What we learn at home, at school, from our peers, and from entertainment can have great effects throughout our whole entire lives. There is no such thing as a perfect family, human being, or society, yet we are able to live our lives with the enjoyment of peace and harmony. What we see on television may simulate a perfect family, but, of course, not everything we wish to see is true. Not everyone can have the lives that everyone wants. In reading the essays “The Perfect Family” by Alice Hoffman, “The Sanctuary of School” by Lynda Barry, “Dog Lab” by Claire McCarthy, and “Education” by Jake Werner a realization occurred. These authors came down with comparable results. Two authors have similar styles of writing while the others had a contrasting style.
“The Perfect Family” by Alice Hoffman was about how she was faced with the adversity of being raised in a single parent family. She never gave up on believing her mom and herself, which is the reason who she is today. Alice Hoffman had a straight-forward strategy in writing her essay. In her style of writing, she included many details in describing her childhood history. It was from the introductory paragraph where I figured that this story was going to be descriptive in the sense of trying to constrain us by sympathizing with her and other families. In addition, she gave images such as “Roses grew by the front door…We had glass bottles filled with lightning bugs and brand-new swing sets in the backyard, and softball games at dusk.”(pg –) Using this type of technique in writing her essay gave a clearer understanding of what she is trying to do. She was setting the table. Also, she gave a brief history of how marriages are supposed to be, how divorces are uncommon during that time, and the type of jobs a wife should be committed to. This technique was useful in her essay because if she did not include that history, maybe the reader would not understand the point of writing this essay, or may be confused on what is going on. A historical background can help greatly in helping the reader understand what is going on and can answer some questions to why this essay is being written.
Using Gothic Characteristics to Portray the Theme of Knowledge
Using Gothic Characteristics to Portray the Theme of Knowledge in American Gargoyles, Johnny Mnemonic, Frankenstein, Good Country People, and Cyberpunk
Gothic literature has been interpreted, and even criticized by many people as just being scary stories. They feel the author’s only purpose for using gloomy settings and grotesque characters is to horrify the reader. This however is rarely true of Gothic literature, instead an author will use these characteristics to portray a deeper purpose rather than to just scare the reader. This is true of all genres of gothic literature including classical, southern, and cyber literature. One theme that has been prevalent throughout gothic history is that of knowledge. Several authors have used gothic tendencies to convey the idea that too much knowledge can be dangerous. They use these characteristics to warn the reader that knowledge is not always good.
Classical gothic literature, developed in the late eighteenth century, was most likely first concepted by Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto. Dark, dreary settings and frightening monsters often characterize the style of this category of literature. Mary Shelley, a classical gothic writer, has used these characteristics in her novel Frankenstein. In her novel Victor Frankenstein composes a creature that has all the potentialities of a child because it knows nothing. But this creature is far from looking anything like a child. The monster, created from different body parts, is grotesque, he has yellow skin that barely covers his muscles, long black hair and is very large. However, just as a child, he begins to learn, through experiences and especially by reading several books. This new knowledge he has learned has a harmful …
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… situations to warn or horrify the reader about a deeper theme. The terror felt by the reader as he/she reads the story mimics the terror another character is feeling in dealing with this hidden theme. Authors often use these tendencies to portray their ideas on current social conditions in order to warn the reader.
Bloom, Harold. Flannery O’Connor. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.
Di Renzo, Anthony. American Gargoyles. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1993.
Gibson, William. “Johnny Mnemonic.” 5 April 2000 .
Levine, George. The Endurance of Frankenstein. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1979.
O’Connor, Flannery. “Good Country People.” 5 Apr. 2000 .
Shelly, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Dover Publications, Inc, 1994.
The Cyberpunk Project. Christian Kirtchev. 3 Apr. 2000. 10 Apr. 2000 .