Creative Project -Commentary

‘Utopia’, coined by Sir Thomas More (1516) is the terminology used to describe the belief or interest in the design of a “perfect imaginary world” (The British Library 2021). By writing three individual diary entries, this creative project encompasses economical harmony, ecological balance and the evolution of a flawless human race, the core features of a utopian society. Using chief influences from Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We (1921) and William Morris’ News from Nowhere (1890), these dairy entries aim to explore the relationship between humanity and nature, the theme of morality and the idea of the individual.

The relationship between humanity and nature is established in the first diary entry with the speaker describing humanity’s adaption and conformity to nature and its existence based on the seasons. Morris’ News from Nowhere (1890) depicts a socialist utopian world where machinery and industrialisation no longer exist and society’s embracement of nature will improve their way of living and attitude to life. The utopia’s depiction of humanity’s coexistence with nature is heavily influenced from Morris’ own fascination and appreciation for nature, particularly reflected through the Kelmscott Press Edition of the novel, featuring decorative illustrations of flowers around the boarders of the page. Morris’ own publication company intentionally illustrate the boarders to emphasise the literature’s exploration of beauty and nature as critical elements of a utopian society. Similarly, the diary entries explore the embracement of nature by using it as a model to schedule and control how society operates with human and animal mating seasons aligning and hibernation being undergone by humans as well.
Alongside the embracement of nature, Morris’ novel rejects technology and industrialisation and glorifies the celebration of people’s craftsmanship. In News from Nowhere, people worked for a sense of pleasure and individual satisfaction whilst in the diary entries, working provides people with a sense of purpose and enables them to be a pragmatic cog in the cycle of society. Since there is no monetary value assigned to each profession, society work to ensure the successful social coexistence and functioning of society, mirroring the way of the ecosystem. The diary entries highlights humanity’s past obsession with industrial advancement as catalysing its downfall and preventing the peaceful coexistence between humanity and nature. The absence of the capitalist value of financial domination eradicates the concept of corruption enables society to practice a “comfortable, materialistic, moralistic” lifestyle that can encompass all members of society instead of a selective few (Kumar 1993:138). By rejecting industrialisation for the embracement of nature, the utopia depicted in the diary entries mirrors Morris’ socialistic pro-nature News from Nowhere whilst presenting society as self-destructive unless willing to embrace the saviour that is nature and the functioning of the ecosystem.

The theme of morality is prominent in the second diary entry with the speaker debating whether the concept of morality is understood throughout the ecosystem. In Plato’s Republic (c. 375BCE) to achieve an absolute state of justice, morality and the creation of an ideal state are intertwined allowing morality and ethics to be a primary concern of a utopian society. However, in Zamyatin’s We (1921)all aspects of society are determined by numerical calculations therefore the society’s judicial system is based upon the “unalterable and everlasting … four rules of arithmetic” and D-503 believes that a “moral system built on the four rules will prevail as great” (Zamyatin 1921:100). Both D-503’s initial beliefs about the moral system and the first dairy entry suggest that even though morality is not centralised, society can still function efficiently as society’s focus is on functional pragmatics rather than emotional intentions, ultimately still being a utopic society. As the diary entries progress the speaker begins to realise that although society benefits from its submission to the ways of nature, the absence of an authoritative and dependable justice system will result in society’s inevitable decline. Similar to Plato’s Republic, morality is centralised and the speaker realises that without the concept of morality, society’s selfish desires and actions will go unpunished resulting in an unjust and dystopic lifestyle. In Zamyatin’s We, the concept of morality is centralised as D-503 begins to realise that the “justification of a government reducing individuals to a number implies moral error” (Dennis and McGiveron 2000).

The theme of morality closely intertwines with the idea of the individual as D-503 realises the immorality of reducing individuals to a numerical identity. Contrastingly in the third diary entry the speaker realises that without a moral compass the conformity to nature is futile and that being bound to the cycle of nature is an oppressive take on society, stripping it of freedom and individualism. In We, D-503’s internal struggle between his ‘old-self’ of machine-like logic and his ‘new-self’ of primitive passion and human emotion (Dennis and McGiveron 2000) is mirrored in the diary entries. As the entries progress, the speaker becomes more uncertain whether the conformity to nature is the most beneficial way for society to progress and she suffers her own internal conflict after realising the importance of morality in society and the absence of it in nature. The exploration of the idea of the individual is crucial to a utopic society as it provides readers with an intricate understanding of the psychological understanding of the utopia’s human race.
Finally, the entries reflect a similar sectioned structure to Morris’ News from Nowhere with the first section outlining the different functioning aspects of society whilst the second and third section discuss the effect of the clockwork upon society. The entries also encompass a formalised tone which depletes into a despairing and overly confused one as the entries progress which is similar to the writing tone and character construction Zamyatin uses in We.

In conclusion, although the entries predominantly reflect a utopic society like Morris’, they highlight the individual’s psychological decline and epiphanic realisation that regardless the intention of the restriction, any degree of restriction is synonymic to a dystopic society. In my opinion, any form of restriction upon society can result in the society to be perceived as dystopic rather than utopic as it prevents individuals from having complete and unhindered freedom of choice and morality.

List of References:

Dennis, B.J. and McGiveron, R.O. (2000) ‘Zamyatin’s We’ The Explicator [online] 58 (4), 211-213. available from < file:///C:/Users/Diya%20Chopra/Downloads/Zamyatin’s_We%20Explicator%20(1).pdf> [3 July 2021]

Kumar, K. (1993) ‘News From Nowhere: the Renewal of Utopia’.  History of Political Thought [online] 14 (1), 133-143. Available from <https://www.jstor.org/stable/26214424> [4 July 2021]

The British Library (2021) Thomas More’s Utopia [online] available from <https://www.bl.uk/learning/timeline/item126618.html> [2 July 2021]

Zamyatin, Y. (1921) We. [online] trans. Clarence Brown. London: Penguin Books Ltd. available from <https://bibliu.com/app/?query=zamyatin%27s%20we#/view/books/9780241458761/epub/EPUB/xhtml/chapter020.html#page_100> [4 July 2021]

Creative Project -Diary Entries

17.05.4023

Dear Diary,

Everything is just as it should be.

There is nothing out of place, not in any capacity. From the melody of the birds’ morning song to the way the sunlight streams through the windows, there is nothing out of place. It makes sense, to synchronise our lives to the flow of the planet we spin on. It would be nonsensical to just let ourselves run around without any sort of structured routine, it would be like ignoring an instruction manual and then openly wondering why everything is a struggle. The clockwork movement of nature is such an organic way of living, anything that resembles a remote deviation would be the greatest act of foolishness since the near extinction of mankind in 3345.

Before the near extinct of mankind in 3345, the leaders of the world had this unwavering obsession that progression was synonymous with destruction. In order for mankind to develop into masters of ‘advanced living’, we thought destroying the foundations of our planet and sacrificing nature would lead us to be triumphant as the superior race. The history books will tell you, the mass destruction of endless wildlife, poaching for medicine and furniture and the pawning of nature reserves for temporary wealth paved the way for sky-high buildings and poisonous gas pumping factories. Our fearless and visionary leaders believed so strongly in the power of mankind that it blinded itself in a cloud of egotistical desire for more.

More money, more buildings, more technology to induce a comfortable lifestyle at the expense of the indigenous bearings of Mother Nature. In the end, the barely surviving ecosystem couldn’t handle the intensity of this ‘advanced living’. The air stopped recycling out the waste and toxins, in an attempt to survive, everything began to collapse in on itself with a chain reaction ending in the mankind’s ruin.

Thank god for the Clockwork.

The Clockwork is new a found way of life, based solely on nature it conforms wholly to the planet and its cycle without any disruption or disturbance from humans. Quite simply put, rather than humans demanding and dictating the speed of growth, humans kneel before the whims of nature and live their life accordingly. We synchronise our internal body clock to the clock of nature with the natural order of each of the four seasons dictating our own way of living. Each season’s natural order directly reflects our choices and behaviour so that we consistently harmonise with the ecosystem.

Society’s blatant disregard for the clock of nature is what drove humankind to the brink of extinction in the first place but the preservation of nature will create a harmonious balance.

When I think about humanity before the submission to the Clockwork of nature, I am always in wonder at how they ever functioned. Without a peaceful coexistence of humanity and nature, they would remain the largest threat to our environment and subsequently, the largest threat to themselves. Katie understands it less. She fails to see how vital our submission to nature is.

She always asks me the same question, rephrased as to sound as though she had been pondering hard since the last answer I gave her, “How can you be sure we’re so perfect now that we don’t live for ourselves?”

I always answer with a reworded version of the following; “why do you assume that everything nature provides for us, the Clockwork lifestyle we adhere to, isn’t living for ourselves? Every cog of our society, runs just as it should. No element goes too fast or goes too slow, nor does it run for too long or for not enough time, we get to relive in a perfect moment.”

