Rachel Kirkpatrick

Rachel’s Blog

Hi Rachel,

Firstly I want to thank you for using such a candid and authentic voice in your blog. At times I find it difficult to include my personal experience whilst remaining academic but you provided a scaffold for me to do so. I really could grasps a sense of your awe at the works of Shakespeare, and the time each page held in their folds.

I do have some suggestions that might enhance your writing:

– The minimum word length for a blog is 200 words, and whilst you did explain your emotional response to the state library, I suggest using the remainder of your word count to provide some examples of his work.

-As an expansion on my previous comment, I think your overall presence of your blog would be enhanced with a few pictures of the State Library and an explanation of why you found those particular works to be so influential on you.

-Personally, and this might just be for me, I think that this sentence should not be grammatically structured as it is: (I mean, why do we need to study 87 different Shakespeare texts in high school??). Whilst the blogs are personal, I feel like you could use this really great point and make it a profound critical statement. By perhaps adjusting it to something like, A constant struggle for many students, particularly myself, is finding the relevance on why Shakespeare is such a pivotal artist for us to continually study.

Thanks for your great work and cannot wait to see what you produce next!

Ally

What is Unspoken

Write a short review of the production features of the first half of Kenneth Branagh’s production of The Winter’s Tale.

Kenneth Branagh’s production of The Winter’s Tale is embedded with such enriching symbolism, motifs and metaphors that even without the lines of Shakespeare, the audience is privileged with an insight to Shakespeare work. Branagh’s artistic choices in the production brought to life the core issues at the forefront of Shakespeare’s work, surrounding the power of human emotions driving humanity to extremities. The sound, costume design and technological choices depict the transition from an innocence of emotion, to the emotions that corrupt the human soul.

The performance begins with the sound of a charming music box, chiming ever so peacefully. Before the performance begins, the audience listens to the lullaby of the music box that eventually slows to a halt of sound. The sound of the music box may symbolically represent the purity of childhood innocence, and freedom from corrupt emotions that Shakespeare uses to contrast the immense intrusion of jealousy or hatred,

We were as twinned lambs that did frisk i’the’sun {…} What we changed/ Was innocence for innocence”.

William Shakespeare, The Winters Tale.

Branagh’s masterfully invokes these lines to life on stage with his choice of musical symbolism of childhood innocence. For just as Shakespeare describes the friendships of Polixenes and Leontes through imagery of pure lambs, playing freely in the sun sharing their innocence, so too does Branagh place the purity of love in this friendship at the forefront of the audience mind.

The notion of innocence and purity of love and friendship is developed further in specific costume and set design choices made by Branagh. The music box sound leads onto the ever so tranquil voice of a women singing in a pure white dress, overlooking a child and women speaking next to a Christmas tree. The child says,

A sad tale is best for winter

William Shakespeare

These few moments are arguable infused with such enriching symbolism and metaphors that en-capture the core argument of Shakespeare’s, The Winter’s Tale, that one could write an essay on it. The reoccurring symbolism of childhood innocence, that is eventually corrupted in the following scenes of the performance, is expressed in the pure white symbol of the women singing, and the set design inclusion of the Christmas Tree. The Christmas Tree metaphorically connects to how Christmas is associated with both family dimensions and harmony. Thus, within the first few moments of the performance the audience is privileged to the lines, “[w]e were as twinned lambs that did frisk i’the’sun {…} What we changed/ Was innocence for innocence,” coming to life.

Yet, the production choice to have the child state “a sad tale is best for winter”, as part of the opening lines of the performance provides more complexity to this theatrical enactment. The significance of the title “The Winter’s Tale”, alongside with this pivotal line and Branagh’s setting the performance in the season of Winter confronts the audience with an unavoidable metaphor. This metaphor underlines a time of celebration with a dark under current, with a season that embodies the death of nature. Perhaps, this choice metaphorically connects on a broader sense to the transformation to childhood harmony, towards the corruption of adulthood as it unfolds in the play.

This transformation is brilliantly conveyed in the third musical transformation in the opening scene that overpowers the tranquil voice of the lone actor, with grand trumpets and an outburst of actors on stage. The technological inclusion of a projector filming the childhood journey of the main characters, then reveals Hermonie, Polixenes and Leontes behind it.

At this moment, the stage is transformed with energy, vibrancy and the undeniable presence of adults on stage. This is significant, because at this exact transformation Branagh captures the transition from harmless friendship, to more corrupt or complex adult connections. Suddenly, the peaceful and majestic actions of the childhood and singer on stage is overpowered by grand gestures of the adults. Perhaps, in this exact moment before dialogue is had between the actors, Branagh foreshadows the change of relationships between characters on stage.

