Alright, so for me, Leviathan was a pretty interesting read. To be completely honest, I haven’t really developed a full opinion on it. Speaking on the book generally, I think that it was intriguing—yes, but without a doubt, DEFINITELY dull and at times. I guess what I can say though, is that Hobbes brings up some thought-provoking ideals , though some that I don’t necessarily agree with; or perhaps do, but only to an extent.

For instance, a point that really caught my attention, was Hobbes’ views on religion and how it stems from fear of the unknown. He stresses this adamant notion that religious practices and belief in God should not be practiced outside of one’s home.But instead of just religion, Hobbes further describes how our fear of a painful and violent death is a major factor as well. However, I found that learning of the Leviathan as a whole was immensely intriguing.  Essentially, Hobbes describes how we should look to a higher superior power to defend and protect us; to maintain an orderly state. He basically describes how citizens should not obtain much control and should thus be stripped of rights. However, a living environment such as the one that Hobbes has suggested, in my opinion, would be the least bit beneficial. Think about it, who would actually desire to live in a society where one’s rights and freedoms were neglected or taken away? A place where freedom of thought, speech, personal opinions were non-existent and merely unheard of.  I think that Hobbes means well, but the way in which he sees a perfect state is a place that is completely controlled and taken over by a set group of individuals, or set laws to keep it orderly. In one of our seminars we discussed if Canada need be more Hobbesian, or if we, as a nation are already Hobbesian enough. I think that we are Hobbesian enough. I don’t think that we, as citizens, need to be completely controlled by the government. Call me crazy, but I think having a say is a pretty important thing. Plus, with giving citizens more power and ability to make their own decisions, wouldn’t the need for strict protection be a bit less necessary? Taking away people’s rights to express themselves would case a great uproar, so perhaps allowing them the ability to put their own input and express themselves would eliminate the need for a completely Hobbesian state, a Leviathan (to a small extent at least!)

All in all, Leviathan brings up some pretty good points forcing you to really carefully analyze what it is he is trying to convey.

The Prince — Analysis

I find myself to thoroughly enjoy shorter reads that are filled with much insight and knowledge, and I think that The Prince by Machiavelli does exactly that. However, I did not find this read to be all that interesting to me. I initially thought that this book would strike my interest and by right up my alley when it came to preferences, but that was definitely not the case for me here. But in spite of this opinion, I thought that the text was substantial and a great outline of how one can gain power and superiority.

This text is quite reminiscent to Plato’s account, as they merely take the same route by creating an intricate guide to help others succeed in a certain area. Much like Plato’s Republic, The Prince describes step-by-step the way in which a man should act, or the course he should take if he desires to prevail as a Prince. Upon reading Machiavelli’s guide to success, I began to compare past characters we have analyzed in this course to Machiavelli’s expectations and rules; basically seeing which characters are Machiavelli, and which are not. Machiavelli’s dialect acts as a mere handbook dictating the seemingly proper way in which one should rule.

Furthermore, I also found in this book that Machiavelli expresses how a Prince mustn’t be dominated by emotion. I found this to be interesting, for as stated above, this particular rule or standard, is quite similar to Plato’s handbook, which states that guardians should not show extreme emotion of any sort for they will appear as weak. Also, in the guide, Machiavelli also states how a Prince must maintain a proper illusion of goodness to find confidence in his citizens, as a means of strengthening his support from fellow citizens in his nation. With all these little suggestions and rules, I think that it is safe to say that Machiavelli makes extreme presumptions about us as human beings. He is quick to generalize humans, and thinks that we are easily manipulated and naïve.  Although I believe that instilling a strong, political structure in a nation is of great importance, I do think that Machiavelli has some harsh and cruel expectations.

Overall, I found this to be a somewhat intriguing read. Although I got bored at many parts and found this book to be more of a task than a fun and interesting read, I thought that it was alright.

The Tempest

The Tempest was a particularly interesting read for me. I found that it was more enjoyable than I thought it would be. I happen to find fiction and play-like reads to be easier for me, since it doesn’t appear to be as difficult of a task. Essentially, I find that plays are a friendlier read (if that even makes sense), less overwhelming for me.

With that being said, The Tempest kept me invested and entertained as a reader. I greatly enjoyed it as a whole. From the plot, to the magical aspects of the play, and the complexity of the characters; everything, I found was quite interesting. In class we analyzed many parts of The Tempest, that of which being how a predominant theme in this play is centered around stagecraft and the theatre itself. I found that it was interesting learning of how this play was interpreted and presented during Shakespearean times, as it addresses audiences directly and it’s power over other people.

