Cause and Consequence

Slim Potato

This post is as much for the JC2s as it is for the JC1s, which is to say we are reviewing a JC2 Prelim question and preparing the JC1s for the upcoming Promos. The JC1s have spent many a lecture (and tutorial) going through expository cause-and-consequence questions, starting from our review of the MYE question on Martha as a ‘victim of her own expectations’ and concluding with a practice question on ‘a sense of fulfilment or lack of it affecting an individual’s identity.’ For both cohorts, we will elaborate once more on the question requirements and how to approach the question below.

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Highlight Me

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This requested post provides a few suggestions on how to annotate your Paper 3 set texts. They are by no means exhaustive; in fact, I have also struggled to map out the key concerns and ideas in a way that allows us to compare them easily next year.

Do not panic if you have already highlighted and annotated your text in your own way. You can just refer to the suggestions below and see if you have missed any key ideas out, however unlikely the case.

Here are a few broad reminders and revision tips before we dive into the specifics:

  • Annotate your set texts either at the start or at the end of your revision process. Doing so at the start will help you revise your knowledge of the text. You can transfer the annotations from your lecture notes, tutorial notes and presentations (where applicable) into your exam copy. Some of you may find this a little risky, in which case…
  • Annotating your exam copy at the end of your revision cycle will help you discern what is relevant, what is crucial and certainly, what are the key words you would want to close-analyse as you write your exam answer.
  • You may highlight the same lines in different colours. Yes, this is allowed! We’ve heard from students that one institution in particular recommends using two exam copies to highlight different concerns and ideas — you can take this interesting idea up if you want… probably from next year onwards. 😉
  • And yes, please do underline key words for close analysis. This is useful for both Paper 1 (especially the PBQ where you can ‘spot’ passages beforehand) and Paper 3. Develop your own code for this if you want (e.g. double underline for superlative / absolute terms, underline punctuation for sentence types).
  • Practise referring to your exam copy while practising question analysis, writing an essay outline or writing an actual essay. The goal is to make retrieving relevant episodes, quotations and key words as easily as possible, so only practising this will put this to the test!

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Bring on the Promos

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Format

3 hours, 3 questions. Each section in the paper carries equal marks. We generally recommend you scan through all three sections once you are permitted to do so and start with the unseen. If you are flummoxed by the unseen, move onto the set texts and you can return to the unseen in a calmer state of mind. 😉

  • Section A – Paper 3 Unseen, choose either (a) drama excerpt or (b) poem.
  • Section B – Paper 3 Woman in Mind, choose one essay question from two.
  • Section C – Paper 1 Measure for Measure, choose either (a) essay or (b) passage-based question.

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Develop This!

Running dry on ideas? Only see “repetition” and the tone in one character’s lines? Really can’t find anything to say?

To develop your analysis of one point, you can think about the progression of a character / persona’s tone or effects — how the tone intensifies or shifts — while close-analysing the “key points” or “turning points” in the progression.

This close analysis means you have to: (i) explore the quotations in finer detail, looking out for nuances / minute differences (e.g. the reference to “Dad”); and (ii) explore the effects in finer detail, looking at how “desperation” is “not-so-desperate” early on, or how a patient appeal can escalate towards a firm demand.

Here are a couple of figures that might help, especially if you’re in the graph-plotting crowd. Evidently, I am too. 😉 Examples below are taken from the Proof (2000) extract in Paper 3 CA4.

Developing Your Analysis

Individuation

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In this follow-up post to Selfisms, we explore the concept of defence mechanisms and the projected self in more detail, via John Yorke’s study of Character Individuation in Into the Woods: a Five Act Journey into Story.

Characters create facades to mask the things they fear inside – we all do. A character’s facade, then, is an outer manifestation of an inner conflict. Faced with extreme stress some characters will laugh, others will cry, some will intellectualise, some may punish others. It’s a cornerstone of characterisation, but it’s a centrepiece of psychological theory too.

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Their Song

TheirSong

Having started on the significance of Albee’s title in our introductory lecture ‘The Wolves Amongst Us’, a return to the title – or more precisely Martha and George’s song – would help us consolidate what we have learned about the protagonists’ relationship, as well as their internal struggles. Some confusion about the the song has also arisen, partly because ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf’ (not to be confused with the title Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) is variously sung by Martha and George in different contexts for different purposes. These intentions stand alongside the song’s overall signification of a life without false illusions (‘Virginia Woolf’).

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Bleeding Lit


Or how to study for Literature (2018 edition)

In this pre-June break, long overdue post, we outline some of the study strategies beyond the standard mantras of ‘I will read my text over the holidays’ and ‘I will commit the notes to memory’ that you can and should commit to in the weeks to come. Some of these suggestions will apply directly to questions from the 2018 JC1 H2 Mid-Year Examination, with the reference to the compulsory passage-based question on Measure for Measure and the single-text essay question options on Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, while most are generic enough for all revision from this point forward. If you would like to clarify the suggestions, or want tailored feedback on your notes, drop me an email at my school-based address!

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Truly

Perfect Places

In our introductory JC1 Paper 3 lecture, we leaped into Lorde’s ‘Perfect Places‘, replete with the dilemmas and discontents of youth, and opened the doors to analysing patterns and words in literary texts.

This post takes the lecture on a journey to the familiar ‘Home’, drawing connections on the mind and self between the two songs. If you feel rather lost about ‘analysis‘, this post provides some guidance by examining a few words for meaning and effect. For our readers in JC2, you may find that the first section wanders (unintentionally) into unseen poetry comparison territory.

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