“Of Everything He is the Theme”: Archetypal Criticism and the Phases of Myth

Essay completed 25 September 2017

Archetypal criticism identifies the symbolic elements in “pre-literary categories” such as “ritual, myth and folk tale” from humanity’s past that still make up narratives today (Frye 1308-1309). Literary critic Northrop Frye establishes a systematic foundation for archetypal criticism in his 1951 essay “The Archetypes of Literature.” Continue reading ““Of Everything He is the Theme”: Archetypal Criticism and the Phases of Myth”

Place and Power: Sierra Blanca and Mescalero Apache Cosmology

Essay completed 3 April 2017

The recognition of sacred land as the site of physical and spiritual intersection recurs in Mescalero Apache scholarship. David L. Carmichael argues in “Places of power: Mescalero Apache sacred sites and sensitive areas,” that “belief in the sacred character of specific geographical places” defines Mescalero thought (89). Most of these sites sacred to the Mescalero are regarded as “places of power, points of intersection between the material world and spiritual world” (89). In her book The Apache Peoples: A History of All Bands and Tribes Through the 1880s, Jessica Dawn Palmer notes the Mescalero saw their land as “a living entity full of objects, plants and animals of innate power” (291). Palmer argues the Mescalero sought to live “within their environment rather than trying to bend it to their will” (291). Continue reading “Place and Power: Sierra Blanca and Mescalero Apache Cosmology”

“Supervise the Storytellers”: Education and Censorship in The Republic

Image by Grady Pearson

Essay completed 23 November 2015

“The final outcome of education,” Plato declares, “is a single, complete… product that is either good or the opposite” (4.425a). In The Republic, Plato argues for a strictly regulated education system concerned entirely with producing a proper citizen. The foundation of this education system is musical training, or instructing children through storytelling (2.376e). Because Plato believes that children are “especially malleable” at a younger age, he argues that stories must be censored in order for children to grow up with a proper worldview (2.377b). Mothers and educators must only “tell the acceptable ones” in order to shape the children’s souls properly (2.377c). All other stories “must be thrown out” (2.377c). Continue reading ““Supervise the Storytellers”: Education and Censorship in The Republic”

Beyond the Veil: Staging and Violence in Agamemnon and The Libation Bearers

Image by Grady Pearson

Essay completed 26 October 2015

“Greek theatre was an exercise of the eye,” says Camille Paglia (Paglia 104). In the first two plays of the Oresteia, Aeschylus explores the dichotomy of the seen and the unseen in two climactic murder revelation scenes. Clytemnestra murders her husband and his concubine in Agamemnon, only to be murdered alongside her lover by her son in The Libation Bearers. When Clytemnestra kills Agamemnon and his concubine, the chorus and the audience can only hear the king’s dying cries (Agamemnon 1369). Aegisthus meets his end the same way, behind the skene where his murderer awaits (The Libation Bearers 857). Orestes then pulls his mother into the palace and kills her offstage (The Libation Bearers 918). All four murders occur behind the palace walls and out of the audience’s sight. Aeschylus’ decision not to depict any violence onstage makes his audience “imagine the horror of the killing… an effect more powerful than words alone…” (Wiles 140). Continue reading “Beyond the Veil: Staging and Violence in Agamemnon and The Libation Bearers”