Thursday, 6 December 2012

READING, WATCHING, DISCUSSING JANE AUSTEN'S EMMA



Emma was written between January 1814 and March 1815. The setting of the narrative's action would appear to be recent: 1813-14. By this period, Austen was a known and successful writer. Like Sense and Sensibility, the work was published on commission by the distinguished house of John Murray. It was published ('by the author of Pride and Prejudice, etc.') in December 1815 (dated 1816 on the title page). The novel was dedicated to the Prince Regent, at the request of the Carlton House Librarian, the Revd James Stanier Clarke.

When , in January 1815, Jane Austen began to write her fifth novel, EMMA, she stated that she was working at creating a heroine that nobody but herself would be able to like ("I am going to take a heroine whom no-one but myself will much like.")

The Heroine
Emma Woodhouse is beautiful, clever and wealthy (the only Austen heroine to own all these “virtues”) but also spoilt and a bit snob. Readers, especially Austen’s contemporary readers, shouldn’t like her much since Emma definitely lacks the common sense, balance and measure of other heroines. Yet, even with her faults and her mistakes, the character of Emma is drawn to get sympathy and understanding; the reader tends to forgive her and to side with her in a totally irrational way. Emma’s defects, constantly underlined in the text, make her the perfect anti-heroine: she is not particularly accomplished, she has been educated by too an indulgent father and too a friendly governess, she has great self-esteem and tends to misinterpret reality according to her wishes. In a few words, she is not “by the book”, if we think of the 18th century “conduct - books” about the education of girls belonging to high society. But , of course, Jane Austen, is mocking those clichés, so her Emma is not only beautiful and intelligent but , above all, free. It is Mr Knightley himself to acknowledge that Emma is perfect with all her imperfections. 

Monday, 3 December 2012

SHAKESPEARE'S RICHARD III IN MOVIES - VIDEO COMPARISON


While historians and historical fiction writers have re-discovered and re-written what people for centuries have thought of Richard III, the only image we have on stage and in films is the one we inherited from Shakespeare.
"The history of the world, like letters without poetry, flowers without perfume, or thought without imagination, would be a dry matter indeed without its legends, and many of these, though scorned by proof a hundred times, seem worth preserving for their own familiar sakes". (from the preamble of Richard III 1955)
On Imdb you can find a detailed list of all the filmed works dedicated to or  focusing on Richard III,  and including even those movies just featuring him as a minor character. But, except for The Black Arrow (adaptation of R. L. Stevenson's historical novel in which young Richard of Gloucester helps the protagonist Richard - Dick - Shelton), in all of them we have him portrayed as the wicked villain. 

Monday, 26 November 2012

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE & THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER


 DOWNLOAD THE POWER POINT PRESENTATION 

S.T.COLERIDGE AND THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER  

from the widget_box on the right 

LINKS & CONNECTIONS

  If you like heavy metal, IRON MAIDEN made a rock version of Coleridge's ballad

Video: IRON MAIDEN THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER PART 


Lyrics  


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH


WILLIAM WORDSWORTH
  • Preface to "Lyrical Ballads" - The Manifesto of English Romanticism (1800)
  • everyday situations as the subject of poetry
  • use of the language of common people purified by the poet
  • recollection in tranquillity
  • the poet is a man speaking to men but with a greater sensitivity

Monday, 19 November 2012

THE THREE TRENDS IN ENGLISH ROMANTIC POETRY - NOTES

John Constable

In the second half of the 18th century the new  trends in poetry  had bonds to the Augustan tradition but proposed new ideas and feelings which paved the way to the Romantic generations of poets.
1.       PASTORAL POETRY
Cottage-Girl-with-Dog-and-Pitcher-largeMain representative: William Cowper (1731-1800)
Main work: The Task (1785)
·         Reacted to the social changes taking place in the country with a re-evaluation of rural origins and a sense of melancholy and sadness

Thursday, 15 November 2012

WAS RICHARD III REALLY THE VILLAIN SHAKESPEARE PORTRAYS?

Was Richard III really the scheming, villanous tyrant Shakespeare so powerfully  depicted in his tragedy? 
The Richard III Society, believes it untrue. They state: 


 "… the purpose and indeed the strength of the Richard III Society derive from the belief that the truth is more powerful than lies - a faith that even after all these centuries the truth is important. It is proof of our sense of civilised values that something as esoteric and as fragile as reputation is worth campaigning for." 

