Thursday, November 21, 2013

Finding Identity

The play Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare presents the theme of identity confusion in many different ways. We see that When Viola washes ashore in Illyria; she pays the captain to disguise her as a male. When he does this, after a good pay, she takes on the name Cesario and enters the house of Duke Orsino as a servant. Things get interesting in the house because we can tell that Duke becomes attracted to Cesario, saying that he is comparable to Olivia, whom he claims he loves, with his womanly features. Similarly, when Duke sends Cesario over to Olivia’s house to read off another one of his ill-fated love letters proclaiming his passion for Olivia, she begins to fall in love with Cesario, and not Duke like what was intended to happen. This creates a very interesting love triangle, not only because everybody likes somebody different, but also because Cesario is actually Viola, a girl. This causes great problems because Olivia, thinking that she loves Cesario, is actually in love with another girl, Viola. More problems arise because of Viola’s striking resemblance to her thought to be dead brother, Sebastian. Antonio, a man who took in Sebstian after he washed up, and has seemingly fallen in love with him, enters Olivia’s house to find Cesario, along with Olivia, Andrew, Toby, Maria, among others. Because officers in Illyria do not like Antonio, because of his naval feud against Illyria, he is arrested. Thinking that Cesario is actually Sebastian, he calls on Cesario to give his purse back, which was given to Sebastian earlier in the play. And because Cesario obviously does not know what is happening, Antonio is heartbroken at Cesario rejecting him. Even more instances of identity confusion and deception occur when Sir Andrew and Sir Toby find Sebastian outside of Olivia’s house. Thinking that Sebastian is actually Cesario, who was about to duel Sir Andrew, they go after him. However, Olivia finds Sir Toby and Sebastian with swords drawn, and implores them to stop, mistaking Sebastian for the Cesario that she loves. Sebastian is greatly confused by this seemingly beautiful girl asking him to marry her, but he agrees.  Identity confusion is also rampant throughout the final scene.
Identity is something that many people have a hard time figuring out. Adolescents and college students many times are still searching themselves to find their identity, and in the process, go through many instances where they are confused at their identity. Zen meditation, for the past weeks that I have been there, has helped me to realize my identity not only for college, but also for what I want to do beyond. It has helped me to reflect on options for the future, internships, jobs, and even classes. Just this past week, Zen meditation has helped me to think about my identity in the sense of where I want to be next year, in terms of study abroad. It has helped me to decide what would be best for me; what program will bets fit the identity that I want to develop. I have always had some issues, and reflection has always helped me with those.

The most significant thing that I have learned this semester in this class is to appreciate all forms of writing. We have seen many different kinds of techniques and writing styles throughout the semester, and some of them at the face didn’t seem to be appealing. But going more in depth with the readings can show that there are much more than just the words that are being conveyed on the page. I have learned to have a deeper appreciation for all forms of writing that I may come across.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Finding Yourself

