Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Love or Sex

Upon reading these three works, I found myself debating weather or not to side with love

or lust. Zora Neale Hurston in her work, “The Gilded Six-Bits,” clearly leans towards love, while

Andrew Marvel and Linda Pastan in their poems seem to shout of power of lust.

In“The Guilded Six-Bits,” Hurston tells the story of a married couple named Joe and

Missy May who undergo mass character development through the struggle and eventual

culmination of their love. The couple is introduced as living a simple life, entirely caught up in

plain and simple, untainted love. Their meager living arrangements heighten their love for one

another as another area of wealth. Although the two are not rich by material standard, they find

all they need in each other without frivolous objects to distract them. To cement her opening

point of true love, Hurston shows Joe proclaiming his feelings to his wife saying, “Ah’m

satisfied de way Ah is. So long as Ah be yo’ husband, Ah don’t keer ‘bout nothin’ else. Ah’d

ruther all de other women in de world to be dead than for you to have de toothache.” (514) This

shows how such a simple man like Joe needs nothing else in bis life, than true love, and for

Missy May to be happy. However his simple outlook is turned upside down when the devil that

is, material possession, enters his life, brought by Satin himself, Otis Slemmins. Joe finds his

love horribly tarnished by Missy May’s unfaithful acts, brought on by monetary extravagance.

Hurston shows the reader the resilience of true love when Joe eventually comes to forgive his

wife, once he realizes how distractions have led her astray from the amazing gift of plutonic love

they previously shared.

In contrast, both poems speak to a carnal love, rather than the plutonic bond that Joe and

Missy May shared. For instance, Andrew Marvell, in his poem “To His Coy Mistress,”

introduces his lady as reserved and somewhat unwilling to engage with him sexually. In saying,

“Had we but world enough, and time,” (80,ln.1) Marvel does all her can to will his lady to

understand that life is short. He implores her to physical action rather than wasting away with

their limited time together. Reaffirming his point Marvel writes, “Two hundred to adore each

breast, but thirty thousand to the rest,” (80,ln.15) His point is simply that if he had all the time in

the world, he would waste it with her platonically without second thought. However since he

recognizes their mortality, Marvel want his shy lady to abandon all inhibitions, and act quickly

on sexual impulse. In the same fashion, Linda Pastan confronts carnal love in her poem, “Jump

Cabling.” Pastan uses emphatic spacing to heighten arousal within the reader. Drawing specific

attention to the words, “touched, of mine, underneath, together, energy, princess, and start,”

Pastan attempts to highlight sexual emotion. The cars represent two individuals bodies, and the

jump cabling refers to physically sexual interaction. In my opinion, Pastan should have just

called her peom, “SEX,” and she may have received more readers.

Who Are We?

The readings this week examine one of the most basic, yet hard to answer, questions: who are we? From Milton’s “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” to Shakespeare’s “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun” and Elizabeth Gilbert’s “One Word”, they all examine the thought of who we are.

In John Milton’s “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent,” Milton writes about himself—a middle-aged blind man who is struggling with the reality of his disability and future. He says, “And that one talent which is death to hide Lodged with me useless though my soul more bent…” Milton thinks that just because he is blind his talents are useless. In the end, Milton decides that he should continue to keep writing poems. This poem reminded me of a classmate in high school. She was born with deformed legs, which prevented her from walking, and was wheelchair-bound her entire life. Although she had this disability, she looked at it as actually an ability—she competed in wheelchair basketball games and was even one of the managers for the varsity basketball team at my high school. What I gained out of her story, and this poem, is that our disabilities do not characterize who we are. Blindness, the inability to walk, and all other disabilities should not dictate who we believe we are—it is our thoughts, emotions, and actions that determine what type of person we are.

Shakespeare writes a poem that looks into physical perfection. The speaker says that his “mistresses’” lips are not as red as coral, her cheeks are not like roses, her breath does not always smell good, and music can be more pleasing than her voice. When reading this, one may think that the speaker is degrading someone—however, this is not the case. The ending reads, “My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground. And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she, belied with false compare.” The speaker is saying that what some might consider perfection is not always perfection. After reading this poem, I came to the conclusion that perfection is subject to how we perceive it. What I may think is perfection, may be the opposite of that to someone else. Most importantly, I think we should all strive for our own personal perfection. We should accept who we are and realize that we are all perfect in our own ways.

Finally, the last reading was by a lady named Elizabeth Gilbert and was titled “One Word.” The speaker in this poem is having a conversation and they are talking about one-word descriptions for different places. This inevitably leads to the speaker asking herself a very central question: what is her word? I began to think of what my word would be, and I was stumped. Assigning one word to someone seems so simplistic from the outset. But when you try to think of one central word to describe a person, you have a bit of trouble. I think it’s because as a person, no one is as simplistic as one word. We are all so much more than a simple description—we have relationships, feelings, emotions, opinions, knowledge, and the list goes on.

When I think back to the original question that characterizes all of these pieces of literature, who are we, I think its actually quite simple. We are all different. None of us are the same, as we all have different life experiences, we all come from different backgrounds, and we all think differently. One of the most important things we can remember as a society is that we are all different, and when we realize and accept that, we will be closer to be coming unified.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Learning Through Imperfections

Each of these literary works discusses finding a deeper meaning within oneself that is not visible on the surface. The speakers of each piece describe what they have learned to appreciate even if it is imperfect. They learned this through life’s experiences how they were taught to view the world.
In the poem, “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” by John Milton, the speaker explains the effect of his blindness. The opening lines of the poem describes what he thinks about the way he saw the world before he went blind as a middle-aged man. He exhausts his frustrations of his blindness and questions whether or not he should still use his “God-given talent” of writing even though it proves to be an impossible task. The majority of this poem expresses his concern and confusion for God granting this disease upon his. He seems to be losing faith in achieving the talent he once had, but in the end find the hope to keep writing and displaying his talent. This poem makes me think of the quotation “everything happens for a reason,” as well as the saying “make use of what you have.” These two quotations are relevant because although his blindness appears to be a set-back, he still has the brain that composed his many great literary works prior to his imperfect condition, and he still can create beautiful work. In the end he becomes aware that he can still compose great poetry.
In the poem, “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun” by William Shakespeare, the first line expresses a comparison through the use of a simile. The simile “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun” initially implies the lack of beauty and imperfections the woman has. Shakespeare continues by using unflattering sensory descriptions and imagery and colors, to demonstrate the woman’s flaws. He describes her hair as “black wires” and states “than in the breath that from my mistress reeks” implying her bad breath. He concludes the poem with “And yet, I think my love is as rare as any she, belied with false compare.” This statement is crucial for the poem because it explains the underlying meaning which is appearances is not what matter when true love is present. This poem represents Shakespeare’s unique style of using hidden language and elements to create misleading ideas. At first it appears as though he is calling this woman horrid, but in the end he states that when its true love you see past all the imperfections.
In the story “One Word” by Elizabeth Gilbert, the idea of finding oneself through experiences is present. The speaker discusses her time in Rome and explains the image of a typical Roman-woman as “a fantastically maintained, jewelry-sodden forty-something dame wearing four-inch heels, a tight skirt with a slit as long as your arm, and those sunglasses that look like race cars. She was walking her little fancy dog on a gem-studded leash, and the fur collar on her tight jacket looked as if it had been made out of the pelt of her former little fancy dog. She was exuding and unbelievably glamorous air of: ‘You will look at me, but I will refuse to look at you’” (page 102). From this description, the speaker develops her argument of why Rome is not the place for her because she does not fit into that look and style. The word that is used to describe Rome is “sex” and she explains this word does not define her. The phrase “every city has a single word that defines it, that identifies most people who live there” (page 103) is interesting and in a sense very true. The story focuses on the speaker’s quest to find the place and the word that describes her lifestyle. Through her travels and experiences she concludes that there are many possibilities but “she does not know the answer” (page 105). But through experiences the speaker discovers word that do not represent her, which helps her in finding who she really is and what she really wants to surround herself with in the future. This story is about finding oneself.
In conclusion, these three literary works explain imperfections, flaws, and the unknown, all elements which develop the deeper analysis and the finding of oneself. Some discovers are made through experiences and travels, some are made through losing something you once had, and some are made by personal belief.

