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1. What do Year 10s Learn in English?
2. Year 10 English Curriculum Breakdown
3. Year 10 English Texts
4. How To Get Good Marks in Year 10 English?
1. What do Year 10s Learn in English?
Year 10 English is when the Pre-VCE year kicks in. Most schools will treat it as an opportunity to expose you to the VCE curriculum, but with Year 10 level texts. This means they’ll cover the same assessment tasks and begin teaching you the skills you need to have by the time you get to VCE.
Other schools will use this year to prepare students for the different English subjects that are offered at the VCE level, so they can decide by the end of the year. These may include VCE English/EAL, VCE Literature and VCE English Language.
For this blog, we’ll focus on the current Victorian Year 10 Curriculum (this will be updated as they change).
Similar to the VCE years (Year 11-12), most Year 10’s will be expected to complete the following assessment tasks:
Comparative text response
Creative (with a written explanation)
Under each area of study, there will be key skills that you will need to learn to nail the accompanying assessment tasks.
Considering what you would have learnt in Year 9, Year 10 builds on those skills a bit further. Fundamentally, you would need to provide more detail whenever you’re expected to analyse evidence or provide an explanation and there will be specific essay structures your teacher will want you to follow. This may vary depending on your school.
When you begin annotating your text, look for the following:
Key ideas explored by the author
Characterisation and character transformation
Stylistic features used by the author, such as symbolism, motifs, etc.
Words you don’t understand (and then define them)
To help you have a better understanding of your text, teachers will usually assign you comprehension questions about your text and that will be their way of easing you into writing analytical body paragraphs.
Examples of prompts you may receive for text response include:
‘Night paints a vivid picture of a broken society in a broken place.’ Discuss.
‘Holden’s critique of phonies in The Catcher in the Rye is his way of critiquing society.’ Do you agree?
As important as the keywords are in the prompt, you need to be able to identify the type of prompt you have chosen to answer. Similarly, you must take some time to familiarise yourself with the task words that commonly pop up in prompts.
This is oftentimes deemed to be the most difficult area of study students will complete in English. Instead of just interpreting and analysing one text, you’re now presented with two texts you will need to find common ideas and themes to discuss.
To get in the high-scoring range you will need to do the following to help you stand out from the rest of your classmates:
Constantly form links between the texts and the prompt you’re answering
Consistent and detailed comparison throughout the essay between the two texts
Be able to demonstrate a depth understanding of the texts
Refer back to the writer’s views and values (their intention/message to the reader)
Explore the different ideas expressed by the author
Examine HOW the author has created certain effects on the reader, taking into consideration their use of narrative and stylistic choices
If you would like to know the pros and cons of the different comparative essay structures you can follow, check out this blog.
This particular assessment will generally be based on the text you have studied with your class. It may be a collection of short stories, a novel, poems, etc. The majority of the time, teachers will expect you to pick one of the characters from the text and write an alternate plot for them while also mirroring the style of the original text.
Sometimes, teachers will allow you to pick the story and character you get to focus on, other times, they’ll provide you with a list you can choose from. If you’re given free rein for this task, check out our creative ideas you can adopt.
A written explanation usually accompanies this assessment task as well. This is where you break down your creative task for your teacher, sharing with them your purpose for writing it the way you have. You will address your language choices, themes, literary devices used, intended audience, etc. This tends to be around 200 words in length. Here’s a blog that explains HOW you can write the best written explanation.
Some more creative writing resources to help you out with this assessment:
Mimicking the analysing argument essay you will need to complete in both Year 11 and Year 12, you will be expected to:
Demonstrate your understanding and knowledge of both written and visual features of persuasion in your analysis (this is where the intended effect of the writer comes into play)
Be able to identify and explain your assumptions with sophistication
Show insightful knowledge of both explicit and implicit meaning within the texts
Prove that you know HOW language choices can influence the audience
Use relevant metalanguage (this may include persuasive devices, language or visual techniques)
Some schools like to pick a specific issue to focus on, for instance, social media. All of the articles and tasks they assign their students to analyse will then be focused on this issue. Other schools will expose their students to a variety of different issues. Either way, you will be exposed to a variety of persuasive material and forms, including opinion pieces, speech transcripts, editorials, cartoons, etc. This is elaborated on in The Ultimate Guide to VCE Language Analysis.
Different schools will teach different analysis techniques. One of the most common ones includes the WHAT-HOW-WHY method. This will be applicable when you move into Year 11 and 12 English too.
Introductions for this particular essay are just as straightforward and can be quite formulaic. Check out our YouTube video on how to write an A+ language analysis introduction to learn the elements you need in an argument analysis introduction. If you’re curious about the writing process for the entire essay, then check out this video.
A lot of the time in Year 10, you will also be unpacking media advertisements. This will tie into the argument analysis area of study.
Here, you may be analysing HOW and WHY advertisements are created the way they are and the choices made by the creator to influence the specific target audience. Sometimes, you will also have the opportunity to create your own! If this is the case, you will also most likely write up a written explanation of around 200-300 words explaining the choices you have made.
3. Year 10 English Texts
As you would have read in The Ultimate Guide to Year 9 English, reading is one of the most important skills that need to be maintained as you progress through high school.
Here is a list of 10 texts many students at a Year 10 level may have read:
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
How many of these texts can you tick off the list?
4. How To Get Good Marks in Year 10 English?
a) Knowing Where to Start
Of course, it’s important to acknowledge your strengths in English; however, to improve upon your marks and do even better, you will also need to fine-tune your weaknesses. Merely relying on strengths won’t be enough anymore.
Identify the skills you need to improve and be specific!
For example, ‘I need to make my introductions shorter and simpler’ or ‘I will plan my essay more extensively so I will know which pieces of evidence will be relevant for each body paragraph.’
If this is the case, writing a million essays won’t get you to where you want to be. It would be inefficient and a waste of everyone’s time. Hone down your focus to one or two things, instead of every skill that falls under essay writing.
Referring back to the above example, if you want to make your introductions shorter and simpler, read through a few sample high-scoring introductions and test them you can adopt for an introduction and know which one will work best for you. Or if your pain point is the planning process, compile different essay planning templates and use them in your essay planning so you can narrow down your options for different types of prompts.
As we’ve explained in our Instagram post on the feedback loop, getting feedback for your essay or paragraph from your teacher and tutors will also help you improve much faster!
If you’re not familiar with the essay writing feedback loop process, it goes:
Step 1: Write a paragraph(s) or essay
Step 2: Get input on what works and fix what doesn’t (this input can come from your teacher and/or tutor)
Step 3: Redraft or write a new one to test your skills
Step 4: Repeat
Whether it’s just a plan, an introduction, a body paragraph or even a complete essay, taking the initiative to seek help from your teacher will provide you with clarity on what it is you need to be working on. This is crucial if you want to jump from a C grade to an A+.
Each time you write a practise essay or paragraph, you should have a goal in mind so you know what you’re trying to improve upon. This way, you can cut down your workload and reduce study time!
I would recommend you do this as many times as necessary until you get that 10/10 essay so you can use it as a template or model essay in the future!
c) Write Under Timed Conditions
Even though a lot of the time in Year 10, teachers will be a bit more lenient so they’ll permit you to bring in a cheat sheet into the exam or assessment. However, that doesn’t always mean you’ll be able to finish on time, so it’ll serve you best to do some additional practise essays under timed conditions.
Some things to look out for when you do practise writing timed essays or paragraphs:
Ensuring that your handwriting is legible
Trial and error different types of planning methods to find which suits you best
Know the essay structure you want to adopt for the particular essay
Avoid ‘fluff’ (unnecessary details) and get straight to the core idea and analysis since that is where you’ll get the marks
Hey, guys. You can see that I am holding a stylus, which means we're doing something different today. Today's the first time that I'm going to be analyzing an article. Because I know that a lot of you are actually studying analyzing argument or basically language analysis, where you get an article, usually it's called material, and you have to analyze what persuasive techniques the author is using. Now, this is actually my favorite part of the English course. So I don't know why it took me so long to do this, but I'm actually really excited to start this sort of segment. If you do enjoy what you've watched at the end of this video then give me that like. Because I'll really appreciate it because I'll know if you guys actually do like it or not, and I'll make more of these if so.
Basically, the way I'm doing this is very much like how I teach my students inside my tutoring sessions with them. I'm going to be going through the article with you and highlighting language techniques we see and then interpreting them. So, trying to understand why it's persuasive or trying to understand why authors try to use these persuasive techniques to persuade people to agree with their argument. Now, obviously, it's not going to be exactly like a tutoring session because I didn't want this video to be too long. So, I'm going to go through it a little bit of haste, but hopefully still with enough detail for you to be able to take away and be able to do more of it on your own.
I'm going to be looking down because I have a stylus on me, which I borrowed from my lovely nephew, Alex. Thank you, Alex. And actually uses this computer for school. Lols. I have attached the PDF to this article in the description box below.
Now, this is a very old article from VCAA, back in the year 2000. Now, the reason why I chose such an old article was because: one, it's still really relevant despite its age. The things that we're doing today, in today's study design, is still very much so similar to what they did back in the day. The second thing was, I didn't want to do an article that I felt a lot of you had already done. I wanted to be able to offer you something new and bring something new to the table, basically.
So before we get started, what I want you to do is download this article in the description box below. Make sure you have a read of the article, and then try to analyze it on your own before we actually get started. This way you can compare the things that you've found versus the things that I found, and I think you might be very surprised to see that we'll probably have different interpretations.
The focus of today's video is really just to identify language techniques and to try to understand why they've been used. There are other elements of the criteria that need to be covered and they will be in due time. But that's just something that I wanted to focus on first because I want to make sure that you guys have got the fundamentals down pat. As always, reading background information is critical for your understanding of the issue.
As you can see here, we've got a report of Ms. Smith, principal of Anyton Secondary College, to the annual general meeting of the school council. So it's clear from her report that she is very concerned this year at the rising level of absenteeism among the middle school students. Also, it says, "How can students learn if they're not in class?" In the end, she writes: "So I urge the school council to devise a policy that will enable us to put an end to this epidemic of truancy. We need to take a firm line to ensure all our students are in school."
Okay. So now that we've read the background information and we understand the context of the situation, let's now move into the first article. So the first article has been written by a parent, Tom Frost. So automatically, we can see that he is a parent, which goes to show that there are some credentials there. So credentials, basically, is what's the title of the person who's writing the article. The fact that he is a parent goes to show that he is someone who is actually invested in the education of students, so we as readers may be more inclined to believe him or trust him because he obviously has a child at that school, and so he wants the best for that child. So, let's hear what he has to say. "I'd like to speak against the proposal of the principal, Ms. Smith, to come down on truancy like a ton of bricks."
Okay. So, automatically, we can see that he has labeled truancy and Ms. Smith's proposal like a ton of bricks. Now, if we think about a ton of bricks, to me, a ton of bricks is an idiom. An idiom is like a saying. So it's related to the idea that something is a burden, and so he's making truancy seem like a burden, so something that's not a good thing. So, from the get-go, he makes Ms. Smith's proposal of a policy on truancy something that has negative connotations. Next, he says, "Let's not get too carried away with this truancy issue." The fact that he uses let's is inclusive language.
This should be quite easy for you guys to pick up. Whoops. If only I knew how to spell language. Okay, fine. I'll spell it properly.
