Stroop 1935 Study

Cognitive Psychology is the field of psychology that studies how the human brain works, specifically memory, emotion, and behavior. Within cognitive psychology contains the field of processing, which focuses on how the brain works to produce a response to some situation or dilemma, and interference, what factors may disrupt the ability to process.

A study that explores this is Stroop 1935, and it relates to a theory known as the Stroop Effect. The Stroop Effect relates to how a mismatch between the color of a word and the word itself may lead to a longer time to state the color of the word. For example, if the word “blue” was printed in the color red, it would take longer to identify the color of the word than if it was just printed in the color blue. This theory helps people understand how brain processing works, specifically if words and colors would be processed in different parts of the brain. In Stroop’s study, he aimed at determining whether or not a mismatch of the color of a word and the word itself had any effect in the time it took to determine the color of the word it was printed in. To achieve this, he constructed three lists of words. All of these lists contained words that were colors, but the color that the words were printed in varied. In one of the lists, all the words were printed in black ink, while in the other two lists, the ink color varied. The first of these other two lists contained words that were printed in the color that corresponded to the word. For example, the word “green” would be printed with green ink. The last list contained words that were printed in mismatched colors. For example, the word “Purple” would be printed in red. Once the lists were constructed, the subjects of this experiment, who were 14 males and 56 females, were ordered to either read the word itself (for the list containing only the words printed in black) or state the color of the word that it was printed in (for the other two lists where the words were printed in color) as quickly as they could. From here, the time it took to respond to the lists, whether they were instructed to read the words or state the color of the words, were recorded. The results of the study showed that it took a longer time for the subjects to state the color of the word or read the word when the color printed mismatched the word itself. In addition, the experimenters also observed that there were more errors when the colors were mismatched compared to if they matched. Because of this, the study concluded that the mismatch of the color did indeed have an effect on the time it took to process information about the words, and it also provided evidence that colors and words are processed in different parts of the brain.

-Jeremy L.

T. S. Eliot’s “Lovesong of J Alfred Pufrock” Analysis

Love has been a hot topic in poetry for a long time, being a common topic in poems and even used by names as big as William Shakespeare himself. T.S. Eliot, a British poet from the early 1900s, is no exception to this. In his poem, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock, the use of certain language and details throughout the stanzas of the poem helps indicate that the “You and I” mentioned at the beginning refers to Prufrock and a woman.

To start, Eliot uses the phrase “In the room the women come and go / Talking of Michelangelo” (Eliot lines 13-14 and lines 35-36) twice. The repetition of this phrase shows that women are on Prufrock’s mind, and it is something that he feels concerned over and pays attention to. Prufrock also notes that these women are talking about Michelangelo, which implies that they are talking about somebody who is very popular and prestigious: something that Prufrock is unlikely to be able to live up to. After the first time, this phrase is said in lines 13-14, Prufrock begins to talk about a yellow fog and smoke. The fact that the fog and smoke are yellow can be taken as an archetype for friendship, which may suggest that after hearing about Michelangelo, or somebody who Prufrock could never be better than, Prufrock feels that he may be seen as a friend rather than a lover, showing his loss in confidence. This same sense of lack of confidence can be seen after the second time this phrase is said in lines 35-36, where Prufrock begins to question himself about whether he should propose to this woman he is talking to, saying “‘Do I dare?’ and, ‘Do I dare?’” (Line 38). This questioning of himself represents how he feels that he may not be good enough for any woman, especially compared to the Michelangelo that these women seem to talk about. This observation followed by the loss of confidence in Prufrock implies that Prufrock refers to a woman in the phrase “you and I” through the fact that women talking about Michelangelo seems to have a genuine emotional impact on Prufrock. 

Next, Prufrock acknowledges “lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows” (Eliot line 72). Lonely men in shirt-sleeves has a very unromantic implication to it, and this unromantic way of life seems unappealing to Prufrock. This unappeal is supported by the two lines following it, stating how Prufrock feels that he “should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of the silent seas” (Eliot lines 73-74). These lines represent how Prufrock has hit a low point in life, as the floors of the sea are some of the lowest points on Earth. Such highlights how Prufrock feels very lonely and longs for some form of a romantic relationship, as the sight of the lonely men makes him feel as if he has hit rock bottom. This continues the idea that the phrase “you and I” talks about Prufrock and a woman, as a woman is the only thing that could fill this romantic void that Prufrock is experiencing.

