Leaving Cert English Descriptive Essay: Night Scene

Write a descriptive essay entitled Night Scene. (2017)


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The cold steel door handle sends a shiver down my spine as I pull it down slowly. (One sentence in the author managed to send a pretty powerful message to the reader: "I am creating a narrative with aesthetic description that appeals to the senses and aims to relate to the reader - and lastly, can I have a H1?" I sure hope so! From this point on, I am reading this essay as if I am watching an ice skater doing impossible tricks, going for the gold medal - and clenching my fists in hopes that they don't slip. A strong opening is one of the best ways to get the examiner on your side.) The dark mahogany door opens with a deep, echoing creak and I feel a trickle of sweat on my forehead. (Suspense and tension = elements of the language of narration.) I slip through, opening the door to a minimal distance and taking care to close it gently behind me. I rub my hands together for warmth as the dark cold night beckons me to start shivering. I inhale and exhale deeply and heavy clouds of mist form as my warm breath meets the cold air. I can taste the coldness in my mouth and I start sweating to warm up. (Well, this last bit doesn't make sense because you only sweat to lose heat - but luckily, this isn't a physiology exam. The rest of this essay is pure description and nothing really happens in it. Few people have the talent of writing so descriptively about something as uneventful as a walk in a forest. The introduction with the door handle, trying to avoid being heard and sweating in suspense sets the scene of a Bond film, so reading about snails and moths for seven paragraphs is a little disheartening. I would rewrite the introduction so that it prepares the reader for the actual body of the essay. Still, this is a brilliant essay.)

Leaving Cert English Descriptive Essay Night Scene

My eyes catch the scattered night-time drops of dew as they are illuminated by the pale light of the moon. They shine, like a million eyes staring back at me from the dark green hue of the hedges. Among the bushes, a spider builds a silken web. Precisely and carefully, the spider leaps from each leaf of the thick hedge, constructing its intricate trap. ("Its" used correctly! More brownie points.) The moon hides behind a patch of greyish, navy clouds. Its light breaks through the wispy clouds, penetrating their dark cover. The sky is freckled with brilliant, glowing stars. Their intensity contrasts against the sombre blue of the night sky, and warmth begins to fill me again as I take in this magnificent sight.

Reaching for my torch, I press my thumb into its switch and it turns on with a click. I start walking, my feet crunching the autumn leaves that lay on the moist ground. The brilliant reds, oranges, yellows and browns I saw this morning have changed into sombre blues and dark greens. (Excellent!) It seems their warmth in colour has succumbed to the chill of the autumn night. (We know, don't spell it out too much.) My flashlight reveals a lone snail making its way across the leaves. It moves without seeming to move at all, taking its time. It leaves behinds a slimy trail of mucus as it goes, which catches the yellow light of my flashlight. I am startled by the sudden loud barking of a dog – my neighbour’s hound. This low growl is then followed by a chorus of other dogs in the suburb, as if in a dog choir. I hear the slow crescendo of an oncoming car. As it gets closer, I hear the crisp traction of its tyres with the black tarmac of the road. It zooms by with a flash of white, blinding light and the splash of a puddle.

I continue walking, basking in the now eerie silence of the suburbs. The thin layers of ice on the pathway crackle under the rubber soles of my shoes. In the distance, a lamppost glows amber. As I approach it, I see a moth fluttering round the light source. It incessantly crashes into the bulb with a faint *dink* each time. A gentle breeze hits me from behind, setting me on my way again. The breeze continues, whistling in my ears and causing nearby trees and bushes to sway idyllically. I think of my childhood, when I thought the dark did not harvest any life. Night-time was a period of nothingness, in which nature went to sleep. I feel glad that I was disillusioned at this age, glad to be able to observe the life and light in the dark of the night.

