Go ahead and tilt your mobile the right way (portrait). The kool kids don't use landscape...
When it comes to studying a text for the text response section of Year 12 English, what may seem like an obvious point is often overlooked: it is essential to know your text. This doesn’t just mean having read it a few times either – in order to write well on it, a high level of familiarity with the text’s structure, context, themes, and characters is paramount. To read a detailed guide on Text Response, head over to our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response.
Authors structure their texts in a certain way for a reason, so it’s important to pick up on how they’ve used this to impart a message or emphasise a point. Additionally, being highly familiar with the plot or order of events will give you a better grasp of narrative and character development.
It’s also a good idea to research the life of the author, as this can sometimes explain why certain elements or events were included in the text. Researching the social and historical setting of your text will further help you to understand characters’ behaviour, and generally gives you a clearer ‘image’ of the text in your mind.
The overarching themes of a text usually only become apparent once you know the text as a whole. Moreover, once you are very familiar with a text, you will find that you can link up events or ideas that seemed unrelated at first, and use them to support your views on the text.
For each character, it is important to understand how they developed, what their key characteristics are and the nature of their relationships with other characters in the text. This is especially crucial since many essay questions are based solely on characters.
With all this said, what methods can you use to get to know your text?
Reading the text itself: while this may seem obvious, it’s important to do it right! Read it for the first time as you would a normal book, then increase the level of detail and intricacy you look for on each consecutive re-read. Making notes, annotating and highlighting as you go is also highly important. If you find reading challenging, try breaking the text down into small sections to read at a time.
Discussion: talk about the text! Nothing develops opinions better than arguing your point with teachers, friends, or parents – whoever is around. Not only does this introduce you to other ways of looking at the text, it helps you to cement your ideas, which will in turn greatly improve your essay writing.
External resources: it’s a good idea to read widely about your text, through other people’s essays, study guides, articles, and reviews. Your teacher may provide you with some of these, but don’t be afraid to search for your own material!
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The idea of VCE English assessments can sometimes be a bit daunting. Always so much you want to write, never as much time as you need and they always seem to come around sooner than you think. But there is never as much cause for alarm as you think and I’m willing to guarantee that almost everyone reading this is so much better than they think at English.
You’ve already come so far from where you started in your high school English journey. I’d like to challenge anyone reading this to go and find the earliest English essay you’ve got tucked away somewhere. I’ve done this myself and, if yours is anything like mine, you’ll be almost disgusted by what you find. Year-7-me just loved to retell the story, cling to my rigid TEEL formulas and leave my quotes just dangling, write the same basic paragraph three times and call it a complete essay. Not a pretty read and I’m sure a couple of you can relate. But, this exercise does at least prove a very valuable point: you are capable of improving at English.
So let’s start thinking about that essay you’ve got coming up again. You’ve just given yourself a nice confidence booster with that walk down memory lane, reminding yourself that you are a more-than-capable English student these days. But all you now want to do is your very best for this next essay. But how do you keep improving between now and then? After all, if you knew what you had to do to improve your English, you’d already be doing it, right? So what we’re going to do now is to have a look at what taking your essays to that next level really looks like; how you can improve your writing between now and then, whenever that might be.
So to do this, we’re going to take an already good paragraph and improve it together. Take this one, one that I conveniently prepared earlier to a Station Eleven prompt that has to do with the theme of memory/history.
Part 1: The Good Paragraph
Q: Mandel shows the importance of remembering the past. To what extent is this true?
A: In Station Eleven, the characters often find meaning from the creation of enduring legacies. Mandel demonstrates this idea through the naming of Jeevan’s son after his brother, Frank. By creating such an enduring legacy for a character who believes in the power of such legacies - 'they’re all immortal to me' - Mandel implies that characters like this are able to achieve meaning and fulfilment by preserving these legacies. Mandel also uses the character of Miranda to highlight the importance of legacies to provide meaning where Miranda lacks it in her day-to-day life. Even though Miranda’s life is left incomplete by her sudden death, the beauty in the scene of her death suggests that a sense of fulfilment has been achieved despite the emptiness of her life relative to other characters: 'its extravagant sunsets and its indigo sea'. Hence, the meaning in her life comes from the legacy that she creates from the art she makes in her 'independent' life. This is contrasted against the character of Arthur, whose legacy does not influence any events in the post-flu world, because of his failure to create legacy or meaning beyond his day-to-day life. Further, Arthur’s death in the hectic Elgin Theatre has far less beauty than that of Miranda, implying less fulfilment in his life. Therefore, Mandel uses her text to demonstrate the value of creating legacies that allow others to remember the past.
Let’s call this our good paragraph. I’ve modelled this off of an essay I found from my Year 10 self, as happy as Year-10-me would have been with this performance, it’s far from perfect. But, it is a very functional paragraph that does all that a paragraph really needs to do. It introduces an idea, justifies it with evidence, links back at the end and doesn’t waste too much time retelling the story. So now we get to the fun bit: we’re going to take this already good paragraph, and turn it into a better paragraph.
So how do we make a good paragraph better?
Well, for a start, we can integrate our quotes so that the paragraph reads better. You’ll see in just a second how much of a difference this can make. This is something I learnt to do between Years 10 and 11. Other improvements that could be made include answering the prompt more directly and using some of the language of the prompt within our answers. So let’s change this and see now what these small differences do to our paragraph.
Part 2: The Better Paragraph
Q: Mandel shows the importance of remembering the past. To what extent is this true?
A: In Station Eleven, the characters often find meaning from the creation of enduring legacies that allow others to remember the individuals who came before. Mandel demonstrates this idea through the naming of Jeevan’s son after his brother, Frank. By creating this symbolic memorial for a character who believes that such legacies can allow individuals such as actors to become 'immortal', Mandel implies that characters like this are able to achieve meaning and fulfilment through their legacies. Furthermore, Mandel also uses the character of Miranda to highlight the importance of creating a legacy through one’s art to provide meaning where Miranda lacks it in her day-to-day life. Although abruptly killed off in the middle of the text, Mandel imbues her death with a certain beauty through its 'extravagant sunsets and indigo sea'. In doing so, Mandel provides a sense of completion about Miranda’s life and suggests that a sense of fulfilment has been achieved despite the emptiness of her life relative to other characters. Hence, the meaning in her life comes from the legacy that she creates from the art she makes in her 'independent' life. This is contrasted against the character of Arthur, whose legacy does not influence any events in the post-flu world, because of his failure to create legacy or meaning beyond his day-to-day life. Further, Arthur’s death in the hectic Elgin Theatre has far less beauty than that of Miranda, implying less fulfilment in his life. Therefore, Mandel uses her text to demonstrate the importance of creating legacies that allow others to remember the past.
There we have it. The paragraph has been rewritten based on the ones I wrote in Year 11 and we have the first signs of improvement. The topic sentence now references the ‘remembering the past’ aspect of the prompt. The linking sentence now uses the ‘importance’ part of the prompt. All of the same quotes are used but are now integrated (check out How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss if you need more help with this).
We’ve made sure not to have more than one sentence starting with Mandel (a small nitpick but still a nice addition). It flows better. It answers the prompt more directly and suddenly we have a better paragraph. Year-11-me has shown improvement and with this comes better scores and more confidence: something that’s very important for success in English. If you’re confident and proud of what you’re writing, then you’ll have higher marks and, even better, more fun!
We haven’t changed much and the paragraph is already better. But it’s not my best paragraph. Between Years 11 and 12, I learnt even more things. I was taught to write about not only the world of the text but also the world around us that we and Mandel live in: you’ll notice that this better paragraph talks more about ‘characters’ that live ‘in the text’ whereas my best paragraph would talk more about the text in the context of the world you and I live in. I learnt to make my topic sentences more abstract and broad so that they relate more to our own world and less to the world of the text and remind whoever’s assessing that my ideas apply to everyone and not just within the texts. I learnt to respond more directly to different types of prompts (Discuss, To what extent is this true?, How does Mandel… and others) and I learnt to be more direct in discussing the views and values of Mandel (what she likes, what she doesn’t like, what she wants to see more of in the world)
So let’s apply some final changes, and see what our paragraph looks after two more years of refining English. This final paragraph is almost exactly the same as one I wrote in timed conditions before my final exam.
The Final Part: The Best Paragraph
Q: Mandel shows the importance of remembering the past. To what extent is this true?
A: Mandel explores the importance of legacies, not only as sources of meaning for their creators, but also for their roles in allowing others to remember the roles of those who came before. Such an idea is explored through the naming of Jeevan’s son, securing the legacy of Frank. By affording such a permeating influence to an individual who writes of and appreciates the 'immortal[ity]' of long-dead actors, Mandel implies that an appreciation of the inherent value in a legacy and its ability to influence future events is a key quality in individuals. Furthermore, Mandel uses the character of Miranda to highlight the importance of creating a legacy that outlives oneself to provide meaning. Although abruptly killed off in the middle of the text, Mandel imbues her death with a certain beauty through its 'extravagant sunsets and indigo sea'. In doing so, Mandel provides a sense of completion about Miranda’s life and suggests that a sense of fulfilment has been achieved despite the emptiness of her life relative to other characters. Hence, Mandel suggests that the meaning in Miranda’s life comes from the legacy that is the art she makes in her 'independent' life that continues to influence events and allow others to remember the past long after her death. Mandel provides contrast through her exploration of Arthur, whose legacy does not influence any events in the post-flu world because of his failure to create legacy or meaning beyond his day-to-day life. Further, Arthur’s death in the hectic Elgin Theatre has far less beauty than that of Miranda, reinforcing Mandel’s view that individuals who forfeit control of their own legacies, as Arthur does, lead far less completed and fulfilled lives. Therefore, Mandel highlights the immense importance of creating legacies that allow others to remember the past and encourages greater appreciation of the value of legacies in contemporary society.
So, two years later, and we’ve got what is still essentially the same paragraph, just brushed up to an even better, or best, standard. So if we’re using the same evidence, exploring the same characters and introducing the same ideas, why is this paragraph better than the last two?
Well, if you study the topic and linking sentences, they discuss the concept of a legacy being a means of allowing others to remember the past and the importance of such a thing and everything in-between links this concept to the text. 'Mandel highlights the immense importance' represents a subtle but nice nod to the wording of the prompt by giving an ‘extent’ to which Mandel ‘shows’ or highlights. Every piece of evidence is discussed in reference to what Mandel believes about the world around us and how individuals should act in modern society.
