English 10: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2007-2008

   
   
   
   
   
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  Any essay on the word "cool" is cool enough to read. No, I am not using the word the same
way Boeth. Metr. did in 1000 A.D. The primary definition these days is "moderately cold"
but the word also has some street meanings. It is used in only 2 ways, not the 7 mentioned in the
OED. One meaning is actually used in the first book ever written in English, Beowulf. Most people
perceive the word to be young, but "cool" is as old as the first book ever written in
English. "Cool" is a popular word among today's youth and since it has never lost a
meaning in it's 1000 year history it will only continue to follow it's pattern of becoming
more popular as decades go by.

I interviewed a few of my piers on how they felt about the word. None of them technically gave a
right answer as to what they thought the meaning was. Sixty-percent thought it meant to be popular,
one of the "street" meanings. The other 40% did not even come close to what the OED has as
a meaning. Alex Flores added his meaning of being "athletic" and being popular. Eric
Anderson said it was to be popular, another street meaning. John Cooper said it meant "social
norm" which is as far away from any definition as New Guinea. Riley Blizard also said that it
meant to be popular but added it meant "to be funny", yet again another street definition.
The last recipient was T.J. Bryan who thought it meant "awesome", whatever that is
it's wrong. From this a person can conclude that not too many people know what "cool"
really means but just create meanings for the word to suite their own needs.

The future of the word "cool" for foreigners is a bright one. It is a very easily
pronounced word for foreigners. I myself speak another language as fluently as English and have no
trouble with the word after asking myself if I do or not. My parents use the word too making it seem
as if the word is as easy to say as cat. Many foreigners have trouble with words that have a
"th" sound or a silent letter but since "cool" has neither of these it is deemed
easily pronounced. It can easily blend in with other languages as new age teenagers are using it
more and more after seeing foreign American films in other countries.

The OED shows us that the word "cool" has many different meanings. "Relaxed and
calm" is one. The OED associates "cool" with "moderately cool" as it's
1st choice of definition, "a sensation of being cool" as it's second, and leaving the
only obsolete definition of the word to be "having little vitality or force". A special
meaning the word has that is said to be alive is "a large sum of money" but I believe this
definition is dead as of 2000 onward making it the only modern dead definition. The OED says that
the word has a dead definition of “chilled” but this definition has been revived in past years which
is why I don’t count it as a dead definition. A newer and updated version would show that this
definition is still alive, among other things. An updated version would also show the new meanings
for the word which range from “good for you” to “fun”.

From the year 2000 and onward, many different definitions are floating around. “Decent”, “popular”,
“somewhat cold”, “relaxed”, and “fun to be around” are the most popular. Authors like William
Shakespeare even have used some of these definitions in works like Hamlet, Cymbeline, and
Midsummer’s Dream. “Vunder the coole shade of a Siccamore” is one quote taken from Shakespeare’s
Love Labours Lost. From this quote we can see that he is using two definitions in one; “moderately
cold” and “relaxed”. From this we can conclude that Shakespeare was ahead of his time and did not
limit himself to one definition of the word but combined two to show the true meaning of what he is
trying to describe. In Chancer’s version of Beowulf, he uses the meaning “not heated” when he quotes
“Thow…thynkist in thyn wit that is ful cole” to suggest that the character being described was not
angry. This shows that “cool” was even important in the first book ever written in English.

“Cool” does not have to rely on what happens to the English language because so many movies have
been made with the word being used in it that any foreigner could easily pick up the word and use it
themselves. Foreigners are going to determine the future of the word as it is blending in with other
languages. I researched and found that in a Daddy Yankee song named “Gasolina”, the word “coolo” is
said in a Spanish sentence which shows the word’s influence in that particular language. One can
concur that the Spanish are going to adopt the word just like how we’ve adopted the word “douche”
from the French. Though it remains uncertain what the fate of the English language is, one thing is
certain. The word “cool” has survived 1000 years of a changing language and with it’s influence in
other languages it will survive 1000 more years in one language or another.
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Geoffrey Chaucer,

Prentice Hall Literature would first like to compliment you on the fabulous work of yours we have
been using for the past years and would like to say we have enjoyed working with you. Your ability
to use iambic pentameter in tales and stories has broadened the horizons of our readers. However we
needed to omit an author in next year’s edition and have chosen you. It was a very hard and
thought-out decision for you have worked with us for many years but we felt that some of your
“tactics“ were not what we were looking for as we move onto the future.. We have reviewed your work
on the Canterbury Tales and find that using the word “God” excessively creating religious bias,
using a lot of dramatic irony, and making the reader use allusions in all tales to understand and
has made us come to our decision to keep you out of this years new edition..


