Chapter One

Before we all ride into the sunset and bring 2017 to a close, I thought I’d kickstart our reading of Pride and Prejudice with a detailed analysis of Volume I Chapter I that lays the ground for our future study of Austen’s narrator, characters and the overlapping concerns of the text.

Beginnings are important, because they set up the reader’s expectations and illuminate the chapters that follow.

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I Really Really Really Like Repetition

All, all, all you Lit students, all you Lit students should really really really watch this. If there’s anything you should realise in our study of the three literary genres, it’s that repetition has a place in the writer’s craft. Repetition creates rhythm, pumping emphasis, injecting urgency and deepening despair in different contexts. Far from “uncreative”, repetition and cumulation – the use of words with similar meaning – make explicit to the reader / audience the importance of those very words (both denotative and connotative meanings), reinforce impressions of characters and ingrain an understanding of the writer’s concerns. So, yeah, repetition slays.

Metaphors

altered-straits.jpg

In this first of hopefully many Lit Cuts, we explore various literary methods – poetic, dramatic, prosaic – across texts outside our narrow syllabus. Just as hopefully, these posts will clarify your understanding and expand our imagination of what literature can be, and how writers carve out new meaning for themselves.

In this post, we dive into the use of figurative language in one enthralling chapter from Altered Straits. Half of the novel is based on the boy-soldier Naufal Jazair’s fight against “an aggressive neighbour” in a reimagined Singapore in 1947.

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Growing

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.

It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.

From Billy Collins, ‘On Turning Ten’

What the Duke Has Done

Just who is Duke Vincentio and what are his real motives? With these vital questions in hand, Ms. Ang’s lecture rummaged through the rampant “plotting, manipulation and duplicity” in Measure for Measure. Do these means justify the ends — that of exposing Angelo, restoring social order and purging Venice’s moral/sexual corruption?

This question assumes that the Duke “conforms to the traditional figure of the wise ruler” who always exercises “his wise and kindly concern for others” (Miles).  In other words, he must be the “convincingly remote” authority figure  whose actions are ultimately “benevolent” and morally righteous, even if his methods arouse our suspicion at times. This is the Duke that predominates Act 5.

This post, taking inspiration from an unlikely source, rethinks the above assumption. What if the Duke is not a corrector of vices? What if he is instead “profoundly disingenuous” (Miles), “very odd” in his execution of intentions (Adelman) and finally, self-important to disconcerting extremes? Lest the audience forgets, the Duke spends a protracted sequence in disguise and never clarifies his shifting position on Angelo. The play arguably presents to us three distinct Dukes with different intentions:

  • The Duke in Act 1 (“D1“) who avows his love for the people but not their vehement attentions. He proceeds to temporarily cede control to Angelo, his deputy;
  • The Duke disguised as the Friar (“D/F“) in Acts 2 -4, and the early section of Act 5, lurking in the shadows to manipulate; and
  • The Duke who resurfaces triumphantly in public during Act 5 (“D5“), pronouncing and quickly renouncing punishment upon Angelo and Lucio, and making amends to Claudio, Isabella and Mariana.

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Foolish Games

FoolishGames

What would you do if you were Nick and Honey, and were invited over to after-party drinks with Martha and George? Mind you, the first words you hear as George opens the front door are a resounding “FUCK YOU!” (Act One, 20).

These words, after we hear the odd chuckle from the audience, should cause consternation, if not terror, for you, the guest-cum-hostage of the house. Thus chained to Nick and Honey’s perspective, Albee’s audience is made to experience George and Martha’s menace, which is as divorced from “Fun and Games” as can be.

As Ms Yeo analysed in her introduction lecture, the title of Act One is primarily ironic in effect and serves notice of the “dangerous”, “shocking”, “almost unbearable” truths (New American Library) the entire play communicates to its prisoners — the audience.

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Questions on the Unseen

Post-Mid Year Section A Review

You were invited to ask me questions about either poem, analysis / response skills or how to go about dealing with specific evidence on Mentimeter. As Prince Charming observes, better to be a toad than a t*rd! Find my responses below. Also remember to head over to the Essays section to read a selection of ‘good’ responses from the Mid Year Exam – the same password applies.

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CA4 Review: Her World

Lost in Translation

As with CA3, I didn’t mark quite enough scripts to provide a detailed evaluation of what went right and what went wrong. Expect this post to be a little more free form in its outlay of thoughts on the mind and self, Ayckbourn’s Woman in Mind and the methods contained therein. For memory’s sake, we will be responding to the CA4 question listed below:

Explore the play’s treatment of the ways in which the environment has an impact on an individual’s mind and self.

For efficiency, we will not repeat the question analysis and approaches that Ms Yeo shared with you during the lecture in T2 W10 — not in the conventional sense anyway. What we will be doing is to rustle up a few relevant ideas and methods that may prove useful at the upcoming Mid-Year Examination. Whatever the case, be warned: the questions will never be the same, so your (one?) job is to be extremely selective, adapt points and evidence skilfully and, duh of duhs, answer the question. Padding done, so let’s open up the windows to Susan’s mental universe.

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