What help does ‘The Help’ film give us to help us understand ‘The Help’ novel?

It is important to note that the 2011 film version of “The Help” is but an interpretation of the novel. It is not ‘the film of the book’, it is ‘a film interpretation of the book’. Films can use a multitude of different devices to present the story that a novel can’t, such as voiceovers, camera angles and the physical look of the settings and characters in full (in the book we obviously get description, but not the same form of atmosphere). 

I felt the contrast between the Bridge Club members and the Help were very well defined in the film. By way of appearance the Help wore very basic uniforms in dull pastel colours and had their hair in buns, whereas the Bridge Club members had very exuberant brightly coloured (almost neon) outfits, with ridiculously over-sized hair. Skeeter however wears much more basic clothing, and her hair is not as well kept. This almost immediately displays that she does not share the same bigoted attitudes as the other members, such as Hilly. When you read the book you do not ‘hear’ the accents of the snobbish Bridge Club, however the use of punctuation and slang in the book means you read the dialogue of the Help in their ‘accent’. Thus in the film we notice the slow southern drawl of the Bridge Club more, which is almost sweet and sickly, contrasting harshly with the comments that they make. There is also a contrast in their clothes as they are so fashionable and modern, yet their views are archaic.

The settings were also physically viewed in the film which also helped contrast between the black and white members of society. We can see that the posh Bridge Club members had large country houses (described in the book too, but having a physical appearance helps the contrast) whereas the Help lived either in large cramped apartment blocks (which only had a sweeping shot, but showed the poor conditions) or small ramshackle buildings. Aibileen’s house is very dark with dull colours, and both the exterior and interior look worn down. The kitchen is a heavily shown place to contrast. Aibileen’s kitchen was very small and could hardly fit a few people in, whereas Miss Leefolt’s kitchen was almost too big considering her small family. Gadgets were shown in the houses, such as mixers and hoovers; this isn’t heavily shown in the book, it was only briefly mentioned. The Help were originally employed to perform labour intensive tasks, like brushing floors etc, now there’s hoovers and other gadgets there are no longer many labour intensive jobs. This shows how the Help were really only there as glorified babysitters, as their only major task was looking after the children.

There are only a few flaws in the film. The film is a very humourous interpretation of the novel, and thus that reduces the serious impact of the novel, as it seems only a ‘feel good’ film. Also the atmosphere of the film is cheery, the colours are sometimes brighter than they should be (e.g. the bus for the Help is a very bright yellow and is too clean, it would be more run down). Also the weather (something you don’t really consider when reading the book) is very sunny and bright, and makes some of the film seem too cheery.

 

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Wilde

Oscar Wilde was a playwright, poet and novelist born in 1854 in Dublin. He was born Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wilde to a prosperous mother and father. His father was a great doctor, who spent most of his time in London and was thus absent for some of Wilde’s early years and his mother was a poet and Irish Nationalist. Wilde had the best education possible and was obviously very bright. He was an impressive linguist, he was taught French and German and also had a working knowledge of Italian and Ancient Greek. He attended Trinity College in Dublin and graduated in 1874.

Wilde received a scholarship so that he could study further at Magdalen College in Oxford. At Oxford Wilde made his first attempts at creative writing. In 1878 (the year of his graduation) his poem “Ravenna” won a prize for the best English poem composed by an Oxford undergraduate.

After graduating from Oxford, Wilde moved to London to live with his friend, Frank Miles, a popular portraitist among London’s high society. He continued to focus on writing poetry, publishing his first collection, “Poems”, in 1881. The book established Wilde as an up-and-coming writer. In 1882 he embarked on a tour of America, lecturing on a variety of subjects from “The English Renaissance” to “Decorative Art.” He delivered 140 lectures in only 9 months.

Through his lectures and his early poetry Wilde established himself as a leading member of the aesthetic movement (I have another blog explaining the concepts behind the aesthetic movement). In 1884 Wilde married Constance Lloyd and continued to have two children. He wrote beautiful fairy stories for his children and in 1888 published a collection of them, “The Happy Prince and Other Tales”. In 1891 he published his only novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. I will be writing much more about this novel in the coming weeks as this is the novel I’m studying for AS Level. The book was received with negative criticism which surprised Wilde, so he wrote a preface and extra chapters to retaliate, hoping that the new additions would improve people’s opinions of the book.

Wilde wrote a variety of plays, such as “A Woman of No Importance” published in 1893, “ An Ideal Husband” published in 1895, and his most famous play: “The Importance of Being Earnest” which was published in 1895. Around this time Wilde was enjoying a homosexual affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. Lord Douglas’ father then publicly accused Wilde of sodomy (non-procreative sex) and Wilde was arrested on the grounds of “gross indecency” in 1895. He was kept in Reading prison for two years.

After he was released he moved to France and wrote a poem about his time in prison “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” in 1898. In late 1900 Wilde developed meningitis and on the 29th of November called for a priest and was baptised into the Catholic Church. On the 30th of November he died, and his last words (one of my favourite quotes) were:

“My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go.”

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Across the sea to Byzantium

‘Sailing to Byzantium’ is a poem written by W.B.Yeats comparing the lifetimes of both art and nature, and contrasting the two parallel to youth and old age. Youth is a very creative time, and as you grow older you learn the truths of nature, you become “tattered” “aged” “old men”. Yeats dismisses Ireland, nature and the living world as they offer no consolation for “old men” like him. He sails to the mythical city of Byzantium in his mind, almost worshipping the idea of immortal art in comparison to mortal nature and mortal men. He realises that art has a life beyond the limits of nature, and thus consigns himself to visiting his creative imagination.

The roman numerals to number the stanzas give a sense of formality, that reflects the ancient civilization of Byzantium, which seems like a formal place, with “Lords and Ladies”. The rhyme scheme starts off formally but ends up with half rhymes dispersed to show the fall of Ireland, how at the time of writing Ireland had fallen apart. The rhyming couplet at the end of stanzas suggest completion after the suspense offered by alternate rhymes. The enjambment emphasises the idea that this is all taking place in Yeats’ imagination.

The poem is like an impassionate plea for some form of life through art, saying goodbye to Ireland, the city he visits representing the best of a high ancient culture and classical civilisation. Yeats likes to link his poetry to the classical world through small references or even more blatant references like rewriting myths (‘Leda and the Swan’). Byzantium also represents a revered ideal, a place where art is treasured and lasts. The fact that his poetry may last almost makes up for the fact that his mortal self must die.

The first stanza shows the need for a new song/person in Ireland.The “young” are distracted by sensual music, creative new ideas, and thus Ireland “is no country for old men” as they have no voice. This shows Yeats’ pessimistic look to the future. The phrase “old men” shows the human condition and the truth of age, time passes. A cascade of images to represent nature take over Yeats thoughts, showing nature’s true beauty, as if he is arguing in his mind over whether mortal nature or immortal art is better. The alliteration and punctuation, “fish, flesh and fowl’ force the reader to swiftly pass from one snapshot to another. The reference to summer gives the idea of nature’s energy and abundance, this coupled with the “sensual music” shows the vivid physical world that Yeats desperately wants to reject.

In stanza 2 Yeats uses the image of a scarecrow to describe old men, “tattered” and “paltry”. Yeats’ opinion seems to be that old age is unnecessary. The phrase “Soul clap its hands and sing” shows the celebration that life can be, to add to the pastoral natural images in the first stanza. At the end of this stanza he has left Ireland and politics behind completely as he has “sailed the seas”. 

In stanza 3 Yeats craves spiritual release, almost giving a prayer-like plea to go from the ephemeral to the immortal, from nature to art. He asks for the sages to “come from the holy fire” and be the “singing masters” of his soul. Singing and songs are important in this poem. In the first stanza Yeats refers to the song of the dying generation, and in the second he refers to the singing soul. These songs give the idea of regality and tradition. The idea of the soul and heart being “fastened to a dying animal” reflects the idea of the spiritual attached to the physical, the “animal” reflecting the true nature of the human body, which is animalistic in design, however the thing that makes us human is the spiritual aspect of us, our soul. Yeats accepts the idea of death, “gather me into the artifice of eternity”, he has realised that the body isn’t important.

In the final stanza Yeats admits he will not return to the mortal world after death “I shall never take my bodily form from any natural thing” and looks around the richness and wealth of eternity. He almost seems to want to live in nature but he chooses to live through his art, as the lure is too strong. Gold is frequently mentioned throughout this stanza, a metal that is cold, hard, and doesn’t tarnish or change naturally. The mention of “Lords and Ladies” seems odd, as Yeats is striving to get to this place, whereas Ireland had been striving for centuries to get rid of the class system that supported those ranks, this truly shows how Yeats wants to get away from Ireland by completely defying what they fought for.

