The Great Gatsby

Can’t wait for this to come out later this year. Might be worth a school trip.

Those that enjoyed Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet should love this also.


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Macbeth Performance

There is an outdoor performance of Macbeth at Cawdor Castle on the evening of Thursday 31st May. Please get in touch asap if you are interested in going.


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Textual Analysis NAB

Well done G12allstars, everyone passed the NAB today. 🙂

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Change of email address.

Following some problems with my gmail account I want all pupils to use the following address when sending me any work:

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The Story So Far

The story so far…


This piece of writing is aimed at recalling information from the text, refreshing your memory about the story and expressing your opinions about what has happened so far. Before you continue, think about the impact of the story on you and the important events that have occurred so far.


I’d like you to write a review of the text up to chapter 11(Part One). Here are some suggestions to help you focus on this:


  • Summary of the story. 

Don’t write down everything that you know in great detail. Instead write down the significant things that have happened so far and the important characters that you know of


  • Characters.  
    Which characters have impressed you, made you angry, moved you; which character do you most understand or sympathise with; which character is realistic; how do the characters perceive each other (Scout and Jem’s opinion of Atticus, the children’s misunderstanding of the Radley’s….) Include your personal response to the characters.


  • Themes.
    What picture does Harper Lee paint of childhood, growing up, prejudice, The American South, moral courage? What is this novel trying to say to us? What important truths does Atticus teach his children?


  • Symbolism.
    A symbol is something simple which represents an idea or quality. ( ie a flag symbolises or indicates national identity) What does the mockingbird symbolise?  What about the Radley house? What might the closed shutters of the Radley house symbolise?


  • Opinions.
    What important facts and ideas have you learned so far? What is your overall opinion about the novel? Do you have any idea about what is going to happen next? Sometimes novels can be slow to get going. Did you find the opening of the text interesting?

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To Kill a Mockingbird

 “Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop . . . [s]omehow it was hotter then . . . bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum. . . . There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.”

This quotation, from Chapter 1, is Scout’s introductory description of Maycomb. Scout emphasizes the slow pace, Alabama heat, and old-fashioned values of the town, in which men wear shirt collars, ladies use talcum powder, and the streets are not paved, turning to “red slop” in the rain. This description situates Maycomb in the reader’s mind as a sleepy Southern town; Scout even calls it “tired.” It also situates Scout with respect to the narrative: she writes of the time when she “first knew” Maycomb, indicating that she embarks upon this recollection of her childhood much later in life, as an adult. The description also provides important clues about the story’s chronological setting: in addition to now-outdated elements such as mule-driven Hoover carts and dirt roads, it also makes reference to the widespread poverty of the town, implying that Maycomb is in the midst of the Great Depression.

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself” is the most famous line from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inaugural speech, made after the 1932 presidential election. From this clue, it is reasonable to infer that the action of the story opens in the summer of 1933, an assumption that subsequent historical clues support. The defeat of the National Recovery Act in the Supreme Court in 1935, for instance, is mentioned in Chapter 27 of the novel, when Scout is eight—about two years older than at the start of the novel.

From Sparknotes

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Still I Rise – Sample Essay

Question from Intermediate 2 Literature paper 2006:


Choose a poem which arouses strong emotion in you.


State what it is about the subject of the poem which makes you feel strongly, and go on to show how the poet’s use of language reinforces these feelings.


A poem which is bound to arouse a strong emotional response from the reader is Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. It would be difficult not to have a reaction to a poem that deals with the sensitive topic of racism. Angelou skilfully manages to take a subject as macabre as racism and leave the reader of her poem feeling both angry and proud at the same time.


Angelou’s poem deals with racism in an interesting way. She presents us with an insight into what life was like for a black woman in the social hot bed that was 1950’s America. We see the nasty, vicious side that accompanies racism but she also shows us how the human spirit can triumph and “rise” above even the most horrible aspects of life. The poem sends out a powerful message. Her message is that no matter what her oppressors do to her, she will stand up and fight. She will not allow herself to be “beaten” or “broken”. It is the way in which she deals with the subject of racism that allows us to feel a swell of pride in the strength of the woman.


It is the extent of the abuse that Angelou and people like her suffered that allows us to feel proud of the fact that she stood up for herself.


“You may write me down in history

with your bitter twisted lies”


The fact that Angelou uses the words “bitter” and “twisted” allude to the horrible things that coloured people had to put up with inAmerica. We get the impression that this abuse had been going on for years because she says that it had been written “down in history”. Meaning that black people had always been seen as inferior and treated as a sub species. Angelou’s plight makes us feel angry about the way she was treated.


“You may trod me in the very dirt”


“trod” suggests that Angelou was beaten down and stomped on by a society that wouldn’t tolerate her. She was literally treated like “dirt” as if she was nothing.


Despite the horrendous abuse she suffered she stood tall and took it in her stride.


“But still, like dust, I rise”


In this simile Angelou turns her earlier comparison to dirt on its head. She compares herself not to the dirt but to the dust that rises up when something has been trampled on. Even though she has been trampled on, she will rise above it. We can’t help but feel proud of the fact that someone subjected to such abuse would simply rise above it.



The fact is, Angelou will continue to rise above the abuse no matter what is thrown at her.


“Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides.

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.”


She compares herself to the moon, sun and flowing tides. These are all things that happen every day. We know the sun will rise, we know the tides will drift in and out. These things are inevitable, just like Angelou rising up against her oppressors. She refuses to allow herself become another victim.



The message that Angelou will continue to rise above the abuse is obvious in the way in which she addresses her oppressors.


“Did you want to see me broken?

 Bowed head and lowered eyes?”


She uses rhetorical questions to brazenly ask them what they want to see. She doesn’t want to allow them see her spirit “broken”. She knows they expect her to walk around with “lowered eyes” as if she doesn’t deserve to live. She is almost arrogant in the way she asks these questions because she knows she will never succumb to their abuse.


“Does my sassiness upset you?”


She teases them by claiming she is sassy and confident. She knows that society would not tolerate a confident black woman, so she rubs the fact that she is strong in their faces.



She continues this idea that she is above her station throughout the poem


“Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room”


She claims that she walks around as if she had oil wells (which would make her wealthy). The idea that a black woman would be wealthy in 50’sAmericawould seem ridiculous. However, she wants to tell everybody that she walks as if she is wealthy, ignoring the fact that she could never be. We cannot help but admire her attitude.


In the final stanza Angelou drives home her message that she will overcome racism.


“Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise”


She alludes to the painful past her ancestors have had by referring to the “huts” that her people need to emerge from. She describes how deeply imbedded this idea of inferiority is in her people’s psyche by comparing it to the roots of trees. Despite all of this pain and suffering she will continue to “rise”. The repetition of this phrase in the final stanza helps us to see her determination.


She says that people can count on her to stand up and fight


“I’m a black ocean”


By using this metaphor, she suggests that she is big and strong. She is vast and unstoppable, just like the sea.


“I am the dream and the hope of the slave”


She sees herself as the embodiment of hope. She has dared to be confident and feels that others should do the same. She concludes the poem with simple repetition of


“I rise

  I rise

  I rise”


When we see this we feel an immense swell of pride and happiness. We know that this woman has endured horrible cruelty but is still standing tall. She has beaten her would be oppressors by rising above them.


“Still I Rise” is a poem that deals with a horrific subject like racism and yet, leaves the reader feeling a sense of happiness and pride. The fact that we feel this way is testament to Angelou’s skill as a poet. She takes us in and shows us what she has to deal with. She shows the reader that the human spirit can overcome anything. Her refusal to be “broken” should be an inspiration to everyone.

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