Setting.

Hello everyone and welcome back to Theory Thursday. Last week I talked about some more poetic devices so go and check that out if you haven’t already. 

Today’s #theorythursday is all about setting. Where a text is set, (by text I am referring to any kind of piece – a book, a tv show, or a film), plays a very fundamental role in the text and when one is discussing a text or conducting a literary analysis of a text, setting is something that cannot be overlooked. 

So let’s dive into Theory Thursday. 

What is a setting? 

The setting is the time and place that the text takes place in. When one is thinking about the setting of a text, there are a few factors that should be kept in mind such as the climate, landscape, society, and culture. All of these factors serve as a backdrop to the text but they are not just a backdrop, these factors can be extremely important because of how they can influence a text. 

There are also elements to a setting. The four elements are time, mood, place, and cultural and societal contexts. These elements are important because they enrich the text, they make the world seem more tangible and real and it makes the story more accessible to the reader. 

I can think of so many examples of how the setting plays an important role in the story. The text that I am going to mention is Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. At some point in the future, this novel will be my chosen Book Of The Month and when that time comes I will be discussing it in far more detail, but for now I am going to simply say that this is a really good example of a text in which the setting plays a very important role in the story. 

In Oliver Twist, the setting of London is really important. I love Dickens, so much so that I wrote a thesis about his works, and one of the things I love so much about Dickens is his use of descriptive imagery. Dickens writes in a stark, and vividly detailed manner and in Oliver Twist, London is a world of its own. The slums of London is where most of the action happens. The slums are filthy and poverty stricken. The slums are dark, scary places where crime is commonplace. The slums are cold, gloomy, and there is very little hope in the slums. Oliver experiences many different “homes” in this text, he experiences the harsh life of a workhouse orphan, he experiences the cold and dangerous, crime filled slums and then he experiences life at Mr. Brownlow’s house. Mr. Brownlow’s house is clean and comfortable. It is a warm place filled with kind people who take care of him. There is money in that house. The difference is stark. The people who live in that house live a completely different life to those who live in the slums and Oliver’s fate depends on where he ends up. The difference is crucial. 

I mentioned how a setting has elements and factors – time, place, mood, societal/cultural contexts, landscapes, and climate. 

Well in Oliver Twist, we can see two very different worlds and those worlds have different factors and elements. 

The Brownlow house is warm, clean, comfortable, and safe. The people who live in that house are members of civilised society. They are refined, and mannerly. Their culture is a middle-class, law abiding one. 

The slums are freezing, and filthy. Poverty and crime are rampant. The people who live in the slums don’t have a chance because from the moment they are born, they are looked down upon due to being from the slums. They are surrounded by poverty, they are not considered members of civilised society, they are cast aside. Some are not law abiding, there is a culture of survival, of violence, of theft. 

In one text, Dickens has created two vastly different worlds, and those worlds, and the people in them, and what that will mean for Oliver, are all influenced and impacted by the setting. 

Why is setting important?

As I hope I have explained in the above example, the setting impacts and enriches the story. The setting helps ground the reader, and where a story is set can really help the reader to envision the world they are reading about. I would argue that a sentence such as this, “the filthy, freezing, dark alley in the slums.”, conjures up a certain image. I would argue that reading something like that would make you think of a place that isn’t very nice, and isn’t very safe, and if I was reading a story and came across that sentence, I would think that this is a place where something bad may happen to the character. So, as I’ve said already, the setting really can help the reader imagine the story more vividly and I would say that being able to do so enhances the reading experience. 

Setting is also very important when it comes to conducting a literary analysis because the setting of a story is considered to be a fundamental factor of fiction. I don’t think it would be possible to conduct a literary analysis without talking about where the story is set because the setting influences so many things. For example, you can’t read a text such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird without mentioning that it is set in the South in the 1930s because the entire book is about the prejudices and injustice of the Southern legal system. Oliver Twist is about the plight of an orphan, and Dickens sheds a light on the harsh realities that poverty stricken people faced and he couldn’t effectively make that point if he did not set the story in the slums because we need the filthy, gritty, harsh reality of the slums in order to see the harsh circumstances that poor Oliver must face. His plight wouldn’t have the same impact if he was always in the lovely Brownlow house, if he was always in that warm, safe house, he wouldn’t have a plight. So that is why setting is important, because it enriches and influences the text. 

This has been a breakdown all about setting. This has been Theory Thursday. If you have any questions then please do drop them in the comments below. I love hearing your thoughts and opinions. 

Kate xo. 

Dirty Dancing.

Hello everyone and welcome back to Movie Monday. Here’s to a new week.

Today I am talking about Dirty Dancing. Did any of you guess the movie? On my Instagram (@katelovesliterature), I said that I chose the picture of the lake for a reason. Well in Dirty Dancing, Baby and Johnny practice their iconic lift in the water because the best place to practice lifts is in the water. It was a vague enough hint but I didn’t want to make it too obvious.

I also asked people on my Instagram stories to let me know what movies they consider to be classic movies because I love hearing other people’s opinions and funnily enough, someone’s answer was Dirty Dancing and I think it would be fair to say that lots of people consider this to be a classic movie.

Let’s dive into #moviemonday.

Dirty Dancing was released in Ireland in 1987 and the movie was directed by Emile Ardolino.

Plot.

This movie follows Baby (Frances) Houseman as she goes on summer vacation with her parents and her sister. It is the summer of 1963 and Baby and her family are off to Kellerman’s, an upscale resort in the Catskills.

At Kellerman’s Baby meets Johnny Castle the dancer. At first it appears that the two have absolutely nothing in common but when Baby is the only person who can step in and be Johnny’s dance partner at a gig he cannot miss, the two begin spending more and more time together. As rehearsals go on, the two talk and bond and they learn that they may just like each other after all. In fact, it is more than just liking each other and this summer is life-changing for Baby in more ways than one.

Characters.

Baby Houseman is our main protagonist. Baby is young and naive and when the movie begins we learn that she is getting ready to head off to college in the fall so this summer vacation is likely one of the last she will have with her sister and her parents. Baby idolises her father and Doctor Houseman dotes on her in return. He is her hero, she looks up to him, she wants to be like him. Baby is very smart and very kind. She wants to change the world but before this summer at Kellerman’s, it is clear that she lived a sheltered life and it is here where she learns about the problems that people face and the unfairness in the world and most importantly, she learns about who she is as a person and who she wants to be. Her worldview is altered at Kellerman’s but this is something that I will discuss more in the themes section of my discussion.

Johnny Castle is our male lead. He is a dancer. He is part of the working-class staff at Kellerman’s. Johnny is kind and hardworking but he also far more cynical than Baby. He knows how the world works. He has faced unfairness before and he will again as the movie goes on. He is a talented dancer and a fantastic teacher even though in the beginning he was a bit gruff. As the movie goes on, Johnny becomes more and more impressed by Baby and she also changes his worldview – again I will discuss this more when I discuss themes.

Penny is a very important character and while Baby and Johnny are our lead couple, and it is mostly Baby who has a maturity arc, her arc would not be able to happen without Penny as it is Penny who sets the plot in motion. Early on in the movie, it is revealed that Penny is pregnant and she is unable to afford to have the baby. She and Johnny are extremely worried because the only time she can get to a doctor is on the same night as their gig in another hotel, a gig they cannot miss because if they do then they will lose their salary and they will not get booked again for the following summer. There is no one else who can fill in for Penny which is why Baby is the one to do it. Penny is hardworking and like Johnny, she is looked down upon because she is part of the working-class staff. Penny is cynical and like Johnny, she is all too aware of the unfairness in the world. Penny has had an upbringing that was the opposite to Baby’s. Penny has been fending for herself since the age of sixteen and so she cannot lose her job. She is a very talented dancer, she used to be a rockette, and she also helps to get Baby ready for the important performance.

