Veronica

The roles of civilisation and barbarism in Medea

Civilisation is defined as “the stage of human social development and organisation which is considered advanced”. Barbarism is the “absence of culture and civilisation” or “extreme cruelty or brutality”. Medea, both the play and the novel, explore the roles of civilisation and barbarism and how they influence the titular character’s desperate actions.

At the beginning of the novel, Medea recollects her journey to Corinth on the Argo as being the first time she heard the Colchians described as “refugees”. Upon hearing the Colchians who left with her called this she reflects “I felt a pain in my heart. I gave up certain sensitivities around that time” (Wolf 32). It was at that moment, it seems, that she realised she would never be one of the “civilised people” in the minds of the Greeks; she would forever be a barbarian, an outsider. After Medea murdered her children, Jason cries “Tigress, not woman, beast of wilder breath than Skylla shrieking o’er the Tuscan sea.” (Euripides, 43). In this section, Jason compares Medea to a tigress, which is a fearsome creature, and also to Scylla, a beast which originated in Greek mythology. Scylla, who lived in a narrow channel of water, was a beautiful nymph who was transformed into a terrible monster. Jason is insinuating that Medea’s barbarian, sub-human origins are the cause of her deeds.

Besides being a “barbarian”, Medea’s isolation from society is exacerbated by the fact that she defied the Greek social standards of how a woman was expected to behave. Near the end of the play, Jason exclaims:

“Not one of all the maids of Greece, not one,

Had dreamed of; whom I spurned, and for mine own

Chose thee, a bride of hate to me and death…” (Euripides, 43)

The passage is a reaction to Medea having killed her children, an event which occurs late in the play. The implication that Medea is morally inferior, or different, from Corinthian women due to her barbarian origins is present throughout the entire work. In ancient Greek society, women were expected to be passive and submissive. A woman was unable to vote, own land, or inherit. Her purpose was to bear and raise her children. Medea’s behaviour was outrageously different from civilised standards. She walked around the streets with her hair down, had friends independent from those of her husband, and was a wise woman, which to the Greeks was akin to being a witch. Her reputation of independence caused most of the population of Corinth to fear and despise her. Even her own people who travelled with her from Colchis were influenced by the Corinthians, the “civilised folk”, and became hostile towards her. It is also possible that they blamed her for bringing them from their homeland to the cruel place where they were unwanted and disliked.

In the play, Medea’s actions were erratic and insane, even by today’s standards. In the novel, she seemed oblivious as to the effect her behaviour had on the Greeks, but in the play, she was practically hysterical, driven mad with grief. She spoke about harming herself, Jason, and others around her. In the very first passage in the play, the nurse expressed her concern:

“Will she creep alone to die

Bleeding in that old room, where still is laid

Lord Jason’s bed? She hath for that a blade

Made keen. Or slay the bridegroom and the king…” (Euripides, 1)

Where in the novel, the reader would have disregarded those claims as slander against Medea, in the play, there are serious grounds for concern. She acted as the nurse feared, though she turned her wrath towards Glauce and her children, rather than Jason and King Creon. She lives up to the Corinthians’ expectations of a barbarian through her actions in the play. Though she is partly culpable for her deeds, much of the responsibility lies also with Jason, Creon, and the other Corinthians. Medea fell in love with Jason, abandoned her family and homeland for him, only to find herself abandoned for an opportunity at ascending to the throne. That harsh introduction to “civilised life”, along with the distrust and suspicion with which she was treated caused her to become enraged at Corinthian society as a whole.

In both versions of Medea, the line between civilisation and barbarism is not nearly as distinctive as the definitions of the words themselves. There were elements of barbarism in the kingdom of Corinth, among its own people, as well as amongst the Colchians who resided there. The deeds of the poor Medea were influenced greatly by the “civilised” Jason, as well as her own inherent barbarian behaviour.

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Works cited

Euripides. The Medea. Euripides I. Tr. Rex Warner. Edd. David Grene and Richmond Lattimore. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1955.

