Practice essay #1

  • Analyse how one or more ideas were used to comment on an aspect of human nature.

Human nature is one of the many things that define why humans do what they do. Prejudice is an aspect of human nature that we can’t really control, everybody talks about how we shouldn’t “judge a book by its cover” and that we should “really get to know someone before we judge”, but we all know that we can’t help it. If you saw Frankensteins creature walking down the street I bet you would run and hide as fast as you could because “he’s hideous, and therefore dangerous”? Well we are definitely shown how Frankenstein, Society and the De Lacey family comment on the aspect of prejudice in the gothic novel ‘Frankenstein’. 

Victor Frankenstein is one of the main reasons that the creature becomes a monster, and this was all because of human nature and judging someone or something before you even give it a chance. In the novel, Victor completes his long time goal of creating a creature from the dead, once he comes to life we are shown Victors true feelings towards his creation. Victor displays instant regret towards the creature, leaving him to fend on his own in a world he does not know. The quote “How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wreath whom with such infante pains and care, I had endeavored to form.” Shows me that Victor did not like the result and is scared and disgusted at what he sees. Prejudice is the main reason that Victor left the creature to die because he didn’t like what he saw, he was threatened but the creature and he did not want to give it a chance because of the regret and disgust he felt for the creature. 

Society also impacts on the creatures feelings as prejudice is shown more than once though out the novel. The first interaction that the creature has with society is not very welcoming, he is threatened and crushed by society as they instantly thought he was dangerous. “I was benevolent and good, misery made me a fiend.” This quote is said by the creature stating how his negative experiences with society made him do what he did, this is also an aspect showing how nurture influences a creature. Saying ‘misery made me a fiend’ implies that because society treated him horrible / miserable he then copied their actions, that it is their fault. Another example of how society judged the creature before giving him a chance is later on in the story when the creature is walking thought the forest and sees a little kid drowning in the river. He rushes over to to save the child but is mistaken by a human walking past, swapping what is really happening to what the humans really believe a monster like him would do. The creature is then shot at by the human and turned away once again by society just because they don’t like the way he looks. The man walking past saw the creature and didn’t think twice about what was really happening, he saw that he looked unnatural and instantly judged him by his appearance. 

The last idea that comments on the aspect of prejudice is the De Lacey family. In the novel most characters assume that the creature must be dangerous based on his appearance, but what they don’t know is that the creature was originally warm, open-hearted and just wanted to be loved. The only character who accepts the creature is a blind man, De Lacey. The man cannot see the creature and therefore is blinded by its own prejudice, he sees who the creature truly is and the creature feels loved for once. The blind man sympathises with the creature as mankind has been so cruel. Everything is going good for the creature as he has found someone who accepts him, this is until the rest of the De Lacey family comes home and sees the creature as a monster just as all the others. He is again treated like dirt and rejected by mankind, this is a turning point for the creature, as he becomes the monster that manning see him to be.  

In Mary Shelleys novel Frankenstein, she wants the reader to understand how the creatures life was turned upside down because of the people around him. Mary comments on the aspect of human nature, prejudice, more than once. We are told how Frankenstein abandons the creature because of his instant regret and scared feelings toward the creature, also how society assaulted and rejected him because of his difference in looks. We are also told how the creature was once accepted by a blind man that could not see what the others where seeing, to then be turned down again by the rest of the family. If only we were all blind then prejudice would not be a problem. 

Wide Reading – The Fall of the House of Usher

The Fall of the House of Usher written by Edgar Allan Poe tells a story of an unnamed narrator and his experience with his strange and mysterious boyhood friend Roderick Usher. In this short story there are common gothic elements experienced, such as dark settings and feelings that relate with the house and its atmosphere. The creepy personality of the house and the mysterious sickness that effects Madeline and causes strange behaviour.

‘On a dark and soundless day’ the narrator approaches the evil and diseased atmosphere that surrounds the house of Usher. The narrator finds the outside of the house to be rundown, haunted, evil and the inside of the house to be just as spooky. Once he finds Roderick the narrator notices that he is paler and less energetic than he once was, which is a common trait found in gothic protagonists. Roderick suffers from an “acuteness of the senses,” hyper-sensitivity to light, sound, taste, and sensations he feels that he will die of the fear he experiences. Roderick seems afraid of his own house and his sister Madeline, who is very ill with a mysterious sickness that causes her the loss of control of her limbs that the doctors cannot reverse. Madeline then dies and Roderick decides to bury her temporarily in the tomb below the house, so the doctors don’t find her and dig up her body for scientific examination, since her disease was so strange and uncommon in thought days. Roderick becomes even more uneasy after his sister dies and one night the they both cannot sleep. The narrator decides to read to Roderick to pass the spooky night away. As he reads he hears real life noises that are being described in the story. At first he ignores these sounds, thinking that it is his imagination but they become more distinct and he can no longer ignore them. He also notices that Roderick has slumped over in his chair and is muttering to himself. The narrator approaches Roderick and listens to what he is saying. Roderick reveals that he has been hearing these sounds for days, and believes that they have buried Madeline alive and that she is trying to escape. The wind then blows open the door and Madeline stands there in her blood covered white robes. She attacks Roderick as the life drains from her, and he dies of fear. As the narrator escapes, the entire house cracks along the walls and eventually crumbles to the ground. Therefore the fall of the house of Usher.

