Because of the ongoing school closures and the uncertainty and anxiety which this causes all Leaving Cert students, I have brought together here in one post links to a series of relevant notes which you may consider useful in your English course studies for 2020. These notes cover Single Text, Comparative and Poetry Sections.
Caveat Emptor! Leaving Cert Student Beware !! These are resources which you should use wisely. They are personal responses to the various texts and you should read and consider them if you find them useful. IN OTHER WORDS, MAKE YOUR OWN OF THEM, ADD TO THEM OR DELETE FROM THEM AS YOU SEE FIT. ALSO, YOU MIGHT SPREAD THE WORD, DON’T KEEP THEM ALL TO YOURSELF!
THE SINGLE TEXT
(You know the drill, click on the link!)
The Playboy of the Western World
THE COMPARATIVE STUDY QUESTION IN 2020
This section was introduced in order to bring some variety and interest to the manner in which texts are studied at Leaving Cert. level and to give students another perspective on the potential of literature in their lives.
Although literary texts are aesthetic artefacts they can be gainfully approached from a range of other viewpoints, e.g. cultural, historical, social, which can enrich our understanding of the role and significance of literature.
Studying texts comparatively from these perspectives invites students to interact with the different worlds encountered and to make discriminations and evaluations. Such study will hopefully reflect back on the student’s own world and raise her or his awareness of it.
MODES OF COMPARISON
For each Leaving Certificate course, three modes of comparison will be prescribed. This means that the texts chosen for comparative study must be studied under these particular modes (headings).
This year the modes of comparison at Higher Level are as follows:
• Literary Genre
• Theme or Issue
• Cultural Context
Two of these three will be examined in 2020.
This mode focuses on the ways that texts tell their story. This is also a legitimate basis for comparison: whether it is a tragic play, a detective thriller, a film, a historical novel, an autobiography or a travel book. (The amazing thing is that all these differing genres are available for study on this course!).
The following questions should be asked about the texts being studied by you:
• How is this story told? (Who tells it? Where and when is it told?)
• Why is the story told in this way?
• What effects do all these have?
• Is there just one plot or many plots? How do these relate?
• What are the major tensions in the texts? Are they resolved or not?
• Was this way of telling the story successful and enjoyable?
• How do the texts compare as stories?
• Is the story humorous or tragic, romantic or realistic?
• To what genre does it actually belong?
• Because your three texts are so different you have to be very aware of how different the experience of encountering a novel, a play, and viewing a film is.
Theme or Issue
This involves comparing texts on a prescribed theme(s). These would have to be themes that were pervasive and central to the texts chosen for study e.g.
- Isolation and Loneliness
- Fantasy and reality
These themes/issues will be the messages or concerns that the writer or film director wishes to impart to the audience. In most texts, there will be a number of themes/issues worth considering
Your task, therefore, in this section is to compare and contrast the same theme as it is treated by different authors or film directors.
Compare the texts focusing on social rituals, values and attitudes. This is not to be seen as a sociological study of the texts alone. It means taking some perspectives, which enable the students to understand the kind of values and structures with which people contend. It amounts to entering into the world of the text and getting some insight and feel for the cultural texture of the world created. This would imply considering such aspects as the rituals of life and the routines of living, the structures of society, familial, social, economic, religious and political: the respective roles of men and women in society, the position of children, the role and nature of work, the sources and structures of power and the significance of race and class.
When you answer a question in the Comparative Section remember that you have to be selective in emphasising the most meaningful similarities and differences between texts. The more similar they appear to be, the more provocative and challenging it is to contrast them and to draw out differences between them. Remember also that when you draw out surprising or disputable similarities or differences, you require detailed support from the texts.
In a Comparative answer, it is vitally important to compare and contrast these different ways of looking at life, or to examine if there is coherence or a lack of coherence between all these differing viewpoints.
THE COMPARITIVE STUDY
• There are three modes of comparison this year – literary genre, themes and issues, and cultural context. Two of these modes will be examined this year.
• Four questions will be offered in this section to cater for the variety of texts that have been studied. (Only one question is to be answered from this section.) You must read each question carefully and in full to see if it suits your own set of texts.
• Some questions will be in the form of a statement to be discussed. Others will be presented in parts with the marking for each part clearly stated following the question.
• It is vitally important that you remember that the questions here will be mode-specific and not text-specific. Remember that you must approach this section with the comparative headings in mind and then you must apply them to your chosen texts.
• You should bear in mind that, as with the single text, e.g. Hamlet, you must avoid the easy option of merely summarising the story. This will fill up pages (and pages!) of foolscap and will give the impression of writing a lot but will not give the examiner the opportunity of awarding marks. Remember, THINK, ANALYSE, PROVE AND SUPPORT your points as you go.
• The most important words to remember in writing answers here in this section is COMPARE and CONTRAST. You should present texts alongside one another and then compare, contrast and think about interesting parallels and divergences as they arise.
• Remember to have your KEY MOMENTS well prepared for this section so that you can make use of them in comparing one text with another.
Links to Notes on Comparative Texts
A Doll’s House
The Great Gatsby
The Spinning Heart
THE POETRY SECTION IN 2020
I include links to FIVE of the eight poets on your course here – simply click on the link.
REMEMBER ALL THIS WILL PASS – STAY SAFE AND KEEP THOSE CLOSE TO YOU SAFE ALSO.