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.
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.
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’
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.
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.
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.
In this pre-JC1 Mid Year Examination post, we recover some of the key methods and approaches already listed on Multiverse p6-7 and p13-20. Some of what you find here will be slightly strategic, condensing parts of Multiverse into an exam-focused guide. Read on, and for the busy bees, the ‘pointers’ are presented as bullet points.
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.
This supplementary review of our third CA on Act 2 Sc 1 in Measure has been much delayed by sickness but hopefully arrives in time for revision purposes.
The Term 2 Week 9 lecture already covered the key ideas for this particular passage-based question (PBQ), as well as some of the skills. Regarding the latter, I’m confident that most of us are fully aware of the need to analyse methods and effects, close analyse specific words for effects, discuss concerns, and evaluate links to elsewhere in a PBQ answer. The question that a typical student would (and should) have is really, ‘how do I do this?’ rather than ‘what must I do?’. If you do need to ask yourself the latter question, you may wish to acquire a guilty look not unlike the picture above before moving to the next paragraph.
This post seeks to demonstrate the aforementioned skills (with periodic reminders of what they are!) while also studying what I found to be a conceptually difficult part of the passage — Angelo’s ironic avowal on the ‘thievish’ traits of a jury or judge. We’ll have this on lockdown in no time, so let’s get to it.