Teacher Julieta

English for life.

english essay a2

How to Write an Opinion Essay A2/B1

An opinion essay is a formal piece of writing in which you share your thoughts on a specific topic. You should express your opinion clearly and give reasons and examples to support your point of view.

Remember that when we write in formal style , we must not use contractions or informal words or expressions.

Parts of an opinion essay

An opinion essay must have 3 parts:

1. Introduction

In this paragraph you have to introduce the topic. You introduce the topic by restating the question or the title of the essay in your own words. Here you have to say if you agree or not with the question or the title of the essay. You can agree, disagree or partially agree.

In this section you have to support your opinion with reasons and examples. You must include at least three reasons. Break it into several paragraphs. Write one paragraph for each supporting reason. Don’t forget to include examples or facts.

3. Conclusion

Summarize your ideas and restate your opinion using different words.

Transition words and phrases

In your essay you have to organize all your ideas in a logical and coherent way. You can use different transition words or phrases to connect your ideas . Transition words and phrases help the reader understand your point of view easily.

In the table below there is a list of common transition words that you can use in your opinion essays.

english essay a2

Essay question: A1/B2 English learners should learn how to write an opinion essay. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

english essay a2

Here you can download a simple template that you can use to organize your ideas. You can replace the red words with other transition or linking words from the chart. You can also add more transition words to connect your ideas more clearly.

english essay a2


Dogs are better pets than cats. Do you agree or disagree. Why?

Write your answer in the comments below.

How to Express your Opinion in English

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24 thoughts on “ How to Write an Opinion Essay A2/B1 ”

Dogs are better pets than cats.

Nowadays, many people prefer to adopt dogs or cats, but which of them are the better pets? Personally, I think that it is better to have cats as pets for the following reasons:

First of all, cats are more independent than dogs. For example, if you need to go on a trip, cats can live alone for 3 or 4 days. In addition, you only need to put enough water and food in a bowl and a sandbox so they can pee and poop when they need.

Secondly, cats are very clean and you don´t need to pay for someone to bathe them, unlike dogs, which must be bathed at least every week, because they smell bad. In my experience, I had a cat 7 years ago and only needed to bathe him 3 times during 5 years, because, he used to bathe himself.

Finally, cats are more calm and quiet than dogs. For instance, cats sleep during the day and at night they wake up. However, they are very quiet so you can sleep relaxed. In addition, cats only meow softly and do not bark loudly like dogs.

In conclusion, cats are more lovely and better pets than dogs because they are very independent, clean, and calm animals. They are beautiful and they do not need a lot of care.

Great job Camila!!!! Please read the final essay and compare it with your draft.

Nowadays most people say that dogs are better compared to cats. However, I consider that you couldn’t say who is better because just by existing they are incredible. Therefore, I do not agree that any one is better than the other for the following reasons.

First of all, dogs and cats are house pets adaptable to any home. However, it depends a lot on the space where they are going to be. However, in terms of size, they can be perfectly adapted to each home.

Secondly, dogs and cats, if you educate them correctly, will have good grooming habits. So both of them are going to do the right thing and we wouldn’t say that one is better than the other.

Finally, I consider that dogs and cats are the best friends of humans in the world. They both give love unconditionally in any situation. Also, on the contrary, you can know when pets are happy, sad or have a health problem.

To conclude, dogs are not better than cats because both are excellent domestic pets and they adapt to each place and lifestyle, it only depends on us humans giving them love and care.

Like Liked by 1 person

Nowadays more and more pets walk into human families and become a member of them. Some people like dogs and others like cats. In my opinion cats are better pets than dogs.

First of all, you could have a cat no matter how big your family room is. Cats are smaller than most dogs so you do not need to have a big place for cats. Cats could sleep anywhere in your house and what you need to do is just prepare some food for them. However, if you have a dog, you need to prepare a big doghouse. So it is a little difficult if you live in a small apartment.

Second cats are more friendly than dogs. Most cats will not bark at people but dogs often do that to someone who is not familiar with them. It is a terrible feeling when your dogs bark at your neighbors.

Finally, the time you spend on taking care of your pets is less for cats. For instance, you do not need to take the cat out of your house every day if you are very busy after work.

In conclusion, cats are easy to take care of, for that reason I think cats are better pets than dogs.

Great job Li Yang. Please compare the final essay with your initial draft. 🙂

Dogs are better pets than cats. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

There is a dispute between those who love dogs and those who love cats. Each side believes that their pet is the best. In my opinion, every animal has pluses and minuses. However, I will say that cats are better pets than dogs.

Firstly, cats are 100 percent pets. They can sleep for hours, play, and look out the window.

Secondly, cats do not need a walk. And this means that cats do not need to wash their paws. They keep their bodies clean.

Thirdly, if cats love their owners, they like to sleep on them. Cats say mur-mur and calm their owners when they are sad or something hurts them.

Finally, cats behave calmly to guests. They can leave the room if they do not like something or someone.

Let’s sum it up. Should people buy a cat or a dog?. It is up to us. However, I will buy a cat. A cat is an ideal pet for me because I am an introvert.

Well done Olga! Please compare your first draft with the final version ☝️

Thank you very much for your help, Julietta! It’s so important to look at yourself from the outside.

Excellent material (for an otherwise dull topic)- Thanks a million from faraway Argentina!

Hi Maria! I’m happy to hear that this post was helpful. I know! Teaching/learning writing sometimes is quite challenging.

[…] factual information using a formal tone. As with other pieces of formal writing (for example, essays, formal emails, articles, etc.), there is a special format used to write reports in […]

Most people can say dogs are good pets for humans compared to cats. Personally, I think, it is not possible to say who is better because both are amazing pets. For this reason , I disagree that dogs are better than cats.

First of all, dogs and cats are perfect domestic pets. Nowadays, people live in different spaces and dogs and cats can live perfectly in this place only depending on the size of the pets. Additionally, both can adapt perfectly to a different lifestyle for families or single people.

Secondly, dogs and cats are amazing because they have facial expressions closer to humans and sometimes they are more expressive than humans. For example, you can know when pets are happy, sad or have any health problems.

Lastly, dogs and cats are humans’ best friends in the world. Both give love unconditionally to people and stay at all times (good and bad) with them . Furthermore, it is so difficult to say one love is better than the other .

That is clear, dogs are not better than cats because both are excellent domestic pets and they adapted to every place and lifestyle only depend only that humans give love and care.

Well done Karla!! ⭐

Nowadays, adopting dogs and cats is hands down the most popular option for people who want to get a pet . Personally, I consider, it is imposible to say which one is a better option because both are awsome. However, I think that cats are good pets for a number of reason s . To begin with, cats are loving. For instance, when you are upset or depressed, they always try to cheer you up with their company. Furthermore, they love sleeping with you. Secondly, cats do not need to go for a walk . And this means that you have more spare time for yourself or for playing with them. In addition, you can go out all day knowing that your cat is going to be fine all by itself . Last but not least, cats are friendlier than dogs. If they do not like something or somebody they will simply go out of the room. What is more, they sometimes enjoy playing alone. To sum up, cats are more affectionate than dogs, making then better pets than other animals.

Amazing job Gloria!!!

Nowadays dogs and cats have become part of the family, they are like people who cannot talk, but communicate through different acts, I particularly prefer dogs.

First of all, I prefer dogs because they are more friendly, affectionate and loyal. These pets have easily won anyone is heart. Their willingness to be part of the family, their enthusiasm when we come home and their ability to provide emotional support are irreplaceable qualities.

Secondly, walking with them not only helps with exercise, but is an opportunity to strengthen the bond between us and the dogs. Their playful nature and willingness to learn make living with a dog an exciting and joyful experience.

Finally, I think dogs are ideal for those looking for an active and affectionate companion, while cats are great for people who value independence and feline elegance.

In conclusion, although I love dogs more, the choice between a dog and a cat as a pet depends a lot on each person’s personal preferences and lifestyle.

In almost every home there is a pet, whether cats, dogs or other animals that become part of the family. However, everyone has their own preferences, in my opinion dogs are better than cats for the following reasons. First of all, if you have a more active lifestyle. Dogs are very active animals that like to walk, run and play to stay healthy and happy, while cats are more sedentary and prefer to sleep all day. Secondly, dogs are very obedient animals. If trained correctly, they can learn tricks and commands. In addition to being very affectionate animals. Lastly, dogs are very protective and loyal animals. If they see something they don’t like or something that could be a threat to their family, they will be willing to protect them. In conclusion, dogs are very good companions, they are affectionate, active, protective, and they are the best if you have a more active lifestyle, but I also think that it depends a lot on the person in charge, on their type of life.

