The Menstrual Cycle of Adevărata Toggenburg
Rogier Vander Weyden

Given how much grief Implanon gave me, it should not be surprising that periods have worked their way into my story, the only question is: why did it take me so long?
Okay so when Morena finds a secret drawer in the carved Maramures wooden chest/nightside table, the contents are pretty boring: Romanian letters written by Lady Adevărata's mother Luminița, one letter in German from Lord Baldurgeb Toggenburg advising Adevărata what herbs his second wife, Lady Sappheire used when she was trying to get pregnant.*and a second letter, in Greek, from an Israeli lady doctor from the winter of 2306 Ab Urbe Condita/Kislev or Tevet 5314, advising Adevărata that she should wait seven days until after the end of her period to have sex, and also sending a complimentary a charm from Rachel's tomb.
However it is from here that Morena figures out that Lady
Adevărata had a thing for secrets, which is what leads her to discover the hidden compartment within the shelf inside the icon stand in the room's Red Corner. Here she finds a key. The key unlocks a hidden compartment behind the icon-diptych of Eileithyia and Lună** . Within which Morena finds Adevărata's "Period Poem", which is dated 11th of  Lenzmonat 2307 Ab Urbe Condita.
According to Babycenter's Ovulation tracker, if the first day of your last menstrual period was the 11th of March, then ovulation should occur between the 22nd of March and 27th of March.
I will say that Adevărata made love to Jovin, on the 25th of March. Which gives a due date of the 16th of December according to babycenter.

*The modern reader will learn the Aesop that "Herbal Medicine can kill you" from this. Since not only did they not help with pregnancy but they actually proved toxic.
Eileithyia was the goddess of childbirth Lună was the goddess of the moon, but when I googled menstruation deities, she seemed to be the closests Roman equivalent.


Pride and Prejudice: Draft Essay
Bernada Siena

{C}(1)   Analyse your chosen novel from a feminist point of view. In what ways is it progressive? In what ways is it conservative or regressive?

Jane Austen is a complex author, at once conservative and progressive. She also makes heavy use of irony, so that it can be difficult to tell in which vein she is writing at a given moment.

Nevertheless she was first female writer to gain widespread popularity in her own time and remain remembered today. While Authors like Aphra Behn, Ann Radcliffe,  X and Y may have come earlier, they are not widely known outside literary circles, or in the case of Ann Radcliffe, many are only familiar with her because Austen chose to satirise her in Northanger Abbey. Thus whatever Austen’s views, be they progressive or regressive, she is significant in the history of feminist thought.

Certain aspects of the text are regressive: Austen would appear to have an ambiguous relationship with sexuality, in that she shows deep suspicion of female sexual desire (this she demonstrates with the character of Lydia, the silly girl who marries for lust) and this could be seen as a regressive perspective on sexuality.  Another aspect of the text that could be seen as regressive is the portrayal of Mrs Bennet: the character openly states the characters must marry marry quickly and preferably to a wealthy man. This Mrs Bennet does  because she is aware that without marriage her daughter’s will be left in penury, because the estate is entailed to prevent women from inheriting property, indeed Mrs Bennet is the only character who complains about the estate’s entailment.  yet rather than presenting Mrs Bennet as a woman pressuring her daughters to make hard and unpleasant choices in order to gain financial security-a not necessarily sympathetic portrayal such a portrayal would nevertheless give Mrs Bennet pragmatic wisdom, yet the text consistently presents Mrs Bennet as ridiculous, vulgar and silly. Austen treats Mrs Bennet and her advice as comedic, this seems strange as Austen- who was well read and lived herself in a reduced circumstances because of this patriarchal social system-was surely aware of that Mrs Bennet’s advice was pragmatic.  A final aspect of the novel that could be seen as regressive from a feminist point of view is that Lydia’s seduction by Mr Wickham occurs as a result of Mr Bennet’s neglect. Had Mr Bennet exerted more patriarchal control over the irresponsible and flightly Lydia, it would not have been possible for Mr Wickham to have seduced her in Brighton.

Nevertheless the thrust of Austen’s novel is feminist, albeit failing to meet the standards of modern feminism.

Although Austen never directly states that it is wrong or unfair that the Bennet sisters are unable to inherit their father’s entailed estate, and the text frequently ridicules Mrs Bennett who openly states that the Bennet sisters must marry or else be penniless after their father’s death.

“…many arguments in literary criticism that identify irony across the range of literature in English, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Austen and Eliot. Here the irony can either lie in the situation, where what the character says is undermined by what they do or say elsewhere; or, the irony can li in the speech itself where the rhetoric is so excessive or clichéd that we suspect the author is ironising the characters own limited imaginations…However as in all literature, we are challenged as to where the irony lies: does the character intend the irony, by wanting to be understood as not praising marriage, or does (Colebrook, 2004, p. 10) Chaucer intend the irony, by suggesting that all such praises and eulogies will be undermined by real love and marriages? It is not just the context that gives away irony in this case. The speech is so excessive that even if there were no contextual clue we might suspect irony. Our context could be human life and marriage in general: could anyone really love his wife and marriage this much? If one did want to offer such an exceeding praise of love and do so sincerely, then we would not need a more elaborate context: say the plot of Romeo and Juliet where the circumstances and characters would seem to be able to mean and intend such words sincerely. And, as sincere, we cannot just use everyday language excessively. So, when we do hear characters using praise  in a clichéd but intense manner, we expect that te author wants us to hear more than or something other than, praise. The ironic meaning is, perhaps, ‘how ungrounded, sincere and empty all this excessive praise must be! The irony here does not lie in a single word but requires the whole passage to alert us that what is being said is not what is meant.” (Colebrook, 2004, p. 11)

“Against the use of ‘romanticism’ as a label to convey everything from Jane Austen  (1775-1817) to Blake, McGann suggests that we should ask  how the very idea of the ‘Romantic’ has been used  to mystify a range of texts and their social emergence.” (Colebrook, 2004, p. 92)

“Characters who feel they are elevated or above the trials of common life are frequently the objects of satire. The irony of a text like Gulliver’s Travels or even Pride and Prejudice (1813) is satirical. Gulliver has no sense of his implication in the contingency of human life; his blindness lies in his belief that he adopts a position or above life.

Not only does Jane Austen (1775-1817) parody the way in which we take our local sentiments for universal truths, she also displays the blindness of those characters who believe themselves to be in simple possession of either a moral law or a social code. Her novels not only portray the vanities and tendencies of human nature, they also present characters  who arrive at fulfilment only through knowing and reflecting upon the social nature of man. One cannot disengage oneself from human life and nature. For Austen, the art of fiction and the art of satire is also an art of recognition: examining the follies of others with a full perception of our own weakness. Satire assumes the common ground of ‘man and (Colebrook, 2004, p. 145) and therefore works against the traditional aim of irony an elevated or ‘urbane’ point of view and beyond natural life. (Colebrook, 2004, p. 146)

“Irony, as we have noted, produces and implies aesthetic distance: we imagine some authorial point of judgement that is other than the voice expressed. But the stylistic implications and complications of this distance also lead beyond irony. If it is the case that an author or speaker can be other than what they manifestly say, it is also the case that complex forms of irony can make the recognition and existence of this distanced authorial position impossible to determine. It may be the case that the text resists clearly elevated or distanced position from the discourse it expresses. What is implied, not said or other than the narration, is not some clearly perceived ironic position that ‘we’ might recognise, for such a point of elevated recognition is precisely what the structure of the text seeks to destroy.

