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GCSE: John Betjeman

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  1. Betjeman constructs a world by carefully chosen detail. Do you agree with this assessment in the light of your reading of Death in Leamington and Devonshire Street, W.1.?

    The poem "Devonshire Street, W.1." is equally a construction of a world by carefully chosen detail. It is itself ridden with symbolism and literary contrast - what with the building being personified as "lofty", thus an impersonal mood is brought about, which is symbolic of the age itself - and portrays a world of apparent negativity. The death of the woman in "Death in Leamington" is ironic in its presence to the Nurse. As she comes to wake the woman up, she realises that she is in fact dead: a crude and "lonely" happening, which provides greater emphasis to the "ev'ning" that the poem takes place in.

    • Word count: 614
  2. In Betjemans poems, the vivid depiction of particular places is always linked to the strong feelings they provoke. Do you agree?

    This hope, however, may in fact be false, as is the 'electric train' in being a representation of life. Harrow on the Hill was initially called A Child's Lament, with it being a portrayal 'of a child coming back from a seaside holiday in Cornwall.' The poem represents the stark contrast that exists between his holiday destination and his home town, there being strong feelings that this would have provoked. Betjeman's technical skill with poetic structure, more specifically in stanza two, evokes this idea of apparent juxtaposition to a greater extent.

    • Word count: 589
  3. Betjemans poetry reveals an unfilled longing for youth. Do you agree?

    The poem is itself littered with light sexual innuendos: 'that dark and furry cupboard'; 'hard against your party frock'; and 'the sheet's caressing' all radiate a 'deep' eroticism, with emphasis being provided to childlike delight in lexis suggested ever so subtly. Stanza four of Indoor Games near Newbury introduces a slight change in tone. 'Love so pure it had to end' connotes an idea of great significance - of being frightened by a burgeoning awareness of the child's own sexuality.

    • Word count: 644
  4. The three little mice

    And with that his brothers left the little mouse with his bale of hay, and carried on their journey. A little further down the road, the second little mouse grew very tired. Just then he saw an empty bird's nest sat in a big, tall tree. "Look there" the second little mouse yelled "This empty birds nest isn't to high or to small for my house it's just right" he said. So with that the third little mouse carried on his journey. Soon, even the third little mouse became tired, and up ahead he spotted a wall made out of stone.

    • Word count: 734
  5. Could The Suicide be The Executive after a life of failure?

    This is the 60's because there was not a licence of housing until after this period of time. No one could just knock down buildings then. Another aspect of the poem, which makes you consider it is in the 60's, is that Betjeman has written in his poem 'I have a Slimline briefcase', which were only used around that time because they are like the equivalent of modern palmtops. Therefore, if the Executive was so rich he would have the best up to date technology to show off for work. In 'The Suicide' it indicates that it is set in the 60's because McNeice writes in his poem 'Through which he had wandered deliciously till he stumbled', which is a 60's song.

    • Word count: 1350
  6. 'The field-mouse' and 'October' is written by the same writer, Gillian Clarke also that they both have three stanzas. The theme of 'the field-mouse' is about a mouse which symbolises

    The first two things that are noticeable is a similarity between these two poems. 'The field-mouse' and 'October' is written by the same writer, Gillian Clarke also that they both have three stanzas. The theme of 'the field-mouse' is about a mouse which symbolises a child in a war, "the child comes running through the killed flowers, his hands a nest of quivering mouse". Whereas the theme of 'October' is about the month of October and how it represents death because in the month of October the days are very gloomy with mostly rain and never sunshine, "Wind in the poplars and a broken branch, a dead arm in the bright trees".

    • Word count: 465
  7. 'The Eighteenth Emergency' - Look closely at the words used by Byars by analysing the words used in the quotes.

    At the beginning of the novel Mouse is presented as being really scared and weak because Marv is after him. The text 'Some boys are going to kill me' shows that he is scared and exaggerating. Also 'He started thinking again about Marv Hammerman' is showing he is always thinking about him, which shows he is worried. 'He came up in his mind the way monsters do in horror movies, big and powerful with the same cold, unreal eyes.' This shows you what Mouse thinks Marv looks like, big and a person who doesn't care how scruffy he is, despite his power to frighten people.

    • Word count: 564
  8. The Giant Maggot

    There is no one to talk to. I am on my own. Secluded. Isolated. Inaccessible. Cut off from humans. There is nothing that will confront my brain, something that will stimulate it. Some days I end up counting and taking notice of stuff, like how many times the guards have their brakes, what times they have them in, who patrols where and on what day. I even know their personal problems their family and even their childhood. I just listen. Time passes slowly. It seems an eternity. That's why I'm writing a story. Once a day I'm authorized to go outside.

