~ IV FORM ~ EXTENDED ESSAY
As the theme for this extended essay I have chosen ‘Conflict.’ Unlike most of my peers who set out on the task of writing this piece with their theme already chosen, when I began reading my texts, I was yet to decide what my overall theme would be. It was only when I had read all my texts that I saw that theme of conflict was the one clear theme which was of most importance in all the texts I had chosen, - manifesting itself in a different form in each different work.
In the first text that I read, Birdsong by English novelist Sebastian Faulks, the theme of conflict was by far the most protruding within the novel. The story, set in the early 20th century, with its main character “Stephen Wraysford” living through four years of the horrific First World War, saw scenes of what many consider to be the worst conflict ever seen. Yet the war is not the only conflict that one comes across. There are many smaller conflicts woven into the overall story. Examples of these are the conflict between Isabelle and Stephen with Isabelle’s husband Azaire, and the riots that take place in the town of Amiens between Lucien Lebrun and Azaire’s workers.
However in the second book which I chose, - J.D Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” the author portrayed conflict in a completely different light. Unlike Faulks who looks at the theme with a backdrop of a horrific war in his novel, - Salinger looks at the mind of his principal character ‘Holden Caulfield.’ Holden seems to be constantly faced with an internal conflict, – an on-going depressive struggle with himself. The story tells of the sixteen year old boy, after having been expelled from school and having had a fight with his “Pencey School” roommate known as ‘Stradlater,’ leaving the college three days early without his parents knowing. The depressed teenager takes a train into New York where he spends the night in a hotel, and the following days in the city.
However, for this essay I have decided to choose a core text which I aim to describe in great detail while still relating, referring and comparing the text to the other novels I read. The core text I have chosen on which to write about is the highly acclaimed ‘Modern Classic,’ Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, - a play dealing with conflict in the highly religious town of Salem, in 17th century America.
This play based, on a true incident which Arthur Miller described in an introduction to the text, as “one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history,” saw, in my opinion, both of the types of conflict visible in each of my other texts. - Like the war in Birdsong, in The Crucible there is an open conflict – the Salem ‘witch hunt,’ where in the town, a court is set up to try people suspected and accused of having conversed with, - and been possessed by the devil.
However, like Salinger’s novel, there is also an inner conflict visible the Crucible’s main character John Proctor. In fact, it is not only ‘The Proctor’ that faces this; many of the town’s characters face this inner torment which derives from the open conflict that consumes the town. It seems that when the characters in the play are questioned about witchcraft they become paranoid about their own sin, (as no human is without sin.) They fear that they will be called a witch and lose trust in others as well as almost losing trust in themselves.
& The Effect Conflict has on their Minds
I will commence by writing about the principal character of my core text, - the Salem farmer John Proctor as I shall be focusing on him. As well as writing about the character of the text that I studied, I have chosen to write on how the conflict affected his mind. I will do this while comparing the character with that of Stephen Wraysford in Birdsong and Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye. The character of Proctor, who is based on a real individual victim of the 1692 Salem witch hunt, is described by Miller as a man who “regards himself as a kind of fraud.” It is known to the reader that Proctor is locally a well-respected man. This can be learned through comments made about him in the course of the play. One such comment is made by the Reverend Parris who rejoices in the final scene when Proctor is persuaded to admit that he ‘saw the devil.’ Parris knowing that there is a conspiracy against the religious Court in Salem, and knowing that Proctor is a man that the townspeople might look up to says, “It is a weighty name, it will strike the village that Proctor confess.”
However, we realise that Proctor does not believe himself to be a good man. The reason why he considers himself a ‘fraud,’ becomes apparent in Act One when John finds himself alone in a room with the sixteen year old character of Abigail. Although he enters acting as though he and the preacher’s niece are no more than acquaintances, within a short time we see that the Proctor begins to become very uneasy in ’Abby’s’ presence. It becomes apparent as the dialogue moves away from the ‘small talk’ which the two have been awkwardly conducting themselves in, that the farmer had a relationship with the young girl. The Proctor committed adultery against his wife. Abby plunges into an expression of passion claiming that John still loves her even though his wife discovered them and separated them. - “I know how you clutched my back behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I come near… I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved me then and you do now!” Throughout the play Proctor feels guilty about the sin he committed with Abby seven months ago, which he notes furiously to his wife in Act two that he is forbidden to forget. He shouts “Spare me. You forget nothin’ and forgive nothin." However although it is clear that the man is sorry, it is my opinion that he secretly still experiences burning passions for Abby, making him feel more tormented in mind and soul. Yet he also feels more angered with Elizabeth for constantly bringing up the subject of his adultery, as he is reminded of his sin more often than she can know.