Modernist free-indirect style moves well beyond the clear location of irony and earlier uses of what is now identified as free-indirect discourse. We might say that Austen had already used free-indirect style in Pride and Prejudice (1813), describing characters in the elevated, manufactured and obsequious tones they would themselves use. But we would also have to say that while Austen herself never speaks in the novel, all the voices and the dialogues that characters maintain with each other allow a social whole to emerge, where some characters speak with a sense of the social whole, and others merely repeat received values. Austen presents two styles of dialogue: characters who do nothing more than voice received opinions (including characters, such as Mr Bennet who continues to look at his wife as an object of ridicule and satire). Other characters, by contrast, speak with an openness to others, not merely judging what they say, but allowing their actions an characters to fill out a picture of personhood that lies beyond mere speech. It is the narrative of (Colebrook, 2004, p. 160)the novel, the structured description of actions, places and the changes of human relations that allows certain voices to be seen as sincere and open and others to be seen as mere rhetoric and dissimulation. The plot allows some characters to emerge as those who have been capable of insight and development, while others remain within the style of repetition and received ideas through which they were originally described.

Austen’s use of voices and dialogue is centred in some grounding value: the value of social dialogue and exchange itself, as opposed to merely received and repeated values. Her good characters alter their opinions and values when presented with contrary events; they speak with a view both to self-reflection and self-renewal, admitting that there is more to life than merely adhering to what one says. Good sense and character are social and stylistic. Characters with a sense of the social whole allow their moral discourse to alter, expose itself to definition and articulate questions of how one ought to speak. Both Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy develop an awareness of their place in the community and a recognition of the effects of their own speech.  By contrast, Austen presents characters who are nothing more than rigid representations of style: Mr Bennett’s satire, Mr Collins’s pomposity and Lady de Burgh’s ritual propriety. Such characters cling to their personality and style of speech as if it were nothing more than a social role or a play; they have no sense of creating themselves in relation to others, or of acting in ways that go  beyond mere social rule and expectation. Jane Austen’s use of free-indirect style is ironic: she speaks in the language of characters  and their received morality, but she also allows a higher point of view trough characters who speak sincerely with a sense of moral discourse as dialogue and question, rather than fashion or truths ‘universally acknowledge’. (Colebrook, 2004, p. 161)


Colebrook, C. (2004). Irony. Abingdon: Routledge.

Prune Tzimmes
Bernada Siena

Meat and Potato Stew with Prunes

Serves 8 or more

Tzimmes is a general term for a sweet vegetable or meat dish… It is traditionally served  for Sukkot, the harvest festival, which celebrates farming and nature and fruit picking, when fruit is the theme of meals taken in the festive booths. I wondered about adding sugar when I cooked it, but the result was very good.

·         1 kg (2lb) slightly fat beef brisket, flank or rolled rib

·         3 tablespoons chicken fat or oil

·         1 ½ large onions, coarsely chopped

·         Salt and pepper

·         1 teaspoon cinnamon

·         ½ teaspoon allspice

·         A good pinch of nutmeg

·         1 kg (2lb) new potatoes

·         500 gram (1lb) pitted prunes

·         2 tablespoons of sugar or to taste

In a heavy pan over medium heat, turn the meat in the fat or oil to brown it all over. Then remove it and fry the onions gently till soft.  Return the meat to the pan and cover with water. Season with salt and pepper, add the cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg, and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Add the potatoes and prunes and the sugar and more water to cover, and ¾ hour longer. You may want to have plenty of black pepper to balance the sweetness. There should be a lot of liquid.

Serve hot.


-          4 large carrots cut into pieces maybe added.

-          In America, sweet potatoes, cut into cubes, are used as an alternative to potatoes.

-          Add ½ teaspoons of ground ginger

-          Sweeten with 2 tablespoons of honey instead of sugar.

-          Some red wine could be added to the water. (Roden, The Book of Jewish Food, 1996, p. 121)


Roden, C. (1996). The Book of Jewish Food. London: Penguin Books.

Instead of adding all the spices and sugar separately, I just used some of the left over poudre douce which I got from the official Song of Ice and Fire Cookbook. It's slightly different from the spices that Claudia specifies, but I think it's more medieval and thus closer to what Atalya and Rudolph might eat.
I thought the meat would be as tough as leather, but it actually almost seemed to melt when I cut it up.


The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse: I have just picked out my favourites

Heaven and Earth

I survey the heavens and the stars; I look at the earth with its creeping creatures; and I understand in my heart that they were all intricately fashioned. Look up at the sky—like a tent, whose clasps are joined to it by loops; the moon and its starts – like a shepherdess grazing her flock in a pasture; the moon among the sweeping clouds—like a ship sailing with raised pennants; a cloud –like a girl walking through a garden, watering the myrtles; a cloud of dew—like a maiden shaking the drops from her hair onto the ground. But the earth’s inhabitants are like an army pitching its tents for a night, looting the local granaries. And all flee before the terror of death—like a dove chased by a hawk. All are doomed to be like an earthenware plate which has been smashed to bits.

By Samuel Hanagid (993-1056){C} (Carmi 1981, 295){C}

Take Heart

In times of sorrow, take heart, even though you stand at death’s door: the candle flares up before it dies, and wounded lions roar.

By Samuel Hanagid (993-1056){C} (Carmi 1981, 296){C}

Winter Wine Song

Av has died and Elul has died, and so has their warmth. Tishri, too, has died and been gathered to them. The cold days have com, the must has grown red and is now silent in its barrel. Therefore, my friend, go find companions—and let each man fulfil his own desires! They said: ‘Behold the clouds pouring down, listen to the heavens thundering. See the frost and the tongues of fire: one falls down as the others rise and swirl. Arise drink from the cup, and then again out of the jug; drink night and day!’{C} (Carmi 1981, 296-297){C}

The Jasmine

Look at the jasmine, whose branches, leaves, and stems are green as chrysolite, whose flowers are white as rock crystal, whose tendrils are red as carnelian-like a white-faced youth whose hands are shedding the blood of innocent men.

By Samuel Hanagid (993-1056){C} (Carmi 1981, 297){C}

The Beautiful Boy

I would lay down my life for that gazelle (even though he betrayed me, my heart still keeps his love) who said to the rising moon: ‘You see my radiant face, and yet you dare to show yourself?’ And in the dark the moon looked like an emerald in the palm of a black girl.

Samuel Hanagid (993-1056){C} (Carmi 1981, 298){C}

The Narcissus

Lovely and fair, like blended perfumes and choicest spices; like richly coloured jugs; or like a bowl of gold in a bowl of silver: the one is like snow, and the other is like saffron and is encircled by six petals, as the Sabbath is by the week-days.

By Abraham Hakohen (fl early eleventh century) {C}(Carmi 1981, 304){C}

The Poet’s Illness

‘Your showers of tears, like a torrent, have made the plains rise like mountain ranges. Why not celebrate the grapevine, hy not sing the praises of wine, which could pursue your sorrows and make them flee as Jeroboam son of Nebat fled to Egypt?’

I answered him: ‘Yes, the heart forgets its trouble and rejoices in wine as does a man in riches. But disease has consumed my flesh and set the shreds of my body ablaze like brushwood.

[I have grown so thin] that a nose-ring could serve me as a crown and a ringlet as an ankle-band. Sickness burned my innards with fever like fire, till thought my bones would melt. Sores infested my innards and carried out Time’s orders faithfully. Bones that are filled with suffering –how should they not disintegrate? I rage against the disease that has wasted away my body. [It has made me so weak]  that a myrtle looks to me like an oak. And I rage agains the night that spreads out its tents of gloom.