In addition, the image of the mermaids singing in line 126 can show how Prufrock’s dream of a romantic relationship and a change in life is killed. For most, the image of a mermaid singing has a feminine aspect to it, as mermaids are typically female figures. In the line following when mermaids are first introduced, Prufrock notes “I do not think that they will sing to me” (Eliot line 127). Such implies that women do not seem to notice the presence of Prufrock and that he is of no interest to them. This observation, similar to the women talking of Michelangelo, seems to have a negative emotional effect on Prufrock, as in the last line of the poem, Prufrock says “Till human voices wake us, and we drown” (Eliot line 133), which essentially says that Prufrock’s dream has been killed. A cause-and-effect relationship is established here, where the mermaids not singing to Prufrock leads to his dream being killed. Because of this, it can be inferred that the absence of interaction with women in his life leads to Prufrock feeling meaningless and having his dream killed, implying how the “you” mentioned at the beginning refers to a woman. 

Prufrock is most likely to be referring to a woman with the use of the word “you” at the beginning of the poem due to the many hints of negative emotions caused by issues regarding women that are seen in the poem. These negative emotions could all be resolved by a drastic change in Prufrock’s life, which could include engaging in a romantic relationship or marriage with a woman. 

Romeo and Juliet: What’s in a name?

Romeo and Juliet are madly in love after meeting for just a short time and are willing to give up many valuable things in their life to be with each other, which shows how blinding falling in love can be. The two discuss what is in a name, and agree that what “we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (2:2:46-7). Romeo is a Montague, Juliet is a Capulet, and their two families have been enemies for an extensive time. If Romeo or Juliet gave up their last name, they would still be the same person, just as a rose would be just as pretty and sweet if it had a different name.

The name of an individual does not change who they are as a person. After hearing Juliet speak about her troubles and Romeo’s family name on her balcony, Romeo says, “Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized” (2:2:54). Romeo is willing to give up his family to be with Juliet, which is surprising considering he just met her and he has been with his family for years. In addition, Romeo completely forgot about Rosaline, whom he professed his love to right up until he met Juliet. Romeo would “deny thy father and refuse thy name” (2:2:36), showing that he would abandon his whole life just to marry Juliet, which is a very bold action. Romeo’s surname not only signifies his relationship with his parents and family, but also their family’s reputation, their inheritance, and personal identities. Romeo and Juliet would both be giving up more than just a name if they decided to marry each other. This decision could affect and impact their future forever.

However, both Romeo and Juliet do not understand the significance of their names as Juliet says, “What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to man” (2:2:43-5). Juliet is right that a name is not identified with certain body parts and who one is as a person. However, giving up one’s surname does impact one’s future and relationship with their family, which could, in turn, end up affecting their life together.

-Abby V.

Love, Magic, and Dreams: An analysis of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

An entertaining and humorous read, the play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare incorporates a variety of figurative language to demonstrate a number of concepts, ideas, and opinions.

To begin with, Shakespeare skillfully develops the timeless aspect of love. In the very first scene, readers are introduced to Theseus and Hippolyta planning their wedding, as Hippolyta expresses that “Four days will quickly steep themselves in night; / Four nights will quickly dream away the time” (1.1.7-8). The story of Theseus of Hippolyta is quite unique: at first, Theseus kidnapped and beat Hippolyta in battle. By introducing these enemies-turned-lovers at the beginning of the play, Shakespeare foreshadows love issues and complexes, but also suggests a happy ending. Moments later, readers learn about Hermia and Lysander’s love, despite Hermia’s father Egeus’s desire that Hermia marry Demetrius. Hermia’s friend, Helena, is already in love with Demetrius, but as Helena explains, “The more I love, the more [Demetrius] hateth me” (1.1.204). The play is mostly centralized around the loves of Demetrius, Hermia, Helena, and Lysander. Love is universal and timeless–someone from ancient Egypt would feel the same butterflies as someone in 2050. The same applies to sadness, betrayal, and jealousy, all of which are prevalent in the play. In Demetrius, Hermia, Helena, and Lysander, readers understand the timeless complicated and uncontrollable nature of love. Cleverly, Shakespeare further expands on uncontrollability when the fairy king, Oberon, sends Puck to retrieve a flower, whose juice “[w]ill make or man or woman madly dote / Upon the next live creature that it sees” (2.1.177). For the audience, the flower challenges the uncontrollability of love. Demetrius and Lysander are both affected by a simple thing as flower juice, causing them to completely change their views, dispositions, and opinions. Upon analysis, Shakespeare’s incorporation of such a magic flower, which terribly exacerbates the love complex between the characters, represents the irrational, yet consuming aspect of love. 

