In Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, the threat of capital punishment is often wielded by authority figures as a means to enforce order from an otherwise uncontrollable chaotic Viennese society. However, the imminence of death as a legal consequence of excessive vice not only underscores the frailness of human morality but also acts as a catalyst from which previously unfathomable deeds are now seen as pardonable.
Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure explores titular concerns of absolutes and balance. By presenting the dialectical opposite of every absolute stance in the play, Shakespeare conveys the untenability of absolutes which are measured and complicated by the inherent messiness of human nature. Instead, the play argues for the necessity of balance, to measure justice with mercy, and restraint with liberty.
Narratives and myths are rampant in both Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? as well as The Caretaker, revealing their characters’ states of mind to the audience and allowing characters to create illusions for themselves. Characters in both plays construct their ideal sense of self, using myths and narratives as coping mechanisms, which are ultimately destroyed by the end of the plays.
In Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Caretaker, the characters survive the vagaries of their worlds by escaping into fiction, often to deleterious effects. Yet, while some grow out of their harmful delusions, others remain shackled to their illusions. Both George/Martha and Davies/Aston are shown to overcome and survive their bleak realities through the employment of illusions and narratives.
Throughout the play, Davies is pitted multiple times against Mick and Aston as he constantly struggles to establish his dominance in a place where he clearly does not belong. It is largely borne of a survival instinct that Davies first engages in a very one-sided battle with Aston, before Mick enters and aggressively challenges Davies. The survival instinct that initially puts Davies on his guard and sets him into battle is also what leads him to surrender the battle in the closing scene.
In Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, familial relationships, or lack thereof, between characters are presented as being highly illusory and idealised as well as far from the unhappy reality, in order to cope with the latter. Hence, Albee asserts that these falsely intimate familial relationships do ultimately harm to the characters’ mind and selves, despite distracting from the true state of relationship, and must be overcome to confront and mend reality.
‘Prodigal’ by Boey Kim Cheng explores the less-known side of death, in the situation of a son who has lost a father, yet feels no loss. He spotlights the son’s unfeelingness and the reversal of a norm.
While Ariel explores a desolate and oppressive world of black and white where its personae undergo suffering, the collection is ultimately a hopeful and uplifting one of rebirth, represented by the infusion of red that symbolises life, passion and energy. Plath explores how the creative mind imagines the possibility of recovery despite emotional despair, allowing for a redefinition and assertion of the self, reborn through suffering and death. Through the bleakness of a hostile patriarchal society, Plath suggests the hopeful possibility of an empowered female self. As a collection originally beginning with ‘love’ and ending with ‘spring’, Ariel is ultimately hopeful of recovery and renewal, having survived a bleak emotional winter.
With reference to Chapter 7 of Pride and Prejudice, write a critical commentary on Austen’s presentation of character values here and elsewhere in the novel. Austen presents character values as ambiguous to characters who subscribe to societal conventions, by asserting that the welfare of others can be compromised or even sacrificed in the name of…
Write a critical commentary on the following poem, considering in detail the ways in which your response is shaped by the writer’s language, style and form. 2019 JC1 Mid-Year Exam Boats You and your photographs of boats;that repeated metaphor for departure, or simply the possibility of a voyage?What you cannot tell me you tell me with a…