Bridget Ehmann

The Connections

Shakespeare is a man who is widely known for his love themed poems and sonnets. In My Mistress’ Eyes are Nothing Like the Sun, when I first read it I had to do a double check to make sure this is the William Shakespeare I knew. Then I went on to finish the poem and it hit me: this poem is not him telling us that he has a beast of a girlfriend, it is telling us that she is so perfect to him that there is no way to compare her to these classic love items. It’s funny because after reading this poem it made me think about my own relationship with my boyfriend, since our love is very similar to the one Shakespeare is talking about, in the fact that I don’t have to wear makeup and look like a runway model for him to hug and love me. Half the time my hair does look like wire and my cheeks are everything but rosy, but that has no effect on his affections toward me, since I know and he knows that our love goes deeper than looks.
When I first read the sonnet When I Consider How My Life Is Spent, by John Milton I did not think that the light and dark he was talking about was speaking of his blindness, since I had no idea of the fact until after I read the little excerpt under the poem. I took his light to mean his solution or the light of God and the darkness being his inability to reach God, though when I learned of his blindness the meaning still stayed with me in that his ability was still reached in the end, not because he overcame his blindness but because he realized that he is making the best of it. The tone throughout the sonnet was one of calmness and tranquility which by the end I think showed his acceptance and understanding in that he did reach his goal to show God his loyalty in his own way. This poem can be relatable to any person facing the idea that they are not good enough for something, or don’t fit the certain idea of what is expected.
I was happy to see that we were reading an excerpt from Eat, Pray, Love, since I am reading that book, and also happy with the chosen part. This story tells of her searching for what she wants out of life and who she wants to be seen as. It’s interesting how she used the words to describe and tell us of the parts in her life since to me is insane to be able to do, and the fact that she can do it so vividly and accurately made me admire her. Throughout this reading I kept seeing that she used personification of certain things such as her feet moving her, which was also present in Milton’s poem with Patience. This is such a useful thing to use to show that there are signs all around us which are there to help us find what we are looking for. The problem for some people is that they are so busy looking in the wrong direction.
All three readings are very different in their focus on who and what is being discussed in the fact that one is talking about a relationship with God, one is talking about the love for his girlfriend and the other is talking about her search for herself, though all three have so many similar characteristics. This showed that no matter who is being talked about, we are all people no matter if they are ugly, blind, confused, or whatever we all are in search for something and are all struggling in our own ways. They all seem to have a hopeful happy feel to them, and when I finished reading it made me think of my own life and made me happy and content that they found their callings and answered their own answers, but made me think about my own. I guess that’s what college can do for all of us, it is an opportunity for us to make our own questions and conquer our own fears and doubts.

Per Chi?

For whom, Tess? Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love begs the question: for whom? For whom, in Elizabeth’s case, are the slinky, lace lingerie purchased in a sultry boutique in Rome? I, for one, cannot say that I have invested in exquisite lingerie lately, however the question of per chi still rumbles loudly in my head as I reflect upon my life.

The last four semesters of my college career have progressed quite smoothly and it wasn’t until my junior year began that I was hit smack in the face with a roadblock: I was burnt out. I chose the Pre-Law track when I was a young girl convinced I was going to save the world. The villains mutated and transformed, originating with dog snatchers, taking the shape of those men on Wall Street and now illuminated by domestic violence perpetrators. But with the distractions of most 20 year old college kids and with the LSAT looming, helping the downtrodden and impoverished seems worlds away, if even ever attainable. As I struggle through my assignments, grasping for the unyielding motivation that was so innate in my soul my previous years in college, I realize that, like Elizabeth Gilbert, I have no idea for whom I work this hard.

I mean for whom is obviously an easy question to answer on the surface: for myself, duh. But when I think about how hard I push myself, how many commitments I dedicate my time to and how I barely have a chance to smell the roses because I am drowning in the scent of coffee in an attempt to fight off sleep, I realize I need to evaluate who I am really doing all of this for, because I’m clearly not the one reaping the immediate benefits.

It’s comforting to know I’m not alone in this, as I read John Milton’s When I consider how my light is spent. Milton, who without question had a much harder time than I as he became blind at the age of 43, begged the question of whether God wanted him to work so hard despite his disability. When I actually Consider how my light is spent, however, I come to a different conclusion than Milton. Perhaps it is because I am 20 and not 43 with “half my days in this dark world and wide” but I cannot accept that despite my challenges I should give up and push myself less. “God doth not need either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best bear his mild yoke, they serve Him best,” Milton illuminates his feelings towards the reader by allowing the speaker to feel relieved by this command, releasing the blind, tired poet of his chains to draining work. The speaker is clear: per chi he works is God in When I consider how my light is spent. Milton, unlike me, knows who he is working for, and determines that even God does not need him to over extend himself.

Irony seems ever present now, as I work late into the night slaving over books, carefully composing emails and avoiding my planner as if ignoring it will fight off Monday for a little longer. So why do I work this hard if I don’t even know for whom I am working? I realize that per chi is a pretty important question to be answered. So I ponder: for my parents, seems like a good guess: as their hard work and dedication pays for my exorbitant tuition. However this leaves me unsatisfied, much like Elizabeth Gilberts’ search for her perfect word, I’m sure my vision isn’t derived from their nurturing entirely. My next guess is that per chi could possibly be answered by Loyola’s motto: men and women for others. I would like to believe that my compassion for the impoverished, the illiterate and the abused is what drives me to work so hard to attain a law degree; however, in reality with all of the problems in the world, will I really make a difference in these peoples’ lives?