In addition, magic is a significant element of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, and it is not too different from love. Once again, the magical flower is a crucial symbol. Magic is often understood as the ability to do and control virtually arbitrary actions and events. As already discussed, love is a prime example of uncontrollability. With the magic flower, the fairy king and Puck are given greater power over the rest of the characters. They have a greater influence on the events that will ensue in the play. Magic’s influence is further exemplified by Puck, who turns Bottom’s head into a donkey’s head during rehearsal. Unluckily, Titania (who has been spelled with the magic flower) wakes up and instantly falls in love with Puck (3.1.131-164). This situation is especially significant in the theme of magic since it is a magical being herself (Titania, the Fairy Queen) who has fallen under a spell. First of all, the overtaking influence of magic is apparent; moreover, the influence of love is also portrayed. It can be argued that Shakespeare incorporates magic into the play to accentuate its likeness to love. Both magic and love cause troubles, yet they can both completely dominate a person’s actions and way of life.

Finally, the significance of the title  “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” must be recognized. Dreams are random, irrational, and absolutely overtake one’s mind, very similarly to love. Moreover, dreams are repeatedly mentioned throughout the play. For example, Hippolyta expresses that “Four nights will quickly dream away the time” (1.1.8). Referring to the day of her wedding, Hippolyta uses “dreams” to describe her wait. The word “dreams” has a very positive connotation. In this manner, “dreams” recur to represent fantastic events, situations, and emotions.

Clearly, Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” well incorporates figurative language to develop a multitude of themes, lessons, and ideas.

-Ayati M.

William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Significance behind the Ending of Lady or the Tiger

In 9th grade, I read Frank Stockton’s short story The Lady, or the Tiger? because it was an assignment for English class. The story leaves off with a cliffhanger with two possible outcomes and whatever outcome shows a theme that is inherent in our lives.

From what I remember about the story, the princess was caught being in love with a man who sincerely loves her. However, he has no royal blood, which infuriated her father, the semi-barbaric king. He puts the man through a trial where he would have to choose one of two doors in front of him. One of the doors holds a beautiful lady in which he would have to marry the exact moment he chooses the door, a lady that lives at the palace and the princess hates. The other holds a tiger that has been starved and is looking for a hefty meal. A large audience gathered to witness the man’s fate, the princess forced to watch from her throne above. But she knows exactly what is in which door through bribery. The man she loves turned to her and after some moments of thinking, she flickers her hand to a direction, signalling a door. The man confidently walks up to that door but in the end, it is up to the reader to know which door he actually went into.

But of course the princess told the man to go to the door that held the lady, right? This is the man that she loves and someone she genuinely cared about. The man will be forced to marry this woman she doesn’t like and he won’t love the woman as much as he loves her. But circumstances of that situation would lead to her seeing her lover with another woman at all times. Not only would he be with woman she hates, they would both see each other all the time with the knowledge of the marriage between them. They are in love with each other and there was no doubt about that but they can’t be together because it was forbidden. They are so close to each other, yet so far. Perhaps, he may fall in love with the woman he was tied to be with because all of the private time they have together.

But even with those consequences, she will still rather see her lover everyday than see him eaten alive by a tiger, right? If she signalled for him to be eaten by the tiger, she would be stuck with the knowledge that his death was her doing. The guilt will consume her, she killed the man she loved, and perhaps will turn her into a hollowed version of herself before the trial took place. Though that may be true, the king was said to have semi-barbaric traits. Symbolically, could those traits have passed down to his daughter? Perhaps, she is selfish and she wants all of the man’s love only for her. Perhaps the tiger appealed more to the princess because it ends a cycle of life. Sure, this man is one that she loves but the thought of violence could attract her even more because of her implied barbarism. She has this man’s fate wrapped around his finger and whatever she choose, he will go to confidently because he knows her and trusts her decision, no matter what it is.

