AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

This should be regarded as exclusively the views of AJB. It does not represent in any way official guidelines either of St Paul‘s School or the exam board. It might, therefore, cause confusion to other sets and should be exclusively for the use of 6ENX.

Common Sense / Exam Texts English and English Literature Revising English Unit 1: Non-fiction, Media and Information Exam Analysing Style Unit 2: Different Cultures, Analysis and Argument Persuasive Techniques Writing letters by Hand Literature Exams Writing Literature Essays Quotations Literary Terms Narrative Technique The Old Man and the Sea: Sentence Structure The Old Man and the Sea: Important Quotations The Old Man and the Sea: Style The Old Man and the Sea: Possible Passages Touched with Fire: background Touched with Fire: Possible Exam Questions Death of a Salesman: Tragedy Death of a Salesman: Some Significant Quotations Death of a Salesman: A Passage-Based Question Death of a Salesman: Some Further Ideas Death of a Salesman: An Overview of the Play Death of a Salesman: Play as a Tragedy (Essay) Death of a Salesman: What was Happening? Death of a Salesman: Various Bitty Notes Death of a Salesman: Willy Loman (Essay) The Old Man and the Sea: Some Ideas

3 4 5 6 10 15 21 22.1 23 31 34 36 41 43 44 48 49 50 51 63 64 66 68 77 82 85 86 90 93

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Don‘t waste time by copying out questions on to your exam paper. Just clearly label your answer with the question number—the correct question number... Don‘t waste time writing your name and candidate number on the answer booklets - do it after the exam when you are told to check that you have filled in all the necessary information. Don‘t waste time erasing errors—just hack them out. Keep your handwriting legible. Allocate time to each question according to the number of marks available for it. Pace yourself: always keep an eye on the time. If twenty-five minutes have passed and you are still on the first of your five main points, it is time to move on, even if there is still more to say about the first point. You can write notes on any of the exam papers, and it is often useful to do so. You will have rough paper to use for notes and planning—very useful for the first question on the non-fiction paper. Never finish an English exam before you are told to put your pen down. If you do, it means you either haven‘t answered the questions in sufficient detail or carefully enough. When you think you have finished, check your work repeatedly to make sure you haven‘t missed anything out.

You will be given in the exam new copies of Death of a Salesman, The Old Man and the Sea and the poem anthology, Touched with Fire. (This will take the form of the full original book with page references given on the exam paper.) You may not take your annotated books into the exam. This should not stop you from annotating fully your own copies of the texts as part of your preparation. They should be full of notes. You could underline or highlight words and phrases which are important. You should write explanations of particular words and note their significance. You could note at the top of a page any key events that happen on that page. It will be really important for you to know the books well so that you can find quotations easily in the exam. If you know on which page Biff discovers that his father is having an affair, or whereabouts on the page important quotations are, you will save a lot of time in the exam.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


Based on the speaking and listening skills that you have demonstrated over the two years.

- 1 hour 45 minutes exam - two exercises on reading media articles (20%) - one piece of informative writing (10%)

1. Imaginative writing (10%) 2. Othello (5% - same essay as for English Literature) 3. Poetry comparison (5% - same essay as for English Literature)

- 1 hour 45 minutes exam - The Old Man and the Sea (10%) - writing to analyse/review/comment (10%) - writing to argue/persuade/advise (10%)

- forty-five minutes - Death of a Salesman

1. Othello 2. ‗London‘ and ‗Westminster Bridge‘ 3. ‗The Black Cat‘ by Poe - one-and-a-half-hour exam - Touched with Fire (twelve poems) (25%) - The Old Man and the Sea (25%)

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

If you missed any lessons of note-taking or have lost your copy of a poem or any other notes, you must copy up them up from somebody else as a matter of urgency.


Revise Death of a Salesman and The Old Man and the Sea
Most importantly, re-read both of the books. I recommend making notes as you read, collecting ideas together on separate pieces of paper under the headings of different characters, themes or settings. This is a good way of gathering the raw material to structure into an essay questions and will help you to remember a wide range of points. Annotate your book to get to know where events and quotations occur. You could: - note down important events at the top of pages - highlight or underline important quotations - colour-code quotations according to character or theme Pick out some quotations to learn. This will save you time in the exam. Re-read your old essays (noting my corrections) and notes on the literature texts. There are a few reference books on Death of a Salesman and The Old Man and the Sea. By all means use them to help you, but do not rely on them. Only the original texts will give you all the information you need, and we have covered them very thoroughly in class. You should be aiming for a more ambitious understanding of the texts than York Notes offer.

2. Revise the Poetry
Copying out your notes again on clean copies of the poems can be a good way of drumming points in. I have emailed you all a Word document containing the full set. All the poems must be revised. You might think you know ‗Mushrooms‘ inside out, but if it is paired with a poem that you didn‘t bother to revise, your answer will be poor.

3. Other Useful Techniques
Learn thoroughly the advice in this booklet on answering exam questions. In particular, learn the list of stylistic features that can be found in non-fiction articles, and which you can use yourself. I very strongly recommend practising writing under strict timed conditions. This booklet includes almost all of the past exam questions, any of which you could answer and hand in to me during study leave. I will also give you non-fiction past papers. Look at the mistakes you have made in the past. Learn from them. Don‘t neglect spelling mistakes. Ask for help if you don‘t understand something or are unsure of how to improve. You can email queries to me or arrange an appointment with me.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


The exam contains three questions, all of which you must answer: Section A: Section B: Question 1: Question 2: Question 3: selecting information from one or more non-fiction articles analysing how information is presented writing to inform, explain or describe

All three questions are worth the same number of marks, so you should spend thirty-five minutes on each. Your answers to the first two questions will be based on two or more nonfiction texts that will be included in the exam paper. You will not have seen them before the exam. The syllabus makes the following distinction between ‗non-fiction‘ and ‗media‘ texts: Non-fiction primary purpose is to inform, explain or describe or to give an account of an issue or idea. It is likely to be based on fact rather than opinion. It might include letters, journals, autobiography, travel writing and articles from newspapers or magazines. Examples include the article describing a boot camp in America and the history of Disneyland. these texts are targeted to have an effect on specific audiences, often to persuade them to accept a point of view or to entertain them. They tend to be more emotive and biased towards the information they present, and contain a mixture of fact and opinion.


1 Selecting Information from Non-Fiction
(= what is the writer saying) The question will always ask you to extract information from one or more of the articles and to re-write that information in your own words (ie, a summary in disguise). For example, long ago we looked at a question which asked you to explain how a boot camp tried to educate and reform young criminals. First of all read the question carefully so that you know what to focus on in your reading. Identify the key words and decide exactly what information you are being asked to extract. Your summary must include points which address each part of the question. It is possible that some parts of the article/s will not be relevant to the question, and you will lose marks if you refer to them in your answer. For example, if the question asks for a summary of the way in which different inhabitants relate to their natural environment in North America, you will lose marks if you start talking about how the traveller writer of the article journeyed across the landscape and befriended the various groups. There are A* marks for inference. This is where a piece of information given may not be directly applicable to the question, but where there is sufficient evidence to allow you to deduce a relevant fact from that information.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

As you read the passage, make notes of what points to include. Aim for about twenty distinct points in total. Use your own words even at this stage. You will be unable to avoid using some individual words, but there are often alternatives that you can use. For example, a period of time (‗from five to six‘) could be expressed differently (‗for an hour‘). Don‘t get silly though; some words cannot be realistically altered: a ‗telephone‘ should be a ‗telephone‘ not an ‗audio-communications device‘. The question will ask you to write up the information in about three paragraphs. That means: a. b. you need to organise your ideas into three paragraphs with separate themes you need to be careful not to waffle — this is a type of summary

Before writing up the information, you should organise your notes (for example, using arrows, numbering or highlighting) into a logical order. Group similar items together, and avoid repetition. The question might help you to find a way to do this. For example, if it asks you to list advantages and disadvantages, you could write a paragraph on each. Make sure that similar points are grouped together as closely as possible within paragraphs. For example, in the boot-camp article, there are several points dispersed throughout about isolating the students from the outside world. They should be linked together within a larger paragraph on military discipline. This can often save you words. You should certainly not trawl through the article with a ‗first the writer says ... then he goes on to say‘ approach. The structure of the original article is irrelevant to this type of question. Similarly, if you are asked to select information from more than one article, it might well be better not to write about each article in sequence. There are often more sophisticated ways of structuring the information. Some students find it helpful to set up a hierarchy of bullet points in their notes, as in the example below for the unpopularity of school dinners. This can help you to organise information and establish which points are the most important to include (work from left to right). If length is spiralling out of control, generic names can be used instead of individual examples (eg. ‗electrical appliances‘ instead of ‗televisions, DVD-players, video recorders and laptop computers‘).
- unhealthy - often junk food - high in fat: chips, burgers, fish-fingers - very salty: baked beans, processed meat - when food is left on hotplates bacteria multiplies causing illnesses a, b and c - food is often cooked for too long, destroying vitamins x, y and z

- too many other activities at lunch-times: rowing, debating, orchestra, prep - uncomfortable in dining hall: - hard plastic chairs - forced to wear jackets in the dining hall

Write up the information. Be accurate, concise, logical and clear in expression. You must have the confidence to express an idea fully in a single sentence, and not lapse into a tendency of writing it again in a slightly different way to ensure that you have covered every angle of it. Don‘t be flowery. Use a fairly high register—certainly no slang. This is not the place to show off your essay-writing skills. Do not write an introduction or conclusion. Be precise with your choice of vocabulary. Here, as in every exam, avoid vague words and phrases such as ‗effective‘, ‗reacted well/badly‘, ‗positively‘ and ‗negatively‘.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Never quote in this part of the exam. Do not state your own views on the subject. If you think you have covered less than twenty good solid points then you must look back at the article for more information, and insert them into your writing at an appropriate point. Careful planning and timing are essential to success with this question, perhaps more than anywhere else in the English exams. Do not rush into writing.

A Few Tips on How to be Concise:
1. Cut phrases like ‗The writer says that‘ or ‘Jim Perrin says that‘ - just write it as if you are the writer. Eliminate wordy phrases, metaphors and similes. eg. lack of tastebud appeal fast food was the order of the day he drove like a bat out of hell at the end of the day it has to be admitted that Beckham isn‘t the sharpest knife in the drawer = = = = tasteless, bland fast food was popular he drove very fast Beckham is stupid


3. Sometimes phrases with nouns can be replaced with an adjective. eg. children from deprived families families on income support heavily subsidized by local Government = = = impoverished children poor families Government-funded

4. Information can be compressed by moving it in front of the noun eg. Tony Blair, who is Prime Minister Fred, a Spaniel three years of age with floppy ears is very badly behaved so was put down = = Prime Minister Tony Blair a three-year-old floppy-eared illdisciplined Spaniel

5. Use generic headings. eg. daily requirement of protein and energy = necessary nutrients

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

2 Analysing a Media Article
(= how does the writer say it) 1. This question will always ask you to analyse how an article is written. It might ask you to discuss one or more of the following: the purpose of the article (is it designed to entertain? to shock? to amuse? to persuade you to change your beliefs?) who you believe the intended audience to be the presentation of information in the article whether there is bias in the passage whether there are inconsistencies in the argument 2. Read the question carefully. You might be asked simply how the writer is attempting to persuade or entertain you. On the other hand, you might be asked how effective the writing is in persuading or amusing you. 3. If you are asked to identify more than one aspect of the article (such as content, layout and presentation) you must make sure you identify a range of points from each of these areas. You must answer every part of the question.

4. Read the article. The question will always expect you to talk about the techniques that the writer uses to make the article effective, so you should automatically look out for the techniques listed under ‗Analysing Style‘. You should learn this list so that you can pick out a wide range of points very quickly. 5. As you read, make notes on the article, use a highlighter or underline words. 6. Some articles will be packed full of the techniques on the list. Others will be much more subtle (and more difficult) and require you to look closely at the structure and logic of the argument in your response. 6. Organise your material logically, thinking about the paragraphs you are going to write. It is often a good idea to base a paragraph around a particular technique that is being used. For example, beginning with a paragraph explaining the purpose of the article, then examining the structure of the argument, then looking at how humour is generated, and then points about use of statistics.

7. Write your answer. Be as clear, detailed, logical and as thorough as time allows. Use formal English— certainly no slang. 8. You must use quotations from the article to support every point you make. Keep the quotations short. 9. Remember that for any technique you identify, you must explain its purpose and effect. Saying ‗Using X technique makes the article effective‘ will win you no marks. You must explain exactly what the effect is. Remember this by the ‗PEE‘ formula: Point Example Explanation (ie, technique) (ie, quotation) (ie, purpose and effect of technique)

11. If you are asked, you should express your own opinions, but be sure to back up your views with evidence.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

3 Writing to Inform, Explain or Describe
1. You will be given a subject to discuss. The subject is likely to be linked to the non-fiction articles you have read for the previous two questions. However, you do not need to make any reference to these articles in your own writing, and it is often better to ignore them. 2. Past questions have included:

‘What I’d like to know is…' A popular magazine regularly prints articles under this title, written by its readers. They describe examples of mysterious events, unexplained happenings or puzzling situations, and explain their own thoughts and views. Write the words of an article for the magazine. (specimen) You have to plan a charity event at your school or college. Write a letter to your Headteacher or Principal describing what the event will be and explain how you will ensure it happens safely and enjoyably. Begin your letter ‘Dear Headteacher…’ or ‘Dear Principal…’ (June 03) Some students from a school abroad are coming on an exchange visit for two weeks in your area. You have been asked to write a guide for them. Write the words of your guide, describing your area and explaining what they may, or may not, like when they come. (Jan 04) Write the words of an article for a school or college publication in which you describe an ideal school and explain the way you would like such a school to be run. (June 04) Your tutors have organised an outing to a local attraction (for example, a theme park, an activities centre) to celebrate the end of your GCSE exams. As your year group’s representative, write a letter to parents describing the attraction and explaining the arrangements for the trip. (The venue may be either real or made up.) Begin your letter, ‘Dear Parent…’. (June 05) You have been asked to give an informative talk to your class explaining some of the ways animals are of benefit to human beings. Write the words of your talk. (Jan 06) Write the words of an article for a teenage magazine in which you describe your own diet and explain whether or not you can recommend it on the grounds of healthy living, or enjoyment or both. (Jun 06) As a GCSE Speaking and Listening assignment, you have been asked to give an informative talk to your class about any activity which comes under the heading ‘Healthy Living’. Write the words of your talk, in which you describe your chosen activity and explain its benefits to a healthy life-style. (Jan 07) Write the words of a talk to your fellow students in which you describe a recent event that you believe will influence the future and explain why. You could choose to describe something personal or something of wider significance.(Jan 08) Write the words of an article for a teenage magazine in which you describe your best teacher explaining what and how your teacher taught you. Remember a teacher need not be someone whom you have met in school. A teacher may be a person whom you have met during leisure activities or, indeed, a parent or friend. (Jun 08) A family you know well plans to visit a place with which you are familiar. Write a letter to one of the family in which you describe the place and explain what they might or might not enjoy. Begin your letter ‘Dear’… (Jan 09)

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

3. It is likely that you will be asked to write in a specific style for a specific audience, as you will see from the examples above. For example, you could be required to write an article or a letter. (Note how they stress that you are being marked for the writing, not for setting out the piece with an address or in magazine columns.) It is vital that you make it obvious that you are fulfilling those specifications. 4. In your answer the examiners will be looking for: i. ii. iii. iv. v. vi. vii. viii. ix. x xi. xii. a striking introduction that captures the reader‘s attention straight away well-organised paragraphs with a sense of progression (so careful planning is needed before you start writing) connectives used to reinforce cohesion (see the list in ‗Essay Writing‘) a conclusion that emphasises your key points interesting ideas appropriate to the specified purpose of the article (although they will not be expecting you to be an expert on the subject of the article) appropriate to the audience, if specified a wide but appropriate vocabulary accurate punctuation, which might be used for effect (for example, exclamation marks, dashes, colons, semi-colons) an appropriate register (ie, that you are writing as formally or informally as you have been asked by the question) a lively, varied style (for example, you should use different lengths of sentences and paragraphs for effect) the tone is appropriate and sustained or clearly varied for effect a style which strengthens the points you make (for example, although this is supposed to be informative rather than persuasive, some of the persuasive techniques listen later might be useful here) accurate spelling detailed explanation of points with examples. These could be personal anecdotes.

xiii. xiv.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Below is a list of techniques which you should look for when analysing non-fiction articles (Unit 1). They are also techniques which you can use in your own writing in the exam, particularly the persuasive writing in Unit 2. bias structure Make sure you sift fact from opinion when analysing a media article. Are the arguments logical and therefore convincing? Follow through the construction of the argument. What sort of introduction is there: a shocking fact or anecdote? A summary of the arguments to follow? Is there a conclusion drawing together the arguments of the article or does the piece conclude with a provocative point to leave the reader asking questions? Is the register or tone formal, informal (look for slang and contractions like ‗it‘s‘ and ‗I‘m‘), biased, colloquial, humorous, serious, thought-provoking, informative, entertaining, authoritative, official, ironic, parodying, sarcastic, dramatic, tragic, aggressive, angry, provocative, argumentative, emotional, patronising, passionate? A formal register might be persuasive because it sounds as though the writer has an expert knowledge of his subject, whereas an informal register might be persuasive because it draws the reader into a friendly relationship with the writer. Many of the techniques listed below are used to create a tone or register. Does the tone vary? For example, the article might move from a comic example on to a serious point. This can prevent monotony and hold the reader‘s attention. On the other hand, it can show a confused purpose from the writer. vocabulary / language Look for things such as: - specialised vocabulary (scientific? official jargon?) - deliberately over-complex? - slang and colloquial expressions - over-simple, childlike language - foreign phrases - particular emphasis on certain words - incongruous choices - imperatives to instruct - emotive words to shock - 'poetic' through a concentrated use of metaphors, sound effects and perhaps archaic words

tone and register

Verbs can be very powerful by themselves (eg. ‗They waited‘) or when supported by adverbs. Look for imperatives instructing the reader (‗Eat fish!‘) or the more gentle and inclusive ‗let‘s‘ (‗Let‘s all eat fish!‘) How intense is the use of adjectives? They can be very powerful when used in threes. For example, ‗Britain‘s motorways are expensive, overcrowded and dangerous‘. What pronouns are used? The first-person singular ‗I‘ emphasises the reader‘s personal opinion, whereas the first-person plural ‗we‘ seeks to include the reader. The

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

third person ‗you‘ sets the reader apart from the writer, which could make the tone accusatory. Is there a tendency towards mono– or polysyllabic words? Short, direct vocabulary can be very powerful, while polysyllabic vocabulary can give the writer authority. sounds - assonance (repetition of similar vowel sounds) - alliteration (repetition of consonants) eg. of soft sounds of continuants (such as nasals (‗m‘, ‗n‘) and sibilants (‗s‘, ‗z‘, ‗sh‘)) or of hard sounds of plosives (such as ‗b‘, ‗p‘, ‗d‘, ‗t‘, ‗k‘, ‗g‘) Is the audience directly addressed to encourage its involvement? Is it flattered, pitied or criticized? Does the writer attempt to make himself sound like a typical reader or deliberately alienate himself? Short and sharp or long and flowing? Are they made more sophisticated by the use of subordinate clauses? Are there sudden changes in sentence length? Are they grammatically incorrect? They might omit a subject or verb to create greater emphasis on the object. For example, ‗A dangerous killer.‘ They might tail off to show uncertainty or allow the reader to use his own imagination to complete the ending — especially if the implication is that the ending of the sentence contains a thought too horrific for the writer to express in words. On the other hand an incomplete sentence might convey wry humour (eg. ‗Of course everyone believes in UFOs…‘). Sentences can also be fragmented to create emphatic pauses. Is there compression by use of noun phrases (such as ‗prime minister Tony Blair‘)? This would give the effect of a newspaper news article, where large amounts of information are compressed into small spaces. Is there any rhythm to the sentences? Are there accumulations of powerful and emotional words? How verbose is the style? For example, a writer might use ‗In this day and age‘ instead of ‗today‘ or ‗No one, rich or poor, will be forgotten‘ instead of just ‗No one will be forgotten‘. Is this used for effect or is it needless verbosity? paragraphs punctuation Can be varied in length in just the same way as sentences and for just the same effects, although a very short paragraph will have even more impact. Exclamation marks can suggest things such as strong feeling, surprise or attempted humour. Ellipses (…) (suggest a sentence tailing off, often conveying an ironic attitude to that sentence) and dashes (suggest an idea quickly tagged on to the end of a sentence) can be used to create the impression of spoken language. Inverted commas around a word imply a detachment from that word (‗lol‘). Where words are inserted as an aside in the middle of another sentence. For example, ‗Parenthesis—usually marked by brackets, dashes or commas—is often used when a writer wishes to qualify or add to a statement‘. It might give more of a spontaneous, conversational feeling to the article.




AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


This could involve words, phrases or grammatical structures. Be precise about the type of repetition. It could be a single word used consecutively (‗Education, education, education‘) or it might be a phrase repeated at the start of a sentence if a greater amount of information is to be stressed (‗We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air‘ (Churchill)). Repetition of an idea using different words. For example, ‗I myself personally‘. Is this used for emphasis or does it lose the impact of the sentence? A way of emphasising the extent of something, such as the number of risks or a hectic lifestyle. Words are arranged in order of increasing importance, often within a list. For example, ‗sun, sea, drinks, drugs and an uncontained crowd‘. A tricolon is a series of three similar clearly defined parts, emphatic through the accumulation of points eg. ‗veni, vidi, vici‘ (I came, I saw, I conquered‘) eg. ‗the suspect was stripped, forced to bark like a dog and subjected to the music of Christina Aguilera‘ This is an anticlimax. For example, ‗he ran up the stairs, thunder rolling around the house. A sense of dread built like black smoke in his mind. In haste he sped along the landing, breathless. He kicked open the door, ran into the room and slipped on the banana skin in the doorway.‘ You need to decide whether the anticlimax is being used for deliberate effect (often comic) or simply evidence of it being poorly written. What use does it make of metaphor and simile? Are they very complex? Do they stimulate the imagination or are they intended to make the ideas in the article clearer? Are they comically inappropriate? Are there any extended metaphors or common themes in the choice of comparisons? This is where a comparison is made for the purpose of explaining an unfamiliar idea or object. It tends to be extended further and for a more practical purpose than a simile. For example, ‗Knowledge always desires increase: it is like fire, which must first be kindled by some external agent, but which will afterwards propagate itself‘ (Johnson) Does the writer make use of hard facts, technical information, statistics or quotations from other writing, experts or witnesses to give himself authority as someone who has researched his subject? Does the writer use anecdotes to give himself authority through personal experience? Does the writer rely on hearsay or unsupported beliefs? Does it offer lively, comic or moving examples? Are there columns for easy reading, headlines (position? size? bold?), subheadings, diagrams, illustrations? All these things are likely to be used to emphasize a particular attitude to the subject matter. What are the most eye-catching aspects of the design? This involves choice of font and use of italics and bold print, both of which are ways of placing emphasis on a word.

tautology listing climax tricolon


figurative language



examples layout


AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


What impression do these seek to make on the reader of the article? Look at the expressions on people‘s faces, the way they are dressed, their postures. Remember though that the bulk of your response should be on use of language! Does the writer make use of wordplay such as puns, jokes, proverbs or well-known phrases? Does the writer use humour? Are the jokes good? Humour can imply balance and a non-hectoring approach. Tactics include: - characters‘ names - puns (‗a purrfect cat‘, ‗paw us‘) - adapting well-known sayings for comic effect (‗Hate thy neighbour‘) - innuendo - writing in a formal register, sounding detached or technical, and then creating comic surprise by following it with a colloquial or slang expression.

wordplay humour

hyperbole fears irony

Does the writer use exaggeration for emphasis? (Note that ‗hyperbole‘ does not take an indefinite article: a writer ‗uses hyperbole‘, not ‗uses a hyperbole‘) Does the writer play on our fears, prejudices, superstitions and beliefs? Always be on the lookout for it; it‘s often used to identify the most perceptive candidates. Note the two different types: verbal irony is where the opposite meaning is intended to the words actually used. For example, saying ‗you‘re so funny‘ to somebody who has cracked a poor joke. Irony of situation is where there is a discrepancy between expected and actual situation, often a twist of fate, such as laughing at somebody‘s disaster, unaware that you are suffering the same misfortune. Are there two interpretations of any sentences? Is it intentional or a stylistic flaw? This is a brief reference to a famous person or event, often taken from literature, history or myth. For example, ‗Plan ahead: it wasn‘t raining when Noah built the ark‘. It might be used by a writer attempting to show off his knowledge (and very easily become pretentious) or more familiar allusions might help the reader relate to the subject matter. For effect or a weakness? This is where the writer raises a question, and then answers it himself. It is a way of drawing the reader into the argument. This is where the writer raises a question, but does not answer it himself, implying that the answer is obvious and the writer‘s opinion therefore accepted by the reader. Are the characterizations interesting? Is the article engrossing?

ambiguity allusion

stereotypes and clichés hypophora rhetorical question interest

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

antithesis paradox

This is where a contrasting relationship is created between two ideas by joining them together. For example, ‗one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind‘. This is an apparently contradictory statement which, on closer inspection, reveals a truth which reconciles the conflicting opposites. A paradox may comprise only a few words or be developed throughout a text. For example, ‗I must be cruel only to be kind‘ (Hamlet).