Wolf, Christa. Medea: a modern retelling. Tr. John Cullen. New York: Doubleday Publishing Group, 1998.

 

George Bernard Shaw Passage Analysis

The passage lacks the emotions and language that are expected to be found in the bereaved. Instead of mourning in the usual sense, the writer finds humour in the cremation process as a way to stay close to his mother.

While the passage lacks emotional language, a deep love for the writer’s mother can be inferred through the language he uses. The writer portrays his love of his mother through a pet name, “Mama” (17), and by the fact that he imagines her there with him, laughing, watching the cremation take place. The writer remembers his mother as “wasted little figure with the wonderful face” (15). The reader can infer that his mother was quite ill before her death, so the writer sees her passing as an end to her suffering. The language is more similar to an amusing story about a loved one than a passage about the death of a close relative. This is significant because it shows the writer’s love for his mother. He speaks about her as if she were still alive, and indeed imagines her there with him.

The humorous language throughout appears at first to be quite distasteful, but as the passage progresses, it becomes an effective way of mourning and of relaying the events to the reader. When the writer imagines his mother watching the cremation, laughing and making jokes, it becomes clear that his mother had a dark sense of humour that lasted up to and after her death. The writer uses the humour as a way of preserving her. The curiosity of the writer in learning what the cremation process looked like could have been another way to be close to his mother after death. He described the process as “wonderful” (5), and claims that “Mama would have enjoyed it enormously” (17), so it seems for him to be a form of catharsis, and as a way to have another moment in the spirit of his mother.

The writer’s reaction to his mother’s passing and to the cremation are strange and endearing at once. The humour and curiosity in the text are not ones widely expressed after a relative’s death.

Hamlet can be described as a fully-human character

In this passage from Hamlet (1.2.132-162), Shakespeare uses strong language and figures of speech to portray the titular character as a devastated, anguished young man, and a fully-human character.

Hamlet’s devastation is clearly seen in the very beginning of the passage in the lines, “O that this too too solid flesh would melt, / Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew! / Or that the Everlasting had not fix’d / His canon ’gainst self-slaughter!” (134-135). The repetition of “too too” emphasizes his frustration at his being unable to end the suffering resulting from his father’s death and the lack of decency that humanity inflicts upon him. He wishes that he could cease to exist, without killing himself, and committing a mortal sin. This is a theme that repeats itself throughout the play, notably in another soliloquy, where he wonders whether it would be better “to be or not to be” (3.1.64). While the death of his father is a tragedy, Hamlet seems disproportionately affected, mourning for an extended period of time, and wallowing in self-pity.

Hamlet describes the world as an “unweeded garden”, in which “things rank and gross in nature / Possess it merely” (1.2.138, 139). By this, he seems to mean that everything in the world is devastating, that there is nothing but the foul deeds of petty people, particularly his mother and his uncle. He shows his frustration with his mother in the line “Frailty, thy name is woman!” (1.2.149). He thinks of her marriage to his uncle as an incestuous affair, his disapproval exacerbated by the short interval of time between his father’s death and his mother’s marriage, and the fact that his father and his uncle could not be more dissimilar. Hamlet says “My father’s brother; but no more like my father / Than I to Hercules”, likening himself to Hercules to emphasize the difference.

The emotions Hamlet expresses — frustration, grief, devastation — and despite the fact that they are greatly exaggerated by his self-pity, are ones that make him a very human character.

Twelfth Night Article: Malvolio’s Madness

News has come that Malvolio, Puritan steward to the Countess Olivia, bared himself to his mistress this morn in the most knavish manner, adorned in garish yellow stockings done in the cross-gartered style and with a devilish counterfeit of a grin playing upon his face. He went to the Countess’ side in an unbecoming way, making errant advances to her person. He was halted by Maria, a maidservant of the Countess, who cried for the guards. The guards presently carried Malvolio perforce to a cell where he will pose no threat to the Countess Olivia, nor to any other person.

This bizarre occurrence took place this morn while the Puritan was out walking. He left for the grounds in his usual sad and dour mood, only to return to the estate wanting for sanity and railing at Sir Toby Belch and his companions. He later emerged from his chambers having donned hideous yellow stockings.

