It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.



It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.

Never stop learning because life never stop Teaching

Never stop learning because life never stop Teaching

Monday, 24 June 2013

great Minds--

Thursday, 23 May 2013

painter ..John Ashbery

John Ashbery

painter ..John Ashbery
critically Notes

The best part about this poem is that it can be interpreted in any way you would like.

He repeats the word "canvas" 7 times, "portrait" 8 times, "buildings" 7 times, "brush" 7 times, "subject" 7 times, and "prayer" 7 times.

The artist is sitting out in front of the sea, imagining what he wants his protrait to look like. He expected ideas to come out so he could draw the sea, but he sat there in silence.
 He didn't end up painting anything until the people who lived in the buildings told him to select a new subject to write about, something that may fit his mood better.
He picked to draw his wife, but he never ended up drawing her because she is art already, like ruined buildings.
 Unsatisfied, he went back to the sea and wished for his ideas to come out from his soul already.
"Imagine the painter crusified by his subject!" means, imagine a man so powerful, who can draw anything he sees, be taken aback by the thing he is supposed to be drawing. Picture a man whose soul is so strong, yet he doesn't know how to put it on a canvas.
He looked back at the other artists, and said there is no way they can get the sea to sit still so they could paint it.
 "Others declared it a self portrait" means, whatever he drew came from his soul. What he put on the canvas, was what he was. He drew nothing.
 They threw away the portrait from the tallest building.

The "portrait" in this case can symbolize any type of worry, since the artist danced around his portrait for the longest time, ended up drawing nothing, getting annoyed, and just throwing it out. Nothing good can come from worrying, and you just have to let go. It can also stand for life.
 The sea, can be the bigger picture. The man was trying to draw the sea, but he could never get it to sit still because things keep changing. When he didn't draw the sea, and others declared it a self-portrait, it's saying that the man wasn't consumed by the bigger picture (other people).

Like I said, this poem is open for debate. You can interpret it any way you like. I think as long as you have a good analysis and reasoning, your teacher will accept it and even praise you for thinking on your own outside of the box. There's no right or wrong answer, and you can't find it on the internet. It's up to you what you want this poem to mean.


Critically evaluate the poem, The Painter by John Ashbery. (P.U. 2006)


In The Painter, Ashbery touches upon some of the basic concepts in imitative arts. He does not attempt a poetic reconciliation of the warring schools of criticism. Rather he presents a situation in which the artistic creativity may come in direct conflict with the demands of modern society. The poem presents the situation of an artist who wants to paint the sea. His ambition is to present the sea rather than paint it. He wants that “nature, not art, might usurp the canvas”. Ashbery concludes that such an ambition would result in a total denial of modern urban values and would be met with violent rejection.

Ashbery establishes a relation between the sea and the buildings in the very beginning of the poem. The artist sits between the symbols of nature and the urban jungle of cement and steel. He was enjoying his work and expected that his subject would easily yield to creative reproduction, but his expectations were thwarted. Reality refused to be captured so easily by art. Ashbery compares his ambition to children’s view of prayer showing the simplicity of his desire. Ashbery contrasts the artist’s expectation to realistic theory of art asserting that even the most naturalistic presentation of life is still not nature as it exists in a different medium which changes its attributes. The artist with this realization is unable to present reality and so “there was never any paint on the canvas”.

Ashbery contrasts the artist with the people in the buildings. He emphasizes the basic difference between their modes of thinking. They want to “put him to work” desiring him to paint something less “angry and large”, something “more subject to a painter’s mood”. It is obvious that they consider art to be an imitative skill in the service of urban, commercial interests. It is “more subject to…a prayer” or as one may say ‘an order’. The concept of presentation of reality in the sense that reality may actually “usurp” the canvas is alien to them.

The artist’s choosing his wife for a subject and making her “vast” is Ashbery’s way of defining bathos. Ashbery being a gay poet could hardly have expressed matrimonial love in any other way. However this time it was as if the portrait “Had expressed itself without a brush”. With this encouragement the artist now arises to paint with seawater, letting the medium of reality to be the medium of artistic expression. This was as if the artistic creation would “wreck the canvas”, putting an end to the illusion of presentation and letting the reality to be expressed without any alien medium of expression.

This new mode of creation in which the artist is overtaken by his subject is blasphemous to the people in the buildings who consider it to be the case of “a painter crucified by his subject”. Others declare it to be the egotistical expression of the artist’s self and not presentation of reality.

The work of the artist is such that “all indication of subject began to fade”. Immaculate reality untouched with art is the final expression and provokes a destructive violent response form the people of the buildings. The portrait is tossed into the sea where it becomes one with its subject and thus the expression of the subject remains a prayer.

The poem presents many contrasting views related to art and its relation to reality and society. Ashbery finds an appropriate locale for the presentation of ideological discord. The artist sits between the sea and the buildings, i.e., between nature and the urban civilization. The buildings are tall and overcrowded, apt representation of overpopulated urban scene. The tallness of the buildings also reflects the way the people look down upon the artist. But the artist has his back to the buildings. His independence of thought is met with advice from the buildings. People want to “put him to work”. Ashbery with his usual figurative way of presentation makes the artist paint his wife whom he makes “vast, like ruined buildings”. He very cleverly hides whether the portrait of the wife was made in paint on the canvas or if it was a real-life portrait.

The poem makes use of figurative language throughout thus making every simple detail stand for a more complex thought related with theory of art. Phrases like “sea’s portrait, plaster its own portrait on the canvas, the brush as means to an end, usurp the canvas. As if forgetting itself the portrait, had expressed itself without a brush, wrecks the canvas, crucified by his subject, all indications of a subject began to fade, to howl, that was also a prayer, the sea devoured the canvas and the brush”, all have figurative meanings expressing or reflecting significant artistic concepts. Ashbery uses the word prayer several times, in this poem every time meaning something different. The artist’s prayer and the people’s howl which was also a prayer have contrasted meanings and so Ashbery uses the same word to mean different things to show how reality can be seen from many different perspectives.


