For my students…
Please browse and familiarize.
For my students…
Please browse and familiarize.
Two members of my Lower 6th class surprised me last week by announcing that they had been recording conversations about our set texts as a revision model. I am so pleased.
I hope they are useful. I would be happy to post responses if anyone has them…
I will share them below as they appear:
Tom and Karan on Jerusalem and Hypocrisy (among other things)
Due to a long term absentee, I am placing recordings from my Yr 13 lessons here. All are welcome to use them, thought they are aimed at a specific audience!
The presentations were designed to explore an idea and to engage with discussion – they are not essays in oral form.
Amal on Feminism:
(incomplete- the battery ran out!)
Harry on masculinity
I found this on the board when I arrived to teach this morning….
This is an essay seminar on Jerusalem for OCR AS level English Literature. I think it is excellent and warmly offer it to anyone teaching the text as a basis for discussion.
The transcript is here:
Year 13 work for download relating to Nora and control in A Doll’s House
I have asked students to write on the topic of the pastoral in the play as an exploration and context exercise. I append 2 essays here for critique and comment. One does lose itself a little when discussing the possible Greek antecedents of Johnny and is a little confused re Phaedra in MSND, but for essays in the lower 6th, I find these impressive and interesting. For their privacy, I have not named the students, but H and A know who they are!
Consider the presentation of the Pastoral in ‘Jerusalem’
In Jez Butterworth’s modern interpretation of a Satyr play, the pastoral can be considered in many different themes. The audience can use ‘Johnny’s’ frequent medieval references as a notion for a nostalgic look on an idyllic past, as well as the references to ‘Rooster’s wood’ signifying a longing for refuge in a rural paradise, furthermore the ‘feral’ nature of ‘Rooster’ also highlights the differences between social and natural law. Finally, we can view the pastoral as a celebration of life that is free from social constraints by interpreting the nature of the play itself; it is a form of satyr play that were often displayed at pagan festivals to celebrate an auspicious occasion thus showing the entire play may be a comment which symbolises the author’s views on the pastoral.
The pastoral can be considered in the play if we explore the idea that Johnny’s constant references to medieval England create an idea of nostalgia for n idealist past. Johnny is often referred to as an ‘ogre’ and is fixated with stories about ‘giants’ and other medieval fables such as the construction of Stonehenge as well as owning an ‘old Wessex flag’ with the play celebrating St Georges day. For example Johnny says, “I once met a giant that built Stonehenge.” The short sentence shows that Johnny is trying to convince people that his story is reality, there is no question about whether it is true or not, it is just a fact. When others try to question him about it he further justifies that he is correct with more presumed lies until they eventually believe that Johnny is telling the truth. He has essentially hypnotised them into believing what he does. This causes parallels to be drawn from Merlin’s tale of how Stonehenge came into existence; that Giants had taken these stones from Africa and built them in a circle in Ireland, Merlin then fought the giants for these stones, won, and floated them across the sea and recreated the healing circle near Salisbury. Johnny’s claim that he ‘met a giant’ shows how connotations can be made that compare Johnny to Merlin; they both convince people of things which probably did not happen, they both seem to see and interact with mythical creatures and they both seem to reject social law as Johnny lives in a caravan and we can presume is a subsistence farmer (as well as a drug dealer), and Merlin practised magic which was outlawed at the time, yet both men seem to be outwitting the law. Johnny’s very acceptance of breaking the law also brings a sense of nostalgia; he aggressively makes the threat “I’ve been here…since before you were born. I’m heavy stone, me. You try and pick me up, I’ll break your spine.” His reference to being a presence ‘before you were born’ coupled with him referring to himself as ‘heavy stone’ further links back to Stonehenge. It seems as if Johnny represents the idea that no one knows exactly how long he has been around, and exactly what he does but as he has been around for so long he must have some purpose in society however obscure and therefore we should leave him as he is, a common way which people of the medieval era would treat outcasts of society. Perhaps the reader is making a comment, that by allowing one to do what they wish to do with their life, if they are not harming others than they should be allowed to do so without the government or ruler intruding on their opaque nature. The reference to Johnny’s obscure and unusual nature is further shown by his name ‘Johnny Byron’, he shares the same surname as the infamous Lord Byron. Educated at harrow school the womaniser was renowned for his eccentricities and partaking in events that affected him or England in almost no regard, he became involved with them because he wanted to rather than out of necessity. For example he died fighting alongside the Greek Insurgents against the Ottoman Empire, he had a daughter with his half sister and had an affair with the wife of the Italian Noble man who allowed him to stay with them when he had gone bankrupt as a result of his separation from his wife, which was again due to another scandalous affair with the wife of an English nobleman. Lord Byron clearly showed no regard for the law or had any grace when regarding societal etiquette, however he was still hailed as a national hero because of his poetry. The reader’s comparison between Johnny and his name sake Lord Byron could explore the author’s comment on the pastoral, perhaps Butterworth would like to return to a time where people could live according to their own moral codes whilst rejecting societies, and yet still be praised for their actions; rather the opposite to how Johnny is perceived. He follows his own moral codes yet is criticised and used as a scape goat for any wrong doing in society, even if his wrong doing are morally justifiable. This shows that the author considers the pastoral by suggesting, in the past people who were outcasts of society or slightly different such as Merlin or Lord Byron were celebrated rather than scrutinised for their actions. Perhaps the component of the pastoral that is a nostalgic look on an idyllic past, in this instance would be to ensure that people like Johnny are no longer scrutinised and made a societal scapegoat just because they live their life in accordance with a different set of laws.
