English 10: Writing Portfolio

 

Catholic Memorial High School

 

2007-2008

   
   
   
   
   
Research  
   
Creative Writing  
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  For nearly five centuries, scholars have been quarrelling over the exact meanings and usages of the
word belligerent. Many people might think of belligerent as an elderly word, due to its Latin roots;
however, it is not. The term has only been around for roughly four hundred years, since its first
appearance into the English language, making it a sapling amount the Red Oaks and Sequoias of our
common tongue... Despite its inherent youthfulness its Latin origins give it a history that well
predates its first appearance in the English Language. Belligerent is derived from the Latin word,
belligerare, which means to wage war. It entrance into our common tongue not only shows the
integration of a Latin word into the English language, but the integration of the Latin language on
a whole into ours. By learning the history behind the word belligerent, its definitions, uses, and
evolution to modern times, the importance of Latin in the English language will be revealed.

Although Latin had a major impact and influence upon Old English, and an indirect influence on
Middle English, it was not until the Renaissance that the study of Latin came into vogue, as did the
word belligerent. The word belligerent, most likely surfaced into the English vernacular during this
period of time, for a couple of reasons. The first and foremost reason is the fact that its first
recorded usage occurred in the year 1577. Also, because during the Renaissance the interest in
learning classical languages was greatly revived. Therefore, there was a significant influx of all
classical, languages, especially Latin.

Over the course off time, belligerent has appeared as both an adjective and a noun, with the first
of the two being predominate in usage. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word has five
specific definitions that correlate to the variation of its use, which are all mentioned below. The
word's first recorded usage was as an adjective. It was under the following definition: “waging
or carrying on regular recognized war: actually engaged in hostilities; formerly also said of
warlike engines and the like". In the year 1809 it was also defined as, "fig. or transf.
to other hostilities," and in 1865 it was defined as, "...of or pertaining to
belligerents". As a noun it was used first in 1811, and was defined as, “a nation, party, or
person waging war (recognized by the law of nations). The last meaning of it as a noun was issued in
1839, as a "fig. or transf. to other hostile agents".

Sadly relatively few authors have used the word in their writing. Mostly lesser known authors have
utilized the word in their texts. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, however, there has
been one widely celebrated author, one well-known author, and an important historical figure, which
have all used the word. These authors none other that Charles Dickens, who penned Great Expectations
and a Tale of Two cities, Washington Irving, well known for his American folk tales, and Finally
John Dee, an important figure oath the Elizabethan Age and the writer responsible for the first
recorded usage of the word, which he used as an adjective. The sentence appeared in his work, A true
and faithful relation of what passed between.. J.D. and some spirits a in the year 1577. The
sentence was, "four...belligerent Castles out of which trumpets sounded thrice.". Irving
used the word in his book, Knickerbocker's History of New York, which was published in the year
of 1809. He used the word as an adjective in the following sentence; "he assumed a most
belligerent look". Dickens’s used the term in his novel The Life and Adventures of Nicholas
Nikelby, which was published in 1839. The word appeared as a noun in the sentence, "a loud
shout attracted the belligerents [i.e. the policemen]".

Today, belligerent is defined as waging war; specifically; belonging to or recognized as a state at
war and protected by and subject to the laws of war", and also as "inclined to or
exhibiting assertiveness, hostility, or combativeness," according to the Merriam-Webster's
Online Dictionary. Unsurprisingly, belligerent changed half way through its life from an adjective
into a noun. Such transformations of the word stop here. For the past two hundred years or so, the
word has remained unchanged. Here are two modern examples of how the word is used in a sentence, by
modern writers: “They have adopted every position on the spectrum between them, although with a bias
towards the belligerent,” according to Browen Maddox of the London Times, written on October 31,
2007 and, “within the alliance, the current European view of America as belligerent, simplistic and
insensitive to Islam does not foster unity,” as written by Roger Cohen of the New York Times, On
November 1, 2007.

