English Literature Exam Essays
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Essay 1 Each of the two passages below presents a judgment of a parent by a child. Compare and contrast the passages in terms of : 1) the kind and severity of the judgements and what they reveal about the social and personal beliefs of Elizabeth and Arkady 2) the narrative techniques of 'showing' and 'telling' employed in each passage and their effectiveness. ( 1500 words) Pride and Prejudice satires early nineteenth century English social institutions. Elizabeth Bennet is Jane Austen's satirical tool as she explores class, feminism and love in the country estates of rural England. In Austen's society, women's social and economic circumstances are defined by their fathers and eventually their husbands. For the Bennet sisters marriage is more than a means of economic support, it is a source of upward mobility. Elizabeth's turning down two marriage proposals shows that she is an independent character. With her quick wit and loose tongue, Elizabeth rejects the patriarchal society defined by Chris Weedon and does away with the sexual mores of her time. Austen's other female characters embody Hannah More's view on how women should act; they serve as foils for Elizabeth's "very different mode of femininity."Austen's feminist hero challenges the ideals of prudence, decorum, propriety and social responsibility with Mary Wollstencraft's ideals of self-expression, spontaneity and personal fulfillment. Chris Weedon's patriarchal society defines the circumstances under which Pride and Prejudice takes place. Weedon defines patriarchal as the "power relations in which women's interests are subordinated to the interests of men. These power relations take the form of... internalized norms of femininity." These internalized norms of femininity are nowhere more prevalent than in Pride and Prejudice. Mary Bennet, Lady Catherine De Bourgh and Charlotte Lucas personify Hannah More's typically passive, refined woman. More contends that women's happiness is dependent on restraint and submission and that women must not "[depart] from the refinement of their character" or "[blemish] the delicacy of their sex."
Most Western middle-class children have mothers as primary caregivers. Most of these mothers converse with their children in a particular way: they adapt their conversation to the child's competencies and needs, and they make frequent attempts to solicit the child's active participation in conversation from a very early age. They are able to do this well because they know so much about their individual child's knowledge, experiences, and language practices, and because they are highly motivated to engage their child in interaction and to show off her/his particular skills. This style has been shown to be conducive to the child's acquisition of a number of important linguistic skills. With this high level of knowledge and motivation, mothers are also likely on many occasions to anticipate their child's needs before they are linguistically expressed, to fill in gaps in incomplete or poorly expressed child utterances, and to preempt the child's participation in talking about a difficult topic. This maternal style may therefore not be as conducive to the child's acquisition of some other types of communicative skills. ( Mercer & Swann, p 38) Social Natural languages are constructed so that they do not depend on an extensive amount of shared knowledge or experience of particular events. But as Language is a set of social conventions designed to facilitate communication with other people who have acquired the same linguistic conventions, whenever and wherever they have done so young children brought in the maternal style may have a problem. As they are learning to communicate and acquiring language as a means of communication all at the same time new communicative partners are constantly presenting them with new challenges that require them either to deploy their existing communicative skills in new ways, or else to acquire new skills that will help them to meet these challenges effectively. ( Mercer & Swann, p 39) Therefore, children need to communicate with other people, even those with whom they share few or no common experiences in language learning.
She has 'vowed' to defend the rights of women ' to the last drop of my blood'. She has separated from her husband and plans to go abroad to study in Paris and Heidelberg ( p81). The description of her person and household repeats some of the stereotyping of radical women found in most conservative writing. She is dirty and sloppy in her habits and person but what is most important is her declaration 'I'm free, I've no children' (p81). From a conservative perspective, this would be a death sentence for her. Another example is Odintosova who was educated in St Petersburg at the centre of new thinking, her 'reprobate' father treating her as a friend and equal, which suggests that she has acquired little sense of the value of traditional authority. Like Kukshina, she engages in intellectual debates with men and more significantly she shares Bazarov's nihilism. Finally, Turgenev talking about his writing and about Fathers and Sons insisted that 'to reproduce the truth, the reality of life accurately and powerfully, is the literary man's highest joy, even if that truth does not correspond to his own sympathies' ( Apropos of Fathers and Sons, in Fathers and Sons, 1989 edn, p 171). Turgenev's aim to reproduce the truth may be regarded as fulfilled in Fathers and Sons. The novel divided critical opinion, and in particular the figure of Bazarov did so in a way that no fictional character in Russian literature has done before. The book act as a lightning conductor for all pent up political energies that began to circulate once Alexander II's social reforms were under way. Young radical progressives, whose spirit Turgenev has sought to capture accused him of travestying their zealotry in his portrayal of the sensual Bazarov. Conservative critics found Turgenev too sympathetic to the forces of revolution in making his nihilist hero superior to the other characters in the novel. These reactions illustrate both how powerful and problematical a self-proclaimed realist text can be in the Russian political climate. ( Walder,D. 1995, The Realist Novel, p 177).
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