A submission!

Today we received a really nice email from a follower of the blog.  She also sent us a copy of her recent essay, about the power of language in Othello. It’s great, give it a read. Full credits to Anindita! x

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Les Enfants Terribles |# It’s Lit

WordPress is a force to be reckoned with, and it certainly doesn’t like English students who want to separate their content into “Academic Analysis” and “Controversial Readings and Weird Facts That Maria Cannot Keep To Herself.” The best I can do is put my posts under their own tag. #It’sLit

Lately, I’ve been reading Sarah Churchwell’s fascinating biography “Careless People”, which depicts the lives of the notorious Fitzgeralds in glittering detail. Described as “un enfant terrible”, F Scott Fitzgerald has gone down in history as a god-like figure of jazz age excess, and this book is an as absorbing a narrative as it is a factual account of his and Zelda’s Dionysian pastimes. I really recommend getting your hands on a copy if you’re studying The Great Gatsby either at AS or as a part of your coursework. I’ve compiled a few facts about the Fitzgeralds which will provide you with some slightly lesser known context for your essays. Do drop us a comment if you know anymore.


  • Zelda and Scott would ride around on taxi cabs. Not in them. On them. Like on the roof.


  • Zelda was seen as the first “flapper” girl. She drank, smoked, and wore short skirts, which in her era was seen as outrageous. She also famously jumped fully clothed into a fountain in New York, making her the perfect “permanently eccentric” inspiration for many of her husband’s female characters.


  • The Fitzgeralds are known as a 20s power couple, but their relationship was actually very rocky. They cheated on each other multiple times, and consistently accused each other of stealing the other’s writing. Zelda’s only novel “Save Me The Waltz” is said to have “inspired” some of Scott’s “Tender is the night.”


  • Zelda dreamed of being a dancer, and trained in ballet obsessively up until her breakdown. Zelda was diagnosed with schizophrenia, which at the time was an umbrella term applied to anxiety, delusion and manic depressive behaviors.  She was admitted to hospital in her later life, where she tragically died in a fire.




Literary Context of The Handmaid’s Tale


The Handmaid’s Tale is a book that draws heavily on ideas about genre and the purpose of literature to create its style and content. One of the Assessment Objectives (AO3/Context) requires you to understand these ideas and refer to them to reach the top grades. The level of detail I go into here is unnecessary and may even be detrimental to your essay — your examiner already knows what postmodernism is! All you need is a one sentence explanation, before you link the context in to your analysis.

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Alternative Critical Interpretations of A Streetcar Named Desire


One of the Assessment Objectives for A Streetcar Named Desire in the AS Drama and Poetry exam is AO5 – alternative critical interpretations. This AO does not exist for A Streetcar Named Desire in the A2 Drama exam but it can still count as AO3 (context). The following is a list of critics and critical perspectives that I have collected over the last year. While it is not necessary to know the names of specific critics or perspectives, it is helpful — but I know it is easy to forget, so you can replace their names with stock phrases, such as “Critics say…” or “Some have interpreted this as…”.

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Meet the New Bloggers!

Hi, we’re your new English Literature bloggers.

Unfortunately, Ella, Beth and Hadiyah have moved on to university where they will be studying and so they can no longer update the blog! We’ve been selected to replace them and continue to post great resources like revision notes and mind maps. We will start sporadically now but will pick it up properly in September. We also have notes for year 12 topics so don’t be alarmed if there is some overlap in what we post.

We will be making some changes too — but don’t be scared, we’re sure you’ll love them!

Maria, Martha, Oliver

P.S. You can always contact us on englishlityear12@gmail.com — we love corresponding, penpalship is the future.

Example Essay – Education and Social Class (Poems of the Decade)

Image © Artistmaterial

Here is another Poems of the Decade essay, this time on the question:

Explore the ways in which poets present the theme of education and social class in ‘Out of the Bag’ by Seamus Heaney and ‘Poetry’ by Tom Leonard

Click here to download the file (PDF)

‘Poetry’ was an unseen poem – it isn’t currently available online (that I can find), but you can read other poems by Tom Leonard on his website.


Commentary From Roderick Ford on ‘Giuseppe’

Image – Sicily © Radio Times

A follower of this blog, Anees Malik, has generously shared with us an email she received from Roderick Ford (the poet who wrote ‘Giuseppe’) detailing his own inspiration for and interpretation of the poem, which you can read below. However, it is important to remember, as the poet himself states, that any interpretation is valid, and you will still gain marks in an exam for a reading of a text which does not match its writer’s intention. It is also useful to keep in mind that AO3 is not assessed in the modern poetry unit, so referencing Ford’s views will not automatically gain you marks unless you link it to your argument (in the A2 exam, it should also ideally be linked to the unseen poem).

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Romantic Poetry Context

Image © The Wordsworth Trust

Broad Romantics – Dated between 1789 and 1848

Preceding – Augustan Age (1700-1750) was about wit, classical, well-educated: Alexander Pope, Age of Sensibility (1750-1798) was about emotion: Samuel Johnson

Jean Jacques Rousseau – “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains”. Believed that children are born naturally good and puts emphasis on creativity and the imagination which sought children out as said philosophers and closer to God. He challenged traditional moral and religious teaching, claiming “man is naturally good, loving justice and order”. He also argued that the ills of man would be cured with a return to nature.

Denis Diderot – Was a philosopher around the same time as Rousseau who believed future should be built on reason. He wrote the first Encyclopædia, mapping human development without God.

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