Two children, abandoned by their father and stepmother, are left in a dense forest to find their own way. Sound familiar? Of course it does; everyone knows the story of Hansel and Gretel! But then again, that’s just a fairytale, ain’t it? Ever heard of The True Story of Hansel and Gretel written by Louise Murphy? Well, it’s based on the classic tale, yet it’s combined with war literature to create a haunting novel that’s set during the second World War. These kids renamed themselves “Hansel” and “Gretel” to prevent their real names revealing their true identity as a Jew. They were taken in by a woman called Magda, who was named “witch” by the nearby villagers. Despite her undeserved nickname, this woman is doing everything she can to save and protect the lives of “Hansel” and “Gretel” from the Nazi’s. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel is, as I mentioned before, based on the fairytale, yet the twisted plot, the “witch” as the good guy - or in this case woman - and not exactly a fairytale, but an adult novel, creates a certain irony that men can appreciate. Yet, I think the irony isn’t all. Louise Murphy’s main point in his novel was to tell a riveting story that powerfully depicts how war is experienced by families and especially by children, and by the usage of a classic fairytale it both creates irony and deepens appreciation.
...More Than It's Gonna Hurt You: Concerning Violence
A Clockwork Orange; when someone would ask me for a book containing a lot of violence, that’ll be the first book to come to mind. Violence is a fascinating thing, especially in literature. Violence brings suspense and thrill to plots. A Clockwork Orange is in-and-out violence. According to Thomas C. Foster there two types of violence in literature, specific injury and narrative violence. The first being violence the author causes the characters to inflict on themselves or on others. The second being violence the author introduces to the readers to spicen up the plot more and to harm the characters. What’s the difference? Well, quite a lot. The protagonist in A Clockwork Orange, Alex, is psychologically damaged and basically “needs” violence in his life. He inflicts all kinds of pain on characters, including his “droogs” - the book has its own language with “droog” meaning “friend”. He and his friends steal and torture and rape people just for the fun of it, and that at the age of fifteen. These are examples of specific injury and the effect of this one is that he likes it. He gets off of it. He can’t go without it. One night he breaks into a rich lady’s home and accidentally murders her. Yes, accidentally. Despite her death being on his hands, he never intended to murder anyone. The death of that woman was done specifically by the author to enhance the plot even more. Due to her death, he got locked up in prison, which lead to another death - not directly inflicted by him - and that lead to him getting the so-called Ludovico treatment. After his treatment he gets beaten up by one of his old droogs and arrives at “HOME” that he once terrorized. A man and his wife lived there. He and his squad raped the wife and apparently she passed away afterwards as well. Also caused by the author to spicen up the plot, for if she hadn’t died, the husband wouldn’t rage and go crazy as much as he had when she did die. The effect of narrative violence is to hurt the characters in ways they wouldn’t hurt themselves, to spicen up the plot and make it a more engaging read. I bet Alex didn’t appreciate the author “killing” those characters for him.
It's More Than Just Rain Or Snow
Rain can symbolize purification. It can serve as a cleanse for characters, erasing and wiping away the stains they behold. When I think of rain and purification, the first thing to come to mind is Noah’s Ark. The displeased God unleashed a giant rain storm to wipe away whatever is left of humanity - especially what’s not left - to purify the world from the mistake He made, creating human-life. Because the humans inhabiting such a wonderful world didn’t appreciate what they had and committed many many sins, God decided that it was now time to cleanse the world from its “contaminants”. But, there was a severe consequence of the flood: all organism, innocent and pure, would have to die too. Since God didn’t want to “purify the pure”, he chose a man, Noah, to build a giant arc seven days before he would unleash the flood. In this arc he and his family and a remnant of all the animals in the world would take shelter from the flood, and be saved. After the purification, the animals were saved, and new life could begin with Noah and his family the only human species left.
If She Comes Up, It's Baptism
Losing a loved-one is one of the worst experiences one can ever undergo, especially if it’s your child. Detective Jessica Haider - the protagonist of the book Bloedlijn by Corine Hartman - lost the one thing she held dearest, her son. The killer - he was put in jail after Jessica’s son’s murder - escaped prison and sought revenge - what could be more vengeful to a person than the murder of their child? In the book another murder takes place, which the detective is trying to solve whilst desperately finding the monster that’s hunting and ruining her life. One of the most thrilling scenes in the book was when the detective got kidnapped and brutally tortured by the man she hated most. As she was tied to a chair, the killer kept drowning her. Every single time right before she lost consciousness, he pulled her head out of the water. “This is the end”, she thought. She was giving up. But then, something happened, something magical - I’m not going to spoil anything - and her whole life changed afterwards. She got what she wanted. She gained a completely new perspective. And despite never being able to get her son back, she was finally at peace.
