Tuesday, 1 September 2015

The Enemy - V.S Naipaul. Self Discovery

Question: Explore the ways in which Naipaul presents Self Discovery in 'the Enemy'.

In 'The Enemy', Naipaul's presentation of a young boy who considers his "mother as the enemy", and his relationship with his father, and moving to live with his mother after his father's death as a journey of self-discovery.

Naipaul makes use of the conflict between a mother and her son to highlight the issues the boy has. The fits where he "couldn't take an order" form anyone and the fits when his "mother was anxious to be nice", are indicative of the issues the boy has with his mother moving away from his father. This element underpins the type of self discovery - that of belonging and family - that the boy experiences later.

Naipaul makes use of water as a symbol to indicate discovery or a keener sense of clarity. The water, coupled with a near-death experience serve to allow the boy to see more clearly. And while the "near-drowning" produces a well-written essay, the eventual outcome is further conflict with his mother after a brief moment of compassion. Therefore Naipaul uses the juxtaposition of the son "facing death calmly" with his father's "dying of fright" to highlight how both his father and the boy have issues with the mother and how the son's actions and reactions to his mother stem from the confrontational issue between his parents.

Eventually, when the second near-death experience reveals another revelation to the boy, after "water rushed over" his face, the boy find his mother crying and caring for him. And he realises that he cares for his mother too. Naipaul thus shows that the boy and his father are not alike, and the relationship with his mother does not have to be like the one between his parents. The boy realises this too, and the moment of clarity and self-discovery allow the boy to relinquish a sort of allegiance or childhood loyalty to his no dead father, to focus on his mother who cares for him.

Thus, Naipaul uses near-death experiences strengthened through the symbolic use of water as a catalyst, thus purveying clarity and rebirth to produce moments of the boy learning more about himself and his motives and feelings. Thus perhaps not in the traditional sense of self-discovery does Naipaul present the boy, but rather as an intricate relationship between aspects of family life, that are revealed gradually and thus awaken a keener sense of self from the boy.

Rough Mark: C+ (lacks clarity, could be more direct, yet good original attempt with some strong points raised)

Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Hollow of the Three Hills - Nathaniel Hawthorne. Self Discovery

Question: Discuss ways in which the story explores self discovery.

In 'The Hollow of the Three Hills', Hawthorne presents a "lady, graceful of form and fair of feature", "yet smitten with an untimely blight", meeting an old women in a setting that is not only mysterious, but through Hawthorne's placement of it in "strange old times", as supernatural and foreboding as well. Hence, it is this plot that revolves about this lady's decent into the Hollow to gain knowledge of the repercussions of her actions and that explores self-discovery.

Hawthorne's gradual change in description of the old women to "withered hag" and eventually "evil witch", strengthens the idea of the Hollow as a place of evil and death. The use of lore as the Hollow as "once a resort as a Power of Evil" and the physical setting of "masses of decaying wood" allow Hawthorne to highlight the lady's willingness to go to any lengths to find out what she desires to know. It should be pointed out that the ideas or knowledge she seeks is not necessarily that of furthering herself -self discovery, but rather that of knowledge pertaining to her loved ones. Consequently, it is the revelation of that knowledge in the form of visions that reveal a striking amount of the lady to the reader and indeed to the younger lady herself, thus through revisiting her actions and their repercussions,  the lady discovers something about herself.

 Additionally, Hawthorne presents the discovery in groups of threes and in three visions the lady learns of the repercussions of her sinfulness. The sin of "betraying the trusting fondness of her husband", her sins against her parents and ultimately, "leaving her child to die", are presented as visions after which the lady wishes to continue until she glimpses the fate of her child.

Throughout, Hawthorne foreshadows death, and the "doling of death bells" and "the funeral procession" of the lady's child prove to be the knowledge she dreads - for after the last vision, the lady "lifted not her head". Therefore, Hawthorne ambiguously crafts the revelation of this knowledge and her subsequent apparent death to indicate that either the knowledge itself, the burden of letting her child die, killed her or that the price to pay for attaining the knowledge through an evil and esoteric right is death.

Either way, Hawthorne presents a journey or a series of revelations of repercussions and subsequent self discovery overpowering the lady and the severity of the enlightenment contributing if not causing her death.

Example Essay: Rough mark (solid B)

Click here for an approach commenting on Suspense

The Hollow of the Three Hills - Nathaniel Hawthorne. Suspense

Essay Question: Comment on the ways Hawthorne develops suspense in The Hollow of the Three Hills.

Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The Hollow of the Three Hills' develops suspense in the very opening line as the "strange old times" introduces the unknown. This unknown is strengthened by Hawthorne's introduction of the concept of reality and fantasy merging into one, a setting in which "madmen's reveries" were "amongst the actual circumstances of life"; Hawthorne's use of a world of the abnormal, or rather, the supernatural is thus built. This combination of setting in time and the need for the story to be completed in "one hour" create anticipation; the time running out therefore builds suspense.

Furthermore, the use of a "decaying" and desolate setting contributes to the mystery: as "no mortal could observe them" in this place. Hawthorne creates an ominous mood through the use of negative metaphors and images referring to death. "Brown grass" and a hollow devoid of growth not only contribute to this mood but foreshadow events to come. Therefore, the dark and desolate mood not only accentuate the mystery but through the foreshadowing of the setting itself, its significance creates suspense.

