School Work

Literary Analysis of The Old Stoic, by Emily Brontë

Riches I hold in light esteem,
And Love I laugh to scorn;
And lust of fame was but a dream,
That vanished with the morn:

And if I pray, the only prayer
That moves my lips for me
Is, “Leave the heart that now I bear,
And give me liberty!”

Yes, as my swift days near their goal:
‘Tis all that I implore;
In life and death a chainless soul,
With courage to endure.

Emily Brontë’s (1818-1848) The Old Stoic explains how a stoic—an apathetic and passive person—reasons about dreams and happiness. His only wish is to leave this life and to achieve complete freedom, rejecting carnal pleasures such as material wealth, love and fame.

The poem consists of three stanzas, containing four lines each. All twelve lines rhyme according to the rhyming scheme ABAB, CDCD, EFEF. This is common among Old English poetry, and leaves more energy for the reader to analyze the content of the poem. Also common is the iambic rhythm. Brontë varies regularly between iambic tetrameter for odd-numbered lines, and iambic trimeter for even-numbered lines. This creates a certain flow in the poem, which makes it easy to read. The polysyndeton at the lines two and three further helps simplifying the text.

The Old Stoic has a tone of simplicity. Most words used are from the Anglo-Saxon language, such as “love”, “laugh” and “death”. Very few advanced words are used, with “liberty” being the only one with more than two syllables. By applying this vocabulary, Brontë makes the “old stoic” seem unintelligent, while at the same time letting the reader focus on the message of the poem.

Each stanza of The Old Stoic deals with a different part of the stoic’s thoughts. Throughout the poem, the stoic is the narrator. In the first stanza, he describes that he finds the worldly things unnecessary: “Riches I hold in light esteem”. He also tells that he did have a wish to be famous, but it “vanished with the morn”, where the “morn” could symbolize the melancholy resulting from realizing how sad life is.

In the second stanza, the narrator reveals his current wish, which is to become free—“give me liberty!”—but he also states that this can only be achieved through death, since he wants to “Leave the heart that now I bear”. The narrator’s wish remains in the third stanza, but there, he adds that he needs the “courage to endure”. I interpret it as the courage to endure life until his soul will be set free.

Since Brontë is very straight-forward in this poem, there is not much to analyze. I am unable to detect any sign from the writer that there is a deeper meaning than what the stoic says himself. Thus, there are two alternatives; Brontë could be using the stoic as a medium for communicating her opinions, or she could be sarcastic.

Emily Brontë died from tuberculosis, after having rejected any medical treatment. This suggests that she was of opinions similar to the old stoic , and thought that we can be free only when we are not bound by things such as medicines. Another fact which favors the former theory is that female authors were looked down upon at that time. Expressing opinions through a man, even if he was fictional, was a better way if a woman wanted to be taken seriously.

Damaetas, by Lord Byron

In law an infant, and in years a boy,
In mind a slave to every vicious joy;
From every sense of shame and virtue wean’d;
In lies an adept, in deceit a fiend;
Versed in hypocrisy, while yet a child;
Fickle as wind, of inclinations wild;
Women his dupe, his heedless friend a tool;
Old in the world, though scarcely broke from school;
Damætas ran through all the maze of sin,
And found the goal when others just begin:
Even still conflicting passions shake his soul,
And bid him drain the dregs of pleasure’s bowl;
But, pall’d with vice, he breaks his former chain,
And what was once his bliss appears his bane

Damaetas was written by George Byron, the 6th Baron Byron (1788–1824). It tells the story of a boy’s decadent life. The first six lines explains the boy’s childhood; how he was easily tempted, and how he had lies by heart as he grew. Byron goes on describing the boy’s adulthood, which is equally decadent with sins and temptations. However, the plot experiences a sudden twist in the last two lines, where the character turns against everything that he has done and changes his lifestyle.

Stylistic devices abound in Damaetas. The rhyming scheme–AABBCC, and so on–is regular and strictly followed throughout the poem. No additional rhymes can be found. Like the rhyming scheme, the rhythm is very regular. Every line contains exactly ten syllables and is written as an iambic pentameter, except for line 13, which disturbs the pattern slightly. Despite this line, the regularity of the poem makes it fluent and easy to read. Further simplifying reading, Byron makes good use of assonances. Some examples are line four, “in deceit a fiend”, and the final line, “what was once”, which is also an alliteration.

