Coursework – schedule and advice.

English Literature Rules

The page Coursework Task page has been updated with guidance on how to prepare and present your work. It gives exemplar sentences. The texts mentioned are ‘The Color Purple’ and ‘The Help’ – obviously you will need to look at your chosen texts.

Please note the coursework schedule has been up on that page for some time – you should be planning your work to meet these deadlines.

You must acknowledge all materials you have read and been influenced by – even if you have not quoted directly from them. These resources must be listed in your bibliography. All texts that you do lift material from directly must be fully sited – and the words lifted must be punctuated properly. It should go without saying that this not only applies to your coursework but to any material in any essay or blog posts – there are copyright issues and plagarism…

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“Us each others peoples now.” – The Color Purple

Often considered in a negative light, imperialism is an unequal human and territorial relationship, usually in the form of an empire, based on ideas of superiority and practices of dominance, and involving the extension of authority and control of one state or people over another. When in fact it is merely an exploitation of native people in order to enrich a small handful.  

In the Africa section of the novel,  Walker highlights many broader, more general communication problems in the world that remain unresolved. She points to failed communication between men and women; between American blacks and American whites, between American blacks and Africans, and between Africans and European imperialists. This is a particularly disheartening section of the novel, highlighting the issues that follow on from failed communication and lack of understanding, particularly of culture. The Olinka people are left nothing but a barren land that is without water for sixth months of the year after a rubber plantation run by rich white men destroys their small village.  

Nettie’s journey to Africa as a missionary encourages us to see her in a new light, become highly intellectually curious and sophisticated, and is now a missionary, a job that is centered around articulating a narrative. Nettie is very vocal in her attitudes toward the native Africans, especially the self-centeredness she perceives in them, and their clear sexism. 

Additionally, by highlighting the self-centeredness Nettie perceives in the Olinka community, as well as its clear subordination of women, Walker complicates her depiction of race and identity. Though the Olinka are oppressed by a colonial force, the rubber company, there is still significant oppression within the Olinka community itself. This internal oppression, coupled with what Walker portrays as the self-centeredness of the Olinka people and their indifference toward African-American slavery, complicates the seemingly straightforward categories of oppressor and oppresse.Image

Women in Literature – A Literary Overview

Rachel Thomas

Something interesting I’ve just found…

In A Literature of Their Own, Elaine Showalter shows how women’s literature has evolved, starting from the Victorian period to modern writing. She breaks down the movement into three stages — the Feminine, a period beginning with the use of the male pseudonym in the 1840s until 1880 with George Eliot’s death; the Feminist, from 1880 till the winning of the vote in 1920; and the Female, from 1920 till the present-day, including a “new stage of self-awareness about 1960.”

When discussing the characteristics of each of these phases, she looks at how other literary subcultures (“such as black, Jewish… or even American”) to see how they developed. A female solidarity always seemed to exist as a result of “a shared and increasingly secretive and ritualized physical experience… the entire female sexual life cycle.” Female writers always wrote with this commonality and feminine awareness in…

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The Color Purple – Letters 1-10

The Color Purple opens with Celie’s memory of her father’s command that she stay quiet about his abuse of her. The rest of the novel is composed of letters, and we begin with the first of many private letters Celie writes to God. In her first letter, Celie asks for guidance because she does not understand what is happening to her. Only fourteen, Celie is already pregnant with her second child—the result of rape and incest. Alphonso, Celie’s father, has turned to Celie for sexual gratification because Celie’s mother is ill and can no longer endure Alphonso’s sexual demands.

Celie’s mother dies. Celie writes that Alphonso stole Celie’s first baby while she was sleeping and killed it in the woods, and she believes he will kill her second baby as well. However, Alphonso does not kill the second baby, and Celie suspects that he instead sold the child to a married couple. Celie is left with her breasts filled with milk for no one.
From Celie’s fourth letter to God, we learn that Alphonso has brought home a new wife, though this marriage does not end the physical and sexual abuse Celie endures. Alphonso beats Celie for winking at a boy in church, though she may have just had something stuck in her eye. Later, he beats her again for dressing “trampy.”
Celie and her younger sister, Nettie, learn that a man, to whom Celie refers only as Mr. ______, has shown an interest in marrying Nettie. The man is recently widowed because his first wife was murdered by her lover. Alphonso’s new wife tells Celie and Nettie that Mr. ______ also had a lover outside of marriage, a woman named Shug Avery. The girls find a photograph of Shug, and her bright, glamorous face captivates Celie, who has never seen anyone like her.
Alphonso refuses to hand Nettie over to Mr. ______, stating that she is far too young and inexperienced to marry a man with children. Alphonso wants Nettie to continue her schooling and offers the man Celie instead. Alphonso claims that though Celie is ugly, a liar, and “spoiled twice,” she is older and hardworking and owns her own cow, which she could bring into the marriage.
After brooding over the offer for a few months, Mr. ______ makes up his mind to take Celie. Celie desperately wants to stay in school, but Alphonso says she is too dumb to learn anything. Celie spends her wedding day bandaging a wound from a rock Mr. ______’s son throws at her, untangling her screaming stepdaughters’ hair, and cooking dinner. Celie spends a joyless wedding night with Mr. ______ on top of her, all the while worrying about Nettie’s safety.

