While reading Dracula and seeing Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” simultaneously, I noticed a few similarities between these works that I found particularly interesting. Although the works differ in style and genre, both managed to pinpoint a variety of themes and societal issues of Victorian society. While Dracula pointed out the fears and anxieties by merging them into a terrifying monster, The Importance of Being Earnest took a different approach to address similar views. Instead, this play took all the uptight, rigid aspects of Victorian society and turned them into a humorous joke.

The lack of seriousness about marriage, for example, is one very prominent feature in this work. Marriage was one of the most sacred principles of Victorian society, in that choosing a reputable partner was essentially the cornerstone of keeping family wealth and nobility. However, in great contrast to real Victorian morals about marriage, Gwendolyn insists that she must marry someone with the name of “Earnest” in order for him to be considered a good match, regardless of his personality or other attributes. She claims to adore the name, reasoning that a name like Earnest could only be given to a strong, confident man that would make a perfect husband. Obviously, marrying someone for something as trivial as a “good” name hardly constitutes a reason to wed. Her shallow request that she marry someone named Earnest, along with Earnest’s willingness to actually change his name just to be with her would ultimately make for the most naïve couple of the century. In this way, Wilde effectively makes a satirical statement about Victorians and their obsession with marrying into a well-known, respected family.

Another aspect of the play I found to be important was the idea of living a double life. Earnest is only Earnest when he lives in London, and he is only Uncle Jack when he visits his family in the country. He manages to keep his two identities completely separate, until Algernon shows up and ruins his illusion. To me, this separation reminded me of the “separate spheres” of men and women in the Victorian age. Women were considered dainty and dependent up until this point, and men were considered the strength and stability of the household. Wilde could be referring to this distinction, or even the distinction that existed between the traditional women and the “new” women that emerged from this time period. Thinking about Mina and Lucy as reference points, the two women displayed drastically different gender roles that ultimately challenged the idea of how a woman should live and behave.

Overall, the play’s mocking of straight-laced Victorian culture proved to be a hilarious and worthwhile endeavor. Wilde’s clever use of language, coupled with the spectacular performance delivered by the actors, grabbed my attention and held it from start to finish.

In Asimov’s work I, Robot he establishes three basic rules that are critical to the existence of all robots:

             1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

            2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law

3.     A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

These rules put robots in an inferior position, allowing humans to keep a their machines under control and in their “rightful” place. However, as we have discussed in class, the robots gradually evolve to find ways to undermine these rules. They begin to reason things out and in some ways, surpass human intelligence. What I find most interesting about these rules is that they have become such a powerful component of robot literature. After doing a little research, I discovered that Asimov himself produced later modifications to his own rules rules, and other authors have elaborated upon these rules as they incorporate them into their own works of science fiction. Asimov’s zero-th law (similar, but slightly different from his first law) states:

A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.



I found an adaptation from another author, Lyuben Dilov, who added a fouth law of robotics to his novel Icarus’s Way. This law states that:

A robot must establish its identity as a robot in all cases.


Yet another adaptation of a fourth law, by Harry Harrison:

A robot must reproduce. As long as such reproduction does not interfere with the First or Second or Third Law.


It is especially interesting to see the impact of Asimov’s imaginary rules on literature from other authors. Dilov’s law about a robot establishing its robot identity, for example, can be thought of as a lesson learned from the case of mistaken identity in I Robot. It’s almost like science fiction has an inside joke that is constantly referenced, modified, or elaborated on by various authors who want to stay true to the guidelines that Asimov essentially created in his original novel, but add their own modern twist.

    After reading about cyborgs and thinking about all the robot movies I have seen, it seems that every storyline centers on the same basic plot: First, humans in some futuristic universe or alternate dimension create machines to perform work and increase efficiency at some sort of task. After years of the machines working effectively under their human supervisors, suddenly, some freak accident happens where either humans lose control of the robots, or the robots use their superior intelligence to strike back against their human creators. The story generally involves some kind of violent struggle between humans and the terrorizing machines until one side, generally the humans, finds a way to restore order by either destroying the evil machines or subduing them.

There may be a few twists and turns along the way, but more or less, this formula for robot movies has been around for years. If the same plot has been explored time and time again, why do so many people flock to the movie theater every time the latest robot flick comes out? Perhaps some go to see the latest graphics, or to see their favorite actors. However, I think there is a deeper underlying attraction between humans and robot films.           