The madman was visited in his prison by a mysterious clergyman by the name of Topaz, who was sent to Malvolio’s side to chide and console him and to perchance lend physic and aid to his recovery. These attempts were in vain, as the man is yet to return to the world of the sane.

Things Fall Apart: Whether or Not it is of Literary Merit

      The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a novel of true literary merit. Its use of language, the personal way it describes the ruin of an entire culture, and the realism of its characters make it a valuable book to read. In this essay, the writer will discuss why this is so.

      The language used in the book is full of imagery, symbols, and hidden meanings. The author uses language that is difficult to understand and even more difficult from which to find meaning. This makes understanding the novel after the first read[ing] a difficult task. The quote, “Among the Ibo, the art of conversation is regarded very highly, and proverbs are the palm-oil with which words are eaten,” (Chapter 1) illustrates that the language used by both the author and by the characters in this book are significant. The formal rhetoric used in this conversation provides further insight into the misunderstanding between the Igbo and the Europeans, as the Igbo are actually an advanced society with complex customs, and not the primitive life forms the Europeans view them as. The use of a metaphor, comparing food with words, is significant because it shows that the Igbo place the same value on food, which sustains life, as they do on words and language.

      This novel depicts an entire culture’s collapse in a very personal way, through the eyes of a highly-regarded warrior. The fall of the Igbo at the hands of the Christian missionaries and foreign governments parallels Okonkwo’s fall from grace.[Excellent!] The quote, “He had already chosen the title of the book, after much thought: The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger,” (Chapter 25) which concludes the book, satirises the ideas of imperialism and ethnography. The notion of “pacification” is offensive in that it reduces the culture to no more than fussy children who require calming, and the term “primitive” reflects the District Commissioner’s ignorance of the Igbo people and their highly complex way of life.

      The characters in this book are very realistic, in that they have both many positive attributes and many flaws. The realism of the characters adds to the emotional depth of the story and makes the weight of their suffering even greater. For example, Okonkwo is a powerful man and a great warrior and is regarded highly by the people of his village, though he is often violent to his wives and children. This is out of fear of behaving like his father, who was called “agbala,” the word for a man with no titles, and a term meaning “woman” (Chapter 2). This fear and resentment are clear in the quote, “And he did pounce on people quite often. He had a slight stammer and whenever he was angry and could not get his words out quickly enough, he would use his fists. He had no patience with unsuccessful men. He had no patience with his father.” (Chapter 1). While a person can be revered and respected, they can also stoop to commit a very low act, as seen in Okonkwo’s abuse of his family his exile, and his eventual suicide.

      Things Fall Apart is a novel worth reading for the complexity of the language used by the author, the intensity of the characters, and their struggle to remain true to their culture and ancestors in the face of strong adversaries. It depicts history in a very personal way, allowing the reader a more personal view of the collapse of Igbo society.

Environment Poetry

Look here, at this pristine wilderness; see
twisted masses of ancient trees,
whispering waves brushing rocky shores,
bear cubs seeking the comfort of their mother,
the fearless predator seeking wary prey.

Look here, at this dazed civilization; observe
plumes of dark smoke,
towers blocking the sun,
people rushing by,
oblivious of the world.

Look here, at this desolate wasteland; witness
no living thing in sight,
dry soil unfit for life,
And it’s all our fault.

The Red Room

It started raining as soon as I left. By the time I’d reached the point of no return, it was pouring. The roads were flooding, and there was no way I could keep going. I pulled out my phone and searched for the nearest hotel. There was one about twenty minutes away, and one about ten minutes out. The farther one was nicer, with better reviews. The nearer one was a dingy motel, like the ones in the movies where the sketchy characters spend their time. I was seriously considering going further, but something about the motel was drawing me to it.

I drove to the motel, and was surprised to see the parking lot almost full. I parked as close as I could to the entrance, grabbed my bags out of the trunk, and ran as fast as I could to the door. I entered, was hit with the smell of sweat and stale cigarettes, and within seconds, I’d created a puddle on the floor. I shuffled up to the front desk, and asked for a room.

