11 Dec 2014

Would You Like to Contribute?

Would you like to contribute to the site? Have resources or essays you'd like to share? We are looking for contributors - students, teachers, tutors and examiners - working in all areas of 11+, 13+ GCSE, IGCSE, IB, A-Level and creative writing.

Articles or essays should be between 300-1000 words. If accepted, these will be paid at £25 per 700 words and must be your own original work. We also commission new work. Contact me here and please type 'RESOURCES' in the subject line.

We are especially looking for US contributors to develop resources to follow the American curriculum.

Topics We Need

  1. GCSE and IGCSE Creative Writing
  2. Writing to Argue
  3. Top grade exam answers
  4. Teacher's notes or questions set on a specific text or topic
  5. Romeo and Juliet
  6. Macbeth
  7. Jekyll and Hyde
  8. A Christmas Carol
  9. Great Expectations
  10. Cambridge IGCSE Language Exam
  11. Stories of Ourselves
  12. OCR and WJEC Language Exams
  13. any of the AQA AS and A-Level texts (Gothic, Love, Comedy, Narrative etc)
  14. IB texts, especially IB Critical Commentary.
All topics and texts will be considered.

Who Can Contribute?

Teachers, tutors, examiners, English graduates or GCSE and IGCSE students working at A* or A (6) and above at A-Level or IB.

Contact me here and please type 'RESOURCES' in the subject line.

17 Sep 2014

New Website

The new site will launch in late December, with more content on more novels, more Shakespeare, more poetry and tons more IGCSE resources as well as everything you could ever need for GCSE, 11+, Common Entrance and A-Level and IB as well as a totally new section on Creative Writing with brand new top grade stories.

As you can probably imagine, this is taking time to create, and all new posts are going into the new site.

The new site will be at the same address: http://curvelearn.com. It's shinier, faster, with better content, and much easier to use. We've worked hard on making it easier to find what you want with super awesome menus that have taken weeks to put in place.

There are new revision aids, new teacher resources - including lesson powerpoints, videos and quizzes and hundreds of new essays as well as new content on technical terms, spelling, punctuation and grammar.

I'm working on this at the same time as tutoring, so all resources are being tested to help you score top grades. I'd like to send a particularly big shout out to one of my students who somehow managed to score A* in English Language despite having all C grades in his coursework. He pulled an A* in Literature too, despite a B grade prediction. You are awesome!

I will be offering one to one tuition in central London this Easter - in Belgravia - so if you'd like to book a slot, get in touch. Rates for this are from £95 per hour. By arrangement, I can also tutor one to one - or via Skype - internationally. Contact me here. I also work with parents, tutors and teachers who are looking to build their skills.

12 Jun 2014

The Chase: Writing to Describe Brazil Rio de Janeiro

To celebrate the World Cup, here's a writing task set in Brazil. What finer backdrop to your own chase / hunt story? Grab useful describing words here. Get a story idea hereStart with a description: plan the locations you want to move through, place your obstacles, create helpers and set the weather. It gets hotter and darker as a thunderstorm rolls in from the sea. Think James Bond, Jason Bourne - any action hero you can imagine smashing up a city in a motorbike or sports car, then crashing through half-finished offices, leaping off scaffolding and slamming into concrete.
Copacabana (above). Cristo Redemptor statue (below).
The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.                                                                                  

5 Jun 2014

Superfreak: Bad Monkey

Superfreak is here! It's a funny take on climate change, catapulting and embarrassing families with a bit of terrorism thrown in. The end of the world is coming. Are you ready?

This YA novel deals with the kind of things teens have nightmares about. Frank and Eris' dad is colourblind with no sense of shame. Their school uniform is rust orange blazers with bright orange ties. Frank can't throw straight and he's really starting to worry: can recycling yoghurt pots really save the world?

Read - and listen to - the first chapters for free. Learn about how the characters were created, how to build characters in your own writing. See concept art, and what bits of the story got chucked out because they were just too crazy.

"Hilarious, brutal, brilliant"


"A dazzling achievement"

Listen to the story...

19 May 2014

How to do Critical Commentary for IB

The IB critical commentary paper for English tests your understanding of how writers use language to create effects on the reader. It also tests your understanding of features of genre, audience and purpose, as well as your ability to compare. The exam is two hours long.

