Overall I did not exactly like reading the selected Orwell essays but completing the assignment was doable. Some of the essays were more enjoyable than others like How the Poor Die. Orwell seemed more invested in this part of his life and the writing reflected it. These essays were a chance to understand what the world was like for people back when Orwell was alive. I learned more about writing techniques like similes and metaphors, as well as expanding my vocabulary.
Reading these excerpts allowed me to see how different tones could be constructed using different vocabulary. An example that caught my eye was in Such such were the joys “a wretched drivelling little creature”. This is an example of a more harsh tone and diction. It improved my vocabulary as well as I did not know what drivelling meant at first.
When doing the DRJs I found that I was analyzing the excerpts more deeply and understanding how Orwell was conveying a certain tone, like in the example above, rather than just how the writing was making me feel.
Although this was a step in the right direction Mr. MacKnight found ways to make me think deeper in his feedback. He asked questions about my observations that would help to further analyze the text. He also pointed out parts that I missed in my DRJs and asked how those made me feel. This made me think deeper about the essay extracts, and from different perspectives.
Why Orwell Endures by Geoffrey Wheatcroft raises an interesting point about why Orwell suffered. Although I had to read through the essay multiple times due to confusion, one parts still made sense to me. The writer states that Orwell was never great at anything but good at many things. This allowed him to be known and stay relevant throughout his writing career. For the most part, reading this essay was unsatisfying as the writer never seemed to make a point. He kept going without hitting the nail on the head, and continued to talk about the history surrounding Orwell’s life. This made it hard for me to take in what the writer was trying to say as I had trouble following along.
This year in English I learned to set up my quotes better. I also learned how to write assertions, topic sentences, and how to think globally. I will remember Mr. MacKnight ignoring Ben’s jokes the most as I do not remember much from the pieces of literature that we read. I Found that I understood the books and plays that we also watched as movies much better than the boring books that we only read.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin is one of my least favourite pieces of literature that we have studied this year. I had trouble reading it and kept getting lost and having to reread passages. The actual plot of the book is not the boring part. It is the English that was spoken and how it was spoken, and how there is too much narration and description rather than dialogue and conversation.
Kate Chopin does a great job of representing a whole group of people in the character Edna. This also made the story more interesting as it added a plot. In the 1800s women were not leaders of their families and basically took a “motherly” role and took care of the children. Edna, after realizing that she was in love with someone else started to find out who she really was. This made the book more fun to read as she was always breaking societal rules, such as infidelity.
Mr. Pontellier was thought to be the perfect husband by almost every character in the book. I never really liked his character. He, like Torvald from A Dolls House and Mr. Higgins from Pygmalion is ignorant. He tries to do all these nice things like buying her gifts, but he doesn’t really know what she wants out of him. He does not treat her as his wife, he treats her as his property. There are faults to both Mr. Pontellier and Edna that could easily be fixed with a simple conversation.
I do not think Edna has the right to cheat on her husband, especially with two different people. I understand that divorce was not really an option in this time, but she could have tried to tell him how she was feeling.
We can tell that Edna was never really free being married to Mr. Pontellier. “I am no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. I give myself where I choose” (p. 128). Robert brings her joy which never seems to happen when she is with Mr. Pontellier. “The sentiment which she entertained for Robert in no way resembled that which she felt for her husband, or had ever felt, or ever expected to feel” (p. 55). She should be telling Mr. Pontellier how she feels because her life to me begins to feel wasted. She knows that Robert makes her feel happier. Even the description about her moving to a different house brought her more freedom which shows how she was trapped with Mr. Pontellier and wanted to escape.
In conclusion I did not really like this novel but Kate Chopin does a good job making the reader make judgments on the characters and what they could have done in different situations.
Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw is one of my more favourite pieces of literature that we have read so far. It was written in the early twentieth century and can be much more easily comprehended than the ancient Greek plays like Odysseus or Antigone. I am more used to the grammar and words used. Watching the play also helped with this as I could see the visual of what the author might be trying to portray.