It is worth to note that the poem contains just a single stanza. The effect of this is that it is read more as an ongoing story, as opposed to a story split into chapters, where there are pauses to make. This makes the end, which will be further discussed later, come more suddenly and have a larger element of surprise.

Mystery, danger and decadence are words which describe the tone of the poem. These must be used in conjunction, since only one of them cannot portray the whole atmosphere. What is dangerous is often mystical, and when it comes to this kind of long-term life-style-dependent danger, it is often referred to as decadent. Byron uses a certain vocabulary with the intention to enhance this feeling.

Words connected to magic and other mystic topics are used when other words would suffice, such as line four, “adept” and “fiend”, and line 13, “drain”. Line ten sees the metaphor of an abstract maze, which is often used to describe enigmatic situations. Grand words–for instance “virtue” (line three), “passions” (line 13) and “bliss” (line 15)–contribute to the atmosphere of decadence, since that word is often connected to whole life-styles, which are dangerous and morally questionable, instead of just dangerous actions.

It is reasonable to assume that the main character of the poem bears the name Damaetas. Despite extensive research, though, I was unable to find any information about that name. The only reference to Damaetas in literature is in the 1673 poem Lycidas by John Milton, in which the name is mentioned once: “And old Damaetas lov’d to hear our song”. Unfortunately, this brings no deeper understanding on why Lord Byron chose this name.

The first line of Byron’s poem is ambiguous. I interpret it as if Damaetas grows rapidly; when he was legally an infant, his body was that of a boy. However, it could be a simple observation of his age, i.e. He was an infant according to law, and just a couple of years old, that is, a boy. Line two tells of his tragic disposition to temptations, using the hyperbole “in mind a slave”. The fourth and fifth lines describe how he was brought up with lies, and how he learnt to use them himself.

Line six notes Damaetas’s impulsiveness; he would “fickle as wind”, and the wind is unreliable. This is yet another one of many attributes, which are associated with failures, given to the boy. The subsequent line tells of how he lived for women, which is also looked down upon. In line ten, Byron summarizes the main character by writing that he ran through the “maze of sin”.

At the beginning of line 14, the turning point of the poem, Damaetas is “pall’d with vice”. “pall’d”, which has an omitted E, is the past participle of “pall”. One meaning of that word is “to weaken”. A vice is a bad habit; the antonym of virtue. Thus, Damaetas, despite his former failures, starts afresh and, as the final line reads, turns his previous bliss to his bane.

I believe that what Lord Byron wants to convey is that it is never too late for change. He makes a very effective introduction, portraying the boy as the archetype of a failure, until he swiftly swings everything around.

December Elegy, by Morten Veland for Tristania

May, thou carry me to the sea
Like Autumn leaves, heaven withers
Savage is the winter prevailing within
I fall for thee
Sorrow entreating me
Makes me leave heaven

I find thy lilies there in snow
where once I died, weeping for thee
Everlasting seems the strife ascending within
Falling for thee
Darkness confounding me
Makes me leave life

Breed my woe
Descend with broken wings
Midwinternight inside
Merged by life
Like thousand frozen tears
Come melt the ice, maytime

December Elegy

An “elegy” is a type of poetic metre, which was used in Ancient Greece. However, it is nowadays used as a general denomination for poems which describe sorrow and mourning. December Elegy was written in 1998 by Morten Veland for the musical group Tristania, and thus its name derives from the modern meaning of “elegy”. The poem describes the narrator’s wishes for summer during wintertimes.

December Elegy is divided into three stanzas, consisting of six lines each. There is a seemingly random rhyming scheme. The first stanza rhymes ABCAAD, and the second EACAAF. Note that several of these rhyming pairs are repetitions, such as “within” and “within”. The only true rhymes found in those stanzas are “sea”, “thee” and “me”, and only the former is used just a single time. The third and last stanza seems to abandon rhymes altogether; disregarding “life” rhyming on itself from the prior stanza, there is only “woe”, which rhymes on the first line of the second stanza, “snow”.

The lack of a rhyming scheme suggests that the rhymes, which do exist, are a coincident. Since they are so far apart, they do not have any appreciable effect on the reader. However, the repetitions are effective. The two lines ending in “thee” are merely rewordings of each other, and such emphasize the fact that the narrator is falling for “you”. The third lines in both stanzas constitute the “within”-rhyme. These two lines both describe what is happening inside the narrator; about the dominating winter and the interior strife. This theme also carries on to the third stanza, although it uses a synonym of “within” instead: “Midwinternight inside”.