In a survey taken of five people, it was found that people have several different perceptions of the
word, although these perceptions vary little. Forty percent of the survey mentioned the word angry
when they were asked to define it. It also was defined, on the other hand, as anything from
"ugly” and "trouble" to “stubborn [and] mean”. One constant remained throughout the
survey, however. The sentences used by those interviewed all possessed negative connotations of the
term. For example, Dan, a high school student said as his sentence that, “the hockey players were
belligerent as they played B.C. [High]. Clearly for American speakers, there is little variation in
the meaning of the word.

In a survey of foreign language speakers, for whom English is a second language, fifty percent of
the participants did not know the definition of the word. For the other half, twenty-five percent
gave an incorrect definition, and the remaining twenty-five percent gave the correct definition and
usage. However, the last fourth of the participants had lived in America their whole lives. Clearly,
the word belligerent is not a well known word. Perhaps this is because iENgli8sh is not intertwined
with any other language. Yes it shares cognates with other romance languages, because they have
picked up bits of Latin over time as well, but English has a parent, Germanic, that was not
influenced by Latin, it is an only child, and it has not spawned any new languages itself. Due to
this, it would be more or less impossible to recognize the word in English for one who speaks it as
a second language, because there would be no word similar to it in their own native tongue, unless
it took the same original Latin word, and modify it to fit their own language.

In closing, the future of the word belligerent is uncertain. Although, it is a widely known term for
primary English speakers, only a few secondary English speakers know it. This fact could be
troublesome in the not so distant future, as eventually foreign language speakers will outnumber
those who steadfastly stick to English.
   
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Dear Master Anonymous,

Thank you for the all of the prior literary contributions that you have made to the Prentice Hall
textbook, Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes. Clearly, the textbook and British literature would not
be the same without you, and for this we thank you dearly. However, given our current financial
situation, we can no longer afford your work. The work in question is Gawain and the Green Knight.
We mean no ill will by this decision; simply put, it is in the best interests of our company and the
students who will be using this textbook. Please understand that the actual piece of literature we
are removing is not equal, in terms of quality, with the rest of the material in the book. In
rejecting your work, we focused on three main reasons. The first being that, although there are
Christian ideals presented in Gawain, they are not elaborated upon, often leaving the reader in the
dark. The second reason is the simple fact that the relationship between Gawain and the Green Knight
is not developed enough, especially the correlation between the color “green” and Gawain. Finally,
there are unneeded scenes and sordid imagery presented in the story, which seem to serve no other
purpose than for base entertainment value, such as the scene with Gawain and the lady.


This leads us directly into our first stated reason for rejecting the current edition of your epic,
from our textbooks. The story begins at Christmas, specifically at a Christmas Feast, at the court
of none other than King Arthur. The idea of Christmas is deeply ingrained in your work: Gawain meets
the Green Knight twice on this day, each visit separated by a year, thus signifying that Gawain is
in a year long Advent waiting for the day to keep his promise. The idea of Christmas is pursued
through the Christian ideals shared by the members of King Arthur’s court, including Sir Gawain, as
well. Sadly however, you fail to elaborate clearly on the importance of Christmas, and Christian
ideals in the text. Even when you do, it is obscured by symbolism with double, or triple meanings,
resulting in difficulty on the part of reader in interpretation the work. Even more so is the
contradiction of religious symbolism associated with Gawain’s character. Even though Gawain and his
code of honor are based in Chivalry, which in turn is rooted in Christianity, he expresses
characteristics of other religions in his symbols, the foremost symbol of which is the pentangle or
“The Endless Knot”.1 The pentangle, is considered to be a Jewish symbol. According to Sir E. A.
Wallis-Budge (Amulets and Superstitions), “the hexagram, or in Jewish parlance the Magen David, is a
later modification of the Pentangle or Pentacle.”2 Alan M. Markman writes that the, “…qualities of
the ideal knight which Gawain possesses are courage, humility, courtesy, and loyalty.”3 Your work is
filled throughout with such ambiguity. While the characteristics mentioned above by Markman appear
Christian, they could easily fall under any religion.


