Charlotte Unsworth | Lover of literature.
Title: Charlotte Unsworth | Lover of literature.
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Charlotte Unsworth | Lover of literature. "A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames." - Analytical Catching Up Creativity Goals My writing PoetryFriday Publishing Reviews Teaching Writing process Love’s Philosophy: analysis and linked text ideas Wednesday, August 10, 2016 by Charlotte Percy Bysshe (“Bish”, apparently) Shelley is a Romantic poet – the capital R meaning not necessarily overcome with love all the time, but part of a group of poets who took a particular attitude towards life. They used a lot of natural imagery, thought and wrote about the excesses of emotion, and were often a little melodramatic. Shelley also has some extremely scandalous personal life-stories, which I’ve found great hooks for students! He was married to Harriet, when she was 16, and they had two children together before he abandoned her for Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin – also 16 at the time – after they’d met at Mary’s father’s home, where Percy and Harriet were frequent visitors. The tragic side Especially for those students who’ve read/are studying Frankenstein, it’s great to digress into the story of her writing Frankenstein and the holiday in Geneva. For this poem, though, it also makes Shelley a little bit more dubious – who is he writing for? Can we trust his apparently romantic (small-r deliberate!) nature or is there something a little unseemly in his persuasion here? This poem is all about persuasion – to summarise in one sentence: “If nature must be coupled up, then why won’t you be with me?” From the start, Shelley’s focused on the intermingling of nature – fountains, rivers, oceans all as one, the mountains kiss heaven, flowers grow together. Beginning with the statement of fact implies the lack of argument that he can expect – things are simply stated, unalterable. In many of the mingled elements, the items grow in size as they join together, symbolising the increased strength and power of the joined versus the single. In the first stanza, the elements are water and wind – transitory, moving, hard to get hold of – and often the feminine elements. In the second stanza, the more solid earthy “mountain” is summoned but, perhaps surprisingly, Shelley doesn’t move to the more masculine elements entirely. Instead, he focuses on the combination of the solid with the elusive – heaven, sunlight with the earth, moonlight with the more permanent sea. Is this Shelley being persuasive and charming, hinting that his love is the slightly mysterious element of light? Or is he using the elusive nature of the embrace to make a further comment on the difficulties of holding onto love? Despite Shelley’s dislike of religion – he was temporarily expelled from Oxford for writing a pamphlet titled “The necessity of atheism” – he’s still influenced by his time and there are repeated references to the divine, Heaven, spirit and so on (a different sort of atheism to the present, perhaps!) Again these further the persuasive argument, implying that their love is divine providence, or fate. Each stanza ends with a rhetorical question daring the lover to respond and argue – but we’re never permitted to hear the response. The ideas of masculine and feminine expressed in the elements are also present in the rhyme-scheme. Masculine rhymes end on a stressed syllable (river, mingle) whereas the feminine is the unstressed ending (ocean, earth). The combination of these is another subtly underlying hint that the two should be together. Gradually, the line endings become more masculine, creating a more determined sound as the poem reaches its conclusion. The sentence structure and punctuation too creates a sense of unity with the balance of the two stanzas, each stanza using semi-colons to prevent the sentences being split apart. Throughout, the poem is gentle and soft sounding; the sibilance and gentle verbs (mingle, clasp) with the euphony of their vowel-heavy sounds all present the sweet request: be with me. Teaching links: Poetry: If teaching the AQA Love and Relationships anthology for GCSE it would be interesting to pair this with “When We Two Parted” as another Romantic poet, and the two being such close companions in life. It also works well with Barrett Browning’s “Sonnet 29”, expressing the nature of love and using the imagery of the tree and vine entwined together to present the couple, compelled to be together in the same way as Shelley’s. Non-Fiction: Link this with non-fiction extracts from Shelley’s wife, Mary Shelley – the preface to her Frankenstein, maybe, or to her mother’s Vindication of the Rights of Women to explore the roles of feminine and masculine in the era. Or perhaps some letters from Shelley to give an idea of his character? Click here for some suggested non-fiction links on my Dropbox Love’s Philosophy: The fountains mingle with the river And the rivers with the Ocean, The winds of Heaven mix for ever With a sweet emotion; Nothing in the world is single; All things by a law divine in one spirit meet and mingle. Why not I with thine?