“With the first glimpse of the building, a sense of insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable” The narrator says that he feels shadows are following him, he gets a dark chill as soon as he sights the house. The atmosphere created in this short story is very unsettling and dark. Poe describes the characters as if they cannot move and act freely in the house because of its structure, so when reading this story I assumed that the house has a monstrous character of its own and is controlling the people inside. “I entered the Gothic archway of the hall. A valet, of stealthy step, thence conducted me, in silence, through many dark and intricate passages in my progress to the studio of his master.” In this quote the narrator is stating that Roderick is the ‘master’ of the house, like he is controlling it. During the whole time that the narrator is in the house of Usher he is constantly looking over his shoulder, cannot sleep and is paranoid about what is happening with Madeline. It is like he is trapped in the mind of the house and he cannot escape until the house of Usher collapses completely.

The main terror that I got from the story is the vagueness, we cannot say for sure if this story is true of just a dream for the narrator. We are told that he is great boyhood friends with Roderick but he does not know that much about him, he didn’t even know he had a twin sister. We know that he was asked to come and help Roderick but there was not much background information to why. When I was reading this story I struggled to understand what was going on, because of the large words and brief explanation of where the scenes were going on.

I thought this was an interesting story to read, as are most of Edgar Allan Poes works. I often found it quite hard to understand and take in what Poe was trying to get across because of the language used 200 years ago when this was written, but this adds another layer of uncertainty to the reader as we are not 100 percent sure what is happening and whats going to happen. Overall this is a brilliant story as is displays features that every good gothic piece should have, it creates the right tones and moods, has a dark uncertainty about the story line and that characters hold elements that are often shown in gothic protagonists. 


Nature vs Nurture

Do you every sit around comparing yourself to you siblings or even your closest friends, wondering why we are so different or so alike. Wondering how this happens and what causes you to act differently to others in some situations. The nature vs nurture debate is one of the oldest arguments in the history of psychology. How much of humans behaviours, ideas, and feelings are innate, and how much is through experience? People have been asking questions for years wondering if aspects of behaviour are either inherited or obtained.  

Nature supports the idea that our traits are influenced by genes and biological factors, these impact on not only our physical appearance but some of our personality characteristics. Nature is whats passed down in your family, the genes that your parents give you so thats why some things you do or like are because thats what your parents do or like. 

Whereas nurture is the opinion that environment and surroundings that people grow up with determine our traits. Nurture can be effected by the environment we grow up in, our early childhood experiences, how we were raised and our social relationships. 

“No man’s knowledge can go beyond his experience” said by British philosopher John Locke who wrote the essay concerning human understanding in 1689. He emphasised the role of experience as fully contributing to behavioural development of a person. Locke set out that the human mind at birth is a blank slate in which experience then imprints knowledge, therefore stating that nurture is what makes us different to others and no ideas or knowledge come from our nature.

“Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper void of all characters, without any ideas. How comes it to be furnished? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To the I answer in one word, EXPERIENCE.” this is one of Lockes most famous quotes said in his essay concerning human understanding. 

But some philosophers like Plato and Renne Descartes state that some things are stuck with you because of your nature, that they occur naturally regardless of environmental influences. Nativists say that all or most behaviours and characteristics are the result of inheritance.

God is not included in the debate between nature and nurture because both sides of the debate hold a position contrary to God. God did not create us to be bad, nor did God provide an environment for us to sin, but some people still behave in ways different from the norm. The bible states that both sides play a major role to how we turn out and who we become.

I believe this debate weighs slightly heavier on the nurture side because various psychologist have analysed the study of identical twins. It shows that individuals with the same genes can have very different personalities. If the twins grow up in separate environments they will turn out to be totally different individuals even though they are the same on the inside. I think that humans are effected by nurture more as we are very emotional beings and how we are treated effects how we take on life. 

An example of this is the study of Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein, who are two identical twins that were separated at birth. Elyse said that when she felt lonely she thought she was missing a twin. Both girls had always know that they were adopted but it was not until Elyse tried to find her birth mother she found out that she had a twin sister and the had been separated for a study on nature vs nurture. After they got to know each other they released they had a lot in common due to their nature, watching them they have similar mannerisms, they had both been editors for there school newspaper and both attended film school. From this study I have found that our characteristics, traits, likes and dislikes are mostly determined on genetics. The sisters weren’t nurtured to like the things they liked, it was in their DNA.

In the novel Frankenstein we are shown how both sides of the debate influenced the creature. We are told that he is made up of various body parts and this means that he has a lot of ‘nature’ to run by, but the reason he turns out the way he does, is not because of his nature but by his nurture. The creature is left to fend on his own after being rejected by society as well as his creator because of his differences. The pain felt by the creature leads him to turn on society because hate is all that he knows due to the way he was treated.

