Personal Response to Orwell’s essays

George Orwell was a renowned writer who wrote many essays in his life which would become very popular in the literature world. The essays we have read were The Spike, A Hanging, Shooting an Elephant, Such, Such Were the Joys, How the Poor Die, and Marrakech. At first, when reading these essays, I quickly got bored and didn’t take much interest in them, but I later realized how good they were. The stories were interesting to read with his personal experiences and the detail put in the writing.

My favourite part of Orwell’s writing technique was detailed in the plot and each character, and the language use to carry out the tone of the essay. For example, in How the Poor Die, the words associated with “Death” like “Died”, “Dying”, and “Dead” carried a dark tone with imagery that’s sad and depressing, it shows a place that nobody wants to go to.

My favourite essay by Orwell was Marrakech. This essay is about the poor living conditions in Marrakech and the Jewish society living there. It gives a vivid description of the poor, and harsh living conditions which portray the poverty, discrimination, and death in the city. In the first paragraph, Orwell opens with the flies being attracted to the corpse being walked through the city in rags, then buried in a random spot.

“As the corpse went past the flies left the restaurant table in a cloud and rushed after it, but they came back a few minutes later”

It gives the reader that sense of pity for the people who are forced to live in poverty their entire lives. Orwell was very good at setting the tone through the first paragraph of the essay. He later goes on to describe the scene where he is in good detail.

“Many of the streets are a good deal less than six feet wide, the houses are completely windowless, and sore-eyed children cluster everywhere in unbelievable numbers, like clouds of flies. Down the centre of the street there is generally running a little river of urine.”

“In the bazaar huge families of Jews, all dressed in the long black robe and little black skull-cap, are working in dark fly-infested booths that look like caves”

Again, it gives that sense of guilt and pity to the readers that keeps them engaged which makes a good story. It also gives a good sense of reality and what people have to live and go through each day to get by which this essay clearly shows. 


Personal Response to The Colour Purple

Why is the title The Colour Purple?


The book The Colour Purple by Alice Walker is a book about love, hate, joy, and pain, and suffering. Celie’s (The protagonist) life throughout the story seems to be nothing but tragedy. The book also expresses beauty and love, like with Celie and Shug, and Harpo and Sofia’s relationship. Yet it seems to me that everything ends in tragedy, pain, and nothing seems to last forever. The title of this book seems to express beauty and love with the colour purple being a rare and vibrant colour that symbolizes these things.  


It is said that God created all colours and gave them their significances in nature with green, blue, and yellow being the most common, and purple is one of the rarest colours, and it one of the most beautiful colours in nature and to be admired. The colour purple can tie in to love with being rare and beautiful and it is said that God will get mad if you walk past purple in a field “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it” (pg. 195). Since purple is rare in nature, God will get mad since he made it all. Purple is also referred to as beautiful in the book “She like a queen to me so I say to Kate, Somethin purple, maybe little red in it too.” (pg. 20). She refers purple to as being beautiful and a colour that makes someone look good.        


Why is the title called The Colour Purple? I believe it is titled that because no matter how bad the situation is, there will always be those beautiful moments that we need to cherish forever and admire so we can look back at those moments and adapt to the low moments that’ll come in life and move past it.