So, why do we actually use inclusive language? Inclusive language usually involves words like let's, we, our. And these create the sense that there is a collective responsibility that we hold. So, potentially as readers, we could even be parents ourselves who feel like we need to get involved in the issue in order to actually have an impact on what's happening here. The fact that he doesn't just say, "Ah, I'm not going to get carried away with this truancy issue," and he says, "Let's not get carried away," automatically includes you on his team and so may make you more inclined to support his idea. To add onto the sense that there is quite a bit of credibility, he says, "I've got three kids here." So, I believe that that compounds his credentials; his authority in this matter. So, as a parent, he should know what's good and what's not so good for his children, unlike the principal who is just an authoritative figure.
He then goes on to say, "I'm not sure they need to be chained to their desks all day." This is a great one. This is a metaphor. This metaphor of the children being chained to their desks all day, it doesn't sound great, does it? To be chained to something implies that you've been imprisoned or that maybe it's even likened to slavery. So if we're thinking of kids as being imprisoned and enslaved, obviously, this is something that we definitely don't want, and so he really pushes us from supporting Ms. Smith's policy and feeling sympathetic to these students.
Seven days a week itself also compounds on this metaphor. I would say that by saying it's seven days a week, he really leaves no room for there to be argument. To me, this is exaggeration. Why? Because students are only at school five times a week, so to say seven days is already an exaggeration. But he does this in order to really stress this idea that this policy is definitely a no-go. None of us would want our children... We're not parents, but let's just say, if we're in the position of a parent reading this article, none of us would want our children to be chained to desks seven days a week, would we?
He goes on to say, "Is it so bad to wag school?" Here we have a rhetorical question. Sorry. I switched from a thicker pen with exaggeration back to the normal one because I think it's a little bit too thick. Rhetorical questions are generally put there in order to get you thinking. And rhetorical questions tend to have an obvious answer that you should be agreeing to. So, when he says, "Is it so bad to wag school?" it's not the same as openly asking, "What do you think about wagging school?" where you're then open to the opportunity to support it or not to support it. Whereas, the way that he phrases it, "Is it so bad to wag school?" is already urging you to say, "Ah, of course not." So, at the same time, he belittles this issue. He dismisses the issue of wagging school and turns it into something that is just to be thrown away; something that shouldn't really be a concern of parents. So, at the same time there, I'm going to say that there's belittling there.
He then goes on to say, "After all, most of us have wagged school without coming to grief or causing trouble, haven't we?" That's generalization, right there. Whoops. Why can't I write on this side? Generalization is done when we want to make it sound like something is super common. By saying "Most of us," he collectively involves everyone to make it seem as though everyone has wagged school before, so really, what's the issue?
Next, he says, "In our house." Okay. This, I believe, really draws upon family values. By now including his home, he is saying that this is an issue that just goes beyond just kids wagging school or kids not being at school. It's a family value. "The fact that they don't go to school is something that they call mental health days." He puts a positive spin on the negatively connotated truancy, and because a lot of people are advocates for mindfulness, meditation, and looking after ourselves, this is something that may encourage readers to agree with the author.
Okay, continuing on. "Seems to me there are good reasons why kids play truant." Play is a really interesting word choice. By using the word play, it definitely dumbs down the issue and makes it seem something super lighthearted. Because when kids play, of course, it's just fun. It's joyful. And so, he's making this issue of truancy, basically, a game. So again, it's like it's not a serious issue and it underplays the principal's point of view.
If we skip ahead a little bit, he even says, "I can see from your nods." So here, again, it's like the collective response. He's already indicating, through his speech, that everyone pretty much agrees with him and so should you. Then there's rubbish. Rubbish has negative connotations. You get reminded of words like waste, garbage, and nonsense, which undermines the idea of independent and flexible learning, as though it's something that actually isn't really that helpful. He then continues to say, "Kids decide to find out about life firsthand." What he's saying here is that kids actually need to experience things themselves.
Let's move into our final paragraph. He says now, that "School started out as places to educate kids and then became kind of a childcare for big kids." The imagery there... I would say imagery, you don't have to use imagery. You could say negative connotations. You could say metaphor. You could label it whatever you want. For me, I get this picture of a childcare with really old kids that are like teenagers running around in the cradles, kids in cots, playing with little games, and it's just nonsensical. In addition to this, by saying that school is like a childcare, he suggests that school isn't really a place that has children's best interests at heart; now they're part of the remand system.
Remand is legal jargon. I actually didn't even know what this word meant, so I had to look it up. But if you use jargon, you're using words from a certain field that most people won't be familiar with. So lawyers, obviously, will be really familiar with terms like being on being on bail, custody, defense, prosecution. Words like that, that say, for me, as an everyday person who might only know a little bit about the law, because I've watched quite a few legal dramas on TV, that's when it becomes jargon; when it's vocabulary that's beyond just the everyday person. So, here you could say that it's legal jargon and that he is now creating the picture of a school, not as a place for education, but a place where people are in custody. So, they're in custody of the school, which sounds terrible, doesn't it?
He goes on to keep using inclusive language. So, that is some repetition that is used throughout his piece. To sum up, he says, "You hear all these things about drop-in centers, buddies, big sister programs, peer support, and other schemes. Why can't we try some of these than hounding students endlessly?" Rhetorical question. It's interesting that he has now offered alternative solutions. This is something that may encourage other people to agree with him because he's not just slamming down the principal's suggestion, but he's offering his own solution to the problem. Which implies that he has carefully thought this through, and he has thought about other ways they can improve on absenteeism. Moreover, you could even say that maybe the principal hasn't been doing her job because if she had been trying drop-in centers, buddies, big sister program, maybe she wouldn't be at this point where she's trying to enforce the truancy policy.
That's just where I'm going to leave it today. I didn't want this video to stretch out too long for you guys, so I didn't go into as much detail as I could have. But that's to say that there are plenty more language techniques for you guys to pick up. It's your job now to have a read of it again and see if you guys can find anything else. I'm going to respond to every single one of you who has analyzed something and left it in the comment section below.
I also wanted you guys to know that I have an online course called How to Achieve A+ in Language Analysis. If you're somebody who struggles with language analysis and you've found this video helpful, or you've liked my teaching style, then I encourage you to check it out. I've just updated some of the videos for 2018 so that it's up to date, and I share with you all the secrets that I discovered when I achieved A+ in my own language analysis SACs and in the exam when I was in year 12. I'll put it down in the description box just down below. And next week, we're going into part two of this article, where we're going to analyze Rosemary Collins' letter, so I'll see you guys then. Bye!
[Video 2 Transcription]
Hey guys, welcome to part two of the article that we'll be analyzing today on the topic of truancy. If you haven't watched my previous video where I analyze the first article in this language analysis, then I'll just put it in the card up above. But if you have, then you're ready to join me on this next part.
Last week, we looked into Tom Frost's speech, whereas this week we're going to be looking at Rosemary Collins. I will be looking down here, so don't mind me, and I'll be annotating live for you guys as we do this. So just to reinforce on what I said last week, I can't possibly go through every single language technique here with you, especially because I don't want this video to be too long. So I'll just be choosing the ones that stand out to me, and I'll be sharing with you the language technique that it's called or how I would call it, and why I think the author might use that in an attempt to persuade the audience.
So let's begin here with Rosemary Collins. So Rosemary herself is... I thought I can expand it. That's cool. All right. So Rosemary herself is a parent. We know that because of this down here. So she automatically uses her credentials from the get-go. So as somebody who uses their credentials, we may be more inclined as the audience to agree with what she's saying because, one, she's a parent, so she has a child at the school, and so therefore has their best interests at heart.
Now, unlike the first article, what we can see here is an image. It's a key and on it says, "Key Educational Consultants," and it has the address. I think this image is really interesting because keys are usually indicative of safety, of the answer, or something that is trustworthy. So it definitely shines a positive light on Rosemary Collins, who is some sort of Key Educational Consultant. So not only is she a parent, but she seems to hold quite a high position when it comes to something involving education. She is a consultant herself, so maybe that means that she shares her advice with other people and people actually pay her for this, so therefore maybe we're more inclined to support her point of view.
Additionally, we could also identify a pun here. Further credibility. The final thing I would say here is that there as a pun. So with key, it's not only the physical key, but it's the key as though it's the answer. So as you can see just from the one image, we've been able to find at least three different language techniques. So don't be afraid to go into this much details, teachers actually love this.
So we've already established that she's writing as a parent and we've talked about that. Now she goes on to talk about how she's a consultant, so I feel like we've touched on that, so I won't go into that again. But then she goes on to talk about how it is a complex issue and that it will not be solved by a punitive model of discipline, one which is both ineffective and... Woops my camera turned off. Sorry, lost the battery. So let's make this super quick.
By saying punitive model of discipline, punitive itself means punishment, so here essentially she's saying that it's a form of punishment, which actually reminds me of Frost's comment earlier, that students would be chained to their desks. So you call that negative connotations, if you would like to. One of my favorite ones. One of my favorite language techniques to use. Okay, the word alienating is interesting as well. School should be a place that's welcoming, it should be inclusive, comforting, but not alienating, going against everything that school should represent. So the portrayal of this discipline model is a negative one.
So if we jump ahead into the next body paragraph, I'm just going to group a few things together. She uses research and statistics, particularly in Victoria as well. So we know from early on that she is a researcher, so that's credible within itself, because she is someone who's experienced in the field and someone who has done her research and she's knowledgeable. She uses statistics, and statistics itself is seemingly factual, it's something that we can't refute and, therefore, we may be more inclined to agree with her based on those facts. Moreover, she includes the fact that they're in Victoria, so this means that it's relevant and applicable to us as readers because pretty much all the students who'll be doing this article will be from Victoria. Because it affects us directly, we might be more inclined to therefore agree with what she's saying.
She also mentioned that students who do not attend school regularly are disengaged socially and educationally. So what this does is it absolves students of the blame, as though it's not their fault. There is a reason why they don't show up at school. And so the concern and the focus should really be on that, rather than just punishing them even more and therefore alienating them even further. This might connect with parents who especially don't want their children to be unfairly blamed.
In her last sentence, she says that students absent from school due to an impediment are equally deserving of attention according to their needs. So again, this is reinforcing the fact that it's not the student's fault, but we need to work harder at lifting them up, so that they do receive equal attention. And it's implied that this hasn't been happening. She says our school. In our last video, we talked about inclusive language and how that encourages people to agree.
She talks now about a holistic approach to absenteeism. So like Frost, she offers her own solution to the matter, rather than just slamming down the principle's policy. Now we're looking at something that is about the entire community. So if we go ahead with a holistic approach, it's as though everyone wins and as readers, we might be more inclined to agree with this because we always want the best for everyone's interests. She elaborates by talking about alternative curriculum options, positive community service experiences. So by offering her own solution, she now is encouraging readers to agree with what she's saying. And she ties it in with four other students going to show that it's not just a one-size-fits-all. Every student is different and so, therefore, the way that we go about helping them should be different as well.
Oh my gosh. I'm so sorry. I just realized that I forgot to annotate the articles. I'll do that in a second and attach the PDF to this annotated version for you in the comment section below. The last thing I would want to talk about is how she mentions, "I would be happy to be part of a working group." So she's not just talking, but she's actually going to walk the talk. Therefore, we should trust her judgment because even she is a willing participant of her own solutions. So if that's the case, then we're more inclined to agree with her.
