Performer Heritage - Volume 2 - Soluzioni
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|Scuola||Secondaria di II grado|
5. The Victorian Age
5.1 The dawn of the Victorian Age
Ascended to the throne: 1837
Ruled for: almost 64 years
Married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha in 1840 Had nine children
Gave her husband the title of Prince Consort in 1857
|1832||First Reform Act||Transferred voting privileges from the small boroughs, controlled by the nobility and the gentry, to the large industrial towns, like Birmingham and Manchester|
|1833||Factory Act||Prevented children aged 9 to 13 from being employed more than 48 hours a week, and no person between 13 and 18 could work more than 72 hours a week.|
|1834||Poor Law Amendment Act||Reformed the old Poor Laws, dating from Elizabeth I, with the creation of workhouses which became a deterrent against poverty.|
|1846||Abolition of the Corn Laws||End of tariffs on imported corn.|
|1867||Second Reform Act||Enfranchised part of the urban male working class in England and Wales.|
|1872||Ballot Act||Introduced the secret ballot.|
- With this charter the Chartist movement demanded equal electoral districts, universal male suffrage, a secret ballot, paid MPs, annually elected Parliaments and abolition of the property qualifications for membership.
- The terrible famine of 1845 following the destruction of potato crops caused by bad weather and an unknown plant disease from America. Many people died and many others emigrated to America.
- In the mid-19th century, England was involved in the two Opium Wars against China, which was trying to suppress the opium trade. The first Opium War (1839-42) was fought between China and Britain, while the Second Opium War (1856-60), also known as the Anglo-French War in China, was fought by Britain and France against China. England gained access to five Chinese ports and control of Hong Kong.
- A widespread rebellion against British rule in India in 1857, after which the Indian administration was given fewer responsibilities.
- The picture represents the moment of dinner in a workhouse. It shows regimentation and the segregation of the sexes. The room is bare and monotonous.
- The Great Exhibition of 1851. To celebrate commercial and technological progress through the display of goods coming from all over the world.
- The painting represents the royal couple and their children as the embodiment of the ideal family for the nation. The queen is in evening dress, wears the ribbon and star of the Garter - as the prince also does -, and a head ornament with sapphires. The prince wears court dress and the badge of the Golden Fleece. They are sitting on two chairs while their eldest son, Prince Albert, Prince of Wales, stands close to his mother dressed in a Russian blouse. In front of them Prince Alfred walks towards his sisters Victoria, Princess Royal, and Princess Alice, who are watching over the baby, Princess Helena, lying on an ermine-lined mantle.
5.2 The Victorian compromise
- why the Victorian Age was complex; It was a time of unprecedented change but also of great contradictions, an age in which progress, reforms and political stability coexisted with poverty adn injustice. Listening to sermons was a popular pastime, yet vices were openly indulged. Modernity was praised but there was a revival of Gothic and Classicism in art.
- the role of religion in people’s lives; Religion played an important role in people’s lives; Evangelicalism, in particular, encouraged public and political action and created a lot of charities. Philanthropy led to the creation of societies which addressed every kind of poverty and depended especially on the voluntary efforts of middle-class women.
- the concept of freedom; It was linked with religion as regarded freedom of conscience, with optimism over economic and political progress, and with national identity.
- what respectability implied; It implied selfrestraint, good manners and self-help.
- views of women; Women were seen at the same time as physically weaker but morally superior, divine guides and inspirers of men. They controlled the family budget and brought up the children.
- general attitudes to sex. There was an intense concern for female chastity, and single women with a child were marginalised as ‘fallen women’. Sexuality was generally repressed in both its public and private forms, and moralising ‘prudery’ in its most extreme manifestations led to the denunciation of nudity in art, the veiling of sculptured genitals and the rejection of words with a sexual connotation from everyday vocabulary.
Reading and Use of English – Part 5
- commercial railway
- London to Bristol
- 2,400 miles
- unskilled labourers / navvies
- cheaper transportation
- further away
CLIL Science: Discoveries in medicine
- Write down what the causes of disease transmission were considered to be in the early Victorian Age. They were inherited weakness and individual lifestyle, made worse by climate and location.
- Complete the diagram about medical treatments at the time. A ‘change of air’, laxative purgation, poor liquid diets, cold water plunging, and bleeding by cupping or leech.
- Identify the two kinds of disease mentioned. They were either endemic, like pulmonary tuberculosis, or epidemic, like cholera.
- State what aggravated male and female death rates. Male death rates were aggravated by occupational injury and toxic substances, those for women by childbirth and violence.
- What did epidemiological measuring and mapping of mortality lead to? It led to the clear association of pollution and disease, followed by appropriate environmental health measures.
- What were the symptoms of cholera? The first symptom of cholera was nausea, followed by stomach ache, vomiting and diarrhoea so profuse that it caused victims to die of dehydration.
- What were miasmas? They were bad smells arising from sewers, garbage pits and other foulsmelling sites of organic decay.
- Explain Snow’s theory about the spread of cholera. As people did not have running water or modern toilets in their houses, they used to dump their sewage into rivers or town wells. It was this habit which led to a rapid spread of the disease, according to Doctor Snow. He realised that these conditions characterised several London areas and that if cholera epidemics had to be eliminated, wells and water pipes should be kept isolated from drains and sewers. To avoid a clash with most of the physicians of the time, who refused the theory that germs could cause the disease, Snow did not directly state that a living organism could cause cholera. Instead, he spoke about a particular ‘poison’ that could ‘multiply itself’ within the digestive tracts of cholera victims, before being scattered to new victims through polluted food or water.
- State what the principal cause of cholera contagion was, according to Snow. According to Dr Snow, drinking water was the primary means of contagion.
- Say what the German physician Robert Koch discovered. He identified the bacterium Vibrio cholerae as the causative agent. He stated that cholera was not contagious from person to person, but it was spread only through unsanitary water or food supply sources. This was a major victory for Snow’s theory.
It advanced thanks to the discovery of anaesthetic agents, which began to be used to reduce the sensation of pain during surgery
- What did surgeons use for general anaesthesia in the 19th century? They used nitrous oxide, ether and chloroform.
- Complete the timeline with the necessary information.
- Ancient times When patients needed surgery for illness or injury, they had to rely on alcohol, opium (a natural narcotic derived from the opium poppy) or fumes from an anaesthetic-soaked cloth in order to lessen the pain of the surgeon’s knife.
- 1799 Nitrous oxide was discovered as an anaesthetic by the English chemist Sir Humphry Davy.
- 1842 The surgeon Crawford Williamson Long was the first to use ether as an anaesthetic during an operation in Georgia.
- 1846 William Thomas Green Morton made a public demonstration of an operation using ether in a Boston hospital. John Collins Warren removed a neck tumour without the patient feeling any pain thanks to ether.
- 1847 Chloroform was introduced as a surgical anaesthetic by the Scottish obstetrician Sir James Young Simpson for pain during childbirth.
- 1853 Chloroform was used by John Snow for Queen Victoria’s eighth confinement.
- 1869 Antiseptic surgical procedures were developed by Joseph Lister using carbolic acid (phenol) in Edinburgh.
- what anaesthetics enabled surgeons to do; To perform even more sophisticated operations without
- what led to fatal infection after operations; The use of unsterile equipment during surgery.
- who developed antiseptic surgical procedures; Joseph Lister.
- what aseptic procedures involved. Sterilisation of whole environments.
5.3 Early Victorian thinkers
- Inspired by the teachings of Methodism
- Stressed the need for a strict code of morality
- Dedicated to humanitarian causes and social reform
- Jeremy Bentham’s.
- According to their consequences on general welfare. An action was judged as morally right if it had consequences that led to happiness, and wrong if it brought about the reverse.
- The middle class.
- Mill thought that happiness was a state of the mind and the spirit, not a mere search for selfish pleasures.
- He believed that legislation should try to help men develop their natural talents and personalities.
- His idea of progress was linked to mental energy, education and art.
- He supported various reforms including the causes of popular education, trade union organisation, the development of cooperatives, the extension of representation to all citizens, and the emancipation of women.
- They had evolved from less highly organised forms through a slow process of change and adaptation in a struggle for survival.
- Favourable physical conditions.
- It questioned the version of creation given by the Bible.
- Originated in Oxford
- Led by the English cardinal John Henry Newman
- Returned to ancient doctrines and rituals
5.4 The American Civil War
|industrialised; growth of white population; emancipation||still based on the vast plantations of tobacco and cotton, and on slavery; inhabited by 4 million black slaves; rigidly divided class system|
|Abolitionists||Supporters of slavery|
|Who they were||Northern writers, intellectuals and religious associations.||The southern States.|
|What they said||They attacked the exploitation of slaves, the separation from their families, the cruelty they suffered and the fact that they were given no education.||They held that slavery was an institution which gave the blacks employment, protection and taught them the principles of Christian faith.|
- Causes: The economic differences between the northern and southern regions; Abraham Lincoln’s refusal to concede that any American State had the constitutional right to withdraw from the Union.
- Consequences: It led to the abolition of slavery through the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865; it defined the United States as an indivisible nation with a sovereign national government.
- They were not granted equality and economic security. They were free but without money and a home. Some migrated to the industrial cities in the North, others remained with their old masters in the South, who, impoverished by the war, could not afford to pay wages, but would share the crops with the workers and provide them with tools and a cabin. A wave of resentment and violence, embodied by the racist ‘Ku Klux Klan’ movement, frightened the blacks and their families. The so-called ‘black codes’ were created, which segregated the blacks in schools, hospitals and means of transport.
- The myth of the selfmade man who went from ‘rags to riches’. Men like Cornelius Vanderbilt and John Rockefeller who rose from nothing and made big fortunes.
- The discovery of gold in California in 1848-49, which resulted in the ‘gold rush’; then the Homestead Act (1862), which granted free soil to the first occupants. This migration westwards had two main consequences: it led to the disappearance of the frontier and to the extermination of buffaloes, with the consequent starvation of the American Indians, who were subjugated, mass-deported or brutally exterminated. Cattlemen - the cowboys - became the new Western symbols, so deeply rooted in American tradition.
5.5 The later years of Queen Victoria’s reign
The term refers to the reorganisation of the political parties that took place during the Victorian Age. The Tory Party had become the Conservative Party in the 1830s, while the Liberal Party was formed by the former Whigs, some Radicals and a large minority of businessmen.
- Home policy Artisans’ and Labourers’ Dwellings Act (1875) -> clearing of the slums and housing for the poor. Public Health Act (1875) -> sanitation and running water. Factory Act (1878) -> limited the working hours per week.
- Foreign policy The Eastern Question -> European countries were trying to gain power after the decay of the Ottoman Empire. Disraeli encouraged the purchase of more shares in the Suez Canal Company in 1875.
- Home policy Education Act (1870) -> introduction of board schools, mainly in the poorer areas of the towns. Trade Union Act (1871) -> legalisation of trade unions. Ballot Act (1872) -> introduction of the secret ballot at elections. By 1880 elementary education had become compulsory. Third Reform Act (1884) -> extension of the franchise to all male householders, including miners, mill-workers and farm labourers. Foreign policy Home Rule to Ireland -> Gladstone tried to get Parliament to pass a bill three times but failed. Anglo-Boer Wars (1880- 1902) -> fought in South Africa between the British and the Dutch settlers to win control of Transvaal.
- Self-government for Ireland demanded by the Irish Parliamentary Party sitting as a group in Westminster and led by Charles Stewart Parnell.
- A difficult combination of the duty to spread Christian civilisation, encouraging toleration and open communication and at the same time promoting commercial interests. It was a strongly felt obligation to provide leadership where States were failing or non-existent, especially in Africa and India.
- Celebrations for Queen Victoria’s 50 and 60 years on the throne.
Britain’s naval power, its huge financial and economic strength, and its ability to gain control of many areas of the world characterised by political and cultural fragmentation without major political intervention.
India was economically important as a market for British goods and strategically necessary to British control of Asia from the Persian Gulf to Shanghai. In the late Victorian period, the new imperial government became more ambitious and through free market economics it destroyed traditional farming and caused the deindustrialisation of India. At one time the main manufacturer of cotton cloth for the world, India, now became the largest importer of England’s cotton.
- They are Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli and Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone. They dominated the British political scene in the second half of the 19th century.
- Although she had withdrawn from society after Prince Albert’s death in 1861, Queen Victoria still remained an important figure. She embodied constitutional decorum, stability, continuity and imperial power.
5.6 The late Victorians
- public houses
- made for
- Public life Women became increasingly involved as leaders in campaigns against prostitution, as teachers and as volunteer charitable workers.
- Education Women’s colleges began to be opened in the 1870s.
- Taboos A strong taboo remained regarding family issues such as control over property, conditions of divorce and rights over children as well as questions of sex and childbirth.
- Rights The 1882 Married Women’s Property Act gave married women the right to own and manage their own property independently of their husbands.
Spencer applied Darwin’s theory of natural selection to human society: he argued that races, nations and social classes, like biological species, were subject to the principle of the ‘survival of the fittest’ and that the poor and oppressed did not deserve compassion.
- John Ruskin He criticised the inhumanity of industrialisation, and the greed, competition and ugliness of industrial society; he looked for a blend of utopianism and nostalgia in which the future in many ways resembled the past; he revived Gothic architecture.
- William Morris He started a battle against the age he was living in; he reacted against utilitarian mass-produced goods.
The 1880s saw the rise of an organised political left after the foundation of the Fabian society in 1884, whose members aimed at transforming Britain into a socialist State by systematic, progressive reforms. The Independent Labour Party was set up in 1893; it was a non-Marxist socialist party which attracted both male and female intellectuals.
- European civilisation.
- It was an attitude according to which many believed that God had imposed an obligation on the British to spread their superior way of life, their institutions, law and political system on native peoples throughout the world.
- It was based on colonial power and economic progress.
5.7 Victorian poetry
- the features of the two kinds of poetry which emerged in the Victorian Age; Poetry became more concerned with social reality. This led on the one hand to the creation of grand poetry linked to the myth and belief of the greatness of England; on the other hand to the creation of poetry more inclined towards anti-myth and disbelief which had to solve the ethical problems raised by science and progress.
- the new image of the poet. The poet was seen as a ‘prophet’ and a ‘philosopher’. People expected that he could reconcile faith and progress, as well as sprinkle a little romance over the unromantic materialism of modern life. Optimists believed that the benefits of progress could be reached without altering the traditional social organisation or destroying the beauty of the countryside; they wanted to find a corresponding attitude in poets and to be told that modern life was as susceptible to romantic behaviour as the remote legends of King Arthur or the Italian Renaissance.
They were Alfred Tennyson; Robert Browning, who is remembered for his best ‘dramatic monologues’; Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who wrote beautiful love sonnets; Gerard Manley Hopkins, famous for his unconventional use of rhythm; and Matthew Arnold, who used poetry to express his dissatisfaction with the world he lived in.
- narrative poem
- the speaker is caught in a crucial moment of crisis
- the speaker is a character, who cannot be identified with the poet himself
- interest in human psychology
- different points of view
- argumentative tone
- Find out:
- A what Porphyria’s lover decided to do; He decided to kill her
- B how he strangled her; He strangled her by winding her hair around her throat three times.
- C what he did after the murder. He opened her lids, untightened the tresses about her neck and propped up her head.
- Focus on the last three lines. Describe the present situation. What is the relationship between the past and the present? After murdering the woman, the speaker feels he has got supreme power over her. Both in the past and in the present the man is sitting with his lover Porphyria (note the use of the personal pronoun ‘we’ in lines 28-29).
- Concentrate on the two characters: the speaker, whose personality is unwittingly revealed as he speaks, and Porphyria, seen through the eyes of her lover. Describe their moods and personalities. The speaker is mentally alienated, cool, murderous and pitiless. Porphyria is ingenuous, innocent, warm and good.
- Think about the epilogue: is it a case of lucid insanity or sublime love? Why? Student’s activity. Suggestion: It may be a case of lucid insanity. Browning gives no answer; therefore, both hypotheses may be acceptable according to the students’ personality.
- How would you define the tone of the monologue? It is cool and reflective.
5.8 The Victorian novel
- A close relationship between writers and readers The close relationship between writers and readers was due to the enormous growth of the middle classes who, although consisting of people of many different levels where literacy had penetrated in a heterogeneous way, were avid consumers of literature. Moreover, Victorian writers themselves often belonged to the middle class.
- Circulating libraries People borrowed books from circulating libraries and read the abundant variety of periodicals.
- The publishing world A great deal of Victorian literature was first published in instalments in the pages of periodicals, which allowed the writer to feel he was in constant contact with his public and to alter the story whenever necessary. Reviewers also had a strong influence on the reception of literary works and on the shaping of public opinion.
- A novel with new features The spread of scientific knowledge made the novel realistic and analytical, the spread of democracy made it social and humanitarian, while the spirit of moral unrest made it inquisitive and critical.
- A novel deeply linked to society In the 1840s novelists felt they had a moral and social responsibility to fulfil. They wanted to reflect the social changes that had been in progress for a long time, such as the Industrial Revolution, the struggle for democracy and the growth of towns and cities. The novelists of the first part of the Victorian period described society as they saw it, and, with the exception of those sentiments which offended current morals, particularly regarding sex, nothing escaped their scrutiny. They were aware of the evils of their society, such as the terrible conditions of manual workers and the exploitation of children. They also conceived literature as a vehicle to correct the vices and weaknesses of the age.
- The role of the narrator The voice of the omniscient narrator provided a comment on the plot and erected a rigid barrier between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ behaviours, light and darkness. Retribution and punishment were to be found in the final chapter of the novel, where the whole texture of events, adventures and incidents had to be explained and justified.
- A new approach to setting The setting chosen by most Victorian novelists was the city, which was the main symbol of the industrial civilisation as well as the expression of anonymous lives and lost identities.
- The new characters In their effort to portray the individual motives for human action and all that binds men and women to the community, Victorian writers concentrated on the creation of realistic characters the public could easily identify with, in terms of comedy (especially Dickens’s characters) or dramatic passion (the Brontë sisters’ heroines).
- Novel of manners
- main representative: William M. Thackeray
- main features: it dealt with economic and social problems and described a particular class or situation
- Humanitarian novel main
- representative: Charles Dickens
- main features: it could be divided into novels of a ‘realistic’, ‘fantastic’ or ‘moral’ nature according to their predominant tone or issue dealt with
- Novel of formation
- main representatives: Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens
- main features: it dealt with one character’s development from early youth to some sort of maturity
- Literary nonsense
- main representatives: Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll
- main features: it portrayed a nonsensical universe where the social rules and conventions are disintegrated, the cause-effect relationship does not exist, and time and space have lost their function of giving an order to human experience.
The increase in the output of women writers in the Victorian Age is surprising considering the state of subjection of women at the time, but it is less so if one remembers that the majority of novelbuyers and readers were women. Middle-class women had more time to spend at home than men and could devote part of the day to reading. However, it was not easy to get published, and some women used a male pseudonym in order to see their work in print.
5.9 American Renaissance
- The term did not indicate the rebirth of something, but the beginning of a truly American literature, with themes and a style of its own.
- It could still be traced in the flourishing of symbols and emblems, as well as in the use of allegory that writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville widely employed in their works.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) led the Transcendental Club and expressed his philosophy, called ‘Transcendentalism’, in his essay Nature (1836). His ideas developed under various influences, including English Romanticism, German Idealism, political liberalism and eastern mysticism, which Emerson combined in a new, ‘American’ way.
- All reality was seen as a single unity (oneness and multiplicity were the same thing), a concept which well suited the reality of the ‘melting pot’, of a country where people from all over the world formed a national unity.
- Contact with nature was the best means to reach truth and awareness of the unity of all things. Emerson saw nature according to its ‘uses’: as a commodity, as a source of beauty and symbolic images, as discipline in educating man to understanding and reason.
- It was the spiritual principle linking everything together.
- Man was the emanation of the over-soul, and the emphasis lay on his individuality, on his selfeducation.
- Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson and Henry David Thoreau.
- He stated his belief in the individual’s right to resist the power and the laws of the State when they were in conflict with his own honest, moral convictions.
5.10 The late Victorian novel
- It mirrored a society linked to a growing crisis in the moral and religious fields.
- It influenced the structure and the organisation of the realistic novel, which started to follow an evolutionist pattern. Coincidences were fully exploited to solve the intricacies of the plot, and chance played a Darwinian role.
- They were Thomas Hardy and George Eliot. While Eliot focused on the psychological and moral complexity of human beings, Hardy presented strong individuals, the manifestations of the strong forces of nature to whom he opposed the strong social forces of history and human civilisation. Hardy’s protagonists are also defined by their native regions and, at the same time, painfully alienated by them.
- He represented the monstrous, illogical aspects of life and described the double nature of Victorian society
- Most of the action in the novel takes place at night and much of it in the poorer districts of London, considered the place of evil-doers. Most significantly, Mr Hyde enters and leaves Dr Jekyll’s house through the back door, which seems a metaphor for the evil that lies behind the beautiful façade of civilisation and refinement.
- They have become synonymous with multiple personality disorder
The most obvious influence of colonialism on Victorian literature can be found in the works of Rudyard Kipling. His novels and short stories are set in the distant lands colonised by Britain: it is the reality of colonialism which makes up the background where an adventurous narrative is made possible. Kipling exalted the British imperial power as a sacred duty in the poem The White Man’s Burden. Here he legitimised the belief that it was the task of the white man, and in particular of the British, to carry civilisation and progress to the savages.
5.11 Aestheticism and Decadence
- where and when the Aesthetic Movement began; It developed in the universities and intellectual circles in the last decades of the 19th cnetury. It began in France with Théophile Gautier.
- what it reflected and reacted against; It reflected the sense of frustration and uncertainty of the artist; his reaction against the materialism, monotony, vulgarity and restrictive moral code of the bourgeoisie; and his need to redefine the role of art.
- what its motto was; ‘Art for Art’s Sake’.
- how the aesthete lived; He lived unconventionally, pursuing sensation and excess, and cultivating art and beauty.
- what the roots of the movement were in England; It was imported there by the American painter James McNeill Whistler, but its roots can be traced back to the Romantic poet John Keats, the Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the art critic John Ruskin.
- who its main theorist was in England. Walter Pater.
- The message of his works was subversive and potentially demoralising; it appealed especially to the young.
- The only way to halt the passage of time was art.
- Life should be lived as a work of art, filling each passing moment with intense experience, feeling all kinds of sensations.
- The artist’s task was to feel sensations and to experience beauty.
- As a result, art did not have to be didactic.
- the artist’s attitude; It was hedonistic, sensuous, disenchanted with contemporary society and very much self centred.
- his choice of subjects; They were sensual and sometimes perverse.
- his use of language. It was evocative.
5.12 Victorian drama
The factors that can explain this situation are: the rise of the novel; the power of theatrical managers, who decided what plays might appeal to the audience and give financial returns; the presence of great actors and actresses whose virtuosity often turned very poor plays into great success; and the fact that the rich middle classes did not appreciate drama as a form of art.
- They were smaller and more comfortable than the ones built in the previous century, and the new methods of lighting the stage were capable of producing more realistic effects; therefore, actors were given the opportunity of developing a subtler style of performance.
- They were much longer and more detailed, and they served various purposes: they illustrated aspects of the characters’ personalities, they described in detail their actions or gestures and conveyed the author’s comments. The developments in stage techniques meant that theatre productions were far more complicated, and instructions were needed. When the electric lighting was introduced in theatres, it greatly affected how performances were staged; in fact, since then actors have performed in bright light in front of an audience hidden in the darkness. Thus the viewer’s experience has become individual rather than communal.
- What types of theatrical performances flourished? They were music hall, pantomime, farce, and melodrama with a sensational and romantic plot.
- They were Oscar Wilde, who wrote brilliant comedies whose main feature was dialogue full of humour and wit intended to expose the faults and hypocrisy of his age, and George Bernard Shaw, who considered drama as a vehicle for presenting his views on social institutions and human experience in a provocative way
- Because he encouraged writers to deal with social and personal problems, regardless of the strict Victorian censorship.
- Elizabethan drama
Playhouse: Permanent theatres were circular or octagonal. Within the outer walls there were three tiers of roofed galleries, looking down on the stage, and the yard, or ‘pit’, where the poorer spectators stood. The stage itself, technically known as an ‘apron stage’, projected into the yard, so that when the theatre was full, the players were surrounded on three sides. Over the stage the ‘shadow’ or thatched roof protected the players from the rain. In the front of the stage there was a trap door used for devilish apparitions and disappearances, and also for burials. The actors’ tiring house was presumably at the back of the stage. There were two doors for entrances and exits. Behind the stage there was an inner stage. There were also an upper stage hidden by a curtain and a balcony. In Shakespeare’s time, the actor came forward on the apron stage into the midst of his audience. Communication was therefore intimate and direct. Plays took place in daylight. Audiences were drawn from all social classes. Plot: Tragedy: serious play with a change in the hero’s fortunes from happiness to misery; comedy: it starts with an unhappy condition of the protagonist/s and ends happily. Characters: Tragedy: kings, princes and warriors; comedy: ordinary people generally belonging to the upper classes. Themes: Universal. Language: Tragedy: solemn and poetic; comedy: formal, witty, mainly in prose. Stage directions: Absence of any scenery effects. The stage relied on conventions using a limited number of props. For night scenes a simple candle or torch represented the night world. Shakespeare’s use of stage directions was very limited and the information they supplied was contained in the dialogue.
- Restoration drama Playhouse: Restoration theatres were roofed and artificially lit with candles. There were footlights, a drop curtain and painted movable scenery at the back of the stage for the most important scenes in a play. The audience sat in the dark in galleries, and on benches or even on boxes in the pit, which became now a very fashionable place to be seated. The audience belonged to the upper classes. Plot: Realistic picture of life. It often involved clever handling of situation and intrigue, but it was less important than atmosphere, dialogue and satire. Characters: A new type of male character was created: the ‘fop’, who was generally elegant, witty, but cynical, and opposed to the ‘gallant’, or ‘fortunate lover’. The heroine was witty and more interested in fashion than in morals. Themes: Pursuit of sex and money; marriage devoid of any feelings; vices and absurdities of an artificial, highly sophisticated society. Language: Witty, cynical and satirical. The use of prose dialogue, rather than rhymed verse, increased realism on the stage. Stage directions: Limited use.
- Victorian drama Playhouse: Victorian theatres were smaller than the ones built in the previous century and helped the appreciation both of tragedy and comedy; actors were given the opportunity of developing a subtler style of performance. In the second half of the Victorian era, various improvements made the theatres more comfortable and the new methods of lighting the stage were capable of producing more realistic effects. Actors acted in bright light in front of spectators hidden in darkness. Plot: The ingredients were often the same: virtuous heroines in danger, hard-hearted conspiring villains, and happy endings with the triumph of true love and the punishment of the villain. Characters: The types of theatrical performances which flourished at the time were music hall, pantomime, farce - a play intended to make the spectators laugh -, and melodrama with a sensational and romantic plot. Themes: The faults and hypocrisy of the age. Language: Humorous and witty. Stage directions: They were much longer and more detailed, and they served various purposes: they illustrated aspects of the characters’ personalities, they described in detail their actions or gestures, and conveyed the author’s comments.
5.13 Alfred Tennyson
- Born: In Somersby, Lincolnshire, in 1809
- Origin: The fourth son of the 12 children of a clergyman.
- Education: He was first educated at his father’s rectory, and then at Trinity College in Cambridge, which he left without completing a degree.
- Family problems: Epilepsy, a disease then thought to be brought on by sexual excess and therefore shameful.
- Literary career: In 1830 he published his first important collection of verse, Poems, Chiefly Lyrical, followed by another volume two years later; in 1850 he published his long autobiographical work, In Memoriam A.H.H., and he was made Poet Laureate. In 1884 he was given the title of Baron for his literary merits.
- Political life: He sat in the House of Lords and for some time he took himself seriously as a politician.
- Death: He died in 1892 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
|Key ideas||Supporting details|
|Works||dramatic monologues Morte d’Arthur presents King Arthur’s knights and their brotherhood destroyed by the absence of a true leader. In Memoriam is one of the finest elegies in English literature||the poet wonders about the existence of outstanding values in his own age, characterised by obsessive materialism and certainty, but he does not succeed in finding an answer. (are) complete poems about death and life; the element of unity is the grief of the poet for his friend’s death, that is, the regret for what is no more|
|Ulysses||Ulysses is an overreacher||who) follows knowledge at any cost, beyond the pillars of Hercules and into dangerous waters; while Ulysses stands for an active, adventurous life, rich in imagination, Telemachus, who embodies the typical Victorian man, stands for a more uneventful life, devoted to responsibilities and social duties|
|Style||Tennyson was a true Victorian||he felt the need for balance and regularity; he was a master of onomatopoeia and kennings, that is, pictorial descriptions of something that is not named directly|
|The spokesman of Victoria’s reign||Tennyson embodied the spirit of his age||he expressed the national pride and the love of order of the Victorians, the conventional sentimentality of the middle class, and the optimistic belief in the progress of mankind; he worried and doubted about God, nature, man, the meaning of life, and science; (he) looked for a compromise between science and religion and considered faith the result of a battle, always susceptible to doubts, and not a permanent possession; his idea of nature was that of a scientist|
- It presents King Arthur’s knights and their brotherhood destroyed by the absence of a true leader; the poet wonders about the existence of outstanding values in his own age, characterised by obsessive materialism and certainty, but he does not succeed in finding an answer.
- What are the main themes developed in the elegy In Memoriam? They are death and life, and the element of unity is the grief of the poet for his friend’s death, that is, the regret for what is no more.
- Ulysses is an overreacher because he follows knowledge at any cost, beyond the pillars of Hercules and into dangerous waters; he greatly appealed to Tennyson’s and Darwin’s age of ‘terrible muses’, as the poet himself called astronomy and geology.
- He was a master of onomatopoeia and kennings, that is, pictorial descriptions of something that is not named directly. These linguistic images differ from the old Anglo-Saxon ones, since they are longer, complex phrases and not mere compound nouns; they derive, however, from the same desire to secure dignity, richness and variety, and to slow down the pace of reading by making the reader stop and study them carefully.
- Because he expressed the national pride and the love of order of the Victorians, the conventional sentimentality of the middle class, and the optimistic belief in the progress of mankind. But like so many men of his time, he worried and doubted about God, nature, man, the meaning of life, and science.
- Dissatisfaction. Contempt.
- He is in Ithaca among ‘barren crags’.
- He feels a deep nostalgia.
- A His life has been moulded by his past experiences.
- His son Telemachus.
- B A rough people.
- He embodies the kind of policy in which Tennyson believed: the gradual civilisation of a ‘rugged people’.
- Ulysses has devoted himself to an active, adventurous life, rich in imagination; Telemachus, who embodies the typical Victorian man, has devoted himself to responsibilities and social duties and has led an uneventful life.
- His mariners.
- To leave with him on a sea voyage into the unknown.
- He still believes they can do great things since it is never too late to go in search of new lands and experiences (line 57).
- The time references are ‘ere the end’ (line 51), ‘The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks: / The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep / Moans round with many voices’ (lines 54-56), ‘the sunset’ (line 60). They point out Ulysses’s awareness of his approaching death.
- B A desire for a life of action, courage and determination.
- B The poet’s doubts about man’s role and his destiny after death.
- Because the optimism linked to intellectual progress is never separated from the melancholic awareness of mortality.
- Tick the features of the dramatic monologue in this poem.
- It is a narrative poem.
- The first singular person ‘I’ is different from the poet himself.
- The speaker is caught in a crucial moment of crisis.
- Great interest in human psychology.
- The use of pronouns, verbs and expressions referring to a non-speaking listener
- Setting: A room where the two characters meet at night.
- Characters: Porphyria and her lover, by whom she is killed. T
- heme: A case of lucid insanity.
- Setting: Next to the port of Ithaca.
- Characters: Ulysses, who represents a romantic, past world, and Telemachus, who stands for the Victorian rational world.
- Theme: The desire for a life of action, courage and determination.
5.14 Charles Dickens
- Born: In Portsmouth, on the southern coast of England, in 1812.
- Childhood: He had an unhappy childhood. His father was imprisoned for debt and 12-year-old Charles was put to work in a factory.
- Education: He attended a school in London; at 15 he studied shorthand at night.
- Beginning of literary career: In 1833 his first story appeared and in 1836, still a newspaper reporter, he adopted the pen name ‘Boz’, publishing Sketches by ‘Boz’, a collection of articles and tales describing London’s people and scenes, written for the periodical Monthly Magazine. It was immediately followed by The Pickwick Papers, which revealed Dickens’s humoristic and satirical qualities.
- Works: Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, American Notes, A Christmas Carol, Martin Chuzzlewit, David Copperfield, Little Dorrit, Bleak House, Hard Times, Great Expectations.
- Political ideas: Although he was a republican, he took strongly against the United States when he visited the country in 1842. He advocated the abolition of slavery.
- Reputation: He wrote several enormously successful Christmas books. By the time of his death, he had drawn adoring crowds to his public appearances in England, Scotland and Ireland; he had met princes and presidents and had amassed a fortune.
- He created caricatures by exaggerating and ridiculing freely - though without sarcasm - the social peculiarities, vanity and ambition of theLondon middle and lower classes. He shifted the social frontiers of the novel: the 18th-century realistic, upper-middle-class world was replaced by the one of the lower orders. He was always on the side of the poor, the outcast and the working class. Children are often the most important characters in his novels. By giving instances of good, wise children and worthless parents or hypocritical adults he illustrates in fiction the reverse of the natural order of things: children become the moral teachers instead of the taught.
- Dickens had a didactic aim as he wanted to make the ruling classes aware of the social problems without offending his middle-class readers. He aimed at making the wealthier classes acquire knowledge about their poorer neighbours, of whom they previously knew little or nothing.
- What were the most important features of his style? He employed the most effective language and accomplished the most graphic and powerful descriptions of life and character ever attempted by any novelist. He did so with his careful choice of adjectives, repetitions of words and structures, juxtapositions of images and ideas, hyperbolic and ironic remarks.
- They were the Bible, fairy tales, fables and nursery rhymes, the 18th-century novelists and essayists, and Gothic novels.
- London was the setting of most of his novels: he always seemed to have something new to say about it and showed an intimate knowledge of it.
- Dickens created middle-class characters that he satirised freely. He gradually developed a more radical social view, although he did not become a revolutionary thinker. He was aware of the spiritual and material corruption caused by industrialism and became increasingly critical towards his society. In his mature works he succeeded in drawing popular attention to public abuses, evils and wrongs by mingling terrible descriptions of London misery and crime with the most amusing sketches of metropolitan life.
- brought up
- run away
- It fictionalises the economic insecurity and humiliation Dickens experienced when he was a child;
- He is brought up in a workhouse in an inhuman way.
- He is eventually kidnapped by a gang of young pickpockets and forced to commit burglary; during the job he is shot and wounded.
- Mr Brownlow, a middle-class man who shows kindness and affection towards him.
- It is discovered that Oliver has noble origins. In the end the gang of pickpockets and Oliver’s half-brother, who paid the thieves in order to ruin Oliver and have their father’s property all for himself, are arrested.
- The most important setting of the novel is London, which is depicted at three different social levels: the parochial world of the workhouse, the criminal world and, finally, the world of the Victorian middle class.
- They were run by parishes and built all over England to give relief to the poor. However, the conditions prevailing in the workhouses were appalling and they did not provide any means for social or economic advances.
- He criticised the fact that instead of alleviating the sufferings of the poor, the officials who ran workhouses abused their rights as individuals and caused them further misery.
T59 The workhouse
- Decide which paragraphs make up the following parts of the story-pattern.
- Oliver completed nine years in the workhouse. Fourth paragraph.
- Religious authorities did not effectively control the way children were treated. Third paragraph.
- Oliver was looked after by an elderly woman in the workhouse. First paragraph.
- The conditions in the branch-workhouse were really miserable. Second paragraph.
- Underline words and phrases used to describe Oliver and the children.
- Oliver: ‘the victim of a systematic course of treachery and deception. He was brought up by hand. The hungry and destitute situation of the infant orphan’ (lines 1-3); ‘a pale thin child, somewhat diminutive in stature, and decidedly small in circumference’ (lines 46-47); ‘a good sturdy spirit’ (line 48). The children: ‘juvenile offenders’ (line 10); ‘culprits’ (line 12); ‘miserable little being’ (line 31); ‘young gentlemen’ (line 52).
- What images of childhood emerge from this description?
- A The image of innocent childhood.
- C These children have become puppets in the hands of adults.
- What are the functions of this description?
- A To build up a realistic picture of the scene.
- C To make the reader side with the poor children.
- What is the relationship between the parish authorities and the workhouse ones?
- B check the situation with only apparent thoroughness.
- D let the workhouse authorities exploit the children.
- Dickens makes fun of the most distinguishing features of the characters by exaggerating a particular element or using absurd analogies.
- Go through the text and underline with different colours any exaggerations and absurd elements linked to the world of the children and to that of the adults. The world of the children: ‘juvenile offenders’ (line 10); ‘culprits’ (line 12); ‘a parish child … in the farm’ (lines 33-36). The world of the adults: ‘The elderly female … to her own use’ (lines 15-18); ‘Everybody knows … her system’ (lines 21-27).
- What feelings characterise the two worlds? Choose from among the following. Fear, submission and starvation characterise the world of the children. Power and lack of humanity characterise the world of the adults.
- The narrator is a voice outside the novel. The children’s point of view is mainly employed. The narrator feels pity for the boys, showing an ironical dislike for the adults’ world (lines 6-15, 25-27, 36-46).
- Here are some linguistic devices used by Dickens in his novels. Provide examples of their use in this passage.
- He repeats the same word(s) and sentence structure. ‘sevenpencehalfpenny’ (lines 12-14).
- He expresses the same concept more than once using different words. The exploitation of children is described in the 1st and 2nd paragraphs using different words.
- He makes a list of details, not always necessary. The parable of the experimental philosopher (lines 21-25).
- He uses contrasting images. The children’s world / the adults’ world, submission / power.
- Dickens attacked the contemporary workhouses run by parishes; they had been created to give relief to the poor, but they really exploited them and made them live in appalling conditions.
- looked after
During the first decades of the 19th century, children were forced to work in factories under harsh circumstances for eight/twelve hours a day, six days a week. Children and orphans generally worked for food and accommodation and did not work for wages. They worked inside a workhouse and had to follow its strict rules. They were also sold to new employers for money. The practice of selling children and the issue of their poor miserable condition can be found in Oliver Twist. Oliver disobeyed the rules of the workhouse in which he lived when he asked for more food. A bill was pasted outside the gate offering a reward of five pounds to anybody who would take Oliver. The upper class used to exploit not only the child labourers, but the poor in general. The government had all the power, while the poor orphans and the other children had none. This was an ideal situation for the wealthy, as they had complete control of the lower social classes and of the labour market.
T60 Olvier wants some more
- Part 1(lines 1-19) The setting and the description of the boys’ hunger.
- Part 2(lines 20-32) The main event: Oliver asks for more food.
- Part 3(lines 33-48) The consequences of Oliver’s request.
- Green words: description of the room
- Highlighted in yellow: visual details linked to the boys’ conditions and their hunger
- Red dots: exaggerations and absurd elements linked to the world of the boys
- Highlighted in light blue: exaggerations and absurd elements linked to the master, the assistants, Mr Bumble and the board
- Underlined in blue: the word ‘more’ is repeated seven times in this extract What does this word refer to? It refers to food.
- Highlighted in green: description of the dinner at the workhouse which recalls a ritual
- They create a sacred atmosphere.
- It is developed through dialogue, description and narration.
- The description is detailed. It arouses pity in the reader, since it builds up a realistic picture of the scene and makes the reader side with the poor boys.
- The narration compares the world of the boys with that of the institutions. The dialogues increase the reader’s interest in the scene.
- They are: the boys’ world / the adults’ world, the poor / the rich, starvation / fatness, submission / power
- ask for;
From Text to Screen: Oliver Twist
- It takes place in a large, dark room.
- A dim light, everything seems to be greyish.
- What have some of them just done? They are looking at Oliver. Some of them have just finished their supper.
- They are sad and still very hungry.
- They are wearing a ragged grey uniform.
- He rises from the table, goes to the master and asks for more food with a faint voice.
- It communicates desperation, fear.
- He is astonished; he hits Oliver with his stick and runs after him.
- He decides to inform the beadle.
- The beadle is a healthy and fat man.
- All the men at the table are surprised at the sight of the master.
- The table is full of every kind of food.
- These men are wearing rich clothes.
- The room is richly furnished and lit by the warm light of the candles.
- The man in the uniform declares that Oliver Twist has asked for more.
- The beadle repeats Oliver’s request disdainfully.
- One of the assembled men decides Oliver’s future destiny
- The main antithesis is linked to the semantic areas of the world of the adults - lack of humanity, fatness, wealth, power - and that of the children - fear, starvation, poverty, submission.
- the camera moves from right to left; At the beginning of the sequence when there is a pan of the room where the children are having supper.
- the camera follows the movements of the characters; The camera follows Oliver’s approach to the master and, in the second part, the master’s progression to the beadle’s dining room.
- the camera is fixed. When Oliver asks his master for more supper and, in the second part, when the beadle talks to the man in the uniform.
- High angles shot. It shows Oliver’s determination and emphasises the power of the master.
- Low-angle shot. It highlights the distance between the master, an adult, and Oliver, a child.
- Close-up on Oliver. It points out his courage and determination.
It is miserable, linked to the boys’ condition.
It is a sinister music, which increases the overall sense of sadness and desolation.
- It is set in an imaginary industrial town named Coketown, which is a sort of brick jungle where all the buildings are the same and which seems to be some kind of magical but hellish land.
- They are Thomas Gradgrind, an educator who believes in facts and statistics; his two children, Louisa and Tom; and Josiah Bounderby, a rich banker of the city.
- It is divided into three sections, or books, and each book is divided into separate chapters. Book One, ‘Sowing’, shows us the seeds planted by the Gradgrind/Bounderby education: Louisa, Tom and Stephen Blackpool. Book Two, ‘Reaping’, reveals the harvesting of these seeds: Louisa’s unhappy marriage, Tom’s selfishness and criminal ways, Stephen’s rejection from Coketown. Book Three, ‘Garnering’, is linked to a dominant symbol - instability - which is no longer the solid ‘ground’ upon which Mr Gradgrind’s system once stood.
- They embody the belief that human nature can be measured, quantified and governed entirely by reason, and that children should be taught through facts without compassion and imagination. As Mr Gradgrind tries to turn children into little machines, Mr Bounderby treats the workers in his factory as emotionless objects that are easily exploited for his own self-interest.
- It focuses on the difference between the rich and the poor at Dickens’s time, between factory owners and workers, who were forced to work long hours for low pay in dirty, loud and dangerous factories.
- It denounces the gap between the rich and the poor and criticises the materialism and narrow-mindedness of Utilitarianism, which was the basic Victorian attitude to economics.
T61 Mr Gradgrind
- Part 1(lines 1-8) Presentation of the speaker’s ideas.
- Part 2(lines 9-29) The speaker’s physical description.
- Part 3(lines 30-34) The three men’s interest.
- Highlighted in yellow: the speaker’s physical appearance
- Highlighted in green: his voice
- Highlighted in pink: his clothes Which overall impression do these details create? They create an overall impression of a threatening, unattractive person.
- Red dots: words and phrases belonging to the semantic area of ‘farming’ Who uses these words? What are they related to? The speaker uses these words. They are related to Mr Gradgrind’s intention to ‘cultivate’ his children.
- Underlined in blue: words belonging to the semantic area of geometry
- Underlined in green: words and phrases belonging to the semantic area of regularity and monotony
- Pink words: repetition of the same word What does it underline? It underlines the speaker’s concept of education, which must be abstract and rigid.
- His rigidity, his narrowmindedness and his being extremely concrete and fact-oriented.
- They create a caricature of the speaker.
- Education must be linked to ‘Facts’ and must not leave any space for creativity.
- The imperative.
- to sow
- be set off
It was ‘a town of red brick’, full of machinery and tall chimneys. It had a canal and a river, ‘vast piles of building full of windows’. It contained several large streets that were ‘all very like one another, and many small streets still more like one another, inhabited by people equally like one another’ who had a monotonous life.
The colours used to describe the town are red and black (bricks), black and purple (water), black and white (writing on notices). Not gold, which is mentioned in line 38as a noun but not as a colour adjective. The words referring to smell and sound are ‘ill-smelling’ (line 8), ‘rattling’ and ‘trembling’ (line 9), and ‘the same sound’ (line 13).
The two words are ‘comforts’ (line 17) and ‘elegancies’ (line 18). Dickens shows the hypocrisy of the ‘fine lady’ who enjoys these things but despises the place where they are made, and describes the town and its people negatively, which is the total opposite of anything elegant or comfortable.
‘To choke’ means to stop breathing because something is blocking your throat. Dickens’s joke is that the school gives the children so many unnecessary facts that it ‘chokes’ them - not only do they not learn anything useful, but that experience actually damages them. This is an example of the writer’s satire.
- There were eighteen different churches. Everybody in Coketown, except the labouring people, attended the Sunday services.
- The other (middle-class) residents of Coketown wished to force the workers to go to church by ‘indignantly petitioning for acts of parliament’.
- They ‘lounged’ in the streets, watching the church-goers, showing no interest or concern.
- They showed that these people were used to getting drunk.
- They provided evidence of opium addiction and attendance of ill-reputed places.
At Dickens’s time it was well known that the poor lived on weak tea (which was cheap, while coffee was expensive) and bread with little or no protein, certainly not butter or good meat. The words which exaggerate the diet of the poor are ‘the best’ (line 66), ‘fresh butter’ (line 67), as poor people in towns never got really fresh agricultural products, ‘insisted on Mocha coffee’ and ‘prime parts of meat’ (line 67), as the poor rarely ate meat and never the ‘prime’ parts.
Third-person omniscient narrator. He is obtrusive since he openly intervenes in the narration (lines 35-40, 63-64).
Fact’, which stresses the value of factual, practical knowledge.
- similes; Lines 5-6, 10-11. The red brick stained with black (of the soot from the coal-burning steam engines which powered the factories) is likened to the ‘painted face of a savage’ (line 6); this image is negative, describing something alien and frightening. The elephant image (lines 10-11) is difficult and will be helped with a diagram of a beam engine - it was very large and swung up and down pulling and pushing pistons - thus seeming to be an enormous animal with a long trunk, but performing a movement which was unnatural, hence melancholy and mad.
- metaphor. Line 7. The serpent is the coils of smoke from the chimneys of the factories; once again the image is negative and suggests something animate and evil (it goes on forever, therefore never dies) rather than the product of machinery.
- All three images are negative; they are animate images describing an inanimate process - and can also be described as unnatural nature. The process of industrialisation is therefore criticised.
Repeated words: ‘fact’ (lines 1, 30-33, 36), ‘like’ (lines 5, 10, 12-13, 26, 38), ‘same’ (lines 13-14, 49, 54, 64), ‘anything’ (line 29), ‘everywhere’ (lines 30-31). Repeated phrases: ‘like one another’ (lines 12-13), ‘tabular statements’ (lines 49, 52-54, 62). Repeated syntax: ‘it was a town’ (lines 4-6), ‘might have been’ (lines 27-28), ‘Then, came’ (lines 48, 51, 53, 59). Monotony. Alienation. Everything in Coketown seems monotonous and repetitive. People seem dehumanised beings, the parts of machinery which are always repeating the same actions.
He repeats the word ‘fact’ and shows that it is applied to both the material and the immaterial, in other words that the ‘immaterial’ (the spiritual, emotional) side of life in Coketown is non-existent. He even say quite clearly that nothing is considered important unless it can be ‘purchaseable’ (bought) or ‘saleable’ (sold). He further underlines this by making it sound like a religious truth, using the phrase ‘world without end, Amen’ (line 35). In addition, he uses the repetition of ‘would’ inferring the inevitability of the workers’ bad habits, and the phrase ‘tabular statements’ to refer to the statistics which the various pressure groups presented in order to justify their own attitude to the workers as drunkards or drug takers. Statistics can always be used to advantage and Dickens satirises them by making them ‘statements’, as if they were facts. Finally, Dickens has Mr Gradgrind and Mr Bounderby speak as if to other ‘gentlemen’ like themselves - repeating this word, showing that they are talking about the working classes as if they were a worthless race apart.
Across Cultures: Work and alienation
- The building of the first factories brought alterations in the interaction between the individual and his work.
- They brought a sense of alienation because, unlike the countryside, they became overcrowded, busy and grimy centres where people lived on the brink of starvation and disease.
- The writer who best described the social problems of the new industrialisation was Charles Dickens, in particular with his work Hard Times.
- Which philosophers influenced the literature of the time? The philosophers who influenced the literature of the time were the French Auguste Comte and the German Karl Marx.
- The philosophy that grew up as a reaction to the irrationality of Romanticism was Positivism. This school of thought brought about a renewed faith in reason and science, a deterministic conception of human life, the application of the experimental method to new fields and the foundations of new disciplines, such as biology and psychology
- Factory work was more intense than agricultural work because it was regulated by the expensive machinery and the employers’ determination to keep the machines working, while agricultural work was regulated by the weather, which allowed labourers some respite.
- Philosophy (Germany):
- Literature (France):
- Literature (Italy):
- lower classes
5.15 The Brontë sisters
- Family members: Charlotte, Emily and Anne had a brother, Branwell, and were the daughters of an Anglican clergyman of Irish origin.
- Father’s role: He influenced their artistic inclinations.
- Education: They did not receive a formal education. Apart from brief periods at school, they were mainly self-educated, reading widely from their father’s library and drawing inspiration from the local public library or from periodicals.
- Beginning of literary career: They began to write chronicles of imaginary countries and, in 1846, they published a volume of poetry, Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, using pseudonyms.
- Works: Wuthering Heights (Emily), Agnes Grey (Anne), Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette (Charlotte).
- Death: Emily and Anne died very young of consumption: Emily in 1848 and Anne in 1849; Charlotte died in 1855 probably of an illness due to pregnacy
- Set in the early decades of the 19th century, the novel is structured around five separate locations probably in northern England: Gateshead, Lowood School, Thornfield, the Moor House and Ferndean.
- Gateshead (which stands for ‘gateway’) is the place of her childhood, where she spends her unhappiest moments but also reaches her ethical awakening with her imprisonment in the red room. ‘Lowood’ means ‘low wood’ because the school was built in a low valley beside a wood, but also because it coincides with a ‘low’ time in Jane’s life. Thornfield is an allegorical name: a ‘field of thorns’, the place of mystery and temptation, of independence and young love. Moor House is ‘out on the moors’, in the wilderness, the place where Jane tries to give a sense to her life again; it is the place of temporary banishment. Ferndean, or ‘fern hill’, is Mr Rochester’s rural mansion, the new Eden where Jane finds mature love.
- She is moderately plain but she can also be intense, imaginative, passionate, rebellious and independent, yet always looking for warmth and affection. She undergoes many struggles such as the conflicts between spirit and flesh, duty and desire, denial and fulfilment.
- He has the quality of a ‘Byronic hero’, but the stereotyped seducer becomes a kind of lost nobleman of passion who is attracted to Jane’s soul and personality rather than to her physical appearance.
- The themes of childhood and education; of autonomy and economic independence; of marriage as a relationship between equals, not as a social compromise; of the strict Victorian social class system and gender relationships, which Charlotte Brontë clearly criticises.
- In the first person, through Jane’s point of view.
- It is straightforward and develops differently according to the style and mood of each character. It is used emotionally by the author and is rich in motifs, symbols and images which are repeated throughout the novel.
- It is the voice of a woman who speaks with perfect frankness about herself. The novel described passionate love from a woman’s standpoint in a way that shocked many readers.
T63 Women feel just as men feel
- longed for
- At Thornfield Hall.
- B Inhabitants.
- Mrs Fairfax She is the housekeeper at Thornfield; she is a ‘placid-tempered, kindnatured woman’ (line 3). Adele She is Jane’s pupil; she is a ‘lively child’ (line 4), who had been spoilt but became ‘obedient and teachable’ (lines 7-8).
- C To extend her power of vision.
- People would define her ‘discontented’ (line 33). She defines herself as restless (line 34).
- Because they need action, and they will create it if they cannot find it.
- It means that a lot of women do not accept their destiny passively, although they do not protest loudly.
- They have the same feelings, they need to exercise their faculties and find a field for their efforts, they suffer restriction and stagnation.
- A Closed to new ideas.
- Jane’s point of view.
- B focusing on a retrospective unterstanding of the events.
- B her thoughts and actions.
T64 Jane and Rochester
- cast a glance
- gave an involuntary sigh
- No, she did not accept because she could not live without self-respect.
- She held on to her principles, to her integrity.
- They were for the times when one had to resist temptation, when body and soul rebelled against them.
- She described herself as mad, as insane because fire ran in her veins and her heart beat fast.
- He was furious, he seized Jane’s arm and grasped her waist.
- She felt weak and exhausted but she was still in control of her soul.
- He wanted her spirit - ‘with will and energy, and virtue and purity’ -, not merely her body.
- She left Mr Rochester because she did not want to give in, but could not stand his sorrow.
Lines 1-2, 10, 12-17, 19-21, 29-32, 48-49, 56.
Mr Rochester utters a sort of monologue where he speaks of Jane in the third person, as if she were not present and he were speaking to an audience.
Mr Rochester is moody and restless. In the text he is connoted by anger (lines 19-20, 23-25, 33, 49), physical strength (lines 33-34), passion (lines 44-46) and despair (lines 54-55, 60-62). John Milton’s Satan (→ 2.13) and the Byronic hero (→ 4.13) are probably his most illustrious antecedents, and offer useful parallels.
He seems to desire more from the character of the woman he wants to love than from her physical appearance. Mr Rochester’s actions reinforce Jane’s belief that mental beauty surpasses physical beauty. He seeks a woman with inner splendour, and sees something special in Jane which attracts him much more than anything visible to the eye. She holds something unique and special deep in her soul and personality, hidden from the outside.
- How would you define her attitude to Mr Rochester? She seems to care for him a great deal and her behaviour at the end shows that she is truly in love with him.
- Trace the sequence of Jane’s feelings and reactions. Where is the climax in this passage? At first, Jane feels physically powerless (lines 25-26) but in control of her soul and dignity (lines 27-29); then, she defies Mr Rochester by looking into his eyes (line 32) even if she feels exhausted (lines 33-34); later on, she walks to the door (line 65) but turns back, kisses him and blesses him (lines 66-69). However, when he tries to embrace her, she avoids the contact (line 73). The climax is in lines 65-74.
- Describe Jane’s personality. Choose from the following adjectives. Passionate, analytical, selfrevealing, determined, sensitive.
The first two paragraphs deal with the tension between reason and passion which is a theme running throughout the novel. Charlotte’s work skilfully reveals much of the condition concerning women during the Victorian Age. Jane has the qualities of endurance, valour and vitality, yet she has refused self-contentment by the confined society in which she lives. She oscillates between duty and desire, denial and fulfilment. She is presented as a free spirit struggling for recognition and self-respect in the face of rejection by a class-ridden and moneyoriented society. This explains why she finally leaves Mr Rochester.
Charlotte felt deeply about the oppressed status of women at the time, especially women endowed with intelligence but devoid of fortune or looks, like herself. She made their predicament her own when she chose to write a novel about a governess with a mind infinitely superior to her employer’s. The text develops the theme of spiritual equality regardless of social rank; though not a new theme, it is asserted with an unusual force in this novel, leading some readers to see Jane (and her creator) in feminist terms and as opposed to the strict Victorian social class system. Jane’s aggressively independent nature certainly seemed unwomanly (and un-Christian) to some of Charlotte’s contemporaries. This text also brings to a climax the theme of moral conflict through Jane’s struggles between passion and principle, flesh and spirit. Jane certainly comes of age in Charlotte’s classic education novel. At the beginning Jane is a lonely, dependent orphan girl, but she battles the constraints of her harsh upbringing and becomes educated, not only intellectually, but also socially and spiritually. She develops into a strong, confident and independent woman, who neither has to give up her spiritual beliefs nor her human desire for love to be genuinely happy. She becomes the epitome of the modern woman, as she manages a perfect balance between the spiritual and the physical, which is what she really wanted in life.
- Wuthering Heights is severe and gloomy, firmly rooted in local tradition and custom; it is the appropriate background for the life of unrestrained and primitive passion led by its owner, Heathcliff. Thrushcross Grange, the home of the bourgeois Lintons, reflects their conception of life, based on stability, kindness and respectability. So the two mansions stand for two opposing forces: the principle of storm and energy on the one hand, and the principle of calm and settled assurance on the other. Though opposed, they are complementary and ideally tend to unity.
- Heathcliff is described as a sort of ‘Byronic hero’, moved by irresistible passion, doomed to the despair of a solitary life and finally tending to a total identity with his love, Catherine. He also appears as a Gothic villain in his inhuman treatment of his wife and even his son. Catherine is driven partly by her social ambitions, which finally lead her to marry Edgar, but she is also prompted to violate social conventions. She embodies a wild and Romantic nature.
- It explores basic human emotions, such as love and hatred, which are presented in a state of purity and concentration. The spirit of Romanticism and its concern with the human soul are still present in the correspondence between the violent passions of the characters and the wild natural landscape.
- It is not an end, but a liberation of the spirit.
