Third Blog

TASK: Write a letter to Queen Victoria alerting her to the fact that her railway carriage does nothing to help the poorer classes love her as a queen.

To Her Majesty Queen Victoria,

I’m writing to you on behalf of the poorer classes of society, in response to your extravagant railway carriage. Your Majesty, parading your expensive carriage with its intricate designs and expensive furnishings is not the way to gain favour with the lower classes of society. I’m not sure whether you’re aware of the conditions they live in or the hardships they face on a daily basis, but Your Majesty, their conditions in life are appalling. If they are lucky enough to find work, it is usually incredibly dangerous work that leaves them at a great risk for injury, illness and even death and makes them work long, strenuous hours that takes time away from their families. That’s only if they are lucky enough to find work: most people don’t find it at all and are reduced to having to beg on the streets and they struggle to feed their families or maintain acceptable living quarters.

Your Majesty, with this in mind, can you, in good conscience, continue to flaunt your fine carriage in this way when there are many people in your charge who struggle on a daily basis and face challenges no one on Earth should have to endure? I imagine you’ve never worked a day in your privileged life, nor even ventured out beyond further than what London high society deems “appropriate” for a queen, but isn’t that all the more reason for you to see with your own eyes and judge for yourself just how poorly some people have it in life and perhaps make you realise that, just because you live in splendour and were raised in the lap of luxury, doesn’t mean everyone else enjoys the same luxuries as you.

Your Majesty, if you continue this way, I fear that rebellions and riots may erupt and disturb the peace England has been striving for, for so long. Queen Victoria, flaunting your finery is not the way to endear yourself to people, especially not the poorer rungs of society. Whether gaining their favour or not is a main concern of yours, I don’t know, but even I can guess that keeping EVERYONE happy, not just a select few, is more important when you are ruler of an Empire.

With my warmest and sincerest regards,

Felicity McManus

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The inside of Queen Victoria’s railway carriage. Image from: http://www.nrm.org.uk/planavisit/events/royal-carriages

First Peer Review

Biancah Nasr – https://biancahnasrblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/expostulation-and-reply/comment-page-1/#comment-37

“Hey Biancah,

Wow, I love this! I love how you explain the lessons that can be learned from nature and I really like how you do this with a very gentle and calm tone. I also really like how you focus on individual elements of nature (the trees, birds, ants, flowers, etc.) and explicitly state what these things can teach us and, again, you do it so wonderfully 🙂 Well done!”

Second Blog

TASK: It has been said about Jane Austen that she is basically trying to show her readers how they should live their lives. Do you agree with this statement?

To a certain extent, I think it could be said that Jane Austen is trying to show her readers how to live. I think it could be said that Austen tries to show her readers how to live mainly through her characters and how she humanises them. This is the particular case with Emma Woodhouse. Emma is known as “handsome, clever and rich” – everything you could ever want in a woman of the time, which makes her seemingly perfect at first glance. However, Emma amuses herself by playing matchmaker to the people of Highbury and her self-proclaimed “skill” in making successful matches has given her a sense of arrogance, which makes her think that she knows best in any given situation. This does not endear her to some people and they do everything they can to dissuade her from her matchmaking hobby (her father and Mr. Knightley are among those who try to stop Emma). This makes Emma an imperfect character, reminding the reader that she is human and is flawed, like everyone else in the world.

This, along with Emma’s declaration that she will never marry, is her tragic flaw – her blindness to her actions and the consequences it can lead to. While trying to make a match for her new protégée, Harriet, Emma fails to see that Harriet’s attentions lie elsewhere and she also fails to realise Mr. Knightley’s true feelings for her. The events of Box Hill rattle Emma, ground her and lead her to realise Newton’s third law of gravity: that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. By introducing Emma as an imperfect, flawed protagonist, Austen may have a didactic purpose in trying to show her readers how to live, by writing that you can be beautiful, smart and rich, like Emma, but that’s not all to life: selflessness and consideration for others is equally, if not more, important and that is what leads to true happiness.

Contrariwise, Austen could simply be writing a novel for simply enjoyable purposes and people have interpreted Emma, or any of Austen’s novels, in a way that leads them to believe that Austen has an ulterior motive: a didactic purpose in showing people how to live their lives!

 

First Blog

TASK: In your own words briefly say how the ideas in “Expostulation & Reply” & “The Tables Turned” have helped you to understand Romanticism.

The central idea in Expostulation and Reply and The Tables Turned is that there is more to life than books and that the natural world can teach us more than books ever could. In Expostulation and Reply, Wordsworth is bid by his friend Matthew to take up his books and begin reading again to improve his mind and Wordsworth replies that he shall not, because of all the wonder and awe his natural surroundings provide him. In The Tables Turned, Wordsworth continues to persuade Matthew to put his books away and join him in wonderment at the natural world.

The main theme of Romanticism is that nature and the environment can inspire creativity and individuality better than any book or teacher can (“Nor less I deem that there are Powers… that we can feed this mind of ours in a wise passiveness” – Expostulation and Reply). These two poems have definitely helped me understand Romanticism through the motif of nature, especially The Tables Turned. Wordsworth’s language in this poem paints the scene of a lush environment (“the sun… a freshening lustre yellow, through all the long green fields has spread…”) and it sounds so appealing that you can’t help but want to spend time outside to just simply be in nature, without any other worries. The lines of “Come forth into the light of things, let Nature be your teacher” and “Enough of Science and Art; Close up those barren leaves…” quite effectively encapsulate the Romantics’ feelings of the time – that of simply being in and appreciating nature and all the wisdom and knowledge it can offer us with its beauty, as opposed to the boring pages of a book that just offer printed words.