Critical Analysis of the “The Painter” by John Ashbery

Ashbery makes a genuine effort to portray the poetic vision of an artist’s mind by concentrating on the dictum "ut pictura poesis"--"as is painting, so is poetry". Through poetry he glorifies a mere painter’s struggle to find his true artistic form and inclination towards a specific way of being creative in The Painter.
“For some people the fear of inner torment is such that the desire to create has to be repressed: ‘He does not embark on any serious pursuits commensurate with his gifts lest he fails to be a brilliant success. He would like to write or paint but does not dare to start’ (Horney 107). Or if the desire to create is not repressed, the creative process will be wracked with anxiety or hampered by self torment.” This quote from the book Therapeutic dimensions of autobiography in creative writing by Celia Hunt aptly captures to some extent the condition the painter in the poem who seems confused on whether to draw sea or not and how to capture the sea just the way it was.
A similar theme is also tackled by the great American poet, Emily Dickinson. In her short poem she writes: “Artists wrestle here! /Lo, a tint Cashmere! /Lo, a Rose! /Student of the Year! /For the easel here/Say Repose!” This poem lays bare the face that the artist always juggles with his tools and crafts in order to create what he wants. For him to relax is unthinkable likewise the painter in the poem faces a lot of troubles in making this special piece of art (the sea). The painter seems to self actualize himself by materializing the urge to paint a portrait of the sea which will give the chaos of his creative world a poetic and appeasing feeling.
Ashbery is known for his surrealist poetry and in The Painter he uses his skill to masterfully create connections between varied images. Using the modified form of sestina (last words of the verses are mostly changed) he is able to make these images jump into a creative hotchpotch. But the irony of the poem is that the artist portrayed in the poem seems to go through a rough patch in his life yet the creativity by which the poet himself writes speaks volume of it; the poet is able to create with the painter in the poem a smooth imagery of an artist’s struggle towards his creative independence -- a mere human’s effort to fight for what he deems right. For his creative vision to evolve he goes against all the odds set by the society. Ashbery was himself a painter and his surrealist automatic writing in the poem seems to give power to the automatic drawing the painter is trying to achieve in the poem, as the artist wishes: “he expected his subject/ To rush up the sand, and, seizing a brush,/ Plaster its own portrait on the canvas.
Interpretation of this poem is complicated. On the surface level one can judge what is happening but on a deeper level the reader may not be able to interpret the unfathomable depth. One reason quite evident is the surrealism employed. Just like the artist’s mind the poem is also free of conscious control. It takes on its own route and it paints with its own brush strokes with the artist’s creative vision.
Ashbery takes into account many aspects of syntax and rhyme in his poetry and one of it is the repetition of words. The reader may not notice immediately about it but after a careful examination it comes to light that, Ashbery repeats the word "canvas", "buildings", "brush", "subject", "prayer" seven times and "portrait" eight times in the poem. This repetition creates a surrealistic effect in the poem.
The painter in the poem is on the beach and contemplates his tempestuous subject. Sea here symbolizes the freedom, the chaos, the harmony of the waves and the creative space for the painter. The sea symbolizes freedom as it liberates the painter from the hustle bustle of the city life behind him (“the building”). The painter is like a child imagining a prayer. His innocent imagination muses over what to draw on his canvas. Though the painter loves to paint the sea but he is confused by the daunting question of how to draw and live in one’s own creative vision, how to capture the universe around us. Even though he has brush in his hand but his canvas seems empty, this paint-less canvas brings out the fact that the painter himself has lost his creative vision, or he is going through the phase of imagination blockage and he is unable to take a plunge into mind's eye where haphazard brushes could be waved like a magic wand and a beauty of its own kind would emerge into a classic piece of art. His lack of strength to take on a decision leads the people around him to take control of his mind. They ask him to make a portrait of “Something less angry and large”, that is to say; do not draw the sea due to its turbulent nature and gargantuan effect which is unfathomable by human mind to capture. The painter seemed unable to convey “his prayer” to the people that he wants “nature, not art, [to] usurp the canvas”.
The skillful painter then tries to paint his wife. He does that without really making a creative endeavour because she seemed a ruined building in the first place that is not something he would want to paint. He does make an attempt, though unwillingly. It is throttling to the painter as an artist is a free will creature and no matter what happens he has to go to his roots of desire that is he has to be a creative by not conforming to traditionalists. He has to fulfill his urge to create his own tradition. His desire to go back to the sea appears to be the only right thing to do.
"Imagine the painter crucified by his subject." signifies a powerful figure that could draw faultlessly the things he see, and be astonished and spiritualized by the creative vision he has with the drawing. The painter in the poem proves his creative vision and creative authority when “He provoked some artists leaning from the buildings”; suggesting their eagerness to stick to the roots; the traditional way of painting. The poet clearly implies that the traditional painters are bent towards following an authority by which they could judge the painter and his work.
The people, the critics and the painters of traditional sort did not appreciate the effort of the painter and thus life’s way of taking the unconventional approach irrationally by not getting accepted by his own people fell upon the painter as they threw the portrait of the sea from the tallest building. This "portrait" symbolizes something that the people, the critics and the painters of his age were not able to handle the pressure posit on them by the painter or his creative vision of the sea. Such non-conformist and cavalier attitude is also visible in Ashbery’s life, as he nonchalantly says that his goal is "to produce a poem that the critic cannot even talk about.”In the end of the poem “the sea devoured the canvas and the brush”. It signifies that the portrait drawn by a mere artist cannot be fathomed by man himself because chaos of the sea is unfathomable and it was as if “his subject had decided to remain a prayer”. Thus the freedom and turbulence the sea entails with it consumes man’s creation as well. The chaos of the world cannot be painted in a canvas, at least people around them would not let the painter do that, yet his creative drive would urge him to create what he instinctively desires. Neither the painter would stop nor the chaos around him would end. The cycle of life would go on like this.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

If you feel like your ship is sinking,

If you feel like your ship is sinking, it might be a good time to throw out the stuff that's been weighing it down. Let go of what is bringing you down and surround yourself with what brings out the best in you.

Life is really beautiful

Shakespear says,
"Life is really beautiful when your family understands you as a friend
And Your friends support you as a family.

The Door of the Almighty.

When you think all your doors are closed, it's because you haven't yet knocked at the right door. The Door of the Almighty.


Monday, 20 May 2013

Giving up doesn't always mean you are weak.

"Giving up doesn't always mean you are weak. . . . .
sometimes it means that you are strong enough to let go." 

Success is not final

"Success is not final, Failure is not fatal, it is the Courage to contiue that counts."

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Robert Browning: Obscurity ...

Robert Browning: Obscurity

uch ink has been spilt in proving and disproving that Browning is an obscure poet. It is hard to absolve Browning of the charge of unintelligibility and difficulty. In his own age, he was considered very difficult and obscure and hence could not achieved popularity and recognition like his contemporary Tennyson. "Sordellow" was regarded as more obscure than any other poem in the English language. Mrs. Carlyle read the poem and could not judge whether 'Sordellow' was a man, or a city, or a book. Douglas Jerrold, after reading it said:

My God! I am an idiot. My health is restored, but my mind is gone.

Browning certainly is a very difficult poet. Dawson calls him "the Carlyle of poetry". Various reasons are given for the obscurity and difficulty of his poetry. According to some critics, obscurity of Browning's poetry is
… a piece of intellectual vanity indulged in more and more insolently as his years and fame increased".

But as Chesterton points out:

All the records of Browning's long life and caret show that he was at all vain. All his contemporaries agree that he never talked cleverly or tried to talk cleverly which is always the case with a man who is intellectually vain. It is psychologically improbable that the poet, made his poems, complicated from mere pride of his powers and contempt of his readers.

According to the learned critic:

Browning was not unintelligible because he was proud, but unintelligible because he was humble.

He was humble enough to think that what he knew was quite commonplace and was known even to the man in the street. His own concepts were quite clear to him that he found nothing difficult or profound in them.

