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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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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

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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