Discussion 1 – Tragedy

Whether you have read Shakespeare’s Macbeth before or not, you are in for a treat! Our study in this course has been about conflict in literature. There is probably no works in the history of literature to have as much conflict as the play, Macbeth.   Ambition, murder, betrayal, hubris, revenge, insanity, the role of women, all at the highest levels of government, these are just a few of the thematic conflicts apparent in this play that are still relevant today.  

Be sure as you write your response to Discussion 1 that you “provided specific textual examples” just as the instructions tell you to do.  Also, choose ONE of the questions posed to you. 

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list of conflicts

Individual versus Nature Return

 Example: One of the first episodes of The Simpsons features a hilarious scenario in which Homer takes the family camping in the woods. Things end disastrously for Homer and Bart, while Marge, Lisa, and Maggie successfully brave the wild. This episode has an interesting underlying argument at work about the relationship between humans today and nature.

 Example: Several books and movies show mountain climbers daring to scale the most formidable and highest mountains on earth where they face extremely difficult climates and terrain. These accounts are usually full of adventure, action, and hardship. Here is an example of human versus mountain in the video Touching the Void Atheism. You may also explore the article “Mt. Everest: Why do people keep climbing it?”

 Example: Many horror films feature scary and dangerous animals. One of the most popular movies of all time is Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Watch Crows Attack the Students – The Birds (6/11) Movie CLIP (1963) HD.

 Example: One of the most famous American novels, Moby Dick, features Captain Ahab determined to kill the large white whale that took his leg.

Individual versus Society (V for Vendetta, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1984) Return

 Example: In The Simpsons, Homer has had infamously hilarious interactions with politicians. Mayor Quimby comes across as less than effective in his work. As a figure who represents the political system in The Simpsons universe, Quimby’s portrayal makes an argument about the conflict between the individual and society. Additionally, the economics of the working-class Simpson family is often framed against the wealth of Mr. Burns, McBain, and other affluent figures.

 Example: A recent movie, Belle, is about a black woman brought up free in an aristocratic home during the years of slavery in England. The story features Belle, the protagonist, and a young lawyer engaged in challenging and ending the slave trade. Belle’s struggle also involves challenging social conceptions of race. Watch the Belle Trailer to explore further.

ENG125: Introduction to Literature

Individual versus Technology (2001: A Space Odyssey, Modern Times, The Fly) Return

 Example: In The Simpsons, Homer is the safety technician at a nuclear power plant, but he is perpetually doing extremely dangerous things. The technology itself is portrayed as immensely complicated. Even in an animated sitcom like The Simpsons, the message about technology and the human being in our current era is multi-layered and complicated.

 Example: The best man versus technology movie ever (according to many) is The Terminator, which tells the story of a lethal robot sent back in time to murder the mother of the human army’s leader. View the trailer Terminator 1 Trailer 1984 or explore the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).

 Example: The novel Frankenstein can fit in this category since the monster is man-made and seeks to destroy its creator.

Individual versus Self (John Nash in A Beautiful Mind, Gregory House in House, Homer Simpson in The Simpsons, Hamlet in Hamlet) Return

 Example: In The Simpsons, Homer Simpson is perpetually at battle with himself—his eating habits, his drinking habits, his tendency toward laziness—you name it. He always acts against his own best interests.

 Example: In the movie American History X, Edward Norton plays a man who must confront his prejudices, which he does when he is sent to prison for murdering another man. The trailer, American History X – Trailer – (1998) – HQ, shows the character’s personal transformation. You may also explore this further on the Internet Movie Database (IMDB).

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