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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…

General Vision and Viewpoint: Big Maggie, Foster, I'm Not Scared for Leaving Cert English

“The general vision and viewpoint of a text can be determined by the success or failure of a central character in his/her efforts to achieve fulfilment” (70 marks)


The author's comparisons and essay structure are great. 

However, she tries too hard to sound sophisticated and loses the run of herself with long sentences.

What is a "marriage relationship"? A round circle. 

"...And subsequently we finally see a glimpse of hope". So is it subsequently or finally?

Take out words that don't add anything, or the examiner will take out marks - that mean a lot.

The General Vision and Viewpoint of a text is the broad outlook of the text in which the author presents to us and the way it is interpreted and understood by the reader. (True, but very messy. You can never afford your opening sentence to be messy. How do we clean this up? 

First of all, you need to understand what General Vision and Viewpoint actually is. 

This is from the marking scheme: the term, General Vision and Viewpoint, may be understood by candidates to mean the broad outlook of the authors of the texts and/or the texts themselves as interpreted and understood by the reader. 

This is written in dry academic language. 

If a Leaving Cert student tries to write like that, it won't be pretty. So how do we put this perplexing definition into more human language? Here it is in green...)

The General Vision and Viewpoint of a text is the author's broad outlook on life. It is also the reader's interpretation of the text's overall perspective. (Two ideas here. They each deserve their own sentence.) The texts I have studied are: ‘Foster’ by Claire Keegan which I found to be overtly positive although it contained elements of continuous pessimism throughout, ‘I’m Not Scared’ directed by Gabriele Salvatores which to me, was both bright and depressing all at the same time and lastly ‘Big Maggie’ where John B. Keane presents us with an unmistakably gloom-ridden viewpoint. In each text the protagonists of the stories could be both victorious and misfortunate by the tasks that lay in their approach to achievement. (A really enigmatic sentence. Try to be clearer.) The diversity of these texts brought me as a reader through a plethora of emotions. Their turbulent stories brought me through a plethora of emotions.

“The general vision and viewpoint of a text can be determined by the success or failure of a central character in his/her efforts to achieve fulfilment” (70 marks)

As the starting point of the journey to fulfilment of the main characters unfolded, my initial thoughts as a reader were that downfall was to follow. In the opening sequence of 'Big Maggie', the funeral scene, Keane shows Maggie Polpin slouching on her husband’s grave smoking a cigarette stating ‘sure isn’t one grave as good as another’. I formed an impression that Maggie will be unsuccessful having everyone defending for her opinions if she was not going to show that she has dignity towards her husband who has passed away. This opening scene is reminiscent of the car journey at the beginning of 'Foster' as pessimistic views seem to get the protagonist no place worthwhile. ‘I see him pulling out what I hope will be a fifty pence piece from his pocket but turns out to be a handkerchief’ This illustrated to me that the girl is drained of hope facing into her new house. She is the only barrier that is holding her back from being part of a family unit even if that unit is not with her biological mother and father. The opening sequence in 'I'm Not Scared' echoes the gloom-ridden portrayals in 'Big Maggie and 'Foster'. The happiness of childhood as Gabriele positions Michele and his friends playing in the lush fields is instantly replaced by the scene of Skull's bullying by Skulls humiliation of Barbara. Michele intervenes to spare Barbara the humiliation, and he is forced to undertake a dangerous task, which potentially could lead to serious injury. All the texts' opening scenes were defeating to me as a reader. However the manner in which Michele approaches the difficult situation in 'I'm Not Scared' is different to the representation in 'Big Maggie and 'Foster'. Michele knew what difficultly he was up towards as he took his actions, unlike Maggie in 'Big Maggie and the girl in 'Foster' where they didn’t predict the malignant consequences of their thoughts and this in turn added to the bleak outlook on life.

All three texts differ in their presentation of family relationships. I could see that harsh emotions were felt during key moments of the texts and this brought either despair or perfection (?!) on the protagonists. Family relationships in 'Foster' are presented in a far more positive light than in 'Big Maggie and 'I'm Not Scared'. The Kinsella’s appear to have an encouraging and uplifting family relationship with the girl as seen when the girl is challenged by Mr Kinsella to run to the letter box to give her strength ‘we’ll try again tomorrow and see if we can improve your time’. I believe that this support assisted helped the girl to become part of their family unit, which was her goal. This reminded me of the scene in 'I'm Not Scared' where Pino challenged his son to an arm wrestle to ensure that he would turn out to be a strong man. However this took a negative turn when Pino discovers Michele has unfolded shared his secret that he has kidnapped a child, ‘Listen carefully, if you go back there again I'll beat you silly’. This is a burdensome threat to Michele as his failure to live up to his father’s expectations means that he will have to let go of his faithful friendship with Filippo. 'Big Maggie mirrors 'I'm Not Scared' in that Maggie in domineering over her children like Pino in 'I'm Not Scared'. She demands that Katie marries a man whom she doesn’t love and this leads to her unfulfilling failing in her role as a supportive mother, ‘You’ll marry him and you’ll marry him within the next three months’. Although Maggie appeared controlling, I felt despair as Maggie never had a chance to form a trusting relationship with her husband. Her inadequacy failure to form this relationship obviously had a knock on effect to her other distrustful relationships. 'Big Maggie' unlike elements of 'I'm Not Scared' and 'Foster' enforced cast a depressing viewpoint throughout the text. (Use the words from the question. If there are at least three lines separating the repeated words, it won't look like the unintentional repetition of someone with poor vocabulary.)

