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EvangelionZeta

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Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« on: November 04, 2010, 09:41:42 pm »
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Like the English equivalent, I think it's useful to have a compilation of Literature exam essays for the masses to use as models.  So here goes!  Please contribute.
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EvangelionZeta

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2010, 09:42:08 pm »
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Hamlet:
Passage One: Act 1 Scene 3, Lines 60-91
Passage Two: Act 3 Scene 2, Lines 300-342
Passage Three: Act 5 Scene 1, Lines 140-173

Passage Two foregrounds the disingenuous figures at court, exemplifying within the figures of Guildenstern and Polonius the false appearances of Denmark.  Polonius’ inconsistency in proclaiming “It is backed like a weasel…very like a whale” unveils the inherent hollowness of his persona; he is, as seen here, directly contradicting his own plea for authenticity in Passage One, in the process immersing himself within the disingenuous fabrication pervading Denmark.  The rigid language of court in “O my lord, if my duty be too bold” furthermore embodies within Guildenstern a discrepancy between the interior of his thoughts and the exterior of his behaviour: Shakespeare is characterising the spy’s very persona as an inconsistency, lacking in the depth of certainty found in Hamlet’s encounters with death in the third passage.  Between the two of these figures, what is hence established is the nature of Denmark in the wider universe of Hamlet; the audience understands that in such a forcibly contracted world, the essence of integrity and meaning is lost, resulting in a universe caught in the confines of its own darkness.  

Parallel to this vision of Denmark’s court, the enigmatic behaviour of Hamlet signifies the ambiguity of observation.  At one level, Hamlet’s feigned madness in declaring “it is as easy as lying” is ironically emblematic of truth; although he is merely mocking Guildenstern, Hamlet’s statement encapsulates the state of his own persona, with there being little truth to be discerned in his behaviour in the presence of others.  In contrast, with the stage directions “exeunt all but Hamlet”, the audience is given a glimpse of the Dane unmasked, with the poetry in “’Tis now the very witching time of night” embodying the contrast between his solitary truthfulness and the inane prose of his acting.  Thus, the audience is made aware that it is only in the interior realm of the soul – without the need for pretence – that the essence of the individual emerges.

With the outraged expression “Why, look upon you, how unworthy a thing you would make of me!”, the audience is again confronted by the visage of a man whose anger at the world is centralised in an attempt at forced understanding.  In the greater scheme of Hamlet, what is thus established is the sublime intricacies of reality beyond the scope of empirical apprehension: in having Hamlet speak the words “You would pluck out the heart of my mystery”, Shakespeare is alerting to his audience the mystery of not only Hamlet, but also of life itself, in a universe which obfuscates its subjects through the acting of Polonius, Guildenstern, and even Hamlet in the company of others.  With Hamlet’s understanding of death in Passage Three in mind, as well as Polonius’ ironic pleas for self-expression in the first passage, what Passage Two hence illuminates is the need for metaphysics and a retreat into realms beyond the scope of physical interaction.  Only with transcendence into a world beyond the banalities of empiricism – as Hamlet exemplifies – can mankind fully comprehend its own universe.

Akin to Passage Two, Passage One envisions the corruption of Denmark, marking within the hypocrisy of Polonius the defiling forces of the state.  Overgeneralised aphorisms such as “Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar” are essentially characteristic of Denmark’s inherent ambiguity; as Shakespeare depicts, this is a landscape which fails to recognise the essence of humanity’s multifarious capabilities, reducing its subjects’ individuality to the extent where Hamlet truly believes he is an avenger in his declaration in the second passage “Now could I drink hot blood”.  Polonius’ attempts at tempering Laertes’ actions are also paralleled by Laertes’ own subordination of Ophelia in “remember well/what I have said to you”: Polonius and Laertes are constricting the truthfulness of others, in effect leading to desperation and madness as the action of Hamlet progresses.  With the arrival on-stage of “the corpse of Ophelia” in the third passage, what Shakespeare is hence relating to his audience is the nature of a universe where order is forcibly exacted upon the individual; with the ultimate demise of all three characters in Passage One, the audience understands that the fate of Denmark’s inhabitants in this sort of world can only be fruitless.  

