“Something Like Happy” Book Discussion and Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes Themed Recipe

Annie is a depressed thirty-something loner who just wants to get through another day at her awful office job, then to the hospital to visit her mother with dementia, and then back to her tiny, damp flat and avoid her happy gay Greek roommate to watch more TV doctor dramas, only to wake up the next day to her same, empty routine. She never expected Polly, a vivacious blonde about the same age with a brain tumor which she’s named Bob, to shove her way into Annie’s life with a chocolate cupcake and an absurd 100 days of happiness challenge. Polly is a regular at the hospital where Annie visits her mother, and has the surly, Scottish Dr. Max who lives on Twix bars show her that Polly’s tumor means she only has about three months left to live. So live each day she will, even if it means jumping in fountains, having a nude portrait done, or adopting a puppy from a terrifying man. Polly has no fear or hardly even any inhibitions, which is perfect for the reticent Annie, who has long needed to stop crying over her life’s tragedies and letting those define all that she is. With Polly’s help, her brother George, the roommate, and even the cautious Dr. Max, Annie and Polly begin an adventure toward 100 days of happiness, even in small ways, and even when chased by the greatest griefs a person can experience. Something Like Happy is uproariously funny and heart-wrenchingly tragic, inspiring tears and laughter, and encouraging us all to find small ways to make ourselves, and those we’re accustomed to not even see, somewhat happier.

  1. Why was the “most dangerous London pest” the person who made eye contact and spoke to people on the bus, or even the homeless man on the street, like Polly did? How did these actions/mentalities reflect each woman’s perspective on life at the beginning of the book?

  2. How was Polly given an “amazing opportunity” by not having to deal with “any of that rubbish we spend our time on—bills, pensions, going to the gym”? Why were those rubbish to her? What things might be to you if you had a brain tumor? Do we waste too much time on those or similar things?

  3. What do you think of Polly’s statement “lottery winners go back to the same levels of happiness as before they’ve won. And people in serious accidents do too, once they’ve adjusted to their changed lives. Happiness is a state of mind.”

  4. Polly made Annie a list of “ten things to do at lunchtime within ten minutes from your office: yoga, a singing group, a street market.” Which things did she do, and why? What things could you do at lunch to make your workday more enjoyable, or even happy?

  5. Why did Polly choose Annie to try her happiness experiment on?

  6. Why did Polly’s friends treat her differently, more as if she’d break? Why did that bother her? How had Annie also lost all of her friends?

  7. What happened when annie and Dr. Max tried to return the puppy to a big, burly man?

  8. What was Annie’s tragic, “most pathetic” story, and how had she come to be in the situation she as in?

  9. Would you think it would make any difference to most people living their lives if they were reminded, as Polly said, that they were going to one day? What if they finally realized it and let it sink in? Would some people change some things about their lives? What would you change?

  10. Even though his sister was dying, and prompting everyone to go live their best life and not settle, how was George settling with a bad relationship, and why?

  11. Why did Polly cry about her husband instead of about her cancer when she found out the diagnosis about it?

  12. What were some of the similarities between Polly and Annie?

  13. Why did an ex-coworker come to see Polly, convinced at the eleventh hour that the cure for her cancer was avoiding “meat, sugar, alcohol, gluten, and all additives”? What made people like that think they could show up to see Polly now, now that she was finally dying, and why did making Polly’s tragedy her fault make them feel safer? Why did it make Valerie furious?

  14. Why did people like Polly or Annie live “in London, where we work just to pay for travel and rent on horrible damp flats on the tenth floor? Is that why Dr. Max appreciated his home in the country so much, in Scotland?

  15. Why did it mean so much to the homeless man outside the hospital that Annie talked to him like a person?

Right after Annie meets Polly, Polly asks her if she likes cake and offers her a cupcake, with wavy chocolate frosting. Again later, Annie offers a piece of cake to Johnny, the homeless man who lives outside the hospital. She notes that “Cake was a small thing, in the scheme of things, but she knew from her first meeting with Polly that it was still something.” And Dr. Max was often found at the vending machine with a Twix, sometimes one in each hand. To combine the chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and Twix candy bars, I created a recipe for:

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate and Caramel Frosting

*You can use store-bought or homemade caramel sauce. Homemade is best, and some great recipes for it can be found on the Sally’s Baking Addiction or Tasty Kitchen websites.

Other authors mentioned in the book are Wordsworth, Coleridge, and the book Man’s Search for Meaning.

Furiously Happy is a hilarious memoir by Jenny Lawson about living with depression and yet still trying to live your best life. Jenny Lawson’s books are notorious for blending wit, outrageous circumstances, and and tragedy into one moving story.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a hilarious, awkward contemporary novel about an introvert with a tragic history who begins to make some necessary, positive changes in her life, including her gut-busting first time getting waxed at salon, and learning how to even get along with coworkers.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a contemporary fiction about and old man whose wife has died and feels he has nothing to live for, until an obnoxiously needy yet bossy pregnant neighbor and her family move in next door and save him many times over.

“It was always comforting to see there were people who’d made worse decisions than she had.”

“That’s my brain tumor. I call it Bob.”

“My life, or what’s left of it, is now intensely concentrated, thanks to Bob..And I plan to make the absolute most of it.”

“I wish I’d come here once a week and just looked at this [painting]…but instead I just looked at lots of stupid things—work colleagues I hated and the inside of dirty trains and stupid internet stories about which celebrities got fat…I wasted all that time.”

“It’s normal, this kind of up and down. It’s all the emotions, hitting her at once like a wave. Trying to live your hardest at the same time you’re dying. The old rules don’t apply anymore. You just have to strap in for the ride.”

“People can keep going for a long, long time on autopilot. Hope is the last thing to die.”

“Do you realize you’re going to die? Maybe not today or tomorrow but one day…Let it sink in. Wouldn’t you drop everything and do the one thing you’d always dreamed of?”

“I wanted my life to mean something now, not just after I die.”

“That was what death meant. It meant it was too late for everything.”

“Sometimes our brain can’t take in the biggest thing. It sort of masks it, to protect us. I once cried for three hours because I couldn’t find my left shoe.”

“They’re sort of thrilled by it. Terrified it might happen to them, relieved that it isn’t. It’s voyeurism, really. And if they can think of a way it might be my own fault, that makes them feel safer.”

“You’re the brave one. You’ve had to live with the worst pain I can imagine. One that positive thinking and yoga could never touch. And you’re still going…That’s bravery. That’s a battle…You were swimming against the current, every day.”

“You talked to me. Like I was a person. That means more than you know.”

Some Common Logical Fallacies (and How They Corrupt Reasoned Debate)

In simple terms, logical fallacies are errors in reasoning which lead to false conclusions. If they go unrecognized and unchallenged, they corrupt rational thinking and reasoned debate.

Sometimes these errors of thinking occur by mistake. Humans are pattern–seeking beings. We tend to see patterns even when there are none.

  • For instance, people looked up into the sky and saw a random array of stars and decided it looked like a dipper.
  • Another example is a misunderstanding of mathematics and science, particularly probability. Coincidences may be far more common than people think.

Other times, charlatans deliberately use tricks to sell lies. Their reasoning seems to make sense, but you could be conned if you cannot see the logical fallacies in their statements.

Here are some of the logical fallacies you are likely to encounter most often. There are so many logical fallacies that I didn’t have space for all of them.

This one may be the most common one of all. Someone will attempt to refute a statement by attacking the person who made the statement.

  • Sometimes the attacker will just hurl insults. The person under attack will have his intelligence insulted—he will be called stupid, a moron, a dupe, a fool, etc.
  • Or maybe the attacker will engage in character assassination. The person under attack will be called corrupt, racist, a well-known liar, etc.
  • In political discussions, the word “fascist” is bandied about, and it is most often used inappropriately. The attacker probably doesn’t even know what fascist means– all he knows that it is an emotionally-loaded term with negative connotations.

Note: It does not matter if the person is being accurately described—perhaps he really is a moron, or a scoundrel, or a fascist. And it does not mean that we should not consider the trustworthiness of the source of a claim. However, it is important to realize that the claim itself is NOT being addressed in ad-hominem attacks. A “bad” person may be making a true claim.

“Guilt by association” is another ad-hominem approach. A good example of this was one of the attempts to smear Barack Obama during his 2008 campaign for president. Obama was attacked for having had a prior association with Bill Ayers, a man who was a member of the Weather Underground in the 1970’s, but in 2008 he was a solid citizen and businessman The argument went that since Ayers had once committed a terrorist act and since he had once hosted an event years earlier to promote Obama’s candidacy for the Illinois Senate, Obama must be a terrorist.

Again, guilt-by association is not always wrong. Someone who associates with mob bosses, for instance, may actually be corrupt. However, arguing about associations means that the facts of the claim are being ignored.

The attacker will say that a prominent and/or respected person or group believes a certain claim, so therefore it must be true.

“The Pope said that climate change is endangering mankind, so it must be true.”

“The AMA (The American Medical Association) is against the Republican Health Care bill, so it should not be passed.”

“Franklin Graham, the well-known religious leader, opposes marriage equality, so it must be wrong.”

(For the record, I believe the Pope and the AMA are right, but that does not mean their claims should automatically be accepted. They still need to present facts.)

The reverse side of this attack is dismissing a claim because the person making the claim is not an authority or does not have credentials in the field.

For example, someone might say a man can’t talk about misogyny or abortion because he is not a woman. Or a white person can’t talk about racism because he is not black.

Another example is saying a person is not qualified to speak on a subject because he is not a recognized expert in the field.

  • An actor shouldn’t talk about politics
  • A scientist shouldn’t talk about religion.

The attacker is ignoring the possibility that someone who is prominent in one field could also have a lot of knowledge in another field.

Another type of appeal to authority is to claim that since large groups of people believe it, it must be true.

Sorry, “majority rule” is not how we determine facts. Remember, everybody once believed that the earth was flat and that spontaneous generation accounted for maggots.

“The overwhelming majority of climate scientists say climate change is being caused by human actions, so it must be true.”

“Christianity is the world’s largest religion, so it must be the one true religion.”

For the record, I believe the first statement because it is backed up with evidence; I don’t believe the second statement because there is no evidence that it is true, and there is not even any way to prove it is true.

You’ve heard the phrase, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.” Sometimes your opponent will deliberately misuse statistics to confuse you.

Other times, your opponent will dazzle you with charts, numbers, and statistics with the aim of overwhelming you. Usually none of his data is actually relevant to the questions. Sometimes the data is not even correct.

A person will make a claim based on insufficient information, often called “jumping to a conclusion.”

“Today I saw a senior citizen make a turn without signaling. All old people are bad drivers.”

“Some black young men are in a gang. All black young men are thugs.”

“I bought an apple in this store and it was mushy inside. I won’t shop there again because all their produce is rotten.”

This means “a part taken as the whole”, but I would call it “use the whole to obscure the part” or maybe “see the forest and hide the tree.” It is done to divert attention away from, and even to ridicule, a particular case

“We must save the whales.” “No, we must save all the creatures in the sea.”

