Intermediate 2 English Critical Essay

Main body paragraph content

Context

In your essay you need to give a context. This means you to need to explain what is happening at that part of the text.

Do not give too much plot, but give enough in order to help your examiner establish what is happening.

For example:

"Poet Douglas, in stanza 1, looks around the battlefield that is now completely barren and clearly describes this ominous place. As the poet travels through the old battlefield a sense of desolation and fear is present and he labels the area."

This outlines what is happening and explains what the poet is actually writing about.

Evidence

No essay can pass in Intermediate 2 English without evidence.

Just like a lawyer needs evidence in court to win a case, you need evidence for your arguments to pass Intermediate 2 English. Quotes provide this evidence.

You need to have a range of quotes that back up your main points. Quotes must be relevant to the question and back up any comments or thoughts that you make. For example, adding the topic sentence, context and quote together would look like this:

Topic sentence: The eerie atmosphere is firmly established from the outset, Douglas’ sombre tone and vivid imagery give the reader a clear insight into the discomfortort of the place.

Context: Poet Douglas, in stanza 1, looks around the battlefield that is now completely barren and clearly describes this ominous place. As the poet travels through the old battlefield a sense of desolation and fear is present and he labels the area:

Quote: “nightmare ground”

The quote backs up what already has been said, yet can also now be analysed fully.

Analysis

In analysis you need to look at your quote.

Ask yourself, what can I say about...?

  • A particular word
  • An image - simile, metaphor, personification
  • Tone
  • Symbol
  • Repetition
  • Sentence structure

Imagine you have a rope. Throw the rope into the quote and pull specific features that stand out to you and make sense.

For example:

“nightmare ground”

  • What does this suggest?
  • What figure of speech is here?
  • What does this description make you envision?

Sample analysis: This metaphor implies the carnage of the event and of how it is indelibly printed in Douglas’ mind. The suggestion of “nightmare” illustrates his strong desire to escape from this war ground which is almost comparable to hell. He is so terrified that the place haunts his subconscious. It is clear that horrific events have occurred here and there is a lingering eerie atmostphere.

This is a brilliant piece of analysis with reference to the metaphor and connotations of "nightmare" which is relevant to the question.

Evaluation

The final element of a paragraph within an essay is evaluation.

Better candidates will evaluate continually in an essay - but what does this really mean?

Evaluation is asking yourself:

  • How effective has the poet/author/writer been?
  • Have they achieved their aim?
  • What techniques have they used?
  • How do I feel?
  • What have I learned on a wider scale?

Example:

We can clearly see how Douglas has been affected mentally by the war and that he is confined within a never ending nightmare that he cannot escape from. The reader begins to feel sympathy for the poet as we now know the anguish and distress he is going through and of how this place holds bad memories for him. The poet uses vivid imagery to convey how terrible war is and that it impacts profoundly on an individual. He is immersed in this eerie atmosphere and we are forced to think about the effects of war even after the battle has transpired.

Intermediate 2 english critical essay marking scheme

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Intermediate 2 english critical essay marking scheme

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