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It’s time your conclusions got the attention they deserve! So grab a massive piece of chocolate, a glass of water and prepare to be taught about the beginning of the end (of your essay, that is).
Having a rushed conclusion is like forgetting to lock your car after an awesome road trip- that one rushed decision could jeopardise the whole experience for your assessor. A mediocre conclusion is the same as powering through a 500 metre race then carelessly slowing down seconds before the finish line! Dramatic comparisons aside, the way you choose to end your text response either leaves the marker with a bad taste in their mouths or increases your chance of hitting a home run. On the other hand, if you’re feeling discouraged by how your essay has shaped up to be, having a killer conclusion could set you up for a pleasant surprise.
5 Tips for a mic-drop worthy conclusion
1. Make a plan for the conclusion
It has been said many times, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and it could not be more true when it comes to crafting a killer conclusion. By setting a few minutes aside before even beginning your essay to plan everything out, you get to see the necessary elements which you will want to address in your conclusion. In simpler terms, an essay plan reminds you of your contention and your main points, so that you are able to start gathering all of your arguments and create the perfect concluding paragraph. Planning for each paragraph sets you up for a win as you begin to refine key ideas and explore the many ways of expressing them, which is crucial for a conclusion.
2. Don't tell the reader you are concluding!
Time and time again I have seen people fall into the trap of using phrases such as “in conclusion” or “in closing”. The person marking your work may be blown away by the majority of your response, then reach those rotten words and will reconsider this thought. Being this ‘obvious’ with opening a conclusion does not earn any points. In fact it’s simply not sophisticated. The main reason many students are tempted to begin in such a clumsy way is that they don’t know how to begin their conclusion. If you are having difficulty to start and experiencing a bit of writer's block, simply go back to your essay plan and start to unpack the contention - it’s that easy! Rephrase your answer to the actual essay question. In most cases, you can just cut out those nasty little words and the opening line of your conclusion will still make perfect sense.
3. Rephrase, not repeat
The definition of a conclusion is literally to “sum up an argument”, thus your last paragraph should focus on gathering all of the loose ends and rewording your thesis and all of your arguments. It’s great to reinstate what you have said throughout the body of your response but repeating the same phrases and modes of expression becomes bland and bores the reader. Instead, aim to give them a fresh outlook on the key ideas you have been trying to communicate in the previous paragraphs. All it takes is a little time to change the way you are saying key points so that the conclusion does not become tedious to read. Conclusions are there to unite all of your points and to draw a meaningful link in relation to the question initially asked.
4. Keep things short and sharp
Your closing paragraph is NOT for squeezing in one or more ‘cool’ points you have- no new points should be brought into the conclusion. You should focus on working with the arguments and ideas that have ALREADY been brought up throughout your response. Introducing new arguments in that last paragraph will cause a lack of clarity and may cause the paragraph to become lengthy. A long conclusion will slow down the momentum of your piece and the reader will begin to lose interest and become impatient. Having a clear aim before writing your conclusion will help avoid a lengthy paragraph as your final thoughts will be more concise and refined.
5. The last line is where you get to really shine
Your closing sentence is the ultimate make or break for the entire essay so it is a shame to see many responses ending awkwardly due to students running out of time or becoming lazy with that final sentence. Last words are so important but don’t spend too much time on it! One awesome way to finish is with a very well thought-out phrase which summarises your contention one last time. Imagine dropping the mic after the final sentence of your essay, your conclusion needs to be stronger.
Rear Window is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response.
When most people think of Hitchcock, it’s the screeching violins from Psycho that first come to mind. Whilst he is indeed known for his hair-curling thrillers, Rear Window is a slightly subtler film which focuses not on a murderer at large, but rather a crippled photographer who never even leaves his apartment.
Our protagonist L.B. ‘Jeff’ Jefferies is portrayed by James Stewart, who was known at the time for portraying cowboys in various Western films as well as starring in an earlier Hitchcock film Rope. After breaking his leg after a racing accident, Jeff begins to spy on his neighbours, one of whom he suspects of having committed a murder.
Despite some initial misgivings, his insurance nurse Stella (Thelma Ritter) and lover Lisa (Grace Kelly) also come to share his suspicions and participate in his spying. Their contributions ultimately allow the mystery to be solved.
Intertwined with this mystery is also the rather complex story of Jeff and Lisa’s relationship. Jeff on one hand resembles the ‘macho’ men of action whom Stewart is very accustomed to playing. On the other hand, Kelly portrays a character much like herself, a refined and elegant urbanite whose lifestyle inherently clashes with that of an action photographer.
Hitchcock ultimately resolves both of these storylines in the film’s denouement.
2. Historial Context
Before getting into the nitty-gritty of the film, it is crucial to understand a bit about its historical context. As with any other text, the social conditions at the time of Rear Window’s release in 1954 inform and shape the interactions and events of the film.
Released in the post-war period, the film is undoubtedly characterised by the interpersonal suspicion which defined the era. In particular, there was a real fear in America of Communist influences and Soviet espionage - so much so that a tribunal was established, supposedly to weed out Communists despite a general lack of evidence. This practice of making accusations without such evidence is now known as the McCarthyism, named after the senator behind the tribunal.
The film undoubtedly carries undertones of this, particularly in Jeff’s disregard for his neighbours’ privacy and his unparalleled ability to jump to conclusions about them. During this era, people really did fear one another, since the threat of Communism felt so widespread. Jeff’s exaggerated interpretations of his neighbours’ actions lead him to an irrational sense of suspicion, which is in many way the basis of the entire film.
At the same time, the 1950s saw a boom in photojournalism as a legitimate profession. To some extent, this was fuelled by the heyday of Life magazine (an American weekly, as well-known then as Time magazine is today). This publication was almost entirely photojournalistic, and one of their war photojournalists, Robert Capa, is actually the basis of Jeff’s character. This explains the prevalence of cameras in his life, as well as his ability to emotionally distance himself from those whom he observes through the lens.
Another crucial historical element is the institution of marriage, and how important it was to people during the 1950s. It was an aspiration which everyone was expected to have, and this is reflected statistically - only 9.3% of homes then had single occupants (as opposed to around 25% today). People also tended to marry at a younger age, generally in their early 20s.
Conversely, divorce was highly frowned upon, and once you were married, you would in general remain married for the rest of your life. In particular, divorced women suffered massive financial difficulties, since men, as breadwinners, held higher-paying jobs, and women were only employed in traditionally female roles (e.g. secretaries, nurses, teachers, librarians). Seen in this light, we can understand Lisa’s overwhelming desire to marry and settle down with Jeff. The importance of marriage is also evident in the lives of Jeff’s neighbours; Miss Torso’s 'juggling [of the] wolves', and Miss Lonelyheart’s depression both reflect this idea.
Combining a basic understanding of the film’s plot, as well as our knowledge of its history, we can begin to analyse some of the themes that emerge.
Possibly the central tenet of the film is the big question of privacy. Even in today’s society, the sanctity of privacy is an important concept; every individual has a right to make their own choices without having to disclose, explain or justify all of them. The character of Doyle says almost these exact words:
'That’s a secret and private world you’re looking into out there. People do a lot of things in private that they couldn’t possibly explain in public'
The tension that Hitchcock draws upon is this other idea of public responsibility, or civic duty - that is, the need to uphold the peace and protect one’s fellow citizens from harm. These ideas clash in Rear Window, as fulfilling this civic responsibility (which for Jeff means privately investigating Thorwald) means that Thorwald’s right to privacy gets totally thrown out the window. So to speak.
Evidently, this is a major moral dilemma. If you suspect that someone has committed murder, does this give you the right to disregard their privacy and surveil them in this way? While the film doesn’t give a definite answer (and you won’t be required to give a definite answer), Hitchcock undoubtedly explores the complexity of this question. Even Jeff has misgivings about what he’s seeing:
'Do you suppose it’s ethical to watch a man with binoculars, and a long-focus lens—until you can see the freckles on the back of his neck, and almost read his mail? Do you suppose it’s ethical even if you prove he didn’t commit a crime?'
In some ways, the audience is also positioned to reflect on this question, and in particular, reflect on the paranoia that characterised and defined the McCarthy era.
Somewhat separate to these questions is the romance between Jeff and Lisa, since Hitchcock seems to keep the thriller storyline and the romance storyline separate for a large part of the film. Their contrasting lifestyles and world views present a major obstacle in the fulfilment of their romance, and the murder mystery both distracts and unites them. Hitchcock further alludes to the question of whether marriage will be able to settle those differences after all - a major example is the following scene, in which Lisa not only reveals her discovery of Mrs Thorwald’s ring, but also expresses a desire for Jeff to ‘put a ring on it’ as well:
It’s impossible to study a Hitchcock film without considering how he impacted and manipulated its storytelling. The cinematographic techniques employed in Rear Window are important ways of shaping our understanding of the film, and Hitchcock uses a wide array of visual cues to communicate certain messages.
Lighting is one such cue that he uses a lot - it is said that at certain points in filming, he had used every single light owned by the studio in which this film was shot. In this film, lighting is used to reveal things: when the lights are on in any given apartment, Jeff is able to peer inside and watch through the window (almost resembling a little TV screen; Jeff is also able to channel surf through the various apartments - Hitchcock uses panning to show this).
On the contrary, a lack of lighting is also used to hide things, and we see Thorwald utilise this at many stages in the film. Jeff also takes advantage of this, as he often sits in a position where he is very close to being in the shadows himself; if he feels the need, he is able to retreat such that he is fully enshrouded. Low-key lighting in these scenes also contributes to an overall sense of drama and tension.
Another handy visual cue is the cross-cut, which is an example of the Kuleshov effect. The Kuleshov effect is an editing technique whereby a sequence of two shots is used to convey information more effectively than just a single shot. Specifically, the cross-cut shifts from a shot of a person to a second shot of something that this person is watching.
We see this often, particularly when Jeff is responding to events in the courtyard; Hitchcock uses this cross-cut to immediately show us what has caused Jeff’s response. This visual cue indicates to viewers that we are seeing what Jeff is seeing, and is one of the few ways that Hitchcock helps audiences assume Jeff’s point-of-view in key moments.
Similarly, Hitchcock also uses photographic vignetting to merge our perspectives with Jeff’s - in certain shots, we see a fade in clarity and colour towards the sides of a frame, and this can look like a circular shadow, indicating to us that we are seeing something through a telescope or a long-focus lens.
Interestingly, a vignette is also a short, descriptive scene that focuses on a certain character and/or idea to provide us with insights about them - in this sense, it’s also possible to say that Jeff watches vignettes of his neighbours. Since this word has two meanings, you must be careful about which meaning you’re referring to.
By the way, to download a PDF version of this blog for printing or offline use, click here!
5. Key Symbols
As with any other text, it’s important to consider some of the key symbols that Hitchcock draws upon in order to tell his story. That being said, one of the benefits of studying a film is that these symbols tend to be quite visual - you are able to see these recurring images and this may make them easier to spot. We’ll be going through some of these key images in the final part of this guide.
One of the first symbols we see is Jeff’s broken leg, which is propped up and completely covered by a cast, useless for the time being. Because he has been rendered immobile by his leg, readers can infer from this symbol that he is also incapable of working or even leaving his apartment, let alone solving a murder mystery. The broken leg is in this sense a symbol of his powerlessness and the source of much of his discontent.
Another interpretation of the broken leg however, is that it represents his impotence which on one hand is synonymous for powerlessness or helplessness, but is on the other hand an allusion to his apparent inability to feel sexual desire. Being constantly distracted from Lisa by other goings-on in the courtyard definitely supports this theory. All in all, Jeff’s broken leg represents some compromise of his manhood, both in the sense that he cannot work in the way that a man would have been expected to, but also in the sense that he is unable to feel any attraction towards Lisa, even as she tries her best to seduce him.
Conversely, Jeff’s long-focus camera lens is a symbol of his passive male gaze, which is more or less the only thing he can do in his condition. It is the main means through which he observes other people, and thus, it also symbolises his voyeuristic tendencies - just as his broken leg traps and inhibits him, his camera lens transports him out of his own apartment and allows him to project his own fears and insecurities into the apartments of his neighbours, watching them for entertainment, for visual pleasure.
In this latter sense, the camera lens can also be understood as a phallic symbol, an erection of sorts. It highlights Jeff’s perverted nature, and the pleasure he derives from the act of observing others. Yikes.
On the other hand, Lisa’s dresses underscore the more positive parts of her character. Her initial wardrobe represents her elegance and refinery whilst also communicating a degree of incompatibility with Jeff. However, as she changes and compromises throughout the film, her wardrobe also becomes much more practical and much less ostentatious as the film wears on, until she is finally wearing a smart blouse, jeans and a pair of loafers. The change in her wardrobe reflects changes in her character as well.