And there’s something very nice that we can now reflect on. This paragraph has gone from good to much better without having to introduce any new ideas. There are no overly complex interpretations of the text, we’ve just taken the same skeleton of a paragraph and made it look better without changing its real substance.
And one of the wonderful things about making efforts to improve the quality of your writing is all the confidence that comes with this, whether this be from getting better at discussing views and values, learning to integrate your quotes or any achievement like this. I know that my confidence surged as my English got better and, as I got more confidence in my writing, I got more confidence in what I wrote about. My interpretations of the text became more and more obscure and a bit whacky at times and I had fun writing about these things. If you improve your writing, you’ll improve what you’re writing about which will mean you’ll have more fun writing and the cycle of improvement will just continue.
So to cap off, I thought it might be nice to have a checklist of sorts that you might be able to put against your own writing.
What’s the next step I could take in improving my English?
Are my topic and linking sentences describing a concept that relates to the prompt with everything in-between relating this concept to the text? (I found this a very useful way of thinking of paragraphs)
Does my essay/paragraph explain what the author would like to see more of/less of in modern society based on what is explored in the text?
Is my essay/paragraph specific to the exact wording and type of prompt?
And these are just some of the improvements that could be made. I’m sure each of you could ask teachers and past students and find many, many more tips on improvement. Just as long as you’re thinking about what the next step in your English might be, then you’re already headed in the right direction. So good luck and happy writing!
Station Eleven is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out ourUltimate Guide to VCE Text Response.
Breaking Down a Station Eleven Essay Prompt
We've explored themes, characters, symbols and provided a summary of the text over on our Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel blog post. If you need a quick refresher or you’re new to studying this text, I highly recommend checking it out!
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
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
The Prompt: 'The distortion of memories can be harmful.' Do you agree?
Step 1: Analyse
The first thing to note about this prompt is that it's a theme-based prompt, focussing specifically on the theme of memory, which plays a significant role throughout the novel! But more specifically, it's asking directly about the impacts distorted (i.e. misrepresentative/twisted/warped) memories have on individuals, and whether this is harmful or not. So ultimately, you have to look at which memories are distorted throughout the novel, and evaluate whether this process is ultimately helpful to the characters or not.
Many characters' memories are altered significantly from what actually occurred - this is especially relevant for the characters living after the pandemic, as memories naturally distort over a 20-year period
The two main characters we see whose memories are altered the most are Tyler and Kirsten - both of whom were children during the collapse of civilisation
For Tyler, his recollections of the past are all dominated by violence and this has a significant impact on his worldview. One could very easily argue that it is this distorted view of reality that ultimately leads to the formation of his cult and the subsequent harm he inflicts
Thus, in the case of Tyler, it is quite clear that the distortion of memories has been quite harmful
However, on the other hand, Kirsten has had to commit unspeakable acts, (as implied by her being unable to remember her past/childhood), but this is seen as a coping mechanism, allowing her to move forward in life
Thus, for Kirsten, the manipulation of her memories through her forgetting is ultimately rather positive!
Memory distortion doesn't just relate to these two characters - it also affects Clark quite severely
He is shown to be quite unhappy in the pre-apocalyptic world, which is a stark contrast to his fulfilment by the end of the novel. What causes this?
This can be attributed to his distortion of memories which allows him to view the old world in a far more positive manner, with significant nostalgia
Thus, like Kirsten, Clark's distortion of memories is also presented as largely beneficial
So ultimately, while there are downsides to manipulating one's memories (Tyler), Mandel shows that distorting memories is largely a positive coping mechanism for many characters!
Step 3: Create a Plan
From my brainstorming, I'll be approaching the essay with the following contention:
Distorting memories can be harmful but more often is beneficial.
Now it's time to work out our paragraph ideas.
P1: Tyler's distortion of memories is largely detrimental and therefore harmful because they are tainted with violence and thus exacerbate his suffering.
P2: However, Kirsten uses this as a coping mechanism, enabling her to move forward from the trauma associated with the collapse of society and therefore the distortion of memories is necessary in her case.
P3: Further, Clark's rose-tinted view of the past world allows him to come to terms with the collapse of society and again is beneficial.
While Emily St. John Mandel's post-apocalyptic novel Station Eleven illustrates the harm which can be associated with the distortion of memories, it ultimately expounds on the benefits which can be garnered by those who alter their perceptions of reality given how this can serve as an invaluable coping mechanism to process trauma. The non-linear structure of her novel, achieved through the interweaving of pre- and post-lapsarian scenes (1), allows her to sculpt parallels between her characters who are able to accurately recall both the positives and the negatives of the 'modern world'. She thus advocates that whilst the distortion of memories can perpetuate and enable violence, it can alternatively result in tangible benefits when utilised in a positive manner, thus exposing Mandel's credence in how this can actually serve to benefit individuals and entire communities as a whole.
Annotations (1) It is really useful to show an understanding of how the novel has been constructed and why - so through Station Eleven not following a traditional model of time, this allows Mandel to really contrast between her characters - namely Kirsten and Tyler.
Mandel expounds (2) how the distortion of memories can ultimately exacerbate the suffering experienced by vast sectors of the community, arguing that it is this which actively perpetuates harm due to the inability of humans to adequately process trauma, particularly trauma which stems from one's childhood given the loss of innocence which accompanies this. Indeed, Tyler, who was characterised as a young boy during the 'neutron bomb' of the Georgia Flu and the subsequent destruction of civilisation 'had the misfortune of remembering everything', ultimately resulting in dire consequences for the majority of characters who interact with him. Mandel condemns Tyler's innate desire to justify the pandemic, arguing his inability to forget, process and fully comprehend ‘the blood drenched years of the collapse’ drives the creation of his cult which eventually perpetuates great suffering. This ultimately results in significant consequences, thus allowing her to denounce how the distortion of memories (with Tyler's recollections largely being defined by extreme violence and gore) can be extremely harmful. Indeed, 'ruling with a combination of charisma, violence and cherry-picked verses from the Book of Revelations', Tyler damages the overwhelming majority of people he comes into contact with, from having numerous 'child brides' to rendering the town of St. Deborah by the Water 'unsafe' to his cult containing only a few 'true believers', (3) serving as the embodiment of humanity's insatiable lust for power. Through his reciting of only phrases from the Book of Revelations, labelled the most exclusionary and brutal book of the New Testament (4), Mandel condemns the selectivity of Tyler's beliefs, advocating that his internalisation of only the most harmful and violent phrases exemplifies the lack of benefits associated with violently distorting memories given the inability of humans to process such immense trauma and suffering. Whilst Mandel explains Tyler's actions as stemming from the violence underpinning his childhood, particularly given that he was raised by a 'lunatic' whom others deemed 'unsaveable', she dispels the notion that this excuses them, arguing the degree of hardships inflicted by Tyler himself are unjustifiable, thus further exposing her credence in the necessity of being able to forget harmful memories in order to overcome them. Ultimately, through her portrayal of Tyler's inability to forget his childhood as 'a boy adrift on the road', Mandel reveals the potential for harm to be imposed due to the distortion of memories so that they are marked by violence, arguing that this can indeed be overwhelmingly dangerous.
Annotations (2) It is great to use action words such as 'expounds' instead of the basic 'shows’ as this demonstrates a more in-depth understanding of the author’s views and values (ensuring you meet VCAA Criteria 2: Views and Values).
(3) When making claims such as that Tyler harms 'the majority of people he comes into contact with', it is great to show multiple examples, so that your claims are properly backed up with appropriate evidence!
(4) This is a really great point to draw out that other students may not consider - Tyler never references any other components of the New Testament and only focuses on the most violent sections of one particular book.
However, Mandel also displays a belief in the positives which can be gleaned by those who inherently distort their memories as a mechanism to process traumatic times in their lives, arguing this can provoke significant, tangible benefits. Conveyed through the non-linear structure of her novel, Mandel sculpts parallels between Tyler and Kristen given their similar ages and respective connections to protagonist Arthur through him serving as their father and father figure respectively, with the significant difference being that only the latter was able to forget 'the year [she] spent on the road…the worst of it' (5). As such, only Kirsten is able to adequately move on from this extremely traumatic period in her life, exemplifying Mandel's credence in how the distortion of memories can truly serve as an invaluable coping mechanism allowing individuals to overcome significant harm, with Kirsten experiencing a large degree of post-lapsarian fulfilment given her 'friendships' with her fellow members of the Travelling Symphony, her 'only home'. Despite Kirsten's past being underpinned by significant violence, with her having three 'knife tattoos' to commemorate those she has had to kill in order to survive, her continued ability to adapt her memories into less traumatic ones is applauded, with her murders having been portrayed as occurring 'slowly…sound drained from the earth' as a way for her to process 'these men [which she] will carry with [her] for the rest of [her] life', thereby exposing Mandel's credence in the necessity of being able to overcome trauma through distorting memories. As such, she ironically went on to perform Romeo and Juliet following one such event which, given Mandel's depiction of the unparalleled significance of artistic forms of expressionism facilitating human wellbeing as Kirsten 'never feels more alive' than when she performs, exposes Mandel's illumination of how altering false realities (6) can ultimately provoke tangible benefits given Kirsten's ability to simply move on despite the traumatising nature of the truth. Ultimately, through the juxtaposition between Tyler and Kirstens' distortion (7) of memories, Mandel expounds how distorting memories can wield both consequences and benefits, with the latter occurring when employed subconsciously by individuals to process harmful memories.
Annotations (5) It is quite sophisticated to go back to the construction of the novel throughout the essay (as opposed to just briefly mentioning it in the introduction!). This shows you truly understand why the author structured the novel the way she did, which in this case is to highlight the similarities and differences between Kristen and Tyler.
(6) Try to avoid repeating 'distortion of memories' every single time - it is great to use synonyms such as 'false realities', but make sure you're using the right words (see annotation 2 for more information).
(7) Note how this links back to paragraph 1 (given that these two points are so similar and go off of one another) which makes the essay flow better. We are showing that our argument is well-structured and follows logical patterns.