“Black lives matter.” “No, all lives matter.”

The second half of each of the above examples is, of course, true, but they do not negate the first half of the statements. They only distract from it.

This is an augment that tries to associate one action with another obviously really bad action. The claim is that the first action will be the start of a slide into other actions. I sometimes call this one “taking things to an absurd conclusion”. The attacker thinks of the absolutely worse outcome, and then says it will inevitably occur as a result of allowing the first action.

In the following three examples, there is no proof that the first action inevitably leads to the second action

“If abortion is made legal, then infanticide will be next.”

“If we allow same-sex marriage, next we will have people marrying their dogs.”

“If marijuana is legal, people will become heroin addicts.”

It’s a Latin phrase for “after this, therefore, because of this.” It means if Event B occurs after event A, A must have caused B.

“I prayed my cancer would be cured and now I am cancer free. God answered my prayers.”

The cure happened after the prayer, but that does not mean that prayer cured the cancer. Many other people with cancer also prayed, and some of them died.

Correlation is not causation. Sometimes there are spurious correlations– two things are associated with each other, but one did not cause the other. A third thing caused both of them.

“Studies show that married people are happier than single people. If you are single and unhappy, you should get married and you will be happy.”

“Ever since Mayor X took office, crime has been down in his city. It’s because of his tough law-and-order stance.”

In the first example, there is a correlation between happiness and marriage, but perhaps this occurs because happy people are more likely to get married. (Who wants to marry a sour-puss?)

In the second example, perhaps unemployment dropped because a recession ended and this created more jobs for people aand thus there were fewer unemployed people and less crime.

The problem is stated as if there are only two choices. But often there are many other choices.

“Either we have school voucher programs or we have failing children in public schools. Which do you want?”

The problem of children failing in school does not lend itself to either/or solutions. Perhaps smaller classroom size in public schools is the answer. Perhaps paying teachers more so the best most-experienced teachers will not quit teaching for better paying jobs is the answer. Perhaps an after-school tutoring program is the answer.

This one compares a small thing to a really big thing and declares them equal.

  • President Obama said: “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.”
  • Donald Trump said: “Obama is the founder of ISIS.”

So are Obama and Trump both liars? False equivalency! Obama said something that he believed to be true when he said it, but it didn’t work out as he predicted it would. Trump told a giant whopper of a lie that had absolutely no basis in fact.

When someone can’t defend his position, he will restate the issue to something he can defend. Then he’ll knock down this “straw man.”

“You are against the death penalty. You want to set murderers loose to kill again.” (Now the argument is no longer about what punishment should be meted out for murder, but whether or not murders should be allowed to run amok in society.)

“You say atheists are as moral as anyone else. Stalin was an atheist and he killed millions of people.” (Now the argument is no longer about secular morality, but about a Russian dictator.)

When it is impossible to know the truth of a position, someone will claim that therefore his position must be treated as proven.

“You can’t prove how the universe came into existence, so God did it.”

In some cases, someone will claim that an argument that has even one unproven point means that the whole argument is false.

“You can’t prove how life first arose, so everything that has been proven about evolution is false, and God created the universe in six days just like it says in Genesis.”

This argument merely restates the premise in different words and then claims the second statement proves the first.

“Donald Trump is the best leader for America because he got elected. Getting elected proves he is the best leader.”

A person starts with a conclusion and then searches for facts to prove it. Facts should always precede a conclusion.

A person will say “This is how it has always been done.” Perhaps, but does that mean the usual way is the best way?

Sometimes a person will start with a false statement that he takes as a “given.” However, the initial premise is not always true, and if it is false, everything else that follows must be called into questions.

“The wealthy are the job creators, so we must cut their taxes and the wealth will trickle down to the middle class and working class.”

If the first part of the statement is false (as I believe it is), the rest of the statement has no validity.

Lastly, here are some tricks an opponent might use when he has absolutely no way to defend his positions.

The Non-Sequitur

This is from Latin and it means “does not follow. “ Usually when you ask a politician or his surrogate a question, you don’t get a straight answer. He dances around the topic.

Q. “Do you support the Trump-Ryan health care bill?”

A: “I tell you what I support. I support freedom. Every American should be able to have health care of his choice. Blah blah blah.”

The questioner never gets a direct answer to a simple question.

The Red Herring Defense

Politicians love to use this one. They just pivot to an unrelated topic; they don’t even bother to dance around the original topic.

Q: “Is ending poverty in America important?”

A: “I’ll tell you what is important. Ending terrorism. Blah, blah blah.”

Kelly Ann Conway, Trump’s campaign manager and now one of his White House advisers, is the master of this one.

Reductionism

This is the act of taking a complex question and reducing it to very simple terms, sometimes down to a slogan.

Q. “What do we need to do to bring economic gains to everyone?”

A: “We need to make America great again.”

The Affective Defense

This one is like a punch to the gut. It is intended to make you feel like you are a terrible person.

“I have every right to my beliefs. You need to respect my beliefs.”

This person is attempting to conflate a reasoned refutation of a position with a personal attack.

The Get-Over-It Defense

If you try to argue about something, you are essentially dismissed and told to stop being a “cry-baby.” The reasons you hoped to give for your point of view won’t even be heard.

Q. “Will the election of Donald Trump have dire consequences for the United States.”

A. “Trump won. Democrats lost. Get over it.”

You will frequently see what I call “the song and dance.” I see it a lot when politicians and political surrogates are being interviewed on TV.

They will talk very fast, bring up multiple topics, and use every logical fallacy and defense they can manage to throw in. The interviewer is overwhelmed. He can’t respond to everything, and consequently a lot of false information remains unchallenged.

Soliloquy, Aside, Monologue, Dialogue: Definitions and Examples From Shakespeare

Soliloquy, aside, monologue, and dialogue are four different dramatic devices used by classic playwrights. Shakespeare’s plays provide the best examples for learning about these four devices.

Dialogue and monologue are most often used to advance the action of a play. Soliloquy and aside are devices often used to reveal insights about individual characters, particularly in Shakespeare plays.

It is easiest to study examples of soliloquies and asides in Shakespeare’s tragedies. Monologues and dialogue are easy to spot in almost any type of play.

For our purposes, we will examine them all in the context of three of Shakespeare’s best-known plays: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth.

Soliloquy

  • Longer speech
  • One character
  • No others on stage can hear what is said
  • Reveals inner thoughts or motives of a character

Aside

  • Shorter comment
  • One character
  • No others on stage can hear what is said
  • Comments on the action of the play
  • Reveals judgments or hidden secrets.

Monologue

  • Longer speech
  • One character
  • Others onstage can hear what is said and respond to it.
  • Generally reveals previous events
  • Explains a character’s choice of action.

Dialogue

  • shorter or longer speeches
  • between two chanracters
  • among many characters.
  • Others onstage can hear and respond.

Soliloquies and Asides

Soliloquies and asides reveal hidden thoughts, conflicts, secrets, or motives. Asides are shorter than soliloquies, usually only one or two lines. Soliloquies are longer speeches, much like monologues, but more private.

Soliloquies and asides CANNOT be heard by the other characters onstage. Soliloquies and asides are spoken directly to the audience, or as private words to the self.

These two appear more often in Shakespeare’s plays than in modern or contemporary plays. They also appear in many other classic works of dramatic literature, including Greek tragedy and Melodrama.

Monologues and Dialogue

Monologues and dialogue reveal open actions and thoughts that are witnessed by all. Dialogue is a larger category, covering almost all kinds of interactions among characters. It may even contain monologues as part of a scene. Most people are familiar with dialogue as the typical construction of a play.

Monologues and dialogue CAN be heard by the other characters onstage. Monologues and dialogue are spoken directly to other characters onstage.

These two appear often in contemporary and modern plays. They are very familiar to most people who watch plays and movies.

A soliloquy is a longer speech that a character gives onstage that no one else can hear. No one except the audience, that is. Soliloquies may be spoken directly to the audience.

Most often, a soliloquy is a character speaking to himself or herself. Even if other people are present, they cannot hear what the character says.

Only the audience and that character can “hear” the words

The Function of Soliloquy

In Shakespeare’s tragedies, the soliloquy always reveals something about a conflict the character is facing.

Usually this is a moral conflict, and it most often shows a darker side of the character.

A Soliloquy is Private

The soliloquy usually reveals moral struggles or internal secrets. A soliloquy is private, personal, and often very emotional. In contrast with the monologue, a soliloquy is not meant to communicate with other characters. It is entirely focused on internal struggle.

A soliloquy is:

  • a longer speech
  • spoken to audience or to character’s private self,
  • meant to be personal- other characters onstage CANNOT hear the internal thoughts expressed

A Monologue is Not Private

The monologue usually reveals events or personal opinions. While monologues may be emotional, they are more focused on external factors. In contrast with the soliloquy, a monologue is intended to communicate directly with other characters onstage.

A monologue is

  • a longer speech
  • spoken to other characters
  • meant to be interactive- other characters onstage CAN hear and respond to the thoughts expressed

In Act 2, Scene 1 Macbeth stands alone in the castle. He hallucinates, and talks to the audience about what he sees. By the middle of the soliloquy, Macbeth is mostly talking to himself. Throughout, he pictures a dagger hanging in front of him, dripping with blood.

He admits that the vision is only encouraging him to go toward an action he had already planned—that is, to murder King Duncan.

As he proceeds through the soliloquy, Macbeth struggles with the violence he is about to undertake. At the end, though, he has resolved the conflict, and determines that he will indeed murder the king that night.

Is this a dagger which I see before me,

The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.

I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.

Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible

To feeling as to sight? or art thou but

A dagger of the mind, a false creation,

Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?

I see thee yet, in form as palpable

As this which now I draw.

Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going;

And such an instrument I was to use.

Mine eyes are made the fools o’ the other senses,

Or else worth all the rest; I see thee still,

And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood,

Which was not so before. There’s no such thing:

This soliloquy is a good example of a character resolving an internal conflict so that the audience can clearly see how he makes a bad choice. Even though he is alone onstage, the soliloquy reveals Macbeth’s innermost thoughts and deepest secrets.

That is what makes this a soliloquy instead of just a monologue. It is spoken partially to the audience and partially to himself. No other characters can hear him. It illustrates internal struggle.

An aside is a short one or two-line comment that is made directly to the audience by a single character. No other characters onstage can hear the aside. In essence, the character “steps out” of the action to comment directly to the audience about what is happening in the play.

The Function of an Aside

Most often, the aside is a quick commentary that shows a character’s private opinions or reactions. The thoughts in an aside are private, but shared with the audience. Usually, the aside also makes reference to the main conflict of the play, but it does not always involve a personal moral issue.

An Aside is shorter, more direct, and simple. Asides are usually spoken directly to audience . An aside points out an immediate conflict or issue

A Soliloquy is longer, elaborate, and more complex. Soliloquies are usually spoken to self or God A soliloquy reveals an internal struggle or moral dilemma.

