Essay Structure for English Literature- simple, twist, meta

well I wanted to show an idea that I’ve had a bear si structure that I think will work for English teacher across multiple exam boards and was in response really to noticing something that a lot of my students were doing which meant that they were kind of getting stuck at C grades when when they really deserved to get more and they generally know the text very well but no the quotations very well they’d be able to talk about context but they were kind of struggling to answer questions in an interesting in your way and there’s one way I’ve got what you sort of conceptualized that which hopefully you can use and sort of carry forward so I’m just going to draw some shapes I have my Microsoft Paint there probably are more technical ways of doing this but higher group in the 90s a normal way around paint so I’m going to draw some shapes here okay so they’re not massively neat but you will see they’re what I’ve got is kind of three horizontal squares and three vertical squares what we noticed essentially was a lot of my students wrote essays that kind of looked like that so if the question was on I don’t know power in in King Lear they’d either do this vertical version which was okay here’s some power I’ve noticed some power so I’ve done a kingly it has some power here and here’s some power that he has and I found the power and I’ll talk about the power and I’ll talk about the love test and as a crown and that’s some power and then they’d move on to some more power and say oh well goneril and regan i’ve got power here and there’s some power and look there’s some power and there’s some evidence of that power and Oh King James would like that and here’s some power and then have a third point that was I don’t know he is Edgar at the end of the play and oh look he’s got power and there’s some power here and is it along each other that’s some power essentially I’m making the point there it was three kind of disconnected points that were relevant that evidence they had context but they were essentially just spotting some power and those three boxes could have gone in any order there was no real sort of central argument to them another approach that other students when is this three horizontal boxes here which is kind of a different version of the same issue and what they do is they go well I know over here that there’s this really good courage to talk about all this really good theme to talk well for example and that all you can talk about the Shakespearean Wheel of Fortune no no that’s a really good thing and I’ll talk about that we need a fortune and I’ll link it to power so you know I don’t know characters start low and then they climb walk like Edgar and then they fall like Leah falls and then they’re the bad guy gets gets killed in a cathartic ending and that’s the Wheel of Fortune and I would look this payroll because I’ve got a sparrow in the middle but he doesn’t at the end and I know over here the fool is a thing and this fool’s license and that’s a thing that we get in in King Lear so I’ll talk about the false license for a bit and all sigh all guess what the fall has got power because he’s got four slices but he doesn’t have real power because he’s a fool and then I’ll talk over here and I’ll talk about Ivan I’m women and women have got some power and the book but then also they don’t have power has gone around and Regan take Lee as power but then they die so they don’t have power essentially it’s three kind of disconnected points and you just sort of tenuously link in them to power whatever the question had being if the question was conflicts those people would have still written about the fool and the wheel of fortune and the women just about how those things were conflicted if the question was about a change in world they’d write about the wheel of fortune and the fool and the women and just try and link it to that so it was a different part of the same problem really disconnected points that could have done in any order that in this case we’re continuously linked to the question and I think if you do either of those things there’s probably a limit to the grade you’re gonna get you probably going to be around about a c-grade possibly a loan be dependent on quality of what you actually write and then I was thinking more what does a good as I do what what does a really good essay do that might get a little bit higher and what I found was that basically it looks like this he looks like a triangle with an arrow in the middle okay what it is basically he said he’s one whole argument that progresses right the way down and like a triangle it starts narrow it starts by kind of going for the obvious surface level stuff not necessarily simply stick and but the stuff that you would first think of the stuff that most students will talk about but a good essay acknowledges that then he moves on to a wider point avoiding today it may be links to context or what Shakespeare is trying to achieve or what he’s saying about society and then lower down again each perhaps stars a little bit more meta theatrical it goes on to a deeper level it thinks about what is Shakespeare saying about literature itself about theatre what are the points he’s making to the audience how he’s they’re all like the characters okay so a better som power would start really narrow on how really just plucked a pair out of the air and I’ll do it under the text in a second you could start an area to go right what’s the most obvious way of talking about power but it would acknowledge that was obvious and I don’t know you might perhaps