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January 30, 2012

Applying Literary Theory - Undergrads Give it a Try

Image Source: http://www.trinity.edu/mkearl/theorist.jpg

Students of Spring 2007,

Monday, I will distribute the sign-up sheet for formal reading-response #1. If you are one of the “A” students, or otherwise ambitious, then please read ahead in the Coursepack pages 57-59 to see what this assignment will look like. You might want to go ahead and begin choosing some of the characters you’d like to write about. Remember, I will only allow two students per character, so have some “backups”!
If you can find a character that you’d like to write about that isn’t on the list please contact me privately by e-mail.

Answers to today's quiz were: 1. (c) 2. (b) 3. (a) 4. (h or d) 5. (f or d - thanks to Donnetta!) 6. (g)
See the PowerPoint file for today's class on our P:drive space for the questions.
Congratulations to those of you who got perfect scores (6/6). Great job!

Homework (Don’t Forget Your Readings)

*SAs, Donnetta and Greg, please leave a note saying that you were the SAs today in both places.

Your previous readings in the textbook’s Appendix B (185.5 to 194) covered the last 7 (out of 10) possible theoretical approaches to reading, studying, understanding, writing about or otherwise interpreting literature.

These were: (4) Structuralist, (5) Feminist, (6) Economic Determinist/Marxist, (7) Psychological/Psychoanalytic, (8) Archetypal/Symbolic/Mythic, (9) Deconstructionist, and (10) Reader-Response.

Instructions: Choose ONE of these approaches and then apply it in a similar fashion to some aspect of either Maupassant’s “The Necklace” OR Twains “Luck” like Roberts does with his examples of Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” Two to three paragraphs should be enough. Remember to credit any outside source you use to support your argument (for example, if you use a date for some event, tell me from where . . . if you reference something from the story, put the page number in parentheses). Submit it first to Turnitin.com and second to the English-blog.

Stay warm / Have a “super” weekend!



Posted by lhobbs at January 30, 2012 10:14 AM

Readers' Comments:

Professor Hobbs,

After reading Watership Down I can compare one of the critical approaches to the novel. In the novel I notice that the literary term Psychoanalytic explains the characters actions, motives, and how they react to different life/death situations. Throughout the story I have noticed that each of the characters are entirely different from one another. Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some characters seem stronger than others such as Bigwig, being the strongest rabbit of them all. Others however, such as Fiver portray such an unusual behavior of instinct that protects the other rabbits from danger. However, each of the characters have their own personal flaws, but as a group of rabbits they make up for each others downfalls.

For example Hazel is the leader of the rabbits, and he holds many traits that make him a good leader. Hazel looks out for the entire group as a unit and he sticks up for all the rabbits, regardless their size and rank. He is very intelligent and smart and he knows how to think problems out logically in order to survive. However, he lacks the characteristics such as Fiver, Bigwig, and Blackberry have, but with the help of these three they work together to be successful. Like I stated earlier Fiver posses an instinct that lets them know if there is any danger ahead. Bigwig is the strongest and very courageous. He fights in all the battles they come across as well. Then you have Blackberry who is the smartest of them all. He can help the rabbits get of danger when the others cannot think of a way out of a situation.

As you can see with these three rabbits working together they are more likely to survive. They work as a whole and go to one another if in need. Hazel goes to Blackberry whenever they need a plan or a way out of a situation, Fiver allows the others to know when danger is around, and Bigwig keeps the group safe with his strength. All together these rabbits act the way they do because of their personality. Each rabbit is different from one another and because of that the group can function properly. With different personalities a group is more likely to work out any situation they may come across.


April H.

You should have analyzed one of the short stories instead of WD, but I'm going to let it slide this one time. I didn't let a "Goodman Brown" reading go through because Edgar Roberts already gives examples of that story in the appendix of his text! Remember to use page numbers next time. Otherwise,a very good reading!

Posted by: April H. at February 3, 2007 03:40 PM

Professor Hobbs,

In Mark Twain’s “Luck”, the narrator (Twain) is told a story by a respected and well traveled friend and Reverend. The story’s protagonist is one Lord Arthur Scoresby, a Crimean War hero (page 242) and a man held in great esteem by the British public. Conversely, the Reverend informs Twain that Scoresby is a “blunderer” (244) who would be nothing without his massive and unbelievable lucky streak. I will attempt a different explanation than that the title describes using the Reader-Response approach to literary study. Instead of Scoresby being “born lucky”, I believe that he was a very opportunistic person, taking advantage of situations, people, and the natural abilities he did have.

The explanation that Scoresby’s success was via luck, and luck alone, seems to be based on the assumption that he is a numbskull. If one were to assume that he has even just a modicum of intelligence, a small amount more of intuitive ability, and a knack for being in the right place at the right time one might be able to offer an additional explanation of the events in “Luck”.

The Reverend describes Scoresby as not knowing anything (243); however, after a little cramming or studying he is able to finish his examinations at times with flying colors. I had friends in high school and again at tech school who could go without reading a text but for once or twice before a test and get within the top 10 percent. Scoresby seems to just need encouragement and time to study. While Scoresby didn’t have the highest potential in his class, he seems to have had enough natural ability to pull through each examination he was given. Then on the battlefield, Scoresby seems to be “blundering” once again (244): receiving an order to fall back and support one of his flanks he instead issues orders to his regiment to charge over the next hill where they expose an enemy formation and rout them. While it does look like Scoresby simply didn’t know his left from right hands or which direction to maneuver his men it might also indicate a deeper, more intuitive understanding of tactics and his Russian adversaries.

Justin B.
ENGL 121


Cogent response.