Additionally, upon reading The Tempest, the lingering thought about monstrosity was in my mind. In this play, monsters are greatly looked down upon, mocked, and immensely belittled. Essentially, they are viewed as unnatural, outsiders, and deceptive. This particular stereotype has a great effect on one character in particular, Caliban. With Caliban being perceived and represented as a figure for monstrosity, I believe that he is a mere victim in this case. He is bullied by others that merely have the power to demean and undermine his intelligence, which significantly and heavily disadvantages Caliban’s confidence, and ability to defend himself from constantly being harassed and looked down upon.

While reading this, I also definitely got a sense Prospero’s character as well. For instance, Prospero greatly demeans Ariel, making him feel forever indebted to him. Essentially, I got a sense of how Prospero is abusive, and greatly takes advantage of Ariel, demonstrating his superiority and narcissism, whereas Ariel expresses his fearful and submissive attitude towards his mistreatment.  I also found it quite captivating with how The Tempest is Shakespeare’s final play that he wrote. Thus, I thought that Prospero’s monologue when he explains how he is going to get rid of his books containing magic was an excellent way to relate both conceptsAs a whole, I found The Tempest to be a great classical play to read. I felt as though I was able to engage with the characters and the storyline.

Robinson Crusoe Analysis

In my opinion, I would say that I really enjoyed Robinson Crusoe. I feel like people had many different reactions or opinions regarding this particular novel, however I thought it was far more interesting than many other books we have read thus far.

Initially, I was pretty skeptical about reading a story such as this, mainly because it looked like a daunting task. The font was smaller than usual, and it seemed like the story was one that would drag on. However, with that being said, Robinson Crusoe really intrigued me. From the start, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and got quite invested with the story.

Robinson Crusoe tells of a story about a man forced to survive on his own on a deserted island. He is forced to rely solely on himself, and the nature that surrounds him if he wants to survive longer than just a few days. I think that Robinson Crusoe teaches valuable lessons to readers. There are the obvious lessons, that of which being that Crusoe exemplifies a true survivor in the face of adversity, however, there is an underlying lesson that it teaches. I think that Robinson Crusoe demonstrates an improvement in one’s character; how experiences such as these shape a person, and change them for that matter. Thus, I think that Robinson Crusoe is a man to be greatly acknowledged for the way he handled the obstacles that were put before him. Rather than backing down and surrendering to his misfortune, he does the opposite, and finds ways to conquer every battle.

Crusoe demonstrates the way an individual should act in such scenario. His fearlessness and willingness to succeed is very evident throughout the novel as a whole. In my opinion, Robinson Crusoe is exceptionally written, and the narrative makes readers feel like they are more involved in the story.

I thought that the novel was intriguing and immensely captivating with each turn of a page. I became more and more invested, desiring to read further on every chance I could. Contrary to many other people, Robinson Crusoe is by far one of my favourite reads in this course.

This wasn’t a dreary historical account, or a boring adventure story. Robinson Crusoe, (in my opinion at least) is a detailed narrative that really allows the reader to get a deeper sense of Robinson Crusoe as a person, and how he describes life through his eyes.

Beowulf Response

I really enjoyed reading this epic tale. I found Beowulf to be one of the more intriguing reads on the list so far. For starters, I definitely enjoyed the copious amounts of pictures throughout the epic. The edition I purchased at the bookstore made reading it much more enjoyable, and grasped my attention way more than reading the tale just as a normal paperback. Maybe I’m just more of a visual learner, but having pictures to connect to the lines I read helped me better understand Beowulf as a whole.

I think a big question throughout reading this particular piece, is deciphering who the real monsters are. Initially, we think that Grendel, Grendel’s mother, and the dragon are all very monstrous characters. Initially, this thought makes sense. However, I have come to realize, that my thoughts regarding this matter are quite inaccurate. I’ve come to realize, that all these characters are not monstrous, for they all show a sense of vulnerability, and a reason for the way the act. Grendel merely just wants to fit in, his mother just wants to avenge her son’s death like any other mother would want to, and the dragon is only protecting what is rightfully his. I have come to better understand these characters, and their lack of monstrosity. Rather than showing disdain towards them, or view them as antagonists against Beowulf, I actually grew to like them. From reading this, I have learned that what we sometimes wrongfully perceive characters as being monstrous, and lacking any logical and acceptable reason for the way they act. However, in the case of Beowulf, I have indeed learned otherwise.

Having read Beowulf, I learned of the importance his assistance and presence was to others. The influence and impact that he had on many lives as a man to look up to, a man people seek for answers and help in difficult times. Beowulf clearly demonstrates his immense heroic sense of character, as heroism is most definitely a major theme in this epic poem as a whole. This epic tale is also quite a tragedy as well. We witness Beowulf’s life come to an end, in spite of the great contributions he made. Beowulf is a man who fought for his community, and did everything in his power to protect them from any evil.

