Writing Catalog

Alexa Christopherson

Grade: 12

Hathaway Brown School

Instructor: Elizabeth Armstrong


Critical Essay


We have been raised to believe that we are insufficient in our current state and that others wouldn't appreciate us. They desired a change in the way we looked, thought, and acted. Because we are sociable beings at our foundation, connecting with others and forming social bonds is a basic human goal. To avoid being abandoned, alone, and helpless, many of us decided to compromise our identities. While Beauty and the Beast by Marie Le Prince de Beaumont, has many distinct symbols throughout the tale such as kindness, virtue, and selflessness, the climax is shaped through abnormality and standing out from the crowd. The tale examines how happiness isn't through conforming to society's expectations, but through being your true authentic self. While not acting the way others supposedly leads to broken relationships and judgment, trying to fit the role that society expects will never end in happiness because you will never be on your true path, it prevents positive societal development change, and it is not more rewarding than accepting the judgment and the fate it brings.

While everyone may have a time in their life when they feel as if they are lost, it is one thing to be lost and find yourself, and a completely different thing to conform to a certain identity and follow a path that may be wrong for you. Characters' identities are largely formed by external causes, and they are generally inclined to adjust to what is placed upon them by others. If one has been brought up in an environment where they are given what they want when they want it, they would become accustomed to that. Due to their wealth, Beauty's sisters have grown to expect the delights that most only dream about. They acted very condescendingly as a result of their pride, "gave themselves ridiculous airs, and would not visit other merchants' daughters, nor keep company with any but persons of quality" (10). The phrase "persons of quality" refers to further wealthy individuals. The sisters of Beauty had very limited perspectives and were unable to see what life's true meanings were. They made materials and objects their personality and when it was gone so was their sense of self. They believed in wealth over kindness and authenticity and as a result, were left lonely, with their community "glad to see their pride humbled" (10) The characters' own identity is ultimately determined by what and who they are, so if they are rotten on the inside, it won't be too long until their external reality catches up to them. They weren't following their true path and therefore ended up feeling drained and empty after their fortune ran dry. Identity is not defined by material possessions but most make it so. Knowing your core beliefs and the principles you live by is essential to being authentic. You will adopt the habits and views of others if you are not being true to yourself, and you'll begin to adhere to the standards and viewpoints of other individuals. You can only live your life in harmony with your principles if you are aware of the intentions behind your actions.

The key to making connections with others is to have genuine positive intentions for both yourself and your company. In Beauty and the Beast, the connections between the characters are frequently flipped, and they act in ways that are unforeseen and improper under the blatantly gendered patriarchal regime of the 18th century. This is important because since there were so many stereotypes about the way people should act, so if one was truly a virtuous individual, they wouldn't be afraid to break societal norms. The story offered alternatives to the stereotypical female fairy tale heroines by featuring a strong, independent Beauty who frees the Beast from his captivity in a hideous body. "There was only you generous enough to be won by the goodness of my temper" (17) Both Beauty and the Beast do not overtly challenge patriarchal notions of gender; however, both portrayals offer alternatives to these norms and push the bounds of what is acceptable for men and women to accomplish. Even though Beauty is meant to be a hostage, the Beast is actually behind bars and the female is the one doing the saving, as opposed to the male. This sets the stage for a change in the perspective on how women were supposed to act, leading to more powerful female characters in future writing.

Everyone's path has its outcomes and destinations. If you don't follow your instincts, you may end up on the wrong path with the wrong fate. Beauty stayed true to herself and ended up exactly where she was destined to be. Even though the beast was a hideous and scary creature she stood her ground and for what she believed in "I have so great a desire to see my father, that I shall fret to death if you refuse me that satisfaction" (15) Regardless of the irony that he doesn't want her to leave him, he accepts that she must go home and see her worried father. The brief distance enables Beauty to realize that she has truly grown to love the Beast. She doesn't seek the palace or its wealth. Greater beyond all else in the entire world, she treasures the Beast's affection and companionship.