Paradoxically, however, Polonius’ aphorisms encapsulate what should essentially be the case.  With the statement “Beware/Of entrance to a quarrel”, the audience is made to recognise where human expression should truly lie, for in the greater world of Hamlet, it is the moderation of the self’s excess – embodied in Hamlet’s acceptance of his own mortality in the third passage – which serves as the facilitator for personal flourishing.  Moreover, with the maxim “To thine own self be true”, what is unravelled is the nature of the tragedy of Hamlet: in essence, the prolonged revenge of Hamlet and the final deaths of the majority of the case are brought about by an inability to remain as one’s self, with the majesty of Hamlet’s reflections in the third passage clearly standing as the superior to the falseness of Passage Two.  Thus, human flourishing is intrinsically dependent on a level of both self-awareness and self-fulfilment, something the audience is all too ready to accept as Hamlet finally comes to embrace his humanity at the play’s denouement.  

In contrast to the horrors of Passage One and Two, Passage Three envisions transcendence in the contemplative visage of Hamlet.  Compounding “imagination” and “My gorge rises at it” alerts to the audience that Hamlet has finally embraced both the marvels of thought and the necessary boundaries of the physical realm; here, Shakespeare is depicting a completed man, whose comprehension of his universe is fully developed.  With the reflection “To what base uses we may return”, however, the audience understands another aspect of this new person, for it is only with an acceptance of his mortality – and particularly, the futility of life’s final resting – that Hamlet has come to this state.

Simultaneously, however, Shakespeare envisions within the final reflection of Hamlet a greater realm in the conception of death.  In the almost eulogic “A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy”, what Shakespeare portrays to his audience is something akin to the afterlife, living in the words of others.  The poetic reflections “Alexander returneth to dust” and “Imperious Caesar” furthermore accentuate the notion that the post-mortem persona is limitless: beyond the boundaries of actual living, the world of death is one where humanity’s potential for resplendence is realised, and where man may become akin to legend.  

With the backdrop of Denmark’s court – “the King, the Queen, the courtiers” – still present, Shakespeare is hence envisioning within the contrast between corruption and transcendence the wonders of human existence – ironically, the meaningless end of death.  Hamlet, in reconciling his mind with the greater forces of his universe, has been brought to a state of heightened awareness; now, more than ever, he is nobler than the Laertes he himself pronounces “a very noble youth”, acting as not merely a man, but also one whose mind is attuned to the more profound nature of reality.  And as the audience witnesses, Hamlet is finally taken in this state to the zenith of his existence, for in acknowledging death, mankind’s soul is simultaneously finite and infinite, even in the ultimate quietus of silence.  
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EvangelionZeta

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2010, 09:48:03 pm »
+5
Emma
Passages based on CSE 2009 Practice Exam

Across the entirety of Passage Two, Austen explores the defilement of social intercourse through the characterisation of the gauche Mrs. Elton.    The ironic certainty of Mrs. Elton’s appraisal of Maple Grove’s alleged beauty in “yes, I am quite aware of that” elucidates the overbearing nature of her persona; unlike the gentle Emma’s consideration for Mr Woodhouse in the third passage, Mrs. Elton is seen by the reader as aggressive in enforcing her beliefs upon the greater world around her, a behaviour clearly constructed by Austen as comical and incongruent with the expectations of gentility within 19th century society.  Repetitious allusions to “the Maple Grove” and “The laurels at Maple Grove” furthermore signify the socially distortive outside presence which Mrs. Elton’s persona represents; she is effectively establishing within her language her alienation from the Highbury setting surrounding her, threatening the stability of the societal structures around her merely with her words.  With the declaration “Every body who sees it is struck by its beauty”, what Austen is thus illuminating is not merely a figure worthy of satire, but one who inappropriately exaggerates the independence of Emma within Passage Three in making universal what is merely individual thought; it is such behaviour which demands the reader’s censure across the entirety of Emma, with the novel as a whole lambasting the inversion of social norms as tearing apart the fabric of societal cohesion in Regency England. 

Simultaneously, the juxtaposition between Emma and Mrs. Elton indicates the merits of character which Emma appraises.  In describing Emma as making “as slight a reply as she could”, in contrast to Mrs. Elton’s lengthy ramblings, the reader understands that Emma is in fact taking the superior position in the conversation by exercising a tactful moderation in her effort to ease the tension of the situation.  And it is this sort of behaviour which Austen depicts as integral to well-roundedness of being, with the simplicity of the statement “Emma doubted the truth of this sentiment” expressing an insightfulness mirroring that which permeates Passage Three, in the form of the sagacious Knightley.    Indeed, Emma’s balanced consideration “Many counties, I believe, are called the garden of England” invokes not only an imagery of intellect, but also a landscape beyond the confines of the immediate setting: Emma, in acknowledging the beauty of not only Highbury, but also of England as a whole, brings herself to a closer alignment with the civil unity which Austen portrays as so intrinsic to individuals in the framework of such a rich, flourishing society.    This is essentially the acknowledgement which acts as Emma’s eventual completion, with the happiness of marriage alluded to within the third passage not merely being the union of romance, but also the resplendent union between Emma’s creative independence and her recognition of the ties of her relationships in the world of Emma.