- They are the sinister atmosphere of Wuthering Heights - surrounded by the wilderness -, Catherine’s ghost, and the dreams and superstitions often mentioned.They are not used to frighten the reader, but to convey the struggle between the two opposed principles of love and hate, of order and chaos.
- The narrative mode is a system of Chinese boxes, a ‘concentric’ system of narratives. There are two major narrators, male and female, outsider (Mr Lockwood) and insider (Nelly Dean). Other characters occasionally narrate to Nelly
- The narration does not proceed according to chronological time; it starts almost at the end of the story and develops a narrative within the narrative, including the use of flashbacks. This complex structure creates a sense of verisimilitude and, at the same time, a feeling of suspense. There are moments of intense poetry and mysticism, which are balanced by the concreteness and common sense of Nelly’s language.
- It marked a departure from the observation of society towards the description of the individual personality, and anticipated the novelists of the early 20th century in narrative technique.
- These spaces are at once attractive and threatening to them.
- It holds them in constant dialogue, thanks to the interaction of binary oppositions, until culture finally tames nature in the children of the second generation.
T65 Catherine’s ghost
- owing to
- The oak closet.The moor.
- B decided.
- Complete the sentences about Lockwood.
- When he streched his arm out of the window, he touched a little, ice-cold hand.
- He could not draw his arm back because the hand clung on to it.
- A voice asked to be let in.
- He could see the face of a child through the window.
- He pulled its wrist until it began to bleed.
- He piled some books against the hole in the window.
- Intense horror, terror, fear.
- Catherine Linton.
- Lockwood thinks he has been listening to her cries for 15 minutes (‘a quarter of an hour’, line 21). Catherine says she has been waiting for 20 years (line 24).
- Decide whether the following statements about the text are true or false.
- He says he has read it scratched on the windowsill.
- A the first person.
The passage from Emily’s Wuthering Heights and the Gothic tradition share several elements, such as the setting in time and place, the atmosphere of gloom and mystery, the exaggerated reactions, the presence of supernatural elements, the dark and melancholy hero. However, these Gothic conventions are not used by the writer for their own sake, as a sensational contemplation of ‘taboo’ subjects, but to express and describe extreme, peculiar states of mind and feelings, to convey the struggle between the two opposed principles of love and hate, of order and chaos.
T66 I am Heathcliff
- Catherine explains the reasons why she has decided to marry Edgar Linton.
- Catherine’s dream.
- Nelly is aware of Heathcliff’s presence but Catherine is not.
- Catherine’s love for Heathcliff.
- Highlighted in pink: words and phrases referring to Catherine’s behaviour and reactions; they denote a highly sensitive and emotional nature
- Highlighted in light blue: Nelly’s attitude is very rational and pragmatic: she encourages Catherine to consider things in a rational way and to reflect on the reasons of her choice. Nelly thinks the ‘worst motive’ is to marry Edgar in order to use his money and position to help Heathcliff (Heathcliff will resent it and so will Edgar), it is naive of Catherine to think that it would work
- Pink words: Catherine lists her reasons for marrying Edgar. At first they sound like the conventional motivations of a young girl: because he is handsome, nice, young, rich and respectable. Lines 24-26 sound ironic, as if Emily Brontë were mocking the sentimental heroines of previous literature. However, as Catherine goes on speaking, the reader realises her real motivations: she is concerned with Heathcliff’s recent condition of servitude due to her brother’s treatment of him. By marrying Edgar and acquiring a higher social status, she might help Heathcliff to improve his condition
- Highlighted in yellow: words referring to Edgar Linton: their connotation is cold
- Highlighted in green: words referring to Heathcliff: their connotation is heat and passion
- Green dots: similes used by Catherine to describe her love for the two men. Her love for Edgar will change with time, just as the trees and leaves change from one season to another. Her love for Heathcliff is eternal, like the ‘rocks beneath’ which are of little visible delight but necessary.
- The narrator is Nelly Dean, the housekeeper. No, it does not; there is a shift into the present tense in line 73 (‘I was superstitious about dreams then, and am still’).
- For Cathy dreams are ‘like wine through water’ (line 62), they alter the colour of her mind, they change her ideas and stay with her. Nelly is superstitious about dreams and fearful of what they may foresee.
- She is in heaven but she feels unhappy and cries, so the angels fling her back to the earth, on top of Wuthering Heights, where she wakes up sobbing for joy.
- She feels that she is a part of Heathcliff and feels his pains as he does. She thinks that if he did not exist, then she would not be the same person.
- Just before Catherine unforgettably identifies herself with Heathcliff (‘I am Heathcliff’, line 134), her own words have driven this ‘other self’ away (‘He had listened till he heard Catherine say it would degrade her to marry him’, line 96). The climactic moment of supreme dedication and poetic grandeur therefore marks a void. As in Greek and Shakespearean tragedies, every sublime claim Catherine utters predicts her doom: ‘He quite deserted! we separated!’ (line 111), ‘Who is to separate us, pray? They’ll meet the fate of Milo!’ (lines 111-112). At this moment Heathcliff has understood himself to be deserted; the two are separated, and the transgressor who will ‘meet the fate of Milo’ is Catherine herself.
- It seems to have nothing to do with sexual attraction and physical desire. Their relationship is one of the soul, it is as eternal as ‘the rocks beneath’ because it transcends time and material existence (lines 132-135). It is concerned with a breaking through beyond the self, metaphysical and impersonal (lines 125-127).
- Its nature is somewhat religious, not only in its mysticism, but also in the awareness of the incompleteness of all the elements that make up human nature. In Catherine and Heathcliff the desire to lose the self in otherness is pure, and opens up the prospect of disintegration into death, that is, into anonymous natural energy.
- Consider Cathy’s conflict between a condition which offers few advantages and a socially acceptable one. Would you define her as a Victorian girl? Her love for Heathcliff offers her no material advantage. She feels the pressure of social conventions and wants to improve her social position. In this respect she is a Victorian woman, even though her character is Romantic.
- is listening
- marriage proposal
- has degraded
- leaves the room
- to desert
T67 Heathcliff ’s despair
- F He was leaning against a tree and had been standing in that position for a long time
- F He could not manage to control his emotions and fought against his inner agony
- F He asked Nelly whether Catherine had mentioned his name and was afraid of what Nelly might reply
- F He had a violent reaction and tried to hurt himself by dashing his head against the trunk of a tree.
- F She gave up any attempt when he ordered her to go away
Nelly Dean.Lines 1-2, 11-14, 25-27, 47-48, 50. Rational and resigned.
- Consider his name, which is made up of two words: ‘heath’ and ‘cliff’.
- Heath: Denotation: An area of open land where rough grass and heather grow, but where there are few trees and bushes. Connotation: Wild character and love of freedom.
- Cliff: Denotation: A high area of rock with a steep side, especially at the edge of the sea. Connotation: Strength, loneliness, danger.
- To Nelly and Catherine.
- To a piece of timber (line 7), a wild beast (lines 44-45), a thunder (line 49).
- His fierceness, determination and wildness.
To a lamb (line 28). An abyss where he cannot find her, who is his own life and soul (lines 42-43).
Suggestion: Students should underline the exploration of human passions; the link between the characters and nature; the themes of love and death; Heathcliff’s passionate and wild behaviour, very much like that of a ‘Byronic hero’; the belief in ghosts; the bloody details; the transgression of social conventions and moral codes.
Suggestion: Yes, they are similar to Blake’s complementary opposites (see Blake’s The Lamb and The Tyger): the principle of storm and energy and that of calm and settled assurance are opposed but complementary, and they ideally tend to unity.
5.16 Lewis Carroll
- It was an intensely happy one, described as a true ‘wonderland’ by the writer himself.
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass (1871).
- Critics have often spoken of a dual nature in connection with the pedantic personality of the mathematician Dodgson and the delightful one of the writer Carroll, since poetry and logic were to him linked rather than opposed. Others have said that he had ‘the brain of a clever and abnormal man with the heart of a normal child’.
- He created a ‘nonsensical world’, where the principles that govern the common social and moral universe are questioned and carried to their logical extremes. He showed the inevitable absurdity of the world.
- White Rabbit
- wakes up
- It describes Alice’s adventures with the characters she meets in Wonderland during a dream.
- The main setting of the novel is Wonderland, a strange and apparently crazy world, which Alice explores while sleeping and dreaming. She enters this world by following a strange rabbit and falling into its hole. The story also takes place in the ‘real’ world: in fact, Alice starts her adventures by dreaming while sitting next to her sister.
- The main themes of the novel are growing up and the child’s struggle to survive in the adults’ world. When entering Wonderland, Alice gets to know a way of living and reasoning that is quite different from her own. During this journey she starts to understand the creatures that live here. In the end she loses most of her childish imagination: she has grown up and she cannot stay in Wonderland, the world of the children, any longer. The theme of identity is linked to that of growing up. In Wonderland, Alice is constantly ordered to identify herself by the creatures she meets, but she herself has doubts about her identity, raised by her physical appearance: she grows and shrinks several times, which she finds ‘very confusing’.
- The story is carried forward through a series of puns and subtleties of typography, like spacing, odd usage of parentheses and capital letters, italics, margins and bindings. It also incorporates poetic language, in the form of parodies of nursery rhymes and songs. The resulting text is a harmonious whole.
- Alice’s character was inspired by and dedicated to Alice Liddell, the daughter of a friend of Lewis Carroll’s.
T68 A mad tea party
- bawled out
- Under a tree in front of the March Hare’s house (line 1).
- Who is sitting at the table at the beginning?
- A The March Hare.
- C The Hatter.
- D The Dormouse.
- No, she is not (lines 5-6, 13).
- C The day of the month.
- By asking riddles that have no answers (lines 57-62).
- C Time.
- The Queen of Hearts (line 80).
- The Hatter (lines 91-92).
- No, it does not (lines 94-95).
- They keep moving around the table to a new set of places. They have transferred time movement to space (lines 96-101).
- The narrator is a voice outside the story. The point of view coincides with Alice’s.
- B It causes the reader’s identification with Alice.
- Underline with different colours the words uttered by the March Hare, the Hatter, the Dormouse and Alice. Student’s activity.
- They belong to a nonsensical world.
- The fact that time has been stopped, and now it is always six o’clock.
- Surrealistic and absurd.
- ‘[I] say what [I] mean’ / ‘I mean what I say’, ‘I see what I eat’ / ‘I eat what I see’, ‘I breathe when I sleep’ / ‘I sleep when I breathe’.
- A To point out the importance of logic in everyday speech.
- A The mad reversal of logic concepts.
- Reorder the main events of the text.
- The March Hare and the Mad Hatter are having tea at a large table under a tree in front of the house.
- The Hare offers Alice some wine, but there is only tea.
- The Hatter tells Alice she needs a haircut and asks the riddle ‘Why is a raven like a writing-desk?’
- The Hatter complains that his watch is two days’ wrong.
- Alice tells the Hatter and the Hare that they should not waste time by asking riddles with no answers.
- It is forever six o’clock.
- As this is tea-time, they must always have tea and thus they never have time to wash the cups.
- So they just keep moving around the table to a new set of places.
Carroll was the creator of a ‘nonsensical world’, where the principles that govern the common social and moral universe are questioned and carried to their logical extremes. The strict education system of the Victorian Age limited the thoughts, speech and actions of the individual. Some Victorian novelists, such as Charles Dickens and Charlotte Brontë, highlighted the mechanisation of human beings, which affected especially children. In Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Carroll showed the likeliness of Victorian society to discourage the use of the imagination and highlighted the inevitable absurdity of the world he himself was part of, where personal and collective realities were in doubt and where the children and the poor were wondering whether their lives belonged to them or depended on others.
5.17 Nathaniel Hawthorne
- witch trials
- poor health
- moral conflicts
- Custom House
- campaign biography
The Scarlet Letter
- It is set in Boston, in the Puritan New England of the 17th century. The first chapter is a long preamble on the Salem Custom House where, in a deserted room, the narrator finds a piece of gold-embroidered scarlet cloth in the shape of the letter ‘A’. There is also a manuscript telling the story of Hester Prynne. The narrator decides to take this narrative as the starting point for the novel.
- Hester Prynne is impulsive and passionate, she lives in public shame like an outcast, but she gains strength and purity from this isolation.
- Reverend Dimmesdale and Roger Chillingworth represent two sides of the human will: the active side and the passive one. Chillingworth is the villain of the story; he joins intellect and will to achieve his revenge. His only aim is to guide and observe Dimmesdale’s and Hester’s agony. He commits what the author considers the worst of sins, that is, the violation of the human heart. Dimmesdale, on the other hand, is all intellect without any will. He is passive, sensitive and refined; he lives under the pain of the shame deriving from his having sinned in the face of God.
- Little Pearl is a strange, elf-like creature with incredible energy. She represents freedom, intuitiveness and a poetic view of the world. She is the image of innocence and acts as a saviour to her mother.
- His main concern was not simply with sin, but with its relation to guilt; he observed and portrayed the torments of a guilty conscience, he focused on the moral and psychological effects of sin: isolation, morbidity, the distortion and frustration of emotional life, secrecy and twofaced appearance.
- He used traditional symbols derived from the Bible, Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton: light and darkness; the dark forest where witches practise their rites and illicit lovers meet, opposed to the severe Puritan town; the mirror; the sea; the snake; fire. The central symbol is the letter ‘A’ worn on Hester’s bosom, which is intended as a symbol of Hester’s shame but finally becomes the symbol of her personal identity
T69 Public shame
- (lines 1-12) Opening of the prison door, and appearance of the beadle and Hester with her baby in her arms.
- (lines 13-45) Hester and her baby are on the scaffold in front of the crowd. Part
- (lines 46-58) Hester bears the eyes of the crowd. Part
- (lines 59-83) Hester’s memories of her childhood and youth. Part
- (lines 84-87) Hester comes back to her reality on the scaffold.
- Highlighted in yellow: description of the beadle
- Highlighted in pink: description of Hester. She is tall, dark-eyed, with a rich complexion and shining hair; she is beautiful, elegant and ladylike in her manners; she has a strong character and dignity
- Pink words: Hester’s actions on the scaffold
- Light blue words: Hester’s feelings and character
- Highlighted in green: description of the scarlet letter embroidered on Hester’s bosom and its effect on the crowd
- Highlighted in light blue: the attitude of the crowd of Puritan citizens gathered around the scaffold. The crowd has no individual faces or comments, they are a group, all behaving in the same way. They have no active role, they are merely a presence
- Red dots: description of Hester’s childhood and youth, her parental house and parents. She used to live in a decaying house with anxious parents
- Highlighted in grey: Hester’s memory of her husband, Chillingworth. He was a scholar, with the power to penetrate the human soul, and had a slightly deformed, unattractive appearance
- He represents the strictness, the ‘dismal severity’ of the Puritan laws. He is ‘grim and grisly’ and prepared to see the law fulfilled in all its details - one assumes with no compassion or discrimination.
- At first, she is only a young woman and a mother, but eventually she is named. By describing the changes that have taken place in her character and looks during her imprisonment, Hawthorne is able to show ‘the before’ (her ‘reckless spirit’) and ‘the after’ (her ladylike elegance and beauty). By having her imagine her past in order to block out the horrible present of the public shaming, he is able to give her history in pictorial flashbacks.
- The dress is so gorgeous and extravagant, compared with what would be expected, that we know that Hester is an exceptional character. Her skill is shown, as well as the passion and spirit to have made her dress of shame into a spectacular ornament.
- This question can be answered at various levels. The simplest is that Hester does not behave with the shame expected by the crowd. The crowd, in turn, does not behave as Hester expects, in fact they remain silent. Finally, Hester herself does not behave as she expected - she would have preferred to disdain the shouting crowd, but finds their silence disconcerting and has to counter it with her memories.
- The unusual feature is the eyes: they could ‘read the human soul’ (line 73). This is a mysterious comment but also sinister, as all the other features of the man are negative - he is unpleasantly old and slightly deformed.
- He exaggerates the description by using words and phrases like ‘fine red cloth’, ‘elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread’, ‘artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy’, ‘fitting’, ‘of a splendour’, ‘greatly beyond […] sumptuary regulations’ (lines 20-25), ‘so fantastically embroidered and illuminated’ (line 43). This serves to make the letter ‘A’ stand out as a symbol, not merely of the Puritan adulteress, but of Hester’s beauty, skill and individuality. In addition to this, the type of language contrasts with the narrow and drab Puritan culture.
- At the beginning of the extract light and darkness are contrasted - the prison and freedom, Puritan law and Hester’s individuality. Towards the end Hawthorne contrasts reality and Hester’s imagination. (Students might pick the more concrete opposition of the young, beautiful and fertile Hester with the deformed old figure of her husband.) The letter ‘A’ is a thing of beauty, pride and individuality - the essence of Hester -, but it is also the symbol of shame and sin.
Suggestion: Hawthorne’s work has been at the centre of the American canon since the first publication of The Scarlet Letter. During his life he came in touch with the leading literary and philosophical minds of his day: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Herman Melville. The philosophy of Transcendentalism encouraged man to transcend the materialistic world of experience and facts through reflection and intuition in order to discover and become aware of eternal truths in the natural world. Hawthorne’s importance to American literature is mainly due to three reasons. First, he was a skilled novelist with an impressive talent for form. For instance, the four characters in The Scarlet Letter are so tightly linked together that the plot is given a unity of action rising slowly up to the scene of Dimmesdale’s public confession. A second reason is Hawthorne’s moral insight. He was deeply concerned with the concepts of original sin and guilt and the claims of law and conscience. He did not share the Transcendentalists’ optimism about the potentialities of human nature; instead, he looked more honestly into life, finding in it much suffering and conflict but also finding the redeeming power of love. A third reason is Hawthorne’s mastery of allegory and symbolism. His work started the tradition in American fiction of the symbolic romance that analyses the complexities and ambiguities of man’s choices.
5.18 Herman Melville
- He left school because of his father’s death and the subsequent difficult financial conditions of his family
- After taking various jobs, in 1839 he signed on as crew on a merchant ship and from then on he travelled widely and experienced all kinds of adventures
- His experience at sea provided the material for almost all his novels and stories
- Nathaniel Hawthorne encouraged him to adopt a more complex and symbolical narrative form
- His masterpiece Moby-Dick was published in 1851. The novel met with a cool reception and marked the beginning of the decline of Melville’s popularity
- whaling ship
- hunting down
- had bitten
- mixed races
- first mate
- three days
- sinking ship
- It takes place in the 1830s or 1840s aboard the whaling ship Pequod in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. It is based on the hunt for a white sperm whale, called Moby Dick, which is finally seen and hunted for three days.
- What does Ahab embody? He embodies the American Prometheus, a tragic hero who has been viewed by critics in two different perspectives: either as an overreacher who equals himself to God and makes a pact with the devil or as the voice of the instinctive spirituality of the New World, which rejects the tyranny of nature over man.
- Melville’s work lacks the optimistic, patriotic tone of Whitman’s poetry, and is rather marked by pessimism arising from the destruction of illusions, the clash between the ideal and the real.
- The novel is full of literary and religious echoes; Ahab’s quest reminds us of the wanderings of Ulysses, and there are parallels with the biblical history of Jonah, who, like Ahab, refused to obey the destiny God had decided for him and was punished. Another influence can be found in the English Romantic poets.
- The language of the novel ranges from everyday, colloquial speech to a highly symbolical and figurative style. The book contains some dictionary definitions of the whale, together with what the animal is called in 13 different languages, as well as a detailed description of the anatomy of the whale, and of the tools needed to hunt, kill and then cut it up. The first-person narrative is complemented by the omniscient impersonal narrative.
- Moby Dick is far more than a natural creature; Ahab hates him as the personification of the evil in the world - an active, impersonal force that man has to contend with. It could also represent a sort of mirror in which Ahab and his crew look for their own image, the embodiment of mankind’s quest for a reason for existence. But the white whale is also a symbol of the hidden and mysterious forces of nature, a wonderful and powerful nature, capable of sudden and incredible acts of destruction. Therefore the hunt stands for the archetypal conflict between man and nature in an age in which nature was seen as a ‘commodity’ and whales were considered a source of oil, meat, whalebone and the valuable spermaceti oil.
T70 Captain Ahab
- C The deepest word
- ‘pasteboard masks’ (lines 1-2)
- A Pushed roughly
- He identifies it with the wall thrust upon man by nature with terrible strength and inscrutable malice.
- He feels oppressed, he hates it (lines 6-9)
- B They stare at Ahab in a stupefied way
- He laughs (line 19)
- He thinks he has him in his power
- He defies fate in a state of mad exaltation.
- He tries to go beyond human limits.
- He has arrogant ambition.
- Some examples:
- simile; ‘All visible objects […] are but as pasteboard masks’ (lines 1-2).
- archaism; ‘Hark ye’ (line 1), ‘hath’ (line 12), ‘thou reddenest and palest’ (line 13).
- metaphor. ‘the white whale is that wall’ (line 5).
|Images from nature||Meaning suggested|
|the sun (line 9) leopards (line 17) hurricane (line 20) sapling (line 21) billow (line 24)||the source of life and energy the instinctual, primitive creatures force, strength youth, tenderness force, energy|
T71 The whiteness of the whale
- Part 1 (lines 1-12) Identification of the whale aa spiritual symbol.
- Part 2 (lines 13-31) Discussion of its possiblemeanings.
- Highlighted in pink: the nature described in the first paragraph is an alive, wild, sublime nature that frightens man
- Highlighted in blue: the contrasting images on which the passage is built: nameless/sign, visible/invisible, love/fright, colour / absence of colour, blankness/meaning
- Highlighted in yellow: the white whale is a symbol of spiritual things for those who believe and, at the same time, the symbol of void, annihilation and absence for the atheist. It may be interpreted at once as the principle of light and colour or its total absence
- Highlighted in green: the similes referred to nature (‘as the shaking of that buffalo robe to the frightened colt’, line 3; ‘like the harlot’, line 23), the universe (‘a leper’, line 28) and man (‘wilful travellers in Lapland’, line 28)
- He believes that the visible things were created in love, while the invisible ones were formed in fright.
- The reasons behind the appeal that the whiteness has on the soul.
- The ‘heartless voids and immensities of the universe’ (lines 13-14).
- It states that all the colours and visible things are just ‘deceits’.
- He is made blind by staring at it.
- Both views see in Moby Dick the embodiment of the invisible forces of nature. In Ahab’s view, however, there is a more precise identification of the whiteness with evil, while Ishmael underlines the principle of ‘indefiniteness’.
- It becomes the attempt to find a meaning to fill the void in life, the embodiment of mankind’s quest for a reason for existence.
- Can you find such a powerful symbol as Moby Dick which might embody evil or the absence of meaning in the contemporary world? Students’ activity.
Hawthorne’s use of symbols draws on traditional sources such as the Bible, Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton: light and darkness; the dark forest where witches practise their rites and illicit lovers meet, opposed to the severe Puritan town; the mirror; the sea; the snake; fire. The most important symbol in his masterpiece The Scarlet Letter is the letter ‘A’ worn on Hester’s bosom, which provided Hawthorne with the combination of moral and material he was looking for. The letter ‘A’ is intended as a symbol of Hester’s shame but it finally becomes the symbol of her personal identity. In Melville’s novel the white whale could represent a sort of mirror in which Ahab and his crew look for their own image. But it is also the personification of the evil in the world and a symbol of the hidden and mysterious forces of nature, a wonderful and powerful nature, capable of sudden and incredible acts of destruction. Therefore, the hunt stands for the archetypal conflict between man and nature in an age in which nature was seen as a ‘commodity’ and whales were considered a source of oil, meat, whalebone and the valuable spermaceti oil.
5.19 Walt Whitman
- Place of birth: West Hills on Long Island, New York.
- Education: He had little formal education and acquired a self-taught culture.
- Readings: The Bible, Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, Carlyle, Goethe, Hegel, Emerson, Eastern religion and philosophy.
- Job experiences: At the age of 11 he started to work as an office boy for some Brooklyn lawyers and then became a printer’s apprentice for a local newspaper. Journalism became his career.
- Beliefs: He supported radical democratic causes, was in favour of the abolition of slavery and the national integrity promoted by Lincoln, and believed in the value of democracy and technological progress.
- Journeys: He travelled from New York to New Orleans, returning via Chicago.
- Public reaction to his works: His third edition of Leaves of Grass aroused the indignation of puritanical readers and gained him a reputation for obscenity and homosexuality.
- Reputation: Popular in Europe in the 1870s, he was especially appreciated by the Aesthetic Movement. In America he had Ralph Waldo Emerson’s support during his lifetime, and influenced later poets such as Ezra Pound, Carl Sandburg and, more recently, the Beat Generation. He is generally regarded as the father of American poetry, as the first voice distinctly new and ‘American’.
- Because it is a life-long poem in whose various editions all of Whitman’s poetry was incorporated. This implied a process of development and expansion resulting from the fact that Whitman never lost a transcendental sense of the unity of all things.
- As a process, a continuing, all-embracing flow.
- Because they imposed rigidity and completeness upon the reality, which is in fact constantly unfolding.
- He rejected the pastoral trend and treated the natural world as the body of the earth, a material entity with a character that attracted the poet’s curiousity.
- The human body, with its sensual impulses, was treated as continuous with nature. Whitman discovered in himself the same energies and materials that brought the earth to life.
- Whitman’s relation to the earth was also mystical because it identified the self with this larger, more powerful, and only partially knowable entity.
- He used free verse. He rejected rhymes and regular lines with a fixed number of syllables or stresses in favour of long lines where rhythm is naturally determined by the thought or emotion expressed. His poems proceed by accumulation and addition, the participle often replaces the finite verb, and the overall impression is one of fragmentation and lack of unity.
- He celebrated America in all its variety - the land itself, its people, its natural life, the idea of democracy and the ‘American dream’. Another main theme is himself, his task, as a poet, to respond to the spirit of his country, to give voice to the common man, to reveal the truth, like a prophet, mixing with the crowd and embracing mankind in brotherly love. He also dealt with physical love and the theme of sex. What he valued most was the dignity of the individual, conceived as the unity of body and soul, and with a right to self-expression and personal experience.
T72 O Captain! my Captain!
- Stanza 1 Lincoln’s assassination.
- Stanza 2 The victory of democracy.
- Stanza 3 The poet’s mourning
- Highlighted in yellow: terms referring to President Lincoln. He is seen as a great leader, a father who can guide the country
- Highlighted in pink: symbolic images: the ‘trip’ stands for the journey towards freedom, which is fearful because it is connected with the war; the ‘rack’ is slavery; the ‘prize’ is the union; the ‘port’ is the victory of freedom and democracy; the ‘vessel’ is the guide represented by the leader
- Highlighted in grey: the American people are exulting and celebrating the victory of freedom and democracy
- Green dots: the prevailing sentence form in the poem is exclamation
- Red dots: use of repetition
- To ‘rise up and hear the bells’ (line 9).
- It varies from excitement (lines 1-4, 9-12) to sorrow and mourning (line 17-18, 22).
- No, it does not. There is a rhyme scheme (AABBCDED).
- What tense prevails? What is the effect? The present tense. It gives the poem a dramatic quality of immediacy.
- Both. Whitman’s poem testifies to his passionate patriotism, to his belief in the American dream, as well as to his appreciation of Lincoln both as a politician and a man, a ‘father’.
Suggestion: President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 had a deep impact on the nation since the last bloody battles of the Civil War were still a recent memory. There was widespread mourning and grief across the country, and Whitman, who was a great admirer of Lincoln, wrote this poem. The poet thought that Lincoln embodied the American virtues of honesty and courage, and his death inspired a simple, three-stanza poem of sorrow that little resembled his other, more experimental writings. O Captain! my Captain! became one of the most popular poems Whitman would ever write and the poem’s evocation of triumph overshadowed by despair spoke to readers throughout the shattered nation.
T73 Song of the Open Road
- mind not
- The narrator sets out on a journey around his country on foot
- He declares himself free from any limitation and constraint
- He exhorts other people to join him during his journey
He rejects rhymes and regular lines with a fixed number of syllables or stresses in favour of long lines where rhythm is naturally determined by the thought or emotion expressed.
He uses them to stress the contrast between the positive feelings he has expressed so far in the poem and the burdens he still carries from the past. He refers to the old troubles and worries he thought he had got rid of, which he probably wants to separate from his new state of mind.
Lines 4-6, 19, 22,27-31, 34-40.
The title suggests the width and vastness of the American landscape, the chance to enlarge one’s horizon and views, the sense of freedom given by the close contact with the land.
Assertive, bold, energetic. The use of the reflexive pronoun ‘myself’ (lines 4, 16, 20, 27-28, 40), the volition future ‘I will’ (lines 15, 27-29), exclamatives and exhortations (lines 32-38).
‘[open] road’ (lines 1, 7, 32), ‘world’ (line 2), ‘long brown path’ (line 3), ‘The earth’ (line 8), ‘great draughts of space’ (line 21), ‘The east and the west’, ‘the north and the south’ (line 22). The setting, which is wild and vast, evokes the values of liberty, freedom and brotherly union.
- Thirty-four times.
- ‘light-hearted’ (line 1), ‘Healthy, free’ (line 2), ‘I myself am good-fortune’ (line 4), ‘Strong and content’ (line 7), ‘loos’d of limits and imaginary lines’ (line 16), ‘my own master total and absolute’ (line 17), ‘Gently, but with undeniable will’ (line 20), ‘larger, better’ (line 23), ‘I held so much goodness’ (line 24), ‘a new gladness and roughness’ (line 29), ‘my love more precious than money’ (line 39). The attitude is one of open-mindedness, of optimism and faith in a dynamic future and brotherly love.
students, teachers the clergy;
the men of the law (lawyers, judges)
- Whitman uses two expressions that refer to all these people. What are they? What does this imply? ‘men and women’ (line 13), ‘Camerado’ (line 38). They imply the idea of brotherhood, the sense of belonging to mankind.
They are associated with freedom; meeting new people; having the time to think, listening, searching, receiving, contemplating, giving and sharing with other people.
5.20 Emily Dickinson
- Born into a middle-class Puritan family, she received her university education at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, where she refused to declare her faith in public, as was required by the Puritan tradition, and then decided to interrupt her studies and return home.
- She lived a life of seclusion, she only wore white clothes, as ambiguous emblems of spiritual marriage and singleness, and never left her father’s house except for some walks in the garden. She hid her mind, as well as her person, from all but the members of her family, especially her sister Lavinia and a few friends to whom she wrote wonderful letters. Letter-writing became her only form of contact with the world, and her poems also seem to have been written for the purpose of communication rather than for publication.
- Four years after her death, the literary critic Thomas Wentworth Higginson was asked to make a selection from her work. Poems by Emily Dickinson appeared in 1890 with some corrections and changes meant to suit the taste of a public accustomed to more traditional rhythms and images. A complete edition of her poems appeared in 1955, edited by Thomas Johnson, who re-established the form in which she wrote them, with the original and eccentric punctuation.
- She dealt with the eternal issues of life: death and loss, love and desire, time, fear, sorrow, despair, God, nature and man’s relation to the universe.
- She wrote about death from the point of view of the person dying or of a witness. She sometimes felt horror or compassion, and she even wrote about her own death. She explored the theme of love through a full range of emotions: from ecstatic and sensual celebration to the despair due to separation. She presented nature in three ways: through an objective description; by juxtaposing the thing observed and the soul of the observer, so that the natural object leads to philosophical speculation; as a source of imagery to emphasise an abstract concept or theme.
- Her poems are generally short and organised in simple quatrains. They do not have a title. Their language is characterised by monosyllabic words, by terms from various sources - law, geometry, engineering -, by common words that come alive in unusual contexts. She uses the dash, which breaks lines apart.
- It forces the reader to pause and reconsider, and provides a visible, physical space for thought.
- What were the main influences on her poetry? Her poetry was influenced by the reading of the Bible, Shakespeare, Milton, the Metaphysical poets and contemporary writers like Emily Brontë and Robert Browning. The same forces that had long dominated New England - the Puritan tradition and Emerson’s Transcendentalism - also contributed to shaping her mind.
- They both broke with poetic conventions, but Dickinson’s poetry, unlike Whitman’s, is concerned with questions, intuitions and moods rather than statements and assertions. Her limited vision is the poetic antithesis of Whitman. If Whitman was the poet of wholeness, she was the poet of what is broken and absent.
T74 Hope is the thing with feathers
- Stanza 1 Description of hope.
- Stanza 2 Hope is sweet and keeps warm.
- Stanza 3 Even the smallest portion of oneself can provide an entire meal for hope.
- Highlighted in pink: the central metaphor of the poem is that of a soft songbird standing for hope
- Highlighted in yellow: the human soul is the place where hope is
- Underlined in blue: other metaphors: the ‘storm’ stands for the difficulties and the chaos that sometimes affect life; the ‘chillest land’ stands for hardship or suffering; the ‘sea’ is a metaphor for life; a ‘crumb’ is an everyday detail which represents friendship and love
- Highlighted in light blue: repetition
- Green letters: assonance
- Pink letters: alliteration
- Personal: ‘perches in the soul’ (line 2); tireless: ‘And never stops - at all’ (line 4); resilient: ‘in the chillest land’ (line 9); fearless: ‘on the strangest Sea’ (line 10); heroically strong: ‘never, in Extremity - / It asked a crumb’ (lines 11-12)
- The word ‘thing’ (line 1). To leave the image of hope indefinite and therefore more evocative.
- She is fond of the little, trifling details of the natural world
|Structure of poems||free verse; long lines; rejected rhymes||short lines; simple quatrains; free use of rhymes|
|Language||dialect and common speech mixed with the jargon of science and philosophy; accumulation of details; avoids similes and metaphors||elliptical; use of rhetorical devices and dashes|
|Themes||freedom and democracy; the American dream; the poet’s task to give voice to the common man; physical love; the dignity of the individual||exploration of universal issues through trivial, everyday images: death and loss; love and desire; time; fear; sorrow; despair; God; hope; nature; man’s relation to the universe|
|The poet’s attitude||broke away from convention; optimistic attitude||broke away from stereotypes; lived a life of isolation|
T75 Because I could not stop for Death
- but just
- Stanza 1 Death kindly stopped to visit the
- Stanza 2 The speaker had to give up what she
- Stanza 3 Death and the speaker rode through
- Stanza 4 The sun went down and the weather
- Stanza 5 They stopped at a strange house.
- Stanza 6 The speaker understood she was riding
There is no rhyme scheme. The poet breaks away from the conventions of poetry and anticipates modern experimentation.
The poem is characterised by the lack of punctuation and the use of dashes. In this way Dickinson creates suspense, emphasises certain words and forces the reader to pause and reconsider. As a result the emotion expressed in the poem is highlighted.
The repetition of ‘We passed’ (lines 11-12) creates a sort of trance-like atmosphere and conveys the sense of inevitability of the journey towards eternity
‘labor’, ‘leisure’ (line 7); ‘School’ (line 9); ‘Fields of Gazing Grain’ (line 11); ‘Setting Sun’ (line 12); ‘Gown’ (line 15); ‘Tippet’ (line 16); ‘Roof’ (line 19); ‘Cornice’ (line 20).
kindly’ (line 2); ‘Carriage’ (line 3); ‘slowly’ (line 5);He knew no haste’ (line 5); ‘His Civility’ (line 8). Dickinson uses personification; she modifies the traditional frightening image of death and turns it into the figure of a gentleman who takes his lady for a ride in his carriage.
It is connoted like a house. On its architectural features.
Mocking, gentle, ironical, witty
The idea of the last journey is connected with the concept of another life in eternity. At the same time it is contrasted with the idea that life on earth will continue around us even after our departure.
5.21 Thomas Hardy
- give up
- He had a deterministic view, deprived of the consolation of divine order. He could see no intelligent direction of the universe, only the control of ‘insensible chance’ over everything. So human life was a purely tragic process upon which man had no power. Hardy was not a total pessimist, however. He expressed the need for altruism through cooperation and loving kindness, and the application of scientific knowledge.
- Being alive involves being ‘an existence, an experience, a passion, a structure of sensations’. But also being in a place, an environment, and surrounded by a set of circumstances which modify and partly determine the individual existence.
- Nature is presented as a co-protagonist with the characters. Indifferent to man’s destiny, it sets the pattern of growth and decay which is followed by human life. Nature also implies regeneration, expressed through the cycle of seasons. Some of Hardy’s characters, especially Tess, have the same life urge which is found in natural creatures, and their life is set against the seasonal background to counterpoint the main events and phases of experience.
- He criticised the most conventional, moralistic, hypocritical aspects of Victorian society. His attitude to religion was also critical: he believed Christianity was no longer capable of fulfilling the needs of modern man.
- Hardy’s language is detailed and rich in symbolism. His characters speak naturally and effectively within their social register; some even use dialect. The language of sense impressions plays an important role in his art. The use of colour is strongly linked to emotion and experience, especially connected with natural landscape.
- He emphasised the importance of strict, rigorous form, stressing symmetry and a blend of dialogue, description and narration. He employed the Victorian omniscient narrator, who sometimes comments on the action or introduces his opinions and his view of life. Hardy often presents action through the eyes of a hypothetical observer, with whom the reader is implicitly invited to identify himself. He even anticipates the cinema in his use of narrative techniques similar to ‘the camera eye’ and ‘the zoom’.
- In Hardy’s stories characters are defined through their environment. In his major novels there is the progressive mapping of a semi-fictional region, in the southwestern corner of England and his native county of Dorset. In the ‘Preface’ to Far from the Madding Crowd he called this area ‘Wessex’, by which he meant the old Saxon kingdom of Alfred the Great. Therefore Hardy’s Wessex transcends topographical limits, combining the imaginative experience of the individual with a sense of man’s place in the universe.
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
- Her father finds out that he is a descendent of a rich and aristocratic family, the D’Urbervilles, and the horse which is the only means of sustenance of Tess’s family dies.
- Tess agrees to become Alec’s mistress but when Angel returns, she kills Alec and flees with Angel. She is arrested at Stonehenge and finally executed.
- They are Alec D’Urberville, a rich young man who thinks his social status gives him the right to seize what he wants regardless of any morality, and Angel Clare, a young man of modern and liberal ideas who, however, fails to understand Tess’s situation.
- She is presented as a victim and embodies the qualities of affection and trust, the powers of suffering and survival. In spite of her misfortunes, she has the energy to endure and go on living. She is presented through symbolic images - often drawn from the natural world - that stress her beauty, innocence and vulnerability.
- He deals with issues of morality in two ways: one is the relativity of moral values, which vary according to time and place; the other is the opposition between man-made laws and nature.
- Religious belief is constantly questioned: Hardy regards Christianity as a worthless degradation of primitive spiritual ideas such as sun-worship. His view is that modern man is in a spiritually hopeless state.
T76 Alec and Tess
- Complete the following notes.
- Setting in time Evening, September.
- Weather Foggy.
- Characters Alec and Tess.
- No, she does not.
- The reasons suggested are the moonlight, fog, absent-mindedness, sleepiness.
- Line 35, when Alec and she are in the wood.
- B He is trying to have physical contact with her
- Alec is her master. She feels guilty that she has suspected his motives and pushed him (which would have been rude for a servant). Then she is put into an embarrassing position when she realises that Alec has been giving her family gifts.
- Tess passes through several states of mind. Put them in the correct order.
- Passivity and helplessness.
- Collect the details of the wood in the table below
- Animals: the horse (line 1), birds (line 107), rabbits and hares (line 108)
- bushes (line 53), yews and oaks (lines 106-107)
- A It goes on regardless of the activity of human society.
- Match the realistic scenes and details (1-5) with their symbolic meaning (A-E).
- Lines 108-111.
- No, she is not. Hardy presents her as a victim.
- C gap.
- Tess and Alec belong to two very different social classes and their relationship is not acceptable to either class. Moreover, it is the woman who pays the social price of her lost reputation, so Tess will be a ‘fallen woman’; she will no longer be simple and joyful but will have a darker side to her personality.
- Putting the activities of the humans into the context of nature and the supernatural powers.The narrator describes the birds and animals in the wood going about their business; he asks where Tess’s ‘guardian angel’ was and why she was not protected. He is placing human activity in a context in which it is less significant. Trying to analyse the causes of events. In lines 116-121 he considers that the past affects the present (‘sins of the fathers’, line 119). He makes it clear that neither of these fully gives the answer as to why this has happened. Considering the belief in fate. In considering Tess’s people saying ‘It was to be’, an acceptance of fate. Making a moral judgement on what has happened. The narrator does not do this. He does not blame any of the parts, not even Alec. He does not say that Tess herself was sullied, only that a ‘coarse pattern’ was printed on her dress - she was simply changed, a chasm divided her from her former self.
- B Man’s life is regulated by chance and as such it cannot be changed.
In the late Victorian period, simple certainty of progress had faded and religious faith had been eroded by the view of a universe controlled by ‘insensible chance’. So there was increasing pessimism and concern that social problems were growing, not being solved. Great social changes had taken place for middle- and working-class men, and the position of women was being debated. Hardy reflects all this. However, he wrote about agricultural labourers and rural life at a time when most people lived in towns and their lives were dominated by factories and commerce - Hardy emphasises the rural calendar and the changing seasons, which had been forgotten in urban life. In this way, he confronts the social dilemmas that Victorian society had created with the timeless tragedy of human existence. He used the omniscient narrator, which was a typical feature of the Victorian novel, to expose Victorian hypocrisy and to present a view deprived of the consolation of faith.
T77 Tess’s baby
- Part 1 (lines 1-16) The baptism. Tess performs the ceremony of her baby’s baptism herself and calls him Sorrow.
- Part 2 (lines 17-25) Poor Sorrow’s sad destiny. The baby dies and the obtrusive narrator comments on his unlucky short life.
- Part 3 (lines 26-58) Tess and the vicar. Tess asks the vicar if her baby has the right to be buried in holy ground.
- Part 4 (lines 59-68) The burial of the baby. The baby is buried in a forgotten part of the churchyard among infants who had not been baptised, drunkards and suicides.
Tess’s behaviour: She is very serious and worried about performing the ceremony in the correct way. The words ‘grave’ (line 2), ‘fervently’ (line 12) and ‘duly’ (line 14) underline her attitude. The choice of the baby’s name: The baby is the living representation of Tess’s sin. The name that she gives him, Sorrow, represents the aftermath and consequences of her sin. The symbolic meaning the baptism acquires for Tess: By baptising her child, Tess rejects the social structure around her that perceives the mother of an illegitimate child as an outcast, performing the ceremony that marks theacceptance of her child into society without the public declaration of the Church. The baptism of Sorrow is thus a baptism for Tess as well, marking a new sense of self and self-worth that she has lacked. This can further be seen in the confrontation with the parson that follows: Tess demands that Sorrow be given a Christian burial, despite the objection of the parson.
- He is referred to as ‘Poor Sorrow’, ‘fragile soldier and servant’, ‘Sorrow the Undesired’, ‘intrusive creature’, ‘bastard gift of shameless Nature’, ‘a waif’.
- It is the contrast between the baby’s short, meaningless life and the eternity and vastity of the universe. In this respect the baby represents man’s littleness before insensible chance. Another contrast is that between the baby’s existence and the refusal opposed to it by society.
- Define his tone in this section. He underlines the inevitability of man’s fate. The tone is ironical and critical.
- Justify your answer by quoting from the text. The parson experiences the conflict between his nature and feelings as a man and his duties as a clergyman. The quotes from the text are in lines 35-38 and 55-58.
- Religion is undergoing a crisis: the parson has to work hard to convince people to trust in their Christian belief in the face of growing scepticism due to new scientific theories. Another point he makes is that religion is no longer capable of fulfilling the needs of modern man because its rules are too strict.
The ironical details are the fact that the burial takes place thanks to the compliance of a drunk sexton (line 60), and that the choice of the place is shocking: the baby is buried in a ‘shabby corner of God’s allotment’ among sinners and outcasts (lines 61-63). Irony is also directed against God (‘where He lets the nettles grow’, line 61). The adverb ‘bravely’ (line 63) referred to Tess is also ironical: hers is a crusade against society. The final ironical touch is the brand of the marmalade over the flower jar (lines 66-67).
Jude the Obscure
- The protagonist, Jude Fawley, is a boy from a poor village who has ambitions to become a student at the University of Christminster. His attempt to improve himself fails in the face of centuries of accumulated class prejudice: his ambitions and sensibility separate him from his own class while winning him no place in any other. His tragedy is mainly of frustration and loneliness due to his uprooting.
- No, it is not. Hardy sets the novel in different towns or villages to show the alienation of modern life.
- She represents Jude’s ideal, the intellectual woman. She seems to promise freedom and strength, but in the end she frustrates him and retreats into her conventional life as the wife of Mr Phillotson. She is unconventional but fragile and finally accepts the rules of society even if they make her unhappy.
- Jude the Obscure is anti-Victorian in the choice of themes (the questioning of marriage and the issue of divorce) and represents a departure from Victorianism with its portrayal of weakened vitality and grey despair, in a bleak urban setting characterised by a sense of anxiety and selfdestruction. Hardy develops the story through the characters’ repetitive dialogues, denying the narrator the possibility to explain and interpret things.
- Because he does not ‘exist’ for others, is never ‘seen’ by them. Hardy takes him from defeat to defeat and to the denial of any form of life, love or peace.
T78 Little Father Time
- Part 1 (lines 1-15) Jude’s discovery of the children’s corpses.
- Part 2 (lines 16-31) Sue’s despair.
- Part 3 (lines 32-50) The doctor’s explanation and the features of the new generation.
- Part 4 (lines 51-86) Jude’s and Sue’s attempts to find an explanation to what has happened.
- Highlighted in yellow: these lines provide an example of cinematic technique since the character of Jude is virtually converted into a camera, focusing on the main object, followed by a close-up of a detail
- Highlighted in pink: Jude’s immediate reaction to the scene. His actions are quick and rational
- Highlighted in green: Sue’s first reactions to the macabre scene are opposite to Jude’s ones: she breaks down and cannot find consolation
- Highlighted in orange: these lines describe the features of the ‘last generation’ that Little Father Time embodies. These children have no hope, they have been deprived of the faith in progress and of the wish to live
- Highlighted in light blue: the reasons for Little Father Time’s choice. They are linked to what Victorian society regards as Sue’s and Jude’s mistakes. Victorian society judged their choice of living together outside marriage as obscene and irresponsible since it affected their children
- Underlined in blue: the reference to God’s love for His people is here ironical since God seems to have forgotten Jude and Sue. The Church condemns them as sinners or does not recognise their sorrow because it is busy with sterile arguments about rite
- Highlighted in grey: Sue’s sense of guilt due to the Victorian strict moral code. The loss of faith in man’s power: man is only a puppet in the hands of fate. This view characterises the last decades of the Victorian Age
- For more than an hour.
- Jude and Sue reach the conclusion that the elder boy had acted out of despair finding himself alone on waking the morning after having talked with Sue about her pregnancy: he had hanged his brother and sister and then hanged himself. They also find a piece of paper with the note ‘DONE BECAUSE WE ARE TOO MENNY’ written on it.
- Because ‘if there were any hope, her presence might do harm’ (lines 33-34); moreover, she was pregnant and too strong an emotion might be dangerous for the unborn child.
- He thought that their union had been shadowed by death; she thought their perfect union had been stained with blood and therefore ruined.
- Did Jude agree with her? She felt responsible and guilty for what she had told Little Father Time about the new baby she was expecting. Jude did not agree with her; he thought that chance had worked cruelly on her good intentions.
Suggestion: Unlike Dickens’s children, who suffer hardship, misery and exploitation but always maintain their wish to survive and to improve their condition through their qualities, Hardy’s children have no hope, they have been deprived of the faith in progress and of an optimistic view of life.
Hardy’s novel employs a third-person omniscient narrator, but the writer denies him the possibility to explain and interpret things by focusing on the relationship between Jude and Sue, and developing the story through the characters’ repetitive dialogues. Unlike his other works, which are mainly set in a rural environment, Jude the Obscure takes place in a bleak urban setting. It does not have a happy ending and it is characterised by weakened vitality and grey despair. Hardy’s language is detailed and realistic but also rich in symbolism and linked to the language of sense impressions. As regards themes, he dealt with contemporary issues but his reading public did not tolerate his scepticism and criticism of marriage and religion.
5.22 Robert Louis Stevenson
- He spent most of his childhood in bed. He suffered from poor health.
- He travelled a lot. He travelled a lot in search of a friendlier climate; he lived in the South of England, Germany, France and Italy. He married an American woman and since his health was deteriorating, they moved to Australia and Tahiti, settling down at Vailima in Samoa.
- He graduated in law. He took up Engineering at university, following in his father’s footsteps, but he gave it up and graduated in law in 1875.
- He rejected his family’s principles. He openly rejected his family’s religious principles and their love for respectability. He was in conflict with the Victorian world; he grew his hair long, his manners were eccentric and he became one of the first examples of the bohemian in Britain.
- He wrote his best works in the 1880s. He became popular as a novelist in the 1880s, when he published Treasure Island (1883), The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), Kidnapped (1886) and The Master of Ballantrae (1889). His short stories, pervaded by a sense of suspense and supernatural worthy of Edgar Allan Poe, were collected as New Arabian Nights (1882).
- He died young. He died of a brain haemorrhage in 1894.
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
- It takes place in London in the 1870s. At that time London had a ‘double’ nature and reflected the hypocrisy of Victorian society: the respectable West End was in contrast with the appalling poverty of the East End slums. Most scenes of the novel take place at night: there is no natural daylight, but only the artificial lighting of Jekyll’s house and of the nightmarish street lamps. The most important events are wrapped up in darkness and fog.
- Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde has a multi-narrative structure, in which a complex series of points of view is presented. There are four narrators, through whom almost the whole action is seen and filtered: Utterson, who has the role of a detective since he follows clues and draws hypotheses; Enfield, a distant relative of Utterson’s; Dr Lanyon, a friend and a colleague of Dr Jekyll’s who is the first person to see his friend enact his transformation; and finally Dr Jekyll himself, who speaks in the first person. His narrative and final confession takes up the last chapter.
- They are Jekyll and Hyde. As Jekyll has lived a virtuous life, his face is handsome, his hands are white and well-shaped, his body is larger and more harmoniously proportioned than Hyde’s. Since Hyde is pure hate and evil, he is pale and dwarfish, his hands are dark and hairy, he gives an impression of deformity, and the good Mr Utterson reads ‘Satan’s signature’ in his traits.
- The novel had its origin in a dream: afflicted with tuberculosis and haunted by sleeplessness and melancholy, Stevenson wrote down in his diary that he had dreamed of a man in a laboratory who had swallowed a drug and turned into a different being. It was the Gothic aspect of this story that excited him, and he produced a first draft.
- They are the antithesis between good and evil, the duality of man’s nature, the double nature of Victorian society with its antithetical values. The novel may also be considered a reflection on art itself, as a kind of psychological search, and Jekyll’s discovery may symbolise the artist’s journey into the unexplored regions of the human psyche.
T79 Story of the door
- thrust forward
- Focus on lines 1-36 and answer the questions.
- He was a lawyer (line 1).
- He was a friend and a distant relative of Mr Utterson’s (lines 18, 21).
- It was like ivy (line 19).
- They happened to wander down a ‘by street’ in a busy area of London (lines 28-29).
- The ‘by street’ was quiet on Sundays but crowded on weekdays (lines 29-30).
- Consider the description of the house in lines 37-45 and complete the following notes.
- Height Two storeys high (line 39)
- Number of windows No windows (line 39)
- Number of doors One (line 39)
- The façade Discoloured; it showed the marks of prolonged and sordid negligence (lines 40-41)
- The door Blistered and disdained; it had neither a bell nor a knocker (lines 41-42)
- The panels Matches were struck on them (lines 42-43)
- The steps Children kept shops on them (line 43)
- The mouldings Knives had been tried by the schoolboys on them (lines 43-44)
- Focus on the final part of the text and decide whether the following statements are true or false.
- F (lines 51-52)
- F (lines 56-57)
- F (line 60)
- F (lines 70-72)
- F (line 74)
- First part (lines 1-50): third-person narrator; neutral point of view. Second part (lines 51-81): first-person narrator (Mr Enfield); Mr Enfield’s point of view.
- Complete the table about Mr Utterson.
|Physical appearance||‘of a rugged countenance, that was never lighted by a smile’ (lines 1-2); ‘lean, long, dusty’ (line 2)|
|Way of speaking||embarrassed’ (line 2)|
|Behaviour||cold, scanty’ (line 2); ‘backward in sentiment’ (line 2); ‘dreary, and yet somehow lovable’ (line 3); ‘eminently human’ (line 4); ‘austere with himself’ (line 6); ‘modest’ (line 17)|
|Interests||‘vintages’ (line 7); ‘the theatre’ (line 7)|
|Attitudes||‘tolerance for others’ (lines 8-9); ‘inclined to help’ (line 10); ‘it was frequently ... men’ (lines 12-13); ‘never marked a shade of change in his demeanour’ (line 14)|
- They connote the very horrid nature of the man, who is also ironically referred to as ‘my gentleman’ by Mr Enfield.
- He is a monster.
- Repulsion. Fright. Disgust.
It suggests one of the main themes of the novel: the double nature of the human soul, the good and the evil sides.
- had gathered
Suggestion: Students should develop the following notes:
- Similarities: Both Hyde and the monster are different from the common man and they are rejected by mankind because of their diversity.
- Differences: Hyde is pure evil. The monster was naturally good; it was society that made him a devilish creature.
T80 Jekyll’s experiment
- Part 1 (lines 1-18) The fundamental truth Jekyll thinks he has discovered.
- Part 2 (lines 19-45) The effects of the drug and Hyde’s evil nature.
- Part 3 (lines 46-55) The effects of the drug are reversible.
- Green words: Jekyll’s double nature
- Highlighted in light blue: Jekyll’s wish to separate the two different identities of his soul
- Pink words: the composition and preparation of the drug
- Blue words: the immediate effects of the drug Orange words: the second effects of the drug
- Highlighted in yellow: description of Hyde’s feelings and sensations after the transformation; they are quite different from those experienced by Jekyll What does this difference underline? The double nature of the human soul.
- Underlined in blue: the setting in time: night, a typical Gothic setting; the setting in place: a laboratory, a place outside Jekyll’s respectable house
- Highlighted in grey: Edward Hyde, the evil side of Jekyll’s soul
- Highlighted in pink: Jekyll’s ambition makes him an overreacher
- Highlighted in green: the mirror is an important detail because it is the symbol of the duality of man’s nature
- He thinks he has learned to recognise the primitive duality of man (lines 2-3).
- He dreamt of doing it by housing the two natures of the human soul, one wholly good and one wholly bad, in separate identities (lines 6-8).
- He used a large quantity of particular salt and added it to other components; he watched them boil and, finally, when the ebullition had subsided, he drank off the potion (lines 15-18).
- Whose point of view is adopted? A first-person narrative is used. Dr Jekyll’s point of view is adopted.
- Underline them. Why do you think Stevenson uses so many oppositions in the description of Jekyll’s experiment?
|more upright twin’, ‘the just’ (line 9) ‘good things’ (line 10) ‘morning’ (line 31) ‘good’ (line 44) ‘Henry Jekyll’ (line 50)||the unjust’ (line 8) ‘extraneous evil’ (line 11) ‘night’ (line 30) ‘evil’ (line 44), ‘pure evil’ (line 45) ‘Edward Hyde’ (line 37)|
Link to Contemporary Culture: The detective story
- The first detective story in English is considered to be Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841), which introduced the eccentric but brilliant detective Auguste Dupin. He used observation, logical deduction and intelligence to unravel crimes which the police often left unsolved.
- They are a mysterious crime; a professional detective; sometimes, the detective’s companion, who is slower and thus provides a contrast to the detective (he can also be the narrator of the story); an inefficient local police force; numbers of false suspects and false clues; the detective’s investigation, which starts after the crime and gradually unwinds the mystery; an unexpected final twist showing the importance of reasoning and psychological analysis; and a detailed reconstruction of the crime.
- It developed in the second half of the 19th century as a popular genre due to the social and cultural changes of the age - the industrialisation, the birth of slums characterised by poverty and crime, and the reorganisation of police forces combined with the interest of the press in crime news. Other important influences were the scientific progress and the spread of a scientific method based on observation and the collection of data.
- Who invented him and how did he solve crimes? The most famous fictional detective is Sherlock Holmes, created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887. Based on a real medical colleague of Doyle’s in Edinburgh, Holmes has become the symbol for detection through minute observation of detail and intellectual powers of deduction. He is the perfect example of an ‘armchair detective’, who feels superior thanks to his intellectual skills rather than to his physical strength.
In the 1920s and 1930s some American writers introduced a different kind of detective story, aiming at more realism. The pioneer of the so-called ‘hardboiled’ detective fiction was Dashiell Hammett, who introduced more cynical characters and a more complicated plot. He created a short, overweight, unnamed detective, employed by the San Francisco branch of the Continental Detective Agency, who became known as the Continental Op (from ‘operator’). His method is characterised by real-life private-eye investigation.
The hound from hell
We know it is night time because the paragraph describes a ‘clear, starlit night’ (line 4). The weather is foggy at a lower level because Sir Henry Baskerville is walking up a slope and comes out of the fog into the clear night. It is described as a ‘silver-tipped bank’ (line 2). The simile is in lines 2-3 where the fog is compared to a curtain.
He is obviously nervous and tense as he keeps looking over his shoulders. He is probably in this state because he is frightened, terrified at the thought of the hound.
