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Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” as an Anti-Transcendental Poem

In My Research Papers & Essays on June 9, 2011 at 6:46 pm

The Law of Newton’s Action-Reaction“…The direction of the force on the first object is opposite to the direction of the force on the second object…”applied on physics. Yet, this law is partially applicable to some literary movements too. For each movement emerges as an action there is the reverse reaction towards. Transcendentalism as an Action is a famous American movement or a philosophy based on the ultimate reality of God, the Universe, and the Self. It is idealistic and optimistic because it could find the answer to any existential question through intuition and observation of the natural world (Harmon & Holman 527). However, its Reaction formed the Anti-Transcendentalism, or ‘Dark Romanticism’ which is based on the total diverged from the first, mainly about the destructiveness of the human race. For the reason that Anti-Transcendentalism revolves on pessimistic beliefs and believed that Transcendentalism was naïve, selfish, and unrealistic. It viewed nature as vast and incomprehensible, a reflection of the struggle between good and evil (Harmon & Holman 458). Therefore, this paper seeks to present a concise attempt to analyze the elemental aspects of Anti-Transcendentalism applied on the poem of Edgar Allen Poe “The Raven”.

The perspective of Anti-Transcendentalists towards the world is viewed as evil as an entity, and the sin as an active force within. They believed in a higher authority, and humans could not understand the nature of which in a complete individualism. Hitherto this proposition by them would lead to selfishness and man’s fall into wickedness. Moreover, and on the artistic level, their works reflect these beliefs and often include either an allegory of the fall of man or supernatural intervention and man’s depravity. Accordingly, Edgar Allan Poe considered by many critics as one famous Anti-Transcendentalist for his prevalence of human depravity through all his works (RTA). However, the works of him are noticeably coherent with his personal aesthetic beliefs and judgments. The thematic tales of Poe are commonly connected with fear and terror where they present the elemental aspects and emergence of ‘American Gothicism’. Furthermore, James Lowell stated to support:

Mr. Poe as a great master of imagination has seldom restored to the vague and the unreal as sources of effect. He has not used dread and horror alone, but only in combination with other qualities, as means of subjugating the fancies of his readers.  (qtd. Rasmus 23-24)

Although Poe did not publically mention Ralph Waldo Emerson, the founder of Transcendentalism, but he relentlessly attacked his ideas and American Transcendentalism in general. In short, Edgar Allen Poe meant to jeopardize the ideal of nature all through the nineteenth century (“The Domain of Artifice” 1) and in the United States in particular. Besides, they were constructed on a base of deep rejection to his transcendentalist’s contemporaries on their ethical and aesthetic myths (RTA).

“The Raven” is Edgar Allen Poe’s most popular poem and it was first published in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845. Yet again, “The Raven” as an anti-transcendental work is as well a renowned category of finest example of Gothic poetry! Poe meant not to have a meditation on death nor a philosophical examination of how death affects our lives after the loss of our beloved in this world, but he made Death as a crucial part of its existence (Campbell & Ford 19). In “The Philosophy of Composition” Poe’s own essay about “The Raven” describes it as one that reveals the human weakness for “self-torture” as evidenced by the speaker’s tendency to weigh up himself through grief (qtd. Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine). For Poe in order to establish the proper extreme of grief in the poem’s speaker, he needs to be absolutely drained of any tiny hope of seeing her again, ‘Lenore’. Wherever, only death could provide such an absolute!

“The Raven” is opening with an exhaled of ‘Ah’ and agitated emotions of the narrator on a cruel day of December, with the bitter coldness, and lifeless isolated house, where the atmosphere is so dark death-like and so horrifying. Poe starts:

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.  (7-11)

It is assumed that the narrator to be a scholar, who might be Edgar Allen Poe himself. The narrator is sitting alone at this night lamenting and trying to read volumes alone forgetting the death of love the gloominess of love the struggle between remembrance of love and forgetting. Here, he is trying to forget to deny living, as nothing happened to overwhelm oneself with books and reading to pass the time to take the mind of problems. As the Poetic tale continues the landscape quickly broadens with fear and uncertainty in where the poet in the prison catastrophic richly furniture room heard a gentle tapping on his chamber door. Filled with excitement and fear, the poet decided to open the door as the essayist Dana Gioia assumed:

He thinks at first it is a late night visitor, but opening the door, he finds only “Darkness there, and nothing more.” (This initial glimpse into black nothingness will prove prophetic of his ultimate fate.) Half afraid, half wishful, the speaker whispers the name of his dead lover. Irrationally he hopes the visitor is her ghost. There comes no reply, however, except the echo of his voice. Soon the tapping resumes-now at his window, Opening the shutter, he finds a Raven.  (33)

The next stanza hold up more anti-transcendental portions shown clearly on the Gothic atmosphere, and once the narrator began to have a hysteric thought about his love; he is so moved by remembering her, his Lenore! Poe wrote:

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.   (25-31)

He whispered her name he is wishing that the late mid-night visitor will be his Lenore. He fears he wonders and he still loves. He is living in hopes and dreams of everlasting love. The Raven the omen of bad things or the angel from heaven might be seeking shelter from the coldness of winter into the room with the dead amber. Yet, the Raven might represent nothing maybe it is all inside the mind of the narrator the images he seeks or desire the most. But B. J. Bolden in his essay of “Poetry for Students” said:

Though logic tells the young man that the raven’s “Nevermore” is merely a rote response, he is beyond reason. Having experienced a turbulent shift in his emotions, from dreamy melancholy to irrational hope, by the second half of the poem, the young man is precariously perched on the brink of insanity. As though the raven can divine the source of the young man’s grief over the lost Lenore and the desperate hope that he will once again “clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-,” the raven continues to utter only the solitary word “Nevermore.” The young man’s spirit sags over the finality of Lenore’s death, yet he proceeds to indulge in sweet torture by his rhetorical interrogation of the stoic raven, as if his desperate questioning keeps her precious memories alive.  (qtd. Gale 28-29)

The narrator now is in a situation that can’t be described he is in a state of hysteric to madness. He first thought the bird as a messenger from heaven as a ghost of his passed lover as a joyous memory later in the second half of the poems his mind swung completely as he now think of the eternal vision of nothingness or as bad omen. Once again on what Dana Gioia supposed:

A devil sent to claim the speaker for the underworld. The speaker’s dawning awareness of his hellish doom is reflected in the poem’s changing refrain, which begins as “nothing more” and “Evermore,” but darkens once the bird speaks his prophetic “Nevermore” By the poem’s last line, the narrator has accepted the bird’s dire prophecy. Echoing his shadowy tormentor, he declares his soul “Shall be lifted-nevermore.”   (34)

As the narrator now in a agitation and because he needs to cling to the memories of his lost Lenore, the young man experiences inner turmoil as he tries to face the thought of life without her. Finally, he chooses the torture of past memories over the pain of present emptiness. As a plot device, this works fine, because the reader is assured that there is no way they could ever be reunited. The poem’s weakness, though, is that the bald fact of death is not used to generate any new understanding. Grief is an honest, basic response to death, but Poe does not take it anywhere. The speaker does not think about his own death or life, nor about what his time with Lenore was like or whether her life was full and significant in the short time she did have: he just grieves and grieves and grieves. The reader would be right to question whether this is a realistic response to death, and whether in real life people do respond to death with such perpetual and chronic sorrow. It is a characteristic of Romanticism, the literary movement that Poe is associated with, to stretch a human emotion beyond the shape that we are familiar with in real life: beauties are stunning and unforgettable beauties, suffering is agony, and grief is uncontrollable. Death is one of the few things that cannot be fixed or reversed, and the enormity of it is therefore entirely appropriate for the exaggerated emotions in Poe’s work (BR).

Thus, we can understand that he has quite lot of deep meaning behind the surface of horror poem alone. So, What is the main idea behind the text? What is the major aspect? What does Poe want to tell us? Are the images the main source behind the text? Or is it the persona? Is it the atmosphere? Or they are all combined together to show us the hidden meaning between Poe compositions. Poe with his creative imagination spellbound readers and he as well confuse scholars and critics for they can not decide of what is the real meaning behind it or who is the persona who represents Poe, maybe none or both N.P Williams in the death of Edgar A. Poe said: ” The Raven was probably much more nearly than has been supposed, even by those who were very intimate with him, a reflection and an echo of his own history.

He was the bird’s

Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore

Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

Of ‘Never-nevermore.'”