Furthermore, Mandel similarly explores the benefits of utilising the distortion of memories as a coping mechanism and how, especially when this is done through the lens of nostalgia, it can facilitate unprecedented satisfaction. Indeed, Clark is depicted to be the literal embodiment of post-lapsarian fulfilment (8) given his ability to, albeit through rose-tinted glasses, appreciate the 'taken-for-granted miracles' of the 'former world' through his position as the 'Curator' at the 'Museum of Civilisation'. Subsequently, he serves to expose Mandel's belief in the benefits of altering one's recollections in an overwhelmingly positive manner. As such, Clark 'spend[s] more time in the past…letting his memories overtake him' as he maintains integral cultural artefacts which 'had no practical use but that people wanted to preserve'. This ultimately eventuates into a significant degree of fulfilment for not only Clark himself, but also the other residents of the Severn City Airport, the children of whom 'like all educated children everywhere….memorise abstractions' of the pre-lapsarian society, with the entire Airport community revelling in the everyday 'beauty' of objects not typically appreciated by the general populace. In doing so Mandel highlights her belief regarding the significance underpinning the benefits which can be gained from those whose memories are distorted to cope with losses in a positive manner, arguing this can enable a substantial increase in wellbeing. This is exacerbated through the juxtaposition in Clark's pre- and post-lapsarian fulfilment, for in the former he is denigrated as merely an unhappy 'minimally present...high functioning sleepwalker' (9). Overall, through her portrayal of Clark's satisfaction despite his elderly status and the loss of everyone dear to him, Mandel exposes her belief in the value of distorting one's memories in an overwhelmingly positive manner, advocating this can facilitate the forming of one's intrinsic purpose and thus fulfilment.
Annotations (8) You want to show how characters correlate to specific themes, and if one embodies a particular idea, then you should clearly state that! It shows examiners you really know your stuff. See this blog for more about the themes and characters in Station Eleven.
(9) Again, you want to clearly highlight how Clark is distorting his memories, including by providing evidence to back up your claim.
Ultimately, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven exemplifies the limitations of the human psyche when affected by trauma, arguing that the distortion of memories can have either a positive or negative impact upon the individual. Whilst she cautions her audience against the dangers of adhering to selective recollections, she simultaneously presents the benefits which can be garnered from this, alongside the ability to liberate oneself from such harmful memories.
For more Station Eleven writing samples, check out this blog post, which compares three different paragraphs and analyses how they improve upon one another.
If you found this essay breakdown helpful, then you might want to check out our Station Eleven Study Guide where we cover 5 A+ sample essays with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY these essays achieved A+ so you reach your English goals!
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
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
The Prompt: ‘“We are loot my son and I, soldiers’ plunder.” Discuss how Euripides highlights the plight of women taken as slaves in war.’
Step 1: Analyse
The first thing to note about this prompt is that it is a 'how’ question, it is essentially asking us to identify the literary techniques Euripides has employed in order to ‘highlight’ the women’s ‘plight’. The noun ‘plight’ is defined as a troublesome or unfortunate situation, yet we must consider this word in the context of war. How do the women suffer? In other words, how does Euripides demonstrate to his reader just how dejected the women are as slaves?
Step 2: Brainstorm
It is relatively simple to identify the literary techniques which consistently appear throughout Euripides’ play, such as imagery, metaphor and simile (not entirely sure what literary techniques are? We have a list of them for you here). However, keeping in mind we have to form three paragraphs, we should consider Euripides’ authorial voice more broadly. For example, the women consistently lament their disillusionment with the gods. This is not a literary technique in itself, but it is still a literary choice which Euripides has made and which has been deepened with more specific literary devices like metaphor. The same could be said for the women’s struggle for hope, and the contrast between their joyous pasts and dismal futures.
Step 3: Create a Plan
Unlike a ‘to what extent’ question, we do not have to form an argument. Instead, we must forge a discussion of Euripides’ literary decisions as a playwright.
P1: Euripides juxtaposes the triumphant pasts of the Trojan women with their tragic futures. The 'shining citadels of Troy' are now a 'black smokened ruin’.
P2: Euripides illuminatesthe women’sattempts to retain futile hope. Note that hope also comes in the form of revenge.
P3: The dramatic irony of the play renders the women’s desperate calls upon the gods all the more tragic. Here, we can also make reference to the prologue, and Athene’s ploy to create a storm on the Greeks’ journey home which also ultimately affects the women.
At the heart of the conflict in The Women of Troy, lies the anguished 'suffering' (1) of the Trojan women as they confront their fates as 'slaves', and remember their pasts as wives and mothers. In his tragedy, first performed in Athens circa 415 BCE, Euripides amplifies the conflicted voices of the Trojan women, voices which are by contrast suppressed and disregarded in the Homeric worksthe Iliad and the Odyssey. Euripides’ stark dichotomy between the glories and 'rituals' of the past, and the sombre 'grief' of the present, elucidate the magnitude of their losses, both material and moral. For as Andromache laments, these women have been objectified as 'loot', mere spoils of war to be abused and exploited. (2) The women’s tendency to clutch onto chimerical (3) hopes and values only serves to further illuminate the profundity of their suffering once these ambitions have been brutally quashed in the 'dust' of their 'smoke blackened ruin' of Troy. Perhaps most significantly, Euripides juxtaposes the lingering though pitiful hope of the women with the gods’ complete 'desert[ion]' of Troy, positioning the women in an ironic chasm of cruel abandonment. Thus, the plight of women as wartime captives is dramatised by Euripides, corralling the audience into an ultimate stance of pity and empathy.
Annotations: (1) It is often useful to embed short/one word quotes in your essay (we teach you how in How To Embed Quotes in Your Essay Like a Boss). It shows you have a great understanding of the text, and reads fluidly as opposed to overly long quotes.
(2) Here, I have addressed the quote in the prompt in a single sentence, unpacking Euripides’ analogy of Andromache and Astyanax as ‘loot’. By comparing the two characters to war spoils, he is suggesting that they have been stripped of their free will and autonomy.
(3) It is really important to vary your vocabulary in order to increase the sophistication of your essay. The adjective ‘chimerical’ refers to an ideal which is impossible to achieve.
Euripides’ juxtaposition between the dismal future of the Trojan women and the zenith of their pasts, further illuminates the chasm of their sufferings and losses as the ultimate victims of wartime atrocities. Chiefly, Euripides contrasts Hecuba’s former royal status with the demoralizing fate of her captivity, encapsulating this tragic fall from nobility with the ironic imagery, 'throned in the dust’. Yet perhaps what truly emphasises her plight as a slave is her enduring role as a maternal figure of leadership, encapsulated in her regard of the chorus as '[her] children' and her reciprocated address as 'dear queen' and 'your mother'. Despite the 'death agony' she feels, she chooses to maintain her nobility through the depth of her morality, dramatizing the pitiful nature of her plight (4). Moreover, Euripides’ juxtaposition between the 'shining citadels of Troy' and the 'misery' of the chorus elucidates the significance of 'home', a source of solace which has been barbarically stripped away from them. Likewise, Andromache laments her past as a dutiful and faithful wife, contrasting her fidelity against her fate as a 'concubine' to the formidable Neoptolemus (5). Euripides implies that Andromache must abandon her reputation as the 'perfect wife' – the very attribute for which she was chosen especially – doomed to confront a life of sexual slavery, an unwilling mother of Neoptolemus’ children.
Annotations: (4) Here, I have used the word ‘plight’, making sure I am engaging directly with the prompt. It is often easy to fall into the trap of creating a generalised essay which only loosely adheres to the question.
(5) It is more sophisticated to specify the name of Andromache’s husband (Neoptolemus), rather than to just simply state ‘Andromache’s husband’ (even though he is not featured as a character in Euripides’ play).
Euripides (6) characterises the women by their tendency to clutch on to 'hope[s]' and ideals that are impossible to fulfil. Almost a coping mechanism of sorts, the chorus paradoxically romanticise the Greek landscape in the first episode, lauding the 'sacred halls', 'green fields', 'beautiful river[s]' and 'wealth' of Hellas. Yet, their ardent critiques of their future 'home[s]' rejects any notion that the women truly believe these glorifications of the Greek realm. Similarly, Hecuba is motivated by her futile hope that Astyanax may one day seek vengeance and be 'the savior of Troy' by 'rebuild[ing]' the city. Yet tragically, this doomed hope is violently quashed by Odysseus 'blind panic' and acute lack of rationality: the 'liar' and 'deceiver' who 'lead the Greek council' in their debate. Though this hope initially provides her with some form of solace, all comfort is dashed with the announcement of his 'butchery'. Likewise, Cassandra is motivated by her own pursuit for revenge, lauding her 'sacred marriage' to Agamemnon as an event worthy of 'praise' and 'celebration'. Yet her hope is also jaded, for she must in the process 'flout all religious feeling' as a slave of Agamemnon’s 'lust', until she meets her painful hour of death at Clytemnestra’s hands.
Annotations: (6) Notice that several of the sentences have begun with ‘Euripides characterises’ or ‘Euripides illuminates’, engaging with the ‘how’ part of the prompt. We are showing what the author has done and why.
Ironically, Euripides illuminates the plight of the Trojan women through his dramatic elucidation of the gods’ callous abandonment of the ruined Troy. Euripides juxtaposes the past 'rituals', 'dances', 'songs', 'sacrifices', 'offerings' and 'ceremonies' of the chorus with their bitter laments that 'the gods hate Troy' and that they are ultimately characterised by avarice. They are neither answered not consoled in their ultimate time of mourning, for the audience is aware that Poseidon has fled the scene in the prologue, disillusioned by the 'ceas[ing]' of 'worship', leaving 'nothing (…) worth a god’s consideration' in the fallen city. What is also rendered ironic by Euripides, is Athene’s formidable ploy to 'make the Greeks’ return home a complete disaster.' Regardless of Athene’s true motives for instigating this ultimate pursuit of comeuppance, the fact remains that the women too must endure this perilous journey to Greece. Not only are the despairing wives, mothers and daughters condemned to 'abject slavery' on foreign soil, they are 'innocent: victims who may – alongside the Greeks – find themselves on the shores of Euboea, among the 'float[ing] (…) corpses' of the Greek soldiers. They are not simply abandoned by the gods, they are, directly or indirectly, punished. (7)
Annotations: (7) This is a more original point which other students may not automatically think of. We often view Athene’s ‘ploy’ as a deserved punishment of the ‘murderous’ Greeks, yet there is no true justice, for the women too are ultimately affected.
