Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Tennis Court Oath, By Jacques-Louis David

The main focus of Jacques-Louis David’s painting, The Tennis Court Oath, is the man standing atop a table in the center of the scene with his right arm raised calmly into the air. Not only is he standing above everyone, but his actual hand is the only thing at that viewing level. His high raised hand signifies the great importance of the oath the he is taking. This man is the leader of the group; this is obvious because everyone else’s arm is in the air, but they are all raised towards him. The people look up to him and raise their arms proudly and strongly as they follow him in taking the oath. This goes to show these men firmly believe in standing for their people and that what they want most is reform. The excitement they show in the picture goes to show the coming of a revolution. People’s faces are excited and enthusiastic. This is metaphorically represented in the top left corner. The windows are open and the curtains are blowing up to show the movement in the wind, the “change” that is coming with the wind.
The Tennis Court Oath depicts actual the meeting of the Third Estate on the tennis courts of Versailles on June 20, 1789. After being locked out of the palace, members of the Third Estate decided that their allegiance was not to the king, but to the people. The Third Estate vowed to stay together until they were able to comprise a constitution. This meeting caused a stir in France and spread the idea of revolution, and eventually led to the French Revolution. The members of the Third Estate featured in the picture went on to form the National Assembly and were the heart and soul of the French Revolution. Without their efforts and dedication the corrupt French Monarchy could never have been overthrown. Jacques-Louis David depicts the revolutionary scene of the Third Estate’s meeting in The Tennis Court Oath. His painting spread ideas of change and revolution.
This sketch is a perfect example of persistence and dedication to a cause or effort. This type of persistence and dedication is specific to the making of a revolution. Without it the French Revolution, or any revolution for that matter, could never have come to be. The Tennis Court Oath shows that even if a corrupt and powerful authority tries to diminish your efforts, that persistence and dedication to your cause pays off. That is exactly what happened for the French and that is what the artist, Jacques-Louis David is trying to show. 

Dr. Seuss's The Butter Battle Book

In The Butter Battle Book, author and illustrator, Dr. Seuss, uses his unique drawing style to help tell his tail. His illustrations throughout the book add an extra level and depth to the story that his words and clever rhymes do not. First depicted on page 2 and then all throughout the book, is the towering stone wall that divides the two very similar towns of the Yooks and the Zooks, which have very differing opinions. This long winding wall is used to mimic to Berlin wall. On page 5 and then again on page 7 propaganda posters are hung. The first is hung in the home of a Zooks, which are recognized by their orange jumpsuits, as opposed to the blue-wearing Yooks. It reads “Butter Side Down!” promoting the way in which Zooks butter their bread, unlike the Yooks who butter their bread side up. The poster on page 7 reads “Yooks are Not Zooks. Keep Your Butter Side Up!” and is hung on the Yook side of the wall. It’s written in large bold black text above an outstretched blue (Yook) hand holding a piece of bread buttered side up. As the story progresses and the protagonist (Grandfather and the Yooks) and the antagonist (VanItch and the Zooks) engage in a heated arms race. Each one trying to outdo the other in weaponry and power (shown through military rank and uniform). The idea of an arms race, like that of the Cold War, relates directly to the central theme of the book. In the end of the book both Grandfather and VanItch stand atop the wall that divides both their people, each holding a Big-Boy Boomeroo, a small device similar to an atomic bomb. Each are threatening to drop it (seen below), but the books concludes as a mystery to whomever drops it first. “‘Grandpa!’ I shouted. ‘Be careful! Oh, gee! Who’s going to drop it? Will you...? Or will he...?’ ‘Be patient,’ said Grandpa. ‘We’ll see. We will see...’” The book concludes with a steadfast, both sides too stubborn to give up. The reader has no inclination to who will drop the bomb or even if a bomb will be dropped. This suspense is pertinent to the message of the book, which is to highlight the outrageous and silliness of the story’s conflict.
(Yooks and Zooks at a steadfast at the conclusion of the book.)

The Butter Battle Book, written in 1984, is a direct response to the Cold War, especially to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Through his illustrations and rhymes Seuss expresses how he believes these events are stupid and foolish. He even mocks propaganda and the ridiculous level that stubbornness can go to. Seuss uses which side bread should be buttered on as a representative of the real life conflict between Communism and Democracy. This is done to show the triviality and stupidity of their differences and disagreements. The arms race ending in nuclear weapons mirrors the Cuban Missile Crisis. The book ends with the two opposing sides come to a steadfast, neither side dropping their “atomic bomb”, but threatening to, which is exactly what happened in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Dr. Seuss shows a different side of persistence and dedication in the Butter Battle Book. It is a more negative one than in The Tennis Court Oath. Here, persistence and dedication represent a more stubborn foolish type, which in turn has the possibility of leading towards extreme violence and massive destruction. Dr. Seuss tries to show just how dangerous persistence and dedication can become when they are dragged out to extreme levels and there is no sort of compromise. When the only thing that matters is the goal and nothing else, no matter what the cost, persistence and dedication turn from noble and quality characteristics, to deadly weapons, capable of destruction a “Big-Boy Boomeroo” or atomic bomb is.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"Americans will always fight for liberty"

This American World War II propaganda poster first published in 1943, features the saying “American will always fight for liberty” in the lower center of the poster. “Americans” is written in bold blue and all caps locks and below in somewhat smaller but darker blue writing is “will always fight for liberty” and the “always” is underlined to stress the importance. The “Americans” is written so largely in order to catch the viewer’s attention, because that is who the poster is addressing, Americans. It does this also by the American flag arm patch on the soldier’s uniform sleeve and by the old flag standing in the background. On the left and darker side more towards the back stand American soldiers from 1778. They stand strongly in rows, firmly holding their guns, looking on proudly and confidently, and with their legs shoulder’s width apart. By showing American Revolution soldiers who gave their lives to fight for freedom and liberty, it shows fighting for liberty as an American duty. Also by showing the old American flag it shows how as Americans we originated from this dedication to liberty. On the right, the soldiers of World War II march in unison in a line slightly closer to the viewer. By walking together it represents how Americans are united towards a single cause, liberty. They hold their guns firmly in their right hands, just like the soldiers before them (those of the American Revolution), with their heads turned towards the other soldiers as if for guidance.
Like many propaganda posters during World War II, this poster increased nationalism and sparked patriotism in civilians. It also creates a subtle urge for the viewer to enlist in the United States armed forces. Its creator uses the American idea of the importance of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” from the Declaration of Independence through his idea of American “always fighting for liberty” since America was founded. It adds to this idea by using American Revolution soldiers as an example of the American pursuit of liberty. The goal of the poster is to persuade Americans to unite in order to instill liberty. In order to do this, it makes it seem necessary to fight against the enemies of America, those who do not believe in liberty, or else there would be no need to fight them. This poster and many like it were used by the US government during World War II in order to get civilians involved in the war. It didn’t matter if you fought in the war or not, although most did, because World War II was a total war, it affected everyone. Posters like this, that got civilian involvement in the war is what made that possible.
This World War II propaganda poster represents another angle of persistence and dedication, patriotism. The patriotism this poster promoted is a perfect example of civilian persistence and dedication to their country and this nationalism promoting poster spread these ideas. It did this by depicting American dedication and persistence towards a certain uniting cause, the pursuit of liberty, and then calling out at Americans to ensure the persistence and dedication.