I had to read this play as part of the Open University course A300. I had little prior knowledge of it, except that Patrick Stewart and Sir. Ian MckelI had to read this play as part of the Open University course A300. I had little prior knowledge of it, except that Patrick Stewart and Sir. Ian Mckellan had recently starred in it. As a big fan of both actors, I had high hopes that it was going to be an interesting play.
However, the plot of this play is practically non-existent and would be best-described by the following quote: “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful!" Two men sit around all day waiting for someone called Godot to show up, and he never does. Meanwhile they engage in a lot of incomprehensible and repetitive conversation about putting on their boots, urinating and suicide. The lack of action, while obviously intentional, made it difficult for me to enjoy and engage with the play, as I just found it mind-numbingly boring and depressing most of the time. I didn’t find the characters particularly interesting or likeable either, and so I couldn’t really identify or empathise with them. In the end I didn’t really care whether Godot showed up or not.
The language and style of the play are quite unusual as the characters inexplicably jump from one topic to another, interrupt each other and ignore each other. I suppose that the dialogue is quite realistic, but nevertheless I did not find it easy or enjoyable to read. Much of what the characters say is seemingly nonsense, and it’s hard work trying to look for something meaningful in it.
My emotional response to this play was mostly boredom, and irritation at the lack of action. I understand that the play can be interpreted symbolically as an existential view of the meaningless of human existence and that it can offer some insights into human nature and possibly man’s relationship with God. However, Beckett actually denied this, saying : 'the early success of Waiting for Godot was based on a fundamental misunderstanding, that critics and public alike insisted on interpreting in allegorical or symbolic terms a play which was striving all the time to avoid definition'. The whole point of the play seems to be that it is open to a number of different interpretations, but doesn’t have one true meaning-just like life. I can understand why some readers would enjoy that irony, but unfortunately I felt that it detracted from the entertainment value of the play.
The best that I can say about it is that it’s certainly original, and there are some interesting quotes about human existence. But unfortunately it just didn’t live up to my expectations. I didn’t find it particularly thought-provoking or amusing. Part of me thinks that Beckett deliberately filled this play with a lot of meaningless allusions and symbolism to amuse himself as he watched people trying to analyse it for some deep, unifying meaning. I wouldn’t recommend this play to anyone who enjoys action, drama or comedy. However, those interested in existential philosophy might find some value in it. ...more
**spoiler alert** There has been so much hype about The Hunger Games that I wanted to read it myself to see what all the fuss was about. I enjoy dysto**spoiler alert** There has been so much hype about The Hunger Games that I wanted to read it myself to see what all the fuss was about. I enjoy dystopian fiction so I was hoping that it would live up to the good reviews I have read.
The story takes place in a future nation called Panem which is composed of a wealthy and controlling Capital and twelve poorer districts that each specialise in a different trade. The main character, Katniss Everdeen comes from district twelve, a very poor mining district. As punishment for a past rebellion against the Capitol in which district thirteen was obliterated, one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen are selected from each district to be participants or ‘tributes’ in the Hunger Games -a fight to the death in an outdoor arena which is watched by the citizens of Panem like a reality TV show. Despite only having her name in the drawing once, Katniss’ little sister Prim is selected, and Katniss volunteers in her place knowing that it will probably be her death sentence. I could really relate to her need to protect her sister and her pain at having to sacrifice herself.
Also selected from district twelve is Peeta Mellark, a kind baker’s son who once gave Katniss bread when she was starving. Their drunken mentor Haymitch convinces them to present themselves as ‘starcrossed lovers’ to gain sympathy and sponsers from the Capitol. Peeta seems to be genuinely in love with Katniss, but she is confused by her feelings for him-never sure whether she is acting for the cameras or not and aware that she will have to kill him if she is to survive the arena. She also has conflicting feelings her best friend Gale who she has grown up hunting with in district twelve, so a love triangle develops. I liked both Gale and Peeta as characters, so I could sympathise with Katniss’ difficult decision as well as disliking her for stringing them both along at times. Katniss is a refreshing heroine as she is brave and in control of her own destiny rather than being dependent upon the male characters in the novel. Her need to protect her family is admirable, but she is not morally flawless. She has her moments of weakness and selfishness which make her human and easier to relate to than other angelic, self-sacrificial heroines that I have encountered in YA fiction.
The games themselves are brutal and many of the tributes are killed in the first day alone, but Katniss relies on her hunting and outdoor skills to survive and it was interesting to read about her techniques. She doesn’t make many killings herself, except ones that seem justified, and conveniently most of the other tributes kill each other off until only her and Peeta are left, which is a little unrealistic and predictable. However, the book is filled with enough exciting moments (like the trackerjackers, the muttations and the fireballs) and poignant moments (with Rue and Peeta) to make up for that. After her clever trick with the berries at the end of the novel, Haymitch warns Katniss that she has become a political target, which hints at the difficulties she might face in the next book. The love triangle is also unresolved as Katniss has to return to district twelve to face Gale after he has seen her pretend to be in love with Peeta, and Peeta is heartbroken when he discovers that her love was just an act. It’s unclear whether she has real feelings for Peeta, so it will be interesting to see what happens in the sequel, Catching Fire.
The Hunger Games was very different from other YA novels I have read, and I can see why it has received so much attention. I enjoyed the fact that it had plenty of action and suspense and that the romance supplemented that rather than dominated it. Although it was unrealistic at times, it provided welcome escapism and, at times, an interesting commentary on our own society. I will definitely be reading the rest of the series. ...more