There is a contrast between the worlds of art and nature, and a constant sense of opposites. Great art lasts forever, whereas nature physically can’t. Nature is represented in two ways, negatively as a “dying animal” and positively as vivid “salmon-falls” showing both the rewards and punishments of living. Art is shown consistently as the opposite, an unchanging ideal, the city of Byzantium, a “monument of un-aging intellect”. Yeats also shows paradoxes, such as the “holy fire”, “holy” being synonymous with heaven and God, and “fire” having connotations with hell and the Devil. Yeats contrasts the opposites of old and young, that can’t share the same country; “no country for old men”. The old are presented as weak and feeble, “tattered”, “aged”, “paltry”, whereas the young are presented as energetic and vibrant, “sensual”.

There are also ambiguities in the poem. The “birds in the trees” represent the pastoral and natural mortal life and also the freedom that Yeats longs for. They could also represent stability, another thing Yeats desires, as they are up high in the trees. The line “no country for old men” is also ambiguous, as it could suggest that Yeats is nearing the end of his time and must soon die and leave life, or that there are young people taking all the attention and providing all the ideas. 

Thanks for reading,

Jack

 

 

 

‘Mansfield Park’ is class.

We can see that class is a principle theme in ‘Mansfield Park’ from the very beginning, where the three Ward sisters marry different men from different classes. One marries above her station, to Sir Thomas Bertram, one marries at her appropriate rank , to the middle class Revd. Norris and the other below her station, to a sailor who becomes an unemployed drunkard, Mr Price. 

We see that high social status doesn’t necessarily mean high morals. Tom goes to London where the hustle and bustle of city life corrupts him into gambling and drinking. The Miss Bertrams are spoiled, selfish and the married Maria even runs off with Henry Crawford, showing the immorality of the upper class. The reason that the upper classes are usually the most immoral is due to the want of rebellion and the fact that there are little to no consequences. If a working class lady got pregnant without marriage she would have nothing to live on, as nobody would wish to marry her, whereas in an upper class situation the lady would be able to live off of her inheritance alone. Even Edmund, who’s a minister, isn’t completely moral in the book as he gets distracted by desire for Mary Crawford.

The immorality of the upper class is shown through the theatricals and the play of ‘Lovers Vows’. This is obviously an unsuitable choice of play due to the sexual content and the reputation the household has to keep up, especially with Maria’s engagement. Sir Thomas Bertram seems more moral than the rest of the household, as he halts the play immediately, as he obviously saw the trouble it would cause and how improper it would be. However we, as readers, need to remember that however moral Sir Thomas may be in his actions in the novel he makes his profits from plantations in Antigua, and thus from the slave trade, an obviously immoral way of making money. The Crawfords are the upcoming business middle class, who made their money in the city. They also bring bad morals as they encourage the play and its content and are also immoral sexually, Henry is quite clearly a “terrible flirt” and runs off with Maria, and Mary distracts Edmund from his life of ministry.

The most moral of the Bertram family is Fanny Price, who comes from the working class. She is patient, helpful and definitely knows right from wrong. She becomes socially mobile as she marries Edmund at the end of the novel and becomes upper class. Austen quite often rewards the deserving in her novels, and Fanny could one day replace Lady Bertram as the mistress of Mansfield Park.

 

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Man… man.. man… man…..

‘Man and the Echo’ is a poem by W.B. Yeats in which he talks with his Echo about how words can be manipulated to have an alternate meaning. The poem consists of 3 long stanzas, with an echoing line at the end of the 1st and 2nd that echoes the last line. The poem is made up of rhyming couplets. This emphasises the relationship between the Man and the Echo, but also gives the poem a repetitive feel, which gives the idea of an echo. The use of enjambment makes the poem sound like a rush of random thoughts. The poem is almost like a dialogue between the Man and the Echo, with either ‘Man.’ or ‘Echo.’ to introduce who is speaking, like a script.

The Echo could be interpreted in many ways. It only ever repeats what the Man is saying, almost agreeing with him. We could see the Echo as a spirit guide or a deity reassuring Yeats that what he thinks is true. The repetitive nature of the Echo brings the idea of gyres and the occult, something Yeats was fascinated in. As the Echo is only repeating the Man’s words it could be seen as a part of the Man himself, as if he is doubting himself and he is reassuring himself. This seems more plausible when you see the many rhetorical questions, “Shall we in that great night rejoice?” However the Echo’s repetition seems  to twist the phrase and makes it seem much darker, “Lie down and die”. This could suggest that the Echo is showing the Man what he is really suggesting. This could show how Yeats’ poems were twisted in meaning, and that Yeats is frustrated by this.

The poem is one of Yeats’ later poems, and we can see this in the more elegaic tone, he is looking back into the past. He looks back at certain things in a regretful way, the phrase “Did words of mine put too great strain on that woman’s reeling brain?” could show how his many love poems may have intimidated Maud Gonne, the love of his life. Yeats is questioning his past, and his actions, and may even be asking the Echo for it’s opinion. The rhetorical question “Did that play of mine send out certain men the English shot?” shows how he looks back and realises what the impact of his poems were, they could have encouraged men to run and fight in the Easter Rising, and maybe even get killed. This seems odd, as for most of his life in his poems he is upset over how his poems have little impact, and that only the apathetic Irish at the time read them, as in ‘The Fisherman’. Man has no control over how people interpret his work, and these interpretations could create “great strain” or inspire wrong deeds, and this frustrates him.

Yeats in the second stanza goes off topic, and has “lost the theme” and goes on to write about broader philsophical topics, such as the abuse of alcohol, or affairs, “Wine or love drug him to sleep”.  The phrase “cleans man’s dirty slate” could be a reference to the common idiom ‘wiping a slate clean’ to represent being forgiven. By making man’s slate “dirty” it shows the many sins that men have committed, and how Yeats disapproves of these. In the last stanza Yeats questions God and the afterlife, “Shall we in that great night rejoice?”. He is now accepting death, no longer questioning the past but questioning the future. 

The end of the poem has a violent distraction to Yeats’ thoughts:

“Up there some hawk or owl has struck,
Dropping out of sky or rock,
A stricken rabbit is crying out,
And its cry distracts my thought.”

This makes the poem truly seem like thoughts, and Yeats has now stopped pondering life as these animals have made themselves known. The use of animals, rather than another man, makes the end of the poem seem very pastoral  and natural.

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Songs to conjure images 3

This type of blog has appeared to have become a series.

Maybe it needs a theme tune.

Anyway, getting on, you know the score by now, I read poems and stuff and I find that in my musically obsessed head of mine they relate to songs from musicals, (yes I think I need to get a life too).

Memories

Many of Yeats poems concern themselves with memories and looking back into the past. Here are two songs that I think reflect this topic perfectly. The first is a song called ‘Wishing you were somehow Here again’ in which Christine, the protagonist of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ laments over her Father’s death and how she needs his comfort in her current hard times. The second is a song called ‘Memory’ from ‘CATS’ in which Grizabella, a cat who used to be in the spotlight but has now become haggered and pushed side, laments over her new situation. I find that the song ‘Memory’ reflects best on the poem ‘In Memory of…’ because it shows the effects of time on beauty, and how all things will come to such an end that memories are the only thing that can comfort you. 

Wishing you were somehow Here again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvLP7DmuBsI

Memory: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-L6rEm0rnY

<BONUS FACT> The idea of gyres is also vaguely reflected in ‘CATS’ in which one cat (eventually Grizabella) is taken to the Heaviside layer and thus reborn as a new cat.

Broken Dreams

A song dear to my heart, ‘I Dreamed a Dream’, always comes to mind when I read a poem by Yeats in which his dreams are not fulfilled (most usually about how he can’t get with Maud Gonne – I think a song to represent that should be ‘On my Own’!!). In the song, Fantine reflects on how her life has been shattered and how the dreams of her youth have not been fulfilled.

Thanks for reading,

Jack

In Memory.

‘In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Constance Markiewicz’ is a poem by W.B. Yeats in which he remembers two friends whose principles and beauty had fallen victim to time. This poem is elegaic but also has features of a first person narrative. The use of enjambment makes the poem sound like memories. The rhyme scheme is fairly regular and contains many rhyming couplets. These couplets could represent the unity of the two women, Eva and Constance. The tone is world weary, sad, yet knowing and accepting. The poem shows how human innocence and beauty will be found out by and disapproved of by time.