Hearing: ‘sound’, ‘quick steps’, ‘broke the silence’, ‘grew louder’, ‘stepped’; sight: ‘stared’, ‘silver-tipped’, ‘through a curtain’, ‘looked round’, ‘emerged’, ‘clear, starlit’, ‘glanced’. Sensations: ‘surprise’, ‘ill at ease’.
B The hound.
It is created by a gradual build-up of suspense. It begins by creating an atmosphere of uncertainty using phrases like ‘from somewhere’, ‘uncertain what horror’. Holmes’s face is described as ‘pale and exultant’; after this he rushes forward with a ‘rigid, fixed stare’ showing amazement. Then the tension is further increased by the ‘yell of terror’ from Lestrade and by Watson, who is ‘paralyzed by the dreadful shape’. Finally, there is the terrifying description of the savage hound.
The ‘hellish’ appearance comes from the coal-black hound’s enormous size and the description of fire bursting from its open mouth, its eyes glowing with a smouldering glare, its head and neck outlined in a kind of flickering flame.
The huge hound leaps on after Sir Henry Baskerville and, at first, the three men watching are too shocked to do anything, but then Watson and Holmes both fire at the dog and one of them hits him. The hound howls in pain but continues to follow Sir Henry and attacks him. The cry of pain from the creature, however, has shown Holmes and the others that the dog is vulnerable and not immortal, so they race after him and shoot him again, killing him and saving Sir Henry. Holmes has laid the family ghost because he has shown that the hound was not an immortal ghost or hound from hell but a real dog used by a wicked man for his own evil purposes.
The narration is a first-person narration but not by Holmes. It is related through the eyes and mind of Dr Watson. This narration makes it possible for the reader to follow the action and participate as an observer watching the great detective at work. It also means the reader always has an incomplete picture that has to be finally explained by the detective, in a denouement that would not be possible if the detective were relating the story
I’m a manhunter
- She is trying to corrupt the detective by offering to share some of the ‘wealth’ with him.
- He rejects the offer because he is honest and loyal to his employers; he likes his job even if it does not make him rich.
- He likes catching crooks and solving riddles.
- He defines himself as a manhunter.
The girl stands up and jumps to the door, stops, laughs, provokes the detective, takes a step toward the door and finally sits down in surprise; the detective sits up with a gun in his hand, orders the girl to stop, threatens to shoot her and finally shoots the calf of her left leg. Student’s activity. Suggestion: The ending is surprising because the detective shoots the woman in spite of her conviction that he will not and despite the fact he has maybe never shot at a woman before.
The text is written in the first person and the language is colloquial. Hammett builds up his plot mainly on action.
5.23 Rudyard Kipling
- attend school
- short stories
- beast fable
- Nobel Prize
- In his work the British Empire acquired almost a mythical status. He exalted imperial power and believed in the ‘burden’ of the British, who, as the elected race, had to carry civilisation all over the world, to provide order and stability among the natives and to establish their government based on honour and dignity.
- He often employed the device of the ‘frame story’, a narrative form popular at the turn of the century consisting of a story in which several tales are related. This technique was a reaction against the omniscient narrator in favour of a more ambivalent vision of the world. The story is told by a fictional character in different situations: in an army camp, on board ship, in an Indian hut. The ‘frame situation’ is well described and this generally allows the writer to provide an ironic comment on the central story that follows.
T81 The mission of the coloniser
- stanza 1: ideas of predestination, exile, sacrifice and dedication;
- stanza 2: an exercise of patience and humility;
- stanza 3: to put an end to wars, hunger and disease;
- stanza 4: hard work.
Native peoples are described as wild and immature, lazy and inclined to evil (lines 5-8).
Peace, improvement in health and the creation of facilities (see the hints at ports and roads in lines 29-30)
Although Kipling’s imperialism was supported by the belief in the innate superiority of the British race, he regarded it primarily as a moral responsibility. It might also be profitable but its main aim was to pursue the natives’ advantage and happiness. The English should not call upon their own glory but try to defend and protect their colonies from the rival world powers or the threats of home rebellion (lines 9-16).
It can be read as a celebration of the British Empire, which achieved its greatest expansion during the Victorian Age. The author defines the task of the British coloniser as a ‘burden’, that is, the duty, the responsibility to bring civilisation to the colonised and to improve their lives.
5.24 Oscar Wilde
- Picture 1: The novelist, playwright and poet Oscar Wilde was born in 1854 and lived in Merrion Square, Dublin, as a child. He is remembered for his extensive writings, his extraordinary wit and his flamboyant style of dress. This unconventional sculpture is a fitting memorial to his life and art.
- Picture 2: After attending Trinity College in Dublin, Wilde was sent to Oxford, where he gained a first-class degree in Classics and distinguished himself for his eccentricity. He graduated in 1878.
- Picture 3: Wilde became a disciple of Walter Pater, the main theorist of the Aesthetic Movement in England, accepting the theory of ‘Art for Art’s Sake’. After graduating in 1878, he moved to London, where he soon became a celebrity for his extraordinary wit and his characteristic style of dress as a ‘dandy’. In 1881 he was invited to undertake a speaking tour in the United States: his lectures amazed the American audiences and he became famous for his irony, his attitudes and his posing.
- Picture 4: Wilde published his first and only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray in 1891.
- Picture 5: Wilde developed an interest in drama and revived the comedy of manners. In the late 1890s he produced a series of plays which were successful on the London stage: Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895) and his masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). However, both the novel and Salomé (1893), a tragedy written in French, damaged the writer’s reputation: the former was considered immoral, and the latter was prevented from being performed on the London stage due to its presumed obscenity
- Picture 6: In 1891 Wilde’s years of triumph ended dramatically due to a public scandal concerning his relationship with the young poet Lord Alfred Douglas, ‘Bosie’. After the subsequent trial on charges of homosexuality, then illegal in Britain, Wilde was sentenced to two years’ hard labour.
- Picture 7: While in prison, Wilde wrote De Profundis, a long letter to Bosie which was published posthumously in 1905. When he was released, he was a broken man; his wife refused to see him, and he went into exile in France, where he lived out his last years in poverty. The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), originally published under his prison identity, ‘C.3.3’, was his last published work before he died of meningitis in 1900 in a hotel in Paris.
- He adopted the ‘aesthetic ideal’, as he affirmed in one of his famous conversations: ‘My life is like a work of art’.
- He is an aristocrat whose elegance is a symbol of the superiority of his spirit; he uses his wit to shock and he is an individualist who demands absolute freedom.
- He rejects the didacticism that had characterised the Victorian novel in the first half of the century.
- It is the cult of beauty which can prevent the murder of the soul.
- He is an alien in a materialistic world, he writes only to please himself and is not concerned about communicating his theories to his fellow-beings. His pursuit of beauty and fulfilment is the tragic act of a superior being inevitably rejected as an outcast
The Picture of Dorian Gray
- The novel takes place in London at the end of the 19th century
- He is the protagonist of the novel. He is a young man whose beauty fascinates a painter, Basil Hallward, who decides to paint his portrait. He represents the ideal of youth, beauty and innocence. When he first appears in the novel, he is rather immature, but the reader is made aware of his purity and innocence through the narrator’s words. Dorian is considerably influenced by Lord Henry, who teaches him about hedonism, and starts to look for a life of pleasure and sensations. In the end, his vanity and selfishness ruin him, and the portrait provides a visual representation of the degradation of his soul.
- He is an intellectual, a brilliant talker, apparently superficial but extremely sharp in his criticism of institutions, considered sacred by his contemporaries, such as marriage and the Church. He is able to influence Dorian and as the story goes on, Dorian’s speech seems to mimic Lord Henry’s style.
- Because he is afraid that it reflects the strange attraction he feels for Dorian. At the end of the novel he becomes a sad example of how a good artist can be destroyed in a sacrifice for art.
- This story is told by an unobtrusive third-person narrator. The perspective adopted is internal, since Dorian’s apparition is in the second chapter, and this allows a process of identification between the reader and the character.
- It is not an autonomous self: it represents the dark side of Dorian’s personality, his double, which he tries to forget by locking it in a room. At the end of the novel the picture, restored to its original beauty, illustrates Wilde’s theory of art: art survives people, art is eternal.
- It is that every excess must be punished and reality cannot be escaped. When Dorian destroys the picture, he cannot avoid the punishment for all his sins, that is, death. The horrible, corrupted picture could be seen as a symbol of the immorality and bad conscience of the Victorian middle class, while Dorian and his pure, innocent appearance are symbols of bourgeois hypocrisy
T82 The preface
- Match the following concepts with the corresponding lines.
- The artist Lines 1, 18, 20-25, 34.
- The critic Lines 3-5, 32-34.
- Art Lines 2, 11-17, 18-19, 26-31.
- Beauty Lines 6-10.
- Art for Art’s Sake Lines 35-39.
- Tick as appropriate.
- He expresses his intentions.
- He gives guidelines to the reader.
- C The manifesto of the English Aesthetic Movement.
- Because it speaks about the subject of art and the figure of the artist.
- It is the great number of repetitions: ‘art(s)’ and ‘artist’ are repeated 11 times each; ‘beautiful’ is repeated six times; ‘glass’, which is an anticipation of Dorian’s use of the mirror (the symbol of his double personality), appears twice. Anaphoric structures of some clauses, like ‘Those who…’, are used several times.
- B To emphasise the writer’s theme.
- Epigrammatic, abstract, witty.
- Wilde inverts the usual syntactic order to stress the importance of the complement.
- It aims at C giving a universal value to the sentence.
- The artist is the creator of beautiful things, he is not interested in communicating his own ideas to mankind and he writes only to please himself.
According to Wilde, the artist is the creator of beautiful things. He might consider the moral or immoral lives of people as part of the subject matter of his work, but art itself is not meant to teach the public anything. The true artist does not aim at proving anything and he makes no judgements of right or wrong. What people call ‘vices’ or ‘virtues’ are merely materials for the artist. Those who attempt to go beneath the surface of a work, or to find a particular meaning in a symbol, do so at their own risk. Wilde concludes the ‘Preface’ by saying that ‘All art is quite useless’, that is, art exists for its own sake (‘Art for Art’s Sake’) and not for any moral purpose.
T83 The painter’s studio
- Basil’s studio.
- The portrait of a young man.
- Basil Hallward and Lord Henry Wotton.
- Blue words: the setting in place and the description of the room furniture What does the window represent? The huge window is the connecting element between the room and the outside.
- Highlighted in light blue: the characters’ actions
- Highlighted in yellow: the two characters are talking about the portrait of a handsome young man done by the painter and the fact that he does not want to exhibit it
- Highlighted in green: phrases linked to the sense of hearing
- Underlined in blue: phrases linked to the sense of touch
- Highlighted in grey: phrases linked to the sense of sight
- Highlighted in orange: phrases linked to the sense of smell What atmosphere is conveyed? The atmosphere conveyed is sensuous and decadent.
- Pink words: paradoxes voiced by Lord Henry
- This story is told by a thirdperson narrator who is unobtrusive, since he never intervenes in the narration and he never addresses the reader directly.
- How do we learn that he is languid and he smokes opium, that he is cynical and thinks that beauty is shallow?
- A From the character himself we learn that he thinks that beauty is shallow.
- B From the narrator we learn that he is languid and smokes opium.
- C From Basil Hallward we learn that he is cynical.
- Consider Basil Hallward and explain how we learn the following information.
- A He is a talented artist. We learn this from Lord Henry.
- B He is mysterious and once disappeared. We learn this from the narrator.
- What are our expectations of the plot? We know he is strikingly beautiful. Lord Henry comments that such beauty can only be without intellect, so we suspect someone naive.
- Suggestion: Students will hopefully say that they are drawn into the decadent setting of the novel by the sensuous description, by the witty, cynical dialogue and by the mystery of the ideas of beauty and secrecy. If they are not, then they should be able to explain that, perhaps, the setting is too extreme and the dialogue unbelievable or unnatural.
Suggestion: The description of Basil’s studio linked to a rare and sensuous atmosphere; the character of Dorian Gray, whose physical features are the only important things for the painter; the aesthetic isolation of the artist and the idea of art having no reference to life.
The Romantic poet John Keats exalted beauty, which could be both physical (that of women and all other nature’s forms) and spiritual (that of love, friendship and poetry/art). These two aspects of beauty are closely interwoven in his poetry: the former, which is the expression of the latter, is linked to life, enjoyment, decay and death; the latter is related to eternity. Thus an artist can die but his work of art lives forever and can communicate his feelings and its sense of beauty to men. Moreover, Keats identified beauty and truth as the only true types of knowledge. According to Oscar Wilde, the value of any work of art lies in its beauty, and not in the message that the artist wants to convey. The artist writes only to please himself since he is not interested in communicating his feelings and thoughts to his fellow-beings.
T84 Dorian’s death
- In a positive/happy way - it is a lovely warm evening and Dorian is walking home in a leisurely way.
- Because he was not as old and ugly as wicked people always were in her opinion.
- Yes, he would like to be able to change.
- First he blames his own pride and passion, then the fact that he has received no punishment to purify him, and finally his own youth and beauty
- No, he does not. Basil’s murder did not ‘weigh most on his mind’ and he describes it as a moment of madness. Campbell committed suicide, so Dorian does not consider himself guilty of that act.
- He has ‘spared’ an innocent girl and decided that he will never tempt innocence again.
- The look of ‘cunning’ and ‘the hypocrite’ on the portrait tells Dorian that his act of goodness had merely been vanity, or even just another curious search for a new sensation or a consequence of his passion ‘to act a part’ - and his reaction is one of pain and indignation, not of remorse.
- He does not think people will believe him as he has been so careful to get rid of evidence.
- Only by his rings.
- He considers his portrait loathsome (lines 64-65), and he feels sorry and guilty towards his way of behaving.
- He sees it as a reflection of his own soul.
- Before reaching the final decision to destroy the picture, Dorian’s thought follows different steps. Match each of them with the corresponding lines in the text.
- A Nostalgia for his pure boyhood Lines 15-16.
- B Awareness of his corruption Lines 16-20.
- C Recollection of his pact to keep eternal youth Lines 21-23.
- D Wish for repentance and purification Lines 23-25.
- E Awareness that youth and beauty have caused his ruin Lines 34-38.
- F Wish to free himself from the past Lines 39-40, 50.
- G Understanding that repentance was pure illusion Lines 62-76.
- H Decision to destroy the picture Lines 96-99.
He kills himself in stabbing the portrait because the portrait symbolises the dark side of his own soul.
- Consider the examples of associations in lines 7-89 and complete the scheme below. An example has been provided.
- A wicked people:always very old and very ugly (lines 8-9)
- B Dorian’s beauty: but a mask (lines 35-36)
- C Dorian’s youth: but a mockery (line 36)
- D youth: a green and unripe time, a time of shallow moods and sickly thoughts (lines 36-37)
- E the picture: an unjust mirror, the mirror of his soul (line 81)
- F the picture: evidence (line 89)
- Beauty and youth have only caused his ruin.
- They are in lines 50-56.
- References to the mirror are in lines 26-27 and 33-34. It is the symbol of Dorian’s double personality
Some examples: ‘purple’, ‘loathsome’, ‘the scarlet dew that spotted’, ‘like blood newly spilt’, ‘red stain’, ‘to have crept like a horrible disease’, ‘had dripped’. They belong to the semantic area of mystery
Suggestion: The ending is consistent with Wilde’s theories, according to which art is more important than life. In fact it is art that wins at the end of the book, since Dorian Gray dies and the picture recovers all its past perfection.
From Text to Screen: Dorian Gray
In a dark room in the attic of Dorian’s house.
He is Basil Hallward, the man who painted Dorian’s portrait; he is wearing a black suit, a white shirt and a yellow scarf. He seems to be seen through an oval lock; he is out of focus. An arm and the left side of the other character’s body can also be seen in the foreground.
- He is shocked and frightened, he has become pale and seems to stumble.
- He explains that they both have created something beautiful because Dorian has succeeded in keeping his beauty and youth, while it is his painting which shows his sins and the signs of time.
- It is something miraculous.
- In a broken mirror.
- He wants to destroy the picture and, in so doing, help Dorian.
- The devil.
- He states that he has become a god.
- Dorian stabs the painter with a shard of the broken glass.
- What’s the matter? D
- Don’t you recognise me? D
- That thing… It isn’t what… B
- Together, we’ve created something beautiful. D
- It’s a miracle. D
- Because of your painting this will never age, will never scar. D
- Can you even imagine being able to do anything you please… D
- … and live out every whim and impulse, while the world till sees you gleam? D
- Don’t you see that this must be destroyed? B
- We’ll find a priest or a spirit-worker. B
- Long shot: At the beginning of the sequence, when Basil seems to be seen through an oval lock; towards the end of the sequence, when Dorian moves closer to the mirror and Basil says ‘Don’t you see that this must be destroyed?’.
- Medium shot: When Dorian says ‘Look at me. Because of your painting…’; when Dorian says ‘and live out every whim and impulse’.
- Close-up: At the end of the sequence, the closeup on Dorian when Basil says ‘this devil’.
The prevailing colours are dark ones. The atmosphere is mysterious and frightening.
The camera is mainly fixed because what matters most are the words spoken by the two characters.
Suggestion: Throughout the novel Dorian shows a twofold attitude towards the picture. Sometimes he sees it as a reflection of his own soul (as in the film sequence), and sometimes he sees it as endowed with an autonomous life (as in the text from the last chapter of the novel).
The Importance of Being Earnest
- They are two young men, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff; the girls the two men wish to marry, Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew; Cecily’s governess, Miss Prism; and Gwendolen’s mother, Lady Bracknell. They all belong to aristocracy.
- He created a new sort of the Restoration comedy of manners, in which the problems of his age were reflected through his witty remarks. His social drama was a mirror in which fashionable audiences could see reflected the images of their own fashionable world of dinner parties and country-house weekends; a world in which everyone knew very well that the life they led was not as stable, as exclusive or as moral as it pretended to be.
- They are the institution of marriage, and criticism about the Victorian prudery and exaggerated seriousness, hypocrisy and absurdity. Appearance is another important feature of this play
- The whole play is built on witty dialogues, amusing puns, misunderstandings and paradoxes which help deal with the complexity of social and personal identification. The title is a pun in itself: the name ‘Earnest’ (a misspelling for ‘Ernest’) evokes the adjective ‘earnest’, that is, honest or sincere, while none of the characters is truthful. What is important to them is not what they say, but how they say it; thus Wilde’s social satire comes from the ironic use of solemn language in situations that are utterly ridiculous and frivolous.
T85 The interview
- Lady Bracknell’s most important topics are smoking and money.
- Lady Bracknell’s least important topic is family
- Highlighted in yellow: the topics of Jack and Lady Bracknell’s conversation are: smoking, age, education, income, possessions and family
- Highlighted in pink: social clichés revealed by the dialogue Which social class do the two characters belong to? They both belong to the aristocracy.
- Green dots: the woman’s point of view on Jack’s origin
- Underlined in blue: Lady Bracknell’s remarks
What do they reveal about Lady Bracknell? She is bossy and snobbish (lines 2-3), narrow-minded (lines 7-8), thoughtless (lines 11-12) and cynical (lines 16-17, 21, 26-27).
- Highlighted in light blue: paradoxes used by Lady Bracknell
- Highlighted in green: Jack’s concern for upperclass values
- Red dots: what Jack has to do if he wants to marry Gwendolen
- She is frivolous, arrogant, class-conscious and clever in her wit.
- He is ambitious, frivolous, emptyheaded and privileged.
- They reflect verbal humour. The most surprising example of this is in lines 39-40. Its comic effect is created by the confusion of the common meaning of ‘to lose’ and its idiomatic sense in ‘to lose one’s parents’, that is, ‘to be left an orphan’.
- They give information about facial expressions, gestures and tone of voice.
- It is sophisticated, artificial and fit for characters belonging to the upper classes.
5.25 George Bernard Shaw
- city slums
- Shaw described himself as a Puritan reformer who used drama to present his ideas and criticise Victorian institutions. He believed he had a mission - the improvement of society -, and therefore he was concerned about creating social awareness, through ethical themes and lucid characterisation.
- One aspect was a mental tendency he called ‘sentimentalism’ or ‘idealism’, which prevented man from facing up to unpleasant facts; another aspect was the uncritical adulation of Shakespeare. He suggested replacing ‘idealism’ by ‘realism’ and Shakespeare by the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), who, according to Shaw, had presented real life on the stage and had introduced discussion into his plays.
- Shaw’s writing followed upon his long experience as a platform speaker, so that it was as effective when spoken as when read. Facts and arguments are skilfully ordered, and although sentences are usually long and contain several statements, the whole effect is one of speed and simplicity and the tone is generally one of vitality and gaiety. His main devices are the paradox, the inversion of traditional ideas and values, the unexpected, the outspoken truth and exaggeration: his characters say exactly what they think, instead of what is conventionally expected they should say. Stage directions are written in narrative style and are extremely detailed.
- Shaw tried to create a simple, phonetic orthography alphabet, known as the Shavian alphabet, in order to remove some of the difficulties of conventional spelling.
- Shaw invented the ‘drama of discussion or ideas’, where he combined contemporary moral problems with comic, ironic tones and paradoxes. His originality lies in infusing the discussion play with the spirit of the English comedy.
- He was interested in the consequences of capitalism as well as other contemporary problems, such as militarism, the equality of women, the relationship between husband and wife, and religion.
Mrs Warren’s Profession
- The action of most of the play takes place in and around a country cottage in Surrey.
- They are Kitty Warren and her daughter Vivie, a 22-year-old Cambridge graduate. The other characters include Kitty’s friends Sir George Crofts and Mr Praed; Frank Gardner, a young man who is in love with Vivie, and his father, the local vicar.
- The audience gradually learns that Mrs Warren’s life is not ‘respectable’ and that there is some doubt as to the identity of Vivie’s father.
- It ends with the brilliant scene in which Vivie confronts her mother with a demand for information about her past. In this exchange the girl learns that Mrs Warren chose prostitution as a trade because it offered more security and better conditions than any others which were open to her as an uneducated working-class girl. This act ends with Vivie having gained new respect for her mother.
- Mrs Kitty Warren was born in poverty. Over the years she was able to become a financially secure lady thanks to her work in prostitution, which was the result of economic necessity, not of moral weakness. She has a daughter, Vivie, but does not have much contact with her. Because of her profession, Kitty is separated both from her family and from respectable Victorian society. Vivie Warren has received an excellent education paid for by her mother. She is an emancipated woman; she is rational and self-reliant. She is different from her mother because she does not need money to buy beautiful dresses and go to parties, but to be successful and gain independence.
- The public was shocked by the content of this play. Reviewers condemned the play as immoral, because of its thesis that prostitution was forced on women by the economic system rather than being the product of corrupt self-indulgence.
- It is a deliberately provocative attack on the 19thcentury issue of sexual morality in marriage.
- It is to cause his mainly middle-class audience to reconsider all their accepted ideas about the employment of women, who were widely exploited at that time.
- It symbolises the relation of the individual to society.
T86 Mother and daughter
- starvation wages
- set yourself up above
- She suddenly breaks out in her natural dialect speaking with heartfelt inspiration and scorn (lines 1-4).
- She uses the dialect of a woman from the slums (lines 1-2).
- It is Vivie’s presumptuous attitude towards her (lines 1, 4-7).
- She calls her ‘bad daughter’ and shows all the passionate dislike and scorn of a woman of the people for those stuck-up prudes as she calls Vivie (lines 6-7).
- Vivie’s self-possession begins to break down (lines 8-10).
- She is about to tell her the story of her life.
- Women who have a turn for music, or the stage, or newspaper-writing can get the money to keep themselves dressed as well. (Lines 19-22)
- Neither Mrs Warren nor her sister Liz had any turn for those things. (Line 22)
- They only had their appearance and their turn for pleasing men. (Line 23)
- Therefore, they decided to trade themselves and get all the profits instead of starvation wages. (Lines 23-26)
- Respectable women could only aspire to catch some rich man’s fancy and get the benefit of his money by marrying him. (Lines 28-30)
- Kitty Warren also states that she despises respectable people because of their want of character. (Lines 31-34)
- She has often pitied poor girls as they always have to please some man even if they are tired and in low spirits (lines 38-41).
- They would be scrubbing floors for one and sixpence a day and they would have nothing to look forward to but the workhouse infirmary (lines 60-62).
- It is to be good to some man that can afford to be good to her (lines 63-64).
- She gazes at her ‘fascinated’ (line 68).
|Mrs Warren’s past||Mrs Warren’s reactions|
|She was not brought up like her daughter. She had harsh experiences during her youth and she refused to work as a shop girl, barmaid and waitress.||She accepted her sister’s advice on how to become a financially secure lady. She started to trade on her appearance and her ability to please men. She did everything she could to reach independence and self-respect in order to become a ‘conventional’ mother|
She is a second-class mother: she has money, so she entrusts Vivie’s education and upbringing to the people whose business it is to make distinguished scholars and proper young ladies. Her ambitions are conventional, but she represents the women’s struggle for independence and self-respect at a time when women were widely exploited. She also wants her daughter to have a better chance in life than the one she has had.
Shaw is not only attacking the pitiful and degrading level of women’s wages which forces them to consider prostitution, but he is also making a direct comparison between prostitution and its respectable counterpart in marriage equating them with a similar economic dependence of women on men. This is shown in the text by Mrs Warren’s speech and in particular when she says ‘The only way for a woman to provide for herself decently is for her to be good to some man that can afford to be good to her. If she’s in his own station of life, let her make him marry her; but if she’s far beneath him she can’t expect it: why should she?’ (lines 63-65).
- This scene presents a peculiar side of her personality. Tick as appropriate to describe it.
- She is aggressive.
- She is extremely rational and full of contempt for whatever cannot be justified by her practical reasoning.
- She represents the literary type of the emancipated woman.
- She succeeds in respecting, admiring, loving Kitty as her mother even if she decided to take to prostitution rather than accept the economic slavery of a ‘respectable’ working-class life.
They highlight the two characters’ feelings and reactions, their moods and way of speaking.
Natural, simple, realistic, modern.
|Conventional morality||Real state of things|
|‘conventional authority of a mother’ (line 11); ‘conventional superiority of a respectable woman’ (lines 11-12); ‘I shall always respect your right to your own opinions’ (lines 13-14)||a bad daughter and a stuck-up prude’ (lines 6-7); ‘if youre a plain woman … pleasing men’ (lines 20-23); ‘to catch some rich man’s fancy … by marrying him’ (line 29)|
Vivie embodies the code of conventional morality and hypocrisy, Mrs Warren that of reality
The characters are identified with particular ideas and social institutions and say exactly what they think, instead of what is conventionally expected they should say. The dialogue is skilfully employed by the playwright to present his views on contemporary problems, like the exploitation of working-class women. The stage directions are very long and detailed
Suggestion: Students should develop the following notes:
- The Importance of Being Earnest Dramatic techniques: irony; witty remarks; limited stage directions Characters: static and flat; stereotypes Themes: social snobbery; the institution of marriage as a practice surrounded by hypocrisy and absurdity Language: witty, brilliant dialogues; amusing puns; misunderstandings; paradoxes; solemn language in situations that are utterly ridiculous and frivolous
- Mrs Warren’s Profession Dramatic techniques: irony; very long, detailed stage directions written in narrative style Characters: realistic; mouthpieces of the playwright’s ideas Themes: criticism against Victorian values, the consequences of capitalism, the equality of women Language: realistic; witty; aggressive; paradoxes; exaggerations; the Shavian alphabet.
Is teaching to a student’s ‘learning style’ a bad idea?
- thrive on
- He realised that different students can have different difficulties at school. In fact, while he was very good at reading on his own but found it hard to read in front of his classmates, other pupils in his class were good at oral presentations but had difficulty in reading a text on their own or in following lectures.
- The idea that has become increasingly widespread in recent years is that there are different learning styles, which can vary from student to student.
- He believes that learners can be divided, according to their personality, into those who learn best actively and those who learn best by observing. He also says that some need concrete concepts while others learn through abstract ones.
- According to the article, holistic learners learn best from seeing something in its entirety, not in stages, one point at a time.
- In a research project to find similarities between all the different theories about learning style, the University of London discovered that only three tests stood up to their criteria and no overall model for learning styles.
- LearningRx was founded in 2002 by a pediatric optometrist called Ken Gibson and is a tutoring organisation that bases its educational assistance on the individual learning styles of the students, which can vary according to their specific cognitive strengths.
- The three different learning styles described in the fifth paragraph are: visual learning for those who need to see images or slideshows; auditory for those who need to listen to information; and kinaesthetic for those who need something practical, like building a model, in order to learn efficiently.
- He uses the comparison of a basketball team where different players may play in a different way but the learning process has been similar. His point is that cognitive ability is the key, not the learning style.
- According to Willingham, teaching styles should depend on the object of the lesson. He gives as an example a lesson about the geography of South America: in this case, he explains, it is much more efficient to use a map than to describe the continent in words.
- The article explains clearly that there are different learning styles but does not conclude that teaching should be catered to match these styles. The point that emerges from the article is that although students undoubtedly learn in different ways, it is the material used in teaching and the cognitive ability of the students that count most.
Another Brick in the Wall Part 2 - Pink Floyd
It is ungrammatical to use a double negative. Using it here makes an even stronger negative impression and is also ironic because education is all about teaching children to use grammar correctly. Another layer of meaning is also added because this is a common mistake made by small children, so it conveys the point of view of a child.
The wall could have different meanings. It obviously represents obstacles in life and the metaphorical wall that can exist between children and teachers or children and adults in general. It may also represent the lack of understanding in society towards those in difficulty, or represent what is expected of children - the idea that education is all about building up a wall of respectability
The song is about the lack of understanding and tolerance in society. It is a cry of alarm and a cry for help as the phrase ‘We don’t need no education’ is so blatantly untrue. It is especially those who feel isolated or emarginated who need to be helped, educated and accepted.
- ‘We don’t need no thought control’ This is a comment on how schools teach children to conform and try to stamp out original or imaginative initiatives.
- ‘dark sarcasm in the classroom’ This is a comment on teaching styles where teachers use sarcasm as a tool to discipline their difficult classes.
A teacher’s testament
- He believes that education is not just the filling of empty minds, or teachers talking about useless things or even preparing students for the world outside school.
- According to Tom, education is about students resisting teachers, opposing them. It is a difficult and long process that has no magic solution but a slow fight, an uphill battle.
- He decided to become a teacher after his experiences in the Second World War. He loved history and, seeing so much destruction around him, he wanted to do something to rebuild civilisation.
- He refers to it as an artifice because it is something that he believes has to be constructed and built up again and again when it is knocked down.
- We know that he is a rebel because Tom refers to his ‘skull-face’ and to the ‘Holocaust Club’ that Price has set up.
- According to Tom, history teaches children that they will grow up to be like their parents and to make the same mistakes that their parents made.
- Tom believes that the young should try to resist the inevitable and even if they do end up like their parents, their struggle to resist is important.
- He is concerned that Tom does not seem to have any of his ideals or enthusiasm about teaching left and feels that children inevitably go on to make the same mistakes as their parents.
- In which ways is education a ‘fight against fear’? The fear which is referred to is that it is all meaningless, so the point of education is to find a meaning through all channels including history
- The headmaster calls Tom a ‘tired old cynic’ but Tom’s view seems very realistic and practical. He entered the profession with the specific idea of rebuilding a civilisation that he believed in and he sees the role of his students as that of preserving in some way this state of affairs, or at least not letting it get worse. He avoids all the clichéd expressions about education and ends up by saying it is merely a way to find a meaning to life.
- constitutional monarchy
- universal suffrage
- secret ballot
- humanitarian causes
- exert influence
- survival of a species
- gold rush
- regrouping of the parties
- purchase of shares
- compulsory education
- white man’s burden
- The Chartists were a group of working-class radicals who, in 1838, drew up a People’s Charter demanding equal electoral districts, universal male suffrage, a secret ballot, paid MPs, annually elected Parliaments and abolition of the property qualifications for membership. No one in power was ready for such democracy and the Chartist movement failed. However, their influence was later felt when, in 1867, the Second Reform Act enfranchised part of the urban male working class in England and Wales for the first time and, in 1872, the secret ballot was introduced with the Ballot Act.
- A typical Victorian family is shown in their garden. The values embodied are respectability and the importance of the family. The middle and upper classes liked to see themselves as respectable following the example set by the royal family, where Victoria and Albert became the living image of respectability. There was general agreement on the virtues of asserting a social status, keeping up appearances and looking after a family. These things were ‘respectable’.
- It shows Queen Victoria Empress of India with her personal attendant. She was given this title in 1877. In the last decades of the 19th centurythe British Empire was an immense collection of colonies and was becoming more difficult to control. By 1850 the East India Company directly ruled most of northern, central and south-eastern India. In the late Victorian period the new imperial government became more ambitious and through free market economics it destroyed traditional farming and caused the deindustrialisation of India.
- The struggle with France at the beginning of the 19th century had led to Britain’s global hegemony. However, since Waterloo, Britain’s foreign policy had been defensive. Many areas of the world were characterised by political and cultural fragmentation and it was there that Britain began to gain control without major political intervention. This was the situation in South America, in Asia and most of all in Africa, where Britain competed with the other European countries to divide up the continent. In South Africa, by the 1870s, the British controlled two colonies, Cape Colony and Natal, while the Dutch settlers, the Boers, had the two republics of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. When Britain took over Transvaal in 1877, the Boers rebelled and war broke out. The Boer Wars (1880-1902) ended in 1902 with a British victory.
- They were miserable due to poverty, overcrowding and the lack of hygiene.
- 1870 The Education Act started a national system by introducing ‘board schools’, mainly in the poorer areas of the towns.
- 1871 The Trade Union Act introduced the legalisation of trade unions.
- 1872 The Ballot Act introduced the secret ballot at elections.
- 1875 The Artisans’ and Labourers’ Dwellings Act allowed local public authorities to clear the slums and provided housing for the poor. A Public Health Act provided sanitation as well as running water.
- 1878 A Factory Act limited the working hours per week.
- 1884 The Third Reform Act extended voting to all male householders, including miners, millworkers and farm labourers. This extension of the franchise gave public opinion an important role as a political force.
- Gap between the North and the South
- Constant increase of white population in the North due to immigration 4 million black slaves in the South ->
- Several northern States adopted emancipation.
- The international demand for cotton meant the economy of the South continued to rely on slave labour Northern abolitionists organised themselves into the Republican Party, which demanded that slavery be excluded from all territories of the Union ->
- The Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election in 1860
- Soon after, 11 southern States seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America War followed because Lincoln, supported by a majority of northerners, refused to concede that any American State had the constitutional right to withdraw from the Union. The Civil War broke out in 1861 and lasted four years. Slavery was abolished in 1865
- the relationship between the writer and his readers; There was, for the first time, a communion of interests and opinions between writers and their middle-class readers. Novels were first published in instalments, which allowed the writer to have an immediate feedback from his public.
- the novelist’s aim; Didactic.
- the setting; Mainly urban - the city was the main symbol of the industrial civilisation as well as the expression of anonymous lives and lost identities.
- the characters; Realistic characters the public could easily identify with, in terms of comedy - especially Dickens’s characters - or dramatic passion - the Brontë sisters’ heroines.
- the narrator. The omniscient narrator provided a comment on the plot and erected a rigid barrier between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ behaviours.
|The novel of manners||William M. Thackeray||It dealt with economic and social problems and described a particular class or situation.|
|The humanitarian novel||Charles Dickens||It combined humour with a sentimental request for reform for the less fortunate. It could be divided into novels of a ‘realistic’, ‘fantastic’ or ‘moral’ nature according to their predominant tone or issue dealt with.|
|The novel of formation||Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters||It dealt with one character’s development from early youth to some sort of maturity|
|Literary nonsense||Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll||It created a nonsensical universe where the social rules and conventions are disintegrated, the cause-effect relationship does not exist, and time and space have lost their function of giving an order to human experience.|
|The realistic novel||Thomas Hardy, George Eliot||It mirrored a society linked to a growing crisis in the moral and religious fields. Coincidences were fully exploited to solve the intricacies of the plot, and chance played a Darwinian role.|
|The psychological novel||Robert Louis Stevenson||It tried to capture the monstrous, illogical aspects of life and described the double nature of Victorian society.|
- all reality was seen as a single unity (oneness and multiplicity were the same thing), a concept which well suited the reality of the ‘melting pot’, of a country where people from all over the world formed a national unity;
- contact with nature was the best means to reach truth and awareness of the unity of all things;
- the ‘over-soul’ was the spiritual principle linking everything together;
- man was the emanation of the over-soul, and the emphasis lay on his individuality, on his selfeducation. This philosophy encouraged an optimistic and self-reliant point of view, which found expression particularly in the poems of Walt Whitman and the works of Henry David Thoreau, who, in 1849, published his essay Civil Disobedience, where he stated his belief in the individual’s right to resist the power and the laws of the State when they were in conflict with his own honest, moral convictions.
- It developed in the universities and intellectual circles in the last decades of the 19th century. It began in France with Théophile Gautier
- It reflected the sense of frustration and uncertainty of the artist; his reaction against the materialism, monotony, vulgarity and restrictive moral code of the bourgeoisie; and his need to redefine the role of art.
- ‘Art for Art’s Sake’.
- He lived unconventionally, pursuing sensation and excess, and cultivating art and beauty.
- It was imported there by the American painter James McNeill Whistler, but its roots can be traced back to the Romantic poet John Keats, the Pre-Raphaelite Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the art critic John Ruskin.
- Walter Pater
- It was hedonistic, sensuous, disenchanted with contemporary society and very much self-centred.
- He chose sensual and sometimes perverse subjects.
- It was evocative.
6. The Modern Age
6.1 From the Edwardian Age to the First World War
- health insurance
- hunger strike
- sickness benefits
- protest marches
- Welfare State
- The British Empire covered a fifth of the total land of the globe, British towns were the wealthiest in Europe and British ships carried 80 per cent of world trade. However, British power was being challenged by technical innovation in France and Germany, and growing industrial competition in America, especially in the emergent industries of cars, cinema and aviation. Moreover, other European countries had imperial ambitions.
- It was similar to Victorian society. Class distinctions were well defined and preserved, and serious poverty affected a large proportion of the population.
- Who were the Liberals and what did they believe in? The Liberals were divided into two groups: those who supported the traditional liberal values of laissez-faire and self-help, and those who supported New Liberalism, which was in favour of certain forms of State intervention in social life.
- He laid down the foundations of the Welfare State through a series of measures bringing in an old-age pension of one to five shillings for people over 70, free meals and regular medical inspections in schools, minimum wages, free medical treatment and sickness benefits for workers, unemployment benefits and health insurance for the workers of important industries.
- The 1911 Parliament Act removed the Lords’ right to veto money bills passed in the Commons: they could only delay them for two years.
- They held large protest marches in London, chained themselves to railings, broke windows, hit and spat at policemen.
- Austria began bombing Belgrade, the German Kaiser declared war on Russia and then on France.
- When did Britain declare war on Germany? Britain declared war on Germany when Germany violated Belgian neutrality. In fact Britain, which had participated in the creation of Belgium in 1831 and had guaranteed its neutrality, now faced the threat of a commercial blockade due to the aggressive presence of the German navy in the North Sea and the Channel.
- Signed with France in 1904, this agreement established that Britain could pursue its interests in Egypt, and France in Morocco.
- Passed in 1911, this act made it impossible for the Lords to veto money bills passed in the Commons; they could only delay them for two years. The act also stated that general elections would be held at least every five years.
- It was an organisation, founded by Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903, that wanted women to have the vote and soon won massive publicity for its cause.
- The British Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister David Lloyd George is delivering a speech, probably a patriotic one.
- The picture shows a Suffragette - Una Dugdale - campaigning in front of a small crowd of men in 1908. Several militants chained themselves to railings and were arrested by the police. When sent to prison, they often went on hunger strike.
- British power was threatened by emerging European economies
- Britain’s supremacy at sea was contrasted by the Germannavy
- King Edward VII’s diplomacy created a new alignment ofEuropean countries
- The Welfare State began through a series of measuresagainst sickness and unemployment
- The House of Lords could not reject a bill about money
- The Suffragettes held marches so as to gain support totheir cause
- Austria attacked Belgrade after the assassination of FranzFerdinand by a Serbian nationalist
6.2 Britain and the First World War
- barbed wire
- war of attrition
- machine guns
- wear down
- 1914 September Great battle on the River Marne in France which stopped the German advance.
- 1915 May The British passenger liner Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat; Italy joined France and Britain; London was bombed by the German Zeppelin airship.
- 1916 April Easter Rising in Dublin regarding the fight for Irish independence. July Battle of the Somme - the bloodiest battle in British history and a perfect example of the war of attrition.
- 1917 April The USA joined the war. July George V changed the name of the British royal family from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha into Windsor. October The Bolsheviks seized power in Russia; the Italian army collapsed at the Battle of Caporetto.
- 1918 September Attack of British artillery on the German Hindenburg Line. October The Germans began to retreat along the Western Front. November Armistice and end of the war.
- 1919 Peace treaty of Versailles, which stipulated the Allied occupation of the Rhineland, unilateral disarmament and heavy financial reparation of ‘war guilt’ for Germany
- Mainly volunteers. The Empire made its contribution sending troops from the dominions as well as volunteers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
- Home Rule had been voted by the Commons in 1914 but had been suspended until the end of the war. The leaders of the insurrection received support from Germany and seized the General Post Office and other buildings in the centre of the city. The rebellion was repressed. The Irish Republican party Sinn Féin, which was fighting for the reunification of Ireland, began to grow in popularity exploiting the fear the Irish had that military conscription might extend to Ireland.
- Because huge battles were fought which aimed at killing soldiers and wearing out the enemy rather than winning strategic objectives or seizing resources.
- It was very stressful because of mud, lack of hygiene, boredom and fear of gas. So the soldiers relieved the stress by means of superstition, religion, poetry, letters and drink.
- It brought about German withdrawal from occupied territory and allowed national self-determination, but included no punishment for the country
- It was an international organisation proposed by President Woodrow Wilson, with its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, which was to act as a forum for resolving international disputes.
- volunteering At the beginning of the war the British army was enlarged thanks to volunteers. Conscription was introduced in 1916.
- Irish nationalism Irish nationalists organised an insurrection in Dublin, the so-called Easter Rising, because Home Rule had been suspended until the end of the war. war of attrition Huge battles were fought not to win strategic objectives or seize resources, but to kill soldiers and wear down the enemy.
- modern warfare New weapons were introduced, like tanks, machine guns and poison gas, and war was fought in the trenches.
- Hindenburg Line It was a series of German trenches believed to be impenetrable. It was conquered by the Allies in the autumn of 1918.
- Armistice Day It commemorates the day the guns fell silent, on 11th November 1918. It is also called ‘Remembrance Day’ or ‘Poppy Day’.
Internet Point: New warfare
- Focus on chemical warfare and find information about:
- when and where the German troops launched the first chlorine gas attack, defying an international treaty that banned the use of chemical weapons; German troops used chlorine gas for the first time on a mass scale during combat on the Western Front near the Flemish city of Ypres in Belgium in April 1915.
- the consequences of gas weapons. The most widely used, mustard gas, could kill by blistering the lungs and throat if inhaled in large quantities. Its effect on masked soldiers, however, was to produce terrible blisters all over the body as it soaked into their woollen uniforms. Contaminated uniforms had to be stripped off as fast as possible and washed - not exactly easy for men under attack on the front line.
- Collect information about guns, rifles and grenades employed by soldiers on both sides and state what harm artillery caused between attacks. Between attacks, the snipers, artillery, and poison gas caused misery and death. Both the Allies and the Germans used a variety of big guns. Artillery shells killed more men in the war than any other weapon. Hidden miles behind the front line, field guns fired millions of shells into enemy trenches before big battles. The most significant technological advance during World War I was the improvement of the machine gun. The Germans recognised its military potential and had large numbers ready to use in 1914. They also developed air-cooled machine guns for aeroplanes and improved those used on the ground, making them lighter and easier to move. The weapon’s full potential was demonstrated on the Somme battlefield in July 1916 when German machine guns killed or wounded almost 60,000 British soldiers in only one day.
- Find information about the role of the tank in WWI. The tank was the answer to standstill in the trenches. Tanks were equipped with machine guns and sometimes light cannon. They worked effectively on dry ground and they were able to crush barbed wire and cross trenches.
- Focus on air warfare and explain:
- what aeroplanes were first used for; At first they were used only to observe enemy troops.
- what the Germans and the Allies armed planes with; In 1916 the Germans started to arm planes with machine guns. The Allies soon armed their aeroplanes the same way, and war in the air became a deadly business.
- what the wild air battles were called. They were called ‘dogfights’.
- Collect information about naval warfare and state:
- what the British scientists developed to locate and sink the German submarines, the U-boats; They developed underwater listening devices and underwater explosives called ‘depth charges’. Warships became faster and more powerful than ever before and used newly invented radios to communicate effectively.
- how the British naval blockade of Germany was made possible; It was made possible by developments in naval technology.
- what its consequences were. The blockade caused a famine that brought about the collapse of Germany and its allies in late 1918. Starvation and malnutrition continued to take the lives of German people for years after the war
6.3 The age of anxiety
|anxious certain disillusioned cynical rootless frustrated||anxiety certainty disillusionment cynicism rootlessness frustration|
Disillusioned and cynical mood due to the loss of many lives; frantic search for pleasure; sense of guilt for the horrors of trench warfare; loss of purpose; widening of the gap between the generation of the young and the older one, regarded as responsible for the terrible waste of lives during the war; increasing rootlessness and frustration, due to the slow dissolution of the Empire into the Commonwealth, led to a transformation of the notions of imperial hegemony and white superiority
- Name: Sigmund Freud. Main concern: The human psyche. New theory: The power of the unconscious to affect behaviour; the importance of infantile sexuality; the interpretation of dreams; the concept of free associations.
- Name: Carl Gustav Jung. Main concern: The collective unconscious. New theory: Cultural memory containing the universal images and beliefs of the human race, which operates on a symbolic level.
- Name: Albert Einstein. Main concern: The concepts of time and space. New theory: Theory of relativity: time and space are seen as subjective dimensions.
- Name: William James. Main concern: The concept of time. New theory: The mind records every single experience as a continuous flow of ‘the already’ into ‘the not yet’.
- Name: Henri Bergson. Main concern: The concept of time. New theory: Distinction between historical time, which is external, linear and measured in terms of the spatial distance travelled by a pendulum or the hands of a clock, and psychological time, which is internal, subjective and measured by the relative emotional intensity of a moment.
- Name: Sir James George Frazer. Main concern: Anthropology; primitive societies. New theory: Relativist standpoint applied to religious and ethical systems.
- Name: Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche. Main concern: Rejection of Christian morality. New theory: ‘God is dead’ and therefore people are free to create their own values; belief in human power and perfectibility
CLIL Philosophy: A window on the unconscious
- The founder of psychoanalysis: He tried to treat mental illness by focusing on the contents of the mind rather than the workings of the brain.
- Birth: He was born in 1856 to a Jewish family in Freiberg, a city now in the Czech Republic, but then part of the Austrian Empire.
- Family life: He did not get on well with his father; his half-brothers were considerably older and his closest childhood companion was his nephew John. The love-hate relationship, such as the one between the young John and Sigmund, is a central part of Freud’s theories.
- Neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot: He introduced Freud to the idea that mentally-ill patients might have a problem with their mind, rather than their brain functions.
- In the 1900s Freud’s work in psychoanalysis began. He came up with several concepts such as the id, the ego and the superego, as well as Freudian slips, free association and the Oedipus complex.
- In 1938 he decided to leave Vienna after it was annexed by Nazi Germany. He died the following year in London.
The picture shows a symbolic representation of the human mind as an iceberg according to Freud’s view of the conscious and unconscious mind. Freud studied the importance of the unconscious in the understanding of conscious thought and behaviour. He called dreams the ‘royal road to the unconscious’ because they were a means of revealing the workings of the unconscious mind. He developed his first theory of the psyche in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), in which he stated that the unconscious is where dreams and all the automatic thoughts that arise spontaneously without a recognisable cause are formed. The unconscious is where the forgotten memories lie in a dormant state and they may become accessible to the conscious mind at a later time. It is also the container of implicit knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation.
Freud believed that our personality develops through interaction between the three main parts of the human mind - the id, ego and superego -, which are in constant conflict. Here are their characteristics:
- Id: the most primitive; contains the inherited components of personality; operates entirely unconsciously; not related to the external world; does not change with time or experience.
- Ego: rational, pragmatic part; less primitive than the id; both conscious and unconscious; ‘reason’ and ‘common sense’; a set of psychic functions.
- Superego: social rules and morals; ‘conscience’; develops around the age of 3-5; consists of two systems: the conscience (which can make the ego feel guilty) and the ideal self (which creates an imaginary picture of how you ought to be and behave in society).
- Freud’s theory of psychic conflict; He believed that a common source of psychic conflict derived from sexual fantasies in childhood.
- the main points behind the Oedipus complex. All small boys between the ages of 3 and 5 choose their mother as their primary object of desire. They subconsciously wish to usurp their father and become their mother’s lover. This stage is an important point in the formation of sexual identity. The analogous experience for girls is known as the Electra complex. The child suspects that acting on these feelings would lead to danger, thus he/she represses his/her desires. This leads to anxiety. In order to resolve the conflict, the boy then identifies with his father and the girl with her mother. It is at this point that the superego is formed.
- They founded the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1908.
- He stressed the importance of the aggression with which those people who lack some quality they desire express their discontent. ‘Inferiority complex’, a much abused term, is Adlerian.
- It is divided into three main parts: the ego, the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious.
- what the ego represents; It represents the conscious mind, since it includes the thoughts, memories and the emotions a person is aware of.
- It is essentially the same as Freud’s unconscious: it contains memories that have been suppressed for some reason but it does not include the instincts that Freud included.
- It is a reservoir of our experiences as a species, a knowledge we are all born with but which we can never be directly conscious of. It influences all human experiences and behaviours.
- what the archetypes are; They are the contents of the collective unconscious. They have a universal meaning and are linked to dreams, literature, art or religion.
- It is the basis of the human psyche, influencing present behaviour.
- The ‘persona’ (or mask) is the public face or role a person presents to the world. Another archetype is the ‘anima’/‘animus’, which refers to the female aspect of man psyche and the male aspect of woman psyche. Next is the ‘shadow’, sex and life instincts (like the id in Freud). It is the source of both our creative and destructive energies. Finally there is the ‘self’, which is the ultimate unity of the personality and is symbolised by the circle. For Jung, the ultimate aim of every individual is to achieve a state of self-actualisation.
Students should consider the following points about Freud’s psychoanalysis:
- it helps individuals to become aware of the factors determining their emotions and behaviour;
- it helps overcome unhappiness;
- it increases self-esteem;
- it helps trace back one’s origins;
- it is a method for learning how the mind works;
- it contributes to child education;
- it creates an intimate relationship with the therapist;
- it creates dependence;
- it can be more easily replaced by talking to friends or relatives;
- it creates a sort of spiral which is difficult to get out of. Moreover, students could be encouraged to mention and quote the authors or artists they have studied on whom Freud’s influence is most evident. Changes within society should also be highlighted.
6.4 The inter-war years
- aimed at
- went bankrupt
- took on
- set up
- turned to
- declared war on
- The Empire: The effort the dominions of the British Empire had made during the war created expectations of reward. In 1926 an imperial conference created a new entity from the dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa with the name of ‘Commonwealth’. In 1931 the Statute of Westminster formally granted the sovereign right of each dominion to control its own domestic and foreign affairs and to establish its own diplomatic corps. India suffered regional and religious tensions and saw a rising support for the Nationalist Congress Party; the Government of India Act in 1935 established self-government at a provincial level.
- Ireland: The Sinn Féin party set up an independent Parliament in Dublin in 1919. The nationalist Irish Volunteers became the IRA and then declared open war on Britain in 1920. In 1921 the Irish Free State was established, and after the civil war of 1922 the anti-Treaty faction, who wanted the inclusion of the six counties of Ulster in the Republican Ireland, was defeated.
- Unemployment: It was a consequence of the failure of banks due to the Wall Street Crash of 1929, but it was also due to the war, which had damaged Britain’s position as the biggest exporter of manufactured goods.
- Gap between North and South: The once powerful industrial North became depressed and challenged by new growing automobile, chemical and electrical goods industries in the South and the Midlands. Restoring demand to the iron and steel industries began with rearmament in 1936.
- Funding rearmament: The British government shifted spending onto the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy at the expense of the army. Threats to peace: Benito Mussolini’s attack on Abyssinia; Hitler’s Nazi Party’s rise to power; the Civil War in Spain; the Japanese attack on China; Hitler’s invasion of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland.
- Following an imperial conference that had established the Commonwealth in 1926, in 1931 this statute formally granted the sovereign right of each dominion to control its own domestic and foreign affairs and to establish its own diplomatic corps.
- The independent Parliament set up in Dublin by Sinn Féin after their victory at the 1918 election in Ireland.
- The Irish Republican Army which replaced the Irish Volunteers. It organised terrorist attacks that were brutally met by a special British police force, the ‘Black and Tans’.
- A day in 1920 when the ‘Black and Tans’ shot 12 dead at a football match in Dublin.
- The popular young king, Edward VIII, who had succeeded his father George V, wanted to marry a twice divorced American woman. Prime Minister Baldwin forced his abdication on the grounds that he could not marry her and keep the throne. The king’s brother succeeded as George VI.
6.5 The Second World War
- aircraft carriers
- civilian targets
- iron ore supply
- 1940 Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium fell; the Germans headed for Paris; British retreat to Dunkirk; Japan overran Hong Kong and Burma and began to threaten Singapore and India; Battle of Britain; the ‘Blitz’.
- 1941 British retreat in Africa; Germany declared war on the Soviet Union; the USA joined the conflict after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; Germany declared war on America. 1942 Battle of Midway Island; victory of Montgomery’s army at El-Alamein in North Africa.
- 1943 The Allies landed in Italy; Battle of Stalingrad.
- 1944 Rome fell; Allied troops landed in Normandy, an event known as ‘D-Day’; Battle of the Bulge in the Belgian Ardennes.
- 1945 The Soviet Red Army liberated Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Austria and the eastern fringes of Germany; Hitler committed suicide; the Germans surrendered; Yalta Conference in Crimea; explosion of two atomic bombs on the Japanese towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Japan surrendered.
- The failure to get control of the air over Britain.
- The decision to invade the Soviet Union.
- The US entry into the war.
- Montgomery’s success in Africa.
- The Battle of Stalingrad.
- D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.
- The advance of the Soviet Red Army
- Hitler’s ambitious plan of invading Britain in 1940: Germany’s air force had to defeat Britain’s in order to open the way for the sea invasion.
- The fight between the RAF and the Luftwaffe bombers in the skies over Sussex and Kent in 1940. It was won by Britain.
- Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, which consumed Germany’s resources for the rest of the war.
- The Allied invasion of Western Europe which began with the opening of a front in France in 1944.
- The day of the landing of a large Allied amphibious force on the beaches of Normandy, on 6th June 1944.
- The meeting in Crimea in February 1945 where US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin made important decisions concerning the future progress of the war and the post-war world.
- TRUE (paragraph A)
- TRUE (paragraph D)
- FALSE (paragraph B)
- NOT GIVEN
- air force
- to Britain
- the positions
- really enjoyed;
- of Sicily
- B false information to the Germans about an Allied landing
- C a jazz singer
- C using invisible ink and hiding material in her clothing.
- A she risked her life for something she believed in. Complete the flow chart about Christine Granville
- England (with her husband)
6.6 The USA in the first half of the 20th century
- assembly plant
- the contradictions within American society at the end of the 19th century and in the early 20th century; By the end of the 19th century the United States had become the richest country in the world, with its economic power based on agricultural prosperity, massive industrialoutput, the rich mineral resources available and the rise of ‘trusts’, the huge corporations of firms in the same trade, which gradually came to dominate the market. The economic boom, however, had not prevented the spread of poverty. In the industrial areas of the North workers lived in dirty, overcrowded slums, and toiled long hours for low wages. In the early years of the 20th century many national problems, like the conditions of life in the city slums or corruption in government, were brought to light by books and articles written by investigative journalists called ‘muckrakers’.
- the key points of Theodore Roosevelt’s home and foreign policy; He made the navy stronger, insisted on the regulation of trusts and carried out a moderate programme of social legislation. He pursued a policy of imperial expansion. After the Spanish-American War (1898) the United States acquired most of its overseas empire, including Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines. In the same period the USA also annexed Hawaii and supported the revolt for independence of Panama from Colombia. The territory was finally granted to the Americans. Imperialism, however, was regarded as contrary to the democratic values of the American Constitution. This is why the United States gradually began to grant independence to its dominions except for Cuba, where it maintained the control of Guantánamo Bay to build a large naval base.
- the reasons for America’s involvement in World War I. The reasons for America’s entry into the war can be found in the attacks the German submarines were making on American ships.
- Because the economy grew quickly, vast resources were invested to create new industries, there was little competition from Europe, the population was increasing and taxes on profits and industries were cut by the Republican government. The economic prosperity gave rise to a feeling of euphoria and experimentation in music, dance and fashion, from which the name ‘Roaring Twenties’.
- It expressed the fear of Socialism in the 1920s that led to the imprisonment and persecution of political activists with radical or labour backgrounds.