In Act 3 Scene 1 of Hamlet, Shakespeare uses an aside to directly reveal a character’s internal conflict and struggle with guilt.

Claudius, the current King of Denmark, is an evil murderer. The entire play of Hamlet revolves around the murder of Hamlet’s father, the deceased King of Denmark. In a ghostly revelation, Hamlet discovers that his uncle Claudius is the murderer.

Throughout the play, Hamlet attempts to deal with this horrible truth. At one point, when some events that Hamlet has planned cut too close to home, Claudius turns to the audience and says:

King Claudius: O, tis too true! How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience. The harlot’s cheek beautied with plast’ring art. Is not more ugly to the thing that helps it than is my most painted word. O heavy burden!

Claudius is admitting that his conscience is being whipped by the burden of guilt. Claudius sees his own false dishonesty.

Claudius, in this aside, admits to carrying a heavy burden of guilt.

This type of revelation is a perfect example of how important it is that an aside cannot be heard by the other characters onstage. If the other characters could hear, Claudius would be trapped.

Notice that all this is revealed in one or two lines. That is why this is considered an aside and not a soliloquy, since a soliloquy is much longer.

A monologue is a longer speech that one character says directly to the other characters onstage. All the others onstage can hear a monologue. The monologue is intended to communicate directly to them. The prefix “mono” means “one”- i.e. one character speaks.

The Function of a Monologue

Most often, a monologue in Shakespeare involves a character explaining a previous event or explaining why a certain action was taken. In Shakespeare’s three best-known plays, monologues are used to reveal tragic mistakes that often lead to woeful endings.

Friar Laurence, in Act 5 of Romeo and Juliet, explains the events of the play, and asks the Prince to provide punishment for his misdeeds. Although this is very long, it makes a good example.

Friar Lawrence reviews all the important events that caused the death of the two lovers. He also takes responsibility for his part in the tragedy. This explanation is what convinces the Prince to show mercy, and inspires the Capulets and Montagues to make peace.

It is important that all the characters onstage hear the entire monologue so that the next events of the play can take place.

In this case, this is NOT a soliloquy, because it is spoken directly to the characters onstage. The characters then react and respond accordingly.

Romeo, there dead, was husband to that Juliet,

And she, there dead, that Romeo’s faithful wife.

I married them, and their stol’n marriage day

Was Tybalt’s doomsday, whose untimely death

Banished the new-made bridegroom from the city—

For whom, and not for Tybalt, Juliet pined.

You, to remove that siege of grief from her,

Betrothed and would have married her perforce

To County Paris. Then comes she to me,

And with wild looks bid me devise some mean

To rid her from this second marriage,

Or in my cell there would she kill herself.

Then gave I her, so tutored by my art,

A sleeping potion, which so took effect

As I intended, for it wrought on her

The form of death.

 ….

All this I know, and to the marriage

Her Nurse is privy. And if aught in this

Miscarried by my fault, let my old life

Be sacrificed some hour before his time

Unto the rigor of severest law.

Remember, the key difference between a monologue and a soliloquy is the ability of the other characters to hear and respond to the words.

Even though this monologue reveals some inner conflict on the part of Friar Lawrence, it is not a soliloquy, because the other characters onstage are participating by listening and reacting to his speech.

Dialogue is the part of Shakespeare plays that is most familiar to audiences. Dialogue is simply two or more characters speaking directly to one another. The audience can hear what is said, but is not included in the action.

This is the standard form of address onstage for all of Shakespeare’s plays. Dialogue is the thing that most people already understand as part of a play.

The Function of Dialogue

Even though the word dialogue refers to two (the prefix “di” means “two”), dialogue can involve more than two characters. The audience essentially witnesses the events.

Dialogue can contain long speeches, such as monologues, as part of the conversation.

Dialogue takes place between two or more characters onstage. All or some of the characters can hear one another. Sometimes one character will speak to another, with the intention of not being overheard by the others. While this is a side comment, it is not an aside.

An aside is spoken directly to the audience, or to the character’s private self. The character steps out of the action to make a comment. This comment is not heard by any of the others onstage. The purpose of an aside is to reveal something additional that others in the play do not know.

In Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, there is some dialogue that takes place as Romeo and Juliet share their very first kiss. This dialogue is interesting, because it also creates a sonnet. Notice that the back-and-forth between the characters creates a kind of poetry, even as the lovers are bantering.

ROMEO [To JULIET]

If I profane with my unworthiest hand

This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:

My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand

To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.

JULIET

Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,

Which mannerly devotion shows in this;

For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,

And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.

ROMEO

Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?

JULIET

Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.

ROMEO

O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;

They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.

JULIET

Saints do not move, though grant for prayers’ sake.

ROMEO

Then move not, while my prayer’s effect I take

Dialogue

  • most familiar form of dramatic literature
  • characters speak to one another
  • can include short lines or longer speeches
  • may involve more thatn two characters

Solo speaking

  • may be longer or shorter speeches
  • directly to other characters, directly to self, or directly to audience.
  • Longer speeches directly to other characters are monologues.Monologues have very few limitations.
  • Longer speeches to audience or to character’s private self are soliloquies. Soliloquies must involve internal struggles or moral issues.
  • Shorter comments to audience are asides. Asides usually reveal secrets.

Slavery in Virginia and the 1705 Virginia Slave Act

Prior to 1705, there were many African American indentured servants in the state of Virginia. For a set number of years, a person would work without pay and then be freed from his bond once the allotted time had passed. In the year 1705, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law which transformed black indentured servants into slaves: the Virginia Slave Act of 1705 condemned many men, women, and children to a lifetime of slavery, even if they were only days away from being freed of their indentured status.

Before the Slave Act of 1705 was enacted, indentured servants over the age of 19 had to work for five years before achieving freedom (indentured servants under the age of 19 had to work until they reached the age of 24). The Slave Act codified slavery and allowed white Christians to beat, torture, and kill slaves with impunity. This act glorified an accident of birth (being white) and religion (Christianity), placing all others at an inferior status. According to the law, being white was more important than becoming Christian, as Christian slaves were still slaves, and could be murdered or tortured without any legal recourse.

Called “An Act Concerning Servants and Slaves,” the 1705 law consisted of many laws, all designed to enslave any human being who was not a white Christian. The Slave Act of 1705 was a culmination of years of ever-changing (and worsening) laws regarding black indentured servants and slaves in the state of Virginia. Earlier laws imposed these oppressive conditions:

1662: A child was declared free or enslaved dependent on the status of his or her mother at the time of birth. A child of a slave was automatically declared a slave, and a child of a freed woman was considered free.

1667: Slaves who converted to Christianity and were baptized were not freed from slavery.

1669: Killing a slave was no longer considered a felony.

1670: Non-white, free African Americans and Indians could not purchase a white, Christian indentured servant.

1680: Slaves had to have a pass to leave their master’s property, and were not allowed to carry weapons of any kind.

1682: A slave visiting another plantation was not allowed to remain for longer than four hours without permission from his or her owner.

1691: Intermarriage of a white man or woman with an African American or Indian person was cause for banishment from the state of Virginia.

The 1705 Slave Act consisted of many parts, including the following laws:

Part IV of the slave act turned indentured servants into slaves, even if they were just days from the end of their contracted term.

All servants brought from non-Christian lands became slaves. A subsequent conversion to Christianity had no effect on the person’s status: all servants were now considered slaves. The only exceptions were Turks, Moors, and servants from Christian countries (like England) who had proof that they had been free in their former country of residence.

Part XI of the Slave Act included the following requirements:

Non-white people were not allowed to purchase any white Christian for indentured servitude. African Americans and Indians could not have an indentured servant, even if they were Christian, and people described as “infidels” (Jews, Moors, Muslims) were prohibited from having any white Christian servants. Servants “of the same complexion” or Indian and African-American slaves were allowed, however, for Jewish and Islamic freemen.

This section of the law also freed any white Christian servant who was purchased by an “infidel,” and also freed any white Christian who had a white master that married an “infidel.”

Part XXIII of the 1705 Slave Act was written to encourage other white free people to hunt down and capture escaped slaves.

A reward system involving tobacco was set up for people who caught runaway slaves. Increasing amounts of tobacco were awarded to the capturer, according to the distance the slave had travelled.

Slaves who were found more than 10 miles away from their residence brought a reward of 200 pounds of tobacco to the capturer, and another 200 pounds of tobacco to the county where the slave was found. Slaves found from five to ten miles away from their residence brought a reward of 100 pounds of tobacco to both the capturer and the county where the slave was found. This was considered an “encouragement” for people to actively hunt down and return slaves to their owners. The owner of the slaves was required to pay the reward, and the justice of the peace who presided over all cases must note the name and location of the “taker-up,” the name of the slave, and the name and location of the owner. Careful record keeping ensured the owner of the slave paid the levy in the event a slave was captured.

With high rewards, a new occupation was born: the slave dealer made a living off of capturing both runaway slaves and freedmen, selling the latter back into slavery. Clayton Holbert is one such story: his owners died, willing the slaves their freedom rather than deeding them to another landowner. Clayton’s mother and grandmother were freed upon the death of their owners, but slave dealers kidnapped the women and sold them back into slavery. Clayton’s mother was sold to the Holbert family in Tennessee, and his grandmother was sold to a plantation in Texas. The two women never saw each other again. Clayton was born while his mother was a slave on the Holbert plantation, and so he also became a slave.

Part XXVI of the Slave Act required any slave captured across the Chesapeake (that is, across the Mason-Dixon line to the North) to be handed over to the Sherriff. The Sherriff would send the slave back across the Bay into the hands of a southern constable. The southern constable was then rewarded with 500 pounds of tobacco from public stores, which would be reimbursed by the slave owner.

Part XXXII of this slave code prevented any plantation owner from granting safe harbor to another person’s slave. No land owner could allow a slave to stay on his or her land for more than four hours, without the express written permission of the slave’s owner. A violation of this law resulted in a fine of 150 pounds of tobacco.

If a slave owner killed or maimed a slave, it would be considered as if “the accident had never happened.” This part of the law allowed white slave owners impunity for their actions: no matter how horrendously they treated, tortured, or killed their slaves, the law would ignore the actions.

This part of the law also required 30 lashes for any non-white who raised a hand against a Christian. If the Christian was also non-white, however, the law did not apply: only white Christians were considered worthy of protection from violence according to this law.

Richard Toler describes his life on a Virginia plantation in the early 1800’s:

“We had very bad eatin’. Bread, meat, water. And they fed it to us in a trough, jes’ like the hogs. And ah went in my shirt till I was 16, never had no clothes. And the floor in our cabin was dirt, and at night we’d jes’ take a blanket and lay down on the floor. The dog was superior to us; they would take him in the house.”