You can learn this to help you remember:
Form (genre)

Questions to ask: what is the subject matter/theme or topic?
What is the type of writing? e.g. travel writing... is it a letter (epistolary), article, blog, website, brochure? Look at the dates, as these might inform the writing styles used, e.g. eighteenth and nineteenth century texts use more hypotaxis, rhetorical styling and longer, more self-consciously literary imagery and elegant, latinate vocabulary. But age won't be the only feature that determines the styles used. Other features are:
Writer and audience: e.g. audience is the general public, vs a close friend
e.g. Both texts deal with the same subject matter which is travel to Tonsberg, however they were created two centuries apart.  The difference in age determines the style to a certain extent: the epistolary style of Wollstonecraft's letter uses more hypertaxis, complex, latinate vocabulary and self-consciously literary reference. The aim is elegance, and perhaps to paint a picture of a culture that her reader will never explore. In contrast, the website is a sales document, structured for the reader to consume in a non-linear fashion, jumping first to the images, which dominate. Subheaders and subsections break the information into discrete categories, using short simple sentences for ease of understanding as the audience here needs to be as wide as possible. Accessibility is far more important than literary complexity. 

The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.                                                                                

13 May 2014

Jem, Scout, Dill and Boo Radley Essay: Childhood World in To Kill a Mockingbird English Exam

Analyze the childhood world of Jem, Scout, and Dill and their relationship with Boo Radley in Part One.

Part one of the novel focusses on childhood life, representing the theme of innocence, but also of prejudice. The novel is told from Scout’s point of view, with the limitations of a child she doesn’t understand everything that happens or why. She states quite blankly ‘Radley pecans would kill you’. What’s ironic about this is that what she says is actually this point of view of the Maycomb townspeople: it’s just something she’s repeating without questioning it. Sometimes she makes perceptive interpretations because her innocence is also free of prejudice. She can see through the pretentions of Maycomb: “bought cotton”, she says, is ‘a polite term for doing nothing’. At times she becomes contaminated by others’ prejudices as where she says “he’s just a nigger”. Atticus tries hard to correct her. Lee uses the dynamic between him and his children to show the negative influence of Maycomb society. Though he tries to bring them up well, they’re so immersed in the values typical of 1930s southern America, it sometimes comes out in their language. Lee is using the eyes of a child to question a society she knew intimately from her own childhood.

The first section deals with Boo Radley, who dominates their imagination in the ‘Boo Radley game’, but who we only see vaguely, and then from a distance. Boo Radley is one of the mockingbirds in the book, but at first, we see him (through the eyes of prejudice) as a monster. This brings out the theme of being guilty until proven innocent, a theme brought to deadly effect in the Tom Robinson plot. At first, we scoff at Scout’s childish superstitions and fear of Boo, as where she talks of a ‘malevolent phantom’. She states quite plainly as fact that he ‘dined on raw squirrels’, ‘cats’ and says matter of factly, that’s why his hands were ‘always covered in blood’. The way Lee writes, it’s almost like a fairytale monster made real: it’s a weird mix of plain simple style with outlandish ‘facts’ which we can hardly believe are true. We think at first this is just childish fantasy, then Lee keeps repeating ‘People said...’ and we realise the whole town is full of this gossip: it’s the adults too. Childhood monsters are sinister - to a point. What’s really sinister is the witch-hunt mentality of the town, which comes to a brutal conclusion with the guilty verdict on Tom Robinson.

The name ‘Boo’ suggests childish scaring games and brings in the theme of fear: of the unknown. Boo is described as an ‘unknown entity’: the very unknown-ness is what scares them. Scout focusses heavily on Boo at the start of the novel, giving this concept of childish monsters a lot of emphasis. It’s hard for us to tell what’s real and what’s not, which may echo the fears and prejudice at the later trial as Atticus strives to uncover what really happened (and what didn’t). By making this parallel, Lee shows up how thin the veneer of civilization is in the adult world: laid over fear of monsters. Atticus tells the kids to stop ‘tormenting’ Boo, which we later link to the tormenting of Tom Robinson. The kids are attracted to Boo, ‘fascinated’ by him as much as they’re scared, just as Mayella is fascinated by the strangeness of the black man.