Finally, the wedding ring of Mrs Thorwald is hugely significant; wedding rings in general represent marriage and commitment, and are still very important symbols that people still wear today. Specifically, Mrs Thorwald’s ring means a couple of things in the context of the film - it is firstly a crucial piece of evidence (because if Mrs Thorwald was still alive, she would probably still be wearing it) and it is also a symbol through which Lisa can express a desire for stability, commitment and for herself to be married.
There’s definitely plenty to talk about with Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and I hope these points of consideration help you tackle this film!
Test your film technique knowledge with the video below:
Ready to start writing on Rear Window? Watch the Rear Window Essay Topic Breakdown:
6. Sample Essay Topics
In Rear Window, Hitchcock suggests that everybody can be guilty of voyeurism. Do you agree?
Jeff’s attempts to pursue justice are entirely without honour. To what extent is this true?
In the society presented in Rear Window, Jeff has more power and agency than Lisa in spite of his injury. Do you agree?
Discuss how the opening sequence sets up later themes and events in Rear Window.
'Of course, they can do the same thing to me, watch me like a bug under glass if they want to.' Hitchcock’s Rear Window argues that it is human nature to be suspicious. To what extent do you agree?
Explore the role of Jeff’s courtyard neighbours in the narrative of Rear Window.
Jeff and Lisa’s roles in Rear Window, as well as that which they witness, reflect the broader societal tensions between the sexes of the time. Discuss.
'I’m not much on rear window ethics.' The sanctity of domestic privacy supersedes the importance of public responsibility. Is this the message of Rear Window?
Marriage lies at the heart of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Discuss.
Hitchcock’s Rear Window explores and ultimately condemns the spectacle made of human suffering. Is this an accurate reflection of the film?
Rear Window argues that it is more important to be right than to be ethical. Do you agree?
'To see you is to love you.' What warnings and messages regarding attraction are offered by Hitchcock’s Rear Window?
In Rear Window, women are merely objects of a sexist male gaze. To what extent do you agree?
In what ways do Hitchcock’s cinematic techniques enhance his storytelling in Rear Window?
'When they’re in trouble, it’s always their Girl Friday that gets them out of it.' Is Lisa the true heroine of Rear Window?
Now it's your turn to give these essay topics a go! In our ebook A Killer Text Guide: Rear Window, we've take 5 of these essay topics and show you our analysis, brainstorm and plan for each individual topic. We then write up full A+ essays - all annotated - so that you know exactly what you need to do to replicate a 50 study scorer's success!.
7. Essay Topic Breakdown
Whenever you get a new essay topic, you can use LSG’s THINK and EXECUTE strategy - a technique to help you write better VCE essays. This essay topic breakdown will focus on the THINK part of the strategy. If you’re unfamiliar with this strategy, then check it out in How To Write A Killer Text Response because it’ll dramatically enhance how much you can take away from the following essays and more importantly, your ability to apply this strategy in your own writing.
Within the THINK strategy, we have 3 steps, or ABC. These ABC components are:
Step 1: Analyse
Step 2: Brainstorm
Step 3: Create a Plan
Film technique-based prompt:
Hitchcock’s use of film techniques offers an unnerving viewing experience. Discuss.
Step 1: Analyse
While we should use film techniques as part of our evidence repertoire in each essay, this particular type of essay prompt literally begs for it. As such, I’d ensure that my essay has a greater focus on film techniques (without concerning myself too much over inclusion of quotes; the film techniques will act as a replacement for the quotes).
Step 2: Brainstorm
Since the essay prompt is rather open-ended, it is up to us to decide which central themes and ideas we’d like to focus on. By narrowing down the discussion possibilities ourselves, we’ll 1) make our lives easier by removing the pressure to write about everything, and 2) offer teachers and examiners a more linear and straightforward approach that will make it easier for them to follow (and give you better marks!).
The ‘unnerving viewing experience’ is present throughout the entire film, so my approach will be to divide up each paragraph into start of the film, middle of the film and end of the film discussions. This will help with my essay’s coherence (how well the ideas come together), and flow (how well the ideas logically progress from one to another).
Step 3: Create a Plan
Contention: Through a diverse range of film techniques, Hitchcock instils fear and apprehension into the audience of Rear Window.
P1: The opening sequence of Rear Window employs various film techniques to immediately establish underlying tension in its setting.
P2: Through employing the Kuleshov effect in the strategically cut scene of Miss Lonelyhearts’ attempted suicide, Hitchcock adds to the suspenseful tone of the film by developing a guilty voyeur within each viewer.
P3: In tandem with this, Hitchcock ultimately adds to the anxiety of the audience by employing lighting and cross-cutting techniques in the climax scene of the plot, in which an infuriated Thorwald attempts to enter Jeff’s apartment.
If you find this helpful, then you might want to check out our A Killer Text Guide: Rear Windowebook, which has all the information and resources you need to succeed in your exam, with detailed summaries and background information, as well as a detailed analysis of all five essay prompts!
Authorial intent is without a doubt one of the most important parts of any analytical essay in VCE English because talking about it is what offers the deepest level of analysis and shows the examiners that you have thought deeply about the text at hand. If you can discuss authorial intent effectively, you’ll be able to show that you have a solid understanding of what you are talking about and that you’re not working exclusively with surface-level ideas.
What Is Authorial Intent?
When we talk about authorial intent, what is really being referenced is the author’s reason for writing their piece in the way that they have and what messages they are trying to convey. Essentially, it’s what your teacher wants you to think about when they ask you things like “why is the door red?”. More generally speaking, why has the author made a point of telling us as readers the weather at that time? Why has that character been given that particular line of dialogue? Why have they brought in that specific tone for this part of the text? These are all the kinds of questions that you should be asking yourself when you’re reading through material that you have to analyse.
You might also hear authorial intent talked about as the writer’s ‘views and values’. If you’re unsure what views and values actually mean, you can kind of think of it as though the ‘views’ are how the author sees something and the ‘values’ are how the author thinks about something. Essentially, their opinions and perspectives are their views, whereas their morals and principles are their values. These two elements will often be central to the overall intention behind writing their text.
Why Is Authorial Intent Important?
Authorial intent plays a major role in your interpretation of the text; if you can’t figure out what the intent is, you will often miss out on key points and messages throughout the text. If you are lucky, the author will make it really clear to you as a reader what their intent is; however, this often is not the case. That being said, whether their intent is stated or implied doesn’t matter - there will always be something there for you to talk about.
How To ‘Find’ Authorial Intent in the Text: Key Identifiers To Look Out For
If you come across a text that makes it a little bit more difficult to discern what the author is actually trying to say, a good place to start is to look at the context behind the piece of writing.
The time period the novel/movie/play is set in is often a good indicator of what the author is saying. The author will often be using their text as a means by which they can comment on or critique one or more elements of that society, or perhaps as a metaphor for events that are occurring at the time the text is/was written. Alternatively, they may be portraying their view about the events that actually occurred during that time. For example, if you have a text that is set in the Georgian era, it is likely that the author’s message has something to do with colonialism or imperialist mindsets (zeitgeists) because this was a very dominant theme in that society.
Some other reasons you might consider an author having could include:
to highlight the importance of something
to criticise a behaviour or mindset
to ridicule certain actions
to warn against something
to discourage people from doing something
to convey certain political messages or controversial opinions
Realistically there is a broad range of things that the author could be saying, it's your job to pinpoint what that really is.
Once you’ve determined what it is the author is generally talking about, you then need to start thinking about the way that this has been represented. This is where you start to bring in the characters, the events, the dialogue, the inner monologues. Basically, you start looking for the elements that the author has added, not necessarily for a story-telling purpose but, more so, to convey their views and values through the text. This isn’t always going to jump right out at you so there may be a bit of deeper thinking involved.
Another good place to start is to try to identify the central themes of a text. This might be something like ‘Judgement’, ‘Redemption’, ‘Guilt’, etc. The author wouldn't have made these themes so relevant if they didn't have anything to say about them. Once again, this is where you look at the quotes, the setting, the characters and other features (as mentioned before) just with a more theme-focused approach.
Useful Vocabulary & Sentence Examples
When you come to actually putting together a paragraph, it is really important that you don’t forget to include authorial intent at some stage (at least once per paragraph). If you work with a TEEL structure (watch from 05:10) as the baseline, these kinds of comments about the author’s intent would usually be located within the ‘explanation’ section. A good way to double-check that you’ve incorporated authorial intent is to go back through your paragraph and make sure that the author’s name is in there somewhere. If you’ve talked about authorial intent you likely will have said something like:
‘In doing so, (Author) condones the (whatever it is they condone).’
Below are some sample sentence structures that you might think about using throughout your essays. Obviously, the particular vocabulary will vary depending on what your text is and which message you are talking about, but these are good as a guide.
Through (example from text) AUTHOR (offers, provides, asserts) a (condemnation, evaluation…) of (idea, theme, concept, action…)
E.g. Through emphasising the internal struggle faced by Rooke during the floggings, Grenville offers a condemnation of the Empire’s heinous approach to loyalty, as the threat of ‘wirling at the end of the rope’ essentially forces individuals to value duty over conscience. (The Lieutenant)
In doing so, AUTHOR (establishes, condemns, reveals…)
E.g. In doing so, Miller reveals the self-destructive nature of religious extremism in breeding instability and conflict. (The Crucible)
(scene, event…) allows AUTHOR to (suggest, convey, assert,…) that
E.g. Her sorrowful pleas that ‘she beg me to make charm’, fraught with grammatical errors, allow Miller to saliently illustrate the gulf that exists between the vulnerable outcasts such as Tituba and more privileged individuals within a community, in this case, Reverend Parris. (The Crucible)
AUTHOR’s depiction of (character) as (courageous, morally conscious, selfish…) emphasises their belief that…
E.g. Ham’s depiction of Teddy as a morally conscious and genuine individual emphasises her belief that it is possible to transcend the social codes enforced by one’s community.(The Dressmaker)
AUTHOR’s suggestion that… (serves as a reminder, highlights, emphasises the importance of…)
E.g. Euripides’ blatant suggestion that the fate of most of these women is in servitude and sexual slavery is a damning reminder that the victims of war are not just those killed during the conflict. (Women of Troy)
(Hence, thus, as a result…) AUTHOR asserts that…
E.g. Thus, Euripides asserts that victory in war ultimately proves futile as loss will inevitably be suffered somewhat equally by both sides. (Women of Troy)
Evident through AUTHOR’s (characters’ actions/dialogue/section of text…) is the idea that…
E.g. Evident through Miller’s depiction of the struggles faced by Goody Osburn and Goody Good is the idea that where geographical isolation and strict moral codes render a community intolerant, the marginalisation and ostracisation of those who do not fit the societal mould is inevitable. (The Crucible)
Through (action, quote, scene…) AUTHOR seeks to…
E.g. Through highlighting the harm which can result from individuals utilising their power to manipulate situations, Ham seeks to expose the damages caused by ignoring the truth, particularly when done so for personal benefit. (The Dressmaker)
If you’ve gotten to this point then hopefully that means that you are starting to get a better understanding of what authorial intent actually is, the thought processes that go into finding it and why it is such a useful and important element to analyse. Most importantly, I hope that you can at least start recognising the way that the author’s voice comes through in the particular texts that you are studying, and that you can start looking at including some of those observations and ideas when you're writing your responses.
Written expression is often overlooked in our essays. Often, if we are made aware of clunky or awkward expression, we are also not quite sure how to go about improving it. Although sophisticated and pertinent ideas serve as the foundation of a successful essay, how we construct our sentences and express these ideas may be what distinguishes a good essay from a great essay.
These differences can be rather subtle, but the small things can and do matter.
1) USE YOUR VOCAL CHORDS
(to read out loud, not sing… unless you really want to)
Take your essay and read it out loud. Let your own conscience guide you in terms of whether a particular sentence flows well, is complete and makes sense. Keep your eye out for these small errors in particular: Grammar:Does your sentence actually make sense? Let’s have a look at an example:Although Funder suggests that the act of telling one’s story, especially one of victimisation, can catalyse the internal confrontation and healing required to move on.
(This is not grammatically correct! This is because this example only contains a subordinate clause and is lacking a main clause.)
But wait… what is this ‘subordinate clause’ and ‘main clause’?
A clause includes a subject and a verb.
Melissa ate an apple.After Wendy ate an apple.
What is the difference between the two clauses above?
