The Merchant of Venice –Explanation — ICSE

The Merchant of Venice

 

Act 1, Scene 1

Antonio, a wealthy merchant of Venice, made his riches through marine trade. On one occasion, he stands with his two friends, Salarino and Solanio. Antonio feels gloomy and somewhat dejected. He does not know why. This intrigues him and his two friends.
Salanrino suggests that his merchant friend could possibly be worried about his overdue ships, still at sea. To calm his nerves, Salarino says some comforting words. He says that the large ships must be safe and smoothly sailing back home. They are too big to be sunk by the wickedness of the sea. The flotilla of the giant ships tower over the smaller cargo boats around them, and would complete their voyage smoothly.
Solanio empathises with Antonio with more plausible words. He says any merchant facing similar uncertainties would brood endlessly, trying to figure out the direction of the wind with a blade of grass, and delving into the marine maps to guess how the vessels could be, and the ports and waterways en route. Nonetheless, Solanio opined that any delay in return of ships would rob the owner of his peace of mind.
Salarino became serious. Leaving his carefree attitude, he began to understand why Antonio had become so filled with angst. He narrated how blowing his cup of hot soup reminded him of the ferocity of a raging storm. He also told how the heap of sand at the bottom of his hour glass brought him scenes of his own wrecked ships lying in ruins in the sea beach. Even the stone building of the church sank his heart in fear as it brought him memories of treacherous rocks that imperil floating crafts. A ship wreck instantly reduces its owner to penury when the precious cargo such as that of spices and silk are devoured by the tall angry waves, giving no chance of salvage.  He now understands why Antonio is so pensive and perplexed.
Antanio begs to differ. He says the risk of the vessels does not worry him as he has other assets to pre-empt a sudden descent to bankruptcy.
Solanio butts in with his theory. He says his friend is sad because he pines for love. Antanio promptly rebuts Solanio’s contention, and pleads to be left alone.
Solanio can’t remain mum. He urges Antonio to cheer up so as to dispel the gloom from his mind. He asks Antonio to revel and make merry.
Perhaps, to vent his disappointment with Antanio’s continuing sulkiness, Solanio remarked that some people are innately jovial where as a few others (meaning Antanio) are, by nature, grumpy.
Three of Antanio’s other friends, Bassanio, Lorenzo, and Gratanio arrive in the scene.  Solanio hails the trio in and leaves. Salarino stays back to take part in the discussion.
Salarino prepares to leave, but is held back. Antanio is ready to let him leave to attend to his business.
Bassanio is in upbeat mood. He asks both Salarino and Solanio to fix a time so that they all can have some good time.
Salarino offers to join the party.
Lorenzo invites all for dinner that night, as he too starts to leave.
Gratiano too finds Antonio unusually reserved and de-spirited. He advises Antonio to take things easy and pull himself up. Antonio’s reticence confounds him. He pleads with Antonio not to let his brooding tell upon his health and wellbeing.
Antonio becomes philosophical. He says that perhaps, melancholy is written into his role in this world, where he, like others, plays an assigned role.
Gratiano erupts into a bout of boisterous boast. He says, given a choice, he would indulge in anything joyful, and splurge in wines imperilling his liver, rather than burn away like a lamp in a dark remote corner. He beseeches his dear friend Antonio to reclaim his jovial airs, and waste away like a lifeless statue. A sullen, dry demeanour does no good, pleads Antonio. His love and concern for Antonio are apparent from the way he begs him to come out of the morass. Gratiano pours his scorn over the stern and vainglorious persons who think they only have all the wisdom in the world. When these dour persons begin to speak, they demand everyone’s, even a nearby dog’s undivided attention. Gratiano asserts that these tight-lipped persons are in fact ignorant. If ever, they speak, their shallow words attracts derision and mocking. Before leaving with Lorenzo, Gratiano makes a final plea to his dear friend Antanio to cast aside his gloom and regain his jest for a cheerful life.
Lerenzo leaves too promising to be there for the dinner. Light-heartedly, he adds that he would choose to be silent like the ‘wise men’ of Gratiano. He jokes that in earlier occasions Gratiano had seldom allowed him to talk as he wished.

Gratiano was ready with his riposte. He said that if Lorenzo lives with him for two years, he would lose his power of speech.