However, Proctor shows us that he still certainly cares greatly for his wife at the end of Act two when she is dragged away in chains. The Proctor does all in his power to prevent the guards from, primarily taking her, – but then from ‘chaining’ her. This attempt to prove his wife’s innocence continues into Act three where he speaks with Judge Danforth and the Court. Proctor knows that it is Abby who is attempting to have Elizabeth hanged so that she and Proctor can be together, and I think the Proctor therefore considers it his fault that Elizabeth is in danger.
This is when the pressure of the conflict takes its toll on Proctor. Under the build-up of pressure, as he can finally no longer bear to hear Abigail lying to the judges, he is overcome by anger. In a sense he also feels anger towards Abby for seducing him into this sinful situation he now finds himself in. In Miller’s stage direction he writes “Without warning or hesitation Proctor leaps at Abigail and, grabbing her by the hair pulls her to her feet.” He shouts out at her in rage “How do you call Heaven. Whore! Whore!” However, in stage directions Miller also writes that, as the progresses and Proctor witnesses the judge disputing his confession of adultery, as he speaks he is “trembling, his life collapsing about him.” The conflict has caused him to break down in such anger that he has admitted to a sin he knows he will be hanged for.
One might argue that this scene displays a character trait of the Proctor, which is a slight temper that often overcomes the anxiety stricken man. Although Miller writes that he is a man of ‘even temper’ one can see that this temper is also directed at Mary Warren in many other stages of the play. It is in a raging, wild temper that we first meet the character of John Proctor, when he enters Parris’s house in ‘Act one’ to scold Mary Warren. However, I think he mainly uses this temper when in distress such as he is shown to be in the Court room, - and that, it is the truth that this quick temper is not a character trait of the well-respected man. I think the temper is one of the effects that the conflict has had on John Proctor. The pressure of the conflict causes anger within him that bursts out.
Yet one might point out that at the beginning of the play, when Mary Warren is scolded by the Proctor, the conflict of the Salem witch hunt has not even begun. However my view on the matter is that, before the ‘open conflict’ in the town, ‘John’ is already deeply angered at himself in an inner conflict that has been raging for ‘seven months.’
His mind is torn over the sin he committed. He feels extremely guilty yet still lusts for Abigail. This could explain why the man of ‘even temper’ is seen enraged at the start of the play, - because although the open conflict has not yet begun, he is already facing conflict. He may be rebuking Mary Warren as he might wish to rebuke himself. He may be releasing his own anger.
This kind of temper overcomes Stephen when he is in distress about having to go ‘over the top.’ – having to face almost certain death. I found it strange to see Stephen, a character who struck me as being a rather introverted personality, to be overcome by this anger, but I believe it is the effect that Conflict has on his mind that causes this. - It is not a general personality trait of the young officer. He is overcome by great fear and wishes to be alone, pondering to himself about what will happen, perhaps if his life is to be lost. It is for this reason that he begins to become enraged with his friend Weir, who merely wishes to acknowledge the friendship between himself and Stephen if they are not to meet again. Weir attempts to thank Stephen for helping him through the struggles of the past, and to wish him well in the coming attack.
Stephen, however, tells Weir to go away. When Weir keeps on pestering his friend to speak, it leads Stephen to the point of fury in his distressed terror. Stephen begins swearing at Weir, shouting “Fuck off, Weir, fuck off out of my way and leave me alone.’ He pushed him and sent him sliding face down in the mud.” This is an example of how the conflict affects Stephen’s mind, as he is forced for a long time, to live in the tormenting situation where death could come at any time. In this chapter, seeing as he is preparing for almost certain death Stephen is not behaving as he normally would.
