Let’s talk about William Morris!

magic_london_by_daria_ts-d4tcwyv

Hey Guys,

This is my last post for today!

Have you ever heard of William Morris?He was a British writer, artist and editor from the end of the 19th century.

He wrote a novel, “News from Nowhere” (1890) which is an utopia.

In the 19th century, London was a poverty stricken city in the midst of an industrial revolution. It was also the end of the British domination.  Previously denounced by Dickens and Blake, the situation was extremely bad and most people can’t lead a decent life.

Morris dreamed of a better city, an ideal place with no deaths, no diseases and no poverty.

The extract is set in London and the narrator is a young man who crosses the Thames and falls asleep on the other side. When he wakes up, everything has changed.

At first, the narrator is bewildered and utterly shocked. The river Thames ain’t dark and muddy anymore, it’s clean and clear. So clean the narrator bathes in it and some people are fishing. The waterman is an educated and good-looking young man with fine clothing and a quick spirit. London’s architecture and buildings have also changed: the factories and smokes are gone and the bridge was turned into a majestic and solid monument. The Buildings are fancy and clean, there’s no more soot.

An ideal city should be beautiful and it’s buildings useful. People feel better in a nice environment. Most have their place in the city. London must also respect its nature, if not, people will die. People are joyful and friendly, hunger has disappeared.

We can make a parallel between Morris’ utopia and the Cox architect.

Oliver Cox was an Architect and from 1950 to 1959, he was part of the LCC Architects’ Department. He was one of the people who designed new buildings estates in Roehampton. He stated : “We were trying to build Heaven on Earth”. He was greatly influenced by Morris and the arts and crafts movement (1860-1910) which conveyed true values. Their ideal was to oppose hand-made goods instead of mass produced goods. They had a “romantic” vision of society and a very powerful vision for a world devastated by war and under the menace of atomic destruction.

Their goal was to transform a wealthy area into a socially mixed area in order to reduce the gaps between rich and poor people. When the buildings were finished, they were given to the poorest people who finally had a true shelter and decent living conditions. The architects tried to recreate Morris’ vision of London by having a beautiful city where social classes were mixed and not separated. Even though some aspects were achieved (such as the respect of nature) it did not quite turn out like Morris’ vision.

We also reflected a short while on our vision of utopia …But it’ll probably be for a next post ^^’.

Good night everyone!

(picture credit: Daria-ts– no copyright infringement intended; for educational purposes)
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The declaration of Independance and a little bit about John Locke

Fourth_of_July_by_Radojavor

On the 4th of July 1776, the thirteen colonized states declared their independence. The settlers wanted their independence from Great-Britain; they paid a lot of taxes but had nothing in return, had not liberty of trade, had to support the war effort and didn’t have any American representative. This led to the Independence war. At that time, George III ruled over England. He was a stubborn king who wanted to create an absolute monarchy. To him, colonies were a way to dominate Europe in time of war for they had considerable resources. In 1783, the war was settled by the Treaty of Paris and Americans gained their freedom.

Extract of the Declaration of Independence can be found here:

What values is this society founded on?

This society is founded on Puritans values: All man were created equal and have undeniable rights. Those rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Theses values are self-evident and were a source of inspiration for many people (French included) . The declaration was a foundation of the new societies they were creating at the time. This Republic gave power to the people and in 1919, it gave women voting rights. It also separated the three main powers.

(French people were inspired by it but added “brotherhood” instead of “the pursuit of happiness”. )

A critical look on the text:

Since everyone has a right to live, why is there a death penalty or abortions?

“All men were created equal” –> What about the African population with the civil War?

The declaration has some ideals –> Gives it a Utopian aspect

I have been to the States before and was pretty amazed to see how patriotic people were. I can tell this means something to them. When I sneaked in Senior High for a day, I kinda got caught in the middle of what is called the “Allegiance pledge” and the whole classroom became really silence and pledged allegiance to their country. I’ve also been there for the fourth of July and wow, so much blue, red and white everywhere! When I compare it to France…Well, we’re not very patriotic! x)

Anyway, back to our study!