Lastly, she concludes with her credentials. So of course that ends up on that high note to ensure that we do trust for her and to show that she is somebody who is deserving of our trust. So that ends off my analysis of this particular article.
If you wanted more information or you like the way that I teach language analysis, then you might be interested in my online course, How to achieve A+ plus in Language Analysis. It's had over 300 students participate and an overall rating of 4.5 stars, so I'm really happy to say that I believe this course has been doing really well at helping those who struggle in language analysis. So if you're somebody who struggles from the basics of not knowing how to identify a language technique to somebody who is unsure of how to explain how it persuades or somebody else who struggles with analyzing the argument and seeing how the argument comes together and develops, then I would strongly encourage you to go ahead and check it out.
Otherwise, there are plenty of language techniques that I haven't covered just yet. And I'm sure that you guys have interpreted some of the language techniques I've found here differently. I'd absolutely love to hear what you guys have to say. Leave it in the comment section below, and let's all work together to do well in language analysis over this next term. Can't wait to see you guys next week. Bye!
[Video 3 Transcription]
Hey guys. So what am I talking about? So recently, I released a new segment where I talk about analyzing argument and I analyzed an actual article with you. I haven't done it before, but from what I can see, you guys are actually really enjoying it. I want to remind you guys that I am doing a analyzing argument livestream next Friday, the 27th after school at 5:00 PM. So if you have any questions for me I encourage you to start asking away. I'll put the link to the livestream below for you guys so you can hit that link and then go and set up a reminder for yourself. There's also a chat section there for you to actually start answering your questions. So do that because you know, I need questions to start off with, to answer. If you get in early, then I'll probably start off with yours.
So heck yeah, let's answer this. Asa has asked me, "Hey, Lisa. This video was super helpful, but I was wondering if next time you could include a section where you translate annotations and put it into a paragraph. I know in order to get a high mark you shouldn't be focusing too much on the techniques, but rather in a more holistic way. It'd be pretty cool to see which ones out of the bunch you annotate you choose to include in your analysis. Thank you."
I eventually wanted to get up to this point and talk more about structuring an essay and how to organize it in a body paragraph. But I was trying to figure out what to do for this video. Then I thought, "You know what, why not just do it now?" Obviously, with analyzing argument or language analysis, however you want to call it, it's a big section in the exam and there's a lot to cover. So I'm not going to go into too much detail about how I actually structure the essay for language analysis, because I think that is most suited to an entire video in itself. But I thought I would at least just create one paragraph for you guys just to give you a little bit of an idea of how I would go about it so you can walk away from this video with a little bit of extra knowledge to help you with your language analysis.
So basically, in the paragraph that I've created, you'll see that I don't use every single language technique that I have found, and that's the whole point. You want to be at that skillset where you can find so many language techniques, but you're so good that you know that you can't analyze absolutely everything, so you go and choose the gems out of the lot. So choose the ones that you think will help you set yourself apart from other students. For example, I always try to encourage my students not to necessarily always talk about stats or rhetorical questions or inclusive language, because those ones are super obvious. They're the ones that everyone can find.
So of course, you don't just strategize your essay and choose techniques that you think no one else is going to write about. Because, what if that rhetorical question is actually a really strong one where you could elaborate and say something really insightful about it, right? So it's all a balancing game. Let's just get into the paragraph and give you guys a look. What I do is I base paragraph according to ideas. Now, every single author who creates an article has a main contention, but what we're after now are the smaller ideas that the author makes in order to support that overall contention. One idea that I have chosen to talk about is the idea of what school has become, or the current school culture. In my paragraph, I have included a few language techniques that I believe fit into this overall idea.
So Frost highlights the current and unpleasant school culture in an effort to rile support from other parents. You can see here that this is the idea that I'm focused on. His use of the metaphor, chained to their desk all day, suggests how children are being imprisoned by their schooling. Especially since it's seven days a week. This may deter parents from supporting the principal's absenteeism policy, as they feel as though their children are spending more than enough time at school.
You can see here that I've included one language technique, and it's the metaphor. The main reason why I've included this metaphor is because the idea that children are chained to their desk all day really reflects the school culture and attitude of Frost's child school.
Next I say, Frost compounds this idea of trapped children through highlighting that school is now a childcare for big kids, rather than a place to educate kids. The childcare works to portray the school, and by extension the principal, as incompetent at their job of raising an independent next generation. As a result, disgruntled parents may resist the idea of a truancy policy as it becomes apparent that more times at school is unlikely to equal better outcomes for the child.
I've inputted a second language technique here, and I've really focused on the idea itself though. I'm emphasizing the fact that this school, as it is right now, is just not a good place to be. You can see that I'm being consistent with this idea, because I start off the sentence with, "Frost compounds this idea," showing the link with my own sentences.
Then I move on. Moreover, Frost's declaration that school is now a remand system may further encourage parents to support his case, as it is implied that children are being held custody by the school. His passion may strike a chord with other parents who feel alienated by the seemingly impenetrable school culture, with which they find it difficult to contribute or influence.
So I finished off this paragraph with a third and final language technique. As you can see here, what I am focused on more as a writer of this essay is the idea of school culture. With that, I try to find language techniques that work with it. I don't do it the other way around, where I base it off a language technique and try to cram, I don't know, just ideas into a language technique or try to make it work that way, because it's going to be a lot tougher for you. Focus on the ideas and see which techniques fit into it.
Now, I found more techniques I think than the three, that could have fit into this body paragraph, but I felt like these three pointers were probably the strongest ones and the ones where I felt like I could really show off my analytical skills. So I talked about a metaphor. I talked about how the place is a childcare. The betrayal of the school, lack of childcare and the idea of trapped children or imprisoned children, I worked off this idea. Then I worked off this idea even further by talking about a remand system, which is legal jargon for custody.
It's like these children are just being condemned to this school, which is something that no parents would want. And so, I really emphasized that. So yeah, that's pretty much it. I hope that answers your question, Asa. I only used three language techniques, but it's not about the quantity. It is about the quality of the work that you're portraying. Sorry, I keep looking down because I've written my stuff here for you guys, but you'll notice that these language techniques don't come one after another in the article, they're kind of all over the place. This is really important to enable you to be able to go and find different techniques from different areas of the article, rather than just confining yourself to, "Oh, this author has written this one paragraph. Let me try to find all these techniques in this one paragraph and transport that into one paragraph in my essay." You know?
To sum up, main messages are, focus your paragraphs on an idea. It's not about quantity, it's about quality of your language techniques. Try to find the ones that are going to show off your skill. And fourth, you don't need to find language techniques in a chronological order. You can pick them out wherever you please. That's it.
If you find this interesting or if you're not being taught this at school or you feel like the advice that I'm giving you is actually really helpful, then I'd encourage you to go and check out my study guide that I created with two other girls who achieved a study school of 50. So we have an entire section there about analyzing argument, from analyzing itself, language techniques, essay structure, writing up the essay, then showing you high essay responses with annotations to ensure that you know what you're doing. So I've got you covered, all right? Don't stress.
So I will see you guys next week for the livestream. It will be on Friday the 27th at 5:00 PM. So as usual, I'm your Friday girl. I'm always here on Fridays and you guys can ask me any of your questions related to analyzing argument then. Speak to you guys then. Bye!
The use of cartoons alongside articles has become more and more popular for School Accessed Courseworks (SACs) and end of year English exam. At first glance and even the second glance, cartoons may not always appear to contain great amounts of information for students to analyse. However, when students know what to look for, it can be a vital jump-start for an insightful cartoon analysis. After all, there is a reason why teachers and examiners choose to use cartoons. It is crucial that students develop a strong ability to analyse cartoons with or without written articles. 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.
While there are many resources helping students gain skills in analysing written articles, few are specifically focused on cartoons. Below are 10 things you should look for in cartoons. These are common techniques used by illustrators and are a fantastic starting point in cartoon analysis.
In coloured cartoons, there are myriad of things you can look for. Ask yourself these questions:
What colours did the illustrator use?
What colours are used most? Least?
Is there a repetition of colours?
Is there only one colour?
Colours can be separated into two groups – warm colours and cool colours. Warm colours including red, orange and yellow may be used to evoke feelings of comfort and warmth. It can also be used to express anger and embarrassment. Meanwhile, cool colours including blue, green and purple may represent calm and tranquility. Otherwise it can mean sadness and misery.
Remember that a group of colours can represent an overall meaning:
Red, blue and white – can represent Australian flag and symbolises patriotism.
Red, orange, and dark brown – can represent earth and nature.
While analysing colourful cartoons, also consider that many cartoons are black and white. Although these cartoons lack colour, illustrators use other methods to create meaning.
What shading is used? – heavy shading can mean power and solidity; light shading can indicate frailty and insignificance.
What textures/patterns are used? – smooth or rough.
What shapes are there?
Remember that no cartoons are simply just ‘black and white.’
Analysis: The monochromatic national broadband laid across mountains and kilometers just to serve one shack may represent a sombre plan that is pointless for Australian citizens.
Size is an important element in cartoons and one that is often quite obvious. Investigate:
Is anything disproportioned?
What is large and what is small?
Analysis: The oversized ‘WikiLake’ appears to be irrepressible and too overwhelming for any of the three politicians from preventing another information release.
Background: Wikileaks exposes information about Hilary Clinton and Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard’s subsequent condemnation of the website.
What is labeled?
What do the labels say?
Do the labels tell us the situation? Person? Time change?
Background: In the aftermath of the 2011 Queensland floods, many will be seeking insurance for home and business damages.
Analysis: The label ‘Grin Insurance’ is satirical in that one would expect a customer to be ‘grinning’ to have their insurance. However, the insurance policy only ‘covers [them] against small ‘f’ flood’, not the ‘capital ‘F’ Flood’ they have just experienced, leaving them with no insurance and little to ‘grin’ about.
4. Speech bubbles
Who is speaking?
What are they saying?
Is it a conversation?
Background: Cows contribute to greenhouse gases via flatuence of methane gas.
Analysis: The irony of a cow stating that he is a ‘climate change septic’ when his own release of methane gas is a significant cause in growing greenhouse gases.
A symbol is something that represents or stands for something else, usually an idea. They are commonly found throughout daily lives such as the cross for Christinity or the Red Cross for the organisation that helps victims of war or natural disasters. Sometimes symbols may be as obvious as those mentioned above, yet other times may be more subtle in their meaning.
What symbols are incorporated?
Why are particular symbols used?
Is it a well-known symbol?
Is the symbol’s meaning clear and identifiable? Or is it vague and can have multiple interpretations?
Background: Ted Baillieu, opposition leader against John Brumby in 2010 Victorian state elections.
Analysis: The representation of Baillieu as an iceberg indicates that he is a powerful force preventing the Labor Party from moving forwards and winning the 2010 state elections. The cartoon symbolises the famous movie, Titanic, and indicates that the Labor Party is bound to ‘sink’ against Baillieu and fail to ‘move forward’ to a victory.
The focus of a cartoon can indicate the main issue or situation.
What is in focus?
What is in the foreground and background?
Background: Wikileaks obtaining information about politicians.
Analysis: While a gigantic fly labeled ‘Wikileaks’ is the main focus of the cartoon, it is humorous in that it succeeds in surreptitiously listening in on Kevin Rudd and Hilary Clinton’s unsuspecting private conversation.
Angles often provide readers an indication of the status of particular people or things. If the angle is sloping down, then it creates an image of a smaller person or item. This indicates weakness, inferiority and powerlessness. An angle sloping up towards a person or item provides it with power, superiority and authority. A straight-on angle can represent equality.
