Sunday, January 31, 2010

a broken heart withered of love………………

One of the novels used in the lower secondary for Literature in English is “The Phantom of the Opera” by Gaston Leroux. However, the students use the abridged version by Jennifer Bassett which is more simplified. I love to discuss with my Form 2 tuition students (from the lower secondary schools around my area) regarding their perception about Erik as the evil character and share my own reflections regarding him with them.
Erik or the opera ghost is considered as the evil character in the novel as he did evil things like dropping the chandelier on the opera audience and killing Joseph Buquet. He even kidnapped Christine an opera singer and forces her to marry him as he is deeply in love with her. On the other hand Christine is in love with Roaul. Raoul tried to search for her as he is also deeply in love with her too. Erik trapped Raoul and tortured him in the room of mirrors in order to make him face death. However Christine felt pity on Raoul when Erik showed her what Raoul was going through.She eventually told Erik to let go Raoul and she agreed to marry Erik. When Christine kissed Erik, he was so touched as even his own mother never kissed him. Then he began to realize that love cannot be forced, so he let go Christine to be with Raoul her lover and this incident made him face his failure to love and being loved…………………….

I sympathize Erik and I feel that he reacted that way out of a heart withered of love. He was never loved by anyone all because of his ugly disfigure appearance until he had to wear a mask. If he is given a chance to be loved and be appreciated in love, and if he is accepted despite his ugly figure, I believe he would turn out to be a very loving man who can not only express his love but also demonstrate it as well. Apart from that, if he can control his emotions and build a strong self esteem, he can go through life with a positive character. Erik is a very intelligent person and he is one of the architects of the Opera House in Paris. He also built his house on the lake which is situated under the opera house, he is talented as he can play with ropes and amazingly he is good at music. He even once became Christine’s angle of music and taught her how to sing beautifully! So, I feel that although his IQ is high, he still has a very low EQ. He doesn’t know how control his emotions which eventually caused him to face death out of a broken heart withered of love………………

love for the sake of love~King Lear

A writer’s use of language in a text by the application of imagery, metaphor, simile, and other kind of figurative language can portray the characters’ trait besides using the other figurative language such as paradox, personification and hyperbole. The writer uses application in his description of narrational voice, presentation of the character’s action, speech and thoughts to reveal the characterization of the characters. Besides that, often remarks and comments by other characters and how other characters act, react, think about him will also throw light on his personality and character traits.
I’m truly impressed by the use of language which is beautifully displayed in “King Lear” by William Shakespeare in defining characterization in the play. The characterization of King Lear and his three daughters, , Goneril, Regan and Cordelia are portrayed starting from the event of the love test King Lear started in order to test his daughters’ sincerity of love for him. King Lear who was eccentric nature was also being impulsive from his words “fast intent”. 

Apart from that, he is revealing his insincerity when he wants the love test to be made known to the public, as a means of dowry, from his word “publish”..When Goneril answered her father’s question she revealed her proud and arrogant traits with her exaggerated statement of her rather insincere confession. . Goneril’s words were loaded with rich flattery phrases; as though she praised her father for the sake of personal gain. Her word “wield” shows her proud and boastful desire to hold in her hand in a selfish way. When it was Regan’s turn to confess her love for her father, she too was being arrogant. The word “mettle” shows her quality of endurance and courage which is added to the word “felicitate” which she boastfully praise her own self. Her egocentric behavior is reflected clearly as she egotistically utterd her love and she claimed that her love is greater than Goneril’s love. On the other hand, Cordelia’s dialogue portrays her meek characteristics as she is humble and obedient. In addition, her self-effacing and modest attitude made her redeem her womankind behavior in the most delicate way . She did not take the attempt to impress her father, and she is not indiscreet as her sisters who are too open in what they say.

