A THE GENERAL VISION AND VIEWPOINT
1. “A reader’s understanding of the general vision and viewpoint is influenced by key moments in the text.”
(a) Choose a key moment from one of your chosen texts and show how it influenced your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint. (30)
The texts that I studied as part of my comparative course were ‘How I Live Now’(HILN) by Meg Rosoff, ‘Bladerunner’ (BR), directed by Ridley Scott and ‘A Doll’s House’(ADH) by Henrik Ibsen.
There is little doubt that when a reader is coming to an understanding of the general vision and viewpoint in a text, key moments are particularly influential in helping to highlight certain crucial aspects.
In ADH, a key moment that really helped me to understand the general vision and viewpoint came towards the end of the play. Here, Nora has discovered Nora’s ‘crime’ from Krogstad’s letter and his response is sudden and brutal. He calls her a ‘wretched woman’, a ‘liar’ and, most ironically of all, a ‘hypocrite.’ This man who has spent most of the play professing his undying love now tells her that their marriage is effectively over and that she is to have no more to do with the children. I felt his initial reaction was bad enough, but when he goes on to only dismiss her offer of suicide because he feels it ‘wouldn’t assist me in the slightest’, I was genuinely horrified. The fact that he attempts to retract much of what he says when another letter from Krogstad ends the blackmail did nothing to salvage his reputation as a true ‘hypocrite’.
What this key moment helped me understand more than anything else was the setting of a text has a huge bearing on the general vision and viewpoint. The world that Torvald and Nora inhabit is one where appearance, reputation and wealth are much more important than decency, morality and love. Torvald’s over reaction to the news that Nora has forged a signature in order to borrow money to save his life is completely out of synch with what she has done. Instead of focussing on the difficult and brave thing she has done for her sick husband, Torvald instead obsesses over the forgery and what it might do to his status in society. Torvald’s reaction highlighted for me the unpleasantness of the setting which was a major factor in influencing my understanding of the general vision and viewpoint.
Another aspect highlighted in that key moment was the way a central character can influence the general vision and viewpoint. Initially in the text, Nora was a character who really got under my skin. She came across as superficial and silly, happy to play the dim performing wife for her overbearing husband. However, this particular key moment highlighted how difficult life must have been for her in that world. Married to Torvald, playing the role of the ‘lark’ or ‘songbird’ or ‘doll’, there was little scope for her to assert either her individuality or her independence. This key moment showed that Nora was trapped playing a particular role in order to achieve a comfortable existence; and when she made the mistake of straying from her script in life, her erstwhile devoted husband was immediately ready to cast her cruelly aside. It was at this point that I started to feel real empathy for Nora as a central character and that really had a big influence on how I came to understand the general vision and viewpoint of ADH.
This key moment also highlighted for me how a relationship in a text can really influence how you understand the general vision and viewpoint. From the first point in the play where we meet Torvald and his ‘skylark twittering’, you could easily make the mistake of thinking that this is some sort of romantic idyllic Victorian marriage, based around love and devotion. However, the more the play progressed, the more I was disturbed by the way Torvald interacts with his ‘expensive pet’. The relationship seems to be a worryingly imbalanced one, with Nora playing the role of the vacuous WAG; and it is in this key moment that I feel the reality of their relationship is really laid bare. For Torvald, his relationship with Nora is as much about status as his house and his job. Consequently, when she threatens his position in society, he wants to cast his ‘lark’ aside, but at the same time wanting her to keep up the pretence of a happy marriage for the sake of appearances. To me, this moment really exposes the falseness of their relationship and really influenced my understanding of the general vision and viewpoint.
(b) With reference to two other chosen texts compare the way in which key moments influence your understanding of the general vision and viewpoint of those texts. (40)
Both HILN and BR feature key moments that greatly assisted my understanding of the general vision and viewpoint.
In HILN, a key moment that really influenced my understanding was when Daisy and Piper finally arrive at Gateshead Farm and discover a gruesome scene of bloody carnage. Among the seventeen bodies, ruthlessly slaughtered and now being devoured by birds and rats, lay a number of women and children. For me, this was one of the most disturbing scenes in any text, let alone in HILN.
What it showed me was one of the most influential and dark themes of the text, how war inevitably leads to bloodshed and mayhem; and how often it is the innocent bystanders who pay the heaviest price. There are some similarities with BR, where we read in the introduction to the film that the replicants have been involved in a ‘bloody mutiny’ where, as Bryant later tells Deckerd, twenty-three people have been ‘slaughtered’. Both texts show that this kind of unnecessary murder is a sad consequence of any kind of brutal conflict.
The key moment also highlights the role of the central characters in helping to understand the general vision and viewpoint. Here we see both Daisy and the ‘pure soul’ piper encountering the most horrendous of scenes. My heart went out to them and I could only think how damaging it must have been for them in the long-term to be exposed to this level of bloodshed. Deckard too, in BR, is a character who seems to have become damaged by regular exposure to violence. We see him constantly looking forlorn and detached and is often seen self-medicating through alcohol. It seems reasonable to me to imagine that this behaviour is a consequence of his role as an assassinating ‘Blade runner’ in what is also quite a violent society.
BR also contains a key moment that really influenced my understanding of the general vision and viewpoint. Here, we see Leon about to kill Deckard on a dirty, crowded LA of the future by putting his fingers through his eye sockets. At the last second Rachel kills Leon, therefore saving Deckard.
This key moment really emphasised to me the influence of the setting of a text on the general vision and viewpoint. This dirty, decayed and busy LA street really highlighted the misery of that world for most people living there. It seems rundown and uncared for and the constant police surveillance suggested that serious crime is nothing new there. Although the rural world of HILN appears very different, it still is dystopian in its own way. Roads and building have fallen in to decay as the people become more and more distracted by the ‘imminent threat of war’. One key difference is that in HILN, the world seems to be on the verge of sliding into chaos and destruction whereas in BR much of that chaos and destruction appears to have already happened.
Another aspect of the general vision and viewpoint that was highlighted by that key moment was the importance of relationships to the central characters. In this case, Rachael literally saves Deckards before going on to win his heart. She is the one who changes himfrom the ruthless character we meet at the start to the feeling, caring one we meet at the end. I thought it was particularly ironic that it took a replicant to really make him seem human. There are some parallels in HILN, in that Daisy also appears lost and isolated at the start of the text, yet is ultimately redeemed and reborn by her relationship with another character she encounters, this time Edmond. Both texts highlight the healing powers of a loving relationship, even in a dark and violent world.
All three texts highlighted the significance of key moments in influencing my understanding of the general vision and viewpoint.