“You’re a lucky man, we only have the one left,” the woman said, but as she reached for the key, I noticed another one on the shelf beside it.

“What’s that key for, there?” My curiosity could never be quenched. It’s one of my more problematic weaknesses.

“That’s really none of your concern, young man,” she said, growing strangely hostile.

I took the key she offered me, paid for two nights, and, as curiosity got the better of me, I looked at the number on the key left on the shelf. There was something strange about it, I could just feel it. The number read ‘42’. I went up to my room, number ‘38’, dragging my bags behind me. I got there, dropped my bags on the floor, and produced the key. Upon unlocking the door and turning on the lights, a family of cockroaches scurried out the door. I grimaced, and brought my heel down on the slowest one. I winced at the smell, the stale cigarette odour had obviously originated from this room. I dumped my bags on the overstuffed couch, and turned to the bed. It was late, and I was tired, but seeing it, Predictably, I lost the urge to sleep. I wandered sleepily into the hallway, and down three doors to ‘42’. I wanted to knock, but decided against it. I looked through the keyhole and saw the strangest thing. The room was empty, except for a woman sitting in the corner. She had her back facing away from the door, but I could see that she had long black hair and impossibly pale skin. I tried to look around more, but the limited view of the keyhole made that difficult. I felt my eyelids drooping, and my body relaxing, and decided that no matter how grimy the bed was, I couldn’t go a night without sleep.

I woke up late, and had to glance at my watch to tell the time, because the sun wasn’t out. It was still raining, but not as much as before. I went into the hallway, about to go down the stairs, but I felt something in room ‘42’ pulling me to it. I bent down, and peered through the keyhole. This time, instead of seeing a room, I saw red. Someone must have seen me spying and draped a towel over the door. I cursed under my breath, and continued downstairs, my curiosity again getting the better of me. I asked the woman behind the desk about the room.

She looked annoyed, then she sighed, her demeanour softening. “You’re obviously a curious man, and I can see that the only way to get you to stop bothering me is to tell you. A few years ago, a man and his wife stayed here. They checked in, but only the man checked out. I went upstairs to check, and found her body. She’d been beaten to death, brutally murdered. Room ‘42’ was where it happened, so we don’t let it to guests anymore.”

I still wasn’t satisfied. “What did she look like?” I had a feeling I knew the answer.

“I remember three things… She had long black hair… Impossibly pale skin…”

“What was the third thing?” I asked impatiently.

“Oh, yes, I forgot. And she had red eyes.”

Conflict Free Write

I ran through the woods, dodging every branch, tree and log that rose up out of the fog ahead of me. I knew it was behind me, chasing me down, maybe even gaining on me. But it didn’t matter, I didn’t care. All I knew was that I had to keep running. That my life depended on it. That everything I was, everything I knew would be lost if it caught me. So I ran.

Only I wasn’t running, I was flying. Falling might be a more accurate term. I had tripped over a tree root, and now I was falling. I landed, hard, on the ground, narrowly missing slamming my head on a rock protruding from the ground. I heaved myself to my feet, and stumbled, but I kept running. As I ran, I thought about what had happened, how I had gotten here, to this place. But I couldn’t remember. It refused to come to me, refused to appear. I almost laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation. I was fleeing through the woods, running from something I couldn’t possibly put into words, and I couldn’t recall how I got there.

My legs were getting tired, my breathing fast and hard. I had to rest, but what would I do, what could I do if it caught up with me? I decided I would think about it when it happened–if it happened. I had to keep running, but I couldn’t. So I slowed down, and threw myself against a tree, crouching, panting, trying to catch my breath. Trying to recover, so if I heard a snap of twigs behind me, I might have another chance at getting away. All I could do now was wait. Wait for my breath to become slow and controlled, or wait for the snap I surprisingly wasn’t dreading.

I felt it before I heard it. The presence of the thing. It brushed up against a bush, causing it to rustle. My heart quickened, my breathing becoming faster, as I prepared to take off, to keep fleeing.