Another method in which Butterworth allows the audience to consider the pastoral is by exploring “Rooster’s” longing for refuge in a rural paradise. Johnny lives in a caravan in what he ‘declares…is called Rooster’s wood’, the audience can think of the ‘wood’ as being part of Johnny’s rural refuge where he has created his own paradise where magical things happen in relation to the Merlin-esque ‘ogre’. One can assume some of the ‘feral’ things that happen in ‘Rooster’s wood’ include the ‘drinking, smoking, pilling…and shagging too’. All of these things in some form allow the people involved to escapes the realities of life and be absorbed into the mysterious yet artificial world that is ‘Rooster’s wood’. This wonder and mystery links in with 19th century German literature when writers such as Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were writing fictitious tales that include Snow White, Hansel and Gretel as well as Sleeping Beauty. All of these stories included wondrous, gruesome and supernatural events occurring in forests. For example in original version of Sleeping Beauty, the princess is left in the ‘wood’ unconscious, the prince then rapes her and returns home and marries, nine months later the princess regains consciousness gives birth to the prince’s bastard children, when the prince hears of this he burns his wife alive (after she tried to kill and eat his illegitimate children) so he can reunite with the princess. Another example is the poisoned apple Snow White eats which she finds in the forest, the mystery and wonder of her dwarf friends as well as (in the original version) her evil mother who sends a huntsman to return Snow White’s liver and lungs (which she will then eat) to ensure she has been killed. These stories were designed to give a 19th century adult audience a diversion from their lives and divulge into the mystery and wonder of a rural wonderland. Links between the forest and “Rooster’s wood’ which demonstrate links between the pastoral also include the specifically chosen name “Phaedra” despite being a woman steeped in Greek Mythology, the name was also used by William Shakespeare in his 1605 Comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The character is a fairy who lives in the ‘wood’s’, and she plots and schemes to cause confusion about love between key characters in the play. Her name means bright, however this can be seen as ironic as if anything she provides no light in uncovering the truth about what is happening in the play, this is true for A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Jerusalem, instead she is rather an opportunistic temptress. She can be seen as this because in Jerusalem one could argue that she seeks refuge with Johnny is “Rooster’s wood” because she does not want to face the reality of her real life with her supposedly abusive step father Troy and would rather seek the help and pastoral care of Johnny because it easier than going to the correct authorities and she has access to ‘spliffs…whizz…and the rest of it’. She can be compared to a snake such as Ka in Rudyard’s Kipling ‘The Jungle book” who tries to tempt Mogli into being eaten by her using her hypnotic forest powers, further linking back to the enigmatic and deceptive ‘wood’. She can also represents the snake in the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible, who caused them to pick the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden (another magical and unprecedented ‘wood’). All of these stories show that the ‘wood’ is a place where innocence is lost and children learn valuable life lessons. Perhaps Butterworth’s view on the pastoral being a rural refuge and paradise is more a comment on it being a paradise from urban problems, which we create with things such as work and mortgages. Rather it is place where humans can find refuge from these trivial and man made problems (be it in a book describing a wood, or a physical wood) by testing the laws of nature (such as seeing how the human body will react to drugs in the 21st century or the tales of the 18th and 19th century literature). Therefore ‘Rooster’s wood’ may not denote a rural paradise, rather it is a metaphor for the magical things that happen within a ‘wood’ which makes some of the audience feel safe and is their and certainly Johnny’s idea of a rural paradise.
