English 300 - Fall 2004

This is my class journal for Professor Sexson's Critical Theory class.


Presentation Follow-up

So today JR and I did our presentation; thanks to everyone for being a polite audience. :) I didn't really say all I wanted to say or could have said on EITHER piece (was it that interesting? I almost felt like i was boring you guys) so, for anyone who would care, here are my notes I had for the presentation. Good Job on these, everyone! :)

(Prestuplenie i nakazanie)

as great of a text it is, I can't reproduce it here for obvious reasons. if you have not read Crime and Punishment, I recommend you DO!!! :) It is by Fyodor Mihailovitch Dostoevsky.

* Russian novels of the time tended to be sad and psychological with a cynical, rebellious, morally conflicted or flawed protagonist. See our idol, Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov.

- Nietzsche says that energy is the most important thing in a piece. Energy comes from emotion, whereof suffering is the highest. This book is ALL ABOUT suffering, let me tell you.
- Bhabha, I recall, talked a lot about the conflict between people who have and those who have not. This is what starts the novel; Raskolnikov, a poor student, kills a rich old pawnbroker.
- Poe said that good works have to be short; sorry Poe: I disagree. Though I do love your poetry :)
- Fishyfoo talked about reader response. I think that will be a big part of what you get from Crime and Punishment.

* Axe: often associated with the Russian peasantry, and the murder weapon. Symbol of peasant unrest, class conflicts.
* Sonia reads to Rodya the story of Lazarus, a man who was raised from the dead. Raskolnikov spends most of the novel dying, then in the end is saved (by Sonia) and resurrected, ironically enough, in prison--with the hope of new life and salvation. Sonia brings him a Bible in prison, and she influences him to recognize God instead of always denying Him.
* Yellow: colour of rot, decay, melancholy appears often in the text. Rodya is surrounded by rot/corruption: of spirit, sanity, morality, and his country.
* Air: associated with the spirit. Often stale or "bad" air is mentioned and Raskolnikov is always wanting fresh air, just as his spirit needs to be "freshened."

* Raskolnikov (Raskolnik in Russian = "schism")
* Dmitri Prokofitch Razumikin (Razum = "reason, intelligence")

* Of Crime: Physical/Legal = Murder
Mental/Ideological = Proletariot winning over bourgeousie
Spiritual = Rodion has in a sense killed himself.

* Of Punishment: Physical = Raskolnikov's persistant illness
Mental/Emotional = Torment and anguish
Spiritual = Guilt, separation from God

* Faith vs. Doubt: Rodion asks his mother and Polenka to pray for him, but has no faith in God himself. Sometimes he doubts God's existence. Why does God allow suffering and yet he is the only one who can save you from it?

* Guilt vs. Innocence: Sometimes he feels guilty about and even regrets his crime; other times he says there WAS no crime!

* Indecision: To Kill or Not To Kill? Where to go now? To confess or not? Indecision is constantly plaguing Raskolnikov.

*Life vs. Death: Being condemned to one square meter of darkness with no room to move would be better than death--but later Rodion renounces this belief. He says it's better for Katerina Ivanovna to die, even though she is a single parent of many poor children. He finds prisoners value life more than free people. WHAT IS THE VALUE OF LIFE???


*First thing Sonia says when Rodya hints that he is a murderer: "What have you done to yourself?" -- It is himself he has destroyed even more than the old woman, because he has only destroyed her physically--on the lowest level of existence.

* The Extraordinary Man Speech
(compare with Nietzsche's theory of the Uebermann...)
Longinus might value the "idea" of this speech.
Extraordinary man can overstep moral boundaries and the law should not apply to him because his actions are for a greater cause that normal people cannot understand.

Prestuplenie (Russian word for crime) when directly translated, means "to step over."


-Michael Drayton-

Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part.
Nay, I have done: you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free,
Shake hands forever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again,
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath,
When his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
Now if thou would'st, when all have given him over,
From death to life, thou might'st him yet recover.

* Woolf said that the gender is irrelevant: I believe either man or woman can relate to this poem in the same way.

* Love: comes from the heart, now failing
* Passion: energy, overflow of emotion and words, now silent
* Faith: kneeling at deathbed, about to die
* Innocence: wide-eyed but seeing no evil, now closing his eyes for he has seen evil and is no longer innocent.


-parting from a lover is full of conflict, and so is the poem and narrator:

* One last kiss: the difficulty of cutting off the relationship physically
* Begins by saying "Since there's no help"--knows logically that the situation is hopeless, but the mind and the heart are at battle.

* "Nay, I have done" -- an argument to the lover asking him to stay
* "You get no more of me" -- almost as if he feels he has been used or wasted

* Says he is glad, is telling himself he is glad, likely an attempt to convince himself.
* Will show no trace of their former love: it may not be SEEN but it is still there. Conflict between the surface level and truth.

* At the end, sounds like second thoughts: "If thou would'st...though might'st him yet recover"
* Hope, uncertainty...it is out of his hands and in his lover's.

* The last two lines being indented seems to emphasize the bit of hope/uncertainty retained: as these lines are pushed inward, so are these thoughts of seccond chances.

* Tries to distance self, makes the relationship sound like a voided business deal: "shake hands forever, cancel all our vows"

* Brings up seeing each other again: inner vs. outer world conflict: other people may not know when he pushes the feelings inside himself, but does he make these feelings not EXIST by doing this?

the end of love is like the end of life...

- All vows are cancelled, everything done on earth is meaningless
- No love (or LIFE) remaining in his face.
- "Cleanly free" from the body and earth.
- Hope that he might be brought back once faith, passion, and innocence are gone. These are characteristics of life...once life is gone, there is hope for an afterlife?


So there are my notes; let me know if you have questions/comments. I gotta get started on my paper now!!!


Blogger Nikole Didier said...


To be honest, I liked you and JR's presentation the best! You really honed in on the application of Lit Crit and Reader Response. Well Done! Also, on a slightly different note, the poetry you submitted to the Opsis was beautiful! Keep up the great writing.


3 December 2004 at 17:13  
Blogger jaimie hensley said...

Thank you very much! I was kind of worried because everyone else was doing these funny, acted-out presentations and we weren't really following the norm. Glad to hear you liked it though!

As for the poetry, thank you again. I'm always kind of scared to submit stuff, because a lot of it has such a personal energy behind it, but sometimes it is worth the risk! Thank you very much :)

7 December 2004 at 13:38  

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