Pressing Loose Pigments

Hey guys, sorry this is so late, going back to school was pretty hectic.  Today I wanted to show you an easy tutorial on how to press loose pigments.  As I mentioned previously  in my Glamour Doll Eyes review pressing eye shadows is often more convenient than carrying around jars of loose powder.  So without further ado let’s get into the tutorial.

Ingredients/ Materials

  • Loose pigment eyeshadow
  • Fractionated coconut oil
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • coin
  • paper towels
  • eyeshadow pan
  • toothpick/stirring stick

Step 1

Add two drops of coconut oil to the powder pigment and flood with alcohol til you get a paste the consistency of pancake batter.

Step 2

Carefully pour into prepared eyeshadow pan.  Make sure to sanitize the eyeshadow pan before this using the rubbing alcohol.

a little messy but it’s in there

Step 3

Leave the pan out for about 30 minutes until the excess alcohol evaporates.  The preferred texture should be about a wet sand consistency. Unfortunately I don’t think I have a pic of this stage.

Step 4

Press using the coin and the paper towel until all the extra alcohol is out.  My pigment had ultramarine blue in it which is why it stained the paper towel but if the shadow doesn’t contain this pigment, there should be very little transfer of pigment.  Lather, rinse, repeat if necessary.


Step 5

Remove the coin and paper towel carefully and wait about a day before you swatch your new eyeshadow.  Congrats, you did it !


Depending on how many eyeshadows you press, you can store these in a Z-palette or make a DIY palette.  I made the ones below with cardboard and foam.  The cool thing about DIY-ing it is that it’s absolutely customizable.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.  Comment down below if you want more tutorials like this and tag me on insta @___pyrotechnics if you attempt it.  See you in the next post!

Lotus Pure Eyeshadow Review

Hi guys, I’m back to reviewing stuff and this time I’m gonna follow up with short tutorials on two eye looks I created with the palettes.  Hope you all enjoy!


So I did buy two of these palettes however I kinda deconstructed one to put the pans into a larger palette with my GDE shadows.  As you can see i attempted to do the same with this palette but it didn’t work out so this will be our pretty photogenic palette.

I bought these palettes off of for $17.99 each and they were prime eligible.  The one pictured is called “Seduction” and the other one that i destroyed is called “Morning Mist”.  Seduction has purply-brown pink colours good for a smoky eye while Morning Mist has more natural colours plus a gorgeous gold shimmer.  I shall insert pics below.

You can probably tell that my depotting adventure was not very successful from the pic of the pink eyeshadow that had been brutally massacred.  Anyway on with the review xD!

The eyeshadows come in this sleek reflective compact with a really nice mirror.  The only drawback is that it’s really easy to smudge and fingerprint.  Overall sturdy and compact packaging that protects the eyeshadow while still being attractive.

The formula of these is pretty soft especially the matte orange and pink in Morning Mist. They were almost a little powdery, but quite pigmented and easy to blend.  The Morning Mist palette was the more pigmented one which i found weird since they’re the same brand of eyeshadow.  Seduction had a different texture, being harder and less pigmented that the Morning Mist shadows.  There are two matte/semi matte colours in each palette; in MM, the pink and orange and in Seduction the two dark purples.  The other two are shimmery, that is, the gold and goldish brown in MM and the cream and pink shimmers in Seduction.  Versatile colours that are well matched so you can create a number of looks with one palette. HOWEVER the shimmery pink in Seduction was a bit disappointing because it was so hard and had little colour payoff.  Finger swatches below will show you what I mean.

The lightest shade doesn’t look very pigmented because it’s close to my skin colour so it kinda blends in.  It works well as an inner-corner highlight.  I like that they included two purples, one more cool toned and another warm toned purple.  These work nicely for a subtle smoky eye as a nice alternative to black eyeshadow.

As you can tell the pink shimmer from Seduction is really not pigmented.  But just look at that gold though omg.  It’s lit.  These shadows also don’t have any fall out, except for the gold but that’s to be expected from a glitter type shadow.  I was really impressed with the shimmers in these palettes because the shimmer is very subtle not like GDE which has large glitter particles that literally get everywhere, even if you press them.  Overall V. impressed with these palettes, mainly because I like the colours and the lack of fallout. the pigmentation however could use some work.

Ingredients (from Lotus Pure website)

  • Mica (CI 77019), Silica (Amorphous), Boron Nitride, Buriti Oil, Zinc Stearate, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide – 7, Black Tea (Kombuchka), Origanum Vulgare Leaf Extract*, Thymus Vulgaris (Thyme) Extract*, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract*, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Extract* Hydrastis Canadensis (Golden Seal) Root Extract*, May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77499), (CI 77491), (CI 77492), Ultramarines (CI 77007). *OrganicBuy it here:

Glamour Doll Eyes Review

So recently, last month I discovered an indie makeup brand called Glamour Doll Eyes that specializes in mineral eyeshadow. I ordered the sample jars and baggies in a grab bag so as to get a decent range of colours to experiment with. In this post I will be reviewing the eyeshadows. Hope you find this review helpful!

The grab bags I got included 5 sample jars, 5 sample baggies and a free full-sized product since my order total was over $10.  All the shades I received were very shimmery with a couple of duochrome shadows.

The shadows that came in the grab bag plus the “get with purchase” or GWP; From the top, to the right: Grayson (June 2016 GWP), Fields of Wire, Galalxy Beyond Dreams, Outtie 5000, Radley Prep and Charming Society

Grayson was June’s GWP, a grayish purple tone shimmer.  The colour of the GWP changes every month but you can  buy the past GWPs on the site.  Below are swatches on my bare arm, without primer.

From left to right: Charming Society, Radley Prep, Outtie 5000, Fields of Wire, Galaxy Beyond Dreams, Grayson.

As you can see the colours are very shimmery and nicely pigmented even without a primer.  Being loose pigments however, there is a considerable amount of fallout, so I would recommend doing your eye makeup first if you plan to use these shadows.  There is a decent amount of product in the sample jars but they do not have a sifter, so getting product onto a brush can get tricky.

The sample baggies are a little bit harder to manoeuvre so I decided to press the loose shadow into pans.  Since this was the first time I had pressed eyeshadow, I was nervous about whether the original pigmentation would remain, but fortunately everything turned out fine.

Pressing the pigments definitely reduced the fallout without decreasing the pigmentation, and made it much easier to apply them.  Below are arm swatches without primer.

From left: Not Your Secret, Tattooed Remix, The New Girl, Lost Horizons and Blend x3

Now for a brief overview of the colour selection; in general I was impressed with the variety I received in both my grab bags, 10/10 would buy again.  I personally liked the shimmery/glittery eyeshadow but if your eyelids are wrinkled you may prefer a more matte shadow.  GDE does make matte shades, and I think you can request at least one matte shadow to be included in your grab bag.  I liked the fact that both bright and neutral colours were included because i had enough variety to experiment with different looks.  The colour also lasted fairly well on my eyelids (without primer) when I wore the shadows to an event.  they didn’t fade or start to crease.  Despite being very sparkly, the glitter did not irritate my eyes or “scratch” my eyelids.  Overall they are comfortable and attractive to wear.

