Monday, April 30, 2012
Like a traditional fairy tale, Pan's Labyrinth oversimplified right and wrong. In order to make the fascist Franco regime look bad, the captain not only is a brutal murderer, but an unkind husband and stepfather. By making him "evil" in all aspects of his life, the director was able to push viewers into seeing the captain as a classic fairy tale villain. Similarly, the guerillas were portrayed as very good people. The references to the "left" were not lost on Dr. Deveny, who pointed to Ophelia's birthmark, the door that she opened to find the key, and the hand she held out to the captain as examples of Ophelia's, and therefore the viewer's intended leftist opinion.
Dr. Deveny's lecture, unlike other guest speakers, focused entirely on this one story. That allowed us to look deeper than we otherwise could have. For instance we were able to identify almost all of Vladimir Propp's functions in Pan's Labyrinth. Because it was so much longer than other fairy tales, Pan's Labyrinth was able to have a much bigger story arc, including an embedded story, than a traditional fairy tale.
We also talked about how the female protagonist broke from the typical fairy tale. Although women are often the title characters in fairy tales (Cinderella, Snow White, Goldilocks, Beauty and the Beast, etc), they are almost always passive. Take Cinderella: she goes back home and waits around for the Prince to come find her. Or Snow White: she falls into a coma! It is entirely up to the Prince to come save her. In Pan's Labyrinth, by contrast, it is Ophelia who takes action. She enters the labyrinth, she follows the fairies, and she even goes back to the faun and begs for another chance when he dismisses her as a failure.
There were some elements that Dr. Deveny did not talk about - namely the purpose of the faun and his tasks for Ophelia. While one may take them at face value, a more intellectual approach would suggest that Ophelia makes up these stories to help her cope with the tumultuous events all around her. Between moving, getting a new father, losing attention from a pregnant mother, and hearing about the fighting, Ophelia is overwhelmed and reverts to what she knows best: fairy tales. We know that she loved to read them as a child, so it is logical to assume that she made up her own to distract herself and to indirectly confront her new fears. The discovery of the faun in the labyrinth reflects her curiosity and need to explore her new world. The trip to find the frog in the forest reflects her fear of the forest which, she has been told, is full of dangerous people and things. The pale man story can be used as an explanation for why the house makes noise that is easier for Ophelia to understand than the story her mother told. And ultimately stealing her brother is her way of rebelling against her stepfather and protesting his authority.
Pan's Labyrinth is full of symbolism, motifs, and metaphors that teach lessons about life and emotions. However, I would not recommend it to a friend - despite its many clever symbols, Pan's Labyrinth simply failed to amuse me very much.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Monday, April 2, 2012
I also recommend that everyone who is in the least bit interested in fairy tales read Sammi's blog. Sammi is an Honors student and a fellow tutor at the writing center, not to mention a heck of a lot more creative than I am. Her blog is written as if Sammi's life is a fairy tale, and her mission or quest is to follow the instructions of "King Esa." It is truly funny to see how she takes what are typical daily assignments and transforms them with her language into heroic quests.
For a drier, more academic approach, check out my ex-roommate Joel's blog. He follows prompts strictly, answering exactly what is asked in a most direct and efficient way. From an economic point of view, Joel certainly makes the most out of both his time and his words.
If you'd prefer to feel good all the time and smile while being completely unnoticed, check out my favorite softball pitcher Becky's blog. She is insightful and puts more effort into her posts than I ever will. For a more comprehensive review of her blog, check out my earlier post Peer Review.
And of course, if you are obsessed with bees, head on over to Cassie's blog, because she never stops talking about the little flying critters. As one of the more well-read and intelligent students I know, Cassie never ceases to amaze me with her theories and theses which I would never think of in a million years, but which seem to come naturally to her. Cassie's blog is an excellent blend of creativity and downright smarts. Not only do Cassie's posts sound really smart (words like "necromancer," "cinematographic," and "accentuate" are far from rare), but the posts actually are smart.
For a glimpse into the mind of one of the hardest working students I know, take a peek at Jason's blog. His blog combines some nice "boyish attitude" (i.e. poking fun at Joel) with some writing that is incredibly reminiscent of something I would expect to read on a database like JSTOR. That is, his writing has the voice of a professional, or perhaps more accurately an academic. Jason would never forget to mention an angle or an idea that is related to the topic, and does not hesitate to tackle obstacles head on.
This is just a sample of the wonderful blogs in the class, each uniquely different. Click any of the links on the left sidebar and you won't be disappointed. These blogs are great examples of what McDaniel College is all about - each blog carries a distinct voice, but in unison they are all working together, helping each other forward.
