British Literature Intertwined with Life at Misericordia University

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I have come to realize that many of the literary texts we have studied in class do not just exist in a vacuum. They have many connections to other people and places and many of these works relate to our everyday lives, some even relate to events offered on our campus. At Misericordia University, there are so many cultural events that are offered to students. Some of which include, poetry readings, theatre events, guest speakers, sporting events, concerts, and so much more. All of these events are intended to enhance the intellectual life of the student.

Many of these cultural events relate to readings from our British Literature class. After attending three of these events on campus, I have come to see that I can relate a football game to the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae, I can relate a jazz concert to the poem, “Songs of Innocence: Introduction” by William Blake, and I can relate our class trip to the on-campus art gallery to the film titled, “The Abominable Bride”. I got to see firsthand how British Literature is tied into our everyday lives.

One of the first events that I attended on campus was a football game. Misericordia University was playing Widener University on campus at Mangelsdorf Field. After watching the game, I came to realize that I can relate it to one of the Great War poems that we have read in class. The poem is titled, “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae. This poem was published in 1918 and written during the First Great War. It is about the fighting soldiers and the battle that took place in Flanders Fields. This battle reminded me of the battle of the two teams trying to win the football game.

In the poem, McCrae writes, “Take up our quarrel with the foe:”, in regards of fighting and going to war with the enemy. The Misericordia football team took up a quarrel with Widener University’s team. Both teams battled it out for four quarters. After the first quarter, nobody had scored, but when the second quarter started the battle started to get close. Widener scored and started beating our football team 7-0. Misericordia Cougars bounced back scoring two touchdowns and bumped the score up to 14-7. Shortly thereafter, Widener put up more points and the first half ended with a score tied at 14. The third quarter started with two more touchdowns from Misericordia University, and the score was 28-21.

At the start of the fourth and final quarter of the game, Widener’s football team retaliated with two more touchdowns as well and they put themselves on top with a score of 35-28. There were only four seconds left in the battle of the two teams and the only thing standing in between a loss or a victory was three feet to the goal line. As Misericordia fell into the line of scrimmage, both teams grew anxious of the final outcome. The play started, and the cougars got past Widener’s team, broke the plane, scored the final touchdown of the game and won the battle at Mangelsdorf Field, 36-35.

In John McCrae’s poem, he wrote, “We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, / Loved and were loved, and now we lie/ In Flanders fields.” McCrae is referring to the soldiers who have died and lost their battle. They all lived and enjoyed life before the war. They were all loved by many but now they just lie there in the field. Although Widener’s football team did not lose their lives, they did lose the battle on our field, just like in the poem. They fell to defeat from the opposing team. John McCrae writes, “To you from failing hands we throw/ The torch; be yours to hold it high.” In these lines he is commenting on the soldiers who have died and are giving the fight to someone else. It is a call for those who are living to take the baton, or the torch as McCrae says, and continue on the battle. After losing the game against Misericordia, Widener University’s football team is going to take the torch on to the next team they play. They are going to take the defeat by the Misericordia Cougars and use it to do better in their next round of battle.

Another cultural event I attended on campus was a jazz concert presented by Misericordia University. The concert was called, “Songs for My Son,” and it was part of the Back Mountain jazz series that took place in Lemmond Theater. Award winning trumpet and flugelhorn artist, John Maurer, and Nate Petley presented this as a part of their debut album concert tour. John Maurer is the Soyka Artist-in-Residence for 2018-2019 at Misericordia. Maurer played the trumpet and Petley, and accomplished pianist, joined him for this event. This album was dedicated to Maurer’s first-born son. After reading English Romantic Poetry, I realized that I can relate this jazz concert to a poem titled, “Songs of Innocence: Introduction,” by William Blake. In the poem, Blake writes, “Piping down the valleys wild, / Piping songs of pleasant glee,” In these first few lines, Blake is writing about playing sweet and enjoyable songs, just like the sweet, soft songs played by Maurer and Petley.

In the third stanza, Blake writes about how children wanted him to play happy songs. “Sing thy songs of happy chear;” he writes. The beauty and innocence of the song in the poem is just like the amazing songs that were played at the concert. In the fifth and final stanza of the poem, it reads, “And I wrote my happy songs/ Every child may joy to hear.” These last two lines of the poem relate to the jazz concert the most, since the songs on the album were all dedicated to Maurer’s first-born son. The music from the “Songs for My Son” album goes hand in hand to the music being played to the children in the poem.