Jake Houseman is Baby’s father and he is also key to the story. Jake is a doctor and he is Baby’s hero. He is a kind father, he seems to be a calm and loving man, and it is clear that he dotes on Baby. He is proud of her and he trusts her. This is made clear when he gives her the money she asks for ($250) even though she cannot tell him what it is for. The father/daughter relationship between Jake and Baby is a key part of this story and again, I will elaborate more on this in themes.

We have a selection of ensemble characters, Baby’s mother, her sister Lisa, Robbie the waiter, Max the owner of Kellerman’s and Neil his grandson. While all of the characters contribute to the story, I would suggest that the most important characters are Baby, Johnny, Doctor Houseman, and Penny because these four are the four corners of the plot and it is these four characters that allow the movie’s themes to play out. So let’s discuss themes because Dirty Dancing touches on some very important ones.

Themes.

I love it when someone who has never seen Dirty Dancing says what they think the movie is about. Many people say it is a chick-flick or a rom-com and I suppose in some ways it is however, I would argue Dirty Dancing is actually a coming of age story because one of the movie’s key themes is the idea of becoming your own person with your own ideas and beliefs.

This movie touches on many important things, abortion, classism, sexism, hypocrisy, and individuality.

At Kellerman’s there is a class divide. There are the guests and the staff, of course this will happen at any resort but among the staff, there is another divide – the waiters and the dancers.

The waiters at Kellerman’s are students from Ivy League universities. Robbie is one of them. Max, the owner, tells these waiters that they are the best, they are good, intelligent, respectable young men and they are given orders to romance the daughters who come to stay.

The dancers on the other hand are told not to even look at the guests unless it is to provide dancing lessons. Johnny is not an Ivy League student who is choosing to do some summer work to earn a few extra dollars, he is depending on this income as it is the only one he has.

Robbie is considered to be a ‘better’ man than Johnny simply because of his college status however it is Robbie who is an arrogant, rude man. He tells Baby that ‘some people count and some people don’t’ and he is of the opinion that people like Johnny and Penny don’t count.

Robbie is the father of Penny’s baby but he claims that it could be anyone and you ‘never know with a girl like that.’ Robbie used Penny and he did not care what happened to her, he also knew that he would be able to walk away because people would most likely believe him over her.

Baby’s father even likes Robbie, he thinks he is an upstanding young man and before he learns the truth about him, he even gives him money towards college. Robbie appears to be the type of young man that Doctor Houseman would like his daughters to date, he is handsome and well-groomed. He knows how to charm parents and of course, he goes to an Ivy League college. He is like Doctor Houseman, or so we are lead to believe.

Johnny is always facing preconceived opinions and if we are being honest, his attitude likely does not help but the issue is that people already assume the worst of him and so therefore, he is always on the defensive but this only fuels people’s negative opinions of him. It is a classic case of people judging a book by its cover or in this case, by its status and background.

Baby spends a lot of time with Johnny, and as she gets to know him as a person, she learns that he is not like how others perceive him to be. He is used by the rich, older woman at Kellerman’s. They pay him to sleep with them and they treat him as nothing more than a shiny toy but Johnny needs the money so he puts up with it. He is not a perfect character, I don’t think anyone in this movie is but there are many instances where it is clear that Johnny knows about the real world and he knows what he can and cannot do – a great example is when Neil, who knows nothing about dancing, wants to dictate the last dance of the season. Baby is disappointed when Johnny allows Neil to be rude to him instead of telling Neil his ideas but Johnny knows that in order to keep the job that he needs, he has to do things Neil’s way.

Another important instance is when Baby’s father assumes that Johnny is responsible for Penny. He assumes that Johnny is the father of Penny’s baby and he is disgusted that Johnny would leave her to a false doctor. Johnny is not surprised by Doctor Houseman’s assumptions and he is so used to people thinking the worst of him that he does not bother to correct him – In that moment, Penny is more important and that brings us to a key point in the movie – Penny’s abortion.

Something that I love about Dirty Dancing is the way the movie handles Penny’s abortion. It is not debated. There is no big scene in which Penny has to defend or justify her choice. At no point does Baby, Johnny, or Doctor Houseman look down on or treat Penny badly because of her decision. It is Penny’s choice and Penny’s choice alone. The doctor she goes to see turns out to not be a real doctor and Penny is left gravely injured which causes Baby to rush and get her father to assist her. This movie came out in 1987 and yet I cannot think of a more relevant time to discuss this scene because of certain things that are happening in certain parts of the world. I’ll say this – banning abortion does not stop abortion. Banning abortion only stops safe abortions. If someone is desperate, they will find a way and back-alley abortions will rise and they can have extremely dangerous results – as shown in this scene.

Baby’s exposure to classism and unfairness causes her to reevaluate her upbringing and her opinion of her father and this theme of maturity and individuality is key to the movie.

The father/daughter relationship is very complex and Baby goes through a very difficult journey in this movie because the view she has of her father changes. He was once her hero and she viewed him through rose-tinted glasses and as this movie plays out, Baby sees that her father is not perfect and in fact, she does not like everything he does. She does not agree with everything he does and as she changes and develops her own opinions and begins to break away from the mould, he becomes colder with her. He does not like the changes, he struggles with them, he wants her to stay away from Johnny, he feels that the girl he trusted, the girl who was just like him is changing.

Baby is changing but it is not a bad thing. One of the key scenes in this movie is when Baby confronts her father. He tells her that she is not the person he thought she was and she responds by saying that he isn’t either. She tells him that he taught her to be good and kind to everyone and he always said that everyone deserves a fair shake but Baby tells him that she has learned he did not mean everyone, he meant people who are just like him.

This conversation cause Doctor Houseman to cry. He is forced to look into the mirror. He must accept that in some ways, he has been a hypocrite, and he must also accept that his daughter, his baby, is no longer a little girl. She is a young woman and she will speak her mind and she will have her own opinions and sometimes they will be different from his and that has to be okay.

It is a new chapter when a father must accept that his little girl has become a woman. The dynamic changes. It is also very hard when a daughter learns that her hero is not perfect. It is a difficult time but I believe that it is a time that everyone goes through and Baby goes through it in this movie, she has that experience where the rose-tinted view gets muddied and she matures because of it. This is why I would say this is a coming of age movie because Baby’s mindset changes from daddy’s girl to independent young woman who can accept her father is not perfect but loves him anyway.

Structure.

Dirty Dancing is a fast-paced movie. The Houseman family arrive at Kellerman’s and immediately Max the owner begins to breakdown the rules to the staff – this sets up our internal class divide and Baby seeing Johnny dance and clearly being attracted to him lets the audience know that Baby and Johnny are going to be love interests.

There is a lot of exposition done in the first half an hour. We are aware of the issues among staff, we see that Baby looks up to her father, we learn that Penny is pregnant and needs someone to fill in. This issue is what sets our plot into motion and we move from set-up to action.

Baby learning to dance is when the action begins. There are a few montages in this movie which function as a way to move time along, we see her improving, and we see that her and Johnny are getting along better. There are a few moments when the pace slows down and this allows Baby and Johnny to bond – for example the scene in the water where they practice the lift, and it is quite realistic I think because Baby does not magically become this amazing dancer, the goal is simply to get her decent enough to pull off one dance reasonably well and this is achieved.

I also really like that the performance at the hotel is just that – it is decent. It is not amazing, and there are some bumps but they get through it and they save Penny and Johnny’s employment. I feel this was a smart move because the goal – getting through that gig- has been achieved but also there is something left for the finale, the iconic lift.

I would say that this movie is top heavy because a lot happens in the introduction and then the action is filled with dancing, learning, and bonding but then we get a quick and busy climax. There are a lot of moving pieces in this movie and we know at some point that everything will come to a boil eventually and of course it does.

