Year 11 Advanced English ??“ Area of Study Assessment Task
By Emily Beck
???Texts evoke a variety of perspectives???
When our class concept of journeys was revealed to us as the idea that we would be studying in class, I already had my own assumptions about journeys. To me a journey was the idea of travelling from one place to another, this is a somewhat superficial understanding that I had of the concept that had been formed by the context I had heard the word ???journey??™ being used in. However through further analysis of this term both in class and in my own time, my original ideas and assumptions about journeys have been challenged and significantly changed. Through collaborative group work, teacher led discussions and composing of imaginative stories on the concept I have now come to the conclusion that journeys can be in numerous other forms rather than just a physical journey, and these journeys are what make our lives and shape the people we have and will become, they don??™t have a beginning or and end instead they lead to more journeys.
By the analysis of my prescribed text ???The Road Not Taken??? by Robert Frost, a poem in which explores the complexities of decision making in life within an easily interpreted tale of a protagonist character who endures the task of making a simple decision of which way to go when he comes to a fork in the road; along with my own related text the 1939 film ???The Wizard of Oz??? originally written by L. Frank Baum Victor, and later reinterpreted by director Victor Flemming. This film portrays the journey undertaken by a young girl as she is transported into a magical world, which parallels her own existence, where she finds her true identity and where she belongs. Both of these texts demonstrate the same universal theme that it is the decisions and journeys that we carry out that in return grant us the consequences that make us who we are. Through language forms and features included in the both the film, genre, perspective and symbolism and the poem contrast, imagery and extended metaphor, along with key themes noted including identity and choice that drives the audience to the realisation that there is a much deeper meaning to the journeys we embark on and that a physical journey is often merely a backdrop for the more in depth inner journeys that take place as a direct result of that physical journey and the lessons learnt throughout. This is just one concept that can be uncovered from these texts, evoking one of many further perspectives.
Storytelling has always passed down beliefs and values that define moral choices and a sense of who we are in the world. It is the way we, as human beings construct a sense of self. The stories we tell define who we are and what we believe. As both of the texts being analysed are fiction, or ???stories??™ this concept I have learnt and has enabled me to gain a greater insight into the meaning of stories, film and poetry. Perspective is used in each of the texts to also allow this insight into the deeper meaning as we witness the psychological journeys being undertaken by the protagonists, we see in the poem the perspective change from the protagonist reflecting on an event from the past ???Sorry I could not travel both.. As far as I could??? to the protagonist in first person evaluating his past ???I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference???. During this area of study, not only has my ideas about journeys been challenged but also have my previous assumptions toward the meanings and perspectives that texts portrayed. Studying ???The Road not Taken??? in class, through class discussions in which various dissimilar ideas were contributed I have gained a greater appreciation for the poem and the meanings it conveys. It was through the in depth analysis of this poem that I was able to analyse my own related text and from the film was able to compare elements of the physical journey undergone with the more meaningful journeys that they represent, just as the ???Two roads diverged in a yellow wood??? signify the greater decisions in life.
