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Brendan Kennelly for Leaving Cert English: Begin

"Begin" by Brendan KennellyYou may also like: 2019 Guide to Leaving Cert English. Full notes on Brendan Kennelly will be made available to everyone who has the 2019 guide, free of charge, as soon as they are ready.

Summary: a philosophical reflection on starting something new again and again communicated through the description of a morning walk across the Grand Canal in Dublin.

Style features:
anaphora (1) (highlighted in bold) adds a sense of determination as does the repetition of the word “begin” throughout the poemenjambment highlights the never ending need to begin again imperative tone, “begin again” is an encouraging command to never give up alliteration e.g. “dying in dark / determination” enhances the imageryreference to familiar places, “Pembroke Road” near the Aviva Stadium in Dublin 4, make the poem more accessibleimagery appeals to multiple senses: “summoning birds”, “sight of the light”, “roar of morning traffic”, “crying birds in the sudden rain”, “branches…

GVV - Macbeth, I’m Not Scared and Death and Nightingales for Leaving Cert English #625Lab

“A variety of factors in texts can change or reinforce our initial impression of the general vision and viewpoint”. (2017) 

#625LabThis essay raises a lot of points I don't agree with, but overall it's very coherent and addresses the question very well. You may also like: Complete Guide to Leaving Cert English (€). 

The General Vision and Viewpoint of a text is the author’s broad outlook on life. It is also the reader’s interpretation of the text’s overall perspective. My initial impression of the vision and viewpoint of the three texts I have studied was the same for each text. However, by the conclusion of the texts my impression has either been reinforced or changed as a result of many different factors. The three texts I have studied are "Macbeth" by William Shakespeare, "I’m Not Scared" by Gabrielle Salvatore and "Death and Nightingales" by Eugene McCabe. While all three texts are set in different time periods, they all share the same opening vision and viewpoint. That is that the world is a dark and dangerous place, where illusions hide the real horrors of the world.

Macbeth is set in 11th century Scotland and follows the characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as they begin a campaign of murder and terror in order to become the unchallenged King and Queen of Scotland. The initial impression of the vision and viewpoint of Macbeth that I get is a dark, deceitful world. This impression is as a result of the two opening scenes of "Macbeth". The play opens with three witches meeting. This is a brief meeting which concludes with all three witches saying ‘Fair is foul, and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air’. Given the period in which this play was written, this would have been very unsettling for those present as religion was very important and central to life at the time. These three witches represent mischief and dark magic and their decision to meet again ‘When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?’ further adds to the evil and unnatural presence. The second scene opens with Scotland at war with the Netherlands Norway through the betrayal of one of the King’s closest confidents, The Thane of Cawdor, this creates the deceitful impression of the vision and viewpoint full of decieit. Likewise, in "Death and Nightingales", the initial impression I get is of a dark and pessimistic vision and viewpoint. The novel opens ‘A lack of birdcall… then far away the awful dawn bawling of a beast in great pain’. This creates a bleak atmosphere as the reader soon discovers that the novel’s protagonist, Beth Winters, is having a dream about murdering her father, Billy by poisoning him ‘As she watched herself pouring out a teaspoon for Billy’s protruding tongue’. This act of violence like the violence taking place in "Macbeth" creates a dark atmosphere. However, in "I’m Not Scared", a dark and pessimistic vision and viewpoint is created not through characters and violence, like "Macbeth" and "Death and Nightingales", but through camera angles and lighting. (This is a very nice part of the essay: switching between texts, making direct comparisons is better than a big long in-depth spiel about one text.) The movie opens underground with an ominous piano tune playing in the background as the cameras move along the dark stone wall giving the impression of something sinister. Suddenly, a crow is heard and the camera angle movies above ground to reveal a large and colourful corn field with children running around in bright vibrant colours. This contrast gives the impression that the natural beauty of the world may hide something sinter and contributes the to initial impression that the vision and viewpoint of the movie is pessimistic, like "Macbeth" and "Death and Nightingales".

