Benchmark Quarter 4: English Portfolio

      By looking through my work this year, I hope readers notice the growth I've gone through- both in writing and as a person- as I have. Looking back, I can see that my strengths are essay's and not creative writing, so I hope to grow more still by becoming better at writing creatively. I was very surprised to see, first, the amount of work I've done and forgotten about, and second, the change I can see evident in my writing. Going back through my work was one of the most interesting projects I've had to do all year.I am most proud of my Odyssey Persuasive Essay, because I try to prove an opinion that most people didn't share, and I enjoyed the challenge.

1) Macbeth Character Analysis:     This was one of the first projects I did for the year. I'm glad it was, because somewhere along the line I completely forgot to write a conclusion. Besides that, I think I did well for a project at the beginning of the year. The project had me go very deep into the macbeth as I needed to map out his transformation throughout the book. Looking back on my writing style, I can see how far I've come from the beginning of the year. So here it is, Macbeth's Transformation, fully corrected and with a conclusion paragraph.

Macbeth’s Transformation
Macbeth started out as a loyal friend and subject but was then transformed into an evil tyrant.
In Act 1 scene 2 of Macbeth, a captain comes into the throne room bleeding from multiple wounds. He has just arrived from a battle between the royal army and a group of rebels in which the royal army emerged victorious. He stumbles up to king Duncan and informs him on the outcome of the battle, then says this about Macbeth “For Brave Macbeth – well he deserves the name – distaining fortune, with his brandished steel, which smoked with bloody execution.” (Act 1, scene 2, page 4) Macbeth was the hero of this battle, showing his courage in battle by killing the enemy everywhere he went. Macbeth has earned the trust and admiration of the king and the other Thanes; through doing this he has proven his loyalty to his kingdom. At this point in the play Macbeth is as loyal as a man can be, but that is about to change.
Later, in Act 1, scene 2, king Duncan receives the news that the Thane of Cawdor betrayed him and helped the enemy to organize this battle. He decides to go after the Thane and promote Macbeth to the position of Cawdor, so he says. “What he hath lost noble Macbeth hath gained.”(Act 1, scene 2, page 6)  Now that the old Thane of Cawdor has been taken care of the noble Macbeth will succeed him. In promoting Macbeth King Duncan sets off a chain of events that lead to his own death. This is because by promoting Macbeth he confirms the witches’ prophecy that Macbeth will be promoted to Thane of Cawdor, then become king.
In Act 1 scene 5, Macbeth writes to his wife about the witches’ prophecy that he will become Thane of Cawdor, and then King and how shortly after he was promoted the first part of the prophecy came true. His wife is excited, she interprets the witches’ prophecy to be an invitation to kill king Duncan, she and Macbeth start to form a plan to make the second part of the prophecy come true. After listening Macbeth says, “We will speak further”(Act 1, scene 5, page 18). He wants to be king but doesn’t have the time to talk. Lady Macbeth then tells him not to worry and to leave everything to her to set up. This is significant in his transformation as it is the first time he considers what he will need to do to become king.
