What Does it Mean to be a King? (Macbeth Act IV Scene 3)

Scotland has suffered under the harsh rule of the tyrant Macbeth, and Macduff has come to Malcolm to discuss the issues of a power hungry tyrant (Macbeth) and how they will ultimately remove him from the throne permanently. Malcolm states that “This tyrant (Macbeth), whose sole name blisters our tongues, / Was once thought honest” (IV.3.14-15) Meaning that Macbeth seemed to be a strong individual; especially in war, and ultimately went against his country for his own power. Anyone who is willing to speak out against his doings is strictly forbidden in public. Malcolm gives us a good idea of what a king should be through

“…the king becoming graces / As justice, verity, temp’rance, stableness, / Bounty, perseverance, mercy, lowliness, / Devotion, patience, courage, [and] fortitude” (IV.3.107-110)

are all applicable to being a great leader and King. All of these words do not reflect the kind of ruler Macbeth is because he has murdered Duncan (former king) and now wants his hands on Macduff to keep his power over Scotland. In a world where “Fair is foul, and foul is fair…” (I.1.12) dethroning this caliber of a King is seemingly impossible to do, however England has offered Malcolm soldiers to oppose Macbeth’s harsh rule and eventually implement a King of Scotland who has all of these values, and also untwist the witches world to a world where foul and fair know their place.

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“Richard Cory” by Edwin Arlington Robinson

In “Richard Cory,” Robinson depicts a recognized celebrity by the name of Richard Cory. People who deal with the burdens of poverty hold Richard in high regard and recognized his elegance and manners. They were truly convinced that he was living a perfect life until one day, out of the blue, Richard shot himself in the head. Richard Cory seemed like a very insecure and unstable individual: “But still he fluttered pulses when he said / “Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked” (lines 7-8). Immediately I made the assumption that because of his nervousness it raised a flag saying that Richard Cory has some serious mental problems. The climax of the poem reeks of today’s top celebrities (Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, James Brown, Elvis etc) because each of them became so famous that they couldn’t handle themselves any more and ultimately destroyed their own body through drug usage and other unknown substances.  Richard is only one of many who have struggled in the celebrity spotlight, and it is very ironic that these kinds of tragedies occur even to the present day. The poem raises awareness to becoming famous and dealing with fame’s ramifications, it is important to give people space when they need it and teaches how one should not automatically assume that a certain rich and famous celebrities are living the life of their dreams.

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“Fire and Ice” By Robert Frost

Frost uses both fire and ice as options to destroy the world and compares the two closely; favoring fire. Fire and Ice can do massive damage to any civilization, however, they also represent different mannerisms and goals.  Fire is associated with the devil because fire fuels hell and spreads onto anything it attach itself to, fire is a parasite always needing more to feed off of.  Frost uses the lines “From what I’ve tasted of desire / I hold with those who favor fire” (lines 3-4) to ultimately make a point that fire can be most like “desire.” It has a burning passion for everything and anything that may cross its path.  Additionally, ice goes hand and hand with “hatred,” Frost says, “But if it had to perish twice / I think I know enough of hate / To say that for destruction ice / Is also great /And would also suffice” (lines 5-9). When Frost says “perish twice” it means that ice has the effects of consuming an object and completely freeze it and also petrify it at the same time; thus making the double death twice more painful and destructive. When Frost uses words such as “also” and “suffice” which leads the reader to believe that Frost is stating that the ice is also something that can suffice as a destructive force in the world however fire is the first. Further evidence lies on the emphasis on fire versus the emphasis on ice. The poem states, “Some say the world will end in fire / Some in ice” (lines 1-2), using more words for fire than ice and also putting fire before ice. Additionally, Frost

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Symbolism in “Ulysses”

