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Thursday, May 18, y

Lit. Notes For CSEC-

Contemplation Upon Flowers(Death,Nature)-


The persona wishes that he could be as brave

as the flowers, who are aware of
their allegiance to the earth. They know their
place and obey the order, or cycle, of life and
death. The persona wishes that he could be this
way because he is the opposite, he wants to live
forever. The persona wants the flowers to teach
him NOT to fear death, but to accept it.


Stanza 1, line: The persona is wishing
that he could be as brave as the flower.
This implies that the persona does not
think that he is brave, but a coward in
the face of death.

It is ironic that the flowers look so fresh and alive, when they are facing their very
mortality, on the top of a casket. Death is a sad affair, yet the flowers are at their
best when ushering people
back to the earth.

The persona is speaking directly to the flowers and giving them human qualities,
therefore, the whole poem is an example of the use of personification at its best.

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He even goes as far as to as the flowers to teach him things that will allow him to
acquire their qualities.

The mood, or atmosphere of the poem is a pensive one. The persona is thinking
about death, how he relates to it versus how others relate to it.
CONTRAST- contrast in this poem is the persona's fear of death, versus the

flowers' acceptance of it.LITERAL MEANING

OlHigue (Supernatural)-

In this poem, the Ol' Higue / soucouyant tells of her frustration with her lifestyle.
She does not like the fact that she sometimes has to parade around, in the form
of a fireball, without her skin at night. She explains that she has to do this in order
to scare people, as well as to acquire baby blood. She explains that she would
rather acquire this blood via cooked food, like every-one else. Her worst
complaint is the pain of salt, as well as having to count rice grains. She exhibits
some regret for her lifestyle but implies that she cannot resist a baby's smell, as
well as it's pure blood. The 'newness' of the baby tempts the Ol' Higue, and she
cannot resist because she is an old woman who fears death, which can only be
avoided by consuming the babys blood. She affirms her usefulness in the
scheme of things, however, by claiming that she provides mothers with a name
for their fears (this being the death of a child), as well as some-one to blame
when the evil that they wish for their child, in moments of tired frustration, is
realized. She implies that she will never die, so long as women keep having


Cane-fire has a very distinct quality. It burns very quickly and its presence is felt
through its pungent smell. Therefore, when the Ol' Higue compares herself to
cane fire in her fireball state, it implies that she uses a lot of energy quickly, and is
very visible.

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The repetition of the word 'soft' emphasizes the fact that the call of the child's
blood has captured
and beguiled the Ol' Higue'. She implies that she cannot resist that call.

This device emphasizes the Ol' Higue's dependence, even addiction, to the
sweet blood of the baby.

The mood of the poem is reflective.

A Stones Throw(Discrimination,Survival,Hypocrisy)

A crowd has caught a woman. The persona implies to the reader that the woman
is not decent. She was beautiful, but scared because she had gotten 'roughed up'
a little by the crowd. The persona states that the woman has experienced men's
hands on her body before, but this crowd's hands were virtuous. He also makes a
proviso that if this crowd bruises her, it cannot be compared to what
she has experienced before. The persona also speaks about a last assault and
battery to come. He justifies this last assault by calling it justice, and it is justice
that feels not only right, but good. The crowd's 'justice' is placed on hold by the
interruption of a preacher, who stops to talk to the lady. He squats on the
ground and writes something that the crowd cannot see. Essentially, the preacher
judges them, thereby allowing the lady to also judge the crowd, leading to the
crowd inevitably judging itself. The crowd walks away from the lady, still holding
stones [which can be seen as a metaphor for judgments] that can be
thrown another day.


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The persona is making the point that the lady was in fact NOT decent looking.

This device is particularly effective because
the word 'kisses' is used. Kiss implies
something pleasant, but it is
actually utilized to emphasize something
painful that has happened to the lady; she was stoned.

ALLUSION (biblical)
The content of the poem alludes to the story of Mary Magdalene in the Christian

The tone of the poem is mixed. At times it is almost braggadocios, then it
becomes sarcastic, moving to scornful.

Dreaming Black Boy(Racism,Oppression,Survival,Dreams)

The poem is about a black boy who wishes that he could have regular things in
life. Things such as a congratulatory hug, to be educated to the highest level and
to travel without harassment. The persona yearns to stop fighting for the basic
right to be successful and to rise above societal expectations.