So I ran.

Antz Creative Writing

A nursery ant sat on a seat, and looked down fondly upon the small insects in her charge. She called them over, and they all rushed to be the first to make it to the rug, climbing over each other, just to be sitting in the front. Once the little ones calmed down, the ant pulled out an old moth-eaten book, and dropped it in her lap. The book fell, made a loud clunk, and erupted in a cloud of dust. The young ants coughed and wheezed until the dust settled. The nursery ant recovered from her coughing fit, and opened the book.

She told the little ones, “This is the tale of our Creator. Listen closely, for all the values and wisdom of our colony are hidden within these pages.”

And with that, she began, “A very long time ago, there was an ant, whose name has been lost in time. The ant had a dream, a vision of a colony greater than any other, one who would only grow stronger in time, and be able to overcome anything that it came upon. He set out from his own colony to fulfill what he believed to be is destiny.

“He began by digging. Digging a hole as big as a single ant could. He dug and he dug, every day, from when the sun rose in the morning to long after it set. One day, a small group of ants looking for a change of scenery. They came upon a small hole in the ground, and, curious, they ventured inside, where they found a lonely ant, muttering to himself, while busily excavating rubble. They travellers greeted him, and spoke with him for many hours. By the end of their talk, they were in awe of this incredibly determined insect. So awed, that they decided to settle down in the new-found colony, and help the ant create his dream, the dream they now shared.

“The colony began to grow and grow, and the ant was dubbed the Creator for his work and dedication to his vision, and making it into a reality. He ruled alongside the queen for many years, until he fell sick. The doctors kept him alive for many months, until it became clear the old ant was not going to improve. His friends gave him news and stories of the day-to-day happenings. Eventually he could not take it anymore. So much had changed since he’d fallen ill, and he wanted to see the ever-evolving colony one last time before he passed.

“His dying wish, of course, could not be denied, so he was placed gently on a cot made of the finest silkworm thread, and was wheeled out to see the home he had created for so many. As the cot got further and further away from the Creator’s death bed, the old ant’s eyes grew and grew.

“The ceilings were as tall as a hundred ants standing on top of each other, and there were paths crossing one another almost to the very top, some suspended in mid-air. There were lights everywhere, their sources almost invisible from the ground. Ants were everywhere, digging, building, marching, walking, everyone doing everything they could to make the colony a better place. Along the walls were signs and posters covered in colourful drawings and messages. These were things he could only have dreamed of when he first left his home to create a new one. It was so overwhelming that he had to do everything in his power to stop himself from breaking down into tears of awe and joy. It was hours until he was done viewing.

“He and his escort returned to the deathbed. The Creator soaked in his creation for the last time, before entering the dimly-lit room. He dreamt about it that night, his vision that had been turned into a reality by so much hard work and dedication. He smiled in his sleep, and slipped away.

“That is the tale of the Creator. Listen and heed it, for it reminds us of what we all should aspire to be. That is, we should all strive to be great.”

The Fountain of Youth

 

It was a dark night at sea. The waves were pounding the fishing boat, making it sway under the two mens’ bare feet.

“Heave!” cried one of the men, the older one with the gray beard.

