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Journey to the End of the Earth

November 28, 2011 in class 12th, Tutorials

 

Visiting Antarctica is like an immersion that will force a person to place himself in the context of the Earth’s geological history.
History of Antarctica

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  • 650 million yrs ago — amalgamated supercontinent Gondwana existed around Antarctica.
  • Humans hadn’t arrived till then.
  • Climate was much warmer and hosted a huge variety of flora and fauna.
  • Gondwana flourished for 500 milion years. After that dinosaurs and mammals started getting frigid, desolate and at the bottom of the world.

To visit Antarctica now is to be a part of that history and get a feel of where we  the humans have come from and where we may be heading to as the prognosis is not good for humans.

Author’s visit to Antarctica

  • Started the journey from Madras …crossed nine time zones, six checkpoints, three bodies of water and ecospheres.
  • Travelled for over 100 hours in  a car, an aeroplane and a ship (a Russian research vessel Akademik Shokalskiy) and reached the driest, coldest, windiest continent in the world.
  • Author’s first emotion on seeing Antarctica’s expansive white landscape and the vast blue horizon was relief, followed up with an immediate and profound wonder…at its immensity, its isolation , but mostly at how India and Antarctica were together before the Gondwana landmass split.
  • The author feelings about Antarctica later on … she remained there for two weeks  and felt it to be a chilling prospect … she was a sun worshipping South Indian and remained at a place where 90% of Earth’s total ice he felt that it was like walking in a giant ping pong ball which is devoid of human markers.

 

Antartica makes a person lose all earthly sense of time and perspective

 

  • Visual scale ranges from the microscopic to the mighty : midges and mites to blue whales and huge icebergs.
  • Surreal (strange)  24 hr austral summer light
  • Ubiquitous ( Omnipresent) silence, interrupted only by an avalanche or calving ice sheet

 

Why is the prognosis not good for the humans??

 

  • Humans have been on the Earth for merely 12,000 yrs…barely a few seconds on the geological clock.
  • In such a short time span they have harmed nature extremely…by carving their dominance over Nature with their villages, cities and megacities.
  • Increasing  population is battling with other species for the limited and fast depleting resources. The unmitigated burning of fossil fuels has created a blanket of Co2 around the world which is increasing the global temperature gradually.
  • Climate change is one of the most discussed environmental issues of the contemporary world.
  • Antarctica is the only place that seems to have answers to all these questions as … it has remained pristine because it has never sustained human populations … also because it holds half a million yr old carbon records trapped its ice cores.

 

 

Students on Ice

 

  • Headed by a Canadian Geoff Green…started with rich and retired celebrities but got tired of them as they did not pursue the cause properly.
  • Now he takes High School students to the ends of the world , provides them with inspiring educational opportunities which will help them to develop a new understanding and respect for the planet Earth.
  • He feels that these youngsters are the future generation of policy makers. So he wants to give them a life changing experience at an age when they can understand the problem and think of working for the cause.

 

 

Why has Students on Ice been so successful??

 

  • It is possible to be blasé about polar ice caps melting while sitting in our native places
  • But it is impossible to go anywhere near the South Pole and not be affected by it because when you can visibly see polar ice caps melting, glaciers retreating and ice shelves collapsing … you begin to realize that the threat of global warming is very real.

 

 

Antarctica is the perfect place to study how little changes in the environment can have big repercussions…

 

  • Ex. Microscopic phytoplanktons… they are the single celled grasses of the sea that nourish and sustain the entire Southern Ocean’s food chain.
  • Pytoplanktons use  the sun’s energy to assimilate carbon and synthesise organic compounds in photosynthesis.
  • Scientists warn that further depletion in the ozone layer will affect the activities of the phytoplanktons…this will further affect the lives of all the marine animals and birds of the polar region and the global carbon cycle.