The constant repetition of the phrase 'I wish'

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points to a yearning, a desperation even, for the
basic things that life has to offer.

Stanza 1, lines 6 and 7, alludes to
slavery, the state of lacking control over
one's own life and destiny.

The tone/mood of the poem is one of sadness. The persona is thinking about
how he is treated and he reacts to this in a sad way. He keeps wishing that things
were different.

Dulce er Decorum Est (War, death, survival, oppression, patriotism)

Wilfred Owen, the poet, tells of his first hand experience in war. He tells the tale
of tired and wounded soldiers walking through dirt and sludge. Suddenly, there is
a warning about gas, which the soldiers hurriedly and awkwardly heed by

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donning their helmets. Unfortunately, one soldier is too late in donning the helmet
and his companions watch him 'drowning' in the gas. The unfortunate soldier was
thrown in the back of a wagon, where it is implied that he was left to die. The
persona points out that if you (the reader/ listener) could have witnessed these
events, then you would not tell children the old lie: dulce et decorum est pro patria
mori (It is sweet and honourable to die for ones country).


Stanza 1, line 1: This simile
introduces the exhaustion of the soldiers.(like old beggars under sacks)

Stanza 1, line 2: This emphasizes not only the tiredness of the soldiers, but
the fact that they might be sick as well.coughing like hags, we cursed through

Stanza 1, line 7: This device points to the level of fatigue that the soldiers were

The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona/ poet is thinking about his
experiences in WW1.

The general toneof the poem is both sarcastic and ironic. The persona/ poet tries
to present a visual of the realities of war while using the haunting words that
contradict that reality. It is, in fact, NOT sweet and honourable to die for one's

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Forgive My Guilt(Death,Nature,Guilt)

An adult is reminiscing about a traumatic childhood experience. The persona
went hunting and shot two birds, plovers.He suffers extreme guilt about this
action in adulthood. The poem describes the event, the actions of the bird, how
he reacts, and, by the last line, asks the birds to forgive his guilt.



Line 8:The sand is being compared to gold, the colour. It is emphasizing how
beautiful the setting was.

Line 12: This metaphor emphasizes the injuries that the birds sustained. The
bones are compared to jagged ivory, which is a direct contrast to the smooth
feathers that existed before the injury.


Line 5: The air and the flowers are being compared, both are blue.

The mood of the poem is nostalgia and guilt.

The tone of the poem is sad. The poet's response to his guilt is sadness.

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It is the Constant Image of your Face-

(Love, guilt, patriotism, places, desires/ dreams)

The persona reflects on the image of someone he cares for. This love interest
accused him, with their eyes, of breaking their heart.The persona admits that
both of them (he and the love interest) can make no excuses for his behaviour
because the love interest does not take precedence over his land, or country.
Despite this fact, the persona begs for mercy, pleading guilty for being seduced
by his love interest's beauty. This person protects him dearly and he admits that,
as a result of this, he has committed treason against his country. He hopes that
his country, his other dearest love, will pardon him because he loves both his
country and his love interest.


Lines 4, 6-7: The love interest's eyes constantly accuses and convicts the
persona. This device highlights the extent to which the persona has hurt this

The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about his two loves
and how he is torn between them.


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The tone of the poem is sadness and guilt. The persona is guilt ridden over this
love triangle and sadness permeates the words that he uses to describe it.

Le Loupgarou-(Supernatural)

This poem tells the tale of old LeBrun, a man that was rumoured by the
townspeople to be a loupgarou. Old women would relax under leaves and gossip
about Le Brun, while literally shutting him out of their lives with their closing
windows. The prevailing gossip, in this poem, is that he transformed into a
hound one night, but was dealt a wound by his own watchman. He then lugged
his entrails back to his doorstep, almost dead.


Line 5: This literary device speaks to the results of the gossip. Le Brun is
alienated from the people of the town. Their fascination with him, however, is
evident by the fact that they slowly shut their jalouses/windows. The lack of
speed implies that they are watching him, while also alienating him.

It is ironic that Le Brun's own watchman dealt him a lethal blow.

