Character and Voice Poetry: Aiming for A*

In order to get an A* in the exam, you should be imaginative with your response, ‘salt and pepper’ it with short, embedded quotations and ‘zoom in’ on the details. As I’ve said time and time again, it’s not about showing how much you know about the poems, but rather about how well you can analyse details to support your response to the poems. A* responses are fully engaged with the themes and ideas, making perceptive comments and interpretations. They also focus on the key skill – COMPARING! Here are some things to look for when comparing poems:

comp1

Here is a detailed comparison of My Last Duchess and The River God:

comp2

And another detailed comparison of The Ruined Maid and Singh Song!:

comp3

The Crucible – Planning a response

Although time is precious in the exam, it’s well worth spending 5-10 minutes creating a plan for your essay. Use that time to decide what your main points will be and choose the quotations to evidence these points.

Here is a plan we looked at in class. The introduction and first paragraph has been written. To revise, you could write up a paragraph for one of the other points. If you want to share. you can email it to me or post a comment at the bottom of this post.

How to plan:

Crucible planning

Example introduction and first point:

crucible paragraph

Three more points – revise by writing one (or all) of them:

crucible second

crucible third

crucible final

Language Paper Question 4: Comparing Language by Guled

Following on from our post about comparing language, Guled has kindly typed up his detailed and perceptive response to language in the articles about Lampedusa and Voting.

The headline in source 1 uses the phrase ‘just don’t care’. The use of such a phrase presents the writers opinion and of course it is controversial. This is used for effect and it certainly divides audiences. From the headline I can infer that the writer is older and their aim is to present their biased view to those who are reading making most old people nod in agreement and younger people wonder how someone comes to such a judgemental conclusion. Another interesting thing the writer does is present their opinion as fact, and they do this throughout the article and in the headline, this helps to strengthen the writers point and make it seem less of the opinion piece it is. In fact, there are hardly any real cold facts in this article just some hand-picked quotes.

In the source 3 the language used in the headline is more emotive and the writer does this through the use of personal pronouns such as ‘I’ and ‘my’, this makes the story the writer is sharing more intimate and personal. Moreover, the writer uses key words which each evoke a sense of sympathy, words such as ‘refugee’, ‘fleeing’, ‘surviving’ These all grab the readers’ attention and really helps Hakim Bello tell his story. The use of the parenthesis in the headline makes the reader pause. This pause is instrumental in creating a sense of suspense before relieving to us that he survived. Similarly, in both headlines they use it as an overview of the text. From the headlines in Sources 1 and 3, we get a sense of what the articles will be about. This is why headlines must be effective as they allow the reader to anticipate what is coming.

There is a use of rhetorical questions in the source 1, for example, ‘are we there yet’. The use of this phrase is used to patronise and belittle the young subjects of the article, mimicking what young children say. The use of such a rhetorical question definitely evokes a reaction from the reader, I, as a young person, already knew I wouldn’t like the article from the headline, but that rhetorical question definitely made me detest what this writer had to say. I am sure that for most older, richer and conservative people would laugh at this and think his use of a rhetorical question is genius. This division in opinion is surely what the writer sought to come out of this. That is not the only example of the writer in source 1 using rhetorical questions to belittle and patronise young people. They do it again as he discusses recent news in politics then says ‘oh, does it really matter?’ This again presents his biased opinion to the reader.

On the other hand, in source 3 the writer uses a rhetorical question once where he says ‘how is it my life here is worse than under Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship?’ This question hits quite deeply with the reader and makes them really contemplate the hardships this person had to go through. Unlike source 1 it is not used as a mockery to the subject of the article but rather the writer directly asking the reader ‘why?’. This coupled with the writers use of personal pronouns really makes the article deeply personal pronouns really makes the article deeply personal. Almost like a one-on-one conversation.

Going back to the use of facts in both articles, which I briefly mentioned when discussing the headline, I find that both articles make use of presenting some opinions as facts. This is seen in source 3 as the writer describes the Mediterranean passage to Italy as ‘the deadliest border in the world’. This is not something heard about the hundreds of people who were killed in this passage and has been domination the news. This is effective to the reader as it truly solidifies what the emotions the writer is trying to present.

In source 1 the use of facts is scarce. The writer makes an effort to use quotes that he undoubtedly chose to fit his narrative that the young are ‘highly unlikely to vote at all’ This in itself would create a divide among audiences with older people typically taking these as a representation of the millions of young people in this country, and the younger people disagreeing with his biased representation.