From the beginning it is clear that Sir Gawain and the Green Knight share a special relationship,
which lasts until the conclusion of the poem, yet we are left mostly in the dark concerning how
closely the connection between the pair actually is. It is not even the relationship between the two
that should be elaborated upon the most; it is the fact that Sir Bertilak assumes the alter ego of a
Green Knight, not a red, purple, orange, or yellow knight. The fact that Sir Gawain’s opponent is a
Green Knight seems to make him the perfect ideological opponent of Gawain, and all of Chivalry for
that matter. Green is a color that most likely represents greed, and evil. Clearly, he stands for
the complete opposite ideals of Gawain. Sadly, however, your fail to emphasize this other than the
myriad of appearances the word “green” makes in the stanzas in which he is introduced.


As it was mentioned earlier, the text of Gawain is too suggestive for high school readers,
especially in the scenes in which Gawain finds himself alone with the wife of Sir Bestial. Although
the chain of events that occur are necessary in understanding the poem, the sensuality imbedded in
them is not. For example, in lines 1531-1534 the lady declares her eligibility by telling Gawain, “I
sit here unchaperoned, and stay/ to acquire some courtly game;/ so while my lord is away,/ Teach me
your true wit’s fame”4 If those lines are not of enough substance for you to understand our reasons,
then look no further then line 1770, in which you write, “For that peerless princess pressed him so
hotly,”5 It seems that in this type of writing, you are more interested in entertaining the patrons
of a mead hall, and not those studying British Literature. Richard M. Trask writes that, “The whole
bedroom scenario is playful, bordering on ludicrousness,”.6


In closing, we truly feel sorry for the removal of your greatest work from our textbooks. Please do
not lose hope. If you heed our suggestions, Sir Gawain may once again ride in our next textbook.

Sincerely yours,
Andrew Fanikos

   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
  The coach sits in the stands above the field, unnerved and quiet, in the traditional style. He
watches as his team moves the ball across the verdant pitch, sometimes avoiding and colliding with
opponents. As one player is “laid-out” with a particularly vicious hit, the crowd moans. However,
the alert players quickly form a ruck and are able to recover the ball. The attack again commences,
and one of the players is able to break free, past the goal line, for the try, much to the crowds
delight. Such is a typical rugby match, which has grown in popularity since its inception. Rugby is
known as a violent game, yet one played by gentlemen, and admired for its fine sense of camaraderie.
As the old saying goes, “soccer is a gentlemen’s game played by toughs, and rugby is a tough’s game,
played by gentlemen,” according to the World of Sports Science, Volume Two. The sport is relatively
old, as it was developed at about the same time that modern football, or soccer, was first
contrived. Rugby first appeared as a form of football, in which the players could hold the ball and
tackle. This style of playing was especially popular at various schools in England, such as the
Rugby school, located in Rugby England, where legend has it that the game was first invented,
according to the Encyclopedia Britannica Volume Ten. Although the game existed as one entity, in
the late 1800’s the game split into two different sects known as Rugby League and Rugby Union, which
still exist to this day. Rugby League is the professional organization, while the latter is for
amateurs. In essence, there is little difference between these two organizations, besides disparity
between the quality of play and slightly different rules.

Since its inception, Rugby has grown to become a wildly popular sport throughout the world and
especially in Great Britain. Rugby is generally at the forefront of the news, as it is regularly
featured on the main pages of The London Times, the Mirror, the Telegraph, and the Metro. Clearly,
it is just as important to the British as our own football or baseball is to us. Not only is it just
a British sport, but one that is played throughout the world, even in our own America. In fact,
“rugby is played officially in over 100 countries” according to the World of Sports Science Volume
Two.

