Author Archives: briannarosem

Ruhl’s Literacy Techniques

Something that I really liked in the Passion Play was the use of foreshadowing by Sarah Ruhl. I found this more in the first act of the play when writing my essay and it really helped build my understanding of the specific time period in Northern England.

In the era of this play, Queen Elizabeth was just short of outlawing the Passion Play because she was trying to form a Protestant faith, rather than the previously dominant Catholic one that existed. The outlawing of the Passion Play was not out right mentioned by Ruhl in her writings, but she did allude to the possibility of it as much so as she used foreshadowing to keep the idea there without blatantly stating it.

Ruhl’s acknowledgment of the intended overthrow of the Catholic religion, specifically its forced decline from prominence to being overshadowed by Protestantism is found here: “The Virgin Queen is on her throne, the Catholics are mostly done” (Ruhl 15) Similarly, the “Village Idiot” has a dream about the queen that casts a shadow of irony across the text: “So the Queen, she looks at me, with a real cold glimmer in her eyes like jewels, and she says, ‘I have come to stop the passion’” (Ruhl 34).

These are my two favorite lines because I feel like here the “Village Idiot” serves as much more than that as her dream foreshadows the future of the Queen putting ends to the play. I just thought this was interesting because authors use literacy techniques everyday to add to their writing and to make the story more interesting to the readers eye. Though in this case, not only does Ruhl use these techniques to draw readers in, but to relate her play to historical context through her characters discourse.

Reagan & the Homeless

I wanted to write a post about this, but never got around to it.

When we were reading the Passion Play, as a class we talked about the strong correlation between religion and politics over time and the ways that faith shifts because of it. Something we mentioned in class is the shift to psychoanalysis and from faith to science in the third act with political leader, Ronald Reagan. We mentioned the fact that Reagan closed down the mental institutions and that interested me further than just the little side note we mentioned in class about it. Whether thats because I am a sociology major and work with the homeless population on a daily basis or just the correlation I saw with him and another political leader.

When trying to decide what to write for my essay, I re-read the entire book and tried to analyze any little thing to see what actually really did strike me as interesting. Obviously, what Adolf Hitler did was terrible and killed multitudes of people, but in a sense, so did Ronald Reagan. He put people out on the street because of the tabu and serotypes placed on people with mental health conditions forgetting the fact that these people are real people too. By closing these mental institutions, he may have not intentionally killed and hurt thousands of people, but he put many in vulnerable positions. Someone who is homeless with mental health conditions is far more likely to end up in hospitals and jails, or even dead because of the lack of care they can get compared to the amount of care they actually do need to sustain a normal life. Reagan discriminated a group of people, as did Adolf Hitler, whether it be based off of a health condition or religion.

The point I was trying to make was when analyzing all three leaders and the struggle for power they had, they all had one thing in common. They wanted to change people. Queen Elizabeth wanted people to change religions, Adolf Hitler didn’t want Jewish faith to exist and Ronald Reagan didn’t want mental institutions to exist because of the stereotype associated with them. All three leaders wanted to change something about someone, they didn’t let people be themselves.

This kind of raised a question for me, did Ruhl deliberately pick these three leaders because of their inhuman acts as political leaders? Or was it just short of a coincidence that all of them had this sort of cult of personality?


Mentally ill, people of catholic faith and people of Jewish faith are all people too..whether these leaders accepted that notion or not.


Close Minded Alice

When reading the novel I picked up on this, but the homework reading of Humpty Dumpty really re-instated this idea into my head. Alice appears to only have one way of thinking, she is very close minded and questions anything that comes her way that isn’t what she wants it to be. Though, she also is seen questioning things that aren’t as what she’s been told. Like in the instance of Humpty Dumpty, she questions him greatly and gets almost rude when he doesn’t allow her to state her knowledge of the nursery rhyme and what happens to him and what the King promised. She sees the world in one light, one view and as everything she knows and believes as to be correct.

But something really interesting to me is that no matter how stubborn she tries to appear to be to all the different “creatures” she comes into contact with, they always get her to think in their way. Whether their way actually be the right or wrong, they always seem to persuade her in some shape or form to think differently.