Against the awkward figure of Mrs. Elton, what Emma herself embodies then is all that is good in the nature of human intercourse, acknowledging the value in appropriate behaviours and disdaining that which serves only to undermine it.  Of course, as alluded to in Passage One, Emma’s being celebrated as a character is in part a result of her “active, busy mind”; beyond this however, the descriptor “Emma was silenced” perfectly exemplifies why Emma is yet the greater in contrast to the similarly creatively independent Mrs. Elton, for in her intelligence, she has also acknowledged the importance of propriety.  Austen is characterising within this vision of Emma a moderate and compassionate individual, and one whose being rests in allowing for social easiness, as reflected in her promoting “the happiness of all” in Passage Three.  And it is in this that Austen alludes to the flourishing of human society as a whole, for in the removal of the personal self to the societal self, an otherwise unattainable harmony is achieved; lest societal disorder eventuate, what is necessary is the individual’s recognition of its place as but only one of many inhabitants in the landscape of civilisation.

In contrast to her more measured appearance in Passage Two, Passage One colours the vivacity of Emma’s character, signifying in her independent persona a progressive vision of womanhood.  With the declaration “I believe few married women are half as much mistress…as I am”, the reader recognises that Emma stands as exceptional within the context of Regency England; even within the context of Emma as a whole, she is the only single woman capable withstanding the pressures of a life without marriage, and it is in crafting Emma’s character thus that Austen allows for Emma’s creativity to surface, overcoming the barriers of her gender’s seeming impotence.   Of course, there is an irony to be found in Emma’s articulating “if I were to marry, I must expect to repent it”; with the ultimate conclusion of marriage in the third passage, it is clear that this resolution will be broken, reflecting that Austen is not wholeheartedly supporting an isolated, necessarily unmarried vision of her heroine, whose statement “it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible” seems as out of touch as her realisation for Knightley’s love.    Instead, within the course of Emma, what appears to be celebrated is a heroine capable of exercising her free will, whose disdain for societal expectations allows her the true liberty which human existence demands. 

Parallel to this, the damning visions of Miss Bates provided throughout the first passage accentuate the reader’s understanding of Regency England’s rigidity.  The almost aphoristic statement “A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous…old maid” characterises the similarly near-ubiquitous expectations of society; as Austen constructs, this is a civilisation which assesses character through circumstance, where women in particular are caught within claustrophobic confines due to a preoccupation with the superficiality of class and gender.  With the excessive adjectives in “so silly – so satisfied – so smiling”, and so forth, the clouded nature of Emma’s – and society’s - judgement is further emphasised: unlike the vulgar Mrs. Elton of Passage Two, Miss Bates is a comparatively docile and kindly individual, deserving of none of Emma’s unruly scorn.  That Miss Bates is “very much to the taste of everybody” is qualified with “though single and though poor” thus reflects to the reader the inverted state of such a society: for the rightful state of humankind’s civil order to be established, what is necessary is a reversal from Regency England, to a world where character is judged by what people are, rather than what they seem. 

What Emma is lambasting then is not merely the fundamental social order of 19th century England, but also the prevalent attitudes towards the understanding of individuals.  Emma’s decision to never marry is paradoxically ironic, and yet not; in relation to the scope of her fate in Passage Three, Emma is right to consider Mr. Woodhouse “must not class her with Isabella and Mrs. Weston”, for in declaring “Fortune I do not want”, Emma is ensuring that her love comes from the interior of her heart, rather than from the necessity of women in society to marry.  Moreover, it is worthwhile to consider that even in marriage, Emma remains independent, with the physical image of her “not going form Hartfield” symbolically expressing her maintenance of individuality as herself; it is this which gains Emma the reader’s admiration, for Austen is allowing within this expression of personal affirmation a sight of perfection, beyond the confines of a society static and unrefined.  Hence, the fundamental values of Emma lie in the construction of the individual: Emma’s talent is indicative of Austen’s desire for an understanding of the self, and in Emma’s independence, what is offered is not simply progression, but authenticity. As Austen depicts, attention must be paid first and foremost to the soul and the interior; it is only with this that the majesty of humanity will be revealed.
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Eriny

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2010, 01:02:06 pm »
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I have posted some old essays I wrote on the 'notes' section of the site (on Judith Wright and A.S. Byatt - are they actually still on the curriculum?)

