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AS and A Level: Comparative Essays

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  1. Compare and contrast two poems, one by Liz Lochhead and one by Carol Ann Duffy, taking account of the methods (situation, form and structure, and language, including imagery, and tone) which each poet uses to write about relationships between men and women.

    This captures her disdain for the man. Perhaps Lochhead?s reasoning for using a foreign word could be to emphasise the distant relationship between the man and woman in this poem. Moving on, both poems use vivid imagery to capture the complex relationships between men and women. As Duffy said herself: "I like to use simple words but in a complicated way." The main contrast between the two poems is the identity of the speaker. Duffy uses a French prostitute that is a life model for an artist, whereas Lochhead writes from the point of view of a Scottish woman after the breakdown of her marriage.

    • Word count: 1242
  2. Compare and contrast two poems, one by Liz Lochhead and one by Carol Ann Duffy, taking account of the methods (situation, form and structure, and language, including imagery, and tone) which each poet uses to write about love.

    Moving on, both poems use vivid imagery to capture the complex nature of love. Warming her Pearls focusses mostly on the physical attraction of love, whereas Epithalamium focusses on love more as an emotional ideal. For example, in the first stanza of Warming Her Pearls Duffy writes, ?Next to my own skin, her pearls,? conveying a deep intimate attraction between maid and mistress. The antithesis of, ?warm,? and, ?cool,? in the first stanza emphasise the unrequited nature of the love. On the other hand, whenever Lochhead uses physical imagery it is a more reciprocated love: ?Sweet ceremony, then hand-in-hand we go.? The sibilance and repetition in the opening line highlights the harmony between the couple.

    • Word count: 1308
  3. Compare and contrast two poems, one by Liz Lochhead and one by Carol Ann Duffy, taking account of the methods (situation, form and structure, and language, including imagery, and tone) which each poet uses to write about childhood.

    Moving on, key to understanding how the poets write about childhood is their use of imagery. Beginning with In Mrs Tilscher?s Class, Duffy begins by depicting a day in primary school, utilising the method of listing: ?Tana. Ethiopia. Khartoum. Aswan.? These names have an intrinsic glamour because they are so foreign, and they help capture the wonder and discovery of childhood. She uses playful imagery, such as, ?a skittle of milk,? which is a pun on childhood toys. The sense of playfulness is continued through her use of a transferred epithet, ?the laugh of a bell swung by a running child.? In this case the laughter of the children is transferred onto the bell, perhaps to symbolise the vigorous ringing an the joy of playtime.

    • Word count: 1556
  4. Compare and contrast two poems, one by Liz Lochhead and one by Carol Ann Duffy, taking account of the methods (situation, form and structure, and language, including imagery, and tone) which each poet uses to write about journeys.

    when referring to Scotland captures how strongly the speaker feels towards their origin, and, ?red room,? conveys that they are apprehensive about this journey into the unknown. This could be a reference to HG Wells? The Red Room, in which red is associated with acute anxiety and suffering. Similarly, Lochhead also uses colour imagery in Lanarkshire Girls, but it is not so negative in connotation. She writes, ?Coming into Glasgow / in our red bus through those green fields.? Here red represents a sense of glamour and sophistication about this journey, contrasted with the green which symbolises how the girls are only on the cusp of puberty and are not quite ripe.

    • Word count: 1445

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Discuss how Marvell in "to his coy mistress" and Shakespeare in "sonnet 60" use the concept of time in these poems and to what purpose.

    "In conclusion, these two poems use time and its effects in very much the same way; they both talk about time's inevitability and its effects on beauty and life but they present very different solutions to this problem. It is not a coincidence that both poems have time as a theme because they were written during the 17th century, a time when people were very aware of the increasing proximity of death and the rapid passing of time."

  • Compare and contrast 'MCMXIV' by Philip Larkin and 'Six Young Men' by Ted Hughes.

    "In conclusion, I would say that I prefer Philip Larkin's poem "MCMXIV" to Ted Hughes's "Six Young Men". Ted Hughes' poem felt very repetitive sometimes. I thought he was saying the same thing over and over again at the end of every stanza without making his message deeper or more interesting. The violence is also too graphic and doesn't really move me. Larkin's view of the war is more subtle but he still gives us an insight to the war and his version of life is more realistic. "Leaving the gardens tidy" is a very sad little personal detail because it seems so pointless and innocent and I think it rings more true than Hughes's general descriptions of corpses and grenades."

  • Compare the poems 'Upon his Leaving his Mistress' by John Wilmot and '[I am very bothered when I think]' by Simon Armitage.

    "In conclusion both Wilmot and Armitage in the poems discussed employ several formal features. These include repetition, sound patterning, different rhyme forms, stress on certain syllables to create particular metres and alliteration. Formal features are devised to provide meaning, acoustic effects and aesthetic effects to the poems. Name: Jason Tyler Student No.: 05043156 Module: U67010 Approaching Poetry (Assignment 2)"

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