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The mood of the poem is reflective.

The tone of the poem is calm and reflective. The persona appears to be simply
recounting a piece of gossip.

Once Upon A Time-(childhood exp.,hypocrisy,desire/dreams.)


A father is talking to his son and telling him how things used to be. The father
tells his son that people used to be sincere, but are now superficial and seek only
to take from others. The persona tells his son that he has learnt to be just like
these people, but he does not want to be. He wants to be as sincere as his son.



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The people's eyes are as cold as ice. This means that there is no warmth or real
feeling in the words that they say, or how they behave.This metaphor literally
allows you to visualize a block of ice, cold and unwelcoming.

This phrase is repeated at the beginning and the end of the poem. This usually
signals the
beginning of a fairy tale. Therefore, it is implied that the persona is nostalgic
about the past.

The mood of the poem is nostalgic. The persona is remembering how things
used to be when he was young and innocent, like his son.

The tone of the poem is sad. The poet's response to his nostalgia is sadness.

Orchirds-(Death, nature, survival, desire/ dreams.)

The persona is moving from a house that she has occupied for five weeks. She
has sent her belongings to her future home, but one item remains in her old
space, an orchid. The persona clarifies that she was given the orchid as a gift,
but implies that it holds no value because the gifting of orchids is habitual for the

Thursday, May 18, y
person who gave her. She describes the flower as odourless, but attractive. She
watered the orchid once, expecting it to die, but it survived. It not only survived,
but bloomed. The persona contemplates plucking the bloom and pressing
it between the pages of a book. The purpose of this is to allow her to appreciate
the flower.


The orchid's full blown blossoms are being compared to a polished poem. The
word polished in this comparison implies perfection,shiny and pleasant to read.

The purple heart literally refers to the splash of color in the center of the orchid's
bloom, but it could also refer to the bravery of the flower. This is so because a
purple heart, in the army, is a medal that a soldier receives for bravery.

The mood of the poem is pensive, or thoughtful. The persona is thinking about
the lack of value that she places in the orchid.

The tone of the poem is one of almost bored musing.

Sonnet Composed Upon A Westminster Bridge, September

3, 1802(Nature,Places)

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The persona in this poem is reflecting on the perfection of the city. He believes
that there is nothing on Earth so beautiful as the city in the morning. Only a dull
person would not appreciate such a majestic sight. He is awed by the calm of the


The persona compares the manner in which the beauty of the morning settles
over the city, to that of a garment on a body. This emphasizes the perfection of
the beauty of the morning, just as a garment flows smoothly over a body.

Lines 9-10: The sun is referred to as a male who rises sharply and beautifully.
This emphasizes the beauty of the city in the morning. The use of this
personification also helps the reader to personalize this beauty.

The mood of the poem is pensive, or thoughtful. The persona is expressing his
thoughts, and reaction to, the city in the morning.

The tone of the poem is one of awe.

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South(Patriotism, places, desires and dreams)


The persona speaks about the fact that today he is recapturing the beauty of the
island of his birth. He reflects on the fact that he has travelled to the lands of the
north, which appeared to be the very opposite of his island. The persona
appeared, at that point, to be homesick for his island and resented the ease
and comfort that the Northerners' felt towards their land. He then shifts back to
the present where he appreciates certain features of the island, particularly those
that remind him of his past on the island.


Stanza 1, lines 6-7: This device gives a beautiful impression of the effect that the
island had on the persona. He felt whole when he was there, at peace.

The persona compares the flowing of the rivers, which represents the north, to
his longing for his island home. This comparison indicates that his longing is an
intense one, he is homesick.

The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about his island
home, as well as places that he has visited in the north.


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The tone of the poem goes from being reflective, to being elated.

Test Match Sabina Park(Discrimination, places, culture and sports)

The persona, a white male, proudly enters Sabina Park to watch a cricket match
between England and the West Indies. The persona notices that the game is
slow and that the crowd is not reacting well. He is, in fact, initially shocked that
there is a crowd at all because this is usually not the case at
Lords. By lunch, England is sixty eight for none, and the crowd gets abusive.
They even state that maybe they should borrow Lawrence Rowe.The persona
tries to explain the reason behind the slow pace of the British side, but fails to
convince even himself. His embarrassment at England's performance has him
eventually skulking out of the venue.


