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journey of a ten through talons


Mercutio: The Campaigner

So I may have inspired Mr. Morris to make us do this assignment…(sorry!)


The Campaigner personality is a true free spirit. Charming, independent, energetic and compassionate, […] Campaigners will bring an energy that often times thrusts them into the spotlight, held up by their peers as a leader and a guru. [However], particularly when under stress, criticism or conflict, Campaigners can experience emotional bursts that are counter-productive at best.



Mercutio, a relative of Prince Escalus, only appears in four of Romeo and Juliet‘s 24 scenes, but creates a profound and lasting impression on the audience. This is due to his extremely extroverted and imaginative personality, which lends one to believe that his Myers-Briggs personality type is that of an ENFP (Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Prospective). Mercutio displays his spontaneity and extensive imagination during his ‘Queen Mab’ speech, when he creates an entire story about “the fairies’ midwife” that “gallops night by night/Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love” (1.4.54/70-71). He essentially creates a conversational tangent, in which he rambles about Queen Mab for several minutes, but actually only communicates a simple point: that he thinks dreams are stupid. This suggests that Mercutio isn’t a laconic speaker, a characteristic typical of personality types with “J” instead of “P”. His improvised and wild speech demonstrates that Mercutio does not give much thought to what he is saying, reinforcing his ENFP personality type. He also ‘performs’ the speech in front of a rapt and attentive crowd, suggesting that his extroversion draws others to him. Furthermore, Mercutio’s easily incited temper proves deadly for him, as he calls Tybalt a “king of cats” and intends to take “one of your nine lives […] and dry-beat the rest of the eight” (3.1.76-78). Mercutio, disgusted at Romeo’s refusal to draw against Tybalt, calls Tybalt a cat of great standing, and wants to kill him once with a sword, and then eight more times by beating him. Although Mercutio may be joking, Tybalt still agrees to fight him, and eventually stabs him under Romeo’s arm. Mercutio’s lack of foresight is a characteristic of an ENFP personality type. Also, his derogatory comparison of Tybalt to a cat is typical of someone whose emotions control their actions, and do not think before they speak. Readers of Romeo and Juliet often find Mercutio as a foil character to Romeo: he is extremely energetic, easily angered, and coarse. However, the audience and characters alike can sense his presence in every scene he is a part of. As the poet John Dryden said, “Shakespeare show’d the best of his skill in his Mercutio, and [was] was forc’d to kill him in the third Act, to prevent being killed by him.”


Are Romeo and Juliet Really Mature? The In-FACT-tuations Suggest Otherwise

Based on our readings so far, do you agree or disagree that Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is one of “‘infatuated children’ engaging in ‘puppy love’”? Why or why not? Provide at least two pieces of textual evidence.

Romeo and Juliet’s relationship through Act 1 and 2 is little more than that of two inexperienced, infatuated teens. When Romeo sees Juliet for the first time at Capulet’s party, he boldly declares that “I ne’er saw true beauty till this night” (1.5.153). His statement would be insignificant if Juliet was truly the first person he loved, but Romeo has just spent the near-entirety of Act 1 admiring another girl, Rosaline. His complete shift from eyeing one girl to another does not display maturity, but rather, informs the reader that he may simply be attracted to a girl’s beauty and nothing else. As for Juliet, she originally has some reservations about love, stating to Romeo that “I have no joy of this contract to-night. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden […] This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath, May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet” (2.1.117-118, 121-122). However, in a manner of moments, she tells Romeo that “If that thy bent of love be honourable, Thy purpose marriage, send me word to-morrow” (2.1.143-144). Her initial coolness to rushed love pushes her to slow Romeo’s advances, as she believes that love must develop and mature like a flower. Juliet is clearly the more prudent of the two lovers, and wants to ensure that she actually is in love before beginning a longer relationship. However, after a few more gestures of affection and passion, she quickly tells Romeo to propose marriage to show his love for her. It seems as if the youthful, impulsive side of Juliet has always been inside her, and is now prevailing and controlling her decisions. Even Juliet, a very careful and thoughtful youth, succumbs to passion and desire before thinking and reason. Although Romeo and Juliet’s love does prove in later acts to be more than just ‘puppy love’, their initial impressions of each other seem to suggest otherwise.