In a play which serves to fill the silence of the Trojan women in the legendary works of the Iliad and the Odyssey(8), Euripides augments the pitiful plight of the Trojan women with agonizing references to past 'happiness', and equally unbearable forecasts of their roles as 'slaves' of Greek lust. They are indeed 'loot' and they are indeed 'plunder' – as Andromache so bitterly laments – yet their plight is recorded in the works of 'poets' to come, remembered as a legacy of stoicism 'a hundred generations hence.' Taken as our 'great theme', these women are 'sufferer[s]', yet they are also heroes.
Annotations: (8) Just as I have done in the introduction, I have referred to the context of the play in the conclusion. The Iliad and the Odyssey provided the framework for Euripides’ play, so by referencing Homer’s works we are showing the examiner that we have an understanding of the historical context.
If you'd like to dive deeper into Women of Troy, check out ourA Killer Text Guide: Women of Troystudy guide. In it, we teach you how to how to think like a 50 study scorer through advanced discussions on topics such as views and values and metalanguage, we provide you with 5 A+ sample essays that are fully annotated and everything is broken down into easy-to-understand concepts so that students of all levels can understand and apply what we teach!!
EXECUTE is the writing component that ticks off the English criteria so that your teacher is wowed by your essay and wished it was longer. So, what are these criteria points? Each school may express these points differently, however at the end of the day, teachers and examiners are all looking for the same thing:
An understanding of social, cultural or religious background in the text and how that shapes the themes, ideas, and characters. Without a clear understanding of the context of your text, you cannot fully comprehend the views and values of the author, nor the overall meaning of a text.
For example, Austen was hunched over her small writing desk in the village of Chawton during England’s Georgian era as she wrote Persuasion. You are more likely reading it in a cozy bed, listening to Taylor Swift and half considering what you’re going to watch on Netflix later. Remember, your current social and cultural context can have a great influence on how you read a text, so it’s always important to imagine the author’s own context – whether this be very similar, or very different from the context of their text. It’s as easy as a Google search!
✔️Views and values
An understanding of the author's message and purpose.
Writers use literature to criticise or endorse social conditions, expressing their own opinions and viewpoints of the world they live in. It is important to remember that each piece of literature is a deliberate construction. Every decision a writer makes reflects their views and values about their culture, morality, politics, gender, class, history or religion. This is implicit within the style and content of the text, rather than in overt statements. This means that the writer’s views and values are always open to interpretation, and possibly even controversial. This is what you (as an astute English student) must do – interpret the relationship between your text and the ideas it explores and examines, endorses or challenges in the writer’s society.
✔️Different interpretations by different readers
An understanding of how different readers and develop different interpretations, and how this changes an author's message.
Like our example using Austen vs. you as a modern reader above, the way you interpret an idea or view a character can change based on your unique views and values.
An understanding of how author's constructs their text through specific choices in words.
For example, the use of the word 'bright' vs. 'dull' to describe a landscape is intended to effect the way you perceive particular ideas or characters in a text.
A high-graded English essay will cover all of these points without fail. If you're unfamiliar with any of these, you are missing out on ways to differentiate yourself from other students. At the end of the day, there are only so many themes and characters to discuss, so you need to find unique angles to discuss these themes and characters. This will help your essay move from generic to original (yeah boy!).
If you're interested, How To Write a Killer Text Response ebook shows you the inner workings of my brain 💭- what I think when I see an essay topic, how I tackle it, and how I turn these thoughts into a high-scoring essay. The ebook includes:
- 50-pages teaching you how to respond to ANY essay topic
- Examples from 15+ popular VCE English texts
- Know exactly what to THINK about so you can formulate the best possible essay response
- Plus a bonus 20-pages of high vs low scoring essays, fully annotated (what works and what doesn't) so you know exactly what you need to do
Così is usually studied in the Australian curriculum under Area of Study 1 - Text Response. For a detailed guide on Text Response, check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Text Response.
Lewis is faced with a seemingly impossible task – to bring order to the chaotic world of the asylum – yet in the process of doing so, he develops hugely as a person. Although, it’s important not to take Lewis’ development at face value. His growth is used to highlight many of Nowra’s values on issues surrounding love, fidelity, madness and reality, just to name a few. It’s also important to look at the development (or lack of development) of other characters and think about why Nowra might have included them in the play. Luckily for you, Così is quite a short play and doesn’t have a huge cast of characters. However, this means that it’s even more important to get a great understanding of each character – they’re all there for a reason!
To fully understand this text, you’ll need to move beyond analysing characters and dialogue and consider Nowra’s main messages. Così is essentially a social commentary, packed full of criticisms of conventional perspectives and values. Also, Così is full of symbols and imagery, which can help you score highly on your essays if you integrate them into your work. Lastly, it's vital to remember that Così is a play, not a book, and on top of that, it is a play within a play. This means that setting, structure and stage directions are all crucial, and make for a high-scoring essay.
Melbourne Mental Institution, Australia during the 1970s.
All of the action takes place inside a burnt-out, derelict theatre. This serves to create an atmosphere of confinement for the audience, encouraging them to reflect on the stifling experience of the patients.
Così is divided into two acts and nine scenes. The play is dominated by Lewis’ development. Act 1 highlights his uncertainty and distance from the world of the asylum. Whereas by Act 2, we see Lewis become more invested in the patients and the asylum, as his relationships with the other characters grow. Lewis’ development is symbolised through the changing imagery throughout the play, specifically fire and water.
Così also is a piece of metatheatre, which Nowra achieves through structuring itas a ‘play within a play’. Metatheatre means that the play draws attention to its distance from reality. This makes sense in relation to Così, as Nowra is continually encouraging his audience to accept their own reality instead of falling into escapism. Including Così Fan Tutte in Così also serves to highlight the difference in popular opinion between Mozart’s era and the 1970s, while emphasising the continuity of love. This contrast also helps Lewis to come to terms with his valuation of love over war, which is at odds with the common opinions of his society.
The line between reality and illusion is explored through the characters who are labelled as ‘insane’ as well as those considered ‘normal.’ Nowra demonstrates that reality is unique for each person, and often people may slip into illusions in order to avoid the truth. It is suggested that although they may not have been completely ‘normal’, those considered to be ‘insane’ still possess great insight that ‘normal’ people may overlook. Additionally, Così reminds the reader of the absurdities of a mental asylum shunned by society, which would only have added to patients’ instabilities, especially as families dealt with the matter secretly. Furthermore, the issue of love and fidelity that was valued so highly in Mozart’s era, is proven to still be relevant in our modern times. Ultimately, Così is a play that criticises traditional structures and views of society – whether they be asylums, university education or harsh stigma. Nowra encourages his audience to accept both the complexity of people and of life, which begins with accepting your own reality.
The protagonist of Così, Lewis is a new university graduate who has agreed to direct a play cast with patients from a mental institution because he needs money. At first, Lewis shares the same values as his friends Nick and Lucy - that love is ‘not so important’ in the days of politics and war. During the time he spends with the patients, however, Lewis experiences a turning point in his understanding and perception of people. By the end of the play, Lewis learns to value love and friendship over war and politics, even stating that ‘without love, the world wouldn’t mean as much’. In emphasising the development of Lewis’ values away from the social norm, Nowra highlights the confining nature of society and the danger of its limited focus, which fails to recognise the value of love and companionship.
Additionally, Nowra blurs the lines between insanity and sanity by portraying Lewis as a bridge between the ‘real’ world and that of the asylum. At the beginning of the play, Lewis states that his grandmother was in an asylum. However, despite knowing that ‘she had gone mad’, he reflects that ‘she was still [his] grandmother.’This, alongside his passion for Julie, enables Lewis to see the patients as people, not their illnesses. Therefore, he subconsciously allows himself to be influenced by them, just as he influences them. This contradicts the traditional views surrounding the unproductivity of the mentally ill and instead highlights their value and worth. Therefore, Nowra warns against dismissing individuals who are mentally ill, instead highlighting their capacity to garner change and therefore be productive and valuable members of society.
Moreover, not only is Lewis involved in directing Così Fan Tutte, but he also finds himself playing the part of Fernando. This again further reinforces his roleas a bridge between society and the asylum (and his connection to its patients), and he ends up embodying the role. Like Fernando, Lewis is unfaithful to his partner. While still in a relationship with his girlfriend Lucy, Lewis becomes intimate with a patient, Julie. Nowra uses his unfaithfulness as evidence of the indiscriminate nature of infidelity – it is not restricted only to women.
Finally, Così explores how Lewis deals with a hardship that he essentially created for himself – he signed up to direct the play. This links to Nowra’s view of the senselessness of war, which he views as a problem that mankind has created for themselves.
Girlfriend and roommate of Lewis, Lucy cannot understand why Lewis is directing a play about love when thousands are dying in the war. She has an affair with Nick, who shares similar beliefs – that politics and the Vietnam War protest are more important than anything else. The flippant nature with which she regards her affair with Nick as purely sexual is also reflective of her lack of value towards love. Thus, Nowra portrays Lucy as a personification of the societal norms of the 1970s – she is political, into free love and challenges traditional notions of femininity.
Furthermore, it is ironic that Lucy and Lewis have similar names. At the start of the play, Lewis allows himself to be influenced by Lucy’s values rather than his own, but by the end, Lewis’ true views prove to be very different from hers.
Lucy also acts as a catalyst for Lewis’ change and development. She pushes him to ‘make a choice’between the world of insanity and fidelity that represents truth for Lewis, or the world of sanity, free love and politics that Lewis comes to view as restrictive and stifling.
An experienced student director, roommate and friend of Lewis who is heavily involved in the moratorium (a protest against the Vietnam War). He promises to help Lewis direct CosìFan Tutte, however he quickly breaks this vow in order to spend time furthering his political career with Lucy. Lewis later discovers that Lucy and Nick are having an affair. Unlike Lewis, however, Nick views his relationship with Lucy as ‘only sex’, therefore suggesting his superficiality and lack of compassion.
This superficiality is further shown through his obsession with the moratorium and his disinterest in Lewis’ Così Fan Tutte. He criticises Lewis for prioritising theatre over politics, stating that ‘only mad people in this day and age would do a work about love and infidelity.’ This suggests that what drives Nick is a desire to be seen doing the ‘normal’ and ‘right’ things, rather than an intrinsic belief that what he is doing is good. He views life as a series of transactions and values activities based on the immediate benefit that they bring him. For example, he admitted to helping Lewis with his direction only ‘so [Lewis would] help [him] on the moratorium committee’.