Butterworth may also consider the pastoral by using Johnny’s ‘feral’ nature to accentuate the differences between social and natural law or civilisation and savagery. At the beginning of Act 1 Johhny is does the following things “…sticks his head in the trough…fishes around for an egg…lets out a long, feral bellow from the centre of the earth.” The verbs that are used to describe his actions such as ‘sticks’ and ‘fishes’ denote actions that have a sense of inaccuracy or uncertainty and that he does them in hope of a result, rather like what an animal would do when hunting. The use of ‘bellow’ further likens his action to that of a ‘feral’ animal. This clearly shows that Johnny has untamed traits and the audience can also see this when we look at his lifestyle, he lives in a ‘caravan’ selling ‘spliffs…and whizz’ to underage children, whilst having very little to do with his son ‘Marky’ and using his days to spite the council and promoting his ideas to ‘fuck the new estate’ so that he can remain in ‘Rooster’s Wood’. Johnny is clearly a man of nature, and he can also be considered a leader by the ‘rats’ who follow him around, perhaps due to his superhuman abilities the audience may even think of him as a potential god of the wild with his ‘rats’ being considered as acolytes. From this parallels and comparisons can be drawn between Johnny and the Greek God of hunting and nature called Pan (whose name is a derivative of the verb to pasture). Parallels which are observed include: Firstly, Pan ruled over a mystical land called Arcadia which was a woodland utopia where mythological beings such as nymphs lived, Johnny rules over ‘Rooster’s wood’ and allows children to experience magical hallucinations by giving them drugs and alcohol. Secondly, Pan often perused nymphs in order to seduce them, Johnny has a following of several young girls, a wife, ‘red in the face…Kelly Weatherly’ and most other women in Flintlock as well as Phaedra. Thirdly, Pan if half goat and his animalistic feature are easily observable, Johnny although not physically an animal, can be portrayed as an animal in the mannerisms and etiquette which he uses to convey himself. Next, Pan ruled Arcadia on behalf of Zeus (the King of the Gods) and was technically never entirely in charge, the same can be said for Johnny as despite what he may think and say, the council hold authority over ‘Rooster’s wood’. Furthermore pan was considered the God of the wild, and he would help to make land and animals fertile so could be considered as an unorthodox father to the lands, Johnny although not a father to his ‘rats’ can be considered as an unorthodox father as he guides them about what to do in life albeit if it is regarding use of alcohol and drugs. Also, Pan was the god of rustic music and Johnny likes playing music and causing a ‘fracas’. Finally, Pan was often considered ‘feral’ and enjoyed causing havoc and Johnny does the same as shown by his ‘rural display’ when he slaughtered a pig with a ‘flair gun’. After the reader has considered and accepted all of these similarities they may accept that Johnny is a metaphor to shows the differences between natural law (which the audience would consider as savagery) and social law (what the audience would classify as civil), however if one were to consider the meaning of the poem Jerusalem by William Blake the audience may arrive at another conclusion to what the author views as the pastoral. The poem states “And did those feet in ancient time Walk upon England’s mountains green…And was Jerusalem builded here Among these dark satanic mills?” This shows that Blake is considering the new building of factories to be bad or savage as he describes it as ‘satanic’ but England’s countryside is lush and verdant and this is what a civilization and social law should be founded upon. Perhaps Butterworth is suggesting that although the audience may consider Johnny to be barbaric, uncivilized and an enforcer of natural law perhaps if we review the situation from Johnny’s perspective we can see that he feels this new civilization with city dwellers and ‘phones’ (that Johnny can not work out how to use, further showing his dislike of modernity) is ‘satanic’ and barbaric, and he wants to revert to the days when life was more simple. The author may feel that modern civilization is barbaric, and ancient rural civilization was the height conformity with social law. Butterworth’s view on the pastoral could perhaps be looking back on the differences between natural law and social law but with a reversed perspective to that of most of the audience.