Katie complains about our purpose a lot, she idolises the way we used to assign a monetary value to our lives, exchanging money for our services. “We used to work for money, we had purpose and now we have only the feeling of conformity as comfort”, she’s convinced that the materialistic pat-on-the-back that is money, is an obvious nudge that she’s doing well, that there is purpose to her goals and work.

“But that isn’t the case. The feeling of being part of the cycle of nature is more rewarding than any financial token could have been. You forget it was humanity’s mass greed for these tokens that fuelled their desire for more, the more that almost ended everything. Money is not a purpose. Now, we work on the basis of trade. Without any set currencies, our people are taught that all careers have an equal contribution to the successful survival of society, doctors are the same as market stall workers and that is because they both provide a service. They don’t work for a pay-check, instead they work to feel as though they’re making a difference. Afterall, that is why the beings of nature work, to contribute to an ecosystem.”

I think once Katie understood the analogy of our society with the ecosystem, she began to understand why I was so proud of our revolutionary development from life pre-3345. Naturally, she still had questions and fingers to point. I remember, she came home one day and said that she was confused as to why Friday schooling was compulsory for her and not our neighbour, a stout little boy who was the same age as Katie. “It’s because he learnt quicker” I explained, “mandatory education has no lasting effect on individuals unless their education is tailored specifically for them and their capabilities. He learnt algebra at a much quicker pace and therefore he doesn’t need five days of schooling, instead he only needed four.” It’s the same with nature, insects and animals progress into skills faster than their associates and therefore one bee might be pollenating years before its twin brother, adapting to your environment should be recognised and schooling should be tailored.

She asks other questions too, she likes to be difficult, to question a perfectly balanced way of living and whenever she questions it, I tell her that there is no need to, why should she worry in harmonised world, led by the greatest leader known to mankind, nature.

Margot

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18.04.4026

Dear Diary,

Almost everything is not as it should be.

I feel more like Katie than Margot today. Margot has more faith in the Clockwork’s power and the importance it holds in ensuring humanity’s survival and nature’s preservation. Yet, today I find myself questioning the Clockwork and its precision but unlike when Katie questions the Clockwork, there was no one to dull my curiosity or flatten my suspicions.

The Clockwork is the best way to live.

Unquestionably. Unequivocally.

Yet, I feel more like Katie than Margot today.

It was an average day for the world in the Season of Renewal. Everyone is obliged to spend the seasoning cleaning and organising physically, materialistically and mentally. People must take one walk per day through the Fields of Spring and take it upon themselves to be academically open either by reading or learning a new skill or language. I take my walks during the day-time, with people at their respective places of purpose, the fields are less crowded and better for thinking.

I took the same route following the outskirts of the Main Square and detoured for a shortcut around the eldest Oak Tree, the longest-standing piece of nature from era of pre-3345. I travelled on the same route and at the same pace as I always do, the route carved out by nature and at an undisruptive pace. The fields are supposed to be littered with blooming buds, growing at the pace nature intended, some faster than others but all in due time. Afterall, the Season of Renewal meant everything should have been aligned perfectly. Yet, as I walked through the Fields of Spring, my entire focus was shifted and I was alerted to gaze upon a particular ordeal, its surroundings blurred leaving me blinded to it.

I saw nature. Two insects. Bugs. Creatures.

A microcosmic representation of our own human race. Miniscule exemplary models of how even at our weakest, we can live harmoniously if we follow the ways of the Clockwork.

Or so I thought.

It was strange, quite difficult to put into words. With my focus being shifted to the interaction between the two bugs, I became acutely aware of them and their existence, their stance, their movements, their entire being had an intense power that in that moment, made me certain that our conformity to nature was the finest alignment of human history. Not wanting to disturb them, I slowly shifted my walk at a safe distance, yet I was so enchanted by their placement in our universe’s existence that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from their interaction.

Part of me wishes I looked away and just ignored them because missing their interaction would have been worth more than being plagued with these relentless doubts.

They fought.

Both bees were from the same hive, they had to be there is only one bee hive in the local perimeter that would result in bees pollenating in the Fields of Spring. But they fought. I don’t understand how they could or why they would? The first one was slightly smaller, it seemed as though it has just been allowed to go out and pollenate unassisted. Whilst it was trying to get itself in the optimum position, it was suddenly ambushed by a significantly larger bee who spotted the struggling rookie and decided to push and reclaim.

I was so mesmerised that I didn’t notice the larger bee approach the crimson red flower. It was then that the dispute happened. It all went by so quickly, the larger bee pushed first and by all its might the smaller one clung onto the red flower, begging for a chance. Failing to remain stuck to the flower, after several pushes the larger bee flew backwards, lulling the smaller one into a false pretence of safety, it suddenly flew forward charging mightily and pushing it off balance, ripping it from the flower. It was thrown off. Ripped from the flower. Forcibly surrendered from its chance to pollenate and left victim to the power of the larger bee.

But it wasn’t over. Somehow the smaller bee found some untapped courage and mimicked the larger bee’s fly-up and charged at the larger bee but that only made it worse. Rather than a victorious reclaimant of the flower, it had vexed the larger bee enough which had now rounded on the smaller one and viciously bit it. I watched it struggle to stay upright, tormented by the bite it continued to struggle until its energy depleted so severely that it collapsed in on itself, missed the flower as a landing pad and fell lifelessly into the blades of grass below.

It was dead. Killed by its own kind. It was murdered in a fight for dominance.

This is not how nature should be. The Clockwork is based on nature’s harmonious co-existence, the way nature has a set way of living by the seasons and by its capabilities is what inspired humanity to follow in its footsteps. Why would it kill the smaller bee? Why didn’t the larger one guide it, teach it how to pollenate, be patient and supportive? Why did it act so unfairly? Perhaps we behave unfairly, we mandate education based on capabilities but is that not to ensure everyone receives the most out of it? We work on the basis of trade as to prevent monetary discrimination, not to devalue the work of our people?

The larger bee, it behaved in such an unjust manner it was though it saw no alliance with the smaller bee, as though it was from another hive or another species all together. It was blinded to any resemblances and instead was fuelled by the uncertainty of their differences.

The larger bee was more experienced, more dominant and more powerful. The smaller bee was less experienced, weaker and subsequently disadvantaged.

But the larger bee didn’t care, it only wanted to sustain itself even at the cost of the other’s life. The complete disregard and lack of a harmonious co-existence has left me hollow, questioning the very foundations of nature and the Clockwork. Why are we following an order that is flawed? That exhibits resentment and discrimination?

Margot

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20.02.4027

Dear Diary,

Nothing is as it should be.

The Clockwork is flawed. There is no doubt in my mind that the Clockwork is a restrictive and oppressive cycle. It claims to protect both nature and humanity, mixing them into a harmonised co-existence. The Clockwork was supposed to protect nature and support humanity into an evolution, but how can we evolve if nature is holding us back?

The Clockwork was supposed to be a foundation for our own way of life, just like nature we mandated our children’s education system on the basis of their capabilities, advancing those more capable at a faster rate rather than restricting them to a deadline of progression. The way nature evolved within the seasons, is the way we were supposed to live, Spring would be the time for renewals, moving house and beginning new endeavours. Summer was the time for enjoyment, people would socialise and choose particular leisure activities to pursue. Autumn was the season of preparation, we would work within our careers during this time, buy food and store it, get our homes ready for Winter. Winter. The time for sleep and rest, no work or strain just recovery from the previous seasons.

Everything was divided in such a way where humanity allotted equal times for each aspect of their way of living that there was no way to ignite war or conflict. Prejudice and discrimination were unheard of because everyone followed the Clockwork and were bound to its foundations. Society was so certain of the way of the Clockwork that there was no need to focus on the differences between people because our purposes and our beliefs were all the same that the Clockwork held us together.

I’m not sure that’s still true.

After the incident in the Fields of Spring three years ago, I began to question nature’s sense of morality. It seemed that we never needed this compass of good and bad because everyone lived such rigid and conforming lives that no one ever discriminated or acted out against each other. People were free to practice any chosen career and the basis of trade was a flawless monetary replacement. It eradicated plagues of classism and poverty, the Clockwork is an equaliser and keeps people grounded and united. Nature promotes the concept of our desires as being instinctive and that by synchronising our own cycle to nature’s clockwork we can control when these instinctive urges occur and act upon them accordingly. Years of synchronisation means children are born in the season of Spring and humans crave longer periods of sleep during the winter months. The synchronisation means humanity follows the most efficient way of living.

After going almost my entire life being completely convinced that the Clockwork produces the most successful way of living, I now find myself torn within a moral questioning whether this rigid structured way of life is in fact a form of oppression rather than liberation.