 

 

Walk on the Ocean

 

  • The most memorable experience of the author …occurred at 65.55 degrees south.
  • The ship got caught in a thick stretch of ice between the Tadpole Island and the peninsula…the captain decided to turn the ship around.. so he instructed everyone to climb down the gangplank and walk on the ocean.
  • 52 of them wearing their Gore tex and glares walked on stark whiteness and underneath them was a metre thick ice pack and underneath that 180 metres of living, breathing, salt water.
  • Also she could see the Crabeater seals stretching and sunning themselves just like stray dogs under the shade of a banyan tree.
  • This was a revelation : Everything Does Indeed Connect.

 

 

Author wonders about the beauty of balance in play on our planet.

 

  • Would Antarctica become the warm place that it used to be?
  • Will the humans be around to see these changes or would they also have become extinct?

 

 

After spending 2 weeks with a group of teenagers she feels that they still have the idealism to save the world.She says that a lot can happen in a million years, but what a difference a day makes….because in the parable of the phytoplanktons there is a great metaphor for existence:  Take care of the small things and the big things will fall into place.

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JULIUS CAESAR

November 20, 2011 in class 10th, Sample Papers, Tutorials

Character sketch of Julius Caesar

Caesar, as portrayed by Shakespeare, is a mixture of weakness and strength. In the very opening scene of the play the playwright gives us an impression of Caesar as a political and military strength, though at certain times he tells us that his power is being undermined by certain officers of the state.

Although Caesar shows complete disregard for any kind of superstition yet at certain occasions he reveals to be under the impact of superstitions.

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Caesar is fearless but at the same time he has a wavering mind also. When Calpurnia tries to convince him to remain indoors, Caesar fearlessly says that he is ready to accept whatever may be the consequences of stepping out on that day. He very philosophically declares that cowards die many times before their death and the brave never taste of it except once. But when Calpurnia pleads in front of him and bends on her knees, Caesar agrees to follow the words of his wife.

Again when Decius comes and misinterprets Calpurnia’s dream, Caesar is fully convinced and also tempted by the thoughts of being offered the kingly crown, so he decides to get ready to leave the house.

•Here Caesar feels greatly pleased by the flattering interpretation of Calpurnia’s dream .Thus, he appears to have a wavering mind.

Caesar reveals his firmness and his arrogance in the Senate House when Metellus Cimber approaches him with a petition. Caesar firmly rejects the request. Here we admire Caesar’s firmness but we strongly disapprove the arrogant and proud manner in which he speaks to the petitioner. He claims to be one man among countless men as he never changes his mind and never modifies his decisions.

Caesar is also very graceful and dignified in receiving the Senators when they come to his house to fetch him to Senate House. In a very hospitable manner, he offers them to come inside and taste some wine.

Caesar as portrayed by Shakespeare does arouse our admiration because of his strength of character and understanding of human nature but we feel disappointed by his wavering nature, his love of flattery, his arrogance and his boastfulness.

Character Sketch of Marcus Brutus

•When Cassius approaches Brutus and tries to convince and bring him into conspiracy, Shakespeare shows the conflict in his mind due to his love for Caesar and love of freedom .Cassius is able to read the disturbance going on in Brutus’ mind. He targets the mind of Brutus accordingly and succeeds in luring him in the conspiracy party by playing upon his sense of honour and love for freedom and partly also by appealing to him in the name of his ancestors.

•Although Brutus greatly values freedom and wants to safeguard the interest of the common people, yet he is at the same time a dear friend of Caesar.

•Brutus is an idealist who is opposed by the realism and practical sense of Cassius.

•The idealism of Brutus comes out in the course of the play especially when the conspiracy is being planned against Caesar.

•Being an idealist and a visionary with little knowledge of practical realities he fails as a statesman and as a military leader. The lack of political foresight and incapacity to judge the characters of the people whom he has to convince constitute the tragic flaw in him. He shows himself to be too self righteous and self opinionated.

•In dealing with Antony, Brutus shows the same ignorance of the practical reality of life as he had previously when the conspiracy was discussed by him with his fellow conspirators. He shows himself to be more than willing to negotiate with Antony, contrary to the wishes of Cassius and permits him to address the mob. He certainly takes the precaution of himself addressing the mob first, but he then departs, leaving the field free for Antony. He does not foresee the harm which Cassius could and which Antony now does to the cause of the conspirators.

