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AS and A Level: Comparative Essays

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  1. Comparing 'Calf' by Gillian Clarke and 'February 17th' by Ted Hughes.

    Another similarity is a technique they use here which is alliteration, a technique that Hughes is very fond of. Here Hughes uses the hard, harsh sounding Ds to get across the atmosphere and Clarke uses soft calm sounding Ss. Both poems are also set in the poet's native area. Hughes is very straight forward right from the start in what it is about: "A lamb could not get born." Clarke also gets the picture across straight away: "A lamb was born in a field" So as you can see the structure and use of techniques is very similar but the meaning is opposite.

    • Word count: 1149
  2. Comparing and analysing Heaney's 'Blackberry Picking' and Plath's 'Blackberrying.'

    She moves on from this to include anthropomorphism by describing the berries as "fat", this is normal terminology for a person or other animal not for a plant, implying again that the berries do have certain almost human qualities. She then moves on to be overwhelmed by the berries, "I had not asked for such blood sisterhood" now indicating that she even has a bond with the berries even though the image is simply of the berries being squashed. Also the "Blood sisterhood" not only indicates a bond between Plath and the berries but the suggestion that Plath belongs to a long line of women.

    • Word count: 1710
  3. 'The Jaguar' by Ted Hughes 'In Mrs. Tilschers Class' by Carol Ann Duffy

    This stanza is quite boring and puts you off reading the rest of the poem. Stanza one in 'In Mrs. Tilschers Class' it is about a lesson were the teacher is showing the children the river Nile with her finger. The children are keen to learn, they feel safe in the classroom were there is innocence. They'd rather stay at that age than gain knowledge and move on. It is quite interesting and reminds you when you were in that position.

    • Word count: 611
  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 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. Compare and contrast 'Lanarkshire Girls' by Lochhead and 'Recognition' by Duffy in terms of significant moments.

    them to take in as they quickly drive past these sites; it is this excitement and adoration that makes this a significant moment for the girls. The tone in each poem differs thus showing the speakers? differing reactions to their individual significant moments. In ?Recognition? the tone is regretful and bitter, ?Children? I've had three/ and I don?t even know them?. However, a strain of positivity runs through the poem when the speaker recalls times from her past and happy memories from her childhood, ?I lay in my slip on wet grass/ laughing?.

    • Word count: 917
  9. Compare and contrast '1953' by Lochhead and 'Litany' by Duffy

    The poem is structured into four quatrain stanzas which accurately reflect the controlled, strict nature of a litany. Enjambment is employed allowing the final sentence from the second stanza to be carried on in the first line of the third. This is to symbolise the meaning contained in these lines, ?an embarrassing word, broken/ to bits?; the sentence is broken as are the words. ?1953? is formed from three stanzas of unequal length which reflects the free verse style of the poem and its ode-like nature. In ?1953?, the child speaker admires her parents; ?you? put the effort in? You set paths straight/ with slabs it took to men to lift.? She speaks of her parents? deeds in

    • Word count: 890
  10. Compare and contrast 'Epithalamum' and 'Warming Her Pearls' by Duffy and Lochhead

    It also reflects the strict, formal, professional relationship which is to be expected between her and her mistress. However, the use of enjambment throughout breaks the perfect structure showing how the maid is breaking these boundaries with her love, and also how she allows her fantasies about her mistress to run on, ?the way/ she always does?. Love in ?Epithalamium? is open and infectious; it is a shared emotion as, ?your quotidian friends/ Put on, with gladrag finery today, your joy?.

    • Word count: 912
  11. Compare and contrast 'Warming Her Pearls' by Duffy and 'The Redneck' by Lochhead

    It also reflects the strict, formal, professional relationship which is to be expected between her and her mistress. However, the use of enjambment throughout breaks the perfect structure showing how the maid is breaking these boundaries with her love, and also how she allows her fantasies about her mistress to run on, ?the way/ she always does?. Love in ?Epithalamium? is open and infectious; it is a shared emotion as, ?your quotidian friends/ Put on, with gladrag finery today, your joy?.

    • Word count: 912
  12. Compare and Contrast 'The Journeyman' by Lochhead and 'Standing Female Nude' by Duffy

    His work, ?shall be represented analytically and hung/ in great museums? for people to gaze it and admire. However, he is also concerned about the details of his work, ?He is concerned with volume, space?; he is taking pride in his art. Paul Cezanne does not appear to work out of necessity, but is concerned with how he paints as Georges in ?Standing Female Nude? is, however more so than Georges as he appears almost obsessed with painting the Mount Victoire perfectly; throughout the poem as he lists objects which he has painted, ?An apple, an orange, a ball, a head? he keeps coming back to ?this mountain? as no matter how many times he has painted it, he is not contented with the outcome.

