Tuesday, November 15, 2022

'THE MOMENT' By Margaret Atwood A CRITICAL ANALYSIS



The Moment

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.

A CRITICAL ANALYSIS

Margaret Atwood is a well-known Canadian writer, who has won world acclaim for her prose fiction, poems, essays, and for her feminist perspective. The power of the past, individualism, feminism, the conflict between the individual and society, role reversal, and new beginnings are recurrent themes in her novels and poems. Much of her work centred on women seeking their relationship with the world and the individuals around them.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TITLE:
 
Atwood’s poem titled, ‘The Moment’ is a poem in free verse, however, it follows a consistent structure as each of the three stanzas is a set, consisting of 6 lines. There is no rhyme scheme and the poem displays an effective use of enjambment. The use of caesura after “The moment when,” is very effective as the poet takes into account the passage of time in her life or by extension, in the life of everyone. The poet takes a review of how one stands at a point of time in life which may be mapped by the middle of one's life when one has earned success and made an appreciable achievement in life. 

THE USE OF LITERARY DEVICES/FIGURES OF SPEECH:

The adjective phrases, “hard work” and “long voyage” represent life's struggles. ‘Standing in the centre of the room’ is an effective visual image as the poet enlists the acquisitions during life, using the listing technique-house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,”. The concluding line, “knowing at last how you got there,/ and say, I own this” presents a tone of pride as the speaker stands to take stock of her achievements. 

The use of enjambment within the second stanza and between the first and the second stanza is very effective as the poet presents a unification of the moment of achievement and the moment when one experiences a sense of loss. It's a sense of loss by way of experiencing how the trees can “unloose their soft arms from around you” which could suggest the period of innocence when children enjoy climbing the trees, hugging the trees, and jumping from them. 

The second stanza takes readers into that stage of life when those joys are lost either due to the loss of childhood or when one steps closer to old age. The personification of the trees through “soft arms” is effective; also, ‘the birds taking back their language’ could connote the loss of childhood when children enjoy the chirping of birds or it could relate to old age when due to physical disability and the loss of hearing or the loss of sight, the birds’ language does me not mean much.

The use of the simile, “the air moves back from you like a wave/ and you can’t breathe.” may suggest the difficulty in breathing as old age advances and the air which would have led the children to run around and want to fly like birds is not even adequately accessible to breathe. 
The concluding stanza starts with the short, minor sentence, “No, they whisper.” The use of caesura lays emphasis on the negative and the plural, third person pronoun, “they” which relates to the trees, the birds, and nature. 

The minor declarative sentences, “You own nothing.” presents a tone of finality as the poet projects nature telling the humans that they own nothing; the idea of everyone being a “visitor” is presented through the power of three and the verb phrases, “climbing the hill planting the flag, proclaiming” denotes how man may be proclaiming great achievements during his or her life, but nature is shown to have superiority over a man. This is brought out through the declarative negative sentence, “We never belonged to you.” “You never found us.” presents Nature to be reminding man that he could never “own”  Nature.

SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE:

Subtly, the poet suggests that actually, we own nothing. The concluding line, “It was always the other way round.” represents and claims the superiority of nature over man, implicitly, suggesting that man's achievements mean nothing about Nature.
 
The poem symbolizes the insignificance of human life and conveys the message of detachment using sharing with the readers the thought that what we may think to belong to us, does not do so we own nothing. One day we must leave this world. Life is transitory. Man is nothing but a mortal. It is nature that will outlive man until the time of complete annihilation of everything that exists.

Monday, January 3, 2022

A SPECIMEN FILE FOR IB, MYP ON ‘COMPARE AND CONTRAST THE TWO DIFFERENT GENRE'



A SPECIMEN FILE FOR IB, MYP ON ‘COMPARE AND CONTRAST THE TWO DIFFERENT GENRE- THE GIVEN VIDEO CLIP ON THE ROLE OF ‘SOCIAL MEDIA’ AND THE TEXT EXTRACT FROM Chapter 5 of George Orwell's ‘1984’, a dystopian social science fiction novel and cautionary tale published in 1949. {The required length of this TASK in MYP is 350 words; this is a SPECIMEN FILE to showcase the fulfilment of the MYP rubric requirements- could be edited to the required length.} 


The video clip from the documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’ and the text from the dystopian science-fiction novel ‘1984’ by George Orwell, both present similar ideas and messages emphasizing the theme of control by external forces through the usage of a variety of language techniques, highlighting the severity through persuasive and emotional language to bring the audience's attention to the main theme being conveyed. Although the text is from a novel and the video clip is from a documentary, they share a similar aim, purpose and target audience. The aim and purpose of both the pieces are to present the facts and show the true effect of the actions taken by external forces such as authoritarian organizations, totalitarian governments and the dominating role played by social media towards the average people in 1949, with the message still relevant till date.