Everything spills over, a rich lady sees Johnny and Baby together, Johnny gets accused of stealing and of course everyone just assumes he is guilty but Baby knows he is innocent. She has to decide whether or not to speak up because doing so reveals their relationship and then her putting herself out there and arguing with her father seems pointless because Johnny is proved to be innocent but he still has to leave because of his relationship with Baby and for the first time, she learns how unfair life can be even though she did the right thing. It is a hard lesson and she learns it quite close to the end of the movie but Johnny has learned too. He becomes less cynical because no one has ever put themselves out like that for him before. So while Baby’s world-view changes, so does Johnny’s and the final scene is the final dance and it is filled with revelations because everyone’s growth can be clearly seen in this final scene which makes for a very, very satisfying finale. ‘No one puts Baby in a corner!’. No spoilers though – go watch the movie.

Final Thoughts.

Dirty Dancing is a great movie. The story is compelling, moving, funny, and heartfelt. I feel that this movie, while it touches on some very important themes and issues, is also relatable because I think everyone can relate to the idea of coming of age and realising that things are not always as they seem. The characters are engaging, the cast is fantastic, and of course, this movie is set to a classic score. Who could forget the song ‘Time Of My Life?’ – I’m still humming it.

So this has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen Dirty Dancing? What do you think? Would you consider it a classic movie? Let me know.

Kate xo.

Comfort Shows – The Golden Girls.

Hello everyone and welcome to Friday’s Choice.

I’ll be honest and say that I have not had the best week. If you follow my Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you will have seen that I shared a quote that I love. ”Every kick is a boost.” – This is one of my favourite quotes by Rue McClanahan, who of course played the brilliant Blanche in The Golden Girls.

My Irish mammy always says ”what’s for you won’t pass you”, so even though it has not been the best week and I don’t feel this way now, I know that I will look back on this week and be glad that things worked out as they did.

All of this brings me to this week’s #fridayschoice. I have been thinking about comfort shows, shows that we watch when we are feeling down. I’ve been speaking to family and friends about this because I wanted to get some opinions and almost everyone I spoke to had a show or a movie or a book that they go back to when they are feeling down.

My comfort show, I’ve discovered, is The Golden Girls. Every night this week I have been watching The Golden Girls on Disney plus and it really does help me to relax and clear my head before I go to sleep.

I love this show for many reasons. It is nostalgic for me. I used to watch it a lot with my grandmother when I was younger. It is funny. The quick wit is fantastic and I believe that the character Sophia is the definition of sarcasm. The four leading ladies are a dream team. They each play their part perfectly and the chemistry the group had is something that is rare to come by.

I plan on talking about this show in more detail at a later date because I think it is an incredible show. The writing is fantastic, the storylines that the show covered were at times very powerful and poignant – I have a specific episode in mind that I plan on discussing in more detail. Most importantly, The Golden Girls is brilliant because of what it does for female representation onscreen.

There are still conversations about having older women onscreen in 2021, and many actresses have spoken about the struggles they face in casting after forty.

The Golden Girls is a show about older women and they are not the butt of the joke. They are lively, nuanced, fun, well-rounded characters who live full lives that are full of ups and downs, laughs and tears. They are interesting, dynamic, vivacious and yes, sexy. They make growing older look fabulous and it is. Yes growing older can come with new challenges, but life does not stop once you pass thirty and this show reflects that.

I adore Betty White, Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, and Estelle Getty. They are wonderful, funny, talented actresses who can sing, and dance, and play instruments, and they fill the show with heart. It is actresses like these four that made me adore acting because what they do onscreen is marvellous.

I even love the theme song – ‘Thank you for being a friend’, and every time the opening credits play, starting with that shot of a plane flying through the orange sky at sunset, I feel better. I feel calm and cozy and my ideal way of watching this show is when I am snuggled up with a blanket with some tea or coffee, and sometimes even a little treat and while a tv show cannot fix a problem, it does take my mind off of it and it makes me feel a little bit better.

The reason that I wanted to talk about comfort shows is because I think the idea of a comfort show demonstrates how important the arts can be. A book, movie, or show can be so much more than ‘just’ a book or ‘just’ a movie because of what they can do for people. They can move people and make people laugh or people can relate and feel less alone or a show can even make you feel better on a bad day. Literature and the arts can do so much for so many people and this is why I am so passionate about the arts and about literature, and why I created Katelovesliterature.com.

If I was to talk about all the things that literature and the arts have done for me, I would be typing forever so for now I’m starting with comfort shows.

The Golden Girls is funny, witty, heartfelt, and so ahead of its time. I will talk about this show again in the future but for now I will simply say if you are ever having a bad day, I would highly recommend watching The Golden Girls because if you are like me then it might just bring a smile to your face too.

This has been Friday’s Choice. I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Have you got any comfort shows, books, or movies? Is there a piece that brightens your day? Let me know, I’d love to know.

Kate xo.

Poetic Devices – Chapter 2.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Theory Thursday.

Last week I talked about how to tackle nerves over public speaking and you should go and check that out if you haven’t already.

Today’s #theorythursday is about more poetic devices. If you look through my categories and select Theory Thursday, you will find a post titled ‘Poetic Devices’, and in that post I broke down imagery, metaphors, personification, hyperboles, and onomatopoeia.

Today I am going to be breaking down four more poetic devices – Simile, Paradox, Assonance, and Alliteration.

So let’s dive into Theory Thursday.

Simile.

What is a simile?

A simile is when an author compares two objects very definitely, using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’.

An example of a simile can be found in the sentence ‘She is as good as gold.’

A poem that contains an example of a simile is A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns.

O my Luve is like a red, red rose.

O my Luve is like the melody.

Quotes from A Red, Red Rose, by Robert Burns.

Paradox.

What is a paradox?

A paradox is a statement that obviously does not make sense or has no logic because it is a contradiction.

A famous example of a paradox was said by George Bernard Shaw when he said that ‘youth is wasted on the young’.

An example of a paradox can be found in Seán O’Casey’s play The Shadow of a Gunman.

The child is father of the man.

A line from The Shadow of a Gunman, by Seán O’Casey.

Assonance.

What is assonance?

Assonance is the repeated use of vowel sounds.

Vowel sounds are represented by the letters A, E, I, O, and U.

An example of assonance can be found in the poem The Cold Wind Blows by Kelly Roper.

Who knows why the cold wind blows

A quote from The Cold Wind Blows, by Kelly Roper.

If you read this line aloud, then you will hear the use of assonance. It is the ‘o’ in ‘who’, the ‘ows’ in ‘knows’, the ‘o’ in ‘cold’, the ‘win’ in ‘wind’, and the ‘ows’ in ‘blows’.

When you say this line aloud, your mouth should make a circular shape as you say the vowels and you will find that you tend to naturally elongate your vowels.

I believe that assonance is one of those devices that becomes easier to recognise when you read a poem aloud.

Alliteration.

What is alliteration?

Alliteration is when words repeatedly begin with the same consonant.

An example of alliteration can be found in the sentence ‘The steep, stone steps.’ – S,S,S – alliteration.

An example of alliteration can be found in the poem The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.

While I nodded, nearly napping

A quote from The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.

Why are these poetic devices important?

As always, I like to end Theory Thursday by talking about why the theory discussed above is important.

I will always maintain my belief that understanding enhances enjoyment.

It is not fun to be confused in class. It is not fun to be struggling with an essay that is due soon. It is not fun to be in a conversation about poetry when you feel lost and confused, and if you enjoy poetry then it is not fun when sometimes poetry and theory may seem inaccessible.

My goal with each Theory Thursday is to make aspects of literary theory accessible to anyone who wishes to access it. I could speak in highly academic and complicated language, and I could use really obscure examples but then I feel that my content would not be accessible.

I use everyday language and I use straightforward examples.

If you are a student, then I think these breakdowns will be really beneficial to you because you will need to understand literary theory in order to do your work and if you are not a student but you simply wish to broaden your knowledge, then these breakdowns allow you to do so in a quick and easy way.

