What makes you, you? Is it your upbringing, does your family and the world around you shape you, or is it genetic, are you preprogrammed from the moment of conception? This question has been a topic of debate since the early 17th century. In her 1818 book, ‘Frankenstein’ Mary Shelly explores this idea of Nature Vs Nurture through the life of the “Creature”, the being created by Dr Frankestien. The Nature side of the argument is that our DNA and genotype will determine our personality and traits we will have, essentially that our characteristics are predetermined at the moment of conception. The nurture side, however, takes the exact opposite stance they argue that we are born a ‘blank slate’ and everything about our personality and the traits we display are based on our experiences and interacting with the world around us.

Nature over nurture focus around this simple idea, we are built from approximately 37 trillion individual cells and each of these cells has the exact same genetic code, so therefore they must determine who we are as they make up every part of us. In 1983 a study called the Minnesota Twin Family Study or MTFS for short was established to conduct research on pears of same-gendered twins both fraternal and identical, the results of this study strongly support the nature side of nature vs nurture. One particular experiment in the study involved photographing twins and comparing there stance and posture, it was found that identical twins had an almost identical stance and posture as each, whilst fraternal twins had varying postures and stances. Because all twins study for this section were raised together and only identical twins displayed similarities in stance and posture it supports the idea that the traits we display are based on our genetic code rather than our environment. The MTFS conducted research on a pair of identical twins Jim Springer and Jim Lewis, often referred to as the Jim twins, who were separated at birth. The MTSF researchers found that both men lived scarcely similar lives. They had both married and divorced a woman named Linda, both remarried a woman named Betty. Both have an interest in mechanical drawing and carpentry, same favourite and least favourite subjects at school, maths and english, they both drink and smoke the same brands and the same amounts. However, the most astonishing part of the research into the Jim twins is that they both have chronic headaches at the same time as one another. Seeing as both twins were raised independently in different households with different living conditions, beliefs and ideologies, the similarities between each of the twins must be because of their near-identical DNA.

The Nurture side of the debate is based on the idea that all humans are born ‘black slates’ with no predetermined characteristics or personality traits, and that all parts of our nature as an individual, form the way we look to the way we think, are determined with our interaction with the world and those around us who raise us. In 2008 the North Carolina State University conducted research on research on the blood of 46 different Moroccans who live in three distinctly different climates, desert, mountains, and coastal urban areas resulting in a wide range of different lifestyles but all have a very similar genetic makeup. They found that ⅓ of all their genes were differentially expressed depending on the where and how they lived their lives. As all of the Moroccans in this study have very similar genetics to one another but they express their genes differently depending on their climate it supports the idea that the world around us dictates how we develop and this makes sense why would somebody who has lived their whole life in the mountains need to have the same traits as someone who lives in a city, it makes sense that their body activate specific traits as needed. After further close research on the samples collected the North Carolina State University it was found that urban dwellers had dramatically more restoration based genes expressed than the mountain and desert-dwelling groups, and again this makes sense as the urban dwellers are going to come into more contact with pollution and other substances that will damage their respiration system, therefore, requiring the body to focus on maintaining and supporting the respiratory system. This supports the idea that nurture, the environment around us in particular, determines how we as human beings develop.

I believe there is no simple answer to the nature vs nurture debate, it is not one or the other. Both work in unison to develop us as individuals, a 1979 study conducted by Dr Thomas J. Bouchard Jr. showed that identical twins separated at birth have a greater than 50% chance to share the same personality, interests, and opinions as each other. From this, it is easy to conclude that similarities between twins must be due to the fact they share close to 100 % of their DNA and any difference in their personality is caused by their different living situation. If this wasn’t the case we wouldn’t be who we are, we would be carbon copies of those around us it is because of this combined effort that we ended up the wonderful, random, unique, human beings we are today.

Frankenstein’s Connection to John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding

During the 18th and 19th centuries, people began to question the existence of God. They began to accept the theory’s of the philosophers, the early scientists, over the previously widely accepted and virtually unchallenged believe in the church and there idea that everything- from your personality and how knowledgeable you are to the rising and setting of the sun- was a result of God and his plan. One of these philosophers was John Locke. I believe his theory, which he explains in his book ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’, partially influenced Mary Shelly in the writing of her 1818 book ‘Frankenstein’.

