Friday, 27 November 2009
Q2 Quote to show Eddie’s colloquial (casual) language use. What is Miller seeking to show us about Eddie’s character through the way he speaks?
Q3 Find two quotations which illustrate Eddie’s disapproving attitude towards Catherine’s appearance. (p14)
Q4 How does Eddie seek to justify his overly protective attitude to Catherine?
Q5 In what ways does Beatrice conform to the stereotypical housewife in this section? (p15/16)
Q6 Explain the slight irony in Eddie’s assertion to Beatrice:
“Beatrice, all I’m worried about is you got such a heart that I’ll end up on the floor with you, and they’ll be in our bed.”
Q7 How is the theme of honour developed ironically in this section? (p17)
Q8 Here Miller has Eddie devise different work scenarios for Catherine.
Why do you think he does this? What is the truth he is trying to avoid?
Q9 We see heightened emotion and attempts to conceal it on the part of all characters. What evidence do we get from this section that Eddie has tried to prevent Catherine from growing up? (p20/21)
Q10 In what way does Eddie’s resentful question to Beatrice contribute to the theme of manliness/female stereotypes? (p21)
Q11 After a moment of high tension, Miller swaps to low tension/relief when talking about the unloading of ships (spiders!). Why does the playwright do this?
Q12 Using your knowledge of the whole play, explain why the Vinny Bolzano story (p23/24) is so significant. In your answer you should attempt to comment on the following:
how it parallels/foreshadows later events;
how it contributes to the themes of justice and the law and honour;
the irony of Eddie’s “just remember, kid, you can quicker get back a million dollars than a word you gave away.”
Q13 How does the description of the ‘piecing off’ process add to our nderstanding (p24) of the position the ‘submarines’ are in?
Q14 In response to Eddie’s “What are you mad at me lately?” there are three
(p25) references from Beatrice to Eddie being “mad”.
What effect does the repetition of this adjective have on the audience? Does it serve to intensify any suspicions we may have about Eddie’s attitude to Catherine? How does it link to Alfieri’s later description of Eddie? Note that Beatrice seems happy to escape to the kitchen and chores to get away from her husband.
Q15 What do you feel is significant about the stagecraft of Catherine lighting Eddie’s cigar?
In terms of propriety?
In terms of symbolism?
Eddie glances at his watch at the end of the scene and this works on more than one level. Symbolically time is passing quickly, Catherine is turning from child to woman, a process which Eddie tries, but fails, to prevent. As Alfieri says, “The tale must run its bloody course.”
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Simple words may be “lifted” if there is no obvious alternative.
Figures of speech should be put into plain language.
Slang or archaisms should be put into simple, formal language
What the examiner is looking for…
o Check how many marks are available.
o A two mark question may usually require two pieces of information.
o It may also require four small pieces of information.
o One piece of information is inadequate for a four mark question.
o Equally, a ten line answer to a one mark question is a waste of your time.
Thinking of Grandpa now, I recall the clouds of pungent smoke that he puffed from his favourite briar, his small shrewd eyes, still very blue, and the gleaming dome rising from fleecy tufts of white hair.
Question: What three characteristics of “Grandpa” does the author remember?
Answer: She remembers her grandfather smoked a strong-smelling pipe. He also had intelligent bright blue eyes and a bald head with a little fluffy white hair.
Method: Understanding of “briar” is shown by the more general term “pipe”. The metaphor “gleaming dome” is simplified to “bald head”. Since the word “eyes” is a common word with no obvious alternatives it may be used again. There are several possible alternatives for “shrewd”, and “intelligent” is an acceptable one. Since “Grandpa” is colloquial, the more formal “grandfather” is used in the answer.
1. Jim scarcely recognised his long hair and grey cheeks, the strange face in a strange mirror. He would stare at the ragged figure who appeared before him in all the mirrors of the Columbia Road, an urchin half his previous size and twice his previous age.
Question: Give four changes in his appearance that Jim notices when he looks at himself in the mirror.
2. Myself, my family, my generation, were born in a world of silence; a world of hard work and necessary patience, of backs bent to the ground, hands massaging the crops, of waiting on weather and growth, of villagers like ship in the empty landscape and the long walking distances between them; of white narrow roads, rutted by hooves and cart-wheels, innocent of oil or petrol, down which people passed rarely, and almost never for pleasure, and the horse was fastest thing moving.
What was the nature of agricultural work during the author’s childhood? 2 marks
(ii) What further clues are there to village life at that time? 3 marks
3. When one came straight from England the aspect of Barcelona was something startling and overwhelming. It was the first time that I had ever been in a town where the working class was in the saddle. Practically every building of any size had been seized by the workers and was draped with red flags or with the red and black flag of the Anarchists; every wall was scrawled with the hammer and sickle and with the initials of the revolutionary parties; almost every church had been gutted and its images burnt.
