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Author Topic: English Resources and Sample Essays  (Read 415137 times)  Share 

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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #15 on: December 19, 2009, 03:08:45 pm »
“Shakespeare’s Richard III presents a cynical view of conscience.”
Do you agree?

“Richard III” explores the idea of conscience in great detail. With the growth of Protestantism under the Tudors, the notion of the importance of individual conscience became supremely important to the Elizabethans. Conscience gives the characters in the play an innate sense of what is right and wrong, especially in relation to their actions and motives; it strips away outward show to reveal their true feelings. Shakespeare’s ominous exploration of conscience is highlighted through Richard’s character and personality. Shakespeare’s portrayal of conscience is also closely knit with God’s interaction with the world. Amidst such grave portrayals of conscience, Shakespeare ensures the audience that Richmond, an agent of divine justice sent by God, will restore sanity.

Shakespeare attempts to highlight the illegitimacy of the Yorkist regime by bringing out the worst of conscience through the character of Richard. Despite his nature Richard becomes king which leads to the idea that he is the “Scourge of God” as he takes a deliberate decision to ignore the constraints of morality in his quest for the crown. For example, Richard manipulates and deceives other characters in order to gain power. In Act 1 Scene 1, Richard declares his true intention to be a villain, “And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover…I am determined to prove a villain.” In declaring his intention to be evil, we find Shakespeare’s portrayal of Richard resembles the character of the Vice in medieval morality plays. The Vice was a villainous servant of the devil who trapped people into sin by charm, wit and double-dealing. This portrayal of Richard immediately reinforces his immorality as it suggests that he will remove anyone who stands in his way to kingship. This is further reinforced when he appears on the balcony between two bishops, reading a book of prayer. Richard delights in his role of mock piety, but many in the Elizabethan audience would be horrified by the sacrilegious image; ridiculing religion and divine law, Richard has set himself against God in his quest for the crown. In depicting Richard as having completely disregarded his moral compass, Shakespeare makes it clear that the entire Yorkist faction is immoral and desires nothing except for absolute power. Equally, it can be argued that Shakespeare wants us to see that it is Richard’s own conscience which eventually leads to his downfall. During Richard’s nightmare, his bloody deeds are compressed into a succession of brief nightmarish appearances that force him, through his dreams, to realize the enormity of his crimes. Richard knows he is a sinner, yet he can not repent. “Despair” is the ultimate Christian sin, it implies that Richard has put himself beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness and his soul will be forever damned which suggests that Richard has no chance of winning against Richmond.

God’s interaction with the characters makes them face their conscience and ultimately confess their sins. Clarence’s dream prior his murder is a sustained meditation on the consequences of sin for the Christian soul, with its vision of damnation and everlasting suffering in hell for evil deeds committed in life. The grim humour of the two murderers’ prose as they debate the ethics of Clarence’s murder contrasts with the poetic blank verse of Clarence’s heartfelt agonizing. The first murderer is eager to perform the task but the second murderer feels some remorse. His literal interpretation of Christian belief would be well understood by an Elizabethan audience. He fears that on the Day of Judgment God will discover the sins of the dead and the souls of those who have sinned and will be condemned to hell, “damned.” He has a dilemma; the warrant gives him secular authority to murder Clarence, but this will not prevent God from judging him guilty. But Shakespeare shows how such uneasy qualms of conscience are overcome at the thought of money, “Remember our reward when the deed’s done…Come, he dies, I had forgot the reward.” Clearly, Shakespeare is reinforcing the fact that characters, such as the murderers who are driven by self-interest, choose to ignore their conscience. Clarence argues that he has not been found guilty of any crime and that killing him will condemn both murderers to eternal suffering. The divine law of “The great Kings of kings” is above the secular power of an earthly monarch. But in fact Clarence is guilty of the crime he begs the murderers not to commit. Both Clarence and Richard murdered Edward, Prince of Wales, after the battle of Tewkesbury. Clarence has perjured himself by swearing then breaking an oath to his father-in-law Warwick. Thus the murderers’ reminder to Clarence of his murder and perjury makes the First Murderer’s question unanswerable, “How canst thou urge God’s dreadful law to us when thou hast broke it in such dear degree?” At this point, Clarence inevitably gives in to his conscience, he acknowledges the importance of his immortal soul and makes the correct moral choices before he dies; he confesses his sins. Shakespeare sends out a clear message to the audience that in a society ruled by the Yorks, conscience is an afterthought and not a guiding force. In considering conscience in this way, he reinforces his baseline argument that this regime is fatally flawed.

Shakespeare is primarily concerned with reinforcing the legitimacy of the Tudor regime and therefore Richmond, who becomes the first Tudor king, is presented as a man deeply concerned with living out the ordinances of the ‘Divine’ king and thus he is a character who portrays the glorious nature of conscience. Richmond enters by offering a stirring oration, urging his supporters to fight in God’s name; immediately, Shakespeare wants us to realize that this is an optimistic scene. Richmond is as resolute as Richard but speaks with the gracious ceremony that defines a victor. Richard’s vilification as the “wretched, bloody and usurping boat” who has destroyed England’s peace is contrasted with Richmond’s image as the saviour of the realm, who has the Almighty on his side. The idea that Richmond represents all that is “Good” reinforces the gratifying nature of his conscience. Richmond interprets the promise of a fair weather, “a goodly day tomorrow”, as an optimistic omen for the next day’s battle, suggesting that the sky will shine on him but frown on Richard. He is courteous to those under his command calling Blunt “good” and “sweet”. There is no doubt that Richmond is portrayed as a hero with a moral conscience who will end Richard’s evil reign. When Stanley enters, he acts as a catalyst to reveal the moral differences between Richard and Richmond. Richmond is portrayed as God’s servant as exemplified in Richmond’s prayer to God, “Look on my forces with a gracious eye.” On the other hand, Richard is once again depicted as the “Scourge of God”, someone who has plundered the land and now kills and feasts on his own people as he ravages England. Shakespeare makes it extremely clear that it will be Richmond who will “reap the harvest of perpetual peace.” Richmond’s final actions and language are intended to bring peace after a bloody civil war. He enquires after George Stanley, orders the proper burial for the nobles and offers pardon to enemy soldiers who submit to him. His actions are typical of someone with integrity and moral compassion. By concluding the play with a resounding “Amen”, Shakespeare intends to leave us with the notion that although during corrupt times the worst of men’s conscience is displayed; it is the struggle to seize peace and prosperity that will bring out the incorruptibility nature of conscience.

Shakespeare invests conscience with the most important of roles within society. The audience is ultimately encouraged to realize the importance of conscience, which redeems those who repent. Although Richard ignores all aspects of conscience in his quest for domination, it is argued that he is also destroyed by his own conscience. Even if there does not seem to be much overt goodness to rely on in “Richard III”, Richmond’s representation of conscience highlights the importance of having strong moral values. It can be seen that Shakespeare is trying to teach us a very clear moral lesson: man must admit and act on his own powerful conscience and a failure to live within the constraints of conscience will have disastrous consequences for the individual and for the whole of society.
PhD @ MIT (Economics).

Interested in asset pricing, econometrics, and social choice theory.


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2010, 07:23:49 pm »
Illusion protects us from life’s harsh reality.

For this piece I have decided to employ a first person narrative voice in order to better show and emphasise the skewed points of view on reality which the narrator (Keith) holds.  Repetition is also employed throughout the piece to assist in characterising Keith as a troubled – perhaps psychologically disturbed – individual, whose framework of mind is as bizarre and incoherent as the jumbling prose featured in this piece.  In terms of imagery, I have favoured the use of awkward and out-of-place similes and metaphors such as “a beauteous punch bowl” in order to better show that Keith’s vision of reality is not conventional in the least.  I have also introduced religious elements – such as the Devil and Judecca – in order to grant the story an otherworldly tinge, in line with the fact that Keith does not exist on the same plane mentally as most humans.

For the narrative elements, Blanche’s penchant for “love”, sex and security have been transferred to the character of Keith as a reminder of sorts for the distortions these kinds of desires may bring to the individual.  Blanche’s living in a world of “magic”, where things are not as they may necessarily be objective also figures largely into Keith’s reality, where his status as “King of the World” is clearly a self-created fantasy.

It appears you do not know why I am telling you this story.  I want you to understand me.

My name is Keith Ormond, medical practitioner by trade and lover by sexuality.  I was once King of the World.  Women control the essence of my life; they are irresistible, tempting as the sweetest of desserts and as joyous as the sight of ice, cold water on a boiling summer’s day.  Women control the essence of my life; I could not live without women, and my indulgence in their innocence has distilled and purified me, moulding out my belly into a beauteous punch bowl filled to the brim and sculpting my features into a Gorgon-like image of the picturesque.
Women control the essence of my life.

This is not to say that I am simply a Casanova, a man who desires quick empty relationships and who abuses and discards them once their purpose has been fulfilled.  I cherish all of my women.  I feel as though they are worth everything in the world as I lavish them with gifts of their fancy and pretty jewellery to suit their needs.  As a result, women love me back, and we share tender moments, dwelling in resplendence as our mortality is brought to the divine through the transcendental powers of love and magic.  Sometimes we talk as we become one soul, sharing the deepest passions of our hearts as we transfix one another with the wondrous things which we have to offer from the depths of our being.  And this is all I need in the world.  This is what I need to complete me.

I want you to understand me.

Unfortunately, women do not always allow themselves to be seduced by my boyish charms.  It appears that the quaintness of a rotund figure and a gargoyle’s face goes unappreciated in this day and age, but it is no matter.  I will tell you a secret.

Please don’t tell anyone, ok?

I am a magician.  If we were living in the 15th century, I would be disapproved of; I confess to dabbling in the Dark Arts, in the delicious morsels which the Devil offer me and my soul.  I do not believe in hell; I simply believe in a world of individuals, of indulgence and self-completion and desire.  Desire.  Three years ago, I made a pact with the Devil so that I would be able obtain women to my heart’s desire.  He said that I should heal his servants, offer my medicine and my knowledge for the greater good.  In return, the Devil said he would grant me a power, a veil of the mystic which would allow me to go undetected beneath God’s holiness and his supposedly omnipresent eye.  God himself is corruptible, the Devil says, and hence I was free to practice, free to present myself to the women of the world with my potions and my concocted magic.

It appears you do not know why I am telling you this story.  

For years, I lived a life which could only be described as ecstasy.  I felt liberated from the boundaries of the mortal realm; I was a soul, standing at the apex of the world, gazing at the depths which I had risen above in my pure pleasure.  I could have gone on forever like this, an existence of the ethereal, of a heavenly nature which transcended time and space.
Unfortunately, women are not constant.  It seems that some are too impressed by my riches and my wealth, else they are intimidated by my beauty; they left me, rendering me and my heart an empty husk, a solitary island floundering aimlessly in a blue and immortal sea.  I used my magic, and it left me temporarily satisfied.  I could not maintain control of what my potions induced, however; the Devil said I could only go so far before it would wear off, before I would be left out of the full power of his hands.  

I want you to understand me.

My name is Keith Ormond, medical practitioner by trade and lover by sexuality.  I crave women.  I cannot live without them.  When a man is unable to fulfil his cravings, he grows desperate, and realises that there is something beyond his full comprehension which he must reach out for.  I did not know what this was.  I did not know how to reach out, until he showed me.

Asmodeus, King of Lust, visited me one night, serenaded me with his songs of love and valour.  He showed me the visions as I tended to his wounds, reflecting that God, in his fight against the Devil, was growing increasingly agitated and angry.  He said that time was running short, that he liked me and that if I wanted full freedom of my love I should seek out the Devil’s daughter.  He told me of her habits and how easily she succumbed to the darkness and the rain.  It would be risky, he said, but if I truly needed the gratification of self which only a nymph of the divine could offer, it would be her.  I like to feel he thought at the time that only an individual as magnificent as I was worthy of her grace; this imagining still seems plausible to my mind.

It appears you do not know why I am telling you this story.

So I did what any man in this situation would do.  I took my most powerful magic, and under the guidance of Asmodeus sprung upon the Devil’s daughter one night in the depths of the evening.  It was short but otherworldly; in my life, there has been nothing so sweet and so beautiful as what laid before my eyes as I engaged once again in the practice which would ultimately prove my undoing.  I took the Devil’s daughter to my residence that night, a step beyond anything the Devil himself had insisted I do, and for weeks I kept her with me, a Queen to the King of the World that I was at that moment.

And then the Devil came knocking on my door.

It happened so quick, so suddenly.  I did not see it coming, and in the darkness one is often dazzled by the spectacular light shows which the Devil and his minions may put on.  Asmodeus led the charge as my front door was destroyed, barging into the chamber of my Dark Arts rituals and plunging his claws straight into my eyes as he whispered, beneath the roars of the fantastical world, “I’m sorry”.  I lost my passion that day; I could no longer see, no longer feel, no longer experience the thrill that kept my alive day to day.

My name is Keith Ormond, medical practitioner by trade and lover by sexuality.  I stand now, a cripple, unable to move as the Devil patiently sorts through his victims and prepares to grant me my fate.  I saw heaven, and now reside in hell.  I am still a lover, but the women are in my dreams, in a world beyond the reach of my body.  I have been given one last freedom, and that is to tell this story.  

I am Keith Ormond, simply a man unable to break free from his desire for fantasy.  I am not the King of the World and I am not a lover.  I am the grotesque, I am the damned, and I have been confined to the darkest depths of this uncaring universe in my desire to escape from the harsh reality of life. There is little for me left; I can no longer touch women, and I can no longer be as I wanted to be.   I cannot live much longer, but my story shall remain.  My soul cannot be salvaged; I have sinned.

I want you to understand me.  Please, help.

« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 09:51:27 pm by EvangelionZeta »

Finished VCE in 2010 and now teaching professionally. For any inquiries, email me at [email protected].


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2010, 11:02:12 pm »
Memories are a significant part of the way we see the present.

This piece is written in the third person from the perspective of Dorothy, a has-been singer who like Blanche is still caught in delusions of the grandeur she had from when she was younger.  Like Blanche, Dorothy has a definite penchant for the fantastical; to reflect this, I have been quite liberal throughout the piece with description, primarily in simile and metaphor.  I have also used a significant amount of ethereal or otherworldly imagery in order to better emphasise that Dorothy lives on a slightly different plane from most people, stemming largely from her being caught in the fashion of her past.

