Analysis: "The Soldier", "The Crucible", "Sure You Can Ask Me A Personal Question" and "Take Down the Union Jack"
In this presentation I will focus on analysis. I will analyze 4 texts: two poems, one song lyric and a play excerpt. I will also explain why they fit the time period they are written in. The texts are from the chapters I have been studying up to this point.
Chapter 1: The Soldier
The poem was written in 1914 by Rupert Brooke in England. It is about a soldier fighting for his country, and patriotism shines through. There is a strong sense of giving back to the country that has given so much to the soldier. I believe the purpose of the text is to get young men to join the army, and fight their country's war. The tone of the poem is serious and persuasive. The style of the poem is formal, and is written in first person.
"The Soldier" is an appropriate title because of the content. The poem's setting is in the soldier's mind, in England. It creates a heavenly atmosphere by containing phrases like: "A body of England's, breathing English air" and of course "In hearts at peace, under an English heaven." Brooke has been criticized for the glorifying of war.
The poem is typical for the time period it is written. World War 1 lasted from 1914-1918, and a lot of writing at that time concentrated on the war. Some poems were sarcastic and judging of the war, while others were persuasive to young men, making them join the war. This poem was probably written to make the English men sign up for the army, by glorifying war as a heroic act that must be done.
Chapter 2: The Crucible
The play was written in 1953 by Arthur Miller. It was right in the middle of the anti-communist period of the 1950s. Miller set the play in the Puritan community of Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, where witch-hunting was widespread across the nation. You can draw a line between the two periods, because they are similar in many ways. The puritan community, with their black and white view on good and evil, saw the girls dancing in the forest as worshippers of the Devil. Similar to the period Miller wrote the play, ie the 1950's when the American government accused thousands of people of "un-American activities". Those people's lives where frequently destroyed. You also see the lack of evidence of wrongdoings in both the play and in the 1950s.
Moreover, the narrator is in third person, but has the ability to jump into any of the character's minds at any time. John Proctor is the protagonist, and is an example of an innocent person being falsely accused. He and his wife are subjected to humiliation by the authorities, accused of being an accomplice of the devil by using witchcraft. Miller uses a critical tone in his writing. He is very harsh with the ones who are persecuting the Proctors, and is sympathetic to the victims.
"The Crucible" is based purely on dialogue to convey emotions, thoughts and tension, with a few directions for action. The dialogue is the simple language used by country folks. There is also old-fashioned grammar and vocabulary.
To answer if it fits the period it was written in, it certainly does. The line we drew between the story of persecution of people accused of witchcraft in the play, and the accusations of communistic acts in the 1950s is not random. Miller used his story to condemn the government in his time, by comparing it to the period more than 250 years before.
Chapter 6: Sure You Can Ask Me a Personal Question
The poem was written by Diane Burns in 1989. The first stanza in this poem illustrates clearly that the author introduces himself to the public. It can be proved from the "How do you do?" The poem is set to a conversation between two or more.
There is a great sense of sarcasm in this poem. Take for example the long answering of questions:
No, I am not Chinese.
No, not Spanish.
No, I am American Indian, Native American.
No, not from India.
No, not Apache
No, not Navajo.
No, not Sioux.
No, we are not extinct.
This could symbolize that the author was aggravated by the general ignorance of society. A huge element in this poem is stereotypes. It is not just a criticism of Indian stereotypes; it shows anyone who judges others how annoying it can be. The one who asks questions is being portrayed as curious, but a little dumb in a way. This sarcasm persists throughout the poem, where the author answers stereotypical questions about Indian heritage, religion and culture.
There is mostly one sentence per verse, with no specific stanza. The poem is built up as a monologue, even though it is a dialogue. The author writes as if s/he already knows what the other is going to ask. He or she seems bored, like it is a daily activity. As for the time period it is written in, it is common knowledge that the Native American population has had extremely difficult times through history. Nowadays, there are new problems arising, such as alcoholism and prejudgment from others. This is what the author wants to make a point of.
Chapter 7: Take Down the Union Jack
This song was on the album English, Half-English, and was released in 2002. The songwriter is Billy Bragg, and is known to be a man with strong opinions. This song, for example, was written as a critical message to the monarchy in England. Bragg uses his influence to convey the message of patriotism, while still opposing the hand of the queen.
The song includes phrases like: "Britain isn't cool you know, it's really not that great" and "It's just an economic union that's passed its sell-by-date." You get the sense of rebellion and how displeased Bragg is about the union. It repeats the first line in every stanza: "Take down the Union Jack, it clashes with the sunset", which is both persuasive and romantic at the same time. Romantic because of the description of the sunset. Also, repeating the title of the song makes a strong impact on the listener.
There is always someone opposing the monarchy, and the United Kingdom as a union. Even though Bragg is proud of his country, he believes the monarchy is way past its date of resignation. As far as the union goes, Scotland had an election to vote for its independence and it was a very close call. Scotland decided to stay in the United Kingdom, but it proves there are many who believe the union is not as important as it used to be.
To conclude, all these literary works fit the time period they are written in. I believe the authors were strongly influenced by their surroundings and culture. With knowlegde of the history around the times they were written, the hidden messages of the texts become clearer and more understandable.
Sources: Access: Social Studies, CappelenDamm, 2014, Oslo, pages 370,333-334,135-141,63