Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day is a memorial day that is observed in Commonwealth commemorating soldiers that have fallen in action. It has been a part of tradition since the end of World War I. Nations such as the United Kindgon, Canada, Northern Ireland, Australia recognise the day. I found a reporting of the ‘First Two Minute Silence in London’ on the eleventh of November 1919 and thought it was an atmospheric and moving piece. It was printed in the Manchester Guardian on the twelfth of November 1919.

The first line reads, “The first stroke of eleven produced a magical effect.” and this short sentence really impacts the reader, putting in little words the effect that the act of remembering the war and its consequences had, so soon after its close. By describing it as “magical”, it seems a spiritual or enchanted, as if the tolling of the bell had cast a spell over the population, which really goes to show the extent of the impact on the people. The reporter describes how upon the striking of the hour, “The tram cars glided into stillness,” which evokes an image of the spookily smooth movement from the trams. As well as this, the, “motors ceased to cough and fume, and stopped dead.” This utilises personification which paints the motors as old and haggardly, yet still respectful to the notion. The quote, “Here and there an old soldier could be detected slipping unconsciously into the posture of ‘attention” depicts the way in which those who fought in the war were almost indoctrinated into certain ways of acting, as they do not even realise that they are falling into old customs on remembering the war. The closing part of the reporting is the most touching, however, describing how, “Everyone stood very still … The hush deepened” giving a sense of togetherness and solidarity. The caesura used  also works to replicate the hush, emphasising a moment of reflection.  It continues with, “It was a silence which was almost pain … And the spirit of memory brooded over it all.” The description captures the feeling of wounded memories in the air perfectly, the word “almost” serving to portray the writer’s uncertainty, showing how hard it is to express in words the experience.

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‘Richard III’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice’ -Form and Structure

‘Richard III’ is a Renaissance drama and is certainly conventional of its time, being based on the lives of the high noblemen and typical of Shakespeare’s tragedies, with a man’s own flaws causing his downfall. Pride and Prejudice, one of the most famous novels of the Regency era is abundant of irony and social commentary on many issues at the time, for instance marriage- as is explored in the extract. 

Shakespeare, in ‘Richard III’ writes in blank verse, using traditional iambic pentameter which is often used to replicate normal speech. In this case it is used so that Anne and Richard finish each other’s lines, which traditionally was supposed to show how a pair of lovers are meant to be, but in this case emphasises the opposite, by highlighting how they are completely opposing each other, and that the partnership between them is unnatural. It also seems that blank verse is used in this case, rather than prose, to emphasise how both Anne and Richard are noble characters, which assures that the audience are aware of their circumstances and ranks. This differs greatly to Pride and Prejudice, not only due to the fact that it is written in the form of a novel, a creation that only became popular in the 18th century, but that it is written in dense prose. In this case, the density of the sentence structure is used to emphasise the length and dreariness of Mr. Collin’s character, and is contrasted with a following, impacting short, sentence-long paragraph from Elizabeth’s thoughts.

Richard III and the Princes in the Tower

Hey! Recently, I was given an essay which featured an extract from Richard the Third- the Shakespeare tragedy. I was a bit perplexed about the background of the story as the extract was slightly ambiguous and so I did some research into the plot and its historical context. It is loosely based on the antics of King Richard III and his ambition and path to becoming king. In Shakespeare’s play, as expected, there is is a lot of bloody murder as Richard fights his way to the throne, killing anyone in his way. It is another example of a hero within Shakespeare causing his own downfall from his personal flaws- in this case, obviously ambition is the protagonists’ flaw. The most bloody murder that Richard committed according to many historians -and Shakespeare- is the murder of the kings’ sons, Edward and Richard, twelve and nine years old respectively, however this has never been proven. The two boys were being looked after in the Tower of London when they mysteriously disappeared, and have not been found to this day. 

In 1674, when some workmen were remodelling the Tower, they came across a small wooden box containing two child skeletons, which has been suspected to be the remains of the two boys. The bones were examined in 1933 and from measuring the size of the bones and teeth, the anatomists certified that the skeletons were of children of the right age to be the Princes’, however no further investigation was upheld. They didn’t even find out whether the skeletons were male or female- which would have helped the case considerably. To this day, a DNA examination has not been taken out on the bones, although an e-petition on the British Government’s website has been started up to consider one. The petition has less than 200 signatories and needs 100,00 to be deliberated by Parliament. It is somewhat sad that the remains of the princes will most likely never be found or identified but it is true that the identification of the skeletal remains would not provide justice in the way of confirming who killed them and why. 