Antonio bids his friends goodbye assuring them that he would be more forthcoming from now on.
Gratiano adds to the humour saying that cooked ox tongues and those of the old maids need to be silent, not of any humans present.
Gratiano and Lorenzo exit.
Antonio is plunged in self doubt. He asks Bassanio if Gratiano is right in his contention.
Bassanio is going through a bad patch financially, chiefly because he spends more than he earns. Yet his dire financial straits do not affect his exterior. Bassanio intends make his own case for Antonio to emulate. Bassanio concedes that he does not disown his debts, but wants to redeem them and restore his standing in society. Bassanio reiterates his desire to liquidate the loan he has taken from Antonio. He hints that he has some plan to carry out.
Antanio, as always, lends a sympathetic ear to Bassanio’s desires. He says that he will assist in catty it to fruition anyhow.  In his good-natured way, Antonio demands to know what help Bassanio wants.
Bassanio speaks about the beautiful wealthy lady of Belmont he is enamoured of. She has got huge property as inheritance, and has captivated him. She is Portia. Bassanio has met her before and assumes that she loves him too. Portia is a paragon of beauty. No wonder, she has no dearth of suitors who hail from far and wide. To match these wealthy men, Bassanio has to flaunt his wealth, but he has little to show.
Antonio rues that all his wealth is tied up in his ships that are not yet ashore. Nevertheless, he offers to use his creditworthiness to avail loan for use by Bassanio.
——————–End of Scene 1————————
Act 1, Scene 2 …
Portia, the most cherished woman from Belmont, feels bored and insipid. She confides to her maid Nerissa about it.
Nerissa has little to offer to help her mistress Nerissa’s spirits. Rather vaguely, she tells Nerissa that people with too little or too much wealth suffer too. She advises a middle path. In practice, the advice means nothing.
Portia complements her rather casually.
Portia moans saying that it is not easy to do good deeds as people flounder while attempting it. She candidly says that it’s easier to pontificate about righteous living to twenty people than to be the one person out of twenty who actually practices what one preaches. The mind must listen to the conscience. Hot-headedness makes doing good things difficult. She is tired of seeking out her husband. How would she ‘choose’ her husband, Portia wonders. She laments that she can’t choose whom she likes, or refuse others. She is bound by her father’s wishes. She expresses her despair at her predicament.  Nerissa listens.
Quite a few royal suitors have descended on Belmont to see if they could win Portia’s hand. She is confused and a bit wary. Nerissa breaks a secret about Portia’s father’s intentions. While in his death bed, he had see a vision about the choosing of a husband for his daughter.
He had desired that there would be three boxes – of gold, silver and red. The would-be husband should choose the right box that holds the message of Portia’s choice.
After divulging this, Nerissa wanted to know if any of the princely figures indeed measured up to Portia’s expectations.
Portia asks Nerissa to go through the list of sitors. She would then narrate her impression about each of them. From this, Nerissa could surmise who meets Portia’s approval.
Nerissa takes the name of the prince from Naples.
Portia ridicules him saying that this man is a horse enthusiast. He boasts about his ability to nail a horse alone. Portia discards the case calling the prince a ‘blacksmith’.
Nerissa then goes to Count Palatine.
Portia sees him as a self-centered, ego-filled man. He is so dour that a funny story can not make him smile. So humourless young man would become a moron in old age, fears Portia. Portia turns down the case vehemently.
Nerissa then proceeds to the French lord, Monsieur le Bon.

 

 

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ICSE and CBSE creative writing exercises Model questions and answers

Write a short story with the following beginnings. [Don’t spend more than 20 minutes on each.]
a. A few miles down a rutted dirt road, and many more miles from the nearest town, a small farmhouse stands surrounded by dense green bush. … Continue
b. There was a boom, and suddenly, all hell broke loose. … Continue

[Answers will be posted after a week.]

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Digital Divide — What is it?

Digital Divide

Computers, Smartphones, Laptops, Broadbad internet access have made heavy inroads into our daily lives. As a result, communication, data access, funds transfer and many such educational, economic and business-related functions have become instant, efficient, and extremely cheap. As a result, farming, manufacturing, trade, education, scientific research, education etc. have undergone very radical transformation in large parts of the world. Ease of internet access has become the new yardstick of the development of a village, or town.
Sadly, large parts of the world, including India, have not yet been embraced by the talisman of the internet. As a result, life remains slow, and primitive in these areas.
The gulf that divides the internet-savvy communities from the internet-deprived ones is called the ‘Digital Divide’. Happily, the gulf is shrinking as more and more areas are coming under the internet and the speed of broadband increases making use of computer-aided devices more gainful.
India still has villages in the rural hinterlands that are considered digitally ‘dark’. Let’s hope PM Modi’s digital push bears fruit fast.