‘Melissa ate an apple’ makes grammatical sense on its own. This is what we call a main clause (or an independent clause). On the other hand, ‘After Wendy ate an apple’ is an incomplete sentence as it does not make sense. What happened after Wendy ate her apple? This is the information that is missing from the latter clause, making this a subordinate clause (or a dependent clause).
So now let’s try again…
Although Funder suggests that the act of telling one’s story, especially one of victimisation, can catalyse the internal confrontation and healing required to move on, ultimately, these individuals can never be truly free from the past that has irrevocably defined them.
(Hooray! This is a complete sentence now.)
Spelling: Are the title of the text, the author or director’s name, characters’ names, publisher’s name, etc. all spelt correctly (and capitalised, underlined, and italicised appropriately)?
Did you use the correct there, their and they’re? How about it’s and its? (and so on).
Sentence length: Did that sentence just go on for 5 lines on a page and you are out of breath now? You can most probably split that overloaded sentence into two or more sentences that make much more sense. Check whether you have a clear subject in your sentence. If you have three different ideas in one sentence, give each idea its own opportunity (ie. sentence) to shine. The opposite also applies: if it is for a very short sentence, did that sentence pack enough content or analysis?
One spelling error or half-finished sentence in an essay will not severely affect your mark, but they can easily add up if they occur often enough. Consequently, this will distract the reader from engaging with your ideas fully and thus disrupt the flow of your essay.
By being aware of these aspects, you are now able to easily fix them and boost your writing.
2) BE SUBTLE
Try not to be casual or overt in your writing as it can be quite jarring to read and unfortunately give readers a potentially negative impression of your piece.
Try not to use phrases such as:
- In my opinion… (You do not need it as your entire essay should be your implicit opinion!)
- This quote shows that… (Embed the quote and link to its implication instead)
- This technique is designed to… (Identify the technique and be specific, especially in Language Analysis)
- I think that…, I believe… (Avoid using first person in a formal essay. Use of first person in creative writing is fine though if required)
They are redundant and do not add much to your ideas and analysis. Try omitting them and see whether that helps your sentence flow better and seem more formal.
3) LINK ‘EM UP
Sentences that seem disjointed or a clear connection can make it difficult for your teacher or the assessor to join the dots between an idea and an implication or consequence. Use linking words as they are fantastic for explicitly showing the reader how your ideas are related and thus allow your writing to proceed smoothly.
Therefore, hence, thus, thereby, consequently, subsequently, in addition, additionally, furthermore, moreover, on the other hand, on the contrary, however, henceforth, and so on… The list is endless!
4) ADD OOMPH (through vocabulary)
In general, having a wide vocabulary will allow you to express your ideas and analysis more accurately as you are likely to have access to a precise word that can capture the essence of your idea. Make a vocabulary list for a particular text or for Language Analysis (such as tone words) and aim to use varied language to convey yourself well.
If you’d like to see a list of sentence starters and essay phrases to help you get a headstart on expanding your vocabulary, check out this blog.
Focus on verbs and expanding your list of synonyms for words such as shows, demonstrates, highlights, emphasises, suggests and so on. An individual, character, author or director may not only be conveying but also denigrating or remonstrating or bolstering or glorifying or insinuating. Adding precision to your writing through careful vocabulary choice will distinguish your writing and also add complexity.
BEWARE! There is a fine line to tread with sophisticated vocabulary - do not overload your writing as you can risk writing convoluted sentences that hinder the reader’s ability to understand your piece. Also make sure that you understand the nuances of each synonym and that they are used in the correct context! (They are synonyms after all - not the same word!)
If you are debating whether to use a word, ask yourself: do you know what it means?
If yes: Go for it!
If no: Do not use it until you know what it means.
Reading sample essays, The Age Text Talks, reviews and more of the texts you are currently studying will expose you to not only a multitude of interpretations of your text, but also to different sentence structures, writing styles or vocabulary that you could incorporate into your own writing.
I would also highly recommend that you read outside of the texts you are studying if you have time, whether that may be novels by the same author or even newspapers. Your written expression will only benefit from this exposure as the ways you can express yourself through writing continue to increase upon seeing others’ eloquence.
6) GET WRITING
If you do not write, you will never be able to improve your written expression. Put pen to paper (or hands to keyboard) and start constructing that essay. You can only fix your writing once you have writing to fix.
Year of Wonders is set in the small English village of Eyam in 1665, as the town struggles through a deadly outbreak of the bubonic plague. While the characters and events are fictional, author Geraldine Brooks based the novel on the true story of Eyam, whose inhabitants, at the urging of their vicar, courageously decided to quarantine themselves to restrict the spread of the contagion and protect other rural townships.
The experience of the plague provides Brooks fertile ground to develop characters that illustrate the extremes of human nature; displaying the dignity or depravity, self-sacrifice or self-interest that people are capable of when faced with terror, pain and the unknown. She explores the consequences of a catastrophe on an isolated, insular and deeply religious community and we see characters exhibit tireless dedication and heroism, or succumb to depression, exploitation and sometimes murderous depravity.
The novel illustrates that adversity can bring out the best and worst of people and that faith can be challenged and eroded. The novel explores how crises affect human behaviour, beliefs and values and reveal the real character of a community under pressure. Our job while studying this text is to consider how all the different responses to an external crisis contribute to an analysis of human nature.
2. Historical Context
Year of Wonders belongs to the genre of historical fiction (meaning it is fictional but based on historical events) and aims to capture and present the historical context accurately. The context of Year of Wonders is important to understand as it informs a lot of the division and instability in Eyam during the isolation and crisis of the plague (we explain in more detail why context is so important in Context and Authorial Intent in VCE English).
In 1658, only 7 years before the novel opens, Puritan statesmen Oliver Cromwell (who defeated King Charles I in the English Civil War and ruled as Lord Protector of the British Isles from 1653) died and Charles II, heir to the throne, returned from exile to rule England as King. Charles II replaced Cromwell’s rigid puritanism with the more relaxed Anglicanism and his reign began the dynamic period known as the Restoration. During the civil war and Cromwell’s rule, all the past certainties – the monarchy and the Church – had been repeatedly challenged and overturned. This all happened during the lifetime of the Eyam villagers presented in the novel and the recent religious upheaval in Britain was beginning to influence the conservative and puritan congregation of Eyam as the old puritan rector was replaced with Anglican vicar Michael Mompellion. The tension between the puritans and Anglicans is evident early in the novel and is exacerbated by the arrival of the plague, causing further internal fission.
The 17th century also marked the beginning of modern medicine and the Age of Enlightenment. During the Enlightenment, people began to privilege reason and sensory evidencefrom the material world over biblical orthodoxy as the primary sources of knowledge. The Enlightenment advanced ideals such as progress, liberty, tolerance, egalitarianism and the scientific method. These values are reflected in the liberal characters of Anna, Elinor, Mem and Anys Gowdie, and to an extent, Michael Mompellion. However, we also see the limited reaches of the Enlightenment in characters who succumb to superstition or self-flagellation when the plague arrives. This was a time when religious faith was frequently challenged and redefined.
3. Character Analysis
The novel is narrated in the first person by protagonist Anna Frith. Anna, a young widow, mother and housemaid, becomes the town’s nurse and midwife during the plague alongside her employer and friend Elinor Mompellion. Anna is a compelling protagonist and narrator because she is part of the ordinary, working-class life of the village, but also has access to the gentry in her work for the Mompellions, meaning readers can see how the plague affected all social groups.
At the beginning of the novel, Anna is in many ways very conventional. Aside from her intelligence and desire to learn, evidenced by her interest and quick proficiency in learning to read, Anna married young, is a dedicated mother, had an incomplete education and never thought to question the town’s orthodox religious beliefs. However, it is revealed early that she has progressive views on class and morality and as the novel progresses, the extraordinary circumstances of the plague evoke in her heroism and courage. Brooks notes, Anna 'shrugs off the social and religious mores that would keep a weaker woman in her place'. During the plague, Anna becomes the village’s voice of reason and an indispensable figure due to her expanding medical knowledge, tenacity, resourcefulness and tireless generosity.
Michael Mompellion is Eyam’s Anglican preacher, having been appointed three years earlier after Charles II returned to England and replaced Puritan clergies. Generally, Mompellion is altruistic and open-minded: softening strict class divisions, combatting superstition and embracing a scientific approach to the plague. When the plague arrives, the local gentry (the Bradfords) flee and due to his charisma and position in the Church, he becomes the town’s unofficial leader. Mompellion persuades the townspeople to go into self-imposed quarantine to prevent the spread of the plague. His personal charisma, powerful rhetoric and indefatigable dedication to his work mean he can motivate and inspire his parishioners.
Mompellion’s unwavering commitment to his beliefs makes him a good leader, but we also see that his single-minded religious zeal can lead to harsh irrationality and hypocrisy. While progressive on issues such as class divisions, Mompellion is conservative – bordering on fanatic – when it comes to female sexuality. When his beloved wife Elinor dies, it is revealed that Mompellion denied her sexual intimacy for their entire marriage to punish her for the premarital affair and abortion she had as a teenager. Mompellion realises upon Elinor’s death that he extended forgiveness and understanding to all but his wife and, recognising his own hypocrisy and cruelty, he suffers a breakdown and loses much of his religious faith. Through Anna’s eyes, we see Mompellion shift from a character of moral infallibility, to a flawed and inconsistent man of a more ambiguous character.
Elinor is Mompellion’s wife and Anna’s employer and teacher. By the end of the novel, Anna and Elinor are confidantes and friends and their friendship arguably forms one of the strongest emotional cores of the novel, sustaining both women through enormous strain and hardship. Elinor teaches Anna to read and seems not to notice or care about their different social strata, treating everyone equally. Elinor came from a very wealthy family and initially had little practical knowledge of the hardships and necessities of life. During the plague, she confronts pain, suffering and true sacrifice. Because of her beauty, fragility and generosity, the whole town – and especially Anna – view her as a paragon of virtue and the embodiment of innocence. However, Elinor reveals that as a teenager she had a premarital relationship that resulted in an illegitimate pregnancy which she ended through abortion. Elinor considers herself to be permanently marked by sin and is plagued by the guilt of her adolescent mistakes, but her commitment to atone through service and working to help others is admirable.
Anys and Mem Gowdie
Anys and her aunt Mem are the town’s healers and midwives. Both women live on the margins of society, as their knowledge of herbal medicines and power to heal certain ailments causes fear and suspicion. Additionally, Anys further alienates the villagers by having conspicuous affairs with married village men. Anna admires Anys’ herbal knowledge and healing skill and her autonomy and unashamed sexuality, which were rare for women at the time. When the plague breaks out, Anys and Mem are murdered by a mob of hysterical townspeople, who believe they are witches responsible for the plague. This episode shows the power and acute danger of superstitionand hysteria.
Josiah and Aphra Bont
Josiah 'Joss' Bont is Anna’s estranged father and Aphra is Anna’s stepmother. Brooks depicts them as unsympathetic and unforgivable, if understandable, villains as they both seek to profit off the heavy misfortune of others. Joss abused Anna greatly throughout her childhood, and while she manages to forgive him due to the suffering of his own youth, when he cruelly exploits villagers in his position as gravedigger, Anna finds his actions irredeemable. As gravedigger, Joss charged exorbitant fees from desperate people to bury their dead, regularly stole from the beleaguered families and attempted to bury a wealthy plague sufferer alive to loot his home.
Aphra is similarly amoral and greedy. Although her love for her children is shown to be strong, she capitalises on the fear and superstition of her neighbours by selling fake charms while pretending to be Anys Gowdie’s ghost. After the death of her husband and children, Aphra becomes completely deranged, dismembering and refusing to bury the rotting corpses of her children and eventually murdering Elinor. Aphra’s fate and actions show how prolonged catastrophe and suffering can totally erode an individual’s sanity.
The Bradford Family
The Bradford family are arrogant and pretentious. When the plague arrived in Eyam they also proved themselves self-serving and opportunistic, exploiting their wealth and status as part of the gentry to flee Eyam instead of enduring the quarantine with the rest of the village. They provide a foil to the Mompellions, who are of similar status and are newcomers to Eyam with fewer historical ties and thus expectations of loyalty. The two upper-class families provide directly opposite responses to the crisis, with Brooks clearly condemning the cowardice and selfishness exhibited by the Bradfords.
