Medea, as a Woman

The exploration of the politics of gender is indeed evident in the play Medea by Euripedes.  The play is about a passionate woman named Medea, a sorceress and a princess, who faced a dilemma when she was abandoned by her husband Jason.  This in turn fueled Medea’s revenge that led into a horrifying series of murders.  The play is likely to be seen as a feminist material, but it can be also seen and analyzed in the misogynist point of view.  More importantly, it’s an exploration of the psychological state that women undergo every time they were rejected by their lovers, or faced with extreme anger or alienation.

Medea

The play also challenged the power play between man and woman in the context of strong patriarchal context.  Medea at the early part of the play didn’t have any choice when her husband left her and resolved to cry and lament all day.  Jason can reject the domestic responsibilities that concerns with her former relationship with Medea, and was free to marry the daughter of King Creon.  But as the play progressed the change is evident in Medea’s temperament – from weakness to revenge, suicidal to sadistic fury, feminine to masculine.  In the end, Medea defied gender inequality as she assumed a masculine disposition. She denied her husband Jason to bury their children after murdering them, aggravating his pain.

In Medea’s soliloquy in the early part of the play, I couldn’t help but sympathize with her – she was a woman unreasonably rejected by her former lover, ordered to be banished by the king, a woman who rebels against her own wretchedness.  But the rage in her heart would not disappear without a certain kind of release, to which revenge is only the proper to do it and the most likely to happen.  So as a reader I began to feel what Aristotle’s concept of ‘fear’ in a tragedy would feel like, especially when Medea was brewing her plans to avenge herself.  With cleverness and natural devious attitude, she began to maneuver the course of the play, the gruesome manipulation of her own children in her horrifying revenge that led to their pitiful deaths.

What the play shows us was that human beings are the sole authors of their own misfortunes.  God or any divine being was not responsible for any consequences of the horrible actions that the characters need to bear and endure.  The limits of human knowledge is indeed obvious in the play – this serves as the dramatic irony – the audience are more aware of the deceit of a character to another character than anyone else.  A woman such as Medea, passionate and once deeply in love with her lover, can turn into violent vengeful woman because of her all-consuming love.

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How Are Women Represented in The Iliad?

 

“[Achilles] will kill me, unprotected as I am /

my gear laid, defenseless as a woman.”  Hector to Andromache

 

Different types of women are represented in the epic poem The Iliad: strong-willed andBriseis, portrayed by the actress Rose Byrne shrewd women, damsel-in-distress types, wicked and vengeful women, or even women who cause the downfall of the protagonist male hero.  Moreover, there are also women depicted as possessions (war prizes) or women who have little or no control over her destiny.  The epic poem, generally regarded as “a male-dominated world” focuses centrally on the rage between men but it also happen that most of the time this rage is affected, initiated, and inspired by a woman.

Take for example the case of women characters such as Chryseis and Briseis, considered in the epic poem as “war prizes” – captured maidens and spoils of war, with little control over their destinies.  But in Book 1, the major conflict was fueled due to some concerns about these two women – since Chryseis (Agamemnon’s war prize) needs to be returned to his father to stop the plague sent by Apollo, Agamemnon demands in exchange Achilles’ war prize Briseis which angered the warrior Achilles.  Thus Achilles after the incident withdraws the battle, leaving the Achaean army futile against the Trojans’ assaults.

There are also women who are the stereotyped mothers, like Thetis (Achilles’ mother) and Queen Hecuba, who in the course of the epic poem are seen to be either weeping or troubled with the affairs of their sons.

Some women in the epic poem serve as the “partner” of the male hero, like Helen of Troy to Paris and Andromache to Hector.  Although they don’t have the power to dominate over their lovers, these characters are sometimes used by Homer to portray a more human side to the male characters – Paris is vulnerable with Helen, Hector is both a sympathetic husband to Andromache and a heroic father to their son.  These women does not wholly affect the male characters (even Andromache fails to convince Hector not to fight Achilles) but with their presence, the male character assumes a multidimensional persona (Paris, a coward who indulges on pleasures than fighting in the war).

