Style Analysis

In Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, she employs the use of foreshadowing and imagery to expertly convey the novel’s plot while establishing a mythical, fantasy-esque tone. Le Guin sets the tone of the book by beginning the story with a preamble on the nascent Sparrowhawk, a powerful wizard, who “in his day became both dragonlord and Archmage”(1). By directly delving into the main character’s destiny, Le Guin prompts readers to inquire about the storyline of the character’s rise to fulfill that destiny. Le Guin uses her gift of purposeful ambiguity to push readers to read further. Le Guin wastes no time in providing supplementary details that nullify the fantastical plot or slow down the pace of the novel by elaborating on meticulous detail. In accordance with ambiguity, Le Guin also utilizes imagery. Le Guin provides visual and sensory details to immerse her audiences in the scene without fixating on logistical or irrelevant statements. She describes the sensory aspects of Duny’s fog to emphasize the effects of Duny’s magic, focusing on the Kargs’ confusion while they “[followed] dim wavering shapes that fled just out of reach before them” and waited for the fog to abate (13). Sensory details allow us to fully comprehend and acknowledge the sheer power and scale of Duny’s magic, further piquing our interest in his prophecy. Ursula Le Guin’s unique writing style in A Wizard of Earthsea pinpoints and manipulates the degree of detail in each scene to set a delicately crafted pace that brings momentum and mystery to the story.

A Wizard of Earthsea Style Analysis

So far, Le Guin’s writing style is very selective and vague when using imagery. I’d say Le Guin’s writing leaves holes in the images and our imagination. When we read most books, they give us a clear image of the important things, such as the main character, but Le Guin does not write like that. She can go into detail on things we will most likely will only think about once. For example, she describes Duny’s aunt’s hut as a place that “the children [fear],” and “[is] low and dusky, windowless, fragrant with herbs that hung drying from the crosspole of the roof, mint and moly and thyme,” and many more herbs (pg. 3-4). We get this amazing image of what her hut looks like but that is the only time the hut is our setting. While we get an abundance of detail for those sorts of things, we get very little detail about the main character; we know next to nothing about what Duny looks like. Usually the first chapter of a book, the author will give you a description of what the main character looks like so you can picture them in your mind. In the first chapter of this book, all we are told about Duny is that he is thin when “he [looks] down at his thin arms,” but that’s all, we don’t know if he is tall or short, what his hair is like, what his eyes are like, or what his general appearance is (pg. 10). By Le Guin not giving us these details, it leaves holes in our mind and we don’t know what to imagine. Finally, even though we are supposed to be focusing on chapter one, I’d like to add throughout the three chapters we’ve read Duny/ Ged’s appearance changes. For example in chapter one Le Guin says “He [looks] down at his tin arms,” (pg. 10) but in chapter two she says “he [is] as tall and strong as the fifteen-year-olds,” so throughout the book DunyGed’s appearance will change (pg. 32). We never really get a concrete image of what Duny/ Ged looks like so it leaves us wondering. With what I’ve pointed out, I can say again that Le Guin’s writing leaves holes in the images and our imagination but to add, the holes that it leaves are only about some important things. 

Wizard of Earthsea Questions

Ironically, the wisest people in our world downplay their knowledge. Acknowledging the limitations of your own knowledge is simultaneously understanding the complex, endless scope of the world and society we live in. Wise people are wise because they show experience, insight, but most importantly, good judgement. Good judgement incorporates having a realistic view of your own potential and ability while recognizing your limits. The wise understand that it is simply impossible to be all-knowing or omniscient in the intricate world we live in. Ignorant people have distorted views of their own intelligence, ignoring the reality of the world’s many multi-dimensional systems and believing they know everything there is to know. These perceptions often mar their outlook of the world, simplifying it to fit their own beliefs and past knowledge. A wise person understands that the pursuit of knowledge is never-ending because our society is perpetually evolving. The true enjoyment they derive from intellectual stimulation is the constant stream of new concepts to grasp and ideas to ponder.

wise nugs

These are three wise nuggets I gained from speaking with Adrian Myers, a corporate lawyer.

To fully enjoy an occupation, you must accept that it will have both enjoyable and unenjoyable moments.

When you want to achieve an ambitious goal, you will need to sacrifice your personal time and recreation in order to pursue it to the best of your ability.

If you invest your energy into a task, anything can have a creative aspect.

