'What had befallen the night?' Analysing the proposal scene in different film adaptations of Jane Eyre
When looking into ways to be creative when working with classic novels, I came across the idea of watching a short clip from a film and comparing it to the book. Period dramas and adaptations can really bring a book to life but of course each director puts his own take. There have been many different versions of Jane Eyre over the years and one of the key moments of the novel is the proposal scene, so I thought it could be fun to look at each version and discuss its good and bad points.
Orson makes a great Rochester but Joan Fontaine is anything but plain, and she does not seem young enough. In the original version Jane sees herself as hidden from Rochester at first but he somehow detects her presence. There is no idea that she is upset at the beginning but I suppose it leads on more directly to her thoughts of leaving Thornfield. Rochester seems very hard on Jane when he tells her she must leave, while in the original the tone of his voice is left open to our interpretation. In this scene as an older man he is playing with her. His declaration of love and admission that he will marry Blanche however is very close to the original as is Jane's statement of being similar to him, although she does not say that they are equal and neither does she declare herself a free human being: another sign of the times? At no time do they even kiss. The setting is obviously of its time (it looks like a studio set) but the time and weather are in consonance with the original text. The lightening striking the tree is perhaps a little dramatic but it puts across the idea of the weather, or maybe the Gods, disaproving of the relationship.
I haven't seen this version but they seem to jump from Mason being attacked to the proposal. Hasn't Jane been to see her aunt? The scene appears to take place in the morning. Rochester doesn't declare himself and does not agree that he and Jane are equal. Jane does not declare herself as free. Jane does express her doubts when Rochester proposes. He does ask God to forgive him. George Scott makes a good Rochester but Susannah York is anything but plain and looks too old. I guess they do put across the main elements of the story but I miss the old language of the book.
Despite the fact that again Jane looks too old (she is supposed to be barely 18 afrer all) this scene is over all very true to the original. The scene is set at night and starts when Jane and Rochester are already together. I like the shot looking down through the trees it sets the scene well as Bronte pays a lot of attention to the scents, the smells, the shade and the wildlife in her description. When Rochester mentions Jane's leaving he associates it, as in keeping with her role as governess, with Adele going to school. Again here Rochester speaks very coldly apparently wthout regard for Jane's feelings. However, he sounds frankly insincere when he talks of the connection between them, I am not feeling it. The speech is reported almost entirely verbatim, including the part about being equal. And then he kisses her as in the book. After she also says the part about not being a bird, which is one of the keys quotes of the novel and should not be left out. Interestingly the scene also includes some of Jane's thoughts , which adds another dimension to the scene and reminds us that it is told from Jane's recollection. Thunder sounds just before Rochester assures himself that everything will be okay and again more strongly so when he has finished. It thunders more as they walk off. I love this inclusion of the idea of nature disapproving the match.
This film skips too quickly over Rochester's very deep declaration to focus more on Jane, in fact her most important quotes are all there and follow the original very closely, and there are whole chunks of dialogue from the book. They have kept in the nightingale singing and it's a good idea for a film as it adds dramatic effect and allows Jane time to pluck up courage before speaking and gives more weight to her speech. At first she is sitting but she stands up to talk as if it gives her more confidence and perhaps puts her on the same level as Rochester. There is no hint of rain or a storm and and so the scene lacks that part of the atmosphere.
This is the first film version I ever saw and I was living in France at the time so I like the fact that Charlotte Gainsbourg was in it but seeing it again I must say that she is too French to be Jane. There is great attention to detail in some parts, Rochester is smoking a cigar at the beginning, but the song of the cicadas doesn't ring true in England. They also modernise the language too much. Rochester's declaration is nearly complete but then Jane largely brushes over her part. The dialogue goes back and forth messily. Jane says she was treated as an equal, not that her and Rochester are equal, and in fact it is Rochester that affirms they are equal...that's not right! He does kiss her here and it is correctly him kissing her but then Jane kisses Rochester, the bold woman!
Definitely not night and no hint of bad weather. Physically the pairing of actors is quite good, Jane looks much younger and innocent but he might be a little too overpowering. He is very direct about Jane going to Ireland. I don't think that he should have said 'This might sound silly' or 'no, it's ridiculous' when making his declaration. It is not meant to be silly and there is no hint in the book that it is. It isn't right to say 'bleeding inwardly for each other' either. In the book Rochester is referring only to himself, otherwise the line about Jane forgetting him has no sense. I do like the way he takes her hand. Rochester should confirm that Jane and he are equal but he doesn't. The bird quote is missing and there is no hint that Jane doesn't believe Rochester at first. This last part is important because it gives the idea that perhaps all is not clear for her. I also think it is wrong for Rochester to say that he has loved Jane since the first moment he saw her. I don't remember anything like that in the novel. Surely he became attracted to her through their chats and the feeling grew as they got to know each other. Most importantly, Rochester does not excuse himself for his actions in front of God. The kiss is very passionate although all in all Rochester seems unfeeling, he is over confident and shows no sign of regret.
