On Her Blindness – Revision Notes

Image: Blind Eye© Vimeo

‘On Her Blindness’ by Adam Thorpe is unusual territory when it comes to poetry because normally sight is dominant in poetry, yet the exploration of the mother’s loss of sight is unnerving. He uses direct experiences to demonstrate the impact that this disability had on his mother through details such as eating, dodgem-like awkwardness, and the long list of things she did while pretending she could still see, provoking sympathy from the reader as she exists in a ‘living hell’.

These details also remind us that she has become the “observed instead of the observing” – may suggests embarrassment to contrast with the fact that she “kept her dignity”.

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Essay Tips – Prose Structure

Here is a simple outline of the structure that I try to follow when writing my essays. It  is not necessarily the best way to write, there are many other effective ways, so don’t think that if you don’t like this structure or have a preferred way of organising an essay that it is not correct.

Remember to include AO1, AO2 and AO4 in every paragraph. And you must include AO3 at least once in your essay!

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Essay – The Dire Demise of Blanche Dubois

Image © Joaquim Gaspar

‘Blanche’s demise is caused by her incapability to face the harsh reality of the changing face of America’ – responds to this comment and explore William’s dramatic presentation of Blanche.

A Streetcar Named Desire tells the tale where a woman is caught in a fatal inner contradiction, which suggests that she would function in another society but not this new society of America. William’s makes it evident that the demise of Blanche Dubois was a consequence of several significant events in her life as one discovers as the play progresses; however it is her incapability to come to terms with the harsh reality of the changing face of America, which is more prominent in the pivotal years after World War II. It is this which escalates the whole tragic process and it can be argued that the males of the play, in particular Stanley Kowalski, represent New America.

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The Handmaid’s Tale – Context

Image © Stephanie Marshall

You won’t be able to get above a certain grade in the Prose exam if you don’t include context (AO3). Contextual information could be in the form of relevant historical or political information, a feature of the genre which is evident in the text, a quote from a critic or a link to the author’s own life or views, but to get the best marks for including it, you must link it to the argument in your thesis (for example, “Critic Anton Franks suggests that “Frankenstein himself [became] a kind of monster” in the act of bringing the creature to life, implying that the horror of witnessing the results of his research brought about a fundamental change in Victor’s personality, destroying his happiness and ambition, and thus dooming him as a victim of his own science.”). Examples of context for The Handmaid’s Tale include:

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Sample Essay – Blanche (A Streetcar Named Desire)

Blanche Essay


Here is a sample essay I wrote on how the question…

‘Blanche’s demise is caused by her incapability to face the harsh reality of the changing face of America’

In light of this comment, explore Williams’ dramatic presentation of Blanche (48 marks)

If there’s anything that you personally would like or feel would benefit you, please just ask and we’ll try to do it, it helps with our revision too!



Look We Have Coming to Dover! – Revision Notes

Image: White Cliffs© NOTE BENE

‘So various, so beautiful, so new…’ – Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’
This epigraph reminds us of the powerful literary heritage of Dover. Matthew Arnold’s poem is a famous poem written in 1851 which expresses society’s growing anxiety about the modern secular world. Nagra’s poem also echoes Arnold’s in the implied presence of  beloved to whom the poem is addressed. In contrast to Arnold’s poem, however, the title’s exclamation mark is expressive of an energetic optimism which sets the tone for what follows.

‘Look we Have Coming to Dover’ by Daljit Nagra alerts us to concepts of England and Englishness which are gleefully dismantled in the rest of the poem.

The title is grammatically incorrect, setting the context for a speaker for whom English is a second language. The mention of Dover, one of the key entry points into the UK for immigrants, legal and illegal, provides a further clue as to the narrative voice. Dover is also a deeply resonant English location, its famous white cliffs, a cultural shorthand for the country history as an island power.

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Essay Tips – Writing a Thesis Statement

Image © Online Learning Tips

You may not have come across the thesis statement before starting the A Level course – at GCSE you could get away with making a fairly vague generalisation about what you would include in your essay, which was essentially just the question written in statement form. However, at AS, the examiner will expect you to have a clear line of argument, and to express this as a short statement in your introduction. For example, for the essay question ‘Compare the ways in which the writers of your two texts [The Handmaid’s Tale and Frankenstein] use different voices’, my thesis was:

In both texts, Shelley and Atwood use contrasting narrative voices to explore the reliability of the narratives put forward by the principal narrators.

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