- See the mountains kiss high Heaven And the waves clasp one another; No sister-flower would be forgiven If it disdained its brother; And the sunlight clasps the earth And the moonbeams kiss the sea: What is all this sweet work worth If thou kiss not me? Click here for the AudioPi podcast revision series I’ve written for the AQA anthology poems read more Related Posts Why colour matters: symbolism in literature Posted on Thursday, August 4, 2016 Planning to teach a poetry cluster: Christina Rossetti Posted on Friday, June 10, 2016 How to write brilliantly: Blogsync English Posted on Sunday, June 5, 2016 Revising poetry collections: comparison Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 Tags analysis GCSE poetry Share This Why colour matters: symbolism in literature Thursday, August 4, 2016 by Charlotte Towards the end of the summer term, I was teaching a lesson on “Your Shoes”, leading to monologue writing – it’s a nice one, usually provokes interest and some creative responses. But this time, one girl in particular was very frustrated by the shoe imagery and ended up exclaiming “how am I supposed to know that white means innocence?” It got me thinking about the use of literary symbols – what I’ve started thinking of as a literary shorthand – and the way that I often take for granted that students will see some of them. Not all, of course, but something beyond the sun=good, rain=bad pathetic fallacy, into the colours being used or the idea that nature is innocent, while cities can symbolise loneliness or destruction. Of course, when I started thinking about it, it made little sense to me! Students who read are likely to get it, but perhaps need it pointing out for it to become conscious. Students who don’t read have no reason to see it. And from experience they’re more likely to be the ones who complain about the “blue curtain” theory: I personally think it’s rare that they’re “just” blue. They don’t have to symbolise the character’s falling into despair, or the inner misery of the room. They might just tell you about the writer’s study window! There’s always a choice that’s been made and it’s part of our job as literary critics to figure out whether that choice is important. What do colours symbolise in literature? I’ve put some common meanings below – do add any more in the comments! White Purity – often formed as innocence, and sexual purity / virginity. An untouched, untainted colour. Because of this, often used to symbolise goodness – the white queen in The Wizard of Oz, for example. But white’s often worn by those trying to symbolise goodness, like the White Witch in The Chronicles of Narnia. Black Evil, death, sadness, mourning. grief. A complete loss of innocence, whether in the moral/religious sense, or in gaining knowledge of something (e.g. mourning – knowledge of death). Used in settings to create mystery and something sinister. Can often be used to hide things, secretive. In clothing, can represent elegance but likely to have some undertones to the character. Blue Usually calm and peaceful, rather than the more generically cultural “blues” of melancholy and depression, though it does depend on the shade and surrounding description. Often linked with water, which if blue – clear, crystal and clean – is usually cleansing and purifying. Some associations with Mary, who’s often painted in religious images as wearing blue, so can have connotations of virtue and piety. Brown Earth, nature and poverty. Frequently associated with lower status or poor characters, due to stereotypes about the types of clothing worn, the manual labour undertaken, and th brown coarseness of unrefined, undyed fabric. Brown can either be warm – earthy, rich, comforting, like freshly-rained soil, or melted chocolate – or murky, something on the edge of becoming black, something tainted. Green Nature, growth and vitality – the colour of grass, trees, spring and summer. Green is about new life, and rebirth. It’s also about endurance and honour (Gawain and the Green Knight) . Green’s more negative connotations include jealousy – Othello’s “green eyed monster” – and being inexperienced (being ‘green’, or new). In American literature, green can be the colour of money, and therefore greed. In English literature, green is often a supernatural colour, in part because of the associations with nature – fairies, magical creatures, spells, all hold a green tinge. Yellow / Gold Sunshine – a warm happiness is usually what comes to mind. Yellow also associates with gold, and its connotations of wealth, not only in the coins of many countries but in the value of gold itself as a relatively universal commodity. Particularly in older literature, yellow also symbolises sickness or cowardice (perhaps due to the yellowing of the skin due to jaundice, a liver disease, especially as “lily-livered” is an insult to a coward too). Read the Yellow Wallpaper for a chilling inversion of the colour! Purple Royalty, primarily – a throwback to the British sumptuary laws of the Renaissance era dictating that by law only the royal family could wear purple. Its meaning has ameliorated slightly to simply mean luxurious or decadent – a full bar of Cadbury’s! Purple also has some religious connotations, associated with some of the highest status bishops, the cloth used at the most celebratory times, as referenced in Rossetti’s poem ‘Birthday’. Red Sometimes love, but an angry and passionate, lustful love. Red is often the strongest colour, confident and ambitious but also seductive, wicked and tempting. Red has connotations of