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2010, 01:58:18 pm »
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I am hesitant to put mine up, as my essays pale greatly in comparison to yours, but nevertheless, here is an essay on Harwood's poetry. I'd post a Hedda Gabler one but seeing as it's off the course next year I don't see the point.

Mother Who Gave Me Life, The Secret Life of Frogs and Nightfall

Harwood’s poetry at times shows us elements of regret for past events and we see this in passage one, which is the poem Mother Who Gave Me Life. In the opening stanza of passage one, Harwood writes ‘forgive me the wisdom I would not learn from you.’ By Harwood using the word ‘would’, it implies that it was actually possible to learn from her mother, but she simply chose not to at the time. This is later confirmed when she writes about ‘wild daughters becoming women.’ The ‘wild’ daughters that she refers to suggests a naivety at the time, especially due to the now more mature tone that she says this in. We also see this when she talks of the ‘anguish of seasons burning backwards through time.’ Harwood’s use of the word ‘anguish’ is evocative in that it presents a yearning to turn back time and return to when young, so that she may learn more ‘wisdom’ from her mother. This is also shown through the line break between ‘burning’ and ‘backward’, as it literally forces the reader’s eyes back across the page, almost moving backwards in thought, too. This continues towards the end of the poem when Harwood writes of the ‘ward door of heavy glass between us’, for the heavy glass also symbolises that the narrator is unable to change what has happened, and thoroughly regrets it. This is also confirmed when she writes of how the mother’s face ‘crumpled, fine threadbare linen.’ The imagery that Harwood uses here also evokes a sense of sympathy towards the mother, but in doing so, she also highlights a new-found respect, due to the mature tone of voice that is used throughout.

The idea of respect is also carried through in the poem Nightfall, and this is particularly evident when she asks ‘who can be what you were?’ In doing so, the poet illustrates to us that the father cannot be simply replaced. Also, when she goes on to write ‘link your dry hand in mine, my stick thin comforter’, she creates a quiet, melancholy but still respectful feel, through her use of assonance with the repeated ‘i’ sounds. The fact that he is a ‘comforter’ also shows us how much respect the narrator has for the father, due to the connotations of the word. Also, when Harwood writes that ‘sunset exalts in its known symbols of transience,’ Harwood again highlights an element of respect and in doing so, shows us how age has its own beauty, especially through the words ‘exalts’ and ‘transience’. Harwood’s use of the verb ‘exalts’ evokes a positive image in one’s mind, due to the positive nature of such a word. This is also confirmed when Harwood writes ‘old king, your marvellous journey’s done.’ Her use of the phrase ‘old king’ again shows the extent of the respect that she has for her father, especially combined with the adjective ‘marvellous’ as marvellous is a word that also evokes a positive image in one’s mind.

In Mother Who Gave Me Life and Nightfall, we see elements of domesticity. In the closing lines of Nightfall, Harwood writes of the ‘path on which you turn home’, which is a theme that is also followed in passage one. The elements of domesticity in Mother Who Gave Me Life are more prominent, as the poem is about a mother. By comparing the mother’s face to that of ‘fine threadbare linen’, she helps to fix in our mind how strongly the theme of domesticity is placed, especially given the mature tone of voice in which this is said.

In The Secret Life of Frogs, Harwood juxtaposes the theme of innocence with a more mature tone of voice now as an adult. The placement of the opening stanza visually reminds us of the two different tones of voice we hear, which is an effect which we also see in her poem The Violets. When Harwood writes in the opening stanza how the frog’s heartbeat ‘troubles’ her warm hand, she forewarns the reader of the events to come in the poem. This is further accentuated when she rhymes the word ‘hand’ with ‘land. Because this is the first rhyme we see in the poem, it helps to draw attention to the words being said in the phrase, and it also helps to create an element of nostalgia, which is a theme that we sometimes see in Harwood’s other poems, such as the Class of 1927 set.

In stanza two, when Harwood writes how they ‘knew about atrocities’, there is still an element of innocence revealed, even though Harwood uses a strong adjective such as ‘atrocities’. When Harwood writes about how some syllables were used ‘as charms’ like Passchendaele, Mons and Gallipoli, we can see that as children they did not quite understand the magnitude and significance of the words they said, especially as they are used when the true connotations are rather the opposite. This occurs later in the poem, when Harwood tells of ‘poor George’, as while he was in a brothel, ‘every frog in the house was killed’. This example of an ‘atrocity’ is significant, for at the time, the girls did not understand the true meaning, mistakenly believing a brothel served ‘hot broth’, which highlights the innocence the narrator had at the time, contrasted with the grim realities of being an adult. Harwood’s use of the word ‘thought’ indicates how she now believes otherwise, and it shows a more mature manner of thinking.
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iffets12345

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2010, 11:40:14 pm »
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Stasiland, because I know how obscure it is. It's not that good though.