The debate compares if it is our environment that is the cause of a certain behaviour or were we just born this way? So even though there is no solid conclusion to the age long nature vs nurture debate, the information from philosophers, the bible and the twin study, I think that nature and nurture both play a role in the way we turn out, how we behave in certain situations and why we are different to others.

“Nature is all that a man brings with himself into the world; nurture is every influence that affects him after his birth.”

Wide Reading – The Raven

The Raven is a short story written by Edgar Allan Poe, it tells the story of a mysterious visit of a talking raven to a distraught lover, tracing the man’s slow fall into madness. Gothic tones and moods are very well established in the book along with features that almost every gothic protagonist hold. The narrators past comes back to haunt him along with presence of the supernatural. 

The man is grieving from the loss of his love Lenore, sitting alone ‘weak and weary’ on a dark cold December night. Sitting alone in his house trying to read, he is quite tired, and as he is just about to fall asleep he hears a quite knock on his chamber door. He choses not to answer the door, “Tis the wind and nothing more.” he states. After the second tap at the door he says that terror filled him like never before and he repeats to himself that there is no one there, trying to convince himself not to be frightened. The man is trying to ignore what he is hearing, but as curiosity and fear overwhelm him he eventually opens up the door speaking ‘Lenore?’ into the darkness. From this part of the short story told, I am convinced that the man is frightened about whats out there because of his past events, the passing of Lenore. Most common gothic protagonists are usually effected by there past in some way.

Then he hears a tapping at the window, when I read this my heart rate jumps up slightly. We know that there was nothing at the door so readers become on edge wondering who it could be. Once opening the window a raven files into he room, perching on the pallas above the chamber door. When the narrator asks the bird questions he answers with one word only ‘Nevermore’, the man tries to understand what the bird means by this but comes to no conclusion. He then mutters to him self “Other friends have flown before. On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.” To then the bird then answers ‘Nevermore’. Whenever the man asks the bird a question he only answers with one word, the raven seems to distress the protagonist with its constant repetition of the word “Nevermore”. The man continuously asks the raven questions even though he knows what the answer is going to be, this just winds the man up making him very irritated. If he just left the bird alone in the beginning he may have flown out on his own which would have saved a lot of hassle for the man. 

Then the narrator states that the air has become dense and perfumed, reminding him of Lenore. Saying that the god had sent down angels to maybe relieve his sorrow, but the bird answers again with nevermore.
This part in the story shows a small presence of the supernatural as the man is drawn to linking the air to the the gods and heaven. Most gothic texts have a presence of the supernatural shown which makes the reader a bit scared and on edge as we cannot relate to the situations. The narrator goes on to say “Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken! Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door! Saying this makes me feel mixed emotions about the man as he is going of at the raven, he seems to be very upset about the whole situation just showing me that he is become crazy.

The narrator finally gives up speaking with the bird after his hopes of seeing Lenore again are crushed, he says that the bird remains perched above his chamber door and he will forever live in his shadow. At the beginning of the book we are told the man is falling asleep before the knock on the door which makes it unclear if the narrator is dreaming though out the text. If he was dreaming all of the things about the raven and his lost love it would make more scene to the reader because we cannot relate to the story due to the madness of the man and the talking raven.

This novel displays a few common gothic features, the protagonist is effected very dramatically by past events in his life and the presence of the supernatural shown though out the novel. right from the start when I am told that it is a cold dark. night and the man is alone reading a book on ‘forgotten lore’ and there is a sudden knock at the door, a dark spooky gothic mood is created. Were also notice that thought the text the same event come back to haunt him, the raven driving him deeper into insanity. The grieving of the death of Lenore and the dying fire establish a mood concerned with death and memories.

Wide Reading – Alice in Wonderland

“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness”

Tim Burtons 2010 film ‘Alice in Wonderland’ adds common gothic elements to the original story ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ to create a darker story line. Tim uses make up as to create the gothic characters, the film also uses gothic music to create tones and moods. We are also shown how Alice follows her emotions instead of what is right.

19-year-old Alice is first seen attending a garden party where she is confronted by an unwanted marriage proposal, she does not know what to do so she just takes a minute away, following the strange rabbit she has been dreaming about and seeing all day. After following the rabbit for some time she accidentally falls into a large rabbit hole under a tree. Alice finds herself not in the bright Wonderland of her dreams, but in the twisted, barren world known as Underland. She emerges in a forest where she is greeted by a group of strange animals and cartoon like characters that can speak. They argue over whether Alice is “the right Alice” who must slay the Red Queen’s Jabberwocky and give back the White Queen’s power.

The Mad Hatter helps Alice avoid being captured by the Red Queen by allowing himself to be taken instead. Alice is then found by the Bloodhound, but Alice wants to help the Mad Hatter. The Red Queen is unaware of Alice’s true identity so invites her in as a guest where Alice learns that the only weapon that can kill the Jabberwocky is locked inside the den of the Bandersnatch. Alice gets the sword and makes friends with the Bandersnatch by returning its eye. She then escapes with the Bandersnatch and takes the sword to the White Queen. The Cheshire Cat saves the Mad Hatter from the Red Queen. On the day that Alice takes on the jabberwocky, the White Queen and the Red Queen gather their armies on a chessboard-like battlefield and send Alice and the Jabberwocky to fight. At the end the White Queen gives Alice some of the Jabberwocky’s purple blood which will bring her whatever she wishes. She decides to rejoin the everyday world where she impresses Lord Ascot with her idea of establishing oceanic trade routes to Hong Kong, where she goes with him as an apprentice.