Shakespeare uses a metaphor “ my love’s More richer than my tongue” to indicate that Cordelia is a rather reserved person whose love for her father is so true and deep but she is unable to express her true love in actual words. It might be because she knows that her father wants to test her and her sisters in exchange of the love with wealth. From her dialogue it reflects her sincerity of her love as for her true love is not strong enough to be proven with words as true love is also shown in deeds and actions. King Lear is unaware of Cordelia’s true love More richer than my tongue”. Cordelia reflects her honesty in a refreshing and dignified way which is sharp contrast to her sister’s rehearsed and empty speeches. The way Cordelia’s refusal and reserved manner in the love test her father tested on her and her sisters reflected her true nature of a pure and honest daughter who loves her father, King Lear not out of wealth but truly out of her deep sincerity of love for the sake of love. Her utterance reflects her unpretentious character as she portrays herself as not being too obsequious like her sisters as shown in the below textual evidence: “Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave, My heart into my mouth: I love your majesty, According to my bond; nor more nor less.” Goneril and Regan’s love is based on wealth where else Cordelia’s love is genuine love which is based on love for the sake of love. .
Cordelia's reply, "Nothing," is a word that will reappear throughout the play as a key word that is repeated a few times in the play, to stress and emphasize the word's importance meaning of nothing The word “nothing” is as a reminder to King Lear that he really does understand "nothing" about his daughters, and when King Lear emerges from the "nothingness" of his mental decline, finally he realizes that Cordelia has always loved him. The most touching part is the simple word “Nothing”the word Cordelia's utter which is echoed at the end of the play when "nothing" remains of her when she face death in a dramatic tragedy.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

His light may radiate within your being

“If you are destined for good fortune you will be blessed; if afflictions have been ordained, no matter where you hide they will seek you out. Submit therefore before the will of Allah; be grateful in well-being and endure adversity with fortitude, that His light may radiate within your being.”

-Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jilani (R.A)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Inner beauty goes beyond physical beauty………….

“My mother is the most beautiful woman in the world” is a Russian Folk Tale by Reyher, Rebecca Hourwich, which has a very touching message behind the simple tale. The setting of the tale is at the wheat field, where the villagers were harvesting the wheat. At that time, Varya, a little girl who was lost went searching for her beloved mother.The villagers around her felt pity of her and kept asking her how does her mother look like. She gave an innocent description of her mother by saying: “ My mother is the most beautiful woman in the world.” They searched for her mother, and brought forth many beautiful woman for her to identify, however each time they brought one, she will deny. 

The most touching part of the tale was when a woman who did not portray any external beauty emerged before her, surprising.... that’s her mother! The mother hugged and kissed her child, revealing the affection bond between a mother and daughter. I felt that the little girl’s confession reflected her spontaneous and sincerity of her heart and has an implied message of moral value behind this incident that is internal beauty can only be felt by the heart and goes beyond physical beauty. Although this is a classical folk tale, the lesson that we can learn connects until today, so I feel that this is kind of folk tale can be adapted in teaching literature using role-play and simulation which can create a student-centered class. When students are given the chance and room to dramatize the roles by being in the shoes of the characters, they would understand and appreciate the literature lesson and learn from the moral of the story. This is a way to create interest and arouse the passion in reading, learning and understanding the traditional literature texts which are rich in moral values and meaningful messages.

Kahlil Gibran, a Lebanese born American philosophical essayist, novelist and poet once said:
Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart

Benjamin Franklin, in Poor Richard's Almanack, 1741, wrote: Beauty, like supreme dominion, Is but supported by opinion

David Hume's Essays, Moral and Political, 1742, include:"Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

a dream of freedom ….a reality at last……

I was truly amazed when I read the famous speech “I Have a Dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He presented his inspiring speech on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. His speech moved the hearts of those who listened attentively as he used rhetorical method which is the art of persuasion in speaking and writing. Besides that, he also used metaphors, repetition and inspirational thoughts in his speech. The theme of the speech is expressed throughout the speech through identification and racial equality & uniting, historical background, repetition and regarding certain situation that should be corrected. The power of his speech educated, inspired, motivated the black Americans specifically and the whites generally as he managed to stir the will and determination to uphold humanity and release the sense of freedom by breaking the racial sentiment that disunites and cause discrimination.

