Summary of A Doll House

A Doll House is a play first performed in 1879, and written by Henrik Ibsen. Upon its publication, the play was praised for lifelike dialogue, realistic characters, and a compelling plot. The protagonist of the play is Nora Helmer, wife of Torvald Helmer, a middle class banker due for a promotion. As the story progresses, Nora’s self-esteem progressively worsens, and her mind fills with doubt about what she was once proud of. Nora does what she thinks is best for her family; however, her decisions are also rash and self-centered, and she frequently disobeys her husband.

       A Doll House is renowned for the meaningfulness of every scene, and this is certainly true of the reader’s introduction to Nora Helmer. One of the first scenes of the play involves Nora secretly eating macaroons that are directly forbidden by her husband. This sequence of events parallels the Biblical forbidden fruit, thus foreshadowing the disastrous events that will later occur. While Nora tries to avoid trouble, she is easily tempted, and is very vain as well. Later in the story she discloses that she saved the life of her husband by borrowing money to take a trip to Italy. In this scene, Nora appears to brag about her life saving bargain, and is very proud of her skills in attaining the money. While she thinks that she single-handedly saved her husband’s life, she actually borrowed the money illegally, causing a legal dispute between her and the man who she borrowed from. While she thinks that what she did was right, she soon finds out that she may have done more harm than good. In this way, Nora tries to be selfless, but her attempts usually end in failure.

While Nora may try to help her family, she also does many things simply for her own selfish ends. One example of Nora’s shortcomings is the frequent disobedience of her husband. Even in the short amount of the time that the story takes place in, Nora lies to her husband countless times. Almost the entire story revolves around Nora’s bad qualities, such as deceit, vanity, and greed. Nora may try to help her family sometimes, but the negatives always outweigh the positive effects of her help.

Overall, Nora is an interesting character who tries to do the right thing; however, she always ends up in more trouble than intended.

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Stereotype in The False Gems

The False Gems is a short story written by Guy de Maupassant. It is slightly satirical, and critiques the French society of the author’s time. There are several uses of different stereotypes in the story, as well as the use of stereotypical characters as foils for others. The author uses various stereotypes to supplement his satire; however, he also uses stereotypes as a foil to the characters.

The most obvious stereotype in the story is the unnamed wife of Monsieur Lantin. She is obsessed with her supposedly faux jewels, as well as a fascination with the theatre. She also appears to have no hobbies, and seems to wait all day until her husband comes home. This description of the wife is customary of the time of the story’s writing, and the author cleverly uses it to critique the society that he was a part. Another stereotype involving the wife is the apparent “love at first sight” at the start of the story. The very first sentence of the story is stereotypical in a way, describing Monsieur Lantin’s immediate affection for his future wife.  “Monsieur Lantin had met the young girl at a reception at the house of the second head of his department, and had fallen head over heels in love with her.” While she appears to be perfect in every way, it is later revealed that she has had some undercover dealings unknown to her husband. In this way she breaks away from her stereotype, and almost becomes the opposite of what she appears to be at the start of the story.

Similar to his wife, Monsieur Lantin also has a different side to his character, which is revealed at the same time as his wife’s. He goes from a semi-poor middle class citizen, to a wealth obsessed lunatic. The reason for both of the character’s opposite personalities is the gems. In this way, the gems are a foil to both characters, contrasting their normal behavior and exposing their greed and hunger for power. As the precious stones are a symbol for wealth, they are the perfect foil to expose these hidden traits, and the usage of the foil is expertly done.

Overall, the story uses stereotypes for satirical purposes, but the use of the gems as a foil to the characters is what makes this story very interesting and creates an appeal to all readers.


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A Modest Proposal

economic-historyA Modest Proposal is a satirical essay written is 1729. It is a fascinating example of irony, as well as harsh satire, which has made the phrase “A Modest Proposal” synonymous with sarcasm. The essay was written in response to widespread famine and poverty in Swift’s homeland of Ireland, and shows the desperate measures that some would go through to survive. Swift’s essay contains some of the best examples of irony ever recorded; however, his outstanding satire is what makes this piece of literature truly shine.

The irony is immediately established before the essay truly begins. The title, A Modest Proposal, is in itself an ironic statement. Swift’s proposal is not only grossly immoral, it isn’t modest either. The first sentence of the essay is also an ironic statement. In his opening sentence, Swift states that “It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms”. While Swift calls the sight melancholic, he describes it as at least saddening, if not horrific. This tone continues throughout the essay, as if Swift finds the famine only mildly irritating, and proposes the easiest solution to the problem. After a brief introduction describing Ireland’s troubles, Swift unveils his amazing new idea. From this point on, every sentence contains irony in some form or another. The irony contained in this essay is truly amazing and unique, and helps cement this essay as one of the greatest examples of irony ever created.

Throughout his essay, Swift utilizes satire as an effective way to communicate his point. His use of irony could be considered satire, but he primarily uses a dark humor to satirize the subject material. His matter-of-fact tone mocks the onlookers of the impoverished conditions that do nothing to help. This tone is almost comical at times, as Swift describes the consumption of children in great detail. Overall, the entire essay is satirical, and practically defined the art of satirizing a situation.

       A Modest Proposal is an amazing piece of literature that succeeds by its expert use of literary devices such as satire and irony.


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Author Profile: Charles Dickens

Dickens_Gurney_headCharles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812. His early years were idyllic, and he was enrolled in school until age twelve.

