Literature

Consider the treatment in one text of one or more of the Seven Deadly Sins

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(776 Words)

As knowledge seekers, many people will strive harder or try appropriate means to achieve their goal for further knowledge to the extent that bridges onto excessiveness that reflects one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Doctor Faustus is this seeker of knowledge who wants to find out more than is suitable and appropriate for him to know. Faustus is a disdainer who gets a scorner’s comeuppance. He commits a mortal sin and goes to hell for it.

Dr Faustus deals with the ambition of the Renaissance to cultivate an ‘aspiring mind’. The Renaissance as a time of intense, all-encompassing infinite knowledge is embodied in Faustus. However, he shows little discrimination in his pursuits. He delights, for example, in the Seven Deadly Sins, ironically remarking ‘O thus feeds my soul’.  Throughout the twenty-four years, he seeks experience of all kinds in the true Renaissance manner; however, instead of freedom, his knowledge brings him despair.

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‘Fat’ by Raymond Carver

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(1114 words)

It’s Christmas again and a time when too much is eaten; an apt moment maybe to read Fat’ by Raymond Carver. This is a story about an individual who enters a restaurant to have some food. The protagonist of this story works as a waitress, she recounts to her colleague what happened the previous night. From this unnamed women’s point of view, she tells how an oversized man enters and eats at ‘her station’. This individual indulges. It is obvious that the customer is self-conscious about his size, and how people see him. The waitress is kind and very polite to him, but there is an underlying fascination. Carver’s story highlights how some people have a readiness to look at people with perceived flaws as a way of making themselves feel better but also how others can see the real person and empathise. Sadly, this is not seen in the waitress’s partner.

“He is the fattest man she had ever seen”, initially the waitress seems to be mocking the customer already. People’s first impressions are often rude. However, she contrasts this immediately with positive factors of his neat appearance and how well he is dressed. The customer is already labelled like many in society because of their weight even if they are respectable people. The customer in the story comes through the restaurant door and sits at a table. He is being watched all the way to his seat while as he sits at the table minute details are noticed with his fingers: “three times the size of a normal person’s”. The reader envisages the waitress has never seen a large person before. Would she do this to any other person or does his fatness embrace her curiosity? ‘Good evening’, she says, he replies courteously enough with a “little puffing sound every so often“. The reader recognises that she is still figuring this man out despite the fact it may be indicative of his weight. Despite the now obvious acknowledgment of the man’s weight, the waitress still recounts her story to her colleague with “Rita, he was big, I mean real big’.

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So, how does creative and continuous writing start?

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(507 words)

I am reading this great book called Teacher written by Sylvia Ashton-Warner which highlights her teaching of Moari kids in New Zealand in the 1960s. The facts are, how do you teach kids who have different upbringings and only know one way of life? You teach them ‘organic teaching’. You bring their inner feelings and stories to the fore. I hope this passage below gives you an insight into how a teacher can get too attached to lesson plans and teaching books while forgetting the reality of the classroom with the students and their own history.

I hope this passage below gives you an insight into how a teacher can get too attached to lesson plans and teaching books while forgetting the reality of the classroom with the students and their own history. I feel this can be very inspirational to teachers.

The passage starts with Sylvia getting the students to write……Yet there are times when one cannot start. He’s just plain not in the mood. You can’t always say an important thing because it is the time to say it. Sometimes he will say candidly, “I don’t want to write,” and that’s just what you get him to write: “I don’t want to write”. From there you ask, “Why?” and here comes an account of some grievance or objection which, after all, just as well as any other idea, delivers his mind of what is on it, practices his composition, and wraps him up in what is of interest to himself. You never want to say that it’s good or bad. That’s got nothing to do with it. You’ve got no right at all to criticise the content of another’s mind. A child doesn’t make his own mind. It’s just there. Your job is to see what’s in it. Your allowable comment is one of natural interest in what he is writing. As in conversation. And I never mark their books in any way; never cross out anything beyond helping them to rub out a mistake, never put a tick or a stamp on it and never complain about bad writing. Do we complain about a friend’s writing in a story-felt letter?

The attention is on the content. What I feel about their work has nothing to do with it. The thing is for them to write what is on their minds and if they do or do not accomplish that, it is you who are good or bad. From the teacher’s end, it boils down to whether or not she is a good conversationalist; whether or not she has the gift or the wisdom to listen to another; the ability to draw out and preserve that other’s line of thought. Which refers to the nature of the teacher. The best juniors I had on this work were the modest, self-effacing kind, while the worst of them was a very clever girl who was an insatiable talker and who in her personal life talked everyone else to pieces on the subject of herself (Ashton-Warner, 1963: 58).

On what basis can or should we treat a text a canonical? Discuss with reference to two texts

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(Words 1207)

The treatment of a text considered canonical can take so many individual forms where it can be appraised as life-enhancing. It is a text that reaches thoughts that the reader could never imagine. It should have a value that makes it human for our understanding although always easily accessible to a modern reader. For a contemporary reader, Dante’s ‘The Inferno and Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ are two books of immense structure and plot that take the reader on a journey into another world. They rank as canonical and can be treated that way.

A canonical story must have structure, contrasts and literary devices that help to develop and inform the text’s major themes and motifs. One of Dante’s major motifs was political arguments. He lived through a political nightmare that was Italy. The reader sees how these issues Dante uses in his epic poem to condemn political figures by scattering them through the circles of hell. He gives them their just retribution. The poem speaks for him. Dante takes the subject matter of these events and put them before they happened. He extrudes a powerful message in his language, his personnel political belief that church and state should exist as separate powers on earth is a courageous task. For good measure, he also throws in ancient literary figures as such referring to classical writers as Homer, Ovid, and Virgil. Dante’s poem is an overarching allegory; it explores its themes using dozens, even hundreds of symbols, with the most important factor being the punishment of sinners.  The Inferno as a canonical epic refers to the quality of the poem, which creates and has in some way an exploring or celebrating something more substantial than the particular characters and places it describes. We find Dante’s fundamental idea of creating an imaginative correspondence between a soul’s sin on earth and the punishment it receives on earth. Dante’s complexity has created a universe.

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Political and Philosophical theories place too heavy a burden upon a writer. The inevitable result seems to be texts that are didactic and polemical, rather than imaginative and creative. Discuss any one text, which you believe disproves this assertion.

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(706 Words)

Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe can be said to be a didactic text that details the death of the main character; the time leading up to that point and what becomes of his soul. It teaches us about his condemnation, not his salvation. However, contrary to this to disprove this assertion, Dr. Faustus is not just a didactic play. It is a play about Man pushing himself further, trying to have an intoxicating time and dream. He is a man that has been given three wishes and could be said to have found a genie in a bottle. What would the reader do with the wishes/genie? How would the reader strive for more than what they have got? Having the desire to have three wishes or to find a genie in a bottle is found in any person that allows not only them to be imaginative and creative but also the author.

Dr. Faustus wishes for many things and finds his genie in Mephistopheles. Dr. Faustus makes use of his newfound chances. He is a man who is a knowledge seeker. He wants to find out more than is good for him to know. This can not be wrong as a man who wants more than he has been offered. He does not want to plod along in life.  He wants to eat, drink, and be merry. It is no accident that he compares himself to Colossus (IV, VII). Faustus is a scholar, books are his trade, philosophy his strength. Dr. Faustus begins by reading about the Greeks, Aristotle and ends up desiring Helen of Troy. His reading also contains maps that show Faustus exotic lands with their promise of new sensations. His study of classical authors has to be commendable as they are immense stories of biblical status. 

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