Everybody knows the story of “Ulysses,” his story focuses around Ulysses getting back home through conquering the countless obstacles the Greek gods put in before him in order to prevent Ulysses from getting home. Through the assistance of Athena, Ulysses is able to safely return to Ithaca and his family alone. Over the course of the story, Ulysses becomes full of himself and hubristic when he blinded Poseidon’s son and after doing so boldly stated that he is the great Ulysses. In that way he symbolizes a path that is affected solely on decisions and outcomes, it only goes to prove how troubled and how much Ulysses struggles throughout his journey. Ulysses says in the poem that “I cannot rest from travel; I will drink / Life to the lees” (lines 6-7), clearly he cannot get enough of his journey and will even persevere through any compromises in order to receive the fullness of what life has to offer. When he states “Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough / Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades / For ever and for ever when I move” (lines 19-21) he basically tells us that he is never ending traveler and every time he gets closer to the answer there will always be more to discover. Ulysses symbolizes courage in that he makes it home alive and in one piece, he symbolizes wisdom in making decisions that would ultimately guide him back home; for example he wisely escapes the grasp of Calypso who wanted to have him as her lover forever, he represents love in that his ultimate goal is to get back to Telemachus and his his dear wife for Ithaca. Ulysses represents and exudes many other heroic characteristics which makes his name have so much meaning and many different types of symbolisms.

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The Symbolism in “After Apple Picking” By Robert Frost

“After Apple Picking” by Robert Frost is told through the perspective of a person who clearly enjoys picking apples during the end of the autumn season. The apples used in this poem point to the last harvest of the autumn season, in lines 40-1 the woodchuck has has hibernated for the winter;  meaning that there will be no more apples growing for harvest. Apples act as a symbol for Spring’s last fruits in the sense that it gives everybody from humans to the woodchuck something to sleep on or with, and the great thing is that they are “For all” (line 32) to enjoy before the grass becomes “hoary” (line 12) and disappears into the winter snow.  In regard to sleep, specifically “winter sleep” (line 7), it is described as something that is refreshing and long-lasting after a hard day’s work, or spring and summer’s work in the case of the woodchuck. Sleep is used to symbolize the hibernation of animals for the winter, and in the human’s case their sleep symbolizes the lack of apples/crops to harvest for the summer.  In reality, Winter is a rest for anyone who works closely with Mother Nature’s abundant natural fruits and forces production of energy and business to come to almost a complete halt, which ultimately produces a time of comfort for animals, and panic for humans.

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Response to “Harlem” “Digging” and “The Writer”

“Harlem,” written by Langston Hughes uses the similes “Does it dry up/like a raisin in the sun?/Or fester like a sore–…” (lines 2-4 etc) to inquire about where do those dreams go. He uses like to ask what a dying dream is and what does it become.  As he approaches the last line he uses similes to take that rotten dream and turn it into a success. Ultimately, he expresses how much time it takes to cultivate a dream and when it dies it can always be reborn ( “Or crust and sugar over–/like a syrupy sweet” (lines 7-8). At the end he asks if the dream “explodes” (line 11). The dream cannot literally explode, normally we associate an explosion with something blowing up or being subjected to some sort of destruction. However this is most likely not the case, the explosion Hughes most-likely is talking about is this dream igniting the minds of others and spreading for the greater good.

In “Digging”by Seamus Heaney the concentration is on the Observer’s pen. Metaphorically, the pen stands for two things; a “gun” (line 2) and a shovel (line 30). The gun represents the Observer taking down information on his father and grandfather outside working, their work inspires and triggers ideas from this Observer (son/daughter). You cannot literally use a pen as a gun to shoot ideas onto paper which makes this a really hard metaphor to grasp at first. Additionally, the pen becomes a shovel which can mean the observer is digging up his family roots by writing with his pen or digging his own way to success and benefits.  The pen acts as a metaphor but also a symbol for learning, discovering, and recording information about the family’s past and future.

