In what ways are the effects of fear presented in at least two poems about the First World War?

In what ways are the effects of fear presented in at least two poems about the First World War?

This is a title taken from the AQA teacher booklet, so is a title your teacher can give you as a warm up for the exam. I would certainly give it to my students, but the question is how do we answer it? What do we put in there to answer such a question as this?

Well, I believe the answer lies in the question. Imagine that you choose Futility, by Wilfred Owen and The Falling Leaves by M P Cole. How would you approach it? Would you write about the first poem in full and then the second one? That would be a good idea and if I was marking the exam paper, may get a C or possibly a B, but not much higher due to the complexity of the essay itself and how you have not approached the essay writing task fully.

You see, although the title does not actually say compare and contrast it wants you to do just that. Your mission, should you choose to accept [as the saying goes] is to write a structured and well written analysis of both poems. So, I ask again, how would you do it? There are probably several ways; take one idea that applies to both and one that are different and write about them both together. That would gain a decent mark and grade, if written correctly.

I believe I have a method for you that will destroy any A* markers set for you. It is one that I was taught before I did my GCSEs, way back when Noah was a lad, but still applies to this day. It is simple, effective and easy to follow. If you want, you can call it the 5 Point Plan. It goes something like this:

Introduction
Point 1
Point 2
Point 3
Conclusion

At the side of each one, add some ideas. Point 1 could be the difference between the two regarding the fear aspect. Point 2 might be the ways both poems are similar in showing fear etc. Point 3 might then be whether or not each one is successful, especially regarding the effect of fear on the reader. Then the conclusion would be which, in your opinion, is the better of the two [again, stick to the title here – see last comments in this piece regarding derailing].

When all that is done, write it and complete it. It will have been easier to write because of the planning and is easier than just waffling on from one idea into the next. With that in mind, here are a few notes on each section for you.

Introduction

In this very short, five lines of writing, stick to the question, introducing the two poems and their poet’s names, in full. Just say what they are about in brief and keep to present tense all the way through……Owen writes……not Owen wrote! And never ever put “I” or “my” in there. There is no need whatsoever to make it personal. Your introduction is what it says, a way of introducing the aims of the essay without actually stating them. Example below:

The poetry of Wilfred Owen and Margaret Cole at the time of the First World War share some similarities because of their styles of writing and the fact that the themes contained within are anti-war by today’s standards. ‘Futility’ and ‘The Falling Leaves’ show a sense of fear throughout and the effects that fear then has on the soldiers who fought, as well as the reader.

That is all you need really. You have mentioned the poet’s name in each case and the poems being covered without writing that horrible “today I am going to write about….” style of introduction, which tends to make the teacher/marker want to hurl to be honest. It is such an immature form of writing but the one above is so much clearer and better.

Point 1

Here you could write about the difference between the two regarding the fear aspect. Your writing has to be in present tense throughout and those horrible PEE chains need to be bang on from now on. Your planning will aid you here. The more annotation on your poem, the better, before you write on.

Point 2

Here the idea would be to write about the ways both poems are similar in showing fear. Again, PEE chains throughout [see other blog item on this] and in equal amount of detail as Point 1.

Point 3

This third point is where you write about whether or not each one is successful, especially regarding the effect of fear on the reader. Once again, PEE chains throughout this section. You may only have an hour for the whole thing, so 2 PEE chains in each section [P1, P2 and P3] would be enough, giving you 6 bits of evidence used and commented on, or explained in detail, by you.

Conclusion

Finally, there is a conclusion to do, without PEE chains, making comment from you as to which, in your opinion, is the better of the two [again, stick to the title here]. In this section do not write with “I think that…..” because once again, its immaturity will let you down. It is your opinion we want to see, so do it like this:

… it can be said therefore that Owen’s poem is the most effective because of the very nature of the language he uses, which is first hand after being in the trenches. Cole did not share in the horror of the Somme, so her poem is not as effective as that of Owen.

Now if you can do this, like this, and well, then you are in for an A* or an A, providing you can keep to the task in hand. The question is whether you will derail or not.

You are possibly thinking what is he saying now. Well, it is very easy to lose sight of the exam task/title. It asks you to consider certain things. If you do, then do not worry. But it is easy to waffle on, to have a brainwave of an idea on the spot, add it in and then find you are moving away from the exam title. I usually use the analogy of the train journey to explain this. Imagine you are going from one place to the next on a train. You get on at Point A and you expect to get off at Point B, but if there is a problem somewhere in the middle and the tracks have to be changed, you end up at Point C and are lost.

Writing an essay can be rather like this. Be very careful. Think!

Have a go now at planning and writing an answer to this task title at the top. You choose your poems to write about. Then by all means, post it on the Facebook page for this site.

RJ

Advertisements