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Brendan Kennelly for Leaving Cert English: Begin

"Begin" by Brendan KennellyYou may also like: 2019 Guide to Leaving Cert English. Full notes on Brendan Kennelly will be made available to everyone who has the 2019 guide, free of charge, as soon as they are ready.

Summary: a philosophical reflection on starting something new again and again communicated through the description of a morning walk across the Grand Canal in Dublin.

Style features:
anaphora (1) (highlighted in bold) adds a sense of determination as does the repetition of the word “begin” throughout the poemenjambment highlights the never ending need to begin again imperative tone, “begin again” is an encouraging command to never give up alliteration e.g. “dying in dark / determination” enhances the imageryreference to familiar places, “Pembroke Road” near the Aviva Stadium in Dublin 4, make the poem more accessibleimagery appeals to multiple senses: “summoning birds”, “sight of the light”, “roar of morning traffic”, “crying birds in the sudden rain”, “branches…

Leaving Cert English Comparative - General Vision and Viewpoint - Wuthering Heights, Hamlet and Rear Window #625Lab

"The general vision and viewpoint is shaped by the reader’s feeling of optimism or pessimism in reading the text.’’

In the light of the above statement, compare the general vision and viewpoint in at least two texts you have studied in your comparative course.

This Leaving Cert student essay is published under our #625Lab section that reviews the strengths and weaknesses of students' essays. Note the comments and corrections: these will help you to avoid common pitfalls.

If you are looking for model H1 essays on General Vision and Viewpoint, here you go:


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The texts that I’ve studied for my Leaving Certificate comparative course are "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare, "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte and "Rear Window" by Alfred Hitchcock. (A little bit dull as an opening sentence, but at least it's clear and free of mistakes.) The general vision and viewpoint of a text is the overall impression of the reader’s emotions. (The questions arises: whose impression? Don't let the examiner think you're confused as to what general vision and viewpoint  is. Here is a refresher: “The term, The General Vision and Viewpoint, may be understood by candidates to mean the broad outlook of the authors of the texts and/or of the texts themselves as interpreted and understood by the reader.”) In this answer I’ll discuss how the central character’s outlook, the portrayal of women and the resolution of "Hamlet", "Rear Window" and "Wuthering Heights", all shaped my emotional response to the text, whether it be optimistic or pessimistic. (This is an excellent sentence as it explains to the reader of this essay what it is going to be about. Structure and clarity are key.)

The three protagonists vary in their outlooks on life, with Jeff being the most optimistic of the three, and Heathcliff the most pessimistic. In "Wuthering Heights", Heathcliff is portrayed as a pessimistic character. He is bitter and driven by revenge. Heathcliff’s upbringing influenced his personality. He belonged to a lower class and was treated accordingly. Heathcliff suffered injustice as a child and it can be seen on this vindictive character. He was treated disrespectfully and inhumanly by the people around him, including Catherine, whom he falls passionately in love with. This brutal treatment took its toll on Heathcliff and turned him into the villain depicted in this novel. A key moment that shows Heathcliff’s sinful nature is when he kidnaps Cathy and Nelly and brings them to Wuthering Heights to marry Linton. "Papa wants us to get married"… "and he knows your papa wouldn’t let us marry now and he’s afraid of my dying, so we are to be married in the morning". Heathcliff selfishly forces Cathy to be with Linton, so that he can take over Thrush cross Grange. Although I understand that this is wrong and I feel disgust when reading about his questionable actions, I think that Heathcliff is misunderstood. I sympathise with him and believe that he has love to give, we can see this though his total infatuation with Catherine. He has optimism in his heart and I feel pity when reading the text. Heathcliff’s character outlines how toxic social status can be for someone’s emotions and morals. (It's better to always compare texts rather than have entire paragraphs on a particular text. The author addressed the question here, to be fair, but the marks are going for comparison - of which there are none so far).


Comparative - General Vision and Viewpoint - Wuthering Heights, Hamlet and Rear Window



In stark contrast to this, Jeff in "Rear Window" has a predominately positive outlook on life. (That's more like it!) Despite his repressed surroundings that would cause most people to feel depressed, Jeff uses his imagination to entertain himself. Unlike Heathcliff, Jeff makes the best of a bad situation. (Another comparison - that's what we need!) He uses the snippets of his neighbours' lives that he can see from his rear window to formulate a story which turns out to be true. Jeff has a strong, optimistic opinion of himself, he believes in his suspicions without any back-up evidence: "You didn’t see a killing or a body, how do you know there was a murder?". Jeff involves himself in the excitement as much as possible in his crippled state. He brings a light-hearted and humorous atmosphere to the play darkened by murder. It makes me feel like he has an adventurous lifestyle, and it inspired a number of emotions such as interest and fascination for me. (A nice way to address the question.) Jeff refuses to change himself, while Heathcliff will go to the ends of the earth to win Catherine’s love and attention. Jeff’s perception of Himself is much more respectful and makes his character easier to like than Heathcliff. Jeff’s character is uplifting and left me feeling cheerful. (You've figured out at this stage that the bits in red are a comparison-deprived wasteland that won't really get the author many marks even though her argument is reasonable. The bits in green are what we want to see. You don't have to be talking about two texts in literally every sentence, but definitely avoid long stretches without a single comparison.)