What they reject is the portrait Shakespeare drew from Sir Thomas More's biography of the last Plantagenet kings, Edward IV first, his younger brother Richard III then.

What was the full Thomas More treatment, that still seems to be current in some quarters?  Let us look at the dossier that has been built up against Richard III:

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

THEMES & TOPICS - WAR IN SCOTT'S NOVELS

Just some reflections on how war and fighting are seen in Sir Walter Scott’s novels.




ivanhoeScott has a Romantic idea of war: he presents it as heroic, shaped by the code of romances. According to him the battlefield is a place where every man can practise and show his bravery, his loyalty, his desire to sacrifice himself for other human beings or for a cause. War is the field of the hero and the rebel dissatisfied with society and its unjust rules. War is considered an idealized moment, men fight for some right reasons and for their ideals. 
Scott doesn’t describe the atrocities of killing, he distances the violence of a conflict transforming war into a source of imaginative pleasure, he undercovers the horrors of war with the idea of  future glory. Connected to this conception of war there is the cult of the individual, typical of the Romantic age: a rebel, a hero who fights to defend people unjustly accused, who fights to restore the just lists, against society .

Monday, 5 November 2012

WAVERLEY & IVANHOE: TWO ROMANTIC HEROES

WAVERLEY (1814)
PLOT

       Edward Waverley is educated in an English Jacobite aristocratic family.

       He is sent to Scotland to join the Hanoverian army of king George II.

       He visits a Jacobite family friend, whose daughter, Rose, falls in love with him.

       He , instead, is attracted by Flora Mac Ivor, the sister of the chief of the      rebels, Fergus.

       Edward betrays his mates and joins the rebels.

       He is finally forgiven by the king and marries Rose.

       Fergus is killed and Flora retires into a convent.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT
Waverley is set during the period of the Jacobite uprisings: it starts in the late summer of 1744 and ends many months after the battle of Culloden (1746) when the Jacobites were defeated and their cause was virtually destroyed.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

MY STUDENTS GIVE THEIR LESSONS : THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY

Giulia, Nico e Sara closed the series of lessons my 5scB students gave to the rest of the class after reading a 19th century novel of their choice during summer. This morning it was the turn of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. The three students in the group used pictures and Power Point slides to visually support their very informative speech about the author, the characters, the story and the themes in the novel.
Since we are not working on the Victorian Age yet, they didn't try to contextualize Oscar Wilde's work. They instead made very interesting points analysing the themes .
While listening, their mates took notes. I sadly noticed that some of them were rather "surprised" at discovering  Oscar Wilde's troubles and tragic end due to his homosexuality. The mentioned some were rather judgemental and, I'm afraid,  I can't bear that. Unfortunately,  in my experience, young people are sometimes much less tolerant and less understanding than adults. I must work on that. Promise.
(The power point presentation used in this lesson is in the widget_box on the right - Dorian Gray 2012)


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

MY STUDENTS GIVE THEIR LESSONS: JANE EYRE

Federica, Valeria e Veronica read Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre in the summer and prepared a very interesting lesson  about the author and the novel.

They presented their points and analysis with power point slides that you can download from the widget_box on the right (Jane Eyre 2012) and they also proposed us a scene from the latest movie adaptation of the story with Michael Fassbender as Mr Rochester and Mia Wasikowska as Jane Eyre. 

They said they liked reading this novel  and I hope they will also like studying Victorian literature from January on.

For now, in our lessons,  we are working on the different genres of fiction between the end of 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century (Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, Walter Scott)

Tomorrow we'll work on Pride and Prejudice. "It is a truth universally acknowledged that ..." a teacher fond of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and great classic literature is having and will have great fun.

 Will her students ever share her passion?

Friday, 12 October 2012

MY STUDENTS GIVE THEIR LESSONS: PERSUASION BY JANE AUSTEN

The book Elena, Eleonora, Elisabetta, Emi e Valentina read last summer was Persuasion  so they prepared their lesson on Jane Austen's last novel , introducing also The Novel of Manners as a genre . They carefully chose information, videos and pictures to report to the rest of the class with the help of a power point presentation.