Finally, Butterworth may consider the pastoral to be a celebration of life free from social constraints. He shows this by using the nature of his play to aid his argument; the play is in a Satyr form, which often consists of a tragi-comedic plot with bawdy and raunchy jokes with elements of sadness. The ancient Greeks in 500BCE first used this form of play and can therefore be described as a pagan ritual; it was often used to celebrate things such as the time of the harvest or the coming of spring. These plays often included mythical creatures and heroes. The audience can once again draw parallels between Jerusalem and the original form of Greek Satyr plays as the plot of the modern Satyr is similar to that of a Greek Satyr and Johnny can also be seen as a mythological hero. Johnny can be considered a mythological hero because: he meets mythological creatures for example when he “once met a giant who built Stonehenge”, rather like when Theseus met the minatory. Next, he escapes from captivity when he “had a run in with four Nigerians…and I escaped” as he got ‘’thinner and thinner…I didn’t swallow nothing”, this is reminiscent of Jason and the Argonauts when they met the Cyclops and cunningly escaped. Then Johnny is said to have cheated death when ginger explains, “they pronounce him dead…He walks it off” rather like when Hercules cheated death at the hands of the Nemean lion. Johnny is also said to have had a magical birth a “rare blood” rather like Achilles who had a magical Nymph birth and a magical gift. Furthermore, Byron is said to enter the enemies lair and despoil their women for example when the council (Byron’s enemies) are complaining about him he says “I snuck in…she’s up there saying Johnny Byron’s a filthy menace…I swear to Christ I was shagging her only last June”, this is reminiscent of what war heroes such as Alexander of Macedon would have done when they conquered their enemies, and was an accepted practice of the age. Finally Byron is made to appear super-human as he drinks a concoction made of ‘half a bottle of vodka…milk’ and ‘eggs’ taken from the ‘chicken coop’ and ‘downs it in one’ then gives a ‘long, feral bellow from the center of the earth’. One would think that a mixture of this would probably kill most people, but Byron doesn’t seem to be affected, this coupled with the ‘feral’ nature of the ‘bellow’ makes him seem as if he is a cross between an animal and a man. All of these feature combined make Byron appear as if he is a hero, which raises the question in the audience that perhaps Johnny is a hero in his own unorthodox manner. It allows the audience to perceive Johnny in a new manner, as he does save Phaedra from Troy, and act as a guardian to his ‘rats’ so perhaps Johnny is a hero. The audience then remembers that the heroes in Greek Mythology were often celebrated in forms such as Satyr plays during pagan festivals. It makes the audience think that perhaps Butterworth comment on the pastoral is that we should celebrate people for who they are according to what they do and how they help, regardless of how they fit in to the social hierarchy that is society, his point could be that he pastoral is a celebration of life free from social constraints, and he uses the play as an anecdote to explore this notion.
To conclude the presentation of the pastoral is considered in many ways in Butterworth’s play ‘Jerusalem’, however it is the connotations behind the initial views of the author that allow the audience to truly understand the full presentation of the pastoral in the play.
CONSIDER THE PRESENTATION OF THE PASTORAL IN JERUSALEM
At the heart of Jez Butterworth’s play ‘Jerusalem’ is a forest, and what goes on within it. The idea of the pastoral goes back to ancient Greece and conveys the idea about going back to nature. This thought in itself incorporates ideas of nostalgia, refuge and a time without modernity. In the world of ‘Jerusalem’ and our world, it seems that the countryside is under threat from urbanisation, and in the play it is under threat from the “New Estate.” In the play the pastoral can be seen as something that was glorious, but is being destroyed with dire consequences. Alternately, it is also presented as a wondrous land where many mythical and magical creatures reside, as well as a safe haven for adolescents and Johnny Byron himself.
The first words that are heard in the play are that of Phaedra, who purely and innocently sings about the “mountains green” and “pleasant pastures” of England. Here, the pastoral can mean going back in time, to nature, where the world was far more wondrous than it was today, in those “ancient” times. The prologue sets the tone for the first act; carrying the theme that life was better in the old days, when there were beautiful sights to be seen. It immediately makes the audience identify Fawcett and Parsons as villains, as they wish to disturb what is left of the past, and the pastoral, which is pure and divine. After losing the Garden of Eden, it became a lost unobtainable past for Adam and Eve, much like countryside is for us today. However, some characters in the play, such as the Professor, remember the past and drinks with Johnny to “St George” and the “Lost Gods of England.” It is their memory and love of the pastoral that brings Johnny and the Professor together here, despite their different realities and generations. They drink to an unobtainable, better past, which they both knew existed. This acts as something the two characters share. It appears that for the characters, the pastoral is a different country or state of mind, and is also a time when things were better and a great deal easier. Ginger talks about the fair when he was a “boy” and remembers hoofing a man “in the bollocks,” and if he faltered he would win a “pound.” Lee remarks that this was “Simple. Pure,” and these two words can be used to describe the past, as it fits with the theme of the past being better than the world we have today, even in the smallest of cases. Even for Wesley and Johnny, the past is a much more pleasant place, due to their “summer of love.” At first Wesley tries to disassociate himself from the past, as if ashamed of it, but is brought back into it by Johnny. There is a moment in which “they remember” the past fondly, and it again reinforces the idea that the pastoral is used to represent a much happier, easier past for all the characters, and that it is now being disturbed. The two enjoy casting their mind back into the past, as for them it was a time of simple, uncomplicated happiness, unlike the world they live in today. Dawn notes that Byron is “still here,” in the forest, and it could be argued that Johnny doesn’t move because he is still clinging onto the old days, and living in the woodland is the closest he will get to those days ever repeating, as the fonder memories of the easier, simple days all lie in the past.