Colour Guide

Not Your Secret, powder blue shimmer with a slight purple cast

Tattooed Remix,bright blue shimmer

The New Girl, bright lime green shimmer with blue tones

Lost Horizons, bright pink shimmer with a blueish cast

Blend x3, lilac with rose gold undertones

Charming Society,frosty white with pink and blue duochrome

Radley Prep,warm brown shimmer

Outtie 5000,magenta shimmer with blue cast

Fields of Wire,army green with rainbow glitters

Galaxy Beyond Dreams,black with rainbow chunky glitter

Grayson, cool gray/purple duochrome

Pros and cons of loose pigments

Although they are a bit more tricky to use, loose pigments are a lot more versatile than pressed eyeshadow.  You can include the pigment in a gel eyeliner base to make a bright eyeliner, or in a lip balm recipe to tint it.  You can also make cream blush and highlight using the loose pigments in some medium or just use them in powder form.  You can even mix them with clear nail polish to make a custom colour.  However, there are some cons, aside from the from being more difficult to apply.  Fallout is a big problem especially if you get a bit over exuberant in applying it.  To combat this you can use tissue or a shadow shield to catch the fallout and do your eye makeup before your foundation/concealer.  Loose shadow is also easier to spill or knock over especially if you’re slightly clumsy (like me).  It also tends to blow away if you do your makeup in front of a window on a windy day.  Mica particles in eyeshadow are respiratory irritants so this problem is more than just a minor inconvenience, it’s a health hazard.  Fortunately it is relatively easy to press loose pigments and there are so many tutorials for that online. I’ll try to make one as soon as I get more pans.  They are also less travel friendly than pressed eyeshadow since the little jars they come in take up more space than a flat palette of pressed shadows.

Overall Impression

Overall I was very impressed with the eyeshadow but I woud recommend pressing them if you can.  I definitely would reccomend these to a friend and will probably buy more as soon as I can.  Hope you all enjoyed this review.  Leave a like to see more!

DIY: Face Mask for acne


Hi guys, today I bring you a skin care  DIY, in  an attempt to get my skin ready for ball in a couple of weeks.  This tutorial should be pretty easy since it uses only a few simple ingredients that can be found in most kitchens.  Let’s get started!


1 tsp honey

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp brown sugar

juice from 1/4 of a lime/lemon or 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp coffee grounds ( optional)

a container to mix everything in

the ingredients

Step 1

First clean out a jar or other suitable container to mix everything in.  You can use an old jam jar or lotion jar but just make sure its been cleaned and sanitized well.  I like to wash the jar with soap and water and then wipe it with rubbing alcohol for good measure.

clean, sanitized shea butter jar

Step 2

Add all the dry ingredients to the container and mix them well, then pour the honey and lime juice over them and mix well.

Step 3

Put it on your face.  Depending on the consistency of your mixture you can apply this with clean fingers or a brush.  Gently massage the mask onto your face and let it sit for at least 15 minutes.

the finished product should look like this

Step 4

Wash the mask off with warm water and then splash cold water on your face after to close the pores.


Tips& Tricks

  • do this twice a day, once in the morning and once before going to bed
  • Add activated charcoal for an even deeper cleanse
  • apply the mask after washing your face
  • use toner after using the mask
  • stir the mixture with your finger before applying, this tends to settle
  • if you don’t have lime or lemon, use apple cider vinegar

DIY: Custom Nail Polish Colour

So I’m back from the hiatus of CSEC (thank God) with a new post.  If you’re like me (cheap and poor) you probably want some variety in your nail polish colours but don’t have the funds to buy more.  This post will be the solution to your problems.  Let’s get started!

You will need:

  • An old empty nail polish bottle, small or sample sized ones are best
  • two colours of nail polish that mix well
  • clear topcoat (not pictured)
  • small ball bearings/beads (not pictured)
    excuse the stain on the cap of the blue

    For this tutorial, I will be mixing a dark purple (SOPHi by piggy paint in “Incogni-toe”) with bright blue (acquarella in “mahalo”) to make a navy-ish colour.  It helps if the colours are in the same family, not complementary or else you will just get a nasty brownish colour.  Adding white will make a colour pastel and adding black in miniscule quantities will make a darker version of that colour.

Step 1

Make sure your empty bottle has been suitably cleaned and dried.  Mix the colours in small quantities on a piece of paper to make sure you like the combination.

smol swatch

Step 2

Carefully pour the nail polish into the empty bottle in the desired proportions.  Make sure to do this over an area that is easily cleaned (i.e. not your bed).  If the polish is thick you can add a drop or two of clear topcoat to even out the distribution of pigment.  Add a couple of ball bearings or beads to the bottle to help in the mixing process.

As you can see the purple was thicker than the blue and so it was a bit tedious to add to the small bottle.  This is where the clear topcoat comes in.  Carefully add a few drops of topcoat along with the ball bearing/beads.

Step 3

Shake vigorously until all the pigment is blended together and there are no streaks.  Check to see that the colour is what you wanted, and make adjustments as necessary.  If you wanted to add glitter or anything else, do this now.

after le shake

And that’s basically all there is to it.

the finished product next to the original colours

Here’s a side by side comparison of the original colours and the final colour

from the top down: Incogni-toe, my colour and mahalo

I also made a bright coral colour by mixing orange and hot pink.  In three coats its more of an orangey colour but in two the pink shows more.  In the bottle it looks more pink but the picture shows more of the orange tones.  I also mixed this in a bottle of glitter topcoat so you can see the glitter particles in the last picture.

Some helpful tips and tricks:

  • mix your colours in small swatches at first to make sure you like the result
  • use a sample/mini nail polish bottle to mix everything so you don’t have to use that much polish.
  • do not mix water based and solvent based nail polish, they will not blend
  • keep some remover handy in case you make a mess
  • use loose eyeshadow and clear topcoat to make your own colours
  • when adding black, add only small drops at a time to avoid muddying the colour too much
  • be careful not to swap the brushes of each colour, this will ruin the initial colour
  • this is a good way to use up the last of an old polish or improve the texture of a watery/ sheer polish.

Anyway, that’s all for today.  comment, like and follow for more derp DIYs.

P.S if you do this tutorial, post a picture on your instagram and tag me @__pyrotechnics

Simple Updo Tutorial

Hello friends!

Today I’ll be showing you how to do this simple but elegant hairstyle.


You will need: a brush or comb, Bobby pins, hair tie of your hair colour and a sock or bun maker.  If you want, you can stick feathers or any ornaments you want on it afterwards.

Minimal materials maximum fab

Step 1

Brush your hair and part it on the side.


Like this

Then take a small section from the front and divide it into 3 sections with your fingers.

Le derp

Step 2

Start doing a Dutch braid from around your forehead and end it at the base of your neck right above your ear.  If you don’t know how to Dutch braid, you can watch the tutorial below.

It should look like this

Tie the Dutch braid with the hair elastic.

Side ponytail ftw

Step 3

Use the  sock or the bun maker to make a bun with the side ponytail. Secure with Bobby pins.