In act 1 scene 7, Macbeth has king Duncan over for dinner; in the middle of the feast Macbeth goes to a private room and debates whether or not he should kill king Duncan. Lady Macbeth then has to come in and blackmail him into wanting to go through with it. Macbeth then says this“ I am settled, and bend up each corporal agent to this terrible feat. Away, and mock the time with fairest show; false face to hide what the false heart doth know.”(Act 1, scene 7, page 23) He is ready to kill king Duncan, and advises his wife to pretend not to be plotting the death of their king. Macbeth is now moments away from his attempt on the life of Duncan. He is ready to take charge, start killing, and start to turn away from being a loyal subject.
In Act 2 scene 2, Macbeth has just killed Duncan. He comes to his wife, shaking and says, “I have done the deed, did though not hear a noise?“ (Act 2, scene 2, Page 27) He is very nervous because after he actually killed the king he starts to wonder whether or not he should have done it and he imagines how easy it would have been for someone to wake up and discover him. He’s made mistakes and not followed the plan so Lady Macbeth starts to panic and takes over. This was Macbeth's first kill, and because of the influence of the prophecy and his wife this first kill will make all the rest easier and more justifiable.
In act 3 scene 1, Macbeth believes that Banquo might realize that he murdered Duncan. So he sends murderers to take care of him and his son. After meeting with the murderers he says “Banquo, thy souls fight, if find heaven, must make it out tonight”(Act 3, scene 2, page 45). If Banquo is going to die then he needs to do it tonight. This marks to point at which Macbeth truly loses his old self. He was willing to kill his best friend, and an innocent child in order to keep himself safe. He is no longer a friend to anyone.
In act 4 scene 1,Macbeth realizes that other people know that he murdered Duncan so he goes to consult the weïrd sisters “I conjure you by that which you profess, howe’er you come to know it, answer me.” (Act 4, scene 1, page 64) He wants to find out all he can about what the future will hold for him, because he thinks that he will be able to defeat his enemies by knowing it. Macbeth is putting complete faith in the thing that is destroying him and turning him into the twisted, evil person that she is.
In act 4, scene 3 Malcolm and Macduff meet in England, at first they suspect each other of murdering Duncan, but then decide that the other is trust worthy and agree that Macbeth is the enemy, “But Macbeth is”. (Act 4, scene 3, page 73) They say that Macbeth is a tyrant and is poisoning the kingdom. Macbeth has now turned friends into enemies and has transformed into a worse version of the Thane of Cawdor before him.
In act 5 scene 3, everyone knows that Macbeth killed Duncan in order to become king. When a servant enters his room, but does not speak quickly enough Macbeth starts to yell “The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon! Where got’st thou that goose look?” (Act 5, scene 3, page 87). He then goes on to say that 10,000 soldiers are on their way to the castle and Macbeth wants to send out soldiers to skirt the country and hang all those who might help the soldiers on their way. This decision is beyond all reason and could only be thought up by a ruler who has lost his mind.
In act 5 scene 7, Macbeth knows that the army of soldiers is coming to kill him. But is either to stubborn or crazy to give up “They have tied me to a stake. I cannot fly. But bearlike I must fight the course. What’s he that was not born of woman? Such a one am I to fear, or none.” (Act 5, scene 7, page 94). They have trapped him with nowhere to go but he still wants to fight back. He probably knows he is going to die but by now his lust for power clouds his vision to the point where he doesn’t care.
          At this point macbeth's Transformation is complete and fully evident. He has betrayed his friends and allies and turned from a loyal servant to a monster. He was pushed over the edge by his wife, but once he got going he didn't stop. He started out killing for the king, for a just cause. But ended by killing women and children to gain power for himself.

