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Literary Genre in The Great Gatsby, All My Sons and I'm Not Scared for Leaving Cert Comparative #625Lab

"Authors can use various techniques to make settings real and engaging." #625Lab
The author took on the challenging literary genre question - and did so quite well! 
I have studied the novel 'The Great Gatsby' by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the play 'All my Sons' written by Arthur Miller, and the film 'I'm Not Scared' directed by Gabriele Salvatores. From studying these texts, it is obvious that the authors employ many literary and camera techniques to make their works real and engaging.

You may also like: Complete Guide to Leaving Cert English (€)

The tool of narration is very powerful in making a story come to life and it is one that is used well in all three texts. 'The Great Gatsby' has the first-person narrator, Nick Carraway. He is an observer of the world but also a participant in it. We see everything as filtered through his account, and so this gives rise to the question of whether we can trust him or not. The use of a first-person narrat…

Leaving Cert English Comparative - Theme or Issue - Wuthering Heights, The King's Speech, The Plough and The Stars #625Lab

"A readers view of a theme or issue can be either changed or reinforced through interaction with texts". 

Compare the extent to which your understanding of a theme or issue was changed or reinforced through your interaction with at least two texts on your comparative course.

This is a good essay form a current Leaving Cert student. It's published under our #625Lab section that reviews the strengths and weaknesses of students' essay. Note the comments and corrections: these reflect common pitfalls and learning from these mistakes will certainly increase your own grade!

If you are looking for model H1 essays on these texts, here you go:



The main reason this essay was designated for review is that it is way too detailed. The word count is 1885. That's too much. It's going to be very hard to write down much more than 1500 words under Leaving Cert time constraints. The other big thing that's been touched up in this essay is turn of phrase. 

The exploration of relationships, particularly those which are complex in nature adds greatly to our understanding and interpretation of a text. (The author clearly set out that the theme/issue she will discuss in complex relationships. You can't really go wrong with this as a choice for theme/issue.) As part of my comparative course, I have studied the romance between Cathy and Heathcliff  in "Wuthering Heights" by the acclaimed author Emily Bronte, the touching friendship between King George VI and Lionel Logue in the historical drama "The King's Speech" directed by Tom Hooper and the heartbreaking relationship between Nora and Jack Clitheroe within Sean O'Casey's tragic Irish play "The Plough and the Stars". My understanding of complex relationships was reinforced through my interaction with each of these three texts. (Pretty mechanical as an introduction, but that's OK. It's clear and leave the author's options open - and that's very valuable.)

Each of these fictional worlds displays presents us with an intricate introduction to their complex relationships. (Note the clarity of the opening sentence of the paragraph: the author will be comparing introductions. This kind of opening makes life a lot easier for the reader - and that means more marks for the author.) Similar to Bertie and Lionel in "The King's Speech", Cathy and Heathcliff's first encounter in W.H is laden with tension. Both of the protagonist's awkwardness is apparent. This is evidently also seen in "The King's Speech", when the camera cleverly follows Bertie through the narrow hallways to Lionel's meeting room where he places himself nervously on the edge of the sofa. This is in parallel to Heathcliff who quietly stands by Mr. Earnshaw. He is cast as an outsider and described as a "a dirty gypsy brat" Mr. Earnshaw found "on the streets of Liverpool". (Notice how everything is a comparison. The author switches between two texts without lingering on any of them. That's excellent!)

Similarly, Bertie sees Lionel as an outcast. This is clear when Bertie instructs Lionel: "only my friends call me that" when Lionel addresses him as "Bertie". (Not really clear why there is a paragraph break here.) Both Lionel and Heathcliff suffer as a result of their social divides. Cathy retorts to punishing the "imp of satan" by "spitting at the stupid little thing", especially when she discovers that her father lost her riding whip when attending to him. Bertie does not trust Lionel's teaching methods and believes he is unable to cure him. However, unlike Heathcliff, who would "stand Hindley's blow without winking or shedding", Lionel responds "in here it is better if we are equals" and "my castle my rules". (The author uses quite a lot of quotation. Do you have to? In our experience, you can get away with quoting very little in the Comparative section. It is in Poetry and Single Text essays that you have to quote a lot.)

In contast reverse to the other stories texts, "The Plough and the Stars" involves a harmonious bond between Jack and Nora who "seem to get on well together". (Whether it is a film, a novel or a play, you can call it a text.) We first witness Jack singing to his "little red-lipped Nora" and the pair proceed in "billin and cooin". However, mirroring the other two texts, calamity is never too far away as Mrs Gogan subtly makes indifferent comments "the mhystery of a woman is a mhystery no longer". The reference to the "meetin tonight" set the tone for the relationship's demise and it elucidates their opposing value systems that ultimately come to the fore within the other two texts.