They carefully analysed the characters and the themes in the story, proposed their favourite scenes from the 2007 adaptation of the book and introduced to their mates the woman question referring to authors like Mary Wollstonecraft and Margaret Fuller to finally discuss the fact if Jane Austen can be considered a feminist writer.

 You'll find their work in a folder in the widget_box on the right sidebar. 

Thursday, 11 October 2012

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE - PART II

As it often happens in Jane Austen’s novels, a letter will be the turning point in the hero/heroine relationship. Darcy writes to Elizabeth and a journey of self-realization will start for her:
 


 After Darcy's explanation Jane Austen writes that Elizabeth …
“ …grew absolutely ashamed of herself, - of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think, without feeling that she had been blind, partial,prejudiced , absurd”.
“Till this moment, I never knew myself”,  Elizabeth thinks.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

JANE AUSTEN & THE NOVEL OF MANNERS: PRIDE AND PREJUDICE - PART I

The Bennets (BBC Pride and Prejudice 1995)
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”.
This is the widely popular sentence opening the widely popular story of the five Bennet sisters  written by Jane Austen between October 1796 and August 1797. Its original title was FIRST IMPRESSIONS but it was published only in 1813 with the title, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.
The opening scene is set in Hertfordshire, a county that nowadays has practically become part of Greater London, as suburban development stretches even further northwards. In the late 18th century, however, it was still well-wooded countryside.
The story opens early in September, when Jane Austen takes us straight into Longbourn House to listen to the Bennets’ conversation after dinner. Mrs Bennet is making plans for husband –hunting on her daughters’ behalf. Five daughters and an estate worth £2,000 a year were not an easy situation to cope with, especially if your husband (Mr Bennet) is not very good at saving. The urgent need for husbands is also due to the fact that the estate of Longbourn is “entailed” – a legal arrangement whereby the property could descend only to a male heir.

Friday, 28 September 2012

THE GOTHIC NOVEL - NOTES & POWER POINT PRESENTATION



THE SUBLIME

The term refers to a linguistic, literary or artistic form which expresses noble or elevated feelings and behaviour. The concept of sublime was analysed by an unknown rhetorician of the 1st century AD who identified  the sublime with the beautiful and found its origin not in the perfection of style but in the passion of inspiration echoing in the soul .

Friday, 21 September 2012

PERSUASION BY JANE AUSTEN - NOTES & LINKS FOR 5scB GROUP WORK


Persuasion was Jane Austen's last completed novel, written between summer 1815 and summer 1816. In 1816 the author fell into the lingering illness which eventually killed her, in July 1817. 
Austen herself may have suspected the plot lacked her normal sparkle, since she thought the original ending was 'tame and flat', and rewrote it (the revised ending has a number of hanging threads which, perversely, leave a piquant taste). In March 1817 she told her niece Fanny Knight that she had another novel ready for publication, but added: 'You will not like it, so you need not be impatient. You may perhaps like the Heroine, as she is almost too good for me.' Discriminating critics have, more often, found it her most mature—if least funny—work. The novel was published posthumously in a four-volume bundle along with  Northanger Abbey (her least mature work), by John Murray, in December 1817 (dated 1818 on the title page), together with an informative 'Biographical Notice of the Author' written by Jane's brother (and sometime unofficial literary agent) Henry Austen. The novel's action can be precisely placed (thanks to the Baronetage entry on the first page) as being over nine months,summer 1814 to spring 1815. 

Study questions - Reflect on the following  points
1. Is Anne a frail or a strong woman? What do you most like in her? What, instead, do you like the least? 
2. What about Captain Wentworth? Is he too proud, too austere, too resentful toward Anne? What do you most admire in his character? Is there anything you don't like?

Sunday, 16 September 2012

AN OVERVIEW OF LATE 18th - EARLY 19th CENTURY FICTION


The last three decades of the 18th century saw a great amount of new fiction written and published in England. The novel had risen at the beginning of the  century to respond to the needs of culture and education of the new ascending social class: the bourgeoisie. A new sensibility was now spreading and , though the audience was still made up of upper and middle-class readers, the novelists offered a great variety of new genres rooted in and indebted to the previous production of Richardson, Fielding or Sterne but different and original in many ways
If you have a look at the chart below, you’ll immediately realize that the major representatives of the three main kinds of novel wrote or published more or less in the same years.

