Intersections (Race) Assignment 1

Race and racism in whatever form are often topics of interest in different novels and films. Race plays a big role in both, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee and Triomf by Marlene van Niekerk. Stereotypes and prejudices that occur because of race and will be the main points of focus in this essay in relation to the two novels mentioned above. What will be done exactly is the following: First, the two terms, stereotypes and prejudice, will be defined. Second, stereotypes and prejudices will be discussed with regard to what it is, how it is interpreted, some examples perhaps and general information about it. Third, To Kill A Mockingbird and Triomf will be discussed with the topics of racial stereotypes and prejudices in mind and how both of these acts are present and represented within the two novels.

Before the real topic at hand can be discussed, the definitions of both stereotypes and prejudices has to be known in order to further discuss the meanings, ideologies and examples of it. Stereotypes is a commonly understood, but fixed and overgeneralised image or idea of a particular thing or group of people, in the case of this assignment, people that is a part of the black race. Prejudices are quite similar to stereotypes, but the specific definition is that is it a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason, fact or personal experience, there is also racial prejudices towards black people and other races, but specifically towards black people with regard to this essay.

Racial stereotypes and racial prejudices come from set ideas and opinions about racial groups, but specifically the black race for the purpose of this assignment. Below some additional information will be given with regard to both stereotypes as well as prejudices. Some parts of the information that will be given below will be purely about stereotypes or prejudices, but some bits of information will be about both of these concepts. It can be argued that racial stereotypes and prejudices come from individuals who are considered to be racists which is another group of people found within society in the past and still today. Racist ideologies dominate most other shared social representations, especially racist attitudes, racial prejudices and racial stereotypes (Van Dijk, 2000: 98).

Group categories such as identity, feelings, beliefs, and related mental structures are all factors expressed in human interactions that influence the structure and basic conditions of social organisations. Bobo and Fox (2003: 319) go on by saying that race, racism, and discrimination that happen because of racial stereotypes and prejudices, can also be seen as sources and methods of hierarchal differentiation that shape the ordering of social relations as well as the sharing of life experiences and life choices.

Mai (2016: 2) stated that no matter how true or false a stereotype is, it is mostly based on some reality, truth, a half-truth, or a full-blown fact. Universally, it is a natural tendency to seek people with which there are common interests, hobbies, habits, beliefs, languages and so on. The more people have in common with one another the more comfortable they will feel around these people. In some cases, individuals seek out other individuals from which they differ in many aspects as to learn from them, but unfortunately doing this can be criticised, certain individuals could argue that different races should not mix company. This is an obstacle in the road that society has to get over to be able to make any sort of progress.

Stereotypes of any sort tend to have a negative impact on society, especially in the following ways as written by Mai (2016: 5-6): It traps people in a certain mindset with regard to things or groups of people and this is then extremely hard to change within these people since it becomes so fixed in their minds; when someone believes in stereotypes they refuse  to acknowledge the existence of the possibility of people being part of a group, but not fitting the stereotype at all; stereotypes just like many other mindsets can result in self-fulfilling prophecies because of the link between belief and behaviour.

Stereotypes are generally seen to be a negative phenomenon that only racists engage in, but many different people have a tendency of putting others in a box of some sort regardless of knowing that they are judging these people based on a stereotype. Stereotyping have become a natural thing to do in today’s society and it is hard to be unlearned though it is possible to do so. It is especially hard to shake off this habit because many people who engage in stereotyping find it hard to accept anything that proves the contrary of any stereotype that they believe in (Mai, 2016: 2).

A common existing stereotype about the black race is that they are more likely that other races to be violent or to engage in criminal behaviour. The stereotype of black people being criminals is a widely known stereotype and it is deeply embedded especially within the minds of American regardless of the level of prejudice or personal beliefs they have with regard to this stereotype (Quilliam & Pager, 2001: 721-722).

Prejudices of any sort, but specifically racial prejudices in this case, can start because of the following aspects that occur between different groups of people: conflict of resources; conflict of desires and the ‘blame game’; institutional support and so on (Mai, 2016: 9-11). Mai (2016: 7) then goes on to say that stereotypes can on the odd occasion be considered to be positive, but prejudices are always negative, there is no exception. Prejudices are also usually accompanied with feelings of hostility, rage and judgement. Prejudices are also emotionally fuelled and as well as being a personal attitude/thought process and this can all be transferred into actions which then manifests as discrimination.