From the beginning of the story we notice that Alice has a much more pale face compared to everyone else, indicating to me that her soul is slowing dying in the world that she is currently in and she needs to escape. She has a gothic and ghostly pale to her face, including sunken eyes backing up again that she is not happy there.

Common gothic music is used in some of the scenes to add tension and uncertainty, creating a gothic atmosphere in the film. When the Mad Hatter is telling Alice about his past the music goes from happy piano music to deep, dark organ music which makes our heart rates increase and we become on edge, as if we are watching a horror movie. Organ music is also used when Alice first meets the Red Queen to create a spooky and unsettling vibe for the audience, indicating that the Red Queen is bad and will only cause trouble in the story. When Alice is fighting the Jabberwocky there is also dark, fast music playing increasing our adenine as Alice could at any minute be killed. 

In this movie we are shown how independent Alice is and how she follows her own emotions instead of what she maybe should be doing, there are many examples of this shown in the film. Alice does not want to marry into her ready planed out future, instead whats to do her own thing. No-one cares about her “sightings of the supernatural”, as many times at the beginning of the film she was trying to tell her friends and family that she has been having strange dreams and been sighting a white rabbit in a waistcoat. Alice becomes obsessed with what she is seeing and what is going on in her head, she dose not even want to be involved in her proposal that everyone is there to see, but runs away to see where the rabbit is gone. She makes herself look crazy as no one else can see what she is.
At the beginning Alice thinks its a dream, when watching this I think that maybe it is a dream as it is so unreal to imagine and maybe its all happening in her head.

Burton creates a the desolate and depressing world of Underland, highlighting only the negative undertones of the original stories. Bit this makes it an outstanding gothic film compared to your usual gothic films. It may not be as spooky and scary as other gothic films out there but it holds gothic elements and when you pay attention to whats happening in the film you understand how it relates to theres. I really enjoy this movie and highly recommend it, it goes to show how many strange things go on in our heads.

Part 2: Writing Portfolio

The Film Task –

Tim Burton has a very defined style as a director. Analyse how he uses visual and/or verbal features across at least two of his texts to fulfil the common conventions of gothic fiction. 

I will be writing a response about the use of different visual and verbal features that Tim Burton displayed over two of his texts, Sweeney Todd and Sleepy Hollow. Tim Burton displays common gothic conventions like foreshadowing, common tones and moods and the dark gothic settings by the use of colour, make up and music during his films.

The role of a movie director, like Tim Burton is to control the films ‘artistic and dramatic’ aspects. The director has the key role to choose the members of the cast, production design and the creative aspects in filmmaking. They visualise the screen play while guiding the crew and cast to fulfil the vision that we as an audience then get to experience. Burton says he has always been fascinated with the light and dark aspects of life, consistently arguing that one cannot exist without the other. He uses colour, makeup and music to present his films with a strong gothic feeling like know one else can. Almost all of Burton’s movies contain a dark horror element to them, this is why he could make gothic movies out of just about anything, he knows how to add that dark spooky layer into the stories using film. The way that he displays common gothic conventions comes though the film techniques that he uses.

In the film Sleepy hollow, Tim Burton uses the visual features of colour to fulfil the common conventions of gothic fiction. Although the movie was filmed in colour it displays monochromatic tones – a filtered effect that uses shades of black and white – which give us a feeling of uncertainty and discomfort. Using the tinted colour for this film it shows us the dark and damaged world of Sleepy Hollow, these colours help to display the common gothic setting that we see in most horror type films. Grey, dark colours dominate the screen throughout the movie, from the colours that the characters wear, the colour of the buildings and animals that contribute throughout the film, over all the atmosphere in this film is very dark. Although during parts of the film there are flashbacks showing the main protagonist Ichabod Crane’s (Johnny Depp) life before his mother died, in these flashbacks we see the movie in full colour, indicating that this was a happy time for Ichabod.

In Sweeney Todd, the use of colour is very similar. The opening scene is very dark as its night time, the characters look almost dead with no warmth or natural skin tones visible creating a dark gothic atmosphere, where Todd looks down the dark alleys and states, “In these once familiar streets I feel, shadowed.” At this point we think that the film is going to be in black and white until Todd steps into the golden glow of a street lamp and we see his past life in a flashback as Benjamin Barker, during this scene we see him and his family looking very happy with colourful flowers in the background. The scene has a yellow filter over it representing that this was a long time ago, but a happy, warm memory for Todd. Then we see Judge Turpin standing in the background, I notice that he is wearing a red jacket and the colour red becomes tied to Todd during the rest of the film, the judge is in-front of a very black background, showing that he isn’t going to be doing much good, almost foreshadowing that Judge Turpin is going to make Todd’s life dark and miserable.