The character of Holden Caulfield, in Salinger’s text is overcome at times with a similar anger. In the dormitory of his ‘Pencey’ boarding school a sudden internal swell of fury towards his school friend Stradlater conquers his mind, resulting in his lashing out at Stradlater. Holden verbally and physically attacks the ‘hotshot.’ However, unlike John Proctor and Stephen, in the case of Holden these sudden losses of temper are more common as he is constantly facing internal depression that, I think he feels compelled to express by letting out bursts of unanticipated rage.
This type of conflict, ‘fights’ he gets into with others are not the main type of conflict within the novel. Holden faces an inner conflict within the text, constantly feeling depressed. This conflict affects his mind as he finds himself falling deeper into a black – hole like world where he seems to feel trapped, wanting to move away from almost everybody he knows to ‘hitchhike out west’ where he wants to reside in a little cabin ‘where no phoneys are allowed.’ However these small conflicts like the fight with “Stradlater” affect him. This conflict with his dormitory is the factor that drives Holden to leave school early.
However whether or not John Proctor’s quick temper is a character trait of the man we know that the conflict of the Crucible causes him to break down in act three even after he has admitted to his sin with Abigail and broken out of his civilised manner. He grabs the girl by the hair in an uncontrollable rage. He starts claiming that he has seen the devil and cries out while “laughing insanely,” “A fire, a fire is burning.” He seems to have gone into this state of madness under the pressure of the conflict within the court, and the conflict within his soul.
We see that in the final scene, however that the conflict has completely changed the Proctor as he shows almost none of his previous character traits. He seems to be a lifeless and completely altered man.
Faith within Conflict
I found that in the three texts I studied, the subject of faith and religion within conflict was certainly one of the most interesting topics that featured within the storyline of each work of literature. Although not playing a major role in The Catcher in the Rye, or in Faulk’s Birdsong, it was obvious to the reader that faith and religion were an extremely important aspect to The Crucible, where they dictated the way of life in the town of Salem, - as well as serving as the cause of conflict in the play.
Being quite religious myself, I was intrigued to look at what each character thought of religion and faith, and how they looked on Jesus Christ, (considering that Christianity was the only religion mentioned within all three pieces of literature.) In the desperate situations of conflict they faced, I questioned whether or not each character used faith to cope with their difficulties.
Personally, when in a dilemma of internal trouble, I believe that clinging to my faith aids me through my anxiety. Although I have never, like Birdsong’s Stephen Wraysford, or The Crucible’s Proctor John, been forced to deal with a life threatening and despairing situation, - I have like The Catcher on the Rye’s Holden Caulfield, found myself feeling depressed, sad and angry, - emotions which he regularly feels. However, unlike myself, Holden appears not to have any faith that aids him in his struggle. He does not turn to religion, faith or God with whom he can share his feelings of sadness.
Nevertheless Holden does have an opinion of God which he illustrates in the 14th chapter of the text. In this chapter, it seems that Holden is almost searching for the Lord’s assistance to relieve him from a distressing constant grief that he feels. - He seems briefly in one sentence to want guidance from some power greater than himself. The 16 year old, after exclaiming to the reader how depressed he is, says “Finally though I got into bed, I felt like praying or something when I was in bed, but I couldn’t do it.” Holden tells the reader in the following sentences that he can’t always pray when he wants to, - the reason partly being because he considers himself an atheist. Caulfield shares his views on God saying “I like Jesus and all but I don’t care much for the other stuff in the Bible.” He then follows this by saying that he doesn’t like the disciples because they were always “letting Jesus down.”
However, I suspect that Holden thinks of God with greater significance than he implies to the reader. I believe this because of the way in which Salinger writes the text from Holden’s point of view. When speaking about God, Salinger uses capitals. - e.g. When referring to the disciples Holden says: “they were about as much use to Him as a hole in the head. All they did was keep letting Him down.”