No one has to know there’s a sock in there

Add feathers, fake flowers or anything else you’d like to decorate the bun with, and that’s it!!! Congratulations, you’re done and looking fabulous.  Use hairspray for extra hold if necessary.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it useful.  Comment below if you want more hair tutorials.

Burt’s Bees lipstick review

I’ve enjoyed using Burt’s Bees regular lip balm for quite some time, so I was excited to discover that they now made lipstick and other tinted lip products. I am a complete scrub when it comes to makeup, but I do try to stick to natural products when I do use it. I had also previously tried their liquid lip gloss, but I can’t seem to find it, so I’ll have to review that another day.

The products I bought were the Burt’s Bees lip crayon, and a lipstick. I bought the crayon in the shade Napa vineyard which is a bright classic red colour with a satin/matte finish. For the lipstick, I got the shade Juniper Water which is a purply magenta colour also with a satin finish. It looks dark in the tube but can be applied in sheer layers which look quite natural and attractive, or thicker and more opaque for a more dramatic dark lip.

Juniper Water


Burt’s Bees lip crayon in Napa Vineyard

Both products have a slight smell, however it is not objectionable. The lipstick has a sweetish fruity/floral smell while the crayon has a more plain/waxy smell. They both glide on quite smoothly, but make sure to use a clear lip balm underneath for smoother application. As I mentioned before, the juniper water colour can be layered and built upon depending on the desired look. The crayon however goes on bright red and opaque. I found that both were pleasantly moisturizing and light, unlike most lipsticks which I find to be too waxy and heavy. They did not dry out my lips or stain them either.

Swatch of Napa Vineyard
Swatch of Juniper Water

As for lasting power, they wear off relatively quickly if you eat or drink, but that wasn’t an issue for me. If you’re the kind of person who needs their makeup to last through the apocalypse, this probably isn’t for you. I would suggest taking the tube along with you if you’re going out to touch up if you’ll be eating or drinking. Without eating or drinking, I’d say it lasted about three hours max.

The packaging of both items was sturdy and attractive, but the lipstick had broken in the tube when I received it. The tip had melted and stuck to the cap and had to be shaken out and manually reattached. I don’t know why or how that happened but it’s more a problem with the shipping/handling than the actual product. Overall no complaints with the packaging itself.

To sum up, I definitely would recommend these lipsticks for anyone who wants a natural alternative to regular lipstick. There is a large variety of shades in both the lip crayons and lipsticks from bold colours to nudes so you’re bound to find something you like. The price is also a big plus, both products are less than $10 US dollars on Amazon and have a sizeable quantity of product in each tube. All in all, I’d see no reason not to try these, except they’re not vegan. Pictures and swatches, along with a link to each product will be posted below.

Lip crayon ingredients:

Ricinus Communis Seed Oil (Castor), Caprylic Capric Triglyceride, Simmondsia Chinensis Seed Oil (Jojoba), Candelilla Cera (Euphorbia Cerifera Wax, Cire De Candelilla), Cera Alba (Beeswax, Cire DAbeille), Cera Camauba (Copemicia Cerifera Wax, Cire De Camauba), Butyrospermum Parkii Butter (Shea), Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Aleurites Moluccana Seed Oil, Olea Europaea Fruit Oil (Olive), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis Leaf Extract (Rosemary), Tocopherol, Lecithin, Silica, Glycine Soja Oil (Soybean), May contain +, – : CI 77891, CI 77019 (Mica), CI 75470 (Carmine), CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499 (Iron Oxides)

Lipstick ingredients:

diheptyl succinate, capryloyl glycerin/sebacic acid copolymer, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, cera alba [beeswax], candelilla cera [euphorbia cerifera (candelilla) wax], behenyl alcohol, oleic/linoleic/linolenic polyglycerides, C12-18 acid triglyceride, lanolin, hydrogenated vegetable oil, cera carnauba [copernicia cerifera (carnauba) wax], moringa oleifera seed oil, rubus idaeus (raspberry) seed.

Buy them here:

Sample Essay on Things Fall Apart


In the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe there is much emphasis placed on religion. It is, however, threatened by the presence of the new missionaries who bring Christianity to the village of Umuofia. The new missionaries oppose their polytheistic religion and convert some of the Ibo to Christianity.  Umuofia’s stability and structure is then threatened by the new white men who have impacted the midst of the villagers.
When the missionaries originally arrived, they were not seen as too much of a threat. They were given land in the Evil Forest, which was seen as fitting as they were considered evil. They began to gain converts, but these were the “efulefu, worthless empty men.” these men were not respected and had no titles or anything to lose by joining the church. The respected men therefore did not see them as threats to their village at this point in time. Even as the church gained more followers, the higher-ranked men were convinced that their powerful gods would rid the village of the Christians and that they would die in the evil forest. There were multiple factors that lead to the success of the missionaries’ endeavors in converting the villagers. These include the missionaries gaining information and knowledge of the village from
the elders as they forced a good relationship with them. Also, they were earning great amounts of money from the developments that the missionaries had made in the village, which would in turn fund the missionary work. Such developments included the trading store which increased prices of palm oil, kernel and other such items which brought in great profits for the village. In addition to this the missionaries were sent into the Evil Forest for a length of time and were expected to die. However they survived the period which in turn, led the villagers to believe that the missionaries’ God was better than
those of the villagers.
The two reverends Mr. Brown and Rev. Smith had very different approaches to converting the Ibo people. Reverend Brown is quite open minded and seeks to have the Christians and heathens live together in harmony. He approaches the villagers with respect for their religion and seeks to understand it rather than simply forcing his beliefs on them. This can be seen in his conversation with Akunna, who explains the traditional gods to him, mentioning Chukwu, the main god who created the
minor gods to help carry out his will. Akunna compares this hierarchy to the Queen who sends her District Commissioner to Nigeria who in turn employs Kotma to help him carry out his work. Similarly, Chukwu cannot do all his work alone so he created the minor gods. Mr. Brown learns a great deal about the clan’s religion through this and therefore concludes that ‘a frontal attack would not succeed.’ Instead of an attack on the villagers, he attempts to convert them through aiding the village in progress. He builds a school and a small hospital. After begging, arguing and prophesying, he finally gets a positive response from the villagers, young and old. Unfortunately, Mr. Brown had to leave due to his deteriorating health, causing Mr. Smith, his replacement to take over.
Mr Smith is quite a contrast to Mr. Brown. Where Mr. Brown was accepting and respectful in his approach to the villagers, Smith is, on the other hand, aggressive and volatile in his approach to converting the villagers. He does not respect the customs of the villagers, and so makes no attempt to understand them and imposes his will
upon them. This can be seen in how he encourages Enoch to be overzealous in opposing the heathens, which his predecessor strongly opposed. Enoch crosses a line when he unmasks an egwugwu, in effect, ‘murdering’ him. This causes the other egwugwu to destroy the church in retaliation, to avenge the ‘death’ of their comrade. In the aftermath, the district commissioner arrives, under the pretense of settling the dispute through discussion. Instead, he arrests the six men who show up to the trial, all
respected men of title. These men are subsequently humiliated and ill-treated in prison, even though they were not involved in the original dispute. This incident demonstrates the heavy handed and aggressive manner in which Mr. Smith deals with his flock and those who oppose them.
In conclusion, the people of Umuofia did not initially respond well to the missionaries’ arrival. However, over time, they began to accept them. This was partly due to the newfound prosperity and progress the missionaries brought to Umuofia with the introduction of the trading post. It was also due to the open-minded and tolerant manner in which Mr Brown approached them and their religion.However this positive atmosphere would be disturbed by the arrival of Mr Smith and his aggressive approach.