The allusion to Lawrence Rowe, a very colourful and successful West Indian
cricketer,emphasizes the fact that the match is slow and boring.

To 'boycott' is to abstain from, or to stop, doing something. Therefore, the
persona is being sarcastic because excitement is a good thing. People usually

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boycott for something negative,therefore the persona is, again, highlighting the
slow and boring pace of the cricket match.

The mood of the poem is tense.

The tone of the poem is one of frustration (West Indian) and embarrassment
(English man).

The Woman Speaks to the Man Who Has Employed Her Son
(Death, love, survival, desires/ dreams, childhood experiences.

The persona in this poem is telling the story of a mother who loved her son. The
mother became aware of the child's presence when she experienced morning
sickness. She placed all her hopes in the child and raised him as a single parent
because his father was indifferent to the child's existence. The mother had set no
barriers on what the child could become, but is told that he has an employer who
values him so much that he is given his own submarine gun. The son tells his
mother that his employer is like a father to him, but the mother wonders at the
father figure who purposefully endangers his child. She prepares for her son's
death by going downtown to buy funeral apparel. The mother feels powerless, so
she prays for her child and says protective psalms for him. On the other hand,
she reads psalms of retribution for the employer and weeps for her son. Her

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situation does not look good and is likened to a partner system in which she
draws both the first and the last hand.


The persona appears to praise the child's father by referring to him as 'fair-
minded'. She is,however, chastising him for not only ignoring his son, but all of his
other children.

IRONY (situational)
The son innocently tells his mother that his employer values him so much that he
gave him a whole submachine gun for himself. The irony in this situation is that if
you really care about someone, you do NOT give them a gun due to the negative
results that are bound to occur.

The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about a mother's
response to her son's life choices.

The tone of the poem is pragmatic and pessimistic. The persona is telling the tale
as it is, with no positive energy.

West Indies U.S.A(Discrimination, oppression, places, culture.)

The persona is travelling in a plane, looking down at San Juan, Puerto Rico, as
the plane descends. He is saying that this island is the wealthiest in the
Caribbean because it has won the jackpot, it has come up lucky. He then points
out that he, and others, had travelled to many Caribbean islands and received a
hint of the flavour of each island through it's calling card, - its airport - all of which

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fail when compared to plush San Juan. As they land, they are instructed to stay
on the plane if their destination is not San Juan. The persona takes offence and
states that America does not want blacks in San Juan, implying that they might
be a disruptive force. He notes the efficiency with which things flow, enabling
them to take to the skies once more. During the ascent, the persona notes the
contrast between the influences of the Caribbean and America. He likens San-
Juan to a broken TV, it Iooks good on the outside, but broken on the inside.


Line 2: Puerto Rico is compared to dice that is tossed on a casinos baize,

it can either come up with winning numbers, or losing numbers. Puerto Rico
comes up with winning numbers in the game of chance, as reflected in its wealthy
exterior, which is supported by America.

Line 5: Dallas is an oil rich state in America. Therefore, many of its inhabitants
are wealthy, and the state itself, is wealthy. By stating that San Juan is the Dallas
of the West Indies, it implies that it is a wealthy island in the West Indies.

The mood of the poem is sarcastic.

The tone of the poem is slightly bitter, which is fueled by the sarcastic

Theme For English B(Racism, places)

The persona's lecturer gave him an assignment to write a page that reflects 'him',

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or his character. The persona wonders if this is a simple task, and begins to think
about his life. Things like his age, place of birth, race and place of residence.
Based on these musings, he surmises that he is confused due to his youth. He
guesses that he is what he feels, sees and hears, which is Harlem, New York. He
continues his musing about what he likes, and concludes that he likes the same
things that people of other races like. On this basis, he questions whether or not
his page will be influenced by race. He concludes that it will not be white. He
admits that his instructor, as well as the fact that this instructor is white, will have
some influence on his page. He states that they both influence each other, that is
what being American is about. He believes that both of them might not want to
influence each other, but it cannot be helped. He concludes that both of them
will learn from each other, despite the fact that the instructor has the advantage of
being older, white and 'more free'. All of these musings and conclusions become
his page for English B.