- A revival of puritanical attitudes banned the manufacture and sale of alcohol. This drastic step, known as ‘Prohibition’, was taken to fight the problem of alcohol addiction among the poor
- The 1929 Wall Street Crash marked the end of the prosperous Twenties and the beginning of the Great Depression. Thousands of businessmen were ruined, and millions of common people who had invested their savings in shares found themselves facing debt and ruin. Factories shut down, banks crashed, goods piled up in warehouses. Nearly 8 million Americans were unemployed in the 1930s and spent hours in ‘breadlines’, where they received rations of food. In that period the Great Plains region was devastated by drought. The Dust Bowl forced 60 per cent of the farmers to migrate to California and helped to lengthen the Depression.
- By giving financial support to the unemployed. The three aims of Roosevelt’s New Deal were in fact ‘relief, recovery, reform’. The federal government spent billions of dollars on relief for those unemployed, on public works and on the conservation of natural resources. It also promoted farm rehabilitation where farmers were instructed to plant trees and grass to anchor the soil, to plough and terrace in order to hold rainwater, and to allow portions of farmland to lie uncultivated each year so that the soil could regenerate.
- Investigative journalists whose reports, in the early years of the 20th century, brought to light many national problems, like the conditions of life in the city slums or corruption in government.
- Amendment to the American Constitution that prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol.
- A research project to produce and test the first atomic bomb. Among the scientists working in the nuclear field was the Italian physicist Enrico Fermi (1901-54). The main assembly plant was built at Los Alamos, New Mexico.
- At the beginning of the 20th century, the press brought the conditions of life in the city slums and the corruption in government to the attention of the Americans
- Although the USA pursued a policy of imperial expansion, it gradually granted independence to its dominions except for Cuba
- In the 1920s, quick economic growth was due to investments in industry, little competition from Europe, population growth and cuts in taxes
- Prohibition encouraged the illegal traffic of ‘bootleggers’ and gangsterism
- The Wall Street Crash in 1929 marked the beginning of the Great Depression
- The New Deal had three aims: relief,recovery and reform
|investigational technological narrative objective allusive dissolutive||investigation technology narrative objectivity allusiveness/allusion dissolution|
- It refers to an international movement which involved Western literature, music, the visual arts and the cinema in the first decades of the 20th century.
- Modernism as a literary movement is typically associated with the period after World War I. The horror of the war had shaken the certainties of the pre-war society, which were replaced by a sense of disillusionment and fragmentation. New ideas in the field of psychology, philosophy and political theory encouraged a search for new modes of expression.
- It expressed the desire to break with the past and find new fields of investigation, such as urbanisation, technology, war, speed and mass communication. It gave shape to the modern consciousness and contributed to express the nature of modern experience through creative forms of experimentation.
The traditional features subverted by Modernist writers were the limitations inbv space and time, the linear flow of narrative or conventional verse, the objectivity provided by an omniscient third-person narrator
Absorbing the influences of the past and contemporary ascendancy coming from abroad, in the attempt to build a new system of references, English modern literature was becoming cosmopolitan, thus moving away from the upper-middle-class milieu of Victorian society
6.8 Modern poetry
- The Georgian poets
- themes: the English countryside as an idyllic place
- style: still influenced by the Victorian Romantic tradition; used the convention of diction
- aim: to express the English sensibility
- The War Poets
- themes: the horrors of modern warfare
- style: experimentalism which emerged in the choice of violent, everyday language
- aim: to deal with war in an unconventional, anti-rhetorical way
- The Imagists
- themes: any subject matter; the poet’s response to a scene or object
- style: usually short poems; hard, clear and precise images; free verse
- aim: to achieve precision, discipline, ‘dry hardness’, ‘the exact curve of the thing’; no moral comment
- The Symbolists
- themes: the escape from emotion as well as from personality; the collapse and fragmentation of civilisation
- style: indirect statements; use of allusive language and images; importance given to the sound of words; quotations from other literatures; free verse
- aim: to evoke rather than to state; to create rich patterns of meaning that were not made easy for the superficial reader
- The poets of the 1930s
- themes: the social and political aspects of human life
- style: turned away from the Symbolists’ complexity and allusiveness; slang and jazz rhythms; images drawn from the world of technology
- aim: to communicate with their fellow men and encourage them to follow certain morally right courses of action
- The new Romantics
- themes: individual themes such as love, birth, death and even sex
- style: appeal to emotions
- aim: to react against the intellectualism and commitment of the 1930s
- A the single word.
- B To find connections between the units of the text.
- the length of the lines; They are of different length, though they are all very short; line 7 consists of one word only.
- the features of punctuation; The poem has no punctuation except for the full stop at the end of line 12.
- the main characteristics of the language. It is non-poetic, made up of words taken from everyday reality which convey very clear, discrete images.
In free verse the traditional metre and rhyme scheme are absent. Its only unifying element is the use of the poetic line. The free verse line might consist of a complete sentence or of a single word, whose relation to the syntactic structure of preceding and succeeding lines is flexible. Alliteration and assonance compensate for the absence of the other traditional musical devices.
6.9 The modern novel
|Traditional novel||Modern novel|
|Main theme||Society and outward actions of the characters (the gain or loss of social status).||The individual and the psyche.|
|Novelist’s role||To mediate between the characters and the reader||To mediate between the unquestioned values of the past and the confused present, highlighting the complexity of the unconscious.|
|Use of time||Chronological order.||Subjective and internal.|
|Narrative technique||Omniscient narrator; external viewpoint; wellstructured plot.||Stream-ofconsciousness technique; epiphany; interior monologue; internal point of view.|
- what the psychological novelists concentrated on; They concentrated on the development of the character’s mind and on human relationships.
- what the modern novelists were mainly interested in; They were mainly interested in experimenting with subjective narrative techniques, exploring the mind of one or more characters and giving voice to their thoughts.
- what the writers of the 1930s laid emphasis on. They laid emphasis on the society around them. Many British intellectuals had Marxist sympathies and tended to become didactic and take a political stance
6.10 The interior monologue
It is the verbal expression of a psychic phenomenon, the stream of consciousness
It does not follow a chronological order
The action takes place within the character’s mind
Speech is immediate because it is not addressed
The narrator may be present
It often lacks a formal logical order
There are four kinds of interior monologue: the indirect interior monologue, where the narrator never lets the character’s thoughts flow without control, and maintains logical and grammatical organisation; the direct interior monologue with two levels of narration - one external to the character’s mind, and the other internal; the direct interior monologue with the mind level of narration, where the character’s thoughts flow freely, not interrupted by external events; and the extreme interior monologue, where words and free associations are fused to create new expressions.
6.11 A new generation of American writers
The so-called ‘Jazz Age’ of the 1920s was an age full of excitement and contradictions due to the radical changes in the way people behaved and thought. The new manners were a reaction against the strict Puritan morality of the previous century. They were especially evident among young people, with their roaring cars and the new daring dances like the Charleston. In spite of Prohibition, parties and cocktails became fashionable and women began to wear their hair and dresses short, looking boyish.
They were aware of the moral desert hiding behind the glamour of the Jazz Age and they attacked its superficial hedonism. They knew that many good, young men had gone to war and died, or returned home physically or mentally wounded, and their faith in the moral ideals that had earlier given them hope, was ‘lost
With the exception of a few traditionalists, American poets wrote in free verse, abandoning conventional verse forms, experimenting with syntax, punctuation and typography
Afro-American literature found its fullest expression in Harlem Renaissance, a movement which concerned the literary and artistic fields as well as the cultural and intellectual ones. This movement raised important issues affecting the lives of African Americans; its writers exalted their heritage and tried to use their unique culture as a means to redefine African American literary expression. Afro-American writers had to face the problem of self-definition through a new evaluation of their past, relying in particular on the rich folk tradition - oral culture, black dialect, jazz and blues composition - to create unique literary forms.
Much of the literature of the period was characterised by a resentful and bitter pessimism, a new social consciousness, a feeling of political responsibility and a deeper interest in psychology
6.12 The War Poets
- When WWI broke out, thousands of young men volunteered for military service because they regarded the war as an adventure undertaken for noble ends, but after the slaughter on the Somme this sense of pride and exhilaration was replaced by doubt and disillusionment.
- It was hell because of the rain and mud, the decaying bodies that rats fed on, the repeated bombings and the use of poison gas in warfare.
- They were a group of poets who volunteered to fight in the Great War, actually experienced the fighting and in most cases were killed in the conflict. They managed to represent modern warfare in a realistic and unconventional way, awakening the conscience of the readers back home to the horrors of the war.
- Because its subject-matter could not be conveyed in the 19th-century poetic conventions, and forced them to find new modes of expression.
- He was educated at Rugby School, where his father was a master, and then went to King’s College, Cambridge. He was a good student. He was also familiar with literary circles like the Bloomsbury Group and came to know many important literary figures before the war.
- He joined up at the beginning of the conflict but saw little combat since he contracted blood poisoning and died in April 1915, on the Aegean Sea. He was buried on the Greek island of Skyros.
- He advanced the idea that war is clean and cleansing. He expressed an idealism about the conflict, in which the only thing that can suffer is the body, and even death is seen as a reward. His poems show a sentimental attitude.
- The publication of his five war sonnets coincided with his death in 1915 and made him immensely popular, turning him into a new symbol of the ‘young romantic hero’ who inspired patriotism in the early months of the Great War, when England needed a focal point for its sacrifice, ideals and aspirations.
T87 The Soldier
- shed away
- to roam
- eternal mind
- A soldier.
- No, he does not seem afraid of death.
- B in another country
- it will become dust, a richer dust than the earth around it because that dust will be of a son of England’s who died honourably for his beloved country.
|Landscape||Inner growth and private feelings|
|her flowers to love’ (line 6)||‘England bore, shaped, made aware’ (line 5)|
|‘her ways to roam’ (line 6)||‘the thoughts by England given’ (line 11)|
|Washed by the rivers’ (line 8)||dreams happy’ (line 12)|
|‘blest by suns of home’ (line 8)||‘And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness, / In hearts at peace, under an English heaven’ (lines 13-14)|
He views England as a mother who gave him life and brought him up teaching him feelings of joy and gentleness.
He emphasises the politeness and friendship of the English people.
List the images referring to death. What idea do they suggest?
- ‘a richer dust’ (line 4)
- ‘A body of England’s’ (line 7)
- ‘A pulse in the eternal mind’ (line 10).
They suggest immortality, glory and peace
A a Petrarchan sonnet.
C ABAB CDCD EFG EFG.
The poem deals with patriotic ideas and the idealisation of those who sacrifice their life for their country. Death in battle is not regarded as a tragic experience but as a noble act.
- He decided to enlist after visiting a hospital for the wounded in France, where he was working as a teacher of English.
- No, he died seven days before the armistice. He was killed in a German machine gun attack.
- They deal with gas casualties, men who have gone mad and men who are clinically alive although their bodies have been destroyed.
- He introduced ‘pararhymes’ - halfrhymes where the consonants in two different words are the same but the vowels vary, for instance ‘loves/lives’, ‘seeds/sides’, ‘star/stir’.
- He was concerned with ‘the pity of War’.
- It was to warn and be truthful.
T88 Dulce et Decorum Est
- Stanza 1: The soldiers are retreating towards the trenches; they are tired, scared, they cough and are made blind and deaf as a result of the gas shells.
- Stanza 2: The poet describes a gas attack: the men try to put on their masks in the green light and the poet’s friend is wounded.
- Stanza 3: The sight of the dying friend returns in the poet’s dreams.
- Stanza 4: The poet describes his friend’s horrible death from chemical warfare and conveys the message of the poem.
- Highlighted in yellow: the personal pronouns in the poem: ‘we’ Æ the soldiers, including the poet himself; ‘I’ Æ the poet; ‘He’ Æ a soldier, a friend of the poet’s; ‘you’ Æ the reader, any person who thinks that the war is a noble adventure
- Highlighted in light blue: verbs of movement; the verbs in the first stanza describe slow, weary movements due to physical exhaustion, while those in the second stanza are convulsive and frantic because of panic
- Highlighted in orange: similes describing the soldiers during the retreat and the poet’s dying friend. The images belong to the world of the supernatural and that of suffering and disease
- Highlighted in green: metaphors conveying the nightmare of war. Teachers could point out that ‘blood-shod’ (line 6) is almost a kenning; ‘Drunk’ (line 7) refers to a real condition of the soldiers fighting in the Great War, who often used to drink alcohol before and after an attack; ‘ecstasy’ (line 9) is utter panic; the ‘green sea’ (line 14) refers to the colour of the gas
- Highlighted in grey: there is nothing noble or decorous in war; war is an ‘old’ lie because it is not a new concept but a historic one that has been used many times to cover up the harsh reality of war. This statement comes after a crescendo of terrible images, which puts even more emphasis on it
- Pink letters: examples of alliteration
- Green dots: examples of onomatopoeia
- Arrow: bitter irony, the technique used by the poet to underline that there is nothing noble or decorous in war since it only means degradation and death
- The words ‘Bent double’, ‘Knock-kneed’, ‘coughing’, ‘trudge’, ‘limped on’, ‘blood-shod’, ‘lame’, ‘blind’, ‘Drunk with fatigue’ and ‘deaf’ in the first stanza refer to physical suffering due to fatigue and the effects of chemical weapons. The words ‘cursed’ (line 2), ‘haunting’ (line 3), ‘asleep’ (line 5), ‘ecstasy of fumbling’ (line 9) and ‘yelling out’ (line 11) convey the idea of psychological uneasiness and fear. Owen gives importance to the psychological sphere (see the passage from the real to the unreal), he deals with the themes of alienation and dehumanisation.
- The passage from the real world of the battlefield to a nightmarish, hallucinatory, hellish world.
- The poem is a manifesto against the war and is addressed to those who claim that war is right and glorious. Through anti-heroic images, Owen gives an insight into what he calls the ‘pity of War’, its humane aspects.
- Yes, the poem is consistent with Owen’s statement. He thought that the message of poetry is strong and wanted people to feel the ‘pity of War’ through his lines, relating his first-hand experience of the horrors of war in the trenches.
|The soldier’s mood||Romantic.||Disenchanted|
|His attitude to war||He idealised it.||He condemned it.|
|Imagery||Drawn from nature and private feelings.||Nightmarish.|
|The poet’s message||Dying at war brings glory||War and patriotism are deceitful.|
- Jewish family
- pastoral life
- bitter and violent
- shell shock
- political errors
- F He came of a wealthy family and lived the life of a young squire.
- F His friend and fellow poet Robert Graves convinced the review board that Sassoon was suffering from shell shock and he was sent to a military hospital.
- F He adopted a satirical stance because he wanted to denounce the political errors and insincerities for which the soldiers were being sacrificed. He wanted to be realistic and shocking, not to achieve pity or compassion.
- F He became a Roman Catholic.
T89 Glory of Women
- on leave
- fondly thrilled
- ‘You’ refers to women and ‘we’ refers to the soldiers.
- They idealise their men and consider them as Romantic heroes.
- They make shells (the poet refers to the women who replaced men in industry during the war) or they knit socks.
- It is about reported war
The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFG EFG. It is regular. It is a Petrarchan sonnet.
He uses enjambement (lines 3-4, 9-10, 13-14).
Domestic life: lines 12-13; honour and glory: lines 1, 3-4, 7-8; horror: lines 2, 6, 10-11, 14.
- Soldiers were sent back home because of wounds or shell shock.
- Sometimes soldiers were maimed.
- Soldiers fought in the mud of the trenches or the fields.
- Here the battlefield is compared to hell.
- After the attack, the panic-struck soldiers trampled the corpses of their companions during the retreat.
By using the image of British and German mothers who are united in the tragic experience of war
Ironical. Lines 5-6, 12-13.
Students should reflect on the role of propaganda especially during the first part of the war, until conscription was introduced in 1916, and the active part played by women in the British economy. The two pictures also emphasise the difference between the romantic idea of war and the crude reality of the battlefield and the trenches, the gap between ideals and reality
6.13 William Butler Yeats
- Protestant minority
- rural west
- Celtic romances
- actress and patriot
- Lady Gregory
- Abbey Theatre
- medieval tower-house
- mysterious communicators
- education policy
- divorce debate
- It was the creation of a new culture, based on Ireland’s past, which all the Irish peoplealike could share. This hope in an Irish cultural renaissance found expression in a series of essays called The Celtic Twilight (1893). In his early poems the visionary and nationalist try to find mythic ways of representing the tension between artistic imagination and national loyalty.
- How would you define it? He had a cyclical vision of history - 2000-year cycles of civilisations rising from a bestial floor to great heights of intellectual, aesthetic and spiritual achievement before turning like a tragic wheel down to apocalyptic anarchy. This vision enabled him to deal with violence and destruction in his art but also helped him to become confident of the superiority of art to history.
- When in London, he joined a famous mystical society, the Theosophical Society; he studied Emanuel Swedenborg, the Tibetan Mysteries and Buddhism. His attraction to these doctrines and cults was probably due to his belief that they provided clues to the unconscious life of mind and spirit, and therefore to the sources of creative imagination.
- The beauty and eternity of art; the relationship between the poet and the Irish people and tradition; age; the clash between the failing body and the willing heart; death; the idea of the heroic individual.
- Symbols have an effective role in shaping both the individual and the collective consciousness; they are not only devices he uses to present his themes, but also themes in themselves, in which truths are embodied, in all their complexity. To Yeats the symbol has a ‘visionary’ dimension, it offers ‘revelation’.
- Yeats’s imagination worked especially through the conflict and resolution of opposites: he widely employed the stylistic devices of antithesis, oxymoron and paradox. He paid particular attention to the order and construction of his sentences; very often a single sentence is as long as a whole stanza, and this is made possible by frequent enjambement. Yeats’s vocabulary contains many words of sensual and sensory experience, his syntax is dynamic and energetic, his vocabulary is rich in verbs of motion and action.
- The recurring images are the falcon, which may stand for a violent and cruel rapacity which has broken free from control, or the grace and beauty of the free spirit; theswan, which either symbolises the perfect ideal or a violent divine force; and the tower, which suggests loneliness and reclusion, tradition or natural heritage, but also his vision of the dark future of humanity. Yeats’s most frequently used word is ‘all’, revealing his desire to universalise experience
- As a process of circling toward the wide end of an idealistic spiral or whirling cone, or gyre, until ‘the centre cannot hold’. At that point a revelation takes place, and the mind shifts to a new centre.
T90 Easter 1916
- He used to meet them at the end of the working day (line 1).
- No, lines 5-6 suggest a superficial acquaintance.
- List the words and phrases that characterised the world and life of Dublin before the uprising.
- ‘grey / Eighteenth-century houses’ (lines 3-4);
- ‘polite meaningless words’ (lines 6, 8);
- ‘a mocking tale or a gibe’ (line 10);
- ‘Around the fire at the club’ (line 12);
- ‘motley is worn’ (line 14).
Insurgents’ identities and activities
The woman liked discussion (lines 19-20); she used to go hunting (lines 22-23).
It must be Constance Markievicz.
The man was a school teacher (line 24) and a poet (line 25).
It must be Patrick Henry Pearse.
his helper and friend’ (line 26) and ‘He might have won fame’ (line 28) hint at another intellectual.
It must be Thomas MacDonagh.
A drunken, vainglorious lout’ (line 32): he had hurt someone who was dear to the poet, namely Maud Gonne. It is clear that the poet despised him.
It must be John MacBride, the husband of Maud Gonne.
- A have only one aim.
- C the flowing of life.
- B the Anglo-Irish conflict.
- He wonders whether such sacrifice was useful and worthwhile.
- Lines 68-69.
- They died (lines 71-73).
- C an oxymoron. Explain how it works. An oxymoron is the combination of two apparently contradictory terms. The word ‘terrible’ implies sorrow, fear and even death; it is in contrast with the idea of pleasure linked with ‘beauty’.
- This line is a sort of refrain and also conveys the feelings of the poet about the sacrifice implied in the change.
- He is writing his lines to celebrate the rebels who sacrificed their lives to a dream.
The poet wanted to celebrate the sacrifice of these heroes and at the same time to reflect on the contradictions of political commitment and nationalism. His poem wanted to immortalise these figures and make them part of the Irish heritage, which all the Irish people could share.
T91 The Second Coming
- at hand
- The world is characterised by anarchy and blood. The picture introduced in this first stanza is one of violence and change. The last two lines are simply a commentary on the times.
- The lack of all conviction.
- A passionate intensity. This suggests a dissociation between the best people, which Yeats identifies as head people, the intellectuals, and the worst people, whom he associates with the mob, those who react with passionate physical intensity, not with careful intellectual study and expression.
- He is sure that there will be soon some revelation, a second coming, that is, a new cycle in history according to his theory of the gyre.
- This is a puzzling line, because the rocking cradle suggests the manger where Jesus was laid.
- This is the image of a rough beast that has the head-intellect of a man and the fierce emotions and body intelligence of a beast.
Words and phrases such as ‘Surely’ and ‘is at hand’ in lines 9 and 10, ‘Turning’ in line 1, ‘is loosed’ in lines 4 and 5, and the very title, ‘Second Coming’ in lines 10 and 11 are repeated, creating a sort of onomatopoeic effect that suggests the repetitive movement of the gyre, a spiral or repeated circling motion, which is a symbol Yeats used repeatedly in his poetry.
The poem starts with the image of a falcon wheeling about in the sky, far away from the falconer who released it. This metaphor may stand for the young people who have given up the standards of their parents and grandparents for the new art, the new literature, the new music and the other novelties of Yeats’s time. Another possible interpretation is that the falcon stands for the intellect and the falconer for the body sensations and feelings (heart).
- The ‘rough beast’ has the ‘lion body and the head of a man’ (line 14), its eyes are ‘blank and pitiless as the sun’ (line 15) and it is ‘moving its slow thighs’ (line 16).
- It reminds the reader of the sphinx and also of a monster because it is foreign, unfamiliar and not so tame.
- It symbolises a godlike creature of the desert, whose era will replace the Christian one. It is the symbol of the new world order
At the beginning of the second stanza Yeats calls for a revelation, saying ‘Surely some revelation is at hand’, and he himself becomes the revelator - he is a prophet, he gives us a powerful image for the ‘Second Coming’. He presents this brilliant visionary image, and then he says ‘The darkness drops again’ (line 18). Here his vision ends, and Yeats starts thinking again. He concludes that ‘twenty centuries of stony sleep / Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle’ (lines 19-20). This poem is a riddle and ends with a question. Throughout the poem there are hints as to what the answer to the riddle is, but Yeats does not come right out with the answer and leaves the question open
The poem is an apocalyptic vision of the future of mankind. A second theme is that of paganism as opposed to Christianity. Yeats had come to view Christianity as weak and its innocence as idealistic and impractical in the real world (line 6), where the Spiritus Mundi can promise satisfaction and earthly fulfilment. The idea of the power of the new order is amplified by the size of the sphinx. This suggests the power of the process which integrates the human intellect with the animal power of the bodily intelligence of the beast. This idea challenges the conventional Christian idea that Christ overcomes the Beast of Revelation.
- What historical events do you think Yeats had in mind when he wrote this poem? Do these lines sound relevant to today’s society? Support your answer with examples. Student’s activity. Suggestion: Many critics remark that this poem is deeply concerned with the drama of modern war, including World War I as well as the Russian Revolution and the ‘Black-and-Tan’ conflicts in Ireland. Yeats himself described his poem as a reaction to the ‘growing murderousness of the world’ to which these wars were alerting him; this concern with war marks The Second Coming as a modern work. Several critics have also associated the poem with the rise of fascism and the political decay of Eastern Europe.
6.14 Thomas Stearns Eliot
Suggestion: Thomas Stearns Eliot was educated at Harvard. He was influenced by the Italian poet Dante, the English Metaphysical poets and John Donne. Once in Paris, he attended Henri Bergson’s lectures at the Sorbonne and started to read the works of the French Symbolists. In the 1920s Eliot spent some time in a Swiss sanatorium, in Lausanne, undergoing psychological treatment and here he finished his masterpiece The Waste Land (1922). Poetry became his refuge where he expressed all his horror at his unhappy home life. He converted to Anglicanism, finding the answer to his own uncertainties and to the despair of the modern world’s lack of faith and religion. His religious poetry blossomed in Ash Wednesday (1930), a purgatorial poem, and then in Four Quartets (1943). Eliot’s work can be divided into two periods: before and after the conversion to Anglicanism. The works of the first period are characterised by a pessimistic vision of the world, without any hope, faith, ideals or values. They depict a nightmarish land where spiritual aridity and lack of love have deprived life of all meaning. Prufrock and Other Observations (1917), Gerontion (1920), The Waste Land (1922) and The Hollow Men (1925) belong to this period. Purification, hope and joy are the key words of the works of the second period: the poetry of Journey of the Magi (1927), Ash Wednesday (1930), Four Quartets (1943) and two important plays, Murder in the Cathedral (1935), on the assassination of Thomas Becket, and The Family Reunion (1939), on the guilt and expiation of a man haunted by the Furies. According to Eliot, the artist had to be impersonal and to separate ‘the man who suffers’ from ‘the mind which creates’.
The Waste Land
- All the fragmentary passages seem to belong to one voice relating to a multiple personality beyond the limits of space and time. He is Tiresias, the Theban prophet from Sophocles’s plays who experienced blindness and the life of both sexes, and, as such, suffers with the women he observes. He is the knight from the Grail legend; he moves through London and a post-war Central Europe, which has been deprived of its spiritual roots.
- It is the contrast between the fertility of a mythical past and the spiritual sterility, chaos and devastation of the present world.
- History is seen as the repetition of the same events, ‘classicism’ as the ability to see the past as a concrete premise for the present, and ‘the poetic culture’ as a ‘living unity’ of all the poems written in different periods. Thus present and past exist simultaneously in the human mind.
- It is a combination of images, objects or descriptions evoking a particular emotion. The source of the emotional reaction is not in one specific object, image or word. Instead, the emotion originates in the combination of these phenomena when they appear together.
- Eliot employed different poetic styles, such as blank verse, the ode, the quatrain and free verse, thus reproducing the chaos of modern civilisation. He requiresthe active participation of the reader/public, who experiences the same world as that of the speaker/poet, by employing the technique of implication. Metaphors and symbols replace direct statements; to this purpose, Eliot adopted the technique of the objective correlative. He used continuous shifts in time and space, as a consequence of the free associations of his characters’ ideas and thoughts. From the French Symbolist poet Jules Laforgue he derived the technique of juxtaposition: squalid elements are paired with poetic ones, trivial elements with sublime ones. Another device widely used by Eliot is the repetition of words, images and phrases from page to page: they all give the impression of the increasing musicality of the poem.
- He explained the mythical method, which Joyce also employed in Ulysses, as ‘a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history’. According to Eliot, in fact, old myths are present in modern society but have lost their deep meaning and it is especially through the mythical allusions that the antithesis between present and past appears.
Both Eliot and Picasso revolutionised their art and developed new ways of communication. The Waste Land is one of the highest expressions of modernism in literature. The constant shift of voice and viewpoint as well as the fragmentary style employed by Eliot remind us of the technique of montage used by Picasso; the opening up of vast vistas of time and space by quotations and allusions in Eliot’s poem is linked to Picasso’s bronze face reminiscent of the African art in this painting. Both The Waste Land and Picasso’s painting are no longer set in a classical past, but they both clearly belong to modern times.
T92 The Burial of the Dead
- he’ll dig it up
- Will it bloom
- Part 1(lines 1-7) The coming of spring in a sterile land.
- Part 2(lines 8-24) The degradation of life in the City.
- Focus on the first part.
- The aspects of April singled out as being cruel are: ‘breeding / Lilacs’ (lines 1-2), since existence is painful, so generating new life is cruel; ‘mixing / Memory and desire’ (lines 2-3), since any act of remembrance and consciousness is seen as painful, a longing for what men no longer have; ‘stirring / Dull roots with spring rain’ (lines 3-4), since bringing life to ‘dead’ things is considered negative.
- It turns out to be positive (‘kept us warm’, line 5; ‘forgetful snow’, line 6; ‘feeding / A little life’, lines 6-7).
- Yes, since it allows men to live in peace and to forget (lines 5-7).
- B Two.
- Write words and phrases from the second part referring to time, place, the inhabitants of the City and other characters.
- Time: ‘Under the brown fog of a winter dawn’ (line 9); ‘a dead sound on the final stroke of nine’ (line 16).
- Place: ‘over London Bridge’ (line 10); ‘up the hill and down King William Street’ (line 14); ‘Saint Mary Woolnoth’ (line 15).
- The inhabitants of the City: ‘A crowd … so many’ (line 10); ‘I had not thought death had undone so many’ (line 11); ‘Sighs, short and infrequent’ (line 12); ‘each man fixed his eyes before his feet‘ (line 13); ‘Flowed’ (line 14).
- Other characters: ‘one I knew … Stetson’ (line 17).
- Answer the following questions about lines 8-24.
- A their inability of communicating. (Line 13);
D death within life. (Line 11)
- He is a character the speaker sees by Saint Mary Woolnoth. The speaker already knows him; they have probably fought together in the First Punic War, which, according to Eliot’s idea of history, seems to reflect the present reality of WWI (line 18).
- C The present.
- When the speaker mentions ‘the ships at Mylae’ (line 18), he is associating himself with the past; in fact, according to Eliot, all wars are equal because history is nothing but the repetition of the same events.
- C Death.
- A comparison between the modern ritual of office workers with earlier ceremonies and fertility rites is established.
- A It may stand for the guardian of the dead.
- Since the reader experiences the poet’s same world
- A their inability of communicating. (Line 13);
- Concentrate on how the lines are organised and answer the questions with reference to the text.
- No, they have neither a regular rhyme scheme nor a traditional metre.
- Are the lines of the same length? No, there is not a classical division in stanzas. Lines are not of the same length; one line is composed of two words (line 8), while other lines are much longer (for example lines 17, 24).
- Free verse.
- Yes, some examples are ‘Lilacs’/‘land’ (line 2), ‘forgetful’/‘feeding’ (line 6), ‘sound’/‘stroke’ (line 16).
- Some examples: Words referring to death are repeated in lines 2 and 16(‘dead’), 11 (‘death’) and 19 (‘corpse’); ‘so many’ is repeated in lines 10 and 11. The sounds ‘f’ and ‘s’ often recur, in words such as ‘forgetful snow’ in line 6, ‘flowed’ in line 10, ‘fixed … feet’ in line 13, ‘sudden frost’ in line 21. A An alienating, sterile atmosphere.
- The role:
- We (line 5): the inhabitants of the waste land
- I (line 11):passive actor (line 17): passive actor
- He (line 13):a common man
- You (line 18):an accomplice (line 24): the speaker’s double
- Which lines develop the following themes?
- Present spiritual sterility. Lines 1, 5-7, 9.
- Negativity of city life embodying death within life. Lines 10-13.
- Antithesis between water (= fertility) and dryness (= sterility). Lines 4, 19-20.
- The collective guilt of war. Lines 18-19; ‘you planted’ is linked to the burial of guilt.
- Unity can be detected in the repetition of themes and images.
- the cruellest
Suggestion: Unlike Chaucer’s pilgrims, who know their destination - Canterbury - and the way to get there, the speaker in The Waste Land is unsure of the path to the holy place; he is also unsure that he will be able to recognise it when he gets there. The journeying motif runs through the whole poem: the speaker moves around London encountering images of waste and decay, but he cannot find the redemptive shrine. The myth of fertility is celebrated in Chaucer’s work, while there is a negative, pessimistic implication in Eliot’s The Waste Land.
T93 The Fire Sermon
- Part 1 (lines 1-8): The ‘Unreal City’.
- Part 2 (lines 9-50): A squalid sexual encounter
- Highlighted in yellow: external setting in place
- Highlighted in green: setting in time
- Highlighted in light blue: the merchant Mr Eugenides; his name means ‘well-born’, of noble origin, but now he is unkempt. He is speaking vulgar French (line 6)
- Red dots: internal setting in place: an untidy, squalid bedsitter
- Highlighted in pink: ‘I Tiresias’ (lines 12, 22, 37) is the only explicit identification of the speaker in the whole poem What are his most significant details? What can he see? He possesses the knowledge of both sexes since he is the supreme metamorphosis that brings them together (line 13); thus he is qualified to summarise the whole human experience. He can see a squalid sexual encounter.
- Highlighted in orange: the ‘typist’ (line 16), the ‘liberated’ woman of the early 1920s What life does she lead? She is independent and free but this has not brought her any happiness: she lives alone in an untidy one-room flat, full of uninteresting everyday objects (lines 17-21: ‘food in tins’, ‘combinations’, ‘Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays’), and leads a highly monotonous life.
- Highlighted in grey: the ‘expected guest’ (line 24), who is a ‘young man carbuncular’ (line 25)
- Pink words: the man’s actions and attitude: he is ‘Flushed and decided’ (line 33), only pleased with himself (line 35: ‘His vanity requires no response’)
- Blue words: the typist’s mood: she is tired, bored and apathetic, both morally and emotionally
- The City appears ‘Unreal’, since it is wrapped up in brown fog and only devoted to commercial transactions (line 3: ‘merchant’, line 5: ‘C.i.f.’ and ‘documents at sight’).
- Because Tiresias, coming from the past, has already experienced the events he is now witnessing in the present, and is also able to foretell the future (line 23), yet he cannot do anything to guide or alter it.
- No, he is not (line 36: ‘And makes a welcome of indifference’) since he is only interested in his own satisfaction.
- He goes away satisfied, and he is not able to grasp the depths of the squalor he lives in.
- It has been reduced to the fulfilment of mere instincts and physical desires. It has become something practical, empty and meaningless.
- Because he is now walking ‘among the lowest of the dead’ (line 40).
- The modern significance of lovemaking is registered in the reaction of the typist: she is ‘glad it’s over’ (line 46), and the ‘gramophone’ (line 50) also makes it mechanical. Her ‘automatic hand’ (line 49) reinforces the impression of sterility, dullness, squalor, monotony and indifference to this relationship that is no more than a parody.
- What actions is she associated with? She is compared to a ‘human engine’ (line 10), acting as she does with ‘automatic hand’ (line 49). She is associated with repetitive present actions, like ‘clears’, ‘lights’, ‘lays out’, ‘are piled’ (lines 16-20), which point out her highly monotonous life.
- They are: the present spiritual sterility and lack of communication - Eliot wants to underline how impossible communication through love is in the waste land, since this feeling has been debased to mere lust; the negativity of city life only linked to commercial transactions; the antithesis between past (Tiresias) and present (sterility).
- Provide examples of symbolism, objective correlative and juxtaposition. To underline the sterility and the routine quality of this sexual encounter, Eliot removes all the romantic notes both from the setting and the characters and employs the everyday language. The techniques used are: metaphors and symbols (‘C.i.f. London’ is a metaphor for a life that is reduced to commercial transactions; the ‘typist’ is a symbol of the liberated woman of the Twenties) instead of direct statements; the objective correlative (the passionless sexual encounter stands for the aridity of modern society); the juxtaposition of images belonging to the past and to the present; and the repetition of images and themes.
6.15 Wystan Hugh Auden
- He was a voracious reader. His early reading consisted of fairy tales, myths and legends, but it seems to have been paralleled by books about psychology and technical works on mining engineering.
- He was one of the Oxford poets. While studying at Oxford, he became familiar with Modernist poetry and he was the leader of the so-called ‘Oxford poets’.
- He was deeply committed to social and political issues. During the General Strike of 1926 he worked for the strikers; in 1928 he went to Berlin, where he witnessed the rise of Nazism. During the Spanish Civil War he served as an ambulance driver. He expressed solidarity with the Jews persecuted by Hitler after 1933: in 1935 he married Thomas Mann’s daughter, Erika, only to provide her with a British passport so she could escape from Nazi Germany.
- He was a homosexual. He worried increasingly about the fact that he was a homosexual. Homosexuality was condemned by the standards of his religious upbringing and was regarded as a criminal offence in England.
- He started a new life in New York. In 1939 he moved to New York and settled in a house in Brooklyn, which he ran as a sort of intellectual commune. In 1940 he began teaching in New York and published what is probably his best volume of the decade, Another Time.
- He changed his poetic attitude. Auden’s ‘political’ period was over; from then on his social poetry was to be anti-ideological, anti-political.
- He returned to Anglicanism. It was at about this same time that he returned to the religion of his youth, Anglicanism. In his works, he expressed his religious reaffirmation through questions concerning existence rather than by discussing his own spiritual struggles and achievements
- Freud’s influence, the use of psychological models in relation to the customs and rituals of an entire society. Under the influence of Karl Marx he believed that it was the duty of citizens to engage with history, to question the social and political climate in which they lived.
- With his withdrawal from political commitment and the development of a style that would refuse the identification with a single poetic culture or nation.
- It freed him from the burden of social responsibility, of being the leader of the intellectual left rather than simply a verbal artist. He came to believe that improvement must begin within the self, not within society.
- Love, which he often implies cannot be achieved without sorrow; modern suffering, including unfaithfulness, sickness, the passing of time, greed and religious doubt; death; politics, social concerns and citizenship.
- The theme of the quest recurs in both the earlier and later periods, but the message differs. In the English period the quest is for a new society and a new self. Later on it becomes a quest for a new life. Auden expresses hope for the future, valuing the freedom that comes from recognising one’s true condition whatever the circumstances are.
- He experimented with language all his life but tried to avoid obscurity. He employed traditional forms like sonnets and odes but also used free verse. His independent lyrics often start in medias res.
- He believed that the role of poetry was to tell ‘stories of particular people and experiences, from which each, according to his immediate and peculiar needs, may draw his own conclusions’. So the poet’s task was to act as a public voice, to analyse the social, political and economic problems, to support the causes for freedom against tyranny, to express the anxieties of the contemporary left-wing intellectuals.
- The poet entered ‘another time’ through the exile which he shared with many other refugees and that would eventually lead to his becoming an American citizen.
- Into three sections: ‘People and Places’, the most complex and meditative, where the poet deals with the theme of and the relationship between man and nature; ‘Lighter Poems’, which may astonish readers with their light comic tone and domesticity; ‘Occasional Poems’, which both celebrate the death of great figures like Freud and Yeats - in whom Auden recognises examples of transgression, of moral and artistic renewal - and try to interpret great historical events like the German invasion of Poland.
T94 Refugee Blues
- Stanza 1 The refugees are homeless.
- Stanza 2 They have no country to go to.
- Stanza 3 They have no passport.
- Stanza 4 They are dead for the State but they are still alive.
- Stanza 5 They are refused help by any committee.
- Stanza 6 They are seen as intruders in the country they flee to.
- Stanza 7 Hitler marched through Europe and wanted them to die.
- Stanza 8 Pets are treated better than they are.
- Stanza 9 The fish enjoy greater freedom than they do.
- Stanza 10 The birds are happier than they are.
- Stanza 11 They have got no place to stay.
- Stanza 12 They are persecuted.
- Highlighted in yellow: the use of repetition
- Highlighted in pink: the presence of a refrain Highlighted in grey: the few poetic images in the poem
- Highlighted in green: images and objects belonging to everyday life prevail in the poem
- Highlighted in light blue: contrasting images upon which the poem is built: (line 2) ‘mansions’/‘holes’ = it refers to the gap between the rich and the poor; (lines 11-12) ‘officially dead’/‘still alive’ = the refugees are considered dead by the government of their country but they are alive in body; (lines 23-24) the contrast between the love showed towards pets and the hostility felt towards the refugees; (lines 26, 36) the contrast between the freedom of fish and birds and the persecution against the refugees
- Box: Rhyme scheme: AAB
- They are Jewish refugees escaping from Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
- Homelessness, social injustice, isolation and lack of solidarity.
- The blues is the expression of the individual contemplating his situation in relation to the conditions surrounding him. The most distinctive charm of the blues lies in the individual character which makes it unique, as well as the universality of its content, understood by everybody and thus collective. It is a private and personal way in which the anguished direct their sorrow into a song and find happiness in release.
Suggestion: Students should develop the following notes:
- W.B. Yeats
- Choice of poetic forms: He employed a great deal of forms and stylistic devices (antithesis, oxymoron and paradox).
- Language: Sensual language; words of sensory experience; dynamic syntax; recurring symbols.
- Themes: Irishness; the beauty and eternity of art; age; death; the heroic individual; history.
- View of the function of poetry: To create a new culture, based on Ireland’s past, which all the Irish people alike could share (Irish cultural renaissance).
- T.S. Eliot
- Choice of poetic forms: He used a mixture of different styles (blank verse, the ode, the quatrain and free verse).
- Language: Metaphors and symbols instead of direct statements; the objective correlative; allusions and quotations from many different literary works; juxtaposition; repetition of words, images and phrases.
- Themes: The contrast between the fertility of a mythical past and the spiritual sterility of the present world; legends and myths; the spiritual quest; the alienation and chaos of modern civilisation.
- View of the function of poetry: ‘The poet has not a personality to express, but a particular medium’ in which impressions and experiences combine in peculiar ways.
- W.H. Auden
- Choice of poetic forms: He used a mixture of forms (sonnets and odes but also ballads and songs).
- Language: Everyday speech; free verse; rhyme; metre.
- Themes: Love; modern suffering; alienation; death; politics, social concerns and citizenship; the quest for a new society, a new self and a new life. View of the function of poetry: To act as a public voice, to tell stories from which each individual may draw his own conclusion.
T95 The Unknown Citizen
It is a parody of the symbolic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier commemorating unidentified soldiers; tombs of unknown soldiers were first created following the First World War
- A spokesman for the State Bureau of Statistics.
- As a saint, as one against whom there was no official complaint, a perfect citizen.
- Whether the citizen was free and happy.
|Details||Sources of information|
|Job||workman in a factory||his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.’ (line 8)|
|Everyday habits||bought a paper||‘The Press’ (line 14)|
|Health||was once in hospital but left it cured||‘his Health-card’ (line 17)|
|Possessions||phonograph, radio, car, fridge||‘Producers Research and High-Grade Living’ (line 18)|
|Family life||married with five children||‘our Eugenist’ (line 26)|
|Education||never interfered with his children’s education||‘our teachers’ (line 27)|
- His conduct: ‘no official complaint’ (line 2), ‘he was a saint’ (line 4), ‘in everything he did he served the Greater Community’ (line 5), ‘never got fired’ (line 7), ‘satisfied his employers’ (line 8).
- His views: ‘he wasn’t a scab or odd in his views’ (line 9), ‘he held the proper opinions’ (line 23).
- His relationship with his mates: ‘he was popular’ and ‘liked a drink’ (line 13).
He was an ordinary man, he worked, had a family, served his country. He participated in society, was orthodox in his views, never rebelled against authority and bought material goods.
It reproduces the rhythm of spoken language, it gives pace to the poem by stressing ‘to be’.
The rhyme patterns are: alternate rhymes (ABAB) and couplets (AA-BB). The couplet in the last two lines sums up the argument of the whole poem.
Bureaucratic language: Lines 1-2, ‘report(s)’ (lines 3, 10, 11, 27), ‘dues’ (line 10), ‘prove’ (line 16), ‘declare’ (line 18), ‘fully sensible’ (line 19). Slang: ‘scab’ (line 9). Everyday speech: ‘he was a saint’ (line 4), ‘got fired’ (line 7), ‘mates’ (line 13), ‘liked a drink’ (line 13).
The epigraph; line 4; ‘Fudge Motors Inc.’ (line 8: ‘to fudge’ means to avoid making a clear and definite decision or statement); line 15; lines 18- 19; line 23; lines 28-29. Through the anonymity of the citizen and the names referring to the institutions, Auden conveys a satirical description of life in the consumer society
The references to modern material achievements.
It is a materialistic, technological society in an urban environment, where there is no place for imagination, feelings and spiritual depth. In such a context life is seen as a question of statistics rather than individual happiness.
He acts as a public, committed voice against the danger of totalitarianism. He speculates about citizenship and how the State controls man.
In this poem Auden expresses his concern with the danger of a democracy which allows the State to control the individual, who is denied his personality and praised for his conformity, for his being ‘a mathematical symbol’ and nothing more. The other influences which can be perceived in the poem are Sigmund Freud’s psychological theories and Karl Marx’s idea of man’s alienation under capitalism.
Suggestion: Students should mention the complexity of form, the range of subjects, particularly the concern with the themes of citizenship and alienation within modern society, and his verbal energy
6.16 Joseph Conrad
- Conrad had a double nationality (Polish and British), he pursued two professional careers (as a seaman and a writer), he had a mixed social identity and used the theme of the double extensively in his writing.
- It put him in contact with men from a different social class and background from his own. From them he learnt to appreciate the values of a simple devotion to a demanding, monotonous, dangerous job. Work is in fact a powerful theme in his novels.
- The horrors and brutalities of colonial exploitation that he witnessed in Congo.
- He believed that the writer’s task should not be to try to amuse his readers or to teach them a lesson, but rather to record the complex pattern of life as he saw it. His aim was to explore the meaning of the human condition. He set his novels and short stories at sea or in exotic latitudes because these were the places he knew well, and they enabled him to isolate his characters so that their problems and inner conflicts stood out with particular force.
- In contrast to the 19th-century novelists, who showed the insignificance of their main characters in relation to the hugeness of the universe or the life of a nation or modern city, Conrad’s heroes are all solitary figures, rooted in no past, committed to an uncertain future. In general they are viewed externally, through the mind of others or through their actions. The use of several points of view results from his wish to break free from the constraints of an omniscient narrator.
- He found chronological sequence inadequate, so he broke the normal time sequence and preferred time shifts to create the illusion of life being lived by a number of very different people at the same time.
- Because he thought that it offered him the ideal expression for his complex vision of life.
- Conrad was concerned with the conflict between personal feelings and professional duties. He pointed out that reality was indeed the construction of individual consciousness through individual responsibility and self-control.
Heart of Darkness
- In the name of philanthropy and anti-slavery. He stated that the agents of the State had to accomplish the noble mission of continuing the development of civilisation in Africa, gradually reducing the primitive barbarism and fighting sanguinary customs. They also had to accustom the population to general rules, of which the most needful and salutary concerned work.
- Kurtz went into the jungle without properly knowing himself, so his misguided conduct took him beyond the limits of his heart, into madness and death. On the contrary, Marlow did not transgress his limits and came back without fully understanding his experience; although the ‘heart of darkness’ tried to exercise its influence on him too, he was able to restrain himself thanks to his work ethic. Marlow was saved because his aim was self-knowledge, the mistery of existence, which demands great humility. The difference between the two characters is that Kurtz reached new experiences of the self and felt all the excitement that life can give, while Marlow feels he has lived incompletely.
- Conrad’s indictment of the brutal exercise of law on the natives, as well as of the missionary zeal, the administrative efficiency and the search for profit is generalised to all forms of imperialism.
- As Marlow’s mythical journey in search of the self, in order to bring back a new truth. He witnesses the death of many men but also the death of ethical behaviour, of civilisation and goodness, so he is forced to understand that the great adventure of his life is really just about death.
- The novel presents a series of stories, one embedded within another. This complex structure is sustained by the continuous shifts backwards and forwards in Marlow’s narrative, by the way he creates suspense and interest by delaying the details of his meeting with Kurtz.
- Traditionally, light is associated with calm, peace, beauty and good. Darkness or gloom, on the other hand, is seen as an insidious menace to light, and, ultimately, as evil. As Marlow penetrates into the darkness of Africa, black acquires positive connotations: it is the colour of the jungle, of a primitive, noble environment and of its people. White, instead, is associated with the negative aspects of colonialism: violence, exploitation, hypocrisy and indifference.
- It is in central Africa. It is bordered to the north by the Central African Republic and South Sudan; to the east by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania; to the south by Zambia and Angola; to the west by the Republic of the Congo, the Angolan exclave of Cabinda and the Atlantic Ocean.
- It took place in the 1870s.
- Leopold II, King of the Belgians, regarded the Congo Free State as a personal territorial possession.
- He used it to gather and sell ivory, rubber, mineral resources and metals.
- The natives were increasingly subjected to brutal mistreatment and the natural resources of their land were widely exploited.
- It led to the arrest and punishment of white officials who had been responsible for several killings during a rubber-collecting expedition in 1903.
- It was inspired by these deaths and atrocities.
- The British writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a book, The Crime of the Congo (1909), about the Belgian atrocities in the Congo basin.
- In 1908.
- Part 1(lines 1-40) Marlow sees a chain-gang of black slaves and describes the landscape where a vast artificial hole has been dug. He realises that they were blowing mines.
- Part 2(lines 41-67) Marlow sees the shapes of black men dying below the trees.
- Part 3(lines 68-80) Marlow reaches the Company Station and describes the chief accountant with admiration.
- Highlighted in yellow: the expressions Marlow, the narrator, uses to mention the black men he sees. They are connoted by the colour of their skin, by the way the colonisers see them, that is, as enemies, criminals, savages; finally they have been reduced to inconsistent shapes, shadows, strange creatures
- Highlighted in grey: verbs conveying the actions of the black men. They have a connotation of exhaustion, suffering, disease and death. These men seem to have lost their human traits. They do not stand but crawl, they have lost their human dignity
- Highlighted in green: Conrad insists on the details concerning the parts of the body to underline the barbarous reduction of a whole human being to dislocated parts
- Highlighted in pink: words referring to the mood of the natives. They suffer and they have lost the wish to live; they are starving, weary and desperate
- Pink words: there are many similes throughout the text. ‘like tails’ (line 4) compares the rags around the men’s loins to a dog’s tail; in this way the black men are compared to animals. ‘like knots in a rope’ (lines 4-5) conveys the idea that the men were skinny because of toil and starvation. ‘like the bursting shells’ (line 9) and ‘as though the tearing pace of the launched earth had suddenly become audible’ (lines 39-40) refer to the sound of the shells and the devastation of the land caused by the colonisers. ‘as air’ (line 50) underlines the inconsistence of the human shapes. ‘as in some picture of a massacre or a pestilence’ (line 64) reinforces the idea of disease and human waste. ‘His appearance was certainly that of a hairdresser’s dummy’ (lines 78-79) refers to the chief accountant and ironically hints at the fact that he himself has lost his sense of humanity
- Highlighted in light blue: symbolism of white and black. These two colours are juxtaposed in the image of ‘a bit of white worsted’ (line 57) around the neck of one of the dying ‘black shadows’. The ‘white thread’ has a negative connotation because it symbolises the black man’s submission to the white man. The image reminds us of the iron collars around the men’s necks (line 5) and is echoed in the chief accountant’s ‘white cuffs’ (line 70), ‘snowy trousers’ (lines 70-71) and ‘white hand’ (line 72)
- Underlined in blue: Marlow’s sarcastic comments implying a severe judgement on European colonisation. The presence of the colonisers is compared to a mystery, a terrible voice, an outrageous law coming from the sea; it is presented as a new force, a great and right cause. Here Conrad is criticising the rhetoric behind colonialism. Then he introduces an extended metaphor to sum up his attitude: colonialism is like a devil of violence, greed and lust, it is rapacious and mad
- Blue words: Marlow, who is narrating to the people on the Nellie, refers to his own condition: he says he is not easily impressed or moved, that he has had to resist so as not to yield to the experience of Africa
- Highlighted in orange: the devastation of the landscape, the inefficiency and waste brought about by colonisation
- Boxes: Description of the chain-gang overseer: He is a black man; he carries a rifle and wears a uniform jacket with a button off; he is distrustful and has a large, white, rascally grin. Description of the chief accountant: He is a white man of unexpected elegance, dressed in white, with parted brushed hair, under a green parasol, with a pen-holder behind his ear
- Is he passive towards the scene before him? He says he is ‘not particularly tender’ (line 20), since he has had to resist and to attack according to the demands of life. He is not passive towards the scene before him; in fact, towards the end of the extract, he gives the young man one of his biscuits.
- By insisting on the description of the parts of the body of the natives as well as on their suffering, he protests against the dehumanising forces of colonialism.
- The chain-gang overseer embodies the process of displacement and detribalization underwent by the natives. The colonisers relied on a force of native militia under white control to organise the system of forced labour. So natives were often placed in a position of authority over others, when they were not already tribal chiefs, and to fulfil the required work of the collection of quotas, they would frequently resort to coercion and mutilation to encourage output and ‘discipline’.
- Discuss their possible symbolic implications. The dominant colour in the description of the chief accountant is ‘white’, which suggests light and cleanliness. Conrad also conveys the ideas of elegance, order and perfection which contrast with the chaos of the Company Station and arouse Marlow’s admiration.
- Life within the society is not possible without codes of behaviour, but these codes prove false or unsuitable when man is lonely and gets into the heart of existence, surrounded by a wild and hostile background. The accountant is dressed in elegant white as if he were working in an office in Europe when, in fact, he is surrounded by a reality which denies the values of European civilisation. Marlow respects the fellow. He believes that efficient work might have a redeeming power. The accountant has stuck to some codes of behaviour, which has prevented him from falling prey to evil or apathy.
- He withholds information. He delays the recognition of objects. He makes ironical remarks. He keeps a self-distancing position of marginality. He asks questions. Can you think of the advantages and disadvantages of this narrative method? Advantages: It enables different possible readings of the events. It creates the effect of a lens, focusing or blurring details. It creates suspense and arouses the reader’s interest and curiosity, leaving him the time to wonder. It stresses the atrocity of the description. Disadvantages: It may prove complex, obscure, slow. The reader may feel displaced and uneasy
Suggestion: Whereas Kipling exalted imperial power and believed in the ‘burden’ of the British, who had to spread civilisation all over the world, Conrad pointed out the contradictions of colonialism. While pretending to ‘civilise’, the white colonisers brutally exploited the natives and their lands, pursuing economic profit.
T97 The horror
- Shadowy images of wealth and fame together with the thought of his fiancée, his station, his career and his ideas (lines 3-6).
- Like a child (line 11).
- It was characterised by the monotonous bends of the river and by the secular trees which had patiently witnessed the dirty fragments of colonisation (lines 15-18).
- The boat broke down, and this caused a delay that affected Kurtz’s confidence (lines 21-22).
- He gave him a packet of papers and a photograph tied together with a shoe-string (lines 22-23). He asked him to keep them because he did not want them to end up in the hands of the manager (lines 24-25).
- Because he was busy fixing the boat (lines 31-33).
- Sombre pride, ruthless power, craven terror, intense and hopeless despair (lines 42-43).
- He leaned back, serene, with a smile of meanness (lines 49-50).
- He announced it in a tone of ferocious contempt (line 52).
- The pilgrims rushed out to see while Marlow remained in the cabin and finished his dinner (line 54).
- He thought he was a remarkable person because he had had something to say and said it; he had seen the heart of darkness and had expressed his judgement (lines 56-57, 72-76).
Conrad uses the first-person narration and multiple points of view (for example Kurtz’s death is seen through Marlow’s, the manager’s, the boy’s and the pilgrims’ eyes). There is an impersonal approach that leaves the reader to decide his own interpretation. He uses time shifts and flashbacks, an amazing wealth of adjectives and complex structures.
- Positive aspects: ‘the magnificent folds of eloquence’ (line 2); ‘unextinguishable gift of noble and lofty expression’ (line 4); ‘occasional utterances of elevated sentiments’ (lines 5-6); ‘the original Kurtz’ (line 6); ‘he intended to accomplish great things’ (line 12); ‘right motives’ (lines 14-15); ‘confidence’ (line 22); ‘for the furthering of my ideas. It’s a duty’ (lines 28-29); ‘remarkable man’ (lines 56, 72, 76).
- Negative aspects: ‘the barren darkness of his heart’ (line 2); ‘the hollow sham’ (line 6); ‘soul satiated with primitive emotions, avid of lying fame, of sham distinction, of all the appearances of success and power’ (lines 8-10); ‘His was an impenetrable darkness’ (line 30); ‘of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror - of an intense and hopeless despair’ (lines 42-43).
Marlow is fascinated by Kurtz (line 41) but he also sees him as a man who is lying at the bottom of a precipice where the sun never shines (line 30-31). However, work has the power to keep him in contact with reality and prevents him from devoting too much time to Kurtz (lines 31-36). Conrad’s concern was mainly with man’s inner personality. By presenting Kurtz like this, he was able to deal with the coexistence of good and evil in the human soul. The story is in fact concerned with the effects of both the Dark Continent and Kurtz on Marlow. During his voyage Marlow struggles to hold onto the feelings of sanity and normality to which he has been accustomed. It is his devotion to his job that prevents him from losing his restraint. The case of Kurtz is of a directly opposite kind. He is a progressive and a liberal, a painter, a writer and a musician. However, he has yielded himself to the appeal of darkness, losing self-possession; he has indulged in acts of lust and extreme cruelty. So he becomes Conrad’s first example of moral nihilism and can also be seen as Marlow’s double. Confronted with the darkness of Kurtz, Marlow can no longer defend himself: his simple ideas of virtue, justice and honour prove inadequate to explain the nature of the evil he has seen and the effect it has had on him. Although he struggles into the heart of darkness, he declares his sympathy for Kurtz, watches the man die, and journeys out again. He ends where he began.
Light: ‘candle’ (line 47), ‘lamp’ (lines 50, 55), ‘light’ (line 55). Darkness: ‘depths’ (line 50), ‘black’ (line 51), ‘beastly, beastly dark’ (line 56), ‘muddy hole’ (line 59). The main opposition is between the inside of the cabin, which is lit by the light of the candle/lamp and where Marlow feels safe, and the disturbing darkness that reigns outside and will characterise Kurtz’s grave.
