Women: The New Power Grabbers

Throughout Shakespeare’s King Lear, he sheds light on the gender roles during this time and the differences in power between women and men. During this time, men were the ones that ruled over the kingdoms with great power while women were only there to be their wives or daughters, trapped in the shadow of greedy men. This theme is very prominent in the beginning of the play, when Lear forces his daughters to profess their love for him in exchange for some of his power. When Lear calls upon his daughter Goneril she states,

Sir, I love you more than word can wield the matter…A love that makes breath poor, and speech unable. Beyond all manner of so much I love you.

Act I, Scene I, lines 60-67

In this statement, Goneril has to exaggerate her love for her father just for the slightest chance to get some type of power. In the same scene, Cordelia chooses not to lie and overstate the love she has for her father and because of this she is ridiculed. With this scene, Shakespeare expresses the idea that women cannot obtain power without the help of a man. This scene supports the construct of patriarchy by portraying the male as the all powerful ruler who must be pleased and obeyed if women hope to receive any sort of reward.

As the play progresses, the women begin to take initiative and gain power for themselves and their own agendas rather than being submissive to the men around them. This can be seen in many instances with the character Reagan such as when she has Gloucester captured and his eyes gouged out and when she grabs a sword to kill one of the servants. This character development is very significant because Reagan was one of the sisters who falsely professed her love for her father in the beginning of the play and now she is taking charge and fighting men.

Another example of a powerful woman in King Lear is Cordelia. From the beginning of the play she did not fake her emotions just to please her father and by the end of the play she became the queen of France and even gave power to her two sisters as well. With these female characters, Shakespeare contradicts the common narrative during this time period in which women were powerless by portraying them as fierce women who were able to overcome the powerful men and gain power for themselves.

Walking Through The Woods of Mac Miller’s Mind

Mac Miller’s song “Woods” is featured on his posthumous album Circles. This album was released a little over a year after the death of Mac Miller and was said to complement its preceding album Swimming, so that the two together create the concept of “Swimming in Circles.”

This song gives a great insight to the mind of Mac Miller, who died of a tragic overdose. Miller struggled with depression and addiction which he expressed through many of songs including “Woods”, in which he raps about being emotionally lost and how his relationship with a woman seems to have guided him. In the beginning of the song Miller states,

Things like this ain’t built to last

I might just fade like those before me

In these two lines, Miller refers to his relationship with a woman as being so positive to the point that he feels it’s almost too good to be true or it “ain’t built to last.” This shines a light on how intense the darkness was in Mac Miller’s life that when he finally had a relationship that was important to him he worried it wouldn’t last. He goes on to say “I might just fade like those before me.” This line carries several meanings. By using the word “fade” he refers to falling out of the music industry as preceding artists have while simultaneously referring to his life, body, and mind deteriorating due to drug abuse, also similar to many other artists. Miller continues on to say,

Too many days in a daze, better wake up

Put your face in the place where the space was

Again, Miller eludes to his two states of emotional struggle along with drug abuse. With the words, “too many days in a daze, better wake up”, Miller might be referring to several aspect of his life. As a popular rapper, his life includes the darkness that is drug abuse which he could be referencing when he states that he is in a daze. Miller could also be talking about his emotional state, expressing that he is stuck in a “daze” caused mental illness, or he could simply be expressing his lack of sleep and rest due to his fast-moving life as an artist. The following line displays how the woman he was with at the time filled an empty “space” for Miller, foreshadowing that this woman was a savior for Mac Miller. Nearing the end of the song Miller states,

So far beyond all our control

You saved a soul so close to broken

This final line is so powerful to me and what really makes this song poetic. When Mac Miller says “you saved a soul so close to broken” he sends out several different messages to his listeners. First, he provides an insight to the struggles he endured during his life that may not have been perceived by the public eye. He also seems to be referring to the same woman by saying that she “saved” him when he was “so close to broken.” I think this notion is so powerful because many people can relate to it. In our world today, people can be experiencing so many things and others on the outside might never know it but also how even the simplest acts of kindness can change someone’s whole life which is why this line is so relatable. Not only does it allow the listeners to experience Mac Miller’s personal experiences but it also connects to the listener’s lives as well. This is a quality that many of Miller’s songs hold which is only one of the many reasons why Mac Miller’s music is so significant in the music world today.

Why Do We Fear the Other?

The United States is a nation made up almost entirely of migrants or people who’s ancestors were migrants. Despite this fact, people today still fear the “other.” They fear people that who have a different appearance, a unique language, or who eat different foods.