There are many themes in this story that could be applied to reality but what I would like to discuss is the theme of fate. The king in his story put this man on trial but even he doesn’t know what is in each door and he doesn’t care what this man gets because in one way or another, it is his punishment. My 9th English teacher called him a symbol of god or the universe in a way, a person who doesn’t care about our meager lives until we have done something that not only affect them but angers them. Ultimately, our fate is decided by them but our will is not. It is decided by ourselves which door we choose to go to, whether we listen to the princess we love on which door to go to or not. The man knows all about his lover’s nature and yet chooses to go into the door she instructs him to go to. He didn’t choose to be on trial but he is going to choose what door he goes into. He is choosing the way he wants the rest of his life to go, though he was put into this predicament that the universe/God/someone else had put him into. We are put into hard situations all the time by someone else but ultimately, it is in our hands the way we decide how we must deal with it. Do we ignore it? Do we push through its obstacles? Do we give up? Whatever occurs next would be our decision, whether we would want to accredit ourselves with this information or not.

(I can’t claim credit for most of the information presented; it came from the knowledge of my 9th English teacher.)

-Saanvi V.

Are Jim and Della from “The Gift of the Magi” richer before or after their gift exchange?

Belonging to the genre of dramatic irony, the short story “The Gift of the Magi” by O’Henry narrates the tale of Della and Jim, who have become richer in affection after their gift exchange. The protagonists choose to give up their most valuable belongings with the intentions to give the perfect gifts to each other, which have been rendered useless. However, Della and Jim gain something more valuable in their relationship than either of their possessions.

When she wants to make more money to buy a nice gift for her husband, Della asks, “‘Will you buy my hair?’” (3). Because Della is willing to give up her most precious possession, the immense love she feels for her husband is depicted. Furthermore, Della’s feelings are mutual as Jim ends up selling his cherished watch to buy combs for Della.

At first glance, the exchange seems to be inconsequential since the gifts are now unusable, but a shift in the conflict is noted when “Of all who give gifts, these two were the most wise. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are the most wise” (4). By sacrificing their most precious belongings, Jim and Della prove to each other that they have deep affection for one another, which is why they are referred to as the magi. There is no materialistic gift that would have such great meaning as the gifts of Della and Jim; therefore, they are much richer than they were before the gift exchange.

-Ayati M.

The American Dream in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby (Vintage Classics): Fitzgerald, F. Scott, Grisham, John:  9780593312919: Books

In the decade after the end of the Great War, the world was in shambles. Though relatively untouched by the devastation, America, along with the rest of the world, experienced a reactionary period against the brutal war, during which materialism flourished alongside the economy. The result was an era known as the Roaring Twenties, a cultural revolution that emphasised entertainment rather than functionality.

However, this veneer of excitement was underscored by the most important idea of the time – the American dream, the idea that all people have equal opportunities in life. Unfortunately, as people soon realised, the American dream was just that – a dream. The following disillusionment with society and life was reflected in the modernist works of the time, arguably the most significant of which was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Nick Carraway, a young man from Chicago, moves to the “new-money” district of West Egg in New York, hoping to become a bondsman. Instead, he finds himself reconnecting with his “old-money” cousins in East Egg, Tom and Daisy Buchanan, as well as befriending the mysterious and even wealthier Jay Gatsby. The tale of Gatsby’s fabulous parties on the Long Island Sound is underscored by Gatsby’s obsession with his old love, who turns out to be Daisy Buchanan. Over the course of the novel, Gatsby uses Nick to reconnect with Daisy, but it is when Gatsby is closer than ever to achieving his dream that it is all torn away from him, and Fitzgerald’s message of the unattainability of the American dream shines through. 

This theme appears in various other characters as well, most notably in George and Myrtle Wilson. George, a destitute auto shop owner, dreams of running a successful business and of having a woman who loves him. He is foiled in the former because though he dreams of selling Tom’s blue coupé, Tom’s reluctance to sell it to him leaves him despairing for the future. He is also let down in the latter, considering that his wife, Myrtle, is Tom’s mistress. She, in turn, dreams of marrying Tom and therefore ascending to the upper class, but her hopes are fatally crushed in the novel’s chilling climax.

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald writes his characters to each reflect a different section of society that aspires to achieve the American dream, ultimately concluding that no such thing exists or is attainable. Interestingly, the novel’s focus on the detrimental effects of materialistic culture and the relentless pursuit of the American dream lends itself to foreshadowing the Great Depression, which only proves Fitzgerald’s claim – the American dream is dead.

