Unit 3: Heroines in Literature

Unit 3: Women’s Role in History and Society & Application of Literary Theories

Texts: Euripides’ Medea or Electra , Antigone by Sophocles, Hamlet By Shakespeare ( Gertrude and Ophelia),  As You Like It (Rosalind) by Shakespeare, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin, The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot, Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy,  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorn, A Room with a View by Virginia Woolf, Three Sisters by Chekov, A Streetcar Named Desire ( Blanch) by Tennessee Williams, Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Three Tall Women by Edward Albee

Resources: Meyer, Michael. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. 3rd. ed. St. Martin’s, 1993; Library and internet resources;

Part I: Women’s Role in History and Society


Students will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Identify unconventional traits in a female character against her social structure and ideology
  • Recognize and explain how each heroin is a “woman warrior” in her own way
  • Identify the common cause of their tragic ending
  • Read critically and analyze an excerpt from a chosen text to discuss how the excerpt is related to a specific theme that permeates the work.
  • Use a specific literary theory to analyze one of the heroines


  • Reading quizzes on each required text
  • Micro-essays: Rhetorical analysis of Antigone’s speech to Creon in Scene 4 ofAntigone; analyze excerpts of a 19th century novel and discuss how the section helps develop a theme; analyze an excerpt from a modern drama( Tennessee or Albee) and discuss how the section contributes to the larger picture of the heroine’s character development.
  • Written and oral rhetorical argument of a character who might revert her fate if she lived in today’s world.
  • Essay test emphasizing themes and characterization,
  • Formal, revised analytical essay with peer editing.
  • AP Essay based on one of the College Board-published open-ended essay questions ( summative assessment).

Text: Electra by Euripides

Lesson 1

Objectives: Students will read the preface of the play Electra by Euripides and identify reasons why we study the tragedy and its distinctions from a play with the same title written by Sophocles.

Aim: Why do we consider a matricidal character a heroine?

Do Now: Why does Electra want to kill her mother Clytemnestra? Read the article to become familiar with the context of the play.

Mini Lesson

1.Read a scene from the play and discuss how Euripides’ scene is  structured differently from that of Sophocles’ Oedipus or Antigone.

2. Identify Themes of the play

Independent Practice:

  1. Pylades never speaks or does anything except stand next to Orestes. What’s the point of his character? Why have him in the play at all?
  2. What purpose do the choral songs have on our reading of the play?
  3. What does Electra being a woman have to do with Euripides’  treatment of her character? If she had been a man, could she have carried out the revenge herself?
  4. When Electra thinks Orestes is dead, she vows to do the deed on her own. Do you think she would have made good on this vow?
  5. Compare Euripides’ Electra to Sophocles’ play Antigone What characteristics do these heroines share? Who is the more captivating character, Electra or Antigone?
  6. Do Electra‘s themes have any meaning in the world today? Does the text lend itself to any sort of modern reading? Or is this play completely anachronistic?

Homework: Read two scenes of the play. Identify one quotation from the reading and discuss how it relates to the central idea of the play.

Lesson 2

Feminist literary criticism theory (pages 116-143)

Objectives: Students will identify feminist traits in Electra and argue whether Euripides has portrayed her in a mode of traditional female character or modern one.

Aim: Is Electra a “feminist”? Why or why not?

Do Now: Make list of a feminist’s characteristics.

Mini Lesson:

What is Feminist literary criticism theory (pages 116-143)?

How do we use the theory to discuss female protagonists in literary works?

Discuss briefly the article of “Transgression in Electra”

Independent Practice:

Use the feminist theory to determine whether Electra has demonstrated traits of a feminist in a modern term.

Respond to :

2011. In a novel by William Styron, a father tells his son that life “is a search for justice.”

Choose a character from a novel or play who responds in some significant way to justice or injustice. Then write a well-developed essay in which you analyze the character’s understanding of justice, the degree to which the character’s search for justice is successful , and the significance of this search for the work as a whole.

Exit Slip: How does the play Electra address the theme of justice?

Homework: Write an essay in responding to the 2011 question.

Lesson 3

Objectives: Students will argue whose revenge is justified based on the play Electra.

Aim: Whose justice or justice is more righteous according to the play?

Do Now: Share micro essay on the essay question:

2011. In a novel by William Styron, a father tells his son that life “is a search for justice.” Choose a character from a novel or play who responds in some significant way to justice or injustice. Then write a well-developed essay in which you analyze the character’s understanding of justice, the degree to which the character’s search for justice is successful , and the significance of this search for the work as a whole.