I think that Burtons use of colour in the two films was used very well, because of the light and dark colours he used it creates a very depressing,  dark atmosphere, which is what gothic fiction is all about. The dark and light colours also make a great backdrop for the red that is used in both films. Because of the light and dark colours used it helps to further the story, if Burton used bright colours for these films it would be confusing and we wouldn’t no what to expect from the beginning. The common setting that is used in all gothic texts is very well defined by Burton, the colours that are used in the films make every scene seem dark and unsettling. I think he uses these colours to reflect what the characters are feeling, in both of the films the minds of the main characters – Todd and Crane – are both very unsettling, they are thinking about dark things and the colour of the skies and buildings reflect off them. Burton uses colour to “show the character’s journey”. In the flashbacks from both films Burton uses yellowy bright colours to show the audience that the characters were happy in these moments. Tone and mood in these films are developed by by the dark oculars that Burton uses, it makes the audience feel scared and shadowed because of the dark colours. When the film is dark it is hard to see everything in the shot and this makes us feel on edge as we are unsure of what could be around the corner. 

Make up is a big part of creating common gothic characters, in the films we have watched we see that the main characters have pale faces and dark eyes, which we are not used to seeing. During the film of Sleepy Hollow, Crane starts of with a pretty normal look that society is used to, although he has dark eyes at the beginning of the film indicating to me that he has maybe had a dark past and/or there is something in his past that haunts him. Crane has come from New York to investigate the murder in Sleepy Hollow and has not yet realised what he has got himself into. As the film goes on we see that Crane’s make up gets paler during almost every scene, indicating that the life is getting sucked out of him and he is so focused on finding out who the killer is.

In Sweeney Todd the use of make up is also very similar, in the first scene of the movie we see Todd – in a close up – standing on the boat. During this scene we get right into his personal space and see his pale face, he almost looks like a ghost and the make up around his eyes is so dark that we can hardly see his eyes themselfs. Eyes are like the window to our soul and the feature of dark eyes tell me that the characters are in there own world, where no one around them can influence what they are planning to do, almost as if they are looking down a tunnel. The dark eyes of Todd and miss Lovett show that something in there past has unsettled and scarred them and that they are so focused on what they are doing, like how Todd is so fixated with killing the Judge that he doesn’t care what happens to anyone else standing in his way.

Make up is a big part of how we take in the characters feeling and when Burton creates characters with dark eyes and pale faces, like we are not use to seeing, it makes us feel un easy and almost sick about how they look. Burton I think uses dark eyes to express the common gothic tone, because of the dark eye the audience feel as if they cannot trust the character so it creates a tone of uncertainty and fear. The pale faces foreshadow that the characters are falling deeper into insanity, due to them getting paler faces during almost every scene we know that the character had done no good and/or are getting driven deeper into there emotions and blocking out everyone from around them. Because Burton uses pale faces it makes us think that the characters are not from our world, we are used to seeing bright people in films and because of the pale faces in these film we as an audience cannot relate to what the characters are going though. The pale faces also indicate that the characters are sick and having been in the sun, therefore like looking down there own tunnel, how Todd won’t stop killing until he gets revenge and how Crane will go to all lengths to look for the headless horseman. 

Tim Burton also uses the verbal feature of music to display the gothic conventions of foreshadowing and unease. In Sleepy Hollow the music creates an atmosphere of mystery and suspense, throughout the film we hear organ music which is commonly used in gothic films. There is also howling wind sound effects that foreshadow that the headless horseman is coming. The music needs to be scary for this film because of the level of violence that it holds, there are common horror sounds that we hear, frightening us and forcing the audience to cover their ears. In horror films you often see people covering their face with a pillow but by doing this you cannot escape the noise that makes our heart rate jump up. When the headless horse man is being explained to Crane we hear organ music that is soft and gentle but the music soon gets louder and faster making our heart rate increase and forcing us to look away from the screen even though nothing is happening.

Music in Sweeney Todd has similar techniques to Sleepy Hollow but also a very different style than what we are used to in gothic fiction. Sweeney Todd is a musical and so the use of vocals play a big part in the way we take in the music. In the opening scene Todd is singing to the young boy about london, the song starts of nice as the boy is singing but then Todd starts to sing, the music gets darker and he sings about what we think is his previous experience in London. Todd is trying to scare the young boy about the future, singing about how life has been kind to the boy but he will learn and fall into the great black pit of the world. During the film we often hear happy music but they are singing about gruesome and horrible things, like they think it is ok to do what they are doing to these people. The songs start of clam and cheerful but they speed up and become unsettling and make us feel on edge and our hearts race. In the scene where the judge is killed, it starts of with gentle music that comes on and off, we heard non diegetic sounds of the music going high like they have thought of something and Todd looks at the knife, then the song resumes and he goes back to shaving him.

Tim Burton uses music to create common gothic tones and moods, when the music gets faster it creates a scary tone and we tend to look away. The music also foreshadows what high happen like when the music goes high for a moment and Todd looks at his knife we know that he is going to kill someone. I think Burton made Sweeney Todd as a musical so we could listen to the lyrics that they sing to add an extra layer of discomfort into the film. The music plays a big part on how we approach the thoughts in the movie, if we hear happy cheerful tunes we are not scared but the dark organ music in these films make us feel tense and uneasy. 