Scout narrates a history of how Boo became a recluse: the punishment of ‘being locked up for fifteen years’ is out of proportion to the crime. We get the feel that his father may have made him this way through a cold brutality, which is somewhat disturbing. Scout says ‘they were all scared of him’. Because of Scout’s earlier lies though, it hard to distinguish fact from fiction, as in the Robinson trial, and we’re left with a unsettling feel, that we can’t get to the bottom of it. We look to Atticus for an objective judgement and he says ‘no’ Boo wasn’t chained to the bed, but “there were other ways of making people into ghosts”. It’s a disturbing image of someone alive but dead at the same time, and taps into the theme of how people can be corrupted and psychologically destroyed. The kids become obsessed with making Boo Radley ‘come out’. This quest symbolises the quest for truth: when he finally does, he speaks ‘in the voice of a child afraid of the dark’. He’s not fearful and not as he’s been described. The kids’ curiosity almost becomes a monster in its own right, dragging into the light something that doesn’t want to be seen. Ultimately, it’s a let-down, and she says “I never saw him again”. This relentless hunt builds tension but ultimately the climax is an utter anti-climax. The hunt for Boo could represent our fears, prejudice, and the hunt for truth, where the real monster is ourselves. The real monster in Maycomb is the people of Maycomb.
The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.                                                                                  

Scout, Jem and the Boo Radley Game: First Half To Kill a Mockingbird Analysis

How does Lee explore the children’s world in the first half of the novel?

Through the character of Scout, Lee explores the world of the South in the 1930s. This was also her own childhood time, so she’s painting a picture of a lost world, which she loved, but which also had its problems. Through Scout, Lee deals with the problem of being a ‘lady’, society, being ‘poor’ but trying to be a ‘gentleman’ and what it means to be as ‘brave’ as Atticus wants. Her relationship with Atticus, Calpurnia and her brother all develop through this section. In the ‘Boo Radley game’, their fear and ‘fascination’ with the ‘unknown’ echoes what will later happen to Tom Robinson.

The story is told largely through the naive eyes of Scout as a six-year old. She says, quite seriously, that Boo ‘ate squirrels raw’, something she could hardly believe as an adult. When she sees snow for the first time it’s touching as well as funny. She thinks ‘the world’s endin’, and every scrap of snow is as precious to them as diamonds. Her child-like view means Lee can play on the tension of what the reader sees, but Scout doesn’t: that the legend of Boo conceals a damaged individual, that Miss Caroline is young and out of her depth. These layers gradually peel back as Scout grows up. Miss Maudie tells her “It’s about time you found out it’s because he lets you [beat him at chess].

Through the novel, Scout introduces us to the world of the South. She says Atticus was ‘related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town’, showing close ties and the importance of heritage. Their history is linked to the ‘land’ - all that they retained once they were ‘stripped of everything’ by the civil war. She says proudly, ‘there had always been Finches at Finch’s Landing.’ Aunt Alexandra and other relatives have a grander feel, though Atticus explains to her that he is “very poor”. The sense of belonging is huge, of ruined former glory. At the time she knew it, she says, ‘Maycomb was a tired old town’. She feels she can speak for her world, as shown where she is nominated as class spokesperson to explain to Miss Caroline why Walter Cunningham won’t take money. She understands pride and “shamin”, which links to the idea of dignity, even in poverty, which was a defining feature of the almost-aristocratic South. Ideas of ‘pride’ and what it is to be a ‘gentleman’ feature heavily in Scout and Jem’s world.

Justice is introduced at the start as brutal, and being more like revenge. The language is far from child-like, and sounds like the adult Scout’s voice. She quotes Atticus’ first clients (who were all hanged) who insisted: ‘the son of a bitch had it coming to him was a good enough defence for anybody’. To us this sounds a ridiculous defence, and in fact, the clients were hanged. But summary justice happens later in the book to Tom Robinson, proving Atticus’ later point that “reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up”. This links to Scout’s world because she herself (as a child) takes a ‘the son of a bitch had it coming to him’ approach to justice. When Francis badmouths her father she tries to “knock his block off”. Corporal punishment is the norm. She says Calpurnia’s hand is ‘as wide as a bed slat and twice as hard’ and Miss Caroline ‘whipped me’ - in the latter case, quite unfairly. Likewise, Uncle Jack punishes her severely without finding out what really happened - that she was “provocated”. Through this, Lee brings out the theme that summary justice isn’t often fair and that it isn’t only the children who misunderstand.

Lee introduces us to a variety of Southern types, especially feminine ones. Calpurnia is a loved and respected member of the household - and black. In this way, Lee shows that black/white relations could be positive. Before the civil war, 47% of the population of the lower South was black slaves (29% in the upper South). The old system of household slaves - rather than field slaves, which formed the bulk - evolved into servants like Calpurnia who could (sometimes) become a beloved, and important member of the family in a way that rarely happened in the North. Though black people in the Northern States were ‘free’, they were not as much part of people’s everyday lives. Calpurnia teaches Scout to read, gives the children discipline, teaches them to be noble, and takes them to church. Scout shows her respect as she watches her, saying ‘I began to see there was some skill involved in being a girl’, where previously she has suffered ‘the pain of being called a girl’. Femininity is troublesome to Scout. Aunt Alexandra suggests she ‘wasn’t supposed to be doing anything that required pants’. Scout links femininity to a loss of power. So the fact she is reconciled to it by the feminine skill of her black housekeeper gives huge dignity to the character of Calpurnia - over Aunt Alexandra - a more traditional ‘lady’.