Is the angle sloping up?
Is the angle sloping down?
Is it straight on?
From behind? Front on?
On top or below?
Background: Banks and Power Companies are two sectors important to Australian society.
Analysis: The angle tilted up towards the Bank and Power Company demonstrates that they are domineering, powerful and authoritative.
The tone of a cartoon can indicate the illustrator’s attitude and stance towards the issue.
Background: The North Koreans are well known for their possession of nuclear weapons.
Analysis: Although North Korea has made significant technological advances with their nuclear weapons, it is ironic that their other tools of war remain underdeveloped, perhaps since the Middle Ages as the catapult implies.
9. Facial Expression
Facial expressions are key to the character’s thoughts, feelings and emotions.
What facial expressions are used?
Do they change (sequential cartoons)?
How do expressions compare to another’s expression?
Is it an expression we expect?
Background: Prince William introducing Kate Middleton to his royal family.
Analysis: While Prince William appears to be proud and excited to introduce Kate to his family, his fiancé’s expression demonstrates that perhaps she may be apprehensive about the event.
The context of a cartoon is important. Most of the time, cartoons are attached to articles and usually draw upon a point contended by the writer of the article.
Does the cartoon support or oppose the article?
Is it relevant or irrelevant?
Does it focus on the past, present or future?
Which aspect of the article does it relate to?
Does it add further information?
However, there are times when you will have to analyse a cartoon alone, where it is not accompanying an article. In this case you will have to understand the background, the situation and the issue that is represented.
We’ve explored historical context, themes, essay planning and essay topics over on our Like a House on Fire by Cate Kennedy blog post. If you need a quick refresher or you’re new to studying this text, I highly recommend checking it out!
‘Liz sits there helpless’
• From the beginning of the short story we can see that Liz isn’t, or doesn’t feel in control of her situation. The step by step process where she needs to ‘put the key in the ignition and turn it. Fire up the car and drive away’ showcases how the smallest details of starting the car, something that should be so simple instead requires immense mental effort on her behalf.
‘And he’s in there, alone, where she’s left him’.
• Her guilt bubbles to the surface here because it’s as though she’s the villain here, and she’s to blame for leaving him alone.
‘Abandoned him to a roomful of rampaging strangers’
• What’s really interesting here is her description of the other children. Instead of seeing this as an opportunity for Daniel to befriend others and have a great time, she describes them as ‘rampaging strangers’, giving us a sense that Daniel is subject to an unfamiliar environment that is wild, frenzied, rioting.
• These "fighter” phrases reveal Liz’s anxious mindset, as she imagines a world where her son is almost in the wilderness, every man for himself, as though it’s the survival of the fittest - and which Liz so fearfully express, “not that there’s going to be anybody with enough time to notice that Daniel needs help”, is not an environment where Daniel belongs.
“She digs in her bag for her lipstick, her fingers searching for the small cylinder, and pulls out a crayon, then a battery, then a tampon, then a gluestick.”
• Her everyday objects are splashed with Daniel’s belongings - the crayon, the gluestick, and demonstrate how intertwined her life is now with her child. This foreshadows her return to her pre-baby life - that things will not be the same.
“The smell of the place, that’s what throws her, the scent of it all, adult perfumes, air breathed out by computers and printers and photocopiers.”
• Even her sense of smell betrays her being away from Daniel. There’s a sense of alienation, of nausea that shows readers like us that Liz doesn’t feel like she belongs. This is in contrast to later in the story when she is reunited with Daniel and is comforted by ‘inhaling[ing] the scent of him again’.
“Same computer, same shiny worn spot on the space bar…"
• The repetition of ’same’ actually heightens how much has actually changed for Liz. Her entire world is now Daniel, whereas everything in the office is as it used to be. Therefore, there’s this sense that the people’s lives in the office remain unchanged, highlighting again Liz’s alienation.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re right, of course they are.”
• This sarcastic internal monologue reflects Liz’s current state of mind, where she’s experiencing a disconnect from her coworkers, and ’the land of the living’.
"Delete, she presses. Punching the key like a bird pecking. Delete, delete, delete.”
• We can feel Liz’s exasperation at this stage. The simile ‘like a bird pecking’ automates Liz’s actions in the workplace, as though she is doing it by switching to a ‘mechanical form’ of herself. The repetition of ‘delete, delete, delete’ gives us the sense that she’s frustratingly attempting to ‘delete’ her self-acknowledged, perhaps over-the-top anxiety surrounding Daniel, or trying to delete herself out of her situation. Whichever is unclear and left up to interpretation. Perhaps both ring true.
‘Returning to work after maternity leave’
• Liz’s narrative interspersed with new mum’s pamphlet. The juxtaposition of the pamphlet’s words ‘being a stay-at-home mum can begin to seem mundane and repetitive’ is contrasted with Liz’s love of motherhood - she is at odds with what society tells her she should be feeling.
‘[Daniel]’d have his thumb in his mouth right now. Not smiling, that’s for sure.’
• There’s a self-projection of anxiety here with Liz assuming that the childcarers are unable to look after Daniel properly, and that he’s suffering.
‘God, these endless extended moments where you’re left in limbo, the time dangling like a suspended toy on a piece of elastic.’
• This simile highlights how her mindset is completely consumed with Daniel, as she likens her daily experiences with objects and things related to Daniel and childhood. She struggles to switch between her identity as a mother, and her previous identity as a colleague in the workplace.
‘Caroline, Julie and Stella had laughed dutifully enough, but their faces had shown a kind of pained disappointment, something faintly aggrieved.’
• Perhaps this is Cate Kennedy's commentary on society and motherhood. The expectations others have on you as a new mother, and how you should be feeling.
‘He doesn’t run over when he sees her’.
• The opening of this chapter is blunt and brutal. Liz has longed to see Daniel all day, her anxiety getting the best of her, and yet at the moment of their reunion, it’s not as she expects. In this sense, we can to feel that Liz is very much alone in her anxiety and despair and, not the other way around with Daniel.
’She’s fighting a terrible nausea, feeling the sweat in the small of her back.’
• Unlike other stories in this collection, her pain isn’t because the absence of love, but because of its strength. Her love for Daniel is so intense that it’s physiological, making her unwell to have been away from him.
• The symbol of cake represents her pre-baby life, a time when she was concerned with the ‘account of Henderson’s’ and ‘delete fourth Excel column’. Her priorities have now shifted, and the celebrated ‘cake’ tradition in the workplace, one that is at the centre of several conversations, is no longer to significance to Liz. Her husband, Andrew’s attempt to celebrate Liz’s first day back at work with cake is highly ironic. The societal expectation that Liz is happy to be back at work even extends to her husband, and heightens how Liz is very much alone in her experience.
If you found this close analysis helpful, then you might want to check out our Like a House on Fire Study Guide where we analyse EVERY story in the text and pinpoint key quotes and symbols!
David Malouf’s Ransom and Stephan Frears’ The Queen was a brand-new text pairing added to the study design in 2020. It is a unit with many nuances and intricacies to discuss, making it a perfect pairing to unpack in an essay topic breakdown!
Overall, both Ransom and The Queen overlap fairly heavily in terms of key themes, ideas and messages. Even if you haven’t watched The Queen or read Ransom yourself, the essay topic I have chosen can give you an idea of how to seamlessly integrate such thematic overlaps and similarities into your own writing, whilst also acknowledging the differences in both texts.
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
The Essay Prompt:
'it is true that the gods made me a king, but they also made me a man, and mortal.' – Priam (87-88)
'Your Majesty, there’s a last minute addition from Downing Street. They’re suggesting adding and as a grandmother here.' – Janvrin (Script, 87th Minute)
How do both texts explore the tensions that are created between a person’s public and private life?
Step 1: Analyse
This prompt is both a quote-based, and a how-based prompt (learn more about the five types of prompts here). This means that the examiner wants us to explain howthe text creators (Frears and Malouf) convey tensions between one’s public and private life, using the quote to help us do so.
Step 2: Brainstorm
First, let’s break down the prompt part of the essay question. Here, the keywords are:
‘tensions’ - we have to focus on the contrast, and the hardships, that stem from the characters in both texts as they juggle their roles as leaders and individuals of their own accord. These difficulties are explored in more detail in an earlier LSG blog Ransom and The Queen.
‘public and private lives’ - invites us to consider the individuals in both texts, specifically leaders such as Queen Elizabeth and Priam, who have distinctly different public and private personas. Specifically, we want to focus on how the differences that arise between these two ‘lives’ suggest that compromises must be made in order for leaders to perform their role to its greatest potential.
Now it’s time to break down the quote itself!
Both the quotes from Ransom and The Queen illustrate points of tension in the lives of leaders.
Priam’s quote occurs toward the climax of Ransom. The examiner is directing you to discuss how being ‘a man’, and therefore seemingly unremarkable in nature, challenges Priam’s existence as a ‘king’, thus creating a point of tension in his reign.
Similarly, Janvrin’s quote also highlights how being a ‘grandmother’ is a role that must be performed by Queen Elizabeth in conjunction with her existence as the Queen of England. Yet, the inclusion of ‘Downing Street’ in this quote also moves you to consider how the queen’s own private affairs, such as Diana’s death, must be handled in conjunction with an outside team such as Tony Blair as British Prime Minister, thus entangling both her public and private personas.
Through both quotes, it is evident that when responding to how Frears and Malouf explore tensions in their respective texts, you should analyse the key characters of each text and their roles as both leaders and individuals in their own right.
I’ve grouped my ideas in a logical order so you can easily identify how each idea relates to my essay plan in Section C. During your own brainstorming, this will be difficult to achieve, so just keep in mind that you don’t need a logical layout of ideas until the planning stage!
At the beginning of both texts, each protagonist fails to recognise and adequately perform their role as a ‘man’ and ‘grandmother’ respectively, due to their duties as a leader. This leaves them out-of-touch with the people around them, suggesting that being a leader can negatively impact one’s relationships with those they care about most.
Priam refers to himself as ‘mortal’ in the prompt, revealing his own vulnerability. Furthermore, the inclusion of ‘Downing Street’ encourages discussion surrounding Tony Blair and his role as a public figure. In both cases, these men express their emotions to their people and those closest to them, leaving them open to backlash and criticism of their authority as leaders.
For Queen Elizabeth, expressing her grief ‘as a grandmother’ allows her to connect emotionally to her people and regain their support, whilst for Priam, appearing to Achilles simply as ‘a man’ enables him to return to Troy both successful in his mission and respected by his people. This reveals that leaders should not let their public and private lives evoke tension, but rather should harness elements of each respective realm to build a modern, effective and relatable leadership style.
Step 3: Create a Plan
By dissecting the prompt’s keywords and briefly analysing the quote and its meaning, I have come up with three main points:
Paragraph 1: In both texts, Frears and Malouf suggest that in allowing themselves to be controlled by their public personas, leaders may struggle to connect with both their people and their own families
Ransom: Somax is initially unable to connect with Priam due to his adherence to royal protocol and tradition
The Queen: Queen is unable to provide emotional support to her grandsons following their mother’s death, due to her own stoicism and emotionally distant nature
Paragraph 2: Yet, in revealing an aspect of their personal lives, leaders risk compromising their public authority
Ransom: When Priam breaks protocol and leaves the walls of Troy, the Trojan people question the strength and competence of their leader
The Queen: Tony Blair’s unconventional style means he initially fails to gain respect from the Royal Family, despite being elected British Prime Minister
Paragraph 3: This delicate balance between one’s public and private lives is achieved most successfully when leaders reveal an element of their private selves and make themselves vulnerable and relatable to their people.