fire, burning bright and hot, and hell, linking it with sin. It’s also the colour of blood – hot blood raging, or damage done. The link with blood brings in representation of women through the menstrual cycle and the first blood of sex, linking again with sin – the original sin – and with rebirth, but in the messy, difficult, painful way rather than the calm renewal of green. Ways in: Start with a recall list – words or phrases associated with colours. Then, characters associated with or named for colours. Do any of these have additional symbolism? Give them the Harry Potter house colours – see article below – and ask what the colours indicate. Useful extracts to use when teaching colour symbolism: Description of Daisy Buchanan, The Great Gatsby (even in her name) The party scene, The Great Gatsby (a whole host of colours!) Jane Eyre in the Red Room (red!) Rossetti’s Birthday (purple, silver, white) Hardy’s Neutral Tones All available on my dropbox here If any students are still doubtful, then what about this article by J K Rowling on her use of colours in Harry Potter? read more Related Posts Love’s Philosophy: analysis and linked text ideas Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 Planning to teach a poetry cluster: Christina Rossetti Posted on Friday, June 10, 2016 How to write brilliantly: Blogsync English Posted on Sunday, June 5, 2016 Revising poetry collections: comparison Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 Tags analysis teaching Share This Beyond Levels assessment – our model for KS3 Monday, July 4, 2016 by Charlotte Assessment beyond levels – our approach Every teacher reading this pretty much knows the score with why this is a thing, so I won’t go into it again. Following Monday’s #engchatuk, I thought I’d share our model. Our working party involved all subjects, and we rolled the model out across all department areas in September 2015 – all using the same, thank god! – but I’m only going to cover the English implementation. If any other subject does want a look, I’ll happily provide details. It’s coming to the end of the first year now. Depth of understanding This is at the heart of what we’re trying to do – removing the numbers from assessments wherever possible. Primarily, this is because many students do one of several things: Label themselves – “I’m a six.” Limit themselves – only complete the level six work because, after all, “I’m a six”. Don’t actually get there – because they don’t see learning as a continuum, an ongoing experience or that hideous “journey”, and so they don’t do the level 5 work. Thereby missing out on the level 6, because there’s no solid foundation to what they’re doing. Don’t make connections between different skills, knowledge or even subjects. So we went for depth and quality of understanding instead: Deep, Secure, Basic, and Emerging, We argued about some language. Confident might have been better than deep, but you can be confident without reason… Some staff wanted Foundation, rather than basic but we decided it had connotations of exam tiers which we wanted to get away from. Instead, “the basics” were what we start with, and we develop from there. So Basic stayed put. We felt this not only gives us the quality of understanding, but it allows for a non-linear progression, and that’s something I feel very strongly about. Replacing levels with levels is pointless – why did you spend any time on it?! We have students who have a secure understanding of poetry, but their knowledge of Shakespeare is emerging. Their creative writing is basic, but their analytical writing is secure. At the beginning of a genetics topic in Biology, they all have emerging understanding but they can develop a deep knowledge but the end of the unit. Sadly then they’re back to emerging with the water cycle, but that’s the way it goes! Assessment – what, when, how Students receive formative feedback on their work. Teachers read work, comment on it, give them targets – because we all read, and all write, and know what to do to make a good piece of work – and then they deal with that feedback in various ways. We do frequent feedback – some short pieces and some longer, throughout their schemes of work. It’s not an end of unit test, it’s ongoing discussion about understanding. We have moderation discussions and take copies of examples, which we share with staff and students. The feedback comments often include something like “This shows a deep understanding of Bathsheba’s dilemma. Your analysis of language is secure and accurate.” It enables us to move students on, and to positively comment on their work while also drawing attention to the differences – they get the character, absolutely, but they need to work on identifying how that happens. Once a year – just recently, actually – each Key Stage 3 class has an end of year assessment. See below for comments on this one! When it comes to the dreaded ‘p’ word, we believe we can show students making progress because what they wrote this week is better than last month – look at their books. But, in addition, we also think if they are maintaining a secure level of understanding, then they’re improving – because our curriculum is organised so that the level of challenge and expectation increases through the year. It’s a difficult balancing act, and one we’re tweaking to get just right as we come to the end of the first