In balance, I have created the character of Jack to be a Stanley-like figure, malicious and predatory by nature, although in a materialistic fashion.   In regards to the relationship between Dorothy and Jack, I have also employed an idea similar to Blanche’s desire for younger men who remind her of her past; to Dorothy, Jack’s (objectively unreal) masculinity is also highly attractive in a sexual fashion, akin to the aura of raw masculinity which attracts Stella towards Stanley.

I have also framed most of the narrative with the song “I Dreamed a Dream”, a song juxtaposing a harsh reality against an idealised dream, in order to parallel metaphorically the state of Dorothy’s disintegrating life.

The sky was dark, illuminated only with the radiance of celestial bodies as Dorothy stepped forward from underneath the clock, her hair flowing like waves in the cool, evening air.  Her feet were graceful, carrying the air of a swan in its flight across an empty lake as she danced across the road.  It was the night - the night of her dreams.

“Jack!” Her arms stretched out as if reaching towards heaven as she embraced the young man, a replica of a Greek God in his brazen yet elegant masculinity.  His eyes opened wide, sapphires in their sockets, as he returned the greeting, kissing Dorothy lightly on the cheek. 

“You’re very beautiful tonight.  Are those white fox furs?”   Dorothy could feel his eyes running up and down her form, taking every inch of her in as she was made beautiful by the natural light in the darkness.  Dorothy had taken every care for her appearance, choosing her most ethereal white dress for the occasion.  Tonight was going to be a good night.

“Yes they are, but you flatter me too much.  Shall we be off?”

“If you insist.”


The Lavish Bull was a popular restaurant, famous for its specialty dishes and its high-class musicians.  There was a deep aroma of roasting meat as Dorothy walked through its door, a smell she kept in the recess of her mind as a waiter seated her and Jack by the window.    At the centre of the restaurant, there was a stage, upon which a woman was singing with a piano accompaniment to an entranced audience.  The whole scene reminded Dorothy of her youth – the beautiful clothes, dazzling lights, the gazing crowds. 

“Daydreaming, are we?” asked Jack, rubbing his hands up and down the menu.  The ragged edges of his face made Dorothy’s insides turn inside out; he was a match for her sent down by the divine.  Dorothy could feel people staring at the two of them from across the room. 

“Just reminiscing.  This all seems so very romantic – surely you’re not trying too hard all for little ol’ me?”  Something glinted in Jack’s eye as Dorothy mouthed her words, and he almost immediately broke into a smile.

“It’s my honour, Dorothy, to take the Crimson Goddess of my youth out to dinner.  Don’t think too hard on it.”  His voice seemed as sincere as it was beautiful to Dorothy – here was Jack, the greatest fan she had ever known of hers, expressing his devotion and admiration for a woman fifteen years his senior.  He was gorgeous.  He was delightful.  He was all hers. 

There was a time when men were kind, when their voices were soft and their words inviting… 

The woman on stage was beginning a new song.  There was something irresistible in the tune; Dorothy felt herself stepping up, moving towards the stage-light at the restaurants heart.  “I’m glad to hear it, Jack.  Let me give you a live performance to relive our memories!”

There was a time…then it all went wrong…

The singing woman paused, awkwardly staring as Dorothy stepped onto the stage and seized the microphone away from her.  There were murmurs; there was confusion.  Dorothy continued immediately.

I dreamed a dream in time gone by…

It was ecstasy, like stepping into a pair of old shoes.  Dorothy could feel the awe in the room from the perfectly still audience, watching as she – Dorothy Levitano, the  Crimson Goddess – sang, a familiar sight from ages past for a crowd of the new age.  The performance was hers;  she was the centre of it all.

I dreamed that love would never die…


“That was incredible.  What was that song, Dorothy?”  By the time Dorothy had finished, the meals had been served.  Digging her knife into the veal, Dorothy gazed at Jack, emerald eyes meeting the sapphires.

“A song from my youth,” she said.  “Before I was a pop star, I was a musical performer, and that song was my favourite…”

“You’ll have to sing it to me again later tonight.  When I take you back to my house, Dorothy.”

“Oh Jack, you’re everything I could desire.  You’re more than I ever had, more fantastical than any of my fans from back in the day.  I have trouble imagining that you exist sometimes, but here you are, all that I would ever need.”

“I love you, Dorothy.”


But the tigers come at night, with their voices soft as thunder…

The candles flickered softly, dancing like shadows as Dorothy’s fingers cascaded down on the piano, her voice resonating gently across the room.  She could feel Jack’s arms wrapping themselves around her, making her feel like the Queen of the World.  The spirits were creeping towards her slowly; the spiritual, the mystical, it was all culminating in her very being as she reached the highest point of her desires.

He slept a summer by my side...  He filled my days with endless wonder…

Jack’s fingers were trickling down the front of her dress, snakes from the Garden of Eden defiling purity from the beginnings of the Earth.  Dorothy did not care that she was sinning; she was the happiest woman on Earth, a girl living out her dreams of romance and love.

He took my childhood in his stride…

The piano stopped.  Filling to the top with the essence of love, Dorothy fell forwards, her mind going blank as her lips mouthed the next words.

But he was gone when autumn came…


Jack shook his hands, grasping for a towel as he tried his hardest to forget the night’s events.  He had taken the old hag out again, employing his usual routine of love and romantics in order to make his living.  She was blind as usual, failing to notice the anaesthetic in his hands as he pretended as always to fall for her singing.

Looking into the mirror, Jack did not like what he saw.  “I’m nothing more than a prostitute I guess.”  There was nothing Jack could do about his looks; he had not been God’s gift to women, but he was enough to at least pass off as handsome to relics caught in the past. 

“I should probably make sure her purse looks untouched…not that she’ll notice any of her money’s gone…”


And still I dream he’ll come to me…That we will live the years together…

There is something pleasant about waking up in the arms of the man who loves you, contemplated Dorothy as she opened her eyes to the darling of her universe.  “You’re a wonder Jack; you remind me of the men in my life back when I still sang.  I feel young.  I feel like I’m the Queen of the World.”

“Sing to me again, Dorothy.  Sing the rest of the song you were singing last night, before we made love to the heavens above.”  Jack smiled, dazzling with the intensity of a thousand suns.  Dorothy could not resist; the world was her stage, a gift handed down to her across the echoes of eternity.

I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living,

So different now from what it seemed…

Now life has killed the dream I dreamed…”


Finished VCE in 2010 and now teaching professionally. For any inquiries, email me at [email protected].


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #18 on: February 25, 2010, 11:29:39 pm »
Illusions protect us from life’s harsh reality

WORK (Title lol)

Written Expanation

I kept the narrator nameless in order to keep the spotlight on Joe, who mistakenly believes that he is a genius who will obtain superior results regardless of how much work he does. Joe’s delusion is his way of rationalizing the excessive amount of time he spends on computer games. This is similar to Stella, who generates the delusion that Stanley is an essentially good man in order to cause her staying with Stanley seem acceptable (however Stella “needs” this delusion as she depends on Stanley, whereas Joe doesn’t have such a “need”).

Joe’s illusion protects him from the harsh reality that he needs to sacrifice some of his gaming time in order to achieve good academic results. However I show that having such “protective” beliefs only serves to ensure catastrophe. Like Blanche, Joe’s illusion causes him to become somewhat blind to the truth, which leads to him avoiding the problem at hand (Blanche’s refusal to reveal the whole truth directly to Stella), which in turn ends up in a catastrophic test performance. The teacher can be likened to Stanley as he 1.) Shatters Joe’s illusion just as Stanley shatters Blanche’s 2.) Imposes a reality (that you need to do homework) on his students that is then accepted.

Joe’s name is ironic because he is just an “Average Joe” contrary to his beliefs. I wrote from the perspective of Joe’s best friend so as to show the flawed nature of Joe’s beliefs regarding not having to do work. This is illustrated by the narrator’s experience of the test, and Joe’s demeanour at the end. To clarify, the narrator also mistakenly believes in Joe’s genius.


It was impossible to ignore the explosion: The rapidly expanding fireball; the distinct cacophony of grenade fragments ricocheting off the walls of the cloistered elevator. In an instant, five honourable, young soldiers had been eliminated. They had been trapped in the cage that was the elevator. There had been nowhere to run, nowhere to hide as the deadly grenade emerged from the vent in the ceiling. The merciless annihilation of the soldiers was promptly rewarded with a robotic announcement: “Terrorists Win.”

Joe was thrilled with his victory. He had just won a round of Counter-Strike, a first-person shooter computer game. The expression of intense concentration on his face had now dissipated into a relieved smile. But he had little time to rest. Within seconds yet another round had started, and once again Joe became the cold, efficient killer.

The continuous staccato of gunfire emanating from the loudspeakers was annoying me. In the same room, 2 metres away from Joe and seated at a tiny desk facing away from Joe, I was completing the Physics exercises we had been set for homework. Despite the iPod earphones feeding loud classical music to my ears, the noises of Counter-Strike pierced the pipe of music that were my earphones, and forced its way into my skull.

I was enticed to join Joe in his violent experience, but no, I was not like Joe, who was in his words, “One of those geniuses who didn’t need to do work.” I had no idea about Joe’s capabilities: we were both Year 7 students who had just started high school. But I presumed from his self-assured manner, and the fact that he was always the one answering the questions posed by the teacher in class, that he indeed possessed academic prowess that was beyond my grasp.

This was how my schoolday nights were usually spent. I would come home with Joe as my parents weren’t home until 8:30PM. Then after a snack generously provided by his loving mother, he would end up on the computer blasting foe after foe, and I would end up frantically completing my homework. We were best friends but I just couldn’t understand how he could ignore the pile of papers stacked on the table in the middle of his room, where I was now seated. When I asked him about it, he would remark flippantly, “I already know this stuff.”

The ability to know everything just by attending class and not needing to do any homework was something I desired. I wished that I could be like Joe, then I would be able to do whatever I wanted for the whole night. But I knew from past experience that I could not be like Joe. In primary school I used to never do my maths homework. I flunked maths test after maths test and eventually my teacher called my parents for a meeting. I had no desire to repeat the scolding I had endured that day, and I discovered to my delight that doing the set homework fulfilled this desire.

It was the following Friday, when the very first test of our high school career was held, that I would discover the extent of Joe’s prowess. Before this day, my image of school was of idyllic sessions in the playground. This perception would subsequently metamorphose into a stressful series of tests and exams. It was not surprising then, that this proved to be an enlightening experience for Joe and I.

We sat at our assigned seats. The teacher had taken care to separate the whole class and allocate each student to an isolated location in the hopes of preventing cheating. Identical copies of the test were being distributed to each student. A sombre silence permeated the classroom as this was done. I witnessed the nervous tapping of fingers on table; I witnessed other students molesting their own lips. I was nervous, and it appeared that I had infected everyone else with this ailment. Everyone that was, except Joe. His head was propped against his palm, apparently bored with this formal procedure of testing his knowledge when it was clearly unnecessary.

The teacher stood at the front of the classroom after he had finished handing out the papers. He started intently at his watch, and suddenly he gruffly announced, “Begin.”

I noticed that at that point Joe had not even begun to look at his test, but with the permission to commence writing I diverted my attention to the test. I was determined to succeed on this first test; I was determined to prevent any news of academic mediocrity from reaching my parents.

I was astonished as I scanned through the test paper. It was all familiar to me. Every single question had been copied verbatim from the homework we had been set over the last couple of weeks. I had seen it all before; I had done it all before. It was as if our teacher had been telling us all along exactly what was going to be on the test through the homework he had set. I was relieved, there was no way I could fail. I already knew all the answers. Victory had been guaranteed before I had even stepped inside the room.

And so the test fell swiftly to my mighty pen. I didn’t even have to think. Just as the questions were written verbatim from the set homework, I wrote my answers verbatim from my memory. I was a robot, running on a previously generated algorithm. Soon enough I was finished, and I exhibited a relieved smile similar to that which Joe had flashed following his ingenuous grenade play.

The intense concentration I had directed at the test was dispelled as it became redundant. The clock indicated I had finished 20 minutes early. I peered around the classroom and monitored my classmates. Some were sleeping, heads against the desk, having nothing else to do. Some had their heads down, entirely engaged with the test in front of them. And what was Joe doing? He was mechanically chewing on his pen, and an unbecoming paleness had occupied his countenance.
~ Methods (Non-CAS) [48 --> 49.4]

~ Spesh [50 --> 51.6]
~ Physics [50 --> 50]
~ Chem [43 --> 46.5]
~ English [46 --> 46.2]
~ UMEP Maths [5.0]

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Aggregate 206.8

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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2010, 10:14:44 pm »
Sample language analysis on the issue of Bill Henson, utilising two articles and an image:

With the recent controversies surrounding artist Bill Henson and his work, debate has become prominent over the legitimacy of a supposed breach on his behalf of child-protection protocols.  One written response to this, an editorial published in The Age on October 7th, 2008, contends that Henson’s situation is being misunderstood and unfairly condemned.  In contrast, an opinion article written by Miranda Devine for The Sydney Morning Herald argues that Henson’s actions are unjustified, and that the public should be wary of him and his work.  A cartoon published in The Australian supports the latter view, presenting Henson as somewhat untrustworthy and unwanted within modern society.  This issue is set to spark further conflict, primarily due to its relationship with the liberties artists are provided in their work, as well as its link to the safety of children within society.

Throughout their piece, the writer of the editorial attempts to soothe the reader into submission in order to allow them to better empathise with the view presented within the article.  By utilising a calm and rational tone, found in phrases such as “some perspective is necessary to consider the argument”, the writer coerces the reader into a mood of serenity in the hope that they will better agree with his view on the Henson controversy.  This feeling of calmness is then built upon through the writer’s use of colloquial metaphors, such as “at a skewed angle” and “blurred by time”, which position the reader clearly towards feeling as though the issue has been clouded by preconceptions and prejudice; this further allows the writer ample space to enter his own arguments.  Following this with decisive and absolute phrases, declaring that the issue is “not one of consent or of artistic motivation”, the writer attempts to influence his reader to view the issue plainly within the writer’s terms, drawing out an understanding that politicians and the media are completely misunderstanding the reality of the situation.