Then when I asked: ‘How is the East robed?’, they answered: ‘Covered with blue and dawning light.’ And at last, when the dawn lifted its flags and raised its morning stars like banners, my innards were soothed, for they were filled with dew, and drops of water flowed upon me.

By Solomon Ibn Gabirol (c1021-c1058){C} (Carmi 1981, 307-308){C}

Earth’s Embroidery

With the ink of its showers and rians, with the quill of its lightning, with the hands of its clouds, winter wrote a letter upon the garden, in purple and blue. No artist could ever conceive the like of that. And this is why the earth, grown jealous of the sky, embroidered stars in the folds of the flower-beds.

By Solomon Ibn Gabirol (c1021-c1058) {C}(Carmi 1981, 310){C}

Tempest at Dawn

The heavy clouds of heaven lowed like oxen, for the winter was scowling with rage. They were like ship-masts driven on by a tempest, like captains sounding their horns in alarm. Then the face of heaven was darkened by fog, and the morning-stars stammered out their light. The sun bore the clouds on its wings over the earth, and when they burst open. How still they stood, how heavily they faced the earth, where once they were swift and flew like eagles! The wind beat the plates of rain, cut the cloud into strips which reached down to the abyss. The cloud and its battalions levelled the earth’s ridges, prepared its furrows for sowing. Then the harvest of the hills, hidden away, like a secret known to one man but not disclosed to the many, was revealed. All winter long its clouds wept until the trees of the filed, which had been dead, lived again.

By Solomon Ibn Gabirol (c1021-c1058){C} (Carmi 1981, 310-311){C}

The Fleas

And the fleas charge like war-horses; they swoop down like birds to devour my skin. They caper around me like he-goats, and rouse me out of sleep. I have become weary of killing both young and old to rout them; yet they know no fear. They are stout-hearted like warriors in battle who pluck up their courage when their comrades fall. Though they are a bit lazy during the day, when night comes they are as nimble as thieves. Day after day I loath them, and my hands are sick of killing them; but their bites have covered my flesh with sores that blossom like pomegranates. O god, wipe them out, for I am in anguish and cannot sleep—while they exult.

By Joseph ibn Sahl(died c 1123). {C}(Carmi 1981, 322){C}

The Rose/or The Lily

The garden put on a coat of many colours, and its grass garments like robes of brocade. All the trees dressed in chequered  tunics, and showed their wonders to every eye. The new blossoms all came forth in honour of Time renewed, came gaily to welcome him. But at their head advanced the rose, king of them all, for his throne was set on high. He came out from among the guard of leaves and cast aside his prison-clothes. Whoever does not drink his wine upon the rose-bed- that man will surely bear his guilt!

By Moses ibn Ezra (c1055-after 1135){C} (Carmi 1981, 323){C}

Wine Song For Spring

The cold season has slipped away like a shadow. Its rains are already gone, its chariots and its horsemen. Now the sun, in its ordained circuit, is at the sign of the Ram, like a king reclining on his couch. The hills have put on turbans of flowers, and the plain has robed itself in tunics of grass and herbs; it greets our nostrils with the incense hidden in its bosom all winter long.

Give me the cup that will enthrone my joy and banish sorrow from my heart. The wine is hot anger; temper its fierce fire with my tears. Beware of Fortune: her favours are like the venom of serpents, spiced with honey. But let your soul deceive itself and accept her goodness in the morning, even though you know that she will be treacherous at night.

Drink all day long, until the day wanes and the sun coats its silver with gold; and all night long, until the night flees like a Moor, while the hand of dawn grips its heel.

By Moses ibn Ezra (c1055-after 1135){C} (Carmi 1981, 323-324){C}

The Apple

Truly God created the apple only to delight those who smell and fondle it. Seeing how green and red are joined in it, I imagine it to be the faces of the wan lover and the blushing beloved. By Moses ibn Ezra (c1055-after 1135) {C}(Carmi 1981, 326){C}

To The Minstrel

Play for me, minstrel, for you vanquish my thoughts of grief and sorrow, and they disappear like a shadow. Your lute is like a leg joined to a hip, without a thigh to divide them. My heart leaps out to the lute’s strings—now some of them are in motion and some are at rest. I marvel at the grace of the plectrums which roam the lute and, keeping time, pounce upon the strings, then set them free. The melody and the gestures accord in measure and in number and have been established by veritable proof; they are the joy of desolate souls and they hover over the afflicted to shield them from torment. Now the doors of darkness are closed, and the heavenly dwellings open before the initiates. They ascend, without stairs, to the realm of souls, an cross the rivers of delight. Their thoughts become so pure that people almost say: the spirit of the Lord’s angels is resting upon them. The wretched rejoice with those who play the lute and pipe, finding relief from their tears. And only my pain persists: for my father’s sons who have perished and for my friends who have gone away.

By Moses ibn Ezra (c1055-after 1135){C} (Carmi 1981, 329){C}

The Ideal Woman

A mouth as round as a signet-ring, fit for a royal hand to seal with; teeth that are like crystals, or like pellets of hail as they fall to earth; also, a neck like the neck of a gazelle when it thirsts and lifts up its eyes to heaven; breasts like apples of henna, studded at their tips with a bit of myrrh; a belly like white dough or like a heap of wheat; a navel in her belly like a cistern, as though she were an empty well; very narrow hips, like the hips of a bee as it flits through the vineyard; legs like pillars, on which the thighs can rest, as well as ample buttocks; hands and feet that are both small and fresh, the feet like those of a young girl; wholly beautiful from head to foot, flawless, perfect; a woman resourceful and intelligent, whose equal cannot be found in the whole world; who during intercourse… on her bed; wise in the ways of the household; whose beauty and good sense are unrivalled; unique in the world—whoever falls in love with such a woman, how can he ever fall asleep at night?

By Anonymous.{C} (Carmi 1981, 360-361){C}

The Lightning

And the lightning laughs at the clouds, like a warrior who runs without growing weary or faint. Or like a night watchman who dozes off, then opens one eye for an instant, and shuts it.

By Judah Al-Ḥarizi (1165-1225)

The Sun

Look: the sun has spread its wings over the earth dispel the darkness. Like a great tree, with its roots in heaven, and its branches reaching down to the earth.

By Judah Al-Ḥarizi (1165-1225)

The Lute

Look: the lute sounds in the girl’s arms, delighting the heart with its beautiful voice. Like a baby crying in his mother’s arms, while she sings and laughs as he cries.

By Judah Al-Ḥarizi (1165-1225)

{C}(Carmi 1981, 389){C}

The Fate of the Adulterer

I shall now lament my desires, the silenced beat of my drum. Friends, my own sins deprived me of favours, so great were my offences. My merry harp was turned to mourning and my flute to the sound of weeping and lament, when my desire died and my passion vanished, when the gracious gifts of love came to an end.

The day was far gone, the shadows had fled, no wind stirred in the gardens. And my heart was filled with a sudden dread of death—what hope is there for an ass like me? Oh, my passion will set fire to the earth’s foundations, clouds will hover above my grave. And if I should die while still young, my complaints will accompany me down into Sheol.

In days gone by I was a hunter, hot in pursuit of desires. In all the provinces, [my lust] was likened to [the fires of] hell. But all those loves that had no virtue to them have now turned against me and fearfully disfigured me. The dust of my grave will be sent to foreign merchants, to be blended in cosmetics for pleasure-loving girls. From the boards of my coffin [they will concoct powders] for barren women, to have them bring forth sons and daughters. Of my maggots they will compound ointments for stammerers and mutes, to make them speak sevent tongues. My hair will serve as strings in musical instruments, which will then play sweetly without a player. My sash will be made into a loincloth for the adulterer, to put a stop to his fornicating and whoring. And all my belongings will be declared holy relics, and my clothes will be treasured as keepsakes. Oh, who will grind my bones as fine as dust before they are turned into icons?