The men pulled their net out of the seething water and emptied its contents out on the deck. What they found inside was not what they were hoping for. It was the body of an old man dressed in soaked, ragged clothes. His beard was gray–almost white–and clutched in his white, dead hands was a book. The younger man reached out his hand to snatch the book. Just as his hand brushed the cold, dead hands of the old man, the man’s eyes opened and his hand seized his wrist.

~~~

Later that night, His Majesty, Prince Fernando Adolpho Julian Maximo VII, burst through the doors of his royal chambers and came breezing down the hall, his nighttime attire flowing out behind him like the wings of an angel. His presence was overwhelming for the two fishermen, who were used to much more modest folk. They knelt on the ground in front of a human-sized piece of rough, gray cloth.

“Rise,” the Prince Fernando commanded in his most regal voice. The kneeling men obeyed. “What have you brought me?”

The younger man said, “Your Majesty, we caught this man in our fishing net.”

The prince raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow.

The older man elbowed the other man in the ribs, and continued, “Your Majesty, we came upon this man earlier this night. He’s been telling stories of the old Captain Francis von Philipson. He asked to see you.”

The shivering, decrepit man on the floor out the book to the prince with a shaking hand, and murmured quietly so that only the prince would hear said, “La fontana della giovinezza.” With his last breath, he had delivered the message to the prince. His work was done. With a final, shuddering breath, he was laid to rest.

Fernando flipped through the book’s pages, his breath taken away by what he found. It seemed the man had come from Italy. But why would an Italian come all the way to tell him, the prince of Spain, heir to the throne, that the Fountain of Youth had been discovered again? The prince’s eyes narrowed with thought. If he could find the Fountain, the people of Spain could use the Fountain as political  leverage, so the country could stay independent forever. It never once crossed the prince’s mind to use the Fountain for evil. The prince really was a kind-hearted soul, helping out whatever and whoever needed it most.

The prince’s uncle, however, was an evil man, disgusted at what a good person his nephew had become. The king’s spies heard this news, and rushed to their master to tell him. Alvaro Sebastian Esteban Maximo knew that if his son reached the Fountain, he would use the Fountain to help the country in any way he could. The king was ill, and the prince was the heir. If Fernando Adolpho Julian Maximo VII could somehow go missing, Alvaro could convince the people of Spain that he had perished. That would mean he had both the Fountain of Youth, and the throne! He could rule Spain forever! He needed to get to the Fountain before the good prince.

He shouted at his guards, “Ready the ships! We sail at dawn!”

When the sun rose, Fernando Adolpho Julian Maximo VII was standing on the deck of a large galleon, shuffling through the pages of the grubby book once more. On one of the pages was an intricately drawn map. It said that the Fountain of Youth was located at the foot of a mountain outside of Palombe, in India. This was a short distance for the large royal navy fleet the prince would be taking to the foreign country of India. What the prince didn’t know was that a large fishing boat, with Alvaro Sebastian Esteban Maximo aboard it, along with a small army, obscured by the heavy fog, following the fleet’s every movement.

The trip to India was a short and uneventful journey for the fleet. Fernando Adolpho Julian Maximo VII and his crew hiked up the foot of the mountain, scouting for any openings that might lead to the legendary monument. A shout from up the mountain sent all of the prince’s men running. The prince pushed his way to the front of the mob. What he saw was a cave with a tunnel of light illuminating a silver fountain. The Fountain of Youth. Surrounding the Fountain, however, was an army of the king’s men. And standing on the highest part of the fountain was Alvaro Sebastian Esteban Maximo, in all his evil glory, his arms outstretched, welcoming the prince.

“Welcome, my dear nephew, to Spain’s new king, and his most valuable possession. It was very kind of you to join us in our celebration.”

This little villainous speech brought out a loud burst of laughter from the traitorous soldiers. There was a mixed reaction of awe and anger from the king’s army. The prince drew his sword, and motioned for his army to do the same. Alvaro Sebastian Esteban Maximo leapt down from the fountain, and waltzed up to his nephew. He flicked the prince’s sword out of the way with his own. He put an arm around Fernando Adolpho Julian Maximo VII’s back, and led him to the edge of the Fountain.