    • Word count: 2134
  9. Compare Perch, The Field-Mouse, The Eagle, and A Difficult Birth.

    "A difficult Birth" shows Clarke's two greatest concerns - a love of the natural world around her and the political processes that bring war and peace to the world. "Perch" has a simple form - five couples with half rhyme similar to "the eagle" when only two lines rhyme. The metre is mostly anapaestic with some iambic feet. "A difficult birth" also has a loose iambic metre similar to the Eagle which has an iambic metre written with four feet in each line.

    • Word count: 1001
  10. Diary of a Church Mouse

    In this poem we see views of the church and of different people. We can see from the beginning of stanza two the mouse shares its 'dark forgotten room.' The word forgotten prompts us about the church and its presence in society. It is also forgotten by most and only when it suits people, that religion shows importance and they come to feast on what the church has to offer, which is usually after the harvest.

    • Word count: 516
  11. Touch with Fire Notes

    * A poisonous snake * The poet believes that he should kill the snake but he cannot do so. Was it because the snake was quite? No harm? He was too cowardly? Drinking as if it was an invited guest? Or because he felt honors that such a creature should come out from the earth to visit him? * After drinking, the snake prepares to go back down into his hole in the wall but the author is suddenly horrified at the idea of it going back into the darkness, and without thinking he throws a 'clumsy log' at it but he was sorry for what he did.

    • Word count: 2102
  12. Poems by John Betjeman

    Once he meets Wendy, everything seems to turn into fantasy, 'Fairies, pinewood elf and larch tree gnome', which shows his childlike mind. However, the whole poem changes its feel after you read the last phrase, 'slumber-wear'. This gives the poem a very strange quality, knowing that the boy is still very young and already up to no good. The uncle also adds to this effect by asking them to 'fox-trot' giving the reader the illusion that maybe the children are older.

    • Word count: 1188
  13. In what respects do Pilenz and Mahlke have a 'cat and mouse' relationship? How reliable is Pilenz's account if this relationship?

    In this early stage of the novel, Pilenz is the mouse and Mahlke is the cat. This changes however, very soon as the novel progresses. Mahlke learned how to swim and finally swam faster than his friends. Mahlke could also hold his breath for a longer time than Pilenz. When he arrived to the barge, he would dive down to see what he could salvage from the wreckage. Pilenz never dove to the barge. Mahlke would surface with items from the barge such as an old gramophone player, and a medallion.

    • Word count: 978
  14. We have been giving to 20th century poems to examine. They are "Evans" by R.S Thomas and "Death in Leamington" by Sir John Betjeman. Both poems are about death, but in two very different situations. I will examine the poem Evans first of all.

    Everything that Evans owns has a dull, dreary adjective attached to it, like stark farm and black kettle. His kitchen must be filthy because crickets can be heard. The last line of this verse tells us that he lives on a lone farm upon a hill. From this verse we have found out that this man is poor, lonely and doesn't really care much about what his house looks like. The 2nd verse tells us that something appals the speaker.

    • Word count: 1105
  15. Compare the Content, Style and Techniques of an "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat" With That of "To a Mouse".

    No one arrives to save her: "No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirr'd : Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heared". The dolphin is included in the list of possible rescuers because it is a reference to the classical legend of the harpist, Arion, being saved by a dolphin which had been entranced by his music, much in the same way the cat wanted to be saved by someone who heard its meowing. In Burns's poem the mouse unlike the cat does not actually die, but it is made clear that the prospects for the mouse are bleak due to its home

    • Word count: 1190
  16. Critical Appreciation Of Diary of a Church Mouse.

    He creates a catalogue that criticizes the charade and two-facedness of people. The poem chases the progression of writer's thoughts on the theme and tells us how selfish and greedy people really are. The mouse is symbolic in the sense, it helps the poet convey the writer's ideas to the readers. The poem depicts a church mouse, and how he is disheartened at the sight of a hoard of rodents and mice that have come to share the feast, in times of plenty.

    • Word count: 811
  17. With close reference to two poems you've studied, show how specific places provide Betjeman with poetical inspiration.

    In this case the bombs are friendly because according to Betjeman Slough deserves to be bombed because it is so awful. The verse has a jaunty rhythm. Slough is not worth saving. One can clearly see his hatred for Slough in the first verse. He wants the bombs to blow up Slough so there is nothing left mostly because of all the canteens, which serve tinned foods. In the next verse, Betjeman is saying that we are becoming artificial because we are eating artificial food; there is no more fresh food to be eaten.