Tim Burton’s use of colour, make up and music displayed over two of his texts, Sweeney Todd and Sleepy Hollow display the common gothic conventions of foreshadowing, tones and moods and the dark gothic settings. I thing Burtons choice of using these techniques have really helped to create two great gothic films, the use of the techniques that Burton displays influence the audience by unsettling them and making them on edge just like a gothic film should.

Sweeney Todd – Notes

35mins shaving comp:
Todd has a great technique of shaving, the non diagetic sound of shaving his face very fast. The man in purple (illusion) goes slow, stops and thinks he in control. Duel personally, says till we meet again. Being nice to the judges assistant to foreshadow him coming into the parlour.

Joanna perspective of the world is limited, her windows are blurry. She is being watched, when the tone comes over the nice music she looks over her shoulder.

Sweeney in the broken mirror indicating he’s broken. Getting angry that the judge is not coming to see him, he is not listening to the mrs lovetts singing about flowers indicating that they could be happy, he looks at his knife and and then the window. She it trying to ask for his opinion and he keeps looking at his SILVER knife.

When David comes to have a shave he acts all professional but then changes his way he talks and the dark music comes on he calls him by his real name and says he wants money as he used to work for him, the music gets faster and he plays with a knife. The kettle starts to whistle like the rage that burning inside him, when he’s betting David we see mr Todd form below close up as it shows power and his emotions he looks insane, he’s trying to get revenge but he’s thinking of the huge and keeps hitting him even though he could be dead. Ms Lovett takes the little boy away, her presence and the way she talks doesn’t sound very settling. Close up of davids hand and long low music shows us that he’s about to move we feel anticipation and tension that the boy will see the hand and foreshadows that he will find out. Todd feels frustration that the boy will not go down stairs.

Dark setting of the court were judge is, caged windows arches, crows, long seems holding up building. when the judge talking about the persons sentence and we suspect to see a older man that has done lots of bad but then we see a little boy. We build more hate for judge and his assist.

Whenever mrs Lovett and him are in the same room he continues to ignore her and look at his knife.

Wide Reading – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

“Everyone has secrets. It’s just a matter of finding out what they are.”

The girl with the dragon tattoo is a gothic novel written by Stieg Larsson. It tells the story about a Journalist by the name of Mikael Blomkvist, who is hired by Henrik Vanger, to find out who murdered his niece more than 40 years earlier. Mikael works with Lisbeth Salander (the girl with the dragon tattoo), a young woman with a talent for hacking into people’s computers, the two find themselves tracking a serial killer who has murdered women for several decades. This report will illustrate Lisbeth Salander’s traits of a common gothic protagonist, also how this novel represents common gothic tones and moods. Lastly I will write a personal response on my perspective on this book and how I found this read.

Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo shows traits of a common gothic protagonist. She has a modern gothic appearance marked with piercings, tattoos, black hair and gothic clothes. Salander finds herself often misinterpreted by her scary presence and other characters in this story don’t want to mess with her, people thought she was dangerous when she was young but she actually won’t hurt anyone, unless they mess with her. Salander shows strong contrasting qualities thought out this book which is one of the main features that a gothic protagonist holds. Another feature that is displayed by Larsson is the influence of Salander’s past events on her future, because of her dark past that is explained in this book, Lisbeth has foreshadowed that something bad is going to happen later on in the read. At the beginning on the book we are told that Lisabeth has had no real family and she is frequently and brutally assaulted by her adult guardian. Because we are told this it makes me thing that something else along the lines of assault are going to happen otherwise the author wouldn’t have bothered to add this part in. At the end of the book we are told that the serial killer sexually assaults girls before he murders them which I had though as it was foreshadowed on earlier in the book. This part of the book is quite unsettling and is not very nice to read, which is commonly found in gothic fiction. I think that if the assault was not added into the book it would most definitely not be as unsettling therefore not as strong a gothic novel.

This novel displays common gothic tones and moods during the whole of the read. The tone that we get from this by the author is very unsettling, the story line for this book is very different from anything else I have read. The tone is gloomy and cold, the town that Mikael is set in is dark and cloudy, he usually goes out into the town at night which then adds another spooky layer to the story. The mood that I feel is quite uneasy and sometimes I want to stop reading as its to much to take in. The strong tones and moods coming from this story is what makes it exciting, urging us to keep on reading.

Henrik Vanger has a crazy obsession with Harriets death, this is a common feature that we see in gothic protagonists. More than 30 years later he’s still wants to no what happened to her. Before knowing the truth of what happened to Harriet I had considered that maybe Henrik was behind what had happened to her or wanted to set up Blomkvist for something due to his intense obsession with wanting him for the job. Henriks weird uneasy presence made me on edge when reading the book as I was not sure what he was going to do around the corner.

