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AS and A Level: Ted Hughes

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Top tips for writing about Ted Hughes and his work

  1. 1 Hughes was fascinated by the harsh and brutal cruelty of the animal world.
  2. 2 Simon Armitage said that for Hughes, poetry was ‘a connecting rod between nature and humanity’.
  3. 3 Consider the different perspectives in Hughes’ poems; for example, he uses a subjective tone in Hawk Roosting. In others, he directly addresses the reader.
  4. 4 Consider the symbolic power of Hughes’ poems. The animals could be interpreted as metaphors for his views on humanity and society: what, for example, might the hawk or the jaguar suggest about human nature?
  5. 5 Have a think about Hughes’ style. His language is often concrete and economical, yet retains a powerful impact. Hughes also varies his use of structural devices (rhythm, rhyme etc.). What do you think the effects of these choices are?

Writing about Hughes' poetry

  1. 1 Hughes’ poetry was often inspired by his experiences, such as his childhood in Yorkshire. However, it is important to understand the difference between the poet and the narrative persona created in the poems.
  2. 2 The perspective, tone and register of the narrator are good places to start analysis. Remember that these differ across Hughes’ poems.
  3. 3 Look for patterns and oppositions that emerge.
  4. 4 Consider effects of poetic techniques, for example use of symbolism (a key technique in Hughes’ poems) or phonological devices (to do with sounds).
  5. 5 Consider the effects of structure (e.g. number of verses, line length, rhythm, rhyme etc.) and form (e.g. free verse) as well as language.

Key things to remember when writing essays

  1. 1 All essays should be well planned with clear points. This will help to create a structured essay.
  2. 2 Introductions should clearly show they are answering the question.
  3. 3 Each paragraph should ideally begin with a topic sentence which addresses the question, evidence from the poem/s to support the point (with quotes embedded), and detailed analysis using technical terminology. This can be known as P.E.E (Point, Evidence, Explain).
  4. 4 If relevant, some biographical information about Hughes and the influences on his poetry can contribute to an essay.
  5. 5 Some comparisons with other poems can develop analysis but remember to always adhere to the question.

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