Other tactics used in rhetoric:
1. anticipating an objection and answering it eg. ‗It might be argued that Henry VIII was being manipulated by Cranmer. However, Cranmer would not have….‘ 2. placing a good point next to a problem, in order to reduce the impact of the negative point eg. ‗True, he always forgets my birthday, but he buys me presents all year round‘. 3. 4. mentioning an opposing fact to prevent an argument from being one-sided pretending to ignore a point, thereby actually emphasizing it eg. ‗If you were not my father, I would say you were awkward old devil.‘ eg. ‗Let there be no mention of the terrible sufferings of the slaves‘

Also look at the list of literary terms, later in this booklet, many of which are also found in media texts.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

1¾ hours - 30% of GCSE English Section A: Section B: Question 1: literature essay based on The Old Man and the Sea Question 2: writing to analyse / review / comment Question 3: writing to argue / persuade / advise

All three questions are worth the same number of marks, so you should spend thirty-five minutes on each.

Section A: The Old Man and the Sea
The requirements of this question do not differ greatly from that on the literature paper, so refer to that section for further guidance. You will be given a choice of two questions: 1. A passage will be printed from the novel. The question will refer to an issue explored in the passage and will almost certainly ask you to discuss that issue in relation to the whole novel. Pay close attention to the wording of the question: sometimes the questions ask for closer analysis of the passage than others. Sometimes they begin with ‗Using this passage as a starting point‘ which I think is a harder question in terms of structure—see the literature section for more on this. Past questions include:
How does the writer capture the feelings of the old man as he struggles to get the fish to port here and in the rest of the novel? (extract from ‗Then he took two turns‘ to ‗the fight is over‘ (pp.68-69)) (Jun 05) How does the writer capture the determination of the old man to catch the fish, here and elsewhere in the novel? (from ‗God let him jump‘ to ‗before this day ends‘ (p.38)) (Jan 06) How far does the relationship between Santiago and Manolin here, at the end of the novel, confirm what you have learned earlier? (There are two passages: ‗I missed you‘ up to ‗… I still have much to learn‘ (pp.90 -91)) (Jun 06) What do we learn about Santiago from his thoughts and his conversations with himself here and in the novel? (extract is roughly from the top of p.75 to p.76) (Jan 07) How does Hemingway reveal Santiago‘s powers of endurance, here and elsewhere in the novel? (extract is from ‗For an hour the old man‘ to ‗‘Don‘t even speak of it‘ (p.63-64) (Jun 07) What do you learn about Manolin, here and elsewhere in the novel? (passage from ‗‖Santiago,‖ the boy said to him as they climbed‘ to ‗‖Between fishermen‖‘) (Jan 08) How does Hemingway capture Santiago‘s feelings about his role as a fisherman here and elsewhere in the novel? (extract from ‗He remembered the time...‘ to ‗... after it gets light‘) (Jun 08) In what ways is this an effective and appropriate ending to the novel? (Jan 09)

The passages tend to be rather shorter than those in the literature exam. 2. This will ask you to write an essay on a theme, character/s, setting or culture in the novel as a whole. Past questions include:

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


How does the writer describe the developing relationship between the old man and the boy? (Jun 05) How does the writer reveal the effects of a hard life at sea upon the old man? (Jan 06) How does the writer show what Santiago has learnt from his intimate experience of the sea itself, and of the creatures that live in and over it? (Jun 06) How is Santiago‘s view that the sea is ‗something that gave or withheld great favours‘ developed in the novel? (Jan 07) ‗I am only better than him through trickery,‘ says Santiago. How does the writer show the importance of Santiago‘s skills, or ‗tricks‘, in his pursuit and conquest of the marlin? (Jun 07) How does the writer capture Santiago‘s experience of a solitary life at sea? (Jan 08) The novel describes the events of just a few days. How does Hemingway increase the reader‘s understanding of Santiago and Manolin, by references to the past, to memories and to dreams? (Jun 08) Explore how Santiago‘s thoughts and feelings about the marlin develop in the course of the novel. (Jan 09)

The questions tend to have simpler wording than in the literature exam, but that makes no difference in your essay-writing. It is worth bearing in mind that the paper is entitled ‗Different Cultures‘, and questions might well be looking for you showing an understanding of Cuban culture. For example, a question might ask you to ‗Explore how Hemingway shows the traditional way of Cuban life coming into conflict with the modern world.‘ Key words used in questions include: ‗How far...‘ (which suggests that there are points to be made on both sides of the issue) ‗Write about‘, ‘Do you think‘ and ‘What are your impressions‘ (which are looking for your personal interpretation of the novel, although, of course, you should present your views in as impersonal manner as possible to give yourself greater authority). Note that the word ‗community‘ might be used, and would refer to the immediate neighbourhood of Santiago as well as a broader view of Cuban society—you would need to look at how events in the novel represent wider issues. See the list in the literature section for the marking criteria and features of the language to discuss.

Section B: Two Writing Tasks
With both questions, focus on tailoring your writing to the required purpose and audience rather than writing as much as possible. Allocate time for checking your work at the end. You are required to answer both questions, which will be based on a similar theme. This theme will be introduced by some trashy stimulus material like that below:
ALL MY OWN WORK „I did my son‟s coursework for him,‟ said David‟s father. „But his teacher only gave it a grade C. So when I saw the teacher at parents‟ evening, I complained. The next piece I did got a grade A!‟ MILLIONAIRE OR NOT? A man who won a TV quiz show has been accused of cheating. A spokesman for the programme said: „There was someone in the audience sending him signals. We have informed the police and we are not paying out any prizemoney until everything has been investigated.‟ HOW TO WIN More and more sports are finding that their star names are only stars because they have used banned medicines and drugs to improve their performances. FAKE QUALIFICATIONS „We appointed someone to be a senior manager,‟ says a supermarket boss. „She told us she had a first-class degree. When we found out this was not true, she just said, „If I can do the job, does it matter?”‟


AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


You may use any of this material in your answers if you wish, but equally you may ignore all of it. It will not affect your mark for better or for worse.

1. Analyse/Review/Comment
You will be asked to write an essay (ie, not a specific form such as a letter or speech) in which you are given a topic area to explore. Most of these questions are looking for balanced argument. Past questions include: Analyse one or more particular examples of cheating that you know of, and comment on why cheating is apparently common in some areas of life. (specimen) How important a part does money play in your life? (Jan 04) Do you think that the lessons we learn from the past make our present lives happier? (Jun 04) What do „winning‟ and „losing‟ mean to you? (Jan 05) What reasons are there to be hopeful for the future? (Jun 05) What changes could we make to improve the quality of our lives? (Jan 06) What have been the most important things you have learnt—in or out of school or college? (Jun 06) Comment on the relationship between human beings and animals. (Jan 07) How independent do you think you are? Do you want more or less independence in your life? (Jun 07) What have been the most important influences on your life? (Jan 08) How far does your own experience lead you to believe that men and women have equal chances in life? You could comment on your experience at home or in school, or your knowledge of the wider world. (Jun 08) How far are you able to balance work and leisure in your own life? (Jan 09) As you can see, you might well be asked to discuss a topic you may not have thought about before. You need to show you can explain the ‗why‘ and ‗how‘ of a topic such as money (‘analyse‘); you need to show you can place the issue in contexts and offer a wide-ranging overview of it (‗review‘); you need to show the ability to offer a thoughtful interesting opinion (‗comment‘). It is a mulling over of an issue, a thoughtful, reflective essay.

Guidance (mainly from JAS) for Answering this Type of Question:
If the question asks you to give ‗one or more example‘, I would suggest from reading the marking criteria that it is safer to give more than one, even if you choose to focus most of your essay on only one. However, it is best to explain one or two in real detail rather than three or more superficially. Presenting an example as a brief scenario or story can give you a useful context for your essential point. After describing a type of behaviour always analyse it—why do people behave in that way? Be as specific as you can with examples (names, dates and so on) to give yourself authority. Avoid simplistic generalisations: it's a dubious claim, for example, that people nowadays are more competitive / greedy / willing to cheat than they were in some idyllic past. What evidence might you provide to support such a claim? (The claim might be correct but it demands careful argument.) Be aware of complexities: cheating is obviously wrong so try not to repeat dull maxims about how ‗you‘re only cheating yourself‘, but instead be more adventurous and consider things like the possible thrill of cheating, the fact that cheats aren‘t often caught and so do frequently get away with dishonest behaviour, that cheats might not just be lazy creatures, but sometimes scared, inseAJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


cure, and wanting to please and achieve status of some kind. The topic will have been chosen because it‘s an area of debate: an intelligent response doesn‘t assume it‘s all highly straightforward, and tries to see an issue from different angles. This approach takes you into A / A * territory. Avoid overstatement: by exaggerating you lose control and authority, and make things appear more black-and-white than they actually are. It is not true, for example, that footballers are always trying to cheat: one player diving for a penalty in a match engages our attention precisely because we notice it and it becomes an issue; if diving happened frequently in a match it would seem less of an issue. Similarly, not everybody tries to cheat in French vocabulary tests. Have interesting opinions: it‘s obviously right and proper to think that cheating is wrong / disgraceful / appalling / self-defeating, but to say this in a rather flat way is not interesting since it‘s so predictable an opinion. Think complexity. Don‘t confuse easy, lofty moralising with careful, thoughtful analysis of motives and the possible difficulties of a situation. Use personal experience: this should help you to select examples and gives your writing some authority since you know what you are talking about. This should sound more convincing and engaging (it‘s you talking about something which affects you) than a half-remembered incident from the television I newspaper. If you can‘t really recall what exactly happened with the skier who had his gold medal taken away from him because there was some illegal substance in his asthma inhaler, then don‘t try to discuss it. On the other hand, the marking criteria mention ‗imaginative‘ response. Try to give interesting examples (how many essays do you think will be read on exams and football?) and try to think beyond the Pauline lifestyle (bearing in mind the examiner is unlikely to be as privileged). So ‗the quality of our lives‘ doesn‘t just mean no prep on a Friday night, but eliminating famine in Africa.

Here is some rough guidance as to the differences between the three types of writing:
‗Analyse‘: - more emphasis on how and why things happen than ‗review‘ or ‗comment‘ - identifying and explaining causes - examining the various factors involved in a situation - suggesting solutions to a problem - breaking down an issue into its components - suggests greater objectivity than ‗comment‘ - drawing together different components to look at a whole picture (ie, what is the state of British sport), whereas analyse is dissection (why exactly is British sport in such a state—identifying a list of causes) - describing something you have seen (for example, human behaviour, books, films, live event) or experienced (such as lessons, activities) - evaluation (identifying positive and negative aspects of something) - ie, probably more subjective than ‗analyse‘ - presenting examples and reasons - giving suggestions for improvement to the subject of review - giving reasons for your judgements - suggests responding with one‘s own opinion - agreeing or disagreeing with something that has been said or done - identifying what is right or wrong, positive or negative about a situation, activity or idea - offering reasons for your opinions - you could have a ‗comment‘ on use of drugs in sport



The marking will be based on things such as:
Length is not a marking criterion: the examiners want quality thinking, not pages of opinionated generalisation.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX



- a striking opening - a clear theme to each paragraph - logical development from paragraph to paragraph - connectives used to ensure a smooth flow between paragraphs (these are words like ‗moreover‘, ‗nevertheless‘ and ‗however‘ - see the tips on writing literature essays for more on this) - a memorable conclusion - paragraph length varied for effect - relevant to the question and interesting to read - detailed exploration of the topic - tone effectively sustained or varied for effect (for example, you could choose to be horrified, curious, amused or delighted by a state of affairs) - accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar - wide range of often sophisticated vocabulary - sentence length varied for effect


2. Argue / Persuade / Advise
This writing task focuses on presenting your own views in a way that will convince your audience. You will be asked to write something on the lines of a speech, article or letter. You will NOT be assessed for layout and presentation, and should not waste valuable time setting out an article in newspaper-style columns or writing an address. Indeed, you will be instructed just to ‗begin your letter Dear -‘. (However, you should know to start and finish a letter properly —see the information on doing so.). These tasks tend to differ from the analysis question asking for one side or the other to be argued, not balanced discussion. Past questions include: „Honesty is always the best policy.‟ Is it? Write the words of a speech to your fellow students, arguing your point of view. (spec) „Money can‟t buy happiness.‟ Write the words of a speech to your fellow students, arguing for or against this point of view. (Jan 04) Write the words of an article for your school or college magazine in which you argue about the value of visiting places such as museums, castles and heritage sites. (Jun 04) Your school/college is considering scrapping all competitions which have individual winners. Write a letter to your headteacher/principal arguing the case for or against the proposal. (Jan 05) „In the future we will all be slaves to things like personal stereos, computers and mobile phones.‟ Write a speech for a class debate in which you argue for or against this statement. (Jun 05) A valley is to be flooded to create a much needed reservoir and a watersport facility for a nearby city. A village in the valley will be submerged and its community will have to be rehoused. Write a letter to a local councillor arguing for or against this development. Begin your letter “Dear Councillor…” (Jan 06) A recent newspaper article has claimed that in the age of information technology we no longer need schools. Write a letter to the newspaper arguing your point of view. Begin the letter „Dear Editor‟. (Jun 06) „Zoos are of benefit both to animals and to people‟. Write the words of a speech to your class arguing your point of view. (Jan 07) Your class is discussing the topic „Always be yourself, no matter what‟. Write the words of a speech arguing your point of view. (Jun 07)

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

„The age of the individual is over. We are fast becoming clones of one another‟. Write the words of a speech to your class arguing your point of view. „Boys and girls should be taught separately.‟ Write the words of a speech to your fellow students arguing your point of view. (Jun 08) „All students should undertake a year‟s work in the community after taking GCSE‟s‟, a politician suggested in a local newspaper. Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper arguing your point ofview. Begin your letter: Dear Editor… (Jan 09)

Marking Criteria
The marking criteria are very similar to those for analyse/review/comment, so you should refer back to the previous page. They will certainly consider: Audience: you must make your writing appropriate to the specified audience. You will need to strike a fine balance here, as it you would be wise to show off your vocabulary and sentence structure to any audience, even if it comprises teenagers. Ask me if this is unclear. - Planning is essential: paragraphs must not be chaotic; it must be an organised argument. Don‘t forfeit accuracy or structure by trying to write too much. Do not repeat yourself. - an introduction that immediately grasps the audience‘s attention - perhaps about three main arguments, each in its own paragraph - a good paragraph structure is to make the point, explain it, then illustrate it. - a conclusion that might recapitulate your principal arguments or, better, give a final strong point expressed in such a way as to make it linger in the audience‘s mind how likely it is that your piece would persuade the designated audience to share your point of view? You might wish to use persuasive techniques to achieve this—see the following page for examples. Remember though, to use them with discretion, otherwise it will sound like a war cry and alienate the audience.



The individual types of writing can be distinguished by some of the following general features: ‗Advise‘: - giving instructions as to what somebody could do if facing a problem or situation. It might take the form of a leaflet or a reply to a letter. It suggests presenting information with the greatest clarity and simplicity. - you could separate points for clarity by using headings, sub-headings and bullet points - questions can be used as subheadings to help the reader get straight to something that concerns them (‗What is MMR?‘) - deal with a point in a single fairly short sentence - use the second person to address the reader directly - use vocabulary that your target audience will understand - There is a concern here about demonstrating your skill at English. One compromise might be to use sub-headings and bullet points whilst still using some complex sentences and vocabulary.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


- suggests much greater complexity than ‗advise‘: it will comprise a sequence of paragraphs linked into a coherent whole with connectives - more impersonal than ‗persuade‘ - suggests a greater emphasis on logic and reasoning (for example, identifying factual errors, pointing out failings in others‘ logic) than persuading - may involve reason but has a greater emphasis on playing on the audience‘s emotions and might use more dramatic, emotional and exaggerated language to provoke reaction—ie, more of the rhetorical techniques. Persuading could be involve anything from advertising, making an appeal, projecting a belief to promoting a place or activity.


You could use these techniques for the persuasive writing (Unit 2). You should also consult the earlier section of notes on ‗Analysing Style‘ for more ideas. Subtlety is strongly advised. Do not turn your writing into a manual of rhetoric. Indeed, your style will depend on the task: a letter to the high master might use rather fewer of these techniques than a speech condemning the Iraq war... subjectivity As a writer you need to decide on the degree of subjectivity you want in your article and how explicit you wish to make your own opinions: would subtly manipulative tactics be more effective than a bold declaration of your views, or are you aiming for the shock effect of the latter? Pay close attention to every word. The vocabulary must suit your audience. Sophisticated vocabulary will give you authority, but you must make sure your audience understands what you are saying! Be positive and confident – don‘t suggest that you might be wrong. Play on your audience's emotions - use emotive language and tear-jerking examples. Writers often try to make readers feel guilty. Alternatively you could flatter and bribe your audience to win its support. Decide first what attitude you wish to show towards your audience. You could use the second person at various points to create intimacy. For example, ‗We all believe that…‘ or ‗You have a chance of helping Britain if you…‘. This is often best used for positive points. Keep negative points impersonal. For example, ‗It is often said that…‘ Only to be used when the subject matter is effective. The drier the better.


confidence manipulation of audience addressing audience


AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


You could use some long sentences which list points. Giving a whole list of points emphasises just how many reasons there are for or against an issue. Be warned though: if your sentences become too long your reader will lose track of what you are saying. Use repetition of words, phrases and even sentences. Think of Martin Luther King and ‗I have a dream.‘ Short, sharp sentences can be very powerful. (eg. Martin Luther King: ‗I have a dream today.‘). You might also wish to show you intelligence by intermingling them with some rather more complex ones. Adjectives are particularly powerful when used in threes. For example, ‗Britain‘s motorways are expensive, overcrowded and dangerous‘. Exaggerate key points: ‗School uniforms are a form of torture‘ Using questions where you give the answer yourself helps to draw in your reader without risking leaving the answer for him to guess. For example, ‗Is John Prescott utterly repellent? Of course he is.‘ Here you show that you are confident that the audience will agree with you by omitting the answer. For example, ‗Are we going to tolerate this sort of thing in our society?‘ ‗We cannot let our children take the risk!‘ Alliteration (‗Build a Better Britain!‘) is often used, assonance less often. Headlines often use rhyme. Metaphors and similes can be used to make your writing more powerful or to help the reader understand your points. For example, ‗Tony Blair is a beacon of hope for Britain‘.

repetition sentence structure adjectives hyperbole hypophora

rhetorical questions exclamations sound patterns figurative language

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

There are two ways of starting and finishing a formal letter. Note every comma, indent and choice of word.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your concern about the windows in my house. However, I cannot afford double-glazing................. Whilst I would like to buy some………. Yours faithfully,

Jeff Bassett

Dear Mr Smiert,

Thank you for your concern about the windows in my house. However, I cannot afford double-glazing........... Whilst I would like……………. Yours sincerely,

Jeff Bassett

‘Dear Sir’ = ‘Yours faithfully’ ‘Dear Mr ...’ = ‘Yours sincerely’

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

The Most Important things to Remember
use the PEE formula for every point you make
P E E point example explanation (could be about a character, theme or a technique used) (a quotation or reference to a specific moment) (‗This shows that…‘, the effect of technique etc)

An essay can never be a mechanical exercise, and there are many different ways in which you can achieve this formula. The key point is that you always support an idea by referring closely to the text and that you always try to discuss the language in a quotation you have made, or explain why you have chosen that quotation to support your point. Here are some examples: 1. Say your point is that Willy is responsible for much of Biff‘s lack of success in life. You would then offer an example of Biff stealing the football, quoting how Willy was ‘laughing at the theft‘ and explain how this shows Willy‘s devotion to Biff caused him to fail to discipline his son. Another example: ‘Mushrooms’ uses a great deal of assonance of long vowel sounds [point] such as in the long ‘o’ sound in the line ‘Our toes, our noses’ [example] which conveys a sense of the long slow movement of the mushrooms’ growth [explanation]. Another example: Santiago’s hands are one of the most important tools of his trade and are mentioned regularly during the novel [point], beginning on the first page where their scars are described as being ’as old as erosions in a fishless desert’ [example]. This hyperbolic simile links the old man closely to the natural world and reinforces the fact that he has been ’ salao’ for forty days [explanation].



keep focussed on answering the question
You will enter the exam bursting with knowledge that you want to get down on paper, and the danger is that you will look at the question, see a key word, think ‗Yippee! It‘s an essay on Bernard‘ and start splurging out all of your knowledge on that subject without giving exactly what is being asked for by the rest of the question. So, discipline yourself: study the wording of the question and think about how to shape your paragraphs which are dealing directly with the key words in the question. knowledge into

You must use the actual key words in the question at regular points in your essay to show that you are being focussed (don‘t go mad though and use them everywhere!). You might have some very clever points that you want to show off, but if they are not absolutely relevant to the question, then you will have to ditch them. Particular risky areas are the poetry comparison (it is easy just to compare every aspect of the poems without focussing on the aspect specified) and passage-based questions from Death of a Salesman or The Old Man and the Sea (it‘s easy just to write everything about the passage).

don’t neglect the obvious points
Cover the basics (things such as who people are, what has happened that is important, how they feel about each other, their beliefs and so on) as well the more sophisticated points. Start with the basics.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

You will have two exams: a Drama paper which will take place directly before a Poetry and Prose exam.


45 minutes

20% of English Lit mark

Answer one question on Death of a Salesman out of a choice of three. The first question will print an extract from the play and ask you to discuss it in detail and to relate it to the rest of the play. This is often the best question to answer because its narrow focus helps you to give the sort of close analysis of language that the examiners are looking for. See the guidelines for such passage-based questions. These are the past questions:
In what ways does Miller capture the audience‘s interest and attention in this opening scene, and introduce some of the main issues in the play? (Extract is from the first line of dialogue to Willy ‘When the hell did I lose my temper?‘) (Specimen 2003) Explore the ways in which Miller builds up suspense here and brings out some of the main issues of the play. (Extract is from Howard ‗Sh! Get this now, this is my son‘ to Howard ‗but where am I going to put you, kid?‘) (May 2003) Explore the ways in which Miller makes this an effective ending to the play. (Extract is the ‗Requiem‘.) (January 2004) How does Miller‘s creation of this flashback scene contribute to the dramatic impact of the play? (Extract is from the stage direction Happy runs onstage with a punching bag to Happy ‗Let‘s box, Bernard!‘) (May 2004) Explore the ways in which Miller makes this a climax in the play. (Extract is from Biff ‗Yes sir! See, the reason he hates me, Pop‘ to Biff ‗You fake! You phoney little fake!‘) (June 2005) Explore the ways in which Miller makes this such a gripping and significant moment in the play. (Extract is from ‗I never intended to do it, Dad!‘ to ‘a question of the amount‘) (Jan 2006) Explore the ways in which Miller makes this a moving and significant moment in the play. (Extract is Willy saying ‗Look, it isn‘t a question‘ to Howard saying ‗I don‘t want you to represent us‘.) (Jun 06) How does Miller make this flashback scene such a dramatic and revealing moment in the play? (The extract is roughly from the top of p.33 to p.35) (Jan 07) Explore the ways in which Miller makes this such a moving climax in the play. (The extract is ‗The man don‘t know who we are!‘ to ‗that boy is going to be magnificent‘ (Jun 07) Explore the ways in which Miller creates such a fascinating opening to Act Two here. (extract goes up to ‗Willy, the house belongs to us‘) (Jan 08) Explore the ways in which Miller makes this such a dramatic and significant moment in the play. (Jun 08 ) (Extract is Act Two: ‗HAPPY appears at the door of the house.‘ To ‗BIFF: … the scum of the earth, and you‘re looking at him!‘).