While in town one day, Celie catches sight of a young girl who she thinks may be her lost daughter. The girl closely resembles Celie, especially her eyes. The little girl’s mother talks kindly with Celie after she follows them into a fabric store, where Celie learns that the mother calls her daughter Olivia, the same name Celie gave her own daughter and embroidered on her diapers before the infant was taken away. In the store, the racist shopkeeper treats Olivia’s mother poorly, making her buy thread she does not want and tearing off her new fabric without bothering to measure it.


The epistolary, or letter-writing, form of The Color Purple resembles a diary, since Celie tells her story through private letters that she writes to God. Therefore, Celie narrates her life story with complete candor and honesty. As a poor African-American woman in rural Georgia in the 1930s and a victim of domestic abuse, Celie is almost completely voiceless and disenfranchised in everyday society. However, Celie’s letters enable her to break privately the silence that is normally imposed upon her.
Celie’s confessional narrative is reminiscent of African-American slave narratives from the nineteenth century. These early slave narratives, which took the form of song, dance, storytelling, and other arts, ruptured the silence imposed on the black community. Yet, unlike Celie’s letters, these slave narratives employed codes, symbols, humor, and other methods to hide their true intent. Slaves took these measures to prevent slave owners from discovering the slaves’ ability to communicate, articulate, and reflect on their unhappiness, but Celie takes no such protective measures.
Celie’s letters, though completely candid and confessional, are sometimes difficult to decipher because Celie’s ability to narrate her life story is highly limited. When Celie’s cursing mother asks who fathered Celie’s baby, Celie, remembering Alphonso’s command to keep quiet, says the baby is God’s because she does not know what else to say. Similarly, Celie does not know what to say about her mother’s death, her abuse, or her stolen babies. Celie knows how to state the events plainly, but often does not know how to interpret them. Despite the abuses she endures, Celie has little consciousness of injustice and shows little or no anger.
Walker’s use of Celie’s own voice, however underdeveloped, allows Walker to tell the history of black women in the rural South in a sympathetic and realistic way. Unlike a historian’s perspective, which can be antiseptic and overly analytical, Celie’s letters offer a powerful first-person account of the institutions of racism and sexism. Celie’s simple narrative brings us into her isolated world with language that reveals both pain and detached numbness: “My momma dead. She die screaming and cussing. She scream at me. She cuss at me.”
Like her voice, Celie’s faith is prominent but underdeveloped. Celie relies heavily on God as her listener and source of strength, but she sometimes blurs the distinction between God’s authority and that of Alphonso. She confesses that God, rather than Alphonso, killed her baby, and she never makes any association between the injustice she experiences in her life and the ability of God to overturn or prevent this injustice.

A little background on W.B Yeats

Found this video on youtube, it’s the simplest one i could find giving all the basic background to his life and writing, plus i really like the way that man spoke…

“Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved.”

We all seem to have one of those books that stick with us for a long time. A book that has changed or sculpted our lives. For me, I’ve read a handful of books that have changed me (To Kill a Mockingbird, Diary of Anne Frank, The Book Thief) but today I’ll be talking about The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

The story is about two sisters, one who is a child wife living with an abusive husband, the other a missionary in Africa. Though they remain apart from one another, they remain loyal to each other and show the world that nothing can break the love between sisters. This is such a passionate, beautiful and inspiring story, and one that has encouraged me to write.

I just believe this is a story that can change a young girl’s life. I read this in my final year of high school. This year was hard and stressful for me, juggling alot.  So when I picked up The Color Purple, it taught me that through hard times good things come to you in the end. This book also taught me how to love myself. The main character Celie grows up with so many people around her telling her that she isn’t good enough or she’s ugly and will never find a husband.