It is also abundantly clear that our time with the pastoral is presented as something that is ending, and coming to a dramatic, tragic close. The “dark satanic-” mills are commonly seen to allude to the Industrial Revolution, from Blake’s perspective, and here can be applied to the expansion of the New Estate and the destruction of the English countryside. It is here that Phaedra is interrupted, as if Johnny wishes not hear of the idea, and wishes to stamp it out. Due to this abrupt end, the idea does not carry through the whole act, until the entry of “Kennet and Avon Council,” in the form of Fawcett and Parsons. Fawcett is trying to flush and force out Johnny from his caravan, and therefore eliminate the remaining country for purposes of the New Estate. The New Estate links to the idea of transience, the inevitable loss of paradise due to change and decay, as the countryside is being destroyed. It appears that the English landscape is being trampled on, and the culture of the countryside with it. The idea of time also comes into this, as it is clear that the time we have with the pastoral is limited, due to the length of the play itself, as well as the time in the play Johnny has to prepare for the council. In this sense, the pastoral is presented as something that is tragic, within a play that is a tragedy. Liebler, author of ‘Shakespeare’s Festive Tragedy’ writes that ‘tragedy performs an uncontrollable breakage at great expense despite human efforts.’ It is Johnny who is trying to stop the breaking up of the pastoral, and he who is trying to stop our time ending with it, although Phaedra does remind him in act three that “time is running out,” a fact that he is solemnly aware of.
Clearly, our time with the pastoral is ending, and although the characters may not see it for themselves, it is clear to the audience that this is an awful thing. This leads to the fair and ideas about identity. On seeing Johnny’s home in the opening minutes of act one, Parsons remarks, “it’s a lovely spot.” It is terrible that we could lose this spot to council flats, yet the council doesn’t think of this, as their priority is to their work, and for Fawcett, ensuring that she does her job correctly. Paul Kingsnorth, who wrote the programme notes for ‘Jerusalem’ also discussed the idea of identity, referring the Union of Scotland and England n 1707, creating Great Britain. He suggests that the individual identity of the countries was lost, and this loss of identity can be seen in the play, as we are “losing sight of who we are.” This can be seen in the context of the fair, and especially in the idea of the May Queen, which is an idea that has stemmed from the Middle Ages. Pea is adamant that Phaedra will “turn up” as she “has to,” as without her, the traditional succession of the May Queen is lost, and a piece of Fintock’s identity is lost also. The loss of the pastoral, also extends to the “Men in Black II” and “X Factor” floats at the fair. It appears that the pastoral is no longer a refuge from modernity, as our cultural identity is being lost through these floats. In”1978” Ginger claims Johnny “was” the Flintock Fair, and whether this be true or not, the group feels that the identity of the fair has been lost as the “Council put a stop to it.” The italics emphasise the importance of Johnny to the community, and provides reason for Johnny’s hatred for the council and fond nostalgic moments. As the fair has changed, it has become “shit on toast,” as its identity has been lost, and this case, its identity was the “daredevil” Johnny Byron. It is due to the ending of the British countryside and the pastoral that ideas about the fair and Phaedra follow, as the old identity of Flintock has been destroyed and replaced with a modern world.