Posted by: Justin B. at February 4, 2007 10:54 AM

Guy De Maupassant’s short story, “The Necklace,” takes place in Paris, France during the mid 1880’s. At that time, women’s roles were to be the wife, mother, and moral safeguard of the home and their families (Hartman, Dorothy). This was the period during which women were beginning to fight for their rights, attempting to break out of the shell which masculinity has covered them with. In “The Necklace,” there are basically two women in the story that can be recognized as central characters. First, there is Mathilde, the main character in the story, followed by Madame Forrestiere, an old friend of Mathilde that is known throughout the story for her extravagant wealth. The following is a look into the life of Mathilde during a time period that allowed her little to no freedom to do much of anything.
Throughout the story, it seemed as though Mathilde was treated quite fairly by her husband as well as basically all of the other characters mentioned in it. Her husband, a kind gentle man who worked full-time as a minor clerk for the Ministry of Education, treated her as well as he possibly could. Despite his troubles with his lack of huge income from his job, he surprises her with an invitation to a special dinner at the Ministry of Education with some very important people. Mathilde, upset by her lack of anything nice to wear for the dinner, influences her husband’s buying her a beautifully fancy dress for the occasion. Mathilde’s old friend, Madame Forrestiere, treats Mathilde with the utmost respect, letting her choose any piece of jewelry from her extensive collection. Although the story took place during a time of female oppression, when in attendance at the dinner, Mathilde is treated quite well by the other guests, being the center of attention and admiration on the dance floor.
Being an almost polar opposite to how Mathilde is treated throughout “The Necklace,” she acts in many instances during the story as if to be ungrateful and deserving more than what she has. As it is told towards the beginning, she has a taste for extravagance and wealth, things that could not be provided to her, given their financial situation. Because of Mathilde’s inability to retain exactly what she wants out of life, she tended to treat her husband as if to be ungrateful for what he gives her. It seems as though Mathilde somewhat blames her husband for her unhappiness over social standings. She treats her husband extremely ignorantly at the Ministry of Education dinner, as she temporarily shuts reality off in the name of preserving her faux reputation. This can be seen in the story when she refuses to wear her usually worn shawl when leaving, as she thinks it is embarrassing to wear in public. This can also be seen when their cart pulled up to take Mathilde and her husband home on the night of the dinner. Mathilde is described as very upset about having to take a run-down cart home while other guests departed in gorgeous horse-drawn carriages. I think it is safe to say that though Mathilde is treated quite well despite the customs of the time period of the story, she could never be pleased by anything she was given. No matter what her husband did, Mathilde was never happy with her situation, and furthermore depressed about her inability to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous.

Posted by: Colin Hough at February 4, 2007 03:45 PM

Rebecca Shenkle

In "The Necklace", Maupassant portrays Mathilde as being a woman who
is unhappy because she does not have nice things and is not wealthy. He
says "She suffered constantly, feeling herself destined for all delicacies
and luxuries" (pg. 5). This lust for wealth and luxuries is not the ideal
image of a woman, and is a stereotype.
Another stereotype of women in this story is the idea that women are
manipulating and will do whatever they can to get what they want. On page 7
of "The Necklace", Mathilde says, "It's awful, but I don't have any jewels
to wear, not a single gem, nothing to dress up my outfit. I'll look like a
beggar. I'd almost rather not go to the party."
Also in this story, Maupassant talks about how women had no chance
for an independent life and a career around the time the story takes place.
The roles and statuses of women have changed quite a bit since then, and
women should be proud of how far we have come.

Posted by: Rebecca Shenkle at February 4, 2007 03:58 PM

4 February 2007

Prof. Hobbs,

I’m taking the Psychological/Psychoanalytic approach to Young Goodman Brown.

I think the journey Goodman Brown had with “the devil” was all a dream. What he dreamed had many different symbols and meanings in it. These things changed him when he woke up. He was psychologically different. He saw everyone in the view of what he had dreamed; sinners or devil worshipers. After his dream he became an angry man and died an angry man which is why there was nothing written on his tombstone. I guess you can say everything he dreamed about was everything he feared, his worst nightmare.

It scared him and he thought that what he dreamed about actually happened. On the last page, 230, last paragraph it says, “it was a dream of evil omen for young Goodman Brown”. With their beliefs back then, they were probably Puritans (same time as the book The Scarlet Letter); this dream meant something to Goodman Brown, like it said, an “evil omen”. So he took his dream as a sign from God which really just messed with his psyche. He became “a stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man” (230).

Kristin D.
ENGL 121


This comment is a "model" response worthy of commendation. Good job. Students, this is what I am looking for regarding an acceptable engagement with the text.

Posted by: Kristin D. at February 4, 2007 04:10 PM

“The Necklace” – Economic Determinist/Marxist Approach

4 Feb. 2007

Professor Hobbs,

Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” depicts the difference between the castes of the 1800’s. At this time it was more typical to be of a lower working class, rather than the rich, upper class. It was difficult for most to become rich, unless they married into riches or inherited it. Also, during this time women didn’t work, but stayed home and did the household chores, unless they were rich enough to afford a maid.

This story depicts the typical lower class character, Mathilde, dreaming of being in the rich, upper class. Mathilde always dreamt of being rich and even made friends in the upper class, Mrs. Forrestier. Mathilde thought mostly of herself and no one else, which made her a very vain character. She always worried, what other would think of her, especially since she was poor. She didn’t want to be seen as poor. Then, she gets her one chance to be “seen” in the public eye as rich. So she borrows a necklace from her friend Mrs. Forrestier and buys a new dress. It was perfect until she loses the necklace.