“My dear nephew, I have plans for this country. Plans that don’t include you or your father, my brother. Plans that will make me king of Spain. And for that to happen, I need you to either disappear or die. So which will it be?”

“Why are you doing this, Uncle? I don’t understand.”

Alvaro Sebastian Esteban Maximo laughed maniacally. “You poor, innocent boy. It’s a shame that you’ll never be the king.”

And with that, he grabbed his nephew’s arm, and pulled the boy through the door at the back of the cave. The prince drew his sword, bravely facing off his uncle. The older man smiled, and drew his own sword. Fernando Adolpho Julian Maximo VII lunged, and his elder parried with an expert flick of his wrist. The king’s brother led his own attack, swiping at the young man’s head with his sword. The prince ducked, swiping at his uncle’s feet. Alvaro Sebastian Esteban Maximo didn’t have time to duck, so his nephew’s sword swiped the base of his shins. The older man fell to his knees, and the prince drove his sword through his uncle’s back. He stumbled back, shocked at what he’d done.

Fernando Adolpho Julian Maximo VI died on his sickbed two days later. Fernando Adolpho Julian Maximo VII was crowned the king of Spain, and ruled for thirty-two years, until he died bravely in battle. The royal bloodline kept the Fountain a secret up to this day.

 

The End

 

Christmas Story

It was Christmas Eve in 1923, and it was cold and snowy. There wasn’t a soul on the streets of Bowler, Wisconsin. Every man, woman, boy and girl was holed up in their home with a fire blazing. And in every house, a feast was being made, and a tree was being decorated. One girl, Helen Montgomery, was not excited about waking up to gifts and holiday cheer. She’d been bad. First, she’d snuck into her older sister’s room and read her diary. Then she snuck out of the house in the middle of the night to play in the rain with her friends. She hadn’t been caught by her parents, but she knew that Santa was watching, and he knew all the bad things she had done.

She walked over to her large rectangular window. The whole town was covered with a thick layer of white, almost as if they were floating in the clouds. Before her very eyes, a sheet of frost covered her window. She leapt back, not knowing what to do. Past the meadow, past her favourite tree, she saw a pillar of smoke. Helen ran outside, ran past the meadow, past her favourite tree, and towards the pillar of smoke. She stopped dead in her tracks. In front of her, battered and bruised, was a small creature in green clothes. It was almost as tall as she, and had pointy ears covered by a green hat. She yelped. The creature looked up at her, and dove behind the nearest tree. Helen composed herself.

She called out to the thing, “Hello? My name is Helen. Don’t be afraid.”

The creature stuck its head out from behind the tree. “Helen, hmm? You’re a naughty girl, you know.”

Helen hung her head. “I know. I don’t mean to be naughty, but I can’t help it.”

The creature stuck its head out once again. “Well, nice to meet you, Helen. My name is Clyde. I’m an elf.”

Helen almost burst out laughing, but managed to stop herself. “An elf, you say? Like Santa’s elf?”

“Why yes, Helen, just like Santa’s elf. I am Santa’s elf. One of them, at least.”

Helen was more than a little confused, now. “If you’re one of Santa’s elves, then what are you doing in Boulder?”

Now it was Clyde’s turn to be ashamed. “Well, you see, Santa and I were on our way to start giving presents to all the good little boys and girls, when I realised I’d forgotten to fully check the sleigh’s engine. Next thing I know, the sleigh was hurtling out of the sky, towards this lovely little town.”

Helen was alarmed. “Is Santa okay? Do you need help? Is there anything I can do?”

Clyde looked surprised, but a smile slowly spread over his face. “Well, there might be something you can do. Come with me.”

Helen followed him for some distance, when they came upon the fattest man Helen had ever seen. He was as wide as he was tall, and wore a huge red and white jacket. He turned to face them. On his face was a huge, fluffy, white beard.

“Ho ho ho,” the fat man laughed.

Helen’s jaw dropped. “It’s Santa Claus!” she gasped, not able to contain her excitement.

“What are you doing here, child?” asked Santa.

“I saw the smoke all the way from my home, and came to see what it was. Clyde told me you needed help. Is there anything I can do to help?” Helen asked, eager to help the legendary Santa Claus.

“Well, now that you mention it… The sleigh appears to be in a bit of distress, you see. The engine is having trouble, and the reindeer are hungry.”

“What’s wrong with the engine?”

It was Clyde’s turn to answer, now. “The fuel ran out as we were crossing over the Atlantic. We managed to make it all the way over here.”

“What does the sleigh run on?” Helen asked, thinking it was standard fuel.