Another set of women characters in the poem are the women gods – the wicked, shrewd, vengeful, or the women who has too much control over the mortals and over other gods.  Hera in the epic is seen as a strong, dominant character and at some point she even tricked Zeus through her forceful and cunning attitude.  Athena is endowed with wisdom and skill, capable of inspiring Achaean warriors.  Aphrodite rescues Paris and sends Helen to his arms in Book III, sending the conflict to a higher notch.  These women are considered to be the powerful forces of the book – their decisions and their control over mortal affairs sometimes change a course of plot, conflict and action.

Helen of Troy, portrayed by the actress Diane KrugerBut the most celebrated woman figure in the poem is probably Helen of Troy – her illicit love affair with Paris is one of the most distinct events of the poem unforgettable.  People around her sees her as the cause of the war (Antenor suggested that Helen should be returned to Menelaus to end the war) with exception of King Priam who welcomes her like his own daughter.  But even Helen knows that she is the reason for the downfall for the male heroes, and considered herself as a wanton (“that man is Agamemnon…brother to the husband of a wanton.”).

Whether it is a dominant, powerful kind of woman in the form of gods, or submissive, damsel-in-distress types in the mortal world, the concept of a woman is explored very much in the epic.  There is a clear-cut definition between the two sexes but at times there are certain ambiguities that cloud over these distinctions.  Even though the deeds of men dominate in the work and mortal women are protected from the wickedness of the world by these heroic men, women in the Iliad serve a much greater role in humanizing the male characters, advancing the course of plot, and sometimes they play pivotal roles in inciting men into action, without them knowing it.

The Duke

marc nelson, rovilson fernandez, eunice olsen

marc nelson, rovilson fernandez, eunice olsen

One of the coolest TV shows that I’m currently enjoying is entitled The Duke, hosted by Marc Nelson, Rovilson Fernandez and Eunice Olsen. Of course, the boys (Marc and Rovilson) are quite familiar to me, because they represented the team Philippines in the AXN’s Amazing Race Asia Season 2. It’s a men’s magazine show – and most of the topics concerns men, but girls are welcome to eavesdrop, hahahha. Seriously, the topics that they featured in the show are interesting and entertaining – metrosexuals, battle of the sexes and fashion features. Last week, the topic was all about metrosexual and I like the discussion, hahaha. And they also feature a famous figure in their duke-of-the-hour segment.

It’s a funny mix of lifestyle, fashion and an exploration of what makes a man “a duke”. 🙂 Cool. It’s the latest AXN original production.

Happy Endings

Up, up, and away, and off to the land of opportunity, I think to myself. The land of happy endings.
from Happy Endings, L. J. Katigbak

 The book Happy Endings written by Luis Joaquin M. Katigbak is a collection of short stories that revolves around different interpersonal relationships between people, where these people are impelled to believe the idea of ‘happy endings’. The book showcases the different stories of different people when dealing the nature of love and relationships, and exploring self-identity that may lead to self-realizations. The story reflects a lot of things: love, bewilderment, fear, and pain, represented in the various facets of character personas of high school teenagers, college students and young adults. Perhaps, one of the most distinct underlying theme that holds the collection comes from the reflection of the “I” narrator (named Emil) of the short story entitled Happy Endings:

[…] I think about all of us, speeding and lurching or trudging towards our individual endings, catching glimpses of them now and then, planning for the future, wishing, hoping, never really knowing for sure whether our endings will be happy or tragic […]

Indeed, most of us, inevitably, would dream about happy endings, only to find out that not all things end this way, and that our speculations and assumptions are far from what’s real. That is what makes the book really interesting, as the writer was able to extract specific details of experiences, wherein he coupled them with vivid characterizations and an effective prose style to present to us realistic situations of life.

