Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels/Literature: Jonathan Swift, a satirical author, was born in Dublin, Ireland on the 30th of November in 1667. He advanced to Trinity College, obtaining a bachelor of arts degree, and achieved a master of arts degree at Oxford University. During his life, Swift wrote multiple literary works, including Gulliver’s Travels, his most famous novel. The plot follows Lemuel Gulliver, a sailor who shipwrecks and winds up in a mysterious place called Lilliput, which is inhabited by six-inch tall Lilliputians. After peeing on the empress’ palace to stop a fire, Gulliver hears that he will be prosecuted for treason, so he flees the island. Gulliver’s Travels is important, as it reveals Swift’s disapproving view of society in 17th century England. It highlights the flaws and imperfections humans possess, such as a lack of common sense and decency, through its characters. Additionally, Swift’s use of irony and satire discloses his belief that man should have an even balance of rationalism and emotionalism (“Jonathan’).
Matthew Arnold, “Dover Beach”/Literature: Matthew Arnold, a critic, and poet, was born in 1822 on the 24th of December in Laleham, England. Arnold proceeded to the University of Oxford, attaining the Prize of Newdigate with a poem titled Cromwell and graduating with second class honors in 1844. To fund his marriage, Arnold took the role of a school inspector, working until before a short time of his death. Arnold wrote many poems during his life, and his most celebrated work was “Dover Beach.” Written in 1867, it initially follows a man illuminating the beauty of the sea, but then transforms into an existential crisis regarding a loss of faith. This poem is important, as it reflects the changing views of the world since the establishment of intellectual advances such as sociology and evolution. It raises the question of whether or not religion or scientific phenomena are responsible for the world. Also, it addresses complications and skepticism regarding the church in the 19th century (“Matthew”; “Dover”).
Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley/History: Hugh Latimer was a religious reformer in England who was born in 1485 in Thurcaston, England. He went to Cambridge University, where he officially became a priest. After he encountered Thomas Bilney, Latimer converted to Protestantism and began speaking out against the catholic church. He is important because he played a role in the conversion of many Catholics by preaching to large crowds, and he was burned at the stake with Nicholas Ridley as martyrs by Queen Mary (“Hugh”). Also a protestant reformer, Nicholas Ridley was born in 1500 in South Tynedale, England. He attended Pembroke Hall, where he became a priest. After studying and sympathizing with Protestant doctrines, Ridley joined Thomas Cranmer in starting a reformist movement. He is important because he supported Lady Jane Grey, a protestant, to inherit the throne, and was burned at the stake by Queen Mary as a result (“Nicholas”).
William Blake, “The Tyger”/Literature: Born on November 28, 1757, in London, England, William Blake was an artist and poet. As a child, Black wanted to go to art school but was apprenticed to James Basire due to financial issues. During his apprenticeship, Blake learned many techniques and skills regarding engraving and architecture. Besides engraving, Blake also had an interest in poetry, composing “The Tyger,” one of his most celebrated poems (“William”). It depicts nature, showing the difference between innocence and savagery, and contrasting with one of his previous poems titled “The Lamb.” In “The Tyger,” a tiger is characterized as a primal beast, hiding in the shadows. This poem is important, as Blake uses a tiger and a lamb to symbolize his views on humanity. The tiger represents humanity’s vitality and passion, while the lamb represents humanity’s favorable, but uninspired attitude. The juxtaposition of a tiger and a lamb symbolizes an equilibrium of the characteristics found in humans (“William”; “The Tyger”).
Benjamin Franklin/History: Benjamin Franklin was born in the city of Boston on the 17th of January in the year 1706. When he was young, Franklin had an interest in prose, reading Richard Steele’s works, which inspired him and helped him improve his efforts. Franklin drafted many works, including a pamphlet titled, A Dissertation on Liberty and Necessity, which was a philosophical work that discussed human morality and actions. Franklin’s importance is credited to his discoveries regarding electricity, such as classifying conductors and insulators and coming up with multiple new words. His first and most famous experiment involved flying a kite during a thunderstorm, where he displayed the concept of electricity. In addition to his advancements in science, Franklin was also a prominent figure in American politics. He is viewed as one of America’s Founding Fathers due to his collaboration in composing the Declaration of Independence and participation in the Constitutional Convention. Through his efforts, America was able to become a free country (“Benjamin”).
Tower of Babel/Biblical: In the Bible, the Tower of Babel was a building that began construction in Babylonia. It is present in the book of Genesis 11:1-9 and is used as an explanation for the multitude of different human languages. In the story, the Babylonians strived to be equal to God, so they built a tower with the intention to reach him. God stopped the construction of the tower by altering the workers’ languages, making them unable to understand one another. Due to this complication, the construction of the Tower of Babel was never finished. This is important because it explains the reason why there are so many languages around the world. It also demonstrates that humanity will never be comparable to God, no matter how hard it tries (“Tower”).
Old and New Testaments/Biblical: The Old Testament is the first half of the Bible, and contains 39 books in Protestant churches, 46 in Roman Catholicism, and 24 in the Hebrew original. In Judaism, the Old Testament is a guide on how to lead a moral life, and the Jews believe they are considered God’s chosen people. Christians, however, view the Old Testament as prophecies of the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (“Old”). The New Testament is the second half of the Bible and contains 27 books. It is separated into the categories of the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles the Epistles, and prophecy. The Gospels recount Jesus’ life and what he taught, the Acts describe the spread of Christianity by Jesus’ disciples, the Epistles discuss the meaning of the Christian faith, and the prophecy predicts the future and what will happen. The books of the New Testament are not arranged in chronological order (“New,” Brittanica).
