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Leaving Cert English Poetry FAQ

General vision and viewpoint - Foster, I'm Not Scared and The Plough and The Stars #625Lab

“The general vision and viewpoint is shaped by the reader’s feeling of optimism or pessimism in reading the text.”

This is a very good essay! #625Lab

For me, the General Vision and Viewpoint of a narrative relates to the author, director or playwright’s outlook or attitude to life as revealed in the worlds they have created. It can also be shaped by the reader’s experience of that world. I examined the despondent Irish drama “The Plough and The Stars” by the playwright Sean O’Casey, "Foster", written by Claire Keegan, for all the bleakness of the girl’s home and its daily tensions, is essentially optimistic and the somewhat pessimistic Italian film “I’m not Scared” composed by director Gabriele Salvatores.

General vision and viewpoint - Foster, I'm Not Scared and The Plough and The Stars

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“The Plough and The Stars” is set in the working-class tenements of Dublin during 1916, when people were rebelling against Ireland’s status as a British colony, against poverty and against destruction. Nora, the spirited matriarch of the Clitheroe household hopelessly strives to keep her family together, however, it is being drastically destroyed by growing political unrest and her husband’s selfish obsession with the war. The social unrest which casts a sense of foreboding over “The Plough and The Stars” is evident throughout. It’s based at a time when intense political conflict pervaded the Irish nationalist movement. The poignant yet didactic novel charts the relationship between the child and the Kinsellas. In contrast to “The Plough and The Stars” we see this novel through the eyes of the young child. In stark contrast to “The Plough and The Stars” and "Foster", “I’m not Scared” is filmed in the idyllic village of Acqua Traverse in the Mezzogiorno region of southern Italy. It tells the story of a young boy who discovers an abhorrent crime- the kidnapping of young Filippo. (No need to retell the story. It would be a good idea to make it clear in the opening sentence that this paragraph is about setting.)

I feel that the opening scenes of any narrative is are of the upmost importance in providing us with an insight into the vision of life that has to come, whether positive or negative. The horror associated with war pervades the opening scene of “The Plough ad The Stars” as we learn of the sheer desolation apparent in the Dublin slums. O’Casey’s employment use of graphic details like “Through the window of the room at the back can be seen the flaring of the flame of a gasoline lamp giving light to the workers repairing the street” and the living conditions of the tenement slums – there is little more than a small dresser, table and a wooden fireplace painted to look like marble – add to the overpowering sense of misery. The humour of Fluther and Mrs. Gogan’s incessant need to snoop momentarily mitigate the sombre mood. The idyllic beauty which surrounds the village of Acqua Traverse had the same effect: offering me comfort from the ugly reality and evil that lurks beneath – a dark, sinister underground pit. Above his pit a black raven – associated with death and predatory instincts – croaks loudly emanating a gloomy, threatening mood. (The author errs on the side of longer sentences which is rather difficult for the reader. It would be good to break them up with shorter ones.)

This atmosphere is accentuated as the sadistic Skull orders Barbara to indecently expose herself as he heartlessly sneers. I was horrified at this abhorrent act. In contrast to “The Plough ad The Stars” and “I’m not Scared” Foster is comprehensively (understandably?) pessimistic in its opening: I sensed an air of hopelessness and despair permeating the opening lines. The narrator, on waiting her arrival to her aunt and uncle’s, recalls the time when her “father lost their red Shorthorn in a game of forty-five”- an idea which is truly haunting. My interest was stimulated by her simple colloquial manner and forced me to question this pessimism. This bleak opening, for me, clearly presents to me how the General Vision and Viewpoint can change as the plot progresses.

