NCEA 3.7 – Significant Connections – Dystopia

“Good cannot exist without evil, since evil is necessary as a counterpart to good.” A theme that many dystopian pieces present is the loss of individualism due to control of the state. This idea is created to shock the reader into the realization that their free will is at risk of being taken from them without their knowledge so that the authoritarian figure can remain in power and enforce their policies without opposition. Individual choice is shown to be taken by oppressive methods disguised as a beneficial solution to society’s problems like in Minority Report with PreCrime and A Clockwork Orange’s Ludovico Technique. They appear to promote goodness but in reality, it’s only the option of committing any evil that is eliminated. However, with the removal of evil comes the removal of all good actions. Without the option of evil no one chooses to be good, we only go down the path already designed for us. The image and symbolism of the watchful eye is a technique used by dystopian creators George Orwell, Steven Speilberg, Anthony Burgess, and the band Radiohead to symbolise the loss of individualism. The constant observation that the eye represents reminds the characters and reader that they have no choice and are under the control of an authority figure.

In Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell, invasive methods are used to strip the citizens of Oceania of their individualism. The imagery of the symbolic leader Big Brother is posted in many public spaces in order to remind the main character, Winston, that he is being watched at all times “the black moustachioed face gazed down from every commanding corner. There was one on the house-front immediately opposite. BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU, the caption said, while the dark eyes looked deep into Winston’s own.” In this totalitarian militaristic state, citizens are expected to accept the word of the Party and Big Brother. Winston begins to question the Party’s legitimacy and silently rebels as an act of regaining individuality and for the first time rejects the “choices” the Party has forced onto him. Throughout this journey the symbolism of Big Brother’s watchful eye remains present, reminding the reader that this self-discovery is futile. The thoughtpolice exist to preserve public support of the Party by vapourising any person that has opposing ideologies or commits “thoughtcrime”. The presence of the thoughtpolice removes the possibility of individuality because unorthodox thoughts are punished “Orthodoxy means not thinking–not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.” While the origin of the Party is unknown, we are told that their aim is to simply have control of every individual, resource and piece of information to ever exist “We are interested solely in power, pure power.” by manipulating the population’s ability to express themselves as individuals and view them as a collective. A surprising amount of characters are comfortable or complacent with this unremitting surveillance and oppressive to the frustration of Winston and the reader which can be explained by this quote “The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.” The population would rather stay blissfully ignorant of the freedom they could have alongside happiness.

The opportunity to make morally good decisions isn’t threatened more than in Minority Report. Set primarily in Washington DC in the year 2054, a system called PreCrime was created for the purpose of preventing murder. It uses mutated humans with psychic abilities called “Precogs” to receive visions of the future. PreCrime shows many similarities to Nineteen Eighty-Four’s thoughtcrime system other than just their names. Both punish people that have yet to commit a crime. Preventative methods disallow choice and personal improvement because the option of making the right decision is forcefully taken from them and they’re punished before even making a mistake. The quote “My father once told me, “We don’t choose the things we believe in; they choose us” spoken by the director of PreCrime, Lamar, represents the determinism an authoritative figure has over free will – that our options are already decided for us. Protagonist, John Anderton is trying to prove his innocence, being accused of a murder he hasn’t yet committed. On his journey through futuristic Washington DC, eyes are displayed all over the city on holographic advertising. This appears meaningless at first, but to the viewer, it signifies extreme surveillance and the inability to live freely; much like in Nineteen Eighty-Four with Big Brother posters. Uniquely, in Minority Report eyes also represent the identity of an individual. In this dystopia “iris scanners” exist over the city to monitor all citizens. Eyes represent the personal identity and the iris scanners have control over this without consent; once again signifying the loss of individualism by cause of an authority figure “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess discusses the cost of losing individualism has on morality. The main character, Alex is arrested after a violent night of murder and rape. In order to shorten his sentence, he agrees to take part in a procedure called the Ludovico Technique; a method of associating violent impulses with crippling nausea. He is forced to watch videos of violence and sex while being injected with nausea-inducing drugs “But I could not shut my glazzies, and even if I tried to move my glazz-balls about I still could not get like out of the line of fire of this picture” The theme of eyes being used to show loss of individualism is exhibited through this quote. His eyes are manipulated against him to strip him of his ability to choose. The Ludovico Technique opens a discussion of morality and choice, Burgess aims to make the reader realize that good cannot exist without evil and that to be good we must choose “The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities.”. Alex is said to be cured but he believes that he is not a better man than he was before “Is it better for a man to have chosen evil than to have good imposed upon him?”. The Ludovico Technique is similar to Minority Report’s PreCrime in the way that they are both disguised as beneficial to society by preventing crime but in reality, it strips people of their humanity. Our humanity comes from our ability to choose whatever choice that may be “Goodness is chosen. When a man cannot choose, he ceases to be a man.”. It is also similar in how an individual’s eyes are used against them and force them into obedience.