Explain why the author found Barcelona astonishing. 4 marks
Perhaps the greatest of all these masters of the latter part of the sixteenth century was Jacupo Robusti, nicknamed Tintoretto. He too had tired of the simple beauty in forms and colours which Titian had shown to the Venetians – but his discontent must have been more than a mere desire to accomplish the unusual. He seems to have felt that, however incomparable Titian was as a painter of beauty, his pictures tended to be more pleasing than moving; that they were sufficiently exciting to make the great stories of the Bible and the sacred legends live for us. Whether he was right or not, he must, at any rate, have been resolved to tell these stories in a different way, to make the spectator feel the thrill and tense drama of the events he painted.
Why, according to the author, was Tintoretto dissatisfied with Titian’s work? 3 marks
What was Tintoretto’s own aim in portraying Bible stories? 1 mark
5. The winter of 1542 was marked by tempestuous weather throughout the British Isles; in the north, on the borders of Scotland and England, there were heavy snow-falls in December and frost so savage that by January the ships were frozen into the harbour at Newcastle.
These stark conditions found a bleak parallel in the political climate which then prevailed between the two countries. Scotland as a nation groaned under the humiliation of a recent defeat at English hands at the battle of Solway Moss. As a result of the battle, the Scottish nobility which had barely recovered from the defeat of Flodden a generation before were stricken yet again by the deaths of many of their leaders in their prime; of those who survived, many prominent members were prisoners in English hands, while the rest met the experience of defeat by quarrelling among themselves, showing their strongest loyalty to the principle of self-aggrandisement, rather than to the troubled monarchy. The Scottish national Church, although still officially Catholic for the next seventeen years, was already torn between those who wished to reform its manifold abuses from within, and those who wished to follow England’s example, by breaking away root and branch from the tree of Rome. The king of this divided country, James V, lay dying with his back to the wall.
(i) What was noteworthy about the winter of 1542? 2 marks
(ii) Identify five political problems that were facing Scotland. 10 marks
Context questions are the second type of understanding questions that you will cover in Higher English.
Context questions ask you to derive the meaning of a word or phrase from the text around it.
They are usually worth 2 marks.
Don’t worry if you do not know the meaning if the word or phrase, you should be able to get it from the surrounding text.
Similarly, if you already know the meaning of this word or phrase, you MUST still show how the surrounding text reveals this meaning.
Use the following steps to answer context questions:
o Explain the meaning of the word or phrase. 1 mark
o Show how you arrived at this meaning from the surrounding text by quoting 2 pieces of evidence with an explanation. 1 mark
For two days the general vacillated. Should he give the order to advance, or should he allow his men to cling to their sturdy line of defence? This hesitation was to prove fatal.
o Show how the context helps you to arrive at the meaning of the underlined word.
o The word vacillated means to be undecided between two options. (1mark)
o We know this because the general asks questions “should he give the order…?” and also because the word “hesitation” is used to describe his actions. (1mark)
o Give the meaning of the expression printed in italics in the following examples and show how the context helped you to arrive at the meaning.
1. Silverstein was implacable in pursuing his revenge. After years of patient searching he had finally come face to face with his father’s tormentor, and he showed no mercy. (2marks)
2. The position of the Stewart monarchs in the fifteenth century and sixteenth centuries was peculiarly perilous in dynastic terms, for a number of reasons. In the first place chance had resulted in a total of seven royal minorities – there had been no adult succession since the fourteenth century – which had an inevitable effect of weakening the power of the crown and increasing that of the nobility. (2marks)
3. Oliver’s first play at the Edinburgh festival was only a qualified success. True, the critics, including some who were frequently disdainful of new writers, were lavish in their praise, and the houses were pleasingly full in the first week. But by the second week the numbers attending had inexplicably fallen away and the show was lucky to break even. (2marks)
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
A sentence is a group of words which contains a verb and makes complete sense.
It may be a statement, a question, an exclamation or a command.
“John is sitting down.”
“Is John sitting down?”
“John is sitting down!”
“Sit down, John.”
The subject is the topic being discussed.
The predicate is what is said about the subject and contains the verb of the sentence.
The dog (subject) killed the rat (predicate).
In regular English usage, the subject comes before the predicate.
A stranger stood in the doorway.
Occasionally, the subject is delayed until after the predicate.
In the doorway stood a stranger.
This is called inversion and alters the emphasis of the sentence. Delaying “a stranger” throws a spotlight on it.
Active or passive
Another variation which alters the emphasis in a sentence is the use of the passive voice.
Usually, the subject performs the action in a sentence:
The lion killed the zebra.
However, if the action is done to the subject this is called the passive voice.
The passive often has an impersonal tone.
Clauses; complex and simple sentences.
A sentence is usually composed of one or more clauses.
A clause is a unit of language that includes a subject and a predicate. A simple sentence contains only one clause.
The lion killed the zebra.
A complex sentence contains more than one clause, but at least one of these clauses must make sense by itself.
Because it needed food for its cubs, the lion killed the zebra.
In this example, “the lion killed the zebra” would make sense by itself. Such a clause is called the principal or main clause. Clauses which cannot stand alone, as in this case, “because it needed food for its cubs”, are called subordinate clauses.