Mini Lesson- Writing Workshop – questions to consider-

A typically 18th century locution like “finny tribe”- to treat it oversimply in bringing  out only these dimensions of its meaning- implies the outlines of a world view: the phrase minimizes the particularizing details; it emphasizes universal aspects in referring to fish; it thus highlights the aspects accessible to man’s reason; and, in the phrase’s proportioning of general and particular, it observes a standard of decorum.

  1. Which character(s) in Electra respond in a significant way to justice or injustice?
  2. What is the injustice done to her (him)?
  3. What’s the character’s understanding of justice?
  4. Is the character’s search for justice successful ( consider not only the act but also the emotional impact that follows)?
  5. How is the search for justice contributes the work as a whole( what theme does the search for justice illustrate)?
  6. Thesis statement in the introduction- your response directly to the question
  7. Topic sentence to begin each body paragraph
  8. Follow “sandwich” paragraph format- topic sentence, context, details ( quotation, an example), analysis of the example or detail, and so what( connection back to the thesis).
  9. Use various sentence structure.

Independent Practice: Use the guiding questions to revise your essay.

Homework: Revise your essay. Bring in for peer-review tomorrow. Essay due the next day.

Pride and Prejudice Online Study Guide

Lesson 1  ( chapters 1-12)

Objectives: Students will present their study of a specific character or theme or cultural background.

Aim: How does each element, whether it is a main character or minor one, or setting, contribute to the overall meaning of the novel by Jane Austen?

Mini Lesson

1.Review the social setting of he novel and character relationships. ( guide pages 5-6).

2. Jane Austen is a master at revealing character through dialogue. She prefers to show rather than tell what the characters are like. In your group, assign one or two chapters from this section to each person. Skim to find lines of dialogue that reveal something important about Darcy and Elizabeth. Then, take turns reading aloud, in chapter order, the statements or passages of dialogue that you selected. Discuss how the passage gave you insight into the character’s personality and relationships with others. If time allows, repeat this procedure for other characters, such as Bingley, Jane, Charlotte Lucas, and Caroline Bingley.

Independent Practice: Presentation

Exit Slip: Why, do you think, is Darcy attracted to Elizabeth? What appealing qualities does she have? ( use evidence from the text)

Lesson 2 Money, Class and Marriage

Objectives: Students will examine class, money and marriage as discussed in the novel, Pride and Prejudice. They will analyze each topic through the discussion of characterization or conflict or themes.

Aim: How are the subjects of class, money and marriage illustrated in the novel?

Do Now: Make a statement based your understanding of the novel on one of the subjects – money, class and marriage. We’ll  share our comments.

Mini Lesson

On Class, Money and Marriage

Please watch a Power Point presentation on the topics

Independent Practice

Do the assigned reading and take notes-

Group 1 : Read the article The Social Class and the Benett Family

Group 2:Read the Money section in the article Class, Money and Marriage

Group 3: Read the section about Marriage in the article Class, Money and Marriage

Group 4: Read the section about social class in the article Class, Money and Marriage

Exit Slip: How does the understanding of these topics help you gain new insights abut the novel?


1. Revised the Electra essay.

2. Bring a copy of your except from Pride and Prejudice that highlights your claim ( about the character, setting ,conflict or theme)

3. From the novel, based on your close reading of the assigned chapters, select 10 quotations that you feel represent Jane Austin’s prose style.

Lesson 3

Objectives: Students will examine Jane Austen’s prose style as presented in her novel Pride and Prejudice

Aim: How would you describe Jane Austen’s prose style?

Do Now: Point out one stylistic trait in Jane Austen’s prose. Give an example using one of the quotations you have selected.

Mini Lesson: Jane Austen’s Style

  1. Jane Austen’s irony
  2. linguistic contexts of Dialogue( culture)
  3. Generalizations and abstraction do not signify vagueness( character and motive)- dependent on conceptual terms- her limited use of figures of speech
  4. verbal gestures
  5. particular diction
  6. Subtlety

Independent Practice:

1. Share your selected quotations and explain why you have chosen them and what kind of style it represents

2. Apply your understanding of Austen’s style to reading the excerpt . How does the author use literary elements or techniques or rhetorical devices to convey a specific idea?

Exit Slip: Which is your favorite Austen style? Why?

Homework: Write a micro-essay to analyse your excerpt. How does Jane Austen use specific literary elements or techniques or rhetorical devices to convey a specific idea( characterization, setting or theme)? Identify at least two devices and make a claim in your topic sentence to state what effect ( specific idea) Austen manages to convey to her reader through the devices. Be sure to include specif examples of each device and analyze the meaning embedded in relation to your claim. Due Monday 3/3. Attach a annotated copy of the except.