The destruction of the forest could also mean the loss of a mythical place, which harbours terrifying creatures. Much like ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream’ the pastoral setting allows for ideas and hints towards mythical and magical creatures in the forest. At the start of act two, following Davey’s “Werewolf” story Phaedra sings ‘The Werewolf’ by Barry Dransfield. This provides a darker tone to act two, as it is clear that the forest could be home to vicious predators, who, to us, take the form of human beings. There is no clarity as to whom the Werewolf represents, but it is an idea that should not be ignored in such a mythical setting. Johnny is also referred to as an “ogre” and “free troll” at the end of the garden. Johnny does not have the form of a troll, but certainly does have some traits to fit the idea as he has been living in his caravan, and has not moved, for many years. This begins to open up the idea that Johnny is the mythical figure hiding in the pastoral setting as comparisons can be drawn between him and many mythical characters, most notable the Lord of “misrule,” Pan. In classical Greece he was the God of nature, and was shown to be riotous and in the company of nymphs and music. He has his group of “onlookers” that help him, and it is his unruliness the council wishes to tidy up, as they wish to reclaim a positive view of Englishness. Again, the council threatens to destroy the pastoral and the mythical inhabitants within it.
The pastoral is also presented as a wondrous and magical place, which appears more light-hearted than the dark mythical creatures it could harbour. The professor feels that nature in itself is magical, as he speaks of the “wild garlic,” “bluebells” and “blossoms” in a way that other characters don’t, as he greatly appreciates the natural pastoral world for what it is. To him, nature is enchanting, and it excites him to think that “summer has begun.” The contrast of the darkness of the mythical and joyousness of the magical is a thought provoking one, and it demonstrates to the audience the vast amount of life that could exist in the forest, and in the pastoral.
As it is sheltered by trees and woodland the pastoral is also seen as a safe place for adolescents and Johnny himself. As they are safely hidden away and concealed from the world they are separate from it, and have their own space to do as they will (much like Titania and Oberon from ‘A Midsummer Nights Dream). “Rooster’s Wood” is Johnny’s land, in which he feels safe and secure. As his home and solace is being threatened, Johnny defiantly stands up to the council, and appears to defend it from the threat of contemporary England. The pastoral keeps Johnny safe, as Johnny keeps the pastoral safe also. They appear to be two forces or beings that need and depend on one another, as if one were to be lost, the life of the other would dramatically change in a negative way (from their respective perspectives). Wesley later calls Johnny’s morals into question, as at his “Gathering” he can be seen giving drugs to people such as Ginger’s “Little sister Rosie.” Johnny claims he is protecting the teenagers, as they can’t be “wandering around at night pissed.” Johnny appears to be kept safe by the forest, and he keeps adolescents safe. He argues that at least in the caravan they are warm and dry, making the pastoral appear as a safe haven.
Primarily the pastoral is presented as something that was glorious and is now being lost. This then leads to a loss of identity for Flintock as well as its individual characters. However, the pastoral can also be interpreted and seen as a more magical and mythical place, and the extent of this mystery cannot be quantified or known, as our time with the pastoral is always ending. The evolution and the progression of the pastoral is a key force that drives the play, and is what calls Johnny Byron to arms, highlighting its importance.
Studying Butterworth’s Jerusalem in yr 12, I am trying to engage my class in the idea of sharing independent work… we have no formal class blog as yet and i am using the blog feature on our Firefly VLE. Here is a sample…
Use this space to explore the nature of Englishness: NIMBYism, Xenophobia, jingoism, aggression, pride in heritage, love of the country, patriotism… Nothing is irrelevant… read widely and post.
By all means start here, but move beyond! https://jwpblog.wordpress.com/tag/jerusalem/
I’ve done a bit of research on NIMByism
NIMBY: This is an acronym for ‘not in my back yard’
It is defined as – Opposition from residents to a new development in the local area
Could this imply that it is ‘English’ to only actively oppose developments that are taking place on our doorstep and not to others? It may appear selfish, or understandable as if we are not effected, why should we get involved? It could be seen as a good thing as British people are prepared to protect what they feel is their property, and this could come under ‘Englishness.’
An example of this comes from this article –https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/26/fields-england-postwar-countryside-englishness
Andrew Motion feels the fields of old England are being lost, as houses are being built on the land. He feels that Englishness lies in the traditional countryside and that it is being lost.
He feels the countryside should be preserved as it quintessentially represents Britain and that it is our heritage, which he is protecting, as he does not want it to be destroyed. It appears that he feels he is being ‘English’ by opposing the loss of our iconic British countryside.
Following on from our discussion today, we could say that our local areas would be ‘damaged’ if travellers moved there, if they drop litter, or if they are unsociable, which is why people would not appreciate it. This is another example of NIMByism.
The faded cross of St George on the curtain at the beginning of ‘Jerusalem’ represents this pride in our heritage and suggests that it is fading but in a different circumstance to what Andrew Motion is proposing, showing that NIMByism and pride don’t mean the same thing for everyone.