All in all, I found Seamus Heany’s translation of Beowulf to be a very good read. I thoroughly enjoyed the piece as a whole, and I greatly applaud Beowulf for his heroic gestures, and the noble man that he is.

Christopher Columbus: Four Voyages

So upon reading the Four Voyages, I definitely had some mixed feelings. With all the books that we have read so far in this course, in my opinion, this book was the most fact, historically based one. With that being said, I found this book to be a bit more difficult because of how factual it is. But I did think that it was somewhat interesting in spite of this.

I did, however, find his log book of his voyages somewhat interesting. Perhaps it is how the text was set up, the formatting, but I found that this was a more intriguing part of the book. Reading what Columbus and his crew did each day and the progress, or lack thereof, they made along their voyage was really the only part that kind of got my attention.

Relative to how other people felt about this read, I learned a lot of things about Christopher Columbus that I never otherwise would have known. Growing up, I never further looked into his background, or the kind of man he was. I was simply just under the impression that, “oh cool, Columbus, the dude who sailed the oceans and contributed a lot to history and stuff.” To be completely honest, I never really knew all that much about him. But one thing that I thought I knew for sure, was that he contributed greatly to the world with his discoveries, and being the first man to sail around the world. However, upon reading this, I have learned of a whole other side of Mr. Columbus. Basically, I learned that my perception of him was pretty flawed. Christopher Columbus isn’t the man that I thought he was. I noticed that he is a man of greed, a man that would also make exceptions for his short comings. Makes me wonder that perhaps Columbus is not worth all the novelty and fame he has received from naïve people like me.

So I guess you could say that from reading the Four Voyages, I was quite disappointed and kind of shocked, having been exposed to the real Columbus; the ruthless and materialistic man that he has proven to be. Christopher Columbus is a man filled with many broken promises, which is something I never realized before. It makes me question that maybe he is somewhat of a monster to an extent. One thing that I will say I respect about this book, is the fact that it does show events from Columbus’ point of view. Despite my criticism and skepticism about his character, reading the Four Voyages allowed me to read his accounts first hand, getting a better idea of what he was experiencing through his own words.

Oedipus the King

So this read was definitely easier than Plato, that’s for sure. I also enjoyed this play particularly more as well. This was a kind of book that really made me sympathize for the characters in many ways. Talking about the play as a whole, I really enjoyed this. To further elaborate, I find these twisted, yet short tragic plays to be very interesting. I greatly enjoyed Medea, so this play was definitely one that grabbed my interest instantly.

It’s somewhat tragic, and depressing, since Oedipus starts out as such a well respected, praised king. He doesn’t expect the death of King Laius to come back to him in any way in the end, yet it does. I found this read interesting because I thought that it was somewhat surprising. As a reader, I did not expect Oedipus to be responsible for his father’s death, or engage in incest with his mother.

Quickly into the play, I noticed Oedipus’ quick fall from grace. Essentially, his life just disintegrates into disastrous chaos, and there isn’t really anything he can do to fix it. I also thought that it was really unfortunate how he happened to kill his own father. It could have been anyone on that dividing road, yet it happened to be King Laius himself. I also got the sense of Oedipus being unable to avoid his fate. In a sense, it is ironic, because at the beginning of the play, he is so adamant on finding who it was that killed their late king, and killing him instantly. The fact that Oedipus had absolutely no idea that the murderer is he himself, makes you sympathize for him. All he wanted to was to be a good leader, though little did he know that everything would be taken away from him.

As the play came to a close, I also noticed the love he feels for his daughters, which I initially did not realize. In the end of the play, he states that his sons are free to go on their own, and are capable of leading their own lives. However, he demonstrates this fear for his daughters’ well being—showing his love and concern for them. I found this quite interesting, because I was under the impression that in the Greek world, sons were of more importance and value, but Oedipus goes against that in this play, and reveals the love and compassion he has for all of his children, not just his sons.

All in all, I thought this was a very good read.

Republic (Part One) Response

So much like everyone else, reading this first half of Plato was quite challenging to say the least. I’d say that the first book was definitely harder to get through than the rest of it though. I have never read any of Plato’s work, but I now know that it will most likely be philosophical, or require quite a bit of detailed analysis (not saying there’s anything wrong with that). I also felt that I had to focus really hard to clearly understand what was going on. Basically, it was kind of a task to concentrate while reading this book.

But anyways, much like other people who have posted, I too, have heard about Socrates prior to reading the Republic, but I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of him yet. Speaking on the Republic as a whole, I realized that this book proposes many questions that people have yet to find the answers to. The Republic’s meaning is still undefined which further strikes people’s attention.