Organised liberation is still a form of oppression. The incident with the two bees in the field made me realise that morality has no bearing on nature. There is no co-existence within nature and that the battle for supremacy is prominent within the same hive as it is among the humans pre-3345. There is no sense of freedom or justice otherwise the smaller bee would have been able to pollenate uninterrupted and the larger bee would have been punished for killing the smaller one. Our dependency on nature as the most faultless way of living is the sole reason we struggle to accomplish the goals of human kind, the reason we haven’t developed but instead opted for stagnated survival. Without a dependable governing body the absence of a enforced judicial system leaves our society exposed to potential moral corruption, without an enforcer there is no certainty that justice exists.

Pre-3345 saw human-to-human oppression. Discrimination based on race, gender and class. These problems were no longer prominent when society conformed to the clockwork, but discrimination still exists, perhaps not so prominently within humans but my witnessing of the bee incident has proved that in a few years, society will revert back to their ways of differentiating. They’ll differentiate between those who progress based on their faster developing capabilities or those who choose to wait several years post-optimal mating and birthing seasons. They’ll blame them, accuse them of risking the probability of higher chances of reproductive success and sabotaging the society and mankind’s progression. They’ll begin to demand more and find excuses to build up their empire of technology through the destruction of nature because of the repressive lifestyle they are forced into.

If there was no unjust action within the ecosystem then surely the Clockwork would have been fine, a plausible way of living. Instead, humanity’s submission to the clockwork of nature is within itself a restrictive and oppressive lifestyle. The way we force ourselves to adapt our lifestyle to the way nature does, the way we trick our instinctive desires to erupt at seasonally appropriate times. We’ve convinced our body clock to mate intime for the birthing season of Spring, to be most relaxed in Summer and the most active in Autumn and in complete emotional, physical and mental hibernation during the Winter.

The Clockwork is flawed. It has to be. We’ve surrendered our personal desires and freedom to feel and act whenever we wanted to conform to nature. We were so sure that nature was the best cycle to follow that we failed to notice that it held no moral compass, that it was slowly handcuffing us into an endless mundane cycle.

Would you rather live being oppressed by your own kind? Or would you rather be oppressed by the kind that you disassembled your entire society to conform to?

The Clockwork is a failure. A restrictive, oppressive and consuming failure.

Margot

Speculative Fiction Essay

3. Examine how speculative fiction questions our notions of what makes us human?

Speculative fiction is a literary genre which is encompasses, but not limited to, the sub-genres of fantasy, magical realism, science fiction and horror. One of the key defining features of speculative fiction works is the concept of a secondary world, in which the laws and functioning are different to our own. Defining the qualities of what makes someone human has been one of society’s most comprehensive dilemmas, hounding the fields of modern science, psychology and philosophy for centuries.
Webster defines humans as being “bipedal primate mammals” (2020) that have specific biological characteristics exclusive to the species of homo-sapiens. Yet, despite having always shared similarities with nature, Greek philosopher Aristotle distinguishes humans as being “rational animals” that have the ability to “pursue knowledge for its own sake” (BBC Future:2015). The philosopher considered man’s “sense of good and evil” was the unique characteristic, that qualified an individual as being humane. Contrastingly, Darwin wrote that the “various emotions and facilities” considered exclusive to higher animals, like humans, are actually “a well-developed condition, in the lower animals” (1871); implying biology as the definitive factor.
In literature, the ‘human condition’ is a term used to describe the “defining positive or negative aspects of being human” (Study.com:2020), typically applied by the reader’s judgement of a character’s morality, based on their actions. Using the focus texts of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief (2005) and Patrick Süskind’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (1985), I will explore how speculative fiction challenges our notion that being human is limited to biological composition rather than the individual’s sense of morality.

Exploration into speculative fiction suggests that the individual’s biological composition is not the deciding factor of what makes a human, rather it is ability to express morality through their choices and actions. Zusak’s magical realism novel, The Book Thief supports this view through the humanisation of the novel’s omniscient narrator of Death. Death is the permanent cessation of all biological functions of a living organism, but Zusak personifies the condition by creating a narration from the perspective of Death, enabling the condition to embody the human characteristics of emotion and judgement, which later influences its actions. Throughout the novel, Death’s ongoing expression of emotion is an attempt to remove the stigma that it is an unforgiving and merciless being by presenting itself as sharing the same emotional experiences as humans do. Death works to convince the reader that despite associated negative stigmas, it “can be cheerful […] amiable, agreeable, affable” (Zusak 2005:11) being, and therefore should be viewed respectively. The italicised ‘can’ emphasises a sense of desperation within the narrator’s desire to be considered to be humane. The psychological concept of metaperceptions, explores how a person perceives other people’s perception of themselves, however, due to these perceptions being based around an individual’s self-concept, they are often inaccurate due to bias (Flora:2005). Death’s adamance for humans to view it as being more than the epitome of cessation, is an identical emotional response of “social anxiety” found within humans (Flora:2005), ignited by reliance upon metaperceptions.
This is further explored when Death describes itself as “performing the job” (Zusak 2005:12), suggesting that its performing a role rather than being an total embodiment of the decay of human life. The narrator is further personified when it admits to using the colours of the sky at the time of each human’s death as a “distraction” to “help cope” and “keep sane” within its line of work (Zusak 2005:12). The use of the words ‘cope’ and ‘sane’ imply that despite being a creator of grief and suffering, Death undergoes the a psychological cycles of stress impacted by the pressures of work similarly experienced by humans. Zusak commented that he purposely humanises Death’s insecurities and “vulnerability” to allow readers to view the actions of Death as being more obligatory than an immoral choice, which in turn, prompts the readers to emphasise with Death (Zusak 2006).
The concept of metaperceptions and outcasts are explored through the protagonist Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in Süskind’s Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. The novel is set during 18th century France, a society chiefly dominated by religion, superstition and the fear of God. The notion that being human was based on an individual possessing the same biological and physical attributes as those who contributed to society’s standard of the ‘norm’. Grenouille’s physical abnormality of having no body scent, combined with his own gift to “recognise individual odours […] from each human being” (Süskind 1985:158), causes his wet nurse and the Priest Terrier to believe he is “possessed by the devil” (Süskind 1985:14). The lack of a medical diagnosis in conjunction to the presumption that Grenouille has affiliations with the devil at infancy, highlights the control religion had upon a medically underdeveloped society. Alongside the influence of religion, the narrow-minded views of society resulted in the continual dehumanisation of Grenouille “The Monster” (Süskind 1985:199), based solely on his abnormalities. Grimal treats Grenouille as an animal who is expected to “heel”, “obey implicitly”, “appear satisfied” and to be “locked up in a closet” every night (Süskind 1985:37), this dehumanisation highlights that despite biologically being a human, Grenouille was outcasted based on his disability. Metaperceptions focus heavily on the idea that our self-concept is fundamentally shaped from our primary care-giver (Flora:2005). Grenouille exposure to religion-fearing and dehumanising care-givers throughout his infancy and adolescent years influenced his intense desire to “acquire the human-being odour” that he, himself, had never possessed (Süskind 1985:158). Süskind takes Grenouille’s self-concept of being undeserving of humanisation because of his abnormality and enables the character to be consumed by the desire to be accepted in the social universe, later influencing his morality.
The construction of Death and Grenouille’s desires challenges the notion that being considered human, stems directly from having ‘normal’ physical and biological characteristics, as like Death, Grenouille, a human, seeks acceptance within a society that reserve humanisation to those whose physical appearance fit a ‘norm.’

Aristotle’s view that a man is defined as human based on his sense of good and evil, rather than biology is explored through Death’s fondness over Liesel and Grenouille’s actions as a murderer. Death experiences similar struggles to those of humankind, despite having no physical or biological attributes of the human race, it is emotionally similar to humans as he devotes his narrative to depicting the story of a leftover human. Liesel begins as just a “perpetual survivor” (Zusak 2005:12) but once she forms her first connection to reading, she becomes a “ten-year old reading genius” (Zusak 2005:51). Death’s ironic choice of the word ‘genius’ is one of the earliest examples of its fondness for Liesel, despite being illiterate, Death perceives her someone who continues to celebrate life despite having suffered grief and loss and “allows” itself to “use her stories to distract” it (Zusak 2005:378). Death’s attachment to Liesel’s life enables the condition to develop a sense of empathy towards the select individuals in her life, rather than to humanity as a whole. When recounting Rudy and Liesel’s friendship, Death comments that Rudy “didn’t deserve to die the way he did” (Zusak 2005:170), alluding to the condition’s feeling of remorse and its empathy towards humans despite humanity perceiving it as being heartless and the unforgiving. This is further reiterated through the line “You see? Even death has a heart” (Zusak 2005:170), the bitter-laced rhetorical question, emphasises Death’s adamance to prove that unlike the stigma suggests, it is more than its job of collecting souls.

