Happy Endings by Margaret Atwood
is one of those short stories that I have just fallen in love with. The
style Atwood chose to write "Happy Endings" in is one of the most
diverse formatting styles I've come across. This story is everything I
want in a short story because it really enhances on the fact that there
are no happy endings because everyone dies. The use feminism and roles
of women in society in part B were expounded upon and for some reason I
felt this sad weight over the roles that Mary has happily placed herself
in at the hopes of pleasing John. I'm really glad my teacher gave me
this story to read because I probably wouldn't have found it until much
later in life. This is one of those brief pieces in literature that
speak loads more than mammoth sized books.
deluded by any other endings, they're all fake, either deliberately
fake, with malicious intent to deceive, or just motivated by excessive
optimism if not by downright sentimentality.
The only authentic ending is the one provided here:
John and Mary die. John and Mary die. John and Mary die."
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Crucible is a play I had never heard of before reading. I knew nothing
about it, but I’m quite glad that this is required reading. It’s an
exceptionally fantastic play. The brilliant thing about this play is
that Arthur Miller took a tragic time in American history, the Salem
Witch Trials, and a tragic time in his life and the world, the Cold War,
being Blacklisted, and the Red Scare, infusing them together to
basically flick off every government official and higher power who
blacklisted him. The similarities between the Witch Trials and the Red
Scare are very creepy. People were frantically paranoid with fear and
needed people to point fingers at and both of these historical times
resulted in many people experiencing exile in their own communities.
Crucible is a very frantic play. It’s fast paced, full of pointing
fingers, deranged girls, and Abigail. Seriously, this play should be
called “How to Get Away with Being a Witch (or Bitch- It’s a Blurred
Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.75
characters in this play, particularly John Proctor, are all so
infuriating. Abigail is easy to hate, but Proctor is just hard to like
and hard to hate. He’s a man who couldn’t keep it in his pants and is
now having to face the consequences because he scorned a woman.
Regardless of whether or not I hated the characters, I was still
invested in them and whether they would be hanged or not.
Character Scale: 4.5
Abigail is the ring leader of the finger pointers with a thing for
daddies. Abigail is truly the most infuriating woman in this play. She
is the one to induce the fear and frenzy into the easily coerced girls
which lead to hangings of many innocent people. While she is infuriating
she is also a genius because she was obviously apart of witchcraft, or
attempts or witchcraft, and she fled away scotch free.
Villain Scale: 4.75
the end, everyone dies. (This isn’t really a spoiler because everyone
was dropping left and right in Salem.) It’s a great play because it
really evokes the hectic times of two completely different moments in
American history. Also, witches- who doesn’t love a good witch?
Plotastic Scale: 5
Cover Thoughts: Penguin Classics usually have great covers and this isn’t a disappointment. It’s a creepy painting.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Scarlet Letter has become a staple into today’s culture. The infamous
symbol of the embroidered “A” pops up in famous TV skits and even had a
modernization in "Easy A". While "Easy A" takes on a more empowered
outlook on dealing with being labeled a slut or adulterer Hawthorne
chooses to take a stance in a much more subtle way. Because this novel
is a classic it’s easy to dismiss Hawthorne as a man degrading a woman
and putting her through public humiliation, etc. In reality, Hawthorne
takes the struggles of Hester Prynne and encapsulates what it really
means to be a woman ahead of her time.
The Scarlet Letter has a lot of great points and interesting symbols,
it is a boring book. There are small doses of fire and interest
sporadically, but the overall tone of the story doesn’t stick. In fact,
the novel has a tendency to fall flat. I can count on one hand the
amount of interesting things in this novel: who is the father (even
though it’s obvious), baby Pearl (she’s a little hellion with spunk),
and when Hester tells people off. Besides that this novel can feel very
drawn out and endlessly boring.
The descriptions are way
too lengthy and feel overwhelming. I get it, Hawthorne; the whole damn
room symbolizes twenty different things- CALM DOWN. Analyzing this novel
is a pain in the ass because it’s so overtly symbolized to the point
that even the characters’ names are symbols. I love symbolism, but this
novel took the fun out of it. While it’s easy to bag on symbolism,
Hawthorne’s use of snakes, temptation, and the devil are really
interesting and are brilliantly done.
Whimsical Writing Scale: 1.75
of the impressive things about this novel is that there is a lot of
character development. I know Hester, Chillingsworth, and Dimmsedale. I
know who they are, their hopes, their afflictions, and their pasts and
it’s very well-rounded, but it still somehow managed to be boring.
is my favorite character because she has so much life. She’s a child
born out of a “wicked sin”, but she embraces the world around her with
open arms and an eagerness that was abhorred at that time. Dimmesdale is
your typical hypocrite. Like all novels there is usually an overly
zealous believer, but Dimmesdale can’t use God to hide from his sins and
has no way of escaping his own internal hell. Plus this man is sick
SPOILER he branded and tortured himself continuously SPOILER which is a
symbol for living in a personal hell and being both your own jury and
executioner (God and Devil), but dang it’s just a little bit too
unsettling. Hester is definitely a true role model in this time. She’s
strong and willful and there eventually becomes a time when people
forget that the A is for adulterer and it becomes a symbol for able or
angel, which is great because Hester was everyone’s kicking bag.
Character Scale: 3
Chillingworth is best described as a leech. He latches himself onto
those around him and sucks them dry and once they are dead he has
nothing left to feed off of and slowly withers away.
Villain Scale: 2.75
best way to describe The Scarlet Letter is Puritan drama. If you don’t
know what this novel is about is about then just know that if Puritans
had the Jerry Springer this novel would be a perfect contender for a
future episode. I do love the ending for this novel. It’s sorrowful and
incredibly depressing, but it also felt very final in terms of what you
would imagine to happen in this time. This novel has its flaws, but it
is a novel that is easy to see why there is merit. Plus my AP shirt from
junior year rocks because it’s an ode to this novel.
Plotastic Scale: 2.25
Thoughts: I had to read a really ugly edition, but I do hope to own my
own edition of The Scarlet Letter some day and hopefully it’ll be really
Have you read any of these classics? What are your thoughts on Margaret Atwood if you've read her? Any recommendations (I'm currently reading The Handmaid's Tale and I want more)? Did you enjoy The Crucible or The Scarlet Letter? Let me know down below in the comments!