A series of short, simple sentences may build up tension.
A single simple sentence after a series of longer ones may make a dramatic contrast.
A climax may be created by using a series of subordinate clauses followed by a main clause.
These can function as nouns, adjectives or adverbs.
A noun clause answers the question “What?” in response to a main clause.
He told me that he would be unable to visit.
I asked him what he was doing.
An adjective clause describes something or someone and is usually introduced by “who”, “whom”, “which” or “that”.
The man who lives next door has just won the lottery.
I lost the book which I had borrowed from the library.
Adverbial clauses are of many types and perform many functions. The following four types are among the most common and the most useful to be able to recognise.
(i) Time (answers the question “when?”): introduced by “when”, “before”, “after”
When the cat’s away the mice will play.
(ii) Conditional (answers the question “On what condition?”): introduced by “if” or “unless”
If I see him I will tell him.
(iii) Reason (answers the question “why?”): introduced by “because”, “as”, “since”
He went home from school because he felt ill.
(iv) Concession (answers the question “In spite of what?”): introduced by “although”
Although he was small, he was strong.
A phrase is a group of words, not including a verb, which forms a unit.
a fat, black cat
with long fair hair
slowly but surely
in the corner of the room
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Avoid the use of very . It is overused. Everything is very interesting, very striking, very difficult, etc. etc. and in the end, this becomes very, very boring indeed.
Another overused phrase is 'It is very interesting to note that …' and similar phrases.
Observe the following sentence with and without the phrase:
'[It is very interesting to notice how] Hardy sets himself against the loud noises of public discourse, deliberately creating in his poems a private space of intense feeling that challenges the hollowness of large formulas and overblown publicity.'
The opening phrase adds nothing to the sentence and should be dropped.
Trust your reader
Avoid backward and forward signposts: 'as I argued above', 'as I said at the beginning of this essay', 'as we have already said', 'as I will argue later', 'as we will see in a minute'.
These are usually unnecessary. Try and avoid them.
If you need to repeat a point in your argument, simply repeat it. Don't repeat it and say that you are repeating it. If you have already argued something, it is fine to repeat it without having also to draw attention to the fact that you are repeating it. Trust the reader's memory.
Quote in the present tense
Always use the present tense when describing the actions taking place within a play, novel, or poem. Examples:
At the beginning of Act I, scene 7, Macbeth's imagination is overheated. Now he is contemplating murder seriously for the first time. He is struggling to overcome his conscience …
In chapter 6 of A Room with a View all the main characters go on a picnic together to a high look-out point above Florence. The Italian driver of one of the carriages kisses his girlfriend, and when Mr Eager sees this he becomes very annoyed and starts arguing with them.
an ellipsis should only be three dots . . . not ...... or ..........
Avoid wordy phrases
Wordy phrase Preferable alternative
a considerable amount much
a majority of most
a number of many
are of the same opinion agree
at this point in time now
in many cases often
in the event that if
on a daily basis daily
take into consideration consider
through the use of by
For example, in each of the phrases listed below, the words contradict or are inconsistent.
Tautology, according to Fowler’s Modern English Usage, is literally, saying the same thing.
actual fact fact
close proximity close
consensus of opinion consensus
new initiative initiative
reason why reason
Vary your beginnings
Avoid “The”, “A”, “An”, “Another”…
Try to use “If” or the gerund (“-ing”)
“Considering this point it can be said that…”
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Saturday, 14 November 2009
Friday, 13 November 2009
The World’s Wife is a collection of poems written by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. The collection is written as a response to the patriarchal literary culture that permeates the western world, and through her own escriture feminine she attempts to empower the female characters of history and mythology that have hitherto been denied a voice. As such, it is difficult to argue that the collection is not feminist; however the poems explore Duffy’s feminism from a variety of angles, and this essay will explore them.
Key to this essay is the notion of what Duffy’s feminism is. It is certainly empowering of women and at times is antagonistic of men, but the poems deal with a range of emotions and subjects which makes a binary or simplistic feminist view difficult.
In Mrs Aesop, Duffy makes a sustained attack on the method of mythology being recorded by men, in this the poem is very feminist with an undercurrent of male antagonism. We are told that “didn't prepossess. So he tried to impress” and this internal rhyme draws the reader’s attention to the notion that Aesop, far from being the literary aesthete, is in fact writing to cover his own sexual inadequacy. As Mrs Aesop herself confirms, “He was small”. She goes on to express her exasperation at her husband’s misplaced passion when she explodes, ““He'd stand at our gate, look, then leap;//scour the hedgerows for a shy mouse, the fields//for a sly fox, the sky for one particular swallow//that couldn't make a summer...” Aesop’s inability to see the world but through his work has clearly driven a wedge between the two and, over a course of years, has soured the relationship, to the point that Mrs Aesop notes the story of the Toroise and the Hare does not carry the moral of ‘Slow but steady…’, instead it holds the symbolism of “slow as marriage”. The final emasculating blow is delivered when she writes a fable of her own, ironically and sarcastically saying, “I gave him a fable one night//about a little cock that wouldn't crow”. The threat of cutting his penis off prompts his wife’s ultimate revenge, “I laughed last, longest.”