Partly due to the lack of rhymes, the rhythm cannot be easily discerned. It can be seen that the first two stanzas are very alike in the number of syllables per line, differing only slightly in the third and last lines, although this does not simplify reading out aloud. There is thus no apparent rhythm.

Winter, darkness and sorrow are themes which appear throughout the poem, and this influences the tone. Veland has chosen lyrics with connotations of negative feelings, such as coldness. Some of these words are “winter”, “frozen”, “savage” and “wither”. In some way, nearly all of the words are connected to winter. This creates an unfriendly atmosphere.

Veland also uses intricate and rare words. An obvious example is the archaic pronouns “thou” and “thee”. “Entreating” and “confounding” are two other words which are not common today. These archaisms produce the feeling that this happened a long time ago. They also contribute to the feeling of distance and coldness, since it is distant in time.

As noted above, December Elegy is divided into three stanzas. These constitute three different parts, or modes, of the poem. The first stanza begins with an invocation to May, defining that month as “thou” in the poem. In the rest of the stanza, the narrator explains how wonderful May is, e.g. “I fall for thee”, and how the winter arrives, for example “Like Autumn leaves, heaven withers”, which describes the whitening of the sky.

In the second stanza, the narrator becomes more desperate after May. He sees lilies, which are known for forming leafless bulbs for protection against winter, lying in the snow. As May is absent, he finds it difficult to stay alive: “Everlasting seems the strife”. Darkness engulfs him, and he completely loses his will to live: “Makes me leave life”.

The last stanza sees a cry for help, directed at May. Veland begs May to come down to him: “descend with broken wings”. Again, he emphasizes the coldness, now with midwinter, which is the middle of the winter, and thus the strongest and most harsh. The poem finishes with a final request that May melts the winter.

December Elegy could be interpreted as a simple tribute to summer and the happiness which it brings. However, there are several arguments against this. First, the title of the poem reveals that it is an elegy, which, as noted in the introduction, is used to describe feelings of sorrow and mourning. Also, the feelings expressed within the poem are very deep, which the writer achieves mainly through his use of words with epic connotations. As an example, the “everlasting strife” of which Veland writes is an inappropriate hyperbole for three months of winter.

I believe that the December Elegy tells not of the loss of summer in a strict literary sense, but of the loss of the metaphorical summer of the narrator, most probably a beloved person. This theory is further reinforced by the fact that May is also both female name and a surname. Instead of the joys of summer, the joys, which this person constitutes for the narrator, are told of.

The second stanza mentions lilies in the snow. Snow is an antonym of summer, which indicates the absence of May, and thus the absence of the narrator’s beloved. Lilies are commonly used on funerals. This gives another clue that the first person has lost someone. The final line could be interpreted as the person dreaming –or trying to dream—of the days when his beloved was there, the “maytime”.

There might be a message in the poem that one should not cling too hard to lost things. However, I believe that it is merely a depiction an event. Another interpretation would be that the poem really does describe the change of seasons, and that the message is that you always get a new chance. There is always a new summer after every winter.

Comparative Commentary between Nurse’s Song and Nurse’s Song

This is a comparative commentary between two poems, written in a bit more than an hour and without a speciific word limit. It focuses on the tone, as opposed to the many metaphors.

William Blake, an 18th-century poet, has published two poems named Nurse’s Song. They were, however, published in two distinct collections — Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience — five years apart.

The two poems are similar in many aspects, although their meanings are different. First, they are constructed in a similar manner from a number of stanzas, each containing four lines and with the second line rhyming on the last one. The number of stanzas differs, though — four in the former, the song of Innocence, yet only two in the latter, the one of Experience.

Second, the narrator of both poems is the same; she is an old nurse shouting to her children, who are playing on a field. Except for the titles, this can be seen throughout the whole poems since they consist of a single monologue talking to its children — see line five in both poems, “come home, my children”. However, the tones of the voices are highly contrasting. In the former poem, not one single word with negative connotations is used. Instead, the vocabulary brings the thoughts to the happiness and innocence of childhood, such as in line 2: “laughing is heard on the hill” and line 11: “in the sky the little birds fly”.

