Saturday, 9 January 2010

A beetle, an outcast and a goblin walk into an essay....

Sounds like a bad literary joke eh? I suppose in some ways it is - after all, this was my essay! *eerie silence*


So I finished my 3000 word essay on Victorian Literature on Thursday and dared to get a train to Sheffield to hand it in yesterday. And I'm starting another essay today. I hate essays - they're so unnatural and formulaic. Although, once I get into it, about half way through the essay, I start enjoying myself. I try to make my essays enjoyable - after all, my tutor is going to be reading shitloads of the same material over and over and over again, so I like mine to a) stand out and b) make the tutor smile.

This might not be the line to do it though:
"Therefore, is it not possible that she actually enjoys her rape? On some primal, instinctive level?"
Don't worry, I'm not trying to justify any freaky shit - it's all justified in the essay. I hope. Trust me.

So this essay I've just written was on the issue of foreignness in Victorian Lit. I looked at Richard Marsh's The Beetle, which came out the same year as Dracula (1897) and promptly outsold Stoker's Gothic for several years. Heard of it? Didn't think so. It is, naturally, about a beetle who comes to London and terrorises various people. It's an interesting read, if only for a bit of a love story thrown in the middle.

I also talked about Christina Rossetti's poem 'Goblin Market' which tells the story of two women who come across a group of goblins selling fruit. The first sister is tempted (almost hypnotically) by the fruit (hmm......religious elements?) and becomes very ill after eating. Her sister then travels back to the goblin men to save her life. Where she is promptly raped (see, told you it was justified!).

The other poem I discussed was John Davidson's 'A Loafer.' I particularly liked this piece and - as someone who usually doesn't sit down and read poetry for the fun of it - I can see myself doing just that. It's not very long, so why not just have a read:
I hang about the streets all day,
At night I hang about;
I sleep a little when I may,
But rise betimes the morning's scout;
For through the year I always hear
Afar, aloft, a ghostly shout.

My clothes are worn to threads and loops;
My skin shows here and there ;
About my face like seaweed droops
My tangled beard, my tangled hair;
From cavernous and shaggy brows
My stony eyes untroubled stare.

I move from eastern wretchedness
Through Fleet Street and the Strand;
And as the pleasant people press
I touch them softly with my hand,
Perhaps I know that still I go
Alive about a living land.

For far in front the clouds are riven
I hear the ghostly cry,
As if a still voice fell from heaven
To where sea-whelmed the drowned folk lie
In sepulchres no tempest stirs
And only eyeless things pass by.

In Piccadilly spirits pass:
Oh, eyes and cheeks that glow!
Oh, strength and comeliness! Alas,
The lustrous health is earth I know
From shrinking eyes that recognise
No brother in my rags and woe.

I know no handicraft, no art,
But I have conquered fate;
For I have chosen the better part,
And neither hope, nor fear, nor hate.
With placid breath on pain and death,
My certain alms, alone I wait.

And daily, nightly comes the call,
The pale unechoing note,
The faint "Aha!" sent from the wall
Of heaven, but from no ruddy throat
Of human breed or seraph's seed,
A phantom voice that cries by rote.
Interesting no? Even if you haven't studied Vic Lit, you can still appreciate what's being done - a lot of ambiguous comments about society with some strong imagery to do with travel, nature, Christianity et al. When reading, you can really visualise this character and his journey through London. The shrieking voices in the darkness. The uncertainty of what's to come. My favourite aspect is what you get when you ask this question - what happens to the speaker in the end?

No particular reason for me posting this really - got bored!

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the poem - I'm now off to write yet another essay. have a good weekend.

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