It would be simplistic, however, to suggest that Duffy’s feminism were this simplistic. In Anne Hathaway and The Devil’s Wife Duffy presents very different sides to her feminist view.
Anne Hathaway was William Shakespeare’s wife and, as the epithet at the beginning notes, in his will he bequeathed her his second best bed. This is not an insult as it might appear to twenty-first century eyes. The second best bed in the Elizabethan household was for the married couple, the first best being reserved for guests. As such, the symbolic meaning of this inheritance is an affirmation of Shakespeare’s love for his wife.
The poem continues in sonnet form (apt considering Shakespeare’s expertise for love poetry in this form) using metaphor after metaphor for Hathaway to demonstrate her affection for her late husband. “The bed we loved in was a spinning world// of forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seas” This procession of locations at once summons up images that suggest the scale of the imagination the pair possessed together in love, and also references key locations in Shakespearian plays. Hathaway’s admiration for her husband’s skill as a lover and a writer is such that the two become synonymous – her praise could be applied to either in equal measure.
Hathaway praises in metaphor the pleasure of kissing her husband saying, “My lover's words//were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses//on these lips”, and this is further developed to a sexual level when she says, “seas//where we would dive for pearls”. Comparing this degree of romance and satisfaction jars with the feminism of Mrs Aesop. Clearly, Duffy feels some men are worthy of praise.
Contrasting this is “The Devil’s Wife”, a portrait of Moors Murderer, Myra Hindley, which pulls no punches in its horror. When Hindley expresses her participation in one of the murders she tries to veil it in the metaphor of “a doll”. This inability to face her actions is continued through “Dirt” where she explains her inability to speak when with Brady, such was his power over her. She says, “I felt like this: Tongue of stone” and the metaphor conveys the weight of guilt in her mouth.
Key to readings of the poem is the brutal summary that Hindley was “Nobody's Mam.” Part of the reason for the media and public’s hatred of the murderer was that as a woman, many people believed she had abandoned her protective, maternal role by taking part in the killings and this “made me worse” than Brady. Hindley, in Duffy’s portrayal is keenly aware of her status in society as a “poster girl” for murder and this leads to her ruminating on the nature of justice and the death penalty which many sought for her. “If I’d been stoned to death//If I’d been hung by the neck//If I’d been shaved and strapped to the Chair//If an injection” The anaphora “If” emphasising the notion that she would not be able to escape her reputation or pay her debt to society if another penance had been given her.
The final line of the poem, “But what did I do to us all, to myself//When I was the Devil’s wife?” poses a hypothesis for Hindley and her reader to ponder. The vandalism of the female maternal reputation has clearly damaged Hindley, and forced society to take a different view of women. Duffy also seems to use this reflective tone to pose the questions: what is a woman, and what do we expect of them.
Through these three poems, we have been shown three different viewpoints of Duffy’s feminism. By using shade and light to reflect different viewpoints we can be sure that her feminism is not the mere man-baiting of the 1970s and 80s, but at the same time it celebrates art and love. Duffy’s feminism is inclusive and wide-ranging, inviting the reader to avoid broad judgements of women and to value them for their contributions in many forms.
This essay is in no way perfect and there are some gaping holes in my argument. Nonetheless it is a solid, fluent piece of writing that incorporates close reading skills and analysis.
- “Earth spins. And Wing, the high island, is hurled into the sunless shadow of night.”
What do the strong verbs suggest in this opening sentence?
- Why is “Now it’s all ocean” on its own?
- What role does the writer give to light and darkness in this opening?
- What kind of place do you think Wing is? Does it remind you of anything?
- Why does the writer say that the lines on Tain’s face “plough”?
- What is the main disagreement in the first chapter, and who is it between?
- What do we know about Tain?
- How is this vision of the future different to what you might expect?
- In the final paragraph, what is the effect used to portray the sea?
- What does the phrase “a rare lull” tell us about the island, on page 5.
- What is the cyberwhizz?
- Why is Mara so pleased to see the sea and sky?
- What unusual object have the islanders preserved? Why?
- What does Mara find and take to Tain?
- What signs are there that people tried to reverse the rising seas in the past?
- Mara is twice compared to an animal. Which one? Why might this be effective?
- There are many verbs which suggest chaos in this chapter. Find two and write them down.
- What solution is Tain proposing?
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
Remember, you need to show more than you tell.
1. Describe the peace of the beach at night. Your character is walking alone along the beach.
2. Your character walks back to the dunes where his friends are camping. Describe the atmosphere. It is happy and cheerful. What is everyone doing? Describe the scene.