Overall, Nick lives up to his label of being an ‘egotistical pig’ who ‘likes the sound of his own voice’. He is used by Nowra as a benchmark with which Lewis’ development is compared (i.e. we can see how much Lewis has developed by comparing him to Nick). For example, at the start of the play Lewis shares similar superficial values to Nick, admitting to only take the directing job for a bit of money; however, by the end of Così, he holds vastly different views than Nick.
By the way, to download a PDF version of this blog for printing or offline use, click here!
Fidelity & Infidelity
According to Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte, fidelity is depicted as an ideal that is never achieved. Since ‘women are like that’ – the interpretation of ‘Così fan tutte’, Mozart supported the belief that men should simply accept that women will inevitably be disloyal in relationships. Nowra echoes this view of women through Lewis and Lucy’s relationship. While Lucy is ‘sleeping’ with Lewis, she is also triflingly ‘having sex’ with Nick. When Lewis discovers Lucy’s betrayal, she waves aside his shock, defending herself, ‘it is not as if we’re married.’ The revelation thus does prove Mozart right, that ‘woman’s constancy is like the Arabian Phoenix. Everyone swears it exists, but no one has seen it.’
Although the women in both Così Fan Tutte and Così are shown to be unfaithful, so are the men. While the men in Così Fan Tutte do not actively participate in adultery, they do fabricate their departure to the war and also disguise themselves as ‘Albanians.’ Their deception is also a betrayal to their wives. Meanwhile, Don Alfonso manipulates everyone. As seen in Così, Lewis is unfaithful to Lucy as he kisses Julie during rehearsals. Julie later reveals that she has a girlfriend who she would prefer to be with, confirming that both men and women are unfaithful in relationships, despite whatever values they may claim to have.
Nowra considers many perspectives of love and fidelity, without offering a definitive opinion. Instead, he explores the progression (or stagnation) of characters’ opinions on love and contrasts them to those of other characters, in the hope of highlighting its complexity. Nick and Lucy both view love as an indulgence that is incompatible with politics and secondary to life’s basic needs. Whereas Lewis claims, ‘without love, the world wouldn’t mean that much’. These differences between Nick and Lucy’s view on love and Lewis’, are major contributors to the deterioration of their relationships. Therefore, Nowra shows that communication and truthfulness are needed for healthy, and reciprocal, relationships.
Overall, while Così Fan Tutte presents love and fidelity as wavering, Nowra provides a more practical view of love. Nowra suggests that love is complex and cannot be fully understoodor tamed, instead portraying it as akin to madness. As love is universal, this view ties in nicely with his non-judgmental perspective on madness and insanity.
Sanity & Insanity
The line between sanity and insanity is explored through the juxtaposition of the patients and society. In the 1970s, those who behaved abnormally were declared to be ‘insane’ and placed in mental institutions that were shunned by society. As scientific developments have now informed us, these environments often failed to assist their patients. The use of electric shock therapy, for example, frequently led to severe, long-term negative effects upon patients.
While the patients were viewed as ‘madmen’ by outsiders, Lewis soon discovers that they are, in many ways, ordinary people. Although each patient has a mental flaw, all possess interesting opinions and beliefs on different matters. Additionally, Nowra encourages his readers to view insanity as more complex than a diagnosis or something that can be fixed with a ‘coat of paint’. Instead, he suggests that insanity is imposed on people through the judgment of others.
Nowra also attempts to blur the lines between sanity and insanity to emphasize the indiscriminate nature of madness. This is seen through Lewis’ character, who consistently bridges the gap between madness and normalcy. For example, despite his ‘sane’ status, he is mistaken for a patient by Justin, joins Roy in imitating electric shock therapy, replaces Doug in the play, and stands with the patients against Justin.
Overall, Nowra portrays insanity as a matter of perspective, rather than an objective diagnosis. He refuses to define madness, instead depicting it as somewhere on the spectrum of human behaviour. In doing so, he critisises traditional perspectives of sanity and insanity and instead encourages his audiences to consider the complexity of madness.
Reality & Illusion
The question of what is real or an illusion is weaved through the patients’ state of mentality. As shown through Ruth who struggles to pretend like she is having real coffee on stage, it is difficult for some to distinguish reality from illusion, even if it is clear to everyone else. For others, they may willingly refuse the truth and succumb to an illusion. Lewis deluded himself into believing that Lucy was faithful, when all signs (such as Nick residing in the same home and Nick and Lucy spending time together) indicated that Lucy was, in fact, blatantly disloyal. Much like Lewis’ protective delusion, Roy uses illusions of a happy childhood to shield him from facing his reality. This builds upon his tendencies to blame others for his behaviour – he is inherently unable to face the truth of his ‘insanity’ and so manipulates his reality to make it more bearable.
Throughout Così, Nowra also explores the relativity of reality. For the patients of the asylum, pretending to give electric shock therapy to others ‘seems realer’ than ‘kissing and stuff’, whereasthe opposite would be true in ‘ordinary’ society. However, Così also suggests that imagination has the capacity to empower. Through participating in the play, which is an illusory form of reality, the patients are able to explore their views on love and commitment.
Ultimately, the behaviour of characters such as Roy and Ruth encourages us to consider the reliability (or unreliability) of our own perceptions. Alongside this, Nowra stresses the importance of being able to accept your own reality, as he shows that characters who fail to do so, also fail to experiencepersonal growth (e.g. Roy, Julie).
The setting of a burnt-out theatre depicts the miserable environment in which the patients of mental institutions are forced to live. As they are ostracised by the community, a lack of care and support is shown through the rejected and deteriorating theatre. The patients’ considerable enthusiasm highlights their unfortunate circumstances, since even a chance to spend their time in an old building performing a play causes much excitement.
Although we see the theatre being touched up with new lights and a ‘coat of paint’,it still remains derelict and run-down. Nowra uses this to symbolise the futility of surface-level treatments (such as medication and isolation) of mental illnesses, and how we should instead focus on seeing the person behind the illness.
However, Nowra also uses the theatre as a symbol of hope. Despite its desolation, it is in the theatre that Lewis feels safe to grow and develop. Additionally, Julie and Lewis’ kiss takes place on the theatre’s stage. The kiss itself represents Lewis becoming more comfortable with himself and his increasingly counter-cultural views.
The women in both Così Fan Tutte and Così are compared with the Arabian Phoenix. The mythical creature is a representation of women, beautiful and enchanting, capturing men such as the god Apollo with its voice. This reflects the power of women to attract men. Nevertheless, its rarity, as often commented on in Così , is linked with the seemingly infrequent loyalty demonstrated by women.
The frequent reference to the Arabian Phoenix throughout Così continually reinforces the play’s misogynisticundertone. Its rarity is likened to the absenceof women’s fidelity, yet never male fidelity. Similarly, Nowra invites his audience to condemn Lucy’s unfaithfulness towards Lewis, yet we are not encouraged to feel the same way about Lewis’ unfaithfulness to Lucy.
Light and Dark
The lights in Act 1, Scene 1 highlight Lewis’ entrance into a new world, where he befriends patients who will ultimately help him to learn and develop. At first Lewis, much like Lucy and Nick, possesses a ‘pitch black’ perspective of the world. This is a representation of their modern beliefs that circulate around politics and war. When the lights are turned on, Roy is present, demonstrating that the patients of the mental institutions are the source for Lewis’ changing perspective throughout the play. Nowra also uses the lights to represent the hope for change that Lewis brings to the patients, and vice versa.
Light is also used to directly juxtapose the chaos and desperation that darkness brings. Before Lewis entered the theatre, it was dark and derelict, symbolising the abandonment and hopelessness of the asylum’s patients. This desperation is viewed in another light during Julie and Lewis’ kiss (which takes place in the dark). In this instance, their desire for each other and the chaos that ensues is liberating for Lewis, as it enables him to come to terms with what he truly values.
However, Julie notes that the wards are ‘never really dark’ as ‘there’s always a light on in the corridor.’ In this sense, darkness symbolises autonomy and freedom, whereas light represents the constant monitoring and scrutinising that the patients are subjected to.
1. Così contends that some things are more important than politics.
2. In Così, the ‘insane’ characters are quite normal.
3. The line between reality and illusion is often blurred.
4. Ironically, it is through the ‘madmen’ that Lewis learns what is truly important.
5. Nick and Lucy’s ‘modern’ value of free love is depicted to be a backwards belief. Discuss.
Now it's your turn! Give these essay topics a go. For more sample essay topics, head over to our Così Study Guideto practice writing essays using the analysis you've learnt in this blog!
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
Character-Based Prompt: It is not only Lewis who develops in Così, but other characters as well. Discuss.
Step 1: Analyse
Simply spot a character’s name and there you have it, it’s a character-based prompt. However, it’s important to recognise that your essay does not need to revolve around only the character(s) in the prompt but should also incorporate discussion of other major and minor characters as well.
In this topic, it is important to incorporate other characters, such as the patients, into your essay, because they are crucial to Lewis’ development. To ensure that you stay on topic, it is best to include a paragraph (or paragraphs) that explore characters other than Lewis and their development. Also try and focus on different areas/types of development (i.e. not just Lewis’ changing values).
Highlight Key Words:
It is not only Lewis who develops in Così, but other characters as well.
Così explores the development/growth of multiple characters, including Lewis.
Lewis is the central catalyst that enables other character’s development to be seen (such as Ruth’s and Zac’s)
However, we also see characters who fail to develop. This is either because they fail to accept their own reality (Roy) or they fail to accept the errors in their thinking (Lucy, Nick)
Nowra also uses Lewis as the benchmark against which the development of other characters is measured. For example, Nick’s lack of development is highlighted through comparing his stagnation/unchanging ways to Lewis’ growth.
Lewis’ development is facilitated by the patients. Nowra uses this to suggest the productivity of the mentally ill and challenge traditional stereotypes that label them as incapable.
Through Lewis’ development, Nowra highlights the falsity in societal stereotypes of the mentally ill (i.e. Lewis’s views change from being discriminatory and stereotypical to more compassionate, and well founded.)
Imagery and symbolism are used to represent development and growth (fire and water) as well as Lewis’ catalytic nature (light and dark).
Step 3: Create a Plan
Contention: Nowra encourages his audience to reconsider their perspective on the mentally ill by highlighting their capacity to not only change themselves, but enact change in others.
Topic Sentence 1: Through his exploration of Lewis’ changing ideals during Così, Nowra attempts to highlight the value of companionship and productivity of the mentally ill, which act to increase Lewis’ confidence when faced with adversity.