In the Twelfth Night or, What You Will by William Shakespeare, the main theme throughout the story is about identity. More specifically it discusses how the main characters are trying to find their true self and they do this by portraying someone or something else. The Duke and Olivia both seem to be displaying string emotions. Viola goes so far into actually changing her physical appearance in order to find herself. Also while volunteering at Tunbridge these past few weeks, I have also seen the kids trying to find their identity and even my supervisor since this is his first year teaching at Tunbridge.
            The Duke and Olivia could be seen as having the same identity crisis in that they both display over dramatic and exaggerated feelings. The Duke claims that he is in love with Olivia and is constantly sending over messengers to Olivia’s house, but is constantly being rejected. He also appears to be very indecisive in his feelings as shown in the very first stanza in the poem. At first he tells the musician to play a love song, “If music be the food of love, play on” then he says to play the song again, “That strain again!” and finally he tells them to stop because he doesn’t like the song anymore, “Enough; no more: ’T is not so sweet now as it was before.” Olivia is also very dramatic when she responds to the Duke’s constant confessions saying that she will not leave her house for seven years to grieve the death of her brother. This statement is sort of exaggerating the situation since a person should be able to grieve a loved one, but not for that long because then you wouldn’t be living a full life. The clown even points out her foolishness by stating that there is no point in grieving for brother since his soul is in heaven. At Tunbridge I have also seen and heard kids dealing with their identity and even exaggerating themselves. One of the other teachers was talking about how when they were discussing the Jim Crow laws, one the students asked if the laws would apply to her since she was born white and just became more and more black, the opposite of what Michael Jackson had. The teachers were having a laugh about it and reading the story reminded me about that little situation. The student was talking about her identity even though she was most likely she was just joking.
            The main protagonist in the play is Viola and she has the biggest issue with her identity. She is saved from a shipwreck and in this new land she decides to change her appearance and even her gender in order to work under the Duke and eventually discover her true feelings. She disguises herself as a man named Cesario and becomes the love messenger between the Duke and Olivia. She ends up falling in love with the Duke and continues to try to make Olivia love the Duke even though Viola truly loves him. My supervisor, Mr. Graeff, is teaching at Tunbridge for the first time and I feel that he is also trying to find himself and his place in the school. He tries to meet everyone needs and I saw this when him and another teacher were having a discussion about the mobile computer lab. Mr. Graeff had requested the laptops but the last teacher who used them still needed a couple to use so he let her and then the other teacher tells him how that is against policy and that he had an argument about that with the same teacher early in the year. Mr. Graeff also tells me how they are implementing a new style of teaching from Asia, where they concentrate a lot more on the process and working backwards from the answer. This is very difficult for the kids, but he is trying to find the best ways to teach the kids.
            The most surprising thing I learned this semester from this class is how much volunteering connects with the readings and just how good it feels to give back to the community. In almost every single reading from the class, I could relate back to my time while volunteering at Tunbridge. The books talk about universal themes such as family and heritage, identity, people you see as heroes and kids are in the beginning stage of their lives and you are able to see them experience these things. Giving up your time and helping those who could benefit from your help is a superb feeling because you know that assisted them in what would have been a harder task for them

Demonstration of Identity

In “Twelfth Night, or What You Will,” Shakespeare always seems to keep the suspense going throughout this play by generating a complex plot.  An ongoing theme that keeps this plot interesting is his use of identity.  There is much quandary within the characters circumstances as some do not know how they feel, some change their minds, and some just get put in awkward situations that make them question themselves.  When I volunteer with Soccer Without Borders, we make sure the kids stay true to their identities because they all are from different parts of the world.  Identity is important to them as it is to us, and we try to teach them how important it is to show them respect of each other’s cultural backgrounds.  Staying true to one’s identity is an important aspect of life and Shakespeare presents this idea in his own creative way throughout this play.
In this play, the relationships between characters intertwine and are connected whether the characters know it themselves or not.  There are multiple ways in which Shakespeare uses identity to help create this complicated, yet entertaining plot.  The first depiction of identity is when Viola decides to disguise herself as a young man, taking the name of Cesario, so she could work in Duke Orsino’s household.  This one form of trickery altars the rest of the play in many ways by creating sexual confusion within the ‘love triangle’ that becomes apparent.  Viola takes a bold risk by putting on male clothes and making everyone believe she is a young man because any wrong move could uncover her disguise.  What Viola thought to be a clever idea, only puts her in an awkward situation.  Because she is now ‘Cesario,’ she cannot tell Duke Orsino she loves him, and she cannot tell Olivia why she (as Cesario) cannot love her back.  This swap of identity becomes the central conflict in the play.  This identity swap soon becomes an issue in the final scene when everyone has a different idea of who she is.  Luckily for Viola, the appearance of Sebastian saves her by taking over the roles she was trying to maintain throughout the play all along.  Although she got what she wanted, this scene helps show how staying true to your own identity is necessary in order to stay out of trouble.
Another identity situation within the play is when the letter orders Malvolio to wear specific elements of clothing and to act in a certain way.  The letter writes, “Remember who commended thy yellow stockings, and wished to see thee ever cross-gartered: I say, remember” (33).  Malvolio takes the demands of the letter seriously and dresses opposite to how he usually would.  He changes his image because he does not know his own identity.  This shows how knowing one’s identity will help one be strong and independent.  This letter manipulates Malvolio into thinking he needs to do exactly what the letter says in order to succeed within this situation. 
This identity manipulation directly connects to working with the middle school students within Soccer Without Borders because every student is learning at a different pace depending on when they have become apart of the program.  We welcome each new student in the same respect and we want him or her to feel equally acceptable no matter what his or her circumstances may be.  We strive for every student to focus on their individual goals because they are all on different intellectual levels.  Soccer Without Borders brings together the activity of playing soccer in order to bring those together who enjoy such an exciting activity.  It makes me smile when I see these kids play on the field because their excitement and enjoyment fills me with a feeling I cannot even describe.  The idea of these students enjoying the environmental benefits the world has to offer makes me feel as though we have all contributed to something special.  Identity is something truly important to our soul because it directly correlates to who we are as individuals.  Shakespeare uses this theme to demonstrate the idea that identity is what identifies who we are. 