I point my flashlight on a sign, which reads: ‘Grenwich Forest’. Following the gravelly paths, my shoes make a gritty sound due to the myriad loose pebbles beneath them. The path grows ever mossier as I venture further into the forest. The air changes – it is now damper, but fresher. I take in a deep breath of fresh air, filling my lungs with the natural oxygen of my surroundings. An abrupt hoot beckons my head to look in the direction of a nearby tawny owl. Its intense round eyes seem to me to be almost belligerent, and my grip on the flashlight tightens. As I begin my effort to lurk by this magnificent beast, it takes flight. Its wings stretch into a feathery mass of whites, beige and browns. It flies off into the forest with a dull flapping sound that dies off after a while.

Leaving Cert English Descriptive Essay 2017

I take a gulp of the forest air through my nostrils. I smell the vibrant smell of green plants, of autumnal foliage, of colourful flowers. Looking up, I observe the light of the pale moon as it slithers between the tops of the forest’s trees. It transforms their dull, dark leaves into a majestic glowing green. The path has now faded into fully overgrown moss and dew-dappled grass. My shoes now squelch on the wet ground and with each step, I seem to be sinking deeper into the dirt. The moon has moved higher into the sky now and I knew it would be time to go home soon.

All of a sudden, I see a large illumination of light to my right. Curious, I trod through the overgrowth towards the source to look upon quite a striking sight: this collection of light is actually many little fireflies swarming together. I am awe-struck at their magic quality; how do they manage to capture that light? They flutter around - in their hundreds – leaving a glowing trail of light after them. Each insect is as magnificent as the next, flying in harmony alongside each other in the eerie silence of the night.

I venture back home, with a briskness to my gait. The moon is nearly at the end of its tenure in the sky, and the myriad sounds of cars tells me I need to get home quickly. I glance into the windshield of one woman as she is waiting in the early morning traffic. She has dark rings of fatigue around her eyes open in puffed slits of redness. Yawning, she takes a sip of what I presume is a warm, caffeinated drink. My own fatigue weighs down on me as I feel my muscles struggle to do my bidding. My stride becomes erratic, due to my sudden lethargy and I struggle to keep my eyes open. One deep inhale of the clear dawn air gives me enough fuel to make it to the door of my house. Faced with the same dilemma as before, I open the door at a snail’s pace, anticipating the dull creek, and shut it behind me in a similar fashion. I wipe any evidence of the night into the thick, brown bristles of the doormat. Taking off my tattered shoes, I slink stealthily up the stairs in an effort to avoid detection.

Once in bed, my eyes succumb to weariness and close heavily. I dream of the night life just moments away.

Leaving Cert English Papers are marked using "PCLM"

Clarity of Purpose:

P: Focus
– a descriptive essay, appropriate to the title Night Scene understanding of genre 
– the effective use of some elements of descriptive writing e.g. imagery, use of setting, anecdote, creation of atmosphere, attention to detail, quality of observation, appeal to the senses, etc. originality and freshness, etc. All excellently done.

Coherence of Delivery

C: The extent to which the descriptive writing is successfully sustained and developed effective shaping of the essay sequencing and management of ideas, etc. This isn't quite as strong because the introduction doesn't 100% match the body of the essay.

Efficiency of Language Use

L: Quality and control of descriptive language e.g. style, vocabulary, syntax, punctuation, etc. All excellently done.

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Another essay by the same title. A little bit less impressive because the plot is too vague in places. This author also gets lost in her tenses - a very common mistake. See if you can spot it.

Their sleek silhouettes become a whisper among the trees. The chorus of clicking heels, dashing playfully across the path is all but gone. The cool breath of the trees sends shivers down my spine. Like an isolated penguin in Antarctica I wander aimlessly without the warmth of my pack. The soft embers of street lights attempt to offer some comfort. An array of amber beams, highlight my every step. I strut confidently, skipping over each shaded brick. It reminds me of my early days of hopscotch. I twirl each time I achieve hitting ten steps. Seven… eight …nine… snap!

