Utopia: writing workshop and short extract study

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

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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!

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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)

London during the Elizabethan era

Hey guys, I’m doing a few updates today on this blog…Yes, I’m a little bit behind schedule…

So here’s one about London during the Elizabethan era.

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“I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and the stomach of a king, and of a king of England too!” (Queen Elizabeth I)

This era lasted 45 years: from 1558 to 1603. It’s associated to queen Elisabeth I ‘s reign and is often called : “England’s golden age”. Elisabeth has never been considered as legitimate in the eyes of Catholics and many protestants, even though she had received a very good education.

It was a true Renaissance for English literature, poetry and music. Some of the most famous examples are probably Shakespeare (who is sooo amazing, I could spend hours listening to “Hamlet” on my MP3!) and Spencer with the “Faerie Queene”. English verses were filled with a beauty and elegance we had not seen since Chaucer (The father of English literature and an outstanding poet). The cultural heritage left by this era was huge.

There were stark contrasts between the social casts:

– First, there was the queen, representing God on earth

– In second came the nobles and aristocrats

– Then the merchants

– And finally, there were the lower classes.

Religion in the sixteenth century was a quite sensitive case. For some time, persecutions between protestants and catholics weren’t as violent as in previous reigns (Tudors kings and queens weren’t exactly the “tender” type…). However, after the pope’s declaration (which claimed that the queen was a heretic) and several plots to take the queen’s throne, catholics have been severely punished and persecuted.

Some scientific and technological progress’ were also made in astronomy (with Thomas Digges and Thomas Harriot) and the navigation skills greatly improved thanks to Francis Drake and Martin Frobisher.

But…What did London look like during the Elizabethan era?

Well…It wasn’t exactly clean! The streets were narrow, dirty and slippery. The hygiene was literally depressing and an awful smell polluted the air. On the bright side London was a very commercial area! The famous London Bridge was also built back then. (okay, it was the old version but still!)

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

Introduction to the Elizabethan age

On the 5th October, we presented exposés and sketches on the Elizabethan era.

The class was divided in small groups of three and each group had a specific subject (The Globe theater; the life in the 16th century; Shakespeare…).

I paired up with Paloma and Solène. We chose “The life in the 16th century”. While Solène looked up the web for information, Paloma and I wrote a sketch. It was an interview between a journalist and a peasant woman from the 16th century…Yes, she was raised from the dead! The woman talked about her daily life, her family and -of course- about the queen: Elizabeth 1st! Even thought we were a bit nervous in front of the class, it turned out well. : )

As for Solène’s exposé, you can read it here: Life in Elizabethan era

Several sketches (very original ones!) were played and a few exposés were presented to the class. You can take a look at them by clicking here: Francis Drake, SHAKESPEARE, The Globe Theatre, Women in the 16th century. A friend decided to make a short manga out of her group’s sketch, you can check it out here: The Globe Theater sketch (made by Youna)

Enjoy! ; )

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