Then, we see Mathilde change as a character. She goes from an easy, non-working woman to a scratching for money, old hag. After reading the story we can see the hardships that the people of the working class go through and how easy those with money have it. A perfect example would be in the end when Mathilde sees Mrs. Forrestier who is still beautiful and Mathilde is ugly and worn. This is how where we can see the real difference between classes. Along with that we also see the ups and downs that life throws at us and how people cope through their problems.

Katie K.
English 121 003


Right on! Use page numbers next time is the only criticism. Otherwise, this comment is a "model" response worthy of commendation. Good job. Students, this is what I am looking for regarding an acceptable engagement with the text.

Posted by: Katie K. at February 4, 2007 05:06 PM

Lorin Gdula


In “The Necklace”, Mathilde endures a rough life because she is embarrassed by her cheap belongings. She dreams of expensive things and that some day wealth will be granted upon her and that for once in her life women will be jealous of her. But at this stage of her life she knows that this is highly a far fetched dream and almost too unrealistic. But when her husband surprises her to attend this huge party she doesn’t know how to act. At first she implies that she doesn’t have anything to wear and when her husband spends a big amount of his earnings to buy her this dress she admits she doesn’t have any jewelry to wear with it. She manipulates her husband and takes advantage of him. So she borrows a necklace from a rich friend and she is a big hit at the party.

But, do the people like her for her, or for the new her, who looks like she is a wealthy, well put together women? Before she really didn’t have a lot of friends because she just didn’t have much because her and her husband weren’t really the wealthiest people in their area. So by her going to this party and being a huge success did it change her social class? I don’t think so because it was pretty much a one time thing with her being such a success. She was trying to be someone she wasn’t. She was fake, a fraud, and if that is the only way people would like her, by being something she’s not then that doesn’t say much for herself. After she loses the necklace she worries herself to death about what Mrs. Loisel is going to do. She works numerous jobs and spends about all of her money on a new necklace to replace the one she lost. About ten years later, she runs into Mrs. Loisel and she doesn’t even recognize Mathilde. She destroyed herself by trying to repay this woman who had costume jewelry. I think Mathilde thought that all these other people at the party, because they were wealthy, that that would make them different people, personality wise, and I think by the end of the story Mathilde realizes that she didn’t have to change herself to fit in with others.

We experience this every day of our lives, people changing who they are to fit in with others. Especially in high school, I know I changed a bit to try to fit in, it took me a while, but I realized that it wasn’t worth it. Be your self and people will love you for you. So I feel that the theme of this story is to not be something your not and good things will come to you eventually.

Posted by: Lorin Gdula at February 4, 2007 07:39 PM

4 February 2007

Professor Hobbs-

Mathilde from Guy Maupassant’s “The Necklace” undergoes an archetype of journey from rags to riches when she has her chance at the Ministry ball. There is also a sort of reverse archetype as she goes from average to even dirt poor which is the opposite story that is usually told in fairytales.

Mathilde gets a chance to live her dream of being wealthy and respected as she puts on her fancy gown and necklace to mingle with the upper class members of society. This almost follows the same archetype pattern seen in many Disney movies such as Cinderella. As Mathilde dreams day in and day out of living a life of beautiful clothes and luxurious decorations for a mansion, she is portraying the usually habits of an average plain housewife who wishes for more than what her husband has achieved. However, this night at the ball becomes a chance for her to reach for her dreams and live a fantasy lifestyle. For example, she is seen to light up once she can put on an expensive gown and is thrilled at the chance to fit in with wealthy people that she wishes she could be. Often this pattern is used in many stories to show the feelings of despair or inadequacies that characters often feel throughout their humble lifestyles.

However, once Mathilde agrees to make the changes necessary to pay back her and her husband’s debt from the necklace she had to replace, she undergoes a reverse transformation. Her concerns shift from focusing on socialization and pretty things, to making sure she took care of her duties in the most frugal way possible. As Mathilde ages quickly in a time when women normally reach the peak of their beauty and respect, she comes to realize that she is settling for goals quite opposite than she had had at the beginning of the story. Such a contrast shows that people can be deceived as to what is important and what is necessary until they are put in a situation to open their eyes to it. This pattern can also happen as characters are humbled to change their ways. An example of this happening also occurs in A Christmas Carol in which everyone knows the story of an old bitter man who changes his way to realize that money is not as important as well being.

Bettina Herold
Humanities Literature MWF 1145-1245


Use page numbers! Otherwise, this comment is a "model" response worthy of commendation. Good job. Students, this is what I am looking for regarding an acceptable engagement with the text.

Posted by: Bettina Herold at February 4, 2007 07:39 PM

Applying the Feminist theory to “Luck”

February 2, 2007

Dr. Lee Hobbs,

First let me start by describing the feminist critical approach. This approach states how many writers do not acknowledge women in their writings or short stories. They usually ignore them, or if the authors do include women in their particular stories they usually just state their name and who they are, then it seems like they forget all about them. The feminist approach states questions like do the women have equal rights, and why are they treated differently than men in the stories.

In the short story “Luck”, by Mark Twain, he doesn’t say anything about any women the entire time during the story. He talks about people being at a banquet for Lieutenant General Lord Arthur Scoresby, in honor of his outstanding abilities. Throughout the story not one time did they mention a woman at all? Mark Twain ignored the presence of women the entire time, and I am sure there were women who attended the banquet for Scoresby as well as the men who attended but the women were the ones who were not acknowledged. Mark Twain focused his entire story around men and completely forgot about women all together. Just because the story was dealing with the Crimean War and Scoresby being the outstanding man he is portrayed to be doesn’t mean that women couldn’t be involved, like if they didn’t mention is Scoresby had a wife or anything in that matter. Like I previously states the women were completely forgot about in this particular story. The male characters were brought into way more detail while the women were ignored.