Ransom: Priam recognises the importance of being a father as well as a leader, allowing him to bury Hector’s body whilst retaining respect and admiration from his people
The Queen: By adopting Blair’s suggestions and addressing the British people in an honest, vulnerable way, Queen Elizabeth is able to regain their trust and respect.
Stephen Frears’ film The Queen, set in contemporary England, and David Malouf’s novel Ransom, taking place in Ancient Greece, both explore the concept that one’s public identity can create tensions between their ceremonial constructed persona, and their own private identities. In both texts, Frears and Malouf (1) suggest that in allowing themselves to be controlled by their public personas, leaders may struggle to connect with their people, and their own families. Yet, in revealing an aspect of their own lives, they may also risk compromising their own public authority. This delicate balance between one’s public and private lives, therefore, is conveyed throughout Ransom and The Queen to be achieved most successfully when leaders reveal an element of their private lives and make themselves both vulnerable and relatable to their people, harnessing aspects of both their public and private lives in order to confidently perform their roles to the greatest extent possible. (2)
Annotations (1) Make sure to refer to the author/director in your introduction and continually throughout your essay. This helps to ensure you are considering their purpose and its intended effect/message to the audience (see Views and Values for more on this).
(2) This is where I have included the broader implications of the topic – it will be my final paragraph where I somewhat challenge the prompt
In both Ransom and The Queen, leaders that allow themselves to be dictated by their public identities and subsequent rules, protocols and expectations, are portrayed to express difficulty in connecting with their constituents and their own families. In The Queen, Queen Elizabeth finds comfort in placing 'duty first, self second', as in performing in her role as a monarch for many years, she foregrounds such identity over her ability to connect personally with those around her. However, this struggle to formulate intimate connections is conveyed by Frears (3) to, at times, be at her detriment. Upon meeting the Royal Family, Cherie Blair, who symbolises the wider British society (4), describes that family as 'a bunch of free loading, emotionally retarded nutters'. This blunt description serves to indicate that in acting according to 'how [she] was brought up' and 'all [she’s] ever known', the queen compromises her public image and relatability to her people. In a similar manner, in Ransom, Somax describes only having 'seen King Priam at a distance…he is surprised at how old he looks', clearly illustrating the emotional and physical distance between the king and the people of Troy. Such distance is portrayed by Malouf to not only affect the way the people view their king, but also the manner in which Priam himself is able to formulate and express basic human emotions, as 'royal custom – the habit of averting his gaze', initially prevents him from connecting with Somax on a more intimate level. Through this, both Malouf and Frears highlight how, (5) in allowing themselves to be consumed by their roles as leaders, both Priam and Queen Elizabeth have sacrificed their ability to truly connect and engage with those around them, leaving them out-of-touch with the same people they govern. However, this lack of connection is also shown to extend to their families, as the queen is pictured by Frears to be physically disconnected with her own grandsons. Upon learning of Diana’s death, Prince Charles is depicted delivering the news to his sons, whilst the queen watches on from the corridor, as Frears uses a mid-shot with the door frame obstructing the audience’s view of Queen Elizabeth herself. This can be seen to symbolise (6) the ‘barricade’ between the queen and her own family, as her role as monarch separates her from those she loves. (7) In a similar manner, Priam’s only recollection of the birth of his son is 'recall[ing] a series of small squalling bundles', as his 'role…to hold myself apart in ceremonial stillness' directly prevents him from understanding, and becoming involved with his family, emotionally distancing himself from his own sons. Consequently, Frears and Malouf convey to their audience that the role of being a leader can negatively impact upon one’s relationship with others, serving as a constant burden and barrier to achieving intimate emotional connections.
Annotations (3) In writing ‘conveyed by Frears’ as opposed to ‘conveyed’ I am trying to demonstrate that I am aware the film is a construction made by a director (in this case Frears) for a purpose – he is trying to communicate with the audience through the actions of his characters. See LSG’s Views and Values blog post or How To Write A Killer Text Response (the Views and Values section) for more on this.
(4) In this case, I am attempting to go ‘beyond’ what is simply portrayed in this scene and incorporate the setting of the text – in this case, highlighting my awareness of the time and place in which the film is set (i.e. context). While aimed at Literature students, this blog on context is helpful as it walks you through some contextual aspects you should consider.
(5) This is one of the main ways I would link my two ideas in Year 12, and draw ‘mini conclusion’ or a link (think of the TEEL structure) back to the topic. Yet, in beginning with ‘Malouf and Frears’, I am keeping the purpose of each text central to my link.
(6) When using film techniques, try to analyse their meaning. Rather than simply stating ‘Frears uses a mid-shot’, tell your assessor WHY he does this and what its intended effect is on the audience. This not only acts as a form of ‘textual evidence’ but also demonstrates your understanding of the text itself.
(7) In this sentence, I have tried to draw connections between the physical world and the author’s purpose in portraying the isolation of the British Royal family. Here, I’m referring to the ideas, views and values of the author/director.
On the other hand, however, in revealing one’s private life and expressing humility, leaders are also shown to risk their public authority. In Ransom, Priam becomes determined, following the death of Hector, to try 'something impossible. Something new' and allow for an element of vulnerability to be expressed, in order to successfully ransom his son’s body. Such an unusual, unconventional method of leadership, however, is depicted to take the people of Troy by surprise, as they witness their leader dressed 'in plain white' (8), stripped of his former royal gown. Therefore, the Trojans, who 'crowd the ramparts of the city' and 'line the walls of Troy' each day, in an attempt to view and 'cheer' their leader, 'do not know how to react' upon viewing Priam in such a common, ignoble state, reconsidering the way in which they regard and respect him. In a similar manner, in The Queen, Tony Blair is a Prime Minister whose ‘unconventional' style of leadership is seen to initially unnerve the Royal family. Upon being elected, Blair is described in a montage scene (9) to be a 'wonderful new Prime Minister…a compassionate young man…such a breath of fresh air', a different style of leader to previous Prime Ministers whom the queen previously worked with. The description of Blair as a 'compassionate young man' is significant as such compassion, combined with his youth, acts as a deterrent for the Royals in showing him respect as a leader, taken aback by his unusual views and values. Consequently, upon the death of Diana, although Blair attempts to advise Queen Elizabeth on behalf of the British People, Prince Phillip declares 'who does he think he’s talking to? You’re the sovereign. The head of state. You don’t get dictated to' clearly symbolising their lack of respect and willingness to consider Blair’s perspectives and ideas. In this way, Frears highlights how, in adopting an unconventional style of leadership, those in power may struggle to gain the respect of others around them, particularly their fellow leaders, with the Queen Mother’s statement of 'silly Mr Blair and his Cheshire cat grin' clearly portraying Tony Blair’s lack of authority within the Royal Family. Whilst, in Ransom, the people of Troy struggle to come to terms with Priam’s own change in his leadership style, wondering 'is the king deserting them?', those in The Queen are seen to accept Blair’s leadership style, evident through his 'landslide victory', as, unlike the people of Troy, they are seen to be open to a more progressive form of leadership. In both texts, however, Frears and Malouf demonstrate that leaders who illustrate an element of vulnerability, such as Priam and Tony Blair, may struggle asserting their authority over those with more traditional standards and views, such as the Trojan people and the Royal Family, and thus sacrifice an element of their public image and reputation.
Annotations (8) This is a brief quote – these are useful to ‘replace’ your own words. It ensures you are remaining relevant in your analysis (aka not going off track!!) and acts as a way to ‘show off’ to your assessors that you know your text. However, as these quotes are so simple, I would rarely go into depth with my analysis of them – save this for your longer quotations.
(9) Although naming the scene as a ‘montage’ isn’t entirely necessary in this case, it shows the assessor that you remember where this scene takes place and gives a bit of context, further achieving that first criterion.
Yet, both David Malouf and Stephen Frears examine the notion that in revealing an element of their private life and making themselves vulnerable, a leader may be able to become more relevant, thereby easing the tension between their public and private personas (10). In The Queen, Queen Elizabeth’s adamant refusal to 'dance to their tune' and abide by the requests of her people leads her to proclaim 'I don’t think I have ever been hated like that', with Frears’ depiction of her crying outside Balmoral evident of her realisation that she needs to adapt to the 'change…shift in values' occurring among her constituents. This private expression of vulnerability by Elizabeth is the catalyst for her change in leadership style, with the setting of Balmoral itself, and subsequent events that take place there, symbolising the ability for leaders to harness an element of their personal lives and use it to adapt and connect with their people. In a similar manner, Priam’s declaration that coming to Achilles 'as a man of sorrow' gives him the 'chance to break free of the obligation of always being the hero' highlights Malouf’s view that, at times, leaders must 'break free' of the overwhelming 'obligation[s]' of their public life in order to achieve their objectives and desires within the private sphere. Priam’s realisation that the 'gods made me…mortal' (11) and subsequent appearance as 'a man of sorrow' allow him to successfully bury the body of his son, as he places his identity as 'a man' at the forefront. Priam’s ability to use his emotion in order to fulfil the desires of both him, as 'a father', and the wider people of Troy in allowing their most esteemed warrior to receive a proper burial, is mirrored in The Queen, where Queen Elizabeth adopts the use of emotion to regain the respect of British society. In returning from Balmoral, the queen directly interacts with the people outside Buckingham Palace, with Frears using a long shot to capture the extremely large numbers that had gathered outside the palace gates to emphasise the scale of public sorrow occurring. The queen’s interaction with her people, combined with her public address 'as a grandmother' (12), symbolises the way in which she was able to harness her identity both 'as your queen, and as a grandmother' to appeal to her people, gain their respect, and successfully lead them through an unprecedented, tumultuous event, thus easing the strain between her public and private personas. Likewise, Priam’s claim 'that the gods made me a king, but also made me a man' (13) highlights that he too has developed an understanding that in order to lead most successfully, one must express an element of vulnerability and humility, allowing for the people to emotionally connect and relate to those whom they admire. Therefore, both Malouf and Frears highlight that expressing elements of their private lives through their public identities is a method most effective in gaining leaders the respect and admiration they crave, as those they lead are able to find an element of commonality and relatability within such esteemed individuals.
Annotations (10) Here is where I begin to go beyond simply the limitations or ‘obvious’ points made in the prompt and consider its wider implications. One strategy I used to help plan and write these paragraphs in Year 12 was to ask myself ‘Why is this a topic? What is the author/director trying to tell me as a member of the audience?’ It usually helps to closely consider the author’s purpose, thus ensuring you achieve a coherent and comprehensive analysis.
(11) Here, I am using part of the quote in the prompt to serve as evidence and back up my point regarding Priam’s combination of both his public and private identities. See How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss to learn how to seamlessly include quotes in your writing.
(12) It is here where I have used the quote from the prompt to influence my reasoning and my overall argument.
(13) Now I am moving on to explain the significance of the quote in the prompt.