Harrison Bergeron vs 2081

What’s better, book or movie? The question that’s always asked. This is the question that we are asking today when comparing the short story “Harrison Bergeron” written by Kurt Vonnegut, and the short film 2081 directed by Chandler Tuttle. 2081 is a film released in 2009 based off the short story “Harrison Bergeron” released in 1961. The story takes place in the future where everyone is equal, and no one has any advantages. The people who did have “advantages” would have handicaps preventing them from using them. Harrison Bergeron is an extremely athletic, intelligent, and attractive young male; he escapes prison after being arrested for using his “advantages” in public and tries to convince the public that there needs to be a change in society. I think that the written version of this story is the most effective way of telling this story. 

I think that the written version of this story is the most effective way of telling the story because it uses imagery to set all the scenes in our heads, so we get to decide how some things look. When Vonnegut describes the appearance of Harrison because “he wear[s], at all times, a red rubber ball for a nose, keep[s] his eyebrows shaved off, and cover[s] his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle-tooth random.”, we can picture what Harrison would look like with these features (pg. 4). The point of a story is to transport the reader to a world of imagination and with lines like these where we can imagine what the character would look like, it grabs our attention. On the other hand, the film, since it is visual, shows you what everything is like. For a person who has read the story before watching the film would be a bit disappointed in how Tuttle portrayed the story. They didn’t show any of the features from the quote above when we first see Harrison in the film. 

The story puts a bigger focus on the handicaps that people wear and how horrible they can be. Beauty and athletics count as advantages; when describing one of the ballerinas they say “She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred-pound men.” in which they also describe the handicaps for these advantages (pg. 3). The written work puts a lot of detail into how the handicaps effect those who wear them and what they are like visually and how they feel. In the films case, they put next to no emphasise on the handicaps. They had the weights and the ear pieces, but they did not have masks for the attractive or the glasses, nose or fake teeth for Harrison. In the film they focused more on the issue Harrison was trying to address; they gave him more lines to explain his situation. They also altered the story line to make it more realistic, but the unrealities of the story are what makes it good. 

To restate I think the written version of “Harrison Bergeron” by Kurt Vonnegut is a more effective way of telling the story then the film 2081 directed by Chandler Tuttle because it gives us the opportunity to imagine what it was like and out ourselves in the shoes of the characters. It also gives more details to what living the handicaps was like. So when you are deciding if you would like to read the story or watch the film I would suggest reading the story first, then if you would like you can watch the film. 

 

Film or Text?

“The extraordinary, it seems, was simply out of their reach,” Harrison bellows, as the camera pans over a petrified audience bearing grim looking handicap devices. Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” and Chandler Tuttle’s film adaptation 2081 depict a frightening world in which equality is enforced through brutal means. The plot of both works revolves around Harrison Bergeron, an escaped convict who rebels in the public spotlight while his absent-minded parents watch from their television. Despite their many similarities, Chandler Tuttle’s 2081 is a more effective medium for portraying the story due to its soundtrack and visuals and the plot’s heightened tension.

In 2081, the ballet is a multi-sensory experience, which allows audiences to insert themselves into the fleeting liberation of the moment. The orchestral music and cinematography emphasize the tragic, suspended beauty of the scene. The music that Tuttle uses in the scene has a descending, sorrowful melody. When the poignant soundtrack is paired with slow-motion shots of Diana Moon entering the theatre, it creates a tangible suspense to a degree that words cannot. Cinematography and music enable audiences to experience the suspense through more than one sense. Conversely, in “Harrison Bergeron”, Vonnegut employs short sentences to control the pacing and tone of the story. However, Vonnegut sacrifices many descriptive details while attempting to use abrupt, bleak sentences. For example, Vonnegut’s describes the orchestral music as solely “much improved” (4). The text illustrates how Vonnegut’s lack of description can dilute the significance of an event. In the film adaptation, Tuttle portrays the music through actual instruments, providing a more immersive experience. With film, directors can create tone and suspense without sacrificing visual or descriptive elements.

Moreover, Directors can create apprehension through alterations in the plot. Chandler Tuttle adds a supposed bomb threat in 2081 and showcases Harrison’s charismatic speech. These changes create urgency and danger in the plot because the entire audience is at risk. Additionally, Harrison seems to recognize his father. Near the end of the film, he shoots a glance at the camera, which may be an indication that he knows his parents are watching. This offers more emotional conflict and reverberations in the plot because we feel increased pity for both Harrison and his father. In the short story version, Harrison does not acknowledge his parents in any way and does not threaten to detonate the bomb. The lack of emotional backstory creates a disconnect between many of the story’s characters, hence decreasing the tension in the plot of the short story.

With its added sensory aid and thrilling plot changes, the film is the most provoking and eloquent medium of expressing this story. In Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”, the story is told through text, which invites readers to make inferences about the setting, appearance, and sounds of the plot. Contrarily, in Chandler Tuttle’s 2081, the film bombards viewers with a deluge of sensory experiences, which creates a more urgent and realistic telling of the disconcerting story.

