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Literature: Explorative essay (poetry)

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1 Literature: Explorative essay (poetry)
Follow these instructions for advice on how to write an effective comparative essay

2 Your title: Explore the ways in which two poets show their attitude towards human nature in the poems The Cockroach and Hunting Snake. Refer to examples from the texts for your evidence using PQC.

3 Examiner’s report, Literature paper 2010
The distinguishing mark of a really good response is what is referred to in the Mark Scheme as ‘‘clear critical understanding’’, i.e. a sense of why a writer chooses a particular word or image in order to create a particular effect. It was very pleasing to see how many candidates were able to look at language analytically and not only identify a particular technique or figure of speech but also comment on the effect created for the reader or audience.

4 How much should I write? This is an exam-style question, and you would therefore be expected to write solidly for 45 minutes under timed test conditions, but that is when you have PRACTISED all this! For this essay, aim to write 2.5 sides of handwritten paper (1.5 if typed) – approximately 6 paragraphs including a strong introduction and conclusion.

5 It is a PERSONAL RESPONSE that the examiners are looking for, but you must also include close exploration of how different effects contribute to meaning.

6 Before you start Write out the title, highlight the key words.
Choose your poems. Before you start writing, try to say for each one exactly what the relationship is between humans and the natural world. Find three or four good quotations from each. Why are these particularly good examples of how the writer explores this relationship?

7 Writing your introduction
Your introduction should make a powerful impression on the examiner. It should address the keywords in the question, and mention both the name of the poet and the title of the poem. Try starting with ‘in’. That way you are forced to make a point, e.g. ‘In Where I Come From by Elizabeth Brewster, the writer makes a powerful connection between…..(keywords)’

8 Literary techniques In films, directors can use sound effects or lighting to evoke a feeling from the audience. In the same way, writers employ figurative language and literary techniques. It isn’t interesting to comment on when these effects are used; focus instead on how it makes you feel, how it brings the poem to life for the reader.

9 Conclusion Don’t make any new points in your conclusion, and don’t quote from the poems. Consider the overall effect of both poems (think of your own, simple answer to the question at the start) Is it, in your opinion, effective? (say YES, by the way!)

10 For further help… EnglishBiz, Improve your poetry grades:
GCSE Bitesize, Comparing poems: GCSE Bitesize, Writing about poetry:

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