I don’t know if this is just Carroll’s way of trying to portray a stubborn child who refuses to conform to society, a common child in society. Or if the meaning of this is to convey a greater message of everything is not as it seems and that sometimes something so simple, can change everything. Even as simple as a standpoint on a topic.

I just thought this was interesting and very continuous in Carroll’s work!


When reading Tyson’s writing about Marxist, something that really struck out to me was the explanations of the word commodity and the value placed on each of its counterparts.

Something that really caught my eye was the mention of “conspicuous consumption” which in simple terms is described as displaying material items in order to impress other members of society and or to brag about the wealth they must have in order to have such an item.

When thinking back I thought of The Great Gatsby immediately and well of course, Jay. Jay went out of his way to even do things as horrible as sell things illegal just to be able to impress Daisy. He wanted wealth in order to brag and try to one up her husband and after getting the wealth, showed it off in a effort to impress “his lady..”

Though I feel like today this is even present in society. We as people look at people who have big fancy cars and houses as trying to brag because maybe those said materialistic things are unachievable to us. I think this idea of conspicuous consumption is very prevalent in todays society.

Can anyone else think of any other examples? I found this topic very interesting and am wondering if anyone else did too?

Brianna Martino’s Bridge to the Blog!

Today in class we discussed two criticisms: New Criticism and Psychoanalytic Criticism. My goal is to try to raise question of things that were discussed in class and how they can be thought about in different ways.

When looking at New Criticism, I see it as a type of close reading due to the fact that the textbook directly states that that text itself is where a reader is to find the meaning. Though, as we know thanks to authorial intent, there is always a meaning that the authors goal was to convey in the writing, but do we always know that goal?

My question is though: How often do you think that we as readers take away the same meaning from literature that the author was trying to send to us? Depending on your response, why do you think that we often have different interpretations of works? What kind of conditions do you think affect how someone perceives a work of literature?

This is very apparent even on the class blog page already. Multiple different people have different questions and theories on “The Great Gatsby.” Writing things like “Is Jay Gatsby Black?” but the real question is, why don’t all of us question this or see it in the writing? What makes our thought processes different in finding the meanings and themes of texts?

On the other hand, Psychoanalytic Criticism looks more closely at the unresolved fears, worries and emotions within our unconscious. People commonly form defenses against these issues, leading to fears of things like abandonment and intimacy.

When looking at these two criticisms at first they appear to be completely opposite, two different goals and themes. New criticism as I previously said is revolved around a close reading of the meaning of a work and psychoanalytic is more focussed on unresolved issues in the unconscious.

Something I thought of during class though is like new criticism, psychoanalytic focusses not on what the author intended, but what the author never intended for us to other words unconscious thoughts and underlying meanings.

With that being said, are there any other deeper connections that anyone is able to make between the two? Why do you think they focus on the unintended and not the intended? Do you think all of the criticism will do so? What factors influence your response?

Brianna’s Psychoanalytic Analysis of “Warrior” and “For The Love Of a Daughter”

I chose to analyze two different songs because there are a variety of terms and ideas within psychoanalytic criticism that all contribute individually to bring the criticism together as a whole.  “Warrior” and “For The Love Of a Daughter” seemed appropriate to analyze from a psychoanalytic stand point because there are multiple hidden messages within the lyrics used by Demi Lovato.

According to Lois Tyson, “the unconscious is the storehouse of those painful experiences and emotions, those wounds, fears, guilty desires, and unresolved conflict we do not want to know because we feel like we will be overwhelmed by them” (Tyson 12). These songs represent Demi’s unconscious. They bring to life her greatest fears, her most painful experiences and the wounds she carries, whether they be visible or not. Instead of repressing her thoughts and expunge them from her mind, she brings them out through her music. The painful experiences do not appear to be able to be pushed aside, so instead they act as “designers” of her current life. The lyrics in these two songs give listeners a feeling of pain and hurt when listening to the tone of the music, though is one listens closely enough, the word usage does too.