The Danger of a Single Story

In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s The Danger of a Single Story TED Talk, one of the main points she is making is there is a huge danger of how impressionable we are. The story she told about when she moved from Nigeria for University in the United States really painted a detailed picture of what this means. When she moved to the US, her “roommate had a single story of Africa,” and “she asked if she could listen to, what she called, my ‘tribal music’ and was consequently disappointed when i produced my tape of Mariah Carey,” her “roommate had a single story of Africa; a single story of catastrophe,” these were all things her roommate assumed of her. Her roommate assumed that since she is African that she was primitive and beneath others. As her time went on living in the US she came to realize why people thought of her the way they did, she states “If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people,” this is what they called authentic Africans. As she continues with her stories, she speaks about how the characters in her book weren’t authentically African because they weren’t starving and how stereotypes were created “and the problem with stereotypes is that they are not untrue, but they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” Everything that she has said basically explained itself. 

Getting more than one story can help to begin reject the single stories in our lives. By getting more than one story it’s no longer a single story. In the end we can put together all the stories, and make one story that’s closer to the truth. 

Emil

In the story we see Morley and Dave have a number of interactions with Emil; they both approach their interactions with him in different ways. Throughout the story though, we don’t see much change in the characters; they all stay the same. Dave stays stubborn and against the idea that Emil can be any close to equal with him, Morley stays kind and patient towards Emil, and Emil stays thoughtful and overlooked by others but it still doesn’t bother him. What Morley learns from Emil in this story is kindness pays off. Morley is nothing but kind to Emil and she is rewarded in the end  when Emil wins the lottery and “he [gives] Morley five hundred dollars,” as a thanks. What is really special about this gesture is that Morley wasn’t expecting it; she is just being kind to be kind. I think the theme of this story is, when we treat everyone as equals with respect and kindness we can often see that kindness be returned in unexpected ways.

TED Talk

In Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk, she emphasizes the importance of not limiting our perspective and worldview to a single story. We can implement this piece of advice by expanding our network of friends and people we interact with. The people we spend our time with influence our perception and breadth of knowledge. If we only spend time with a certain race or demographic of people, the only stories and information we’ll hear will be limited to that demographic or culture.  This is evident in Chimamanda Ngozi’s anecdote about the childhood stories she read. Because she only read what was written by British/American novelists, she never learned about or even encountered African writers and characters that she could relate to. Chimamanda Ngozi didn’t selectively choose to read exclusively British/American pieces of literature; she simply wasn’t given the opportunity to read literature by African writers. Even though we may be comfortable with the stories we are presented with, we must actively seek to gather more and more perspectives through relationships and knowledge, because there are always more sides to the story than we know of.

Requiem for a Dream – Sara Goldfarb

Requiem for a Dream’s Sara Goldfarb is an unfortunate reality; she’s a lonely widow, suspended in the streets of Brooklyn, reaching a standstill in her life while her drug-addicted son, Harry, pursues his own distant dreams. Sara is obsessed with appearing on television, losing weight, and being a pretty woman in a red dress, with fiery red hair. This chosen scene illustrates Sara’s lonesome life, and how her nearly palpable sense of isolation manifests itself in her delusions. Sara wants to lose weight and to feel the bliss of her youth again, disregarding the obvious complications of the pills. Harrys father loved the dress, so [she] was going to wear it”, meaning Sara is still intent on living the jubilant life she once lived before her life descended in a downward spiral (142). She fears that she will assimilate entirely into her growing isolation. Sara is alone; Harry’s gone, Seymour’s gone” (143). How could Sara shop when [she doesn’t] cook for anyone?” (143) Her role as a mother and wife is now obsolete. Sara’s development and conflict are highly believable. The author draws on inspiration from characters we encounter in our walks of life, especially in a city that is obsessive in its ambition and dreams. Sara is depressed, and she uses a conjured image she inserts herself into to give her something to look forward to in her life, hence leading her to be in thrall to the diet pills. I believe Sara’s raw and devastating disintegration is perfectly executed by Hubert Selby Jr. Her actions and wishes are authentic, disconcerting, and uncomfortably relatable for all audiences, though Sara is a living example of a road we try to avoid in our own relentless search for happiness. Sara Goldfarb is a character we must pity, and serves as a reminder of our vulnerability and need for purpose, rather than a hero that is to be emulated. In my own life, I lust after manufactured images that are flaunted in our society. Undeniably, I have a tendency to believe that my own fulfillment must come from serving others or being liked by others. Sara has an inability to deal with her innermost sadness, and her methods are not healthy, even resulting with her hallucinating her fridge taunting her. I hope to hold control over my internal conflicts, rather than letting my internal conflicts control me.