The corresponding poem in Songs of Experience effectively creates a directly opposite atmosphere despite its short length. Line 4 contains the almost exclusively negative words “green and pale”, and the last line, 8, mentions “winter and night in disguise” — the “bad” counterparts of summer and day, made more sinister through disguise.

In both poems, the tone is identical to the mood of the narrating nurse. Analysing the poems’ storylines, it is obvious that both describe a nurse calling her children home at dusk: “come home, my children, the sun is gone down” at line 5 in both poems. In the former poem, the nurse is calmed down by the children’s games, reminding her of good memories from her own youth: “My heart is at rest within my breast, and everything else is still” on lines 3–4. As opposed to this, the nurse of the latter poem is disturbed by the children. She recalls memories, too, although they make her bitter of jealousy: “The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind, my face turns green and pale”. The nurse of Innocence lets the children keep playing when they request to do so on the basis that the sun is still up (“let us play, for it is yet day” on line 9, and “go and play till the light fades away”, line 13) while the nurse of Experience never allows the children to oppose her judgement. Instead, she condemns their game as useless: “Your spring and your day are wasted in play” at line 7.

Except for this difference, the poems are very similar: the first line in the first stanzas and the two first lines in the second stanzas are identical. This leaves only five unique lines in the Nurse’s Song from Songs of Experience, although they are used very well to show the difference between the two nurses’ personalities: “whisperings are in the dale” instead of “laughing is heard on the hill” on line 2. In this manner, more sentences are substituted with others having the same meaning but different connotations.

Other poems in Songs of Innocence are The LambLaughing Song and Infant Joy— positive titles, just like the word innocence. In the same way, the other poems in Songs of Experience are negative and describe the sad parts of life. Examples of poems therein are The Sick RoseInfant Sorrow and A Poison Tree, following the same naming convention.

My interpretation of these two poems is that Blake attempts to show the two different personalities that a person can evolve into. The nurses are on the surface the very same person, since their origin is the same, but their souls are widely different; the nurse who narrates the poem of Innocence is just that — innocent and happy, still carrying the spirit of her childhood within herself. Diagonally opposite, the nurse of Experience has let bad experiences cloud her mind and made her bitter.

Things Fall Apart — the Tragedy of an Individual or the Tragedy of a Society?

This was written as an ungraded timed essay with a limit of 45 minutes.

Everyone who has read Achebe’s masterpiece about the tragic end of the Ibo clans understands that it tells about the fall of a society — however, I see the work from a different point of view.

Umuofia and its neighbouring villages were indeed brutally forced to Christianity. For example, Abame was wiped out in a matter of minutes (p. 102) and the elders of Umuofia were imprisoned and mutilated (p. 141). Despite this, I would say that Achebe uses the demise of the Ibo as a tool to further the suffering that Okonkwo has to endure, only to meed his tragic end.

Okonkwo lived a hard life, with his constant fear — throughout the book portrayed as bravery — keeping him alive. He was bornt into a lazy man’s family, and so learnt to hade idleness in all of its forms (best shown on p. 10). Thus he worked, without being exhausted, almost all of his life. His efforts paid off, but did he really have any use of it?

Wit hhis mind set on one goal — taking the highest rank of the clan — Okonkwo loathed sloth and expected to see his own zeal in others, too. This lead to great disappointment when his son, Nwoye, revealed that he was a “wimp”, preferred feminime stories and ultimately joined the Christian missionaries (p. 112). One might argue that it is Nwoye’s own choice and that Okonkwo must accept it. However, this is exactly what Okonkwo’s perpetual suffering is based on — he persuades himself that he must succeed, after which he cannot let go of this paradigm.

Okonkwo bases his values on those of his clan, and thus respects it as an entity. The clan stands for strength, abandoning the weak, and respecting the gods and traditions. Because of this, he panics when he sees the path that his clan is treading.

When Umuofia — the foundation of Okonkwo’s philosophy — fails to live up to his expectations, he has nowhere else to turn. Okonkwo gives his fellow people one last chance to prove themselves unchanged, but they do not take it. Thus, Okonkwo takes the only path left and ends his life of suffering.

Courage in Pygmalion, Things Fall Apart and Educating Rita

I wrote this as a timed essay with a limit of 90 minutes. It got a 10 in all criteria: response to the question (A), presentation (B) and language (C).

“Courage” is a charged word with the power to induce strong feelings, and thus many strive to use it. Through constant use, though, the meaning of the word has changed. I will compare instances of courage in three literary works in an attempt to show the different kinds of courage. The works to be considered are Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion and the drama Educating Rita by Willy Russell.