 Lesson 4

Objectives: Students will analyze Jane Austen’s prose style presented in the excerpt from Pride and Prejudice. They will also see how her unique prose style help her develop her characters and themes.

Aim: How does Jane Austen use her prose style to  portray her characters and reveal social morality of her time?

Text: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Do Now:  Read the excerpt  below and describe the characteristics you have observed in her writing. What and how is Miss Bingly’s character revealed?

“When dinner was over, she( Elizabeth) returned directly to Jane, and Miss Bingley began abusing her as soon as she was out of the room. Her manners were pronounced to be very bad indeed, a mixture of pride and impertinence; she had no conversation, no style, no beauty. Mrs. Hurst thought the same, and added:

“She has nothing, in short, to recommend her, but being an excellent walker. I shall never forget her appearance this morning. She really looked almost wild.”
“She did, indeed, Louisa. I could hardly keep my countenance. Very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country, because her sister had a cold? Her hair, so untidy, so blowsy!” ( chapter 8)

Mini Lesson

Jane Austen’s Prose Style-

  1. Character and motive are presented through generalization and abstraction
  2. Her dependence on conceptual terms, her ways with a particularized diction, her limited use of figureative speech
  3. A typical 18th century locution like ‘ finny tribe’- to treat it oversimply in bringing out only these dimensions of its meaning– implies the outlines of world view: the phrase minimize the particularizing detail; it emphasizes universal aspects in referring to fish; it thus highlights the aspects general and particular,it observes a standard of decorum.
  4. ..” a thought shaped in language has entered the realm of action; a sentence is a deed.
  5. minimum of physical action
  6. the style records a series of intellectual, emotional, and moral states.- make up the real importance of an action.
  7. The human mind and heart are the major fields of activity  in these m novels. So verbs carry little weight.
  8. The passive voice, which insist on the static,is frequent, as is its equivalent, the impersonal construction.
  9. important use of nouns  to help describe an experience

Let’s examine an example on page 8.

Independent Practice:

Revise your essay based on the self-selected excerpt from Pride and Prejudice. How does Austen use her unique prose style ( as mentioned above) to portray her character or reveal a theme?

Exist Slip: What are the three characteristics of Austen’s prose style you have observed in the excerpt?  Are they effectively used by Austen to portray her character or reveal a theme?

Homework: Read and annotate  the article  “Money and Class” and be prepared to write an essay in class tomorrow on a similar theme as your final response to the novel Pride and Prejudice.

Lesson 5

Objectives: Students will use their annotations to help them write an essay about how Pride and Prejudice illuminates social or political issues.

Aim: How doe Jane Austen illuminate her views on certain prevalent social issues in her novel Pride and Prejudice?

Texts: Money and Class


  1. Collect the revised essay on Electra ( last day for handing in the essay
  2. Collect passage analysis from Pride and Prejudice . Attach the passage to your analysis.
  3. Briefly discuss the essay prompt
  4. Timed writing
  5. Homework

Do Now:

  1. Collect the revised essay on Electra ( last day for handing in the essay
  2. Collect passage analysis from Pride and Prejudice . Attach the passage to your analysis.

Mini lesson: Discuss the prompt –

Many works of literature deal with political or social issues. Choose a novel or play that focuses on a political or social issue. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the author uses literary elements to explore this issue and explain how the issue contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. Do not merely summarize the plot.

Notes: You are only allowed to use your annotations for the essay. No book or any other references are allowed. Write your essay on a loose leaf paper.

Independent Practice- Timed Writing ( hand in by the end of the period)

Homework: Read the short story The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Gilman and respond to the question: How does Gilman use the narrator to pronounce her feminist ideology? Be sure to use the notes from the article ” Feminism” to support your response.

Summative Assessment

Write an essay in which you analyze how the ending of the story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the husband’s fainting, adds another level of subversion  to this early feminist story.

Workshop Notes-To approach this essay assignment, you’ll need to do the following-

  1. Focus on the words and phrases that describe the yellow wallpaper, in turn, reveal the narrator’s view of or feeling toward the yellow wall paper. Find the pattern of these words and analyze the meaning suggested by the pattern
  2. Focus on the words and phrases that Gilman uses to describe the woman or women lurking behind the yellow wall paper. How do these words suggest about a social institution where women live a repressive life?
  3. Focus on the husband’s reaction to the narrator’s “crawling”. What does that suggest about a male-dominant society when women try to revolt?
  4. Subversion: The act of undermining patriarchal institutions. To subvert something is to take oppressive forces and turn them into something that challenges the oppressor. Institutions such as confined gender role can be subverted by acts such as extreme performance of one’s assigned gender or the adoption of criteria for a gender other than one’s “own”. To engage in subversion is to use the patriarch’s “rules” against it, making its intended meaning into something completely different. One does not need to use material means such as clothing to subvert gender, one can also subvert gender through the act of recontextualization.