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Yellow PilloW

Yellow Pillow

Author … Rhea Kanuparthy, a Class 6 student in United States

The glass shelf housing me was a formidable foe, as I searched upwards for anything different around me. This was my normal routine, a ritual I performed religiously. I have been here for a long time, so long that my hopes to ever find a loving friend were almost diminished to the point of nonexistence. I waited as the joyful cheer of children faded away, waited as the lights blinked off and as the eternal darkness approached me only to be broken again in mere hours. Every time that I heard a child walk by, ignoring me and my kin, I looked down self-consciously at my fuzzy, yellow skin and soft figure. I wondered what monsters they saw in me, what made me so repulsive to them. My self esteem degraded every time they left me there. What I didn’t know was that that was all about to change. Two gentle but calloused hands reached down. Excitement flared inside me. Would they take me home? The hands enveloped me in a way that radiated pure love, not towards me but towards the child that they were thinking about. I was finally going to have a family.

The road was blocked by a strange white wall, nothing like the shelf that was no longer my home. It was shiny and had weird shapes on it. “Silverspoon”, it wrote out in curly lettering. The drive was bouncy and hard, but even the turmoil that swirled in my stomach could not detract from the pure elation that bubbled from underneath the warm fabric that held me together. I moved out of a strange machine that the human called a car to a room with the most jovial sounds I have ever heard. I was set down, and the rustling of that strange white wall was deafening. Two tender hands with skin much softer than the last hands pulled me out and cuddled with me with a passion that I had never felt before. It was love and I was finally home.

Everyday those same hands held me , played with me and showed me more attention than everyone else combined. I learned that her name was Rhea and those other hands were her grandmother’s. Rhea couldn’t leave me and her parents were forced to get that extra seat for me or to make sure we are together no matter what. When she learned about birthdays, she even gave me one! Her mother didn’t like us taking over Mother’s Day for that too much. One time, they even gave me a cake. Rhea became the best and only friend I had, her black, curly hair entwined with love and affection. She continued to love me forever, but it was never the same.

She started something called school, someplace where you learn. At first, I was excited for her to able to do new things and she made sure that her mother took care of me. She still held me with that same love and affection, but other things were always on her mind. She never plays with me in the same way and her mother finally got her to “ understand” that Mother’s Day wasn’t an appropriate time to celebrate my birthday, though Rhea does anyway. I know that I am her best friend still, she has said that several times, but I still miss the way things used to be. Though things have changed and no doubt will change again, she still holds me close both in her sleep and in her heart. I got my wish of a loving family and I hope I stay in their wonderful embrace forever. If you ever see her after you hear this, tell her that I miss her and love her. Also, tell her that I am waiting for her on the bed and I hope she never lets me go.

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Syria Conflict through a Class 7 student’s eyes

The Syrian Conundrum

Author .. Vineet Karlapalem, Class 7, Vidyashilp Academy, Bengaluru

Section 1… Arab Spring
Arab Spring was a revolutionary wave of mass protests that rocked the Middle East starting 2010. These protests took place in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia and finally engulfed Syria. This caused unprecedented instability in Libya, Yemen, and Egypt. President Assad didn’t flee like his counterparts in other Arab states. Instead, he stayed out and decided to fight back. Syrian government forces under him intervened with full force, and this has caused the single largest armed conflict in the world since the Vietnam War. The Syrian government under Bashar-al-Assad barrel-bombed major cities to scare civilians away from protesting. But, all this did was to show the callousness the Syrian government had towards its citizens. This started a three-way civil war between the Syrian government forces, the rebel groups like the Free Syrian Army, and the Kurds, who are fighting for their autonomous region between Iraq and Syria.

