General Vision and Viewpoint - The Great Gatsby, Juno, The Plough and The Stars for Leaving Cert English

"A variety of factors in texts can change or reinforce our initial impression of the general vision and viewpoint of a text."

Compare the main factor or actors that changed or reinforced your initial impression of the general vision and viewpoint. (2017)


This essay sports some hard-hitting quotes. 

It shows the overlap/confusion between General Vision and Viewpoint, Cultural Context and Literary Genre.

The author clearly segmented her essay into four parts (which is so much better than some people's mindbending structure lack of structure): 

1) Opening scene - safe bet

2) Relationships - luckily, "The Great Gatsby", "Juno" and “The Plough and the Stars” have some fiery personalities you could compare. The author could have elaborated on these a lot more.

3) Humour - it's a little bit more of a Literary Genre instrument, but the author has very clearly shown that the use of humour impacts general vision and viewpoint. Fair dues.

4) Politics. Maybe there is a way to work it into general vision and viewpoint, but the author didn't really manage it. Her politics paragraph smacks of cultural context, mostly because it is so broad. You cannot put 1916 and bootlegging into one category. If you are to try twisting "politics" into GVV, you could choose some narrow aspect of politics. For example, war. You can compare the events of 1916 to WWI and the civil war of "The Great Gatsby". You could contrast Jack's passion for his cause vs Gatsby and Nick's attitude to WWI - and how Nick Carraway's family sent a substitute to fight in the civil war. These things tell us something about Fitzgerald's GVV.

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

General vision and viewpoint is the author’s outlook of life at the time of the text. Using various techniques, the author portrays the general vision and viewpoint in either a positive or negative way. As the text progresses, the readers initial impression of the general vision and viewpoint can be either changed or reinforced by a variety of factors. The texts I have studied as part of my comparative course are the play “The Plough and the Stars” written by Sean O’Casey which is set in 1916 Ireland during the fight for independence, the film “Juno”, a modern day description of the trials and tribulations of a 16 year old girl which is directed by Jason Reitman and the novel “The Great Gatsby” written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, set in 1920’s America. (This seems to be the standard issue introduction these days. The definition of the mode of comparative, then the statement rephrased, then a list of texts wit their settings. It's absolutely ok, but the examiner will be grateful to whoever break the mould.)

The opening of any text gives readers their first impression of the general vision and viewpoint of that text. In “The Plough and the Stars” we are subjected to a bleak and negative (are bleak and negative two different things? Avoid this "round circle" error.) description of what life was like in 1916 Ireland. The Dublin tenements have “suffering the assaults of time” and are a symbol of for the poverty that was rampant in the society of that time. This initial negative vision and viewpoint is only reinforced by the characters that live in the Dublin tenements. Mrs. Gogan reveals her true nature as she describes Nora as having “notions of upperosity”. Through her dialogue, her jealousy of Nora is evident. Her cynical comments show no positive side to her character and this only adds to the negative vision and viewpoint. 

Although the opening setting of "Juno" is not as bleak as "The Plough and The Stars", we get our first impression of the film's negative vision and viewpoint in a similar way. Mrs. Gogan’s judgemental tone is replicated in the voice of the shopkeeper, where Juno went to take her pregnancy tests. (Very well done. I would just replace replicated with echoed.) By calling her “Mama Bear” and “fertile Myrtle”, he does nothing to improve the overwhelming negative tone. Both Mrs. Gogan and the shopkeeper act as symbols for the harsh and critical societies that Nora and Juno live in. The events of the opening of both of these texts give us the initial impression of a negative vision and viewpoint. 

Key characters and their relationships play a vital role in not only portraying the plot to us, but also in helping to change or reinforce our initial impression of the general vision and viewpoint. A turning point in Jack and Nora’s relationship only adds to the negative vision adn viewpoint already presented to us. Nora has burned Jack's letter from the ICA for her own selfish needs and has jeopardised her relationship with Jack in the process. 

A variety of factors in texts can change or reinforce our initial impression of the general vision and viewpoint of a text.

