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Author Topic: Year of Wonders Text Response Essay  (Read 10168 times)  Share 

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Deceitful Wings

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Year of Wonders Text Response Essay
« on: March 03, 2012, 11:06:21 am »
+1
Out of ten, can you please give my essay a rating? Also could you provide constructive criticism? thanks! :)

The women of The Year of Wonders are stronger than the men.  Do you agree?

Geraldine brooks’ feminist driven novel Year of Wonders displays how power and strength are two distinctively different definitions. In the post-medieval era where society was socially divided by class and gender, power was greatly exercised by those with superiority in occupation and position – mainly comprising of men. In such a civilization, the struggle for womanhood was evident. However in the Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks asserts that even with the lack of power woman had, their mental strength allowed them to heavily impact Eyam during the year of the devastating plague, making them stronger and more influential than the men. Male characters such as Michael Mompellion had power over the village; his influence, charisma and determination alleviated the disaster in Eyam to some degree, however his consistent need to help others exhausts himself over the course of the catastrophic year and in particular, Elinor’s death provokes a pothole in his mental strength.  Furthermore Brooks displays the invaluable role of females in the village through the feminist cores of the novel, Anys and Mem. Their vocations as midwives, knowledge in herbal medicine and non-conformist values play an important responsibility in demonstrating how their physiological strength ultimately exceeds any of the barber surgeons. Through the characters of Anna and Aphra, Brooks explores the idea how the development on the strength in women can be for the better or the worse, ultimately leading to a continual progression of strength or otherwise their resulting in their own demise. Either way, the actions of these women still provide a larger impact on the village than any other men.
   
Men like Michael Mompellion initially demonstrate how his “body is strong” but “the strength of his will far exceeds it”, however after the numerous deaths in Eyam – Elinor’s in particular - we see his strength deteriorate; resulting in fewer contributions to the villagers needs. Where we see Mompellion’s downfall in strength, we see the rise in the strength in Anna and her independence. Brooks remonstrates the strength of Michael through the choices he makes throughout 1666. At the peak of his abilities he is able to influence the village through the means of religious purposes.His determination to honour his pledge that “none should die alone” allows him to push himself, denying himself respite, until he collapses in exhaustion.  Despite his understanding in suffering “having felt it in his own life”, Michael’s choice to self-quarantine the village results in a plethora of events which consequently damage his strength in will. In particular, the death of Elinor drives him to question his devotion of religion, feeling that what he “has believed, is based upon a lie”. His prolonged depression sparks his insanity, where his own questioning contradicts the very reason why he decided to help Eyam. In comparison to the actions of Michael Mompellion after the death of Elinor, Anna Frith differs. Despite feeling an overwhelming profusion of sadness, Anna returns to work almost immediately and “serve her (Elinor) as best she could” by striving “to be the women Elinor wished”. In doing so, Brooks demonstrates how Anna is able to overcome sadness and make the choices which enable her to be a stronger individual than Mompellion.

Geraldine Brooks heavily reinforces the strength and how the ability of women can impact a community through the characters of Anys and Mem Gowdie. In a time where women were living in a society where they were suppressed, uneducated and restricted in their occupations, Anys and Mem demonstrate a new form of women that are emerging among the village of Eyam. They challenge the values of the period in several ways.  They are highly educated in herbal medicine, independent and non-conforming to the conventions of society. In particular, the Gowdies sense of uniqueness is what allows them to contribute to positively impacting the village. Brooks demonstrates how their significance plays a role through the eyes of Anna who feels admiration towards Anys as she is “listening to her own heart rather than having her life ruled by others’ conventions”. Not only do the Gowdies initiate other women such as Anna to become stronger and independent, but their very principles are what make a difference in the village. Had it not been for their life values, Eyam would not have “the best chance”… the “women had of living through their confinements with healthy infants in their arms”. Furthermore, their authenticity further demonstrates how their strength in knowledge far exceeds the Barber surgeons, especially in midwiving. Anys with confidence asserts towards Anna how Barber surgeons “knew nothing of women’s body” and how she does, just by being a woman. Brooks verges on an idea of how logic, science and independence (all followed by the Gowdies) allows one to be stronger than those who oblige themselves to superstition and religion (followed by the men in the novel).

