Tim Burton – Essay

“Fear grows in darkness; if you think there’s a bogeyman around, turn on the light.” Tim Burton is a renowned director who is well known for his ability to create really effective gothic imagery, especially in two of his most famous films; “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” and “Sleepy Hollow.” He does this using various film techniques, such as lighting, symbolism and flashbacks. In this essay, i shall explain the use of these techniques in the films “Sweeney Todd” and “Sleepy Hollow,” and show how Tim Burton is able to manipulate the audience’s view on certain scenes.

Tim Burton’s films are consistently meant to be seen as dark and scary. One way that Burton portrays such a unsettling image on the screen is by the use of lighting. There is many different types of lighting that can be used but in Tim Burton’s films he favours some specific techniques including low-key lighting, and chiaroscuro, which is associated with the German expressionism movement. Low-key lighting is a use of only one key light that creates a more prominent view on the subjects features, by putting shade on to parts of the object or person.  This technique is how the chiaroscuro effect is created. Chiaroscuro is the use of using bold contrasts in lighting, between lightness and darkness, and it is used to indicate the use of the low-key lighting. Both these techniques are used to enhance the shadows in the scene which therefore creates a dark tone and colours. This creates quite a scary atmosphere and mood which makes the viewer quite uncomfortable when watching. Firstly, effective lighting is used in Burton’s “Sweeney Todd.” Burton uses low-key lighting throughout the film, for example during the scene when Todd and Mrs Lovett are in Todd’s barber shop after she has given his precious blades to him. The room is small and has little mise-en-scene. The room is only lit from the light coming through a big dirty window, that creates a long shadow across the room. The outside environment is already quite dark and gloomy so this window does not bring in very bright light, it rather creates a rather monochromatic tone in the room. By the use of lighting in the room, Burton has caused the viewer to see only half of the characters faces, which also shows their facial features more distinctively and prominently. As well as the lighting on the faces, the lighting effect on the rise-en-scene also comes into effect. Secondly, Burton also uses low-key lighting and chiaroscuro in “Sleepy Hollow.” One scene where Burton used it effectively was in the scene when the headless horseman breaks into the Killian family’s home. The young kid is trying to hide from the horseman under the floorboards. Down here it is very dark with only small slithers of light coming through from between the cracks in the floor. The kid’s face can’t be fully seen, but there is usually one small beam that comes through onto his face. This also significant enhances his facial features and expression. Overall, I think Burton’s intention of using low-key lighting and chiaroscuro in these particular scenes is to foreshadow what is about to happen, and from the dark, monochromatic tones it indicates it is going to be a negative foreshadow, which is a subtle indication that something is about to happen in the near future. The slight darkness creates the vibe that a part of the character is mysterious because you can’t see their whole face. This indicates that we don’t know what is to come in the scene but it is slightly hinting that what is going to happen is not going to be good. Burton is trying to make the film slightly intense and keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. By using low-key lighting and chiaroscuro the viewer feels uncomfortable because it gives the sense of potential evil to come. It makes the viewer anticipate something scary is about to happen and sets the vibe for it. 

Secondly, symbolism in Burton’s films. He uses symbols as an element to create the famous gothic vibe he is famous for. Symbolism in films is a physical representation of an idea, an object or a person. Burton has used symbolism in both “Sweeney Todd” and “Sleepy Hollow.”  Firstly, Burton displays symbolism in “Sweeney Todd” when we first see Anthony come across Joanna, who he immediately falls in love with. Joanna is locked in a small room in the upstairs of Judge Turpin’s large estate. When the viewer is first introduced to the Joanna character, we see her singing looking out the window, to a small bird who is trapped in a cage. The bird in the cage is a symbol that represents her. They are both trapped in small confinements against their own will and want to get out as they look out into the open world. Secondly, Burton uses symbolism in “Sleepy Hollow” also. He again uses the symbol of a bird in a cage. Again, Burton is portraying the the character is trapped. In the film, it shows Ichabod Crane when he was a young boy. His mother gives him a toy that has a picture of a cage on one side, and a bird on the other. When you spin it, the bird appears to be trapped in the cage. Ichabod’s mother encourages him not to worry because the bird isn’t really trapped, even though it seems like it is. This toy symbolises Ichabod; he feels trapped but in reality it is him who has made himself feel trapped. There isn’t really a cage, just the illusion that we as people create to prevent us from getting hurt. He only feels trapped because it’s in his head that he is, but he can get through it with some effort and persistence. Overall, Burton’s aim of using symbols in his films is to express the characters emotions, sometimes to show how the characters feel even when they aren’t necessarily expressing their emotions. Burton uses symbols to portray ideas to the viewers that the characters can’t say. He has specifically used these so that the audience can understand what is happening throughout the film without actually explicitly saying anything about it. It is quite an unique way of portraying emotions, but to the audience is effective because it they can anticipate what is to come. In gothic fiction this is important because the storyline is meant to keep you on the edge of your seat and feeling slightly disturbed. These symbols create unease because of the emotions they display are quite unpleasant.