Stanza 2, line 6: The persona ponders the ease of what he is asked to do.This
question, in turn, actually highlights the difficult nature of the task.

This repetition emphasizes the profound impact that Harlem, New York, has had
on the personality of the persona

The mood of the poem is reflective.

The tone of the poem is also reflective.

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This is the Dark Time My Love

In this poem Mr.Carter, a Guyanese, describes the arrival of the British troops in
what used to be British Guiana at the time of independence. Our narrator is
engaged in conversation with his lover, referring to the invading soldiers
-the brown beetles and the effect of their presence on the country. He
sees the soldiers bringing death with them and destroying the dreams of
innocent people.The repetition of the line This is the dark time, my love
emphasizes on what a dreadful and fearful time it was. They were almost
there, almost free of the British hold.Even Mother Nature herself was aware
of the struggle: The shining sun is hidden in the sky. Red flowers bend
their heads in awful sorrow


'Red flowers bend their heads.....' this is to show that flowers/nature is feeling

the pain.
'dark metals' represents the guns.
'hidden sun in the sky' symbolizes the hidden hope of the people.

OXYMORONS- 'carnival of misery' and ' festival of guns'

REPITITION- 'this is the dark time my love' is seen in the title stanza one and
stanza two. It is repeated so as to emphasize the oppresion (dark time) of his
country (my love).

Stanza one and two talk about the threat while stanza three tries to define or find
out what is that threat. The questions of stanza three show uncertainty of the
people of Guyana.

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'Man of death' and 'crush their dreams' is talking about the invaders trying to stop
them from being free.

TONE- the tone of the whole poem is one of warning.

A Lesson for This Sunday by Derek Walcott

The title of the poem hints that its focus is on a lesson to be learnt in the poem.
The poem is about mans cruelty to nature. The persona is lying on his hammock,
relaxing and enjoying the tranquility and beauty of nature. Suddenly, the
personas interaction with this paradise is interrupted by small children in stanza
two. They chase and are successful in catching a butterfly, disemboweling it
before their maid takes them away. In the last stanza, the persona has lost his
peace of mind and comments on the inevitability that man will be cruel to nature.
The poem is written in free verse. The first stanza describes the relaxation on a
Sunday, the second describes what disturbed the persona and the last has the
persona reflecting on the lesson learnt. The lesson being that man is cruel to
nature, so much so that it can be said it is natural to him.


Simile- Frail as a flower in this blue August air.

Simile- Frowning like a serious lepidopterist.
Imagery- The growing idleness of summer grass.
Imagery- Of two small children hunting yellow wings.


The mood of the poem is contemplative and introspective as the

persona questions human nature and the morality of children

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Death Came to see me in Hot Pink Pants-(Death)

In the first stanza, the persona is recollecting on a dream he
experienced the previous night. He is visited by the personified Death
wearing hot-pink pants/and matching waistcoatThe use of the saga
boy shows the deceptive appearance of death. On the outside, the
saga boy is well dressed, has many women, has a good time and
seems to be enjoying life. In reality, he is a selfish person who only
cares about his own enjoyment, he cannot be The poem seems to be
making the point that no matter what guise death may appear in, the
result is always the same. No-one can ultimately escape deaths
reachDeath, then, appears in an unusual garb in this poem, laughing
and is even described as beautiful. However, behind the cheerful
exterior he is also frightening and inexorable as he lunges for the
speakers throat, while the speaker tries to fight him off. This kind of
personification is maybe used to show that death can come in some
kind of disguise, and may not be recognized for what it really is at

Because I could not stop for Death


The speaker describes her own funeral. She imagines that Death
comes like a courteous gentleman to take her away in a carriage. She
is dressed in soft, flimsy fabric, and together they drive past places she
has known for her life. Her grave seems to her to be not much more
than a swelling of the ground, and with mild surprise she realizes that
she has indeed died, and the horses heads are toward Emily.