My initial view of the theme of complex relationships is essentially gloomy within all three texts, as even what seemed to be content and jovial between Jack and Nora ultimately spiralled into negativity.

Every text portrays a touching scene in which the main character liberates their inner feelings. In both "The Plough and the Stars" and "Wuthering Heights", a romantic relationship is present. Nora clearly loves Jack, as highlighted when a knock comes to the door from Captain Brennan of The Irish Citizen Army: "don't let him in Jack, don't break our happiness". Likewise, through her stream of emotions, Cathy confides in Nelly Dean, informing her of how she is now in love with Heathcliff, "a source of little visible delight but necessary", while also caught up in a romantic entanglement with Edgar Linton. Dramatically declaring "I am Heathcliff", she continues to state that "her love for Edgar is like the foilage in the woods.... time will change it".

I believe that her love for Edgar is similar to Jack's love for Ireland. She admits that by marrying him, she would be elevated to "the greatest woman in the neighbourhood". Jack, whose heroism is merely a facade in my opinion, analogously remarks that his dying for Ireland would be "cleansing and sanctifying". However, Cathy redeems herself, stating that she "would marry Edgar to help Heathcliff rise", whereas Jack foolishly confesses "Ireland is better than a mother, better than a wife". (This is probably the best paragraph in the whole essay. It shows real depth and critical thinking.)

Unfortunately in both texts the leading male characters leave in certain key moments. Heathcliff, whilst eavesdropping, only heard Cathy state "it would degrade me to marry Heathcliff" and left in despair before she announced that her love for him "resembles the eternal rocks beneath". Similarly, a furious Jack, who discovers that Nora burned his letter informing that he was to be made a captain "angrily grabs her by the shoulders", "shakes her violently" and storms off with the Citizen Army while Nora roars after him "Your vanity'll be the ruin of you and me yet".

Similar to Cathy, Bertie tactfully opens up about his past, so that Lionel can discover the probable root of Bertie's speech impediment. I feel perplexed when I discover that Bertie was bullied at a young age by his father: "I was afraid of my father and my children are bloody well going to be afraid of me" and his brother who mocked him when he stammered "B.B..B...Bertie". This is a similar situation to Heathcliff's: he was constantly dehumanised and tantalised by his stepbrother Hindley, "he drove him from their company to the servants". I also discovered that although naturally left-handed, Bertie was forced to write with his right and he was raised by a sadistic nanny, who pinched him if he spoke out in front of his parents. Lionel comforts him: "You don't have to be afraid of the things you were afraid of when you were five".

These key moments reinforced my understanding of my theme of complex relationships. I feel ill at ease with how both Cathy and Heathcliff and Nora and Jack are on the verge of collapsing. However, I am hopeful with "The King's Speech", where Bertie now starts to trust Lionel and they form a more amicable friendship. (If there would be a section I would get rid of to make this essay shorter, it would be this paragraph and the two above. Why? Because it doesn't really deliver anything that the other paragraphs don't already tell us about the relationships.)

Tensions rise in each of my texts as the protagonists face an overwhelming obstacle. A paired event occurs in "Wuthering Heights" and "The Plough and the Stars", Heathcliff and Nora are both challenged in such a way that changes their lives for the worse. Nora has "th' joy of feeling safe in your arms again" when Jack arrives back with his fellow comrades. In contrast, Cathy hopes to "break" Heathcliff's "heart by breaking [her] own". Nora and Heathcliff's respective nightmares comes true. Cathy dies giving birth to a "puny seven month child". Simultaneously, Jack leaves Nora again: "D'ye want me to be unthrue to me comrades". Cathy and Jack leave their lovers in harrowing agony. Jack claims "what are you more than any other woman", while Cathy's absence is unbearable for Heathcliff: "the murdered do haunt their murderers".

Both Nora and Heathcliff respond emotionally, their judgement clouded by their anger. Heathcliff hopes Cathy "may wake in the torments of hell", while Nora declares "I don't care if you never come back". Nora "sinks to the ground and lies there", while Heathcliff, for such a stoic character, "dashed his head against the knotted trunk". To me, it is clear that Nora falls into deep depression and insanity. In contrast, Heathcliff lives for his revenge plan with unwavering ambition. I believe that the love that both Nora and Heathcliff feel is more powerful than the pain of self-destruction.