Paul Sackey is a relatively well-known professional rugby player, who has been featured on the
English National Team, as well as his current club, the London Wasps. In an article written by
Catherine Riley of The London Times on February 2, 2008, Paul says of his experience playing rugby
that, “I don’t hate rugby. I loved football [soccer] when I was growing up and rugby, when I was
young, came second.” Sackey’s comment reveals an interesting aspect about Rugby’s popularity. Yes it
is quite popular, but it still is overshadowed by football, or soccer, as an American would call it.
For a world-class rugby player to admit that he enjoyed football more when growing up, only further
illustrates this.

As for amateur players, they consist of a much broader base of people that include students, adults,
and any others who are not paid to play. Like amateur leagues in the United States, little or no
attention is paid to them, but for them that does not matter. They play very simply for the love of
the game, and for the camaraderie. The Dewsbury Reporter writes on February 28, 2008 that, “The
great thing about the amateur game at all levels is that players are not robots, they still make
mistakes and every attack doesn't bring a try. The players give so much for their sport.”
Recently, however, amateur players from Scotland will be given “the chance to strut their stuff on
the international stage twice this season.” according to Lewis Stuart writing for the United Kingdom
Times on November 28, 2008. Douglass Hard, the secretary of the Shaw Cross club in 1947, said of his
experience with amateur rugby, in an article of The Dewsbury Reporter on October 12, 2007, that,”
It’s been a marvelous time really. I won’t say it’s always been easy, but we’ve achieved a great
deal.”

Due to the nature of Rugby, many consider it to be a struggle of both mind and body, due to the need
of tactics and strength to win. During both the Romantic and Victorian period, such ideals of the
sport can be seen in literature. In Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem entitled “The Charge of the Light
Brigade”, which deals with a failed attempt of the British soldiers to over take the Russians during
the Crimean War the struggle is evident as the British try mightily, but cannot defeat the Russians.
In lines 11 through fifteen Tennyson writes, “Not though the soldier knew/ someone had
blundered:/Theirs not to make reply, /Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die,” which
could easily refer to or be based on the ill planned tactics of a Rugby coach. Tennyson also writes
in line 33 “Right through the line they broke;” which is similar to players trying to break through
opponents’ lines to score.

Literature, however, is not merely limited to something we might find in a book or on a piece of
paper. Literature includes movies, music, and plays as well. In the cinemas, Rugby can be found
often in the subplots of movies, as well as the subjects of movies. The two most known movies that
focus almost exclusively on rugby are This Sporting Life, which first appeared in 1963, and the more
recent Up ‘n’ Under, which came out in 1998. Both movies starkly contrast with Tennyson’s original
depiction of rugby being something that requires both mental and physical toughness, as well as a
sport that is noble. This Sporting Life, directed by Lindsay Anderson I and written by David Story
III, tells the story of a man, Frank Machin, who dreams of becoming a rugby star. In the movie,
Frank is violent, brutish, and difficult to understand. On the other hand, Up ‘n’ Under, directed
and written by John Godber, is a comedy that finds a former pro trying to develop a rugby team, out
of a group of drunks, that is capable of defeating one of the top amateur clubs in the sport. Both
movies offer a rather unflattering image of professional rugby. It is true that rugby is violent,
however it is not true that all rugby players are unsympathetic brutes. Just like any other sport,
there are players who give the game a bad image, and others that quietly go about their business and
represent the sport well. Those athletes who do brand the sport in a negative way should not be
allowed to act as a representation of a typical rugby player. As for music, the most familiar
mentions of rugby are in the songs sung by the players following a match. In most cases these songs
are not the kind one would serenade to his or her mother. This points to the idea that rugby players
care little about the public’s perception of them, and actually revel in being portrayed as raucous
iron-men.

In closing the future of rugby is well assured due to its immense popularity, which includes the
number of its participants, as well as its fan base. Like any other sport, fans live and die for
their favorite teams and players. Players that are professional, as well as those that are amateurs
play for a simple love of the game. Rugby has both helped shape literature and literature has helped
shape rugby. Clearly, rugby is, has been, and will continue to be an important factor in the lives
and literature of the people of Great Britain.
   