The production choices of Branagh that bring Shakespeare to life is not merely the well executed lines spoken by characters, but more imperatively, it is within what is unspoken that metaphorically en-captures Shakespeare’s message.

Annie Devine

Hey Annie,

Thank you for such a creative and relevant piece!

You have made me really question the false and superficial idols in my own life that holds my mind captive. I sense that this piece was influenced greatly by Shakespeare’s poem, “Poor soul, the centre of my sinful earth”. Your creative text really enhanced my understanding of this poem as it contextualised what Shakespeare was saying to a modern time . Individuals can be so caught up amongst the chaos and addictiveness of attention and social media that their own souls are being destroyed.


You crafted this text in a similar style to how Ophelia was represented beautifully. What particularly resonated with me was the use of pauses, commas, truncated sentences and ellipsis in the first sentences. “It spreads fear faster than any disease could kill. The media, creating panic and hysteria and a shortage of toilet paper… of all things”. This technique drew me in as a reader into the chaotic mindset of Ophelia. In your opening sentences, I could truly feel her anguish and despair at the state of her current world.


I really loved how you connected the calamities Australia as a nation has been experiencing in the lines, “Oh fire, Oh floods, Oh disease what’s next”. The sense of paranoia of what is to come is truthfully present in our country moving from bush fires to floods to the lock downs. Your words have provided me some comfort in this chaotic time to understand that many people are experiencing the fear of the unknown. I feel like Ophelia in this modern world of ours would be destroyed by the state of nature, and you have conveyed this wonderfully.

Just some few things to fix:

  • Remove the comma behind the full stop in this sentence: I pick up my phone as I walk past the homeless, my naked eye filtering out the destruction of our lands.,
  • Place a question mark at the end of this sentence as you are asking a question: Is it you god, punishing us for our sins, bringing us to our knees for believing in our false gods.
  • “We have become a world where immorality defines how popular you are, where we fight so hard to stay relevant in a constantly changing world”. You may wish to replace the full stop with a comma here. Personally, I believe that the comma is not needed, and the use of the full stop will make this powerful statement stand out even further.
  • Check the spelling of sheppards= shepherds

Looking forward to what you are writing next,

Alexandra.

The Eternal Presence

How has your love of Shakespeare been enhanced by Ben Jonson’s poem, To the Memory of My Beloved, The Author, Mr. William Shakespeare, and What He Hath Left Us?

The power in the sincere language that Jonson uses to not only celebrate the life of Shakespeare, but to exalt his influence in our world resonated with me. Jonson was a rival to Shakespeare and yet this tribute is infused with such timeless metaphors and enriching imagery that any reader may move away feeling as if Shakespeare was their own, “Beloved”. I personally moved away from this poem with an enlightened and renewed love for Shakespeare, his works and his hold on the imagination of our world.

What Does Your Favorite Shakespeare Play Say About You? - Electric ...
William Shakespeare’s Eternal Presence

The entirety of this poem is a masterpiece as each line is intricately crafted to sharpen the readers understanding of Shakespeare. It was lines 75-80 that ignited a renewed passion for Shakespeare and his creative works:

But stay; I see thee in the hemisphere

Advanced and made a constellation there!

Shine forth, thou stars of poets, and with rage

Or influence chide or cheer the drooping stage,

Which, since thy flight from hence, hath mourned like night,

And despairs day, but for thy volume light

The imagery of the universe is reinforced in the diction of “hemisphere”, “constellation” or “stars,” and identifies Shakespeare with a mystical and mysterious quality. The footnote in the Norton Anthology of English Literature states that Demigods, at their death, were often exalted to a place amongst the stars. Connecting the imagery of Shakespeare crowned amongst the stars deepened my understanding of the infinite influence of his works on society, and how his heavenly and constant presence consistently enlightens the unconscious mind to human experiences.

Shakespeare in the Night Sky

Jonson does not merely celebrate the eternal impact of Shakespeare but honours the remarkable hard work of his art, “with rage/or influence chide or cheer the drooping stage”.  The diction of “rage” and “influence” are used comparatively for a significant purpose. Rage may suggest in this context the burning and uncontrollable flame of Shakespeare’s creativity that sets ablaze the ignorance of humanity. Whilst influence suggest a more mellow, ordinary reflection of the self that Shakespeare allows for in his works. Regardless of the difference, both qualities of Shakespeare’s art maintain the power to uplift and ignite life and passion into the otherwise drooping or dull stage.

