Leaving Cert Comparative Study - Theme or Issue - Othello, A Doll's House and The King's Speech #625Lab

“Some texts leave readers with a largely idealistic impression of a theme or issue, while others leave readers with a more realistic or believable impression of the same theme or issue.”

With reference to the above statement, compare the impressions of the same theme or issue you formed when studying three texts on your comparative course. Support your answer by reference to the texts.

This is an from a Leaving Cert student. It's published under our #625Lab section that reviews the strengths and weaknesses of students' essays. You may also like: Complete Guide to Leaving Cert English (€)

For my Comparative I studied "Othello" by William Shakespeare, "A Doll's House" by Henrik Ibsen and "The King's Speech" directed by Tom Hooper. A recurring theme I found throughout all three texts was that of relationships. Personally, I found that through studying the vast range of both positive and negative relationships on offer that they influenced heavily on the outcome. I found that the vast range of positive and negative relationships explored in the texts had a significant influence on the resolution of each text. For example, the positive relationship between Lionel and Bertie ultimately paves the way for a positive outcome. However, in the case of "Othello" and "A Doll’s House" where negative relationships were most prominent, the outcome is consequently negative. From watching "The King's Speech" I was filled with hope and optimism that all encounters in life, whether good or bad, happen for a reason and ultimately are a stepping stone on the path towards the greater good. After all, if it wasn’t for Bertie’s family’s harsh criticism towards him, he would of have never sought the help he needed and therefore never of have met Lionel and become the successful king that he was. (It's never would of, it's only ever would have.) However, from studying "A Doll’s House" and "Othello", I was awoken to the reality that this was not the case. I soon realised that not everything happens for a reason.

Leaving Cert Comparative Study - Theme or Issue - Othello, A Doll's House and The King's Speech #625Lab
Angelina Ryle as Desdemona and Marcus Bale as Othello in Cyclone Rep's "The Othello Session". (Photo by Joleen Cronin)

From studying "The King's Speech" it is clear that the relationship between Lionel and the protagonist, Bertie is a positive one. (If you are going to say that Bertie is the protagonist, say it the first time you mention him. Otherwise, you are going back to a less detailed of analysis further in the essay - which doesn't really make sense.) Throughout the film, Lionel supports Bertie and even when it appears the Bertie has cut all ties with his former speech therapist, Lionel is still there in the background ready to step in and help the king whenever he needs him. Lionel provides the framework for Bertie to overcome his speech impediment. This creates a ‘feel-good’ factor within the viewer and you are left feeling inspired by this powerful yet unexpected friendship that has blossomed between the two characters. (At first the author was speaking in the first person, (I). Now she introduced all three - that's quite messy. It's better to either talk in the third person (viewer) rather than the third (viewer) and the second (you).) However in "A Dolls House", we can see that their relationship is not positive and is in fact an oppressive one. Torvald is clearly the man of the house, and his dominating and oppressive nature eventually leads to Nora leaving her home and her family: ‘I have been preforming tricks for you, Torvald. That’s how I’ve survived. You wanted it like that. You and Papa have done me a great wrong. It’s because of you I’ve made nothing of my life.’

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This quote quotation shows us how they have a destructive effect on each other. Nora is evidently an independent woman and is being smothered by Torvald's protective and domineering nature. This situation is much the same in "Othello". While it appears that Desdemona and Othello love each other, Othello’s jealous and untrusting nature is abundantly clear throughout the play and eventually leads to the demise of not only their marriage, but also the death of both characters. From studying both "Othello" and "A Dolls House" it is clear that there are predominantly negative relationships in these texts. (Repetition. This essay is too long - in part due to needless repetition.) Personally from watching both plays I was left feeling dejected at the thought that both marriages in these texts did not create a positive influence on the partner but in fact the opposite. They awoke me to the reality that ‘Happily ever after’ is not always forever. (Great and subtle way to address the question about idealistic vs realistic impression.)

Initially in "A Dolls House", Nora and Torvald's relationship appears to be healthy. Torvald has just received a promotion, and their relationship appears to be optimistic and almost ‘too good to be true’. Together they paint a picture of a successful and happy couple, which is exactly what I imagined a young married couple to be. They reinforced this image in my mind. However in "Othello", we are met with confrontation from the outset. While their marriage has only just begun it has already caused a lot of controversy with their friends and family. The opening scene in "Othello" is an argument about their sudden marriage. I was left feeling bemused, as the image I had created in my mind of a successful and happily married couple was being distorted by the reality the not every relationship is surrounded by a supportive network as Nora and Torvald appeared to have in the opening scenes of "A Dolls House". (Excellent!) Just as in "Othello", the opening scenes in "The King's Speech" are problematic: the relationship between Lionel and Bertie is not as welcoming and constructive as it becomes. Bertie is hostile and uncooperative towards Lionel. While watching the beginning of "The King's Speech" and "Othello", I was filled with uncertainty as to what the outcome of the films would be. (The author casually moved on to discussing the opening scenes. This should be in a separate paragraph.) From witnessing Bertie and Lionel’s initial encounter I was filled with hope and optimism that the unlikely hero, Lionel, will aid Bertie in overcoming his speech impediment. However I was not filled with this hope while watching Othello, from Iago’s soliloquy at the end of Act 1 it was obvious that something much more sinister than a speech impediment was on the horizon for the newly married couple. This reinforced the reality that the image in my mind of a happy and problem free relationship that I associated with married life is not always a reality. (Repetition.)