Hope this was helpful… part of me isn’t sure that I know what I’m writing about
I looked into the Patriotism side of things, and there are many instances in sport (football being the most common as well as infrequent and smaller rugby incidences) that show national fans causing trouble and violently clashing with police or other national fans. These cases often end in arrests, hospitalisations and banishment from the game. Several articles blame excessive drinking and peer pressure, while others say there has been a reoccurring issue through the history of football with English fans causing violence.
Examples of this nature include:
Perhaps english fans are violent because they want to proudly display their patriotism and ‘englishness’ to their opponents, and they think by being involved in violent clashes they are defending their country’s honour against ‘foreigners’. However this would lead to another possibility that football hooliganism has become and integral part of english sport and as sport can be considered and ‘english’ pass time, the violence, excessive drinking and peer pressure that accompanies it is also an attribute of ‘englishness’.
If this is the case, we can associate this behaviour and begin to understand why characters may act the way they do in the play Jerusalem, such as Rooster standing tall (as if proud) on the front cover, with a suspicious looking cigarette in his mouth. This could suggest he is clearly doing the wrong thing (drugs or in the case of sports fans, being violent) but he is keen to boast his bad habit as it makes him feel important (potentially for the same reason english fans do when displaying their patriotism through violence at a sporting event). Therefore characters could be acting the way they do as they are mirroring the actions of several english sports fans meanwhile demonstrating ‘englishness’.
I’ve decided to look into the pride of heritage we have and the notion that perhaps we are beginning to neglect our culture and heritage.
I was reading an article in The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/09/10/traditions-such-as-christmas-celebrations-will-die-out-unless-pe/) which explores the idea that immigration may be the reason that we are losing our ‘Englishness’.
When you think about it, it’s completely understandable, with so many other religions and cultures that are practised in England is it any wonder that English traditions are put to one side? For example, one community centre called a Christmas tree a “festive tree” so they didn’t cause offence to Muslim or Asian workers. I understand showing respect for someone else’s religion and culture but surely this is taking it too far. Perhaps this is why residents of an area feel unsettled and restless when people of a different ethnicity or religion move into the same area- they don’t like the change.
Like Harpal said, the faded cross of St George in ‘Jerusalem’ demonstrates the pride in our heritage fading and maybe we should be more concerned with losing our heritage than we are at the moment because heritage is so important, especially to a place like Britain.
Hope this was helpful
I did some research on xenophobia and racism and how it relates to the nature of Englishness. During my research I came upon this article http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/racism-after-brexit-attacks-muslims-leave_uk_57766dc8e4b0f7b55795302d
The article talks about the rise in racism after Brexit and that the idea of Englishness is becoming more white and Christian. It also mentions that its more a kind of celebratory racism, as if its in celebration that white England has finally got something. This also demonstrates how violence is a part of Englishness possibly because that the English like to show how proud and defensive they are of their own country even if that means incorporating violence and xenophobic/racist hate crimes. This xenophobic abuse however could be more expressive and about expressing dominance to show how great England is and convey the message that the English don’t want to let other cultures, religions, people etc. significantly impact the English culture and allow others to take its place.
Furthermore the article raises the point that the majority of ethnic minorities and the majority of minority religions would say that they’re British but they wouldn’t say that they’re English. A sort of national identity shift has happened that has given Englishness a white racialised meaning to many people.
Linking all of this to “Jerusalem” we can see this dominant male figure in Johnny “Rooster” Byron where he gets into many fights and is a drug dealer and a habitual drunked. He sort of fits into this mold of the stereotypical example of the violent, xenophobic part of Englishness.
I’ve decided to look at the development of a new type of ‘Englishness’ developing and whether it can really be considered English or whether we are indeed losing sight of what makes actually us English.
The 2011 Census featured 70% of people living in England identifying as English, with the majority of people identifying solely as English rather than British as well. The vast majority of people identifying as English, raises the question, what really causes us to identify as English? In an article written by Tristram Hunt, which calls for Labour to embrace ‘Englishness’, he states a love for our landscape, culture, history, humour and literature are key features of Englishness and for a true appreciation of these features many would agree that you would have to look back and have an understanding of the country’s history. A country described as ‘rebellious, independent and resistant to European Civilisation’ putting emphasis on our sovereignty and the belief that we are a strong, independent nation. This seems especially relevant considering the result of the EU Referendum, in which the majority of the English electorate voted to leave. Looking back through history, this rebellion from the European continent, may correspond with what many see as English due to previous relations with the continent.