However, we as readers notice how head over heels Nora is for Jack, a trait also seen in the character of Jay Gatsby, our main character in “The Great Gatsby”. Gatsby’s and Daisy’s reunion adds light to the novel, which is in stark contrast to the negative vision and viewpoint initially presented to us in the shape of Daisy’s artificial personality and the superficiality of that time. Gatsby has tried to win Daisy back and has succeeded, unlike Nora whose attempts at creating a happy home for her small family has failed. (To be fair, Gatsby didn't achieve too much success either.) Jack’s departure and Nora’s heartbreak have confirmed the text's negative vision and viewpoint. On the other hand, Gatsby’s and Daisy’s renewal of love adds a more positive tone to the novel and adds a touch of optimism and hope for the events yet to come in the text. (The author should be clear that this is only a glimmer of hope and that it's not in any way a final GVV. This is the perfect point to address the question: the GVV is changed and then it is reinforced. With a hammer.)

Comedy and humour is a vital tool used by authors and directors to portray the general vision and viewpoint of a text. It is through comedy in “The Plough and The Stars” that we see the unique relationship between The Covey and Peter. Although the humour is light-hearted and funny and the characters humorous dialogue comes as a welcome break from the dark and dreary tone of the text, it does nothing to change the negative vision and viewpoint but only highlights it even more “you lemon whiskered old swine!”

This is in contrast to our film where Juno’s witty humour has a major impact on the film’s general vision and viewpoint. Similar to characters such as Fluther or The Covery, Juno’s humour is almost effortless and is an appealing trait to her character as a main character. It is most evident when she is choosing a couple to adopt her baby. She specifically wants two modern day graphic designers who play the bass guitar but claims she doesn’t want to be too “fussy” either. Her hilarious comments and sarcastic attitude remind us that she is still just an average teenager and her attitude and outlook adds a light-hearted tone to even the most serious of situations, a role similar to that of Fluther, Peter and The Covey, even though she is a main character. However, the stark difference is Juno’s humorous ability to change the vision and viewpoint from a negative to a positive one, something that was not achieved in “The Plough and The Stars”.

The political climate of a text is a necessary tool in aiding readers to determine determining the general vision and viewpoint of a text. As readers, we are given an insight into the significant contrast that exists between the political climates of our texts. 

Political climate is the predominant theme in "The Plough and The Stars", providing a backdrop for both the events and general vision and viewpoint of the text. O’Casey's play is set in Ireland in 1916 (don't repeat yourself), a time of huge social unrest in the country. Our main character, Jack Clitheroe is devoted to Ireland's cause of winning their independence and is willing to die in order to achieve it, "Ireland is greater than a mother…greater than a wife". Political marches turn into scenes of violence and the politics of the times creates divisions between characters, all confirming the negative vision and viewpoint. O’Casey’s profoundly negative attitude is apparent throughout the text, most noticeably in the key moment of Bessie Burgess death. The illogical pointlessness of the violence and struggles is shown as Bessie is shot dead by the British soldiers she had praised throughout the text. Bessie’s death, combined with the scenes of many nationalists dying without achieving their goals leaves readers is no doubt as to the negative vision and viewpoint of the text.

General Vision and Viewpoint - The Great Gatsby, Juno, The Plough and The Stars for Leaving Cert English

Lack of money determined Ireland’s political climate in 1916, whereas extraordinary wealth was the reason behind 1920’s America political meltdown. (Not so sure about that! It was the reason behind Gatsby & Co's meltdown, but not America's. May God bless her.) Prohibition laws had backfired, resulting in underground speakeasies and bootlegging. Tax legislations benefited the wealthy and divided the social classes. Jay Gatsby took advantage of America’s political climate and used it to work his way to the top of the social ladder by illegal means, “he’s a bootlegger”. He is determined, like Jack Clitheroe and the Irish rebels, to reach his goal, however, his involvement with criminal activity changes the vision and viewpoint to a negative one as readers know that no good can come out of it. Where we once saw a love struck man doing everything in his power to win back the girl of his dreams, in his place stands a sly criminal using the political flaws of his country to selfishly achieve his aims. This changes our previously positive vision and viewpoint to a profoundly negative one. 

It is true in my opinion that our initial impression of the general vision and viewpoint of a text can be changed or reinforced as a result of a variety of factors including characters and their relationships, the comedy and humour present and the political climate of the text.

This is what the marking scheme had to say:
  • unfolding plots, key events, turning points and plot twists may change or reinforce our initial impression of the general vision and viewpoint 
  • our growing knowledge of characters...
Read the rest here (search for 2017 Leaving Cert Higher Level English Marking scheme)

The Great Gatsby, Juno, The Plough and The Stars for Leaving Cert English

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