year. The language is crucial Although we might complain about it, I actually like the mark-scheme’s ”confident”, “secure”, “some”. It’s easy to tell the difference, in my opinion as an English specialist. There is training to do – for new teachers and non-specialists in particular – in terms of expectation, but actually – it’s fairly easy to put three pieces of work in front of your and identify those things. In classrooms, it’s all about quality of understanding. The phrase “I’m deep” isn’t used (and not only because it sounds ridiculous). Instead, the teachers and students use “This shows a deep understanding”, “this is really secure.” What do students think? They’re very positive indeed. Most accept that learning isn’t a steady upward motion or flight path, or steps, and that they can be better at some things than others, and all can go up and down depending on what you have in front of you. Some subjects – particularly the numeric ones – have a harder time with comparison, and what did the person next to me get, and all of that. In English, they compare feedback and we overhear “so how did you get that from this line?” instead. So how does reporting work? Three times a year, we report two things to parents: “on track”, and “effort.” The “Effort” is fairly standard – a school-wide criteria based on attitude, homework, deadlines etc. At the end of the year, the final assessment is converted into a 7.8, 7.7 – the first number denoting their year group, the second denoting their grade. These at the moment are our best guesstimates, ranking the year group and looking at statistical GCSE predictions of where they should be given our historical cohorts. I don’t like that bit, but it’s necessary for reporting and behind-the-scenes tracking, so I forbear and continue to make my thoughts on the subject known! Next year The end of year assessment wasn’t as successful as we’d hoped, mainly because of the design of it, and it needs rethinking. The current discussion is on what we choose in terms of question styles. We won’t be spending five years drilling GCSE questions, so the KS3 sample materials are a non-starter. Our decision really is whether we go for an essay-based question, or a series of ordered questions. And how should we order those questions – running simply from basic to deep (identify, recall, apply, compare, evaluate, etc in terms of command words) or run mainly from secure to deep, and include some basic as we go through. I’d love to read some more about assessment design in the oodles of free time I have! I personally prefer the essay-style response, but that is often an all-or-nothing prospect, and I want these girls to get confident too. Then again, I love writing essays – maybe they will too! While some departments rewrote Year 7 and Year 8 at the same time, we’re working out way through – so the current Year 7 will move into Year 8 on the same system, and we’ll amend schemes of work as we work through them from September, alongside a redesign of the curriculum to increase rigour and breadth of knowledge. read more Related Posts Tags Share This Planning to teach a poetry cluster: Christina Rossetti Friday, June 10, 2016 by Charlotte When we’ve been teaching Rossetti this year, we’ve been preparing for the AS-level. We’re not doing that next year (switching to linear now every other spec has caught up and reformed!) but I think it’ll probably take a similar approach: Identify the poems that work well together in comparison and teach them alongside one another (in the new Y12, teaching them at key moments in their comparison text) Each ‘mini-unit’ of poems ends with a written assessment in timed conditions, in the class room. In a single lesson, I use a question/answer format, which usually guides students through a discussion exploring the poems and they make notes on it. i’l;l model the annotations in the first lesson but we do this an awful lot at GCSE so find it unnecessary at A-Level – it’s mainly to get them back into things after nearly three months off (!) and to model the detail I expect. This year, I also showed them my teaching notes – which turned into my revision guide when I realised I didn’t have enough space on the page to write everything! Some of my question prompts are on a shared Dropbox folder – I tend to use these as the starting point, and then go from there depending where the discussion takes us. Goblin Market This is a different proposition, to my mind, partly because of length and partly because it’s so very complex! We did a couple of mini-units/groups of poems, and then spent three weeks on Goblin Market – but could have spent a lot longer! We discussed it in a very similar way, including guiding them towards a more subtextual understanding, but by this point they were pretty good at reading into Rossetti.Then I gave each pair a presentation topic – also in the shared folder – and they had a lesson and homework to prepare. Topics included, among others: Interpretation as a discussion of addiction and mental health, with reference to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Lizzie Siddal (AO1: interpretation; AO2: FSL; AO3: CR’s own context) Presentation and interpretation of character: Lizzie (AO1: interpretation; AO2: FSL) Interpretation as a comment on economics and female position in society (AO1: interpretation; AO3: Victorian context) Effects