The lyrics of ‘2+2=5’ by Radiohead demonstrate how this loss of individualism is taken and holds the public responsible. The line “You can scream and you can shout it is too late now because you have not been payin’ attention” clearly states that we are not currently being attentive to the power of the systems that guide us and that we’re being complacent with our freedoms being infringed upon. It also claims that when we realize that we have lost control, we will no longer be in a position to do anything about it “Don’t question my authority or put me in a box”, so we must act now. “Payin’ attention” contributes to the theme of eyes as it describes how we are not being observant to the risks. This line is repeated multiple times in an attempt to make us recognise this truth, almost as if it’s a plea. This song includes the lyric “And two and two always makes up five”, a direct reference to Nineteen Eighty-Four “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”. This line means that as long as the group in power has total control they have complete authority over the truth that they can bend to their favour. The reference to a dystopian written in 1948 is a way of expressing how the same concerns still exist in today’s world. Radiohead embraces the ultimate theme that we are oblivious or complacent to our individuality being taken from us and acts as a warning for us not “Payin attention”.

The purpose of dystopian texts like Nineteen Eighty-Four, Minority Report, A Clockwork Orange and 2+2=5 is to alert people of the signs that their freedoms and individualism are being threatened. The danger of losing individualism as shown prominently in A Clockwork Orange is the risk of losing moral choice. While morality is completely subjective, we have generally agreed upon global rules that benefit us and promote genuine goodness. If we lose the ability to choose freely for ourselves and explore our options then we remove what makes us human and the opportunity for personal development. These dystopias come about by a slow and subtle corruption that isn’t noticed until it is too late, but there are warnings – like the imagery of the eyes presented in the texts. The symbolism of the eyes is to remind us of the looming presence of the authority’s power and that the characters are being watched. As warned by the creators of these texts, we need to become more aware of the symbolic parallels that may exist in our own society or face having our individualism taken from us “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” 

3.4 Writing Folio- Chapter One


“Joyous Morning!” chirped the guard at every passerby. 
As Arthur ambled to work, he craned his neck back so his face was bathed in the early sunlight that barely peeked over the rooftops. The sky above the town was the same as usual. Cerulean. However, today something was amiss; in the distance, there were smatterings of thin clouds, like healing wounds. Velvety and sanguine-shaded. He felt the warmth and morning rays soak into his paper-white skin, deepening the brown constellation on the bridge of his nose. Pausing for a moment, he looked all around him to admire the quaint pastel-coloured buildings of the town that he felt privileged to call home. The soft smell of baked goods filled the bumpy cobblestone streets. There were no vehicles on them, of course, not during the day. Arthur liked it that way. It let the sound of idle chatter and laughter satisfy the air. He breathed deeply through his nose, letting the crisp fresh air wake his lungs and agreed silently to himself that indeed, it was a joyous morning. Smiling with the general contentment he feels every day, Arthur took one last moment to appreciate his surroundings, and finally went on his merry way.
The black sign sticking out the side of the building had faded and cracked in a way where you could see the pale pine beneath. It read Felix’s Mood Boosters written in what is assumed to be once glossy gold paint. Unlike the sign, however, the building it was attached to was clean and new but still retained an antique charm. The white bricks were thoroughly polished, the auburn tiles on the roof and dormers were spotless like freshly groomed hair straight out the barbers. The gutters held not one stray leaf. It seemed like every property in Pembroke was well taken care of, though Arthur wasn’t so sure he’d ever seen anyone cleaning them. 
There was a small chalkboard placed near the foot of the door of Arthur’s workplace. This morning it had ‘Don’t forget your Joy!’ beautifully inscribed in cursive, likely the handiwork of one his female coworkers, Arthur thought. Bending his legs slightly to fit his tall, lanky body under the doorframe, he entered the reception and was met by Samuel, a jolly man who was as fat as Arthur is tall. Arthur wondered how Samuel got through the door, perhaps he had to turn sideways…
“Joyous Morning, Arthur! How are ya today? Didya see the sign outside? Did it meself, the wife’s got me practising fancy writin’ like that. What’d ya fink?” Samuel greeted, he almost turned himself blue with excitement.
“Good morning. I’m well, although I must admit a bit tired. Your cursive is wonderful, let Maggie know she’s a great teacher.”
“Course, I will. Make sure you ‘ave a Joy if ya feeling sleepy. Wouldn’t want ya falling asleep on the job, would we?”
“No, no of course not…” Arthur trailed off while Samuel chuckled. He wondered back to the last time he had taken his Joy. It must have been at least three days now. Of course, he hadn’t meant to let time slip away, but work had just been so busy with supply issues. There had been a mix up at the production plant where some ninny added too much of this and not enough of that. The whole batch for the week had to be chucked.
“Right then-” Samuel huffed. “I’ll leave ya to it.” and he promptly plopped back down behind the reception counter. While pulling his pinstripe suit snuggly around his thin body, Arthur firmly nodded and vowed to pop a Joy by the end of the day.

