The Purpose of this Blog

Your task on this blog is to write a brief summary of what we learned in class today. Include enough detail so that someone who was ill or missed the lesson can catch up with what they missed. Over the course of the term, these 'class scribe' posts will grow to be a guide book for the course, written by students for students.

With each post ask yourself the following questions:
1) Is this good enough for our guide book?
2) Will your post enable someone who wasn't here to catch up?
3) Would a graphic/video/link help to illustrate what we have learned?

Friday, 30 September 2011


On thursday, in groups we discussed our own interpretation of how the play- Othello should be started. We had to include what time of day it was, what actions takes place. In addition we had to create a 4 line of Iambic Pentameter summarising what Othello would say. The group I was in came up with an idea of Othello being at the centre of the stage saying;

"Judge me not by the colour of my skin,

As colour does not show what lies within,

but I shall hope to impress my lady,


We then started reading , the play actually starts off at a street in night in a midst of an argument between two characters- Iago and Roderigo. The conflict is about Roderigo getting a promotion when he had never fought in war: this decision is made by the leader Othello, making him look like a bad leader. This angers Iago, therfore he goes to the street outside Desdemona's (Othello's secret wife) fathers' (Brabanzio) house and shouts out accusations about his daughter having sex with a black man by saying "beast with two back". Although Iago doesn't reveal Othello's identification, he uses animalistic and bestial language to describe Othello's identification. For example; "an old black ram", kinesthetic and visual imagery is created, this proves the stereotype of black people as sexual predators because of Othello's age. This manipulates Brabantio who is still in denial that his daughter being married, let alone being married to a black man.

To summarise, so far we can tell that Iago's character is very bitter and boastfull who will not consider others feelings by the things he says. However, Othello can only be seen as a bad leader.


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A Streetcar Named Desire - AOs

In this English lesson we focused on the Assessment Objectives and how they will help us to answer essay questions. There are 4 AOs: A01, Ao2, A03 and Ao4.

AO1: Write detailed, original and expressive answers which are linked to the question. Use vocabulary linked to the topic.

AO2: Show in depth understanding in looking at how structure, form and language shape meaning.

AO3: Look at similarities and differences between different literary texts. Use thoughts and opinions of other readers.

AO4: Show understanding of the importance of the contexts in which literary texts are written and recieved.

We then went on to talk about Modern Domestic Tragedy and how it's different from earlier tragedies. These included the fact that modern tragedies tend to look inwards while earlier tragedies looked ourwards. There was also a distinct difference with how deaths were shown. In earlier tragedies deaths were shown on stage. In modern tragedies deaths usually happen quietly and are concealed from the audience. Modern tragedies are much more likely to appeal to audiences nowadays because they contain characters who are ordinary. Earlier tragedies usually contained princes and kings as the protagonists. These points and more helped us to understand the main similarities and differences between modern and earlier tragedies.

We spent the rest of the lesson reading and trying to find faults with Mr Gall's essay question.(which was AO4)
How does Blanche's initial interactions with the locals of Elysian Fields highlight her incongruity?
Although the answer looked good, it lacked certain details. This activity helped us to really understand the Assessment Objectives and put them into action. By looking over someones else's answer, it became easier for us to see where we could make improvements.

Overall, the lesson was about improving our essay answers and making sure that we understood how we could do this.

(P.S: Sorry about the length, I really didnt know what to talk about)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

A Streetcar named Desire - Blanche

The lesson focused on how Tennessee Williams characterises Blanche, and how she fits into the outdated model of the American South; where citizens were placed into a class based on race/skin colour.

A playwright gives a character its ‘personality’ through what they do and how they do it.

What a playwright does to create the ‘character’:

- Give the character a name.

- Create a history.

- Create an image of the character through their appearance.

- I.e. looks, clothing, etc.

- Invest in the qualities of the character.

- The attitudes/idea of the character.

How a playwright does it:

- Interaction of characters

- Their behaviour

- Dramatic devices

- Imagery

- I.e. symbols, motifs.

- Language used

Whilst watching a clip of Scarlett O'Hara from ‘Gone with the Wind’, which was also set during the Civil War in the American South, we used what playwrights do to ‘label’ our own ideas of her characterisation. Then, whilst reading ‘A Streetcar named Desire’, we created another mind map for Blanche DuBois’ characterisation. Other than just writing about what playwrights do, we also included examples of how the do it. For example, she is in denial when she says is not a ‘drunkard’ when she had just a couple of tumblers of whisky.

