Sixth Blog

TASK: You are the scholar gypsy. Explain to your friends why you have decided to run away from conventional education.

My friends,

Forgive me for repeating such a cliché, but I have run away. Away from this life, away from its responsibilities and the calamity that is swiftly approaching. The calamity I refer to is mundaneness. Boredom. A sense of being overwhelmed, and not in a pleasant way. The world is changing, the world we once knew it as is quickly fading away into the distance and I do not intend on simply accepting that my world, and what I enjoy most in life, will soon be no more and that there is nothing I can do to preserve whatever I can of it. Thus, I’ve run away. This new world has too many tasks, too many distractions, too little humour and not nearly enough delight and fun.

Convention taught me how to behave, how to conduct myself and how to live my life in a way that only society, and people who don’t even know I exist, deem fit and appropriate. Well, to hell with convention. I have beliefs, wishes and dreams too and I am also a human being with feelings and emotions, just like anyone else and how can I say that I am living a full life, when in fact I am not? That I’m living the life I’ve always wanted, when I’m not? That I’m achieving all my dreams, hopes and happiness, when I know I’m not? I can’t do it any longer and I’ll not be denied my true happiness any longer; so I’ve run away, disappeared, to live my life the way I choose it, not how someone else chooses it. I’ve tried to fit in with convention and play the part of an ideal, proper working citizen who goes mad at the end of every day with the enormity of all they have to do and is so overwhelmed that they can’t focus on anything, just because there is so much to do! But I can’t do it any longer, and so I must bid you farewell.

I wish you all every happiness and good wish for the future. I also wish you all the courage and fortitude you can muster; I think you’re going to need it if you’re to survive in this new world! Unless, of course, you choose to follow my course of action and run away with me?

Fondest regards and warmest wishes, my friends,

Felicity

the scholar gypsy - matthew arnold

“The Scholar Gypsy” (1853), by Matthew Arnold. Image from: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Scholar-Gypsy-Phoenix-60p-paperbacks/dp/1857996542

Fourth Peer Review

Danielle Gatt – https://daniellegattlit.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/adventure-into-the-gallery/comment-page-1/#comment-11

“Hi Danielle,

I did this question for my blog this week too and I’m really intrigued by the paintings you chose. I love your interpretation of “Cymon and Iphigenia” – the idea that there could be two purposes to the painting is a really interesting concept and I love the notion of the sun in the background as a chance for redemption and second chances. I think your interpretation of “The Widower” is spot on and effectively explains the injustice the poor faced in the 19th century and how unfair life can be, even when you give it all you’ve got and get nothing in return. What a wonderful job you’ve done! 🙂

Fifth Blog

TASK: Write a short summary of your gallery visit today. Mention 2 or 3 of the paintings that most appealed to you and why.

My visit to the NSW Art Gallery this week was one of great interest and also reluctance. Reluctance because I was wondering why we were going to look at art, when we were literature students? While at the gallery, the answer hit me like a bolt of lightning. The answer was because, like languages, most aspects between subjects, like art and English, can be translated and recognised in each other. Once I had this realisation, I had an innate desire and curiosity to study these paintings further and see what I could find for myself. Two, in particular, struck me.

“Chaucer at the Court of Edward III” by Ford Madox Brown (1847) was one painting that struck me. I thought this was a lovely painting, not just because of the bright and vibrant colours, but because of the celebration of the English language. The painting depicts a variety of people at court, who are all engaged in conversation of some kind with each other. Everyone seems to have something to say and they seem to have an interest in what’s going on; they are all paying attention to each other and giving them their undivided attention – something rare nowadays, what with the various distractions technology provides.

chaucer at the court of edward iii

“Chaucer at the Court of Edward III” (1847). Image from: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/703/

The other that struck a chord with me was “A Young Lady Holding a Pug Dog” by Francis Boucher (c. 1740s). This is a painting from the Enlightenment period and it makes clear to me why people wanted a Revolution and wanted change in society. The girl in the painting is portrayed in an uptight, uncomfortable position with a rigid back and wearing extravagant, pretentious clothes. This makes the painting seem forced and a lot less natural, unlike paintings of the Romantic era, where people seemed to be captured in the moment, like “Chaucer at the Court of Edward III”. The pug the girl is holding has a ribbon around its neck – perhaps representing the oppression the lower classes were placed under by the upper class and how the upper class thought themselves so superior because of their refined and restrained manners. It represents the hold the aristocracy held on everyone, even animals like the dog. The rigidity and tyranny of the upper class, represented in this painting, makes it obvious to me why people were keen for a Revolution at the time and, while the methods and what happened during the Revolution is a sad thought, it makes me feel better about the 21st century world that we don’t have those kind of social barriers.

a young lady holding a pug dog

“A Young Lady Holding a Pug Dog” (1740s). Image from: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/118.1992/

 

Third Peer Review

Nicole Walsh – https://nicolewalshblog.wordpress.com/2017/04/10/blog-post-4-week-6/comment-page-1/#comment-12

“Hi Nicole,
I really like your blog this week, it has a strong and emphatic voice that effectively conveys the message that you don’t approve of the arrangements Mr Gradgrind is making for his daughter. The rhetorical questions also help to drive home your argument about Mr Gradgrind not considering his daughter’s feelings. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, well done! 🙂

Fourth Blog

TASK: Write a letter to Mr Gradgrind telling him what you think about the way he treated his own daughter, particularly with reference to the marriage arrangements he has created.

I’m writing to you to express my extreme distaste at your arrangements for your daughter, Louisa’s, marriage. I understand you to think yourself as a man of education, facts and rationality when, in fact, sir, I think you to be unfeeling and cold-hearted, who relies far too much on cold hard facts and statistics and not nearly enough on emotion. Marriage is supposed to be based on affection, trust and respect, and yet you condemn your own daughter to a loveless marriage to an older man. You provide Louisa with statistics and cite them as reason to proceed with the marriage, saying that the statistics are enough to go on to ensure her happiness in this marriage. Emotions, especially love, are rarely rational or logical but neither rationality or logic really have a place in relationships, let alone something such as marriage.

Raising your daughter to believe in only rock-solid facts and evidence and to not put stock into any emotions is hardly the way to raise children, sir. Teaching her that emotions have no meaning and that imagination and creativity will only hold you back in life, that they get in the way of the truth, is detrimental to a child’s development, sir. Telling her to be “dispassionate”, as you so often tell Louisa to be, only leads to a miserable life and a miserable life is one without meaning, hardly worth living.

Sir, I seriously advise you to rethink your arrangements for Louisa’s marriage, as well as your parenting techniques and your own outlook on life. Mr. Gradgrind, facts are not the way to govern your life and they are not something to raise your children by.

Sincerely,

Felicity McManus

Second Peer Review

Annabelle Barns-Licha – https://annabellebarnslicha.wordpress.com/2017/03/31/blog-three-charles-dickens/comment-page-1/#comment-78

“Hey Annabelle,
What a lovely, poignant paragraph. Your use of language is so simplistic yet so descriptive and you describe the heart of the city so perfectly. Your sentences are short but effective, your tone is gentle and calm and I love how you describe all the different people you come across in Sydney. Well done!!”