Examples: Lewis’ changing ideas on love and fidelity, Lewis’ changing levels of subservience to Lucy and Nick
"Not so important."
"Without love, the world wouldn’t mean as much."
"They are coming to take me away, ha, ha."
"Not sing that."
"I said, don’t sing that song."
Linking Sentence(s): In contrasting Lewis’ meekness to his boldness, Nowra alludes to the personal benefits that personal growth can have. Additionally, he ultimately encourages his audience to view Lewis’ learning as evidence against the common notion of the unproductivity of the mentally ill, as we see Lewis’ development flourish during his time at the asylum.
Topic Sentence 2: Moreover, throughout Così we see Lewis develop a greater understanding of the complexity of madness due to his partnership with the patients.
Examples: Lewis’ changing perspective of the patients, Lewis’ involvement with the patients beyond his role as director, fire and water imagery
"Will go bezerk without their medication."
"Unable to believe he has found himself caught up in [directing]."
"Water drip[ping] though the hole in the roof."
Linking Sentence: Ultimately, through highlighting the development of Lewis’ views towards insanity, Nowra positions his audience to reflect on the complexity of madness and thus warns of the danger of stereotypes.
Topic Sentence 3: Furthermore, as an outsider, Lewis assists the patients in their development, acting as their connection to the real world and ultimately providing a space for them to grow and flourish.
Examples: Juxtaposition of light and dark, Ruth’s development.
"Chink of light."
"Burnt out theatre."
"Real cappuccino machine."
"Wasn’t [her], it was the character."
"Time and motion expert."
Linking Sentence: Ultimately, Nowra explores the learning and growth of characters in Così to not only highlight the necessity of a humanistic approach to treating mental illness, but also to illustrate the nature of mental health as a continuum, on which no one person needs to be stationary forever.
If you find this essay breakdown helpful, then you might want to check out our Così Study Guide where we cover 5 A+ sample essays with EVERY essay annotated and broken down on HOW and WHY these essays achieved A+ so you reach your English goals! Let's get started.
Most people only think about EXECUTING their essay - the writing. Whether that be essay structure, memorising quotes or how to avoid repeating yourself in the dreaded conclusion. However, my strategy places emphasis on the THINK.
THINK is the brainstorm, exploration, and development of ideas. Get this right, and you'll come up with ideas and a response that pushes you ahead of your peers. The EXECUTION comes next, only strengthening your lead to the finish line.
So what does THINK actually involve? 🤔
You need to consider aspects of an essay topic that most students gloss over, including:
💭What's the essay topic type?
Knowing the essay topic type will change your essay structure. While you might wish for a one-size-fits-all essay structure, this is a limited viewpoint that stops you from reaching your potential. Different essay types include:
Author's message-based prompts
By understand what's required in each one of these essay topic types, you'll have a template you can follow to ensure that you answer the prompt (no more complaints from your teacher complaining that you're going off topic!).
💭 What are the question tags?
Never heard of this term previously? That's because majority of teachers don't teach you to change your Text Response according to the question tag. A 'do you agree?' essay topic expects a different response from a 'discuss' essay topic.
💭 How do I ensure I respond to each keyword?
This is important so you don't go off topic (we've all at least experienced this once in our high school writing careers 😥). Sometimes, one missed keyword is all it takes to derail your entire essay. No matter how well you've written your essay, an essay that doesn't answer the prompt won't fare well.
For example, have a think about which keywords can be found in this essay topic "Jeff's attempt to pursue justice are entirely without honour. To what extent is this true?".
For me, the keywords include:
- 'Pursue justice'
- 'To what extent is this true?'
Even though I've labelled almost every word in the essay topic, individually, each of these keywords will shape my response. Majority of students will pick up the necessity to discuss the keyword 'entirely' in their essays. They will potentially argue that Jeff's attempt isn't entirely without honour, and mention instances where honour was shown. However, a less obvious keyword that needs further exploration is 'justice'. Most students will take this word for granted, and won't really explore what the word 'justice' means in this sentence. A more advanced student will understand that 'justice' in this essay topic is viewed from Jeff's perspective, meaning that what Jeff deems to be 'justice', might not be the same 'justice' for a viewer. These are the nuances in an essay topic that I'd like you to be very confident in.
Knowing how to THINK will ensure that you EXECUTE your essay writing most effectively, optimising your potential to nail that A+. If I went from average to consistent A+s in Year 11 and Year 12, I have no doubt you can do it too. That's why I created the How To Write a Killer Text Response ebook.
I know that you are probably like I was, searching for a clear, simple way to get better at English without just relying on my teacher (despite the fact that I had a great teacher!). I've compiled my 10 years of tutoring English, refining this strategy year after year. With this knowledge, many of my students achieved a study score they thought was impossible (one student Ruby, wanted a study score of 30 to get into her university course, and ultimately achieved a 40 study score! WOW! 😮).
If you're interested, How To Write a Killer Text Response ebook shows you the inner workings of my brain 💭- what I think when I see an essay topic, how I tackle it, and how I turn these thoughts into a high-scoring essay. The ebook includes:
- 50-pages teaching you how to respond to ANY essay topic
- Examples from 15+ popular VCE English texts
- Know exactly what to THINK about so you can formulate the best possible essay response
- Plus a bonus 20-pages of high vs low scoring essays, fully annotated (what works and what doesn't) so you know exactly what you need to do and what not to do
The scariest part of the EAL exam, while might not be the most daunting task, is probably getting your head wrapped around an unfamiliar language analysis task under time condition. Jargons and difficult terms might be used, and some articles tend to not be so straightforward making this task more challenging for EAL students. This blog post aims to alleviate this fear for all EAL students as much as possible and better your performance in the end-of-year exams. After reading this, I'd highly recommend our Ultimate Guide To Language Analysis as you study for your next SAC or exam.
To understand and analyse an article well, you will need to know the writer’s contention well, identifying whether they are for or against an idea. Most language analysis articles are written on an issue, which is why it is important to spot what the issue is and the writer’s stance. Most of the time, the writer’s contention is found at the beginning of the article, in the title, though there are times it is found at the end of the article. Sometimes, skimming through an article might be sufficient for you to find its main point.
Spotting and understanding arguments, on the other hand, might be much more difficult as they can be found anywhere within the articles and the number of arguments contained varies from articles to articles.
The good news is, there is no right or wrong answer in English so there is no need to be too worried about whether what you are writing is ‘precise’ or not. In order to look for arguments and ‘chunk the reading passage’ in the most efficient way, you should be paying attention to the ways the writer tries to structure the article (e.g. paragraphs, headings and subheadings if there are any, etc). More than often arguments can be found at the beginning of paragraphs (writers might also use that good old Topic-Evidence-Example-Linking structure in drafting their piece) and sometimes two consecutive paragraphs focus on one singular argument.
Also, arguments should be specific and support the writer’s contention. For instance, if the contention is ‘technology ameliorates Americans’ standards of living’, the arguments might be something along the lines of ‘it is beneficial as it improves efficiency in workplace environment’ or ‘it allows people to communicate easily’. Trying to make an educated guess on what the arguments might look like will definitely help if you already know the contention of the article.
Language barriers might be an issue if the writer uses technical terms related to an unfamiliar area (e.g. an article about “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanokoniosis”, a lung disease caused by a certain type of dust, might pop up – highly unlikely but thank me later if it does come up). This is why dictionaries are there to help us and they are a must-have coming into EAL exams and SACs. You are allowed to bring bilingual dictionaries as well, so make sure you have a good set of dictionaries that you can bring into SACs and exams. Regardless of how fluent you are, there is still a possibility that they use one if not more than one unfamiliar term in your language analysis articles.
However, it is not always difficult to guess the meaning of the word without using the dictionary (time restraints!!) by looking at the sentence as a whole. The location of the words within a sentence might allow you to make a reasonable guess of what type of words it is or what it might mean. If it is the subject or object of the sentence, it is either a pronoun, a noun or a name. If the word is after a subject, it is likely to be a verb which describes an action! To familiarise yourself with sentence structure further, read my guide on The Keys To English Fluency and Proficiency.
Answering Reading Comprehension Questions
Section C, Question 1 requires students to write short answers, in note form or sentences, which altogether will make up of 50% of the marks in Section C. I am not sure about you but for a lot of students, getting good marks for Question 1 is much easier than getting good marks for Question 2, which requires you to write a full language analysis essay. This is why it is important that you are able to maximise your marks in this question because they are purported to be easier marks to get! Some of the questions will ask the students for factual information but more difficult questions will require to think about that is contained in the text and make an interpretation based on your understanding.
1. Question words
To know what sort of answer you are expected to give before looking for details from the article, you need to be familiar with question words.
WHO - A particular person or group of people impacted by an incident or involved in a situation
WHAT - This really depends. It might require you to give out information about something or to identify reasons for the writer’s opinions (which is good it might make it easier for you to find the writer’s arguments)
WHEN - The timeframe within which an issue or event occurred (date, day, etc)
WHERE - The location of an event
WHY - The reasons for something
HOW - How a problem can be resolved
2. Direction words
Unfortunately, not all questions in this section have “question words” and examiners usually give out questions that are broader using “direction words” or “task words”, making this section more challenging for students. EAL is not the only subject that requires students to know their direction words well so it is definitely worthwhile learning these words to improve your performance. These are the most common direction words used in Section C (see below!).
Giving information about something or to identify the writer’s opinions
This requires you to give out information in your own words and elaborate
Students will be required to find what is asked from the article and write them down in the briefest form possible
Usually in note forms – to answer this you need to identify what is asked and briefly noting them down
Retelling something in a succinct and concise ways in your own words, it should only be enough to highlight key ideas
Finding evidence from the text to justify a statement or opinions
3. Marks allocation
Another super helpful tip is to pay extra attention to the marks allocation of the questions. It usually gives you a fairly accurate indication of how much you should write. The general rule of thumb would be that the number of marks tell students how many sentences or points they should be making.
Identify the reasons why the writer loves travelling (2 marks)
Students should be writing down 2 reasons why the writer loves travelling
The editor strongly opposes the use of plastic bag. Support this statement (3 marks)
In this case, it is probably best to find 3 pieces of evidence from the article that justify the statement stated to make sure you do not lose any marks by not writing enough.
4. Sample Questions And Response
My own response and annotation of Question 1 and Section C of the 2017 EAL exam is below. I really hope it would give you guys a better idea of what is expected from EAL students.