So what is it that fuels my fire even when I feel the flame waning? I think, like Milton, it has to be faith. Not faith in a religious sense, but faith in humanity and faith in myself that despite the distractions and luxuries of leisure (such as going to bed before 3 a.m.) I am dedicated to this cause. It was faith that got Elizabeth Gilbert off the floor of her bathroom, and it was faith that drove Milton to ask God for relief. I am not sure exactly where my dedication and faith come from; perhaps I am still fueled by the memory of my realization that at nine my best friends’ bruises were not from soccer practice. Or perhaps my volunteer hours with children in urban education, but no matter how distracted or disheartened I currently am, I will not give up. It is faith that makes me realize no matter how large my goals, whether they be traveling to Italy, India and Indonesia during a middle aged divorce, or attempting to remain focused on the larger picture of serving others so far down the road, I will persevere.

So I ask you to ask yourself: for whom do you serve?

Dealing with your Inner-Self

Nicole Santarpia

Dealing With Your Inner-Self

John Milton’s When I consider how my light is spent, William Shakespeare’s My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s, One Word all share the common theme and idea of an inner self journey and the relationships we have with ourselves. The relationships examined here are all suffering in some way.

Milton’s, When I Consider How My Light Is Spent tells the very personal story of Milton’s life as a blind man. The poem shows his self toil over the fact that he cannot see. He is trying to continue to be a successful and contributing person in society. One of the most effective ways for him to do so is through his poetry. So when he says “ And that one talent which is death to hide” the talent he is referring to is poetry. You can tell that he is having a hard time dealing with the issue because he uses words like lodged useless to describe his eyes, and he mentions that his soul is bent. He wants to serve God in the best way he can so that when he reaches heaven he will be accepted, but he feels he can’t do so being blind, but in the end he is comforted with the idea that “They also serve who only stand and wait.” So in this poem he see the narrator struggle with him self, then ultimately reach peace. In this poem Milton covers the relationship he has with himself, God, and the other around him that he wishes to help and serve.

Shakespeare likes to poke fun at love in his poem entitled My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun. Here he is describing the type of relationship a certain man has with a women. He goes on to make a list of things that are wrong with her: her lips are not as red as coral, she has wirey black hair, she doesn’t smell of perfume, etc. In my opinion I think he does such things because he is lacking his own self-confidence. By finding imperfections in others he is boosting his self-esteem and forgetting about he feels he is lacking.

In the last selection Elizabeth Gilbert again discusses relationships with yourself. In this expert of the book, Eat, Pray, Love we hear about a woman’s story of finding herself. The most interesting part of this is when she decided she can no longer stay in Rome because she just doesn’t fit in there. When speaking to her friend’s husband about this problem he tells her that the word of Rome is sex, that’s what mostly everyone is thinking about majority of the time. When asked how she would describe herself she has no idea, the only thing she knows is that her word is not sex. Oddly the next day she goes out and buys tons of lingerie when she has nobody to wear it for. She is so confused about the direction her life is going right now that she just wants to escape to India. When we finish this excerpt she is still confused and trying to determine who she really is.

We all have our own relationships with ourselves and deal with ourselves on our own terms. In the readings just discussed these self-relationships are failing and the protagonists are struggling with themselves. John Milton is lost in life and feel that because he is blind he is no longer a successful community member, Shakespeare alludes to the fact that the man he is talking about may be lacking confidence in himself which is why he picks on his lover, and lastly the woman from Gilbert’s book doesn’t know where she belongs in this stage of her life. Ultimately in life we will all encounter these struggles, the key is just learning to handle them.

I Am

The stories read for today’s discussion, Elizabeth Gilbert’s “One Word,” John Milton’s “When I consider how my light is spent,” and William Shakespeare “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” all speak about the main character’s perceived beauty. This “beauty” that I am referring to however isn’t prototypical. The physicality of it plays a part yes, but these stories look beyond the actual physical appearance of the characters, and this appearance seems to be one of imperfection. These two poems and one story all have underlying thoughts of “true beauty.” They tell tales that make the reader respect the real exquisiteness of appearance. It’s not perfect skin or the brightest smile, but how you view yourself and how you appear thru the eyes of your loved ones.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s “One Word” was the first story I read over the weekend. It has to do with a woman, Liz, who is currently venturing in Italy, but cannot seem to find herself. Her cab driver, Guilio discusses how different locations have different words associated with them. For example Rome is “sex” and The Vatican is “power.” He then asks Liz what her word is. Liz is troubled that she cannot relate to the city she wants to be associated with. She insists that “sex” is definitely not her word. At the end of the story however, she is admitting that she is buying lingerie and having the mindset of sex. Per Chi? For whom is she buying this clothing? Her true self is masked so well that she does not even know what lies underneath.

John Milton was a blind man, and his admitted imperfection was his lack of sight. He was well aware of this imperfection while writing “When I consider how my light is spent.” The poem talks about the relationship Milton had with God. “Doth God exact day-labor, light denied” (Milton 7) is he questioning God’s current mission for him. Does God still expect him to carry out his life duty with the same attitude, even with this deficiency? Milton later realizes that his blindness is something that God is accepting of. As long as Milton acted as the same man, his loved ones, including God would embrace him the same, as Milton himself should.

I finally read, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare. I felt like this poem was the most obvious in telling the story of unconditional love. Shakespeare speaks of his mistress and admits to seeing her lack of traditional physical beauty. He wastes no time by opening the poem with “my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun; Coral is far more read than her lips’ red; If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun; If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head (Shakespeare 1-4).” However, he goes on to say at the very end of the poem that his love is rare and no one can compare to her. It is unfair to say that Shakespeare sees past her imperfections, as he clearly notices, but it is fact that it has no ill effect on his love for her.

These stories help the cause that physical appearance is not so important in the judgment of one’s beauty. The authors of the stories I just referenced to clearly agree as they depict stories of characters that seem less fortunate in that department. Beauty is judged on a greater scale. It is portrayed by how you think of yourself and what the people around you think of you. The characters I read about were aware of this notion and pursued to find or realize beauty in this way.

The Quest for Truth, Faith, and Self

William Shakespeare’s poem, “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun,” John Milton’s poem, “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent,” and Elizabeth Gilbert’s excerpt, “One Word,” from the novel, Eat, Pray, Love, all have the common theme of a search. “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun” is about the search for the truth in relationships. Wanting to find something stronger than false compliments to prove one’s love. “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” is the search for hope and the power to find faith to keep going through everyday struggles. “One Word,” in Eat, Pray, Love, is about the constant battle of finding oneself and the perfect balance between pleasure and spirituality.