Personal Response to The Awakening

The book The Awakening by Kate Chopin to me was an interesting story to read. When first reading this story, I thought it was going to be another one of those boring “love story’s” but after finishing the story it got me intrigued and asking many questions which left me in confusion trying to answer them.
One of the biggest questions that came to mind is “Was it necessary for Edna to kill herself?” This all started when Edna fell in love with Robert while still being married to Léonce and she couldn’t control herself. This love with Robert, being married to Léonce, and having an affair with Arobin was slowly killing her and giving her that bad reputation. Then once Robert came back from Mexico and visited Nora, she had to leave due to Adèle in labor. Once Edna returned home Robert had left leaving a note saying “I love you. Good-by—because I love you” (pg. 133) then the next day Edna took a train to her summer home, went into the ocean, and drowned herself.
Answering this question can be tough since there are two sides to it. One side is she was being selfish and a child with her kids will not be able to grow up with a mother around. But looking at it from another viewpoint, you notice she was only trying to protect her reputation for her kids when they grow up. You first see this when Adèle whispers to Edna after labor “Think of the children, Edna. Oh think of the children! Remember them!” (pg. 131) and before Edna drowns, she thought of Léonce and the children being part of her life which both refer to her thinking of her kid and how she’d want them to think of her.
Another big question that is raised by this book is about society. “Does society have unwritten rules or standards we need to follow?” Everyone has said to have a free choice of will and not to be afraid to do anything. Yet society can be very judgemental of things we do in our lives so people must do/not do certain things to stay normal and not to be looked at differently. This comes up in the book when Edna is having an affair and being in love with Robert. When Edna drowns, this brings up the question that if Edna stayed alive, would she have broken that unwritten rule and be frowned upon by society for being with different men? The pressure of society has been the cause for many deaths since everyone must not break those “unwritten rules” to live a normal life and to be accepted as a human.
The last big question from this book is “Was it worth it for Robert to leave?” there are many different perspectives on why Robert left Edna with the note “I love you. Good-by—because I love you” (pg. 133) some have said he left because he didn’t want to be with Edna. I believe he left to try and save Edna from herself and stay loyal to her husband. When he said in the letter “Good-by—because I love you” (pg. 133) It sounds like he only wanted the best for her and she could save herself.

Personal Response: A Doll’s House

“A Doll’s House” by Henrik Ibsen is about love, hate, and trust. With love, you have Dr. Rank secretly loving Nora and finally confessing it later in the play, (Act II, pg. 150-155), Krogstad who loved Kristine years ago, and Nora’s and Torvald’s (Questionable) love. With hate, you have again Nora and Torvald at the end of the story, and Nora plus Torvald hating Krogstad throughout the play for the things he has done. But the big factor that comes into this play is trust. Putting trust in someone you strongly dislike is a dangerous game, like Nora and Krogstad had to do when Krogstad was blackmailing her and she had to promise she would get his job back (Act I, pg. 130-136). Then you have Nora and Torvald’s dilemma. Nora is keeping all these little promises and lying to Torvald throughout the play, and that break of trust at the end of the play when Torvald finds out what happened (Act III, pg. 177-188).

My thoughts on the play are quite mixed. It was a good read but got very boring at times. I felt that there was too much talking between characters and a lot of useless dialogue that did not need to be added. Then the characters weren’t developed enough. They felt so simple and nothing interesting about them and didn’t feel likable. One thing I didn’t understand is Nora forging the contract. Wouldn’t she have done a better job of putting the date of the signature? And why did she even admit to forging it? Everything would’ve been better off if she just left it as it was. For the setting, I didn’t understand the layout. They made it sound very confusing and did not know if it was a house or an apartment complex.
The one big thing I liked about this play was the plot. I felt they did a good job on building it and the diversity it had, like the writer mixing the dark and light sides of the story. I was quite confused about the language of the play. Even though it was set in the mid 19th century, it left like it wasn’t set back then.

One character I thought had the most build-up/developed was Krogstad. For me, he was considered the “villain” for a majority of the play, but once you consider that he just wanted to keep his job so he can feed and take care of his kids, you might have second thoughts if he was the villain, or if he just desperate and went into territory he didn’t want to step in. The one character that didn’t get enough attention in my opinion was Kristine. She played an important role in the play because if it wasn’t for her, Krogstad would not have gone and not have helped Nora from Torvald. My least favourite character was Torvald. Overall did not like him as a character. He was very diverse with emotion toward Nora and a few other characters. For example: When he found out about the forgery that Nora committed, he wanted to kill her, but once it was cleared up at that exact moment, he looked like nothing had happened and he loved her again (Act III, pg. 177-188).

Overall, it was quite a confusing read, but for the most part, I enjoyed reading it and was wondering what would happen next. A few of the characters could have had better development, and the setting could have been more straight-forward, but still an intriguing play.

Personal Response to The Merchant of Venice

William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice is a play about both love and hate. On the side of love, you see Bassanio and Portia falling in love in marriage, and on the other side you see the hatred shown from Christians towards Jews, and a strong hatred between the Christian Antonio and Shylock the Jew showed in court after Antonio failed to pay off a bond owed to Shylock. On both sides, you have an overall happy ending. Yet coming to that conclusion there were signs of mercy shown from Shylock and shown by Bassanio. But what is Mercy?