This declarations was inspired by a great thinker:

John Locke:

He was a philosopher and was considered as one of the most important enlightened thinker. His ideas revolve around the theory of the State’s nature which is basically freedom and Happiness…He stated a country had the right to rebel if its government didn’t respect Human rights (That’s what he called the Social Contract) and that human being had several natural rights: Liberty,possession, the pursuit of Happiness, life…He also talked about the separation of the State and the Church.

He had a great influence on the declaration of Independence and many of his principles were kept.

 

(picture credit: RadoJavor – no copyright infringement intended; for educational purposes)

 

Utopia: writing workshop and short extract study

Gutten tag! (I’m sorry, just getting a little sleepy…)

cosy_bar_by_adamkuczek-d5ojg4s

Since we talked about Thomas More in class, our teacher gave us an extract from Utopia that we shortly studied…And we also had a GREAT new writing workshop!

(Here‘s the extract)

Question:

1) What is at stake in this extract?

The punishment of thieves is at stake in this extract: when one is caught, he is hanged. Because of poverty, people had no choice but to rob.

2) What are the two character’s position on the subject?

The English lawyer seems to thinks it’s an adequate punishment for thieves. However, he does not understand why there are still so many of them left.

Hythloday has a widely different opinion on the subject: He believes the death penalty isn’t right. It’s not by killing people that the problem will be solved. It just denounces how much people are stricken by misery. He also states that fear cannot restrain someone from stealing: no matter what he does or doesn’t attend, his life is at stake.

3) To what extend is this a topical issue?

Today, the death penalty is still an issue in many countries, including in some states of the US. It’s applied for greater criminality but a human being’s life is still taken.

So that was the short study part…Ready for the writing workshop? I worked with a classmate (Don’t know her blog, sorry) and basically, we had to continue the dialog between the English lawyer and Hythloday. We had to act it out in front of our other classmates and our teacher. (BTW: I was playing the English lawyer…So yeah, I guess I was the bad guy!)

E.L: “Have you Heard the news? Twenty-one thieves were hanged yersterday! Judges didn’t think twice about it…Do you find it severe?

H: Excuse me, yeah, you over there! May I speak my mind?”

The English lawyers raised their eye-brows.One of them stood up and said:

E.L: ” And who are you to speak in such a bold way?

H: Hythloday, humanist and humble servant of arts and knowledge.

E.L: Well, that is quite unusual, would you see that! Some filthy traveler has set his mind onto politics! This seems amusing…

H: I’m a man with as much dignity as you; it’s quite improper for a British lawyer to say such things, you should know how harsh those punishments are for a simple thief!

E.L: Well Mr Hythloday, what do you suggest then? Should we hang their families instead…Or reward them? ” Answered he with a smirk in his voice.

H: “If a thief dies for stealing, what will happen to him if he dares suppress a human life? Will you burn him alive, tear his body apart? Thieves aren’t the problem here, poverty is and if you get to the roots of the problem, political choices are what’s wrong!

E.L: ‘Tis a very dangerous thing to say around here; your life may be holding by a threat. And be sure that the royals have nor time nor money to dedicate to those low classes. It would be such a waste! We’re not talking about citizens here, we’re dealing with parasites!”

Hythloday added quietly: “One day, you’ll be enlightened about this situation; the world will change. If you cannot grant life to an innocent who died, don’t take away the life of a sinner who lives.

E.L: The world will change when thieves will know better or pay properly for their sins!”

The end : ) Hope you enjoyed it and don’t forget to leave comments and subscribe to the blog!

(picture credit: AdamKuczek– no copyright infringement intended; for educational purposes)

 

Thomas and his “Utopia”

Hi…Again!

the_price_of_spring_by_zippo514-d5q5ius

Basically, this post is meant to tell you a little bit more about Thomas More and his “Utopia” written in 1516.

Thomas More: was a British politician and writer from the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century. He’s the one who came up with the word “utopia”, giving it as a title for his novel in 1516. Unfortunately, he was beheaded…

Utopia (1516): is a – Utopian – novel written just before the English Reformation. Its narrator Hythloday confronts his opinion with others during his travels and denounces – indirectly of course – feudalism and religious intolerance.