This significance is strengthened by the placement of the hollow between "three hills" and thus Hawthorne develops a symbolic pattern to liken the hollow to being bellow the Holy Trinity, Heaven. This association of religion is brought about by the supernatural nature of the events unfolding, the references to an ethereal and almost otherworldly setting. The combination of Heaven and the "Power of Evil" that is felt in the hollow indicate a place between heaven and hell: a place of judgement - a purgatory of sorts. The symbolic significance of the hollow as a place of judgement of sin creates an anticipation and thus suspense as a feeling of impending judgement is strengthened.

The very style in 'The Hollow of the Three Hills' develops a sense of confusion and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Hawthorne's dense and impeccably crafted short story present various metaphors in every line, with symbolic patterns that interweave, developing a story that overwhelms just as the lady is overwhelmed.

The presence of sounds associated to visions and these associated apparitions fading into the wind of the hollow create confusion -  brought about by the suggestive nature of the associations that thus continue an ephemeral feel. The antithesis of these sounds in close position to each other strengthens the state of confusion. Hawthorne effectively juxtaposes many images and sounds to extend this feeling of confusion and thus the very style of writing therefore develops suspense through the same confusion felt by both the character and the reader.

Example Essay: rough mark (B)

Click here for an approach on  Self Discovery and Death

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Tempest - Prospero's portrayal

The Tempest by William Shakespeare is a play that presents many characters, each with different facets that are perceived differently by various readers. Some plays have cast Ariel as either male or female. Some plays more importantly have portrayed Prospero differently. This leads me to this blog post's question, how do you personally perceive Prospero? Here is an extract from an essay I wrote on how we, the reader, may perceive Prospero initially... "Prospero's initial story of how he, the rightful duke of Milan, was back-stabbed, cruelly usurped by his brother, Antonio, and his daughter, Miranda's initial carelessness of their story does draw some sympathy from the reader's part. However, once the reader recognises that Prospero is seeking revenge, the reader is left confused as to whom really does deserve sympathy as the balance of power is tipped firmly in Prosper's favour." Prospero is a complicated character, certainly an ambitious figure, harsh and demanding, certainly cruel as well as impatient and deeply troubled. He is shown to seek revenge and justice. This side of him draws no sympathy from the reader, coupled with the fact that Prospero neglected his people in Milan, giving the power to his brother, whom as all men seeking power would, realised he could have even greater power without his brother. Yet Prospero grows into a leader on the island who perhaps is seen to restore harmony and who aims to reconcile with his enemies. Shakespeare has undoubtedly created a very detailed character whom is open to interpretation. I would love to hear what you think of Prospero? Does he draw any sympathy from you?

Friday, 26 April 2013

IGCSE May/June Exam session

Good luck to all those writing their GCSE and IGCSE exams this session, hope you have prepared well so far and that the last week is super productive.

Sorry for the lack of further English summaries but unfortunately, I have to prep too.
Hope that the posts have been helpful, and earn those A*'s!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

More Short Story Summaries

This is a continuation from a previous post in which I briefly summarised 5 short stories.

6) The Custody of the Pumpkin - P.G Wodehouse (pg. 119)
This portrayal of an Earl, the Lord Emsworth highlights social class and society's perception of titles. Emsworth has a son who he is embarrassed about, who in his eyes will amount to nothing. This son, Freddie, wishes to marry Emsworth's gardener's cousin. Emsworth is outraged and fires his gardener who was probably the best in growing pumpkins (a pumpkin competition was one that Emsworth sorely wanted to win). The pumpkin starts to falter in its growth, and Emsworth need to win this competition to bring honour to his house, so he travels to London to find a new gardener. In London he finds his son who is planning to elope with his fiance. Emsworth is outraged and goes to the gardens to gather his thought, there he picks a flower and attracts the attention of the authorities and a large crowd. His former gardener and his Freddie's  fiance's father, save him from further embarrassment, and he realises that his son is marrying into money.

7) The Rain Horse - Ted Hughes (pg. 271)
The author poetically describes many aspects of this story. This story involves a man returning home, feeling unwelcome as he treads across the hills to his childhood upbringing. As he trudges through the muddy hills, he encounters an unnaturally behaving, black horse. This horse appears to be aggressively stalking him and the relentless grey rain drives him to act and ask insane questions of himself. After scaring off the horse, the man appears to fall apart mentally. This leaves the reader wondering if the horse was even present or just a figment of a disillusioned man's imagination.
Further information in an essay styled question

8) Sandpiper - Ahdaf Soueif (pg 370)
This story highlights the cultural differences as the author depicts a western woman and an Arab man, and their growing apart in the face of the woman being unable to be accustomed to his homeland, completely foreign to her. The couple's name's aren't mentioned and the author portrays their daughter, Lucy, as the reason for holding the woman back. There are themes of fading love, growing progressively apart.
An essay question and its answer providing great information on this short story
A response to a reader's question

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

My Privacy Policy

Here at Relevant Now (relevant-now.blogspot.com), while I provide you willingly with free information that I hope you can use to further yourself intellectually, there are certain things that I am obliged to disclose. I stumbled upon the need for a Privacy Policy over at TentBlogger, so follow that link to see the importance of this policy yourself.

Primarily, this post primarily entails a Privacy Policy which basically just tells you, the reader, that there is certain generic information that is captured by search engines and third party analytic tools from your visits. Since I am looking to include Google Adsense on this blog, according to their policies, I should stipulate the use of their system, but it is not only for that reason why I am writing this post. I am looking to further this blog, providing information to more readers, and thus it is only responsible for me to abide by the laws and other 'blogging practices' to stipulate the use of cookies and logs. All information is not linked to anything personally identifiable.
Not these Cookies, even though they do look decent!

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