Category Archives: Writing

“The women in Macbeth have more than a subsidiary role to play. They are pivotal to the whole action of the play.” Discuss.

Elitism, racism and sexism have always existed especially in Elizabethan times. Despite this, Shakespeare defies this and empowers the women in his Elizabethan tragedy Macbeth.  The women in Macbeth namely the Three Witches and Lady Macbeth are pivotal to the entire action of the play. This is showed by their influence on Macbeth; transforming a man of integrity and loyalty into a traitor with an uncontrollable lust for power.

The Three Witches are not merely a few “weird sisters” but are the puppeteers manipulating the puppet. Although at first it may seem like the Three Witches have a small part to play they are crucial to the entire action of the play. The Three Witches are often referred to as “hags” or “weird sisters” which places them as with supernatural powers that are cannot be understood by others. On their first encounter with Macbeth the Witches hail “thane of Glamis” and “thane of Cawdor” before declaring “thou shalt be king hereafter!” This foreshadowing plants the seed of evil in his mind beginning Macbeth’s downfall. The witches know of and are exploiting Macbeth’s ambition leading him to murder the King and completing their prophecy. The Three Witches further continue to play with Macbeth’s mind with their second encounter. Chanting and stirring their broth Macbeth is informed that “none of woman born/Shall harm Macbeth.” This ambiguous riddle makes Macbeth feel like he can “never vanquished” causing his ambition to run rampant sealing his doom. The Witches lead him to actions he wouldn’t have otherwise committed such as murdering Macduff’s family and causing Macduff to take back the throne. The Three Witches with their equivocal expressions mislead Macbeth which subsequently alters the entire action of the play. They might have only a few scenes in the play but it is enough for the Three Witches to be able to alter the entire outcome.

Shakespeare presents another female character who dominates the action of the narrative. Although may seem like Macbeth is in control of his own life but it is Lady Macbeth who is really in power. The Witches planted the seed of evil but Lady Macbeth tends to it and helps it manifest. Upon hearing the Witches’ prophecy Macbeth decides to let events happen “without my stir”. He has decided to let “chance” play out instead of taking action himself. Shakespeare contrasts this idea of fate with Lady Macbeth who has already seen the benefits and riches of becoming queen and orders Macbeth to fight to fulfil the Witches’ prediction. Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to “look like the innocent flower/But be the serpent under’t.” Shakespeare uses this notion of appearance versus reality in order to bring out a darker side of Macbeth comparing him to a serpent. Furthermore, when Macbeth faced a moral dilemma and wanted to “proceed no further in this business” Lady Macbeth takes action again accusing her husband of cowardice and questioning her manhood. She hastily asks if “art thou afeard to be the same in thine own act and valour.”  This directly resulted in Macbeth committing high treason; an act he would have never otherwise considered. Lady Macbeth further reinforces her role in the murder of Duncan by stating to her husband that her “hands are of your colour.” This metaphor shows just how guilty she is even though she did not carry out the act. Lady Macbeth has much more than a subsidiary role to play. She manipulates her husband to achieve her goals.

Despite how the women influence Macbeth’s actions it may be argued that his ultimate downfall is due to his own character. Following Aristotle’s definition of a tragedy Macbeth has one fatal flaw; Ambition which allows the women to manipulate him. His ambition eventually grows so much that he wishes to secure the throne and so that nobody can challenge him. Although Macbeth does have “vaulting ambition” without the women in the play it would never have grown strong enough to overthrow the king. The Witches plant the idea of becoming king helping the idea to grow stronger and it is Lady Macbeth who confirms Macbeth’s fate. Macbeth may be ambitious but his wife is even more ambitions. This ambition is shown as she plans to convince Macbeth to murder Duncan by “pouring my spirits in thine ear”. This is another metaphor for her empowering Macbeth with the ability to murder the King.

The Three Witches cause Macbeth to have the idea of becoming king and the illusion of being invincible. This allows Lady Macbeth to manipulate easily manipulate one of the King’s bravest and most loyal soldiers to commit high treason against him. Therefore; although Macbeth has much ambition the Three Witches exploit his weakness to cause his downfall and Lady Macbeth has even more than her husband. The women in Macbeth appear to have a subsidiary role but are much more. They are pivotal to the entire action of the Elizabethan Tragedy.