After characterising Blanche, you could see that her personality/attitude/appearance is incongruous to the setting as New Orleans is not segregated and people live together ‘harmoniously’ regardless of race.

tragedy and melodrama

Tragedy and melodrama are two very different things, melodrama is very over dramatic and seems as if every problem has a way out, or a safety net, tragedy is described by aristotle as "inevitable", no chance of rescue, a spiral down into one's doom. Anouille likened tragedy to a spring, possibly as a symbol of tension and bottling up emotions, to explosivley releasing them and release, or also that the spring has no beginning opr end, but just a continuous spiral. A tragedy is usually about a person in high esteem or power, falling because of a certain characteristic flaw, some examples of this are achilles ,who was dipped in the river styx, and his heel, which was a symbol of his arrogance, or MacBeth, once king of scotland, let down by his greed.

Tragedy can be many things, on one hand it could be the horrible act of death and suffering, but on the other it could be "an art form, to confront difficult human experiances" tragedy, according to aristotle, is a catharsis. tragedy can on some ocasions purge the body. people can occasionally feel better when something empathises with them, such as sad music, or tragic moments from movies or books.

a tragedy is a representation of an action that is whole and complete and of a certain magnitude. a whole is what has a beginning a middle and an end.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

A street car named desire

Today in class we began to look into the historical content of a street car named desire, we were put in too groups of four and asked to analyse a text to see what we could find out about the conflicts of the American civil war and how the war can be linked to tragedy. In our groups we all choose parts of the text different parts of the text to analyse for example one group looked at the author, Tennessee Williamsand, life. Others choose to look at the conflict between the north and south and how it links to A street car named desire and others choose to look more into the south and how they feel they have no shame or care that they use slaves .

We also looked at the conflicts of different people groups such as genders, races, sexuality and poor and rich and how it links to the book . We also spent 10 minutes looking at the epigraph

And so it was I entered the broken world

To trace the visionary company of love, its voice

an instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)

but not for long to hold each desperate choice.

We then choose out key words that might have more of a meaning to tragedy such as broken world, love, instant and desperate choice. Finally we looked at the difference between freedom and equality and how if someone has freedom to do whatever they like and follow the American dream then they can’t really have equality as it limits a person’s dream to a what everyone else gets as well as this we looked at the Greek concept Elysium and how that relates to the south of being this place of heaven while the rest America is this sort of underworld.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Introduction to Tragedy

Can art make suffering less painful?

Year 12 thought that while art cannot make suffering less painful, it can be a helpful accompaniment. For example, listening to emotive music can legitimate certain emotions.

Dramatic Genres: Tragedy

40% of AS
Othello (Shakespeare) and A Streetcar Named Desire (Williams)
Assessed by two pieces of coursework:
A study of an aspect of the dramatic/tragic genre with regard to a Shakespeare play. (1200 – 1500 words)
A study of an aspect of the dramatic/tragic genre with regard to another play. (1200 – 1500 words)
One of the pieces of coursework can be in the form of a re-creative exercise, accompanied by a commentary.

I have known tragedy in the life of a man driven back into silence, in an unregarding working life. In his ordinary and private death, I saw a terrifying loss of connection between men, and even between father and son: a loss of connection which was, however, a particular historical and social fact. (Raymond Williams, 1979)
Analysing this quotation, Year 12 noted that the man is "ordinary" and has an "unregarding working life", meaning he is what was called 'working class'. This man is disconnected from others, perhaps due to societal pressures suggested by "driven", or he is choosen "silence". At the point of his death, he shares a commonality with all others. Yet, paradoxically, his death marks his complete dislocation from life.

Tragedy is the art form created to confront the most difficult experiences we face: death, loss, injustice, thwarted passion, despair. (Jennifer Wallace, 2007)
Year 12 thought of examples for the five "experiences", which included loss of a loved one, heartbreak, an employment/vocational crisis and a complete abandoning of hope.

Year 12, for homework, are analysing 'United in grief for a tragic hero', an article marking the death of George Best from The Guardian. Questions to consider when decoding “tragic hero”: what makes George Best a tragic hero? How does the language of the article work to assert this status?