TMA07: Block 5 comparison
This assignment related to Block 5 and you will be dealing with two different works. When you have completed the assignment, please send it to your tutor to arrive no later than 4 April 2008.
Pleas remember that this assignment is non-substitutable.
You should answer this question in an essay of no more than 1,500 words.
Choose two works from Block 5. Discuss the ways in which your two chosen texts exploit the traditions and conventions of their genre both formally and in terms of content. You might find it useful to consider points of comparison between your chosen texts. Credit will be given for attempting a comparison between works of different genres, but you don’t have to do this.
The four main texts studied in Block 5 are:
|Don Juan||Symphonic poem||Strauss|
|Wide Sargasso Sea||Prose fiction (novel)||Rhys|
Pygmalion – Wide Sargasso Sea
Your starting point might be the word ‘exploit’ in the question: remember that this can mean using traditions and conventions in an established way and challenging, adapting or even flouting those same traditions and conventions. Block 5, Unit 19, offers plenty of guidance on the dramatic conventions and the myths and traditions used in Pygmalion. Consider how Shaw is exploiting the structure of the five-act play, the conventions of comedy, and Ovidian myth and fairy tale. Block 5, Unit 23, contains ample guidance on the novel as a genre and its conventions and structure; it also relates Wide Sargasso Sea to library traditions and myths. Consider the ways in which Rhys structures her novel, how it relates to the novelistic tradition as embodied in Jane Eyre, and how the perspectives, style and characterisation used in the novel relate to established or accepted conventions. If you choose these two texts, you may wish to discuss to what extent these authors may be regarded as flouting or attempting to reform generic conventions and traditions.
If you choose to work with Medea, you need to look for the main traditions and conventions of Greek tragic drama before you can work out how Euripides exploited them. These include the structure of the play (Units 20-21, p.60), dialogue (pp.60-61), mythical content (pp.69, 87-91), theatrical space (pp.69-78), and aspects of performance such as actors, masks, costumes, movement, including the deployment of the chorus and stage machinery (pp.61-3). However, you are not being asked to give a survey and should avoid a straight summary of traditions and conventions. A better approach is to feed information on conventions and traditions into your discussion of how they are exploited. For example, you might examine how the device of stichomythia is used in a particular episode, perhaps one of the three involving Medea and Jason (p.56). You are also being asked to look at both form and content. Your essay should include examples of both, even if they are discussed together. You will find the Glossary (pp.113-15) useful for the formal elements of Greek tragedy and may wish to refer to Margaret Williamson’s article in Resource Book 3, D9, when considering such issues as the representation of public and private space in performance.
You are advised to reread pp.136-40, paying particular attention to the discussion of the musical traditions that Strauss could call on when writing a large-scale orchestral work. You might find it helpful to reread some of the detailed discussion of Don Juan and think about the conventions associated with specific instruments.