I understood from this poem that for one to truly ponder the works of Shakespeare, their entire life’s journey may be enriched to a new level of consciousness of world. The juxtaposition between “thy volume’s light”, led me to this conclusion. On a more literal level, volume may refer to the folio of Shakespeare’s works put together by his friends. Whilst more metaphorically, the immensity of the works, the richness of language and morals have the power to “light” up an individual understanding of themselves. Moreover, the weightiness of Shakespeare’s works is filled with such imperative lessons that the heaviness of the mortal life may be lifted and life’s journey to the reader of Shakespeare may be lighter.

To you, with love-Ophelia

Write a prose soliloquy in which you are either Hamlet or Ophelia commenting on the world around you in 2020.

The entirety of a women’s life in this contemporary world is at odds; with herself, her lover and her duty. It is as if she presents two bouquets at the altar. The first, a highly constructed and carefully manufactured bouquet of ever-glowing, silvery lined Gardenia’s. There is an assortment of Daisies, that outreach their limbs, fighting over the attention of the bride’s original master. The father, her original master, is pleased with this reminder of his sweet child’s innocence and purity that is held in this bouquet. Beaming at the altar, like the way Daisy’s beam towards the sun, stands his daughter who is the epitome of his hope and investment. 

But there! There, o’ there lies her eager Groom. The clouds veil the penetration of the sun rays as his eyes follow up her laced gown to the second, more daring bouquet. The dripping scarlet hues of the roses fall within the bouquet, like the blood of a sacrificial lamb. The carnations bow their head, promising drunken pleasure to the groom as they display their wine-like colour at the altar. The Bride stands as an object who is ready to obey.

Obey, obey

 If the Bride obeys as I had done to both my masters, her lungs will be ignited by the rush of her last breath. The lungs, the fertilisers for her sweet life are imploded with droplets of anguish. Her heart will pound with the tsunami of obedience towards what her masters seek from her. The women that allow for submissiveness to overflow the desires of their hearts secure a fate for themselves. If you sacrifice your truest self for obedience, your garments will float on the riverbanks and your aspirations will seep into the soil of the earth.

A master, however, in this world is not merely as clearly divided as I experienced in my lifetime. 

The master for you, dear men and women, gleam from the rays of your devices. These rays hypnotise you into a sense of conformity to what Instagram or Facebook begs of you to show. 

The master for you, dear men and women, is the demanding Soldier of your workplace ordering you to do overtime whilst your sweet child sings themselves to sleep with a lullaby. 

The master for you, dear men and women, is each minute decision made that removes you from your truest self.

The stream of opportunity will flow for the one who triumphs over the masters in this world. 

For whoever throws their bouquets of obedience over their head, will celebrate the unity between themselves and their souls at the altar. 

Visionary Influence

I truly believe this unit has impacted me not only as a student in my learning but also as a pilgrim on my spiritual journey. It is upon reflection on the content we have been exposed to, from William Blake’s challenging literary creations and Brett Whiteley’s vastly complex artworks, or Patrick White’s enriched language, that I can understand how literature and the arts may impact lives of contemporary society. If not for this unit or for these vastly complex and enriching artists and literary creators, I would not have been able to develop my spiritual understanding of the world around me. From my strong personal response, the answer is not “can” these visionary artists impact modern society, but rather how and in what ways will their influence penetrate the walls of this society.

 

Source: The William Blake Archive

Upon reviewing my best blog, “Humanity is Failing Divinity”, I articulated a critical response that I believe provides a clear answer on how, and in what ways these impactful artists may be allowed to influence contemporary society. I analyzed two of Blakes’s works from the Songs of Innocence and Experience, these being The Divine Image and The Human Abstract. After identifying a common subject theme of divinity within both poems I saught to define what divinity encompasses. I stated the following:

“The divine may be defined as a connection with or a similarity to God. For a human being to be divine there remains the need for unity, interconnectedness, and harmony. For someone to lose their hold on this unity would separate them from the interconnectedness with divinity.”

– exert from my best blog, “Humanity is Failing Divinity”

This deep interconnectedness is reflected in the syntax of The Divine Image, as the words, “Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love”, are introduced on a singular line and are joint together. This is expressed comparatively in The Human Abstract where “Mercy”, “Pity, “Peace” and “Love” are not merely expressed on single lines but are defined by othering and dehumanizing other individuals. In the footnote of The Human Abstract, the Human Abstract is explained as dehumanizing which essentially explores the way one human being is disconnected from another and human dignity is not recognized. It is evident, that the divine may only be present when a society is connected not merely to their God, but to each other in ways that are empowering and maintains pure intentions.