Moderation in cell phone use is crucial in contemporary society for various reasons. Firstly, the abuse of mobile devices can have negative impacts on mental health, contributing to increased stress and anxiety due to constant exposure to social networks and notifications. Additionally, excessive use can affect interpersonal relationships by distracting people during face-to-face encounters.

Additionally, cell phone dependency can affect productivity and concentration in daily activities. The constant interruption by notifications and the compulsion to check the phone can undermine the quality of work and academic performance.

On the other hand, moderation in cell phone use is essential for road safety. Distracted driving due to phone use has been a major cause of traffic accidents. Implementing limits on cell phone use while driving is a necessary measure to prevent tragedies.

to conclusion, moderation in cell phone use is imperative to safeguard mental health, strengthen personal relationships, improve productivity and guarantee public safety. Setting conscious boundaries and encouraging responsible use of technology is essential for a healthy balance between digital life and reality.

Today, dogs and cats are the perfect companion in the home of the world. However, in my opinion, I prefer cats, this pet is wonderful and special partner of adventures and madness. Following, I say three reason for that cat is the best friend for human.

First, cat isn´t noisy, this pet is very quiet and calm, inside of house cat keep silence, because theirs legs are padding and when walking not make noise. In addition, meows of cats are soft and do not bark loudly like dogs.

Secondly, I considerer cats are clean because, this pet bathe with their tongue for this reason your cat not needed take shower always. For example, I bathe my cat « Mihos » every six months.

Finally, cats are more independent than dogs. In my experience, my pet go for a walk alone. For this reason, my cat not need to that stroll with me.

To conclude, cats are excellent domestic pets, they are pretty and mystics. And they will take care of your home and your heart. I always adore cats.

In Defense of Dogs: Man’s Best Friend The age-old debate of whether cats or dogs make better pets has long been a topic of discussion among animal lovers. While both animals have their merits, I firmly believe that dogs hold a special place in our lives as faithful companions. In this essay, I will present the reasons, in my opinion, why dogs are superior pets, offering unwavering loyalty, companionship, and numerous other qualities that make them man’s best friend.

First of all, dogs are renowned for their loyalty and unwavering devotion to their owners. They form deep emotional bonds and are always there to provide comfort and support, making them invaluable companions in both good and challenging times.

Secondly, dogs thrive on social interaction and physical activity, encouraging their owners to lead a more active and healthier lifestyle. Their enthusiasm for outdoor activities and playtime fosters a strong and positive relationship between humans and their pets, promoting a sense of well-being and happiness.

Therefore, dogs come in a wide variety of breeds, each with its unique personality and traits. Whether as service animals, working dogs, or loving family pets, they display remarkable adaptability and versatility, making them suitable for a diverse range of roles and environments.

In conclusion, the qualities that dogs possess, including unwavering loyalty, companionship, and their ability to enhance our physical and emotional well-being, make them exceptional companions. Their impact on human lives is immeasurable, as they provide love, support, and joy to countless individuals and families worldwide. Therefore, I firmly believe that dogs are, without a doubt, man’s best friend and make superior pets in numerous ways.

Chat GPT diserves full marks 100%

Why are dogs better than cats? In my opinion, dogs are better than cats for many reasons. In this essay I will address various topics, such as fidelity, company, cleanliness, protection, among others, and I will try to defend man’s best friends.

First of all, dogs are man’s best friends because they are very faithful to humans. For instance, in risky situations for their owners they act as defenders and help detect risky situations. Dogs can also work in the police department as detectors of prohibited substances, and they can also serve as a company for people with mental illnesses who need support .

Second, dogs are more affectionate with their owners. They can recognize their owners after a long time. They have a super developed and very effective sense of smell. This is why in many occasions when people disappear, dogs track them alone .

Finally , dogs have a lower loss rate compared to cats. In addtion, dogs are kept in their homes, and there are many cases in which lost dogs lead people to their “wanted” files in order to return to their homes. Dogs often defend their owners even if they get hurt or, in many cases dogs die.

To sum up , dogs are better than cats due to their loyalty, their defense tactics towards their owners, and in many cases also their intelligence, which is why they are called man’s best friends.

Good effort!

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AS & A2 English Blog

Revision notes and example essays on the edexcel a level english literature syllabus (2015), how to write and approach an essay.

At first glance many of us may find an essay question intimidating or confusing, especially under exam time pressure. It’s so normal, everyone’s minds go all over the place, questioning ‘Will I finish the essay on time?’ or ‘I need to include something no one else has thought of’. While there is no one way to approach writing an English essay, we have found this is what works for us best. Remember, you may want to try a range of essay writing techniques and structures and have them graded by a teacher, to find what works best for you. Here’s some advice on what to include in your essays and common mistakes we all tend to do. Hopefully these tips will ease your exam experiences and help you achieve the grade you’re definitely capable of!

Thesis statements:

Thesis statements might be new to you in A-Level, but they help you set out a compelling argument. Repeating the foundation of your thesis statement (what you are arguing) throughout your essay will achieve easy marks, helping you get the best grade, as you will remind the examiner and yourself that you are focusing on the question. Thesis statements are ultimately your introduction and by following these 3 steps you can construct an excellent introduction, displaying confidence and clarity (which examiners love!)

  • Discuss: talk about the bigger picture, what the author is trying to say
  • Define:  how the question applies to the text 
  • Refine: what is your argument? (Go back to refine in every paragraph to reiterate your focusing on the question)

Why write a thesis statement?

  • Establish your academic voice. Having a strong academic voice from the start of the essay will not only give your argument direction, but it will also boost your thesis, as this and the conclusion are reflective, personal ideas about the text. This, in turn, makes these parts of the essay extremely reflective of your style of writing and voice.
  • Gain A03 marks for Context. In the ‘define’ section of the thesis, you could compare the writer’s themes to real world issues, whether this is past issues (e.g. Reagan’s presidency) that concerned the author at the time (what motivated/ inspired them to write the novel), or how these issues and themes are still prominent in society today (e.g. gender inequality and environmental concerns).
  • Repeat your thesis statement and focus on it throughout. There is no point writing a thesis about ‘How Atwood uses language to portray oppression in The Handmaid’s Tale’ if one of the following paragraphs is about structure, or you will lose marks. It might be helpful to keep the thesis a general technique, such as language, as it gives you a lot to write about in the main body of your essay.
  • Helps establish direction. For everyone, exams will cause us to fluster, it happens to the best of us. Having a strong thesis statement and therefore knowing your argument will really help you in the long run, as you can always support your thesis with evidence and context. 

Sample introduction answering:

Explore the ways Atwood presents the difficulties of maintaining an identity in The Handmaid’s Tale

Much of a person’s life is spent creating and maintaining their identity: what they think they stand for, and what sort of person they want to be. The process of identity-formation is reversed in Atwood’s novel though as the regime seeks to remove any sense of identity from its handmaids in particular, as seen in the ‘re-education’ they receive at the Red Centre. Ultimately, Atwood uses Offred’s narrative voice and the manipulative use of state language to suggest that a person’s identity is not as much within her own control as she may think.

Make it interesting for the examiner: 

  • Academic voice

Establishing an academic voice shows the examiner that you are confident in your writing and that you have thought through your argument very carefully. Avoid using simple phrases that have been used by most (as it’s always best to stand out) such as:

  • Instead of ‘for example’: exemplified by, demonstrates, illustrates, highlights,  specifically, markedly, including, poignantly 
  • Instead of ‘contrast’: dichotomy, dissimilarity, juxtaposition, divergence, incongruity, distinction, disparity, chasm
  • Instead of  ‘in my opinion/I think’: the evidence suggests that…, it is credible to argue…, it is reasonable to advocate for…, one must consider.., it is possible to argue that…
  • Instead of ‘in conclusion’: ultimately, in summation, on balance, in closing, to recapitulate
  • Instead of ‘a lot’: plethora, myriad, notably 
  • Instead of ‘so’: therefore, subsequently, thus, hence, as a result
  • Instead of ‘says’: declares, articulates, pronounces, discusses, mentions, remarks, suggests, states, reacts, responds
  • Provide different perspectives

A strong answer to the question will provide a variety of perspectives uncovering multiple layers behind the author’s superficial meaning and integral when writing an essay. The examiner wants you to open up new conversations. In offering different perspectives the examiner can see that your writing is evaluative. It offers depth and insight into the novel, not just retaining an idea from class and writing it in an exam. Remember, when offering layers of meaning, you can write about perspectives you have seen that you disagree with. Use it as a counter-argument, opening with ‘one critic argues’ (even better if you can cite the critic!) We recommend reading critical articles too, very impressive!