Social Convention and Human Nature in a Crisis
Perhaps the most significant theme or exploration of the novel is what happens to an individual’s character and community norms in a crisis. Year of Wonders depicts a small and isolated community that experiences intense adversity from the plague and, because of their self-imposed quarantine, are additionally isolated from the stabilising forces of broader society. These factors cause the people of Eyam to increasingly abandon their social conventions and descend into chaos and Brooks raises the question of whether people can live harmoniously without a strong social code. She suggests that societal cohesion is the result of social pressure rather than innate to our nature. The social norms and protocols of Eyam collapse under the pressure of the plague, allowing discerning observers like Anna to explore the validity and value of her society’s fundamental values. Eyam’s experience of the plague demonstrates that some norms, like the limited role of women and the strict class divisions, do not need to be so repressive, while other norms and social virtues, like the rule of law and justice, are proved even more essential for their absence as order and civility disintegrate.
Brooks also explores the response of individuals to extreme and enduring adversity and questions whether crises reveal someone’s true nature or instead force them to act out of character.
Anna and Elinor are examples of characters who respond to the crisis of the plague, amongst other real hardships, with a steadfast commitment to their principles. Their innate charity and work ethic are only strengthened and bolstered by the demands of the plague. However, not all residents of Eyam respond to the plague with courage and decency. Many descend into fear and hysteria, while others become malevolent and exploitative in their efforts to protect themselves. The Bonts and the Bradfords are examples of people who act with appalling selfishness, yet Brooks is careful to illustrate them as cruel and self-serving even before the plague. Thus, Brooks appears to argue that our actions under intense duress are intensifications of our true nature.
Faith, Suffering and Science
A major theme explored in the novel is the role of faith in people’s lives and throughout the novel faith, superstition and emerging science contend with each other. Before the plague, the townspeople believe whole-heartedly in God’s divine plan – that the good and bad things that happened to them were God’s rewards or punishments for their virtues or sins. However, the plague makes this worldview unsupportable as the unremitting suffering of plague victims, depicted through gory and vividly gruesome descriptions, demonstrates that their suffering is not commensurate with their sin and that no one can deserve this fate. In particular, it is the suffering of children that most intensely shakes Anna’s faith in a divine plan. Her two young sons are early victims of the plague and their youth and innocence mean it is impossible to justify their deaths as punishment for sin. The sheer tragedy of the plague causes Anna to realise that faith in God’s plan is inadequate to explain suffering and tragedy and she looks for another explanation. This leads her to use science and medicine to ameliorate pain. By focusing on discovering possible cures or pain relievers, Anna and Elinor are indirectly treating the plague as just a 'thing in nature', eschewing the prevailing religious view that the plague is the result of God’s wrath. Their emerging scientific worldview does not rely on God’s presence and intervention in the material world and Anna loses her religious faith.
However, the scientific method and worldview were only in its very nascent form and most people held a firm belief in supernatural intervention, making the townspeople prone to superstition and, in their ignorance and fear, murderousmobhysteria.
Women and Female Sexuality
Women in Eyam had lived highly circumscribed and restricted lives until the crisis of the plague disrupted the social order. The behaviour and speech of women were heavily policed and punished. In a particularly horrifying episode, Joss puts his wife in a muzzle and parades her through the village after she publicly criticises him. While Joss is undeniably an all-round bad guy, his misogyny cannot be dismissed as singular to him. Even Mompellion, an altruistic and in some ways quite progressive man, takes a very harsh stance on female sexuality. Although he preached to adulterous male villagers such as Jakob Merrill that 'as God made us lustful so he understands and forgives', he denied Elinor forgiveness for her teenage sexual relationship and was unfathomably rageful when he discovers Jane Martin having sex outside of marriage. However, Brooks criticises the taboo on female sexuality and shows that sexual desire is an awakening and liberating force for Anna, twice helping her to come out of deep depressions and reminding her that life has joy and meaning.
There are strong feminist undertones throughout the novel as each female character exhibits strengths that the male characters do not and challenges the limitations of her role, expressing desire for more personal autonomy and agency. From the beginning of the novel, Anna admires the sexual freedom of Anys Gowdie and the ability of Elinor to unreservedly pursue her intellectual interests. During the plague, Anna finds herself eschewing her old role and social position and assuming many challenging and indispensable responsibilities that would have been unthinkable for any woman – especially a young single working-class woman – before the plague.
Leadership and Judgement in Times of Crisis
The text explores both the power of religious leaders to influence public opinion and the ability of strong and courageous individuals to rise to positions of respect and authority in a crisis. Mompellion’s natural leadership and rhetorical skill keep the community calm and bring out the spirit of self-sacrifice in them. His clear dedication to his work and parishioners inspires trust in the community, and although Mompellion comes to doubt his judgement, it is undeniable that his strong leadership and assumption of huge responsibility saved countless lives. Anna also emerges as an unofficial leader; she becomes an essential figure and the voice of reason in Eyam. The community’s newfound respect for Anna is evident in the way she is listened to and adhered to and her confidence in firmly and decisively addressing and directing men and those of a higher social class.
We see examples of powerful leadership in the novel, but we also see how an overwhelming crisis can lead to a shortage of clear leadership and expose flaws in existing governing systems. Eyam relied on its gentry (Colonel Bradford) and vicar (Michael Mompellion) to adjudicate and administer justice. However, on the advent of the plague, the Bradfords fled from Eyam and Mompellion became overwhelmed by work, leaving the townspeople to frequently administer their own justice through group tribunals or vigilante action. Additionally, the extreme circumstances of the plague mean the town must deal with crimes it has never faced before and is unsure how to punish. Brooks explores what it means to achieve justice when the only means available are faulty. There are many examples of miscarriages of justice which forces readers to think about the necessity of a strong, fair and prompt judicial system and the weaknesses inherent in these institutions.
5. Sample Essay Topics
How does Year of Wonders explore the concept of social responsibility?
‘In stressful times, we often doubt what we most strongly believe.’ How is this idea explored in Year of Wonders?
‘Year of Wonders suggests that, in a time of crisis, it is more important than ever to hold on to traditional values.’ Discuss.
‘How little we know, I thought, of the people we live amongst.’ What does the text say about community and one’s understanding of reality?
‘Year of Wonders explores human failings in a time of crisis.’ Discuss
Now it’s your turn! Give these essay topics a go using the analysis you’ve learnt in this blog.
The starting point of any theme-based prompt is the ideas, and while this prompt characterises the novel as one essentially about courage, it is more generally exploring the theme of how people responded to the various challenges of the plague. ‘Discuss’ questions give you scope to partially agree, disagree, or extend the prompt. It is okay to ultimately agree with the prompt but to also demonstrate the complexity and nuance of the author’s intentions, and I think that is the best approach for this essay!
Step 2: Brainstorm
As we’ve already discussed, Year of Wondersdepicts a community experiencing an acute crisis and Brooks presents the very worst and very best of human nature. There are characters who display enormous courage (Anna and Elinor), others who are cowardly (the Bradfords) and those who exploit others’ hardships for their own gain (Joss Bont). There is also an entire supporting cast of characters who individually display neither extreme courage nor cowardice but who muddle through a terrible situation with numb apathy. There is also the opportunity to define what courage means here – after all, the decision to isolate themselves within the boundaries of Eyam took immense courage from all the villagers, who knew full well that they would inevitably be exposed to the deadly contagion.
Step 3: Create a Plan
Paragraph 1: [Agree] The novel is grounded in and revolves around the initial courageous decision of the villagers of Eyam to quarantine themselves and risk their own lives to protect others from the spread of the bubonic plague.
Focus on the initial act of courage and the knowing self-sacrifice that this decision required from every single person in Eyam.
As the event that forms the basis of this work of historical fiction, a logical argument can be made that this first act of courage in adversity forms the foundation of the novel and therefore affirms the idea that Year of Wonders is about great courage.
However, importantly, this decision was an act of community courage that anticipated future adversity but was taken before many of the villagers had actually experienced the acute hardship and suffering of the plague. This is why it is important to now discuss the courage shown by individuals in the midst of extreme adversity [link].
Paragraph 2: [Agree] The individuals who displayed courage, hope and conviction in the face of acute personal adversity demonstrate the enormous power of courage to steel us through a crisis.
Anna and the Mompellions concentrate on helping others and their service helped keep some degree of social order and provided comfort to victims of the plague. What they were able to achieve and provide for the community (and how much worse the situation would have been without their courageous assumption of responsibility) illustrates Brooks' high respect for courage and service.
To demonstrate additional analytical thinking, you might consider discussing the fact that these characters were not courageous solely out of charity, but that having an occupation and something to keep them busy and focused actually became a personal survival mechanism. This further highlights the absolutely pivotal role of courage in adversity and is only reinforced through the contrast with the ignoble behaviour of those characters who did not behave courageously and forthrightly [link].
Paragraph 3: [Partial disagree] However, Year of Wonders shows how adversity can provoke extremes of human behaviour and is thus also a story of human failings under immense pressure, with many characters motivated by cowardice and self-interested opportunism.
Here, you should discuss the dishonourable behaviour of the Bonts, the Bradfords and the hysterical mob that murdered the Gowdie women. Your aim should not only be to explain that they behaved without courage, but also to focus on the negativerepercussions their behaviour had for them and the community This will help you build an analytical argument that Brooks’ core message is about the power and necessity of courage in the face of adversity.
Ultimately, while no character escapes from the pain and loss of the plague, Brooks provides illustrations of how different people responded to their shared suffering and it is clear that she believes that the best way to respond to adversity is with the courage and strength to face the challenge head on.
If you found this essay breakdown helpful, let us know if you’d be interested in a complete LSG Year of Wonders Study Guidewhere we would cover 5 A+ fully written sample essays with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY the essays achieved A+ so you can reach your English goals!
Planning is an essential part of any successful text response essay. It helps you ensure that you’re answering the prompt, utilising enough quotes and writing the most unique and perceptive analysis possible! The hard part of this is that you only have about FIVE MINUTES to plan each essay in the Year 12 English exam… (more info on the best way to tackle that challenge in this video!)
So, I developed the FIVE TYPES of essay prompts to help students streamline their planning process and maximise every minute of their SACs and exams.
By identifying the type of prompt you’re being challenged with immediately, a number of parameters or guidelines are already set in place. For a specific type of prompt, you have specific criteria to meet – for example, in a metalanguage-based prompt, you immediately know that any evidence you brainstorm in your planning stage should be based around the literary techniques used in your given text.
‘Ambition in the play Macbeth leads to success.’ Discuss. (Macbeth)
When you’re presented with a theme-based prompt, you can automatically shift your brainstorming and planning towards the themes mentioned in the prompt along with any others that you can link to the core theme in some way.
In regard to this Macbeth prompt, for example, you could explore the different ways the theme of ambition is presented in the text. Additionally, the themes of guilt and power are intimately related to ambition in the text, so you can use those other ideas to aid your brainstorming and get you a step ahead of the rest of the state come exam day.
2. Character-Based Prompt
‘Frankenstein’s hubris is what punishes him.’ Discuss. (Frankenstein)
These prompts are pretty easy to spot – if you see a character’s name in the prompt, there you have it; you have a character-based prompt on your hands.
Once you know this, you can assume that each example you brainstorm has to be relevant to the specific character named in the prompt in some way. Also, you can explore how the actions of characters don’t occur in isolation – they’re almost always interrelated. Remember, however, that the actions of characters are always connected to the themes and ideas the author is trying to convey.
This type of prompt also grants you some freedoms that other types don’t give. For example, unlike a Theme-based prompt, a character-based prompt means that it’s perfectly fine to write about characters in the topic sentences of your body paragraphs.
3. How-Based Prompt
‘How does Grenville showcase Rooke’s inner conflict in The Lieutenant?’ (The Lieutenant)
Unlike other prompts, the ‘How’ positions you to focus more on the author’s writing intentions. This can be achieved by discussing metalanguage – language that describes language (read my blog post about it here). These prompts tell you immediately that you need to be thinking about the literary techniques explored in the text and explain how they affect the narrative.
Rather than using specific techniques to frame your specific arguments, it’s best to use them as evidence to support arguments that attack the main themes/ideas mentioned in the prompt.
4. Metalanguage or Film-Technique-Based Prompt
‘Hitchcock’s use of film techniques offers an unnerving viewing experience’. Discuss. (Rear Window)
This type of prompt is very similar to How-based prompts, specifically in the fact that the discussion of literary techniques is essential.
For this type of prompt specifically, however, the actual techniques used can form more of a basis for your arguments, unlike in How-based prompts.
5. Quote-Based Prompt
“Out, damned spot!” How does Shakespeare explore the burden of a guilty conscience in Macbeth? (Macbeth)
Countless students ask me every year, “What do I do when there’s a quote in the prompt?!” My reply to these questions is actually fairly straightforward!