Lastly, Burton features scenes in his films that contain flashbacks of the main characters past. Flashbacks is a psychological phenomena that a person experiences when powerful emotions remind them of a past event. It is generally involuntary and the memories may be happy or sad depending on what triggers the flashback. Firstly, Burton has used flashbacks in “Sweeney Todd.” Towards to beginning of the film we see Sweeney have a flashback to when he was younger, triggered by Mrs Lovett when she speaks about ‘Benjamin Barker,’ who was a young barber, who Sweeney Todd used to be when he was happy and before he had his heart broken. The scene shows Barker, his wife Lucy, and his baby daughter Johanna. He is picking out some flowers, when Judge Turpin decides he is very interested in Lucy. Turpin has Barker arrested so he can take Lucy for himself. Now in the present, Barker’s alter ego, Sweeney Todd has come back to seek revenge. Secondly, Burton again uses flashbacks in “Sleepy Hollow.” Flashbacks of Ichabod’s childhood are shown when he is with his mother. Back then Ichabod was somewhat of a curious child, until he sees his mother get into trouble for using witchcraft. In the present, Ichabod has grown into a very skeptical character, who is very easily scared and frightened. He has lost almost all of his courage and is pretty much afraid of his own footsteps. In both films, the flashback scenes are projected in much brighter colours than the actual present scenes. Burton has done this to again, express the characters emotions. Back in the past the characters were much happier and living life ideally. In the present time scenes, it is all in monochromatic colours and tones which tells the viewer about the characters emotions again. The dark tones represents the angry, scared or evil emotions while the bright tones suggest the characters are happy and peaceful. So overall, Burton’s use of flashbacks was to again show the characters emotional state, past and present. This time, it somewhat shows the characters drive to what they do. For Sweeney Todd, the flashbacks show why he is seeking revenge and why he’s overwhelmed with anger, while Ichabod Crane’s flashbacks show why he is such a coward and why he is slightly selfish. In gothic fiction, one important factors of a character is too know why they feel the way they do and what there drive is. As the audience, this is important because it creates quite an intense vibe and keeps you interested because you know what the character wants overall and how badly they want it. 

Overall, Tim Burton is able to create a very effective gothic fiction film, through the use of lighting, symbols and flashbacks. Through these techniques, Burton is able to present ideas and information through certain character’s emotions and also through a setting’s lighting and what kind of vibe that creates. To conclude, Tim Burton’s influence on gothic fiction is very effective through the use of visual and verbal techniques in order the create such an unsettling image.

Film Study Questions

  1. Make a list of expressionist film techniques that have become linked with gothic horror- Chiaroscuro lighting is applied to create dramatic contrast between light and shadow to suggest the presence of dark aspects in human and nature.Low-key lighting is practiced to construct a dark story world. The elongated shadows appearing as the darkness enveloping and haunting the characters instill fear in the audiences

    – Dramatic shadows are seen as an element of the horror story to give off the shady and ominous feel. Shadow plays an important role in the narrative in which the shadow becomes the storyteller by reflecting the actions of the characters.

    –  Gothic makeup and clothing along with exaggerated movements of the actors are also expressions to the distortion of reality that further suggest ill psychological states.

    – The integration of these elements in mise-en-scene creates an overall graphic composition that gives a painting-like impression to the scenes.

