1. Activity 8: Write a poem on something I’d like to be free from
I’d like to shed, my busy head.
It’s full of sound and fury.
It spins all day, and I must say,
It hounds my heart with worry.
I don’t know why, I pace and sigh.
Perhaps it’s cuz, I truly love
Life here in my cocoon.
Could I fear the day I break away
When I am fully grown
Of a world that’s not my own?
2. Activity 12: Write a realistic poem about a circumstance in the world that I care about
They came for religious freedom
Then embraced persecution
Ironic to be called Puritans
When they were filthy deep inside
3. Activity 4: Choose a topic for an essay of argumentation
After giving the question some thought, I’ve decided to write on the topic of immigration. In the last few years, I’ve heard some negative comments about immigration and immigrants on news programs, as well as in classes and in casual conversations on the street and around campus. Many of those comments are factually incorrect. They stereotype immigrants in unfair, even malicious ways. I want to set the record straight.
4. Activity 1: What is the code I live by? My morals.
I admire the primary principle of the Hippocratic Oath that physicians use to guide their behavior: first, do no harm. That’s how I try to live my life. I avoid subscribing to absolute dos and don’ts that, in reality, are arbitrary and are often associated with an organized religion. An example would be to eschew dancing or to wear my hair a certain way simply because someone, years ago, decided that was a rule that everyone should follow. Instead, I try to accept people for who they are, so long as they don’t appear to be doing harm to other people, other life forms or the planet. That’s how I behave and so I expect people to accept me in return. Live and let live.
5. Activity 4: Rough Draft of Argumentation Essay
If You’re Not Informed, Don’t Comment
My pet peeve is with people who make negative or bigoted comments about other people or issues without first taking the time to become informed about the topic. In class discussions or in informal conversations around campus, I often hear negative remarks about immigrants, old people, other nationalities, members of a religious group, working class people or some other sub-group. Usually, these comments are inaccurate, as are the statistics or stories used to back them up. Take immigrants, for instance. There is a notion held by some people that immigrants are bad for America. It is said that they take jobs away from native-born people, that they come here just to get free health care or to go on welfare, or that they are secretly plotting to overthrow the government. These charges are completely untrue. In fact, immigrants are actually good for America.
Today, there are about 41 million foreign-born people living in the United States, 22.1 million of whom are non-citizens. In 2012, 11.6 percent of immigrants had a master’s or doctorate degree, as compared with only 10.8 percent of native-born citizens. Less than 1 in 5 immigrants lives in poverty and they are no more likely to use social services than are native-born people. They are less likely to commit crimes or to be incarcerated than native-born Americans.
I’ve also heard some really nasty things said about Muslims. Many of those making these statements don’t even know any one who is Muslim. They just assume that because some of the world’s terrorists happen to be Muslim, everyone who practices Islam is dangerous or wants to do harm to innocent people. As with the hostility directed at immigrants, negative feelings about Muslims are born from ignorance.
The fact is that, in the US “since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly twice as many people have been killed by white supremacists, antigovernment fanatics and other non-Muslim extremists than by radical Muslims” (NYTimes, 2015). Interestingly, the vast majority of those homegrown terrorists are not Muslim. Often, the worst crimes, including mass murders, care carried out by young people who are native born and express no ideological or religious views as justification for their crimes.
I am not intolerant of views that are opposed to mine, but I do find it difficult to put up with extreme, defamatory comments that hurt people and possibly incite violence. It’s not difficult to do a bit of research to inform oneself about a topic before taking a stand in public.
Center for American Progress. The Facts on Immigration Today. Washington, D.C.: Office,
Pinotti, Paolo. “Clicking on Heaven’s Door: The Effect of Immigrant Legalization on Crime,” The Cato Institute. Washington, D.C.: Office, 2014. Web.
Shane, Scott. “Homegrown Extremists Tied to Deadlier Toll than Jihadists in US Since 9/11,” The New York Times, June 24, 2015. Web.
6. Essay on The Scarlet Letter
The Double Standard in the Scarlet Letter
While Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, can’t be characterized as a feminist novel, it may be seen as a proto-feminist work in that it highlights the inhumane treatment and double standard that was enforced by the Puritan establishment. Hester Prynne is punished and labeled—literally—for the crime of adultery, which certainly carries hints of misogyny. However, Dimmesdale, the father of Hester’s illegitimate child, is also punished. Although his part in Hester’s crime is not publicly revealed until near the novel’s end, he is full of guilt and tries to expiate his sin in secret, torturing himself to the point of illness. He even carves an A on his chest.
Meanwhile, Hester’s husband, Chillingworth, is the real evil presence in the novel. Hester and Dimmesdale don’t hurt anyone with their supposed sin except themselves and Pearl, their child, and that is due not to their behavior per se, but to the narrow-minded, unfair legal system of the Puritan colony. Chillingworth deliberately hurts both Hester and Dimmesdale, as well as Pearl, all because he wants revenge for being cuckolded. He can’t forgive Hester, even though she thought he was dead when she became lovers with Dimmesdale.
The double standard in the novel is less about men versus women than it is about patriarchy versus freedom or nominal sin versus genuine evil. Because Chillingworth appears to obey social mores and religious rules, he is considered a moral, upright person, even though he is, at heart, wicked. Hester, on the other hand, is viewed as a sinner and cast out of the community because she disobeyed a rule. She is considered bad, even though she does good works for others and faced up to her mistakes by having her child and doing her best to raise it.
It’s interesting to note that Hester may have internalized this view of herself as a sinner, since she lives out her life on the margins of the community and continues to wear her scarlet A. Or it may be that she wears the A and makes a spectacle of herself specifically to make a point: that a woman can do good deeds and be likable even though she committed adultery. Perhaps that is Hester’s way of providing a bit of cover for other women who find themselves in similar circumstances. If another young woman has an illegitimate child, or breaks some other rule of the patriarchy, she can look to Hester and know that the error is survivable. Wearing the A may be Hester’s way of pushing back against the judgmental establishment, a sort of “in your face” act, albeit passive-aggressive. After all, that is probably the only type of resistance open to a woman in Hester’s circumstances.
If one uses the common understanding of feminism as simply a pro-woman movement, the novel can’t be said to be a feminist work because Dimmesdale suffers as much as Hester, even though his suffering is private. If, however, one defines feminism more broadly as a pro-human philosophy, following Hillary Clinton’s declaration that “women’s rights are human rights,” then The Scarlet Letter may be viewed as porto-feminist. It certainly points out the unjust and shortsighted enforcement of rules that are biased and serve to enable an elite group of men to control an entire population.