According to Thomas C. Foster, any setting, situation or surrounding pertaining to the character(s) and its/their development would be classified under geography. In Elle s’appelait Sarah by Tatiana de Rosnay, one of the best books I’ve read - I haven’t read many great ones - geography was essential for the book to be what it is. The book contains two main characters, Sarah Starzynski and Julia Jarmond. The book is also divided into two time periods, 1942 during the second World War and the present. The book would be entirely different if the characters didn’t “live” in these time periods, for the whole plot would’ve changed and the writer’s sentiment wouldn’t be as effectively conveyed. Despite the great time gap, both the characters are related. Sarah, a Jewish girl, lived in Paris, but was taken by the Nazi’s together with her parents while her little brother got left behind, locked in the closet by Sarah so the Nazi’s wouldn’t find him. They were sent to the Vélodrome d'Hiver, an enclosed stadium that housed a bicycling track for racing and there she realized the terrible things happening. Her goal was to get back to their house to get her brother out of the closet and that got her out of refugee camps and many other situations. Of course the setting was deeply thought of and there was a reason she lived in France instead of another rival-of-Germany country. Now, why would a woman from the present that’s not family with Sarah be related to her? First of all, Julia is a journalist that lives and Paris, who was asked to write an article in honour of the 60th anniversary of the roundup. Throught her research she discovered more about the people who lived in their apartment who were also taken, the Starzynski family. Without her occupation, also another aspect of geography, the plot would’ve been less practical, for this way she had easy access to information and a so-called “quest”, to write an article. Julia coincidentally married a frenchman whose grandparents and parent lived in the house where the Starzynski family lived before they were taken. If she hadn’t married that man, she never would’ve lived in Paris, in that apartment. She never would’ve found out what really happened to Sarah and to her brother. Now, what díd happen to them? Find out by reading the book.
...So Does Season
In the spring of the year, in the spring of the year, I walked the road beside my dear. The trees were black where the bark was wet. I see them yet, in the spring of the year. He broke me a bough of the blossoming peach That was out of the way and hard to reach.
In the fall of the year, in the fall of the year, I walked the road beside my dear. The rooks went up with a raucous trill. I hear them still, in the fall of the year. He laughed at all I dared to praise, And broke my heart, in little ways.
Year be springing or year be falling, The bark will drip and the birds be calling. There's much that's fine to see and hear In the spring of a year, in the fall of a year. 'Tis not love's going hurt my days. But that it went in little ways.
This poem called The Spring and the Fall by Edna St. Vincent Millay contains two specific seasons, Spring and Fall, to describe the “spring” and the “fall” of a relationship. The poem starts in the Spring emphasizing the feeling of newness, thus indicating that the relationship just began. During the walk the female speaker described her environment with “the trees were black where the bark was wet”. Using the color black could symbolize sadness or regret. But then her lover breaks off a branch with a blossoming peach “that was out of the way and hard to reach”, which I interpreted as romantic and sweet and as if the man cared enough for the woman to put effort into getting her a beautiful flower. But it can be interpreted in a negative and symbolic way as well, for breaking off a blossoming peach could mean that he’s not capable of letting something so beautiful grow into its utmost form - and maybe for their relationship. The second stanza starts off with a season as well, Fall. Then it states that the woman is still walking besides her dear, which is the same as in the spring. This could mean that their relationship is the same as when they first started dating, or that they know that their relationship is starting to “die” but she doesn’t want to give up on it. The poet used Fall appropriately, because in Fall it gets colder and the days get shorter and it symbolized the death of living things. Rooks, or crows, are black birds, usually used to symbolize death - “Black Bird” by the Beatles? The black birds flying away could represent the death of the relationship. “He laughed at all I dared to praise, and broke my heart, in little ways” - what a jerk - means that the man didn’t support what the woman liked, and that he was cruel to her in ways that hurt her feelings. In the last stanza, both the seasons are mentioned, and my interpretation is that the female speaker seems to enjoy the beauty that both seasons hold. “‘Tis not love’s going hurt my days. But that it went in little ways”, which most likely means that the woman wasn’t hurt by the deterioration of their relationship, but that it deteriorated slowly from Spring to Fall and that she had to watch it end. The writer used the seasons effectively, by using their distinct features to describe the fall of the relationship.
Marked For Greatness
Harry Potter’s scar is a mark. A mark left behind by the true evil himself. Why? Because the scar indicates who and what Harry Potter is, “the chosen one” and “the boy who survived”. A lot of heroes have a mark or some sort of physical indication that separates them from the “general” people. And for Harry Potter, it’s the scar on his forehead shaped as a lightning bolt. Harry Potter’s scar symbolizes the sacrifice his parents made in order to save his life when he was just 15 months old. Voldemort, who as I mentioned before, is the true evil in the story that murdered Harry's parents and attempted to murder Harry along with them. But Harry’s parents used the most powerful counter-spell imaginable, love. As Voldemort performed the death spell, the curse backfired, resulting in Voldemort killing himself. But seeing that he’s actually “immortal”, Voldemort’s soul latched onto the nearest living thing, Harry Potter himself, and that’s why the scar appeared. It’s a symbol for love and an indication of Voldemort’s death. Yet, a part of Voldemort lives inside Harry, and that scar is the proof that Harry is the only one that can truly kill Voldemort once and for all.
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