CSEC Literature- Notes on Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Okonkwo – Timeline

  • Okonkwo grows up resenting his father’s laziness and devotes all his time to proving his own respectability and masculinity–qualities his father lacks.
  • At age 18, Okonkwo beats a champion wrestler named the Cat.
  • Okonkwo goes to Nwakibie to borrow seed yams and start his own farm. The year is a series of natural disasters but Okonkwo survives and vows that he will survive anything.
  • Okonkwo is given charge of Ikemefuna for three years.
  • During the Week of Peace, Okonkwo commits the crime of beating his wife. This is his first crime against the earth. As punishment, he is told to make a ritual sacrifice, which he does.
  • A few days before the new year, Okonkwo threatens his second wife Ekwefi with a gun.
  • The clan leaders inform Okonkwo that they are going to kill Ikemefuna, his adopted son.  Though it is not required, Okonkwo participates in the murder. Guilt haunts him.
  • When his daughter Ezinma falls sick, Okonkwo frantically makes medicine and does everything in his power to save his favorite child.
  • Okonkwo participates as a masked egwugwu in a series of court-like trials as a judge.
  • Okonkwo follows Chielo the priestess and Ekwefi when the priestess unexpectedly abducts Ezinma. This is the second time we see Okonkwo openly showing compassion and genuine concern for Ezinma.
  • At Ezedu’s funeral, Okonkwo accidentally shoots and kills a boy. For his crime, he is sentenced to seven years exile. This is his second crime against the earth.
  • In Mbanta, Okonkwo is chastised by Uchendu for dishonoring his motherland by acting so depressed about his exile.
  • From Obierika, Okonkwo gets news about the coming of the white men and later hears about Nwoye being among the Christian converts in Umuofia.
  • We flashback to the point when Okonkwo first learned about Nwoye converting to Christianity.
  • Okonkwo hears through the grapevine that Nwoye has been spending time with the Christians.
  • Okonkwo attacks his son and demands to know where he’s been (the answer is with the Christians). Though Uchendu prevents Okonkwo from further harming Nwoye, Okonkwo disowns his son.
  • Okonkwo hosts a feast in Mbanta in gratitude to Uchendu and his family.
  • Upon his return to Umuofia, Okonkwo has a conversation with Obierika about the Christians and Okonkwo despairs over the disunity of the clan.
  • At this point, Okonkwo becomes more passive than he has ever been before, watching and lamenting the coming of the missionaries while unable to do anything.
  • In reaction to Enoch’s crime of unmasking an egwugwu, Okonkwo and the other leaders of Umuofia retaliate by destroying the missionaries’ church. Okonkwo had advised violent action, even to the point of killing the missionaries, though the group only ended up burning down the church.
  • When invited by the District Commissioner to discuss the recent destruction of the church, Okonkwo and five other leaders go to meet the official and are ambushed.
  • In prison, Okonkwo is singled out to be beaten. Upon his release, he vows revenge, even if he is not supported by the clan.
  • During a village conference contemplating war, Okonkwo kills a messenger sent by the District Commissioner.
  • When he sees that the Umuofian people don’t support him, he knows it means they will not go to war. This realization drives him to suicide–his third and final offense against the earth.

Major Conflict

· On one level, the conflict is between the traditional society of Umuofia and the new customs brought by the whites, which are in turn adopted by many of the villagers.
Okonkwo also struggles to be as different from his deceased father as possible. He believes his father to have been weak, effeminate, lazy, ignominious, and poor. Consequently, Okonkwostrives to be strong, masculine, industrious, respected, and wealthy.

Rising Action

· Enoch’s unmasking of an egwugwu, the egwugwu’s burning of the church, and the District Commissioner’s sneaky arrest of Umuofian leaders force the tension between Umuofia and the colonizers to a breaking point.


· Okonkwo’s murder, or uchu, of a court messenger

Falling Action

· The villagers allow the white government’s messengers to escape, and Okonkwo, realizing the weakness of his clan, commits suicide.


· The struggle between tradition and change; varying interpretations of masculinity; language as a sign of cultural difference


·Chi, animal imagery


· The novel is highly symbolic, and it asks to be read in symbolic terms. Two of the
main symbols are the locusts and fire. The locusts symbolize the white colonists descending upon the Africans, seeming to augur good but actually portending
troublesome encounters. Fire epitomizes Okonkwo’s nature—he is fierce and destructive. A third symbol, the drums, represents the physical connection of the community of clansmen in Umuofia, and acts as a metaphorical heartbeat that beats in unison, uniting all the village members.


· The author’s initial description of Ikemefuna as an“ill-fated boy,” which presages his eventual murder by Okonkwo; the arrival of the locusts, which symbolizes the eventual arrival of the colonizers; Obierika’s suggestion that Okonkwo kill himself, which foretells Okonkwo’s eventual suicide.