Through the contact with Kurtz and the constant comparison with his ideals, Marlow slowly acquires a deeper knowledge of himself and of reality. The message of the novel and also its modernity lie in the impossibility of penetrating the surface of reality in any meaningful way; the most man can hope for is self-knowledge because life is ‘Droll’, it is a ‘riddle’ that escapes any logic. Marlow feels he has lived incompletely, he has not transgressed his limits and understands that existence is essentially a mystery, while Kurtz reached new experiences of the self, went beyond the limits of his heart and felt all the excitement that life can give.
Here are some of the most frequent interpretations provided by the critics: The horror stands for:
- the darkness of Africa in opposition to the white European civilisation;
- Kurtz’s corruption;
- the man’s unconscious;
- the violence and brutalities that the colonisers committed in Africa;
- the horror of life and the universe in general.
- an interest in the primitive: Conrad’s choice of the African setting;
- the breaking down of limitations in space and time: Marlow’s experience is universal, not linked to a particular place or time. Even the narrative frame of the book reflects this, with its continuous shifts backwards and forwards;
- the importance of unconscious as well as conscious life: Marlow’s journey can be read both as a geographical journey and a journey into the self;
- the awareness that our perception of reality is necessarily uncertain: Marlow finds it difficult to explain his experience;
- the impossibility to give a final or absolute interpretation of reality: the way Marlow creates suspense and interest by delaying details shows this; the novel can be interpreted in several different ways.
From Text to Screen: Heart of Darkness
- The scene is set in the chief accountant’s office, which is richly furnished.
- The scene takes place during the day because the sun is up in the sky and the sunlight is dazzling.
- Part 1 (the chief accountant is sitting at his desk, talking with Marlow): Rumours about Mr Kurtz.
- Part 2 (the chief accountant stands up and goes to take something to drink): Marlow’s mission.
- Marlow: Age: He is approximately in his forties.
- Physical appearance: He has fair hair and is dressed in white. First impression given: He is proud of his mission and curious about Mr Kurtz.
- The chief accountant: Age: He is approximately in his fifties. Physical appearance: He has grey hair, a grey moustache and a grey beard. He is wearing a pair of grey trousers, a white shirt, a light striped tie and a light brown waistcoat. The glasses and a pair of black sleeves make him a true clerk.
- First impression given: He is highly realistic; he increases the mystery surrounding Mr Kurtz by hiding his picture under some papers.
- The slave: Age: Very young. Physical appearance: She is a beautiful, slim black girl.
- First impression given: She is a sweet, subdued woman.
- Yes, he does. He speaks with a French accent because he is a Belgian officer.
- He is worried about the stations up the Congo River because they have been isolated for too long.
- He is showing him a map, probably of the Congo basin.
- It has been completely cut off.
- Marlow is looking at a photo of two men, one of whom is Mr Kurtz.
- He is a tall man with a mysterious appearance. There is a tent behind him built in the jungle.
- He states that there are rumours about Kurtz that he has changed and become mad.
- No, he hides it under some papers and a small book.
- There are rumours about him. That he’s changed.
- He has guarded a mountain of ivory.
- There are always too many rumours one must not listen to.
- One begins to go, you know, a little foolish with rumours.
- He states that one must not give importance to rumours.
- He asks what has happened to the last captain of the boat carrying ivory.
- He tries to look at Kurtz’s photo again while the chief accountant is in another room.
- He says that the last captain died some time before.
- Close-up = Kurtz’s station.
- Extreme close-up = Kurtz’s mysterious gaze.
- Medium shot = It allows the director to give the viewer a picture of the two people present in the scene: Marlow and the chief accountant.
- Low-angle shot = Marlow’s point of view.
- High-angle shot = It expresses Marlow’s feeling of superiority towards black people.
The camera first zooms onto Kurtz’s photograph to create a mysterious atmosphere surrounding this character. Then, it gradually zooms onto Marlow’s face while he is looking at the photograph to underline his increasing curiosity and perplexity
The music accompanies the zooming camera, adding to the mysterious atmosphere that characterises the whole sequence.
6.17 David Herbert Lawrence
- coal pit
- Because of his view of life, his fight against the mechanical and artificial aspects of industrial civilisation and his penetrating analysis of relations between the sexes.
- With emotional life, and particularly with the emotions created by alienation. He considered man as a mixture of culture and biology, of natural impulses and instincts.
- The sexual one, so only a new type of relationship between men and women based on sensual passions and sexuality can save humanity from self-destruction. Sex and history are in Lawrence two different aspects of the same reality.
- His female characters are neither heroines nor militant suffragettes but often sensitive girls who are aware of the essential ‘otherness’ of their partners, whose intellectual and sexual supremacy they accept. Woman is to Lawrence only an instrument for mankind’s happiness, consistently with his political opinions against industrial capitalism.
- Lawrence employed the traditional omniscient narrator, limiting, however, the authorial interventions to the minimum; the point of view is, in fact, generally that of the characters. They are portrayed through the techniques of ‘showing’ and ‘telling’, and their feelings are revealed by means of a remarkable variety of rhythm and of words and images particularly linked to the senses.
Sons and Lovers
- It is set in a workingclass environment in Nottinghamshire.
- The protagonists are the members of the Morel family. Paul’s father is a coal miner and his mother belongs to a higher social class. Mr Morel’s estrangement from the emotional life of the family is due in part to this social difference, which alienates him from his own children and brings them closer to their mother. Moreover, his lack of education makes it difficult for him to express his feelings, and the hard, disciplined nature of his work leads him to domestic violence which drives the children deeper into their mother’s arms. Mrs Morel is educated and determined; she symbolises what the young Paul hopes to achieve: his emotional turning from his father towards her is a revolt against the poor exploited world of the mine towards the life of emancipated consciousness.
- Lawrence used Freud’s Oedipus complex to explore Paul’s relationship with his mother. Paul is extremely devoted to his mother and even if he tries to transfer his incestuous feelings to Miriam and Clara, he cannot love either woman nearly as much as he loves his mother. The older, independent Clara, especially, is a failed maternal substitute for Paul. After his mother’s death, Paul is psychologically adrift, unable to resolve his Oedipal desires.
- Mrs Morel is socially bound by her status as a woman and by industrialism. Though she joins a women’s group, she must remain a housewife for life, so she is jealous of Miriam, who has more opportunities to employ her intellect. Romantic bondage is given far more emphasis in the novel: Paul feels bound to his mother, and he often loves and hates at the same time, especially Miriam.
- He employs the opposition of the body and mind to expose the contradictory nature of desire; characters often pair up with someone who is quite unlike them.
- Is it a traditional one? He uses the third-person narrator technique, but almost all the events are seen through Paul’s eyes. The novel, in fact, records the emotional process as experienced by Paul but does not quite communicate the process itself
T98 Mr and Mrs Morel
- public house
- They consisted of a series of A cottages where coal miners lived.
This double row … the valley’ (lines 2-4); ‘substantial and very decent’ (line 5); ‘gardens with auriculas … the attics’ (lines 6-8); ‘uninhabited parlours’ (line 9); ‘that was so well built and that looked so nice’ (lines 13-14)
‘The dwelling-room … ash-pits’ (lines 9-11); ‘long lines of ash-pits’ (lines 11-12); ‘the alley’ (line 12); ‘quite unsavoury … of ash-pits’ (lines 14- 15); ‘was already twelve years old and on the downward path’ (lines 16-17)
- Answer the following questions.
- Which house did Mrs Morel have? She had an end house.
- Why did she feel different from the other women of the Bottoms? Because she had only one neighbour and an extra strip of garden; moreover, her rent was a bit higher.
- How old was she? How long had she been married? She was 31 and had been married for eight years.
- What was her husband’s job? He was a miner.
- What began after the Morels had been living in their new house for only three weeks? The wakes.
- What were the Morels’ reactions to the fair? Mr Morel was sure to make a holiday of it, getting out early in the morning; the children were excited: William, who was 7, went off after breakfast, leaving behind Annie, who was 5, who would be taken there after dinner by Mrs Morel.
- How did Mrs Morel feel while watching families returning from the wakes? She felt dreary, as if nothing would happen to her in life.
- Why could she not afford a third child? Because her despised husband drank away his wages.
- Lawrence uses an omniscient detached narrator for the opening description of the Bottoms, while Mrs Morel’s point of view is employed in the other paragraphs.
- The zooming technique is used to introduce the setting in place - from the Bottoms to the single houses and on to the front gardens, the front windows and the little porches, the parlours, the kitchens at the back of the houses, the back gardens and the dirty alley.
- Contrast is the characteristic device of this passage: at first it is linked to the setting (the front side of the miners’ dwellings vs their back), then it extends to the characters of the married couple, Mr and Mrs Morel. These oppositions are, at the same time, of an attractive and a repulsive nature.
- B She is the symbol of intellect, while her husband stands for passion.
T99 the rose bush
- Part 1 (lines 1-42) A spiritual experience.
- Part 2 (lines 43-67) Mother-son relationship
- Highlighted in light blue: setting in time and place
- Highlighted in yellow: Paul’s feelings and sensations as a response to the elements ofnature
- Highlighted in pink: Miriam’s feelings and sensations linked to nature
- Pink words: images from nature
- Underlined in blue: sexual images. Miriam seems to have had a love experience
- Arrow: climax of Miriam’s sensations and reactions to the rose bush
- Green words: Paul’s mother’s irritation and contempt
- Highlighted in grey: Mrs Morel’s jealousy
- Blue words: Paul’s irritation to his mother’s remarks and behaviour
- A wild rose bush.
- Because he knows his mother is becoming anxious.
- He finds his mother waiting for him. She is visibly disappointed and getting increasingly angry about his being late.
- Whose points of view are adopted in the two parts of the extract? There is a third-person narrator. Paul’s and Mrs Morel’s point of view are employed in the first and the second parts of the extract respectively.
- It is characterised by a close interplay between the two characters and the natural elements surrounding them.
- Paul is attracted more by Miriam than by nature; Miriam’s quivering and the climax of her reactions to the rose bush create frustration in Paul.
- Smell, touch and hearing (the absence of any sounds and the presence of stillness) are the most involved senses.
- Mother and son appear as two lovers.
- There is a transition from the elevated, poetic language of the first part to the realistic, ordinary speech of the second.
Suggestion: Students should develop the following notes: Modern elements: psychological analysis of characters; shifting points of view; great importance given to instinct. Nineteenth-century elements: contrast between nature and industrial towns; admiration of nature; use of a third-person narrator
6.18 Edward Morgan Forster
- strict preparatory
- spiritual imprisonment
- social behaviour
- more spontaneous
- modern aesthetics
- criminal offence
- He was influenced by female figures. When his father died, he was brought up by his mother and his great-aunt. He was educated by his mother until the age of 11.
- He was annoyed by restrictions. He lived both the experience at the strict preparatory school at Eastbourne and that at Tonbridge School as a sort of spiritual imprisonment.
- He was attracted by dualities. For example, in his first and third novels - Where Angels Fear to Tread and A Room with a View - he explored the differences between the strictness of English conventions and upper-middle-class codes of social behaviour and the more spontaneous and relaxed way of life of the Italians.
- He was a prolific writer. He published several novels, two volumes of short stories, Aspects of the Novel (1927) - a series of lectures on modern aesthetics -, and two books of collected essays.
- He was indebted to the 19th-century novel. He is first of all a writer of comedy of manners who is interested in the society of his time; the technique of irony is reminiscent of Jane Austen’s. He derived much from the Victorian tradition - the plot arrangement and the presence of an omniscient narrator that occasionally becomes obtrusive.
- His works showed a modern complexity. His complexity derives from his talent for self-scrutiny, from his power to question the culture to which he remains, however, attached. Forster questions the optimism about the future that one finds in most 19th-century fiction, his novels remain focused on the struggles of characters in conflict with their own societies and other cultures, and he lays emphasis on personal relationships. His early books are more humorous; in the last two novels there is an attempt to use sensation and experience to approach what gives meaning to life and affords a visionary understanding of it.
A Passage to India
- The most important characters of the British community are the City Magistrate Ronny Heaslop, who is engaged to Miss Adela Quested; Ronny’s mother, Mrs Moore; and Cyril Fielding, the headmaster of the local college. The most important character of the Indian community is the Muslim doctor Aziz.
- They are the meeting of Dr Aziz and Mrs Moore at the mosque, the visit to the Marabar Caves and the trial.
- The Indian landscape challenges the established values of Western civilisation. The reader is constantly reminded of the many inhabitants of India: the crowds of people, the animals, the plants, the birds, the stones. One of the basic qualities of Forster’s India is that it has no interiors or exteriors, nothing is private there, everyone can see you and know even your secrets, weaknesses and failures. Another aspect of India is that it awakens desire.
- In Hindu mythology the caves represent the ‘womb of the universe’, from which all the forms of created life are derived. A psychological explanation would identify this idea with the notion of the subconscious. According to literary tradition, the echo is the symbol of nature’s benevolence which often acts as a reminder of the harmonies in creation, but Forster gives the echo in the cave a dehumanising quality
- Dr Aziz is a Muslim doctor and a widower with three children. He is fond of poetry, emotional and generous with his English friends, but after Adela Quested accuses him of assault, he becomes bitter, anti-British and claims that India should be a united independent nation. Mrs Moore is an elderly woman, twice married with three children. She feels an immediate connection to Aziz when they meet. She represents Christian spirituality and kindness, but during the expedition to the Marabar Caves her confidence in the order of the universe is shaken by the echo she hears and she becomes irritable, depressed and apathetic.
- It is the issue of ‘connection’, as well as the desire to overcome social and racial differences. Personal relationships are, for Forster, a fundamental value leading to a general need for tolerance, good temper and sympathy among people. What remains strong in the novel is the belief in ‘goodwill’, be it a religious belief or a secular, personal one.
- Whereas previous novelists like Kipling had given an attractive and romantic picture of imperial India, Forster recorded the moment of British India’s transformation into a new country. Forster shared the view of Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement and criticised imperialistic policies of discrimination under which personal relations were spoilt.
- A Passage to India is divided into three parts; the story is told by an omniscient narrator, whose voice intrudes from time to time to comment on the situation, while the point of view shifts from character to character. The pervasive use of negative forms from the beginning to the end emphasises the sense of ambiguity and mystery.
- What is the role of negative forms? They emphasise the sense of ambiguity and mystery: to say what something is not leaves wide open the question of what it might be instead. Negation and negativity in this novel are related to place and space, to interiority and exteriority, and to the varying shapes of inclusion and exclusion assumed by the different religious orderings of life.
- Forster appears a writer approaching Modernism in theme and outlook - in his choice of an indifferent setting in A Passage to India, which is capable of disrupting not only cohesive human relations, but coherence itself, overwhelming possibilities of order, morality or understanding; in his entering, at times, the consciousness of characters through free indirect style. However, he did not adopt Modernist innovations in form and style on a large scale.
- Part 1(lines 1-18) Description of old Chandrapore on the Ganges River.
- Part 2(lines 19-31) Description of the inland maidan on higher ground.
- Part 3(lines 32-40) Description of the Civil Station on the second hill.
- Highlighted in pink: use of negative forms to describe the city. They are often accompanied by positive adjectives
- Underlined in blue: negative details concerning the city, which is connoted as filthy, unattractive and monotonous
- Highlighted in yellow: the buildings in the city Highlighted in green: simile reinforcing the idea of an uninteresting yet alive town
- Highlighted in orange: words conveying the description of the natural surroundings, particularly the presence of tropical vegetation. The trees are personified, they have a life of their own which blends with the human presence
- Highlighted in light blue: nature is very active in building a lively and energetic presence, which contrasts with the works of man. Personification is used
- Highlighted in grey: description of the English Civil Station: the words ‘sensibly’ (line 37) and ‘intersect at right angles’ (line 39) convey the cold British character and contrast with the liveliness of the tropical trees
- Green dots: the sky becomes a symbol of union between the Indian soul and the English part of the city
- The novel opens abruptly with a description that negates even as it creates picturesque images. The very first phrase (‘Except for’, line 1) is one of exclusion and is extended as absence. In lines 16-18 the main clause of the sentence turns to the positive (‘do fall’, ‘are drowned and left rotting’) while conveying a sense of decadence and mortality. Thus the novel’s opening is not conventional but sounds Modernist.
- Chandrapore is a typical Indian town, neither distinguished nor exceptionally troubled; it can be considered as symbolic of the rest of India rather than an exceptional case. The pervasive use of negative forms emphasises the sense of ambiguity and mystery: to say what something is not leaves wide open the question of what it might be instead.
- It is a sort of ‘cultural ghetto’ that has no connection with non-British people and places.
- The reader is constantly reminded of the many inhabitants of India: the crowds of people, the river, the plants, the birds. Forster’s India has no interiors or exteriors, which conveys the idea that Western categories cannot be applied to the Indian landscape.
T101 Aziz and Mrs Moore
- let loose
- springing up
- Time: It is night (lines 12-13, 27).
- Place: A mosque at ‘the edge of the Civil Station’ (lines 5-6).
- Type of architecture: Lines 7-15: ‘The courtyard […] contained an ablution-tank of fresh clear water’; ‘a ruined gate’; ‘The covered part of the mosque was deeper than is usual’; ‘three arcades’; ‘a small hanging lamp’; ‘The front […] had the appearance of marble’; ‘ninety-nine names of God on the frieze stood out black, as the frieze stood out white against the sky’; ‘the contention of shadows’. Line 21: ‘the low wall that bounded the courtyard on the left’.
- Elements of the natural landscape: ‘that soil’ (line 3); ‘the moon’ (line 12); ‘the sky’ (line 14); ‘a blur of trees’ (line 22); ‘owls’ (line 26); ‘flowers’ (line 26).
- Feelings aroused in Aziz by the place: ‘He had always liked this mosque’ (line 7); ‘the arrangement pleased him’ (line 7); ‘pleased Aziz’ (line 15); ‘by winning his approval let loose his imagination’ (line 16); ‘awaken his sense of beauty’ (lines 17-18); ‘the happiness he felt now’ (line 30). The place arouses feelings of pleasure, joy and enthusiasm in Aziz.
- He is ‘furiously angry’ and shouts at the woman (lines 40-41).
- He realises that the woman has taken off her shoes as a sign of respect towards the holy place (lines 45-47) because she believes God is there (line 53). He begs her pardon (line 48).
- They speak about their children and some members of the English community at Chandrapore (lines 92-104, 109-120).
|Age||-||Old woman; red face; white hair; young voice (lines 61-63).|
|Nationality||Indian (lines 1-2, 133).||British (lines 40, 68-69, 131-132).|
|Family||Widower (line 92); three children (lines 97-98).||Widow (lines 89- 91); three children (lines 92-94).|
|Religion||Muslim (line 18).||She believes in God (lines 51-53).|
|Relationship with their community||He has a good relationship with the Muslims (lines 18-20); he is critical of the Hindu community (lines 16-18, 24-25) and also of some members of the British community (lines 115-120).||She has a good relationship with the Muslims (lines 43-53); she is critical of some members of the British community (lines 112-114, 124); she sympathises with and is curious about the Indians (lines 122-124, 131-132).|
It is a third-person omniscient narrator, and the scene is described from Aziz’s point of view.
At the beginning Aziz is furiously angry and shouts at the woman (lines 40-41); Mrs Moore gasps and is startled (lines 42, 49). Then Aziz is sorry (line 48), afraid he has startled her (line 64); they both laugh (line 79) and he is delighted (line 100). They talk about their similar family situation, they share the same opinions; he is excited (line 122); they sympathise (lines 122-124); she is surprised (line 128); he is happy (lines 133-134).
Though Mrs Moore is British, she behaves differently from the other members of her community: she talks to Aziz and tells him about her family, she criticises other members of her community, she is kind and invites Aziz to the club, she shows respect for his religion. Aziz shows resentment towards the English because of the way they treat the Indians, and despises their cool attitude. He also feels different from the Hindus, for example he finds their religion and music uncongenial. Aziz appears as a sensitive and talkative young man with a slight inclination to melancholy and pathos (see the inscription in lines 32-35) and a deep sense of beauty. Mrs Moore is gentle and spontaneous, she respects other cultures and is curious about them.
Lines 75-80, 92-100, 106-108, 121-132. They are both seeking to escape from an alien environment and looking for relief in a holy place. They are friendly and sympathetic. They both would like to understand the meaning of their behaviour
The issue of ‘connection’ and the importance of personal relationships, the need for tolerance, good temper and sympathy
- the hostility of nature; The hostility in the soil (lines 2-5); the hostility of nature suggested by the talk of dangerous snakes (lines 72-75).
- the conflict between cultures; The conflicting and discordant sounds of English and Hindu life heard from within the mosque (lines 21-25); a woman is not allowed in the mosque (line 43); Aziz feels a subordinate (lines 119-120, 133-134).
- the difficulty of communication. Aziz’s mistaken idiom - ‘we are in the same box’ (line 92) for ‘we are in the same boat’; the confusion of names and identities that arises from Mrs Moore’s second marriage.
A Passage to India explores the possibility for Western and Eastern cultures to get in touch and, more generally, for human beings to connect and understand one another. Both Mrs Moore and Dr Aziz try to connect and wish to overcome social, cultural and racial differences (lines 123-124, 134-136).
The English considered themselves superior and behaved with arrogance, excluding the Indians from their own territories and violating their rights. The passage hints at the contrast between Hindus and Muslims inside the Indian reality. Forster had a critical view of imperialistic policies of discrimination under which personal relations were spoilt; he also represented the development of an Indian national consciousness through the character of Aziz.
Two cultures trying to communicate
- The dialogue in the opening scene is between Adela, Aziz and Professor Godbole. They appear relaxed and the conversation is ‘light and friendly’ although there is actually an ‘underdrift’, a ‘game’ being played out that Adela is unaware of, that is, the fact that a white woman is talking to two Indian men seemingly as equals.
- Ronny is annoyed because he has come to collect Adela and his mother to take them to a polo match and finds his fiancée alone with two Indians. He does not mean to be rude to them; the point is that his usual contact is as a superior talking down to a subordinate, he is not used to dealing with Indians as private individuals.
- Although Aziz does not mean to be provocative, everything he says appears to Ronny to be impertinent or in the wrong tone. Aziz is tense, which makes him over-charming to Adela and loud and jolly towards Professor Godbole.
- From afar Fielding sees them as actors acting out parts, which makes the reader think that the scene looked unnatural.
- The double meaning is first the obvious one, that Ronny did not actually speak to Aziz; and secondly, the fact that not speaking directly to him was in fact offensive, ignoring his presence.
- The narrator is a third-person omniscient narrator, who can give an overview without seeming to take sides, although there are moments when the narrator steps aside and gives a character a voice, as in lines 51-57 where Fielding comments on the tea party.
- There are different forms of incomprehension in the text. Adela does not understand the Indian ways but is trying to do so and is open to their culture (lines 1-3, 56). There is total incomprehension between Aziz and Ronny as they live in different worlds and each resents the other (lines 17-31). Fielding is a go-between because he recognises Aziz’s behaviour as tension and feels sorry for him while Ronny just gets increasingly annoyed (lines 36-50). The final incomprehension is between Ronny and Fielding, who are civil to each other on the surface but actually hate each other (lines 56-57).
- Adela is not criticised for smoking in itself, but for smoking with two Indian gentlemen. Today the criticism would not have anything to do with being in the company of Indian gentlemen, but rather with the fact of smoking, whose harmful effects are widely acknowledged and socially condemned.
- He is weeping because he knows that what he has to say will cause serious problems for his son and possibly for him too, as his son has dared to love a woman from a superior caste, which is forbidden. The ‘Terror’ refers to the possible consequences and punishment that will inevitably follow his tale.
- Every evening a boat, that Rahel had found, crossed the river and was tied to a tree stump next to a path leading to Kari Saipu’s house in the abandoned rubber estate. The boat rocked empty for hours, sometimes till dawn. Vellya saw it as his duty to denounce the lovers - his son, Velutha, and Mammachi’s daughter, Ammu. Their love is prohibited because Vellya’s son is a Paravan, an Untouchable.
- Her reaction is absolute shock and horror; she shouts and pushes Vellya down the steps into the mud. Vellya is not surprised at her emotion and anger but at being touched by her when she pushes him, because the Untouchables are normally expected not to be touched.
- She has her own personal reasons for hating Vellya’s son as he was present at the protest march where she was humiliated. Her bitter nature also made her unpleasant towards her niece, whom she immediately condemns as being capable of this forbidden act of becoming an Untouchable’s lover
- This phrase is rather ironic as it is Baby Kochamma’s idea of herself as being an example for good through her pure actions when she is surrounded by evil and sin.
- They decide that Vellya’s son must be instantly sent away, meaning he will be fired from his job and sent off with nothing, as if the news of the relationship became public, Mammachi’s family would be disgraced.
- The text shows a shocking divide between the Indian castes, where those who see themselves as superior despise and treat badly the Untouchables, whom they consider little better than animals. Baby Kochamma’s remark about their smell is repugnant and shocking. It is also interesting to see that the division is respected by the Untouchables themselves as it is Vellya, a Paravan, who feels it as his duty to tell Mammachi about his son’s relationship, despite being aware that there will be negative consequences for his son.
Suggestion: The most obvious example is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The contrast is that in Roy’s story the difference is given by social standing, whereas opposing sides, religions or races can also lead to a tragic end.
6.19 James Joyce
- Modern Languages
- European culture
- writing career
- opening story
- fell in love
- Picture 1: James Joyce was largely educated at Jesuit schools, before finally enrolling at University College, Dublin, where he gained a Bachelor of Arts degree with a focus on Modern Languages in 1902. At the age of 22 he went into voluntary exile, moving to Paris, Trieste and Zurich.
- Picture 2: In June 1904 Joyce met and fell in love with Nora Barnacle, a 20-year-old girl who was working as a chambermaid in a hotel. They had their first date on 16th June, which was to become the ‘Bloomsday’ of Ulysses. In 1905 the couple settled in Trieste, where Joyce began teaching English and made friends with Italo Svevo. Joyce and Nora had two children, Giorgio and Lucia, and eventually married in 1931.
- Picture 3: After living in Zurich for some years, in 1920 Joyce moved to Paris, where the Americanborn bookseller Sylvia Beach agreed to publish Ulysses in 1922. A limited edition of 1,000 copies was followed by an English edition of 2,000 copies, also printed in Paris. The first unlimited edition followed in 1924, again in Paris, but there was no American edition until 1934, and no British edition until 1937.
- Picture 4: The period of success following the publication of Ulysses was also characterised by the worsening of Lucia’s mental illness. Joyce encouraged his daughter’s love of dancing, painting and drawing and spared no expense promoting her interests. Lucia’s condition deteriorated and she was sent to a mental hospital on the outskirts of Paris.
- Picture 5: In 1940, when France was occupied by the Germans, Joyce, Nora and Giorgio returned to Zurich, the city that had first given them refuge during World War I. Joyce never saw the conclusion of World War II. Following an intestinal operation, he died at the age of 59 in January 1941. He was buried in Zurich.
- In the early 20th century Joyce published his first short story, The Sisters, in the Evening Telegraph, which would eventually serve as the opening story in his Dubliners collection.
- Joyce’s first work to appear in book form was a collection of 36 short poems, Chamber Music (1907).
- Dubliners (1914), a collection of short stories all about Dublin and its life, was completed in 1905 but only published on the eve of the First World War.
- In 1914 Joyce wrote most of his naturalistic drama Exiles.
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, his semi-autobiographical novel, appeared in 1916.
- Ulysses was published in Paris in 1922. It is considered one of the great literary achievements of the 20th century.
- Finnegans Wake was published in 1939. With its variety of puns and new words, this novel was even more difficult to read than his previous work.
- Joyce’s effort was to give a realistic portrait of the life of ordinary people doing ordinary things and living ordinary lives in his home-town. By portraying these ordinary Dubliners, he succeeded in representing the whole of man’s mental, emotional and biological reality, fusing it with the cultural heritage of modern civilisation as well as with the reality of the natural world around him.
- His hostility towards the Church was the revolt of the artist-heretic against the official doctrine, or the struggle between an aesthete-heretic and a provincial Church which had taken possession of Irish minds. But the conflict was even more painful; it was like a conflict between a son and his parents linked to the quest for his artistic potentialities.
- It was to render life objectively in order to give back to the readers a true image of it. This necessarily led to the isolation and detachment of the artist from society.
- His style, technique and language developed from the realism and the disciplined prose of Dubliners, through an exploration of the characters’ impressions and points of view, through the use of free indirect speech, to the interior monologue with two levels of narration - a device used to give a realistic framework to the characters’ formless thoughts - up to the extreme interior monologue.
- His themes are reworked in such a way as to become gradually less relevant than the ‘narrative’ itself. The facts become confused, they are explored from different points of view simultaneously and are presented as ‘clues’ and not through the voice of an omniscient narrator. Time is not perceived as objective but as subjective, leading to psychological change. Thus the accurate description of Dublin is not strictly derived from external reality, but from the characters’ floating mind.
- It is a place where true feeling and compassion for others do not exist, where cruelty and selfishness lie just below the surface. In fact Joyce, being a Modernist writer, was hostile to city life, finding that it degraded its citizens.
- Dubliners consists of 15 short stories; they all lack obvious action, but they disclose human situations and moments of intensity, and lead to a moral, social or spiritual revelation. They are arranged into four groups: childhood, adolescence, maturity and public life.
- Everyone in Dublin seems to be caught up in an endless web of despair. Even when they want to escape, Joyce’s Dubliners are unable to because they are spiritually weak.
- The paralysis of Dublin, which is both physical - resulting from external forces - and moral - linked to religion, politics and culture -, is one of the most important themes in Dubliners. The opposite of paralysis is ‘escape’ and its consequent failure. It originates from an impulse caused by a sense of enclosure that many characters experience, but none of them succeeds in freeing themselves
- Realistic objects are described with an abundance of external details, even the most unpleasant and depressing ones. → The use of realism is mixed with symbolism, since external details generally have a deeper meaning. → The use of a symbolic object takes the reader beyond the usual aspects of life through the analysis of the particular.
- State what ‘epiphany’ is. It refers to ‘the sudden spiritual manifestation’ caused by a trivial gesture, an external object or a banal situation, which reveals the character’s inner truths. So at these revelatory moments the reader’s attention focuses on the real meaning of the narrative.
- Focus on the techniques employed by Joyce to tell his stories. What narrative techniques are adopted? In the first three stories, which make up the childhood section, Joyce employs a first-person narrator, who remains nameless and not identified. It may be the same little boy for each of them, but we can never be certain. This narrator describes events from the point of view of the young boy; this allows the reader to penetrate the boy’s mind and understand him better. For the other 12 stories a third person narrator is employed: he often shares a particular character’s perspective and tends to reflect the language and the sensitivity of the person who is being described.
- Explain how the interior monologue is used. The narrator tends to disappear in the interior monologue, which is in the form of free direct speech: the protagonist’s pure thoughts are introduced without any reporting verbs, which implies the disappearance of the narrator from the text. This allows the reader to acquire direct knowledge of the character’s mind. The syntactical structure maintains exclamations, questions, repetitions, interjections and exaggerations.
- Concentrate on the language used in the collection. What is it like? It appears simple, objective and neutral. It is always adapted to the characters according to their age, social class and role. Joyce also makes extensive use of chiasmus, that is, the patterned repetition of images, to create melodic effects, as in the final sentence of The Dead.
- was lodging
- fold her in his arms
- see her home
- A Eveline’s considerations of her life.
- It is evening (lines 1, 76) and the action takes place in Eveline’s living room (line 17). She is sitting at the window (line 1), then she stands up (line 97).
- Darkness and dust (lines 1, 17-18).
- She feels tired (lines 1-2).
- Use the references to the lines to find the following.
- Lines 3-10: what the world outside Eveline’s window makes her think about; It makes her think about her childhood. She remembers the field in which the children of the avenue and she once played together until a man from Belfast bought it and built houses in it. Ernest (Eveline's brother) was too old to join in their play
- Lines 10-13, 40-45: Eveline’s father in the past; Eveline and the other children of the avenue used to play and hide from Eveline’s father, who used to interfere with and spoil their play. However, at that time he was not so bad. She now fears her father, because he is a violent and uncontrolled man and she resents his parsimony.
- Lines 17-23: what objects the girl notices in her room and what feature these things share; She notices the yellowing photograph of a priest - a school friend of her father’s - and the coloured print of the promises made to Blessed Margaret Mary Alacoque next to the photograph. These objects share their being old and dusty.
- Lines 29-35: how Eveline considers her job; She considers her job as a department store clerk dull, and her superior abusive. ‘She would not cry many tears at leaving the Stores.’
- Lines 36-37, 58-59: what she has agreed to become and why; She has agreed to leave her home, her country, to move to Buenos Aires and become Frank’s wife. ‘People would treat her with respect then.’
- Line 66: who Frank is and what his job is; He is Eveline’s boyfriend and he works as a sailor.
- Lines 57-65, 67: what the girl remembers about him; She remembers Frank’s courtship, his being kind, open-hearted and lively. He has a house in Buenos Aires. He was awfully fond of music and sang a little. He used to call her Poppens.
- Lines 73-76: whether Eveline’s father accepted the young man; Eveline’s father quarrelled with him since he distrusted sailors. After that fight, Eveline and Frank had to meet secretly.
- Lines 85-92: what the sound of the organ reminds her of; It reminds her of the promise she made to her dying mother during her last night and how her father had paid a street organ player to move off, cursing all foreigners.
- Lines 93-96: how she sees her mother’s life and what her last words really meant for Eveline; She sees her mother’s life as a ‘life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness’. Her mother’s last words, seemingly Gaelic, were ‘Derevaun Seraun! Derevaun Seraun!’ Joyce passes over in silence the improbability that a Dublin woman of this time and class would know Gaelic.
- Line 97: what the girl experiences and what she perceives as her fate if she remains in Ireland; She experiences a sudden impulse of terror. She realises that if she remains in Ireland, she might have the same fate as her mother.
- Lines 97-98: what Frank represents to her. He is her saviour, the one who offers her the possibility of escape, of a life, and perhaps of love, too.
- A The lack of harmony in Eveline’s family
- B Eveline’s moral failure.
- Answer the following questions.
- Where is Eveline? Who surrounds her? She is at the station of North Wall, on the quayside, surrounded by a swaying crowd. The station is full of soldiers with brown baggage.
- What happens when she is on the quayside? She is paralysed and is not able to get on board the ship. ‘All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart’ (line 113).
- How does her relationship with Frank turn out to be? It turns out to be a superficial one since she dare not take risks and gives Frank ‘no sign of love or farewell or recognition’ (line 121) as he urges her to follow.
- What does the girl understand about her affections? She understands that her affections for her family are the most important ones, even if that place is a home with dusty curtains and that family contains a frequently drunken and abusive father.
- What is the effect produced by the last words of the story? The reader becomes aware of the end of Eveline’s dreams about an alternative life linked to love and freedom.
- The story is narrated in the third person and the point of view adopted is Eveline’s.
- Eveline’s thoughts in lines 17, 97, 116 are expressed through the technique of free direct speech.
- Focus on the character of Eveline.
- Does Joyce introduce her in a traditional way? What is the reader obliged to do? Eveline is not introduced in a traditional way, the story opens in medias res. We are not given any information about her physical appearance, family and school. The reader is obliged to infer the pieces of information from the development of her thoughts.
- How does she appear? Why? She appears tired and linked to stillness and paralysis, since she does not move and her only life is in her mind.
- Most of the story takes place in Eveline’s mind; however, her thoughts are not arranged in chronological order and they wander from past to present and future. Write her thoughts concerning past, present and future.
- Past: Her brother Harry, her sisters and she, together with the children of their same avenue, used to play in the field (lines 5-6, 8-9); her mother was dead (line 14); ‘she had dusted … many years’ (lines 17-18); ‘She had consented … her home’ (line 26); her father ‘had never gone for her’ (line 40); Frank’s courtship (lines 59-65); her father had forbidden her love (lines 73-76); ‘Sometimes [Eveline’s father] could be very nice … children laugh’ (lines 80-83); her mother’s last night and the promise she had made her (lines 86-96).
- Present: ‘She sat at the window’ (line 1); ‘She looked round the room’ (line 17); ‘She tried to weigh each side of the question’ (lines 26-27); ‘she had shelter and food’ (line 27); ‘she had to work hard, both in the house and at business’ (lines 28-29); ‘she sometimes felt herself in danger of her father’s violence’ (lines 38-39); ‘she had nobody to protect her’ (lines 42-43); she gave her entire wages (lines 44-45); her father was bad on Saturday night (line 49); ‘She had hard work … regularly’ (lines 53-55); letters to say goodbye (lines 77-78); she had to escape (line 97); she stood motionless among the crowd on the quayside (line 101); it was impossible for her to escape (lines 116-117); ‘she sent a cry of anguish’ (line 117); she was passive like a helpless animal (line 120).
- Future: ‘Now she was going to go away’ (lines 15-16); she would never see again all the things in her living room (lines 19-20); she would leave her job (lines 29-35); she would be married, have a new house and be treated with respect (lines 36-37); she was about to explore another life with Frank, she was to go away by night-boat and be his wife (lines 57-59); ‘Frank would save her’ (lines 97-98); ‘she would be on the sea with Frank, steaming towards Buenos Ayres’ (lines 107-108). All these thoughts of Eveline’s are expressed through the technique of free indirect speech.
- Give these images time references (past, present or future): dust, love, grey, the sea, death. Eveline’s present is linked to dust and to grey. Her past is connected with the death of her mother. Her future has connections with love and the sea.
- A simile is used in line 120 to describe the girl. Identify it. What does it add to the description of Eveline’s character? Eveline is compared to ‘a helpless animal’ because she is passive, paralysed and unable to make any decision.
- State what Eveline becomes aware of. She remembers the promise she made to her dying mother and becomes aware of the emptiness and the meaninglessness of her dreams and of her love.
- Say what this revelation is called. Epiphany.
Eveline’s plan of escape -> failure of her project -> Eveline’s paralysis. At first there is her plan of escape, which coexists with her antithetical wish of continuing to live in her home; then there is the gradual failure of her project to escape and paralysis wins inside her soul in the end. Probably she is too young to take any decision
B Her inability of escape.
- It starts in medias res.
- The main character is presented through her thoughts.
- Eveline’s thoughts reveal her past and future.
- Present, past and future mingle in Eveline’s mind.
- Free indirect speech is employed.
Suggestion: Students should point out the following notes:
- use of realism mixed with symbolism;
- use of a limited point of view;
- presentation of the character from the inside;
- use of a new concept of time;
- use of epiphany;
- theme of paralysis.
T103 Gabriel’s epiphany
- Part 1 (lines 1-33) Gabriel’s riot of emotions.
- Part 2 (lines 34-42) An intense moment of existence.
- Pink word: setting in place
- Highlighted in light blue: Gabriel’s thoughts expressed in the past simple and past continuous - the present of the narration
- Highlighted in green: Gabriel’s thoughts expressed in the past perfect - the past of the narration
- Highlighted in yellow: Gabriel’s thoughts expressed in the conditional - the future of the narration
- Arrow: lines where there is a passage from outer stimuli to inner reality
- Underlined in blue: realistic descriptions
- Highlighted in pink: symbols Can you explain them? According to the Bible, Gabriel is both the prince of fire and the angel of death. Gabriel Conroy is often connected with warmth, therefore with fire, and can be considered spiritually dead until the end. As for Michael, he is one of the seven archangels in the Jewish tradition and the only one specifically identified as an archangel in the Bible; in the New Testament he is portrayed as the leader of heaven’s armies in the war against Satan, and is thus considered the patron saint of soldiers in Christianity. Michael Furey will be remembered by Gretta forever, overshadowing the weak presence of her husband. The snow may be a symbol of death, because it covers the dead and the living indifferently, the symbol of hopeless solitude and incommunicability, or of the isolation and alienation of the artist in Dublin and Ireland; at the same time, it may be the symbol of purification and life, since it clears the world of all the negative images. Therefore, the final image of the falling snow symbolically reconciles life and death. Another important symbol is the journey; Gabriel feels the time has come for him to ‘set out on his journey westward’ (line 36). Traditionally, ‘going west’ means ‘dying’ and, to Joyce himself, leaving Ireland; yet Gretta and Michael, who lived and loved in Galway, represent the reality that must be faced. Gabriel’s westward journey, which includes these implications, remains ambiguous, since he goes towards the West to meet life and death.
- Red dots: epiphany What does Gabriel become aware of? He realises that he has played a poor part in his wife’s life.
- Blue words: examples of alliteration and chiasmus How would you define the language? Poetic.
- Gabriel is watching Gretta sleeping. They have come back to their hotel room after a Christmas party, and he starts thinking about the man who had died for his love to her wife.
- Because Gabriel’s thoughts begin to wander from past to present and future. Thus the scene acquires the tone of eternal truth.
- The conflicts of death and life, taking and giving, past, present and future.
- It has caused him to realise that the guests of the party and he are ‘more dead’ for Gretta than Michael Furey.
- He becomes one with all the living and the dead. Then, despite this dramatic fading out of his personality and his awareness of lacking love, Gabriel is no longer alone. He perceives himself as becoming part of the whole community of the living and the dead.
- It is the metaphorical pattern of life and death. Throughout the story the living are shown as spiritually dead, and though Michael is physically dead, he is alive in Gretta’s heart.
- overloaded with
- falling snow
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
- The indefinite article ‘A’ is no less important than the word ‘Portrait’: this means that this novel, like a painter’s work, is only one of the possible interpretations of a subject. The subject is the mind of the protagonist and the development of his personality in his early life.
- It belongs to the genre of Bildungsroman, or novel of education, which involves a young man, Stephen Dedalus, a young Irish writer, in search of experience and success.
- The novel is largely set in Dublin; at the end of the novel, however, the hero seeks voluntary exile in Paris.
- He undergoes several crucial transformations over the course of the novel. The first is from a shy little boy to a bright student who understands social interactions and can begin to make sense of the world around him. The second is from innocence to corruption. The third is from an unrepentant sinner to a devout Catholic. Finally, Stephen’s greatest transformation is from fanatical religiousness to a new devotion to art and beauty. By the end of his time in college, he has become a fully formed artist.
- A Portrait of the Artist begins with a third-person narrator and ends with a firstperson one. Most of the characters and the events presented are based on real characters and events but they are filtered through the consciousness of a fictional character, Stephen Dedalus, who is not identical to James Joyce even if so many of Stephen’s experiences have a biographical correlative. As with Dubliners, Joyce represented the complex inner lives of his characters by experimenting with points of view. Stephen is the unifying consciousness for each of the five chapters and we, the readers, see the world the way he does. The third-person narrator disappears when Stephen narrates his own experiences and thoughts through an extensive use of free direct speech.
- The language develops from what is appropriate to the very small child of the first chapter to the articulate comments on art made by a university student.
T104 Where was his boyhood now?
- had leaped
- The scene takes place on a shore. Stephen is gazing at the wild, beautiful scenery of the sea in front of him.
- He expresses his wish for the future (lines 1-3); he decides to wander along the beach (lines 4-8); he climbs down a sand slope (lines 9-11); he watches drifts of seaweed along the beach, the ‘water of the rivulet’ and the clouds (lines 12-16); he suddenly realises his boyhood is over (lines 17-19); his loneliness is in antithesis with the multitude of happy children in front of him (lines 20-23); he sees a lonely, still girl ‘before him in midstream’ (line 24); the girl is compared to a bird (lines 24-30); the girl and Stephen become aware of each other’s presence (lines 32-37); Stephen is ecstatic and excited at the sight of the girl (lines 38-41); he recognises the existence of ‘mortal youth and beauty’ in this vision (lines 42-47).
- The story is told by a third-person narrator and Stephen’s point of view is adopted.
- Is there any action in the usual sense of the term? What is the narrator more concerned with? No, there are no actions in the usual sense of the term. The narrator is more concerned with emotions (lines 1-3, 17-19, 32-47).
- Find examples of free direct speech and state their function. Some examples can be found in lines 1(‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’), 6 (‘On! On!’), 17-19 (‘Where was … was he?’), 43-44 (‘To live … out of life!’), 46 (‘On and … and on!’). These expressions allow the reader to get directly in touch with the character’s mind.
- Find expressions connected with sight and sound. All the words and expressions used to describe the seashore are connected with sight; hearing is linked to expressions like ‘voices childish and girlish’ (lines 22-23) and ‘The first faint noise’ (line 35).
- Several sound devices are exploited. Identify them and explain how they affect the atmosphere of the whole passage. Example of onomatopoeia: ‘swaying’ (line 14). Examples of alliteration: ‘soft and slight’ / ‘slight and soft’ (lines 29-30), ‘first’/‘faint’ (line 35). Examples of assonance: ‘slender’/‘legs’ (line 25), ‘thighs’/‘white’ (line 27), ‘hither and thither’ (lines 35, 36). All these sound devices contribute to underline the magic atmosphere created by the vision of the wading girl.
- ‘Her long … as a crane’s and pure’ (lines 25-26) (ideas of elegance, purity and freedom); ‘Her tights … as ivory’ (line 27) (ideas of softness and purity); ‘the white fringes … white down’ (lines 27-28) (ideas of purity, softness and elegance); ‘Her bosom … darkplumaged dove’ (lines 29-30) (ideas of chastity and purity).
- It conveys a positive image of the girl, who becomes the symbol of purity and freedom.
- Stephen’s reaction, which is described in physical terms (lines 38-41), reveals intense emotion and excitement.
- It reveals his wish to break free from all the constrictions imposed by the Catholic Church and the small world of Dublin. Several negative words and phrases are employed to describe Stephen’s negative boyhood: ‘the grave of boyhood’ linked to ‘graveclothes’ (line 1), that is, constrictions; ‘the shame of her wounds … at the touch’ (lines 18-19) are the images used to describe the squalor of Stephen’s life in his hometown.
- The words ‘worship of his eyes’ (line 32), ‘Heavenly God’ (line 38), ‘soul’ (lines 2, 17, 38, 42, 43), ‘holy’ (line 42) and ‘ecstasy’ (lines 42, 45) belong to the semantic area of ‘mysticism’, which is antithetical to ‘profane joy’ (line 38) and ‘A wild angel … an envoy’ (line 44). This contrast points out Stephen’s break with religion.
- It might be considered a statement of Stephen’s artistic creed, in which great emphasis is placed on error. Can you think of a reason why? Like Daedalus, Stephen wants to be an artist to enjoy creativity and freedom; but if an artist has to escape from the labyrinth of his world, he is destined to be alone, an outcast
|Sons and Lovers||A Portrait of the Artist|
|Characterisation||Focalisation on main characters: Paul and his mother and their relationship||The life of the character’s mind is portrayed.|
|Narrative method||Third-person narrator and use of a limited point of view.||Extensive use of free direct speech.|
|Style||Poetic style.||Use of a language which is Stephen’s and not the narrator’s; tends to suppress the narrating voice.|
|Emotional tone||The narrator is not detached.||The author uses a detached tone since his aim is to achieve the neutrality of the artist.|
Across Cultures: Memory
- It is the ability to store and access information in the mind relating to past events or experiences and it implies the capacity to place each of these in a temporal dimension. Memory is a fundamental element of our lives, it calls upon our inner selves and is related to sensitivity, empathy, character and emotion. Memory is our internal diary preserving the facts and the feelings of the past.
- Because it is strictly connected with the concept of the passing of time.
- The traditional notion of time was totally modified at the beginning of the 20th century thanks to the works of the philosophers William James and Henri Bergson, and the physicist Albert Einstein. The new perception of time led to a revaluation of individual consciousness and inner life. Moreover, memory also became a means to regain the happiness of the past as opposed to present disillusionment or crisis.
- These writers expressed the complexities of the relationship between past and present with the interior monologue. In their works the free association of memories often leads to the sudden realisation of submerged truths.
- This technique was first used extensively by the French novelist Édouard Dujardin in Les lauriers sont coupés, translated into English with the title We’ll to the Woods No More in 1887. In the 20th century it became a common characteristic of the socalled psychological novels, like the Austrian Arthur Schnitzler’s story of pre-war Vienna Leutnant Gustl (1901) or the American William Faulkner’s masterpiece, The Sound and the Fury (1929), where events are seen through the three minds of the Compson family
- Philosophy and science (America, France and Germany):
- Literature (Italy):
- temporal dimension
- Literature (France):
6.20 Virginia Woolf
- The summers at St Ives, Cornwall; the death of her mother; her first nervous breakdown; the revolt against her father’s aggressive and tyrannical character and his idealisation of the domesticated woman; her father’s death; the outbreak of WWII.
- In Bloomsbury, a neighbourhood of central London, she became a member of the Bloomsbury Group, which included the avantgarde of early 20th-century London. For these radical writers, artists and thinkers, the common denominators were a contempt for traditional morality and Victorian respectability, a rejection of artistic convention and a disdain for bourgeois sexual codes.
- She was interested in giving voice to the complex inner world of feeling and memory and saw the human personality as a continuous shift of impressions and emotions. So the events that traditionally made up a story were no longer important for her; what mattered was the impression they left on the characters who experienced them.
- In her novels the omniscient narrator disappeared, and the point of view shifted inside the different characters’ minds through flashbacks, associations of ideas and momentary impressions presented as a continuous flux.
- The novel takes place on a single ordinary day early in June of 1923 and follows the protagonist through a very small area of London, from the morning to the evening of the day on which she gives a large formal party.
- Clarissa Dalloway is a London society lady of 51, the wife of a Conservative MP, and she belongs to the upper-middle class. The influence of a possessive father, the frustration of a genuine love, the need to refuse Peter Walsh, a man who would force her to share everything - all this has weakened Clarissa’s emotional self and split her in two. She is characterised by opposing feelings: her need for freedom and independence and her class consciousness. Her life appears to be an effort towards order and peace, an attempt to overcome her weakness and sense of failure. She needs to make her home perfect to become an ideal human being, but she imposes severe restrictions on her spontaneous feelings
- Septimus Warren Smith is a character specifically connected with the war, he is a ‘shell-shock’ case, one of the victims of industrialised warfare, who sought medical treatment in the special centres set up by 1922.
- They are similar in many respects: their response to experience is always given in physical terms and they depend upon their partners for stability and protection. There is a fundamental difference, however, which has contradicted the theory that Septimus is Clarissa’s double. He is not always able to distinguish between his personal response and external reality. His psychic paralysis leads him to suicide, whereas Clarissa never loses her awareness of the outside world as something external to herself. In the end she recognises her deceptions, accepts the idea of ageing and of death, and is prepared to go on.
- They remind the reader of the temporal grid which organises the narrative, of the passing of time in life and of its flowing into death.
- It expresses itself in moments of vision which are at the same time objective (the clocks, the streets, the cars, the flowers) and yet subjectively creative, since they are recreated every moment by active consciousness.
- Differently from Joyce’s characters, who show their thoughts directly through interior monologue, sometimes in an incoherent and syntactically unorthodox way, Woolf never lets her characters’ thoughts flow without control, and she maintains logical and grammatical organisation. Her technique is based on the fusion of streams of thought into a third-person, past tense narrative.
- They are rare occasions of insight during the characters’ daily life when they can see reality behind appearances. They are similar to Joyce’s ‘epiphanies’.
T105 Clarissa and Septimus
- Part 1(lines 1-23) Mrs Dalloway’s visit at the florist’s is interrupted by the explosion of a tyre in the street.
- Part 2(lines 24-37) Various people’s reactions to the explosion and their speculations about who might be in the car.
- Part 3 (lines 38-41) Introduction of Septimus Warren Smith.
- Part 4 (lines 42-53) The busy traffic in the street and Septimus’s thoughts.
- Part 5(lines 54-73) Description of Lucrezia’s appearance and thoughts. She is worried because Septimus wants to kill himself.
- Highlighted in yellow: the setting in time and place: it is a late afternoon in summer, at a florist’s in London
- Highlighted in grey: words and phrases describing Miss Pym, the florist, and conveying her opinion of and behaviour towards Mrs Dalloway
- Pink words: the main event in the passage is a violent explosion due to the bursting tyre of a car driving along Bond Street. The fact that the chauffeur draws the blind makes everyone think that there is someone important in the car
- Highlighted in orange: words describing the character of Mrs Dalloway. She is presented as a kind, elegant woman; she is sensitive to smell and colours and likes flowers, yet she is also capable of hatred. She is also curious
- Highlighted in green: words describing the character of Septimus Warren Smith
- Highlighted in pink: words describing the character of Lucrezia, Septimus’s wife
- Underlined in blue: words giving an insight into the changes in society such as cars and other vehicles, newspapers. The idea conveyed is that of busy city life
- Blue words: words referring to the senses. There are references to sight, hearing, smell and touch but the prevailing sense is sight. Woolf wants to emphasise that the characters’ response to the outside world is both emotional and physical
- Red dots: examples of free indirect speech, a literary technique that describes the interior thoughts of characters using third-person singular pronouns (he and she)
- Miss Pym went to the window and looked apologetic for the noise coming from the street (lines 21-23). Mrs Dalloway jumped (line 24). Passers-by stopped and stared (line 26). Edgar J. Watkiss said it was the Prime Minister’s car (lines 36-37). Mrs Dalloway came to the window and looked out with curiosity (lines 45-46). Septimus was frightened and thought he was blocking the way and that everyone was looking at him (lines 49- 53). Lucrezia at first wondered who might be in the car (lines 56-57) but she was afraid everyone might notice her husband’s strange behaviour (lines 63-66).
- C Piece by piece through association.
- The omniscient narrator is a commenting voice who knows everything about the characters. This voice appears occasionally among the subjective thoughts of the characters. The point of view changes constantly, often shifting from one character’s stream of consciousness (subjective interior thoughts) to another’s within a single paragraph. Woolf most often uses free indirect speech, a literary technique that describes the interior thoughts of characters using third-person singular pronouns (‘he’ and ‘she’). This technique allows subtle and smooth transitions between the thoughts of different characters. The author’s aim is to convey reality as a continuous shift of subjective impressions and emotions and to stress the importance of apparently meaningless facts as stimuli to psychological responses.
- There is a continuous passage from outer to inner reality. The text mostly consists of perceptions and thoughts.
- Dashes. Semicolons. Question marks. Exclamations. Very short sentences.
- Mental illness:
- Alienation Line 41: ‘The world has raised its whip, where will it descend?’
- Panic Lines 48-51: ‘Septimus thought, and this gradual drawing together of everything to one centre before his eyes, as if some horror had come almost to the surface and was about to burst into flames, terrified him. The world wavered and quivered and threatened to burst into flames.’
- Feelings of guilt Lines 51-53: ‘It is I who am blocking the way, he thought. Was he not being looked at and pointed at; was he not weighted there, rooted to the pavement, for a purpose? But for what purpose?’
- Anger Lines 61-62: ‘But her husband, for they had been married four, five years now, jumped, started, and said, ‘All right!’ angrily, as if she had interrupted him.’
- Madness Line 65: ‘Septimus had said, ‘I will kill myself’; an awful thing to say
- pistol shot
- shell shock
T106 Clarissa’s party
A young man has committed suicide by throwing himself out of a window. His body was wounded by ‘the rusty spikes’ (line 5) and smashed onto the ground.
Lines 1-2, 7, 9-10, 38-39, 51-52, 56-57, 60-61.
The young man is Septimus Warren Smith. ‘They’ are the Bradshaws and the people at the party
- She is annoyed by the fact that the Bradshaws talk about death at her party. She identifies with the young man and wonders why he has killed himself.
- An old woman staring at her from the window in the opposite room; she is alone and she is going to bed.
- Her guests ‘laughing and shouting’; the clock ‘striking the hour’ (lines 51, 54).
- to find Sally and Peter, two old friends of hers.
Thoughts about the past: lines 8-11, 34-42, 53. Thoughts about the present can be seen in the rest of the text.
Lines 3-4, 27-30.
Richard is a conventional man (he reads the Times) and Clarissa feels protected and reassured by him. Their relationship is not based on love and passion but provides her with shelter from her weaknesses and insecurity. Lines 27-30
She experiences a moment of clarity, or ‘moment of being’, when she realises that the social life she values so much is false and superficial. However, she finally accepts herself and chooses to go on living. Unlike Septimus, who is not always able to distinguish between his personal response and the nature of external reality, Clarissa never loses her awareness of the outside world as something external to herself. In the end she recognises her deceptions, accepts the idea of ageing and of death, and is prepared to go on.
Clarissa: tolerance of superficial and false life; sanity; social success; final self-acceptance; life. Septimus: inability to conform; madness; alienation from society; rejection of existence; death.
- Line 5 ‘Up had flashed the ground’ -> inversion
- Line 5 ‘blundering, bruising’ -> alliteration
- Line 6 ‘a thud, thud, thud’ -> onomatopoeia and repetition
- Line 6 ‘a suffocation of blackness’ -> metaphor
- What impression do you get? Tick as appropriate.
The stress is on the brutality of the act.
- Write them down and say what vision of death they imply.
- From Othello: ‘If it were now to die, ’twere now to be most happy’ (lines 16-17). It is better to die in a moment of absolute happiness rather than to bear the suffering of life.
- From Cymbeline: ‘Fear no more the heat of the sun’ (line 56). Death is seen as a shelter from the hardship of nature and the blows of life. However, Clarissa repeats this line from Cymbeline and she continues to endure.