Eliza in Pygmalion is offered to be taught good pronunciation for free. Her teacher, Mr. Higgins, bets that he will be able to pass her off as a duchess. Similarly to Eliza, Rita in Educating Rita takes on a private course in the University in order to become more educated about literature. During that time, she tells Frank, her teacher, about her life. In Things Fall Apart, Okonkwo lives hi entire life in the perpetual fear of becoming a failure. Even though he accidentally kills a tribesman and is exiled for seven years, he keeps going. When Christian missionaries come to the village, many – including Nwoye, Okonkwo’s son – are converted. The story ends in a failed attempt to uproar against the missionaries, leading to Okonkwo committing suicide.

In these works, we can see at least three different types of courage. Rita and Eliza are the most obvious example: they both try out something innovative and unexpected by their surroundings, but without risking too much. Rita does suffer from her choice later because of her husband, although that was not anything that she had been expecting. This is a very subtle kind of courage, which we can see almost every day in people making individual choices. This can also be seen in Nwoye, even though he puts a bit mote at stake: when he joins the Christians, his already angry father becomes infuriated. All of these actions changed the actors’ lives completely; Eliza married an upper-class man, Rita made new, more educated friends and Nwoye’s life began completely afresh, without his demanding father.

Another, much similar kind of courage is the one that Higgins displays when he bets about Eliza. Higgins is fully aware that it would be a large loss of income if he failed.. Thus, he is taking a chance along with a substantial risk. The missionaries from Things Fall Apart do just the same: they must have been aware of the risks when they embarked on their quest to enlighten the heathen. The risks are also shown in the book when one missionary is killed. This courage lies in risking something for another thing.

The third kind of courage is shown by Okonkwo when he stands out from the crowd and makes his and the whole clan’s voice heard after he returns from the exile. First, he convinces the other clan leaders to raze the church. Later, he attacks and kills one of the white messengers in an attempt to ignite the fighting-spirit in his clan. In the first event, Okonkwo shows courage because he does not conform and simply do what the rest of the clan does. In the second, he risks everything for the sake of the clan.

However, are these examples of courage? Of course they are – but whose kind of courage? According to me, none is real courage, since in every situation the ego plays a part. Rita, Eliza and Nwoye do it for their own sake, hoping for a life that is more enjoyable, be it with better understanding or without a demanding father. Higgins and the missionaries are not that courageous either, since they do it with a goal of their own in mind: Higgins wants to show off his skills, while the missionaries want to become persons of power. Not even Okonkwo handles selflessly: his goals and ambitions are all based on the survival of his clan, and being denied gradual adaption, he cannot handle it.

In my opinion, true courage is present only where ego is absent.

The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger

This is a written task of about 1100 words written in English A2 on Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Its full title was “Excerpt from The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger“. It is an excerpt from the book that the District Commissioner plans to write in the last chapter of Things Fall Apart.

As you are probably aware of, our glorious Queen has sponsored a mission on behalf of the Church to tame the wild, native population of Africa. I was chosen as the District Commissioner for the District of Lower Niger, and in an attempt to ease the pacification of further tribes, I will share my experience here.

Seven years ago, our first ships arrived on the west coast of the continent. We began – as planned – by setting up a simple base of operations, after which we sent a missionary on a bicycle to the closest village. Unfortunately, his arrival in the village, which they called Abame, ended in a violent murder of the missionary.

Our research had led us to the conclusion that these natives, as expected, wield a very simple mindset. Upon encountering an unknown situation, they instinctively act in favour of their own well-being, just as animals do. That is why they killed our messenger. In a successful attempt to remove this unwanted behaviour, we went on to display the Queen’s might and thereby induce terror into the tribes. It is a well-known fact that simpletons are easily affected by fear. By entering the village with our army and punishing their hostility by executing the entire village, we succeeded in our task. Their futile resistance was of no danger to us.

Immediately after this victory, we sent more men to nearby villages. It is important to act quickly after such an act, because the natives might otherwise draw the conclusion that we are in doubt after the execution. The missionaries, who were sent to the village which the natives call Umuofia, managed to set up a church. It was built in a remote forest, which was thought to be haunted. Since the belief that the forest was “evil” was widespread among the natives, we could use this superstition to our advantage by displaying the power of God. Doing so was an important step in making the natives realise that their gods were false.