Overview of the Plot

Okonkwo is a wealthy and respected warrior of the Umuofia clan,a lower Nigerian tribe that is part of a consortium of nine connected villages. He is haunted by the actions of Unoka, his cowardly and spendthrift father, who died in disrepute, leavingmany village debts unsettled. In response, Okonkwo became a clansman, warrior, farmer, and
family provider extraordinaire. He has a twelve-year-old son named Nwoye whom he finds lazy; Okonkwo worries that Nwoye will end up a failure like Unoka. In a settlement with a neighboring tribe, Umuofia wins a virgin and a fifteen-year-old boy.  Okonkwo takes charge of the boy, Ikemefuna, and finds an ideal son in him. Nwoye likewise
forms a strong attachment to the newcomer. Despite his fondness for Ikemefuna and despite the fact that the boy begins to call him “father,” Okonkwo does not let himself show any affection for him. During the Week of Peace, Okonkwo accuses his youngest wife, Ojiugo, of negligence. He severely beats her, breaking the peace of the sacred week.  He makes some sacrifices to show his repentance, but he has shocked his community irreparably. Ikemefuna stays with Okonkwo’s family for three years. Nwoye looks up to him as an older brother and, much to Okonkwo’s pleasure, develops a more masculine attitude. One day, the locusts come to Umuofia—they will come every year for seven years before disappearing for another generation. The village excitedly collects them because they are good to eat when cooked.
Ogbuefi Ezeudu, a respected village elder, informs Okonkwo in private
that the Oracle has said that Ikemefuna must be killed. He tells Okonkwo that because Ikemefuna calls him “father,” Okonkwo should not take part in the boy’s death. Okonkwo lies to Ikemefuna, telling him that they must return him to his home village. Nwoye bursts into tears.  As he walks with the men of Umuofia, Ikemefuna thinks about
seeing his mother. After several hours of walking, some of Okonkwo’s clansmen attack the boy with machetes. Ikemefuna runs to Okonkwo for help. But Okonkwo, who doesn’t wish to look weak in front of his fellow tribesmen, cuts the boy down despite the Oracle’s admonishment. When Okonkwo returns home, Nwoye deduces that his friend is dead.
Okonkwo sinks into a depression, neither able to sleep nor eat. He visits his friend Obierika and begins to feel revived a bit.
Okonkwo’s daughter Ezinma falls ill, but she recovers after Okonkwo gathers leaves for her medicine.  The death of Ogbuefi Ezeudu is announced to the surrounding villages by means of the ekwe,a musical instrument. Okonkwo feels guilty because the last
time Ezeudu visited him was to warn him against taking part in Ikemefuna’s death. At Ogbuefi Ezeudu’s large and elaborate funeral, the men beat drums and fire their guns. Tragedy compounds upon itself when Okonkwo’s gun explodes and kills Ogbuefi Ezeudu’s sixteen-year-old son.  Because killing a clansman is a crime against the earth goddess, Okonkwo must take his family into exile for seven years in order to atone. He gathers his most valuable belongings and takes his family to his mother’s natal village, Mbanta. The men from Ogbuefi Ezeudu’s quarter burn Okonkwo’s buildings and kill his animals to cleanse the village of hissin.
Okonkwo’s kinsmen, especially his uncle, Uchendu, receive him warmly.
They help him build a new compound of huts and lend him yam seeds to start a farm.
Although he is bitterly disappointed at his misfortune, Okonkwo reconciles himself to life in his motherland. During the second year of Okonkwo’s exile, Obierika brings several bags of cowries (shells used as currency) that he has made by selling Okonkwo’s yams. Obierika plans to continue to do so until Okonkwo returns to the village. Obierika also brings the bad news that Abame, another village, has been destroyed by the white man.  Soon afterward, six missionaries travel to Mbanta. Through an interpreter named Mr. Kiaga, the missionaries’ leader, Mr. Brown, speaks to the villagers. He tells them that their gods are false and that worshiping more than one God is idolatrous. But the villagers do not understand how the Holy Trinity can be accepted as one God. Although his aim is to convert the residents of Umuofia to Christianity, Mr. Brown does not allow his followers to antagonize the clan.Mr. Brown grows ill and is soon replaced by Reverend James Smith, an intolerant and strict man.
The more zealous converts are relieved to be free of Mr. Brown’s policy of restraint. One such convert, Enoch, dares to unmask an egwugwu during the annual ceremony to honor the earth deity, an act equivalent to killing an ancestral spirit. The next day, the
egwugwu burn Enoch’s compound and Reverend Smith’s church to the ground.
The District Commissioner is upset by the burning of the church and requests that the leaders of Umuofia meet with him. Once they are gathered, however, the leaders are handcuffed and thrown in jail, where they suffer insults and physical abuse.
After the prisoners are released, the clansmen hold a meeting, during which five court
messengers approach and order the clansmen to desist. Expecting his fellow clan members to join him in uprising, Okonkwo kills their leader with his machete.
When the crowd allows the other messengers to escape, Okonkwo realizes that his clan
is not willing to go to war. When the District Commissioner arrives at Okonkwo’s compound, he finds that Okonkwo has hanged himself. Obierika and his friends lead the commissioner to the body. Obierika explains that suicide is a grave sin; thus, according to custom, none of Okonkwo’s clansmen may touch his body. The commissioner, who is writing a book about Africa, believes that the story of Okonkwo’s rebellion and death will make for an interesting paragraph or two. He has already chosen the book’s title:
The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger

CSEC Literature-Notes on Frangipani House by Beryl Gilroy

Mama King’s Attitudes to Living in a Home (attitudes to ageing)

  • She seems resentful of the fact that she has spent her entire life caring for her children and their children, and now it seems she has been abandoned by them when she needs the care of family. This is why she is so resistant to the ways of the home.
  • On the other hand, she feels as if she is a burden to her family, and as a result they had to place her in the home because they could no longer care for her. This upsets Mama King because she has been independent for her whole life and so feels crippled by the need to depend on the home staff to do everything for her.
  • Being confined in the home restricts Mama King and frustrates her, making her feel like a “bee in a bottle.” In addition, she is even more frustrated by the fact that she can see and hear the outside world but cannot actually interact with it.
  • The fact that Mama King is in the home reflects the fact that society considers the elderly a burden and as a result, relegate them to live out their years in institutions such as Frangipani house. In addition, the treatment of the residents by the nurses, namely Nurse Agnes and Matron highlights how rough and indifferent the nurses/ caretakers in these institutions are to the residents. These internal views of the nursing home system help the readers identify with Mama King’s plight and allow us to understand her feelings.

CSEC Literature-Two Grandmothers

A World of Prose- Two Grandmothers by Olive Senior


The story is set in Jamaica during the 1980’s. The setting of
the narrator alternates between her Grandma Del’s house in the
country, her grandma Elaine’s (Towser) house in the city and her
parent’s house also in the city.

Point of View

The story is told from the point of a young Jamaican girl, from
an affluent urban background. Though she is unnamed, the story
chronicles her life as she grows up and the dynamic views she holds
of each of her grandmothers’ social settings. As the plot
progresses, we see through her child’s eyes the events which occur in
each setting. Over time, her innocence is lost as she matures, and
we,the audience can see this as her tone changes throughout the plot.