- By choosing death, he has protected himself from further suffering and freed his soul from the constraints of society
|the sky||past -> present -> future||the continuity of life|
|the older woman||Clarissa sees herself in old age||the awareness of the passing of time|
|the clock||nner and outer reality||the voice of reality|
Virginia Woolf suffered from nervous breakdowns and mental illness and spent some time in a nursing house. She attempted suicide and eventually drowned herself. Moreover, Clarissa’s relationship with Richard reminds us of that between Woolf and her husband Leonard.
The feeling of rootlessness, anxiety and frustration following the First World War is reflected in Woolf’s choice of themes and in the use of short, ‘broken’ sentences. Sigmund Freud’s influence can be seen in the importance given to the human psyche, William James’s and Henri Bergson’s in the concept of time. The technical experimentation of the stream of consciousness is one of the features of Modernism in literature, as well as the idea that reality is not perceived objectively but subjectively and the importance of isolated moments which provide an insight into the nature of things.
Suggestion: Students should develop the following notes:
- Subject of the novel. The novel deals with the characters’ inner reality (their emotions, thoughts and memories) and their response(both physical and psychological) to external reality. Woolf juxtaposes the themes of youth and old age, life and death, sanity and madness.
- Concept of time. It is not chronological but linked to ‘moments of being’. There is a continuous shift from inner to external time and vice versa.
- Narrator. Woolf fuses stream of thought into a third-person past tense narrative.
- Characterisation. The characters are introduced through their perceptions, thoughts and feelings.
6.21 George Orwell
- He had a deep understanding of the English character, of its tolerance, its dislike of abstract theories and insistence on common sense and fair play. On the other hand, his various experiences abroad contributed to his unusual ability to see his country from the outside and to judge its strengths and weaknesses. Closely linked to this quality was the fact that he chose to reject his background and to establish a separate identity of his own; as a consequence, he was receptive to new ideas and impressions.
- What conflict did he experience? The unresolved conflict between his middle-class background and education and his emotional identification with the working class.
- As a writer of the Thirties, he valued social commitment and content over form and had left-wing sympathies. His aim was to inform, to reveal facts and draw conclusions from them.
- He believed that writing interpreted reality and therefore served a useful social function. However, he believed that the writer should be independent, that no good writing could come from following a party line.
- He dealt with political and social themes. He insisted on tolerance, justice and decency in human relationships, and warned against the increasing artificiality of urban civilisation. Above all he strongly criticised totalitarianism, warning against the violation of liberty and helping his readers to recognise tyranny in all its forms.
- World War II, the Tehrān Conference of 1943, and the tyrannies in Spain, Germany and the Soviet Union.
- Winston Smith is the last man to believe in humane values in a totalitarian age. ‘Smith’, the commonest English surname, suggests his symbolic value; ‘Winston’ evokes Churchill’s patriotic appeals for ‘blood, toil, tears and sweat’ during the Second World War. Winston is 39 and physically weak; he experiences alienation from society and feels a desire for spiritual and moral integrity. His main concern is the manipulation of history by the Party, and he greatly fears the moment when no one will have any memories of actual history.
- Julia is more naïve and is pessimistic about the Party, since she believes that it will never be overthrown. She is not much concerned with historical truth.
- Because he is a member of the Inner Party who tricks Winston and Julia into believing that he belongs to the secret Brotherhood, which is dedicated to overthrowing the Party. The reader is also given little background information about him, which makes O’Brien a mysterious character.
- Nineteen Eighty-Four is a satire on hierarchical societies which destroy fraternity. The main themes are the attempts to preserve mutual trust, memory and decency
- Because it does not present an ideal or perfect community embodying the author’s ideals, but it shows a future society that satirises existing conditions of society. The novel does not offer consolation but reveals Orwell’s acute sense of history and his sympathy with the millions of people persecuted and murdered in the name of the totalitarian ideologies of the 20th century.
- Orwell presents a frightening picture of the future as being under the constant control of ‘Big Brother’. There is no privacy because there are monitors called ‘telescreens’ watching every step people take; love is forbidden but there is the ‘Two Minutes Hate’ and the country is in a perpetual state of war. The Party has absolute control of the press, communication and propaganda; language, history and thought are controlled in the interests of the State through the gradual introduction of Newspeak, the official language of Oceania, whose lexis is so limited that people find it impossible to express their own ideas. Any form of rebellion against the rules is punished with prison, torture and liquidation.
T107 Big Brother is watching you
- Paragraph 1: The setting in time and the main character Winston Smith.
- Paragraph 2: The hallway, the stairs, and the posters of Big Brother on each landing.
- Paragraph 3: The telescreen inside Winston’s flat.
- Paragraph 4: The coldness of the world outside, the posters plastered everywhere, and the presence of the patrols.
- Paragraph 5: The lack of privacy inside the flat due to the overwhelming control of the Thought Police.
- Paragraph 6: Winston’s mood, his distaste for the living conditions in London and his (vain) attempt to remember what London was like during his childhood.
- Paragraph 7: The Ministry of Truth and the three slogans of the Party
- Highlighted in yellow: setting in time and place
- Highlighted in green: weather conditions
- Highlighted in grey: description of London. It is full of details that are usually connected with war time. Even the details of the soap and razor blades (lines 20-21) and the name ‘Victory’ given to houses (lines 2-3) can be linked to war time
- Pink words: details concerning the social, economic and political organisation in Oceania, particularly as regards security and control, economic plans, people’s private lives, language. Oceania has a totalitarian government under the leadership of Big Brother, whom nobody has ever seen except on the posters that are hanging everywhere. The government has total control on the life of the citizens, whose private and public behaviour is constantly watched through telescreens and helicopters. The Thought Police has the task of controlling and manipulating people’s thoughts and opinions. The main principles of this government are expressed in the slogans at the end of the passage. There is also the Ministry of Truth, which is Winston’s place of work
- Highlighted in light blue: description of the protagonist: his name, age, address, physical appearance, job and mood
- Blue words: description of the posters portraying Big Brother
- A third-person omniscient narrator is used, and Winston’s point of view is adopted. Orwell used the past tense narrative to give his picture of the future the illusion of reality. Although his aim was to provide a disturbing picture of a possible future, his technique is that of the traditional realist novelist.
- Realistic, concrete, ironical, varied in register.
- Consider the symbolic meaning of the elements concerning Winston Smith’s description.
- His name has a heroic connotation, since it was Churchill’s name.
- His surname makes him the ‘man of the street’.
- No, he is an ordinary man, a sort of anti-hero.
- No, he cannot remember anything about his past. Nothing remains of his childhood.
- Analyse the presence of Big Brother in the extract.
- It is conveyed through posters with captions. This reminds the reader of the conditioning of advertising.
- Lines 6-7, 25-27; Stalin or Hitler.
- Suggestion: Students might discuss the following: the lack of privacy, freedom of thought and speech; mismanagement (lifts out of order, blunt razors, ruined houses, the dust outside suggesting that the streets are not clean); the perpetual state of war; the general atmosphere of squalor and gloom.
- Analyse the three slogans of the Party.
- Words with opposite meanings; he uses paradox.
- It acquires a satirical meaning.
- The INGSOC aims to achieve total control over the people and especially over their minds. One of the main mind programmes of the Party is Doublethink, which describes the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct. ‘WAR IS PEACE’ and ‘FREEDOM IS SLAVERY’ are good examples of double thinking. Though contradictory by definition, they are both accepted as correct, simultaneously, by the citizens of Oceania. This means that even if Oceania is in a constant state of war, the people are acting as if there were peace as well, so they can easily switch from one emotion to the other, in accordance to what the Party orders. ‘FREEDOM IS SLAVERY’ also acts as a subconscious discouragement for anyone who might desire freedom, while the third slogan, ‘IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH’, encourages the people to accept as true everything that the Party tells them, without using rational thinking. For example, even if there is a constant shortage of everything, and the people make great efforts to get the most basic things (e.g. shaving razors), they are convinced that there is, in fact, abundance - only because the Party keeps repeating this every day. In their highly conditioned minds, it can be both scarcity and abundance, at the same time.
- He makes a parody of any form of totalitarianism. He attacks the sense of loss of the finest emotions and values of contemporary Britain and warns the reader against the danger of total adhesion to a political system and its leader.
Suggestion: Students might refer to Samuel Pepys, William Blake, William Wordsworth and Charles Dickens.
Students should point out that while in Chaucer April means renewal and rebirth, in Eliot and Orwell it acquires a negative connotation since it is linked to the ideas of aridity and alienation.
T108 Room 101
- By the slight difference in the air pressure.
- Two small tables in front of him, each covered with a green cloth.
- He is strapped upright in a chair and cannot even move his head because a sort of pad grips it from behind.
- In Room 101.
- As containing the worst thing in the world, which varies from individual to individual.
- The guard brings an oblong wire cage divided lengthways into two compartments (each containing rats) and with a handle on top. There is a sort of fencing mask fixed in front of it, with the concave side outwards.
- He reminds him of a dream where he saw a wall of blackness in front of him and heard a roaring sound in his ears. There was something terrible on the other side of the wall and Winston knew what it was - rats -, but he dared not admit it.
- Because O’Brien puts the mask on his face and is ready to click the cage door open.
- What does he think is the only way to escape torture? To transfer his punishment onto someone else, to ‘interpose […] the body of another human being, between himself and the rats’ (lines 74-75).
- Yes, because O’Brien does not open the cage door and the mice do not attack Winston’s face.
The third-person narrator is not part of the story but in the minds of the characters like an all-seeing eye or an omniscient presence overlooking the proceedings. The reader shares Winston’s point of view.
|Imprisonment.||In the windlowless building (lines 1-2).|
|He had been beaten.||In the cells below ground level (lines 2-3).|
|He had been interrogated by O’Brien.||In a room high up near the roof (lines 3-4).|
Words such as ‘something’, ‘(of) some kind’, ‘it’ and ‘thing’ are used in order to increase the fear of the unknown. O’Brien’s words shape Winston’s frightened thoughts. Lack of knowledge can be a very scary thing; if you do not know what something is, then you do not have the possibility of facing it.
Lines 16-18: he provides some examples such as ‘burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement’ because it varies from individual to individual depending on what one is most afraid of.
First of all they are Winston’s worst fear, so on the one hand, the rats represent fear. On the other hand, they symbolise depravity. Throughout history, humans have associated rats with squalor and pestilence. Rats carry disease and thrive on human garbage. Rats rank among the world’s most ‘beastlike’ (as opposed to ‘humanlike’) creatures. Winston’s universe is filled with humans who act and are treated like beasts. Winston and his fellow citizens become rats, trapped in Big Brother’s cage. If people allow forces such as those represented by Big Brother to rule, then they will become no better than mindless, multiplying rats.
The theme of psychic mind control manifests itself in the Party’s manipulation of the body: Orwell consistently argues that physical pain and the sense of physical danger can override human reason. Winston, facing a writhing swarm of rats prepared to devour his face, cannot act rationally. His betrayal of Julia occurs precisely because physical pain eliminates the possibility of defending emotional conviction. Turning against Julia is an instinctive act of self-preservation. Rather than the rats themselves, it is the awareness, forced upon him by the Party, that he is a prisoner of his own body that ultimately breaks Winston. Once he believes that he is limited by his body, he has no reason to think, act, or rebel.
The climax is in lines 80-87. Winston is mindless in his absolute fear and despair, then a tiny fragment of hope glimmers into his mind, he is frantic to transfer his punishment onto someone else and finally screams ‘Do it to Julia!’
A sort of premonitory tremor’ (line 25); ‘His bowels seemed to turn to water’ (line 27); ‘making an effort to control his voice’ (line 33); ‘could hear the blood singing in his ears’ (line 47); ‘He had the feeling of sitting in utter loneliness’ (lines 47- 48); ‘made a frantic effort to tear himself loose from the chair’ (line 61); ‘he fought furiously against his panic’ (line 70); ‘For an instant he was insane, a screaming animal’ (line 73); ‘Again the black panic took hold of him. He was blind, helpless, mindless’ (lines 79-80); ‘it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope’ (lines 82-83); ‘he was shouting frantically, over and over’ (line 85); ‘He was falling backwards, into enormous depths’ (line 88); ‘He was light years distant’ (line 91); ‘the darkness that enveloped him’ (line 92)
He delays the answer to the question ‘what was in Room 101’ (line 11): this increases the suspense as well as Winston’s fear. ‘O’Brien made no direct answer. When he spoke it was in the schoolmasterish manner that he sometimes affected. He looked thoughtfully into the distance, as though he were addressing an audience somewhere behind Winston’s back’ (lines 35-37): O’Brien acts as a sort of teacher or preacher, he seems completely devoid of emotion.
Winston’s perceptions: ‘They were enormous rats. They were at the age when a rat’s muzzle grows blunt and fierce and his fur brown instead of grey’ (lines 50-51); ‘an outburst of squeals from the cage’ (line 57); ‘the foul musty odour of the brutes’ (line 71); ‘could see the whiskers and the yellow teeth’ (line 79). O’Brien’s description: ‘although a rodent, is carnivorous’ (line 52); ‘The rats are certain to attack it. Within quite a small time they will strip it to the bones. They also attack sick or dying people. They show astonishing intelligence in knowing when a human being is helpless’ (lines 54-56); ‘starving brutes’ (line 66); ‘They will leap on to your face and bore straight into it. Sometimes they attack the eyes first. Sometimes they burrow through the cheeks and devour the tongue’ (lines 66-68). Winston’s perception of the rats passes through all the senses and conveys a sense of nausea that is transferred onto the reader. O’Brien’s description is detached and based on objective facts, which make it even more horrible and frightening. The effect achieved is realistic and makes the reader identify with Winston and feel shocked at the Party’s treatment of a human being
First, he contrasts the calm O’Brien and the terrified Winston in a slow, tortured build-up where every sound and every smell is meticulously described. Second, O’Brien presents contrasting features: his tone is calm, detached, yet his actions are calculatedly merciless and the content of his speech is brutal. He sends chills down the reader’s spine as well as Winston’s with his displaced tranquillity
The room teaches Winston that when faced with his greatest fear, he would be willing to sacrifice anything - love, dignity, loyalty - in order to escape it. Through that fear, O’Brien and the Party have taken control of Winston’s mind. Julia is the only person in the world whom Winston could have thrust between himself and the rats because she is the only person standing between him and his love of Big Brother. As long as Winston loved Julia, and what she represented to him, he was able to believe in himself and his humanity enough to hate Big Brother. Once he betrays that love, he violates his own humanity and can no longer love another human.
Suggestion: Students might refer to the danger lying in the acceptance of a totalitarian outlook by intellectuals of all colours. Orwell also warns against the creation of ‘Super-States’, of great blocks that will be in opposition to each other. In the background there is also the threat of a total war with new weapons, of which the atomic bomb is the most powerful.
- Suggestion: Some students may regard Winston as a coward because he betrayed the woman he loved, others may say he was not a coward for trying to transfer the punishment onto Julia but that he simply acted out of self-preservation. Any man might do the same if faced with their greatest fear, as we are not unthinking machines nor are we unfeeling. Winston’s main attributes are his rebelliousness and fatalism. O’Brien succeeds in depriving him of his dignity by breaking his humanity.
6.22 Francis Scott Fitzgerald
- Education: He studied in a Catholic boarding school in New Jersey and in 1913 he went to Princeton University.
- Married life: In 1920 he married Zelda Sayre; they led a life of luxury and excess, spending a lot of money on entertainment, parties, alcohol and drugs.
- Works and themes: Works: This Side of Paradise (1920), Tales of the Jazz Age (1922), The Beautiful and Damned (1922), The Great Gatsby (1925), Tender Is the Night (1934), The Last Tycoon (unfinished).
- Themes: the sense of loss and emptiness hiding behind the cult of money and materialism; the hedonism, corruption and loss of ideals of the Lost Generation; the failure of the dreams and ideals of the Twenties.
- Reputation: His first works were very successful. Popularity declined with The Great Gatsby. He began to write film scripts to pay his debts.
- Death: An alcoholic, he died of a heart attack in 1940.
The Great Gatsby
- next-door neighbour
- humble midwestern
- runs over
- The protagonist of the novel, James Gatz, comes from a humble midwestern family. He makes every effort to rise above poverty, he even changes his name into Jay Gatsby. While in the army, he falls in love with Daisy, who, though returning Jay’s love, eventually marries Tom Buchanan, a wealthy, arrogant man. Gatsby later makes a fortune in some illegal way. He then rents a magnificent mansion on the less fashionable shore of Long Island, just on the opposite side of the bay to Daisy’s house; there he gives fabulous parties. Gatsby is presented as a mysterious character, since he seldom takes part in the parties he organises. Rich and attractive, with some secret hidden in his past, he has the stature of a romantic hero who dies for his dream; but he also embodies the self-made man who tries to recreate the past through the power of money and is destroyed in the end.
- Thanks to Nick Carraway - Gatsby’s neighbour and Daisy’s cousin -, Daisy and Jay meet again and begin an affair. One day Daisy has a fight with her husband and, while driving back with Gatsby, she accidentally runs over Tom’s mistress, Myrtle Wilson, who dies. Myrtle’s husband finds out that the car which killed her is Gatsby’s, so he shoots him in his pool. Daisy reconciles with her husband.
- He is both an observer and a participant in the novel. He is the only character to show and hold on to a sense of morals and decency. Nick can be seen as representing the outsider that Fitzgerald felt himself to be, and is also linked to the theme of the contrast between East and West. He comes from the West and returns to it at the end of the novel. Through him, Fitzgerald shows his fondness for the West, which he idealised as being more moral than the East.
- She is very moody, theatrical and impulsive; she is characterised by meanness of spirit, carelessness and absence of loyalty.
- Nick Carraway is the narrator from whose point of view all the events and characters of the story are presented. Nick is a retrospective narrator who, after going through an experience, looks back on it with a better understanding. Fitzgerald rejects chronological order and uses the fragmentation of time and frequent flashbacks to represent the inner world of his characters and to show the way knowledge is normally acquired in real life.
- The Great Gatsby contains many insights and criticisms of American life in the Jazz Age. The Americanness of the novel is emphasised by such themes as the move from West to East; the confrontation between the romantic ideals of courage, honour and beauty, and the corrupt world of greed and money; the relationship between Gatsby’s material achievements and the myth of going ‘from rags to riches’; the tremendous growth of the car industry; the corrupting effects of Prohibition; the poverty of spiritual life in America during its most hedonistic decade.
- Picture 2: Gatsby’s house is at the same time real and symbolic: carefully described in its various rooms and acres of garden, it celebrates Gatsby’s luck and success during the parties, but embodies his melancholy and loneliness when it is empty.
- Picture 3: The car is another symbolic image in the novel, which stands for the destructive power of modern society and money
T109 Nick meets Gatsby
- Part 1 (lines 1-11) Nick goes to Gatsby’s party.
- Part 2 (lines 12-39) Nick joins Jordan Baker at the party and they meet various people.
- Part 3 (lines 40-57) Rumours about Gatsby’s past.
- Part 4 (lines 58-71) Description of the big party.
- Part 5 (lines 72-102) Nick finally meets Gatsby.
- Highlighted in yellow: description of Nick’s appearance, mood and feelings. We are given few details about his appearance; Fitzgerald tells us only how he is dressed (line 1) and insists on his sensations and feelings. At the beginning of the party, Nick does not feel at ease because he does not know anybody (lines 1-2) and is struck by wealthy businessmen talking (he presumes) about ‘bonds or insurance or automobiles’ (line 5), he feels purposeless and alone (line 11), he is embarrassed (line 12), he feels he has to attach himself to someone (line 15), he feels unnatural (line 17). Later on he begins to relax and enjoy himself, especially because he has been drinking champagne (lines 69-70), but he is again embarrassed when he fails to recognise Gatsby (line 88)
- Highlighted in green: the topics of conversation at Gatsby’s party
- Highlighted in light blue: what people do at the party: they talk, gossip, walk in the garden, laugh, drink, dance, sing, do stunts
- Highlighted in pink: description of Jordan Baker. She looks at the people around her in a contemptuous way (lines 13-14), she responds to Nick’s address absently (line 18) and holds his hand impersonally (lines 20-21), she is a golf player but has lost her latest tournament (line 23), her arm is slender and golden (line 27)
- Underlined in blue: gradual introduction of the character of Gatsby
- Red dots: references to the moon
- He is obviously an outsider, he does not belong to the vacuous world surrounding Gatsby and feels displaced. The reader also perceives a core of honesty and moral firmness in Nick.
- Gatsby is introduced in an indirect way through Nick’s gradual awareness of him. First of all through Nick’s acquaintance with his house: when he steps onto Gatsby’s vast lawn, he enters his world (line 1). He finds that most of the people there do not know Gatsby and even spread rumours about him. In this way Fitzgerald creates a halo of mystery and romanticism around Gatsby’s figure (lines 43-57). Nick is told that Gatsby was a German spy during the war and that he even killed a man. Nick finally meets Gatsby, who introduces himself and invites Nick to fly on his hydroplane with him. It is important to highlight the insistence on Gatsby’s way of speaking and his smile: his speech is absurdly formal and his smile is rare in its self-assurance. The narrator also hints at Gatsby’s age (line 68) and at his elegance. The reader gets the impression that Gatsby has created his own identity from personal romanticism based on typical social behaviour. In other words, he has created a role for himself and the role has replaced the self. Gatsby’s smile symbolises the basic quality of the ‘Gatsby dream’ and the romanticism of the American dream itself.
- The moon seems artificially placed by a caterer as a decoration for the party. Traditionally a Romantic symbol of imagination, it is here reduced to a parody of its dreamy quality
Gatsby’s party is like a great public festival. The people act as if they were at an amusement park and lounge here and there sometimes without even meeting the host. There are buffets with plenty of good food to eat, alcohol to drink and an orchestra playing jazz. Guests who have met before do not even remember each other, and impersonality is the dominant attitude. There is laughter without amusement, enthusiasm between strangers. The effect is that of a gigantic and somehow absurd gesture of ‘the good life’ which will be replaced by the reality of the following Monday. All these elements reflect, on the one hand, the economic prosperity and general feeling of euphoria that characterised the American society of the ‘Roaring Twenties’, when the economy grew quickly, new industries flourished, and a new taste for experimentation in music, dance and fashion became widespread. On the other hand, they bring to light the moral sterility, superficial hedonism and contradictions which also marked the Jazz Age and were especially evident among young people.
6.23 Ernest Hemingway
- He had a very active childhood hunting and fishing in the Great Lakes region with his father, boxing or playing rugby.
- He mastered the rigorous rules of ‘pure objective writing’, characterised by declarative sentences without any unnecessary words or clichés.
- He joined the Red Cross as an ambulance driver in 1918. On his journey to the Italian front he stopped in Paris, which was under constant bombardment from German artillery. He did not want to stay in the relative safety of his hotel, but tried to get as close to combat as possible. In the same year he was wounded by a mortar fragment in Italy; the Italian government later presented him with a medal for dragging a wounded Italian soldier to safety in spite of his own injuries.
- The Old Man and the Sea (1952) won him the 1953 Pulitzer Prize in fiction, and in 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature; this was the high point of his literary career, which ensured his legacy for future generations.
- It is identified with a codified set of actions which gives man the measure of his control over events. Beyond these actions there is nothingness and death.
- The ‘Hemingway hero’, who remains basically the same from book to book, is an outdoorsman but he is not primitive; he is extremely sensitive to the chaotic world he lives in and the pain it inflicts; he wishes he were braver, but he does the best he can in stressful circumstances. In contrast to this kind of action hero is the ‘code hero’, so-called because he is able to live up to standards beyond the reach of ordinary human beings. He is honourable and extremely courageous; he cannot overcome the forces he confronts but he provides an example of honourable behaviour by facing death or terrible danger with dignity.
- His style is dry and essential, characterised by simple syntax, colloquial, concise dialogue and brief descriptions - often of landscapes.
- What was he fascinated with from boyhood? He was fascinated by death and particularly by suicide. Five of his seven completed novels end with the death of a male protagonist, while a sixth ends with the death of the heroine. Several short stories take a macabre approach to the subject.
- Hemingway’s injury on the Italian front during World War I was a traumatic event that provided a source for most of his writing. The compulsion to master the trauma can explain his necessity to test his courage by climbing into bullrings, hunting wild game and facing enemy fire during subsequent wars. He put himself at risk and was often injured.
A Farewell to Arms
- ambulance driver
- Italian front
- Milan hospital
- being wounded
- It takes place on the Italian front during World War I.
- Frederick Henry, an American who volunteers for the Italian ambulance service before the United States joins the war. He is the classic Hemingway hero: he does his duty without complaint and thinks that men should be free from passion. However, he undergoes an extraordinary transformation in the course of the novel. At the beginning he believes that war is dreadful but necessary and has a lust for adventure, drinking and women. Later he becomes intensely pessimistic about the war and realises that his love for Catherine is the only thing he is ready to commit himself to. He is full of noble ideas when he joins the army, but his experience during the war shakes his beliefs in Church, State, patriotism and love.
- War and love. War is presented as something inevitable. Against the backdrop of war, Hemingway offers a profound meditation on the nature of love. Henry and Catherine find temporary happiness and relief from suffering in each other. The lieutenant’s understanding of how meaningful his love for Catherine is overwhelms any consideration about abstract ideals such as honour, enabling him to escape from the war and return to her. The tragedy of the novel rests in the fact that their love can only be temporary in this world. The notions of loyalty and desertion can be applied both to love and war. The novel, however, suggests that loyalty is linked more to a personal need of love and friendship than to the grand political causes and abstract philosophies of battling nations.
- The technique of the first-person narrator: it is the protagonist who tells his story, gradually discovering meaning in the events he experiences.
- The language employed is simple and straightforward but requires the active participation of the reader for a true understanding, since the meaning of the story is revealed through suggestions, omissions and frequent use of free direct speech.
T110 There is nothing worse than war
- leaned over
- shut up
- It is night (‘It was dark’, line 42); the characters are in the trenches on the Italian front during WWI - there are ‘mountains’ (line 43) and a road ‘close behind the lines’ (line 44-45)
- Character: Henry. What he says about war: War would not finish if one side stopped fighting (line 1); ‘Defeat is worse’ (line 4); the enemies would take possession of the home and the sisters of the defeated, they would hang them and oblige them to be soldiers in their armies (lines 6, 9-10); the Italian soldiers know nothing about being conquered, that is why they think it would not be bad (line 14); war is bad but they must finish it (line 19). Attitude to war: They must get the war over by fighting against the enemies and winning them; his attitude is idealistic. Character: Passini. What he says about war: ‘There is nothing worse than war’ (line 3); defeat is nothing but going back home (line 5); the enemies cannot take the homes and the sisters of all the defeated, nor hang all the defeated soldiers (lines 7-8, 11); war is made by all those people who are afraid of their officers (lines 15-18); ‘There is no finish to a war’ (line 20); war is not won by victory, but it ends when one side stops fighting (lines 23-27); everybody hates war (lines 29-30); the class that controls the country wants this war for stupidity (line 34). Attitude to war: Surrendering is the solution to the atrocities of war; his attitude is realistic. Character: Manera. What he says about war: An outside nation cannot make the defeated be soldiers in its army (line 12). Attitude to war: He does not accept this war; his attitude is realistic.
- ‘the main dressing station’ (line 46), that is, the place where emergency treatment is given to soldiers injured in battle.
- Answer the following questions.
- He saw a ‘flash’ and heard a ‘cough’, then ‘the chuh-chuh-chuh-chuh’ and a ‘roar’ (lines 52-55).
- He could not breathe and felt himself ‘rush bodily out’ of himself (lines 55-58).
- His legs were both ‘smashed above the knee’ and he was near dying (lines 65-68).
- He begged Henry to shoot him in order to stop his pain (lines 68-71).
- Because he was already dead (lines 78-80).
- He had been hurt on his knee (lines 82-84).
- Someone took hold of him under the arms and somebody else lifted his legs (lines 87- 88).
- Define the role of the narrator. Is he inside or outside the story? He is inside the story.
- C Both.
- It is achieved through the lack of introductory verbs. B Realism.
- The bombing attack is described in details and in a glittering way. The narrator is able to increase the tension through a matter-of-fact, detailed, shocking description and through the Italian soldier’s invocations.
- Bear in mind that the whole extract takes place at night, in the dark. Yet, light breaks the darkness four times in the last part, revealing something important.
Words connected with light
Nature of the light
What it reveals
search-lights’ (lines 42-43).
They were mounted on camions (lines 43-45).
The lines (lines 42-45)
a light’ (line 48).
The artificial light inside the dressing station (lines 46-48).
The presence of board tables, instruments, basins and bottles (lines 49-50)
a flash’ (line 53).
The light of a bomb explosion, ‘that started white and went red’ (lines 52-55).
The devastating effects of the explosion on everything and everyone (lines 55-61).
In the dark the light goes up and floats whitely (lines 61-65).
The star-shells lighting the sky intermittently (lines 62-63).
Passini’s injuries (lines 63-72).
another floating light’ (line 85).
It came from the hell outside.
Henry’s wounded (lines 85-86).
- A simile is used in lines 53-54. Find it and explain what feeling it conveys. The simile compares the flash of the bomb explosion to a blast-furnace door that is swung open. It conveys a feeling of destruction and death and points out the quality of this destruction, which is linked to fire and hell.
- Underline all the words and phrases referring to the five senses employed to describe the explosion, which is experienced by Henry from the inside.
- Sight: ‘flash’ (line 53); ‘started white and went red’ (line 54); ‘The ground was torn up’ (line 59); ‘a splintered beam of wood’ (line 59); ‘the starshells go up’ (line 62); ‘float whitely and rockets going up’ (lines 62-63); ‘I saw in the dark and the light’ (line 66); ‘another floating light’ (line 85). Hearing: ‘I heard a cough’ (line 53); ‘the chuhchuh-chuh-chuh’ (line 53); ‘a roar’ (line 54); ‘rushing wind’ (line 55); ‘bodily in the wind’ (line 56); ‘somebody crying’ (line 60); ‘somebody was screaming’ (line 60); ‘I heard the machine-guns and rifles firing’ (line 61); ‘heard the bombs’ (line 63); ‘I heard […] some one saying’ (lines 63-64); ‘screamed’ (line 66); ‘moaned’ (line 69); ‘choking’ (line 71); ‘quiet’ (lines 72, 75); ‘shouted’ (line 73). Smell: ‘I tried to breathe’ (line 55); ‘breath’ (line 55); ‘I breathed’ (line 58). Taste: ‘He bit his arm’ (line 68). Touch: ‘I floated’ (line 58); ‘a great splashing’ (line 62); ‘touched him’ (line 65).
- Sight and hearing.
- Passini’s screaming. At first we read ‘I thought somebody was screaming’ (line 60), then Henry comes back to reality in lines 63-64 when he ‘heard close to [him] some one saying "Mama Mia!"’, becoming aware of Passini’s terrible pain next to him.
- He has experienced suffering and death. Yes, he could leave his ideals of ‘getting the war over’.
6.24 Langston Hughes
- Born: In Joplin, Missouri, in 1902.
- Education: He graduated from Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, in 1929.
- His mother’s and grandmother’s influence: His mother taught him the things she liked: art, poetry and theatre. His grandmother helped him develop a sense of his ethnic heritage, telling him stories about the days of slavery.
- His teachers’ influence: They encouraged him to read; he began to write verse.
- Readings: They included almost everything, from fiction to philosophy.
- Job experiences: A job on a farm; he went to sea as a mess boy aboard a trading freight ship bound for Africa; he worked as a cook and a waiter in Paris; he worked as a busboy in the USA, clearing away dishes at the Wardman Park Hotel, Washington, D.C.
- Collections of poems: The Weary Blues (1926), Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927), Shakespeare in Harlem (1942).
- Reputation: He was one of the most prolific American writers of the 20th century, internationally known as a poet. He contributed greatly to the Harlem Renaissance.
- Death: In 1967. His funeral service was held in a Harlem funeral house with a musical accompaniment by a jazz band.
- Both poets: wanted to share the common man’s experience and to become his spokesman; saw America as a nation in progress and approached the writing of the poems in a non-traditional way - they were free in the choice of their subjects and wrote about matters traditionally thought unsuitable for poetry; believed in the ‘American dream’; felt they were performing a function beyond mere entertainment and intended to change the world through it - this is why, in their poetry, they chose to speak through a mask, an ‘I’, that was not individual but collective.
- Hughes’s poems show his will to break down the rigid distinction between poetry and prose, but he did not go as far as Whitman in this direction. Moreover, in his use of a ‘mask’, Hughes did not merge with the external world in general, but with his ethnic group, becoming the poet of the black masses.
- He chose to go back to the roots of blackness, to deal with its conflicts and contradictions, drawing from the folk tradition of the people: the spiritual as it was born in the South, and its modification into the blues under the influence of urban life.
- Jazz music because it was dynamic, developing and moving. With its free and easy construction, its invitation to joy and the uninhibited movements of the body, it represented rebellion in a puritanical society, the vision of an alternative way of life.
- It summed up all his themes: a temple of jazz, a refuge of the black masses fleeing the South, a living incarnation of the great dream of freedom and equality in which the poet never ceased to believe.
- He first looked to Africa, which became a symbol of lost roots, of a distant past that could not be retrieved, a myth which led the poet to an evaluation of his American roots. Then he exalted the colour of his skin as ‘beautiful’, expressing the strong will to preserve and exalt the characteristics of his people, together with the necessity for black writers to search for black aesthetics.
T111 The Weary Blues
- ‘night’ (lines 4, 31), ‘Down on Lenox Avenue’ (line 4): it is a nightclub on one of the most famous streets in Harlem.
- A black man (lines 3, 18).
- He is playing the piano and singing the blues (lines 8, 10, 13, 18).
- It is about his troubles and his solitude (lines 19-22, 25-30).
- Relief (lines 21-22).
- A blues song Lines 19-22, 25-30.
- The description of the piano-player Lines 1-3, 6-10, 12-13, 17-18, 23-24, 31, 33-35.
Rhyme: The lines rhyme but they do not follow a regular pattern. Repetition: lines 6-7, 11, 16, 19-20, 23, 25-28. Alliteration: ‘d’ (line 1), ‘p’ (lines 5, 10), ‘m’ (line 10), ‘s’ (lines 12, 24, 33), ‘f’ (line 23). Onomatopoeia: ‘sway’/‘Swaying’ (lines 6-7, 12), ‘thump’ (line 23).
The poem is a description of the mood characterising the blues.
|gas light’ (line 5)||‘pale dull [pallor]’, ‘old’ (line 5)|
|‘key’ (line 9) ‘piano’ (line 10)||‘ivory’ (line 9) ‘poor’ (line 10), ‘old’ (line 18|
|stool’ (line 12)||‘rickety’ (line 12)|
It is old and bare; it reflects the singer’s melancholy and weariness.
ebony hands’ / ‘ivory key’ (line 9), ‘moan’ / ‘melody’ (line 10), ‘Weary Blues’ / ‘Sweet Blues’ (lines 8, 14).
Use of slang: ‘ain’t’ (lines 19-20, 29), ‘ma’ (lines 20-22), ‘I’s gwine to’ (line 21), omission of the subject, elision (lines 19-20, 27-28).
Lines 1-3, 6-7, 10, 12-13, 18, 23-24, 31, 33, 35. He is tired and desperate but he has a reserve of strength, which is felt in the ‘thump’ of his foot.
The turbulence of the singer’s emotions is released in the song. He expresses his weariness in the blues and finds the strength to go on living
- He did not write in a traditional way and tried to break down the distinction between poetry and prose; he chose to speak through a mask, an ‘I’, to become the poet of the black masses; he chose to draw from the spiritual and its modification into the blues music.
- The conflicts and contradictions of blackness; the question of racial identity.
- He identified with his people and wanted to become their spokesman.
Students should point out similarities with Whitman’s work.
6.25 John Steinbeck
- Great Depression
- his stories
- migrant workers
- work camp
- financially successful
- radical social
The Grapes of Wrath
- The grapes of the title symbolise the promised land of California, which turns out to be a disillusionment. So the grapes of hope turn into the grapes of wrath, or anger.
- The setting of the novel is vast: it includes a large part of Oklahoma, portions of other States, and a large area of California. The journey westward of the Joad family covers seven States: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
- Because it portrays the harsh realities of the Great Depression and the nature of equality and justice in America.
- Their destinies cross from the beginning until the end when Jim dies and Tom takes up his mission. They are both devoted to helping others, fighting injustice and giving back dignity and respect to migrant workers.
- He uses the traditional American device of the journey as a quest for a better land. However, California is already corrupted and tyrannical. Its inhabitants have a hypocritical attitude towards the immigrants. On the one hand, they abuse people like the Joads; on the other hand, they want to exploit their labour as much as possible.
- The idea that people are more important than things; the conflict between the tendency to respond to hardship and disaster by focusing on one’s own needs, and the impulse to risk one’s safety by working for a common good; the family and the idea of brotherhood having a saving power; the importance of preserving self-respect in order to survive spiritually.
- It is told by an anonymous narrator who sympathises with the workers, the poor and the dispossessed in general. There are shifts between different points of view. In some chapters the narrator describes and analyses historical events summarising the experiences of a large number of people. In other chapters he assumes the voice of a typical individual who expresses his own personal concerns. The chapters dealing with the Joad family are narrated mainly from an objective point of view, as if an observer might witness their experiences. As a whole Steinbeck describes his characters from the outside, so that he creates types rather than individuals.
- Wrath is directed at those who abuse power. It arises when one person chooses greed over equality, and it grows anytime self-interest wins over compassion. Wrath is in equal parts revenge and justice.
T112 From fear to anger
- Part 1(lines 1-19) Description of the change in the weather conditions, the rain and its effects on the land.
- Part 2lines 20-32) How the rain affects the poor people’s lives.
- Part 3(lines 33-66) Description of the migrants’ despair and the rise of anger.
- Part 4(lines 67-82) The rain stops, fear definitively turns into anger, the men begin to assemble.
- Highlighted in yellow: description of the rain, which fell steadily and incessantly until it finally stopped
- Highlighted in green: reaction of the earth: at first it ‘drank the rain’ but when it was full, it began to let it out. When the rain stopped, the earth ‘whispered’. The earth is personified
- Highlighted in light blue: the action of the rain. It caused a flood: it formed puddles and lakes in the fields, the streams overflew their banks and the water flooded the highways. It also flooded the migrants’ tents, and the beds and blankets got wet. The water spoilt the cars
- Highlighted in orange: the effects of the rain on the migrants: at first they tried to protect themselves and waited, but then they had to move away carrying the children and the old in their arms
- Highlighted in pink: the migrants’ feelings: from hopelessness and sadness, to fear and terror, and to anger and wrath
- Underlined in blue: use of a language that reproduces the one spoken by the common people of Oklahoma
- They had no food (line 39), they fell ill (lines 40-41), they started to beg for food, to steal and to lie (lines 45-47, 51-52, 58-59).
- They felt pity at first, then distaste and finally hatred (lines 60-61).
- Complete the diagram below. They sat and waited (lines 20-21); they went to the relief offices and came back sadly (line 33); they began to beg for food, to steal and to lie (lines 45-47, 51-52, 58-59); the hunger and the fear bred anger (line 58), and anger turned into wrath (lines 78-80).
- It represents both a damaging force that threatens to wash away the few possessions of poor people, and a power of renewal in so far as despair turns into a positive form of reaction. The migrants, in fact, helped one another and decided to organise themselves (lines 77-78).
- Because they realised that their men had reacted instead of giving up. The value of human life is raised by Steinbeck above hardship. The connection between rage and dignity is clear: as long as man can keep the sense of injustice, he will never run the risk of losing his dignity.
Steinbeck devotes many lines to the description of the setting, and presents his characters from the outside rather than providing psychological insights, so that he creates types rather than individuals. The overall effect of this text is a documentary rendering of a crucial historical event and the suffering it implied. Steinbeck consistently points to the fact that the migrants’ great suffering is caused not so much by bad weather or mere misfortune, but by the selfishness of their fellow human beings. He denounces the historical, social and economic circumstances which separate people into rich and poor, landowners and tenants - where the people in the dominant roles struggle viciously to preserve their positions. In the text shown, the local town is willing to spend money on extra deputies to enforce the law but not on food to relieve the starving families of the migrants. Steinbeck shows vividly how the California landowners treat the migrants like animals. They are shuffled from one filthy roadside camp to the next, denied liveable wages, and forced to turn against fellow humans simply to survive. In this context the family and the idea of brotherhood have a saving power - it is not genetics but loyalty and commitment to one another that establishes true kinship.
Gains in women’s rights haven’t made women happier. Why is that?
- It is surprising because women have to face higher levels of poverty and are more at risk of sexual violence and discrimination in general than men.
- The ‘paradox of declining female happiness’ is that women have gained increasing political, economic and social rights but these improvements are not reflected in a greater feeling of contentment.
- They discovered that American women felt happier in the Seventies than they did in 2005, whereas American men’s level of satisfaction has remained constant.
- Examples of laws that improved women’s rights in the Seventies were: a law making credit discrimination on the grounds of sexuality illegal in 1974; a law making it illegal to exclude women from juries in 1975; and a law making marital rape a crime in 1976.
- According to the article, the increased number of men sent to jail affected the marriage market as there were fewer possible male partners for unmarried women to choose from, and many wives had to carry on living on their own without the support of their husband.
- The shocking statistic is that in these 20 years there were more AfricanAmerican men in jail in the USA than in universities and colleges.
- According to the article, is women’s situation in the USA different to that in other countries? No, it is not. According to the article, the situation in other industrialised countries is similar. Stevenson and Wolfers found that in Europe, for example, the levels of perceived happiness for men and women over the same period were much the same as those recorded in the USA.
- The ‘dual burden’ refers to the fact that working women have gained the right to a career but still have to do most of the housework and childcare in the home. This means that they are continuously tired and suffer from lack of sleep, which makes them more dissatisfied than their partners.
- Women in the Seventies judged their role in life according to how things were going at home without reflecting on other aspects of life, such as work or economic independence, as they had far simpler and less optimistic expectations in terms of gender equality.
- What is the article’s theory about why women in liberal and industrialised communities are not as satisfied? The conclusion in the article is that women in liberal and industrialised countries have gained greater equality and increased their expectations, which means they measure their happiness and satisfaction not just against other women but also against men. This leads to more dissatisfaction compared to women in more backward countries, who compare their position only to other women.
This means that there is always something that the woman has to do in and out of the home whether it be cooking, cleaning, childcare or doing the shopping or any of the other many daily chores.
Using the word ‘battle’ implies that the woman is continually fighting to keep up with all she has to do and never manages to ‘win’ by completing everything.
The warning in the song is that if the woman does not slow down or give herself a break, she is likely to collapse or become ill (‘The woman better slow down / Or she’s gonna come down hard’)
- ‘no one on her side’ This points out the woman’s isolation. She has to do everything on her own as the other members of the family, children or partner, are unwilling to help.
- ‘better slow down’ This sounds like a piece of advice. The woman should remember to give herself a break, find some time for herself and relax despite all the things she has to do
All those handkerchiefs
- We know it was not easy for her to talk to him about getting a job because she describes the way she made an effort to tell him ‘straight’ as though it was a challenge. She also tells Nazneen ‘straight on’ like an act of defiance
- She says that in Bangladesh people accept their role, so that for example a sweetmaker is a sweetmaker and does not aspire to be something else like in Britain, where everyone is unhappy with their position and hopes for promotion.
- According to Mrs Islam, Jorina has brought shame on her husband by getting a job as this is interpreted in their community as showing that her husband was not earning enough to keep his family. It is, therefore, Jorina’s fault that her husband had to turn to other women for comfort and to prove his manhood.
- From this conversation between Razia and Nazneen it is clear that the Bangladeshi community does not approve of women working as it is the husband’s responsibility to economically support his family and the woman’s place is in the background looking after the children and the home.
- She says she does not care about the community’s opinion as they do not ‘feed’ her nor ‘buy footballs’ for her son, so they do not have any right to judge her.
- She smiles because she is thinking of the hypocrisy of Mrs Islam, who condemns Jorina for getting a job while she herself is working while pretending not to.
- The first theory is that Mrs Islam uses the handkerchiefs to hide an ugly wart on her face. The second theory is that she was given the handkerchiefs by an ex-lover and uses them in memory of him. The third theory is linked to the superstitious belief that using handkerchiefs would help her shake off bad luck.
- The true reason for the handkerchiefs is that Mrs Islam uses them as signals to her husband. When he brings business associates to the house, she listens to their dealings and then gives her opinion through the handkerchiefs. A spotty handkerchief means no, a white one yes, a laceedged one means a one-year contract and a muslin one a two-year contract.
- The expression used is ‘she pulled the strings’.
- What impression does the extract give of women’s roles in the Bangladeshi community? The impression is that they are expected to stay at home and look after their home, husband and family.
- supremacy at sea
- sickness benefits
- protest marches
- hunger strike
- war of attrition
- barbed wire
- machine guns
- retreat/ withdrawal
- aircraft carriers
- industrial output
The British Empire covered a fifth of the total land of the globe, British towns were the wealthiest in Europe and British ships carried 80 per cent of world trade. -> King Edward signed an agreement with France in 1904, the Entente Cordiale. -> A new Labour Representation Committee developed into the Labour Party in 1906. -> The 1906 general election was won by the Liberals, who were divided into two groups: those who supported the traditional liberal values of laissez-faire and self-help, and those who supported New Liberalism. -> The foundations of the Welfare State were laid down through a series of measures. -> New forces came into play: the Suffragettes wanted women to have the vote and soon won massive publicity for their cause.
In 1914 a Serbian nationalist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the AustroHungarian throne, and his wife in Sarajevo. This event triggered a series of reactions:
- Austria began bombing Belgrade;
- the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, declared war on Russia and then on France;
- Germany invaded Belgium in order to attack France from an unexpected front before Russia or Britain could intervene;
- Britain, which had participated in the creation of Belgium in 1831 and had guaranteed its neutrality, now faced the threat of a commercial blockade due to the aggressive presence of the German navy in the North Sea and the Channel. So when Germany violated Belgian neutrality, Britain declared war.
- Warfare cost the Allies and the Germans about 260,000 casualties respectively.
- On 4th October 1918 Germany asked President Woodrow Wilson for an armistice which would bring about German withdrawal from occupied territory and allow national self-determination, but included no punishment for the country.
- Britain and France agreed for fear that American power might increase if war continued. On 11th November, at 11 o’clock, the guns fell silent and the day has forever been commemorated as Armistice Day. It was also called ‘Remembrance Day’ or ‘Poppy Day’. The peace treaty was signed at Versailles in 1919 by the Allied powers.
- The war left Britain in a disillusioned and cynical mood.
- The gap between the generation of the young and the older one, regarded as responsible for the terrible waste of lives during the war, grew wider and wider.
- An increasing feeling of rootlessness and frustration, due to the slow dissolution of the Empire into the Commonwealth, led to a transformation of the notions of imperial hegemony and white superiority
- Freud’s theories: emphasised the power of the unconscious to affect behaviour
- A new method of investigation of the human mind through the analysis of dreams and the concept of ‘free association’ Crisis of certainties ->
- Jung’s concept of ‘collective unconscious’, a sort of cultural memory containing the universal images and beliefs of the human race, which operates on a symbolic level
- People responded to figures or object of the everyday world that had symbolic power unconsciously; only the psychologist or the poet could understand these symbols and archetypes and explain them Einstein’s theory of relativity ->
- Distinction between: historical time and psychological time
- Anthropological studies helped undermine the absolute truth of religious and ethical systems in favour of more relativist standpoints Inability to arrive at a commonly accepted picture of man
- Commonwealth: In 1926 an imperial conference created a new entity from the dominions of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa with the name of ‘Commonwealth’. In 1931 the Statute of Westminster formally granted the sovereign right of each dominion to control its own domestic and foreign affairs and to establish its own diplomatic corps.
- The Irish Free State: In the 1918 election in Ireland, the Sinn Féin party won almost all the seats except in Ulster and set up an independent Parliament in Dublin - the Dáil - in 1919. The Irish Volunteers became the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and declared open war on Britain in 1920, under the leadership of Michael Collins. The IRA terrorist attacks were brutally met by ‘Black and Tan’ police auxiliaries, culminating with ‘Bloody Sunday’ in 1920, when the ‘Black and Tans’ shot 12 dead at a football match in Dublin. In 1921 an Anglo-Irish treaty established the Irish Free State, under the leadership of Eamon de Valera, as an independent State within the British Commonwealth. Only six counties centred on Protestant Ulster remained a self-governing province of the UK. In 1922 a civil war broke out in Ireland, and in 1923 the anti-Treaty faction was defeated.
- Depression and unemployment: The aftermath of WWI was marked by a world economic boom. However, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 dramatically affected life between the wars, since in the following year banks went bankrupt across Europe. The war had damaged Britain’s position as the biggest exporter of manufactured goods. Therefore, British customers had found new suppliers in South America and Asia. Working hours were cut, prices fell but the attempt to cut wages was resisted by the trade unions. There were miners’ strikes and a General Strike was called in 1926. The most urgent inter-war issue was unemployment and the gap between North and South took on a new dimension: the once powerful industrial North became depressed and challenged by new growing automobile, chemical and electrical goods industries in the South and the Midlands. Restoring demand to the iron and steel industries began with rearmament in 1936.
- Abdication: The popular young king, Edward VIII, who had succeeded his father George V, wanted to marry a twice divorced American woman. Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin forced his abdication on the grounds that he could not marry her and keep the throne. The king’s brother succeeded as George VI (1936-52).
- Rearmament: The need for a strong Royal Air Force independent of the army and the navy led the British government to shift spending onto the RAF. At the same time a ship-building programme was funded aimed at a ‘two-ocean fleet’.
They are all connected with the Second World War:
- Benito Mussolini: In 1935 he attacked the African monarchy of Abyssinia and took the first steps towards an alliance with Germany. In 1943 the Allies landed in Sicily and a long fight up Italian territory began. In 1944 they entered Rome.
- Adolf Hitler: He invaded Austria in 1938 proclaiming its union with Germany and breaking the Treaty of Versailles. He occupied Prague in March 1939. In August he signed the secret Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact with Stalin, and on 1st September he invaded Poland. Two days later Britain and France declared war on Germany. In 1940 Hitler invaded Norway and Denmark by sea and air. In the same year there was a sudden German attack on Holland and Belgium, while German tank corps were heading for Paris. In 1941 Hitler declared war on the Soviet Union as he wanted to get the oilfields in the Caucasus region.
- Sir Winston Churchill: He took over after British Prime Minister Chamberlain’s resignation in 1940. The British ordered the retreat of their troops to Dunkirk. In 1940 the Battle of Britain saw English and German bombers fighting in the skies above Sussex and Kent. The battle was won by Britain, but Hitler changed his strategy and ordered the ‘Blitz’.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt: In December 1941 Japan bombed the US fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. President Roosevelt declared war on Japan, and Germany declared war on America. Sir Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin at the Yalta Conference: At the Yalta Conference in Crimea in February 1945, they made important decisions concerning the future progress of the war and the post-war world. The war ended in Europe on 8th May 1945 but it took another three months to defeat Japan in the Far East. Victory and the end of WWII came only with the explosion of two atomic bombs on the Japanese towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August.
By the end of the 19th century the United States had become the richest country in the world, with its economic power based on agricultural prosperity, massive industrial output, the rich mineral resources available and the rise of ‘trusts’, the huge corporations of firms in the same trade, which gradually came to dominate the market. The economic boom, however, had not prevented the spread of poverty. In the industrial areas of the North - like the metropolises of Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York and Boston - workers lived in dirty, overcrowded slums, and toiled long hours for low wages. These national problems, like the conditions of life in the city slums or corruption in government, were brought to light by books and articles written by investigative journalists called ‘muckrakers’. Their reports shocked most Americans, who started to think that the government should take action to eliminate the problems of society through reform. Thus the 19th-century belief in laissez-faire was replaced by ‘progressivism’. In the 1920s the economy continued to grow, though large areas like the south-western mining towns, the farmers of the Midwest and the urban industrial workers remained untouched by the new wealth. The Twenties saw a growth in reactionary attitudes like the ‘Red Scare’, that is, the fear of Socialism. Political activists with radical or labour backgrounds were imprisoned and persecuted. The ‘open door’ immigration policy was replaced by tighter and tighter restrictions and minorities were segregated into city slums like Harlem in New York. ‘Prohibition’ was introduced to fight alcohol addiction among the poor but in reality it encouraged the illegal traffic of ‘bootleggers’ and increased the phenomenon of gangsterism. In 1929 the American stock market collapsed. The Wall Street Crash marked the beginning of a worldwide economic crisis known as the Great Depression. Thousands of businessmen were ruined, and millions of common people found themselves facing debt and ruin. Factories shut down, banks crashed and nearly 8 million Americans were unemployed in the 1930s. In that period the Great Plains region was devastated by drought and the consequent Dust Bowl conditions forced 60 per cent of the farmers to migrate to California.
The Wall Street Clash in 1929 marked the end of the prosperous Twenties and the beginning of a worldwide economic crisis. Thousands of businessmen were ruined, and millions of common people who had invested their savings in shares found themselves facing debt and ruin. Factories shut down, banks crashed, goods were produced but no longer sold. Nearly 8 million Americans were unemployed in the 1930s and spent hours in ‘breadlines’, where they received free rations of food. In that period the Great Plains region was devastated by drought. The winds easily picked up the dry earth and created thick dust clouds which choked cattle and pasture lands. Sixty per cent of the farmers were forced to migrate to California by this environmental disaster named the Dust Bowl. The agricultural devastation helped to lengthen the Depression. In 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt became President and promised the Americans a ‘New Deal’ of reforms. The three aims of the New Deal were ‘relief, recovery, reform’. The federal government spent billions of dollars on relief for the unemployed, on public works and on the conservation of natural resources. It also promoted farm rehabilitation where farmers were instructed to plant trees and grass to anchor the soil, to plough and terrace in order to hold rainwater, and to allow portions of farmland to lie uncultivated each year so that the soil could regenerate.
All artistic forms of Modernism share several common features:
- the intentional distortion of shapes, as in the Cubist paintings of Picasso and Braque;
- the breaking down of limitations in space and time and the radical disruption of the linear flow of narrative or conventional verse;
- the emphasis on subjectivity, on how perception takes place rather than on what is perceived; in literature, the objectivity provided by an omniscient third-person narrator was abandoned in favour of new techniques such as the stream of consciousness;
- the use of allusive language and the development of the multiple association of words;
- the intensity of the isolated ‘moment’ or ‘image’ to provide a true insight into the nature of things;
- the importance of unconscious as well as conscious life;
- the need to reflect the complexity of modern urban life in artistic form.
- Georgian poets: Themes: Specifically English elements, such as the countryside as an idyllic place. Style: The convention of diction. Aim: To express the English sensibility.
- War Poets: Themes: The horrors of modern warfare. Style: Experimentalism, which emerged in the choice of a violent, everyday language. Aim: To deal with war in an unconventional, anti-rhetorical way.
- Imagism: Themes: Any subject matter; the poet’s response to a scene or object. Style: Hard, clear and precise images; free verse. Aim: To achieve precision, discipline, ‘dry hardness’, ‘the exact curve of the thing’.
- Symbolism: Themes: Escape from emotion and personality; collapse and fragmentation of Western civilisation; cultural and spiritual sterility that characterised the beginning of the century; cosmopolitan interests. Style: Indirect statements; allusive language and images; quotations from other literatures; free verse; importance given to the sounds of words. Aim: To evoke rather than to state; to convey the ‘music of ideas’.
In the indirect interior monologue the narrator never lets the character’s thoughts flow without control, and maintains logical and grammatical organisation. The character’s thoughts are presented both directly and by adding descriptions, appropriate comments and explanatory or introductory phrases to guide the reader through the narration; the character stays fixed in space while his/her consciousness moves freely in time: in the character’s mind, however, everything happens in the present, which can extend to infinity or contract to a moment. This concept of ‘inner time’, which is irregular and disrupted compared to the conventional conception of time, is preferred to ‘external time’, since it shows the relativism of a subjective experience. The direct interior monologue with two levels of narration is characterised by a mix of third-person narration, linked to an external time, and an interior narration linked to the concept of ‘inner time’, that is, the time of the character’s mind. In the direct interior monologue with the mind level of narration, the character’s thoughts flow freely, not interrupted by external events. The extreme interior monologue was used by Joyce in Finnegans Wake. Here the narration takes place inside the mind of the main character, while he is dreaming. Words and free associations are fused to create new expressions.
Many disillusioned writers and intellectuals emigrated to Europe, chiefly to Paris, because of its stimulating atmosphere for the arts. These writers and artists were usually referred to as the ‘Lost Generation’, after a term coined by the American experimental writer Gertrude Stein. World War I seemed to have destroyed the idea that if you acted virtuously, good things would happen. Many good, young men went to war and died, or returned home physically or mentally wounded, and their faith in the moral ideals that had earlier given them hope, was ‘lost.’ Among the writers of the Lost Generation were F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and E.E. Cummings.
- First quotation: from The Soldier, by Rupert Brooke. Patriotism and the glory of war.
- Second quotation: from Dulce et Decorum Est, by Wilfred Owen. The disillusionment and hypocrisy of those who send young men to war.
- Third quotation: from Easter 1916, by William Butler Yeats. In this poem, which was written after the Easter Rising in Dublin on 24th April 1916, the poet celebrates the Irish leaders, the rebels who sacrificed their lives to a dream, and reflects the idealism of those who were prepared to die for what they saw as a just cause.
