All posts by Anthony Murphy

A Contemporary Critique Of The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

An indecipherable clutter of chatter, combined with the sound of string and horned musical instruments being tuned up, give an ominous atmospheric intro to what we’re about to hear.  It only last ten seconds but seems to last longer. Out of nowhere the music begins and before we realise what’s going on, we are being informed that ‘It was twenty years ago today, that Sgt Pepper taught the band to play’. Coming into the chorus, we hear what in my opinion are the best harmonies the Beatles ever did (and I include “This boy’, “Yes it is” and “Because” in that comparison).  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) was conceived to give the Beatles an alter ego and escape the constraints of the mass popularity that kept them in a tight box during their earlier years. This new phase of The Beatles career would see them grow their hair to the length they wished, not wear the matching clothes that they had been doing until then and create a more individual profile for the members of the band instead of the tight knit collective that had been the case prior. This was the coming time of a sometimes glorious, free spirited indiscipline which lasted until the folly of Apple Corp reared its head a couple of years later.

With the introduction of ‘The one and only Billy Shears’. Continue reading A Contemporary Critique Of The Beatles Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

When Hell Freezes Over – Never Say Never…

Every so often, speculation about the potential reformation of now recognised seminal Manchester group, The Smiths, rears its head. Whilst there is absolutely no doubt that bass player Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce would be amenable to a reunion, the likelihood of this happening, in my opinion, is unlikely but as we are to discover over the course of this article, one should never say never.

In October 2011, The Smiths’ Mancunian compatriots, The Stone Roses announced Continue reading When Hell Freezes Over – Never Say Never…

The Differences Between Stories That Are In The Public Interest And Those That Are Of Interest To The Public

This essay will compare, contrast and discuss the differences between public interest journalism and journalism that is of interest to the public. The essay will attempt to decipher where the lines of the two aforementioned concepts become opaque whilst at the same time, acknowledging the mutual interest of the necessity to public knowledge and gratuitous salacity.

Journalism that is in the public interest is the fundamental backbone to a functioning democracy. In theory, Continue reading The Differences Between Stories That Are In The Public Interest And Those That Are Of Interest To The Public

An Exploration Of The Themes Of Sexuality, Power And Desire in Frankenstein And Dracula

Frankenstein, alias The Modern Prometheus (1818) by Mary Shelley and Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker are the beacons of Gothic Literature. Much of this genre relies heavily on the themes of power and sexuality and the seminal texts of Dracula and Frankenstein are no exceptions to this rule. These heady themes are often a method of exploring the behaviour and indulgences of the time of the texts’ writing, but can have equally as powerful connotations in the present day. A key element that can be linked to power and sexuality is that of social taboos and their psychological impact Continue reading An Exploration Of The Themes Of Sexuality, Power And Desire in Frankenstein And Dracula

Analysis of Patriachal Convention In Tennessee Williams ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

This three part essay will elaborate on the ambience in the tight and enclosed environment that Tennesee Williams A Streetcar Named Desire is set in. The cultural differences between the characters and how they change from protagonists to antagonists will also be explored. Furthermore, there will also be an explanation as to how the background music sets the scene and mood for the unfolding collapse into both the emotional and physical wellbeing of the main characters in the play.

Characters, Action and Dialogue. How the language spoken by Blanche and Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire reveal the kind of people they are

Blanche and Stanley are, on the surface, completely different people with contrasting aspirations, ambitions and expectations of what is to be achieved and acquired in life. Blanche’s self-esteem and image is based upon a debonair aura, Continue reading Analysis of Patriachal Convention In Tennessee Williams ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’