Generally in these films they can't seem to agree what season it is nor what time of day. This is definitely wrong, it's too sunny and I think the weather is important in this scene. I like that they are walking when Rochester declares himself, he can speak more confidently if she is not facing him. The important parts use the original dialogue and I think that's right, these are key moments. If it ain't broke don't fix it! The only thing missing here, and maybe it comes later, is Rochester's defiance to God. If they had kept that and the weather, it would have been perfect!
What do you think? Which of these versions do you prefer? You can find the proposal scene from the 2006 BBC miniseries here. Why not try to cmpare it to the book and write your comments below. I look forward to reading your thoughts!
This month I am trying to think more creatively because I believe that using language creatively could be the answer to better assimilating it. As Jane Eyre is narrated completely by Jane, I thought it would be insightful to consider the story from the point of view of the other characters. The most intriguing chracter is Bertha, Edward Rochester's mad first wife. All we know about her comes from Rochester's account and of course as he has just been found out as a bigamist, he's hardly going to big her up. Victorians defined madness very differently to us. Taking inspiration from the story told by Rochester in Chapter 27, I thought of the moment in Chapter 25 when Bertha Mason takes Jane's veil, holds it up, throws it over her own head and turns to the mirror before tearing the veil in two. What is she thinking as she gazes into the mirror? Here is my interpretation.
'Who is that woman staring back at me from the mirror? She has my thick black hair but she looks old, her face is wrinkled and her eyes are red and bloodshot. She wears a veil like mine on my wedding day. I was beautiful once. Heads turned as I walked through the town. When I came out at the age of sixteen, I always had a line of suitors at balls. How I danced, how I laughed! A kiss on the hand, brief exchanges of pleasantries and jokes. As long as the party lasted, I was the darling of the ball. But the party was always over all too soon. In everyday life the same exuberance I had shown the night before became unexplicably inappropriate. A drink or a touch too far and people started to point. Rumours flew. I was going the same way as my poor mother before me.
I have always been an awkward burden to bear, an inconvenient, embarassing problem to sort out. 'What are we to do with Bertha?' I am too much, difficult, I always say or do the wrong thing. I don't mean it but I can't seem to do anything right. A match had to be found as soon as possible. Preferably someone ignorant of my reputation and family history. A point in my favour was that I had my own money. Could that entice some poor unfortunate fool? If my family moved quickly we could be married before he asked himself too many questions.
We were caught up in a whirlwind of excitement, but in the end I was too much to handle. We came from two different worlds. I sought refuge in the arms of other men; they never stayed long. And then the doctors came and I found a degree of peace in their poisonous potions. But they left me confused and angry. Would no one hear my cry for help? I fear not. My soul was crushed when they tore me away from my homeland and everything I had known. No one asked me my opinion on the matter. A mad woman cannot make her own decisions. And so I go on half awake, half in dream-like state from which I awake at times. I laugh remembering the parties of my youth and weep profusely missing my family, my friends, my land. I cannot go out but the grey dreary view I glimpse through the window of my prison room is in stark contrast with my bright Jamaican island. I adopted violent language and behaviour to shake a reaction out of my husband but it seemed his mind had already been made made up. I long to feel again, any feeling good or bad. That's why I cut myself to prove that I can feel. How could my own brother allow this to happen? As soon as I saw him the rage erupted in me and I stabbed him with the same knife in the hope of awakening something in him.
Grace Poole escapes from our prison at night with a drug-induced trip and whenever lucidity allows me I escape too and roam the gloomy corridors. At times I go to Edward's room and look at him as he sleeps. He never really wanted to marry me. How could he, he never knew me, never really gave me a chance.
I curse the day I ever wore this veil. This veil that wraps around my head like a noose, I will be rid of it!'
What do you think of my monologue? For me it has been a great way of gaining greater understanding of and empathy for the characters.Why not try it yourself? Write something as Mrs Reed, Jane's uncle Mr Eyre, Mr St John, Adele or her mother. I would be happy to read it.
Many of us cling to the rules of grammar when learning or even teaching a foreign language. It is comforting to have guidelines to hold on to, particularly if you have a logical mind. So why do different people have conflicting opinions on what is right or wrong? Language is not predictable, it is wild and changeable and like the people who speak it has many different sides to its character and contexts.