To what extent is Kulich’s argument that Romeo and Juliet should not be viewed as children effective, or even historically accurate?

Jindra Kulich’s argument cannot be seen as factually and historically correct. Kulich is unclear on what defines an ‘adult’, originally stating that when he was 14 in the 1940’s, he had to “go to work and assume [my] responsibilities”. However, back in the early 1600’s in Italy, schooling was not compulsory at all, and therefore cannot be even considered as a factor in determining adulthood. Considering Romeo and Juliet’s extremely privileged upbringing, they probably would have been schooled by the best tutors in Verona, and would still be learning about various customs and ways of life at their age. One possible factor in determining adulthood is the age of marriage, as the married couple would then have to assume much larger responsibilities in their household. In 1619, the average marriage age was 26 for men, and 23 for men. Both ages are ten years older than Romeo and Juliet are, respectively. In terms of physical maturity, most children’s puberty came “two or three years later than it does today” according to a paper published by the University of Victoria (“The Age of Marriage”). This means that that it is entirely possible that Juliet had not even started to physically mature yet – she is still referred to as a “child” by her own father, further reinforcing the notion of her youthfulness (1.2.8). Since Romeo seems to play a miniscule role in his family’s functioning life, and doesn’t even defend his house in the civil brawl at the start of the play, it is a stretch to believe that he could really be considered an adult. Through analyzing various factors, such as age of marriage and age of physical maturity in the 1600’s, and various moments in the play, it is difficult to agree with Kulich’s argument.





ZIP Document of Learning #4

Describe the ups and downs you have encountered to date in your inquiry. Specifically, when you were frustrated or struggling in your inquiry, what did you do to address the situation?

It’s been a very tumultuous journey so far! I’ve listed a few major positive and negative moments below:

Positive – actually starting to enjoy the reading. It took me roughly one week for this to occur, but when I started to hit a ‘reading groove’, and was able to follow Joyce’s seemingly impenetrable writing style, I felt myself being more intimately acquainted with the characters, particularly Bloom.

Negative – trying to read the book! Despite the occasional glimpses of light (as mentioned above), I often found myself struggling to understand what was happening. Also, when I was constantly flipping back and forth between the text, annotations, and online guides, it definitely broke up my ability to read a longer ‘phrase’, if you will. To counter this, I read the annotations of a page first and tried to understand the smaller details of the text, and then read the whole page. This was immensely helpful.

Positive – finding a proper question, and output for my project. Originally, I envisioned myself reading a section of Ulysses, reading three-four lengthy literary reviews, analyzing them, creating my own review of the section, and writing an expository essay about it all. Quickly, I found that would be impossible, but after a few discussions with Mr. Morris, I was able to focus my question (see my previous post). Now, I actually find myself enjoying creating my final presentation, because it directly incorporates my main goal of the project – reading Ulysses!

Negative – creating my presentation. Because reading is such a personal journey, I originally had no idea as to how to make a presentation, or guide, to how to read difficult texts. I’m still struggling a little, but we’ll see in the very near future if I’m able to solve my problem!


ZIP Document of Learning #3

Reflect on your inquiry question and how your understanding is changing, becoming more focused, or is perhaps being reaffirmed by your research. What do you now know that you didn’t know when you started this inquiry?

Much has shifted since my last document of learning! After much contemplation and discussion with Mr. Morris, I decided that my original question wasn’t actually what I wanted to get out of reading a section of the book. Instead, we brainstormed a topic that was a) universal, so I could teach the class something that they could apply to their own readings, and b) made more sense for the timeframe I had:

How does one make a challenging text more enjoyable to read?

