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Segunda Prueba de Evaluación Continua (PEC2)

Literatura Norteamericana I: Siglos XVII-XIX

Curso 2017-2018

Las PECs se deben enviar a través del curso virtual utilizando un documento en
Word que contenga, además del título de la asignatura y el número de la prueba,
los siguientes datos del remitente: 1) apellidos, 2) nombre, 3) Centro Asociado.
Se debe guardar el archivo bajo un título que siga como modelo:
Apellido1_Apellido2_Nombre_PEC2_Centro Asociado
Por ejemplo: Rovira_Cano_Laura_PEC2_Albacete

Las PECs se responderán en inglés, de modo discursivo (no esquemático). Cada


una de las dos respuestas se desarrollará en 300-400 palabras aproximadamente, sin
exceder 500 palabras para cada respuesta, es decir, empleando un máximo de 1.000
palabras para cada una de las PECs. Las instrucciones específicas para responder
adecuadamente a las preguntas se encuentran en las páginas de A Study Guide for
American Literature to 1900 que se indican al final de cada enunciado. Véanse
también el apartado 3.2.2 del documento de “Orientaciones específicas” y los
documentos titulados “Basic Guidelines for Academic Writing” y “Advice on Writing
PECs” (se accede pulsando sobre el icono de navegación de “Exámenes anteriores”).

Aunque en el material didáctico básico de esta asignatura se ofrece información


suficiente para elaborar las pruebas de evaluación continua, los estudiantes podrán emplear
bibliografía complementaria. Si se cita o parafrasea información, deberán hacerse constar
las fuentes bibliográficas utilizadas mediante referencias entre paréntesis, o en notas
finales, o en notas a pie de página, teniendo en cuenta que no podrán superar tales pruebas
quienes recurran a los diversos tipos de plagio (por ejemplo, copiando de la bibliografía
básica o de la complementaria, de páginas web, o de los trabajos de otros estudiantes). El
profesorado-tutor de la asignatura dispone de herramientas antiplagio y ha recibido
instrucciones precisas para actuar en caso de que detecte un plagio total o parcial de las
respuestas a las PECs. Las dudas concretas sobre las PECs no se consultarán al equipo
docente de la asignatura, sino a los profesores-tutores encargados de corregirlas.

Segunda Prueba de Evaluación Continua Plazo de envío: 16/04/2018

1) Discuss how spatial setting (also called place setting) is linked to atmosphere
in “The Masque of the Red Death” and “The Slave Warehouse” (units 16 and
18). See the Activity entitled “Writing about setting” in A Study Guide for
American Literature to 1900 (pages 130-33), and pay particular attention to
section 6 of the Activity “Writing about plot” (page 98).

2) Compare and contrast the use of imagery in section 15 of “Song of Myself” and in
“Safe in their Alabaster Chambers,” and explain to what extent the various kinds of
images to be found in these poems work successfully (units 19 and 20). See the
definitions of image and imagery in A Study Guide for American Literature to
1900, pages 204-205, and see also the references to this concept which can be found
in previous units (e.g. American Literature to 1900, pages 43, 48, 50, 51, 56, 81, 82,
89, and 114).
1) Discuss how spatial setting (also called place setting) is linked to atmosphere in
“The Masque of the Red Death” and “The Slave Warehouse” (units 16 and 18). See
the Activity entitled “Writing about setting” in A Study Guide for American
Literature to 1900 (pages 130-33), and pay particular attention to section 6 of the
Activity “Writing about plot” (page 98).

The first sentence in The Masque of the Red Death is already depicting a
geographical space, as an anticipation of how important the setting will be, although this
“devastated kingdom” remains unnamed.
The architectonical space of Prospero’s hideaway is an ancient abbey depicted as a
fortress with high walls and iron gates, so no one can get in nor out. This isolation
contributes to create a claustrophobic effect that grows up with the depictions of the
interior decorations in the suite where the ball takes place.
Poe describes this ball suite with its turns and reflections as intentionally bizarre and
extravagant. The seven rooms are not aligned, but in an irregular form so the dancers
are able to see only one of them at a time. This maze form made to entertain the courters
contributes to increase the sensation of anxiety and confinement. The seven rooms are
fully decorated following a color scheme that represents human life from birth to death.
The colored light shines into the rooms through Gothic windows, creating shadows that
add volume to the scene.
The atmosphere in the masquerade ball is supposed to be pleasant and enjoyable, but
in the last of the chambers there is a threatening ebony clock as black as the room.
Every time the clock chimes the dancers and musicians feel gloomy and contain their
breath for a moment, as if the clock reminded them that their safety is an illusion: no
matter how deep you hide or how much fun you’re having, there’s always room for
death.

