F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ian McEwan, Keats and Coleridge

Exams. I am currently going through the stressful time of year – as many other students are – of what we like to mitigate to be named the ‘exam period.’ I would like to call it a lot more than that, I’ll tell you. But I will restrain myself.

Anyway, due to the lovely exams and their build up, I’ve had to read lots of literature texts which I probably would read normally. They’ve posed their highs and lows – so I am going to review each a little for you and this should count as some form as revision as my English Literature AS exam is tomorrow. Help me.

So, first we read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby. A very small book which I thoroughly enjoyed! I loved how Fitzgerald foreshadows one of the key events throughout the whole novel by repeating car accidents which then leads up to the key part of the plot whereby Daisy kills Myrtle in Gatsby’s car! Scandal!

I also loved how Fitzgerald used the biographical context of prohibition in 1920’s America by using alcohol related adjectives such as “wine coloured carpet.” Similarly, I enjoyed how Fitzgerald chose to eliminate the butler at the parties and instead described the drinks to be “hovering on a tray” rather than regarding the fact a butler would have brought the to them. I think Fitzgerald chose to do this as the characters at the gathering seem to think they are high class (especially Myrtle Wilson) when they perhaps aren’t, as Myrtle Wilson definitely isn’t! As much as I loved the novel, Myrtle did irritate me. And don’t even start me on Tom Buchanan.

I’m not sure how I feel about the love theme of the book. Mainly because I can’t relate to Gatsby’s obsession for Daisy – such as the green light and hosting parties hoping she would show. I admire his determination, but I think he should have shown his willingness more practically instead of from his house. On West Egg. When her house was on East Egg. And she probably didn’t want to party with strangers.

Moving on to John Keats’ La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Lamia and The Eve of St. Agnes. Well, La Belle Dame was my favourite just because it’s short, sweet and full of sex. My class were relatively new to poetry and some oblivious to the euphemisms of “sigh’d full sore” and many of the other references. Which usually lead to the rest of the class shouting “SEX” at them. However, I loved it and the ending was just brilliant. Did I mention it was short?

Lamia was my next favourite – SNAKE DEMON NYMPH THING. I can’t even describe how I felt after the formation from snake demon to woman. Even if it did take an eternity to read, it was cool. Oh, and there was also sex in it. Shocker Keats, absolute shocker.

And last but not least, The Eve of St. Agnes – or as it should be called ‘The Striptease Poem.’

The poem begins with a lovely iambic 9 line Spenserian stanza which ends with an iambic hexameter on the last line of each. This gives it a slow and steady pace as it’s set in the past tense. This is the striptease part. The poem then develops on to get a little bit hot and heavy when the tense changes to present tense to add a sense of immediacy and make the reader feel as though they are also watching Madeline in her chamber as Porphyro is. Then the speed significantly increases as – plot twist – Madeline and Porphyro play monopoly! Or they have sex. Cheers Keats. I wasn’t really feeling this poem, I just like the idea of it being a literary striptease.

Then onto Ian McEwan’s,Enduring Love. Balloon crash, dead men, freaky religious dude falls in love with rational science dude. Science dudes girlfriend gets angry. Gunshots, knifes, stalking and letters. A very good read, but I was having an educational breakdown by this stage. I did like it though. I loved how McEwan used the appendices to refer to himself as theorists “Wenn and Camia.” Clever science man.

And to conclude, crazy opium-addict poet, Mr Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his Rime of the Ancient Mariner in SEVEN parts. Yes, seven.

This poem is wonderful and the imagination required can only be acquired by brilliance… Or opium. I cried at this stage in my educational life a lot and this definitely didn’t help as it was SO LONG. Coleridge was a brilliant guy and I love how this is wrote, but it could be noted as confusing to some younger/older/any readers. But, there are cool zombie pirates in it. That’s cool, right?

So, after tomorrow’s exam, I am going to begin some light reading – probably some Biff, Chip and Kipper to ease my brain after reading all of these weird but wonderful works of literary brilliance.

One year on..

So around a year ago this month, I was in the ‘stress’ of GCSE’s (which doesn’t even relate to my current stress of sixth form) at a terrible school and I was getting ready for my interview at Ripley St Thomas Church of England Academy. Luckily, I achieved the entry requirements to attend the sixth form to study English Literature, English Language, Media Studies and Sociology. It was the best move I ever made.

But this week, I have seen year 11’s timidly walking through the doors of sixth form and loitering around nervously as they await their interview. It just made me think how much I’ve changed as a person over the past year and how they will too hopefully, depending on their grades.

I often question whether or not I made the right decision as I filter through the mountain of coursework that currently dominates my bedroom. Then I realise that nobody ever got anywhere in life without hard work, and if they did, they’re lucky. And I for one, am not particularly lucky. I want to be the one in my family to achieve highly and shock them all when I’m travelling and doing amazing things. I want to be brilliant!

Moral of the story? Well, change is good. Don’t settle for what you think you deserve and reach higher than you ever thought you could. Surround yourself with others who strive to do well, and they will drive you forward, enticing you and ultimately, creating a better person of you.