Writing Catalog

Julia Zhu

Grade: 11

Hathaway Brown School

Instructor: Elizabeth Armstrong




Mouths say he's a
Cunning, fearless, brave
And more

So much more
than reality
could ever know.

In the perilous night, he is the spark
Brilliant in an everlasting war
He stands,
a hero forged

The gods blessed him more

So much more.
So blessed that
He could never lose
And never lose
Because man will always lose more

to war
He says he's a
broken man
Trapped in the dark
Weeping to the waves
Mourning the dead

And a hero no more




I am from pristine pages of rough sketches
A frantic pen scratching the blank pages
I am from the tired mornings
bargaining for and extra minute of sleep

I am from the crisp pages on a book
Huddled in a corner not to be disturbed
Images flashing with each chosen word
Words whisper in my mind 'till I drift off
I am from the fast flowing creeks
The flat stones skipping, just barely skimming the water

I am from mango nectar and spring-rolls
The fried rolls crunch with every bite.
I am from glistening slopes of snow every winter
awaiting for the ski season's
rush of wind past your ear and the heights of the lift

I am from China and the Yangtze, the root of China
The strong current flooding the river bed every year
The flowing Chinese characters written like english calligraphy
Penjing delicately made and put on display, each individual branch growing
The food spicy as fire were laced in with tea
China's hot, humid nights and America's cool, dusky evenings

An ancestral bamboo scroll holding my name, folding back the last few thousand years

The Relationships in Midsummer Night's Dream

Critical Essay

The Relationships in Midsummer Night's Dream

The relationships between men and women are part of human life. These interactions happen daily in society. However, these relationships, held together by what people perceive to be love, are the reason for their joy and sadness. In A Midsummer Night's Dream by Shakespeare, he demonstrates his take on love and the power dynamic within relationships. He does this with the characters' relationships and the changes in them as the plot thickens. The two major relationships are the lovers Lysander and Hermia, and Lysander and Helena. Hermia and Lysander are originally in love, but when the fairies meddle in the lovers' affairs they mistakenly use a love potion on Lysander that influences him to love Helena. This causes emotional strife for everyone else. In the scene Act 2, Scene 2, Shakespeare depicts men, within the various relationships, to be the arbitrators while women are shown in a sympathetic light, facing the consequence, of their faith in love.

Hermia and Lysander are shown as lovers with unconditional love for each other however, Shakespeare also depicts Lysander as swayed to love Helena with a simple love potion in the play. This contradiction goes to show how the love of a man is fickle and often is distressful to the partner in the relationship. At the beginning of the scene, the lovers are exchanging sweet words and Lysander says "I mean, that my heart unto yours is knit / So that but one heart we can make of it; …For lying so, Hermia, I do not lie."(Shakespeare. II.ii. 53-58) He says "my heart unto yours is knit" and "one heart we can make of it". "Knit" also means united. So what he means is his heart is united with Hermia's, and so much so that they "make of it" to be "one heart". He then goes on to say he does not "lie". Shakespeare however does not let the audience settle because in the same scene Lysander says the opposite, under the love potion, to Helena:

Content with Hermia! No; I do repent

The tedious minutes I with her have spent.


And reason says you are the worthier maid.

Things growing are not ripe until their season

So I, being young, till now ripe not to reason;


Reason becomes the marshal to my will

And leads me to your eyes, where I o'erlook

Love's stories written in love's richest book. (Shakespeare. II.ii. 117-128)

He says vehemently "Content with Hermia! No; I do repent" and "The tedious minutes I with her have spent". There is an exclamation point showing the emphasis that is put onto denying the prior relationship with Hermia, and then he goes on to say that he "repents'' meaning that he regrets what even happened and explains every minute was "tedious" when he "spent" them with her. The choice of emphasizing "minutes'' shows how dislikable Hermia's presence was to him. He thought even a minute was too much. The word "spent" implies how much he regrets the decision because the word "spent" can be interpreted as a loss of something that can not be replenished. In this instance, it is time. Next, while trying to convince Helena, Lysander repeatedly says "reason", stressing that it is "reason" that makes him love her. Shakespeare might imply that it's not the love potion talking, but his own judgment and "reason". He even emphasizes this with the rhyme of "season" and "reason". This connection could be interpreted as the opinion, love can change as quickly as the "seasons'' or that love is seasonal, and therefore temporary for Lysander. He then says the "reason becomes the marshall'' of his "will" and it "leads" to Helena's "eyes". He looks and sees "Love's stories written in love's richest book". There is another contradiction here. He emphasizes "reason" throughout the excerpt, but then ends with a reference to fiction, "Love's stories". These constant contradictions go to show how Lysander's feelings are not reasonable and are volatile. His character is presented filled with contradictions. Lysander's first impression was truthful saying he cannot "lie" about his love for Hermia, and they are "knit" into one. Then, not long after, he goes to Helena declaring his love and his regrets for not seeing "reason" sooner. This scene ends with Hermia quite distraught over this and ends up exclaiming her heartache "Either death or you I'll find immediately." (Shakespeare. II.ii.162). She is willing to die for their love, while Lysander is confessing to another. This contrasts the lovers' differing feelings. Shakespeare demonstrates the nonchalance and arrogance of a man in a relationship with the contrast of Lysander's feelings towards Hermia before and after Lysander was affected by a love potion. Lysander's feelings cruelly changed and Hermia still pines after him in the name of love.