Shakespeare’s sonnet, “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun,” seems to be a list of rude insults to his significant other when he describes how “coral is far more red than (his mistress’) lips' red” (line 2) and that “in some perfumes is there more delight than in the breath that from (his) mistress reeks.” (lines 7 and 8). When looked at more closely, he is describing that a woman’s eyes are not literally brighter than the sun, nor does she actually have the color of roses in her cheeks (lines 1 and 6). Even though he does not tell these lies to his mistress, he does still have everlasting love for her. He does not feel the need to tell her false compliments to keep her happy. He has a relationship based on something much stronger than that—truth. Just as Shakespeare sought for truth, John Milton sought a higher understanding to help him through his struggles.

Milton’s poem, “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent,” is based on his real life experience when he was going blind, all before the age of 43. Instead of getting angry with God for letting this happen to him, he embraces this setback. His faith keeps him strong and keeps him going through each day. Without it, he would not be able to live. He makes light of the serious topic of death when he alludes to killing himself, “and that one talent which is death to hide lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent” (lines 3 and 4). The “useless talent” is his inability to even kill himself. His faith is what keeps him from taking his life. He knows that if he were to commit suicide, he would not go to heaven. When he has to answer to God, he wants to tell him that being blind did not stop him from living his life to the absolute fullest (lines 6-8). His omnipotent God does not need gifts from men, for God has hordes of angels and other helpers to do His bidding; all God cares about is whether or not he tried and gave his all (lines 9-14). The mere thought of knowing that salvation awaits those who wait patiently keeps him going each and every day. When faced with her own struggle of a divorce and the onslaught of an early mid-life crisis, the 30-year-old, Elizabeth Gilbert chooses to take a long examination of her life.

Gilbert’s excerpt, “One Word,” is a short snippet from her book, Eat, Pray, Love that is all about the search for the meaning of life. Gilbert wants to find pleasure, spirituality, and the balance between them. She first travels to Rome where she focuses on the pleasure aspect of her quest. She describes that if there were one word to describe the city of Rome, it would be “SEX” (103). She then goes onto explain that she bought a large quantity of lingerie, yet she is not sure the reason. This makes her reminisce to when a soccer player passed a ball to the middle of the empty field and everyone asked, “Per chi?” meaning, “For whom?” She then asks herself that same question: “For whom, Liz? For whom all this decadent sexiness?” (105). She could have also been asking, “For whom is she doing this whole search?” The answer is, simply, herself. She needs to go on this quest to get a better sense of who she is and what she wants out of life. She wants to be happy, but have a meaningful life, at the same time. Liz finds these contradictory lifestyles tearing her apart when she tries to decide which one will win over the other. However, perhaps there can be the best of both worlds. Like the slogan of the hit HBO series, Entourage, “Maybe you can have it all.” Liz tries to find a good medium between the two, just as college students go through a similar struggle to find where they belong.

When embarking on a new journey, just barely legal adults, and separated from their families for the first time, college students find themselves faced with many choices that, ultimately, will define the rest of their lives. Finding where they belong can be a journey in and of itself. The new students desperately want to fit in, and doing so can be petrifying. It is an experience unlike anything. Decisions of skipping class in order to hang out with new friends look more enticing each time they are presented. Getting out of the library in order to catch a sporting event becomes a battle in deciding which is more important when presented in different lights: work before pleasure, or sanity and school spirit over one homework grade. Growing up, children were told to “do the right thing,” but that is not always easy to decipher. Black and white was left behind back in high school. From here on out, there will be many shades of grey, and that means that there is not always a clear-cut answer. College is not just about learning in the classroom; it is also about the experience along the way.

Whether it is a search for truth in relationships, faith in God, or simply oneself, the journey to finding the answer is half of the lesson. William Shakespeare’s, “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun,” illustrates that, when in a relationship, honesty is always the way to go. John Milton’s, “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent,” considers how his life can be spent better, by serving God. Elizabeth Gilbert’s, “One Word,” demonstrates that there is not always just one word, rather, there are many words that can characterize a person and his or her many personalities. All three works of literature are about people trying to find the missing link to their lives in order to live in a way that most accurately suits them. It does not matter if it is a confused lover, a blind man, a woman going through a mid-life crisis, or a college student; everyone has their struggles, the complex part is choosing which ones will define them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Unachievable Perfection
Throughout the readings for Tuesday, John Milton’s “When I consider how my light is spent,” William Shakespeare’s “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” and Elizabeth Gilbert’s “One Word”, imperfection is a common theme. The imperfections explained in each reading are seen in the same way by each author.
In John Milton’s poem, the rhyme scheme tells a lot about the emotions between the first two stanzas and the last two. In the first two stanzas, the rhyme is A-B-B-A. This scheme shows that the beginning of the poem John Milton focuses on his imperfection of being blind, and that he can’t move forward in his life. When he says “When I consider how my light is spent, Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,” (Milton 639), he is describing how light is being wasted on him. In the second half of the poem the rhyme scheme turns to A-B-C. This is showing how he can take that third step and move forward, accepting the fact that he is blind and is able to move on.
Shakespeare’s poem stood out to me the most. It starts of being bluntly mean, pointing out all of the imperfections of this woman. He says how her eyes can’t compare to the sun, or her hair is like wires growing out of her head. But after all of his criticisms, he concludes by saying “and yet, by heaven, I think my love so rare,” (Shakespeare 248). This is saying that even though his love has all of these flaws, he loves her unconditionally.
The final reading was like the others, but without the conclusion of acceptance. It talks about how this woman is trying to describe herself in one word. She finds all these other things that can be defined with one word but is unable to define herself. The moral of this excerpt is that no one or no thing can be described with one word. People are too complex with both positive attributes and flaws to be simplified.


The three works I read, two being poems and one being a short story, were all very enjoyable and interesting to read. The short story was called “One Word” by Elizabeth Gilbert, and the two poems were called “When I consider how my light is spent by John Milton, and “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare. All three works shared a common theme of being honest with yourself.

“One Word” is about a woman named Liz who is struggling to feel like she fits in with the city of Rome. Her friend’s husband explains to her that if one word could describe the city it would be the word sex. Liz doesn’t exactly know what word she would use to describe herself and thus she doesn’t feel right in the city of Rome. However, one day she decides to go to a boutique where she buys a plethora of lingerie. If she doesn’t have any intentions of having sex as it isn’t the word that describes her right now, then why is she purchasing all of this? I believe that the city she has been in is starting to have an effect on her. It is changing the way she feels about herself. Liz almost feels as if she has to fit in with what the city around her stands for and this is what causes her to change. I believe that she should be honest with herself and do whatever she feels is right instead of letting the city around her effect her.