 The metaphors which he used in his speech made his speech more interesting and entertaining. Examples of metaphors he used are: “beacon light of hope “, “flames of withering injustice”, “long night of their captivity”,crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination”,island of poverty” ,vast ocean of material prosperity”,to cash a check”, “architects of our republic”, “defaulted on this promissory note”, “cash this check”, “a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice”, “tranquilizing drug of gradualism”, “dark and desolate valley of segregation”, “quick sands of racial injustice” , “oasis of freedom and justice”, “hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope” and “jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood”. The repeating words of “I have a dream that one day……..” is a determination, an aspiration of a strong will and heart to visualize the hope on a certain, specific day, where agony, discrimination and injustice will be replaced with the hope for the future that is free at last. I also feel that the classical appeals through proposing, demanding, persuading truly created the sensation that visualized the theme of “I have a Dream in the final part of the speech through his repeated words “free at last” : "Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, we are free at last."

Below is the link of the speech “I Have a Dream” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The internal and external conflicts .....

I found “Shooting An Elephant” an essay by George Orwell, as a very interesting essay which reflected his personal thoughts and experience, combined with his political views. Orwell 's metaphoric descriptive words enliven the story, and arouse the readers to read on. The themes of conscience, culture clash, prejudice and tolerance blends well in Orwell’s narration. Even though he is European, he is against imperialism because it’s unfair and oppressive. The internal and external conflict faced by him is revealed throughout the narration of the story. Being a sub-divisional police officer in a town in Burma was a real challenge to him as Europeans are unwelcomed in the country. One day, he was ordered to do something about an elephant which was ravaging the bazaar and caused havoc in the neighboring villages. Orwell was facing internal conflict when the crowd who followed him wanted him to shoot the elephant as he did not have the intention to shoot it. Orwell uses metaphors to make the essay interesting, for example, when he compares himself to being a magician about to perform a trick, or as being a lead actor in a piece, and even an absurd puppet, a posing dummy, and to be wearing a mask! The elephant itself symbolizes the Imperialism, which is going through the critical moments of survival as they were hated by the local people. As the crowd grew larger in number, (which is actually the external conflict that surrounded Orwell) he began to feel the pressure and inner torment as he is being forced to shoot the elephant, Orwell uses repeated words such as “tortured,” “dreadful,” and “agony” as his style of language to convey his internal conflict. In fact the elephant itself is described by Orwell “immensely old,” “grandmotherly,” and “senile,” which are figurative language used by him to reflect his internal guilt over harming and killing the elephant which “seems” to be innocent. Orwell in the end killed the elephant to avoid public humiliation, as he mentioned in his last words “ I had done it solely to avoid looking like a fool”

The essay can be read at the following link:

Developing a high level of positive self esteem

Assalamualaikum beloved brothers and sisters, Developing a high level of positive self esteem can make us be an optimistic person who can handle daily life situations, conflicts, resisting negative pressures, dealing with trials and tribulations and eventually develop good interpersonal and intrapersonal skills as a true muslim in our daily life for the sake of Allah. Positive self esteem is believing in oneself, having self respect, allowing the love to grow in us, developing the ability to accept ourselves in a positive way and the ability to avoid depression and living a tranquil life in Allah’s Love and Light. Besides that, high level of positive self esteem is self-confidence which involves beliefs about ability and future performance. Our inner self will be self esteemed where we are able to balance love, honesty and truth to build self-confidence and be competent to cope with life’s challenges and live a worthy life for the sake of Allah.

Developing a high level of Emotional Intelligence(EQ)


Developing a high level of emotional intelligence is an important matter as it involves the ability to control our emotional and cognitive thoughts in a motivated, optimistic and meaningful way. The ability to recognize our own behavior and the behavior of others and the emotional strength to manage life’s situation will lead us to a successful life, inshaAllah.