There is a real tone of memory in the poem, Yeats seems to enjoy recalling “pictures of the mind” of the past. Yeats shows that all he thinks about is the past, which gives a sense of time gone by, “talk of youth”. Yeats contrasts these ideal old days with how the women are today (similar to how he compares “Romantic Ireland” with the Ireland of 1913 in ‘September 1913′). The women were “both beautiful” and we can see that Yeats held them in high esteem. There is a sense of glamour, opulence, aristocracy and grandure associated with them and Lissadell, “silk komonos”, “Great windows”. Yeats doesn’t want both their political and physical beauty to die. He reflects on the old days of the Easter Rising – “Conspiring amongst the ignorant”. The “ignorant” were the apathetic Irishmen and women of the time. This shows the womens’ political beauty.

As the poem progresses we can see that the women are still holding on to the ideal of a perfect world, a political “Utopia”. However time has passed by and “raving autumn shears Blossom from the summer’s wreath;” the use of the word “autumn” rings change, as autumn is a changing time, and the harsh word “shears” has connotations with death. In stark contrast the words “Blossom” and “summer’s wreath” have connotations with freshness and even fresh new ideas. We can see that only the memory of politics can comfort them now, “When withered old and skeleton-gaunt, an image of such politics”. The physical decay of Eva “withered” is a metaphor for their politics and ideals which have been forgotten.

There’s a tone of defiant anger in the poem, as Yeats is not going to give up the memory and the women aren’t going to give up who they are. The idea of the “match” symbolises the relighting of the passion, to commemorate and highlight their lies. The poem could be seen as ending irrationally, compounding bitterness with another futile gesture of striking a match.  The fire could represent a violent change or revolutionary action. It could also symbolise the lighting of a beacon of hope. The idea of relighting the fire shows rebirth and change, which brings the image of gyres, a common symbol in Yeats’ poetry.  The use of the supernatural in this poem is less than in some of his other works, but is nonetheless there, the rhyming couplets sound like simple mystical spells and the idea of “shadows” and “sages” also brings about the idea of the occult. 

Thanks for reading,

Jack

In, Out, In, Out, Shake it all about.

We can see the attitudes to women through the conversation about whether Fanny Price is “in” or “out”. In the Regency period, the time when Austen wrote ‘Mansfield Park’, women were deemed ‘in’ or ‘out’, ‘in’ meaning that you stay at home and are not ready to accept a marriage proposal, whereas ‘out’ meant that you were going to balls and dinners to try and attract the attention of a man to propose to you.

The first idea of girls being ‘out’ is presented in the engagement of Maria Bertram and Mr Rushworth, who “soon fancied himself in love” after attending a “proper number of balls”. We can see that  this is a family affair, with the attitudes of the families and even the public noted: “much to the satisfaction of their respective families, and of the general lookers-on of the neighbourhood, who had, for many weeks past, felt the expediency of Mr Rushworth’s marrying Miss Bertram”. We see here that everyone has an opinion, and wishes for marriage to occur.

We can also see that Maria has not engaged for love, but to climb the social ladder (as I talked about in my last blog post on ‘Mansfield Park’). This is shown through Edmund’s opinion, he saw “a fault in the business” and after talking to Mr Rushworth would say to himself, “If this man had not twelve thousand a year, he would be a very stupid fellow.” However the rest of the family seems delighted, and Sir Thomas believes it to be an “alliance so unquestionably advantageous”. This shows how women were expected by their family to marry well, because their choice reflected on the whole family, and in those days reputation was everything.

Later on a conversation between Mary Crawford and Edmund occurs in which they question whether Fanny is in or out. Mary seems to have the boundaries of in and out very clear, “Till now, I could not have supposed it possible to be mistake as to a girl’s being out or not” and yet she is confused as Fanny does not fit into these boundaries, “I am puzzled. – She dined at the parsonage, with the rest of you, which seemed like being out; and yet she says so little, that I can hardly suppose she is“. Edmund seems to assume that being out is to do with age, “My cousin is grown up. She has the age and sense of a woman.”

Mary then talks about being out or not, and what this should be. For example a girl who isn’t out would wear a “close bonnet” and “never says a word” – which seems like they are just objects standing there and waiting to be out. Mary says that “Girls should be quiet and modest.” which is the attitude of the upper classes to young women at the time. Mary also seems to despise girls who turn to “confidence”, which in our day and age seems ridiculous. She suggests that “One does not like to see a girl of eighteen or nineteen so immediately up to everything” and almost seems to despise girls of this sort. As Mary is a woman we see that this is a general view, it isn’t just old men who are sexist towards young women.

Henry shows the difference between women who are in and out. When a girl, Mr Anderson’s sister, was in, Henry could “hardly get a word or a look from the young lady”. However many months later, she was “then out” and “talked and laughed” a lot. The language Henry uses makes it sound as if this was disgraceful “I felt that I must be the jest of the room.” Edmund remarks that these women who are out “are always acting upon motives of vanity – and there is no more real modesty” almost suggesting that they are immoral. Miss Crawford’s language however suggests this even more, “It is much worse to have girls not out, give themselves the same airs and take the same liberties as if they were,” and goes on to describe it as “quite disgusting” which makes her sound like she is repulsed by the fact, as if these women are somehow whores because they are confident and feel comfortable talking to men. 

Henry decribes another situation with another girl, who appeared to be out as she was “perfectly easy in her manners, and as ready to talk as to listen”. This suggests that only girls who are willing to be married should be allowed to talk. As the girl was given all the attention by Henry and was “not out” the other sister was deeply offended, as was the rest of the family. Mary blames it on the fact that the “governess” not being there, as if all girls who are not out have to be accompanied by a governess to ensure they don’t get attacked by some marriage hungry male. Mary then asks whether Miss Prices goes to “balls” or dines “out everywhere”, and as the answer is a categorical no, then it “is clear, Miss Price is not out.”

Thanks for reading,

Jack

A couplet of questions.

These are two separate essays, so points may be repeated!

Many of Yeats’ poems explore the breaking of dreams. How does ‘The Stolen Child’ suggest the illusion of dreams and the dream of illusion?

‘The Stolen Child’ is a very childish, playful and dreamlike poem. There are illusions in the setting and the faeries, which/who lures the child into being abducted. It has four stanzas of varying length, showing change. It is a narrative viewpoint with ballad like qualities,  similar to a monologue. The rhyme and rhythm flows like the water in the poem, evoking a magical atmosphere.

In the poem a human child is taken to the ethereal and playful supernatural world by the faeries, yet the faeries are not good. They seem to be upset that the human world is full of “weeping” and thus they appear to be saving a human child and offering him a release. However they are stealing him away to their world. The use of the word ‘we’ to describe the faeries show how separate they are from the humans.

Despite the enchanting nature of the poem’s lyricism there are hints at the sinister plans of the faeries. The title itself, ‘The Stolen Child’, very plainly shows that the Child will be stolen. The phrase “reddest stolen cherries” anticipates the human theft at the end of the poem. It also suggests the hoarding of the most precious things, and the colour may suggest blood and some act of violation against innocence and nature, i.e. rape.

This dreamlike setting is an illusion for the child, to attract him towards the faeries. However the child may have dreamt of such illusion. Many children have a strong imagination that means they would love to see a different world, an elaborate and enchanting faery kingdom. And yet the dream that the child encounters is just that, a dream, an illusion. It’s a trap set by the faeries to entice him.

The language in the poem has lots of adjectives, making the poem sensuous, with a honeyed and childlike quality, “leafy island”, “flapping herons”, “frothy bubbles”. This makes the poem seem aimed towards children, and in particular the Child. This shows how the setting is an illusion that has been made to lure the child. 

The end of the poem shows the sinister ending to the poem. The word “you” to represent the child is changed to “he”, the Child has gone with the faeries. The word “he” sounds disconnected, distant, as if he’s gone. It also shows how evil the faeries are, they don’t even know his name.

Compare the style and theme of ‘The Stolen Child’ with the realism and disillusion of ‘September 1913’ and explore the differences.

‘The Stolen Child’ and ‘September 1913’ are almost polar opposite poems. ‘The Stolen Child’ explores the dangers of the supernatural and almost perfect beauty whereas ‘September 1913′ condemns the apathy of the Irish at the time. Yeats’ early writing see him turn from the realistic political times by seeking the morals in older tales and legends.