Richard’s master had four girls and four boys, and the boys belonged to the Ku Klux Klan. Toler’s boys would strip young African American girls naked, whip them until the blood flowed, and then rub salt in the wounds. Henry Toler’s sons did these horrendous acts with impunity; the Virigina Slave Act of 1705 allowed their brutality and inhumanity.

Richard’s experiences are taken from The American Slave, Vol. 16: 97-101.

Baptism and conversion to Christianity would not alter the status of slavery for non-white people. Children were considered slaves or free according to the status of their mothers – no other circumstance mattered.

Other portions of the 1705 Slave Act set punishments for servants, who owned no property and could not pay a fine as punishment for any action deemed “criminal.” The Slave Act declared 20 lashes by whipping to be the equivalent of a fine of 500 pounds of tobacco or 50 shillings.

Any white man or woman who married a person of African or Indian descent would be committed to jail for a period of six months, without bail, and would have to pay 10 pounds (sterling) as a fine.

Show Your True Colors: A Guide to Bi Pride Symbols

“Pride Month” is celebrated around the world by people in the LGBT+ community and their allies. If you attend a Pride celebration anywhere, you will be sure to see people dressed in outfits displaying many different LGBT+ pride symbols and color schemes. Even people outside of the LGBT+ community are sure to be familiar with the well-known rainbow pride flag, which is used as a symbol of pride for the LGBT+ community as a whole. While this rainbow flag is meant to symbolize the entire spectrum of LGBT+ identities, there are many other symbols used to celebrate specific identities within the LGBT+ community.

Because bisexual individuals tend to be erased and marginalized even within the LGBT+ community, bi activists have adopted several symbols to celebrate bi pride specifically, and to create bi visibility at LGBT+ Pride events. These symbols usually integrate a specific color scheme of pink, purple, and blue. Here are a few of the most common symbols used to represent bi pride.

The bi pride flag is the most well-known of the bi pride symbols. This flag can be seen flying alongside other pride flags at Pride events, such as the traditional rainbow LGBT+ pride flag, the transgender pride flag, the pansexual pride flag, etc. Most specific identities under the LGBT+ umbrella have their own specific pride flag with their own colors schemes, and bisexuals are no different.

The bi pride flag features three different colored stripes; a wide magenta stripe, a narrow lavender stripe, and a wide blue stripe. This flag was designed by Michael Page in 1998 to give the bisexual community its own symbol comparable to the rainbow flag of the larger LGBT+ community. It was first unveiled at the BiCafe’s first anniversary party on December 5, 1998. The bi pride flag is likely the most well-recognized pride flag other than the rainbow LGBT+ pride flag.

According to the flag’s designer, Michael Page, each colored stripe of the bi pride flag has a specific meaning:

  • The wide magenta or pink stripe represents same-gender attraction (gay or lesbian).
  • The wide blue stripe represents opposite-gender attraction (straight).
  • The narrow lavender or purple stripe is a blend of pink and blue and represents a blend of both same- and opposite-gender attraction (bi).

The most important design element in this flag is the lavender stripe. Michael Page describes the flag’s meaning in deeper terms, stating:

“The key to understanding the symbolism of the Bisexual pride flag is to know that the purple pixels of color blend unnoticeably into both the pink and blue, just as in the ‘real world,’ where bi people blend unnoticeably into both the gay/lesbian and straight communities.”

Though the bi pride flag is the most well-known symbol of bisexuality, the “bi angles” (also sometimes written as “biangles”) symbol has been around even longer and was the first symbol to use the pink, purple, and blue color scheme to represent bisexuality.

The exact origin of the bi angles symbol is unknown, but there are theories suggesting that the colors may represent masculine, feminine, and non-binary attractions. It is also possible that the colors represent the same meanings as in the bi pride flag and represent same-sex attraction, opposite-sex attraction, and a combination of the two. The lavender color where the pink and blue overlap may also be a reference to queerness, as the color lavender has long been associated with the LGBT+ community. According to Michael Page, the colors used in the bi angle’s symbol were the inspiration behind the bi pride flag.

The overlapping pink and blue triangles are likely inspired by the pink triangle symbol sometimes used to represent the LGBT+ community, primarily gay men. The use of the pink triangle as a pride symbol is controversial, however, due to its origin as a concentration camp badge forced upon gay men in World War II.

The bisexual double moon symbol was created in 1998 by Vivian Wagner specifically as an alternative to the bi angles symbol, which incorporates the pink triangle symbol associated with concentration camps. Because many people within the LGBT+ community take issue with using a symbol associated with persecution violence against them, the double moon symbol offers a less controversial alternative. This symbol is most popular with the bisexual community in Germany and surrounding countries, though bi people throughout the world may use it as well.

The double moon symbol consists of two crescent moons, each featuring a gradient from blue to pink, creating a lavender color where the two main colors meet. As with the bi angle symbol and the bi pride flag, the double moon symbol utilizes the colors blue and pink, with a band of purple to represent bi attraction.

A combination of the standard symbols for male and female can also be used to represent the bisexual community. The center symbol typically represents the bi individual, either male or female, with an additional male and female symbol on either side. These gender symbols may be colored in shades of pink, purple, and blue to coincide with the other bi symbols.

These symbols are an important part of celebrating bi and LGBT+ identity. These symbols help LGBT+ people to easily identify others like them at pride events, or in the community at large. By having visible symbols of identity, bi people can show the world that they exist, and let other bi people know that they are not alone. By using common recognizable symbols, the bi community can become stronger and more visible within the overall LGBT+ community.

Short Stories With a Twist Ending

It’s hard to beat a twist ending for pure entertainment value.

Even though a twist ending is supposed to give the reader a jolt, the best ones seem inevitable and seamless. Not all the twists in these stories are sudden, but they will all be surprising in some way.

The stories by Jeffrey Archer are available in his first volume of Collected Short Stories, which has many other stories with twist endings and is a fun read.

Here are some great short stories with surprise endings. The endings aren’t revealed here, only the set-ups.

1. “The Interlopers”

2. “Twin Study”

3. “The Open Window”

4. “Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen”

5. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

6. “The Lottery”

7. “The Necklace”

8. “The Last Leaf”

9. “Wish You Were Here”

10. “Roman Fever”

11. “A Retrieved Reformation”

12. “Man from the South”

13. “The Lame Shall Enter First”

14. “Barney”

15. “A Continuity of Parks”

16. “Good Country People”

17. “The Story of an Hour”

18. “Reunion”

19. “The Reticence of Lady Anne”

20. “A Horseman in the Sky”

21. “Taste”

22. “Charles”

23. “The Gift of the Magi”

24. “The Landlady”

25. “The Mouse”

26. “Bella Fleace Gave a Party”

27. “Beware of Dog”

28. “The Sniper”

29. “Dear Marsha”

30. “One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts”

31. “Clean Sweep Ignatius”

32. “Appointment with Love”

33. “A Rose for Emily”

34. “The Hounds of Fate”

35. “Harvey’s Dream”

36. “Lamb to the Slaughter”

37. “Gold-Mounted Guns”

38. “A Man Who Had No Eyes”

39. “Zoo”

40. “The Painted Door”

41. “The Dowry”

42. “The Wife’s Story”

43. “After Twenty Years”

44. “Broken Routine”

45. “To Serve Man”

46. “Ruthless”

47. “Button, Button”

48. “Marjorie Daw”

49. “The Woman at the Store”

50. “The Memento”

51. “Time Enough at Last”

52. “Third from the Sun”

53. “Brothers Beyond the Void”

54. “Four O’Clock”

55. “He-y, Come On Ou-t”

56. “Test”

57. “Jeff Peters as a Personal Magnet”

58. “The Lottery”

59. “Desiree’s Baby”

60. “Cheap at Half the Price”

61. “Everyone Talks”

62. “The Dinner Party”

63. “The Bookbinder’s Apprentice”

64. “Calling the Shots”

65. “Clockwork”

66. “The Chef”

67. “The Human Chair”

68. “Mars is Heaven!

69. “Perchance to Dream”

Two feuding family heads get trapped in the woods, giving them time to discuss their situation.

Read “The Interlopers”

A woman attends a study of identical twins where she sees her sister, whom she hasn’t seen since the last study, four years ago. She struggles with her identity, comparing her life and traits to her sister’s.

Read “Twin Study”

A young girl tells a story of family tragedy to a visitor.

Read “The Open Window”

An elderly gentleman has treated a local indigent man to a hearty Thanksgiving Day meal for the past nine years. The poor man shows up to their meeting place in a condition that threatens to ruin the gentleman’s tradition.

Read “Two Thanksgiving Day Gentlemen”

A Confederate sympathizer is condemned to hang from Owl Creek Bridge during the American civil war.

Read “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”

A small town prepares for its annual ritual—a lottery—that is supposed to ensure a good harvest.

Read “The Lottery”

A woman borrows an expensive necklace from a friend, but she loses it and works to set things right.

Read “The Necklace”

A woman with pneumonia can see an ivy vine through her sickbed window. She counts down the leaves as they fall and tells her roommate that when the last one falls, the pneumonia will kill her.

Read “The Last Leaf”

A woman’s garden gnome is stolen. She begins receiving postcards that are signed from the gnome.

Read “Wish You Were Here”

Two middle aged women visit Rome with their unmarried daughters. In their youths, the women were romantic rivals. The women talk about their lives and daughters.

Read “Roman Fever”

A reformed safecracker faces a problem that could reveal his culpability in several robberies.

Read “A Retrieved Reformation”

An elderly man bets a young man that he can’t light his lighter ten times in a row. If it fails to light on any of the ten attempts, the young man loses the pinky finger of his left hand; if all ten attempts are successful, the young man wins a Cadillac.

Read “Man From the South”

A young son mourns the loss of his mother, while his unsympathetic father is preoccupied with helping other people. The father invites a young delinquent into their home, who resists his efforts to help.

A scientist on a deserted island tries to increase the intelligence of Barney, a rat.

Read “Barney”

After a day of activity, a man reads a novel; he progressively becomes more immersed in the story.

Read “A Continuity of Parks”

Mrs. Hopewell runs a farm with her tenants and her daughter, a thirty-two year old with a prosthetic leg. A Bible salesman visits the farm and is invited to stay for dinner.

Read “Good Country People”

A woman gets the news that her husband has been killed in a railroad accident. Over the next hour, she experiences a range of emotions.

Read “The Story of an Hour”

Earth receives a transmission from an approaching alien ship. It says the aliens had originally colonized earth millions of years ago, before a non-fatal disease split the population. The returning aliens now have a cure for any who are still infected.

Read “Reunion”

A man tries to smooth things over with his wife whom he had argued with earlier, but she doesn’t respond to his efforts.

Read “The Reticence of Lady Anne”

During the American Civil War, a Federal sentry falls asleep at his post, but wakes in time to see a Confederate scout whose report could be deadly.

Read “A Horseman in the Sky”

A dinner host and a wine expert make a bet. If the expert can identify the wine being served, he gets to marry the host’s daughter; if he can’t, he forfeits both his houses.

