Through The Looking Glass Of A Writer

English 131 has been academically challenging and a rewarding experience this semester. Anyone who knows me knows that I have a passion for writing, and strive to do my best, especially in the subject of English.  A lot of the assignments that I have done in this course have helped me blossom into a better writer.  I believe that planning, drafting, and revising my critical essays, textual analysis, writing for an online audience, and presenting critical essays as blog posts has made me into the writer I am today.

At the beginning  The first critical essay that I wrote was on the play Creature, by Heidi Schreck. In this essay I wrote about how the main character, Margery Kempe.  Margery makes impulsive decisions that cause her not to trust her friend, Jacob. Planning, drafting and revising  this critical analysis  helped me to become more comfortable with writing long and short length pieces of writing. I had been given the chance to incorporate divergent thinking into my writing and to better understand difficult concepts when writing. Drafting my essay in class was helpful because I could use that time to gather my thoughts and put them down on paper. The drafting process also gave me the responsibility of asking my professor any questions that I had at the time. Drafting my first critical essay helped me with citing my sources within my writing. Citing textual evidence on a college level was relatively new to me, and writing my critical essays helped me to improve on citing my textual findings.  After I explained Margery’s reasoning behind not trusting Jacob and figuring out the theme, I cited textual evidence to backup my claim.  I stated that the character, Jacob, seemed to be a loyal person, but not everyone is who they claim to be.  Jacob says “I wonder if they’ll use green wood to burn you (Schreck 63). Using this method of citing my sources helped me to be able to write on a more advanced level. Revising my draft into a final piece of writing was thrilling. The process of editing was quite stressful because I wanted every detail to be perfect, and no mistakes present in my writing. Personally, the revision process when writing my critical essays was difficult at first, but by repeatedly revising, I became much more confident and attentive to my work.  Planning, drafting, and revising my essays has made me more confident as a writer, and has enriched my thinking to heights I never thought possible.

Writing for an online audience and having a blog has been a fantastic experience. The reason I think it has helped me develop as a writer is I have gotten to express myself more clearly outside of the classroom. When posting my blogs, I felt like I had more freedom to write from the heart. Being able to have a blog  has given me the opportunity to write a variety of things for a wider audience. One of my blog posts was based on the book Our Town, by Thornton Wilder. In my last essay I wrote about how Wilder’s play influenced Frank Capra’s film, It’s A Wonderful Life.  I expressed that Donald  Margulies said It’s a Wonderful Life owes a great deal to Our Town. (xi).  Sharing my critical essays as a blog post has allowed me to let my classmates see my thought process and presentation of those thoughts. Sharing my work means being able to develop my ideas further, as opposed to keeping those ideas to myself.

English at Lenoir Rhyne University has allowed me to realize that there is more to writing than just writing an essay a for class. Writing is a combination of three things: storytelling, creativity, and heart. When I think about how far I have come, it brings a sense of pride over me. English isn’t about being the best writer, it’s about sharing your story and being a diverse intellectual . I plan on continuing my passion for writing well into my career as a teacher, and telling my future students that writing begins with an open mind.

                               Works Cited  

Schreck, Heidi. Creature. Samuel French, 2011.

Margulies, Donald. Foreword.Our Town by Thornton Wilder. Harper  Perennial, 2003, pp. xi-xx

                                              Annotated Bibliography

Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City. Vintage, 2004.

The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson is centered around the Chicago World Fair of 1893. The story follows the lives of Daniel Burnham and H.H. Holmes, two men who prepare for their individual missions of success. Burnham is in the process of making the fair an spectacular event for everyone, even in the midst of  a series of serial murders committed by Holmes.

Maslin, Janet. “Add a Serial Murderer to 1893 Chicago’s Opulent Overkill.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 Feb. 2003,

“Add a Serial Murderer to 1893 Chicago’s Opulent Overkill” by Janet Maslin takes a personal look at Larson’s book, The Devil In The White City. She states that Larson likes to embroider the past that way…so he relentlessly fuses history and entertainment. Maslin goes on to say that Larson uses specific detail  such as historic events  to give the book the feel of a novel.