The first poem I read is called “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare. This poem is in the form of a sonnet as it has fourteen lines with ten syllables in each line. In the poem Shakespeare is comparing aspects of his mistress to the sun and other things. The title alone represents the fact that his mistress‘ beauty cannot be compared to the beauty of naturalistic objects such as the sun. With lines like “Coral is far more red than her lips’ red” and “I have seen roses damasked red and white, but no such roses see I in her cheeks” Shakespeare is saying that his mistress’ beauty pales in comparison to the beauty that these aspects of nature have. Even though Shakespeare is honestly saying that his mistress fails to compare with the beauty of nature, towards the end of the poem he is more positive about her. In the last two lines, he states that although her features don’t compare to the sun or other naturalistic objects, their love is still rare and very strong.

The other poem by John Milton is called “When I consider how my light is spent”. In the poem, Milton is talking about his blindness. He speaks of a talent that he has which he cannot use due to his condition. (And that one talent which is death to hide, Lodged with me useless) His talent is his ability to see the world around him and write poems about what he sees. However, since he is blind this talent is rendered useless. He capitalizes the word “Patience” and I took from this that Milton is certain that if he waits something good will happen for him. He has accepted the fact that he is blind and now he can only hope for the best. Although he no longer has the ability to see he can still serve a purpose in the world. These three works all expressed that being honest with yourself and those around you is the best choice.

Honest living

The three reading assignments for today, John Milton’s, “When I consider how my light is spent”, William Shakespeare’s, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s, “One Word”, all derive from the presence of honesty within a person.
In “When I consider how my light is spent,” John Milton describes the life he lives while being blind and is completely open and honest to the readers. He tells of the relationship that he has between himself and God, but first describes his life while being physically disabled. He is honest with himself and to the readers that his disability has proposed much turmoil in his life and that faith is what has kept him going and has not allowed this disadvantage to take over his life. Through his faith he determines that he will serve God no matter what and that his faith has given him to courage to live his life to the fullest and hope for salvation through serving God to his best capability.
In “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” William Shakespeare describes his mistress in great detail, although he takes a different approach than most would have. He compares his mistress to nature and things around him, such as saying “my mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.” It appears that Shakespeare is putting his mistress down, for he is comparing her to these wonderful things but then saying that she is actually not equivalent to any of them. He does this because he is being honest with himself and his mistress, it may appear he is being negative, but in actuality he is showing that he truly loves this woman and is being honest in describing this true woman he loves.
In “One Word” Elizabeth Gilbert travels to Rome and is trying to find how to describe the cities and its inhabitants into one word. While she is doing this she is also trying to find herself at the same time. She comes to learn that the word for Rome is “sex”, which explains why Rome is so beautiful and elegant. But then determines that Rome’s word is not the word that describes herself at this moment in time. She remembers how at one point in her life how the word “family” described the town in which she and her husband lived, but also was not the word for her at that time because she felt that she did not fit in. She is being completely honest with herself and is trying to find the one word that can describe her and her life.
This notion of honesty can been seen at Loyola because it is taught that students and individuals need to be honest with themselves to find who they truly are. These three readings show three different forms of which honesty can be found, honesty in faith, love, and oneself/community. For someone to find himself or herself they need to be honest in everything that is done otherwise, the true identity of an individual or community will never be found.


In the three works we read for today, there were many common themes. Perfection and beauty were two of them, as previously mentioned by my classmates, but that wasn’t the one that stuck out to me the most. I feel that in these three works, the excerpt from Eat Pray Love, Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, and John Milton’s “When I Consider How My Light is Spent”, I get an overwhelming feeling of acceptance from each work, all in a different way.

In the novel Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert takes a year out of her life to spend in three different countries, trying to find herself. Her first stop is in Italy, and the excerpt we had to read was during the time she was about to transition from Italy to India. As a reader, I could sense her restlessness in Rome. Gilbert even goes as far as to say, “Somehow I knew it was not my city, not where I’d end up living for the rest of my life. There was something about Rome that didn’t belong to me, and I couldn’t quite figure out what it was” (102). I think it was then that she realized that like relationships, she could outgrow places, as well. The whole section we had to read was about finding a specific word that describes ourselves. Obviously, it’s a little difficult to find one word for our entire lives. She admitted that her word at some point was “sex” and would have matched up with Rome at some point in her life, just not at the moment. She has moved on, and accepted the fact that she has had different words for different times in her life, just as “marriage”, “family”, and “depression” once were all her words as well.

In Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, or “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, he is also accepting, in a more practical way. He’s being completely honest about how his mistress looks like. And according to his description, she isn’t all that attractive. He even mentions “in some perfumes there is more delight than in the breath that from my mistress reeks”! It’s quite comical that he is so blatantly insulting his mistress. However, at least he wasn’t going to lie to her and tell her that her eyes look like the sun, even though they do not. I think, in this aspect, he was challenging the other writers of that time who put all of their women on pedestals, singing of their praises even though all those women may not have had roses in their cheeks. He accepted the fact that his mistress isn’t a perfect 10 and loves her despite her imperfections.

In “When I consider how my light is spent” by John Milton, the speaker is ultimately accepting life and death. I think this poem correlates with his life because at the time of writing this poem, he was blind. The light he is referring to in the title literally is life, and the darkness is death. The speaker accepts the fact that he is going to die, and thus convinces himself that his time has come to leave this Earth. He then asks God if it is his time, and Patience replies to him saying that it is not his time yet. However, Patience also says that he should not work anymore, for he is already going to heaven. The speaker then gets to patiently, of course, wait for his death accepting the fact that it will eventually happen and that he will eventually go to heaven.

All of these works share the common theme of acceptance through life lessons. Shakespeare learns that he should just be honest and accept that his woman is not a goddess, Milton accepts the fact that he is going to die, and Gilbert accepts the fact that she no longer fits a particular word. Realizations like these can have impacts long after the events that cause them. These are situations where acceptance are important, so that people can move on with their lives, or in Milton's case, look forward to the end of his life.

Identity: Being True to Yourself

Finding and appreciating yourself is a difficult task. “One Word” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by William Shakespeare, and “When I consider how my light is spent” by John Milton discuss the hardships of defining yourself, learning your talents and shortcomings, and consequently living with and being comfortable with that. They warn against conformity and praise true identity.

“One Word” creatively explains how hard it is to define yourself over the course of a lifetime. Gilbert’s friend suggests that where you live, and the one word engraved there, is what defines you. For example, in Rome the identifying word is ‘sex’. New York is identified as “achieve”, while Stockholm is “conform”. All of these words are different and have such particular meanings, which adhere to many of the people living there, but not Gilbert. She points out however, that at one point in her life she could have been these words but not now. Over a person’s experiences, family, and place or residence can one truly define themselves, with all of that and more combined. One cannot really define themselves with one word if they haven’t experienced everything they were meant to.

