Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Higher - Summer Term Survey Results

In case you're interested, here are the results of the last Higher survey we did.

I have taken onboard all of the individual comments pupils left and will endeavour to meet those preferences in the next session.

Onwards and upwards!

1. I have found the novel...

2. I have found the close reading booklet...
Very straightforward
Quite straightforward
Tricky in parts
Quite difficult
Practically impossible
3. I have found the classes...
Very informative and useful
Quite informative and useful
A mix of good and bad
Quite dull
4. I have found the amount of homework...
Too much
About right
Not enough
5. I have found the pace of the class...
Too fast
About right
Too slow
6. How much do you agree with the statement: "I understand how the classes are helping me to prepare for the exam"?
Strongly agree
Neither agree nor disagree
Strongly disagree

Antigone - Justified Sinner?

In the coming months I'll be diving deeper into Classical Drama, so there will be more of this stuff on the way. Just so you know.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Quotation Analyses

"Do you believe what you paint?" she asked in low tones.
"Believe that tex? Do I believe in my own existence!"
"But," said she tremulously, "suppose your sin was not of your own seeking?"
He shook his head.
"I cannot split hairs on that burning query," he said. "I have walked hundreds of miles this past summer, painting these texes on every wall, gate, and stile the length and breadth of this district. I leave their application to the hearts of the people who read 'em."
"I think they are horrible," said Tess. "Crushing! killing!"
"That's what they are meant to be!" he replied in a trade voice. Chapter 12

It must be hard for Tess to maintain her belief in Christianity in the face of this response from the sign-writer. She describes the brutal effect they have upon ordinary people, saying they are “Crushing! Killing!” The metaphorical language is designed to express the way the damning tone of the texts is a destructive force upon a believer. However, the worst part for Tess comes in the sign-writer’s reply: “they are meant to be!” The Bible, he suggests, takes the same harsh attitude to sin, and thus Tess understands herself to be a sinner, as proven by the Bible. Her sense of guilt is amplified by this. She cannot reconcile the brutality of the Bible with the gentility of her own version of faith.

"I wish I had never been born--there or anywhere else. " Chapter 12

It is possible that Tess exclaims this with a sense of hyperbole, drawing attention to the misery of her own existence . However, Tess is speaking a truth and has not embellished it. At this point in the novel, she has experienced nothing but suffering, and thus believes she exists on a “blighted star”. If this is the case, and the world is one of only suffering for her, it is natural that she should wish to not exist at all.

"Let truth be told - women do as a rule live through such humiliations, and regain their spirits, and again look about them with an interested eye. While there's life there's hope is a conviction not so entirely unknown to the "betrayed" as some amiable theorists would have us believe." Chapter 16

The key phrase here is Hardy’s assertion that Tess now looks at the world with “an interested eye”. The synecdoche refers to Tess’s recovery. Indeed, it is such that she has overcome her trauma sufficiently to have a sexual appetite. The phrasing is euphemistic, but Hardy indicates that Tess is capable of being sexually attracted to another.

“Sometimes I feel I don't want to know anything more about [history] than I know already. [...] Because what's the use of learning that I am one of a long row only--finding out that there is set down in some old book somebody just like me, and to know that I shall only act her part; making me sad, that's all. The best is not to remember that your nature and you past doings have been kist like thousands' and thousands', and that your coming life and doings'll be like thousands' and thousands'. [...] I shouldn't mind learning why--why the sun do shine on the just and the unjust alike, [...] but that's what books will not tell me." Chapter 19

There is much to analyse in this section, but perhaps the most significant aspect is the line, “I shouldn’t mind learning… why the sun do shine on the just and the unjust alike.” Again, Tess is questioning her God, and she cannot formulate a theodicy to defend His actions: there seems no logic in the unjust experiencing pleasure while the just can suffer. This is another demonstration of Tess’s simple faith seeming more human (and humane) than the inscrutable and arbitrary god of the Bible.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Quotation Analyses