From the second-floor window, it showed the rooftops, busy streets and the sliver of green from the fields just beyond the walls. Arthur never cared to know what was out there, never thought he needed to. Despite this, he slouched, absentmindedly tracing his finger along with the thin detailing of the desk while staring intently at the unknown distance until his eyes watered. Forcefully blinking, Arthur composed himself and wiped away the trail of lazy dribble that was creeping its way down his chin. He turned his attention back to the ever-growing summit of paper when a groan sneaked out from his lips. His wide eyes shot up to where the door stood and waited expectedly for something. A few minutes must have passed before he allowed himself to release the air trapped in his throat.
“What’s gotten into me today?” He whispered. Brow furrowed, Arthur stood up and made his way toward the bathroom.
He cupped his hands around the stream of cold water and brought it up to his face, letting the chill embrace his skin. With hands firmly clasped around the basin he looked up to meet his gaze in the mirror but he found himself looking at an unsightly stranger. This stranger had large purple bags under his eyes, so packed you’d think they were going on a lengthy holiday. Their teeth rotten and their flesh scabbed. Arthur recoiled so that his back hit the tile wall. With a heart and head pounding so strong it rattled his fragile frame he scrambled out into the hall. In the short time he’d spent in the bathroom the wallpaper peeled, the carpet stained, spotted black mould clung to the roof and the stench- The stench was so unbearable it brought Arthur to his knees.
“Alright, mate?” A voice questioned, “Ya lookin’ a wee bit peaky.” Arthur looked up desperately, expecting to see Samuel’s familiar face but was instead met by a contorted guise. He had wide eyes and a crooked grin filled with a few stained teeth where the gaps were replaced with loose gore.
“What’s happening?” Arthur asked frantically. He felt his whole body begin to sweat.
“What are ya on about?” His head tilted slightly to the left and the smile refused to falter “Er’rything’s fine.” Samuel reached into his tattered jacket pocket and pulled out a small metal cylinder. “Here, ‘ave one of me Joys” He grasped Arthur’s hand and firmly planted a yellow capsule in the middle of his palm. Shyly, Arthur fiddled with the pill, rolling it around between his index finger and thumb. He had taken at least one Joy a day for as long as he could remember without issue, to him it was as routine as eating. So why, Arthur wondered, was he struggling this time? Especially with his blissful world decaying around him. Samuel stood there expectedly, waiting for his gift to be appreciated and Arthur believing there were no other options brought the sunshine pill to his lips.

Relative Clauses

Yellow-brown fog filled the sky which created a dark blanket over the city. The slimy streets were empty of the regular hoard who were trying to avoid breathing the toxic air. Hazardous waste from the factory emptied from aqueducts into the ocean which caused it to turn a poisonous green.

NCEA 3.4 – Writing Folio – Freedom of Expression & George Orwell’s Warning – Feature Article

Freedom of expression. A human right, according to the United Nations declaration. Under this declaration, in Article 19 it states “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers“. Our ability to express our thoughts, opinions and beliefs is important to the wellbeing of society as it enables the exchange of ideas ultimately creating an understanding between groups and it is essential for us to live in a democratic society. The ability to express opinions freely without repercussions is a fundamental pillar of our lives.

However, in this age of technology, our human right to expression is being infringed upon by manufacturers, hackers, and in some places of the world, the government. This situation we are in right now is similar to that of George Orwell’s novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ where there are no laws created by the totalitarian “Party” to protect this right of the people and any ideas that challenge the status quo are vapourised “-every record of everything you had ever done was wiped out, your one-time existence was denied and then forgotten. You were abolished, annihilated: vaporized was the usual word.”

Orwell coined the term “thoughtcrime” in his dystopian novel and it is defined as “an instance of unorthodox or controversial thinking, considered as a criminal offence or as socially unacceptable”. Simply, thoughtcrime is a set of thoughts that are seen as a criminal offence because they challenge the social norm generally established by the government in power. It is a way of justifying the censorship of unorthodox concepts. This idea may seem foreign and even impossible to many of us and some may say that thoughtcrime is an impossible future as the public wouldn’t allow it, however, it has already happened.