As presented in the text, Julia is said to be, “often ready to accept the official mythology”, simply because the difference between “truth and falsehood” did not seem important to her. “She believed, for instance, having learnt it at school, that the Party had invented aeroplanes.” features how everyone just accepted what they were informed. The use of the adjective phrase "official mythology" hints towards the lack of verification of news, at the time, meant that the official channels were the main source of news and satirizes the system that conditioned public opinion; they were given no other option but to believe what was being told.  Fabricated facts were being conveyed to the public via official channels, misleading the public into believing them. Juxtaposition is seen in the noun phrase "truth and falsehood" and links back to "official mythology" as the information released by the Party contained some factual points but most of it was just false fabrication of facts to portray the Party in a better light. The use of the negative tone - "did not seem important to her" shows the lack of concern and attention the people had towards the fabricated news created by the Party. The third person pronoun, "her" is used as a collective term as the main character, Julia, is used as a representative of all the people carrying similar feelings towards the situation. The use of the mocking tone helps to lighten the mood of the text; however, it also aids in showing the true reality of the situation in an indirect manner. It satirizes through circumlocution. The "steam engine" was an important invention at the start of the 19th century.  “In his own schooldays, Winston remembered, in the late fifties, it was only the helicopter that the Party claimed to have invented; a dozen years later, when Julia was at school, it was already claiming the aeroplane; one generation more, and it would be claiming the steam engine.” is a bitter satire on the Party lies.

The fact that forgeries were committed within the Records Department, presumably one of the most important departments that collect data and store records emphasizes the overcontrol by the Party and their never-ending desire to be the supreme organization in the country, is a subtle hint at the manipulation. The lack of a horrific reaction through the use of negative, “did not appear to horrify her” signifies that the people within the country have been immune to such occurrences and have accepted the presence of forgeries and the tampering of facts to present the Party in a good light. 

Conversely, the video clip uses the visual impact of fingers controlling puppets via a string, suggesting that humans are pawns in the hands of those in control, and showcases the fact that forgeries are being committed with the lives of all social media users through the active manipulation and tampering of news and facts being spread across the Internet.  The use of visual imagery in the adjective phrase, "bloody war" enables the audience to recreate the scenes of the bloody wars everywhere which no one believes in any longer, “one knows the news is all lies anyway.” 

The adverbial phrase, "it was all rubbish" highlights the lack of interest and concern the public has for these wars and the fabricated news. The protagonist is quoted saying this, brushing away any remorse that might have been there, highlighted by the rhetorical question, “One knew that it was all rubbish, so why to let oneself be worried by it?” Similarly, the use of the diegetic sound within the video clip, "If everyone’s entitled to their own facts, there is no need for people to come together. There is no need for people to interact." highlights the separation within humanity and the lack of care and concern within people to support one another. People have seemed to evolve from societies to separate species, thinking only about themselves. The use of the simile, “just as a grain of corn” allows the author to convey a message indirectly to showcase the true reality of the situation. The repetition of “swallowed” highlights the fact that all the information was simply taken in by the people without leaving any effect on them just as the birds passed out undigested food. The video presents a fact stating, "Fake news spreads six times faster than true news." underscoring the state of over-trusting and being naive within humanity. This is then supported by the opinion, “This is a checkmate on humanity" showing the weak state of people and their fragility, as they are controlled by social media. 

The similar totalitarian and controlling presence in both given genres uphold the long-term adverse impacts on the people via the spreading of lies and fake news. Both the genres leave the message that unless the governing bodies at any prevailing time take caution, both the society and the world will head on towards disaster. Power, greed and self-interests have to be curbed, otherwise, it “is a checkmate to humanity.”

{Word Count -977}