  • Judge the author on how they convey their concerns: is it convincing enough? 

It is also important to be evaluative. Showing you’re evaluative and judge the author’s choices will exemplify your understanding and confidence with the text. Using particular words to sign post to the examiner you are being evaluative is crucial. Words such as: persuasive, compelling, criticise, endeavours to show, expresses, successfully conveys, fails to provide closure, ambiguous, didactic, moralistic, scholarly, eloquently, poignantly. This also plays into the tone of voice, which is key to analyse. 

  • Embedded quotes

Using embedded quotes will elevate your writing style, making the examiners reading your essay flow effortlessly. This also shows skill and how assured you are during the exam. Embedding context is also a hard skill as it can sometimes feel too forced as it does not apply to the rest of your point. Finding the correct context which applies suitably will also help with the smoothness and clarity of your writing. 

  • Literary and Structural terminology

Including literary terminology especially ones that are highly sophisticated help you gain AO2 marks, giving you more marks. Terminology will vary as poetry terminology is different from prose terminology. 

  • Does the ending provide us closure? Unsatisfactory openness?
  • Does it help fulfill the author’s purpose/convey their messages/themes/concerns
  • How have the characters changed? Character arcs

The Assessment Objectives 

  • A personal and creative responses to literary texts
  • Remembering to zoom in and out (in the play and out to context)
  • Subject terminology
  • The author: read autobiographies or watch videos on their lives and their beliefs. 
  • The time it was written: their beliefs and important elements of their lives e.g. religion or nature
  • Historical events
  • How critics and the readers at the time responded to the text.

Common mistakes

  • Unfinished Analysis. With the time pressure, we also forget to fully finish our analysis, leaving a potentially strong paragraph unfinished and holding us back from expressing our points completely. Therefore, planning beforehand is crucial even for just 5 minutes, so you yourself know what you will talk about and not get carried away!
  • We tend to write everything we remember from lessons and our revision, which may not necessarily be relevant to the question. Again, planning will help you remember quotes and context relevant to your question. Take your time!
  • Forgetting to plan!! Personally, I did not plan and fell into the trap of over analysing and not having enough time to finish other paragraphs.Taking as little as 5 minutes to plan what your main body paragraphs will be about can help you structure your essay and show the examiner that you have carefully thought about the question. (this will also come in handy when writing your conclusion)
  • If you take the Edexcel English Literature exam, it is easy to fall into the trap of not learning quotes, as you are given the texts in the exam. It is still worth learning some quotes, as looking for them in an exam setting will take a long time and you may not pick judicious quotes (the relevance of the quotes you pick is worth marks too!).
  • Writing too many ideas can be just as dangerous as writing too little ideas. If we write everything we’ve remembered from lessons, we risk losing in-depth analysis, leaving the essay with lots of incomplete arguments. If we write too little, there is a risk of lacking enough awardable content, and missing marks.
  • Focus on the question. It  is as easy as repeating the words of the question, further showing your understanding of the question to the examiner.

Writing a conclusion

The conclusion is often the hardest part of the essay to write. If you’re anything like me, you are writing it with about 5 minutes left of the exam (and panicking slightly!)

  • Quality, not quantity: The conclusion only needs to be around 2 or 3 sentences, but it must be concise and strong. It helps prove your argument is compelling and convincing, something which should be carried through the essay until the very end.
  • To do this, ideally you should read over the whole of your essay, to pick up on ideas you wrote about which link to your thesis, but you hadn’t considered when writing your thesis. However, with only 5 minutes left of an exam this may not be possible. This is where your plan comes in handy! Read over your plan (which is a ‘skeleton’ of your essay) and take your ideas in the same way from there.

These are a few tips to remember and maybe try out! Don’t worry about getting the perfect essay immediately, as practicing skills  and writing essays for teachers to mark will definitely help you achieve your aspired grade.  

Let us know if you have any questions about this post!

Marian and Maisie

Tragedy In A Streetcar Named Desire

Here’s a post on A Streetcar Named Desire, and my interpretations of how tragedy plays a key role within the play. It’s not structured like a proper essay but hopefully some of the ideas are useful!

To what extent is the play a tragedy and is it a conventional tragedy?

Williams’ is genius in how he plays with tropes of Greek tragedy and manipulates them to suit his aims and place Streetcar in the context of his time, 1940’s America. It is not conventional in this way, but the play still keeps many key elements of a tragedy. Ideas of hamartia and hubris can be seen in our tragic heroine – Blanche. Blanche makes several errors of judgement throughout the play: she blames Stella in scene 1, she decides not to go back to Laurel in the birthday scene, and continues to buy into illusions. She also displays hubris in how she denies fate and tries to escape death and reality through her illusions. Ironically, this only leads her further to tragedy. While these features of tragedy can be clearly seen in Blanche, the play itself is less clear-cut as a tragedy. I make the argument that there is no clear climax or turning point as such, and the play doesn’t follow a typical tragic arc. It could be argued that there are several points that could be considered the climax, or the point where there is no going back e.g: the birthday scene, the rape scene, the scene with Mitch, or even the final scene. Through this lack of clarity, Williams’ may be suggesting that tragedy in the play is inevitable and no specific moment can have the power to change the course of the play entirely, rather a series of events lead up to tragedy or events before the play even starts may predetermine the play’s tragic end.

I think it’s fair to say that a play’s ending is often what characterises it as a tragedy – or not a tragedy. The ending acts as the determiner. Typically, tragedies end in irreversible catastrophe, or death. While we do see catastrophe at the end of Streetcar, it is questionable how tragic the ending is as no-one dies, as the audience may expect. Also, there is a sense of victory for Blanche, which is conflicting for the audience. What I mean by this is that Blanche is so unaware of what is happening to her, she almost suffers the least out of the characters present in the final scene. She metaphorically describes her death, in a very romanticised way ‘And when I die, I’m going to die on the sea […] I shall die eating an unwashed grape one day out on the ocean.’ – she is claiming control of her end, and so in a way, she wins. She also leaves on the arm of a gentleman (the doctor), which we can imagine is what Blanche would want, so maybe it’s not so tragic for her after all? However, the play is tragic for other characters in this final scene. Notably, Stella: she is the one in the middle who has to deal with the emotional turmoil of what has happened to her sister, she cries out ‘Blanche! Blanche, Blanche!’. So, on a practical level, she arguably suffers the most. Furthermore, the perhaps most tragic aspect of this scene is how Stella has to live in illusions much like her sister now, as she is aware that Stanley raped Blanche, but chooses to ignore reality ‘I couldn’t believe her story and go on living with Stanley.’. Maybe, the tragedy has only begun and the real victim here is Stella.

Overall, the play is a tragedy, just not a conventional one. Williams’ makes tragedy more down-to-earth and adapted to the world he inhabited as his characters are not noblemen or women, they are just ordinary people. Arguably, Williams’ version of tragedy is more valuable to modern readers as we can relate to his characters more and take away messages from the play that are truly in correlation with today’s society.

When does the tragedy of the play begin?

Once again, I think it is up for discussion when the tragedy of the play begins, as arguably tragedy starts before the play even takes place and there are also many moments of tragedy very early on. It can be argued that the tragedy of the play resides in the old-fashioned ways of the South, as ultimately Blanche is a product of that world. So, the idea of the ‘Southern Belle’ is a cause of tragedy that exists before the play even starts. By doing this, Williams’ highlights the ongoing conflict between the North and South of America, and he may be commenting on the importance of progression in society, that it is foolish to confine ourselves to traditional beliefs. Furthermore, the tragedy of the play could start when Allan dies, and Blanche is constantly escaping death and reality from that moment on, which we know is ironically only going to lead Blanche towards more despair. The Varsouviana is played at moments of tragedy or heightened tension for Blanche in the play, which may support this theory that Allan’s death was the moment where tragedy began. In terms of the play itself, tragedy may begin the very moment that Blanche turns up at Elysian fields, which is hinted at when Blanche says ‘They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at – Elysian Fields!’ – in essence, Blanche has been unknowingly led to her downfall by coming here as ‘Cemeteries’ is symbolic of her metaphorical death. Finally, hints towards tragedy are evident early on in the play e.g: when Blanche talks about the deaths at belle reve in scene 1, hints towards Allan’s death at the end of scene 1, and the poker night scene. Williams’ suggests that tragedy is very much dormant throughout the play – and in time it will surface.

