Madison Brooks

ENG 131

More about Me

Hello, My name is Madison Brooks. One of my favorite things to do is travel. I was lucky enough to be apart of a 2 week long exchange program the summer of my junior year in high school. While in Peru I was able to learn more about the different culture, language, foods, and their history. One of my favorite things I got to do while in Peru was visit one of the seven wonders. We woke up early that morning around five am to catch a bus that would drive us to  the top of the ancient Incan civilization. We were able to watch the sun rise over this ancient ruin and it was absolutely breathtaking. After seeing one out of seven of the wonders, I  immediately wanted to see the other six. This small two week trip sparked enthusiasm in me to go and see more of our amazing world. I know that while at LR I definitely want to study abroad for a longer period of time and learn and live in a completely new culture and country temporarily.

1.                                         2.                                        3.

  1. At Macchu Picchu
  2. The map on the airplane to show we were almost arrived in Lima, Peru
  3. View from the Sky deck of the hotel we stayed at while visiting Cusco, Peru
Featured post

Power and Villainous Characters in Fiction and in Historical Events

Looking at Marlon James’ John Crow’s Devil and Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation  you might ask what these two books have in common. The books are set in completely different times and places. John Crow’s Devil is a story based in the Jamaican town, Gibbeah, in the year of 1957. Whereas, Assassination Vacation is taking us on a trip learning about the assassinations of President Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley. There are two things that relate to both books; power and villainous characters.

The current conflict within Gibbeah is between Apostle York and Pastor Bligh. The reader is made to believe that the person in power is not villainous and that the person against the one in power is the villainous one. But in this book, that does not seem to be the case. The Apostle is in power for a majority of the book, but we do not believe he is the villain. We believe that the villain is Pastor Bligh. The townspeople of Gibbeah believe this because “His (Pastor Bligh) sermons, even when he was sober rocked with the terror and uncertainty of a man not in control” (30). When the Apostle comes into power and takes the Pastor’s position, the community views him in a completely different light than the way they portray the Pastor. The Apostle quickly receives power from the community and they quickly fall into his control because they feel he knows them: “All him (Apostle) do is look at we and we know. That is how the Apostle good! Him know we before we know we! When he want people to do something, him just look upon them in a certain way and them do it quickly” (91).   The Apostle uses that power to get the community to do as he says. “The Apostle was firm: Evil had to be driven out” (179). When the Apostle wanted evil driven out, he caused the community to come together to stone an innocent man because they believed the Apostle when he said “only evil coming over that bridge” (178).The chapter “Bang” is where we begin to believe that even though the Apostle is in power that he is also the villainous character unlike the Pastor. The Apostle becomes distracted from his main goals and is more interested in the power unlike the Pastor who has become encouraged by his goals to help the community over having the power. In this book it is very obvious to the reader that the power the Apostle had is what caused him to become so villainous.

Now focusing on the most famous presidential assassination of President Abraham Lincoln we see again a common theme of power and evil. However, In contrast to John Crow’s Devil the power and evil are not in the same person. In fact the evil is caused in this story because of the hatred the villainous character had for the person in power. John Wilkes Booth is our villainous character and our character in power is President Lincoln. Lincoln is known as a civil rights activist who was trying to create freedom for everyone. But, Booth was a confederate who did not want freedom for everyone. Booth had attended the Second Inauguration of Lincoln where he promotes this vision saying “to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace” (27). But, Booth did not want to do what Lincoln was calling upon himself and his countrymen. Booth was willing to do anything to stop Lincoln’s vision from becoming a reality even if that meant killing the President behind the vision. Although Booth was the successful assassin of the sixteenth president he was not the only one to be a threat to the president. The group that was organized by Booth was originally just going to kidnap him. The notion of kidnapping President Lincoln was for exchanging him for southern POWs” (29-30). Once the war was over there was no need in kidnapping the President. There is no consensus among historians as to when the kidnapping plan turned into an assassination plot.” (30). Booth ended up being the only one part of his assassin team to actually assassin one of the three leaders in the federal government, but there is no real known reason to why Booth killed the president. The only thing we can conclude is that Booth’s background caused him to dislike the president and what he stood for.