3. You hear a scream.
4. The group walks to the scene of a murder. Again, show the reader what the scene is like.
5. Describe the panic as you realise there is no signal on anyone's phone and nobody knows where you are.
6. Tell the reader that you have returned to camp. The atmosphere has changed. Describe it.
7. You try to stay awake but tiredness gets the better of you.
8. You hear something outside. Describe what you hear and what you think.
Early in 2007, it was reported that J K Rowling had completed the seventh and final book in her enormously successful Harry Potter series. In this article, published in The Herald newspaper in February 2007, Melanie Reid is glad that the series is at an end.
Read the passage straight through to get an overall impression of her reasons for not liking the whole "Harry Potter phenomenon". Then answer the questions that follow.
There are some things which have to be said, even if they make us desperately unpopular with the nation's children. Some of us - and I'm speaking in a whisper here - are glad that the seventh and final Harry Potter book has been finished. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, some of us are indescribably, heel-clickingly overjoyed that J K Rowling has written "The End" for the last time. Some of us - well, okay, quite a lot of us - have come to regard Harry the global brand as a total bore, as predictable as Coca Cola, as stimulating as a Big Mac and as profitable as Nike. We will be happy never to hear the name mentioned again.
It is not exaggerating to describe the way in which Harry has dominated popular taste for the past decade or so as cultural tyranny. An astonishing 325 million copies of the books have been sold around the world, which has little to do with the merits of a jolly saga about a boy wizard battling evil, but everything to do with the power of the marketing industry, with children who are both less literate and more overtly consumer-conscious than previous generations, and with parents clutching at a life raft in the sea of their busy lives.
The Harry Potter books are, as entertainment, inoffensive. But they’re not literature; they’re middle-brow pot-boilers. I will not go as far as Professor Harold Bloom of Yale University, who has said of J K Rowling’s work: “The writing was dreadful; the book was terrible. Rowling’s mind is so governed by clichés and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing.”
But I'm with Bloom in his demolition of the well-rehearsed argument which says that at least children are reading something, and that Harry Potter will lead them on to a life of reading - and, by inference, erudition. Now the first part of this argument does have something going for it: no doubt some children who would otherwise have spent their lives playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on their games console have been rescued from zombiedom by the gripping tales of Voldemort and Hogwarts.
But the second part doesn't hold water. Harry Potter will not lead children on to Swallows and Amazons, the Just So Stories, Wind in the Willows or Alice through The Looking Glass. What it will do, as Professor Bloom declared, is train them to read Stephen King.
Certainly, in my own experience, the craze for Harry Potter books was a peer group thing for children, not unrelated to wearing the right brand of trainers. They were bought as status symbols and then languished, a quarter read, for years under the bed. How many of those 325 million copies failed to change the trajectory of the modern TV-raised child who, tragically, does not read for pleasure and probably never will? More than a few, I suspect.
So that's the elitist argument against Rowling, if you like: that her work is part of a general dumbing down; that in a way the whole Potter phenomenon represents a missed opportunity to stretch children's imaginations and teach millions the use of supple, challenging, original writing.
Maybe it's all a little harsh. Rowling's books are not that bad and have brought pleasure to millions. I remember as a child exactly the same kind of literary snobbery attaching to Enid Blyton books: speaking personally, I was forbidden Noddy and Famous Five books on those very grounds, but made up for it later with wall-to-wall absorption of Mallory Towers, read illicitly under the bedcovers by torchlight. Some would say they can see the malign influence still.
Where I really quarrel with Harry Potter is not in the quality of the writing but in the marketing. This Harry - Harry the brand - really is a monster of the first order. Somewhere along the line the author waved bye bye to her creation and saw it become a global money-making colossus, one which exploited the thrill of the chase and the tribal yearning to be part of something. It wasn't a book; it was a badge of belonging; a cult.
Oh, we fell for it. We were sent to spend nights queuing in the cold on Sauchiehall Street, in order to be the first to purchase one of those doorstopper hardbacks for our employers. This is when I perceived another worrying phenomenon: the rise of the adult fan. Frequently, the grown-ups queuing for their copy weren't doing it for nieces or nephews, but for themselves. In some cases their lips were moving when they scanned the lines, in other cases they didn't even have that excuse.
Far more worrying are the adults who have latched on to Harry Potter. One adult female Potter fan in the States, telling him she felt an "emotional, intellectual and personal" connection with him because of what he had written. The books, she said, had made her reflect on her own childhood and she was "enriched and satisfied".
Now all this is very sweet; and one can only be pleased that she and millions of fans like her are happy, but one does have to question whether J K Rowling is now being hijacked into territories which she never intended to visit. In that sense it is interesting that both the author and the young actor, Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry in the (largely lamentable) films, have expressed sincere relief at the end of the saga. Is it too presumptuous to suggest that everyone creative connected with Harry has been imprisoned for too long in an immense money-making machine; one which has came close to crushing the original joy of an adequate story?
Which two of the following are the main reasons for the writer's disapproval of the Harry Potter books?