Example Essay: Relationship between Blanche and Mitch

Williams presents Blanche and Mitch’s relationship as toxic in a way so subtle that neither of them notice the spiral they voluntarily go down until one of them is mad and the other has to watch them be sent to an asylum. Right from the start of the play, they bond over their mutual losses, “you need somebody. And I need somebody, too. Could it be you and me, Blanche?” A relationship founded on death and decay could foreshadow an ending even more destructive than their past one. Williams could be warning that there is no way that a relationship between a man and a woman from two different sides of the Civil War could ever survive in a relationship together, Mitch working a blue-collar job and Blanche, a ‘Southern belle’ raised in wealth on a plantation. 

Williams presents the relationship between Blanche and Mitch as one of mutual destruction and dependence. Blanche’s loss of her husband Allen still preys on her, evidenced by the repeating motif of the Varsouviana Polka, the last dance they shared before Allen killed himself. Therefore, it seems wrong that she would move onto another man when she is still so deeply hurt. Her guilt could also be seen through this motif, as it often plays when she is around Mitch, who is also the only person she opens up to about him. A relationship where one of the participants is already regretful doesn’t seem healthy. Moreover, Williams presents Mitch as the most redeemable character, his kindness and sensitivity his strength, but if we look deeper, his desire for that normality leads him to ignore the abusive relationship between Stella and Stanley. The first time we get a sense that not all is right, is when he comforts Blanche after Stella and Stanely’s fight, commenting “there’s nothing to be afraid of, they’re crazy about each other.” He further silences Blanche’s protest at the violence, suggesting that there will be more of this invalidation of Blanche’s feelings throughout the relationship. Blanche’s desperate search for love could be leading her down a dangerous spiral where she becomes too dependent on a man, that when she is inevitably rejected, she falls back into that unhealthy tunnel of devaluing herself. This is further argued by critics, suggesting that ‘Blanche’s tragic flaw is that she adheres to the Southern tradition that she needs a man for completion when she can complete herself’. The whole relationship between Mitch and Blanche seems to be built on lies, that by the end of the play are excruciatingly revealed to Blanche, along with the facade of sweetness surrounding Mitch, which she has almost romanticised in her head, falling down. “I’ll tell you what I want. Magic!” Blanche is forced to admit to herself that everything she has built about herself is a lie, and whatever she had hidden beneath these lies might not be something anyone wants. Mitch forced her to see this, emphasising the incompatible nature of the two. Williams seems to be criticising the fact that Blanche forgot about Mitch’s separate upbringing in the war, and therefore the violence he was capable of, and Blanche’s desperate attempts to hide her secrets behind the lie of a Southern Belle seems to bring this violence out of Mitch, a man very deeply rooted in reality. This suggests that their relationship was built on lies and misunderstandings, as well as convenience – Blanche needing a husband to hide behind, and Mitch wanting a wife to bring home to his mother – which, due to their differing social standings, would never have allowed them to have a truly loving relationship. Here, Williams is commenting on the fact that the two sides of Civil War would never be able to live in peace, their views differing too much, almost resembling Shakespeare’s famous story of Romeo and Juliet. 

Furthermore, Williams presents Blanche and Mitch’s relationship as dangerosuly volatile and isolating despite the comfort a relationship is supposed to bring. Right from the start of the play, Blanche is presented as ‘the other’. When she arrives she is described as “incongruous to the setting”, a semantic field of white making her seem otherworldly, whilst at the same time distancing her from the surroundings. Later when we find out that she was exiled from her former job and lost her childhood home, it becomes even more apparent that she has no home and nowhere to belong. Mitch represents Blanche’s last chance at finding love and stability within a world that is changing before her eyes quicker than she has time to adjust to. His rejection of her in Scene 9, could represent her moment of peripeteia, where she will never find love again. Her desire to paint everything in an ideological light clouding her views could be identified as the trigger for this distance between her and the rest of the world, highlighted by her demand of Mitch to cover the light, “I can’t stand a naked bulb.” This could be a metaphor for her inability to connect with reality, which has proved so disappointing to her. This is further emphasised by the motif of light throughout the play and her early description of being like a “moth”, wanting to be close to the light and the “magic”, and yet harming themselves in the process. It seems her desire to paint Mitch into becoming her perfect Southern beau, demanding he dance with her, despite him doing it “awkwardly”. This adjective highlights the illusion she fabricates around herself, as she calls hims her knight and he clumsily fumbles around her ‘magic’, possibly leading to the collapse of their relationship as Mitch finds out about all the “lies, lies, lies!” Her efforts to turn Mitch into her perfect husband despite him being a member of the new America after the Civil War, separates them, as he doesn’t appreciate the ideology of Blanche, a women clinging onto the old American ideals. Williams further underlines the inevitability of the collapse of the relationship with Blanche’s first impression of him before they’ve even met, when Stella says that “Stanely’s friends” are coming for dinner and Blanche immediately assumes they’re “Polacks?” Furthermore, her continued mocking of his lack of intelligence, specifically when she uses French words or phrases that he cannot understand, such as “Rosenkavalier”, shows that she only needs him to ensure her financial stability. However, the play Der Rosenkavalier has connotations of knights and comedic, happy endings, suggesting that that is what Blanche desires, despite her lies to Mitch. This again emphasises the destructive nature of her refusal to see reality, and how the relationship between Mitch and Blanche only pushed her further into her isolation, ending with her in an insane asylum. 

Overall, Williams presents the relationship between Blanche and Mitch as damaging to both characters, emphasised by the ending, when Mitch is left “sobbing” on the floor and Blanche is banished to an asylum. By the end of the play, Blanche is more alone than she was at the start, her sister having abandoned her, leaving her with no hope of returning to her former life. Ultimately, Williams does this to highlight the backwards nature of the Southern values of women, as it pushed Blanche to the limits, and announces that they will inevitably cease to exist in a modern society because they will forever be at odds with the new society, emphasised by Blanche’s inability to empathise with Stanley or Mitch and in turn ending up in an insane asylum. 

Example Essay: Unhappiness in On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year

Explore the ways in which unhappiness is portrayed in On This Day I Complete My Thirty-Sixth Year by Lord Byron and in one other poem. (Specimen paper)

Thirty-Sixth Year:  Unhappiness as the speaker has no purpose in life. 

  • “If thou regret’st thy youth, why live? ” 
  • “The sword, the banner, and the field” – could not only be convincing other young men to come and fight for their country, but also consoling himself that he will die soon in the war as well. 
  • “Glory and Greece.” 
  • “Makes a conscious effort to change the direction of the tone of the poem at stanza 5. “Where glory decks the hero’s bier / Or binds his brow.” what was once laborious and slow, is now fast-paced and anticipatory. (plosive alliteration). 
  • “That fire on my bosom preys” he now has no way to alleviate the pain, could be going to fight to displace that passion and find a new purpose, Fire can be the spark of life or it can be a tool for destruction. 

Unhappiness is shown through time moving on and him growing old. 

  • “Yet, still though I cannot be beloved / Still let me love!” Could reflect his recent rejection by a boy much younger than him and he is despairing at not being wanted anymore, not loved and has nowhere to turn. Or it could be due to being ostracised by British society due to his scandalism. And despite being banished he still feels love from where he was brought up, and that is why he is sailing to help the Greeks take back their home. 
  • “The worm, the canker, and the grief” Feels his only company now is decay, grief and alcohol. Sadness that time is passing and he is becoming undesirable, and due to how he lived his life he doesn’t know what to do now. 
  • “A funeral pile” his passion, which is now alone due to no one wanting him, is burning him from the inside out. 
  • “But wear the chain” – feels that he is now chained by his age and experiences (links to Rousseau and his belief that men earn their chains through life, Byron now feels the collected weight of the chains of love that have become more and more complicated as he got older and now he has no way to untangle them.) 

Holy Thursday:  Unhappiness as uncertainty for others, lots of questions. 

  • “Trembling cry a song?” 
  • And their sun never does shine.” 
  • Volta from questioning and fearful, then to certainty that their situation cannot last because there is a heaven out there. 
  • Looks regular on the outside, but there is actually no rhyming scheme reflects the uncertainty underneath the speakers criticism of the upper-class. 

Unhappiness at juxtapositions between rich and poor, and that after all this time has passed, nothing has been done. 

  • “In a rich and fruitful land”. 
  • “And their fields are bleak and bare” 
  • Condemns British society for having the power to change the levels of poverty and yet doing nothing about it – unhappiness is forms of poverty. 
  • Speakers unhappiness at not being able to do anything – links to 36th year in not having a purpose. 
  • Tone is savage and direct, could they not only be criticising the monarchy, but themselves as well. 