To complement the rationality of the piece, the writer of the editorial further invites the reader to feel sympathy for Henson through repeated emphatic appeals.  Across the piece’s entirety, the writer utilises reassuring phrases such as “his works reappeared…without fear of reprisal” and “whose parents, approached by the principal on Henson’s behalf, declined” in order to humanise Henson, pressuring the reader into feeling as though he is trustworthy and legitimate.  Contrasting this against the powerful appeal that “Henson continues to be unfairly depicted” then characterises Henson as a victim, allowing the reader to better empathise with the artist’s position and acknowledge the writer’s primary viewpoint that Henson is misunderstood.  Closing with condemnatory phrases such as “they become prejudicial” and “should be more restrained” is then intended to leave the reader with a lasting impression of Henson’s innocence, as though he is being unfairly treated by the society at large.

In contrast to the reasoned approach the editorial takes, Devine’s opinion piece delves heavily into the reader’s psychology by appealing heavily towards their fear for the children of society.  The very title of the piece is infused with derogatory connotations; calling Henson’s escapades “A creepy visit to the playground” provokes the reader towards immediately dismissing Henson through the portraying of him as a stalker-like figure.  By then following up this characterisation with decisively anger-instilled quotes such as “Frankly I think it’s disgusting” and “a betrayal of trust of parents”, Devine is promoting a sense of outrage from her reader, who is encouraged to view Henson’s actions as an alien threat to society’s well-being.  Appealing to the concerns of parents in highlighting the potential dangers of “the sexualisation of childhood”, the “perfectly reasonable fears about paedophilia” and the necessity for “the protection of children” also contributes to this effect, positioning the reader to acknowledge the broader implications of Henson’s artwork itself and to see it as undermining contemporary values which shield children from outward threats.  

Devine’s piece further attempts to inspire an antagonistic attitude towards Henson and his supporters throughout its entirety. The sarcastic tone utilised in the piece’s opening, coupled with the black humour in the imaginary letter detailing how “Bill Henson…would like you to consider having your child pose naked for him” promotes a flippant attitude from the reader, who is encouraged to view the Henson and his actions as something akin to the absurd.  Providing description of shocking imagery in Henson’s previous work of “spreadeagled naked girls with dead eyes, budding breasts and blood smeared on their thighs” further adds extra power to the reader’s established hostile attitude against both Henson and Henson’s art.  Rebuttal of Henson’s supporter’s statements in the decisively antagonistic rhetorical question “Who said anything about child abuse” also evokes rejection on the reader’s behalf of the views of those who sympathise with Henson, adding further weight to Devine’s side of the argument.  Compounding this is Devine’s unifying call for “Ostracism” in the piece’s closing, which is designed to leave the reader rejecting Henson and all which he stands for.

Like Devine’s opinion piece, the cartoon published in The Australian vilifies Henson, portraying an almost absurd scene of a grotesque Henson infiltrating a serene schoolyard.  The cartoon features a glum-looking Henson, characterised by a comically oversized head with exaggerated features in order to make him appear filthy and disgusting, or possibly as a being abhorred by society.  This is designed to inspire the viewer towards antagonism against Henson and his supposedly socially unacceptable ways.  Juxtaposition of Henson with frightened looking children drawn in an innocent art style further accentuates this effect, highlighting the ones Henson is possibly threatening in order to draw out feelings of disgust towards Henson and concern for the children.  The comic text of the cartoon “Maybe he’s one of those arts bandits” is also a deliberate pun on “ass-bandit”; in reducing Henson to the absurd in this manner, the viewer is positioned to distance themselves from the absurdity of Henson’s art, similar to the sarcasm Devine utilises.  All in all, the image seems to support Devine’s argument, acting to defame Henson and purporting him as outrageous and unwanted within society.

Both articles and the image work to characterise Henson for the benefit of their viewpoint, encouraging the reader to feel antagonistic towards the opposite of the writer/cartoonists’ stance.  The editorial from The Age focuses primarily on soothing the reader whilst simultaneously inspiring them to feel sympathetic towards Henson’s side; in contrast, Devine’s opinion piece acts to inspire fear and concern from the reader amidst creating disdain for Henson’s work and persona.  The approach of the latter is also taken up by the image, which works to create anti-Henson sentiments within the viewer through vilification and reducing Henson to the absurd.  As shown by the diversity in these arguments, the issue of Henson’s actions is likely to provoke further debate over where art’s boundaries lie and how far society should prioritise the safety of its children.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2010, 03:03:46 pm by EvangelionZeta »

Finished VCE in 2010 and now teaching professionally. For any inquiries, email me at [email protected].


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2010, 10:45:25 pm »
Still playing around with context, but I figure I may as well post what I've done. Far from perfect, so read with that in mind. If anyone wants to give me feedback, my inbox is always open.

Quote from: The prime instigator of conflict is fear. - CREATIVE #5
   Athara is beautiful.

   She stands tentatively before me, an innocent smile drawn lightly across her dainty features. Her brilliant, azure blue eyes stare into mine, glittering ever so resplendently with a tint of orange in the evening light. Today, her silky brown hair is unbound, and it whips elegantly in the soothing breeze of summer.

   I cannot breathe for shock. An angel has stopped my heart.

   There is intrigue written across her face, wondering why I called her out like this. I want to speak, but I cannot. My body is trembling uncontrollably in my boots, excitedly. She looks confused at my silence and draws a step closer to me, and I can almost feel her soft breath on my cheeks. An expansive, lush green plain spreads infinitely to her rear, a true miracle of the world. Joyous birds chirp merrily atop fabulous trees and soar through the endless blue of the sky. There is a quaint little lake not far in the distance, sparkling with a dazzling sheen of rich colour. Yet, my eyes see it not. There is only Athara.

   “Is something the matter?” she asks me curiously.

   “I-it’s...” I swallow nervously. “It’s a lovely day, isn’t it?”

   Athara laughs, smiling at me. “That can’t be why you’re looking so flustered, right?”

   I shift my feet tentatively, unsure how to respond. “Athara, I-I...”

   Lord, what am I doing? There’s no time to be a coward. I suck my breath in deeply.

   “Athara... I love you.”

   My eyes are staring straight into hers. I’m trying my best to be firm, but I can feel myself shaking with adrenaline. Surely I’m wavering weakly. Any moment now, I expect it; revolt, disgust, contempt. Rejection.

   I’ve done it now. I can almost see the fires of hell beckoning me into oblivion. It’s all over. My mind is blank in fear.

   But I can’t stop.

   “You are... Athara, you’re so very precious to me,” I continue. My voice is about to collapse. “I-I want to be with you, for, for as long as I live. Ah...” I rub my face forcefully, trying to push some sanity back into my hollowed head. “Will... will you marry me?”

   No doubt about it, I am flush with embarrassing red. I can feel it burning in my cheeks. Athara steps back from me, sighing. A cold, iron fist wrenches at my chest, the fear devolving rapidly into dread.

    “I’m sorry, Lane.” Her cheerful countenance has been replaced by a pitying gaze. A false laugh escapes my dry throat. I want to cry.

   “Am I not good enough for you?” My vocalisation has been reduced to a breaking whimper.

   “I... I love you too, Lane.” She turned away, blushing shyly. “It’s just... you’re just a soldier. You don’t have a house, you have no money, and you might not even be alive after next year. I... can’t rely on that.”

   You see, I have never cried before today. My name is Lane Fatebrough, and I am a vassal of the Holy Queen of Athinor. Last year, I was captured by the enemy, and two of my fingers were cut off with scissors. My back is covered in whip lashes; the flesh is torn to shreds. Another time, two months ago, we were surrounded in a narrow defile. There was almost no chance of escape, a completely hopeless battle. I escaped with my life while most of my comrades were slaughtered. It was terrifying, brutal. Even so, I have never cried.

   Why, then, is there a bitter taste trickling into the corners of my mouth?


   I wipe my gloved hands across my eyes, letting the liquid soak into the fabric. It is a coarse material and it feels horrible against my skin, but that’s what I need right now. That is because she is right. I am just a mere soldier, a pawn amongst many. I have no business troubling the woman I love as I am now.

   That is why I will grab fate by the neck and bend it to my will.


   “Are you okay, Lane?” Her graceful eyes are watery. “I’m not trying to hurt you, i-it’s just...”

   That’s an excuse, but it does not matter. It is irrelevant.

   “Athara.” I seize her wandering gaze. “It might seem strange to you, but...” I laugh heartily. “I don’t think I can give up on you.”

   She turns away again. “I’m sorry, Lane, but...”

   “Don’t say anything more. Whether you want me or not now... that does not matter. Not at all.” Athara’s expression changes to a note of surprise.

   “But why..?”

   “I love you, Athara.” I smile warmly, reassuringly. “If I am not good enough today, then so be it, but I won’t give up. I’ll keep fighting for you. If not this year, then the next; if not the next, then the one following; one day, I will become worthy of your hand. I swear it. I will never abandon you.”

   “Lane... why are you doing this?” She is crying. “I cannot promise that I will wait for you, always... I... don’t want that to happen. I don’t want to hurt you. And I don’t want you to die in a faraway land, fighting pointlessly for me.”

   “The reason why I will fight so desperately is very simple. It’s because nothing will make me happier than to be with you. For that, I can give my life.”

   Athara is speechless. She cannot comprehend why I can stand there smiling even after my heart was crushed, even though there is no hope on the horizon.
But it does not matter. It is irrelevant.

   I leave her standing motionlessly, walking away to the battlefield of my life. And as we part ways, I say it once more. And this time, I am sure she understands.

   “I love you, Athara.”

Experimenting with heavy dialogue. Oh, and my ability to be a massive romance fag.


Quote from: Ignorance is the main reason that conflict occurs. - CREATIVE #6

   I did not understand. I did not understand why strange people I never met were ravaging my sister’s struggling body on our now bloodied floor. I did not understand why these men, fellow children of God, were ransacking my home. I did not understand why my father and mother, why the people most beloved to me, lay lifeless and mutilated. I did not understand why such villains were bidden to exist, why such pain had been brought into life.

   I implored the infinite kindness of God; “Deliver me from this evil. Please save me.”

   That is all I thought as I was dragged across the room by the hair like a sack of wheat. My mind was lost, confused, blank, and unable to fathom the madness that had engulfed me. I did not plead nor weep. I only placed my faith in His absolute will, trusted in the goodness of His designs.

   But God did not help me. 

   Not as fiends set fire to my house, not as they tore my clothes to shreds, not as they violated the very sanctity of my being; nobody saved me. Even though I was but a child, a young girl not even thirteen years of age, He did not rescue me from the tens upon hundreds of criminals forcing themselves into my very being. That is the moment I began to open my eyes, as if I had awoken from a deep sleep.

   That is the moment I finally understood.


   I know it very well now. I know why, although I had done no wrong, misfortune befell me. I know why, as I look down into the fields below me, chaos rages in a turbulent clash of death and suffering. I know why, even though God created everything, evil men are made to walk freely on this land. I know why He has abandoned us.

   This world is rotten.

   I’m sure He must be sighing pitifully as he looks down on us from His heavenly utopia. When God sees us pit our miniscule lives against each other for meaningless causes, I’m sure He must weep, asking ‘why do these little humans fight and kill each other so?’ As he sits atop his eternal throne, surely he scoffs condescendingly at our ever conflicting existence, at those who were banished from Eden and have no choice other than to fight.

   But it is no matter.

   I need no saviour. If we are denied by God, then so be it. I will survive through my own power. Perhaps, that power was tiny, insignificant, and perhaps it may still be. Yet, because we are always fighting, that power can grow. It can change. No, that is not quite right. I will change it. If we are not given justice, if we are not given love, no matter; I will create it, with my own two hands. If we are not given utopia, I will build it. And one day, when it is my time to pass away, when God finally welcomes me through his gates, I will refuse Him, and I will tell Him that my place is here, in this paradise I will create, imperfect though it may be.

   I belong right here, where I will fight until the end of time. 

Kinda incomplete (too short), sorta ran out of ideas but I liked it too much to scrap. Draws ideas from the manga titled Vinland Saga, which I recommend to anyone who hasn't read it yet.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2010, 11:07:45 pm by Akirus »


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2010, 10:51:03 pm »
Post too long, so I broke it up.

Quote from: When one encounters conflict, they never truly forget. - CREATIVE #1
   For this creative piece, I detail a brief recount of a talented and respected young girl whose past is filled with traumatising conflict; these age-old wounds are brought back to life by certain triggering events. Such happenings can deeply afflict even the strongest beings. However, although she may not forget these scars, I attempt to show through Yuiko that they can be overcome and even turned to advantage. People mature as they rise to confront their conflicts, both past and present.

   The setting is a high fantasy (that is, an alternate universe to our own, wherein supernatural elements may exist); this is to implement another degree of flavour to the presentation of the theme. As a stage for conflict, it is also arguably more suitable, as in such a society, large-scale conflict is of much greater frequency due to the relative lawlessness as opposed to modern standards. Moreover, such a style caters (intentionally) to a much wider demographic; sophisticated readers may appreciate the depth, whereas younger audiences could purely enjoy it as an interesting tale.

   It draws loosely from the concepts of warfare explored in the Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif; it’s impact on both the state and the people. The powerful state of Athinor, ruled by its highly competent autocracy, demonstrates the prosperity that can be achieved through effective management of the sovereign’s conflicts; this is portrayed through the setting introduction such as where Yuiko is patrolling the joyous households. Yuiko’s personal experiences are intended to reflect the effects that it can impart on individuals.

   One more point of interest, the character of Akirus Keldeth is intended to serve two functions: one, as a mysterious element to spark interest, and two, as a catalyst for the plot. His implied, nigh-divine nature is a centrepiece for Yuiko’s emotions; he brings out her feelings and her potential. This helps her shatter the invisible, psychological boundaries blocking her road, culminating to the climax of the piece.

   Yuiko drew her breath slowly and let out a deep sigh, a small cloud forming before her supple lips in the chilly winter morning. Her petite, feminine hands were gloved in thick cotton, yet that didn’t stop her from rubbing them together furiously, as if the tiny friction would generate enough heat to oppose the nigh-arctic weather of the Athinorean  solstice. The patrol route she was assigned was covered in knee-deep snow and it took a doubled effort to even walk. As if to spite her attempts at preserving body heat, the snow melted against her heavy garments, dragging the young girl’s burdened body furthermore and sapping the remnants of her dwindling strength. It was piercing, both physically and mentally. The frosty sensation sent trembling shivers through her veins and tore through her skin and mind like glacial spears.