This gothic novel displays tones and moods that make you feel uncomfortable and sometimes on edge which is commonly seen in gothic fiction. It also displays traits that gothic protagonists hold, how they may have weird and abnormal obsessions with things, how past events in there lives effect the future and also how Salanders appearance displays features that the modern world views as ‘Goth’.

From reading this story I have released the extent of how badly some people are abused and mistreated, also how well nasty people can cover up what they have done. During the majority of the book I had though of Marten Vanger to be one of the good people in the family, one of the last people I had expected to be the cause of Harriets disappearance, this just shows how sick some people are in the world and that you can never fully trust someone.

Part 1: Writing Portfolio

The Enlightenment Task-

“I have always thought the actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.”

I will be writing a response understanding how John Lockes theory, ‘Concerning human understanding’ relates to concepts in Mary Shelley’s gothic novel, Frankenstein. How knowledge is obtained has been the question everyone has been trying to understand for hundreds of years. John Locke has been one of the few philosophers who’s has foundered a theory around this. I have noticed that the creature in Frankenstein seems to be an example of Lockes works, that the mind begins as a blank slate or tabula rasa. Only our experiences shape our personality and how and what we become. 

English man John Locke lived from 1632 to 1704, he was one of the most famous philosophers and political theorists in the 17th and 18th centuries. John Lockes major contribution to the enlightenment period was foundering the tabula rasa theory, publishing the essay of ‘concerning human understanding’. The tabula rasa theory states that at birth the mind is born as a blank slate and that your knowledge comes form experience through out your life. He is also considered to be the ‘father of liberalism’ which comes from his other theory, based on the principle of liberty and equality foundering the U.S declaration of independence and constitution.

Locke believed that every human was born with their minds completely empty, this went against the philosophical tradition that at the very lest we are born with some rational understanding and desirers/intentions, referred to as human nature. Locke believed there was no human nature and everyone of us are the author of our own character, all men are created equal. This idea first came about when Locke meet Anthony Ashley Cooper who grew his career, Locke followed him to holland where he wrote his first book ‘concerning human understanding’, he then moved back to write many more books about government and human rights. He states that no knowledge is placed on us by god and there can be no innate ideas. He accepts that we have innate ability – like humans have the ability to speak, whereas animals don’t – but nothing else.

In the novel Frankenstein, Victor creates a large creature for a scientific experiment he has been working on for years. Once his work is finished the creature is left to fend for himself in the world, as Frankenstein immedity regrets creating him, hoping he will die out there alone. The creature not knowing any English or any of his capabilities, has the mind of a newborn child. Because of his differences (looks), society treated the creature as horrible as ever, forcing him to live in isolation to others and fight for his life. He taught himself everything about survival, also how to read and speak, by spying on a family that live in the woods and coping there actions. He later turns into a monster, killing all of Victors loved ones, payback for creating him and leaving him for dead.

Everything that goes on around the creature relates to John Lockes theory, his mind being a blank slate from the moment he was created, having to learn everything on his own out of the experiences he went through. Locke states that ‘No man’s knowledge can go beyond his experience.’

An example of how he develops understanding from his experiences comes though this quote from Frankenstein, “I began to distinguish my sensations from each other. I gradually saw plainly the clear stream that supplied me with drink, and the trees that shaded me with their foliage.” he goes on to say he learns that these things are good and he will go back and experience them again, as he’s gaining knowledge. When he was first created he didn’t understand what water or trees were used for, it only because if his experience with them he has figured out what their purpose is. 

An example from the text “I felt light, and hunger, and thirst, and darkness; innumerable sounds rang in my ears, and on all sides various scents saluted me”. This quote is said by the creature when his is figuring out his senses, he learns that he can solve the problem of being cold by building a fire, he experiences the joy and warmth from the fire, building his knowledge.

The creature created by Frankenstein says that ‘misery made him a fiend’, as he believes that the people who hurt him made him they way he is.  Locke believes that the way someone is treated by society determines the way someone becomes, good or bad. The creature had to learn the hard way that society didn’t like him as he was different, in one part in the text he saves a little girl from drowning in the river. The father saw the creature taking his daughter, the man immediately thought that he was harmful, the one who was drowning her, so he shot him in the shoulder. Once the creature went through this horrible experience, he lost all faith in humans and “vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind”. Because he thought he was being kind and he got hurt for doing what was right, so he only learnt not to trust humanity. He goes on to hunt down Victor’s family to get revenge on him and other humans, as his knowledge around what to do came from the bad experiences he had had “My feelings were those of rage and revenge”. From this novel we notice that the way society treats us has a massive impact on the person we become. 

From this report I have discussed Lockes theory and how Mary Shelley reflects his ideas though her text Frankenstein. Hopefully from this report you have gained some understanding about how knowledge is obtained and how our experiences teach us how to act/think. The creatures experiences were influenced because of Victors abandonment towards him, because of this the creature experienced the outside world by himself. He had a lot of negative experiences with society, forcing him to hate mankind, all he had ever known was pain and hate when he interacted with humans. If Victor had looked after him and showed him society from a different point of view his experiences would have been different, mabye the creature would have turned out much better off.   