    • Word count: 1066
  18. Comparing ‘Slough’ with ‘Belfast Confetti’.

    "Come friendly bombs", he would be grateful for Slough to be destroyed. Like the bombs would be doing him a favour. At the end of the poem it is clear that he still holds the same views, "The earth exhales." The world is rid of the parasite that dogs it at the heels. The phrase "friendly bombs" is an oxymoron. Bombs are tools of destruction and thus not friendly. Betjeman likes rural aspects; there is a lack of nature in Slough. Everything is manufactured and tinned, even the minds and breath of the inhabitants.

    • Word count: 696
  19. Compare and contrast 'Slough' and 'Belfast Confetti' - Comment on the poetic devices used and their effects.

    The poet doesn't actually mention whether he thinks the bombing is right or wrong, which is refreshing in a time when everyone has an opinion about the freedom of Ireland from England. However, the title is confusing, making the reader think that this is going to be about celebrations, but it in fact, turns out to be about a bomb. The first stanza describes the riot as Carson remembers the events, and the sheer violence comes tumbling out. As soon as the poem begins, the reader is hit in an urgent, dynamic fashion.

    • Word count: 1369
  20. Recently our class read the short story Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes.

    But Algernon's health began to decline rapidly and soon he died. This almost certainly meant that the same outcome would happen to Charlie who was losing his intelligence and memory very quickly. The story ends without us actually knowing what happened to Charlie but my conclusion would be that he died. The story raised many themes, the first one is happiness, I don't believe that Charlie was ever happy. When he wasn't very clever he wanted to be smart but after the operation he discovered his workmates (who he believed were his friends)

    • Word count: 860
  21. "Childhood in all aspects is extremely important to Betjeman." Choose Three Poems That Show How He Represents Childhood And Whether You Find This Statement To Be True.

    He is proud to call her his friend and feels a sense of security from her. "You will protect me, my silken Myfanwy, Ringleader, tom-boy, and chum to the weak." I think this poem does prove the statement to be true as "Myfanwy" obviously meant a lot to him. However this poem is in direct contrast with " Original Sin on the Sussex Coast." This poem is about bullying and fighting. There is clear child innocence in this poem, "Across the Garden of Remembrance? No, that would be blasphemy and bring bad luck." The fact that the child believes in bad luck and can't afford to have any whilst being chased by some other children is almost fairytale like.

    • Word count: 852
  22. "Betjeman has... very brilliantly made us think about being alive, being dead... while infact talking about a tea tray." What is your response to this view? In your answer you should examine in detail 'Death in Leamington' and one other appropriate poem.

    The verse runs on throughout until it comes to the end of the stanza. Betjeman did this as it was the beginning of the poem and wanted us to realise and feel what and whom the poem is all about Secondly we are illustrated with use of personification, as her 'lonely crochet' will not be able to grow anymore. The crochet beside her bed also shows us that she liked to make things in her spare time and that she was still fit and well. 'But the fingers that would have work'd it were dead as the spoken word.'

    • Word count: 1565
  23. How does Betjeman convey his attitude towards Slough?

    He is very flippant about asking the bombs to blow Slough 'to smithereens' as if he wants no part of it left and it's a reasonable demand. Betjeman's phrases such as 'It's not their fault that they are mad', 'they do not know' and 'they often go' makes it sound like he feels the people of Slough are alienated and are very different to himself, as if they were another species altogether, calling them 'they', disassociating them from himself, and being patronising about their lives.

    • Word count: 1193
  24. Walter Elias Disney - Why should the great man Walter Elias Disney be worthy of being awarded a statue in Trafalgar Square?

    His personal awards included honorary degrees from outstanding Universities such as Harvard, Yale and more. More personal awards for this legendary man included the Presidential Medal of Freedom, France's Legion of Honor and Officer d'Academie decorations, Thailand's Order of the Crown; Brazil's Order of the Southern Cross, Mexico's Order of the Aztec Eagle, and the Showman of the World Award from the National Association of Theatre Owners.

    • Word count: 555
  25. Compare and Contrast the Ways in Which the Two Poets Present Their Memories

    These feelings were apparent at the start of the poem as Larkin travels "by a different line for once". The use of "for once" was not a necessary phrase in his description of the journey but insinuates that his childhood was monotonous and dull. There is another phrase, "come to that" that is also unnecessary to the meaning of the poem or sentence it is in. This gives the impression that it is said angrily as an aside. Larkin uses negatives to emphasise what he "did not" do and the experiences in life that he was "never" a part of.

    • Word count: 1393

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