Both poems contain 4 stanzas, yet ‘The Stolen Child’ has stanzas of varying length to show change, whereas ‘September 1913’ has stanzas of the same length to show the stability that Yeats wants in Ireland. ‘The Stolen Child’ shows faeries stealing a human child, and ‘September 1913’ is a direct challenge to the Irish in 1913. The rhythm and rhyme in ‘The Stolen Child’ gives the poem a mystical flow and a magical atmosphere, whereas in ‘September 1913’ it gives a mocking tone, showing how Yeats is mocking the Catholics who have “dried the marrow from the bone” of Ireland.

Both poems use a refrain to link the stanzas, and in the last stanza this changes. In ‘September 1913’ the refrain changes from “Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone, It’s with O’Leary in the grave” to “But let them be, they’re dead and gone, They’re with O’Leary in the grave”. Originally Yeats was showing how Ireland had changed, the Nationalists were acting in an angry and bitter way,  whereas he changed his mind, he doesn’t want the heroes of the past to see the awful nature of 1913 as they’d be ashamed. In ‘The Stolen Child’ the refrain changes “Come away, O human child! To the waters and the wild With a faery, hand in hand, For the worlds more full of weeping than you can understand.” by changing “you” and “human child” to “he” making a more disconnected character, as the child has left. The changes mean different things, in ‘The Stolen Child’ it shows the change and the sinister end to the story, whereas in ‘September 1913’ it shows the changed attitude of the poet.

‘September 1913’ is a very blunt poem, saying things as they are, it doesn’t sugar coat the facts, or make illusions to make the world seem better (like in ‘The Stolen Child’) – “fumble in a greasy till”. The language in the poem is serious, as it deals with conflict, whereas the language in ‘The Stolen Child’ is very sensuous, attracting the child: “wandering water”, “young streams”, “flapping herons”,”leafy island”.

Thanks for reading,

Jack   

Naughty faeries.

‘The Stolen Child’ is a poem showing Yeats’ longing to escape from the world, as well as his realisation that despite the world’s flaws, it is still home. Yeats writes a poem in which a human child is taken to the supernatural world, an enchanting, playful and ethereal place. There’s a sense of languid flow which disguises the strong metre. It’s a narrative viewpoint with ballad-like qualities, almost similar to a monologue. The structure of the verses rings change, each stanza has a different number of lines. The rhyme scheme is regular to show the stability of home, and this contrasts with the cold changes of the new world.

Yeats’ early work is often concerned with romantic world and Irish folklore. Ireland as a nation was struggling for independence and trying to assert it’s own identity against the British and the Empire. A returns to local traditions is a way of asserting and creating a sense of Ireland as both different but also ancient with it’s own roots.These early writings see Yeats turning away from the realistic political imperialism in seeking the truths of older tales and legends (tales of morality etc).

The title is key to the poem, ‘The Stolen Child’ as a phrase explores the idea of a changeling, or a child stolen by faeries, a common myth to many cultures which owes it’s tale to Sligo. Yeats was fascinated with the occult and the supernatural. He drew much inspiration from tales associated with Sligo in the Romantic West of Ireland. The faeries in the poem seem to lament the tears and tragedies of the human world. The poem ironically presents the supernatural as something sinister, luring the child away from the wholesome into the unconscious depths of the “wild waters”. The faeries in the poem aren’t good ones. The voices may be those of the pagan Sid Hi – spirits of gaelic mythology that lure the Child from his world. They are evoked in a mystical way and yet their purposes are obviously sinister.

Much of the poem’s delight comes from it’s lyricism, each verse except the last begins with the enchanting word “Where”. The words are strong, song-like and romantic with alliteration and assonance. Rhythm and flowing full rhymes evoke a mystical atmosphere and the use of the word “we” expresses a sense of a separate exotic magical identity of shared doing and being.

The phrase “hid our faery vats” anticipates the human theft at the end of the poem. The idea of theft is also shown in the phrase “reddest stolen cherries”. This also suggests the hoarding of the most precious things and the colour may suggest the shedding of blood or some act of violation against innocence.

There’s irony in the refrain:

Come away, O human child!

To the waters and the wild

With a faery, hand in hand.

For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

The faeries are drawing the child from the world, and they appear to be saving the child from the “weeping”, yet they actually cheat and deceive. The phrase “Come away, O human child!” offers the troubled child a rescue from the sorry world to a kingdom of riches and delight. This musical refrain also shows an alluring cadence, the falls and closes in rhythm and rhyme show a sense of shared delight.

The delicacy of sound weaves a spell, evoking a landscape and a world in a dream in which the faeries can even enchant the fish, “slumbering trout”. There are lots of adjectives which gives a sensuous honeyed quality to the poem, “leafy island”, “frothy bubbles”, this makes the poem seems childlike and attractive to children.

In the third stanza the sibilance of the letter ‘s’ conjures up a sense of stillness and mischief as the faeries set their trap, “That scarce could bathe a star”. The action anticipates the more sinister ending of the poem where the “solemn eyed” boy is captured by the faeries spell.

In the fourth stanza Yeats writes about what the boy will lose when he falls the the faeries.

“He’ll hear no more the lowing

Of the calves on the warm hillside

Or the kettle on the hob

Sing peace into his breast,”

These are warm pastoral images that are a reassuring representation of home for the child. The “oatmeal chest” shows the peace and fulfillment of the natural world. It presents a contrast between the human and the ethereal faery world. It shows abundance and plenty. The “waters and the wild” shows how the boy is lured from the warmth of his home for the cold alien reality of the faeries. The human world may be full of “weeping” but it is still his world.

In the last stanza “you” is changed to “he” which sounds more sinister and removed, as if the child is now distant and caught in the faery world. It’s almost mocking the parents. The use of “he” also shows how the faeries are evil as they don’t even know his name, yet it could also show how “he” represents many children. 

The poem can be interpreted as a parable for the loss of innocence, a dream that lures then betrays us. It shows the dangers of the supernatural; of powers that serve their own purposes; and of the illusory nature of beauty. The poem isn’t simple escapism where the poet turns his back on reality for a romantic world, the poem shows us how the Child can sometimes be lost in such dreaming. 

Thanks for reading,

Jack

 

Marriage is Class.

In Chapter 4 of ‘Mansfield Park’ we see the introduction of the Crawfords. These characters highlight the relationship between social class and marriage, as everything about the characters seems to be about these two things. In the time of ‘Mansfield Park’ marriage was very important as the only way to change social classes was through marriage.

The Crawfords are introduced through the fact that their mother had a “second marriage”. Austen talks about their fortune, “The son had a good estate in Norfolk, the daughter twenty thousand pounds” and their beauty, “Mary Crawford was remarkably pretty”. Austen is showing that the upper classes are obsessed with marriage and their suitability for marriage. They are delighted with the idea of living so close to the Bertrams as they could be suitable companions, “she had fixed on Tom Bertram; the eldest son of a Baronet was not too good for a girl of twenty thousand pounds,” they’re only concerned with marriage, especially Mary,  “matrimony was her object”.

Austen seems to dislike the upper classes and their material extravagances: “filled her favourite sitting room with pretty furniture”. The phrase “choice collection of plants and poultry” shows her negative attitudes towards these classes, plants and poultry are unnecessary things to have a “choice collection” of, and this is why Austen uses them.

Mrs Grant suggests that Henry marries the “youngest Miss Bertram, a nice, handsome, good-humoured, accomplished girl.” This suggestion itself shows how conversations were based around marriage and suitability, this makes it seem like the upper classes think of nothing else. Henry is established by Mary as the “most horrible flirt”, introducing his attitude to love. She also shows how the whole families (“very clever women” apparently) of some girls have tried to “reason, coax or trick him” into marrying the girl. This shows how desperate women are to ascend the social classes.

The phrase that a wife is “Heaven’s last best gift” shows how God bestowed wives almost as free servants to men. God’s last ‘best gift’ was Eve, who was given as a companion to Adam. This alludes to religious ideas about gender roles and females being inferior to males. Mrs Grant says that she pays “very little regard” “to what any young person says on the subject of marriage. If they profess a disinclination for it,” she assumes “that they have not yet seen the right person.” She suggests that all young people want to get married and they are lying if they say that they don’t. It shows the attitudes towards marriage of the upper classes. The chapter ends with Miss Crawford saying that marriage is necessary if the woman can do it “to advantage”. This almost suggests that marriage isn’t due to love, it’s only to progress in social class.