 

Section 2… Islamic State of Syria and Iraq
ISIS came to the world’s attention in June of 2014 when it overran the Iraqi city of Mosul, and then moved fast westwards to Syria, taking control of another major city Al-Raqqa, that became their de-facto capital. ISIS grew out of what was before, Al-Qaeda in Iraq. This organization was formed by extremist Sunni militants after the U.S-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 2011, the group joined the rebellion against President Bashar-al-Assad in Syria where it found a safe haven and easy access to weapons. In 2013, it started capturing territory, and changed its name to ISIS. In 2014, ISIS captured huge tracts of land in north-western Iraq, and proclaimed the creation of a world-wide Caliphate. After the group started enslaving members of the Yezidi religious group, the U.S. was stirred into action and created a multi-national coalition to launch airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Mosul and al-Raqqa. The coalition has launched a battle to reclaim Mosul. The campaign appears to be going really well forcing ISIS fighters to flee to al-Raqqa in Syria.

 

Section 3… Aleppo
Aleppo is an ancient metropolis, and the second oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, after Damascus, another Syrian city. It was Syria’s largest city with a population of 2 million 132 thousand, but this was all before the Arab Spring and the beginning of the Syrian Civil War. Now, it is a major site of conflict between Bashar-al-Assad’s government and anti-government rebels. It has now become the most important front in the Syrian Civil War, and will decide the fate of the government, if reclaimed or lost.

 

Section 4… Conclusion
The Syrian Civil War is a long, brutal war, and is dragging on very painfully. After four years, there are four different sides, with each side not having a decisive advantage over the other. It is a disaster, with no end in sight.

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Of Adversity by Bacon — explanation

Of Adversity

IT WAS an high speech of Seneca (after the manner of the Stoics), that the good things, which belong to prosperity, are to be wished; but the good things, that belong to adversity, are to be admired.

A word about Seneca .. Seneca (Lucius Annaeus Seneca,also known as Seneca the Younger) was an erudite person with profound wisdom. He was an intellectual of renown – a writer, philosopher and statesman, all rolled intone. From AD 54 to AD 62, he was the advisor to Emperor Nero. He sang the praise of Stoicism and counselled people to face sorrow and suffering with courage and forbearance.
Meaning … In a memorable speech, Seneca expatiate that all good things like happiness, wealth etc. In one’s fate must be joyfully and gratefully received and enjoyed. At the same time, sorrows and sufferings dispensed by fate should also be accepted gracefully and with equanimity.

Bona rerum secundarum optabilia; adversarum mirabilia.
Meaning .. This Latin sentence literally means, “Goods of success are desirable; opposing wonderful”. More or less, it is a reiteration of what has been explained above – Humans must learn to treat grief and joy equally.

Certainly if miracles be the command over nature, they appear most in adversity. It is yet a higher speech of his, than the other (much too high for a heathen), It is true greatness, to have in one the frailty of a man, and the security of a God.

Meaning …. During times of adversity, miracles do happen to completely neutralize the agony and angst caused by the mishap. It is God’s hand that brings the suffering, and it is His hand that brings the deliverance from it. Humans are powerless before Him.

Vere magnum habere fragilitatem hominis, securitatem Dei.

Meaning … When translated into English, this Latin sentence means, “The frailty of man is truly great to have the security of God.” So, the frail, powerless man must seek refuge in God.

This would have done better in poesy, where transcendences are more allowed. And the poets indeed have been busy with it; for it is in effect the thing, which figured in that strange fiction of the ancient poets, which seemeth not to be without mystery; nay, and to have some approach to the state of a Christian; that Hercules, when he went to unbind Prometheus (by whom human nature is represented), sailed the length of the great ocean, in an earthen pot or pitcher; lively describing Christian resolution, that saileth in the frail bark of the flesh, through the waves of the world.

Meaning ….. Miracles find place in poetry rather frequently. Poets resort to miracles to add charm, intrigue and suspense to their writings.
Prometheus was a Titan. But he had great compassion for humans. He gave the mortals n the gift of Fire and the ability to heal. On one occasion, Hera wickedly stole the Eternal Torch from Prometheus. Without Fire, the entire human race was put to great peril. Unfortunately, in this time of distress, Prometheus lay frozen in his abode. He was immobilized and still. Luckily, Hercules discovered him after sailing through the turbulent ocean seated inside an earthen pot, and in a great noble Christian act, restored the torch to its rightful place.
Bacon alludes to this Greek mythological episode to underscore the virtue of stoicism and fortitude.