A harsh master treated the bird just like his harsh experiences deprived Poe of all faith in man or woman. It might suggest that he was a hard worker and not being appreciated by society and getting low wages and money for his great works. On the other hand some critic like Dave Smith said that:

Poe is the narrator himself the lonely gloomy figure who permits the witness to Some close to his creature and yet keep safe, a glimpsed but not engaged threat. Still, having summoned the raven, Poe cannot so easily deny or repress it: he tells us the bird sits in the forever of that last stanza, a curse neither expiated nor escaped. Poe loved women who died, often violently, diseased. His mother went first; he was two and an orphan. He was taken in and raised as ward of John Allan and his wife Frances, a sickly woman who would die on him, but first there would be Jane Standard, on whom he had a fourteen-year-old’s crush. She was thirty-one when she died insane. Poe suffered the death of three women before he finished being a moody teenaged boy.  (40)

To sum up, Edgar Allan Poe is one of the major influences of Dark Romanticism. As an anti-transcendentalist he not only addressed the central question of nineteenth-century romantic symbolism, or that of reality over illusion or the power of the imagination (Gale 31). Indeed, Poe in his narrative “The Raven” transported Romantic symbolism to new heights, and envisioned the Dark side of Nature as pessimistic, evil and dark mystery if not centers on the Death as a main premise.

Works Cited

Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2008.

B. J. Bolden, in an essay for Poetry for Students, Gale, 1997.

Campbell, Killis, The Mind of Poe and Other Studies, New York: Russell and Russell, 1962.

Dana Gioia, in an essay for Poetry for Students, Gale, 1997.

Dave Smith, “Edgar Allan Poe and the Nightmare Ode,” in Southern Humanities Review, Vol. 29, No. I, Winter, 1995, pp. 4-10.

Harmon, William, C. Hugh Holman, and William Flint Thrall. A Handbook to Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000.

Hastrup, Rasmus. A Crack in the Mirror. Echoes, Reflections, Doubles and Confined Space in the Life and Work of Edgar Allan Poe. København, 2001.

Poe, Edgar Allan, ‘The Philosophy of Composition,” in Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine, Vol. XXVII, April, 1846, reprinted in Literary Criticism of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Robert L. Hough, University of Nebraska Press, 1965, pp. 20-32.



A Marxist Analysis on Class Conflict in the Novel of Sir William Golding’s Lord of the Flies

In My Research Papers & Essays on June 9, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Mahatma Gandhi once declared that; “Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood” (Non-violence in Peace and War, 1948). Thus far, Sir William Golding’s Lord of the Flies overarches a premise that humanity is pessimistic and corrupted and brutally chaotic instincts throughput a characters of children. In order to have a better understanding, this novel is first Published in 1954 shortly after the WWII and its firmly rooted in the sociopolitical concerns of its era. It advertingly narrates London Blitz (1940-1941) where children were evacuated from the metropolitan area: some were sent to Scotland, some to Canada and Australia (teachrobb.com) and to provide an authentic environment to the text. Thus, this paper seeks to point out the Ideology of Golding in Lord of the Flies through a Marxist reading over the Class Conflict.

The Ideology of Sir Golding alludes to the Cold War conflict in between the Liberal Democracy in his presentation of “Ralph’s” whereas “Jack Merridew” is the totalitarian communism (teachrobb.com). Since “Marxists do not see any literary works as an aesthetic objects but a product of the socioeconomic aspects.” (Dobie 94) appropriately, the novel of Lord of the Flies substantiates a Marxist principle elucidated by the Class Conflict throughput the boys’ attempts of civilization and devolution. Despite the boys mimicry of the social organization that they think would reflect the adult world realistically (“Article Myriad”) it turned into savagery and bloody violence.

Terry Eagelton had stated that; “Marxism is as inseparable from modern civilization… as much part of our “historical unconscious”…” (Bressler 161).  Therefore, Lord of the Flies as work of fiction is an applicable text accepts the elemental perspective of Marxism. The story revolves on a conflict between groups of English boys who trapped on a deserted island with no grownups survivors. The philosophy of Sir Golding and the “historical unconscious” of the Cold War materialized allegorically. Additionally, to know that Sir Golding as a British naval commander in WWII and to know some of the facts of the British involvement in the war helps in understanding a relation to the premise of the text (“Article Myriad”). Thus again, the Children Conflicts presented all through the struggle among the characters to develop their sociopolitical system until they get rescued! Yet, Karl Marx proclaimed about the social constructions that:

“It is not our philosophical or religious beliefs that make us who we are, for we are not spiritual beings but socially constructed ones. We are not products of divine design but creation of our own cultural and social circumstances.”   (Dobie 92).

Then subsequently the struggle of the groups turned to be a completed dystopian[1] society and the children alone are the champions.

By scrutinizing the major three childish characters in the Lord of the Flies, Sir Golding uses “Ralph” and “Piggy” together and “Jack Merridew” along with “Roger” as major characters to portray his theory that; when Man is left in certain situations to survive and fend for themselves, they will ultimately resort to cruelty and evilness (“Article Myriad”).  For “Ralph”, he is the embodiment of Democracy and the protagonist of the story. He is one of the oldest boys on the island and quickly the leader and a Crouch-holder. This young boy is around the twelve years old, well built and in the novel you would get the impression he might grow into a boxer one day yet never to a ‘Devil’! (qtd. Golding viii). “Ralph” embodies democracy by the qualities of being fair, sunny, decent with the other boys, sensible and considerate as well as the quality of leadership stated in the novel as; “There’s another thing. We can help them to find us. If a ship comes near the island they may not notice us. So we must make smoke on top of the mountains. We must make a fire.” (46; ch.2) and through this; “‘I’m chief. We’ve got to make certain [that there is no beast] There’s no signal showing [on the mountain]. There may be a ship out there.'” (98; ch.6). However he does not understand the world around a lot – and that’s why he needs the help of “Piggy”, still as a Democrat he has two things in his mind very clearly fixed: (1) they will be rescued yet not when and how. (2) In order to be rescued he sees that they must hang together! These two facts of “Ralph” is stated as; “This is our island. It’s a good island. Until the grown-ups come to fetch us we’ll have fun.” (41; ch.2). Although to “Ralph” calmness and rationality, with sound judgment and a strong moral sensibility he is yet susceptible to the same instinctive influences that affect suicide the other boys. It is demonstrated by his contribution to both Simon’s death and Piggy’s, stated at the end of the novel; “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy.” (248; ch.12) which as well shows the shaking base of the Democratic Party through the Cold War. Nevertheless, “Ralph” remains the most civilized character throughout the novel with his strong commitment to justice and equality as described in the novel; “Ralph launched himself like a cat; stabbed, snarling, with the spear, and the savage doubled up.” (279; ch.12) and when the Officer at the novel closing asked; “ who’s boss here? “I am,” said Ralph loudly.” (283; ch.12).

On the other hand, the character of “Piggy” is a bit multifaceted, for he represents culture within the democratic system embodied by “Ralph”. Although he is described as chubby, awkward, and averse to physical labor for his asthmatic condition, “Piggy” still sensitive, conscientious and the intellectualist of the island (qtd. Golding viii). “Piggy’s” intellectual talent endears him to “Ralph” in particular, who comes to admire and respect him and make him the Brain Trust. “Piggy” is dedicated to the ideal of civilization and consistently reprimands the other boys for behaving as Savages; “We’ve got to have rules and obey them. After all, we’re not savages. We’re English, and the English are best at everything.” (40; ch.2).

Yet, on the contrary, is the character of “Jack Merridew”, the leader of a boys’ choir; “Jack” exemplifies Militarism as it borders on Authoritarianism. He is cruel and sadistic, preoccupied with hunting and killing pigs, stated: Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Bash her in” (75; ch.4). His sadism intensifies throughout the novel, and he eventually turns cruelly on the other boys; “[Jack and the two hunters] weremasked in black and green.” (160; ch.11). He feigns an interest in the rules of order established on the island, but only if they allow him to inflict punishment. For he represents anarchy which proved by the rejection of “Ralph’s” imposed order: “‘Which is better — to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph…” (164; ch.11). But the bloody results of this act indicate the danger inherent in an anarchic system based only on self-interest. “Jack’s” transformation from civilized bully to savage killer has begun. He’s obsessed with hunting at the expense of all else, even rescue; They knew very well why he hadn’t: because of the enormity of the knife descending and cutting into living flesh; because of the unbearable blood.” (31; ch.1) “Jack” fears killing the pig at first, a fear he overcomes as he sheds civilization and adopts the way of the savage, but; “He tried to convey the compulsion to track down and kill that was swallowing him up.” (51; ch.4.). Thus, his hunting mask has obliterated that small semblance of civility, for Jack had: “The mask was a thing of its own, behind which Jack had liberated from shame and self-consciousness (64; ch.4).