Friday, 25 May 2012

SAMUEL RICHARDSON - PAMELA & CLARISSA

PAMELA, OR VIRTUE REWARDED (1740)


The story

Pamela has been the servant girl of Lady B. for many years. When the noblewoman dies, Pamela is very sad: she loved Lady B. because she had always been very good to her and given her an education far beyond her means. Mr B., Lady B.’s son, offers to let her remain in the household and Pamela accepts with gratitude,  but it soon becomes clear that Mr B. intends to seduce her . He then offers to send her home to her parents, but the coachman, who is one of Mr B.’s men, drives her instead to Mr B.s country house, where she is virtually a prisoner. The girl, however, resists all of her master’s advances until Mr B., who is really in love with Pamela, finally asks to marry him. The second part of the book shows Pamela and Mr B.’s married life. Pamela is the model wife and MR B. too is in the end  converted to a sober well-regulated life.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

READING DUBLINERS BY JAMES JOYCE (1914)

 TRUTH AS THE SUBJECT OF ART

joyce_abbott
To defend his work harshly attacked for his bitterness and his inconvenient realism, Joyce asserted that for their “spiritual liberation” the Irish needed to gaze in his “nicely polished looking-glass”, Joyce suggests that by seeing themselves so faithfully represented the Irish would come to a moment of “anagnorisis” or self-recognition, a recognition which would be “the first step” out of “hemiplegia” or unilateral paralysis in which they currently existed.


What’sthe matter with you is that you’re afraid  to live. You and people like you. This city  is suffering from hemiplegia of the will” Joyce remembered to his brother Stanislaus. According to him, by reading his Dubliners , Dubliners would recognize their paralysis, that recognition would stimulate movement, “ a first step toward freedom, toward civilization.

Joyce’s aim in Dubliners seems that of the satirist whose purpose in writing is to expose vice or folly to the end of correction. The common feature among the 15 stories is that the protagonists do not react to their paralysis or when they try to escape it they fail; they all fail.


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

THE AGE OF MODERNISM - PART II


VIRGINIA WOOLF AND THE NEW NOVEL

(notes from an old book of mine, E. Chinol ENGLISH LITERATURE vol.II, Liguori Editore, 1983. I hope you can find them useful)
The main development of the early 20th century novel represents a break with the naturalist school and a movement towards a more subtle and complex vision of man and his world. The break occurred during the second decade of the century (“on or about December 1910” Virginia Woolf said, “ human nature changed”), when a new generation of writers began to question the conventions and the pretended objectivity of the traditional novel. Also with the help of new developments in psychology, especially of Freud’s psychoanalysis, they proposed to go beyond the apparently rational surface of the conscious mind, digging deep into the obscure, irrational world of the unconscious. And with them reality becomes a matter of personal impressions; the focus of attention shifts from external facts to our reactions to them.

Monday, 7 May 2012

THE AGE OF MODERNISM - PART I

MODERNISM AND THE NOVEL

In terms of the novel's development, World War I (1914-18) marks a fundamental break between the old world and the new. Fiction before this period generally followed the styles, forms and themes of the Victorian period, although writers such as Henry James and Joseph Conrad had already begun to develop techniques that would later be more fully exploited by the modern novel.For many people the experience of the war, in which hundreds of thousands had been killed, shattered their faith in society and its institutions. Mechanised industry had prospered on the backs of underpaid labourers. Now those same workers were being sent to their deaths in the trenches in a similarly mechanical manner. With the 1914-18 war, the dehumanising effects of industrial society reached their peak.
The Modernists, horrified by the effect of war and mechanised society in general, were interested in recovering the unique experience of the indiviaduals by exploring and recreating their inner world.
The Modernist novel was to shatter most conventions which had typified Victorian fiction. The co-ordinates of the Victorian moral universe collapsed and was replaced by a climate of moral ambiguity or even by a sense of emptiness which signalled and absence of values. All this was reflected in the themes of most modernist novels.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

DEFOE AND SWIFT - A COMPARISON AND OTHER NOTES

 LEMUEL GULLIVER - Although Gulliver is a bold adventurer who visits a multitude of strange lands, it is difficult to regard him as truly heroic. Even well before his slide into misanthropy at the end of the book, he simply does not show the stuff of which grand heroes are made. He is not cowardly—on the contrary, he undergoes the unnerving experiences of nearly being devoured by a giant rat, taken captive by pirates, shipwrecked on faraway shores, sexually assaulted by an eleven-year-old girl, and shot in the face with poison arrows. Additionally, the isolation from humanity that he endures for sixteen years must be hard to bear, though Gulliver rarely talks about such matters. Yet despite the courage Gulliver shows throughout his voyages, his character lacks basic greatness. This impression could be due to the fact that he rarely shows his feelings, reveals his soul, or experiences great passions of any sort. But other literary adventurers, like Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey, seem heroic without being particularly open about their emotions. (...)

