Literary Criticism

This site contains my work during the course of English 300 at Montana State University-Bozeman in the Autumn of 2004.

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I am a senior at Montana State University working for a degree in history with a teaching option and also a minor in English. Currently I am working with the students at Bridger Alternative here in town and I am loving every minute of it. I can't wait to get out into the field and teach.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Catharsis, also known as Cleansing of Emotions

Catharsis: a cleansing of the spirit, getting it out of your system.
When we were first given the assignment of finding a piece of literature that made you cry, I had a hard time, because normally I'm the kind of person who looks for the comedy or the story with the happy ending. YES! I am one of these people who avoid the tragedy sections! YES! I know that they are probably very good stories (until the ending). But after a hard week of school, homework, work and every other possible stressful thing, I need that happy ending to relieve tension and make life better. So this assignment was hard for a person like me who doesn't like tragedy and instead RUNS for the comedy section. Then along came this movie. The previews made it look like such a good action flick with lots of men running around to put out fires plus it looked like a solid movie; and it was, and then the ending appeared. But before I discuss the ending, I would like the audience to know that I am talking about the film Ladder 49 so if you have not seen it, you may not want to read about the movie; just a forewarning. Anyway, the movie has the classic tragic ending (which is really sad and it should have ended happily). The film itself shows a young firefighter: Jack (Joaquin Phoenix) and how he succeeds in becoming a firefighter, a husband and the father of two children (a boy and a girl of course). Yet it also shows one of his colleagues die in a fire, and it shows another having his face practically steamed off. Yet all that they are showing are memories as he moves in and out of conscious, as he was in a factory on the 12th floor rescuing people when the floor collapsed and he fell a story below. The action is that the fire continues to rage around him as passes in and out of this state of limbo. While he's conscious, he talks to his fellow firefighters on the outside and on the inside as they attempt to figure out where he has fallen. At this point, the viewer knows that there is a good chance that they will be able to get him out of there because while he's unconscious and running through his memories, the viewer gets close to the main character and hopes the best for him. Then the cliffhanger: Jack is told to make it to the Control Room in the center of the building, and his colleagues will be able to open an access door to the room that separates them. His colleagues attempt to open the door, and the room has virtually exploded with fire, there is no way for them to get to Jack, meanwhile he makes it into the Control Room and sees the other room through the window and knows that it would be impossible for them to save him. He then radios his captain: Mike (John Travolta) and tells him to call off the search and to tell his wife that he loves her. There was not a dry eye in the house when the movie ended. Guys were wiping their eyes with their coat sleeves so that their significant others wouldn't see that they had teared up while the girls, (myself included) bawled openly. This was certainly an excellent movie, even though I think he should have lived at the end, but that is just my craving for the happy ending. I suppose we have to have tragedy as well. ;o) I highly recommend to anyone to go and see Ladder 49; it's the best movie I've seen in a long time.

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