It is fantastic, it is grotesque, and it is enigmatic but there is nothing philosophical about it. Browning is not obscure because he is philosophical poet; the real reasons of his obscurity lie elsewhere. In the passage in question, the obscurity arises from Browning's use of the unfamiliar and unusual 'Murex', the key-word in the passage and essential for its understanding. More other than not, the key-word in a passage is missing and so it becomes dark and obscure.

Obscurity in Browning's poetry results not from any one reason but from a number of reasons.

Browning had a very high conception of his own calling. He once wrote to a friend:
I never designedly tried to puzzle people as some of my critics have supposed.

He believed that a poet should try to put "the infinite within the finite". It is not a kind of poetry to be read merely to while way a leisure hour.

Browning was a highly original genius and his poetry was entirely different from contemporaries.

Browning's dramatic monologues are soul studies; they study the shifting moods and changing thoughts of a developing soul. It is always soul dissection, it is thought, thought and thought; and thought all the way. It is always "interior landscape" with no chronology or background. Obviously such poetry is bound to be difficult. Browning's long, argumentative and philosophical poems are tiresome and boring.

This difficulty of comprehension is further increased by the fact that he was interested in the queerest human soul, and tried to probe the odd and the abnormal in human psychology. "He sought the sinners whom even the sinners had cast out", and tried to show that even they might be generous and humane. He tried to reveal the essential nobility and humanity even of a mean impostor.

Browning was a very learned poet. His schooling was mostly private and so his learning was more profound and thorough than of those who have been educated at school. He knew in detail the history and geography not of one country, but of a number of countries. Many of his poems require knowledge of medieval history and of Italian history.

There is frequent use of Latin expressions and quotations; there are illusions to little known literary, mythological, historical sources and information of Medieval and Renaissance art and culture of Europe. Browning sought his object in many lands.

Often Browning's metaphors, similes and illustrations are far-fetched and recondite as in "Two in the Campagna" and in "Memorabilia".

Often Browning's writes a telegraphic style. Relative, prepositions, articles, even pronouns are left out. It might be that his pen failed to keep pace with the rush of his ideas, but such telegraphic style is certainly confusing and bewildering for his readers.

Browning's frequent inversions and the use of long, involved sentences, heavily overloaded with parentheses, create almost insurmountable difficulties in the way of his readers. In poems like "The Grammarian's Funeral", he not only buries the grammarian but also grammar.

Frequently, he coins new words, uses unusual compounds and expressions and is too colloquial, jerky, abrupt and rugged.

When his "Sordellow" first appeared, he was accused of verbosity and since then he made it his rule to use only two words where ten were needed. He admits this complexity of his poetry in "Rabbi Ben Ezra".

Thoughts hardly, to be packed
Into a narrow act,
Fancies that broke through language and escaped;

However, the obscurity of Browning's poetry must not be exaggerated. As Duffin, points out, the majority of Browning's shorter poems are read as easily as the verse of Tennyson. Poems like "Evelyn Hope", "The Last Rise Together", "The Patriot", "Prophyria's Lover", "Prospice", "My Last Duchess", "Home Thoughts, from Abroad" etc are perfectly lucid and simple. The intelligent reader can enjoy most of his lyrics and longer poems in blank verse after a little mental adjustment. Even in these thorniest poems there are passages of great originality and eloquence of classical beauty and easy comprehension.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Arnold as the poet of Victorian unrest

Arnold as the poet of Victorian unrest

Arnold belonged and hence he is referred to as the poet of Victorian unrest. Victorian age was the period of material prosperity, the expansion of democracy and the growth of science which had hardly any appeal to him. He is certainly more violent than anybody else to the spiritual distress of his age and this is why he is called a poet Victorian unrest and spiritual distress which is clearly shown in his poetry.

In his famous poem 'Doves beach', he reacted more violently to the spiritual distress and meaningless of his age. He says religion and traditional values are east dying out. Materialism, scepticism and agnosticism are the order of the day. Men do not find comfort and happiness in Arid world .he says,
"Hath really neither joy nor love nor light
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;"

To him, contemporary life had on meaning or direction .life to him appears to be full of darkness and gloom and he feels like a benighted traveler in a foreign land without any light of hope.
"And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies slash by night."

It is the world of Science and people are sceptical. Their minds are disturbed by the new scientific thoughts. It is now leaving the world barren and dry with the declining of faith, men are getting more and more materialistic. He, therefore, could not help being a poet of skeptical reaction. Once the sea of religion was full but now Arnold has complained about the religious belief of Victorian age-
"The Sea of faith
War once, too at the full and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd
But now I only hear
Its long, melancholy, withdrawing roar"

In the Victorian age, religious belief has disappeared; doubt and disbelief have combined to force back the wave of faith from the share of the world. And the world is now like a coast on which bole pebbles lie about in complete desolation.

In his another poem "The Scholar Gypsy" we also find the atmosphere of the Victorian unrest as well as spiritual distress. He says Victorian people only come and gone, and are completely lost in oblivion. They are materialistic and they have no fixed ideal to pursue.They are engaged in various experiments and have not the patience to stick to anything. They fail in their experiments and feel weak and miserable as a result of a series of shocks. They lose their vitality and elasticity of spirit
"'Tis that from change to change their beings roles;
'Tis that repeated shocks, again, again,
Exhaust the energy of strongest souls
And numb the elastic powers"(141-144)

The Victorians suffered from all lines of distraction, despair and frustration, and that is why they were always feeling different about the success of their quest.

The acute spiritual distress is found among the Victorians. The religious faith of the Victorians is casual. They have never thought about religion. He says about them
"and we,
Light half believers of our casual Creeds.
Who never deeply felt, oms clearly will'd"

The Victorian people's spiritual loss is evident in these lines
"... this stange disease of modern life,
With its pick hurry, its divided aims."

Victorians have no singleness purpose. They run after many hares and catch none. They caunch an experiment today, and abandon it tomorrow and they therefore, suffer from a series of shocks of disappointment. They advance one step to day and go two steps backward tomorrow:
... Each year we see
Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new;
Who hesitate and falter life away,
And kore to-morrow the ground won today.

Victorians do not know the meaning and purpose of life. They even can't face the baffling problems of life with stoical forbearance. They can never hope to attain the serenity and bliss.
The Victorian age suffered from a strange disease called modern life, which has brought in its wake sordid materialism and scepticism. They are madly pursuing wealth like the willo the wisp
...the strange disease of modern life,
With its pick hurry, its divided aims,
its heads overtax'd, its palsied hearts, was rife,

This disease of modern man is due to his preoccupation with his hectic world of business away from spiritual and moral pursuit, and so the poet advises the scholar Gipsy to keep away from such a restless and noisy world.

Like other poems, in "Thyrsis" he also weighs his age in the balance, and finds it wanting. Here Arnold laments for his friend who was the Victim of Victorian age. Under the bad effects of this age he was drawn into the vortex of a religious controversy. His simple faith was darkened by doubts and despair. He was sick of materialism and scepticism and left Oxford, and eventually left the world,
"Yet hadst thou always visions of our light,
And long with men of care thou couldst not stay,
And soon thy foot resumed 'tis wandering way
Left human haunt and on alone till night."