May my words endow the fool with wisdom, and the young and wise with understanding!

By Isaac Hagorni (fl. Late thirteenth century) {C}(Carmi 1981, 397-399){C}

Spring Song

Winter is gone, gone is my sorrow. The fruit-tree is in flower, and my heart flowers with joy.

The spikenards as one, give forth their scent; the orchard of rare fruit is in full blossom. The hearts of friends are  filled with merriment. O hunted gazelle who escaped far from my hut, come back, come drink my mulled wine and my milk!

Sorrows fled the day the flower-beds revived, fenced in by myrtles, braided with embroideries. Swiftly, then, all cares took flight. I am surrounded by coffers full of perfumes, dripping liquid myrrh. The boughs of the nut-tree trail low along my couch.

Trees of delight sway among the shadows: cassia on the left, aloes on the right. With an emerald-coloured cup, ringed [with gold], and garnet coloured wine, mixed with dew, I shall forget the misery and grief hidden in my heart.

What made my beloved, who used to graze between my fawn [-like breasts], leave and take to the woods? Come to the arms of your dearest, who sings of her longing for you. O, my fair love, light the western lamp for me. In you towering cherub, my flame will burn anew.

By Nahum (? late thirteenth century){C}(Carmi 1981, 420-421){C}


{C}Carmi, T., ed. 1981. The Penguin Book of Hebrew Verse. London: Penguin Books.


Selection from the Heidelbeerger Liderhandschrift.
Rogier Vander Weyden
This voluminous manuscript was first discovered by the Romanic poet and journalist Joseph Görres in 1817. It comprises 179 pages with 205 songs, probably written down by two scribes. All songs were originally comprised prior to 1550, which we can confirm with the help of other songbooks written at a later date and which contain copies of songs borrowed from the Heidelberg manuscript. Not much further information about this songbook is available.
Heidelberg No. 83: Ach Gott, ich klag dir meine nott
1. Oh God, I lament about my misery to you:
I am so badly hurt that I almost die
And I have given up [all my hopes]
I thought I had chosen a dear lover,
But now he has abandoned me.
2. He loved me, he cherished me,
I did whatever his heart desired
In virtue and with honour—
[Now] he loves another [woman] much more than me,
He has left me behind, left me behind.
3. What good will your false trickery do to you, lad,
As you are so disloyal!
You need no longer wait for me!
I have known your betrayal for a long time,
Which hurt my heart, my mind, and senses.
4. If I had known your disloyalty before,
I would not have desired your love,
You have lied so often,
Go away, go away…
You are expelled from my heart, yes, from my heart.
5. She who sits on a thistle tree
And trusts young lads
Is unfortunately blinded:
You men are always true to your kind,
Weeds do not disappear from the garden.
6. Once I had an apple—it was delightful and red,
It has hurt me fatally,
There was a worm inside;
Forget about this red apple,
I must pluck it from my mind.
(Classen , 2004, pp. 31-32)

Classen , A. (2004). Late-Medieval German Women's Poetry: Secular and Religious Songs. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer.

What do you think the author of this poem meant when she said "She who sits on a thistle tree"? Also what is a thistle tree?

Critical Reflection of Judith Wright’s ‘Woman to Man’ and Oodgeroo Noonuccal’s ‘No More Boomerang’.
Jan Van Eyck

Judith Wright’s poem ‘Woman to Man’ is written by a woman to the father of her child as indicated by lines such as ‘This is our hunter and our chase, the third who lay in our embrace.’ (Wright, 1994, p. 27). The poem provides the title for Judith Wright’s second book of poetry, Woman to Man, which was published in 1949 (Wright, Papers of Judith Wright, 1949-1951 [manuscript], 1949). Judith gave birth to her first and only child, Meredith, a year later (Scenic Rim Regional Council, 2014).  It seems plausible that her experiences of pregnancy provide the impetus for the poem. 

Certainly the poem is resplendent with imagery that are subtly seem to relate to pregnancy and childbirth. In particular the poem expresses fears about the pregnancy and childbirth both with metaphor ‘build for its resurrection day-silent and swift  and deep from sight foresees the unimagined light.’ And with obvious statements about the birth itself ‘blind head butting at the dark, the blaze of light along the blade. Oh hold me, for I am afraid.’ (Wright, 1994).Nevertheless the poem still expresses the miracle of pregnancy and birth with metaphors such as ‘This is the blood’s wild tree that grows/ the intricate and folded rose.’ (Wright, 1994), whilst other lines express the love between the woman and the man with lines such as ‘This is the strength that your arm knows, the arc of flesh of that is my breast,’. The poem belongs to the early in the early part of Wright’s career, when her poetry was more lyrical, as Wright became more involved in activist causes, her poems tended more towards free verse, than rhyme and rhythm (Art's Reviews, 2007).

Fascinatingly, Wright and Noonuccal were friends, indeed it is Wright’s correspondence with Noonuccal that led Wright to become interested in Aboriginal Land Rights. (Scenic Rim Regional Council, 2014)If Wright’s poem is about the universal experience of pregnancy, then Noonuccal’s poem is about a more specifically indigenous experience. Nevertheless it does offer a critique of western civilization, capitalism in particular.

The poem makes extensive use of irony with lines such as ‘no more message-sticks; lubras and lads/ Got television now/Mostly ads.’ (Noonuccal, 1991, p. 96).  The line ‘lubras and lads’ echoes ‘boys and girls’ or ‘ladies and gentlemen’-which are often used to introduce pantomimes, circus performances and musicals- in western culture. These forms are often regarded as childish or at least low brow, and Noonuccal’s following line’s that imply television mostly consists of advertisements, in contrast perhaps to the more serious communications contained in message sticks. The poem also employs humour, such as the stanza ‘abstract picture now—/What they coming at? Cripes, in our caves we/did better than that.’ Lines such as these point out the ridiculousness of many of the West’s claims to cultural supremacy.

Critiques of capitalism are contained in the third stanza with lines such as  ‘No more sharing/ what the hunter brings./ Now we work for money,/Then pay it back for things’. This stanza contrasts the simplicity of sharing hunted game, to the pointlessness of working, only to spend all the money to buy material possessions. Further stanzas negatively contrast the free gunya, to the years spent paying off a bungalow. (Noonuccal, 1991) These arguments are difficult to argue with.


Art's Reviews. (2007, March 6). Retrieved from Poet's letters reveal cost of following her heart:

Noonuccal, O. (1991). No More Boomerang. In K. Goodwin, & A. Lawson (Eds.), The Macmillan Anthology of Australian Literature (pp. 95-96). South Melbourne: Macmillan.

Scenic Rim Regional Council. (2014). Scenic Rim. Retrieved from Tamborine Mountain inspired Judith Wright:

Wright, J. (1949). Papers of Judith Wright, 1949-1951 [manuscript]. Retrieved from National Library of Australia Catalogue:

Wright, J. (1994). Woman to Man. In Collected Poems (p. 27). Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

Screenwriting Homework
Paolo Uccello

Homework Exercise #1

The Matrix

Neo is the protagonist

·         The catalyst:

Neo accepts the Red Pill from Morpheus.

·         The crisis:

When Neo dies

·         The climax:

When Neo controls the Matrix (stops bullets in mid-air) and rescues Morpheus.

The Wizard of Oz: Do the Hero’s journey on the Wizard of Oz.

