English 10: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2007-2008

   
   
   
   
   
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Dear Sir Thomas Malory

I am thrilled to be corresponding to likes fantastic English author such as you. You have changed
the face of British literature with your works on the King Arthur Legends. That is why it personally
pains me to tell you that your work must be omitted from this year’s sophomore edition. No other
work is going to be replacing your spot, if hat is any condolence. Your work is intricate and
powerful, maybe too powerful for the 10th grade mind. Teachers seem to find your stories too
violent, and to hack and slash for some student’s fragile state. This book is a multi-cultural
friendly book, with so many Christian references some of our other culture students might not be
entertained or understand the concepts such as the, “Holy Grail”. Finally, I believe that there is
too much unimportant development of villains in these stories. All it creates is clutter and a tough
read for people.

The parents of today’s children do not respond well to violence, even violence in the name of good.
As you already know that violence is a major part of the Morte D’ Arthur, we at Prentice Hall feel
that this amount of gore is not suitable for the mind of a sophomore in high school. For example,
in Tristram and the fair Isseult, (pg 150) “And he clave through Marhault’s helmet and deep into
Marhault’s skull and his sword chipped, leaving a piece in the wound…” Now this gruesome description
would be explicit in almost any circumstance, especially how it masterfully paints this horrible
picture of destruction. Also on page 156 you describe how Tristram,” …went forth to do battle
against Seneschal: and he fought so well that day the Seneschal died beneath his sword…” At Prentice
Hall we have to consider each text careful, and we do not want a hero who has to make a bloodbath
ever two scene, especially when the killing is over a woman. What values would we be teaching to our
young audience?

The Holy Grail is the instigator of many of your stories Mr. Malory. It’s a device created by
Christian myth, and has produced some exquisite works from incredible authors such as yourself. Yet,
it seems that more and more multi-cultural families are tired of Christian values and stories. A
Muslim family might not want to hear about a Christian based story about the “Holy Grail” or “Ark of
the Covenant”, and at Prentice Hall we need books that are entertaining, educational, and fun. What
we don’t need is a child who is not entertained, and is complaining about the book. For example,
page 210 of Sir Percival of Wales,” …aloft a great goblet or grail covered in a cloth. A light shone
from within the Grail, so bright that no man could look apon it…” This is obviously about the
procession of the Holy Grail, but what if you don’t know that the grail is or who Jesus Christ was?
Then you would obviously not care about a cup; you know nothing about, floating through the air.

Vortigen, the Red Knight, and Pellinore are all simple villains in the Morte D’ Arthur series. What
do they have in common, they are all characters that last about 1 page, and are completely over
developed. The Red Knights introduction alone is a page and a half, for what? The next we see of him
Percival is burning his corpse to remove his armor. The Red Knight says, “Insolent Child”, and “Ha”
before his death to Percival. We at Prentice Hall find this agitating to the reader especially when
the Red Knight only has 3 lines of character development in the stories after the beginning is what
we call nothing development, you develop simple character who die one scene later, or play no major
role except to die. This is a pattern that we do not encourage, Brian Bethune writes in A King for
All Seasons, “all the Arthur variations strike the same chord in us, because the theme is always the
same: what Camelot called "one brief, shining moment…" I am agreeing with Brian’s point
when I say that these themes seem to continue to pop up in all you literary works. Some times is
feels like a broken record.

On behalf of the CEO, staff, and myself I would like to thank you for being a part of the Prentice
Hall family for so long. Now you works are still being considered in the upper levels of our book
series such as 11th and 12th grade editions, and you will be notified when that occurs. On a
personal level I would like to say how sorry I am for this inconvenience , and would like again to
tell you how this work is sheer genius and that we are not judging this on the quality of your work,
just the appropriateness of the reading. Thank you and good luck.