Dramatic irony is used in “The Pardoner’s Tale” too much. It does not generate laughter and tells
the reader information that they do not need because they already know it. “If only we can catch
him, Death is dead!” is a direct quote of dramatic irony from the Pardoner’s Tale. Death would of
course already be dead so there is no need to say he will die if the characters catch him. In line
147 you write, “Not even Death, alas, will take my life!” which is another example of the dramatic
irony in that when death comes it will take your life not keep it living. It makes the reader feel
like the story is poorly written since it cannot generate laughter on a mediocre scale. Charles
Muscatine criticized your work for the very same reason. He said “the speaker seems to fail in his
own irony and turns out to be hardly humorous at all.” He is the professor of English at University
of California, Berkley so he does have some credit to his name. We feel he sums up the first reason
in that sentence.


In the "Nun’s Priest Tale", one of the Ten Commandments is broken so many times that
Moses himself would be in awe. The word “God” is said over 20 times in short spans at a time
throughout Chanticleer’s adventure. Saying the name of the Lord does not upgrade the story into a
holy one as our readers feel you might have tried to do. It downgrades it because of the fact that
no other word was able to be used to describe “bones” or “hand”, “God’s blessed bones” is a direct
quote from line 204. That sentence tells the reader that God’s bones are blessed even though one can
argue that God is perfect and does not die and leave bones and even if it did happen they would be
the most blessed over any others. Using the word God creates an atmosphere where a fictional story
is combined with the creator of all creation. There needs to be separation just like how there is
with religion and government. H. Ansgar Kelly wrote in the "Chaucer Review" (Summer 1193
Article) that “Geoffrey’s Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ has several references to the religious
practices of 13th-Century England” which shows that she agrees in that religion is used a lot in
your stories. Using the word a few times is fine which may help give you a tip for possibly a later
edition but using it over twenty times is excessive.


In the "Nun’s Priest Tale", the reader has to be sent to too many other references in
order to fully comprehend the story. For example, the reader is suppose to consider “Daniel from the
Old Testament” and “Adam caused from Paradise to go”. These two sentences are both related to the
Bible specifically the Torah. This makes the story seem like a theology book instead of an
entertaining tale. “Scipio from Africa” and “how Troy fell” are also mentioned. This has the reader
switch mindset from Bible to the history of the Mediterranean while at the same time trying to enjoy
the reading of the tale. We feel that grouping too many different and unrelated references into a
tale about a chicken does not really bode well. It makes the tale into a learning experience instead
of an entertaining experience. The whole story becomes too full of “considering” this and
“remembering” that instead of just one continuous motion of iambic pentameter. Perhaps this could be
something to look into for a possible revision in the future.


Again we are very sorry to inform you that you that Prentice Hall Literature will not include the
Canterbury Tales in it’s new edition textbook. This is not all discouraging news for we might
consider it again for a later edition of the book if we see that readers aren’t getting their
complete dose of iambic pentameter from only reading Macbeth. We have shown you what we do not like
which is good to see how you can improve the story. If changes are made, we could be seeing a
possible chance at a revival in a later edition of the textbook.


Sincerely,
Nima from Prentice Hall Literature

   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word "tennis" can be dated as far back
as 1565. According to the World Book Encyclopedia, the ancient Greeks called the sport
"sphairistike" meaning "playing ball" and the French called it "jeu de
paume". The W.B.E. also says that the modern version of tennis is dated back to the 1873
when Major Walter Clopton Wingfield of England invented the sport. After the French Revolution, the
sport became involved with Britain which led to royal interest and the international spread of the
sport. Tennis is on average the 8th most popular sport in Britain today. Events like Wimbledon help
bring the popularity of the sport known in other countries and in Britain. The development of the
sport reveals the interchanging status of monarchies in British history. The sport of tennis has
truly been a part of British history during both the good times and the bad.