 The Color Purple teaches us that, hey, we’ll always have people in our lives that will push us down, but you know what? You got to get up on your own two feet and show them that you can achieve anything if you put your heart and spirit into it. That to only achieve great things in our life, we have to believe in ourselves and love ourselves, and look in the mirror and see a beautiful soul staring back at us who can do anything.

I’d recommend this book to anyone. It’s one of my personal top 5 favourite novels, and one that has inspired me as a writer.

“Everything want to be loved. Us sing and dance and holler, just trying to be loved.” — Alice Walker, The Color Purple.

Keane – An Irish Airman Forsee’s his Death…

A song written by the Band Keane written in honour of and inspired by W.B Yeats.

Swans Gonne Wild.

Nimbus Type40


‘The Wild Swans at Coole’ is a poem by W.B. Yeats once again lamenting due to his loneliness. It consists of 5 regular stanzas, with a regular rhyme scheme of ABCBDD. The couplet at the end seems odd when read, as the rhyme appears to be too early. This change in rhyme emphasises the changes in Yeats’ life. The voice of the poem is Yeats himself as he walks in the autumn to Coole park to observe the swans and reflect on the changes that have happened in his life since he was last there.

There is a lot of cold pastoral language in this poem, which gives it a natural feel, “autumn beauty”. Some of these phrases give the poem a cold feel, “Under the October twilight the water/Mirrors a still sky”. One of the phrases, “companionable streams” makes the reader think of companionship, and the relationship that the…

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Leda and the Swan – W.B Yeats (symbol analysis)

The Swan…
The swan in this poem isn’t the kind of swan you can throw crackers to at your local pond. This swan came down to earth from Mount Olympus with a mission. That’s right, the swan is really the Greek god Zeus in disguise. As the poem progresses, we catch only glimpses of the bird’s swan-like features. He simply moves too fast and has too much single-minded focus for us to pin him down. Accordingly, the poem contains lots of synecdoche, where a part of the bird is used to represent the whole. Also, despite being a god, Yeats chooses to highlight the swan’s instinct and animal nature.The poem opens with an image of the swan descending on Leda. His “great wings” are the first thing described. Also the Swan’s “feathered glory” is described, probably meaning the swan’s genitals. (A “glory” is something associated with gods or the divine.)

The sex…
“Leda and the Swan” is essentially a depiction of a violent sexual encounter between a woman and a bird. If you find yourself sympathetic to the Ancient Greek perspective, you might think that the encounter is a divine and mystical experience. If you find yourself approaching the poem from a more modern perspective, you might be horrified. The poem caters to both viewpoints. Yeats’s language seems to imply that the swan is violent and uncaring but also mysterious and seductive. In line 4: Leda’s “breast” is personified as “helpless.” when in fact, Leda is the helpless one.
later on in the poem, again, Leda’s fingers can’t be “terrified”; only Leda can be terrified. It’s a classic example of personification of an inhuman object. Yeats provides an image for the moment of sex: the swan’s (or possibly Leda’s, as Yeats didn’t use a pronoun here) “loins” or thighs “shudder.”

Ancient Greece…
Yeats believed that history moved between different and contrary cycles. “Leda and the Swan” seems to be set at the exact turning point between two such cycles. Leda’s world is populated by myths and divinities that come down to earth. But the world to which she gives “birth” is ruled by politics and power, not the gods. The Burning of Troy set the stage for the future rise of the Roman Empire and, much later, the rise of modern Europe.

Gyres – W B Yeats


Yeats proves the reoccurrence of the gyres by building on earlier depictions of a metaphorical pagan beast that he believes will soon walk the earth. Yeats alludes that the beast rises from the desert, thought its unclear if the animal represents a sphinx or a manticore. Each half-human figure symbolises the personal revelation Yeats hoped would come to humanity. Yeats’ use of history to reinvent the early beasts reveals the cycle of the gyres is not merely a theory but a principle practiced by man. Yeats reflects upon this own childhood in Ireland. ‘Perne in a grye’, hints at the spinning wheel he saw as a boy in Sligo county. The wheel spins thread faster than the human eye can detect, insinuating how many people live unaware of the whirling gyre they are part of. Yeats employs the system of the threads being woven into one fabric reiterate his theory…

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