For the second year, French pupils who follow the most literary of the three streams of the French General Baccalauréat are now specifically taught literature in a foreign language, often English.
The idea is to instill knowledge and love of literature in English rather than specialise in technical terms, even though my pupils seemed to have fun with the rhyming scheme of the Petrarchan sonnet last week.
In December we did some work on The Hobbit, focusing on the poster above for Peter Jackson’s film, the 1938 New York Times book review and the first pages of the novel.
During the holiday, the pupils were asked to write several paragraphs to answer the following questions:
- Is Bilbo adventurous?
- To what extent can we say that Bilbo is typically English?
I found their answers to the latter both interesting and amusing so I thought I’d share a selection from different essays with you. Their ideas of what English people are supposed to be like are quite sweet.
We can say that Bilbo is typically English because he has got a very comfortable, cosy and warm house.
His house is a definition of what English houses look like.
Bilbo also likes wearing bright colours.
He also wears bright colours which match the image of the English who wear colourful and original clothes.
Bilbo smokes a pipe like English characters such as Sherlock Holmes.
We can say that Bilbo is typically English because he smokes a pipe. Indeed the most popular character who smoked a pipe was Sherlock Holmes, an English fictional character.
He is very fond of flowers and gardens like British people.
What is typically English is the fact that he has tea during the afternoon with visitors.
Bilbo invites Gandalf to come to tea which is a very typical thing in Britain. Tea time is at five in the afternoon and to invite someone to tea in Britain is typical.
Bilbo Baggins looks typically English because of his way of talking. In fact he uses the words ‘dear sir’ many times to talk to Gandalf, which is a British, especially English, expression which shows a mark of respect.
Bilbo is also English because he doesn’t speak much.
Bilbo, even if he doesn’t want any adventures, is and remains polite. He uses very good and clear language, like a gentleman; something which is typically English.
One of the important things is that Bilbo is very polite. He says: ‘Good morning’ many times to Gandalf. In France people are known to be a little rude whereas English people are always polite, even to strangers.
Moreover some stereotypes say that English people are reserved concerning conversations. For instance, they rarely ask questions to the person they are talking with. That’s what we see with Bilbo and Gandalf. Indeed, the hobbit didn’t ask for Gandalf’s name; he only said ‘Good morning’.
Bilbo is a discreet character who is well educated, this is the idea we have of English people.