Homework Exercise #2 – The Hero’s Journey

Film:               The Wizard of Oz

Task:              Identify and describe the stages of the hero’s journey.


Dorothy’s life in Kansas living with her Aunt  Em and Uncle Henry and little dog Toto, who is in trouble because he has dug up Miss Gulch’s flowerbed.


Dorothy rescues Toto from Miss Gulch. Dorothy then runs away from home.


Professor Marvel convinces Dorothy to return home.


Dorothy meets Glinda, the good witch, who gives her the ruby slippers and tells her to follow the Yellow Brick Road.


When Dorothy Gale is caught up in the tornado.


When Dorothy helps the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman they become her allies. When Dorothy stands up to the Cowardly Lion to protect Toto, he becomes her ally. The Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy’s enemy, sends out various snares for Dorothy, such as the grumpy apple trees and the poppy field.


Dorothy’s arrival in Oz, but also when Dorothy and her allies are trying to sneak into Wicked Witch’s Castle.


When Dorothy and her friends are trapped by the Wicked Witch, who threatens to kill them one by one, before setting the Scarecrow on fire. To extinguish him Dorothy pours a bucket of water over him, which splashes the Wicked Witch, who dies slowly and horribly.

      REBIRTH

Dorothy asks the Witch’s green skinned guard for the broom. Also when Toto reveals that Wizard is just a little old man, who then gifts the Scarecrow with a diploma, the Cowardly Lion with a medal, and a windup heart for the Tin Woodsman. There is an element of satire in this.


The Wizard builds a hot-air balloon for Dorothy so that she can get back to Kansas. When Toto chases a woman’s cat, Dorothy runs after him and thus hot-air balloon flies off without Dorothy.


Dorothy’s hopes are dashed and it seems there is no way to get back. Then Glinda the Good Witch arrives and tells her to tap her ruby slippers together whilst chanting ‘there’s no place like home’.


Dorothy wakes up in bed in Kansas, and announces that she will never leave home again.

Introduction to Screenwriting & Introduction to Screenwriting G

Homework Exercise #3 – plotting, momentum & counterpoint

Muriel’s Wedding

Task:              Identify and articulate the sequence of positive and negative dramatic beats from the opening scene to when Muriel switchesDancing Queen” (10 mins approx)

{C}·         Positive: Muriel grabs the bouquet

{C}·         Negative: Cheryl, the other bridesmaids, and the bride (Tania) react negatively.

{C}·         Negative: Muriel throws the bouquet to Cheryl, who throws it back to her revealing that she and Shane broke up last night.

{C}·         Negative: the bride and the other bridesmaids run off to comfort Cheryl, blaming Muriel and accusing her of not buying a new dress.

{C}·         Positive: Muriel is given the cake, the lady tells her that she will dream of her future husband.

{C}·         Positive: Leo Higgins gives her his card, compliments her eye-catching dress, asking her to pass his card onto her father, Bill Heslop, whom he considers the best local council president.

{C}·         Negative: she then asks what happened to his nose, and a lady in glasses looks at her leopard print dress askance.

{C}·         Negative: Muriel catches Chook and Nicole having sex in the laundry.

{C}·         Negative: Muriel is arrested for stealing the leopard print dress. The woman with glasses was a store detective.

{C}·         Negative: Muriel’s lazy family (Penelope, Bill, Joanie, Perry and Malcolm) are rude to their mother Betty, ordering her about.

{C}·         Negative: Bill asks if Muriel stole the dress, and points out that she hasn’t had a job in two years and couldn’t have afforded it. Betty denies giving her the money for the dress. Bill tells Muriel to get the receipt.

{C}·         Negative: Joanie says “You’re terrible Muriel.”

{C}·         Positive: Bill schmoozes the police officers, so they don’t arrest Muriel.

{C}·         Negative: Muriel switches on Dancing Queen, her facial expression is one of pure dejection.

Heilwig's Favourite Food: Gelbe Erbsensuppe, auf Berliner Art
Hans Memling1470

Yellow Pea Soup, Berlin Style

“the least expensive version of this was Erbensuppe ohne—literally, pea soup without, meaning with no garnish. The most expensive had everything: ham, bits of bacon, slices of wurst, Spätzle or Sponge Dumplings, pages 60, 64.”

6 to 8 servings

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}½ pound/226.79 grams whole dried yellow peas (if you cannot get them whole, yellow split pas will do)

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}2 quarts/1.892 Litres water

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}Smoked ham bone with some meat on it, or smoked ham butt, or ½ pound smoked bacon cut into thin strips, or combine some ham and some bacon

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}2 tablespoons butter o 3 tablespoons rendered bacon fat

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}Pot vegetables with large onion, all finely diced

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}2 tablespoons flour

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}½ teaspoon marjoram

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}½ teaspoon thyme

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}Salt and pepper to taste

Rinse Peas and soak in water to cover overnight unless instructions on package say no soaking is necessary. Put in a 4 quart ot with 2 quarts water, using whatever is left of soaking water and adding additional amount if necessary. Add ham and/or bacon and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour. Heat butter or bacon fat in skillet, add diced and cook slowly until a deep golden colour. Sprinkle with flour and stir until it is absorbed and browned. Add flour-vegetable mixture to soup along with potatoes, marjoram, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, or until peas are soft enough to eat but not entirely dissolved. They should retain some of their shape. Do not strain or puree. Remove ham and/or bacon, cut into small pieces and return to soup. Discard bone if you have used one. If you want to use smoked sausage or frankfurter as a garnish, slice and heat in soup. Add Spätzle or Sponge Dumplings (pages 60, 64) before serving.{C}{C} (Sheraton, 1965, pp. 41-42){C}{C}

Sponge Dumplings

For 6 servings of Soup

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}½ cup water

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}1 tablespoon butter

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}3 tablespoons flour

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}Salt

{C}{C}·         {C}{C}2 eggs

Bring water to a boil and add butter. Cook slowly until butter has melted. Mix flour with a pinch of salt and put it, all at once, into butter-water mixture. Stir over low heat until dough forms a ball and leaves sides of pan. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Scoop off dumplings with wet teaspoon and drop into boiling salted water or soup stock. Cook about 10 minutes or until dumplings rise to top. Serve with chicken or beef broth, pea or tomato soup.


{C}{C}1.      {C}{C}To make tiny puffs for soup, put batter into pastry tube and squeeze them onto a buttered baking sheet. Bake in middle of 400˚oven about 10 minutes, or until puffs are golden brown. Just before serving, top individual bowls of soup with these.

{C}{C}2.      {C}{C}This same dough can make another, lighter version of Fried “Peas” on page 61. Make batter and drop little bits of it, from tip of a teaspoon, into hot frying oil or fat.

{C}{C}3.      {C}{C}To make cheese-flavoured dumplings, substitute ½ cup milk for water, and stir in 1 tablespoon grated cheddar or gruyere before adding butter. When both cheese and butter have melted, add flour and proceed.{C}{C} (Sheraton, 1965, pp. 64-65){C}{C}


{C}{C}Sheraton, M. (1965). The German Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Mastering Authentic German Cooking. New York: Random House.

I am going to make this dish on Friday. Wackily enough the first scene where I actually envisaged Heilwig, she was serving this soup to Morena and being a right TySan shipper (Which is to say being an awful cow by lecturing Morena on how she was shallow for not falling madly in love with a congenitally disabled, member of a family that was at war with Morena's own family, also her gaoler and member of an enemy nation) needless to say Heilwig has come a long way since then.


Critical Reflection: Or how do I get this down to 500 words?
Dieric Bouts 1460

Carson McCullers wrote beautifully. Her detailed and evocative descriptions add verisimilitude and create empathy. A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud conforms to this pattern. On a rainy dark morning, the action takes place in an all-night café that seems friendly and bright in comparison to the raw empty street.