  2. One particular technique, chiaroscuro (the contrast of light and dark) is particularly memorable in Sweeney Todd’s attic room. What are the key features of this setting that develop chiaroscuro?Firstly, there is no lighting in the room so the only light that can be seen comes through the window, from the outside which is still quite dark and gloomy as well. As the window is quite large, it creates large shadows as well, which creates even more darkness to the room.
  3. Think about chiaroscuro and its presence in Sleepy Hollow. Can you describe a setting in Sleepy Hollow that utilises this technique?The forest, it is again dark in there as well from the trees creating shadows which adds to the darkness. the forest floor is covered by a mist which takes away the brightness of the colour on the ground so makes it feel more of a dark vibe. Also, as there is so many trees you can’t see very far in front of you which causes a dark vibe too.
  4. Expressionist film making also favours colour to develop an idea. How is colour used in Sweeney Todd and Sleepy Hollow pay particular attention to the connection between past and present?In the past, looking at flashbacks it is all in quite a bright colour which portrays quite a warm vibe and its happy. But in the present it is all monochromatic so is quite dark which is quite cold and sad vibe.
  5. A feature of gothic horror is the claustrophobic fear that there is no escape. Consider techniques that are present in both films that develop this fear.
  6. What is the “Hammer Horror” style? Describe its defining features and explain what influences you can see in the two films.Many films readily exploited the moral and cultural anxieties that came with the rise of atomic warfare, creating giant, mutated monsters that terrorized cities. Hammer, on the other hand, found great success in the atmospheric dread of the gothic. Within the gothic aesthetic, there’s a focus on supernatural terrors. But atmosphere in particular is key, with huge, cavernous castles with hidden tunnels; seemingly inexplicable movement of objects; and a general sense of foreboding, with fog and rain accentuating the mood. Hammer, with its focus on creating eerie atmospheres while weaving stories of supernatural mystery, helped propel gothic horror back to popularity. This is evident in both films through the eerie vibe they both create. I believe this comes from the darkness and the feeling of always having to watch your back when your in the scene.

John Locke – Essay

“No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.” John Locke was an English philosopher from the 17th century to the early 18th century, he is regarded as one of the most influential people and thinkers from the enlightenment period for his theories. One of his more famous theories is the theory of knowledge. In this essay I will describe the similarities of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” to John Locke’s theory.

John Locke was born in England in 1632,  into an era beginning to enter the age of enlightenment. His theories proved to be some of the most influential during this period and most likely played a large role in the movement. Firstly, his theory of knowledge. In this theory he states that knowledge is empirical, meaning that knowledge is gained from observations or experience. This means that he believed that intelligence and intellect come from material substance rather than having innate ideas naturally in the human mind. Ideas are gathered through our own personal perceptions and reflections on things we’ve witnessed. He argues that at birth the brain starts as a “tabula rasa,” which is a Latin term for “blank slate.” Locke believes the brain is a “tabula rasa” to begin with and your life experiences are what paint the pictures in your head. The advanced and intelligent human brain is able to combine simple ideas to concoct more complex ideas, according to Locke’s theory.

 Firstly, Locke’s theory is shown by Mary Shelley through the scene when the monster is discovering fire for the first time. He is very cold and when he discovers the fire he notices that it makes him feel nice and warm. “I found a fire which had been left by some wandering beggars… In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly drew it out again with a cry of pain. How strange, I thought, that the same cause should produce such opposite effects!” When he feels this nice sensation, he decides to get lots of this feeling at once by putting his hand into the embers, because he believes the closer he gets the better it will be. He is quite surprised that the fire doesn’t always give off positive effects because if you get too close to the flame it will burn you. The flame teaches the monster a valuable lesson about pain: by getting too close he will get hurt. I believe the monster puts this lesson into his journey further. When he comes across the De Lacey family he remains on the outside and stays hidden from them outside the house. He has put his experience with the fire into his predicament, he stays outside, because in the fire, the outside is where he gained the nice feeling of warmth, and if he goes inside he is likely to get hurt. He stays outside and hidden and he absorbs the family’s language, and he doesn’t want to go inside because he will probably scare them. He knows this only from his previous experience which he obviously learnt it from. “The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.” John Locke’s quote explains how the people of high class and social rank are getting through life and how they do it well in order to become successful. It explains what the monster has just learnt to do; he has learnt to overcome what he has done wrong in the past which is therefore improving his knowledge as a person or being because he knows what to do or not to do in the future. He is building himself up from the bottom and into a powerful creature and I believe this is what Locke sees as the way to gain class and rank in the world.

Secondly, Mary Shelley portrays John Locke’s theory of knowledge through experience in the scene when Victor Frankenstein decides to destroy his second monster creation. The monster demands Victor create another being just like the monster so he can have a wife or female companion. “You must create a female for me with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. This you alone can do, and I demand it of you as a right which you must not refuse to concede.” At first, Victor listens to the monster’s threats and begins to create a female version of his initial creation. But he then decides this is not a good idea and he destroys the female being and disobeys the monster’s threatening message. “She might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness…” This again, is a presentation of John Locke’s theory of knowledge. Victor, to begin with, thinks it will result in the monster leaving him to himself for the rest of his days, but then he remembers what the monster has already done to him, such as killing and causing the deaths of Victor’s close family and friends. Victor then decides to destroy this second monster as he now knows that delving into this further won’t end well because the first time it caused major grief and mayhem. Victor has now learnt that his experiments aren’t always going to turn out how he wants them to. The first time Victor thought his experiment would be a huge scientific discovery that helped people everywhere but it ended up creating an evil in the world. So this second time he realises that this experiment may not end in peace because he learnt this from his previous experience: to not expect everything to go right for him all the time. Victor realises his creations aren’t always going to cause the world to benefit from it, and this time most likely will turn out similarly again.  John Locke’s quote: “Fortitude is the guard and support of the other virtues,” has a relation to Victor’s situation here again. This quote means that a man can show great courage through pain and grief to show great morals and responsibility. This relates to him because Victor is able to overcome his pain of losing family members and friends to show good morals of not creating another monster that will probably end as a mistake again. He makes the right decision even though he is putting himself at risk, which I believe takes great courage.

