Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Dorian's Character

      In the Picture of Dorian Gray, I believe that Dorian's character remains static during the course of the novel and that, as the story progresses, more disturbing details are revealed to the reader. Socratic Seminar question 11 states, "Did Dorian's character change, or was it just merely truly revealed, by the end of the novel? Was dorian really the naive, young man that Basil portrayed in Chapter 1, or was it just Basil's obsession with Dorian that made him see him in that light? Did Dorian's character really change, or was it just his true personality surfacing throughout the book?"
      While we know that Lord Henry had a huge impact on Dorian at the beginning of the novel and proved to be a bad influence throughout, it is obvious that Dorian's subconscious was tainted with evil even before he is introduced. Because Dorian so willingly embraced Lord Henry's personality, ideas, and interests, the reader can assume that Dorian's character was always flawed. However, the progression from the 'innocent' young man to the evil older man was fairly steady, as shown in his portrait. Wilde shows Dorian's character flaws as his portrait becomes increasingly grotesque and by the events in the story such as rumors and hateful acts committed by Dorian, himself.
      This was fairly easy for me to pick up on because, and I won't use names, I used to have a friend that I was really close with. While I could recognize her flaws, I did not dwell on them or even really acknowledge them because I loved this person and these flaws didn't matter to me. However, as I started pulling myself away from this friend for personal reasons that were beneficial for me, I began to see how much I disliked this person. It was hard for me to understand how I could have felt so attached and affectionate toward them for so long when they had such obvious issues. I realized that they had had these flaws for as long as I'd known them and it surprised me when I discovered this. I feel as though Basil would have felt the same way as me when he discovered Dorian's imperfections and evil-doings.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Thousand Splendid Suns

      Though we haven't had this discussion yet, I wanted to expound upon Socratic Seminar question number twenty-three which states, "In your opinion, would a better ending for the novel have been for Mariam to escape with Tariq and Laila and also find happiness? Are you left with the impresion that Tariq and Laila can experience happiness?" In the novel A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, the character Mariam was brought up in a world filled with hate. Her mother, Nana, was constantly trying to convince Mariam that her father, Jalil, was an evil man and, consequently, Mariam felt torn because she didn't know whether or not she should be loyal to her mother or her father because she loved them both. After Nana died and Jalil sent her away to marry Rasheed, she essentially her father because she hated him for sending her away. Throughout her many years with Rasheed, she was unhappy and lonely and she never felt that she was good enough. When Laila joined the family, Mariam felt that she would be completely forgotten. However, once Laila and Mariam became friends through Aziza, she experiences true and unconditional love which brings her real happiness for the first time in her life. That being said, I believe that, while it is unfortunate, it was necessary for Mariam to sacrifice herself for Laila's safety. Though I would have wanted for everyone to have a 'happily ever after', Mariam was right when she said that if both of them escaped, the authorities would never stop trying to hunt them down for murdering Rasheed. Mariam is an older woman by the end of the novel; she would not have been able to remarry and there would have only been limited job opportunities open for her and it made her happy to know that she was sacrificing herself to ensure the safety of the people she loved. Tariq and Laila, on the other hand, are still on the road to happiness. While their children are mostly adjusted and content by the end of the novel, all of the horrible events that occured throughout Tariq and Laila's lives are going to make it difficult to truly find happiness, again. However, I do believe that, with time, their wounds will heal. This is a question of sacrifice for the greater good and, in reality, Mariam's decision to turn herself in was the correct one. Laila, Tariq, Aziza and Zalmai had full, prosperous lives ahead of them and the children depended on Laila. I, personally, have been in situations where I've either witnessed or had to sacrifice something in order to help someone else out. While I do not want to take the blame, I know that I am doing the right thing and that makes it okay.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cultural Relativism

      I honestly found this article to be extremely fascinating. While I also found it to be very repetitive (though that may have been to drive the point of the article), I basically agree with the argument the author is presenting. Cultural Relativism is based entirely upon opinions created by members of different societies. There are no set rules when it comes to morality and ethics and no one society has the right or privilege to condemn another society because of their difference. While I do believe that there are "primitive" cultures, that is strictly based on their access to modern technologies; it has nothing to do with their moral practices. However, this does not mean that I necessarily agree or approve of certain practices that are considered "right" by other cultures, it just means that I respect other ways of life and fully believe that everyone else should, too.
      Within the article, the author presents many examples that support his conclusions. First he brings up the instance of Darius, a king of Persia, where the king discovers that two groups of the people, the Callatians and the Greeks, have entirely different opinions on how they honor the dead. The Callatians eat the bodies of their fathers while the Greeks cremate their dead. While I have to say that I would never eat any dead person and that I agree with the Greeks, the Callatians (as well as the Greeks) fully believe that their practices are morally correct and both cultures were equally shocked and disgusted at the others' practices. Another example I found was of Eskimo society. Accepted practices that clash with those of our society include polygamy, infanticide, and a general disregard of human life, among other things. While those in our society would be absolutely disgusted by these morals (including myself), the Eskimos fully believe that their practices are correct and ethical. The line between savagery and just different societal standards is when there is a disagreement within that specific society. If all members of the society are in agreement with their practices, then we have no reason to condemn it or deem it inferior to the way we live.
      As I said in the introduction, I only basically agree with the entire argument. There were a few examples that I disagreed with. The author said that some societies believe that the Earth is flat, while others (modern societies) say that the Earth is spherical. He says that Cultural Relativism is not one hundred percent accurate because it is a fact that the Earth is a sphere and not flat. However, Cultural Relativism does not involve arguments that can be proven, in my opinion. The shape of the Earth is not up for debate, it is a proven fact. However, practices within a culture cannot be proven to be morally correct or incorrect because we do not have any set rules that govern all human beings. Another example made was with slavery and anti-Semitic societies. I believe this example is flawed because, as I stated earlier, there is a line between savagery and difference in society and there were plenty of people (including many people that were not in the oppressed groups in these societies) that disagreed completely with these practices. Therefore, I do not find this to be a valid example.
      To conclude this extremely long entry (I apologize, Mrs. Burnett, I had a lot to say about this), I found this article to be extremely enlightening, thought-provoking and I agree with most of what the author is presenting. One society cannot be truly inferior or superior to another society because there is no proof anywhere that states what is morally right and wrong. Every society creates its own practices and they all have a right to be respected (though it is not required that one agrees with them).