Lesson 6 “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

Objectives: Students will examine the unusual use of chronology in the story and how it enhances the complexity of the meaning; they will also understand the tone represented by the story title and Emily’s motive to kill Homer Barron as well as the hidden identity of the narrator.

Aim: Why does Faulkner use the anachronistic approach to tell the tale of Emily? What’s the tone suggested in the title?

Do Now: Who is the narrator of the story? Use evidence to prove your point.

Mini Lessons

  1. Unusual use of chronology- the frame of Emily’s funeral and anachronistic narration of the events evolving Emily and Barron. Faulkner uses the disorderly chronology to manipulate and delays the reader’s final judgement of Emily by altering the evidence. What the chronology does is as important as when the events actually take place.
  2. Does the title suggest respect or irony? What the title reveals as much as the debate over what the rose means. The only rose Emily actually receives is the rose in the title, which Faulkner as an author gives it to her.  Consider the impact of the rose itself.
  3. The story is a literary construct and it is constructed under the title or in this case sub rosa: the Greek God of silence, Harpocrates. It suggests  to observe secrecy, strict confidence, absolute privacy. Roses are used by the Roman Catholic confessional as well as on the ceiling s of dining and drawing rooms where European diplomats gathers to observe secrecy. Faulkner  preserves Emily’s privacy by never allowing the reader or the narrator to become a voyeur.  For example, when Emily drives the Baptist minister away, we are told that ” He would never divulge what happened during the interview”. No one is allowed insider the bedroom until both former occupants are dead, and the full understanding of Emily’s state of mind remains only know to Emily and her author.
  4. The religious implication by the title: Most likely Emily is an Episcopalian not a Baptist. Unction fits into the church practice. In Emily’s case, the possibility for a full confession before death exists only with her author and his knowledge of her actions remains confidential until after her death.
  5. Structurally, the Grierson house itself adds both physical and figurative frame to the sub-rosa aspect of the story, ” It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of seventies.” The house is described as ” lifting its stubborn and coquettish decay above the cotton wagons ad the gasoline pumps” is certainly decorated with carved flowers, the rose being a favorite choice among the Victorian.
  6. The ” Rose’ represents secrecy: the confidential relationship between the author and his character, with all of the privileged information withheld.
  7. Just as  the story’s chronology is a masterpiece of subtle insinuations, so also is the title in its implication for the structure of the story.
  8. Why does Emily kill Barron?

Independent Practice:

  1. Put the events in a chronology sequence- what really happened?
  2. Why does Emily kill Barron? Collect evidence to support your answer.
  3. Are you surprised by the ending? Why or why not?

Quick Write: Is the ending incongruent with our impression of Emily? Why?


  1. Respond-How does Faulkner rely on reader’s experiences to construct the meaning of the story? How does he exploit his readers first before shaking them from the doxic (based on such intellectual processes as belief or opinion) mindset?
  2. Post  two questions based on the story in turnitin before 10:00 pm tonight .

Lesson 7 “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

Objectives: Students will analyze how Faulkner use complex and provocative language to  make sense of  his disordered chronology and shocking ending; they will also examine the tone as expressed in the title.

Aim: How does Faulkner use a catalogue of five adjectives pertaining to Emily , which is placed at the end of part IV, to unify the story? What tone is conveyed by Faulkner through the title ” A Rose for Emily”?


  1. “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner
  2. ” The Ghostly Voice of Gossip in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily'” by Thomas Klein
  3. ” Faulkner’s ‘ A Rose for Emily'” by Hal Blythe


  1. Themes in A Rose for Emily:  http://www.shmoop.com/a-rose-for-emily/themes.html
  2. A Critical Study of William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”: http://www.public.coe.edu/~theller/essays/rose.htm
  3. About William Faulkner: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1949/faulkner-bio.html

Do Now:

  1. Recall how the various events arranged in anachronistic manner in the story are connected to make sense for the reader. Write-pair-share
  2. Are you surprised by the ending? Explain briefly. ( Review yesterday’s lesson)
  3. Share Homework Assignment from yesterday- How does Faulkner rely on reader’s experiences to construct the meaning of the story? How does he exploit his readers first before shaking them from the doxic (based on such intellectual processes as belief or opinion) mindset?

If we have further questions, we’ll explore the answer together today in this lesson.

Mini Lesson

In today’s lesson, we will focus on one sentence quoted from the story and examine how it unifies the story:

” Thus she passed from generation to generation- dear,inescapable, impervious, tranquil, and perverse”.