The Cause Of The Tragedy In Romeo & Juliet

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is the quintessential romantic tragedy. The Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet (1562), a narrative poem by Arthur Brooke had a heavy influence on Shakespeare when writing Romeo and Juliet. There were significant differences, particularly in the outcome for both Juliet’s Nurse and Friar Lawrence but when Brooke says about Romeus and Juliet being ‘a couple of unfortunate lovers, thralling themselves to unhonest desire; neglecting the authority and advice of parents and friends’ Brooke gives Shakespeare a template for the plot and narrative (Brooke & Shaaber, 1967: 404). The spine for the story of Romeo and Juliet (1597) and its subsequent unfolding tragedy is the patriarchal society. In this particular instance, the antagonists are Juliet’s father, Capulet and Romeo’s father Montague, who are at war. Romeo and Juliet fall deeply in love and Capulet wants Juliet to marry Paris, a boy he feels is of suitable calibre for his daughter’s hand. Defining the cause of the play’s tragedy is complex. During the play, the finger is pointed at individuals such as Friar Lawrence, Tybalt and even the self-realisation of Capulet at the end of the narrative. When considering the cause in a less emotive and accusatory fashion, the themes often explored are fate and even love itself. However, an area which seems particularly pertinent for exploration in relation to the play’s tragedy is the contextual issue of patriarchal structures and ideologies and the consequences of their imposing influences on the events in the narrative.

In act 1, scene 2, Capulet says ‘But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart, my will to her consent is but a part, And she agreed, within her scope of choice, Lies my consent and fair according voice’ (1.2.17-20: 17). In this instance, Capulet infers that Juliet has some choice or say as to whom her husband will be. The truth of the reality of Juliet’s choice and the paradox in Capulet’s character is spelt out in more forthright terms in act 3, scene 4 where Capulet tells his daughter ‘But fettle your fine joints ‘gainst Thursday next, To go with Paris to St Peter’s Church, Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither’ (3.5.153-155: 86). The subtext being, ‘get to the church, marry Paris or I will disown you’. Another telling feature of Capulet’s scant respect for his daughters status is when he addresses her as ‘Mistress minion you’ (3.5.151: 86), immediately prior to his decree for Juliet to go to the church.

Juliet, a strong willed and free spirited young lady only has eyes for Romeo. Capulet is completely oblivious to Juliet’s feelings to Romeo. When Friar Lawrence presides over the marriage of Romeo and Juliet (2.6.35-37: 59), Capulet still has designs on Juliet marrying Paris. To a father like Capulet, the esteem in which Juliet holds her potential suitor is not of a high priority to him. Whilst in most cases, the daughter is cherished and loved by the father, she is still viewed as a beautiful asset and not as an intelligent human being with the capability of independent thought. In the Patriarchal society, the daughter’s role is little more than bargaining leverage or a goodwill gesture in a potential business deal. Juliet was thirteen when she married Romeo whom himself, was only sixteen. Whilst Juliet was at an extremely tender age, she had the strongly held belief that Romeo was the man for her. In act 1, scene 3 in a discussion between Juliet, her mother Lady Capulet and her nurse, the possibility of marriage to Paris is repeatedly broached. Juliet says ‘I’ll look to like, if looking liking move, but no more deep will I endart mine eye, Than your consent gives strength to make it fly’ (1,3,98-100: 23). In other words Juliet is effectively saying “I will have a look but I am not promising anything”. This attitude from a daughter to a parent is almost unheard of in the patriarchal society.

The crux of the tragedy in Romeo and Juliet is centred on the patriarchal control exemplified by Capulet and to a lesser extent, Tybald. This is a phenomenon which is generally thought not to exist anymore but it is still common practice within certain faiths, particularly in some denominations of Islam. Whilst the male is at liberty to court whom he is happy to court and be reciprocated, ‘in the sight of Allah, it is only lawful for a Muslim woman to marry a Muslim man’ (Beg, 2009: 49). The idea of the Patriarchal society is of the father’s word being law. Relationships that are now frowned upon in contemporary Christian Caucasian society such as familial marriages with first cousin’s, were common place, indeed encouraged, in the Patriarchal society.

The first real sign of forthcoming tragedy occurs when the ‘bristling, easily provoked and dangerous’ cousin of Juliet, Tybalt, encounters Romeo in act 1, scene 5 (McLeish 1985: 248). Tybalt is immediately hostile to Romeo after he overhears Romeo’s voice at a masquerade ball. Tybalt is affronted by the presence of a Montague at a Capulet party. Tybalt views Romeo as a social inferior as well as being a Montague and he says ‘Now by the honour of my kin, To strike him dead I hold it not a sin’ (1.5.58-59: 30). This encounter is the forerunner for what happens in act 3, scene 1 when Romeo’s best friend, the universally popular Mercutio is killed by Tybalt. Romeo, distraught by the death of Mercutio, duels with Tybalt and subsequently kills him. Benvolio implores ‘Romeo, away, be gone!’ (3.1.133: 64). With Romeo banished from fair Verona after the slaying of Tybalt (3.1.132: 64), Juliet discovers from the Nurse that it was Romeo who had killed her cousin (3.2.71: 69). The love between Romeo and Juliet is so powerful that they pine for each other and question the point of being alive if they are to be apart.

