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Dearest Reader,

It is a pleasure to meet you. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I will turn sixteen in January, I believe nothing on earth is more beautiful than a sunflower, I can never use the first tissue in a box because they get all stuck together, and I love people.

I love the way people talk, and move, and what they think and how they feel and what they look like, and I usually have a knack for understanding them. I love the mannerisms people have, unique to just themselves. In the entire world, Reader, there is no one quite like you. Do you know what a miracle, what a blessing you are? In all the history of the long world, there has never been another person just exactly like you. There never will be. You are all the you that we will ever know. How amazing is that? Just by living your daily life, by chewing (or not chewing, as the case may be) your cereal, by getting out of bed or sleeping in, you are creating a completely one-of-a-kind story. And I love stories almost as much as I love people.

As you might have gathered by this point, I love an awfully large amount of things. I suppose that's what I'm best at, really: loving. I have never really hated anyone; it's the hating part I'm not good at. I love my friends, and my family, and my dog, and sunrises and daisies and checkers. I love people I've never met but heard about, I love characters in books or movies who aren't even real, and I love people who have hurt me in the past and might hurt me in the future. I can't explain why it is that I can love so fast, so strong. It doesn't make sense, really, and it will come back to hurt me in the end, I'm sure, but it is the way I am. I am an optimist, a hopeless romantic, and quite possibly a fool who will be frequently disappointed, but I believe it is better to look forward with hope and faith than wallow in the downsides of life.

What I am looking at here on my Wikispace, Reader, are people and love. My focus is, of course, the choices people make, because I believe it is the choices one makes that define their character, and that love influences what they choose. I have always figured that people are mostly good at heart, and even people who do evil things have their own unique story, their own reasons and their own pains. That's why my creative writing focuses on Abigail Williams' story and her perspective as I see it, because we never really get to know her in The Crucible by Arthur Miller. Abigail has a past we never really learn, and she is thrown into a society where choice for women, especially orphans, is not possible. I want to look at her choices, at why she made them, and what she was working towards. Her personality, her character, is so much more than what we see on paper. I also want to look at the characters Abigail is closest to, specifically John Proctor, but also the other girls in Salem, Reverand Parris, and Elizabeth Proctor, and see how her relationship with them effects them. I am looking in a more in-depth manner at the dialogue Arthur Miller writes, and the different ways what he writes can be interpreted. I hope by doing this to prove my philosophy statement. My class activities, including a connection to the film The Village, also support this philosophy statment.

I can also connect my philosophy statement to the work we have done on our Gothic Literature unit! We have talked about many themes throughout our study of short stories, but the main theme that ties all gothic literature together is the element of a secret. Sometimes, like in The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe, the secret can be hidden. (It is possible to infer in this story that the family of Usher is inbred.) Other secrets are quite obvious; in The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, the reader finds out at the end that the secret of the story is the yearly murder committed. In some stories, the secret is NEVER defined, such as in The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne, where the reader (to my eternal frustration) never actually finds out what, if anything, Parson Hooper is hiding behind his black veil. This secret element connects to my philosophy statement in that all the secrets of Gothic literature are CHOICES that the characters make for love, and that these choices define who they are. Usher, Parson Hooper, William Wilson, the citizens of the town featured in The Lottery, Emily, the man in The Tell-tale Heart; without exception, the choices these characters make in relationship to their secrets effect their lives forever.

In contrast to the dark side of love and choice that the Gothic Unit expressed, the Trancendentalism Unit showed the brighter side of what can occur when love and choice are embraced. During this unit, we read works by Thoreau. His views about the power of an individual and the influence a single person's choice to follow what they believe in life support my philosophy statement. Thoreau spoke of the good that could occur when choices are made and indivuduality expressed. He encourages the reader to do what they know is right and to follow their heart, wherever it may lead them. He also alludes to the strength that knowing one's true self can bring a person. By knowing oneself, Thoreau writes, one is better able to love themselves, and then, naturally, better able to love others.

Another famous Transcendentalist writer, Frederick Douglass, wrote a work about his life in slavery, explaining the suffering and difficulties he had to face. Douglass encourages love through pain; even though he has suffered and bled under the whip of a white man, he holds no hate in his heart. He speaks of transcending hate, fear, pain, oppression, stereotypes, and the conformity of society. It is the CHOICE of rising above evil that allows love to flourish. His message of love, even through the haze of the terror and horror he has faced, helps move even the hardest soul to believe in rebirth.

What you see here, Reader, is hardly the extent of what first semester American Literature Honors has taught me. When I wrote my philosophy statement so long ago, I at first just thought it was just words, something I vaguely agreed with, something easy to support and explain. I was wrong. My philosophy statement is a reflection of me, as a person on the brink of growing up, as a human, as a soul. American Lit, above all, has taught me who I am. The values I have always believed in have become internalized for me now; what I believe is no longer simply words on paper. I hope to know better from now that choice really is what makes a person who they are, and I have faith that love is the guiding force in all choices. I always knew this, but I see it before me now as though someone had cleaned off the windows of my heart and opened the doors of my mind. Every light in my head is turned on, and if I open my eyes I'm worried the sunbeams might shine out. Seeing the love in life, loving the world around me, has become a vital part of my being. I could no more stop seeing love as the connecting thread of life than I could stop breathing. I have learned, as stated in the Bible, "Out of the three gifts of faith, hope, and love, the greatest of all is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13.) I have always tried to live by this simple statement but now, I realize at last, that this statement instead is trying to live through me. I hope I can do it justice, and with love I have faith that I will succeed!

Please, enjoy your time here. I'd like you to come and stay a while, or just return every now and again. You will always find a piece of me right here. If you drop me a note on my discussion pages, I will do my best to respond. Better yet, tell me your story. I love stories. Of course, I love a lot of things...

The Author

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Philosophy Statement: Choice makes a person who they are. Love influences choice, and therefore what one does for love defines them.