wordsworth Classics

Book Review: Othello

Like The Great Gatsby, I am studying this for part of my A Level course and have this particular edition which includes notes and definitions. 

And like with my last review, this is only going to be short. (Mostly because I’m so tired of studying this book that I don’t want to spend extra time on it now.)

In classic Shakespearean style, there’s a hell of a lot of misunderstanding and, of course, death. There’s even a love-driven suicide at the end, which Shakespeare was rather fond of including it seems.

This play is renowned for addressing a number of topics such as race, class differences, love and jealousy. Mostly, it is about the latter.

It’s always hard to get into these plays, but other than that it’s pretty good. Iago is possibly one of Shakespeare’s best villains, has he is so cunning and clever with his acts. 3 stars.

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Book Review: The Great Gatsby

I’m studying this book as part of my A Level course, so I’ll avoid going into too much detail on here. The edition we were told to buy includes an introduction and notes on the book, including notes on certain names and terminology included. If you are studying this book at all, an edition like this is really useful.

The story is renowned for its representation of the ‘Jazz Age’ – the 1920s. Fitzgerald captures that time wonderfully, while showing the true colours of the “American Dream” (similar to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in that aspect).

Nick, the narrator, moves to Long Island. His cousin Daisy lives nearby, and he lives next to a mysterious man who has recently come into a lot of money. This man turns out to be Jay Gatsby – a regular party host and past lover of Nick’s cousin.

Daisy’s husband, Tom, is seeing another woman. Most people know about it – it’s pretty much an “open secret” by now. But her husband starts to catch on, just as a terrible accident pushes him right over the edge…

At first, this was pretty boring to read. Especially since I had no choice but to read it. But as I read on, it got more and more enjoyable. I began to appreciate the writing more, and actually got a little emotional with the final death. I can understand why this book has been so popular, such a symbolic piece of literature from the Jazz Age.

It’s not that old (compared to.other classic novels) so isn’t too hard to follow. The style is a bit old fashioned, obviously, but I personally still enjoyed it. 4.5 stars.

Book Review: Romeo and Juliet

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Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – Paperback, 160 pages – Published November 5th 2000 by Wordsworth Classics

I’m pretty sure everyone is familiar with this play; the infamous rivalry between two houses, the children of which fall hopelessly in love.

As I’m studying this play for my exams at school, I’m not going to make this review too long or detailed. It’s more just going to be a little recap on what I thought about this book.

So we all know the story of the Capulets and Mountagues; they have been enemies for years. The son of Mountague, young Romeo, is heartbroken by his strong but unrequited love for Rosaline. In an attempt to remove his thoughts from the matter, his friends suggest attending a party at the house of the Capulets.

Here is where he meets fair Juliet. Love at first sight; instantly, Romeo has forgotten about his previous love and pain and is infatuated with this new woman. But can they ever be together, when they parents hate each other so?

The pair decide to marry in secret, with the help of Friar Lawrence and Juliet’s maid. But within the same day, Romeo is banished from Verona after killing Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin. He should have been sentenced to death, but Tybalt himself was guilty of murdering Mercutio, and so Romeo is pardoned that sentence. To this newly married couple, banishment is worse than death, for they fear they will never see one another again. Even worse, Juliet is due to marry Count Paris.

To get around this tricky situation, Friar Lawrence helps Juliet devise a plan. She is to drink a sleeping potion that gives the illusion of death; Romeo is then to find her, and together they can run away and live happily ever after. However, Romeo does not hear of the plan, and believes his wife to truly be dead. He purchases poison to end his own life, drinking it just moments before Juliet awakens. She then kills herself out in anguish, leaving both families shocked and in despair.

Romeo is such a headstrong, passionate character. He feels so strongly about everything, and doesn’t tend to think before he acts. Personally, I think he’s rather immature and frankly a bit of a drama queen. Did he ever really love either women, or was he just too obsessed with the idea of love?

As for Juliet, we see her become more independent after meeting Romeo. She beings to think about her own wants, rather than those of her parents. Of course, she’s very young and new to the idea of love, hence her shockingly passionate and forward decisions. At the time this was written, a young girl such as Juliet feeling so strongly about someone she barely knows would have been practically unheard of.

The characters and their relationships are very interesting in this play. The death of Mercutio is very clever; he’s such a lively character, the death is truly dramatic.

I’m really not a romance kinda gal, but I can still appreciate this tragic tale. It can be rather hard to follow Shakespeare’s writing, but it is pretty good when you get into it. I think I’ll give this play 4 stars.

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