The more we understand about literature, the less daunting literature becomes. When you begin to understand these devices then talking about poetry becomes easier and when it becomes easier, it becomes more enjoyable because now not only can you discuss it, but you can understand it on a deeper level. When you can understand something on a deeper level, then you may start to relate to it or it may move you and once this happens, literature becomes much more enjoyable because a poem is no longer simply words on a page. You are no longer scratching your head thinking what does this even mean? So that is why I believe that learning about literary theory and the poetic devices above is important because doing so broadens understanding and enjoyment of literature.

This has been Poetic Devices – Chapter 2. This has been Theory Thursday. I hope you enjoyed it. If anyone has any questions feel free to drop them below.

Kate xo.

Drug Runner.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Movie Monday.

Last week I talked about 10 Things I Hate About You which you should check out if you haven’t already.

This week’s #moviemonday is a little bit different because I am going to be discussing a short film.

At some point in the future on Katelovesliterature.com, I am going to discuss why I love different mediums for different reasons. For example, I will explain why I love short stories and why I think they serve a different purpose when compared to full-length novels etc.

I will also talk in more detail about why I love short films as well as feature-length movies but the short version, pardon the pun, is that I enjoy short films because the narrative is captured in a shorter space of time and I believe this is a really interesting challenge for filmmakers and directors because you do not have two hours to play with. You may only have five minutes and what you do with those five minutes can be amazing.

Drug Runner is a 2018 documentary film, directed by Charlotte Regan and the story that is told in only seven minutes is incredibly moving.

So let’s dive into Movie Monday.

Plot.

This short film is narrated by a voiceover. The voice speaking is a grown man – he remains unnamed – and he talks the audience through his experience of becoming a drug runner at the age of fifteen. As we hear the voiceover, we are watching the events of his youth play out.

He is a boy from a poor area and he wants to help out his mother by bringing in some money and I believe this short film highlights just how easy it is to fall in with the wrong crowd and how one naive decision can lead to dangerous consequences.

Characters.

There is the narrator who we do not see at any point. He has grown up, matured, turned away from the life of drug running, and he is now talking about his experiences.

There is the young boy that we see onscreen. He is innocent. He is just a kid. He is in school, working hard, worried about his Mam, and then one encounter with the wrong crowd, and one drug run led to constant phone calls, no sleep, school being interrupted, and the terrifying, claustrophobic feeling that he cannot escape this life.

We have the clients. There are many different people who buy and use drugs and some of them are grown men in very affluent areas. I thought it was really interesting how this movie highlighted the class divide in only seven minutes because it showed how poorer people taking drugs in poorer areas are often looked down at but wealthy people in posh, affluent areas can take drugs at a party on the weekends and it is viewed as them just having some fun – and it is the rich people who looked down at the young boy who was delivering the drugs. It was a classic example of hypocritical people demanding a service and then looking down at those who provide it.

Themes.

Something to note about this short film is that while it features drugs and drug use, it is not about drugs. The movie is not making the statement that drugs are bad. It is not a documentary about addiction or about how dangerous drugs can be. The boy is not cast in a bad light or a tragic one. He is not a villain or a hero. He is simply a boy who due to circumstances beyond his control – poverty – fell in with a drug running crowd and started earning money by being a drug runner.

The boy remains unnamed and I believe this was intentional because the point is that it could happen to anyone. The narrator states that while he did step away from that world, he does not regret what happened because the money he brought in really helped his family, and if it was not him then it would have been another fifteen year old and he is sure that currently there is another naive fifteen year old running drugs because it does not stop. As long as there is a demand for drugs, there will be people who will run them.

I think the theme and message is a very educational one. This short shows in only seven minutes how we should not judge anyone who falls into these situations because it is so easily done. It is not a judgemental film, it is simply a factual one. This happens and it will continue to happen.

Structure.

You may be thinking can a film that is only seven minutes long have a structure?

Yes. Yes it can.

I would say this short film has three sections, The setup, The Trap, and The Downfall.

This film also uses colours and sounds in a really interesting way.

So at the beginning, the voiceover is explaining how everything began and audiences see the boy in his flat, and at school, and there are many panning shots to show the area where he lives.

Every shot is gloomy with smog, and grey skies. The boy is in his school uniform, which is white, in his school, the shots are light and airy and mostly white – white uniforms, white desks, white walls etc.

When the voiceover starts describing how drug running became consuming, his voiceover is intruded by the constant buzzing of a phone, and we see the boy in his room, late at night, getting constant messages. His phone is buzzing constantly and obnoxiously, it is red, his entire room is lit up in red lights and red is a very intense, heavy colour and the audience can see how this young boy is becoming trapped in this world.

Then there is the downfall. The voiceover is interrupted by sirens. The screen is taken up by flashing blue lights. The young boy is arrested. This downfall is the turning point because this is the moment where he learns he has to get out. He can’t do this anymore. He can’t take the fall for the older boys. This can’t be his life.

All throughout the short, there is uneventful music playing in the background but after his arrest, it stops. The film is silent aside from the sound of the rain pelting down on the sidewalk and I believe this rain symbolises the fresh start that is to come.

Final Thoughts.

My final thoughts are that this is a really powerful short film and I would recommend it to anyone.

I am so impressed by the story that was told in only seven minutes and I think this short is a great example of why I enjoy short films.

It is educational and it is moving and I think that if you like short films then this is one you don’t want to miss.

So this has been Movie Monday. It was a little different than usual but I hope you all enjoyed it.

Next Monday I will be back with a feature-length film.

Do you like short films? Let me know in the comments below.

I hope you all have a great week.

Kate xo.

Why I Love Musicals.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Friday’s Choice. Last week I talked about Virgin River on Netflix which you should go and check out if you haven’t already. Today’s #fridayschoice is going to be all about why I love musicals.

I think that it is obvious from my Theatre Throwback posts that I have spent a lot of time at the theatre watching musicals. I cannot wait to get back to the theatre and I know that the next time I get to watch a musical, I will be glowing with excitement.

Today’s Friday’s Choice is a little bit more personal because I am giving you all an insight into something that I love.

I think that when it comes to musicals, they seem to split people’s opinions. I don’t think I have met anyone who had a middling opinion on musicals, perhaps it is has just been my experience and I do not wish to make sweeping statements but whenever the topic of musicals has come up in conversation, my experience has always been that people tell me that they love musicals or they hate them. There has not been much in-between.

Something that has always struck me as interesting is that whenever someone tells me that they hate musicals (which is fine by the way, we all have our own interests), they tend to mention movie musicals as examples. Now there is nothing wrong with movie musicals, but I don’t think they are the right thing to base one’s opinions about musicals off of. A movie musical that has been adapted to suit a cinema screen is very, very different to a musical that is being performed live onstage, and I will be honest and say that I do not think all musicals are suited to movie adaptations because without the live element, the concept sometimes does not translate well onto the screen and then the movie musical sometimes does not make sense.

I have had people tell me that they don’t enjoy everyone bursting into song which is pretty key to a musical. I think that when you watch a musical live onstage, the bursting into song does not feel so jarring as it sometimes does in movies. In live shows, the orchestra is always playing and you can hear the introduction to the song, and because in musicals, the songs function as a way to share more of the story and move the story forward, the songs seem so much more natural which makes sense because they’re in their natural element and I think that when watching live theatre, some of the most beautiful and emotional moments in the musical happen in the songs.

I have been watching musicals for as long as I can remember. I would say that my family is rather musical, there are people who play lots of different instruments and I went to singing classes when I was very young. We were all always in the choir, things like that and my grandmother especially loved to sing. When I was little we would watch things like My Fair Lady and Oliver! so I have enjoyed musicals since I was very young and as I got older and started taking drama classes more seriously, I began to appreciate musicals on a deeper level too.

I love musicals because they are fun. Some shows have the most fun and upbeat scores and being in the theatre watching a show like Legally Blonde or Mamma Mia is so much fun because the energy is upbeat and the atmosphere in the theatre is amazing. There is a buzz in the air and I don’t think that feeling can be recreated anywhere else.