One of the major themes in the story is Love and Family
Relationships. In the plot we are introduced to the relationship
between a little girl and both her maternal and paternal
grandmothers. Her Grandma Del lives in a small country village and
is traditionally Christian in her beliefs, attending church regularly
and following the Bible closely, even saying “a whistling woman and a
crowing hen are an abomination unto the Lord” to her grandchild when
she finds her trying to whistle. In addition, Grandma Del seems to
try to nurture her granddaughter’s sense of self and self esteem,
complimenting her hair and her skin, calling it “…beautiful like
honey…” She also encourages the child to be “as beautiful on the
inside as she is on the outside” so that she will grow up to be a
“fine brown lady”. This inspires the young girl to ask her mother
whether she will grow to be “as beautiful on the inside as she is on
the outside” and she subsequently resolves to try to achieve this
goal.  On the other hand, the girl’s maternal grandmother, grandma
Elaine or “Towser” as she likes to be called is almost the complete
opposite of Grandma Del. She is affluent and lives in the city.
Where Grandma Del is more concerned with good values, Towser is more
concerned with appearances and material belongings. This is seen
when we are introduced to her current male partner, Mr Kincaid, and
he is described as “handsome…white…and rich”. The child also
alludes to Towser inveigling him to buy her a video as a present.
Towser also seems to look down on Grandma Del, calling her “a country
bumpkin of the deepest waters”. In addition she scoffs at Grandma
Del’s faith, instructing the child not to “quote her goddamn sayings
to me” after the narrator tells Towser not to paint her face as it
is an abomination to the Lord. It seems that Towser is uncomfortable
with the child being mixed race, as she complains that her hair is
“tough” and scorns its kinkiness. This incident introduces another
prominent theme, which is Attitudes to Race and Class.
Throughout the plot, we see many different attitudes to race
and class. Whereas Grandma Del is proud of her granddaughter’s skin
colour and hair, Towser seems disappointed that the child has the
more prominent black features of her father such as very curly hair.
The comment about her hair being tough upsets the little girl, and
when she asks Towser’s maid, she is informed that Towser is
disappointed that she “came out dark”. This unsettles the child even
more and she compares her skin tone to her father, paternal
grandmother and the maid, concluding that she is not as dark as any
of those persons. This segment of the story concludes with her
confusion at being referred to as “dark”. This is important because
it portrays the racist attitudes held by lighter skinned people
toward darker skinned people during that time. In contrast to Towser
is Grandma Del, who loves her granddaughter’s brown skin and long
thick hair and encourages the child to love her natural beauty. It
can be inferred that the grandmother is dark skinned, and this
further exemplifies the mentality that lighter skin was prized during
that time period. In addition, as the plot progresses, the child adopts a racist attitude toward black people, going as far as to say she didn’t like visiting her Grandma Del because “there’s nobody but black people there”.
The attitudes to class are seen in the narrator, as she grows,
her attitude to class changes dramatically. In the early parts of
the plot, she relates the story of Pearlie, Grandma Del’s neighbour,
who is very poor. We are told that she has to take care of her
younger siblings and do the household chores and cooking. In
addition, she has very few clothes and no toys at all. The narrator
initially is very compassionate toward Pearlie, asking her mother to
give Pearlie her old dresses and some of her toys. She even goes as
far as to ask if Pearlie could live with them in the city. This
initial attitude is typical of a child who is innocent, and has not
yet been affected by society’s class divisions and prejudices. As
she grows up, she seems to affect a more classist attitude toward
Pearlie calling her “that awful girl Pearlie… always asking me for
things”. This shows how she has hardened with age, and is no longer
compassionate toward her friend, but has begun to look down on and
despise her. This incident shows that classist, racist or highly
prejudiced attitudes are taught, they are not inborn in people.
Another major theme is childhood innocence. Since the story is
told through the perspective of a child, we see the world without the
filter of maturity. One example of her innocence is when she talks
about Eulalie and Ermandine, who are neighbours of her Grandma Del.
In this narrative, she relates how everyone was concerned because
Eulalie “fell” and no one knew what was to be done. The child then
expresses confusion, as she can see no physical injuries on Eulalie.
The audience however is aware that “fell” was used as a euphemism to
say that Eulalie was pregnant.


One of the main techniques seen in the plot was contrast. The
narrator has contrasting experiences with each of her grandmothers.  In addition, her earlier personality is a stark contrast with her older personality. Between the grandmothers, the contrast between urban life and rural life is shown in the values of Grandma Del vs Towser. While grandma Del, though poor lives a life based on
traditional Christian values, and tries to instill them in her grandchild, Towser seems vain and more materialistic. Towser is affluent, compared to Grandma Del who is not as well off. However, Towser seems reliant on men for her self worth, while Grandma Del seems content with the simple joys of rural life. Also, the lessons each woman teaches the child are different. Grandma Del teaches the girl to love her natural hair and skin, and to be as beautiful inside as she is outside. Towser however teaches her that the most
important thing is to be attractive especially to men. This is seen in how the girl asks her mother “Mummy, when I’m old like Towser will men still tell me I’m beautiful?” Another example of contrast is the personality of the narrator as she matures. Initially she is a happy girl, who admires both of her grandmothers and is compassionate to
the less fortunate. She is also unaffected by conventions of class and race, seen in how she interacts with Pearlie, the poor girl who lives near to Grandma Del. She finds her grandmother’s rural home “cozy, dark and cool” initially. However as she ages, it no longer holds this allure; It is now “dark and crowded”. In addition, she no longer looks forward to staying with her grandmother, but finds it a chore and tries to convince her mother to let her stop going. Also, she becomes irritated by Grandma Del’s old fashioned tendencies, which she perceives as being treated like a baby. She seems to prefer Towser’s lifestyle to Grandma Del’s. Another technique used to great effect is irony. Irony refers to an unexpected outcome. One example of irony is the fact that
Grandma Del is critical of Eulalie and Ermandine being unwed mothers when she herself had the narrator’s father out of wedlock. The child is unaware of this until she is older, she only notices that her grandmother gets upset when she asks to see her wedding photo. It is also ironic that initially the narrator chides her maternal
grandmother for wearing makeup, but then later on wants to wear makeup herself. Even more ironic is how the child resolves to be as beautiful on the inside as she is outside, but eventually becomes selfish, materialistic and vain later on. This is ironic because as a young child she wants to be a good person, and to emulate her Grandma Del, however as she matures into a pre-teen/teenager she slowly forgets the values that grandma Del taught her, and is more like Towser in her actions and values

CAPE Literature- Thomas Hardy Poems

Question: CAPE 2013 Q. 15



Poetry can be deemed enjoyable by its memorability or the relatability of its content.  As such, poems which discuss the human condition are often memorable and enjoyable because they present universal human experiences, aided by skillful use of poetic techniques.  Thomas Hardy’s poems are memorable for precisely this reason.  His poem Neutral  Tones relates a dying relationship and the complex emotions experienced by each party.  His effective use of pathetic fallacy and imagery aids in this presentation.  However, his poems To an Unborn Pauper Child and A Backward Spring discuss varying attitudes to life by using both imagery and personification respectively.  Varying complexities in rhyme scheme and variations in tone also aid in the memorability of these poems.

Neutral Tones makes full use of nature and colour imagery to highlight the emotions experienced at the end if a relationship.  The overall backdrop of the scene was described as ‘gray’, the sun being ‘white as though chidden of God’.  Even the leaves which lie on the ‘starving sod’ are dead and gray, emphasizing the bleakness of the situation.  This is also pathetic fallacy as the deathly winter landscape mimics the smile on the woman’s face which was ‘the deadest thing,/Alive enough to have strength to die’.  The dominant image if death illustrates exactly how dispassionate the relationship was.  The idea of nature existing as a backdrop for human events as proposed by critic Alan Pound in his piece Critical Perspectives is exemplified in this poem.  Aside from imagery, the poem utilizes a detached tone, and the persona and his lover remain unnamed throughout the poem.  This lends a universality to the poem and thus makes it memorable because readers can easily identify similar situations in their own lives.  The complex nature of a failed relationship is offset too by the simple abba  rhyme scheme and a controlled use of tetrameter.  This is a frequent feature of Hardy’s poems, contrastingly simple rhyme schemes are juxtaposed against complex subject matter.