In conclusion, John Locke’s influence was definitely shown in Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ novel. His theory of knowledge plays a big role in the story and Mary Shelley has used this to her advantage through the main protagonist and antagonist characters of Victor Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster, respectively. She shows that knowledge is indeed empirical just as John Locke theorised. Overall, through the work of Mary Shelley, it can be confirmed that John Locke and his philosophy were influential through this time period, especially the enlightenment era.

Book Report – The Silence of the Lambs

“A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.” ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ is regarded as one of the best films of this generation, directed by Jonathan Demme and released in 1991. The story is a chilling tale that makes you shudder and cringe, following FBI agent trainee, ‘Clarice Starling,’ as she tries to work with the intimidating criminal ‘Hannibal Lecter,’ or as he is more known to the public of the story ‘Hannibal the Cannibal,’ to try apprehend serial killer ‘Buffalo Bill’ who is currently on a spree of kidnapping and killing.

Firstly, Hannibal Lecter fits as a gothic protagonist because he is generally secretive or surrounded by an air of mystery.  Lecter has quite an eerie vibe to him, firstly seen as he states throughout the movie “quid pro quo,” which is a Latin phrase meaning “a favour granted in return for something.” He demands information about Clarice’s life before he tells her about Bill. He has no reason for this gesture but it does come across as really creepy and it does almost feel like during the film that it is foreshadowing taking place because tells of daunting memories such as her father being killed when she was young. He thrives off this as he sees her start to feel weak and small as painful memories come flooding in. This could also be interpreted as another factor of the gothic protagonist because he has a “need to know” or curious nature. Lecter also comes across as mysterious as he tells of his own past as he started as a highly-rated psychiatrist. “Five foot ten, strongly built, about a hundred and eighty pounds; hair blonde, eyes pale blue. He’d be about thirty-five now.” He is scarily good at getting to know his victims and manipulating their thoughts and getting what he wants from them, and he also tells stories of when he starting his serial killing rampage, and how he killed a census taker, eating his liver with the utmost delight. Secondly,  Lecter shows traits of a gothic protagonist as he holds a position of power. The FBI need him to co-operate in order to track down Buffalo Bill, but Lecter is already in a life sentence in jail so why should he? He can toy around with them all he wants because he has nothing to lose, which puts his status above everyone else. He is then able to manipulate them into whatever he wants just to get what they want from him, but little do they know he is always plotting a cunning plan…

Overall, ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ is a great film and will be regarded as a outstanding storyline for years to come. The storyline follows a gothic protagonist, in Hannibal Lecter that shows some of the main traits that makes him such a spine-chilling figure. Jonathan Demme was able to aesthetically create a dark vibe to go with the tale which again foreshadows the upcoming events nicely.

Book Report – The Tell Tale Heart

“Yes! Yes, I killed him. Pull up the boards and you shall see! I killed
him. But why does his heart not stop beating?! Why does it not stop!?” ‘The Tell Tale Heart’ by Edgar Allan Poe is a short story initially published in 1843 and is narrated by an unnamed character of whom the story is about. This story is about the stories protagonist, the narrator, and an old man that he cares to by day but is trying to destroy his “vulture-like eye” by night. The storyline is strongly influenced by the narrator’s emotions, especially guilt.