There are two main things that you should do when presented with this type of prompt. Firstly, contextualise the quote in your essay and try to use it in your analysis in some way. Secondly, interpret the themes and issues addressed in the quote and implement these into your discussion. The best place to do both of these is in a body paragraph – it weaves in seamlessly and allows for a good amount of analysis, among other reasons!
When faced with unknown prompts in a SAC or your exam, it's reassuring to have a formulaic breakdown of the prompt so that your brain immediately starts categorising the prompt - which of the 5 types of prompts does this one in front of me fall into? To learn more about brainstorming, planning, essay structures for Text Response, read our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response.
Finding out that your school has selected to study a Shakespeare play as your section A text can be a pretty daunting prospect. If I’m honest, I wasn’t all too thrilled upon discovering this either...it seemed as though I now not only had to worry about analysing my text, but also understanding what Shakespeare was saying through all of his old-fashioned words.
However, let’s not fret - in this post, I’ll share with you some Measure for Measure specific advice and tactics, alongside excerpts of an essay of mine as a reference.
Having a basic understanding of the historical context of the play is an integral part of developing your understanding of Measure for Measure (and is explored further in Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare). For example, for prompts that open with “What does Shakespeare suggest about…?” or “How does Measure for Measure reflect Shakespeare’s ideas about…?” it can be really helpful to understand Shakespeare’s own position in society and how that influenced his writing.
There’s no need to memorise certain parts of Shakespeare’s history - as that would serve no purpose - just try to gauge an understanding of what life was like in his time. Through understanding Shakespeare’s position in society, we are able to infer his stances on various characters/ideologies in the play.
Measure for Measure is often regarded as an anti-Puritan satire. Although Shakespeare’s religion has been a subject of much debate and research, with many theories about his faith being brought forward, many believe that he was a secret Catholic. He is believed to be a ‘secret’ Catholic, as he lived during the rise of the Puritans - those who wished to reform the Church of England and create more of a focus on Protestant teachings, as opposed to Catholic teachings. It was often difficult for Catholics to practice their faith at this time.
Angelo and Isabella - particularly Angelo, are believed to embody puritanism, as shown through their excessive piety. By revealing Angelo to be “yet a devil,” though “angel on the outward side,” Shakespeare critiques Puritans, perhaps branding them as hypocritical or even unhuman; those “not born of man and woman.” Thus, we can assume that Shakespeare would take a similar stance to most of us - that Angelo wasn’t the greatest guy and that his excessive, unnatural and puritanical nature was more of a flaw than a virtue.
Tips for Moving Past the Generic Examples/Evidence Found in the Play
It’s important to try and stand out with your examples in your body paragraphs. If you’re writing the same, simple ideas as everyone else, it will be hard for VCAA assessors to reward you for that. Your ideas are the most important part of your essay because they show how well you’ve understood and analysed the text - which is what they are asking from you, it’s called an ‘analytical interpretation of a text,’ not ‘how many big words can you write in this essay.’ You can stand out in Measure for Measure by:
1. Taking Note of Stage Directions and Structure of Speech
Many students tend to simply focus on the dialogue in the play, but stage directions can tell you so much about what Shakespeare was really trying to illustrate in his characters.
For example, in his monologue, I would often reference how Angelo is alone on stage, appearing at his most uninhibited, with his self-interrogation revealing his internal struggle over his newfound lust for Isabella. I would also reference how Shakespeare’s choice of syntax and structure of speech reveal Angelo’s moral turmoil as he repetitively asks himself “what’s this?” indicating his confusion and disgust for his feelings which “unshapes” him.
Isabella is shown to “[kneel]” by Mariana at the conclusion of the play, in order to ask for Angelo’s forgiveness. This detail is one that is easily missed, but it is an important one, as it is an obvious reference to Christianity, and symbolises Isabella’s return to her “gentle and fair” and “saint” like nature.
2. Drawing Connections Between Characters - Analyse Their Similarities and Differences.
Drawing these connections can be a useful way to incorporate other characters not necessarily mentioned in your prompt. For example, in my own English exam last year, I chose the prompt “...Power corrupts both Angelo and the Duke. Do you agree?” and tried to pair Angelo and Isabella, in order to incorporate another character into my essay (so that my entire essay wasn’t just about two characters).
A favourite pair of mine to analyse together was Angelo and Isabella. Although at first glance they seem quite different, when you read into the text a little deeper you can find many similarities. For example, while Angelo lives alone in his garden, “succumbed by brick,” requiring “two keys” to enter, “nun,” Isabella, wishes to join the nuns of Saint Clare where she “must not speak with men” or “show [her] face.” Shakespeare’s depiction of the two, stresses their seclusion, piety and restriction from the “vice” plaguing Vienna. What’s important about this point is that you can alter your wording of it to fit various points that you may make. For example, you could use this example to prove to your assessor how Isabella’s alignment with Angelo signals Shakespeare’s condemnation of her excessive puritanical nature (as I did in my body paragraph below) or, you could use these same points to argue how Angelo was once indeed a virtuous man who was similar to the “saint” Isabella, and that it was the power that corrupted him (as you could argue in the 2019 prompt).
Another great pair is the Duke and Angelo. Although they certainly are different in many ways, an interesting argument that I used frequently, was that they both were selfish characters who abused their power as men and as leaders in a patriarchal society. It is obvious where Angelo did this - through his cruel bribery of Isabella to “lay down the treasures of [her] body,” however the Duke’s behaviour is more subtle. The Duke’s proposal to Isabella at the conclusion of the play, as he asks her to “give [him her] hand,” in marriage, coincides with the revelation that Claudio is indeed alive. It appears that the Duke has orchestrated the timing of his proposal to most forcefully secure Isabella and in this sense, his abuse of power can be likened to Angelo’s “devilish” bribery. This is as, through Shakespeare’s depiction of Isabella, it is evident that she has little interest in marriage; she simply wishes to join a convent where she “must not speak with men,” as she lives a life of “strict restraint.” The Duke is aware of this, yet he demands Isabella to “be [his]”- wishing to take her from her true desire and Shakespeare is able to elucidate Isabella’s distaste through her response to this: silence. By contrasting Isabella’s once powerful voice - her “speechless dialect” that can “move men” - with her silence in response to the Duke’s proposal, Shakespeare is able to convey the depth of the Duke’s selfishness and thus his similarity to Angelo.
We've got a character list for you in Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare (just scroll down to the Character section).
What’s important to realise about these bits of evidence is that you can use them in so many different prompts, provided that you tailor your wording to best answer the topic. For example, you could try fitting at least one of the above examples in these prompts:
‘Give me your hand and say you will be mine…’ The characters in ‘Measure for Measure’ are more interested in taking than giving. Discuss.
‘More than our brother is our chastity.' Explore how Shakespeare presents Isabella's attitude to chastity throughout Measure for Measure.
‘I have seen corruption boil …' To what extent does Shakespeare explore corruption in Measure for Measure, and by what means?
‘Measure or Measure presents a society in which women are denied power.’ Discuss.
How To Kick Start Your Essay with a Smashing Introduction
There’s no set way on how to write an introduction. Lots of people write them in many different ways and these can all do well! This is the best part about English - you don’t have to be writing like the person sitting next to you in order to get a good mark. I personally preferred writing short and sweet introductions, just because they were quick to write and easy to understand.
For example, for the prompt...
“...women are frail too.”
To what extent does ‘Measure for Measure’ examine the flaws of Isabella?
...my topic sentences were...
Isabella is depicted as a moral, virtuous and pious woman, but it is this aspect of her nature that paradoxically aligns her with the “tyrannous” Angelo.
Shakespeare explores the hypocrisy and corruption of Isabella as a flaw, as she deviates from her initially “gentle and fair” nature.
Despite exploring Isabella’s flaws to a large degree, Shakespeare does indeed present her redemption at the denouement of the play.
...and my introduction was:
William Shakespeare’s play, ‘Measure for Measure’ depicts a seventeenth century Viennese society in which disease, misconduct and licentiousness are rife. It is upon a backdrop of such ordeals that Shakespeare presents the character of Isabella, who is initially depicted as of stark contrast to the libertine populate of Vienna. To a considerable extent, ‘Measure for Measure’ does indeed examine the flaws of the “gentle and fair” Isabella, but Shakespeare suggests that perhaps she is not “saint” nor “devil,” rather that she is a human with her own flaws and with her own redeeming qualities.
Instead of rewording my topic sentences, I touched on them more vaguely, because I knew that I wouldn’t get any ‘extra’ points for repeating them twice, essentially. However, if you feel more confident in touching on your topic sentences more specifically - go ahead!! There are so many different ways to write an introduction! Do what works for you!
This body paragraph included my pairing between Angelo and Isabella. My advice would be to continue to incorporate the language used in the prompt. In this paragraph, you can see me use the word “flaw” quite a bit, just in order to ensure that I’m actually answering the prompt, not a prompt that I have studied before.
Isabella is depicted as a moral, virtuous and pious woman, but it is this aspect of her nature that paradoxically aligns her with the “tyrannous” Angelo. Where Angelo is “of ample grace and honour,” Isabella is “gentle and fair.” Where Angelo believes in “stricture and firm abstinence,” Isabella too believes that “most desire should meet the full blow of justice.” This similarity is enhanced by their seclusion from the lecherous society in which they reside. Angelo lives alone in his garden, “succumbed by brick,” requiring “two keys” to enter, whilst Isabella desires the life of a nun where she “must not speak with men” or “show [her] face.” This depiction of both Angelo and Isabella stresses their seclusion, piety and restriction from the “vice” that the libertine populate is drunk from. However, Shakespeare’s revelation that Angelo is “yet a devil” though “angel on the outward side,” is perhaps Shakespeare’s commentary on absolute stricture being yet a facade, a flaw even. Shakespeare presents Isabella’s chastity and piety as synonymous with her identity, which ultimately leaves her unable to differentiate between the two, as she states that she would “throw down [her] life,” for Claudio, yet maintains that “more than our brother is our chastity.” Though virtuous in a sense, she is cruel in another. Although at first glance, Shakespeare’s depiction of Isabella’s excessive puritanical nature appears to be her virtue, by aligning her with the “devil” that is Angelo, it appears that this is indeed her flaw.
Conclude Your Essay by Dazzling Your Assessor!
My main tip for a conclusion is to finish it off with a confident commentary of the entire piece and what you think that the author was trying to convey through their words (in relation to the topic). For example, in pretty much all of my essays, I would conclude with a sentence that referenced the entire play - for example, how it appeared to be such a polarising play, with largely exaggerated, polarising characters/settings (eg. Angelo and the Duke, or the brothels that stood tall next to the monastery):
Ultimately, Shakespeare’s play ‘Measure for Measure,’ depicts Isabella as a multifaceted character. She is not simply one thing - not simply good nor bad - her character’s depiction continues to oscillate between the polar ends of the spectrum. Although yes, she does have flaws, so too does she have redeeming qualities. Though at times deceitful and hypocritical, she too is forgiving and gentle. Thus, as Shakespeare’s play, ‘Measure for Measure,’ does centre on polarising characters in a polarising setting, perhaps through his exploration of Isabella’s flaws alongside her virtues, he suggests that both the good and the bad inhabit us.
Measure for Measure is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response.
Listening is always viewed as the easiest section in an EAL exam, however, it is also the easiest section for students to lose marks as many of them may carelessly misread the question and/or comprehensively fail to answer the question. I personally find listening really challenging as it requires you to concentrate on multiple things at the same time, for example, the characters’ main contention, emotions, tone shift, and the context of the recording. However, as long as you do more practice, you will soon be able to master the listening skills! Here are the 4 steps that you will have to know if you want to do well in listening!
1. Read the background information of the text
Use your reading time (15 minutes) wisely and spend around 2-3 minutes in the listening section. The background information of the text is extremely important as it tells you the context of the recording which can also give you a basic idea of the characters involved in the text and the content they will be talking about. From the background information quoted from the VCAA 2019 EAL Exam, you will be able to recognise the two characters (Sue and Joe) involved in the text and you can also relate their conversations to the garage sale.
“Sue lives in a small seaside town. She presents a regular podcast called Sue’s Local Stories for the local radio station. Today she is talking about garage sales with John, who has just moved to the town. A garage sale is a sale located in a person’s garage or in front of their house, where they sell their unwanted items.” - Background information of Text 2
2. Scan through the questions carefully
Look for the keywords in the question, such as the 5W1H (Who, When, Where, What, Which, How), the character names, and the number of points that needs to be answered in each question. READ THE QUESTIONS FOR EACH SECTION CAREFULLY. That’s the only piece of advice I can give you to avoid losing marks on careless mistakes. Usually, the questions in listening are quite straightforward and easy to follow. Hence, it is particularly important for you to understand what the question is actually asking and what you are expected to answer in order to secure full marks in that specific question.