The second question will ask you to write an essay about a character or theme. This will require you to select information from throughout the play. This question can be harder because it still requires you to discuss Miller's use of language in detail without a helpful passage to locate it. Examples:
What does Miller‘s portrayal of Uncle Ben add to the dramatic impact of the play? Remember to support your ideas with detail from the play. (Specimen 2003) How does Miller make the relationship between Willy and Biff such a dramatic and important part of the play? Remember to support your ideas with details from the play. (May 2003) Does the way Miller presents Happy encourage you to feel sympathy for him? Remember to support your ideas with details from the play. (January 2004) Willy calls Linda ‗my foundation and my support‘. Do you think that this sums up her role in the play? Remember to support your ideas with details from the play. (May 2004) ―Nobody dast blame this man.‖ says Charley about Willy at the end of the play. Does Miller encourage you to blame any-

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

one or anything for Willy‘s suicide? Remember to support your ideas with details from the play. (Jun 2005) Does Miller‘s portrayal of Biff encourage you to feel that he is an admirable character? (Jan 06) How does Miller‘s portrayal of Uncle Ben contribute to the dramatic impact of the play? (Jun 06) How does Miller‘s presentation of the Woman contribute to the dramatic impact of the play? (Jan 07) How does Miller make the difference between the characters of Biff and Happy so dramatic? (Jun 07) How does Miller‘s portrayal of Bernard contribute to the dramatic impact of the play? (Jan 08) How far does Miller‘s portrayal of Willy Loman encourage you to feel sympathy for him? Remember to support your ideas with details from the play. (Jan 09)

Do not answer the third question. It will ask you to imagine that you are one of the characters from the play and ask you to write your thoughts in that role. Example:
You are Linda waiting for Biff and Happy to return home after they have deserted Willy in the restaurant. Write your thoughts. (May 2003)

I have not prepared you for this type of question as I think it can easily lead you to disaster.

Notes on Technique
Your essays must be focussed on the question—this is enormously important in the marking: do not lapse into simply retelling the story or churning out any old knowledge. Think carefully about organisation. If, and only if, it is relevant to the question, aim to explore the more complex aspects of the play, such as the use of symbolism, music, set, Willy‘s ‗imaginings‘, the play as a tragedy and how it explores the ‘American Dream‘. Remember that it is a play—refer to it as such (not as ‗the book‘) and use ‗audience‘ (a singular noun) rather than ‘reader‘. Indeed, you should show your understanding of the genre and ‘dramatic effect‘, meaning its impact on the audience. Consider stage directions, for example. Avoid the word ‗flashback‘. In an interview at the National Theatre in 1991 Arthur Miller said ‗there are no flashbacks in this play‘. Instead, ‗if you think of something that happened years ago, as you‘re thinking of it, it‘s happening now. … the past keeps rushing forward.‘ That is to say, during ‗flashbacks‘ Miller takes us into Willy‘s mind, something he makes clear by overlapping past and present (for example, playing cards with Charley while Ben appears). Miller calls them ‗Willy‘s imaginings‘ in the stage directions at the start of the play. Make sure you explain briefly the phrase ‗the American Dream‘ when you use it. It‘s not a straightforward concept: for example, Willy has an ‗American Dream‘ of travelling across the country opening up new frontiers of markets and friendships in business, whereas Biff has a different version based on living in the countryside, asserting his independence as a farmer and passionately engaging with nature. Similarly, Miller presents dreams as destructive, on the one hand, as they can make you dissatisfied with what you have, but also necessary as, on the other, you can‘t survive life without them.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


Further Guidance For Passage-Based Questions
When answering a passage-based question, you will need to study the extract very closely and note on it as many points as you can find. You could look for some of the techniques listed for The Old Man and the Sea and the poetry, although remember the difference in genre. Spend about five minutes reading and annotating the extract and planning the order of your comments so that all the sentences will be making precise points and will be ordered and coherent, and you will have prioritised the most important points. If you are in control of where the essay is heading, it will make the writing experience less panicky. Before you write, make sure you haven‘t got muddled about where in the play the extract takes place: think carefully about what the audience already knows before this extract. Some things which you could consider include: 1. Look carefully at stage directions. These often show character by mood / body language / speed of speech / voice tone / physical positions. Spell out what the stage directions mean and what they point to. 2. Always look at the length of a given speech. Is one character dominating the conversation? Is there quick interchange? In a longer speech is something important / key to the play being spelt out? Silences? Pauses? Why is somebody NOT speaking at a particular moment? 3. How is the scene structured? Does it build up to a climax with increasing tension and simmering emotions, which eventually explode? 4. Explain any cultural allusions. Are there any details from America in 1949 which need comment? Willy, for example, complains about their fridge being broken: a fridge at this time was something of an upper-working class status symbol; Howard's tape-recorder represents cuttingedge technology of the day. Consider names, such as Studebaker, Goodrich, Red Grange, Ebbetts Field—we discussed all of these during lessons. 5. Look out for contrasts. For example, the contrasts of confidence and anxiety with Biff and Happy and Willy and Howard, or alternatively, Biff‘s realistic recognition in contrast with Happy's deluded optimism in the requiem. 6. Punctuation: Look for exclamation marks, question marks, dashes, ellipsis (... ). How do they point towards the mood of a character at any given point? 7. Address: is there anything about the way one character refers to another which is significant? 8. Link the passage to the rest of the play in precise but concise detail. To explain to your reader what is happening on stage you might need to explain to your reader events immediately prior to the extract (for example, when Willy is setting the seeds you should explain what recent traumas have driven him to this suicidal despair). Alternatively, to explain the significance of what is happening on stage, you might need to refer to later events— look out for ironies which you get second time around. Keep such points brief but precise, being extremely careful to avoid exaggeration and inaccurate generalisations. 9. The Death of a Salesman title and key themes are likely to emerge in the passage and should be discussed. Look for issues such as the American Dream, father-son relationships, self -knowledge, male ‗success‘, ambition, attitudes towards women. 10. Focus on key words: highlight and then write about them in detail: for example, the reference to ‗dream‘ in the requiem, or what Howard's use of ‗cracked up‘ in regard to Willy's state of mind suggests about his character and the difficulty of becoming successful in the business world. 11. Do not quote long sentences. Select the precise words and phrases relevant to your point.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Poetry and Prose

I½ hours

50% of English Lit mark

Answer two questions, one on the poems from Touched with Fire (Section A), the other on The Old Man and the Sea (Section B). There is a Section C based on non-fiction which you should ignore. Note that the exam paper will be very thick with each section will contain many questions on other texts, such as Opening Lines poetry and Opening Worlds stories. Just ignore these. Make sure you spend equal time on each question. It might be an idea to tackle the harderlooking question first while you are still fresh.

A. Touched with Fire
Answer one question out of a choice of three, all very similar in style. The first question will always print the poems, for the benefit of students whose teachers are so incompetent as not to provide them with the necessary texts. Past questions:

Explore the differing ways in which Heaney and Achebe memorably portray reactions to the death of a child. (Jun 06) Compare the ways in which the poets in ‗Piano and Drums‘ (Okara) and ‗Our History‘ (Dipoko), vividly evoke memories of life in a particular culture. (Jun 06) In what differing ways do the poets express their criticism of society in TWO of the following poems? (‗Telephone Conversation‘, ‗In Westminster Abbey‘, ‗5 Ways to Kill a Man‘) (Jun 06) Compare the ways in which the poets create vivid images of the power of nature in these two poems. (‗Hawk Roosting‘ and ‗Mushrooms‘) (Jan 07) Compare the ways in which the poets paint disturbing pictures of death in ‗Dulce et Decorum Est‘ and ‗5 Ways to Kill a Man‘. (Jan 07) Explore the differing ways in which the poets use particularly vivid words and phrases to communicate their thoughts and feelings in TWO of the following poems: ‗Digging‘, ‗Our History‘, ‗Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience‘. (Jan 07) Compare the ways in which Soyinka and Betjeman portray unpleasant women in these two poems. (Jun 07) What do you find particularly striking about the differing ways the poets use images to describe people in ‗Digging‘ and ‗Dulce et Decorum Est‘ (Jun 07) Explore the differing ways in which the poets appeal to your emotions in any TWO of the following poems: ‗Mid-Term Break‘, ‗Refugee Mother and Child‘, ‗Our History‘ (Jun 07) Explore the differing ways in which the poets (Brock and Soyinka) powerfully convey a critical view of human behaviour in these two poems. (Jan 08) Compare the ways in which the poets memorably create images of the natural world in ‗Hawk Roosting‘ and ‗Mushrooms‘. (Jan 08) In what differing ways do the poets bring to life the actions of the men in ‗Digging‘ and ‗Dulce et Decorum Est‘. (Jan 08) Explore the differing ways in which the poets (‗Piano and Drums‘ and ‗Our History‘ powerfully compare past and present in these two poems. (Jun 08) Explore the differing ways in which the poets use disturbing imagery to express power and violence in ‗Hawk Roosting‘ and ‗5 Ways to Kill a Man‘. (Jun 08) Compare how the poets portray a child‘s view of things in any TWO of the following poems: ‗Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience‘, ‗Digging‘ and ‗Mid-Term Break‘. (Jun 08) Compare the ways in which the poets (Owen and Brock) here use disturbing imagery to portray violent death. (Jan 09) Explore the ways in which the poets use humour to criticise people in ‗Telephone Conversation‘ and ‗In Westminster Abbey‘. (Jan 09) Compare the ways in which the poets create vivid pictures of people in ‗Refugee Mother and Child‘ and ‗Digging‘. (Jan 09)

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

When choosing a question or poems to answer on, play to your strengths and select the ones about which you feel most knowledgeable and about which there is the most to say. A rough rank order of which poems I would feel I had the most to say about would be as follows: I would roughly rank my preference for poems to write about as: ‗Hawk Roosting‘, ‗Dulce Et Decorum Est‘, ‗Mushrooms‘, ‗Digging‘, ‗Midterm Break‘, ‗Piano and Drums‘, ‗Our History‘, ‗In Westminster Abbey‘, ‗Telephone Conversation‘, ‗Refugee Mother and Child‘, ‗Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience‘ and ‗5 Ways to Kill a Man‘. In essays I have read answers on the ‗nature‘ poems have generally been better than those on ‗5 Ways to Kill a Man‘ - I think the humour in the satirical poems can be hard to explain. However, we are all different and you must write about what you feel most comfortable with. These questions will ask you to compare two poems. Essay structure is therefore vitally important here. You should not write one huge chunk on one poem, then another on the second poem. Nor should you alternate randomly between poems. You are being asked to find points of similarity and contrast between the two poems. When you swap from poem to poem, often between paragraphs, try to create links that make a smooth transition. Connectives are useful for this (see the later notes on essay style for examples), as are sentence structures on the lines of ‗While x shows y from the perspective of z, the reverse is true for a‘. ‗Whereas‘ sentences can be very useful too. During the main section of the essay you will obviously have to write a number of consecutive sentences on each poem at a time, in order to develop your ideas sufficiently. When identifying a point of similarity, take care not to overstate it. After noting a similarity, you will need to examine the point in greater detail to describe the limitations of that similarity. Comparison should sharpen understanding of the poems, not oversimplify them. Your introduction and conclusion should be very brief (because of the time constraints), but should always link the poems together. It is often effective to structure your essay by beginning with the basic similarity that has caused the examiner to link the poems together, and then to move on to points of contrast. An introductory sentence on the lines of ‗These poems have some similarities but also some differences‘ is utterly pointless, as is a sentence which just repeats the question as a statement. Impress the examiner by saying something specific about the similarity or difference between the poems. Use the conclusion to pin down exactly what the similarities and differences are in a nutshell, but without laborious repetition of previous points. If you cannot think of anything to write for it, scrap it: it is better to cover more specific points than to waffle. Take a little time to plan the essay. Do not just regurgitate your notes—examiners will always spot this. They are looking for students who can select, organise and present their knowledge of the poems in a way that is appropriate to the question. As part of your revision you should all consider the various ways in which poems could be paired. If you do not discuss form/style/the way the poems are written you will be severely penalised. Do not start the essay by leaping into complex points about technique until you have established the basic ideas in the poems: remember the logical sequence of WHAT > HOW > WHY. What do the poems say? How are they written? Why are they written in that way? However, do not leave all your points about poetic technique to the end. Major points about the form of the poem—that is things which involve the whole poem—should be left until the latter part of your essay. Small details of form, which might only occur once in the whole poem, should be covered at the same time as you discuss the content. For example, if comparing 'Mushrooms' and 'Hawk Roosting' a paragraph comparing the length of the lines and stanzas would be appropriate near the end. However, points about alliteration, onomatopoeia and other sound effects are best diffused throughout the essay to support points on the content of those lines.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

The questions often contain the phrase thoughts and feelings, which asks you to look at the emotions created in the poem, as well as the ideas that lay behind the poem—the reason why the poet wrote it. The questions often ask you to talk about words or language, which is simply to encourage you to use very close analysis of the poem, using plenty of quotations. Questions often ask you to discuss images, meaning the metaphors and similes that a poet uses to describe something. You are often asked to explain the poetic effects, meaning techniques such as alliteration, assonance, onomatopoeia, rhyme, half rhyme, rhythm, line length, metre, stanza divisions and enjambement. Remember that a poem has a ‗speaker‘ not a ‗narrator‘. Remember inverted commas around poem titles—create a good first impression. Aspects of the poems which you could compare include: places and characters described events in the narrative, if the poem has one attitudes of the speakers towards their subject whether the poet is the same as the speaker the emotions that the poem seeks to create in the reader the intended audience language: figurative? symbols? connotations? sound effects? register? vocabulary? structure: does each stanza represent a stage in a story? is it a logical argument? do different stanzas offer different angles on a topic? is there a change in speaker? form: consider in particular the balance between elements which create regularity (rhyme, metre, regular stanza-length, end-stopped lines etc) and irregularity (enjambement etc). See the notes on literary techniques later on for more ideas.


The Old Man and the Sea

Answer one question from a choice of three: The first question will print an extract from the novel of perhaps about fifty lines. You might be asked to analyse the passage very closely. Example:
- In what ways does Hemingway‘s writing here add to your understanding of the old man and his relationship with the creatures of the sea? (extract from ‗During the night two porpoise‘ to ‘butchered her promptly‘ (p.34)) (Jun 05) - How does Hemingway create tension and excitement for you at this moment in the novel? (extract from ‘Just then, watching his lines‘ to ‘he is moving off with it‘ (pp.29-30) (Jan 06) - In what ways does Hemingway make this such a tense and exciting moment in The Old Man and the Sea? (extract from ‗They sailed well‘ to ‗Bad luck to your mother‘) (Jun 06) - How does Hemingway‘s style of writing here make this such a dramatic and exciting moment in the novel? (extract begins roughly at the bottom of p.77) (Jan 07) - How does Hemingway‘s writing here vividly bring to life the relationship between the old man and the boy? (extract from ‗The boy did not go down‘ to ‗I‘ll bring the luck with me‘ (pp.89-90) (Jun 07) - How does Hemingway‘s writing here make the old man‘s final battle with the sharks so dramatic? (from ‗He was stiff‘ to ‗make a dream you‘ve killed a man‘) (Jan 08) - In what ways does Hemingway make this such a moving ending to The Old Man and the Sea? (extract from ‗That afternoon‘ to the end of the novel) (Jun 08)

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

- ‗He‘s coming up‘ to ‗… my will and my intelligence‘. How does Hemingway vividly portray the start of the battle between the old man and the fish in this extract? (Jan 09)

If the other options are favourable, I would be inclined to avoid a question which asks 'Using this passage as a starting point, explore the ways...', because it is difficult to achieve a balance between close reference to the passage and the text as a whole. An example of this type is:
Using this passage as a starting point, explore the ways in which Hemingway portrays the hardships faced by Santiago in the novel as a whole. (using an early passage describing the poverty of Santiago‘s home-life)

Note that some questions require ask for simple analysis of the passage, while others place more stress on relating it to the whole novel. However, even in the former case you will need to refer to other parts of the novel to explain fully the passage! The second and third questions will be general essay titles. Past questions are:
- The old man thinks that being a fisherman is ‗the thing I was born for‘. How far does Hemingway convince you that the old man is right? (Jun 05) - Explore any ONE or TWO moments in the novel when Hemingway most powerfully creates in you sympathy for the old man. (Jun 05) - In what ways does Hemingway‘s portrayal of the boy affect how you feel about the old man? (Jan 06) - The old man identifies his weapons against the fish as ‗my will and my intelligence‘. Explore any ONE or TWO moments in the novel when Hemingway powerfully persuades you that the old man uses his will and intelligence successfully. (Jan 06) - The old man says ‗Fish, I love you and respect you very much‘. In what ways does Hemingway vividly portray the old man‘s thoughts and feelings about the marlin he catches? (Jun 06) - Explore any ONE or TWO moments in the novel when, in your view, Hemingway most powerfully conveys to you the pain of life as a fisherman‘. (Jun 06) - Explore any ONE or TWO moments in the novel when Hemingway most memorably brings to life for you the old man‘s understanding of the sea and its creatures. (Jan 07) - Explore any ONE or TWO moments in the novel when Hemingway makes you feel particularly sorry for the old man. (Jan 07) - A futile struggle? A triumph of spirit and courage? Which is closer to your view of The Old Man and the Sea? (Jun 07) - Explore the ways in which Hemingway vividly paints a picture of a fishing community in The Old Man and the Sea. (Jun 07) In what ways does Hemingway make the boy, Manolin, such an important figure in the novel? (Jan 08) - Explore ONE or TWO moments in the novel when Hemingway most powerfully compels you to feel sympathy for the old man. (Jan 08) - The old man thinks that he was beaten because ‗I went out too far‘. In what ways doe Hemingway persuade you to agree or disagree with the old man? (Jun 08) - Explore any ONE or TWO moments in the novel which Hemingway makes particularly exciting and dramatic for you. (Jun 08) - Santiago says, ‗I am a strange old man‘. How does Hemingway bring about Santiago‘s ‗strangeness‘? (Jan 09) - How does Hemingway‘s writing make you feel that the old man copes successfully with what seems to be a very lonely life? (Jan 09)

Questions will sometimes use a quotation from the novel as a starting point, as in the June 2005 task above. In such a case it is well worth discussing that quotation—especially its context—as your introduction.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Marking Criteria for The Old Man and the Sea
The examiners will be looking for you to: make the obvious points as well as the more sophisticated ones—trying to be too clever and missing out the basics of what is happening to give theories about Christian symbolism could severely depress your mark. make detailed reference to the text (ie, quotation needed throughout) refer to Hemingway‘s use of language and comment on its effects (ie, look at how the novel is written). This might include: 1 2 3 figurative language—metaphors and similes (which we know Hemingway uses rarely, so it is always going to be important—consider those on the first page, for example) symbolism (for example, the mast across Santiago‘s shoulders) point of view (When do we adopt the point of view of Santiago or Manolin? When are we given access to characters‘ thoughts? Are they reported or given directly in speech marks? Or are we just dropped into an interior monologue? Why are these changes made?) evidence of subjectivity in the narrator‘s voice (for example, the sail looks ‗like the flag of permanent defeat‘). To what extent does Hemingway project his own views through his narrator? use of dialogue, whether Santiago with Manolin, himself or imagined with the fish use of Spanish vocabulary—why does Santiago choose to switch languages for particular words and phrases? sentence structure: consider length, complexity, word order and use of active or passive verb forms. When and why does Hemingway use simple, compound and complex sentences? (see later notes on this.) Paragraph structure: consider length and organisation parts of speech: are sentences laden with adjectives and adverbs or do they use the simple power of a verb? Why and when does he swap between the two styles? What other parts of speech are used?


5 6 7

8 9

10 use of the five senses to bring alive settings 11 punctuation 12 repetition of words, phrases and sentences (what particular significance does ‗strange‘ gain as it is used over and over?) 13 synecdoche 14 irony (such as the tourists‘ misunderstanding about the fish at the end) 15 tension (what are the peaks and troughs? how is it created?)

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

examine structure: - plot (such as its degree of complexity), - flashbacks (such as the arm-wrestling) - the opening (generalised state of affairs or a specific scene? descriptive of setting or character? instant action? dialogue?) - the ending (ambiguity? clear moral?) - Consider how much time the story covers and how much text is used for each part: are there moments when hours are glossed over? Are there passages where a few moments are related at great length? Why does he do this?) be aware of the way in which Cuban culture is being presented, and especially the way in which it is changing. Learn the background information which helps you to understand, for example, Manolin‘s age and relationship with his father. Make sure you justify any points of which the examiner might be unaware, such as the criteria for deducing Manolin‘s age and dates. There is no point in endlessly identifying the same techniques as used in different parts of the novel; it is better to cover a range. You should also make sure that any point you make about style is strengthening a point about content which is related directly to the question. Do not let your essay turn into a shopping list of techniques. No question is going to specify that you talk about symbolism such as the Christian imagery, but if it is relevant to the question, you should explore it.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Read every question very carefully before you start writing. Pick out the key words from the question. They will help you plan your essay. Resist the urge to regurgitate essays you have written in the past, even if the wording seems similar. It is VITAL to answer precisely and fully the question asked. Decide which are the most important points and examples for exploring the question, so that you tackle the major mark-winning points first. Make sure that you know where the essay is going before you start it. Jot down brief paragraph headings, so that you can make sure they are in a logical order. Don‘t waste time copying out huge quotations for a plan. In the poetry essay you should have identified your principal points of similarity or contrast before you start writing. Having a clear outline of your essay in your head as you write should help you to relax when you write.

Writing the Essay
To repeat: answer the exact question. Use the key words from the question fairly regularly and at key points to remind the examiner that you are answering the question directly. For example, if the question asks ‗How does Hemingway create sympathy for the old man in this extract?‘ any answer must keep referring back to the idea of sympathy. For example, ‗Hemingway creates sympathy for the old man by showing the poverty of his home life.‘ That does not mean you should become overzealous: an essay that uses the exact phrase ‗Hemingway creates sympathy for the old man by‘ over and over is going to become monotonous. Nor should you repeat yourself by making the same point at the start and end of a paragraph. Don’t ignore obvious points; your reader will become disorientated if you do not make the basic situations and themes clear, before making the most sophisticated points. Keep in your head at all times the PEE formula mentioned earlier. Quotations are vital and should be used to support all your ideas. You will not want to waste time hunting for them during the exam. During your revision mark clearly key quotations in Death of a Salesman and The Old Man and the Sea . For example, I would highlight Willy's 'you're my foundation and my support, Linda' and ‗‖I am a strange old man‖‘ in The Old Man and the Sea. Re-read the notes included later on using quotations correctly. Only quote words or brief phrases; a string of sentences, or a whole stanza of a poem is seriously bad news. Occasionally explain a word or a phrase in real detail, for instance, Willy‘s description of Bernard as ‗anaemic‘. This word implies: (a) Bernard is pale and dull from too much study (he‘s a ‗loser‘), (b) a contrast with Biff‘s energy and sporting prowess, and (c) a contrast with the wider ideal of virility and rugged independence which forms an aspect of the American Dream - so it‘s ironic later when Bernard is successful in business and sport (symbolised by his tennis racket). Always put a quotation in context: who is saying it? when? why?

