The Rider, Hamlet, and A Doll’s House

Need caught up on my blog? I am a non-traditional college student who has decided to read The Norton Introduction to Literature: Shorter 11th Edition by Kelly J. Mays word-for-word, just because.

My 5th semester in college is coming to a close. I had to shift my focus to my classes and assignments over the last few weeks, so I haven’t had a lot of time to read for pleasure. We’re finally finished with the poetry unit in my English 300 class, and I had to write a paper over one of the poems. I chose to write my paper over the poem “Richard Cory”, by Edward Arlington Robinson, from The Norton Introduction to Literature. I’ve already blogged about this poem a few posts back, before I knew I was going to write a paper.

There were many poems that stuck out to me in the book, but I’ve always liked “Richard Cory” for some reason. It’s not too long, it’s not necessarily overly complicated,  and it can be read a few different ways. In my paper, I discussed the language it used about social class and a monarchy, and the possibility that the poem is comparing a monarchy to a democracy. I don’t know what my grade is, but I’ll find out this Wednesday. I guess then I will see if my thoughts on the poem hold up to critical scrutiny.

A Doll’s House

We also started a drama unit in my English 300 class. We had to read “A Doll’s House”, by Henrick Ibsen from the Norton book. I’ve read it before, and wasn’t aware of the two different translations of the title (“A Doll House” vs. “A Doll’s House”), which we also discussed in class. The title definitely makes a difference in how the play is interpreted, and I’ve looked at a few articles about the subject. I had always seen the play as Nora’s “doll house”, but with the word doll as a singular noun, it forced me to re-read the play with the idea that everyone in the play was a “doll”.

The Rider

My guilty pleasure is The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I read “The Rider”, by Jerome Cygut, from the October/November issue. It was a pretty awesome story about a former poker player turned “rider”, a human puppet for an AI box named David. It probably sparked from the imagination of where all of these little personal assistants in our phones could go one day. I’ve noticed many stories about this come up recently, in text and in film, such as the film Her and in films like Transcendence. “Rider” was worth the read. I plan to read more short stories from this issue and the next,  but I’ve got to get through the last two weeks of this semester before I do.


We started the drama unit in my creative-writing class, and we’ve been studying bits and pieces from Hamlet. I was surprised how helpful different sections of the play are to creative-writers. I won’t bother talking about the plot, because if you’ve been to high school you’ve read it. The Hamlet Arden Shakespeare edition of the play was required for my class, and I was pleasantly surprised by how helpful the extensive footnotes in it were. I guess it was worth the twenty bucks that I spent on it.

Using Hamlet as a model, I had to write a one act play. My play was about an older gentleman named Mr. Bee. I’ll see how I did on that Wednesday as well. (Probably not that well, I needed more time.)

Well, that’s all of the reading I’ve been able to do over the last month. Now I have to figure out what to do about money and find a second job to survive next semester and next summer. I will try to read some more and do another post soon. Now that we’re done with the Norton book in class, I’ll be able to read it straight forward without skipping and confusing the bejesus out of everyone.

Happy holidays!

By Eric Shay Howard

Eric Shay Howard lives in Indianapolis. He's a teacher, a literary editor, and writer. He's a graduate student in the Bluegrass Writers Studio MFA in Creative Writing program at Eastern Kentucky University. He also has MBA and BA degrees.

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