In most of these films, it seems the whole conflict is that humans lose control over their creations—creating chaos. As our previous class discussions this semester have shown us, the human wish for order and control runs deep. We long to organize and make sense of things, breaking complex ideas into simpler ones that we can categorize and safely shelve away in our minds. After all, if we can understand and keep order, nothing bad can happen to us. The more we order our world, the less vulnerable we are to its defects.  The real problem arises when we can’t quite stay in control. As humans, we are all bound to make mistakes and to experience failure at some point. Sometimes we forget to lock the door before we leave the house, other times we constantly misplace our cell phones. Harmless little mistakes like this seldom cause us any real harm, just a little bit of annoyance. However, when these mistakes are made around robots, beings of artificial intelligence with a strength and brain capacity greater than our own, the results can be terrifying.

The inferiority of humans to their machine creations both scares us and intrigues us. On one hand, we are shocked by the violence and destruction as a result of chaos. On the other hand, humans subconsciously wish to be objects of submission and vulnerability since they cannot express these longings in real life. When we see this sort of thing in movies, it amazes us in that it creates a hypothetical scenario where we get to set free our repressed emotions and desires. This “awe” factor never fails to bring us back to the theater to see robot movies time and time again.

Your Own Metamorphosis.

    Imagine you are getting ready for bed. After you brush your teeth, take out your contacts, wash your face, and put on your pajamas, you dive onto the blankets on your bed and wrap yourself in the warm, cozy covers. As your mind begins to wind down, you reflect on your day. Maybe you replay a scenario or memorable situation that arose in your everyday activities, or you make mental notes about what you need to do to prepare for tomorrow or the next day. Slowly, you drift off to sleep… When your alarm finally wakes you up in the morning, you attempt to spring out of bed and fumble around for the snooze button. However, no such movement actually happens. When you look down at what you would expect to be hands and feet, a different, interesting sight awaits you. You realize your body has transformed into an insect overnight.


Shock. That’s the first emotion that comes to mind. You were definitely human last night, and you had every intention of remaining human and living a normal life. There are so many questions on your mind right now and so few answers. You wonder why it was you who woke up as a beetle. Why not your mother or your sister? Is this some kind of punishment from God or is this just some weird dream where you will eventually wake up and pick your life up from where you last left it? These thoughts are good, as they indicate that you are done with shock and are now transitioning to anger.

Now it’s time to focus on being angry.  You know your boss will fire you if you ditch work, but you know you can’t go to work in your new condition, much less go out in public because it would creep the world out. Oh well, if you get fired then you get fired. You don’t need anyone, and no one needs you. Your family members can hardly stand the sight of you, and they just can’t be expected to let you crawl around the house—so they quarantine you in your bedroom.

Day after day, things start to change. Having this free time to be your new monster self feels oddly satisfying. You can crawl all over the walls and floor and relax under the bed. Instead of living by society’s schedule, you spend your time the way you want. On the other hand, you still crave love and attention from your family. You want to take pride in your job, but how can you do these things now that your life has drastically changed? You remain a prisoner to your body and your mind. Your body tells you, “Let’s be a bug!,” but your mind desperately wants you to remain human. This “disconnect,” this discrepancy between your physical and mental being, ultimately alienates you from the life you used to know and love.

Man’s Best Friend?

After reading the “Robbie” chapter of I, Robot, I started thinking about why Gloria’s mother was so upset about her daughter’s little robot friend. I know that it may have seemed a little weird that her daughter lacked the socialization skills to make friends with other kids her same age, but I think the mother’s measures to get rid of the robot were a bit drastic. She ended up lying to her child, creating a lot of tension between her and her husband, and perhaps worst of all, she robbed her daughter of her best friend. After thinking about the depth of Gloria and Robbie’s relationship, I started to wonder, is it really that weird for humans and robots to be so interconnected and close to one another? Thinking about robots as companions rather than as machines that humans create for a particular function was a bit difficult for me, I guess because I had this preconceived idea that robots were just “other”. Once I started thinking about pop culture and our obsession with robots, cyborgs, and machines in general, I came across some classic examples of some of our best friends who just so happen to be made of metal.

BFF #1


Where would Luke Skywalker be without his trendy droid sidekick? Probably somewhere stranded in a galaxy far far away. It seems that this little robot saves the day at least once in every Star Wars movie, and his loyalty to Luke is one of the most famed human-robot friendships of all time.