Contrasts of Identity

In Shakespeare’s Twelfth Nigh, or What You Will, Shakespeare develops clear contrasts in characters to portray a sense of the right and wrong ways to go about ones life to his audience. Orsino is used as a character that is extreme in his emotions and therefore does not have any clear and genuine feelings especially regarding love. Shakespeare uses Olivia as a character who, like Orsino, goes overboard in her emotions that are very different from societal norms. He uses Viola as a set contrast and positive outlook on how to be in control of one’s life and how to path the way for one’s own destiny. Shakespeare uses his characters Orsino, Olivia, and Viola to portray what happens to one’s character when their identities are skewed or disguised.
Orsino and Olivia’s identities are both very skewed. Orsino is a crazily indecisive with whether or not he actually loves Olivia. This begs the audience to question whether or not he is actually in love with her or the idea of her. Shakespeare shows that an incredibly uncertain character where his emotions go from one extreme to the next is not a good quality to have. Shakespeare leads his audience to believe that his impulsive, lovesick, over boisterous, and dramatic Orsino is actually just a man running after the outward appearance of Olivia as well as being the center of attention. Likewise, Olivia is also a character that loves to be in the limelight; her drama queen tendencies after her brother’s passing show this cleary. Shakespeare wants his audience to realize that no one in the world would want a person to mourn for them like Olivia chooses to do. Both Orsino and Olivia have skewed identities because they are so lost in being drama queens that they forget about true and genuine emotions and normal societal norms for going about life’s endeavors.
Viola disguises her physical identity into a man merely to be able to work for Duke Orsino as a pageboy. Viola gets shipwrecked on Illyria and is totally alone with a missing brother and nothing to her name and, although she comes from and noble background like Orsino and Olivia, her first instinct is to try to find a way to fend for herself. Unlike Orsino and Olivia who are both incredibly irrational and unrealistic Shakespeare uses Viola as someone who resembles mentality and practicality. The audience develops a certain understanding and compassion for Viola that Shakespeare meaningfully makes sure they are not able to feel for Orsino and Olivia. Viola’s actions and emotions are the ones that seem most real and genuine. Shakespeare uses Viola and contrasts her to these polar opposite characters in order to show that, although one may be of a higher class, this does not mean that they do not have the ability to be independent and in charge.
I went to see the play The Importance of Being Earnest here at Loyola. Deceit and actually not being so earnest were two big themes that ran through the play. In order to marry the ones they fell in love with, the two male leads in the play disguised their true identities; one even impersonating the other. The play is humorous and complicated with a strange happy ending just like the play we read in class. Like Shakespeare’s play, this play also had contrasts between morals and over exaggerations of the truth.
I never cease to be surprised at just how much reading and discussing different pieces of literature actually gives me an insight into the world. Yet, the most surprising and interesting thing I have done all this semester would be our iExamen’s. Although the tasks only asked no more than just a day, they helped me to be aware of the things I do on a daily bases and I am immensely grateful to have done them.

