The Question:

What impact does family have during the different stages of our lives?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Like the Sun

Henry IV Part 1 is a superb example of redemption between family members. When it comes to disagreements within a family, we have all had our fair share. As much as we hope for peace at all times within our families, this never occurs. Hal and his father, Henry IV, are very distant in their relationship with each other. Hal is rebellious and runs with the wrong crowd. He is expected to act as an honorable young man who is capable of leading the country when he father passes it on to him. At the beginning of the play, Hal presents a soliloquy explaining how he imitates the sun. Hal says in Act 1 Scene 2,
“Yet herein will I imitate the sun,/Who doth permit the base contagious clouds/To smother up his beauty from the world,/That, when he please again to be himself,/Being wanted, he may be more wondered at/By breaking through the foul and ugly mists/Of vapors that did seem to strangle him.”
This passage really leads in to the rest of the play because of its foreshadowing and the pun Shakespeare uses. Hal says he will imitate the sun; I feel that this is a very interesting pun in the play as Hal is the son. He is the son of the king and should be shining like the sun, but he is hidden by clouds like the sun allows itself to be. It is important to note that Hal does not just say that clouds cover the sun, but that the sun allows the clouds to cover it. Hal’s clouds are the pub crawlers and he allows them to cover his glory and capabilities because he chooses to spend his time with them.
He goes on to say that “…when he please to be himself,/Being wanted…breaking through the foul and ugly mists…” This is later seen at the end of the play when Hal comes through and saves his father from Hotspur. Hotspur is the son Henry IV never had and Henry IV wishes that Hotspur were his son instead of Hal. This all changes at the end of the play though when Hal feels appreciated and demonstrates what he is capable of as a leader and that he really can shine like the sun. This act at the end of the play allows for the redemption between father and son illustrating how family impacts us in different ways at different times in our lives. Though a family is distant at one point, does not mean it will always be like that.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Crazy People

A violent separation and an intimate reuniting-not a “normal” family.

Reading Oedipus Rex put a spin on what I thought was the impact a family has on one’s life. I always thought there were different dynamics in different families and no, not all of them are good, but surely I had not thought of this as a possibility of family dynamics.

I believe a family is meant to build you up and make you into the person you are meant to be-not to the point where you are controlled by your family, but enough that you are willing to take their thoughts and considerations into account because you know they have your best interest in mind. Again, this thought process was turned upside down after reading Oedipus Rex.

This play puts a spin on everything I have ever thought about families and the impact they have on our lives. Families may not always treat each other very nicely-we all know that. There are different reasons for this, ranging from something like sibling rivalry all the way to abusive relationships inside a family, but never have I heard of a child, an infant even, being sent off and ordered to be killed. There is a possibility this has happened, but what I doubt even more is that that child was in fact not killed, and came back years later to marry his mother. Now, in the play this makes sense due to the prophecy, but this does not happen in real life!

The only conclusion I can draw is that this play, Oedipus Rex, does not answer my big question of what impact family has during the different stages of our lives.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Adopted Family

The family is a haven in a heartless world. ~Attributed to Christopher Lasch

What is a person to do then, if they have no family? What other haven could compete with a family?

This is the case for Virginia Woolf’s character, Lily, in her novel To the Lighthouse. Lily’s family is never mentioned and even though she is a grown woman, she has never been married. Lily seems to find her haven in her art, but I believe that only offers partial satisfaction for Lily.

One of the main motifs the reader sees presented in this novel is that of Lily’s painting; this is what truly brings peace to Lily and brings meaning to the chaos seen between all the characters. Lily’s painting was inspired by Mrs. Ramsay and her family and would not have been created if it were not for the impact the Ramsay family had on Lily.

Even though Lily was not a member of the Ramsay family, she was impacted by them enough so that most of her thoughts had to do with none other than the Ramsay family.

Why was she so interested in the Ramsay family?

I believe it is because of the impact they had on her. She watched them interact every single day and learned so much from them. So much, in fact, that she arguably became part of their family. Family doesn’t always mean blood relation; I believe family has more to do with the social connection shared than by whether or not you share the same DNA. Family is important to everyone because of the impact it has- it undoubtedly had an impact on Lily.

I Miss You…?

Friend, you have done me
Kindness, like a father to his son,
Book I
Lines 355-356

The son paused by a tall pear tree and wept.
Then inwardly debated; should he run
Forward and kiss his father and pour out
His tale of war, adventure, and return,
Or should he first interrogate him, test him?
Better that way, he thought-
First draw him out with sharp words, trouble him.
Lines 259-265

What were ancient Greek families built on? Kindness from a father to a son, but not from a son to a father? Where did this theme of hospitality we dissected throughout this epic vanish to?

Telémakhos did not know his father growing up, he knew only of his father. The impact that Odysseus may have had on Telémakhos as a young boy was a missed opportunity because Odysseus was not around. Telémakhos knew not of the relationship between a father and a son, or, at least, had not experienced one.

The impact Odysseus had on Telémakhos was not one he was aware of. In “The Odyssey” we see Telémakhos change in order to be more like his father. He works to be a better leader, to be strong, and to be brave. When Telémakhos and Odysseus are reunited they work together to beat suitors showing that even though they had been apart the impact they had on each other was strong enough to bring them together as if they had been for all their lives. This is what I believe family to be- that uniting force that means you’ll never be alone.

Off and Running

What impact does family have during the different stages of our lives?

The relationship I share with my family has been many things; enduring, secure, exhilarating, vexing, but most of all loving.

This relationship, no matter the twists and turns it takes, is built upon unconditional love. I know that my family will rejoice with me when I succeed, but that they will walk with me through the hard times I am bound to face as well.

As I have grown, my relationship with my family has changed. When I once depended on my parents for everything, I have now become more independent and do more for myself than I ever have before. My parents no longer take care of me in the way they used to. It is normal for me to feed and clothe myself and even to get myself to the places I need to be and do the things I need to do; my parents do less for me now in that aspect of my life, but the appreciation I have for them has grown.

Yes, my family impacted me when I was younger. It was from them that I learned lying and hitting are bad and that I always need to use my manners, but the impact I now feel has shaped me into who I am, not just what I do.