At am individual level and not just on group levels, racisms are often expressed in the form of prejudice either in direct or insinuating way. Knowing that prejudices suggest negative attitudes and beliefs, it can often become self-fulfilling prophesies as mentioned before and that would then support and validate prejudiced judgements. When contrary evidence in the form of one or more individuals being different is presented to prejudiced people, they refuse to acknowledge or believe it as proof that the group is not in fact like the stereotype of prejudice and perhaps instead simply and exception to the rule (Sanson 1997: 12).

Below the ideologies discussed above will be discussed with specific relation to the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird and then toTriomf. Specific articles with regard to the topic and books will be used as well as my own application of examples from the novels and their films (if films are available) to present evidence of racial stereotypes and prejudices present in both of the books.

Class, gender as well as racial prejudices are introduced to Jem and Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird. This is a novel in which these two children learn about life and themselves as a part of it and that society is not always fair to those who do not fit in or follow society’s predetermined rules (Best, 2009: 541). To Kill A Mockingbird is also considered to be a coming-of-age novel and/or as a commentary on racial injustice in the south of the United States of America in the 1930’s (Ernst, 2015: 1020).

Racism is openly presented in To Kill A Mockingbird, sometimes subtle and sometimes blatant through the means of actions and words uttered by the citizens of Maycomb. The layout of the town even supports the segregation of the different races and classes, one area for whites, one area for the ‘white-trash’ and another area for the blacks. The different races are also not allowed to mix company in public places such as the court (Nair, 2014: 208). When Tom Robinson is a black man who is wrongly accused of raping Mayella Ewell who is a white woman, he has to go to court for his trail and it is seen how white and black people are kept separate from one another, the black people has to sit in the gallery and the white people is sitting at the bottom in the court. Before the trail even started the white citizens of Maycomb called Atticus Finch a ‘nigger lover’ because he dared to take Tom’s case to try and help him. The white people in this town also often called black people ‘niggers’, which is slang for Negro which is what black people were called during that time, but it was also considered to be extremely disrespectful to call anyone that term.

The children in To Kill A Mockingbird are exposed to society’s racism and other injustices through Tom Robinson’s trail. The Children’s father, Atticus Finch, Tom’s lawyer, is also faced with significant disapproval from the white citizens of Maycomb (Ernst, 2015: 1021). Other than being called a ‘nigger lover’ for helping Tom, Atticus also faced a mob of angry white men wanting to inflict harm on Tom when he was in jail awaiting is trail the next day and he has to ward them off, lucky for him is children followed him into town and indirectly came to his rescue since their presence resulted in the mob taking their leave. Atticus soon after tells his son, Jem, that there are ugly things in the world, by which he means racism, that he wishes he could keep away from him in order to protect him from the harshness of what society can do.

The people in Maycomb who are considered to be racists, think that all black people are part of a dishonoured race, are undependable and dishonest (Nair, 2014: 208). Mister Ewell confronted Atticus when he heard that he is the man defending Tom Robinson in court and told him that he is sorry that he has to defend a black man. Another example of this is when everyone just assumed Tom is guilty of the crime he was accused of simply because he is a black man. When Tom said he helped Mayella Ewell with little tasks around the house for free, he said the reason for it was that he felt sorry for her, every white person in court was in shock because of his statement and said how dare he, a black man, feel sorry for a white woman. During Atticus’ closing statement in court he made a few more points against the state for Tom showing obvious signs of prejudice and stereotypes being present in Maycomb and that court. Some of the things Atticus pointed out was: Mayella tempted Tom but he was accused of rape because if she admitted that she was the one to tempt him, she would be ridiculed for it, she kissed a black man; The state witnesses was confident on the witness stand because they believed that the all-white jury would believe their testimonies against Tom and that everyone would believe the ‘evil’ assumption that all black people lie, all black people are immoral beings and all black men cannot be trusted around white women.

Tom Robinson’s trail can be seen as an excellent example of injustice because of racial prejudice in To Kill A Mockingbird. He was prejudged by many different people purely because of the colour of his skin (Hutami, 2014: 23-24). The state continuously tried to twist Tom’s words and use it against him in court, but the injustice can be shown in ways other than this. When the jury came back from discussing the trail and deciding on a verdict, the said that they find Tom Robinson guilty of the crime he was charged for even though throughout the trail Atticus made so many points clear to them to why Tom could not have assaulted and raped Mayella as well as motivation as to why Mayella may have accused him of that crime. Atticus was so sure that he and Tom could appeal the case and have another try at clearing Tom’s name, but later that evening after taking Tom to a jail out of town for his own safety, Tom ran and was shot because of it, he died from the hit. There was no justice for the innocent black man wrongly accused of a crime he did not commit.