Each of the texts explore journeys through the process of decision making, by using simple decisions within the physical journey such as which road to take, or whether or not to stop during the journey to provide assistance for others. It is this extended metaphor that is carried out throughout the length of both texts that can be interpreted further to gain the meaning of how choices define the outcome of a journey. In the poem we recognize this extended metaphor as the fork in the road, the protagonist reflects on a decision made involving which road to take. The protagonist is unsure of which road to take, one seems more appealing ???having perhaps the better claim, because it was grassy and wanted wear???, whereas the other option ???the one less travelled by??? gives off a sense of mysteriousness and the unknown. The protagonist ends up taking the road ???less travelled by??? and is indisputably pleased with the decision he has made, although he feels a sense of regret for the unknown, ???And sorry I could not travel both???. This simplistic story of the fork in the road represents meaning of a much deeper level, the decision pondered; the fork in the road is an extended metaphor for the decisions we must make on the journey of life. We too feel regret for the mistakes we make in life, when we make the wrong decision and that is what Robert Frost is intending for the audience to recognize. Frost is also referring to the conformity within society, and pushing us to go against the grain to ???take the road less travelled by???; this same theme is distinguished in ???The Wizard of Oz???. The protagonist Dorothy is an orphan looking for her place in the world, were she belongs ???over the rainbow??? she is envious of those who have found their place ???If happy little bluebirds fly, why, oh, why can??™t I???. It is when a sudden twist of fate that she ends up in a world parallel to her own in Kansas, when she arrives in her fantasy world of Oz she realises that is even more flawed then her previous home and she longs to go back to the world she knows. On her journey through Oz to meet ???The wonderful Wizard of Oz??? who is promised will be able to help her find her way back home, she encounters numerous decisions she must make as she makes acquaintance with characters on her way that like her need help. Dorothy chooses to help these acquaintances and take them to the Wizard with her, this is seen also as the ???Road less travelled by??? as she does what most others wouldn??™t, and puts others first even in her state of defencelessness. This too is an extended metaphor for our own lives, again the composer is compelling the audience to go against the grain on our journey of life and that might just make ???all the difference???.
Emotive language is used in both texts to persuade the audience to consider alternative paths in life ???And I??™m never going to leave here again??¦ because I love you all???, ???there??™s no place like home??? which is repeated throughout the movie in order to stress the fact that although the mystical world of oz seems wonderful, home is really where Dorothy belongs, ???You??™ve always had the power??? and ???And that has made all the difference??? evoke emotion in the audience that convinces them the choices made in the story; and in life define the ending of the journey and that because these characters have chosen to take the journey less taken they have had positive consequences and have been granted ???Happy endings??™ in life. It is due to this that it can now be noted that the actual physical journey, is merely a backdrop for the more significant journeys that take place and that we learn from and are shaped by.
The purpose of these two texts must also be explored as a key to uncovering its connection to journeys. The film ???The Wizard of oz??? is a popular culture text and due to its popularity over generations and a vast array of audiences, it allows the film to be conveniently accessible. Although the film is originally aimed at young children, because of its complex structure that can be analysed on many levels, from a child simply watching Dorothy endure her journey to an adult uncovering the messages hidden within. On the other hand the poem is not as widely recognized, as poetry is more of an academic exercise rather than popular culture text poetry is not as easily accessed by younger generations. And while ???The Road not Taken??? is somewhat of an iconic piece of literature, the features used to represent the journey in the poem aren??™t as effective in my opinion as the features and forms included in the film.
Another conclusion that I have come to is that the physical journey, that is holding the structure for the emotional, psychological, imaginative and spiritual journeys, is easier to follow than that of the poem as colloquial language is used throughout the film ???Better get under cover, Sylvester. Theres a storm blowin up – a whopper??? whereas the more formal and in some sense archaic language used in the poem ???Somewhere ages and ages hence??? can be often misinterpreted by a contemporary audience. The role of context is also a major influence that gives the journeys in these stories the ability to be interpreted by the audience to come to the conclusion that the physical represents the emotional, imaginative and psychological journeys within them. Because the morals of these stories are cleverly disguised in a context that the audience can relate to; a man travelling that comes to a fork in the road, and a young girl trying to find her way home, the meaning can be there even if its not so obvious, and this is something I have learnt throughout this module as my previous ideology about journeys in texts was that they were obvious, which is true however what I failed to realize is that there can be more than one journey and often the journey with the most meaning is the hardest to uncover. Hence the statement ???texts evoke a variety of perspectives??? as prior to this course I would have only gained the perspective of the character on their physical journey and not the more in depth journey they may take whether it be spiritual, emotional, psychological, imaginative or all of those combined, also further backing my statement that the physical journey is simply the basic framework for the other journeys that may be encountered.