However, the Children Conflict at Lord of the Flies holds the reader to a critical purpose towards the childish constructed government that indicates allegorically a relevant of our modern politics. Sir Golding visualizes the naïve; inexperienced boys into a place where there are no adults, no social institutions and no order yet a try to mimic the social organization that they think would reflect the adult world faithfully (“Article Myriad”). The children government is shaped and it is created out of necessity: they identified a leader by election to be “Ralph”; “‘All right. Who wants Jack for chief?’ ‘With a dreary obedience the choir raised their hands.’ ‘Who wants me? [Ralph] ‘Every hand outside the choir except Piggy’s was raised immediately.” (23; ch.1). Selected an item that give their society-building significance illustrated by the ‘Conch-shell’ to be Democracy that brings all the voices together. Established rules to fulfill their basic human needs; making ‘Fire’ in order to get rescued by the smoke, warmth and sheltered. Besides initiating workable relationships with one another stated in the text:

“[The boys] found themselves eager to take a place in this demented but partly secure society. They were glad to touch the brown backs of the fence that hemmed in the terror [of the makeshift beast] and made it governable.   (138; ch.9)

Nevertheless, it starts smoothly at first yet the group moved violently. It emerged first between “Ralph” civilization’s representative and “Jack” the incivility transformer, each by his group. These two groups are fighting each for diverse perceptions of the word ‘Survive’ and ‘Rescue’; the group of “Ralph” focuses on Fire, whereas the group of “Jack” focuses on Meat. At the beginning of the novel, “Ralph” has been elected as a chief, and has the majority of the Conch, an item of power at the novel. Yet, “Ralph” found “Jack” unpleasant by the election result so as a Democrat who seek to please his fellows he gave him the hunters; “‘Jack’s face disappeared under a blush of mortification. He started up, then changed his mind… Ralph looked at him, eager to offer something.’ ‘The choir belongs to you, of course.’ ‘They could be an army or hunters—.’” (23; ch.1).  This was a quietly good idea, thus “Jack” will drive his focus on other than Ralph being the chief. The materialism along with the thirst of power in “Jack’s” character prolongs after “Ralph” and exceeded to thought he was better and the only deserver! Consequently “Jack” wanted something just to show that he still had some type of power, so he started to dominate the Group a bit more than usual (teachrobb.com). Now “Jack” got the Hunters ‘Choir’ and the Meat, he is no longer interested to get rescued, gradually “Ralph’s loss of boys and Meat left his slowly weaker and powerless and “Jack” is capitalizing on the Island, as stated: “‘Which is better — to be a pack of painted Indians like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is….Which is better — to have laws and agree, or to hunt and kill?'” (164; ch.11) in the quote, “Jack” was lecturing the other boys and declaring the uselessness of “Ralph’s” Authority. To sum up the Group Struggle, these boys however young are not innocent. Each of them reflects the influence of Man’s infection of Evilness. They also mirrors the Cold War terror, humanity in the children turned savagely inhuman, two boys got killed and the others went wild and this all explained at the end of the novel by:

“The officer grinned cheerfully at Ralph. ‘We saw your smoke. What have you been doing? Having a war or something?’ Ralph nodded. ‘Nobody killed, I hope? Any dead bodies?’ [Ralph] ‘Only two. And they’ve gone.’ [Officer] ‘Two? Killed?’ Ralph nodded again. Behind him, the whole island was shuddering with flame.’  (282-283; ch.12).

To conclude, Lord of the Flies provided a political theme-tale in a children framed society. Sir Golding alludes to the modern society between the same forces translated through both of “Ralph” and “Jack” (qtd. Epstein 293). So, it is not a book of confrontation but a sample that; “may help few grownups to be less complacent and more compassionate, to support Ralph, respect Piggy, control Jack, and lighten a little the darkness of Man’s Heart.” (qtd, Golding xii). As a permissible perception to the Marxist critic in order to express the personal view of the Ideology, I agree with Sir Golding attempt to trace the defect of society back to the defect of human nature stated in; “‘Maybe there is a beast….maybe it’s only us.'” (80 ;ch.5).

Works Cited

Bressler, Charles E. Literary Criticism: an Introduction to Theory and Practice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003.

Burris, Skylar Hamilton. “What Makes Things Break up like They Do?” Alternative Explanations For the Societal Breakdown in William Golding’s Lord of the Flie (1999). Web. <http://www.rbhs.w-cook.k12.il.us/Mancoff/lofancient.htm&gt;.

Dobie, Ann Brewster. Theory into Practice. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2008.

Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Penguin, 2003.

Harmon, William, C. Hugh Holman, and William Flint Thrall. A Handbook to Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2006.

Lund, Mark. Literary Criticism: A Primer An English Office Publication. Thesis. Baltimore County Public Schools, 1996. Towson, MD. <http://www.teachrobb.com/documents/Criticism.htm&gt;.

Smith, Nicole. “Article Myriad.” The Role of Government in “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding(2010). <http://www.articlemyriad.com/lord_flies_government_society.htm

[1] In another words, the construction of the novel is an exemplar of Dystopia; an imaginary place – the coral island- where life is extremely difficult and a lot of unfair or immoral things happen.

Mustapha Sa’eed Vs. Nameless Narrator; A Study of the Possible “Oneness” in Salih’s Season of Migration to the North

In My Research Papers & Essays on June 9, 2011 at 6:36 pm

Tayeb Salih’s work of genius Season of Migration to the North suggests immediately by its very title that something has gone awry. Nature has been perverted, and ‘migration’ instead of going South has gone North (“An Unholy Migration to the North”). As the title of the novel evokes its invertible nature, thus are the characters of Tayeb Salih who dramatizes the unpredictable. This paper mainly will study out two characters of the novel; the un-named Narrator and Mustapha Sa’eed in order to prove the possibility of them both as being one same person who holds the exact identity. However, by providing evidential similarities from the text, subordinated by Sigmund Freud conceptual usage of the ‘Uncanny’ theory.

While reading the novel of Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North, two psychosomatic characters are diverging in this mystifying narrative: the Narrator, who left at the whole story as Nameless character, and Mustapha Sa’eed as the Protagonist. Both characters are working in parallel different personalities, yet they cross confusingly in some different spots. Thus, the fact that Mustafa’s personal narrative is framed within that of the Nameless Narrator of the novel is very significant to the interpretation to the novel Season of Migration to the North. At first, Mustafa, though a stranger by birth to the village, has already unsettled the narrator and made him, the native whom looks and feels like a stranger among the villagers- people: “It was, gentleman, after a long absence- seven years to be exact, during which me I was studying in Europe- that I returned to my people.” (3) Although the narrator claims very soon that his reconnection with the other villagers “Suddenly I recollected having seen a face I did not know among those who had been there to meet me. I asked about him, described him to them, … ‘that would be Mustapha,’ said my father.” (4) He still has made himself oblivious to Mustafa’s irksome presence. Consequently, the Narrator exclaimed through the lines his presence and Mustapha’s by his internal vision; “I remembered that the day of my arrival he was silent.”(4) Along with the narrative continuation to this: “But Mustapha had said nothing. He had listen in silence, sometimes smiling; a smile in which, I know remember, was mysterious, like someone talking to himself.” (5). Besides, that he was as happy as a child seeing himself in the mirror for the first time “I forgot about Mustapha after that, for I began to renew my relationship with the people, … I was happy during those days, like a child that sees its face in the mirror for the first time.” (5). However, it is valid to argue that his oblivion is a form of wish-fulfillment and that, through the unconscious act of displacement and transference, he transposed the villagers and Mustafa Sa’eed (Al-Halool).