Although Zusak uses a timeless narrator, the novel is set during WW2 Germany and Death’s fatigue for his job as a soul collector, is displayed through his lack of empathy for the victims of holocaust. Death notes that “the human race like to crank things up a little” in terms of “increasing the production of bodies”(Zusak 2005:218), alluding to the increasing death toll during wars. Death’s hyperbolic comment of needing a “broom or mop” (Zusak 2005:218) instead of a scythe, comedically uses the stereotypical human perception of the grim-reaper to highlight the sheer intensity of his job. Death dehumanises the deaths of the holocaust remarking that “a few bombs”, “some gas chambers, or the chitchat of faraway guns”, usually “do the trick” (Zusak 2005:218). The idiomatic phrase of “does the trick” is Death’s cynical quip about the morality of the human race and how they audaciously depict Death as having “skull-like facial features” (Zusak 2005:218) and a heartless agenda. Death affirms that it only the aftermath and process of collecting souls and not the killing itself, this emphasises Death’s perception of humankind as being hypocritical as in actuality, they are the cause of loss, not Death itself, making human Death’s greatest haunting (Zusak 2005:378). Some critics would argue that Death’s ability to dehumanise the holocaust is a depiction of evil and would consider the condition as lacking in a sense of morality, however, Death shows compassion and empathy for Liesel and the people she loves. Death’s empathetic attachment to Liesel, resembles the individual human’s empathetic attachment to their loved ones rather than the human race as a whole, making Death’s sense of morality akin to humans.

Contrastingly, Süskind’s Grenouille loses his sense of moral direction, particularly once his man-made body odour fails to integrate him into society and remove the stigma of being an outcast. Grenouille’s gift of “recognise individual odours […] from each human being” catalyses his descent into a state of immortality through his desire to create a human odour by “acquiring a number of personal odours” (Süskind 1985:191). Grenouille’s pride clouds his morality encourages him to make different perfumes for various emotions, whilst his greed motivates him to kill living creatures to harness their scent, which he later uses to control the townsfolk and his victims. The outcome of Grenouille’s sins are met with admiration from the townsfolk, psychologically convincing the protagonist that murder to attain social acceptance is morally correct as the outcome of his actions are praised and he faces no legal repercussions. Grenouille’s ignorance to consequence fuels his desire to “imitate human odour” using “rare humans who inspire love” as “surrogates” (Süskind 1985:197). Grenouille uses the artificially created scent to lure women, whose scent he was in love with, to be his lover before he murdered them to obtain their scent. Grenouille is wholly consumed by his desire to obtain the scents of his lovers, that his conscience is unaffected by the murders he commits as the perfumes results in his reputation moving from being “the solitary tick” and an “abomination” (Süskind 1985:199) to being an talented apothecary of society. This further suggests that Grenouille has no sense of morality, challenging the notion of whether despite sharing biological attributes, he deserves to be considered humane due to his lack of conscious morality, unlike Death.

To conclude, Zusak and Süskind’s speculative fiction novels both challenge society’s notion that being human is based on an individual’s physical appearance and biological characteristic rather than their sense of morality. Zusak uses the narrator of Death to showcase that emotion and a sense of morality can exist in beings that are not biologically human. By comparing Death to Süskind’s Grenouille, the notion is further challenged as the biologically classified human is outcasted based on his abnormalities, which once overcome, the desire to be socially accepted clouds his sense of morality. In my opinion, being human should be based on the individual’s emotional awareness and sense of morality, therefore I would consider Zusak’s Death as fitting the concept of what is human more so than Süskind’s Grenouille.

References:

BBC Future (2015) The traits that make human beings unique [online] available from <https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20150706-the-small-list-of-things-that-make-humans-unique> [11 December 2020]

Flora, C. (2005) ‘Metaperceptions: How do you see yourself?’ Psychology Today [online] 2005 1-6. available from <https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/articles/200505/metaperceptions-how-do-you-see-yourself> [10 December 2020]

Harman, O. (2013) ‘Explaining the Gap: On Humans and Other Animals -Essay Review’ Journal of the History of Biology [online] 46 (4) 740-741. available from <file:///C:/Users/Diya%20Chopra/Downloads/thegapJHB.pdf> [11 December 2020]

Study.com (2020) The Human Condition in Literature [online] available from <https://study.com/academy/lesson/the-human-condition-in-literature.html> [10 December 2020]

Süskind, P. (1985) Perfume: The Story of a Murderer [online] London; Penguin Books. available from <https://bibliu.com/app/?query=perfume%3A%20the%20story%20of%20a%20m#/view/books/9780241975329/epub/OPS/xhtml/chapter002.html#page_13> [11 December 2020]

Wesbter (2020) Human [online] available from <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/human> [9 December 2020]

Zusak, M. (2005) The Book Thief [online] London; Penguin Random House UK. available from <https://bibliu.com/app/?query=the%20book%20thief%20#/view/books/9781473541870/epub/OPS/xhtml/copyright.html#page_392> [11 December 2020]

Zusak, M. (2006) ‘Markus Zusak’s Compelling Appointment with Death’ [interview by Linda M.Castellitto] on BookPage [online] available from <https://bookpage.com/interviews/8341-markus-zusak-ya#.X9OEfdj7Q2w> [11 December 2020]

Portfolio on CDA

Introduction: Critical Discourse Analysis

Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) is a stem of critical language theory that focuses on the product of social and cultural relationships and how they are realised in language, primarily through the way “social power abuse, dominance and inequality are enacted, reproduced and resisted in text and talk” (Van Dijk 2015), within both social and political contexts. CDA contributes to an enhanced interpretation of texts by providing a wider understanding of the significance of “the institutional context, social identities and status of the participants” (Simpson 2019:183) within the text.

Transitivity Analysis: Option 2

Transitivity is “concerned with the semantic structure of clauses”, referring “to who does what to whom, and how” (Simpson 2019: 74). M.A.K. Halliday’s (1994) research focuses primarily on “traditional grammatical approaches which distinguish between verbs that take objects, and verbs that do not”. Using the framework of Transitivity, I will be analysing Jack Elsom’s article, from The Daily Mail (September 2020), reporting a racially motivated incident in a South-East London pub [appendix 1, figure 1&2].

The key features of Transitivity analysis are identifying the participants and distinguishing which of the six process types, represented by the verbs and verbal groups, have been used [appendix 1, figure 1]. Material processes are usually “concrete actions” that “describe the process of doing”, with the “action being performed by the Actor” and the Goal participant being “whom the process is directed to” (Simpson 2019: 75).
In the article, both the perpetrator, Louie Kincella, and the hate crime victim, D’arcy-Smith, have an equal amount of material processes but Elsom’s choice of verbs indicate a particular depiction of the news source itself.Elsom’s repetitive use of the synonymic verbs of, ‘convicted’, ‘made to pay’ and ‘charged’, describe Kincella’s actions whilst simultaneously present the police as being actively against racial hate crimes. The majority of Kincella’s material processes present the latter as being the goal participant and the police being the actor, with the only verbs describing Kincella’s own actions surrounding the hate crime being ‘sent’ and ‘admitted ordering’. Elsom directs focus away from the article’s purpose to inform readers of Kincella’s criminality. Rather, he uses the article to oppose the stigma of racial prejudice currently associated with the police in relation to the BLM Civil Rights Movement (2020) primarily against racially targeted police brutality. Unlike Kincella’s material processes, Smith’s are spilt between being the Actor and Goal participant in an attempt to direct focus on his justice seeking actions alongside highlighting the impacts of the incident upon Smith. The use of the verb ‘contacted’ and the actioned implications of the word ‘complaint’, construct Smith (actor) as being an catalyst for the prosecution rather than being a passive victim; a contradictive take on a typical representation of victims within the media. In contrast to this representation, when Smith ‘passed’ the pub or is ‘left shaken’ (goal), his representation switches back to a state of vulnerability, heightening the reader’s compassion for him. The article demonstrates the linguistic strategy of Exnomination through the material process of ‘weaponised by racists’, distinguishing the concept of Othering through the disassociation with racists and The Daily Mail. Elsom portrays the paper as supporters of the BLM movement despite being considered a notable right-winged source by 44% of Britons (YouGov:2017)

Mental processes are the “processes of sensing” and can be divided into either “cognition, affection or perception”, whilst verbal processes are “expounded by the verb of ‘saying’ and its many synonyms” (Simpson 2019:75). In the article, Kincella is described with more verbal processes than mental which contrasts with Smith’s lack of verbal processes in comparison to mental ones.
Elsom’s deliberate use of the unimaginative speech words ‘claimed’ and ‘admitted’, suggest Kincella was compliant and refrained from verbally denying or justifying his actions. Similarly, the minimal amount of mental processes used to describe Kincella’s actions as ‘just being done for a joke’, imply that his intentions were harmless. This enables readers to interpret the hate-crime labelled incident, as being a wrongful conviction rather than holding Kincella accountable for his actions.
Unlike Kincella, Smith is given significantly more mental processes, which consist of his ‘recalling’ the ‘degrading’ incident and realising it was a hate crime. The article describes Smith as being ‘adamant’ the order was ‘racially motivated’, a repetitive indication of the contradictory portrayal of Smith as a catalyst in Kincella’s prosecution. Contrastingly, Smith’s lack of verbal processes imply he had limited commentary regarding the situation, constructing him into a passive victim who avoids using the media as a platform to raise awareness of racial hate crimes.
The imbalance of the processes, portrays Smith as a docile victim of a racial hate crime whilst the subtle vocalisation and minimal focus on Kincella’s criminality shows a continuation of right-winged media, presenting the white party in a neutral light.