At the beginning of the play, George Bernard Shaw did a great job of characterizing Eliza as an annoying egocentric flower girl. When reading the first scene, whenever I read Eliza’s line I could almost hear an annoying squeaky voice in my head. She is always creating a big fuss and always wanting the centre of attention. This is especially prevalent in beginning of act 1 when she is freaking out because she is told that a man is taking notes on how she is talking and acting. “I ain’t done nothin wrong by speaking to the gentleman. I’ve a right to sell flowers if I keep off the kerb… I’m a respectable girl…” She kept on whining and screaming and I just wanted her to stop. Watching the play was even worse for this. The voice of the actress and how she was depicting Eliza is exactly how I imagined it to be. She was extremely annoying and always seemed to have to get a word in. Mr. Higgins seems to agree with me on this as he constantly wants her to stop talking and calls her funny names like “a squashed cabbage leaf”. On page 32 Mr. Higgins is fed up with her and says something quite rude but I thought that it was humorous at the same time. “Oh shut up, shut up. Do I look like a policeman?” (p. 5), “A woman who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere – no right to live… and don’t sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon.” This second quotation shows how Mr. Higgins is not the gentleman that he seems to think that he is. He is a rude person. When watching this part of the play I was fed up with how annoying Eliza was acting and I was happy when Mr. Higgins said that line.
This play is based off the Greek myth where Pygmalion creates Galatea, his ideal woman. This is similar to what Mr. Higgins did to Eliza Doolittle. He wanted to turn this flower girl who was not even classified as a “lady” because of her accent and how she acted, into a lady. Throughout the play he changed her whole personality into what he thought was the perfect lady. He ignores that Eliza is a person and is is prioritizing his own ego being one of the best linguists in the United Kingdom. This reminded me of the last book we read A Doll’s House where Torvald was also prioritizing his ego. Both pieces of literature show the stereotype about male egoism.
In conclusion Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw is one of my more favourite pieces of literature because it conveys a strong message while still being entertaining to watch and read.
A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen talks about ignorant men with huge egos and how they think that they have full power over women. In this story Torvald acts as if he owns his wife Nora. When reading this I was disgusted. Every time that he called her names like “my little songbird”, or “my little spending-bird” I grew a stronger hatred for him. He never realized that she might not like. It is as if she is just his pet and that he has full control over her. I found it amusing how although he thought that he had full control over Nora when in reality Nora can be smart and sneaky and she actually has a lot of control over herself. She sneaks macaroons into the house and eats them, which is against Torvald’s rules for her. She also forged her late father’s signature which is for one, illegal, but secondly was to borrow money to save Torvald. Borrowing money is against Torvald’s ‘rules’. This made me as the reader more of a fan of Nora than of Torvald because she is sneaky. Usually this would make me less of a fan of her but since her husband is so controlling I am on her side. He treats her like a doll, hence the name A Doll’s House, and I despise him for that.
I do not like how Torvald kept Nora and her life how he wanted it to be. He believed that he was the leader and had control over her. He was not letting her be who she wanted to be. At the end of the story I was relieved when she finally told him that she wanted to leave him. She had lived most of her life with him, as a child, than as an adult.
I like how this play shows what seems to be a happy married couple which turns into a play about gender bias and emancipation during the 1800s. It is nice that Nora frees herself from Torvald’s grasp at the end of the play.
The merchant of Venice by Shakespeare shows how unfairly Christian people treated Jewish people. Many of the scenes led to me siding with Shylock as he is treated unfairly. Does shylock deserve justice? Did Antonio have mercy? Shylock was one of the characters that I grew emotionally attached to. The scenes that really locked this feeling in for me were his big speech to Salarino and Solanio, and the court scene.
In Shylock’s famous speech “to bait fish withal”, in Act III scene I he talks about how he has lost everything. His daughter has run away, taken thousands of ducats and jewels with her, and Antonio has lost the money that Shylock had lent to him. All Shylock wants is justice and Salarino and Solanio are begging for him to have mercy. They do not see why he would want to cut a pound of flesh off Antonio as punishment for not paying back the money he was lent. This speech has years of mistreatment in it making it more powerful. It seems as if Shylock has always been upset about how unfairly he is treated just because he is a Jew and the fact that he just wants revenge for one thing, he is a bad person. The long speech really shows emotion and gives off the feeling that Shylock is fed up with the world and how he is treated. If all the things said in the speech are true, then I believe Shylock deserves justice. Today, one cannot have this unethical punishment and I believe that it is horrible to kill someone; so obviously I do not think that he should be allowed to kill someone. I do though believe that he deserves justice.