In Funder’s Stasiland, there is no conclusive resolution for captives of the GDR, only a stark and brutal reality. Funder’s detailed, heavy recounts of German history in Passage One early in the text envelope her reader in an atmosphere of the German mentality, her inter-cutting narrative providing the irony the Western outsider can perceive. This interlacing of a dual reality, one defined by Eastern principle, the other by Western, manifests itself in Passage 2 where Funder’s emotions fail to reconcile themselves with images of “medals under glass” and the dubiously immortalized Stasi memorabilia. What succeeds in cutting through this confusion of the GDR regime is the ultimatum between moral choice and obedience seen in Frau Paul’s decision, the “no right answer” explicating the uncertainty in assessing the subjective consequences of choice against a backdrop of political pressure to conform.

Funder’s contrast of the Stasi memorabilia against the permanency of Frau Paul’s emotional pain serve to poignantly capture the chilling consequences of the GDR regime. The finality of “there was no right answer here” juxtaposed against the stale “white plaster mask of Lenin” illustrate how despite the Stasi’s disbandment, the psychological trauma inflicted transcends any “memento mori” or physical act that had occurred. Funder’s depiction of “brave woman” Frau Paul is heartfelt, the narrative concentrating on “tears” and the “spasm of pain”, centralizing Paul’s plight as a victim to the reader without any euphemisms. The alliteration in “guilt wracked wreck:” emphasizes Paul’s psychological torment as poor “resistance to damage”, one that the reader has difficulty in reconciling with the placid “sacks and sacks of paper.” The coexistence of an empty Stasi headquarters with the living pain of sufferers like Frau Paul parallels the general nature of the text- it is the seeming indifference of old Stasi members like Bock which is so like the static “old lounge chairs…television” set that represent horrors of the past in such a disturbing simplicity. Funder’s narrative propels the reader’s unease of such, as her unmoved observations of Mielke’s rooms are a stark difference to the “quiet mixture of disgust and sadness” noted elsewhere amongst demonstrators. A microcosm for the greater paradox of East Germany, “not knowing whether you want to laugh or throw up” merely captures the tumultuous emotions in living through such contradictory society.

Hence Funder explores the variations in the human condition amidst pressure to conform. Paul’s adamant “absolute no” in response to being an informer is depicted tragically by Funder as “she does not look like a woman who was saved from anything.” Despite such difficulty in coping, Funder contests that it is precisely this will to have “the courage to do the right thing” amongst great external pressure that truly celebrates the strengths in humanity, promoting pursuit of morality to the reader. Opposing this is the disparaging portrayal of the Stasi psychologist in passage 2, whose inability to “bat an eyelid” and Funder’s credulous repetition of his words, “stuff like that” earn the reader’s scorn. That Paul’s suffering in Passage 3 is condensed into the colloquial “stuff” sparks reader outrage, as the desensitization of those who conform grates terribly against the reality of victims and “why they didn’t get into university, why they couldn’t find a job, or which friend told Them”. The willingness of people to inform on their country mean” becomes centred by Funder as something unique to the East German psyche, as the question of obeying the GDR “comes down to something in the German mentality.” Seen in Herr Christian’s belief in abiding by laws, Funder thus highlights how the cultural “drive for order and thoroughness” becomes manipulated by political forces in order to attain power of civilians, while the individual battles of those like Paul and Koch demonstrate how human spirit permeates collective social conditioning.

Difficulties in reconciling the past mentality of the GDR with the present, westernized world of freedom are captured in the conflict between Funder’s emotions and those of others around her. While Funder is appalled by the sheer magnitude of “173,000 informers”, the declaration “I lived normally” by the cleaning woman in passage 2 illustrates the stark disparity between the western reader’s understanding of the world and secular East German society. That the cleaning woman metaphorically “can’t get these tables clean” alludes to how she “gives up on [Funder]” and the inability in reaching an understanding with non-Ossis, her mentality still entrenched in the relativity of the GDR regime. Such comparisons of the past and present manifest in Funder’s viewing of the videotape in Passage 2, where she mulls “there is no parallel in history” for the incredulous events in the GDR until the “footfall” of the cleaning woman’s interruption bring Funder to the present, an incoherent break in Funder’s narrative rhythm equaling the general confused state of present Germany after it’s historic yet tumultuous events. Similarly, though Frau Paul may feel triumph for her moral strength, that “she is now, for her principles” a sad figure in the present illustrates how the nature of East Germany, molded from GDR doctrine, transcends time until it becomes a paradox of nostalgic, stifled “fifties yellow-green colour” coupled with contradictory, tentative movements of freedom in being “entitled to know the real names of the Stasi officers and informers who spied on you.” Funder’s description of East Germany in such a misfit manner, where empty “quarters” “of well-kept impoverishment” exist as testament to a past still pervasive in the mentality of the Ossis, portray to the reader East Germany as an anachronism still in a healing transition.