In the same way that the family relationships expressed the text's outlook, I believe that society is a crucial feature in conveying a characters progress in the text. (Drop "I believe". Gain confidence and clarity.) The middle class background of Maggie’s society in 'Big Maggie enforces Maggie's opinion that a lack of money brings with it a lack of independence. This perspective of Maggie leads her to fall out with her children, ‘I’d like her a lot better if she had £1500’. Maggie refuses to allow her son Maurice to marry a woman from a lower class and this causes nothing but conflict between them. Her materialistic view of society was disheartening to me as it took away from Maggie’s commitment as a loving mother. Equally, the importance of money in society is an element also noticeable in 'Foster'. The Kinsellas go to town with the girl and give her money to spend on herself. ‘I open my hand and stare at the one pound note’, in my opinion this outlook is pessimistic because the girl, in her success of obtaining the pound note is fascinated (it's obvious, so no need to repeat) only clings onto more hope that she will stay with the Kinsellas forever. As we can tell from the title itself, ‘Foster’ we know that this is not the case. In contrast, Michele in 'I'm Not Scared' outdone outdid (this is a serious grammar error, make sure you don't make it in the exam) his society by going against the need for money and focused on freedom and friendship. He let Filippo out of the hole and played with him in the fields, meanwhile his father and his friends were plotting how to attain more ransoms from the rich for capturing Filippo. “Cut off his ears…two” (This quotation is incorrect. You are better off not quoting than quoting incorrectly. Simply paraphrase. This means tell us what happened without using direct speech. This is especially true of the Comparative.) What I found most interesting is that although Michele succeeded to outdo in overcoming the immoral expectations of his damaging society, he failed to cease the torturing of Filippo as he was moved to another enclosure afterwards. It is clear that F, 'I'm Not Scared' and 'Big Maggie all contribute to a financially obsessed society.

My favourite aspect of general vision and viewpoint was the contrasting final sequences to be observed in each text. The dramatic convention of Maggie’s soliloquy Maggie's dramatic soliloquy draws 'Big Maggie to a close. I connected with Maggie as I could now see truly what made her past so unpleasant. ‘Oh I curse the stifling, smothering breath of the religion that withered my loving and my childhood’. Although Maggie is reflecting on her disappointing marriage relationship, this has allowed her to accept that she is alone now and subsequently we finally see a glimpse of hope and independence in her words. ‘I’m too long a prisoner, but I'll savour what I can, while I can’. What a contrast to the last scene of 'I'm Not Scared', where death is the ultimate price paid by Michele to achieve independence from those who control him. Michele shows an act of heroic courage as he sacrifices his life for Filippo’s safety and tells him once he has let him free out of the cave to ‘Leave. Leave. Leave‘. An element of This is similar to the ending of 'Big Maggie' as Michele in 'I'm Not Scared' makes a decision to do with independence, just as Maggie does. However Michele’s thought has fatal consequences, whereas in 'Big Maggie, this is the start of a new beginning for Maggie. 'Foster' is similar to the optimistic ending of 'Big Maggie, but unlike the worrying ending of 'I'm Not Scared'. At the beach scene the girl is officially accepted as part of the Kinsella family unit. ‘See there’s three lights now where there was two before’. The three lights symbolised the girl as a part of their family which in my opinion makes 'Foster' the most buoyant of the tree texts. 

In conclusion I feel that it is true to say that the authors’ outlook on character development inevitably influences the perspective of the reader when deciding the accomplishments of these characters. (Mind - boggled. Is there a simpler way to say this?) The insights into human nature through the opening scenes, family relationships, society and closing sequences which I encountered on my comparative course really added to the impact of these thee texts shaping my perception of success and failure.

Here is another answer to this question featuring "The Plough and the Stars" and "Foster".

General Vision and Viewpoint: Big Maggie, Foster, I'm Not Scared for Leaving Cert English

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