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

It is pointless to mention the use of techniques such as enjambement if you do not explain why the writer has employed them. Be as precise as you can: ‗to make it more effective‘ is utterly banned and ‗to add emphasis‘ is permitted only as a last resort. The following applies especially for the poetry and passage-based questions: don‘t just list technical features that appear in the poem. The examiners are not looking for someone who can reel off words like ‗sibilance‘ and a‘nthropomorphism‘. They are looking for understanding of the language. These techniques are important, but you must say why they are being used, and that will not make sense if you haven‘t already been explaining what the poem is trying to say. Avoid retelling the story; fill your essays with analysis. Always use the present tense when discussing events in the text. Don‘t use the first person. Be impersonal - it sounds more sophisticated and more authoritative. It also saves you time if you cut phrases such as 'I think that' and 'in my opinion'. Never write ‗It says...‘; it sounds very immature and suggests you are paraphrasing rather than analysing. Instead use phrases such as ‗Hemingway suggests that‘, ‗This phrase implies that‘, ‗The speaker notes that‘. The examining board wrongly italicises the titles of poems. You should place inverted commas around the titles of poems. Italics should only be used for titles of full-length works such as The Old Man and the Sea or Death of a Salesman. When italics are not available you should underline or use inverted commas. Whilst ensuring you show your knowledge of the whole text, focus on one central example or passage to illustrate each important point. For example, what is this character‘s big speech or defining moment in the play/novel? This provides variation from lots of brief examples and illustrates that you have the skill to perform close analysis. Be precise with your language. Use the correct terminology: 'novel' is better than 'book', 'the refrigerator represents' is better than 'the fridge stands for', 'the protagonist' is better than 'the main character'. Don‘t use abbreviations such as ‗eg‘ and ‗ie‘; write out in full ‗for example‘ or ‗that is‘. ‗etc‘ is lazily not bothering to list all your points, so is utterly banned. Dashes and contractions (such as ‗can‘t‘) are lazy too. Vary your language. Don't start every paragraph with the same phrases (such as 'Another interpretation of the flute is...'). Don't start all your sentences with 'This shows that...' Time will be tight. Make sure you cover all the main points relevant to a question, rather than spending an excessive amount of time on just one theme. One way of coping with the time constraints is to leave a few lines at the end of paragraphs in order to flesh out the point further if you have time at the end of the exam. This can, however, hamper the fluency of the essay, and you can always use an asterisk to insert more information. Do not write things that you haven‘t fully understood yourself because it will not make sense. Better to cover the essentials and what you are confident rather than try to cover a halfremembered half-understood point from a year ago. You do not have to give exactly equal attention to both poems in an answer. No examiner would expect you to have as much to say about ‗Refugee Mother and Child‘ as ‗Mid-Term Break‘ or ‗5 Ways to Kill a Man‘ as ‗In Westminster Abbey‘. However, you should make sure that you have covered both poems thoroughly and offered complex stylistic points for both. Show an awareness of a character‘s complexity. For example, is Linda in some kind of denial about Willy‘s true state of mind, or does she know the truth but think the best way to survive is to

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

ignore the problem? How could you find evidence for both points of view? When discussing a character as designated in the question, link him/her to the wider world of the play/novel. For example, a discussion of Linda should involve the contrast with the Woman, and a sense of why she is hostile towards and frightened of Uncle Ben. Solid examples of a character‘s behaviour is necessary, but you need to be more wide-ranging to get an A*. Keep all introductions and conclusions very brief and to the point. There is no time to ease your reader gently into the essay. Vague sentences such as 'There are many similarities and differences' will earn you no marks. First impressions are important in exams. If you have nothing significant to say, then don‘t bother with an introduction or conclusion.

Introductions are always the hardest part of an essay to write. They will depend on the question there are no absolute rules for writing an introduction. It is better not to bother with an introduction if you have nothing specific to say. The principal options available to you are: they can look at the wording of the question - are there ambiguous words in it that you need to explain? Or do you need to discuss the context and meaning of a quotation used in the title? they can state how you intend to answer the question (for example, are there two sides to the issue that you need to consider?), but should never be a list of the themes that you will cover in your essay and should not repeat what you are going to say in the main section can explain a basic situation before going on to analysing the causes or complexities of it can offer historical context to help us understand a character (but please no lengthy history lesson….) they should open up the question for analysis, not give an answer to it—save that for the conclusion. Introductions for the poetry comparison should link the two texts, while those for passagebased questions should briefly explain the context of the passage in the whole text. do not quote or give minute details here

Main Section
Look very closely at language Always make a point, then back it up with a quotation or example and explain that quotation Avoid simply re-telling the story or paraphrasing a poem. Keep one theme to a paragraph. Refer to both what the writer says and how he says it, preferably together. Each paragraph should flow logically on to the next. Linking words and phrases help with this.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Ways of starting new paragraphs/sentences to link them to the one before: Adding a similar or stronger point: Furthermore, Moreover, In addition, Indeed, Similarly, Indeed, In fact, However, On the other hand, Nevertheless, By contrast, This contrasts with Despite this, Therefore, This suggests that

Adding clarification to a point: Moving on to an opposite point of view:

Deducing and concluding:

Some of you are using conjunctions wrongly, particularly ‗whereas‘ and ‘although‘. These words cannot function like ‗However‘ or ‗On the other hand‘. They must be used to link two clauses in the same sentence. For example, this is wrong: Ralph is opposed to violence. Although he is involved in Simon‟s death. Use instead: either ‗although‘ in one sentence: or one of the connectives above: Ralph is opposed to violence, although he is involved in Simon‟s death. Ralph is opposed to violence. However, he is involved in Simon‟s death.

Conclusion Keep it brief and don’t bother with it if you have nothing significant to say. Return to the original question - avoid using quotations here. Don't throw in extra information that you have just remembered - slot it into the relevant earlier paragraph with an asterisk. It‘s a waste of time to list all the points you‘ve already made. Instead, try to widen your focus: what do the points that you have made tell us about the work as a whole? Make general statements without oversimplifying: if you've been carefully explaining how there are two sides to an argument throughout the essay, don't spoil it in the conclusion by suddenly dismissing one of them or making an oversimplification. Try to pin down exactly where the balance lies between the two sides. Link together the two poems again in a comparative essay. For a passage-based question you might want to explain how the passage leaves the reader prepared for the next events in the text, so that you are setting it back into context.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Quotations provide evidence to support the points that you make. Use quotations throughout your essay. Every paragraph, apart from the introduction and conclusion, should contain quotations. After using a quotation, particularly longer ones, you should discuss the language and ideas it contains.
For example, your initial point might be that Macbeth is particularly violent in battle. You could then write “The Captain describes how Macbeth „unseamed [Macdonwald] from the nave to the chops‟”. Here the meaning of the quotation is clear and needs no further explanation. However, if you chose to write “The Captain questions whether Macbeth and Banquo intended to „memorize another Golgotha‟”, you would then need to explain the significance of Golgotha.

Do not use overly long quotations. One sentence, clause or phrase is usually the ideal length. Pick out only the words which reinforce the point you are making. A quotation should be indicated by inverted commas. Neither italics nor bold print should be used. ‗…‘ (=ellipsis) should not be added to the start or end of a quotation. However, it can be placed within a quotation to indicate that words have been omitted. Example: Lady Macbeth says „Come, you spirits … unsex me here‟. The difficult part is fitting the quotation into your essay. Never just add a quotation to your essay as a sentence by itself. Examples of poor essay style: Sheila feels guilty for her involvement in Eva Smith‟s downfall. „I know I‟m to blame—and I‟m desperately sorry.‟ „Come, you spirits / That tend on mortal spirits‟. In these lines Lady Macbeth is calling on supernatural forces. You must fit the quotation into a sentence of your own either by: a. placing it after a colon at the end of a sentence. This is usually the case with longer quotations. This should be used sparingly as it can make the essay feel disjointed. b. integrating the quotation into the grammar of your own sentence. This is the more sophisticated approach and generally preferable. It keeps your own voice in greater control of the essay and increases fluency. You can often make it easier to integrate the quotation by omitting words or adding words of your own. It can be helpful to change a pronoun or the tense of a verb. Any added words should be indicated by square brackets. Example: Lady Macbeth calls on the spirits to „fill [her] from the crown to the toe top-full / Of direst cruelty‟. When quoting verse you should indicate a line break with a ‗/‘. Only quotations of three lines or more should be set out separately on the page.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


The sleeping, and the dead, Are but as pictures; ‟tis the eye of childhood That fears a painted devil.

Examples of effective ways of using the same quotation: (a) Sheila feels guilty about her involvement in Eva Smith‟s downfall and says „I know I‟m to blame—and I‟m desperately sorry.‟ (b) Sheila admits that she is to blame and says that she feels „desperately sorry‟ for contributing to Eva Smith‟s distress. (c) Sheila openly admits to her responsibility in Eva Smith‟s death when she says „I know I‟m to blame—and I‟m desperately sorry.‟ (d) The line „I know I‟m to blame—and I‟m desperately sorry‟ shows how guilty Sheila is feeling about her contribution to Eva Smith‟s downfall. (e) Sheila openly admits her responsibility many times. For example, she says that „I know I‟m to blame—and I‟m desperately sorry.‟ (f) Sheila feels guilty about her involvement in Eva Smith‟s downfall. This is shown in the sentence „I know I‟m to blame—and I‟m desperately sorry.‟ The most sophisticated of these are (b) and (d). Types such as (a), (e) and (f) can be used if you are having difficulty finding a more sophisticated way of embedding the quotation. Examples of correct ways of using quotations from Great Expectations: Jaggers instructs Pip that he should „Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence‟ (p.330). Pip realizes how „Estella was set to wreak Miss Havisham‟s revenge on men‟ (p.299). Estella explains to Pip that “I have no heart—if that has anything to do with my memory” (p.234). When Pip sees Miss Havisham again he notices that „There was an air of utter loneliness upon her‟ (p.390). After Magwitch has been mortally injured, Pip discovers that his „repugnance to him had all melted away‟ (p.442). Pip makes a passionate speech to Estella in which he exclaims “You are part of my existence, part of myself” (p.359). After Pip‟s first visit to Satis House he becomes aware that „I was a common labouringboy‟. He feels that his „hands were coarse‟ and that his „boots were thick‟ (p.62). Pip describes his first visit to Satis House as „a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me.‟ (p.69)

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Some Terms for Consonant Sounds
plosive continuant nasal sibilance guttural consonants which are articulated by a build up of air in the mouth which is suddenly released. The sound cannot be prolonged. (eg. p, b, d, t, k, g) where the mouth is only partly closed, allowing air to pass through and the sound to be prolonged (eg. f, r, s, v) a type of continuant where the air passes through the nose only (eg. m, n, ng) used to categorise consonants sounded with a hiss (eg. s, sh) generated by back of the tongue against the soft palate (eg. g, k, ng)

Types of Vowel Sounds
Short vowels: bit, bet, bat, ago, put, run, dot Long vowels: beat, her, hair, too, saw, arm

Techniques Using Sounds
alliteration repetition of consonant sounds in a sequence of words (applied most often to repeated consonant sounds at the start of words) Plosive alliteration can give a very forceful effect. eg. ‗bottoms … behind blown empty bellies‘ Alliteration can enact. eg. ‗the wings of whipped butterflies‘ close repetition of two or more identical consonant sounds, but with a change in the intervening vowel eg. ‗slip-slop‘, ‗said rider to reader‘ repetition of similar vowel sounds close together eg. Soft fists insist on > short vowels for the seemingly innocuous Heaving the needles, mushrooms, give way to long vowel sounds The leafy to show their actual strength Short vowels sounds can often sound flat and lifeless. eg. ‘At ...ambulance arrived … and bandaged‘ But long vowels can also slacken rhythm. eg. ‗tired … Five-Nines that dropped behind‘. onomatopoeia where the sound of a words resembles the sound which it denotes eg. buzz, hiss, pop, ‗sludge‘, ‗whipped‘



AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

rhyme where the last stressed vowel and all the speech sounds following that vowel are the same. eg. ‗follow‘ with ‗hollow‘ Rhyme creates pattern within a poem, which can suggest a sense of order, regularity and certainty, often reinforcing the content. It also creates a relationship between words, perhaps to draw attention to their similarity, or indeed to their difference. It can work to humorous effect (eg. ‗Thy Sake‘ and ‗Thy Mistake‘). The closer the rhymed words, the more light-hearted, childlike, trivial or songlike the poem is likely to sound (eg. the first stanza of ‘Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience‘ makes what it is to come seem as if it is going to be innocuous). when two words almost rhyme, but the stressed vowel sound or the final consonants differ. a type of half-rhyme, where the consonants differ eg. ‗wage‘, ‗saved‘, ‗made‘, ‗face‘ a type of half-rhyme where the vowels differ eg. ‗lust‘ with ‗lost‘ when two words rhyme within a line of verse eg. ‗In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud‘ (Coleridge, ‗The Rime of the Ancient Mariner‘) eg. Counting bells knelling where the endings of words are spelt the same, but pronounced differently eg. prove-love the pattern by which the lines in a stanza rhyme, often represented by a sequence of small letters eg. abcbdd for ‗In Westminster Abbey‘ where a word is rhymed with itself. eg. ‘drowning‘ in ‗Dulce et Decorum Est‘

half-rhyme vowel-rhyme pararhyme


internal rhyme -



rhyme scheme -

identical rhyme -

stanza enjambement a group of lines of verse when the sense of a line continues beyond the end of the line eg. ‗speaking of / primal youth‘ eg. ‘I‘m / in my mother‘s laps‘ where the sense of a line is completed at the end of the line (can often be recognized by a punctuation mark at the end of the line) eg. ‗I am going to keep things like this.‘ eg. ‗Keep our Empire undismembered‘

end-stopped line

caesura (pl. caesurae) a pause within a line of verse, often indicated by a punctuation mark it can place extra emphasis on the word before or after it eg. ‗To be or not to be: that is the question‘ (caesura occurs at the colon) „A four foot box, a foot for every year.‘ (after ‘box‘)

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

metre foot

pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in verse the basic unit which, when repeated, forms a line of verse Most important types of feet: iamb trochee (u = unstressed; x = stressed syllable) ux xu (eg. ‗defeat‘) (eg. ‗listen‘, ‗rubber‘)

iambic trochaic -meter

Iambic lines tend to create upbeat or forceful effects. They are also closest to the natural rhythm of English language. Trocaic lines tend to be used to create a more depressing, lifeless impression. Terms for describing a line of verse: 3 feet 4 5 6 7 8 trimeter tetrameter pentameter hexameter heptameter octameter

iambic pentameter

Therefore, an iambic pentameter will be a line of ten syllables, alternating unstressed then stressed syllables eg. u x | u x | u x | u x | At two o‟clock our neigh bours drove u x me home.

trochaic tetrameter

A trochaic tetrameter will be a line of eight syllables, alternating stressed the unstressed syllables: eg. x u| x u|x u|x u Send white feathers to the cowards

blank verse inverted foot

unrhymed iambic pentameter where, within a line of verse, the metre is disrupted by a reversed foot, ie, a trochee where an iamb should be used, or vice versa eg. ‗To BE | or NOT | to BE: | THAT is | the QUEStion‘ (here the basic metre comprises iambs, but the ‗that is‘ is a trochee) The first foot of a line is frequently inverted to place greater emphasis on the start of the line. a sound of falling or trailing off created by following a stressed syllable with an unstressed syllable. Often used to give a feeling of energy draining or a depressing tone. eg. ‗wearing‘, ‗poppy‘, ‗temple‘ a unit of two lines, usually rhyming, and often used at the end of a poem to summarize or moralize eg. No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear. A four foot box, a foot for every year.



AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

quatrain free verse

a four-line stanza verse where the metre is variable and often highly irregular. This can be used to reflect chaos/disorder presented in a poem

Words placed at the start and end of lines will have extra emphasis placed on them.

Deviations in Metre
Deviations in the metre of a poem can show partial failure in trying to keep control over what one is saying. For example, ‗Mid-Term Break‘ is essentially iambic pentameter, but there are longer lines, suggesting that he cannot quite achieve the control over his emotions that he is aiming for. ‗In Westminster Abbey‘ mixes trochaic and iambic lines, perhaps hinting at some of the contradictions that lie behind what the speaker says. Or you could say that the last pair of lines in each stanza tends to be iambic, showing that she is more forceful with what are usually the most selfish parts of each stanza. Deviations include: shorter lines eg. ‗Pro patria mori‘ is half the length of the majority of the lines, placing greater emphasis on the final words, but also suggesting the emptiness that follows death or ‗mori‘

extra syllables many lines of verse feature an extra unstressed syllable, sometimes to make the line sound more naturalistic, but sometimes to give a sense of the verse breaking out of its constraints catalexis This is the omission of a final syllable from a line. It is often used to give a crisper, more forceful end to a trochaic line. eg. ‗Don‘t let anyone bomb me‘ - you could argue that this tetrameter is trochaic to make the woman sound spineless, but cut short with the ‗me‘ to stress her selfishness.

Other Important Terms
speaker remember: a poem is uttered by a speaker. Only use ‗narrator‘ for prose. Sometimes the speaker might seem indistinguishable from the poet (for example, ‗Mid-Term Break‘); other times the speaker is very obviously a distinct character (such as in ‗Hawk Roosting‘ or ‗In Westminster Abbey‘.) a paradox reduced to two words eg. ‗loving hate‘, True Lies a comparison between two different things, often recognized by words such as ‗like‘, ‗as‘ and ‗seems‘ eg. ‗Like the wings of whipped butterflies.‘ ‗sharp as a scythe‘ (The Old Man and the Sea, p.34) ‗seemed a rubber rolypoly‘ compares two different things by stating that one actually is the other eg. ‗I am the bread of life‘ ‗She has broken his heart‘ ‗And the gun-fire of conquest / The thunderbolt that razed the forest.‘

oxymoron simile


AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


a type of metaphor in which the part stands for the whole eg. ‗There were three new faces at the meeting‘ (for three new people) ‗hurrying feet‘ ‗the bumper knocked him clear‘ 1. where an abstract concept, such as ‘death‘ or a force of nature, is represented as a person eg. ‗Wisdom cries aloud in the streets; in the markets she raises her voice‘ (Psalm 1) 2. where inanimate objects or abstract concepts are given human attributes, particularly the powers of thought and perception eg. ‗The creaking boards protested against the storm‘ Note that the boards are still visualized as boards rather than a human form.



where animals or inanimate objects are given a human form or personality. Very close in meaning to ‗personification‘, and frequently treated as synonymous. Definitions tend to place more emphasis on the attribution of a specifically human physical form and actions than is found with personification. This term is generally used for the portrayal of gods and animals (eg. Kermit the Frog) as human beings. when the personification is limited to the attribution of human emotions, particularly when applied to the natural world eg. ‗The angry clouds in the hateful sky cruelly spat down on the poor man‘ ‗surprised April‘ ‗tired, outstripped Five-Nines‘

pathetic fallacy

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Narrative Technique

There is no such thing as an objective narrator. The narrator‘s very choice of material makes him subjective: if he chooses to describe Santiago‘s hands rather than his feet, he is being subjective. So, as critics, we need to identify the degree of subjectivity. How explicit does the narrator make his opinion?

Writers use a number of tactics to give the impression that we have adopted the point of view or perspective of a character. These include following the eye movement of that character, sharing a character‘s ignorance (for example, we do not know what Santiago‘s fish is like until he sees it himself), flashbacks (In order to increase his confidence, Santiago casts his mind back to his armwrestling contest with the negro, and the scene is played out before us.) and being given access to the character‘s thoughts.

Ways of Representing Characters’ Thoughts
The techniques below are quite sophisticated, and if you do not fully understand them you should not attempt to refer to them in the exam.

External Perspective
The narrator cannot see into characters’ minds and can only guess at their thoughts, perhaps deducing them from facial expression or actions. Santiago frowned at his left hand, suggesting that he was annoyed at its tendency to fail to help him. (Not used in the novel.)

Internal Perspective
1. The narrator knows what the character is thinking, but uses his own words to explain those thoughts. Santiago was frustrated by the tendency of his left hand to fail to help him. (Not used in the novel.) He loved them [the lions] as he loved the boy. 2. reported thought He thought, his left hand had always been a traitor and would not do what he called on it to do and he did not trust it. (Not used in the novel.)

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AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

If Hemingway had written this, his narrator would be reporting to us Santiago‘s own thoughts, but it would still be in the third person. It is the equivalent of reported speech such as ‗Fred said that he would go hunting‘. 3. free indirect discourse his left hand had always been a traitor and would not do what he called on it to do and he did not trust it. This is the same as reported thought, except that the ‗he thought‘ has been chopped off. Santiago‘s own thoughts are being given, but in the third person and one tense further into the past. Writers often use free indirect discourse to avoid repeating phrases such as ‗he thought‘. This is quite a difficult concept to grasp and if you are uncertain about it, you would do better simply to write something on the lines of ‗The narrator gives us access to X‘s thoughts‘. Remember that if it is in the first person or present tense, it is not free indirect discourse. 4. direct thought He thought, „My left hand has always been a traitor and will not do what I call on it to do and I do not trust you.‟ (Not used in the novel.) Like direct speech, we are given the exact words that Santiago is thinking. Therefore, anything after ‗he thought,‘ will be in the first person. Inverted commas can be used to mark off the direct thought—as with direct speech—but this can look clumsy. eg. Where did you wash? the boy thought. (p.14) he thought, „The birds have a harder life than we do‟ (p.20) 5. interior monologue My left hand has always been a traitor and will not do what I call on it to do and I do not trust you. (Not used in the novel.) If there is no ‗he thought‘ phrase or use of inverted commas, as with the example above, you could describe it as interior monologue: direct access into a character‘s mind, in the first person, with no comment from the narrator at all. This is used increasingly in The Old Man and the Sea, as Santiago‘s isolation grows. For example: What I will do if he decides to go down, I don‟t know. (p.32)

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AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Sentence Structure

Types of Sentences
1. Simple sentences These contain just one clause and no conjunctions. eg. Sasha was running.

2. Compound sentences These contain two or more simple sentences linked by coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or). Each clause in a compound sentence makes sense on its own, and all the parts are of equal importance. eg. Dominic was standing shouting and Sasha was running. Elliott heard who was on the ‘phone but turned it off. The teacher took the fragment of paper and intended to blackmail Rohan.

2. Complex sentences These contain a main clause and a subordinate clause. The subordinate clause would not make sense by itself and is giving extra information about the main clause, such as when, where, why, how and if the action in the main clause takes place. Time: Place: Purpose: Reason: Contrast: eg. when, while, as, before, until, after, since, once, when where so that, in order that because, as, since although, while, whereas

While Dominic stood shouting, Sasha ran to English. When Elliott heard who was on the ‘phone, he turned it off. The teacher took the fragment of paper in order that he might blackmail Rohan.

In The Old Man and the Sea...
Hemingway uses a surprising number of compound sentences… I am a boy and I must obey him. The old man had taught the boy to fish and the boy loved him. Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same colour as the sea. … but we often interpret them as complex sentences I am a boy so must obey him. The old man had taught the boy to fish, which made the love him. Everything about him was old except his eyes which were the same colour as the sea.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Important Quotations

The following quotations are in some way significant. How and why are they important? How do they relate to, and reflect some of the novel‘s key ideas and themes? The boy‟s parents had told him that the old man was now definitely and finally salao, which is the worst form of unlucky it looked like the flag of permanent defeat They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert Everything about him was old except his eyes and they were the same colour as the sea and were cheerful and undefeated the boy loved him “He hasn‟t much faith.” “If I cannot fish with you, I would like to serve you in some way.” His sunburned, confident loving eyes His hope and his confidence had never gone He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride “I am a strange old man” The old man carried the mast on his shoulder He was quite sure no local people would steal from him There was a picture in colour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and another of the Virgin of Cobre. These were relics of his wife But they went through this fiction every day. “Have faith in the Yankees my son. Think of the great DiMaggio.” “Anyone can be a fisherman in May” His shirt had been patched so many times that it was like the sail With his eyes closed there was no life in his face “You‟ll not fish without eating while I‟m alive.” “The great DiMaggio is himself again.” “I would like to take the great DiMaggio fishing.” “I have seen lions on the beaches in the evening.” “And the best fisherman is you.”

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

“There are many good fishermen and some great ones. But there is only you.” “But I know many tricks and I have resolution.” He dreamed of Africa when he was a boy He no longer dreamed of storms, nor of women, nor of great occurrences, nor of great fish, nor fights, nor contests of strength, nor of his wife. He only dreamed of places now and of the lions on the beach ... he loved them as he loved the boy

“Que va,” the boy said. “It is what a man must do.”
He was sorry for the birds Why did they make birds so delicate and fine as those sea swallows when the ocean can be so cruel? She is kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel. He always thought is the sea as la mar which is what people call her in Spanish when they love her. Some of the younger fishermen, those who used buoys as floats for their lines and had motorboats, bought when the shark livers had brought much money, spoke of her as el mar which is masculine. They spoke of her as a contestant or a place or even an enemy. Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready. Yet they are still good

“Agua mala,” the man said. “You whore.”
He did not remember when he had first started to talk aloud when he was by himself Now is no time to think of baseball, he thought. Now is the time to think of only one thing. That which I was born for. He did not say that because he knew that if you said a good thing it might not happen. “I wish I had the boy,” the old man said aloud. “I‟m being towed by a fish and I‟m the towing bitt.” He ... tried not to think but only to endure. I have no cramps and I feel strong Then he thought, think of it always. Think of what you are doing. You must do nothing stupid. “I wish I had the boy. To help me and to see this.” Then he began to pity the great fish he had hooked. But what a great fish he is and what he will bring in the market if the flesh is good. I wonder if he has any plans or if he is just as desperate as I am? “I wish the boy was here,” he said aloud His choice had been to stay in the deep dark water far out beyond all snares and traps and treacheries. My choice was to go there to find him beyond all people. Beyond all people in the world. Now we are joined together and have been since noon. And no one to help either one of us.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

But that was the thing I was born for Aloud he said, “I wish I had the boy.” “Fish,” he said softly, aloud, “I‟ll stay with you until I am dead.” “Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.” “Take a good rest, small bird,” he said. “Then go in and take your chance like any man or bird or fish.” “But I am with a friend.” “I wish the boy were here and I had some salt,” he said aloud “How do you feel, Hand?” he asked the cramped hand that was almost stiff as rigor mortis. I wish I could feed the fish, he thought. He is my brother. But I must kill him and keep strong to do it. He knew no man was ever alone on the sea. But a cramp, he thought of it as a calambre, humiliates oneself especially when one is alone His sword was as long as a baseball bat But, thank God, they are not as intelligent as we who kill them; although they are more noble and more able. There are three things that are my brothers: the fish and my two hands I wish I was the fish, he thought, with everything he has against only my will and my intelligence “I am not religious,” he said. “But I will say ten Our Fathers and ten Hail Marys that I should catch this fish, and I promise to make a pilgrimage to the Virgin de Cobre if I catch him. That is a promise.” “Blessed Virgin, pray for the death of this fish. Wonderful though he is.” But I will show him what a man can do and what a man endures I wish he‟d sleep and I could sleep and dream about the lions, he thought. Why are the lions the main thing left? I must be worthy of the great DiMaggio who does all things perfectly even with the pain of the bone spur in his heel Man is not much beside the great birds and beasts. Still I would rather be that beast down there in the darkness of the sea Do you believe the great DiMaggio would stay with a fish as long as I will stay with this one? he thought. I am sure he would and more since he is young and strong. Also his father was a fisherman. But would the bone spur hurt him too much? the old man, who was not an old man then but was Santiago El Campeon “I am a tired old man. But I have killed this fish which is my brother and now I must do the slave work.”


AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

I want to see him and touch him and feel him. He is my fortune, he thought. But that is not why I wish to feel him. the fish‟s eye looked as detached as the mirrors in a periscope or as a saint in a procession. But I think the great DiMaggio would be proud of me today. I had no bone spurs. But the hands and the back hurt truly. All I must do is keep the head clear With his mouth shut and his tail straight up and down we sail like brothers Then his head started to become a little unclear and he thought, is he bringing me in or am I bringing him in? I am only better than him through trickery and he meant no harm This was a fish built to feed on all the fishes in the sea He hit it without hope but with resolution and complete malignancy When the fish had been hit it was as though he himself were hit “But man is not made for defeat,” he said. “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” But I must think, he thought. Because it is all I have left. That and baseball. I wonder how the great DiMaggio would have liked the way I hit him in the brain? It is silly not to hope, he thought. Besides I believe it is a sin. Do not think about sin, he thought. There are enough problems now without sin. Also I have no understanding of it. Perhaps it was a sin to kill the fish. But then everything is a sin You were born to be a fisherman as was the father of the great DiMaggio And he kept on thinking about sin. You did not kill the fish only to keep alive and to sell for food, he thought. You killed him for pride and because you are a fisherman. You loved him when he was alive and you loved him after. If you love him, it is not a sin to kill him. Or is it more? Besides, he thought, everything kills everything else in some way. Fishing kills me exactly as it keeps me alive. The boy keeps me alive, he thought. I must not deceive myself too much “Ay,” he said aloud. There is no translation for this word and perhaps it is just a noise such as a man might make, involuntarily, feeling the nail go through his hands and into the wood I‟m sorry about it, fish. It makes everything wrong I shouldn‟t have gone so far out, fish I hope no-one has been too worried. There is only the boy to worry, of course. But I am sure he would have confidence ... I live in a good town He could not talk to the fish any more because the fish had been ruined too badly

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

I am sorry that I went too far out Maybe I‟ll have the luck to bring the forward half in. I should have some luck. No, he said. You violated your luck when you went too far outside. That was the last shark of the pack that came. There was nothing more for them to eat The old man could hardly breathe now and he felt a strange taste in his mouth The wind is our friend anyway, he thought. Then he added sometimes. And the great sea with our friends and out enemies. And what beat you, he thought. // “Nothing,” he said aloud. “I went out too far.” Then he shouldered the mast and started to climb And at the top he fell and lay for some time with the mast across his shoulder He had to sit down five times before he reached his shack he slept face down on the newspapers with his arms out straight and the palms of his hands up The boy saw that the old man was breathing and then he saw the old man‟s hands and he started to cry “He was eighteen feet from nose to tail” “There has never been such a fish.” “They beat me, Manolin,” he said. “They truly beat me.” // “He didn‟t beat you. Not the fish.” “But we will fish together now for I still have much to learn.” “You must get well fast for there is much that I can learn and you can teach me everything.” the great fish that was now just garbage waiting to go out with the tide “Tiburon,” the waiter said, “Eshark.” He was meaning to explain what had happened. The old man was dreaming about the lions

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Further Possible PassageBased Questions

‗He was an old man‘ (p.5) to ‗into strips for salting‘ (p.7) How does this opening introduce some of the novel‘s main themes and how is it typical of Hemingway‘s style?

‗He‘s coming up‘ (p.44) to ‗only my will and my intelligence‘ (p.46). How does Hemingway make this a significant moment in the novel? In your answer look at the way the passage is written and the way it relates to the rest of the novel.

‗You are killing me, fish‘ (p.67) to ‗Now I must do the slave work.‘ (p.69). In what ways is this an important moment in the novel?

‗But I killed the shark‘ (p.75) to ‗―You think too much, old man,‖ he said aloud‘ (p.76). In what ways is this passage typical of the novel as a whole? In your answer consider both its style and its content.

‗But by midnight‘ (p.86) to ‗I went out too far.‘ (p.87). How does Hemingway control our response to the Old Man in this passage?

‗They beat me‘ (p.90) to the end of the novel. In what ways is this an effective ending to the novel?

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Background Material for ‘Refugee Mother and Child’ - a selection of Madonnas

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Background Material for ‘Refugee Mother and Child’ and ‘Piano and Drums’

Like many African countries, boundaries were created arbitrarily in Nigeria by colonists, rather than corresponding to the areas occupied by specific ethnic groups. When Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960, the nation‘s economic situation quickly deteriorated, with tensions increasing between different ethnic groups. Civil War followed. When the Ibos of eastern Nigeria declared themselves independent in 1967, Nigeria blockaded their fledgling country, Biafra. The situation was worsened by one million Ibo refugees fleeing to Biafra in response to the deaths of 30,000 of their kind in the conflict with the Hausas. In three years of war, more than one million people died, mainly of hunger. In famine, children who lack protein often develop the disease kwashiorkor, which causes their muscles to waste away and their bellies to protrude. War photographer Don McCullin drew attention to the tragedy: "I was devastated by the sight of nine-hundred children living in one camp in utter squalor at the point of death," he said. "I lost all interest in photographing soldiers in action." The world community intervened to help Biafra. The Biafran crisis had a huge impact in the West; my parents even recall ―You look like a Biafran refugee‖ becoming a rather distasteful expression commonly heard. Only last night I was reading Ian McEwan‘s latest novel which lists Biafra alongside Chernobyl, Bosnia and the Falklands as crises that hit the West, but faded away (Saturday, p.32), evidence nevertheless of the way in which people vividly remember the refugee crisis.

The Nigerian writers Gabriel Okara and Chinua Achebe are of roughly the same generation, and both developed links with the West, whilst still advocating strongly traditional African culture. Okara and Achebe spent periods employed in broadcasting, and both used poetry to try to alert the world to the plight of the refugees, even if photographs like these achieved greater impact on their publication in Life. For example, Okara assisted relief efforts by giving poetry recitals in the States. AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX


Background Material for ‘Refugee Mother and Child’ and ‘Piano and Drums’

Chinua Achebe and the function of literature
Achebe is an Ibo Nigerian, born in 1930 into a devout Protestant family. He was a supporter of the Biafran government and has worked in both America and Nigeria. He has defended the use of the English language in the production of African fiction, insisting that the African novelist has an obligation to educate, and has attacked European. Achebe has defined himself as a cultural nationalist with a revolutionary mission "to help my society regain belief in itself and put away the complexes of the years of denigration and self-abasement." But Achebe has not stopped criticizing postcolonial African leaders who have pillaged economies. Unlike some African writers struggling for acceptance among contemporary English-language novelists, Achebe has been able to avoid imitating the trends in English literature. Rejecting the European notion "that art should be accountable to no one, and [needs] to justify itself to nobody," as he puts it in his book of essays, Morning Yet on Creation Day, Achebe has embraced instead the idea at the heart of the African oral tradition: that "art is, and always was, at the service of man. Our ancestors created their myths and told their stories for a human purpose." For this reason, Achebe believes that "any good story, any good novel, should have a message, should have a purpose."

Gabriel Okara and ‘riverside’
Okara is an Ijaw Nigerian. The Ijaw live the forests of Nigeria‘s Delta State and along the Niger River delta. They were one of the first Nigerian peoples to have contact with the West. They are now mainly Christian, but traditionally venerated their ancestors and water spirits. Drums played an important role in religious festivals. Interviewed in Nigeria‘s Daily Sun, 16/3/04, Okara commented: Ijaw man does everything of his in the water. He derives his livelihood in the river and other water-related things. His way of life is the water. That is his culture. BUT note he also says: I use universal imagery [rather than Ijaw-specific].

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Charles Causley: Background Material for ‘Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience’
Biographical Details
born 1917 in a Cornish town where he lived for most of his life his father was invalided out of the First World War, never recovered his health, and died of tuberculosis in 1924, a slow and painful death witnessed by the young Causley saw the effects of war on the shell-shocked in his home town soldiers

became familiar with the First World War poets after buying a collection by Siegfried Sassoon joined the navy in 1940, travelling the world for several years. the exhilarating and sobering experiences of this time gave him the subject matter for his first collection of verse Farewell, Aggie Weston (1951) which contained ‗Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience‘. Causley‘s style was frequently conservative, using tradition English verse forms (especially ballads, but hymns and folk songs too), stressing the national character of our poetry and the importance of popular forms in its inspiration this conservatism made him an unfashionable poet, but he did still find champions, such as poet Philip Larkin who wrote: Ah, CHARLES, be reassured! For you Make lasting friends with all you do, And all you write; your truth and sense We count on as a sure defence Against the trendy and the mad The feeble and the downright bad.

Quotations from Causley
"The mere fact of a poem appearing simple in language and construction bears no relation whatsoever to the profundity of ideas it may contain." In the introduction to his anthology Modern Ballads and Story Poems (1965), Causley confesses the basis of his fascination with "the ancient virtues of this particular kind of writing." The narrative poem or ballad, he writes, allows the poet to speak "without bias or sentimentality." It keeps the author from moralizing, but it "allows the incidents of his story to speak for themselves, and, as we listen, we remain watchful for all kinds of ironic understatements." ―I wouldn‘t be a child again. I don‘t know where the image of happy, laughing childhood comes from. They are a grim lot. You walk among them at your peril.‖

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Possible Pointers to Understanding ‘Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience’
Common Features of Ballads
narrative-based, with focus on often tragic events minimal descriptive detail, especially of setting little delineation of character an abrupt start simple language sparse/simple imagery dialogue often used in the story-telling fast-paced with an intensity and sense of immediacy to the narration frequently involve repetitions, such as of a line or a refrain originated in oral culture, although ‘literary ballads’ became popular often feature ‘ballad metre’ involving short lines, alternating four- and three-stress lines with an abcb or abab rhyme scheme

Dreaming of apricots, in English folklore, is said to be good luck. Apricots were long considered an aphrodisiac, and are used in this context in A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
Titania: Feed him with apricocks and dewberries, With purple grapes, green figs, and mulberries; The honey-bags steal from the humble-bees, And for night-tapers crop their waxen thighs And light them at the fiery glow-worm's eyes, To have my love to bed


Strong as Death
The phrase ‗strong as death‘ appears in the King James version of The Bible, which, as a Christian, Causley might have known. It appears in ‗The Song of Solomon‘ (8:6), a collection of erotic songs to lovers, which often mention fruit and scent, as well as sweetness of breath: Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett-Browning uses the phrase as well in one of her very popular sonnets:
My dear Belovèd, who hast lifted me From this drear flat of earth where I was thrown, And, in betwixt the languid ringlets, blown A life-breath, till the forehead hopefully Shines out again, as all the angels see, Before thy saving kiss! My own, my own, Who camest to me when the world was gone, And I who looked for only God, found thee! I find thee; I am safe, and strong, and glad. As one who stands in dewless asphodel Looks backward on the tedious time he had In the upper life, - so I, with bosom-swell, Make witness, here, between the good and bad, That Love, as strong as Death, retrieves as well.

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Hawk Roosting

The information below contains pointers towards Hughes’ intentions when writing ‘Hawk Roosting’, particularly in terms of the portrayal of the hawk as a godlike figure. Ted Hughes speaking in an interview with Ekbert Faas printed in London Magazine 1971:
The poem of mine usually cited for violence is the one about the Hawk Roosting, this drowsy hawk sitting in a wood and talking to itself. That bird is accused of being a fascist ... the symbol of some horrible totalitarian genocidal dictator. Actually what I had in mind was that in this hawk Nature is thinking. Simply Nature. It's not so simple maybe because Nature is no longer so simple. I intended some Creator like the Jehovah in Job but more feminine. When Christianity kicked the devil out of Job what they actually kicked out was Nature ... and Nature became the devil. He doesn't sound like Isis, mother of the gods, which he is. He sounds like Hitler's familiar spirit. There is a line in the poem almost verbatim from Job.

from The Book of Job
Some of the things which God says to Job when he is explaining his power to him: Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off, Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she. [Job 39: 26-30] This god also talks like the hawk: Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine [Job 41:11]

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Possible Exam Questions
I suspect that in the desire for completeness, a few of these questions are more precise and/or difficult than those that will appear in the exam. However, the phrasing of the questions is exactly as has appeared before. Use these questions to help you prepare for the exam: they are a good way of anticipating pairings and you should devise points of comparisons during your revision. However, remember that in the exam you must answer EXACTLY the question that appears; it is fatal simply to regurgitate a past essay. Be alert for the possibility of less obvious pairings appearing, particularly of an ‗African‘ poem with a ‗British‘ poem. Some questions offer you a choice of poems to answer on – usually three or four. Here I have added as many as could fit a question. I‘ve tried to put the best-written most likely questions at the start of each subsection. The Natural World Mushrooms / Hawk Roosting / Piano and Drums? / Digging? / Our History? Explore some of the ways in which the poets portray aspects of nature in ‗Mushrooms‘ and ‗Hawk Roosting‘. Both the mushrooms and the hawk are concerned with superiority over other species. Explore the ways in which the poets express the thoughts and personalities of the mushrooms and the hawk in these two poems. Several of the poets in this selection use aspects of the natural world in their poems to explore the actions and behaviour of man. Explore in which ways the poets use the natural world to express their meaning in TWO of the following poems: Hawk Roosting Piano and Drums Our History Mushrooms Digging Compare the ways in which Plath and Hughes depict the survival instinct in the natural world. (slightly too specific, I suspect) Childhood / Growing up Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Exp. / Mid-Term Break / Refugee Mother and Child / Digging Explore the differing ways in which the poets show young people learning hard lessons about life in ‗Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience‘ and ‗Mid-Term Break‘. Explore the ways in which, in ‗Digging‘ and ‗Mid-Term Break‘, Heaney reflects on his childhood experiences.

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Compare the ways in which the poets create memorable pictures of a child‘s experiences in ‗Mid -Term Break‘ and ‗Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience‘. What do you find interesting about the different ways in which the poets explore change in TWO of the following poems: Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience Mid-Term Break Digging (I think that ‘interesting’ in a question is dangerous wording and best avoided.) Compare the ways in which the poets express feelings about change in TWO of the following poems: Digging Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience Mid-Term Break Piano and Drums Our History Mushrooms Compare the ways in which Causley and Heaney most effectively express feelings about getting older in ‗Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience‘ and ‗Digging‘. Compare the ways in which the poets present their reactions to bitter experience in ‗Telephone Conversation‘ and ‗Dulce et Decorum Est‘

Africa Piano and Drums / Our History / Refugee Mother and Child Explore the differing ways in which Okara and Dipoko write about the effects of colonialism in their poems. Compare the way in which aspects of life in Africa are portrayed in TWO of the following poems: Piano and Drums Our History Refugee Mother and Child Explore the ways in which political upheaval has had an impact on the lives of Africans in TWO of the following poems: Piano and Drums Our History Refugee Mother and Child

War / Conflict Dulce et Decorum Est / 5 Ways to Kill a Man / Our History / In Westminster Abbey / Nursery Rhyme / Mushrooms What differing approaches do the poets take to racial conflict in any TWO of the following poems: In Westminster Abbey Our History Telephone Conversation Explore the differing ways in which the poets memorably convey the horrors of war in ‗Refugee Mother and Child‘ and ‗Dulce et Decorum Est‘.

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Compare the ways in which Owen and Achebe vividly portray the suffering caused by war. Compare the ways in which Owen and Betjeman respond to other people‘s attitudes towards war. Compare the ways in which Owen and Brock attempt to shock the reader in their descriptions of man‘s violence against man. Compare the ways in which the poets memorably convey reactions (or attitudes) to death in TWO of the following poems: Mid-Term Break Dulce et Decorum Est Refugee Mother and Child 5 Ways to Kill a Man Hawk Roosting Explore the ways in which the poets memorably convey attitudes towards war in any TWO of the following poems: Dulce et Decorum Est 5 Ways to Kill a Man Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience In Westminster Abbey Refugee Mother and Child Our History ? Explore the reactions shown in TWO of the following poems to the threat of invasion: In Westminster Abbey Dulce et Decorum Est Our History Compare the tactics which are used to achieve power by Plath‘s mushrooms and the colonists in ‗Our History‘. Consider the ways in which death affects the speakers in TWO of the following poems: Mid-Term Break Refugee Mother and Child Dulce et Decorum Est Explore some of the ways in which Owen and Achebe use poetry to create a powerful emotional effect on their reader. How do the poets convey to you their thoughts and feelings about patriotism in TWO of the following poems: In Westminster Abbey Dulce et Decorum Est 5 Ways to Kill a Man Compare the ways in which Achebe and Owen transform personal experience into protest poems.

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Attitudes to Different Cultures / Feelings about Society In Westminster Abbey / Telephone Conversation / Piano and Drums / Our History Compare the ways in which Soyinka and Betjeman present the two women in their poems. Explore the differing ways in which the poets write about cultural change in TWO of the following poems: Digging Our History Piano and Drums Explore the ways in which the poets create a contrast between cultures in TWO of the following poems: Piano and Drums Our History Refugee Mother and Child Compare the ways in which the poets explore their sense of alienation from their culture in ‗Digging‘ and ‗Piano and Drums‘. Compare the ways in which TWO of the following poems explore the relationship between the individual and his environment: Digging Piano and Drums Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience In Westminster Abbey Explore the relationship which is shown between the speaker and his cultural background in TWO of the following poems: Digging Our History Piano and Drums 5 Ways to Kill a Man (defamiliarisation of ideas in the national consciousness)

Satire / Anger In Westminster Abbey / Telephone Conversation / 5 Ways to Kill a Man / Dulce? / Mushrooms? Compare the ways in which the poets memorably convey strong emotions in TWO of the following poems: Dulce et Decorum Est Mushrooms Our History How do the writers of ‗In Westminster Abbey‘ and ‗5 Ways to kill a Man‘ effectively use humour to convey their attitudes? Explore the ways in which the poets use comedy to show their thoughts in ‗Telephone Conversation‘ and ‗Mushrooms‘. Compare the ways in which Plath and Betjeman make their speakers appear ridiculous to the reader.

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Creating a character In Westminster Abbey / Telephone Conversation / Hawk Roosting Compare the ways in which the poets memorably convey one person‘s unique viewpoint in TWO of the following poems: In Westminster Abbey Telephone Conversation Hawk Roosting Both ‗Hawk Roosting‘ and ‗In Westminster Abbey‘ are spoken by characters with distinctive voices. Explore the way in which the poets‘ use of language creates these effects. Explore the different ways in which the poets communicate their views of themselves in TWO of the following poems: Digging Our History Piano and Drums Telephone Conversation Arrogance Compare the ways in which ‗Hawk Roosting‘ and ‗In Westminster Abbey‘ present the arrogance of their speakers. Feelings about the past Digging / Our History / Piano and Drums / 5 Ways to Kill a Man Explore the ways in which the poets compare the past to the present in TWO of the following poems: Our History Piano and Drums Digging 5 Ways to Kill a Man

Relationships / Generations Compare the ways in which TWO of the following poems so effectively explore human relationships: Refugee Mother and Child Mid-Term Break Digging Compare the ways in which Heaney and Achebe memorably convey reactions to the death of a child in ‗Mid-Term Break‘ and ‗Refugee Mother and Child‘. Explore some of the ways in which the speakers compare their own lives and attitudes with those of other people in TWO of the following poems: Piano and Drums Our History Mid-Term Break Digging Dulce et Decorum Est

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Explore the ways in which the poets compare different generations in ‗Digging‘ and ‗Our History‘. Compare the ways in which TWO poems from the selection explore the feelings of one generation towards another. How do the poets‘ words bring alive for you the feelings of individuals towards their relatives when you compare TWO of the following poems: Mid-Term Break Digging Piano and Drums Refugee Mother and Child Other Explore in which ways the poets use imagery to express their meaning in TWO of the following poems: Dulce et Decorum Est Hawk Roosting Mushrooms Compare the ways in which ‗Digging‘ and ‗Refugee Mother and Child‘ suggest that writing poetry can play an important role. (Probablyt too hard as it requires background knowledge of the purpose of ‘Refugee Mother and Child’) Explore some of the ways in which the poets create sympathy for the speaker in TWO of the following poems: Mid-Term Break Digging Piano and Drums Telephone Conversation Dulce et Decorum Est Our History Explore the views and feelings expressed in ‗Dulce et Decorum Est‘ and ‗5 Ways to Kill a Man‘ and the ways in which the poets communicate their views and feelings to you. Explore the views and feelings expressed in ‗Telephone Conversation‘ and ‗In Westminster Abbey‘ and the ways in which the poets communicate their views and feelings to you.

Too Difficult to Arise:
Examine the ways in which the form conveys the poem‘s meaning in ‗Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience‘ and ‗Mushrooms‘ In these two poems different styles are used in an attempt to convey something to the reader. Compare and contrast the use of form in the two poems. > A question is very unlikely to refer just to form/style as it would exclude too much from the answer, particularly more straightforward points. Compare the ways in which poetry can give life in ‗Digging‘ and how the hawk can take it away in ‗Hawk Roosting‘. > A question is unlikely to be so precise in the similarity/difference it asks you to discuss. Comment on how successful the poet is in using this technique. > You will never be asked to assess the quality of the writing.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Compare and contrast the portrayal of the sea in ‗Nursery Rhyme of Innocence and Experience‘ and ‗Our History‘. > The focus of this question is too narrow, although it could be made into a point of comparison in a broader essay.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Elements of Tragedy

The list below contains what are regarded as the most essential or most common features of tragedy from the Greeks, to Shakespeare to the present day. Consider carefully which of these Miller has used in his play. a hero who suffers a fall and comes to a miserable end, usually, but not always, death the disaster is partially the hero‘s fault. He might have a tragic flaw, the ‘wrong dreams‘ (see p.58 for Willy‘s ideal), or some sort of blindness to the mistakes he is making (for example, never giving up the dream of Biff being great (even at the end Willy believes that Biff is going to be a success and doesn‘t realise that Biff wouldn‘t want him to kill himself) and his inability to walk away from his ambitions as Charley recommends (p.70)) external forces also come into play, often gods or other characters (Willy‘s children don‘t help him, although he made them as they are, whether through the moral values he instilled in them or the effect the discovery of the affair had on Biff), or the nature of society (Willy is sacked in a world where men must ‗add up to something‘ (p.96)be successful; there is social pressure to be successful in a world where no salary can ever be big enough (as Charley notes, p.106) and an obsession with fulfilling various models of the American Dream must involve suffering, often bringing understanding of his mistakes to the hero often a sense of inevitability (given by the play‘s title, the ominous hints that undermine the characters‘ optimism at the end of the first act, Bernard as a chorus-like figure warning of disaster) - the tragic hero has free will, the ability to change his actions, but he inevitably will continue to choose to make the wrong decisions usually highly-born, such as a noble, and often respected — but here we have a ‗Lo-man‘ whose wife says a man shouldn‘t be great to deserve attention

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Some Significant Quotations
Who says these quotations? Where do they occur in the play? To whom are they speaking? What is their significance within the play as a whole? he thinks I‟m nothing, see, and so he spites me. But the funeral ... Ben, that funeral will be massive. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory. A small man can be just as exhausted as a great man. Be liked and you will never want. Gee, look at the moon moving between the buildings. He had the wrong dreams. All, all wrong. He‟s a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. I can see it like a diamond, shining in the dark, hard and rough, that I can pick up and touch in my hand. Not like - like an appointment. I know you laugh at me behind my back. I never got anywhere because you blew me so full of hot air I could never stand taking orders from anybody! I realised what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been. I still feel kinda temporary about myself. I thank Almighty God that you‟re both built like Adonises. Because the man who creates an appearance in the business world is the man who gets ahead. I‟m a dime a dozen, and so are you. I‟m not a leader of men, Willy, and neither are you. I‟m not interested in stories about the past or any crap of that kind because the woods are burning, boys, you understand? There‟s a big blaze going on all around. I was fired today. I‟ve got to get some seeds, right away. Nothing‟s planted. I don‟t have a thing in the ground. In those days there was personality in it ... There was respect, and comradeship, and gratitude in it. It‟s Brooklyn, I know, but we hunt too. Nothing‟ll grow any more. The gist of it is that I haven‟t got a story left in my head. The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell.