From watching "The King's Speech", we are struck by Queen Elizabeth’s unconditional love towards her husband Bertie.  After all it was her who discovered and arranged the initial meeting with Lionel. Her support towards her husband even when no solution appears possible is unquestionable. Seeing Elizabeth crying tears of joy in the final scene after Bertie had successfully delivered his speech was heart-warming. She said: ‘I intend to be a very great Queen to a very great king.’ This quote highlights Elizabeth’s sheer determination to aid her husband in overcoming his speech impediment. Her unwavering determination to help her husband is ultimately the reason why he overcame his speech impediment. (That's quite debatable, so this is a good place to insert "in my opinion".) Elizabeth reinforced my belief that ‘Love conquers all’. However, in stark contrast to this is "Othello". While Othello and Desdemona do love each other, their sudden marriage acts as the perfect catalyst for Iago, who uses this as fuel to ignite his revenge. Ultimately, their love is corrupted by Iago’s cunning lies. Iago is the catalyst that eventually leads to the demise of their love. He successfully plants the seed of doubt in Othello’s mind and nurtures his growing jealously throughout the play. to come up with a cunning plan that would eventually lead to the demise of their love. (There are numerous passages in this essay where you could say the same thing in one line.) Unfortunately for them, their love did not persevere but instead ended tragically. (The author already mentioned the demise of their love. Why mention it again?) The ending to Othello made me question whether love truly conquers all. We see this situation mirrored in "A Dolls House". The initially positive and homely vibe that is emitted from their marriage is quickly stripped and replaced with an oppressive and constricting atmosphere. Torvald considers Nora as more of a requirement than a wife. While Torvald believes that he is shielding his wife from any hardships, he is ultimately smothering her. The great risk that Nora took in order to save her husband highlights the love that they once had for each other; however it was Torvald's reaction to this that ultimately led to her departure. (This should be condensed. Long, deep passages like this are tempting, but they don't add to Comparative essays. Focus instead on comparing.) While on the one hand I was inspired by Nora’s actions in order to assert her independence, I was also left feeling dejected at the fact that the love that they once had for each other was not enough to convince Nora to stay. For this reason from studying "Othello" and "A Dolls House" I became aware that love does not conquer all.

In "The King's Speech", we can see how Bertie’s trust in Lionel eventually leads to him overcoming his speech impediment; it is through this trust that enables Lionel to help Bertie in breaking down the barriers imposed by his speech impediment. We can see how Bertie’s trust in the right person had a positive outcome for him; this offers a stark contrast to "Othello". In "Othello", it is abundantly obvious to the audience throughout the play as to what Iago’s true motive is. He gains Othello’s trust and through this trust he completes his master plan. Othello’s newfound trust in Iago results in him loosing trust in his loving wife. The demise of their relationship stems from the lack of trust that Othello has towards his wife. Othello’s raging jealousy stemmed from Iago’s web of lies and eventually leads to him killing his wife. (Repetition.) This play offers us an excellent insight into how trusting the wrong person can eventually lead to betrayal and deceit. Similarly, a lack of trust in someone can also have dire consequences as can be seen in "A Dolls House". Throughout the play it is obvious that Torvald lacks trust towards his wife Nora. An excellent example of this is when he continuously questions her as to whether or not she purchased macaroons. Nora clearly doesn’t trust he husband to accept her for who she is and for what she has done, and so there is a great deal of secrecy and dishonesty in their relationship. Their lack of trust in each other eventually leads to Nora deciding to trust in herself and leave her family and home behind in search of who she truly is. (This is the best paragraph in the essay. Why? 1. It's clear what it is about (the importance of trust in relationships. 2. The author talks about all three texts and compares them. She doesn't go on about any single texts for too long. 3. Could it be made better? Yes, with a little throwback to the question as the last sentence, e.g. "The examination of trust in all three texts underlines its importance in realistic relationships.")

Overall it can be said that the outcome of all the texts is influenced by the presence of positive or negative relationships. This can be seen through the relationship of Lionel and Bertie in "The King's Speech", Lionel provides the ingredients that ultimately allow Bertie to overcome his speech impediment. However, in the case of "Othello" and "A Doll’s House", where negative relationships were most prominent, the results are their effect is undeniable. While Nora succeeded in escaping her oppressor, she does so at a great personal sacrifice cost. Whereas in "Othello", their negative relationship and lack of trust ultimately leads to Othello killing his beloved wife. From watching "The King's Speech" I was left feeling hopeful and optimistic that all interactions between people whether good or bad would make a positive impact on others in some way, after all if it wasn’t for the harsh criticisms of Bertie’s family he would never have sought help. (Repetition.) However from watching "A Doll’s House" and "Othello", I was awoken to the reality that this was not the case. Within a few minutes of watching "Othello", my bubble of positivity had been burst. I soon realised that not everything happens for a reason and sometimes negative relationships like that of Othello and Iago, outweigh the good. (This conclusion is a bit too detailed. It's better to talk about the general things that distinguish idealistic and realistic relationships, the key ingredients of the three texts that nourished or poisoned the relationships, etc.)

Leaving Cert English essays are marked using "PCLM"

Clarity of Purpose:

- The message isn't all that clear. Apart from the paragraph about trust, it's not clear what main point the paragraph is making. Sometimes it's two, sometimes it's half a point. The author doesn't list her main points in the intro nor does she explain them at the beginning of each respective paragraph. She always backed up her points with reference to the text. 
- What about purpose? She definitely tried to answer the question, but it feels like a virtually structureless selection points comparing the texts. The author definitely has the knowledge, but she didn't organise her thoughts clearly enough.

Coherence of Delivery

- The ideas aren't presented in a consistent manner. There is reasonable continuity. 

Efficiency of Language Use

- It's messy in parts as seen above. There is some logic - and I am sure the author is a bright and knowledgeable individual. However, she didn't organise her work clearly enough and this could sabotage her in the exam.

Accuracy of Mechanics

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

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