Ultimately, both The Queen and Ransom explore the various tensions that can occur throughout the public and private lives of leaders, and their need to grapple with and understand such a concept in order to perform their duties most effectively. Whilst being constrained by one’s public persona may create emotional distance between an individual and those around them, in revealing an element of vulnerability, both texts illustrate that leaders risk losing respect and authority within public society. However, Frears and Malouf suggest that despite the difficult balance between one’s public and private lives, in order to lead most effectively, esteemed individuals should not allow each respective realm to create tension and unease, but rather harness elements of both their intimate and public personas in order to create a modern, effective and relatable leadership style (14).
Annotations (14) My final sentence aims to focus on the ‘bigger picture’. Think of this as your ‘mic drop moment’ – you want to finish your essay with an overall statement that touches upon the author’s expressed or implied point of view. 5 Tips for a Mic-Drop Worth Essay Conclusion will help you nail your conclusion.
Throughout this essay, I have implemented the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy to help me discuss insightful points of similarity and difference. This is particularly important when it comes to essay writing, because you want to know that you're coming up with unique comparative points (compared to the rest of the Victorian cohort!). I don't discuss this strategy in detail here, but if you're interested, check out How To Write A Killer Comparative.
If you found this helpful and you’d like to dive deeper into this text pairing, see A Killer Comparative Guide: Ransom & The Queen. In this guide you'll learn unique points of comparison, we'll teach you how to think like a 45+ study scorer through advanced discussion on topics like literary and cinematic techniques, and we give you 5 A+ sample essay fully annotated!
To understand the works of Franklin and Ziegler, we are going to take a look at the historical contexts in which the texts were written. By doing this, we’ll establish a proper understanding of some of the language and concepts that you might have experienced in class. The three specific historical contexts that we will address are life in 1950s London, uncovering the enigma of DNA as well as 19th-century rural life in Australia. As you continue to read this study guide, you may wish to refer back to this section if you find some of the terminologies and references confusing!
Life in 1950s London (Photograph 51)
Photograph 51 is set during the 1950s in London. This was a challenging time for everyone, largely due to Britain’s impaired economy after the war, as well as the financial obligations of the nation to the United States. An iconic local feature of this time was the fact that the government encouraged everyone in the nation to grow food for themselves and their communities. Everywhere you looked, land was being used to farm crops! Indeed, people would grow food everywhere that they could because government rations were strictly enforced and the 1950s was a decade marked by the struggle for parents to find enough food for themselves and their children. This was a difficult situation in which to live and work. However, in this time after the Second World War, Britain experienced changes on a scale never experienced by the country before. The war had cost Britain its status as a nation of monumental power, and in the 1950s the nation was looking to rebuild itself. This was a period of enthusiasm and optimism, in which many technological and scientific developments were made. Computers became more sophisticated, and humanity deeply desired to explore the workings of the world.
Nonetheless, during this time of hope and progress, women were remarkably undervalued, and female professionals were often treated with contempt. We are provided with a snapshot of what this looked like in Photograph 51. As a Jewish woman in the 1950s, Rosalind Franklin is depicted as a target for prejudice in the world around her. For example, she is not permitted to dine with her male colleagues at lunch, which renders her unable to engage in meaningful conversations with her colleagues and debate about their research and ideas. Additionally, despite the fact that she is just as qualified as Wilkins, he continually ignores her qualifications and achievements. We see this as he refers to her with the patronising nickname ‘Rosy’, which underscores the reality that he sees her as inferior to him. It is evident that the professional world was a challenging place for women and minorities during the 1950s in London. However, Rosalind Franklin was willing to persist with her important scientific work in this formidable social setting.
19th Century Rural Life in Australia (My Brilliant Career)
My Brilliant Career was published in 1901. This was the year when the Commonwealth of Australia was formed, as the colonies of Western Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales united as one nation. The text is set in areas around Goulburn in Australia in the 1890s, which is around 195 kilometres - or a two-hour drive - in the South-West direction of Sydney. To put it bluntly: Australia was a challenging place to live in in the 1890s. Take a moment to consider the harsh realities of life in this time and place. During this time, most of Australia was a rural environment and this was an era in which Australians were confronted with drought, economic hardships and high unemployment rates. Indeed, the period of prosperity during the 1850s gold rush was, unfortunately, coming to a close, international investment in Australia was devastatingly declining and the price of wool and wheat was dropping at a dangerous pace. The dire economic situation was certainly not helped by the long drought, which created a distressing situation for the agricultural industry. As we see in the text, Sybylla’s father is a dairy farmer, and her family lived through this unbearable summer heat, the harsh drought and the pain caused by dying livestock. Miles Franklin convincingly uses Sybylla and her family to illustrate the extent to which the adversity of the time had an impact on everyone and the fact that nobody could escape it.
During this period, many women had to take up jobs to support their families, due to the turbulent economic times. Having said that, this was a challenging environment for a woman to pursue a career. Marriage was seen as the only appropriate venture for a woman, and women were expected to marry as soon as they were able to. It was basically unthinkable for a woman to work and pursue a career unless she was working while she waited to be able to depend upon a husband for support. Those who chose not to marry were treated poorly by the world around them. In particular, women could be traded and bartered as labour, and we see when Sylblla becomes a governess to repay her family’s debt.
During this challenging time, it was becoming increasingly common for young women in Australia to publish books, with Miles Franklin being one of them. Nevertheless, Miles Franklin - officially born Stella Franklin - ensured that ‘Miss’ was excluded from her name on the cover of her text. Presumably, she did not want her readers to assume that My Brilliant Career was written by a woman, as this may have harmed sales. Despite this, it is undeniable that social perspectives surrounding gender roles were gradually shifting towards permitting women greater rights within society. For instance, women were eventually granted the right to vote in federal elections in Australia when the Franchise Act was passed in 1902. We see such a progressive attitude represented in the text through Sybylla. Despite the social expectations placed upon her, Sybylla has aspirations for her future. As part of her aspirations, she must choose between the traditional route of marriage to Harry Beecham or her plans to pursue a career. Through this, we see that Miles Franklin welcomes the potentiality for increased social freedom for women to pursue meaningful occupations. In defiance of what society expected of her, she wanted to do something with her life and have a meaningful career! Much like many women of the day in rural Australia, pursuing such a path was no easy task and she faced much opposition.
2. Plot Summaries
We’re now going to take a quick look at the plots of My Brilliant Career and Photograph 51. However, I cannot overemphasise the importance of setting aside the time to read these texts in detail and annotate them for yourself. You may wish to use these summaries to refresh your memory about the plot, or to stay on track if you get lost or confused while you read! We’ll provide you with a general overview of what happens, with a particular focus on the key events in each text.
Summary: My Brilliant Career
My Brilliant Career is an Australian literary classic by Stella 'Miles' Franklin which is set in rural New South Wales in the late nineteenth century. The story is presented in an autobiographical format and depicts the life and travels of Sybylla Melvyn and her family. The novel is written in a fairly free-flowing format, which Sybylla unapologetically explains is the result of her life being unstructured and lacking a plot. At times you may be frustrated with Sybylla’s pessimism and cynicism. At other times, you may hold back tears as you reflect on the adverse circumstances she faces as she pursues her goals and strives to find purpose in her life.
The novel commences with Sybylla and her family living in Bruggabong. Sybylla is content with her life here, with the freedom to roam around and ride horses as she pleases. However, as the first chapter comes to a close, we are told that Sybylla’s father, Dick Melvyn, intends to sell his stations and move his family to Possum Gully. He hopes that Possum Gully will present him with greater financial opportunities through trading farm animals. Sybylla is frustrated by the move and perceives her family’s new home as boring and monotonous. At the same time, life is hard for her mother, who becomes increasingly critical of Sybylla who seems to be developing into a rebellious child. Dick inflicts a great deal of pain upon his family, as he spends too much time in town, loses money with every sale and becomes an alcoholic. The drought certainly doesn’t simplify matters, with the scorching heat taking a toll on Sybylla, her family and their animals.
Eventually, we learn that Sybylla’s grandmother has decided to take Sybylla to live with her in Caddagat. Sybylla enthusiastically agrees and celebrates the opportunity to experience life in a different location away from the difficulties of Possum Gully. Whilst in Caddagat, she lives with Grandma Bosser, Aunt Helen and Uncle Jay-Jay. During her time there, several men approach Sybylla with an interest in marrying her. The first is Everard Grey, a wealthy lawyer from Sydney with a keen interest in the performing arts. She is denied the opportunity to travel with him and he neglects her upon hearing this news. Frank Hawden, a farmhand to the family, is attracted to Sybylla, but she sharply rejects him due to his unsophisticated demeanour. Finally, she meets Harold Beecham of Five-Bob Downs. They enjoy spending time together and he brings out Sybylla’s playful side. They eventually become engaged. However, Sybylla never intends to marry him and only agrees to the engagement on the condition that it is kept a secret between the two of them. She shares to her audience that she intends to break off the engagement as a means of stirring up and confronting Harold. Eventually, Harold is forced to leave Five-Bob Downs due to his financial misfortune resulting in the loss of his property. However, he and Sybylla agree to maintain their engagement and commit to marrying after a few years. Having said that, Sybylla never really has any intention of marrying Harold, for she views marriage as restrictive and unnecessary controlling of her freedom to pursue her own life.
Shortly after Harold’s departure, Sybylla is confronted with the news that her father’s debt to Peter M’Swat means that she will be required to travel to Barney’s Gap to work as a governess for the M’Swat children. It would be an understatement to say that Sybylla is dissatisfied with this new state of affairs! She absolutely hates working for the M’Swat family! She finds that the house is filthy, the children are disobedient and she has very minimal personal space. All she wants is to go back and live with Grandma Bossier and Aunt Helen. However, her mother denies her this privilege, for she must repay her father’s debt. The experience at Barney’s Gap becomes so bad for her that she develops an illness due to the emotional strain that she experiences. Accordingly, Mr. M’Swat sends her back home to Possum Gully to be with her family.
Sybylla hardly receives a warm welcome from her parents. Her mother continually treats her as ungrateful, and her father’s drinking has had a significant impact on his demeanour. Her younger sister, Gertie, is sent off to live in Caddagat, and Sybylla feels as if Grandma Bossier, Aunt Helen and Uncle Jay-Jay have forgotten about her. To make matters worse, she feels as if Harold Beecham, who has been unable to return to Five-Bob Downs, is falling in love with Gertie. Eventually, Harold travels to Possum Gully. Sybylla is expecting her to ask Dick for permission to marry Gertie. But to her surprise, he actually intends to ask Sybyllla if she will marry him, even though she made it clear through her letters that she had no intention of doing so. For fear of hurting him and due to her view of marriage as restrictive, she rejects Harold again and sends him on his way.
And that’s basically the story! Sybylla concludes with some reflections on her position and purpose in life. She sees her purpose as completing the monotonous tasks that nobody wants to complete and she is thankful for the opportunity to earn her living through hard labour. Overall, we know that her ambition was to become an author, and this book is her final product as she writes about her various experiences.
Summary: Photograph 51
Photograph 51 is a play by Anna Ziegler which tells the story of the discovery of the structure of DNA. The title takes its name from the photograph taken by Raymond Gosling and Rosalind Franklin at King’s College in 1952. The play has been constructed by Ziegler with a bit of artistic license, and she herself admits that she has modified timelines, altered facts and events, and recreated characters. If we take a step back and look at the big picture, we have a great representation of events that makes some bold statements about injustice within the scientific community and society at large.