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Julius Caesar-
Character Analysis-
Brutus - A supporter of the republic who believes strongly in a
government guided by the votes of senators. While Brutus loves
Caesar as a friend, he opposes the ascension of any single man
to the position of dictator, and he fears that Caesar aspires to
such power. Brutuss inflexible sense of honor makes it easy for
Caesars enemies to manipulate him into believing that Caesar
must die in order to preserve the republic. While the other
conspirators act out of envy and rivalry, only Brutus truly
believes that Caesars death will benefit Rome. Unlike Caesar,
Brutus is able to separate completely his public life from his
private life; by giving priority to matters of state, he epitomizes
Roman virtue. Torn between his loyalty to Caesar and his
allegiance to the state, Brutus becomes the tragic hero of the
Julius Caesar - A great Roman general and senator, recently returned to

Rome in triumph after a successful military campaign. While his good

friend Brutus worries that Caesar may aspire to dictatorship over the
Roman republic, Caesar seems to show no such inclination, declining the
crown several times. Yet while Caesar may not be unduly power-hungry,
he does possess his share of flaws. He is unable to separate his public
life from his private life, and, seduced by the populaces increasing
idealization and idolization of his image, he ignores ill omens and threats
against his life, believing himself as eternal as the North Star.
Antony - A friend of Caesar. Antony claims allegiance to Brutus and the

conspirators after Caesars death in order to save his own life. Later,
however, when speaking a funeral oration over Caesars body, he
spectacularly persuades the audience to withdraw its support of Brutus

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and instead condemn him as a traitor. With tears on his cheeks and
Caesars will in his hand, Antony engages masterful rhetoric to stir the
crowd to revolt against the conspirators. Antonys desire to exclude
Lepidus from the power that Antony and Octavius intend to share hints at
his own ambitious nature.

Women and Wives

While one could try to analyze Calpurnia and Portia as full characters in their own
right, they function primarily not as sympathetic personalities or sources of insight
or poetry but rather as symbols for the private, domestic realm. Both women
plead with their husbands to be more aware of their private needs and feelings
(Portia in Act II, scene i; Calpurnia in Act III, scene ii). Caesar and Brutus rebuff
the pleas of their respective wives, however; they not only prioritize public matters
but also actively disregard their private emotions and intuitions. As such,
Calpurnia and Portia are powerless figures, willing though unable to help and
comfort Caesar and Brutus.
Omens and Portents
Throughout the play, omens and portents manifest themselves, each
serving to crystallize the larger themes of fate and misinterpretation of
signs. Until Caesars death, each time an omen or nightmare is reported,
the audience is reminded of Caesars impending demise. The audience
wonders whether these portents simply announce what is fated to occur or
whether they serve as warnings for what might occur if the characters do
not take active steps to change their behavior. Whether or not individuals
can affect their destinies, characters repeatedly fail to interpret the omens
correctly. In a larger sense, the omens in Julius Caesar thus imply the
dangers of failing to perceive and analyze the details of ones world.
The motif of letters represents an interesting counterpart to the force of oral
rhetoric in the play. Oral rhetoric depends upon a direct, dialogic interaction
between speaker and audience: depending on how the listeners respond to

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a certain statement, the orator can alter his or her speech and intonations
accordingly. In contrast, the power of a written letter depends more fully on
the addressee; whereas an orator must read the emotions of the crowd, the
act of reading is undertaken solely by the recipient of the letter. Thus, when
Brutus receives the forged letter from Cassius in Act II, scene i, the letter
has an effect because Brutus allows it to do so; it is he who grants it its full
power. In contrast, Caesar refuses to read the letter that Artemidorus tries
to hand him in Act III, scene i, as he is heading to the Senate. Predisposed
to ignore personal affairs, Caesar denies the letter any reading at all and
thus negates the potential power of the words written inside.

Public Self versus Private Self

Much of the plays tragedy stems from the characters neglect of private
feelings and loyalties in favor of what they believe to be the public good.
Similarly, characters confuse their private selves with their public selves,
hardening and dehumanizing themselves or transforming themselves into
ruthless political machines. Brutus rebuffs his wife, Portia, when she pleads
with him to confide in her; believing himself to be acting on the peoples will,
he forges ahead with the murder of Caesar, despite their close friendship.
Brutus puts aside his personal loyalties and shuns thoughts of Caesar the
man, his friend; instead, he acts on what he believes to be the publics
wishes and kills Caesar the leader, the imminent dictator. Cassius can be
seen as a man who has gone to the extreme in cultivating his public
persona. Caesar, describing his distrust of Cassius, tells Antony that the
problem with Cassius is his lack of a private lifehis seeming refusal to
acknowledge his own sensibilities or to nurture his own spirit. Such a man,
Caesar fears, will let nothing interfere with his ambition. Indeed, Cassius
lacks all sense of personal honor and shows himself to be a ruthless