-Jason Li 10L

Advertisements

A descriptive piece I wrote during my trip to China

Occasionally we would pass a plane, stationary in the air; frozen, snagged in the thick smog; as if a single giant invisible thread was affixed to the centre, suspended; an oafish father dangles a toy in front of his child’s face. The road was never still; cars constantly change lanes like finicky toddlers unsatisfied with their positions. Below, a man stands under a door frame, perfectly still, staring at the ground. Lines and lines of trees with half painted trunks pass by: white from halfway down; a collection of embarrassingly tanned tourists. In the distance grey shapes circle each other. A glimmering sea assaults the eyes; only after the light fades can you see that it’s a million cars parked across the dirt and sand. Jagged teeth on cranes and towers smile at us. How beautiful does that pale white smoke billow and expand and grow and dissipate into clouds that fade into wisps, then nothing. Twins and triplets and quadruplets of buildings blend into one. Misshapen roads crafted apart from one another form an ugly apparition in the distance: a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces are forced together stretched from one side of the horizon to the other, suspended above their brothers by blocks upon blocks of concrete and cement. From afar, those cranes perched atop skyscrapers are enormous compass needles. Herds of mechanical leviathans, industrial beasts, huge great stinking creatures meander, tilt, topple, stumble, stomp: cast-iron titans bellow, fuming with smoke as their rivets throb. The alphas have pointed horns with great spires protruding out; a sharp and angry finger pointed towards the heavens: an accusing member at the ones who have forgotten them. A sign wobbles below a train station ceiling, its sides rusted and font outdated. Shadows form triangles from squares.

A science fiction story – Jason Li 9J

This is a science fiction story I wrote some time back.

The cold night air flew through the park, brushing past leaves and stung on my exposed face. The flickering of the light was the only thing that broke the eerie silence of the night as I sat on the bench staring into darkness. The trees slowly swayed in the night air as If they were hypnotised. I watched dust on the path swirl around. I turned to my right, half expecting my old friend to be there but he was not. All that my my gaze was the top of a bin and nothing else. I wearily sighed as I remembered how cheerful these nights once were; now even he was gone.

A crack brought back my senses. I looked up to see the colossal but hundreds of year old tree behind me was collapsing. I scrambled to get out of the way but I couldn’t. My muscles froze up. My lips felt dry and as I opened them to scream, no sound escaped my mouth. I couldn’t move. I stood there, staring at the face of death and closed my eyes as the tree When i regained consciousness the last thing i remembered was the pain which was now strangely gone. Was I alive or was I dead I asked myself when all my other senses flooded in. I realised in was in a bed.

What was this place?

I opened my eyes slowly to see a bright light. The room i was in was illuminated by an unknown light source. The walls which were as white fresh snow in sunshine came together with perfect precision at the corners and edges. Sitting up, I realised the room was unnaturally quiet. A loud hissing noise caught my attention and as I turned around I noticed a door which i didn’t even know was there opened. Stepping outside, I saw a cavernous round room with many other rooms like mine.

A window caught my eye and I rushed to it. Outside was a city. A city made entirely from a white material. The city stretched beyond the horizon, I could see a complex grey road system connect the superstructures. The city rose high above the cloud layer and into the burgundy sky which made the white walls glow a gentle shade of the oddly coloured sky. The city seemed to almost follow a template. The same layout repeated over and over again but despite the beauty. Every road was empty, not a single person. There were no visible life forms.

I sat down on another white bench pondering. The city was a nut with only its shell. Devoid of life but everything intact.  I entered another corridor and followed it through to a much larger structure. The building was much larger than the one I had first stumbled into. This one rose high into the sky and the roof was closed in a dome, perfectly round and decorated with various styles of painting and gemstones. The entire dome seemed to radiate with colour which was a nice change rather than the monochromatic tone of everything else.   I noticed a few humans chatting to each other. Excited, I ran up to one greeting them and introducing myself.

“Finally, some humans!” I said to them

“Hello there. Why do you seem so surprised to see us?” One of them said

“I haven’t seen a single soul for ages and I don’t know why there aren’t much people in the streets”

“Oh, they’ve all gone to see a spectacular supernova. It is not far from here, just a few light years. They say another like it won’t happen for a long time. We stayed behind because we don’t like travelling on spaceships.” He explained. “The city is more densely populated near the centre. You can come with us if you want.”

“Am I dead?” I asked.

“Of course not!”

“Then where is this? Where am I?”

“Earth, 3045.”