SPEECH OF BRUTUS TO THE MOB:-

•The manner in which Brutus addresses the Roman mob is like a philosopher and not like a politician.

• He tries to appeal to the minds of people not realizing that the mob has only feelings and emotions and no capacity to think.

•In his speech he says that Caesar was ambitious and that it was necessary to kill him in order to prevent him from becoming a dictator and ruling people as if they were his slaves.

•This agreement certainly influences the listeners deeply and emphatically approves the action of the conspirators whereas contrary to this Antony’s speech appealed to the hearts and emotions of the mob and Antony is able to neutralize completely the effect of Brutus’ speech.

TWO MAJOR BLUNDERS COMMITTED BY BRUTUS

One major blunder is that Brutus gives an exhaustive speech to the Roman mob which is beyond their level of understanding.

Another great blunder is committed by him in coming out of the market place immediately after completing his speech and leaving the field clear for Antony. Antony takes full advantage of this and turns the plans of the conspirators upside down.

Antony’s superb oration and its effect upon the mob.

•The speech which Antony delivers to the mob just after Brutus has finished his speech,is a superb specimen of oratory.This speech again shows how crafty he is as the only objective of the speech was to arouse the passions of the mob and to incite them to rebellion against the conspirators and he succeeds fully in this target.

•On the face value Antony seems to be just expressing his grief over Caesar’s death in front of the men. But the ultimate effect of the oration is that the mob feels enraged against the conspirators.

•In the speech Antony points out that Caesar was not at all ambitious that he had the welfare of common people at heart, that the conspirators and specially Brutus have proved ungrateful to Caesar and have committed a severe and a criminal act in murdering him.

•The mob is completely charged by this speech and declares its intentions to cause destruction to the conspirators and also to kill hem. Left alone , Antony feels glad at the result he has achieved and in a brief soliloquy he says that he has been able to set mischief afoot and that the mischief will now take its own course.

Antony’s speech gives an altogether different turn to the events. It is indeed a crucial speech and it marks a turning point in the play.

•Antony proves himself to be a very confident military commander and the victory which he got at the end is as much due to his efforts and initiative in the war as to Octavious Caesar.

Contrast between the funeral speeches of Brutus and Antony.

•Brutus’ speech to the mob is the speech of a philosopher who speaks in a logical manner whereas Antony’s speech is emotional and is intended to stir the feelings and passion of the listeners.
•Brutus’ speech is cold and intellectual. His speech appeals to the intelligence of the listeners and it fails because the listeners in this case are not intelligent enough.
•Brutus’ speech was argumentative and somewhat difficult to understand. His speech is undoubtedly an excellent specimen of reasoning. The logic behind his speech is absolutely clear but again the point remains that logic is something which the common people do not understand. But it does not mean that Brutus is speaking to people who are utterly ignorant. The point is that the people understand his reasoning only to a limited extent. They surrender to his logic only because they have a high opinion about him.

•Brutus fails to understand the mob:
Brutus tries to appeal to the people’s love of freedom. He tries to stir their hatred of tyranny but he does not understand that people at this point in Roman history are not very enlightened and they do not understand the talk about freedom and slavery.

Speech of Antony

The merits of Antony’s speech are:
•Antony knows the psychology of the mob and he appeals directly to this psychology. He does not talk of the principle of freedom or the evil of tyranny and slavery rather he speaks about the wounds which have been inflicted upon Caesar’s body.
•He speaks about the ingratitude of Brutus who was loved as a dear friend by Caesar.
•He talks of Caesar’s will in which he had made the roman mob an heir to his property.
•Antony makes use of several rhetoric devices in the course of his speech. He makes use of irony when he says again and again that Brutus is an honorable man and others too are honorable man.
•He exploits the sympathy of the mob by pointing to each wound on Caesar’s body by connecting it with one or other conspirator.
•Another important difference is that Brutus speaks to the mob in prose, whereas Antony speaks to mob in verse. Antony’s speech makes use not only of rhetorical but also of poetic devices. Therefore Antony imparts narrative quality to his speech and targets the feelings and passion of his listeners.