Until our next class meeting


Brooke D.


Very observant! Remember to use page number citations next time!

This comment is a "model" response worthy of commendation. Good job. Students, this is what I am looking for regarding an acceptable engagement with the text.

Posted by: Brooke D. at February 4, 2007 07:45 PM


Professor Hobbs,

In Guy De Maupassant’s “The Necklace”, Mathilde is portrayed as a pretty, but poor woman who settled into marriage with a minor clerk. She seemed very jealous of those who have wealth and luxuries that she could never have. This story was written in 1884, a time in our history when women had no place in society except to look beautiful and be charming (page 5, para. 2). It bothered Mathilde greatly that she could not even dress well because she was so poor.
In the “Writing About Literature” text, there are notes written in the margins of “The Necklace”. One of the notes described Mathilde’s husband as an “insignificant clerk” (page 5. para 1).

Looking at that simple description through the Economist/Determinists Marxists view, we can see that those in lower class were considered “insignificant” because they would never be able to provide enough money to become a person of wealth. Why wouldn’t they ever get to a higher level of financial status? If everyone in town knew of their status, it was probably very hard to move up and get a better paying job.

In the second paragraph on page 5, Maupassant states that women were also insignificant like the poor, unless they were born into a high class family or had strong family connections, they were a no body. The Loisel’s may have been in the lower class because they lacked money to get an education, also. It is evident that the Loisel’s only had the opportunity to work low paying jobs when it took them 10 years to repay their debts to Mrs. Forrestier. Karl Marx believed that the biggest influence in a person’s life is economic, and I think “The Necklace” is a perfect example of this class struggle (p. 188).


Jen N.
Humanities Lit MWF 11:45-12:45


This comment is a "model" response worthy of commendation. Good job. Students, this is what I am looking for regarding an acceptable engagement with the text.

Posted by: Jen N. at February 4, 2007 08:23 PM

Melisa Parsons
2- 04-06

Applying Deconstructionist

I am applying deconstructionist to the story” Luck” by Mark Twain . The reason why I decided that this story is using deconstructionist is because this story have a lot of contradictory situations . Another reasons why I believe this story displays deconstructionist is because this story does not have a clear point to it. In this story Scoreby is supposed to be so dumb but he passes his examination with flying colors. How could someone that is supposed to be so dumb have so many people perceive him to be such a smart man . This story does not have a moral so I believe that it is deconstructionist because I am not sure if the story is actually about luck or how someone can be very foolish and many people can think they are smart . People who read this story can get different things by reading it . The really do not know what the author was trying to point out when writing this story.


Melisa, I think you probably missed the point about Deconstructionism. If you apply deconstructionist theory to the story then you should, in fact, deconstruct some aspect of it (at least). That one is a hard one to get a grasp of, in my opinion. Try again, maybe with a theory that's easier to understand and apply.

Please revise, redo or rework this response by following the instructions given for the homework carefully. You may have an e-mail in your account from me with specifics. Send me your revised response by e-mail and your grade on turnitin.com will be adjusted.

Posted by: melisa Parsons at February 4, 2007 08:32 PM

In Mark Twain’s “Luck” I felt that it is a story conveying how some people can be “lucky”.I believe that people are suppose to be placed in situations to excel. I think that Twain was not necessarily saying that he believes in “luck”, but if he, in fact, did believe in “luck” and if a person can become “lucky” then it would definitely apply to Lieutenant-General Lord Arthur Scoresby. How can a person that would be classified as “stupid” have a banquet in his honor as Lieutenant-General? A lucky one. How can a “fool” lead his troops and defeat the Russians in the Crimean War? A lucky one!
In my life, I was in situations were I felt that I was “lucky”. Like that time I passed an exam that I did not even study for, or the many times I tell my mother a number that she plays on the lottery, and the number, indeed, comes out. Situations like this, in my life, and the life of others I know, helps me appreciate Twain’s “Luck” and helps me understand why it is he might be angered at the success of Scoresby. Twain would probably be thinking something like, “If Scoresby can become Lieutenant-General, I know I should be able to be a Lieutenant.” Twain’s “Luck” helps me to understand that I am not the only person who thinks of ‘luck’ or think that someone can be ‘lucky’.


Ok, Tatiana, but what literary theory are you applying here?(see the terms of the assignment) You need to state it somewhere in your response and re-work it so that all of your response's "points" are supporting your literary approach. See the examples in Robert's textbook. Try again, please!

Please revise, redo or rework this response by following the instructions given for the homework carefully. You may have an e-mail in your account from me with specifics. Send me your revised response by e-mail and your grade on turnitin.com will be adjusted.

Posted by: Tatiana M. at February 4, 2007 08:51 PM

In Maupassant's "The Neclace", shows an Archetypal/Symbolic/Mythic approach to literature. In "The Neclace", Mathilde uses a neclace as a symbol of being rich, and respect. Mathilde borrowed the neclace from her friend because she feels that if she does not have something nice to wear, then she will not get respect and therefore, will not fit in. This neclace is supposedly worth alot of money and if Mathilde wears it, she will look wealthy and she will get people's respect.
Towards the end of the story, Mathilde has worked so hard to repay her friend for "the neclace", since she loses it. Then, she has realized that the neclace is costume made, and not even real. The idea of this story to me is Mathilde is using the neclace to try to look rich, and get respect from others. But in the end, the moral is that you do not need a certain peice of jewelry to prove to others who you are. People do not always judge others by what they are wearing, it is who they are on the inside.


