10/15/2012 – Shumaila

We began class on Monday by discussing Sunday’s concert called Culture in Harmony. Dr. Kahan introduced us to the works of Felix Mendelssohn, a man whose contributions I had never heard before. Although his music was very popular at the time, Mendelssohn took a “Grand Tour” around Europe, where he was introduced to many aspects of society such as culture and history. He was able to take his experiences around the different countries of Europe, and turn them into great musical works. The work that we heard at the concert was called “Scottish” which was a composition of what Mendelssohn viewed Scottish lifestyle as.

We also discussed how the novel “Washington Square” was written in in 1880 but it was set to take place in 1850. I had not paid attention to this fact until Dr. Kahan pointed it out.  The society in 1880 varied vastly to that of the 1850’s. During 1880, there were a lot of post-war problems. Society was reformed from the serene extravagant lifestyles that people were accustomed to. In order to evoke the tranquil feeling behind the title of the novel, it was necessary to match the time frame to the lifestyle that James was aiming for.

In the latter segment of our class we compared the two movies that were based off of “Washington Square”. The two versions, “The Heiress” and “Washington Square” both portrayed Catherine differently, each with a different approach on her behavior. In “Washington Square”, Catherine meets Morris through her cousin Marian. She seems like an awkward girl who manages to even make the viewers feel uncomfortable. In the older movie, however, she met Morris through her aunt Penniman. Personally, I liked the older adaptation better because I felt as though it more accurately painted a picture of the way I viewed Catherine while reading the novel.