We see that power and villainous characters can occur in almost any story no matter if it is a work of fiction or a historical event. Evil can occur in those in power and also in those opposed to the person in power; this is something that can occur instantaneously or over time. John Crow’s Devil portrays the power of a villainous character taking over very instantaneously. While in Assassination Vacation the villainous character tries to overthrow the one in power gradually. James and Vowell portray this in different ways with still using the same base line of power and evil.

Works Cited

Vowell, Sarah. Assassination Vacation. Simon and Schuster 2005

James, Marlon. John Crow’s Devil. Akashic. 2005.

A Modern Perspective of good vs. evil

In Susan Synder’s “Othello: A Modern Perspective” we look into what could be the main factor into the failure of Desdemona’s marriage to Othello. Out of all the approaches that Synder offers the most viable seems to be Iago to the reader. Iago is seemed as a constant threat to the marriage of Othello and Desdemona. “Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy – in fact, they are almost incompatible; one emotion hardly leaves room for the other.” -Robert A. Heinlein.

In act 3 scene 3 136-138 “And for I thou’rt full of love and honesty And weigh’st thy words before thou giv’st them breath.” This scene is very important to how Othello sees Iago. Othello tells Iago that he believes his word and knows that he is full of love. But Othello does not realize that Iago is pretending to be this way so he does not expect anything bad of him. But later in the scene Iago makes a statement that begins to make Othello question the character of Iago. Could Iago be evil? Or is Othello just worried about his relationship. Iago states in Act 3 scene 3 195-200 “ O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock The meat it feeds on. That cuckold lives in bliss Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger, But, o, what damnèd minutes tells he o’er Who dotes, yet doubts— suspects, yet soundly loves!” What Iago is saying in these lines is that the man who thinks his wife is cheating will not think that she is with a friend of the husband’s,but, the man that loves his wife still will suspect something. Othello begins to wonder why Iago would bring this up and begins to question his own relationship.This seems to be a start to where Othello question Iago and Desdemona’s “relationship”. This is where jealousy begins to step in. But this is exactly what is happening “Iago wants revenge, whether by possessing Desdemona or by shattering Othello’s marital happiness; Cassio is his chosen instrument because Casio is attractive to women and an additional threat to Iago’s husbandly rights of ownership over Emilia… And when Iago, after engineering Cassio’s downfall does get the lieutenancy at the end of Act 3 scene 3, he expresses no satisfaction either then or later.” (289).

When Iago begins to try and take down the relationship Othello and Desdemona and just Othello as a whole he doesn’t start with the take down of Othello.  He (Iago) who plots to poison Othello’s happiness, and to bring down Cassio as well by getting him first stripped of his military position and then suspected by the Moor as Desdemona’s lover. It is Iago whom everyone onstage condemns at the play’s conclusion.” (288). This line by Synder claims that most readers do not suspect wrong doings from Iago but by the end of the play Iago is most definitely the one to blame. Iago is claimed to be viewed as a “viper, devil, wretch, pernicious caitiff, Spartan dog, and (repeatedly) slave and villain.” (288).

Works Cited

          Mowat, Barbara A. and Paul Werstine, eds. Folger Shakespeare Library: Othello by William Shakespeare. Simon and Schuster, 2009.

Snyder, Susan. “Othello: A Modern Perspective.” Folger Shakespeare Library: Othello by William Shakespeare, edited by Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine, Simon and Schuster, 2009. 287-98.

Can your words really kill you?

In Sarah Vowell’s Assassination Vacation we are given an insight into three presidential assassinations. Those assassinations are of President Abraham Lincoln, President James Garfield, and President William Mckinley. We are going to focus on the well known assassination of President Lincoln. Lincoln was a civil rights activist trying to promote freedom within the states which was despised by many people in the confederate states like John Wilkes Booth.  This was most likely why Booth began to dislike the president.

Two famous speeches given by Lincoln we are going to look at is the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural speech. We focus on these two speeches because they all have something linked to them that could have caused Lincoln’s assassination. To read this speech is to see how Lincoln’s mind worked, to see how the governed, how he lived” (27). Vowell states that “Lincoln is sarcastic. He’s a writer. And in his sarcasm and his writing, he is who he was.” (26). But with Lincoln being who he was and speaking as if he were talking to anyone did it spark something in John Wilkes Booth (Lincoln’s Assassin) to not like the president.