In the end of the film though, the sheriff did admit that Tom was innocent and that a black man is dead for no reason, showing that some white individuals did know they were wrong to judge a man based on the colour of his skin. The Finch family was also not racist and loved and respected Calpurnia, a black woman working for them at their house.

The whites of South Africa are often referred to as the Afrikaner and they expected their women like in Marlene van Niekerk’s novel, Triomf, translated into English by Leon de Kock, to transfer themselves to and cooperate in the establishment of Afrikaner nationalism’s volks-utopia by taking on the role of the patient and suffering volksmoeder who would sacrifice everything for God and Vaderland (Rossman, 2012: 160). This may not sound that bad, but it is in fact a stereotype that has formed over the years of how older white Afrikaner women are or should be according to society.

Marlene van Niekerk’s use of demotic Afrikaans and the pervasive code-switching in Triomf is linked to the novel’s antinationalist project, which satirises related idea about white Afrikaner racial ‘purity’ and the linguistic integrity of white Afrikaans (Devarenne, 2006: 106). There is a stereotype that only white people speak Afrikaans when in reality other races speak the language as well. It is also believed by whites that they are pure just like the Afrikaans language, but anyone who mixes their language are not considered pure and the same goes for when mixing company with other races. This is obviously not true, but not all stereotypes are based on truths, and only based on false truths.

The town called Triomf in Gauteng where the story plays out is where the old Sophiatown used to be locate before it was demolished to make a new living area for the poor whites of South Africa. The people who live there sees this as a triumphant achievement of Afrikaner racial domination of blacks, hint the name of the town (Devarenne, 2006: 111). The stereotype of whites always dominating blacks is coming up in the passage above, but not all white was or are like that.

As with all races, with the white Afrikaner race, classes exist, having said that the Benade family in Triomf is considered to be white trash and white trash has a stereotype connected to them. The stereotype is that white trash people more often than not engage in incest in order to remain pure and keep their superior genetics, but in reality, this ‘scrambles’ their genetics completely. The mother, Mol, started out by giving her son, Lambert, hand jobs to calm him down whenever he got aggressive with his fits, but eventually that was not enough and he wanted to put his thing in her as they say. Mol gave up her body for her son and brothers in order to keep the family happy and together (Devarenne, 2006: 106). The Benade family also believes that they are racially superior because they are white Afrikaners and engage in incest in order to not mix with coloured or blacks and to stay pure. The stereotype here is that white Afrikaners engage in incest in order to remain pure, but this is rarely ever the case.

The Benade family also engage in incest because they are not good enough to mix with other whites, but they were initially not allowed to mix with coloureds or blacks because of the Apartheid government that existed shortly before the time the novel’s story played out. At a later point in the novel for Lambert’s birthday Pops and Treppie ‘bought’ him a prostitute for the day who was a coloured girl whose company he enjoyed so much (Botha, 2011: 29). This part of the novel contradicts the stereotypes of white people not mixing with blacks or coloureds.

Within this essay race, racisms, stereotypes and prejudices have been defined and discussed and identified within Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird and Marlene van Niekerk’s Triomf. The first novel is about the unjust treatment of a black man based on the colour of his skin, he was judged based on stereotypes and was prejudiced against in the old American South. Luckily it was not all bad, because there was compassion from the Finch family towards black people and they did not act different to black people just because they are black, they respected them for who they are. The second novel plays out in a recently democratic South Africa soon after Apartheid. This is a story about the Benade family who is white Afrikaners who is considered to be poor whites also known as white trash. Some stereotypes come into play in this novel with regard to white people believing that they are superior over other races and in order to stay pure they had to engage in incest. Incest is also a stereotypical kind of behaviour associated with white trash people, but not all poor whites are like that and not all whites are obsessed with staying pure or believe that they are superior to other races in anyway. This assignment showed me that Racial stereotypes and prejudices to more harm than good, but that there is still hope out there, there is still good people out there that regardless of race respect one another for being the person they are. History was not kind and pinned the different races against each other, but in our modern society things are changing for the better and race does not play as big as a role as it once did.




Best, R.H., 2009, Panopticism and the Use of “the Other” in To Kill a Mockingbird Best, The Mississippi Quarterly, 62:(¾),  541 – 552.