   Although no more than a young girl seventeen years of age, she didn’t complain, grumble or whine. At her waist she carried a short knife and other minor implements for self-defence and discipline, should there be any unruly thugs roaming the seemingly empty streets. Within the modest, middle-class houses she guarded, celebrating families were joyously indulging in a rich breakfast, riddled with laughter that seeped through the creaks in the doors and windows to Yuiko’s ears. In the far distance, the beginnings of a grand parade could be heard, a loud commotion as more and more people gradually flocked to the festive stands and stalls in the centre of the city. But the girl did not mutter even a single word of protest, her gentle yet firm azure blue eyes locked in resolve. Yuiko did not waver, gruelling conditions or otherwise. For one, it was only morning; there were still many hours preceding her comfort. How could she succumb so quickly? Of more notable importance though, she was a Sorceress of Excelion , a blessed retainer of the ordained Athinorean queen.

   That isn’t to say it was her duty to cruelly suffer with no end. On the contrary, it wasn’t her duty at all. By all means, it was Yuiko’s privilege as a noble Lady to be seated beside her compatriots and her queen in the majestic castle looming over the country from its position in the middle of the world, in the very highest and royal room reserved only for the most eminent persons. But if somebody were to enter it, they would find it a desolately empty place. By this hour, the queen of Athinor, being a near warlike entity, would be up and about, drawing up schemes with her brilliant strategists for a campaign or another, and her fellow Sorceresses would be doing the exact thing as her: safeguarding the sacred motherland. It was in her genuine love that she acted with virtuous vigour, not an imposed obligation. That is a Sorceress of Excelion; a maiden not only talented, but of spirit both noble and pure. In the origin of Yuiko and her kinswomen, a distant land many leagues away, children were raised thus: to love that which they possess and contend for it to the ends of the Earth. Had Yuiko been staring into a spiralling inferno towering thousands of metres above her tiny figure, let alone than a mere trifling winter breeze, she would not have shied.

   In her unrelenting vigilance as she paced through the freezing cold, the blurry sight of an approaching figure caused even Yuiko to have a lapse in concentration. It was not a criminal come to do harm, or a suspicious looking wanderer with a drooping hood drawn over his face. Nor was it a long lost brother, although to Yuiko he may as well have been. It was Akirus Keldeth, the immortalized hero of the lands.

   Akirus was not a spell-weaver like Yuiko or her comrades, but his unparalleled acts of heroism approached divinity rather than mystic. His bloodless capture of the capital city Thine , the Neuva Massacre  in which he butchered over two hundred assassins singlehandedly in the Garden of Thorns, his defence of Ascendera  in which he repelled ten several legions with only one thousand men; without doubt, he laid the foundation of New Athinor. No single man or woman, girl or boy did not know the name of Aeldra Lord Akirus Keldeth with reverence, respect and even fear, for those who might oppose him. In short, he was a rule-breaking miracle-weaver, a non-magician of the highest order, known by the people as “God’s Hand”; such was his reputation that for a commoner to speak the name was seen an unwritten offence to providence.
   To Yuiko, too, he was a great man whom she admired. However, for those personally acquainted with him, Akirus Keldeth was more than just a matchless enigma. He was a confidant beyond simply trustworthy. In a sense, he tied everyone around him into a tight-knit family of sorts. He was the type of man who could and did inspire unfound strength or crippling terror to his every surrounding, as if an unexplainable aura emanated from his towering figure. Unbeknownst to the scrutiny of public rumour, Akirus was an irreplaceable friend to many, whether they were brothers in arms, or young girls with a secret but understandable fancy for and dependency on the handsome lord. Yuiko’s face was flushed with pleasure at his long-coming return. Of course, although she’d never have admitted it at the time out of fear of inadequacy, she was one such maiden unwaveringly drawn to the allure of his amazing personage.

   “Akirus!” she called out excitedly, waving her arm at him with renewed energy.

Now, one thing must be said about Akirus Keldeth. He was not an expressive man by nature. Although he often appeared as the vibrantly animated Aeldra Lord before his men, he was otherwise very passively indifferent. Very seldom did he smile or laugh, nor did he frown or show frustration and anger. It was not that he was unhappy or depressed. No, there was no soul that enjoyed life more than him. Perhaps, it was just another degree of his composed charm.

   This being said, he did not smile in return or raise a signal of acknowledgement. Yuiko was not displeased regardless though, and rushed towards him therefore. With a fantastical leap, she pressed herself against his tall body and wrapped her slender arms around him in an intimate embrace. Again, he showed but apathy, simply allowing the small girl to continue as she pleased.

   “Have you been well?” Akirus asked softly. Not that he treated her with especial tenderness; his voice was almost always near-inaudible and gentle, as if it displeased his very being to raise it. She didn’t let him go to provide an answer. Many years ago when they first became acquainted, she learned in the midst of fire, chaos and five hundred marauding pirates that true friends did not need to exchange words. Comrades in spirit, together with whom they challenged death, side by side, were connected on a higher plane. Maybe that was the reason he was so verbally reserved. Lame though it may be, her thoughts conveyed through soul.

   After what seemed a very lengthy period, Yuiko released him, giddy with happiness as evident all over her body. They then sat down and conversed until the sun had travelled across the horizon, first regaling each other with recent exploits and then an inner conversation between inseparable siblings. As mentioned prior, a Sorceress of Excelion is disciplined to the highest standard; for her to collapse into negligence for such a time as one day was something only Akirus Keldeth could cause. It was soon though that night fell, and duty called him to return. Hence they parted ways, not of longing, but deep appreciation for the precious moments granted by fate. As peacefully as he came, Akirus disappeared into the distance, raising an arm in farewell behind him.

   It happened as she continued her almost forgotten self-duty of patrolling the empty avenues, which were now covered in the shadow of the night. Yuiko’s head was still in the clouds, a dainty expression drawn explicitly across her girly countenance. It was a moment of supreme carelessness and foolishness, for a pretty girl as her to stride the desolate, dark roads without heed of her surroundings. When they suddenly fell upon her, seven or eight rugged thugs from the shadows of nearby alleyways, she hadn’t even the mind to retaliate. They gagged her from behind with a poisoned cloth and subdued her without even the slightest contention.


   Yuiko opened her eyes, watery as they can be from unconsciousness. At first it was completely black, transitioning to a blur through her tears before attenuating into the image of a musty, dimly lit basement as her vision adjusted to the darkness. Her mind jolted immediately; as soon as she regained a semblance of mental balance, she noticed it. There were thick cords tied around her thin wrists, binding them tightly behind her back. She tried to exclaim in shock, but a heavy piece of tape was drawn across her lips. Stretching her senses further yet, it became apparent that her body was sprawled across the floor. Yuiko’s outer garments, too, were removed; to her side, she noticed her heavy woollen cloak stacked messily atop her other articles of clothing. Nothing but her creamy, silk-like skin, which was now covered in minor cuts and bruises and some very sparse underwear fended for her vulnerability.

   For a moment, nothing seemed to register with Yuiko’s consciousness. A sharp sear tore through her mind like a burning flash. Like a dam being broken, they flooded into her thoughts, deep and buried memories of her fallen homeland. The nightmares came in force: the horrifying sight of tens upon thousands of merciless invaders, the relentless fires scourging the countryside, the shrill screams of terror resounding through the putrid atmosphere, the nauseating smell of blood, her father and brother bludgeoned into oblivion with steel bats, mother and sisters brought to death through barbaric violation, she herself sitting terrified and helpless in a hidden corner before they seized her to render a similar fate as her family. How could such terrible memories have eluded her all this time? Yuiko’s bound body trembled uncontrollably, even the last vestiges of her composure vanishing into mind-throbbing convulsion.

   Somewhere to her rear, a creaky door was pushed open and rugged brigands poured in like famished hyenas. For criminals to survive in a city under the absolute authority of the Athinorean High Command demanded the utmost skills and as such, these men were vagrants of the finest calibre. Without hesitation, they surrounded the wide-eyed girl, derisively abusing her with their dirt-caked boots. One of them stooped beside Yuiko, a malicious grin almost escaping right off his face.
“To think we caught one of the royal wenches,” he mused viciously, noting her regal insignia as he crushed it underfoot. “What should we do with you little girl?” It was a question in spiteful jest. “I’m sure your vain, whorish ‘sisters’ would pay an arm and a leg for you. But you know...” His smirk grew even greater still. “We aren’t too big on money. Do you understand what that means?” Laughter blazed in chorus.

   “Aye. It means tonight we dine in hell, gentlemen.”

   Everyone whipped their heads in unadulterated surprise. Standing by the door, with his hands nonchalantly pocketed to either side stood Akirus Keldeth in his full glory. Although there was nothing different in his actual facial features, the dangerous context almost exuded a menacing, devilish hint of bemusement from his visage. He stood outside beneath the now clear night sky, moonlight invoking a sparkling glitter in his powerful blue eyes. At his coming, they parted like the Red Sea, disappearing into hidden doors and tunnels without shame. Nobody was insane enough to contest that monster willingly. Those that remained were trickling with sweaty anxiety. Speedily but without removing their eyes from the despairingly foreboding man standing by the door, they grabbed hold of Yuiko, fending off Akirus with a knife placed threateningly against her throat.

   “D-don’t come any closer,” they stuttered nervously. Their apprehension was brutally blatant. Those still standing were edging to the doors, trying with their every effort to escape the disaster. Akirus ignored them.

   “Yuiko.” Akirus’ voice was still and emotionless, yet icily deep, slicing through the room like a razor. “Look at me.”

   Her eyes focused slightly at his voice, almost in joy for what seemed certainly to be salvation. But his next words betrayed her every expectation.

   “Yuiko.” His gaze penetrated into hers. “What do you think you are doing?”

   Tears ran down her cheeks.

   “Yuiko.” He took a step forward. “Have you already forgotten?”

   Her mouth opened, but no sound escaped her lips.

   “Yuiko.” A stern expression crossed his features. “Why do you shirk?”

   She shut her eyes tightly, no longer able to receive the full brunt of his presence.

   “Yuiko.” Akirus pointed upwards to the stars. “Your slain kin and comrades are watching you from above. You are despising their memory.”

   “Silence!” the bystanders yelled frantically, no longer able to contain their rapidly escalating stress. “We’ll kill her if you move another inch! Stay back, fiend!”

   “Yuiko.” He clenched his raised hand into a resolute fist. “Stand and fight. I am here beside you. I believe in you.”

   “Go to hell!” Five of them brandished crude daggers and rushed at the terrorizing hero furiously, a final act of desperation. But they never took the second step.

   Yuiko screamed; an expression of her resolve, an actualization of her courage. A chant flowed smoothly and quickly from her lips, bringing forth from her fingertips a dazzling light that scorched the vicinity. The brilliance was immeasurable as it exploded through the room, illuminating it with a saintly glow like a holy purge. It was instant, gratifying and irresistible. Her soul had materialized, more radiantly than the brightest star. She was truly alive.

   “I can see it, Yuiko. You’ve grown.” A slight, yet excited chuckle escaped his otherwise emotionless demeanour. “Sorceress of Excelion indeed.”

Hm... as you may have noticed, it's way too long at around 2500~ words (yeah, I got carried away). Other than that though, my teacher liked it, apparently. At least, I enjoyed writing it.


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2010, 06:41:20 pm »
This is by no means perfect, but it did get an a plus. It was done under timed conditions.

“No matter how much we admire Sir Thomas More, it is the Common Man that we can identify with.”
To what extent is this true?

Bolt’s play, A Man For All Seasons, tells us of Sir Thomas More’s immovable conscience and strongly based principles. This is aided by the Common Man, who is both narrator and extra character rolled into one. The Common Man’s actions in the play are easier to understand to an extent, especially with a modern audience, however it is clear that Bolt wishes for us to question his actions. The Common Man’s affirmation of this, by calling himself the derogatory term “rat” and calling more a “lion” confirms to the audience that More is indeed the one to admire.

The Common Man’s own observations of More are also confirmation of More’s strengths. He mentions that More is incredibly giving and rarely, if ever, says no, to the extent that if someone asked him for something he was unwilling to give, he would be “out of practice,” foreshadowing the events to come, but also highlighting the extent of More’s generosity. Furthermore, he also offers a deeper insight into both his own character and More’s character, by saying “it is perverse to start a play… with me,” and by drinking some of Sir Thomas More’s wine behind his back. The fact that the Common Man believes that it is “perverse” to start a play with him is a hint to us that he is not the man we should admire, and the fact that he drinks the wine behind his master’s back is confirmation of this. Furthermore, the fact that Sir Thomas More laughs this off offers an accurate and early insight to his character, demonstrating that he is indeed the one we should admire.

An example of one of the questionable actions from the Common Man is when he is interrogated by Chapuys, Cromwell and then Rich. Of course, the Common Man does not give any man any information worth their coin, saying things such as “Sir Thomas prays for an hour and a half,” and yet gives each man information that they deem relevant. Although one may say this is due to the loyalty towards More, we see that the Common Man only “serves one” master, himself, when he pulls out the “enormous cross” in mockery of the Chapuys. During the questioning from the other characters, the Common Man is paid “more than [he can] earn in a fortnight,” demonstrating how he will do anything for money, as long as he is not “out of [his] depth.” This is something that a modern audience can identify with, as almost everyone is motivated by money to a degree. However, it is clear that Bolt wishes for us to condemn his actions, too, or at least question them. One of these times is when after leaving the employment of More, the Common Man is seen working for Rich, even though he had said earlier in the play “that one’ll come to nothing.” This highlights the “fluid” beliefs of the Common Man, in direct contrast to More’s steadfastness to his conscience and beliefs.