The example of censorship we are most familiar with is the Nazi Book burnings. The Nazi party under the leadership of Adolf Hitler ran a campaign, chiefly in 1933, to find and destroy any books that opposed the Nazi ideology or were considered “un-German”. The dictating party in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ was actually inspired by the repressive methods of the Soviet Union and the Nazi Party. Although Orwell hadn’t written his novel at the time of the book burnings, in the eyes of the Nazi party these books had committed thoughtcrime and needed to be burned to stop the Austrian and German people from viewing unorthodox ideas in order to interfere with public opinion “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”. Restricting the expression of various ideas was a way of reducing the chance of original thought, so the principles of Nazism would be accepted without opposition, much like in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ with Newspeak. “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end, we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it.”

Orwell was well ahead of his time; In 1948, when ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ was written, televisions existed though only 14,500 sets were present in Britain, so very few families had one. Despite this, Orwell warned that our televisions or rather, “telescreens” in his novel would betray us “the telescreen with its never-sleeping ear. They could spy upon you night and day-“. He theorised that technology in the home can and will be used to spy on us from anyone that wants to and he was right; our ‘Smart TVs’ have cameras installed for “facial recognition to make programming suggestions based on who’s watching” and microphones “allow users to control them from the comfort of the couch.“. Both of these features are internet-connected meaning that in theory, anyone can hack into your television to see and hear everything that’s going in your home.

The uncertainty of whether we can trust our devices or not is becoming more common every day. It only takes a quick Google search to find millions of news articles about phones (tiny telescreens) and televisions recording their owners without permission. This is and will lead to the restriction of the free flow of opinions, as we don’t know what and when we can say things. You’ll no longer be able to complain about your boss after a hard day at work because someone might be listening and waiting for an opportunity to get you fired “Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed—no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimetres in your skull.”

Don’t fear too much though, there are steps you can take to ensure that what is said and done in the privacy of your home, stays private. For iPhone, all you need to do is go into settings, privacy and then microphone. Once you have turned the microphone off, your phone will no longer be able to record you. However, you can no longer use voice activation for Siri – a very small price to pay for privacy. Unfortunately with Smart TVs, it’s not as simple. If you already have one set up, then there is a very little chance that you can change the privacy settings you would have agreed to when you first got the television. My only recommendation would be to contact the manufacturer to see if they can assist you. However, if you about to buy a Smart TV, make sure you read all of the privacy policies and take the opportunity to decline the ones that gather your data. Despite this, hackers are still able to gain access to any microphone and cameras the television may have because of the internet feature that Smart TVs provide. Ultimately, the only true way to protect ourselves from prying ears is to live without internet-connected devices.

For us to remain in a democratic society where opinions and diverse discussions are encouraged, we must first heed George Orwell’s warning about a possible dystopia. Orwell was fearful of a society where there is no freedom of speech or expression permitted and he wrote extensively about his concerns of a governing body using technology to suppress public ideas in ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’. We cannot allow seemingly small infringements to our freedom of expression occur, so we must speak out against manufacturers use of unnecessary privacy violations. If we abet small acts like these now then we are creating a path for bigger breaches in the future, a future where if we challenge the orthodoxy our words will be manipulated against us “Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

2.4 Creative Writing Task

Springtime, dawn. A canopy of muted blue creeps through the gaps in a grey skyline. Lights that kept the city awake flicker off now. The workers of the night creep back into their caves, leaving only a memory and cigarette ash on the ground.

Look at the city streets already filled. A steady river. Doctors, accountants, wannabe actors, cashiers. There’s somewhere to be. The dewy concrete, still wet from a long winter, has suffered years of abuse from well-shined leather shoes. Still it lay, below mile-high offices and the unseen sky. Forgotten broken bottles litter the dedicated ground, the heavy foot of a calculated businessman will walk upon them every day until they turn into a fine powder. Overhead, neon screens scream subtle insults. A bikini-clad woman takes centre stage, with a bright smile and sad eyes she’s ready to perform. 

High heels. A brand new pair. Red. Confidently struts down the path. Yet another dagger into the beaten stone. Click click click. The sun that had been so sorely missed reflects a red shadow onto the pavement with every step. Each one more proud than the last. The gentle breeze dances its way through each street, each alleyway just for her. To flit and fly through a beautifully tangled mess. The pencil skirt, the tight-fitting blouse, the rouge lipstick, the sultry eyeshadow, and of course, the heels. Each man ogling, some brave enough to yell their fantasies; much to the dismay of their wives. Eyes forward, don’t look. There’s no reason for fear, the safety of the day will keep all women safe. And so, she keeps walking and the city returns. It’s already forgotten her. 