Bobo, L.D. & Fox, C., 2003, Race, Racism, and      Discrimination: Bridging Problems, Methods, and       Theory in Social Psychological Research, Social            Psychology Quarterly, 66:(4), 319-332.

Botha, C., 2011, On The Way Home: Heidegger and         Marlene van Niekerk’s Triomf, Phronimon, 12:(1),      19 – 39.

Devarenne, N., 2006, “In hell you hear only your     mother tongue”: Afrikaner Nationalist Ideology,             Linguistic Subversion, and Cultural Renewal in       Marlene van Niekerk’s Triomf, Research In African    Literatures, 37:(4), 105 – 120.

Ernst, J.L., 2015, Women In Litigation Literature: The        Exoneration Of Mayella Ewell In To Kill A    Mockingbird, date viewed 20 May 2017, from       ?article=1276&context=akronlawreview.

Hutami, W.T.R., 2014, Racial Prejudice Revealed In          Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, viewed 20 May             2017, from      20Rah%20Hutami%2007211144025.pdf.

Mai, N.P., 2016, Potential Problems In Crosscultural       Communications: Stereotypes, Prejudices, And            Racism, viewed 20 May 2017, from…/chapter-      4-stereotypes-prejudices-racism.pdf?.

Nair, P., 2014, Racial Elements in Harper Lee’s To Kill      A Mockingbird, The Criterion: An International             Journal in English, 5:(6), 207 – 211.

Quillian, L. & Pager, D., 2001, Black Neighbors,      Higher Crime? The Role of Racial Stereotypes in      Evaluations of Neighborhood Crime, American            Journal of Sociology, 107:(3), 717–767.

Rossman, J., 2012, Martha(martyr)dom: Compassion,      Sacrifice and the Abject Mother in Marlene van           Niekerk’s Triomf, Current Writing: Text and            Reception in Southern Africa, 24:(2), 159 – 168.

Sanson, A., 1997, Racism and Prejudice A    Psychological Perspective, The Australian     Psychological Society Ltd: Australia.

Van Dijk, T.A., 2000, 5  Ideologies, Racism,             Discourse: Debates on Immigration and Ethnic   Issues, viewed 20 May 2017, from,%20rac      ism,%20discourse.pdf.


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English Heritage (Renaissance) Assignment 1

The tragedy and the tragic hero has always been a significant theme often present in renaissance texts. Richard II by William Shakespeare and Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe are both considered to be tragedies with a tragic hero present. These two texts will be used within this paper to discuss tragedy as renaissance literature as well as various elements present in tragedies as well as to what extent it relates to the philosopher, Aristotle’s idea of tragedy. The various elements include: Personal failure of the hero/heroine and their misfortune; The moral value systems that underlie each play and; The effect the play has on the audience and relating it to the way Aristotle described it. These various elements will be discussed with regard to Richard II first and then with regard to Doctor Faustus.

The Renaissance era was from 1300 – 1700 and this period in time within Europe can be regarded as being a bridge of some sort between the Middle ages and what we now consider as modern history. The word ‘renaissance’ though is derived from French and it translates to the word ‘rebirth’. The history of where the word or name of the era comes from is very important and valid when learning about the Renaissance era, because many changes occurred throughout Europe during this period almost as if though Europe has been reborn. The most significant changes that occurred during this time though is with regard to art and intellect. More and more people had the chance to get educated and to educate others in various fields and on various topics. On the other hand, another group of individuals explored art much more in the form of paintings, sculptures, poetry and plays. The Renaissance era was a very important period in time for literature as we know it today, because it helped shape the present and will continue shaping the future with what we learned from it. One of the important impacts the Renaissance era has on literature was in the form of plays, but more specifically, tragedies.

The tragedy type of plays emerged within the Renaissance era and is to this day one of the recognising characteristics of the Renaissance era. The tragedy however does refer to a play of some sort, but it had its origin roots pre-Renaissance, but not really in the form of a play exactly, but rather in the form of an extremely long poem telling the life story and sometimes the death of some known or fictional figure in the past (Pincombe, 2010: 3).

Sutherland (2014: 23), pointed out that Aristotle, with regard to tragedy, made the point that it is not what is portrayed in tragedy which affects the audience or reader, and gives aesthetic pleasure, but instead how the tragedy is represented. What the audience or reader enjoy is not the cruelty, but the art, the representation or imitation, mimesis as Aristotle called it. Aristotle also had other elements which he considered to be part of tragedy other than imitation which are the following: an action that is serious; complete and of a certain magnitude; language embellished with artistic ornaments; acting, not narration and; catharsis.