Mary Shelly was of a rear bread for the 18th and 19th centuries, she was an educated woman. She was also a Gothic Fiction writer. Gothic fiction is a genre meant to reveal ideas about human nature through intertwining facts and real scientific theories into their works of science fiction, which are carefully crafted to be bearly in the realm of impossibility. The results of this specific blend of fact and fiction are the reader learning about the best scientific theories and experiments of the time. During the time that Shelly was an active writer one of the hot topics among the intellectuals of the world was John Locke’s book ‘An Essay Concerning Human’. In his book, Locke explains his theory that all humans are born the same, as blank slates. He believes that our personality and knowledge are constructed out of our experiences, rather than being innate or built in by some great creator. Locke’s reasoning for this comes back to a central idea nobody knows anything about things that they have not experienced either first or second hand either your own experience or hearing/reading about someone else’s experience. Locke also believes that complex ideas are based on multiple simple ones. In her 1818 book, ‘Frankenstein’, Shelly explores some aspects of Locke’s theory, in particular, his theory that we are born with no knowledge at all, and that for us to develop complex ideas and understanding we must first have a foundation in multiple simple ideas.

Frankenstein Analysis

Key Moments for Victor (Frankenstein)

1) When he discovers the books and natural philosophy while on holiday with his family. Victor discovering these books results in him becoming obsessed with the objects these philosophers desired, the philosophers stone and eternal life. This lead him to want to create his own creature, which he will later call the monster.

“…I chanced to find a volume of the works of Cornelius Agrippa. I opened it with apathy; the theory which he attempts to demonstrate and the wonderful facts which he relates soon changed this feeling into enthusiasm. A new light seemed to dawn upon my mind, and bounding with joy, I communicated my discovery to my father. My father looked carelessly at the title page of my book and said, ‘Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash.’ If, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains to explain to me that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely exploded and that a modern system of science had been introduced… I should certainly have thrown Agrippa aside and… It is even possible that the train of my ideas would never have received the fatal impulse that led to my ruin.”

2) The death of Victor’s mother as he is about to leave for university cause Victor to have death on his mind, and gives him a push towards trying to create life.

“…I thought of returning to my friends and my native town, when an incident happened that protracted my stay (the death of his mother). One of the phenomena which had peculiarly attracted my attention was the structure of the human frame, and, indeed, any animal endued with life. Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed?”

3) The death of Elizabeth, Victor’s Wife and adopted sister/cousin (it’s complicated), at the hands of the creature he created causes victor to solely focus on its destruction, and ultimately results in his death.

“I rushed towards her and embraced her with ardour, but the deadly languor and coldness of the limbs told me that what I now held in my arms had ceased to be the Elizabeth whom I had loved and cherished. The murderous mark of the fiend’s grasp was on her neck, and the breath had ceased to issue from her lips… My present situation was one in which all voluntary thought was swallowed up and lost…I pursued him, and for many months this has been my task.”

The Creature

How He Learns

THe creature learns by observing his environment, mainly through either reading or watching and listening to the humans around him.

“ I found that these people possessed a method of communicating their experience and feelings to one another by articulate sounds… this book developed new and mightier scenes of action. I read of men concerned in public affairs, governing or massacring their species.”

How People React To The Creature

People usually react negatively towards the creature. They see his appearance and assume he is a demon or monster. This is unfair because people don’t give him a chance to prove that he is either good or bad and immediately have hostility towards him. Initially the creature doesn’t deserve the response he gets from people as he only has good intentions, but as he begins to be corrupted by the constant hate and negativity he start to murder people and does deserve the hate he gets from people.

What Turns Him ‘Bad’

1) When he tries to reveal himself to the cottagers and they reject him. This makes him leave the cottage, and run into a man who shoots him. This caused him to lose all hope that there are nice good humans.

“There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me…”

2) When he saves a girl from drowning and is shot by the girls caregiver, this reinforces his ideas that humans all hate him and are bad and cause he to ‘swear vengeance’.

“This was then the reward of my benevolence! I had saved a human being from destruction, and as a recompense I now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound which shattered the flesh and bone. The feelings of kindness and gentleness…gave place to hellish rage and gnashing of teeth. Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind.”

Minor Characters

Robert Walton

Robert Walton is the author of the transcript of victor’s life that we read in the book, he is an explore in the far north, artic, from england who finds Victor on the ice while his ship is stuck in the ice. He befriends Victor and learns his life story with he transcribes and is what we read, it’s like a book inside a book.

“…my friend… listen to my history…”

Robert Walton helps the reader understand how alone Victor was after his Wife and Henry died. This is because after only knowing Walter for a couple of days, and because they have remotely similar interest Victor suddenly with very little persuasion reveals his life story to this relative stranger showing that he is desperate for human connection.

Henry Clerval

Henry is Victor’s deceased best friend. They are childhood friends and both have a desire for knowledge they both travel to england where Henry dies. Victor thinks of him as one of the best people he has ever known.

“I once had a friend (Henry), the most noble of human creatures…”

Henry teaches the reader that the creature has completely lost the humanity that he earlier displayed in the text. This is because the monster kills Henry out of cold blood, somebody who was a flawless human being in the readers eyes.

Elizabeth Frankenstein

Elizabeth is Victor adopted sister/cousin. She and Victor have a very loving childhood together, and end up getting married. But Elizzabeth is murdered by the creature Victor creates on their wedding night. This causes Victor to devote his entire existence to destroying the monster.