 

Poem- Cardboard Hearts

Cold days and shivering,

Lace skirts and ginger hair.

Goofy smiles with funny teeth

and all these ladders in our tights we wear.

 

Sweaty hands and touching hair

Beautiful letters sent by owls

Cardboard hearts

and metal ones.

Loud, ugly laughs. 

Floating in this air.

 

Posters and gothic writing

on colourful walls that are smiling.

Mad dogs and black liquid

and photographs

oh photographs.

‘As You Like It’ – Shakespeare: Theme of Power

‘As You Like It’ is one of Shakespeare’s tragicomedies, set against a pastoral backdrop. Although the play is not realist in anyway, having a ridiculous plot and unfeasible character development, it does suggest many serious ideas about power, especially in the first few scenes. At the beginning of the play, when the characters and their backgrounds are being laid out for the reader, it is clear to see that power and authority is a major theme. Sibling rivalry, based upon an obsession with power and the need to be at the top, is prominent and through this we can see the nature of each character. Something which intrigued me upon reading the first two scenes, is the question of where power comes from and how a character comes to have power.

From the first two scenes, it seems clear that a character is born into power. This is first made obvious through how Oliver, one of the three sons of the late Sir Rowland de Boys, is bequeathed his father’s position, as well as the majority of the inheritance due to being born the eldest. Orlando, the youngest son, confesses “The courtesy of nations allows you my better, in that you are the first-born”. This shows that the characters are attributed with their fortunes at birth. The word Orlando uses of “better” putting across a sense also that with authority, Oliver is made the finer person and that he is more respected in the world. All of this is despite the plain fact that Orlando would be much more suited to the role of the Master due to him being “full of noble device, of all sorts enchantingly beloved”, showing that born rank is of more significance than the nature of a character, which is worth next to nothing in Court- the setting of these first scenes. The role of the servants in Act 1 Scene 1 also goes to reinforce this idea, as due to being lowly born, they are treated poorly and with a lack of respect- emphasising how they lack any authority to question their betters. Oliver addresses Adam, a servant who has lived with the family for years and has even “lost [his] teeth]” in their service, as an “old dog”. He then goes to call upon another servant by shouting “Holla, Dennis!”, which replicates how one would beckon a dog. This goes to show how Oliver treats those who are lower than him as animals despite their good service and character and also contrasts sharply with how Dennis responds to Oliver as he inquires “Calls your worship?” The way that Dennis addresses Oliver as “your worship” shows how his rank means that he is revered by others.

The fragility of power also becomes a major theme in the first two scenes, which the reader can see through how easy it is for power to be taken away from someone. This is explicitly shown through the usurpation of Duke Senior by Duke Frederick; “the old duke is banished by his younger brother the new duke”. The word “banished” has aggressive connotations and indicates that Duke Senior no longer has any right to respect, expressing how he has been stripped of all power and authority. This idea is paralleled in the conflict between Oliver and Orlando, as Oliver clearly fears that he will be usurped much in the same way as Duke Senior because Orlando is “of all sorts enchantingly beloved”, showing how the people love Orlando more than Oliver. Due to his concern that Orlando will claim his position, Oliver contrives to kill his brother, professing in a monologue to the audience “I hope I shall see and end of him”, asserting that “the wrestler shall clear all”, in a dismissive and detached tone which shows how he does not feel any affection towards his brother. This goes to show how power is considered so fragile and precious that characters in the play go to extreme measures to obsessively protect it. This can also be seen from Duke Frederick as he “hath ta’en displeasure ‘gainst his gentle niece,  Grounded upon no other argument But that the people praise her for her virtues”. The confession that Duke Frederick’s distaste towards Rosalind is based upon “no other argument” than that she is loved by the people shows how he values his authoritative position and how his concern over continuing his power is more important to him than his family. Duke Frederick obviously feels as though Rosalind is dangerous to have at court as she could threaten his status by potentially creating a rebellion from the people as they “pity her for her good father’s sake”.