At the beginning of the story the narrator sets the tone initially by stating “It’s true, yes, I have been ill, very ill. But why do you say i have lost control of my mind? Why do you say I’m mad?… Indeed, the illness only made my mind, my feelings, my senses strong, more powerful.” From this the reader is straight away led to believe that the narrator is quite crazy and maybe even traumatised from an intense event they have experienced in the past. This theme is present throughout the entire story and it is evident that the man begins to lose his mind. From this insanity that he is suffering from, leads him to have different beliefs and thoughts that are certainly quite out of the ordinary and bizarre. His emotions take him over and he is driven by them to do actions he definitely wouldn’t normally do, especially to someone he takes care of. But because his emotions are so strong he forgets all about the good of the old man he usually shows compassion to and takes care of and he is only focussed on very small things, which are strong enough for him to cause harm. He believes that if he doesn’t follow these ambitions that he will be taken over by them, this being the “vulture eye.” Much like a vulture, he believes it will actually watch and wait until he is dead and pick up his scraps as a scavenger. He is driven by his emotions rather than logic or reason which is quite spooky to think about. These are distinct contrasting qualities, being that he has someone he cares so much for, but he also has a huge amount of hatred to them as well. Highly emotional and unstable characters such as the narrator are usually quite an important to gothic fiction as they create quite a eerie vibe and set the quite scary tone of the story. After reading the story, i felt quite as though it was quite scary because the story is almost realistic and the thought of that happening is quite daunting. I feel as though the character may have gone through something bad and he is going through post-traumatic stress or something like that. He feels as though these experiences have made him stronger but in actual fact he is actually quite frail and it has done the opposite. In my opinion, this is why he has the thoughts of causing harm because he is constantly worried that he is going to get hurt again so he has to destroy these thoughts, by taking actions towards them. He is so insane that things that aren’t even real and are in his imagination are going to cause him harm. This is an effect from his insanity and it is taking his body over and forcing him into things he wouldn’t do if he had never been “ill.” The author has used a really unique way of showing this by using the characters point of view and what they are thinking inside their head instead of just showing what is happening by observation. This is a very key aspect of how the story came across as scary because as the reader this makes it feel more scary. This puts the reader on the edge of their seat and intrigued, because they continue to read to see if the intense storyline has the ending of what the narrator is expecting it too, so it as if the narrator is in the same seat as the reader because even they don’t know the final outcome.


In conclusion, Edgar Allan Poe was able to create a story that left the reader wanting to see the final outcome. It shows contrasting qualities which can be put into perspective in everyday life. I also felt quite drawn into the story through learning thoughts of the narrator that are usually kept secret in other story’s narrations and i felt this quite spooky. Overall, i found this text to be quite unique to other short stories, this made me intrigued and wanted to read more.

Frankenstein – Glossary

Ardour – Great enthusiasm or passion.

Chimera – In Greek mythology, a fire-breathing female monster with a lion’s head, goats body and a serpents tail.

Ardent – Very enthusiastic and passionate.

Benevolent – Well meaning and kindly.

Hitherto – Until now or until the point in time under discussion.

Excursion  – A short trip or journey, especially one taken as a leisurely one.

Relinquish – Voluntarily cease to keep or claim; give up.

Vehement – Showing strong feeling; forceful, passionate or intense.

Sepulchre – A small room or monument, cut in rock or built in stone.



Frankenstein – Event

Victor Frankenstein and Henry Clerval go to Ingolstadt University.

Frankenstein and his childhood friend, Clerval go to university in Germany to study chemistry. At the beginning, Frankenstein feels pretty lonely and that he has to fend for himself while he is there. “I, who had ever been surrounded by amiable companions, continually engaged in endeavouring to bestow mutual pleasure—I was now alone. In the university whither I was going I must form my own friends and be my own protector.” Further into his time at the university he becomes much more involved in the studies and grows into more of a leader figure to his peers. “I attended the lectures and cultivated the acquaintance of the men of science of the university.” He was no longer alone in the university and he felt much more comfortable. He began to get really good at what he was studying, being chemistry and would’ve looked like a really outstanding student to his peers and lecturers. “I, who continually sought the attainment of one object of pursuit and was solely wrapped up in this, improved so rapidly that at the end of two years I made some discoveries in the improvement of some chemical instruments, which procured me great esteem and admiration at the university.”

Significant Connections – 1.8

“People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” A quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher and poet from the late 1800s. His quote shows the idea of people changing their entire personality or lifestyle in order to gain respect or something they find important from others that they may see as superior to them. They believe so strongly in what they are doing that they get caught up in their own illusion and it becomes a reality for them.  This is shown in the texts by certain characters such as Jay Gatsby in ‘The Great Gatsby,’ written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Skepta in ‘That’s Not Me,’ a song by Skepta himself, Darnell from ‘Get Hard’ directed by Etan Cohen, and also the landlady from ‘The Landlady’ by Road Dahl. All of these characters in the texts are faced with some sort of illusion in some way and what i will be discussing in this text is how they feel or face up against their illusions and how they pursue their goal that their illusion is created by. 