Moshin Hamid displays this same concept in his novel Exit West. As Nadia and Saeed traveled through doors to new countries they were seen as the “other.” They were migrants from far away and many natives in the countries they traveled to did not like their presence. Hamid writes about “a mob that was intending to attack migrants” (109), and a “night of shattered glass” (135), both acts of violence that are aimed at migrants. Even Saeed, who experienced first hand what it felt like to be the other, had instances where he feared people who weren’t like him. At one point during their journey, Saeed went to Nadia and told her he wanted to move to another house “to be among our own kind” (153), because Saeed felt uncomfortable and scared living in the house filled with people from countries he wasn’t used to. Both the natives, Saeed, and the other migrants feared each other simply because of their differences.

I think in our world today much of this fear comes from how “the other” is portrayed, whether is be in the news, social media, or even in textbooks. We are often only shown negative aspects of other nations such as violence and war and this creates fear of the other.

Emotionless Action

Throughout Albert Camus’s novel, The Stranger, Meursault displays his lack of emotion and drive through his words and actions. In the beginning of part I, Meursault’s lack of emotions can be seen in his behavior during the time of his mother’s death. The day after his mother’s funeral, Meursault went to the beach and asked out his former coworker Marie. When she discovered his mother had passed, “She wanted to know how long ago, so I said ‘Yesterday.’ I felt like telling her it wasn’t my fault, but I stopped myself… it didn’t mean anything. Besides you always feel a little guilty”(20). Meursault told Marie his mother had died only a day before as if it had no significance whatsoever. Later in Part I, this same lack of emotions is seen when Marie asks Meursault if he wants to marry her and if he thinks marriage is serious. Meursault states “That evening Marie came by to see me and asked me if I wanted to marry her. I said it didn’t make any difference to me and that we could if she wanted to”(41). Even for a notion as big as marriage, Meursault didn’t seem to care at all if he did or did not marry Marie which is very out of the norm for a typically human being. For most people, their mother’s death and their marriage/engagment are two very significant and emotional events however in Meursault’s case, he did not experience any strong opinion or feeling. This trait of Meursault could be caused by his experience in school where he states “when I was a student I had lots of ambitions like that. But when I had to give up my studies I learned very quickly that none of it really mattered”(41). Due to this experience in his life, Meursault no longer has strong ambitions which provides some reasoning to his lack of emotion in the events occurring in his life.

Observing A Conversation About Bread

“A Conversation About Bread”, by Nafissa Thomson-Spires, is a short story about Brian and Eldwin, two black men who are studying anthropology and discussing powerful stories from their lives. Brian and Eldwin, are described as feeling like “unicorns” in their grad program. Comparing the men to a unicorn was very significant because it emphasizes that the men feel so out of place in their school of white students, that they are comparing themselves to a rare mythical creature.

While the men were speaking, a white woman in the room was listening in on their conversation and at one point even took out a notebook as if she was studying them. This was so profound because Brian and Eldwin, who were studying experiences from their lives, were simultaneously being studied themselves by a white woman. At the end of the story it is stated that “She may have been an anthropologist too.” This statement changes the whole presence of the woman from just a nosy woman eavesdropping, to anthropologists studying the men. This woman perfectly displays why Brian and Eldwin felt so different and out of place because they are just doing completely normal things but to the white woman they are so unique and different that she had to stop and observe them.

Mutual Recognition in the Spiderhead

Between Jeff and Abnesti there was a strong binary in which Abnesti was dominant over Jeff. Being that Jeff was a criminal submitting to the experiments of Abnesti the scientist, Abnesti held most of the power in their relationship. Although Abnesti was clearly dominant, the two conversed as if they were almost friends and they had an understanding of the reasoning behind the work they were doing. It also seemed as though Abnesti was attempting to give Jeff a false sense of mutual recognition by making himself appear as a normal human being and constantly reminding Jeff that he has a family, he has feelings, all to make Jeff feel equal to Abnesti as two humans with emotions. On page 68, Abnesti asks Jeff, “Am I a monster?… Do I remember birthdays around here? When a certain individual got athlete’s foot on his groin on a Sunday, did a certain other individual drive over to Rexall and pick up the cream, paying for it with his own personal money?” (Spiderhead, 68). For a moment, Abnesti’s description of how he is not a “monster”, makes Jeff think he isn’t all that bad and he’s just doing his job. This almost makes Jeff feel equal to Abnesti, when in reality Abnesti does not see Jeff this way.