“You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.”- Jan Glidewell
In another article written by Tariq Masood it is argued that ‘Englishness’ should not be solely nostalgic. He states basing ‘Englishness’ exclusively on heritage can be seen as ethnic nationalism- Anglo-Saxonism. Indeed, to some ‘Englishness’ is seen as an ethnic label which detracts from multiculturalism, due to the paradigm that an ‘English’ person is white. Perhaps this is due to the nostalgic element of ‘Englishness’ involving focus on time periods where the country was not as ethnically diverse as it is currently and is therefore not representative of England as a country now. Such strong emphasis on heritage can lead to nationalism manifesting itself in xenophobia, a prominent feature after the EU Referendum result. Surely this is outdated looking at the ethnically diverse country England is now and cannot be considered English. Or would it be argued that this problem has only arisen due to being infiltrated by the continent and that such actions are continuing the tradition of rebelling from the continent?
Tariq Masood begins his article by stating Multiculturalism can foster a new kind of Englishness. This new type of Englishness would perhaps be more representative of England as a country now and erode the stigma of “Englishness’” being exclusively white. However, can we really forget how we came to be this great country? While the faded St.Georges cross may represent the country losing sight of what makes it ‘English’ perhaps it can also represent the population finding new and alternative ways to identify as English. That ‘Englishness’ is no longer concentrated on a single figure, giving the appearance that it is fading, while it is actually getting stronger. Or are we in fact losing sight of what is English?
Hope this was useful,
Articles that I used:
I thought what Seb said was interesting; but I do slightly disagree on the idea that Johnny is prominently depicted as an ‘English’ citizen. Although Johnny is written as an intimidating, boisterous drug-abuser, it is important to remember that he is still the definition of an ‘outsider.’
Rejected by society (although not wrongfully), and loathed by his own community, I believe that Johnny represents something other than Englishness. He represents a generation of people, that should be accepted in to an English society, but aren’t. Obviously, the amount of trouble Johnny causes makes him a lot easier to loathe; with violent outbursts, and exhibitions of a horrific nature (think back to the whole ‘pig’ scene), Johnny is justifiably exiled from the rest of the county. However, one cannot help but ask, that should Johnny be born with a purely English identity, would he be frowned upon with such severity by the majority of the town? Does the fact that he has no nationality (and therefore, arguably, no identity), make him easier to judge and despise? And, even in class, were we already judging Johnny by the way he lives as a traveller, even before we’d heard all the horrific stories about him?
Because, if we consider Johnny’s physical appearance, he is a stereotypical Englishman. Even without looking at the front cover of our scripts, we can infer from the nickname “Rooster”, that he is a strong, white man who acts, at times, in an outrageous, and often barbaric manner. Add in the image we have of Rylance (a man with a broad chest and tattoos), and there is no doubt that Johnny does look, and act, like an Englishman. However, the defining conclusion, is that Johnny will never be English, because of this constant lack of identity. Maybe the simple fact that he doesn’t even own a home is key in people almost expelling him from society, and that, in itself, shows you the slightly naïve, and pretentious attitude that’s adopted by the English with regard to foreign adversary.
Overall, I just wanted to add something to this chat which symbolised how I’ve interpreted peoples opinions towards Johnny. Having read Lami and Harpal’s articles, I’ve tried to incorporate typically ‘English’ attitudes in to the context of the play, and this is what I came up with. From what I’ve read so far, Johnny isn’t regarded as a member of the community; the fact that he lives on his own in a wood shows us how isolated and secluded he physically is from the rest of the town. But it was interesting for me to discuss and figure out why (apart from the obvious reasons) he has been exiled from the public, and if his lack of identity has played a big part in that.
I quite agree with what Tom has said here, and I think that Johnny is English literally, but those in the play don’t see him as English as they are too different to him. So in that respect he is an outsider, but whether he deserves to be is debatable. It could be argued that he cares about his friends? He is known for drug use and alcoholism, but that’s not too different from any other person (our age or not), as they just do this kind of thing from behind closed doors, and if it is found out it is usually kept quiet… It’s interesting as they all seem to be in the same boat in some ways, as (after what we read today – St Trinians, X Factor) none of the locals seem to be English – if English means being proud of their heritage. This then raises the question of what is Englishness, and who is English and who is not. St George himself wasn’t English, so again, they all could be in the same boat. Maybe none are truly English at all, and this idea has caused a whole lot of problems for Johnny.
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