In this poem, the materialism of the Victorians is very well disparaged when the poet with subdued sarcasm says that materialism can never lead to truth and spiritualism.
"This doesn't come with houses or with gold,
With place, with honour. And a flattering crow;
'Tis not in the world's market bought and sold"

Arnold the poet, therefore, is a poet of "the hopeless tangle of the age." in his poetry as a whole, and sometimes in every line of his poems, Arnold proclaims himself a man who was dissatisfied with the Victorian age. R.H.Hutton, summing up Arnold's poetry says, "No one has expressed more powerfully and poetically its spiritual weakness, its craving for a passion that it can't feel, its admiration for a self mastery that it can't achieve, its desire for a creed that it fails to accept, its sympathy with a faith that it well not share, its aspiration for a peace it doesn't know."

Touchstone Method..

Touchstone Method

In the study of poetry, Arnold delineates his idea of excellent poetry and formulates a practical method for identifying the true poetry -this method is named by him the Touchstone method. According to this method the specimens of the very highest quality of poetry are compared to the specimens of the work of poetry under study and conclusions are drawn in favour or against the work. This method requires to keep in ones mind lines and expressions of the great masters, and apply them as a touchstone to other poetical works.

In order to find the truly excellent poetry, we should form a real estimate of poetryl as opposed to "historical estimate "and personal estimate “. Both historical and personal estimates go in vein. He argues us not to be misled by the historic and personal estimates while judging poetry. Arnold says than the personal estimate should be eschewed because it will lead to wrong judgments. The historic estimate or judging a poet from the point of view of his importance in the course of literary history is also not a true judgment of a poet. Its historical importance may make us rate the work as higher than it really deserves. "the course of development of a nation's language, thought, and, poetry is profoundly interesting, and by regarding a poet’s work as a stage in this course of development, we may easily bring ourselves to make it of more importance as poetry than in itself it really is." Arnold gives a concrete example of the fallacies of the historical approach. Caedmon's position is important in the historical sense but it would be wrong to hold him in the same level as Milton poetically because of this historical position.

Arnold offers his theory of touchstone method to form a real estimate of poetry in distinguishing a real classic from a dubious classic and form a real estimate of poetry; one should have the ability to distinguish a real classic. He says "a dubious classic, let us shift him; if he is a false classic, let us explode him . But he is a real classic, if his works belong to the class of the very best, then the great thing for us to feel and enjoy his work as deeply as ever we can." A best classic is recognized by placing it beside the known classics of the world. Those known classics can serve as the touch stood by which the merits of contemporary poetic work can be tested. This is the central idea of Arnold's touchstone method.

Arnold suggests that a reader should always have in his mind lines and expressions of the great masters of poetry and that these lines should be applied as touchstone to judge other poetry. The poetry need not resemble these lines and expressions, they may be very different applied with fact and care, can help us "detect the presence or absence of high poetic quality and also the degree of this quality, in all other poetry which we may place beside them ".

Arnold illustrates his point in giving short passages and even single lines from Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton as models for judging the order of excellence in a modern poet or a work. These are Arnold’s touchstones gathered from the work of the greatest classics of European literature in his time. He gives Shakespeare’s lines of Henry the fourth's expostulation with sleep

"Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
Seal up the ship boy's eyes, and rock his brains
In cradle of the rude imperious surge . . .”

Then Miltonic passage
"Darken'd so ,yet shone
Above them all the archangel; but his face
Deep sears of thunder had intrench’d, and care
Sat on his faded check . . ."

“And courage never to submit or yield
And what is else not to be overcome . . ."

Arnold believes that even a single line if it is good would do: “In la sua volun tade e nostra pace".

Arnold shows this how this method is to be made use of . He first quotes few lines from Chaucer and says Chaucer is found to be lacking of high seriousness. By using one line from Dante ,"In la sua volun tade e nostra pace" as a touchstone and by comparing Chaucer 's line with that he concludes that "the substance of Chaucer 's poetry ,his view of things and his criticism of life ,has largeness ,freedom shrewdness ,benignity, but it has not this high seriousness"

Arnold applies the touchstone method for determining the worth of the works of Dryden and Pope and comes to the conclusion that though they can be called the classics of poetry .And also taking lines from Chaucer

"My throat is cut Unto my nekke-bone
Saide this child, and as by way of kinde
I should have deyd,yea,longe time agone;” as a touchstone and by comparing with some lines of

“My throat unto the bone I trow ,
said this young child ,and by the law of kind
I should have died yea, many hours ago" he concludes that the charm of Chaucer’s lines are most attractive than Wordsworth.

Again Arnold has used touchstone method by comparing Dryden with Milton "When we find Milton writing :And long it was not after, when I was confirmed in this opinion, that he, who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things, ought himself to be a true poem, is obsolete....” But when Dryden tells us: "what Virgil wrote in the vigour of his age, in plenty and at ease, I have undertaken to tramplkt in my declining years." Then we find Dryden is a true English prose writer.”

We see that Arnold had introduced a very novel and practical device to detect the order of excellence on a given poem. Explaining this method we can find that "there can be no mare useful help for discovering what poetry belongs to the class of the truly excellent, and can therefore do us most good, than to have always in one's mind lives and expressions of the great masters and to apply them as a touchtone to other poetry." 

Six rules of happiness:

Six rules of happiness:

1. Don't hate others simply because they have wronged you.

2. Combat worry by having hope in the Almighty and praying excessively.

3. Live simply no matter how high your status may rise.

4. Expect goodness no matter how many tests you may face.

5. Be generous even if you feel a slight loss.

6. Smile, even if your heart may be sad.See More

look in the mirror!

If you're still looking for that one person who can change your life, take a look in the mirror!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Aristotle's Concept of Catharsis

Aristotle's Concept of Catharsis

Aristotle writes that the function of tragedy is to arouse the emotions of pity and fear, and to affect the Katharsis of these emotions. Aristotle has used the term Katharsis only once, but no phrase has been handled so frequently by critics, and poets. Aristotle has not explained what exactly he meant by the word, nor do we get any help from the Poetics. For this reason, help and guidance has to be taken from his other works. Further, Katharsis has three meaning. It means 'purgation', 'purification', and 'clarification', and each critic has used the word in one or the other senses. All agree that Tragedy arouses fear and pity, but there are sharp differences as to the process, the way by which the rousing of these emotions gives pleasure.

Katharsis has been taken as a medical metaphor, 'purgation', denoting a pathological effect on the soul similar to the effect of medicine on the body. This view is borne out by a passage in the Politics where Aristotle refers to religious frenzy being cured by certain tunes which excite religious frenzy. In Tragedy:
…pity and fear, artificially stirred the latent pity and fear which we bring with us from real life.
In the Neo-Classical era, Catharsis was taken to be an allopathic treatment with the unlike curing unlike. The arousing of pity and fear was supposed to bring about the purgation or 'evacuation' of other emotions, like anger, pride etc. As Thomas Taylor holds:
We learn from the terrible fates of evil men to avoid the vices they manifest.
F. L. Lucas rejects the idea that Katharsis is a medical metaphor, and says that:
The theatre is not a hospital.
Both Lucas and Herbert Reed regard it as a kind of safety valve. Pity and fear are aroused, we give free play to these emotions which is followed by emotional relief. I. A. Richards' approach to the process is also psychological. Fear is the impulse to withdraw and pity is the impulse to approach. Both these impulses are harmonized and blended in tragedy and this balance brings relief and repose.