Image result for riders in the chariot

Riders in the Chariot, by Patrick White

The Divine, however, is not merely an expression of unity but a practice of gratitude and wonder in the everyday. Patrik White in his Nobel Prize novel, Riders in the Chariot, expresses this in an extremely challenging and yet poignant way. In a creative response Mrs. Ramsay I desired to encompass, in a similar way to White, how the ordinary may be viewed as extra-ordinary. The title of the piece was inspired by a rather eccentric drama teacher that inspired me to follow the arts and eventually become a teacher. In the eyes of many students, and perhaps some teachers at my school, she was viewed as “odd”, or ” a bit over the top”. Particularly, the way she dressed confused and baffled people. In my blog, I state that her routine of choosing to clothe each morning was like a “ceremonial ritual”. I religiously connotated this line to suggest that what she chose to wear each day was not to be simply a bizarre spectacle, but it maintained a greater spirituality behind its actions. Towards the end of the passage, I state:

“They hold the precious auroras in their cotton woven hands, to protect and cradle in the face of the averageness of the world around them”

-exert from my creative blog, “Mrs. Ramsay”.

With this understanding of Blake’s divine image and White’s vision of the extraordinary or divine that is contained within the mundane aspects of society, my spiritual understanding of myself was overloaded with inspiration. I became overloaded with a deep understanding of my own divinity and how my ordinary life may an empowering way to connect me to the divine.

 

 

-“War and Destruction

When I reflect on the travesties that flood my television screen of a night, from war to children suffering, or to crippling poverty and the mental illness crisis, I am forced to question how we have become so disconnected from the ideas in the Divine Image. I reflect on the greed and power-hungry moves of President Donald Trump and am amazed at how one public figure may embody all of the disconnected, and dehumanizing qualities that are expressed in Blakes, The Human Abstract. It is evident to me that although the Songs of Innocence and Experience were created over two centuries ago for Blake’s society, my own society must sit and take note of what he is teaching us in his eternal words. The source of human suffering may be explained to be a disconnection from self, society and the divine. We as a society are de-sensitized to each other’s needs and may sit behind the comfort of our screen promoting the ideas of “Mercy”, “Pity”, “Peace” or “Love”, but we rarely mean to express these virtues with pure intent. Our egos and selfish desires stop us from saying and expressing these virtues on a single line together. Essentially, The Divine Image may only be achieved in such a fragmented society as ours when the phone screens are removed, our egos are stripped and we return to our original compassions of interconnectedness to the divine, ourselves and those around us.

 

The Nation of Paradoxes

I entered this unit with a naive understanding of what literature in America embodied and expressed. I blame this, in part, on the saturation of mass media constructing America’s national identity in popular culture, the escapism of Disney, or even in slogans of unhinged political leaders such as Donald Trump exclaiming, “Make America Great Again”.

Image result for america poster i want you

“We Want You”, a poster that could be described as a “Pin-Up” of American Nationalism and identiy.
– Source: Homesteaders of America

The essential issue of such limited and ignorant perceptions of America is that it neglects the rich diversity and, at times, deep contradictions that are expressed in their literature. Through taking this unit, I have been fortunate to have been allowed to expand my understanding of the rich variety of polemical issues that are expressed in American Literature. One may only have to look so far as the Declaration of Independence to understand how one nation may embody a chasm of variety in their identity:

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”

-Source: Forbe Quotes

At its core, America is a nation-state that strives to break free from traditional conventions to escape the constraints of normalcy and endeavor after the new territory of the unconventional. Thus, when looking at the literature of this nation-state it is evident, or innate that paradoxes will exist.

Upon reflection, my best blog, The Divine, explores some of the conventions of which American Literature strived for an individual identity.  Transcendentalism was a loose movement that explored the way that higher reasoning, or spiritual intuition, maybe explored through self-reliance, a deep connection with nature and a rejection of society’s conventions. Through the deliberate rejection of traditional English literary conventions, Transcendentalism is reflective of the Declaration of Independence in allowing America to express their individual literary identity.

