Due to COVID-19, our project week has been cancelled. I have been in UWCSEA since 2008 and have been looking forward to project week since grade 1. It was a major disappointment that we were not able to go to project week but I am not the only one which feels this way so I can’t do anything about it. Us students were given a presentation on processing grief which I thought was kind of funny.
I mean hey things didn’t work out in the end with the people in my group so I guess I was saved there. Although I was very excited to share memories on a trip which myself and some friends planned, I have just accepted it. Nothing much I can do.
During the planning stage for project week, I was assigned the role of media coordinator. That has nothing to do with the overall planning of the group so I just decided to help out my group members in any way possible.
My group for Project Week consists of 6 of us, three boys and three girls who as we were all very close friends in general. We initially planned to go to Taiwan for a hiking trip however we were rejected because we were all underaged for the specific trek we wanted to do, next we decided to do a biking trip around Cambodia, however after a meeting with Ms. Toth, the project week manager for our grade, we realised that the trip would be too easy for a lot of us, therefore we came to the final decision of trekking in Cambodia. With a 2am hike to the top of a big hill just to see the sunrise, we thought it was going to be an absolute blast so why not?
Project week planning in general was fairly straight forward as we just had to find accommodation and activities to do which involved the three aspects of CAS, Creativity, Activity and Service which we all already had planned. Once we were approved, we started contacting the local tourism agency and the guides who will be taking us on the trek to see what the costs would be like which after a lot of budgeting, it would be around SG$800 per person (including flights) which was amazing considering we were staying there for almost 6 days.
All we had to do was wait for teachers to say we could book everything and we we’re set.
As of December 2020, I have been working out for about three months now. I would say I have made some decent progress specifically with building my pull strength to do a pullup. Pullups have been something I have always struggled with all in all as I have always had a weak back. Since I used to play basketball, my coaches would always focus mainly on endurance and push strength to be able to play against bigger players. Focusing on mostly pushups, that was something I was pretty good at which made me neglect my back as a whole.
After a couple months of training, I was able to progress to consecutively doing 6-8 pullups in a row which to me is an achievement considering I could barely do a single one in the beginning.
As for the progression of the current weight I am pushing, I have seem to hit a plateau still maxing my squat at 70kg and my bench at 55kg. I think the main issue is the inconsistency I have when it comes to going to the gym. Ever since we have broken up for winter break, I have started to slack off and just relax. I still try to get some sort of workout in by doing cardio, whether it is on the treadmill or in the great outdoors, but that’s the extent I will go to. I have lost some body fat and some weight due to my lowered calorie intake and some cardio although I believe I have lost some muscle within that time period too.
Although Medea reconsiders her plan of murdering her children, she eventually sets in stone her initial plan as she does not want to show weakness. For her, this task is about sheer will power as she does not want her personal emotions ruining her plan. However, this whole plan was created due to her rage against Jason, which is an emotional reaction, but then she refuses to let her emotions towards her children stop her. This shows a sense of hypocrisy, whilst also showing a sense of sheer determination to follow through with her outrageous plan.
Her inner conflict between her maternal side and her murderous intentions is something which she has to face. In order to follow through with her plan, she must close her maternal side and push it to the side just so she can murder her children. In order to commit child homicide, Medea must close herself off to the part of her that is maternal. She rejects the path that includes a possible future with her children in Athens, a safe place she has secured no matter what her crimes. But Medea crosses a point of no return on her inner journey: She will not allow herself to retreat.
Examine Medea’s behaviour with Creon: what strategies does she use to manipulate him?
To manipulate Creon, Medea tends to take advantage of the softer attitude Creon has towards her as he empathises with her. She takes advantage of the fact that Creon also has a daughter which he absolutely cares a lot for and for Medea, she can use this as she is also a younger woman. At the same time, Medea has lost everything which can be seen as sad, although she can use it to gather pity thus getting leniency towards what she wants.
How does Medea’s speech after Creon’s exit give us further insight into her character?
After Creon leaves the scene, we can see that Medea is able to control her emotions in very stressful situations such as exile. By staying composed, she was able to convince Creon to let her stay for another day showing that this strategy works. At the same time, she also shows little emotion when talking about her children showing how much she truly cares, or in this case, doesn’t care about them.
What is the significance of the information the Nurse gives the audience? How does it influence our impressions of Medea’s character before we see her?