Lincoln wasn’t just disliked by Booth. Lincoln kept a desk drawer full of death threats” (28). But how is it that Lincoln had so many threats and ended up killed by a unorganized man. Booth attended Lincoln’s second inauguration and “allegedly told a friend, “What an excellent chance I had to kill the president, if I had wished on Inauguration Day!” (27).

With malice towards none.” (26). Lincoln was quoted saying this just a few weeks before the assassination. Lincoln believed in no wrongdoing towards others and ended up killed from a bad man doing wrong towards him. We see Vowell using these two main speeches of Lincoln’s which later foreshadow to be ironic to Booth.  Lincoln always included himself with the people. He wanted everyone to have the same rights and that might be where Booth began to dislike the president causing a mission to kill him so that didn’t happen.

Did something Lincoln say potentially kill him? Lincoln calls on himself and his countrymen “to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace.” (27). Lincoln was quoted saying this at his second inauguration which was attended by Booth. After hearing those words most people come together but in this case this might be what caused Booth to assassinate the president. Booth who was a confederate did not want to see everyone coming together equally and the only way to possibly stop that was to kill the man behind the vision. Booth was able to do this, to move freely between North and South, because he was a nationally famous actor..” (29). Confederates were shrewd to take advantage of Booth’s fame.” (29). Without Booth’s ability to move freely it does not seem possible that he would have been able to successfully assassinate and run from police. But this also hurt him because he was able to be spotted by the police. Booth’s confederate and actor background seem to be major factors in the plot to assassinate the 16th president. Without these backgrounds the only thing Booth would have as reason to assassinate the president is pure hatred.

Work Cited

Vowell, Sarah. Assassination Vacation. Simon and Schuster 2005

People’s Facades in “John Crow’s Devil”

In the book John Crow’s Devil by Marlon James we get a look into a Jamaican village, Gibbeah, in the time of 1957. Gibbeah’s current issue is within the church. We have a drunken pastor who has been replaced by an Apostle. But after looking at the chapter “Bang” is the Apostle a better replacement?

Referring back to the first paragraph, in chapter twenty one “Bang”  we see “the Apostle gave the church spiritual armour” (177). Normally when thinking an Apostle gives his church spiritual armour we might think he is blessing them, or making them feel strong in their faith. But, we see the Apostle giving spiritual armour to his church so they feel “We waiting with purpose for the Lord give we power. The Apostle give we sword of the spirit. Him say only evil coming over that bridge, so we stand” (178).

Later in this chapter we learn the reason the villagers are at the bridge waiting. The villagers had been lead to believe whatever came across that bridge was a demon. Brother Jake grab a stone first” (178). We see the Apostle’s message had lead the villagers to stone an innocent man because:

“The Apostle was firm: Evil had to be driven out” (179).

The Apostle believed evil had to be driven out but was evil in his own ways. You were with the Apostle or you were with Pastor Beligh repented of your sin. After the stoning of the innocent man we see a turning point in the environment of Gibbeah, almost a sense of fear. The Apostle almost seems like a dictator. Pastor Beligh begins not to seem so bad after all. The Apostle begins to hang the young and the weak. He [ The Apostle ] also gets together a group of five men. These men protect the well being of the Apostle. Looking back on the fact the Apostle was hanging people (the young and the weak) and had a group of hitmen reminds you a lot of the very well known dictator, Adolf Hitler. Hitler was well known for the Holocaust in which he was using concentration camps for the genocide of certain people (Jews, Gypsies, etc.). This was all going on while he was in power for Germany, but he never once got his hand dirty, because he had people that were doing that for him because they thought it was the right thing to do based on his word. Both Hitler and the Apostle share one trait, they are both charismatic. This charm allows both men to say something and influence a person to do what they want.  But while all of this is happening we hear no news of Pastor Beligh or any wrong doings by him. The pastor is trying to help save people which is what the Apostle’s job was. But the Apostle is more worried about making this town a better place in ways he was not hired for.

The Apostle seemed to have good intentions in the beginning. But later we are forced to believe the power he has is affecting his word. The Apostle believes the evil needs to be driven out when in reality the evil is him. When we imagine the Apostle we picture him in his red robes that he wore instead of the typical attire. Power will show someone’s real colors which is why the color change of the robes is brought to attention. Could the Apostle possibly been trying to show his real colors once he received power.

Work Cited

James, Marlon. John Crow’s Devil. Akashic. 2005.

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