“Never will I give up my search until he or I perish; and then with what ecstasy shall I join my Elizabeth…”

Elizabeth teaches the reader that Victor is not a bad person, even though he has been so cruel to the monster and let Justine die. Through Victors display of affection and caring towards Elizabeth we are reminded that Victor is a good person he has just made some bad decisions and lived through some tough things, like the death of his mother, his brother and his best friend since childhood.


The Fear of Not Being Someone or Something

Shelley presents the fear of not being someone or something in the novel Frankenstein through Victors unrelenting desire to accomplish something new in the first Volume. It consumes him because he believes that if he doesn’t do a first in the field of Science that he is a failure, and he is afraid of not accomplishing something big in his lifetime. Through this Shelley teaches us that  letting fear drive our decisions can have dire consequences, she teaches us this because Victor is driven to create the monster out of his fear of not accomplishing anything with his life, which in turn ends up destroying his life, killing those he loves and ultimately killing him.

The Fear of Being Rejected And Alone

Shelley presents the idea of the fear of rejection in the novel Frankenstein through Victor’s decision to not tell anyone about the monster to stop Justine’s execution. Victor has the opportunity to tell the townspeople of his home town that he created a Monster and that it had murdered his brother William, but he doesn’t because he fears being rejected by his family and his home town for creating such and an abomination, so he stays quiet and Justine is murdered. Through this Shelley teaches us that is is better to face our fears rather than avoid them, this is because if he came clean them the monster would have been hunted down and killed and Victor’s life wouldn’t have been destroyed by the creature.

The Fear of The Uncontrollable

Shelley presents the idea of the fear of the uncontrollable in the novel Frankenstein through Victor’s choice to delay his marriage for as long as possible to as he fears what that the monster will carry out it’s threat of being there on his wedding night, which is something he cannot control. Victor avoid it for as long as possible and eventually goes ahead with the wedding, which has the result he feared. Through this Shelley teaches us that if we fear the uncontrollable then there is nothing we can do and that it is better to face it head on, as if Victor had the wedding immediately he may have had enough time to escape before the monster found him and more importantly his wife.

1.4 Creative Writing

You stagger out of your house, ladened down with what seems to be the weight of the universe on your shoulders, but in reality is only a bag, skis and boots. “How does it always feel so much heavier than it really is?” you ponder as you move incrementally closer to the car. You sit patiently making your way to the skifield. Looking out the window you watch eyes unfocused as the countryside fly by in a disorienting, yet strangely entertaining blur of colours, blue there, green here, a dash of brown over there. Then, all of a sudden the blur of colours all become white. The journey is nearly at its end. The feeling of annoyance washes over you, you were enjoying your altered state of mind, but that annoyance is quickly replaced with excitement to get out and play on the mountain. As you slither your way out of the car and out onto the white blanket that is the snow-covered ground your senses are overwhelmed by the sharp, bone piercing, cold of a harsh gale. You hurriedly search the back seat for your jacket. Hastily you gather the rest of your belongings and make a dash for the cover, and warmth of the cafe, ready for an exciting day out skiing on the mountain. 

You wander out of your house, free from all the worries of the world, the clothes on your back and the shoes on your feet are the only things weighing you down, “What a perfect day” you think to yourself as you happily stroll your way to the car, wheeling your bike weightlessly beside you. Patiently sitting you make your way to what used to be a skifield, looking out the window you watch eyes unfocused as the countryside fly by in a disorienting, yet strangely entertaining blur of colours some green here, some blue here, a dash of gold over there. Then all of a sudden the blur of colour all becomes a golden earthy brown. Your journey has almost come to an end. The familiar feeling annoyance comes over you, you were enjoying the trance, but that annoyance is quickly replaced with excitement to go and play on the mountain. As you leap out of the car filled with excitement you remark to yourself, “This is easier without ski boots.” All your senses are overwhelmed by the gentle, warm, touch of the sun’s rays tickling your back. Tenderly you grab your bike and slowly, in rush at all, make your way towards the cafe, enjoying the sunshine, ready for an exciting day out biking on the mountain.

1.8 Significant Connections

As human beings, we have some kind of drive built into us that makes us want to explore, to conquer the world. It is what makes us different to all the other animal species out there, it is what made us leave Africa as primitive man, it drove us to sail around the world, but it is also part of our biggest flaw… we overestimate our ability, if we didn’t then we would never have had the courage or drive to explore the world. The texts ‘Into Thin Air’ written by Jon Krakauer, ‘Touching The Void’ written by Joe Simpson, ‘Into The Wild’ directed by Sean Penn, and ‘127 hours’ directed by Danny Boyle, all show human being displaying this flaw in our human nature. 