However, it also interesting to see how different characters regard power, some clearly not seeing it in such an important light as others. One example of this is Celia, Rosalind’s cousin whom when we first meet her is consoling Rosalind about the banishment of her father. The audience is beckoned to side with and sympathise with Celia as we can tell that she is a honest and caring character and her devotion to her cousin is strong. She pleads “Rosalind, sweet my coz, be merry”, showing how she desires her cousin’s happiness. Rosalind responds sarcastically to her cousin, replying “Well, I will forget the condition of my father’s estate to rejoice in yours” and this shows how her father’s degraded position upsets and annoys her and makes the audience feel less inclined to like her. Celia humbly oaths to “render thee again in affection” everything that her father “hath taken away from thy father” when she comes to the throne. This shows that she regards her cousin’s happiness, and justice more highly than her own position and power. Likewise, later on in Act 1 Scene 2, Orlando professes “I am more proud to be Sir Rowland’s son, his youngest son, and would not change that calling To be adopted heir to Frederick”. This shows the audience that family loyalty and faithfulness to his family is of upmost importance to Orlando and if he had the chance to give up his name and be taken “heir to Frederick” and inherit all of Frederick’s power in turn, he would decline this opportunity. I believe this helps to show the true nature of Orlando, through revealing his loyalty and commitment over his own selfish ambition.

Ulysses: First Impressions

On reading the first episode of Ulysses, I was immediately struck by how completely unaware I was of the scale of it’s complexity.

-The thought process really excited me and almost opened up a feeling of new refreshed exhilaration towards literature and its options. I started thinking of my own works, and how I could incorporate the technique in it- not in its raw form with other modes which intrigued me, such as metafiction- something which I have always been interested to find out about. Although it confused me somewhat and sometimes I became lost among the fragmented thought process, it presented an exciting challenge and I was looking forward to tackling each episode individually, breaking them down and pulling them apart to see what I could make of them, independently

-On reading the first episode, I found myself confused constantly about where each character was; I didn’t have a clear image in my brain of the character’s positions as they conversed which was frustrating. I felt as though I was completely lost and missing vital parts of the plot- all I could grasp was a very straightforward storyline and details about the components of each character’s personality. However, on reading over guidelines about the episode afterwards, it seemed as though I had in fact gathered all that intended- it was just the complex narrative that confused me.

-Something which I found bizarre was that it almost felt as though it changed voice throughout as it would describe Stephen’s actions in third person, but then explain his thoughts in first person. This is obviously not uncommon in novels but it felt strange due to the fact that the thoughts weren’t labelled as thoughts, they just flowed constantly. Further into the novel, I appreciate that this is effective as it replicates how people think naturally, and really allows us to feel as though we are inside the narrator’s mind. It also does not confuse me as I am reading anymore- I am completely used to it and it seems normal.

-I guess I was somewhat expecting the novel to include more of an epic storyline. It is possibly my reading of tragic Shakespeare dramas and lack of experience in Realist works that has led me to think that the majority of literature is characterised by dramatic events, theatrical characters and the lot. Of course, the character of Buck Mulligan was appropriately theatrical as a character, but the mild proceedings which took place – the milk lady visiting and a walk on a beach- was very strange but intriguing as it meant that much of what the characters were saying and thinking seemed to be of more importance.

I’ll go into more depth about the first episode later- these were just the first few impressions that I can think of off the top of my head.

 

‘To His Coy Mistress’ and ‘Credit for the Card’

Okay, so I’ve taken my analysis of ‘To His Coy Mistress’ further by comparing it to ‘Credit for the Card’ and including some wider reading quotes as well from some of Shakespeare’s sonnets. This is my first comparison essay of the year and I’m hoping to get some feedback from my teacher soon and then I’ll modify it and post the improved version. This is it so far: 

Marvell’s poem of seduction, written in first person, is typical of metaphysical poetry. Marvell was not only a major metaphysical poet himself but was also influenced greatly by similar artists of the Restoration period. ‘To His Coy Mistress’ includes many metaphysical features, such as wit –seen through the tongue in cheek euphemisms- and far-fetched similes, shown in his self-comparison to “amorous birds of prey”, almost an oxymoron in that it conveys two contrasting ideas. Conversely, Hannah’s poem, written three centuries later, is a not a textbook representation of its Post-modern context as it is devoid of humour, irony and is not an example of any elaborate modes, such as metafiction. On top of this, it uses the traditional form of sonnet. It is easy to tell that it is a contemporary poem, however, due to its modern idioms and the pun in the title referring to a “credit card.”