The ethical interpretation is that the tragic process is a kind of lustration of the soul, an inner illumination resulting in a more balanced attitude to life and its suffering. Thus John Gassner says that a clear understanding of what was involved in the struggle, of cause and effect, a judgment on what we have witnessed, can result in a state of mental equilibrium and rest, and can ensure complete aesthetic pleasure. Tragedy makes us realize that divine law operates in the universe, shaping everything for the best.

During the Renaissance, another set of critics suggested that Tragedy helped to harden or 'temper' the emotions. Spectators are hardened to the pitiable and fearful events of life by witnessing them in tragedies.

Humphrey House rejects the idea of 'purgation' and forcefully advocates the 'purification' theory which involves moral instruction and learning. It is a kind of 'moral conditioning'. He points out that, 'purgation means cleansing'.

According to 'the purification' theory, Katharsis implies that our emotions are purified of excess and defect, are reduced to intermediate state, trained and directed towards the right objects at the right time. The spectator learns the proper use of pity, fear and similar emotions by witnessing tragedy. Butcher writes:
The tragic Katharsis involves not only the idea of emotional relief, but the further idea of purifying the emotions so relieved.
The basic defect of 'purgation' theory and 'purification' theory is that they are too much occupied with the psychology of the audience. Aristotle was writing a treatise not on psychology but on the art of poetry. He relates 'Catharsis' not to the emotions of the spectators but to the incidents which form the plot of the tragedy. And the result is the "clarification" theory.

The paradox of pleasure being aroused by the ugly and the repellent is also the paradox involved in tragedy. Tragic incidents are pitiable and fearful.

They include horrible events as a man blinding himself, a wife murdering her husband or a mother slaying her children and instead of repelling us produce pleasure. Aristotle clearly tells us that we should not seek for every pleasure from tragedy, "but only the pleasure proper to it". 'Catharsis' refers to the tragic variety of pleasure. The Catharsis clause is thus a definition of the function of tragedy, and not of its emotional effects on the audience.

Imitation does not produce pleasure in general, but only the pleasure that comes from learning, and so also the peculiar pleasure of tragedy. Learning comes from discovering the relation between the action and the universal elements embodied in it. The poet might take his material from history or tradition, but he selects and orders it in terms of probability and necessity, and represents what, "might be". He rises from the particular to the general and so is more universal and more philosophical. The events are presented free of chance and accidents which obscure their real meaning. Tragedy enhances understanding and leaves the spectator 'face to face with the universal law'.

Thus according to this interpretation, 'Catharsis' means clarification of the essential and universal significance of the incidents depicted, leading to an enhanced understanding of the universal law which governs human life and destiny, and such an understating leads to pleasure of tragedy. In this view, Catharsis is neither a medical, nor a religious or moral term, but an intellectual term. The term refers to the incidents depicted in the tragedy and the way in which the poet reveals their universal significance.

The clarification theory has many merits. Firstly, it is a technique of the tragedy and not to the psychology of the audience. Secondly, the theory is based on what Aristotle says in the Poetics, and needs no help and support of what Aristotle has said in Politics and Ethics. Thirdly, it relates Catharsis both to the theory of imitation and to the discussion of probability and necessity. Fourthly, the theory is perfectly in accord with current aesthetic theories.

According to Aristotle the basic tragic emotions are pity and fear and are painful. If tragedy is to give pleasure, the pity and fear must somehow be eliminated. Fear is aroused when we see someone suffering and think that similar fate might befall us. Pity is a feeling of pain caused by the sight of underserved suffering of others. The spectator sees that it is the tragic error or Hamartia of the hero which results in suffering and so he learns something about the universal relation between character and destiny.

To conclude, Aristotle's conception of Catharsis is mainly intellectual. It is neither didactic nor theoretical, though it may have a residual theological element. Aristotle's Catharsis is not a moral doctrine requiring the tragic poet to show that bad men come to bad ends, nor a kind of theological relief arising from discovery that God's laws operate invisibly to make all things work out for the best.

Humor in Addison’s essays

Humor in Addison’s essays

Humour in Addison’s essays is chiefly ironical and satirical. Humour and irony are related very closely in his essays. In most of the time, it is seen, where humour is expressed, he expresses that ironically. Moreover, his laughter is intended to mend, correct and rectify follies and absurdities. Irony in his essays is one of the best weapons of satire and it is a chief ingredient of humour. Courthope says, "The essence of Addison’s humour is irony." But he is more concerned with instructions and reforms than with pure entertainment. He attacks man's vices, follies which are found in his own speech. He says, "I would not willingly to laugh but in order to instruct", and accordingly, he produces laughter with the declared and avowed purpose of laughing men out of folly, vices and impertience. Even his humorous anecdotes have a satirical tone.

In his essays (especially in Coverley Papers), he presents a notable character named, Sir Roger de Coverley, a character possessing vice and virtues at the same time, who had no physical existence but symbolic existence. And in order to maintain the special technique, Addison sometime praises the character outwardly but inwardly these praises become ironic, satiric and humorous as well.

However, Sir Roger de Coverley essays, considering its subject and matter, can be called a eulogy of Sir Roger. But as we go deep and read it critically, we must find humoristic expressions of Addison about Sir Roger and Sir Roger is criticized ironically in many times. Addison shows that though Sir Roger is a lovable and honorable man, he has comic side. And everything is delineated very sharply in there essays.

But the irony in the De Coverley essays is not in the least offensive or hurtful. The oddities and eccentricities of Sir Roger are ironically conveyed to us, but irony is employee in a most humorous manner. We laugh at Sir Roger's absurd behaviour at the assize and at the church, but we also develop feelings of respect and love for him because of his humanity, charity and generosity. Ridicule (by means of irony) is combined wit respect in the portrayal of Sir Roger.

Humour is abound in "Sir Roger at Church". Here most of the time, humour is expressed in the form of irony. The follies, oddities of Sir roger are the chief elements of humour. His authoritative power sometimes leads him to become a funny man.

Addison shows that Sir Roger is eccentric to some extent. In this essay we find its full expression. In this essay his eccentricities and oddities are seen in which he exercises his authority. He wanted that his tenants should behave well in the church. He allows nobody to sleep in the church during sermon but he himself did so. Sometimes when everybody is upon their knees, he would stand up and start counting the number of the tenants. Here Addison says, "As Sir Roger is landlord to the whole congregation, he keeps them in good order and will suffer nobody to sleep in it besides himself". Moreover, he "sometime stands up when every body else is upon their knees, to count the congregation, or see if any of his tenants are missing". As he is the landlord, he doesn't care about anybody. It creates humour and we laugh at his peculiarities. And Addison presents these things ironically.