Richtel, Matt. “Blogs vs. Term Papers.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 20 Jan. 2012,

“Blogs vs. Term Papers” by Matt Richtel opens up an argument about which two of these methods are best for English students. Some professors use blogs because it gives students the opportunity to write for an online audience. Other professor find it more effective to have students write academic term papers, to show the instructor what the students have learned.

Schreck, Heidi. Creature. Samuel French, 2011.

Creature by Heidi Schreck follows the life of Margery Kempe, a woman disturbed by the presence of the devil. The story focuses on trust and psychological interference while giving insight on the universal idea of love and hell. “He who has seen her comings and goings knows that love is the highest name of hell.” (Hadeuhjoh of Brabant),  Earth can be a form of hell and even worse the hell itself.

Twenge, Jean M. “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 4 Aug. 2017,

“Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation” by Jean M. Twenge is about what smartphones have done to teens both socially and psychologically. In this argument Twenge presents statistics and scientific evidence to support her claim. Twenge expresses her concern about too much screen time and not enough interaction with the outside world. The authors main concern is the higher rates of depression and other psychological impact from too much screen time.

Whitehead, Colson. The Underground Railroad. Doubleday, 2016.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead Captures the life of a young girl named Cora, who is a third generation slave in the south. On her journey Cora is faced with the harsh and brutal realities of being a slave. At her lowest point she describes having the last thing she had to call her own being taken away, her pride. Cora is determined to make a better life for herself, even if that means running for her life.

Wilder, Thornton. Our Town. Harper, 2003.

Our Town by Thornton Wilder tells the story of multiple families living in the small town of Grover’s Corner. In the story each family has the challenge of dealing with hardships and taking care of loved ones. The setting, dialogue and themes, paints a picture of  small-town American life. The story follows Emily Webb, one of the main characters, from early childhood until death.

All American Life





Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town and Frank Capra’s film It’s A Wonderful Life captures  the lives of three small town characters and their families. Wilder’s play tells the story of  two teens that are becoming young adults and discover their love for one another.  Capra’s film tells the story of George Bailey, a businessman, husband, and father that fails to realize his importance in life.  The play influenced the film’s ideas of romance, community, and tragic outcomes.  The play and film describe the life lesson that people should live life to the fullest. All of these details paint a clear picture of small-town American life.  

One influence that Wilder’s play had on Capra’s film was romance.  Romance gave the audience hope and happiness. The character George Bailey is someone who is somewhat okay with being alone. Capra’s film gave more emotion to his character, and helped audiences connect to the character’s story. Romance is a part of all human life, and without it there is no journey to fulfill for his characters.  People want to know that they are loved, and Wilder’s play gave Capra’s film that experience.  Falling in love also has to do with having a purpose.  Capra gives his characters a sense of purpose by showing the ups and downs in relationships.

Community is a big part of  both Wilder’s play and makes Capra’s film a circle of unity. In act one of the play readers witness how small but social the community is in Our Town. Every character in the play has a unique relationship with one another and knows each other’s business. In Capra’s film the sense of community is well drawn out by physical interaction with the citizens in the town. The film shows how everyone needs help from time to time, and that there is always someone who is the heart of their town.  George Bailey is a man who is willing to do any task for his fellow neighbors and strangers. Tragic outcomes were also apart of the play and carried over into the movie. In Capra’s film the audience witnesses George Bailey’s decision not to exist because of his feeling of unimportance in the world.  Wilder’s play had a crucial impact on Capra’s film, by giving it human qualities for the audience to connect to. Feeling unimportant is an emotion most of us can relate to occasionally.