Accordingly, as the personification of a frightening phenomenon of Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North disturbed characterizations; Mustafa Sa’eed at the story represents to the significantly Nameless Narrator in what Sigmund Freud calls the Uncanny (Al-Halool). Salih intended to leave his Narrator as Un-named character who narrates the story of Mustapha Sa’eed- if not his other-self. In despite of the type of narration the Narrator embodies, as First-Person type of Narration, and as a character in the story that uses the first person singular “I” who also presents the action through the eyes oh his only one point of view (Harmon & Holman 341). Lead to set a personal hypothesis of mine claims; that, Tayeb Salih left the narrator ‘Un-named’ to keep a gap in the novel where the Protagonist Mustapha Sa’eed can fill himself in as the other identity, under the Narrator’s Persona whenever parallelism of the plot crosses on! But critically speaking, Salih’s Season of Migration to the North under the light of Freudian characters’ analysis using the Uncanny conception simplifies an applicable interpretation of the possible Oneness on both the Narrator and the Protagonist! Because Freud’s philological analysis of the uncanny is very clear in the novel and supports the thesis on how Mustafa Sa’eed is the Narrator’s double. Sigmund Freud, however, argues on the authority of Otto Rank in “The Uncanny,” The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud that the narcissistic stage in the his concept of the ego’s development. That is where the ego invents a double, someone or an object it can identify with, and here in the novel Mustafa Sa’eed his Double the Nameless Narrator. The reason behind this invention of doubleness is originally as he stated “an insurance against the destruction of the ego” (Freud 235) or in another word as a defense mechanism (qtd. Al-Halool).

In the novel Season of Migration to the North the ego is whom ‘Mustapha Sa’eed’ passes the narcissistic stage, and his double is the ‘Nameless Narrator’ who loses its original function. As in Freud explanation in “when this stage has been surmounted, the ‘double’ reverses its aspect. From Having been an assurance of immortality, it becomes the uncanny harbinger of death” (Freud 235). However, many questions and wonders are being raised. Why does the double, the ‘Narrator’ become so frightening and uncanny that the ego needs to gather together all its defenses against it? Why does the ego ‘Mustapha Sa’eed’ project that familiar double outward as something foreign to itself? (Al-Halool). The answers of these questions are all in Freud responds again at his book with: When all is said and done, the quality of uncanniness can only come from the fact of the “double” being a creation dating back to a very early mental stage, long since surmounted–a stage, incidentally, at which it wore a more friendly aspect. The “double” has become a thing of terror, just as, after the collapse of their religion, the gods turned into demons. (236) Lastly, Freud adds that, as there is in the unconscious mind a strong compulsion to repeat proceeding from instinctual impulses (qtd. Al-Halool), “whatever reminds us of this inner ‘compulsion to repeat’ is perceived as uncanny” (Freud 238) As to the Nameless Narrator. For Mustafa appeared or is projected as a stranger, the one who is not part of the village or in another set of words, as the uncanny.

Furthermore, it is significant along these lines, which Mustafa Said appears always in where the others are away. For this reason, it supports the theory of possible oneness of the two different characters according to Freud’s uncanniness. When it stated evidently at the first chapter of the novel by “My father was asleep, and my brothers had gone out on some errand or another. I was therefore alone when I heard a faint cough coming from outside the house and on getting up.” (8). Another time in Mahjoub’s meeting at work “It was Mahjoub, the president of the Committee and a childhood of mine, who invited me. When I entered, I found that Mustapha was a member of the committee” (12). However again, in the gathering at Mahjoub’s house when they all got drunk; “Mahjoub, busy laughing with the rest of the people in the gathering did not notice what occurred.” (14) For what occurred was unseen for its all occurrence was at the mind of the Narrator where the seen of Mustapha get drunk and start reciting some English War Poetry, the Narrator: Leaping up, I stood above the man and shouted at him: ‘what’s this you’re saying? What’s this you’re saying?’ he gave me an icy look- I don’t know how to describe it … pushing me violently aside, he jumped to his feet and went out of the room with firm tread, his head held high as though he were something mechanical. (14) One last time, when the Narrator wanted Mustapha to tackle his identity the narrator stated: “I did not have long to wait, for Mustapha came to see me that very same evening. On finding my father and brother with me, he said that he wanted to speak to me alone. I got up and we walked off together.” (15). The same goes to the clash presence with Mustapha towards the Narrator, together they are always presented alone; the Narrator said: “Just before sunset I went to him and found him alone, seated in front of a pot of tea.” (16). As well as the absence of one anther; “My father told me—for I was in Khartoum at that time—that they heard women screaming… that was coming from Mustapha Sa’eed’s house.” (38). Thus, in the Narrator’s subconscious, Mustafa is a repressed phenomenon whose presence on the conscious level is threatening, because it stirs up in him a hidden compulsion to repeat his alienating experience in England. So, this explains why the narrator seeks refuge in the native villagers, and most notably his grandfather, from this “stranger’s” menacing presence (Al-Halool).

On the other hand, the narrator seeks protection from himself, from his repressed alter ego, the second self of Mustapha Sa’eed’s character, stated in these lines: Mustapha Sa’eed never happened; that he was in fact a lie, a phantom, a dream or a nightmare that had come to people of that village one suffocatingly dark night, and when they opened their eyes to the sunlight he was nowhere to be seen. (39) Indeed, the very fact that the narrator reminds other people of Mustafa Sa’eed and that he is the only main character who has no name. However, to negligence of the Narrator major role in the narrative of Salih and his unfolding of the novel’s events. The Narrator himself suggests that He and Mustafa Sa’eed are one self and the same person, no matter how far the readers might neglect this consideration, yet he insists to remind us, aesthetically by throwing wonders. Illustrated in these lines: Was is likely that what happened to Mustapha Sa’eed could have happened to me? He had said that he was a lie, so was I also a lie? I am from here—is not this reality enough? I too had lived with them. But I had lived with them superficially, neither loving nor hating them. I used to treasure within me the image of this little village, seeing it wherever I went with the eye of my imagination. (41) And at this extracted lines as well: Mustapha Sa’eed died two years ago, but I still continue to meet up with him from time to time. I lived for twenty-years without having heard of him or seen him; then, all of a sudden, I find him in a place where the likes of him are not usually encountered. (42) And at this climaxing quote where the Narrator declared evidently to the novel’s readers, the final evidential detail of both Him and Mustapha Sa’eed as one inseparable self, by many evidential actions occurred while the Narrator was in lucked-room of Mustapha. Firstly, the mirror’s reflection in: I begin from where Mustapha Sa’eed had left off. Here I am standing in Mustapha Sa’eed house in front of the iron door… ………………………………………………………………………… The light exploded on my eyes and out of the darkness there emerged a frowning face with pursed lips that I knew but could not place. I moved towards it with hate in my heart. It was my adversary Mustapha Sa’eed. The face grew a neck… and I found myself face to face with myself. This is not Mustapha Sa’eed—it’s a picture of me frowning at my face from a mirror. (111-112) Secondly, the Narrator reaction to the letter from Mrs. Elizabeth Robinson at the room where he visualized to us the scene; “I placed the letter in my pocket and seated myself in the chair to the right of the fireplace.” (123). Thirdly, the uncompleted poem of Mustapha Sa’eed and the Narrator’s try to write up a closing line in: “The problem intrigued me and I gave it several minutes of thoughts… This line of mine is no worse than the rest, so I crossed out the last line of the poem and wrote in its place.” (127). Fourthly and lastly, the striking thread which links the Narrator and Mustapha Sa’eed together as one exact identity. Is the Narrator at his last closing appearance declares a resemblance to the end of Mustapha Sa’eed mysterious disappearance at the middle of the narrative: I entered the water as naked as when my mother bore me. When I first touched the cold water I felt a shudder go through me, then was transformed into a sensation of wakefulness. The river was not in full spare as during the days of the flooding, not yet was it as its lowest level… My feet led me to the riverbank as the first glimmerings of down made their appearance. I would dispel my rage by swimming. …………………………………………………………………………. Then I veered between seeing and blindness. I was conscious and not conscious. Was I asleep or awake? Was I alive or dead? Even so, I was still holding a thin, frail thread… (137-138) However, Mustapha Sa’eed disappeared in the time of Nile flood, despite the indication of his being “Mustapha Sa’eed was, as far as I knew, an excellent swimmer.” (38) with no clue of his body with the dead “Mustapha Sa’eed’s body was not among those washed up on the river bank that week” (38).