Basically, how does a reader approach a difficult read before, during, and after the experience so that they will get more out of it? This way, as Mr. Morris mentioned, I can hopefully give the class a few pointers about how they can break down a seemingly large and impenetrable block of text (like much of Ulysses is), and use it in future English assignments such as Romeo and Juliet. I plan to display my learning by teaching the class a lesson.


ZIP Document of Learning #2

Take a moment to reflect on your inquiry plan. Do you need to make any revisions to your original plan? If so, why? If you haven’t made any changes to your plan, why do you feel you have been so successful in sticking to it?

My original plan was to complete reading 190 pages of Ulysses by Friday, December 15. Unfortunately, I am still 8 pages (around 20 minutes of reading) away from meeting my goal. This is due to the sheer difficulty of reading such a complicated text that requires constant dictionary searches, Irish history Wikipedia articles, and Latin-to-English translations to even begin to comprehend its meaning. I usually read ‘normal’ fiction books at around 1.5 pages per minute, but my Ulysses reading speed is only roughly 0.4 pages per minute. Also, with several other assignments and piano recitals occurring around now, I’ve only had time to read at home every two or three nights. Below is an example of a relatively tame quote from the book:

The cords of all link back, strandentwining cable of all flesh. That is why mystic monks. Will you be as gods? Gaze in your omphalos. Hello. Kinch here. Put me on to Edenville. Aleph, alpha: nought, nought, one. (3.6)

I will finish reading Ulysses before the Zip block on Monday, and determine three reviews of Ulysses that fit best for my inquiry question. I will read all of them before Friday, and discuss essay outlines with Mr. Morris around during CL on Thursday.


ZIP Document of Learning #1

What is a specific source of information that you have found valuable in answering your inquiry question? How has it proved valuable?

After around a week of reading, I’ve actually found Ulysses an enjoyable, albeit unconventional read. I have found two wonderful supplements of information to help me comprehend the reading: this website, entitled “Ulysses page-by-page”, and the notes at the end of the Annotated Student Edition of Ulysses. Reading the book without other notes has proven completely impossible, as there are frequent references to Aristotelian philosophy and the Bible, allusions to past books that Joyce wrote, and phrases in German, Latin, and French. “Ulysses page-by-page” inserts pictures beside lines that help me visualize the time period that Ulysses is taking place in, such as photos of mentioned objects (ex. frying kidneys, large keys, and Irish towers) as well as creating maps of the characters’ paths around Dublin. The annotated notes are extremely helpful for translations and political explanations, and also make connections between chapters and characters that I never would have spotted otherwise. For example, the word “metempsychosis” (definition: the transmigration of the soul) appears in both “Proteus” and “Calypso”, although the two featured characters don’t know each other.



ZIP Proposal: Tackling ‘The Hardest Read in the English Language’

Question: To what extent does James Joyce’s Ulysses deserve the critique of being the most challenging text in the English language?

Big Ideas: Questioning what we hear, read, and view contributes to our ability to be educated and engaged citizens.

Curricular Competencies:

  1. Apply appropriate strategies to comprehend written, oral, visual, and multimodal texts.
  2. Recognize and appreciate how different forms, formats, structures, and features of texts enhance and shape meaning and impact.
  3. Think critically, creatively, and reflectively to explore ideas within, between, and beyond texts.


  1. Read 190 pages of Ulysses (Episode 1-7).
  2. Read four different reviews of Ulysses.
    1. Three academic, one informal.
  3. Write a research essay answering my inquiry question.
  4. Decide whether I want to read the rest of the book.



  1. What would you like to learn to do/what question would you like to pursue in your inquiry? Why did you choose this skill/question? What motivates or excites you in pursuing this line inquiry?