This relates to Shakespeare. His sonnet communicates the value of inner beauty and appreciating the different and special qualities of everyone. While Gilbert had almost conformed to the Rome-word by buying all the lingerie, Shakespeare warns against that as he appreciates his mistress for who she is on the inside. He even states that her differences from the typical beauty are what make her rare and loving. He identified the mistress’s true self.

Milford, however, has a complicated time identifying with himself and his talents. He uses his blindness as an excuse to throw his power with words away. He then realizes that God is loving, no matter what hardships you may face. You cannot abuse your talents and appreciate everything you have for some are not as fortunate. It takes “Patience” (line 8) to see yourself for who you really are, then understand, and be grateful for that self.

There are steps to take in order to achieve this, which include defining yourself, appreciating that, and recognizing inner beauty. The three authors are saying this basic same message, but differently. That important and remarkable point is that it is okay if you do not know who you are yet, you will someday, and when you do, love yourself every moment and do not take anything for granted.

Coming to Terms with Reality

Reality is a reoccurring theme in “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, “One Word”, and “When I consider how my light is spent”. In each of the pieces of literature, the narrator acknowledges the reality of their situation. William Shakespeare explains that his love is not defined by external things, such as beauty, but by something much deeper. Elizabeth Gilbert is trying to discover a word she can identify with during a confusing and complex time in her life. John Milton speculates about God’s compassion for his blindness.

William Shakespeare’s sonnet, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, describes the reality of his lover. She is not as beautiful to be compared to things such as the sun, snow, roses, or sweet perfume. He is aware that other men use these false comparisons to describe their lovers but he believes that their exaggeration is not necessary. He says his love is “rare”, meaning that he appreciates his mistress for the person she is. He doesn’t love her for her beauty or any other superficial aspects of a woman that is the cause of most men’s desires. His love for her has depth and reality.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s “One Word”, an excerpt from her memoirs Eat, Pray, Love, tells about the inner struggle she is experiencing. Her friend teaches her that most things have one word that describes them. Rome’s word was sex, NYC’s was achieve, and LA’s was succeed. When her friend asked, “What is your word?”, the narrator is forced to reflect on her life. She describes her adventure to the lingerie store as dreamlike. When she steps out of the boutique, she realizes she doesn’t know why she bought those scandalous items. Reality has come over her. She is trying to discover who she is and why she’s trying to be someone else. She’s trying to find her “word”.

In John Milton’s sonnet, “When I consider how my light is spent”, he questions what God expects of him. Milton had gone blind four years previous to writing this poem. Due to his blindness, he wonders if God will demand the same of him as he did before. When Patience answers, “God doth not need either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best bear his mild yoke, they serve Him best.”(lines 9-11), Milton realizes that God will accept him for everything he is. He need not try to be flawless; he needs to only be himself.

Reflection: The True Source of Happiness

In “One Word,” “When I consider how my light is spent,” and “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” the theme of reflecting upon one’s life is very prevalent. Because of this deep, meaningful reflection by the speakers, the reader is able to truly understand the work of literature, as well as the hardships the speaker was going through when it was written. This is important because it opens us, the readers, up to what is going on in our lives. It allows us to take a second and reflect upon what we have done in life so far, an important part of Jesuit education.

In “One Word,” Liz, the narrator, find herself in Rome. The main idea of this story is that Rome has a word, SEX. This word defines everything going on in the city. The culture, the people, the streets. It affects everything going on there. Liz finds herself caught up in this, trying to force herself into the SEX lifestyle of Rome. She finds herself buying all types of underwear. Only after she buys the underwear does she reflect back and realize this is not her. Her word is not SEX, although she tried to force herself into it. This is a common theme amongst teenagers. I went through this. I tried to find my word. I tried to act like I enjoyed things that I truly did not. But ultimately after thoroughly reflecting on my life just like Liz did, I found my word, SOCIABLE. I did not join one cliché in high school. I hung out with everyone, and experienced everything people had to offer, something I plan to continue this at Loyola.

“When I consider how my light is spent” was written by a blind poet named John Milton. In this poem, he asks the question of how he can for he cannot see, and therefore he cannot serve. A voice comes to him, Patience, and says that God does not need his work, and that he can just stand and wait on him. He says that the best type of servant is that who bears the pain and serves him close. Although I have never had an experience like Milton, I have had similar experiences where I have not been able to help out in situations because of something that I did not have. When I was little, my dad and uncle built a barn in my backyard. I wanted so badly to go up, and start hammering away just like my dad. I wanted to get into the action. But I couldn’t. I had to pass him nails. But even though I wasn’t the essential part in building the barn, I was had a small role, just like Milton does by serving God, by waiting on him.

The main idea of “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” is that although a man may describe a woman as a beauty of nature, like the sun, but it will never be true. Basically this means that this physical attraction is not truly as real as it seems. It is a lie. The sonnet also says that physical attraction always will diminish because there are so many things that can take away from it, such as other more beautiful things or faults one finds in another. Shakespeare basically says that the only true way to find love is through emotional attractions because that is one thing that can never change, which is something I completely agree about.

In the three works of literature, the ability to open one’s eyes was the main theme. The speakers were able to see through the hardship of life, and pass into a place where they can become joyful and happy. Ultimately, they allowed for me to reflect on my life while I read and wrote about them, and now I am in a happier place.

Can Love be Defined?

As depicted in William Shakespeare’s “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” and Elizabeth Gilbert’s “One Word,” love is a complex emotion. While some people may argue that love is an easily understood concept, there are many reasons that demonstrate that love is complicated. This is significant because if one wishes to comprehend the underpinnings of life, interpersonal connections, and emotions, then one must acknowledge that love is anything but simple.

As one can see, love is a central theme in Elizabeth Gilbert’s “One Word.” During the narrator’s dialogue with her friend’s husband, Giulio, it is revealed that love is interpreted in numerous different ways. For example, when discussing whether or not Liz (the narrator) has a different ‘word’ than Rome, Giulio claims that Rome’s ‘word’ is “SEX” (103). Immediately, Liz has a negative reaction with this sentiment in which she traces her thoughts back to the “sexual self-confidence disaster” (105) of her last relationship. Here, the author provides the reader with the view that love and sex are not necessarily intertwined – to some people, love may be physical (hence the need for sex), whereas for other (such as Liz) love may be something different. Through this exchange, one is able to see that true meaning of love is open for interpretation.