“The Writer” by Richard Wilbur  uses a boat metaphor which connotes the journey this father’s daughter takes to get to success. These words include “prow,” “chain,” “gunwale,” “cargo,” and “passage” (found within the first three stanzas).   The “prow” can represent looking ahead or what is in front of you and not what is behind you. The “chain” most-likely refers to an anchor which a ship uses to stabilize itself within the rough current, this represents having a strong foundation to stand on when times are rough.  The “gunwale” represents boundaries, boundaries are what keep you in check and on the journey to success. if you decide to jump off the ship, your chances of getting through the journey will be that much tougher. The “cargo” carried from point A to B represents the burdens and the responsibilities you have, keep your cargo on board because if you lose some of it you ultimately lose some of yourself. Finally, the “passage” is the literal road it takes to get there, if you wish someone safe passage like this father is wishing on his daughter, then that means you are letting them explore the currents all by themselves and entrusting them to succeed. The last main symbol in this poem is the “starling” (line 16). Apparently, two years ago, a starling was trapped in the daughter’s room and it tried so hard to escape till it beat itself up, however in the end the starling found a way and flew through the window with ease. The father wishes that the daughter, no matter how much she gets beat up by obstacles and whatnot will always prevail and fly out the window to freedom.

In all three poems the use of metaphors, similes, and symbols are prevalent, and it is amazing how much meaning we can get out of these basic-sounding concepts within writing. It is what makes poetry, poetry, you get the most “bang for your buck” in every single sentence which further evokes meaning from the bigger picture and the overall concept. It is what makes poetry special.

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Response to “The Writer”

“The Writer” by Richard Wilbur addresses the struggles of youth and a father’s hope for his daughter to grow into a young lady. Wilbur uses parts of a ship such as the “prow,” “chain,” “gunwale,” “cargo,” and “passage”  to metaphorically depict the journey of her life; the “cargo” that she holds, her “chain” or most likely anchor that she has to pull up, the “gunwales” that keep her trapped in her journey (or in the poem’s case her room stated in line 17). The first half of the poem talks mainly about the father listening to his daughter working hard in her room, when he takes a “pause in the stairwell” (line 4), the father is demonstrating and describing his yearning for his daughter to succeed through life’s struggles and challenges. When she pauses and the house is silent, it thinks with her, which adds a dynamic of her being one with the house in an odd sort of way, she is the main focus of the house’s energy like the father is. The second half of the poem speaks about a “starling” (line 16), the use of this word forces most people into the cliché thinking that this bird symbolizes a person, in this case the daughter, taking flight; this thinking is correct in the sense that the bird is experiencing the struggle of being trapped inside this house and wants very much so to fly and be free just like the daughter. The father compares her to this bird trying to fly and ultimately become free once again, for if the bird doesn’t fly, then it will not make it in life just like how the daughter needs to spread her wings and fly. That is why the father pauses to “wish her a lucky passage” (line 9) through life’s struggles, and by the end of the poem, the father wishes ten times more that the daughter will pick up her things and fly right out that window just like the successful starling.

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“Digging” By Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heany does an excellent job in “Digging” to address the concept of family, roots, and the decisions we make in life. In this poem we focus on three main characters; a father, a grandfather, and possibly a daughter or a son. The observer (son/daughter) looks out their window with pen in hand and remembers father and grandfather out there working hard planting potatoes. The observer recalls everything from helping dad dig for potatoes outside with spades to the frigid scent of potato mold (lines 13 and 25). Ultimately, the observer comes to the conclusion that he does not want to follow in his father and grandfather’s footsteps of digging potatoes (line 28), and that his talents truly lie in writing. The first and last stanzas both refer to a pen that is being held firmly in the observers hand, both of their endings different. At the end of the first stanza that pen is “snug as a gun” (line 2) in the observer’s hand. When I think of the term “gun” the first thing I think about is pulling the trigger. Because this pen is mentioned twice in this poem (lines 2 and 30), there is reason to believe that this person is a writer. The supposed “gun” in line two acts as a symbol for how a thought or a piece of history triggers an idea therefore, in this sentence, the pen acts as a tool used for writing down information triggered by an idea or passion. In the last line of the poem, the pen is symbolized as a tool used for digging. In this context, the pen is acts as a tool which is used to record and dig up a family’s roots and history, and this writer who ends the tradition of planting potatoes in this bog records information about his relatives so that his kids can know all about what they did. All in all, the pen is used to keep family information alive because the observer is not interested in following his father’s footsteps but his willingness to record history keeps the stories of his family alive.