A. The quality of the writing is poor.
B. The whole thing fgrew into an enormous commercial enterprise.
C. Too many adults were reading the books.
D. Children owned the books but often did not read them.
E. Children wanted them for the wrong reasons.
F. They are not actually very good entertainment.
2. Which one of the following statements is true?
A. The writer agrees with Professor Bloom about the quality of the writing in the books.
B. The writer disagrees with Professor Bloom about the quality of the writing in the books.
C. The writer agrees with professor Bloom that reading the books will not develop children's love of good literature.
D. The writer disagrees with professor Bloom that reading the books will not develop children's love of good literature.
3a. Here are five quotations from the passage which make quite positive, complimentary comments about the books and their influence. Rank them in order from "most complimentary" to "least complimentary".
A. "the merits of a jolly saga"
B. "the Harry Potter books are, as entertainment, inoffensive"
C. "some children... have been reduced to zombiedom"
D. "not that bad"
E. "have brought pleasure to millions"
5b. Here are six quotations from the passage which make quite critical, slightly offensive comments about the books and their influence. Rank them in order from "most offensive" to "least offensive".
A. "a total bore"
B. "cultural tyranny"
C. "middle-brow pot-boilers"
D. "part of a general dumbing-down"
E. "really is a monster of the first order"
F. "a global money-making colossus"
4. Consider carefully the title given to the passage: "Harry Potter and the Money-Making MAchine". Which two of the following features of the title are most effective in suggesting the writer's critical attitude in the passage as a whole?
(i) the use of alliteration in "Money-Making Machine"
(ii) linking the character's name with money
(iii) the use of "machine" to suggest something inhuman
(iv) making it sound like a typicl "Harry Potter" title
When it debuted in an American newspaper in October 1950, the four frame strip Peanuts introduced a cast of unusually mature kids – Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Schroeder and an extraordinarily smart dog named Snoopy – who have since become cultural icons the world over.
For more than fifty years Charles M. Schulz wrote and drew this funny, poignant, deceptively simple strip, one for each day of the week plus a Sunday edition – more than 18,000 in all.
Beginning in April the entire strip collection will be republished in ‘The Complete Peanuts’ – 25 books appearing at the rate of two each year over the next 12 ½ years. It’s a mammoth task, the biggest ever undertaken by the Seattle, Washington-based comic book publishing house, Fantagraphics.
When Schulz died in February 2000, on the night before the publication of his final strip, newspaper editors made the decision to put Peanuts into syndication, indefinitely.
The most popular comic strip in the world – it’s a grand claim, but one the statistics bear out. Peanuts has been published in 21 languages in 2600 newspapers around the globe (some of which have run the strips for 36 consecutive years), garnering a towering readership of 355 million. Schulz’s annual earnings rocketed to $50m (£26m).
Some years back Forbes magazine put Schulz in its top-ten highest-paid entertainers, along with Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson.
A poll run in America in 2002 found Peanuts to be one of the nation’s most recognisable cartoon properties, identifiable by 94% of the US public, just two percentiles behind Mickey Mouse. To give this a more modern perspective, The Simpsons polled at 87% and Spiderman at 75%.
So why is Peanuts so popular? Although Schulz recognised the strip’s success – he once quipped: ‘I did expect it, because it was something I had planned for since I was six years old’ – he steadfastly refused to analyse the reasons behind it. His widow, Jean, does however offer an explanation for Peanuts’ popularity. ‘His characters speak of a universal desire to be loved.’
The universal nature of that theme, combined with the deceptive simplicity of the dialogue and drawing, accounts for Peanuts’ appeal. Add to that dashes of smarting humour and Schulz’s masterstroke of peopling the strip with ‘grown-up kids’ and you can see why Peanuts has travelled (and aged) so well.
Jean Schulz also attributes Peanuts’ popularity to how much of himself Schulz put into it. Charlie Brown is supposed to be an Everyman, but Charlie Brown is also Charles Schulz. The famous gag in which Lucy pulls the football away just as Charlie is about to kick it was inspired by a sporting failure Schulz experienced as a kid (pitching a no hit, no run game of baseball). Charlie Brown’s famous melancholic outlook on life, offset with a resolve to get on with it, regardless of how many footballs he fails to kick, is also a reflection of his creator.
In many ways, Schulz had a good, solid, comfortable life: the only child of devoted parents, he worked his way through art school, joined the army to fight in the Second World War, had two marriages and five kids. But although Schulz had devoted parents, as a kid he said he felt unloved by everyone other than them. And there was tragedy in Schulz’s life – his mother died young of the same cancer that would eventually take her son.
Schulz once said: ‘If you want to know who I am, read the strips.’
All the more reason, then, to celebrate the work of a man who gave so much pleasure to so many people for so many years. Schulz refined the art of cartooning, honing the simple lines and slight incident storytelling to nothing less than perfection. And Schulz achieved all this with no great ostentation. He once said: ‘A cartoon is someone who has to draw something different every day and yet draw the same thing over and over.’