look at King Glee as having his power stripped away as the play goes on and it might start at that point but it would acknowledge acknowledge sorry that that was a really you know straightforward point in many ways you know on first glance we might see this play as being one about King Lia’s powers he’s he’s wrongly stripped away as the old world crumbles and essentially this is a story of one man losing his power okay and that might be a fairly straightforward opening you might link to King James unite in the kingdom whereas Laird avoids it you might link to the order of a fatal flaw you might link to the storm scene as Lee against weak you know that that’s all the IR to than an IR three that go in but essentially it’d be a fairly straightforward point but on the knowledge that it was a straightforward point and then you might move down a bit to the next level and you might think okay socially on a wider scale how could we sort of twist that how could he turn it on its head and I don’t know perhaps could you not argue that actually lea gaining some power he gained into actually the power of insight as this as his play goes on you know his madness brings him a great deal of insight Cordelia dies at the end so you know in some ways he’s he’s totally powerless Ian’s of lying on the on the ground and he actually has some weird form of power you know if you believe in in in religion as as many of the Jacobean audience would well then actually she’s been she’s been raised up you know hereby going to heaven by being this good female she’s been raised up kind of higher than any other character in the play you know the play ends with Leah weeping over Cordelia’s body we could actually argue that that’s a reversal was covering rutter argues that the reversal of the pietá the image of the Virgin Mary weeping over Christ well if Cordelia’s Christ and she has parish she’s kind of foreshadowing a new world so you know we could hear perhaps links The Fool you know how in the world of the play characters who are powerless often are those who have the most power and then you might go down again and think well what do Shakespeare sound about the theater himself and I think by getting onto this level you think well I wish aches be unlike some of the characters or how were the audience like some of the curry doesn’t if you’ve just come from a point that talks about those who were powerless on the face if it actually have the most power more widely could we not argue here that Shakespeare’s exactly the same he’s got false license he’s calling out Jacobi in society and yet he can’t do that to open the King James is going to be watching some of his plays son Shakespeare like Mac argues he’s actually this this fool like character who is powerful and powerless we could perhaps link to the audience what is Shakespeare saying to the audience he’s Cordelia’s death actually saying she’s not part of this world just yet the world isn’t ready for this sort of character that actually this Wheel of Fortune needs to keep turning and actually Cordelia’s broken out of the bounds of the play that actually in terms of tragic structure King Lear has to die and but in terms that flipped ending that O’Toole talks about this one expected second ending that throws us off our guard each Shakespeare sort of showing essentially that this play is trying to break out of the bounds of its own tragedy yeah that actually Shakespeare’s power he’s in is in for shudder in our later form of drama and then as we’re watching this play now was a more modern audience maybe Shakespeare’s ahead of his time maybe he’s talking directly to us maybe he’s waiting for a time when characters like Cordelia are ie ball M to break out of their you know strictly domestic Jacobi enroll and then maybe actually Lea’s madness isn’t a madness it’s him straining out of his social construct he’s he’s trying to embody a lighter form of theatre that Shakespeare can’t to him and straightaway we’ve got an essay then that develops each paragraph links the one that comes before it and it becomes more complex as it goes and if we try that with another text let’s think of it I don’t have a streetcar a streetcar named desire and a question that comes up a lot in a fairly straightforward way is something like illusion and reality okay and what people do is you this way would be they would go I don’t know here’s some illusion I found some illusion because Blanche believed illusion and suddenly believes in reality and then they go down here and there talk about oh here’s some more illusion and some more reality I don’t know blunting wishes relationship blanche gives the illusion of being one way actually the reality is that she’s something a little bit different then they might talk about the end of it the illusion of reality I don’t Stella maybe Stella believes at the end that something hasn’t raped her sister really he has okay but basically what you’ve done is you’ve failed three forms of illusion of reality or you might do what this one does you might go over the costume Chelsie lusion reality could blind jesting boy but really she’s not this virginal character she she pretends to be you might talk about lighting you know the light him and sometimes he’s ultimately realistic as a play goes on it becomes more illusory and you know sort of debating boy that might be maybe because Blanche is losing her mind then you might talk about the set and the use of the fire escape and the illusion perhaps the distillery’s is above Stanley but the reality that she keeps falling down but again it’s just separate disconnected points that tenuously link