Category Archives: English 30


Read “Someday” by Drew Hayden Taylor.

Read Alfred Fisher’s brief review of the play from the author’s site:


Page 393:

Write an essay exploring any one of the following statements from the review:
1. “A short, tight work of finely calculated tension and economy, SOMEDAY is an effective play that develops the inherent power of a desolating, all too well-known scenario in Canadian Native communities: the removal of
Native infants for the adoption trade in the 50s and 60s.”
2. “(Taylor) has mastered his craft and is able to construct drama in which word and expression, as well as the medium of time itself are selected and modelled; in which expression is not a function of description, but the product of a dynamic internal and exclusive cycle of language, gesture and response.”
3. “Taylor’s craft and feeling for theatre are of a depth and subtlety sufficient to contain as well as project a message of explosive power.”
4. “Tension generated by the grinding of nested contexts of Native and White perception as represented within the family is handled intelligently and [with] sensitivity as is the strip of comedy injected by the mother’s lottery win.”
5. “Given the relation of the author to the painful experience forming the central preoccupation of the work, it can also be credited as the gift that lends reflection of the dramatic potency of irony, wit, and taut containment, rather than the waste of bombast and encoded rage.”
6. “The critical event of reunification and trauma set within the context of snowy Reserve and the sardonically coloured presence of the Christmas season all contribute to a level of incongruity that lead to the definition of character in ways that are as subtle as they are telling.”
7. “SOMEDAY will be an especially powerful read for those who care about Canadian drama.”

“A feature of Canadian life that has been noted by writers from Susanna Moodie onward is the paradox of vast empty spaces and lack of privacy, with no defences against the prying or avaricious eye.” – Northrop Frye
“Families in Canadian fiction huddle together like sheep in a storm or chickens in a coop: miserable and crowded, but unwilling to leave because the alternative is seen as cold empty space.” – Margaret Atwood

Tip #1 – Thoughts and Ideas:
Tip #2 – Critical Questions:
Tip #3 – Structure:

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Journey of Discovery

Describe and discuss Taylor’s journey of discovery.

As you write your composition, remember to:

  • In your introduction, give the title and author of the text.
  • Give specific examples, reasons, and details from the text to explain Taylor’s journey of discovery.
  • Give any necessary plot information but avoid giving a plot summary.
  • Write in complete sentences.
  • Write coherent and well-developed paragraphs.
  • Use correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization

Use Microsoft Word in the iMac lab, no notes, no texts. 80 minutes.


Critical Response Rubric

Critical Response Rubric

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Themes in Canadian Literature

  1. We are myth destroyers.
  2. We are paradoxical – we search for our own identity.
  3. We celebrate victims.
  4. We celebrate individual suffering – defeated by rebellion.
  5. Truly authentic Canadian experience is shrouded in violence and paranoia.
  6. External world defines who we are.
  7. Fear of America, Europe, “Old World.”
  8. Interior Separation
  9. Garrison Mentality
  10. Exploration and Discovery: Quest
  11. Canada is the great asylum for victims the world over.
  12. Long periods of death followed by the rush to (re)produce.
  13. Authors explore three key relationships to determine who we are:
    1. our relationship with the environment
    2. our relationship with each other
    3. our relationship with the Divine.
  14. Societal barriers, systems of all kinds are pulled back to uncover briefly who we are.
  15. Immigrants could not control the land or nature – so they controlled the indians.

Find a few more from Conclusion to ‘A Literary History of Canada’:

A feature of Canadian life that has been noted by writers from Susanna Moodie onward is the paradox of vast empty spaces and lack of privacy, with no defences against the prying or avaricious eye. – Northrop Frye

Other nuggets from Frye:

  • Myth of the hero brought up in the forest retreat, awaiting the moment when his giant strength will-be fully grown and he can emerge into the world.
  • We feel constantly that all the energy has been absorbed in meeting a standard, a self-defeating enterprise because real standards can only be established, not met.
  • The sense of probing into the distance, of fixing the eyes on the skyline, is something that Canadian sensibility has inherited from the voyageurs.
  • Canadian novels associate nobility of character with a faraway look, or base their perorations on a long-range perspective.
  • The feeling of nomadic movement over great distances persists even into the age of the aeroplane, in a country where writers can hardly meet one other without a social organization that provides travel grants.
  • There is something Hebraic about the Canadian tendency to read its conquest of a promised land, its Maccabean victories of 1812, its struggle for the central fortress on the hill at Quebec, as oracles of a future.
  • Civilization in Canada, as elsewhere, has advanced geometrically across the country, throwing down the long parallel lines of the railways, dividing up the farm lands into chessboards of square-mile sections and concession-line roads. There is little adaptation to nature: in both architecture and arrangement, Canadian cities and villages express rather an arrogant abstraction, the conquest of nature by an intelligence that does not love it.
  • Small and isolated communities surrounded with a physical or psychological “frontier,” separated from one another and from their American and British cultural sources: communities that provide all that their members have in the way of distinctively human values, and that are compelled to feel a great respect for the law and order that holds them together, yet confronted with a huge, unthinking, menacing, and formidable physical setting — such communities are bound to develop what we may provisionally call a garrison mentality.
  • The real terror comes when the individual feels himself becoming an individual, pulling away from the group, losing the sense of driving power that the group gives him, aware of a conflict within himself far subtler than the struggle of morality against evil.
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ELA 30-1 Diploma Suggested Reading List


The following is a compilation of literary texts that students have discussed on diploma examinations. If you are not in a classroom setting or wish to broaden your range of choices, you may want to study one or more selections from each of the categories on this list. This list is not prescriptive. Choosing literature from this list does not guarantee success. You may choose from this list or from other appropriate literary sources, including film. You will find previous experience with a variety of texts valuable in your preparation for writing the Critical/Analytical Response to Literary Texts Assignment and essential to your preparation for the reading comprehension required of you in Part B of the diploma examination.

Many of the short stories, poems, and drama selections in the following list are available in anthologies. These and other helpful resources are available through many public and school libraries.

Short Stories
“A & P”–Updike
“The Boat”-MacLeod
“Boys and Girls”–Munro
“Dancing Bear”–Vanderhaege
“The Destructors”–Greene
“The Glass Roses”–Nowlan
“The Guest”–Camus
“Horses of the Night”–Laurence
“I Stand Here Ironing”–Olsen
“The Lost Salt Gift of Blood”–MacLeod
“Miss Brill”–Mansfield
“On the Rainy River”–O’Brien
“The Painted Door”–Ross
“Paul’s Case”–Cather
“The Rocking-Horse Winner”–Lawrence
“The Shining Houses”–Munro
“Sonny’s Blues”–Baldwin
“The Spaces Between Stars”–Kothari
“To Set Our House in Order”–Laurence
“Touching Bottom”–Strutt
“The Wall”–Sartre
“The Yellow Wallpaper”–Perkins

All My Sons–Miller
The Crucible–Miller
Death of a Salesman–Miller
A Doll’s House–Ibsen
The Drawer Boy–Healey
The Glass Menagerie–Williams
A Man for All Seasons–Bolt
Oedipus Rex–Sophocles
Man of La Mancha–Wasserman
A Raisin in the Sun–Hansberry
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead–Stoppard
A Streetcar Named Desire–Williams

Apollo 13–Lovell and Kluger
The Glass Castle–Walls
Into the Wild–Krakauer
Into Thin Air–Krakauer
A Long Way Gone–Beah
On Running Away–Keats
Tuesdays with Morrie–Albom
Oscar Peterson: The Will to Swing–Lees

Full–length Fiction
The Ash Garden–Bock
The Bean Trees–Kingsolver
The Cellist of Sarajevo–Galloway
Crime and Punishment–Dostoevsky
Crow Lake–Lawson
Fifth Business–Davies
The Grapes of Wrath–Steinbeck
Great Expectations–Dickens
The Great Gatsby–Fitzgerald
The Handmaid’s Tale–Atwood
Heart of Darkness–Conrad
The Hero’s Walk–Badami
The Kite Runner–Hosseini
House of the Spirits–Allende
The Lovely Bones–Sebold
Life of Pi–Martel
The Metamorphosis–Kafka
Monsignor Quixote–Greene
The Mosquito Coast–Theroux
My Name is Asher Lev–Potok
No Great Mischief–MacLeod
The Outsider–Camus
The Poisonwood Bible–Kingsolver
Pride and Prejudice–Austen
Snow Falling on Cedars–Guterson
The Stone Angel–Laurence
The Stone Carvers–Urquhart
Things Fall Apart–Achebe
Truth and Bright Water–King
The Wars–Findley
Wild Geese–Ostenso
Wuthering Heights–Brontë

