Society issues in Monstrous Regiment

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Society issues in Monstrous Regiment

Postby Jakindra » Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:46 pm

I am having a project in school about how literature arises questions about social issues. I am going to read Monstrous Regiment for the nth time for this project. Even though I know the book pretty well backwards, forwards and inside-out, I thought it'd be nice to have a discussion about what different people think are the important issues Terry addresses in this novel.

Clearly stereotypes, discrimination, religion and war are important themes. I have chosen to focus most on discrimination of females and stereotypes, but feel free to discuss all aspects of the book :) Thanks for all help :)
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Postby theoldlibrarian » Mon Jan 18, 2010 8:22 pm

Just remember that the most important part of any literature project is comparison to other literature. Books like To Kill a mockingbird, the grapes of wrath, star of the sea etc.
But if you havent read these books, any similar works would do. Terry Pratchett, sends out many anti-discrimination messages in his books but without making a huge fuss about it. Probably because he realises the futility of anger as an emotion.
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Postby Jakindra » Mon Jan 18, 2010 10:05 pm

I am going to compare it to two other fantasy books within the same theme. Mainly the task is about how the author addresses issues in society, whatever they may be.
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:10 pm

In my opinion... Borogravia has taken the female stereotype to the extreme. All they are missing is the Burkha. Good choice for a school project.

Props to you and I wish you all the best luck. \o/
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby poohcarrot » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:58 pm

But it's probably the women in Borogravia who have been making all the rules, disguised as men. :lol:

I think it shows that women are just as bloodthirsty, just as violent and just as stupid as men (I know Tina is! :lol: )
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:20 am

:roll: I blame Men for that... sometimes ONE in particular, Name Shall Be Unsaid to Protect Him... :twisted: Momentarily, Mwahahahahahaha!!!
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby poohcarrot » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:44 am

Eh? I'm not violent or bloodthirsty. OK maybe stupid, but nobody's perfect. :(
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Postby swreader » Tue Jan 19, 2010 5:13 am

One of the things which distinguishes Terry's work, I think, and makes him so much more than other fantasy writers is the complexity and alllusive richness. Are you aware where the term "Monstrous Regiment" comes from? Here's a link to what I think is Terry's primary allusion in this complex work.

And of course you have to limit your choice to one aspect and discrimination against women is a major theme --but a comparison with 2 other novelists sounds like quite a task. Good luck.

You might also want to look at the discussion of the book that some of us who are also on the Cunning Artificer did a year or so ago. There's 8 pages there. :D
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Jan 19, 2010 12:41 pm

Hi there Jakindra - this looks like a good strong vein to investigate for a project :)

Do you have any ideas which other fantasy authors are you going to use? I run a forum that has a Tolkien roleplay section and his Middle Earth stories are worth looking at on this subject, especially in the case of The Return of the King. This has Eowyn of Rohan disguising herself as a Rider (Dernhelm) to go to Gondor where she fulfils a 'prophecy' made by Glorfindel of Gondolin that 'no man' could kill the chief of the Ringwraiths... :lol: Much debate there for the lorists as there is a school of thought there that it was in fact a hobbit who struck the fatal blow (Merry using a sword made by the men of Westernesse) but Eowyn certainly finished him off :lol:

Tolkien's an interesting author in that he didn't feature too many human women in his other writing and his elven women were few and far between. Those he did flesh out, especially Galadriel (of whom he said that she was equal in talent and power to Feanor who he said was the most gifted of all the elven race), but also Idril Celebrindal and Luthien Tinuviel who was half elven, half maian (a powerful spirit like Gandalf or Saruman before he fell) and her grandaughter Elwing (Elrond's mum).

Being born at the end of the Victorian era, Tolkien didn't let his main female characters do too much in the way of the warrior but he took a kind of pre-Raphaelite attitude with Idril and Elwing as being wise, inspirational and brave in being helpmates to their menfolk and certainly Luthien and to a lesser extent Galadriel had some martial and political clout as they were both sorceresses, but Luthien again was the greater protagonist and out-magicked both Sauron and Morgoth.
There are 2 other human women that took an 'equal' role to males. The first being Andreth who dedazzled Finrod Felegund, one of the most powerful elves to return to Middle Earth, with her wisdom and philosophic resistance to his physical love - they were cerebral but platonic lovers and in a literary sense Tolkien's reasoning out of why humans and elves don't mix and starting a stream of ill-fated human/elf liasons of which both Aragorn and Elronds were products.