Example Essay:

In the poem’s, on this day I complete My Thirty-Sixth Year by Lord Byron and Songs of Experience: ‘Holy Thursday’ by William Blake, unhappiness is portrayed as having no purpose in life whilst time passes and nothing has changed. In 36th Year, the poem starts as a melancholy reflection of the speaker’s past and then transitions to a quest for a noble quest. Holy Thursday describes the procession of Children who go to charity schools through London. 

In 36th Year, Byron presents unhappiness as the feeling of time moving away without you and regretting your past. The rhetorical question “If thou regret’st thy youth, why live? ” suggests that the speaker is struggling with his past as he grows older. In a contextual view “Yet, still though I cannot be beloved / Still let me love!” could reflect his recent rejection by a boy much younger than him and he is despairing at not being wanted anymore. This reflects a problem many adults go through where their view of themselves does not fit with the way others view them. Byron is benign turned away because he is too old, and now is being forced to look back on his past to reflect about whether he accomplished anything material that could help him in his future. Or it could be due to being ostracised by British society due to his experimentation. And despite being banished he still feels love from where he was brought up, and that is why he is sailing to help the Greeks take back their home. The listing of “The worm, the canker, and the grief” implies that he feels his only company now is decay, grief and alcohol. It shows how he feels sadness that time is passing and he is becoming undesirable, and due to how he lived his life he doesn’t know what to do now. The “funeral pile” of his passion, which is now alone due to no one wanting him, is burning him from the inside out. Or it could be Byron’s past exploits returning to him and he is now burning with shame.  This could further be reflected by “But wear the chain”, where he feels like the past and his reputation are restraining him and as time passes, what he desires moves further and further from him. It could be that he feels that he is now chained by his age and experiences, linking to Rousseau and his belief that men earn their chains through life – Byron now feels the collected weight of the chains of love that have become more and more complicated as he got older and now he has no way to untangle them. 

In 36th Year, Lord Byron portrays unhappiness as a lack of purpose in life. The first 4 stanzas describe a life which has stagnated. The fricative alliteration of “flowers and fruits of love are gone”, suggests a deep feeling of loneliness and yet being unable to do anything. The “f” sound of “flowers and fruits” is laborious to sy, suggesting that the speaker feels as though their life and love has become a chore. Moreover, “that fire on my bosom preys” highlights how he now has no way to alleviate his desire for love, which could be why he is going to fight with the Greeks to displace that passion which no one wants anymore. Fire can be the spark of life or it can be a tool for destruction. In a volta at the start of stanza 5, the speaker makes a conscious effort to change the direction of the tone of the poem, suggesting that despite the unhappiness, they are going to look for a new purpose. This is further emphasised by “Where glory decks the hero’s bier / Or binds his brow,” where what was once laborious and slow, is now fast-paced and anticipatory. The plosive alliteration suggests excitement at finding something new. However, the hesitancy is shown in the asyndetic list “the sword, the banner, and the field” where it becomes clear that he is not only trying to convince other soldiers to come and fight, but also encourage himself. 

In SE:HT, Blake portrays unhappiness as being unsettled how time passes and nothing changes about the juxtapositions between the rich and the poor. Despite the poor living in a developed, “rich and fruitful land” their “fields are bleak and bare”. Here the plosive alliteration of “bleak and bare” has a less optimistic tone for the future like in 36th Year, but instead it is a condemnation of the rich – Blake is criticising the wealthy for leaving the poor children in poverty and unhappiness despite having the power to change it. Could also reflect the speakers unhappiness at not being able to do anything – links to 36th year in not having a purpose. This bitterness about the future and how the time passes and nothing happens is reflected by the anaphora in stanza 3, a syndetic list, suggesting that the future is going to be nothing but a repetition of this endless pain. This is further underlined by the metaphor, “it is eternal winter there.” The adjective “eternal” coupled with the structure of 4 stanzas made of 4 lines highlights the never ending cycle of suffering and unhappiness. 

Furthermore, in SE:HT, Blake displays unhappiness as uncertainty for others and the crippling belief that there is nothing you can do to help them. “Is that trembling cry a song?” reflects the speaker’s confusion that nothing has changed in London. It also could show how the speaker is trying to convince themselves that there children still feel enough joy to sing, but also the rational part of their brain acknowledges the truth of it being a “trembling cry”. “And their sun never does shine,” as though there are constantly storm clouds over their life and there is no way out. There is a volta from stanzas 2 and 3 where the tone switches from questioning to fearful, then to certainty that their situation cannot last because there is a heaven out there. Seems that they are comforting themselves, whilst calling to others that this cannot continue. This uncertainty is further reflected in the rhyming scheme – it looks regular, but there actually isn’t a rhyming scheme – the confusion at having no purpose and no way to help. 

Overall, both authors portray unhappiness as a lack of purpose and the speed of passing time. The Greek war of Independence described in 36th Year could represent the struggle between the First and Second Generation Romantic poets, where Byron is trying to find his purpose and establish himself as a separate poet from his influences. The shorter lines and questioning tone of SE:HT end inconclusively with many of the questions unanswered reflecting how many of the issues with the poor were swept under the rug at the time leaving the asker in a never ending purgatory of witnessing unhappiness and being unable to do anything about it. 

Themes in ‘An Easy Passage’ by Julia Copus: Youth

How is the theme of youth explored in ‘An Easy Passage’ by Julia Copus?

  • In ‘An easy Passage’ Copus presents youth as a process of discovery and embracing unknown danger that is key to the strength needed to move into the adult world. This sense of the unknown can be seen in the repeated use of the adjective ‘halfway’ to establish the theme of journey in this poem. For instance, the poet described how ‘Once she is halfway up there’ what the girl in the poem ‘must not do is think of the narrow windowsill, the sharp drop…’ This sentence can be read on both a literal and metaphorical level, as she is halfway in her physical climb to her window, but also ‘halfway’ in the journey from childhood to adulthood. The risk of the ‘drop’ could represent the unknown potential for failure as she grows into an adult, as shown later in the poem with the line ‘What can she know of the way the world admits us less and less the more we grow?’ The use of this rhetorical question creates an almost judgemental tone to the poem that could symbolise external pressure of society that will judge this girl as she matures, which is metaphorically shown through the risk of a fall. 
  • Just as the girl is balancing precariously on the windowsill, she also walks the fine line as she grows between acceptance and rejection from a society that is constantly watching. There is even a voyeuristic tone that comes through the character of the ‘secretary’ who described the girls as ‘wearing next to nothing’ with ‘her tiny breasts resting lightly on her thighs.’ which seem almost intrusive on the girl’s privacy as she judges her body. This is also displayed through the metaphor of the ‘long, grey eye of the street’ with the imagery of the ‘eye’ representing societies’ more voyeuristic tendencies to judge others’ personal lives. 
  • The fact that the girl is ‘halfway’ through the journey, only half sure that she won’t fail, creates a sort of tension in the poem that reflects on the real life fears surrounding young people as they begin to enter society. She is at an age where she is aware of the possibility of social rejection, as teenage years are often a time where children are very conscious of being able to fit in. This could be seen in the metaphor of her journey climbing the house, as she is seen to be ‘trembling’ with fear, watched by a friend below who she is ‘half in love with.’ Again, this repeated use of the adjective ‘half’ suggests a hesitancy that could be a symbol again of the unknown, in this case unknown desire and sexuality. 
  • In a way this sense of the overwhelming unknown that haunts all of the girl’s decisions is deliberately mirrored in the free verse structure of the poem, which leaves no point for the reader to pause. This also mirrors the fact that embracing the unknown and expansive future is one long  process that not even the adults of the poem have conquered, as seen by the older secretary who still reads the ‘astrology column’. She is still looking for answers to what the future holds. 
  • However, although this theme of the unknown may seem overwhelming, the poet does give us hope for the girl’s future even within all this uncertainty. One of the last lines of the poem described ‘oyster painted toenails of an outstretched foot’ that is compared to ‘a flash of armaments.’ The connotations of war and security in the noun ‘armaments’ suggests a strength to the girls that may not have been revealed before. The metaphor of the ‘oyster’ also promotes a cause for hope, as over time oysters may produce priceless pearls which could represent how the girl’s future may be rich in experiences and joy. 

By Karensa Lopez

Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’: How a generation’s obsession with science influenced the making of the creature.

