Death of a Salesman: Tragedy versus Social Drama

Death of a Salesman: Tragedy versus Social Drama photo

Lots of critics have debated the tragic dimension of Death of a Salesman. Two levels have often been considered: the notion of genre, by referring to Aristotle's Poetics, and the possibility of a new approach to tragedy, that would be concerned with the response of mankind to rapid technological advance. The generic discussion (from genre) has often borne on an opposition between social drama dealing with the little man as victim of an oppressive, social and economic system, and tragedy […]

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Death of a Salesman: the play's structure, a memory play

Death of a Salesman: the play's structure, a memory play photo

If the external plot of Death of a Salesman may be divided into chronologically organised sequences: Act one (Monday evening and night); Act two (Tuesday), and the requiem a few days after (Willy's burial), the same is not true of the internal plot: Willy's stream of consciousness. In "the inside of Willy's head", past and present are blurred. Memories constantly impinge on present situations and, conversely, the present is put at some distance by the flood of recollections. The past/present […]

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The Great Gatsby: characters and characterization

The Great Gatsby: characters and characterization photo

In the Great Gatsby, characters are not introduced in a traditional way. They are not described in any detail and cannot be studied separately. Thanks to his "ideographic" method of character-portrayal, Fitzgerald suggests one idea through an attitude, a gesture but does not provide a final explanation. It is up to the reader to reconstruct the pieces of the puzzle into a coherent whole. The author's technique is close to the Joycean "signature" when the character is broken down into […]

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The Great Gatsby: the Romantic Quest

The Great Gatsby : the Romantic Quest photo

The term quest immediately calls up the fairy tale motif or the German Märchen (Tieck; Grimm). The quest has been studied by Propp in Morphology of the Folktale. In a tale, the hero attempts to escape from his humble origins to claim a higher ascendency or a royal lineage. James Gatz from North Dakota had never really accepted his parents who were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people : "his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all". […]

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The Great Gatsby: an American novel

The Great Gatsby: an American novel photo

A refracted vision of America The Great Gatsby is like a mirror of the America of the 1920's. America in the Great Gatsby is a fundamental notion and the novel cannot be studied without the historical context of the time. The novel reflects the Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties and the opposition between East and West. The Great Gatsby emphasizes the strange association between materialism and spiritualism, which is crucial to the Puritan ethic. Gatsby is seeking wealth because […]

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Introduction to The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald: from the Lost Prairies to the Realist Jungle

Introduction to The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald : from the Lost Prairies to the Realist Jungle photo

Both the novel and the American society correspond to the beginning of a modern era. America is a direct consequence of the age of reason (18th century). Indeed, the first settlers intended to escape the tyrannical power of absolute monarchs. The novel is also the result of a revolution : social revolution: when the middle-class asserted its cultural autonomy idealogical change that put the single individual at the centre of the world Yet, there are profound contradictions: America did not […]

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An analysis of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Analysis of The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood photo

Introduction Margaret Atwood is a Canadian writer born in 1931, who studied literature in Toronto. In the 1960s, she was a graduate specialist in Harvard and then came back to Canada to teach literature. She was a well-known poet with The Edible Woman (1969), Surfacing (1972), Life before man (1979), The Robber Bride (1993). Margaret Atwood is a very prolific artist, involved in the feminist movement and human rights issues on the international scene. She takes an interest in the […]

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A Midsummer Night's Dream : synopsis

A Midsummer Night's Dream : synopsis photo

Act I Scene 1 Theseus and Hippolyta look ahead to their wedding day, in four days' time. Hermia plans to defy her father and elope with Lysander, but Helena reveals their plan to Lysander's rival, Demetrius. The scene takes place in Athens. The characters are : Duke Theseus Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.  Egeus and his daughter Hermia Two suitors : Lysander and Demetrius Hermia is in love with Lysander. Egeus wants her to marry Demetrius or die. Helena loves […]

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Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee : chapter analysis

Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee : chapter analysis photo

Here is an analysis of each chapter in Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee. A general summary In Cider with Rosie, Laurie Lee recalls his childhood and adolescence. He was one of seven children in a close family headed by his mother : he grew up in England, in a Cotswold village governed by tradition. The book is organised in accord with his own early exploration of his widening world. He examines his infant sensations, his cottage, his yard, his […]

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19th Century Literary Movements : Realism and Naturalism

19th century literary movements : Realism and Naturalism photo

Introduction Realism and Naturalism are a reaction against Romanticism (imagination, poetry and prose, as well as the main themes : nature, exoticism, history, and heroes depicted as exceptional individuals) because it was thought to have lost touch with the contemporary. Three revolutions took place during the 19th century : the industrial revolution, the scientific revolution, and the moral revolution. In Great Britain, the Victorian Era lasted from 1837 to 1901. In the USA, the Civil War lasted from 1861 to […]

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Questions d'orthographe : "1,9 gramme" ou "1,9 grammes" ? "moins de deux heures suffira" ou "moins de deux heures suffiront" ?

Questions d'orthographe : "1, 9 gramme ou 1, 9 grammes" ? "moins de deux heures suffira" ou "moins de deux heures suffiront" ? photo

L'autre soir, tranquillement installés dans le canapé au coin du feu, nous dégustions un bon plateau de fromage et prenions connaissance des résultats de cette vie politique actuellement tourmentée, lorsqu'une question d'orthographe pour le moins brûlante a interrompu notre bouchée de Maroilles. Faut-il écrire: "1,5 million" ou "1,5 millions" ? "1,9 gramme" ou "1,9 grammes" ? Puisque, concernant ce sujet, les articles sont quasiment inexistants sur le web et les grammaires peu prolixes, j'ai compris qu'il était grand temps d'élucider […]

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The 19th Century : Romanticism in Art and Literature

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, an oil painting composed in 1818 by the German Romantic artist Caspar David Friedrich

Definition of Romanticism Romanticism (also the Romantic era or the Romantic period) is an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe toward the end of the 18th century and was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850. Romanticism is characterized by its emphasis on emotion and individualism as well as glorification of all the past and nature, preferring the medieval rather than the classical. It is a reaction to the ideas of the Industrial […]

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