Social Actor Analysis:

Van Leeuwen (1995) introduced the Social Actor Analysis model as a “descriptive framework for critically analysing modes of representing social action, using critical sociosemantic categories.” I will be applying Leeuwen’s framework to an article by Ben Hill from The Sun Online (September 2020), of a football boss apologising for signing a domestic abuser to the club.

The Social Actor Analysis model [appendix 2, figure 1] represents the outline of sociological ‘grammar’ to gain insight to the way different actions are represented in discourse by different social actors. The choice of ‘nomination’ represents social actors in terms of their unique identity, the article displays a repetitive use of nomination [appendix 2, figure 2] to construct the reader’s impression and opinion of the individuals mentioned. Alongside the repetition of Reece Thompson’s name (nomination), he is referred to as ‘yob’ or ‘thug’, examples of identification. [figure 2]. This use of “tabloid-style language” (Machin and Mayr 2012:158) labels him based on his actions as a domestic abuser rather than as a footballer. Hill constructs Thompson within the domain of his criminality rather than as a footballer to dehumanise and expose his identity, whilst simultaneously preventing the media organisation from being categorised as protecting the perpetrator.
Hill also repeats Danielle Thomas’ name (nomination) to humanise her as a victim of domestic abuse and to evoke sympathy within the readers. The journalist also does this as an attempt to show The Sun Online as giving the abuse victim a platform to express her emotions and vocalise herself, an action she was previously suppressed of.
Another key example of nomination is Hill’s repetitive use of the football club manager, Christian Fox’s name. Fox acts as a microcosmic representation of both the club and the collective decision to sign Thompson back to the club which evokes a warped sense of admiration towards Fox, for taking public responsibility of the club’s mistake. This is further explored through the representational choice of backgrounding. Exclusion focuses on exploring how a social actor is excluded or suppressed from text, being a sub-division of exclusion, backgrounding is considered a “less radical” exploration of exclusion. This is shown by suggesting that the social actors are “mentioned elsewhere in the text” if “not mentioned in relation to a given activity” (Leeuwen 1996:39). The article’s repetitive use of the pronoun ‘we’ is exemplar of backgrounding as it relates to the social actor of Fox and the club he represents, without repetitively mentioning the club’s name or the individuals responsible. This microcosmic representation of ‘Fox’ and ‘we’ is also shown through the abstraction [appendix 2, figure 4] of the word ‘club’, being used to direct the spotlight away from the individuals responsible for the decision and instead labelling it in a generalised manner.

The representational choice of functionalisation is used to categorise social actors “in terms of their occupation or social activity” (Simpson 2019: 81). In the article’s headline, the words ‘Football boss’ are used to describe Fox based on his managerial role within the football club, indicating a heightened sincerity in the apology made to Danielle as it has come from an individual of an authoritative position within the club. This contrasts with the lack of functionalisation for Thompson by only referring to him as a ‘thug’, ‘yob’ or using his name rather than words like ‘footballer’ or ‘athlete’, further highlighting The Sun Online’s attempt to disassociate Thompson as a member of their idealistic society and avoid making the club’s mistake of showing support to a domestic abuser.

As well as the article’s use of identification when referring to Thompson, it uses classification identification with the phrase ‘ages ten and 14’, being the only description of Danielle’s daughters. The article also uses relational identification is used to describe Danielle and her relationships as Thompson’s ‘girlfriend’, ‘her family’ and as a ‘mum-of-two’. Hill uses “terms that essentially humanise” (Machin and Mayr 2012:122) to evoke sympathy within the readers by indicating the impact of Thompson’s abusive behaviour on both Danielle and her young daughters, ultimately humanising her as a victim whose personal life reaches beyond being a domestic abuse victim.

Multimodal Analysis:

Multimodality draws upon Halliday’s (1978) social semiotic approach to language and how language interacts with “other tools or ‘modes’ of communication” (Jones 2012:29) to convey meaning. The three metafunctions help to categorise the features used within the framework. Using the features of multimodality, I will analyse the ‘brawny.com’ website, an America paper-towel company which uses its platform to celebrate strength within different communities.

Ideational metafuntion focuses on what “the text is about” (Paltridge 2006:171) by analysing the participants, objects and setting of the visual image. The background of the website’s first photo [appendix 3, figure 1] is comprised of a boreal forest and mountain range, an environment associated with the stereotypical male activities of hunting and lumber work. Whilst participants are a feature of ideational metafuntion, the features that explores the “relations between participants” (Paltridge 2006:171) and the viewer are categorised as interpersonal metafunction. In the foreground, there are three participants wearing red lumber-jack shirts used to compliment the connotations of the background. The contrast of the foregrounded participants and background indicate the brand’s association to wood, the material paper-towels are made out of and act as a salute to their products. The foremost participant adopts a typically masculine pose of having their hands on their hips which contrasts with their feminine long, blonde braids, whilst the other two participants have their arms folded. The construction of their poses removes any gendered stigma and instead portrays it as being a stance of confidence and power, making it as a visual tribute to the hashtag ‘strength has no gender’.

Textual metafunction features explore “how the message is organised” through the way “the elements in an image are arranged” (Paltridge 2006:171) to create an effect. The photograph of the  participants are placed so that they are raised above the forest to indicate that their strength is larger than the strength of nature, making the photograph an empowering visual.
In the website’s final homepage photo [appendix 3, figure 2], the three young girls are the salience of the photograph as the adjacent and above text relates to the organisation Brawny.com fund to support these young girls. The photograph uses natural lighting to remove the impression that the photo is staged. This aids the interpersonal feature of the participants’ gaze of having direct eye-contact with the viewer to make the consumer feel inclined to support these girls who benefit from the brand’s financial support and as a result purchase the brand’s products. This technique is chiefly understood in consumer theory’s concept of using “nudges” to appeal to “human’s psychological quirks”, which in turn sways their decision making (Wilkinson:2012), further emphasised by the designer’s choice of placing the photograph just above the sign-up box.

The campaign’s neutrality stretches beyond the breaking of gender barrier and depicts three different aged participants. The foremost participant’s hair is styled as that of a young girl, there is also young-adult (right) and older-adult (left) noticeable from the body frame and skin aging. This visual neutrality supports the photo’s tag-line ‘celebrating generations of strength’, indicating that strength is neither constrained by gender nor age. In the final homepage photo [appendix 3, figure 2], campaign neutrality is presented by the girls being of three different ethnicities as a way to highlight that the brand support organisations that empower young girls irrespective of their age and ethnicity. The website’s designers construct the site’s homepage with the use of intricately designed photographs and purposeful language to emphasise the brand’s support and association with organisations that empower the community. This construction is crucial to engage viewers with the brand, regard it as trustworthy and an principled source to purchase products from.