A true muslim believer with a high level of emotional intelligence is a person who can touch and win the hearts of others, as he is more trusted, resilient, intrinsically motivated, optimistic, his heart filled with love and empathy, which can melt stress and conflicts in life. Thus, by possessing a high level of emotional intelligence competence can help us develop good intrapersonal and interpersonal skills and the ability to manage daily life situation successfully on our pathway to be true muslims, inshaAllah………

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Fruits of Fear:

Imam Ghazali (May Allah have mercy on him) said:
‘Fear rips away desires and muddens luxuries so that cherished sins become reprehensible, just as a honey lover is repelled by it when he learns that it has poison in it. This is how fear burns desires; disciplines the organs; subordinates the heart and gives it tranquility. It also enables the heart to rid itself of pride, hatred, and envy; and it leaves it absorbed in it (fear). Hence, the heart becomes preoccupied with its own worries and looks towards its best interest in the long run. It is then engaged in only matters like meditation, self-analysis and struggle. It cherishes its time and moments.’
[Ihya: 4/160]

A home filled with barakah

A home filled with barakah is a home filled with love, happiness and serenity, embroidered with responsibility and empathy, furnished with honesty, loyalty and trustworthiness.......creating a blissful atmosphere overflowing to the community around..........

May Allah grant us the ability to make our love strong, true and great
as where there is strong love, there is always endurance
where there is true love there are always blessings
where there is great love there are always miracles………………
making our homes filled with barakah, inshaAllah……..

Allah (SWT) says, “And Allah has made for you in your homes an abode.” (Surah Al Nahl: 80)

The Importance of Kinship in Islam
Maintaining Silat ur-Rahm (Family Ties) is an Islamic Obligation By Khalid Baig

Shar'ee Prescriptions for Barakah in Rizq (sustenance) Ml. Ashraf Ali Thanwi [ra]

with love and du'as always,

Friday, January 22, 2010

a candle that lights along

I felt that reading the autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., a black American, is truly inspiring and motivating as he is a key personality in the civil rights movement in America, who fought for freedom and equality for all people. His strive to bring the message of peace and love , being like a candle that lights along, bringing new hope and joy in the lives of those in need. . He led campaign after campaign in the streets of America to uphold the sense of humanity and legal protection among the poor and also the black Americans. At the age of 39, he was shot in the neck by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee, on 4th April 1968 when he was leading a protest against low wages and the terrible working conditions faced by sanitation workers. Although his struggles lasted for only a few years until his death, the inspiration of bringing peace and love continues to live on…….

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

"I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their tired bodies, education and culture for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and non-violent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land 'and the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid.' I still believe that we shall overcome."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

determined dreams.........

Dreams by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

This is another poem written by Langston Hughes, which conveys the message of the need to have the determination to accomplish whatever we aim or strive for in life . In the first stanza, “Hold fast to dreams” implies that a person needs to continue to believe in his ability and aim for what he visualizes for his future success. Then Langston Hughes personifies life, by stating that life is a broken-winged bird if one let the dreams die. It means a person will meet failure if he let go his dreams before accomplishing his desired aims in life. He will also lose his strength to move on physically, emotionally or spiritually to make his dream become a reality. In the second stanza, “Hold fast to dreams” is repeated again to emphasis on the importance of being a person who has mission and vision in life. Langston Hughes personifies life once again by stating “ Life is a barren field, frozen with snow" if dreams go. It shows that there is no harvest to reap as when he let go his dream, life will become unproductive, making it fruitless and meaningless.

pessimist or optimist?

