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Sarah M.
Oxford English graduate and scholarship winner / Available now
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French
TutorMe
Question:

Explique la position historique du film 'Les Enfants du Paradis'?

Sarah M.
Answer:

Les Enfants du Paradis est intéressant parce que il était tourné au même temps que la Seconde Guerre mondiale, dans la France occupe. Cote histoire filmographique, il était tourne dans la période de limbo jusque avant la naissance de la Nouvelle Vague, alors ce film est outil pour marquer ce transition.

Literature
TutorMe
Question:

('The Great Gatbsy') Write about the ways in which Fitzgerald tells the story in Chapter 1.

Sarah M.
Answer:

F. Scott Fitzgerald writes his story through the medium of a character’s narrative. Nick Carraway, a passive, introspective ex-soldier from the Mid-West, tells the story in first person. The limitations which this presents for the novel do not restrict content in a negative way but rather, refine it. This narrative method forces the reader to be wary of character depictions and events, because Nick’s perception and judgement colour everything – his voice is all-pervading and we cannot dodge it. One might liken Nick’s voice to a filter, through which we pass every sentence and thereby derive our own sense of the truth - this is central to the storytelling method.

English
TutorMe
Question:

Discuss how three of the authors you have studied test the subject of time. (A-Level, Age 16/17 response to a Literature Question)

Sarah M.
Answer:

Time in all its forms is tested, distorted and depicted in a myriad of different ways in ‘The Great Gatsby’, ‘The God of Small Things’, and Thomas Hardy’s poetry; notably ‘Neutral Tones’ and ‘The Voice’. Time shifts around the spectrum of this poetry and pervades every chapter of both novels as one of the most important themes, if not the greatest. The transience of time in particular is symbolised effectively in The God of Small Things, The Great Gatsby, and The Voice. The small party presented in Chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby demonstrates the transience of the dinner gathering in Chapter 1, how ‘presently dinner would be over and a little later the evening would be over and casually put away.’ The positioning of this vignette is deeply symbolic of the author’s views on society, lying between Chapter 1’s exclusive dinner and Gatsby’s extravagant party in Chapter 3. These social episodes play out and in turn, are discarded; this mechanical style alluding to the vacancy of events and finiteness of time in this epoch. The theme is deftly linked and epitomised in Chapter One’s description of the dinner gathering, as it seems nothing in this hedonistic world is eternal– ‘the broken fragments of the last five minutes’ showing that time itself, a concept out of humanity’s grasp, embodying eternity, has the capability of being dissected and labelled like another consumerist item. The transience of time in relation to memory is portrayed through ‘The Voice’, exploring how a person’s memory and thus their grasp of past events can be frayed by age and time. This is demonstrated by the tone of ‘or is it only the breeze, in its listlessness,’ the lethargic elongation of this harbouring a feminine stress. Feminine stresses do not end the line starkly but instead seem to fold away into the poem. This lends the line a softness which emphasizes the fragility of the phantom of Emma and thus Hardy’s time-memory. The intangibility of vision (caused by time) in ‘The Voice’ is also emphasized by the phrase ‘air-blue gown’. The colour has an ethereality to it which coincides with time’s ability to fade a memory, and furthermore, Hardy uses a compound epithet to describe her, not a solid word one might find in a dictionary. This emphasizes the tragic fragility of the situation and its liability to disappear – mirroring time’s transience and its ability to destroy memories. Time in The God of Small Things is not devalued by a comparison with consumerism, as in ‘The Great Gatsby’, but is certainly represented as being a transient concept. The fragmented, non-linear time-scale reflects this transience, events moving backwards and forwards between 1963 and 1993 in a seamless fashion which blurs the boundaries between dates and causes us to question the conventional need for chronology. With regard to the distortion of time, The God of Small Things is often told from the perspective of Rahel as a young girl, demonstrated through literary devices such as the deliberate capitalising of nouns to intensify a focus on events which would have been important to a child in particular. This simulation of a child’s rationale provokes a sense of enquiry in the reader, as well as causing them to doubt the narrator’s reliability – which adds tension to a story which has no palpable form of ‘fast’ action yet. Similarly, in terms of narrative, The Great Gatsby and Neutral Tones are also told in retrospect, a narrative device which has its own unsettling charm as it makes the reader helpless with regard to the narrator’s reliability. Neutral Tones explores how memories might distort and fade when time is looked at retrospectively. This is beautifully mirrored through the content - words are presented to us with great specificity of definition at the start of the poem, but when revisited at the ending, the same words have faded in conceptuality and become nebulous. For example, the ‘ash’ of the first stanza has faded to ‘tree’ by the fourth, demonstrating the loss of identity; ‘gray’ to ‘gray-ish’, emphasizing how time decays memories and births vagueness; and the decisive image of ‘leaves lay’ disintegrates to ‘leaves [edged]’, perhaps the most tragic image of all, mirroring the quiet, unobtrusive way in which memories creep to the margin over time, and are lost without our notice. The God of Small Things shows an attempt to stop this memory-decay, through the metaphor of the Ipe business name, ‘Paradise Pickles and Preserves.’ To preserve something is to keep it: however the nature of this object will still be altered over time, which perhaps alludes to the hopelessness of humanity’s struggle against time. This struggle is certainly portrayed in The Great Gatsby; epitomised with beautiful subtlety in Chapter 5, as Gatsby deplores with a glance at his watch, “It’s too late!” This line is pervaded with the desperate tragedy and hopelessness of his situation, due to the futility of his attempts to ‘repeat the past ’. ‘Time’s unflinching rigour’ is the perfect epitome of all these characters’ attitude towards time; ‘its mindless rote’ lending the concept a mechanical, artless air and suggesting the irrevocable destruction it imposes upon humanity. Time has the same negative role in The Great Gatsby, where it is Gatsby’s enemy, representing the thousands of wasted hours in which Daisy and himself were separated. Here, it is best illustrated through Gatsby’s mantelpiece clock in Chapter 5, where the tension between himself and the ticking minutes infuses the start of the chapter, pervading through Gatsby’s restlessness. This image is most effectively used at a moment of awkward tension between Gatsby and Daisy, where Nick writes “The clock took this moment to tilt dangerously (...) he caught it with trembling fingers and set it back in place.” The precariousness of the clock shows the intense fragility of Time, and its ability to fulfil or destroy Gatsby’s dream, battling against the idealist’s hopes. The God of Small Things also uses time-related objects in order to illustrate the theme; in particular, Rahel’s wristwatch, always reading ‘ten to two’ in order to show Time’s role as an enemy and destroyer in the novel. This rather tragic image portrays Estha’s intense desire to turn back time because of the trauma he has faced and the guilt over Velutha’s death, a desire which is shared by Baby Kochamma who is painfully aware of her missed chance at happiness with Father Mulligan, a chance taken by her niece Ammu, for whom time has stopped: ‘at 27, her life was already over.’ Time’s ability to distort its victims’ physicality is explored in both The God of Small Things and The Great Gatsby. The character of Baby Kochamma is a perfect epitome of this distortion, her characterisation an extremely physical one. The juxtaposition of the nickname ‘Baby’ with an eighty-three year old woman is strangely unsettling and introduces us to this time-warp. Rahel perceptively observes of Baby Kochamma that ‘she’s living her life backwards’. Certainly, her childlike ‘tiny, manicured feet’ are comically incongruous to her aged, sagging body – much like the softening decay of the Ayemenem House as described in Chapter One. Time has upset conventional chronology and forced Baby Kochamma into a warped, upturned reality. This disturbing reversal of time is also explored in The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald suggests that Gatsby and Daisy’s unfulfilled romance has stunted their emotional growth, an effect which appears to manifest in their physical comportment. Their secretive meeting, behind Tom’s back, seems more akin to Romeo and Juliet’s adolescent affair than the reunion of two fully developed adults. Nick describes Gatsby’s motions as extremely boyish, writing ‘once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs’, this excitable, dazed state showing his adolescent intoxication with love. In a way, Gatsby and Daisy’s romance is playing out in reverse, which further accentuates the chapter with tragedy as it eliminates the possibility of a happy ending. Gatsby’s stunted emotional state is also shown when his composure is completely upset by the looming meeting with Daisy. Nick describes a teenager’s moodiness: ‘with his [Gatsby’s] hands plunged (...) in his coat pockets (...) glaring tragically into my eyes’ and ‘with his hands still in his coat pockets he stalked by me into the hall.’ The shocking immaturity of his physical demeanour here again illustrates the distortion of time. Finally, Nick epitomises this: ‘you’re acting like a little boy.’ All these examples melancholically recall Daisy and Gatsby’s never-elopement, which should have taken place years earlier, showing the characters’ entrapment by time. The retrospective nature of all these pieces of writing also introduces Time’s power to age – and the yearning of characters’ for more youthful days. The God of Small Things mirrors this yearning through the non-linear structure and the seamless combination of different time frames, juxtaposing a description of eighty-three-year-old Baby Kochamma with an ‘attractive young girl’ with the ‘blazing coal-black eyes’ or youthfulness attempting to seduce a priest. Through this fragmented structure, Roy pinpoints characters’ desires to regress to youth, as well as the way in which more favourable memories tend to drift back into a person’s present consciousness. This is also achieved in Hardy’s poetry. In The Going, the poet uses nature as a metaphor to recall Emma in younger days, describing her as the ‘swan-necked one who rode’ in this image of energetic youthfulness, in comparison to the lethargic, drawn-out sounds of ‘darkening dankness/yawning blankness.’ More specifically, his word-choice is significant: ‘swan-necked’ portraying the graceful litheness of a young woman in comparison to the ‘bending boughs’, symbol of an aged figure. ‘Swan’ is also significant because of its connotations to having a long life, which infuses the verse with a quiet sense of tragedy and bitterness. Hardy also attempts to recall a more youthful Emma in ‘The Voice’. His sense of her agedness by Time and its ability to end her life is even more heightened here; ‘now you are not as you were’, says her phantom, who has reverted to an earlier version of Emma, from ‘at first, when our day was fair’.

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