"But some might say, where was Tess 's guardian Angel? Where was the providence of her simple faith? Perhaps, . . . he was talking, or he was pursuing, or he was in a journey, or he was sleeping and not to be awaked . . .. As Tess 's own people down in those retreats are never tired of saying among each other in their fatalistic way: 'It was to be.'" Chapter 11

Hardy is suggesting that a god who should have been defending Tess was absent during her rape. He suggests different things that the god may have been doing instead of helping Tess, and this belittles the omniscience of the Christian god, or suggests it is a god too callous to care about Tess. The final, short sentence reinforces the notion that the poor would accept this treatment at the hands of the rich, claiming that it was simply a part of their lot in life: “It was to be” indicates that it could not be avoided. However, whether this was because God did not care for Tess, or because it is the fate of the poor always to be predated on by the rich, is unclear.

"Why it was that upon this beautiful feminine tissue, sensitive as gossamer, and practically blank as snow as yet, there should have been traced such a coarse pattern as it was doomed to receive; why so often the coarse appropriates the finer thus, the wrong man the woman, the wrong women the man, many years of analytical philosophy have failed to explain to our sense of order." Chapter 11

Hardy makes use of simile here to demonstrate Tess’s purity at this point in the story. She is said to be as fragile “as gossamer”, and thus easily broken, with little force; in addition, the narrator describes her skin as white “as snow”. The symbolic meaning here is clear, that Tess has yet to be blemished by experience. Throughout the novel, Hardy juxtaposes white and red, with one indicating purity of mind or body, while red connotes lust, sin, blood and death.

"Did it never strike your mind that what every woman says, some women may feel?" Chapter 12
At this point in the text Alec suggested that Tess’s statement that she did not know what his desires were. He responds, “That’s what every woman says.” Tess for the first time confronts Alec, saying that he was wrong to believe all women were the same. The phrase “every woman” indicates that Alec has been in this situation many times before.

"THY, DAMNATION, SLUMBERETH, NOT. 2 Pet. ii. 3," Chapter 12

The sign-writer is an evangelist who paints these words on fences across Wessex; they are words from the Bible. Their meaning is that every person is already damned and must repent their sins. Tess, upon seeing these, and knowing that she is pregnant, is made to feel again that her god has no compassion for her, and damns her to hell. Note that the letters are painted in a lurid red, intensifying the connotations of sin.


Monday, 23 June 2014

Tess of the d'Urbervilles - Quotation Analyses

"I won't sell his old body. When we d'Urbervilles was knights in the land, we didn't sell our chargers for cat's meat. Let 'em keep their shillings! He've served me well in his lifetime, and I won't part from him now." Chapter 4

This shows John Durbeyfield’s misplaced sense of his importance after Parson Tringham’s revelation. His family needs the money from Prince’s sale, but he has become too proud to part with the animal’s carcass.

"it was not the two halves of a perfect whole that confronted each other at the perfect moment" Chapter 5

By repeating the adjective “perfect”, Hardy reinforces that Tess and Alec’s meeting was in no way perfect; it was flawed. They were neither the right couple, nor did they meet at the right time.

"Thus, the thing began. Had she perceived this meeting's import she might have asked why she was doomed to be seen and coveted that day by the wrong man, and not by some other man, the right and desired one in all respects, . . ." Chapter 5

The first short sentence implies an unpleasant beginning to something terrible for Tess. The idea is continued when Hardy describes the meeting as “doomed”, as though Tess could not avoid it, and that she was meant to suffer as a result of it.

"Out of the frying pan into the fire!" Chapter 10

Hardy makes use of the common metaphor to illustrate that Tess is moving from one bad situation to another, and her sense of being rescued is entirely illusory.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Tess Quotations - Quotation Analyses

1.  The use of ANAPHORA indicates the number of different things the girls hope for in their lives. The METAPHOR of a “private little sun” shows that each girl has a secret burning desire.

2.  The use of SIMILE makes a comparison between the apples on the tree in Tess’s garden, and the planets orbiting the stars. Tess suggests that her world is “blighted”, that it is wrong, and that suffering is a matter of fact.