Assignment 2 Proposal

April 28th, 2011

Jackie Weber

Eng 391 Prof. Zino

Final paper proposal

Due: 4/28/11

For my paper I am going to focus on the fourth prompt: “I see what you say.”  I will be focusing on Turner’s paintings in comparison to essays by Emerson and poetry by Emily Dickinson. Between Turner and Emerson, I’m going to focus on the sublime, and the importance of the eye; the eyes interpretation of vision versus the reality.

Thesis: How do Turner, Dickinson, and Emerson use their craft to show their personal views and how they interpret the world?

Main Argument: How different perspectives shape how we view certain, everyday things.

Paragraph 1: Brief intro to my thesis.
– Introduce writings, paintings and main arguments.

My body paragraphs will focus on the argument and each will be dedicated to a specific artist/images.

-Emily Dickinson/a poem
-Turner/a painting
-Emerson/an essay

I will also be incorporating some opposing views as well; i.e. Holmes.

the Ambassadors v. the Ambassadors

April 4th, 2011

In “the Ambassadors” by Henry James, we are presented with a lead character, Strether, who’s attributes seem to fall short in comparison to his mind.  James uses Strether’s mind and thoughts as the true focus of his work.  The other characters aren’t really described, and when they are – they are described through the vision and thoughts of Strether himself.  In the painting by Holbein entitled, “the Ambassadors,” we are given an image of two men standing around rather prestigious items, and on the floor lie a skull that has been misshapen.  One could argue that the two men are Strether and his friend Waymarsh (Waymarsh being the fancier dressed one) but that is all speculation.  The items that surround them could also be representations of the men in the novel and their love for certain aspects. The only thing that is precisely linked between the novel and the painting is the title, “the Ambassadors.”  The most interesting and almost confusing part of the painting is the infamous skewed skull which lies by the men’s feet.  This is a perfect representation of “anamorphosis” which is the evolution of one type of organism from another by a long series of gradual changes (  In order for anyone to see this image, they have to see the painting completely from the side to see it truly become a skull; when facing it, it is an unidentifiable object with no true meaning.  Although I have looked it up and there is no true answer to what the skull represents, the wikipedia article on the painting gives it a “memento mori” which is Latin for, “Remember, you must die.”  If that was the intentions of the painter Holbein, and what James has in store for his book, than it is foreshadowing the inevitable death of someone or something.

In “the Ambassadors,” at least within the two books we have read for class, we have to often alternate between the scenario that is going on and the picture that is being painting for us.  The picture of the storyline gives us the stepping stones for the scenes of action that are going to be giving to us.  James uses this system and his beautiful use of the written word to have the reader engage in a specific strategy for reading his works in order to have them open their consciousness and use their center.  The first person and omniscient narrator techniques make us open our center-of-consciousness in order to really grasp and understand what is going on, which I’m sure is exactly what others were doing with the painting by Holbein; opening up their minds to try and see a distinct connection between the painting and the story, which is just unfortunately not possible.