When you choose the path that is against the tide, it requires a lot of strength. It's simple to just follow the pack, hence the vast majority of individuals that choose the broad path, such as Beauties sisters. When you stay loyal to yourself and forge your own identity, it becomes more difficult. It requires guts and inner strength to face the task of being true to oneself regardless of judgment. Being genuine makes happiness simpler to attain because you are being judged regardless of what you do. Go through your time on earth, on your terms, not anyone else's.

Recognition in Retrospect

Critical Essay

Recognition in Retrospect

I'd like to believe everything in life has a purpose or at least a reason for its existence. If there was no purpose then the dreaded experiences would feel personal and difficult to look past.

Beloved is a mental survey of traumatic experiences that analyzes slavery through the eyes of slaves, making the reader feel a personal connection to the characters. Morrison depicts the former slaves' painful inner torment as well as the suffocating lifestyles they had in the novel. Traumatic experiences create lasting wounds in one's subconscious, which frequently falters one's hope. While Sethe reflects on her past she is faced with remembering the indescribable agony and misery she was forced to live through. Rather than addressing and overcoming her anguish, she decided to bury those horrific memories, and as a result, became captive to her own history. "It amazed Sethe... because every mention of her past life hurt.... But, as she began telling about the earrings, she found herself wanting to, liking it." (Morrison 69) Not until Beloved shows an interest in Sethe's past is she able to truly face the reality of what she overcame. Beloved's desire to reminisce about the past can be viewed as a form of deceit that drags the undesirable past into the present, yet on the other hand, it can be viewed as a necessary obstacle for Sethe and her community to overcome in order to heal from past trauma. This passage highlights the need for detachment from what is being told in storytelling: thus by developing a backstory on her past, Sethe is enabled to create her own detachment from the occurrences, and, like Beloved, become a listener of her own narrative.

There are numerous unpleasant times in everyone's life that they attempt to push back as much as possible, but no matter how hard they push, the past is unchangeable. When one has been through traumatic experiences, it's normal to turn off memories in an attempt to preserve themself from unpleasant emotional experiences that are supposedly doomed to happen. But this impending doom that we believe has the ability to disturb our peace only has the ability to affect us if we give it enough power to do so. In the novel, it is commonly believed the greatest solution to forget the memory is to forgo and discard that version of themselves. The hardest thing to come to terms with is that even with the turmoil that affects their identity so deeply, overcoming these struggles solely depends on if you are willing to let go of the past and move forth. "To Sethe, the future was a matter of keeping the past at bay. The "better life" she believed she and Denver were living was simply not that other one. Sethe keeping her from the past, that was still waiting for her was all that mattered" (Morrison 51). Memories influence the present because they alter our perspective of the world. Sethe believes that in order to have a better life she must not only protect herself from her past entirely but also Denver as well.

Some events have such force that simply remembering them is enough to cause the dreadful event to repeat again. "Those that saw her that day on the porch quickly and deliberately forgot her. It took longer for those who had spoken to her, lived with her, fallen in love with her, to forget... In the end, they forgot her too" ( Morrison 323-324) Morrison depicts the internal and external ways in which individuals in the community reconfigured their memories to push away the discomfort and confrontation with their inner trauma Beloved forced them to feel. The process moves at varying speeds based on the nature of each person's relationship with Beloved, but they all eventually reach the same point of forgetfulness. The story suggests that in order for a society to be cleansed of harmful events, the former must be accepted and left behind.

Memory is shown as a perilous and reflective force of awareness in Toni Morrison's novel Beloved. All of the individuals in the narrative experience a loss of genuine individuality as a result of slavery, as well as their own external and mental anguish. They are compelled to cope with their history in order to heal as individuals as a result of interacting with energy from their past. They will not be able to escape until they are fully engaged in reflection.