The book has ten short stories. In Renegade Eyeballs, a college student faces the usual problems in a university, dealing with his friends and his girlfriend, and flunking exams and subjects. In between times, he finds leisure in daydreaming, which is a momentary suspension of reality due to his emotional insecurities with the people around him, and at the later part of the story, he ends up thinking of himself as a lunatic sharpshooter with his cheap toy gun, but only for a moment, for in the end he realizes that everything still remains the same. In Postcards, a girl mysteriously receives postcards from nowhere, and she ends up transporting herself into the other world. There, she meets the older and the other self of her who happens to be the one who sends her the postcards. In this story, the theme of self-identity echoes in the other girl’s statement, “To let you know that you have yourself to thank for your happiness.” In Happy Endings, a fresh college graduate named Emil works in an advertising company wherein he is able to distinguish the different desires and ambitions of the people around him, and reflect whether the things that they are doing would eventually lead into their desired happy endings.

In Birthday, a young man forgets his self-identity, and ends up wandering around the place hoping to find it. Along the way he speculates his own nature, and when he has the chance to know his true self (through his lost wallet), he detains the idea for a while, and told himself that today is his birthday. In What the World Was Waiting For, a group of high school student researchers are working for a thermoacoustic engine as a scientific project. A high school boy secretly develops feelings for his best friend who was going out for somebody. In the short story Away, the young woman daydreams of happy endings with a co-worker, and assumes that they both have the same feelings for each other, only to find out that the man is ‘too far away from her’. In Document, two special friends share a word processor, and the young man is confused whether there is something deeper between them.

In the story Kara’s Place, two long-termed college friends Eric and Kara meet one day in Kara’s place, and they talk about Kara’s problem about his professor who tried to harass her. To their surprise, they end up hugging and kissing each other in a moment, and they part from each other, leaving a sense of confusion to both of them. In Rain, Rachel, and a Wednesday Afternoon, a 28-year old man named Dodong looks back at the memories with a girl named Rachel fourteen years ago – memories in the rain and at that memorable Wednesday afternoon when they first met. Now, Dodong reflects on the present time: Rachel is already married and she has a beautiful daughter, and through this, it is questioned, whether he is trapped in the past. In the final short story, The End, the main character Anton becomes the herald-messenger of the end of the world which will happen in seven days. Here, we see, how Anton struggles with the pressure of the responsibility, but amidst this distress, he comes to appreciate the value of love in a life already marked with brevity.

In a closer reading of the short stories written by Luis Joaquin Katigbak, it is notable that the strength of the writer lies in his vivid descriptions of the mental and emotional states of his characters. By relaying to us the emotional and mental processes of his characters with utmost subtlety, we readers are able to see more of their human and sympathetic aspects. The writer was able to push the plot of the stories to subtle sentimentalities, mainly because his characters are ‘human’, believable and credible characters. In this way, we readers are able to participate in the story by relating ourselves to the feelings and mental states of the characters. Indeed, these characters have the quality of verisimilitude and universality.

The book Happy Endings is heavily laced with irony that life is not purely all about happy endings. The stories reflect unique interpretations of the inability of humans to decode what the future holds for each of us. The writer highlights the idea that humans are not perfect, and they have occasional shortcomings, and these mistakes are bound to stain the happily-ever-after thoughts. But eventually through these mistakes, humans can achieve clarity about their own selves, and to some extent, self-realizations. This theme is subtly exemplified in each stories of Katigbak – it resonates all through out the book with deeper significance. Luis Joaquin Katigbak has that creative finesse in using that artistic emotional restraint of which he used extensively and effectively in each stories, and that is why Happy Endings is one of my personal favorites.

Dead Stars

I love the short story entitled “Dead Stars” by Paz Marquez-Benitez. It is a romantic love story that revolves around on three characters: Alfredo, Julia and Esperanza. It is a tragic love story, mainly because the main character Alfredo is struggling against the dilemma of choosing what he would like to do and what he should do.