In the character of Miss Maudie, Lee presents a true old-fashioned Southern lady, now impoverished. When describing her, Scout’s language is heavenly: she had a ‘benign’, ‘reign over the street in magisterial beauty’. The words ‘reign’ and ‘magesterial’ both suggest queenly power, another image of nobility. Even the scent of her mimosa is ‘like angels’ breath’, a simile that adds to the divine effect. Miss Maudie is wise and ‘reasonable’, and usually agrees with Atticus. Scout says she is “the best lady I know” - high praise. Miss Maudie brings light to things Scout doesn’t understand, and explains some of the mystery of the Radley house. She illuminates yet another of the unreasonable prejudices of the book: “footwashers think women are a sin by definition”. Then she explains “sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle”, showing the power people have to corrupt even good things, and how some (like Atticus) can never be corrupted. This character allows Lee to show an outside, unbiased perspective on Atticus contrary to the majority who insult him. Miss Maudie is the epitome of all that was good about the South and the destruction of her house is symbolic of its destruction in the civil war. All the neighbours gather to help, saving what they can. In the end, she is placid: she has always, she says, wanted to build something new. Scout can’t believe she isn’t “grievin”. Miss Maudie is unbreakable, though she’s “ruined” her hands saving her home: ‘brown with dirt and dried blood’, she ‘whooped’ and is ‘chuckling’.

In contrast to Miss Maudie, is Mrs DuBose. Scout says she is ‘vicious’ and ‘melancholy’ and later gives a close-up sensory description that makes the skin creep. She says she’s: the colour of a ‘dirty pillow-case’, her mouth ‘glistened with wet’, ‘knobbly’ and ‘her pale eyes had black pin-point pupils’. We feel disgusted too. Later, we see the same thing from another angle as Lee introduces Atticus’ explanation: Mrs DuBose was terminally ill, “suffering” and struggling bravely against addiction to the drugs “the doctor put her on” as “pain-killers”. Our disgust and fear turns to compassion. But even at the end, Lee won’t give us a clean reversal. Mrs DuBose isn’t wholly good. She “disapproved heartily” of Atticus, but respects him at the same time, calling him “to make her will’, to share her private struggles, and again at her death. It’s a difficult contradiction to get to grips with, especially in the black-and-white universe of Scout’s mind.

Lee links Mrs DuBose’s death to two other issues. The first is the Tom Robinson case. Atticus explains Mrs DuBose’s struggle, and tells the children that her death is an important symbol that “I wanted you to see”. He says it was “real courage” to fight on “when you know you’re licked before you begin”. He uses a very similar phrase about the Tom Robinson case when talking to Uncle Jack. And when he talks to Scout about the case, he makes another link: this time, to the Civil War. He says he won’t win, and that things will get bad: “This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we’re fighting our friends. But … no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home.” Here, and in Mrs DuBose’s death, Lee is drawing a picture of the dignity of the South, in suffering, in defeat - in all the poverty we see through the book, she shows them still holding their heads up, though they might be ‘crying with hunger pains’, without shoes, without money, ruined by the Great Depression that followed hard on the heels of the civil war.

The narrative style therefore brings up the theme of the book: you have to see it from the inside. It isn’t what you think. Lee isn’t just challenging Southerners’ prejudices about black people. She’s also challenging Northerners’ prejudices about the South.
Up to HERE

she learns her daddy really is a ‘nigger-lover’ but comes to see it not as an insult, but a principle of his character.

Lee wants to show the innocence of childhood, with raw emotions, and takes us on a journey as Scout learns to control them. We often find her ‘fists clenched’, ‘ready to let fly’, and she and her brother are sometimes cruel. Atticus says they are ‘tormenting’ Boo. What seems a game to them has a darker side. We follow as they learn to be good, getting ‘accustomed’ to insults and ‘walking in another man’s shoes’. Lee shows us coming of age, where innocence is not always pure. They are fierce about injustice, but have to learn a subtle lesson about turning the other cheek. When Jem
“It’s about time you found out it’s because he lets you.”
, and also how brutal, naked of narrative tidying-up.