In 1822, Dickens’s father was sent to debtor’s prison, which would become his family’s new home. Dickens had no formal education from this point on, as his family was completely bankrupt. This unusual upbringing is likely the main contributor to his interesting writings. The themes of his writings often include poverty, horrid living conditions, and stingy upper-class citizens. These themes are known as Dickensian, and are apparent throughout his hundreds of stories. While he stayed in prison, he read extensively as a pastime and for education. After several months in prison, his grandmother died and left a will containing enough money to allow them to be released from prison.

Even though he no longer lived in prison, Dickens still lived in poverty for years. Later in life, he was very generous to the poor, and was eager to invest in new businesses.

In all, Dickens wrote fifteen novels, edited a newspaper for twenty years, and wrote hundreds of short stories before his death in 1870.

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The Prince by Machiavelli

The Prince is an amazing literary work, as the points made in it are still valid today, almost five hundred years after its publication. In his masterpiece, Niccolo Machiavelli uses a wide array of evidence to support his ideas, including, historical fact, legends, and direct quotations from historical figures. The ideas presented in The Prince are almost impossible to argue with, as they are presented along with many facts that support them. The Prince utilizes historical facts as well as current events to its advantage; however, it also uses more obscure and unusual ways of creating a picture of the perfect ruler.

By far the most prevalent form of evidence included in The Prince is historical fact. The book references many famous historical figures such as Hannibal, Scipio, and Ferdinand of Aragon. The author then judges their leadership, and applies his ideas to their rule. Although he often criticizes the rule of others, he also commends those that he admires. While addressing the problem of overspending, Machiavelli states “The present king of France wages almost constant warfare without imposing any extraordinary taxes on his country” (Foresman 396). By analyzing the different tactics used by various rulers, Machiavelli is able to easily compare and contrast complex issues, such as whether a ruler should be miserly or liberal. Overall, the usage of historical figures as a way of testing ideas is an ingenious and practical way of proving a point.

Another way that Machiavelli describes how a ruler should rule is through legendary references. Although these references are minor, they are very interesting. In his chapter titled “How Princes Should Observe Good Faith”, Machiavelli references Achilles and Chiron. These two figures would have been widely recognized at the time of the book’s publication, and readers would instantly identify with them. Another unusual way in which Machiavelli describes the ideal ruler is by comparing him with two different animals. Machiavelli states that the ideal ruler “should take as his models among the beasts the fox and the lion” (Foresman 399). The ruler should be able to detect traps like a fox, and then fight off enemies like a lion. Using this analogy, Machiavelli avoids complex and confusing ideas and statements. By using simple wording and beasts that every reader understands, Machiavelli creates a simple concept that is very different from the rest of the book.

 The Prince is an interesting example of how two different ways of conveying an idea can coincide to create an amazing argument for the author’s point.


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My Sonnet- A Walk in the Morn

bird-on-blooming-tree-326004When I walk outside in the morn,

I hear a bird singing its new spring song

I do not continue on the path for long

Before a new bird’s song is born

A squirrel darts past holding a huge acorn

The muscles of its legs are surely very strong

As it flies past, what could go wrong?

A hawk swoops low and from the ground the squirrel is torn.


As I walk past a peaceful, calm lake,

The surface of the water is broken by a fish

Soon to be eaten by a water-snake,

It will make a delicious dish

Now dawn is just a memory in the day’s wake,

A day as beautiful as this is my only wish.


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Symbolism in The Chronicles of Narnia

lwwThe Chronicles of Narnia is a series of novels written by C. S. Lewis. Although the series appears to be a collection of children’s novels, it includes many literary devices such as symbolism. The second book in the series titled The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe contains many references to religious symbolism; however, it also describes the author’s own religious journey towards Christianity.

The majority of the book takes place in a fictitious and magical land known as Narnia. Narnia is heavily symbolic of a perfect world, or heaven. At the start of the book an evil queen known as the White Witch has been ruling Narnia for one-hundred years. Upon the reader’s introduction to Narnia, one of the first scenes depicted is the White Witch’s temptation of Edmund, a young boy and central figure in the story. The scene closely resembles the temptation of Biblical characters Adam and Eve, as well as the temptation of Jesus Christ by Satan. Throughout the book the witch closely resembles the Devil, constantly tempting in a passive way, and rarely outright attacking the characters.

Another early example of symbolism in the novel is Mr. Tumnus who works for the White Witch and betrays his king. He represents many Biblical characters, such as Judas, as he betrays his lord for the enemy. He is also akin to the apostle Paul, as he works for the devil (or Witch) in the beginning of the novel, and then finds his way back to God by the end.

By far the most obvious example of symbolism in the Chronicles of Narnia is Aslan the lion. Aslan represents Jesus Christ or God, and possesses all of the qualities of a deity. He is the symbol for righteousness and peace, and eventually defeats the Witch after his resurrection from his death on the stone table, much like Christ. Overall, almost everything in the Chronicles of Narnia is a symbol for something, and there are countless examples in the series.

The book itself is also symbolic of a Christian’s journey toward Christ. In the beginning several characters fall to the temptations of the White Witch. However, all of these characters eventually find redemption by the novels end. This is very reminiscent of the author’s own struggle, going from worldly temptation to spiritual freedom and peace. The story also shows that even the servants of evil (or the Witch) who have betrayed their king can eventually be brought back through the love of their God (or Aslan).

The Chronicles of Narnia does an outstanding job of explaining the Christian faith through the symbolism in this fantastical tale.


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