In the book ‘Into Thin Air’ by Jon Krakauer, we see the events leading up to during and after the 1996 disaster on Mount Everest.  This text conveys the idea that we overestimate our abilities.  For example, Lopsang Jangbu, one of the key climbing sherpas on the summit push, decided to short rope one of his clients Sandy Pittman, however, he quickly becomes worn out by hauling her extra wait up the hill. “…As she (Pittman) left Camp Four at the front of Fischer’s group, Lopsang abruptly pulled her aside and girth-hitched and bight of rope to the front of her climbing harness….” “…I looked down to see Lopsang hitched to Pittman by her three-foot safety rope. The Sherpa, huffing and puffing loudly, was hauling the rich New York celebrity up the steep slope like a horse pulling a plow…” “…One of the first people I passed when I started moving again was Scott Fischer’s sirdar, Lopsang Jangbu, kneeling in the snow over a pile of vomit.”  When Lopsang was asked later in a interview why, even though Pittman was fine under his own power he still choose to short rope Pittman he replied with, “because Scott wants all members to go to summit, and I am thinking Sandy will be weakest member, I am thinking she will be slow, so I will take her first.” This tells us that humans will overestimate their own ability and underestimate the ability of others. This is reaffirmed because Lopsangs job for the summit push was to be ahead of the group and set the ropes, but Lopsang overestimates his ability and believes he can accomplish this and short rope Pitman. We also understand that people are willing to take a greater risk if there is the possibility of reward or impressing someone they admire or love, we tell this because Lopsangs reason for short-roping Pittman was not because she was tired but because he wanted to impress Scott Fischer by helping one of his richest clients reach the top. 

The second time that we overestimate our ability is shown when Scott Fischer’s second in command Anatoli Boukreev guides on the mountain without bottled oxygen. “…Boukreev’s (the Russian guide) susceptibility to the cold was doubtless greatly exacerbated by the fact he wasn’t using bottled oxygen…he simply couldn’t stop to wait for slow clients… he raced down ahead of the group – which in fact had been his pattern throughout the entire expedition…’ This quote tells us as the reader that because of Anatoli overestimating his ability to climb without oxygen he was unable to assist his clients. This teaches us that humans will always put themselves before others because, as soon as Anatoli begins to feel the effects of not using oxygen he boosts down back to camp far ahead of his clients rather than helping at all, which he could have done by putting on an oxygen regulator. He didn’t do this because he was one of the highest regard mountain climbers and guides in the world meaning he wouldn’t resort to using oxygen as it would hurt his reputation. This teaches us that humans care more about their appearance rather than the people around them. It also teaches us that humans pride will corrupt their choices.

The third time that overestimating our ability is shown in ‘Into Thin Air’ is when Rob Hall doesn’t stick to his turn around time. “…Hall’s appointed turn-around time was two hours past…” This shows us that Hall expected to be able to turn his clients around even with the effect of high altitude on his brain, however, this does not happen. This teaches us that humans believe themselves capable of things that they are not, it also teaches us that emotions will override our logical brain this is because hall doesn’t turn his clients around because they are close to the summit, he choose not to have to face the disappointment and anger of his clients being turned around so close rather than their safety or even his own life. What this tells us about human nature is that we are very emotional beings and that we greatly desire the approval and satisfaction of other humans and dread anger or disappointment for other human beings and will do anything in our power to avoid it. It also teaches us that greed will cloud our judgment as part of Rob’s choice to keep his clients going was because it would draw in more clients and therefore more money if all members of his party summited.

In ‘Touching The Void’ written by Joe Simpson we follow the extraordinary story of two friends, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, turning to climb the notorious Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes when Joe falls and breaks his leg. ‘Touching The Void’ conveys the idea that we overestimate our ability. For example, Simon and Joe engage the help of a fellow English traveler to guard their camp during their summit attempt. “…To get up past, and up on to the glacier, we would have to negotiate a short, steep, ice cliff some 80 to 100 feet high. ‘I don’t think you should come any further,’ Simon Said. ‘We could get you up there, but not back again’…” This quote confirms that Richard lacks the skills necessary to continue up and then back down the mountain. This means that he is unable to assist Joe or Simon if something goes wrong on their Summit attempt. This teaches the reader that Simon and Joe are overconfident in their climbing ability and too proud to ask an experienced climber to stay at their camp in case of disaster. This was for the most part because in this area of mountaineering history if you wanted to regarded as a notable climber you had to undertake an epic, that was a hard risky dangerous expedition without the support of a team behind you, just you, your partner and the elements. Because Simon and Joe had not yet undertaken an epic they would have felt that getting a more experienced climber to accompany them would have been seen as a sign of weakness. What this teaches us about human nature is that humans seek the approval of others, and will do anything in their power to gain it, even risk losing their lives. This is Similar to ‘Into Thin Air’ because like ‘Touching The Void’ pride had a part to play in causing the disasters. In ‘Into Thin Air’ it is the pride of Anatoli Boukreev who refuses to use oxygen that leads to him leaving his clients to fend for themselves, in ‘Touching The Void’ it is the pride of Joe and Simon that stops them asking a more expected mountaineer to accompany them. This teaches us that humans are proud creatures who prefer to accomplish things on our own and refuse to see reason if our pride gets in the way.