In the Deep South, things rarely changed. After the civil war, the people were robbed of all their money, so the only way a society could be made was how people behaved and lived. For example, as a child, Scout knows that within white culture their is a social strata. When at school, Miss Caroline offers to give Walter Cunningham Jr. money, yet he won't " borrow" due to his pride. Here we see how though Cunninghams are poor, they are rich in pride and honour. This is also in how little chuck is a " born gentleman", as if he instinctively knows how to behave properly with dignity. He stands up for Miss Caroline, when he is "half" Burris Ewells height, demonstrating his courage. Harper Lee shoes the Ewells to be the bottom of the social hierarchy. Though, like the Cunninghams, they have no money, they are incredibly rude and indecent. He calls her a " snot nosed slut", bad language which is incredibly alarming for a child of his age, putting the Ewells at the bottom of social order.
The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.

To Kill a Mockingbird Past Exam Questions for AQA 47101H

AQA Exam Questions for To Kill a Mockingbird. Get links to each past paper for the literature exam, AQA 47101H.

The questions here are on theme, for part (b). Notice that the examiners are testing in depth language analysis in part (a). So part (b) is a great place to link to the social and historical context, as well as the larger structures and themes in the novel.

Get an online (searchable) pdf of the novel here.

June 2013 In the rest of the novel, how does Lee use the trial of Tom Robinson to show some of the attitudes of Maycomb society?

Jan 2013 After this passage, Mr Dolphus Raymond talks about “the hell white people give coloured folks”. In the rest of the novel, how does Lee show white people giving the black community “hell”?

June 2012 In the novel, how does Lee show that other people expect Scout to behave in particular ways? What do you think these expectations show about the society in which the novel is set?

Jan 2012 In the novel as a whole, how does Lee show what life was like in a small town such as Maycomb in 1930s southern America?

June 2011 How does Lee use Atticus in one other event in the novel to show injustice
in America in the 1930s?

Jan 2011 How does Lee present Mayella Ewell in the novel as a whole?
The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.

Essay on the Trial Scene in To Kill a Mockingbird AQA Extract Question English Literature Exam

How does Atticus’ Speech build the themes of the novel?

Lee crafts Atticus’ speech using a range of devices designed to appeal to the emotions as well as build a logical argument against racism. She appeals also to the principles of justice and the American constitution.

She first uses rule of three, with the absolute ‘all’: ‘all negroes lie’ etc to highlight how shocking people’s prejudices were. People wrote off an entire section of the population, which Atticus highlights through this hammering home of the word ‘all’. Then the rule of three highlights the prejudice that negroes are evil in all ways: in lying, morality and around women. This rule of three repeats three times as Atticus transforms the logic/prejudices of the typical southerner. In fact, he almost turns the accusation around on them. He challenges their ‘assumption’, and questions the quality of their ‘minds’. He appeals directly to them using the word ‘you’, and also to the high-ideal of ‘truth’, which is repeated to emphasise how central this is to justice/injustice. Atticus breaks down the artificial divisions into ‘all Negroes’ / ‘our women’ / a ‘particular race of men’ and zooms out ‘a truth that applies to the human race’. He emphasises our common humanity, refusing to break society down into ‘particular race[s]’.

His rule of three moves from ‘all negroes’ to ‘some negroes’ to ‘not a person in this courtroom’, to shift blame onto everyone, in just proportion. He also moves from ‘all’ to ‘never’ - from one extreme to the other. He shows that where truth is concerned, no one group has a monopoly on either wrongdoing or goodness.

Next, Atticus appeals to the authority of the American constitution. He brings up the inconvenient first principle: ‘that all men are created equal’, exactly as it appears in the founding of the nation, but a fact many Southerners conveniently chose to overlook when it came to black people. Where previously, Atticus says people are shades of grey, here he states it as an absolute truth, using ‘all’ and ‘are’. He admits this may seem something ‘hurling at us’ from the ‘Yankees’ and says some people use this in a ‘ridiculous’ way ‘out of context’, so seems to weaken his argument before he begins, but really he is anticipating their objections: not all are the same. He uses balanced constructions of ‘stupid and idle’ vs ‘industrious’, and uses comparatives: ‘smarter’, ‘more opportunity’, ‘more money’ then gives a touch of comedy saying ‘some ladies bake better cakes’. In this, he moves from the large features of humanity to the small, with everyday, homely details that should appeal to the audience, adding weight to his argument. He uses elevated, elegant language where he says some are ‘gifted beyond the normal scope’ which shows how he is associated with high ideals and beautiful ideas. The mood continues to lift when he says, although not all are the same, they are gifted by being ‘created equal’ in the eyes of the law. This shows the power of the law. It can make ‘a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller’. Atticus’ language also balances ‘stupid’ with ‘an Einstein’, as if the law is so magnificent it has the power to elevate and ennoble even the lowest of humanity, into the greatest. He repeats the word ‘equal’ as if it’s part of a logical equation that should be obvious, appealing again and again to the simple but powerful ideal of the constitution. The courts are ‘the great levelers’. This may refer to one of the many religious groups that came to America looking for freedom. His language continues full of high ideals, though he says ‘I’m no idealist’: he appeals to ‘integrity’ as a ‘living working reality’. It’s as if he says these ideals should be so basic that they seem day to day, woven into the mundane. Then he deals with the invidual as part of society: he says the law, though it is an abstract and high ideal, is ‘no better than each man’ on the jury. He appeals to their better nature contained within them shifting from large to small: ‘court’ to ‘jury’ to ‘each man’, highlighting the difference that each man can make.