2) Memoir Vignette:
     This project was inspired by a canoe trip I took as an incoming 7th grader. I had to write a four page short story about it and include writing tricks like humor, simile's, and magic three. Looking back on it, the writing style seems forced and awkward. I honestly hope I've grown since then. But here it is in all its glory, "Out of the Country Without a Passport"  

Out of the Country Without a Passport

     I had just started summer break after 6th grade when my mom asked me,(Opener)
“How would you like to go on a week long canoe trip in a few weeks? (Dialogue)
As I hadn’t done much camping at that point in my life I said that I definitely would.
She had found this camp, in the way of most things like this, through a friend. (Humor)This friend had a husband who had gone on a boating trip as a counselor and had seen a group of  people who were part of this camp. So my Mom looked into it, signed me up, then asked me. (Magic 3)
I didn’t care much that she had signed me up before asking, it wouldn’t be far from home, and it sounded like fun, I definitely wasn’t disappointed.
     So, when the day of the trip arrived, me and my dad got up early in the morning to drive me to the house of a friend who was also going. When I got there, me, my friend, and another kid who I didn’t know got into the car of this friends dad and  shared the small space with enough comic books to last us several trips to the moon (by car).(Hyperbole) None of these comic books were mine, but when we got to the campsite I was familiar with a lot more characters than I had been previously.
     I arrived at the campsite to some surprising news. My other two friends and I (I can now refer to the other kid in the car as a friend. It’s amazing how long car rides bring people together) (Humor) represented half of the campers going on this trip. There were six of us. Besides us, there were three counselors, but I’m not going to call them “counselors” in this story because they only ever cooked for us, so from now on they will be called, “cooks” or “night watchmen”.
     After a small lunch of hamburgers and hot dogs we set out in our canoes, each holding a rower, a steer-er, and suitcases belonging to the campers. (Magic 3)We rowed for an hour or two, then landed on a small island that looked like it had been a sandbar foremost of its life.(Simile/personification) After setting up camp- at the highest point possible- (Humor) we introduced ourselves. The two friends I mentioned before both live deep in Mount Airy and read for half of every day, (Hyperbole) besides them, there was a girl who lived in a large suburb, and whose father apparently owned most of it. (Humor) There was a boy a little older than I was who camped a lot but had huge problems with boy scouts (Humor). The last girl I can’t remember much about, but my impression of her is that she spent most of her time on her cellphone, which was one of the few items on the “DO NOT BRING” list for the trip (Humor). We were an interesting group, early on the rich girl developed an obsession with the boy, but he hated her (do we see a theme here?) (Humor) so every time he did or said something that would send a normal girl into a rage she would take it out on me. The week was full of wild screams and overturning canoes (Metaphor). Me, my two book fiend friends, and the boy on one side and rich girl and texting girl on the other. (I should point out that texting girl wasn’t on rich girl’s side because of thoughts on what was going on with the rest of us. It was because she didn’t care and she was the only one who wouldn’t whack rich girl on the head when she tried to go after me)
Each day after breakfast we packed up and set out for the next campsite, once we got there we would unpack, eat lunch, then explore (Magic 3).
     The mornings were always the same, with me stumbling out of bed with bruises from sleeping in a tent, then eating quickly before setting off again .It was in the afternoons when we needed to entertain ourselves.
Building structures with sand, exploring, and making up random songs (Magic 3) were the main things we did. If those didn’t sound fun, we would go to our default. Burning things (Humor).
This sort of fun was new to me, I had never before needed search this hard for entertainment or something to do because I always had computers, television, and I lived in a big city (Magic 3).I never knew that planning things to do for a week could be so hard, by the fourth day I resolved to ask my parents how they planned our vacations. I needed to adjust myself to a new way of life three hours from where I lived.
After a day of doing whatever  it was we felt like, be it swimming, fishing, or- onone occasion- throwing rocks at each other (Magic 3/Humor). We would sit around the campfire and burn  stick, burn leaves, burn apples and even burn small fish (Rep for effect/ Humor) to keep ourselves occupied as the cooks made dinner. During the trip this was the place where I felt most at home, the heat of the fire was comforting, and it felt like the thing that drove me forward through the day looking towards the time I could relax. It was the point at the end of the day when everyone really got along well.
     When the trip was finally over and we’d burnt our last goodbye (Metaphor/ Humor) I went home, and when my mom asked
“So, was it fun?”  (Dialogue)
I told her about all the great fun we had and the songs we made up and the objects we burnt (Magic 3). I said that I’d had a lot of fun and thanked her for telling me about it.
     But it wasn’t until much later, after a trip to Africa, when someone would ask me how I liked the trip, I said the same sort of things I’d said after the canoe trip. I went on a seventeen hour flight to have the same great time a three hour drive brought me (Realization).

3) The Odyssey Compare/Contrast Essay:
     Here is my compare and contrast essay, where I gave evidence as to why Odysseus and Poseidon are so similar in character. I enjoy looking back on this piece because the idea I had was a little different from the way most people thought of the relationship between the two character in "The Odyssey". Wile most people thought Odysseus was the complete opposite of Poseidon, I set out to prove the traits they shared.