Where are your page numbers? You also have some major spelling errors going on there. Did you do it first in MS-Word? Use the spell-checker to save yourself some embarrassment. Please revise, redo or rework this response by following the instructions given for the homework carefully. You may have an e-mail in your account from me with specifics. Please send me your revised response by e-mail and your grade on turnitin.com will be adjusted.

Posted by: deidra klepfer at February 4, 2007 09:58 PM

5 February 2007

Prof. Hobbs,

I’m taking the Structuralist approach to The Necklace.

From the Edgar Roberts Writing about Literature text, “it claims that the principle of structuralism stems from the attempt to find relationships and connections among elements that appear to be separate and discrete” (p. 185). In the text, it is said that a structural description of “The Necklace” stresses that the main character, Mathilde, is an active protagonist who undergoes a test and emerges with a victory, though not the kind she had originally hoped for (p. 186).

Mathilde Loisel is a pretty woman who could be viewed as self-centered and does not take other’s feelings into consideration when it comes to what she wants. Her life long dream- to become a wealthy woman- occurs at the story’s beginning. It is made quite clear that she longs to live the luxurious life, and after that point, she seems to no longer care what she needs to do to get to that point.

After her one night of happiness she is put to the test when she looses her friend Mrs. Forrestier’s diamond necklace. Of course, many protagonists undergo similar testing and they emerge triumphant. But with Mathilde Loisel it could be considered quite a different story.

She is a victim for ten long years as a result of her selfish acts. By the end of the story, Mathilde is worn looking and has became a strong, hard, and rude woman of poor households. Despite all her previous experiences, she lets this single disaster govern not only her life, but her husband’s life as well for ten years. Although she has become victorious in paying off her debts as result of her one night of bliss, she does not pass the test in the way in which she had originally hoped for.


Lyndsay K.
ENGL 121.003

Posted by: Lyndsay K. at February 4, 2007 10:16 PM

Using a modern feminist approach to "The Necklace" would reveal Mathilde as a needy and selfish brat. Modern feminists would see her this way because she felt the desire to have jewelry for status. Modern feminists wouldn't care about status and would want Mathilde to embrace her social class and be proud of WHO she is inside.

The feminist approach discussed in the textbook would probably pity Mathilde for not being able to get ahead like a man or the inability to get a good job when she needed to pay the loans back for the replacement necklace. Because it attempts to "show that writers ... have also transmitted misguided and prejudiced views of [women]," (page 270 in my Roberts textbook) the author would be written off as belittling Mathilde by making her a stereotypical woman, a jewelry lover and materialistic.


Right on! Good one.

Posted by: Kendra Sledzinski at February 4, 2007 10:25 PM

In the story "The Necklace", Roberts' character Mathilde is the picture of a woman who doesn't live a lavish life. She goes day in and day out dreaming of the life she wants. A rich life of luxurious things and lavish outings.

She doesn't live this life and when she gets the chance to experience it, through a party, she refuses to go since she doesn't have anything to wear. This is a very stereotypical display of a woman. Her husband convinces her to go by offering to buy her a dress specifically for the party.

Even though she has the dress it's still not good enough. She can't go with a bare neck. She needs jewels to wear. Her friend offers to allow her to borrow her diamond necklace. Finally, she is happy and willing to go to the party.

This story shows a sexist view of women. Some men believe that women only care about material things and that they are "high maintenance". Roberts does a good job of displaying Mathilde as this type of woman.

I almost missed your theory until I saw in the last paragraph. Indicate/integrate your "thesis" at/in the beginning next time, e.g. "I am doing a feminist reading of Maupassant" or "A Marxist reading of Twain indicates . . . " so there will be no mistake!

Posted by: Erin Rock at February 4, 2007 10:41 PM

2 February 2007

Dear Professor Hobbs,

I believe “The Necklace” showed some very feminist ways of looking at literature. This approach states that the literature or our society looks at the world from a masculine point of view. I believe that it states in some ways that men are slightly superior to women.

In “The Necklace” the story begins with the wife taking care of all the typical housewife responsibilities. She cleans the house, makes dinner, and does all of the things that ordinary housewives do. Although this was rather common in 1884, I feel that it gives the reader the impression that women are incapable of being the “breadwinner.” I think it is important to portray stories in which women and men do the housework and bring home large salaries.

Thank you,

Jaime H.

Very nice approach to use the "point-of-view" angle to nail this as a masculine piece. This shows you are thinking about it! Next time, use more page number citations in your response, though.

This comment is a "model" response worthy of commendation. Good job. Students, this is what I am looking for regarding an acceptable engagement with the text.

Posted by: Jaime H. at February 4, 2007 11:02 PM

Feminist Theory

At the beginning of “The Necklace” we learn about a woman named Mathilde, “a pretty and charming woman born into a family of clerks and copyists”, which lets the readers know the caste that she was born into (5). She married a minor clerk. For women in those days the class was defined by whom the woman had ended up marrying.This made her unhappy because she didn’t have the wealth to dress as nice and afford expensive things as wealthier people did.

In this story I feel as though she was represented as selfish because her husband had spent all the money he had made to buy her a dress and an invitation to go to the ball. That wasn’t good enough for her. She got herself into trouble by borrowing the “diamond” and losing it. This story made women of that time look as though they didn’t make any money and selfishly spent the money her husbands did.