Atticus is urging them individually to act correctly as well as reminding them of principles, but also showing them a more noble path. He asks them to ‘review without passion’. The word ‘passion’ could link to Mayella’s passion for Tom, the racist passions in the court, or even evoke the passion of Christ, wrongfully convicted despite his innocence. He appeals to ‘God’ to add religious as well as philosophical, and legal weight to the justice of his argument. Also, he stresses that this would be a restoration: of ‘this defendant to his family’, appealing to family-instincts and our common humanity as parents/husbands. The word ‘restoration’ also suggests a restoration of what’s right, that the rightful order has been disturbed by this trial.
The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.

To Kill a Mockingbird Quotes for Exam Revision GCSE English Literature

One page of key quotes to learn for the English Literature exam on To Kill a Mockingbird, for AQA or the WJEC GCSE. Simple!

Finches: ‘stripped of everything but their land’ ‘related by blood or marriage’ a ‘tired old town’ Atticus ‘read to us, played with us’ and treated us with ‘courteous detachment’. Boo is an ‘unknown entity’. Mrs Dubose is ‘plain hell’. Dill is a ‘pocket Merlin’, ‘fascinated’ by Boo, the ‘neighbourhood legend’, ‘drooled’ ‘eyes popped’, ‘dined on raw squirrels’ R‘ragged’ kids ‘chopped cotton and fed hogs’ ‘immune to imaginative literature’ Scout asks A: Are we poor?/ ”We are indeed.”  Walter Cunningham (Scout) “You’re shamin’ him”
Little Chuck poor but a ‘born gentleman’. Burris: neck is ‘dark grey’, ‘rusty’, ‘black deep into the quick’. He talks ‘expansively’ a ‘hard-down mean one’: “snot-nosed slut of a schoolteacher” Atticus says of the Ewells: ‘disgrace’, ‘people but they lived like animals’, Mr Ewell ‘spends all his relief money on whiskey, his children ‘crying from hunger pains.’
Miss Maudie ‘benign’, ‘reign over the street in magisterial beauty’, mimosa ‘like angels’ breath’. Old Mr Radley “believe anything that’s pleasure’s a sin”. Scout: “Atticus says God’s loving folks like you love yourself”. Atticus: “stop tormenting that man” Jem “Atticus ain’t ever whipped me since I can remember. I wanna keep it that way.” ‘trembling’.

Atticus to Uncle Jack: children ‘can spot an evasion faster than adults’ Scout: “I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year When she sees snow thinks: “the world’s endin’” Atticus ‘seems that only children weep.’ (after Tom Robinson is killed) Atticus to Jem: It’s a sin to kill a mockingbirdFrancis: “a nigger-lover” “ruinin the family”   Mrs Dubose: “moral degradation

Calpurnia to Scout: ’it’s not ladylike’ Calpurnia ‘They’d think I was puttin’ on airs to beat Moses’ Scout but ‘you know better’  Calpurnia ‘it’s not necessary to tell all you know’ ‘made me think there was some skill involved in being a girl’   hand was ‘as wide as a bed slat and twice as hard’
Aunt A; don't talk ‘in front of them’ Atticus she’s ‘one of the family’ Aunt A: ‘disapproval’ ‘disgrace
‘Negroes worshipped in it on Sundays and white men gambled in it on weekdays.’
Mr Dolphus Raymond: ‘real good to those chillun’, ‘from a real old family’, ‘owns all one side of the riverbank’. Jem: “real sad” “don’t belong”, “Coloured folks won’t have ‘em” / “white folks won’t have ‘em” but Lee describes them as ‘happily’, ‘rich’, ‘beautiful’. Mr D says Dill is right to “cry about the hell white people give coloured folks, without even stopping to think that they’re people too.”