I think that there is a magical quality to live theatre – which I know, I know, that sounds cliché, but I think it is true. I think that the feeling you get when watching live theatre is almost indescribable. When you are waiting for the curtain to rise and you can hear the orchestra play a few bars before they begin playing the overture, there is such an incredible energy in the theatre. Everyone is excited. The lights have dimmed. Everyone is eagerly anticipating the performance and then it begins.

I love musicals because I love to be moved. I think that some of the most beautiful moments happen in songs. There is something about the way that music can capture an emotion that words cannot. I adore music. I adore reading sheet music. I love how powerful and moving and personal music can be. Everyone has a favourite song and I will bet there is always a reason behind why it is their favourite. There have been times when music has moved me to tears and I think that when a piece of art touches you on that level, it is very special.

It is great to enjoy a musical. It is great to walk away and say ‘I had a great time, that was brilliant.’

I think it is another thing entirely to walk away feeling moved. When a show resonates with you or you find it relatable or touching, that is the best feeling because the show becomes more than just a show.

I love musicals because visually, they are stunning. I am always so impressed by the production. The staging, the costumes, the sets, the dancers, the ensemble. A musical is composed of many moving parts and I have great admiration for anyone who works onstage and behind-the-scenes because everyone who plays a part in making a show happen is extremely talented and together all those components create something incredible.

Musicals are a little bit of a spectacle. I think there is a certain opulence in musicals that should be just accepted as a given. It is not the realism that is created in movies. A musical is a very immersive experience because the actors onstage will bounce off of the energy of the audience. Anything can happen live. Props can break, sometimes there are mishaps, there will always be rustling in the audience and so even though the actors perform the same script again and again, it is still a different show every time.

I think that musicals are a great way to appreciate all different aspects of the arts, if you love dancing then you will love the dancing in the show. Some shows are known for their incredible dance sequences. If you love music then what could be better than a musical? There are so many different, amazing songs and I think that sometime on Katelovesliterature.com I will talk about some of my favourite scores in more detail. If you love acting and usually prefer traditional plays, then I would say to give musicals a chance because there are some incredibly talented actors who have blown me away when I watched them live. Acting onstage is very different to acting onscreen so if you have a movie musical in your head I would say to forget about the movie. Set aside that expectation and go and enjoy live performances.

Of course I understand that tickets can be expensive and sometimes there are shows that I would love to see but can’t. What I will say though is whenever I know a show is coming that I know I absolutely do want to see – not a casual ‘oh that might be nice.’ – but a proper, ‘oh my goodness, I can’t miss that.’, then I will save up or maybe I will get the tickets for my birthday or for Christmas and any time I have spent the money on theatre tickets, it has always been money well spent because I have never had a bad night at the theatre. There are also different seat options and sometimes there are deals about so if it is something you love then keep an eye out for things like that.

I cannot wait to see a show again. The next show on my list is The Rocky Horror Show. I will hopefully be seeing this weird and wonderful show in October and of course, I will write about it so keep an eye on my Instagram (@katelovesliterature) for updates on that. I am very excited about adding another program to my collection. I will be seeing this musical with a friend of mine who loves the movie, but has never been to a live musical before so I have said already to put the movie out of your head because the show will be a completely new experience. So I am very excited for that. Roll on October.

This has been Friday’s Choice. I hope you enjoyed it. Let me know your thoughts on musicals. Love them? Hate them? What’s your favourite musical? Is there one that stands out? Is there one that moved you? Let me know, I love hearing from you. I hope you all have a lovely weekend.

Kate xo.

Public Speaking – How To Tackle Nerves.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Theory Thursday here on Katelovesliterature.com.

Last week’s #theorythursday was all about poetic devices so you should go and check that out if you haven’t already.

Today’s #theorythursday is a little different and those of you who reached out to let me know that you find my public speaking centred content helpful should find today’s blog post very beneficial as today I am going to be talking about how to tackle the nerves that can come with public speaking.

Today’s post is a little less based in theory because instead I am giving you my own personal tips about dealing with nerves because over the years I have become very confident when it comes to public speaking, in fact I even enjoy it now. So let’s dive into Theory Thursday.

Firstly, let’s ask ourselves why do we get nervous?

I have had friends and family members tell me that they do not understand how I enjoy public speaking because it makes them so nervous and I think a really good way to deal with nerves is to figure out what exactly you are nervous about.

Are you nervous about speaking in front of a large crowd?

Are you nervous about forgetting the material?

Are you worried that people won’t like what you have to say?

There are many reasons as to why people find public speaking challenging and all of those reasons are very valid but nerves don’t have to stop you. I would even say that sometimes nerves fuel me and with time, I think they will fuel you too.

So once I have figured out what exactly is making me nervous, I start to tackle those factors one by one.

So if I am nervous about speaking in front of a large crowd, the best thing I have learned to do over the years is to not look at the crowd. Instead, you should look above their heads.

Pick a spot on the back wall and that spot will be your focus spot. When you walk out onto the stage or to the podium or to wherever you may be speaking, look directly at your focus spot.

By looking over the audience’s heads, you are giving the impression that you are facing the crowd confidently but you are not actually making eye contact with anyone, and looking above people’s heads rather than looking directly at people will make the audience less daunting as it won’t feel as though so many eyes are on you.

This takes practice so I would recommend choosing a focus spot whenever you are practicing your speech. If you are in the venue or in a rehearsal room, or even if you are rehearsing at home, pick a focus spot and get into the habit of keeping your gaze on that spot while you are speaking.

Having a focus spot also makes it easier to remain concentrated for the duration of your speech because by looking above the audience, you are less likely to be distracted by any movements that may occur in the audience. People move, people take coats off, people take notes, some drink water, some leave to go to the bathroom, etc, etc. When you are already nervous, catching someone’s eye or seeing movement can distract you and cause you to stumble, which will in turn only make your nerves worse so that is why my first tip is to pick a focus spot that will help you get into the zone.

My next tip will sound very obvious but I am often surprised by how many people do not do this. Practice. You simply must practice your speech if you want to feel confident when giving it. If you are also nervous about forgetting your material, practicing will help tackle this area too because practicing means you are getting the words into your system and there will come a time when you know the speech in your sleep.

Practice your speech aloud. Take some time to see how long it takes to give the speech. You will figure out where you need to pause for breath or where you may need to have some water and the more you recite your speech aloud, the easier giving the speech becomes.

Another really good tip is to practice with people rather than always doing so by yourself. Ask a friend, ask a parent, ask a teacher, ask anyone you feel like asking if they could spare some time to listen to you recite your speech.

Reciting the speech to people you know helps in many ways.

It helps to tackle nerves about speaking in front of people because you are easing yourself into it by reciting the speech to someone you know and are comfortable with.

Practicing a speech in front of a friend gives you the opportunity to implement your new focus spot. You can pick a spot and look above their head and get used to doing so.

Practicing a speech in front of a friend is another chance to make sure you are confident that you know it and feedback is a great tool. Ask a friend or a family member to give you honest feedback. Find out if anything is confusing or boring or if they think you are talking too fast or too slow because it is always better to get feedback and amend things before the speech rather than having things you wished you had changed after the speech.

The thing about public speaking is that is it daunting but the only way to really get better at it is to keep doing it. Over time it will become easier.

Another thing that I like to do is use the nerves as fuel.

Over the years I have done a lot of public speaking. I did readings and speeches in school. I’ve done presentations in college, I have performed in many plays and even though it gets easier, I would never say that I am not at least a little bit nervous.

It is good to be a little bit nervous. It means you care. Without those butterflies, there is no magic in my opinion. That feeling before walking out before a crowd or that last moment before the curtain opens is a feeling that is like no other. It is adrenaline and I’ve grown to love it and instead of letting those nerves worry me and stop me, I’ve began to look at that feeling as a good thing. The nerves excite me and now they fuel me and I think this little change of mindset has been so beneficial.