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

British Literature consists of perhaps the widest base of styles, themes, and structure of any type
of world literature, despite the fact that it predates other literature by thousands of years. What
then is British Literature? Although there is no clear answer to this question, British Literature
can be best classified by the great writers and works that exist within its confines. Both primitive
and modern authors have shaped British Literature, and the language it is composed in, in order to
meet their own needs and the needs of their audiences. Although their works vary greatly, British
writers use the similar settings, themes, resolutions, and discussions on gender, and forms in their
works, which separate them form the literature of other cultures.


Poet William Wordsworth once wrote in, “The Tables Turned, “Come forth into the light of things, /
Let nature be your teacher” (Kinsella 611). Fellow British writers, have taken heart to this
statement, and venture well beyond the placement of a character into our modernized world. These
authors set their stories in worlds in which the characters or narrators are at one with nature. In
some instances, the settings were created such as “Middle Earth” in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and
Brian Jacques, who set his stories in “Mossflower”. In The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien
informs us that, “He [Bilbo Baggins] found himself wondering at times, especially in the autumn,
about the wild lands, and strange visions of mountains that he had never seen came into his dreams”
(66). Concerning nature, Brian Jacques writes in his tale Redwall, that, “Matthias ducked deeper
into the ferns and was soon just a silent ripple making through the lush summer green of Mossflower
towards the Church of St. Ninian” (69). Although not known for themes pertaining to nature, nature
plays a large part in the setting of Agatha Christie’s novel And Then There Were None. The novel
primarily takes place on a deserted island in which the characters only have contact between
themselves and the nature that encloses them. During the novel, General MacArthur when asked about
looking out to see answers that, “ ‘Yes’… ‘It is pleasant. It’s a good place, I think, to wait’”
(112). When asked what he is waiting for, MacArthur responds that he is waiting for, “ ‘The end. But
I think you know that, don’t you? It’s true isn’t it? We are all waiting for the end.’” The general
also adds that, “ ‘none of us are going to leave this island’” (112). The general’s comments
strongly play into the idea of nature, because an island is in some regards an end within itself.
There is only so much of it before it ends in the sea. Therefore it would only be fitting for the
General to feel that all of the characters would die on the island. Doris Lessing as well, is not
someone to look over the importance of a story being at one with nature, and therefore fills her
novels with vivid descriptions of it. In The Grass Is Singing she writes, “The sun glinted on the
handcuffs, on the bicycles, on the masses of heavy wet leaves. It was a wet sultry morning. The sky
was a tumult of discolored clouds: it looked full of billowing dirty washing. Puddles on the pale
soil held a sheen of sky” (8-9).


In William Butler Yeats’ poem, “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”, he stresses the health benefits of
being at one with nature. He states, “And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping
slow,” (5) and also that, “ I will arise and go now, for always night and day/ I hear lake water
lapping with low sounds by the shore: / While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray, / I
hear it in the deep heart’s core” (9-12). Critic R. K. R. Thornton of Newcastle, writes of Yeats’
work that, “‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ is a poem of the future and present tenses, of the
pavements of the contemporary world creating a longing for an immediate future escape, apparently
little concerned with the role which the island might have in the larger scheme of things, except as
a retreat from the world” (288). Much like Yeats, Rudyard Kipling’s novels, especially The Jungle
Book, have close relations to nature. Rudyard Kipling writes of nature, through the eyes of a
Mowgli, that, “Sometimes he could see for miles and miles across the still green jungle, as a man on
top of a mast can see for miles across the sea, and then the branches and leaves would lash him
across the face,…”(34).