    Odysseus and Poseidon

     Not many people consider Poseidon and Odysseus to be similar in character. In fact, Odysseus is widely considered to be more like Athena, Poseidon's rival and direct opposite. But there is plenty of evidence to contradict this. Odysseus and Poseidon react in the same way during many different situations. After Odysseus blinded his son, Poseidon made Odysseus's life miserable, and when Odysseus finally returned home, he discovered how the suitors had treated his wife and son and killed every last one of them. The only huge difference is that Odysseus needs to fear death. Odysseus and Poseidon are both protective of their family, powerful, and proud. But Odysseus knows when strength isn't the way forward; he is mortal so he knows that in order to stay alive he needs to use a combination on strength and brains. He is the embodiment of the rivalry between Poseidon and Athena.
        Both Odysseus and Poseidon are protective when it comes to family, and are quick to kill or disgrace anyone who dishonors one of their own. When Odysseus finally gets home to Ithaca and learns of the suitors defying his house and name, he is quick to learn all who betrayed and disgraced him in his absence “Go now, gather crusts from all the suitor, and test them, so we can tell the innocent from the guilty" (The Odyssey: pg.366 line 397-398). This shows that he stops at nothing, even killing women if they disgraced himself and his wife Penelope to defend his honor and family. In the same way, Poseidon answered the curse invoked by the Cyclops when Odysseus blinded him "Hear me Poseidon, god of the sea blue main that rocks the earth. If I really am your son and you claim to be my father, come grand that Odysseus, raider of cities, Laertes' son who makes his home in Ithaca never reaches home" (The Odyssey: pg.228 line 585-590). Because of what Odysseus did to his son, Poseidon continuously drove Odysseus off coarse forcing him miles and years away from home; he was only spared his life because Athena took pity on him. Poseidon and Odysseus both went to somewhat ridiculous ends to humiliate the people who harmed their family.
     Even though Odysseus and Poseidon have great devotion to their families, they also each have a trait that can sometimes mask their love for the people close to them. They are both very proud, with a need to get themselves the most glory they can and uphold the honor they've earned. Odysseus shows this when he is heading straight through the path of Scylla. Instead of speeding himself through with only a few deaths in his crew, he has to put on his armor and stand ready to fight "So I shouted. They snapped at each command, no mention of Scylla - How to fight that nightmare?" (The Odyssey: pg.278 line 241-242). He did this so he could try to kill Scylla, even though he knew it would cost him a lot of men he wanted to have the glory of killing something to unreachable for any other mortal man. Similar to this, in the legend of Poseidon and the walls of Troy; when Poseidon is threatened and refused money for assisting in building the walls of Troy by the king at the time he becomes furious and floods the countryside. Then set upon the walls with a sea monster. He needed to do this because the king offended his pride.
     Odysseus may be prideful, but he knows when he can't get out of a situation with strength alone. He recognizes that he needs to take care of himself so he can get back to his family. In the Cyclops’s cave he tricks the Cyclops into drinking extremely concentrated wine to make him slow, because he knows that they won't be able to open the cave if the Cyclops is dead "Here, Cyclops, try this wine - to top off the banquet of human flesh you've bolted down" (The Odyssey: pg.222 line 388-389). This shows that he can think on his feet and uses his brain when he can't use his sword. Poseidon is the opposite, because he never takes the smart way out, and uses his powers to destroy his enemies in the most humiliating ways. He doesn't ever recognize that he is outmatched, because the worst that can happen to him is a tiny bit of pain or a short term punishment. Being a god, he doesn't worry about that sort of thing, and he doesn’t think it’s important to try to take care of beings that aren’t necessarily as powerful or immortal as he is. Poseidon is constantly trying to overthrow Zeus or get the best of Athena, and even though he almost never succeeds he always tries again later because he doesn't know the meaning of defeat and can't recognize when he is being arrogant or repetitive. He doesn’t understand compassion for others, and lets his instincts for power and pleasure rule his life.
     It cannot be denied that Odysseus and Poseidon are very much the same. They have gone to every extent to protect their family and their pride cannot be matched. But Poseidon doesn't know when to stop, and goes to far when Odysseus would have stopped. Poseidon is a god, so he doesn't have to worry about death, and twenty years means nothing to him. Odysseus has to stay alive, even if it is just to protect his family and get back home. He knows that he needs to use his head instead of his sword sometimes because he cannot risk death the way Poseidon can. If Odysseus were a god with no worries about dying or family he would act the same as Poseidon.

4) Macbeth Creative Project:
     This game was made as my creative project during the Macbeth unit this year. I used a program called Scratch to make it, and posted it on the Scratch website. I remember having a lot of fun making it, even though I spent hours each day for a week to finish it just in time. The game follows Macbeth through his transformation, and includes the quotes I used to in my essay. The link to the game is here:

5) Independent Reading Project 1:
     To do this project, I needed to choose a book to read, then write a review of it. The book I chose is called "It Happened in Boston" by Russel H. Greenman. It is a book about a mentally unbalanced man and the situations he gets himself into, but you can read more about that in the actual review.