Then again Addison says about Sir Roger that when he is pleased with a matter, he pronounces the word "amen" for several times. Addison says. "...half a minute after the rest of the congregation have done with it; sometimes when he is pleased with a matter of his devotion, he pronounces amen three or four times to the same prayer".

People generally do not do any job during the time of congregation. But sometime Sir Roger gets asleep during that time and if by chance he sees anybody is dozing, he wakes him up or sends his servants to him. Sometime he shoughts to somebody and tells not to disturb the congregation. These eccentricities make us laugh. Even Sir Roger leaves the church first after finishing the congregation and no one dares leave the room before him. He goes out dividing the people into two rows and he follows the chancel between these two rows. These jobs of Sir Roger are humorous.

Apparently Addison tries to amuse the reader through the above humorous expressions but actually he satirizes the vices of Sir Roger , as sleeping in the church during sermons is a humiliation to the Christianity/church affairs.

Humour is also found in the essay "Sir Roger at Home". After getting invitation from Sir Roger for staying some days in his (Sir Roger’s) country house, Addison went to his country house. He village people went to see Addison, but Sir Roger thought it would be a disturbing act. So he forbids the country people not to get closer to Addison. Addison says,

"As I have been walking in his fields, I have observed them stealing a sight of me over a hedge, and have heard the knight desiring them not to let me see them, for that I hated to be stared at". His forbid was humorous.

Moreover, in this essay we meet with a character named Chaplain who "lives in the family (of Sir Roger) rather as a relation than a dependent". He has a great proficiency in Latin and Greek. Besides, he was good preacher possessing a clear voice. In brief, he was good person both intellectually and morally. But his master, Sir Roger was "afraid of being insulted with Latin and Greek it his own table", because he doesn't know these languages.

Then again he gives suggestion to the clergyman to be instructed by the books of other professors like St. Asaph, Dr. South etc. It is also humorous, because it is not the proper way to develop clergyman's creative faculties.

So, undoubtedly we can say that Addison's essays are abound with humour. And humour is expressed in the form of irony mostly. By the works and attitudes of Sir Roger, Addison expresses these humours. But his ultimate aim is not to make the readers laugh, rather to correct us and to instruct the society. 

your behavior

Your beliefs don’t make you
better person, your behavior

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

wasi anjum designing quotes

Monday, 6 May 2013

True Friends


be happy

don't forget

don't be sad

All our dreams can

Theme of Love in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

Theme of Love in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

In Wuthering Heights Emily Bronte has Presented the love-relationship of Heathcliff and Catherine, but not that of the other lovers as an archetype. It expresses the passionate longing to be whole, to give oneself unreservedly to another and gain a whole self or sense of identity back, to be all-in-all for each other, so that nothing else in the world matters, and to be loved in this way forever.


Their love exists on a higher or spiritual plane; they are soul mates, two people who have an affinity for each other which draws them together irresistibly. Heathcliff repeatedly calls Catherine his soul. Such a love is not necessarily fortunate or happy. For C. Day Lewis, Heathcliff and Catherine "represent the essential isolation of the soul, the agony of two souls–or rather, shall we say? Two halves of a single soul–forever sundered and struggling to unite."

Heathcliff says that "misery ,and degradation ,and death ,and nothing that God or satan could inflict would have parted us " if  Catherine had not done it herself . They know that they can't be living separately from each other. Catherine says to Heathcliff- "Stay and never go again, for every of your departure made me sick and every of your appearance brought me great cheer , great excitement ''. She also says- "Heathcliff! I only wish us never to be parted,"   when Nelly says that marriage will separate her from Heathcliff ,but Catherine replies –''don't talk of our separation -it is impractical ;" Catherine thinks that marriage will not able to divide them because " 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.'' Their love for each other is so passionate that they can not possibly live apart –'' 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.'' . He says after Catherine's death :" Be with me always — take any form — drive me mad! Only do not leave me in this abyss, where I cannot find you! Oh, God! it is unutterable! I cannot live without my life! I cannot live without my soul!''  He felt as though she had left him to live a life lonely abyss: without her, without love, without soul.


Their passionate love do not fade away with even after Catherine's death. After the death of Catherine, Heathcliff seeks her everywhere. He finds Catherine moving about the moors, hears her voice in stormy night knocking at the windows of Wuthering Height praying to be admitted in . This elusive image torments him for this long period, yet it is her shadowy presence that begins to occupy his mind more and more and drives away all other thoughts. It is the only thing that gives meaning to his life. "I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped in the flags! In every cloud, in every tree—filling the air at night, and caught by glimpses in every object by day—I am surrounded with her image!. The entire world is a dreadful collection of memoranda that she did exist, and that I have lost her!"

 Transcending isolation:

Their love is an attempt to break the boundaries of self and to fuse with another to transcend the inherent separateness of the human condition; fusion with another will by uniting two incomplete individuals create a whole and achieve new sense of identity, a complete and unified identity. This need for fusion motivates Heathcliff's determination to "absorb" Catherine's corpse into his and for them to "dissolve" into each other so thoroughly that Edgar will not be able to distinguish Catherine from him.

 True love:

A unique example of true love is displayed through the love of Heathcliff and Catherine. Its intensity builds from their childhood. The extent of this love is exemplified during Heathcliff and Catherine's interactions with each other, during Catherine's statements to Nelly, and during Catherine's death where Heathcliff and Catherine embrace for the last time. At the time of her illness she yearned for Heathcliff. After hearing the news of Heathcliff's departure, she becomes ill. But when she hears the news of his return she becomes excited and describes his return to Nelly as "The event of this evening has reconciled me to God and humanity."   Even when she was dying, whom she wanted to meet was still Heathcliff . On the contrary, she didn't remember Edgar clearly. She finds miseries in his miseries-" My great miseries in this world have been Heathcliff's miseries, and I watched and felt each from the beginning; my great thought in living is himself. 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 part of it" (Ch. ix, p. 64)." The love she had for Heathcliff remained intact, always. As she herself said "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 is like the eternal rocks beneath-a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff-he's always, always on my mind-not as pleasure, anymore than I am always a pleasure to myself-but as my own being." s". It is clear that even after marriage, she still loves him more.''

 Like Catherine, Heathcliff also loved her very much. When hearing of Catherine's illness, he exclaims-: "Existence after loosing her would be hell" In this statement, we can see the extent of Heathcliff's dedication and loyalty to Catherine and the sense of desolation her death would bring to him. His love for Catherine is shown through his devotion to her in her last moments of life . When he acknowledge "oh! Cathy !oh my life !. . . . Torments of life ?", he gives us a glimpse of the true depth of love. He also compares between him and Edgar to show his depth of love for Catherine. The passion and commitment Heathcliff displays shows '' that he has never faltered his binding soul connection with her though he was out of home for three years. ''

The novel is based around Catherine and Heathcliff's spiritual and eternal love for one another; even when Catherine dies the love between them still influences those around them. Their love is different from conventional romance between a man and a woman.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Eliot’s Depersonalization theory

Eliot’s Depersonalization theory

In "Tradition and Individual Talent", Eliot opposes the Romantic conception by advancing his theory of impersonality in art and opines that the artistic process is a process of depersonalization and that the artist will surrender himself totally to the creative work. Eliot particularly objected to the great Romantics as well as Victorians who exaggerated the need to express human personality and subjective feeling and he says, "The progress of am artist is a continual self sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality."

