Big Idea 7: Topics – Light vs. Darkness

In Rape of Lucrece,  I noticed a heavy play on the themes of light vs. darknHateful, vaporous, and foggy Nightess/ night.

Initially, when Tarquin is planning out his heinous act, he says (possibly out of guilt):

“Fair torch, burn out thy light, and lend it not/ To darken her whose light excelleth thine” (190-1)

Here, Tarquin describes Lucrece’s virtue as a light brighter than a torch (or in this case his lust). In the same stanza, he recognizes that his act is that of darkness/ evil. Tarquin calls his act the “blackest sin” (334).

This theme is also evident when, during the night, Tarquin first rests his eyes on Lucrece, he is (once again) astonished by “a greater light/… that she reflects so brightly” (375-6).

Moreover, when Tarquin initiates his crime, it is noted that Lucrece loses her ‘light’:

“… her locked up eyes,/…/ are  by his flaming torch dimmed and controlled.” (446-8)

Furthermore, after Tarquin ravishes her and runs off, Lucrece expresses her shame by cursing the Night and wishing that it will never be daylight again.

Shakespeare uses the theme of light and darkness to highlight the aspects of innocence and evil throughout the play, where the light is symbolized to be pure and untouched and the darkness is evil and full of evil opportunities.


On Annotating

In grade six a friend once asked me if I would jump off a cliff to save a book. Without a moment’s hesitation, I said yes. With the benefit of hindsight, yes, it is pretty silly (depending on the book and the fall perhaps?), but I think it highlights the over-protective instinct I have with my books. I keep them in absolute mint condition. I can’t so much as dog-ear the page of a beaten up library book. Paired with the OCD I have, annotating in my books just isn’t for me.

Hopefully this is not a bad thing, and I do take copious notes to make up for it, notes about everything. Attached are photos of my notes on The Rape of Lucrece. As ghastly as the poem’s subject is, I am really enjoying reading it, and as you can see, my notes are about a lot of different things. I ask a lot of questions that I cannot always answer, why characters do things, why they think they can get away with things or justify them in their minds, what the author would think of the events. As a lover of beautiful descriptions often I will just write images that I find beautiful or words that are strung together beautifully. I look for foreshadowing and motifs, different patterns. I make notes on the choice of words, the connotations that I bring to a text that might change the meaning of what I am reading.

In this first reading of The Rape of Lucrece, I kept noticing the pattern of Lucrece being compared to both a field (particularly a field with lots of flowers) and also a fortressed city, both of which suggested to me that her body is literally a battleground. It made me think a lot about the tragic fact that rape is often used as a weapon.

As sad as the poem is, Shakespeare writes masterfully, and has given me a lot to think about and work with.

Pages and pages
Pages and pages.
Thoughts on imagery.
Thoughts on imagery.

What are Exam Dossiers?

Here are some suggestions and guidelines for your Exam Dossiers, the first of which you can (if you choose) submit tomorrow in tutorial. Remember, this is an optional system, not a requirement of the course; you’re only helping yourself if you do it.

This is a document you prepare in advance, and bring  (printed on one side of a standard letter-sized page) to Thursday tutorials.

Continue reading What are Exam Dossiers?


This is my enthralling first post on the English 205 blog, just to introduce the course (very briefly) and to ensure this page isn’t blank when you arrive here. Before long, this blog will be positively brimming with student posts, embedded with SoundCloud audio and YouTube videos, screenshots and links. Be sure to read the Getting Started page to, well, get started.

I’ll leave you with this link to the series of posts I’ve written on my main professional blog, about some of the principles I followed when designing the course.

Dr Ullyot