Although I understand that in writing, it is a common practise to use capitals when referring to God, I believe that Salinger wrote in this manner for a reason. I believe that, because he is writing from Holden’s point of view, - and Holden, if he were a true atheist would not ‘write’ about God with this significance, the writer is trying to subtly indicate that Holden thinks more highly of God than he himself indicates. My view is that Holden is being almost a ‘phoney’ when it comes to his faith. I think that perhaps when he claims to be an atheist, it is pretence. I suspect that Holden may have more faith in the Lord than he ‘let’s on,’ but still does not turn to God for help. - After reading the novel I would surmise that, as opposed to turning to faith in his on-going inner conflict, Holden uses cigarettes and drink, when he can obtain it, as a way of drowning his sorrows and distancing himself from his troubled mind. This can be seen in chapter 14 also when Holden, having finished explaining his views on God exclaims that he “couldn’t pray worth a damn,” and he says “Finally I sat up in bed and smoked another cigarette.”
This is not unlike Stephen Wraysford and his fellow Officer and friend Captain Weir, who use drink and cigarettes as a method of detaching their minds from the constant horrors that they witness daily in the front line trenches of the war. In this drunken state of mind the soldiers can indulge in other thoughts irrelevant to the inhuman struggle they face. They can escape from their constant fear and permit themselves to briefly reside in a less intense and ‘happier place.’
Yet although it can be said that ‘Holden’ does not use faith to support him through hardship, the same cannot be said for Wraysford and Weir. It is seen that Wraysford and Weir use not so much religion as spirituality and the ‘magic’ of fortune telling to cope with the atrocities of war.
In the second chapter of ‘part four’ of the novel, Weir approaches his friend with the request that he may have his fortune told. “Go on’ said Weir. ‘Don’t pretend you don’t believe in it.” Stephen later explains to another fellow officer named ‘Ellis,’ that he invented this voodoo “to pass the long hours.” Stephen claims that “Weir likes it. It makes him feel that somebody cares about him.”
In the following pages of the chapter Faulks describes Stephen’s ‘voodoo’ before, on page 296 Stephen shares his true views on his faith with those present in the dugout. When speaking, the character falls into mystical state of deep thought where he seems quite distant in an almost spiritual way. The conversation is triggered when Weir questions Wraysford who Faulks describes as “drunk enough to be confessional,” saying “Don’t tell me you’ve never believed in any sort of magic power.” Wraysford’s answer is that he used to when he was a boy. He tells the officers present that he would search for fortune tellers at fairs. – “I wanted to believe that I had some important destiny. I wanted to have a make-believe world because I couldn’t bear to live in the real one.”
However he says that this changed when he was wounded. He says that all his life he had believed that there was no world beyond death, but when wounded he heard the sound of his life leaving him. – “I began to believe in something… ”A room a place some self-grounded place. Where it is understood.” Wraysford has developed this faith, like Weir with his belief in voodoos to cope with the war. This is because he believes that if death comes to him there is another place for his spirit to go.
Ellis sharply responds to Wraysford’s explanation with the words “I think you have a long way to go before you can call yourself a proper Christian.” This statement is true, yet not entirely so. I believe that Christians have such security in the Christian faith at times like this because they feel that if they die their spirit will rest in paradise. Stephen has security in his beliefs for the similar reason. I being Christian would also add my own view to this as it is my personal belief that heaven and eternal life will be whatever one will believe it to be. I believe that the Christian heaven could be a room where the soul’s personal beliefs, burdens, hardships and difficulties are understood by Jesus Christ.
There is certainly much Christian belief to be seen in the trenches as numerous amounts of soldiers cry out to God when they are to be sent ‘over the top.’ It is well known from history however, as it is for the reader when they complete Faulk’s novel) that many of the soldier’s prayers to keep their lives were not granted. It is interesting in my opinion, however, to see how those who have great faith in their religion react when their many prayers seem to be ignored…
I thought that a comparison could be made between two characters from both The Crucible and Birdsong. We can see that within each of the conflicts, both The Crucible’s character Reverend Hale – who has been brought to question various individuals accused of witchcraft, and Birdsong’s character of the army chaplain known as ‘the Padre Harrocks’ seem to represent Christianity within their conflicts. However for both of the characters it is apparent that as their individual conflict drags on although they cling on to their religion in front of others, they seem both to gradually lose faith in it.
