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The Great Houdini

The Great Houdini

The performer known world wide as Harry Houdini was born on March 24, 1874 in Budapest. Although Houdini often claimed to be born in Appleton, Wisconsin, Houdini actually came to the United States when he was four years old. To this day many connected with the small town of Appleton still claim the untruth that Houdini was born there strictly to attract tourists. Houdini’s father was Mayer Samuel Weiss. Houdini’s father was a Rabbi. His mother’s name was Cecilia Steiner Weiss. His parents spoke little English, and the family was quite poor so most of the children began to work at an early age. From the age of eight young Ehrich Weiss sold newspapers and worked as a shoe shine boy. At the age of 12, young Ehrich left home to make his way in the world in an attempt to help support his family. Young Ehrich traveled the country for about a year, always sending money home when he could. Finally he joined up with his father in New York City. The family moved to New York in the hope of finding a better life there. In New York, Houdini worked as a messenger and as a cutter in a garment center sweat shop, to help support his family. Houdini began performing magic as a teenager first calling himself Eric the Great. Ehrich acquired the name Houdini from a book he read, “The Memoirs of Robert-Houdin,” the autobiography of one of the greatest magicians of the day. Influenced by what he read and learned about the internationally known magician Robert Houdin, young Ehrich changed his name to Houdini, hoping to be in some way like his new found mentor. Houdini’s first magic shows consisted of card tricks and other simple magic. Soon Houdini began experimenting with hand cuffs and using them in his acts. Houdini performed with another young man who worked with him in the factory in New York. They called themselves the Houdini Brothers. Soon Houdini’s younger brother Theo took the place of the boy from the factory. Together with his brother Theo, they tried to succeed as the Houdini Brothers. Their first performances included shows at amusement parks, beer halls, “dime museums,” and at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. In 1894, Houdini met Wilhelmina Beatrice Rahner, who was singing and dancing as part of the Floral Sisters.

The Themes of Euripides’ Medea

The Themes of Medea

Medea, a play by the Greek playwright Euripides, explores the

Greek-barbarian dichotomy through the character of Medea, a princess

from the “barbarian”, or non-Greek, land of Colchis. Throughout the

play, it becomes evident to the reader that Medea is no ordinary woman

by Greek standards. Central to the whole plot is Medea’s barbarian

origins and how they are related to her actions. In this paper, I am

attempting to answer questions such as how Medea behaves like a female,

how she acts heroically from a male point of view, why she killed her

children, if she could have achieved her goal without killing them, if

the murder was motivated by her barbarian origins, and how she deals

with the pain of killing her children.

As an introduction to the play, the status of women in Greek society

should be briefly discussed. In general, women had very few rights. In

the eyes of men, the main purposes of women in Greek society were to do

housework such as cooking and cleaning, and bear children. They could

not vote, own property, or choose a husband, and had to be represented

by men in all legal proceedings. In some ways, these Greek women were

almost like slaves. There is a definite relationship between this

subordination of women and what transpires in the play. Jason decides

that he wants to divorce Medea and marry the princess of Corinth,

casting Medea aside as if they had never been married. This sort of

activity was acceptable by Greek standards, and shows the subordinate

status of the woman, who had no say in any matter like this.

Even though some of Medea’s actions were not typical of the average

Greek woman, she still had attitudes and emotions common among women.

For instance, Medea speaks out against women’s status in society,

proclaiming that they have no choice of whom to marry, and that a man

can rid themselves of a woman to get another whenever he wants, but a

woman always has to “keep [her] eyes on one alone.” (231-247) Though it

is improbable that women went around openly saying things of this

nature, it is likely that this attitude was shared by most or all Greek

women. Later in the play, Medea debates with herself over whether or

not to kill her children: “Poor heart, let them go, have pity upon the

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