Aims We are going to look at how to structure an essay Making sure that you answer the question consistently
Suggested Planning Process Choose a question Write your first sentence Write four topic sentences. If necessary rewrite these until you get them right Decide how you will conclude Decide which quotes, scenes, speeches fit your argument
Question Choose a play in which a central concern is clarified by the contrast between two characters. Discuss how the dramatist’s presentation of the contrast between the two characters adds to your understanding of this central concern.
Answer The play Othello by William Shakespeare is defined by the conflict between two completely contrasting characters: the virtuous Othello and the evil Iago. This clarifies the battle between good and evil which is central to the play.
The opening act firmly establishes Iago as a spiteful and evil character. Deceitful - “I am not what I am” Hiding, cheating, lying “I am worth no worse a place” Jealous - “twixt my sheets He has done my office” Crude - “an old black ram…” Filled with hate - Love “is merely a lust of the blood and a permission of the will” (1.3)
In stark contrast Shakespeare portrays Othello as a man of honour and affection. Loving - “I love the gentle Desdemona” Like Iago, respected - “noble Moor” Open and honest - “Not I I must be found: My parts, my title and my perfect soul” Respectful - “Most reverend signiors” Admirable - “far more fair than black” While Iago is filled with hate, Othello is staking his happiness on love: “My life upon her faith”
When the conflict between the characters reaches its height the audience sees how Iago’s manipulation affects Othello’s virtuous character.
The climax of the play finally clarifies the battle between good and evil by making the audience sympathise with Othello while feeling revulsion at the actions of Iago.
So, in Othello Shakespeare’s skilful characterisation clarifies the conflict between good and evil at the heart of this play.
Repeat the process Choose a question Write your first sentence Write four topic sentences. If necessary rewrite these until you get them right Decide how you will conclude Decide which quotes, scenes, speeches fit your argument
Question 2007, Q3. Choose a play in which a character makes a crucial error. Explain what the error is and discuss to what extent it is important to your understanding of the character’s situation in the play as a whole.
Question 2007, Q3. Choose a play in which a character makes a crucial error. Explain what the error is and discuss to what extent it is important to your understanding of the character’s situation in the play as a whole. In William Shakespeare’s Othello the title character makes the fatal error of trusting the wrong person: he believes the lies of Iago rather than believing in the faithfulness of his wife, Desdemona. This is vital as it is this mistake which leads to his jealousy and ultimate downfall.
The audience is clear from the outset that it is a massive error to trust Iago. “I am not what I am” From the outset Shakespeare uses dramatic irony to show the gap in Othello’s understanding
It is clear that Othello should put his faith in Desdemona.
Act 3 Scene 3 is the turning point where we realise the consequences of Othello’s misplaced trust. In the climax of the play Othello realises how huge his error has been.
2010, Q2 Choose a play in which a central character experiences not only inner conflict but also conflict with one (or more than one) other character. Explain the nature of both conflicts and discuss which one you consider to be more important in terms of character development and/or dramatic impact.
Opening In William Shakespeare’s Othello the title character is torn apart by conflict: with the Machiavellian Iago who creates a further conflict between Othello and his wife, Desdemona. This in turn, brings about Othello’s inner conflict, between the reasoned, loving man he aspires to be and the enraged, jealous murderer he becomes.
Conflict with Iago The play immediately introduces us to the conflict between Iago and Othello. However, the tragic hero is completely unaware of this.
Conflict with Desdemona However, Iago’s scheming brings about a clash between Othello and Desdemona.
Inner conflict Othello’s struggles are shown in his own confusion. “When I love thee not, chaos is come again” “I think my wife be honest, and think she is not; I think that thou art just, and think thou art not”
The climax of the play makes clear the tragic inner conflict which Othello faces between his love and his overpowering jealousy.
Essay Questions - Drama These questions come up, in slightly different forms quite regularly: Key Scene – climax, tension, character development Character – in conflict (inner/outer), flawed, making a mistake, in difficult circumstances, obsessive Relationship – romantic relationship which is troubled, conflict Contrasting characters Themes – sacrifice, courage, integrity
2006, 4. Choose a play in which an important theme is effectively highlighted by one specific scene or incident. Explain how the theme is explored in the play as a whole and then show in detail how the chosen scene or incident effectively highlights it.