The Action Genre – Jason Li

A short introduction to the film genre ‘Action’ and a comparison for the movies ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘The Bourne Identity’ (Spoilers)

The Action Genre *Spoiler Alert*

The word genre didn’t appear until film historians looked back at films which had been created and found certain patterns and similar traits. Genres are films which can be grouped together because of their similarities. Films of the same genre will usually share similar storyline, and the same symbolic and technical codes. There are many reasons why a filmmaker would choose to make a film. Two main reasons are as a form of art and the other is to create revenue and gain profits. If for example a type or genre of film is put on sale and it attracts large amounts of revenue, other filmmakers who wish to generate similar or more amounts of revenue will be more inclined to follow the same patterns of the genre in hope of achieving same success. An example would be movie sequels, usually the original creates much revenue so a choice is made to continue the story; sequels are usually in the same genre.

One genre which has been of much success and popularity is the Action Genre. Like all genres, action films will usually share similar patterns and conventions. Many sub-genres have appeared within the Action Genre such as spy films and action comedy-Most films classified as action try to keep the audience engaged with many things going on such as car chases, situations in which the hero is thrown in which are almost impossible to escape from, extended fight scenes and large explosions. Some other common traits and conventions of the characters and locations include: Not realistic but still believable storylines, a protagonist who is a fairly ordinary person but discovers or has incredible powers, innocent people being dragged into the conflicts, plot twists, exotic locations to further ‘spice up’ the film which are all techniques to keep the audience excited and interested.

The two films viewed in class which were Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Bourne Identity are classified and fit well into the Action Genre. The two films both share most of the common patterns and conventions of an action film and examples will be further provided in the following paragraphs.

Raiders of the Lost Ark was a film which was released in the 1980s period which was a big time for films especially action. The film features a college professor and archaeologist by the name of Indiana Jones who is forced to find the ‘Lost Ark’ before the Nazis and is forced to travel from locations such as Nepal all the way to Egypt. This Indiana Jones film follows almost all of the common action film traits. Raiders of the Lost Ark like most action films have fast paced chase scenes. Indiana Jones is a fairly ordinary person and a professor in a college but is able to pull of incredible feats of strength and succeed in seemingly impossible situations (one man versus the Nazis or hanging onto a moving truck and accomplishing feats which would be extremely difficult or dangerous in our modern world). In the film, towards the end of the movie, Indiana Jones is forced to climb onto a moving truck and try to wrench control from the original owners to try take back the Ark. This scene includes fast paced cuts and Indiana is even able to be thrown underneath the truck, climb out from the back and is even shot but he still survives. His former girlfriend who was originally not willing to help Indiana is also dragged into the action and is placed in many life threatening situations but she and the antagonists always come back in plot twists. A majority of the film is also set in Cairo which being in Egypt, not much was known about Egypt at the time so it seemed like a distant and exotic location, ideal for a fast paced action film. Raiders of the Lost Ark is also not short of unarmed and armed fights and in one the classical ‘tough bad guy’ appears and Indiana Jones is forced to use other methods to finish him.

Bourne Identity was a film which was released much later than the Indiana Jones film. Even though the film was released in 2002, it still follows all the conventions and patterns that Action Films follow. The plot is not exactly realistic but still believable such as the secret agency. It allows us to suspend our disbelief that an organization would actually do the things they do, or if they actually will. Jason Bourne who is a government agent and Marie who is a seemingly innocent person who is also pulled into the fray also find that there is much more to what first seems through plot twists and is also not short of car chase scenes and extended armed and unarmed fights. Bourne Identity also features exotic locations such as Zürich and France.

The protagonists and antagonists of action films usually also share similar traits. Protagonists in action films are usually able to perform tremendous feats of strength sometimes without themselves knowing they could. They tend to be able to survive situations where many would otherwise be unable to such as the protagonist Jason Bourne surviving being shot and thrown around in the ocean and Indiana Jones taking several beatings and almost run over but survives the ordeal. A protagonists’ main role is to keep the action moving and trying to not bore the audience by accomplishing such actions. They also tend to not come out on top from the start but eventually through luck or outsmarting their opponent, defeat them (Indiana Jones being able to outsmart a Nazi mechanic and after being almost beat, Indiana finishes off the mechanic. Antagonists however, are to pose as a hindrance and obstacle to the protagonist. Antagonists in action films tent to return from the dead many times or somehow always manage to keep the protagonist distracted from their original goal by forcing the protagonist to battle them. In Raiders, the antagonist can be the Nazis in general, the rival archaeologist or the German agent who tries to steal the vital medallion. All of these as a whole attempt to hold back Indiana’s original task of trying to find the Lost Ark. Although Indiana is able to accomplish his goal in the end, he encounters the antagonists many times which keep returning. In Bourne Identity however, the antagonist is primarily the CIA which sends its agents to eliminate Bourne. Jason’s objective is to discover his true identity and how he lost his memory but the CIA keeps attempting to finish off Jason for his earlier failure. In both films, the antagonists are fairly similar in their roles to slow down the goal of the protagonist. The protagonists however, have similar traits but in Raiders, Indiana is more of a classical ‘hero’ who has humour and is less complicated in his backstory. A character like Jason Bourne from Bourne Identity is more common in modern action films. He has a complicated backstory and he tends to be more serious and less willing to talk things over. Indiana propels the action forward through his personality and the situations he is thrown into. Jason propels the action forward through the mystery of this character and how he reacts to more realistic situations.