During the course of the play, More faces many adversities in the shape of Cromwell, the King and Rich, because he does not swear to the Oath.  However, to More, taking an oath is similar to “holding oneself in his own hands, like water,” and hence More’s beliefs lead him to say that taking this particular oath is like asking him to “change the colour of his eyes”, and therefore, impossible. More’s ability to stand by his beliefs in front of everyone else highlights his strength of character, a trait that Bolt wishes for the audience to admire. What makes this even more admirable is that even after justice has deserted him, indicated by how “the trappings of justice are flown up,” and even when his death is near, More is able to take it so “blithely” due to his strong faith and beliefs. A modern audience may find it difficult to understand somebody dying for the sake of a belief, however, a vast majority of the modern audience should be able to understand dying for a cause that they believe strongly enough in, such as dying for one’s children or family, indicating how there are aspects of More’s behaviour and decisions that we can indeed identify with.

Society of the time was very corrupted, and there is proof of this, from the Common Man telling us at the beginning of Act Two that “imprisonment without trial” and “torture” was a “common practice.” Furthermore, Cromwell’s employment as “the King’s Eye” and his willingness to “make laws” to suit also provides evidence to the extent of corruption at the time. Hence, one should admire More’s wish to hide “in the thickets of the law,” even with Cromwell and Rich cutting the laws down. It again illustrates how strong More’s beliefs are, to think that he can hide in the law and get away with it, amidst all the corruption at the time, believing that the other characters will not commit perjury as it is More’s belief that if he did so, he will die and be condemned forever. More’s willingness to let the King have everything from “his house” to “his arm” instead is another admirable trait of his; More's loyalty cannot be matched by any other character in the play. The fact that he would do anything for the King as long as he can follow with a “clear conscience” is an action that Bolt wishes for us to respect and also admire.

In the alternative ending of the play, the Common Man concludes with the statement “if we should bump into one another, recognise me.” This can be interpreted two ways: bumping into the Common Man himself at a later time, or coming to the realisation that there are aspects of the Common Man in us all. If one is to go off the latter interpretation, then one could also assume that we are to question these aspects, through the Common Man’s actions throughout the play. There is no doubt that Sir Thomas More is the man we are meant to admire in the play, and that there are, to a certain extent, aspects of him that a modern audience can relate to. However, a modern audience can also relate to aspects of the Common Man too, however unsettling it may be to realise this.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2010, 07:11:40 pm by spaciiey »
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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2010, 07:30:07 pm »
Context: Encountering Conflict

Style: Creative-expository hybrid

“In many situations conflict can be avoided.”

(note, this was a 50 minute in-class response)

Trying to get through the Senior’s corridor after lunch is like trying to part the Red Sea – except, you’re not Moses. Sweaty, brawny bodies are crammed against one another like sardines, and everything is so stale and flat that breathing the air is just stifling. Then, the boys – I hesitate to say “men” – barge in, full of energy and impatient after an hour of running around. Suddenly, one of them becomes too impatient, and pushes his mate in front of him. Toppling over one another, like dominoes, everyone in the corridor becomes a tangle of arms and legs and feet. Now, all the boys are pushing and shoving each other, as payback, as the indignity of falling so ungracefully is just too much to bear, and people are tripped and jammed into locker doors. The girls all roll their eyes in disgust and try to shrink away into the corners, as an attempt to stay out of the fray. Then, before the teachers can stop it, one boy has fallen so that he has a cracked skull and concussion. But, was it really necessary?

Conflict cannot always be avoided, but we can see there are many situations where conflict is unjustified and should be, or could be, avoided. The above is one such example of this. Had everyone just been more patient, had no one retaliated after falling down for the first time, the situation could most likely have been avoided. We can also see examples of where conflict should have been avoided in Grenville’s The Secret River. When Thornhill first encounters the aboriginals on “his” land, it is clear that the Aboriginals do not wish to fight. Instead, they wish to compromise. However, Thornhill snubs them, and he even attempts ot provoke one, by slapping him, and is completely oblivious to what the Aboriginals are trying to tell him. Had Thornhill listened, it is likely that the massacre towards the end of the novel could have been averted, and he would have been spared the sight of seeing heads “crushed purple,” and body parts hanging off by a mere “strip of ragged flesh.” Furthermore, no one need have died out of both the Aboriginals and white settlers.

Tom Blackwood is an example in The Secret River where Aboriginals and white settlers can indeed live harmoniously, and compromise. Through his conversations with the Aboriginals, he makes a deal with them that he will “stay on the beach”. Such is the extent of Blackwood’s relationship with the Aboriginals is that they even accept him, as he is willing to adopt some of their ways, eating their daisy yams and even taking an Aboriginal wife. This is of contrast to the actions of Thornhill: when he sees the yams, he dismisses them as weeds, throwing them away and therefore, leaving the Aboriginals with less food to eat. Also, he takes all of the fertile land in the area, leaving none for the Aboriginals. Because he does this, the Aboriginals understandably feel as if they need to instead take what Thornhill has planted, as they have not enough food to eat. This angers Thornhill, so he attempts to fight with them, but it is clear that that was a particular conflict that could have been avoided, if he was more willing to follow the concept of “give a little, take a little.”

Of course, by avoiding conflict, one can inadvertently create it, too. Through the actions of Blackwood, it means that he causes discontent among some of the other settlers, in particular, with Smasher Sullivan and Saggity Birtles. It is clear from the way that they talk to one another, that Blackwood dislikes Smasher and Saggity, and the same goes for the other way around. This escalates to the point where they even have a fist fight, and Smasher vows that Blackwood will be “sorry” for what he has done. Had Blackwood went along with the views and values of Smasher and Saggity, they would not have fought with one another, but he would have instead caused further conflict with the Aboriginals instead.

Sometimes, among friends, misunderstanding can also breed conflict. Let us take this as an example: one of your friends promised to meet up with you, but never did. You could take it personally, assume that the person is ignoring you, and then call them up and fight about it. But is forgetting one little promise a good indicator of friendship? Most likely, no. It is most likely that the friend simply forgot, or had other things on his or her mind, and did not really mean to. Hence, fighting with that friend was unjustified, and it also could have easily been evaded by having a little more faith.

The giving and receiving of constructive criticism can also create conflict, but more often than not, this kind of conflict can also be prevented. Sometimes, the person receiving the criticism may feel as if the person who is critiquing is making a personal attack, even if it is not so, and therefore, may lash out and an argument may ensue. It may be a personal attack, but more often than not, it is a mere criticism of the work itself and not the person that did it, and hence there is no malicious intent. This argument could have been averted, had the person receiving the critique been more receptive, and had the person been in a different frame of mind. On the other hand, perhaps the conflict could have been avoided on the other side, too: had the person giving the criticism perhaps used more eloquence, and was not so blunt, then the criticism may have been taken the correct way.

There is a plethora of situations where conflict could be avoided, but on the same token there are just as many situations where conflict is inevitable, and this must be acknowledged. But, it still cannot be denied that there are situations where conflict is unjustified, like the poor boy with the cracked skull and concussion, and therefore, where conflict could have been avoided.
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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #24 on: May 27, 2010, 12:08:54 am »
Quote from: 'In the middle of conflict lies opportunity'. Growth can come with conflict.

Through my narrative of a young girl’s plight and journey into maturity, I present several notions and ideas on conflict, inspired by the implications conflict has on growth in The Rugmaker of Mazar-e-Sharif. Paralleling Najaf’s unwilling involvement in the wars that ravaged Afghanistan, I tell a tale of a helplessly innocent princess as her provisional life is mercilessly shattered by conflict. In doing so, I reflect the implied inevitability of conflict, as exemplified by the Rugmaker, in my own rendering. For princess Exyss, the heroine in the story, the conflicts she experiences are as much a ‘trial from God’ as they are for Najaf; through her struggle into the turbulence, Exyss’ developments as a person demonstrate the challenge to our true selves provided by conflict and the subsequent  consequences that will inevitably ensue.

However, in contrast to Najaf and indeed many of the characters he describes, my heroine stands on the other side of the spectrum, the first world western country to Najaf’s Afghanistan. In creating this stark comparison between the two, I highlight the enrichment that hardship and conflict has on one’s life, implying a hollow existence devoid of any self-meaning in the ‘fortunate’ princess, who is essentially given everything without effort, ‘unable to even walk on her own two feet’. Whilst the wars and conflict Najaf was forced to endure brought great pains to his family, they bestowed upon him the capacity to appreciate life and the potential to mature as a person. Exyss, although in possession of dreamy material riches and luxuries, was unable to see any value in them, simply taking them for granted and thinking them nothing more than a given. In essence, she was nothing more than a caricature of her father the king’s absolute power. The origin of her character were born from the philosophical notion that conflict is fundamental to growth; in that vein, Exyss embodies my belief that people cannot move forward unless they are first challenged. The rapid advancement of her character, as shown through the powerful character development throughout the piece, was an opportunity born through her father’s death; a priceless chance afforded to her only through the most unfortunate of conflicts.
Furthermore, it was my intention to show an opposing outcome to Najaf’s, revealing a newfound resolve to reject God in the princess following her insight into the true nature of the world. That is, conflicts have consequences whose impacts are never singular in form. The princess gains strength, independence, insight, resolve; however, at the same time, her humanity, purity, innocence and faith is shaken and even possibly irreversibly broken in light of her former childhood as an untainted blossom. In having her beliefs and understanding challenged, rapid developments were made possible in a few moments surpassing her entire life. It is my intention to highlight all forms of effect on her identity to provoke deeper consideration from the reader as to whether the conflict the princess experienced was indeed a positive or negative influence.

The language choices I have used are meant to reinforce the fictional, high-fantasy setting in which the story is established. Complementing the depth of ideas, the story is written to be provoking and engaging, using powerful description and heavy contrast to draw the reader in. Without undermining the sophistication, the writing form is to be accessible beyond the educated young adult demographic, extending into a teenage audience by means of stylistic enticement. That is, the creative ingenuity should be sufficient in itself to captivate a less educated reader. I attempt to achieve this through the use of interesting plot and inspiring/empathetic character development.

I never knew what it meant to live.

As a child, my days were passed idly in lavish luxury, a pampered princess with every desire imaginable on the tip of my tongue. My clothing was excessively exquisite, with huge diamonds and dazzling gems lining the gold-laced dresses that displayed my father’s boundless eminence. Two diligent attendants were always by my side ready to address my every whim, with another entourage at my beck and call. Nobody was allowed to look me in the eye; the respect afforded to my royal blood far exceeded my non-existent merits. My living quarters were immense, with a bedroom spanning the entire length of the hall, large enough to accommodate a small village. The royal palace was my playground; I was the master, and none dared cross my path. A fabulous garden directly adjoining my room, a gift given to me in admiration of my peerless beauty, entertained me every other day, a life of indulgence spent frolicking amongst the vibrant colour of Mother Nature’s full glory. My silky, crimson hair and fair, creamy skin had earned me repute as an angel, a pure innocent being that transcended the imperfect world.

I know, very well now, that I was not.

Today I am the Arbiter of Fate, the Goddess of Victory, a world conqueror, but I was not born this way. No, I was a mere fool, an ignorant whelp that had not stopped suckling on the parental teat. My life was controlled by the wealth that protected me, shielding me from the cruel nature of reality.

I was not truly alive.

Alas, nothing on this earth is eternal. On the seventh year of my meaningless life of decadence, my father, the royal king of Athinor passed away. His death was tragic, for he was a benevolent monarch, beloved by all for his virtue and kindness. It marked a new era of political turmoil, the turbulence that wiped clean the material excess that had encircled my life. That day, I was plunged into a world of new experiences; my untainted eyes were coloured by the bloody happenings of reality that had always eluded me. My beloved father was lost to me, and the life I had known was destroyed beyond salvation. Yet, I do not regret it with even an ounce of my soul, a morsel of my heart, a piece of my mind. It was like the pain had awakened me from a deep slumber.

I was reborn.

Everything that happened from then was like a rush, a dam unleahed without warning onto m life. It began when my brother insisted on employing food testers, and I was shocked to watch them collapse before me in violent convulsions, blood spilling from their eye sockets as they writhed uncontrollably in pain, rolling pitifully on the floor. I was quickly rushed from the scene as I passed out in horror, but that memory has always remained vivid in my memory. At that time, I was nothing more than a lost, little girl.

When I finally came to my senses, my nostrils could smell the scent of distant smoke. It was a new sensation to me, and the putrid stench quickly induced rapid expulsions from my stomach. My belly, which had begun grumbling, confused me, too; amidst the frantic atmosphere at the time, I had only just first felt the nagging of hunger. Nothing seemed to piece together in my head; I was absolutely overwhelmed.
It was my uncle that was the first to approach me. With a reassuring smile, he beckoned me to follow him with promises of sanctuary. As would an imbecile, I blindly fell for the seduction of his honeyed words and false appearances, not even suspecting in the slightest that he meant to do me harm. My ignorance was so great that I could not even detect the abundant malice oozing from his filthy face, eyeing me with greed.
The path he led me through damaged my person. Riots were rampant and sedition was afoot; the royal palace had become a burning inferno, its grand hall littered with lifeless bodies. A mass of blood had coloured the expensive, velvet carpet a deep red, the vile smell of rotting flesh attacking my sensitive nose. Reality had pierced my life without mercy; the evils that had previously been unknown to me reared themselves in my terrified face. I began to realize just how little I knew of the world, of life, of myself. I peered into the deepest recesses of my being, but I saw nothing, for I was nothing by myself. The substance that had embodied by life had been ripped away, leaving nothing behind. All that I could see was a disgusting, wretched shell.

I was nothing. 

My mind stopped functioning. I had reached my limit. When my uncle, whom I had believed to be nothing but a benefactor, ruthlessly cut down the men pleading for his mercy, I stirred inside. Something had finally snapped; the light emanating from my eyes had changed. The world around me seemed surreal, like a bizarre nightmare, even the uncoagulated blood that had splattered onto my face and trickled into my mouth. There was nothing. I could not taste it. Each new terror that confronted me was a dream, as if I could not believe all of these things were real and that they had hidden from me all along. I was locked in a cage of unending nightmares, a hell isolated in my mind beyond my wildest imagination. I may as well have been a newborn infant, a baby lamb waiting to be ripped to shreds unsuspectingly by the hungering jaws of a wolf. I did not know what to do. I did not want to do anything.

I could not do anything.