Examples of the 5W1H Questions
Who is he referring to when he says “You”?
When did he open his first bookshop?
Where did he go after his graduation?
What message is he trying to convey in his speech?
Which phrase did he use to express how dry it was in the desert?
How does he express his anger?
3. Note taking
You should be using the spaces provided in the exam answer booklet to jot down any key words and phrases that are related to the questions. Do not bother to fill in the answers on the answer line just yet, as you are very likely to get distracted, hence, it may increase the risk of missing the answer for the next question. Remember that your notes should be as concise and clear as possible so you will be able to write down the answers immediately once the recording stops.
Examples of notes
Question 1: Which type of animal does Sarah think is cleaner? Give an example and comment on her delivery.
“MUCH MUCH cleaner” → emphasis
Question 2: How does Ryan show his feelings about plastic waste? Comment on his language choice and delivery.
Exclaims → “putting sea life in a serious situation”
Critical tone → emphasise the harm caused
4. Focus on the questions that you’ve missed
Bear in mind that you will have the chance to listen to the recording two times in total so please DO NOT stress if you miss out any answers or you are not sure about the answers after the first time. Highlight the questions that you have trouble with and focus on them when the recording is played the second time.
If you have any spare time, I would recommend you to go through all your answers and check them in case you have any careless mistakes. Alternatively, if you are really confident with all your answers in the listening section, you could definitely start doing other sections in the exam, such as the Language Analysis and Text Response section.
Types of Questions you may get in Listening
In this section, I am going to introduce a few question types that can be seen in SACs and EAL exams. You will be able to perform well in all listening tasks if you do enough practices and are very familiar with these different questions:
Support your answer with one piece of evidence from the text
Give an example of delivery and language use to support your answer
Give an example of the character’s indirect language
What is the purpose of the text?
Describe the character’s tone
Describe the interaction between the characters
1. Support your answer with one piece of evidence from the text
This is a basic question type that can be seen in nearly every single listening task. It just means that you will have to quote a word or a phrase from the text in order to support your answer. Please ensure that your spelling is correct and the phrase that you quote is in the exact same wording as what the characters have said in the recording. You will only get the mark for your evidence if the above two rules are followed.
2. Give an example of delivery and language use to support your answer
You have to pay attention to the tone, pace and wording of the characters in order to answer this question. This kind of question is kind of tough, however, as long as you can memorise couples of examples of delivery, you will be able to answer this question effectively.
Here are some examples of delivery and language use:
Repetition — “No, no, no”
Imperatives — “Do not do this…”
Fast pace — “[quickly] What are we supposed to do now?”
Pausing — “But…”
Place emphasis on words — “We have to STRIVE for our rights!”
Asking a question rather than making a direct statement
Emphatic tone — “Do what I said!
3. Give an example of the character’s indirect language
An indirect language refers to an expression of the content of a statement in a longer or unclear fashion. It is often used in negotiation, diplomacy and in different types of embarrassing situations which can avoid the person from directly saying what he/she means.
Here are some examples:
“Oh… well… I am just browsing”
"Ummm… I am still thinking about it”
4. What is the character’s main argument?
In order to answer this question, you will have to pay attention to the standpoint of the character and be able to find the strongest point raised by him/her in the text. That’s why you have to read the background information of the listening task carefully and deliberately before you actually start looking into specific questions. This will enable you to have a basic idea of the character’s viewpoint towards the issue. Besides, the aim of this question is to test your understanding towards the text and your ability to interpret the character’s reasonings. Therefore, I would recommend you to focus on how the character is structuring his/her argument in order to help you to find the strongest argument. Bear in mind that your answer will have to be precise in order to secure full marks. No marks will be awarded to you if your answer is vague and not straightforward.
5. Describe the character’s tone
Here are some examples:
Outraged tone — “Can you stop?”
Astonished tone — “Wow!”
Nostalgic tone — “I missed my hometown”
Patriotic tone — “I am proud to be an Australian.”
Amiable tone — “Nice to meet you.”
Encouraging tone — “You can do it!”
Accusing tone — “How could you make that mistake!”
You can also read through 195 Language Analysis Tonesif you want to learn more tone words in order to drastically improve and expand your vocabulary. You are encouraged to memorise tone words as you will be able to apply them on your Language Analysis section as well!
6. Describe the interaction between the characters
Have a go at analysing it yourself first, then see how I've interpreted the article below! For a detailed guide on Language Analysis including how to prepare for your SAC and exam, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis.
Author: Professor Chris Lee
Type of article: Speech
Date of publication: 25 – 27th October, 2010
Contention: We, as humans must consider our impact on biodiversity and take action to change our lifestyles before we damage the world beyond repair.
Number of article(s): 1
Number of image(s): 2
Source: VCAA website
Note: Persuasive techniques can be interpreted in many ways. The examples given below are not the single correct answer. Only a selected number of persuasive techniques have been identified in this guide.
Taking Stock Analysis
Persuasive technique: Reputable Source
Example: ‘United Nations stated: “It is a celebration of life on earth and of the value of biodiversity in our lives. The world is invited to take action in 2010 to safeguard the variety of life on earth: biodiversity”.’
Analysis: The use of a reputable source indicates that 1) the author has done his research and is therefore credible, 2) his opinion is supported by an expert group, thus strengthening his reasoning and opinion in regards to biodiversity.
Persuasive technique: Rhetorical questions
Example: ‘Has this been a year of celebration of life on earth? Has this, in fact, been a year of action?’
Analysis: The use of rhetorical questions aims to portray to listeners that the answer is obvious, that humans have not done enough to help biodiversity. As a result, listeners are manipulated into agreeing with the author since if they were to refute the answer; it will appear as though they are nonsensical.
Persuasive technique: Personal approach
Example: ‘It is with great pleasure – though not without a tinge of sadness’
Analysis: By introducing himself with ‘it is with great pleasure’, listeners are invited to reciprocate the feeling of welcome for Lee and hence be open to his opinion. His subsequent, ‘though not without a tinge of sadness’ suggests to listeners that he is disappointed with the current state of biodiversity, which may persuade listeners to feel as though they should help fix the situation.
Persuasive technique: Statistics
Example: ‘35% of mangroves, 40% of forests and 50% of wetlands.’
Analysis: The incorporation of the apparently reliable and credible statistics testifies for Lee’s opinion and thus may persuade listeners to believe that it is indeed, ‘too late for [species]’.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to sense of guilt
Example: ‘Due to our own thoughtless human actions, species are being lost at a rate that is estimated to be up to 100 times the natural rate of extinction.’
Analysis: Since the destruction of biodiversity is ‘due to our own thoughtless human actions’, Lee aims to incite a sense of guilt as listeners appear to be selfish, which may urge them to agree that they need to cease being inconsiderate and do more to improve biodiversity.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to humanity
Example: ‘Reversing this negative trend is not only possible, but essential to human wellbeing.’
Analysis: The appeal to humanity, ‘essential to human wellbeing’ encourages listeners to support Lee since it is our instinctive for humans to nurture ourselves and others.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to sense of pride
Example: ‘We are, in truth, the most educated generation of any to date. We have no excuse for inaction.’
Analysis: Through the appeal to a sense of pride, Lee aims to coax listeners into believing that they have ‘no excuse for inaction’ since only those who are ‘intelligent’ would understand and agree with his stance.
Persuasive technique: Attack on the listener
Example: ‘YOUR country – actually done since 2002 to contribute to the achievement of our goals?’
Analysis: The attack aims to leave listeners in a state of vulnerability since it is clear that many have failed to ‘achieve…[the] goals’. Once in this state, listeners may be more inclined to accept Lee’s stance.
Persuasive technique: Appeal for sympathy
Example: ‘Biodiversity loss undermines the food security, nutrition and health of the rural poor and even increases their vulnerability. ‘
Analysis: Though the reference to ‘the rural poor,’ Lee aims to appeal to listeners’ sympathy and may invite support since it is instinctive to wish for the best for humanity, rather than to see the poor experience a lack of ‘food security, nutrition and health.’
Persuasive technique: Appeal to pride
Example: ‘As leaders in the area of biodiversity’
Analysis: The appeal to pride through positioning listeners as ‘leaders’ invites support since it is innate for humans to wish to be thought of as a person who is respected and powerful.
Persuasive technique: Inclusive Language
Example: ‘we know what damage our lifestyle is doing to our world’
Analysis: The use of inclusive language aims to involve listeners with the issue, thus encouraging support since listeners may feel responsible for the future outcome of biodiversity.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to sense of urgency
Example: ‘The time for talk is over: now, truly, is the time for serious action.
Analysis: By appealing to a sense of urgency, Lee aims to urge listeners to take responsibility since it appears as though the damage to biodiversity will be too late if we fail to take ‘serious action…now.’
Persuasive technique: A sense of responsibility
Example: 2010 with outlines of nature
Analysis: The incorporation of a background of ‘2010’ with outlines of animals, plants and humans aims to demonstrate to listeners that earth is shared by all species, with none dominating another in an attempt to gain listeners’ sense of responsibility since they are part of the biodiversity issue, yet can also be the solution to the problem.
Persuasive technique: Pun
Example: ‘Taking Stock’
Analysis: The first meaning used for the pun suggests to listeners that they need to ‘take stock’ or in other words, scrutinise the dire situation of biodiversity in call for much needed attention to the issue. Through referring to the second meaning of ‘stock’ as animals, Lee intends to appeal to a sense of guilt since he projects the idea that humans are cruelly annihilating the environment by ‘taking’ whatever ‘stock’ for their own self-centered purposes.
Persuasive technique: Appeal to responsibility
Example: ‘earth is in our hands’
Analysis: By placing the ‘earth…in our hands,’ Lee aims to urge a sense of responsibility on behalf of the listeners which in turn, may cause them to agree with the notion to take ‘serious action’ in the name of biodiversity.
Persuasive technique: Use of reputable source
Example: ‘Biodiversity is the greatest treasure we have . . . Its diminishment is to be prevented at all costs. Thomas Eisner’
Analysis: The reference to ecologist, Thomas Eisner attempts to persuade listeners to support Lee since experts in the field of biodiversity recommend that the earth needs to be cherished.
Since September 2015, the current affairs has been raging with numerous controversial topics - perfect for your oral presentation! Here are some of the more interesting issues that would be a good starting point for your oral. Remember to offer an interesting and unique argument, even if it may mean adopting the unconventional or unpopular point of view on the issue!
Oral presentation topics 2016
1. Should we have 24 hour public transport on weekends?
2. Gender selective abortion in Australia
3. Should the driving age in Australia be lowered?
4. Cricket star Chris Gayle’s treatment of journalist Mel McLaughlin
5. Should children be vaccinated?
6. Should the voting age in Australia be lowered to 16 years?
7. Should singer Chris Brown be denied entry to Australia?
8. Cultural appropriation in Australia
9. Should an Australian Prime Ministers be removed from office without a general election?
10. Should Australia be a republic?
11. Should the Australian flag be changed?
12. Is Australia Day racist against Indigenous Australians?
13. Adam Goodes booing: Are AFL football crowds racist?
14. Australian of the Year - Rosie Batty: Victim blaming
15. Should UBER be made legal in Australia?
16. Should baby formula be limited in sales?
17. Should greyhound racing be banned in Australia?
18. Is Australia’s border security policy justified?
19. Should Australian Open arenas have sports betting advertising?
20. See more Oral Presentation Topics 2017, click here.
We've all been there. You're moments away from having to deliver your 5-6 minute long oral to all of your classmates and your teacher, and you're still trying to memorise that one bit that you just can't seem to get down pat. It sucks.
For many VCE English students, the oral presentation is the scariest part of the course; it’s often also the first.
Doing a speech can indeed be daunting— you’re marked in real time, you can’t go back and edit mistakes, and the writing part itself is only half the battle. Nonetheless, the oral SAC can also be one of the more dynamic and engaging tasks you complete in VCE English, and there’s plenty of ways to make it more interesting and also more manageable for yourself.
We’ll break the whole process down into three parts (don’t worry, one of these will be the delivery itself) and have a look at ways to tackle each; hopefully, you’ll feel more empowered to give it a go on your own terms. Don't forget to also check out Our Ultimate Guide to Oral Presentations for everything you need to know for Oral Presentations.