The second time that the idea we overestimate our ability is shown in ‘Touching The Void’ is when Joe and Simon are about to engage in the final section of the accent. They spend the night in a snow cave and use up the last of their food and gas on dinner and breakfast. “‘How much gas have we got left?’ I asked. ‘One tin. Is that one empty?’ ” “…eaten the last freeze dry meal…” “..the gas was all used up..” They still continue on the next part of the climb which is the point where they cannot turn back down are committed to the summit push. Rather than turning around because they are out of supplies they are confident they can get up and down the mountain before dark. This teaches the reader that Simon and Joe are overconfident in their climbing ability because later they are forced to stay another night on the mountain. This teaches us that humans get focused on one goal and only focus on that, they will continue towards that goal no matter the cost, especially when they are so close, there is even a word for it in the climbing community ‘Summit Fever’, this is what happened to Simon and Joe it teaches the reader that humans will try to obtain their goals no matter the cost, especially when they are within ‘arms’ reach. This is Similar to ‘Into Thin Air’ because in both cases they climbing groups are very close to the summit when they should be turning around, and in both cases, they don’t, they push through and reach the summit where disaster strikes. In ‘Into Thin Air’ their opportunity to turn around is presented when they reach their turn around time, but they are so close to the summit that they continue anyway because they want people to reach the summit, as it will draw in more money for them, in ‘Touching The Void’ the opportunity to turn around is before their summit push, but they continue because they want to be recognized for completing their epic. What this teaches us about human nature is that we, as humans, will take great risks for reward. 

In ‘Into The Wild’ directed by Sean Penn we follow the story of Christopher McCandless breaking free of his parent’s control and working towards going bush in the wilds of Alaska. ‘Into The Wild’ conveys the idea that we overestimate our ability. For example, Chris (the protagonist) is overconfidence in his ability his abilities to scavenge off the environment. We see this through the following scene: Over the shoulder shot shows a ⅓ full bag of rice, we see the character draw a line at about a ⅙ of the bag full and then writes caution above it, then about 2 weeks later, in movie, we see an extreme close up of the bag and see that the level of the rice is about halfway to empty below the caution level. This scene teaches us that Criss is confident that he will be able to scavenge off the environment for the food he needs, and so he, therefore, use up his food reserves rather than leaving when they run low. What this teaches us about human nature is that we are optimistic by nature meaning that we assume that things will be alright in the end. This is similar to ‘Touching The Void’ because in both texts the protagonists run out of supplies, but continue anyway which eventually leads to them getting into life-threatening situations, which could have been avoided if they turned around when they ran out of supplies.

The second time that we see the idea we overestimate our abilities is when Chris is trying to identify edible plants. In this is shown in the following scene: Zoom shot to extreme close up of characters face up on characters face squinting at plant leaves and berries, he then stares down at a prop plant identification book and murmurs out loud  “What is this? What is this one? This is Viburnum Edule. Viburnum Edule.” We then see a follow to zoom upshot of the actor scurrying away to another shrub. He then this time takes a small glance at one of the leaves of the plant, looks down at his guidebook and says out loud in a confidant loud voice “Hedysarum Alpinum”, and then reads aloud from his book “Hedysarum Alpinum is wild potato root. Wild potato root.” We then see a follow shot of the actor quickly scurrying over to another plant a very quickly identifying it as “Epilobium angustifolium. Fireweed.” In a  loud confident voice, we see an extreme close up of the actor with a large smile on his face as he says it. In the next scene, we see a close up of the actor on the floor rocking back and forward his face scrunched, and clutching his stomach grunting in pain. We then see him reach for his guidebook from an over the shoulder shot, he flicks through the pages, we see to pages that look very similar the camera zooms in from over his shoulder to see that the page says the plant is inedible, then the page is flipped and the other page says edible, We then quickly cut between shots of him examining the plants closer and the reading the book, one of the cuts says “lateral veins” then it cuts to the next shot showing the plant as having lateral veins, then cuts to a section of the book saying “poisonous”. This evidence shows us that Chris has success identify one plant, so then overestimates his abilities to identify them, so rushes the identification process, and because he reexamines them correctly we know that if he had taken his time to identify them the first time he would have realized that they are poisonous. What this teaches us about human nature is that if we have one success we assume that we are good at the task, and therefore we don’t try as hard to do it the next time.  This is similar to ‘Into Thin Air’ because Rob Hall had summited Everest and a large number of other mountains with clients he was overconfident in his ability, so he let things, that he shouldn’t have, slide for example no turnaround time enforced. This is similar to ‘Into The Wild’ because Chris after having one success with his plant identification rushes his next attempts. This teaches us that humans confidence in their abilities will override their skepticism and doubt.