Since ” A Rose for Emily” is essentially a series of flashbacks, the statement is offered by the narrator after the events in the story have transpired. With this in mind, one can see that the quotation serves both as an important unifying device for the story as well as a subtle ( typically Falknerian) elements of foreshadowing.

Does it make any sense to anyone?

I’ll exemplify. Each of the five adjectives in the catalogue corresponds to one of the five parts of the story in the order in which those parts are presented.

  1. The 1st adjective, “dear”, can mean sweet or cherished or even costly. And it is in part 1 of the story that we see Emily refusing to pay her municipal taxes, despite a direct confrontation with the Board of Aldermen.
  2. What’s the 2nd event? The 2nd adjectives ” inescapable” refers to the incident of ” the smell” in part II: as the body of Homer Barron decomposes, the town cannot escape the graphic testimony to Emily’s presence in the community. Question; Why is her presence a graphic testimony?
  3. We’ll work on the 3rd one together. The 3rd adjective is ” impervious” ( meaning unaffected and impenetrable), which matches the event in part III: Emily stonily refuses to concede to the law in regard to the purchase of poison as illustrated in “Miss Emily just stared at the [druggist], her head tilted back in order to look him eye for eye until he looked away and went and got arsenic…”.  On a more ironic note, her affair with Homer Barron confirms her imperviousness, ” She carried her head high enough–even when we believed that she was fallen. It was as if she demanded more than ever the recognition of her dignity as the last Grierson; as if it had wanted that touch of earthiness to reaffirm her imperviousness.” Question: How do the villagers feel about her getting involved with Barron? Why does it “reaffirm her imperviousness”?
  4. Do any of the events refer or related to ” rose”? Then what does the absence of rose , which is in the title, suggest the author’s tone at this point?

Independent Practice:

In small groups,  identify the events the 4th & 5th  adjectives ” tranquil”& ” perverse” correspond to. Do the following once you have identified the events ( See Mini Lesson #3)

  1. Interpret the meaning of ” tranquil”& ” perverse”
  2. Describe the event  and its connection to the adjective in a  2- 3 sentences respectively.
  3. Analyze why the event show the ” perverse” characteristic in Emily.
  4. Provide an example of textual evidence.

Share in class your finding and analysis.

Wrap -up: In conclusion, Faulkner”s placement of  adjectives at the end of part IV serves as an important unifying device in this emotionally complex and anachronistic narrative. At a key moment in a story which is organized ” by feeling rather than logic” , the adjectives afford the reader an opportunity to pause, consider again the mass of information conveyed in the 1st four parts of the story, to anticipate the startling conclusion, to trace the narrator’s emotional response to Emily- in short, to seek the order which underlines the narrative. The effect is apparent. As Faulkner once said himself, ” In a short story that ‘s next to a poem, almost every word has got to be almost exactly right…”

Exit Slip: Based on the quotation we have analysed today, how would you describe the tone reflected in the title ” A Rose for Emily”?

Homework: Summative Assessment

Explication: Write an essay on “Conflict in the Plot of Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily” considering the five adjective we have discussed in today’s lesson as well what the voice of the narrator, “we”, represents.

Lesson 8 “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner

Objectives: Students will examine the significance of the short story in a historical and social context; they will also analyze the universal representation of the female protagonist, Emily Grierson as well as themes .

Aim: What social and historical significance does the short story embody? What does Emily represent in this discourse? What are the themes illustrated?


  1. “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner
  2. ” The Ghostly Voice of Gossip in Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily'” by Thomas Klein
  3. ” Faulkner’s ‘ A Rose for Emily'” by Hal Blythe
  4. Banquet Speech at the Nobel Prize ceremony by William Faulkner


  1. Themes in “A Rose for Emily”:  http://www.shmoop.com/a-rose-for-emily/themes.html
  2. A Critical Study of William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”: http://www.public.coe.edu/~theller/essays/rose.htm
  3. About William Faulkner: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1949/faulkner-bio.html
  4. William Faulkner’s acceptance speech at the Nobel Prize banquet

Do Now:

Respond to a quotation made by Faulkner during the ceremony of Nobel Prize, “According to Faulkner, “…the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.” What does this quotation reveal about Faulkner as a writer? We’ll share our written responses briefly.

Mini Lesson                 

Let’s first become familiar with some facts of the social and historical contexts in which the story takes place-

A.The  setting of the story is Mississippi County, Yoknapatawpha ( near Jackson, Mississippi)Here is a timeline of the events that take place in the story ( from the end of the Civil War to the dawn of the World War II).