A boy who just started kindergarten, Laurie, comes home everyday with stories of a classmate, Charles, who’s disruptive, disobedient, and violent. Laurie’s parents are concerned that Charles is a bad influence on their son.

Read “Charles”

A young couple with a low income try to find a way to get each other nice Christmas presents.

Read “The Gift of the Magi”

A young man stays at an eerily quiet but seemingly perfect bed and breakfast.

Read “The Landlady”

While riding in a train carriage with a woman, a man feels a mouse in his clothes and struggles to solve the problem discreetly.

Read “The Mouse”

A highborn but poor elderly woman comes into some money and throws a party, carefully choosing whom she will invite and whom she will snub.

Read “Bella Fleace Gave a Party”

A WWII pilot with serious injuries bails out of his plane. He wakes up in a hospital in Brighton (in his home country of England), with his injuries treated.

Read “Beware of Dog”

A sniper on a rooftop gives away his position by lighting a cigarette. He exchanges fire with another sniper, and he knows he has to get off the roof before he’s surrounded.

Read “The Sniper”

During summer vacation, Marsha starts corresponding with a pen pal, Anne Marie. They talk about their difficulties and have a lot in common.

Mr. Johnson walks around the city handing out candy, peanuts, and helping people wherever he can.

Read “One Ordinary Day with Peanuts”

Ignatius is the new Financial Minister of Nigeria. He is dedicated to ending corruption, and does such an impressive job that the President gives him a special assignment— rooting out Nigerians with secret Swiss accounts.

Read “Clean Sweep Ignatius” (Page 9)

A returning lieutenant arrives at Grand Central Station to meet up with a woman he has never seen. They have been corresponding for 13 months during his tour of duty, and her letters have been a source of strength and encouragement. He feels he is in love with her, but he is also anxious to find out what she looks like.

Read “Appointment with Love”

Miss Emily Grierson dies and, as a town oddity, everyone goes to her funeral. The narrator recounts some episodes from her life, including a tax dispute with the town and when her suitor left her.

Read “A Rose for Emily”

A wanderer approaches a house for a little relief, but is greeted as if he’s the returning owner.

Read “The Hounds of Fate

An older man relates his previous night’s dream to his wife.

Read “Harvey’s Dream”

A woman kills her husband with a piece of frozen lamb, and then plots to conceal her guilt.

Read “Lamb to the Slaughter”

Pecos Tommy is an outlaw known for his gold-mounted guns. When a young man decides to start a life of crime, he finds Tommy and asks if he can ride with him. He even has an easy job lined up to get their partnership started.

Read “Gold-Mounted Guns”

A blind beggar comes down the street as Mr. Parsons comes out of his hotel. He feels pity for blind creatures and reflects on his own success. The man speaks to Parsons, and takes out an item that he’d like to sell.

Read “A Man Who Had No Eyes”

Professor Hugo’s Interplanetary Zoo visits earth every August. Everyone looks forward to the strange creatures they will see this time.

Read “Zoo”

John walks five miles from his farm to his father’s to help him with chores. His wife Ann doesn’t want him to go because they’re expecting a storm and she wants his company at home. He asks their neighbor Steven to drop in to play cards while he’s gone. Ann decides to do some painting to pass the time. After a while the weather turns bad.

Read “The Painted Door”

Simon and Jeanne are newly married. Simon plans to use Jeanne’s large dowry to buy a legal practice. They take a trip to Paris to enjoy each others company and to make the purchase.

Read “The Dowry”

A wife tells the story of her husband. He was a good husband and father, well-liked and respected. Something happened that she can’t believe. Everyone says it was because of the moon and the blood.

Read “The Wife’s Story”

A policeman makes his rounds, checking that the shop doors are secured for the night, when he sees a man waiting in an entrance way. The man explains that he and a friend made arrangements twenty years ago to meet there that night.

Read “After Twenty Years”

Septimus is a claims adjuster at an insurance company. He maintains a strict daily routine in his work and home life. One day he is asked to stay a little late, which turns out to be very disruptive for him.

Read “Broken Routine”

Earth is visited by an alien race, the Kanamit, who look like a cross between pigs and people. They have brought valuable knowledge for producing power, increasing food supply, and other things, at no charge. Some question the purity of their motives, so the Kanamit are subjected to a lie-detector test.

Read “To Serve Man”

Judson and Mabel Webb are preparing to leave their mountain cottage for the winter to return to the city. When they left last winter, someone broke in and stole some of Judson’s liquor. He expects the thief to return, so he prepares a surprise.

Read “Ruthless”

A hand addressed package is left at the door of Arthur and Norma Lewis. Inside is a contraption with a button on it, and a note saying that Mr. Steward will call on them at 8 PM. After assuring them that he isn’t selling anything, Mr. Steward makes them a shocking proposition.

Read “Button, Button”

John Flemming has slipped and broken his leg, leaving him confined to his couch. His friend Edward Delaney begins corresponding with him to pass the time. Delaney describes the family who live across from him, including their mansion and beautiful young daughter.

Read “Marjorie Daw”

The female narrator, her brother Jo, and their acquaintance Jim are traveling in the heat, looking forward to stopping for refreshment at a place Jim knows. He says the man of the place is generous with his whisky, and the woman is attractive and welcoming. They arrive at a lonely establishment and are greeted by a disheveled woman with a rifle.

Read “The Woman at the Store”

Eric is out walking in the country when he is called over by a neighbor, an old man. They make conversation about their community, which includes a resident known for being a ladies man. The old man shows Eric his museum, a collection of items that all have something in common.

Read “The Memento” (Ctrl + F the title, it’s near the top)

Henry Bemis really wants to read a book, but he can’t fit it into his schedule. He works at Eastside Bank and Trust, and his wife takes up the rest of his time.

Read “Time Enough at Last”

With the impending threat of a major war, a family and their neighbors decide to sneak away to safety on a spaceship. The father will use his position as chief test pilot to gain access to the vessel.

Read “Third from the Sun”

Marcusson is preparing for a space voyage to Mars. He and his friend Conrad talk about whom he will meet. Conrad explains that people are the same everywhere. Marcusson takes comfort from this but also feels some fear over his upcoming trip.

Read “Brothers Beyond the Void”

Mr. Crangle is at home at 3:47 in the afternoon. Three weeks ago he realized he had the power to mark all evil people in some way. He would be the judge, and he had no moral qualms about using his ability. He sets 4:00 in the afternoon as the time when he will execute his judgment.

Read “Four O’Clock”

In a certain village, after a big storm, the people discover a hole in the ground. It’s about a meter wide, but they can’t figure out how deep it is. It seems to have no bottom. They think about what should be done with it.

Read “He-y, Come On Ou-t”

Robert Proctor is out driving with his mother. When another vehicle clips his front fender he struggles to maintain control.

There seems to be more than one published version of this story.

Read “Test”

Read “Test” (Simpler version)

Jeff Peters recounts an incident he had while posing as a medicine man. After being shut down by the constable, he meets Andy, a man with a similar trade. They want to go in on something together. Jeff gets an emergency summons from the mayor; he is sick and the local doctor is out of town.

Read “Jeff Peters as a Personal Magnet”

Ted Bilborough is on his way home from work when he finds out his wife won a lottery. His acquaintances tease him a bit and ask what he will do with the money. He thinks about that as well, and also wonders where his wife got the money for the ticket.

Read “The Lottery”

Desiree had been adopted as a toddler. She is now an adult with a baby of her own. She and her husband, Armand, are very happy. After a while, there are some whispers about the baby.

Read “Desiree’s Baby”

Consuela, a former model, is married to her third husband, Victor, a rich American banker. They have flown to London for Victor to close a big deal and for Consuela to look for a birthday present for herself. Consuela searches the usual high-end stores without success. She finds a new shop with an exquisite item, but the price is steep even for her husband.

Read “Cheap at Half the Price” (Ctrl + F the title)

A new detective goes to the hospital to write up a report on a gunshot wound. The victim is sedated so she can’t talk to him. His passport says his name is Jack Reacher. The detective returns after her shift to get his story.

Read “Everyone Talks”

A colonel and a young girl disagree on whether women can keep cool in a crisis.

Read “The Dinner Party”

Joly, a visitor in Venice, finishes reading when he is approached by an older man, Sanborn, who admires his book. He invites Joly for a drink where he is introduced to another man, Zuichini, a skilled bookbinder. Joly is suspicious of his new acquaintances but accepts their hospitality.

Read “The Bookbinder’s Apprentice” (scroll down over halfway)

Jason is working in the woods alone. He just had an argument with his girlfriend. He told her he couldn’t go thru with the marriage even though she’s pregnant. Their families aren’t on good terms. He starts up his chain saw and begins cutting the trees.

Read “Calling the Shots”

It’s war time in London. A jeweler has his display set up for the day. A man with a limp, Gebhardt, get off a bus and looks in the shop window. He goes in and tells the jeweler that his watch has stopped. He wants it fixed and asks for a new strap.

Read “Clockwork”

Doris wakes up in a hospital. Her doctor tries to find out what she can remember. She knows there was an explosion, and that she had been visiting her father, but is hazy on the other details. She can remember that she’s a professional chef, and she tells the doctor about her work.

Read “The Chef”

Oshiko is a popular writer. Every day she receives letters from admirers and amateur writers looking for feedback. She takes the time to read them all. She starts reading a manuscript, but it begins with “Dear Madam”—perhaps it’s a letter instead. A man, a chair-maker, says he has to confess a terrible crime. He’s been in hiding for months, but a change in his thinking impels him to reveal his secret.

Read “The Human Chair”

A space ship with a crew of seventeen lands on Mars. To everyone’s surprise, Mars looks like small-town America in the 1920’s. Captain John Black is hesitant to leave the ship, but after confirming the atmosphere is breathable, he allows a small party to disembark. The ship’s navigator and the archaeologist offer theories to explain what they see. They approach a house.

Read “Mars is Heaven!”

Philip Hall goes to a psychiatrist. He’s thirty-one, and hasn’t been able to sleep for 72 hours. He’s afraid if he goes to sleep, he’ll never wake up. He explains how his problem started when he discovered the power of his mind.

Read “Perchance to Dream”

Definition and Characteristics of Shakespearean Tragedy

A Shakespearean tragedy is a play penned by Shakespeare himself, or a play written in the style of Shakespeare by a different author. Shakespearean tragedy has got its own specific features, which distinguish it from other kinds of tragedies. It must be kept in mind that Shakespeare is mostly indebted to Aristotle’s theory of tragedy in his works. The elements of a Shakespearean tragedy are discussed below.

The word tragedy was derived from the Greek word tragoidia, which means ‘the song of the goat.’ It is called “the song of the goat” because in ancient Greece the theater performers used to wear goatskin costumes to represent satyrs.

Today in theater and literature a tragedy is a work that has an unhappy ending. The ending must include the main character’s downfall.

A Shakespearean tragedy is a specific type of tragedy (a written work with a sad ending where the hero either dies or ends up mentally, emotionally, or spiritually devastated beyond recovery) that also includes all of the additional elements discussed in this article.