    • Word count: 679
  13. Compare and contrast 'The Good Teachers' and 'Lanarkshire Girls' by Carol- Ann Duffy and Liz Lochhead

    Similarly, ?The Good Teachers? makes use of a tight but simple structure of four sestets to mirror that structure of school, but also employs enjambment to assist in the anecdotal style as it represents the speaker?s meandering memories. Lochhead also makes use of enjambment for the same reason but furthers its use by using it to demonstrate the speaker?s awe in the second stanza as she observes the views out of her window as she approaches the city. The use of enjambment emphasises the juxtaposition between the sparse rural sights of the girls? Lanarkshire homes and how they are trying to take in all of those which are surrounding them as they approach the city.

    • Word count: 956
  14. Compare and contrast 'Redneck' and 'Warming Her Pearls' by Carol- Ann Duffy and Liz Lochhead

    The poem is divided into two stanzas, one of which has sixteen lines and the other has only three. The first describes in detail the speaker?s wedding day, and the second speaks of her relationship with her new husband; this short stanza symbolises the short length of their marriage. Lochhead employs enjambment in the first stanza on the second line to emphasis the final word, ?Starving? in order to demonstrate in full capacity, the lengths the speaker went to secure her pride and to look her best.

    • Word count: 907
  15. Compare and contrast 'Originally' and 'Lanarkshire Girls' by Carol- Ann Duffy and Liz Lochhead

    However, any sense of anxiety felt by the speaker in ?Lanarkshire Girls? is short lived and replaced with excitement as with, ?money burning a hole? in the girls? pockets, they began ?dreaming? themselves up. On the other hand, the anxiety felt by the speaker in ?Originally? doesn?t deteriorate but worsens and affects not only the speaker, but her entire family too, ?My parents? anxiety stirred like a loose tooth.? This speaks to the permanency and consequences of each journey. For the speaker in Duffy?s poem, the consequences of the journey are large and the relocation is permanent as although she wants to return to her ?own country? desperately, she cannot.

    • Word count: 927
  16. How is lost innocence portrayed By Duffy and Pugh?

    This is written in a typeface which emulates child-like handwriting, which juxtaposed with harsh and emotionless typeface of the abuser, reflects the polarity of the two characters visually and the lack of feeling from the abuser. The unembellished language of the abusers sentences also further emphasises this lack of care or feeling for Lizzie. Her innocence is further magnified by Duffy through the juxtaposition of her naivety with the brutality of the abuser. This is shown through the commanding imperative verbs he uses ?bend over that chair? showing his violent and cruel use of his dominant position as well as the repetition of the intimidating ?I?ll give you? suggesting he has complete control of the situation.

    • Word count: 1458
  17. Compare Plath and Hughes treatment of death in their poetry. You must refer to least two Plath poems in your response.

    She could possibly be talking about her miscarriage when she mentions ?...Each dead child coiled? it is very shocking for the reader as Plath talks about a dead child in such a frank and simplistic manner, sounds very blunt and matter of fact in a morbid way. She uses internal rhyme to give a soft slow beauty to death ?Rose close?, as a rose is seen as being delicate and beautiful unlike death but Plath possibly compares death to a rose due to her maybe wanting to portray death as a beautiful experience.

    • Word count: 1480
  18. Compare the ways in which Plath and Hughes write about settings and landscapes. In your response, you must include detailed discussion of at least two of Plath's poems.

    In the speaker?s mind, the whiteness around her is so pure that she feels like ?nobody? in it. She wants " nothing to do with? her husband and child and their hurtful ?little smiling hooks." She yearns to reach for the liberation from life and to fall into the eternal peacefulness. Through the admiration and experience of the whiteness, the speaker expresses her intent to die. As the whiteness stands for the liberation that the speaker seeks, the redness of tulips acts as the reminder of her burden and responsibility in the world outside the hospital room. The speaker sees the tulips' redness as a source of danger because "it hurts [her]" and threatens her liberation.