It is okay to be nervous and no one should be hard on themselves about being nervous. The important thing is that we must not let the nerves beat us. We must not let them stop us from giving the speech and so that is why I feel viewing nerves as a good thing is really beneficial.

Another tip I have is that while it is important to practice, I also think a calm attitude before going onstage is so important. Do not overdo it right before you go on. Do not keep looking out to see how many people are there. Fight the urge to ask yourself whether you know the speech or not. Don’t start second-guessing yourself right before you are to begin. Stay calm. Take a deep breath. Have some water and trust that by this point you have done the work. You have practised, you know your stuff, you have your focus spot, and these nerves are fuel.

Try to enjoy the speech and remember that even if you do make a mistake, no one in the audience knows. Only you know so if there are any mistakes, do not fret. Simply keep going as confidently as you can and no one will be any wiser.

Confidence is a mystery sometimes. There are times when I feel extremely confident and there are times when I do not feel one bit confident but no matter how I am feeling, I follow the steps that I have outlined above.

I stay calm. I take deep breaths. I drink water. I practice my speech alone and in front of friends. I have my focus spot. This little checklist has enabled me to become a very confident and very engaging public speaker and as I said, I would now go as far as to say that I actually enjoy public speaking because I enjoy the challenge, and I have started to view the nerves as fuel.

To anyone who is struggling with public speaking, especially those of you who have reached out to me to ask questions about it, the best piece of advice I can give is to keep trying. Keep at it. If it is something that you wish to become better at, then the best thing to do is to keep it up. Keep practicing because it will get easier and I hope that you will find today’s Theory Thursday beneficial.

If you have any questions about public speaking then please do drop a comment below because I would be more than happy to help in anyway that I can.

This has been Theory Thursday.

Kate xo.

September’s Book Of The Month.

Hello everyone. Here’s to the first of September. Here’s to autumn. This is my favourite time of year and I am so excited for all that is to come here on Katelovesliterature.com as we move into autumn and winter.

If you follow me on Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you already know that September’s #bookofthemonth is The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I am so excited to delve into this classic during the month of September so feel free to read along with me.

Those of you who are heading back to school or off to college, good luck with the new year. It is a new month, a new start, and as I like to say there is nowhere to go but onwards and upwards.

Let me know in the comments below if you have read The Great Gatsby. I love hearing from you all.

Happy September.

Kate xo.

City Of Bones.

Hello everyone and welcome to August’s #bookofthemonth discussion. 

If you’ve been following my blog and my Instagram (@katelovesliterature), then you’ll already know that today I am going to be discussing Michael Connelly’s City Of Bones. 

Let’s dive into August’s Book Of The Month. 

The plot of City Of Bones revolves around Detective Harry Bosch as he investigates a cold case after bones were discovered. As he investigates, he learns that the bones belonged to a twelve year old boy who was murdered twenty years ago, and as Bosch digs into the past and uncovers the horrific abuse this poor boy endured, he becomes more and more determined to find his killer so that justice can be done. 

As this investigation plays out, Bosch also faces demons from his own past while also balancing a new romance, but things are never easy. Bosch’s love affair with a female police officer causes gossip and raised eyebrows but nevertheless things seem to be going well, until a mission goes terribly amiss and Bosch is faced with questions and confusion and decisions that must be made. Bosch has always had a turbulent career and his penchant for trouble does not go away in this book. Bosch wants to do what is right, he’s got great gut instincts, and although he might be a pain at times, I found him to be a very moving character as in my opinion, he is motivated by grief. 

So let’s talk about Connelly’s writing style. I am a fan of Michael Connelly and I get my love of his books from my mother who has talked about Michael Connelly’s books ever since I was very young. Something that I love about Connelly’s writing style is the level of detail and insight into police work that he features in his books. There is a lot of what I am going to call “investigative jargon”. Bosch talks about procedure, he talks about warrants, he talks about securing the crime scene correctly, etc. There are some instances where I do really have to concentrate while reading, for instance when Bosch and the medical examiner are talking about the boy’s bones and his injuries, because the medical jargon is not something that I would ever encounter in my real life. It is quite complex and I would say if you are not used to that sort of language then this may be a challenging read however this level of detail is something that fans of Connelly will expect to see and I personally really enjoy the challenge. 

I love the level of detail that is found in Connelly’s books because in my opinion, the use of this detailed, insightful, serious language makes the seriousness of the crime feel more tangible. There are some detective or crime novels that you read and while the crime is there, it doesn’t always feel so serious or central because the detectives take over the plot and it almost becomes about the detective only. While Bosch is the main protagonist, it never feels as though Bosch overshadows the case. The level of detail that Connelly puts into the story makes the case the key focus of the plot because the case is Bosch’s main priority. It is what he is focusing on. This is a serious job and this is a serious case and the case’s magnitude is always highlighted. Bosch is a detective and he sees horrible crimes all the time. This case stands out. This is his job, but this case has taken hold of Bosch. It has become personal. He cannot accept the politics that are at play in the police department. If you know the character of Bosch in any way, either from the books or from the television show Bosch, then you will know that there is always a tension between Bosch and the department. Bosch’s view is that the department’s brass care more about the department’s image than achieving justice and he cannot understand that. He is thinking about that little boy, and the hellish life he endured, and he is thinking about how he was buried in a shallow grave and left to be forgotten about. Well Harry Bosch won’t forget. He can’t forget. He is determined to find the killer even if it’s not easy for the department. Bosch’s superiors make some incredibly shocking decisions which left me as a reader feeling frustrated and annoyed but also incredibly engrossed in the story. 

The plot is quite fast paced and Connelly is a master of plot twists. If you are a fan of his work then you’ll know that he has an amazing talent for taking his readers by surprise. As you approach the end of the book, the investigation races to a shocking conclusion and as always, there will be no spoilers here, but I was so impressed. I was making guesses and predictions as I was reading but I was still very taken aback by how the story ends and even if you have never read a Michael Connelly book before in your life, I would recommend this one. It was fantastic. I really like how the pace is fast however it is not frantic. There are some very somber, very poignant moments and Connelly allows them to settle. As a reader, I found myself absorbing the darker moments. They weren’t raced through or glossed over, nor were they rehashed or melodramatic. There are times that I feel that Connelly allows his characters to simply be. It is the silences and the rests within the fast paced plot that stick out, that stay in your memory and there are some beautiful lines that just have a way of hitting on a heartstring. 

As a character, Bosch grows personally and professionally and the events of his personal life leave him with so many questions. He is at a crossroads and I like that we do not know what way he will sway. Connelly’s supporting characters, even if they are very minor, are always very interesting and well fleshed out. Every character is relevant to the plot even if they are only present for a few pages. I don’t love every character, I’m not supposed to. They are not all likeable people, but they are relevant people and there are times when you think you’ve figured out who the killer is only for it to be one of Connelly’s brilliant placed red herrings. The plot, while always focused on the case, is layered and complex but despite some of the more challenging medical and police jargon, it never feels too complicated to the point where the reader feels lost. 

The only critique I would say that I have is that the ending feels a little abrupt but I think this is partially because I was so invested in the plot and in the case and I truly couldn’t put this book down so I was actually a bit disappointed when I came to the end and it was finished. Overall I think that the ending, while a bit abrupt, is fitting and very well written. Most importantly in my opinion, the ending is very fitting and inline with Bosch’s character. It doesn’t feel like it came out of nowhere, it is very much Bosch. I will never spoil a story on Katelovesliterature.com so if you want to see what I am talking about then you should definitely ready City Of Bones yourself. 