In ‘127 hours’ directed by Danny Boyle we follow the story of the young  Aron Ralston adventuring in Blue John Canyon Southern Utah, when he falls a traps his right arm between the side of the canyon and a bolder. The film ‘127 hours’ conveys the idea that we overestimate our ability. For example, Aron had the opportunity to tell people where he was going but didn’t because he was sure that he wouldn’t need help. In the middle of the movie, Aron begins to lose his sanity and has a fake talk  show with himself during the ‘talk show’ Aron says as the interviewer “is it true that despite, or maybe because, your such f#$%ing hard hero  you didn’t tell anyone where you were going.” Then as himself says “yeah that’s absolutely correct”.  This teaches us that Aron has the mindset that if he was confident he would get into trouble because he was experienced, but if he did, it would be a fun adventure to tell his friends and family about. What this teaches us about human nature is that humans relish a challenge and are almost proud of the fact that they got themselves into and then back out of it again. This is similar to ‘Into the Wild’ as Chris ( in ‘Into The Wild’) didn’t tell anyone exactly where he was going and when he would be back, the same as Aron, and in both cases, if they had told someone their plans then their disasters could have been avoided. This teaches us that if humans feel confident in their ability to complete a task it will override their skepticism, doubt, and fear.

Whatever part of the world you live in, whatever culture, religion, or background you have, you have this same drive our ancestors had, and in tow, the same flaw you overestimate your ability, it may only be small things that you overestimate your ability at, like maybe your ability to cook or it could be a something huge that is slowly pushing you towards your untimely demise. Whatever you overestimate it is essential you realize it, before it leads to a disaster as shown in the texts ‘Into Thin Air’ written by Jon Krakauer, ‘Touching The Void’ written by Joe Simpson, ‘Into The Wild’ directed by Sean Penn, and ‘127 hours’ directed by Danny Boyle. It may be one of our biggest flaws, but it is also part of our biggest strength, the drive to explore and grow both as individuals and as a species, however sometimes it would pay to be wise and ask yourself, ‘Am I 100% sure I want to, and can do this?’.

Touching The Void Essay

Describe at least one important technique used in the written text.
Explain how this technique helped you to understand one or more key ideas.


In “Touching The Void”  written by Joe Simpson; a story of survival in the Peruvian Andes after two young climbers, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, make the summit of Siula Grande and Joe breaks his leg; the language technique symbolism is key to understand the main elements of the story.  I will be discussing how the symbol of the rope helps us to understand how dependent humans are on each other, how the rope being cut shows Simon giving up on Joe, and how the burning of Joe’s clothes helps us understand Simons healing process.

Paragraph 1

At the start of the text, the rope represents interdependence and safety. During the beginning of the text both Joe and Simon rope together this is for safety as if one of them falls the other one can arrest their fall, this means that each member of the group relies on, or they are interdependent, each other. “One minute I was climbing, the next I was falling… I realized you had held my fall.” The symbol of the rope helps the reader to understand that climbers rely on each other to provide a level of safety. It shows the reader that we as humans rely on each other every day, sometimes for survival or sometimes for things as simple as a cup of coffee, but we can not live without the support of others.

Paragraph 2

The rope being cut helps the reader understand that Simon has given up on Joe. In the middle of the text during Simons attempt to lower Joe down the remainder of the mountain Joe is lowered off a cliff, Simon holds Joe for as long as he can but then without hesitation, he cuts the rope and allows Joe to fall to what Simon believes is his death. “His weight had gone from me.” The rope being cut helps the reader understand that Simon has given up on Joe because it shows the reader that Simon is willing to sacrifice Joe to save himself, which he would not be willing to do if he still was determined to save Joe. It teaches the reader that humans will always value their own lives over others.

Paragraph 3

Simon burning Joe’s clothes helps the reader to understand that Simon is ‘letting go’ of Joe. Nearing the end of the text the day after Simon has arrived at camp while he still believes Joe to be dead he and Richard, the third member of their group who remained at camp, burn Joes clothing and other items they aren’t going to give to his (Joes) parents. “I had to get things straight in my own mind before I could return… The healing process had started… I searched round the tent looking for the medicine box. It lay partly hidden by some of Joe’s clothes at the back of the tent. I threw it onto the grass outside and then sifted through his things, After fifteen minutes there was a pile of clothes and possessions lying in the sun by the medicines… I turned the pile of possessions and began sorting through them. I found his used film and zoom a lens in a plastic bag. It was a large bag so I gathered all the things I wanted to give to his parents and put them in as well… He fetched some petrol and we burnt the clothes in the river bed.”  This symbolizes Simons process of letting go or in other words coming to grips with his grief about Joe’s death. It is symbolized by the state of Joe’s clothes. Initially, they are ignored showing that Simon is in denial, the first stage of grief. Then Simon begins to move them out of the tent, symbolizing that his healing process is starting or coming his grief is coming out of the ‘tent’. Simon then begins to sort them into piles one of which is what he wants to give to Joe’s parents, this symbolizes that Simon has come to grips with facing Joes parents about their son’s death, he then burns the other pile symbolizing that his healing process is finished. This teaches us as the readers that ‘time heals all wounds’, that we as humans will eventually move through our problems and move on with our lives.