How each society is depicted by the author has a significant impact on the General Vision and Viewpoint of a narrative. In O’Casey’s “The Plough and The Stars” we see the atrocities committed during the civil war: several characters lose their lives. The death of Bessie who has emerged as the true heroine of the play, is dark and pessimistic. Her death is one of the most moving moments of the play and echoes the General Vision and Viewpoint of the play which is dark. Like “The Plough and The Stars”, “I’m not Scared” is set on the backdrop of national unrest during the raucous years of the Anni Di Piombo (Tears of Lead)- a time of political and social turmoil in Italy’s 1960s-1980s. Within the dysfunctional society of Italy people from the south felt envious of the wealth possessed by the northern Italians. The geographical tensions are mirrored in "Foster| with the actions of Mildred. Her questioning of the child transcends the hypocrisy of and its view of women. She asks: “does she skimp on things or is she allowed spend?”. Similarly, to Dan in "Foster" and Jack Clitheroe in “The Plough and The Stars”, Pino Armitrano’s proletariat background drives him to heartless acts of violence in “I’m not Scared”: he, like many other poverty-stricken, southern Italians, terrorised the North’s wealthier families by kidnapping their children and demanding vast amounts of money for their return. As in the play, the General Vision and Viewpoint portray acts of senseless violence where the sacrifices made by young men are being depicted as being essentially futile and self-destructive. Mollser’s awareness in the play is illustrated in asking: “is there anyone going with a titther o’ sense?”. (This paragraph is about poverty. This should be made clear in the opening sentence of the paragraph. "How each society is depicted" is just too general.)

The utilisation of language is apparent in all my narratives texts and I believe it greatly enhanced the overall outlook of them. Language radically impacts the General Vision and Viewpoint of "Foster". The child uses simple language to convey how she is feeling, but it is most often the case that she paints a picture in our mind very few adults could succeed in doing. She says: “Walking down the road, there’s a taste of something darker in the air, of something that might come and fall and change things." A sense of foreboding is created. Like in "Foster", the language and imagery of “The Plough and The Stars” clearly highlight O’Casey’s essentially dark and pessimistic General Vision and Viewpoint. He uses rhetoric, colloquialisms, irony and caricature to highlight the tragic forces at play. Nothing in "Foster" or “The Plough and The Stars” matches the ferocity and vulgarity of the adult expression in “I’m not Scared” and it is in stark contrast to the sophisticated and well-polished idiom of the woman from Rathmines. Pino has clearly been influenced by the foul and perverse character of Sergio Materia: he viscously reacts to Filippo’s mother’s plea for his freedom callously remarking ”What the f-k does she want?” On hearing a local’s suggestion of releasing Filippo and to abandon him on a nearby road he fleas into a storm of abuse: “What are you thinking?... sh*t for brains... you f-king bumpkins.” For me, all this abhorrent language darkened my already pessimistic vision of the film.

Finally, I feel the closing scenes of the texts are extremely important in creating a final and enduring General Vision and Viewpoint of either optimism or pessimism. The altruism of Nora’s hope of keeping the family together has been tragically destroyed: Jack has chosen the war over her and she plunges into a state of despair. Bessie is killed trying to be a hero. This brutal act serves to show that during war bravery and strength do not always have positive outcomes. The play ends in a stale mate and the reader does no know what will come of the remaining characters. This uncertainty as to what the future may hold is similarly evident in the closing scenes of “I’m not Scared”. Although the final shot is a beautiful, dreamy, almost surreal image of Filippo looking like a guardian angel as he extends his hand to the wounded Michele. (his father, Pino, has accidentally shot him) (You can assume people reading your Leaving Cert essay know the plot. If, however, you want to comment on the tragic irony of how the father ended up harming his own child while kidnapping another's, you can mention it. Only mention what happened if you yourself have something to say about them.) I, the viewer, know that this is not the end of the pessimism. How will Michele ever look at his father in the same way again? The manner in which "Foster" closes is certainly ambiguous. Tremendous tension is built up and the reader asks: who is the child calling “Daddy”? For me, the child has grown. She has learned that love is more important for a parental bond than blood,, therefore, leaving me with an optimistic sense at the novel’s closure.

In conclusion, I personally found that there were moments of darkness evident in all three narratives but none more so than “The Plough ad The Stars”, engendering a feeling of pessimism within me. For me, “I’m not Scared” emanates an optimistic view thanks to the heart-warming friendship of Michele and Filippo, like the relationship between the Kinsellas and the girl in "Foster". As a final word, studying the General Vision and Viewpoint of these texts was thoroughly enjoyable, and I found myself on tenterhooks throughout, rooting for the central character as they attempted to create a better life for themselves.

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