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First Scene
Although the play opens with Flavius and Murellus noting the fickle nature
of the publics devotionthe crowd now celebrates Caesars defeat of
Pompey when once it celebrated Pompeys victoriesloyalty to Caesar
nonetheless appears to be growing with exceptional force. Caesars power
and influence are likewise strong: Flavius and Murellus are later punished
for removing the decorations from Caesars statues.

Fate Versus Free Will

Julius Caesar raises many questions about the force of fate in life versus
the capacity for free will. Cassius refuses to accept Caesars rising power
and deems a belief in fate to be nothing more than a form of passivity or
cowardice. He says to Brutus: Men at sometime were masters of their
fates. / The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves, that we
are underlings Cassius urges a return to a more noble, self-possessed
attitude toward life, blaming his and Brutuss submissive stance not on a
predestined plan but on their failure to assert themselves.Ultimately, the
play seems to support a philosophy in which fate and freedom maintain a
delicate coexistence. Thus Caesar declares: It seems to me most strange
that men should fear, / Seeing that death, a necessary end, / Will come
when it will come (II.ii.3537). In other words, Caesar recognizes that

Thursday, May 18, y
certain events lie beyond human control; to crouch in fear of them is to
enter a paralysis equal to, if not worse than, death. It is to surrender any
capacity for freedom and agency that one might actually possess. Indeed,
perhaps to face death head-on, to die bravely and honorably, is Caesars
best course: in the end, Brutus interprets his and Cassiuss defeat as the
work of Caesars ghostnot just his apparition, but also the force of the
peoples devotion to him, the strong legacy of a man who refused any fear
of fate and, in his disregard of fate, seems to have transcended it.

FORESHADOWING The play is full of omens, including lightning and

thunder, the walking dead, and lions stalking through the city (I.iii).
Additionally, the Soothsayer warns Caesar to beware the Ides of March
(I.ii); Calpurnia dreams that she sees Caesars statue running with blood
(II.ii); and Caesars priests sacrifice animals to the gods only to find that the
animals lack hearts (II.ii)all foreshadow Caesars impending murder and
the resulting chaos in Rome. Caesars ghost visits Brutus prior to the battle
(IV.ii), and birds of prey circle over the battlefield in sight of Cassius (V.i);
both incidents foreshadow Caesars revenge and the victory of Antony and

Things Fall Apart-

Okonkwo, the son of the effeminate and lazy Unoka, strives to make his
way in a world that seems to value manliness. In so doing, he rejects
everything for which he believes his father stood. Unoka was idle, poor,

Thursday, May 18, y
profligate, cowardly, gentle, and interested in music and conversation.
Okonkwo consciously adopts opposite ideals and becomes productive,
wealthy, thrifty, brave, violent, and adamantly opposed to music and
anything else that he perceives to be soft, such as conversation and
emotion. He is stoic to a fault.Okonkwo achieves great social and financial
success by embracing these ideals. He marries three women and fathers
several children. Nevertheless, just as his father was at odds with the
values of the community around him, so too does Okonkwo find himself
unable to adapt to changing times as the white man comes to live among
the Umuofians. As it becomes evident that compliance rather than violence
constitutes the wisest principle for survival, Okonkwo realizes that he has
become a relic, no longer able to function within his changing society.
Okonkwo is a tragic hero in the classical sense: although he is a superior
character, his tragic flawthe equation of manliness with rashness, anger,
and violencebrings about his own destruction. Okonkwo is gruff, at times,
and usually unable to express his feelings (the narrator frequently uses the
word inwardly in reference to Okonkwos emotions). But his emotions are
indeed quite complex, as his manly values conflict with his unmanly
ones, such as fondness for Ikemefuna and Ezinma. The narrator privileges
us with information that Okonkwos fellow clan members do not havethat
Okonkwo surreptitiously follows Ekwefi into the forest in pursuit of Ezinma,
for exampleand thus allows us to see the tender, worried father beneath
the seemingly indifferent exterior.