Regards
Michael Murphy, Editor

   
   
   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the World Book Encyclopedia, Native American Indians invented lacrosse around the
1500s, and the Eastern Cherokee people referred to Lacrosse as, “da-nah-wah’shuwsid”, which directly
translates to, “Little War”. No one knows for sure the exact begging of the word Lacrosse, but it is
speculated that this name was given to the sport by French missionaries. According to Adam Phoebe,
the word, “Crosse”, in French, translates to a stick or club. The sport of Lacrosse can be compared
to British writing styles in two senses first; this sport is physical and passionate. Secondly,
Lacrosse on the British Isles is discrete, which could be compared to the clean and trimmed lines of
most British poetry.

According to the ELA, Lacrosse is the oldest North American sport in recorded history. It was
played to decide wars, heal the sick, and finally to make young men into warriors. To these
indigenous people Lacrosse was a religious experience in which they were worshiping their God, by
winning or dying for their cause. This primitive form of Lacrosse was referred to as the, “Creators
Game.” This can obviously display how they felt about the religious ties to the game itself.
Lacrosse was much different than what we play today, each team might have up to 1000 players on each
side and the pitch (field) could be from 1 mile to 15 miles long. It was not uncommon for warriors
to be killed or severely injured while playing, and it is amazing how we can go from 1000 players to
6 players in less than 500 years.

The U.K. has their pro-league called the ELA, English Lacrosse Association. The most famous member
in English Lacrosse is Matt Striebel, who oddly enough is actually an American playing in this
league. He was the 2007 MLL Championship MVP, and attended Princeton University. According to a 2006
interview about his upcoming season, “Yeah…its great to be playing in a foreign country, its kind of
like being a pioneer of unknown territory.” Striebel is obviously referring to the lack of
popularity if this upcoming sport.

There are some amateur leagues in England, and some might argue that they are all amateur leagues
due to the lack of players and media coverage. Like Manchester Wacs Tom Rees and his interview found
on Lacrosse magazine, “ When people read the [news] they don’t normally look for Lacrosse… when you
think about it a lot of kids play I don’t understand why it doesn’t get a lot of coverage.” You
heard it from an amateur that actually a lot of kids play and watch Lacrosse even if it doesn’t
receive any media attention.

In the English media Lacrosse is non-existent let it be the Times, Mirror, or any other major paper
you will be very likely to not find anything on Lacrosse. It is annual mentioned about once every
year to announce whom one the tournament, and this is printed in one of the little caption boxes on
the 5th page, and has about a 2 paragraph follow-up story. That is what winning the world cup will
get you, a small 2-paragraph box that will say your team and a score. While compared to Football in
America, which has months of international coverage of the Super bowl. On the London Times website,
News of the Super bowl was still the top of the American sports section, yet, Lacrosse is not found
in even the other sports section. This means Snooker, a version of pool, is more popular. This is
not so in Canada, where it is on all major newspapers. This is interesting to see the future of
Lacrosse in the U.K.

Lacrosse is a reflection of the English people in several ways, the rules of the game are very
seriously taken, and ejection from games is quite frequent in comparison to American Leagues. You
might say that the English people feel that neat and orderly play are more important than violent
fun, I personally disagree, but that would be a reflection on the English people.

Finally, when you think of Lacrosse you might see a grim future for this sport and its players, but
do not fret because it has a strong international following with teams popping up over-seas. With a
strong, young, and faithful following, Lacrosse could be a top contending sport, like its popular
Canadian counterpart box lacrosse. When you look at is future I see a sport developing into a
potential major sport along with Cricket, Soccer, and Rugby.

   
   
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Literature has had a major impact on American and world literature, since its conception.
Obviously, the authors are to receive all credit for what has been put forth unto the world that has
shaped it so. When you consider the best literary authors of all time, many British authors appear
on most of the immediate list. Shakespeare has set the benchmark for British and world authors
alike. Now if these authors to somehow meet each other, it would be an amazing literary spectacle.
Even though British literature has defined our culture and literature, it still has a definite taste
and distinct border strictly English. All literature, not only British literature relies on 5 major
devices setting, resolution, gender, form, and theme.