My Last Dutchess–Browning
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock–Eliot

Shakespearean Plays
King Lear
The Tempest

Not all films studied in Grade 12 are effective choices for diploma examination purposes. Ensure that your choice is one that you have studied in detail and know well. The list below contains both original film presentations and adaptations of written literary works. If you are using the film version of a written text, indicate this choice clearly on the Initial Planning page.
American Beauty
A Beautiful Mind
Big Fish
Billy Elliot
Children of Men
Dead Poets Society
The Godfather
Gran Torino
Lars and the Real Girl
Life is Beautiful
Million Dollar Baby
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
The Pianist
Schindler’s List
The Shawshank Redemption
Stranger than Fiction
The Truman Show

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ELA 30 Midterm

ELA 30-1
Discuss the idea(s) developed by Elie Wiesel in Night about the role adversity plays in shaping an individual’s identity.
You must

  • carefully consider your controlling idea and how you will create a strong unifying effect in your response
  • develop your ideas and support them with appropriate, relevant, and meaningful examples from Night.

ELA 30-2
What is your opinion of the idea that the ability to face hardship is an essential human quality?
You must

  • discuss a character from Night, by Elie Wiesel. You may choose to discuss more than one character.
  • ensure the details you select support your opinion of the idea that the ability to face hardship is an essential human quality
  • reflect upon your own knowledge and/or experience
  • present your ideas in an organized discussion so that your ideas are clearly and effectively presented.

Carefully Consider the following in preparation …

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ELA 30 Writing Assignments: Modernism

First and second assignments:
30-1, 30-2, and 30-4 do the following:

Third assignment:
30-1 do the following:

30-2 do the following:

30-4 do the following:

Fourth assignment:
30-1, 30-2, and 30-4 do the following:

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Hamlet and the Human Condition

“Hamlet is a name; his speeches and sayings but the idle coinage of the poet’s brain. What then, are they not real? They are as real as our own thoughts. Their reality is in the reader’s mind. It is we who are Hamlet.” – William Hazlitt (1817)

Write an essay about what Hamlet (the play and/or the character) has to say about who we are, about the human condition.

Try the online essay planner for Hamlet at
Synthesize arguments from the notes and discussions topics from our own classes (any topic/concept/question/conundrum from Apollonian to Xenophobia).

… not selfishly–or not always selfishly, we are in search of our identity, the identity of our human condition.
– Malcolm Ross & John Stevens

The most profound discovery that we can make is our discovery of self. Our identity rests in the kind of people we are. To understand who we are and to develop fully as human beings, we must explore the nature of our humanness and the purpose of our lives. Who and what are we? What are the common human qualities and ideals we hold? What roles do other people (e.g., friends, family) play in our lives? What brings us joy, inspiration, and fulfillment? What doubts and fears do we have? By examining our lives and searching for answers to these and other questions, we can find meaning and fulfillment as human beings.

The life which is unexamined is not worth living.
– Plato

Critical Response Rubric

Critical Response Rubric

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Gender Equality

TED video: Sheryl Sandberg: COO, Facebook “Why we have too few women leaders”(2010)

“Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.

Ask yourself some of these focus questions on equality or some of these questions on feminist criticism specifically.

Identify Sheryl Sandberg’s core messages about equality. Think carefully.

Write about Elisa Allen. What would be the messages Sheryl Sandberg may have for Elisa?

Read more about Sheryl Sandberg on

Extra: Modern European Intellectual History: Abelard to Nietzsche.