Tennis has some unusual rules ranging from the attire of the players to what sounds they can make
while playing. According to The Florence Morning News, earlier this year, 9 year old girl
Lauryn Edwards was banned from her tennis club in Australia for imitating the grunting noises her
idol Maria Sherapova made. In that article by Mark A. Haselden, it states that the little girl would
grunt to help her attention deficit disorder when she played. It also states that there was
initially no rule against grunting. The article quoted on to say "Really, young Lauryn should
feel honored that she has become the target of the anti-grunting campaign. She's now a member
of a club that's still rather elite, but seems to be growing." That "club"
includes Andre Agassi and Jimmy Connors who both won Wimbledon titles while grunting. The
girl's case is a great example of modern tennis rules gone extreme. Some old rules are still
abided by today like the rule that all tennis players must wear all white. According to the World
Book Encyclopedia
, modern tennis was invented by Walter Wingfield in 1873. He based the game off
the ancient Greeks method of "sphairistike" and added racquets into it. The sport became
so popular that the royalty of England became involved. In a January 6, 2008 article by Elizabeth
Sanderson for Mail on Sunday newspaper in London, royal interest with tennis in Britain began
with Henry V but really took off with Henry VIII. The article writes that, "Henry VIII played
at Hampton Court and the current building, which dates from the 17th Century, is the oldest tennis
court in the world." The article also states that Henry was notoriously known for being a good
tennis player. It is today required for every tennis player to bow towards the royalty box when they
step onto the court even if there is no royalty inside. Modern tennis has undergone evolution since
the original game play where players had to hit a ball with their hands onto the other side. The
first championships were played in London in the tournament of Wimbledon. According to the
British Tennis Association, Fred Perry was the last British player to win the Wimbledon
Men's Singles title in 1936.

Pro players in tennis play in four major tournaments: The U.S. Open, Wimbledon, the Australian
Open, and the French Open. Roger Federer is said to be the best male tennis player in the world and
Maria Sherapova is one of the sport's elite players. Sherapova is famous for her special
"grunt". According to The Sun Sentinel, when Sherapova was only 16 she was being
noticed for her raw talent and a lot for her grunting noises. In an interview in that article by
Charles Bricker, she was quoted saying, " I try not to make noise, but that's something
I'd been doing all my life." She remains even today at the top of her game with no signs
of slowing down. Professional tennis players either make money off of winning tournaments or being
in commercials. Maria Sherapova has a contract with "Canon" and players like Anna
Kornakova are spotted in Sports Illustrated magazines. According to the World Book
Encyclopedia
, Virginia Wade was the last British woman to win the Woman's Singles Title.

Any tennis player under the age of 18 is considered an amateur. The International Tennis
Federation allows them to be ranked worldwide. According to the British Tennis Association,
in 1887 Lottie Dod of England won the Wimbledon Ladies Singles title for the first of 5 times
between 1887 and 1893. It also states that she was and still is the youngest player to ever win an
event. The fact that she was an amateur shows that the sport is not only limited to veterans. Many
believe that in order to succeed in tennis, one must have learned and practiced at a young age.
Amateur tennis tournaments do not offer money as the prizes except for the Grand Slams which are the
most prestigious amateur tennis tournaments. Leading amateurs are allowed to represent their nation
in the Davis Cup and the Junior Fed Cup. Talented players may receive sponsorships from private
institutions.

Tennis is listed as the seventh sport in the U.K. Times Online and is listed as the eighth
sport in the Mirror. This may be due to the fact that the Australian Open finished in January and
the next tournament is not until May. On March 21, 2008, the Sun magazine who ranks the sport 11th
under sport talked about how the number 1 English player Andy Murray woke up a few days ago thinking
that he really did win the Grand Slam trophy.
He told The Sun, "I dreamt for the first time in my life about winning a Grand Slam. I
woke up a few hours later and I was unbelievably disappointed." He later went on to say that he
reckons his dream will come true this year.

Tennis has entered pop culture though commercials, literature, and television coverage. Spoofs in
the sports world about the event helped bring popularity and light to the sport. According to the
O.E.D, William Shakespeare mentions the game in Act I - Scene II of Henry V where the prince
of France sends Henry tennis balls after Henry's claim to being the king of France. In
September 2004, the film "Wimbledon" came out and brought tennis into the modern film
world. In it, a British player wins a spot to play in Wimbledon and falls in love with Kirsten
Dunst. Commercials with Maria Sherapova help bring the reminder that tennis is a year round sport
whether it be indoors or out. According to the Lawn Tennis Association, BBC news announced
that they made a new contract to extend their coverage of Wimbledon until 2014 which shows the
interest level of the sport may be on the rise. Through pop culture, tennis has become very popular
around the world mainly to the credit of the British who helped spread the sport with the expansion
of their former empire. Even though tennis is not the most popular sport among young adults, the
wealthy enjoy it and consider it one of their most favorite sports.