It is difficult in our modern society to understand how science in the Romantic era was so closely linked with the domestic, politics and also theology. In our current time, science can often seem distant from us. Something that happens in labs that is often beyond our understanding. For the everyday people of the Romantic era, science (or Natural Philosophy as it was then called) was often considered one of the key ways in which the mysteries of the natural world and the soul could be discovered. This keen interest in science and in pushing the boundaries of human understanding was a key theme in Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’, as she herself witnessed this often anarchic society in which the problems and principles of scientific research and how far humans should go in pursuit for knowledge were beginning to come to light.

Mary Shelly was exposed to science from a young age, through her father William Godwin, who was often considered one of the most controversial men in England due to his influence in radical political and artistic circles. He had many visitors such as writers Coleridge and Wordsworth who met Mary through their admiration of her father for his radical views. We know that Mary was present for these sessions, as in her memoirs she reflects fondly on how she and her half-sister Claire Clairmont would hide underneath the sofa to listen to Coleridge recite his poem ‘The Ancient Mariner’ which also makes several appearances in ‘Frankenstein’. The most famous scientists of the time also visited, such as the doctor Anthony Carlisle and Humphry Davy. Scientific experiments demonstrated in the home were common for the middle classes in the Regency period, and so it was likely these visitors also did experiments in the house where Mary lived which could have influenced some of her writing. However, the most important perhaps of these visitors, not only for her writing but for her personal life, was Percy Shelly with whom she would elope with at the age of 16 and married in 1816 after the suicide of his first wife.

Percy Shelly was a prime example of the obsessive nature of scientists at this time, when science and the occult were still somewhat intertwined. The first school that Percy attended was Syon house, where he was greatly influenced by the scientist Adam Walker. He has a keen interest in Natural philosophy (the individual sciences had not been fully established, and so were grouped under this term) and toured the country giving lectures on the power of electricity and giving experiments to show its potential use to transform society. Percy Shelly was fascinated by this, and with the help of one of Walkers’ assistants, he built electrical experiments in his rooms and also experimented with galvanism on his sisters until they refused.

This obsession still remained when he took his first classes at Eton, but soon began to intertwine with a fascination with the occult, much in the same way as Victor in ‘Frankenstein’ had an obsession with ‘The philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life.’ He shunned all other students at the school and was bullied daily so that he confined himself to his rooms. He immersed himself in Alchemist writers such as Paracelsus and Cornelius Aggripa who often spoke more of magic than actual science which was considered useless by the new logical age of science known as the Enlightenment. His love of the occult became almost hysterical, and was known as ‘Mad Shelly’ after one set of experiments caused him to run wild through the countryside believing he had summoned the devil. This again is very similar to Frankenstein, who ‘shunned my fellow creatures.’ and who suffered from ‘frantic impulses’ before creating the creature as he became increasingly engrossed in the sciences. One of his friends Jefferson Hogg even described Shelly’s rooms as ‘The chemist in his laboratory, the alchemist in his study, the wizard in his cave.’ that is an image which mirrors the most recognizable scenes from the book, the mad scientist in his laboratory, which has been adapted countless times for the stage and in film. It is likely that Frankenstein is a mixture of many influences in Mary’s life, but the most obvious of these is certainly her husband, who even used the pen name ‘Victor’ when writing his first collection of poems, ‘Poetry by Victor and Cazier’ in 1810. Shelly was just one amongst many young men influenced by so-called ‘Master scientists’ such as Humphry Davy, who tested the boundaries of how far humans could go in search of knowledge. Many would even go as far as testing experiments on other people or themselves, and even Shelly’s younger siblings recounted in letters the fear of seeing Shelly approach them with some new electrical device that he wanted to test on them when they were young.

All of this fanaticism about science that was so present in Percy Shelly’s life that his scientific theories definitely would have also been heard by Mary. In Polidori’s diaries which he wrote when travelling with Byron as his private doctor, both the Shellys and Mary’s half sister Claire were staying at the Villa Dioti, the famous house in which a competition over writing ghost stories resulted in the birth of the story of ‘Frankenstein’. He commented about the frequent times in which due to the terrible weather that year the men would sit inside and discuss all manner of scientific and political concerns. He wrote how Mary would never contribute, and would sit and listen each night. It is clear that these discussions over new discoveries entered her writing. Some of these scientific discoveries would have included ideas about electricity of course, but not only its potential to reform society, but its power to give insight into the very material of the soul. Galvanism, a theory created decades before by Alessandro Volta, was a theory growing in popularity at the time through the contemporary scientist Luigi Galvani in the 1780s. This was the theory that the muscles could be animated through electric shocks. John Hunter, a prestigious scientist at the time, believed that life originated from some ethereal matter that humans possess, similar to a consciousness. This was part of the most heated scientific debate of the time, as John Abernethy proposed that this idea was wrong and that consciousness arose with the physical complexity of a being, meaning that the more complex an organism was the more likely it was to have a soul. What might have interested Mary however was the theory that this ethereal matter was electric fluid, and that electricity might make up the soul. Victor uses an ‘electric machine’ to animate the creature, which could have been inspired by the very real fears that life could be brought back from the dead if electricity could be applied to dead matter. This is widely thought of as a huge influence on the creation of the Creature in the novel.

These new theories about the ways in which life was created undermined every religious teaching which had previously been believed by the majority of the population. This new and frightening shift in belief would have felt monumental at the time, the equivalent of our modern generation thinking about developments in AI. What makes this book so fascinating is the fact that Shelly manages to distil these emotions and her fear of scientists’ ever-growing power into a conceivable plot and characters that can still be understood today, no matter how many years into the future we are.

Written by Karensa Lopez

Sources used: 

Making the monster, the science behind Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein: by Katheryn Harkup. 

In search of Mary Shelly: The girl who wrote Frankenstein by Fiona Sampson

The Presentation of Women in Frankenstein

On one hand, it could be argued that the women in Frankenstein are all portrayed as passive and weak, that they are victims of Victor’s obsessive thirst for knowledge in the pursuit of science. A brilliant example of this is Justine’s death, in chapter 8 of volume one. Although she hasn’t commited murder, Justine resigns herself to her death, saying ‘I am not afraid to die’. The passive nature of her tone suggests that Justine is weak and unable to prevent her death. She knows that she has done no wrong, so openly accepts death where, as a character with a religious upbringing, she feels she will not be punished in the afterlife. Justine is undeserving of her death, with Victor even declaring that she is “innocent”, as he realises that “ He [the creature] was the murderer!”. The adjective innocent has connotations of vulnerability and naivety, portraying Justine as a casualty of Victor’s turmoil, a victim as opposed to a hero in her own right.

However, Shelley had strong feminist values, as her mother was one of the first feminists to publish writing on women’s rights, so it is strange that she would write her female characters as passive and weak. Upon further reading of Justine’s trial and death, it could be argued that Shelley only presents women this way on the surface and suggests that the women in the novel are stronger than they appear, an idea which readers can access through resistant reading. Elizabeth is distraught by Justine’s upcoming death, which Victor views as ‘voiceless grief’. It is clear that he views Elizabeth a victim of his pursuits as much as Justine. However, Elizabeth’s passivity as suggested by the adjective ‘voiceless’ appears to only be Victor’s perception of her, rather than a reflection of her actual character. On hearing Justine confirm that she is innocent, Elizabeth declares that she ‘will prove your [Justine’s] innocence’.  The modal verb ‘will’ is decisive and determined, illustrating the strong nature of Elizabeth’s character. In fact, Shelley gives Elizabeth a morality and sense of justice which Victor lacks, the qualities of a hero. Maybe this shows that Elizabeth was more of a hero than Victor, not a victim. Perhaps all that stopped her from taking on the role of a hero was the misogynistic gender roles in society at the time, which Shelley aims to expose in her novel.

Lines Written In Early Spring: A Summary

Stanza by stanza:

Stanza 1: The narrator is enjoying the restorative beauty of nature, which in turn prompts their memories of how far humanity is from this same state.

Stanza 2: While nature is loving and in linked to humanity, humanity has separated itself from nature, and corrupted themselves. Humanity is to blame for its own corruption.

Stanza 3: Nature is positive, it lives free of corruption and therefore lives a blissful life.

Stanza 4: The narrator shifts his focus to the birds. He notes that while he cannot confirm with them, their countenance appears playful and happy.

Stanza 5: Focusing on the twigs interacting with the air, the narrator notes their happiness too.

Stanza 6: The narrator’s closing thoughts summarises the poem. Joy and serenity should be our natural state, as it is for the natural world. It is humanity’s corruption which obscures this, which causes the narrator sadness.