What particularly caught my interest was the heated conversation of what it means to be just and unjust with Socrates and Thrasymachus. Reading their continuous refutes of each other’s beliefs and statements was of great interest to me. However, I did find that for many aspects of their debate, there were oftentimes moments where I would need to re-read a certain argument a few times, just to fully understand and make sense of it. But asides from that, I found their different perspectives intriguing. For instance, like how Socrates argued that justice is a virtue and injustice is a vice, whereas Thrasymachus disagreed and stated that those who are unjust will prosper over those who are just. Another aspect that was of interest to me was the way Socrates argued. I’m not too sure about what everyone else though, but I found his questioning somewhat like a lawyer interrogating the accused. From what I read, Socrates had a very persuasive and intimidating approach, which clearly seemed to work, upon having Thrasymachus blush in the end. With that being said, I particularly agree with Socrates’ views on justice.

Another idea that was of interest to me was the concept of a perfect city and Socrates’ perspective regarding societal ways. According to Socrates, an idealistic state is restricted to censorship of religion, ideas, and stories, just to list a few. I do not necessarily agree with his views, though I enjoyed viewing this topic from a different perspective; to challenge my stance.

Although being a difficult read, the Republic so far is an interesting book that definitely needs to be further analyzed. See you all in the seminar!

Genesis Response

Like Vincent and Julianna, I too am pretty familiar with the book of Genesis. Having gone to a catholic school for all thirteen years, the Bible and more particularly the book of Genesis is no surprise to me. However, although being very familiar with this book, I have never actually read it fully. I was usually just told about particular stories, or people; never the whole story of Genesis itself. So reading Genesis provided me with a fuller understanding of the book.

I don’t really know how to really convey my thoughts about reading Genesis, so I’ll just talk about what stood out for me and what I noticed.

Because of my background knowledge on biblical stories and the different books in the Bible, I knew many of the basic stories or people in Genesis, like the story of Adam and Eve, Abraham, Judah, Joseph etc. Upon actually taking the time to read Genesis, the temptation story particularly stood out to me, the reason being that it kind of reminds me of The Odyssey in some ways. For one, the serpent used disguise and deception to appeal to Eve and trick her into eating from the tree that God told her not to. This story basically describes the importance of being able to distinguish good from evil, such a simple concept to most people. I found that it’s pretty interesting how some of these things that we now know as common knowledge, or never really thought about, first appeared in the Bible; like Eve’s commission of the first sin, or how because of her misjudgment, her punishment was the pain of giving birth. Basically, those little things that I never exactly paid attention to stuck out to me.

Another instance that definitely reminded me of The Odyssey was when Joseph pretended he didn’t know his own brothers when they came to get food before the famine. Much like Odysseus, Joseph hid the truth of his identity though later revealed himself.

However, although I am familiar with this text, that doesn’t necessarily, mean I found it interesting. Perhaps it’s because I was constantly told of the Bible throughout my years of school, but it isn’t something that I particularly enjoy reading. I would have enjoyed a novel, or an epic more than reading Genesis. I found the read to be tedious and honestly, pretty boring. There were so many names of children, or brothers being constantly listed, and that lost my interest because it just felt like a task to read. Certain aspects of Genesis were somewhat intriguing to me, though the majority of it didn’t quite strike my interest.

Medea Response

So I definitely forgot to post my response on reading Medea… but here it is! Sorry for submitting this late!

But anyways, in comparison to The Odyssey, I definitely thought that Medea was an easier read. Upon reading Medea, the most prominent thought I had was, “Wow… this woman is seriously messed up.” From reading this, I learned of how crazy Medea is. Initially I feel for her. I understand and sympathize for her, because being left for another woman must be a really awful thing to get over. I thought Jason was in the wrong for the pain he had caused Medea, but that opinion quickly changed.

I understand why Medea seeks revenge on Jason, his new wife and her father, but she handles the situation in such an irrational way. She resorts to deceptive tactics, and trickery to get rid of her “enemies.” By making her children give the princess gifts that will lead to her demise, Medea basically reveals her ruthlessness. Clearly, she will stop at nothing until she receives vengeance.

What stood out most for me, was how Medea thought that taking the lives of her children was an effective way to get back at Jason. She talks of wanting to kill her two sons as punishment for the pain that Jason has inflicted on her. She reveals her sadistic and definitely irrational mind, to say the least. Honestly though, what kind of mother is heartless enough to take the lives of her any child, let alone her OWN children? Prior to committing the murder, she even hesitates and questions whether or not it is the right thing to do. She drifts in and out of rational thinking, which shows that she knows that desiring to kill her children is wrong. But she still does so in the end, and flees from the crime scene as well.

In my opinion, Medea is an irrational woman who needs a wake up call. She does things purely out of anger without really thinking about the consequences of her actions. Rather than handling the situation better, she goes insane and seeks retribution.