Atticus > Jem on Mrs Dubose “I wanted you to see what real courage is… when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

Jem: “If [people are] all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other?’  ‘I think I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the house all this time. It's because he wants to stay inside.” Scout: Why doesn’t Boo run off? Jem: ’Maybe he doesn't have anywhere to run off to

Town/Trial Jail ‘looked like a victorian privy’ a ‘respectable look’ When the men come for Tom they are ‘shadows’, ‘strangers’: ‘a gang of wild animals can be stopped’ ‘they’re still human’. Miss Maudie: ‘it’s like a roman carnival’ ‘holiday mood

Ewells ‘gave the dump a thorough gleaning every day’. ‘brilliant red geraniums’ Bob Ewell says Mayella was “screamin like a stuck hog”, “nigger nest”. M is ‘a young girl’, ‘fragile looking’ but ‘thick bodied’ ‘Her face was a mixture of terror and fury.’ ‘loneliest person in the world’ ‘white people wouldn’t have anything to do with her because she lived among pigs’. Tom helped her from ‘sheer goodness’ says she “sorta jumped on me” He is ‘soft black velvet’ ‘shone’ ‘flashes’ Bob Ewell:  “you goddamn whore, I’ll kill ya.”
Atticus says: This case is as simple as black and white” “not one iota of medical evidence… that the crime ever took place”… he says Tom Robinson “a quiet, respectable, humble Negro who had the unmitigated temerity to ‘feel sorry’ for a white woman” 
Mr Ewell “he did what any God-fearing, persevering respectable white man would do”
Atticus references Jefferson and the American Constitution: “our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal.”
The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.

6 May 2014

King Schahriar and his Brother Analysis Essay for Edexcel IGCSE English Language Exam

Possible Exam Questions
How does the writer create tension?
How is Sheherezade presented?
How is Sultan Schahriar presented?

This is the introduction to one of the most famous story collections in the world: The Thousand and One Nights, also known in English as The Arabian Nights. This extract is the framing narrative to all the other stories and sets up the central problem: a blood-thirsty (mad?) king, Schahriar, is murdering his way through all the women in the kingdom.
*framing narrative = the story that contains all the other stories, e.g. Wuthering Heights and Frankenstein both have framing narratives that introduce what we think of as the main story. Other examples are The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, and Boccaccio’s Decameron. Think of it as a picture frame.

How is Schahriar presented?

Schahriar rules a ‘prosperous and powerful’ kingdom. His line is ‘great’ and full of ‘praises’. He voluntarily divides his kingdom with his beloved brother. They ‘loved each other tenderly’. He ‘loved’ his first wife ‘more than all the world’, and his ‘greatest happiness’ was to please her. The language is elevated, gentle and generous with love as well as money and land. The transformation when he discovers her ‘shame’ (unfaithfulness) is abrupt: ‘he felt himself obliged to carry out the law of the land’ and has her killed.

‘The blow was so heavy that his mind almost gave way, and he declared  that he was quite sure that at bottom all women were as wicked as the sultana, if you could only find them out, and that the fewer the world contained the better.’ 

The writer describes a shocking transformation, from tender, loving man to a murderer. Schahriar has only one thought: the fewer [women] the world contained the better. Through this, the writer shows how our judgement can be warped by emotions, and how quickly love turns to hate. What’s especially dangerous here is that Schahriar’s hate extends not just to his wife but to all women. His wife was proven unfaithful, but the other women are not. This brings to mind rulers who extend brutality to all, without justice or evidence. This story considers the problem of absolute power. When informed by love, it’s good. When informed by hate, it’s devastating. Extreme and dramatic stories such as these were often written to teach Kings, in a subtle, polite way, how (not) to use their power.

Each night, Schahriar marries a new wife. Each morning, he has her killed. Schahriar’s belief (all women must die), his great power and his proven determination to carry it all build tension: ‘every day saw a girl married and a wife dead.’ This is a particularly sinister (dark) image: the word ‘girl’ suggests innocence, promise and fertility. The people’s reaction is ‘horror’, ‘cries’ and ‘lamentations’, and the sound of a ‘father weeping for the loss of his daughter, in another perhaps a mother trembling for the fate of her child’. Even those not directly affected realise they could be next. His subjects, who used to give him ‘blessings’ now give him ‘curses’. This represents any dictator through history, ruling through fear and murder, killing the very people - innocence, fertility, hope - on which his power rests. The language (blessings/curses) shows transformation from one extreme to the other, and how quickly it occurs.

At this point we meet Scheherazade.

How is Scheherazade presented?