Thanks for reading,

Jack   

We continue with the story

As you may have noted I am plodding through analysis of the chapters of ‘Mansfield Park’ at a seemingly slow pace. I am reading it much quicker than I’m blogging it, but I am only writing blog posts on chapters we’ve looked at in class so far. 

Chapter 2

In this chapter Fanny is brought into the household of Mansfield Park and we see her being welcomed (or not, as the case may be) into the family. We can see immediately that Mrs Norris is classist – prejudiced against lower classes, a snob. She doesn’t empathise with Fanny, being annoyed that she doesn’t seem gracious of her new home, not even noticing that she’s homesick. 

We can see that Austen dislikes the ‘Miss Bertrams’ and their silly pass-times: “making artificial flowers or wasting gold paper”. She presents the two sisters as a complete contrast to Fanny, confident young women who are not the most kind. Austen shows that the sisters notice that Fanny isn’t like them, and distinguishes her from them, “my cousin cannot put the map of Europe together”. They assume that she is ignorant and stupid, and the adults seem to agree, suggesting that some people “were stupid” and expressing that it was just a shame that Fanny had to be like that too. This shows the attitudes to the working class.

Edmund is the only character who accepts Fanny and treats her as equal. He helps her write to William and becomes someone she can confide in. Immediately there is a distinction between Tom and Edmund, Tom is described as “careless and extravagant”, yet Edmund is described as “good” and to be a “clergyman”. The fact that he is going to be a clergyman shows his goodness, as in those days your goodness was shown through your Christianity. The chapter ends telling us that Fanny loves Edmund very much, and that “her heart was divided” between him and William (her favourite brother).

Chapter 3

The first passage shows the financial affairs, and that Tom has wasted money. Tom’s character is shown through two phrases, that he has “some shame” showing his regret, yet this is undermined by the phrase “cheerful selfishness”.

Mrs Norris is expected to now take care of Fanny, to “claim her share in their niece”. Fanny doesn’t want to go, and goes to Edmund to talk to him about the matter, saying “I love this house”. This shows how her attitudes to Mansfield Park had changed now she had grown up. Edmund mentions that she is important, and she is surprised by this fact. Fanny had obviously not been called important before, her mum had given her away and the residents at Mansfield generally considered her inferior. Edmund suggests that she “will necessarily brought forward as you ought to be”, that she’d be raised up properly. At Mansfield she would have people to hide behind, yet at the Parsonage with Mrs Norris she’d have to speak for herself , her life would change with social circles etc.

Mrs Norris obviously had no intention to do so (much to Fanny’s relief), “Mrs Norris had not the smallest intention of taking her”. She only suggested the Bertrams adopt her to look Christian and benevolent. She uses many excuses to show how she couldn’t possible take Fanny, that she is a “poor desolate widow” and must have a “spare room”. She turns it back onto Sir Thomas, suggesting that “Nobody that wishes me well, I am sure, would propose it.” and persuades the Bertrams to keep her.

Thanks for reading,

Jack

 

Fanny learns about herself, not Asia Minor.

When Fanny Price goes to Mansfield Park she is obviously very homesick. This fact isn’t helped by her relatives not welcoming her in the most gracious way. The only cousin who welcomes her is Edmund, who acts affectionately towards her: ” ‘My dear little cousin,’ said he with all the gentleness of an excellent nature , ‘what can be the matter?’ “. Edmund is her hero at the beginning of the novel and becomes a brother almost equal to William, and Fanny’s heart is divided. The other cousins act differently towards Fanny. Maria and Julia act as if she is ignorant, ” ‘Dear Mamma, only think, my cousin cannot put the map of Europe together’ “. This seems ridiculous to us, yet because the Miss Bertrams have been brought up in such an educated manner and upper class household they know no better, they genuinely think that she is stupid. Mrs Norris, however, has no excuse as she wasn’t brought up in such a fashion. She acts as if she is constantly disappointed and annoyed with Fanny. When Fanny first arrives at Mansfield Park Mrs Norris seems annoyed that Fanny isn’t gracious, not being empathetic to the fact that she’s obviously homesick: “the idea of it being a wicked thing for her not to be happy”. Tom Bertram is the only character who doesn’t seem to have much of an attitude towards Fanny, having very little interest as a 17 year old would towards a 10 year old. The only interaction he has with her when she’s young is to tease her slightly, “laughed at her”. Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram “received her very kindly” and yet they still intimidated Fanny, “She was disheartened by Lady Bertram’s silence,” and  “awed by Sir Thomas’ grave looks”.

Due to this treatment, Fanny at her time in Mansfield Park learns only that she is inferior to the Bertrams and Mrs Norris, as she is constantly treated in that way. She must think that she is only there due to charity and so that the Bertrams (and more likely Mrs Norris) look Christian and benevolent. Fanny would also think that she is “ignorant” and “prodigiously stupid” (mainly due to Maria and Julia), despite her obvious love for reading, “books which charmed her leisure hours”. 

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Songs to conjure up MORE images!

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Gyres

The concept of gyres is the idea that lives are intertwined with eachother and that one life feeds into the next. This concept is reflected in many songs in the musical ‘The Lion King’. The song “Circle of Life” really shows the concepts of lives feeding into each other, the show begins and ends with this song. The baby Simba at the beginning is presented to the herd, and yet at the end the adult Simba is presenting his child to the herd a generation later.

The child Simba gets a lesson from his father, Mufasa, about how the ‘circle of life’ happens. Mufasa describes how the kings of the past live in Simba through the song “They live in You”. Later on in his life, Rafiki the monkey (much like a spirit guide) reminds Simba of this fact, and especially how Simba’s father lives within Simba himself in the song “He lives in You”. 

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The Cat and the Moon

When reading this poem by Yeats I would like to say I was reminded of T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’. Yet I was (being a musical theatre nerd) obviously drawn to the similarities between the poem and Webber’s CATS. The musical is based on the book by Eliot, so there’s obvious similarities. 

The three elements of the poem, dance, cats, and the moon are very prominent in the musical. The ‘Jellicle Cats’ dance at a ball every year ‘by the light of the Jellicle Moon’. The name ‘Minnaloushe’ is also very similar to the names of Cats in the book/musical, which are all very odd: Rumpleteazer, Mungojerrie, Mr Mistoffelees, Skimbleshanks etc. The song “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats” introduces the cats and the principle ideas:

This song is the song of the Jellicle Ball, and whenever I read the poem I imagine this song as the song Minnaloushe is dancing to:

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Thanks for reading,

Jack

 

 

Miaow.

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‘The Cat and the Moon’ is a poem by W.B. Yeats that on one level celebrates a cat dancing in the moonlight in a childlike ways. On a deeper level it suggests forces at work in life: instinctual, mystical, and spiritual forces that exist beyond many simple and rational views. The poem shows how relationships and perceptions are a changing mix of the objective and subjective. The poem is one, long, continuous stanza and Yeats uses enjambment to give the poem a mystical flow. There is a regular rhyme scheme and this coupled with the rhythm makes the whole poem sound like a song. This reflects the dance element of the poem, as if the poem is a song that the cat, Minnaloushe, is dancing to. The rhythm reflects the hidden rhythms and secret parallels in the natural world of animals, men and the moon, suggesting a wider sense of nature that may exist in philosophies of the time.  

This is a playful, delightful and symbolic poem that can be seen as simple, and yet it draws similarities and distinctions between the Cat and the Moon. There is a delight about the poem in it’s conception of a mysterious symmetry between two things in nature that seem so different. There’s a kind of childlike appreciation of the moods of the Cat and it’s energies in a way that is pleasingly magical and mysterious. He is free from rational explanation, yet at the same time potent and real in a different way.

Yeats is fascinated with the occult and all aspects of the supernatural. He worked out his own systems and visions. and believed in the power of different things such as the phases of the moon. There’s an almost mystical sense of communion between the Cat and the Moon and life and the universe. This brings about the image of the gyre, and that everything is linked. This idea also comes into mind when we think of the moon, it changes it’s phase and yet is constant. Minnaloushe initially ignores the Moon, then they become mirrors of each other at the end. This is similar to how Yeats’ ideas of how real and supernatural worlds share links and connections.

The cat, Minnaloushe, is Maud Gonne’s cat. In this poem Minnaloushe represents Yeats, and the Moon represents Gonne. Thus Yeats is dancing childishly around Gonne, trying to attract her attention. The Moon is a traditional symbol for women, the phases of the moon have long been associated with the menstrual cycle. The Moon is behind Minnaloushe, which could be interpreted to suggest that Gonne is behind all of Yeat’s poetic inspirations.