Rats! We can’t be 50
1. In your own words, give two facts about the Peanuts cartoons which the author includes in the first paragraph.
2. The author uses a mix of very informal and very formal styles in the passage. From the first paragraph, pick out one word or expression which is an example of each.
3. Explain what the writer means when he says that Charles M Schulz’s comic strips were ‘deceptively simple’.
4. In paragraph 2 the writer emphasises the large number of cartoons Schulz produced. Explain how the use of a dash contributes to this.
5a. Peanuts is described in paragraph 5 as ‘the most popular comic strip in the world’. How is this claim backed up in the rest of the paragraph?
5b. ‘Schulz’s annual earnings rocketed to $50m (£26m).’ ‘Rocketed’ means ‘increased greatly’. Explain why ‘rocketed is a more effective expression.
6a. Identify Shulz’s tone in ‘I did expect it, because it was something I had planned for since I was six years old.’
6b. Select a word from the same paragraph which also relates to this tone.
7. ‘So why is Peanuts so popular?’
a. Show how this sentence is a successful link between paragraphs 6 and 7.
b. From the rest of this paragraph, explain in your own words why Jean Schulz believed the Peanuts cartoon was so popular.
8. Explain the image involved in ‘Add to that the dashes of smarting humour’ and show how it helps to make the author’s point clear.
9. ‘Charlie Brown is also Charles Schulz’. Explain in your own words one example of Schulz’s own experience which found its way into the cartoon strip.
10. Read paragraph 11. By referring to word choice, show how the author builds up both admiration and sympathy for Charles Schulz in these lines.
11. In this passage the writer’s main purpose is to explain why the Peanuts cartoon strip has been so successful.
By referring closely to the text, clearly explain which of his reasons you find most convincing.
Friday, 6 November 2009
Look at three types of story:
1. The Match– persona ( ie putting yourself in the place of); first person narrative; a simple event or near-event).
2. Bill McLaren Was My PE Teacher – incident from childhood re-fashioned; different styles of writing (use of commentary); dialogue.
3. Geranium – story centred round a metaphor; a snapshot of a relationship.
Any event or near-event can serve as the basis for a storyline.
A storyline has three phases:
1. Beginning – sets scene, character, tone and expectations
2. Middle - a) build up b) climax or anti-climax
3. Ending – leaves the reader with expectations fulfilled or dashed
Types of Ending:
a) Happy – where the main character wins etc, and everything works out.
b) Sad – where the main character loses etc, and things have not worked out (eg King of the Castle).
c) Bittersweet – where some things work out but others do not (eg The Match).
d) Ironic – where things work out in the way that characters had planned to avoid (eg Animal Farm).
e) Twist in the Tale – an unexpected or surprise ending (eg many Roald Dahl short stories).
f) Cliffhanger – where the reader is left to supply the ending (eg The Italian Job).
g) Multiple – where the writer supplies various endings and the reader has to choose (eg Freaky Friday; French Lieutenant’s Woman).
h) Sequel ending – where all is not resolved (eg the baddie gets away) and room is left for a follow-up.
Your choice of Ending has to take into account both the expectations set up in the Beginning and the way in which you have built the story up in the Middle.
The choice of narrator will make an enormous difference to how the story is told (eg compare The Catcher in the Rye with Slight Rebellion off Madison).
Types of Narrator:
a) Neutral – where the narrator just seems to be the author and at a distance from the story (eg Geranium).
b) Main character – where the story is told from the point of view of the character most involved (eg The Match; Catcher in the Rye; The Usual Please).
c) Secondary character – where the story is told by a character who is part of the story but not at its centre (eg Spit Nolan; The Great Gatsby).
d) Narrator with ‘attitude’ – where the narrator is not part of the story but continually comments on it and on the issues it brings up (eg Eraser’s Dilemma).
e) Multiple narrators – more than one narrator, each giving their own perspective on the story (eg Bill McLaren; Confessions of a Justified Sinner).
f) Narrator within a narration - this might be a letter or someone recounting to other characters, etc (eg Mrs Frisby).
The genre of a story will often define the audience of a story. The story will be told in a way that fits in with the audience’s expectations (or deliberately breaks them). However, even within this, there are different types of audiences:
a) General non-specific audience.
b) Specific audience - eg children, particular interest group such as football fans, people from a particular locality (eg The Usual Please).
c) An audience within the story – this is best seen in the technique of Dramatic Monologue where the narrator has a purpose in telling the story to the audience (eg My Last Duchess).
The combination of the narrator and audience will determine the TONE of the writing.
You have a choice of how you put your story together:
a) In a linear fashion - where the story is told from beginning to end.
b) In a retrospective fashion - (eg flashback) where you start the story at or near the end, return to the beginning and then work towards the end.
c) In a fragmented fashion – where the bits of the story are told, but not necessarily in the order that they occur.
However, whichever of these you choose, you still need a FRAMEWORK for your story. You have to move the story forward in BLOCKS of
- Place (eg The Match; The Usual Please)
- Event (eg Bill McLaren)
Keep the reader informed by SIGNPOSTING the different blocks of the story.