The author of “It Happened in Boston” is a man named Russel H. Greenan. This was his debut novel and he went on to write “Nightmare”, “The Queen of America”, “ The Secret Life of Algernon Pendleton”, “Heart of Gold”, “ The Bric-a-brac Man”, “Keepers”, “Can of Worms”, “Doomsnight”, and “Glamour Doom”., all of which were published and made famous around the world.
It happened in Boston is from the point of view of a man (who goes unnamed) who tells
about his life as a painter, and eventually, a killer. From the beginning, the reader can tell that this man is unbalanced because he explains that he can sit down and transport himself to any time period he wants by closing his eyes. Also, because he is suspicious of pigeons spying on him so he poisons some bread and puts it on the windowsill. There is a lot of conflict in the story, both inside the main character and with others due to the characters twisted mental condition. To name a few, his wife, an art dealer, and a sickly insurance manager.
He is an extremely talented artist, and creates many works of art that are approaching, if not equal to the works of Leonardo Da Vinci. The problem, at first, is that he can never seem to catch a break, so doesn’t get much money. When someone finally does start to pay him for his paintings, they end up involving him deeply in art forgery and steal his wife. That’s when he loses his mind.
My favorite character in “It Happened in Boston” would have to be the unnamed protagonist. His journey really picks up on human emotion and how we react when betrayed on every turn. Another thing I enjoyed about this character was that, even though I knew what he did was insane he seemed to approach his conclusions logically and never acted unbalanced.
Although he was my favorite character in the story, I don’t think I can relate to him. I’m not a bad artist, but I wouldn’t consider doing it professionally. (SPOILER) I’ve never killed anyone, let alone seven people as a sacrifice to meet and overthrow god. Also, I don’t suffer from paranoia or depression, so I can’t say I know what that feels like.
I love this book; right from the beginning I could tell that it would be interesting because you don’t know what is true and what is the crazy ranting of a madman, so it pays to make predictions and assumptions because they will help you make sense a weirdly played out story. I also enjoyed learning about all the complexities that go into painting a portrait, or carving a statue.
I wouldn’t recommend this book to early readers, because in all honesty it would turn them off reading for a very long time. However, If the reader is experienced and is prepared for many hours sitting in a chair mumbling just to make sense of the storyline then I think they will enjoy this brain twister immensely.

6) Four Journal Entries:
     These are four journal entries that I've written through out the year. It's interesting to look back on them because they document my daily life at different parts of the year and all the ways I've changed. They are all free write, so looking through my journal, I found a couple lengthy entries about how I don't like writing journal entries. But the pieces I've chosen for this show my writing at different parts of the year. I can't say I'm proud of the amount of dead words present.

     My first week was great! I had a great time this week but I'm still really exhausted. It was a long week and there have been a lot of things to take in, I've enjoyed all of it.
     The only thing I'm not happy about is how long it will take to get our laptops. After we get them, life will be a lot easier.
     I enjoy the atmosphere of the school and I feel like I know everyone already.

     Because of my past actions most people expect nothing but the best from me. This puts a lot of pressure on my head because it makes me feel like I have a responsibility to keep up with those expectations. So I feel frustrated if I don't do well on something. It makes it way easier to disappoint people. It feels good to help people but sometimes I wish i wasn't the person that everyone went to for help. It would be great if there was someone with that responsibility.

      I had a lot of fun over break, I even enjoyed shoveling my massive driveway when it finally snowed. I was able to balance work with relaxation relatively well, with a day of homework, then a day of rest. A little before new years day some friends of my parents came over from Cleveland, so we spent a few days in center city walking around playing tourist. But we also had a fair amount of time doing nothing at home.
     At the moment I'm working on m spanish 4 benchmark. The work isn't hard, all we need to do is review a movie we watched before break, then choose a soundtrack to go along with a few scenes.

     A good story teller is someone who can make whatever story they are telling feel alive and make it connect to the listener. The Odyssey Kicks off with a bit of foreshadowing on what happens at the end of the story. The Main characters so far are Athena, Zeus, Poseidon, and Odysseus.