On page 230 of the text, Faulks describes what appears to be, at least a temporary loss in faith in his Lord for the Padre Harrocks when he writes: “Harrocks pulled the silver cross from his chest and hurled it from him. His old reflex still persisting he fell to his knees but he did not pray. He stayed kneeling with his palms spread out on the ground, then lowered his head and covered it with his hands.” The padre, on seeing the men falling in the horrific battle of the Somme and continuously praying to the Lord to save them with no reply, seems to fall into a state of helplessness, possibly even doubting his creator’s existence. We know that he does not give up hope totally as later on in the novel we know that he conducts services of prayer for the men that the character of ‘Jack Firebrace’ writes about to his wife.
We can see that a similar doubt in God, or at least sudden realisation that the court he is helping to conduct is being done so for false purposes, overcomes the character of reverend Hale in The Crucible. Hale, a character who is an expert in seeking out and expelling the devil from those who have been possessed by him, is introduced to the play late in act one. On arrival, the Beverly parish based priest makes his intentions very clear when saying on pg. 42 of the text, – “Have no fear now – we shall find him out if he has come among us and I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown his face.”
This shows that Hale intends and believes that the court shall be just. The playwright when introducing Hale writes: “This is a beloved errand for him.” Miller explains that Hale feels not only proud “that his unique knowledge (on witchcraft) has been publicly called for,” but also feels as though he is doing very good work as the servant of the Lord. However Hale, like Harrocks loses faith in what he is doing. He realises that the Court is not carrying out the will of God, but the will of a young girl who is deceiving the Court judges with lies. Hale walks out on the Court, abandoning it. However we see that the guilt of putting, innocent people such as Proctor John and Rebecca Nurse to their death does not leave him and he claims in the last scene that his soul is damned.
In my view, Miller’s story was the most exciting and complex when dealing with the subject of faith within conflict. This is because, to each of the story’s characters, faith, (if they did have faith in it and not just pretend to believe in him,) was based in God and Christianity. However when the open court, this great religious conflict arises, and many of them are accused of being a traitor against God and against the Church, - accused of scheming with the devil, they feel they cannot turn to God for help.
This is certainly the case with John Proctor. When he is introduced to the text Miller describes him as an upright man, - “powerful of body, even tempered and not easily led.” However, poignantly and more importantly, as I have noted before, Miller adds “But as we shall see, the steady manner he
displays does not spring from an untroubled soul. He is a sinner, a sinner not only against the moral fashion of the time, but against his own vision of decent conduct. These people had no ritual for the washing away of sins”
The sentence I have underlined, I think is one of the play’s most important. The reason for this being that, so concisely and in such a straightforward manner, the playwright explains to the reader why Proctor feels why he cannot turn to God. I think through the whole play he feels cut off from God. Although he pretends to be a religious man, he has no faith in God because he feels almost that he is an enemy of God. This is why, towards the end of act three, when he finally admits to the judge Danforth, and those present that he committed adultery with Parris’s niece Abigail, he goes on to claim that he is possessed by the devil. Under the pressure of the court and the conflict he cries out - “I say - I say – God is dead!” Miller writes in stage directions that his mind is ‘wild’ and ‘breathless.’ He then cries out in a sudden confession. He seems to be unburdening himself of the secret sin that he has been unable to rid of previously.
“I hear the boot of Lucifer and I hear his filthy face. And it is my face…” - Although he claims that he has seen the devil, - and the court may finds him guilty of being a servant of the devil attempting to hinder the Church in Salem I believe that the Proctor is saying that is so regretful of what he has done. I believe he is saying that he knows he has sinned greatly yet he wishes just for the forgiveness of God, to “wash away his sins.”
The Difference between Fiction and Drama
While reading these books with the overall theme of conflict, I thought it was quite interesting to see not only how each writer conveyed the subject of conflict in a different way, but how Drama and Fiction differed greatly as a form of literature through which the writers of the texts could communicate and tell their stories.