I was constantly confused while reading and did not catch many details of the play. This was because of the big difference of words and grammar from the 1500s until now. While watching the court scene (Act IV scene I) in a film version of the play I understood what was said and what had happened and was in shock. My jaw dropped as I saw how unfair and slimy the Christian characters present made the situation.
During this scene mercy was also mentioned many times and I began to question how accurately it was being used. When Antonio said that Shylock must give up his religion and give him half of his wealth, I immediately felt hatred towards Antonio. Portia even started saying how Antonio was showing mercy which to me was wrong and unfair. I was appalled at how she could get away with that. It is so unfair how the system was back then and how unfairly the Jewish were treated.
This collection of Langston Hughes poems, although I cannot empathize with the people being described, still convey a whole world of meaning. From metaphors to comparisons, the poems are meaningful to me.
Langston Hughes writes about oppression and racism against African American people in the twentieth century. Even though I cannot empathize with these people I still know how horrible racism is and feel terrible for them. One poem in particular “ruby brown” has a heartbreaking metaphor which explains how the character in the poem “Ruby Brown” has no fuel to power the flame of joy in her heart. Literary devices like these are what help made Langston Hughes’ poems so powerful to me when I read them.
Langston Hughes is passionate about what he writes about. His poems are always about the dreams, racial injustice, and most importantly black pride. Many, if not all, African American people have dreams, and social injustice is not letting them achieve these dreams. One of the poems is even an excerpt from a book of poems called “montage of a dream deferred”. This means a dream which is being/has been postponed. When reading the poems I noticed these factors and I felt terrible for these people. They helped me really realize how horrible racism was. I had never really had it described in this way before.
One thing that I do not like about this collection of poetry, or Langston Hughes’ poetry in general is that it is written in free verse. There is no specific rhyme scheme so the poems just sound like him talking and describing things. I wish he would have written with a few more rhymes to make the poem have more of a melody. This would have given me more enjoyment when reading more of the poems.
One more thing that I like about this group of poems is that it is written from different perspectives. I did not know some of the situations that black Americans have been in and these poems helped paint the pictures in my head. Some are written from the perspective and lives of mothers and women. Some are written from the perspective of a man. These poems helped me understand both points of view.
Langston Hughes’ poems, which are are mostly about discrimination, are intertwined with optimism which shows that these people do indeed have dreams to chase and things they enjoy. This gives the poems a happier feel so I was in a better mood while reading them. At the end of one poem in particular, “deferred” from “Montage of a Dream Deferred”, the stanzas become one line each and each stanza is a sentence saying what someone wants. This is a smart addition to the poem as it shows the diversity of of African American people. They all have different wants and needs. One of them even says “I’d like to take up Bach” which was not exactly the norm for African Americans at the time. I knew that African Americans during slave times had these wants and dreams but I had never really thought hard about how they were being deferred until I read this poem, and other poems in the collection.
I usually do not like reading poetry but Langston Hughes shows a lot of passion in his writing, and included details that make the poems more worthwhile and interesting to me.
I enjoyed reading Candide more than the other books that I have read this year. It was easier to read than the Odyssey and easier to read than Oedipus as well. This is because all my life I have been reading literature that was not written in ancient times. I like how Voltaire made the story full of action and how he put the Odyssey’s worth of content into one hundred pages. Voltaire made the story seem extremely unrealistic which makes it humorous. Candide is constantly being ripped off and is constantly having bad things happen to him. Still he believes that his sufferings are the best of all possible worlds. He is quite optimistic which causes the reader to like his character even more.
It was easier to read than the Ancient Greek books because the tone was more casual. When talking to someone the characters in Candide did not address them before saying a word to them like in the Odyssey or in Oedipus. there also did not seem to be as many commas and colons in Candide which also made it easier to follow. the sentences were more clear. That could also be since I am used to reading more recent literature so I am used to the mood and diction of Candide.
The quotation said by Candide in the last chapter “we must cultivate our garden” never really jumped out at me but I can see how it did to many people. I did not see it as a significant quotation when reading it but after thinking about it in English class today I understand the meaning Voltaire was trying to convey.