Time Management Tips
Look at the comprehension questions during reading time
I usually used my reading time skimming through the article, looking at the questions and flip back and forth the booklet to look for answers for the questions at the back. The reason why this was the first thing I did was because they often contain clues of what the arguments might me. Questions such as “give three reasons why the editor thought technology is beneficial” will help you immediately identify some key ideas and arguments in the article.
Look for key features instead of analysing and finding techniques straight away
I also used the reading time to find the contention, determine what type of article it was and the source, etc. The following acronym might help you! I often tried identifying all of the features below as it also helped me plan my introduction within reading time.
For a detailed guide on How to Write an A+ Language Analysis Introduction, check out our advice here.
Set out a detailed time management plan for your essay the night before the SAC or exams(or earlier if possible)
Be strict with yourself, know your writing speed and know how long it takes you to write a paragraph.
Stick with one introduction’s structure/ format
If you are used to writing an introduction that, for instance, starts off by introducing the issue, title of the piece, author, and then the contention, tone, audience then stick with it, or memorise it if you do not have the best writing speed or just do not work well under time pressure.
Whether or not (issue) is an issue that garners much attention in recent media. In response to this, (author) writes a (form) titled “(title)” to express his disapprobation/endorsement of (issue) to (audience). By adopting a (tone word 1) and (tone word 2),(author) asserts/ articulates/ contends that (contention). With the use of an accompanying visual, the writer enhances the notion that (contention).
Not be way too thorough with annotation
When it comes to performing well under time condition, perfectionism might hinder you from best maximising your marks! Everyone learns differently and has different approaches to this task but it is probably better if we do not spend way too much time annotating the article. While it is important to scan through the article and identify important persuasive techniques, sometimes it is more than sufficient to just circle or highlight the technique instead of colour-coding it, writing down what its effects on the audience, labelling techniques. Don’t get me wrong, these aforementioned steps are important, but there is no point writing that information down twice because you will be repeating those steps as you write your essay anyway! I’d recommend trying out different annotation techniques and see what works for you, but for me minimalism served me well.
Create your own glossary of words
Sometimes, it takes too much time just sitting down staring at the paper deciding what words you should be using. We’ve all been there, worrying if you have repeated “highlight” or “position” way too many time. Memorising a mini glossary might solve this issue and save us writing time. I have included a sample glossary for you to fill in, hopefully it helps you as much as it did me! It might be a good starting point for you.
The writer criticises …critiques, lambastes, chastises, condemns, denounces, etc
At the end of the day, regardless of how many tips you have learned from this blog, it would not be enough to significantly improve your marks unless you practice frequently. Knowing how long it takes you to write the introduction, or each paragraph will better enable you to finish the essay within the time set and allow you to spend a bit of spare time proofreading your essay. If you are aiming for A+’s, writing every week is probably the best piece of advice I can give because without enough practice, your performance under pressure cannot match up to your usual performance.
Today we're going to go through the 2019 past VCAA English Exam (grab a copy of the exam here so you can analyse with me). As you probably know, if you've watched my videos before, you always want to make sure you read the background information when it comes to Analysing Argument.
I'm going to use Analysing Argument and Language Analysis interchangeably by the way, but I'm talking about the same thing okay?
The background information is pretty important because it gives you context for what is happening in this article. Without reading the background information, you might just head in there and possibly even come up with an entirely different context altogether, which might screw over your actual analysis and the author's intention. So, never skip the background information. Make sure that you read it and also pick out the gems that you find in it.
What I've always found is background information is great for picking keywords - words I might want to use throughout my own Language Analysis. It also has really good details about the article. In this case, you can see that there's a member of the public who has responded, which tells us a little bit about the author; it's a 'response' as well, so there's going to be two articles; it's an advertorial - an advertorial is a paid advertisement that looks like an article (I'll use the word advertorial as I'm describing the article in my introduction), and, I also know where it's been published. This is already really good information for you to start using in your introduction.
Finding Your Own Interpretation
Let's move into the analysis itself. By the way, this is my first time doing this analysis, so we're doing it together. What you'll find is that I come up with particular interpretations that you might not have come up with. I might miss something, you might miss something, and what you'll find is my interpretation is not the only interpretation out there. If you come up with something else, it's totally fine for you to go ahead and analyse it, as long as you can back it up. This is what English is all about, so don't stress if I haven't matched up with you in exactly what I'm saying. You can also use my interpretation as a double interpretation. So, what you could do is go into your essay, write your interpretation and if mine compounds on top of yours pretty well, if it's a great addition to what you're saying, add it in and bam! You're showing your examiner that, you're somebody who can look at one particular technique from several different perspectives and that's kind of cool.
Moving on to the Analysis
So, 'A Better, Faster Shopping Experience'. From what I can already see here is there's this sense of convenience already being brought up. Now, at this point in time, I don't know what the point of that convenience is, but I know for me as a shopper, if I can get something for a better experience and I can get it done faster, then hells yeah, I am all for that. Think about yourself in the reader's shoes, after all, you really are the reader reading this article. Think about how it's starting to impact you.
I've done a video about the TEE rule previously that goes through Technique, Example and the intended Effect on the audience. Make sure you're familiar with that because I will use a lot of that in today's analysis.
'An open letter to our valued customers. As you know, Hailey's Local Store is not your average grocery store.'
Interesting. The 'As you know' is pretty familiar. It's this familiarity that this person is sharing with us (the author's name is Hailey, so I'll just say Hailey). She says 'As you know, Hailey's Local Store is not your average grocery store' and repeating that familiar 'As you know' reminds the audience - us - of our long-term relationship with the store. So, in a sense, she's drawing upon our good will and our trust in the local shop, which creates this differentiation between herself (as somebody who's more proactive and customer-centric) and your bigger grocery stores.
'We're a little bit different - we always put our customers first.'
At this point, we start to feel valued. We know that we are her priority. Her priority isn't about profits, which a lot of stores are about, it's about the people, and as a result, we're more inclined to look at her in a favourable way.
'We offer lots of healthy meals, many specials, locally source food and, as you know, we abolished plastic carry bags four years ago - long before the big stores.'
This whole sentence is pretty good because it shows us that she is somebody who is forward-thinking and she has actually carried through with her claim that she puts her customer first. We know that because she follows it up with:
'Why did we do those things? Because you told us that was what you wanted and needed.'
She's got historical proof of putting customers first, which again, serves to build this rapport and relationship between Hailey and us as her customers.
If I look at the first paragraph as a whole, I see that she's building this up, she's setting this up in a particular way and whatever direction she's going to head in next, we're more inclined to follow her, to believe in her and to support her because she's shown us that she has supported us first. She's helped us out, so why can't we help her out? Again, I haven't read the rest of this article yet so these are just the thoughts that are going through my mind as I'm reading this first paragraph - just to give you a little bit of insight into my brain.
In this first paragraph, I can see that she's using a pretty welcoming and warm tone. If you have a look at the photograph that's been placed at the top of this article - and remember that with particular images they're strategically placed, so if it's placed at the start of the article versus at the end, think about how that impacts your perception of the photograph - for me, the first thing I see when I look at this article is the photo and I see a smiling happy owner. As you can see, the first paragraph serves to back up this photograph as well, with what she's talking about in terms of prioritising customers and valuing customers. You can also see products behind her, which look fresh and full and her shelves are full, so in that sense, it furthers this impression of the local and grounded nature of the store. It feels homey and this invites that comfort and trust from us.
Then, as we move into our second paragraph, I'm seeing a lot of exclamation marks, which gives me the sense of this upbeat, exciting environment, or even tone you could say. I think she's doing this because she wants us to jump on board with cashless payments as well, and to not see them as something that's a burden for us. She ties the advantages of cashless payments directly to the customer’s experience of the store by frequently repeating personal terms, such as 'you' and 'your' throughout these first couple of paragraphs. By the way, I'm not going to write down all the language analysis, because I think there's just not enough space, but me chatting about it with you is good enough. Let's move onto the next paragraph.
'you won't need to go rummaging through your bags for coins. You won't ever have to worry that you don't have the cash to cover your essential food supplies - your card will ensure that you do'.
Not only is she highlighting the advantage. Here, she's arguing for the advantages of cashless payments by showing you the inconveniences of having cash in phrases like 'you won't need to' and 'you won't ever have to'. I also like the phrase 'rummaging through your bags for coins'. It gives this sense of how cumbersome the nature of physical money is in comparison to cashless payments.
In the next paragraph, she highlights cashless payments with the words 'Simple!' which reiterates her point (from the previous paragraph) about how cumbersome coins can be. She finishes off this paragraph with a 'Welcome to the twenty-first century.', so there's this sense of being forward in her decisions and that we should be as well - because nobody wants to be left behind in history. A lot of us like to think of ourselves as people who are open-minded, open to change and will take up things that are better for us, things that are more convenient for us.
So, she's saying that this is it for twenty-first century, join us over here rather than way back when, when we had to use coins. She also highlights 'mobile phone[s]', 'smart watch', 'smart ring' - many things that a lot of people have and this just compounds that idea of, 'yeah, this is a no brainer' essentially. Why shouldn't you move to cashless payments if you're already immersed in this tech world of having mobile phones, smart watches, smart rings, etc.?
She moves into talking about the wider economic context of Australia in this next paragraph. That sense of time I was talking about, comparing the now - the twenty-first century - with a decade ago, you can see that link right here. It's very obvious now. She creates a strong impression of societal inevitability of this technological change, especially because she cites statistics - '70 per cent of household spending was in cash; now it's half of that.' I can see in the next paragraph that she uses expert opinion as well - the 'Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia'. This all connects to this main phrase that we are in a ‘turning point’ now, that cash will be rapidly phased out until we become a cashless society and we should join her; we should make moves on this otherwise we're going to get left behind.
I like that she's bringing in Australia because it also brings in this additional sense of pride on our behalf. We're Australians, we're proud that we've been one of the biggest users of electronic payments in the world, we're the ones who are making waves, we're the ones who are putting our feet forward first. So, you could talk about appeal to patriotism here as well. It's interesting because here she says that she's a leader, or
'We've always tried to be a leader in our community and respond to our customer's needs.'
What do you think when you think of a leader? Typically for me, I admire leaders. They're somebody I look up to and I want to follow in their footsteps essentially. So by positioning herself as a leader, I think that's pretty interesting because she's telling us, ‘Hey, I've done all this thinking, I have initiative, I am forward-thinking, so come with me, join with me on this cashless payments movement.’