Below we are going to take a more in-depth look at each of the elements of Shakespearean tragedy, as well as explore a few examples.

A tragic hero is one of the most significant elements of a Shakespearean tragedy. This type of tragedy is essentially a one-man show. It is a story about one, or sometimes two, characters. The hero may be either male or female and he or she must suffer because of some flaw of character, because of inevitable fate, or both. The hero must be the most tragic personality in the play. According to Andrew Cecil Bradley, a noted 20th century Shakespeare scholar, a Shakespearean tragedy “is essentially a tale of suffering and calamity conducting to death.” (Usually the hero has to face death in the end.)

An important feature of the tragic hero is that he or she is a towering personality in his/her state/kingdom/country. This person hails from the elite stratum of society and holds a high position, often one of royalty. Tragic heroes are kings, princes, or military generals, who are very important to their subjects. Take Hamlet, prince of Denmark; he is intellectual, highly educated, sociable, charming, and of a philosophic bent. The hero is such an important person that his/her death gives rise to full-scale turmoil, disturbance, and chaos throughout the land. When Hamlet takes revenge for the death of his father, he is not only killing his uncle but inviting his own death at the hands of Laertes. And as a direct result of his death, the army of Fortinbras enters Denmark to take control.

Shakespearean tragedies play out the struggle between good and evil. Most of them deal with the supremacy of evil and suppression of good. According to Edward Dowden, a 19th century noted poet and literary critic, “Tragedy as conceived by Shakespeare is concerned with the ruin or restoration of the soul and of the life of man. In other words, its subject is the struggle of Good and Evil in the world.” Evil is presented in Shakespearean tragedies in a way that suggests its existence is an indispensable and ever-enduring thing. For example, in Hamlet, the reader is given the impression that something rotten will definitely happen to Denmark (foreshadowing). Though the reader gets an inkling, typically the common people of the play are unaware of the impending evil.

In Julius Caesar, the mob is unaware of the struggle between good and evil within King Caesar. They are also ignorant of the furtive and sneaky motives of Cassius. Goodness never beats evil in the tragedies of Shakespeare. Evil conquers goodness. The reason for this is that the evil element is always disguised, while goodness is open and freely visible to all. The main character (the most pious and honest person in the tragedy) is assigned the task of defeating the supreme evil because of his goodness. As a result, he suffers terribly and ultimately fails due to his fatal flaw. This tragic sentiment is perfectly illustrated by Hamlet in the following lines:

Hamartia is the Greek word for “sin” or “error”, which derives from the verb hamatanein, meaning “to err” or “to miss the mark”. In other words, hamartia refers to the hero’s tragic flaw. It is another absolutely critical element of a Shakespearean tragedy. Every hero falls due to some flaw in his or her character. Here I will once again reference A. C. Bradley, who asserts, “The calamities and catastrophe follow inevitably from the deeds of men and the main source of these deeds is character.” As a result of the fatal flaw, the hero falls from a high position, which usually leads to his/her unavoidable death.

A good example of hamartia can be seen in Hamlet when Hamlet’s faltering judgment and failure to act lead him to his untimely death. He suffers from procrastination. He finds a number of opportunities to kill his uncle, but he fails because of his indecisive and procrastinating nature. Every time, he delays taking action. In one case he finds an opportunity to kill Claudius while Claudius is praying. Still, Hamlet forgoes the excellent opportunity to achieve his goal with the excuse that he doesn’t want to kill a man while he is praying. He wants to kill Claudius when he is in the act of committing a sin. It is this perfectionism, failure to act, and uncertainty about the correct path that ultimately result in Hamlet’s death and lead Denmark into chaos.

In Shakespearean tragedies, the hero usually dies along with his opponent. The death of a hero is not an ordinary death; it encompasses the loss of an exceptionally intellectual, honest, intelligent, noble, and virtuous person. In a tragedy, when good is destroyed along with evil, the loss is known as a “tragic waste.” Shakespearean tragedy always includes a tragic waste of goodness. Hamlet is a perfect example of tragic waste. Even though Hamlet succeeds in uprooting the evil from Denmark, he does so at the cost of his death. In this case, the good (Hamlet) gets destroyed along with evil (Claudius). Neither of them wins. Instead, they fail together.

Conflict is another imperative element of a Shakespearean tragedy. There are two types of conflicts:

External Conflict

External conflict plays a vital role in the tragedies of Shakespeare. External conflict causes internal conflict in the mind of the tragic hero. Every tragic hero in a Shakespearean play is confronted with external conflicts that must be addressed. Hamlet, for example, is confronted with external conflict in the shape of his uncle, Claudius. He has to take revenge, but as a result of his uncle’s craftiness and effective security, Hamlet isn’t able to translate his ideas into action. This external conflict gives rise to internal conflict, which hinders Hamlet from taking any action.

Internal Conflict

Internal conflict is one of the most essential elements in a Shakespearean tragedy. It refers to the confusion in the mind of the hero. Internal conflict is responsible for the hero’s fall, along with fate or destiny. The tragic hero always faces a critical dilemma. Often, he cannot make a decision, which results in his ultimate failure. Again, Hamlet is a perfect example. He is usually a doer, but over the course of the play, his indecision and frequent philosophical hangups create a barrier to action. Internal conflict is what causes Hamlet to spare the life of Claudius while he is praying.

Catharsis is a remarkable feature of a Shakespearean tragedy. It refers to the cleansing of the audience’s pent-up emotions. In other words, Shakespearean tragedies help the audience to feel and release emotions through the aid of tragedy. When we watch a tragedy, we identify with the characters and take their losses personally. A Shakespearean tragedy gives us an opportunity to feel pity for a certain character and fear for another, almost as if we are playing the roles ourselves. The hero’s hardships compel us to empathize with him. The villain’s cruel deeds cause us to feel wrath toward him. Tears flow freely when a hero like Hamlet dies. At the same time we feel both sorry for Hamlet and happy that Claudius has received his proper punishment.

Supernatural elements are another key aspect of a Shakespearean tragedy. They play an import role in creating an atmosphere of awe, wonder, and sometimes fear. Supernatural elements are typically used to advance the story and drive the plot. The ghost Hamlet sees plays an important role in stirring up internal conflict. It is the ghost who tells Hamlet his father was killed by his uncle Claudius and assigns him the duty of taking revenge. Similarly, the witches in Macbeth play a significant role in the plot. These witches are responsible for motivating Macbeth to resort to murder in order to ascend the throne of Scotland.

Poetic Justice means good is rewarded and evil is punished; it refers to a situation in which everything comes to a fitting and just end. There is no poetic justice in the tragedies of Shakespeare, rather, these plays contain only partial justice. Shakespeare understood that poetic justice rarely occurs outside of fiction. Good deeds often go without reward and immoral people are often free to enjoy life to its fullest. “Do good and have good” was considered an outdated ethos in the time of Shakespeare, which is why we don’t find any poetic justice in his tragedies. Good is crushed along with evil. Hamlet dies along with Claudius.

Comic relief is our final key element. Shakespeare didn’t follow in the footsteps of his classical predecessors when writing tragedies. Greek and Roman writers didn’t use comic relief. But Shakespeare wanted to relieve the tension for the reader and lighten up the mood here and there. A few examples of comic relief scenes include the grave digger scene in Hamlet, the drunken port scene in Macbeth, the fool is smarter than the king dialogue in King Lear, and the Polonius in the wings speech in Hamlet. We also have the following scene in Romeo and Juliet:

MERCUTIO: “No, ‘tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church-door, but ‘tis enough; ‘twill serve. Ask for me to-morrow, and you shall find me a grave man. I am pepper’d, I warrant, for this world.”

Shakespeare’s tragedies are certainly among his most famous works. They include classics like Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Julius Caesar, and Romeo and Juliet, all of which are mentioned above. However, tragedies were not the only type of play he wrote. In fact, many of his other works fall into three distinct categories. They include comedies (like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, and The Taming of the Shrew), histories (such as Anthony and Cleopatra, Henry VIII, and Richard III), and romances (including The Tempest, Cymbeline, and The Winter’s Tale). Each type of Shakespearean play, the tragedies, comedies, histories, and romances, have their own set of defining characteristics uniquely attributed to The Bard himself, and those characteristics are responsible for the enduring popularity of his works and style today.

Samuel Upham: The Counterfeiter Who Helped Win the Civil War

It was early in 1862, and the Civil War had been raging for almost a year. Samuel Curtis Upham owned a little store in Philadelphia where he sold perfumes, drugs, cosmetics, stationery, and newspapers. But suddenly, on February 24, 1862, Upham came face to face with what he quickly recognized as the biggest business opportunity of his life.

On that fateful day, Upham was surprised and puzzled by the extraordinary number of customers who came to his shop to buy copies of the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper. When he asked why so many people wanted that day’s paper, a customer drew his attention to the front page. It featured a copy of a five-dollar Confederate bill, and everybody was curious to see what Confederate money looked like.

Suddenly a light went on in Upham’s mind. That picture would be on the Inquirer’s front page for just that one day. But with this much interest, he could sell replicas of Confederate money every day.

He was soon on his way to the offices of the newspaper, where he purchased the plate used to print the image of the bill. He quickly ran off 3,000 copies, and was highly gratified that they sold out at a penny each in a few days. Just that quickly Samuel Upham was in a new line of business.

In Upham’s mind, at least at the beginning, his new business was that of selling these reproductions of Confederate money as souvenirs of the war. At the bottom of each replica he placed a note identifying what these bills were and where they came from:

FAC-SIMILE CONFEDERATE NOTE SOLD WHOLESALE OR RETAIL BY S. C. UPHAM, 403 CHESTNUT STREET, PHILADELPHIA.

(Note: “Fac-simile” was the standard spelling of the word at that time).

Whether by accident or design, Upham printed this note along the very bottom edge of the bill, and in small print. That meant his acknowledgment that this was fake money could be easily cut away. Since in the technology-poor Confederacy scissors or shears were often used to cut apart sheets of genuine bills produced by Confederate authorities, an Upham facsimile, shorn of its identifying note at the bottom, looked just like the real thing.

It soon became clear that Samuel Upham wasn’t the only one to recognize a good business opportunity when he saw it. Soon he was receiving bulk orders for his replicas. Upham would have had to have been pretty dense not to realize that his customers weren’t just putting his bills in scrapbooks as mementos of the war. It was quickly recognized that each of the Upham bills was just one snip of the scissors away from being able to pass as real Confederate currency, and savvy Yankee traders soon began to take advantage of that fact. Many of them were cotton smugglers carrying on an illicit trade across enemy lines with Southern planters.

That Upham understood that his bills were being used as counterfeit Confederate money, and that he in fact now intended just that result, is shown by what he did next. First, he ran ads in newspapers all over the North offering to sell his “perfect fac-similes” by mail order to anyone who wanted to buy them. His ad boasted that the “engraving is fully equal to that of the originals.”