Wilder’s and Capra’s presentations achieved one universal theme of living life to the fullest.  The main characters were conflicted by events in their life. We, as the reader and audience, got to understand what it means to live life to the fullest and to the best of our ability. “It’s a Wonderful Life” actually owes a great deal to “Our Town” (xi). The analysis reveals that Wilder’s play had a huge impression on Capra’s film through the use of  romance, tragic outcome, and community.  Characters from both stories experiencedeath as result of the decisions they have made, leading to the common theme, live life to the fullest because tomorrow isn’t promised



                                                            Works Cited


Watch It’s A Wonderful Life 1946 Online Full Movies.” YouTube, YouTube, 10 Mar. 2017,

Wilder, Thornton. Our Town. 1938. Harper Perennial, 2003


It’s Easier To Hide Than To  Deal With Reality



The Devil In The White City captures the life of killer  H. H. Holmes, during The Chicago World Fair of 1893. In the chapter “ All the Weary Days”, Holmes has gone to prison for murder and a crime scene investigation is underway. The horrific images leave the detectives baffled and question if Holmes is capable of such a horrific murder. Meanwhile leaving Holmes to have hidden his brutal crime in multiple places around town.  Holmes is a psychopath, which leaves him unable to take responsibility for his actions.  His inability to take responsibility for such a crime affects everyone around him.

In the midst of the crime scene investigation detectives searched every boarding house in the surrounding area to try to see if they could unravel this puzzle. While searching for evidence, the detectives can’t possibly come to term with the fact that Holmes could have committed such a heinous crime like murder.  Detective David Richard says “each day turned up additional evidence that Holmes was something far worse than even Geyer’s macabre discoveries indicated” (363).  During this time the detectives are discussing how many people are suspected to have gone missing during the World Fair.  Both detectives are disturbed that so many people are unaccounted for. The truth was being discovered slowly, and it was evident that Holmes was capable of more than people could have ever imagined. Geyer says“there was a speculation that during the World Fair he killed dozens of people, most of them young women” (363).

Readers witness Holmes’s ability to hide his crime through no remorse and manipulation. The way Holmes hides the brutal fatalities of his victims is a gruesome and haunting image.. Since Holmes is a psychopath and is known for being a master manipulator, he is able to hide his evidence out of plain sight.  Detectives say “ The next day the police discovered another hidden chamber.  Charles Chappell, Holmes’ accomplice,  is alleged to have helped Holmes reduce his corpses to bone” (365).  We also see that Holmes is not going to take responsibility for his actions by any means. He is morally okay with  his decision and chosen path of murder. This situation does not impact how Holmes feels at all, and some readers find this alarming. Holmes lets the case unfold just as he wants, leaving everyone around him in sorrow.  We can clearly see the effect that Holmes had on others surrounding the situation. Mrs. Pitezel said “[ I ] had to put it in the children’s trunk just before I sent them off with Holmes” (368).

  Larson conveys Holmes’ psychological state by using specific details. He writes that Holmes would buy his victims gifts before he would kill them, and keep the gifts afterwards. Larson uses this to explain Holmes’ manipulation of  his victims, and the personal satisfaction of having a reward to remember his success (368).

The Devil In The White City reveals that Holmes was, indeed, capable of this horrendous crime, given the substantial evidence. The book also reveals that Holmes mental health played a role in his inability to take personal responsibility for the crime himself.  Holmes’ actions and emotional effect on others leads to the theme, it’s easier to hide than to deal with reality.


                                                                  Work Cited


             Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City. Vintage, 2004.

Iggy McGovern

Iggy McGovern’s presentation was eye-opening and incredibly unique.  He is from Ireland and majored in physics at Trinity College. One of the poems that he read was called “Disciples”.  The story behind this poem was about baseball in his childhood, and I found it interesting that he used memories from that time period. The insight that received from his readings, is to write about every moment in life. Questions that came to me were how did you come to like poetry?. I look forward to exploring more about poetry and McGovern’s work.

Can a Creature be Trusted?