Stasiland reveals the inner incoherencies amongst a country superficially labeled as war-torn and suffering from dictatorship. Funder, in her contemplative narrative suggests to the reader that underneath such preconceptions lies a complex psychological framework struggling to evolve amidst the developing Westernized present. As Passage 2 and 1 mix the physicality of history with the present emotions of the Ossis, Funder illustrates how the GDR’s regime has resulted in either the desensitization of its civilians or psychological trauma for those dissidents. It is the reality of Frau Paul’s emotional turmoil that illustrates the extent of the GDR’s regime’s destructive tendencies, as the stark angst of her maternal and moral instincts are unable to reconcile with the external pressures of the Stasi.  The dichotomy of Funder’s cold, observant outlook on the GDR and her passionate descriptions of its victims’ plights contribute to her portrayal of East German as a broken body with unsteady foundations.
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simpak

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2010, 08:52:51 am »
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PM me for essays on A Passage to India or Chekhov's Three Sisters.

I would post them up but I kind of sold them to TSFX and signed a 'I will not distribute these on the internet' contract :3
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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2010, 03:18:18 pm »
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excuse this post, but does anyone have any sort of piece on the Lady with the little dog? That would literally be great if anyone did...just saying..:P

selina77

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2010, 10:47:13 pm »
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I know that this may not be up to the high standard of previously posted essays but I thought I'd post it anway so people can see a different structure...my paragraphs are quite short! This is just a random essay I found...don't judge me on it haha
Hamlet:
Act 4 Scene 1 (1-45 area)
Act 4 Scene 3 (sort of between lines 20- 63)
Act 4 Scene 5 (25-55)

Claudius’ remark “thy loving father, Hamlet” establishes his duplicitous nature and alludes to the wider context of feigned identity in Shakespeare’s play. The dramatic irony of this comment lies with the audience’s knowledge of Claudius’ cunning plan to warrant Hamlet’s execution in England – a journey that is diplomatically disguised as a gesture of parental concern. Indeed, Claudius’ true rejection of Hamlet as a son is demonstrated in passage 3 when he casts responsibility for Hamlet onto Gertrude, as “your son” which is a direct contradiction of previous references to “my son”. Ophelia’s insightful exclamation in her madness that “we know not what we may become” epitomises Shakespeare’s elucidation to the myriad of roles each character adopts, in particular, Hamlet’s “antic disposition”.

Despite the superficial acquiescence between Claudius and Hamlet in passage 1, Shakespeare hints at their underlying conflict by utilising contradictory statements. The nature imagery of “fiery quickness” is juxtaposed with “coldly set” in order to reflect the simmering tension between two men in conflict with each other. Furthermore, their controlled yet obvious contempt for one another is emphasised in Claudius’ double entendre “so is it if thou knew’st thy purposes”, as this statement carries a sinister reference to Hamlet’s planned execution in England.

However, they share a mutual fascination with the “undiscovered country” of death, as Claudius mulls over the consequences of his mortal sins in his soliloquy. This fear similarly predisposes Hamlet to rationalise existence, as the opposition of “burning zone” and “snow” metaphorically symbolises his inability to comprehend the relationship between hell and heaven. Shakespeare suggests that Hamlet’s efforts are fruitless, as Ophelia’s statement “no words” coupled with the recurrent phrase “no more” is indicative of mankind’s inability to derive definite answers from human experience on earth.

Shakespeare utilises convoluted language in Hamlet’s speech to reflect his internal confusion and contempt for Claudius, however, there seems to be “method in this madness”. His view that “man and wife is one flesh” possibly provides an explanation for his concern with “my mother” and her marriage to Claudius, as he views their sexual relationship as a way of fuelling the “contagion” and corruption of Gertrude’s own soul. Hamlet exhibits similar distress towards Ophelia’s involvement in the corruption of the state, as she represents a “Rose of May” planted in an “unweeded garden” bound for submission to a world that is “rank and gross in nature”. Thus, Hamlet’s belief that the women in his life have been corrupted by a “rotten” society causes him to admire Ophelia’s virtues in the past tense when he exclaims “I loved Ophelia” and “I loved you ever”.