Firstly, Jay Gatsby from the novel ‘The Great Gatsby,’ written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Gatsby shows illusion all throughout the entire text and is actually so caught up in his own illusion he refuses to believe that it isn’t a reality. In the story, an incredibly poor, young man named James Gatz creates an ideal version of himself called Jay Gatsby. Jay Gatsby is an immensely wealthy man who lives in the West Egg of Long Island, New York. The reason for the creating of this illusion of himself is his plan to get back the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan of East Egg. Gatz is so caught up in his pursuit of Daisy that he doesn’t actually believe that he’s living a fake life. “‘Can’t repeat the past?'” he cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can.'” The stories narrator, Nick Carraway believes that Gatsby relies on “the colossal vitality of his illusion.” When he says this it tells the reader that Gatsby lives off the life of his ideal self and without him he would be nothing, and Daisy wouldn’t be interested in him at all. He has devoted most of his life to his goal and has put so much effort into it that he refuses to take no as an answer. This relates to the main theme, as Gatz uses the illusion that he is rich to get Daisy back because he believes that having money is what she wants in the man she is going to love, he uses his illusion to regain something that is incredibly important to him.

Secondly, Skepta’s hit song ‘That’s Not Me.’ Skepta is a British grime rapper who immigrated from Nigeria to London. He started with humble beginnings but is now living the high life, travelling across the globe performing his music to his millions of fans. His hit song ‘That’s Not Me’ is him talking about and trying to get the message across that you don’t have to wear designer brands, drive expensive cars and have heaps of model ‘side chicks’ to be respected in the industry that he is in, because many artists go out of their way by spending thousands of dollars on clothes and cars and get with attractive woman they may not even particularly like just to get respected and look cool. Skepta’s past is full of this type of activity but in the song he explains how he came to his senses and how he decided that he would rather be himself. In the chorus of the song he says “Yeah, I used to wear Gucci , I put it all in the bin cause that’s not me. True, I used to look like you, but dressing like a mess? Nah, that’s not me.” Gucci is a designer brand that is well known for having really high quality, super expensive clothes that to many people may not be seen as stylish but in fact quite weird looking. He says that he used to wear expensive brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and BAPE to look cool when he really would rather wear what he thinks is fashionable. He “threw it in the bin” because he no longer wanted to act as though he was someone else trying to impress everyone that he follows and who follow him in the industry. “You’ll never see me smoking a cigarette, cah cigarette smoker, that’s not me” This also shows that when he was acting as an illusion of himself that he may have been peer-pressured into things he didn’t want to do such as smoking or even doing drugs, which is really common over the world at the moment. What he really wants to be doing is make good music for his fans to enjoy. “There’ll never be a day when i don’t make music ’cause silent? Nah, that’s not me.” This relates to my first text, ‘The Great Gatsby’ with Jay Gatsby because both characters are trying to impress other people by going out of their way with money. Gatsby illegally made money in order to lure Daisy back into his grasp while Skepta, back in his past used money in order to lure in publicity and fans. This relates to the main theme of, changing your personality in order to gain respect or something strongly desired even though it’s not a reality.

My third text is ‘Get Hard,’ a 2015 movie set in California, USA directed by Etan Cohen. This movies involves an extremely wealthy hedge fund manager, James King be sentenced to prison, with 30 days given to him to get his affairs in order. James comes to know Darnell Lewis, a black man that cleans cars for a living who is looking to make some money in order to move out of the small neighbourhood he lives in and get his daughter better education. James mistakes Darnell as a thug in quite a racist way and assumes that he has been to prison himself. “Teach me how to survive in prison, the way you did!” “Tell me how you know I went to prison?” “Given your low economic status, your perceived lack of college education… statistically, you definitely went to prison!” Darnell has never even been given a parking ticket, but he decides to play along in the act in order to make some money off of it. “What reason did you give to him, to assume you went to jail?” “I was being black!” “You’re not exactly a thug, Darnell!” An illusion is shown in the character of Darnell because he is putting on an act that he lives a lifestyle he actually doesn’t in reality. James is only able to see the illusion of who Darnell is. He sees Darnell as a thuggish, criminal who lives in a gang house, when really he lives in a tidy house with a nicely kept garden with his wife and daughter. Much like Skepta, Darnell has created a different version of himself in order to gain respect from his superiors. Darnell created his illusion to make some quick and easy money, while Skepta created his illusion to gain publicity for his music, which ultimately would result in him making more money, while neither character was really in their own ideal environment for what they were trying to achieve. The theme again continues through this text, as Darnell has changed his personality, by doing something he really doesn’t want to be doing, just to make an easy, yet substantial amount of money. 