In “Touching The Void” written by Joe Simpson the language technique symbolism is key to helping the reader to understand key ideas. I have explained how it helps the reader to understand the key ideas of, the dependence each climber has on one another, how the bond between the climbers was broken and helps the reader to understand the healing process that is taking place for Simon.

Speech English 1.6A v3

Topic: Why paper stationary should be replaced with a computer.

Possible Parts: Paper production harmful to the environment, benefits of computers in the classroomhelping people with learning disability learn, learning could continue at home, students and teachers would not have to be in the same room to partake in class, with devices, tablets with stylise and interactive projector, smart tables, handwriting could still continue and as it is electronic it can be reused all most infinitely, ease of access to work,.

Chosen Points: Paper production harmful to the environment, benefits of computers in the classroom, helping people with learning disability learn.

Paper production harmful to the environment:  It is estimated that 40% of the waste in the U.S. is paper, 40% of the world’s commercially cut timber is used for the production of paper, a peace A4 paper requires 10 liters of water per sheet, When paper rots, it emits methane, a greenhouse gas,  approximately 30 tons of paper is produced each second. 24 trees to make one ton of paper.

Benefits of computers in the classroom:

A teacher’s class of students may not be able to board a plane and fly to Antarctica for a hands-on lesson, but they can view the area virtually, use Google Earth to survey the icy land, and speak with scientists in real time. Virtual field trips are an excellent learning tool and would be impossible without the use of classroom computers. Today, children can connect with experts in any field through computers and have a fuller, more rounded understanding of their lessons. Students can chat with an astronaut, author or physicist or view an event they otherwise would miss, simply by having access to computers in the classroom. – says softactivity.com

Computers grant access to the Internet, which hosts academic research and offers educational support. Historical records and social organizations are only a click away, providing a wealth of information for studying history and social studies. Students and teachers are now able to communicate with educators and other students anywhere in the world easily and instantly. This new phenomenon opens up opportunities for collaboration that did not previously exist. There are also many resources and communities online that are available to help students develop and improve mathematical and scientific understanding. Says computer expert Kelly Freidman from pc-wholesale.com

A research paper from Michigan University studying the effects of all student have there own device says that “Schools that provide each student with a laptop computer, as well as the appropriate support for both students and teachers, see significant improvement in academic achievement.”

Computers helping people with learning disability to learn: People with dyspraxia, reading issues, dyslexia, speech impairments, intellectual problems, communication issues.


Paper is extensively used by schools, but why? We could easily replace paper with technology, which has numerous benefits over paper. Today I am going to convince you that we need to remove paper from the education system and replace it with computers. I will be informing you about the impacts of producing and disposing of paper, the benefits of technology in the classroom.

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The production process of paper has a huge impact on the environment. Approximately 30 tons of paper is produced every second. To make that paper 720 trees were cut down. That was in only one second. Each school of around 100 students uses 250,000, a 1/4 of a million sheets of paper each year, and there are 300 million schools worldwide so that’s 75 trillion sheets of paper in schools alone. So if we remove paper from schools then that is 75 trillion sheets of paper saved, which, in turn, means saving trees of which in the Amazon rainforest alone, 2,000 trees are cut down each minute. This causes widespread deforestation which has two main harms, loss of habitat for animals and the reduction of greenhouse gases being removed from the atmosphere. National Geographic says “The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Eighty percent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes…Trees also play a critical role in absorbing the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming. Fewer forests means larger amounts of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere—and increased speed and severity of global warming.” By removing paper from schools we will save 75 trillion sheets of paper or 337,500,000 tons of paper per year, which intern saves 8.1 billion trees. Each tree process around 21 kg of greenhouses gases per year, so if schools remove paper from the education system then as a result 170,100,000 tons of greenhouse gasses will be removed from the atmosphere each year, as well as maintaining animal habitats.