It is important to mention that this play is full of characters who break the fourth wall - a performance convention in which we usually imagine that there is a wall that separates characters from the audience when we watch a television show, movie or play. Ziegler has deliberately constructed this play in a manner where the characters that feature in the play provide commentary on the events to the audience. And this is how we start, with Rosalind directly speaking to the audience alongside Wilkins, Watson, Crick, Caspar and Gosling. Rosalind shares that the play will be about ‘powerful’ scientists accomplishing incredible feats. Shortly after this, our story begins (with frequent interruptions from the male scientists who want to bicker with each other and give their own commentary on the events).
Rosalind arrives at King’s College in London to work in the field of genetics. However, much to her surprise and dissatisfaction, she is told that she will be working on uncovering the structure of DNA. She also learns that she will be working with a doctoral student, Gosling, under the direction of Wilkins. Wilkins and Rosalind clearly don’t get along, and they are often fighting about something! Meanwhile, Gosling is clearly lower in the chain of hierarchy and awkwardly tries to have a say in matters.
Now, pay attention to this part, because it will be important for the end. Shortly after her arrival at King’s College, Rosalind goes to see a production of Shakespeare’s comedy, The Winter’s Tale. Ziegler doesn’t get into the details, but basically, this play features King Leontes and Hermione, his wife. Leontes murders Hermione upon suspecting her of unfaithfulness. In The Winter’s Tale, Leontes is able to pray Hermione back to life! Why is this significant to Photograph 51? Just remember for now that Rosalind can’t seem to remember who played Hermione in the London production, whilst she can recall who played Leontes. We may say that this represents the misogyny that Rosalind has internalised after facing a life of sexism from the world around her.
As Rosalind and Gosling work closely on taking photographs of DNA, Gosling urges her to go home and rest on several occasions. She refuses, as she wants to persist in her work! He also pleads with her to be careful around the beam, but she is reluctant to listen. It is clear that she disregards her health and well-being because she is fixated on the task at hand.
We are introduced to two other scientists, Watson and Crick, who are also competing in the race to discover the structure of DNA. Another character, Caspar, is introduced around this time. He’s a PhD student who is captivated by Rosalind’s work and writes to her for assistance with his research. He eventually finishes his PhD and obtains a fellowship at King’s College where he develops a close relationship with Rosalind.
Over the course of the play, Wilkins works progressively closer with Watson and Crick, and eventually shares Rosalind’s Photograph 51 with them. This image, having been captured and developed by Rosalind and Gosling, was crucial to their discovery of the double helical structure of DNA. Watson and Crick are also able to access Rosalind’s unpublished paper which details all of her findings.
Rosalind and Caspar are having dinner together and Rosalind admits to the audience that she has feelings for Caspar. However, she does not share this information with him. During this time, Rosalind has some pain in her stomach and it is revealed that she has cancer, with two tumours in her ovaries. It is likely that this came about due to her close work with X-rays. She becomes very sick and eventually dies at the age of thirty-seven.
We are informed that Watson, Crick and Wilkins all receive the Nobel prize for their work on uncovering the structure of DNA. Meanwhile, Rosalind receives no credit, even though her research was what helped them with their breakthrough.
In the final moments of the play, Rosalind and Wilkins talk about The Winter’s Tale. Wilkins shares that he saw her entering the theatre on the day when she saw the play, but he decided not to enter with her. He regrets this and it is clear that he has lived a life full of regret. Wilkins wishes he could bring Rosalind back to life, just as Leontes does with Hermione in Shakespeare’s play. However, he regrets that this is not possible and must carry on his life with guilt and regret for the decisions he has made and the way that he has treated Rosalind.
3. Themes, Motifs and Key Ideas
Through discussing themes, motifs and key ideas, we’ll gain a clearer understanding of some super important ideas to bring out in your essays. Remember that, when it comes to themes, there’s a whole host of ways you can express your ideas - but this is what I’d suggest as the most impressive method to blow away the VCAA examiners. We’ll be adhering to the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy. While this study guide doesn’t go into too much detail about using LSG’s CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy, I’d highly recommend you familiarise yourself with it by reading LSG'sHow To Write A Killer Comparative.
Within Photograph 51 and My Brilliant Career, we are presented with characters with profound ambitions to overcome adverse circumstances. Indeed, both texts featured major and minor characters, who yearn to overcome their circumstances and make the most of their unfortunate situations. At the conclusion of My Brilliant Career, Sybylla questions the nature of 'vain ambition'. She reflects on the inevitability of death, and that all will die, regardless of one’s status as a 'king or slave'. Ultimately, Sybylla wants to be 'true' to herself, and in striving to do so, she finds contentment. Likewise, Rosalind is satisfied with 'painstakingly' trying to accomplish success by discovering the truth in her work. She is highly diligent, for she wants to discover the truth, and she will not permit herself to make a mistake. In doing so, she '[pays] attention to every detail'. However, as part of this, Watson and Crick are able to take advantage of her, and ultimately achieve success at her expense.
Rather insightfully, Caspar reflects that 'the things we want but can’t have are probably the things that define us'. This reflects the reality for characters across both texts. In particular, Rosalind has a deep 'yearning' for various things throughout Photograph 51. This is not strictly for success in her research, for she admits that she yearns for friendships, peace, to be able to sleep well at night and for a deeper relationship with Caspar. Rosalind works diligently with her research, admitting that she doesn’t believe in 'laziness'. She regularly stays up all night, which likely contributes to her significant health complications. At the same time, this has an impact on her ability to form meaningful relationships with the people around her. Ultimately, she is not able to attain any of her aspirations, for her life is cut short by her unfortunate death. Likewise, Crick acknowledges that his ambitions in the scientific community have negatively impacted his relationship with his wife. Whilst he may have started out with the desire to 'support [his] family, to do science, to make some small difference in the world', it is clear that he became overwhelmed with his desire for success, and this has cost him dearly.
One of the most significant characters with aspirations in My Brilliant Career is Dick Melvyn. He clearly possesses great ambition at the beginning of the text, which motivates him to move his family from Bruggabrong to Possum Gully. However, this ambition for financial prosperity turns him into a man who is 'a slave of drink', as well as someone who is overall 'careless' and 'bedraggled in his personal appearance'. Indeed, his ambition has taken a challenging toll on him and the life of his family. Unlike Dick Melvyn, who has been harshly impacted by his ambition for success, the M’Swat family seem to be genuinely supportive of their children, and others outside of their family. This is evident in their care for the Melvyn family in their time of financial need. It is evident that a desire for success and 'the possession of money' does not necessarily lead to ruin.
The leading characters in My Brilliant Career and Photograph 51 differ in the extent to which they display selflessness as they approach life. Whilst Sybylla’s perception of her circumstances may not be entirely accurate, we can see that she approaches her despairing circumstances with ultimate altruism that leads her to neglect her own desires and focus on how she can be useful in serving the needs of others. At the conclusion of the text, Sybylla sees that she is most suited to 'wait about common public-houses to look after [her] father when he is inebriated'. She seems to be content to submit to her circumstances in order to look after the needs of her family. In contrast, Rosalind seems to be limited in her capacity to discern the needs of others, and the fact that others also require resources to complete their work. This is highlighted when Wilkins complains that 'she’s keeping [him] from [his] work'. Indeed, she seems to hoard 'all the best equipment'. Whilst Wilkins may be exaggerating the extent of the situation, this still highlights Rosalind's uncharitable approach to her work.
At the heart of these differences are the contrasting worldviews of the leading characters, and the way in which they each find meaning in life. Rosalind ultimately views society as opposed to her, and her response to this is to stand her ground tenaciously. She finds meaning in persevering and avoiding mistakes at all costs. In this approach to her world, she is able to justify her occasional cruel treatment of the men around her. On the other hand, Sybylla finds purpose in being able to fulfil a functioning role in the society around her. By the time the novel reaches its conclusion, she has essentially given up fighting for any of her own interests and seems to be content in serving the needs of those around her. This is evident when she rejects Harold for the final time. She notes that Harold is like a ' child pleading for a dangerous toy', and that '[her] refusal was for his good'. In doing so, she demonstrates selflessness, for she genuinely believes that she is acting in Harold’s best interest. The key contrast between Rosalind rejecting the assistance of Wilkins and Sybylla refusing to marry Harold is that Rosalind isolates herself and rejects others because she sees other people as unreliable, and sees that she will 'work best' if she works 'alone', whereas Sybylla rejects Harold for she believes she is acting for his good.
4. Sample Essay Breakdown
As with all our essay topic breakdowns, we'll follow LSG's THINK and EXECUTE strategy, as taught in our How To Write A Killer Text Response study guide. The LSG's THINK and EXECUTE strategy follows three steps in the THINK phase:
Analyse Brainstorm Create a Plan
Learn more about this technique in this video:
Step 1: Analyse
This ‘discuss’ topic prompts us to evaluate the topic in light of My Brilliant Career and Photograph 51 and reach a conclusion. This is also a theme-based topic, relating to perception and self-awareness. Accordingly, it would be wise to ‘discuss’ how key themes CONVERGE and DIVERGE across our texts. With our given theme, we will need to consider what we mean by ‘perception’, how it occurs in both texts, and the conclusions we can draw from this that will feature in our analysis.
Step 2: Brainstorm
In order to address this topic, we need to consider the notion of perception and how this connects with self-awareness. Crucially, the topic prompts us to consider where characters think they have perceived their situation accurately, when in reality they have actually accepted a form of illusion or false perception. We want to broadly consider where this occurs, which will enable us to group characters together later on. We also want to address the reality that something usually occurs to cause a person to realise that they have been perceiving their reality incorrectly.
Step 3: Create a Plan
We will approach this topic with a chronological structure. This means that we are going to broadly consider 1) the behaviour of characters with a false perception of reality, 2) the nature of crises that cause someone to confront their perception of their world, and 3) how characters respond to such crises.
As we think of examples to include in each of our paragraphs, we need to also be considering CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT points of comparison. We can base these around the themes from the Themes, Motifs and Key Ideas section of LSG's Photograph 51 & My Brilliant Career study guide.
Paragraph 1: Living with a false perception of reality
At this point, we should discuss the CONVERGENT ideas analysed in the Themes, Motifs and Key Ideas section of LSG's Photograph 51 & My Brilliant Career study guide. We should make sure that we focus on Sybylla and Rosalind at the beginning of their respective texts. In particular, we can focus on the naivety of Sybylla and how this connects to her as an unreliable narrator, as well as how Rosalind’s steadfast determination causes her to lose sight of reality.
On top of this, we also want to draw connections between the themes and the minor characters of the texts. We mustn’t limit our discussion to one that centres solely around Sybylla and Rosalind, so we’ll take a look at Harold’s relationship with Sybylla, as well as Watson and Crick’s publication of false data.
Paragraph 2: Crises that confront a false perception of reality
Now we want to focus on the ‘middle’ sections of each of our texts. Take note: ‘middle’ doesn’t necessarily have to be exactly halfway through the book. However, it should be around the point where there is a significant turn of events. My Brilliant Career actually has a few of these, but we’ll focus on Sybylla having to travel to Barney’s Gap. In Photograph 51, we’ll discuss Rosalind’s discovery of her cancer diagnosis.
As we trace our secondary characters, we’ll look at Harold’s financial troubles, as well as Watson and Crick’s ridicule due to their flawed model.