Wide Reading – Ruined

“The past doesn’t go away. You just can’t see it anymore.”

Ruined is a gripping gothic novel written by Paula Morris, a story about a young girl who goes to live in New Orleans with her Aunty and Cousin as her Dads away on business. Rebecca (the main protagnist) has to attend a new school, without any friends. She decides to go to cemetery at night to spy on the cool kids from the year above, on her way out she runs into a mysterious girl who gives her directions home. Rebecca visits the cemetery often and learns more about this girl, finding out that she is a ghost. Learning that Lisette, murdered over 150 years ago by a member from one of the most important families in New Orleans (Bowman family), Lisette is destined to roam the grounds of the cemetery until the curse has lifted and she is set free to heaven. Rebecca is only to find out that she is a bowman girl by blood and her father has been lying to her all these years to try and keep her safe from the curse. She could be the last of the bowman daughters to die on her 17th birthady and take the curse with her, with help from her friends Lisette and Anton she makes it out alive but its Lisettes time to move on.

I believe that this novel shows a lot of gothic elements, the setting that is described in this text holds common features that are displayed in gothic fiction. When reading Ruined we see that Rebecca has a strong attraction to the nonhuman/supernatural world and that her emotions and curiosity override reason and what is right. Because of her curiosity to the supernatural world she gets herself into dangerous situations. These elements will be discussed in my report and I will explian how I feel about this novel.

There is tendency to keep looking over your shoulder throughout this read, making you feel cool and sense everything around, feeling as if we are in Rebeccas shoes. New Orleans is described as a gloomy, rundown town with grey skies. We feel cool when settings in this book are explained as its not very comforting to be apart of. There are many old houses that play a part in this read, adding to the spooky feel of New Orleans. Rebecca explains the Bowmans house as a mansion with lots of hidden secrets, when she visits the house in the book, Rebecca is not feeling very comfortable, she feels exposed like eyes are watching her from in the walls, she has to go outside to escape the unsettling feel of the Bowmans house. The cemetery is a main scene in this text, filled with tombs and graves, Rebecca spends a majority of her time in the cemetery during the night which adds extra tension to the story. A dark setting is described when ever Rebecca is in the cemetery, arced entrances, crows flying around, narrow alleys, shadowy corners and we are told that the cemetery has a large steel fence around it, Rebecca get stuck in the cemetery a few times as she dose not escape before the gates are locked. The fence around the cemetery acts as a cage in this story, a trap that people are frightened of.

During the whole of this text we see that Rebecca is driven by passion and emotions rater than reason. If Rebecca listened to her aunt, not visiting the cemetery she wouldn’t have meet Lisette, then Rebecca wouldn’t have learnt about the curse on the Bowman family. Because of her curiosity she was put in harms way just about getting herself killed.

“‘That cat is setting a very bad example,’ sighed Aunt Claudia, shaking her head. She seemed to have forgotten about making Rebecca promise things, which was just as well. Rebecca was hoping to follow Marilyn’s (the cat) lead sometime soon. She was from New York, after all. A small cemetery in a tiny city like this didn’t frighten her.” Throughout this novel Rebecca is determined to avoid what her Aunt says, because of her curiosity of what on the other side of the cemetery gate, Rebecca does not think about the consciences her actions could have. Putting her life in danger and changing the future for Rebecca.

Rebecca is badly influenced by her past, and it effects her future. Rebecca is put in danger, nearly getting her killed because her father lied about her past, the curse that was put upon the family. Rebecca not knowing about the curse set upon her family adds more tension to the story as it is just as much a shock to the reader as it is to Rebecca.

The main element in this novel is Rebecca’s easy assertion to the supernatural (nonhuman) world. Through out the text she is always hanging out with her ghost friend Lisette, Rebeccas curiosity plays a major role with her interactions with the supernatural world. Rebecca forces Lisette to tell her more and more about her life and the curse, as her obsession with the supernatural world is growing. Rebecca wants to meet other ghosts and know what happened to them, even thought she is frightened by the idea her mind does not let her give up until she knows everything.

During this read I felt as if there was some uncertainty to what was going to happen, at times the book felt as if it was about to end as every thing had been explained that we new of. But then there would be a ‘plot twist’ and something else would come up, e.g finding out that Rebecca is apart of the bowman family. I think that the author of this book made us think as if it was all over on purpose as it made me feel doubtful and uncomfortable kepting me on edge as I wasn’t to sure on what was in the next chapter.

When reading Ruined the attraction to the supernatural world and Rebeccas curiosity really makes the book interesting to read, as we are not sure what is around the corner. The setting in this book plays a big part in making the reader feel uneasy and on edge, I really enjoyed reading this text because the way that Paula describes settings in this book makes it exciting and adds another spooky layer to Ruined. I really enjoyed this book and I think Paula Morris wrote it very well, she let some gothic elements show in this text but I think it should have been worked on a little more to make the reader uncomfortable like gothic fiction should. Even though the story was spooky at times I never wanted to put the book down and stop reading because it was to much. I think Morris wanted to let create a spooky story in New Orleans after the storm as it makes the text more real, as it is a real setting which adds tension to the reader.