“Sandberg’s message matters deeply: it has a shot at bringing about a cultural change that would improve the lives of all women.”
—Judith Warner, TIME

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Hamlet: After Act 1 and 2(English 30)

Major Response
(30-1)”I know not seems.” In I, ii, 76, Hamlet claims that his grief is real, not just a show. Make a chart of all the occasions in Act 1 and 2 when there is a difference between the way a character seems to be and the way he or she really is. Create your summary with the following headings:

  • The Character
  • The Situation
  • The Appearance
  • The Reality
  • The Reason for Hiding the Truth

Fill in your ideas about the characters’ behaviour and compare your summary with those of other students.

(30-2)Consider whether or not you think Polonius is a good father. Explain which of his actions were right and which were wrong. Create your own description of a good father. Write a letter to Polonius offering him advice about ways he could become a better parent.

Act 1&2 Considerations:

  1. Why did Marcellus and Bernardo ask Horatio to join them during their watch? What character traits does Horatio possess that would suggest they were right in asking him to join them?
  2. Imagine you were a talk show host, interviewing the newly crowned Claudius, King of Denmark. In a series of questions and answers, review the information provided in I,ii.
  3. Describe the Hamlet revealed in I,ii.
  4. Imagine you are an advice columnist and have received a question that deals with Laertes’ or Ophelia’s situation. Write the question and the response using exact phrases from Acts 1&2.
  5. Write a diary entry in which Ophelia or Laertes recounts some of the advice she or he has received and how she or he feels about the advice.
  6. In 1594, Thomas Nashe speculated why the devil often appeared in the likeliness of a parent or relative: “No other reason can be given of it but this, that in those shapes which he supposeth most familiar unto us, and that we are inclined to with a natural kind of love, we will sooner hearken to him than otherwise.” Hamlet’s friends offer him reasons to not trust the apparition of his father. Summarize these reasons. How does Hamlet respond and what does this show about his character?
  7. Knowing what he knows (in I,v), could Hamlet march into the castle and accuse Claudius of Murder? What would happen if Hamlet attempted to kill Claudius immediately? Write a short scene following Act 1 in which Hamlet accuses Claudius or attempts to kill.
  8. Imagine you are Reynaldo, in Paris, and conversing with a Dane about Laertes’ activities. Write a dialogue in which you follow Polonius’ instructions.
  9. Claudius, Gertrude, and Polonius all have differing opinions on the source of Hamlet’s madness. What are they?
  10. Read the First Player’s speech carefully. Outline what it has in common in terms of characters and situations with what has transpired in the Danish court.
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Hamlet: Getting Started

“We all sympathize with Hamlet, and that is understandable, because almost every one of us recognizes in the prince our own characteristics.” – Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) Russian novelist and playwright.

Hamlet raises many questions that you may recognize from your own life. Thinking about some of these issues will make your experience of the play more interesting and rewarding. Discuss one of the following questions in your blog. Write about any ideas you find interesting or thought-provoking.

  1. We all have procrastinated about something important that we had to do, sometimes disappointing other people and often disappointing ourselves. Why do we procrastinate?
  2. Most people have purposely “played the fool” at some time. Why do people do this? If a person for some reason plays the fool or pretends to be disturbed for a long time, do you think the person eventually can become truly disturbed?
  3. Isolation and loneliness are feelings common to most people at one time or another. Sometimes external circumstances create this situation, and sometimes people deliberately withdraw from those around them. What can friends or relatives do when someone has purposely withdrawn and chosen to be alone with his or her problems?
  4. Disillusion is a common experience of growing up. We find that people in the adult world whom we once idealized are less than ideal, and that situations we considered innocent are actually corrupt. How do young people encountering the “real world” for the first time handle these discoveries?
  5. In Shakespeare’s time, insane people were regarded as sources of entertainment. What is our society’s attitude toward mental illness?
  6. What is the difference between “taking revenge” and “getting justice”?
  7. Privacy is highly valued in our society. How would you feel if you found out you were “under surveillance” at school, at your job, at home, or among friends because of some change in your behaviour?
  8. What are you launching out to believe in your life? What are you seeking to know? How well are you using your mind in discovering the truth that you are here to know?