Both films fit into the Action Genre well but they still have many differences whilst both having the patterns of an action film. Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is more of a classic action film. It ‘spoon feeds’ information and the storyline follows a straightforward arc. The events are in chronological order and there are not many areas in the story where something is ambiguous (early scene with the government agents talking with Indiana, what the Ark is told to the audience directly. In Bourne Identity however, the plot assumes that you have prior knowledge of the environment and organisations. The Bourne film doesn’t spoon feed information and events are not necessarily in chronological order forcing you to think over what just happened in more detail such as the flash backs and why he has the traits he does such as his martial arts knowledge. Both films fit well into the Action Genre but still have their differences. Both are a unique in their own way and perfect representatives of an action film.

“The Flute family is made dysfunctional by the harsh rural landscape and time they live in.” – Jason Li

An analytical piece for the essay topic above.

Sonya Hartnett’s Thursday’s Child is set in the time period where the Great Depression was highly prominent. This time period in which money was scarce and employment was difficult to obtain along with the arid and exhausted plot of land in the outback the family is forced to live in have undoubtedly resulted in the Flute family becoming dysfunctional. Dysfunctional families are families which do not function well or as they should. A dysfunctional family can develop as a result of many reasons; stress and dependency on alcoholic beverages are just two reasons, both of which are demonstrated in the novel.

The time period of The Great Depression in which the Flute family lives in is a key factor in pushing the family into a state of dysfunction. Due to the low demand for workers, money was even scarcer and any opportunity for work would have been quickly accepted. This left those with wealth in great power over the general public. Devon who was the oldest son always wanted to purchase a pony despite the poor living conditions. When Vandery Cable visited and offered a labour intensive job to thirteen year old Devon, he “nodded eagerly, his dark eyes shining.” Despite the somewhat generous offer of an occupation, Devon at the age of thirteen has already begun to attempt adult tasks. Devon was given unsatisfactory training and soon sent back with no pay whatsoever after allowing two pigs to escape from his poorly constructed fences. Vandery cable was a wealthier individual and saw that Devon’s parents were away from him so no protection could have been provided. Cable had the opportunity to pay Devon but he chose not to and acted on his vulnerability and willingness to work given the difficult times. This further renders the family dysfunctional. The time of The Great Depression meant males as young as thirteen years old were forced to look for an occupation and those in power are able to manipulate those without it. Devon in this case was used for manual labour, given no payment in the end and would not have known what to do in such situation due to the fact of no proper role models around. This experience would stay with Devon for a prolonged period of time and due to an absence of role models, Devon’s learning curve was hampered greatly.

The Flute family’s despondent and arid plot of land given by the government is another of the defining features that result in the family becoming dysfunctional. The land is unfortunately depleted of its nutrients as the narrator Harper describes, “Our land’s exhausted,” which means farming is extremely difficult and farming successfully to be self-sufficient is even more of a challenge than what is already is This resulted in the Da and Devon being forced to trap rabbits for the food and attempt to sell them despite the countless other   people who also have rabbit pelts. Being unable to produce a sufficient and reliable income, all of the Flute family is greatly affected. As a direct result from the exhausted land in the rural landscape, the parents are left with no money to provide for basic needs. They are barely fed with killed rabbits, the children are forced to leave their schools to take up family work and basic necessities such as clothing are failed to be paid for which all result in a high stress level of the parents; a major reason in dysfunctional families forming.

