“I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all” (Holden Caulfield)

catcher in the rye.jpgTitle: The Catcher in the Rye

Author: J.D. Salinger

Publisher: Little, Brown and company

Genre: Social novel

Year: 1945

Pages: 214

“I mean, how do you know what you´re going to do till you do it? The answer is, you don’t. I think I am, but how do I know? I swear it´s a stupid question.” This is one of the hundreds of thoughts young Holden Caulfield has. Many people feel drown to him because he feels alienated, lonely and responsible for kids who are still innocent and not fake, unlike teenagers and adults. He makes a critique of society from a very identifiable point of view.

Holden Caulfield is a young adult from a rich family. He doesn´t seem to fit in any of the schools he goes to, and at Christmas he decides to go home after he is expelled again. While he wanders around New York many situations happen, which trigger deep critiques about how fake everyone seems to be, or how aloof he is from other people… except for children. He thinks of himself as the one who has to protect children from losing their innocence. He pictures it as a rye field next to a cliff, and he has to catch the kids who get too close to it, making himself become “the catcher in the rye”.

María M. A.

A Clockwork Orange

clockwork.jpgTitle: A Clockwork Orange

Author: Anthony Burgess

Publisher: Penguin Essentials

Year: 1962

Pages: 141

Introduction:

“What´s it going to be then, eh?” One of Alex’s most characteristic sentences. He’s the leader of a young gang who spend their time robbing, fighting or raping until he realizes what his deeds could lead him to.

Contents Analysis:

A Clockwork Orange is a book that deals with themes such as violence, robbery and harassment. The perspective from which the reader perceives the ethical values depends on Alex´s situation. For example, after he´s been brainwashed, you realize people’s unexplainable thirst for revenge towards him, even though he´s defenseless.

Formal Analysis

A Clockwork Orange is a novel whose characters have different psychological states. Alex’s friends believe that they always need to follow their instincts, while the people affected by them have a need for revenge On the other hand, it would be mentionable that the vocabulary used is complex as well as informal, due to the use of gang slang.  Despite that, the book achieves interesting dialogues as well as peculiar descriptions.

Conclusion

The fact that the author suffered many aggressions and his wife was raped would be worth mentioning to understand the story, as those situations are present throughout the plot. Despite that, the book offers an uncommon tale, which I would only recommend to adults and experienced readers, due to the themes treated as well as its slang vocabulary.

Jordi L.

 

A portrait of the soul

dorian gray.jpgTitle: The Picture of Dorian Gray

Author: Oscar Wilde

Publisher: Black Cat

Genre: Philosophical novel

Year: 1890

Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1854. He received a good education and became a well-known poet. He only wrote one novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. He was sent to jail because of his sexual orientation, and died in 1900 of an illness.

Dorian Gray is a young, wealthy man. His story begins when he meets a man, Lord Henry Wotton. He tells Dorian about his beauty-based ideals and corrupts the young man´s vision of life. He becomes greedy, and asks his friend to paint a portrait of him. He soon discovers that the portrait ages instead of him, and as his soul rots, so does the portrait, revealing a hideous human that should have been Gray´s appearance to the world. With this story, Oscar Wilde expresses his deepest thoughts about good and evil, and the corruption of one´s soul due to sin. He also mentions that immortality can´t cope with the mortal world.

Oscar Wilde´s Dorian Gray is a great reflection about the world and humanity. This alluring philosophy has captured me and I’m impressed, knowing that this book is more than a century old, as it resembles today´s greedy and influencial people, and the deep unnecessary caring for beauty and wealth.

Dorian Gray is a perfect book for those who love moral novels and questioning things. If you don´t, then this book is not for you, because only deep thinkers will appreciate the nihilism of this work.

María M. A.

Don Juan, el eterno galán

P1240166P1240169Resulta irónico ver lo poco que hemos cambiado desde el siglo XIX. Entonces, los hombres también alardeaban de todas las mujeres que habían conocido y de su habilidad para causar problemas. “Don Juan tenorio” es una obra teatral escrita por Zorrilla y que habla sobre las terribles consecuencias de la apuesta que Hace don Juan Tenorio.

Los personajes son un reflejo de los cánones barrocos como la gama virtuosa y de alto linaje (doña Inés) o el padre ejemplar (Gonzalo). No obstante, Zorrilla coge el personaje del galán y lo transforma espléndidamente. Don Juan Tenorio es este caballero, sin embargo, se esconde bajo su reputación de diablo tanto que no llega a aceptar un amor por doña Inés hasta el final de la obra.