The street is dark. Even the midnight employees don’t find work here. Listen closely, a gentle buzzing can be heard. It’s the sound of a single streetlight with a warm amber glow trying to stay awake. The breeze of the day is gone, instead replaced with a gale. It whips and rattles the doors lining the road. The same clicking of wood on stone, that echoed through the day was gifted to night. And the night rejected it. An unfamiliar silhouette rounds the corner. Two dark eyes meet her own. A deep breath in and a quickened pace. She plunges her hand into her purse reaching desperately for her keys. Her heartbeat pulses and thumps in her ears. She winds her shaky fingers around the jagged metal. Be ready, stay alert. But it’s too late and she knows it. She knows that the howling of the wind would be louder than her own. And, she knows that it would be her fault. This will be another secret to seep into the cement. Rough, calloused hands grab and rip while chapped lips release obscenities and slurs. Perfectly manicured nails claw for freedom. The fresh air of the night is polluted with the smell of sweat, and his dirty words.

Tomorrow you will wake. Bruised and battered, but alive. You’ll stagger to the shower and turn the heat up high enough that your skin glows raw. Enough soap and shampoo will make you feel better, if you scrub hard enough you might reach the guilt deep in your gut and scoop it out. You’ll put together an outfit for the day. A long-sleeved shirt, a blazer, trousers, and of course, clumsy leather boots. The same ugly pair that you’d made a promise to yourself to never wear again as long as you could afford not to. You couldn’t. The heels you’ll throw at the wall and blame will be gently picked up and placed inside the cupboard. Dust will gather and there they will sit. Once touched, once loved, and ever so slightly broken.

‘Analyse how setting was used to reinforce an idea in the written text(s)’

The average woman is well aware of the tribulation she will face as a result of her gender and the society she was born in to. Sexism is defined as the prejudice, stereotyping or discrimination based on a person’s sex, although typically against women due to systematic oppression. Harper Lee, a famous female author highlights what life was like for women in the deep south of the United States during the great depression in her coming-of-age/Southern gothic novel ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. The story follows a young girl, Scout Finch growing up and learning the prejudice in her hometown. The setting of Maycomb holds many aspects that provide a platform for sexism to be illustrated in this text. The three aspects of setting I will be discussing that reinforce the idea of sexism is the role religion had in oppressing women, the location that the story takes place and what the time period allowed women to do. All these factors contribute to the setting.

Religion is considered a part of a novel’s setting because its principles can directly change the way one acts. For this reason, the major religious influence of the south played a part in the oppression of woman due to widely held Christian values that saw women as lesser than men. The Maycomb population has a singular religion of Christianity with different branches dependent on each character. Atticus Finch and his children are Methodists, which support the idea of women in leadership positions and overall equality for all people. A Baptist community also exists in Maycomb, and their belief system strictly adheres to the Bible. The Bible directly quotes “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she must be silent.” and “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord”. These quotes, inherently disallow the opportunity for women to strive in any setting and proving that religion plays a substantial role in oppressing women. Additionally, this provides an insight into how sexism was displayed in real-life settings similar to Maycomb. Coupled with the fact that religion was a core foundation to these societies it would be near impossible to dispute these words without being frowned upon by the community. The mention of Baptists in ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ occurs when Miss Maudie, the Finch’s neighbour, retails to Scout when a group of Baptists insulted her. She states “Foot-washers believe anything that’s pleasure is a sin.” and “(they) think women are a sin by definition”. Conveniently, the beliefs that the Baptists hold seem to target women. This shows that this particular religious group disapproves of Miss Maudie’s “female tendency” and ultimately prohibits any freedoms that women might want to experience. Harper Lee specifically chose a religiously dense setting for her novel to reinforce the idea of sexism.

Gender roles are often forced onto easily influenced children at a young and nowhere more prevalent than in the south of the United States. The Southern States included Alabama, where ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ was set, and are generally far more socially conservative than its Northern states counterpart. The gender roles mentioned follow the stereotypes of boys having to be masculine, aggressive and self-confident. While girls had to like tea parties, the colour pink and wear dresses. These stereotypes follow children into adulthood that create an oppressive, segregated and fundamentally sexist socio-cultural environment where you were expected to act completely like your born gender. “Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn’t supposed to be doing things that required pants.”  Aunt Alexandra’s hope for Scout is to be an idyllic Southern Belle much like how she views herself, fundamentally forcing her into the female gender role that is aforementioned as sexist. Southern Belles are described as upper-class white women in the American South. Women that fell into this category had no choice but to hold a perfect appearance to the community or otherwise bring shame to their families. Without this novel being based in Alabama, this “Southern Belle” expectation of women would not exist and Scout would not make her realisations of the sexism in Maycomb, which helps give the reader perspective of this important theme. “I was more at home in my father’s world. People like Mr. Heck Tate did not trap you with innocent questions to make fun of you; even Jem was not highly critical unless you said something stupid.” This quote proves the Scout has been influenced to favour men because of the untrustworthy culture that surrounds Southern Belles. Enforcing the idea of sexism into this young girl. Additionally, “Scout, I’m tellin’ you for the last time, shut your trap or go home—I declare to the Lord you’re gettin’ more like a girl every day!” With that, I had no option but to join them.” This illustrates that no matter what Scout feels inclined to, she is pressurized to join this oppressed group of women that find their only freedom in gossiping about others and hosting tea parties. The locational setting of the story is important to the theme of sexism because the Southern States were far more traditional which paired with Lee’s intention of displaying sexism.

