Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

Standard

Oliver Wist is conisdered one of Dickens best novels. The story has been adapted several times in both theatre and film. I have found that many of the quotes are most applicable to social problems or the place of women.

“Women can always put things in fewest words. Except when it’s blowing up; and then they lengthens it out.” (Women in society)

“Please, sir, I want some more.” (Social Problems)

“You were present on the occasion of the destruction of these trinkets, and, indeed, are the more guilty of the two, in the eye of the law; for the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.” (Women)

“The boy was lying, fast asleep, on a rude bed upon the floor; so pale with anxiety, and sadness, and the closeness of his prison, that he looked like death; not death as it shews in shroud and coffin, but in the guise it wears when life has just departed; when a young and gentle spirit has, but an instant, fled to Heaven: and the gross air of the world has not had time to breathe upon the changing dust it hallowed.” (Social Problems/ Evolving Attitudes)

“My dear young lady, crime, like death, is not confined to the old and withered alone. The youngest and fairest are too often its chosen victims.” (Social Problems)

“Your haughty religious people would have held their heads up to see me as I am tonight, and preached of flames and vengeance,’ cried the girl.  ‘Oh, dear lady, why ar’n’t those who claim to be God’s own folks as gentle and as kind to us poor wretches as you, who, having youth, and beauty, and all that they have lost, might be a little proud instead of so much humbler?” (Evolving Attitudes – Religion)

 

Salomé

Standard

Salomé is a play by Oscar Wilde, it was written in French but three years after its publication in 1891, an English translation was created. It is based on the biblical story about Salomé who dances for King Herods birthday. He is so impressed by her dancing that he offers to give her anything she pleases, she asks for the head of John the Baptist and is thus responsible for his death. It is important to remember that despite being written in the Victorian period, this piece is not completely original so the only aspect of it that can be analysed is the way in which Wilde chooses to portray the characters based upon ideas that Victorian society gave him. I have been reading the original French version of this play and there were several things I picked up on.
“Regardez la lune. La lune a l’air très étrange. On dirait une femme qui sort d’un tombeau. Elle ressemble à une femme morte. On dirait qu’elle cherche des morts.”
This quote translates as, “Look at the moon. The moon appears very strange. She is like a woman rising from her tomb. She is like a dead woman. It seems as if she were looking for dead things.”
The french word for the moon is ‘la lune’ which is a feminine word which is why the moon is referred to as ‘she’. However, it is portrayed in a mysterious and rather gothic way. At the time the play was set, two thousand years ago, the sun was the main source of light and it would have been very dark at night – a suitable time to commit crime – perhaps even murder, henceforth this is the reason why they were afraid of it. The same could be said about Victorian England. Until the introduction of electric street lighting, the nights would have been very dark and this was the time when many murders took place.
The quote can also be related to superstition. The moon is referred to as though it is ‘looking for dead things’- as though it were a ghost. Victorians were very religious and this often coincided with superstition and belief in ghosts. I think the most likely point of this quote was anticipatig the events to come in the rest of the play however. I believe the moon represents Salomé and the death that it is to follow in the rest of the play that is caused by her. The quote that follows also does the same.
“Elle a l’air très étrange. Elle ressemble à une petite princesse qui porte un voile jaune, et a des pieds d’argent. Elle ressemble à une princesse qui a des pieds comme des petites colombes blanches… On dirait qu’elle danse”.
This translates as “She appears very strange. She resembles a little princess wearing a yellow veil with feet on silver. She looks like a princess who has little white doves for feet. It looks as if she were dancing”.
This refers ahead to other events in the play. The veil refers to the ‘dance of the seven veils’ that Salomé dances and the ‘silver’ feet perhaps refer to the fact that she demanded the head of John the Baptist on a silver platter. Doves are also mentioned several times in the play.

The Importance of Being Earnest Quotes (Act 1)

Standard

“The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It looks so bad. It is simply washing one’s clan linen in public”.

“Nor do I in any way approve in any way of the modern sympathy with invalids. I consider it morbid. Illness of any kind is hardly a thing to be encouraged in others. Health is the primary duty of life.”

“When you become engaged to someone, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange herself…”

“The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no sound effect whatsoever”.

The Time Machine by H.G.Wells

Standard

Image

The Time Machine is a classic science fiction novel by H.G.Wells. It tells the story of a time traveller who ventures thousands of years into the future (802,701 AD) to find a world divided into two species: the gentle Eloi people and below them in underground tunnels, the more viscious Morlocks. The Time Traveller must then reclaim his time machine that was stolen. The book was written in 1895 when social class and evolvements in science were rife. I believe the two species: the Eloi and the Morlocks are representative of the difference in social class at the time. The Morlocks are described as carnivorous and vile but despite this, they managed to build underground tunnels and use machinery which shows their intelligence, this is perhaps representative of the lower class at the time who built and laboured. It is also thought that they provided the clothes for the unintelligent Eloi people who are perhaps represented as the upper class in this instance. Wells decided to depict social class at the time in stark contrast to each other in this way.

‘Again, the exclusive tendency of richer people—due, no doubt, to the increasing refinement of their education, and the widening gulf between them and the rude violence of the poor—is already leading to the closing, in their interest, of considerable portions of the surface of the land.’