But to speak in a mean. The virtue of prosperity, is temperance; the virtue of adversity, is fortitude; which in morals is the more heroical virtue. Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New; which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God’s favor.

Meaning … Prosperity and adversity come hand in hand in life. Prosperity must bring with it an urge to abstain from indulgence. In the same way, adversity should foster fortitude.
Both are the gifts of God: Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament, and adversity is that of the New Testament. Adversity is the greater blessing, and is a manifestation God’s benign nature.

Yet even in the Old Testament, if you listen to David’s harp, you shall hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the Holy Ghost hath labored more in describing the afflictions of Job, than the felicities of Solomon.

Meaning … Even the Old Testament has umpteen descriptions of sorrow and happiness going together. There are laments pertaining to death and burial. There are, at the same time, songs of joy and celebration.
Job was a God-fearing person of high moral. Yet, he suffered a very long period of suffering and distress as a result of the curse of Satan. Job and his friends endured the pain with great patience and beseeched God for respite. Finally, God relented and Job was freed from his afflictions.
In the Bible, the Holy Ghost has described Hob’s story in much greater detail, than it has done to felicitate Solomon.

Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes. We see in needle-works and embroideries, it is more pleasing to have a lively work, upon a sad and solemn ground, than to have a dark and melancholy work, upon a lightsome ground: judge therefore of the pleasure of the heart, by the pleasure of the eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odors, most fragrant when they are incensed, or crushed: for prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue.

Meaning …. Finally, Bacon says that prosperity is not always full of joy and gaiety. In the same vein, adversity is not always barren and hopeless. In embroidery, a lively design juxtaposed on a dull and staid background looks better than a sedate pattern in the midst of a lively background.
So, one must discern between what pleases the heart and what feasts the eyes. A source of aroma or scent exudes its goodness when it is crushed. In the same way, in the midst of vice, prosperity (genuine wholesome joy) feels better. Adversity, likewise helps us to discover virtue.
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Of Revenge by Francis Bacon — Explanation

Of Revenge
by Francis Bacon

Revenge is a kind of wild justice; which the more man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.
Meaning .. The urge to avenge the humiliations, injustices and wrongs heaped on us by others gives us some pleasure, relief and satisfaction. Such tendency to pay back our tormentors in their own coins is so pervasive and universal. However, such a toxic and in-born tendency must be curbed through legal means.

For as for the first wrong, it doth but offend the law; but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law out of office.

Meaning .. When the tormentor inflicts harm on his subject, he breaks the law, as no member of the civilized society is permitted to take law into his hand and cause physical or mental harm to a fellow human. In the same vein, the person who has been wronged, can’t hit back at his adversary. Logically, he should seek legal recourse to the injustice meted out to him, but if he impulsively harms the enemy, he breaks the law himself. Such acts of instant retribution is not permitted under law.
Certainly, in taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior; for it is a prince’s part to pardon.
Meaning …. Avenging a wrong, or a defeat or a humiliation lets the wronged person to draw level with his foe, and derive satisfaction. However, he chooses to forgive and forget, and does not allow the perpetrator’s evil act besmirch his self, he emerges as the true victor. Pardoning the evil-doer is not a sign of weakness or timidity. It takes great courage, moral strength, and magnanimity of mind to pardon the sinner. Such ability to ignore the scars left by the wrong-doer needs a big heart and a sagacious soul. Ordinary humans can not bring themselves to rise to the occasion and let the quality of pardon come to the fore.
It is, therefore, seen that a person in exalted position such as a prince is given the authority to grant royal pardons to sinners. A prince, because of his status and clout is seldom harmed or belittled. So, he is not generally gripped by anger against commoners. This allows him to pardon the evil-doers.

And Solomon, I am sure, saith, “It is the glory of a man to pass by an offence.” That which is past is gone, and irrevocable; and wise men have enough to do with things present and to come; therefore they do but trifle with themselves, that labor in past matters.

Meaning … Prophet Solomon had proclaimed, “It is the glory of a man to pass by an offence.”. This means that a person who ignores the hurt and humiliation caused to him by others can lay claim to great glory and adulation.
An evil, once done, becomes history. It can not be reversed. There is little prudency in grumbling and burning in the bitterness left behind. Wise and conscientious people choose to think of works at hand and the tasks in the future. They realize the folly of crying over spilt milk. No doubt, they discern that whining over past injustices is futile, and unproductive. Worrying over the unpleasant past is an unnecessary and ruinous exercise.