The role of medium used for each text also contributes to the concept of journeys, for me I found that after studying ???The Road not Taken??? by listening to teacher led discussions I learnt how to properly how to read literary work as a formalistic critic might read. With this new approach to literature I was enabled to understand the underlying concept of the journey seeking identity in the poem, then I was able to further use this knowledge when searching for this same underlying message in different mediums. I chose The Wizard of Oz for my related text, as it was a story I was familiar with, but more importantly I couldn??™t help but to almost instantly link the underlying story in the two texts. In analysing both texts I noticed that although I was using the same scaffolding for analysing the two, I found the more visual of the texts; The Wizard of Oz to be significantly more effective in portraying these inner meanings and messages through the portrayal of values, beliefs and ideologies.
As I look further into another common universal theme that I found evident in both the poem and the film, the search for identity these differences became noticeably more dissimilar. The sub-concept of identity being found along the journey was depicted by use of imagery, ???The Road not Taken??? revealed the protagonist seeking and finding his identity in a complex way. The way I interpreted the text was that the fork in the road could also represent the protagonists identity, as he is unsure of his identity just as he is unsure which road to take ???I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence??? Frost recognizes that the character is aware that one day he will look back onto a time where his own identity was not so clear and see it as a major impact on how he has been shaped. As I have stated before my own personal understanding of journeys is that they are the main deciders on what kind of person someone will become, as it is those experiences and lessons learnt throughout the duration of journeys that shapes ourselves. Therefore the ???Two roads diverged in a yellow wood??? are the options that we can choose from in life, I recognized this also in ???The Wizard of Oz??? but I found it much more easily. In the poem I really had to deconstruct it to extract the meaning of identity and there wasn??™t all that much evidence to prove what I was stating, conversely in the film I studied I found I was able to grasp the theme much more effortlessly. I think it was perhaps because I could relate to the protagonist in this text more deeply as it was for one a female and someone around my age and I could recognize the emotions the character was experiencing. Dorothy felt lost in her surroundings, and it wasn??™t until she saw her life from a different perspective that she realized she had belonged all along with her family in Kansas. The ???destination??™ of Dorothy??™s journey is rather a ???realisation??™ of her identity and her previous confusion, I took this metaphor as exactly what the composer was intending to imply to the audience about Dorothy??™s journey from seeking to finding her identity.
The imagery used in the film I thought personally was much more effective in highlighting the theme of identity than the poem, images of Dorothy in her real world of black and white sadness contrasted with the exotic and colourful land of Oz for me signified Dorothy??™s realisation of how aware of her own identity she really was, that when she reached her dreamland ???over the rainbow??? she became conscious of the fact that none of the colour or beauty of Oz could compare with the colour and beauty of the love she had all along in Kansas ???a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others???. This matter of a sense of identity also challenged one of my previous assumptions of journeys, that they had a beginning and an end. As each text I have compared and analysed are of completely different mediums, there purpose is also dissimilar.
The film is recognized as a children??™s fairytale, as it fits all of those characteristics it has a simple plot, and involves an underlying message or moral. The sense of identity in the film is also explored by animals; the composer has used anthropomorphism and given animals in the story human qualities, for instance the lion. By doing this he has allowed for identity to be recognized as not just an important concept for humans but for all beings as a whole. From studying these texts or ???journeys??™ I have come to the realisation that journeys don??™t have a definite start or end, rather our lives are one big journey with other smaller journeys branching out from one another, never ending or beginning. This is evident in the theme I previously discussed, identity, as although I may see these characters finding their identity a journey in itself it doesn??™t begin or end as their identity impacts on all their other aspects of life; all their other ???journeys??™. ???Texts can evoke a variety of perspectives??? can also be proved by the argument that the texts being studied have demonstrated three key themes throughout this essay, that the texts have portrayed themes of choices and identity in life, therefore that in itself proves that statement that texts are capable of portraying numerous different perspectives.