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They time them so when you finally paid for them, they‟re used up. Why must everybody conquer the world? Will you take that phoney dream and burn it before something happens? Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream, It‟s the only dream you can have - to come out numberone man. Willy, dear, what has he got against you? You can‟t eat the orange and throw the peel away - a man is not a piece of fruit. You fake! You phoney little fake! You fake! Willy: I don‟t want a change! (p.6) Willy: You‟re my foundation and my support, Linda (p.7) Happy: all you really desire is to be outdoors (p.10) Happy: My own apartment, a car, and plenty of women. And still, goddammit, I‟m lonely. (p.12) Linda, people don‟t seem to take to me (p.22) Willy: There was the only man I ever met who knew the answers (p.30)

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Scoring Highly on the ‘Requiem’ passagebased question
Clearly this passage is unlikely to appear in the exam, but if you process carefully the points below, it will help you to make the right sort of points yourselves in the exam. Knowledge of the play was pretty good overall. There was a significant problem though with nearly every essay, in that you weren‘t addressing the question closely enough. Along with the PEE principle the exam board has highlighted this as the main reason for students underachieving. A lot of you just gave a close analysis of the requiem, and excellent though it was, face the risk of being severely penalised if you do not rework your material to be shaped around the question. There were two key words in this question and you should use them at various points in your essay to spell out that you are addressing the question. 1. ENDING – think about what loose ends are being tied up (or not), what ideas are being left in the audience‘s mind 2. EFFECTIVE – this is tough, but it is a word that might well be used in other questions. Some of you did use the word in your essay, but often in sentences like this ‗The ending is also effective because we see Linda is stunned‘. The trouble is that sentences like this don‘t explain HOW the ending is effective. You should be thinking along the following lines: the cruel irony that Willy has died just as he and Linda ‗were just about free and clear‘ from their debts - the irony reinforces the cruelty of the world in which the Lomans live Happy‘s determination to ‗come out number-one man‘ shows how he is following in his father ‗s footsteps – this is effective as it makes the audience realise that Willy is not the only person to be caught up in the rat race of capitalist society, that there is a new cycle, and that therefore the issues here could affect anyone the tension between Happy and Biff keeps the audience gripped even in these final moments (the best answers noted the stage directions) much of the scene is played at the very end of the apron, in close proximity to the audience, an increased intimacy which can make the audience feel more engaged with the characters the poignancy of a graveyard scene (especially when Linda is talking to the grave), and indeed the novelty of a previously unseen location – the first time the apron is used for a scene which breaks out of the set for the house without Willy‘s presence. We are no longer experiencing ‗The Inside of His Mind‘, and this use of the set emphasises that fact to the audience: Willy has gone. creation of a sombre atmosphere by other details such as the first line ‗It‘s getting dark‘ Charley has always appeared as a reasonable character in the play – the audience has grown to like and trust him, so when he makes his speech ‗nobody dast blame this man‘ the audience is more likely to accept the ideas he is conveying – the ending is effective if it successfully reinforces the key ideas of the play. Sympathy is created for Linda: she has suffered a great loss and does not even understand why Willy killed himself. Her belief in Willy‘s popularity has been cruelly shattered by the absence of guests. By creating powerful emotions in the audience at the end of the play, the play is more likely to linger in its mind. Linda‘s monologue at the end gives the audience more access to her thoughts than we have had elsewhere in the play, apart from when she angrily confronts the boys. The novelty is an effective way of engaging the audience‘s interest in what she has to say

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Biff‘s determination to live the sort of life he enjoys away from the city gives the audience some optimism, and shows that man does not have to be trapped by capitalist society – Biff has finally broken free of the feeling that he needs to succeed in the city

The best answers referred very closely to the use of language to reinforce the points made above: they considered the implications of it being called a ‗requiem‘ they looked at the varying length of speeches and sentences they looked at punctuation such as how an exclamation mark acts as a pointer to the emotions of a character they discussed the stage directions, especially for Happy they referred to the sound of the flute, and what it has represented previously in the play they commented on how the ‗hard towers‘ of the buildings come into sharp focus at the very end, reinforcing the fact that nothing has changed in society they explained the effect of repetition, such as Linda‘s ‗we‘re free‘ they talked about how characters addressed each other: ‗boy‘, ‗kid‘, ‗Mom‘

Most of you did well in relating the passage to the rest of the play. However, some of you were too vague. It isn‘t enough just to tag on to a point ‗and we have seen this all the way through the play‘. Instead you should give a precise example. So, if you are discussing Happy‘s attitudes towards his job, you should refer closely to what he tells Biff when they are in bed near the start of the play. The best answers made reference to Willy‘s speech about Dave Singleman and ‗the death of a salesman‘ – comparison between this and the reality of a poorly attended funeral is an obvious thing to do, as well as to discuss explicitly the importance Willy places in popularity in the rest of the play. In some essays there was a mistake in suggesting that Willy‘s death made Biff finally resolve to give up on life in the city. If you look at Biff‘s scene with Willy before Willy‘s death, you will see that he decides at that point to face up to the truth and tells his father that he will never be a success in the city.

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Some Further Ideas

Some Themes
dreams the family / relationships between parents and children popularity and success the destructive effects of capitalism and consumer society the business world competition masculinity the role of women self-deception / illusion and reality responsibility disillusionment / depression the nature of memory similarities/differences between past and present, and the influence of the past on the present failure to adapt to modern society

The word ‗dream‘ can be applied to the play in different ways. It might be a character‘s hopes and ambitions, which might correspond the American Dream (ie, beliefs shared by the nation), or it could be Willy’s ’imaginings’.

Hopes and Ambitions
Consider for each character: whether their hopes and ambitions have changed between past and present whether their hopes and ambitions change during the play where these dreams come from (parent? friend? social convention?) how important they are to the character, and why how realistic they are – how aware is the character of this? how they affect the way the character lives how they affect others are they purely destructive? Does Charley‘s ‗A salesman is got to dream‘ provide adequate justification? how convinced characters are by their own dreams how convinced characters are by others‘ dreams

Take care not to over-simplify. For example, when Happy says ‗That is what I dream about‘ (p.12) is he responding to Biff‘s vision of life on a ranch or the idea of the independence a ‗Loman Brothers‘ company would bring or a combination of the two?

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Willy’s Imaginings
The original title of the play was The Inside of his Head. This points us towards understanding that what are often called ‗flashbacks‘ are in fact, as described in the initial stage directions, ‗Willy‘s imaginings‘. Miller made this clear in an interview at the National Theatre in 1991 when he said, ‗there are no flashbacks in this play‘. Instead, ‗if you think of something that happened years ago, as you‘re thinking of it, it‘s happening now. … the past keeps rushing forward.‘ The older Willy is actually reliving these scenes as we can see when he starts talking to an imaginary Frank Wagner (p.60). Transitions from present to past also show this, such as when he is playing cards with Charley and starts to talk to Ben, or when Biff and Happy hear him calling out about simonizing the car before he drifts back to the actual event. Note the way in which these ‗imaginings‘ affect the whole structure of the play, and how as much of the dramatic tension lies in the gradual revelation of what happened in the past as the events unfolding in the present. Consider why Willy drifts into his memories at the particular moments he does. Look carefully at how the transition occurs if it is a passage-based question: are there changes in set/lighting/sound mentioned in the stage directions? Is the transition instantaneous or does it take some time to occur? We know that Willy is not always reliable: The ‗thousands and thousands‘ he sold quickly becomes reduced to ‗roughly two hundred gross‘ (p.210). His boasts of popularity (p.18) are disproved when he confesses ‗people don‘t seem to take to me‘ (p.22). Willy speaks of the thirty-four years he put into the Wagner‘s firm (p.59) while Miller tells us with curious precision that Howard is thirty-six (p.56). Is the whole story of having named Howard a fiction and as unconvincing as Willy‘s ‗big year‘ in 1928 (p.59)? Linda tells us he completes his thirty-sixth year in the company in March (p.39). Ben praises Willy‘s father as someone who ‗with one gadget … made more in a week than a man like you could make in a lifetime‘ (p.33) while Willy later reveals a less favourable opinion when he says ‗Even your grandfather was better than a carpenter‘ (p.43) to Biff. Therefore, we must question the reliability of his imaginings. Look for evidence as to which of the imaginings are distorted, exaggerated or completely invented. Consider why in each case. Look at how glimpses of the truth slip through the idealised scenes, such as Willy‘s tendency to ignore Happy and his rudeness towards Linda. How convincing do we find the ideal ‗death of a salesman‘ in the story of Dave Singleman? Even if Singleman phoned buyers from his hotel, he was still travelling from city to city by train at the age of eighty-four. What, if any, family did he have? ‗Singleman‘ suggests isolation just as much as independence.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

The American Dream
The American Dream is rooted in the original motives for the colonisation of America: 1. escape from the social hierarchy or persecution of the Old World 2. opportunism, whether to a. become a farmer, settling down on one‘s own land to cultivate crops such as tobacco b. become a pioneer, striking out to the West into frontier country, searching for effortless ways to make a fortune (consider the Californian gold rushes). From these the mythical figure of the cowboy arose: lawless, strong, self-assured, self-reliant, aggressively masculine, often misogynistic. These motives became embedded in the Declaration of Independence‘s ‗inalienable Rights‘ of ‗Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness‘. Probably the earliest definition of the phrase came in James Truslow Adams‘ The Epic of America (1931). He wrote ‗It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of a social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable‘. The ‗pursuit of happiness‘ inevitably realises itself as the acquisition of wealth, and thus the American Dream becomes increasingly linked to capitalism. Just as for the original settlers, Willy sees America as a land of opportunity (‗the world is an oyster‘ (p.27)) where anyone who grasps that opportunity can be like Ben who ‗started with the clothes on his back and ended up with diamond mines‘ (p.27). The pursuit of happiness through wealth inevitably leads to what Happy jokingly refers to as ‗an over-developed sense of competition‘ (p.13): in fulfilling one‘s potential, one inevitably has to become more successful than others. Thus, one‘s potential becomes measured by one‘s degree of success. Success can be measured by one‘s success in the competition to gain the highest possible position within a company (Happy says ‗I gotta show some of those pompous, self-important executives over there that Hap Loman can make the grade‘ (p.13)), or by one‘s wealth (Willy hopes to fulfil his idea that ‗a man has got to add up to something‘ by his ‗twenty-thousand-dollar proposition‘ (p.96)), but is demonstrated most obviously by being able to buy the most advanced consumer goods. Consider various motifs in the play: the cutting-edge technology of the tape-recorder, which to Howard already ‗You can‘t do without‘ and supplants his other technology-based interests of a camera and bandsaw. (Willy is terrified when he jolts the tape-recorder, showing how he is failing to keep up with new technology and – considering he is just starting to drift into a distorted replaying of a scene with Frank – perhaps offers a frightening prospect of a future where the past is accurately preserved. for Happy ‗my own apartment‘ and a car are two of the three things that he ‗always wanted‘, even though he still feels lonely. when Willy worries about the quality of their new refrigerator, he is consoled by Linda‘s defence of it being the one with ‗the biggest ads of any of them‘ (p.22). Twenty years later they are still paying for the same refrigerator, showing how far they have slipped in the competition for the latest gadgets (p.51). Willy now suggests that it wasn‘t welladvertised, suggesting that even in the past they were unable to buy the best.

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All may feel the pressure to succeed and a sense of inadequacy if they are unable to buy the best of everything: Willy has to keep face with Howard by saying of the tape recorder ‗I‘m definitely going to get one‘ and pretending that he does have a radio in his car. Capitalist society can lead to people being discarded when they are no longer financially useful. Willy‘s metaphor is apt: man is a piece of fruit whose usefulness can be consumed, reducing him to a piece of peel to be discarded (p.59) The necessity to outrun (metaphorically) one‘s colleagues causes an atmosphere of mistrust (Happy complains that ‗everybody around me is so false‘ (p.12)), resentment of one‘s superiors (Happy says ‗I have to take orders from those common, petty son-of-bitches till I can‘t stand it any more (p.12)) and corruption (Happy mentions bribes). Is there a change in how business is run between the past and present scenes in the play? Willy tries to suggest there is, saying ‗in those days there was personality in it, Howard. There was respect, and comradeship, and gratitude‘ (p.59). He also feels that Howard is inept and unappreciative (p20). However, there is little to suggest that business in the past was based any more on popularity than in 1949, even if there is a suggestion that he did have greater popularity in the past (p.39). Willy‘s obsession with the value of being ‗well-liked‘ (p.33) and ‗personally attractive‘, and his complete confidence that these attributes will reward their owner with material comforts (see pp.46, 58 (for the Singleman ideal), 63), does give him an individual interpretation of the American Dream, which usually views hard work as the key to success. Charley recognises this when he says ‗You named him Howard, but you can‘t sell that. The only thing you got in this world is what you can sell.‘ (p.72). It is this blind faith in his distorted understanding of the American Dream that leads to his tragic psychological collapse when he is unable to accept the disparity between the Dream and his own life. He senses that time and opportunity are running out (‗The woods are burning‘). Even Willy‘s interpretation of likeability is superficial, with him disliking Bernard because he considers him an ‗anaemic‘. Note that Willy has other dreams: as a man who loves the ‗great outdoors‘ (p.62), he wishes for a farm where he would build guest houses (p.51). He regrets the claustrophobia of his current house and the impossibility of growing anything in the garden. No great wealth or material objects are involved in this dream. going to Alaska. Ben speaks of ‗a new continent at your doorstep‘ (p.62), showing a nostalgia for pioneering. Willy ultimately rejects this, speaking of ‗the wonder of this country, that a man can end with diamonds here on the basis of being liked‘ (p.63) The Alaska option offers the ideal of true pioneering, the farm would cast Willy in the role of farmer. Instead Willy is left with an unsatisfactory mix of the two: he is rooted to property like a farmer (but neither owns it nor feels a sense of freedom in it) and is a pioneer in opening up ‗unheard-of territories‘ (p.39) (but neither comes by great wealth nor works independently). Note that any reference to these concepts of ‗farmer‘ and ‗pioneer‘ would need careful explanation in an exam.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Ben The ‗great man‘ (p.32) Ben represents one of Willy‘s ideals. He makes a fortune from nothing (p.27) and the way in which the process is described as simply walking in and out of the jungle makes it seem easy, even if Willy tells Happy that you can‘t succeed lying ‗on a mattress‘ (p.27). He is aggressively masculine (‗you can … fight for a fortune up there‘ (p.62)), has little interest in family, advocates deception (‗Never fight fair with a stranger‘ (p.33)) and despises bureaucracy, dismissing cities as ‗full of talk and time payments and courts of law‘ (p.62)). Unlike Willy, to Ben ‗talk‘ is pointless. Alaska and the African Jungle These regions represent the potential of financial success and have an exotic feeling to them (although their associations with Ben and Willy‘s father makes them less attractive), especially when compared to Willy‘s banal Brooklyn neighbourhood. They emphasise how Willy‘s obsession with the commercial world of the city has trapped him in an unpleasant reality. When Willy exclaims ‗the woods are burning‘ there is a sense that the jungle of opportunity is disappearing. Diamonds To Willy, diamonds represent tangible wealth and, hence, both validation of one‘s labour (and life) and the ability to pass material goods on to one‘s offspring, two things that Willy desperately craves, but which, having been obtained only by Ben emphasise. Willy‘s failure as a salesman. Despite Willy‘s belief in the American Dream, a belief unwavering to the extent that he passed up the opportunity to go with Ben to Alaska, the Dream‘s promise of financial security has eluded Willy. At the end of the play the diamonds become metaphorical: Ben encourages Willy to have the courage to enter the ‗jungle‘ (now death) finally and retrieve this elusive diamond (p.96) — that is, to kill himself to obtain insurance money which would make his life meaningful. Biff and the American West The American West represents Biff‘s potential. Biff realizes that he has been content only when working on farms, out in the open. His westward escape from both Willy‘s delusions and the commercial world of the eastern United States (p.10) suggests a pioneer mentality, although he hopes to settle down with a ranch which would allow him to ‗still be something‘ (p.14). Indeed, he has felt unsettled working on farms which he doesn‘t own (p.11) feeling that he has never become a man. It is only after seeing Oliver that he realises ‗what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been‘, a ‗dream‘ (p.78). The American Dream is something now that Willy uses as a threat to him (‗The door of your life is wide open!‘ (p.101)), and Biff wishes only for the outdoors life. The buildings around ‗towering, angular shapes … an angry glow of orange‘ (p.1) ‗The way they boxed us in here. Bricks and windows‘ (p.6) ‗there‘s not a breath of fresh air in the neighbourhood‘ (p.6) ‗the grass don‘t grow any more, you can‘t raise a carrot in the backyard‘ (p.6)

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The house ‗an air of the dream clings to the place, a dream rising out of reality‘ (p.1) ‗fragile-seeming‘ (p.1) The garden In the past contained ‗two beautiful elm trees‘ (p.6). They become even more closely associated with Willy‘s idealised view of the past when he describes his intention to attach a hammock to them and when father and son are united in their intended ‗masculine‘ pursuit of sawing off a branch (p.16). The appearance of leaves in at least one of Willy‘s ‗imaginings‘ and disappearance on returning to the present remind us that we are seeing an idealised past (see p.15 and p.26), although the ‗light of green leaves stains the house‘ in a garish way as Willy approaches psychological crisis in recalling Biff‘s flunking math (p.82) – memory of the past ultimately reveals mistakes as well as offering consolation Seeds represent investment in the future. The vegetables will be like the financial support which will emerge for his sons from the insurance money after his death (p.92). However, the seeds will not grow in the barren earth of the garden, just as Willy‘s suicide will yield nothing positive (p.96) Willy‘s measuring in the garden represents his attempts to regain control over and order in his life (p.96) represent for Willy the opportunity to prove the worth of his labour, both as a salesman and a father. His desperate, nocturnal attempt to grow vegetables might signify his shame about barely being able to put food on the table and having nothing to leave his children when he passes. Willy feels that he has worked hard but fears that he will not be able to help his offspring any more than his own abandoning father helped him. The barrenness of the garden might also represent Willy‘s sense of failure with Biff. Despite the American Dream‘s formula for success, which Willy considers infallible, Willy‘s efforts to cultivate and nurture Biff have gone awry. Realising that his all-American football star has turned into a lazy bum, Willy takes Biff‘s failure and lack of ambition as a reflection of his abilities as a father. Cars 1949: Willy has a Studemaker: - it keeps veering of its correct path - it is ‗on its last legs‘ (p.52) - Willy realises he has lost track of the present when the car reaches sixty mph, which is close to his age (‗past sixty‘ p.2, ‗sixty‘ p.4, ‗sixty-three‘ p.40!)

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1928: Willy has a Chevrolet: - beautifully simonised by Biff - described as ‗the greatest car ever built‘ (p.20) - becomes a symbol of material and social success (the police apparently protect his car in New England, such respect has he earned!) and of family unity (father teaching his sons to simonise it which they do enthusiastically) - however, it probably doesn‘t have a radio, so is hardly the most luxurious vehicle - and beneath the gloss, the car brings trouble when its carburettor breaks, and Willy contradicts himself by complaining about the car (p.22) The cars represent the difference between Willy‘s past and present: one is apparently perfect (although beneath the subject to defects) and linked closely to Biff, the other is openly a source of danger, and linked to Willy going off the rails. Willy laments ‗I can‘t drive a car‘ (p.27); it is as if opportunity is fading for him. Happy considers a car as one of the three necessities of a successful life. Abandonment Willy‘s life charts a course from one abandonment to the next, leaving him in greater despair each time. Willy‘s father leaves him and Ben when Willy is very young, leaving Willy neither a tangible (money) nor an intangible (history) legacy. Ben eventually departs for Alaska, leaving Willy to lose himself in a warped vision of the American Dream. Likely a result of these early experiences, Willy develops a fear of abandonment, which makes him want his family to conform to the American Dream. His efforts to raise perfect sons, however, reflect his inability to understand reality. The young Biff, whom Willy considers the embodiment of promise, drops Willy and Willy‘s zealous ambitions for him when he finds out about Willy‘s adultery. Biff‘s ongoing inability to succeed in business furthers his estrangement from Willy. When, at Frank‘s Chop House, Willy finally believes that Biff is on the cusp of greatness, Biff shatters Willy‘s illusions and, along with Happy, abandons the deluded, babbling Willy in the washroom. Betrayal Willy‘s primary obsession throughout the play is what he considers to be Biff‘s betrayal of his ambitions for him. Willy believes that he has every right to expect Biff to fulfil the promise inherent in him. When Biff walks out on Willy‘s ambitions for him, Willy takes this rejection as a personal affront (he associates it with ―insult‖ and ―spite‖). Willy, after all, is a salesman, and Biff‘s ego-crushing rebuff ultimately reflects Willy‘s inability to sell him the American Dream—the product in which Willy himself believes most faithfully. Willy assumes that Biff‘s betrayal stems from Biff‘s discovery of Willy‘s affair with The Woman—a betrayal of Linda‘s love. Whereas Willy feels that Biff has betrayed him, Biff feels that Willy, a ―phony little fake,‖ has betrayed him with his unending stream of lies, self-deception and misleading confidence in him.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

Stockings The stockings become a symbol of betrayal, sexual infidelity and Willy‘s guilt. Providing Linda with new stockings is important for both Willy‘s pride in demonstrating his financial success and ability to provide for his family and for Willy‘s ability to ease his guilt about, and suppress the memory of, his betrayal of Linda and Biff. When Linda repairs stockings, these emotions threaten to break through, leading to his frustrated fury (p.25). At another time mending stockings makes Willy ‗nervous‘ because it reminds him of his failure to provide for his family (p.53). The Woman‘s angry demand for her stockings shows a debased world where even human relationships are becoming commodified (p.90) and the ultimate superficiality of Willy‘s affair. Biff‘s awareness of the financial significance of the stockings causes him great pain when he discovers the Woman (p.92). The Rubber Hose the rubber hose acts as concrete evidence of Willy‘s attempts at suicide its physical presence therefore prevents the family from ignoring the issue, as all bar Biff attempt to do suicide by gas inhalation is ironic, as it is the very substance essential to one of the most basic elements with which Willy must equip his home for his family‘s health and comfort—heat (rather like the car he actually kills himself with being his means of earning a living). literal death by inhaling gas parallels the metaphorical death that Willy feels in his struggle to afford such a basic necessity gas inhalation parallels the claustrophobia Willy feels, surrounded by apartment blocks Flute It is ‗telling of grass and trees and the horizon‘ (p.1) is heard distantly at the point Willy realises he confused his two cars (p.7) It fades away as soon as Willy says ‗I‘m tired to the death‘, suggesting it represents thoughts of an idyll flutes were made and sold by Willy‘s father whom he likes to think of as successful (p.33) curiously it plays on p.93 during a ‗long pause‘ – does this represent the fact that Willy has just retreated into belief that he can create an ideal for his family by planting seeds/killing himself? Is it just to create a poignant atmosphere? Thinking time for the audience? It plays at the very end – something elegiac? A contrast between the ideal it represents and the harsh reality of the images of apartment buildings? A return to the start of the play to suggest that society has not changed: Biff is an exception for rejecting capitalism, and Happy is set to become the next Willy.