If you want to continue reading CLICK HERE

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

VIRGINIA WOOLF IN THE MOVIE "THE HOURS" - CLIPS


Virginia Woolf became a complex, fascinating character in Michael Cunningham's THE HOURS (1999). When the movie was released in 2002, the role of Virginia ,  interpreted by Nicole Kidmanbrought to the Australian actress the Oscar as Best Actress.

Here are two clips from that movie 

Sunday, 29 April 2012

MRS DALLOWAY BY VIRGINIA WOOLF - CLARISSA AND SEPTIMUS

THE STORY

Mrs. Dalloway covers one day from morning to night in one woman's life. Clarissa Dalloway, an upper-class housewife, walks through her London neighborhood to prepare for the party she will host that evening. When she returns from flower shopping, an old suitor and friend, Peter Walsh, drops by her house unexpectedly. The two have always judged each other harshly, and their meeting in the present intertwines with their thoughts of the past. Years earlier, Clarissa refused Peter's marriage proposal, and Peter has never quite gotten over it. Peter asks Clarissa if she is happy with her husband, Richard, but before she can answer, her daughter, Elizabeth, enters the room. Peter leaves and goes to Regent's Park. He thinks about Clarissa's refusal, which still obsesses him.




Monday, 16 April 2012

THE WAR POETS - RUPERT BROOKE, SIGFRIED SASSOON & WILFRED OWEN

One of the greatest tragedies the world has ever experienced was the First World War. With absolute determination, nations dedicated every ounce of human talent, energy and resources to the destruction of human life. Millions were killed; millions were disabled by hideous wounds, mental breakdown, bereavement. Life was worsened throughout Europe and the effects were long-lasting.  The so-called Age of Anxiety started, which still goes on. The age of wars.

In the history of mankind war has been a rare and quite abnormal state of affairs, and when wars broke out in earlier centuries most were confined to quite small numbers of participants fighting for a few hours or days with simple weapons in small areas of land. 
So the First World War announced the century of war. It was to be a century in which whole nations would suffer and support war and the destructive power developed by scientists would create death, misery and brutalisation, on a new and quite astonishing scale. The human race had moved into the era of scientific savagery.

Friday, 13 April 2012

ULYSSES BY ALFRED TENNYSON

Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)
Ulysses by Alfred Tennyson (1833) is a dramatic monologue, a kind of narrative poem in which a single character may address one or more listeners. It is related to the soliloquy used in the Elizabethan plays.
It is usually written in blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameters).
In a dramatic monologue the character is different from the poet himself and is caught in a crucial moment of crisis. 


It little profits that an idle king, 
By this still hearth, among these barren crags, 
Match’d with an aged wife, I mete and dole 
Unequal laws unto a savage race, 
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me. 

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink 
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy’d 
Greatly, have suffer’d greatly, both with those 
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when 
Thro’ scudding drifts the rainy Hyades 
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name; 
For always roaming with a hungry heart 

Monday, 9 April 2012

THE MYTH OF ROBINSON CRUSOE

1. ROBINSON AS THE SUCCESSFUL SELF- MADE MAN

Robinson Crusoe  belongs to the tradition of the bildungsroman - German for "formation novel" in that it follows the protagonist development in a period of his life. the novel starts with Robinson as a young man who is supposed to obey and respect his father's  ideas but knows that he has to work out his own destiny. He breaks with his middle-class background and pressures of his family to face the unknown both because he feels the appeal of adventures and in the name of economic independence.
According to the critic Ian  Watt, Robinson Crusoe exemplifies the homo economicus, the successful self-made  man who enjoys and exploits the island where he was shipwrecked:

"Crusoe's island gives him the complete laissez faire which economic man needs to realizes his aims. At home, market conditions, taxation, and problems of the labour supply make it impossible for the individual to control every aspect of productionistribution and exchange. The conclusion is obvious. Follow the call of the wide open places, discover an island that is desert only because it is barren of owners or competitors and there build your personal empire with the help of a man Friday who needs no wages and makes it much easier to support the white man's burden" .