The story follows the style similar as that of the romanticism, very florid, descriptive, and at some point, ‘flowery’. It gives many descriptions about places and things that effectively set the mood and the atmosphere of the story, which is kind of melancholic. I like it because the plot is not strictly linear (sort of), and it makes the readers cross their fingers as to what would happen next.


It’s Nothing Really

One of my favorite Shakespeare play is Much Ado about Nothing. It’s a lighthearted comedy about love and misidentification. It’s a double plot – the story is focused on the comedic game wit of Benedict and Beatrice and the love problems of Hero and Claudio.

The dominant themes of the play are love and misidentification. Love is shown between Beatrice and Benedict, Hero and Claudio, as well as in other minor characters such as Leonato and his love for her daughter and Beatrice and her sympathy to her cousin. Misidentification, on the other hand, is exemplified when Margaret is misidentified as Hero, which in turn made Claudio assume that Hero’s sweet nature is a false quality of her, thereby calling her ‘rotten orange’ and a disgrace. There is also misidentification on Don Pedro’s part, in which at the start of the play he believes that Don John has changed for good and that he deserves a second chance.

But on the lighter note, my favorite parts of the play are those parts in which Benedict and Beatrice are in their witty conversations, and take note on the transformation of this sour bachelors into romantic lovers – it is definitely what makes the play enjoyable and comical.

What I notice on this play is that it is focused on the plot and its structure than the character development. It focuses more on ‘what would happen next’ and much attention is given to the effects on the discovery of truth that is blurred by deception and misidentification. So that’s why in the context of the play, although Don John is generally claimed to be the antagonist, still for me, Don John has no ‘justifiable cause’ for his villainy mainly because Shakespeare didn’t focus on the development of his character. He is just this villain who hates seeing other people happy because it makes him sad. However, had Shakespeare focused more on his character development, he would’ve explained Don John’s background for his villainous actions.


I love Dogberry’s character too. Laughs. Really, much attention is taken into nothing.

I Get So Psych!

I love James Roday in the American comedy drama Psych. He plays the role of Shawn Spencer, a fake psychic who works for Santa Barbara Police Department (SPBD). I don’t really know why he’s faking it though, although I can tell you that he’s really convincing. The truth is, he has the makings of a great detective, and he has impressive observational skills and excellent deductive reasoning in a not-so-boring way. But why would he fake it, that I really don’t know.

I love detective stories a lot. Whether it’s a novel, it’s a TV show or an anime flick, it’s something that really interests me. I grew up reading the Hardy Boys stories, before I even read Sherlock Holmes’s cases. I loved anime shows like Detective Conan, Detective School Q and Ghost at School. But in the Psych TV show, it’s different. It’s so funny, the script is so witty. I used to watch CSI a long time ago, but it’s too serious for someone like me. Maybe, I can appreciate it better in the future. Sigh. Continue reading

Looking Into the Future

I saw National Geographic Channel’s feature about Nostradamus in Nostradamus: Is it Real and was utterly surprised to saw the same topic again in Discovery channel in Nostradamus: the Truth at least two days after. It was weird, but maybe that’s how competition goes. Ha-ha!

Well, almost everybody knows about Nostradamus, who was extremely famous for his prophecies. It was said that his book of prophecies was sold in very large numbers, and widely circulated all over the world. In both features, they tried to present if these prophecies were really real, or just purely coincidental. His glimpses to the fate of mankind were mostly depressing views of the world, written in different language of French, in a style that depicted clearly the raw visions of his mind.

