Đây là tổng hợp những essay ngắn (~500 từ) mà mình phải viết cho lớp tiếng Anh cấp 3. Những trải nghiệm chạy deadline thật sự thú vị và bổ ích. Qua môn học này, mình đã biết được cách trình bày một essay (bài luận) với quote (trích dẫn) và citation (chú thích nguồn) đầy đủ. Mình cũng học cách kiểm soát và chọn lọc thông tin để không vượt quá word count (giới hạn từ).
Dưới đây là ba bài essay mình đã viết từ rất lâu, 2016 lận. Đọc lại thì thấy viết còn non tay quá, nhưng với một đứa trẻ 15 tuổi thì như vậy là rất cố gắng rồi. Mình giữ nguyên, không sửa một chữ nào để bảo toàn tính tham khảo. Tuy nhiên, các bài viết đều mang tính phân tích, phải trích dẫn từ trong sách nên sẽ có spoilers. Các bạn cân nhắc trước khi đọc nha.
Nếu bạn chưa đọc The Great Gatsby, có thể mua ở đây nhé:
- bản dịch tiếng Việt (Nhã Nam)
- bản tiếng Anh
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald: The techniques
There are many underlying conflicts in “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but one significant conflict out of all is the internal conflicts within the character Daisy. She loves Gatsby but does not marry him, her love for Tom was also real despite his characteristic. This internal conflict contribute greatly to the development of the character in the story, as well as expressing the character’s personalities and thoughts.
First of all, Daisy chosing not to marry Jay Gatsby, for he has no wealth, although she loves him proves that she is undoubtedly a materialistic person. Five years ago, she met and fell deeply in love with Jay Gatsby, who was a young officer with no fortune. After five years time, when Gatsby returns, “Daisy’s face was smeared with tears” (Fiztgerald 45) when they reunite, they talk and talk and she is truly happy. It is a fact that she still adores him despite such long period of time. The feelings Daisy has for Gatsby is genuine and long-lasting indeed, but she never decides to marry him as he does not meet her parents and her own standards: she needs a stable life rather than a loving one.
Daisy’s personality was shown even clearer when she decides to marry Tom the “brute”, despite knowing what kind of man he is. Tom is a man of wealth and socially solid family that lives in East Egg, who Daisy thinks would provide her with a proper life. Yet when Daisy gives birth to her child, “[the baby] was an hour old and Tom was God knows where.” (Fitzgerald 20). Tom proves to be nothing but a good man, he also “had some woman in New York” (Fitzgerald 23) as claimed by Jordan (who is later revealed to be Myrtle). However, when Tom confronts Daisy about her love for him, she has to admit that she did love him once, when Gatsby was not there, “[she] can’t help what’s past”, “[she] did love him once” (Fitzgerald 142).
The internal conflict of Daisy’s between love and wealth is apparently visible throughout the story. This conflict deepens our understanding about the personalities, the actions and words of the character, which accordingly leads to better comprehension of the story itself.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “The Great Gatsby”.
Reflection on “The Great Gatsby”
F. Scott Fitzgerald has finally decided to name his piece – later on a masterpiece – The “Great” Gatsby. What is it about Gatsby that makes him so “great”? He is a man who dares to dream and to chase after it. A man who dedicates himself to love, who believes he could go back in time and remake everything. Doubtless, Gatsby is a great man to have lived.
Gatsby’s love for Daisy is undeniably enviable. “He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: “I never loved you.” (Fitzgerald 118). His lover was a materialistic person, “It makes [her] sad because [she has] never seen such — such beautiful shirts before.” (Fitzgerald 99) when she first arrives at Gatsby’s mansion. She is overwhelmed by the wealth, not by Gatsby’s genuine love. Gatsby is aware of her personality, yet he never ceases loving her. Instead, he by all means tries to become affluent just to satisfy Daisy’s needs. So Gatsby resorts to doing illegal business – liquor smuggling – with Wolfshiem and made a fortune out of it. He buys a mansion right across Daisy’s house, throws huge parties to get Daisy’s attention, and does almost everything to prove his worth. But Daisy, the selfish Daisy, she never appreciates Gatsby’s adoration and efforts. Still, he is stubborn and consistent. He never gives up on Daisy, though she is so far away from him.
Gatsby also believes he could turn back time and repeat the past, which seems rather foolish but turns out to be worthy and meaningful. The past that he wants to regain is irretrievable, Daisy now has a family after all those years, and Gatsby himself has changed too. Even though Gatsby is to relive his past with Daisy momentarily, it cannot have been close to the original romance. Nick claims that “You can’t repeat the past.” and Gatsby replies “Why of course you can!”, stating his positivity towards that cause and his determination to “fix everything just the way it was before.” (Fitzgerald 114). Though Nick’s point is realistic, that one can only go forward not backward, Gatsby never seems to lose faith and stops trying. He knows too well that he is against the current, that his dream is corrupted, but it is all worthy. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” (Fiztgerald 193). It is true, that Gatsby cannot turn back and repeat everything, but he would relentlessly hold on to it, no matter how much he struggles. He would always believe in the green light – the American dream itself, and always find another way to get what he wants.