In my best blog, The Divine, I explored key ideas of Emerson’s “nature” in a creative response. By first critically analyzing the way Emerson suggested that human contact with nature can lead to a higher order of thinking that is restorative and divine, I opened myself to my natural surroundings to explore this. In doing so, I transformed what was once a lack of inspiration for these blogs into an explosion of images and sensory experiences that I could translate into a creative response. In the line, “I could hear the humming harmony of the trees whistling in the wind clearer now”, the alliteration of “humming harmony”, was used to explore a unified rhythm between my soul and the soul of the environment around me. The religiously infused connotation of, “rays of the sun to bless me with their sacred touch,” expressed the intimate connection that I felt with my creator after having opened my experience up to nature. I deeply felt the meaning of Emerson’s words as I was enriched with my own spiritual connection to nature and the divine that opened me up to academic inspiration. Through the works of the Transcendentalist and their revolutionary literary products of self-reliance and independence, America’s national identity was empowered with an individualized and powerful divergent from traditional English conventions.

Such empowering views, however, were not the unified experience for all Americans. One could argue that this drive for individualism and individual success, in turn, rejected and oppressed the other that was ostracised from the American identity. As this unit progressed I was forced to ask myself, to what extent does the success of one person suppress the other?

In an attempt to make sense of this great paradox in the American Literary composition, my blog The Quilt of Tradition was produced. This blog was based upon Alice Walker’s, “Everyday Use”, and expressed the issues of a dual identity, or the double consciousness of the African American. This essentially embodied the way that African Americans are torn between their most authentic African identity and the force of assimilating into the American national identity. Through my analysis of the visual representation of using the quilt as an ornament or physically every day, I developed a deeper understanding of this torn identity. Dee desiring to use it as an ornamental piece symbolizes the way that cultural identity is forced to become a mere aesthetic presence, without actively expressing or embodying it in one’s life. Whilst Maggie’s desire to use it “every day”, connotates the active use and embodiment of her identity. Critically, Walker identifies with all these characters. This is extremely powerful and comments on the paradoxes of America as she expresses that neither choice is the issue, but the very fact that an individual has to choose between their cultural identity or nation-state identity is the issue.

Thus, I was left with a contradictory understanding of American Literature. On one hand, the self-reliant and convention-breaking style of the Transcendentalist resonated with me personally as I experienced the spiritually transformative influence of nature on my divine connection. Contradictorily, I was presented with the grim reality that one’s success often may mean the demise of others.  It was not until William Faulkner’s, “As I Lay Dying,” that I was able to make sense of this great paradox.

In his acceptance speech of the Nobel Prize, Faulkner stated:

“The problems of the human heart in conflict with itself … alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat”

Through his exploration of the contradictory responses of grief, Faulkner understands that the essential state of the human spirit is to be a conflict with oneself. Thus, perhaps the only universal connection in a nation of paradoxes such as America is the presence of conflict and differences.  The very fact that American literature is so diverse and enriched in differences is what I argue is its strength. America is a nation of paradoxes, and that is what makes it so great.

Claudia Bussier

Hey Claudia,

https://claudiabussier.wordpress.com/2019/09/26/blog-3-329/comment-page-1/?unapproved=118&moderation-hash=7bcc3abbec2e0adf076c548bde9423be#comment-118

Thank you for this very creative interpretation of Brett Whitely’s, “Alchemy”. You have particularly enhanced my understanding of this painting as I had struggled to interpret the message or polemical issue that inspired Whitely’s painting. What really resonated for me was your interpretation of “IT” that was included on the painting. Perhaps my sensory was overloaded with information when I reviewed this painting but what you say of this word, “It”, really enlightened me into how Whitley attempted to unite all aspects of human life, states and experiances into a powerful piece of art.

 

Some minor changes:

  • “the Brett Whitley for a further insight”, change to “visit Brett Whitely for further insight…”
  • remove the comma behind “eye-catching”
  • “strange images is captivating” change too, “strange images are captivating”.

Once again thank you for enhancing my understanding!

Alexandra.

 

 

 

James Reynolds

https://jamesdotrblog.wordpress.com/2019/09/17/faulkners-speech/comment-page-1/?unapproved=81&moderation-hash=8b37fdce92659979f8368e636ac863c5#comment-81

Hey James,

Thank you for this incredibly thought-provoking piece. I really appreciated the way you interwove your own personal experience into your analysis of the speech, it provided a raw connection to a speech that perhaps people may not be able to connect to.

What really struck me was your explanation that, although memories may be painful and agonising for some, by channelling this pain into a creative inspiration it may not only alleviate this pain but inspire others to do the same. This statement has made me ponder on the importance of fiction in my own life, and the lives of others around me, so thank you for this analysis!

 

A minor change:

  • perhaps adding some media, like an image of Faulkner or As I Lay Dying may enhance the visual and aesthetic appearance of your blog.