I have always preferred reading plays to reading fiction for the reason that, ever since I have been young, I have loved the theatre. Personally when reading drama, I find that I can not only visualise, as when reading fiction, the setting in which the story is taking place, - visualising each character’s appearance and the intricate details of each setting, but also the setting as part of the set on a stage. I have the pleasure of imagining myself watching the play in a theatre. I begin to think about, if playing the roles of the various characters, how I myself would act each role. I let my mind wander to think also about myself being set the task of directing the play. I plan in my mind the way in which I would stage it, - thinking about the characters entrances and exits.
However it is my view that when reading fiction, one is perhaps able to discover more about the characters and their true personalities. In The Catcher in the Rye, due to the fact that it is written in the principal character’s first person, I think one can understand the character more clearly. The reader does not view the character as others see him. They do not view the ‘phoney’ person that he pretends to be when in the presence of others. - We see him as he sees himself.
I feel that this insight Salinger creates into the mind of the young teenager could not be obtained through drama. Likewise, with Birdsong, I do not feel that the same insight Faulks creates into the thoughts and character of Stephen Wraysford,- and the other characters such as Weir, Isabelle, Lisette and Elizabeth, could be obtained through any form of literature other than fiction. Although writers can use monologue within drama, where the actors speak directly to the audience, it still does not give the reader the same feeling, that he/she is exploring the characters’ minds.
In Miller’s play no monologue was used to illustrate what each of the characters were thinking. The reader could only view the character as he behaved when with other people, as each character, when speaking, was always in dialogue with another. However in The Crucible, the fact that John never shares his feelings, personal thought and secrets directly with the audience does not take away from the overall play. In Miller’s masterpiece ‘Goody Proctor’ as he is known, lets the audience understand his true depth of character and mind through the conversations he has with others. An example of Miller letting the reader discover the personality and personal secrets of John Proctor is seen on Proctor’s first appearance in the play in Act One.
When the farmer is left alone with the young girl Abigail, Miller unveils to the audience the past and secrets of the character. In the playwright’s dialogue between ‘Abby’ and ‘John’ it is made clear to the reader that the two characters had a relationship where the married farmer committed adultery.
It must also be noted that although Miller does not use monologues within his play, he instead uses a method of writing about his characters which I find more effective. The playwright uses narration in the first scene to introduce the character of Proctor. He does this for each of the plays characters including the town’s unpopular Reverend Parris, Thomas Putnam and Reverend Hale. However these narrations, although being fictional descriptions of the various characters, have factual elements to them. These paragraphs as well as describing the character Arthur Miller has devised in his mind and created, tell also of the historical truth of the character that was actually involved in the 1962 Salem witch hunt.
This seems to be quite an original method when writing a play, of giving the reader information regarding the newly introduced character through what could be described as a section of factual information. Although, of course many plays have narrators, I have never encountered narration carried out in this fashion before. I thought it was interesting, therefore, to learn when reading a short biography of the playwright, that Miller studied history while at university. I think that this may have had an influence on his writings and contributed to his idea of writing a play dealing with an infamous event of the past.
One might say that there is another great element of fiction that cannot be used in plays as effectively as it can in novels. That is the element of setting. I would agree with this point in that, when reading drama, description regarding the setting would not be phrased as beautifully as it often in is in fiction. In Birdsong, Faulks creates beautiful descriptions of the setting throughout his story. An example of this would be the description the author gives of the Amiens train station on page 81, in ‘part one’ of the novel. As well as describing to the reader, the appearance of the station itself, with its vast cobbled forecourt and central glass arch crowned by a pointed clock tower,” he paints for the reader, an idea of the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the station atmosphere. “The ticket hall was busy with families negotiating excursions to the countryside. Trolleys with clanking wheels were pushed up and down the platforms by vendors offering wine and loaves of bread filled with cheese or sausage.” However I believe that drama allows playwrights to write about the setting of a story just as effectively as fiction allows an author to do so.
Although these can be more straightforward and less detailed, beautifully embroidered descriptions of the place in which the story is taking place, they undoubtedly give the reader a sense of the space in which the scene takes place. In The Crucible although the play has the overall setting of the town of Salem in 17th century America, there are four individual settings. There is a different place, (or stage set) for the four different acts. Prior to the dialogue in each of these acts, Miller briefly describes to the reader how the stage set should be. When describing the stage set in the final scene Miller writes very little, writing only “At the back is a high barred window; near it, a great, heavy door. Along the walls are two benches. The place is in darkness but for the moonlight seeping through the bars.”