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Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 138”

Shakespeare’s Sonnet speaks about two lovers cheating on each other through the perspective of this woman’s partner. The woman thinks of her partner as childish and not very intelligent. She believes that her secret is safe with her that she has not been faithful, but the lover clearly is on to her case and wonders why she won’t admit it. Additionally, he wonders why she will not tell him that he is growing older and love is not what it used to be. Throughout the sonnet, Shakespeare utilizes a lot of double words such as lie/lies, vainly, simply, and habit. In lines 2, 13, and 14 lie/lies are used. For the first line lies really does not have a double meaning, it is pretty straightforward that the usage here means that this persons lover isn’t telling him the truth about her being faithful to him. In line 13, lie can mean either them laying together or them lying to each other about being faithful and being young respectively. In this section we can see that clearly both of these lovers are struggling to maintain any kind of relationship, and love is slowly slipping away from the both of them. In line 14, it tells us that their mistruths are used to hide the faults of them both. Furthermore, vainly can mean either a person with a high view of themselves or actions producing no results.  The connotation of vainly reveals that the woman’s partner brainlessly thinks that he is young. Simply is another word that has multiple meanings in line 7, it can either mean something that is straightforward and in a plain manner, or is can mean mere and just. Used this way the line can either mean that the woman’s partner it direct when he “credits” her lies or just kind merely credits them like they are not all that important. Finally, habit in line 11 can either mean that something is hard to give up or a garment worn by religious people, or a person’s bodily constitution. The way Shakespeare uses it seems to point to all three. It can mean that love is a tendency that is rooted in trust, or it can mean love is given the personification of someone who holds love like his or her religion, or it could possibly mean that love can only digest trust and has a strict constitution. Sonnet 138 is just another prime example of the creativity of words Shakespeare utilizes within his famous works.

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Imagery Within “Meeting at night” By Robert Browning

Robert Browning depicts two lovers who have a special secret meeting at night. One lover is traveling the beach’s water and sand and the travels three fields to ultimately come in contact. The imagery is truly phenomenal because it really grasps that feeling of walking towards a loved one’s home. Beginning at “long black land” (line 1), all of which are stressed, really forces you to feel the anticipation the lover has inside with an eight syllable line. The next couple of lines which talk about the “yellow half moon large and low” (line 2) with the “startled little waves that leap” (line 3) both start with “And the.” These words are both unstressed thus giving the poem a little bit of a faster pace just like the heart of the lover. When Browning moves to how “i’ the slushy sand” “quench its speed” (line 6), he is mainly talking about how the sand slows down the lovers movements. If you have ever encountered slushy sand, I would imagine that you can’t move as fast as you want to, which again addresses this “long” period of time. He is very specific with the time it takes to get from point A to point B. He puts a stress on the “mile of warm sea-scented beach” (line 7) and “Three fields to cross till a farm appears” (line 8).  When the person finally reaches the window of the farmhouse, their “quick sharp scratch,” all stressed, evokes the “blue spurt of a lighted match” (lines 9-10).  Here it really makes you listen and feel excited that something between two people is happening without anyone else knowing. The response of the lover inside is both “joy[ful] and fear[ful]” (line 11) of the lovers presence because someone might find out about their meeting at night when clearly no one is out. That intimacy felt between them brings out the same feeling however you can tell that ultimately this is what they both wanted and what they both miss so much. In this poem there are two 10 syllable lines, “Then a mile of warm sea-scented beach” (line 7) and the other line which states “And a voice less loud through its joys and fears” (line 11). Line 7 is prolonged because Browning continues to implement that feeling of “I can’t wait to see my love and now I have to walk a mile along the beach!” The mood, as I said earlier, really is anticipation for the meeting that will happen after these obstacles are conquered.  Line 11 is that moment where the anticipated response comes through and the spark between them is ignited making them both nervous and happy at the same time. The craftsmanship of this poem really takes a simple scenario of two lovers meeting at night and expands it to where it seems the two lovers never meet, which reveals the beauty and the power of love.

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