Eliot holds that the poet and the poem are two separate things and "that the feelings or the emotion, or vision, resulting from the poem is something different from the feeling or emotion or vision in the mind of the poet." Hence, he elucidates his theory of impersonality by examining, first, the relation of the poet to the part and secondly, the relation of the poem to its author. Eliot realizes that the past exists in the present. "No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His signification, his appreciation, is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You can value him alone. You must set him for contrast and comparison among the deads."

Eliot points out the relation of the poem to its author; and says that the poem has no relation to the poet. There is detached or alienation between the poet and his poem. The difference between the mind of a nature poet and that of am immature one is that the mind of a nature poet is "a more finely perfected medium in which special or varied feelings are at liberty to enter into new combinations". According to Eliot, the art emotion is different from personal emotion. A successful artist s he, who can generalize emotion in the reader's one while he himself seemed to be unaffected by any emotion. In the other hand he should be depersonalized in experience he describes in the poem.

Eliot brings the analogy of chemical reaction to explain the process of depersonalization. In this respect he has drawn a scientific analogy. He tells that a poet should serve the sold of platinum which makes sulphurus acid. He says, "When the two gases, previously mentioned (oxygen and Sulpher dioxide) are mixed in the presence of a filament of Platinum. They form Sulphurous acid. The combination takes place only he the Platinum is present; nevertheless, the newly formed acid contains no trace of Platinum, and the Platinum itself is apparently unaffected has remained inert, neutral, and unchanged. The mind of the poet is the shred of Platinum. It may partly or exclusively operate upon the experience of the man himself; but, the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in his will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates, the one perfectly will be the mind digest and transmute the passions which are its material."

Eliot next compares the poet's mind to a receptacle in which are stored numberless feelings, emotion, images, phases etc. , which remain there in an unorganized and chaotic form till, "all the particles which can unite to form a new compound are present together." Thus poetry is organization rather than inspiration. And the greatness of a poem does not depend upon the greatness or the intensity of the emotions, but upon the intensity of the process of poetic composition. The more intense the poetic process, the greater the poem.

He strongly believes that "the differences between art and the event are always absolute. Eliot illustrate his view by a few examples among which one is of Keats' One to a Nightingale, which contains a number of feelings which have nothing particular to do with the nightingale, but which the nightingale ,partly perhaps because it's attractive name, and partly because of it's reputation served to bring together. He illustrates his theory by a few examples. The artistic emotion evoked by Dante in his treatment of the episode of Paolo and Francesca is different from the actual emotion in the situation. The artistic emotion may approximate to the actual emotion as in Agamemnon the artistic emotion approximates to the emotion of am actual spectator; in Othello to the emotion of the protagonist himself.

Eliot believes that the main concern of the poet is not the expression of personality. He says, “the poet has, not a personality to express but a particular medium which is only a medium and a personality, in which impressions and experiences combine in peculiar and unexpected ways, impressions and experiences which are important for the may take no place in the poetry, and those which become important in the poetry may play quite a negligible part in the man, the personality”. Again, there is no need for poet to try to express new human emotions in poetry. The business of the poet. Eliot says, is not to find new emotions, but use of the ordinary ones and, in working them up in poetry, to express feelings which are not in actual emotions at all". Eliot's final definition of poetry is:"poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion: it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality."

It is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality. He emphasizes the same theory of impersonality in art. The emotion of art is impersonal. It has its life in the poem and not in the history of poets. So, honest criticism and sensitive appreciation is directed not upon the poet but upon the poetry. The poet's biography is not to be studied the structure of the poem and its evocative powers are important.

Eliot's theory of depersonalization has been criticized by critics like Ransom and Yvor Winters. Ransom regards Eliot's theory as “very neatly a doctrine of poetic automation".

To Fei Pai Lu, Eliot's theory of depersonalization is completely vague. He says, "in the name of impersonality", Eliot by turns commends and censures poets and artist.

From what we have said, above it follows that there as no connection between the poet's personality and the poem. The feelings of the poetry need not necessarily his own.


Allah notices it

It doesn't matter that people don't notice the good that you do. What matters is that Allah notices it. Never forget that.

Monday, 29 April 2013

perfect time

perfect time 

The future belongs to those ......

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams 

Always bear in mind that....

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other
"Abraham Lincoln"

Aristotle's Plot

Aristotle's Plot

Aristotle devotes great attention to the nature, structure and basic elements of the ideal tragic plot. Tragedy is the depiction of action consisting of incidents and events. Plot is the arrangement of these incident and events. It contains the kernel of the action. Aristotle says that plot is the first principle, the soul of tragedy. He lists six formative elements of a tragedy – Plot, character, thought, melody, diction, spectacle and gives the first place to plot.

 The Greek word for 'poet' means a 'maker', and the poet is a 'maker', not because he makes verses but he makes plots. Aristotle differentiates between 'story' and 'plot'. The poet need not make his story. Stories from history, mythology, or legend are to be preferred, for they are familiar and understandable. Having chosen or invented the story, it must be put to artistic selection and order. The incidents chosen must be 'serious', and not 'trivial', as tragedy is an imitation of a serious action that arouse pity and fear.
Aristotle says that the tragic plot must be a complete whole. It must have a beginning, a middle and an end. It must have a beginning, i.e. it must not flow out of some prior situation. The beginning must be clear and intelligible. It must not provoke to ask 'why' and 'how'. A middle is consequent upon a situation gone before. The middle is followed logically by the end. And end is consequent upon a given situation, but is not followed by any further incident. Thus artistic wholeness implies logical link-up of the various incidents, events and situations that form the plot.
The plot must have a certain magnitude or 'length'. 'Magnitude' here means 'size'. It should be neither too small nor too large. It should be long enough to allow the process of change from happiness to misery but not too long to be forgotten before the end. If it is too small, its different parts will not be clearly distinguishable from each other. Magnitude also implies order and proportion and they depend upon the magnitude. The different parts must be properly related to each other and to the whole. Thus magnitude implies that the plot must have order, logic symmetry and perspicuity.

 Aristotle considers the tragic plot to be an organic whole, and also having organic unity in its action. An action is a change from happiness to misery or vice versa and tragedy must depict one such action. The incidents impart variety and unity results by arranging the incidents so that they all tend to the same catastrophe. There might be episodes for they impart variety and lengthen the plot but they must be properly combined with the main action following each other inevitably. It must not be possible to remove or to invert them without injuring the plot. Otherwise, episodic plots are the worst of all.
'Organic unity' cannot be provided only by the presence of the tragic hero, for many incidents in hero's life cannot be brought into relation with the rest. So there should be proper shifting and ordering of material.