Part One: Choosing a good topic
(In this section—researching events & issues, topic ideas)
In the study design, the description that’s given for the Oral Presentation is:
“A point of view presented in oral form using sound argument and persuasive language. The point of view should relate to an issue that has appeared in the media since 1 September of the previous year.”
Besides this restriction on how current/recent your issue is, the expectations themselves for this task are pretty standard (and therefore pretty broad): you
select a topic or point of view
research arguments and supporting evidence; and
position the audience accordingly in your speech
Getting started on this first part can be tricky though, especially if you want to choose something a bit more original or fresh.
In any case, the first thing you need is an event. As a reminder, an event in the VCE English context is anything that happens which also generates opinionated media coverage—so, it’s not just an event but it has to be an event that people have published opinions about, and they have to have been published since September 1.
You might wonder why we don’t go to the issue straight away. Here’s a hypothetical to illustrate: if you asked me to name an issue, the best I could probably come up with off the top of my head is climate change. However, if you asked me to name an event, I’d pretty easily recall the bushfires—something much more concrete which a) has generated specific and passionate opinions in the media; and b) can easily be linked to a wider issue such as climate change.
So where do you find an event? If you can’t think of a particularly interesting one right away, you could always try Wikipedia. Seriously, Wikipedia very helpfully has pages of things that happened in specific years in specific countries, so “2019 in Australia” might well be a starting point. The ABC news archive is also really helpful since you can pick dates or periods of time and see a good mix of news events from then.
I wouldn’t underestimate your own memory here either. Maybe you attended the School Strike for Climate and/or you feel vaguely disappointed in the government. Maybe there was something else happening in the news you remember (even though it is often about the environment these days). It doesn’t have to be from the news though—maybe there was a movie or TV show you watched recently that you have thoughts about. You could really do a speech on any of these, as long as you suspect there might be recent, opinionated media coverage.
Only once you have an event should you look for an issue. This will be a specific debate that comes out of the event, and can usually be framed as a “whether-or-not” question. The bushfires, for example, might generate debate around whether or not the Australian government is doing enough to combat climate change, whether or not Scott Morrison has fulfilled his duties as Prime Minister, whether or not it’s appropriate to discuss policy already when people are still grieving. All of these issues are going to be more current and more focused than just ‘climate change’, so pick one that resonates for your speech. For a list of 2019-20 issue-debate breakdowns (i.e. topic ideas!), give this a read!
From there, you might delve a little deeper into viewpoints around your chosen issue, and you’d do this mostly by reading opinion or analysis articles (rather than hard news reports). Opinion is great to see what other people are thinking, and could help you bolster or reinforce your own arguments, whereas analysis is good to get a little deeper into the implications of and evidence behind the issue. The actual contention itself comes last—even though you might already have an idea what you think about the issue, you’ll be best prepared to articulate it after doing the research first.
Part Two: Writing a good speech
(In this section—register/tone selection, personas, openings, how formal you need to be, drafting & rehearsing)
For this part of the task, I’d keep in mind a specific snippet of its description: the need to use sound argument and persuasive language.
To be fair, persuasive language mightn’t necessarily be something you actively think about when you write persuasively—you wouldn’t ever really be like “hey, this is a great spot to include an appeal to compassion.” However, while you don’t need to start now, it’s good to have in mind a general register for your speech before you start. It’s one of the first things you might analyse in a written essay for good reason—it’s broad and it sets the tone for your argument/s.
With the bushfires for instance, you might contend that even though grief is a strong emotion, it should also be a trigger for resolute, permanent policy reform. But will you come from a frustrated, this-is-what-we’ve-been-saying-for-years register, or a compassionate look-at-the-damage-caused register, or an assertive, we-need-to-bring-the-community-together-first register?
Maybe you can incorporate a bit of each, or maybe (probably) there are more options, but in any case, making this decision first will help with stringing together arguments and incorporating more persuasive language techniques (PLTs). Note that most PLTs can be used across a number of registers, but there are some that might work more effectively with some of these.
Climate activists have been stating the facts for years now; we suffered more extensive damage this bushfire season than ever before and our politicians are still clinging to coal; if this doesn’t trigger change, what will?
Statistics + other evidence
Attacks (on government, climate denialists etc.)
Calls to action
There’s been so much damage, and grief is an understandable and necessary response; if we don’t do something now though, how many more years will we have to suffer through the same (if not worse)?
Appeals to sympathy
Anecdotes (especially if you adopt a persona)
Never before has the community been so united on combating an issue; even international communities are involved; we have to take advantage of how the issue has brought everyone together to enact meaningful, permanent change now.
Generalisations (ALL Australians want change)
Appeals to community and/or hope, optimism
These are things you’ll have to think about for your written explanations, and might also help you shape future research if you need to shore up the speech a little more.
Something you may consider as well is adopting a persona, that is a character and a context for your speech. You don’t have to, but it may help you get started. It can be hard to just write a speech from scratch, but if you’re the mayor of a township affected by the fires and you’re outlining a course of action, it’ll help with your register and outlook.
Openings in general can be tricky though. Try to avoid stating your event, issue and contention outright—the audience doesn’t need to know that “recently, Australia experienced a horrific bushfire season and I’m going to talk about why now is the time to act on climate change.” They’ll figure it out.
Instead, try to start with something that clearly communicates your register and/or persona (if you have one). If you’re a frustrated climate activist, start by illustrating the historical patterns of bushfires getting worse and worse. If you’re a compassionate community-builder, start with anecdotes of the damage. If you’re an assertive leader, explain who you are, what your experience is and how you want to create change. Don’t worry if you feel like the issue won’t be clear enough—again, they’ll figure it out!
The opening also sets the bar for formality in your speech, and it’s honestly up to you how formal you’ll want to be. As a rule of thumb, don’t be so formal that you can’t use contractions (such as “you’ll” and “can’t”)—avoid those in essays for sure, but they’re a natural part of speaking and it’ll feel strange if you don’t use them.
I’d also recommend you draft and rehearse in front of others, highlighting areas where you think are the weakest and asking them for specific advice on those sections at the end. Having specific questions to ask, such as “should I include more data/quantitative evidence in x section?” or “is this specific appeal to x obvious enough?”, also means you get better feedback (since these are much easier to answer than “Was that fine?”).
Part Three: Delivering an engaging presentation
(In this section—body language, eye contact, rehearse rehearse rehearse, tone variation)
Most of you probably find this the most daunting part of the SAC—honestly, me too—but this is the part with the most tried-and-tested tips for success.
With regard to body language, stand with your feet shoulder width apart and, more importantly don’t move your legs. Especially if you’re nervous, swaying or shuffling will be noticeable and make you appear more nervous—when you practise, pay attention to the lower half of your body and train it to stay still if possible. That being said, do use your arms for gestures. Those are more natural and will help engage the audience, though don’t overdo it either—usually, holding cue cards in one hand frees up the other but also stops you from going overboard.
And cue cards brig us up to another important consideration—eye contact. Hold cue cards in one hand as high as you can without it feeling uncomfortable. This means you don’t have to take your eyes away from the audience for too long or too noticeably to check your notes.
Of course, knowing your speech better means having to check your notes less frequently. When I did my speech, I’d read it out aloud to myself 3-5 times a day for a week or two in advance, which made me feel like I was going insane but also meant that my speech was basically memorised. The cue cards were there in case of emergency, but I really didn’t need them at all. Absolutely make sure to rehearse your speech.
Further, when you rehearse, try to pretend that you’re actually delivering the speech. This means:
looking up ahead
holding the cue cards in the right spot; and
not just reading the words but speaking as if to an audience.
This last point is really important—tone variation might come naturally to some but not to others. I always found that building it into rehearsal helped with getting it consistent and natural. Tone variation involves things like emphasising certain words, using pauses or slowing down for effect, or modifying volume. Incorporating some of these elements—even writing them into your notes by bolding/italicising/underlining—will help you break out of monotony and make the speech more engaging as well. Be sure to emphasise things like emotive language and any evidence you might use to illustrate your arguments.
And one last thing—don’t speak too quickly! Easier said than done, but often the icing on the cake for a speech that is memorable for the right reasons.
Wondering where to go from here? Well, luckily, my eBook, How To Write A Killer Oral Presentation, details my exact step-by-step process so you can get that A+ in your SAC this year.
Access a step-by-step guide on how to write your Oral Presentation with simple, easy-to-follow advice
Read and analyse sample A+ Oral Presentations with EVERY speech annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY students achieved A+ so you reach your goal
Learn how to stand out from other students with advice on your speech delivery
Sounds like something that'd help you? I think so too! Access the full eBook by clicking here!
There are a plethora of controversial issues in the current Australian media that may be perfect for your 2017 oral presentation! Below are just a few ideas to get you started on your way towards acing that SAC. Remember, pick a topic that you’re passionate and enthusiastic about. Don’t forget that there is no ‘right’ opinion, however, make sure you offer a distinctive argument, even if it means adopting an alternative point of view. Good luck!
Should the Australian Government ban the wearing of the burka in public?
Should the homeless be banned from Melbourne’s CBD? (Robert Doyle proposal)
Should the Australia Government continue to fund the Safe Schools Coalition?
Should gay marriage be legalised in Australia?
Should the date of Australia Day be replaced/changed?
Treatment of asylum seekers in detention centres (especially women and children)
Is enough action being taken to diminish the sugar industry propaganda to minimise obesity?
Should on – site pill testing be mandatory at all public events?
Cultural insensitivity in Australia
Is the development of technology and social media encouraging narcissism in young adults?
Victoria’s legal system
Stem cell research
Is the development of technology and social media encouraging the sexualisation of boys and girls?
Drug testing and drug control in Australia (Bourke Street attack)
Fake news being published by researchers to the media
Should Victoria’s juvenile justice system be improved by the Government?
Do students learn as effectively with ebooks compared with traditional, hardcopy books?
Should security footage of detention centres be released?
Is Australia becoming an alcohol and sugar driven society?
Has the notion of privacy been compromised in the 21st century? (internet, technology, terrorism)
Before you start writing your oral presentation, you can't miss our A+ tips that have helped hundreds of students get perfect marks in their SAC. Stand out from others with confidence now.
Ransom is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response.
Plot, Analysis, Important Passages and Quotes
Priam is an elderly king of Troy. As a child, his sister Hesione saved him from slavery, and had his named changed from Podarces to Priam, the name meaning ‘the ransomed one’ or ‘the price paid'. After the death of his son Hector, Priam envisions himself in plain clothing, riding a plain cart to Achilles who is effectively holding Hector ransom. His vision is the catalyst for the novel’s events, for his journey is one of learning and self-development. Though the royal family is doubtful of his plan to save Hector, Priam is resolute and insists that he needs to try his best to confront Achilles as a father, rather than as king. After many decades as king of Troy, Priam is determined to reinvent how he will be remembered; as a king who performed an extraordinary act of heroism in order to save his beloved son.
Achilles is known as the greatest warrior of the Greeks. The death of Patroclus, his closest companion and hinted lover, drives Achilles to insanity. Hector murdered Patroclus and, as a result, Achilles takes revenge by killing Hector. He then drags Hector’s dead body along the walls of Troy for the next 11 days. Achilles loses his sense of humanity as he is possessed by his rage, hatred and grief.
Somax is representative of the ‘common man’ in Ransom. He is chosen to escort Priam to Achilles. His simple and plain presence is contrasted with Priam’s royal status. He often engages in useless chatter and performs daily activities in a way that is foreign to the king. Although Somax is far from royalty, his great deal of affection for his daughter-in-law and granddaughter teaches Priam about love, family and life.
Beauty is Somax’s favourite mule. She accompanies Priam and Somax on their journey to the Greek camp where Achilles resides.
Somax’s other mule who carries the cart to Achilles’ camp.
Hecuba is Priam’s beloved wife and mother of Hector. She is initially uncertain of Priam’s vision to save Hector. However, after hearing Priam’s sentimental reasons, she shows support and urges him to first share his plan with their family and the kingdom’s council before he departs.
Hector is Priam’s son and also the leader of the Trojan army. He is kind, brave and noble without any cruel intentions, unlike his rival Achilles. During a battle between the Trojans and the Greeks, Hector kills Patroclus. This results in Achilles challenging Hector to a battle, resulting in Hector’s death and Achilles’ triumph.
Neoptolemus is Achilles’ son. Although he is mentioned throughout Ransom, he makes his first appearance at the end of the novel where he savagely slaughters an old and defenseless Priam in an effort to avenge his father’s death.