The women in this scene experience the dominance of men and the plight they bring to them. Namely, the unrequited love of Helena for Demetrius and Lysander's unrequited love for Helena. How Helena treats Demetrius and Lysander treats Helena differs. In both instances, it is the one in love treating the one that is not in love, but the difference is the gender of the person doing the loving. Helena says "No, no, I am as ugly as a bear; / For beasts that meet me run away for fear: /…What wicked and dissembling glass of mine" (Shakespeare II.ii. 100-104). She says she is "as ugly as a bear" so much so that when "beasts that meet" her they "run away" in "fear". Therefore her "presence" is "thus" that of a monster. She then says that her reflection is "wicked". Glass can mean mirror, so in that line, she is referring to her own reflection. Mirrors are always linked to reflection, as that is their use, but it can also symbolize that Helena is always reflecting with a "glass" about her own shortcomings of why Demetrius might not love her. This is a sharp contrast to Lysander who seems to be the polar opposite when confronted with the same situation. He says "That through thy bosom makes me see thy heart. / Where is Demetrius? … / Is that vile name to perish on my sword!" (Shakespeare. II.ii. 111-113). He exclaims his love saying that he can see her "heart" "through" her "bosom". This could be seen as him saying that he can see her true feelings, as a "heart" can often symbolize that. This can be interpreted that he believes that Helena's true feelings are towards him. He does not reflect on himself, but rather believes Helena should accept him. He then blames Demetrius as he knows Helena likes him. He says he wants Demetrius dead, "to perish on" his "sword". This causes obvious distress to Helena as she then says:

In such disdainful manner me to woo.


I thought you lord of more true gentleness.

O, that a lady, of one man refused.

Should of another therefore be abused! (Shakespeare. II.ii. 136-140).

She exclaims that the "manner" in which he woos is so "disdainful". Because of that, her view of him has changed as she thought he was "a lord…of…gentleness". Just because he "refused" another "lady" he "should" not abuse "another". There is a rhyme with "refused" and "abused" linking that just because a man is "refused" he should not abuse the refuser. The pattern seems to be that the man is always more aggressive and always upsetting the woman. Helena is depicted to be more reflective of her unrequited love, but Lysander is more demanding and it even goes far enough for Helena to say it is abuse. Shakespeare depicts men with very forceful personalities and are therefore the ones causing greater harm. This continuation of men being the issue in a relationship is apparent throughout this scene.

Shakespeare argues that the roles in a relationship are not equal, men are more likely to be the ones causing harm, and women are the ones dealing with the aftermath. He also adds that women are more susceptible to staying in a relationship because of their belief in love. Hermia has to weather the storm that is Lysander's ever-changing feelings based on so-called "reason". Helena on the other hand is dealing with the aggressive way in which Lysander is approaching her, while pitifully dealing with her own rejected feelings. These depictions of the main characters show the turbulent nature of a relationship with many of the issues arising because of the man. In the end, people will continue to dream of love and society will view it as a status quo. However, what this scene brings to the table is a constant reminder that women should not have to put up with such blatant and unfair treatment. Letting go of this dream of true love can wake people up to see the real world and their true worth in a relationship.

Beautiful Color


Beautiful Color

I closed my eyelids
and wish
for a world, a canvas of one
Harmonious monotone spitting image
No color to hate

Trembling hot shame often flooded my cheeks
of the way english words flopped off my tongue
of the empty lunch table from the pungent food I ate
of the qipao I wore to formals
My hues were secondary in a sea of primary

I wanted to shed my skin,
trade burnt orange for royal blue
fix sage green for apple red
swap dusty purple for pure yellow
To stammer "I can eat sandwiches too"

I hated the stale bread and cold turkey
I would miss eating the warm
rice from the Thermos
But the thought of the loneliness
cripples more

Everyday I would return to a collage
of wafting smells of stir-fry vegetables
of english and chinese mixed into one
my family is as vivid
as the green purple feathers on a peacock

I stubbornly blind to these luminous colors
Yet, my friends silently taught
how how to streak fiery orange across the sky
my family proudly chart
how to smear shimmering greens through my passions
and I carved my solace
in an electric purple room

A world devoid of color,
a band aid of shame to only disguise a gaping chasm of hate,
Means nothing.
Every shade, tint, and gleaming rainbow hue
With every right to demand a space on the canvas
The picture of many