There is no man doth a wrong for the wrong’s sake; but thereby to purchase himself profit, or pleasure, or honor, or the like. Therefore why should I be angry with a man for loving himself better than me? And if any man should do wrong merely out of ill-nature, why, yet it is but like the thorn or briar, which prick and scratch, because they can do no other.

Meaning … Seldom does a man indulge in a wicked or immoral act just for the heck of it. What motivates him to do an abominable act can be just anything – the lure of profit, getting some pleasure, get some un-deserved honour, or any such urge. In the process, he stands to gain some material benefit or some mental pleasure.
With great equanimity, and rare sense of accommodation, Bacon asks himself why he should be annoyed if someone does something to amuse himself. In instances where a person does something that is really very upsetting, we must pause and reali8ze that he has been cursed to have a mind that loves sadistic pleasure. Such people are condemned to miserable existence. In a way they deserve to be pitied and forgiven, because, like a thorn, they can’t do anything other than pricking others and inflicting pain. An ill-natured man is like a thorn condemned to live like a mischief-maker and a nuisance in society. This is enough punishment for him.

The most tolerable sort of revenge is for those wrongs which there is no law to remedy; but then let a man take heed the revenge be such as there is no law to punish; else a man’s enemy is still before hand, and it is two for one. Some, when they take revenge, are desirous the party should know whence it cometh. This is the more generous.

Meaning … Bacon now proceeds to make certain concessions for the revenge seeker. He feels, there are can be certain loathsome and irritable acts for which there is no legal remedy. As a result, the perpetrator can not be brought to book, and so, get away with his crime. In such circumstances, taking revenge can be an acceptable recourse. Bacon, however, adds a caveat here. The act of revenge must be carefully chosen. It should be outside the purview of the prevailing law, so that the victim (wrong-doer, earlier) can’t sue the avenger.
In some cases, the avenger sets up his act such that the victim (wrong-doer, earlier) gets to know the source of his trouble. This gives the avenger some satisfaction. Such a move could not be as evil as the leaving the victim to wonder who harmed him. Bacon seems to approve of this as it limits the chance of the person turning on other innocent people.

For the delight seemeth to be not so much in doing the hurt as in making the party repent. But base and crafty cowards are like the arrow that flieth in the dark. Cosmus, duke of Florence, had a desperate saying against perfidious or neglecting friends, as if those wrongs were unpardonable; “You shall read (saith he) that we are commanded to forgive our enemies; but you never read that we are commanded to forgive our friends.

Meaning …. When the perpetrator gets to know that the person he wronged has come back to him with vengeance, he will be deterred from repeating his earlier mischief. He may feel some remorse thinking that he should not have, in the first place, indulged in the evil act. However, vile and crooked persons do not have the moral strength to admit that they did the wrong thing. This complicates the situation.
Cosmus, the Duke of Florence, had some friends who were either deceitful or insincere in their friendship. Their nature used to annoy Cosmus a lot. He admonished their supercilious and favour-seeking attitude rather strongly. He warned them that he would never pardon them, although he was fully empowered to pardon offenders.

” But yet the spirit of Job was in a better tune: “Shall we (saith he) take good at God’s hands, and not be content to take evil also?” And so of friends in a proportion. This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well. Public revenges are for the most part fortunate; as that for the death of Caesar; for the death of Pertinax; for the death of Henry the Third of France; and many more. But in private revenges it is not so. Nay rather, vindictive persons live the life of witches; who, as they are mischievous, so end they infortunate.

Meaning … Job, the Biblical character, gave some sound advice in the matter. He wondered if we gratefully accept from the hands of God only those things that we like, and refuse those, not to our liking. This is also true in friendship. Both good and not so good friends are to be adored. A vengeful person never allows the scars left by other’s misdeeds to heal. Had he not been so vindictive, memories of hurt and humiliation would fade off with the passage of time.
Acts of revenge, committed in full view of the public, can often have some salutary effect at times. The events such as the death of Caesar, the death of Pertinax, the death of Henry the Third of France were generally considered desirable, although these events were driven by revenge.
On the other hand, urge for revenge lying deep in one’s mind can be really toxic. Surely, but slowly, this devilish passion consumes the bearer. These people live miserably and die miserably.
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A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream – Act 1 Scene 2