In contrast to this simple rhyme scheme and complex subject matter, A Backward Spring contains a complicated ababcd rhyme scheme which complements its complicated subject matter.  This is representative of the complexities of human behavior in the face of challenges.  The poem explores various attitudes to life’s challenges by personifying plants to represent different human responses.  For example the ‘…bush afraid to bloom’ illustrates people’s reluctance to make new starts in the face of disasters such as war.  However, ‘the snowdrop’s face displays no gloom’, showing that people are optimistic in the face of struggles.  Many are also recklessly optimistic like the primrose that ‘pants’ , a representation of people who push on relentlessly toward an end despite the clear dangers.  In personifying the plants and flowers, Hardy illustrates varying attitudes to life during the Great War in a creative and memorable way which enhances reader enjoyment.   A Backward Spring is unlike many of his other poems in that nature is the main subject or persona of the poem as opposed to a backdrop for human events.  Rather, nature represents humans and their differing responses to struggle.  Overall, both Hardy’s representation of nature and his similar rhyme scheme and subject matter make A Backward Spring a highly enjoyable and memorable poem.

To an Unborn Pauper Child does make extensive use of imagery, both to highlight the dark, chaotic nature of life and the innocent, protected oblivion of an unborn child.  Through describing the ‘skies that spout fire and blood’ and ‘earth that quakes’, Hardy warns the unborn child to ‘cease’ rather than be born and live in such a cruel world.  Such imagery suggests chaos, death and destruction and serves as an ominous portent of future tragedies in store for the child.  It helps to further Hardy’s case that the child would be better off dead than living in the world.  In contrast, the gentle, protected image of a ‘wombed soul’ in a ‘shut plot’ emphasizes the unknowing vulnerability of the child, highlighting again why it should be protected from the world.  Additionally, as in Neutral Tones, Hardy contrasts difficult aspects of the human condition with a simple aabbcc rhyme scheme.  This contrast provokes thought in the reader and perhaps makes the poem generally more memorable and enjoyable.  He also varies the tone of the poem, stanza 1 connotes a warning, or an impending sense of danger.  However. This tone slowly changes to protective and finally hopeful as Hardy wishes for the child to have ‘scope’ and reflects in his final views of human nature.  In To an Unborn Pauper Child Hardy also uses nature as a backdrop for human activities, however, this is done to a lesser extent than in Neutral Tones.

In conclusion, while a range of poetic techniques does enhance a poem’s enjoyability, time and rhyme schemes are also important poetic elements.  Thomas Hardy’s poems Neutral Tones, A Backward Spring and To an Unborn Pauper Child all make use of these techniques and elements thus making them highly enjoyable.  Their discussion of various human issues makes them relatable and universal which also maximizes reader enjoyment.

CAPE Literature- Prose fiction 

Module 3: The Great Gatsby (F.Scott Fitzgeraldand Cambridge (Caryl Phillips)

Question: In their exploration of social conflict, writers depend primarily on the use of setting.

With reference to ONE Caribbean and ONE British, American or Post Colonial work of fiction you have studied, discuss the validity of this statement.


Writers use literature to explore a variety of social conflicts.  Caryl Phillips and F. Scott Fitzgerald use their works to explore racism and sexism in Cambridge  and class conflicts in The Great  Gatsby  respectively.  They use a multitude of techniques including setting to enhance their presentation of these social conflicts.  However, while setting is used to great effect, plural subjectivities and symbolism are used in  Cambridge and The Great Gatsby respectively.  Plural subjectivities allow Phillips to explore the idea of there being varying degrees to the truth, especially in relation to controversial topics such as racism and slavery.  Fitzgerald on the other hand uses symbolism to illustrate divides between classes and to separate old money from new money and the rich from the poor.  As such, the use of setting, along with the aforementioned techniques allows the writers to better explore social conflicts.

In Cambridge, the main settings are the unnamed Caribbean island and England.  Both protagonists have experienced each setting, however they have experienced it through very different lenses.  This is especially aided by Phillips’ use of plural subjectivities.  For example, the first narrator or ‘voice’, Emily Cartwright, experiences England from the oppressed standpoint of a female, but experiences the West Indies from the more privileged perspective of a white person, specifically the plantation owner’s daughter.  She is an excellent narrator when describing scenery as she is genuinely impressed and surprised by the new sights of the Caribbean.  She also admires the housing on the plantation, both the Great House with its ‘lofty’ ceilings and ‘sumptuous mahogany’ construction and the slave shacks whose gardens bloom with ‘all the colours of the rainbow’.  However, she is highly unreliable in her descriptions and opinions of the slaves, frequently associating them with animals (‘a small parcel of monkeys and pigs’) and immorality.  The modern reader is inclined to be repulsed by her grossly racist observations, especially after reading Cambridge’s version.  This is particularly true in the case of Christiania, the ‘insolent black wench’ whom Emily believes to be Mr. Brown’s willing mistress.  However, it is revealed that she is actually a victim of systematic rape and abuse at his hands through Cambridge’s version.  Emily also frequently omits information without telling the readers, unlike Cambridge who offers a more detailed account of events.  For example, at Hawthorn cottage, she simply states that she and Mr Brown ‘held each other’, leaving the meaning open to interpretation.  The true meaning of this is revealed only when she discovers she is pregnant later on in the novel.  This censure of her own thoughts even in a private journal illustrates the extent to which women were a marginalized group in the nineteenth century.  The various gaps created in Emily’s narrative, according to critic Benedict Ledent in his piece  Crossing a Human River of Shattered Dreams open ‘spaces…through which other voices may be heard’.  These gaps set the stage for Cambridge’s account and enhance the reader’s understanding of the plot.

Cambridge experiences the majority of his life as a slave and as such his narrative is highly different from Emily’s.  Despite being in a privileged position as a man, he is black and therefore oppressed because of his race.  However, because he is a man, he is not subject to the same censure as Emily is and as such his narrative is far more reliable than hers.  Through him we learn the horrors of the triangular trade which makes Emily’s uncomfortable journey to the West Indies look like a luxury cruise in comparison.  He also informs us of the cruelty of slavery and the advantage taken of his ‘wife’ Christiania.  Though his  version is much shorter and less descriptive thank Emily’s, it shows the readers the true nature of slavery and allows us to appreciate the harsh realities of slave life.  Due to his literacy, Cambridge tells the story of all the slaves, a perspective which may have been ignored if Emily’s narrative were the only perspective from which the story was told.  This emphasizes Phillips’ insistence on there being no singular truth in any story and highlie the racism and sexism characteristic of the  nineteenth century.

The Great Gatsby on the other hand largely uses setting to describe the conflicts and demivides between classes.  The poor people in the novel, the Wilsons are relegated to the Valley of Ashes, a ‘gray’ lifeless place where ‘dust men’ swepts ash into piles.  The Valley of Ashes is a wasteland which symbolizes the death or dark side of the American Dream; the waste and excess of those who achieved this dream ultimately have consequences for the poor. In fact, it is here that George Wilson loses his wife Myrtle, the one source of ‘constantly smouldering vitality’ in his grey existence.  When she dies, so do his dreams of a better life while the rich Daisy Buchanan is not sanctioned for her actions.  In contrast, the lavish parties and excess of East and West Egg represent the insulating wealth of the upper classes during the Roaring Twenties.  Gatsby’s parties where ‘champagne flowed’ and the atmosphere was reminiscent of an ‘amusement park’ show a stark contrast to the grey desolation of the Valley of Ashes.  Similarly, the ‘rosy glow’ of the Buchanan’s Georgian mansion i s far removed from the ‘hot struggles’ and ash and dust of the poor. In this manner, setting creates an almost tangible barrier between rich and poor.

