wordsworth editions

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: Macbeth

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Macbeth by William Shakespeare – Paperback, 128 pages – Published 2005 by Wordsworth Editions

So we’re studying extracts of this play in English at the moment, and I decided to read the whole thing through. I’m not going to write a proper review on it, as I’ll be writing an essay on the book soon for school and would just get too fed up of it!

I’m pretty sure everyone is aware of Shakespeare’s writing. He was, of course, a play-write, not intending for any of his stories to be simply read off a page. Macbeth (or “The Scottish Play”) is one of his most popular, powerful plays, with a famous superstition stemming from it.

The story follows Macbeth after he meets three witches – the Weyard Sisters – who predict that he will become a powerful man, and eventually king. His wife, Lady Macbeth, is desperate for him to achieve this power, and urges Macbeth to assassinate the current king. Macbeth becomes arrogant, and drunk on power. In the end, he loses himself to the crown.

Lady Macbeth is an intriguing character. She is willing to give up anything and everything for the position of queen, but when it finally happens, she is ridden with guilt. She spends her nights sleepwalking, trying to remove the blood of the king from her hands.

Macbeth himself is also rather interesting. We see him become more cocky as the Sisters tell him that he cannot die by the hand of any man who is of woman-born – because of this, he believes himself to be invincible. Of course, that isn’t quite the case.

Shakesperean writing isn’t the easiest to read. The language is old and hard to understand for many people, not to mention that William Shakespeare liked to make his own vocabulary up. But the general gist of the plot is easy enough to follow, and it is a rather powerful play. There are tons of movie adaptations, including one to be released next month. It’s a short book, but not a quick and easy read as it takes a bit of effort to decode the writing. So I’m going to have to say Macbeth gets 3.5 stars from me.

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