There are distinct contrasts between the Moon and Minnaloushe. The movement of the cat “here and there” and the Moon “spun round like a top” are very different and can’t be synchronised, showing the differences. This description could also show how the Moon wants to be like Minnaloushe, dancing alongside him. The cat is black and the moon is “pure” and “cold”, suggesting it’s white. These two colours are the stark opposites. The phrase “pure cold light” is also ethereal, suggesting a mystical side to the poem. These contrasts show the differences between Minnaloushe and the Moon and could show that Gonne and Yeats are very different. However despite these differences Yeats describes them as “two close kindred” – showing his longing to be with Gonne. There are many apparent differences between the Cat and the Moon, and yet these are superficial as they are both connected by nature.

There’s a strong theme of change in this poem, the change in the moon is reflected in Minnaloushe’s eyes:

“The sacred moon overhead

Has taken a new phase.

Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils

Will pass from change to change,

And that from round to crescent,

From crescent to round the range?”

This suggestion shows that however they may never be one and the same, they are very similar and have similar aspects: their changing. The change occurs so that the shapes are the same, “round to crescent”, this shows that they change together. These changes in the Moon could show Gonne’s changing attitudes to Yeats and men in general, she would have many relationships with many men.

The “dance” is most probably a metaphor for a relationship. Yeats, as the cat, is desperate to dance and have a relationship with Gonne. Yeats wants the Moon to “learn” this fact, and even though she may be tired of this “courtly fashion” he hopes she may join him in a “new dance”. We can see Yeats’ attitude to the idea of a relationship with Gonne by the use of the word “sacred”. This places Gonne in a divine place in his heart.

Thanks for reading,

Jack

(For the people who are reading who are not in my English class you may not understand the picture. The girl in the picture is a friend of mine called Cat. :D)

 

 

Yeats’ dream is Gonne

‘Broken Dreams’ by W.B. Yeats tackles with the ideas of time, afterlife, aging and the effect of unrequited love. The poem is a long monologue in which Yeats describes Gonne using past, present, idealised and transient images of her. It explores her perfections, especially due to her imperfection. It shows how his thoughts and feelings for her evolved over time. Its a journey of many images and ideas about Gonne, some detailed, some longing, some immediate and some fading into mere memory. The poem is strange amongst Yeats’ poems, as it is one long stanza. This coupled with the enjambment makes the poem sound like rambled thoughts. The rhyme scheme is tight at the beginning, weakens later on and then strengthens near the very end. This could be interpreted in two ways:

  • It represents life and the effect of aging: you begin life as a strong individual, then weaken as you grow old, and are then strengthened by your memories as you look back on your life.  
  • It represents Yeat’s love of Maud Gonne: Began very strong thus he was besotted, then after many rejections he gave up hope. Near the end of his life he looks back and realises that he still loves her no matter what.

When Maud was with Yeats she was having affairs and illegitimate children, yet he was still in love. He never forgot his first meeting with her and was completely obsessed, she became his muse, the source of inspiration. She was possibly too much of a modern woman for him, she broke his heart. In his writing she is his Helen of Troy – a vicious freedom fighter. She is increasingly written as a memory, with many of the poems having an elegaic tone. In this poem she is more imagined than real. For a Romantic like Yeats we see that Gonne is almost transformed into a mythical being in his poetry.

The title, ‘Broken Dreams’ shows the imperfection, that Yeats’ life is incomplete without Gonne. His dreams of having a relationship with Gonne has been shattered. The poem opens with an unflattering truth, “grey in your hair”, this gives Yeats the opportunity to flatter Gonne later on in the poem. This first line dramatically introduces the theme of love and time. Lines 2 and 3, “young men no longer suddenly catch their breath” introduce the idea of fading youth, showing that Gonne isn’t as she was. Yeats describes himself as an “old gaffer” who was “recovered” by her. The words “old gaffer” show the personal and conversational tone. The word “recovered” shows how she has revived his life and his attitudes to love. This makes her sound almost divine, as if she has the power of a saint or miracle worker to recover lives. The phrase “your prayer” has a hint of possessive pride.

The phrase “for your sole sake” is a pun. The phrase ‘for your souls sake’ is to do with the afterlife and going to heaven, and the effect of using the word “sole” shows that heaven has prevented her (and her alone) from giving in to time. This is repeated to emphasise the point. Yeats shows his rapturous admiration by suggesting that she makes “peace” when she “merely” walks into a room. The line “Vague memories, nothing but memories” shows that beauty must one day fade and die. The phrase also show that his memories of Gonne are on a pedestal. However this could be Yeats rejecting his other relationships (including his wife) and saying that they’re “nothing but memories”. The phrase haunts the poem, suggesting how inadequate the mind/Yeats can be to the reality of her mardless physical beauty.

When he talks about the “young man” asking the “old man” is exactly what is happening today. We are all talking about Gonne in our A Level and her significance, thus Yeats has given her the highest accolade – longevity and life beyond death as she is immortalised in his poems. When he talks about her “first loveliness” Yeats is referring to her being reborn in heaven. This highlights the sad truth that she has faded on earth but then shows that she will be reborn just as beautiful as ever in heaven.

After he talks about “muttering like a fool” the rest of the poem is him doing just that, “You are more beautiful than anyone”. This is a passionate recollection, showing the eb and flow of hope and longing. This humanises the drama of his love in a way that is profoundly moving. Yeats then goes on to say that there is a “flaw”: her “small hands” that weren’t beautiful. This shows a strong,mature relationship as he can insult her, he can see the negatives. However he loves these imperfections, asking that when she is reborn in heaven she is reborn just as she is, “don’t change the hands that I have kissed”. This shows that he thinks she is perfect just the way she is.

Yeats talks about the “always brimming lake” – probably referring to the fountain of youth, which brings the image of a gyre. The image of a gyre is always shown in the phrase “the last stroke of midnight”. This shows the idea that life has come full circle and he is close to death. The phrase “dream to dream and rhyme to rhyme” sounds almost elegaic and has a deathly tone, similar to the phrase ‘dust to dust’.  The “rambling talk” reflects the poem he’s immortalised her in and the last line shows that she’s only vaguely remembered.

Thanks for reading,

Jack 

The first Chapter.

In the first few lines of ‘Mansfield Park’ Austen outlines the class system of the characters and how these classes affect them. As well as this she outlines how marriage affects the characters and their class.

These first lines establish that a woman gets elevated to her husband’s social class when she gets married; the way she writes it shows that she dislikes this system. Austen uses three examples, Miss Maria, who marries the upper class Sir Bertram, Miss Ward who marries the lower-middle class Revd Norris, and Miss Frances who marries to an unnamed working class soldier. It is made clear that Miss Frances married to “disoblige” her parents, and thus it is assumed she married for lust. Miss Maria has “seven thousand pounds” which shows that the family must not be poor; they are most likely business class. The names of the characters show their class; the most common, working class name, Price, is given to Miss Frances. Miss Ward becomes Mrs Norris, and Miss Maria becomes Mrs Bertram. Bertram definitely sounds the most upper-class name. Austen shows that they could have all married rich men, but there are not as much men with “large fortune” as there are “pretty women”. The use of the phrase “pretty women” seems almost derogatory, as if these pretty women are nothing more than ornaments and are not worthwhile. Austen obviously dislikes them.

Sir Thomas Bertram paid Mr Norris to be his own personal Vicar in the household, and would have offered Mr Price a job, but he was unemployable due to a lack of education. This obviously creates a divide, “as a very imprudent marriage almost always produces”. This phrase shows that if you marry below your own class you are almost cut off. Mr Price is presented badly, Austen shows his love for “liquor”, hinting at alcoholism, and the fact that he is “disabled in active service” showing that his career has badly affected his family. Mr Price was most likely fighting in the Napoleonic Wars that were happening at the time, yet Austen doesn’t mention the war specifically as she knows there will always be a war and thus can be in associated to any time period.

Mrs Norris constantly gossips about Mrs Price, always commenting when she had had yet “another child”. This could be due to jealousy as she has no children of her own. Mrs Price swallows her pride and asks the Bertrams to send money, and this “re-established peace and kindness”. Sir Thomas sent helpful advice, giving his time, Lady Bertram sent “money” and “baby-linens”, and Mrs Norris merely “wrote the letters”. This shows how Mrs Norris didn’t really contribute overall, and she eventually asks Sir Thomas to let them adopt one of Mrs Price’s children. This makes Mrs Norris seem kind and compassionate, yet she won’t be contributing very much, and so it’s only to appear kind, the Bertrams will have to do the work and contribute with money.