The other human female Tolkien wrote of was a bona fide warrior queen - Haleth of Brethil (just to the north of Doriath and an ally of Finrod and of King Thingol). Her father and brother were slain by orcs and so she led her people to safety and the alliance with the elves but they had to fight their way through their retreat and she was right there with the other men and more than holding her own as a soldier and a general/strategist and Battle Champion. Her people were blessed by the Valar and went on to found Westernesse with other favoured tribes of men when Morgoth was defeated.

A few ideas for you there anyway! :wink:
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Postby Doughnut Jimmy » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:08 pm

Hi Jakindra

If you're looking at discrimination against / limitation of women don't forget the role of the old bats who make sure the girls wear their dimity scarves etc - I thought that was one of the more important aspects of the society that it wasn't primarily men imposing rules on women - they were doing it to themselves

And Jan isn't comparing Tolkein and Pratchett a bit like comparing chalk and cheese?
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Postby Jakindra » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:13 pm

Tolkien is certainly an interesting author to chose, but seeing as the book has to have a more central focus on the issues, I have chosen Dealing with Dragons as my book number two. I know it's an YA/children's-book, but it's fairly easy to talk about. It's about a princess that refuses to be a traditional princess, and instead decides to be a servant for a dragon. She refuses to be saved when the prince comes. This book deals with stereotypes and the traditional female role in fairy tales.
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Postby Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit » Tue Jan 19, 2010 4:38 pm

poohcarrot wrote:Eh? I'm not violent or bloodthirsty. OK maybe stupid, but nobody's perfect. :(


But sweetness, joo know I lub joo in spite of jorself... 8)

Dealing With Dragons and the sequels are FANTASTIC. I love them, they are so empowering in their silliness and seriousness that I fell for them instantly. More power to you.
Aha! So, Bob's yer uncle... very clever.
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Postby janet » Tue Jan 19, 2010 10:24 pm

A complete non-sequitur but my 21stC daughter asked me recently,
'What do you call women in the Army?'
My answer was,'Soldiers'...
Whatever your thoughts Jakindra, my very best wishes on your project :D The world may not be quite ready for what you find but, as an original feminist I sure as hell am and maybe i should have indoctrinated my daughter earlier :?
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Re: Society issues in Monstrous Regiment

Postby kakaze » Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:11 pm

Jakindra wrote:about how literature arises questions about social issues.


So, your subject isn't the social issues presented in the book, but how they're presented.

In Terry's case, he takes a social issue (or, more recently, several issues) and uses them as the situational environment in his book with a large dose of humor to make the story interesting and fun to read.

For example; few teenagers would be interested in reading a thesis about "Environment vs. Genetics", but they are interested in reading about a girl who dresses up as a boy and then begins to act (and think) like a boy.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:30 pm

Doughnut Jimmy wrote:And Jan isn't comparing Tolkein and Pratchett a bit like comparing chalk and cheese?

I thought I'd replied to this :roll: memory like a sieve these days :oops:

They're more alike than they seem if you think about it DJ. :wink: Terry himself sometimes give dim TV journos a sound byte if they don't know Discword too well by saying that it's Middle Earth, 500 years on with a sense of humour and a small industrial revolution. :lol: Also both Middle Earth and Discworld are fully realised fantasy realms. Tolkien, wrote at least as much about ME as Terry has about Discworld, but his was an academic/'research' approach and he cared much more about linguistics and history/myth than writing novels. I love Tolkien's writing as much as Terry's, but the Silmarillion is unreadable unless you treat it as a reference source and that where the bulk of Tolkien's work lies. :P

Eowyn and Polly both pretended to be men so they could go to war having been frustrated by male relatives/social traditions wanting to keep them at home doing something else - that's the similarity with enough differences in approach and period to make an interesting comparison for these purposes of course, epsecially when you investigate Eowyn's actual reasons and motivation for going into battle, some of which are the same as Polly's but also contrast too - lots of mileage there. :lol:
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