Creature focuses on the life of Margery Kempe, a woman disturbed by the presence of the devil. In scene fourteen, Margery finds herself overwhelmed with emotions and questions after she goes to visits the priest. The haunting visits from the devil and series of events make her contemplate her trust for others around her. Because Margery makes impulsive decisions, and this leads her to trust someone she should not.IMG_2360

In the church, after Margery has finished talking to the priest, Jacob, Margery’s friend, is waiting to talk to her. Given that Jacob has always been someone who she can trust, Margery feels the need to confess a sin to him. The two characters become closer at this point. Margery tells Jacob that “you don’t need a bible” to confess (Schreck 63). During the conversation, a specific theme stands out in this moment: trust no one with a dark secret. Jacob seems to be a loyal person, but not everyone is who they claim to be. This becomes clear when Jacob states, “I wonder they’ll use green wood on you” (65).

Readers witness Jacob’s tension with Margery while also getting a view of Margery’s internal conflict. The tension is based on what both characters want. Based on the emotions of both characters, we can see that Jacob is playing a series of mind games. He disguises himself as both the devil and an ordinary young man. This observation gives insight as to why Jacob is   tormenting Margery. At this point the Audience can see that Margery is no mentally stable. This becomes more evident when she says “I surrender it all to you…” (65) Meanwhile the choice to make Jacob a two-sided character makes the situation and tension that much more interesting for the reader. This considers the personality changes of both characters while giving an abstract view on who the devil really is.

Some readers may question why Schreck decided to make Jacob a two-sided character, but this makes the relationship between Margery and Jacob unique and makes the plot suspenseful. Making Jacob the voice of the devil makes the reader feel uneasy. Meanwhile, we can better differentiate his angles for interacting with Margery. This is clear in the production of Creature by the LR Playmakers at Lenoir Rhyne University. In the play the audience got to witness Jacob’s personality changes through the specific dialogue, and Margery’s behavior caused by the situation.  Trust is a matter of respecting one’s beliefs. If that concept is betrayed, that trust is broken. Jacob knew what he was doing when he made Margery believe that she was crazy. He says, “My friends all told me that you were a fraud” (65). Margery’s experience leads to the theme: that it is unwise to trust anyone completely.

Work Cited

Schreck, Heidi. Creature. New York, Samuel French, 2011.

Creature, by Heidi Schreck. Dir. Liz Bokhoven. Perf. Liz Bokhoven, Chase Fowler, Benjamin Thomas-Reid, Callie Cope, Milissia Koncelik, Corey Smith, LR Playmakers, Lenoir Rhyne University., Hickory, NC. [21, 22,23 or 24] Sept.2017.

Anyone can become a poet

I enjoyed Jordan’s Makants’s  book launch and poetry reading on Wednesday night. The poem “How To Be Alone” was a raw  piece of writing. I noticed  that most of his poems were emotional and well thought out. The writer shared that he did not like poetry,  and he also get’s grumpy if he does not write. A question that came to my head was  what he planned on doing next. Do you plan on taking poetry into your career?, or is this  something you do for fun. The writer expressed that he does not have a process for writing. I feel like that would beneficial to me as a writer because, I tend to focus more on how perfect the writing has to be. Overall this event was amazing and inspired me to continue doing what I love.

You Are Only As Blind As The World Around You

My name is  Amanda Johnson and I am a visually impaired student at Lenoir Rhyne University. In 2015, I attended the Envisioning Youth Empowerment Retreat.  The retreat is designed to help blind and visually impaired young adults with college and career goals. Attending the college track, students learned tips for navigating college campuses, advocating skills, residential life and more. Before the retreat, I did not feel like I had anyone to connect with who had similar visual experiences .  I am still involved with this wonderful organization. I have attended three consecutive years. The second year I attended, I volunteered my time as a group leader. During the third year I was a group leader and led classes in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and financial aid.  This experience gave me the opportunity to meet some very resilient people. Giving up was not apart of their vocabulary. The  eye retreat’s motto is “I Retreat From No Challenge.” Retreating from a challenge means giving up on yourself and new experiences. I have always been a girl that is up to any challenge. Society under estimates blind and visually impaired individuals and it is time for change.  We may not be able to see the world very well, but we are ready for the world to see us for who we are, intelligent young adults.