Just like our society, our language has evolved. Many of our favourite classics were written during the Industrial Revolution thanks to which they were made available to a wider audience. Before this time standards in communication were perhaps not so important or more localized. Even our Jane Eyre is scattered with apparent inconsistencies that may call into question the ‘rules’ that we have gone by and hold as truths. Here are some discrepancies in the use of auxiliary verbs that I have noticed while reading.
I have noted different negative forms.
‘I doubted not--never doubted--that if Mr. Reed had been alive he would have treated me kindly.’ Chapter 2
‘I had now got hold of Bessie's hand, and she did not snatch it from me.’ Chapter 2
I usually teach students that the negative form of ‘have’ is ‘don’t have’ (past ‘didn’t have’) but in Jane Eyre I find it often with ‘not’, without auxiliary.
‘You have not an umbrella that I can use as a stick?’ Chapter 12
‘I think she is poor, for she had not so fine a house as mamma.’ Chapter 11
These are examples of archaic language. English is one of the few languages to use an auxiliary verb for negatives and questions. I know that there was a tendency to align English with the patterns of Latin and French grammar, as these languages were considered nobler and purer, so perhaps the absence of ‘do’ is part of this trend. ‘Do’ actually originates from the Celtic language. Moving forward in history Modern English is returning more and more to its roots. Perhaps as English radicates itself as an international language this will change again in the future to make it easier for non-natives to use. I have read that perhaps the practice of using ‘do’ arose from the tendency for contractions and the consequent need to avoid having too many different forms. For example ‘came not’ could have been contracted to ‘camn’t’ or ‘cain’t’, made + not, main’t. Contractions have been keptonly with some very frequent verbs eg modals but in other cases using auxiliaries was a way of simplifying.
‘Do’ or ‘did’ is often absent also in questions.
‘But has he no peculiarities? What, in short, is his character?’ Chapter 11
‘Well, you have been crying, Miss Jane Eyre; can you tell me what about? Have you any pain?’ Chapter 3
There are also questions without inversion.
‘Ghost! What, you are a baby after all! You are afraid of ghosts?’ Chapter 3
If a student came out with this type of question he would get a fierce look from me! Looking online I have learnt that many people disagree with me, saying that tone is voice is sufficient. But if you are not a native speaker you might prefer to make your question more explicit using inversion to avoid misunderstandings. The above question however is like a tag question without the tag: it might be okay in a particular context when you believe you are right and want the other person to agree with you. In fact it is Mr Rochester who most commonly uses this type of construction. He comes across, at least on his first appearances, as the type of person who has fixed beliefs about people and things and is not used to having them challenged.
‘Yes, and Miss Adele; they are in the dining-room, and John is gone for a surgeon; for master has had an accident; his horse fell and his ankle is sprained.’ Chapter 12
‘Leah brought it; she entered, followed by Mrs. Fairfax, who repeated the news; adding that Mr. Carter the surgeon was come, and was now with Mr. Rochester: then she hurried out to give orders about tea, and I went upstairs to take off my things.’ Chapter 12
‘When he did come down, it was to attend to business: his agent and some of his tenants were arrived and waiting to speak with him.’ Chapter 13
‘Be’ and the past participle was used to form the present perfect for all intransitive verbs in older English just as in other Germanic languages. At a certain point the auxiliary verb for the present perfect changed to ‘have’ in English. Also here it is useful to remember contractions, where we can’t tell the difference between ‘he is’ and ‘he has’. If we use the verb ‘be’, the past participle is an adjective and so emphasizes the location of the person in question (ie he is not here), whereas ‘he has gone’ emphasizes the action ( he went so he is not here ).
The verb ‘be’ could also be used as we how use ‘have to’. ‘What am I to do?’ today would be ‘What must I / do I have to do?’.
When you read a classic novel, see it as a work of art, go with the flow and enjoy it as it is. When you speak don’t get caught up too much in the grammar rules you have read in books but rather identify and copy the way that those around you speak. Remember that you are contributing to the evolution and future of the language so enjoy it, play with it. The important thing is to communicate your message clearly.
'The shadows are as important as the light' Get creative in using the language you learn when reading classic novels.
You read the book, you discover lots of new words and phrases, and then? What do you do with them? How can you remember them, internalize them? Graded Readers have lots of exercises, from gap fill to multiple choice cloze, so you can really work with the language you read. Another great way to practise is to use the language to comment and post in the Lost in Classics Facebook Group. But it doesn't have to be a simple comment. This month as we approach spring I want to propose some ideas on how to get creative and have a little fun with it!