City Of Bones delves into some very heavy themes such as murder, missing children, abuse and abused children, suicide, shootings, death and grief. So I do understand that some people may find these topics too heavy or even triggering but I think that when you sit down to read a book like this, a book that is about the discovery of a child’s bones then you should open the book with the expectation of some more serious themes. It is a difficult read in the sense that it is a very emotional read. The case is a tragic one and as more evidence comes to light, the more your heart will ache for this poor boy. I would say that while Connelly is a detailed writer and the forensic elements are fascinating, I would also say he is a brilliant writer when it comes to capturing emotions. In this book in particular, I felt that Connelly really gave us an insight into Bosch’s head. I felt that I really began to understand him as a character because we were given insight into what makes him tick, and how he investigates, and the way he thinks and even with his new love interest, it feels for the first time that Bosch truly has connected with another person and I think that you would hope that there are people like Bosch in the world, people who will do what is right despite the political chess pieces that are always at play.  

The story was gripping and compelling. The characters were realistic and nuanced and very easy to become engrossed by. The pace was fast, this is a story that you will read quickly in my opinion because if you’re like me then you won’t want to put it down. I was moved by this book and by this case and I think that if you read it, it will become clear why so many people love Michael Connelly. I would highly recommend this book and I would also recommend watching the tv series because I think that the essence of the book was captured really well onscreen and I may talk about this in more detail at another time because I think looking at how things can be taken from pages and translated onto a tv screen to tell the story through a different medium can be really interesting, but that is a blog post for another day. 

This has been my discussion of Michael Connelly’s City Of Bones. This has been August’s Book Of The Month. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have read City Of Bones, then I would love to hear your thoughts on it so drop some comments below and keep an eye out because I will be announcing September’s #bookofthemonth very soon.

Here’s to September. I hope you all have a great month. We are moving into autumn and winter which are my favourite seasons so I am very excited for all that is to come. Stay tuned!

Kate xo. 

10 Things I Hate About You.

Hello everyone and welcome back to another Movie Monday. So if you follow my Instagram (@katelovesliterature) then you will know from my stories that I asked a few questions this week about what people prefer, action vs thrillers etc, etc. Thank you so much to everyone who voted. As I have already said, the polls on my stories will not impact the content that I choose to write about and there will always be a broad range of topics and genres covered on Katelovesliteraure.com because I want the website to be a place where there is something for everyone and I also love a very broad range of things myself but the polls were simply about my own curiosity.

I choose what to write about based on what I am enjoying so while there are so many brilliant movies coming out at the moment and I do plan on writing about current releases too, the movie that I watched over the weekend was 10 Things I Hate About You so let’s dive into #moviemonday.

10 Things I Hate About You staring Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles was released in 1999 and directed by Gil Junger. The movie is a modern adaptation of William Shakespeare’s play The Taming of the Shrew.

Plot.

The plot follows Cameron James as he starts a new school and immediately develops a crush on the beautiful but somewhat vain and selfish Bianca Stratford. Bianca wishes to date the equally vain and very selfish Joey Donner but her very overprotective father will not allow her or her older sister Kat date anyone until after they graduate from high school. Kat and Bianca could not be any more different. Bianca is popular and she cares about what everyone thinks of her. She wishes to take part in the social life at school. She wants to date, go to parties and most importantly, she wants to go to prom. Kat does not care about what anyone thinks of her. She does not care that she is unpopular. She does not care about social events. She is confident and not afraid to speak her mind.

Bianca pleads with her father to allow her to date, she argues that he is being entirely unfair (which he is but Larry Miller plays the character in such a funny way that you can’t help but like him despite his ridiculous overprotective rules). Walter Stratford finally gives in (somewhat). He relents and tells Bianca that she may do whatever she wants but only if Kat does it too. This ‘compromise’ does not make Bianca happy because Kat never dates or goes anywhere, a fact her father is well aware of.

This rule is the basis of the entire story. Cameron asks Bianca out on a date but she tells him about her father’s new rule. So Cameron sets out to find someone to date Kat, thinking that he will then finally get his chance to date Bianca however she is hoping to date Joey as soon as Kat has a date.

The question is who will date Kat? Cameron’s hopes turn to Patrick Verona. He’s a ‘bad boy’ shrouded in rumours and mystery. He’s actually just a good guy who like Kat, does what he wants without feeling the need to fit into the popular high school crowds.

A plan is cooked up and Patrick is bribed to ask Kat out on a date. At first it seems the pair will never get along and then sparks begin to fly.

Characters.

Kat Stratford is our main protagonist despite the entire scheme occurring because of Cameron’s crush. Kat is made out to be ‘other’ at school. She is mocked and somewhat feared because of her loud, straightforward, and at times, slightly abrasive personality. She is not afraid to express her opinions and it does not matter whether she is speaking to her sister, her father, a teacher, or a boy. Kat Stratford will say what is on her mind. Kat loves music, she dreams of starting a band but she knows her father won’t approve. She has been accepted to Sarah Lawrence College in New York and this causes some tension between her and her father as he does not want her to go. She despises the popular crowd, Joey Donner in particular, and she does not want him anywhere near her sister Bianca. There is tension between the sisters because Kat does not understand Bianca’s desire to be popular, and she is also sick and tired of people comparing her to her perkier younger sister. As the movie goes on, we learn more about Kat. As her and Patrick grow closer, she explains some of her reasoning behind her actions, and she explains why she despises Joey so much. I really enjoy Kat’s character arc but I will talk about this more when I am discussing themes.

Bianca Stratford is not a one dimensional character and this is something that I love because she so easily could have been. Bianca is young and naive and she is simply trying to survive high school. She does care about her social life and about her popularity. She does want to fit in at school. She does care about how she looks and about what people think of her however none of these are bad things. She is frustrated because she feels as though Kat can never see her point of view and she feels frustrated by her father’s stifling nature. She feels like Kat is being hypocritical because at one point in time she was very popular and then one day she decided she no longer wanted to be, but this revelation gives us more insight into Kat’s character. She did care about popularity at some point which is why Bianca is so frustrated with her now. She feels her father and her sister are stopping her from living her life, having experiences, making mistakes, and learning for herself and while yes, she starts off a little vapid and selfish when the movie begins, her frustrations and feelings are very valid. I really like her growth as a character in this movie which I will also talk about in themes.

Patrick Verona is a great guy. He’s cool. He’s his own person. He does not care what people think. People judge him because of how he dresses (combat boots are very edgy of course) and really as the movie plays out, we see that he is a very thoughtful guy. He really cares about Kat and by the end of the movie he has fallen hard for her. His one bad judgement call in this movie is the fact that he allows himself to get swept into Cameron and Joey’s plan and he accepts the bribes to ask Kat on a date. It is the typical plot where at first it is just about the money but then feelings become involved. Kat and Patrick make a really lovely couple and they bond and connect as the movie plays out but of course, we all know that at some point Kat will find out that he was paid to ask her out and she will be devastated and furious when she finds out and rightly so. I like Patrick. I don’t like the date scheme and it is disappointing that he went along with it but Ledger was brilliant in this movie. He was charming and funny and even though it does take a while to get there, his integrity does win in the end.

Cameron and Joey are Bianca’s two suitors and I am talking about them together because they are the absolute opposite of each other. I think that Bianca’s interest in Joey and then finally Cameron really represents her personal growth in the movie. In the beginning, she is interested in the wealthy and handsome Joey. Joey is overly confident, in fact he is cocky. He wants to act and he is always talking about himself and his good looks. He is self-absorbed and he only wants to date Bianca because it will stroke his own ego. Cameron is sweet, and shy and he is willing to do a lot for Bianca. He cares about her as a person. He learns french so he can tutor her. He thinks she is smarter than she gives herself credit for and even after he learns of her plan to ditch him for Joey, he makes sure she gets home safely when Joey leaves her with no ride home. He is not a doormat either though and I respect the fact that he confronts her about her behaviour. He tells her to her face how much he likes her, he lists out all he has done for her but he does not demand that she should automatically like him back. He tells her that if she was not interested then she should have told him instead of stringing him along and he tells her that she just cannot be so selfish. It is a really great scene and it is a turning point for them both. Bianca has to go through the naive infatuation with Joey before she can learn what an awful guy he really is, before she can see what is right in front of her. When she and Cameron do finally connect, it is clear that they are actually a very sweet couple.