Summary.. A Mid Summer Night’s Dream Act 1 Scene 2

In the build-up to the marriage of Theseus and Hippolyta, the air in Athens is festive. Citizens are agog in excitement, just the same way the lovers in the palace are. In another corner of Athens, away from Theseus’s palace, a few commoners have thought of a novel idea to contribute to the festivities by enacting a play befitting to the occasion. They have assembled at the house of Peter Quince to rehearse a play that would be staged as part of the grand celebrations.
Quince, a carpenter, has taken the initiative to make preparations for staging the play. He calls the folks to attention. The weaver Nick Bottom, a chatterbox by nature, interjects unnecessarily. He is a busybody and can’t restrain himself. He has an opinion and a suggestion to offer at every step.
Quince brief the armature actors about the play. The name of the play was to be: The Most Lamentable Comedy and Most Cruel Death of Pyramus and Thisb. The story is based on two lovers, who find their romance hindered by the animosity of their parents. The lovers manage to speak to each other at night through a hole in the wall.
In the play, a lion appears from nowhere and springs on Thisbe one night. Her attire gets shredded to pieces. But, she manages to flee. Pyramus discovers the tattered dress, and concludes that his beloved Thisbe has not survived the lion attack. Devastated and unable to bear the shock, he takes his own life. Later, Thisbe finds Pyramus’s blood-stained corpse, and decides to kill herself out of grief.
Quince starts to name the actors and their roles. their parts:
Bottom is to play Pyramus
Francis Flute, Thisbe
Robin Starveling, Thisbe’s mother
Tom Snout, Pyramus’s father
Quince himself, Thisbe’s father and
Snug, the Lion.
As Quince announces the roles the parts, Bottom starts his ill-conceived comments, claiming for himself the roles of Thisbe, and the Lion. He said he had a feminine voice that made him eminently suitable to be Thisbe. Quite laughably, he said roar like a lion and that qualifies him to play the Lion’s role. Quince pleads with him to forgo all these claims and settle for the role of Pyramus. ‘Quince was handsome, so he was cut out for being Pyramus,’ reasoned Quince.
Snug wondered if he had a voice as loud and coarse as that of a lion. He sulked to play the lion. Quince coaxed him to agree, as he didn’t have to utter a word because lion do not speak. Lions growl and roar, and do not speak. This assurance, however, had an unintended consequence. Those present there feared that a lion’s roar on stage could set off a panic among the elite ladies in the front rows. That would be disastrous as such ill-conceived plot could result in the stage artists being sent to the gallows as punishment. Fraying the nerves of the wealthy and the powerful was too risky, thought they.
Bottom has a solution for this. He says he could tone down his roar to make it sound like a melodious song. That would not frighten anyone. Quince persists with his suggestion that Baottom could only play Pyramus, not the Lion. The group of farmers end their consultation there agreeing to meet in the woods the following night. Rehearsal could start then.

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Mental Healthcare in Pakistan