Women have historically been disadvantaged by way of law and societal norms. The time period in which a story is set in is particularly important to the overall plot, this is why if ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ was set in 2019 the story would be non-existent because those laws that once prohibited basic freedoms have since been abolished. Therefore, no platform is provided for a story with this kind of prejudice to be realistic. Only thirteen years before the beginning of the story ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, based in 1933,  women earned the right to vote. A right that males had instinctively since a democratic system was created. In the novel, during the Tom Robinson trial Atticus states to his curious children “For one thing, Miss Maudie can’t serve on a jury because she is a woman.” It wasn’t until 1968 that all American women could take this vital role in society. Possibly, if women had been able to have this role, jury verdicts in cases of prejudice, such as the Tom Robinson trial, might have transpired differently. “”I doubt if we’d ever get a complete case tried—the ladies’d be interrupting to ask questions.” Jem and I laughed. Miss Maudie on a jury would be impressive. I thought of old Mrs. Dubose in her wheelchair—”Stop that rapping, John Taylor, I want to ask this man something.”” here it is displayed that the children have to imagine women on juries, if this was novel was set in more modern times the same sexism shown surrounding the trial would not be known because women serving on a jury is no longer a concept. This time period of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ very clearly demonstrates the law enforced sexism that was put in place to “protect” women from the harshness of the world when in reality it only marginalized women and reinforced an acceptance of sexism in society. Harper Lee was born in 1926, meaning that throughout a large portion of her adult life she was unable to serve on a jury because of her gender, and with her being raised in Alabama where prejudice was rife, she could have possibly felt helpless when trials such as the one in her book occurred. Lee purposefully chose 1933 as the time period for her novel because it creates an ideal setting as the women’s rights movement was gaining momentum, so there was room for discussion. However, there were still many restrictions on women which allowed for sexism to be shown.

All the aspects of setting in Harper Lee’s controversial novel, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ coupled easily with the subject of sexism as they all serve an intended role in reinforcing this theme. These aspects being, religion, location and historical era. Lee’s ultimate intention in writing this novel the way she did was to force the reader to reflect on their own inner prejudices so that one might change the way they think. Also, to display the inner-rooted prejudice in traditional communities like the one she grew up in, so she could bring attention to a topic that was willingly ignored in her time.

NCEA 1.8 – Significant Connections. Ambition

The human quality of ambition is a useful tool that writers and film creators manipulate to tell a story. The dictionary defines ambition as “a strong desire to do or achieve something”. Ambition is shown to be the cause of both good and evil occurrences, and I will be discussing how different texts in literature and film represent this factor of ambition by using their characters.

The sonnet, Ozymandias, written by Percy Bysshe Shelley tells the story of an ambitious king overcome with hubris. The poem begins with the poet meeting a foreign traveller that describes the broken statue of a fallen king, Ozymandias in the desert  “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone stand in the desert. . . Near them, on the sand, half sunk a shattered visage lies. . .”. The king shows ambition to be remembered in history based on the traveller’s retailing. In this poem, Shelley utilizes his character Ozymandias to show that some forms of ambition can cause demise rather than the achievement of one’s goals. An example that shows that the king desired to be commemorated is;  “And on the pedestal, these words appear: My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings; Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”. In the quote, it tells that the king saw himself as powerful and important when the reality is that his statue is broken and crumbling in the desert, forgotten by all. Ozymandias’s ambition to be recognized is a selfish desire that he will do anything to ensure he achieves, the king goes so far to instill fear in his people. Shelley makes clear of this fact and writes “… whose frown and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command”  describing the king’s broken statue, to make certain the reader knows that Ozymandias was so invested in being remembered that he had the sculptor make him look formidable. The character of the King, Ozymandias demonstrates the result of having ambition with only selfish goals.

Similar to Ozymandias, Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare uses selfish ambition within his characters to progress his story. The tragedy displays Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, driven by their want for power. Infamously ambitious, Lady Macbeth takes a dark turn when her husband tells her of a possibility of her becoming the next Queen of Scotland. She takes it upon herself to secure that position by manipulating her husband into completing what she believes, needs to be done. She goes as far as to call upon evil spirits to possess her and give her the strength she requires “Come you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here; and fill me, from the crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty”. This shows the determination and commitment she has to attain her objective. Shakespeare skillfully employs Lady Macbeth’s unwavering ambition for power and status to show an example of the evil occurrences that unfold when goals are achieved by means of lying, manipulation, and murder. Another example that proves her corrupted ambition is that throughout the story she uses her own husband to get what she wants. She constantly takes advantage of his weak will by stating things such as “Thou’rt mad to say it.” and “Infirm of purpose!”. Ultimately calling him mad and useless. She willingly dismisses her role “wife” and takes the strong lead in the relationship; very rare for the time she is written in. Lady Macbeth manages to achieve her goal but becomes overwhelmed with the guilt of the actions she has taken and as a result, commits suicide to ease her troubled mind “The queen, my lord, is dead”.