Structural techniques in each of the texts act as a significant reminder to the audience that they are in fact witnessing a journey. In the poem the subtle rhyming scheme gives the poem a sort of flow that leads each event into another recognizing a decision, pondering that decision, making the decisions and then to reflecting about the three stages previously undergone on the journey. Also the use of punctuation in the poem act as turning points in the story ???Oh, I kept the first for another day!??? the use of commas, exclamation marks and semi-colons stop are start the flow of the poem guiding the audience through the poem. Although the Frost is successful in shaping his poem like a story through these techniques, this sense of a ???flow??™ is recognized much more easily in the film. With the aid of visual techniques like colour, special effects and scene changes create a smooth flow from scene to scene, leading the audience step by step on Dorothy??™s journey. Along with music used to simplify the change from different characters perspectives and changes in mood and tone, for instance the dark suspenseful music used when the journey is being shown by ???Wicked Witch of the West??™s??™ perspective, and the happy comforting tunes played when ???Glinda the Good Witch??™ is being portrayed.
Symbolism is another key language feature that assisted in the deconstruction of the theme of journeys from the original texts, as I have discussed before in the poem ???The Road not Taken??? the ???Two roads diverged in a yellow wood??? is symbolic for the choices we are presented with in life, and the protagonists decision to take the road ???less travelled by??? symbolizes the composers ideology that to rise up against conformity will in return allow a better quality of life ???And that has made all the difference???. Without these features of symbolism, the text is virtually meaningless when it comes to the concept of journeys if it weren??™t for those small hints of a deeper meaning of the poem, it would merely be a block of words with no greater meaning. This feature is also evident in ???The Wizard of Oz??? although it may not be so commonly recognized, as the concept of journeys can be more easily derived directly from the story. However like the poem these meanings can be interpreted in a number of diverse ways, for instance perhaps one of the most symbolic elements of the film, Dorothy??™s ruby slippers can be recognized as having different meaning; prior to this module I would have said that the ruby slippers represented the triumph of good over evil as they once belonged to the ???evil??™ ???Wicked Witch of the East??? but now were possessed by Dorothy who is the ???good??™ character in the story.
Although now that my ideas have been challenged not only when it comes to journeys but also to the analysis of texts as a whole, I would say that the ruby slippers symbolize Dorothy??™s hope for her journey. Glinda tells Dorothy to ???never let the ruby slippers off her feet??? which symbolizes that Dorothy shouldn??™t give up hope on her journey to find happiness; to get back to Kansas. Evidently at the end of the movie it is those same ruby slippers that get Dorothy back home, Dorothy never gave up hope, never took the ruby slippers off, and in the end she arrived at the final ???destination??™ on her journey and she found happiness with her family. In addition to this Dorothy is also encouraged by the people of Oz to ???follow the yellow brick road??? which serves as Dorothy??™s mantra on her journey, this mantra symbolises her will to persevere on her journey to achieve her end result. These symbols in themselves further verify the assertion ???Texts evoke a variety of perspectives??? as these symbolic elements of the story can be interpreted in many ways inducing scores of diverse outlooks from the same text.
Reflecting back on my original assumptions about the concept of journeys I realize just how much I have learnt, in previous analysis??™ of texts I would have most likely uncovered one obvious meaning from the text and really only focused on that, whereas now coming to the end of the module my insight into the concept of journeys has been significantly broadened. I am now able to come to many dissimilar conclusions about journeys and perspectives communicated through texts due to the effectiveness of my related text and my gained knowledge in class. By being able to open my mind to more ideas and beliefs through open discussions in class as well as applying my creativity to compose my own idea of a text that successfully conveys the impression of journeys, I have gained such a more diverse ideology about journeys. The word ???journey??™ to me now evokes many perspectives within my own understanding of the concept, and through comparing the two texts ???The Road not Taken??? and ???The Wizard of Oz??? I was able to express personal ideas and convey the connections I had with the texts. Although I did uncover that I found it far easier to extract meaning from a text with denser content and a concept that was more familiar to me ???The Wizard of Oz???, without the comparison of the two texts together, my understanding would be impaired. I found both texts relevant to the concept, which made it somewhat of an easier task to relate them to ???journeys??™, nevertheless I found this a challenging concept to fully comprehend at first but during my learning process I have found it applicable to my own life, and my own journey.