- Fourth quotation: from The Waste Land (The Burial of the Dead), by Thomas Stearns Eliot. The section from which this quotation is taken focuses on the death of certain beliefs and the possibility of a rebirth, a new beginning rising out of decay and death. The war was an immensely disorienting experience that led to disillusionment in the idea of progress and a sense of widespread disorder that spiritual belief seemed inadequate to manage. Eliot attempts to impose an order on the chaos describing the eventual regeneration of a desolate land after long drought and hopelessness: its concerns with barrenness and fertility, with the concept of death and regeneration, and with Christianity
7. The Present Age
7.1 The post-war years
- The new National Health Service was established by law in 1946 as universal and free. The New Towns Act (1946) and the Town and Country Planning Act (1947) led to slum clearance, the building of large housing estates and the creation of green areas; council houses were built for the families with low incomes. The National Insurance Act (1946) established a system of social security including unemployment and sickness benefits, retirement pensions, child allowances and even funeral grants. Nationalisation was extended to hospitals, gas, electricity, steel, coal mines, railways and the Bank of England.
- Most families bought cars, installed telephones, washing machines and refrigerators, and began to buy their own homes. Television was the broadcasting revolution of the post-war years.
- some British achievements in the early 1950s; In 1951 the Festival of Britain celebrated the centenary of the Great Exhibition, while in 1953 two men from a British expedition were the first to climb Mount Everest. In the same year, the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II was broadcast live on television and watched by around 20 million people.
- Britain’s position in the world progressively changed after the war. The first dramatic change was Indian independence that was passed by Westminster in 1947. Ceylon and Burma were granted independence in 1948.
- When Egypt nationalised the Suez Canal in 1956, Britain reacted by colluding with Israel and France and landing at Port Said with the intention of occupying the Canal zone but had to leave Egypt immediately because the USA threatened to freeze all financial aid to Britain. These events proved that the country could no longer act on the international stage without American backing.
- public opinion about nuclear weapons. People were against nuclear weapons, and several anti-nuclear protest marches were organised advocating nuclear disarmament.
- The totality of schemes and services through which the central government, together with the local authorities, assumed the responsibility for the social well-being of citizens.
- It established a universal and free treatment for everyone.
- A clash of politics and beliefs that grew between the USA and the Soviet Union in the 1950s and was characterised by competition and fear. The nuclear arms race was a central point to the war between these two powerful nations.
- Council houses were identical houses in long rows built specifically for the families with low incomes.
- Most families bought cars, installed telephones, washing machines and refrigerators, and began to buy their own homes. Television was the broadcasting revolution of the postwar years. The early television programmes were, in accordance with the BBC’s general aims, a mixture of information, education and entertainment. Then, in 1955, a commercial television network started to broadcast its shows which were paid for through advertising.
- They are on the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London after the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
- It represents protesters campaigning for nuclear disarmament as they march from London to Aldermaston, the headquarters of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, in 1958
- The Welfare State was created in 1946-48
- It implied social security and the nationalisation of hospitals, gas, electricity, steel, coal mines, railways and the Bank of England
- NATO was created to prevent Soviet expansionism The post-war revolution in communications regarded television
- Queen Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953 and the ceremony was broadcast live on television and watched by around 20 million people
- Immigration from the Caribbean, Africa and Asia started in the 1950s
- Campaigners protested against nuclear weapons
7.2 The Sixties and Seventies
- put forward
- making a valuable contribution
- mutual tolerance
- 1961 The contraceptive pill appeared.
- 1962 The Telstar satellite made world television news possible.
- 1965 Capital punishment for murder was suspended and comprehensive schools replaced most grammar schools.
- 1967 The Abortion Act made it possible to get an abortion on the National Health Service; the National Health Service (Family Planning) Act allowed local authorities to provide contraceptives; the Sexual Offences Act stated that a homosexual act between two consenting adults in private was no longer a criminal offence.
- 1968 The Race Relations Act tried to prevent unequal treatment of coloured people by making it illegal to refuse employment, housing or public services to anyone on the grounds of colour or race.
- 1970 The Matrimonial Property Act established that a wife’s work should be regarded as an equal contribution towards creating the family home and had to be considered in the case of a divorce.
- 1973 Britain entered the EEC; the Oil crisis began, which would affect the global economy.
- 1979 The Conservative Party won the general election and its leader Margaret Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister
- First of all, a new openness to attitudes from the Continent and the United States; then the pressures from youth and popular culture, but also arguments of a civilised and tolerant society put forward by politicians.
- ‘Swinging London’ and Liverpool became the world capitals of youth culture. England was a world leader in musical fashion: The Beatles and The Rolling Stones brought new vitality to popular culture, and new subcultures would emerge like heavy metal, punk rock and new wave.
- A wife’s work was regarded as an equal contribution towards creating the family home and had to be considered in the case of a divorce.
- The final goal would be integration, ‘not as a flattening process of assimilation but as equal opportunity, accompanied by cultural diversity, in an atmosphere of mutual tolerance’, as affirmed by the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins.
- It was the period between 1978 and 1979 that was characterised by strikes and new social problems such as the first urban race riots; a new generation strongly influenced by drugs; juvenile violence; and the new dangers of pollution created by prosperity and consumerism.
- generation gap The generation that grew up in the 1960s was more different from the generation of its parents than in any previous century.
- permissive society Censorship and capital punishment for murder were abolished; abortion and divorce were legalised.
- decriminalisation Homosexuality was no longer a criminal offence.
- musical fashion England was a world leader in musical fashion: The Beatles and The Rolling Stones brought new vitality to popular culture, and new subcultures emerged. family and sexual mores Contraceptives were provided by local authorities; the nuclear
- family became more fluid and extended.
- race tensions Immigrants had the lowest-paid jobs and were sometimes refused employment, housing or public services on the grounds of colour or race.
- stagflation A combination of economic stagnation, rising inflation and unemployment that characterised the 1970s.
INTERNET POINT: Youth culture
- Focus on street styles and find information about:
- Teddy boys; The Teddy boys or Teds were so called for their long drape jackets and pointed shoes with laces which imitated an upper-class style of dress worn at the time of Edward VII, when the greatness of Britain had been beyond dispute. Teds cut their hair very short at the back and kept it raised in the front. They had a reputation for violence, acting the part of hooligans, slashing cinema seats.
- the bikers; The bikers tried to challenge the boring, cosy normality of the new postwar society. They wore rugged workingclass garments, notably the black leather jacket, and other battered clothes which demonstrated their harsh experiences on the road. Both stylistically and ideologically, they were outsiders; they organised illegal races in the main street, started drunken fights, and made obscene advances to local women. They considered women and coloured immigrants as inferior. Aggressive masculinity, the ability to handle a bike and take needlessly dangerous risks gave one the right to belong to the group.
- the mods; The modernist movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s was heavily influenced by Italian fashion. The mods rode scooters and wore suits and other tailored outfits.
- the skinheads; The skinheads adopted an aggressively working-class identity with heavy boots, labourers’ jackets, tattoos and shaved heads. Instead of ‘love and peace’, the skinheads seemed to welcome conflict and aggression. They became linked with extreme right-wing political groups and synonymous with racism.
- the hippies; The gentle, anti-aggression hippies were devoted to the achievement of new levels of consciousness rather than to material success. In sharp contrast with the rigid, antagonistic working-class subcultures, in fact, their boundaries and categories were fluid and their goals unmaterialistic. To show their detachment from mainstream consumerism, they rejected time throwing away their watches. Life was concentrated on the ‘now’. Their style of dress was also characterised by fluidity, with garments that were hand-made from natural materials and were loose and flowing to allow the body the same relaxed freedom as the mind.
- the punks. Rising unemployment and general economic stagnation gave rise to the punks with their nihilistic battle-cry of ‘No Future!’. The punks held nothing sacred. They spat on everything, including themselves, their basic belief being nothingness, a vacuum, a void. Deliberately threatening and offensive, punk style was violent in its ‘cut ups’ with safety pins worn through the cheek, ear or lip. They wore cheap, trashy fabrics and their hair was dyed black or bright yellow, with spikes of orange or green. Typical punk bands like the Sex Pistols chose song titles that reflected the deliberate desecration and the voluntary assumption of an outcast status. By the end of the 1970s the punks had become a tourist attraction particularly associated with Sloane Square and the King’s Road.
- Collect information about the rock music of the Sixties and explain what it reflected and what Beatlemania was. In 1963 and the years to follow, a number of historical and social influences changed what popular music was. The assassination of the US President Kennedy, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement had a great impact on the mood of American culture (and later on the British one as well), and music started to reflect that change. Against this background rock music was supposed to be above all an experience of togetherness and community, pulling teenagers out of their isolation in the family, in school, at work or in the universities, and giving voice to the frustrations and feelings of the young generation of the Sixties, who started to oppose to establishment ideas and standards. Although rock ’n’ roll began having an effect on Britain in the 1950s, it was not until the early Sixties and the emergence of groups like The Beatles that music truly began its revolutionary changes. The Beatles are an excellent example of how music influenced the lives of young people, leading to enthusiasm and excitement. By 1967 the group became a turning point in music and inspired other musicians, such as The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones, to experiment with new sounds and develop innovative pieces of music. Their later albums included lyrics encouraging rebellion against the authorities, as seen in Revolution.
- State what the fashions of the Sixties mirrored. Fashion mirrored many of the social changes of the Sixties. Mary Quant became famous since she popularised the miniskirt, which became the symbol of 1960s fashion. Her fashion designs used simple geometric shapes and colours which gave women a new kind of femininity. By the late Sixties, psychedelic prints and vibrant colours began appearing on clothes as the hippie movement gathered pace.
From History to Screen Across the Universe
- F (Only the older woman.)
- F (There are also some lamps.)
- F (The blonde young man, Max, is not.)
- Max’s father plays golf.
- Max finds his lessons heavy
- Max gave up two courses.
- Lucy thinks Max’s haircut looks androgynous.
- Max’s father had to work to go to college.
- Jude does not help himself to more stuffing.
- The university fees are expensive.
- Max is not going to get his university degree.
Max looks concerned with what he is saying, he is actually rebelling against his parents and their way of thinking. Jude seems a bit embarrassed. He might not be used to behaving in that way towards his parents. Max’s mother looks amazed, she tries to control herself but she cannot believe her son dares defy his parents. Lucy looks as if she admired her brother’s courage.
7.3 The Irish Troubles
Suggestion: Students should note the following key ideas:
- the discrimination of Catholics in Northern Ireland;
- civil rights movement;
- Good Friday Agreement.
7.4 The Thatcher years: rise and decline
- Her nickname was ‘the Iron Lady’ but she can be defined as a 19th-century Liberal rather than a Conservative: the economy was her main concern and she believed that free market was the only means towards the restoration of social and political order. She wanted free trade, that is, low protective tariffs, and as little government interference as possible in business and domestic matters.
- The government’s first economic aim was to bring down inflation: interest rates were raised to reduce inflation, but this increased the value of sterling and export competitiveness fell. To lower government spending, State-owned industries were privatised: among the first companies to be sold were Cable and Wireless, British Telecom, British Gas and British Airways.
- the way she changed social priorities; She privatised council houses, which were sold on favourable terms to their tenants according to her plan of social engineering to build a society where people would have a private health service, private schools and private pensions. She also encouraged the young in particular to start up new businesses and to try to make a good career for themselves.
- At first Britain worked at a peace proposal, but when Argentina rejected further negotiations with Britain, a task force was sent by Britain to reclaim the islands, and after a twomonth campaign Argentina surrendered.
- The strike, which was characterised by great bitterness and some violence, was a confrontation between the Conservative government and the Unions; after a year the miners, who had protested against the proposed closures of many pits, admitted defeat and Thatcher won, also thanks to the support of the popular press.
- her influence on foreign affairs; She had considerable authority in the final resolution of the Cold War. She persuaded US President Ronald Reagan to limit his anti-missile programme which had proved alarming to Soviet and European governments, and she supported the introduction of American nuclear missiles into Europe to balance similar Soviet weapons. She also gave public support to the reformminded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and later Boris Yeltsin when, in 1989, Communism in Eastern Europe collapsed.
- The introduction of the Community Charge in 1987 made her very unpopular and caused many riots. She also gradually lost the support of her party and resigned in 1990.
- His programme as party leader and Prime Minister was to follow Margaret Thatcher’s ideas, but not to attack certain social policies quite so strongly
|People valued the security that came from owning their own house. There was an increase in material wealth. Young people were encouraged to take up their own responsibilities, to try to make a good career for themselves, to value the freedom deriving from selfemployment.||An underclass of poor or unemployed people emerged. The ‘yuppies’ expressed exaggerated ambition and materialism. An enterprise individualistic society emerged, to which the weakest classes could not respond|
- free trade Thatcher wanted low protective tariffs and as little government interference as possible in business and domestic matters.
- privatisation To lower government spending, State-owned industries, like Cable and Wireless, British Telecom, British Gas and British Airways, were privatised.
- yuppies The ambitious urban professionals, whose main interests were high-earning jobs and the acquisition of impressive status symbols such as expensive clothes and sports cars, became a social phenomenon.
- strike In 1984 the British miners protested against the proposed closures of many pits. After a year of confrontation between the Conservative government and the Unions, the miners admitted defeat.
- international standing Thatcher persuaded US President Reagan to limit his anti-missile programme; she supported the introduction of American nuclear missiles into Europe to balance similar Soviet weapons; and she gave public support to the reform-minded Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and later Boris Yeltsin when Communism in Eastern Europe collapsed.
- unpopular tax The Community Charge, a local tax on individuals rather than on property, was introduced in 1987.
7.5 From Blair to Brexit
- fu in carica
- abbandonò l’idea
- alleato, sostenitore internazionale
- fonti dei servizi segreti
- governare il Paese
- riducendo i costi
- questione delicata
- diritti di libera circolazione
- affluenza nazionale
- He believed that it was necessary to reform the Labour Party to give people from all backgrounds a voice and to reflect the diversity of the population better. He called it ‘New Labour’ and dropped the belief that Britain’s big industries should be nationalised.
- He promised to spend more money on the National Health Service and education but held more conservative views on law and order issues, as well as family values.
- His government produced constitutional reforms that partially decentralised the UK, leading to the formation of separate Parliaments in Wales and Scotland by 1999. New Labour promoted progressive attitudes such as equality for women, blacks and Asians and the recognition in law of same-sex partnerships in 2004.
- F The British government became the most visible international supporter of the Bush administration in its war on terrorism.
- F On 7th July 2005 London suffered a terrorist bombing, Britain’s worst attack since World War II. Four bombs exploded, three on underground trains and one on a double-decker bus during the morning rush hour, killing 52 people and wounding more than 700.
- F A terrorist plot was discovered to destroy planes travelling from the UK to the USA.
- F He had an agreement with his Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, that he would resign at least a year before another election.
- F He became the leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister after Blair’s resignation in June 2007.
- A Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition government with the Conservative David Cameron as Prime Minister and the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, as Deputy Prime Minister.
- By cutting social spending, making employees redundant in the public sector and restraining the costs of the NHS.
- The Eurozone, which absorbed 40% of its exports. Being an EU member also meant being forced into economic austerity.
- Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee and the birth of Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
- It was an ‘in-or-out’ referendum Cameron had promised if he won the 2015 election and which was held in 2016. It resulted in a vote to leave the EU by almost 52% on a national turnout of 72%.
- Tony Blair wanted the Labour Party to reflect the diversity of the British population
- Britain supported the Bush administration in its war on terrorism and London became the target of terrorist attacks
- Gordon Brown replaced Blair after he resigned in 2007
- The leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron became Prime Minister in 2010 and in the following years Euroscepticism was represented by the UK Independence Party
- Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 Scotland voted to remain part of the UK in 2014
- The Brexit referendum established that Britain would leave the EU
B2 Exams: Academic Reading
- Complete each sentence with the correct ending below.
- The passage has six paragraphs, A-F. Which paragraph contains the following information?
- Choose the correct letter (A, B, C or D)
- Complete the sentences below. Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS for each answer
There will surely be new discoveries in space exploration in the future.
- We may be able to construct a machine that mirrors life perfectly.
- It is important to believe that individuals can play a part in shaping the world.
- In London
- The O2
- The wobbly bridge
- The London Eye
7.6 The USA after the Second World War
- mutual defence
- Democratic candidate
- non-violent resistance
- assertion of racial identity
- settlement of the Middle East question
- comply with the demand
- weapons of mass destruction
- apart from Pearl Harbor it did not suffer the damage caused by warfare and the war brought economic advantages, such as increased production and higher wages.
- the United Nations Organization (UN) in 1945.
- was facing social problems such as poverty in the crowded city slums and racial discrimination.
- the Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Black Muslims led by Malcolm X.
- movement was experienced during the Vietnam War.
Richard Nixon worked to put an end to the Vietnam War and finally, in 1973, the last American soldiers left Vietnam. Though marked by the success in the ‘space race’ with the USSR and the first landing on the moon in 1969, Nixon’s presidency was characterised by severe economic recession. Inflation and unemployment became major problems, and in 1973 the USA even suffered a fuel shortage and began to import large quantities of oil. The Watergate scandal (1972), which brought to light some illegal activities of the Republican administration, obliged Nixon to resign in 1974
The Democrat Barack Hussein Obama was the first ever black American to hold the office as President of the USA. Elected in November 2008, he promised to provide tax cuts, aid to cities and States, the creation of new jobs by the end of 2010, the reduction of carbon emissions, the improvement of health care and the reduction of Bush administration’s deficit.
- It was a programme for economic aid to European countries devised by the USA in the aftermath of WWII.
- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an agreement of mutual defence between the USA and Western Europe.
- Diplomatic agreements between Egypt and Israel, which prepared the ground for a possible settlement of the Middle East question.
Link to Contemporary Culture Echoes of war
- It was marked by war and destruction. It was an age of heroism and brutality, triumph and suffering, courage and cowardice.
- They were in Europe, North Africa, the Pacific, the Atlantic, China and the Philippines, and vast parts of the Soviet Union, Korea, Vietnam, the Balkans and Iraq.
- They were for example the Holocaust, the atomic bomb, the Cold War and terrorism.
- The writer’s aim in a lot of contemporary literature was not just to document war but also to use it as a background to develop other issues such as pacifism, the quest for the protagonist’s identity or the exploration of guilt, shame, atonement and forgiveness.
- The communist government of North Vietnam, with its allies the Viet Cong in South Vietnam, wanted to form a unified communist Vietnam similar to the Soviet Union or China, while the South, which was supported by the USA, wanted closer links with the West.
- Ongoing conflicts continue between Israel and Palestine, in Syria and along the borders of India and Pakistan. Another international war is the continuing fight against terrorism, which has claimed lives in different continents.
- The soldiers march, are on their guard and hold their rifles, cut trees, wade through swamps, sleep, hole up, wait, get ambushed and open fire to defend themselves, smoke.
- They have ‘direah’ (diarrhoea) most of the time, they have wet feet, they are all sore, they have bites and scabs, one of them has malaria, their feet are ‘like boiled chicken’s feet’ and are painful.
- their encounters with the enemy; The soldiers come across the enemy first in an ambush, then they find the corpse of an enemy hidden under big banana leaves; then Darrel is killed when he goes off to relieve himself - showing the enemies are all around - and finally Dwayne himself comes unexpectedly across a Viet Cong and kills him.
- He misses home and the autumn days, he is afraid and tense because his knees are shaking, he is emotionally affected by Darrel’s death, he is full of anger and fear at the same time, goes wild for a cigarette, is too tired to write, is surprised at killing a V.C. so easily and feels lucky to be alive.
- Comparisons: ‘like a team of dogs’, ‘like a baby’, ‘like a speed boat’, ‘like a firecracker’, ‘like manna from heaven’, ‘like boiled chicken’s feet’, ‘like a dream’, ‘like trying to put those round pegs in the square holes’. Memories of home: hunting rabbits in the fall, biology lessons, Sundays when company came, cherry bombing people’s mailboxes on Halloween, the taste of the turkey from home, Mama riding little Donna on her knee, a test they did in school.
Students should point out the repetitiveness of daily duty, the physical pain, the sense of pride which helps the soldiers to go on, the sensation they have of living in another world which is completely apart. Their feelings range from despair and fear to exaltation. Only the memories of home and the hope to come back one day keeps them alive among the mud and physical difficulties they have to endure.
The enemy is called with different names: V.C., Charlie, gooks. It is connoted with a sense of menace. It is either something to be scared of or scientifically interested in. They refer to some sort of special smell or ‘stink
The helicopter is an important reminder for them of being part of an army, of having support and it arrives with cigarettes and typical American food which act positively on the soldiers’ morale.
- He is balancing a notebook on his knee, which reminds him of home and the way his mother played a game with her little daughter where she had her on her knee and pretended to be a horse.
- The play on words is that the cigarettes are called Lucky Strike (‘Luckies’) and the soldiers need luck to stay alive and survive the war. It is ironic because smoking cigarettes is actually bad for one’s health and possibly leads to illness and death, while a chance for life is what is actually needed and hoped for by the soldiers.
- Because of the nightmarish reality of the war. The ‘world outside’, the world ‘without war’ seems unreal almost like a dream.
- It seems to him that survival would be a miracle.
- The whole paragraph is full of nostalgia. First he remembers his mother playing with her daughter, then he thinks of the old life ‘like a dream’ and of his school days, and at the end he repeats the lines of a song that reminds him of his wife Irene.
A Cold Coming
The poet is looking at a dead Iraqi soldier who has been burnt alive in his truck and describes him as leaning forward, reaching out towards the shattered windscreen almost as though he wants to use the windscreen wiper to write down his thoughts or his will.
The poet sees the soldier as asking him for an exclusive interview. The strange thing is that the soldier is dead so it is almost as though he is asking from beyond the grave to have his message heard.
The reference is to the Nativity and the birth of Christ, which is mentioned again at the end of the poem (‘a bottled Bethlehem’, line 35). The poet is emphasising the contrast between the Three Kings (also called the Three Wise Men) arriving for Christ’s birth and this war, which leads only to death.
The three soldiers have left their sperm frozen so that if they do not return from the war, their wives will still have the possibility of having their children. It shows us that the soldiers were fully aware of the possibility of dying and it also expresses their wish to leave something of themselves behind if they do die.
The Iraqi soldier who describes himself as half roasted and half bone apologises for being scornful of the American soldiers but explains that he is actually envious of what they have done because he wishes he had had that opportunity too.
The soldier suggests that the journalist/poet lies by saying the Iraqis want their enemies to become their friends and would be pleased to see their children in the arms of enemy soldiers. This ironic tone is a comment on what people want to read and hear from journalists rather than the horrific reality of war
The ‘frozen phial of waste’ is a comment on the destruction of the country caused by the war; the frozen test-tube is a reference to the frozen sperm of the three soldiers; the crib, Kaaba, Ark, Cross and Crescent are all religious symbols of the countries and religions involved - Christians, Muslims and Jews; the rainbow in seven shades of black is a reference to the black smoke from the burning oil fields.
bottled Bethlehem’, ‘come-curdling Cruise/Scud-cursed’, ‘pressed … PLAY’.
The rhyming pattern is a double rhyme in each line giving a quick pace to the poem, almost like a regular heartbeat - a deliberate irony, as the poem talks of death and the dead soldier is the protagonist.
The tone of the poem is falsely light and almost simplistic because of the regular rhymes and the simple vocabulary, but the message is actually strong and shocking - like the terrible photograph of the dead burnt soldier. The message is clearly anti-war with ‘Mankind on the rocks’; the world will never have a rebirth until it ‘renounces War‘
Tony Harrison’s poem is obviously closer to Wilfred Owen’s poetry in its vivid description of war and the emphasis on graphic details, like the charred soldier’s face and the mention of gas and arms. Both are violently anti-war in their message.
Suggestion: An expected answer would explain that war has always been the subject of human interest from the earliest times. Students might cite examples like Beowulf or the Odyssey as examples of early interest and then modern works, in particular films and photographic evidence. Good essays will contain details of films, novels, poems or paintings that the students have seen or read and their reaction to them. Detailed description of the work and of the individual reaction would gain good marks as also the comparison of different works and different viewpoints on war. Some students may also be able to cite the War Poets for WWI, films sometimes glorifying war and those critical of it. A personal viewpoint on war is required.
7.7 New trends in poetry
- The Movement
- main representatives: Philip Larkin and Thom Gunn
- main features: they reacted against some trends in British poetry which had characterised the first half of the century, showed a tendency towards cultural provincialism and British insularity, and aimed at creating rational and comprehensible poetry about contemporary everyday life
- The Group
- main representative: Ted Hughes
- main features: radical protest against the Movement poets, who were accused of ignoring the real contemporary problems; cruel, violent poetry
- Poetry of the underground
- main representatives: poets of the late 1950s and early 1960s
- main features: it was associated with rock music and festivals, and with happenings; poets came to be considered the spokesmen of common people again
- The Liverpool poets
- main representatives: Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten
- main features: they wrote for the young, using simple, direct, immediate language, and their favourite themes were a mixture of personal feelings and innocent protest against the establishment
- The Martians
- main representatives: Craig Raine and Christopher Reid
- main features: they looked at reality through the distorting filter of a lens, expressing familiar concepts in unfamiliar ways, as if they were Martians visiting the earth
- Northern Ireland poetry
- main representative: Seamus Heaney
- main features: the Irish poets viewed nature as the locus of Ireland’s historical memory, both political and private
- the ‘Movement’.
- because most of them were teachers of English from recently built red-brick provincial universities.
- intellectualism of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, the political commitment of the poets of the 1930s, and Dylan Thomas’s excessive romanticism and obscure symbolism.
- cultural provincialism and British insularity.
- the radical protest against the Movement poets, who were accused of ignoring the real contemporary problems.
- urban environment, rock music and festivals, and with happenings.
It was influenced by pop music; it was written in simple, direct, immediate language, and it mixed personal feelings and innocent protest against the establishment.
The absence of a dominant figure and the lack of an important poetical movement characterised the poetry of the 1970s and 1980s.
7.8 The contemporary novel
- the dominant trends: individualism and pluralism, even if some novelists share particular themes and techniques in their work neo-realism: the 1950s were characterised by the appearance of neo-realism, a trend which worked against Modernism and led to social protest
- the ‘Angry Young Men’: in the late 1950s and early 1960s the ‘Angry Young Men’ portrayed a conflict-ridden everyday reality through the figure of a young hero, who was usually provincial and lower-middle- or working-class in origin, and who tried to climb the social ladder at the expense of some established values and figures
- magic realism: magic realism mingles the realistic with the unexpected and the inexplicable; elements of dream, fairy story or mythology are combined with everyday reality
- the dystopian novel: horror of the present and fear of the future concerned writers such as William Golding, who, in his novel Lord of the Flies (1954), expressed his view of the thinness of the protective civilised layer keeping man from barbarism and the brutal annihilation of his own kind
- contemporary women writers: contemporary women writers are not only interested in portraying female personal life, but also in questioning large-scale social or intellectual problems
- the present scene: the present scene is varied and rich
7.9 Contemporary drama
- The Theatre of the Absurd
- main representatives: Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard
- theme: the absurdity of the human condition
- style: debasement of language; seldom recognisable characters aim: to express the anguish of modern man
- The Theatre of Anger
- main representative: John Osborne
- themes: frustration and everyday life
- style: conventional form; logical plot; outspoken language aim: to criticise and reject the establishment
- The kitchen-sink drama
- main representative: Arnold Wesker
- theme: working-class urban life style: realism
- aim: to express political concern
- The socialist theatre
- main representatives: Edward Bond and Caryl Churchill
- themes: social and political issues
- style: rational analysis
- aims: to analyse issues at a social rather than metaphysical level; to bring about a change in working-class consciousness
- Irish theatre
- main representative: Brian Friel
- themes: Irishness; getting free from the ghosts of Irish history
- style: away from conventional characterisation towards theatrical improvisation #*aim: to break up the old models and reshape the past
7.10 American literature after the Second World War
- Genre: Beat poetry. Main representatives: Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso. Aim: It expressed the mood of the new generation, its angry and desperate revolt, its reflective and denunciatory attitude. Style: It rejected the traditional forms, broke down the distinctions between poetry and prose and experimented with graphic visual layout.
- Genre: Confessional poetry. Main representatives: Robert Lowell, Jr. and Sylvia Plath. Aim: It dealt with the poet’s most private experiences and emotions, with suffering, madness, family relationships, the exploration of female awareness. Style: It employed an everyday, colloquial language and a narrative form.
- Genre: Fiction in the 1950s. Main representatives: Jerome David Salinger, Jack Kerouac and Ralph Ellison. Aim: It reflected the tensions and contradictions of America’s complex and varied society; it represented the rebellion of the American teenagers and the myth of the journey. Style: The style was conversational and the language very effective.
- Genre: Fiction in the 1960s and 1970s. Main representatives: Kurt Vonnegut, Harper Lee and Thomas Pynchon; Jewish writers. Aim: It questioned the values of society, history and the literary form; it dealt with Jewish life in Eastern Europe and the USA. Style: It used double meanings, grotesque, surrealist techniques, and also drew from science fiction; their works were mostly written in Yiddish and then translated into English.
- Genre: Fiction in the 1980s. Main representatives: Raymond Carver, David Leavitt and Jay McInerney. Aim: It dealt with themes such as the crisis of the family, drugs, homosexuality and AIDS. Style: It employed a neat, clear, dry style accumulating trivial minimal elements to convey disturbing meaning.
- Genre: Afro-American fiction. Main representatives: Richard Wright, James Baldwin and Alex Haley; Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. Aim: The novels of Afro-American women writers combine feminist, ethnic and psychological issues. Style: The style is rich and varied and underlines the power of the literary voices of women and minorities.
- Genre: Contemporary drama. Main representatives: Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams; Edward Albee, main exponent of the Off-Broadway movement. Aim: It dealt with social contradictions, the crisis of values and political issues like the Vietnam War. Style: It was characterised by the use of American regional speech, the close interplay between stage and film techniques and the production of musicals; Off-Broadway theatres experimented with language and staging techniques
7.11 Voices from English-speaking countries
- What factors led to the use of English as a sort of lingua franca? This was made possible, first of all, by historical events: the settlement of English-speaking people in newly discovered lands; the massive emigration of people from England, Ireland and Scotland to North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Africa during the 18th and 19th centuries; the increased world power of the United States since World War II. In the 20th century, English became the language of political and financial transactions, of study and research; it is now the language used by people of different nations to communicate. This is due to the adaptability and flexibility of the language itself, and increasingly to the domination of English on the Internet.
- The contributions of countries such as South Africa and Nigeria, the West Indies, Australia and Canada, which used to be part of the British Empire. Nowadays they belong to the Commonwealth.
- Some authors have chosen to write in English because, although born in another country - often in an ex-colony or a Commonwealth country -, they have been educated and live in Britain. On the other hand, those writers who come from countries where indigenous languages are still mainly oral and not mutually comprehensible have quickly realised that if they wish to communicate not only with the English-speaking world at large, but also with considerable numbers of their fellow countrymen, they have to use English.
- All the new African English literatures have shared similar styles and approaches, dealt with many of the same basic themes and gone through the same phases of development - from initial revulsion against colonialism and passionate reassertion of indigenous cultural values, through disillusionment with the fruits of independence, and thereafter either to a growing sense of alienation, to silence or to further explosions of anger and radicalism. Another general point is that the rapid political and social changes in Africa are likely to exert considerable pressure on African writers, so that they are less interested in introspection and psychological analysis or in elaborate experiments in language and structure.
CLIL Art Contemporary art
- It focused on the use of abstraction to convey expressive or emotional content.
- It symbolised the artist’s psychic world.
- the leading figures of this movement. The leading figures of Abstract Expressionism were Mark Rothko (1903-70), who explored abstraction through rectangular fields of luminous colour, Willem de Kooning (1904-97), whose works were characterised by highly gestural signs, and Jackson Pollock (1912-56).
- Pollock’s early style was influenced by the expressive, often violent use of paint of Mexican muralists, while Picasso and the Surrealists affected the tumultuous symbolism of his works in the late 1930s.
- He used his whole body energetically in the act of painting. He dripped, splattered, rolled and even threw enamel and aluminium paint onto his huge canvases stretched on the floor. He was the first ‘all-over’ painter who abandoned all conventions of a central motif. He painted no image, only ‘action’.
- Most of his paintings are a vast expanse on a heroic scale. They are alive with coloured scribble, spattered lines moving this way and that, now thickening, now trailing off to a slender line. Pollock put his hands into the paint and placed them at the top right - an instinctive gesture reminiscent of cave painters.
- The only recognisable objects are the dark blue poles of the title.
- It contains interwoven lines, drips of colour and splashes of paint.
- Does it maintain the traditional perspective? Does it emphasise the flatness of the plane? Does it create a sense of depth and does it try to harmonise lines, shapes and colours? No, the picture does not seem to have any edge or frame and does not maintain the traditional perspective. It emphasises the flatness of the plane and it does not try to harmonise lines, shapes and colours.
The poles were probably made with the brush. The white, yellow and orange look as if they had been dripped or splashed onto the canvas.
Bright, crude, violent.
- It came from the imagery of popular culture as defined by the powerful advertising industry that was adopted as its subject matter.
- The public appreciated it because it was lively, colourful and decorative; it could be easily collected and fitted into modern interiors.
- The most famous Pop artists were Roy Lichtenstein (1923-97), Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), Andy Warhol (1928-87) and Jasper Johns (1930-).
- They adopted various techniques from collage to assemblage, silkscreen and encaustic.
- Real name: Andrew Warhola.
- Place of birth: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- Education: He studied Art in his hometown.
- Moved to: New York City, where he practised commercial art.
- How he attracted attention: He attracted attention in the 1960s with exhibitions of Pop Art objects from daily life.
- What he chose to present: He made use of images of consumption and death. *Testimonials and Warhol’s paintings: He chose his testimonials with care; among his first paintings were Green Coca-Cola Bottles (1962), Campbell’s Soup Cans (1962), and film stars, which he treated in single or multiple images.
- Did you know? The Andy Warhol Museum, the largest single-artist museum in the United States, opened in Pittsburgh in 1994
- Her hair is blonde, short and wavy; her lips are red and smudges can be seen on the lipstick; her eyes are dark and the eyeshadow is light blue.
- No, the images are not identical. The shade on Marilyn’s oval face and the eyeshadow modify the outline of her face.
Warhol developed a mechanical process, the commercial silkscreen printing or serigraphy, which gave the effect of newsprint reproduction and allowed multiple reproductions of the same image. This method of work created mechanical, unreal, flat, impersonal and visualjoke images. Which techniques/styles does this painting recall? This painting recalls the techniques/ styles used in newspapers and advertisements.
A considerable distortion in colour characterises this composition. The colours used are six: light blue for Marilyn’s eyeshadow and part of the background, pink for her face, red for her lips, yellow for her hair, black for the outlines and shades and orange for the background. These colours connote something unreal.
- Warhol found in Monroe a fusion of two of his consistent themes: death and the cult of celebrity. By repeating the image, he evokes her constant presence in the media. The contrast of vivid colour with black and white, and the effect of fading in the right panel are suggestive of the star’s mortality.
- He infused portraiture with immediacy and power, and he brought to it new materials and techniques.
7.12 Philip Larkin
- The sense of time, nature - which is generally a winter, cold, dark landscape - and childhood are the main themes developed by Larkin. His poetry also deals with disillusionment, defeat, solitude, death, isolation and boredom, and it is dominated by a deep pessimism.
- Old age is seen as the decline of man and is characterised by loneliness.
- Larkin’s poems usually present a casual, easygoing start, and end up in serious reflection and philosophical questioning. Their language is argumentative, objective and colloquial. However, in his last collection there is a development in the adoption of coarse expressions, probably the sign of an emotional involvement and a bitter impatience that increased over the years.
- Two important symbols recur in Larkin’s poetry: the photograph, which stands for the past since it freezes what happened, and the room, which represents loneliness; here man isolates himself within four walls and among some trivial objects and prevents himself from escaping. The room, which mirrors the person who lives in it, is also the symbol of the limits of human experience and knowledge.
- It is one of loneliness, melancholy and deep pessimism. This sense of loss is in tune with the deepest insecurities, anxieties and halfvalues of an English audience suffering the withdrawal from imperial and colonial power in the aftermath of the war.
- His characters are wounded by sexual impotence, anxiety, distress, incompetence and incommunicability
T113 Annus Mirabilis
- Part 1 (lines 1-5, 16-20) The year 1963 and the beginning of a new age.
- Part 2 (lines 6-15) The time up to 1963, the year of big change.
- Highlighted in yellow: specific details of 1963
- Highlighted in light blue: words and phrases describing the past
- Red dots: two important symbols: The Beatles and Lady Chatterley’s Lover What do you think they stand for? They both stand for sexual freedom as part of the cultural revolution of the Sixties as opposed to the depression linked to the past, that is, the time up to 1963.
- Highlighted in green: a metaphor: the change taking place in everyone’s life after 1963 is compared to a game that cannot be lost
- Highlighted in grey: the poet’s comments What do they suggest about his personality and attitude to life? He feels defeated, disillusioned and alone since it is too late for him to join the cultural revolution of the 1960s.
- Arrows: the opening and the closing stanzas are very similar; they function as a refrain
- It looks like an Annus Mirabilis.
- Marriage. The poet uses words such as ‘bargaining’, ‘wrangle’ and ‘shame’ to refer to the often squalid, hypocritical nature of loveless marriages.
- Everything changed, beginning with people’s attitude towards sexual freedom.
- It is too late for him, which is why he feels so disillusioned.
- The poem is composed of four five-line stanzas. The lines are mostly regular in length; the fourth line in each stanza is longer than the others. The rhyme scheme is regular: ABBAB. The rhythm is regular, too. Examples of alliteration can be found in lines 9 and 14.
- The language of the poem is ordinary and the tone is conversational.
7.13 Seamus Heaney
- At Mossbawn, in County Derry, Northern Ireland.
- Warmth and affection.
- Conflict and division.
- Because he won a scholarship.
- First to Belfast, then to the Irish Republic.
- In the early 1960s.
- His poetry readings.
- He got more involved in the Catholic civil rights movement.
- Because he published both Selected Poems and a prose collection.
- The Nobel Prize for Literature.
|1966||Death of a Naturalist|
|1969||Door into the Dark|
|1980||Selected Poems 1965-1975; Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978|
|1995||Nobel Prize for Literature|
|1996||The Spirit Leve|
|1999||published a translation of ‘Beowulf|
- Heaney’s early poems derive their primary material from the world of his childhood. Rural County Derry is the ‘country of the mind’. The poet conveys what man and nature share, which is underlined in his emphasis on human work. The interchange between man and nature also enlarges the poet’s consciousness; the incidents described always bring about new knowledge and enforce the view of the poet as intimately involved with his own community, the inheritor of rural traditions of labour and service.
- They evoke figures who suffer some kind of human diminishment - isolation, repression, disenchantment, exploitation or betrayal. They stand for those historically dispossessed and maltreated, and act as exemplars of suffering and endurance. Heaney’s poems are filled with images of death and dying, and yet they are also firmly rooted in the concreteness of everyday life.
- It is characterised by the dissolving of line into line and image into image, often through the use of enjambement. This form is heavily stressed, with two stresses to a line, like the half-line of Anglo-Saxon alliterative metre; it often breaks its line to coincide with the grammatical phrase; and it makes much use of the colon or its equivalent, the dash. As a result, it has a certain archaic quality. Heaney uses alliteration and onomatopoeia extensively and he sometimes refers to, quotes or imitates Anglo-Saxon kennings. He uses northern dialect and words from the Gaelic, and employs technical terms.
- Being born into a society deeply divided along religious and political lines had the effect not only of darkening the mood of Heaney’s work in the 1970s, but also of giving him concerns about the question of poetry’s responsibilities in the world, since poetry is split between a need for creative freedom and a pressure to express the sense of social obligation felt by the poet as a citizen.
- To Heaney, the bog victims became archetypal symbols for the need of communities to exact blood sacrifice. The poet’s task is to examine the historical reasons and psychological consequences behind them. This gives his work universal meaning and almost mythic resonance.
- At home, by the window.
- Yes, he does.
- He is writing when he hears someone under his window.
- He can see his father digging, bent among the flowerbeds.
- He remembers when his father used to drill potatoes 20 years before, and he remembers his grandfather as well.
- He was very good at handling the spade to cut the turf.
- He brought him some milk in a bottle.
- He decides to dig with his pen.
- Consider the sequence of the scenes described. Identify those belonging to the poet’s reflection and those associated with his memory.
- Scenes belonging to the poet’s reflection: lines 1-6, 15-18, 25-31; scenes belonging to the poet’s memory: lines 7-14, 19-24.
- Decide whether the following statements about the sound of the poem are true or false.
- Line 4 contains
- A alliteration.
- The ‘squelch and slap’ in line 25 is
- B onomatopoeia.
- Underline the words referring to the area of agriculture.
- The ‘spade’ (lines 4, 15, 28); ‘gravelly ground’ (line 4); ‘digging’/‘dig’ (lines 5, 9, 24, 31); ‘potato drills’ (line 8); ‘coarse boot’, ‘lug’ (line 10); ‘rooted out’, ‘tops’ (line 12); ‘scatter’, ‘potatoes’, ‘picked’ (line 13); ‘turf’ (lines 17, 24); ‘bog’ (line 18); ‘Nicking and slicing’, ‘heaving sods’ (line 22); ‘potato mould’, ‘squelch and slap’ (line 25); ‘soggy peat’ (line 26).
- Through the image of his digging forefathers, Heaney expresses a vision of labour that is
- B productive and rewarding at the same time.
- What are the feelings conveyed through the poet’s memories? Tick as appropriate.
Heaney’s inspiration springs from ‘remembering’, through a process of looking back rather than forward. At the same time, ‘digging’ becomes a metaphor of the probing of the unconscious.
- Part 1 (lines 1-22) The poet is fascinated by the sight of the retrieved body
- Part 2 (lines 23-31) The poet feels pity for the victim.
- Part 3 (lines 32-44) The poet reflects on his role
- Highlighted in yellow: details of the punishment
- Highlighted in grey: what the girl’s appearance might have been at the time of the execution
- Highlighted in green: how the poet feels in front of the retrieved body: he observes with curiosity but also identifies with the victim. He feels sympathy and almost love
- Highlighted in pink: metaphors comparing the girl to a young tree: her bones look like wood, her head is like a wooden box containing the brain. Teachers should point out that these images are imitations of Anglo-Saxon kennings
- Blue words: simile to describe the girl’s shaved head
- Pink words: how the poet addresses the victim: the adjectives emphasise the fragility and helplessness of the girl
- Highlighted in light blue: the poet’s attitude when faced with a similar punishment against Irish girls by the IRA in contemporary Ireland
- Analyse the poem’s layout considering the division into stanzas; the length of lines and of words; the rhyme scheme; and the use of punctuation. Eleven four-line stanzas; the length of lines and words is not regular, even though most lines and words are short; the rhyme scheme is not regular, free verse is used; students should notice the use of run-on lines, and of commas, colons and full stops at the end of several lines/stanzas.
- The poet draws an analogy between the bog girl and the Irish Catholic girls punished in Northern Ireland during the 1970s for going out with British soldiers. Point out the relevant lines. Can you see any difference in the way the poet talks about prehistoric and contemporary violence? Lines 38-40. The way the poet describes the prehistoric ritual betrays a sort of fascination and reverence. Moreover, he implies that the girl had been used as a scapegoat. Her Irish sisters, instead, were publicly exposed as a warning: contemporary violence is much more savage, it implies hatred and denies its victims any dignity.
- The last part of the poem is dominated by the poet’s reflection about his role. Why do you think he chose to talk about the young girl? What do the oppositions (‘understand’/‘revenge’, ‘civilized’/‘connive’) in the last four lines underline? Because she was offering the poet an image that could become an emblem and also achieve a kind of poetic beauty. The bog girl of ancient Europe became a symbol of the violence in Northern Ireland. The oppositions in the last four lines underline the contrast between a rational and an instinctive attitude. Some critics have seen in these lines a refusal to face the reality of violence in Northern Ireland, others think that Heaney is looking for a consolatory note to be able to stand the atrocities in his country
Both poems contain a tense shift which underlines the role of the past in the present. The ‘digging’ theme is present in both but in T114 it regards gravel, potatoes and turf, while in T115 it concerns the past, or better, myth. In both poems the bog is a powerful metaphor of the collective unconscious of the Irish. Both poems deal with the poet’s role - in Digging he has an imaginary journey into memory and decides to dig up the truth with his pen, in Punishment he is more ambiguous and feels guilty in front of sectarian revenge
- Upbringing: He was born into a Catholic family, he was brought up in a rural environment and became aware of the religious and cultural division of Ulster at school.
- Interests: He was interested in the Catholic civil rights movement and archaeology.
- Themes: He wrote about rural life, human isolation and Irish history.
- Imagery: He drew his images from country life and archaeology.
- Aim: His poetry aimed at enlarging consciousness and bringing about new knowledge.
- Upbringing: He belonged to the Anglo-Irish Protestant minority and spent long periods in the rural west of Ireland.
- Interests: He was interested in the Irish revival myth, mystical doctrines and the occult.
- Themes: He wrote about art, beauty, eternity, tradition, age and death.
- Imagery: He drew his images from nature and myth.
- Aim: His poetry aimed at reviving Irish culture.
7.14 William Golding
- Royal Navy
- D-Day landings
- over 7
- Nobel Prize
- He provides the reader with immediacy and certainty, and an analysis of what is permanent in human nature.
- He is presented in relation to his cosmic situation.
- Golding’s world is remote and dreadful, and he believes that man’s propensity for evil is far greater than his propensity for goodness.
- Throughout his work, Golding tries to create a structure that serves as an emblem of the spiritual life, which only becomes real in the realm of imagination.
- They are the development of two narrative movements and two different perspectives of the same situation, and the radical shifts in points of view that usually appear near the end of the novel.
Lord of the Flies
- It takes place on an Eden-like island in the Pacific or Indian Ocean after a plane crash.
- The protagonists are a group of boys aged 6 to 12. Their plane, while en route, crashed and all the adults were killed. There is no mention of how many boys were originally on the plane, nor is there an exact count taken of the boys who survived the crash. The three main characters of the novel are Piggy, Jack and Ralph.
- The boys are confronted with the task of survival.
- They initially set up a rational community based on a ‘grown-up’ model; they establish a government and laws under the leadership of Ralph, Simon and the short-sighted Piggy. Shelters are built and food supplies are arranged, yet, almost immediately, the society disintegrates under two pressures: aggression and superstition.
- After killing an enormous sow, Jack cuts its head off and puts it on a stake transforming it into a kind of god, the ‘Lord of the Flies’. These words are a direct translation of the Greek word Beelzebub, which, in the Bible, is another name for Satan.
- The climax is reached when the boys’ game turns into the killing of Simon and Piggy. It is from that point on that all social rules are disregarded.
- Ralph is hunted down by those who oppose social norms and boundaries, and has to flee in order to stay alive. In the end the adult world intervenes in the person of a British naval officer. The fable ends with Ralph crying for ‘the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart’.
- All the boys in the novel exist on two levels: as individuals and as symbols of human nature. Ralph stands for reason, democracy and civilisation. Jack, who represents savagery, violence and instinct, is Ralph’s natural antagonist. He is the head of a choir of ‘hunters’. He is the aggressive force of evil and imposes a sense of discipline on the others, unlike Ralph. He stands for dictatorship versus democracy. Piggy - Ralph’s most loyal supporter - is the voice of rationalism; he believes in the possibility of rescue by the adult society, in the values of civilisation and in the possibility of directing human effort constructively. Simon stands for intelligence and sensitivity. His death marks the end of civility and rationality in the novel.
- The fire becomes the symbol of destruction but also of rescue, while a white shining conch, found by Ralph near the shore at the beginning of the novel, stands for democracy and order. The skull of a female pig, a victim of the collective ritual killing, becomes both a symbol of a sacrificial victim and the emblem of the forces of evil. Another important symbol is Piggy’s glasses, which serve to make fire and therefore symbolise power; as they serve as a means for rescue, they symbolise rationality as well. The symbols of savagery are the children’s painted faces, and the Lord of the Flies created when Jack and his hunters perform the brutal murder of a sow.
- Golding’s language is a remarkable blend of the abstract, the symbolic and the concrete. On one hand there is the jargon of schoolboys in the Fifties, and on the other, when the author voices the children’s thoughts or explains the meaning of their actions, the language is much more elaborate, full of symbols and imagery.
- The most important themes are: human nature; man’s innate defects that can destroy not only an individual but an entire society; good versus evil; the fear of the darkness; two opposing forms of government, a democratic one and an authoritarian one.
T116 The end of the play
- streaked with
- 1 Ralph is hunted and falls on the beach: lines 1-9
- 2 Ralph bumps into the naval officer: lines 10-62
- 3 Ralph weeps: lines 63-73
- He is chased by the other boys, that is, Jack and his gang.
- He is afraid of being killed.
- He can hear the other boys ‘crashing in the undergrowth’ and their ‘desperate ululation’. He can see the fire and the things destroyed by it.
- The officer sees Ralph and a semicircle of little boys making no noise; he can also see the fire destroying the palms by the beach and the wood.
- They look like small savages.
- The fire is sweeping across the island.
He cries for the end of innocence, the darkness existing within man’s soul and the death of his true friend Piggy
The fighting in a primitive world and the war in a civilised world.
- The officer looks like a stranger coming from a different world.
- In line 24(‘A semicircle of little boys…’) the naval officer’s point of view is adopted. A second shift can be found in line 71 when the boys’ point of view is adopted.
- The former shift makes us aware that the human beings who have killed and are now chasing Ralph are ‘little boys’. The latter shift points out that the boys have been rescued by the naval officer but they will be plunged into another war
- By speaking but also nodding and shaking his head, Ralph tells the officer his and the other boys’ story. Underline with different colours events and situations that happened at the beginning of their adventure and the ones linked to their present situation. Then collect your data under the following headings.
- Past: Peace and friendship (lines 60-62); the island was an earthly paradise (lines 55-58, 63-64).
- Present: The desperate ululation of the boys (lines 5, 16); two boys have been killed (lines 35-39); Ralph does not know how many boys there are on the island (lines 47-48); the burning wreckage of the island (line 67).
- The past represents civilisation, while the present stands for primitive, savage life.
- Yes, there is a meaningful contrast between the two periods: the past was characterised by friendship and peace, while the present is linked to evil and violence.
- ‘ululation’ (lines 5, 16), ‘filthy appearance’ (line 20), ‘their bodies streaked with coloured clay, sharp sticks in their hands’ (lines 24-25), ‘the little scarecrow’ (line 33), ‘The kid needed a bath, a hair-cut, a nose-wipe and a good deal of ointment’ (lines 33-34), ‘with the distended bellies of small savages’ (lines 41-42), ‘painted boys’ (line 48), ‘with filthy body, matted hair, and unwiped nose’ (lines 68-69). The passage from a state of innocence to that of experience has brought about this change in their life.
- Words like ‘a huge peaked cap’ (line 10), ‘a white-topped cap’ (lines 10-11), ‘white drill, epaulettes, a revolver, a row of gilt buttons down the front of a uniform’ (line 12) belong to the military world.
- The boys will be taken back to the world of the adults where another war is being fought with more sophisticated weapons and means - ‘revolver’ (lines 12, 18), ‘a cutter’ (line 14), ‘a sub-machine gun’ (line 15).
- Reason, authority, civilisation.
Precise, realistic, colourful.
Sight: ‘through the forest towards the open beach’ (line 3); ‘Spots’ (line 3); ‘red circles’ (line 4); ‘burst into flames and the fire flapped’ (lines 7-8); ‘glitter of water’ (line 8); ‘white-topped cap’ (line 11); ‘green shade of the peak … gold foliage’ (line 11); ‘white drill’ (line 12); ‘gilt buttons’ (line 12); ‘a cutter … gun’ (lines 14-15); ‘semicircle’ (line 24); ‘streaked with coloured clay’ (line 25); ‘A flame … was black’ (lines 28-29); ‘shuddering with flame’ (line 39); ‘brown’ (line 41); ‘painted boys’ (line 48); ‘black cap on his red hair’ (line 51); ‘began to shake’ (line 68). Sound: ‘crying out madly’ (line 1); ‘hear them crashing’ (line 1); ‘thunder’ (line 2); ‘desperate ululation’ (line 5); ‘the cry … rose even higher’ (line 7); ‘trying to cry for mercy’ (line 9); ‘The ululation faltered and died away’ (line 16); ‘dumbly’ (lines 24, 63); ‘no noise at all’ (lines 25-26); ‘noisily’ (line 28); ‘whistled softly’ (line 40); ‘loudly’ (line 50); ‘sob(s)’ (lines 65, 68); ‘His voice rose’ (lines 66-67); ‘wept’ (line 69); ‘noises’ (line 71).
Before: obsessive, primitive, terrifying, simple, mysterious, hostile; after: reassuring, complex, childlike.
Sense impressions are more important than reason before Ralph’s fall; in fact, the boys have neglected reason, which was, according to them, unable to solve any problems.
Evil is something innate in man.
Suggestion: Golding’s novel is considered a subversion of the adventure tale, comparing it to Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. Both Robinson and Golding’s children deal with survival, but in the latter case the young participants’ mission is to stay on the island as long as possible. They challenge each other in different competitions and vote one person out every week. The full meaning of Lord of the Flies is linked to the very real horrors of World War II. It hints at the concepts of civilisation, altruism, political leadership responsibilities, and the history of Western imperialism. Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Orwell’s 1984 and Golding’s novel describe a dystopian world, but while Swift’s aim is to attack political corruption and Orwell’s to show the dangers of politics, Golding develops the theme of ‘the darkness of man’s heart’, of evil that is innate in man.
Suggestion: Students should point out that whereas Dickens depicts childhood as pure in order to criticise the impure adult world around them, Golding suggests a primordial capacity for sadism and cruelty in all mankind. Lord of the Flies also hints at the savagery in the Western coloniser.
7.15 Doris Lessing
- Born: She was born in Persia (now Iran) in 1919 from British parents and was brought up in the British colony of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), where her family had moved in 1924.
- Moved to: Salisbury in 1937 for a year, and to England again, this time to London, in 1949 because of her radical politics.
- Political stance: She joined the Left Book Club in 1937. During the post-war years she became increasingly disillusioned with the communist movement, which she left in 1954.
- Beginning of literary career: She published her first novel, The Grass Is Singing, in 1950. Issues to be found in her novels: She attacked the colour bar; she dealt with the issues of the Sixties and with the condition of women, the mental condition of people in a technological society and with the apocalyptic ecological disaster.
- Reputation: In 1956 she was declared a ‘prohibited alien’ in both Southern Rhodesia and South Africa; in 2007 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
- The responsible artist should be ‘an architect of the soul’ working to strengthen good against evil. The artist’s responsibility is to describe the world with energy and despair, never in a spirit of passive acceptance, to look for a relationship between individuals and the community.
- In her novels she traces the most urgent concerns of contemporary society: the collapse of empires and idealism, the shadow of war and the threat of the nuclear bomb, urban disaster and the destruction of the environment through pollution, the free will of the individual within a historical and social continuum, the condition of women in relation to marriage, politics, sex.
- No, she was deeply involved with the changing patterns of thought, feeling and culture, rather than with formal experimentalism. Her style is predominantly realistic, though her language is rich in symbolism. The characterisation in her novels draws on psychological introspection; the development of a theme often implies acute political analysis and social documentation.
- Africa was her starting point, an experience that became a mirror for the universe. Drawing upon her childhood memories and her commitment to politics and social issues, Lessing explored the clash of cultures, the injustices of racial inequality, the struggle among opposing elements within an individual’s own personality, and the conflict between the individual conscience and the collective good.
- She tried to accommodate what she admired in the novels of the 19th century - their ‘climate of ethical judgement’ - to the demands of 20th-century ideas about consciousness and time. She described society in terms of realism and at the same time questioned it by means of other literary modes, such as utopia and dystopia.
The Grass Is Singing
- From a line in the fifth part of T.S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land.
- When and where is the story set? It is set in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, today’s Zimbabwe, in the days of apartheid.
- Who is Mary Turner and what is her relationship with Moses? Mary Turner is a white woman who has spent the first 30 years of her life in town, and eventually decides to marry a farmer, Dick Turner, to achieve social stability. However, she finds it difficult to get used to the isolated life on the farm and to deal with the natives. So she becomes increasingly apathetic and finally breaks down. She is attracted to Moses - one of the black workers - and frightened by him at the same time.
- He addresses her with insolence, thus subverting the traditional master/servant relationship.
- She explores the theme of racism, the institutionalised discrimination of apartheid, the relations between blacks and whites.
- Written from a third-person omniscient point of view, the novel is almost entirely in the form of an extended flashback. The narration focuses especially on the thoughts, feelings and motivations of its white characters.
- The writer’s aim is to document the murder of a white farmer’s wife by her native servant in order to address the human tendency to generalise, sensationalise and confirm one’s worst assumptions, fears and beliefs.
T117 The bush avenged itself
- trickled off
- The veranda (line 1): there are slim pillars (line 4), geranium plants (line 5) and the trees (line 6). It is dark (line 15) and Mary Turner is wearing a nightgown (line 8), so it must be night.
- The lightening flickers (line 3), the sky is cloudy (lines 6, 12) and the thunder growls (line 14).
- Complete the following sentences.
- The woman saw a man’s shape (Moses) move out from the dark and come towards her.