To sum up, as just as the Narrator ends his own experience of alienation in Tayeb Salih’s Season of Migration to the North, covered in less than four pages of text. He becomes immediately embroiled in that of Mustafa Sa’eed, which almost consumes the remaining of one hundred and thirty-nine pages (Al-Halool). Then, again and for the last time, the Alter ego of Narrator took role and woke up strongly, as stated at the last paragraph of the novel: “Though floating on the water, I was not a part of it. I was born—without any violation of mine. All my life I had not chosen, had not decided. Now I am making a decision. I choose life.” (139). He screams with all his remaining strength, “Help! Help” (139).

Works Cited Freud, Sigmund. “The Uncanny.” The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Translated by James Strachey et al. Volume 17. London: The Hogarth Press, 1955.217-256. Halool, Musa Al-. “The Nature of the Uncanny in Season of Migration to the North.” Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ) 30.1 (2008): 31+. Questia. Web. 22 May 2011. Harmon, William, C. Hugh Holman, and William Flint Thrall. A Handbook to Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000. Salih, Tayeb, and Denys Johnson-Davies. Season of Migration to the North. London [u.a.: Heinemann, 1969. ““An Unholy Migration to the North”.” Www.scribd.com. Web. .

Dickens’ Estella and Brontë‘s Catharine and the Evil Representation of Victorian Femme Fatale as an Aspect of Gothicism

In My Research Papers & Essays on February 13, 2011 at 8:33 am



This paper seeks to apply the characteristic of ‘Femme Fatale’ as an aspect of Gothic Fiction on Victorian female characters, whom rarely had been labeled as gothic women. The Femme Fatale is known for her mysterious and seductive personality that ensures her lovers in bonds of irresistible desire, however this often led them to tragic death or forsakenness as soon as they satisfy her egoism! So far her ability to mesmerize her men is indicated throughout history as supernatural power, some books referred to her as witch and vampire and others as monstrous creature or even a demon. Hitherto it was away before the mid-eighteenth century, the Femme Fatale personality had developed into a new conception to persevere the demands used by novelist and intellectuals in exposing the Victorian socioeconomics environment. Besides, the paper studies the twisted qualities of Femme fatale from a blood-spattered seductive woman towards a charming educated lady who disobeys authority of patriarchal man’s stream in Great England. In quotations the paper tries to Gothicize certain characters ‘Estella Havisham’ in Dickens’ Great Expectations (1860) and the character of ‘Catherine Earnshaw’ in the novel of Wuthering Heights (1847).


Although several studies have appeared over the last decade or so, on female characters of Victorian fiction, however, minority has fully referred to the relationship to some of them as gothic women. Thus, this research paper concerns about the aspect of analyzing the ‘evil’ representations by two different heroines ‘Estella Havisham’ and ‘Catherine Earnshaw’ as females whom been investigated within as gothic women of nineteenth-century fiction. Both characters demonetarized of what distinctively called a ‘Femme Fatal’ in types of behavior during the modern revival of its conception. Besides, this research paper examines the dissimilar production throughout the novels fabrication by each novelist individually, where they produced their socio-cultural environment through the quality of women’s Fatalism. Together Charles Dickens and Emily Brontë had exemplified a new adjustment over their protagonists to represent new classifications in the novels of Great Expectations (1860) and Wuthering Heights (1847) Dickens, as a male presenter of ‘Estella’s’ fatalism opposed to Bronte as the womanish presentation of ‘Catharine’. Hence, the assumption of their novels, had realistically represented social norms and great deal of Victorianism, moreover women had been accurately portrayed in the subordinate social position that norms and mores had relegated them forwards by the femme fatale qualities.

Review of the Literature

Both of Harmon and Holman defined the word ‘Gothic’ in their book The Handbook to Literature, to its various referents by each contextual usage. The term Gothic refers (1) In history as a language, to Goth specification of Germanic tribes all through ancient times, then the meaning was broadened to mean Teutonic[1] and later medieval[2] (2) In architecture its modern referent to the art of medievalism movement which portrays the revival of its constructions (3) In Literature, fundamentally refers to a genre[3] in which horror and romance are main elements (241-42).

In another hand, Gothic fiction is Largely approved as the first Gothic novel, Horace Walpole’s publication of The Castle of Otranto (1764) which remains the perfect source of Gothic conventions, and the piece that influencing writers up to the present day. Mostly Walpole’s novel contains supernatural incidences, huge bleak castles, and complicated characters with emotional sublimity bring in all the familiar “Gothic trappings” of tradition (Snodgrass 11). As Elizabeth MacAndrew noted;

…The first work in a conventional genre not itself conventional, but an innovative break from the past, subtitling his work ‘A Gothic Tale,’ Walpole consciously labeled his writing to use a term still associated at the time with barbarism[4] and the ‘Dark Ages’.  (275)

Progressively Gothic fiction expanded to cover diverse portions, where its effect depends thoroughly on “pleasing sort of terror, an extension of essentially Romantic literary pleasures with prominent features including psychological and physical fear, mystery, supernatural elements” (Snodgrass 19). Yet, the aspect of deadly-woman or a ‘Femme Fatale’ is earliest term recorded in the English language -borrowed from French- in 1912.

A modern study done to clarify that the expression ‘fatale’ is etymologically linked to ‘fate’, and the Fates are three ancient goddesses who regulate birth, life, change and regeneration- the cycle of the existence. Thus universally, the term femme fatale refers to a popular creation of the Fates. Except that patriarchal judgments grouped woman into two; “good girls” are associated with niceness and toothlessnessty whereas a “bad girl” or femme fatal is always a dangerous abyss, the black hole and the one that has some bite. In short, the femme fatal represents as outlawed form of female divinity, influence, brilliance, sexual agency, independence, vengeance and death-power (Caput 328-29).

Part One: Femme Fatale and Reasons behind Revival

English literature reached its peek by the age of Victoria; fiction was an abundant felid for authors and thinkers to inscribed. Thus due the period many themes are exposed with many reasons to explain why one of Gothic aspects the ‘Femme Fatal’ had attracted and still so much interest among the readers. Assumingly, it’s the new femme fatale unique characteristic that differs from the fixed portrayals dangerous gothic woman of the old medieval themes, whom is easily figured out and categorized!

Due the modern revival, Victorian Fatal Females gained the obscurity of socioeconomic class by violating the boundaries of law boldly, mockingly, and rebelliously. Wherever these actions were an extreme prohibition towards the patriarchic England (Hedgecock xviii). Yet again the personality spins on the Victorian femme fatale is unlike the old concept of martyred fallen woman, however she scars or threats but she never wearies the reader by the curiosity to unravel her mystery nor to have power over her. Hence a predictable conclusion the femme fatale will always be rewarded with tragic endings or short living victory, as reasons for her deceitful conspiracy and rubbing benefits of a wealthy man who was in love with her and whom she arrogantly destroyed (Hedgecock 1-3).

Over again the mid-nineteenth-centaury fatalistic women are different from old historical figures; her feminine and incurable nature does not always bear a sexuality, which is obviously rapacious; she instead represents more importantly some social and cultural changes, by the myriad problems of Victorian society. Subsequently the femme fatale of the eighteenth-century is introduced as; middle class educated woman, who enters mainstreams of Victorian culture without being detected as dangerous or deadly.

At first she needs sort of sneakiness because the necessity of power and suppressive force of patriarchal judgments. Therefore she is young and attractive, so far dangerous with border used to persuasive a blend into society. Until the plot develops, usually other characters reared her as innocence lady for her reticent manners and modest physical appearance (Hedgecock Ch. 1).

Jan Marsh[1] in her book The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood[2] contends that the image of the femme fatale became a crucial figure in the Pre-Raphaelites vocabulary as well as that of the decadents. She says:

…Gazed, fascinated but repelled, at women of a curious frigidity, cold but sensual, erotic but invulnerable.'” and that “‘Their attitudes are piped with a fear of female malevolence, and characteristically they attempt to control this fear by boiling down the variety of the individual experience into the image of a single symbolic figure.  (144)

However, Marsh also recognizes that in this:

…Boiled down” femme fatale, “women are rendered decorative, depersonalized; they become passive figures rather than characters in a story or drama… women are reduced to an aesthetic arrangement of sexual parts, for male fantasies.  (145)

Marsh’s words direct smartly a spotlight to common features of Victorian femme fatale chrematistics; she summed up in lines the universal themes of the all-new woman by the beginning of the late eighteenth-century to the modern world. On the other hand, in the book of the Femme Fatale in Victorian Literature: the Danger and the Sexual Threat. Jennifer Hedgecock established persuasively that:

…Being a “femme fatale” was neither caused by nor was a simple reflection of such a woman’s moral failings; it was instead a rejection of their condition of “fallenness” and of their limited economic options—a conscious strategy adopted to secure for themselves the social position and standard of living possessed by comfortable middle-class women.  (11)

Also, Hedgecock explains how the existing social regulations are so circumscribed a woman’s life possibilities that conflicts between those within the reigning social order and those on the margins of it were inevitable:

…Given women’s constrained possibilities and the society’s exclusionary presuppositions about them, donning a respectable disguise to hide one’s manipulative striving for success could conceivably be construed by a Victorian woman to be a rational strategy.”  (13)

Part Two: Estella as a Victorian Femme Fatale

In a period of time, when middle-class women begin organizing more radical feminist movements[3] in his Great Expectations, Charles Dickens reflected this outcome by his creation of Estella’s fatalistic character. Dickens designated her as dangerous as feminine as the new femme fatale materialized due the era of Victoria. The personality of Estella is the literary signpost of the changing roles of woman in the nineteenth-century fiction, and which later foreshadows protestation against society’s treatment of woman.