What do you think of the picture on the front cover of your book? Why was it chosen? What image would you choose for the front cover? Are there any illustrations in your version? Describe which part of the story the picture refers to. No pictures? Choose an extract from the book and draw your own! Alternatively, create a comic strip with speech bubbles.
Make a glossary for one chapter. Write down some words that you have learned. Add a definition and write an example sentence using the word. Make a word cloud using a tool such as www.wordle.net. Post the cloud as a picture and test other group members, or create a quiz question. Why not try a website like quizlet.com?
3) Write a play
Rewrite part of the story as a play then (for the brave!) act it out or make an audio or video recording of your version.
4) Points of view
Retell part of the sotory as if you were a main character in the story. For example, in Jane Eyre we hear the story from Jane's point of view. What would Rochester's view be? Or Bertha's?! This could be very interesting for Wuthering Heights that is narrated mainly by people who were not always directly involved.
5) What happens next?
Decide what happens after the story ends. Maybe imagine that two of the characters meet again after 10 years. In Wuthering Heights, what happens to Cathy and Hareton? Do they marry, are they happy or are they still haunted by Catherine and Heathcliff? Write the dialogue, or draw a picture with captions or speech bubbles.
6) What if?
Imagine that a key event in the story did not happen or happened differently. What did Heathcliff do when he was away? In Jane Eyre, what if Bertha had not died? Write an alternative ending for the story.
Select part of the story in which different characters are being described. Ask group members to identify which character they think is being described. Play 20 questions. Think of a character and have others ask you yes or no questions to identify who it is. Imagine you are one of the characters of the book. Have others interview you.
8) Spot the difference
Watch the first 5 - 10 minutes of a film version and identify the differences with the book. Yesterday I read the first chapter of Jane Eyre then watched the first scene of the 2011 film. It's fun to compare the picture in your head with the film.
Watch a scene with the sound off and try to guess what the characters are talking about.
9)Make a presentation
Prepare a short presentation on an interesting theme. Include some thought-provoking puctures, quotes and discussion questions.
Ready to get creative? Watch out for all these activities and more in the Lost in Classics Group this month. The more the merrier!
Hello! This is my second monthly book review as Lost in Classics and part of my Classics Club Book Challenge where I have committed to reading 50 novels over the next five years.
This month, February 2019, I have read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. How do I feel after reading Wuthering Heights? Picture yourself running across the moors all day through all weathers and seasons. Your faced is stroked by the breeze, kissed by the sun, burnt by the wind and slapped by the cold and snow. It is now night and you have stopped running and are standing panting, bewildered and exhausted in the darkness when the ghostly laughter of two children breaks the silence. Booo!
What is Wuthering Heights all about? It's all in the title 'Wuthering Heights' 'wuthering' meaning strongly windy and 'heights' the peak, the uppermost point: it's a whirlwind of emotion. When Lockwoood goes to stay at Thrushcross Grange it's like he is entering some sort of alternate reality. Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights, along with their inhabitants seem to live isolated from the rest of the world, their lives strangely intertwined. I get the impression that both houses are under a spell cast by Heathcliff's appeal to Catherine to haunt him that somehow puts a curse on all the Earnshaws and Lintons. Even when Heathcliff dies, he and Catherine continue to haunt the moors and Catherine Linton and Hareton Earnshaw's relationship at the end of the novel hints that history will repeat itself perpetually. Many people focus on the relationship between Heathcliff and Catherine but the book is not called after them it's called Wuthering Heights so I think the story should be seen as more the history of the place, the house and all its inhabitants than just of those two. It's not just about them, it's about social status, the supernatural, revenge and forgiveness, violence and frustration. For me the most interesting of these are social status and revenge. Heathcliff is treated as socially inferior and consequently is not free to openly have a relationship with Catherine, at least in this life. When Heathcliff does achieve social status through wealth ( the fact that no one knows where he gets his wealth from and that ultimately it doesn't really matter how he got it shows how superficial that status is ) he returns to Wuthering Heights to seek revenge but in doing so binds himself further to the house and families putting a curse on himself.
A key aspect of Gothic literature is the way in which family curses are passed down through the generations. Listen to Lockwood's final words.
'I lingered round them (the graves of Linton, Heathcliff and Catherine) under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth.'
Is that a challenge? I can't imagine Linton is thrilled at being buried with his wife and her lover! This must be one of the reasons why Wuthering Heights has inspired many prequels, sequels and reimaginings.
When reading Wuthering Heights you must keep in mind that Emily Bronte was first and foremost a poet so her writing is lyrical. I think that understanding Wuthering Heights is enhanced by listening to it as an audiobook like listening to an epic poem. So for further reading I recommend exploring her poetry. Imagination is one of the greatest gifts I have been blessed or cursed wiith so I particularly like this poem
When weary with the long day's care,
And earthly change from pain to pain,
And lost, and ready to despair,
Thy kind voice calls me back again:
Oh, my true friend! I am not lone,
While then canst speak with such a tone!