Posted by: Tina W at February 4, 2007 11:04 PM

Feb. 2, 2007

Professor Hobbs,

In the short story, “The Necklace”, by Guy de Maupassant (Roberts, p.5), a women named Mathilde Loisel, born into the working class, daydreams about becoming a red carpet member of society. One day her husband, a clerk, comes home with the opportunity to attend dinner at the Ministry of Education, an invite that is in high demand. Although this would be an occasion of a lifetime, Mathilde is very unhappy because she lacks the proper attire. Her husband decides to give Mathilde the money he has saved up in order to buy a suitable dress. Even this does not suffice her needs, so she borrows a diamond necklace from her wealthy friend. After the young couples evening out, Mathilde notices that she has misplaced the borrowed necklace. Instead of coming clean to her friend, they decide to buy a brand new diamond necklace to replace the lost one. This leads to 10 years of even more hard work, labor, and living in a lower class in order to pay off the loans on the necklace.

Analyzing this story with the Economic Determinist/Marxist approach focuses on Mathildes attitude towards her life. On the night that Mathilde was able to live out her dream of being admired by wealthy people, she ended up landing herself in a big pile of irony. Losing the necklace caused her to live a life full of even more hard work than she had done as the wife of a clerk. The couple moved into an attic apartment, fired the maid, and Mr. Loisel took up two jobs. At the end of the 10 years, Mrs. Loisel found herself to be an impolite, aged penny pincher. Unfortunately, it was not till these events took place that Mathilde learned to appreciate the life she had before they were dirt poor.

Stephanie V.


Good job Steph, just use MORE page numbers next time (in parentheses) to indicate where you are talking about in the text. Otherwise, this comment is a "model" response worthy of commendation. Students, this is what I am looking for regarding an acceptable engagement with the text.

Posted by: Stephanie V. at February 4, 2007 11:41 PM

Andy Hood

I chose to take the feminist approach to critique Maupassant’s “The Necklace”. This approach seems to stand out to me as I read the story. The story was written about a young woman’s life in the 1800’s. The author chose to view it as a quest to find the man who can best provide for them. A woman is thought to be more attracted to a man’s wealth than to his personality. Yes, a woman’s role in society was very different than it is now, but that doesn’t mean they were simply “money hungry”. It is about survival so the women must seek a life in which she will be able to survive in. However, I’m sure women wanted to be a great homemaker too. They wanted to be able to please their husband and take care of them in a way they couldn’t.

A story written today would have been much different. A woman’s role in society has evolved to be almost equal to that of men. Although it may have been possible to follow the same structure with the roles of men and women, the woman would have had many different characteristics. She most likely would have had a job of her own. She was underprivileged as a child and feels that kept her from being able to find a man at the top of the hierarchy. Today, whether or not she went to college or landed a better job may have replaced the search for the right man. The story was not wrong for describing things this way, but just biased.


Good engagement, I'm only bothered by the following statement: " A woman’s role in society has evolved to be almost equal to that of men." What do you base that on? Are you talking about French society today or American society today? Try to avoid generalities where you can and be sure to indicate where you are stating your opinion to differentiate where you are stating facts. Structure the response like a letter and use page numbers in parentheses next time to indicate the places in the text you are referring to.

Posted by: Andy Hood at February 5, 2007 12:07 AM

February 2, 2007

Professor Hobbs,

I chose to compare the Archetypal/Symbolic/Mythic method and the story “Luck”. The Archetypal/Symbolic/Mythic method stresses the connections that are discovered in literature written in different times and in different locations of the world. (Writing About Literature, 191)

In “Luck” they are honoring a man who has gotten by on luck all his life. He is no different than the ordinary man, but people in society look up to him because he has high status and is recognized for many honors. Normally, a hero in a story is someone who is intelligent, strong, and brave. The general may have been strong and brave, but Mark Twain made it very clear that he was not intelligent.

The Archetypal/Symbolic/Mythic method is not the same in every story; in “Luck” this method shows that every hero does not have to be intelligent, brave, and strong. Mark Twain rebelled against the typical hero stereotype that is similar throughout various cultures and historical times. (Writing About Literature, 190)

Lauren W.


Thank you following the instructions, this was a "MODEL" response. Exactly what I was looking for. You stated your theory, you showed examples of how it could be applied, and you cited examples from the text with page numbers. Very good!

Posted by: Lauren W. at February 5, 2007 12:10 AM

Dr. Hobbs,

This point is along the same lines as another short essay we were asked to write, however I hope in this one to delve more into the mind of the Reverend than
take his opinions at first glance.

Looking Into the Mind of “Luck”
A psychological approach

In Mark Twain’s short story, Luck, he has unwound a character known to the reader as the Reverend. The clergyman is a mutual friend of both Twain (who is narrating the tale) and Lord Arthur Scoresby (a medaled and esteemed Crimean War hero). The highly thought of Scoresby however, is seen as a mere fool in the Reverend’s eyes and he attempts to persuade Twain throughout the short story of said ‘fact’. This need to condemn is good friend Scoresby is none other than an attempt to satiate the Reverend’s jealousy and need for attention. In the same light, the ‘foolishness’ displayed by Scoresby is none other than a call for encouragement.