1861 – Miss Emily Grierson is born.
1870s – The Grierson house is built.
1893 – Miss Emily’s father dies.
1893 – Miss Emily falls ill.
1893 – Miss Emily’s taxes are remitted (in December).
1894 – Miss Emily meets Homer Barron (in the summer).
1895 – Homer is last seen entering Miss Emily’s house (Emily is “over thirty; we use thirty-three for our calculations).
1895 – The townspeople become concerned about the smell of the Grierson house and sprinkle lime around Emily’s place.
1895 – Miss Emily stays in for six months.
1895-1898 – Miss Emily emerges and her hair gradually turns gray.
1899 – Miss Emily stops opening her door, and doesn’t leave the house for about five years.
1904 – Miss Emily emerges to give china-painting lessons for about seven years.
1911 – Miss Emily stops giving painting lessons. Over ten years pass before she has any contact with the town.
1925 – They “newer generation” comes to ask about the taxes. This is thirty years after the business with the lime. This is the last contact she has with the town before her death.
1935 – Miss Emily dies at 74 years old. Tobe leaves the house. Two days later the funeral is held at the Grierson house. At the funeral, the townspeople break down the door to the bridal chamber/crypt, which no one has seen in 40 years.Cited from http://www.shmoop.com/a-rose-for-emily/setting.html


B.Here are some major historical and social facts during this period –

  1. The end of the Civil War ushered in one of the most conflicted periods in American history.
  2. It was the Great Depression and World War II in the early 1940s that ushered in changes that fundamentally reshaped the southern landscape, changes even greater than those brought about by the Civil War in the view of many historians of the region.
  3. The demise of the sharecropping system among whites and blacks marked a revolution in the state’s economic system with equally important implications for the state’s social system. New Deal farm programs, established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, did little to address the needs of the poorest of the poor.
  4. Very many freed African Americans migrated to the North to start a new life. A) Poverty, the lack of educational facilities for the children, rigid segregation and discrimination, and limited opportunities were all among the reasons that led some to look North. B)  The most important was the massive collapse of Southern agricultural employment. The principal factors contributing to this economic disaster were great declines in the prices of sugar, tobacco, and especially cotton, C) With the onset of the worldwide depression, cotton prices fell from 18 cents a pound in 1928 to less than 6 cents a pound in 1931, which forced many workers to leave the South. D) Besides a dire economic situation, Southerners, as they had done during the Great Migration, were also fleeing Jim Crow. E) With little hope of redress in the justice system, African Americans were at the mercy of abusive employers, landlords, and almost anyone bent on depriving them of their rights. Rigid segregation dominated  public spaces
  5. Then, the horrors of World War II revealed the terrible tragedy that racial hatred and injustice produced, and black and white Christians pointed out the contradictions between American rhetoric and reality.

 Now let’s become familiar with Faulkner’s intention as a writer-

In the following two passages, what universal themes of Faulkner’s writing are stated or implied?

  1. Universal Themes in Faulkner’s writing as expressed in the biographical description of him – ” In an attempt to create a saga of his own, Faulkner has invented a host of characters typical of the historical growth and subsequent decadence of the South. The human drama in Faulkner’s novels is then built on the model of the actual, historical drama extending over almost a century and a half. Each story and each novel contributes to the construction of a whole, which is the imaginary Yoknapatawpha County and its inhabitants. Their theme is the decay of the old South, as represented by the Sartoris and Compson families, and the emergence of ruthless and brash newcomers, the Snopeses. “

 Questions: What does “decadence of the old South” mean? (post-Civil War and  colonial Southern culture impinged by racism and class structure)

2. In Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech , he shared his belief   as a writer” … that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”

Question: How does this passage illustrate the author’s attitude for the “ fallen monument”, Emily Grierson as symbolized in the title “ A Rose for Emily” beside the fact that her character portrayal is almost that of grotesque nature.

Independent Practice:

Read the following passage about Faulkner’s enigmatic portrayal of Emily Grierson-

“Faulkner plays with the incalculable and the unimaginable as a rhetorical challenge to readers in this work and others. His odd characters confirm a “human condition in which the uncanny other, as a densely signifying representational figure, always bears the signatures of the narrative’s affective ambivalence and epistemological uncertainty” (Zeitlin 624). Emily may be Faulkner’s most uncanny and enigmatic figure, her mystery magnified by the story’s lack of details about her private world. We trace her struggles with personal grief, a restricted social life, socio-economic decline, and romantic misfortune, a long history of trauma and repression. Faulkner selectively conceals and reveals Emily with narrative mystifications that range from presumption to denial, thereby deconstructing received modes of interpretation through the sheer effect of negative capability. The tale’s impenetrable plot, unique figurations and double-voiced metanarrative “we” (122) subvert any definitive closure on Emily’s improbable life.”