    • Word count: 1267
  19. Through the three texts La Belle Dame sans Merci, Lamia and The lady of Shalott by John Keats and Alfred Tennyson respectively, we see the different representations of women

    We soon discover that the knight?s pale state of weakness is brought about by ?La Belle Dame? and this is where Keats first introduces the image of women as temptresses; he labels her ?a faery?s child with ?wild wild eyes? which may insinuate madness. Upon meeting ?La Belle Dame?, the knight is quick to make her the sole object of his affection, adorning her with garlands and bracelets; she in turn returns his affection with ?sweet moans? and looks of love.

    • Word count: 637
  20. The lives and works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Emily Dickinson may be different in many ways, but there are existential treads that bind these two people together by similarities.

    This poem was ?The Battle of Marathon? (?Elizabeth Barrett Browning?). ?Elizabeth experienced her first sorrow in 1828 when her mother Mary suddenly died? (?Elizabeth Barrett Browning?). ?By the time Elizabeth had moved to London, her health was poor and she suffered from a spinal injury and shown signs of a lung condition but was never diagnosed? (?Elizabeth Barrett Browning?). However in these conditions Elizabeth never seemed to give up her love for poetry. Shortly after Elizabeth?s brother, Edward, drowned in a boating accident on his way back to London (?Elizabeth Barrett Browning?).

    • Word count: 2453
  21. Women are dismissed as insignificant in both the poetry of Larkin and Eliot. How far do you agree with this view?

    In A Game of Chess, Eliot parodies Cleopatra in the opening, to use as a contrast between the erotic, natural and regal Cleopatra and the ?synthetic? and oppressive nature of the woman persona, illustrating the corruption of sex and romance. This is reflected in Eliot?s vivid descriptions; the nightingales ?inviolable? voice falls on ?dirty ears? whilst the ?world pursues? showing the attempt to corrupt something that was once pure; real love and relationships. ?Withered stumps? suggests a transformation from vitality to stasis, reflecting the change of sex from meaningful to meaningless.

    • Word count: 2262
  22. The atmospheres of Sonnet 43 and Sonnet 29 allude to Browning and Millays outlooks on their respective marriages.

    Elements of the poems that enable this include their atmospheres, diction, tones and various poetic techniques. The atmospheres of Sonnet 43 and Sonnet 29 allude to Browning and Millay?s outlooks on their respective marriages. Sonnet 29 exposes a woman?s grief for her deteriorating marriage and her husband, who ?no longer looks with love on me (the poet)?. Readers are overwhelmed by an anger-filled, threatening opening atmosphere in which the poet imposes on them to ?pity me not? for the ?light of day [that]?no longer walks the sky?. Millay?s despair is seen through the metaphor of her happiness and spirit as a diminished ?light?, repressed by the turmoil of her relationship.

    • Word count: 743
  23. This balance of opposing elements, or contradictions, is a main theme in two famous Romantic works: "She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways," by Wordsworth and "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," by Coleridge.

    The first contradiction in Wordsworth's poem is present both in the title and in the very first line, which read similarly "She [Lucy] dwelt among the untrodden ways." Observe the words "dwelt" and "untrodden" - a dwelling place is a home, and a home is something familiar and welcoming. An "untrodden way" is something unfamiliar and strange - in fact, it is almost the exact opposite of a home, or a dwelling. Lucy, however, brought about the union of these two contradictory elements - she made her home in an unfamiliar place, where others did not venture.

    • Word count: 1003
  24. Sir Philip Sidneys poem The Nightingale and Amy Clampitts poem Syrinx are two very different poems

    The effect of this is to highlight that The Nightingale is a very regular poem, where Syrinx is a very irregular poem. It is as if Amy Clampitt teases the reader by making the first two stanzas of equal length, then throws in another couple of lines at the end. This therefore highlights her desire to make the poem seem irregular. This difference in regularity can also be seen through the metre of the poems. The Nightingale is mainly iambic pentameter throughout, with hypermetrical stresses on each of the last words in each line.

    • Word count: 2707
  25. Death is a key theme in a number of John Donnes poems, including Death Be Not Proud and This Is My Plays Last Scene. I have decided to compare these two poems with Emily Dickensons Because I Could Not Stop For Death.

    In ?This Is My Play?s Last Scene? Donne refers to death as ?gluttonous? making us think that death is greedy for more victims and waiting for more people that ?he? can swallow up. Donne?s use of capitol letters whilst referring to death makes it seem more like a real person. Similarly, Emily Dickenson also personifies death in her poem ?Because I Could Not Stop For Death?? similarly to Donne by her use of capitol letters for ?death?. Donne says ?...will instantly unjoint? making it sound like being ripped apart from earth and taken to another life against your own will.

    • Word count: 1841

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