Likewise in "The King's Speech", pressure builds up at Westminster Abbey when Bertie confronts Lionel about his lack of qualifications, "no training, no diploma", and accuses him of being a fraud and a cheat. Just as he downgrades himself, "mad king George ,the stammer", he turns around to the see the shock and horror of Logue, the commoner, sitting in St. Edward's chair, The Stone of Scone: "I don't care how many royal asses sat here". However, unlike in "Wuthering Heights" and "The Plough and the Stars", this scene of conflict and animosity ends on a high with Bertie claiming "I have a voice" and Lionel confirming that he'll "make a bloody good king".

My view of this theme is again reinforced in "Wuthering Heights" and "The Plough and the Stars" as I am aware of the strain the two couples have gone through, and I feel as though there is no return from this. My view is changed in "The King's Speech" as the promising friendship is a beacon of light in comparison with the other dark, gloomy relationships I have studied. 

The closing scene in each of my texts ultimately highlights my understanding of the theme of complex relationships. The denouements of "The King's Speech" and "The Plough and the Stars" do not correlate diverge. (Denouement is the final part of a play, film, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.) As the plot culminates in "The King's Speech", a highly strung Bertie is about to perform his literal "King's Speech". On the other hand, Nora is struck with insanity, "her eyes have a hauntin way of lookin", she has a "dead-born kiddie" and there is worry "if she'll ever be the same again". As Lionel "probably the first ordinary man" that Bertie "has ever met" reassures him "Bertie you can do this", "say it to me as a friend", Nora has to face the news that "she had a hero for a husband" with the heart-rending discovery of his death. "Tell Nora to be brave... that I am proud to die for Ireland" - Nora is now the epitome of despair.

The settings of both texts include a war is the background. Bertie delivers an exquisite, fluent, persuasive speech. The camera roll includes an series of scenes, and we see a delighted, amazed British audience watch their new king, who will lead them through this hardship. Dis-similarly In contrast in "The Plough and the Stars", war has been destructive as Jack's patriotism and political views dominate Nora's family values domestic and family desires "notions of upperosity" (Keep it simple). As While Nora and Jack's story ended tragically have been divided, in "The King's Speech" the closing credits inform us that Lionel and Bertie remained friends for the rest of their lives., "what are friends for". This beautiful ending proves friendship overcomes adversity: "thank you, my friend", "thank you your majesty". 

As is the case with "The King's Speech" and "Wuthering Heights" share a happy resolution. Both relationships unite are revived in the end. While Bertie and Lionel may be physically together, I believe Cathy and Heathcliff are together in death. They are a metaphysical pair, whose love was deeper than the world could bear, their "souls are the same". There is clearly uniformity at the end when the "unfriended creatures" are gone. It is evident "they would brave satan and all his legions" as they shared a life of pain and suffering due to their class divides, just like to Nora and Jack had opposing value systems. Like with Bertie and Lionel, who evidently stayed friends until the end, I have confirmation that Cathy and Heathcliff's relationship also lasted forever: "there's Heathcliff and a woman over yonder" as their kindred spirits flutter over the moors. (That level of detail and quotation simply isn't necessary in the Comparative. The last sentence restates the main idea of the paragraph and that's all we need.)

As my relationships have fully delineated, Having observed the evolution of the relationships in the three texts, my opinion on this complex theme theme of complexity has wholly changed. With the dark, despairing "The Plough and the Stars", which has been gloomy from start to end, I have a negative outlook and view understanding of relationships. (Don't give the examiner a reason to think you are talking about General Vision and Viewpoint in a Theme or Issue essay.) However, seeing the harmonious development of Cathy and Heathcliff as well as Bertie and Lionel, I have a spark of hope has that differences and difficulties can be overcome.

Based on an essay by Shauna Craig

Leaving Cert English Papers are marked using "PCLM"

Clarity of Purpose

- Shauna's message is very clear. This is largely accomplished by opening each paragraph with a simply stated idea, e.g. "The closing scene in each of my texts ultimately highlights my understanding of the theme of complex relationships." She always backed up her points with reference to the text. And where there was a little bit of conjecture, she added in "in my opinion", which is completely ok in small doses. It shows she actually has an opinion!
- What about purpose? She answered the question in a super-relevant way. I guarantee that every 5 minutes Shauna looked back at the question and was thus prevented from going astray.

Coherence of Delivery

- Shauna followed the texts in an introduction - key moments - conclusion type of structure. It doesn't really matter what the structure is, as long as there is one. There is reasonable continuity in her argument. She is very consistent in how she presents her ideas. She engaged with the texts to the absolute maximum.

Efficiency of Language Use

- A lot of Shauna's phrasing was cleaned up (even on top of what was marked out above). She 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.
- She is nonetheless very logical in her essay. How? The only way to achieve that is to actually be clear in your head as to what you are trying to say.

Accuracy of Mechanics

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


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