of rhyme, rhythm and narrative form (AO2: FSL) The importance of sisterhood and female relationships with one another (AO1: interpretation; AO2: FSL) Where does it sit in relation to other Victorian fantasy, and children’s fantasy? (AO1: interpretation; AO3: Literary context) Once you’ve done Goblin Market, it’s a great opportunity to review and bring it into the other comparisons, because it really does fit with everything. Poems I’d put together: Presentation of women No Thank You John From the Antique Maude Clare Winter: My Secret Religious doubt / faith A Birthday Good Friday Shut Out Twice Uphill Death, loss and grief In the Round Tower Remember Song When I am Dead Echo Desire and sex Soeur Louise de la Misericorde Goblin Market I’d also single out some particularly important (for me) images or forms e.g. the door and other liminal imagery; nature, particularly birds, the monologues. Other resrouces, including assessments are here on Dropbox read more Related Posts Love’s Philosophy: analysis and linked text ideas Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 Why colour matters: symbolism in literature Posted on Thursday, August 4, 2016 How to write brilliantly: Blogsync English Posted on Sunday, June 5, 2016 Revising poetry collections: comparison Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 Tags analysis planning Rossetti Share This How to write brilliantly: Blogsync English Sunday, June 5, 2016 by Charlotte Ok, so I’m a little behind, but I do like the blogsync idea – a team of twitter teachers all blogging about the same topic each month. I’m pretty sure “great writers” was May, but hey it was half-term. This time around, it was all about how to create “convincing and compelling” writers. In the teaching of writing it’s easy to condense writing into frames and acronyms – PEE, PEA, PEAL, PETAL, WETRATS and so on. While these do have some merit, in making sure students understand basic paragraphing, I’d argue that by the time students get to thinking about GCSEs they should have that basic structure down and be starting to play around with it. I’m focusing more here on analytical writing, rather than creative. The question is, what is “convincing and compelling writing”? For me, it’s writing that sings of enjoyment. It’s not uncommon for me to write as a target “have more fun with your writing”, and I’m very lucky indeed to work in a school where that’ But how do you convey that enjoyment – or, in the case of some students, fake it. I know some students hate English and don’t see the point, or adopt a very workmanlike, head-down and gritted teeth approach. But even they can write convincingly. I have a feeling each of these could be a blog-post in themselves, but here goes, in brief: How to write compellingly: Be right Nothing worse than reading an essay and thinking “mmm, no.” The old phrase “there’s no wrong answer in English” is, ironically, wrong. What you’re saying has to be reasonable and come from the text, or it doesn’t really matter how you’re writing. Be clear and develop a line of argument across the whole piece Paragraphs that lead from one thought to another, and guide the reader are essential. Clear topic sentences and deliberate organisation are key. Write a thought-provoking and challenging introduction Answer the question in an inventive, slightly off-beat way if you can. If not, then use something a little out of the ordinary – a quote, a contextual reference, a question. Something to make me sit up and take notice. Be expressive, and interesting Use great language. Not just literary terminology,although that’s important, but language that is precise and detailed. “Melancholy” is so much more expressive than “sad”. I ban the words “positive” and “negative” because they’re far too vague – “positive” could be happy, joyful, calm, optimistic, loving, and a whole host more. What do you actually mean? Have a dynamic conclusion that reaches beyond the question/topic Write tightly, and use an academic voice. The best practical advice I’ve come across for improving work has been David Didau’s piece on lexical density, which I’ve used over and over again, across key stages 3-5. There’s something about focusing students on writing to a word limit which really forces them to cut the waffle, and to write something not only worth reading but enjoyable to read. # Students really take hold of it as well; they can see the difference in their own writing, and it can get beautifully competitive, especially when they’re trying to beat my reduced word count! So, to practically develop convincing and compelling writers: Practise introductions to questions – it’s also a great springboard into discussion to use this practice as a starter and develop a line of argument from there Give lots of vocabulary choices. Word lists, interpretive as well as terminology-based, to ensure that students have the language that they need for a unit. Require that they use it Opportunity to redraft with a precise goal – reducing the word count by 30% and not losing any meaning, for example, is often very focusing. Give students practical guidance on what to include or avoid Practise choosing meaningful elements – identifying the most significant phrase in the paragraph/chapter/novel can be very rewarding, getting students to justify their choices. It’s also great revision Practical tips for students: Use the writer’s name – it helps focus on technique, and how the writer is deliberately working Don’t use the word “quote” or “this suggests” – it forces you to embed quotations more fluently, rather than breaking up the flow of the sentence. Using colons, dashes or brackets to embed quotes can be more productive Never define or describe – examiners know the terminology; if they don’t, they can look it up. Assume that the examiners know what happens and when. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it shows engagement and enthusiasm for the text Ban vague phrases including positive/negative, creates a picture in the reader’s mind, makes the reader want to read one. These don’t tell me anything. E.g. a writer uses a description, not to “create a picture” but to suggest the serenity of the setting, indicating the contrast with the character’s inner turmoil. What is its function in the text? It’s the blue curtain dilemma. Are the curtains blue because the character is so depressed and miserable? If they’re just blue, then why would you bother wasting your time writing about them? Pick something meaningful. Further reading: David Didau on lexical density Kerry Pullen on nominalisation Caroline Spalding’s quote funnel: Xris32 also has really practical lesson-based ideas for what to do to improve writing read more Related Posts Love’s Philosophy: analysis and linked text ideas Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 Why colour matters: symbolism in literature Posted on Thursday, August 4, 2016 Planning to teach a poetry cluster: Christina Rossetti Posted on Friday, June 10, 2016 Revising poetry collections: comparison Posted on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 Tags analysis blogsync writing Share This 5 tips for the week before the Hamlet/Rossetti exam (OCR) Monday, May 16, 2016 by Charlotte There’s no doubt about it – revising can be stressful. But there’s some crucial things to do in the week before the exam. School-run revision sessions can be helpful but think: why are you really going? Many students turn up to mine for reassurance – nice to have, but not the best use of their time. If there’s a question you really need answering, is it possible to get an email or message without adding the journey time? think about how you’re spending your time at this crucial stage. Here’s my suggestions for a top revision week: Monday: Re-read your past essays. If you haven’t already, get yourself a list of key quotes (good for several occasions/arguments), and make a cue card for each text. Tuesday: Re-read the play. Or at least watch a good version of it. You need it fresh in your mind. Wednesday: Re-read the Rossetti poetry. Use a few techniques from my post on revising poetry collections to check which ones you need to read again. Thursday: Mind-map some responses. Use a list of past questions, and work through a few. Write the opening few lines, and mind-map your ideas. Don’t panic if there’s one you’re not sure about. Put the plan to one side, look at your text. How can you make this question work for you? Friday: The exam! Avoid other students – everyone will have different quotes, and different ideas, and that’s ok. Just go somewhere quietly, preferably having eaten a good breakfast around an hour before (no sugary cereal – you don’t want to crash mid-way through!). Read through your cue cards slowly. it’s just a reminder – you already know this. With about ten minutes to go, have a little walk – just around the building or field if you can. Go quietly to the exam hall, and repeat – you know this. This is what you’ve been working for. Let’s see what you can do. Check out my revision guides for Hamlet and Rossetti, aimed at the OCR specifications. read more Related Posts Tags Share This Revising poetry collections: comparison Wednesday, April 27, 2016 by Charlotte I always prefer to have ideas-based comparisons for my analytical work. Trying to get a very features-driven comparison only, in my experience, leads to muddled answers. Either you’re trying to force a comparison and identify a technique that’s not really of any use, or you end up trying to say more about it than you actually can. It’s far, far more effective to have a comparison based on what the writer is trying to do. So when it comes to poetry revision for GCSE and A-Level, isolating some lines and really focusing on the ideas behind them is what we’e focusing on in a lot of detail. Take this example from the GCSE AQA Anthology, for example: Tone: Bitterness about relationships. “But sister Maude, oh sister Maude/Bide you with death and sin” – Sister Maude “I’m one of your talking wounded /I’m a hostage, I’m maroonded” – In Paris With You Exploring the tone or emotional mood of a poem is also a great way in – starting with these lines, and trying to explore possible stories before reading the rest of the poem, can really work well. When it comes to revision, this very focused approach can help with close, ideas-based comparison. These sentences both feel angry – but they don’t have any techniques in common. if you were trying to fit a technique to the first line, you’d probably end up with a point about repetition, – but here, focusing on the bitterness is more productive. Of course, then you can talk about technique. The repetition in the first line is one of the reasons it sounds bitter – the angry accusatory tone as she addresses her sister, the slight disbelief in it too. but then, you can go much further – the italicisation of you showing us her voice’s inflections, the finality of the last words being “death and sin”, dooming her sister to hell for her interference in the relationship. In the second line, the bitterness is still there but instead of expressive anger, it’s masked under this playfully ironic language. The “talking wounded”, as he’s expounding on his broken relationship to a new partner, uses the play on “walking wounded” as he realises he’s said too much, Then there’s the light-hearted rhyming of “maroonded” – where he’s still isolated, and bitter about the ending of a relationship, but he’s trying in this new conversation to put it behind him, whereas the speaker in Sister Maude is so wrapped in bitterness she can’t ever get over it. So, practical revision tip? Start by identifying the tone and emotion of the poetry. Then, select a very specific line that creates that – those can be what you focus on, and explore in detail. With the OCR Rossetti collection for A-Level, a similar approach works very well – and helps with memory, too! You can select key lines from the poems: Idea: Defiance – women authoritatively holding their own views “You know I never loved you, John” (No Thank you, John) “Suppose there is no secret after all, /But only just my fun” (Winter: My Secret) “White and golden Lizzie stood, Like a lily in a flood” (Goblin Market) Here, all three women are defiant against something seeking to control them – the male suitors in the first two poems, and the goblins, symbolic of the patriarchal system as they attempt to rape Lizzie with their fruits. In the first, the speaker is adamant and stands her ground with a firm declarative, the use of his name a firm and unwavering rejection, while the second is, like the rest of the poem, more playful as the female speaker teases the listener and refuses to reveal what her secret is. The “suppose” gives the possibility that there is no secret at all, and the fun is in the tormenting. Lizzie, unable to speak as the goblins press their fruits against her mouth, is unable to have the defiant voice that the first two speakers have – but she is able, nonetheless, to offer resistance, perhaps a critique from Rossetti of a society which prizes the vocal over the quiet, particularly as she refused to engage in political acts such as signing the petition for suffrage. Lizzie’s unspoken resistance is no less firm, no less successful; is Rossetti perhaps implying that there are many ways to be defiant? If you’re studing Rossetti for A-Level, check our my revision guide, with sample pages, here. read more Related Posts Love’s Philosophy: analysis and linked text ideas Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 Why colour matters: symbolism in literature Posted on Thursday, August 4, 2016 Planning to teach a poetry cluster: Christina Rossetti Posted on Friday, June 10, 2016 How to write brilliantly: Blogsync English Posted on Sunday, June 5, 2016 Tags analysis poetry Rossetti Share This Great essays: The killer introduction is a must Wednesday, April 20, 2016 by Charlotte Just a VERY quick one – most of a musing, really. Having spent the day moderating coursework – aka reading All The Essays – it is so clear that the great introduction is so important. It creates an argument, it sets the tone – it proves that you know what you’re doing. It doesn’t make up for an essay that doesn’t deliver on the introduction’s promise. But it sets the expectations – and then it’s up to you to prove them. What about the difference between these: “In Soeur Louise, Rossetti explores the role of desire in relationships using language and structure. She has two opinions: that desire is appealing and seductive, and that it can also destroy.” “Rossetti’s Soeur Louise is typically contradictory when it comes to the character’s expression of desire. Like many of her poems it explores the passionate attraction of romantic desire, but also the destruction and moral “mire” it can create, leaving only ash and a turn from the earthly to the divine.” Both, in essence, say the same thing – and the first is competent and could lead to an accomplished essay. The second has more of an overview with the “typically” comment, but [practically – they are the same: the poem is ambiguous. Yet which would you rather read? The second, for me, is far more convincing- the interpretive language, the understanding of the type of destruction. Have fun with your writing – make it sound awesome, and playful, and entertain the examiner as well as telling them what you know! read more Related Posts Love’s Philosophy: analysis and linked text ideas Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 Why colour matters: symbolism in literature Posted on Thursday, August 4, 2016 Planning to teach a poetry cluster: Christina Rossetti Posted on Friday, June 10, 2016 How to write brilliantly: Blogsync English Posted on Sunday, June 5, 2016 Tags analysis Share This Buy my revision guides on Christina Rossetti, Hamlet, and Mister Pip Buy Now Hamlet Revision Guide for OCR 2016 £5.00 Christina Rossetti: Selected Poems Revision Guide £5.00 Mister Pip GCSE Revision Guide 2016 £2.50 Join my mailing list, get freebies! 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