The diamante heels glimmer ferociously amongst the brown grease laden bags of abandoned food. “What a shame those were my favourite”. A putrid scent invades my nose. My brows furrow in unison with my mouth. Hesitantly, I attempt to inhale after a few moments. Big mistake. I hear the cartilage in my ankles snapping as I skip across the cold stone. The snapping echoes around the alley. A shadow protrudes around my body. There are no scattered dots of light, or comforting beams of orange in this alley. The shadow engulfs the shadow of my own body. With eyelids squeezed so tight, I fear their very contents will burst at any second from sheer pressure. Its dark, yet bright. A black hole filled with speckles of red, fill my mind. Like a stature frozen in time I travel into the abyss of my mind. “Miss?” The cold beads of tears begin to solidify. I am an ice queen. Every inch of my body shivers erratically. A soft, dreamlike warmth brushes past my ankle. 

I breathe. Icy air is welcomed into my lungs. The small creature still purring at my feet looks up curiously at my disorientated disposition. The soothing purring entrances, its beady eyes bare a friendly twinkle,“Hey cutie”. I lower my aching body piece by piece to the floor. “Miss”. The voice is suddenly softer, a voice like a Grandfather or an amical old man. I gingerly search for the stranger’s gaze. A warped face; its wrinkled exterior with every groove of skin representing one of life’s years, like a tree’s rings. I trustingly accept his extended hand. With struggle on both parts I am standing upright once again. We hobble arms entwined to a nearby pub. The purring kitten jumps with each step we make. I never thought one could feel a colour, but my feet certainly felt blue. The colour blue always held negative connotations in my mind, Blue Mondays , hints of blue in a bruise.

The pub appears dormant. Glimmers of light faintly frame the paint chipped door. Its sombre appearance failed to prepare me for its vibrant interior. A heated fog of tobacco enlaces the air. Intoxicated men sit precariously against the bar. The aged hand steers me towards a quaint corner. A blazing, eruption of fire filled my eyes as the man opened the stubborn door of the stove. Heat burned though my flesh. My feet itched with glee as they regained their blush exterior. I sat basking in my haven of sun; until he came back, two glasses in hand. A rich caramel liquid swivelled around the clear glass edge. The substance cascaded down my throat with an enticing burn. The kitten embeds itself in my sequin dress. 

I rub the dried, crusted substance from the corner of my eyes. A purring sound fills the warm, now still air. A stiff, woollen blanket encircled my body. The energetic flames have too fallen asleep. Red, orange embers remain still fighting to keep their flame alive. My toes; well I can now feel my toes which is a relief. I wriggle them in ecstasy, marvelling at the kindly placed socks hiding my feet. “Are you alright love?”, that sweet voice questions compassionately. I nod. I cannot find words to repay this kindness. My larynx seems to have abandoned me, a practically inaudible thank you escapes my lips like a whisper. “No thanks needed. You just take care. A young girl like yourself shouldn’t be wandering those streets at night.” He gently places a scalding cup of tea in my cupped hands. The hot beverage lacked the intrusive nature of the liquid from the night before. It soothed, rather than gushed, it warmed rather than scorched. It was homely. The man openly expressed his concern for the kitten. A burning fire erupted in my heart as I gazed lovingly at the precious creature cradled in my arm.

The door of the truck grudgingly clicks into place behind me. I wave brightly at the kindred spirit of a man who gave me refuge. The street lamps are dull, lifeless, souls. Devoid of any life, they stand as isolated pillars gazing at the streets below. A stream of light peaks through a cloud, freckling the path below in spots of sunshine. I hop up each grey, concrete step. The door opens slightly premature of my touch. An incoherent mass of concern greets my fatigue ridden body. After several agonising moments of reassuring others, I trudged directly to my bed. A pool of light shone down on my enticing bedcovers. I slowly released control of each muscle. I lay exasperated. The sweet purring diluted the pain of my aching feet. Her angelic, minuscule body curls perfectly into my extended arm. We lay as one among the mound of scattered pillows. Joyful drunks dance along the street below my window. The last traces of song dissolve in the air, along with the final whispers of night. A clicking sound begins to erupt from the trees. Birds burst into a vibrant symphony. A glint catches my eye, peeking through the bedcovers. Ten sequins pull my gaze towards them. Their delicate array of silvers twinkle menacingly like the stars of a charcoal night.

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