Sir Thomas didn’t really want to adopt the child, but Mrs Norris uses a variety of arguments to persuade him. The one that really persuades him is the argument that if Fanny (the name of the child) meets the Bertram’s children, one of the sons may fall in love with her and thus marry beneath himself. This persuades Sir Thomas to let Fanny join the family. Later on Sir Thomas discovers that Mrs Norris will not be contributing to the child’s upbringing, he had thought of Fanny as being “a desirable companion to an aunt who had no children” and yet he was “wholly mistaken”. Mrs Norris makes the excuse that her husband is sick, and this may well be the case, but the whole affair shows her manipulative ways. Lady Bertram doesn’t really object as long as Fanny doesn’t tease her “poor pug”. This shows that she lacks empathy for the girl and has become very upper-class, having a negative attitude to the working-class Fanny.

Mrs Price is obviously delighted and sends Fanny at once.

Thanks for reading,

Jack

 

Lost in Austen

Jane Austen was one of the first feminist fiction writers. She is by definition a comedy writer, utilising exaggeration, humour, irony and caricatures (such as Mrs Norris).

She ends novels with a wedding, which is a characteristic of her writing. In the time that her books were written a happy ending was synonymous with a wedding, or at least an engagement. All of the characters want to be married and dread the idea of not marrying and living in poverty. Austen herself however was not married, and was poor as a consequence.

In all of her books the heroine is the most well rounded and Christian character in the book. In those days their Christianity was a measure of their goodness, as they aspired to be good and follow holy laws to get to heaven. The protagonist in her books also always make a huge mistake, a characteristic of a tragedy. They also all have an obstacle that threatens the marriage. For example in ‘Mansfield Park’ the obstacle is Fanny Price’s social class. The male always helps the heroine over the obstacle and by doing so proves to the heroine that he is the right man.

 Thanks for reading,

Jack

Leda and the Swan

Like this:)

Lucy Loughnane Lit Blog

‘Leda and the Swan’ by WB Yeats is a thrilling poem, set out to present how evil breeds evil. The poem is about the powerful Greek God, Zeus, and how he disguises himself as a beautiful swan, only to carry out the act of rape on the daughter of King Thestius, Leda.

The poem consists of 5 stanza’s with a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFG EFG and is in ‘Petrarchan Sonnet’ form. This is slightly confusing as sonnets are usually associated with subjects such as love whereas Yeats has applied it to this poem – a brutal reflection from a violent event. The voice of the poem is Yeats himself, making it much more personal to him. This poem suggests that Zeus had swan-like features; “feathered glory”, “great wings”, “indifferent beak”. These show Zeus as a powerful animal that has the ability to pin down this poor woman and rape her like it’s…

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Leda and the Swan – W.B Yeats (symbol analysis)

The first sentence of this had me laughing so much! Love it 🙂

From Stage to Page..

The Swan…
The swan in this poem isn’t the kind of swan you can throw crackers to at your local pond. This swan came down to earth from Mount Olympus with a mission. That’s right, the swan is really the Greek god Zeus in disguise. As the poem progresses, we catch only glimpses of the bird’s swan-like features. He simply moves too fast and has too much single-minded focus for us to pin him down. Accordingly, the poem contains lots of synecdoche, where a part of the bird is used to represent the whole. Also, despite being a god, Yeats chooses to highlight the swan’s instinct and animal nature.The poem opens with an image of the swan descending on Leda. His “great wings” are the first thing described. Also the Swan’s “feathered glory” is described, probably meaning the swan’s genitals. (A “glory” is something associated with gods or the divine.)

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Birds of a Feather

‘Leda and the Swan’ is a poem by W.B. Yeats to show the effect of the abuse of power. It details the story of the Greek Myth of Leda and the Swan, in which Zeus (disguised as a swan) rapes Leda. The poem has 5 irregular stanzas, one of which is a dividing line which emphasises the pause which represents ejaculation. At the beginning of the poem there’s a regular rhyme scheme, but this disintegrates near the end to show Leda’s lack of control.

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The whole poem shows the birth of modern history. The events after this rape, the birth of Helen of Troy etc brought about the Trojan War, which was the end of ancient civilisation and the dawn of modern history. The poem shows that evil breeds evil, and that you can have sex without love.

The Swan is presented as dominating,violent and evil; this is a great contrast to the beautiful and peaceful representation of swans in other poetry. The Swan dominates and controls Leda, “let her drop”, this shows an abuse of power as the Swan is obviously strong, “great wings” and Leda is obviously weak, “terrified”, “staggering”, “helpless”. Yeats also uses dark imagery to represent the swan to show evil, “brute blood”, “dark webs”.

There’s a lot of subtle sexual language in this poem to represent the rape. Many of these are ambiguous, for example the “feathered glory” could represent the phallus of the Swan, but also Leda’s virginity, and the “white rush” could represent the Swan’s movement or the ejaculation. The use of sexual language and the language of war and conflict shows how the two could be related. The phrase the “broken wall” could represent Leda’s lost virginity. However put into context with the whole line “The broken wall, the burning roof and tower” brings about images of war and destruction, and the next line “And Agamemnon dead.” shows that it is in relation to the Trojan War.

“Wild Swans” is a name for freedom fighters, so the poem could be showing how the revolutionaries (the Swan) are ruining and controlling Ireland (Leda), yet through it new things could come, both bad (Trojan War) and good (Dawn of Modern civilisation). Leda has to lie and take the rape, like Ireland has to take British Rule. Thus the poem could reflect a whole variety of political issues.

There are also a variety of  Yeatsian traits in this poem. For example, at the beginning of the poem the words attract the readers attention immediately: “A sudden blow”. However in the context of the poem this also means the sudden attack of the Swan. This is used in other poems by Yeats’, such as ‘The Cold Heaven’: “Suddenly I saw…”. Yeats also uses many rhetorical questions to show his own doubt and make the reader think. The question at the end is also a Yeatsian trait, as many of Yeats’ poems end on a rhetorical question to leave a thoughtful final tone. This is also used in “The Second Coming”, “The Wild Swans at Coole”, and “The Cold Heaven”. 

Thanks for reading,

Jack

Swans Gonne Wild.

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‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ is a poem by W.B. Yeats once again lamenting due to his loneliness. It consists of 5 regular stanzas, with a regular rhyme scheme of ABCBDD. The couplet at the end seems odd when read, as the rhyme appears to be too early. This change in rhyme emphasises the changes in Yeats’ life. The voice of the poem is Yeats himself as he walks in the autumn to Coole park to observe the swans and reflect on the changes that have happened in his life since he was last there.

There is a lot of cold pastoral language in this poem, which gives it a natural feel, “autumn beauty”. Some of these phrases give the poem a cold feel, “Under the October twilight the water/Mirrors a still sky”. One of the phrases, “companionable streams” makes the reader think of companionship, and the relationship that the swans have with their home, the stream. The use of the word “companionable” makes the stream seem homely and welcoming, which contrasts with the rest of the poem. This could be to show how the swans feel about life in comparison to how Yeats feels.

Change is most definitely one of the main themes of this poem. Yeats is in Coole Park in the “autumn”, a time at which the leaves are changing colour. Yeats says that he counts the swans, and that the last time he had done this was nineteen years ago, “The nineteenth autumn has come upon me/Since I first made my count;”. Many things changed in the world in these 19 years, WW1 occurred, and closer to Yeats’ heart, the Irish Civil War. As well as this Yeats was realising that Maud Gonne would never love him. The idea of change is also presented with the idea of “wheeling in great broken rings” which makes the reader think of the ideas of gyres and the circle of life. The “rings” show change as they turn but are not complete. The word “broken” is ambiguous, and could mean a broken heart, a broken Ireland,  or even broken attitudes.

In contrast to Yeats’ life, Yeats observes that the swans have not changed, they still “paddle in the cold”. Unlike Yeats, “their hearts have not grown old” and the way Yeats writes this makes him sound almost jealous of the swans, almost bitter. The phrase “lover by lover” shows how the swans have companionship with each other, and Yeats may even be jealous of this fact. However Yeats’ loneliness is reflected in the phrase “nine-and-fifty swans”. The odd phrasing of this (most people would simply say fifty-nine) emphasises how one of these swans will be alone, just like Yeats. 