I would like to investigate James Joyce’s Ulysses by reading a section of the book, and then reading and analyzing multiple reviews of the book and deciding whether they are fair assessments of Ulysses. My question is the following:

To what extent does James Joyce’s Ulysses deserve the critique of being the most challenging text in the English language?

I chose this question because Ulysses is a very formidable part of the English literature. I haven’t read many early-20th century novels, and am interested in the stream-of-consciousness narrative style that James Joyce is renowned (and scorned) for. I am excited to take on the challenge of reading it, and being able to determine for myself what makes it so controversial.

  1. What do you currently know about this topic/skill, and what skills do you currently have that will help you succeed in your work?

I currently know very little about James Joyce and his writing style, or Ulysses. Most of the prior knowledge I know about the book is from this Guardian article. However, I am a fairly avid reader, and can read at a pace of 473 words per minute (according to a comprehension test).

  1. What is a specific list of skills that you hope to have expanded on / learned by the end of this assignment?
    1. Learning how to read quickly (this project is only three weeks long), but also with comprehension.
    2. The ability to interpret a text and translate it into something that makes sense for me.
    3. The ability to critique reviews (ex. finding places of personal bias).
    4. The ability to properly identify characteristics that make a book difficult to read.
  2. Who can you approach for support during your work / research?

Mr. Morris, first and foremost. Ms. Walstrom (she has studied the book before). If necessary, other teachers in the English department?

  1. What are some other resources that might be useful in helping you complete your inquiry?
    1. The library copy of Ulysses I am using for the project has a whole section of notes that help explain the meaning of the prose.
    2. This website, which has a complete page-by-page analysis of Ulysses.
    3. A dictionary, to look up vocabulary I do not understand.
  2. How might you demonstrate your learning at the end of your inquiry?

I will write a research paper (around 5-6 pages) detailing my own reading of Ulysses and comparisons with other reviews of the book. For an in-class lesson, I could give groups different passages from the book and ask them to try and interpret its meaning, and write their own condensed version of the passage.

  1. What is your schedule for learning?

December 5th – Finish proposal.

December 5th – Begin reading, annotating, creating a list of words I don’t know, and summaries of chapters.

December 15th – Finish reading, write a review.

December 18th – Read four other reviews of Ulysses and make an essay outline.

  • Approve outline with Mr. Morris.

December 22nd – Begin writing essay.


Blog Response #3: Harrison 2081

In your opinion, what is the most effective medium for telling the “Harrison Bergeron” narrative: film or text? Explain your answer using specific details that relate to each version, as well as thoughtful reasoning.

Despite creating a more exciting and compelling version of Kurt Vonnegut’s written work Harrison Bergeron, the short film 2081 fails to capture the author’s cold and inhuman world that is essential to understanding this work. Vonnegut’s intent is to portray a civilization that is totally equal, making it impossible for fake bombs and satellite dishes to be secretly planted under a concert hall without being noticed like Harrison was able to in 2081. The film seems to forget how much of a fundamental part handicaps are in this society. Harrison is supposed to be looking like a “walking junkyard”, with 300-pound handicaps, not to mention “a red rubber ball for a nose”, shaved eyebrows, and black tooth caps (3/4). Yet in the film, he retains all of his regular facial features, and his handicaps don’t seem too much heavier than that of his father’s. Similarly, the ballerinas are only wearing small, elegant face masks, and don’t seem to be burdened by their weights. Finally, the film curiously juxtaposes who is watching Harrison’s demise on television: George is shown staring in the TV, seemingly making a connection with his son and holding a brief, but lasting moment of understanding. However sweet and sentimental it makes the scene, Vonnegut purposely sat Hazel in the viewing chair for this scene. He wanted her to watch the scene unfold without being hindered by handicaps, and still have absolutely no recollection of what just occurred. The reader can then infer that this scene might not be such a one-off, that scenes of rebellion occur more frequently, and it is through the constant work of the Handicapper General that no one can remember it.