Whilst providing the audience with insights into his spiritual dilemma, Hamlet’s madness appears to momentarily transform into a genuine “antic disposition” following his murder of Polonius. Shakespeare dramatically contrasts the trap of Polonius waiting behind the arras with Hamlet’s own existential crisis and perceptions of Denmark as a “prison” to represent the culmination of his tormented soul. Claudius’ speech “delay it not” and “quickness” further exemplifies the gradual expression of the fury established in Hamlet’s first soliloquy. Indeed, Hamlet begins to “make haste” and becomes consumed by his initially feigned madness in the callous murder of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Shakespeare is perhaps highlighting the fine line between performing and eventually embodying one’s pretences, once again reminiscent of Ophelia’s line “know what we may not be”.

Although Hamlet’s “distracted globe” overshadows his rational thought, fulfilling his desire to “empty the book and volume of my brain”, the resurrection of his rational mind displays the prevailing identity of “I Hamlet, the Dane”. In contrast, Ophelia’s madness is permanent and pure in its domination over her passive soul. Her nonsensical song is indicative of the trauma induced by “dead and gone” love, as her father is slain at the hand of Hamlet who is “gone” for England. Furthermore, Hamlet’s use of personal pronouns such as “I see” is not evident in Ophelia’s speech, as she is dependent upon another identity “I…at your window”, “I your true love” and “your Valentine”. She seems to have succumbed to her objectification from Polonius, as he spoke to her in terms of  “sterling” commodities. Thus, Shakespeare creates an image of a woman submitting to the whims of others, adding significance to her promise to “obey my lord”. 

Shakespeare’s Hamlet explores the devastating consequences of individual turmoil and its effects on society as a whole. Whilst Hamlet recovers from his ephemeral madness, the “fair” and virtuous Ophelia is “poisoned” by the corruption of her society. By ending Hamlet’s life when he finally begins to accept the ambiguity of existence, Shakespeare suggests that Denmark’s debauched nature eradicates all “noble” qualities in men. Claudius, as the definitive representation of corruption, voices Shakespeare’s view of a society desperately seeking salvation through his plea for a remedy to “cure me”.
Literature tutoring for 2011: http://vce.atarnotes.com/forum/index.php/topic,35512.0.html

2009: Business Management [49]
2010: Literature [50], Media [46], English [44], Philosophy [41], Maths Methods [34]
ATAR: 99.4

Slumdawg

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2010, 10:58:09 pm »
+1
^ Modesty at its finest ^ :)
2010 ATAR: 98.35 - Psychology [50] Media Studies [47
2011-'13: Bachelor of Biomedicine [Neuroscience Major] at Melbourne Uni 
2014-'17: Doctor of Medicine (MD) at Melbourne Uni 


Winter

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2010, 02:25:23 pm »
+1
^Agreed

These essays are amazing

selina77

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2010, 02:28:04 pm »
0
or realism at its finest haha
Literature tutoring for 2011: http://vce.atarnotes.com/forum/index.php/topic,35512.0.html

2009: Business Management [49]
2010: Literature [50], Media [46], English [44], Philosophy [41], Maths Methods [34]
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Menang

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2010, 02:29:44 pm »
+1
I've only scanned through these essays, but they're all amazing.
/stunned/

Thanks posting these, I'm sure it'll be massive help for next year (especially the Hamlet ones :D)

aznboy50

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2010, 08:45:17 pm »
0
Hi, just a general request for essays on:

-Chinatown
-Cloudstreet
-Lady with the Little Dog
-Gwen Harwood Poetry
-Margaret Atwood- Moral Disorder
-Brian Friel- Freedom of the City

Especially if anyone has 'Considering alternate viewpoints' essays.

All help would be appreciated.

Thank you!!!

ieatcrayons

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Re: Literature Essay Compilation Thread
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2011, 05:48:24 pm »
+1
Adaptions and transformations, comparison of Accidental death of an Anarchist, Dario Fo and the BBC4 production by the same name.


Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist responds to events unfolding in Italy in the 1960/70’s. Generally, it looks at police corruption and scandal. More specifically, it addresses the actual death of an anarchist who was being held in police custody following the bombing of a Milan bank. The text conveys these main concerns through the satirical characterisation of authority figures, audience alienation, indirect references and use of slapstick comedy.  Gavin Richards’ 1984 television adaption in of the play maintains the same main concerns and messages accentuated by Richard’s own portrayal of the Maniac, despite major structural changes to the play’s ending.