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Ransom explores who we are and what it means to have an identity. As the leader of Troy for many decades, Priam has always viewed himself as a king. It appears as though Priam has been unhappy with his identity for quite some time, is physically weak, and feels as though he cannot protect his kingdom as efficiently as he used to. However, the death of Hector is a catalyst for Priam as he realises that he needs to become a ‘father’ rather than the ‘king’ he had become so accustomed to. His search for Hector is also a search for himself, to reinvent who he is and how he wishes others to remember him.
Meanwhile, Somax is designated as the king’s herald, with the name Idaeus. He secretly notes his unhappiness with this name appointment, since he is ‘Somax, not Idaeus'. The name ‘Somax’ is associated with many significant events in his life including his marriage and family, yet the new unfamiliar name strips him of this identity. Somax’s confidence and pride in his identity is starkly contrasted with Priam’s pursuit for an identity transformation.
Malouf demonstrates that it is never too late to change one’s ways. Priam’s determination to change how he is remembered – from just another king leading a regal life to a hero who went to extraordinary lengths to regain his child – demonstrates that change is within our grasp. Even though his beautiful wife Hecuba and the rest of his family have reservations about his desire to confront Achilles, Priam is resolved in taking a ‘chance', rather than achieving nothing by remaining within the walls of his home. Unexpectedly, this one idea propels Priam into a multitude of other changes. His journey with Somax teaches Priam a far greater deal than he had anticipated, for he learns to appreciate the value of the human connection and other daily simplicities in life.
Although Achilles is driven by hatred and anger after Patroclus’ death, as with Priam, he manages to change his ways. He is touched by Priam’s pleas and consequently accepts the ransom and returns Hector’s body. He is able to reach this state of peace by releasing his immoral intentions and even offers to hold a ritual for Hector’s body in the Greek walls that very night. This transformation, from a human who responds to grief with vengeance to someone who releases and forgives, demonstrates the benefits we can gain from amending our ways.
Revenge, Guilt and Peace
Revenge is portrayed as a never-ending vicious cycle until both parties reach a negotiation or peace. After Patroclus’ death, Achilles hunts down Hector in order to avenge his best friend’s early death. Although he is successful in murdering Hector, Achilles does not follow the custom of leaving the body for the grieving family to bury. Instead, Achilles feels the need to mutilate the body day after day without any sense of remorse or regret. His additional need to inflict harm on Hector’s body indicates that revenge will not bring closure. His sense of loss is shown as he reflects feeling empty inside, to the point where he no longer feels like himself, but someone else altogether.
Although Achilles and Priam ultimately find peace within themselves, many years later Achilles’ son Neoptolemus murders Priam, bounded by the same hatred and pain depicted by Achilles. Neoptolemus’ subsequent guilt and regret is carried with him throughout the rest of his life, demonstrating that again, revenge is not the answer to any problem.
Chance and Fate
The role of the gods is heavily woven into the events that unfold in Ransom. Priam only begins his transition and journey after envisioning the goddess Iris, who suggests that he take a ‘chance’ and try to save Hector from Achilles’ camp. During his journey, a jovial young man who joins the travellers is revealed as Hermes, a god who has come to safely guide the elderly men to Achilles. The power of the gods in controlling human fate is illustrated during the scene where Hermes saves the travellers from being swept away by a stream.
Nevertheless, it can also be argued that it is the characters’ decisions that lead them to their fate. Although the gods may have instilled in Priam the idea that he should rescue Hector, it is the king’s determination which is a main driving force for the journey. Even when confronted with doubt and hesitancy from his family, it is Priam who pushes onwards to fulfil his vision. Whether his actions were already predestined or of his own agency is up to you to decide.
Nature Versus Man
Man’s presence on earth is shown to have little significance in comparison to the power of nature. While the events in Ransom teach the characters many valuable lessons, ultimately these meaningful moments in the humans’ lives disappear as one reaches their fate – death. Time moves on beyond our lives as we are forgotten over decades and centuries while nature prevails. Priam’s desire to be remembered by others highlights how little significance a life possesses unless one behaves extraordinarily. Malouf demonstrates that in the end, life just is – we are granted by nature to have a brief existence, yet in the end, nature and time will move forward without us.
Commoners Versus Royalty
Although royalty is portrayed to be blessed with power and authority, it is ironically the commoners in Ransom who appear to have the ‘richest’ (and more fulfilling) lives. For the first time, Priam is exposed to the different interests and values of the common man and is intrigued by the simplicities of life. It is Somax, a mere old man from the marketplace, who teaches Priam more about life than he had imagined possible.
Jove’s eagle is a representation of a bird renowned for its keen sight. The presence of Jove’s eagle during Priam and Somax’s departure hints that the gods will safely guide their journey as the bird behaves as a lookout. Furthermore, the symbol of the eagle’s powerful vision is contrasted with Priam’s ‘blindness’ at the beginning of the journey since he is yet to experience the outside world. It is during the journey that he learns about himself and others, and thus, improves his ‘sight.’ Coincidently, Jove’s eagle is no longer mentioned when Priam is endowed with his new insight.
The royal cart is ‘a fine new one, the marks of the adze still visible on its timbers. The twelve-spoked wheels are elaborately carved and painted, a wickerwork canopy covers the tray'. On all occasions, the king had used this elegant cart to alert others that royalty was present. The use of this cart demonstrates how Priam has been encapsulated in his own royal sphere since everything is meticulously chosen and designed specifically for the king. Nevertheless, his demand for a ‘common work cart’ depicts his determination for a simple approach to Achilles, as a father to another father. This simplicity highlights Priam’s desire to become just another man and father, anonymous in the plain cart with the hopes of retrieving Hector.
Priam as a Child
At the beginning of the journey, Priam is characterised with childish traits. When Somax urges Priam to dabble his feet in the stream, words such as ‘obedient toddler', ‘three uncertain steps', and ‘happy smile’ reflect the actions of a young child trying new experiences. This childish nature is contrasted with Priam’s old and frail age, which demonstrates that although he has lived a life in royalty, his lack of exposure to ‘real life’ has left him crippled of the simplest experiences such as the cooling effect of feet in water and eating delicious homemade cookies.
The cakes Somax brings along during the journey highlight Priam’s lack of knowledge of even the simplest things. For Somax, the little griddlecakes are a regular and delectable snack, yet Priam 'ha[s] never seen them before'. Priam’s unfamiliarity with the cakes represents his isolation from the ‘real world’ since he has been deprived from things that even commoners view as ordinary.
Futhermore, Somax’s lengthy chatter about his daughter-in-law cooking the cakes with the ‘batter bubbling and setting and turning a golden brown’ prompts Priam to think about the activities in his kingdom that occur behind closed doors. He had previously never noticed that there was so much preparation and work that went into the food that appeared at his table, let alone the ingredients and thickness of a batter. These matters had been of little concern to Priam, yet he realises that even the ‘common and low…activities and facts of life, had an appeal'.
Although Achilles drags Hector’s body across the walls of Troy for eleven days, each morning he would return to find Hector’s body healed of any wounds, and absent of any physical damage to his body. This is a cruel reminder of the god’s ability to ‘toy around’ with the Ancient Greeks’ lives. Hector’s body also symbolises how revenge is not the answer to any conflict, since dealing with a tragic loss through revenge does not gain anything but more pain and suffering.
Although Priam initially believes he understands the distress of losing a son, Somax’s experience of losing his son is driven with emotions that Priam had never previously experienced. When sharing the story of his son’s death, Somax sniffles, an ‘odd habit’ according to Priam. The use of ‘odd habit’ to describe Somax’s sadness demonstrates how Priam has never truly felt the loss of his son, but only the loss of a royal relationship between king and prince.
Later on, Somax once again ‘snuffles’ and ‘rubs his nose’ at the thought of the ending to their journey. Similarly, Priam makes ‘small sounds', presumably crying as well. The transformation of Priam from someone who failed to empathise with Somax’s tears at the beginning of the journey to a man filled with emotions demonstrates that Priam undergoes both a physical and metaphysical journey where he undergoes self-development and appreciation of the world around him.
4. Plot, Analysis, Important Passages and Quotes
Achilles, the greatest warrior of the Greeks, stands next to the sea while reminiscing about the past. After his mother’s death he had ‘entered the rough world of men’ (p. 6) where wars and battles prevail. Every morning, he feels the need to ‘tramp to shore’ (p. 10) since he is haunted by the death of his ‘soulmate and companion’ Patroclus, and his raging hatred towards Hector, killer of Patroclus and thus, the ‘implacable enemy'.
When Achilles was a child, his cousin Patroclus came to live with the young Achilles since the former had killed the son of a high official of the royal court due to a ‘quarrel over a game of knucklebones’ (p. 11). In need of asylum, Patroclus came to live with Achilles’ family. As the years passed, the pair grew closer to the extent where Achilles believes that ‘he had mated with Patroclus’ (p. 15).
When the tide of the battle was against the Greeks, Patroclus disguises himself in Achilles’ armour in order to instill fear in the Trojans and cause them to return to the safety of their walls, thus providing temporary relief for the Greeks. In his last act for his closest friend, Patroclus is killed in battle*. The death of Patroclus left Achilles with an overwhelming sense of loss and also burning animosity. Achilles whispers that he will join Patroclus soon, but firstly, he has to avenge Patroclus’ killer, Hector.
Hector, the son of Trojan king Priam and leader of the Trojan army, wore Achilles' armour as a sign of triumph and disrespect for the Greeks. In a dramatic battle between Hector and himself, Achilles was successful in killing his enemy. Achilles’ Myrmidons then stripped Hector of his armour and ‘without pity…plunged their swords into Hector’s unprotected flesh’ (p. 24). For Achilles however, this was not enough. Still fuelled by his pain, Achilles ties Hector’s body to a chariot and drags it ‘up and down under the walls of Troy’ (p. 26) as the dead warrior’s royal family devastatingly watches on. Achilles feels like a ‘dead man…feeling nothing’ (p. 26), unable to seal the void left by his beloved friend.
The next day, Achilles is furious to find Hector’s body ‘smoothly sealed and the torn flesh made whole again'. His men cannot bear to look at him as he drives the chariot with Hector’s body along the walls of the Trojans once again. Afterwards he quickly falls asleep, into ‘oblivion’ (p. 35) as he struggles with the shame and guilt of his actions. He is ‘waiting for a break…something new and unimaginable’ in his life.
The Human Side
Along with the conflict between Greece and Troy, Ransom also delves into the consequences of those affected by the war. As the greatest warrior of all Greeks, Achilles has lived his life as a fighter. Nevertheless, his pathway in life has led him to believe that ‘such a life is death to the warrior spirit’ (p. 7). While warriors are known for sacrificing their lives in the battlefield, Achilles does not literally refer to warriors confronting death each time they fight for their team. In fact, ‘death to the warrior spirit’ means to metaphorically lose what it means to ‘live’ when one experiences bloodshed in each war. Growing up surrounded by ‘the rough world of men’ (p. 6), Achilles develops traits of aggression, cruelty and vengefulness in order to become an implacable man of war. As a consequence, Achilles only knows how to deal with Patroclus’ death with a fighter’s mindset. Instead of grieving openly, ‘he never permit[s] himself to betray to others what he [feels]’ (p. 5), thus detaching himself from the natural human process of grieving. In order to deal with his friend’s tragic ending, Achilles' ‘soul chang[es] colour’ as drags Hector’s body for eleven days without any sense of regret or remorse, and thus, is referred to as ‘death to his human spirit’ since he was no longer ‘a living man’ (p. 27). He faces Patroclus’ death with the same warrior traits of aggression, cruelty and vengefulness, depriving himself of any ability to humanely mourn his close friend’s death.
Furthermore, Achilles grieves for his mother in the opening passages of Ransom. During this time of loss, his mother symbolises Achilles’ need to be nurtured. The imagery of the sea surface as a ‘belly’ and ‘a membrane stretched to a fine transparency’ (p. 3) represents his mother’s pregnancy where he ‘had hung curled in a dream of pre-existence’ for ‘nine changes of the moon’ – or in other words, nine months of pregnancy. Achilles is characterised as a foetus, for his position is ‘chin down, shoulders hunched’ as though he is inside a womb. Although Achilles is a fighter, he hides the fact that he wishes to be ‘rocked and comforted’ by his mother, thus demonstrating that even beneath the surface of a cold-hearted warrior, the current of human emotions can cripple a man’s confident veneer.
If you'd like to read more of my analysis, feel free to access a sample of our ebook A Killer Text Guide: Ransom. In this ebook, I cover Plot, Analysis, Important Passages and Quotes so you can prepare for your SAC and exam. I've also included 5 Sample A+ English essays on Ransom, complete with annotations so you know exactly what you need to do in your next essay to achieve an A+.