Gattaca, the 1997 movie by Andrew Niccol, also has a character driven solely by ambition. Similar to the other texts, the character Vincent Freeman, uses ambition for selfish desires and will go to great lengths to accomplish his goals. In Gattaca, those that aren’t genetically modified before birth are considered “Invalid” and have fewer opportunities. Therefore, Vincent, a “god-child” must possess a new identity, breaking the law.  For Vincent’s dream of going to Space, it is necessary that he breaks laws because of the unjust system he was born into. Due to the prejudice he faces, it allows the extreme actions Vincent takes acceptable. As proof of commitment to his goals, Vincent teams up with Jerome Morrow, a genetically perfect individual crippled in a suicide attempt, and uses his DNA to begin working at Gattaca Aerospace Corporation. Everyday Vincent goes through a meticulous routine of scrubbing off dead skin cells and using samples of Jerome’s urine and blood to avoid detection. Creator, Andrew Niccol, displays the positive result of a character using ambition righteously. Vincent has all the odds stacked against him, including his genetic code, but because of ambition with determination, he fulfils his dream. Vincent demonstrates this determination when he is challenging his genetically superior brother “You want to know how I did it? This is how I did it, Anton; I never saved anything for the swim back.” 

The Help, contrary to the other texts contains a character that uses her ambition to help others. In Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 book, The Help, aspiring writer Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan applies her knowledge and platform to further her career, but also to give the oppressed black maids a voice. The novel is set during the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. As written, many of these women experience poor treatment and discrimination. Skeeter begins to notice this and the racism prevalent in her childhood friend, Hilly Hillbrook. Skeeter, driven by the thought of change decides to act on this opportunity. One day when at a high society bridge game, Hilly discusses her plan to make separate bathrooms for “the help” mandatory within earshot of maid, Aibileen Clark. Later, Skeeter approaches Aibileen and apologizes on behalf of Hilly, and also states “Do you ever wish you could…change things?”. This statement enlists Aibileen to help Skeeter with her book about the mistreatment of maids. Skeeter’s ambition to change the status quo and help those around her, she receives support in return. Stockett exhibits the good occurrences that can come with ambition. In learning about what the maids go through, Skeeter’s drive to become an accomplished female author also turns into aspirations of being educated in segregation and the systems that oppress African-Americans. She is ambitious and brave enough to risk being discovered by the white population of the town to do this  “…I realized I actually had a choice in what I could believe.”

In conclusion, it is evident from these texts that those that use ambition with morality are able to not only achieve their goal but ultimately end up happier and more successful. The above-mentioned authors and creators all cleverly applied their extremely different characters to tell varying versions of ambition.

NCEA Formal Writing 1.5, Literary Essay

How does Shakespeare exploit the conventions of language and theatre to fill his play from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty – and moreover, why is this so essential to the universal meaning of the play?

In the play, Macbeth, written by William Shakespeare, many language effects are used to display the universal meaning of the play. The idea that Shakespeare was attempting to convey was Macbeth’s deterioration of the mind. The most notable devices utilized are metaphors, hyperbole, and personification. With the application of these tools, Shakespeare is able to produce a well-structured script that leaves an impression on the history of literature.

Shakespeare uses the relationship between metaphors and the play, Macbeth to demonstrate a deeper meaning in his tragedy. Metaphors are a word or phrase that are often symbolic of something else. Throughout Macbeth, the reader is presented with many metaphors to provoke understanding of Macbeth’s mind, or rather the deterioration of it. A sentence is stated showing Macbeth’s interpretation of that thing or person, revealing his damaged perception of the world around him. An example of a metaphor presented in Macbeth is in Act Three, Scene Two. Macbeth discusses his suspicions to Lady Macbeth that Banquo knows that he had killed King Duncan. He compares Banquo to a snake “We have scorched the snake, not killed it”.  Banquo is the snake in the grass that will bite (or reveal) Macbeth if he steps too heavily, or in other words; takes advantage of the Witches predictions. Shakespeare uses a metaphor in this scenario to show Macbeth’s beginning skepticism about those around him. Macbeth then goes on to arrange Banquo’s death, to ease his inessential suspicions. Shakespeare applies metaphors in Macbeth so he can represent an idea while remaining rhythmical (following the Iambic Pentameter) without becoming too literal in his script. It is through Because of Shakespeare’s successful use of metaphors the reader is able to see the darkness building in Macbeth leading to his hopelessness and madness. Another example of a metaphor is in Act Five, Scene Five. Macbeth has just been told that his wife, Lady Macbeth, has died; we assume from suicide. His response is the iconic soliloquy describing his view on the triviality of life. In this, the metaphor “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more” is written. Macbeth is comparing life to an actor that performs worryingly on a stage for a short time, then is immediately forgotten or not heard of again. Shakespeare writes this is the form of a metaphor because he is imagining the script being performed on a stage, and so he is being ironic while also enabling Macbeth to show that he has deteriorated into a depressive state of mind. Shakespeare intentions when applying metaphors was to allow the reader to see how Macbeth views the world, therefore revealing his inner thought process.