One of the major concerns Accidental Death addresses is politics and scandal. Italy was at a point of political turmoil - the nation desired change and Fo was advocating achieving this through revolution, the radical restructuring of society, as opposed to reform, the perfecting of existing policy and structure. Fo’s ideals regarding this desired change are evident towards the play’s end, when the Maniac refers to scandal as “the fertiliser of social democracy”,  implying is that scandal may result in reforms but never to true revolutionary change and that it is a tool utilised to by the government to keep the people happy and avoid revolution. Fo further emphasises this message by combining laugher with a sense of strong injustice towards authority, portraying the police characters in a humorous way, ridiculing their hierarchy of power and using slapstick humour – such as the action of the maniac blowing a raspberry to the fourth floor inspector- to help the working class audience the play was geared towards connect with this political message he was attempting to convey. Fo was advocating revolution in Accidental Death; one of the plays primary concern was politics, specifically, police corruption.

Politics and scandal is also a main concern of the Gavin Richards’ production, which further emphasises the satire of authority figures, primarily through the character of the Maniac. The Maniac is the pivotal character in Accidental Death of an Anarchist. , eclipsing all other characters in every sense. He directly mirrors the manipulations the play is attempting to expose through his interactions with the policemen, giving the audience a sense of empowerment. Richard’s himself portrays this complex character on stage, accentuated by the mere conventions of film- his masterly use of audience interaction, gags and gestures- as seen in Act one Scene One of the play in which he makes his transformation into the judge, attests to Fo's belief that political theatre with a serious intent need not be dry. The primary change in the Maniac’s character in the production is that his support of anarchy is more outwardly accepted, where towards the end of the production is that the journalist recognises him as Paulo Davidovitch Gandolpho, sports editor of Lotta Continua, left wing conspiracy newspaper. As the production’s audience are more likely to sympathise with the Maniac’s character, portraying him thus is perhaps a less subtle way of encouraging the audience to support Fo’s political messages regarding the support of revolution over reform. The character of the Maniac in Gavin Richard’s production of Accidental Death is the primary function with which Richard’s conveys the plays political concerns.

Above all, Accidental Death is concerned with, and based upon, the suspicious death of Pino Pinelli whilst under police questioning. The play is brimming with direct but not explicit references to the case, with the Inspector Bertozzo and the Manic being the only characters that are not based on real life figures with involvement in the case. Fo uses the dramatic device of the “removal of the 4th wall”, by which the actors interact with the audience, preventing the audience from becoming completely immersed in the play, and therefore losing touch with the realistic situation it represents. The removal of the 4th wall in evident in Act Two in which the stage directions outline that the Superintendent claps his hands and several “police spies” in the audience respond. The Manic then turns to audience, laughing and says “Don’t be alarmed, they’re drama students. The real undercover ones are trained to sit quietly.” This address about and two the audience serves as a reminder to them that they are indeed watching a play. Accidental Death is primarily concerned with the Pinelli case.
Naturally, Richard’s production too addresses the Pinelli case, however it differs from the original in two most startling ways: the production has an admission of guilt from the policemen in regards to the Anarchist’s questionable fate- “you bloody pushed him” – which is quite a contrast to Fo’s subtle assertions of the policemen’s responsibility. The production also differs from Fo’s original in its final scene; the original, circular ending which leaves the audience with the assumption that the Maniac has fallen from the window is abandoned and replaced with two very resolved endings: the journalist is given the ultimatum of running from the bomb or staying to free the policemen and the viewer watches both alternatives. Fo desired to leave the audience changed, to provoke their thoughts and the key to this is the play’s circular, irresolute conclusion. Assumedly the resolution given in Richard’s production was due, in part, to the differing medium- and echo of the classic Hollywood happy ending – however, Fo’s allusions to the resolution of the Pineli case are more effective in achieving his aim in provoking thought when  argued through as opposed to blandly stated. Richard’s is production is also based upon the Pineli case, although he uses changes to the plays ending to enhance this importance.

Fo’s play, primarily addressing politics and the Pineli case, is adequately represented by Gavin Richard’s 1984 production, although Richard’s has made significant changes to the sense of resolution in the play, primarily through structural changes to the plays ending. Ultimately, translation from script to screen will result in the play being changed, as it is the director’s interpretation of the original, and also subject to the generic conventions of its medium.
2010/11 VCE: All three Englishes, Psychology, Further, Revolutions.
2012-15: Bachelor of Arts at UoM.