McCullers description of paper boy’s pink little ear beneath his chinstrap and his round child eyes renders the boy’s innocence palpable.  Whilst the description of long, pale tramp with faded orange hair who brings his face out a beer mug to tell a paper boy his life story and philosophical beliefs. An experience that some readers may find relatable.

Carson McCullers creates tension, by having Leo, the bitter and stingy café owner, interrupt the indigent’s story of the unavailing search for his departed wife, with what the indigent considers a ‘vulgar’ comment, as well as repeatedly telling the indigent to ‘shut up’. Leo with his grey face, slitted eyes and pinched nose saddled by faint blue shadows (McCullers, 2008, pp. 150,152), initially appears to be a critical portrait of society’s prejudice against homeless people.

However, after the indigent has explicated his philosophy of learning to love small things such as trees, rocks, clouds, and goldfish before one can learn to love another human, with loving a woman being the climax, because loving a woman is the most difficult of all. By following these steps, the indigent believes he can love all of creation.

It is unlikely that Carson McCullers disapproved of a philosophy of life and humanity.  So it is interesting that she gives the moment of understanding, not the shallow faced, freckly twelve-year old, but to the pale faced, jeering Leo; who is interestingly enough, the only named character.

Vonnegut’s journalistic style is in great contrast to Carson McCullers, the action is fast-paced. In contrast to Carson McCullers’ A Tree, A Rock, ACloud which is set in the mundane world of 1940’s America, then Kurt Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House  is written in a distant future where the human race is struggling with overpopulation.

In Vonnegut’s world rather than control population by depriving people of pills that prolong their lives and youth to an unnatural extent. The government encourages people to use Ethical Suicide Parlors, staffed by beautiful virgins, whose lives are preserved, in the case of the heroine, into their 60’s. Rather than enforcing sterilization programs, the government enforces the use of ethical birth control pills that enable people to remain fertile whilst rendering sex pleasure-less. This is an absurd solution to the problem of over population, and indeed the story really tries to be about how totalitarian regimes repress sexuality. (Vonnegut, 1998, p. 49)

However making the “hero”, Billy the Poet a man who has made it his vocation in life to rape as many Ethical Suicide Parlor Hostesses as possible. His rape of Nancy-performed with clinical skill- is justified by Billy with the words“…If there had been any other way-“ (Vonnegut, 1998, p. 47) espousing rape as the only solution for a culture of totalitarian prudery and suicide.

This portrayal of rape as a solution to authoritarian prudery causes Welcome to the Monkey House to fail as a liberal text.

Rape is a mechanism by which men humiliate and hurt women, and the fear of the rape is a mechanism by which patriarchal cultures control women (Herman, 1984, pp. 43,47,49). By making the ‘hero’ a rapist Vonnegut is supporting rape culture; thus undermining his liberal message.

Indeed, Vonnegut must resort to quite a convoluted and unlikely dystopia to make rape ‘the only way’. Even then Billy’s prediction that Nancy, like a “strait-laced girl of a hundred years ago” who on her wedding night “cried all that night, and threw up twice” will become a sexual enthusiast with the passage of time, is unrealistic.


Herman, D. F. (1984). Rape Culture. In J. Freeman (Ed.), Women: A Feminist Perspective (3rd ed., pp. 45-53). Mayfield, California: Mountain View.

McCullers, C. (2008). A Tree, A Rock, A Cloud. In The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (pp. 147-157). London: Penguin.

Vonnegut, K. (1998). Welcome to the Monkey House. In K. Vonnegut, Welcome to the Monkey House (pp. 30-50). New York: Delta.

Lecture notes to my Screenwriting unit part 2
Dieric Bouts 1460
A premise is the motivating force behind your story. The moral or message of the story, the point you are trying to make.

Other words used are thesis, theme, root idea, central idea, goal, aim, dramatic centre, driving force, subject, purpose, plan, basic emotion, point.
Premise, as defined in Webster’s dictionary, contains all the words those other words try to express and it is less subject to misinterpretation.  The best word that encompasses all those ideas, they are all interrogating the moral.
Why is premise so important? It unifies, it gives a script thematic, intellectual and emotional unity.
The Premise of Pulp Fiction (very complex narrative), has one single premise “Only living honourably leads to true happiness because living dishonourably leads to dishonouring yourself.”
Theme is a word that often gets used in the place of premise. Premise turns the theme into something active, conflict driven and structured.
The theme of Star Wars: is the battle between good and evil.
The Premise of Star Wars:  Intuition will triumph over the rational because only intuition can think outside the box.
The theme of the Matrix: Battle between good and evil
The premise of the Matrix:  Man defeats machine because the human spirit is indefinable and unquantifiable.
Although they have the same theme, they have very different premise.
The theme of the Wizard of Oz: childish innocence and coming of age
The premise of the Wizard of Oz: you have to accept yourself because wherever you go, however far you run from yourself, there you still are.
The theme of Fight Club: the alienation of the individual in a modern, self-obsessed urban environment.
The premise of Fight Club: you have to accept yourself because wherever you go, however far you run from yourself, there you still are.
Although the themes are different, the premise is the same.