“We feel not only the virtues, but the weaknesses of Hamlet as our own.” – Henry MacKenzie (1745-1831), Scottish author

“Hamlet is the most baffling of the great plays. It is the tragedy of a man and an action continually baffled by wisdom. The man is too wise … The task set by the dead is a simple one. All tasks are simple to the simple-minded. To the delicate and complex mind so much of life is bound up with every act that any violent act involves not only a large personal sacrifice of ideal, but a tearing up of the roots of half the order of the world.” – John Masefield (1878 – 1967), British poet laureate

“Polonius is a man bred in courts, exercised in business, stored with observations, confident in his knowledge, proud of his eloquence, and declining into dotage.” – Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784), British essayist, biographer, and developer of the first English dictionary

“It has been stated that Hamlet is the only one of Shakespeare’s characters who could have written the plays of his creator.” – Betty Bealey (1913 -2008)

“Hamlet again is an example of the removed thinker who is cut off – better who has cut himself off – from human affairs, from life. Who ever thinks of Hamlet as possessing a body? Hamlet is pure mind, a dynamo of thought whirring in the void. He never stopped to put his hand in the garbage can. He is Prince of Idleness, an addict of thought and futile speculation.” – Henry Miller (1891 – 1980), American novelist

“Hamlet! Hamlet! When I think of his moving wild speech, in which resounds the groaning of the whole numbed universe, there breaks from my soul not one reproach, not one sigh … That soul is then so utterly oppressed by woe that it fears to grasp the woe entire, lest it lacerate itself.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821 – 1881), Russian novelist

“Hamlet’s will … is paralyzed. He seeks to move in one direction and is hauled in another. One moment he sinks into the abyss. The next, he rises above the clouds. His feet seek the ground, but find only air….” – Stephen Leacock (1869 – 1944) Canadian author and humorist

“Hamlet is loathsome and repugnant. The fact that he is eloquent has nothing to do with him being obnoxious. He’s an aging playboy. The only time he gets animated is when he bosses around the players, telling them how to do their business.” – Charles Marowitz (b. 1934), American director, playwright, and critic

“Despite the initial view we get of Hamlet’s abhorrence of deception, he tries to dupe everyone else in the play.” – Michael M. Cohen (b. 1943), British Shakespeare critic

“This is the story of a man who could not make up his mind.” – Sir Laurence Olivier (1907 – 1989), British actor/director

“Hamlet is like a sponge. If he is not played in a stylized or antiquated manner, he immediately soaks up the entire contemporary scene unto himself. It is the most unique of all plays that have ever been written, because of its porosity.” – Jan Kott (1914 – 2001), Polish political activist, critic and theoretician of the theatre

“Shakespeare wrote of Hamlet as if Hamlet he were; and having, in the first instance, imagined his hero excited to partial insanity by the disclosures of the ghost – he (the poet) felt that it was natural he should be impelled to exaggerate the insanity.” – Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849), American poet, short story writer, and novelist

“Hamlet, this tragedy of maniacs. this Royal Bedlam, in which every character is either crazy or criminal, in which feigned madness is added to real madness and in which the grave itself furnishes the stage with the skull of a fool ….” – François René de Chateaubriand (1768 – 1848), French poet and essayist

“Character … is destiny. But not the whole of our destiny. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, was speculative and irresolute, and we have a great tragedy in consequence. But if his father had lived to a good old age, and his uncle had died an early death, we can conceive Hamlet’s having married Ophelia, and got through life with a reputation of sanity, notwithstanding many soliloquies, and some moody sarcasms toward the fair daughter of Polonius, to say nothing of the frankest incivility to his father-in-law.” – George Eliot (1819 – 1880), British novelist

“The most maligned man in history, one whose memory I propose not only to defend but to extol, is the man who complained that Hamlet was a boring play full of quotations, thereby proving the soundness of his literary instinct. Honour to this anonymous critic, whose sensitive though unlettered brain. stunned into apathy as one well-known phrase after another came booming accross the footlights ….” – Dame Ethel Smyth (1958 – 1944), English composer and a leader of the women’s suffrage movement

“Hamlet is a great story. It’s got some great things in it. I mean there’s something like eight violent deaths, there’s murder, there’s adultery, there’s a ghost, a madwoman, poisoning, revenge, sword fights. It’s a pretty good story.” – Mel Gibson, American actor

Hamlet Etext

Hamlet Study Guide

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