There is some knowledge of the text applied to the task and there is a clear understanding of how the writer’s choices shape meaning – for example in considering the language of Prospero as ‘hard and strong’. However this is not developed into analysis nor does the essay move beyond the candidate’s generalised opinions. The focus though is on the ‘portrayal’ and there is a partial awareness of the dramatic methods: Ariel’s reaction influences the way the audience sees Prospero for example.
The reference to King Alonso hints at a wider knowledge of the text, but crucially here the candidate does not give a context for the passage nor is there any placing of the passage in terms of characterisation and plot. This limits the development of the essay to a series of thoughts and opinions which are partly repetitive and though these are clearly expressed if simple, there is little sense of an argument or a view unfolding here and the essay remains assertive in tone. Opinions are offered on for example different views of Prospero but these are not rooted in the language or dialogue sufficiently to be evidence of discrimination.
The literary features noticed such as Ariel’s ‘smooth, poetic lines’ are not analysed and the effects are merely asserted. Paying close attention to language and dialogue, write a critical appreciation of the following passage, showing what it contributes to your understanding of Fanny’s role and characterisation. (Chapter 15: ‘ “Fanny,” cried Tom Bertram”…considering who and what she is. ”’) The Austen essay, also on the passage, is somewhat weaker, mainly because there are fewer points relevantly made, though once again the essay is focused on the task.
There is less evidence of the wider knowledge of the text and the simple ideas on Fanny’s position in the Bertram household are neither developed nor fully supported. Again the absence of any contextualisation or placing of the passage hinders the development and the subtlety of Austen’s dialogue and language is not considered. For example, Aunt Norris’s comment is seen only in the way it shows Fanny’s position and there is no comment on what it reveals about Mrs Norris and Fanny’s role in the novel as the method through which Austen reveals the hypocrisy and wickedness perhaps of Mrs Norris.
This is characterised by the candidate as ‘distant, tense and cold’ because of the ‘hasty marriage’. But there is no more detailed context offered, so that the Mousetrap is ignored and the refused chance to murder the praying Claudius. There is some sense of exploring the language – the references to ‘you’ and ‘thou’ and the effect of the repetitions by Hamlet – but these do not develop into analysis of the effects. The candidate does offer other opinions on the relationship – what Gertrude is ‘scared of’ for example but these are not structured into an argument.
The oedipal interpretation is mentioned but not linked to this passage very effectively and though there is a sense of the wider text at times there is no clear explanation of why this passage is significant in terms of either the relationship or the characterisation or the development of the plot. Overall this is a strong Band 4 essay – quite detailed and aware of some of the literary features, but not able to develop a structured argument or showing much engagement with the subtlety of the language here or even with the dramatic nature of the events unfolding.
Discuss Dickens’s presentation of schools and ideas about education in Hard Times. The Dickens essay is an option (a) essay and presents a competently organised response to the task. Relevant knowledge has been selected and shaped to the task with a sound overview offered in the opening paragraph on which the candidate builds with close reference to the text, focusing on Gradgrind himself with an apposite quotation and a neat link to the ‘factories of Coketown’.
To develop the views offered the candidate discusses Bitzer in contrast to Louisa and sees the effect of the use of the ‘fire’ and the concept of ‘wonder’, thus showing sound understanding of Dickens’s methods and how meaning is created for the reader. The second part of the essay in focusing on ‘fancy’ and Sleary’s circus is a less obvious choice of material for this task but is successfully adapted to the task by concentrating on Sissy and her inability to adapt to the Gradgrind system.