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Sunday, February 5, 2012
1) "[the villain] fell upon [the hero], and ate her all up."
2) "[the hero] was upon them, and the terror of his coming filled the enemy with madness. [The enemy] fell on their faces before him...Like a black smoke driven by a mounting wind, they fled."
Note: I will post in a couple days the credit for these quotes, but for now I would like to see if my readers can identify the famous books first.
Friday, January 27, 2012
This is my favorite fairy tale because it celebrates a childlike innocence, an air not caring what others think. The King, and in turn all of his subjects, believe (or pretend to believe) in the "robes." The King is worried that if he admits he cannot see anything, he will be thought of as unworthy of his crown, while his subjects, all hoping to please him and prove their greatness, claim to see it too. Only a child, who is young enough to not realize the implications of such events, proclaims the obvious: the king is naked. There is a lesson here about group thinking, which, while it may seem impossible, is really not that unheard of (see: Hitler, Kim Jong-il, etc.). When everyone agrees, it can be very dangerous to disagree. But, like any good fairy tale, the astute child is not punished, but lives happily ever after.
Another aspect I like about this story is that the Lake Woebegone effect is present, in a way. By believing that every other person could see the cloak, each individual was falling into the trap that this effect can have. For everyone to be able to see the clothes would be for everyone to be fit for their position (i.e. above average). If the King examined this claim, he would be very happy, because if everyone could actually see these robes, that would mean every single one of his subjects was fit for his position.
Note: Blog posts are due every Sunday night around 9, so check back in each week for something new. Maybe I will put up a schedule sometime. Depends how lazy I am.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Someday, I would like to retire comfortably, while being able to support my children. In order to have enough money to do that, I will need to either a) win the lottery, b) become a lot better at soccer, c) marry rich, or d) get a paying job. Henceforth I will assume that options a) through c) are unattainable, and therefore d) is my best option.
In terms of getting this job, I need to first get hired. While getting hired is a fairly simple process, involving things like applying for jobs, interviewing, speaking English, and not dressing like a homeless man, getting hired for a job that will pay me enough so that I can retire in ease is much more tricky. The majority of these jobs are considered "skilled" jobs, as in "Did you have the skill to sit through four years of classes that didn't interest you very much, without going insane?" That's right, the single most important investment one can make in oneself is to attend college and earn a degree.
(Granted, different degrees often yield very different incomes, as shown here, but overall a college degree boosts one's net worth enormously.)
Based on this premise (and pressure from parents, family, and peers, not to mention an absolute lack of alternate options), I enrolled in college. McDaniel College actually.
Now, one would think, all I have to do is to pass. Do the minimum for four (4) years, and get my diploma. However, more and more people are attending college, rendering degrees less and less useful. One needs ways to distinguish oneself from the pack. I could attend graduate school. I could study a very specific (read boring) subject, like accounting, or organic chemistry. The way I have chosen: the McDaniel College Honors Program.
The Honors Program requires that my GPA stay above a certain level. (3.5, glad you asked.) It requires that I take extra courses, filled with similarly gifted students, which are non-major related. For example, this semester I am taking an Honor's class called:
"Once Upon a Time: Folk and Fairy Tales Around the World."
My professor, Dr. Esa, requires that we all blog. This blog will count for 15% of our final grade. Therefore, I blog, because blogging will help my grade in this one class. Which in turn will help me keep a high GPA, which is one step towards graduating with Honors, and which will give me an edge in any future applications (i.e. getting a job!).
That's right, as long and wordy as this post is, my final point is as follows (see the wordiness?): I participate in the Honors Program now, so that I might make more money in the future. And therein lies the economics. In my mind, giving up some hours of potential fun (leisure) while in college is worth it, given the increase of fun (leisure) and stuff (consumption) that I expect to receive later. Work harder now, get more later. Others might contend that the benefits one gets with an Honors tag is not worth the extra work. And those people did not enroll in Honors.
But why did I choose the Fairy Tale class as my Honor's elective? Why not choose a class that didn't require a blog, and maybe less reading, so that I could save some leisure hours, spend more time playing FIFA and less time on http://www.blogger.com/. Well, I respond, "How was I to know we would be blogging?" When I registered for the class, it looked very interesting to me: a chance to explore stories that I have been told countless times, and that I will likely tell my children one day. I have a chance to find out the origins, the twists and turns, and Walt Disney's manipulations of a myriad of tales.
Therefore, sign me up: Fairy Tales, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:40 to 4:10. Let's go.