BFF #2


Although he sometimes (well, most times) acts like an arrogant fool, Bender remains a best friend of the rest of the Futurama cast. As a best friend to Fry especially, Bender has shown that some softer emotions reside in that robot body somewhere, underneath a few sheets of metal and buried under more sarcasm.


BFF #3



Bumblebee is not only an awesome sports car–he happens to be Sam Witwicky’s best friend, as well as his Autobot protector. He follows Sam around everywhere, whether he is protecting him from the attacking Decepticons or just seeking his company and cruising around. Either way, he wins the Best Robot Friend award.🙂

  After watching part of the Nosferatu silent film in class the other day, I decided that I really liked this adaptation and that I wanted to learn more about it. After all, it is essentially the first Dracula based movie ever made and I think it is definitely worth exploring. I looked up some famous scenes from the movie, and what I found was actually quite surprising—although this film is considered a Dracula knock-off, it seems that many of its horror elements significantly influenced the scary movies we still know and love today.

Here’s one example of a creepy coffin scene from the film:

First of all, notice the high-pitched music plays in the background as Nosferatu arises from his coffin. This shrill music is now vital to modern day horror flicks, and many movies utilize creepy music in movies to set an eerie mood right before something suddenly happens. Halloween, for example, is a terrific example of this technique. Every time we hear that creepy piano music, we automatically associate it with Michael Myers popping out from somewhere to attack someone with a kitchen knife. Similarly, the Exorcists signature theme song still sends a shiver down our spines at the beginning and end of the movie.

Another scene portrays Nosfertu’s scary shadow creeping up the stairs:

I think that the use of shadow in this scene is really what makes it so frightening, since Nosferatu’s features are really intensified when against a plain wall. We really see the point of his nose, as well as the twisted and elongated fingers and his hunched stature that gives him a signature style. The way his tall body slowly inches its way up the stairs also adds an element of suspense as he slowly reaches for the doorknob, leaving the woman to painstakingly await his entrance.

Another thing I really appreciate about film scene is the way it takes place upstairs. The woman really has no other option but to sit and wait for the monster to come after her—other than jumping out the window to escape Nosferatu. This type of “strandedness” definitely gives the film an element of submissiveness and almost paralysis that is now a main characteristic of horror movies. Nosferatu was one of the first to set up these very distinctive scary situations, and I think that it worked out so well in creating fear that modern filmmakers can only try to make their own movies quite as scary as the original horror movies like Nosferatu.

Who wouldn’t be afraid of this guy?

   In this modern age, technology is constantly changing. It seems that every time a new device makes its debut, another pops up the following week that is smoother, sleeker, and fancier. By the time you’re ready to upgrade your cell phone after a two-year contract, your phone is considered a dinosaur. When we find directions on our GPS or figure out the quickest route to the grocery store on MapQuest, we wonder how we ever navigated on our own in the first place. Technology reaches nearly every aspect of our lives—changing our definition of what it means to be at home, work, school, or anywhere else for that matter. It’s like were living in a virtual world where our social, academic, and private lives are melding into one fluid existence. Until now, humans have lived relatively structured lives in which they play different roles in different situations. Now that the barriers between these categories are quickly dissolving, are the consequences of these changes good or bad?

On one hand, this omnipresent technology keeps us in touch with others. With Facebook and other social networking sites, cell phones, and email, humans are more connected than ever before. We press a button and our cousin in New Zealand knows what we ate for dinner. We can take a picture of our pets and forward them to our entire address book to keep family and friends updated about our daily activities. We can even blog about our lives on the Internet and let the rest of cyberspace know of our ideas or our personal information.  

On the other hand, is this connectedness really a good thing? When our Facebook newsfeed is flood with status updates about their minute-by-minute existence, it often seems like we may be receiving too much information. In the past, if we wanted to know how a certain friend or relative was doing, we would write a letter or pay a visit. Since alternatives like these require a bit more effort and face-to-face communication, they happened less frequently, and we were perfectly content knowing the basics instead of the specifics. Instead of talking over a cup of coffee, people seem to favor talking over an instant message on the computer.

Even worse, the more technology advances, the more we are a slave to it. Now, we log into our email accounts and must find a way to respond 30 emails at a time. We must write three papers on the computer versus one paper with a typewriter. People feel obligated to check their phone messages constantly for school, work, and social purposes, whereas people fifteen years ago probably only used a cell phone for business calls. In a way, technology seems to dominate our existence rather than compliment it.


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