The last lines, “when I awake some day/To find they have flown away”, makes Yeats sound as if he has a sense of longing to go with the swans. This coupled with some of the lines earlier, may even make the reader feel that Yeats wants to be a swan, or whatever he feels the swan represents. Yeats wants to live life carefree, and move “lover by lover”, full of companionship, and yet this isn’t the case. The line shows there’s nothing left in Yeats’ life, and his diminished self and faded dreams. The swans could be parallel to Gonne, as she has left Yeats too, and Yeats doesn’t want that to happen again.

Thanks for reading,

Jack 

How to get emails when someone posts

Many people in the classes have had problems with WordPress, meaning they don’t get emailed when people put up blogs. I thought I’d put a quick and easy way of ensuring you DEFINITELY get the emails, without unfollowing and following via email.

1) Go to your reader, on the side bar there’s a button that says ‘Blogs I Follow’ – if you hover your cursor over it, next to it should appear a little ‘EDIT’ button. Click the ‘EDIT’ button.

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2) You now come to a list of the blogs you follow, underneath the names of each blog is a line of text, which might say:

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This means you don’t get emails.

3) Click the ‘EDIT’ button and you come to a drop down menu. Click “instantly” to ensure you get new posts,

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4) If you have done this successfully, underneath the name of the blog the text should now read:

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5) Repeat for ALL the blogs you want to get emails for.

Hope this is helpful!!

Jack

 

The End is Nigh… apparently.

“The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats is a poem about the apocalypse. It was written around the end of WW1, when lots of things were changing, and the world seemed to be changing so fast it was like Armageddon. Thus Yeats wrote this poem to show his thoughts on chaos, and how from all these bad things, even more bad could be coming. The new century was meant to be a bright and exciting new time, and yet everything seemed to be going so badly wrong. The tone of the poem is very pessimistic and confused, showing disorder. The use of both evil language “blood-dimmed”, and religious language, “Bethlehem” creates a confused feeling. The use of enjambment, the varying line lengths and lack of rhyme also adds to the idea of chaos. 

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Throughout the poem Yeats uses Biblical language to tie into the religious side of the apocalypse. ‘The Second Coming’ itself is a phrase to describe when Jesus will return and decide who goes to heaven. Yeats says:

“Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.”

The repetition of “surely” shows his doubt, as if he doesn’t know whether all the bad things happening means that the apocalypse is nigh. The whole phrase has overtones of prophetic grandeur. By saying ” some revelation” Yeats is referring to the book of Revelations in the Bible, in which the prophecy of the apocalypse is forseen by St John. Yeats references a verse of Revelations when he says “the blood-dimmed tide” – the verse stating that the star Wormwood would fall to earth and the waters turn to blood. This is an image filled with connotations of both religion and death – showing the nature of the apocalypse. Revelations is full of odd creatures, and this fact seems to be reflected by the line “A shape with lion body and head of a man” – obviously a reference the Egyptian Sphinx. The reference to the “desert sand” could refer to Jesus’ time in the desert where the devil tempted him.

The line “That twenty centuries of stony sleep” is a reference to Jesus being out of the world for twenty centuries. The word “stony” has connotations with Jesus’ resurrection – as the stone was rolled away from the tomb, and Jesus was not there. At the very end of the poem Yeats says:

“And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

This rhetorical question seems blasphemous – it is as if Yeats is describing Jesus as a “rough beast”. The effect of the word “slouching” adds to the image of a lazy rough beast. The use of the word “Bethlehem” reminds us of Jesus’ first birth – so maybe Yeats is trying to say that the Second Coming will not be pleasant, it will be a “rough beast” (looking at Revelations it definitely doesn’t seem like an optimistic time).

Yeats also uses references to the time he lives in falling “apart”. He states that “Mere anarchy is loose in the world” – maybe referencing the fall of the Tzars in Russia, or the World War. The use of the line “The falcon cannot hear the falconer” suggests disorder, and could be interpreted as a metaphor for mankind losing it’s connection with God. The use of the word “falcon” makes it sound refined, as only the upper classes would own falcons. Again the phrase “the centre cannot hold;” also suggests that mankind has lost it’s connection with the centre, the centre being a metaphor for God (as God is portrayed as the centre of life). Yeats suggests that everyone is guilty, that “innocence has drowned”.   

The first line, “Turning and turning in the widening gyre” could be interpreted in many ways. When I first read it I thought the word “turning” was a reference to the phrase, ‘turning in your grave’ – and thus the word was used ironically as according to Christian belief all of the dead leave their graves and rise to heaven during the apocalypse. However the “widening gyre” is a reference to the idea of gyres – something W.B Yeats was fascinated with, as he loved the spiritual and the occult. A gyre is a vortex, yet in the spiritual terms it’s the idea that lives pull in at death and then contribute to the next life – thus all the lessons learned in one life are used in the next. It is visualised as two cones, with the points touching to show the lives connected. Thus the word “turning” could be interpreted as a reference to the circle of life, and past lives.  

Thanks for reading,

Jack

 

 

My analysis of W. B. Yeats – ‘The Second Coming’

Love this!:)

Laura Turley

This poem was composed by Yeats in 1919, just at the end of the First World War (the ‘recovery’ period, if you like), and it was originally named ‘The Second Birth’. The poem is considered a major work of Modernist poetry and has been reprinted in several collections, including ‘The Norton Anthology of Modernist Poetry’.

The first stanza of the poem begins by describing the conditions present in the world, “Things fall apart”, “Mere anarchy”, and the second surmises from those conditions that a monstrous Second Coming is about to take place, not of the Jesus we first knew, but of a new messiah, a “rough beast,” the slouching sphinx rousing itself in the desert and lumbering toward Bethlehem. This brief exposition, though intriguingly blasphemous, is not terribly complicated; but the question of what it should signify to a reader is another story entirely.

As it was written post WW1, you would think…

View original post 1,083 more words

Come Fly with Me

‘An Irish Airman Forsees His Death’ by W.B. Yeats is a poem documenting the thoughts of Robert Gregory, an Irish airman who died in a plane crash in WW1. Robert Gregory was the son of Lady Gregory, Yeats’ patron – and she commissioned this poem in remembrance of her son.

It’s a very calm first person monologue, which shows RG’s  thoughts as he flies, the enjambment highlights how the poem is a collection of thoughts, yet the rhyme scheme shows how his thoughts are controlled – he isn’t panicking. Robert Gregory is shown as a real hero, as the Irish didn’t have to fight in WW1 – only volunteers were taken, and this makes the tragedy of his death even more poignant as he only went to fly. The tone at the beginning is solemn and peaceful, yet by the end he wonders about the meaning of life.

The poem starts with a statement, “I know that I will meet my fate Somewhere among the clouds above”. The use of the word “I” shows how the poem is personal, but the whole statement is calm. Gregory knows he will die in action. We can see that he isn’t in the war for ‘noble’ reasons to defend his country, he is there because he enjoys flying:

“Those that I fight I do not hate.

Those that I guard I do not love’

He shows that he is Irish, being from “Kiltartan”, the use of the word “Cross” could refer to his religion, highlighting that he didn’t have to go to war, as Irish Christians didn’t have to due to religious reasons. The use of the word “poor” contrasts where he lived to the rich nationalists of Ireland at the time.

Yeats distinguishes Gregory from the other fighters by saying “No likely end could bring them loss”. This shows that his impending death won’t affect the other fighters – making the reader empathise with Gregory’s situation. He also says that it wouldn’t “leave them happier” – showing that war has no outcome for him apart from the adrenaline of flying, to him there is no loss or win as it isn’t his fight. Yeats also shows that it isn’t his war by saying:

“Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,

Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,

This shows that he doesn’t fight for public praise or law. The repetition of ‘nor’ emphasises that there is no other reason than the “impulse of delight” of flying. The word ‘impulse’ makes it sound like a split second, spur of the moment decision, yet Gregory doesn’t seem to regret his decision.

The next few lines shows that he has contemplated life, “I balanced all”. The phrase gives the idea of scales, and weighing up both sides – Yeats seems to question the point of life and war. We see that he thinks that life isn’t needed, only the adrenaline of flying is – “The years to come seemed waste of breath, A waste of breath the years behind”. The repetition of “waste of breath” shows how Yeats (and maybe Gregory) thought that life was unnecessary, and the past and present is too, only life in the moment is real, and not ‘wasteful’.

The last line “In balance with this life, this death” shows that he thinks that both life and death have little point. This is the first time the word ‘death’ is used in the poem – addressing the main issue in the poem directly, almost as if Gregory has realised.

Thanks for reading,

Jack