In Macbeth, hyperboles are commonly used from some of the central characters to add excitement and tension to the play. Hyperbole is the act of exaggerating a statement for dramatic purposes. Macbeth is known for his use of hyperboles and unnecessary over-the-top behaviour throughout the play. He uses them to demonstrate his emotions in larger scale, but it also displays to the reader his lack of control over his feelings. After Macbeth successfully kills King Duncan he reunites with Lady Macbeth to confirm he has done the deed. Noticeably he has blood on his hands and when washing them, he utters: “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red”. Translating to ‘Can the ocean truly clean these hands? No, I’d turn the sea red with the blood’. This is hyperbole because he exaggerating the amount of gore present, he believes it to be worse than it actually is. Shakespeare cleverly utilizes hyperboles to the play and to the title character, Macbeth to show how his state of mind progressively worsens and the effect that his paranoia has on the people who were once considered trusted friends. The effects Macbeth’s actions have on these people, perfectly display the effective use of hyperboles. In Act Four, Scene Three, Malcolm and Macduff are planning to take back the throne of Scotland from Macbeth. In their conversations, Malcolm, who has just learnt that his family has been murdered by Macbeth, says “This tyrant, whose sole name blisters our tongues”. This is hyperbole because simply saying Macbeth’s name will not cause physical harm. But Malcolm says this to put emphasize of Macbeth’s awfulness and actions. The reader is able to understand Macbeth’s damaged condition because of Shakespeare’s intentional use of hyperboles.

In his tragedy, Macbeth, Shakespeare manipulates personification to progress the story and character. Personification is the language device of giving human attributes or characteristics to something that is not human. Personification is commonly used in stories and poems to give a non-human character or object the ability to relate, this language device often enables the reader to sympathize with something they otherwise wouldn’t. In Act Two, Scene One the reader is given the first glimpse of what will begin a downward spiral in Macbeth. He is having his final thoughts before fulfilling his wife’s wish of killing Duncan when he sees an apparition of a dagger in front of him. “The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still”. He refers to the dagger as ‘thee’, translating to ‘you’ in modern language. He calls the inanimate object a ‘you’ because he feels a strong human connection with it. This shows Macbeth’s dawning insanity because not only is he seeing something that is not there, but he is giving it a human pronoun. Personification can also be used to show madness in humans that see lifeless objects in an unorthodox way. Shakespeare takes advantage of this aspect of personification to show the interplay between reality and Macbeth’s form of reality. Macbeth’s reality is that he is immortal because of what the witches told him, but by believing this he is taking away the human tradition of death, dehumanizing himself. To compensate; Macbeth personifies insentient things. After committing the act of murdering his longtime friend and King while he slept, Macbeth shows regret in his actions and expresses this to Lady Macbeth. He believes he heard someone say “Sleep no more! Macbeth doth murder sleep”. In his worries, he personifies sleep because he believes that he also killed sleep as well as Duncan. This is personification because sleep is something that cannot be murdered, but Macbeth declares it as so because of the remorse he feels. Shakespeare uses personification to provoke sympathy from the reader towards Macbeth, although he does not subjectively deserve it.

Shakespeare operates metaphors, hyperboles and personification in Macbeth to illustrate his character’s deteriorating state of mind throughout his journey in becoming of Scotland. These language devices put importance on the script and make the reader more aware of what is being stated. This reflects the intelligent thought process of Willian Shakespeare.

Macbeth – Act 5, Scene 1 Summary

Act 5 Scene 1

Characters: Doctor, Gentlewoman, Lady Macbeth

Location: Dunsinane, a room in the castle

Events: Lady Macbeth’s gentlewoman tells a doctor about her mistress’ behaviour while sleepwalking. Lady Macbeth appears holding a candle. While asleep Lady Macbeth imagines she is washing blood off her hands and talks about the murders.
The Doctor leaves, shocked at what he has seen and heard.

Quotes: “Out, damned spot! out, I say!” – Lady Macbeth
“Ay, but their sense are shut.” – Gentlewoman