Similarly, Shakespeare’s poem “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” portrays love in yet another abstruse form. At first, when looking at the poem as a whole, one would think that Shakespeare is insulting his mistress. His phrases such as “But no such roses see I in her cheeks” (6) and “Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks” seem to produce negative connotations, however Shakespeare does this to emphasize the real meaning of the poem. If one looks beneath the words, one will see that Shakespeare is implying that no one is perfect, and, regardless of his mistress’s obvious imperfections, he cannot help but love her. He cannot make false comparisons of her (“As any she belief with false compare” (14)) because he knows this would falsify his true love. In this way, Shakespeare gives the reader another perspective on love: that some amorous feelings bear their own meaning to different people. In any case, as humans we must accept that (sometimes) love is simply inexplicable.

Forget Perfect

“When I consider how my light is spent” by Milton, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” by Shakespeare and “One Word” by Gilbert demonstrate that individuals should avoid seeing perfection as worth pursuing. Although perfection is ideal, it is rarely practical. By continuing to search after one goal the searcher must sacrifice other values. However, by pursuing a relative balance in all things and by working to their potential, people can live a good and happy life. Milton, Shakespeare, and Gilbert contribute to the theory that devotion to one topic is not beneficial to the seeker as it is liable to leave open gaps in other sections of life.

Milton’s work demonstrates that talents should be used to their capacity regardless of the results being perfect or not. Milton became blind in the middle of his life and was forced to reduce the amount of work that he put forth afterwards. In his poem he questions the amount of work that God expects him to produce. He reaches his conclusion with the thought that “God doth not need either man’s work or his own gifts. Who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best” (lines 9-11). These lines show that God only expects man to work with what he has given him. It would be unhealthy and impossible for Milton to produce the same amount of work as before without the ability to see. Milton is expected to continue his development of poetry but could not be expected to provide the same workload as before. From the poem “When I consider how my life is spent” it can be inferred that the individual is only expected to work within their talents, not overstep them.

Similarly, Shakespeare demonstrates that perfection should not be searched for in other people in order to find happiness. In “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” it is shown that physical beauty should not be the only goal for a lover to reach because it will not suffice alone. Although the woman referenced in the poem may be pale and her breath may reek, the writer’s love is still rare and beautiful. If the speaker simply sought after a lady with rosy cheeks and who brushed her teeth regularly he would have missed out on a priceless experience. His love for a physically unsatisfying counterpart shows that such love can occur regardless of whether she is imperfect. By realizing that he did not need a perfect partner the speaker found out the situation that makes him happiest.

Gilbert addresses her problem in “One Word” to discover the single value that trumps over the rest of her possibilities. From a conversation with a friend she realizes that many places and people entertain the thought of promoting one word over all the rest. However, when it comes to her personal choice of a word she is unable to select one to define her worldview. When undergoing this process she decides to reexamine her life and start new endeavors to see who she really is. Instead of choosing one word, a perfect word, she instead elects to follow many different paths and find out first hand which applies. Instead of choosing to attempt being perfect in a specific category she chooses to enjoy herself and explore her surroundings. The narrator’s example of refusing to be defined in one word demonstrates her unwillingness to attempt perfection in one category rather than trying out and possibly failing in different categories.

The works of Milton, Shakespeare, and Gilbert demonstrate that perfection is not necessarily ideal. Focusing on perfection alone can leave the other aspects of life undeveloped. In this situation beneficial and enjoyable resources may go untapped due to an overemphasis on one theme. However, by realizing that humans are imperfect and accepting this fact the individual can make peace with their disabilities, find true love, or rediscover who they are. By avoiding perfection the individual can lead an ideal life.

Love Yourself For Who You Are - Not For Who They Want You To Be

In today's society, people constantly receive the definition of beauty one commercial after the other. If it's not a sneaker commercial showing off a girl's butt the whole time, it's guaranteed that the show coming on after the commercial ends will have some hot mom or dumb blond with a size 36DD bra as one of the stars. Even if they're not the star, one of the main male roles will more than likely be sleeping with her. Granted, I'm currently watching Friends while typing this so maybe I'm a little more bias considering Rachel is a blond bombshell and Joey's a womanizer, but, it just helps prove my point. Being a female in today's society is extremely difficult with all this NEED to be beautiful being shoved down your throat. Now I'm not saying being a male is any easier, because come on, at one point in time girls decided whether or not they'd go out with you based on your shoe size - and don't even try to pretend you don't know what I'm talking about - but I can't sit here and recount stories of how difficult it is to be a man, considering I don't know, so I'm just going to sit here and complain about being a woman.

In my family, I have three brothers and zero sisters, all of my cousins are all boys and the closest girl relative I have to me in age is my 40 year old aunt. So, let's just say I haven't had many female figures in my life. At the age of six, my mom was throwing Barbie dolls at me, begging me to be girly, while my dad taught me how to change the oil in his truck. I must admit, it was the perfect balance for me. I enjoyed playing with Barbie and Ken and I had a wedding ceremony for them and they had their honeymoon in Maui, oh believe me, it was fantastic. What made their wedding fully complete, though, was that Optimus Prime was their Minister and Ironhide was Ken's best man. Of course, this made growing up difficult - the girls at school didn't want to play dolls with me because Optimus didn't look good in Polly Pocket's playhouse, and the boys didn't want to play with me because I had cooties. So there I was: me, myself, and the Autobots, on the playground by ourselves. Don’t worry, fast forward

During Whale Rider, I couldn't help but silently scream "girl power" in my head when Kahu was like, "Ha! Look Koro, I'm that person you've been searching for and I'm a giiirrrrllll." (And if you were wondering, yes, in my head, "girl power" was in a British accent like the spice girls would always say it.) It was so great to see another person, even a fictional character, have so much satisfaction because they are happy with who they are, even if others aren't. You can put on as much makeup as you want and play with Barbie all day long, but you can never change who you are inside. Shakespeare's My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun completely reiterates how, boy or girl, you should feel beautiful no matter how you look or who you are, because you need to love yourself, and if you love yourself, others will love you as well. In his poem, he speaks of his love who has none of the well-known beautiful attributes of his time. She has pale skin, colorless lips and an ugly voice, but he doesn't want to touch any skin but her pale skin, kiss any lips than her colorless lips, or fall asleep to any voice if it's not her ugly voice. Just like Kahu was who she was meant to be, and every single person, by the end of the book, loved her for who she was. After reading, When I consider how my light is spent, I can’t help buy feel stupid for babbling on about beauty this and beauty that when this man cannot even see what people generalize as beauty. Milton has so much happiness and so much faith in this being that created him, even though he was created without vision. Now I just feel like sitting here being like, “Forget your mascara, forget Koro, forget Shakespeare’s wife being fat and ugly,” and just be happy that you can see a person in order to judge them on their beauty. Just kidding, don’t judge, but just enjoy what you have, because there’s always someone who has less.

A True Definition of Beauty

The three readings for Tuesday—“When I consider how my light is spent”, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, and “One Word”—are all reflections on self-doubt and also display a sense that perceived beauty and happiness depends on the person. These three works challenge traditional ideas of beauty and present many alternative views on what is truly beautiful.