The Reverend spins his tale, relating his past with Scoresby. From the days in the academy where the Reverend helped Scoresby study just to pass his exams, to the battle where the Reverend was sure they would die but Scoresby brought his unit out on top, Reverend saw him as nothing but a fool. This seems to be driven from an unrealized dream of his own. The Reverend is an instructor at the academy Scoresby attends, but the Reverend himself does not speak of entering the battle field or of winning any of his own honors. Is this perhaps because the Reverend has no such honors to speak of? It seems in some hidden part of him, the Reverend secretly envies Scoresby for his medals and awards that seem to come so easily to the ‘bumbling fool’. The Reverend proclaims with an air of both jealousy and shock when he finds Scoresby has received the award for highest marks, “…he took first prize! And with it he got a perfect ovation in the way of compliments!” (Twain 361). As far as the reader can discern, the Reverend has never been awarded anything, whether awards or high praise for anything that he has done. This leads one to believe that the Reverend is not calling Scoresby “…an absolute fool.” (Twain 360) because he actually is one, but because the Reverend cannot fathom why this man is so praised for his deeds when the Reverend himself has received nothing. It is as though he must attempt to persuade others to his opinion (that he honestly believes as he has had years to tempt his consciousness with the idea) in order to feel some sort of amenity for the past and gain some sympathy in the present. He wishes to have the public eye turned to him, for he feels it was he who turned this Scoresby into the hero he is.

One can look at Scoresby in much the same psychological light, though he does not feel a need to be coddled about what has occurred in his past, nor does it seem, a strong desire to pull the Reverend up to share his pedestal. The Reverend takes Scoresby for a fool, sympathetically condemning him for his seeming idiocy though when the exams come “he [Scoresby] went through with flying colors” (Twain 361). A session of cramming could not do this however much the Reverend wishes to believe it. Instead, there is an inherent genius in the young Scoresby; yet, he is loath to allow it to shine. Only when the Reverend shows interest in his welfare does he suddenly have the gumption to do better, the need to perform at his best. This encouragement from his friend is all it takes for Scoresby to suddenly do miraculously better on his exams. What is taken for foolishness are simply low self-esteem and the need to be pushed and encouraged to put forth effort. There is nothing foolish about a person who needs an extra bit of consideration in order to perform at their peak; simply a before-unanswered plea for guidance and a bit of notice.

Scoresby is no more a fool than the Reverend is free from envy. Both men are asking for attention in their own ways and living out this calling in their own actions. Perhaps in becoming a war hero and a clergyman, they hoped that all eyes would be upon them. Either way, by stepping into their minds, the reader can see a bit more clearly why each man acts the way he does and in the Reverend’s case, why he says what he says.

See you in class Dr. Hobbs. Hope you enjoyed it.

P.S. - Psychoanalysis is fun.

Erin Knisley
ENGL 121.003 MWF 11:45-12:45


AWESOME! This comment is a "model" response worthy of commendation. Good job. Students, this is what I am looking for regarding an acceptable engagement with the text.

Posted by: Erin K at February 5, 2007 08:25 AM

February 2, 207

Professor Hobbs,

After reading the story the necklace i seemed to pick up on some different styles of writing. For instance, i definitely picked up on Economic Determinist/Marxist. This was because it talked about all the struggles that Loisel family had to go through. They were an average working class family, but Mrs. Loisel was not satisfied with her lifestyle.

She always wanted to seem more rich than she was. So she did things like splurge all their savings on a dress for dinner and borrow what she thought was a extremely expensive diamond necklace. She felt classy and like everyone wanted to be her when she was all done up in her dress and wearing the jewels.

It wasn’t until the end of the book that she was told the necklace she borrowed was fake. It seemed kind of silly to think something so fake could make her seem so "fake happy".

Nicole N.

Posted by: nicole novak at February 5, 2007 08:47 AM

Prof. Hobbs,

I am examining the article "The Necklace" and Psychoanalytics.

I the article "The Necklace", I believe the wife, Louise, was trying to make her husband feel bad for not being able to provide her with all of the nicest cloths, or material items. She used that against him to convince him to buy her a new dress for the banquet. I think the her husbands inner motive was just to make his wife happy for one night, since he knew she was unhappy otherwise.

Also, I think Louise has many downfalls. I think it is horrible that she makes her husband spend all of his money that he has been saving to buy her a dress for one lousy night. I feel like something might have happened in her childhood to make her act out in such a way. I feel like growing up, she must have been very poor and not able to afford very much, so now she wants to be as far away from poor as she can and she is being very rude since they don't have very much money.

I think this money situation causes her to be a very insecure person, since she is so extremely worried about what people will think about what she is wearing one night of her life.

Thank you,

Amber D.
Engl 121

Posted by: Amber D. at February 5, 2007 08:49 AM

I’m using the new critical/formalist approach, which explains
content of work. The poem Young Goodman browns requires deeper
analysis of the storiescentral focus. In the story Brown cannot
decipher reality from the dreamworld. The vague details about the
happenings of Brown; results inconfusion for readers to be able to do
the same. In the story nothing istruly made clear, for example; why
Brown is leaving his wife for this strange adventure that was not
explained, or the dark figure that leads him throughout the woods.
The horrific terror that encountered Brown happens when he
notices his fellow companions partaking in witchcraft and consulting
with the devil. This later affects his judgment and emotions when he
"returns to the
village" from what readers gather either a dream world or reality.
This isa huge problem for Brown, because he cannot separate the two,
which causeshis depression. Since he was unable to tell the difference
his mood towardsthe other villagers changed especially towards his
wife. He remembers them mingling with devil doing witchcraft. This
causes him to lose his "faith"and trust in people, which turns him
into a depressed angry person.

Posted by: Sheryll Daugherty at February 5, 2007 09:00 AM


Why wasn't the reverend happy that he helped Lieutenant-General Lord Arthur Scoresby early in his career? It all comes down to jealousy, the clergy man was jealous. In the beginning of the story the reverend helps the young soldier get into military school, and during the Crimean War the day Scoresby became a hero. What about the rest of Scoresby's military career, what about the years that followed surely if Scoresby was such an incompetent fraud, someone would of probably found out, after all England at one time had a huge empire, most of this was achieved through military conquest.