It was at a moment of reprieve from our pressing march that it happened. I knew nothing of the biological functions of men, or even people. The unit that had been escorting me, of course, was comprised solely of male soldiers; I know that now, but I did not then. The day had been long. Everyone was weary and covered in wounds. That was the extent of it, I thought. It was a great surprise to me as the twenty-odd fiends surrounded me and began manhandling my petite, virgin figure, exuding insatiable sexual tension and lust. I moaned in agony, my voice pleading for help, my mind imploring, desperately, the infinite kindness of God. I would have struggled had I the strength, but it was a futile effort with my frail frame. Excruciating pain pulsed through my veins, an endless night of brutal torture, as if I was being physically torn apart and desecrated.

I could not do anything.

When the sun finally rose to illuminate the darkness of my mind, I did not see nor notice it. I was huddled in a corner, a stony lifelessness setting across my stricken features. I was awake, but unmoving, a rough cloak wrapped loosely around my violated body. For a while, not a sound escaped my lips, not even a whimper of suffering, or a sign of life. I was paralysed in my own thoughts, but it eventually dawned on me, like a divine revelation.

This world is rotten.

God had abandoned us, leaving our miniscule fates to our own, flawed devices. Banished from Eden, we were cast aside, a world that is neglected, and a place where God’s mercy does not extend. Nothing was spared to us, an ugly blemish on His eternal creation. Nobody saved me, delivered me from evil.

I was alone.

Almost subconsciously, I rose to my feet, a ruthless impulse driving my body. I lifted a small dagger that one of the sleeping soldiers had set down. The guards in charge of my supervision were complacently dozing to the side. It was cold in my hand, an ominous icy sensation, yet it was like I could not feel the chills it sent through my spine; I was number with insanity and madness. I had been baptised by fire.

Chaos surged through my veins.

With a swift movement, I plunged the implement through a guard’s throat. He did not even have a chance to scream as I cut open his fleshy neck. One by one, with heartless efficiency, I gutted them like livestock. The last of them regained consciousness as I pushed the bloody knife into his mouth, and I had the opportunity to see the light leave his eyes as he stared, terrified, into the absolution that was mine. I slaughtered twenty men by my own hand like cattle.

I do not need God.

Not his condescending ‘kindness’ as He gazes at us pitifully from above nor His holy blessing, thrown to me in sympathy; I do not need His heavenly kingdom, His ultimate power, His unlimited mercy. If we are not accepted into God’s domain, the garden of Eden, then so be it. I will make my own place and build my own utopia, my own kingdom. I will rule all under Heaven. With my own two hands, I will surpass God. And when it is finally my turn to pass onto the next realm and through the gates of the otherworld, I will smirk, spitting back in His face. And I will tell him this.

“My place is right here, on this very Earth.”

I wrote this piece for my first context SAC and I liked it enough to type it up. Enjoyable to write and read (for me, anyway). Timeframe was 1.5 hours. SOI is italicized.

For reference, the grade was an A+ with all criteria ticked in the highest column, although it was cross-marked 4 times and apparently one teacher didn't like it because they couldn't see the point (thank god for SOI). Teachers comment:

Very detailed explanation. Probably too much. Could have been simplified. You do articulate connections to 'The Rugmaker' and he chosen prompt. Good opening. Established setting and protagonist's privileged life. Structure works well. Breaks between paragraphs with short, sharp sentences to highlight key points works well. Lovely descriptions. Reader is engaged in the world that you create. Sets the scene of an ignorant and naive protagonist that grows as a person as a result of conflict. The story is told from the perspective of someone reflecting upon who they were; could have had a bit more reflection on what they became - it is there but mainly implied.

« Last Edit: May 27, 2010, 11:42:40 am by Akirus »


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #25 on: June 24, 2010, 10:06:57 pm »
This was a practice comparative language analysis (two articles, one cartoon) completed in February on the issue of public transport. It received a 19/20, and I got 20/20 on the actual SAC on another topic.

The early months of 2009 were a bleak time for our public transport system- with Ms Kosky as Minister for Transport, the government and Connex receiving mass scrutiny and criticism from commuters and the media alike for an array of blunders affecting Melburnians. Arising from the media frenzy came Graham Currie’s opinionative article (The Age 01/02/09), calmly and rationally asserting to all Melbournians that responsibility should be placed on the “ failure of infrastructure” that which “level-headed planning” could possibly amend.

Currie initially gains the reader’s attention with his colloquial headline, rationalising that “cool heads [are] required” before “we blow our stacks and really go off the rails”. Here, Currie promulgates the notion that we must “cool” down by providing a parallel, his over-zealous choice of phrase resembling our media’s tendency to “blow [their] stacks” and indeed, issues out of proportion. This is cogent in instilling doubt in the reader as to the validity of the reports pertaining to the transport system they have been exposed to, thereby allowing us to be more receptive his subsequent arguments. Currie then highlights the “political parties blaming each other, government blaming the operator and the operator blaming train drivers”, a continual diversion of responsibility ensuring the amelioration of our system is never obtained. The cumulative impact is an evocation of reader exasperation with these respective entities, due to their incapability to unify thus address the more pertinent issue of why the heat is affecting our trains so adversely. As if anticipating the reader’s demand for an answer to the aforementioned question, Currie supplies his “very simple” riposte that “Melbourne trains are not designed to work at high temperatures and they never have been”. In less then 20 words, Currie simplifies a seemingly complex issue by clearly and logically framing the reason for our ineffective system, which serves to enhance his reasonability and credibility to the reader as well as undermine the bodies whose responsibility it is to provide such logic. Moreover, Currie inclusively concedes that “most readers might consider this an unreasonable situation” yet follows this with the assertion that “it is a fact nonetheless” that our trains are not made to work in extreme weather, diverting and alleviating the reader’s indignation with the oft-blamed entities by underscoring that it is the actual trains themselves that are not able to function.

Currie then generalises that “governments of all persuasions have… led to a railway that won’t run in heat”, yet dogmatically declares that “even the world’s best rail operator couldn’t reliably run trains not designed for heat”. Here, Currie positions the reader to retract their erroneous blame on Connex/Lynne Kosky by putting our system on a global scale, highlighting that an expectation for trains to run reliably-when they are not made to, is ‘universally’ flawed. Currie then details the “100 million plus investment” necessary to “run trains” “over 40 degrees”,  posing “[if] it is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to get trains to run reliably on…one day a year?”.  Subsequently, there is an appeal to the reader’s hip pocket nerve that triggers an instilment of doubt pertaining to the reforms so widely demanded, as they may absorb an exorbitant amount of taxes for just “one day”. However, Currie concedes that “the case for upgrading is probably getting better” as  “ we are now experiencing more than one day a year at [over 40 degrees]” due to climate change. Currie ensures his reasonability is retained with this evenhanded statement, the inclusive language permeating all readers in the increasing temperature “we are now experiencing”, yet his calm reasoning reduces the reader’s usual resentment with the system. Furthermore, Currie confirms consonantly that “rail ridership has skyrocketed”, then demands whether it “would be better to have new services to an expanded group of users all year or heat-resistant trains on existing services for about one day a year?”. The juxtaposition of  “all year” and  “one day a year” is cogent in accentuating the irrationality for “heat resistant trains”, providing an example of investment that could consistently ameliorate each commuter’s use of the train network every day. This reasoning is promulgated effectively to the reader, evoking a partiality towards the practical “all year” option. 

Towards the denouement of the article, Graham puts forth his solution to commuters, asserting “to cool it” and “to cope, they can plan ahead, plan earlier, allow more time for trips and prepare for delays”. These simplistic yet optimistic suggestions appease the reader, as there is an inference that if they follow these suggestions “there [might] a relief in sight”.

Starkly contrasting Currie’s hopefulness for the future is the defeatist and bitter Letter to the Editor by Sue Kitson (The Age 23/03/09), contending that the “daily experiences of frequent users” of public transport, such as herself, have eventuated in her “giv[ing] up” entirely on trains as a mode of transportation. Her pessimism is apparent to her Melburnian audience even from the title “ That’s it. I give up”, the contraction and sombre tone sparking the reader’s curiosity as to the contents of the article.

 Kitson begins by establishing her credentials “ as a yearly Met ticket holder for several years”, her reliability and authority on the contentious issue recognised by the reader by her frequent commuting. Kitson then creates the imagery of her “state of Zen when standing on train platforms, only demonstrating the odd public outburst when it got all too much to bear”. The reference to a “state of Zen” carries the inference that train platforms are always chaotic, resulting in a conscious effort by commuters, such as Kitson, to reach a state of calm to inhibit an “odd public outburst”. Also, it suggests that these times of chaos are so frequent that this “state of Zen” was easily achieved. Thereby there is an evocation of empathy for the commuters exposed to such consistently unsatisfactory conditions on these train platforms.  The loaded language pertaining to the “impossible” summarisation of the “too many incidents” that frequent users are exposed to serves to evoke feelings of frustration in the reader, that these negative incidents are becoming almost innumerable.   Moreover,  does Kitson list some frequent occurrences, gloomy imagery mounting till “ [it’s]just the next scheduled train morphing into the missing one”. In this imagery Kitson effectively frames the hopelessness and predictability of our system, eliciting anger that this cruel cycle continually repeats without government or Connex’s intervention.

There is a tonal shift as Kitson to one of more contemptuousness as she asserts that she “cannot wait” to stop using the train, “forced to drive…to get to work on time” as she “cannot trust.. Public transport”. Here, Kitson simultaneously evokes sympathy as to her plight to getting to work on time as well as propagates her condemnation of public transportation to the reader through the use of negative words such as “cannot” and “forced”. Kitson then places direct responsibility on Minister Kosky and Connex, stating that she “gave it [her] best shot” but “[they] have broken [her]”, the placement of responsibility on these two bodies ensuring, most effectively, the reader’s most pejorative denunciation of their actions, or inaction.

Similarly, Mark Knight’s political cartoon (Herald Sun 30/01/2009), mockingly contends that the “heat is on” for Lynne Kosky to fix our failing public transport system. His audience is clearly depicted in the emotional commuters in the foreground of the cartoon, some dejected some livid, but nevertheless Melburnians “unhappy” with Lynne Kosky’s efforts as Minister for Transport.

A lady stands the bottom left hand corner the frame; head down, literally and figuratively unable to look at the utter chaos that is our train system. Here, Knight underscores the “train wreck” that our system has become, evoking exasperation that it continues to worsen to a stage until we cannot bear to even “look” at it anymore, without any government intervention. Another commuter, a male, stands in bottom right hand corner, contemptuously turning to stare at Ms Kosky. This disdain is propagated to reader, a feeling of affinity with the man ensuing, reassuring the reader their feelings are echoed throughout the state. Moreover, all three commuters stand ironically, their backs to the isolated “customer service” desk containing Lynne Kosky, symbolic of a government unable to “reach out” to their public. In this instance Knight accentuates the alienation felt by all Melburnians as their demands continue to be ignored. Thereby, this elicits righteous indignation by appealing to the reader’s sense of entitlement to a functional government.

Inside her insular bubble, Ms Kosky sits rigidly, analogous for months on inaction to fix our transport woes. Here, Knight ensures the reader’s condemnation of such stagnancy of our government, encouraging them to be conducive to reversing our government’s inertia. Kosky herself is depicted in dark shading, her sunken eyes and gloomy attire exemplifying, symbolically, a government overwhelmed by the pressure it is under. This depiction results in the evocation of pity towards the government, simultaneously enhancing Knight’s even-handedness. On the wall of the secluded desk, is a thermometer that has reached the highest temperature and has burst, mercury flowing, symbolic of a situation that has reached “boiling point”. This accentuates the severity of the situation to the reader, inciting our anger that it has continued escalate to such a “temperature”. Whilst metaphorical fans attempt to “cool” the situation, Knight’s speech bubble in the right hand corner sarcastically imparts, “but it’s a dry heat” to Kosky, who is feeling the heat, irrespective of whether it is “dry” or not. Knight’s denigrating remark is reminiscent of various government excuses and actions that did not detract from the fact the people were suffering due to an dysfunctional train system. Thereby, Knight promulgates the lack of empathy held for Kosky to the reader, by reminding the reader of times when the government has tried to make light of our situation.

The platforms in the peripheral of the cartoon extend into the distance, filled with faceless masses waiting for a functioning train. Knight reminds us of the “long-reaching” affects of our failing system, reaching to the suburbs and to all the public, a warning which urges the reader to place direct responsibility on Lynne Kosky and the government to start to preform their duty.

Whilst Currie reasonably avows that “cool heads” are needed for a long term solution to our public transportation, Kitson defeatedly contends that she, as a frequent commuter, is giving up on transport system due to her daily negative experiences.  Likewise, Knight asserts that it is at “boiling point” for Lynne Kosky to ameliorate the transport system, however, his approach is far more mocking of the government.
Whilst Kitson’s imagery of  ‘not enough room to squeeze in until the third train” simultaneously evokes the reader’s sympathy and exasperation with such sub-par conditions, Currie’s use of imagery to canvass “ thousands of hot, angry passengers”, serves to engender the reader’s more direct feelings of anger. Similarly, Knight’s literal imagery of commuters encourages the reader to emulate their feelings of contemptuousness and dejection with the train system. Currie provides a solution to our transport woes by simplistically and inclusively avowing “it’s time to cool it” that is similar to Knight’s inference that if the government “cools down” with the symbolic “fans”, they will be able to preform their duty. This starkly contrasts the resolution put forth by Kitson, to “give up”, a despondent attitude that is propagated cogently to the reader, supported with dreary imagery throughout the article. Currie’s figurative language “screaming for heads to roll” highlights the public’s negative tendency to beseech retribution when they are wronged aims to embarrass the reader for such conduct, starkly contrasting Kitson’s figurative statement that Minister Kosky and Connex “have broken [her]”, the negative connotations with the word “broken” ensuring the reader perceives the aforementioned two bodies as villainous. However Knight’s use of figurative language in the label “the hottest place on Melbourne” does not seek to place blame, instead accentuates the ramifications of the situation to the reader - an extremely strained relationship between commuters and the government that is “boiling” hot.