Mr. Brown was sent as the head of the church in Umuofia. He spent much time both collecting followers and communicating with the head of the natives’ religion. Their beliefs are very peculiar: they are certain that there is a personal god for every habitant in their tribe, who decides the success of that native in life. Clearly their so-called gods are less, if any at all, capable than our omnipotent God, because they are unable of looking after more than one follower each. They also make regular sacrifices to other gods, who have divided the world amongst them. An example is Ani, who is given sacrifices in the form of animals, and Ifejioku, for whom dry bushes are burnt. The natives believe that their gods will reward them for sacrificing. Of course, this would not work since the only God rewards he who deserves it.

The tribe seemed to be held together with a primitive, hierarchal structure, where the natives who possessed the largest farms and most palm-wine ruled. Since the rulers were the ones most eager to conserve their heathen ways in order to retain power, we systematically attracted the natives to the true religion in an ascending order of social status. We began with offering acceptance to the outcasts from the village, and thus gained a strong base. At first it seemed difficult to enjoin even the lower-class natives because of their firm belief that the outcasts were of no good, but when they were enlightened by the teachings of God, they realised that they were as much worth and that the differences between them posed no problem.
Soon, the converted natives were taught to write. This, too, was an important part of the pacification of the wilds, since we were able to promise good lives with jobs of high status to the educated ones. Although the process took several years, the natives slowly realised that the new order was advantageous and thus joined us. Another important factor was that we baptised the turned natives and renamed them. A young boy, who was formerly called “Nwoye”, we renamed to Isaac. I believe that this contributed to the connotations of education and superiority that the natives seemed to have about us.

As our settlement grew, a functioning court was built, and logic law was enforced upon Umuofia, as opposed to the primitive ways of justice that were practiced by the heathen. An example of a completely illogical custom was to abandon twins in an “evil forest”, as if they were less liked by God than other natives. This is clearly a cause of their praising to the false gods, who demand sacrifices and esoteric rituals. We consider this the point were our success was given, since the false gods’ will did no longer govern.

A series of interesting events occurred shortly after the establishment of the court, probably as the consequence of the return of a native who had been in exile for several years. Note that this never would have happened under the Queen’s rule, and was only caused by the tribe’s incorrect ways of justice.

The newcomer convinced the clan that the church had to be razed, and so a command squad was sent to do so. Thanks to the effective ways of our government, we quickly arrested the perpetrators and jailed them for a couple of days. Note that this, just like the battle of Abame, was done in order to both make justice and induce fear. A short time after the release of the captives, the troublemaker killed a messenger in a completely unprovoked manner. A squad was swiftly sent to bring justice to him, but we were surprised when we encountered his corpse, hanging from a tree. I let one of my men cut the body down – it is very important that the natives retain their respect for the district commissioner, and thus I could not be seen cutting down someone from a tree.

Suicide was seen as a crime, even by this simple tribe. Therefore, it is interesting that the troublemaker had committed it: one would have thought that he would attempt to pull his clan back to their old beliefs, or flee to another village. One explanation is that he realised that it would be impossible of no use to attempt to convince the clan, because they were already enlightened and knew that the ways of the false gods only led them wrong. Since this man was much respected in the formerly primitive clan, I believe that he had realised that the end of his reign had come, and thus saw no way out but committing suicide.

It is mesmerizing, what an end a false religion can lead to.

Notes for Things Fall Apart: Chapters 10-13

Here are my notes for a seminary on Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The seminary was about the position of women in Umuofia and how justice is carried out in the Ibo society (which incidentally had been written as IBO on our paper).


  • So far, women have been portrayed as weak and inferior.
  • “the ceremony was for men” — Men have their say in the village politics, as opposed to women.
  • “If a woman runs away from her hsuband” — Women hare the property of their respective husbands. They are like pets.
  • Ekwefi’s pursuit of Agbala’s priestess and Ezinma: Both genders care, but women show it more.
  • “we are giving you our daughter today. She will be a good wife to you. She will bear your nine sons like the mother of our town.” — Women are treated as a kind of goods, and their main purpose is to carry children.
  • “He raised his voice once more twice in manly sorrow”“the endless wailing of women” — Women are portrayed as more emotional than men are. Men cry in a specific way.