Respond to the question: In the light of the historical and social contexts  in which the story of “A Rose for Emily” takes place, how does Faulkner show the “decadence of the South”( hints: The story  can be viewed as criticism of the post-Civil War Southern society through  blatant, almost stereotypical depictions of the harshest parts of colonial Southern culture, including racism and class structure)  through the depiction of  Emily Grierson’s decline and degradation? How does Faulkner also demonstrate his compassion and pity for the tragic and yet gruesome  female protagonist?

Group A: The story A Rose for Emily can be viewed as criticism of the post-Civil War Southern society. Reading this story, we find very blatant, almost stereotypical depictions of the harshest parts of colonial Southern culture, including racism and class structure. Faulkner is clearly commenting on the ways of his own culture which he finds unfair or unjust. Racism is an unforgettable part of southern history which Faulkner certainly explores in “A Rose for Emily”. Find examples in the story to illustrate the point.
Group B: Class-structure is another aspect Faulkner explores in “A Rose for Emily”. He places the main character as a member of a formally upper class family. It is heavily implied that Emily no longer holds the former wealth of her family, but she is nonetheless feared by the community as an upper class citizen. Find examples to illustrate the point.

Wrap Up: As we examine closely the story or any literary work, we can see within the implications of social and historical contexts , which can be illuminated through characters or themes. Emily in the story “A Rose for Emily” is such an illumination of the declining  and decadent Southern culture  during the post-Civil War era.

Exit Slip: ( you may post the response in Turnitin.com):  Based on our discussion today, write a sentence or two to describe a theme ( the overall meaning of the story) on the central ideas of conditions of human heart, isolation, memory and the past, visions of America, visions of reality , compassion and forgiveness.

Homework: Use the notes in the discussion forum (#8) to write your essay. Explication: Write an essay on “Conflict in the Plot of Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”.

Lesson 9   A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

Objectives: Students will examine how ethics of Henrik Ibsen’s central male character perpetuate the chain of events pivotal to the plot of A Doll’s House.

Aim: How does Ibsen use the ethics of  the central male character Torvald Helmer to perpetuate the plot?


  • A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
  • Nora’s Final Inheritance in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House by Naalie Hamm Devaull
  • The Female Jouissance – ( A Female Transgression) by Anne Marie Rekdal


Do Now: How would you describe Torvald’s relationship with his wife Nora and his childhood acquaintance Krogstad?

Mini Lesson

Thesis statements : What does each center upon? Can we prove it with textual evidence?

  1. Torvald’s demeaning view of and reference to Nora as a witless and feeble animal throughout enforces his view that it is right for a woman to be beautiful and dependent.
  2. Torvald worries that others will declare him unethical if he continues to retain Krogstad as an employee at the bank once he has taken his post as manager. That they knew each other as children causes Krogstad to take a familiar tone with Torvald, who fears that this familiarity in his new and high-ranking position at the bank will be a cause for ridicule by others in his employ. Anything or anyone that deviates from Torvald’s maintaining of the most respectable of appearances is quickly expelled.
  3. Torvald is ever one to set forth the propriety of a situation, especially when it comes to matters of money. He is vehemently against borrowing money, believing it to be a form of dependency on outside forces that detracts from the beauty of home life.

Independent Practice

1. Why does Torvald see only the impropriety of his wife’s legal and financial indiscretions?

2. Instead of considering the circumstances behind Krogstad’s illegal actions, Torvald looks upon Krogstad’s forgery as an act of treachery signifying a lack of moral character. Why?

Exist Slip:  How does Ibsen use the ethics of  the central male character Torvald Helmer to perpetuate the plot?

Homework: Write a micro-essay on how Ibsen uses the ethics of  the central male character Torvald Helmer to perpetuate the plot.

Lesson 10  A Doll’s House

Objectives: Students will analyze how Nora transgresses the law controlled by males.

Aim: How does Nora’s dance suggest the beginning of transgression?


  • A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen
  • Nora’s Final Inheritance in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House by Naalie Hamm Devaull
  • The Female Jouissance – ( A Female Transgression) by Anne Marie Rekdal

Do Now: How does Nora act in the beginning of the play up to the moment to her dancing scene?

Mini Lesson

Many view the tarantella represents Nora’s relinquishment of her ” death” to her doll-like existence and that it means an existential transformation in to a ” self-reliant, responsible free spirit… the dancing of the self out of darkness or oblivion into the light of civilized existence”.

Some also say that Nora’s dance is an expression of Nora’s psychological-existential transformation as a woman. Comment on the statement.