   
   
   
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Literature exists all around the world but in Britain it flourishes with masterpieces and some of
the world’s most famous authors. These authors range from present day T. S. Eliot to the times of
the infamous Master Anonymous. As the times changed, so did the style of writing and even the topics
being written about. From T. S. Eliot’s poetry that captivates modern day readers to the prose that
Lewis Carroll brought to entertain the reader to even the drama exhibited in Mary Shelley’s
Frankenstein, we see a growing and changing trend in the styles that reflect each time period. The
prose bring us entertainment while the poetry grasps us into emotions that make the reader think he
or she feels the meaning of the words. The drama, unlike the other two, takes us into certain
situations that people do not even dream of experiencing like trying to track down a murderous
monster all over Europe. These are the reasons that British literature stands out from the rest and
also because of the devices it uses. British literature relies heavily on these devices: the setting
of dark places, the theme of suffering for mankind, the resolution of an unhappy ending, the role of
women as inferior to men, and the use of couplets in poetry. These themes help create a basis for
British authors and at least one is present in almost every British work.

British authors rely heavily on the setting of dark places when creating a work. Mary Shelley
exemplifies this as she moves the different scenes in her book “Frankenstein” when she bases the
story in Switzerland which is a cold region where it is known to be very dark soon in the day
causing Victor to utter this quote at his honeymoon “It was a dark and windy evening“. The fact that
Victor acknowledges the cold weather shows his alertness even out of fear of the monsters attack.
George Orwell also incorporated setting in his book “Animal Farm” when he uses a farm where there is
no consistent light source and where it becomes very cool at night. This portrays how the animals
bond when in an uncomfortable weather situations. Thomas Gray uses the metaphor of a dark setting in
“Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” where the setting is a cemetery which is a dark place and in
the work it is quoted as “And leaves the world to darkness and to me.” The quote provides an example
of the loneliness exhibited in Gray’s childhood. While there is no clear cut setting for A.E.
Housman’s “To an Athlete Dying young”, the atmosphere being described in the work depicts a shady,
dark, and unpleasant time in the lines “Eyes the shady night has shut.” The line shows how even
nature was willing to let the character die. In Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient
Mariner”, the nautical setting is gloomy. This becomes imminent in the line “And now there came both
mist and snow…” (688). The mist and snow represent the sorrow that the captain will experience later
on.

The form of couplets is relied upon by British authors because of the simplicity of the way to
use them. A.E. Housman uses 2 combined couplets in “When I was One-and-Twenty”. The couplets give a
sense of how ignorant a young person can be: “But I was one-and-twenty/ no use to talk to me.”
Master anonymous uses couplets at the end of each stanza or paragraph in “Sir Gawain and the Green
Knight”. He writes, “Green and heavy, his axe on his back/ darkness hallowed from his worn-out
knapsack.” This couplet helps show the Green Knight as an evil superhero character John Keats uses
couplets in “When I have Fears That I may Not Cease To Be” in the last two lines (748). Critics like
Daniel Plung recognize the pattern in Keats’ poems as stated in his criticism about Chapman’s Homer
in “Explicator: Summer 2004 Vol. 62” where Plung denotes the comparison of the main character as
sort of a godlike figure: “Then I felt like a watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into its
ken.” T.S. Eliot uses a couplet at the end of stanza II in “The Hollow Men” where he writes, “Not
that final meeting/ In the twilight kingdom” to try to create the image of a battle in the high
heavens. (990) Alexander Pope uses aphorism by giving advice in ten syllable couplets in his work
“An Essay on Man”: “To err is human, to forgive is divine” to signify the imperfect state of the
human being.