In the chapter “The Slave Warehouse” from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the main setting is
named in the title. The geographical space is the South of the USA, when being in one
state or another meant slavery or freedom for a black person.
The architectonical space is described as a neat and decent house like many others in
New Orleans, where quality articles are exposed on line. The night before the auction,
the slaves are waiting for their unknown destiny. In the men’s sleeping room, they are
encouraged to dance as if the bustle could make them forget their sorrow, which
reminds us of the dancers from Poe’s tale. The women’s sleeping room is enlightened
by the moonbeam that reflects the shadows of the window’s prison bars over Susan and
her daughter while she’s singing, foreshadowing their painful separation.
In the morning, the Bourse is described as a luxurious place with a splendid dome
and marble paves. Here, Stowe points directly to the massive injustice against black
people by exposing the way those “lowly” are treated by the slavery system. Every time
a sale is done the thump of the auctioneer’s hammer, that makes the characters contain
their breath in the same way Poe’s clock did, reminds us that a new story of disgrace is
about to begin.

The social division of spaces is also well defined in both texts. The courtiers in
Poe’s story are supposed to be safe with their servers and entertainers, while the people
outside succumb to the plague; same as the white gentlemen and traders in Stowe’s
novel move safe and free whereas the slaves have no rights at all. Eventually, Prospero
was trapped in his own artifice, same as the South was proved to be with their slavery
politics. In both texts’ settings, there is an atmosphere of discomfort, witnessing
situations that overthrow the natural order: death can’t be eluded and human beings
can’t be owned.

2) Compare and contrast the use of imagery in section 15 of “Song of Myself” and in
“Safe in their Alabaster Chambers,” and explain to what extent the various kinds of
images to be found in these poems work successfully (units 19 and 20). See the
definitions of image and imagery in A Study Guide for American Literature to
1900, pages 204-205, and see also the references to this concept which can be found
in previous units (e.g. American Literature to 1900, pages 43, 48, 50, 51, 56, 81, 82,
89, and 114).

The section 15 of “Song of Myself” is an extensive catalogue of scenes described in


a beautiful, plain style. There are depictions of the different roles people play in society
through their jobs or their daily moments. From the working-class urban citizens to the
President or the immigrants, everyone seems to fit into the American society somehow.
One image comes after another, from family scenes to the sale of a slave, Whitman
exposes a country full of life and diversity. People from the cities, the country, the rivers
and ports; also Native Americans, different depictions of men, women and children, are
all included in these visions of America.
In his search for equality, the poet doesn’t judge any of them; he only takes part
once, as if he tolerated everything but intolerance itself. Through those powerful images
the reader can feel Whitman’s conception of a young equality-based democracy with its
greatness and miseries.

On the other side, the dead are safe in their graves in Emily Dickinson’s poem, only
waiting for resurrection. Inside their white tombs they are untouched by morning or
noon, which means that even though we may die, time still goes on and life keeps
going, but the dead no longer play a part in it.
In the gorgeous second version of the poem, the cosmic imagery replaces the first
version’s references of nature, adding magnificence to the theme. Titles and material
things will no longer matter, in the end we lose it all and everyone is equal in Heaven.

Some images in “Song of Myself” are reinforced by sounds and noises that add
realism: the song of the contralto, the whistle of the carpenter’s plane, the hum of the
wheel, the bugle of the ball, the musical rain… Whitman’s section is inhabited by the
sound of the living; while in Dickinson’s poem, the dead are insensitive to the sounds of
nature in the first version. In the second one, the images of earthly power, as the
diadems and the Doges, are silenced by death.

After all the sensorial impacts of his catalogue, Whitman shows us unity in the three
final verses, where the poet tries to contain the whole country within the mighty
“Myself”. Dickinson, on the other hand, ends her poem with the mute image of the
“dots on a disk of snow”: the image of melting snow, white as the alabaster, could
probably mean the passing of time. In the vastness of the universe we are insignificant
when compared with the larger picture, we are “dots on a disk of snow” in a cosmic
sense, as Carl Sagan’s so-called “pale blue dot”.