Knight’s political cartoon attempts to strengthen the unanimous resentment towards Lynne Kosky in his pitiful depiction of her, evoking contempt and anger towards her and her government. However, Currie’s opinionative article seeks to calm the reader’s indignation with the system, amongst the media “fury” pertaining to the issue .  Contrastingly, Kitson intends to incite a felling of hopelessness and defeat towards the train system, creating an overall cynicism towards the government’s inertia in the issue.
English | French | Literature | Psychology | Revolutions | Legal Studies(2009)


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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #26 on: June 28, 2010, 09:48:50 pm »
Illusion protects us from life's harsh reality.

In many ways, human living is dependent on illusion of some kind.  Rarely will our day-to-day experiences be perfect – there will be moments when reality is simply too much to bear, or when we must shy away from what is true by indulging within our own fantasies.  Of course, between different circumstances illusion will manifest in different forms; we may distort reality to our liking in a fashion that renders it otherwise unrecognisable, or we may simply exaggerate simple facts to suit our own needs. At times, the act of doing this may be necessary, particularly in cases where acknowledging the harsh, objective reality of the world would compromise the very essence of our existence.   However, this is not to say that our illusions will remain absolute to us; in its totality, there will quite possibly be situations where reality will force its way into our minds, regardless of whether or not we want to acknowledge its existence.  There may also be circumstances where the paradigms we create are simply impractical, leaving us unable to function properly without dispelling them to some degree.  Similarly, times will arise when our self-created images of reality are in fact more destructive than what is actually the case, meaning that rather than keep us safe, our illusions are detrimental to the stability of our lives.  When considering the multitude of possibilities which illusion can lead towards, it would thus be prudent to acknowledge that our own imagined realities are essentially a doubled edged sword: they may protect our being from the dangers of the outside world, they might falter under the pressure of a superior force, or they may be the cause of our demise in tandem with life’s very harsh reality.

In light of our humanity, it would be foolish to disregard the fact that there will always be situations when a dependence on illusion is necessary.  Such a scenario may arise when we are desperate, or when acknowledging only what is real would destroy our ability to cope with our vision of reality.  This notion is exemplified in Tennessee Williams’ play, A Streetcar Named Desire, wherein the protagonist Blanche DuBois essentially personifies the human need to indulge in fantasy.  For Blanche, objective reality is akin to a nightmare; she is afflicted with alcoholism, traumatised by the life she has left behind, and her surroundings are that of a ghetto-like suburb inhabited by the play’s brutish antagonist Stanley Kowalski.  Understandably, Blanche copes with this by veiling what is true with a self-created image of her very self, and for much of the play, she opts to pretend that she is a virtuous and affluent young woman, superior to the environment and individuals she finds herself around.  The effectiveness of such a defensive mechanism is characterised by the staging: most significantly, a paper lantern is detailed in the stage directions as covering the light bulb in Blanche’s residence for most of the play, emphasising that by creating her illusion Blanche is protecting herself from the harsh “light” of reality.  In this way, it seems possible to recognise the power of our own self-created realities as a method of protection from life’s harsh reality; just like Blanche, it seems there are times when we must call upon illusion to preserve the state of our souls.

Of course, the extent to which our fantasies may protect us may nevertheless be insignificant in comparison to the power of harsh reality itself.  It seems impossible that illusion will stand up forever, and often the destructive forces of objective reality will lead towards one’s own version of reality becoming utterly obliterated.  Drawing on to A Streetcar Named Desire once again, this potency in reality’s influence is witnessed in the fate of Blanche at the hands of Stanley.  In spite of the extent to which Blanche attempts to protect herself with her illusions, Stanley ultimately triumphs over her by raping her, driving her insane and leading her towards being sent away to an asylum.  The utter brutality of this process is – like Blanche’s illusions – characterised by the physical presence of the theatre, with the atmosphere in the stage directions following Blanche’s rape being described as “raw, lucid”, which, for Tennessee Williams, is emblematic of Stanley’s monstrous masculinity.    That the play also ends with the phrase “This game is seven-card stud” similarly indicates that the masculine environment of reality has won out, signifying that in A Streetcar Named Desire, the harsh truth of the world has won out over Blanche’s self-driven illusions.  For us then, the message is clear: just as Blanche’s fate exemplifies, illusion will not always hold up to harsh reality, even when it is employed to protect us from simply that.  

In other situations however, it may be that the illusory paradigms we create for ourselves may need to actually embrace aspects of reality, or else our freedom or our potential will be restricted.  The cause for such situations vary, but more often than not it will simply be practicality which acts as the catalyst for illusion to mould itself into something which more closely resembles objective truth. History has shown this to us time and time again: in any regime built upon information-control, allowances are invariably made eventually to allow the nation to harmonise with the state of the outside world.  Such was certainly the case with modern China; during the middle of the 20th century, the People’s Republic of China was a nation immersed in an illusory cult-of-personality revolving around Chairman Mao Zedong.  For the time, the Chinese government’s self-created fantasies were such that Mao Zedong was regarded as a flawless idol, often referred to as “Saviour of the people” or “the red sun in our hearts”.  However, as the People’s Republic of China began to rise as a more prominent nation within the world, what was effectively brainwashing had to be relaxed; nowadays, the fact that Mao Zedong is treated akin to any other prominent political figure has led to China becoming all the more well regarded on a global scale.  This indicates that illusion often needs to change or even dissipate in order for the individual or the nation to survive, and thus for the purpose of self-protection, it may be possible for a once defensive illusion to be discarded by an entity for the greater good.  

In light of this, incidents may also arise where even in the sight of a better reality illusions are not discarded at all, leading to fantasy becoming more harmful than helpful at both an interpersonal and intrapersonal level.   This is usually the case in particularly extreme cases of illusion, where one’s own version of reality is almost entirely different from the objective truth of the world.  Once again, literature provides plenty of examples of this, but a particularly significant one is found in Ian McEwan’s novel Enduring Love, where the nature of a harmful reality is exemplified entirely within a mentally ill character named Jed Parry.  Jed Parry suffers from an affliction known as erotomania, which induces him into seeing the world as revolving around an imaginary love-life between himself and the novel’s protagonist Joe Rose.  Although this paradigm of the world offers Jed solace to an extent, to those around him, this mental disease is the primary cause for hazard; in particular, Joe becomes paranoid and even has his life threatened as a result of Jed’s undying love for him, indicating the potential destructive properties towards those around us our illusions may possess.  Not only this, but Jed’s fantasies are in fact a detriment to his own being, as by the novel’s denouement, Jed has been admitted into an asylum due to the potential threat he represents to everyone else.  In this sense, it seems prudent to acknowledge that illusion, even when employed for protection, may be harmful, not only to the people who inhabit objective reality, but also to us.  

The understanding that arises then is that in its totality, illusion can prove both detrimental and beneficial to the state of our being.  Often, life’s harsh reality will necessitate our reliance on the fantasies we project around our souls; however, there will nevertheless be times where the overwhelming might of truth will overcome the power of our illusions, causing them to break.  Furthermore, there is a fine line between illusion being a help and illusion being a hindrance, and if we wish to co-exist with others it seems that we must acknowledge that at times illusion is possibly harmful or otherwise stilting our growth as individuals and as a society.  Humanity should thus acknowledge the multifarious nature of illusion and its relationship with life’s harsh reality; for the preservation of our existence, we must recognise both illusion’s merits and its undeniable faults.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 10:01:13 pm by EvangelionZeta »

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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #27 on: June 28, 2010, 09:56:42 pm »
A Farewell to Arms is concerned with Frederic Henry's growing understanding of both love and war.  Discuss.

Within its sweeping war-drama narrative, Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms centralises the figure of Frederic Henry, whose growing understanding of both love and the conflicts surrounding him serves as the novel’s main thematic focus.  Frederic’s characterisation is evolutionary; initially, he is depicted as an individual reluctant to embrace a deeper appreciation of his surroundings, opting instead to lead a directionless lifestyle of indulgence.  Circumstances, however, force him to change, and as the novel progresses Frederic learns not only to condemn the meaningless war he is immersed in, but to also partake in a wholesome lifestyle within his romantic relationship with Catherine.  Nevertheless, this point of epiphany is not the denouement of the novel, and within the context of the ending, it is also worthwhile to consider A Farewell to Arms’ deeper engagement with not only a flourishing individual, but also the malign universe set out on destroying it.  In spite of this nihilistic development, however, it is clear that A Farewell to Arms’ builds much of its ideological exploration upon Frederic Henry himself, bringing to the fore its meaning through the protagonist’s character development.

At the outset of A Farewell to Arms, Frederic is portrayed as an individual lacking in purpose or any deeper understanding of life.  Frederic’s philosophy early in the novel can be best described as living for the moment; he does not consider the future implications of his actions, seeing life as a process that is “all and all and all and not caring”.  This aspect of Frederic’s being is furthermore reflected within the very nature of his work.  As Catherine comments, it is “an odd thing [for an American] to be in the Italian army”; Frederic’s very existence seems highly out of place, and Frederic himself admits “there isn’t always an explanation” for one’s actions, implying a lack of understanding on his part for his role as an ambulance driver.  The superficiality inherent within Frederic’s modus operandi is also manifested within his attitude towards Catherine, who he treats as an object in “a game” of seduction; it is, as thus, possible to identify Frederic as living an empty life in regards to his pleasures, akin to what Rinaldi describes as being “all fire and smoke and nothing inside”.  Given the lifestyle he gradually evolves from, it is hence applicable to consider A Farewell to Arms as concerned with Frederic’s growth; in examining his origins, it becomes apparent that his character may only evolve from its primordial nothingness.  

Building on from these beginnings, Frederic’s continually flourishing awareness of love becomes highly significant to both the narrative and Hemingway’s thematic explorations as the events of the novel unfold.  Obviously, Frederic’s appreciation for Catherine grows further into their relationship, and come Book II, Frederic openly professes “I was in love with her”, signifying the maturing of his desires.  More worth consideration, however, is the ultimate state of the relationship between Frederic and Catherine; by Book V, the couple view themselves as “the same one”, indicating the extent of which Frederic’s adoration for Catherine has transformed.  At an initial level, this is obviously important in regards to it illuminating aspects of the central protagonist’s – Frederic’s – development, indicating how Frederic is able to achieve “an even better time” in living through partaking in a deep and meaningful love.  Beyond this however, the evolution of Frederic’s relationship serves a thematic purpose in highlighting the ethereal nature of love, a concept as pure as “the snow” and “the mountains” associated with it.  A Farewell to Arms thus utilises Frederic’s romance in both a storytelling and an ideological sense, marking the manner in which his love changes as central to the novel’s entirety.  

Similarly, Frederic’s experiences in war and his heightened understanding of human conflict become essential within the context of A Farewell to Arms as a whole.  As the novel progresses, Frederic becomes increasingly philosophical in relation to his thoughts about fighting; in one manner, this may be seen as a result of those around him, such as the priest, whose words “It is in defeat that we become Christian” embody Frederic’s eventual realisation that war is an endless cycle.  Simultaneously however, Frederic’s own self-discovery builds upon the words of his acquaintances, evident in instances such as his introspective reflection over how he “had seen nothing sacred” in his partaking in war.  Like his discoveries about love, Frederic’s progressive understanding of war works at multiple levels, developing the depth of his character but also illuminating how “abstract words such as glory, honor, courage [are] obscene” in comparison to the greater reality of conflict.  In this light then, it is possible to regard Frederic’s “farewell to arms” in being “out of it [and] having no more obligation” towards the Italian army  as a thematic exploration of war’s significance; along with witnessing Frederic’s evolution, the reader is brought to comprehend Hemingway’s condemnation of war, embodied in his comparing its importance to that of a “floorwalker”.  As such, Frederic’s growing awareness of war serves to accentuate the novel’s ideological significance alongside merely assisting in the creation of character.

In spite of these more majestic discoveries, however, Frederic’s evolution in A Farewell to Arms is nevertheless underpinned throughout the novel by nihilistic pessimism.  Although Frederic gradually builds upon his empty existence through love and introspection, there is still a continual underlying meaningless prevalent within the context of his universe; this is reflected upon in comments such as “The world breaks every one”, which indicate Frederic’s reality is one determined to destroy its subjects.  More specifically to Frederic himself, however, this becomes significant in illustrating the intrinsically worthless aspects of a journey of self-discovery.  That everything Frederic has obtained – Catherine, his life away from war and his child – is relentlessly destroyed come the novel’s conclusion reflects an essentially pessimistic view of the world on Hemingway’s part.  As Frederic references, “they kill…you in the end”; this statement, coupled the comparison between ants being “burnt and flattened” and humans dying, constructs a vision of life as devoid of any greater significance, ending in a fate of despair no matter the individual.  Within the context of the novel in its entirety then, it is thus possible to acknowledge A Farewell to Arms as not only dealing with the greater appreciation of life Frederic obtains; rather, there is an element of tragedy in the novels depicting how human life is ultimately worthless.

What nevertheless follows is that A Farewell to Arms is very much concerned with Frederic’s development as an individual, constructing both its narrative and thematic exploration around his growth in understanding of love and war.  In considering Hemingway’s novel as a whole, it would appear prudent to suggest the reader understands ideology through character; Frederic’s progression is more or less the reader’s own, as Hemingway develops his ideas through Frederic’s own realisations.  Hence, without its central figure, A Farewell to Arms achieves nothing in attempting to elaborate upon the subtler aspects of humanity; it is only in appreciating Frederic that an appreciation for the resplendence and the darkness of life emerges.  
« Last Edit: August 23, 2010, 09:19:40 pm by EvangelionZeta »

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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2010, 07:56:19 pm »
Richard asserts his determination to “prove a villain”.  Does he succeed?

Against the backdrop of his Machiavellian takeover of England, the protagonist in Shakespeare’s Richard III serves as a caricature of evil incarnate, ensnaring the world around him in his web of darkness.  From the outset of the play, Richard of Gloucester establishes that he intends to play the role of the villain, and indeed, this intent manifests within his actions, as he triumphantly commits one vile murder to another in pursuit of the English crown throughout much of the play’s narrative.  Moreover, Richard’s villainy is so potent that he successfully brings those around him into his influence, either manipulating others for his own use or adding them to his list of allies and confidants.  In spite of his early gain, however, Richard is not seen as a perfect villain; he is, upon his ascent to the throne, seen having his influence crumble and his hold over England lost, and, come the denouement of the play, even Richard himself is unable to ignore the damning nature of his villainous role.  Despite his eventual fall, however, Richard’s determination to prove a villain is every bit successful for much of the action of Richard III, and it is undeniable that he is, for the most part, the very visage of a victorious evil.  