British authors use the theme of the suffering of mankind to try and allow the reader to relate
to the work. Samuel Taylor Coleridge masters this in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” where he has
everyone on the ship die leaving only the captain because of his killing of the albatross. This
shows how the ignorance of a leader can lead to a punishment on those who serve under him. In line
235, the captain says, “Alone, alone, all, all alone,/Alone on a wide wide sea!/ And never a saint
took pity on/ My soul in agony.” These lines show how the captain realizes his actions have caused
his own lonesomeness. Thomas Gray has been criticized for his method of using his own tragic
childhood and applying it to his works. Morris Golden criticizes Thomas Gray in his book “Thomas
Gray” when he says, “He arranges his theme like a tragedy, beginning in bright sunshine and leading
to a terrible end.” Golden was referring to Gray’s “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College” where
he starts the story off with children playing and ends the story with the children being miserable.
(59) Critic Amy Louise Reed talked about Gray in the same book where she said, “There is the
fascination with the thought of death…” Critic Frank H. Ellis also noticed the theme of suffering in
Gray’s poem “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard” when he wrote, “The imagined death of the
peasant poet supplies the dramatic example which illustrates and makes cogent the large
generalities…” This shows that the poet is suffering in his own life and wonders if his tragedies
are like the ones in his poem. The incorporation of Gray’s life into his poem show how poetry was a
tool in helping him cope with his depression. Mary Shelley uses suffering in her book “Frankenstein”
where the entire book is revolved around the suffering of one man and one creature who become
miserable because of each other. Victor is affected the most since he actually loses family members
and friends and his suffering becomes so unbearable that he dies before the monster because by the
end of the novel he feels as if he has lost the will to live. The death of Victor shows how Shelley
was trying to place emphasis on his suffering throughout the book. The monster shows how vulnerable
he was to suffering by crying at Victors death leaving the impression that both had lived off of
each other even in the form of suffering. The suffering inflicted upon each other kept each one
sane. Lewis Carroll uses the theme of suffering indirectly in his book “The Adventures of Alice in
Wonderland” where throughout a greater portion of the book Alice is miserable in the fact that she
does not know if she will ever leave Wonderland and go back to her own life. This is exemplified
with: “Alice began to cry in the garden.”. The quote shows how suffering can take place even in
environments that represent happiness. John Keats uses the theme of suffering in “When I Have Fears
That I May Cease to Be” where he has the character writing about the miserable state his life is in:
“Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.”(748) This line shows that the character feels that
nothing will ever get him out of this miserable life and shows signs of having no hope.

British authors sometimes use an unhappy ending as a way for the reader to reflect on the moral
of the novel. These unhappy endings though have deeper meanings than their appearance may show. In
George Orwell’s “1984”, the resolution of the book is an unhappy one because Winston ends up doing
what the reader would not expect over the course of the book: “He loved Big Brother.” (297) The
acceptance of the ultimate failure in Winston’s dream of taking down Big Brother shows how the
protagonist of a story does not always get what they want by the end. Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of
the Lock” ends with a star being named after Belinda but she is still unhappy about the lost lock of
hair. The comedic poem turns to a mundane ending that leaves even the reader unhappy since the main
character did not become satisfied just like many stories involving women. Doris Lessing’s “Now
Witchcraft for Sale” has an unhappy ending because Gideon reminds the reader how Africans still have
to work on farms when he tells Teddy that he will one day, “Be grown up with a farm of your
own…”(1122) The farm symbolizes a new independence and opportunity that Teddy will hopefully
encounter as change happens. Virginia Woolf’s “Jacob’s Room” has an unhappy ending because confusion
is set in with Betty Flanders and Bonamy is left wondering what to do with the remains of Jacob’s
shoes which makes it is a sad moment for Bonamy. The leftover shoes help show how a lasting memory
of an important character is sometimes set at the end of the book to remind the reader of the events
that had transgressed throughout the book. Jane Austen’s “Henry and Eliza” ends with Eliza raising
an army to demolish the new Dutchess’s Newgate which is an unhappy ending because it leaves a vision
of the act in the readers’ mind and the reader knows that no good can come from this deed that will
take place. The women are fighting over a man which is an area Austen has been criticized. Ivor
Morris of the JASNA wrote, “I was mildly affronted…that made my sex out to be helpless victims of
vanity and pride.” Morris is talking about how Jane Austen used men in idiotic ways in some of her
works as opposed to Shakespeare who did this to women.

As the history of British Literature continues today with modern poets and writers, the devices
used by old writers will undoubtedly be used by some of them. These devices have helped British
authors execute on making a masterful work. Even though these devices were only a fraction of the
many used, the importance of them cannot go unnoticed. The influence they have had on famous works
makes them important in the study of British Literature. These devices have been used heavily by
British authors and because of their successful execution of using them, future British authors will
use these devices as bases for the goals they hope to achieve in their works.



Works Cited

Golden, Morris. Thomas Gray. New York: Twayne Publishers INC. 1964. p59

Kinsella, Kate et al. Prentice Hall Literature: The British Tradition New Jersey : Pearson

Prentice Hall. 2005. P688,748,990,1122.

Morris, Ivor. “Jane Austen and Her Men”. 2001.

http://www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/opno4/morris.html

Orwell, George. 1984. New York: New American Library.

1961. p297

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Bantam Books.

1981.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. New York: Penguin

Books. 1974.