As a quality of femme fatale, Estella’s portrayal is quite disturbing as her detachment and unemotional self-analysis has resulted in her being described as “unnatural” and “monstrous” (qtd. In Holbrook, 482). In the book of Dissenting Women in Dickens’ Novels: The Subversion of Domestic Ideology, the ‘She-Dragon’[4] is Ayres’s personal definition over the character of Estella, whish implies Femme fatale characteristics, he declares;

Estella is the exact opposite of an angel-in-the-house. Instead of submissive, she is willful and domineering. Instead of gentle, kind, and tender, she is calculating, malicious, and hard. Instead of reserved, she is acrimonious. Instead of internalizing her suffering, as was expected of a good Victorian woman, she inflicts suffering on men. Instead of using her beauty and her inner qualities of strength to attract men for their own good, she attracts men for her own purpose. This is not to imply that Estella is a healthy, assertive prototype of the nineteenth-century woman. She is, nonetheless, a woman who has been trained to garner agencies of female power and to use them to balance the scales.  (9)

Besides, Dickens’ astounding implication in his novel suggested, to a degree in which an independent like Estella is viewed as a threat to the fabric of Victorian culture. In Great Expectations with, “‘You must know,’ said Estella, condescending to me as a beautiful woman might, ‘that I have no heart- if that has anything to do with my memory.'” (235; ch. 29).  Estella in the quote discloses her incapability of love to Pip or anybody else because she was not taught to love herself at very beginning of her childhood, she justifies her picture of Love, as a prohibited feeling to admit, a public humiliation and an indication of self-weakness. Hence, by emphasizing on the harmful effects of restrain and passivity on woman through Estella’s characterization, lead us to take a look at the complicated roles that woman play due the Victorian society.

Estella in the same way as a lethal woman, and a new revival over the form of femme fatale, is a part of this evolving assertiveness on the part of woman roles. She is as an accurate disturbance out of the damaged reality of her patriarchal society. Seeing that quote of her says; “‘so,’ said Estella, ‘I must be taken as I have been made. The success is not mine, the failure is not mine, but the two together make me.” (356; Ch. 38).

Yet her certifying lines “I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion, and morality, and against the arguments of my best friends.” (29; Ch. 4). Entails a declaration on her developed state of rebellion dissatisfaction, within her respond to Pip, she presented these unconstrained woman of nineteenth-century whom are breaking both legal and moral laws as they struggle for self-reliance.

In the same way as a nineteenth upper-class lady she is a single and highly educated, and as a femme fatale she has escaped the polar definition of domestic or fallen woman- is a threat to bourgeois ideology in where she threatens to destroy the structure of the family and obscure the definitions assigned to domestic woman (qtd. In Hedgecock, 9). However, Jarmuth argued that Estella marries Drummble in order to gain his wealth and title (173).  Her decision to marry him can only be explained as an overt act of self-destruction. She is cognizant of the fact that he is inferior to her in every way, and she realizes that he will physically abuse her, where her assumption in its place.  As the quote uncovers;

‘For I have seen you give him looks and smiles this very night, such as you never give to- me.’ ‘Do you want me then,’ said Estella, turning suddenly with a fixed and serious, if not angry, look, ‘to deceive and entrap you?’ ‘Do you deceive and entrap him Estella?’ ‘Yes, and many others-all of them but you.’  (307; ch. 38)

During this chit frank dialogue, Pip was questioning Estella, ‘why?’ being a wolf in meek. So far, it reveals Estella’s inner intonation as a femme fatale, who is a bitter manipulative cold woman, in addition to a mocking vindictive towards affectionate feelings such being in love.

Part Three: Catherine Eranshaw as Victorian Femme Fatale

The same approach can be found in Emily Brontë’s depiction of the central heroine of Wuthering Heights.  Catherine Earnshaw, who from her early days is far from being a lady of a natural eminent virtue, is placed evidently through the genealogy of Gothic heroines.

As a feminine presentation, and as a knower of women’s impediments, Emily Brontë constructed her femme fatale, Catherine as a character that cannot be placed in categories of good and evil, but is instead a complex character. This involved complexity demonstrates to audiences that women have the right to be complex and yet very complicated to be defined or categorized. Hence, here comes into sight the first fresh feature of new Victorian femme fatale by a female novelist.

Catharine or Cathy does not follow the stereotypical moral injunction; instead, she is divided into (as well as between) her lovers, and struggles to have them both; she cannot choose one of them, but wants them to co-exist in her life; in Wuthering Heights, “Well, if I cannot keep Heathcliff for my friend–if Edgar will be mean and jealous, I’ll try to break their hearts by breaking my own. That will be a prompt way of finishing all, when I am pushed to extremity!” (107; Ch. 11). This quotation reveals an anti-thesis of a conventional Victorian heroine. Catharine is violent, passionate and not afraid to voice loud her opinions, and this is what the new femme fatal all about. Because, Femme fatal has this obscurity of socioeconomic class which violets the law boundaries, daringly, and rebelliously.

Catherine’s very persona exudes dark desire, as a feature of femme fatality, which was a daring literary step for Bronte to take; it predestined violation where it meant to be a “good” woman. Thus she constantly criticized for not being an ideal to look up to she is manipulative and capricious; “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath..” (74; Ch. 9)

Subsequently, Catharine, shifted in her adulthood, to gain the ability to be cruel and manipulative and yet still be pursued and loved, “Terror made me cruel; and finding it useless to attempt shaking the creature off, I pulled its wrist on to the broken pane, and rubbed it to and fro till the blood ran down and soaked the bedclothes…” (22; Ch. 3) and she confuses again in:

If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger: I should not seem a part of it…Nelly, I am Heathcliff! He’s always, always in my mind: not as a pleasure, any more than I am always a pleasure to myself, but as my own being.  (74;Ch. 9)

Where she flouts society’s definitions of what is morally appropriate by daring to love daring to love two men, her proclamations of love for Heathcliff are almost transcendental in their timbre, especially when she claims that they are one and the same person. Unlike the femme fatale Estella Havisham, Conger found that Catharine Earnshaw got ability to have internal conflicts, “increases the psychological complexity of the Gothic heroine, and broadens immeasurably the bounds within which femininity may move”(qtd. In Fleenor, 100).

However, though facing internal conflicts, these conflicts arise from the heroines’ struggle against the external world (Gilbert and Gubar 274).  This education is one, which is upon all ladies of society, designed to repress the desires of the original self. When Catherine is forced to learn this lesson, it causes a fragmentation of her personality, doubling her identity and led to Fatalism.

Catherine’s eventual decision to marry Edgar Linton, both Gilbert and Gubar argue, was not actually a choice, but instead a product of her forced education. She is not given any meaningful choices, as she herself perceives that marrying Heathcliff would turn them both into beggars, and there are no other men of status in the area:

It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff now; so he shall never know how I love him: and that, not because he’s handsome, Nelly, but because he’s more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same; and Linton’s is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire. (73;Ch. 9)

Catharine Earnshaw her by this actions can no longer be rewarded for good. As a Victorian femme fatale is must rewarded for her dishonesty and manipulation, and for the wealth benefits from men who destroyed, lead her to tragic ending, short lived life- death.