For all of their lightheartedness and witty satire, British authors present surprisingly melancholy
themes in a myriad of their works. An often-employed theme present in British works is loneliness.
In George Orwell’s novel 1984, the protagonist Winston Smith often contemplates the isolation that
he feels from the rest of his brainwashed brethren. Orwell writes of Winston, during one of these
moments, as feeling, “…as though he were wandering in the forests of the sea bottom, lost in a
monstrous world where he himself was the monster. He was alone” (26). In Oliver Twist, Charles
Dickens places emphasis upon the idea of solitude, as well, placing it primarily upon the shoulders
of young Oliver. Dickens writes at the start of chapter three that, “For a week after the commission
of the impious and profane offence of asking for more, Oliver remained a close prisoner in the dark
solitary room to which he had been consigned by the wisdom and mercy of the board” (14). Virginia
Wolf uses the device as well in her novel To the Lighthouse. Virginia Wolf writes, of her character
Mr. Tansley, that, “He had no others. He felt very rough and isolated and lonely” (84).


The works of A.E. Housman are tinged with a sense of loneliness as well, despite the fact that his
poems concentrate chiefly on bereavement. In his poem, “Illic Jacket”, he writes, “Oh dark is the
chamber and lonely,/ And lights and companions depart;” (9-10). Paul McCartney’s song, Eleanor
Rigby, is a classic example of loneliness in British literature. It concerns the doings of lonely
people, specifically Eleanor Rigby and Father Mackenzie. Paul sings, “Eleanor Rigby/ Died in the
church and was buried along with her name, / nobody came” (22-24). Paul ends with the question, “all
the lonely people, where do they all come from? / All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”
(28-29). Paul McCartney himself stated that, “ ‘She [Eleanor Rigby] might be some lonely spinster of
this parish who’s not going to get a wedding, and that was what I choose. So this became a song
about lonely people’” (282 Miles). Clearly, the idea of loneliness is something that cannot be
ignored in any avenue of artistic expression for the British. Although there is no easy way to
explain these phenomena, there is one possible explanation. The British, due to the fact that
inhabit an island, may feel apart from the rest of the world, and this contributes to the prevailing
theme of loneliness in British Literature.


Unlike other writers, the British, do not focus merely on the accomplishment of goals, or of the
culmination of a journey as a resolution to their work. Rather, a common resolution of British
literature is the complete change of a main character’s beliefs and ideas from those that they had
at the beginning of the story. In Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations, Estella, the once proud
and out of reach love interest of the protagonist Pip, is by the end of the novel, a completely
different woman. During the early part of the novel Estella shows great disdain for Pip and the air
of commonness about him. At their first meeting Estella ridicules Pip, and states, “ ‘He calls the
knaves, Jacks, this boy!’” (60) and adds, “ ‘And what coarse hands he has. And what thick boots!’ ”
(60). By the end, however, Estella has changed in her attitude towards Pip. She proclaims, “ ‘I have
been bent and broken, but – I hope- into a better shape. Be as considerate and good to me as you
were, and tell me we are friends’” (60). Critic David Trotter writes on the subject that, “Great
Expectations is a story of moral redemption” (vii). Clearly, Estella has changed through life
experiences and has learned to appreciate the metaphysical aspects of a person’s character rather
than their appearance or background. Dickens presumably, in writing such a transformation, is
suggesting to the lower classes that they can and will be respected someday, and to continuing to
hold fast to their ideals and work. This idea would be especially prevalent in and industrialized
London, which features much poverty, and the few who are wealthy. It is Dickens’s way of saying that
everything will essentially be all right. 1984 is the most prominent example of a character’s
complete change. Winston Smith, once a profuse hater of Big Brother, wrote in his diary, “DOWN WITH
BIG BROTHER DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER” (18). Following Winston’s abuse at the hands of the Thought
Police” he no longer feels the need or the desire to resent “Big Brother” Orwell finishes the novel
by writing, “He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.” (297). Naomi Jacobs writes
in her paper, “Dissent, Assent, and the Body in Nineteen Eighty-Four”, that, “In the extended
torture that follows his arrest, Winston learns first-hand that the power of the body to oppose the
mind’s will to resistance is stronger than the body’s power to oppose the mind’s will to submit”
(12). Essentially, Jacob’s suggests that Winston’s physical beatings ultimately cause him to change
his ways. This, indeed, is on the other end of the spectrum from Great Expectations, however it is
important to note that Orwell has a vastly different audience and is writing in a quite different
age from Dickens. The change of Winston, is used to represent the power that autocrats wield over
their people, and how in this societies the change of a human is completely feasible. This idea is small component of
Orwell’s overall message concerning prevention of future tyrannies. In Virginia Wolf’s Lady in the
Looking Glass a complete change of character is the major point of emphasis behind the whole story.
The narrator originally tells us:


“—that Isabella had known many people, had had many friend ; and thus if one had the audacity to
open a drawer and read her letters, one would find the traces of many agitations, of appointments to
meet, of upbraidings for not having met, long letters of intimacy and affection, violent letters of
jealousy and reproach, terrible final words of parting—for all those interviews and assignations had
led to nothing—that is, she had never married, and yet, judging from the masklike indifference of
her face, she had gone through twenty times more passion and experience than those whose loves are
trumpeted forth for all the world to hear” (Kinsella 1160).


Towards the end of the story however, Woolf writes, “Isabella was perfectly empty. She had no
thoughts. She had no friends. She cared for nobody. As for her letters, they were all bills”
(Kinsella 1163). This short story presents the idea of how we learn more about person as the come
closer to us, or as we spend more time with them, like the mirror in the story (narrator). In the
poem, “When I Was One-and-Twenty”, by A.E. Houseman the narrator’s ideas and feelings toward love
completely change, due to life experience, and what amounts to heartbreak. Houseman writes that,
“Give pearls away and rubies/ But keep your fancy free.’/ But I was one-and-twenty, / No use to talk
to me” (1-8) At the poem’s conclusion, the narrator sings a different song. Housman writes, “When I
was one-and-twenty/ I heard him say again,/ “The hear out of the bosom/ Was never given in vain;
‘Tis paid with sighs a plenty/ And sold for endless rue.”/ And I am two-and-twenty,/ And oh, ‘tis
true, ‘tis true” (9-16).


The idea of women as objects is a common issue with regards to gender in British literature.
Authors, who use this device for gender, often take different sides on the issue. For example, Doris
Lessing expresses indignation at this portrayal of the role of women. In her work, The Golden
Notebook, she writes, in a dialogue that her characters share, that, “ ‘Free women’ said Anna wryly.
She added, with an anger new to Molly, so that she earned another quick scrutinizing glance from her
friend: ‘They still define us in terms of relationships with men, even the best of them’” (4). Jane
Austen as well, expresses the same embodiment in her works. In her novel, Pride and Prejudice, she
writes, also in the form of a dialogue between characters that, “ ‘Let her go then. Colonel Foster
is a sensible man, and will keep her out of any real mischief; and she is luckily too poor to be an
object of prey to any body’”(224). Even earlier in the novel, one of Austen’s characters (Mr.
Collins) responds belligerently to a simple interruption, made by a woman, while he was speaking.
Mr. Collins states that, “ ‘I have often observed how little young ladies are interested by books of
a serious stamp, though written solely for their benefit. It amazes me, I confess; -for certainly,
there can be nothing so advantageous to them as instruction. But I will no longer importune you my
young cousin’” (67). Austen simply points out the problems that exist in the society of her day. As
evidence from her writings, Austen believes that women are not objects to amass for pleasure, or to
use to achieve social standing. Neither should they be controlled. This is simply a idea that is a
product of the times in which Austen lived, a time when women were seeking more rights and
liberties.