In the end, not only did Gatsby gained Nick Carraway’s trust, he also achieved Nick’s respect and admiration. Nick was one of the only few who showed up at Gatsby’s funeral. Through his actions and thoughts, Gatsby has proved to be a great man indeed.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “The Great Gatsby”.
Trumpet – Jackie Kay
Trumpet – a novel published in 1989 by Jackie Kay – illustrates the controversial topic of gender and sex identification. As the novel proceeds, it can be proved through different perspectives from numerous narrators that one’s biological sex does not define his/her true identity.
First, Joss Moody was born Josephine Moore but has lived a man his whole adulthood, from which it can be derived that Joss’s own perception of his gender identity is not based on his biological features. Joss lives upon the standards of a man, and successfully convince people so, he “just pluck[s] the name Joss Moody out of the sky and call[s] himself this name and encourage[s] people to do likewise” (Kay 80). To demonstrate his masculinity, he acts, talks and dresses like a man since it is generally believed that “[y]ou are what you wear” (Walker 35). He wore bandages around his chest, “didn’t care if it was uncomfortable” (Kay 238); consequently, he is a man when others are unaware of his anatomical body. He refuses the hospital until his death, so his female aspects cannot be detected. He rarely discusses his given name, even with Millie, and often refers to Josephine as a third person: “[…] whenever the name Josephine Moore came up, he’d say, ‘Leave her alone’, as if she was somebody else.” (Kay 93). Josephine existed once, but she is no longer there since Joss realized and decided he was Joss Moody.
Secondly, people around Joss Moody, whether or not very close to him, view him as a man while he was still alive. In the case of Millie Moody, she is the sole person who knows about Joss’s secret and decides to respect it till he was gone. She agrees to marry him regardless, and helps him with his clothes every morning: she “wrapped two cream bandages around his breasts”, “[she] had to help him get dressed so that he could enjoy his day and be comfortable” (Kay 238). Together, they led a happy marriage, even adopted a baby (Colman) and raised him as mother and father. In “The Truth is a Thorny Issue: Lesbian Denial in Jackie Kay’s Trumpet”, it is conveyed that Joss’s masculinity is just a deception in order to make Millie fall in love with him, “Kay is implying that Millie fell in love with Joss before she had any idea that he was female”, then “during a difficult patch of their relationship, Millie is angry enough to consider the possibility that she is a victim of Joss’s actions” (Davies 7). This lacks precision, since Millie never ceases adoring Joss after realizing the truth. She may feel abnormal and shocked, but she certainly does not feel deceived. The fact that Joss has female parts is no obstacle in their relationship. As for Colman, he spends much of his life around Joss, appreciates the sound of Joss’s trumpet and always considers Joss his father. Even though there were sometimes conflicts, Colman still adores his father. Big Red McCall from Joss’s jazz band never suspected anything feminine about Joss, “[s]ome guys said Moody had a baby face”, “[he] beat[s] up anybody who came out with those things (Kay 144).
After Joss Moody’s death, when the secret is finally revealed, perspectives change accordingly, but in the end they still agree to the fact that Joss Moody is a famous male jazz artist, not a transvestite named Josephine Moore. Millie is one of those who “can remember [Joss] the way he wanted to be remembered” (Kay 50), so the gender identity of Joss’s can be protected. At the registrar’s, “she asked Mr. Sharif if [Joss] could be registered as a man” (Kay 79), she refuses to cooperate with Sophie Stones to write a book about Joss’s personal life. Colman, however, developed resentment and fury towards Joss, as Joss never informed him of the truth. His thinking: “My father had tits. My father didn’t have a dick.” (Kay 61) indicate Colman’s confusion and sense of betrayal. Nevertheless, during an interview with Stones, he said: “Don’t bother with this him/her bullshit. […] Just say him.” (Kay 142). After his visit to Edith Moore’s home, he ceases cooperating with Stones, saying “it’s [his] morals”, “[he is] Colman Moody, the son of Joss Moody, the famous trumpet player. [Joss]’ll always be daddy to [him] (Kay 259), nothing can alter his love for his father. This signifies that Joss’s sex is irrelevant and incomparable to fatherly affection. McCall remarks: “Do you think I’m bothered? Do you think anybody’s bothered? It’s the fucking music that matters.” (Kay 148), claiming Joss’s contribution to jazz music is more significant than his biological sex. Despite possessing a female body, Joss Moody is still a devoted jazz artist, “[…]we’ll be left with his music. That’s what matters.” (Kay 159).
In conclusion, Trumpet by Jackie Kay has provided solid evidence proving against the relevance of biological sex and one’s identity. Through the perspectives of various characters in the novel, it can be inferred that a person’s identity is constructed by his/her influence on other people, the way he/she chooses to appear and the contributions he/she make throughout his/her life.
Kay, Jackie. “Trumpet”.
Davies, Ceri. “The Truth is a Thorny Issue: Lesbian Denial in Jackie Kay’s Trumpet”
Walker, Alice. “As You Wear: Cross-dressing and Identity Politics n Jackie Kay’s Trumpet”