– Mahak M.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Books For School vs. For Fun

Having just finished my first book for my senior English class, it got me thinking about why people have such a hard time reading books they are required to for classes. As an avid reader, I always find it a struggle to get my school reading done, even though I like the act of reading. I think the real issue I have with it is that I feel that it takes my time away from my personal reading. It also creates for less room about what impact the book had. 

When I am reading for school, it is usually a book that I don’t get to pick and everyone else in my class is reading as well. It feels like there is less room for discussion because all the students feel like they are supposed to have the same opinions. When reading books for fun, there is more room for people to share their thoughts on the book. Not everyone reads or interprets the same way, however when reading school books, everyone feels like they have to be the same. 

With school books, I also feel like I have less time for my personal reading which causes me to feel less inspired to read. I do believe that reading both for school and for fun can be something that is beneficial. Though it might be hard to read when it is not something we can do for fun, there is still a lot that can be learned from the reading we do in school. It might not be the most enjoyable use of our time, but it is something that we can discuss and learn from.

-Danielle B.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: The Importance of Companionship

This post assumes you have already read Of Mice and Men as it contains spoilers.

John Steinbeck’s social realism novella Of Mice and Men portrays the necessity for companionship in one’s life, especially migrant workers during the Great Depression. For instance, when Carlson kills Candy’s dog, the men feel anxious about how Candy will react while Candy feels helpless that he has lost his only companion which illustrates the need for friendship between individuals.

Typical migrant workers do not spend the day socializing, but rather traveling from place to place to earn money. They then spend it in foolish ways as they have no future which shows the significant need for fellowship in these particular individuals. Candy for instance had the companionship of his dog but was then pressured into allowing Carlson to kill it as it had no purpose due to old age. While his dog is being shot, Candy is “staring” at the ceiling and then “rolled slowly over and faced the wall and lay silent” after the “shot sounded in the distance” (49). Candy feels depressed, hopeless, and wishes to mourn in private. With the death of his dog, he has no family or friends left and it can be difficult not having someone to confide in or provide for. Even the rest of the men in the room are anxious as George “rippled the edge of the deck nervously” (49). This reveals that they feel guilty as they know life can be harsh without a companion. For example, George and Lennie have each other to keep them sane and they have a future together. The “silence” (49) in the room shows the situation is uncomfortable between all of the men. Candy is now all alone and does not have anybody.

Having no one to turn to in life’s hardest moments can have a severe impact on one’s mental health. People’s purpose in life and their health are defined based on the companionships they form.

-Abby V.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.

Revisiting Harry Potter

If you are a teenager today, you have either read some or all of the Harry Potter series or you have seen the Harry Potter movies. Today, the novels gave way to a Universal Studios theme park, endless merchandise, and now a Broadway play. Why was this possible and why should you go back and read the series if you haven’t read the whole thing in its entirety?

The Harry Potter movies did not do the books justice, so if you enjoyed the movies even a tiny bit, you will thoroughly enjoy the books. The series begins with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It is not that this book is just easy to read. It is the longest book you will read in the shortest time. All of the series is like this, but the speed with which you will go through this book leaves you surprised and wanting more. The world is established, the characters are introduced, the reality that exists within the Harry Potter realm are all really well done in a super easy, accessible read.

You cannot stop at one book, nor should you read just a few and decide it is enough. There are seven titles, and you should read them all if you enjoy the first book. It is entertaining, intertwined, and really clever to stay with the series through the end. The titles go like this: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (called the Philosopher’s Stone in most other countries) (1), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (3), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (4), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (5), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (6), and finally Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (7).

There is an eighth book of sorts that gave way to a play I saw on stage when my family traveled to London three years ago: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The play is basically a 5 hour play and you can choose to watch it all in one day or over the course of two days as two regular length plays. We saw it over the course of two days and that was the right choice. Each play can stand alone and the stage, actors, dialog, and music are all made better if you have read the series. You won’t pick up all of the nuances if you have only seen the movies. You do not have to read this book before the play, in fact, this is one I would suggest to read after.

No matter your age, this series is one to go back to if you skipped it. If you are bored, there is plenty here to keep you entertained and reading.

-Preston v.

The Harry Potter series is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.