- The dogs stood watching alertly and wagged their tails in welcome.
- The man held a piece of metal in his hand and used it to kill the woman.
- C Moses inserted his hand between her jaws.
‘he started up, turning his head this way and that, straightening his body’ (lines 30-31)
he checked himself’ (line 38)
‘he dropped the weapon sharply on the floor, as if in fear’ (lines 37-38)
‘[he] held his hands under the rain, and, cleansed, prepared to walk off … ready to protest his innocence’ (lines 40-41)
he hesitated, looking about him’ (lines 39-40)
suddenly indifferent’ (line 42)
- Following his first impulse, Moses rushes away into the bush but, on second thoughts, he stops and waits by a tree.
- Lessing employs a thirdperson narrator. Mary’s point of view prevails in the passage.
- State how the characters are presented.
- Neither Mary nor Moses
- Mary’s feelings are fear, horror and guilt.
- B a helpless animal.
- His great shoulders, his head, the glistening of his eyes (lines 16-17); his hands (lines 21, 23, 40, 52, 57); his big arms (lines 26- 27); his back (line 34). The insistence on Moses’ physical appearance emphasises his physical superiority and strength and his menacing presence; he symbolises the dark, obscure side of human nature to which Mary feels attracted and of which she feels afraid.
- A personifications.
- The personification of wild nature underlines the menacing effect it has on the white woman, who feels alien and inferior to it.
the wild aspect of nature
the warning of death, which coincides with Moses’ triumph
purification and freedom Darkness murder, mystery and death
murder, mystery and death
- It subverts the traditional assumptions about the relationship between master and servant, man and woman, black people and white people.
7.16 Ian McEwan
- The Child in Time
- On Chesil Beach
- The Daydreamer
- The Children Act
- The Imitation Game
- The novel takes its title from an incident. While hiking in southern France in 1946, June was attacked by two huge black dogs which she perceived as the embodiment of the evil in the universe. In that moment she discovered a sense of the divine inside her that enabled her to resist the dogs.
- Black Dogs moves around Europe: some sections take place in an English nursing home where June is, others are set in southern France, in Poland, and in Berlin in November 1989 when the Berlin Wall began to be dismantled. The novel combines two different narrative levels: one, dealt with in the first three parts, referring to the late 1980s and the other, Part IV, to the mid-1940s.
- The narrator of the story is middle-aged Jeremy, who lost his parents in a road accident when he was 8. Since then he has tried to substitute them first with his friends’ parents and finally with his parents-in-law, June and Bernard Tremaine. Through their memories, Jeremy tries to reconstruct the story of their love and marriage, of their faith in Communism and later disillusionment, and of their parting when their lives take different courses after the incident which gives the novel its title.
- The clash of science and mysticism, rationality and magic; the existence of evil; the moral limits of political reform and religious belief; the excesses of violence and the redeeming power of love. The novel also explores some of the major events of late 20th-century European history.
- The black dogs are the dogs the Gestapo had originally brought to the French village to intimidate its inhabitants. After the landing of the Allies in Normandy, the Germans retreated; the dogs were left behind and they ran wild, becoming a menace for the area. After attacking June, the two dogs disappear but the book ends with Jeremy’s visionary warning that the black dogs will return to Europe at some other time.
- How is the narrative organised? Black Dogs is a first-person narration by Jeremy and it is presented as a memoir through the use of shifting perspectives and its doubling back through time for multiple reconstructions.
- There are elements of genre mixture in Black Dogs. The book is in part a ‘memoir’ both of the Tremaines and Jeremy himself, which makes it a psychological study as well as an act of selfanalysis. It has a discursive, essay-like element in it and, to some extent, it is a philosophical novel in which different positions are constantly in dialogue with each other.
- The novel is pervaded by violence. There is violence in Jeremy’s youth, in the sadistic-masochistic relationship between his sister and her husband, in their treatment of their daughter. The whole episode connected with Jeremy and Bernard’s visit to the Berlin Wall is full of violence. The unconceivable violence of the concentration camp of Majdanek, the French father’s brutal violence toward his child, the hideous black dogs themselves - all embody a brutal savagery that, Jeremy suggests, will recur in Europe sometime in the future. Violence is closely connected with a rejection of civilisation.
T118 A racy attack
- Part 1(lines 1-19) A Turkish demonstrator is abused both verbally and physically by some German passersby; Bernard decides to help him.
- Part 2(lines 20-91) The demonstrator manages to escape, and a group of neo-Nazis gathers round Bernard; Jeremy helps him fight the skinheads; a young woman verbally insults the boys forcing them to give up their assault.
- Highlighted in pink: Jeremy’s behaviour: he is worried about Bernard’s health and does not want to get involved in the fight. He tries to take action only when he cannot help it
- Highlighted in yellow: description of the Turkish demonstrator. He symbolises the minorities that become object of contempt even in democracy. His description and the zoom on the red flag are a bit grotesque: he is compared to a tango dancer doing his performance
- Highlighted in green: the ‘respectable’ German citizens that witness the odd demonstration and abuse the Turk both verbally and physically. They do not even take action when Bernard is kicked by the Nazi sympathisers but they applaud when the young woman rescues the old man. They represent hypocrisy and cowardice
- Highlighted in light blue: Bernard’s behaviour: he reacts against racism and violence; he believes that better social and political systems could eradicate ‘evil’. He tries to prevent violence against the Turkish man and becomes himself a victim
- Highlighted in orange: the very young neoNazis who attack the Turk first and then Bernard. They respect nothing and embody evil, the pervasive, ever-present force of violence that can arise anywhere at anytime
- Highlighted in grey: the young woman from the street that comes to Bernard’s rescue. If the old system of values has ceased to command, sexual appeal still functions. The neo-Nazis give up their attack because they are judged as naughty boys - and therefore not virile - by a young woman in public
- Blue words: the narrator’s remarks which interrupt the narration: they emphasise Jeremy’s helplessness towards the disappearance of moral and intellectual standards by which to judge not only his personal experience, but also the upheavals that have taken place in Europe since the end of WWII and culminated in the fall of Communism, one of the central motifs of the novel
- What strikes the reader is his being alone. The narrator says he is ‘a fraud’, probably an exhibitionist who escapes as soon as he can.
- Although they look respectable, they behave aggressively towards the Turkish demonstrator; they are racist and hypocritical. The second question is a class discussion. This task prepares the students to identify with the scene before doing exercise 4.
- While Bernard is able to understand what will happen and wants to be involved to prevent violence, Jeremy seems detached and even when he tries to defend Bernard, he does not seem convinced and in vain looks for help from the soldiers. His continuous remarks to the reader show that he lives experience on an intellectual level trying to make sense of history.
- What does McEwan seem to point out here instead? It seems that while the destruction of the Wall is meant to mark the end of racial hatred and the triumph of reason and humanity, it has merely signalled the end of one period of oppression under the Cold War to be replaced by another under democracy. The novel presents violence and a rejection of civilisation.
7.17 Samuel Beckett
- Born: In 1906 in a Dublin suburb, into a Protestant middle-class family.
- Education: He was educated at a boarding school, where he was a brilliant student, and then at Trinity College, Dublin. Here he took his BA degree in French and Italian.
- Beginning of his literary career: He began his literary career as a short-story writer and a novelist. He was one of a group of dramatists who developed the so-called ‘Theatre of the Absurd’.
- Features of his masterpiece: It expresses the basic belief that man’s life appears to be meaningless and purposeless and that human beings cannot communicate and understand each other. Its protagonists, the tramps Vladimir and Estragon, became the emblems of the Absurd.
- Further plays: Beckett’s further plays develop the character of the naked, helpless, static being. Endgame (1958) deals with the dissolution of the relationship between the physical and the intellectual sides of man experienced at the very moment of his death; Krapp’s Last Tape (1958) is a monologue, which stresses the impossibility for a man to find an identity; Happy Days (1960) reveals the playwright’s tendency to reduce characters to motionless individuals. One of his last plays, Breath (1969), shows how human life has become mere sounds, if not silence.
- Reputation: His international reputation was established by his plays. In 1969 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
- Did you know? Joyce and Beckett both spent several years in Paris, where Beckett helped his nearly blind friend to write down Finnegans Wake. The two writers’ friendship and working relationship came to an end when Beckett rejected the advances of Joyce’s daughter, Lucia.
Waiting for Godot
- in medias res
- country road
- hunger and pain
- only apparently
- still waiting
- The play has no development in time, since there seems to be just a repetitive meaningless present, and no setting but a country road and a bare tree.
- It stands for the inner world of the characters.
- The structure of the play is symmetrical: the stage is divided into two halves by the tree; the human race is divided into two, Didi and Gogo, then into four, Didi-Gogo and Pozzo-Lucky; then, with the boy’s arrival, into two again, mankind and Godot. The characters’ actions are also symmetrical: throughout the play Estragon tries to take off one of his boots, while Vladimir takes off his hat and peers into it. Both tramps need to take off their hat to think, whereas Lucky and Pozzo need to do the opposite.
- They are two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon. They are complementary, since they are different aspects of a single whole. Vladimir is more practical, he never dreams and he keeps waiting; Estragon is a dreamer, sceptical about Godot and always complaining about mysterious people who beat him during the night. Both men also serve to remind the other man of his very existence.
- Pozzo and Lucky are physically linked to each other by a rope as well as by a tyrannical relationship of master and servant; Lucky is slavish and stands for the power of the mind, while Pozzo is the oppressor and represents the power of the body
- A grotesque humour pervades the daily routine of the two tramps, whereas tragic and desperate tones express Beckett’s assumption: man’s increased knowledge has only made him aware of the uselessness of his learning, since the forces that regulate the universe cannot be understood. Beckett’s pessimism is intensified by his perception of the meaninglessness and dreariness of human life and by his notion of time as a series of senseless events.
- The language of the play is informal, but it does not serve the purpose of communication: dialogue is only sketched and the characters are unable to provide each other with any information. Another device used to show the lack of communication is the use of para-verbal language, such as pauses, silences and gaps. Repeated phrases, lines and words, plus the fact that the second act largely repeats the first, are used to signify the senseless repetition and relentless flow of time inherent in human existence.
- Time is meaningless as a direct result of chance, which is at the basis of human existence.
- Without fail
- hang ourselves
- Off we go
- The boy wants to speak to Vladimir.
- He has come because he has a message from Mr Godot: he will not come that evening.
- He hopes that Mr Godot will come the following day
- He is sleeping.
- They decide not to go anywhere and to hang themselves.
- No, they do not manage to commit suicide.
- They do not have any rope, and Estragon’s belt is too short and not strong enough, therefore they are not able to hang themselves.
- No, there is not. The end is open
- It is full of repetitions. Examples: ‘Mr Godot’ (lines 8, 20, 28, 33), ‘sir’ (lines 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33), ‘shall we go’ (lines 44, 90, 97), ‘if we dropped him’ (line 56), ‘trousers’ (lines 73, 91, 93, 94). It is composed of ready-made phrases. Examples: lines 38-43, 63-73. Lots of silences and pauses are interspersed with the characters’ utterances. Examples: ‘Silence’ and ‘Pause’ in the stage directions, the use of ellipses in lines 1, 18, 30, 34. Each character has experienced a universe and is not interested in communicating it to the other. Examples: lines 82-89.
- They create expectation, but they also underline the idea of repetitiveness linked to human experience.
- They mostly refer to the actors’ movements and the absence of real communication.
- Yes, they do, for example in the last line of the extract. ‘Silence’ and ‘Pause’ are repeated several times; they isolate words and remind us how communication is meaningless and impossible in such a world.
Vladimir is inquisitive, hopeful and the more practical of the two; he never dreams. Estragon is anxious and suicidal and often forgets about the past.
- There is a mixture of interdependence and affection.
- They can ease their negative human condition by living together. (This is evident in their use of childish names, ‘Didi’ and ‘Gogo’.)
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, the classic couple of 1930s cinema.
The language is simple, informal and essential.
Nothing can be done by contemporary man but waiting. Beckett’s aim was to make the audience share the waiting of the two tramps and understand the quality of their inaction.
Suggestion: Students should develop the following notes:
- Wilde’s theatre Plot: Social climbing. Setting: London high society. Characters: Static, flat, stereotypes. Message: To satirise and entertain. Dialogue: Satirical, witty, brilliant. Stage directions: Limited.
- Shaw’s theatre Plot: Social themes like class distinction and education. Setting: London and surroundings at the end of the 19th century. Characters: Realistic, mouthpieces of the playwright’s ideas. Message: To express a satire of social conventions, to improve society. Dialogue: Use of verbal wit and comic, ironic tones. Stage directions: Very long, detailed.
- Beckett’s theatre Plot: No real story or plot, nothing happens. Setting: Bare, symbolic. Characters: Outsiders, tramps. Message: To express the lack of communication. Dialogue: Repetitive, meaningless. Stage directions: Short, essential, repetitive, frequent.
Suggestion: Students should develop the following notes:
- the social revolution and the changing values in Britain in the Fifties and Sixties;
- the certainties and basic assumptions of the previous age swept away by the two World Wars;
- the decline of religious belief; • the mistrust in rationalism as a means to explain reality; *the disillusionment with social ideals, brought about by totalitarianism; • the materialism and consumerism of contemporary society;
- a general mood of frustration, alienation and futility
7.18 John Osborne
- Born: He was born in a London suburb in 1929 into a lower-middle-class family
- Education: He was educated in London and at a boarding school in Devonshire. Once back in London, he developed a passion for acting and for writing plays.
- Known for: Look Back in Anger (1956), which turned Osborne into one of the spokesmen of the so-called ‘Angry Young Men’.
- Themes of his masterpiece: Rebellion against traditional mores; the anger of the post-war generation at all middle-class values and social injustices.
- Works: The Entertainer (1957), produced in London; Luther (1961), a historical play in which the central figure is seen as a true rebel; Inadmissible Evidence (1964), which resumes Osborne’s attack on contemporary values; West of Suez (1971), a depiction of Britain’s past imperial glories; Déjàvu (1992), with the same characters as Look Back in Anger; and the autobiography A Better Class of Person (1981). Cause of death: Complications from diabetes.
- Did you know? Osborne won an Academy Award for his screenplay Tom Jones based on the 18th-century novel by Henry Fielding.
Look Back in Anger
- by running
- fantasy world
- The setting is a shabby, gloomy attic flat in the Midlands in the 1950s.
- Jimmy Porter is the main character; he is the representative of the frustrated British youth of the 1950s. He is an embittered and disillusioned university graduate.
- He is angry at his wife’s not being angry, at a society which leaves no room for young people. He is an outsider in rebellion against the whole establishment, which he sees personified in his wife and her family; he is the embodiment of the protester without a clear, definite cause to fight for. However, he continually searches for one, with courage, honesty and sincerity, but also with morbid self-pity and hysterical excesses.
- He is an anti-hero because he only speaks but never acts.
- Jimmy’s wife, Alison, stands for the upper middle class. She is far more complex than she would appear on the surface: she is Jimmy’s victim, but she is so by her own choice, and she is the stronger of the two, since she has had the courage to leave her family and to bear her husband’s rudeness. The other female character, Helena, is from the upper class. She is honest and straightforward and she believes in the traditional distinction between right and wrong. Cliff, Jimmy’s friend, is a working-class uneducated man; he is a pleasant person, who shows none of the neurotic behaviour displayed by Jimmy.
- The main theme is a critique of establishment values.
- The plot of the play can be said to be circular because in the last act the objective reality is just the same as it was at the beginning. In fact, the three acts start and finish in the same place and at the same time, and the characters do the same actions in the first and the third acts.
- It is conventional and echoes the eternal triangle theme.
- The language is the most innovative element of the play: it is spontaneous and vital, crude and violent, no longer influenced by middleclass conventional diction, provocative and revolutionary. Jimmy’s vulgar slang expressions and colloquialisms could be understood by everybody, thus the play was addressed to a wider public, which had been ignored only a few years before.
T120 Jimmy’s anger
- shut up
- I’ll pull your ears off
- Identify the two parts of this scene and write a heading to each section.
- Part 1(lines 1-57) Jimmy’s anger.
- Part 2(lines 58-87) ‘Posh’ papers.
- Read the first part again. Then answer the following questions
- His disgust with the snobbish tone of the Sunday papers.
- He denounces such papers noting how even discussing the English novel, they can make an article unintelligible to most people by writing three columns half in French (lines 4-5).
- It reveals a social barrier between the upper class and the common people.
- He criticises Cliff’s ignorance and compares him to a peasant (line 7).
- Jimmy tries to draw his wife into the conversation (lines 7-8, 10).
- No, she is not (lines 9, 16).
- A sort of animosity between them begins immediately, since the further Alison withdraws, the more Jimmy demands a response (lines 11, 14-18, 20-21, 27-28).
- Yes, Cliff tries to stop the argument but he does not succeed in destroying Jimmy’s anger against his wife (lines 31-34).
- He expresses his hunger (line 37).
- He calls Jimmy a ‘bloody pig’ (line 39).
- He pretends to report Jimmy’s brave behaviour during the war (lines 41-46).
- He asks him to make some more tea (lines 50, 52, 56).
- As you read the second part of the scene again, note down:
- Jimmy and Cliff get on reading papers and Alison continues ironing.
- They exchange two ‘posh’ papers (lines 65-67).
- He suggests that she has a break and relax, and he tries to console her by putting out his hand to Alison and kissing her hand (lines 70-71, 73).
- The reference made by Cliff is to the manufacture of the H-bomb (lines 79-80).
- B Jimmy’s anger.
- Concentrate on the main character, Jimmy Porter. Read his remarks once again and use different colours to underline words and phrases indicating:
- remarks on Alison; Lines 7-8, 12, 14-15, 17-18, 20-21, 27-28, 35, 58-60.
- outbursts against Cliff; Lines 7, 23, 25, 30, 47, 49-50, 52, 58, 77.
- criticism of the world he himself belongs to. Lines 1-2, 4-5, 84-87.
- A Her lack of response and affection towards him.
- C The lack of response he sees around him.
- Consider what has emerged from the previous tasks and define Jimmy’s personality.
- Choose from the following adjectives and provide reasons for your choices in the table below. Student’s activity. Suggestion: Students should choose the following adjectives: angry, impatient, unpleasant, restless, domineering, irritating, frustrated, pessimistic, violent, revengeful and committed. At the end of the activity students should be asked to compare their results with the other classmates.
- Jimmy Porter is the prototype of the ‘angry young man’. Can you say what he is angry about? He is angry at everyone and everything, at his wife’s not being angry and at her lack of interest.
- No, their characterisation is only sketchily drawn, since they have little independent life at all. Their reactions show their resignation at Jimmy’s anger.
- They underline Jimmy’s anger.
- Colloquial. Plain. Immediate.
- Some examples: ‘ignorant’ (lines 5, 7, 25); ‘peasant’ (lines 7, 8), ‘think’ (lines 15, 33, 34, 35).
- What are the functions of these repetitions?
- A To make particular points.
- C To reproduce the constant repetition and patterns of common speech.
- The most relevant expressions can be found in lines 17, 30, 35, 50, 52, 60, 62. They set a ferocious and angry tone.
- The theme of isolation and frustration. Jimmy is, in fact, a visionary looking forward to some unknown ideal; what shatters him is the tension of his present situation, since he is forced to seek out and establish relationships in a society which does not understand them.
Suggestion: Students should develop the following notes. Look Back in Anger reflected:
- the social revolution and changing values in Britain in the 1950s;
- the destruction of the certainties and basic assumptions of the previous age, which were swept away by the two World Wars;
- the decline of religious belief;
- the mistrust in rationalism as a means to explain reality;
- the disillusionment with socialist ideals, brought about by totalitarianism;
- the materialism and consumerism of contemporary society;
- a general mood of frustration.
Suggestion: Students should develop the following notes:
- Plot: Continuous, logical, true-to-life. Setting: Realistic, related to the working class. Themes: Open criticism of establishment values. Stage directions: Detailed, informative and clear. Language: Everyday, raw, simple, clear.
- Plot: No real story or plot. Setting: Symbolic, bare, vague. Themes: The meaninglessness of human experience. Stage directions: Short, essential, repetitive, frequent. Language: Everyday, meaningless.
Some examples are the Beat Generation, the Teddy boys, the punks, the Sex Pistols, the protest songs of folk singers like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, The Rolling Stones and rap artists.
7.19 Jack Kerouac
- Beat movement
- wild excitement
- The ‘-nik’ suffix was borrowed from ‘Sputnik’, the first artificial earth satellite that had just been launched by the Soviet Union, striking fear into the hearts of many communist-fearing Americans over what they perceived as Soviet technological superiority. The term ‘Beatnik’ was created by a journalist of the San Francisco Chronicle in 1958.
- Beatniks lived in dirty apartments, rejecting conformity. They often hitch-hiked across the country along Route 66. They acted on impulse, did whatever they felt like doing, explored nudity, sexuality, and pushed their senses to the limits of understanding; they used hallucinogenic drugs and alcohol to expand their world. They wore their hair long, grew beards, and considered worn-out jeans, old T-shirts and sandals their standard uniform.
- They advocated escapism.
- Both Kerouac and Ginsberg used the so-called ‘hip talk’, which was vital, alive, authentic and individual, as opposed to conventional language, which was too dull, conservative, boring and inadequate for expressing their new intense experience of reality.
- The word ‘beat’ was a slang term used by post-war jazz musicians to mean ‘down and out’, or poor and exhausted. Kerouac claimed that the word meant both exhausted, at the bottom of the world, rejected by society, and also beatitude or beatific.
- The Beats reacted against traditional middle-class puritanical values, materialism and organised religion.
On the Road
- The journey, which is a symbol of the escape from the city and from one’s own past.
- Sal Paradise, who stands for Kerouac himself.
- Dean Moriarty, who stands for Kerouac’s friend Neal Cassady. Sal idolises him for his cowboy style, his ease with women and his exuberant joy in living.
- Kerouac’s style is ‘spontaneous’ and episodic. According to him, writing meant expressing whatever came into one’s mind: a thought, an idea, a scene or an episode, set down as the mind recalls it. The unsophisticated language used in this novel - ‘hip talk’ - has been identified with the language of jazz musicians in so far as it is based on spontaneity and on mostly monosyllabic words.
T121 We moved!
- Part 1 (lines 1-17) The beginning of the journey.
- Part 2 (lines 18-24) Driving towards New Orleans.
- Pink words: the narrator, Sal Green words: the characters involved
- Highlighted in light blue: Dean’s actions and exuberant behaviour
- Highlighted in grey: the journey and the actions related to it
- Green dots: the description of the journey and the final destination
- Highlighted in yellow: the group’s feelings and sensations at the beginning of their experience *Underlined in blue: the theme of friendship Highlighted in pink: the importance of music Highlighted in green: the road
- They share restlessness and craziness.
- A collective euphoria.
- They are leaving ‘confusion and nonsense’ behind them to perform their only ‘noble function’: moving
- The road is ‘pure’ and straightforward as nothing else is in the boys’ life.
- The car is more than an object; it is like a person and shares the adventurous life of these young people.
- The most important features of Kerouac’s style are: juxtaposition of short and long sentences (lines 1-5), exclamations (lines 2, 5, 7), repetitions (‘Here we go’, lines 2, 13), the use of slang and colloquial terms (lines 2, 7, 10), the use of monosyllabic words and place names.
Suggestion: Students should point out that On the Road became a cult book of the 1960s because its protagonists embodied the youth rebellion and the search for freedom of the Beat Generation. They influenced the style of some newspapers and novels; moreover, they contributed to giving a voice to the uneasiness of the young, which led to the students’ riots and rebellions of 1968
7.20 Don DeLillo
- the Bronx
- experimental art
- the media
- television executive
- film project
- The novel’s title comes both from the photograph of an unidentified man who fell from the Twin Towers on September 11th after the terrorist attacks and from the fictional performance artist known as ‘the falling man’, who appears in the novel around the city in the weeks after 9/11, dressed like a businessman, leaping from high places only to be caught by a safety harness and suspended, mid-air, in the posture of someone falling from the World Trade Center.
- Keith feels terribly disoriented, he is covered in blood and walks towards the flat of his estranged wife, Lianne, and their son, Justin. Later he looks for the owner of the briefcase that had been passed from hand to hand and come to Keith in the chaos of the darkened staircase of the North Tower.
- He does not present them as villains; instead, he gives us a taste of the power of 9/11 from the other side.
- The novel does not have a linear plot. The form is circular, moving the readers around and around a central point and then ending up where they started. Language is fragmented and vision is distorted.
- Keith likes living alone, he only socialises when he practises sports or plays poker with friends, and he is rather unemotional. He lives mainly through his intellect and he likes analysing other people’s psychology. Unlike Keith, Lianne is very emotional and constantly worries about what is around her.
- The psychological damage that the characters have suffered beyond the mourning. Other subjects, such as religion, terrorism, death and the meaning of life, are dealt with but never resolved.
- It is not political but existential. The attack unhooks everyone from any appearance of normality that would allow them to relate to each other and the world.
T122 Down the tower
- The extract describes the moments immediately after the terrorist attack on one of the towers. The people who worked in the tower and had not been killed in the impact were trying to make their way down the stairs to reach the ground floor.
- The people involved in the scene are: Keith; a woman who carried a small tricycle tight to her chest; thousands of people; the man falling sideways; Rumsey; an old man on the landing ahead; someone praying back in the line somewhere, in Spanish; a man in a hard hat (he was not going down but coming up, so he was probably one of the rescue team); firemen coming up; a woman; men with towelled heads; a woman blinded by debris; a woman calling someone’s name; a woman with her hand in the air, like running to catch a bus; two men running by with a stretcher; someone facedown; and a man falling from the tower.
There was/were’ (lines 3, 9, 31, 33, 40, 43, 47, 62, 76), ‘This goes down’ (lines 49, 50, 56, 57, 59), ‘Pass it down’ (lines 51, 55).
The setting: Inside the tower: The paper was moved around the offices by a wind coming from above, there was a fallen wall and it was almost dark. There was water running down the stairs and it was very hot. The tower swayed and leant. The shops in the tower were closed and locked. Outside the tower: From the street the two towers could be seen burning and they started to fall, the South Tower diving into the smoke. The windblast sent people to the ground. A thunderhead of smoke and ash came moving toward them. The light drained dead away, bright day gone. In the ash there were ruins of what was various and human, hovering in the air above. There was a line of fire trucks and they stood empty with their headlights flashing. Everything was falling away, street signs, people, things Keith could not name. The contrast: The scene is built upon the contrast ‘down/up’. The things and the people inside the tower go down, while the firemen go up.
The story is told from Keith’s point of view.
- Keith’s perceptions: ‘the pain in his face seemed to shrink his head. He thought his eyes and mouth were sinking into his skin’ (lines 11-12); ‘Things came back to him in hazy visions, like half an eye staring’ (line 13); ‘He smelled something dismal and understood it was him’ (line 17); ‘for an instant he saw it again, going past the window, and this time he thought it was Rumsey. He confused it with Rumsey’ (lines 24-25); ‘It did not seem forever to him, the passage down. He had no sense of pace or rate’ (line 39); ‘He could not find himself in the things he saw and heard’ (lines 80-81); ‘Then he saw a shirt come down out of the sky. He walked and saw it fall’ (line 85).
- Keith’s actions: ‘He climbed out over a fallen wall and made his way slowly toward the voices’ (line 4); ‘He walked in a long sleep, one step and then the next’ (lines 7-8); ‘He stood looking into nothing’ (line 15); ‘he walked on his own, in his sleep’ (lines 23-24); ‘he looked straight ahead’ (line 27); ‘he took a step down and then another’ (line 28); ‘he closed his eyes, maybe because it meant he didn’t have to reply’ (lines 29-30); ‘moved past’ (line 37); ‘He stopped again’ (line 52); ‘he stood looking straight ahead’ (line 59); ‘he reached his right hand across his body to take it [the briefcase]’ (line 60); ‘started down the stairs again’ (line 61); ‘He took one step and then the next, smoke blowing over him. He felt rubble underfoot’ (lines 75-76); ‘He walked by the Easy Park sign, the Breakfast Special and Three Suits Cheap’ (lines 76-77); ‘He went past a line of fire trucks’ (line 80).
- Keith’s mood: He seems to be in a state of numbness. He moves taking one step after the other as if he were sleeping. However, his senses are alert to the sounds, the smells and the sights. It is his conscience which is stunned.
The woman with the tricycle appears twice; one may wonder why she was holding a tricycle in her arms, it might have been a present for her child. The smoke, the dust and ashes recur in the passage as a symbol of death and destruction. The line of people going down symbolises the desperate attempt to find a way out of hell. The briefcase which passed from hand to hand until it reached the ground floor symbolises people taking care of others and reinforces the idea of the descent in the repetition of ‘This goes down’. The falling man is the symbolical image that closes the book and gives it its title.
The tone is deprived of emotion. The description proceeds by accumulation, with the use of words such as ‘thousands’, ‘crowded’, ‘people’, ‘several’ and ‘things’ that underline the mass effort and the number of people who got trapped and killed in the towers. The last part of the extract is more dynamic, almost frantic compared to the first part, which is very slow in its description of an almost interminable descent. The reader does not share Keith’s impression of a quick descent because the description makes it clear that going down was hard and long. Students should discuss the emotional impact of the extract on the reader
7.21 Salman Rushdie
- Place and year of birth: Bombay (now Mumbai), 1947.
- Education: He attended an English mission school in Bombay. In 1961 he was sent to school in England, first at Rugby School and then at King’s College, Cambridge.
- Work experience: He worked for a while as an actor and eventually got a part-time job in advertising.
- Early works: Midnight’s Children (1981), Shame (1983) and The Satanic Verses (1988).
- Later works: The volume of essays Imaginary Homelands (1991), the collection of short stories East, West (1994), the novels The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995), Fury (2001), Shalimar the Clown (2005), Luka and the Fire of Life (2010) and Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (2015).
- the meaning of the title; It refers to the children that were born at midnight on 15thAugust 1947, exactly when India gained its independence from British rule.
- Saleem’s origins; He is the illegitimate son of a poor woman, Vanita, and an Englishman, William Methwold, who is switched at birth with the baby of two wealthy Muslims - Ahmed Sinai and Amina -, so he will be raised by the well-to-do couple.
- They both expect a child, go into labour at midnight and Their destinies cross when a midwife at the nursing home, Mary Pereira, switches the nametags of the two newborn babies, giving the poor baby a life of privilege and the rich baby a life of poverty.
- Telepathy and an incredible sense of smell with which he can detect emotions.
- He moves from India to Pakistan; during the war between the two countries, he gets hit in the head and temporarily loses his memory; then he has other adventures in Pakistan and Bangladesh as well, before going back to India again and being sterilised.
- Saleem prophesies that he will die on a specific day, disintegrating into millions of specks of dust.
- It is set in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, beginning with India’s struggle for independence and ending with Indira Gandhi’s sterilisation campaign, also including some Pakistani events.
- He sees himself as a metaphor for the Indian nation.
- They are a metaphor of the destruction of potential in a new, independent India, of hope and opportunities betrayed.
- The central idea of the book is not just that public life affects private life, but that people can blend into each other ‘like flavours when you cook’, as Saleem says at one point. So, thanks to the act of writing, any historical event or person may flow into people’s lives and thoughts.
- He uses first-person narration, flashbacks, foreshadowing and digressions, a prevalently ironical and comic tone, realistic techniques such as detailed references and visual language, and verbal versions of cinematic techniques such as ‘close-up’ and ‘zooming’.
- Because magic realism is what allows him to explore the themes of displacement and the confusion between fact and myth in the Third World; it is also a way through which his own multi-cultural identity - a mixture of Indian, Pakistani and British - can find expression.
T123 15th August 1947
- The ‘dark glowing’ director of the nursing home. An expert gynaecologist, he dislikes babies and gives lectures on contraception and birth control. He assists Amina personally.
- Vanita’s husband.
- Vanita A poor woman who dies immediately after giving birth to the protagonist/narrator, Saleem.
- I The narrator, Saleem. As a newborn child, he will be switched with a rich baby.
- Amina Sinai A rich woman who is in labour in the same hospital as Vanita and is having a nightmare.
- Ahmed Sinai Amina’s husband.
- Flory A midwife, a ‘thin kind lady of no importance’. She helps Dr Narlikar with Amina’s labour and delivery.
- Dr Bose A gynaecologist assisting Vanita.
- Miss Mary Pereira The midwife who assists Vanita by Dr Bose’s side. She does her private revolutionary act by switching the nametags of the two newborn babies.
- Jawaharlal Nehru A ‘wiry serious’ politician making a speech in Delhi.
- Vanita has been in labour for eight hours.
- Amina is pressing her womb and has just awoken from a nightmare.
- The two women are still in labour
- The two babies are about to be born and the crowd in the street is celebrating.
- The two babies were born and ‘India awakens to life and freedom’.
- The birth of the children and the birth of India as an independent nation
- Identify the kind of narrator. The passage is narrated in the first person by one of the midnight’s children, that is, by Vanita’s real son, Saleem.
- Mark the passages where the narrator uses present tenses and those where he resorts to past tenses. Present tenses: lines 1-8, 21-81, 104-106; past tenses: lines 9-20, 82-103.
- What is the effect of such a shift? The present tense coincides with the narration of the birth and gives the event a realistic, impressive, almost haunting quality; the past tense is used for the digressions and reflections the narrator makes later on.
- Do you think the narrator’s tone changes when he moves from the narration of the event to his own considerations about it? Humour and irony are used in the narration of the event; the digressions are bitter and show disappointment.
Verbal irony: Amina’s words when she sees the baby (lines 101-103). Situational irony: the exchange of babies (lines 85-91) and also lines 98-99.
- They increase suspense.
- They show a pause in time.
- They mark a turn in the narrative from the private to the public sphere.
- They indicate the missing parts in a speech.
By juxtaposing private experiences with public events, Rushdie gives the reader an insight into a fundamental moment in India’s history. Here are the events mentioned in the extract: M.A. Jinnah announced the midnight birth of a Muslim nation; a nation which had never previously existed was about to win its freedom; it invented the game of chess; it traded with Middle Kingdom Egypt; the mass bloodletting in progress on the frontiers of the divided Punjab; the violence in Bengal; the long pacifying walk of Mahatma Gandhi; Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech at the Assembly Hall.
- Saffron: walls, Vanita’s eyes, minutes, rockets, the men’s shirts, carpet, lamps’ light, the monster’s blood, fired fuel;
- white: Vanita’s eyes;
- green: woodwork, Vanita’s skin, seconds, sparkling rain, the women’s saris, carpet, skirts, lamps’ light, the monster’s blood, flames of blistering paint. What is the effect of such a use of colour? A unifying, but also hallucinatory, distorting effect.
The monster with saffron and green blood (lines 56-58). It reinforces its dreamlike and magic quality
- subject; Indian history.
- technique; Mixture of reality and fantasy.
- perspective; He expresses his own multicultural identity.
- aim. To let historical events or people flow into people’s lives and thoughts.
Across Cultures: Magic realism
Students will probably discuss how writers, artists and philosophers have a more sensitive awareness of the themes and anxieties of their time and continually search for means of expressing their concerns in their works. The fantastic and unreal give a stunning and visionary means of showing reality in a clearer light.
Suggestion: Magic realism refers to a literary or artistic genre in which imaginary and fantastic, and often disturbing images or events are depicted in a realistic and naturalistic manner
- The first theorisation of the narrative techniques and themes of magic realism was given by the Italian writer Massimo Bontempelli in the first half of the 20th century from the pages of his review 900(1926-29). He promoted a kind of narrative that would underline the gap between real facts and their literary representation and which should include something ‘magic’.
- Evidence of a taste for the irrational was to be found in Italy in the second half of the 19th century in the experimentation of the Scapigliatura (1860-70) and in some spiritualistic instances which can be detected in works such as Antonio Fogazzaro’s Malombra (1881). This literary genre included several authors who were active in the first decades of the 20th century and also after World War II, such as Alberto Savinio, Dino Buzzati and Tommaso Landolfi.
- In European literature, the forerunners of magic realism were Franz Kafka and H.P. Lovecraft, even though their magic takes on the characteristics of nightmares rather than restlessness and ambiguity.
- A sense of mystery and hallucination was achieved by means of distorted perspective, dramatic lighting and the use of dummies and statues instead of human figures.
- Which authors have conveyed the paradox of history in their writing? What techniques have they used? Remarkable authors, like Italian Italo Calvino, English Angela Carter, Bruce Chatwin, Ian McEwan and Graham Swift, Irish Seamus Deane and Anglo-Indian Salman Rushdie, have conveyed the paradox of history effectively in their works. These writers have used various techniques: they have juxtaposed local historical events with world events; they have asked their readers to doubt and be suspicious of any stories that claim to be absolute; they have adopted the device of stories within a story challenging the reader to accept the author’s account; or they resort to narrators who play an active role in the text constantly reminding the reader of their presence.
- Art (Italy):
- Literature (Italy):
- Literature (USA):
- Literature (South America):
7.22 Nadine Gordimer
- Born: in 1923 in Springs, in the area near Johannesburg, South Africa
- Education: first in a convent school, later at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg
- Collections of short stories: Face to Face (1949) and The Soft Voice of the Serpent (1953) What her first novel showed: the author’s controlled, unsentimental technique, the constant tension between personal isolation and social commitment, and the refusal of exile
- Political stance: strong opposition to apartheid
- Awards: the Booker Prize, and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991
- Death: in Johannesburg in 2014
Analysis of the contradictions of a multiracial country; the novelist’s difficulties in a society where 80% of the population is cut off from normal cultural influences by the colour bar; the connection between the changes in the life, experience and thoughts of the writer and the political and social transformations of South Africa
- Gordimer deals with race and class problems, the arbitrariness of bureaucracy and the link between the private and the political. She analyses these problems at a global level, since in the second part of the novel the setting of the story shifts from liberal post-apartheid Johannesburg to an unnamed Arab country. Therefore the interracial love between the two protagonists widens its scope from the racial opposition ‘black and white’ to the cultural one between ‘East and West’.
- The heroine, Julie Summers, has grown up in the affluent suburbs of Johannesburg. However, she rejects her upper-class roots and moves to a formerly black part of the town where she rents a small cottage, drives a second-hand car and works for a rock ’n’ roll agency. Her life revolves around the EL-AY Café, a local café where she meets a multiracial and liberal group of friends. When Julie’s car breaks down, she meets Abdu, a Muslim immigrant who is in the country illegally.
- Traditional gender roles are clearly questioned in the relationship between Julie and Abdu; for example, it is Julie who ‘picks up’ Abdu. However, each adapts to but neither dominates the other.
- The Pickup is characterised by structural parallels, chiasmic inversions as well as binary oppositions. The novel is divided into two almost symmetrical parts through the use of two very different settings, and it revolves around two distinctive characters, each of whom seems to represent a somewhat split personality him/herself.
- Racial, social, sexual, cultural and psychological
T124 Back home
- Part 1 (lines 1-35) Julie and Abdu arrive at the airport.
- Part 2 (lines 36-109) Abdu’s family and home.
- Highlighted in yellow: Julie’s self-awareness and first reaction in her new country; for the first time in her life she realised what home must be like, she was caught up in the emotion of the warm welcome by Abdu’s family
- Highlighted in green: the male members of the family were waiting for Julie and Abdu at the airport: they embraced them and the father made a speech of welcome; he did not look like Ibrahim. Some wore casual Western clothes, others wore the traditional long white tunics. They took them to the house in their cars
- Highlighted in light blue: Abdu’s reactions and point of view; inside his house he sees things differently from Julie
- Pink words: details of the family’s house
- Blue works: the behaviour of the people in the house
- Highlighted in pink: Abdu’s mother: she was the centre of the house, she must have been beautiful but had had a hard life, her son took after her and she was not actually interested in Julie - even if she addressed her with a formal speech - but in her son
- Gordimer uses a third-person narrator with shifting points of view (Julie’s and Ibrahim’s).
- The use of dashes, which convey the flow of the narrator’s thoughts, and the absence of inverted commas and introductory sentences for direct speech.
- Julie stands for the Western woman and the references in the text are in the first and in the last paragraphs, where she is given a name and surname and her independence and determination are underlined. Ibrahim’s mother and sisters stand for the Eastern, Muslim women on whom society imposes behavioural rules. However, Ibrahim’s mother is the core of the family. The references in the text are in lines 46-59, 62-64 and 103-107.
- Julie is fascinated by her husband’s family and for the first time she feels part of a family. Ibrahim wishes he could escape from them, although he wants to take his mother away from that reality one day
Topic 7: Living art
Students will hopefully enrich the discussion with other examples and the expected conclusion will be that there is a place for both public art in open squares and parks as well as protected art in museums. Art masterpieces in private collections may also give rise to discussions about art being for all and not for a limited few.
Museum peace: Japan’s Naoshima island
- When people talk about Japanese cool, they normally refer to modern Japanese technology like hi-tech, car television or automatic toilets. As regards art they probably think of anime or manga.
- The island of Naoshima has been turned into an ‘art island’ because it has been transformed by the presence of art museums and modern constructions.
- According to the article, in spite of being ultra-modern, the buildings on the island also have the same qualities as traditional Japanese art because they are simple and intense.
- The writer says that the structures around the island are extremely modern and up to date, even futuristic with every possible innovation, but at the same time the calm atmosphere created on the island is like a traditional shine so that there is a feeling of being far ahead in the future while also being deeply in the past. This creates the confusion of when exactly the writer is in time.
- Benesse House, which is a hotel and art museum, was designed by the minimalist Tadao Ando and although it is totally modern, it creates the same atmosphere as the traditional Japanese inns.
- The details which fascinate the writer are that each room is different, that the corridors are full of modern paintings and sculptures, and the light effects created.
- Tadao Ando created the Benesse House as a hotel and art museum as well as the Chichu Museum a short walk away. He also designed a further art museum in a field to display the works of a Korean artist.
- The unique quality of the Chichu Museum is due to the fact that it has just a few major artworks displayed in huge spaces with particular lighting giving it an almost dreamlike atmosphere of purity and spirituality.
- The works of Lee Ufan are displayed in a new museum constructed by Tadao Ando as a tall, grey, windowless building in a field. One of the works is placed out of doors in front of an earthcoloured stone with a light shining on it.
- The entire text is full of the writer’s sensations of surprise, interest and inspiration from the island. He repeatedly emphasises the qualities of simplicity and tranquillity given by the buildings, the artworks and the way these are displayed.
Hymn for the Weekend: COLDPLAY
The singer talks of his girlfriend as an angel who adds life and brightness to his world, who lifts him up when he is down and gives him ‘drink’ (meaning life) when he is thirsty
Words used for feeling depressed are ‘down’, ‘hurt’, ‘dried up’, ‘thirsty’, ‘heavy’ and ‘low’, whereas words for happiness are ‘shoot across the sky’, ‘Symphony’, ‘high’, ‘light up’, ‘lift me up’, ‘miles up’, ‘drunk and high’ and ‘make the stars come out’.
Nature plays an important role in the song and is often mentioned: the sky, water (‘Life is a drink’), the river and flood and rain, and the life force running through the blood. The stars are also mentioned as being lit up by the singer’s girlfriend, who has the power to brighten the sky and his life.
- ‘you make my world light up’ This means that the girlfriend has a positive effect on the singer’s mood and brightens up his whole life.
- ‘Life is a drink’ Water is an essential part of life and in this song the girlfriend is the person who ‘gives life’ to the singer.
The singer is clearly inspired by the light and life force he gets from his girlfriend who is like a gift from heaven, an angel who lightens up his world and gives him the essential water needed to live and grow. He talks of thirst and being dried up, and she provides drink and happiness so that he feels like flying high in the sky. The song is pervaded with the idea of lightness and flying from sheer joy.
Recycling art in a desert landscape
ESAME DI STATO: SECONDA PROVA
- There is a complete mixture of people involved in the art project including art students, students about to graduate in history and history teachers, nomads, young people who have run away from home, hackers and those who had in some way felt the need to get away and do something different.
- They work with their hands, scraping and painting, mixing the paint and also using brushes and sandblasters.
- His aim is not to join them in their project but to see what is happening there and to see Klara Sax.
- He is told where to go by one of the students; he drives along following a row of reflectors until he finds some lights and cars beside a concrete building, which is the operation centre. He finds Klara there sitting in a director’s chair.
- Klara is described as sitting in a commanding position, with a cane beside her and one leg propped up on a bucket, smoking a black cigarette. She seems to be completely relaxed and in control.
- The project, as Klara explains, is to paint ex-military planes. First of all they have to scrape and sandblast the old paint off to get rid of all the military connotations and then they paint them in beautiful colours.
- They have cooperation from the military to a certain extent and also some grants of money and special congressional permission for what they are doing
- The name that was following Klara around is ‘the Bag Lady’, which is an unpleasant label meaning someone who lives out of bags, in other words someone who is dressed in second-hand clothes and takes little care of their appearance.
- She has chosen this context because the desert landscape is an important part of the artwork. In fact she says it is central to the piece and gives her artwork a particular frame.
- From reading the whole text the impression is of both an art project and a peace project. It is certainly an art project because it involves creating artwork out of the unlikely source of military planes, but it is also a peace project because it is transforming machines used for warfare into items of beauty and peace.
- social security
- housing estates
- affluent society
- sexual mores
- race riots
- remain in office
- urban professionals
- rights of free movement
- national turnout
- consumer goods
- non-violent resistance
- weapons of mass destruction
- military expense
The Labour Party won the general election in 1945. The new government, led by Prime Minister Clement Attlee, is remembered for the creation of the Welfare State in 1946-48. In 1946 the new National Health Service was established by law as universal and free. The New Towns Act (1946) and the Town and Country Planning Act (1947) led to slum clearance, the building of large housing estates and the creation of green areas; council houses were built for the families with low incomes. The National Insurance Act (1946) established a system of social security including unemployment and sickness benefits, retirement pensions, child allowances and even funeral grants. Nationalisation was extended to hospitals, gas, electricity, steel, coal mines, railways and the Bank of England. This process of nationalisation meant that the government bought all the shares of the companies in these fields in exchange for government bonds.
- Picture 1(from left to right): Elizabeth II succeeded her father George VI, who had died in 1952. The coronation ceremony, which took place in 1953, was broadcast live on television and watched by around 20 million people.
- Picture 2: During the 1950s most families bought cars, installed telephones, washing machines and refrigerators, and began to buy their own homes. Television was the broadcasting revolution of the post-war years. The early television programmes were, in accordance with the BBC’s general aims, a mixture of information, education and entertainment. Then, in 1955, a commercial television network started to broadcast its shows which were paid for through advertising.
- Picture 3: Indian independence was passed by Westminster in 1947 and led to the partition of the country into India and Pakistan, a separate Muslim country in the north-western part. The photograph shows the architect of India’s independence, Mahatma Gandhi, talking to his successor, Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1946.
- Picture 4: British scientists developed the hydrogen bomb through a series of tests in 1957. Anti-nuclear protesters joined in a Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1958 with a march from London to the atomic research plant at Aldermaston. In 1961 the pacifists, led by the aged philosopher Bertrand Russell, ‘occupied’ Trafalgar Square.
There was a new openness to attitudes from the Continent and the United States; the generation that grew up in the 1960s was more different from the generation of its parents than in any previous century; many reforms marked a retreat from the social controls imposed in the Victorian Age in favour of ‘permissiveness’; England became a world leader in musical fashion with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the new subcultures; the Telstar satellite made world television news possible; the contraceptive pill appeared and it became possible to get an abortion on the NHS; capital punishment for murder was suspended and comprehensive schools replaced most grammar schools; homosexuality was decriminalised.
It was the period between 1978 and 1979 that was characterised by strikes and new social problems such as the first urban race riots, a new generation strongly influenced by drugs, juvenile violence, and the new dangers of pollution created by prosperity and consumerism. Factories, discharging waste material, polluted rivers and the sea and oil tankers were responsible for the appearance of ugly oil slicks on beaches; chemical fertilisers and insecticides upset the balance of nature in the countryside; noise from aircraft and traffic made life unbearable at times.
After WWII, new factors had strengthened the power of Protestants in Northern Ireland and made a united Ireland less possible. The introduction of the Welfare State had become a powerful reason for keeping the union with Britain, since Northern Ireland was guaranteed higher living standards than the Republic of Ireland, and Catholics were kept out of responsible positions. In the late 1960s the Catholics organised a civil rights movement demanding equality. Tensions between the Protestant Unionists and the Catholic Republicans led to rioting between the communities. In 1969 British Prime Minister Harold Wilson was forced to send the army to keep order in Belfast and Londonderry, where bloody riots had taken place. To counter the threat of terrorism, in 1971 the government approved internment, that is, imprisonment without trial. In the following year, in Londonderry, British paratroops shot dead 13 unarmed civil rights protesters at a march against internment during what was called Bloody Sunday. In 1974 car bombs began to be used in both parts of Ireland, and the IRA planted bombs in Britain to kill innocent civilians. A long war of attrition followed, which was characterised by attacks, negotiations and truces. In 1976 a group of IRA prisoners in the Maze prison in Belfast claimed special status as they said they had committed their crimes for political reasons. In 1985 Britain and Ireland made a formal agreement to involve the Dublin government in the affairs of Northern Ireland. However, violence continued and was experienced both in Britain and in Ireland. IRA targets included Lord Mountbatten - uncle of Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, Prince Philip -, who was murdered in 1979. Finally, in December 1993, British Prime Minister John Major and his Irish counterpart, Albert Reynolds, signed a historic declaration affirming the right of selfdetermination for the people of Northern Ireland. It was only on 31st August 1994 that Sinn Féin, the IRA’s political wing, announced a ceasefire. A further development in the peace process came with the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.
Emphasis on private enterprise, rise of ambitious urban professionals; increase in material wealth but also emergence of an underclass of poor people with low-paid jobs or no jobs, a poor home or no home; privatisation to lower government spending; Britain’s increased international standing.
- Tony Blair won the elections in 1997: reformed the Labour Party (New Labour); increased money on the NHS and education; partial decentralisation of the UK; progressive attitudes on women and minorities Æ Terrorism:
- supported the USA after 9/11
- there were attacks in London in 2005 Æ Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition: • won the election in 2010 with David Cameron as Prime Minister
- had to face the financial crisis and the increasing Euroscepticism Æ Brexit:
- 2016 was marked by the Brexit referendum, which resulted in a vote to leave the EU by almost 52% on a national turnout of 72%
- following Cameron’s resignation in June 2016, Theresa May became the Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party
In 1945 the UN was created, which replaced the League of Nations. In the 1950s, as regards foreign policy, the USA devised a programme for economic aid to European countries called the Marshall Plan, and signed an agreement of mutual defence with Western Europe known as NATO. Fear of Communism, seen as a threat both to the freedom of the individual and the capitalist economic system, swept across the USA. Senator Joseph McCarthy started a public ‘witch hunt’, carrying out investigations on all kinds of people to find out if they worked for the Soviet Union or had socialist sympathies. By the mid-1950s his influence declined sharply and he was finally censured by the Senate. In 1961 John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the Democratic candidate, won the elections. He was the first Catholic and the youngest President ever elected. He was aware that the nation was facing social problems such as poverty in the crowded city slums and racial discrimination. In foreign policy there were a few moments of tension with the building of the Berlin Wall (1961) and the Cuban missile crisis (1962), which ended with the withdrawal of Russian missiles from the island. Moreover, America’s involvement in Vietnam became militarised. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 put an end to the social hopes his election had awakened. Protest was in the air on university campuses and among minorities. The involvement in the Vietnam War led to the development of the greatest anti-war movement the nation had ever experienced; President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger worked to put an end to the conflict and finally, in 1973, the last American soldiers left Vietnam. The Camp David Agreements between Egypt and Israel, which prepared the ground for a possible settlement of the Middle East question, were President Jimmy Carter’s greatest achievement. When Ronald Reagan became President, millions of dollars were invested on developing powerful missiles and on space research. This created employment and businessmen made big profits. The Republican George H.W. Bush led the USA in its involvement in the Persian Gulf crisis in 1990 after Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein invaded and annexed Kuwait. Under Bill Clinton’s presidency an achievement in foreign affairs was marked by the peace agreement signed between Yasser Arafat’s PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) and Yitzhak Rabin of Israel at the White House in 1993. In 2001 the USA was struck by the September 11th attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York and on the Pentagon in Virginia. The buildings were hit by American passenger planes hijacked by Al-Qaeda terrorists. President George W. Bush ordered an attack on Afghanistan and, in 2003, he declared war against Iraq. November 2008 marked a unique moment in American history: the Democrat Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th US President. He was the first ever black American to hold the office. He was re-elected in 2012. On 8th November 2012 the Republican Donald Trump was elected as the 45th President of the USA.
- The Movement: Themes: They reacted against some trends in British poetry which had characterised the first half of the century: the cosmopolitan intellectualism of T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, the political commitment of the poets of the Thirties, and Dylan Thomas’s excessive romanticism and obscure symbolism. They also showed a tendency towards cultural provincialism and British insularity. Style: Simple, clear, concrete language, conventional metres and traditional forms. Aim: To create rational and comprehensible poetry about contemporary everyday life.
- The Group: Themes: The real contemporary problems: WWII, the concentration camps, genocide and the threat of nuclear war. Style: Cruel, violent poetry, which revealed anger. Aim: To express a note of radical protest against the Movement poets.
- Poetry of the underground: Themes: It was associated with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and anti-Vietnam War protests. Style: Poetry as performance associated with rock music, festivals and happenings. Aim: To make poetry popular among ordinary people, and especially the young.
- The Liverpool poets: Themes: A mixture of personal feelings and innocent protest against the establishment. Style: Simple, direct, immediate language; influenced by pop music. Aim: To write for the young. The Martians: Themes: Familiar earthly sights. Style: They expressed familiar concepts in unfamiliar ways. Aim: To look at reality through the distorting filter of a lens, as if they were Martians visiting Earth
No principal school; individualism and pluralism; main trends: neorealism (social protest, conflict-ridden society), anti-realism (world of fantasy, comment on reality through allegories and mythology), magic realism (mixture of the realistic with the unexpected and the inexplicable), dystopian novel (negative view of the human condition), feminist literature (large-scale social and intellectual problems).
The Theatre of the Absurd expresses a sense of metaphysical anguish and rootlessness, lack of purpose and inaction. It does not argue about the absurdity of the human condition, but simply presents its concrete situations on the stage. What happens on the stage transcends, and often contradicts, the words spoken by the characters; pauses, silences, miming and farcical situations are also common. The plays have no real story or plot to speak of and seem to be the reflection of dreams and nightmares; time and place are vague, there are seldom recognisable characters and dialogue often consists of incoherent babbling. The plays of the Theatre of Anger are written in a conventional form, with a realistic set and a continuous, logical, easy-to-follow plot. Their novelty is the outspokenness of their language, their open criticism of establishment values. The articulate, thoughtful working-class anti-hero of John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, the rebel Jimmy Porter, is the spokesman of a frustrated generation, anxious to speak the raw language of real people.
- American literature after WWII: It is generally characterised by a renewed interest in the exploration of the self, by subjective analysis and by a variety of experiments in style.
- Beat Generation: Rebellion and bohemian living; refusal to conform to traditional middleclass puritanical values; rejection of materialism and organised religion; search for alternative ways to find spiritual understanding, like Eastern religions, with their emphasis on meditation and communion with nature, and mind-altering drugs.
- The novels from the 1950s to the 1980s: In 1951 Jerome David Salinger published The Catcher in the Rye, a tragi-comic fictional autobiography of an adolescent who tries to maintain his innocence in the hypocritical corrupted world of the grown-ups. He adopted a conversational style and very effective language able to represent the rebellion of the American teenagers. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road returned to the myth of the journey. Kerouac used an episodic structure and a spontaneous style. The anti-hero, victim and rebel at the same time, is the protagonist of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, a milestone in black literature, as well as a unique portrait of American society in the 1950s. The novels of the 1960s and 1970s were mainly characterised by experimentation. Rejecting realism, writers questioned the values of society, history and the literary form. They used double meanings, grotesque, surrealist techniques, and also drew from science fiction. The fashionable trend in American fiction since the Eighties has been ‘minimalism’. Minimalist writers use a neat, clear, dry style accumulating trivial minimal elements to convey disturbing meaning. Their themes are the crisis of the family, drugs, homosexuality and AIDS. Afro-American fiction has become a rich and powerful source of literature. Some notable writers are Richard Wright, James Baldwin and Alex Haley. The successful novels of AfroAmerican women writers such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison combine feminist, ethnic and psychological issues, and underline the power of the literary voices of women and minorities. *Contemporary drama: It developed some distinctive qualities of its own, such as the use of American regional speech, the close interplay between stage and film techniques, and the production of musicals. Though the centre of American theatre was Broadway, a certain new vitality came from experimentation with language and staging techniques by OffBroadway theatres. In the 1960s, Off-Broadway theatres were commercialised; this is why new experimental theatres were founded, which became known as Off-Off-Broadway. The authors who worked within this new movement dealt with social contradictions, the crisis of values and political issues like the Vietnam War.
Recently the scope, audience and significance of English-language literature have been enlarged by the contributions of countries such as South Africa and Nigeria, the West Indies, Australia and Canada, which used to be part of the British Empire. These writers use English as a lingua franca. At times they find themselves torn between their two cultures and judge their native countries both as insiders and as Westerners. Each writer tries to make a specific adjustment to this conflict, shaping it by personal and national circumstances, and by his/her creativity.