Lois Tyson pointed out the example that if someone didn’t receive the love from a alcoholic father, they are likely to seek love in someone who is an alcoholic..seeking the love they were to never receive from their father, not realizing how self destructive that action was. That example alone led me to choosing the first song, “For The Love Of a Daughter” as a result of these lyrics:

“Please, father/
Put the bottle down
For the love of a daughter/
It’s been five years
Since we’ve spoken last/
And you can’t take back
What we never had”

Demi is crying out for her father to stop his ways being an alcoholic. The words “and you can’t take back what we never had..” foreshadow the lack of love and affection between her and her father. The lyrics also represent the lack of relationship between the two, due to his self-destructive ways. Demi captivates two important concepts in psychoanalytic criticism: abandonment and family. Thanks to her fathers selfish actions, she will forever face abandonment issues and as a consequence will settle on relationships with men to fill the void her father left inside her.

“Oh, I can be manipulated
Only so many times/
Before even “I love you”
Starts to sound like a lie”

There are multiple different types of defenses that contribute to this criticism’s overall theme. The purpose of defenses are to keep the unconscious thoughts where they belong, out of sight and out of mind. One of the defenses is a fear of intimacy. Otherwise known as “the fear of emotional involvement with another human” (Tyson 15). In “For The Love Of a Daughter” the lines even “I love you start to sound like a lie” represent Demi’s fear of love and intimacy. With all of the hurt and pain her father has caused her, she has formed emotional distance and is not allowing herself to get close to him by believing even ‘I love you’ is now a lie.

“There’s a part of me I can’t get back/
A little girl grew up too fast/
All it took was once, I’ll never be the same”

As explained by Lois Tyson, core issues aren’t just a “‘bad hair day,’ they stay with us throughout life and determine our behavior” (Tyson 17). A considerable amount of Demi’s core issues can be found in the lyrics “a little girl grew up too fast.” The pain and struggles she faced in her life will be held close to her heart forever, whether she acknowledges the presence of them or not. The struggles made her grow up too fast, shaping her actions during childhood and teenage years around the issues she previously experienced.

“I’ve got shame, I’ve got scars
That I will never show”

The lyrics “that I will never show” represent a sort of attempt at repressing her past experiences. By not showing her scars Demi is attempting to expunge these issues from her conscious mind, with the idea of “out of sight, out of mind.” Psychoanalytic criticism is all about unresolved emotions and fears, directly found in both pieces of music by Demi.

Lovato, Demi. For The Love Of a Daughter. Demi Lovato. Toby Gad, 2009. MP3.

Lovato, Demi. Warrior. Demi Lovato. Emanuel Kiriakou, 2013. MP3.

Tyson, Lois. Critical Theory Today: A User-friendly Guide. New York: Garland Pub., 1999. Print.

Great Gatsby for the 3rd time?

Coming from a High School that was very big on reading different types of literature, this course  has now allowed me to come across reading The Great Gatsby for the third time now (not complaining at all though!). Because in this time around, I feel as though I have  learned how to read novels more critically and find myself analyzing basic themes and common attributes of major characters way more than in the past.

With that being said the biggest thing that stuck out to me this time around was the common thread that makes Gatsby and George so alike, even though it may not be under the best circumstances. Both Jay and George have such love for the woman in their lives, whether it be for Daisy or for Myrtle. They are ultimately dreamers. Two men who live their lives with unconditional love for women that are both in love with Tom Wilson.

This stuck out to me because Tom appears to be such a arrogant man, who doesn’t care about much. While Jay may have not acquired his wealth in the most legal manner, driven by his love for Daisy, he would do anything to impress her and “win” her love over. And Tom may not have a lot of money, but the death of Myrtle sends him into a long state of grief. These two men may not have it all for-say, but they do have love and compassion, which appears to be something Tom is lacking quite greatly.

This makes me really wonder, why do women go after the men who can give them the material things, but not the love and unconditional support they truly need to survive deep down? Or in other words, why do women always appear to go for the “bad boys,” rather then the men who may not have it all, but will give them everything they have? And this goes to show in not only the 1920’s but in todays century.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2013. Print.