Independent Practice

1. Compare Nora’s action before the tarantella and after to confirm the changes within her.

2.  Find evidence that Nora has discovered in her intense experience that ” existence precedes essence ” that willed decision  and the action must anticipate the merely abstract idea of her personal significance and give it substance.

2. How do Nora’s divergent personalities in the 1st and 3rd acts represent a consistent  female character in different positions with regard to the patriarchal social systems and her husband, Helmer?

Exit Slip: Is Nora iconic of feminism? Why or why not?

Homework: Write a micro essay to analyze Nora as a transformed character who has transgressed the social norms of a woman.

Lesson 11 A Doll’s House

Objectives: Students will analyze the play through Ibsen’s use of masquerade as a metaphor for repression.

Aim: How does Ibsen use masquerade as a metaphor to describe Nora’s repressive psyche?

Do Now:  Jot down two scenes in the play that involves masquerade (hiding, seeking, false identify ,true identity).

Mini Lesson:

  1. Masquerade is the central motive in the drama. It is a structuring element in the plot; it is a central event in the action, a textual theme.
  3. THE Act of concealment- Christmas tree, game of hide-and-seek, Nora kept the fact hidden that she borrowed money to save her husband’s life but reveals the secret to Mrs. Linde
  4. Sky-lark and squirrel function as a repressive code that reinforces his paternal authority. Helmer calls Nora a child and she responds with the gestures of a child and the language of a child. She defends herself with a child’s denial of realities when Tovald suspects her of having bought confectioneries.
  5. Elf child. sky lark etc. are Helmer’s images of Nora’ as he want her to be. SHe refers herself as a third person subject, as an animal or pet or non-human subject. Such “mirroring” between two individuals corresponds to an imaginary identification within herself or the other ( usually a mother for a child). The ego is a projected image of illusion and alienation domination in the imaginary order. Helmer through pet names gives Nora new imaginary , alienated “ego”-identity such as sky lark. In a fatherly and didactic manner, he stays in control and explains things to Nora. Through the phantasm, the subject gains a feeling of wholeness and completeness, and through the imaginary phantasm, desire can be maintained and serve as a barrier against  the real, which is always a threat to the existence of the subject. Nora’s gaiety and her “objects of pleasure” work as imaginary stabilization of what in her existence is hidden and concealed but threatens to rise to the surface.
  6. The fragile imaginary stabilization collapse when Krogstad tries to make use of Nora’s forgery to keep his position in the bank.
  7. Nora’s transgression is shown through her excitement in confessing to Mrs. Linde what she has done- how she obtained the money for the trip they made in order to save Tovald’s health. She hums and plays the coquette and seems to take great pleasure in her memories of the forged signature. In her imagination, her transgression of the law is associated with the experience of pleasure. In her imagination, daring and prohibition are interwoven with the respectable motives of saving her husband and shielding her sick father. By forging signature, Nora reproduces the inadequate patriarchy but challenged simultaneously the  the law. When she signs her fatehr’s signature in order to get money, she breaks with the social limitations of women in her time and it can be interpreted as her taking on a masculine role. Her action can therefor be viewed as bot crime and indifference to the laws of the society and as rebellion.
  8. When Nora confesses to Mrs. Linde that ” I forged a signature”, she articulates her responsibility for the transgressions. Through the dialogue with Mrs. Linde, Nora gains her  insight into the masquerade which hides both her crime and pretense of her life with Helmer. Mrs. Linde helps Nora gain her awareness of the new self hidden within her.
  9. The tarantella, the masquerade of the subject- the dance is the climax of Nora’s display of beauty. In a state of mounting fear bordering on madness, Nora tried to postpone the crisis.The dance is to purge the deadly poison of the tarantula by dancing it out of the body. It is an expression of fear bordering to madness and a sensuous zest for life that also operates as a regenerative process. 9 see pages 168-169 of the Jouissance article)
  10. Female Jouisance escapes the masculine restraints and is a jouissance that can be given a place within the symbolic order and be articulated.( page 170-173)

Homework: Write an essay in which you analyze how Nora emerges from the  doll house as a “doll”  and transforms into a woman who fully denounces the traditional rules that govern women determined by men. Your analysis needs to include her beginning role ( her mask as a doll) and her relationship with Helmer , the turning point where she is struggling with her subject and self( she becomes aware of herself through the tanrantella dance), to Dr. Rank’s death when she is ready to embrace the truth( she asks Helmer to read the letter) to her speechless state while being scolded by Helmer to her taking over the language and reversing  the roles. Her final leaving the three children seals her total denouncement of the patriarchal society and traditional women’s role and makes her transgression of the law complete.


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