The Victorian re-invention of a ‘fatal woman’ is noticeably resulted from the anxiety growth within women of Victoria during her conformation against the patriarchal domination over England along advent of the feminism movement. Thus, the damage of sexes power-balance has threaten the fixed submissive nature of women at that period, and thus it had been replaced by a spiritual formulation on femme fatale whom became a powerful prototype for the New Woman in England at nineteenth century (Fleenor iv).

Therefore, the similarity that both ‘Estella Havisham’ and ‘Catherine Earnshaw’ shared, and which had been presented by Charles Dickens and Emily Bronte as Femme Fatale is by terror they had subjected, in order to form a character be worthy of discovery.  On the other hand, Gilbert and Gubar[5] explained somehow that upon entering into sexual identity in a patriarchal world, a woman must learn to repress her own impulses, and must girdle her own energies with the iron stays of ‘reason’ (101).

Works Cited

Ayres, Brenda. Dissenting Women in Dickens’ Novels: The Subversion of Domestic Ideology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association, 1982.

Caputi, Jane. Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth, Power, and Popular Culture. Madison: University of Wisconsin/Popular, 2004.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. N.p.: n.p., 1964. Print.

Fleenor, Juliann E. The Female Gothic. Montréal: Eden, 1983.

Gilbert, Sandra and Gubar, Susan. “The Female Imagination and the Modernist Aesthetic.” Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 1986, 13:1-2.

Harmon, William, C. Hugh Holman, and William Flint Thrall. A Handbook to Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000.

Hedgecock, Jennifer. The Femme Fatale in Victorian Literature: the Danger and the Sexual Threat. Amherst, NY: Cambria, 2008.

Holbrook, David. Charles Dickens and the Image of Woman. New York: New York UP, 1993.

Jarmuth, Sylvia L. Dickens’ Use of Women in His Novels. New York: Excelsior Publishing Company, 1986.

MacAndrew, Elizabeth. The Gothic Tradition in Fiction. New York: Columbia UP, 1979.

Marsh, Jan. The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood. New York: St. Martin’s, 1985.

Syndy McMillen Conger, “The Reconstruction of the Gothic Feminine Ideal in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights”, in Juliann E. Fleenor (ed.), The Female Gothic, Montreal: Eden Press, 1983, reprinted in E. McNees, (ed.), op. cit., vol. 2, 415. See also Lyn Pykett, op. cit., 66-67.

Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. Encyclopedia of Gothic Literature. New York: Facts on File, 2005.

[1] Is a biographer specializing in artists and writers. She has written extensively on the Pre-Raphaelite circle, including a major biography of Christina Rosetti, and also been guest curator for exhibitions of Victorian art.

[2] For further reading, Marsh, Jan. The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood. New York: St. Martin’s, 1985.

[3] Also known as the Women’s Movement, Women’s Liberation, or Women’s Lib, refers to a series of campaigns which reforms on issues on Women rights.

[4] For further reading, Brenda Ayres, Dissenting Women in Dickens’ Novels: The Subversion of Domestic Ideology (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998)

[5] Award-winners and now classic studiers on patterns of influence and indebtedness among women novelists and poets including Jane Austen, Mary Shelley, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Emily Dickinson.  Gilbert is primarily responsible for chapters on poetry; Gubar on prose

[1] Relating to the ancient Teutons, or the Germanic languages or their speakers

[2] Also known as Middle Ages, a period of European history from the 5th -15th century

[3] A term for any category of literature, as well as various other forms of art or culture

[4] A primitive culture that lacks major signs of economic development or modernity


Meaning and Logic: A Cross-cultural paper on the Logic of English and Arabic Double Negative Functions

In My Research Papers & Essays on February 12, 2011 at 8:25 am

A 3 pages length paper on a cross cultural Semantic grammars,  the professor asked us to limit the scope of the study on only one filed of Linguistics,  so i did not use any phonological transcriptions or PS rules in order to elaborate. wishing its helpful! = )


Under logical correspondence, Languages have various ways to express Meanings. Semantics studies the linguistic meaning of morphemes, words, phrases and sentences whereas Logic is the science of clear thinking and correct reasoning. It is used to determine the relations between statements, and to obtain conclusions from true statements (Zanuttini, Campos, et al., 2006). Moreover AlKuhli provides that reasoning principles depend heavily on meaning and thus, semantics and logic are strongly related (2002). The purpose of this paper is to perceive certain aspect of how meaning and logic are interrelated through ‘Negators’ and the aspect of using ‘doubled negation’ in English grammar, besides its functioning with Arabic Standard Grammar. By following the universal logical rule of [not -(not-p) = p] a two negatives are used in one sentence, the negatives are understood to cancel one another and produce a weakened affirmative (Exell, 1998).

Language universality comprises some words or expressions that cannot be referring expression – RE[1] or predicating expression– PE[2]. Words like (and, or, but, if, all, some and not) cannot be RE’s nor PE’s so they are called ‘Logical words’, AlKuhli (2002). To stop at a fact that all languages have logical words and all then have negation forms. Negators in English are mainly (not, never, no) and some morphemes are used to negate by opposition. However, The main focus derived to the term of Double Negative and it’s functioning in English standard and nonstandard Grammar with an application to Arabic Grammar as a cross-linguistical valid appliance rule. Since the logic of Negators is a universal aspect yet the usage of duality can be applied to some languages and not to others. As English double negatives rule cancel one another and produce an affirmative sense or makes stronger negative, the Arabic Grammar has sort of functional similarities.

In Standard English[3], Prof. J. L. Austin conducted in a lecture of Oxford (1990) that a double negative makes a positive, but none in which a double positive makes a negative. Yet, Robert Lowth observed first in 1762, the validity of a double negative occurrence with two forms of negation in the same clause. For instance, “I do not disagree” could mean, “I certainly agree” and “I didn’t see nothing,” similar to the meaning of “I saw something”, also “she is not unattractive” does not mean “she is ugly”. And as a logical application of the rule [not -(not-p) = p] is explained on ‘this lady is attractive.’

P = this lady is attractive.

Not-P = this lady is not an attractive.

Not- (Not-P)=It is not true that this lady is not an attractive=this lady is attractive= positive.

To Arabic standard Grammar, this rule is a valid application since Arabic Grammarians already have negations’ logic within the language, for instance;

P= [Asstatee’ ann aqool alhaq]                    “ I can say the truth”

Not- P= [La Asstate’e ann aqool alhaq]         “ I cannot say the truth”

Not-(Not-P)= [La Asstate’e ann La aqool Alhaq] “I cannot to not say the truth”

The out-coming result of the example shows how the Arabic negator [La] is to negate the 1st action and the repetition of [La] again is to negate the 2nd action that leads to a result of an affirmative phrase.

However the usage differs when it comes to Non-standard English where the rule of double negative is to produce emphasis of stronger negative. For example “I won’t not disappoint you” is the same, as “I won’t disappoint you” because here the use of one negative is enough to convey the meaning yet the other ‘not’ is to emphasize. This rule also is applicable to Arabic Standard Grammar. By using the repetitious insertion of precluded Not (Maa Alnafeia) which refers to the English meaning ‘To Not’, like [Maa maa zied Qadem] explained under the same previous logical rule;

P= [Zaid Qadem]         “Zaid is coming”

Not- P= [Ma Zaid Qadem]            “ Zaid is not coming”

Not-(Not-P)= [Ma Ma Zaid Qadem]                                 “ Zaid doesn’t not coming”

Therefore Arabic Grammarians set more rules over double negative forms where the usage of double Negators is not an obligation. By negating the Negators in the same clause; will result to wither positive statement or opposition.  Some forms of the rule are in (1) Condemnational Interrogation within a context of negation (Al-Estefham Al-Enkari); when a negative phrase is preceded by interrogation to disapprove, it makes an affirmative concept. This form mostly founded in Qur’anic verses as this translated verse “Is not God enough for His servant?” (The Cliques, 36), and its transliteration [Alys Allah Bekafn Abdh?] logically leads to meaning ‘God is the whole sufficient’. (2) The function of the preposition ‘about to do’ is called the rule of [Khada] in Arabic Grammar. It has many functions, though one of them is to negate its phrase in order to produce a positive. For instance [Khada Ahmad ann yamoot] means “Ahmad was about to die” by using the preposition about to in English gives the same meaning in Arabic that ‘he was about to die yet the result he did not’. Moreover, Arabic grammar has another negation form (3) by [ghair] which is similarly in meaning to English ‘Not’, yet Arabic [ghair] doesn’t negate fully but it does give a negation or opposite context. As [hatha Amrun ghairu saheeh] could possibly mean [Amrun khathib] translated to ‘this is not untrue’ could mean ‘true’.