'you'll breeze through a check-out'
I like the word 'breeze through', or just 'breeze' because it connects again, back to this idea of convenience with a faster shopping experience, and it is juxtaposed against that cumbersomeness of 'rummaging through...bags for coins'. Something to think about is: as you analyse an article, you don't just have to analyse it chronologically or talk about it chronologically in your essay either. If you see things that connect later on, connect them in your essay and put them together, because what you're showing your examiner is that you can see not just the minor details - i.e. language techniques in each sentence - but you can actually zoom out and see the overall picture, how the arguments are coming together and how she's structuring her piece so that we walk away with a certain perspective. Think about that in a two-step method. There's the zoom in where we're looking at sentence by sentence and what techniques are there, which is basically what we've been doing, but at the same time, you can zoom out and have a look at how the different techniques all come together and work as a whole. If this is something that you're not too comfortable with just yet, just stick with the chronological order and working through the sort of minor details. And then on your next read, you can read through with the focus of, 'okay, what if I was to look at this from a more holistic perspective?'
Ahh! I didn't even look ahead enough, there are more words and more phrases that connect to the idea of convenience and ease. It’s 'faster', ‘will save you time', 'safer' as well?! There's a new appeal. It's not necessarily new, it's just a different angle you could come from. If you wanted to talk about the sense of security, that appeal to safety, then you could do that as well.
'it means not having to spend hours sorting, storing and securing cash'
So, more cumbersome notions. And then in comparison,
'more time', 'We understand the concerns a minority of our customers may have.'
I love when they do this, acknowledging the opposition essentially is what she's doing. She's saying, ‘yup, like, I can hear you, not all customers want this. Some of you don't.’ And my assumption is that she's going to back it up with her own rebuttal. This not only pulls along the people who are already supportive of her, but she's also trying to pull along those who are a little bit more sceptical of this idea of cashless payments. So let's see, she says,
'What if you prefer cash, don't feel comfortable using credit or debit cards, or don't have a mobile phone or smart watch? We don't want to leave anyone out. For the next three months we will offer cashless payments, but still accept cash to people to give people time to adjust.'
It's interesting because she is again, building up this position of hers, where she is friendly, she is helpful, she is thoughtful and she cares about her community. Something you could also say, and this is if you're looking at things more pessimistically, is that she's doing this more so for herself. By saying that these people have three months, there's this unspoken pressure that's happening as well. She's putting pressure on the minority and emphasising the supposed inevitability of a cash-free shopping experience. Even by just saying 'minority' that's in a way applying pressure as well, because it's saying that you are part of this smaller group, the smaller group of people who won't come with us or have not yet come with us, so join us. There's a very clear expectation that these customers need to adapt and catch up.
Want to see these ideas and annotations turned into a full A+ essay?
If you want more, I have also got a fully written up 2019 essay based on the articles that we're analysing today in my How To Write A Killer Language Analysis study guide. In that study guide, not only do I have the essay for 2019, I also have afully written up essay for the 2017 & 2020 VCAA English Exams, and we're always working on adding ones from future years as well. Plus, there's heaps of sample A-plus essays in there already and heaps of information that I think will be super helpful for you before you move into your SAC. So please, go ahead and check that out! It's loaded with value and I know it'll be worth your money.
Are you a slow writer who struggles to write down all of the information that you hear in the listening audio clip? Have you ever been in a situation where the next sentence in the audio comes up way before you finish writing down information from the previous sentence? If yes, then this blog is for you!
You want to write down as much useful information as possible in a short period of time during your VCE EAL exam, so it is very useful to implement a system of techniques that works well for you personally. Here are some ideas and suggestions that you may want to use to increase the speed of your note-taking.
1. Use Different Coloured Pens or Keys for Different Speakers
Under the stress of exams/SACs, you might lose track of which speaker is talking. This is likely to happen if the speakers are of the same sex or they sound similar to each other (from personal experience, I had a listening task with 3 female speakers!) A simple way to remind yourself of who is speaking is to take side notes with different coloured pens and/or symbols for different speakers.
If in the audio: Lisa says, ‘The weather is lovely’ and Cici replies ‘Let’s go for a run’. We can write side notes using L (for Lisa) and C for Cici, which may look like:
L ‘weather is lovely’
C 'Let's go for a run’
Or, you could use a red pen for Lisa and blue pen for Cici.
2. Use Signs & Symbols to Replace Words
Using symbols is an efficient way to increase the speed of writing and ultimately increase the amount of information that you can record. Here are some examples of symbols I have used in the past and the meanings I gave them.
→ Leading to/Stimulate/Result in
∴ Therefore OR Consequently
> Greater than/More than
< Less than/Fewer than
~ Approximately OR Around OR Similar to OR Not Equal OR Not the same as
c/b Could be
Use abbreviations that work for you. There is no right or wrong here as the ‘blank space for scribbles’ will not be marked. Abbreviations can take the form of short notes or letters...you get to be creative here!
You can also choose to keep only the essential vowels and consonants in words. Or, leave out the double consonants and silent letters. The following list contains some abbreviations for common words or phases:
Answer = answ
About = abt
Morning = am
Afternoon = pm
As soon as possible = asap
Before = bef/b4
Between = bt
Because = bc
Common = com
Condition = cond
Diagnosis = diag
Regular = reg
You = u
Notes = nts
To = t
Take = tk
Very = v
With respect to = wrt
With = w/
Will be = w/b
Within = w/i
Without = w/o
Here are some examples of how you might use abbreviations and symbols:
‘You should remember to take notes in classes’
Can be abbreviated as:
‘U shld rmbr t tk nts in cls’
‘Gidon has a rare blood condition which means he visits the hospital quite regularly. Since his diagnosis, Gidon’s family paid more than ten thousand dollars just to visit the hospital. Gidon initiated a petition that advocates for lowering the fees for parking in hospitals and putting a limit on how much the hospital can charge.’
Can be abbreviated as:
G has rare blood condi → he visits hosp. v. reg.
I've used G as an abbreviation for Gidon, and the arrow here represents that the stuff on the left side of the arrow (i.e. his rare blood condition), led to the events on the right side of the arrow (i.e. regular hospital visits).
Since his diag. → G’s fam paid >$10K to visit hosp.
Here I’ve also used the arrow, indicating that the stuff on the left side of the arrow (i.e. his diagnosis), led to the events on the right side of the arrow (i.e. Gidon's family paid more than 10 thousand dollars). I’ve also used >$10K to indicate that the amount Gidon’s family paid is more than 10 thousand dollars.
G → petition → advocates for ↓ $ parking & limit how much hosp. can charge
Using my symbols and abbreviations above, it’s your turn to work out how I’ve abbreviated this ;)
I hope these tips and tricks will assist you with note taking during the EAL listening SACs and exam. If you would like more practice on the listening section, check out the following blogs!
The Crucible and Year of Wonders are studied as part of VCE English's Comparative. For one of most popular posts on Comparative (also known as Reading and Comparing), check out our Ultimate Guide to VCE Comparative.
The events of The Crucible begin with a group of young girls from Salem being discovered dancing and playing at witchcraft with Tituba, the slave of the town’s religious leader Reverend Parris. When his daughter Betty falls ill as a result, they and others seek to deflect blame away from themselves and simultaneously exact revenge against those they feel have wronged them. To do this, they are led by Parris’ niece Abigail Williams to begin a spree of accusations of witchcraft which result in the hangings of many of the other townspeople, including John Proctor, with whom Abigail once had an affair. For a full detailed guide on The Crucible as a solo text, head over to our The Crucible Study Guide.
Plague strikes a small, isolated Derbyshire village called Eyam in 1666 when it is brought there by a tailor carrying a bolt of infected cloth from London. The village’s population is decimated as a result, and in the resulting Year of Wonders shows her burgeoning strength as a healer and ultimately her escape at the conclusion of the novel to a new life.
3. Character analysis
Year of Wonders
4. Sample paragraphs
Prompt: How do The Crucible and Year of Wonders explore the role of Christianity in their respective communities?
In both The Crucible and Year of Wonders, the Christian faith is a central tenet of the lives of all characters, as both texts tell the story of strongly religious communities. It also acts as a strong driver of the conflict which occurs in both cases, but in quite distinct ways, and propels the action and development of many characters.
While it is not the root of the troubles that develop throughout the courses of the texts, religion and the need to adhere to a belief system are central to their propagation and ultimate resolution. In Year of Wonders, the cause of the plague is as simple as the arrival of a disease carrier in Eyam, but is framed as a ‘trial’ sent by God for the villagers to face. Likewise the scourge of accusations of witchcraft that befalls Salem is simply a result of people straying outside the bounds of good behaviour dictated by their community, but is instead seen as an outbreak of witchcraft and consorting with Satan. As such religion becomes the lens through which both crises are viewed, and is used to try to explain and resolve them. Before the advent of more modern scientific practices, one of the only ways that inexplicable events such as outbreaks of infectious disease or mass hysteria could be understood and tamed was to paint them as either benign or malignant spiritual acts. This allowed people to lay the blame not at their own doors, but at that of something beyond them; for the people of Eyam, something which in truth was a chance epidemiologic event could be seen as ‘an opportunity that He offers to very few upon this Earth’. Because in both Eyam and Salem faith was already a familiar, stalwart part of everyday life, framing their respective disasters as acts of God or the Devil took away some of their fear, as they chose to see a terrible thing as part of something they had known since infancy.
Religion is far more than part of the everyday life and prayer of the common people of Year of Wonders and The Crucible; it is the foundation of their moral code and their way of explaining events which are frightening and make no sense. It also acts as a driving force within individuals as well as communities, deciding one way or another their actions and ultimately their characters.
Both texts are rich narratives on their own, but they are also strongly grounded in historical events that you may not have studied in great depth and which significantly influence the plot and characters’ actions – this is especially relevant when discussing the religion portrayed in the texts. You may miss many of the authors’ intended messages if you’re not aware of the full context of the books. Here are some ideas in this area that you might want to research:
The Crucible also has a very interesting place in modern history as Arthur Miller’s comment on the rampant McCarthyism of 1950s America. Do some research on Miller’s life and views (the introduction or foreword of your novel might have some useful hints).
Also note that The Crucible is a play whereas Year of Wonders is a novel; how does each format uphold or reveal the author’s thoughts and ideas? How does the format of the text affect its other features (narrative, characters, voice etc.)?
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.
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!