Monday, September 15, 2014


Natalie Question 1:

Pathos is an essential element in melodrama. Williams notes that “if the narrative trajectory is ultimately concerned with a retrieval and staging of virtue through adversity and suffering, then the operative mode is melodrama. “(15) Pathos on one hand, according to Williams, can arouse great sympathy for the suffering, which is a “key feature of all melodrama.” (16) On the other hand, Williams notes that pathos, together with action, “are the two most important means to the achievement of moral legibility.” She describes the victim-heroes in the sad-ending melodramas to “achieve recognition of their virtue through the more passive ‘deeds’ of suffering and/or self-sacrifice” (25) and that “the pathos of suffering not only ensures virtue, but also seems to entitle action.” (32)

Yin Question 2: 

Titanic involves in two of the five features of melodrama mentioned by Williams. First of all, its “recognition of virtue involves a dialectic of pathos and action.” (30) According to Williams, there is a “manifestly class-based victimization” (35) caused by the failure of almost all lifeboats, and the majority of victims are not rescued because it is too late. Rose, however, is rescued by Jack and persuaded to live her life “as an independent woman freed from the classed and gendered prison that had made the supposed ‘ship of dreams’ a ‘slave ship’.” (36) There is a massive pathos, but there is also action that saved the victimized Rose from not only the icy water but also her marriage without love. In this way, not only the virtue of Jack’s self-sacrifice is recognized, but Rose’s determination to live and her great courage is also illustrated. Second, Titanic deploys realism substantially in that it both recreates “the experience of a famous historical shipwreck” (40) and portrays the different treatment of people from different classes – the poor do not get rescued. It also reflects the crucial reality’s class difference which impedes the love between Jack and Rose. In terms of the “feminine” aspect of Titanic, I think that Rose as a woman is unvalued even if she is an aristocrat not only because her family is declining but also because it is taken for granted in the society that women shouldn’t be valued. Thus she could easily be victimized. I don’t think that melodrama is a sentimental genre for women because I believe that women are a great symbol to represent the society’s injustice and cruelty.

Yin Question 3:

This is a form of theatrical makeup called the “blackface”. It is an important performance tradition that gained popularity during the 19th century.  White performers in the past used burnt cork and later greasepaint or shoe polish to blacken their skin. They also dressed in wooly wigs or ragged clothes to complete the transformation. I think this performing method is more of less offensive because it magnifies the stereotypes for black people, starting from their appearance, and that the black people’s actions are displayed probably not entirely authentic through the eyes of white people.  However, the blackface technique is crucial to the understanding of the class and race that are opposite to one’s own.

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