The nurse sets the scene for the audience and gives context to better understand the scene. This makes us think about Medea and that maybe she might be overreacting. The nurse portrays her as being overly dramatic comparing her current state, to many things in the past that would be considered worse to where she is at now. This creates the idea that maybe Medea is a “drama queen” as she exaggerates the size of this problem. However, Medea is also human and seems to be a very passionate woman, this is shown in her obsessive nature towards Jason and how much she thought she loved him. Therefore, this creates the initial impression that she might be annoying to talk to as she is overly obsessed with this idea of love and trust towards Jason.
How does The Chorus develop the detail and themes outlined in the Prologue? What dramatic effect is created? How does Medea characterise her suffering to the audience in her initial address?
The characters do not talk to or meet Medea until later on in the scene. The Chorus highlights the idea that Medea is overreacting through the fact that they think Medea should just move on, similar to the nurse, that maybe Medea is just too obsessed with this idea. This creates the effect that we initially would think that Medea is a mess, that Medea cannot get over a man that has done her wrong, through her common depiction of her depressive episode. With her frequent use of saying she wants to die, lack of eating, loathing around, and so on, we would initially think that maybe Medea is struggling to keep hold of herself. However, when she walks out, she looks very well put together contrasting the common idea that she is a “mess”.
Is Atwood’s novel ultimately a feminist work of literature, or does it offer a critique of feminism?
In Margeret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale, women are the main victims in society in the world she has created within the novel. The Republic of Gilead is her depiction of society but in a more exaggerated sense. In this case, men dominate society and women are in complete subjection. This is emphasised through the role of handmaids whose sole purpose is to provide fertile offspring for their commanders. Moreover, the handmaids in this society are also lost within their identity as they are not allowed to use their real names. But instead are given and forced to use names which represent them as the property of their commanders: Ofglen, Ofwarren, Offred.
At the same time, a secondary character of this story we follow, Moira, is known for her more rebellious thinking against the men in this society. With her, a more masculine style and the fact that she is lesbian is something that goes against all Gilead abides by women. However, this gives a sense of hope to Offred for a rebellion against the men in this society. This depiction of Moira and Offred represent feminism as they believe that women should take over/rebel in this society.
I see feminism as the advocacy/fight for equality within both genders: where women are given the same opportunities as men. However, that is not what I think the representation of feminism is like in The Handmaids Tale. I think the novel represents the feminist views in the way in which the handmaids in this society want to take over men. This represents the views of radical feminism as Moira and Offred want to reorder society to have women on top. The complete opposite of a patriarchal society at which The Republic of Gilead is.
Now to answer the question of whether if The Handmaids Tale is a piece of feminist literature or not, yes, I would say that it is. The novel represents an exaggeration of what some women face in society, not just the past but also the present. There are many different places around the world that still believe in these very old and traditional values which have been ruled out in many societies now. Atwood’s representation of women and their role in society within The Republic of Gilead, it shows that women who are oppressed want more as they are just as human as men are. Thus to conclude, it is a piece of feminist literature as it goes dives into the mind of women facing oppression from a patriarchal society. Their build-up of anger, rebellion, and frustration only builds up which also represents the passion at which some women have for the advocacy of feminism.
What is the symbolic power of naming as described in The Handmaid’s Tale? Link to your wider reading about the politics of naming. 250 – 300 words.
Naming is the way we mark our names to one another, to be able to associate a particular person with a story behind themselves. In Margeret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, it is not different. Established from the very beginning of the novel, the handmaids are given names Offred, Ofglen, and so on, all with the prefix ‘of’ symbolise their belonging to their specific commander. Not only does this symbolise their belonging to their specific commander due to the idea of working for them, but also their body and their relationship to the commander.
The importance of names is to be able to hold on to their own identity, not to eventually be slowly forgotten as they are all seen as the same. The idea of not having a name or their name being stripped from them dates back to days where oppression and genocide were common such as Jews in labor camps, black saves in the United States, and so on. The idea of not having a name for the handmaid themselves shows that they have no power, no sense of self, and also represented as Offred loses track of time and slowly, her identity.
This relates to the idea of the current Black Lives Matter movement, specifically the name of Breonna Taylor. That people have associated the problem of police brutality and the police abusing the system with the name Breonna Taylor. Contrasting The Handmaid’s Tale in associating power and a message with a name.