Aristotle joins organic unity of plot with probability and necessity. The plot is not tied to what has actually happened but it deals with what may probably or necessarily happen. Probability and necessity imply that there should be no unrelated events and incidents. Words and actions must be in character. Thus probability and necessity imply unity and order and are vital for artistic unity and wholeness.
'Probability' implies that the tragic action must be convincing. If the poet deals with something improbable, he must make it convincing and credible. He dramatist must procure, "willing suspension of disbelief". Thus a convincing impossibility is to be preferred to an unconvincing possibility. 

Aristotle rules out plurality of action. He emphasizes the Unity of Action but has little to say about the Unity of Time and the Unity of Place. About the Unity of Time he merely says that tragedy should confine itself to a single revolution of the sun. As regards the Unity of Place, Aristotle said that epic can narrate a number of actions going on all together in different parts, while in a drama simultaneous actions cannot be represented, for the stage is one part and not several parts or places.
Tragedy is an imitation of a 'serious action' which arouses pity and fear. 'Serious' means important, weighty. The plot of a tragedy essentially deals with great moral issues. Tragedy is a tale of suffering with an unhappy ending. This means that the plot of a tragedy must be a fatal one. Aristotle rules out fortunate plots for tragedy, for such plot does not arouse tragic emotions. A tragic plot must show the hero passing from happiness to misery and not from misery to happiness. The suffering of the hero may be caused by an enemy or a stranger but it would be most piteous when it is by chance caused by friends and relatives who are his well-wishers.

According to Aristotle, Tragic plots may be of three kinds, (a) Simple, (b) Complex and (c) Plots based on or depicting incidents of suffering. A Simple plot is without any Peripety and Anagnorisis but the action moves forward uniformly without any violent or sudden change. Aristotle prefers Complex plots. It must have Peripeteia, i.e. "reversal of intention" and Anagnorisis, i.e. "recognition of truth". While Peripeteia is ignorance of truth, Anagnorisis is the insight of truth forced upon the hero by some signs or chance or by the logic events. In ideal plot Anagnorisis follows or coincides with Peripeteia.
'Recognition' in the sense is closely akin to reversal. Recognition and reversal can be caused by separate incidents. Often it is difficult to separate the two. Complex plots are the best, for recognition and reversal add the element of surprise and "the pitiable and fearful incidents are made more so by the shock of surprise".

 As regards the third kind of plot, Aristotle rates it very low. It derives its effect from the depiction of torture, murder, maiming, death etc. and tragic effect must be created naturally and not with artificial and theatrical aids. Such plots indicate a deficiency in the art of the poet.
In making plots, the poets should make their denouements, effective and successful. Unraveling of the plot should be done naturally and logically, and not by arbitrary devices, like chance or supernatural devices. Aristotle does not consider Poetic Justice necessary for Tragedy. He rules out plots with a double end i.e. plots in which there is happiness for one, and misery for others. Such plots weaken the tragic effect. It is more proper to Comedy. Thus Aristotle is against Tragi-comedy.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

S. T Coleridge As a Critic

S. T. Coleridge As a Critic

Coleridge is one of the greatest of literary critics, and his greatness has been almost universally recognized. He occupies, without doubt, the fist place among English literary critics. After eliminating one after another the possible contenders for the title of the greatest critic, Saintsbury concludes:
"So, then there abide these three – Aristotle, Longinus and Coleridge."
According to Arthur Symons, Coleridge's Biographia Literaria is,
"… the greatest book of criticism in English."
Herbert Read concludes Coleridge as:
" … head and shoulders above every other English critic."
I. A. Richards considers him as the fore-runner "of the modern science of semantics", and Rene Wellek is of the view that he is a link, "between German Transcendentalism and English Romanticism."

A man of stupendous learning, both in philosophy and literature, ancient as well as modern, and refined sensibility and penetration intellect, Coleridge was eminently fitted to the task of a critic. His practical criticism consists of his evaluations of Shakespeare and other English dramatists, and of Milton and Wordsworth. Despite the fact there are so many digressions and repetitions, his practical criticism is always illuminating and highly original. It is rich in suggestions of far reaching value and significance, and flashes of insight rarely to be met with in any other critic. His greatness is well brought out, if we keep in mind the state of practical criticism in England before him. The Neo-classic critics judged on the basis of fixed rules. They were neither legislative nor judicial, nor were carried away by their prejudices. Coleridge does not judge on the basis of any rules. He does not pass any judgment, but gives his responses and reactions to a work of art. His criticism is impressionistic-romantic, a new kind of criticism, a criticism which dealt a knock out blow to neo-classic criticism, and has been in vague, more or less, ever since. He could discover new beauties in Shakespeare and could bring about fresh re-valuations of a number of old English masters. Similarly, his criticism of Wordsworth and his theories enable us to judge him and his views in the correct perspective.

In the field of theoretical inquiry, Coleridge was the first to introduce psychology and philosophy into literary criticism. He was interested in the study of the process of poetic creation, the very principles of creative activity, and for this purposes freely drew upon philosophy and psychology. He thus made philosophy the basis of literary inquiry, and thus brought about a union of philosophy, psychology and literary criticism. His literary theories have their bases in philosophy; he imparted to criticism the dignity which belongs to philosophy. He philosophized literary criticism and thus brought about a better and truer understanding of the process of creation and the nature and function of poetry.

His greatest and most original contribution to literary criticism is his theory of imagination. Addison had examined the nature and function of imagination, and Wordsworth, too, had developed his own theory on the subject. But all previous discussions of imagination look superficial and childish when compared with Coleridge's treatment of the subject. He is the first critic to differentiate between Imagination and Fancy, and to differentiate between primary and secondary Imagination. Through his theory of imagination he revolutionized the concept of artistic imitation. Poetic imitation is neither a servile copy of nature, not is it the creation of something entirely new and different from Nature. Poetry is not imitation, but creation, but it is creation based on the sensations and impressions received from the external world. Such impressions are shaped, ordered, modified and opposites are reconciled and harmonized, by the imagination of the poet, and in this way poetic creation takes place.

Further, as David Daiches points out:
"It was Coleridge who finally, for the first time, resolved the age old problem of the relation between the form and content of poetry."
Through his philosophical inquiry into the nature and value of poetry, he established that a poem is an organic whole, and that its form is determined by its content, and is essential to that content. Thus metre and rhyme, he showed, are not merely, "pleasure super-added", not merely something superfluous which can be dispensed with, not mere decoration, but essential to that pleasure which is the true poetic pleasure. This demonstration of the organic wholeness of a poem is one of his major contributions to literary theory.

Similarly, his theory of "Willing Suspension of Disbelief" marks a significant advance over earlier theories on the subject. His view that during the perusal of a poem or the witnessing of a play, there is neither belief nor disbelief, but a mere suspension of disbelief, is not universally accepted as correct, and the controversy on the subject has been finally set at rest.

However, it may be mentioned in the end that as Coleridge's views are too philosophical, he is a critic no easy to understand. Often it is fragmentary and unsystematic. Victorians, in general, could not appreciate him and his appeal was confined to the few.

It is only in the 20th century that his literary criticism has been truly understood and recognition and appreciation have followed. Today his reputation stands very high, and many go to him for inspiration and illumination. Despite the fragmentary nature of his work, he is now regarded as the most original critic of England.

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