In contrasting ways, both poets hint at the significance of time. The poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’, features Marvell persuading his lover that she should make love with him. He insists that there is not enough time during the span of life to wait around and is determined that they should seize the day, a ‘carpe diem’ philosophy running throughout. The poem is cleverly put together and the structure is predominantly irregular, all stanzas being different lengths, yet rhyming couplets are used throughout, giving the poem a much faster pace and reinforcing the idea that life is short and time goes past quickly, an idea featured in the line “But at my back I always hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near”. Enjambment is also used, such as in the lines “I by the tide/ Of Humber” to replicate time moving constantly. Personification of time can be seen, as Marvell claims that “we will make him run.” This presents the idea of a battle between love and time, which Marvell confidently claims can be won through the assertion of “will”. This idea is shared in Sonnet 19, by Shakespeare as he writes, “swift-footed Time” as well as, “old Time”, capitalising the word time and giving it human characteristics so that the reader feels as though time is a rival, or someone in particular to fear. He, like Marvell, hints at a battle between time and love through the final rhyming couplet, “Yet, do thy worst old Time: despite thy wrong, My love shall in my verse ever live young.” using the traditional idiom of “do thy worst” to give the impression that Shakespeare is daring time and encouraging it to try to ruin him, showing that he doesn’t fear the effects of time. Hannah, on the other hand, does not personify love and indeed does not indicate that time is to be feared and is running out. However, she does, like Marvell and Shakespeare, hint that time is precious, especially in love. Her sonnet depicts a love triangle and expresses her anger towards her love rival after she falsely pretends that Hannah’s “unsigned” Valentine’s Card is from her. Hannah shows how the time that you give somebody is important and obviously feels that she deserves the affection of the man whom she directs the poem at. She writes, in a tone of outcry “after all the time I spent”, the verb of “spent” giving the impression that she has consumed the time that she used to buy the Valentine’s card, as if it is gone and she can never get it back, adding to the feeling of injustice surrounding the situation. She explains how she was “choosing and writing” utilising long vowel sounds  in “choosing” to emphasise how she deliberated for a painstakingly long time over the choice of card, showing how much she respects her love. This contrasts with sibilance used in the line, “its significant had slipped her mind” which is almost onomatopoeic in that sounds quick and rushed, highlighting that Hannah’s rival does not put time or effort into her relationship.

Both poems depict a specific feeling of the poets’, towards a woman that they know. Hannah’s sonnet voices her anger towards the girl who pretended that the Valentine’s card that she bought was from her. She immediately subverts the conventions of a sonnet through the lack of affection described, and this is effective as by doing so, it emphasises and highlights her outrage and cold fury. She uses language which paints her rival as scheming and evil, such as in the line “She has conspired to keep you in the dark”, where the verb “conspired” evokes the image of a cold and devious villain. The modern idiom used of “keep you in the dark” also works to show how she is hiding something important, the dark connotations again describing her as the nemesis in the story, setting the reader up to dislike her. Her blatant outrage can be felt in the rhetorical question which begins “How dare she” giving the impression that she cannot comprehend how someone could do something so sly. Marvell, on the other hand, expresses feelings of lust and desire towards his “mistress”. He does this by using euphemisms such as “my vegetable love should grow”, alluding to a love that could carry on growing forever, but also including phallic connotations. This can also be seen in the lines “but thirty thousand to the rest”, subtly referring to his mistress’ private regions and showing the reader how much he desires her for solely sexual reasons. There is also a very mocking tone in the last couplet of the second stanza: “The grave’s a fine and private place But none, I think, do there embrace.” The words “I think” give a scathing and derisive edge to the tone, highlighting Marvell’s lack of respect towards her, showing that he thinks of her as lower than himself, much like in Hannah’s sonnet. In this way, both poems contrast startlingly to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, in which he depicts how he adores, even worships his lover, shown in the lines “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” using a rhetorical question to give the impression that he is reflecting thoughtfully on his lover’s beauty, the image of summer used, as it has been traditionally, to show how Shakespeare thinks of his mistress as warm and bright, a pleasant image evoked in the reader’s mind. Shakespeare uses one quatrain to claim that summer’s beauty is transient and passes in time, however stating in the subsequent quatrain “But thy eternal summer shall not fade”, conveying a sense of confidence in this statement through the assertion of “shall”, the adjective “eternal” putting across a sense of Shakespeare’s everlasting love, even after death. This method of separating different concepts into each quatrain is a structural technique commonly used by Shakespeare in order to make ideas flow in a certain order, making it more comprehensible to the reader. Marvell clearly shows the reader how he feels he has ownership over his “Mistress” through referring to the both of them throughout the poem using the collective pronoun of “we”. This takes away the woman’s individuality and automatically ties her to him at all times, putting across a sense of Marvell’s dominance. This contrasts greatly with “Credit for the card”, in which Hannah writes “you are hers and not mine” using possessive pronouns of “hers” and “mines” to allude to her male love in order to show how he becomes part of the woman when they become lovers. This contrast highlights the change in position of women in the two differing periods, the first emphasising how all women are dominated and effectively owned by men and the second showing that in this post-modern world it is possible for a man to be possessed by a woman. This is mainly down to feminist movements which occurred throughout the 20th century, such as Women’s Social and Political Union’s battling for the women’s right to vote, a battle which they eventually won in 1928.