Book of Job/Biblical: Job was a wealthy Edomite patriarch who was very religious. Because of this, he was rewarded with prosperity and joy. One day Satan comes and tests Job’s faith, wanting to see if it is out of self-interest or not, and attempts to make Job curse God. Job refuses, and Satan takes all of his wealth, children, and well-being. Trusting God, Job waits out this time of ruin, and he is eventually revitalized with double his original belongings. This book of the Bible reveals that one should never doubt God, as he will bless you for your patience and faith. In the story, Job never loses faith in God, always believing that he will somehow bring him out of despair. As a result, he is greatly rewarded and lives a long and prosperous life (“Biblical”).
Book of Ecclesiastes/Biblical: Ecclesiastes is a book of the Bible, located within the Old Testament. It is placed in the Ketuvim section and contains many words of wisdom. Although the author of this book is unknown, many speculate it to be Solomon, the son of King David. Ecclesiastes highlights multiple themes, including life and time. The overall message of the book is that everyone should enjoy the good things of life while they can, as death will eventually come. This is important, as it encourages people to live more in the moment, and discourages worrying or doubt. Ecclesiastes also reinforces the fact that one should put their trust in God, as he will guide one’s fate (“Ecclesiastes”).
Book of Revelations: “the tree of life”/Biblical: Revelations is the last book of the New Testament in the Bible.. It was written by John, and in it, his visions are described, foretelling future events, including the end of the world. The triumph of God over Satan is also symbolized by the resistance of Christians against persecution through time (“Revelation”). This conflict between holy and evil powers will result in a world based on the “tree of life” (“New,” The Books). The Tree of Life originated in the book of Genesis, along with the Tree of Knowledge. Ingesting the fruit from the Tree of Life would grant immortality while devouring from the Tree of Knowledge would grant awareness of shame and sin. Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and before they could eat the fruit of the Tree of Life, God cast them out of the Garden of Eden. This is significant as if Adam and Eve had eaten the Tree of Life’s fruit, their descendants and future generations would be immortal (“Trees”).
Salamanders myth/legend/Mythological: Salamanders are amphibians with smooth skin that live in Central America (Cohn). In Persian, the word “salamander” roughly translates to “lives in the fire.” In 400-300 BCE, it was first proposed by Aristotle that salamanders were resistant to fire and lived in them. A few hundred years later, Pliny the Elder threw one of these creatures into the fire, resulting in its death. However, the myth was not extinguished, and it continued to spread through time. During the Renaissance, the famous artist/scientist Leonardo da Vinci also played a part in kindling the myth, stating that salamanders ate fire instead of food. This myth was so prevalent that people started using the word to relate to fire. For example, asbestos were referred to as “salamander wool,” as they were fire repellant (Hansen).
Phoenix myth/legend/Mythological: The phoenix is a mythological bird-like creature that originated in ancient Egypt. It was described as the size of an eagle and had red and gold feathers. Ancient Egyptians viewed the phoenix as a symbol of immortality due to how its life cycle operated. When a phoenix was nearing the end of its life, it would burn itself in a bundle of branches and spices. Then, a new phoenix would emerge from the fire, taking the previous phoenix’s ashes to Heliopolis, the City of the Sun. The phoenix is viewed differently in other cultures. In Rome, the phoenix represents resurrection after death, and in Islamic beliefs, it was a bird killed due to its perfection (“Phoenix”).
- ‘Jonathan Swift.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 15 Nov. 2017. Web. Accessed 13 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Dover Beach.’ Poetry for Students, edited by Marie Rose Napierkowski and Mary Ruby, vol. 2, Gale, 1998, pp. 51-62. Gale eBooks, Web. Accessed 13 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Matthew Arnold.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 23 Mar. 2012. Web. Accessed 13 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Hugh Latimer.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 7 Dec. 2019. Web. Accessed 13 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Nicholas Ridley.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 7 Dec. 2019. Web. Accessed 13 Jan. 2020.
- ‘William Blake.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 11 Oct. 2007. Web. Accessed 13 Jan. 2020.
- ‘The Tyger.’ Poetry for Students, edited by Marie Rose Napierkowski and Mary Ruby, vol. 2, Gale, 1998, pp. 261-276. Gale eBooks, Web. Accessed 13 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Benjamin Franklin.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 21 Mar. 2018. Web. Accessed 14 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Tower of Babel.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 31 Dec. 2014. Web. Accessed 14 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Old Testament.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 12 Oct. 2017. Web. Accessed 14 Jan. 2020.
- ‘New Testament.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 12 Oct. 2017. Web. Accessed 14 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Biblical literature.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 23 Jul. 2018. Web. Accessed 14 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Ecclesiastes.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 7 Dec. 2019. Web. Accessed 15 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Revelation to John.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 21 Sep. 2018. Web. Accessed 15 Jan. 2020.
- ‘The New Testament.’ The Books of the Bible, edited by Bernhard W. Anderson, vol. 2: The Apocrypha and the New Testament, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1989, pp. -381. Gale eBooks, Web. Accessed 15 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Trees in Mythology.’ Myths and Legends of the World, edited by John M. Wickersham, Macmillan Reference USA, 2000. Gale In Context: Middle School, Web. Accessed 15 Jan. 2020.
- ‘Phoenix.’ Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2 Jul. 2010. Web. Accessed 16 Jan. 2020.
- Cohn, Jeffrey P. ‘Meet the salamander.’ Americas, Nov.-Dec. 1993, p. 3. Gale General OneFile, Web. Accessed 17 Jan. 2020.
- Hansen, Regina. ‘Meet the salamander.’ Dig Into History, July-Aug. 2017, p. 22+. Gale General OneFile, Web. Accessed 17 Jan. 2020.