La segunda parte demuestra una gran inventiva escenográfica: las esculturas que cobran vida pero que luego se desvanecen rápidamente son recursos innovadores que le dan al teatro carácter no solo literario sino también visual.

En conclusión, la obra gira entorno al personaje de Don Juan y lo increíble de las situaciones que vive. No obstante, el final de la obra parece ligeramente fallido ya que se arregla todo gracias a la intervención de doña Inés, un tipo de “deus ex machina” cuyo amor femenino es tan virtuoso que rescata con su gracia al protagonista de la novela.

Alberto A.

“FASCINACIÓN POR LAS PLANTAS”

El pasado 16 de mayo, el neuro-biólogo José Pío Beltrán realizó una conferencia llamada “Fascinación por las plantas”, nombre tomado para conmemorar el día internacional de las plantas, dirigida a los alumnos de 4º de ESO y de 1º de Bachillerato,.

Beltrán es el  Presidente del Comité de Bioética del CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas), y ha sido el vicepresidente de esta misma Agencia Estatal. El centro de investigación español es la 3ª mayor institución científica europea, engloba al 6% de los científicos del país y genera el 20% de los avances científicos en España.

A lo largo de la conferencia se explicó el papel fundamental que tienen las plantas en nuestra vida. Las plantas liberan el oxígeno que respiramos y crecen gracias a su capacidad para convertir la luz en la energía química contenida en los azucares que sintetizan al fijar el dióxido de carbono de la atmósfera. Las plantas contribuyen a la mitigación del efecto invernadero. Tanto las personas como los animales dependen de las plantas para alimentarse. De las plantas obtenemos entre otros bienes, tejidos, colorantes y moléculas activas con propiedades medicinales. La investigación del mundo de las plantas dio lugar al nacimiento de dos disciplinas científicas: la genética (parte de la biología que estudia los genes y los mecanismos que regulan la transmisión de los caracteres hereditarios) y la virología (parte de la microbiología que estudia los virus).

Durante la conferencia se presentaron los logros de científicos como los de Charles Darwin, Melvin Calvin, descubridor de la fotosíntesis, o Gregor Mendel, considerado el padre de la genética. Se presentaron también los principales sistemas experimentales para estudiar las plantas como tabaco, guisante, rosas, trigo, arroz o maíz.

                                                                                                                               María P. y Pepe G.

The Victorian Era VS Today

Victorian-London.jpg

Victorian London, 1887

I cannot imagine my mom just staying at home doing the dishes and washing our clothes, making sure that when my father comes home his dinner is ready. I can certainly not imagine that as my adult life. But that’s kind of what it was like in the Victorian Era, that’s why I think our society is better than the society then.

In the Victorian Era, there was a big difference between classes. There were 3 classes: the upper class, the middle class and the lower class. The upper class barely had to work, because in many cases their families and ancestors had earned enough money for them. Their children were able to get tutors, who belonged to a developing middle class. Other people from the middle class owned industries. The lower class, however, lived the worst life. Their families were big, so only the father working was often not enough. That’s why children had to go to work for long hours with low incomes. Now we cannot imagine sending 7-year-old kids to factories to work all day long. Every child in our society gets educated and if parents don’t earn enough money or don’t have a job, the government can help.

Another big difference between the 2 societies is the way women are treated. Although the Industrial Revolution changed the opportunities for women and they could have a job as well, there were still a lot of inequalities between men and women.

In the Victorian Era, the knowledge about medicine was developing and growing. The problem was that it was only for people who could afford it. Now, no matter how much money you have, everyone can get the medicine he or she needs.

Therefore, I think the society we live in is better than the Victorian Era’s. There is a smaller difference between classes. Actually, I think we can’t speak about classes anymore. Also, our society offers more opportunities: there are more jobs, everyone can go to school and study whatever they want and the equality between men and women is quite acceptable.

Marie Do.

Queen_Victoria_1887.jpg

Queen Victoria’s portrait (1887)

In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era formally begins in 1837 when Victoria became queen and it wasn´t until her death in 1901 that this period was actually finished. Over this period of time the UK was able to consolidate and progress in terms of economy, technology and territorial expansion. In this essay we are going to talk about how this could affect people, and then we will compare the Victorian society with today’s.