Lastly, the landlady from Roald Dahl’s short story, ‘The Landlady.’ The story is about a 17-year-old boy named Billy Weaver. He is visiting the city of Bath for the first time and is looking for a cheap place to stay. He never knew anyone who lived there so he was looking for a hotel, in the dark, in a place he had never been to before. On his way to ‘The Bell and Dragon’ hotel which he was told was nearby, Billy stumbled across a small cozy looking ‘Bed and Breakfast’ which was “brilliantly illuminated” making it look really inviting between all the old houses that you “could see the paint was peeling from the woodwork on their doors and windows,” making this small bed and breakfast look even nicer of a place to stay at. Billy thought “certainly it would be more comfortable than The Bell and Dragon.” So he rang the bell and was greeted by a middle aged woman who “gave him a warm, welcoming smile.” What Billy sees at this point in the story is a really nice woman, the landlady, who is kindly offering her home to him just as an act of kindness. As the story goes on, Billy comes to find himself in a different situation to what he thought he was in for when he was pleasantly welcomed in.  The landlady isn’t who she initially appeared to be, Billy later describes her  “to be slightly off her rocker.” The reader learns that the landlady is actually a murderer who keeps her victims bodies in her house. She purposely creates an illusion that she is just a kind woman with a goal of giving back to younger people in the community, but she just uses this to lure the innocent young men in. She is really a sick woman who is just trying to kill these young men and keep the bodies in the upstairs of her, what was thought to be “decent house.” This illusion is similar to the illusion shown in ‘Get Hard,’ with Darnell. Darnell is trying to act as though he is something he isn’t in an effort to lure James’ money in and take it before he realises that Darnell isn’t what he says he is. The landlady is similar as she is creating an illusion of herself in order to lure in the young boys and take their lives just before they realise she isn’t who she seems to be.  The similar theme in the two texts is that both characters are trying to lure in something by using an illusion of themselves, which follows the main theme of changing your personality in order to gain something out of it.

To conclude, the texts ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, ‘That’s Not Me’ by Skepta, ‘Get Hard,’ directed by Ethan Cohen, and ‘The Landlady,’ written by Roald Dahl, all show the reader an idea of illusion in a character. They all help to show me the idea of how people love and desire something so much that they get to the point where they are so desperate they end up changing their whole identity and lifestyle. It also shows that you don’t always have to be what people want you to be rather than what you want to be, because it doesn’t necessarily determine how much people will like you and your unique identity. “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”


Speech: Le Tour de France and Drug Cheating

“To change the man that did those things, maybe not the decision, but the way he acted. It was unacceptable, inexcusable. He was an asshole.” Lance Armstrong, just one of hundreds caught using banned substances to boost their performance in ‘Le Tour de France,’ an annual 23-day-long road cycling race that has been running for over 100 years. It is one of the most notorious professional sports events for athletes using performance enhancing drugs such as EPO,  testosterone, nandrolone and many, various other illegal drugs and practices.

Over the years, an illusion has been created in Le Tour de France. This illusion being that when you look at the peloton of riders, you see it is filled with amazing athletes with incredible strength and endurance, when really who actually is in that peloton is a deceiving version of a rider who wouldn’t be in the position or at such a high level if it wasn’t for the use of the many drugs or steroids they are taking.

Road-cycling the monstrous mountains of France for 23 days in a row would be quite the lung buster, especially when you’re coming up against the best cyclists and teams of athletes in the world, who can ride over 200km in just 4 hours. To put that in perspective, thats like riding your bike over the Crown Range to Queenstown and back, averaging a speed of 50 km/h. If you were in that situation, don’t you think it would cross your mind to cheat in order to beat everyone else at some time? For many of the competitors in Le Tour de France over the years it certainly has, and too many actually go through with it and do cheat, by using performance enhancing drugs, and quite frankly, ruining professional sport.

On the list of sports with the most drug users, road cycling is right at the very top, with 3.7% of cyclists at amateur, semi-professional and professional levels caught. This may not sound like very much but once you get to professional levels it increases drastically. For example, over the seven-year span from 1999 to 2005, 87% of the top ten finishers in the Tour de France over those years were caught doping, thats 61 out of 70 riders. How would you feel if you were one of those other 9 riders who was genuinely riding, trying to win, but with no chance because everyone else has unnaturally made their bodies have a much better aerobic respiration system and has taken away the problem of fatigue as they have taken away their bodies anaerobic ability to produce lactic acid. Those riders would’ve almost definitely taken out the win if the other cheating riders didn’t decide to ruin everyone else’s chances and create an uneven playing field.