Thursday, May 18, y
Nwoye, Okonkwos oldest son, struggles in the shadow of his powerful,
successful, and demanding father. His interests are different from
Okonkwos and resemble more closely those of Unoka, his grandfather. He
undergoes many beatings, at a loss for how to please his father, until the
arrival of Ikemefuna, who becomes like an older brother and teaches him a
gentler form of successful masculinity. As a result, Okonkwo backs off, and
Nwoye even starts to win his grudging approval. Nwoye remains conflicted,
however: though he makes a show of scorning feminine things in order to
please his father, he misses his mothers stories.With the unconscionable
murder of Ikemefuna, however, Nwoye retreats into himself and finds
himself forever changed. His reluctance to accept Okonkwos masculine
values turns into pure embitterment toward him and his ways. When
missionaries come to Mbanta, Nwoyes hope and faith are reawakened,
and he eventually joins forces with them. Although Okonkwo curses his lot
for having borne so effeminate a son and disowns Nwoye, Nwoye appears
to have found peace at last in leaving the oppressive atmosphere of his
fathers tyranny.

The Struggle Between Change and Tradition

As a story about a culture on the verge of change Things Fall Apart deals
with how the prospect and reality of change affect various characters. The
tension about whether change should be privileged over tradition often
involves questions of personal status. Okonkwo, for example, resists the
new political and religious orders because he feels that they are not manly
and that he himself will not be manly if he consents to join or even tolerate
them. To some extent, Okonkwos resistance of cultural change is also due
to his fear of losing societal status. His sense of self-worth is dependent
upon the traditional standards by which society judges him. This system of
evaluating the self inspires many of the clans outcasts to embrace
Christianity. Long scorned, these outcasts find in the Christian value system

Thursday, May 18, y
a refuge from the Igbo cultural values that place them below everyone else.
In their new community, these converts enjoy a more elevated status.

Varying Interpretations of Masculinity

Okonkwos relationship with his late father shapes much of his violent and
ambitious demeanor. He wants to rise above his fathers legacy of
spendthrift, indolent behavior, which he views as weak and therefore
effeminate. This association is inherent in the clans languagethe narrator
mentions that the word for a man who has not taken any of the expensive,
prestige-indicating titles is agbala, which also means woman. But, for the
most part, Okonkwos idea of manliness is not the clans. He associates
masculinity with aggression and feels that anger is the only emotion that he
should display. For this reason, he frequently beats his wives, even
threatening to kill them from time to time. We are told that he does not think
about things, and we see him act rashly and impetuously. Yet others who
are in no way effeminate do not behave in this way. Obierika, unlike
Okonkwo, was a man who thought about things. Whereas Obierika
refuses to accompany the men on the trip to kill Ikemefuna, Okonkwo not
only volunteers to join the party that will execute his surrogate son but also
violently stabs him with his machete simply because he is afraid of
appearing weak.

Thursday, May 18, y

There is a great deal of tradition surrounding the kola nut. It seems to be a
key aspect of being a welcoming host. The kola nut tradition is yet another
way of communicating respectOne custom used to show politeness and
sophistication is to talk learnedly in pithy proverbs and to approach ones
intended topic only slowly and discreetlyFrom Okonkwos unalarmed
reaction, we can assume that the ogene drum is used regularly to convey
messages from distant villages. This tradition gives the messages a sort of
exotic and mysterious quality, as well as simultaneously letting the whole
village know that there is news. It is customary to make animal sacrifices to
the earth goddess when planting crops. Yet again, ritual is used to
communicate respect, in this case to the earth goddess who has control
over the success of the yamsThe people who convert to Christianity
suddenly have a change of heart on all the customs that they have grown
up following. Everything related to the old ways of the Umuofia suddenly
seem bad to themThe capture and ransom of Umuofias leaders disrupts
the fabric of life so much that the villagers do not continue their customary
nightly activities. They stay in their huts, immobilized by fear and confusion.

Thursday, May 18, y
Such an offense has never been committed against their leaders and the
villagers dont know how to react.