References:

Caldas-Coulthard, C. and Coulthard, M. (e.d) (1996) Texts and Practices: Readings in Critical Discourse Analysis. [online] New York: Routledge. available from <https://dl1.cuni.cz/pluginfile.php/486263/mod_resource/content/1/van-Leeuwen-The%20representation%20of%20social%20actors.pdf>

Halliday, M.A.K. (1994) An Introduction to Functional Grammar 2nd end, London: Edward Arnold

Jones, R.H. (2012) Discourse Analysis. Oxon: Routledge

Machin, D. and Mayr, A. (2012) The Language of Crime and Deviance: An Introduction to Critical Linguistic Analysis in Media and Popular Culture [online] London; Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. available from <https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/coventry/reader.action?docID=831527#> [6 September 2020]

Paltridge, B. (2006) Discourse Analysis: An Introduction 2nd end. [online] London; Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. available from <https://bibliu.com/app/?query=paltridge#/view/books/9781441133359/epub/OEBPS/html/9781441133359_09_cha08.html#page_170>

Simpson, P. (2019) Language and Power. Milton: Routledge

Van Dijk, T A. (2015) The Handbook of Discourse Analysis [online] 2nd edn. West Sussex; John Wiley & Sons. available from <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/9781118584194.ch22?saml_referrer> [27 October 2020]

Van Leeuwen, T. (1995) ‘Representing Social Action’ Discourse and Society [online] 6 (1) 82-83. available from <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0957926595006001005> [2 November 2020]

Wilkinson, T.M. (2012) ‘Nudging and Manipulation’ Political Studies [online] 61 (2) 1-2. available from <https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1467-9248.2012.00974.x> [6 November 2020]

YouGov (2017) How left or right-winged are the UK’s newspapers? [online] available from <https://yougov.co.uk/topics/politics/articles-reports/2017/03/07/how-left-or-right-wing-are-uks-newspapers> [27 October 2020]

Appendix List (1):

Figure 1: Transitivity Analysis Table (Option 2)

process typeskincellasmithScotland yard/police magistrates wetherspoons staffpub appwaiterracists
material‘convicted’ ‘ordering’ ‘using’ ‘made to pay’ ‘sent’ ‘arrested’ ‘admitted ordering’ ‘charged’  ‘left shaken’ ‘passed’ ‘delivered’ ‘sent’ ‘ordered’ ‘contacted’ ‘leaving the pub’‘track down’ ‘set about tracing the sender’ ‘not taken seriously’ ‘since apologised’‘order’ ‘made for’ ‘to go’‘carried’‘weaponised’ ‘lobbed’
verbal‘said’ ‘admitted’ ‘claimed’ ‘insisted’  ‘said’ ‘told’‘said’    ‘chanting monkey noises’
mental‘he did not intend’ ‘just done for a joke’  ‘did not know Kincella’ ‘degrading’ ‘recalling’ ‘clicked that it wasn’t ours’ ‘looked at each other… looked at the banana’ ‘was not taken’ ‘adamant… racially motivated’  ‘identify’‘was found guilty’‘has since apologised’   
behavioural‘while he did not deny’‘spontaneously started trembling’       ‘weaponised’
relational‘at his home’ ‘at his home in Mottingham’‘left humiliated’ ‘left disappointed’        
existential‘being in the pub’‘who was with a friend’ ‘was trying to be racist’        



Figure 2: Transitivity Analysis Option 2 Annotated

Appendix List (2):

Figure 1: Teo Van Leeuwen’s Social Actor Analysis Model

(Van Leeuwen: 1996)

Figure 2: Social Actor Analysis Table (Option 2)

representational choicesexamples within the article
backgrounding‘he had been given’ ‘he said signing’ ‘individuals and families’ ‘how sorry we are’ ‘we have caused’ ‘we are not trying’ ‘and she is said she’ ‘their minds’  
passivation‘into[…] back and made her eat paint’ ‘was released’ ‘came under fire’ ‘she was left “fearing for her life”’ ‘suffered a broken jaw and severe bruising’  
functionalism‘Football boss’ ‘a football club boss’ ‘Selby Town manager’  
identification‘thug’ ‘girlfriend’ ‘25’ ‘yob’ ‘her family’ ‘two daughters’ ‘age ten and 14’ ‘34-year-old mum-of-two’  
nomination‘Reece Thompson’ / ‘Thompson’ ‘Danielle Thomas’ ‘York City, Boston United and Guiseley AFC’ ‘Selby Town FC’ ‘Christian Fox’ / ‘Fox’  
abstraction‘his club offering’ ‘said the club’ ‘telling Selby Town’ ‘The Sun Online’  
collectivisation‘fans’  
aggregation‘so many’

Figure 3: Social Actor Option 2 Annotated

Appendix List (3):

Figure 1: Multimodality Annotation Option 1; ‘Strenght has no Power’ homepage image

Figure 2: Multimodality Annotation Option 1; ‘Inspiring Future Generations’ homepage image

Uber v Aslam Case Study Assignment

1: Discuss the role of the jury in criminal cases within the English legal system

In criminal cases, 12 individuals are unsystematically selected to perform the civil duty of jury service. The main use of a jury is “in the Crown Court, where it decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty”[1] by using the evidential facts presented to them in court to make a satisfied decision beyond reasonable doubt.

Despite the initial selection of the jury being random, there are specific requirements that ensure an individual’s eligibility or disqualification from jury service.
According to the Juries Act 1974, every person is eligible for jury service if “he/she is for the time being registered as a parliamentary or local government elector and aged 17-75” and if “he/she has been a ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom, the Chanel Island or the Isle of Man for any period of at least 5 years since they were 13 years”. [2]
In the Juries Act 1974, a person can be disqualified from the jury if they were “mentally disordered (do not have the mental capacity to serve as a jury)”, a person can also be “disqualified for 10 years if they were imprisoned” or given a “community sentence”. A person can also be “disqualified for life if you have been imprisonment for; more than 5 years, for public protection or life imprisonment or equivalent”.[3]
If an individual has received a court order to attend as a jury member, they must inform the courts of their previous convictions or the fact that they are disqualified, failure to do so may result in a £5,000 fine.

Individuals can also be excused from being a juror under the Juries Act 1974 if they are either “too ill to attend, a mother of a small baby, have a business appointment that cannot be attended by someone else, exams and pre-booked holidays”.[4] However, due to the vagueness of the criteria, it excludes fathers of small babies and there is no further explanation of the severity of a person’s illness is, in order to be excused.

As well as excusals, under the Juries Act 1974, “a judge has the power to dismiss a juror when there is doubt as to; their capacity to act effectively as a juror.”[5] This is a controversial statue as in the case of Re Osman (Practice Note)[6] the judge dismissed a deaf man since he would require an interpreter resulting in the jury have 13 members rather than just 12. The judge also added that when witnesses gave their statements and evidence, the deaf man would be unable to identify their tone of voice and therefore be unable to effectively judge their credibility. Controversy is expressed as it excludes a man due to his disability, which suggests a failed acknowledgement of disabled people within society.

The main role of the jury is to collectively come to a verdict on whether the defendant is guilty or not. In cases with a jury, the judge’s role is to oversee the hearing by reminding the jury of their legal role within the court whilst, providing them with guidance. The judge must respect the independence of the jury and therefore cannot prosecute the jurors for their verdict.

On average, a jury deliberation takes 2 hours to reach either a unanimous or majority verdict. Majority verdicts have different acceptance rates depending on the number of jurors in the sitting. With 12 jurors, a majority of 10:2 and 11:1 would be accepted whilst with 9 jurors, all jurors would have to agree on a verdict. The deliberation of verdicts is done in secrecy, which can be disadvantageous as it is unclear whether the jury have correctly understood the information presented to them.

Under the Criminal Justice & Courts Act 2015, it is considered an act of jury misconduct to research a case including “visiting or asking others or conducting experiments”[7] and “sharing any unlawful research”[8] with other members of the jury. In Attorney General v Fraill and Seward,[9] Fraill, a member of the jury contacted the defendant in an attempt to emphasise with her; she then shared the information with the other jurors. Fraill was sentenced to immediate custody for 8 months for being guilty of jury misconduct.

The use of a jury has both advantages and disadvantages. Advantages of using a jury, allows public participation, which instils confidence that members of society are involved in the legal system. Jury equity means that juries make decisions purely based on the evidence presented before them. Juries do not have to provide a reason for their verdict preventing any misinterpretation.   
Disadvantages of the jury system are the susceptibility of jurors to the counsel as their judgement can be easily misled. Constructing a jury is time consuming and expensive and since the jury is selected through a random process, there are chances that there may not be a juror of the same race, age or gender as the defendant leading to possible discriminatory verdicts.

In conclusion, although it has various disadvantages, the jury is a key aspect of the Crown Court as it represents society’s involvement in the English Legal System and provides an unbiased method in deciding the verdict of a defendant.

2: Discuss the Uber v Aslam [2018] EWCA Civ 2748 and how it has progressed from the Employment Tribunal to the Supreme Court.

Employment law governs the relationship between employers and workers and what takes place in the workplace. The Uber v Aslam case follows Uber’s claim that their drivers are independent workers whilst the claimants argued that they were employees. The case transcends from the ET to the EAT and finally into the Court of Appeal, where in each trial, the decision affirmed that the drivers were employed as ‘workers’.

In the English Legal system, the Employment Tribunal (ET) is an “independent judicial body established to resolve disputes between employers and employees on employment rights.” (Acas.org.uk, 2019)[10] Unlike a court, Tribunals are less formal and allow employees to represent themselves without needing a qualified lawyer or solicitor. The role of the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) is to hear the appeals from the ET if either party is unsatisfied with the decision of the ET.  The Court of Appeal is the highest court in England and only deals with appeal cases from other courts or tribunals.