Setting may have the deepest impact on a reader especially that of a grim hell. Shakespeare is
famous for his settings in Macbeth, an ancient Scottish castle, windy, stormy, and violent. The
setting of Macbeth is very dark and manipulative in many ways. Milton would agree that, this setting
is prominent in most of Paradise Lost. Hell was a place so dark that, “Darkness was like light made
visible.” This is a description that was too create a mood of suspense and darkness, and inflicting
trepidation. Neil D. Graves writes in his critical essay, Typological Aporias, “Milton’s hell seems
inadvertently similar to biblical stories of Jacob and Adam…Both contain the feelings of anguish and
disparity.” Its argued that Milton did such a fantastic job creating hell, that this is what we
envision today, and when you hear dark stormy night, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, should probably come to
mind. Putting this all together would be easy as pie, both a have contributed to modern ideals of
dark and hellish settings.

Women as sexual objects have had a profound effect on pieces of writing and on the whole prose. So
what is the difference or possible effects of changing the gender and personality of a character? In
the earliest recorded British Epic, Beowulf, the women in the story are rarely mentioned and
sometimes in a negative connotation, “She was a balm in bed…” Yet, the actual mentioning of the
opposite sex was revolutionary for its time. Wealtheow was actually a step in the right direction.
Beowulf is the masculine super-hero type that obtains death or glory, and is glorified for his boast
and bets. The Scribe was not the only one in history to use women in a negative connotation.
Chaucer’s gender conflict is much more prominent, his female characters are adulteresses, shallow,
and seemingly useless or objects; to go as far as say that Chaucer sometimes objectifies women, yes
I would. “Chanticleer had six hens to do his pleasure…” Chaucer is not all bad, he does have a
female character in the Canterbury Tales, who has had 7 husbands. Jane Austen would and did have
something to say about sexism, and wrote about it heavily in her books. In her acclaimed novel,
Pride and Prejudice, the main character is a woman, Elizabeth, who is a deep thinking character.
“Did it have to take a woman’s touch to bring the female sex into an analytical phantasm, in which
character have more than basic models…” according to James E. Tillman. The point that Tillman is
trying to make is, “why did it takes so long for this sort of thing to happen.” Did we really need
such a poor response from men to women, and a woman had to be the deciding factor in this Gender
conflict. Honestly, this doesn’t surprise me one bit because even in the word today there are some
pieces of literature that objectify women. Also, there are places in the world that still objectify,
and that is not excluding here in America. Yet, author have made great strides towards the equality
that both sexes deserve.


The theme of Christianity is often underneath the surface of many novels, we may even pick it up
subconsciously. The easiest and probably least stretch to Christianity is the Harry Potter series by
J.K Rowling. Besides being a heavily followed character, Harry Potter shares many of the same
characteristics of the Biblical Jesus. Both have amazing birth stories, one by a virgin, and the
other survived a curse thought to be impossible to survive. Even though its never recorded Jesus
may have struggled with the concept of being the son of God, and the responsibility and power. This
also parallels with Harry Potter teen age years. Finally, the message of Jesus was to free us from
sin and protect us from evil. Harry (Jesus) fight to the death against Voldemort (Sin + Death) and
ultimately triumphs over evil. That part varies from the Jesus narrative and rising from the dead.
Mary Shelley’s approach seems much less direct and more digging is involved to truly see the
metaphors in Frankenstein. Victor Frankenstein is much like God, or pretending to play God. He wants
to reanimate human tissue, dead tissue, something that Jesus did. So victor plays God and creates
the monster, and from the very beginning Victor shuns the monster, not very god-like to shun your
own creation. You could even argue that the monster is like Christ and victor is evil for creating
him. Even thought the monster eventually is corrupted. His original intention is pure, he is looking
for companionship, and the monster helps all even if he knows he will not be accepted. This sounds
like Jesus healing the sick or feeding the poor. A. E. Housman has been called a nihilist, but
assures people that he is just a firm atheist. In his poem, The Carpenter’s son, it is supposed to
be portrayed as a failed Christ. “Although Housman surrounds the narrative voice of Christ with
mortal doubts and frailties, he does so in such a way that allows readers to interpret this poem as
a promotion of faith,” writes critic Zachary Hutchins. So Christianity has played a major role
throughout history of British literature, even an atheist who doesn’t believe in Christianity has an
opinion and prose about it.


