Reflection on Literature Festival 2019 #1

I found the presentation of Pride and Prejudice: The Sequel in a modern-day context where the characters were at a party very interesting as it emphasised the relevance of the ideas in the text to modern society. For example, we see Elizabeth’s strong feminist qualities, which are applicable to today, through her repudiation of the shallow mindsets of the other characters, especially Lydia and Kitty, as well as her rejection of societal expectations. The modern use of language allows us to link these ideas involved to those in the text. The use of language also helped me better understand the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy as I was able to understand Mr. Darcy’s slow inclination towards Elizabeth through the language used when describing his inner conflict and the dialogue in their interactions.

Through this item, I was better able to see the striking personalities of the characters, such as Kitty and Lydia’s superficial and naïve personalities, how Jane sees the world through rose-tinted glasses, as opposed to Elizabeth who is more astute and discerning, and Mr. Darcy’s aloof nature. Personally, Elizabeth’s character stood out to me the most, but my impression of her in the item was slightly different from that in the text because in the item, I felt that she was portrayed to be more critical and temperamental than what I interpreted in the text. Nevertheless, I agree with her ideals and we see the strength of her character both in text and in the item.

Secondly, the item Madness and Murder was particularly interesting to me as it drew parallels between Woman in Mind and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? We see both characters’ internal and external conflicts through their descent into madness and relationships with the other characters. The use of lighting also stood out for me. To me, the blackouts symbolize the characters, especially Susan, going in and out of consciousness in which her mind switches back and forth, from fantasy to reality. 

The voices of the characters in Woman in Mind played a huge part in showing us Susan’s mental state. The dialogue between Susan and her imaginary family, as opposed to her real family, show the stark contrast between their treatment towards her. The imaginary family showed affection and admiration for Susan, evident from how Susan was the first to know of Lucy’s wedding, whereas Rick was cold and indifferent throughout, merely informing Susan that he had already been wed. This hence leads us to understand how her imagination makes up for her unmet desires and severe need for affection. 

Susan’s muffled and incoherent dialogue nearing the end shows us her state of confusion and insanity. The characters leaving Susan at the end of the item shows their eventual abandonment of her as Susan is left to distinguish fantasy from reality on her own, hence suggesting the theme of isolation and madness. Her confusion was also emphasised through her repeated dialogue of “December bee?” which sounds like “remember me?”, perhaps signaling her lack of attention and affection in her family. The loud shriek at the end really had the biggest impact on me as it encompassed a flurry of emotions, such as desperation and confusion, and evoked a sort of pity for her in me as she powerlessly spiraled into madness, unable to control her delusions and unable to tell them apart. The shriek, as opposed to the eerie silence of the whole stage really struck me the most and depicted Susan’s isolation from the world and from everyone else in her family.

Marilyn Koh (19-E1)

This reflection piece was written in response to the college’s 1st Literature Festival, which saw JC2 Literature students construct and perform their own interpretations of their set texts.

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