Shakespeare’s use of contradictory speech and characterisation for Capulet is echoed in other characters and themes throughout the play. Romeo may be seen as the ultimate lover but ironically, he’s also the greatest fighter. Including himself, Romeo kills three people during the play. These binary opposites underpin Shakespeare’s exploration of the social and human condition. Capulet loves Juliet but he loves her in a controlling and stifling way, his love for her is conditional. This isn’t necessarily through manipulative malice, more than being through the custom and practice of convention and of what is expected of the patriarch in the society he lives in. The love is based on her acquiescence to his unquestioned rule. Capulet sees his role as to provide for and protect his family, in return, unquestioning complicity to his word is his right. The love is based on as much the patriarch’s pride, ego and the subservience of his wife and daughter’s as it is about their natural instinct to protect. His masculinity and authority must never be questioned. As Sasha Roberts said in study of Romeo and Juliet in 1998 ‘Masculinity is multifaceted in Romeo and Juliet. First, the play investigates the performance of manhood in different social contexts – the feud, the household, marital relations, filial relations, the church, male friendship’. (Roberts, 1998: 58)

With the statement ‘If all else fail, myself have power to die’ (3.5.243: 89) Juliet realises that with Romeo banished and her forthcoming nuptials to Paris, the only power she has over any of her destiny is the power to end her own life. Furthermore, Juliet is incentivised to end her own life by the fear of her father finding out that she is already married to Romeo, an outcome that is inevitable when she arrives for her wedding ceremony to Paris. Through drinking a potion that makes her appear to be dead, Juliet manages to have the wedding postponed to Paris (4.3.59: 98).

At the end of act 4, scene 5, Shakespeare uses the lower status characters of Peter and the musicians as they seemingly discuss music with their repeated use of the word silver (4.5.104/105: 127-140). As well as the word silver, there was an abundance of words with letter S in them, creating sibilance and a subconscious whispering effect. Shakespeare is once again using dramatic irony to let the audience know of the secrets we keep with the titular characters. This is a timely reminder of Capulet’s love of money, status and power. It is confirmation that Juliet is essentially a commodity despite his apparent grief earlier in the scene when he said ‘Our bridal flowers serve for a buried corpse; And all things change then to the contrary’ (4.5.89/90: 103). Capulet is not necessarily an evil man but, to quote St Paul’s frequently misquoted letter to Timothy in the New Testament, ‘the love of money is a root to all kinds of evil’ (St Paul, 1989: 208). Capulet’s fierce pride and intransigence to his daughter wishes have tragic consequences which conclude with the death of Paris at the hands of Romeo (5.3.73: 112), Romeo (5.3.120: 114) and Juliet at the hands of themselves (5.3.170: 116) and Romeo’s mother who dies of a broken heart on the discovery of his exile (5.3.210:118)

Continue reading The Cause Of The Tragedy In Romeo & Juliet

The Resurrection – Stone Roses, Heaton Park Manchester, June 29/30th 2012

On Friday night as Primal Scream were rousing through Country Girl, I saw approximately thirty coppers running frantically through the disabled section to the rear of the bar which was next to where the wheelchair platform was. Over the previous five minutes, I’d seen a few people gently walking back to their places in the field with crates of orange breezers and packs of small plastic bottles of white wine. Word went round that the bar had been stormed by disgruntled punters who’d been getting crushed in the queue. Having been in that same queue about half an hour earlier, I wasn’t that surprised that it had happened, you wouldn’t have been able to get a cigarette paper in between the seething crush of humanity. People were being swayed from side to front with no control over their movement. Getting away from the bar without spilling any drink was akin to walking a tightrope with a ball and chain.

Primal Scream perform Movin’ On Up at Heaton Park on Friday night

Primal Scream were excellent and I was pleasantly surprised. Continue reading The Resurrection – Stone Roses, Heaton Park Manchester, June 29/30th 2012