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Higher Critical Essays Advice: Focus on the question fully. Select relevant quotation, contextualise and analyse fully (the analysis here is the working out in maths.) Use varied and sophisticated vocabulary/sentencing.
In the Critical Essay paper of the exam you have 90 minutes to write 2 essays. Before beginning each essay you should spend 3-4 minutes constructing a plan; this is invaluable and ensures your essay is structured and fully focussed on the question selected. It also prevents you from rambling as you have already thought of the main areas you will need to write about it so straight away you focus on answering the question, rather than story-telling.
Choose a poem in which the poet explores loss.
Show how the poet explores the emotion and discuss to what extent he or she is successful in deepening your understanding of it.
On your own you have 4 minutes to construct a basic plan – e.g. bullet points, spider diagram etc. This is the time you should spend on planning in the exam.
Discuss with a partner what areas you have focussed on and justify each area to them – why they would be needed to answer the ?
One of the main problems of critical essays is not enough analysis. For example:
Stage 1:The bravery of the Jews is illustrated by their strength to ‘stand upright as statues’ despite the horrific torture they have endured.
How is the bravery of the Jews conveyed through their comparison to statues?
Stage 3: complete Stage1+2 and you will then have created a detailed and analytical critical essay that will achieve a pass at Higher.
You must go through this stage to pass an essay.
This is an understanding point – it tells us what the quote reveals – the bravery of the Jews. This is fine but it must be linked to stage 2.
Every time you make a point in your essay (especially after using a quote) look over it and see if you have explained how that point is conveyed. After some practise – you should do this automatically.
Paragraph 2 – summary of loss in poem and why D focuses on (poet’s purpose)
Use of a Dramatic Monologue - D used to give these women a voice that was lost amidst the violence/oppression – main purpose of poem so these women’s lives/deaths can not be lost in obscurity/history.
Use of first person/present tense – conveys the central idea that today women are still being oppressed/ignored and D wants to shock us into reacting – does this through depicting the atrocities as they occur so we feel a sense of hopelessness surely what the Jews themselves felt, makes us engage emotionally with the tragedy of the victim, rather than perceiving them as a collective identity and not appreciating/realising what each of the six million Jews must have felt - gives the women back their voice which was lost during WWII.
(analysing poet’s purpose in conveying loss through the use of poem structure – DM)