Furthermore, colour symbolism divides the nouveau riche of West Egg from the old money of East Egg.  Jay Gatsby wears a pink ‘rag of a suit’ and two grils at his party are clad in yellow.  His car is also yellow and a veritable rainbow of colour and texture exists in his wardrobe.  These colours are hold and bright but also somewhat gaudy when compared to the muted white and metallic shades frequently associated with the East Egg residents.  Jordan Baker and Daisy Buchanan are described as ‘golden girls’ and ‘silver idols weighing down their own white dresses’.  Theses elegant, sophisticated colours give them an air of inaccessibility, further emphasized by the comparison of Jordan’s ‘golden shoulder’ and the ‘yellow clad girls’ at Gatsby’s party.  It can be said that the bright,gaudy colours of West egg are merely cheap imitations of the understated, elegant palette of East Egg, illustrating the divide between the different types of rich people.  Additionally, the white, representative of the blank aimless nature of the wealthy, illustrates the ‘absence of all desire’ according to critic Michael Millgate in his piece American Social Fiction.  It shows the extent to which the rich have neither consequences nor hardships in their lives and the generally careless attitude they have toward others in society.  This social conflict is well illustrated through symbolism and setting.

In conclusion, the writers use setting along with plural subjectivities and symbolism to great effect in both novels.  The multiple perspectives of Cambridge illustrate the varying views and accounts of the controversial topic of slavery.  On the other hand, symbolism is used to highlight the socioeconomic divides between classes in The Great Gatsby. Setting is therefore not the primary device used to explore social conflicts in these novels.
© Rajini Coore 2017

CAPE Literature- Twelfth Night

So all my Caribbean readers will know that CAPE exams start tomorrow, beginning with Literature/Physics.  As such, I wanted to post these essays today to help any of you who may be doing some last minute review for Literature Unit 1.  Good luck!!

Question: The theatrical appeal of Twelfth Night depends primarily on Shakespeare’s skillful use of props.

Discuss the extent to which this is a fair assessment of the play. (CAPE 2016)


Theatrical appeal refers to how much the audience enjoys a play. Twelfth Night is rife with theatrical appeal created through the use of many dramatic elements.  In order to heighten this theatrical appeal, Shakespeare uses props as well as costumes/disguises and soliloquy, to eveoke emotional responses from the audience.  When used together these techniques contribute very significantly to heightening the theatrical appeal of the play.

Props and costumes, seen in Act 3, Scenes 3&4 are primarily used to enhance the humorous appeal of Malvolio’s gulling.  The main prop in this subplot is the letter, forged by Maria, which mimics a love letter from Olivia to Malvolio.  This letter confesses a “forbidden love” between a mistress and servant and reveals to the audience Malvolio’s designs on the power that would come from a union with Olivia.  These illusions of grandeur cause Malvolio to be swept up in an elaborate fantasy wherein he imagines himself in a ‘branched velvet gown’, ‘calling [his] servants about [him]’ and being ‘opposite with a kinsman’, his archenemy and antithesis, Sir Toby Belch.  His daydreams involve wealth as he imagines himself playing with ‘some rich jewel’ as he wields his power.  The letter as a prop serves two main dramatic functions.  Firstly, it advances the progression of the plot as it is this letter that prompts the black-robed Puritan to don garish yellow stockings and cross garters to attract Olivia’s attention.  It further functions as a vehicle of humour as the hilarity of the conservative Malvolio prancing about in yellow, cross-gartered stockings is undeniable.  Furthermore, Olivia’s horrified reaction enhances the dramatic irony of the scene; the audience knows the letter is a hoax but Malvolio believes it to be real.  Olivia’s bewilderment only adds to the comedic impact of the scene.  However, prop alone does not constitute the entirety of the comedy, as the scene would not have nearly as much humorous appeal were it not for the yellow cross-gartered stockings.  This aspect of costume is comical when read, however a live presentation of the play would rely heavily for comedy on the audience’s view of this odd hosiery.  As such the theatrical appeal in this scene is not solely reliant on prop, but necessitates a combination of prop and costume to be fully conveyed to the audience.

In contrast to Malvolio’s humorous costume, Viola’ disguise or Cesario’s costume is the source of much tension and unrequited love in the play.  While it does utilize humour as the actor is (according to Elizabethan tradition and the cross dressing done on the Twelfth Night celebration) a man playing a girl playing a man, the disguise of Cesario is a confusing and perplexing ordeal for both Olivia and Viola.  Viola originally disguises as a man to obtain work and search for her lost brother Sebastian, an assertive and proactive action.  However, as explored by critic Peter Hyland in Conventions of Shakespearean Comedy Viola’s disguise is highly confining and isolating, as she must occupy the liminal space between male and female with no one to confide in.  This has negative repercussions for her identity and sense of self as she slowly loses more and more autonomy until she becomes a mere pawn for Orsino to kill to spite Olivia.

In fact, Viola seems to  ‘become’ Cesario, as we do not ever see her dressed in women’s clothing after Act 1 scene 2.  Even Duke Orsino refers to her as Cesario despite the fact that she reveals herself to him and that they are about to marry.  This creates theatrical appeal because the audience is left with several uncomfortably unanswered questions in the resolution of the play.

Viola’s disguise or Cesario’s costume also creates theatrical appeal in building tension throughout the plot.  This is especially emphasized through Viola’s and Olivia’s soliloquies in Act 2.  In Olivia’s soliloquy, she ‘feels this youth’s perfections’ after briefly meeting with Cesario, the emissary of Orsino.  Indeed, she seems to be rapidly falling for ‘Cesario’ as she comments ‘How quickly may one catch the plague!’ as she realizes her growing feelings.  This is a major source of dramatic irony in the plot as the audience knows that Olivia is falling in love with a woman.  It also builds tension as the audience is almost immediately shown Viola’s soliloquy in act 2, scene 2 in which she realizes that Olivia has feelings for her as Cesario.  The isolatory nature of this disguise is emphasized by her cry of ‘poor monster’, showing the helplessness of her situation.  Tension is also built by Viola’s question ‘What thriftlesss sighs shall poor Olivia breathe?’ as the audience sees the plot thicken and become more complex.  We are also inclined to feel great sympathy for both women as the objects of their affection cannot return their love.  Viola, because though she ‘fonds as much’ on her master as Olivia does on her, due to her male attire.  Olivia, because she mistakenly loves a cross dressing woman.  This dramatic irony creates theatrical appeal for the audience by building tension and anticipation as to how the situation will ‘fadge’ or turn out.  Viola’s surrender to time in ‘ O time thou must untangle this, not I’ furthers excites the audience, who anxiously await the resolution of the play.

In conclusion, while the use of props does contribute to the theatrical appeal of Twelfth Night, it does not accomplish this alone.  Rather, it works alongside costume, disguise and soliloquy in order to deliver the maximum theatrical appeal for the audience.  The combination of these three devices is what delivers maximum audience enjoyment in Twelfth Night.

©Rajini Coore 2017