Text Connections


The Crucible

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As we read Arthur Miller’s historical fiction account of the Salem witch trials, I couldn’t help but think of how if only the villagers had kept a more optimistic outlook they may have survived through the trials, but as it happened, the trials left them as a torn town. There were many circumstances in The Crucible where the villagers acted rashly before thinking. If they only had thought of the possible outcomes, they may have been able to stop the pandemonium in their town. The entire trials to begin with were based off of false accusations. A few of the village girls had been caught dancing (quite a naughty behavior in puritan society). To avoid punishment, they spun a tale of deception stating that they had been forced to by the devil. In their frenzy of creating this story they began to switch around the blame hence bringing many to their deaths. It seems so clear to me that these girls must have been just trying to save themselves as they had no real evidence to support their claims. The girls saw the small punishments they may have faced as unbearable. As Oscar Wilde once said, “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise”. The girls failed to realize that they may hurt for a short time but in the long run they would become stronger people. If only they had kept an optimistic outlook, they may have been able to prevent the deaths of many of their fellow villagers.

The Village


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The Village
is a movie that is directed by M. Night Shyamalan. We viewed this movie as a tie from The Crucible to our gothic unit. Although the movie overall was very well done and quite intriguing, it was quite a surprise to see how closed minded and almost caged in the people of the village were. They were taught to fear “the ones we do not speak of” rather than to try and solve the mystery that was behind them. As I said in my opening quote, “You have two choices when you are being tried by unlovable people. You can either scream or you can sing." The leaders had taught the people to scream. These leaders were given total control over the lives of the people living in the village. They taught the people to fear. Not only “the ones we do not speak of”, but also “the towns”, which I took to represent modern society. The leaders were trying to run from their past and in the process practically brainwashed an entire society. This society lacked optimism mainly because they had been taught to. A wonderful quote that I found to help explain this states that “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” The children of the village were unaware of all that was going on outside of their little community however, like children in today’s society, they were able to shed the most light on the true way to live life; to live it to the fullest and take every opportunity for the best. We must live optimistically.

One of your ALIS books or both


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Over the summer I read The Secret Life of bees by Sue Monk Kidd. This story, unlike many of the others reflected optimism very well. Lily Owens who was the main character could easily have given up yet she still kept pushing onward. When she was very young, Lily’s mother died. She is then raised by her father who was a very cruel man who seemed to have little or no love for her. Then the only mother figure that she had ever had was sent to jail. Sounds rough! Lily learned to persevere and to keep and confident attitude by keeping the end in mind at all times. When all else seemed to be going wrong, she clung to a small beacon of hope that there were people out there somewhere that had loved her mother that were bound to love her to. She was searching for motherly love and in the end she was surrounded by not only one mother, but by an assortment of women who loved her. They all cared for her in their own unique way and mothered her through the rough times as well as the fun times. Those women learned to just be there for her, and that was all she had ever really wanted. Lily is a great example to all of us. She showed that it is possible to have hope in hopeless situations.


Two Gothic Stories

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All of the stories that we read for our gothic unit stressed the importance of life by showing the hopelessness of a few characters. In A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner it is assumed that Emily commits suicide. In my own personal opinion and according to my philosophy statement, optimism is key and suicide is the extreme case of what can happen if people keep to pessimistic of an attitude. Emily was the type of character that lived a life of seclusion. She was not someone that many people admired or tried to be like, but rather someone that was considered to be a little insane. She practically locked herself up in her home and failed to grasp life for what it was worth. Although the author does not flat out tell us that Emily killed herself, it is implied through his language. Also, in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson we saw a loss of optimism. The entire story starts out by laying the scene of a lottery in a small town. Only in the town, the “winner” of the lottery was stoned to death. The woman was
Mrs. Hutchinson a fairly normal woman who was not really bad off in life. Except that that day was her day. She seemed to be a pretty optimistic character when she was first introduced, however once the tables turned on her, she became a very pessimistic woman with nothing but a whiny voice toward her cause. She was did have a problem, but choosing to whine about it was not her best way out and it would certainly not save her. In both of these specific gothic stories, the ending turned out horrible. Rather than keep a woeful attitude, they could have kept it optimistic and lived. Don’t you wonder what would have happened if they had?

Romantic Poetry


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Romantic poetry often sounds like the beginning of a love note. But like Gothicism, you can’t judge the book by its cover. We learned in this unit that some forms of romantic poetry are simply learning to see the beauty in simple things. This is could also be seen as another definition for optimism. On our first day of the romantic unit, we viewed a slide show of various images from nature. We were given about 30 seconds on each slide to reflect our initial reaction to each picture. We were then asked to write a romantic metaphor. The reason that this classifies as romantic is because it is something that is tied into our heart. I believe that romanticism and optimism are two very closely related ideas as both philosophies are based off of simple things; however, both can impact people in a great way.


Two Components of Transcendentalism


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One of the people that we viewed for transcendentalism was Chris McCandless. He was someone who although not deliberately, broke the bound of society. He lived a great childhood, but when after he graduated college he decided that he wanted to go and live in Alaska. He chose to live life to the fullest and was quite the optimist. He could have easily given up anywhere along his trek, however he kept pushing onward. He could have been very concerned in his last days and really regretted his decision, but he chose to look at his life as what a great time he had not at the fact that he was only about 25 years old and starving to death. I find it to be almost courageous of him to be a smiling optimistic man mature enough to realize that it is not about how life is treating you, but how you treat life. If we could all learn to keep the outlook that McCandless had, I believe that we could see the full potential that is in all of us. Although Chris took it to a level that is almost seen as crazy, he personally was always happy and kept an optimistic outlook all the way to the end. Another philosopher that we looked at was Ralph Waldo Emerson. One of the days of our study of transcendentalism we were asked to look up quotes by Emerson. The one that I choose was, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” This ties into optimism well because it deals with the idea that being yourself is the way to succeed. Sometimes the biggest problem with being optimistic is that the society that we live in today is pulling us in so many different directions away from optimism. Just take one look at the newspaper and you will get your fill of what I am talking about. There is so much to be depressed about, however we cannot, I repeat, not let that hinder us toward reaching our goals and our full potential. We must learn to live with optimism if we wish to succeed.