Under the Employments Rights Act 1996, an employee is an “individual who has entered into works under a contract of employment” whilst a worker, is an “individual who has entered into or works under –(a) a contract of employment, or (b) any other contract”[11] which allow them to work personally or for another party. An employee would receive all forms of statutory protection in a workplace whilst a worker would only receive basic statutory protection such as, minimum wage, working time, discrimination and whistleblowing. However, an independent contractor would be classified as an individual who enters a contract of service rather than employment. Independent contractors receive no statutory protection and would be expected to look after themselves whilst working. In Uber v Aslam,[12] the ET concluded that “each of the drivers was working for ULL as a ‘worker’” since the contract still fell within s.230(3)(b) despite the use of self-employment language. In my opinion, this analysis of the case would impact employment contracts and their written contents to ensure that the correct status of employment is formally expressed to prevent misunderstandings between the employers and their employees. The ET’s decision was further supported with evidence of previous public statements from Uber claiming the organisation’s status as a transportation business and their employment of drivers to that extent.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 requires employers to provide their employees with a written documentation, detailing all elements of their employment within 8 weeks. Contracts of employment must include “names of employers/employees, job title, date employment began, terms and conditions regarding pay, hours of work, holiday entitlements”. According to the statue, a separate document on “sickness payments, pension entitlements and notice”[13] and details of any collective agreement and where they can be found, must be provided. In Uber v Aslam[14], the ET held that the “supposed contract between driver and passenger was a pure fiction” since the “passengers had no contract to compel the driver to pick them up” and the point of accepting the request was with ULL rather than the individual driver. This was further supported by the fare payment being made directly by the passenger to UBV, who paid the drivers weekly. UBV then generated an invoice to the passenger, without including the passenger’s full name or contact details. This lack of appropriate information supports the decision that no valid contract had been made between the passenger and the driver.

In a contract of employment, there are various implied rights and duties both parties must adhere to. An employer is obligated to pay wages, provide work and support and follow a duty of care. In turn, employees have a duty of co-operation and confidentiality; employees must show reasonable skills and a willingness to work. Both parties are expected to behave in a respectful and professional manner. In Uber v Aslam[15], the EAT affirmed the ET’s exploration of the relationship between the organisation and the drivers, in which the ET discovered that “ULL exerted a high degree of control over the drivers” following a ‘test of control’ within an employer and employee relationship which was further affirmed by the EAT. In relation to this case, the Court of Appeal referred to the Autoclenz Ltd v Belcher [16] case where in “employment context, the written documentation might not reflect the reality of the relationship” and that the parties agreement was determined after analysing various factoring circumstances. This influenced the Court of Appeal’s decision whereby the reality of the relationship between the drivers and the organisation did not accurately reflect the characterisation of the relationship within the written documentation, making the written and signed contract only a factor in the deciding circumstances.

In conclusion, the progression of the case allowed new evidence to be further analysed and used as justification for the decisions made in each trial. The EAT and the Court of Appeal agreed that the drivers were being treated as workers rather than independent contractors despite the reflection of the written documentation held. The decision of the drivers’ employment status being ‘workers’ allows an increase of the individuals’ statutory protection rights. In my opinion, I believe the decision was fair as it considered all evidence as well as the reality of the relationship between the drivers and Uber.


[1] Rebecca Huxey-Binns, Jacqueline Martin and Tom Frost, Unlocking The English Legal System (5th edn, Published Routledge 2017) 242

[2] The Juries Act 1974 s.1 (1)

[3] The Juries Act 1974

[4] The Juries Act 1974 s.9 (2)

[5] The Juries Act 1974 s.9

[6] [1996] 1 Cr App R 126

[7] Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 s.71 (20)(a)

[8] Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 s.72 (20(b)

[9] [2011] EWCA Crim 1570

[10] Acas.org.uk. (2019). Employment Tribunals Fees, Refunds & Remission | Acas. [online] Available at: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1889 [Accessed 26 Mar. 2019].

[11] The Employments Rights Act 1996 s.230 (a) (b) 

[12] [2018] EWCA Civ 2784

[13] The Employment Rights Act 1996 s.1

[14] [2018] EWCA Civ 2784

[15] [2018] EWCA Civ 2784

[16] [2011] 7 WLUK 790

Portfolio Assignment

As part of my BA English course, our degree class took a week study trip to Valencia, Spain. The trip included university visits to the city’s renowned institutions, a literary tour of the Spanish writer Vicente Blasco Ibáñez and other opportunities to experience the explosion of culture throughout the city.

Our assignment required us to create our own portfolio documenting our discovery and understanding of intercultural awareness, Ibáñez’s life and literary works and the linguistic landscapes through a form of creative inquiry, assisted with an artefact.

Attached is the portfolio including the artefact and relevant referencing.

Enjoy!

Stylistic Analysis Essay

Option 2: Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel

Stylistics is “a method of textual interpretation in which primacy of place is assigned to language” (Simpson 2004:3) and is a core component for literary analysis. This essay will stylistically analyse the opening scene of Hilary Mantel’s fictionalised biography Wolf Hall, a depiction of the life of Thomas Cromwell; through the different stylistic concepts of lexical semantics, speech and thought presentation and modality and shading.
The extract highlights the intensity of an abusive relationship between the protagonist and his father, Walter; through the narration of a violent encounter, establishing a power hierarchy between the two characters. By exploring the key themes of violence, fear and power hierarchy, the language used creates an intense tone which is carried throughout the text, particularly when the Mantel narrates the encounter between the protagonist and Walter.

Lexical semantics “refers to the study of content words” based upon their “descriptive content” in categorising the types of “entities and events they denote” (Kearns 2006). The use of lexical semantics enables a stylistic analysis of the key themes of power hierarchy, violence, religion and death explored within the extract and how they are intertwined within each other.
Power hierarchy is presented through the abusive relationship between the protagonist and Walter, evident through the connotations of the verbs used to describe Walter’s vocalisation and the protagonist’s physicality, in relation to their position of power. Mantel uses the verbs ‘roaring’, ‘yells’ and ‘bellows’ when describing Walter’s vocalisation to suggest the character as being more dominant in the encounter due to the verbs connotating traits of strength, power and control. Mantel further highlights Walter’s dominance by silencing the protagonist and limiting the character’s physical description to ‘shivering’, ‘head down’ and ‘without exposing his hands’. Mantel’s choice of descriptions has connotations of vulnerability and passiveness signifying the protagonist as being weaker than Walter. Similarly, the theme of violence is intertwined within the context of power hierarchy as Walter physically abuses the protagonist by ‘kick[ing]’ and ‘stamping’ on him as a way to obtain and maintain power. Mantel’s choice of descriptive verbs indicates Walter’s dominance as a male during the 16th century as well as his ability to maintain power and control over the protagonist.

Religion and the conflicting attitudes surrounding it, is a core theme explored throughout the extract. The concept of religion being used as a tool to maintain control is stemmed from the use of negative lexical connotation. For the extract’s antagonist, Walter, the concept of religion is used in vain through his commentary of ‘creeping Christ’, the adjective ‘creeping’ being used to present the religious figure in disdain. The narrator also describes Walter’s deliberate ignorance of his better judgement with the suggestive phrase ‘God closes them for him’, alluding to an interpretation of Walter defying God and the overall absence of an omnipotent being, in the protagonist’s time of need. ‘Wolf Hall’ is set in the early 16th century during which, Henry VIII became King of England (1509) and eventually created a Reformation Parliament’ in 1529, thus evolving the implementation of the ‘Act of Supremacy’, allowing Henry VIII to convert the Church of England from Catholicism to Protestantism. Henry VIII’s decision to follow Protestantism was catalysed by the selfish desire to divorce Catherine of Aragon (The History of Parliament Online 2019) highlighting, regardless of an individual’s political position, religion was used as a tool of control within a 16th century society.
Conflictingly, the significance of religious devotion is symbolised by Kat, a character who turns to the reference of God in her time of need. The use of the lexical phrases ‘violent prayer’ and ‘body of God’ indicates Kat’s fear for her brother and how in a moment of uncertainty and fear, she attempts to communicate to God, a reflection of the intense religious belief system within individuals during the early 16th century society.

The theme of death enforces the interpretation of Walter and the protagonist having an abusive father-son relationship. Although there are no deaths in the extract, the finalising concept of death is a foreseen possibility that both the narrator and the protagonist are aware of. The protagonist’s awareness of death being a possible outcome, is depicted through the phrases ‘I’ll miss my dog, he thinks’ and ‘he thinks it may be his last’, with the use of the words ‘miss’ and ‘last’ having connotation of finalisations and endings, Mantel is able to allude to the protagonist’s thoughts of death. Mantel also explores death through the narrator’s recital of the phrase ‘it knocks the last breath out of him’, with the choice of the phrase ‘last breath’ being a connotation of death.
Lexical semantics is an integral stylistic concept used to analyse the extract, particularly when deconstructing the different themes focuses around the text and how they intertwine within each other.