In “When I consider how my light is spent”, John Milton questions how he can write his poetry even though he went blind four years before writing this poem. He acknowledges “that one talent which is death to hide” and considers whether God would punish him for failing to use it (Milton 3). He realizes in the second half of the poem that God does not worry about such small things, and states “Who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best” (Milton 10-11). Essentially, the fact that he has this burden to carry, his blindness, makes him all the more valuable and makes his talents all the more unique and beautiful.

Through a different method, William Shakespeare elucidates a very similar message. Throughout “My mistresses’ eyes are nothing like the sun”, he constantly reinforces the fact that, if physical beauty is what matters, then this woman is not up to standards. He even goes so far as to say, “If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head” (Shakespeare 4). He concludes the poem, however, by saying that even with her flaws, he still thinks that she is finer than anyone she could be compared with.

Elizabeth Gilbert gives much of the same message in “One Word”. The popular word in Rome is SEX, but the narrator constantly reinforces that this is not what she thinks about, and that Rome’s idea of beauty is far too glamorous for her. Instead of constantly thinking about sex, she ponders what she considers more important, and spends a great deal of this passage debating what she really does consider important. But one thing remains clear, that Rome’s idea of beauty is certainly not it.

Throughout all of these selections, the main topic remains clear. Ideal beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and superficial beauty often leaves much more meaningful beauty and love untapped.

Challenge and Opportunity

In this reading analysis, we read “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” by John Milton, “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun” by William Shakespeare and “One Word” by Elizabeth Gilbert. “When I Consider How My Light Is Spent” is a sonnet about John Milton’s relationship with God and how he can strengthen that relationship. “My Mistress’ Eyes Are Nothing Like The Sun” is a sonnet about Shakespeare’s love and passion for his mistress, even if her physical characteristics differ from the exact appearance of nature. “One Word” is a story about a woman who makes an attempt to define herself through one word to keep the status quo of a city.

Throughout John Milton’s sonnet, he asks for God’s reassurance of his place on earth and in heaven. He does not question God; he merely just wants to know whether or not he is achieving the things in life he was meant to achieve. The author states, “I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent” (line 8). He indicates that the primary focus of this sonnet is his relationship with God and his abilities to create a stronger bond with Him. He seeks approval only from the Lord just as he did throughout his working life. The second half of the sonnet is a calm response from God. God assures Milton that as long as he carries the power of God within himself, than he is doing God’s work. In the end, the time has come for John Milton to enjoy a peaceful life until God calls him home. The rhyme scheme of this sonnet is ABBAABBAC CDECDE and features a lot of enjambment.

Throughout Shakespeare’s sonnet, he describes his mistress’ appearance and his passionate love for her. He explains that her eyes are very different from the sun, but still sees her true beauty. The author states, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” (Line 1). Though the sonnet may appear to be negative, it has positive words towards the end. In the second half of the poem, he simplifies the idea that although reality can be different from our ambitions and goals, he knows that his love for his mistress is very strong. Though her eyes are nothing like the sun, it is of no consequence because he knows that his love for her is a rarity. He prefers to show his affection for her through his actions, instead of using false wording. The rhyme scheme of this sonnet is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s “One Word” is a story about a word used to represent a group of people or an individual. The main character travels to Rome where she encounters a taxi driver to escort her to her next destination. Their conversation concerned Rome and the one word that is used to describe the city. The author states, “And if your personal word does not match the word of the city, then you don’t really belong there.” The taxi driver stated that Rome’s word was “sex”. The woman decides to make an attempt to find a word that embodies herself. She comes to the conclusion that “sex” is definitely not the one word that she symbolizes nor does she feel like she belongs in Rome. However, she does say that she has been buying lingerie for no one’s pleasure but herself, and cannot help but realize that Rome may have transformed her into a woman that is defined by one word, “sex”.

These two sonnets and one short story could easily be related to anyone. Milton’s sonnet shows the mindset of many people who question their faith and wonder whether or not they are accomplishing God’s tasks. I think that Loyola challenges its students to do their best in doing God’s work by serving in the community. Shakespeare’s sonnet can be applied to people who are extremely passionate for someone and are able to show their love through their actions. Loyola enables its students to become passionate about clubs, sports, and other activities that are provided for them. Gilbert’s story represents many people who try and become something that they may not be, in order to conform with the status of society. Loyola stresses diversity and allows students of different ethnic backgrounds and religions to strive in our community, even if they are seen as “different”.


A common theme that has been coming up everywhere recently has been that of “Bias”. Over the past few weeks in class we have discussed how to outsiders and Baltimore locals we are these rich, snobby, white kids who just come to run rampant through their city for four years, show no respect for it, and never really get to learn it. They certainly have a bias for us without ever really getting to know us individually. For my event analysis I even discussed how I ran into this topic yet again in our class readings and a movie I watched. Koro Aspirina had a bias against Kahu for being a girl and people had a bias against Marjane for being from a different background. Once again in this week’s readings the biased theme has continued, particularly in Shakespeare’s sonnet ‘My mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun’ and the ‘One Word’ excerpt from Elizabeth Gilbert.

First let me talk about Shakespeare’s, in my opinion, very odd sonnet. Traditionally I have always thought of sonnets, especially Shakespeare’s, to be more on the romantic side. This may be a false imagine planted in my head because the one sonnet that always sticks out in my head is the one where Shakespeare compares a girl to a summer’s day. Because of this, this sonnet in which he completely trashes a girl strikes me as being a little peculiar. In this sonnet he describes how everything about his mistress is “ugly”. In solely just my opinion, this may be Shakespeare’s showing his bias against all women who pursuit being mistresses. He seems to show his opinion that these women who try to take men away from their true loved ones are all ugly at heart.

After I read the poem I read the ‘One Word’ excerpt. In this excerpt the narrator discusses how everyone in a particular city generally has the same life “word”. She then goes on to judge one woman in Rome as being the type of woman who has the motto “You will look at me, but I will refuse to look at you.” From this judgmental action of just looking at the woman and what she is wearing she then develops a bias against all Italian women that they are all the same like this woman and all follow the same life “word”.

After reading all the pieces of literature due on Tuesday I came across an email from the Vice President for Student Development talking about Biases! If this isn’t a sign that they need to be stopped then I don’t know what is. Just like the email explains (and what I summed up in my event analysis) we need to work on creating “a community that welcomes people from diverse backgrounds and experiences.” In our readings Shakespeare seemed to have a bias against mistresses, but for all he knows it might not be the mistresses fault for being one. She might not even know she is a mistress and is being misled by a man. Also in “One Word” the narrator judges one woman just by looking at her! Overall I think the point I’m trying to get across is that we really need to stop taking things at face value and get to know people without judging them first.