Hence the Negators Logic of two negative in one phrase unified with meaning to produce an understandable phrase to both hearers/readers. Semantics meaning depends on rules of Logic in order to identify exactly the meaning of the context and to avoid ambiguity.

[1] Is any NP, or surrogate for NP whose function in a text, its to “pick out” an individual person, place, object, or a set of persons, places, objects, etc.

[2] is an expression that evaluates to true or false

[3] Refers to whatever form of the English language is accepted as a national norm in an Anglophone country, it encompasses grammar, vocabulary, and spelling.



I lost this part somewhere in my files, so its updated!

Bulliet’s New Perspective Case of ‘Islamo-Christian Civilization’ against Huntington’s and Lewis’s Western Dogmatism

In My Research Papers & Essays on February 10, 2011 at 6:10 am

This Paper had been submitted as a fulfillment of the course of Islamic civilization and the West. I was squeezed and running out of time, i had a litterateur analysis over Richard W Bulliet’s Book, only the first two chapters. I am planing to develop this paper, once i find the time. Enjoy it


September 11, 2001 is never like any September for America! It was a titanic storm of ambivalent feelings spread throughout the globe! Mixed with Western deep emotions of being betrayed, stabbed in the back with the emotion of cheer in devious mountains caves in the East. There, once again the old black confrontations restarted and the two civilizations rushed to their history, only rushed to approve what they think are justifying reasons!

Thus, Richard W. Bulliet, a professor of history at Columbia University and former director of its Middle East Institute, swallowed by an overwhelming urge to do something supportive to America as any resident after the cataclysm of the World Trade Center (Bulliet vii). Richard W. Bulliet attempted by publishing the book of The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization to detach any American confusion after 9/11 attacks. In spite of his quarrel that the book was not an “apologist for terrorism”(Kevin 1), he found it an opportunity to share with the globe his new case of ‘Islamo-Christian Civilization’. Along with a scientific disputation against the analogous dogmatism of Samuel Huntington and Bernard Lewis towards Islam and Muslims nation.

Bulliet is noticeably irenic in his contribution. Despite the marginalization of U.S medias, he brought a new perspective towards Islamo–European relations which diverged many Islamo-phobics. He came-up with a fresh analytical vision in the historical interactions between Islam and Christianity, and as a historian; he discriminated the fundamental relations of Islam in the Middle East with Christianity in Western Europe. A statement by Bulliet declared that ‘History is not Destiny’! (p. 6) intensified the West’s acknowledgment of “Judeo-Christian civilization” and asserted a faith on the civilizational reconciliations via the case of “Islamo-Christian civilization”. Shortly, Bulliet accept as a truth that past is not restricted by our ancestors, past is over and we can create a future where foes of the olden times are the friends of the tomorrow. He supported his statement by selected incidents; like the old reciprocated animosity between Christendom and Jews and again with Russia “rejoining” Europe after the fall of Soviet Union affords a comparison (p. 6-11).

Yet, Bulliet’s indifferentism led to a conciliatory tone advocated to Islam unlike Huntington’s and Lewis’s ones, which deliberately distorted and boasted Western superiority!  In Bulliet’s perceptions both of Huntington and Lewis promoted unfair confrontational theories regarding Islam and Muslims during the recent years and particularly after the 9/11. Thus Bulliet intended by the case to mend Western’s Islamic image before youths of West misapprehend the actualities! To argue with Islamo-phobics Bulliet provided evidence to the siblinghoodness of Christendom-Islam by a concise indication to ‘Abrahamic Religions’ that no religious conviction is primitive, we are all ‘Christians, Muslims, and Jews’ share the same origin. And in order to sustain this argument, Bulliet stated; “‘Islamo-Christian Civilization’…Intertwining of sibling societies enjoying sovereignty in neighboring geographical regions and following parallel historical trajectories.” (p. 10).

Bulliet as a prologue to his Case, rebutted Samuel Huntington’s[1] thesis “A Clash of Civilizations”, by arguing; “Civilizations that are destined to clash cannot seek together a common future” (p. 5). He assumed there is no authenticity in Huntington’s based-comparable thesis between Islamic nation in the Middle East and “…an idealized ‘Western Civilization’ based on Democracy, human rights, free enterprise, and globalization, with economic, social, and political structure…” (p. 2) and that Huntington’s scheme is never fluctuated from the old prevailed cosmic theories of modernity due to the Post-War I-II secularism. Moreover, Richard Bulliet found out a coincidental employment of civilizational clash-ness similar to the Protestant missioner Basil Mathew’s Young Islam on Trek: A Study in the Clash of Civilizations.  Although both Huntington and Mathew might vary still they made-up a resembled salvation for youthful Muslims by the first in Secularization of Islam and the other in Protestant Christianity. Hence, Bulliet objected Huntington and Mathew impractical solutions to liberalized Islam or any other creed; “It is hard to strip religious terms of religious contents” (p. 2-5). For the inevitability of civilizational class-ness goes against the Nature of World! Yet, Civilization is never confined to a certain nation, race, or religion. It is pot to various cultures and different origins of ideologies (Altweejry 2).

The historical question of Bernard Lewis “what went wrong?” is a fictitious expression according to Richard Bulliet! In the second chapter of the book, Bulliet stated a consideration versus Lewis’s analysis following 9/11 aftermath. In his statement “Its important to ask the right questions, but one cannot do so until one has explained why the question that is currently being asked does not work.” (p. 47) Bulliet drawn a vital wonder into the readers’ consideration when it comes to debate; especially into the case of Middle East to; “whose perspective is involved when the question is raised for the Middle East?” (p. 48). For Lewis in his book What Went Wrong?: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response[2] hypothesized a belief where Muslims are resentful of the West’s advanced civilization that exceeded Islamic nation in the East.  But in the prospect of Bulliet, Lewis’s assessment is erroneous for several reasons. First, the relation between Muslims and the West is prehistoric, and none can deny the geographical or the historical background. Second, Western Europe itself passed through evolution that produced cultural models like Nazism and Fascism, regardless of West it-self did not know which direction to chase. So, how Muslims and Arab nations are resented! Nevertheless, Bulliet fearlessly proclaimed Lewis’s question of “What Went Wrong?” answered itself by its self!  He addressed Lewis by “ …It’s not the unnamed ‘people in the Islamic world’, but rather Lewis himself.” (p. 53). What Bulliet meant by his address is say publicly that the actuality of the only ‘wrongness’ is in Lewis’s mind! Who observed the issue from his western dogmatic angle! Because Bulliet found the dilemma lied not only in the Arab and Islamic communities but also in the West and America (p. 55).

To sum up, Richard Bulliet sought after a rational peace in the case for Islamo-Christian Civilization. Opposed noted intellectualists of America like Samuel Huntington the instigator of “Clash of Civilization” and the orientalist Bernard Lewis for their factitious Western idealist beliefs towards Middle East and Muslims Civilization. In a scientific debate Bulliet’s book provided a fair deal of historical records, however, the book is not error-free. For example, when Bulliet referred to Islamism’s rapid triumphant in the Eastern countries for Muslims were fortunate enough to not have Pagan trips! Unlike the Christendom proceeding to the Pagan trips in Western Countries.  It is so untrue, Arab countries were extremely Pagan and Islam suffered its share!

Works Cited

Beck, Kevin A. “The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization: A Review – Kevin A. Beck.” Presence: a Center of Learning for Personal Transformation. Web. 28 Dec. 2010.

Bulliet, Richard W. The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization. New York: Columbia UP, 2004. Print.

Huntington, Samuel P. The Clash of Civilizations Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, 1993. Web.

Lewis, Bernard. Islam and the West. New York: Oxford UP, 1993. Print.

“صراع الحضارات في المفهوم الإسلامي.” Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – ISESCO –. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Jan. 2011. <http://www.isesco.org.ma/arabe/publications/Civ/page6.php&gt;.

[1] Samuel Huntington coined the phrase “Clash of Civilizations” in the early 1990s after the fall of Communism, when the growing power of Islam as a civilization and geopolitical force was beginning to challenge Western hegemony

[2] Released in January 2002, shortly after the September 11 terrorist attack, but written shortly before. The nucleus of this book appeared as an article published in The Atlantic Monthly in January 2002.