So hopeless is the world without;
The world within I doubly prize;
Thy world, where guile, and hate, and doubt,
And cold suspicion never rise;
Where thou, and I, and Liberty,
Have undisputed sovereignty.
What matters it, that all around
Danger, and guilt, and darkness lie,
If but within our bosom's bound
We hold a bright, untroubled sky,
Warm with ten thousand mingled rays
Of suns that know no winter days?
Reason, indeed, may oft complain
For Nature's sad reality,
And tell the suffering heart how vain
Its cherished dreams must always be;
And Truth may rudely trample down
The flowers of Fancy, newly-blown:
But thou art ever there, to bring
The hovering vision back, and breathe
New glories o'er the blighted spring,
And call a lovelier Life from Death.
And whisper, with a voice divine,
Of real worlds, as bright as thine.
I trust not to thy phantom bliss,
Yet, still, in evening's quiet hour,
With never-failing thankfulness,
I welcome thee, Benignant Power;
Sure solacer of human cares,
And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!
Let me know in the comments if you discover any other beautiful poems by Emily Bronte.
Next month's novel will be Jane Eyre by Emily's sister Charlotte. You will find the book in different versions in the BOOKS! section of this website.
How are you getting on with Wuthering Heights? When I read the novel as a teenager I loved the angst and the depth of emotion but I must admit that today I am getting a bit fed up with some of the characters being so melodramatic, particularly Linton Heathcliff, the feeble son of Heathcliff and Isabella. He's so whiney at times I feel like giving him a good slap around the chops!
'I can't speak to you,' he murmured; 'you've hurt me so that I shall lie awake all night choking with this cough. If you had it you'd know what it was; but YOU'LL be comfortably asleep while I'm in agony, and nobody near me. I wonder how you would like to pass those fearful nights!' And he began to wail aloud, for very pity of himself.'
On the other hand, all of the characters talk verbosely as if narrator Nelly Dean were trying to impress Lockwood with her vocabulary, not wanting to show herself up as a servant.
'I uttered an ejaculation of discontent' = 'I sighed'
We must not forget that that Emily wrote over 200 poems. She was a poet more than a prose writer and it shows in her writing style. I am listening to an audiobook version and I think this style definitely benefits from hearing it read aloud. It's the sound that is beautiful as the words are chosen very carefully. Then Joseph, the servant's speech is virtually incomprehensible just by reading, even for native speakers! There are also words that we don't use today or that are considered formal today. I am a real word nerd so I enjoy looking up the difficult words and especially looking up their etymology but I recognise it's not for everybody.
Are you finding the style a bit heavy? It's ok to admit it and a good way to get over your fears is to stare your enemy in the face! Comparing the original book with graded readers can sometimes help but as those are simplified versions they often leave out entire passages. So I thought it could be fun to try transforming some phrases from Chapter 34 into their more modern equivalent!
Match the words from the novel 1 - 5 with their equivalents a - e.
1. … an every-day spectacle a. … if it was a good time to tell him off
2. …. framed an excuse b. … see if what she said was true
3. … ascertain the truth of her statement c. … something you see every day
4. … divine the occasion of his good humour d. … made an excuse
5. ...whether it were a proper opportunity to e. … guess why he was in such a good mood
offer a bit of admonition
What differences can you notice between the original quote and my modern interpretation?
To speak 18th/19th century Gothic style
- use lots of nouns and noun phrases (particularly nouns of Latin origin)
- use more formal language
- use specific words
To sound more modern
- use short, common verbs (max. 4 or 5 letters) and verb phrases (subject + verb), including phrasal verbs
- use short and imprecise words and phrases
- eliminate all unnecessary words
- basically be informal
Now you try!
Write these phrases, also from Chapter 34, in modern English.
…was going to commence eating when the inclination appeared to become suddenly extinct.
… I deemed it proper, though unsummoned
… Dawn restored me to common sense
… I vainly reminded him of his protracted absense from food
… he solicited the society of no one more
Have a go and write your answers in the comments!
Fancy having a little fun?
Why not try to write some comments in Wuthering Heights style?
Would'st thou permit me to partake in thy observations?
Italo Calvino said 'A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.' Reading a classic more than once, perhaps at different times of your life, you will get something different from it each time. Thinking of the last time I read Wuthering Heights a few years ago, I chose Wuthering Heights for Februaury as a great romance to coincide with Valentine's day. Instead this time round I have found a gothic curse and cannot see the story in any other way. In fact what has hit me this time has been the violence. I have been shocked by the language of Heathcliff and some of the other characters, for example ('Your land, insolent slut!'). I live in the twenty-first century so I can't imagine how shocking it was for the Victorians!