Ignorance is bliss, Vonnegut suggests. Even though you can see exactly what is going on in front of your eyes, by being unable to register it, or perhaps choosing not to care, the problem does not really exist. However, 2081 twists this meaning, and is unable to realistically convert his vision to the screen. If the film is intending to show a world that is only a little cruel to those with special skills, only slightly harsh with handicaps, and a place where even the invincible Handicapper General makes mistakes, then it succeeds. However, this society is the opposite of what Vonnegut intended to show, and must be considered as a failure in this aspect.


Blog Response #2 – Passive Racism

What is the thesis of David Suzuki’s “Racism”? This letter could be a letter to you. What did you learn or ‘take away’ from his experiences? Do you appreciate his message? Why?

As the Dalai Lama once said, “The greatest challenge facing our century is that we are raising a generation of passive bystanders.” David Suzuki conveys a similar message in “Racism”: when we quietly embrace single stories without any second thoughts of the person involved and their background, we are no better than those who are openly bigots and racists. When Suzuki and his family lived in a Japanese internment camp during World War Two, he was effectively banished from the community because he couldn’t speak Japanese like other kids in the camp. He “felt like an outcast in the village and preferred to stay away from the kids” (25). Other children automatically assumed that Suzuki was a traitor simply because he couldn’t speak their language, and were inherently perpetuating a single story narrative about him and those similar to him. These bystanders were probably influenced by their parents’ anger towards the English-speaking government, and failed to act and show support for Suzuki. I found that the ‘take away’ found in this story was very similar to that of Budge Wilson’s “The Metaphor”, as both incite the reader to take action against bigotry and support those in need. Although the vast number of different stories and anecdotes that Suzuki told in his writing occasionally drifted away from his thesis and lacked a connection between them, they had enough meaning to sustain my interest. Being of Asian heritage, I found it enlightening to learn about past acts of racism towards Asian-Canadians, since we live in a much more accepting and integrated society today. As a result, I was more empowered by Suzuki’s call to action.


Blog Response #1 – “The Metaphor” and Inaction

What might you ‘take away’ from our discussions of Stuart Mclean’s “Emil” or “Safe Places,” Chamimanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story,” or Budge Wilson’s “The Metaphor” this week? How might you apply this ‘take away’ to your life or passions, learning you have done in other classes, or significant events or ideas taking place in the world as a whole? 

One important piece of advice I took away from Budge Wilson’s thoughtful and powerfully written story “The Metaphor” is to always stand up for someone or something I care about, regardless of the risk of being ostracized by peers. Charlotte, the protagonist, clearly loves Miss Hancock, her “overenthusiastic” English teacher (215) and her class. However, when Miss Hancock is shunned by her grade ten English class for her eccentric teaching style, Charlotte chooses to fit in with the crowd and decides not to reconnect with Miss Hancock. The disgruntled teacher commits suicide a few months later, and Charlotte blames her “own blatant betrayal” for Miss Hancock’s death (231). The plot was too dramatic for my liking, but also made the intended message of the story clearer and easier to understand. The author also clearly emphasizes the role that Charlotte had in this tragic turn of events. I am not sure that any choices I make right now are drastic enough to decide someone’s life, but there are various places in my life where I can apply Wilson’s meaning. In social situations where a person is being outed for being of a different race, gender, or sexuality, I can say something to help them. It can leave a huge positive impact on them to know that they’re not alone. These kinds of inclusive actions are outlined in the BC Social Responsibility Curriculum, such as “demonstrat[ing] respectful and inclusive behaviour” and “advocat[ing] for others”. Also, even though multiple of my passions (classical music and Shakespeare) are not conventional and may be seen as boring, I should be an advocate of those subjects because I care deeply about them. If I make efforts to defend these passions, then perhaps new doors will be opened for me create more rewarding and inclusive friendships, just like what might have happened to Charlotte if she chose to support Miss Hancock.