Ok…So that’s the very basic information. The teacher gave us a question about the vision of the author so I wrote some kind of mini essay look-alike which will surely enlighten you as to who More is really and what’s his vision like. (I have never been doing a structured essay or anything like that so please, don’t stone me if it’s not quite right!)

Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) is often considered as the first British Humanist. Educated in a monastery, he combined classical learning and intellectual curiosity with the religious faith and loyalty of the medieval times. He was a lawyer, a writer, a statesman and at some point was appointed chancellor of England. In 1513, More wrote “History of Richard III”, mostly for political reasons, but his most famous work is without a doubt “Utopia”, published in 1516. The novel was originally written in Latin (it was later published in English) and was a success in Great Britain. In it, More describes a perfect society living according to Humanist’s principles.

How do Thomas More’s vision of social systems and practices compare with those of his own time?

In his first volume, More evokes the drastic economical and moral situation of England. He denounces rack-rents, the extravagance of wealthy classes and an unjust judicial system, too harsh for poor people. The author condemns social gaps and poverty. However, we can notice he is very careful not to criticize Henry VIII by making the story take place twelve years before his reign.

The second part tells about Utopia (which literally means “no place”). More talks about some mythological golden age which also refers to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden before the original fall. Utopia is described as an ideal land giving abundant fruits. There, man creates a society relying on reason and antique values. Aristocracy and social classes don’t exist anymore: everybody is ranked the same and works to make the country prosper. Privileges have also been abolished and everybody has an equal share of property which is switched every ten years. Gold ans such riches despised ans kept to pay foreign mercenaries in case a war breaks out. Marriage is encouraged but unfaithfulness and prostitution are severely condemned. However, divorces and remarriages are allowed, even for women. In such a society, they are valued and have the same access to education as men. They can even become priests.

To conclude, we could see that More brings some answers to his society’s problems through Utopia. Some of the ideas are applicable (concerning education for women for instance) but most of them seem out of reach (suppressing social classes for example). Still, this novel is a proof of the author’s very modern principles and a strong statement against women’s discrimination and poverty.

Do you want to find out more about utopia? Check this video out!

That’s it for now, have a great evening …Or morning, depending on where you are : )

(picture credit: Zippo514– no copyright infringement intended; for educational purposes)

Introduction to Imaginary worlds

narniawardrobe

Hello guys!

Ok…I know it’s been SUCH a long time since I posted anything (Almost 6 months…Shame’s here, I guarantee!) but with the summer holidays and my exams coming up this year…Well, I got a tiny bit lazy. Still, I was so happy to see the blog still had some viewers : )  (Finally had viewers from Hong-Kong and South Korea but have no idea if they understood anything…)

Okay so basically, being back in school means I get to have some English literature lessons and you get to have some new posts!

So…Let me see…We started a new theme in September: Imaginary worlds. It’s pretty awesome when you think about it and we focused on utopias… (Happily, our English teacher is merciful and did not talk about Gargantua!)

The word “Utopia” comes from the Greek “υ-τοπος” which literally means “nowhere”. It was the name given to something which would be absolutely perfect and was used very often as a political tool. It’s literary purpose was also to underline the imperfections of the society.

For thousands of years, men imagined wonderful utopias in response to their society’s struggles such as religious tensions, persecutions, dictatorships, poverty, inequalities…And the list goes on.

The main questions raised concerning this topic were: “Can literature contribute to making a utopia come true?” , “How do writers respond to the world they live in?”, “When they disagree or dream of change, do they act within society’s rules or against them?”

We talked a little bit about it and came up with a few examples: 1984 by Orwell, Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury, Utopia by Thomas More and even Narnia by Lewis (One day, I’ll buy all the Narnia books in a very pretty edition…Feeling that’s a utopia…). We discussed about one of Plato’s dialogs in “The Republic” which evoked a perfect world ruled by wisdom and reason…And he eventually came up with the idea that feelings and emotions were bad (Go tell that to Austen, she’ll be delighted!). Virgil also had his own Utopian world: It would reach perfection thanks to human progress. To finish with, we briefly talked about the garden of Eden which is described as a perfect world in the Genesis of the Bible. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite last…

Ok, that’s it for this post…Next post? Thomas More and his Utopia! ; )