How the role of women was depicted in all three texts affected my feeling of optimism or pessimism, since I am a girl. (The opening sentence of the paragraph clearly signals what it's going to be about: that's always a relief. It also directly addresses the question, which is excellent. However, there is not even an attempt at a transition between paragraphs, so the author missed out on some Coherence of Delivery marks!) The portrayal of women by Shakespeare in the play Hamlet provoked negative emotions in me in response to this text. Shakespeare portrayed women as unworthy, passive and deserving to be ignored a lot of the time. Their voices were simply never heard. Gertrude and Ophelia are the two main characters in the play. (The author is trying to identify the women of the story, but her statement is so redundant, it's too close to retelling the story. Retelling the story is a real no-no.) The men use them for manipulation purposes and completely disregard their human dignity. They are characterised as frail and innocent with little or no sense. A key moment in the text that shows a negative depiction of women is when Claudius completely objectifies his wife when his says "my crown, mine own ambition, my queen." In this list, his wife Gertrude doesn’t even feature at the top and shows Claudius’ priorities in life. To him, she is just another object. Feelings of anger and disgust towards the men in the play surfaced in me. Reading about the women as weak-minded individuals aroused a sense of commiseration and frustration. Women have suffered at the hands of men for so long throughout history, a view and opinion seen as normal for both sexes. (A bit of personal opinion makes the essay come alive, but this last sentence makes the reader of the essay feel like this is descending into a rant. Less politics, more comparison please.) Reading Hamlet highlighted these issues to me. This pessimistic view on women polluted me with anger and disgust.

In contrast to "Hamlet", "Rear Window" has a predominately positive view on women. Lisa, one of the main characters in "Rear Window", is a very assertive and independent figure. The character of Lisa seems to be crossing a gender barrier because of Lisa, as a woman who is glamorous and stunning, is also successful and demanding. These are characteristics normally seen in devious women. We can see this contrast of women characters when Mr. Thronwald assaults him (whom?) in his own apartment, and it is Lisa who comes with the police to rescue him after seeing the flashes from the camera. Unlike in "Hamlet", the portrayal of women shown in "Rear Window" shows a movement towards women as being independent characters, which left me feeling both optimistic and hopeful about the role of women during the 1950’s when "Rear Window" was produced. (Very well done - both addresses the question very directly and compares two texts.)



Comparative - General Vision and Viewpoint - Wuthering Heights, Hamlet and Rear Window



The most powerful aspect of each text in the context of optimism/pessimism was a resolution of the plot. (Nice and clear into sentence, but again, no transition.) The ending of a text is vital to how the general vision and viewpoint is perceived by the reader in terms of optimism or pessimism. (What is this sentence adding that the previous one hasn't already communicated? Avoid repeating yourself. This is a surprisingly common error.) Bizarrely, of the three texts, the one that contains the most pessimism throughout ends on a hopeful note, "Wuthering Heights". The novel ends with Lockwood returning to Wuthering Heights where Heathcliff has been buried beside Catherine. It is implied that Heathcliff and Catherine will haunt their beloved moors together as ghosts. This is quite a creepy prospect, yet it is a satisfactory resolution for sympathisers of Heathcliff like myself. (A touch of (relevant) humour is always good.) The complicated property and inheritance dilemma is resolved and everyone is happy. Cathy and Hareton are engaged after Cathy gradually broke down Hareton’s resistance by offering to teach him to read. The engagement of Cathy and Hareton is a positive development.

"Hamlet" resembles "Wuthering Heights" in that there are grounds for optimism in the resolution in spite of all that has happened. Due to "Hamlet’s" status as a tragedy, I was expecting a pessimistic ending. The resolution involves the death of all characters, including Hamlet. (While the author isn't actually retelling the story, it's terribly close to it! It's a matter of phrasing it correctly.) Just like in "Wuthering Heights", the deaths bring a dark and negative conclusion yet there is an air of optimism in each resolution. Hamlet suffered and questioned himself for the entire duration of the play, and in the end we see that he has learned something. He finally gets to avenge his father’s death, although it causes too much collateral damage and ends in Hamlet's own death: "for he was likely had he been put on to have proved most royal’’. Here, Fortinbras speaks of the late Hamlet in the most positive light. Hamlet was a good person at heart with genuine friendships, yet his revenge got the better of him. Unfortunately, he died before he fulfilled his potential as a king. This made me feel remorseful and I felt utterly sympathetic for poor Hamlet as I realised the cruelty of life. The ending of "Hamlet" stirred questions of deep philosophical meaning and life or death. I hope to continue to consider these thoughts and develop my emotional response to them long after my Leaving Certificate examinations. (Ah, stahp. You don't want to sound like an overzealous sales person.)

Equally, "Rear Window" ends on an upbeat positive note when danger is averted and Jeff and Lisa achieve heroic status.


A concluding paragraph would be nice too!

Leaving Cert English papers are marked using "PCLM"

Clarity of Purpose:

- The message is clear: the author agrees with the statement and gives 3 reasons for it (main characters, role of women and resolution). This is largely accomplished by opening each paragraph with a simply stated idea. She mostly backed up her points with reference to the text. And where there was a little bit of conjecture, she added in that it was her response, which is completely ok in small doses, except she goes on a rant about the role of women.
- What about purpose? She answered the question in a way that's super-relevant to the quesiton... except she didn't compare properly. She just answered it as if it were on three separate texts. That's a no-no.

Coherence of Delivery

- She is consistent and engaged, not always overly logical and there are no transitions between paragraphs.
- There is no conclusion, that's bad.

Efficiency of Language

- The author sometimes used overly complicated sentence structures. For most people, it would be good to remember that less is more when it comes to sentence structure. Keep it simple and clean. You don't need three clauses attached to one main idea. Just move on to a new sentence.

Accuracy of Mechanics

It's all been tidied up here, but remember that this counts for 10%!

Here is some interesting analysis of Rear Window!


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