Throughout the action of Richard III, the audience is aware that it is essentially in the nature of Richard’s character to take the part of the villain.  This facet of Richard’s nature is established right from the beginning of the play: in his opening soliloquy, Richard indicates that he is “subtle, treacherous, and false”, acknowledging internally that as a person he represents nothing but villainy.  Richard’s penchant for darkness and chaos is also revealed within what is essentially his motivation for evil, as he relates that he wants to “leave the world for [him] to bustle in”; from this, the audience understands that Richard is a figure not only immersed in, but also motivated by evil.  Beyond this, Shakespeare also constructs other characters’ perceptions of Richard to implicate him as intrinsically a villain, most notably from the Duchess of York, who decries Richard as a “false glass” of nobility and “bloody”, revealing that alongside Richard himself, those around Richard recognise him as a malignant figure.  Hence, when assessing the success of Richard as a villain, it would be prudent to consider that from his persona, Richard is intrinsically an evil figure, and thus, one fully capable of flourishing in what is dastardly.  

Building upon his villainous interior, Richard commits numerous acts throughout Richard III which indicate he is successful in his determination to prove evil.  Drawing to the opening of the play again, Richard immediately displays the triumph of his villainy in his murder of Clarence; the magnitude of Richard’s evil here is exhibited not only in the fact that it is an act of fratricide, but also in that Clarence ironically trusts Richard completely, believing “he loves me, and holds me dear”.  Alongside this, the murder of Hastings and Elizabeth’s supporters cement Richard as being emblematic of malevolence in his being: particularly in Hastings’ proclaiming “O bloody Richard!  Miserable England!”, the audience is positioned to see Richard as spreading death and destruction throughout the land, cementing him as a figure immersed in pure evil.  Finally, Richard’s ordering of “the tyrannous and bloody act” of the Princes’ murders is constructed to be the epitome of villainy, causing even hired murderers to melt “with tenderness and mild compassion”.  Judging from the passing of these acts, it seems impossible then not to recognise Richard as a figure easily moving from one murder to the next, bringing to the audience an understanding that Richard does in fact prove a villain as he declares.

Simultaneously, it is impossible to regard Richard’s villainous actions without also considering the vile influence Richard has on others.  In particular is Richard’s wooing of Anne; within this particular act, Richard inverts natural order by obtaining a woman whose “husband and his father” have been murdered by Richard.  Furthermore, Richard’s rhetoric, evident in “Your beauty was the cause of that effect – Your beauty that did haunt me in my sleep” is emblematic of his deceitful nature, which is potent enough to create such an absurd situation.  Also significant is the manner in which Richard is able to deceive the higher court of England: particularly in his naming Hastings “a traitor”, Richard proves able to utilise his deformed “sapling” arm as a weapon, an act emblematic of Richard scarring England itself in his flamboyant villainy.   Finally, Richard’s defilement of the royal house’s name – the spreading of the propaganda of “the bastardy of Edward’s children” – is again an act symbolic of natural order being inverted, as Richard effectively defaces England with “scars of infamy” in decrying the rightful rulers.  Beyond merely acting as a villain through his killings, Richard thus establishes his malicious presence through his malevolent influence, which plunges England into chaos.  

In spite of his successes, however, Richard is seen to falter in his awe-inspiring villainy upon his rise to the throne.  This process is step by step, but essentially begins with the decline of Richard’s influence: throughout much of Act 4, Richard is seen to lose his hold on those around him, evident particularly in Buckingham’s betrayal, whose decision to “be gone” is largely due to Richard’s complacency in not appeasing Buckingham with the “earldom of Hereford”.  Richard’s gradual loss of influence is also evident in the failure of his language: particularly in his attempt to convince Elizabeth, Richard’s rhetoric in Act 4 is seen to degenerate, and in particular lines such as “Say I did all this for love of her” seem to echo the once successful wooing of Anne which Richard is now unable to replicate.  Finally, Richard’s demise as a villain is most obvious in the fact that his kingdom is overthrown by Richmond, and in his final cries of “A horse!  A horse!  My kingdom for a horse!”, it is evident that Shakespeare is constructing the image of an overthrown tyrant, whose power has been lost to the just world around him.  In contrast to his early successes, then, the eventual failure of Richard would suggest that he is not a perfect villain.

Moreover, alongside his physical and influential losses, Richard is seen to lose a personal stability in his ability to enact the role of a successful villain in the closing scenes of Richard III.  During the battle at Bosworth Field in Act 6, lines such as “But where tomorrow?...all’s one for that” indicate an antipathy for life, and the audience understands that the Richard being depicted is one with no future as King.  More significantly however, Richard is seen having his identity torn asunder, with the words in his soliloquy “Alas, I rather hate myself/For hateful deeds committed by myself” in particular relating to the audience a self-loathing and a loss of motivation for enacting evil.  Thus, by the denouement of the play, it is not only those around Richard who cannot tolerate his malevolence any longer: Richard, once determined to prove a villain, becomes unable to, having lost the force of his own will.

Nevertheless, it would be a misrepresentation of character to denounce Richard’s attempt at villainy as defunct.  Although his eventual demise is an indication of failure, the magnitude and quantity of Richard’s malevolence across the course of the play signify him as having succeeded to at least some extent in his determination to prove a villain: to the audience, he is evil incarnate, a fiendish schemer whose rise to power is absolutely bewildering.  The tragedy of Richard III is thus not merely the death of the innocent, but the destruction of the great; although he is personally abhorrent, as a villain, Richard demands the audience’s utmost respect.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2010, 10:10:55 am by EvangelionZeta »

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Re: English Work Examples Directory
« Reply #29 on: September 05, 2010, 11:49:50 pm »
Maestro text response - "The novel is one of hope and despair in equal measure"

Hello forum. Received 9.5 for this essay. Hope it helps.

Peter Goldsworthy’s coming of age novel Maestro discusses the implications of lost dreams, deep regret and human limitations, but also delivers a message of encouragement and hope. The protagonist, Paul Crabbe, is raised with a sense of self-entitlement and a predestined career as a concert pianist, but is forced to deal with an inability to attain perfection or concert glory. The high hopes of his parents eventually give way to the realization that their son lacks the rubato and musical flair for a performance career. Likewise, the novel’s namesake, Eduard Keller, loses his faith in society during World War Two, upon the death of his wife and child. This traumatic experience forces Keller to perpetuate his feelings of guilt and regret, so much so, that he lives his life a broken man, but goes to his death with the hope of reuniting with them. Ultimately, Paul learns to appreciate the beauty of music, unfettered by expectation or external influences, and this parallels the realization that the love of his family is the most important thing in his life. Thus, whilst the novel deals with despair and broken dreams, it largely conveys a message of hope and encouragement, of love and family.

John and Nancy Crabbes’ uncritical “fuss and praise” for their son, Paul, gives him a false sense of confidence and contributes to his obsession to succeed as a professional pianist. His father exclaims that Paul is going to be “better than [him], much better”, and his mother toasts his “wonderful talent” upon receiving his exam results. This contrasts with John Crabbe’s own personal hopes and dreams that were cut short during the war, as Nancy remarks that “your father didn’t have the same opportunities as you”. It is this repressed ambition that manifests itself during the annual Gilbert and Sullivan performance, as Paul “glimpses … some frivolous, joyous core that hardship, childhood tragedy and the war had buried inside him too long.” As a consequence, Paul becomes the facilitator for his parents’ ambitions and longings for success.

Paul also develops some ambitions of his own, proclaiming that he wants “the centre-stage, up front”, and works equally as hard “redoubling [his] efforts to defy the theory of limits”. Paul not only hopes for success, but believes that he is inherently capable of it. The starkly contrasts with Keller’s acerbic criticism, and often derogatory and humiliating remarks, that puts Paul down and lowers his self esteem. Keller rarely compliments his student, and often speaks his mind about Paul’s inability to attain musical brilliance. He describes Paul’s playing as a “forgery” in which “something was missing”. Additionally, Keller prophetically predicts Paul’s failure on the concert circuit in Europe, justifying his critique by remarking: “better a small hurt now, than a wasted life”. Thus, despite his best efforts, Paul dream of becoming a virtuoso eludes him as the Maestro expects: “[you are my] best student yes, one in a thousand. But a concert pianist is one in a million”. The hope that Paul’s parents imbue within him is thus contrasted and contradicted with Keller’s lack of faith in his student, and the eventual despondency that Paul experiences through a string of competition losses.

Similarly, Keller also experiences a mixture of hope and despair in his life. Telling Paul that “we always hope for the best”, Keller hides his true emotions of guilt and anger through a veneer of indifference more “complex and contradictory” than Paul senses on face value. Indeed, he suffers an acute “contempt and self-hatred” over the perceived guilt of losing his wife and child to the Nazis. Remarking that “I was too insensitive”, the Maestro recognizes his youthful arrogance, snickering: “Who would harm the wife of Eduard Keller?” The depths of his anguish are highlighted when Paul meets with Henisch, who believed that the Maestro “[had] died” - something that Paul interprets from a metaphorical and psychological standpoint. In this sense, Paul realises the Keller who played with passion and rubato died symbolically and lost hope after his wife and son died in the Holocaust. Moreover, Henisch remarks that “if he ever felt the desire to play again, he would hack his fingers off one by one”. With hindsight, Paul realizes that Keller could not “finish the job” of mutilating his hand – indicative of the Maestro’s desire to live out the rest of his life, by atoning for his actions through music. Perhaps his correspondence with his student, Paul, gives Keller a newfound hope to live, and he begins treating his protégé as a “son” through a “father’s hardness”. His affection and hopes for Paul are indicated by the gift of precious sheet music that he sends to Adelaide, and his rare confessional to Paul on his last night in Darwin. Thus, Keller becomes a “changed man”, and although he never overcomes the grief of his personal loss, his new student gives him hope for the future.

Conversely, Keller loses his faith in the power of music as a uniting force and the common “human denominator”. This is analogous to his anger at society, particularly Viennese society, as well as humanity for failing to save his family. For this reason, he remains “suspicious as always of beauty and the rhetoric of beauty”, and much like Vienna, views life through a prism of “ornamental facades, hiding the hypocrisy within” – a cynical view of society, lacking hope or trust. This is demonstrated by his obsessive interest in human behaviour through maintaining a journal of newspaper clippings that he describes as the “goitre of the world”. His quest to find meaning in his personal tragedy parallels the cynical stories he collects and “studies … carefully like [a] doctor.”

Paul’s mother, Nancy also experiences some despair upon moving to Darwin, as Paul finds her “weeping silently” because “she had left a bluestone villa in the south for this.” However as a pragmatic and resourceful housewife, she makes the best of her situation, and adjusts to her new setting, by organizing a social life for her family, as well as leading the local Gilbert and Sullivan society. Another new arrival to Darwin, Bennie Reid, is faced with the threats and bullying of Jimmy Pappas, but refuses to give in or accept defeat. Indeed, Paul notes his precarious situation with “nothing to lose … no known survival strategy.” However, Bennie refuses to back down and bears his scars stoically, with Paul admitting that he has to “admire [his] courage.” The fact that Bennie is eventually accepted into the prestigious military academy at Nowra, demonstrates that he clings to a hope of a better life after school, throughout the course of the novel.

The Maestro’s personal dejection is reflected through his rigid arithmetical teaching style, and his rejection of the grandiose operettas he once played in his youth. The quest to find some “ultimate discipline, some perfect control to set against the treacheries of emotion” is mirrored in the “scales and scales” that Paul is forced to practice. Ultimately, Keller remarks that “silence is the purest music” – indicative of his personal aversion to music and beauty following the war. It is this worldview and teaching style that negatively impacts on Paul’s performances, and ultimately his optimism: “In this sense Keller was the worst possible teacher: revealing perfection, and at the same time snatching it away”. This gives Paul reason to hope, but with the knowledge that he may never be capable of attaining perfection – something that leads to eventual anger and regret.

Ultimately, Paul becomes disillusioned with his musical shortcomings, realizing that “I had found my level, my performances frozen into a recurring pattern of Also Rans”. This provides a backdrop to his earlier expectation of “eisteddfod glory”. Paul’s single musical victory as a keyboardist for the band Rough Stuff does not produce the expected effect of exaltation, as he feels “strangely deflated”. It is perhaps ironic that he succeeds where he least expects, as he feels as if the victory handed to the band is frivolous and undeserving. Paul’s despair is most vividly enunciated upon Keller’s death when he comments that he had “reached the end of a long last hope”, and the final connection in a genetic lifeline spanning all the way to “grandfather Liszt”.

On his deathbed, Keller senses that he will rejoin his family after death, providing him with the comfort he longs for: “his face tilting upwards … toward some imagined source of light and warmth, his eyes shining”.  This provides a benign and comforting end for a long and troubled life. Much like Keller, Paul is “beyond music” at this stage: the facilitator of his hopes, dreams and disappointments now becomes a source of consolation and enjoyment: “a species of time”, and “like the world, infinitely complex.”

Paul ultimately realizes that his lack of achievement is relatively unimportant, and that achievement and success come in many forms. The life lessons that younger Paul learns from the Maestro solidify in his life experiences and are reflected through the more mature Paul, who frequently comments on his childhood. Thus, he feels that despite his earlier “ridiculous dreams”, he “still [loved] it”. In this sense, he looks back on his childhood not with despair – but with nostalgia, longing and affection. In addition, Paul’s love for the mainstay in his life, Rosie who “always seemed able to tell me exactly what I wanted to hear” and the birth of his child, give him something to live for and look forward to. This provides the novel with an overall message of hope and encouragement, of personal growth and the realization that to love and be loved are the most important things in life.

In conclusion, whilst despair, anguish and torment are key themes in Maestro, the characters through their resilience, and ultimately through their love of music and each other impart a message of hope. The key idea, is that despair is necessary for hope, and ultimately the achievement of goals and desires.  In this respect, Goldsworthy paints an optimistic picture and a celebration of life in all its diversity.

Word Count: 1674
2009: Math Methods CAS [48]
2010: English [47]|Specialist Maths[44]|Physics[42]|Hebrew[37]|Accounting[48]  atar: 99.80
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