Resolutions prove something, provide an answer, or sometimes don‘t, but what resolutions (more than
anything) tend to show the protagonist true identity. Gawain and the Green Knight could be one of
the best pieces of writing from an anonymous author ever. Gawain can be boiled down to sheer
identity struggles. A disguised Morgan la Fay actually asks Gawain, “Are you really Gawain…” This
proves crucial to the rest of the book, constantly challenged by the green knight and Morgan la Fay.
The resolution to Gawain is a complex one with the Green Knight telling Gawain about the masquerade,
and also how Gawain were the green sash to show his shame. Yet, the Green Knight by constantly
challenging Gawain showed Gawain his true colors ultimately revealing his true identity . George
Orwell’s 1984 has an equally frustrating resolution at hand. The protagonist Winston gives in to the
totalitarian governments wishes. Completely erasing his identity. This government’s identity
liquidation goes deeper than its free-standing population. Winston’s job is actually to re-write
history, to make sure that the Party is never wrong. This is the ultimate identity extirpation, to
have no true past and no true future due to propaganda. The even the name of London has been erase,
its now area 11. In the resolution of Winston giving in to O’Brien and submitting Julia to room 101,
and the dramatic ending in which Winston is sitting in the café. This ending actually shows us a
lack of regained identity, there was no final victory and no more identity gained. Maybe one of the
best examples of an , “identity resolution,” is probably Charles Dickens Oliver Twist. Oliver Twist
entire story is about an orphaned boy was doesn’t know his own mother. This is a classic story about
a boy who is trying to find his way and the world and his identity that has seemingly been erased.
Yet, through trial and tribulation with Fagin, Monk, and the Maylies. In the resolution you can
clearly see how Oliver finds his true identity as a Maylie. He also finds out that Fagin was his
half-brother who actually was trying to deprive Oliver of his inheritance. Steven Michael writes, “
Instances in Oliver Twist during which underworld characters…this concern with identity is nowhere
more evident than in the idiolect of the Artful Dodger…” (42). This critic only reiterates my point
that a good portion of Dicken writing is to find an inner identity, or even spiritual writings.


Form and structure are in integral part of British literature and the particular structure of
chronological order is one of probably the most relevant. This order makes the most sense and can be
seen very clearly in Virginia Woolf‘s, “The Lighthouse,” and Doris Lessing’s, “The Golden Notebook.”
Now chronological order and structure may seem to be the most prevalent choice in literature, but
there are actually severally effect that you could structure a story around. Such as when a story is
told end to beginning or middle to beginning. So in reality chronological order is not the only
structure choice for these stories. These can also be called order effects, and critic Michael
Favere-Marchesi writes in “Order Effects Revisited“, “when we are processing mixed evidence, take
into consideration the chronological order of the evidence can effect our perception of facts…”
(2-6) This shows us how these effects and structure tools are actually used in our world within both
stories.


All of the literary devices discussed are all important and extremely relevant to past and
contemporary writing. Its important that we recognize the differences in the writings, and are able
to see deeper than just the surface. You must be able to see the underlying struggle or message that
is so prominent in today’s writing. Theses devices have shaped the most important works ever written
and to say that one is more important than another is merely a matter of opinion. Finally, I will
say that each devices discussed will always be important and each persons perspective is different
on each one.


Work Cited


Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. London: Hogarth P, 1927.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. London: Samuel Simmons, 1667.

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. Lodon: T. Egerton, Whitehall, 1813.
Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. London: Chapman & Hall, 1839.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales. “The Nun’s and Priest’s Tale”. New York, Penguin
Books.1977:621-622
Orwell, George. 1984. New York: Signet Classic, 1949
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. New York, Penguin Books. 1974
Rowling, Joanne K. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. New York: Scholastic Press, 1998

Lessing, Doris The Golden Notebook Harper Collins Publishers, Feb 1999
Shakespeare, William Macbeth Prentice Hall Literature The British Tradition. Eds. Kate Kinsella
et.al. Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc, 2005

Shelly, Marry. “Frankenstein”. Bantam Classic 1818
Housman A.E “ The Carpenter‘s Son” wrightedu; lines 32-45