Summary of structure in the poem: 

  • There are 6 stanzas, each of which consist of 4 lines (quatrains). 
  • The first 3 lines of every stanza is in iambic tetrameter and then transitions into iambic trimeter for the final line. 
  • The rhyme scheme is a mainly consistent ABAB rhyme scheme. It deviates from this at times, into a half-rhyme (e.g. ‘notes’ and ‘thoughts’ in the first stanza).

Summary of language in the poem:

  • Semantic field of joy and nature: ‘sweet’, ‘pleasant’, ‘fair’, ‘enjoys’, ‘pleasure’
  • Juxtaposed to the sadness and misery of man: ‘sad’, ‘grieved’, ‘lament’
  • This outlines how far humanity has strayed from its natural state and, in turn, into corruption.
  • Plosives in stanza 3 create a strong sound, illustrating the overwhelming positivity of the natural world (nature’s restorative powers)
  • The anaphora of ‘What man has made of man’ is emphatic. It draws away from the pensive tone of the poem, highlighting the severity of human corruption.
  • The exclamative sentence in the final line of the poem creates a sudden finish. This is striking, conveying the necessity to change society, in order to move back to our natural state of joy and away from corruption.

Summary of context points for the poem:

  • The Napoleonic Wars began just years before this, costing loads of money. This meant that taxes were raised, which caused the poorest of the population to suffer the most. 
  • Habeas Corpus was suspended, which meant people could be arrested without a fair trial, causing unjust imprisonment.


Hi everybody,

Ruby, China and Flora are in their final months of year 13, so we will be taking over the blog. We can’t wait to share some resources and post your requests :). We recently started year 12, so we will be posting about the year 12 texts for now, until we start to study the year 13 texts. In the meantime, look back on older posts for year 13 revision!

We are all eager to start and ready to write blog posts about any of these novels, answering whatever questions you have. Please feel free to contact us @[email protected] – we can’t wait to hear from you!

Issy, Tomi, Marian, Martha, Karensa, Hudaa, Sylvie and Maisie x

A short explanation of Mitch’s character development – A street car named desire

The Poker Night

“I gotta sick mother. She says to go out, so I do, but…all the while I keep wondering how she is” 

“You may be a school teacher but you’re certainly not an old maid” (to Blanche)

(Walts music playing) MITCH is delighted and moves in awkward imitation like a dancing bear. 

Mitch immediately stands out from the raffish poker crowd. He is isolated by Stanley for his worrisome nature and ‘feminine’ sensitivity, while Blanche is taken by his thoughtful and caring behaviour, singling him out as ‘superior to the others’. Mitchell, in polite conversation, takes an interest in Blanche’s life. He inquires about things that Blanche wished Stella had had asked her upon her arrival, and gives the kind answers she’d be fishing for in the Kowalski household; “You may be a school teacher but you’re certainly not an old maid.” Mitch presents himself as boyishly awkward but with an attentive charm, diffusing the tension for Blanche and allowing her to feel like the sought after damsel. For her, Mitch represents a hope that not all working class men have this animal furiosity, and therefore he is a reason for her to get used to this working class culture.

Scene 6 

(Blanche and Mitch go on a date)

“I was getting soft in the belly but now my belly is hard. Punch me! Go on! See?”  

He fumblingly embraces her

“Just give me a slap whenever I step out of bounds” MITCH gets up awkwardly and moves towards her… “You need somebody, and I need somebody to. Could it be – you and me, Blanche?”

The conversation they have at Stella’s is of a rather improper and unromantic fashion, as Mitch ‘dances’ Blanche around immaturely while trying to impress her with his athleticism and brawn. He describes some of the details about himself with a childish amount of detail, “ I’m six feet one and a half inches tall in my bare feet – without shoes on” , in the embarrassing way that Blanche might as well be his mother. He doesn’t appear to have the same perverse approach to a woman as Stanley, as speaking to women doesn’t come naturally to him and his mother has occupied most of his time. At some points in the conversation he doesn’t know how to fill the silence, and is a simple man in the way he doesn’t understand Blanche’s solemnity or metaphors. However, this all makes him more charmingly virgin and sweet, as he clearly cares a lot about Blanche and wants to move fast into a relationship.

(Mitch confronts Blanche)

MITCH plumps himself down on the bed and lights a cigarette 

He tears the paper lantern off the lightbulb. She utters a frightened gasp 

“ all the rest – God! That pitch about your ideals…all that malarkey…Oh, I knew you weren’t 16 anymore”

“you’re not clean enough to bring in the house with my mother”

Mitch arrives at Blanche’s, slovenly and drunk, as if making a conscious and childish effort to look uncaring and unapproachable. His behaviour is spiteful and subtly aggressive, pushing his way into the flat and asserting his ‘masculine’ authority by making himself at home. Blanche speaks in an anxious fluster, and this time his short and vague responses seem to be coming from bitterness rather than confusion. He talks more like Stanley in his accusations towards Blanche, using phrases like ‘malarkey’ and defending the house as Stanley’s right. He violates Blanche with every harsh word and action, exposing her to the light and revealing himself as the man she depended on him not being. He even taunts her by arguing that they may have still had a chance at romance, had just told the truth. Instead of giving her a chance at forgiveness, or even listening to her explanation, he turns to desperate and insulting animosity, treating her like a whore. And with that, Blanche loses her last chance at happiness and stability.

(Blanche is taken away)

At the sound of Blanche’s voice MITCH’S arm supporting his cards sagged and his gaze dissolved into space  

“You! You done this, all your Goddamn interfering…I’ll kill you!” He lunges and strikes at Stanley MITCH collapses at the table, sobbing

In this scene, while Blanche is being unknowingly prepared for a long stay at the mental asylum, Mitch has to sit quietly and guiltily at the sounds of her deluded excitement. It’s suggested that Mitch feels remorse, realising he was accusing/confronting a victim. The last time he saw her he’d called her crazy, “are you boxed out of your mind?” , detaching her from her last ties to reality, and now he sits in an empty and alienated haze at the table. You could argue that he really did care about Blanche, but his prideful and easily influenced nature allowed him to be ‘swindled’ by Stanley’s words. However, you could also argue that he takes no responsibility and projects all his regret onto Stanley. Instead of making any attempt to work things out, Mitch childishly averts his gaze. He lets his feelings simmer until he acts vengefully on Stanley in a self pitying rage,  “I’ll kill you!”, frustrated that he lost a chance at marriage and was denied what he wanted.

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Learn Vocabulary

Learn English Vocabulary Through Pictures with 150 Topics

Vocabulary Exercises A1

English Vocabulary Exercises for A1 with Answers.

Vocabulary Exercises A2

English Vocabulary Exercises for A2 with Answers.

Vocabulary Exercises B1

English Vocabulary Exercises for B1 with Answers.

Vocabulary Exercises B2

English Vocabulary Exercises for B2 with Answers.

FULL Grammar Exercises

FULL English Grammar Exercises with Answers

Verbs and Tenses Exercises

English Verbs and Tenses Exercises with Answers and Explanations

Grammar Exercises A1

English Grammar Exercises for A1 with Answers

Grammar Exercises A2

English Grammar Exercises for A2 with Answers

Grammar Exercises B1

English Grammar Exercises for B1 with Answers

Grammar Exercises B2

English Grammar Exercises for B2 with Answers

Listening Exercises Beginner

English Listening Exercises for Beginner with Answers

Listening Exercises A1

English Listening Exercises for A1 with Answers

Listening Exercises A2

English Listening Exercises for A2 with Answers

Listening Exercises B1

English Listening Exercises for B1 with Answers

Listening Exercises B2

English Listening Exercises for B2 with Answers

Listening Tests A1

Practice Listening Tests for A1 with Answers & Transcripts

Listening Tests A2

Practice Listening Tests for A2 with Answers & Transcripts

Listening Tests B1

Practice Listening Tests for B1 with Answers & Transcripts

Listening Tests B2

Practice Listening Tests for B2 with Answers & Transcripts

Word Skills Exercises A1

English Word Skills Exercises for A1 with Answers

Word Skills Exercises A2

English Word Skills Exercises for A2 with Answers

Word Skills Exercises B1

English Word Skills Exercises for B1 with Answers

Word Skills Exercises B2

English Word Skills Exercises for B2 with Answers

Reading Exercises Beginner

English Reading Exercises for Beginner with Answers

Reading Exercises A1

English Reading Exercises for A1 with Answers

Reading ExercisesC A2

English Reading Exercises for A2 with Answers

Reading Exercises B1

English Reading Exercises for B1 with Answers

Reading Exercises B2

English Reading Exercises for B2 with Answers

Speaking Exercises A1

English Speaking Exercises for A1 with Answers

Speaking Exercises A2

English Speaking Exercises for A2 with Answers

Speaking Exercises B1

English Speaking Exercises for B1 with Answers

Speaking Exercises B2

English Speaking Exercises for B2 with Answers

Writing Exercises A1

English Writing Exercises for A1 with Answers

Writing Exercises A2

English Writing Exercises for A2 with Answers

Writing Exercises B1

English Writing Exercises for B1 with Answers

Writing Exercises B2

English Writing Exercises for B2 with Answers

Business Listening A1

Business English Listening Exercises for A1 with Answers

Business Listening A2

Business English Listening Exercises for A2 with Answers

Business Listening B1

Business English Listening Exercises for B1 with Answers

Article Level 1

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Article Level 2

Article level 3, article level 4, conversations.