Upham also offered to pay in gold for genuine samples of other denominations of Confederate money and postage stamps so that he could reproduce those also. An enterprising Northern entrepreneur could purchase Upham bills of up to $100 face value for five cents each, and a replica Confederate postage stamp for three cents.

By May of 1862 Upham was able to boast in a circular, “Upwards of 80,000 of the Notes, Shinplasters and Postage Stamps have been sold during the past four weeks, and the cry is for more.” By the end of May Upham put out another circular claiming, “500,000 sold in the past three months.” Hilariously, this circular also warned potential purchasers, “BEWARE OF BASE IMITATIONS.” Upham was worried about his counterfeits being counterfeited!

By the summer of 1862 Upham’s bills were turning up in large numbers in northern Virginia. As Union armies moved south into areas previously held by the Confederates, many of the soldiers came well equipped with Confederate “money” which they freely used to make purchases from the civilian population.

An illustration of how this trade was carried on is provided by Captain Chester Barney, an officer with the 20th Iowa Infantry. He wrote in September of 1862 of what was happening among Union troops in Arkansas. His description demonstrates just how shameless soldiers could be in palming off these fake bills (which in this case may or may not have been Upham’s) on unsuspecting rebel citizens:

It was here that I learned that many of our men had commenced a large business in Confederate currency, or what seemed just as good, the fac-simile money, which was deemed by the rebel sympathizers better and safer than greenbacks. Having learned of this weakness of our “Southern brethren” before leaving Rolla, many of them had bought large amounts of this spurious trash which only purported to be an imitation of the Confederate note, and were now passing it off freely in the way of trade, but always in such amounts as required at least some change in return. We met here many who were willing to exchange “Lincoln Greenbacks” for this fac-simile stuff, dollar for dollar, and as the boys had purchased it at Rolla for about the original cost of the paper, they made quite a handsome profit in this transaction. … The Bank of “Fac-Simile” will have a large run if it redeems all its notes our boys put in circulation in Missouri and Arkansas.

By April the fakes were appearing in Richmond, catching the attention of Confederate authorities. The rebel Treasury Department soon recognized them for what they were and passed on the information to the most popular of the Richmond newspapers, the Daily Dispatch. In its May 31, 1862 edition, the Dispatch voiced its outrage in an article headlined “Yankee rascality”:

The Yankee swindle before us is an engraved note, of the denomination of fifteen cents…and so like the original, which is lithographed, that it can only be detected by the words, in very small print underneath the border line, “Facsimile rebel shinplaster — sold, wholesale and retail, by S. C. Upham, 408 Chesnut street, Philadelphia.” Who is this man Upham? A knave swindler, and forger of the most depraved and despicable sort…

Doubtless the counterfeits in question have been scattered broadcast wherever an execrable Yankee soldier polluted the soil with his cloven foot.

As the summer of 1862 came to a close, the circulation of Upham’s faux currency was so great throughout the Confederacy that Jefferson Davis felt he had to address the issue before his Congress. In his August 18, 1862 message to the Confederate House and Senate, Davis spoke of his conviction that the Union government had mounted an effort to flood the South with counterfeit money in order to destabilize its financial system:

The moneyed obligations of the Confederate Government are forged by citizens of the United States and publicly advertised for sale in their cities, with a notoriety that sufficiently attests the knowledge of their government; and its complicity in the crime is further evinced by the fact that the soldiers of the invading armies are found supplied with large quantities of these forged notes, as a means of despoiling the country people by fraud of such portions of their property as armed violence may fail to reach.

Was Jefferson Davis right? Was the U. S. government behind, or at least complicit in, Upham’s counterfeiting operation?

According to Dr. Marc D. Weidenmier, professor of Economics at Claremont McKenna College, the U. S. government was certainly aware that Upham was producing counterfeit currency; after all, he was advertising his wares in newspapers. But the concern of Treasury officials was simply to make sure that the counterfeits he was selling were not of U. S. money. Dr. Weidenmier says that Upham specifically told federal investigators “that he was not making bogus Greenbacks. Rather, he was crippling the Confederate economy by producing large numbers of counterfeit Grayback notes that were being used to purchase cotton in the South.” Apparently Upham now viewed his operation as part of the Union war effort.

The Upham investigation was referred to the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, who found no breach of U. S. law and dismissed the case.

Dr. Weidenmier notes that some historians believe Stanton did surreptitiously assist Upham in his efforts to destabilize the Southern economy by supplying him with genuine Confederate banknote paper produced in England and captured from blockade runners.

Whether the U. S. government provided direct aid or not, the bottom line is that it had no legal issues with Upham and others producing counterfeit Confederate money. Why? Because as far as Abraham Lincoln’s government was concerned, no such thing as the Confederate States of America existed. (See Why Abraham Lincoln Refused To Respect Jefferson Davis). Thus any banknotes or other negotiables printed by them was just so much pretty paper. And there’s nothing wrong with printing pretty paper!

So Samuel Upham had hit upon a perfect business opportunity for a nation engaged in civil war. By spreading counterfeits of the enemy’s money, he was able to legitimately profit by undermining the rebels’ economic resources while remaining absolutely on the right side of the law as far as his own government was concerned.

Of course, Confederate president Jefferson Davis didn’t see it quite that way, and put a $10,000 bounty on Upham’s head. (Wouldn’t it have been ironic if the bounty had been paid, which it never was, in Upham’s own notes!) In addition, wanting to insure that none of their own people followed Upham’s example, the Confederate Congress made counterfeiting a capital crime. They actually did execute a man named John Richardson for counterfeiting in August of 1862.

Upham’s counterfeiting business only lasted until August of 1863. By that time Confederate finances were in such a mess that even genuine notes were losing all value. Southern cotton traders would accept only U. S. Greenbacks or gold in payment, and the trade in Confederate counterfeits almost completely dried up.

In a way Samuel Upham was the victim of his own success. Dr. Weidenmier estimates that Upham printed between 0.93% and 2.78% of the Confederate money in circulation during the time he was active as a counterfeiter. Based on calculations of the total supply of Southern currency, Dr. Weidenmier believes that “Upham’s counterfeiting business had a significant impact on the Confederate price level.”

After the war Upham was quite proud of the contribution he had made to Union victory. He wrote:

I commenced printing them in the early part of March, 1862. I printed from March 12, 1862, to August I, 1863, 1,564,050 facsimiles of these notes of denominations ranging from five cents to one hundred dollars, and presume the aggregate issue in dollars and cents would amount to the round number of $15,000,000…

I printed in all twenty-eight different varieties of notes and shinplasters and fifteen different postage stamps.

During the publication of these notes Senator Foote, in his speech before the Congress at Richmond, in 1862, said I had done more to injure the Confederate cause than Gen. McClellan and his army. Since the close of that war I have learned that President Davis, during the rebellion, offered a reward of $10,000 for my “corpus, dead or alive.”

After his counterfeiting business dried up, Upham went back to selling stationery and newspapers. When he died on June 29, 1885 at the age of 56, he left an estate valued at $4,889.97, a not inconsiderable sum in those days.

Ironically, Upham’s counterfeits may be more valuable today than they were during the war. One modern day trader says of Upham’s notes:

Today, Confederate contemporary counterfeit notes are very collectable and in many instances, worth as much as the authentic note counterfeited after, and in a few instances, it is worth more.

In other words, the notes Samuel Upham began printing as almost worthless souvenirs now are now highly valued … as souvenirs!

Waterfall Jumper Sam Patch: Early American Daredevil

In the 1820s, a mill worker named Sam Patch captured the imagination of much of the American public with a series of death-defying leaps. Sam’s daredevil exploits drew large crowds and lots of media attention, aided by his skill at self-promotion.

In our celebrity-saturated culture, it is common to think the public’s fascination with show business and celebrities is a relatively recent phenomenon. Certainly the advent of movies, radio, and television in the 20th century increased the public’s awareness of and interest in celebrities, and the rapid growth of cable TV and the Internet in recent years has fueled an explosion in the demand for celebrity news. But America’s captivation with showmen and celebrities began far earlier, as Sam Patch’s story illustrates.

Sam Patch was born into modest circumstances in Reading, Massachusetts, in 1799. When Sam was seven years old, the family moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, the premier textile milling town in the United States. Sam, like many other children, got a job in the mills. He became a mule spinner at Samuel Slater’s mill. (A spinning mule is a machine used to spin cotton fiber into yarn.).

Like many other boys and young men in Pawtucket, Sam amused himself by jumping off walls, roofs, and other high places. Sam developed considerable jumping skill as he entertained fellow workers by jumping at the Pawtucket Falls of the Blackstone River.

Around 1820 Sam Patch moved to Paterson, New Jersey to work in Paterson’s growing textile industry. He became a boss mule spinner at the Hamilton Mills, in the industrial district near the Great Falls of the Passaic River (also commonly known as the Passaic Falls or the Paterson Falls).

In 1827, an entrepreneur named Timothy Crane began building a bridge across the falls. Crane had purchased land on the far side of the falls that had been picnic grounds for millworkers and their families. He converted the land to manicured gardens and built a bar and restaurant to cater to the wealthier residents of the area. Crane also built a wooden bridge to cross the falls and announced that the bridge would be put in place on September 30. It was a big event: the factories were closed and a large crowd gathered.

But Sam Patch stole the show from Crane and his celebration, wowing the crowd by jumping from the cliff at the falls some 77 feet (23 meters) into the swirling waters below.

Accounts differ as to the circumstances of Sam’s jump. There were reports that he had planned the leap as a workingman’s protest against Crane and the conversion of the picnic areas to a private playground for the rich. Others said that Sam was drunk and decided to jump at the spur of the moment to retrieve a roller that had fallen from the apparatus being used to move the bridge into place. Some even said that a jilted Sam had jumped for love.

Sam himself denied that he was drunk or lovelorn and maintained that jumping was an art requiring knowledge and courage, which he had perfected through practice. In any event, Sam, the “Jersey Jumper,” was energized by the crowd’s enthusiastic reaction to his feat. He jumped at the falls again on the 4th of July 1828, on a day when Crane was mounting Paterson’s first commercial fireworks display. A third jump came on July 19, before a crowd larger than Paterson’s population.

Sam’s jumping fame began to spread beyond Paterson. On August 6, 1828, Sam leaped from the high mast of a sloop in the Hudson River at Hoboken, New Jersey, in a jump that was publicized in advance in the New York newspapers. In announcing the “eccentric novelty” of Sam’s Hoboken jump to its readers, the New-York Enquirer hailed Sam’s “wonderful and intrepid leaps from the Peake of Paterson Falls, to the abyss below.”

Sam’s successful Hoboken jump was widely reported in the press and Sam became a celebrity. He took his act on the road, traveling on his “Jumping Tour” with a pet fox and later with a pet bear. As he moved beyond New Jersey, he jumped from bridges, cliffs, and other dangerous high places at various spots along the East Coast. He now styled himself “The Yankee Leaper,” boasting “There’s no mistake in Sam Patch!”

