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The Formalistic Approach to Hay’s Rapunzel

The Formalistic Approach to Hay’s Rapunzel

Prayer has been always a symbol of faith, and even in modern poetry it is still used as a desperate cry to the One in Heaven. One of the great examples of this desperate cry would be Sara Henderson Hay’s “Rapunzel”.After reading her modern version, familiarity with Grimm’s fairy tale “Rapunzel” will reveal a completely new interpretation. Sara Hay chooses Rapunzel’s prayer to be in the sonnet structure. Sonnet, being a part of a lyric genre, represents the most personal and direct speaking manner. Here, the lyric poet is speaking from Rapunzel’s point of view almost singing her sufferings, her feelings and her past experiences.

Let’s remember the first line of the sonnet: “Oh, God, let me forget the things he said”. The elegy starts in the prayer form. It helps us to understand from the first line that the lyric hero is in suffering and is desperate. Through the words “let me forget”, we can hear the echo of the past life, past things, that may never come back. The author (heroine) is leaving us in suspense, because she will never reveal to us “the things he said” and “the promises he made”. The repeating formula “let me” reveals to us Rapunzel’s feelings and is establishing the tone of the poem. The first lines help us to hear our heroine’s voice tone, and to understand her suffering. Looking more at the first stanza, we can see many associations and connections between some words and the religious motif of prayer. The words “freezing and burning” are the extremes that help us to hear the echo of “Hell” (Rhetoric 102K class discussion, January 23 2001). In the same way the word promises in the Bible is synonymous with the word covenant (or Testament). In the fifth li…

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…ed by love, now has become the knowing one: ” I knew…I knew…I might have known.”

Looking at the last line of the sonnet we understand its purpose. Here, we see the image of many symbolic Rapunzels. The heroine is looking at the past and at the future, and realizes that her life is just one small piece, compared to the Eternal concept, or a concept of All. She realizes that the earthly life is not eternal and she is just a suffering traveler like many others.

Hay’s “Rapunzel” begins as a true worshiper, and finds her plight to be too disconcerting to communicate even to her Creator. So, she devolves into her own imaginings with groans so deep that only her soul can commune at this level. Prayer turns to song, song turns to fantasy, and in her heart, fantasy reveals tragic reality. Her only true hope is found in first heart cry: “Oh, God…”

The Man I Killed In Tim O Brien’s The Things They Carried

In Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, he emphasizes a chapter on “The Man I Killed”, which describes the characteristics of a young Vietnamese man in which O’Brien may or may not have killed with a grenade. The novel is not chronologically sequenced, which leaves more room for the reader to engage in a critical thought process that fully bridges the author’s mind to their own. In O’Brien’s chapter, “The Man I Killed”, he attempts to humanize the enemy in a way that draws little separation between the enemy and himself by relating the enemy’s life prior to the war to his, and illustrates the war through the eyes of the soldiers who fought it.
To understand “The Man I Killed”, the reader must first enlighten themselves upon O’Brien’s fictional character. In the earlier parts of the book, specifically “On the Rainy River”, the author describes himself as someone who never viewed himself as a soldier prior to the war. In American society it is an honor and a privilege to fight for one’s country, but if choosing to decline the call, one could face themselves with what O’Brien terms as “embarrassment”. As for O’Brien, he defined himself as not a soldier, but a scholar. In his own words he wrote he was “Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude and president of the student body and a full-ride scholarship for grad studies at Harvard. A mistake, maybe- a foul-up in the paperwork. I was no soldier” (O’Brien 39). Many college students could relate to him at the time, as they were called to war. By knowing anything about that time period in American history, most did not support
Preston 2 the war, especially educated college students. Yet, above all else, most willingly left for the draft despite their views opposing the war. When the author …

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… irrelevant that O’Brien may or may not have actually killed the boy on the trail outside of My Khe. Rather, we take a step into the minds of the ones who were called and imagine ourselves as in Vietnam.

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Tim O’Brien describes “The Man I Killed” to present the reader with a parallel illustrating a deceased enemy’s life prior to the war, and his own life before the war in order to allow the reader to view similarities of the enemy and himself. In all, readers can look beyond the fiction of the novel to assume many soldiers of the time felt the same as O’Brien did. Ignoring what is fact and fiction, we can relate to the war each in our own way. The two chapters intertwine with the entire book to establish a presence of sobering humility, and above all else we view the world inside the mind of a soldier who viewed the minds of others.

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