Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Roman Government - Twenty Questions

The Pearl - Notes In Progress

Themes

There are two key themes in The Pearl.

The first, and most significant is the idea of greed as a destructive force. Initially, we see the greed in those around Kino and his family, as people try to take advantage of his good fortune. However, as the novel progresses, Kino himself loses sight of his own goodness, and becomes obsessed with the money the pearl promises.
The second key theme is the role of fate and self-determinism. At different points in the novel, characters are able to make choices for themselves in order to change their lives. However, certain things occur which seem to be organised by a higher force, and the characters have no say in their occurrence.

Imagery

The novel makes heavy use of imagery in the natural world. At the start of the novel we see the beauty of the natural world in Kino's garden, and its peaceful tone reflects the calm of the characters (this is called "pathetic fallacy"). In the second chapter we see many images of the sea, reflecting Kino's struggle to make a living as a pearl diver.

It is important to see that the nature of the imagery changes as the novel progresses, so that in the latter stages most of the presentation of animals are intended to show that only the strongest and most aggressive survive - usually at the expense of those who are vulnerable and unable to protect themselves. This forms an analogy, as Steinbeck comments on how human beings are similarly aggressive in order to achieve success.

All My Sons - Essay In Progress


Answers to questions on Drama should refer to the text and to such relevant features as characterisation, key scene(s), structure, climax, theme, plot, conflict, setting . . .
 
Choose a play which you feel has a turning-point.
 
Describe briefly what happens at this turning point and then, by referring to appropriate techniques, go on to explain how it makes an impact on the play as a whole.

  

“All My Sons” (1947) by Arthur Miller is a play which deals with the destruction of a family due to the secrets and lies it keeps regarding the source of their wealth. This essay will show how a turning point (the accidental slip of the truth by Kate) impacts on the characters and the finale of the drama.

In the play, the turning point comes at the end of the second act. Joe and Kate  are about to go out for dinner with the family, when Joe remarks that he can’t afford to be sick. Kate follows this up by saying, “He hasn’t been laid up in fifteen years.” This is a crucial moment as it shows that Joe’s claims to have been ill on the day of the cylinder-head incident cannot be true. From this point, Chris’s view of his father, his mother and his life are all changed. This point in the play is dramatic as it is the first time the truth has been aired, and consequently it grabs the audience’s attention. It destroys the sense of trust which Joe and Kate have developed with Chris (their son), and proves that their wealth has been bought by Joe’s willingness to profit from the deaths of the airmen who flew the planes which crashed. It is the climactic point of the second act, and ushers in the turmoil of the third, when the truth of Larry’s death also emerges. The turning point works dramatically because it comes from a slip-of-the-tongue by Kate. It is not deliberate, but its impact is powerful on all of the characters.

The turning point is a climax which is developed from earlier in the play. The family has spent a lot of time denying that Joe had done anything wrong, and this is turned around when Kate makes her slip. In the first act, Joe deceives himself by claiming that the money he earned in the war was not as a result of the faulty cylinder-heads. He explains to his family, “It’s good money, there’s nothing wrong with that money”. By insisting that the money is “good”, Joe is showing himself to be in denial – he does not accept that he has profited from the bad cylinder-heads. It is important to see here that Joe is deliberately misleading the others. He claims that the decision to sell the cylinder heads was “a mistake, but it ain’t murder”. Here, he is acknowledging that something went wrong but he is distancing himself from any blame. This is typical of his character, trying to obscure the truth. However, this all changes when Kate accidentally blurts out the truth.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

All My Sons - Essay In Progress


Answers to questions on Drama should refer to the text and to such relevant features as characterisation, key scene(s), structure, climax, theme, plot, conflict, setting . . .
 
Choose a play which you feel has a turning-point.
 
Describe briefly what happens at this turning point and then, by referring to appropriate techniques, go on to explain how it makes an impact on the play as a whole.

 
“All My Sons” (1947) by Arthur Miller is a play which deals with the destruction of a family due to the secrets and lies it keeps regarding the source of their wealth. This essay will show how a turning point (the accidental slip of the truth by Kate) impacts on the characters and the finale of the drama.

 
In the play, the turning point comes at the end of the second act. Joe and Kate  are about to go out for dinner with the family, when Joe remarks that he can’t afford to be sick. Kate follows this up by saying, “He hasn’t been laid up in fifteen years.” This is a crucial moment as it shows that Joe’s claims to have been ill on the day of the cylinder-head incident cannot be true. From this point, Chris’s view of his father, his mother and his life are all changed.

Monday, 3 November 2014

All My Sons - Working Notes

The central theme of Miller’s play is that of social responsibility. This is the duty of an individual to the society in which he lives.

Keller’s crime is placing his own prosperity over the lives of the pilots, who ultimately are killed by his inaction.
Keller is able to pin the crime on Deever and maintain his own status in society, even though his actions are immoral.

Keller is not punished by the laws of society, but he loses both his sons, and is judged by the society in which he lives. Unable to live with the consequences of his actions, he kills himself.
The sale of the cylinder heads is similar to a stone dropped into water, with endless rippling repercussions.

A second major theme is the preservation of the family. This is central to much American life, but it corrupts society when it is at the cost to the wider group.
Keller’s actions were not motivated by a desire to harm. His concern was purely to give his family the best possible life. In this regard, we could all have committed this crime.

Symbols in All My Sons
The tree in the garden symbolises the family’s attempt to keep the memory of Larry alive. However, it also symbolises the family’s belief that Larry is literally still alive. When it is struck by lightning, we see the suggestion that he is dead, but it also coincides with Ann’s visit, and she destroys the fantasy that Larry is still alive (accomplished with Larry’s suicide note). Kate interprets the destruction of the tree as a sign that Larry will return.

George’s wearing of his father’s hat symbolises George’s acceptance of his father’s views. George is tainted in the view of the Kellers by his association with his father.

 

Friday, 31 October 2014

A Few Points of Style

·      You almost NEVER need to use the word, “then”. So don’t.
·      Never begin a sentence with “So”.
·      Never use the word “just” (unless you’re talking about punishment).
·      Never use exclamation marks.
·      Never start two sentences in the same paragraph with the same word.

All My Sons – Act Three


·    The act takes place in the early hours of the following morning.
·    Mother is highly anxious about Chris’s disappearance.
·    She talks to Jim, and he suggest that compromising our principles is a necessary part of life.
·    He then reveals that he knows Joe’s secret.
·    Mother tries to persuade Joe to tell the truth to Chris.
·    When Ann enters, she says she can forgive the family, but only if Mother accepts that Larry is dead.
·    When she refuses, Ann produces a suicide note from Larry.
·    Chris returns and says he cannot be with Ann – she will be a reminder of his family’s compromise.
·    After an argument with Chris, Joe is shown the letter and he storms back into the house.
·    Joe has realised that he motivated his son’s suicide, but also betrayed his principles regarding community and nation.
·    Following Joe’s suicide, Kate urges Chris to live without guilt.