Mental Healthcare in Pakistan

Mentally ill people do not get a fair deal in Pakistan mainly due to lack of adequate modern facilities. Regrettably, this subject is a taboo for most Pakistanis who shy away from discussing it openly. Such secretiveness makes the treatment of mentally deranged people all the more difficult as the victims do not come out to the open to seek redress.
Affluent patients can afford going to mental hospitals where they receive scientific treatment. On the contrary, the poor patients, already rendered incapable of any gainful employment, prove to be a burden on their families. Naturally, the caretakers’ resources are stretched to the extreme in trying to get them treated. Such patients and their families have little recourse to anything modern and effective. Other than hoping for a miracle to happen, the near and dear ones can do little to enable the hapless victims to find their feet again.
Safia Bibi, hailing from Gujranwala, is one such woman whose young able-bodied son is afflicted by this debilitating illness. She has left no stones un-turned to get her son cured, but has had little success. She is broke now. Already at the end of the tether, she has fallen back on ‘Hope’ –the last recourse for all those crushed under fate.
She has come with her son Ahmad (20) to the centuries-old Sufi shrine in rural Punjab hoping that the shrine’s healing power would rid Ahmad of the disease.
Safia has a pensive look in her face, and Ahmad stares vacantly at her. An iron chain binds his ankle to a tree, so that he can’t flee, or cause trouble to others. The mother looks searchingly at Ahmad’s face as she puts some food into his mouth. Signs of misery caused by years of battling with poverty, and her son’s doom are writ large on her face.
She bemoans her fate narrating how Ahmad used to run away from home to wander aimlessly in the alleys. Soon, he became a target of street boys who pelted stones at Ahmad for childish fun. Her eyes wells up as she lamented her fate. Grief compounded by poverty gnawed at her relentlessly.
Quite close to her lies an old man chained and made immobile. He struggles to break free, but, obviously, he can’t. He groans and grunts as his wife looks on pitifully.
Dozens of such unfortunate families have poured into the shrine. They all lie like lumps on the sprawling floor of the shrine. Each has his own story to tell, but all have their cups of woe full. The floor looks to be in a shambles with heaps of clothes and sick people all over the place.
In a society where mentally ill people are subject of much derision, the shrine offers the last haven. Some are indeed healed, some are not that fortunate. A few of such incurable patients are abandoned by their family members, who simply walk away leaving the patients to their fate.
Atta Mohammud is the custodian of the shrine. His job is to chain the patients to pin them down. He provides some frugal meal to the inmates. For his work, he wins accolades, but faces a lot of criticism for the basic living conditions there in the shrine. He takes both with equanimity, saying wryly that with his limited resources he can provide only this much.
Mental illness is not incorrigible. It can be cured by trained psychiatrists, but Pakistan has too few of them to cater to the teeming mentally ill people.
Life in the shrine is not all that dreary all the time. To cut boredom, some patients erupt to Qawwali singing and dancing. The iron chain in their ankles can’t chain their spirits. But such gaiety is illusory, at best. The shrine will continue to beckon those who need its succour.
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Civi Service essay — Post-URI National Mood

Post-Uri national mood

Bruised by the Uri attack, Prime minister Modi has been mulling over possible non-military options to convey to Pakistan India’s extreme anger over the incursion. MFN (Most Favoured Nation) status for Pakistan is almost going to be withdrawn. Sharing river waters with Pakistan as per the Indus Water Treaty is no longer a pleasant idea. PM Modi has been holding confabulations to see if the treaty can be abrogated, and water flow be stemmed to hurt Pakistan.
His intentions are writ large on his remarks that “Blood and Water cannot flow together.” However, it seems certain that India will honour the IWT for now. Instead, the Centre intends to make full and optimal use of India’s share of waters as per the Treaty. Curiously, India has not been doing so, till now. Abrogating the IWT is a fraught and pungent option that would have serious ramifications. Holding of the inter-ministerial meeting on IWT options at this point was, therefore, not going to be useful.
In his Kozikode message, Modi had given a statesman type call to the Pakistanis to jointly fight poverty, with India. It was a positive message, but talking loudly about cancellation of the IWT was not. It has to be borne in mind that the World Bank had midwife the IWT of 1960. The treaty that outlines the way the water of the five rivers are to be shared by India and Pakistan has stood firm, despite the wars the two nations fought in 1965 and 1971, and the continual flare-ups along the LOC. India would find itself in the wrong side of law if it reneges on the treaty. Global condemnation would follow.
In what way India can make use of its balance share of the water of the five rivers is not clear. Only some parts of Jammu and Kashmir can be irrigated better with the water. For holding back the excess unused water now flowing into Pakistan, dams would have to be built. It could take years. Most international funding institutions and banks will frown upon such a plan that would surely impact environment.
Now it appears that the frenzied media coverage of the Prime minister’s ‘review’ of the IWT was anything but a damp squib. Such an ill-co0nceived move and the hype created about it later have damaged the credibility of the PM. Regrettably, the media storm continues apace, and do not show sign of slowing down. The pros and cons of going back on the Treaty are not seeing the much-needed dispassionate analysis. Instead, we hear a lot of irrational but potentially dangerous jingoism. The need of the hour is a cool head and a cool nerve. Revoking the MFN status will hardly ruffle Pakistan, given the low volume of bilateral trade.
Pre-empting Uri and Pathankot style attacks needs a whole gamut of strategies – strategic, intelligence and political. Discussing these matters in public reduces their efficacy. India’s strategic restraint in the past against cross-border terrorism has helped the country build its image as a dependable, stable and responsible country. This approach must not be abandoned. After all, India and Pakistan will have to return to peace, one day.
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