  • There is no corruption and no jail. However, different people are valued differently, and there is exile.
  • “a crime against the earth goddess” — Crime against the gods, not against the people.
  • “[Obierika] sat down in his obi […] why should a man suffer so grievously for an offence he had committed inadvertently?” — Obierika questions the system, but he ignores it anyway because it belongs to the Igbo people’s paradigm.

Specific Heat Capacity of Water (H2O)


The aim of this investigation is to determine the specific heat capacity of H2O (water). This is accomplished by measuring to which temperature a certain amount of energy takes the water. The independent variable of this experiment is the amount of current put into the water. The dependent variable is the water’s temperature over time. The controlled variables are the initial temperature of the water and the amount of water.

Materials and Methods

The following materials were used:

  • scale
  • calorimeter
  • stirrer
  • thermometer
  • stopwatch
  • power supply
  • multimeter
  • 385 g H2O

The calorimeter was filled with 385 g of water, after which a measured current was applied to it the water. The temperature of the water was measured in increments of one minute, while the water was stirred with the stirrer.

The experiment was conducted only once, and thus the independent variable was not varied.


Table 1: Measured current
Voltage (V) 15.81 V
Current (I) 3 A
Power (P) 47.43 W

P (the power) was derived with the following formula:

P = V * I

Table 2: Temperature over time
Time [m] Temperature [C] +/- 1
0 16
1 16
2 18
3 21
4 22
5 25
6 27
7 28
8 30
9 31
10 33
11 35
12 36
13 38
14 40
15 41
16 43
17 44
18 46
19 48
20 49
21 51
22 52

Since an accurate stopwatch was used, the error margin in the time-column is negligible. The thermometer used was difficult to measure with because of unclear display, which approximates to an error margin of 1 degree Celsius. There is a clear, linear trend visible in the data.

The specific heat capacity (c) was calculated using the following formula:

C = Q / (m*dT)

Where m is the mass of the water and dT is the change in temperature. Q is the heat added, which equals P times the time passed. Since the trend in the data is regular and lacks anomalous results, the total data can be used for this calculation. The calorimeter’s effect was neglected.

c = Q / ( m * dT ) = ( 47.43 * 60 * 22 ) / ( 0.350 * ( 52 – 16 ) ) = 4969 J(kgK)^-1


According to this experiment, the specific heat capacity of liquid water at 16 degrees Celsius is 4969 J(kgK)^-1. Comparing our result with literature values, Giancoli’s Physics (fifth edition) states that this value is 4186 J(kgK)^-1. Since our result was larger than Giancoli’s, we must have disregarded another loss of heat. This is because we assumed that the water absorbs all heat, which is not the case. Some heat is lost to the surroundings, e.g. the calorimeter and the air above it.

Note, also, that the current varied slightly during the investigation. It started as 3 A, but when the experiment had been completed, it had risen by approximately 0.1 A. From this, we can draw the conclusion that the resistance of water decreases by a small amount when it is heated between 16 and 52 degrees Celsius.


The method used is flawed on several points. The main weakness, though, is the fact that energy is lost to the environment. The calorimeter was a polystyrene cylinder with a mass of approximately 0.2 +/- 0.1 kg. Polystyrene has a specific heat capacity of 1.3 times 10^3 J(kgK)^-1 according to Wikipedia. The c*m factor of the formula for heat added (derived from the formula for specific heat capacity) is then for polystyrene 1.3 times 10^3 times 0.2 = 260 JK^-1, while the respective factor for water is 4.969 times 10^3 times 0.350 = 1739 JK^-1. Thus, the polystyrene calorimeter stands for a significant part of the heat lost. Heat was also lost to the heating apparatus as well as to the stirring stick and the thermometer, although these objects had low masses. By using an even more0 insulating calorimeter, with a lower specific heat capacity, we would decrease the heat lost to the environment.

The primitive method for stirring is another reason for heat-loss. A stick with a ring in attached to the end was used to manually stir the water, which led to exhausted arms and an inability to maintain stirring for a prolonged period of time. This could have been solved by using an automatic stirrer.

Notes for Things Fall Apart: Chapters 1-9

These were my notes for a seminar on chapters 1-9 on Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. More specifically, we were to discuss the traditional African society met in Umuofia (beliefs, rituals, values, traditions), the proverbial Ibo/Igbo language and its function, and comment on the characters of Okonkwo, Unoka, Nwoye and Ikemefuna. The notes are quite unstructured, but I find that easier to work with (or I’m just lazy).