One of those riders, who is now probably now more famous for cheating than what he actually achieved when he was riding is Lance Armstrong. He went from being someone that parents told their kids to aspire to be like, to someone that parents tell their kids that they’ll disown if they ever do anything like what he did. However, earlier in his career he was seen as quite the hero, and rightly so. Over the years from 1999 to 2005, Lance won 7-consecutive Le Tour de France titles, which is the most in the tours history. This streak starting just two years after going through aggressive chemotherapy for testicular cancer. For the next seven years he was a labelled as a legendary athlete who defied the odds. His glory lasted for 7 years, up until 2012, when he admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he was using EPO throughout what was thought to be an illustrious career. He was immediately stripped of all 7 of his titles and an Olympic bronze medal that he won in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics. But what is probably the worst thing is that he lost all his sponsors which included huge brands such as Nike, Trek Bicycles and Oakley which were paying him over $20 million US in endorsements even after he retired. After other professional cyclists saw the scandal with the money he lost and the millions of ex-fans giving hatred towards him and what he got taken away from him you would think they’d decide to never go down the path of doping, but you’d be wrong. Still athletes, not just cycling are still frequently getting caught all over the world for it and therefore ruining their careers, reputations and also giving themselves long term health problems. Although, most athletes are only dealt a 2-year ban from professional sports meets after being caught, which is virtually granting them a second chance. Which is not fair to anyone else that is true to the rules of the sport and is happy to compete on an even playing field.

So as you can see, the temptation of cheating is certainly high but how it affects you and everyone else around you should be the deciding factor in making the decision not to do it, because if you do, you may end your career much like Lance Armstrong, an athlete that is now hated and left with nothing, but did actually have the potential to be really good at what he did. And to the many athletes who still compete after being caught using doping drugs, consider yourselves lucky, because your career should have ended the moment you were caught cheating and discovered to have been ruining the careers of true athletes.










The Great Gatsby – Planning Grid: Setting

Describe at least one important place in the written text.

Explain how that place helped you to understand an important message in the text.


Setting Important Message Evidence x2
Valley of Ashes Failed American Dream “About half way between West Egg and New York the motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes—a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”



East Egg & West Egg Represents ‘old money’ meaning the people that live here have had their wealth for a long time. They were born into wealthy families and never had to work hard to make themselves a living.
Manhattan People trying to make wealth, and the quest to make riches and get pleasure.


“I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.”  ‘The Great Gatsby,’ a 1925 novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Nick Carraway, the stories narrator tells the story of Jay Gatsby’s quest from rags to riches to acquire his love of 5 years, Daisy Buchanan. The story takes place in New York, and many of these settings show main ideas that the book promotes, These settings being The Valley of Ashes, East Egg and Manhattan. 

Throughout the story, the Valley of Ashes shows the idea of the American Dream being a failure. “It shows the quest for wealth as the rich indulge themselves with regard for nothing but their own pleasure.” Our first view on the valley is when Nick and Gatsby are going through it towards Manhattan. Nick describes the scene as “a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens.” He then adds that it is “where ashes take forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke.” He then goes on to describe the people of the valley as “ash-grey men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.”  When he says this it paints a picture of the poor and how they live in this really dirty environment that isn’t the ideal place to be living. It also informs the reader of the social decay that is present in this setting which is a result from the rich not caring. Fitzgerald uses this setting to illustrate that the world has lost care for people that are less fortunate as what they are. They are just left to rot in the slums and ghettos of the dirty neighbourhoods that are spread all over our globe. The American Dream is ideally meant to be equality of opportunity to anyone, but the people that are dumped in the Valley of Ashes aren’t given any opportunities and are certainly not treated equal to people who live in the East Egg for example. The wealthier people just sit back with their feet up as people that struggle for money are working to make a living for themselves and a family that relies on them. Fitzgerald is trying to put the message across to the real world that maybe people should make more of an effort to create equality throughout our time on this planet, because every person does deserve it and they only are here once.

Secondly, Fitzgerald uses the East Egg and West Egg as some of the main settings for the characters throughout the story. They are situated in Long Island, New York. East Egg is across the bay from Gatsby and Nick’s houses and is where Tom and Daisy lives, and West Egg is where Gatsby and Nick live, and where Gatsby’s huge, extravagant parties go down. West Egg is said to be the “well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is the most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them.” East Egg is said to be the location of “Old Money,”  meaning that the people that live there have had their wealth and riches since they were born and came into a family that already had money, like Tom and Daisy, whereas West Egg is “New Money” meaning these people have just come into riches and made it there by themselves, sometimes illegally, like Gatsby. The East Egg and West Eggs are a representation of the American Dream being corrupt.