Good screenwriting is always a matter of life and death.
Figuratively or literally, destruction in some form always be hanging over your protagonist and the success of his or her ‘quest’.
That’s why it’s important that your premise be an active statement not a flat one.
Contains a pair of opposing values or ideals.
Ant that one value/notion/ideal ultimately ascends the other for an in-built reason.
A premise contains the notion of destruction/loss/failure.
Because a premise contains two opposing values, it will often also contain the implication that choosing the wrong course of action, choosing to follow one of those values through to its conclusion will lead to destruction.
This gets back to the notion that premise is essentially an argument: on the one hand this and on the other hand that.
Examples of opposing values premise:
Fakery leads to exposure and defeat because you can’t hide the truth from yourself. (Muriel’s wedding; There’s something about Mary)
A True and great love will stand up even against death. (Romeo and Juliet; Ghost)
Ruthless ambition leads to its own destruction. (Macbeth; a Few Good Men)
Opposing values lead to destruction:
A Premise contains the idea of destruction because it speaks to two opposing ‘qualities’ locked in a unity that only the destruction of one can break.
These two opposing qualities gives us our ‘unity of opposites’.
The Film Ghost tests these opposing qualities: love vs death, and it ‘proves’ that love can indeed triumph over death!
Premise and the unity of opposites: an important concept in screen writing, both at macro and micro level (right down to the scene level).
The unity of opposites sets two forces/qualities/ideals characters against each other in conflict.
The forces in conflict must be united in a relationship that cannot be broken or escaped without the destruction of both sides of the opposition (and from this destruction new hope is born).
Such as CatDog: Dog is stupid, foolish, naïve, gullible, sweet dog, whilst Cat is intelligent, witty, ambitious, all the things that Dog is not, and they are linked together inescapably.
Also seen in Fight Club.
The premise is the inner core of this unity or pairing of opposites.
Premise, unity of opposites and character.
Premise refers to an inner struggle, played out in the head and heart of your protagonist.
It informs a choice the between two opposites between two opposites he/she has to make.
American Beauty:
Premise is “true beauty is everywhere around us but we don’t see it because we don’t look/try hard enough.”
Lester Burnam and (indeed all the characters) is desperately searching for meaning, beauty, hope, validation, to feel ‘alive’. He chooses to quit his safe bourgeois job and look for beauty and ‘aliveness’ in a recreation of his idealised adolescence-red sports cars,  big muscles, blonde 16 year olds, flipping burgers. Ultimately however he chooses to reject all this when he sees the true beauty all around him that has eluded him.
Premise Man defeats machine because the human spirit is indefinable, unquantifiable and universal.
Neo ultimately has to choose between trusting the deep truth of his inherent, intangible humanity, or relying on the false ‘truth’ of his eyes and reliance on the tangible. He has to choose between the red pill and the blue pill. Between running or fighting. Between believing his eyes or believing his heart. Between the apparent blinding reality of the matrix and the more subtle, elusive, authenticity of his self.
Muriel’s Wedding
Premise: Fakery leads to exposure and defeat because you can’t hide the truth from yourself.
Muriel ultimately has to choose between her ‘successful’ but fake marriage and being an unmarried ‘failure’ but honest and real. She really has to choose between her fake and real self.
Pulp Fiction
Premise: Only honour leads to true happiness because living dishonourably leads to dishonouring yourself.
Bruce Willis has to choose between fleeing the S&M den and certainly saving himself (but living with the dishonour), and remaining there to free Marsales thus doing the honourable thing but jeopardising his safety. He also has too choose between abandoning his father’s watch and being safe, and the dishonour that would bring him and his father’s memory.
The premises are tested throughout the film: i.e. is it true that dishonour leads to misery/that only honour brings happiness.
Premise and character:
Premise is reflected in the characters themselves and their various oppositional characters.
The Matrix:
Good, human, flawed, uncertain Neo, versus evil, mechanistic, robotic, unwavering Agent Smith.
Oppositions can happen to characters on the same side: Simple “new born” Neo versus sophisticated experienced Morpheus. These characters are both on the same side.
Intuitive, loyal, committed Trinity versus rational, treacherous, selfish Cypher.
Supremely human Morpheus versus computerised government apparatchik Agents.
Wizard of Oz:
Dorothy, attempting to flee herself and her problems versus the Wicked Witch of the West/Miss Gulch (ever present).
Muriel’s Wedding:
Deceitful, cowardly free to live a lie versus brave, honest Brenda trapped in a horrible truth (her cancer).
More than one reading; only one premise
Multiple meanings
Multiple readings
Multiple inferences
Multiple implications
Many themes
But it should only have a single premise.
One premise is more than enough per script, a strong premise contains multitudes.
A strong premise can lead to a myriad of different plots.
A strong premise can be interpreted (by different writers, by different viewers) in a multitude of ways.
You have to know what you are trying to say.
Premise-coming up with your own
A well-articulated premise will assist you to find connections and directions.
Having a premise behind your script means you are actually writing about something.
·         That matters
·         That has stakes
·         That has depth
·         That has conflict.
Having these things means that your work has a point, you are trying to make a point, if you are not trying to make a point, then your work tends to be pointless. If you have nothing to say, then you’re not saying anything. If your script has no point, if there is no message in it. Then it’s just a bunch stuff that happens and it will lack that depth that it really requires.
Writing from the premise up… a warning
Creating a script entirely from the premise up can lead to three pitfalls.
·         Preaching
·         Polemic
·         Plot-less-ness
It’s much more important to have a good strong plot, and then figure out what you have said in that. Rather than start off with an ideological/emotional point it will probably be polemic and you will have an illustrated lecture. To make your point, prove your premise via character in action.
A Premise should not be weak, woolly, or passive:
“Being a bit worried can maybe lead to a not very pleasant lifestyle.”
A premise is not just a statement:
“Drinking arsenic will kill you.”
We know that-so there’s no drama or conflict. This is a given; a premise should have two sides to it, otherwise there is no drama.
A premise is a simple-to-express idea that has great potential for depth.
A premise must have:
·         Two sides to it
·         Two choices in it
·         Contain the notion of movement.
A premise should ideally be a single sentence


—  The Big Five are the five most useful questions you can ask of your script or any script.
—  The Big Five interrogate the very heart of the matter of your story.
Once you understand them, you can use them to break down, interpret and discover structure and character and dramatic states and anything you want.
They interrogate the very heart of the matter of your story.

—  Whose story is it?
—  What’s the story about?
—  What’s the main dramatic question?
—  What’s the prize and what price is paid?
—  Why should we care?
The BIG FIVE Focus and express the guts of your story:
Number 1: Whose story is it?
—  Focuses on character.
—  Asks you to identify your main character.
Number 2: what’s the story about?
—  Focuses on character active in plot & logical satisfaction.
That asks you to focus on that character being active in plot. With logical satisfaction giving us the ending of the plot.
Number 3: What’s the main dramatic question?
—  Focuses on tension & momentum & structure.
What are we waiting to see in the end? What’s the drama? Where’s the tension coming from. This pays into structure.
Number 4: What’s the prize & what price is paid?
—  Focuses on dramatic weight, transformational arc & structure.
Number 5: why should we care?
—  Focuses on empathy & emotional engagement.
Why would anyone want to invest in this and pay money to go and see this?
The Power of Five:
—  When the Big Five “work”, the script is “working”.
—  With a well expressed and responsive Big Five, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. When the big five work, and you’ve answered them so they do express what the story is about, and so they all fit together. That means your story is unified and all these disparate elements; character, plot, structure, theme, premise, dramatic weight…what seem to be disparate elements  are all pulled together, when the big five work, when you’ve really nailed it and expressed it clearly
—  The Big Five are part of a teaching strategy devised by Professor Digby Wolfe during his time as a director of the Dramatic Writing Program at the University of New Mexico. They also appear as part of his "Big Six Questions" in his book Walking on Fire: the Shaping Force of Emotion in Dramatic Writing published by Southern Illinois University Press
Whose Story is it?
—  This is about the protagonist.
Responding to this means you have to:
—  It requires that you identify whom it is that does the story.
Who is the main character? Who is driving the action? Who are we caring most about? Who is it that is making the story happening?
—  Your response can be as short as that character’s name.
(Lecturer gives a character called Diane Sawyer)
Heilwig von Brandenburg, novice at the Temple of Snotra
What is the story about?
—  This is about plot.
—  It is NOT about theme.
I don’t want to be told that your story is about the battle between good and evil. So is Star Wars, So is the Matrix, so are many other films.
This is where you tell me about the plot, about the sequence of events that take place in your story. Not vague thematic notions like the battle between good and evil. But concrete stuff about the incidents that, the incidents, that happen with your character.
—  It requires that you articulate the basics of the plot, including the catalyst, crisis and climax. 
—  It must include your protagonist, with a problem, taking action to achieve an outcome.
E.g. Diane, a neglected child must battle with her bullying siblings to get attention from their mother. Or something like that, more than that, but you actually telling us what happens. It’s not just vague.