More than anything else, you need to keep in mind that it is not the story that counts, but the way in which the story is told. All the points above come together in the STYLE. Some key aspects of style are:
a) An arresting opening sentence (eg The Usual Please).
b) The use of a recurring image or reference (eg Geranium; the hunting hat/baseball glove/ducks in Catcher).
c) A change of style or narrator for effect (eg Bill McLaren)
d) The use of dialect (eg The Usual Please; Eraser’s Dilemma)
e) Comments on particular issues by the narrator or a character (eg The Usual Please; The Match; Catcher).
f) Effective use of detail – where a particular detail sums up a character or situation or where a list of details gives a sense of being there.
g) Use of expressive language:
- word choice
- techniques (such as alliteration, simile, repetition, etc)
- unusual sentence structures.
HOWEVER, the only way to develop the skills of storytelling is to WRITE STORIES and to try out different narrators, audiences, structures and stylistic devices both on different storylines and on the same storyline.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
Wednesday, 4 November 2009
7 April 1852.
Went to the Zoo.I said to Him —Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of you.
Choose a poem which is light-hearted or playful or not entirely serious.
Show how the poet makes you aware of the tone, and discuss how effective the use of this tone is in dealing with the subject matter of the poem.
Where does the poem come from?
Tell us about the collection as a whole
The undermining of a male figure
What does the poem say about the role of women?
Style of poem?
In chapter 9 Stanley writes to his Mom to let her know how he is doing and what’s going on at Camp Green Lake. In the letter he doesn’t tell her the truth because he doesn’t want her to worry about him – so he tells some ‘white lies’ and uses euphemism.
Euphemism is a way of putting a positive spin on something negative.
For example, Stanley might explain that he is pleased to be improving his gardening skills at Camp Green Lake.
Camp Green Lake Correctional Facility
Today was my first day at camp and I’ve already made some friends. We’ve been out on the lake all day, so I’m pretty tired. Once I pass the swimming test, I’ll learn how to water-ski. I ….
• What Camp Green Lake is like (LIE – lots of greenery and a huge lake)
• Explain about some of the wonderful wildlife (Make them sound interesting but not dangerous)
• What ‘fun things’ he is doing there (LIE – don’t write that you have to dig holes)
• What ‘lovely’ food he is having (LIE – loads of tasty food)
• What the staff are like (LIE – all friendly?)
• What the other boys are like (LIE – all friendly?)
• What the accommodation is like (LIE – top of the range camping equipment)
• How much he is enjoying himself! (LIE – having a great time)
• Ask about Dad and his inventions
• Include something about the sneakers
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
The setting of a story is the backdrop against which the action takes place. You need to be able to imagine what the setting of a story is like to get involved in the story.
It is easy to give an impression of this using visual images, as happens in films, but much more difficult to do in writing. It is a picture in words.
To create a setting for your story you need to describe five different ELEMENTS:
• What the place looks like or is appearance
• If the place has certain colours or is light or dark
• What the weather is like
• What sounds there are
• Any other impression made on the senses (touch, taste, smell)
It is important to let the reader know WHERE and WHEN the story takes place by describing the setting.
This usually happens at the beginning of a story – but not always!
Write a description of the setting for a ghost story. You do not need to worry about plot or character at this stage. Just concentrate on building up atmosphere – remember you are painting a picture with words.
Here are some possible scenes:
• An old lunatic asylum
• An old school
• A castle
• An ancient forest
• An abandoned warehouse
• A deserted village
• A hotel
The list could be endless… you can use an idea of your own if you prefer. Just make it scary.
Monday, 2 November 2009
Think of a monster for your own horror story. Answer the following questions in as much detail as possible.
My character is called:
What do they look like?
What do they wear?
Do they have any special habits?
What do they eat and drink?
Where do they come from?
What makes them happy?
What makes them angry?
What do they want from life?
What else might we want to know about this character?
By James Reeves.
They rise like sudden fiery flowers
That burst upon the night,
Then fall to earth in burning showers
Of crimson, blue and white.
Like buds too wonderful to name,
Each miracle unfolds
And Catherine wheels begin to flame
Like whirling marigolds.
Rockets and Roman candles make
An orchard of the sky,
Where magic trees their petals shake
Upon each gazing eye.
1) Find an example in the poem of a simile.
2) Find an example of a metaphor.
3) What are ‘marigolds’?
4) Does the poet use onomatopoeia? If so where?
5) What is the rhyme scheme of the poem?
6) ‘Fiery flowers’ is used in the opening line – which device is this an example of?
7) Which other devices does the poet use? Remember to give examples.
8) Do you think the poet likes fireworks? Why?
9) There is something strange and mysterious about fireworks. What two words does the poet use to express this strangeness?
10) Which word best describes the movement of the Catherine Wheel in stanza two?
11) What three colours does the poet mention?
12) Give an example of a verb used to describe the fireworks.
13) Give an example of an adjective to describe the fireworks.
14) Give an example of a noun in the poem.