It's always difficult to understand how rude a bad word is in a foreign language, like the difference between 'poo' and 'shit'. So I thought it could be interesting to look at some of the other bad names and insults in the book, their origins and exactly how strong they might be.
1. Go to the deuce - Chapter 1 - 'The 'walk in' was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment, 'Go to the Deuce'.'
Here 'deuce' replaces 'devil' so is a substitution, a way of avoiding saying the word 'devil' and therefore less strong. In the fifteenth century 'dews' ( coming from the Latin 'duo' ) meant the nunber two in dice or cards. It came to be a mild swear word in the eighteenth century as two was the lowest score.
2. Heathen - 'Chapter 9 - You’re worse than a heathen — treating your own flesh and blood in that manner!’
A 'heathen' is a derogatory term for someone who lives in the country (think of heath - an area of uncultivated land). It's meaning extended to indicate a person lacking culture, and a person not belonging to a mainstream religion (not Christian or Jewish), a pagan. Is this the reason behind Heathcliff's name? Oh I think I have just discovered something - I love that!
3. Blackguard - Chapter 1 1 - 'what notion of propriety must you have to remain here, after the language which has been held to you by that blackguard?'
Apparently, this one was really offensive. It originally referred to the lowest kitechen servants in charge of coal, pots and kettles. 'Black' could refer to the black of the coal and dirty pots or mockingly to the contrast with the elaborate uniforms of the armed guards. The term became synonymous with menial jobs, guard of attendants, dark in person, clothes or character and then a following of 'black' villains.
4. 'Scoundrel - Chapter 10 - 'Scoundrel! He is not altogether guiltless in this illness of mine; and that I had a great mind to tell him.'
Speakers of Latin based languages can do some investigating with this word! How do you say 'hide' in Italian? 'Nascondere. If you are hiding you must have something to hide, right? There may also be an association with a Scottish word 'skunner', coming from Middle English, meaning 'to shrink back', 'cause to feel disgust at'. 'Scunner' still exists as a derogatory term in North Yorkshire for a young criminal. Not nice but just derogatory.
5. Cipher - Chapter 20 - 'I guess you’ll report what you hear and see to the cipher at the Grange; and this thing won’t be settled while you linger about it.’
If you want to insult someone, you don't have to imply they are a criminal, just put them down, make feel worthless - call them a 'cipher'. 'Sifra' is Arabic for zero. Latin based language spaekers, sound familiar? 'Chiffre' in French meansd number of figure as does 'cifra' in Italian. All our numbers come from Arabic, right? So the meaning spread from 'zero' to mean any number.
I have enjoyed exploring these bad names so much that I have decided to do an infographic on other insults? Let m wknow if you find nay other examples that you would like to explore further. Would you like to receive my infographic? Send me your email address and I will be happy to send it to you.
Are you sure you don’t have time for reading? Think again! I’m talking about audiobooks - the advantages of using them to improve your English vocabulary, grammar, understanding and pronunciation.
1.Pronunciation and authenticity
Trying to just read a book without audio can be difficult when there are words or terms that you don’t know and just hearing the words being read can help you to erase the doubt that you may be pronouncing the word incorrectly and increase your confidence in using the language properly.
Listening to audiobooks while reading along can increase your vocabulary and comprehension and what is more it gives you great examples of and exposure to patterns, intonation, expressions, different accents & dialects; you understand the “music” of English . It provides examples of fluent reading to copy, perhaps using the technique of shadowing where you try to read the text together with the recorded reader.
With audiobooks you can listen to as much of the story as you want to, whenever you feel like it. Audiobooks are an ideal solution for people who like literature but are too busy to find time for reading. They are great for multitasking. You can listen while you’re cleaning the house or anything else that doesn’t require much focus or during down times, for example when commuting. You can learn a lot of things while stuck in traffic. Audiobooks are really convenient. You can have them on your phone, computer and in the car. This makes the content accessible and you can easily continue where you left off from last time. Whenever I’m reading an actual physical book, I need to find myself a quiet place and almost force myself to be fully present. With audiobooks I find it much easier to pick it up and start consuming – regardless of location, noise level or time of day. It’s just so convenient. You can practice your English on the go.
3. Grammar and vocabulary
When learning a language of course it is useful to study the grammar and the vocabulary then you need to experience how it all fits together in natural contexts. Reading and listening to novels is an excellent way to internalize grammar.