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Computer’s and other devices being in the classroom have many benefits in the classroom. Not only do computers have learning benefits for normal everyday students, they also help students with learning disability. Firstly computers help students academic performance, a research paper from Michigan University studying the effects of all student having their own device in the classroom shows that quote “Schools that provide each student with a laptop computer, as well as the appropriate support for both students and teachers, see significant improvement in academic achievement.” Computers in the classroom also allow for learning in more specified areas, and for both students and teachers to speak with experts in the field’s they are studying. Computers also help people with learning disabilities. 10% of the population has a learning disability, that means that potentially 3 people in this room having a learning disability such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, or ADHD. Computers help students with all of these conditions to learn. For example, people with dyslexia usually have difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling, computers help with all of these. Computers allow for students to type there work which will be spell check as they type and computers come with software that allows text on the screen to be read aloud to the student, this allows for the students to work more enjoyable and efficient way, as there learning disability have been eliminated.


To sum up, paper is an outdated resource, especially in the education system. Today if have educated you on why the education system needs to replace paper with technology because of both academic benefits and the harms of paper production. If schools in New Zealand stopped using paper then we would save 625 million sheets of paper in schools each year, which means saving 67.5 million trees each year. This is a huge step in the right direction towards combating climate change, probably the biggest issue we as the human race have ever faced, and we can combat it while providing an increase in academic performance. So why aren’t we?


Chapter 9 – In The Far Distance

Part 1

During pages 132-140 the light represents Hope. It completely changes his view on his situation. In an instant, Joe’s mentality goes from scared, worn out and hopeless to optimistic, energized and excited. To Joe, it represents the possibility that he might live. It makes Joe immediately spring into action and try and get himself unstuck. “I was going to reach that sunbeam. I knew it then with absolute certainty.”

Part 2

During pages 141-142 the ‘voice’ represents Joe’s innermost conscience. It shows us that Joe is completely mentally worn out. It does this because it is the only that is controlling his action and telling him what to do, the rest of his brain is in turmoil. The ‘voice’ is Joe’s survival instinct the ‘voice’ is the only thing that keeps him functioning although it is at the most basic level. “A voice in my head told me that this was true, cutting through the jumble in my mind with its coldly rational sound. It was as if there were two minds within me arguing the toss. The voice was clean and sharp and commanding. It was always right, and I listened to it when it spoke and acted on its decisions. The other mind rambled out a disconnected series of images, and memories and hopes, which I attended to in a daydream state as I set about obeying the orders of the  of the voice.” “The voice told me exactly how to go about it, and I obeyed while my other mind jumped abstractedly from one idea to another.”

Chapter 8 – Silent Witness

“It was a lonely place to rest. In the huge chaos of the moraines, I had sat down to rest at the one spot where I would be reminded. We had sat in the same spot six days earlier. All our keen excitement, and the healthy strong feel in our bodies, had become an empty memory.”

The mood in this section is sad. This is because Simon is thinking back to before the accent of the mountain and feeling upset about the events that had happened during their climb. This is created by the use of ’empty memory’ this makes it feel that the feeling of happiness and excitement has been replaced because of the events that have taken place on the mountain. The tone of the writer is reflective. This is because Simon is reflecting on the events that happened before the climb.

“If I hadn’t cut the rope I would have certainly died. Looking at the cliff, I knew there would be no surviving such a fall. Yet, having saved myself, I was now going to return home and tell people a story that a few would ever believe. No one cuts the rope! It could never be that bad! Why didn’t you do this, or try that? I could hear the questions, and see the doubts in the eyes even of those who accepted my story. It was bizarre, and it was cruel. I had been on to a loser from the moment he broke his leg, and nothing could have changed it.”

The mood in this section is worried. This is because Simon is going to have to return home and tell people about the cutting of the rope and he is worried about how they will respond. The tone of the writer is angry. This is because Simon is angry about how he tried his hardest to get Joe off the mountain and managed to save himself  but he is going to return home and be criticized.


Chapter 7 – Shadows In The Ice

Part 1

Joe use’s contrast during this section to portray that his mind is constantly chopping, changing and jumping all over the place. It shows us that Joe has accepted his fate and that as his circumstances change so does his acceptance. For example, earlier in the text Joe say’s that “I accepted that I was to die. There was no alternative.”, but as the chapter progresses his viewpoint changes “Simon…I couldn’t conceive of him dead, not now, not after I’ve survived.”.  Contrast is also used to show how conflicted and confused Joe was before, during, and after the rope was cut. It shows is that Joe was not thinking straight as his perception of the events and his surroundings are changing all most constantly. When Joe awakes at the bottom of the crevasse he is excited and happy “Alive! … and I laughed again, a real happy laugh.” but Joe quickly becomes distressed “I stopped laughing abruptly. My chest tightened, and the tension took over me.”

Part 2

When Joe pulls on the rope and it comes down cut it adversely affects Joe’s mental state. Immediately after Joe pulled down the rope he proceeded to cry and had a sort of mental break down. “I cried in bursts, and between them listened to the childlike sounds fade beneath me, then cried again.” The rope being cut also separated Joe and Simon’s fate it left them to their own means and each with their own obstacles to overcome. This sort of kick starts Joe into trying to take his life into his own hands.