Musician Mick Jagger, however, expresses quite different views from those of Austen. In his song,
“Under My Thumb”, women are characterized as objects that need to be controlled, or for simple
pleasure. Jagger sings, “The way she does just what she’s told/ Down to me, the change has come/
She’s under my thumb…” (15-17). In a later interview with the Rolling Stone Magazine, Jagger
recalls that, “It was never a single, but it was always a very well-known album track. And then it
became a thing feminists fastened on. It's a bit of a jokey (sic) number, really” ( 5). Jagger
adds, in answer to another question, “Yes, it's a caricature, and it's in reply to a girl
who was a very pushy woman”( 5). Even in another song, Mick Jagger expresses a similar sentiment.
In “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction” Jagger croons, “I can’t get no satisfaction,…” ( 1) and adds,
“When I’m ridin’ round the world, and I’m doin’ this and I’m signin' that/ And I’m tryin’ to
make some girl,…” (21-22). Paul McCartney as well, shares similar sentiments with Jagger in a few
of his pieces. In his song, “Lovely Rita”, Paul sings, “Took her out and tried to win her, Had a
laugh and over dinner, Told her I would really like to see her again, Got the bill and Rita paid it,
Took her home and nearly made it,…” (16-20). Much like Austen, the works of Jagger and McCartney
are simply products from the time. The sixties were an age of rebellion, and by trying to portray
women as objects in their works, they effectivel rebel against the feminists and their ideas. Also,
it needs to be taken into consideration that some times musicians, especially rock stars, look at
women not as people but as necessities, or objects.


Over the centuries, British authors have developed, and resuscitated various forms to suit their
needs. One such particular form, is that of anthropomorphism, which is a form that has been a
dominant force in British literature. According to Carl Disalvo, of Carnegie Mellon Institute, this
particular style, “…is human form of an object” ( 1). Rudyard Kipling is an author who heavily
relies on this one form, as it dominates in his classic, The Jungle Book, in which animals are
depicted as having human-like qualities, such as the ability to speak. Kipling writes, “ ‘Listen
man-cub’ said the bear, and his voice rumbled like thunder on a hot night” (31). Brian Jacques uses
this form as well in nearly all of his novels. Like Kipling, Jacques gives human characteristics to
animals, such as the ability to speak. In his novel, Mossflower, Jacques writes, “As the guards
pinned the struggling mouse down, his voice shook with fury. ‘My name is Martin the Warrior’” ( 20).
On a more serious note, George Orwell’s novel, Animal Farm, is written entirely from the point of
view of animals. The animals in the book act like man so much Orwell writes that, “The creatures
outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was
impossible to say which was which”(115). J.R.R. Tolkien also uses this form during the course of his
novels concerning the doings of the mystical land known as “Middle Earth”. During the course of The
Two Towers, Tolkien often mentions Ents, who are essentially trees with human characteristics.
Tolkien writes that, “They found that they were looking at a most extraordinary face. It belonged to
a large Man-like, almost Troll-like, figure, at least fourteen feet high, very sturdy, with a tall
head, and hardly any neck. Whether it was clad in stuff like green and gray bark, or whether that
was its hide, was difficult to say”(78). Although to a lesser extent, even William Butler Yeats uses
Anthropomorphism, especially during his poems concerning nature. In his poem, “The Second Coming”,
Yeats writes about the coming of a new age. To do this, he applies human characteristics to the
second age that discusses within his poem. During the final two lines Yeats asks, “And what rough
beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?” Mick Jagger employs
this device as well in his song “Beast of Burden”, in which he sings from the point of view from a
working animal. Jagger sings, “I'll never be your beast of burden/ My back is broad but
it's a hurting” (1-2) and adds that, “I've walked for miles my feet are hurting” (5).

In closing British Literature essentially consists of five vital aspects that separate it from other
world literature. It’s settings deal with nature, the characters are lonely, by the end of the work,
the character’s are either changed in their own personality or ideas or our perception of them have
changed, women are classified as objects, and British writers use both the new and old literary
devices. British literature a timeless treasure that should be shared and passed on from generation
to generation, and will be passed on from generation to generation, because it is simply good. One
owes it to his or herself to become immersed in it.

 

 

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