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The Woman’s laugh p.23 – triggered by Linda‘s flattery of his appearance, which makes him feel guilty p.85 – creates a parallel between Happy and Willy in that it coincides with the entry of the girls: both use women, whether for sex, company or to score points. p.90 – Biff realises the Woman is in Willy‘s room by her careless laughing overall, it is associated with disgrace and disaster Music Quite a variety of music is used throughout the play. Spot it in the stage directions and consider its effects. Mythic Figures Willy‘s tendency to mythologize people contributes to his deluded understanding of the world. he considers Dave Singleman to be a legend and imagines that his death must have been glorious he compares Biff and Happy to the mythic Greek figures Adonis and Hercules because he believes that his sons are pinnacles of ‗personal attractiveness‘ and power through being ‗well liked‘. To him, they, especially Biff, seem the very incarnation of the American Dream. Willy‘s mythologizing proves quite misjudged, however: Willy fails to realize the hopelessness of Singleman‘s lonely, on-the-job, on-the-road death. Trying to achieve what he considers to be Singleman‘s heroic status, Willy commits himself to a pathetic death and meaningless legacy (even if Willy‘s life insurance policy ends up paying off, Biff wants nothing to do with Willy‘s ambition for him). Similarly, neither Biff nor Happy ends up leading an ideal, godlike life; while Happy does believe in the American Dream, it seems likely that he will end up no better off than the decidedly ungodlike Willy.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

An Overview of the Play
Death of a Salesman opens by introducing the audience to what looks like an archetypal American family: father, mother, two sons in a house with a mortgage. Father is a salesman, the epitome of the post-war spirit of economic dynamism that the American government sought to foster; mother is a home-maker, caring, dutiful, a calm centre for her husband and sons; the boys are grown-up, physically attractive and at home with their parents. Yet all is far from idyllic. Miller‘s set directions warn us not to take things at face value: the ‗fragileseeming home‘ has an ‗air of the dream‘ about it, ‗a dream rising out of reality‘. This is an apt metaphor for the family within. The house, as we see it physically, is insubstantial, dwarfed by surrounding buildings, hemmed in, isolated, little more than a futile attempt to stand against the inevitable arch of progress. From the moment the lights go up, we can be in little doubt as to Miller‘s intentions. By placing the Lomans in an environment which is doomed, he is making a statement about their ability to withstand the pressures and changes forced on them by the society in which they live. No matter how much they may wish things were different, they are an anachronism. Their values, taught by Willy, belong to an age that, if it existed at all, has gone. To reinforce the point, Miller gives us Charley and Bernard. By contrasting the two families, he ensures that the tragedy which engulfs the Lomans is all the more pointed and poignant This, he says, would never happen to Charley. He can walk away, knows the value of things, has his feet firmly on the ground. Bernard isn‘t Biff; he‘s achieved the success that has eluded the Loman brothers. Hard work, not personal attractiveness is the key to prosperity in post-war America. Yet our sympathies are not with the winners, as it were, but with the Lomans. Death of a Salesman is their story. While Willy‘s disintegration and ultimate self-destruction hold centre-stage, the rest of the household contribute to and are affected by his downfall. The consequences of his failures, his guilt and self- deception reverberate through the whole family. At the start of the play, the veneer of normality is indeed fragile, even if early interchanges suggest otherwise: Willy. The boys in? Linda. They‘re sleeping. Happy took Biff on a date tonight. Rapidly, this becomes Linda saying ‗You shouldn‘t have criticized him, Willy, especially after he just got off the train.‘ With brilliant economy, Miller undermines our perceptions, gives us fleeting glimpses of the strains and tensions that have, we learn later, effectively torn the family apart. The first hint comes in an apparently chance remark by Linda that ‗It was so nice to see them shaving together. . .And going out together.‘ The emphatic ‗together‘ gives us the clue. What is commonplace in many families is exceptional, here, rare enough for Linda to repeat the statement later in the play. Yet it isn‘t with the single remark that Miller makes his impact, but in the accumulation of superficially innocuous references. Willy‘s next line, for example, about the family home, ‗You finally own it, and there‘s nobody to live in it‘, echoed by Linda right at the end of the play, introduces us to the fact that Biff has barely arrived off the train when there is an argument between father and son. At first sight, there is nothing exceptional about that. Arguments happen, from time to time, in most families. Within a few minutes, however, there are indications that deep-rooted tensions exist between father and eldest son. Willy makes it clear that issues are far from simple when he demands ‗Why did he come home? I would like to know what brought him home.‘ To which Linda is only able to reply with ‗I don‘t know. I think he‘s still lost, Willy. I think he‘s very lost‘. If the family were closer, the relationships deep-rooted and secure, Biff might have confided in one of them. As it is, Willy is left to speculate. The key lines which reveal the limits of his understanding of both his son and of the wider society at the time, come next with ‗In the greatest country in

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the world a man with such - personal attractiveness, gets lost‘. In common with the vast majority of Americans, he is intensely patriotic but the concept he has of America doesn‘t equate with reality. Like so many of the ideas he has transmitted to his sons, it‘s based on a time long past and coloured by a rosy glow of optimism and self-delusion. If success in material terms was ever gained by personal attractiveness alone, it isn‘t in post-war America. Paranoia, caused by the apparently unstoppable march of Communism, wedded to an almost fanatical striving for ‗permanent‘ economic strength, mean that the world in which Biff and Happy have to compete is much tougher than Willy has led them to believe and they are ill-equipped for it. The deep-rooted hostility between father and eldest son isn‘t the only crack in the family. There is a breach, too, between father and youngest son. Happy has inherited some of Willy‘s attitudes, both to business and to women. It is his blatant promiscuity that rankles most, because Willy is constantly confronted by his own infidelity to Linda. Biff never accuses him of it in front of the rest of the family but Happy mirrors it in the way he ruins girls. Unlike his father, however, Happy isn‘t afraid to boast about it: ‗And he‘s the third executive I‘ve done that to. Isn‘t that a crummy characteristic? And to top it all, I go to their weddings.‘ Both his parents find his actions offensive. Linda accuses him of being a philandering bum and Willy, with supreme unintentional irony, says ‗The world is an oyster, but you don‘t crack it open on a mattress‘. It‘s exactly that use of women that is at the root of his conflict with Biff, his constant feeling of having to make things right between himself arid Linda, and his own sense of being a failure. Characteristically, he can‘t admit to being unfaithful so he attacks Happy for the same behaviour. His hypocrisy isn‘t deliberate, however. Indeed, he can‘t understand why Biff is so upset at finding the woman in his hotel room saying ‗You mustn‘t - you mustn‘t over-emphasize a thing like this. … She‘s nothing to me, Biff, I was lonely, I was terribly lonely‘. For the rest of his life, Willy pretends that the incident didn‘t happen, that he bears no responsibility for Biff‘s subsequent decisions and their consequences. His outburst to Bernard is typically angry and defensive: ‗What are you trying to do, blame it on me? If a boy lays down is that my fault?‘. He has no other way of handling his guilt but to retreat, first, into anger and feigned innocence and, later, into a re-enactment of the original event. This tendency to lapse into memory and fantasy is at the heart of the Loman family relationships. As Biff says, towards the end of the play ‗We never told the truth for ten minutes in this house'. Willy convinces himself that he‘s a success and, even when she knows the truth, Linda would rather pretend to believe what he says than risk what might happen if Willy no longer had his dream to fall back on. Happy inflates his position at the store, partly to impress women such as Miss Forsythe but chiefly, like Willy, to hide from reality. Only Biff, finally, can confront them all with the truth, by which time it‘s too late to turn Willy aside from the decision to kill himself. Through Willy‘s increasingly frequent lapses into memory and fantasy we see how far things have changed since Happy and Biff were in High School. By contrasting the close-knit family of those days with the fragmented unit of the present, Miller points up the full impact of the tragedy. Yet, even in the golden-age when Biff was at the height of his popularity, the Loman family was an illusion. The apparent domestic harmony masked Willy‘s infidelity and from that, and the disillusion and revulsion Biff feels, grows the sequence of events that leads, years later, to Willy‘s suicide. However, it would be wrong to see the tragedy as solely his. Its impact is felt by the rest of the family and they all, in different ways, share some responsibility for it. By participating in the illusion Willy has constructed and lived by, Linda, Biff, and Happy acquiesce in his downfall. Indeed, the false values inherent in that illusion mean a succession of minor tragedies, building to the climax of his death. For example, Biff flunks Math. Willy‘s initial response is characteristic (‗You mean to say Bernard wouldn‘t give you the answers‘) and revealing of the standards he has imparted to his sons. Dishonesty, starting with the theft of a football from the High School and lumber from a nearby building site, becomes ingrained in Biff and Happy. The former ends up in prison for stealing a suit, the latter takes bribes.

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The tragedy for the Lomans begins with Willy‘s childhood, as he admits to Ben that ‗Dad left when I was such a baby and I never had a chance to talk to him‘. He looks for affirmation, revealing deep-seated self-doubt when he says things such as ‗sometimes I‘m afraid that I‘m not teaching them the right kind of - Ben, how should I teach them?‘ The myth he has created of a successful, pioneering family is the foundation of his self-esteem, as he tells Howard ‗Oh, yeah, my father lived many years in Alaska. He was an adventurous man. We‘ve got quite a little streak of self-reliance in our family‘. Yet this, too, the foundation on which he builds his life, is an illusion. Through one of the Ben scenes it becomes clear that the pioneering spirit, so evident in father and eldest son, is diluted in Willy. He‘s restrained, perhaps by Linda‘s commonsense, certainly by his own much more limited horizons, into carving out new territory for the Wagner Company, inflating his own achievements in a vain attempt to match Ben‘s. And even by these standards, he fails. He displays very little self-reliance, for example, having to borrow money from Charley every week. The dream is stronger than reality for Willy: the need to do something so that Biff will ‗worship‘ him, so he can regain the old intimacy and respect, is the driving force behind his suicide. Its futility is summed up by Biff as ‗He had the wrong dreams. All, all, wrong‘. From this stock, Biff and Happy spring. Biff is closest to his uncle in his attitude to the ratrace. For example, Ben says ‗Get out of these cities, they‘re full of talk and time payments and courts of law‘ which Biff echoes when saying ‗And it‘s a measly manner of existence ... To devote your whole life to keeping stock, or making phone calls, or selling or buying. … And always to have to get ahead of the next fella‘. However, he achieves little materially and is eaten up by a sense of failure, blaming the fact he ‗never got anywhere‘ on Willy having ‗blew me so full of hot air I could never stand taking orders from anybody‘. Happy, largely ignored by Willy, is the one who persists with the worthless dream that helps to kill his father. The qualities of physical prowess and personal attractiveness that Willy lauds so much are more suited to the great outdoors than to the city but Willy and Happy can‘t see how inappropriate their skills are to business life. It is Charley who succeeds in the city because he understands, as he tries to explain to Willy, that ‗the only thing you got in this world is what you can sell‘. Biff is torn between his own instinctive sense that he shouldn‘t be ‗trying to become what I don‘t want to be. … when all I want is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am‘ and his father‘s version of the American Dream. Biff too is ‗temporary‘ restless, unable to settle to anything. It is only when he accepts that he doesn‘t want the sort of life that Willy has had to live that he‘s able, finally, to walk away. His younger brother, however, is trapped in the cycle of illusion that his father has created, declaring at the end of the play that ‗Willy Loman did not die in vain. He had a good dream. It‘s the only dream you can have - to come out number-one man. He fought it out here, and this is where I‘m gonna win it for him‘. At first sight, this might suggest that history is about to repeat itself: like father, like son. However, Happy has shown no signs of the obsessive intensity which characterises Willy and the personality traits he‘s inherited are in a more diluted form. In his attitude to women, for example, his guilt pangs are momentary, whereas Willy‘s are deep-seated and persistent. For that reason, while the illusion will be maintained, it‘s unlikely to be as self-destructive in Happy as it is in his father. The two sons share a common illusion, however. Because Willy refers to them as his boys, there is a tendency to see them as somehow equal and united. When we first see them, for example, Happy suggests an earlier closeness when he recalls ‗All the talk that went across those two beds, huh? Our whole lives‘ and if Biff‘s reaction is more guarded (‗Yeah. Lotta dreams and plans‘), we are, nevertheless, left with an impression of filial intimacy that is rapidly undermined when we see them in the re-enactments of their High School days. Allowing for Willy‘s tendency to distort, it‘s soon clear that Biff is dominant, the centre of attention, and Happy subservient, in the shadow, largely ignored. This tendency persists through the play, making Hap much more of a loner within the family, much more in need of recognition than his parents acknowledge. By making Biff so important, Willy and Linda condemn Hap to the status of a second-class son, never taken seriously by either of them. He is essentially a sad figure, and Miller‘s choice of name for him is deliberately ironic. His attempt to revive the illusion of ‗The Loman Brothers‘ only reinforces the gulf that exists between them. They can‘t even agree on which dream to pursue: Biff wants Happy to join him in buying and running a ranch, Happy wants to prove himself in business first. While Biff‘s confi-

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dence has been diminished by failure and disillusion, Happy‘s has been inflated by easy sexual conquest. Biff sees through the false dream Willy has been chasing, Happy is wedded to it. Like Ben and Willy before them, the Loman Brothers seem destined to be separated by both a common childhood and radically different attitudes to life. The illusion of family is finally shattered by the restaurant incident and what follows. Father and sons see the meal as a means of restoring their old comradeship, but the plan is doomed from the start. The things they intend to celebrate are fantasies and we know it. Biff makes one last attempt to conform to his father‘s dream, buoyed up by lies about the past he goes to ask Oliver to back him in Happy‘s Loman Brothers scheme; Willy, believing that at last things are changing for the better, tries to persuade Howard to let him work in New York. By the time they meet in the restaurant the illusions have been shattered. Biff tells Hap: ‗I realized what a ridiculous lie my whole life has been. We‘ve been talking in a dream for fifteen years‘. He can see, for the first time, that the only way out of the illusions is to confront Willy with the truth: ‗He thinks I‘ve been spiting him all these years and it‘s eating him up‘. Happy‘s reaction is to want to preserve the fantasy by letting Willy ‗[think] it over for a couple of weeks, and gradually it fades away and nobody‘s the worse‘. This reveals the limits of Happy‘s understanding of both Biff and Willy. Like Linda, in some respects, he wants to stop Willy from going over the edge into despair. If he has something to look forward to, he believes, his father can survive. Biff‘s response falls on deaf ears. The heart-felt ‗But it‘ll go on forever‘ refers to more than the immediate situation. Unless something is done, now, to break the circle of illusion and lies, his own torment will continue. Yet his resolve is dented when Willy announces ‗I was fired, and I‘m looking for a little good news to tell your mother. So don‘t give me a lecture about facts and aspects. I am not interested‘. His desperate attempts to make his father listen are thwarted both by Happy‘s interference (‗He told him my Florida idea‘) and by Willy‘s desperate need to believe in his own philosophy of success: ‗You know why he remembered you, don‘ t you? Because you impressed him in those days‘. In reality, of course, Biff waited for hours, saw Oliver for a matter of seconds, and realised the man didn‘t even recognise him. Yet, when he tries to explain, Willy won‘t listen and he has to admit ‗I can‘t talk to him‘. At this moment Willy retreats into fantasy, his recent conversation with Bernard bringing him back to the moment at which Biff leaves for Boston. His own crisis is fast approaching and he doesn‘t listen to what his son has to tell him. When Biff sees the state he‘s in, he capitulates, tries to reassure Willy by going along with Happy‘s earlier suggestion, but uses the theft of the pen as an excuse for not keeping the mythical lunch date. Willy‘s reaction is to attack, snapping ‗Don‘t you want to be anything?‘. Even when Biff reveals, for the first time, how much he really cares (‗Why did I go? Look at you! Look at what‘s become of you!‘) he‘s too wrapped up in his own guilt, too close to losing control, to do anything other than lash out and repeat his constant complaint ‗You rotten little louse! Are you spiting me?‘ The two women arrive and the moment when matters could have been brought to a head passes. The strain of the day tips Willy over the edge and he relives the scene in Boston, finally acknowledging his own part in Biff‘s downfall. At the same time, Biff tries to enlist Happy‘s help saying ‗Jesus… help him… Help me, help me, I can‘t bear to look at his face!‘ Happy, ignored for so long, is incapable of taking responsibility and, like St Peter, denies any connection with Willy saying ‗No, that‘s not my father. He‘s just a guy.‘ The two sons desert their father, leaving him alone in the washroom. When he comes back to the present, his decision to kill himself is already made. He tries to give Stanley all the money he‘s carrying because ‗I don‘t need it any more‘. His sons have abandoned him so, hurt and desperate, he looks for something concrete, some action that might help him to come to terms with what‘s happened. We already know that ‗The grass don‘t grow any more, you can‘t raise a carrot in the backyard‘ but Willy‘s chief concern, as he leaves the restaurant is that ‗Nothing‘s planted I don‘t have a thing in the ground‘. This is a crucial metaphor for his own life. Through re-living the Boston incident, he realises that he‘s achieved nothing as a father, that his sons- his seeds - aren‘t thriving, despite his life-long struggle to provide something solid for them to inherit. His attempt to plant carrots and peas is the only way he can handle the fact. Desperately seeking meaning for his life he needs something solid and familiar, a physical statement of hope for the future. Planting seeds, even though he knows deep down that they won‘t grow, is his way of coming to terms with his belief that he‘s failed as a father. For Willy, there can

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be no greater blow than that his sons don‘t care enough to have dinner with him on the day when he most needs their support. Linda describes his return home as ‗He didn‘t have to say anything. He was so humiliated he nearly limped when he came in.‘ Happy‘s reaction is to pretend that they didn‘t desert him, that Willy had great time with them. His father‘s trick of glossing over failure and responsibility for events doesn‘t work for him, though. Biff, at least, acknowledges the truth that they ‗Left him babbling in a toilet‘, but doesn‘t explain the feelings that led him to do that. Instead, he insists on a final confrontation with his father. The irony is that the moment when he can lift the veil from everyone‘s eyes, force his parents and brother to face the truth at last, comes too late. The evening has given him time to reflect, to harden his resolve, but the way he and Happy left Willy only served to bring home the futility of his life. The affirmation he has long sought, the knowledge that his favourite son really does love him, comes at the pitch of his illusion. He sees suicide and the funeral to follow as a last glorious chance to mean something and is so caught up in the idea that Biff‘s open expression of affection only cements his determination to go through with it. His earlier ‗I haven‘t got a story left in my head, Biff‘ reveals how low he‘s sunk. He doesn‘t believe there‘s anything he can now do or say, short of killing himself, that can make up for the failure of his life, for the harm he‘s done to Linda and his sons. Even that is an empty gesture, however, as the funeral makes clear. If anything, the tragedy is deepened by the fact that Happy is determined to preserve the illusion by ‗staying right in this city‘ in order to ‗beat this racket‘ and by Biff‘s implicit decision to desert his roots in order to find meaning and happiness now that ‗I know who I am, kid‘. Linda‘s last speech is a fitting ending to the play, encapsulating as it does the family tragedy that ‗ there‘ll be nobody home‘. Miller skilfully exploits the American obsession with the home and wholesome family ideals to reveal the chilling truth at the heart of his society. He seduces his audiences into identifying with the Lomans, then forces them to examine what it means to be part of such a family. Each member of the household bears some responsibility for what happens and is damaged by the tragedy that grows out of the small deceptions and illusions that keep Willy going. No-one in the family escapes censure but we can‘t help but be touched by the tragedy that engulfs them all.

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The Play as a Tragedy: an Essay
In Death of a Salesman Miller challenges the Aristotelean view of tragedy as a theatrical form which only properly deals with the fate of gods, kings, and heroes. In the twentieth century, such a restricted definition would consign tragedy to the waste bin of literary history. An increasingly secular world no longer believes in gods, and kings and heroes have been humbled, brought down to the level of ordinary men and women. It is time, Miller believes, to re-invigorate the form, make it relevant to the world we live in. This essay seeks to explore how, as a modern writer, he uses elements of the classical tragedy to create a new and compellingly human drama, one which is true to tradition but conceived on a domestic scale so that audiences can identify with the chief protagonist and draw parallels with their own lives. The basic elements of the Aristotelean tragedy may be summarised, as follows: a play with an unhappy ending having a ‗hero‘ who, because of a particular characteristic or way of behaving, goes from happiness to misery and death frequently having a sense of waste at the death of the ‗hero‘, together with relief that he no longer has to endure pain or suffering a point at which the tragic ‗hero‘ recognises both his fate and the weaknesses in himself that have brought him to it a catharsis or purging of emotions at the end, often leading to a sense of ultimate peace and regeneration or the rebuilding of lives and societies. Miller‘s contention is that the natural hero of the tragedy is the man in the street, you and me, the individual attempting to gain his ‗rightful‘ place in society Yet, the life of the tragic hero must have an intensity, which Miller described as: the human passion to surpass his given bounds, the fanatic insistence upon his self-conceived role... and his thinking must be dominated by . .the issues of, for instance, the survival of the race, the relationships of man to God — the questions, in short, whose answers define humanity and the right way to live so that the world is a home, instead of a battlefield. If his redefinition of the form is correct, there are profound implications for both playwrights and audiences. The writer has a much wider canvas on which to paint a tragic view of modern life - his subjects can be ordinary people in a whole host of situations, from the spectacular media issues such as terrorist attacks, earthquakes, famines, disasters at sea or in the air, to domestic conflict, mugging, rape, homelessness, cot death, redundancy, AIDS, and countless other situations that impact on individuals, families, or communities. For the audience, there is instant recognition: There But For The Grace Of God Go I. If the writer has created believable characters in recognisable human situations, his audience will find it easy to identify with the drama as it unfolds and, inevitably, find parallels with the real world. Such a close examination of contemporary issues and situations may be uncomfortable for some theatre-goers, mirroring too nearly perhaps their own lives, but they will be more likely to become engaged than if the characters on stage are the remote figures of history and from a social background alien to their own. In short, Miller believes that modern drama can explore just as profoundly the themes and issues that Marlowe or Shakespeare could but with the added punch of doing so through the lives of ordinary people. Willy‘s final act of self-affirmation, his suicide, provides the unhappy ending so essential in classical tragedy. Its roots, however, lie deep in the past. Willy‘s nomadic childhood has left him feeling

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kind of temporary about himself. Never having known a secure home, he is obsessed with providing one for Linda and his sons, and increasingly aware of his own failings as a husband and father. A deep-seated need for affection and reassurance leads him to seek the companionship of other women when he‘s away on business, and to inflate his achievements in order to gain approval from Linda, his sons, and older brother and father-substitute, Ben. This in turn leads to the self-deception that is his fatal flaw. The stories he tells, the lies and half-truths, become more reassuring than what actual)‘ happens. Reality is so harsh and painful that he escapes into illusion. Once the line is crossed, there‘s no way back. When life becomes unbearable, Willy conjures Ben and memories of the golden times when his sons were young and innocent and full of promise. His distortion of the past helps him to survive the present and, in the end, provides the courage he needs to kill himself. The fact that the story is told through both present events and Willy‘s versions of the past means that it is entirely self-contained. All the essential details of his childhood, his life away from Linda and his sons, and the mainsprings of his character are revealed so gradually that they are easily absorbed and understood. We are left in no doubt as to what is fact and what is fantasy in the frequent re-enactments, Willy‘s own accounts being neatly balanced by those of other characters. Miller‘s almost kaleidoscopic approach allows us to believe in, and be engaged by, the tragedy that unfolds in a way that would be difficult in a more traditional presentation. A straightforwardly chronological account would be both less interesting and less revealing than the juxtaposition of scenes Miller gives us. It is often the sidelights thrown on events by seeing them re-enacted and hearing Willy draw conclusions from them that enables us to gain a clear picture of what happens. In this way, we are able to appreciate the scale of Willy‘s decline and his own part in it Unlike the kings and heroes of classical tragedies, Willy is so fully-fleshed, so human, that it is difficult not be fooled into believing he‘s a real person and not simply a character in a play. If Death of a Salesman is to qualify as a tragedy, it needs to show how Willy‘s fatal flaw impels him from happiness to misery and death. Miller‘s treatment of this theme has much in common with the Jacobean concept of The Wheel of Fortune. Stated simply, happiness - like all other forms of human success - is fleeting and in that happiness are the seeds of tragedy. When everything seems achieved, when the ‗hero‘ is at the top of the wheel, a flaw in his own character means that the situation is doomed, the moment passes and a slide into misery and, ultimately, death is inevitable. In Death of a Salesman it is at the very moment when the Loman family seems most secure and united that the seeds of the tragedy are sown. Miller presents us with an almost idyllic portrait of Willy, Linda and their two sons. The proud father revels in the popularity and athletic prowess of his eldest son, the son worships his father. Their relationship couldn‘t be closer, but it is founded on illusion. Willy is neither the successful salesman nor the perfect husband he appears to be and Biff, despite his supreme confidence that he‘s destined for university, has been so inflated by his father‘s estimate of him, so convinced that personal attractiveness will carry him through that he doesn‘t do enough work and flunks math. Where Bernard can refer to his father, instantly if there‘s a problem, Biff has to travel to Boston at his moment of crisis. His total faith in Willy‘s ability to fix things impels him to the hotel room and the realisation that Willy is unfaithful to Linda. Suddenly, in his boyish idealism, his father and all he stands for is fraudulent. From now on, the illusion is preserved only by Biff‘s silence. He turns his back on all Willy has taught him but, despite the hurt of betrayal, can‘t stop loving him and is torn between his instinctive need for the freedom of the open air and the dream of material success that has been drummed into him since birth. The tension drives him away but keeps him coming back to the family home. For Willy, this is the start of the decline that leads to the realisation, at last, that his dreams have let him down, that he‘s on the scrap-heap or, in his own terms, hasn‘t got a story left in his head. The slide from happiness to misery begins in Boston and has immediate impact. Willy‘s orders are ignored, his pleas fall on deaf ears, and Biff‘s accusation hits home: ‗You fake! You phony little fake! You fake!‘. At the back of everything he does, this statement haunts Willy. He shies away from it, blames Biff‘s life thereafter on anyone but himself, but it never leaves him. Their relationship is broken and Willy attempts, in the only way he knows, to make amends. He tries to cajole Biff into going to Summer School and re-taking Math; when that fails, he pays for correspondence