In the story the author was at an awards ceremony, and still in a room of presumably many people the author finds or at least reports only one person who seems to dislike the General. This is a clear case of jealousy. When we hear stories of great or accomplished men we generally find stories of envy or jealousy to follow.

Choosing the feminist theory to analyze “LUCK” by Mark Twain (p. 242-244) doesn’t seem to make much sense. As we look at Twain’s story, we find references of great men and Great War, but no reference of women at all; why is that? Do the women of Scoresby, or the reverends life not count, apparently in this story one is to guess not.

Both of these characters have to have by natural laws alone, had contact with a female, but these social relationships are not seen or even mentioned. This type of view point is the first view point listed in the feminist approach (pg 187).

Erika G.

Posted by: Erika G. at February 5, 2007 09:20 AM

Mark Twain’s Luck

Dear Professor Hobbs,

Mark Twain’s short story, Luck, we are introduced to the reverend who use to be an instructor at a military academy. He tells the story of a young student whom he believed to have no plausible potential, and so he “helped” the poor student out. Putting together the fact that the revered later became a man of god, and the fact that he cared deeply for both the well being of this student, as well as the country, we can conclude that he is a man with high moral standards.

On the other hand, however, he also thinks very little of the student’s abilities, and “trains” him to accomplish things outside of his intellectual level, and thus causing an unfair situation for the student himself, and all of the other students around them. Further more he chooses to reveal the truth of the student at a banquet in his
honor. These actions seem to lead to the fact that the reverend is
not quite as noble as a man as we might have expected. This short story presents a perplexing and interesting character.

Looking at the story from the Deconstructionists’ standpoint, it is hard to gauge whether the reverend truly is a “good” person. One might argue that because he was trying to help the student he is good, but on the other side, he was also potentially setting the student up for a colossal failure, especially after his “luck” brought him to the top. Then to add to that when the student is not discovered as a “fraud” as the reverend knows him to be, the reverend lets everyone know at a banquet to be held in the student’s honor. It almost seems to me that the reverend led Scoresby up to a cliff with the expectation that he will fall, and then when he does not the reverend pushes him off.


Erika K.
Humanities Literature
M/W/F 11:45-12:45
Group 6/5

Posted by: Erika K. at February 5, 2007 09:55 AM

Prof. Hobbs

Economic Determinist/Marxist

In the Maupassant’s “The Necklace” the story focuses on a lower middle class family who tries to fit in with the upper class families but in trying to do so they end up worse off than they were before. The family borrows an expensive diamond necklace from a rich friend and then it is lost at a party resulting in them having to spend their life savings and then some just to get a replacement. This family spends 10 years doing whatever they can to save or earn money to pay back people who loaned them, because of this situation one can assume that they lost a lot of respect from their higher class friends and bosses and lost their reputation as a decent family. This families luck goes from bad to worse from trying to show a little flare that they don’t have at a party.

Although the story doesn’t continue after them finding out the original necklace was a fake, one could assume that that might not change their fortunes all too much. Indeed they now have the money that they earned over those 10 years, assuming Mrs. Forrestier gave it back, but that doesn’t change how society will look at them over how the last 10 years of their life was. They’ll probably never fit in with any family that’s had money for a while and will always be looked down upon in that town because of all the loan sharks they had to go to because of their predicament.

From a Marxist point of view I would say this story is all about how the lower class in those times had a lot of trouble getting out of that class, and in most cases didn’t succeed.

Jeff Hoover
English 121 11:45-12:45


Jeff, in the future, please use numbers within parentheses to indicate where things you refer to from the story itself can be found

Other than that, this comment is a "model" response worthy of commendation. Good job. Students, this is what I am looking for regarding an acceptable engagement with the text.

Posted by: Jeff Hoover at February 5, 2007 10:04 AM

Professor Hobbs,

I was Friday's SA. I do not have to do the assignment that was assigned for the day.

Thank you
Donnetta Allen

Posted by: Donnetta Allen at February 5, 2007 10:17 AM

In Maupassant’s “The Necklace”, I choose to use the archetypal/symbolic/mythical approach. As stated in our text the archetypal approach looks for some sense of God, or the search for something greater. (WAL 191) I think the author of this short story uses this perfect with the physicality of the necklace itself. For this woman the necklace seems to have greater meaning than just jewelry.

Mathilde uses this necklace to portray herself in a higher wealth class, which for most people is their motivation regardless. The necklace symbolizes a dream for Mathilde, which the author of Writing about Literature claims to be a give away for analyzing through archetypal/symbolic/mythical.

Posted by: Thomas Nolf at February 5, 2007 11:11 AM

I was a S.A. for Febuary 2nd class.

Posted by: Greg Crossland at February 5, 2007 11:28 AM

I think the best approach for Maupassant’s “The Necklace” is Economic determinist due to the fact in the story the symbol of the necklace represents wealth that the main character is trying to withhold by having the necklace. But in reality the necklace means nothing as far as her social status goes. Now, a wealthy person could have the same necklace except for that person it really does represent a true sign of wealth.


Response is too short. Three sentences is only one paragraph, not two or three as the assignment calls for.

Please redo (or) rework this response by following the instructions above carefully. You may have an e-mail in your account from me with specifics. Send me your revised response by e-mail and your grade on turnitin.com will be adjusted.

Posted by: Pat Bautista at February 5, 2007 11:37 AM


*NOTE* The deadline for this assignment has now passed. Comments are no longer being accepted for this exercise


Posted by: Lee Hobbs at February 5, 2007 04:30 PM

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