To give you a background story about how I got acquainted with Nostradamus, I was told off when I was 10 to get ready for the end of the world. Whoah! I was really scared back then, because in that coming year (that was 1999), there would be complete darkness to hover all over the world and widespread hunger where the King of Terror would descend to the Earth. We all panicked there, (hehe, the kids in the neighborhood and old people) about the coming of what we believed as The Judgment Day. But nothing happened. There was no darkness for the coming years, there was no such thing as end of the world (though there was still widespread hunger in other parts of the world and a few eclipses) but still life went on. Now, its year 2008, and everything is running in its usual course. So what the heck just happened at that time?

Did Nostradamus make a very grave mistake OR did we make a huge mistake in interpreting his prophecies?

***

A famous historical event that we can associate with Nostradamus is about Catherine d’Medici and King Henry II ofFrance. Catherine read the book of prophecies of Nostradamus, and summoned him to look into her king’s fate. And Nostradamus predicted the death of her husband – a one quatrain that troubled the queen that tells about King Henry II’s death. And it did happen. It was said that that was the first time that Nostradamus successfully looked into the future.

But there was more: the predictions about the Great Fire of London in 1666, the rise of Hitler, the atomic bombs dropped inHiroshimaandNagasaki, and the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

Although there were seemingly perfect matches, science does not support it. Although many people believe that Nostradamus might have acquired divine inspiration or paranormal abilities, scientists still believe that it is utterly nonsense.

There were also few misinterpretations of the prophecies, some dates written in the quatrains were recalculated, and we cannot deny the fact that because of manual ‘publishing’ of the prophecies, people involved might constantly and unintentionally change the words which only added errors. Then, the original quatrain might have been misprinted by hand, and this is also because of the mistranslation of Nostradamus’s complicated French. He was so careful in anything that he said in the prophecy because of the height of the Inquisition.

But this is my take: the language that Nostradamus used in his prophecy is ambiguous, generally, and this vagueness, I personally think, is responsible for the increase of probabilities. What I think is that he was not looking into the future, but referring back to historical past events, knowing that the astronomical patterns involved in his passion for astrology, would always follow the same historical pattern.


Honey and Clover Manga

I finished downloading the manga Honey and Clover, but I’m still keeping my fingers crossed for the continuing chapters in season 2. Probably, the Shoujo Magic hasn’t finished scanlating it, well, no wonder, it is hard to translate such difficult series.

However, if you have the full copy of the season 2 (and so on) scanlated manga, please let me know! I only got three chapter- scanlated copies of the volume two, that is from chapters 10-12, but since it is still ongoing (whatever happened, please do continue Shoujo Magic!) I’m still waiting here!

I love the Honey and Clover manga. And I’ve also seen its season 1 and 2 anime version that premiered on Animax. However, I haven’t seen yet the live action series (or is it movie?).

I made a summary out of the season one Honey and Clover manga because I love it so much. If you planned to read the manga and wishes not to get spoiled here, DON’T READ BEYOND THIS because it might Continue reading

Where Are We Heading?

After I took an Astronomy subject in high school, I was plagued with terrible questions about the earth, the sun, or any heavenly bodies. I think that’s normal. But I was also preoccupied whether someday in the future all inhabitants in the earth can cruise in the nearby planet (Mars, probably) and stay there for a week or two. I would love that.

I watched an episode in NASA channel entitled Destination Tomorrow. It was interesting because space scientists are working to investigate suitable landing sites in Mars that are scientifically interesting and potential for proofs of interest. NASA developed the MRO, or the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (I dunno if I got the words right but it sounded just like that) to look for potential landing sites in case there would be success of human flights at Mars in the near future.

The MRO has high resolution cameras to produce high profile detailed pictures which will be evaluated to search for potential sites. It has also telescopic cameras to capture the planet’s surface features by photographing the planet. In this way, the scientists can relay and send information by communication platform for robotic missions and about the weather patterns in Mars. In this way the space scientists can also look for water. By its self surface radar, they would know the weather patterns, and any detailed information to expand the knowledge about the planet.

MRO would took seven months to journey to Mars and 27 months to orbit it.