4. Reading and listening together
Text and audio together provide a multisensory approach to reading. A person reading can transmit meaning with the very tone of their voice. If you have read a book before and then listen to the audiobook version, you’ll retain and reinforce much more information. It makes it easier to read. You will be able to read the same text better when you look at it again. On the other hand, you might want to try listening first before reading. It offers the opportunity to practise and develop listening skills.Your understanding will increase by degrees: you will gradually discover different layers of understanding from more general, overall understanding to deeper knowledge starting first with listening and then passing to reading.
Where can you find audiobooks?
I am currently listening to a dramatised version of Wuthering Heights on Youtube and I like the fact that each character is represented by a different reader. There are some wonderfully enthusiastic people who really put their heart and soul into reading . I am thinking of the wonderful reading of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on Youtube. Then there are those that volunteer to read a book in the public domain, for example for Libravox. I admire their commitment and recognize from personal experience that reading a long text without making mistakes is very difficult but some read without feeling and you wonder why they are doing it at all. I would love to take part in this project and try recording a book or at least a chapter, from my experience of reading out loud I know it isn’t easy but I think it would be a lovely thing to do, so watch this space! If any of you are interested we could do a group project! That would be really cool! However to be honest the best versions are read obviously by professional actors as on audible for example. I listened to Wuthering Heights on audible last year and the reading was very inspiring in terms of understanding the importance of listening to aid understanding. Well I am subscribed to audible as well as scribd but honestly I am considering if it is really worth spending the money: there is so much on youtube anyway.
When I am looking for different versions of books for the book section of this site, I usually use vk, twirpx or Project Gutenberg. The latter is a wonderful site full of material in the public domain different formats, the oldest site of its kind. For graded readers I find the Russian file sharing site vk very useful but you do have to search through a bit to find what you want. Twirpx is a member site that allows you to download a certain number of texts and audios for free after which you can purchase credit for a very small fee, well worth it. But why give yourself the trouble of searching? You can find a number of titles in the BOOKS! section of this website. Click on the picture and see!
No excuses! Get listening today! Make the most of every moment of your day!
Welcome to the first of my monthly book reviews. I am doing this as part of my Classics Club Reading Programme ( see the designated page on this site ) where I will be reading one book a month for the next 5 years but also because I think it's a great way to give my take on the story, summarize my thoughts and explain what I have learnt reading each book.
I chose this story because it was reccommended by a friend and I thought a futuristic tale could be a great way to start the year and so it has been! This book is just the sort I like - it's very original and has some meaty ideas to get your teeth into.
So, what's it all about? I'm sorry if they are any mistakes in my account but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Brave New World is set in a futuristic world state where humans are farmed in laboratories and conditioned throughout their lives to fulfill set roles in society and maximise consumption. This human 'production line' world unsurprisingly sees Henry Ford, captain of American industry, as God. People belong to different castes or levels of society and busy themselves with their work, organized sports and parties. They are kept 'happy' by taking large amounts of the drug 'soma' which has no immediate negative side effects and that is provided by the state. Basically everything is different from our society - there are no families or long term relationships and promiscuity is encouraged. Anyone who differs from the standard is considered defective, for example Bernard Marx who comes from the highest caste but who is unusually short, causing him to feel inadequate and therefore doubt the system and his friend Helmholtz Watson, also an 'Alpha' who feels he would like to do something more useful with his life. However, it seems that not all the world is under the world state as there are 'Savage Reservations' where some people live in families, have children and basically live our less perfect life. Perhaps naturally in a world where Ford is God, travel is quick and efficient and so people can easily go on holiday, even to visit a reservation. Bernard goes there with Lenina, a girl who is beautiful but unlike Bernard, shallow and strongly attached to conforming. Lenina is shocked by the way people live in the reservation. It is very rough, dirty and violent, in stark contrast to the world state. The couple meet Linda, a woman who once lived in the world state but was stranded in the reservation there after an accident while she was on holiday. Linda had to stay in the reservation because she was pregnant and it would have been shameful for her to be pregnant in the world state where there are only test tube babies. She raised her son John there with stories about the better world on the other side but they both remained outsiders, she because of her prosmiscuous ways and he because he didn't completely belong to either world. John sought refuge in his only reading material , The Complete Works of Shakespeare, and was inspired by the beautiful language and sentiment. When Bertrand discovers that John's father is in fact the Director administrates the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre he wants to take John and Linda back to the world state to reveal the scandal and discredit the Director who had previously threatened to exile him for his controversial ideas. Once back in the world state, the Director resigns in shame and Linda is put on a 'soma' holiday and eventually dies. This is really sad because it shows how strong her conditioning had been that after tasting freedom she preferred to go back to her 'cage'. John 'The Savage' instead becomes like a celebrity. There is a love interest between John and Lenina but it doesn't go anywhere because she is too superficial. John's grief at his mother's death causes uproar and Bertrand and Helmholtz are exiled by the "Resident World Controller for Western Europe" for antisocial activity. John decides to isolate and punish himself but soon attracts prying eyes. He finds this extremely irritating and lashes out, hitting a women (probably Lenina although this is not clear). In his remorse he commits suicide and is found hanging.