Dylan Liguori                                                                                                                       11/20/13

Dr. Ellis                                                                                         EN 101 Understanding Literature


            William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Or What You Will and The Importance of being Earnest by Oscar Wilde both put an emphasis on the aspects of identity and deception. In William Shakespeare’s play we see Viola dress up as a man (Cesario) to get her life back in order and work for either Olivia or the Duke. In Oscar Wilde’s play we see Earnest who also pretends to be his own brother Jack when he is out of town and Algernon who also pretends to be Earnest’s brother to take the hand of Earnest’s ward Cecily. With all of these lies and deceptive doings many problems arise which, but in the end most of these problems are resolved with the exception of Malvolio who pledges revenge against those who tricked him into thinking Olivia his one true love was in in love with him. Deception is a tricky game to play with, almost like gambling, you roll the dice, if you’re lucky you win, if you lose, then what was the point in lying in the first place at all?

            The first characters to use deception in both of these plays had harmless intentions, only to better themselves, not in a selfish way, but to create an advantage. Viola’s plan as we clearly see goes downhill. When she is sent to woo Olivia for the Duke, because the he sees her as handsome and young even though she is a woman, she goes without question. She impresses Olivia who was thought to be unwilling to see anyone for seven years due to her brother’s death, and Olivia asks Cesario to come back, not mentioning any responses to the Duke’s love for her besides that he should give up. When all of this unravels and Viola’s brother comes into the picture and beats up Sir Toby and Sir Andrew and Cesario is blamed and Cesario is thought to be married to Olivia, Viola is sentenced to be killed. Then Sebastian finds Antonio and his sister, and the foggy air is finally cleared. In regards to Wilde’s play, both Algernon and Earnest find themselves in the predicament of being engaged to women, who don’t know their true names. This leads to misgivings, and everything almost falls apart until Jack finds out his real name is Earnest and that his mother is Lady Bracknell’s son. Many events unfolded and could have ended up for the worst, but the lucky roll of the dice proved useful in both of these play’s conclusions.

            I never was a good writer in high school, whether or not it was from focusing more on math and other subjects that interested me, or maybe I didn’t have the skill of writing. Either way, I have found out that when something in literature interests me, I can almost always type up a coherent and flowing essay. When it is a piece of work that maybe doesn’t appeal to me because of my lack of knowledge on the subject or it just bores me then I can’t seem to write my best work. With this observation I have come up with a hypothesis to mitigate this problem to a level that will remain tangible throughout the rest of my college career. If not amusing to me I will try to interpret the story or poem in a peculiar not normal way to my liking. This is very risky because my thoughts may differ tremendously from the meaning at hand but I predict it will be a useful tool for me in future writings. Among the vast amount of new techniques and different ways of analyzing poems, short stories and poems, the most interesting thing I gained in writing the six blogs was how to improve my writing skills.


Twelfth Night, or What You Will, written by William Shakespeare and "Did Ancient Identity Depend on Ethnicity?" presented by Dr. Erich Gruen present identity, the overarching theme.  In this comedy, Shakespeare cleverly places love and identity at the heart of the play.  Shakespeare waste no time in exploring the idea of both, leaving his audience with an explicit understanding.  In comparison, Dr. Gruen leads us to analyze the origins of identity by analyzing its relevance to the ancient world and modern world.  He does not hesitate to do this, which reflects the importance of this idea.

In Twelfth Night, or What You Will, written by William Shakespeare we are immediately introduced to the problem of love.  Simply put, Shakespeare mirrors the Duke and Olivia, two characters with similar characteristics in regards to love.  Both are intrigued by the idea of love, and through this we become aware of their traits.  As neither one is willing to submit to one another they begin to build a relationship around Viola, whom is under disguise.  Here, we see that love and identity are at the climax of the play.

In search for her identity, Viola takes on a role that is less than revealing of her moral character.  In Viola not only do the characters come to learn what deep love is, the audience begins to learn that identity is not as much a difference than love.  Throughout the play characters struggle with their sense of identity, playing it safe by masking/disguising their true character.  As the play begins to unfold, the audience and characters are indirectly in search for their identity.  Through the loss of identity, we find love.