I enjoyed reading books 8-12 of the Odyssey more than the rest of the poem. It was full of action and was a detailed explanation of what happened in Odysseus’ experiences. I also enjoyed reading the last few books because there was a build up of tension until finally Odysseus became king once again. it is interesting how Athena seems to be toying with the suitors and people in the story for her entertainment. I could tell that Odysseus was never going to be that hurt or that he was going to die. In some many stories there are sad endings where a main character dies but I could tell that this was not the case for the Odyssey.
The parts that I enjoyed the least about the Odyssey were the build ups like at the beginning of the poem. The parts where nothing was really happening and where Odysseus had not been introduced yet were boring to read. There was no action in these parts.
The parts that surprised me about the Odyssey were that everyone except for the suitors were nice to beggars and homeless people. These days people usually avoid people like this. The Odyssey tells us a lot about Ancient Greek life and how people were excepting of each other and always kind and generous.
At a horrible time the young lion figured out for sure, that this deserted country taken over by drought, was his homeland; and that his lion father, death by hunger, and also lioness mother wife of his father, had starved and rotten; and that brother Peter, brother James, sister Hannah, sister Cleopatra, and Leo, baby children of the names said before, also passed and rotten by hunger; and the grey dry climate beyond the miserable mood, woven with measly trees and rocks and hills, with delicate giraffes eating from them, was the riverbeds; and that thin line of rocks in the horizon, was our water source; and that the depleted reservoir afar from which the breeze was rustling, was his birthplace; and that the small lump in his heart began to grow from grief and a tear slid down the face, of the young lion.
A cheerful lake, all in dark blue, with a sheet of ice on its head. A lake with no boats, and no broken smiles, and a hockey net tied around the posts. A lake which had been melted all summer, and splashed around by children, and paddled in with paddleboards, swam in by fish, fished in by man, and drunken from by elk, and ripped apart by boats. Who rippled, and swelled, splashed, and roared; and whose water had been polluted throughout the year as the ice split in the middle swallowing a man.
Loyalty to the state vs. loyalty to family best describes the play Antigone.
First off, one can not fully understand the pain and experience that led to Antigone had to go through for her to illegally want to conduct a burial ceremony for her brother Polynices. Before taking sides, we must see both perspectives.
Creon is loyal to the state. He is loyal to Thebes. Antigone is loyal to her family. She is also somewhat loyal to Thebes but the loyalty to her family wins the race by a landslide.
The reason that Creon wanted Polynices body to rot on the earth without a proper burial for him is because Creon has so much pride in Thebes. “These laws— I was not about to break them out of fear of some man’s wounded pride” (Page 82 lines 509-510). This quotation talks about how Creon’s pride in Thebes has been damaged by Antigone’s actions. Even though Polynices had somewhat of a reason to attack the city, Creon ignored that and called him a traitor; and let his body rot on the surface of the earth.
Antigone shows her family pride, and family loyalty by conducting the burial, even with a death penalty if she was caught. I respect her actions but would not do it myself. I would be in despair if I was in the situation but would not conduct the ceremony if there was a death penalty for doing so.
In conclusion, loyalty to the state vs. loyalty to family is the best representation of the play because it is an argument between Antigone, being loyal to her family and Creon, being loyal to Thebes.
While reading the story of this play, I mostly enjoyed the later parts. This is because there was more action and was just more enjoyable to read in general. The majority of the reasons for this was that it was the climax of the story, the form of the paragraphs, and the lack of the “chorus”. Many things were going on. Oedipus was finding out that Polybus was not his father, and he was having a conversation with the messenger and his wife/mother Jocasta. These conversation were from page 216-232.
Character-wise, the only really main character was Oedipus. Throughout the story he was arrogant and a little bit naive as well. In the middle of the story he kept ignoring what everyone else was saying about how Polybus might not be his actual father and that he might have been the killer of Laius. He was brushing off what seemed to be obvious clues and hints. An example of this is on page 184.
Tiresais: ‘…Revealed at last, brother and father both to the children he embrace, to his mother son and husband both– he sowed the loins his father sowed, he spilled his father’s blood!'”
Ever since Oedipus solved a riddle to save the town he ruled, Thebes, he thinks that he is amazing at solving riddles. The irony that happens during this quote is funny because Oedipus thinks nothing of this.
This story is based in Greece. I would not want to live in this time because there is a lot of killing without guilt. Everybody kills as revenge.
The diction in this play is not formal nor super casual. It is more in the middle. The words are quite simple and easy to understand but the way that they are organized makes them sound more formal.