to the question how could you in a more interesting way well again you start obviously obvious part of this applying the illusion in reality well Blanche is representing illusion Stanley is representing reality I guess is the obvious way of seeing it but you would acknowledge that’s a really straightforward way I’ve seen the play you’d acknowledge the the you know on first glance we might feel like that but but perhaps it’s maybe not quite that simple you might then turn it on his head and you might use the fact that actually at the end of the play still there is living a lie and we could argue actually that Stanley’s life is built just as much an illusion as Blanche’s is and in fact you could argue surely that Blanche when for example in scene sixty votes are always at the audience when at the end he talks about the tarantula arms she’s very aware of the reality she’s very aware that the southern belle is a role that that she plays she’s actually more aware of the reality you could argue than any other character in the play similarly Stanley who can acknowledge his weakness Stella who goes on living a lie at the end of trapped ironically on a fire escape but they’re not escaping they’re still stuck in this illusion and then if you want to go to a more meta theatrical level well how were the audience like these characters well the audience are like Blanche in the sense that we leave the play at the end step Blanche leaves a stage the other characters are stuck there these Williams all ultimately saying that that we need to call out the illusion at the heart of American society in the 40s this idea of the American dream that he want big illusion that actually Blanche has got it right Blanche’s madness represents the fact that this society is crumbling could you argue that perhaps Williams himself is favoring a different form of reality as the play goes on Blanche says I represent what ought to be the truth not what really is the truth and that’s exactly what Williams to us by using plastic theatre he gradually removes the really sir suffered by the end of the play we have flashing images we have jungle noises we have this very illusory style but actually what he’s doing there as Blanche say is he’s showing what ought to be the truth he’s showing the deeper truth the deep contradictions at the heart of American society so in this more meta theatrical way could we not argue that ultimately Williams is using what appears to be illusion to actually make the audience question those things that they just see us are simple truths simple realities that the American Dream is a positive thing that men should be a certain way after the war that women should not be promiscuous all of those things a question by Williams and that’s how we that’s how we we take it down for atonement hard times finally entrapment was a question that a lot of my students have answered not massively well and you know over here they’ll find some entrapment I don’t know the schoolroom at the start of hard times the hospital where brought any kind of an end to play then they’ll find a bit more entrapment Stephen in the mineshaft in in hard times Emily Tallis in a bad day in a bedroom in Atonement then they might find a little bit more briny being trapped in the nursery in a childhood and I don’t know either being sort of stunted at the end of hard times oh this we’ll look at it here they look well you know I don’t know the structure so I was in treatment because at home has got a very circular structure and hard times it ends without any progress being made they might move answer here and talk about the settings a school room at the mineshaft the nettles for Briony and the more then look at a third idea here don’t have the language the symbols might look at key symbols a shelving treatments okay as I say the mines one that comes in whereas the circus would be the opposite what does a more interesting aside a well it starts straightforward okay on the face of it these are both novels betting Trotman bronies trapped in a childhood the children in hard times of trap because actually ironically they don’t have a childhood they’re not allowed a child they’re not allowed to wear to have that that freedom and then you might talk about the schoolroom and the mineshaft and all sorts of different things then you could wore it in that oh and think about okay what what is what our Dickens and McEwan ultimately say you know you’re my sort of twist it on his head and turn things around because actually could you not argue that in a weird way although abrini appears to progress him in Atonement it kind of end to be the way she started you know she said she’s wanting to redraft this novel you could argue that she she doesn’t escape in any sense at all she goes back to her childhood in hard times you could actually argue that Dickens gives us a clear reason to change things and that would lead on to your third point then in terms of what are the author’s trying to do with their novels well surely McEwen by ending with the trials for Arabella is showing that ultimately we’re just like Brian II we just want a happy ending we don’t care that we stuck in it that’s just what we want whereas Dickens as one of our students had brilliantly ticking sets the reader free Dickens ends the novel with dear reader he tells us how to put things right he tells us how to break out of our entrapment so again it’s a progressed argument that Boyd and so it as it goes and try many texts hopefully it will help you you know form a more consistent and clear argument as you go

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