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Final thoughts on Julius Caesar

26 Apr

Juliue Caesar is one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays about one of history’s greatest character. It’s a text rich in history, craftmanship, and an incisive exploration of ideals and the reality, love and loyalty, politics and power. For all its tragic elements, some commentators argue that Julius Caesar is not a true tragedy in the pure, dramatic sense of the word because it does not conform to the ‘classical’ tragic pattern (read Pg 324 of your book for an idea of what the ‘classical’ tragic pattern means) The fact that Caesar dies midway through the play and remains missing in action except later as the archetypal ghost leaves one wondering: Who, really, is the tragic hero in the play? Julius Caesar is ostensibly a key protagonist in the play, and the title obviously bears this fact well. If you were Shakespeare and were given a chance to name the play, what title might you accord it?

Before you consign your book to the storeroom or worse still, trashbin (i sure hope not!), I’d like you to think through these questions, and ponder over what you have learnt in the past 2 months of “julius-caesaring”. You might want to at this point revisit the “Introduction to Julius Caesar” by William and Babara Rosen which I printed for you previously, as a nice (ironically) closure to your study. Then take some time and think about this:

What does the play mean to you, personally? (I hope the answer isn’t “well, just another literature text”.) And if there’s one thing you take away from the play, what might that be?

Happy thinking and happy writing.

On Democracy

14 Feb

Democracy has long been seen as one of the ultimate ideals that modern civilizations strive to create and preserve. Translated from its Greek equivalent it means “rule by the people”, suggesting a system of governance that recognizes the right of all members of society to influence political decisions, either directly or indirectly. This imply extensive representation and inclusiveness so that as many people and views as possible can be accommodated and fed into the functioning of a fair and just society. In Abraham Lincoln’s words, it is “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Democracy as a process is characterized by freedom of all individuals and groups to influence the course of government action, which explains why freedom of speech is such an important bulwark against demagogues who lay claims on gospel truths and bigotry. The government is not appointed by divine right nor rules of inheritance, but by the free will of individuals and groups who elect officials and representatives through a democratically constituted electorate. Ideally such a political system is able to respond to effective demands of people and safeguard the interests of the majority.

But democracy is no stranger to criticisms. Aristotle once described ” democracy” as “mobocracy”  or rule of the rabble or mob. Such a view is reinforced by Mencken who sees democracy as no more than the rule of the “incompetent, prejudiced and easily deceived mob” and George Orwell who famously declared that “democracy is the right of some people to say what others do not want to hear”.

Now here’re the questions I want you to consider in your writers’ briefs:

  • To what extent do you think that the criticisms made by detractors of democracy (see above) are valid?
  • In reality a 2/3 majority is far from a perfect ‘consensus’ (in which everyone agrees). What happens to the interests of the minority? Might democracy be ‘tyranny of the majority’ at the end of the day?
  • Why might it be important to have a strong opposition party in parliament?

Your writers’ brief can be a reflection of what you have learnt in class, or a discussion of the above prompts, or both.

Looking forward to reading your stuff! 🙂

Lesson Reflections: What makes a good/bad leader?

24 Jan

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