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, 21 October 2011

Bradley, where are you????

Bradley - you are responsible for blogging about the learning of the last two Othello lessons. Please ensure this is done ASAP but before the end of the half term at the latest.

Mr S

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A Streetcar Named Desire - Fragility and Flirting

In today's lesson we:

  • interpreted Blanche's behaviour with and towards men.

  • understood the importance of desire for the play.

Firstly we discussed and described the behaviour of a moth which comes indoors. We found that they are drawn to the light, repeatedly flutter towards it, swoop around the room or just stay on wall not moving.
We then connected this to the play and we saw that the moth could be Blanche who wants the attention of the male characters especially Mitch and this is similar to a moth attracted to a light and constantly moving towards it.

We then looked at a picture of a butterfly and discussed the difference between a moth and a butterfly and noticed that a butterfly is beautiful and is fragile and delicate while a moth is an ugly insect and isn't seen in the same way as a butterfly.
Again, we connected it to the play and the character of Blanche. We said that:
"Blanche is a combination of a moth and a butterfly. A moth is an insect that outstays their welcome, and is fragile and delicate when attracted to the light. This is similar to Blanche who has to have dimmed light attracted to her. A butterfly is an insect that is beautiful in a different kind of way and attracts the attention of people because of their beauty. This is similar to Blanche as she attracts the attention of Mitch and other male characters."

We then read Scene Five and came across a long piece of dialogue from Blanche, she spoke to Stella about how she really felt and why she acted the way she did. In her speech she used some words that linked to light and gave the impression of a moth.
They were:

  • glow

  • shimmer

  • fading

  • soft colours

  • lantern

  • storm(dark, lightning)

  • butterfly wings

We had to make a table of all the things that could have influenced Blanche.
Personal - Blanche losing her husband when he killed himself.
Social - Blanche socialises in a different way to how others around her would socialise. Example; Blanche socialises with her sister and in a quiet manner, Stanley plays poker with his friends and drinks whiskey.
Political - Blanche is more in touch with Old South values than New South values where Stella now lives.
Historical - The way Blanche has grown up and the values she was taught by her parents is different to the way the New South is.
Gendered - Female who is sexually desired.
Racial - Her values make her look down on the New South and the way they do things.
Sexual - The way she interacts with men in a sexual way/sexually desired.

At the end of Scene Five, Blanche met a new male character and flirted with him which eventually turned into a kiss. We discussed that now we know Blanche likes young men because they are able to keep up with her sexual needs and that it brings memories back of her past.
We made another table of the merits and problems between Blanche's men; Mitch and the Young Man.

Mitch: MERITS - can have sex with Blanche
give her attention
trying to be romantic/flowers
"Rosencavalier" Blanche refers to Mitch as this - playing the role
soft and caring
PROBLEMS - still lives with his mother
not young enough for her
Young Man: MERITS - he's young
PROBLEMS - he's young

Finally we were giving the question "is the episode with the young subscription collector an illustration of Blanche's tragic character or a dramatic device necessary to the plot?" We had to decide which category she came under and the factors for this.
Illustration of Blanche's tragic character was seen to be the best one because

  • of her need for young men

  • the remembrance of her past with her young husband

  • sexual desires

  • necessity to follow through with her sexual desires.


Monday, 17 October 2011

Perception Survey for Mr Gall

In order to increase my understanding of the class' perceptions at the beginning of their AS-level English Literature, please complete the following survey:

Click here to take survey

The survey is comprised of 10 statements. For each statement, please respond according to how you feel, from 'strongly agree' to 'strongly disagree'. There is space for you to make a comment - please do, if you have a valuable idea to add. The survey is anonymous so be honest; this will help to ensure your learning needs are met.

A Streetcar Named Desire - Contrasting Imagery

In this lesson we learned to understand how Williams uses dichotomies in scene 4 of the play; as well as comment on the impact on the plays Binary Oppositions.

So a Dichotomy is a division into two contradicting or mutual parts. This became a factor when we looked at Blanche's and Stella's different views.

And a Binary Opposition is contrasting directly opposed terms that are independent in its meaning but related in some form. for example night and day, or rational or irrational.

The first task we did was to look at a large list of words that had a connection to the play; with these words we would link them to those that are related - this was our introduction to Binary Oppositions.

We came up with many ideas and links with these words but the main oppositions we looked at were:

- Reason & Truth

- Illusion & Lies

- Disordered & Wild

- Ordered & Civilised

These were the oppositions that we were focusing on before we continued to analyse scene 4.

This task helped us to identify the dichotomies within the scene and class them under these binary oppositions which was needed as we analysed Blanche's and Stella's conversation.

Scene 4

As we went through the scene we categorised different quotes under the main binary oppositions. For example we looked at how Blanche believes that Stella is in a position that she doesn't want to be in, which would go under "illusion and lies" whereas Stella believes that there is no place she rather be than where she is now, which would alternatively go under "reason and truth". This contrast between views was seen a frequently during Blanche's and Stella's conversation. From here we saw that through different perspectives of the characters we can interpret some of the characters views differently, as well as highlight where Williams applied these dichotomies. In addition we found that we were working in AO3 as a range of interpretations can be formed.