—  Your response should be only four or five sentences. (this is not the synopsis)
3) What is the main dramatic (central) question?
—  This is about drama and tension.
The main dramatic question, basically is the question where waiting to see what happens in the end. When you ask the question “what happens in the end?” that’s you’re wanting the main dramatic question answered. It’s the big question that arises out of the plot. You know “will Luke blow up the death star and save the rebellion?” Yes he will goodness me. “Will Neo learn the nature of the matrix and defeat Agent Smith?” Yes he will. Will Eddie stay with Pearl? Yes he will. There’s lots of others. With Medusa that you’re watching this week; will Medusa find true love? Yes she will, but not necessarily in the way they expect. What this means in with the main dramatic question and why it’s so important. It requires that. If you’ve got a main dramatic question it means that there actually is something we’re waiting to see in the end. It means that there is…
—  It requires that there actually be a dilemma/problem/question established in the catalyst and answered by the climax.
We’ve talked about Catalyst and Climax, this is not separate stuff from the big five. They are embodied in the big five.
—  Your response should be brief and MUST be phrased as a question.
4. What is the prize and what price is paid?
This is without doubt the hardest one. It is the trickiest one because it’s the one where the characters internal journey and external journey dovetail most precisely.
—  This is about having high stakes & dramatic weight. 
—  The protagonist must be seeking some sort of “prize”, and in order to gain that prize, he/she MUST pay a price (or else it has been too easy).  Whatever story you’re telling, they’ve got to have some sort of goal, something that that they’re struggling towards. And in order to gain that prize/achieve that goal, he or she must pay a price. They have to sacrifice something. They have to struggle at some level.  There has to be a price Or else it’s been too easy. They say they want true love; and oh there it is. They say they want to save the world; oh done it. There has to be a struggle; if you don’t have a price paid it means basically you don’t have second act because there’s been no struggle, there’s been no sense of tension and of struggling towards this being a valid goal. You’ve got to have a price. It’s not either or: you don’t have prize or a price. You only get the prize because you paid the price.

—  Number 4 is not about the risk of failure; you can’t say they ‘oh they get the prize but they ran the risk that they might not get the prize.’ ‘well yes of course they did’, but that’s not tension they have to actually struggle, you have to have to have seen the struggle for this to be achieve; it’s about the price of success.
—  This is a tricky one: your response to this may be several sentences; sometimes protagonists think they’re after one prize, only to end up with something else.
Corny example: boy meets pretty girl but fails to notice mousy girl next door. All through the film pursues pretty girl, but ultimately realises that what he wants is little mousy girl next door because she’s nice. It can be quite subtle and the goal can change as the protagonist works through the material of the story.
5.         Why should we care?
—  This is about empathy, about emotional engagement.
—  It requires that you articulate where an audience will find their emotional engagement with your script and its characters. 
—  If an audience doesn’t care about your characters and their dilemmas, then you have failed to engage them emotionally.
—  Your response to this should be a few sentences.
What this means is not that every character that you write or every character in a film or a script should be likable. It’s not that we have to like them, but we have to have some place of engagement, something that an audience member can engage with. Think about the lecture last week about the universal and the unique. Why is somebody going to watch this? Lots of new writers…many new writers want to write about unpleasant people; people who are lazy, repellent, or sexist or whatever. That’s fine, but there has to be some place in that for the audience to engage with them. Most people don’t want to hang out with unpleasant people all the time. It’s fine and interesting to create characters who are not immediately engaging because they are funny, kind, or all those things we tend to approve of…. Fine go ahead, create characters however you want, but you have to remember that you are asking someone to spend time with them. Now if they are entirely repellent why should we care? Why should we care about these people? And we have to care at some level, or else we won’t… fundamentally we won’t turn the page. Everything is about getting somebody to turn the page of your script and getting them to keep reading, then you’re getting somebody to put money in it, and then get actors involved, and then you’ve got to get audiences to come into the cinema and people to watch it on TV. It’s a big ask so we have to care at some level.
A good example of a film where ‘why should we care’ has a complex answer is “As Good as it Gets.” Starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt.
Marvin is absolutely repellent but we understand him. It is written in such a way that we understand Marvin’s struggles, and we engage with him because we also see that he is struggling with it. So you can have repellent characters but you have think about why an audience is going to spend time with them.
I would also point out that As Good as it Gets  also has some very charming characters who help keep us engaged but ultimately we are engaged with Marvin as well.
In your own work your response to why we should be… maybe a few sentences, and it shouldn’t be we care because they’re nice. Why are they nice? What do we see about them that makes them nice? Actually think about it. This is intellectual stuff…
Assignment 1#

Whose story is it?
2. What is the story about?
After Ruth’s funeral, Will is haunted by Tulip’s moos. He cannot milk her as only Ruth milked her. He think
3. What is the main dramatic (central) question?
Can Will milk Tulip? (Outer Journey)
Can Will recover from Ruth’s death? (Inner Journey)
4. What is the prize and what price is paid?
Being able to milk Tulip is the prize.  This symbolises his reconciliation to his wife’s death.
A small price is that Will scandalises his neighbours by dressing in his wife’s house coat and apron.
5. Why should we care?
Universal themes of grief and loss.

Ordinary World
Will & Ruth are happily married.  Ruth milks the cow for Will’s coffee.
Ruth dies. At the funeral, her friends help and say that he is not coping.
Call to Adventure:  Tulip moos, young man says the cow (Tulip) will suffer if she is not milked.
Refusal of the call. Will at first ignores Tulips moos because it is night.
Tulip continues on mooing.
Will chases Tulip around at night.

The hero of your journey
Audiences connect emotionally with the story through the character, rather than plot.
Audiences need the characters to experience emotional catharsis by engaging with characters (emotional proxies) dealing with problems.
To attain a sense of logical completion.
The big issues in creating meaningful and active characters.
Having a meaningful goal
That goal bringing the character into conflict with other characters.

The writer director David Mamet takes this a step or two further
Who wants what?
Who is trying to stop them?
What happens if they don’t get it?
Why now?

Motivation is the ‘why’ characters want what they want.
Motivation provides a reason for why the character should choose to leave the safety of their ordinary world.
As writers, motivation is Crucial. If a script lacks motivation, it will lack dramatic intensity and fail to convince.
More motivation
Motivation pushes the character forward, into the story. It is a mechanism at the beginning of the story that Forces the character to be involved.
Without motivation, good solid motivation, the audiences won’t believe in or feel compelled by the character and their journey and struggle.
Motivation is now.
Motivation should be shown.
Motivation is what comes together when the protagonist undergoes the.
As a character motives
From motivation to goal
From catalyst to climax;
From triggering event to conclusion
From Act 1 to Act 3

A well-rounded character gains something, in the character terms, via their participation in the story:
Luke gains a sense of purpose and the Force
Dorothy gains a sense of where her true home lies. (Wizard of Oz)
Lester gains a sense of family. (American Beauty)
Gavin gains his sense of self-respect. (Splintered)
A transformational arc maps a character’s emotional, personal, character-based reactions to the sequence of events that comprise your plot.
A transformational arc indicates the degree to which the script engages with the characters as dimensional beings, not mere functionaries of the plot.
The transformational arc maps the ‘inner journey’ of a character (the plot line maps the ‘outer journey’)
Without a transformational arc, the character remains static, in character terms. (Think James Bond).
The wizard of Oz highlights the ultimate dovetailing of
The inner journey, with the outer journey;
The transformational arc with the plot.
Character growth with story progression.
The wizard of Oz is a film about:
Self (inner) and adventure (Outer).
About identity and physical danger.

Function the main function is of the protagonist is to do the story-to make it happen.
His/her point of view is usually the dominant POV. We tend to view the story through the protagonist.
The protagonist is usually the character for whom we care the most.
The mentor protagonist:
A mentor is a character who has effectively complete his/her transformational arc.
He/she is essentially full ‘at one with?

Small Things:
Protagonist: Jack is an Underdog.
Antagonist: Branson
Failed Mentors: Jack’s mother (single, working mother) and teacher (is given Jack’s stolen apple by Branson)
Mentor: Gordon (very comfortable in his own skin).
Jack is being bullied by Branson who steals his Nutella sandwiches, apples and beetles. Gordon comes up with a plan for Jack’s beetle to beat Branson’s slow stag beetle.
This plan fails when Branson kills Jack’s beetle in the race, this symbolizes Gordon suffering from mentor occupational hazard. Thus Jack must outsmart Branson by giving him dung beetle food sandwich.


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