conversation with Elinor it appears there is more to Brandon than I previously thought. He accidently slips out how he once "knew a lady who in temper and mind greatly resembled" Marianne. (Austen, 57) His reasons behind liking Marianne seem to be affected by a past relationship he had with another woman that left a big impact on his life. Knowing this, Brandon is no longer the pitiful middle-aged man I previously made him out to be because it seems like he suffered hardships in his younger years. 

There is clearly something sad within him.  
On the other hand, the way Brandon accidently let slip to Elinor about his previous relationship suggests the two are becoming closer. Perhaps because of their similar lonely situation, they will begin developing feelings for each other. 

|Reading Log| Sense and Sensibility: Opposites

Thoughts on Chapters 1 - 7

As the title suggests, the book plays with the difference between sense and sensibility. Even though the story has just begun, Elinor clearly embodies the sense while Marianne displays large amounts of sensibility. Marianne's character might cause her trouble in the future as her bright personality may come across as vulgar to some. Although Elinor has done a great job herself in becoming a perfect example of how a young lady should act, she has to deal with the brazen characteristics her both her mother and Marianne. 

On the topic of men, Marianne and Elinor seem to have very contrasting views on what they find attractive or likable. Although Austen describes Edward Ferrars, the man Elinor develops feelings for, as "not handsome" nor "fitted with abilities" Elinor comes to like him as he has "an open affectionate heart" after he comes out of his "natural shyness". (Austen, 17) This suggests Elinor looks past than just the physical appearance of a person and takes their personality into account. She looks past her set ideas of what an ideal man should be and accepts Edward's quiet nature as his heart is "warm and temper affectionate." (Austen, 18) Marianne on the other hand cannot accept Edward as a proper bachelor for her sister. She states she cannot "be happy with a man whose taste" in art and music does not overlap with her own. (Austen, 19) Unlike her older sister, Marianne needs someone who she can be able to converse and share her interests with.

Love how the third sister is ignored

3.11.2014

|Socratic Seminar + Essay Reflection| Romeo and Juliet: Act 5

Seminar Reflection
The last Socratic Seminar of the unit was not our best but nonetheless, we still had a few pretty solid ideas.  The first point we brought up was the ending of the play and how happy it was. The way the Capulets and the Montagues were talking about achieving peace by giving each other golden statues of their dead children was a big contrast to the scene of Romeo and Juliet's deaths before. This brought up the question of the necessity of Romeo and Juliet's death. If the only thing the two families needed to do was make statues to achieve peace then Romeo and Juliet's deaths were unnecessary as they did not bring the big positive change in Verona we were all waiting for. We also suggested that this peace the families have established was a part of Friar Lawrence's plan all along. We stated that perhaps Friar Lawrence was aware of the deaths of Romeo and Juliet and it was part of his master plan to end the family feud. However this is questionable because it seems completely out of the Friar's character. The role of fate in the play was also brought up. The characters all blame the tragic events on fate however there are clearly areas where the characters could have acted differently and changed the outcome of their actions. The death of Romeo and Juliet was not entirely due to fate and destiny because the feud, their rash personalities, and many other factors also play into the result of their forbidden relationship.

Essay Reflection

Although I did fairly well on the latest writing assessment there are still areas to improve on. An obvious part I need to add to my writing is a concluding sentence to tie all the loose ends together. The organization of the evidence and support in my paragraph has improved since last time but I need to work on creating a stronger argument. I had two ideas in my paragraph which I should not only narrow down to one but make sure the one I am using is the more sold argument.

3.07.2014

|Reading Log| Romeo and Juliet: The End

What are your thoughts now that we have come to the end?

A short summary of the play would be: 
"A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life" (prologue, 7)

It is common knowledge that both Juliet and Romeo die in the end of the play, however I imagined their deaths to be more dramatic. I expected this awesome fight scene or something where Romeo falls and Juliet decides she cannot possibly live without him and kills herself too. Yet what really happens is bad timing. After all the effort Romeo, Juliet, the Nurse, and the Friar put into keeping them together, Romeo and Juliet die because of their irrational and impatient personalities. Maybe Shakespeare is trying to emphasize Friar's point from Act 2 where he states there is evil and bad in everyone and if they choose to embrace the evilness within them they will inevitably fall. Romeo and Juliet choose to act irrationally and make rash decisions in order to hold onto the "love" they feel for each other. However, we should not forget, what Romeo and Juliet were feeling for each other was not love but lust. Maybe lust is the culprit here. Lust is the evil that is inside of everyone and Shakespeare is demonstrating how letting lust make your decisions will only end in death and tragedy.

Another interesting idea in Romeo and Juliet is the switch of stereotypical gender roles in relationships. In Verona, it is generally accepted that the men are the head of the household and the dominant figure in any relationship. However, Romeo and Juliet's relationship is switched. Instead of Romeo, Juliet makes the decisions in their relationship. In fact, in the last line of the play the Prince concludes that their deaths was a tragic way to end "Juliet and her Romeo['s]" story (5.3.320). This whole play was Juliet's story and Romeo was merely her co-star that is there to help the plot unfold. Perhaps their flipped relationship is just to show how twisted Romeo and Juliet's story is.
Juliet rejoicing over Romeo's death because now she can really shine.

I am not going to lie, Romeo and Juliet was pretty difficult to comprehend (especially when you can't access Sparknotes) but once you understand what is happening and start reading in between the lines you really start appreciating Shakespeare and his contributions in literature. I mean it is pretty impressive how the whole thing is written in iambic pentameter.
Real thoughts on the end of Romeo and Juliet. 

 

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