Dr. Erich Gruer's "Did Ancient Identity Depend on Ethnicity?" maintains a take on the ancient world and modern world vocabulary.  He furthers his discuss by first identifying what identity and ethnicity are and then juxtaposing the two.  Actually, he is very successful with exploring the underlying meaning of the two.  Dr. Gruer sets the foundation for the meaning of identity, how it is used in modern society, and how that can be applied to how significant, if at all, it was to the ancients.  With frequent reference to stories within the Bible, Dr. Gruer relates the topic to Jesus Christ in a sense.  In exploring identity we also come to realize that identity stems from the basic human needs of life.

The most important thing I learned this semester was to correctly analyze literary works.  Where I failed to fully interpret the works, I definitely found joy in hearing what my classmates had to say.  Not only was I able to ask further questions but it allowed me to understand that Loyola does have a body of talented individuals.  Whether we were right or wrong we each seemed to help each other further what they had to say.  We led each other into wanting to discuss and participate in the lectures.  If that is one thing to take away from this class then that would be it.


            The characters in The Twelfth Night have very misconstrued self-identities, for example, Orsino believes he knows who he is and what he wants, but in fact he does not. On the other hand, Viola knows her self very well, while she is technically is disguised. While Dr. Erich Gruen would probably also criticize the character’s skewed self-perception, he would undoubtedly agree with the way their base their identity- on their character, not on their race.
            Duke Orsino shows his confusion of self immediately to the readers. In his first speech, he begins by raving about the music that is playing, “If music be the food of love, play on”. He makes his affections clear, but they do not last long. Only lines later, he asks for the same music to be stopped. “Enough, no more/’T is not so sweet now as it was before”, he states. His back and forth mindset indicates something about his nature- he is hot one minute and cold the next. One minute he may feel passionately about something, however the next he may want nothing to do with it. Shakespeare invites the reader to understand that this is part of his character. Therefore, the reader can infer that while he may feel passionately about Olivia at the beginning of the play, there’s no predicting how he may feel at a later time. The Duke is unable to see this about himself, however. He refuses to relinquish his desire to win Olivia over; rather he persists no matter how many times she rejects his advances. His finicky nature is also demonstrated when he proposes to Viola immediately after finding out she is not Cesario, but a woman. He may see himself as a romantic and dedicated lover, but in fact he is not. If he were so, he would not have given up on Oliva so easily. Likewise, he may identify as a romantic, but that does not make him one. A romantic would be doing anything and everything to win the woman he loves over. Orsino, however, only sends others to do his bidding. There is nothing romantic about a woman receiving messages through pages from a man who claims to love her.
            Conversely, Viola seems to have the clearest self identity in the play. Ironically, she is the one disguising herself, but she can see herself the clearest. She maintains her honor throughout the play, even if it means sacrificing her happiness. She is willing to do so due to her self-identity as an honorable and good person. She is able to watch the man she loves pine over someone else, and even help him woo her. She stays true to her identity in this manner. She knows she could stoop to the level of sabotaging their interactions, but she does not. She will not sacrifice her identity as a good and honorable person by doing so. When she finally reveals herself at the end of the play, her identity has not changed. Her appearance and desires do not change whom she really is, neither does the way she dresses.
            Dr. Erich lectured on the difference between identity now and in the ancient world. Today, everyone identifies with his or her race or nationality. Race lines and nationality divide our culture. In ancient times, however, identity was similar to the way identify is seen in The Twelfth Night. Peoples during those times only identified themselves with who they were as a person, not by the color of their skin.
            The way Dr. Erich describes Identify is parallel to the way Shakespeare’s characters identify themselves. One’s identity, they believe, comes from who someone is, not from what race they are. Although the characters are sometimes unable to identify who they really are, they still base their self-image on who they are, not how they look. That is how everyone should identify himself or herself, through careful reflection of who they really are, not on their skin tone or nationality. What makes you who you are is your behavior, not your ancestors.