Even though there may not initially be a sense of atmosphere accompanying the description of the set as there is in the excerpt of text from Birdsong, - the melancholy atmosphere is developed by the action that takes place with the characters in the following scene, where John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse are put to their deaths.
This shows in my opinion that, in drama the setting does not need to play a major role. The setting does not need to be described in great detail due to the fact that its atmosphere is created by the characters themselves through their dialogue. I believe drama restricts it’s writers to two important elements which are the plot and the characters, - and in the Crucible these factors have great strength and depth. In my view drama makes the plot of a story almost more physically visual. The images of the expression on the faces of the characters are more vivid as well as the movement of the characters being clearer. This owes to the stage directions in my view, as they, like the setting they are given in a straightforward manner, clearly dictating the characters movement and emotion for the reader.
After reviewing and ‘weighing out the pros and cons’ of both fiction and drama, my view is that they have almost equal strengths when conveying the author’s story. Fiction is obviously a more popular form of literature used by writers and readers as it must also be said that fiction has a certain flow that drama, due to the use of brackets and stage directions, cannot boast. However, through my eyes drama is the more effective form of literature. I know that it could be argued that as a lover of the theatre, and having preferred drama at the start of this comparison, I am not viewing the situation evenly and impartially. Indeed, this may be the reason, just because of my personal interests, why, when reading drama the story is enhanced and exuberated in my eyes more so than a fictional story would be. However I will admit that I see that there is more strength to fiction then to drama when a story is being communicated. Nevertheless I find that personally I would usually choose reading drama to reading fiction.
I am not lying to gain more marks in my essay when I write that I thoroughly enjoyed each text I read for this Transition Year essay. I have never been more truthful when writing in an English book report that these are some of the best texts I have ever read. Yet in my honesty I will admit that I normally read very seldom read books, occupying my time with other activities and therefore did not anticipate reading for this English project with great enthusiasm. Birdsong is without a doubt, the largest text I have ever endeavoured to complete. Although I did find it ‘tough going’ however, I thought it was an enticing read. Ì found myself constantly urged to continue, thinking it was extremely. - I would agree with the Time Out paper who wrote on the back of the novel: “Literature at its very best.” I also liked the fact that I was reading this text around the time of the 11th of November, Remembrance Day for those who fought in the war. Having only just finished the text I felt more sincere than I would normally be, in praying for those who lost their lives in the dreadful conflict.
Catcher on the was also an extremely good read, and feeling at the moment that I am facing my own internal conflict I felt I could connect with Holden Caulfield so much so that I began, for a day or two to sub consciously use the phrases that he constantly repeats in his text such as “It killed me” or “It - like a bastard.” I will say however that Salinger’s text was my least favourite text out of the three that I read. This surprised people such as I know the text is quite popular and much loved by those who read it.
As I said I must have demonstrated by choosing it as my ‘core text,’ the Crucible was my favourite text out of all the texts I chose. I thought that the Crucible was possibly the best play I have ever come across and having read it; (along with Noel Coward) I would name Arthur Miller as my favourite playwright as well as freely calling the writer a genius.
One of my aims in life, as well as becoming a renowned artist, is to become a successful playwright and I believe that this play has taught me a great lesson. Having read the play I now see that playwriting is not solely about entertaining, but about expressing your beliefs ideas and opinions and using your writings to teach and attack as Miller used the Crucible to attack the ‘McCarthyism which gripped America in the 1950s.’ I probably made it clear in the ‘Faith within Conflict’ section of the essay that one of my great interests lies in faith and religion, probably contributing to the reason why I found the Crucible so gripping.
Being so impressed and full of praise for each of my texts and their writers, I sincerely hope that I have done them justice in the essay I have written. I will conclude briefly by saying that it is certainly no lie that I enjoyed all my texts, and that it is no lie that I look forward to reading more texts by the same authors in the coming future.