Speech and Thought presentation focuses on the “distinction between what a writer has to say, and how it is presented to the reader” (Leech and Short 2007) and is imperative when analysing narrative texts as it enables a closer interpretation of what characters think and say.
Leech and Short developed ‘The Speech and Thought Model’, designed to explore the concept’s different narrative techniques by splitting the categories of speech and thought presentation. In speech presentation, the model considers “direct speech (DS)” as the “baseline form” (Kvantaliani 2014) for which other forms are often measured against; contrastingly, in thought presentation, “indirect thought (IT)” is considered to be the “baseline” form. Direct speech “represents speech in the way it was communicated to the listener” whereas indirect speech (IS), “the narrator maintains the general idea of the utterance without copying the exact words uttered” (Kvantaliani 2014). The model also studies free variants of speech and thought as “flexible alternatives” to the previously discussed techniques (Latré 2018). Free direct discourse is similar to direct discourse as the character is able to “interrupt the narrator” except there are “neither quotation marks or reporting verbs” (Latré 2018). However, free indirect discourse allows a subtle interruption of the narrator from the character, with characteristics of the discourse usually being “third person singular rather than first person singular” whereas indirect discourse “gives the most control to the ‘quoter’ and less to the ‘quotee’” (Latré 2018).

In the extract, Mantel adapts the model’s techniques and uses a variation of direct discourse, free direct discourse and indirect discourse. Mantel has a limited use of indirect speech as the protagonist filters the narration as being the centre of consciousness and is therefore given more control than the narrator. Indirect thought is exemplary in the line ‘he thinks it may be his last’, despite the reporting verb being in the present tense rather than the past tense, the line still reports to the reader what the protagonist is thinking (Latré 2018). This is effective as it provides the reader with an insight into the protagonist’s thoughts without it overpowering the narration and ultimately highlighting the protagonist’s vulnerability through a lack of speech. 
Free direct thought is evident when the protagonist’s thoughts interrupt the narrator in the line ‘inch by inch. Inch by inch forward. Never mind if he calls you an eel or a worm or a snake. Head down, don’t provoke him’. The words are reported exactly as they would be thought by the protagonist but there are no quotation marks or reporting verbs and therefore this interruption of the narration is characteristic of free direct thought (Latré 2018). Mantel’s lack of quotation marks and reporting verbs prevents an interruption to the flow of narration and maintaining the reader’s engagement to the action between Walter and the protagonist.
Mantel explores direct speech through both the use, separation and absence of reporting verbs throughout the extract. Direct speech is “characterised by quotations and reporting verbs in the past or present tense” (Latré 2018), and is shown through the line ‘“look now, look now,” Walter bellows’ with the reporting verb ‘bellows’ being in the third person present tense. Mantel also explores direct thought by “separating the reported sentence and the reporting verb with a comma” (Latré 2018), exemplary through the line ‘I’ll miss my dog, he thinks’. The use of the comma indicates a division between the sentence and verb distinguishing the thought from the reporting verb. Finally, Mantel adopts direct speech through the absence of a reporting verb, indicated with the line ‘“Come on, boy, get up. […] By the blood of creeping Christ, stand on your feet”’. Despite the absence of a reporting verb, there is a clear indication of the addresser and addressee based on the previous turn of ‘“spew everywhere”’. Mantel’s varied use of the different forms of speech and thought, by the different characters, enables an inexplicit expression of the character’s relationship dynamic without using overly descriptive language. The author’s uneven ratio of speech : thought from Walter : the protagonist, symbolises Walter’s ability to dominate the conversation whilst highlighting the protagonist’s vulnerability. By using Leech and Short’s model, linguists are able to understand the different categories divided by speech and thought presentation and how they are used to analyse discourse in narrative texts.

Point of view explores the “relationship between mode of narration and a character’s or narrator’s ‘point of view’”; it is used to stipulate whether the events of the story are viewed from the perspective of a particular character or type of narrator, sometimes a mixture of the two (Simpson 2004:21). There are various approaches to the study of point of view categorised in the Fowler-Upensky model 4-way model. One of the key approaches of this model is the ‘psychological plane’, classified as “the authorial point of view” relying upon “an individual consciousness” (Upenksy 1973). Modality is regarded as the “grammar of explicit content” (Simpson 2004:131) as it enables “readers to identify the speaker’s opinions or attitudes” towards a “particular situation described and expressed in a sentence” (Parina and Leon 2014).
The stylistic concept of modality is used to discuss the psychological plane of point of view for an enhanced understanding of literary prose texts and is usually categorised into three basic modal shading patterns. Positive shading is categorised as a “narrative modality” focusing on the “narrator’s desires, duties, obligations and opinions” of events that are foregrounded and is most commonly found in first and third person works, exemplary through The Great Gatsby. Negative shading is where an “often ‘bewildered’ narrator (or character) relies upon external signs and appearances to sustain a description”, and its lexical structure of uncertainty is often found in most ‘existential’ or ‘Gothic’ styles of text. Neutral shading is characterised by a “complete absence of narrational modality” resulting in the narrators “withholding subjective interpretation”, creating a “sparse feel” throughout the text. The extract from Wolf Hall, is narrated in the third person present tense, with a complete absence of narrational modality, the use of the third person highlights a withdrawal of subjective evaluation of Walter’s actions and the protagonist’s reactions, evident through the lack of adjectives and a minimal use of descriptive verbs like ‘roars’, ‘yells’ and ‘bellows’. The novel’s biographic narrative form enables the narration to conform to the overall features of a neutral shading pattern and urges the reader to conclude individual interpretations, exempt from narrational influence.
Another key approach is the ‘temporal plane’, in terms of the Fowler-Upensky 4-way model, it explores “the way relationships of time are signalled in narrative”. It envelops a variety of stylistic techniques, including “repetition, analepsis and prolepsis” (Simpson 2004:81). The extract explores duration, a temporal technique that relates to the “temporal span of a story” whilst accounting for the reader’s impressions of the “way certain events may be accelerated or decelerated” (Simpson 2004:81). The extract begins with Walter abusing the protagonist but a temporal change is evident in the line “the next thing he knows, it is almost noon…”, the sentence indicates that the protagonist experienced a blackout due to the severity of Walter’s physical actions; enabling the author to create a shift in the duration of the novel as a way to direct a change in events.

In conclusion, Mantel’s Wolf Hall conforms to various stylistic analysis concepts, allowing an enhanced understanding and analysis of the text. The use of lexical semantics supported my initial impressions of the themes of violence and power hierarchy being expressed through the relationship between Walter and the protagonist. The application of speech and thought presentation, provided new linguistic insights of discourse and supported interpretations of the character’s hierarchal relationship. An exploration of neutral shading revealed new perspectives surrounding the text allowing the reader to conclude their own character interpretations without narrational influence. By stylistically analysing Wolf Hall, I have gained a deeper insight and understanding of the narrative and Mantel’ intentions.

References:

G, Leech and M, Short. (2007) Style in Fiction [online] 2nd edn. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited. available from <http://sv-etc.nl/styleinfiction.pdf> [27 March 2020]

J, Parina and K, Leon. (2014) ‘A Stylistic Analysis of the Use of Modality To Identify the Point of View in a Short Story’ The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies [online] 20 (2), 92-92. available from <http://ejournals.ukm.my/3l/article/view/5129/3404> [31 March 2020]

Kearns, K. (2006) ‘Lexical Semantics’. in The Handbook of English Linguistics. ed. by Artes, B. and McMahon, A. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing (557-581)

Latré, G. (2018) Inside the mind of Thomas Cromwell: The Fashioning of the Self and of Tudor Politics in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. [online] PhD thesis. Université Catholique de Louvain. available from <https://dial.uclouvain.be/memoire/ucl/en/object/thesis%3A14274/datastream/PDF_01/view> [22 March 2020]

N, Kvantaliani. (2014) ‘Variations and effects of Speech and Thought Presentation Categories on the basis of Short Stories by Contemporary Women Writers in English’ International Journal of Humanities and Social Science [online] 4 (8), 31. available from <http://www.ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_4_No_8_1_June_2014/4.pdf> [27 March 2020]

Simpson, P. (2014) Stylistics. Milton: Routledge

The History of Parliament Online (2019) The Reformation: Short Overview [online] available from <http://historyofparliamentonline.org/schools2/ks3/reformation/short-overview> [26 March 2020]

Upsenky, B. (1973) A Poetics of Composition (trans. V, Zavarin and S, Wittig). Berkeley: University of California Press.