  • 3
    • “he had brought honor to his village by throwing […]” — Physical strength is important
    • “He was tall and huge”“His wives and children could hear him breath”“[…] he would use his fists” — Again, the physical prowess is very important among the Ibo.
  • 4
    • “Unoka was […] a debtor” — Unoka had failed in his life.
  • 6
    • “sentences in proverbs”“the art of conversation is regarded very highly” — Speech is an art
  • 8
    • “warned not to whistle at night” — Religious or supersticious
    • “when the moon shines, the cripple becomes hungry for a walk” — Proverb
  • 10
    • “Hiswives […] lived in perpetual fear” — Okonkwo showed his manliness
  • 11
    • “Okonkwo’s prosperity was visible in his household. He had a large compound enclosed by a thick wall of red earth.” — Red earth shows status.
  • 13
    • “People came from far and near to consult [the Oracle Agbala]” — Religious and believing
  • 14
    • “[Unoka] said sadly, ‘before I put any crop in the earth, I sacrifice a cock to Ani […] I also kill a cock for the shrine of Ifejioku” — Unoka is weak and tries to taket shortcuts to prosperity
    • “He neither inherityed a barn, nor a title, nor even a young wife” — Women are objects, a kind of currency. They are inherited.
  • 16
    • “an old woman is uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb” — A meta-proverb! The Ibo are hard-core proverb-users.
  • 17
    • “Eneke the bird says that since men have learnt to shoot without missing, he has learnt to fly without perching.” — Another proverb. Everyone adapts.
  • 18
    • “Yam […] was a man’s crop” — Further downgrading of women.
  • 19
    • “Since I survived that year […] I shall survive anything.” — Okonkwo is positive, iron-willed and resilient.
    • “It is more difficult and more bitter when a man fails alone.” — Unoka told Okonkwo this semi-proberb. Did he refer to himself, failing alone?
  • 21
    • “Ikemefuna should be in Okonkwo’s care for a while.”“At first Ikemefuna was very afraid.” — About Ikemefuna’s arrival in Umuofia
    • “He came into the hut with a big stick in his hand and stood over him […]” — Okonkwo cold-heartedly teaches Ikemefuna manners, ignoring the fact that he is just a child.
  • 23
    • “You have committed a great evil” — A friend, Okonkwo, is less worth than the accurate worshipping of the Ibo gods.
  • 26
    • “Ikemefuna had begun to feel like a member of Okonkwo’s family.”“He and Nwoye had become so deeply attached to each other” — Nwoye felt at homem which also helped Nwoye on an emotional stage.
    • “Nwoye always wondered who Nnadi was and why he should live alone” — About the song that tells about Nnadi, cooking and eating alone. Nwoye is naïve and innocent.
  • 28
    • “Every man whose arm was strong” — If his arm is not strong, he is not worthy of participating
  • 29
    • “He pressed the trigger” — Okonkwo’s personality with aggressive tendencies is shown. You can draw parallells to John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men: In both, a main character’s aggressivity is gradually increased and foreshadowed. They also have similar endings, and both the books’ names are inspired by poems.
  • 32
    • “Nwoye’s mother” — Nwoye’s mother’s name is never mentioned, which makes Nwoye the central person instead of his mother. A parallell is the non-naming of “Okonkwo’s wives”‘.
  • 33
    • “Sit like a woman!”“No, that’s a boy’s job” — Okonkwo keeps to principles and gender-discrimination. He forces Ezinma, his daughter, to behave like women should.
  • 34
    • “The whole village turned out on the ido” — wrestling (physical prowess) is important
  • 38
    • “For three years Ikemefuna lived in Okonkwo’s household” — Ikemefuna’s life
    • “He was an elder brother to Nwoye” — Ikemefuna was helpful and important for Okonkwo’s son
  • 39
    • “Nwoye knew that it was right to be masculine and to be violent, but somehow he still preferred the stories that his mother used to tell” — Nwoye believes that his father is right and that he himself is weak. Therefore, he sacrifices himself for him.
  • 41
    • “Umofia has decided to kil him” — The end of Ikemefune
    • “He calls you father” — Fathership is very important, since Okonkwo is encouraged to disobey the laws of the clan in order to honor it.
  • 44
    • “Okonkwo […] cut him down […] afraid of being weak” — Pride and status is more important than the family, according to Okonkwo.