Watt claims for Robinson the title of capitalist:

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

THE 18th CENTURY AND THE RISE OF THE NOVEL

Robinson Crusoe
Daniel Defoe,Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding  are generally regarded as the fathers of the English novel, though they did not constitute a literary school. Did they create a new genre completely different from the prose fiction of the past, from that of Greece or of the Middle Ages? If there are differences, is there any reason why these differences appeared in 18th century English literature?

These interesting questions are the ones we are going to try to give an answer reading several passages from Daniel Defoe's ROBINSON CRUSOE, Jonathan Swift's GULLIVER'S TRAVELS as well as working in small groups on projects about Tobias Smollet, Henry Fielding, Samuel Richardson and Laurence Sterne.
These are also the questions a celebrated scholar like Ian Watt tried to answer in his well-known essay "The Rise of the Novel". Here's an excerpt from the opening pages:

Friday, 30 March 2012

THE 18th CENTURY - THE HANOVERIANS AND THE AUGUSTAN AGE


ZOFFANY, Johann (1733 - 1810)

Generally regarded as a golden age, the 18th century in England was called Augustan after the period of Roman history which had achieved political stability and power as well as a flourishing of the arts. In addition to  the pages in your text book, download ( from the flash_widget box on the right ) and study the Power Point Presentation "The 18th century" with notes about the historical, social and cultural context of the age.

Monday, 26 March 2012

OSCAR WILDE & THE END OF AN AGE - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY



"Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you. Be always searching for new
sensations. Be afraid of nothing(...)"
O. Wilde from THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY

Friday, 16 March 2012

THE THEME OF THE DOUBLE: CALVINO AND STEVENSON


Robert Louis Stevenson
To find links and connections between different literatures can be interesting as well as useful while preparing the interdisciplinary Esame di Stato.
The double is one of those themes which have aroused the interest of all literatures in all ages : Hoffmann, Dostoevskij, Gogol, Gautier, Maupassant, Poe, Calvino, Conrad and Kafka, to name only a few, have all, like Stevenson, probed the notion of duality.
The double, or doppelganger, is a second self, or alter ego, which appears as a distinct and separate being perceived by the physical senses, but existing in a dependent relation to the original. "Dependent" does not mean "subordinate"; in fact often the double comes to dominate, control and usurp the functions of the subject. It became also a device of psychological penetration for many writers.
Calvino's humorous short story "Il visconte dimezzato" deals with the same

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

FRANKENSTEIN VS JEKYLL

As promised, after reading some passages from Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" in our latest lessons, it's now time to find links and connections with other texts we previously read. 


"Jekyll and Hyde" (1886) and Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus" (1818) share numerous features, as a matter of fact.

1. THE FIGURE OF THE OVERREACHER - The two protagonists are scientists who, led by their great ambition, fulfill their achievement but, thus doing, they overcome the limits and borders imposed to them by ethics, nature or God. Their punishment is death by exhaustion in one case, by self-destruction in the other. Both are OVERREACHERS, rebels who go beyond the limits imposed to Mankind by God or Nature, who have their prototype in Prometheus, the mythical Titan who defied Zeus stealing the fire from the Olympus.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE (1886)




A Power Point Presentation of the plot and themes in the novel and a
Power Point Presentation with notes about the author
can be found in the Widget_ box on the right


1. ROBERT LOUISE STEVENSON
2. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

SOCIAL ISSUES IN VICTORIAN BRITAIN - CHILDREN AT WORK

Children's working conditions

Children had an unhappy childhood. They worked hard to satisfy the needs of their parents because families were very poor and they didn't have enough money, so children worked. They underwent very difficult conditions of employment. Days were long for them : eight or twelve hours a day, six days a week. Children worked in manufactories.