Mercy in the true definition is “showing compassion/forgiveness toward someone within the power to punish or harm.” Mercy is also kindness and a sign of selflessness. Yet mercy can be in many ways. In the play during the court scene, it was first offered to Shylock towards Antonio from Portia and the Duke but refused. Then Shylock showed that mercy by not taking a pound of flesh from Antonio, even though they both showed no mercy to each other, Shylock was forced to show mercy, unless he were to die, then agreed to terms so he would be spared (Act IV, scene I, pp. 81-82, lines: 376-395). Then further on in the play, it was shown. Again by Bassanio asking for mercy from Portia after he took off his ring, he’d promise he wouldn’t take off (Act V, scene I, pp. 96, lines: 240-244).

The act and asking for mercy is significant in this play and is throughout the story. It was first shown by Lancelot asking for forgiveness from his father after toying with him when he is blind (Act II, scene II, pp. 21-25). But one significant subject that came up with mercy is Portia’s “Quality of Mercy” speech during the court session (Act V, scene I, pp. 73, lines: 183-204). In her speech, Portia is trying to convince Shylock to be merciful like God is towards us. She also makes the connection of mercy with the Christian idea of salvation.

The idea of mercy is brought up in this play and many of Shakespeare’s plays. It was also heavily used back in the day. We tend to ignore how important it is in a play as it can bring a play together and makes it so that the story stays interesting and dramatic.

Letter to Langston Hughes

Dear Mr. Hughes,

I have now read many of your poems and I enjoyed reading them. They are great poems with a strong message behind racism, and black history in the United States. I also liked how some poems were also composed as the “language” of jazz/blues bars which really expresses its diversity.

The main message your poems express is black people in America with slavery and dealing with the racism in modern society. One of my favourite poems that you made was I, Too. It talks about being a slave for a white family. In the poem you wrote:

“I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When the company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well
And grow strong.

I’ll eat at the table
When the company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“eat in the kitchen,”
Then.” (I, Too II. 2-14)

It talks about being a slave and the owners having company over and how they won’t let him be in the kitchen and really see how ‘beautiful’ he is. Reading this poem really hit me differently. It really expressed what life was like back then with a slave and what they went through.

Another poem I would like to bring up is Life is Fine. I also did enjoy this poem a lot but was also quite confused reading it. One big question this brings up for me is ‘is it realistic?’ I ask this because he goes from a hard break up and wanting to kill himself, then immediately turns around to be fine. I never understood this because a breakup most likely takes a long time and rarely turns around that quickly. It quotes here:

“I stood there and I hollered!
Stood there and I cried!
If it hadn’t a-been so high
I might’ve jumped and died.

But it was
High up there!
It was high!

So since I’m still here livin’,
I guess I will live on.
I could’ve dies for love-
But for livin’ I was born.” (Life is fine, II. 16-26)

In this quotation, it talks about him about to jump off a building, but since it was to high up, he turns out fine and isn’t hurting anymore.

All of your poems that I have read have carried out a strong message and should be viewed by everyone to see what black people in the early 20th century went through and see the pain they went through, and show value and appreciation towards the black community and also show sympathy for what white people did to them.

Reflection on Paradise and Death

Paradise and Death by Eric Macknight talks about Odysseus’ journey after the 10 year Trojan war. It but it really talks about the brutal journey Odysseus had to go through suffering through all the pain and trying to find happiness while at the same time, facing the gods and losing all his men.

I learned how much pain Odysseus had to really go through especially after seeing his mother in the underworld. I also registered how many tragic events he had to go through. He was responsible for the death of his crewmates, and him discovering his mother died from missing Odysseus. You can tell the impact it made on him.

From the text, I learned that expressing emotion can catch the reader’s eye, and to be more descriptive and getting deeper into text, but not getting sidetracked and losing the topic. Another thing I learned that ties into the last part are to be more clearer with writing and make sure the text makes sense in your head.

English 11: Antigone- Who is the protagonist of the play?

This play had many characters who have could’ve been the main character. There was Antigone, Creon, and even Chorus, but I believe the protagonist was Creon. Even though the play was named after Antigone, Creon had more screen time and was left with the bigger decisions throughout most of the play. Though Antigone did the “heroic” act, Creon suffered the most during the timeline of the play by losing his wife, Antigone, and others close to him. Finally, the play was mostly centred around him and his perspective.