Walter Stratford is an overbearing father. I think if Larry Miller wasn’t so funny I would really dislike this character. He loves his daughters and he does just want what is best for them and he means well but he is stifling and he does need to understand that he cannot bubble wrap his girls forever. His rules are unfair and over the top. They do need to live their own lives and make mistakes so that they can learn and grow and mature as human beings. He does have some really witty lines though and he does redeem himself with some very tender moments. The father/daughter relationship can be complex, especially when fathers must accept the fact that their little girls are growing up and becoming young women.

Themes.

There are a few themes presented in this movie. Individuality vs society, love, familial relationships, personal growth and the idea of public perception vs personal reality. I think I would argue that the idea of public perception vs personal reality and personal growth are the two most important themes in this movie because every character is perceived a certain way when the movie begins and as it goes on, we learn what they are really like.

When the movie begins, Kat and Bianca are stereotypical opposites. One popular, one not. One cares about popularity, one doesn’t. One wants to date, one doesn’t. Perky vs blunt, etc. It would have been very easy to allow these two girls to remain stereotypical and one dimensional but instead the movie explores their personalities. Both sisters struggle to understand each other because of their differences but as time passes and the audience learns more about who they actually are as people, the sisters begin to connect because they understand each other more.

Kat finally opens up to her sister and explains why she dislikes Joey so much and why she does not want him anywhere near her younger sister. (No spoilers – go watch the movie!), and Bianca explains to Kat that she feels so frustrated because she feels like Kat and their father never let her experience anything for herself. There is a lovely moment towards the end of the movie where Bianca thanks Kat for everything that she has done for her. It is a lovely moment for two reasons. It shows Bianca’s growth – this once selfish girl is acknowledging that her sister has done a lot for her and she is saying thank you. It is also nice to see these two characters who began as such opposites find some common ground and move closer together. Their relationship will definitely improve now that they can both see where the other is coming from.

Something that I really like about this movie is that while the characters get fleshed out as the movie plays out, they don’t necessarily change. Kat realises that she can let people into her life and not always look for the worst in people however she does not at any point lose her fiery, blunt personality. She doesn’t change her look and she doesn’t stop expressing her opinions. At no point does Patrick tell her that she is too much, or too loud, or too anything. He falls for her as she is. The biggest change is that she finally accepts that she has to let her sister live and learn for herself.

At the end of the movie, she is still confident, she is still happy to express her thoughts, her opinions, and her feelings – As she does in the arguably most well-known scene from this movie where she stands up in English class and reads her poem expressing how hurt she is by Patricks’s actions. Kat becomes a more well-rounded person yes, but she never changes. Her straightforward personality is never a bad thing and I really like that she did not lose her spirit at the end of this movie and become a ‘nicer’ person – nicer in the sense that she would stop being blunt, loud, and confident enough to speak her mind just because the popular guys in high school find her intimidating. She’s true to herself and she learns about herself along the way and I really love her arc.

I feel the same way about Bianca. Bianca is never called selfish for caring about popularity, she is called selfish because of how she treats people. I really appreciate that her arc was about her understanding her sister more. I love how she took the time to be able to vocalise her frustrations. I really love that by the end of the movie, she has learned who she really likes and she learns that she can’t just think about herself but she does not suddenly not care about all the things she cared about at the beginning. She still cares about her friends, but she has learned who her true friends are. She still cares about being able to live her life and figure things out for herself, and she has maturely explained her point of view to her sister. She still cares about how she looks and what people think of her and that is fine because these are not bad things. It is okay to care about how you look. It is okay to want to fit in at high school – what is not okay is treating people badly and this is a lesson that Bianca learns.

I love that both sisters matured and developed while retaining their personalities. They grew as people but they did not become completely different people and that is one of the reasons I love this movie.

Structure.

This plot moves fairly quickly and while there are a lot of moving parts, it does not feel overwhelming.

This movie is an adaptation of a Shakespeare play and something that Shakespeare does in so many of his plays, The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, etc., is weave his plot and sub-plot together seamlessly. This movie does this too.

If you study one of Shakespeare’s plays, you will see how his sub-plots mirror his main plot. A really good example of this can be found in King Lear – which I will most likely discuss in more detail in a future blog post.

Kat’s story is the main plot while Bianca’s is the sub-plot yet both are given the same amount of attention and both girls can grow and their stories are not separate. They are weaved together.

In my opinion there are three key scenes in this movie – The party, The bleachers, and The prom.

Let me explain.

I have spoken before about how I believe that a movie’s structure can match it’s plot and how the pace may seem slow if the character is struggling and then when our character gains confidence, the movie’s pace picks up.

In 10 Things I Hate About You, I feel that these three key scenes are where we see the story get developed the most.

Kat and Patrick bond at the party. She gets drunk and hits her head. He looks after her and brings her home. Despite his genuine feelings for her that have developed, he won’t kiss her while she is drunk. This upsets Kat and her being upset by this shows the audience that she wanted him to kiss her, meaning that she has grown to like him too.

It is at this party that Joey leaves Bianca to get home all by herself and she has to turn to Cameron even after she ignored him all night. He does give her a lift home and it is in the car that he gives her a piece of his mind. So this party is a turning point for all of our characters.

The scene where Patrick sings I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You on the bleachers is one of my favourite scenes in any movie. It is cliché. It is a huge public gesture and I think if it was any other actor I would cringe but Heath Ledger manages to make it charming. It is a very endearing moment because the cool and mysterious Patrick makes a fool of himself for Kat, who is clearly smitten by the gesture as it gets them back on speaking terms. This moment is a turning point for them as a couple and it also sets up the big downfall when Kat inevitably learns about the bribes.

The prom is where all our storylines collide. Kat decides to go to the prom with Patrick. By doing so, she is opening up and allowing herself to be vulnerable. She is having a great time with him and the night starts off so nicely that we as the audience, know it is too good to be true. Bianca finally gets to go to prom, the event she has been dreaming of the entire movie – Would you like to guess who she goes with?

It is at prom that the painful truth finally comes out and Kat is rightfully devastated when she finds out that Patrick had been paid to ask her on dates. He tries to explain himself. He tries to tell her that he has genuinely fallen for her but she won’t hear of it. It is a hard scene to watch, especially since we know how big of a deal it was that Kat decided to open up and attend prom with Patrick because up until a certain point she was adamant that she was not going. She feels stupid and used and Julia Stiles plays her so well because every time I watch this movie I am always devastated for her when this happens.

Bianca has an amazing moment at prom. If you know then you know and if you don’t – watch the movie! In my opinion, Bianca’s amazing moment at prom shows how much she has grown as a character and she completely redeems herself for her behaviour in the beginning.

The prom is a really satisfying scene to watch and something that I really like about it is that it has a stage-like quality to it. If you are familiar with Shakespeare plays then you will know that there are often scenes near the end where all of the characters are onstage and all of the confusion gets cleared up when the truth finally spills out and gets revealed to all. It is a very theatrical moment and as I said, every time I watch it, I feel sorry for Kat.

Final Thoughts.

10 Things I Hate About You is a movie that I have seen many times and it is one that I know I will watch many times again. I love the cast and the soundtrack is great too. I really like the story and of course, being an English Literature student I do enjoy modern adaptations of classic plays – not always, but I enjoy them when they are done well and I do believe that this adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew is done very well. I would recommend watching this movie on a rainy day or on a day when you need a laugh. It is funny, it is touching, it is a little cheesy at times, but overall it is a very enjoyable movie to watch.

This has been Movie Monday. I hope you enjoyed it. Have you seen 10 Things I Hate About You? Let me know what you think in the comments below. I hope you all have a great week.

Make sure to check out tomorrow’s Book of The Month discussion all about Michael Connelly’s City Of Bones and follow me on Instagram if you don’t already (@katelovesliterature) because I will be announcing September’s #bookofthemonth very soon.

Kate xo.