“It runs on candy canes, and the happiness of children. Plenty of children are happy, but we seem to have run out of candy canes.”

Helen was confused at this. How could an automobile run on sugar and happiness? Still, she answered, “I can get you lots of candy canes.”

Santa put on a puppy face. “Would you be a dear, and also fetch a bag of carrots, as well?”

Helen nodded, and ran off to get what Santa needed. She ran all the way to her home in the centre of the town. She ran into the kitchen without taking off her shoes. She found a bag of carrots in the refrigerator, but there were no candy canes anywhere to be seen. She went to her room, and smashed her piggy bank. She took the money and the carrots to the nearby general store. Once she’d bought out almost the store’s entire supply of candy canes, she ran out of the store and back to where she had met Santa Claus. He and Clyde were talking quietly, occasionally glancing nervously to a small clearing. Helen walked carefully over to Santa, handed him the carrots and candy canes, and suddenly became aware of the strange sounds coming from the clearing.

She whispered to the jolly fat man, “Are those what I think they are?”

He grinned, and led the way to the other side of the clearing. Here, Helen saw the most extraordinary thing she’d ever seen in her short life. There was a huge, elegant sleigh, painted in the most exquisite greens and reds, and covered in jingling bells. The strangest things about the sleigh were the nine moose-like creatures nuzzling through the snow, looking for food. Santa walked confidently up to the biggest of the reindeer. He turned to Helen.

“This is Rudolph,” he said, stroking the reindeer’s glowing the red nose. “Come feed him. Don’t be shy.”

Helen cautiously walked up to the large animal, holding a carrot out in front of her like her life depended on it. Rudolph sensed her fear, and moved slowly, as not to startle the little girl. He stretched his neck towards her, and carefully grabbed the carrot out of her hand. Helen laughed as he crunched on the orange vegetable.

She then turned to Santa, and said, “I expect you’ll be off, then? You’ve got everything you need.”

He nodded and smiled, “Thank you, Helen. You saved Christmas. You are a brave child.”

Helen beamed with the praise, as Clyde hitched the reindeer up to the sleigh. Santa Claus hauled himself up to sit on the seat. Clyde followed him up. Santa clapped twice, and the reindeer took off. Helen waved at the magical sleigh until it faded into the distance. As she stared at the sky, she realised that the sun was about to rise. It was Christmas day! Helen walked slowly walked back to her house, as the sun rose behind her. She opened the door, and was greeted with the scent of gingerbread and mint. She turned to the tree, and almost tripped over a pile of brightly wrapped presents.

Helen’s mother stuck her head out of the kitchen and said, “Helen, you must have been a very good girl this year. Look at all your presents! Merry Christmas!”

The End

Over the Hedge vs Blackberrying

Life is definitely not easy, but we learn its values in a variety of ways. Despite their obvious differences, there are many differences between the poem Blackberrying, and the animation Over the Hedge.

The similarities in the theme include the main character in Over the Hedge and the speaker in Blackberrying are both learning about life, and how to get through it. Some differences are the fact that the poem deals with the theme of despair in life, while the film addresses realising the important values in life.

There aren’t any similarities that I could find in the style, but the some differences are that one is a poem and one is a movie, while the other one is a film. Also, the style of the presentation of the film is more light-hearted and humorous.

Both Blackberrying and Over the Hedge have sad parts about them, although the tone of Blackberrying is much darker that the tone of Over the Hedge.

In Blackberrying, there are any interesting and descriptive words than in Over the Hedge, which is a kids’ film.

The poem is a metaphor about the speaker’s life. The blackberry alley is a symbol of her isolation and depression. Also, the film is a metaphor for the values in life. RJ needs to learn that there are more important things in his life than his own well-being.

Both RJ and the speaker in Blackberrying are both das and depressed. In the film, you find out that RJ doesn’t have a family. The overall theme of Blackberrying is really dark, and the overall theme of Over the Hedge is happy.

Both Blackberrying and Over the Hedge have nature imagery. In Over the Hedge, the imagery is very positive and colourful. Even Stella, the skunk is beautiful! In Blackberrying, however, the imagery is negative and dark. For example, when she says the birds are pieces of burnt paper, or when she talks about the blackberries down a dark alley.