Paragraph 3: Responding to crises and evaluating a false perception of reality
As we conclude our essay, we want to discuss the impacts of the crises on our characters. For Sybylla, we’ll talk about how she continues in her naivety. However, the crisis does prompt Sybylla to evaluate some of her values. For Rosalind, she doesn’t really change her ways, however, it does give her more urgency. These are some of the DIVERGENT ideas that will feature in our discussion. We also need to address Watson and Crick, who end up taking an even more cunning approach to their work, which results in them achieving international recognition for their research.
Want to see the the fully written and annotated version of the essay we've just planned here? Check our A Killer Comparative Guide: Photograph 51 & My Brilliant Career. Not only can you find the full version of this essay, there are also 4 other (5 in total) full, A+ essays fully annotated, as well as more themes, analysed quotes, exploration of different interpretations and lenses and more!!
Black Diggers & The Longest Memory are studied as part of VCE English's Comparative. For one of our most popular posts on Comparative (also known as Reading and Comparing), check out ourUltimate Guide to VCEComparative.
Here, I will be breaking down a comparative analysis. You will get to know exactly how I write one! Specifically, I will be focusing on the two texts, The Longest Memory and Black Diggers. I have also included my own essay as an example to follow through.
But firstly, if you haven't watched our The Longest Memory and Black Diggers introductory video which details themes, characters and more, check it out below:
This is the prompt that I have decided to approach:
‘The hopes and dreams of oppressed characters rarely eventuate.’ How do Black Diggers and The Longest Memory explore this idea?
Let’s break it down!
Firsts things first, we need an introduction. Here is an example of my one:
The hopes and dreams of oppressed individuals can be fulfilled to a certain extent. This degree of fulfilment, however, can ultimately become restricted by the entrenched beliefs and dictations of society; and thus, this process of fulfilment is presented to be difficult and rare to achieve. In Fred D’Aguiar’s novella, The Longest Memory, the hopes and dreams for equality and racial acceptance is revealed to coerce oppressed individuals to subvert social norms, all in an attempt to gain liberty and fairness. Similarly, Tom Wright’s play, Black Diggers, explores the collective yearning of oppressed Indigenous Australians who seek to gain a sense of belonging and recognition in society. Both D’Aguiar and Wright expose how the obstacles of social inequality, deep-rooted prejudice and beliefs can essentially restrict the fulfilment of such desires and dreams.
Okay, now let’s take a closer look at it and see exactly how I constructed my introduction:
The hopes and dreams of oppressed individuals can be fulfilled to a certain extent.
Here, I have immediately addressed the topic question in my first sentence and provided my standpoint.
This degree of fulfilment, however, can ultimately become restricted by the entrenched beliefs and dictations of society; and thus, this process of fulfilment is presented to be difficult and rare to achieve.
In my next sentence, I went on to elaborate about my viewpoint of the prompt. I highlighted how society’s perceptions and beliefs restrict individuals’ hopes and dreams to occur.
In Fred D’Aguiar’s novella, The Longest Memory, the hopes and dreams for equality and racial acceptance is revealed to coerce oppressed individuals to subvert social norms, all in an attempt to gain liberty and fairness.
I then went on to introduce the first text, The Longest Memory. I explained the role of hopes and dreams, and how they drive individuals to gain their own freedom.
Similarly, Tom Wright’s play, Black Diggers, explores the collective yearning of oppressed Indigenous Australians who seek to gain a sense of belonging and recognition in society.
Next, I introduced the second text, Black Diggers, by using the transition comparing word, 'similarly', I briefly explained how Black Diggers is similar to The Longest Memory, in that they both have individuals who have yearnings and desires.
Both D’Aguiar and Wright expose how the obstacles of social inequality, deep-rooted prejudice and beliefs can essentially restrict the fulfilment of such desires and dreams.
I finished off my introduction by addressing the two writers, and the message they convey about hopes and dreams.
Now moving on to the body paragraphs!
In Comparative, there's an emphasis on your ability to draw insightful connections between the two texts. That’s why in How To Write A Killer Comparative, we show you how to use the LSG CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy to identify and discuss unique points of comparison. In the study guide, which has been written by 45+ study scorers, we also explain how to strengthen your comparative discussion through Advanced Essay Paragraph Structures which truly showcase the power of the CONVERGENT and DIVERGENT strategy. You can check it out here.
Here is an example of one paragraph I wrote for my essay:
The ambitions of the oppressed are achieved to a certain extent. However, they are not maintained and thus become restricted due to the beliefs and conventions entrenched in society. D’Aguiar asserts that a sense of liberation can indeed be achieved in the unjust system of slavery, and this is demonstrated through his characterisation of Chapel. His depiction of Chapel serves as a subversion of the conventional type of slave; he is 'half a slave, half the master' and belongs to 'another way of life'. His defiance and rebellion against the dictations of society is exemplified through his speech, which consists of rhythmic and poetic couplets, filled with flowery language; which ultimately challenges the idea of illiterate slaves. D’Aguiar also associates the allusion of the 'two star-crossed lovers' in regards to the relationship between Lydia and Chapel; who were 'forbidden' to 'read together'. Despite this, the two characters take on a form of illicit, linguistic, sexual intercourse with each other, as they 'touch each other’s bodies in the dark' and 'memorise [their] lines throughout'. Here, D’Aguiar illustrates their close intimacy as a form of rebellion against the Eurocentric society, who believed such interrelation between blacks and whites was 'heinous' and 'wicked'. The individualistic nature of Chapel is also paralleled in Black Diggers, where Wright’s portrayal of Bertie expresses the yearning for a sense of belonging. Just like Chapel, Bertie desires free will, and he decides to 'fight for the country'. This aspiration of his however, is restrained by both his Mum and Grandad; who in a similar manner as Whitechapel, represent the voice of reality and reason. Wright employs the metaphor of the Narrandera Show to depict the marginalisation and exclusion of Aboriginal people, as they will never be 'allowed through the wire', or essentially, ever be accepted in Australia. This notion of exclusion is further reinforced through Bertie’s gradual loss of voice and mentality throughout Wright’s short vignettes, as he soon becomes desensitised and is 'unable to speak'. Here, Wright seems to suggest that the silenced voices of the Indigenous soldiers depict the eternal suffering they experienced; from both the horrors of war, but also the continual marginalisation and lack of recognition they faced back home. Consequently, D’Aguiar and Wright highlight how the ambitions of young individuals are limited by the truths and history of reality, and are essentially rarely achieved.
Now let’s take a deeper look into this paragraph:
The ambitions of the oppressed are achieved to a certain extent. However, they are not maintained and thus become restricted due to the beliefs and conventions entrenched in society.
I started my paragraph by briefly explaining how the hopes and dreams of individuals are achieved, but they are not maintained due to social beliefs and conventions.
D’Aguiar asserts that a sense of liberation can indeed be achieved in the unjust system of slavery, and this is demonstrated through his characterisation of Chapel.
I went on to highlight the first text, The Longest Memory, and started to discuss about D’Aguiar’s characterisation of Chapel.
His depiction of Chapel serves as a subversion of the conventional type of slave; he is 'half a slave, half the master' and belongs to 'another way of life'. His defiance and rebellion against the dictations of society is exemplified through his speech, which consists of rhythmic and poetic couplets, filled with flowery language; which ultimately challenges the idea of illiterate slaves.
Here, I provided evidence and emphasised on the language D’Aguiar has used to construct his character of Chapel, and further explained how he did it in order to portray Chapel as non-standard type of slave.
D’Aguiar also associates the allusion of the 'two star-crossed lovers' in regards to the relationship between Lydia and Chapel; who were 'forbidden' to 'read together'. Despite this, the two characters take on a form of illicit, linguistic, sexual intercourse with each other, as they 'touch each other’s bodies in the dark' and 'memorise [their] lines throughout'.
I continued to discuss about the relationship between Lydia and Chapel, as they are both characters who defied society’s expectations and ideals.
Here, D’Aguiar illustrates their close intimacy as a form of rebellion against the Eurocentric society, who believed such interrelation between blacks and whites was 'heinous' and 'wicked'.
I have highlighted D’Aguiar’s characterisation of Chapel and Lydia, and further explained how he uses their relationship to demonstrate defiance and rebellion against society.
The individualistic nature of Chapel is also paralleled in Black Diggers, where Wright’s portrayal of Bertie expresses the yearning for a sense of belonging.
Then, I have addressed the second text by discussing the similarity between the characters of Chapel and Bertie.
Just like Chapel, Bertie desires free will, and he decides to 'fight for the country'. This aspiration of his however, is restrained by both his Mum and Grandad; who in a similar manner as Whitechapel, represent the voice of reality and reason.
I explained the similarities between Chapel and Bertie, but also included some comparisons with Mum and Grandad and Whitechapel.
Wright employs the metaphor of the Narrandera Show to depict the marginalisation and exclusion of Aboriginal people, as they will never be 'allowed through the wire', or essentially, ever be accepted in Australia.
I went on to explain how Wright used the construction of a metaphor, to convey the marginalisation and exclusion Aboriginal people faced.
This notion of exclusion is further reinforced through Bertie’s gradual loss of voice and mentality throughout Wright’s short vignettes, as he soon becomes desensitised and is 'unable to speak'.
I have further emphasised how Wright characterised Bertie to become silent throughout the play.
Here, Wright seems to suggest that the silenced voices of the Indigenous soldiers depict the eternal suffering they experienced; from both the horrors of war, but also the continual marginalisation and lack of recognition they faced back home.
I explained Wright’s portrayal of the silent Indigenous soldiers, in which he conveyed their exclusion and lack of recognition in society.
Consequently, D’Aguiar and Wright highlight how the ambitions of young individuals are limited by the truths and history of reality, and are essentially rarely achieved.
I ended my paragraph by explaining how both of the writers reveal how the ambitions of individuals are rarely achieved due to the truth of reality.
And lastly, we need to end our comparative analysis with a conclusion. Here is my conclusion:
D’Aguiar and Wright both illustrate oppressed individuals fighting against the beliefs and conventions of society; in order to gain their freedom and achieve their hopes and dreams. However, both reveal the harsh truths of reality that ultimately inhibit and restrict the capacity of people’s ambitions. D’Aguiar and Wright compel their readers to try and grasp an understanding of the past of slaves and Aboriginal soldiers, in order to seek remembrance and closure of this fundamental truth. They both convey the need for memories and the past to never be forgotten; and instead remembered and recognised in history.
Here, I will explain how I constructed my conclusion:
D’Aguiar and Wright both illustrate oppressed individuals fighting against the beliefs and conventions of society; in order to gain their freedom and achieve their hopes and dreams.
I begin my conclusion by explaining the similarities between the two writers, in which they both presented oppressed individuals who desire freedom and have defied social beliefs.
However, both reveal the harsh truths of reality that ultimately inhibit and restrict the capacity of people’s ambitions.
I then further emphasised how Wright and D’Aguiar convey the message that hopes and dreams are restricted due to the truths of reality.
D’Aguiar and Wright compel their readers to try and grasp an understanding of the past of slaves and Aboriginal soldiers, in order to seek remembrance and closure of this fundamental truth.
I elaborated on the message that both writers conveyed to their audience, in which they wanted their readers to acknowledge the history and truth of slavery and war.
They both convey the need for memories and the past to never be forgotten; and instead remembered and recognised in history.
I ended my paragraph by highlighting the main purpose of the texts and the writers’ intention; which was to convey to their audience the significance of memories, and the need for the past to be remembered and recognised in history.
And that’s all folks! That’s the total rundown of my comparative analysis. I hope you were able to learn a thing or two from this article. Now, go on and begin writing!
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