Listening Practice Through Dictation with Transcripts

English Writing Exercises for A2 – An email

English Writing Exercises for A2


Writing Strategy

Try to use a variety of phrases to move your narrative forwards. Choose ones which show that the next event happened immediately afterwards or some time later.

1. Read the Writing Strategy. Then complete the sequencing phrases and match the headings below with groups A and B.

Immediately after        Some time later

A   ……………………………………………………………

     1   s__ __ __ __ __ __y

     2   at t__ __ __  m__ __ __ __ __

     3   just t__ __ __

     4   a few m__m__ __ __ __ l__ __ __ __

B   …………………………………………………………….

     5   shortly a __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __

     6   a s__ __ __ __ while l__ __ __ __

     7   before l__ __ __

     8   after a w__ __ __ __

     9   soon a__ __ __ __

     10    s__ __ __

your own answers

2. Read the task and the model text. Underline three sequencing phrases in the email.

Imagine you’ve just visited your French penfriend in Paris. Write an email to your English friend in which you:

–  describe your penfriend’s house.

–  describe a crime you saw taking place in Paris.

–  say how you and your friend reacted to the crime.

–  ask for some information.

To: [email protected]

Dear Holly,

Hope you’re well. I stayed with my penfriend Cécile in Paris last week. She lives in a beautiful flat near the Canal Saint-Martin. It’s a really trendy part of town. At weekends, lots of young people sit by the river, have picnics and play the guitar.

During my stay with Cécilie, we saw a mugging in the centre of town, near the Eiffel Tower. A man grabbed a woman’s handbag and ran off with it. Straight away, her boyfriend chased after him, but the street was very crowded. Soon, he gave up.

We both felt quite shocked at first, but the woman didn’t seem too upset. After a while, we stopped worrying about it and the rest of the holiday was really enjoyable.

Really looking forward to visiting you next week. Are we going camping? What do I need to bring?

Best wishes,

3. Read the writing task. Then make brief notes following the structure in the table below.

Imagine you’ve just spent three days in New York with the family. Write an email to your English friend in which you:

–  give a short description of the hotel you stayed at.

–  describe a crime you saw taking place.

–  say whether the crime changed how you feel about the city, and why.

What is your hotel like? ( / / , etc. 


What crime did you see? ( / / , etc.)

Where were you and what happened? 


Did you feelings about New York change? ( / / , etc.) 


What information do you need? 


Writing Guide

4. write an email using your notes from exercise 3. remember to include and develop all four points in the task., related posts.

  • English Writing Exercises for B1 – An email
  • English Writing Exercises for A2 – A formal letter
  • English Writing Exercises for A2 – An opinion essay
  • English Writing Exercises for A2 – A holiday blog
  • English Writing Exercises for A2 – An application letter
  • English Writing Exercises for A2 – An article

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Writing Topics For ESL Students

30 Writing Topics and Writing Prompts For ESL Students

When learning a new language like English, developing writing skills is essential. Many beginner ESL students find it difficult to write essays, especially if they have to come up with the essay topic themselves.

List Of ESL Writing Topics

Here is a list of ESL writing topics and writing prompts your students can write about.

Tips For Teaching ESL Writing

Error correction.

Although it is necessary to highlight and correct students’ errors, it can be quite demotivating for a student to only hear all the things they got wrong.

After correcting errors, give students an opportunity to re-write their essays and correct their mistakes. Once students have completed their final draft, be sure to let them know what you liked about their essay, and you can even share this praise with other students, teachers, and even the student’s parents.

Ask About Students’ Interests

A great way to encourage this is to ask about things students are interested in and then tailor the writing topic to them.

Provide Enough Writing Prompts

To help students write longer essays, be sure to give them enough writing prompts to cover the different aspects they should cover in their writing.

Structure The Essay

To help ESL students become better at writing in English, teach them a particular structure you would like them to follow when writing their essays.

Thanks for reading. I hope you found some useful ESL writing topics and writing prompts you can use in your next writing class. 

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365 essays for english learners.

1 America: Land of Opportunity

2 The Fourth of July

3 The U.S. Federal Government

4 Christmas: A Holiday of Traditions

5 New Year's Day: A Holiday of New Beginnings

6 Martin Luther King Jr Day: To Remember a Civil Rights Leader

7 Valentine's Day: A Holiday of Love and Friendship

8 St. Patrick's Day: A Holiday to Celebrate the Irish

9 Passover: A Jewish Holiday of Remembering

10 Easter: An Important Christian Holiday

11 Mother's Day: A Holiday to Honor Motherhood

12 Father's Day: A Holiday to Honor Fatherhood

13 Memorial Day: A Holiday to Remember Fallen Soldiers

14 Labor Day: A Holiday to Honor Workers

15 Columbus Day: A Holiday to Remember an Explorer

16 Halloween: A Holiday for Costumes and Candy

17 Veterans Day: A Holiday Honoring All Soldiers

18 Chanukah: A Holiday of Lights

19 Thanksgiving: Families Coming Together

20 Lottery: A Chance at Millions

Topics for Writing

The following  Topics for Writing  are just a small sample from the  game ,  Roll Play , by  Dymon Publications .


What would you do if you were late for an important appointment?

What would you do if someone accused you of a crime you didn’t commit?

What would you do if you got lost in an unfamiliar city?

What would you do if you left something in a locked building?

What would you do if your best friend stole something from you?

What would you do if you didn’t have enough money to pay your bills?

What would you do if your children were caught shoplifting?

What would you do if your car got a flat tire on the freeway?

If you could change one thing about your past, what would it be?

If you could change one major historical event, what would it be?


  • Describe a famous park or recreation area in your home country.
  • Describe an interesting neighbor you have had.
  • Describe something you could never give away.
  • Describe a place you will never forget.
  • Describe a sporting event you attended recently.
  • Describe a memorable birthday celebration.
  • Describe a place you go for recreation or exercise.
  • Describe your childhood home.
  • Describe someone you respect deeply.
  • Describe the nightlife in a city you are familiar with.
  • Tell about a recent interview.
  • Tell about a time when you lost something.
  • Tell about one of your fondest childhood memories.
  • Tell about a time when you lied to your parents, boss, or teacher.
  • What is your opinion about cellular phones?
  • What is your opinion about women in the military?
  • What is your opinion about a current politician?
  • What is your opinion about violence on television?
  • What is your opinion about fortune telling?
  • What is your opinion about the tabloids?
  • What is your opinion about legalizing marijuana?
  • What is your opinion about the welfare system?
  • What is your opinion about cloning?
  • What is your opinion about recycling?
  • Tell about a time when you were treated unfairly.
  • Briefly tell about a movie you saw recently.
  • Tell about something you made ?from scratch.?
  • Tell about a “close call” you had recently.
  • Tell about something you wish had never happened.
  • Tell about a time when you inadvertently caused trouble for someone else.


  • Tell how to find something on the Internet.
  • Tell how to feed family members who drop by unexpectedly.
  • Tell how to dump a boyfriend/girlfriend.
  • Tell how to get from your house to the supermarket.
  • Tell what to do in an earthquake.
  • Tell how to get someone to fall in love with you.
  • Tell how to make a paper airplane.
  • Tell how to get a good table at a restaurant.
  • Tell how to get a discount on an expensive item.
  • Tell how to discipline an unruly child.

Sample Personal Essay Topics

Argumentative Essay Topics (from Glendale Community College, Arizona)

Writing Prompts/Journal Topics  from  Can Teach

TOEFL Writing Topics (from Kazuo.com)

If you have questions or comments about this page, please  contact us .

english essay a2


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