Presentation on theme: "Writing a Critical Essay"— Presentation transcript:
1 Writing a Critical Essay Lamb to the SlaughterWriting a Critical Essay
2 Step 1 – The QuestionLook at the list of provided questions. These are SQA questions from the last six years. What do you notice that is similar about the questions that have been asked each year?
3 Step 1 – The QuestionWe are going to focus our attention on the 2011 question: “Choose a short story which you enjoyed because of your interest in an important character. Say how the writer makes the character interesting for you throughout the short story.” Like all the other questions it asks you to focus on character and specifically how the character is made interesting.
4 Step 2 – What to include in the essay Now we need to decide what information to include in our essay. Ask yourself the question: ‘What makes Mary an interesting character?’ Discuss in your groups and come up with as many ideas as you can
5 Step 2 - Things that make Mary interesting as a character These are the main areas we will focus on in the essay and these will form the basis of our main paragraphs:Her introduction – perfect housewife/expectant motherOur sympathy with her over Patrick - dialogueHer change – from wife to killer and change in attitudeHer covering of the crimePoint of view of the story – told with Mary as the main focus
6 1 - IntroductionYour introduction should introduce the main ideas of your essay and should be used as a starting point from which you will discuss your main ideas. It should include:The name of the author and the title of the short story.A brief sentence to describe the main point of the story.Reference to the question which allows the reader to understand what your essay is about and what it will contain.
7 Example Introduction“Lamb to the Slaughter” is a disturbing short story which was written by Roald Dahl in The story introduces the character of Mary Maloney, and she is made to seem interesting as she changes dramatically during the course of the story. Dahl’s use of techniques such as dialogue and point of view portray Mary in an interesting way throughout.
8 Your Main ParagraphsEach main paragraph should be a PEE paragraph which:Introduces the Point of the paragraph using a topic sentence.Provides an Example from the text of the technique/idea that you are discussing.Explains what the example shows you about the main theme of your essay (interesting character)
9 P1 - Our Introduction to Mary Say what Mary is like before Patrick comes in:Introduce the paragraph using a topic sentence that links to the question and mentions that she is an ideal housewife.Provide an example from the text that shows she is an ideal housewife at this point.Explain the quote that you have chosen and use a sentence at the end to say how it demonstrates that Mary is an interesting character.
10 Example P1At the start of the story Mary is portrayed as an archetypal housewife who is desperate to please her husband. Her house is ‘warm and clean’ as she wants it to be to his liking. Mary wants to be seen to be doing her duty as a housewife by keeping the house clean and tidy. She conforms to typical gender roles, meeting the expectation placed upon her that she provide a comfortable and clean home. We are also told that Mary was ‘waiting for her husband to come home’. This shows us that Mary’s life is lived on Patrick’s terms. She does not do things for herself, instead spending her days waiting for him to return from work. It seems that Mary is utterly devoted to her husband and is more concerned for his welfare than for her own. Initially Mary is interesting as we wonder why her commitment to her husband is so strong.
11 P2 – Our Sympathy for Mary This paragraph will focus on the dialogue between the two and how it helps us to feel sorry for Mary.Topic sentence – needs to highlight dialogue as important in showing character’s relationships.Use an example of Patrick’s negative speech.Explain how that makes us feel sympathy for Mary and as such makes her a more interesting character .
12 P2 - ExampleWhen we are introduced to Patrick the dialogue between him and Mary helps to inform us about their relationship. Patrick seems to be very blunt with Mary, offering her only brief responses to her questions and offers of assistance. For example, he replies simply “no” to her when she asks if he would like food, and his lack of manners and courtesy towards his wife make him seem a cold and distant character. Due to dialogue we begin to sympathise with Mary at this point in the story, and our feelings towards her make her a more interesting character.
13 P3 – Mary’s Change in Attitude Topic sentence – Should focus on stating that Mary is an interesting character because she undergoes a change in character.Changes from dutiful and loving wife to cold-blooded killer.Introduce a quote to demonstrate the change – remember to contextualise your quote.Explain what the quote tells us about Mary and link back to the question.
14 P3 - ExampleA further way in which Mary is portrayed as an interesting character is that she undergoes an extensive change during the course of the story. An example of the change in Mary can be seen straight after the murder. At this point Mary simply thinks: ‘All right… so I’ve killed him’. Initially, as we have seen, Mary is a dutiful, caring and model wife. However, Mary changes rapidly after she has killed her husband and becomes a calculating and deceptive murderer. It seems strange to us that Mary is able to switch so easily between such contrasting roles, and this makes her character even more intriguing. Mary’s changing character throughout the story makes her seem unpredictable and she is a far more interesting character as a result.
15 P4 – Covering the CrimeTopic sentence – Similar to the last paragraph this sentence will focus on Mary being more interesting as a character because of the way she avoids detection.Introduce a quote to identify how Mary covers her crime – you can use the alibi, rehearsing lines, destroying evidence, the way in which she convinces the police etc.Write about how your quote demonstrates that Mary is interesting. You may like to put a positive spin on it – say she is opportunistic and a victim; you may also want to blame her – say she is deceitful and dishonest. Either way is fine, but back up your points with evidence, and don’t forget to link back to the question saying how it makes her interesting.
16 P4 - ExampleThe way in which Mary disguises the crime she has committed makes Mary seem like a more interesting character as we see how resourceful and motivated she is. Mary invents an alibi for the murder by going to the shop to buy vegetables for dinner. The police believe Mary’s alibi, claiming that she “acted quite normal… very cheerful… impossible that she…”. Mary is convincing in her deceit of the police, and manages to persuade them that she has done nothing wrong. This aspect of Mary’s character is interesting to the reader as we see that in spite of her initial appearance Mary is in fact ruthless and scheming. She is able to lie her way out of trouble and we are left to wonder whether her actions are justified or not. It is Mary’s complexity that is most fascinating; we are uncertain whether she is a victim or a criminal and as such uncertain about how we should feel about Mary.
17 P5 – Point of ViewTopic Sentence – should identify point of view as one further reason Mary is interesting.Use quote to show where we are able to understand exactly what Mary is thinking or which shows Mary to be the most important character.Explain the quote, showing how point of view allows us to sympathise with/understand Mary’s actions and again link back to the question saying that this makes her a more interesting character.
18 P5 - ExampleThe story is told mainly from Mary’s point of view which makes Mary a more interesting character as we know what she thinks. Roald Dahl uses a series of rhetorical questions to show her thought process: “On the other hand, what about the child? What were the laws about murderers with unborn children?” These questions are ones that Mary asks herself. By allowing us to see what Mary thinks we are able to understand her better as we appreciate the reasons she makes the decisions she does. As a result Mary is far more interesting to us as we feel that we know her a little better.
19 ConclusionYour conclusion should do a number of things to bring your essay to a satisfactory close and ensure that you have answered the question fully.Again mention the name of the author and the title of the story.Summarise the main points that you have coveredProvide your opinion on the story and how you felt about it.Link to the question (mention interesting character) and ensure that you have answered the question.
20 Conclusion - Example‘Lamb to the Slaughter’ is a short story that presents to the reader a complex and interesting character. Roald Dahl has created, in Mary Maloney, a character with whom it is easy to sympathise, despite all of her wrongdoings. Through the use of techniques such point of view and dialogue we come to appreciate the reasons behind Mary’s actions. I enjoyed the story and feel that it offers a comment on the role of women. The author suggests that women should not be taken for granted and that they are fiercely independent. For these reasons the character of Mary Maloney remains interesting and the story still has the ability to shock and fascinate the reader.