James Mercer Langston Hughes, an African American was a poet, short story writer, novelist, playwright and columnist. His writings are categorized as marginalized literature in the marginalized ethnic group and he voice out issues and concerns from his life experience. I feel that his poem “Cross” is showing his vision of future generations, who practice multi-ethnic marriage, which has actually become a reality these days. The same situation occurs in Malaysia where we have multi ethnic marriage, so this poem can also be suitable to be taught in Malaysian secondary school where students have background knowledge on this matter. Multi ethnic marriage occurs in their family circle or in the society around them. The poem reflects the persona’s frustration from racialism and arouses us to contemplate what will happen in the future if discrimination prevails. The persona is as though wanting the readers to ponder on the consequences of practicing racialism in the society which will not only cause internal conflict in a person but also external conflict and to decide whether to be pessimist or optimist when facing the reality in life before turning into dust.

Cross by Langston Hughes

My old man's a white old man
And my old mother's black.
If ever I cursed my white old man
I take my curses back.
If ever I cursed my black old mother
And wished she were in hell,
I'm sorry for that evil wish
And now I wish her well
My old man died in a fine big house.
My ma died in a shack.
I wonder where I'm going to die,
Being neither white nor black?

love : pleasure or pressure?

Erica Mann Jong’s writing on literary text is categorized as marginalized literature for feminist writings .The rose in the poem written by her symbolizes love, pleasure, beauty. The persona received the love from a man but she was waiting to let the love bloom in her heart. By the time the love flows into her heart, she realizes the man’s love for her is beginning to fade. So, the persona tried to preserve the love she received from him but it perished as time moves on. She suffered the lost for years with pressure. She hopes for pleasure from the love she once received, so she took the effort to make it alive, but love was not lasting for her, turning from pleasure into pressure. In the last 2 stanzas I feel that the persona has reached to a reflecting and contemplating stage,in order to console herself, after going through bitterness of a love that has perished.

The Rose by Erica Mann Jong

You gave me a rose
last time we met.

I told myself
if it bloomed
our love would bloom,
& if it died--

O I did not


the possibility.

It died.

Though I cut
the stem
on a slant
as my mother
taught me,
though I dropped
an aspirin
in the water,

it hung its head
like a spent cock
& died.

It stands
on my desk now--
straight green stalk,
blood-red clot
of bud
like a hanged man's

Does this mean
we are doomed?
Does this mean
all lovers
are doomed?

O my love--
I have not read roses
as amulets
in seven years. . . .

Which doom
is worse?
To love
& lose?

Or to lose
& not care
whether roses

live or die?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

unrequited love?


I came to you at sunrise

With silvery dew on sleeping lotus

Sparkling in my gay hands;

You put my flowers in the sun.

I danced to you at midday

With bright raintree blooms

Flaming in my ardent arms;

You dropped my blossoms in the pond.

I crept to you at sunset

With pale lilac orchids

Trembling on my uncertain lips;

You shredded my petals in the sand.

I strode to you at midnight

With gravel hard and cold

Clenched in my bitter fists;

You offered me your hybrid orchids

And I crushed them in my despair.

Hilary Tham who wrote the poem “Offfering” was born in Arlington, Virginia, grew up in Malaysia but died in Arlington. “Offerings” is one of her poems with the theme of relationship which can be considered as a good and suitable literary text for Malaysian secondary school students. Her poems are profound and realistic as they reflect the reality of life, touching the human factors that create deep insight.

In the poem I assume that “I” is a man while “you” is a woman. The flow of words from the first stanza until the last stanza creates an atmosphere of tense, desperation and passion of a man who is trying to win the heart of a woman whom he loves dearly. The different settings and flowers used in each stanzas reflects the persona’s determination despite the cold response from the woman whom he is in love with. His gestures in each stanza demonstrate his intense passion towards the woman.

I feel that the last stanza is truly arousing sympathy as it reflects an unrequited love. The midnight, gravel hard and cold creates the images of frustration as he clenched his fists in misery. In the following line, the woman offered him hybrid orchids which reflect the differences between the man and woman which might be the statues or level of knowledge. The most heart-breaking moments are when the man crushed the hybrid orchids as though he is crushing his dreams when he realized his love was an unrequited love.