Throughout the Year of Wonders, female characters such as Anna and Aphra evidently become stronger women, respectively for the better and worse, however despite their intentions, their actions still have a greater impact in the village than the male characters. Anna’s journey in becoming a stronger woman through her developing relationship with Elinor is observed as an evident key feature of the novel, demonstrating how her mental strength helps the village. The fact that Anna made the decision to stay in Eyam initiated her development of mental strength and intellectual potential through the experience of the catastrophic year. From the advice of Anys and the guidance of Elinor, Anna is able to question the existence of God by concluding that the plague “was neither of God nor the Devil, but simply a thing in nature”. In contrast, the cowardice decision made by Colonel Bradford, who leaves Eyam keeping in mind that his “life and the lives of (his) family are of more consequence” to him.  In subsequence, this results in his inability to overcome the effects of the plague when confronted, forcing him to retreat back to Eyam. The polarized character development between Anna and Colonel Bradford is intentionally created by Brooks to explicate how confronting one’s fears leads to strength rather than fleeing from it. Furthermore, Brooks conveys how intense circumstances can cause one to react towards their own demise through Aphra. As a women considered being of an older age in the village, Aphra is a “shrewd women” from experience allowing her to have potential influence over others. Through her intense superstitions fueled by her madness, Aphra is able to influence the villagers through fear and misapprehension. In spite the fact that her intentions are selfish and crude, her ability to inflict pain to the villagers is stronger and impacts more villagers than the actions of Gordon the flagellant, who attempts to rid the plague through self infliction of pain and in his wife.

Strength is defined by the ability to impact a community, and power is how much one has influence over others. Geraldine Brooks is able to articulate this through how different characters respond differently to circumstances. Michael Mompellion’s will deteriorate over the course of the year as he loses faith in God. On the other hand, Anys and Mem, the feminine cores of the novel are able to impact the village through their vocation and knowledge. Whether the intentions are good or bad, through Anna and Aphra, Brooks explores how females cause more change the perceptions of a community than men.

Deceitful Wings

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Re: Year of Wonders Text Response Essay
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2012, 10:49:00 pm »
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I still have no feedback :\
I am up for criticism from anyone, whether you have read Year of Wonders or not, it would help me a whole lot if you could critique the style of my essay, expression, etc.
Thanks :)

greenbeans

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Re: Year of Wonders Text Response Essay
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2012, 07:54:56 pm »
+3
I will mark it for you if you like...or at least attempt to give you some feedback!
Please pm me your email pref hotmail and I'll get started!

Your arguments are pretty solid, I've just got some feedback about really nitty gritty precision with the writing and the style, not so much the content, but stuff that can cost you a bit.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2012, 07:58:26 pm by greenbeans »
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English | English Language | French | Music Performance | Further Maths | Legal Studies

Bachelor of Arts, Monash
Linguistics | French | Journalism | Criminology

greenbeans

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Re: Year of Wonders Text Response Essay
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2012, 01:27:48 pm »
+1
Gahhhh I gave up on MS word - such a noob with technology these days - so I will do it here!
Firstly, let's look at the language usage.

Geraldine brooks’ feminist driven novel Year of Wonders

- Her name is a proper noun, so treat it that way with capital letters.
- If something is 'driven by feminism', chuck in a hyphen.
- The novel's title requires quotation marks at all times.

Quote
In such a civilization,
- English is a subject that requires Standard Australian English (correct me if I'm wrong but I think it comes under the criterion of accuracy), so avoid American orthography.

Quote
However in the Year of Wonders
- Yes this is very picky but no need for 'the', just 'in "Year of Wonders". blah blah blah.'

Quote
the lack of power woman had
- Woman, singular or plural?

Quote
to heavily impact Eyam
- You can't directly 'impact' something, it doesn't flow right when used as a verb.
Normally we see it as a noun tied together ALWAYS with a preposition. I would reword that sentence or phrase something along the lines of, 'the mental strength that the women in the village possessed/exhibited had a positive/enormous/whatever impact on the community.'

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his consistent need to help others exhausts himself
- I know what you're trying to say, but saying 'exhausts himself' (though him would be preferable to himself) doesn't flow properly. Perhaps 'his need.....takes a toll on his physical wellbeing.'