At that time, there was no insurance and when children had accidents or were ill they didn't have any help. Many children often worked with adults : they worked under the same conditions. Children were small, they could go into narrow spaces, children were clever too and employers appreciated these qualities. Nowadays , in poor countries, many children often work to help their parents but the conditions of employment may be better than the industrial revolution in England.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

THE GIFT OF ENGLISH BY CORNELIS DE JONG


Break out of the mould. Dare to grasp the most beautiful thing in life: language. English is free - anyone may possess it. He who acquires it at school, if the teacher was good, will have received the most valuable gift of all; more valuable than any other gift he is likely to receive for the rest of his life.
Although language is the most complex subject we will ever learn in our lives, we are perfectly equipped to acquire language from an early age; in fact we have the capacity to acquire several languages of almost equal fluency as our mother tongue. There have been many studies on bi- or multilingualism, but one thing is certain: starting off life (for the first 10-12 years) with just one language is by far the better option.
Just how complex is language, compared to, say, mathematics? We cannot be certain (as yet) but if the volume of connections in the brain invested in language is an indicator, it must be in the order of many, many times more complex. On the other hand, this may be a false indicator as we probably allocate about as much space in our brains to facial recognition: body language is as important to us as verbal and vocal language.  


Monday, 23 January 2012

THE INDUSTRIAL NOVEL - SHIRLEY BY CHARLOTTE BRONTE (1849)

Set in Yorkshire during the time of the Luddite unrest—a workers' movement that began in 1811-1812 in an effort to protect the interests of the working class—the novel consists of two narrative strands woven together, one involving the struggles of workers against mill owners, and the other involving the romantic entanglements of the two heroines.

Plot

Shirley begins as Robert Moore, a Yorkshire mill operator, awaits a shipment of machinery which arrives in pieces, smashed by angry workers protesting the loss of jobs to mechanization. Although he is determined to become successful in order to restore his family's honor and fortune, Robert's business difficulties continue, due in part to the continuing labor unrest, but even more so to the Napoleonic Wars and the accompanying Orders in Council which forbid British merchants from trading in American markets.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

MASTERS & WORKERS : MR THORNTON AND NICHOLAS HIGGINS, THE IDEAL RELATIONSHIP ACCORDING TO MRS GASKELL

In  Mary Barton  (1848), Elizabeth Gaskell  started to draw her own tragic picture of the “eternal subject for agitation in the manufacturing districts”: “the differences between the employers and the employees”.  John Barton, after witnessing  the painful death of his only little son helplessly, had tried to fight for better living and better working conditions for himself and his fellow workers as chairman of a Trade Union  . He had also joined a political movement asking for universal male suffrage and the possibility for a man of no property to become member of Parliament:  Chartism . All his attempts resulted  as failures and that made his rage against factory-owners explode into murder.

Desperate workers attack the mill - From BBC North and South (2004)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

STUDYING & WATCHING NORTH AND SOUTH BY ELIZABETH GASKELL (1855)

 THE STORY

When Margaret Hale arrives in Milton - in the industrial northern district of England - she is so disappointed by the bleak, smoky, noisy, grey atmosphere of the place. Her father has left the Church and decided to uproot his family from Helstone , in the beautiful countryside of the South of England. Margaret is greatly prejudiced against the people from the North and their rather direct, almost wild manners. So she starts idealizing the South

Mr Bell, one of Mr Hale’s former university mates, suggested them to settle in Milton where he owns a cotton mill run by his tenant, Mr John Thornton. Mr Thornton helps the Hales to find accomodation and becomes Mr Hale’s friend and pupil. He is handsome and smart, self-confident and successful in his job, greatly appreciated in Milton both as an entepreneur and a magistrate.

Monday, 9 January 2012

ELIZABETH GASKELL AND THE INDUSTRIAL NOVEL - MARY BARTON (1848) - POWER POINT PRESENTATIONS, WORKSHEET & VIDEO


In the Flash_Widget Box on the right you'll find two Power Point Presentations related to Mrs Gaskell and her first novel, Mary Barton (1848):
- Gaskell ppt
- Mary Barton ppt
Click on the icons in the box and download them.
With Mrs Gaskell and her "industrial" or "social - problem" novels, 
 we will be able to experience a completely new world as readers, that of Victorian industrial cities with their restless, fierce and troublesome citizens: factory owners and factory workers, "masters" and "hands", the rich and the poor.
Industrialization was radically changing the strictly  conservative Victorian society but the strife to obtain modernity and basic rights was to be long, hard, paved with sufference and tragedy for workers.