As a direct outcome of the harsh landscape and the time of The Great Depression, the usual family dynamics were thrown off balance. Older children in the novel were forced to take up the roles of their parents. The environment around them turned the Flute family into one without proper role models and children forced to take up responsibility in order to survive.  The narrator Harper Flute herself states that she “understood that my mother and father were gone” and that “Audrey and Devon had become all I had.” Her parents were gone because of trauma caused from the landscape around them. Harper states that her parents were no longer the same and seemed like they had lost their physical presence after the shanty falls and the youngest daughter Caffy dies from falling into a well.

In Sonya Hartnett’s novel Thursday’s Child, the Flute family is made dysfunctional as direct consequences of exploitation of children, trouble sustaining basic needs and family dynamics becoming thrown off balance. The Flute family was left without role models, reasonable income and an inability to properly function. From the conditions of the landscape and difficult times the Flute family lives in, the family is no longer able to properly function.

Antonio’s Soliloquy – Jason Li

This is a short scene designed to go between William Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice act 1 and act 2.

Enter Bassanio, Antonio, Lorenzo and Gratiano

Antonio: My friends, by all means feel welcome,

Be seated and may the table be filled,

 

Gratiano: Ah, Cheered up have we,

Thy complexion grows fresh; the stale is no more,

With that same cheerfulness co-

 

Lorenzo: Yes, shall we feast now?

 

Antonio: We shall, tis a shame the Jew refused mine invitation,

For all should experience the livelihood of dinner.

30 minutes later

Gratiano: Many thanks Antonio, ne’re succumb to misery

We take our leave and return later

 

Bassanio: I have business with Antonio,

Fare ye well Gratiano, Lorenzo

Exeunt Gratiano, Lorenzo

 

Bassanio: Signor Antonio I pray thee, that foul animal,

He will doth much more.

 

Antonio:  Ha! Worry not. Bassanio, leave me to be,

For I need not sympathy.

 

Bassanio: As you please, ah! May I speak once more?

 

Antonio: Certainly friend.

 

Bassanio: I am grateful. The Jew mutters to himself,

He reeks of spite, time may be forgiving,

Speak to the Jew, I leave thee in peace.

Exeunt Bassanio

Antonio: I must ponder my misfortune with haste,

The mistake I have made is far too large.

The deed was not intended for myself,

Will my wealth ever return to mine hands?

The conflicts that may arise at sea,

Leaves me in a place of anxiety,

Bassanio, you will lead me to death,

The outcome that the future holds scares me.

My argosies must be swift and return,

To Venice. Or I will bear this Jew’s brunt.

Now, these Jewish dogs have mistreated me,

They have battered and bruised me to the bone,

They will have robbed me of my precious wealth,

We Christians have to bear the burden,

Of Jewish usury that deprives us,

He is my one and only enemy,

This Jew may take my flesh but not my faith,

I call him a dog and do so again,

Bassanio, thou hast disabl’d thy estate,

Now thou hast mine life thy hands,

For I was blind agreeing to the terms,

Of a deed that now threatens my life,

But what good are friends without hearts,

Whatever my dear friend Bassanio desires,

I shall be there to act his will,

My dear Bassanio, my dearest friend,

But thou hast sailed to fair Portia and Belmont,

I pray thee return to me, I hazard all I hath,

For thou love. Am I wrong?

Hast mine prayers been unheard?

Oh please bring light to my word,

My world in eternal darkness,

A world where you, Bassanio are the light.

 

Memories by Matthew Ung 9G

My earliest memories are parts of my life which are precious to me. I remember being a child, cradled in my mother’s arms. I could hear curtains ruffling softly. The curtains were off to the side and rays of light came beaming at me. I could see my mother, grasping at me, holding me tightly toward her chest. I remember my first memories of my mother. She looked as if she were an angel, covered in a shroud of light. I remember seeing her majestic face glowing with such radiance, it was as if I was gazing at the full moon. Her long black hair lay curled upon her shoulders. I remember my mother was brimming with youth and beauty. I recall on that day there lay a gentle smile on her face, a sight which I treasure for the rest of my life.

My mother places me gently into my crib an begins to walk away. I remember tears trickling down my face. I reached my hand out attempting to grab at my mother, only to grasp onto thin air. I watched as my mother’s shadow turns into nothingness. I hear the echoing of her footsteps turn into silence. Panicking, I jump out of my crib and crawl towards my mother. When I see her, I cry out, full of joy and happiness. I clutched onto her not letting go until I fell asleep. Now, I realise that my mother merely walked through the door toward the kitchen, which was the reason why I was unable to see or hear her.