Wells novella also demonstrates the evolving scientific theories around at the time – most famously Darwin.

We improve our favourite plants and animals—and how few they are—gradually by selective breeding; now a new and better peach, now a seedless grape, now a sweeter and larger flower, now a more convenient breed of cattle. We improve them gradually, because our ideals are vague and tentative, and our knowledge is very limited; because Nature, too, is shy and slow in our clumsy hands. Some day all this will be better organized, and still better. That is the drift of the current in spite of the eddies. The whole world will be intelligent, educated, and co-operating; things will move faster and faster towards the subjugation of Nature. In the end, wisely and carefully we shall readjust the balance of animal and vegetable life to suit our human needs.

This quote clearly reflects Darwins theories of evolution and natural selection – the survival of the fittest. The Eloi people are described as frail and so are often eaten by the stronger Morlocks. Darwins theories were not accepted by everyone at the time however, much like the time travellers time machine.

-‘You can show black is white by argument,’ said Filby, ‘but you will never convince me.’

-Have a good look at the thing. Look at the table too, and satisfy yourselves there is no trickery. I don’t want to waste this model, and then be told I’m a quack.’

-Then he turned, lighting his pipe, to look at the Psychologist’s face. (The Psychologist, to show that he was not unhinged, helped himself to a cigar and tried to light it uncut.)

These quotes display the scrutiny that Darwin would have faced and the often bleak reception his theories would have been greeted with.

Wells also writes of some more recent scientific discoveries. I believe the following quotes hints at the theory of global warming.

‘I think I have said how much hotter than our own was the weather of this Golden Age. I cannot account for it. It may be that the sun was hotter, or the earth nearer the sun. It is usual to assume that the sun will go on cooling steadily in the future. But people, unfamiliar with such speculations as those of the younger Darwin, forget that the planets must ultimately fall back one by one into the parent body. As these catastrophes occur, the sun will blaze with renewed energy; and it may be that some inner planet had suffered this fate. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that the sun was very much hotter than we know it.

 

Key Quotes – The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Standard

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde:
“And all the time, as we were pitching in it red hot, we were keeping the women off him as best as we could, for they were as wild as harpies”.
This suggests that women were thought of as knowing no boundaries, no constraints and were not in control of their emotions.Harpies – in fiction are typically winged and ugly, this perhaps indicates that women were thought of only as a burden in society at the time. (Position of women in Victorisn society)

“I took the liberty of poiting out to my gentleman that the whole business looked apocryphal; and that a man does not, in real life, walk in to a cellar door at four in the morning and come out of it with another man’s cheque for close to a hundred pounds”.
In the first chapter of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a young girl is attacked by Mr Hyde in the early hours of the morining – 4am. At the time, it may have been common for the working class in poverty stricken London (even children) to be out at this hour, hense the reason why so much crime took place. Nowadays, it would be considered incredibly irresponsible to allow a young child out at that time of the morning. (Ideas of progress/ Social problems)

In The Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, a lot of references to religion are made – “devil”, “hellish”, “catholocity” and “Satan”. In the Victorian era, religion played a very important part in peoples lives, this is perhaps because life was very dull and grim for the poor who did not have much. Praying and believing in a God/ religion gave them direction and hope. At the time, not much was known about life and death. Darwin made his discoveries on evolution and published his book “The Origin of Species” but it was not widely accepted at the time by Creationists. Religion gave Victorians and people before that era security -as regards death. With crime, disease and famine rife at the time, believing in a God made them less afraid of death. (Evolving attitudes)

Jane Eyre

Standard

Jane Eyre is a novel published in 1847 by Charlotte Bronte under the psedonym Currer Bell. It follows Jane from early childhood into adulthood and the hardships she faced along the way. Jane is one of the most celebrated women in the world of Literature. She embodies everything a strong woman ought to be, she is outspoken, determined but also compassionate. This would have been unusual for a woman in Victorian society as they were expected to comply to the social conventions of their sex. Women were expected to be subservient and follow their husbands, they barely had any rights. Jane refused to idly follow a man and despite her feelings left Rochester half way through the novel in order to find her own way in the world. By the end of the novel however, they were reunited and married.

The Importance of Being Earnest.

Standard

Image

The Importance of Being Earnest is a play by Oscar Wilde, written in four acts and first performed two years after a Woman of No Importance in 1895. It is mainly a comedy along with several of his other plays that include comedic aspects such as AWONI. As well as this, there are autobiographical elements within the play, just like some of his other work. Many of his plays are about the upper class, Wilde was born into an upper class Irish family but yet he often seems to mock the way in which his class live. The character of Algernon is similar to Wilde, in a way. At the beginning of the first act, Algernon says “Good heavens! Is marriage so demoralising as that?” Wilde was married and had two children in this marriage, however, he was never really happy. It seems that Wilde did not find married life exciting enough as he would often spend nights out with other people and even had an affair with a man – which was later to lead to his imprisonment. He, like Algernon, seemed to be looking for something to do that was a bit morer adventurous and exciting, he did not seem to be happy with what he already had.