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!!”

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

station-hall-extra5

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.

Summative Entry

What insights has your study of Australian Literature and Art given you into the importance of creativity as part of human experience?

This was the focus of this semester’s work in Australian Literature and my studies this semester have given me an insight into the history that Australia has undergone over the past couple of centuries, beginning with the Indigenous Australians and ending with the views of contemporary Australian authors and poets. This wide scope of literature has given me an understanding into how Australia has changed and evolved overtime and has also given me the unique opportunity to experience this through a range of perspectives.

Kim Scott’s novel, That Deadman Dance, and Australian poets, like Judith Wright and Lisa Bellear, have given me a window into what it was like for the Indigenous Australians and the colonial settlers when the Europeans first arrived in Australia. These authors gave an incredible insight into the amazing connection that the Indigenous people shared with the land and how they treated it as if it were sacred, while the European settlers came barging in and claiming it as their own, seeing it only for their own utilitarian uses. I also saw through Judith Wright and Lisa Bellear the rocky relationship between the settlers and the Indigenous people and how keenly both sides felt this relationship and how it affected them both – these works gave off a sense of a loss of identity and a sense of isolation, especially for the children and young people involved.

The artworks seen at the Art Gallery of NSW also showed a broad range of perspectives on the land. The paintings at the Gallery came from various times in history and depicted many aspects of the land – a lot of these paintings showed the utilitarian side of the land, similar to what was reflected in the works previously mentioned – but many also portrayed the beauty and majesty of the land, very ably demonstrating the singular connection between the land and the Indigenous people and looking at these incredible paintings, it was so easy to understand how protective they were of their land because of the vast beauty of it.

Later works of Australian authors and poets reflected the changing times and attitudes that were experienced as history progressed. Most recently, I read and studied Les Murray’s poem “The Cool Green”, which was deeply associated with money. I found it astonishing how humans could’ve changed so much over the span of a couple of centuries. The utilitarian interest in the land is still there, yes, but the initial greediness with which we approached the land is still very much there and has expanded into other aspects of life; for instance, our everyday life. We just want more and more now, living simply like the Indigenous Australians did wasn’t enough and so, once we exploited the land, we moved on to exploit our own culture and almost corrupt ourselves through greed and let money consume us, as Les Murray’s poem so aptly describes.

The importance of creativity as part of human experience is incredible and my studies have shown me this over the past semester. Creativity allows us to write down and share our thoughts and emotions in a unique way and these blogs and writings have enabled me to do so and the authors’ and poets’ creativity has allowed me to see Australian literature, art and history in a new and very interesting light. It has also shown me human experiences throughout time, starting with the initial rocky relationship between the white European settlers and the Indigenous Australians, then ending with the contemporary perspectives of modern Australians, showing me how much experiences can change and affect us in different ways.

LINKS TO MY BLOGS:

Best Creative Blog: https://felicitymcmanus.wordpress.com/category/oz-lit/best-creative-blog/

Best Critical Blog: https://felicitymcmanus.wordpress.com/category/oz-lit/best-critical-blog/

Peer Reviews: https://felicitymcmanus.wordpress.com/category/oz-lit/peer-reviews/

Summative Entry: https://felicitymcmanus.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/summative-entry/