Reeves (1952: 187), wrote an article where he said the following with regard to what Aristotle’s idea of tragedy and the tragic hero: “Since man is by nature moral and since pity and fear depend upon certain moral conditions to evoke them, it is now clear why the type of tragic hero must be defined in moral terms. It could hardly be otherwise. The hero, the course of the plot, the character, the convolutions of discovery and reversal, and all the machinery of the practical creation of the tragic effect must be adjusted to the moral nature of man and the moral origin of the tragic emotions.”

Haupt (1973: 21), also had something to say with regard to Aristotle’s idea and what he said was that for Aristotle a tragedy must incite specific emotions in the audience or reader which is pity and fear, and that a totally ‘good’ man who meets a terrible fate is horrible instead of pitiful or fear-provoking. Thus, a tragic hero needs to be both good and bad. The tragic hero should also not be met with a ‘disaster’ he deserves, because that would not evoke pity in the audience or reader, the penance always outweighs the crime committed which in turn makes the character a tragic hero.

What also makes a tragic hero, other than what has been mentioned above, is that the character that is considered to be a tragic hero often strives for more and tries to be better and this has some sort of disastrous effect. Soon after the tragic hero realise that what they have done is wrong and they try to undo what has been done, this usually happens too late and then they have to pay for their actions or sins in a way that is much worse than anticipated.

Other than Aristotle’s idea of tragedy and the tragic hero, fate and fortune or perhaps rather misfortune, plays a very big role in tragedies. Another element that plays a big role within tragedies is the presence or absence of a moral or value system in the protagonist. Even though Aristotle said that a tragedy should inspire fear and pity in the audience or reader, it happens almost all the time anyway, because people live themselves into the play that they are watching or reading and this makes them feel everything vicariously through the characters.

Now what has been written above will be identified and applied within the two texts, Richard II and Doctor Faustus.

Aristotle’s idea of tragedy relates well to the Shakespearean play, Richard II, Richard was not a good king and definitely not a good man and that is why in the end when he falls, the audience or reader felt pity towards him and also a little bit of fear because of how he was lead to his downfall.

Richard II was written by Shakespeare and the play is considered to be both a history and a tragedy because it was originally called: “The Tragedie of King Richard, the Second.” Richard II also seemed to be a drama centred around the fall of the protagonist, Richard, producing the intense emotions unique to tragedy. Richard II is also considered to be a tragedy rather than just another history because the plot of the play goes beyond just political questions and makes them irrelevant (Elliot, 1968: 256).

Within the play, Richard II, Richard is a king and this is made clear to the audience or reader even within the first scenes of the play. He has to handle a dispute between two parties and this soon enough results into a problem for him. Richard is soon after suspected of murder after a character known as Woodstock was found dead. Richard is soon after arrested and held captive for his ‘sins’, not long after being prosecuted, Richard died. Richard was also described as being unruly, impulsive, conceited, and selfish. These are not qualities of a ‘good’ man and can lead to a swift demise as it did in this play (Franco, 2008: 7).

What aided in Richard’s fall and ultimate demise was a rebellion that arose against him and so Richard was forced to resign his crown and throne. Henry Bolingbroke is the one who took the crown afterwards and this made Richard want revenge on him, but Henry was a better man than Richard and did not make the same mistakes as he did as king. Richard’s vengefulness is what ultimately lead to his death (Franco, 2008: 8).

Fortune is not permanent and secure, but instead it can be modified and changed. Henry was able to alter his own fate and fortune as well as Richard’s fate and fortune when he took the crown, but Richard’s take on fate and fortune was completely different to Henry’s take on it. Richard believed it to be fixed and that no matter what, he will always have it. His take on fate and fortune was quite medieval (Franco, 2008: 32).

Richard was quite conceited and did not want to believe that Henry Bolingbroke could take his throne from him and that the rebellion would fail, he said the following words with regard to this topic as written by Shakespeare (1986: 386): “His treason will sit blushing in his face, not able to endure the sight of day, but self-affrighted tremble at his sin. Not all the water in the rough sea can wash the balm off from and anointed king. The breath of worldly men cannot depose the deputy elected by the Lord, for every man that Bolingbroke hath pressed to lift shrewd steel against our golden crown, God for his Richard hath in heavenly pay a glorious angel; then, if angels fight, weak men must fall, for heaven still guards the right.”.