It is clear on reading both poems that each author has an aim and a reason for writing them. In “To His Coy Mistress”, Marvell clearly intends to seduce his Mistress and persuade her to make love to him. There are three stanzas and each of them has been used to convey a different message which presents a syllogistic argument to the reader, in order to put across the idea that there can only be one logical answer to the debate, making it a very effective method of persuasion. The first stanza involves Marvell flattering his lover and claiming that if he had all the time in the world, he would wait for her and adore her forever. This is done effectively to woo and soften the reader, adding to the effect of persuasion.  It is mostly in the conditional tense, using words such as “would” and “should” to convey a sense of “if only”. This section of the poem is also characterised by hyperbolic language as he professes that “An hundred years should go to praise Thine eyes”, emphasising and exaggerating how much he loves her. The reader can tell that the love falsely professed, however, through the overly colourful, almost counterfeit, images evoked by mentioning the “Indian Ganges” and “Rubies”, which would have seemed even more exotic during the 17th century, when it was written. The second stanza changes direction completely with the discourse marker “But” and features Marvell using scare tactics to persuade instead, painting the image of what will be the consequences of her refusing to make love to him. He morbidly mentions death, and refers to it as the “deserts of vast eternity”, using the combination of endless space and time to give a barren, bleak image of the afterlife. Graphic imagery in the line “worms shall try/ That long preserved virginity” is used to scare and disgust the reader, hopefully repulsing his Mistress to the extent that she will run into his arms. The third stanza, however, is a return to the colourful, rich language of the first and acts as a conclusion to the argument, presenting, in short, what she should do. He incorporates traditional, clichéd images of “morning dew” and “instant fire”, symbols of love that have always been used throughout time, to entice the reader yet again. Overall this works to move the reader into submission, whereas Hannah endeavours to threaten the reader. She treats the poem as a confession to the secret that the Valentine’s card was actually from her. The opening line of “She took the credit for the card I sent.” has a dismissive and bitter tone and bluntly refers to what happened, as if telling someone gossip. The verb “took” again has negative connotations and makes it seem as though the rival cruelly snatched it or plotted to steal it from her. This feeling is backed up by author’s refusal to name the girl in question, referring to her throughout the poem as “she”. By failing to include any specific description or name of the rival, she makes her appear faceless and the reader cannot sympathise with her. The sonnet uses an alternate rhyme scheme, and, in the traditional way, ends with a rhyming couplet which gives the final lines- “Her lips are sealed. She lied and she forgot/ Valentine’s Day. I didn’t. Mine are not.” -more marked effect. These lines are made clipped and sharp by the short sentence structure which conveys her anger over what happened and makes the reader imagine the narrator saying the words through clenched teeth. The repetition of “she” in the couplet has a listing effect and builds up an overemphasised picture of all the crimes which the rival committed against the narrator. The final sentences of “I didn’t. Mine are not.” sounds like an impending threat, impacted by the blunt shortness of them. By saying she hasn’t forgotten what happened, Hannah is giving the impression that she has deliberated over the issue for a long time and become more and more agitated by it, making the reader fear the actions of the narrator and effectively becoming a threat, which is its aim.

To conclude, the poems, due to their contrasting contextual backgrounds, can be said to be very different. However, it is true that both poems are used to voice the poets’ frustration over a certain issue, and this makes them similar in ways. Hannah writes of her feeling of injustice surrounding the love triangle she finds herself in, and her love rival’s undue actions. Marvell, on the other hand, is frustrated towards his Mistress’ modesty, which he feels under the circumstances, is a “crime.”

I think one of my challenges to overcome this year will be cutting down on my word count, I really tend to want to include every single point I can come up with and it ends up being an intangible, incomprehensible mess every time. I had the same problem last year and I had to be really strict with myself nearing the exam period in fear that I would run out of time after the introduction. Gah. Some of my sentences are also a bit nonsensical because I seem to have a phobia of actually ending them and beginning new ideas in a separate sentence.