She is contrasted with her sister, who has ‘no particular gifts’. Scheherazade’s are so numerous it takes some time to list them. She is ‘clever and courageous in the highest degree’. The superlative (‘highest’) emphasises how outstanding she is. It’s interesting we learn she is ‘clever’, brave and highly educated first, and only later that ‘her beauty excelled that of any girl in the kingdom of Persia.’ Her father, the ‘grand-vizir’ (chief minister to the King) has educated her to the highest level in traditionally masculine subjects. This emphasises how loved, she is. We see this again when her father says ‘I can refuse you nothing that is just and reasonable’. This emphasises the theme of justice and reason linked to Scheherezade and her father, in contrast to the Sultan. The love her father has for her builds tension when she demands to become Schahriar’s wife.

First, she says she is ‘determined to end this barbarous practice’. We’ve already been told she has ‘courage’; now we see it in action. Her wish to ‘deliver the girls and mothers from the awful fate that hangs over them,’ is truly noble: she will risk herself to save others. It also emphasises how monstrous Schahriar has become, that he has created this ‘awful fate’. Her father thinks it would be ‘excellent’ to end the deaths, but reacts with horror when he realises Scheherezade proposes to risk herself (as any father might). What’s interesting is that it takes a woman to challenge the Sultan. Even though her father is ‘just and reasonable’, he is still ‘delivering’ the girls to the sultan to be killed. This is a regime of terror. As a woman, Sheherezade has no power and will find herself - sooner or later - on the death list. From weakness, she finds strength. Unlike the men invested in the system, she has little to lose. Through the character of the Vizier, the writer shames men who silently enact the brutal wishes of dictators.

Her language is like a soldier’s. She knows ‘well’ that she may die and says: “I am not afraid to think of it. If I fail, my death will be a glorious one, and if I succeed I shall have done a great service to my country.” Her father says “I shall never consent.” and asks her to think of her duty as a daughter. At this point, she becomes a disobedient, ‘obstinate’ daughter. In literature of this period, this was one of the worst things a girl could be, but ironically, it emphasises how noble she is. Alone, she stands up against her family and other people’s silence - to save them from something they all know is wrong.

The Sultan’s reaction is ‘astonishment’ that his counsellor would “sacrifice your own daughter to me?” This scene emphasises the unnatural brutality of the regime, forcing fathers to kill their own daughters. The fact it is so open makes it worse. The Sultan tells the vizier: “you will have to take her life yourself. If you refuse, I swear that your head shall pay forfeit.” The vizier’s obedience is almost tragic. 

Once she gets her own way, Scheherazade tries to comfort her ‘grief’ stricken father. Then she asks her sister to help her, painting a sweet picture of co-operation and mutual support. What’s surprising is the murderous Sultan’s human tenderness when he sees the ‘tears in her eyes’. He asks to know what’s wrong and grants her request.
“I have a sister who loves me as tenderly as I love her.”
The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.

19 Apr 2014

GCSE English Language Exam OCR Comment on Headline and Picture

The full mark answer for the OCR Foundation English Language Paper question on presentation features is below the video. This is just a rough, quick one I put together, but hopefully some of you will find it helpful!

‘Children spend 7 hours a day in electronic life>

The headline states the simple shocking fact children spend a massive ‘7 hours’ online or on computers. This must be almost their entire free time. When the headline says ‘electronic life’ it’s as if these kids don’t have any real life at all.

Words like ‘slavish’ in the sub-headline suggest the kids have become enslaved, they’re not free, and it’s a frightening image, which has ‘alarmed’ experts, which means it must be really bad, as an ‘alarm’ is sounded when there’s danger and experts ought to know how serious this must be.

The image shows someone … yawning, or reaching up in excitement and the laptop is almost as big as she is, which suggests it is more important than her, or it’s taking her over. Her red top makes us think of danger. She’s got no shoes as if she’s going nowhere, and is trapped by the weight of this huge laptop.

The caption highlights the problem of kids being good at texting but not so good in the real world, ‘face to face’, as if they can’t face reality. The cartoon at the end shows a tiny baby, which is kind of shocking especially as the parents look so proud and his first word is written on a computer. He’s not looking at his parents and his teddy is thrown away, in a worrying picture of people who can’t relate to people even at a young age.

The author, , is an Oxford graduate, outstanding-rated English Language and Literature teacher and of ages 10-18 in the British education system. In 2012, she was nominated for Pearson's Teaching Awards. As a private tutor, she raises grades often from C to A. Her writing is also featured in The Huffington Post. She offers private tuition in the Haywards Heath area, West Sussex.