Stow (1999: 601), believed that Richard’s personality is what actually lead to his downfall to an extent and not just his vengefulness alone. There was never any agreement or deals to be reached with him and even today he is still considered to be one of the most mysterious and misunderstood kings of all time.

Richard was a dangerous man and his breakdown in the end was considered to be a tragedy. The revenge he wanted to achieve made him reckless, he lost control and this lead to his demise (Stow, 1999: 602).

The play evokes some form of fear within the audience or reader, but more so pity was evoked. One starts feeling pity towards Richard from the point where he lost his crown to Henry, failed at revenge and ultimately then he fell. Some of Richard’s last words while alone in prison shows how he came to the realisation of his life and time coming to an end and he also acknowledges that he did not live his life right, he concentrated too much on the wrong things and not on what he was supposed to, he wasted time as written in Shakespeare (1986: 398): “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me: For now hath time made me his numb’ring clock; My thoughts are minutes, and with sighs they jar their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch, whereto my finger, like a dial’s point, is pointing still, in cleansing them from tears. Now, sir, the sound that tells what hour it is are clamorous groans which strike upon my heart, which us the bell – so sighs, and tears, and groans, show minutes, times, and hours”.

Marlowe was another playwright alongside Shakespeare in the Renaissance era and he wrote a well-known tragedy himself, Doctor Faustus, which can also be applied to Aristotle’s idea of tragedy and the tragic hero and this is what will be discussed below.

Aristotle’s idea of tragedy and the tragic hero is well represented within Doctor Faustus, because Faustus was a man who was never content with what he had and he always strived for more knowledge and power. His constant craving for more lead to him making bad decisions causing him misfortune and his ultimate demise all because of his own personal failures. He forgot all about all his morals he once had in the process and lost himself completely. Only when it was time for him to die and pay for his ‘sins’ did he realise how wrong he was, but it was too late for him and thus both fear and pity is felt by the audience or reader of this play.

Within Doctor Faustus, Marlowe showed a renaissance man of curiosity and intelligence as a protagonist, Faustus, who is also a tragic hero. In the play, Faustus tries hard to go against human limitations formulated in medieval Christian tradition and he sells his soul to the devil for more knowledge which is an ancient motif found within Christian Folklore (Rahman, 2015: 23).

Faustus, in his first speech, rejects medicine and law which were common studies in the renaissance era to do, for ‘metaphysics of magicians’ also known as studies of the occult which is an untested and experimental field of study. This field of study was also considered to be wrong by the Catholic Christian religion that was prominent at the time. Faustus rejected organised control, order and blessedness. Instead he chose atomistic wilfulness, anarchy and despair (Green, 1946: 277). Faustus said within his first speech the following words as written by Marlowe (1994: 4): “These metaphysics of magicians and necromantic books are heavenly; Lines, circles, scenes, letters, and characters, ay, these are those that Faustus most desires”.

According to Demers (1971: 74 – 75), Faustus represents a mortal man who looked upon his rescue and escape in a way unlike the tragic heroes who had some form of morality. Having decided that everyone sins and therefore must sin, Faustus disregards death and the ultimate judgement of God. Faustus summoned a demon also described as a devil but not Lucifer himself, Mephistophilis in order to make a deal with the devil for ultimate knowledge and to be able to learn more about metaphysics as he previously said he most desires. After he summons Mephistophilis he asks him to serve and obey him, but Mephistophilis rejects this offer saying he is under the command of his master Lucifer, but he will otherwise give Faustus what he pleases in turn for Faustus’ soul for Lucifer which he will come and retrieve when his time is over. Mephistophilis said the following to Faustus before the deal has officially been made and Faustus’ soul signed over as written by Marlowe (1994: 20): “Then Faustus, stab thy arm courageously. And bind thy soul that at some certain day great Lucifer may claim it as his own; and then be thou as great as Lucifer”.