On one hand, regarding the Victorian society it is very important to mention that due to all of these rapid changes and development, the British population underwent a massive increase from sixteen million to over thirty two million people. Nevertheless, a portion of this individuals decided to depart to Canada, the USA and other countries in order to find a better life despite the progress in the UK.

Another point of high relevance is that society was actually able to advance in the pyramid, being able to join ranks which belonged to the high-class; of course, they had to obey Victorian stereotypes but it still was the best chance they ever had as ordinary citizens.

On the other hand, today´s society has better life conditions than people in the Victorian era as, first of all, we have almost two hundred years of advantage. However, there are some key features which need to be pointed out. Currently, we have a democratic government so we take part in most of the social and political decisions. Also, our jobs are more rewarding, education has improved and we are able to join more leisure and cultural activities.

In conclusion, modern society has clearly evolved compared to the Victorian one, and as a consequence we can affirm today´s society is much better. But it is also important to say that the Victorian period promoted decisive changes that provided society with some of the advantages that we have nowadays.

Miguel C.

 

Views on the Jack the Ripper museum

ripper museum.jpgThe opening of a museum dedicated to Jack the Ripper in Cable Street, London has recently been the subject for eyebrow-raising. Although many may consider this strange, it’s the original premise of the exhibition what really bothered people: it had been announced that a new museum dedicated to women’s history would open in East London. It’s not hard to see why it was criticized by Londoners and many others, including me, when we found out about its real theme.

My opinion on museums will never be altered: if it’s educational, and adds to the knowledge of visitors, then I’m all for it. The problem begins when something is sold as something it’s not, which is the case of the Jack the Ripper museum. Why is the first  museum in the East End supposedly dedicated to women’s history entirely about a man’s actions? This only proves the fact that sexism is still well-and-alive in today’s society, which leads us to my second argument.

Mark Palmer-Edgecumbe, the creator of the museum, argues that the exhibition explores the perspective of the victims, only to later discuss their responsibility on their own murders. Easy analogies can be made with what happens nowadays with rape claims from women: they aren’t taken seriously based on the woman-in-question’s behavior or clothes, for example. Palmer does the same with Jack the Ripper’s victims when he explores the possibility that prostitution was the deep cause of their death. Aside from the fact that it’s never anyone’s fault when they’re attacked, I’d like to point out how women those days were forced into prostitution in order to survive and how an action for survival should never lead to something much worse like death.

Leaving moral thoughts apart, I want to say I find the idea of a Jack the Ripper museum to be very interesting as, if done right, visitors would be able to enter the murderer’s mind and learn about all kinds of related aspects.

In conclusion, there’s a great appeal to the existence of a Jack the Ripper museum, but it should definitely not be sold as a museum dedicated to women’s history and, much less, try to find their fault in the situation. This is an idea what many don’t seem to understand yet.

Elena A.

ripper museum protest.jpg

Protest against the opening of the Jack the Ripper museum

Everybody knows about the Whitechapel murders and most importantly, about the murderer. It might sound like something sick for some people, but to others it’s just fascinating. This is why the museum should not be closed, although it has to be somewhere appropriate so people won´t complain.

For criminology lovers, this is the chance to see first-hand information, documents and objects which helped in the investigation. It´s the most truthful source they´ll ever be able to acquire knowledge from. As a person who is interested in criminology, I would visit it myself.

Also, for people interested in history, it´s a unique way to experience the Victorian era, from a whole new and different point of view: the mind of the assassin. We might not learn about the sociocultural differences between classes, but historical criminology is also history, and in my opinion, it´s one of the most interesting fields, seeing how detectives worked back in the times of Queen Victoria, and the differences between investigations nowadays. Today, for example, it would be unthinkable to send a bloodstained knife to the police, because it would be like giving your name and address.

And finally, I think the museum is a good option because it gives you perspective. It´s really easy to judge how crazy Jack the Ripper had to be to commit all those murders, but no one actually knows how mentally sick he was. He could have done it all out of madness, or even vengeance, or maybe he wasn´t sick at all and was a cold blood killer. No one will ever know his motives, but we know he killed innocent women and that´s enough to give him his blood chilling nickname, the Ripper.

So, in conclusion, Jack The Ripper museum should be built somewhere appropriate so people can visit without anyone being annoyed at it, and so everyone can gather knowledge, learn about history or try to guess Jack the Ripper´s darkest motives to do what he did.

María M. A.