As his fame increased, Sam was offered $75 by a group of hotel owners to jump at the Niagara Falls in October 1829. No one had ever survived a jump at Niagara.

Sam’s jump was scheduled for October 6, but he arrived too late to make the jump, so it was rescheduled for the next day. On October 7 he made a successful jump of about 80 feet (24 meters), but the small size of the crowd (and, presumably, the smaller than anticipated amount of the spectators’ contributions) disappointed him.

He arranged for a second jump on Saturday, October 17, and distributed promotional handbills to publicize it. As promised in the handbill, he also jumped from the 50-foot (15-meter) masthead of the steamboat Niagara on his way to the falls. This time some 10,000 spectators witnessed his leap at the falls. Sam thrilled the crowd by jumping about 120 feet (37 meters) from a platform built at the top of a ladder that was chained to the cliff wall, into the churning, aerated waters below the falls.

After Niagara Falls, Sam’s fame grew even more, as word spread of his “Aero-Nautical Feats, never before attempted, either in the Old or New World.”

Before returning home to New Jersey, Sam planned one more stop on his Jumping Tour: the Upper Falls of the Genesee River near Rochester, New York. This 97-foot (30-meter) drop was almost as spectacular as Niagara Falls.

Sam’s jump was arranged for Friday, November 6, at 2 p.m. Before a crowd estimated at between 6,000 and 8,000 people, he climbed with his bear to a rock ledge in the middle of the river, 100 feet (30 meters) above the water. After first pushing the bear off the ledge and seeing it swim safely to shore, Sam jumped. The crowd cheered as he surfaced in the water below.

Apparently, however, the jump did not raise as much money from the spectators as Sam had hoped for. He decided to make a second jump a week later, on Friday the 13th. This would be a more daring feat than the first one: instead of jumping from the rock ledge, Sam had a platform built 25 feet above the ledge, raising the height of his jump to 125 feet (38 meters).

The second jump — “Higher Yet!” — was publicized throughout the area with posters proclaiming “Sam’s Last Jump!” This boast was to prove prescient. In front of 8,000 spectators, Sam jumped into the icy water but never surfaced. Observers noted that he did not jump with his usual erect form, and his body slammed into the water.

Many people believed that Sam had survived but had gone into hiding to build his legend, only to make a triumphant reappearance later. But four months later Sam’s frozen body was found downriver near Lake Ontario. The Anti-Masonic Enquirer newspaper reported on March 23, 1830, that Sam’s body was “perfectly preserved,” and that his black handkerchief was tied around him as it had been when he made his final leap.

Sam was gone, but his legend persisted. Jumping — over fences, over store counters — had become a national pastime among young and old, as everyone tried to “do Sam Patch.” His motto, “Some things can be done as well as others,” was a catchphrase around the country.

Some preachers spoke out against the “strange and savage curiosity” of the crowds that had gone to see him, with some even suggesting that the spectators were complicit in his death. But by and large, Sam was a folk hero. Even President Andrew Jackson, a folk hero in his own right, named his favorite horse Sam Patch.

Sam was celebrated in the theater and in literature. A few years after his death, comedian-actor Dan Marble played Sam in a traveling show “Sam Patch, or the Daring Yankee,” first in western cities and then in Boston and New York. Sam was celebrated in poetry as “The Great Descender, Mighty Patch!” In his 1835 sketch “Rochester,” Nathaniel Hawthorne recounted how Sam, “the jumper of cataracts,” “took his last leap, and alighted in the other world.” Herman Melville and William Dean Howells spoke of Sam in their novels. In 1870, the McLoughlin Brothers company published a picture book, The Wonderful Leaps of Sam Patch.

For years after his death, people continued to believe Sam was still alive. There were frequent Sam Patch sightings around the country. As one recent commentator put it, “the 19th century Evel Knievel turned into the 19th century Elvis.” (The Memory Palace, Podcast Episode 17 “Plummeting Approval”)

For a few brief years in the late 1820s, daredevil Sam Patch was a star. He gave ordinary Americans, especially working class people like himself, a chance to dream of big things. Deeds that were larger than life. The adulation of crowds. Fame.

That’s not so different from the allure that show business and celebrities provide today.

The Salem Witchhunts: A History of Witches, Trials, and Witch Hunts!

Although the Salem Witch Trials had many of the same triggers as the European witch hunts, there were some notable differences caused by Salem’s unique history. One of the most notable differences is that the Salem witch trials started long after most of the European witch trials ended. Salem Witch Trials also lasted for a very short time in comparison, but more people in comparison to the population were killed than in many of the areas where witch hunts occurred. The first accusation was on January 1692 and lasted until May 1693. The death count is unknown for sure. The most obvious difference between the witch trials was that the Salem witch trials occurred in America: to be more specific in Salem Village, Massachusetts.

Salem witchhunts began with two young girls Betty and Abigail. Betty was nine and the Reverend Samuel Parris’s daughter. Abigail was his niece and two years older than Betty. They unexpectedly began acting very strangely by twisting their bodies in strange positions and screaming. They would also cover their ears and scream during prayer, acting as if the prayers were literally harming them.

The Reverend became very concerned and began praying for the two girls, and requested that a doctor come and examine them. The doctor played an integral part in these witch hunts, because he was the first to claim that the reason for the bizarre behavior was because they were inflicted by witchcraft. This spread fear among the community.

To understand why this community would believe such a bizarre accusation, you must first realize several things about their community. First, they were originally European settlers, who found a home in the new world. So they had just come from a society that feared witchcraft. The other part you must realize is how the community was set up.

There were actually two parts of Salem, the village and the town. The village consisted of 500 people. One of those who lived in the village was the minister (Samuel Parris) so that he could live close to the meeting house.

The town, on the other hand, was a poor farm community. The poverty in this town was a big source of stress in this community, as they struggled to provide enough food. This along with a state of fear and stress due to attacks that happened just shortly before the accusations. Salem Town was continually being attacked by the Wampanoag Indians; therefore, they were in constant fear that these attacks would resume at any time. After being in such turmoil and fear, when the witch accusations occurred, they were already in a heightened emotional state.

Along with the constant state of fear, they also had very strict laws due to their Puritan lifestyle. There were laws about what type of clothes they were allowed to wear, regarding their church attendance, as well as many other customs. They were stretched thin due to their extensive work in fields and such, and Sunday was the only day of rest from their endless work.

There was so much that the people didn’t understand, and they searched for answers. Due to their stress, and their lack of knowledge of science and psychology, they believed the causes of many of the actions of others was due to magic. During this time, people believed that witchcraft was the work of Satan. They also believed that anything that was bad, such as disease or drought was the cause of Satan. These beliefs actually originated in Europe and were carried over to America as people traveled here.

Because they believed that magic was done by Satan, they believed the appropriate punishment for witchcraft would be death. This also follows a line in the bible that is very misunderstood that states that the punishment of being a witch is death. This verse was actually translated incorrectly, since the closest English word to the greek was witch, although the word means something slightly different.

Since the minister was a prominent person in the community, people listened to him. If the girls had been related to anyone else, the widespread panic may not have occurred, but Parris believed the only way to heal the girls was to remove the witches.

Many believed the girls knew who the witches were but they refused to tell who it was. Despite their heavy resistance towards music, there was a church member Mary Sibley who asked Tituba, a woman known for doing “magic,” to use magic to identify the witch. Tituba most likely used herbal remedies and medicinal things, but they believed this to be magic during this time. Tituba told Mary to give a cake to Parris’s dog which they believed would identify the witch. Then there were others who believed prayer would cure witchcraft.

The irony in this seem to come to light and Tituba became the first one to be accused of being the witch that caused this. This was easy for people to believe. Although she originally said she was not the witch, she later confessed believing things would go easier if she confessed.

Yet, despite Tituba being in jail, two more girls began acting strangely; Ann Putman and Elizabeth Hubbard along with 6 more girls. All of them claimed to be victims of witchcraft. They became known as the afflicted girls.

On February 25, 1692, Betty and Abigail claimed Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne to be witches. Most likely, they were beginning to feel pressures to claim someone, and since the two Sarah’s were known for being unfriendly, they were easy for people to believe. Thomas Putnam, Ann’s father, believed they were telling the truth. He wanted to bring justice for her daughter and brought charges against the accused witches.

By March first the 3 accused witches were brought to the meeting house to decide if they should stand trial. Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne both claimed innocence. During the trial, the girls began their strange behavior. They claimed a witches specter (the spirit of a witch that only the victim could see) was pinching and biting them.

Although Tituba initially claimed innocence, she changed her story. No one knows for sure, but it is possible she thought they would be easier on her. She also claimed the other two were witches as well. She claimed they had flown on broomsticks and even said there were more witches. As a result, both Good and Osborne went to trial, while Tituba was spared since they believed she broke Satan’s hold on her by confessing. But a search for others began.

Ann Putman soon claimed another women’s specter that of Martha Corey was hurting her. Martha was initially a well-respected woman and said she thought the girls were lying, nonetheless she was arrested. With such a well-respected person in custody, people began looking at one another with fear and suspicion suspecting their neighbors of this heinous crime. During Martha’s trials, girls claimed Martha’s specter was biting them and even had bite marks to prove.

Next, they accused Rebecca Nurse. (Her tombstone is seen at the right of this article.) Although the judges first dismissed her because of her well-respected position, they quickly changed their minds due to the girls increasingly bizarre behavior. Later they even claimed Dorcas Good, a four-year-old was a witch. When they asked Dorcas, she claimed that both her mom and she were witches. They carried her and her mother away in chains

Not everyone believed these tales. One man John Proctor felt girls were just causing trouble. The girls then accused his wife, since he defended his wife both of them were arrested. As you can see by the picture of the tomb, he was hung due to his strong stance and resistance to the witch trials!!! If I ever find a clearer image of his tomb, I will post it instead.

Finally one of the girls, Mary Warren admitted to faking the behavior. She also said that the other girls were too. The girls turned on her and then claimed her of witchcraft. Mary was eventually released due to “admitting the truth.” She said that she was, in fact, she was a witch and that the girls were really entranced by witches. She kept silent afterward and all charges were dropped.

Overall, the witch trials lasted over four months, which does not seem like that long. But there were 150 people in the small town who were arrested, 19 hung, and one that was pressed to death. Although no one knows for sure what the death toll was, because many died in the prisons, so an exact total of the people lost due to the witch hunts remains unknown.

It is a sad part of American history. No one will know for sure whether mental illness, acting, or just oppression of these young girls was the cause.

  • Ginzburg, Carlo. The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Translated by John and Anne Tedeschi. (Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992).
  • Kors, Alan Charles, and Edward Peters. Witchcraft in Europe 400-1700: A Documentary History. Second Edition. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001).
  • Levack, Brian P. The Witch Hunt in Early Modern Europe. Third Edition. (Harlow: Pearson Education Limited, 2006).
1 2 3 10