I have found the book very inspiring, particularly some of the words of John 'The Savage', who wants to live life, in all its shades, to the full. The quote
"But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."
sums up what I want to do with my book club. I want to feel strong emotions and 'live a thousand lives' through reading'. I believe that emotional connection makes memorization easier and longer lasting so put simply, reading can help you to improve your English by doing something you love. This quote is my motto for this year as it really motivates me.
As regards the language of the book some of the most interesting examples can be found contrasting the language of two of the main characters John and Lenina. Lenina spouts drilled, bland set phrases that she has learnt through hypnopedia (sleep learning) while John quotes Shakespeare. Okay so the words aren't his own but he adapts them to his own personal circumstances adding meaning.
I have already written an article on idiomatic expressions. Idiomatic expressions are key when learning a language as copying phrases that natives use quickly allows you to sound more natural in a particular context and create empathy and the idea of shared experience and belonging to a community. It allows helps you avoid translating from your own language into English. However, paradoxically, now that English has become an international language, overuse of idioms may be exclusive. Remember that many of the expressions we use today were first coined in literature, most importantly Shakespeare. Why not shape things up a little and create your own or resussistate expressions you read in literature?
This novel raises some interesting questions. How close to our world is Huxley's? Is our decision-making being controlled with social media, pornography, the commercialisation of sex, advertising and reality TV? Mond the Resident World Controller for Western Europe says "The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get." Is that so bad? Do we really want to be happy all the time? I think Huxley contrasts the world state and the reservation to underline the fact that yes, life may be messy and hard but it is real, and in the midst of it we can find beauty as John found Shakespeare.
I spent this afternoon finishing reading Brave New World. What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon! A time for myself, sitting in the sun on the terrace, at the same time catapulted into a strange future world and just like a visitor in another country, reflecting on the advantages or disadvantages of my own reality.
On Friday I found out that there were many quotes from Shakespeare in the book and that intrigued me to continue with my reading. I really identify with John's attitude. He is uplifted by the beautiful expression of human emotions and experience, be they positive or negative. In contrast we have Lenina who despite being exposed to beauty and art, is so conditioned that she cannot understand or appreciate it, preferring to stay in her comfort zone. Lost in Classics is for the Johns in life. My daughter is in the last year of middle school so we are visiting some high schools in order to choose one for her for next year. At the moment she seems oriented towards language high school, but I was impressed by the Head Teacher of the Classics high school who said 'What is the point of studying Latin and Greek? The truth it is not useful, we study for the pure pleasure of learning.'
All this has inspired me to write my manifesto today, to explain where I am coming from and why Lost in Classics is so important to me.
I want to experience life to the full, be open to opportunities and possibilities. I am nosey but with good intentions. The best moments of my life are when other people open up to me, let me see their truth and allow me to share with them without judgement or prejudice. Everyone has a story to share, every experience has something to learn from. Difficult experiences bring out the best in people. Reading is another way of relating to others through the ages. Society encourages us to stay in certain boxes, but in the end our life is our own and we have only one. My own life is specific to me but there are countless experiences and possibilities that I can access through reading. Imagination is more vivid and more wonderful than any film. Life today is so busy we are encouraged to live up to certain standards, to be the perfect wife, mother and friend, be respectable and achieve a good status, get on the property ladder, have a car, buy, buy, buy. For me being is more important than appearing. I want to make the most of every day, not just survive now to live better in a future that may never come. I appreciate beauty and art for art's sake, but like to see beauty everywhere, even in the most unexpected places. The best way to learn is through something you are passionate about, this makes things easier to remember, more personal and less like work. The best way to sound more natural when learning a language is to identify and copy phrases that mother tongue people use. Classics writers' work has lasted in time because they are people that are most able in using language. They present beautifully expressed ideas on timeless themes. The internet should be used for making virtual and real connections and indulging our passions with people that we could not normally meet. Doing something that you love is never a waste on time. In our busy world, it is important to dedicate some space to ourselves, for reflection and even for pure relaxation. Be lost in classics whenever you have the opportunity: you will not only gain in terms of vocabulary but it will also lift your spirits and allow you to feel part of the history of mankind.
Every month, I publish a review of the book I ahve read that month.