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courses for him, selling the diamond tie-pin Ben gave him as a present in order to finance one of them, but in vain. The accusation stands between them like an impenetrable wall. Where before they laughed and joked, from Boston onwards they are constantly arguing. Willy keeps up the illusion with Linda and Happy but it is the loss of Biff, apparently forever, that gnaws at him, that is at the heart of his misery. A reconciliation seems impossible. All that Willy hears in Biff‘s voice is hatred and spite; all that Biff can see in his father‘s face is ‗a twist of mockery … I can‘t get near him‘. The misery is deepened by the fact that neither man can acknowledge the love he feels. By the time Biff opens up, it‘s too late. Willy is described as astonished, elevated by the fact that his son cries to him and to be choking with his love in response. Yet this moment, instead of effecting a reconciliation, confirms Willy‘s decision to kill himself as the only way he can do something practical to show how much he loves his family. With supreme tragic irony, Biff tries to end the hostility as a way of preventing the very outcome his outburst precipitates: ‗Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens?‘ The catharsis achieved at this moment in the play enables Biff to walk away, finally, from the false dream he‘s been following. As he says at Willy‘s funeral ‗I know who I am, kid‘, something he couldn‘t say before then. It also helps Willy to realise, as he tells Ben, Biff ‗Always loved me. Isn‘t that a remarkable thing?‘. The moment comes after his realisation that his life has amounted to very little. His question to Ben ‗Does it take more guts to stand here the rest of my life ringing up a zero?‘ is the point at which, finally, he sees the reality behind all his lies and illusions. In a sense, we can see how empty Willy‘s future is and, although we‘re sad at his passing, can‘t help but breathe a sigh of relief that all his struggles are over. The tragic irony is that his last dream, that Biff will see that ‗I am known, Ben, and he‘ll see it with his eyes once and for all. He‘ll see what I am, Ben! He‘s in for a shock, that boy!‘ turns to dust, like all the others. At the funeral he‘d hoped would be a vindication, Linda asks ‗ where are all the people he knew?‘. Her lack of understanding points up the difference between Willy and the rest of the characters in the play. Where he is obsessed with what Miller calls his self-conceived role the others are more moderate in their demands on themselves: Charley advises him to ‗forget about‘ Biff; Bernard that ‗sometimes … it‘s better for a man just to walk away‘. Neither they, nor members of his own family, have the intensity that, in Miller‘s terms, makes him fully human. He is always isolated or, as the woman in Boston describes him ‗.the saddest, self-centredest soul I ever did see-saw‘. His obsession with his sense of himself marks him out as capable of tragedy in way that is both fascinating and challenging to a modern audience. In an age of conformism, Miller infers, only the Willy Lomans of this world are worthy of the term ‗hero‘. In Death of a Salesman he has fulfilled all the criteria of the classical form but made of them a drama of human proportions with which an audience can readily identify. Because Willy is like us, a Common Man, the lessons of the tragedy are more difficult to ignore than if he were some remote figure from history or myth. We could leave the theatre and bump into his equivalent in the street. In a sense, his story adds dignity to our own lives and challenges us to either fight for self realisation or to walk away and, in Miller‘s terms, fail as human beings.

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What was happening at the time of the play?
In 1880s and 1890s when Willy was growing up: • • • • the first machine, the graphophone, was invented to record and play back your own voice in 1885 Geronimo, the Apache Indian Chief surrendered in 1886 there was a goldrush in Alaska in 1896 the Battle of Wounded Knee was fought in 1890 - the last major battle between the American Indians and the white soldiers.

In 1913, when Willy joined the Wagner firm: • • • • it was just before the First World War the first Ford Motor Company moving assembly line was opened, to begin mass production of the Model T car. Henry Ford talked of ‗democratizing the auto mobile‘ American society was small, stable and relatively secure economically - it was the period before the great Depression of the twenties Arthur Miller was born in 1915.

In 1932, when Biff would have been at high school, captain of the football team and about to take his State Board of Regents examinations to qualify for the University of Virginia: • • • • America was in the middle of the Depression about 15 million people were unemployed factories were closing and shops were empty of customers and going out of business, or partly closed for inventory, having overstocked products - being a salesman was not an easy job in this climate few people could afford to drive a car, except for business.

Business success is part of the American Dream. The play shows the growth of a consumer society, in which it suddenly became possible to buy lots of consumer goods - fridges, cars, taperecorders - and people measured their success by what they could afford to buy. It became possible to buy on credit and pay back in instalments, so that expensive objects were within people‘s grasp. But, as the play shows, these objects that people desired and dreamed of possessing did not necessarily bring happiness.

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Various Bitty Notes

The Structure of the Play
Miller said of Death of a Salesman that it ‗explodes the watch and the calendar‘. The past lives of Willy and his family are mixed in with what is happening to them in the present. Miller wrote about the play that he wanted to show that ‗nothing in life comes ‗next‘ but that everything exists together and at the same time within us; that there is no past to be ‗brought forward‘ in a human being, but that he is his past at every moment and that the present is merely that which his past is capable of noticing and smelling and reacting to. I wished to create a form which, in itself as a form, would literally be the process of Willy Loman‘s way of mind.‘ Miller helps the audience to be aware of scenes from the past in various ways, including: • When the action is in the present, the actors stay inside the imaginary walls of the house on the stage. When they enter into the past, they step through the imaginary walls on to the front of the stage. • The lighting changes to allow the house to look as if it is covered in the shadows of leaves. • A flute plays to suggest happier times in the past. Miller says it suggests ‘grass and trees and the horizon‘. There is a connection between the flute and Willy‘s father who made and sold them.

The Title of the Play
Miller said that his first title for Death of a Salesman was The Inside of His Head. Why did Miller consider using it? What aspects of the play does it emphasise? How does it relate to the structure of the play?

Symbols and Motifs
In Death of a Salesman consumer objects keep cropping up in the play, as symbols of what is wrong in the society and in the characters‘ lives. Remember that in the late 1940s when the play was written, far fewer people would have owned cars. A refrigerator would also have been a very big purchase and many families would not have had one. Cars Refrigerator Stockings The Shower Tape-recorder Tennis Rackets Fountain Pen pages 13, 20-21, 26-28, 56-57 pages 27, 56 pages 31, 58, 95 pages 52 pages 59 -61 pages 71, 72, 74 pages 82, 87

Other Symbols and Motifs: Trees and Leaves Seeds, Flowers & Vegetables Tools

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The Flute Diamonds The House The Great Outdoors

First Impressions of Happy and Biff
Read the scene in which you meet Happy and Biff for the first time and consider the following questions: • • • • • • • • What kind of person does Biff seem? What kind of person does Happy seem? What do they feel about their lives now? What do they feel about their lives in the past? What are their feelings about Willy? What kind of relationship do they have with each other? What tensions and conflicts are raised at this point in the play? What themes does Miller seem to be introducing through this dialogue between Biff and Happy?

Think about how differently you read this scene in the light of having read the whole play. For example: • Does anything seem important that you previously hardly noticed? • Are there any clues about characters and relationships that seem particularly interesting in the light of the additional knowledge shed by Act Two? • What themes are raised in the scene that become important in the rest of the play? • Now that you have read the whole play, what do you think of the way Miller has introduced Biff and Happy in the bedroom scene? • What would be lost if this scene were omitted from the play?

Linda is shown in two contexts: in dialogue with Willy and her sons and in scenes where Willy is absent. There are three key scenes in which Linda appears without Willy: • Act One, bottom of page 41, where she talks to Biff and Happy. • Act Two, page 97, when Biff and Happy return home from their night out. • Requiem, page 110, at Willy’s graveside. Christopher Bigsby, in an interview with Arthur Miller asked him whether he in any way regretted ‗not giving Linda more resources to make the battle a bit more equal‘. Miller replied:
I regretted it at the time but I couldn‟t honestly give her what I didn‟t think she would ever have. You see, if that woman were more articulate in terms of her ability to handle it, probably they would have broken apart earlier on; she couldn‟t have stood it. You know, he‟s a cruel son of a bitch that guy; everybody is charmed by him but if you objectively face some of those scenes in the bedroom, he just wipes the floor with her from time to time. You see a woman who was thinking of herself more would simply not have been there one morning, or else she would have put up such a fight as to crush him because he would never be able to accept any independence around him. This is part of the disease.

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Fathers and Sons
Arthur Miller said of Death of a Salesman that it is ‗really a love story between a man and his son, and in a crazy way between both of them and America‘. The relationships between fathers and sons are at the heart of the play. For Miller, people are created by their past and in particular by their early family relationships. Willy‘s insecurities, his relationship with his sons and his final breakdown had their seeds in his relationship with his own family and the insecurity of his early childhood.

A Question of Values
Miller wrote in his autobiography:
On the play‟s opening night a woman who shall not be named was outraged, calling it „a time bomb under American capitalism‟; I hoped it was, or at least under the bullshit of capitalism, this pseudo life that thought to touch the clouds by standing on top of a refrigerator, waving a paid-up mortgage at the moon, victorious at last.

Look at these quotations from the play. What do they suggest about each of the characters‘ views of success and the American Dream at the stage in the play when they say it?
BIFF: And whenever spring comes to where I am, I suddenly get the feeling, my God, I‟m not gettin‟ anywhere. What the hell am I doing, playing around with horses, twenty-eight dollars a week! I‟m thirty-four years old, I oughta be maldn‟ my future. That‟s when I come running home. And now, I get here, and I don‟t know what to do with myself. (p.16)

HAPPY: But then it‟s what I always wanted. My own apartment, a car, and plenty of women. And still, goddammit, I‟m lonely. (p.17) HAPPY: I gotta show some of those pompous, self-important executives over there that Hap Loman can make the grade. (p.18) WILLY: America is full of beautiful towns and fine, upstanding people. And they know me, boys, they know me up and down New England. The finest people. And when I bring you fellas up, there‟ll be open sesame for all of us, cause one thing, boys: I have friends. (p.24) WILLY: ... the man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want. (p.25) BEN: Why boys, when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. (He laughs). And by God I was rich. (p.37) WILLY: You can‟t eat the orange and throw the peel away- a man is not a piece of fruit! (p.64) LINDA: Why must everybody conquer the world? (p.67) WILLY: And that‟s the wonder, the wonder of this country, that a man can end with diamonds here on the basis of being liked! (p.68) BIFF: Pop! I‟m a dime a dozen, and so are you! (p.105)

HAPPY: He had a good dream. It‟s the only dream you can have - to come out number-one man. (p.111) LINDA: Well, the fan belt broke, so it was a dollar eighty. WILLY: But it‟s brand new. LINDA: Well, the man said that‟s the way it is. Till they work themselves in y‟know. (p.27) WILLY: That goddam Chevrolet, they ought to prohibit the manufacture of that car! (p.28)

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CHARLEY When a deposit bottle is broken you don‟t get your nickel back. (p.34) LINDA: He works for a company thirty-six years this March, opens up unheard-of territories to their trademark, and now in his old age they take his salary away. (p.44) WILLY: WILLY: Once in my life I would like to own something outright before it‟s broken: I‟m always in a race with the junkyard! (p.57) You can‟t eat the orange and throw the peel away - a man is not a piece of fruit! (p. 65)

CHARLEY: ... man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back - that‟s an earthquake. And then you get yourself a couple of spots on your hat, and you‟re finished. Nobody dast blame this man. A salesman is got to dream, boy. It comes with the territory. (p. 111)

The critic Raymond Williams said of Willy Loman that he was ‗a man who from selling things has passed to selling himself, and has become, in effect, a commodity which like other commodities will at a certain point be economically discarded.‘ In the play we never find out what Willy actually sells but Miller responded to this question by saying, ‗Himself‘. Do you agree with the view that the play shows Willy trying to sell himself like a commodity and finally being discarded? Think about the messages the play offers about consumerism and the way consumer symbols and motifs are used to reinforce this theme. To what extent do you feel that Willy is a man with personality problems, or is someone whose problems are caused by the kind of society he lives in?

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What is wrong with Willy Loman? an essay by Laurence Coupe
The hero of Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman is nobody special, yet we feel his life and tragic death to be deeply significant. Laurence Coupe argues that the clue might be ‘ideology’ Willy Loman sacrifices himself for exactly those beliefs and values which are the ‘common sense’ of our own competitive society. John Lennon‘s song ‗Working-class Hero‘ has a verse which runs as follows: There‘s room at the top, they are telling you still, But first you must learn to smile as you kill, If you want to be like the folks on the hill The ‗working-class hero‘ of its title is told that if he is sufficiently ruthless, he too will be able to make it to the ‗top‘ in the rat race. At first sight this song might seem to sum up the way in which ideology works: indoctrination by an external force which programmes the individual to behave according to certain patterns and expectations. Yet, as Terry Eagleton has argued in these pages (‗Ideology‘, THE ENGLISH REVIEW, September Vol. 4 No. 1, 1993, p. 10), ideology functions in ways more complicated than those at which Lennon‘s lyric hints. What is actually involved is a largely internal, unconscious process. Ideology consists of our ‗routine, taken-for-granted responses to the world‘. Literary texts are often engaged with exploring the inner life, so can be a useful way of showing the way in which ideology works. But, as Eagleton points out, literary works cannot always be simply categorised according to whether they ‗reproduce‘ ideology on the one hand or pose a challenge to it on the other. Sometimes one work can do both things at the same time. Arthur Miller‘s most famous play, Death of a Salesman (1949), seems to me a singular example of this. Willy Loman is not strictly speaking a ‗working-class hero‘: more a ‗lower middle-class hero‘, which makes him less likely to become the subject of a protest song. But he is certainly an oppressed figure, a victim. As such, he has fantasies of a better life. These are indicated in Miller‘s stage directions at the beginning of the play: ‗A melody is heard, played upon a flute. It is small and fine, telling of grass and trees and the horizon.‘ Willy‘s late father, we will learn, made and sold flutes, travelling across the wide-open spaces of North America as his own man, an embodiment of the pioneer spirit. That life, represented by the motif of melody, is the one Willy has failed to find or realise for himself. Hence, Miller tells us, an ‗air of the dream‘ clings to the Lomans‘ house and yard, ‗a dream rising out of reality‘. We might call that dream ‗ideology‘. Miller could have constructed his play so that the dream dissolves and reality is faced directly. But that would have resulted in a naively optimistic drama. Rather, he shows us the hero‘s commitment to the dream — the belief that ‗personality always wins the day‘ and success comes to those prepared to sell not only goods but also themselves intensifying to the point where, given the manifest failure of his life, he can only seek victory in death. The plot of Death of a Salesman is constructed to direct our attention to this climax. It covers the last twenty-four hours lived by Willy Loman. Finding that travelling around as ‗the New England man‘ exhausts him at his advanced years, he is persuaded by his wife Linda to ask his boss Howard Wagner for a more convenient position at the New York office of his firm. The young and insensitive Howard refuses this request and Willy, driven to despair, concludes that he is ‗worth more dead than alive‘. He then deliberately kills himself in a car crash in order that his wife and family will benefit from his insurance policy. In particular, his elder son Buff will inherit the house in which Willy has invested so much financially and emotionally. Death of a Salesman can to some extent be read as an indictment of an external system called American capitalism. Take the scene in which Willy, who repeatedly experiences past moments as vividly as if they were present, relives the jubilant visit of his own elder brother Ben. Returning from the diamond mines of Africa, Ben proudly tells young Buff and his brother Happy: ‗Why boys, when I was seventeen I walked into the jungle, and when I was twenty-one I walked out. [ He laughs.] And by God I was rich.‘ So we may infer

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that the world of the capitalist is that of Ben‘s ‗jungle‘, to succeed in which it is best — as Ben puts it, having tripped Buff up in a mock boxing match — ‗never‘ to ‗fight fair with a stranger‘. In John Lennon‘s words, you must ‗smile as you kill‘ in order to be ‗like the folks on the hill‘. But a full response to the text would have to go further than that. For a start, Willy‘s next-door neighbour Charley, though a successful capitalist, is a benign one: so much so that he actually supports Willy by ‗loans‘ that he knows will probably never get paid off. Of course, the exception could be said to prove the rule — which might be better represented by Howard Wagner who, if not malicious, seems to have been trained very thoroughly in the art of indifference. Willy pleads with him in vain:
You mustn‘t tell me you‘ve got people to see — I put thirty-four years into this firm. Howard, and now I can‘t pay my insurance! You can‘t eat the orange and throw the peel away — a man is not a piece of fruit!

But we would not find the plays of Arthur Miller so challenging if all they did was tell us that there are people like Howard. What is much more important than the external depiction of a ruthless economic order is the exploration of an internal world: the sphere where illusion takes place. (The original title of Death of a Salesman was The Inside of his Head.) It is important to note that when Willy appeals to Howard, all he has to rely on is the past. Indeed, the fascinating structural feature of the play itself is that it allows a constant interpenetration of two moments: real time and remembered time. We have already noted, for example, that the boasting, advice and foul play of Ben, though all in the past, is reenacted in the present. This is because Willy himself — who is the centre of consciousness in the play — finds it increasingly hard to tell the difference. In technical terms, Miller is fusing the traditional social drama known as naturalism with the more adventurous psychological drama known as expressionism. But what matters is the insight into ideology: not only does it serve the status quo, the way society seems always to have been, but it also traps individuals in their own permanent pasts, obscuring the possibilities of the future. Significantly Willy, who has functioned by deceiving himself (‗Business is bad, it‘s murderous. But not for me, of course‘), comes to such realisation as he does about his plight when, declaring to Buff after the interview with Howard Wagner that ‗I was fired‘, he reflects: ‗The gist of it is that I haven‘t got a story left in my head...‘. Ideology is the story we tell ourselves rather than face the reality of our situation. It is because Miller is more interested in tracing the psychological roots of oppression than in producing a propagandist drama that he focuses so much on the family. The crucial relationship here is between fathers and sons. For if we are bound to the past, it is largely through our relationships with our parents. Willy in the present of the play is the father, but in the still-active past he is the son: prompted by the sound of his father‘s flute and by the ghostly presence of his elder brother — in effect a father-figure — he is helpless within time, condemned to repeat himself interminably. Hence his tediously reiterated insistence that the only way to succeed is to be ‗well-liked‘. This immature faith shelters him from the actuality of, on the one hand, the success of Charley and his son Bernard (not ‗liked‘), and on the other, from the failure of himself and of Buff and Happy (definitely ‗liked‘). Such repetition of what seems to him obvious but which is in fact false, along with the empty salesman‘s slang which Miller captures so convincingly (‗You guys together could absolutely lick the civilised world‘), keeps this ‗low-man‘ (Loman) down where he is, and always was. After all, the very name ‗Willy‘ is infantile, signifying a refusal to grow up. If Philip Larkin is right that ‗Man hands on misery to man‘ (‗This be the verse‘), then Willy‘s sons, encouraged to keep their own equally immature nicknames (‗Biff‘ and ‗Happy‘ into adulthood, both seem condemned to repeat their father‘s failure and relive his self-deception. But families are always more complicated than that. If we are to discuss the effect of Willy on his children, we must carefully distinguish between Happy and Biff. The former enjoys the less complex influence. He can dismiss Willy callously when his disturbed behaviour in the restaurant proves embarrassing in front of two ‗girls‘ whom the ‗boys‘ have been trying to impress: ‗No, that‘s not my father. He‘s just a guy.‘ Paradoxically, it is he also who in the final ‗Requiem‘ can pronounce: ‗He had a good dream. It‘s the only dream you can have — to come out number-one man.‘ Either way, we may conclude that Happy is condemned to repeat Willy‘s error: after all, the callousness is only consistent with the ideology of self- interest within which he has been raised. Biff, however, is both closer to and more distant from his father. Early on, Happy observes that when Willy is talking to himself. Most of the time he‘s talking to you‘. And indeed. theirs is the crucial relationship as

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far as the plot development is concerned. Willy‘s anxiety about Biff‘s career failure — which results from the son‘s traumatic discovery of the father‘s extra-marital affair — is crucial to his decline. And it is, ironically, only after believing that he has at last regained some filial affection that Willy feels strong enough to make his ultimate sacrifice:
Willy: [after a long pause, astonished, elevated]: lsn‘t that — isn‘t that remarkable? Biff— he likes me! Linda: He loves you, Willy! Happy: [moved]: Always did, Pop. Willy: Oh Biff! [wildly] He cried! Cried to me. [He is choking with his love, and now cries out his promise] That boy — that boy is going to be magnificent!

But even as Willy feels closest, he is furthest apart. His last assertion demonstrates that he has learnt very little; he is still fooling himself. He can only envisage Biff in the simplistic language of football heroics which he has always used (‗When the team came out — he was the tallest, remember?‘). Of the two, it is the son who has advanced, who has understood:
I am not a leader of men, Willy, and neither are you. You were never anything but a hard-working drummer who landed in the ash-can like the rest of them! ... I‘m not bringing home any prizes any more, and you‘re going to stop waiting for me to bring them home! ... Pop, I‘m nothing! I‘m nothing, Pop. Can‘t you understand that? ... Will you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens?

Indeed, of all the characters in the play, it is only Biff who earns the right to declare, during the ‗Requiem‘, that ‗I know who I am.‘ Charley, the benign capitalist, can only offer a sentimental justification of a salesman‘s ‗dream‘ (‗It comes with the territory‘); Happy vows to prove that ‗Willy Loman did not die in vain‘; and Linda is left sobbing pathetically, ‗We‘re free... .We‘re free...‘. What Linda means, of course, is that the house has been paid for: the family are ‗free and clear‘ from that particular financial constraint. But otherwise, the final impression is of a life going on much as before, with most characters sharing Willy‘s illusions. Ideology, we have already said, binds people to the past. Its opposite — what we call ‗utopia‘, the vision of the future — is scarcely glimpsed in the play. Only Biff, with his refusal of the salesman‘s role and his resolve to move away from the world of urban capitalism, offers anything like an alternative conviction:
I stopped in the middle of that building and I saw — the sky. I saw the things that I love in this world. The work and the food and time to sit and smoke.

The final question, then, is how far is this vision valid? Given that the play‘s title (‗a salesman‘ not ‗the salesman‘) indicates that Willy is not to be regarded as isolated and exceptional, we may fairly grant Biff as much right as his father to the ultimate recognition of the play, to its tragic enlightenment. But though the elder son is the one who has seen through the Loman lie, what credence can we give his own vow of authenticity? On the one hand, Biff‘s alternatives could be seen as Miller‘s ideals: creative labour, not selling oneself; a natural environment, not the demonic metropolis. On the other hand, the very same ideals are evoked by the flute music which recurs throughout the play, which is identified with the pioneer spirit of the father whom Willy wishes so much to emulate. There is an ambiguity here. Moreover, Ben‘s ruthless acquisitiveness is conveyed in such a way as to deepen that ambiguity: the ‗jungle‘ signifies not only the escape into nature and freedom but also the very workings of urban capitalism itself. If we have ended by demonstrating the playwright‘s perspective to be implicated in the confusion of his times, that is only to be expected. Literary works may expose and question ideology; but they are themselves ideological. What is wrong with Willy Loman is what is wrong with all of us, reader and author alike. It is never possible simply to transcend the illusions of the age. Utopia, which really means ‗nowhere‘, cannot be envisaged directly. It is only available to us through the inarticulate hopes of a Biff: beyond that, through the complex — and necessarily contradictory — vision of a play like Death of a Salesman.

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

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AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

AJB’s Exam Guidance for 6ENX

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