It is undeniable that a variety of factors in texts can change or reinforce our initial impression of the general vision and viewpoint. This occurs in all three of my comparative texts. (No need to repeat yourself.) One strong way in which my initial impression of the vision and viewpoint was changed or reinforced was through the betrayal of the main characters. In "Macbeth", Lady Macbeth is central to Macbeth’s rise to power, she manipulated his ‘vaulting ambition’ and is responsible for the blood thirsty tyrant he has become. (Just for the students reading this, the more widely accepted view is that Lady Macbeth isn't responsible for Macbeth's choices, but she was an enabler, as in she gave him an excuse to pursue his violence.) She says at the beginning of their campaign ‘Yet do I fear thy nature; / It is too full o' th' milk of human kindness... Hie thee hither, / That I may pour my spirits in thine ear / And chastise with the valor of my tongue / All that impedes thee from the golden round’. Lady Macbeth is a source of the dark vision and viewpoint of the play. Naturally, her demise heralds a change in my impression of the vision and viewpoint of the play. Once Macbeth is in power her conforms to the norm of the male dominated world and forgets about his wife. (This is an unusual interpretation.) Lady Macbeth is forced to ask servants for permission to see her husband, once saying to a maid ‘Say to the King I would attend his leisure’. This loneliness drives Lady Macbeth mad and leads her to her eventual suicide. (It is more widely accepted that she was driven to suicide by her guilt.) While suicide is a terrible act, this suicide causes a shift in the way I view the vision and viewpoint of the text. My impression becomes more positive and hopeful as the main conductor behind the tyrant that is Macbeth is no longer alive and can no longer manipulate him into further murders. This changes the dark and deceitful impression of the vision and viewpoint. (It's an interesting way to view it, but it raises the question why Macbeth didn't become less violent after LM died? Perhaps because she's not the cause of his violence? It's ok to interpret a work of literature differently to the canon, but you need to explain your point of view. The author of the essay did that, but perhaps he could have done more. It is very pleasant to read though because it shows that the author really thought about the texts. Perhaps it is better to leave your re-interpretations to single text and poetry where you have a bit more freedom to manoeuvre.)

However, the betrayal of Beth by Liam in "Death and Nightingales" and of Michele by his friend in "I’m Not Scared" do not change my impression of the vision and viewpoint but reinforce it. Liam Ward is Catholic who has gotten Beth Winters pregnant and is using her for her father’s fortune, which he would like to support his nationalist activities. He pretends to love her but actually plans to murder her once she steals her father’s gold and gives it to Liam, thinking that she will elope with him. This only adds to the deceitful and dark impression of the vision and viewpoint of the text for me. For a brief period, the romance between Liam and Beth brought some much-needed relief from the abuse and unwanted advances of her father at home. Their romance altered the vision and viewpoint and made it more hopeful like how the demise of Lady Macbeth does in "Macbeth". However, in contrast to Lady Macbeth’s downfall, Liam and Beth’s romance is short-lived as she becomes aware of his intentions. As a result, unlike "Macbeth", my impression that the vision and viewpoint of the text as bleak and full of deceit is actually reinforced rather than changed.

The same can be said about "I’m Not Scared". The betrayal of Michele, while running parallel to the betrayal of both Lady Macbeth and Beth, actually has the same impact as the betrayal of Beth in that like "Death and Nightingales" my initial impression of the vision and viewpoint is reinforced, not changed. (A 44 word sentence. Is the syntax correct? Of course not. It never is in these long sentences. Will marks be lost? Yes. How do you avoid this? Write in shorter sentences.) Michele shares his major secret of Filippo being held prisoner down in a hole with one of his friends. However, like Liam in "Death and Nightingales", this friend betrays Michele for his own personal gain, being driving lessons from an older boy. This betrayal is like the betrayal in "Death and Nightingales" as it ruins the relief received by the reader from the dark and pessimistic vision and viewpoint only serving to reinforce it.

A change in perspective in texts can also change or reinforce the initial impression we gain of a text’s vision and viewpoint. The change of perspective in Macbeth occurs when Macduff and Malcolm appeal to the ‘most pious Edward’ (King of England) to help them overthrow Macbeth and restore the natural order. This changes the perspective of total anarchy to one of good being restored. This good is surrounded with religious imagery as the men were seen as doing God’s work by restoring God’s natural representative on earth. A lord says of Macduff ‘Thither Macduff / Is gone to pray the Holy king upon his aid… with Him above / to ratify the work”. This perspective of good fighting back is in stark contrast to the change of perspective that occurs in "I’m Not Scared". Michele soon realises that the whole town of Aqua Traverse is involved in the kidnapping of Filippo. This is a massive change in perspective as before he believed it was a small group of people involved. This reinforces the idea that the vision and viewpoint of the text is dark and pessimistic, in contrast with the vision and viewpoint of "Macbeth" becoming more positive as good is restored. However, the change in perspective in "Death and Nightingales" is similar to that of "I’m Not Scared". Beth murders Liam and Billy is a witness to this murder. As a result of this, the pair are described by Billy as ‘we're a pair, we two: cangled both to treachery’. This allows him to make an obscene suggestion ‘Maybe we should marry, go elsewhere?’ This changes the perspective from one of Beth trying to flee Billy to her now relying on him. As a result, the impression that the vision and viewpoint is dark and pessimistic is only reinforced, like in "I’m Not Scared", but unlike "Macbeth".

To conclude, the same factors within my three comparative texts have different impacts of my initial impression of the vision and viewpoint if the texts. With my impression of the vision and viewpoint of "Macbeth" changing but my impression of the vision and viewpoint of "I’m Not Scared", and "Death and Nightingales" being reinforced.

GVV - Macbeth, I’m Not Scared and Death and Nightingales for Leaving Cert English
Ian Mckellen and Judi Dench in "Macbeth" at Stratford in 1976. Photograph: Rex Features via the Guardian

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