The protagonist of Doctor Faustus, Faustus has been considered to have been extremely foolish and irresponsible, but never truly criminal in his endeavours. As a tragic hero, Faustus’ insubordinate defiant pride is the main obstacle in the way of his potential return to grace (Campbell, 1952: 220 – 222). Before it is Faustus’ time to go, some scholars show up and ask him what ails him and he tells them the following as written by Marlowe (1994: 53): “But Faustus’ offences can never be pardoned: the serpent that tempted Eve may be sav’d, but not Faustus. Ah, gentlemen, hear me with patience, and tremble not at my speeches! Though my heart pants and quivers to remember that I have been a student here these thirty years, oh, would I had never seen Wittenberg, never read book! And wat wonders I have done, all Germany can witness, yea, the world; for which Faustus hath lost both Germany and the world, yea Heaven itself, Heaven, the seat of God, the throne of the blessed, the kingdom of joy; and must remain in hell for ever, hell, ah, hell, for ever! Sweet friends! what shall become of Faustus being in hell for ever?”.

Faustus had the chance to redeem himself and repent for his sins and still be saved by the mercy of God, but he felt as if though he was not worthy and had to face what was coming to him even though the scholars that was with him in his last hours told him that if he called upon God he would probably have been saved.

After watching or reading Doctor Faustus, the audience or reader feel fearful because of the lesson the play teaches us, pity is also experienced and felt towards the protagonist, Faustus, because it seems as if though his punishment outweighs his crime. Faustus realised he was wrong in his pursuit of knowledge and power and he still goes to hell for it in the end.

Tragedy and the tragic hero as explained by Aristotle evokes both pity and fear in the audience or reader, has misfortune of some sort that is usually a result of personal failure of the protagonist, and has a moral or value system undertone underlying the play. All of these elements were present in the two chosen texts, Richard II by William Shakespeare and Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, it has also been examined and discussed. This was both brilliant plays to use with regard to the topic of the Aristotelian tragedy and the tragic hero. Not only has these elements mentioned above been discussed, but some history was given on the Renaissance era as well and some history of tragedies as a unique form of literature. The two of these plays made me re-evaluate the way in which society and people strive for more knowledge and more power without thinking of what they are giving up for it, or the fact that they may have to face punishment for their endeavours at some point or another. The lesson taught within these tragedies is to always work hard, be humble and be a good person.






Campbell, L.B., 1952, Doctor Faustus: A Case of   Conscience, PMLA, 67 (2): 219 – 239.

Demers, P., 1971, Christopher Marlowe and His Use         of Morality Tradition, date viewed 13 April 2017,             from      016/1/fulltext.pdf.

Elliott, J.R., 1968, History and Tragedy in Richard II,          Studies in English Literature 1500 – 1900, 8 (2):            253 – 271.

Franco, T.M., 2008, Shakespeare’s Richard II:        Machiavelli for the Good of England, date viewed            13 April 2017, from      401/71493/000000274.sbu.pdf?sequence=3.

Green, C., 1946, Doctor Faustus: Tragedy of           Individualism, Science and Society, 10 (3): 275 –     283.

Haupt, G.E., 1973, A Note on the Tragic Flaw and Causation in Shakespearean Tragedy,         Interpretations, 5 (1): 20 – 32.

Marlowe. C., 1994, Doctor Faustus, Dover   Publications: New York.

Noor, F., 2015, Assignment of Criticism, date viewed         23 April 2017, from       elements-of-tragedy.

Pincombe, M., 2013, English Renaissance tragedy:           theories and antecedents, in: McEachorn, C., (ed.),   The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean            Tragedy,  2nd Edition, Cambridge University Press,   pp. 3 – 16.

Rahman, M., 2015, Evolution of the Tragic Hero: A            Shift from God to Man, date viewed 13 April 2017,        from      dle/10361/5014/final.pdf;sequence=1.

Reeves, C.H., 1952, The Aristotelian Concept of the          Tragic Hero, The American Journal of Philosophy, 73 (2): 172 – 188.

Shakespeare, W., 1986, William Shakespeare The            Comedies and The Histories, Cambridge University      Press: London.

Stow, G.B., 1999, Stubbs, Steel, and Richard II as             Insane: The Origin and Evolution of an English     Historiographical Myth, Proceedings of the         American Philosophical Society, 143 (4): 601 –    638.

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A Work in Progress

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while, I have been extremely busy. I have started my studies, finished my first assignment and started researching for ideas for my research paper for my honors year.

I decided on doing Gothic literature, other than than nothing specific. I have to decide for myself what I want to do with regard to this genre as well as what texts I want to use for it. Unfortunately we are not allowed to use any of our prescribed books from this year so I couldn’t use the classic, Dracula by Bram Stoker, but I still have great texts to use which I have officially decided on.

Identifying the Gothic Elements Within Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice.


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What Can I Do?

