Lit Paper 1 – June 2023

What a lovely brace of questions that came up in the exam this morning for my tutees, assuming that you did Macbeth and A Christmas Carol.

If you did then this might help you. 


How does Shakespeare describe Macbeth as a male character that changes?

The scene was where Macbeth finds out that the English Army are marching towards Dunsinane. 

As a tutor and semi retired (through disability) teacher of English who has taught GCSE for 20 years, covering everything from KS2 Y5 English, through the SATS at Y9, to Degree Level English tasks and exams, when I saw this on Twitter today, I rejoiced. 

My students were taught specifically to take a task where there is a section of text to analyse, to do it in a certain way. First, you analyse the given text. Then you start at the beginning of the story and work your way through the text, adding quotes in to prove your points, right through to the end. 

With points and evidence given, you then have to explain (using those lovely PEE chains) but a lot of students stop there. They make a point. They back it up with evidence.. They explain it…just the once. 

That is where the marks go down because the examiner and marker are expecting a development of your critical thinking to get you up in the higher grades. 

If a student is taught to use a PEED chain, then it becomes a point, then evidence, then explanation and then, two more things it could mean. 

How to do this will be covered in the next section. 

A Christmas Carol (Dickens)

How does Dickens describe the effect of greed?

The Christmas Carol extract was when Belle breaks off the engagement with Scrooge. 

Again, what a wonderful text to choose. Bravo to whoever chose that one as it is the one scene in the entire thing that really shows the extent of what happens when greed overrules life and love and nothing bust nastiness, in the character and epitome of Scrooge, results in someone that is cold and brutal to all that he meets. 

To show you what I mean, think of the text for a moment. You make a point. Scrooge loves money more than Belle. You use the bit where he says he is doing it for her and then you explain, saying how he cannot put her first in his relationship. But to add the extra two to develop your critical thinking, you could think what others in your class might possibly think. 

So 5 things are done. Not 3.

Point, evidence, explain, explain again and then add a final thought in, before you go to your next point. So, Scrooge loves money more than Belle. The text is where he says he’s doing it for her. Your thought is that he cannot put her first. Then, the other two ideas might be that his love for money is meant to make the reader think am I the same? (reader theory) and how this scene is a metaphor for how selfishness can destroy love in all aspects of life, if we let it. 

Suddenly, the depth of your paragraph and answer is so much better, has more depth and if you do this all the way through the essay, it also becomes twice as long as it would be, if you are using the famed and well taught  ‘PEE approach.’

I always tell my students when doing this to imagine me holding three fingers up and smiling, as if to say “make sure you’ve got your three explanations in there.”

I’m not typing this to make you think oh my God. I did it wrong. Entirely the opposite actually, for I am sure your answer will be fine and great how you did it, but for future GCSE students, this could be a way forwards. 

Let’s see what happens in late August, shall we?

But let me leave you with this, to see if any emotions of this went into your Christmas Carol essay earlier.