Despite looking at what the characters said we also worked at AO2, looking at HOW Blanche uses language to create effect and stress her points to Stella, like her frequent pausing, interrupting herself as she tries to make sense of what she is trying to say.

That's all I could think of...


Friday, 7 October 2011

Public & Private - Othello: Act 1, Scene 3

The class began with us trying to differentiate between something being exotic and something being different. While it was just a matter of how each individual looked at it here are some ideas that we came up with:

-refers to something foreign
-different but with some intrigue
-used to attract or appeal to someone e.g.
-could indicate something being brought over from a abroad, so it's exotic to its new surroundings (e.g. a fruit or parrot)
-could also be used negatively i.e with Sarah Bartman who was exhibited as a freak attraction during the 19th century due to her African descent and her "exoticness"

-something that stands out because it is out of place
-something that doesn't fit the mould or breaks conventions
-to not be the same as one another

Mr Sadgrove then higlighted to us that this ties into the way that Othello, "the Moor" may pervcieve himself or the way others may percieve him, is he exotic? is he different? do either of these have negative or positive implications?

Act 1, Scene 2...
We were then divided into sets of "Brobantio's" and "Othello's" and we were given the task to use the play to quote lines most relevant in revealing Othello's character.

After making our lists we were put into groups with one Othello and a few Brabantio's. The Brabantio's of the group were to surround the Othello of the group and use quotes from the text to accuse him while also trying to mirror the tone that Brabantio would use to accuse him with, meanwhile the Othello of the group had to stand in the middle of the group and respond to Brabantio's dialogue with quotes from the play actually said by Othello and also try and reflect the tone that Othello would use for these lines.

An example of these exchanges:

-We found that while Brabantio was attacking Othello and name calling him in public, Othello's responses were always very calm and confident.

-His ability to manage the situation and use the power of words to create
tranquilty and order contrasts greatly to the impression we are given of him, as a bad leader, by Iago in Act 1, Scene 1.

Act 1, Scene 3...
We were introuduced to the term DICHOTEMY when one thing is split in two. This was significant to the next scene we were about to read as it is a split between the public and personal lives of both Brabantio and Othello (the matter of Desdemona and matters of the state).

While reading through this scene we focused on a few things:

-Othello's importance to the Duke

-The fact that Othello is refered to as "the valiant Moor" by a Senator, valiant suggests that Othello's bravery is recognised and he is somewhat respected meanwhile Moor suggests that this word has almost become Othello's identity and that it used to take away from the compliment to his bravery.

-We focused on Othello's speech after he is told to speak for himself regarding the charges against him, we sat in a circle as a class and covered the speech with each person reading till the next punctuation mark. The impact of the pauses and the intensity of Othello's words were illuminated by this activity, we concluded that more depth is added to Othello's character through this speech as his genuine nature and humbility come through for example he says "Rude am I in my speech". Also we imagined Othello to say lines such as "I won his daughter" with power and emotion through the help of the Iambic Pentameter which would really stress the word "won".

-Also, we zoomed further into the linguistic devices used by Shakespeare when studying another of Othello's speeches later on in the scene. In order to better understand Othello's life and just how exotic and different his life is we concentrated on the aspects of his life that he lists. We worked in groups to act out freeze frames for atleast six of the things he mentions he has faced in this speech.

I think I've covered everything we did :)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Streetcar Named Desire - scene three.

We began by focusing on an image by Van Gogh.

colours in the image = bold, harmonising, warm, autumnal and exaggerated.

brush strokes in the image = flowing, vertical.

composition in the image = claustrophobic and cramped around the edges due to clutter, but spacious and open in the centre.

The setting of Stanley's poker night is based around this image, so from this we identified that the atmosphere would be rather tense, anxious and also serious as poker is often classed as a serious game.

Next we focused on A02 language analysis which consists of 6 different types of imagery. We found examples of each of these within scene three.

1) visual = descriptions of what you can see
- poker table with chips, cards and whiskey on it

2) auditory = descriptions of sound
- blue piano music in the background
- Stanley slapping Stella
- shouting amongst Eunice and Stanley

3) olfactory = descriptions of smell
- whiskey
- watermelon

4) gustatory = descriptions of taste
- whiskey
- watermelon

5) kinaesthetic = describes movement
- Stanley hitting Stella
- the men pinning Stanley down
- Stanley chasing Stella
- Stanley slamming the radio down

6) tactile = descriptions of touch
- Stanley placing his head on Stella's belly
- Stella pulling him up to her
- the men pinning Stanley down

Finally we looked at arguments both for and against the quote "poker shouldn't be played in a house with women."


- poker is considered to be a man's game, therefore women shouldn't be connected to this.

- the environment during a poker game can become manly and rather aggressive, an environment women should not be subjected to.

- it's time for men to spend away from their partners and to bond with their friends.

- its a serious, money centred game, and is therefore not connected to femininity.


- the game would continue all night and the men would not go home without a woman calling it off.

- women may need to supervise the men's drinking habits as they could become rowdy and rather argumentative.

- with women around, the atmosphere would become more light-hearted and not so tense.