The third event that I attended at Misericordia University was a class trip to the Pauly Friedman and MacDonald Art Gallery. Every year, the art gallery displays many different exhibits, which are all free to Misericordia students to come see and enjoy. The current exhibit is called “Contemplating Character.” On our class trip, I got the opportunity to look at dozens of amazing paintings and portraits. While walking through the gallery, I noticed a few portraits that were very similar in relation to a film we watched in our British Literature class. The film was titled, “The Abominable Bride”. “The Abominable Bride” is a special episode of the British television show, Sherlock, that takes place in 1895, Victorian London and swings to present day. It is about the well-known detective, Sherlock Holmes, and a case that him, and his partner Dr. John Watson take on, after Watson returns to the “great cesspool” of London from fighting in the Army.

This part of the film remined me of a few portraits that are on display. This work of art is titled, “Poverty”, and was created by an artist named Richard Dadd. This painting was created in 1853, only a few years before the case of the Abominable Bride took place in the film. In the painting, there are two men sitting on the ground next to the side of a brick building. One man is playing a violin and the other is sitting there and just staring off into the distance. There is something on the ground in front of them to collect money in.

Both men have sad, heavy-hearted looks portrayed on their faces. In the bottom left hand corner, the artist wrote, “Sketch for Poverty by Richard Dadd, 1853 – Bethlem Hospital, London.” I believe that this portrait relates to the film because they both take place in the same setting, only a few years apart from each other. Both literary pieces show what life was like living in London around that time. I know that certain things have probably changed from the time when the painting was created and the time where the film takes place but, in the film, Dr. John Watson refers to London as the “great cesspool” when he returns back home from the army.

In this case offered to Holmes and Watson, Emelia Ricoletti had shot at by-passers in the street from a balcony, then shot and killed herself, all while wearing her wedding dress. Later on that night, her husband, Mr. Ricoletti was confronted by Emelia, and she shot him dead and vanished. Holmes takes the case in fascination that Emelia Ricoletti had returned from the dead after killing herself. As the case goes on and more people start seeing Emelia Ricoletti murder other men, Holmes believes that they are all just copycat crimes and starts to lose interest in the case.

This part of the film reminds me of a painting called, “Man with Head Wound”. It was created by an English artist named Lucian Freud in 1981. The wound on the man’s head in the portrait is very similar to the wounds Emilia Ricoletti is leaving on the men she has killed, including her husbands.

Months later, Holmes’ brother Mycroft refers him to a case where a man named Sir Eustace is stabbed to death by what seems to be Emelia Ricoletti. To me, this part relates to a painting called, “Blue Child”, by Gottfried Helnwein. In this portrait, there is a girl wearing a white dress, sitting and staring into the distance. The unusual aspect of it is that it seems her face is cut. It looks like someone cut a smile into her face and then stitched it back together. It reminds me of the fake wound on the back of Emelia Ricoletti’s head. They both share the same ghostly aspects and haunting feelings. The painting made me think of the scene where Mrs. Ricoletti supposedly returned from the dead to kill Sir Eustice.

The Abominable Bride looks Watson right in the face and he lets her get away and escape. Fortunately for them, it’s Watson’s wife, Mary, that comes to the rescue. She has been spying on them for Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft, and she leads them to a top-secret meeting of suffragettes. This is where they figure out everything. Emilia Ricoletti did not actually kill herself the first time. She fired one of her guns into the ground, while someone else used fake blood some makeup to make it look like she blew her brains out. That is how she supposedly returned from the dead the next day, shooting her husband. The real Mrs. Ricoletti was dying of tuberculosis, so she asked her friends to actually shoot her in the head and place her body in the morgue as if it had been there the entire time. The remaining women then pretended to be Ricoletti’s ghost and struck back against men who had wronged them in the past.

In conclusion, I have come to realize that many of the literary texts we have studied in class do not just exist in a vacuum. They in fact, do have many connections to other people and places and many of these works relate to our everyday lives here at Misericordia University. After attending three of the many cultural events offered to students on campus, I got to see for myself how these events actually relate to literary works from my British Literature class. I have come to see that I can relate a football game vs Widener University to the poem, “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrae, I can relate the “Songs For My Son” jazz concert to the poem, “Songs of Innocence: Introduction,” by William Blake, and I can relate our class trip to the Pauly Freidman and MacDonald Art Gallery to the film titled, “The Abominable Bride”.

After seeing how these cultural events related to some of our literary works so well, I cannot even begin to imagine how much more I will notice and how other works relate to other people’s daily lives. I have learned so much after trying to relate these literary works to events here on campus and I got to see firsthand how British Literature is tied into our everyday lives as students of Misericordia.

Cite this paper

British Literature Intertwined with Life at Misericordia University. (2021, Apr 27). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/british-literature-intertwined-with-life-at-misericordia-university/

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