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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 - Cultural Context - I'm not Scared, Wuthering Heights

“The issue of social class is important in shaping our understanding of the cultural context of a text”

Compare the importance of social class in shaping your understanding of the cultural context of two other texts that you have studied as part of your comparative course. (40)

Bit in green are added in by me to improve the essay, bits in red are highlighted as not being overly useful.

Some comments: 

By and large, it's not a good idea to go on about just one of the three texts for half a paragraph. This author has formidable clarity in terms of what exactly she wants to say and that saves her otherwise risky essay. Most people would have descended into "I-will-write-everything-I-can-remember-about-X" mode many, many times if they used this blueprint, so be careful when structuring your comparative essays.

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In the two texts we have studied we gain a valuable insight into their cultural contexts through key moments. "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte is set in the Yorkshire Moors in the 19th Century. "I'm not Scared" by Gabrielle Salvatore is set in a fictional agricultural town called Aqua Traverse. Although it is set in a fictional town, the story is based on a historical event unlike "Wuthering Heights". Italy had an economic crash following World War I and World War II. This resulted in kidnappings reaching an all-time peak. (This is interesting info, but it lost a lot of it's value because it's not involved in a comparison.) Although these settings are completely different, we do see a lot of comparisons similarities between the two texts as well as contrasts. These settings allow us to clearly see the social divisions in their world which contributes to our understanding of cultural context.

Leaving Cert English Comparative - Cultural Context - I'm not Scared, Wuthering Heights

In both texts we see how the characters are influenced by their social class. In "I'm not Scared" we see a sharp divide between the industrialised and wealthy north and the impoverished and agricultural south. This sharp divide is highlighted in a key moment when a second hand shoe shop comes to the town of Aqua Traverse, and we truly see the extreme poverty in which they live in. This is also seen again when Luisa Carducci appears on a news clip, she is a well-dressed woman compared to Anna who is often in skimpy clothes. Similarly we see a clear division between Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights. This is clear when Catherine comes home from spending a few weeks with the Lintons and she is wearing beautiful garments. She has changed from a wild rebellious young girl to a proper young lady. When she sees Heathcliff she calls him black and dirty which is an extreme contrast to her attitudes towards him before her stay with the Lintons. It highlights how much she has changed during that period of time. With both texts, we see that how characters are dressed and how they act is very important in determining which social class the characters belong to. (This last summarising sentence saves the paragraph. Otherwise, that last bit about Catherine changing would have been completely disorientating.)

In both texts, it is very clear how deeply aware the characters are of wealth and money. In "I'm not Scared" we see the Amitranos living in a very poor town with a low standard of living. We witness Pino’s obsession with money resulting in him detaching himself from his family, involving himself in a kidnapping of a young boy and in the end shooting his own son. Although I believe that Anna and Pino wanted to give their children a better life, their illegal and immoral actions result in the destruction of their own family. When Michele realises that his parents are involved with the kidnapping of a young boy, he starts to lose faith and trust in those around him and decides to help Filippo escape. Michele risks everything to save the young boy. Michele refuses to believe that their poverty excuses these immoral actions. In contrast, in "Wuthering Heights", we see Catherine failing to challenge this aspect of social status, and it’s clear that wealth and poverty is Catherine’s downfall. (Just as we thought that the author spiralled into a single text essay on "I'm not Scared", she salvaged it with a very precise comparison. Well done.) Catherine decided to marry Edgar because “he will be rich and I shall like to be the greatest woman of the neighbourhood”. However, it is obvious that she and Heathcliff are in love. She believes that in marrying Heathcliff it would “degrade her” and “if they were to marry, they would be beggars”. Catherine is very aware of the expectations of her society and this concludes in her marrying Edgar to save her reputation and uphold her social status. However, this was nothing unusual at that time as women were often forced to marry in order to either consolidate or raise their social status. Marriage had nothing to do with love or trust; it was solely used as a means of maintaining social order. (This would have been a good place to remark on how socially acceptable it was for Pino to turn to crime to make a living.)

The role of the outsider plays a significant part in aiding our understanding of social class from seeing their interactions with the other characters. When we are first introduced to Heathcliff, he is called a “gypsy brat” and the fact that his class is unknown and he was found on the streets results in him becoming an outsider. All of the characters in "Wuthering Heights" hate Heathcliff but Earnshaw, who ensures that he is treated equally and is given the same educational opportunities as his other children. However, when Earnshaw passes away, Heathcliff is demoted to the status of a servant in a house full of masters and his education is cut off. In the meantime, we see that Heathcliff refuses to accept his demotion and he leaves for a few years and comes back with a big fortune of money. For revenge of his ill treatment in childhood he degrades others by restricting Hareton’s education and by marrying Isabella in order to torture Cathy and Edgar. Again we see the role of the outsider in "I'm not Scared" with Sergio. Sergio is a cruel character with only one thing on his mind, power. He manipulates all the men in Aqua Traverse to become weak, sadistic and manages to convince them all that their actions are acceptable. We learn through a conversation between Sergio and Michele that Sergio lives in Brazil. He believes that it is much better than Acqua Traverse. He often treats the men like dirt, and he clearly thinks he is better than everyone else. This is portrayed in a key scene when all the men of the town were talking around the kitchen table and Sergio continuingly continuously calls them stupid and does not show any respect for the family he is staying with.

I'm not scared Wuthering Heigths for Leaving Cert

Both texts revolve around a patriarchal system where men were the authority figure and women were seen as passive figures. The time in which both texts are set matters a great deal. In "Wuthering Heights", if we look at the way women are treated, we are horrified. As a woman in the twenty first century, I tend to take my freedom for granted, but, upon witnessing the treatment of women in WH, I was disgusted and I felt such pity for the women who had to endure so much pain and unjust treatment in that time. In "Wuthering Heights", we see that Catherine is very aware of the expectations of her society and as she becomes aware that she cannot rise above the limitations, she uses her femininity and illness to manipulate the people around her. Similarly, in "I'm not Scared", we notice that the women were not included with any of the decision making. The women don’t intervene when it is suggested that Filippo’s ears should be cut off. We see girls as young as Maria adopting a maternal role when she looks after Michele and offers him a tomato for dinner. Likewise we see Nelly adopting the role of a mother when Catherine dies and also when Hindley’s wife dies. Although we see women being portrayed as weak and passive individuals, I believe they are stronger than we give them credit for. In a key moment we see how well Anna is able to handle her sexual attack with Felice. This is also shown when Catherine uses her illness as a sign of femininity and influences the actions of both Heathcliff and Edgar. (Gender is fundamentally different to social class. Unless the author wants to make the argument that being of a certain gender puts you into a certain social class (which is a little unorthodox), I would just leave it out. This is only a part (b) of the question and it's very long anyway, so I would get rid of this whole paragraph. In fact, by asking about social class, the question more or less asks you talk about all aspects of Cultural Context that aren't gender-related. )

Higher Level English Cultural Context - I'm not Scared, Wuthering Heights

In conclusion when reading both texts, we learn that key moments play a crucial part in our understanding of the text. From what I have learned from my study of the cultural context of "Wuthering Heights" and "I’m Not Scared", I was able to see the importance of social class in these societies and how things such as wealth, poverty, the role of the outsider and the role of the women determines the social division of each character.

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