I started this blog for a reason, to get my writing out there in the world, the only problem is that I do not know what to write about and I do not want to only write some of my old poems here, besides a friend anyway has 2 of my 3 poetry books that she still wants to read through.

I could write reviews on books I have read, but it wouldn’t be very long and also, I do not always read the ‘mainstream’ books out there that everyone is reading at this specific point in time. Other more popular books I have read has been some time ago, so is it still relevant to write about it and review it?

I guess I can write some articles, but what do I write about? The ‘big’ topics are usually: sex, religion and politics. I have no problem writing about sex and gender, my thesis was with regard to that. Religion is interesting but what exactly do I write about with regard to religion? Comparison studies or what? And then there is politics, I just honestly do not want to write about that, there is so much political drama all over the world right now, suicide bombers, genocide, farm murders, Trump, Zuma and all that other topics that make everyone just go completely bonkers. So no thanks, I do not want to write about politics, especially not in my country… I will probably get in trouble if i state my opinion about everything that is going on.

So I guess why I wrote this blog entry, is for 2 reasons: Firstly, just to finally write something again; Secondly, to ask whoever is following my blog or randomly reading this now to give me some ideas, anything you want to know I can go do some research about and write here, or if you like my poetry I will write more, tell me if you want to see movie or book reviews or even short stories or random updates about my week.

Please drop a comment below if you can think about anything 🙂

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My Studies at UNISA, University of South Africa

This is just a random post I am making to say a little about what my studies are about this year. I am doing my Honours in English Studies at UNISA, and my subjects are following:

  • Intersections: Race, Class, and Gender: This is an interesting subject looking at a few different topics and themes that are often present in literature and with my 3 assignments I have for this subject I have an assignment on each of the topics mentioned within the name of the subject. I have a big list of prescribed books to choose from when implementing them with regard to each topic, something I have done in previous studies.
  • Research Paper/Thesis: I initially had 35 topics to choose from and I have narrowed it down to more or less 1o that I am interested in. I have not yet chosen a specific topic but I have looked at what literature fits within these different categories and which of those I have which makes the ultimate choice that much easier.
  • The English Heritage: With this subject we learn about English literature and it’s history, again we have 3 assignments and for the first one we had to choose between the Medieval or  Renaissance periods, I chose Renaissance because of Shakespeare, I love the guy. For my second assignment we could choose either the Romantic or Victorian period or one of the above which we did not choose for the first assignment, I chose Victorian because I found this period fascinating. For the third assignment we can choose another question on either of the periods I already did, but a question I have not yet chosen to do. We have several prescribed books for this subject to choose from for topics and some they specify which books we need to do for a specific question.
  • Popular Culture and the Practices of Reception: Once again a very interesting subject, the assignments are just a little weird for me but hey, it is about popular culture after all. My first assignment is basically about a zombie movie, my second assignment about fashion and the third is about music videos, one of which is ‘Anaconda’ by Nicki Minaj, an assignment about booty! This is something I have never encountered with regard to my studies before, but this could be an interesting new learning experience.
  • Africa Text and Territories: Not sure what This is about exactly but I have a rough idea, I am only doing this next year though, because I couldn’t apply for it this year after I dropped Decoloniality as a subject.

I think this year’s studies will be different to previous years in many ways other than the fact that it is for an Honours degree and not a normal BA degree. The methods of studying for this, the assignments and discussions is all very different and interesting. I am both excited and nervous for my studies at UNISA this year. Just keep your fingers crossed for me that I do good and pass everything I need to pass.

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Before it Started

Fate, destiny, meant to be

All this you made me believe

You gave me hope, I dared to trust

Everything you said to me

Beyond what I have ever heard or felt before

I was on the edge of giving up

Then you came along and took my hand, stole my heart

But now it is all over, before it started

Making me wonder if it was but a game

Conclusion made, love is bullshit.

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The Animal is Free

Everyone has a dark side

Animalistic when push comes to show

Some be a wolf, dragon, lion, panther

You might be a lunatic

You might be a hunter

You’ve never been prey

You run, try to hide, get away

Acting like prey, run for freedom

You’re running from yourself

The hunter becomes the hunted

When the darkness takes over

Run for your life, stumble and fall

Devoured by the darkness inside

Taking over, body and soul

Eyes open in a strange place

The change has occurred

The animal sniffs the air

Blood in the wind, smell of flesh

The kill is fresh, deliciously bloody

Taste the innocence which used to be

Something you will never again be

Because the animal is alive and free.

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