Quote
the idea how the development on the strength in women
- This could be phrased more clearly.

Quote
for the better or the worse
- "For better or for worse".

Quote
provide a larger impact on the village
- "Impact" is a bit vague, a placeholder. Spell out what you mean, go directly to your point.


Content: Great. It's evident you've got your points sorted out and your evidence intact. However, your intro shouldn't mention characters or specific examples from the text. Forget about introducing Michael or Mem or whoever just yet. Remove those names and your points can still stand in your intro. Any intro should be short, directly answering the question and provide a quick synopsis of your contention and your topic sentences. From the looks of it your intro is longer than some of your body paragraphs. Your conclusion is also a bit wordy. The background material in the intro, such as your reference to the post-medieval era and the gender roles of the time and all, THAT is gold, that is what you should be including. Make a general observation of the question: think in a broader perspective and provide your stance, then go and flesh out your points in the following paragraphs. That's how you get on target. Your intro is so crucial, so nail it and the rest of your essay will flow from there.

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Men like Michael Mompellion Geraldine Brooks heavily reinforces.... through Anys and Mem Gowdie Throughout the Year of Wonders, female characters such as Anna and Aphra

Again, the same applies for topic sentences. Same applies for conclusions. No text evidence.
Think of approaching your essay and its contention and topic sentences like this..

Take the question: The women of The Year of Wonders are stronger than the men.  Do you agree?

Remove any connection to the text:
The women of The Year of Wonders are stronger than the men.

Now formulate a contention and subsequent topic sentences answering whether or not Women are stronger than men. BUTTTT you say, What about the text I poured my heart and soul into? Use the text as evidence, as support to back up your contention and evidence with short sentences, themes evident in the text and quotes. Think, How can I generically answer this question so that it can universally relate to not just YoW? So you might want to say something like, 'In XXX era, Brooks suggests that it is women who are the adhesive glue for the stability of a community. Traditionally, because of XXXX, women have been raised in specific gender roles associated with motherly duties and XXXX ....blah blah, As a result, women were the ones who naturally tended to children and those in need when times of crises arose. Now, for the novel to back up these points! Brooks uses Mem, Anna, some chick to exemplify............ Does that make sense? Do that for every paragraph so that by the time you look back on your essay, you can pull out the text references and more or less allow your contention and topic sentences to apply to another text.

The conclusion really needn't be longer than 2 to 3 sentences. Summarise without reference to characters. Make an observation. What have you learnt from writing this essay? Obviously don't use 'me, you, I', etc.

Final points:
- Brackets look a bit silly, try to put them in a sentence. If it doesn't flow, reconsider their necessity.
- The Plague, not the plague. A proper noun; a huge event.
- Square brackets [like this] instead of (like this) for inserting words in quotes.
Quote
Strength is defined by
- By who? You, Brooks? Careful.
- Pretend that your examiner, teacher, whoever reading your essay doesn't know these characters to death. Spell out every character. Spell out the occupations of people, who they are connected to in society, etc. The first time that you mention Michael, you've said that he's got power, charisma, etc. but you haven't told me WHY. Because he is the rector, because he's well respected? Fill the reader in.

I hope this has helped. Your content is more than fine, very impressive. Just tie up these structural things because even the best, most eloquent writers can produce a mind-blowingly, jaw-droppingly amazing essay..... but score 0 because of structure. But structure is easy to learn! Nag your teacher if need be! I was in your exact situation last year, but truly I tell you that teachers are such an invaluable resource!

You have already nailed the hard parts of this task and the bits that the majority of the state suck at: The Thinking Part. It's obvious that you've got no problem with finding a deeper approach into the text. So relax, the challenging bits are already under your belt. I suggest you take your time perfecting these specifics such as fluency and accuracy and you'll be great! Remember, revise your work regularly and practise writing as often as you can!
« Last Edit: March 14, 2012, 01:35:06 pm by greenbeans »
VCE 2010/2011
English | English Language | French | Music Performance | Further Maths | Legal Studies

Bachelor of Arts, Monash
Linguistics | French | Journalism | Criminology