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Sample student responses
Revised GCE
English Literature
AS 2


Contents

Page No



Examination Section A: Poetry


2

Essay 1: Thomas and Frost


3

Essay 2: Duffy and Lochhead


5

Essay 3: Duffy and Lochhead


7

Essay 4: Heaney and Montague


9

Mark Grid


11

Question mark schemes


12



Examination Section B: Prose


15

Essay 5: The Great Gatsby


16

Essay 6: The Great Gatsby


18

Essay 7: The Great Gatsby


20

Essay 8: The Great Gatsby


22

Mark Grid


24

Question mark schemes


25


Essay commentaries and mark bands


Examination Section A: Poetry


26

Examination Section B: Prose


27

All essays are reproduced with the kind permission of the candidates. Essays are reproduced as presented in the examination response booklets



Section A: Poetry

Sample essays
Section A: Poetry
Essay 1: Thomas and Frost
Q4. Thomas and Frost both write about experiences of individuals in a rural landscape.
Compare and contrast the methods which the two poets use to explore the experiences of individuals in a rural landscape in two poems you have studied.

Edward Thomas and Robert Frost both chose to write about the natural world and rural landscapes in several of their poems. In Thomas’ ‘As the Team’s Head-Brass’ and Frost’s ‘The Wood-Pile’, though, they also write about the experiences of an individual.


Thomas’ ‘As the Team’s Head Brass’ is a first person narrative recount of the poet’s in which he re-tells of a day he was in the country side, as he often did in his poetry., where he meets a ploughman in a field whom he talks with.
Frost’s poem is similarly a first person recount of when he was on a walk through a forest alone. He stumbles across a wood-pile which has been abandoned which leads him to explore his own feelings.
To begin in ‘As the Team’s Head Brass’ Thomas sets the scene – he depicts the ‘fallen elm’ and how ‘lovers disappeared into the woods’ – furthermore he explains how he talks with ‘the ploughman’ ‘every time the horses turned’. The first person narrative used here enriches the poets recollection, it also adds realism to the event.
Subsequently, there is a break in the line, upon which the conversation starts between Thomas and the ploughman. They firstly talk about the weather, next about the war’ – displaying how the small talk quickly became about a more serious, and relevant issue. Thomas is asked “Have you been out?” to which he replies “No…If only I could come back again, I should.” This suggests Thomas’ ambiguity about whether to join the army or not. He was considering it at the time of writing the poem, and later joined – be it only teaching soldiers map skills and so on.
This experience could have influenced his decision though. Pathos and sympathy is evoked from the reader when they hear how “a few” have been lost. What’s more the ploughman states how “one of my mates is dead” – provoking pity from the reader and undoubtedly Thomas upon having this conversation. The ploughman elaborates his story and tells Thomas how he his ‘mate’ was killed on only “the second day in France” – this is ironic as the man had been courageous to join the army, and then been killed straight away, making his decision meaningless. This could allude add to Thomas’ ambiguousity about whether to join the army or not.
A key technique Thomas uses in the poem is direct speech. The conversation is given a sense of dramatic realism by the use of this technique, which emphasises the event’s discussion and brings them to life.
Finally, Thomas again notices the lovers coming out of the woods together. This could symbolise how the youth at the time were blissfully ignorant to the important issues which had just been discussed, or perhaps Thomas merely noticed their happiness, which could have given him an inner warmth at a time in his life full of sadness.
Robert Frost’s ‘The Wood-Pile’ is a narrative recount of Frost ‘Out walking in the frozen swamp one gray day.’ The very fact that it is set on a ‘gray day’ is a pathetic fallacy to reflect the attitude of Frost in the poem, and moreover is establishing a desolate and glum tone.
This compares with the tone of ‘As the Team’s Head Brass’ which carries a tone of pity but also an indecisive one from Thomas’ thoughts and words.
Frost is ‘walking’, on a journey- which alludes to a sort of metaphorical quest he is on, in an attempt to think philosophically about life, similarly to that of ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.’ Frost describes this his surroundings (the trees) as being ‘too much alike’ – indicating that he is not certain where he is. Frost may have done this to suggest he is lost in thought, in a labriynth of his mind.
This differs from Thomas’ poem where he is ‘Sat among the boughs of the fallen elm’ and appears to be more at rest than Frost on the ‘gray day’.
Frost said consequently explains a bird that ‘flew before me’, and ‘Who was so foolish as to think I was after him for a feather’. Frost mocks the bird by calling it ‘foolish’ – as he has a love for nature and its contents Frost is astounded that the bird was scared of him. Following this, Frost’s attenting attention is drawn to ‘a pile of wood’.
Frost describes the pile in detail, developing a more and more inquisitive tone, as he looks at more and more detail, ‘cut and split’ ‘four by four by eight’ seem like basic descriptions but then he notices other things, for example how ‘Clematis had wound strings round it’. He explains the situation further by contemplating how ‘only someone who lived in turning to fresh tasks could so forget his handiwork’. Frost admires the work but he also suggests that as the pile was ‘far from a useful fireplace’ and the ‘bark warping off it’, man’s endeavours cannot control nature, and man shouldn’t try and harness it. He ends the poem bleakly, talking about the ‘Frozen swamp’ and ‘burning decay’ – both illuminating a dark and eerie sense of death.
‘The Wood-Pile’ contrasts interestingly with the ‘fallen elm’ on which Thomas sat. The pile of wood is the result of man’s work, whereas the elm is left dieing on the field due to the lack of a work force to move it. This suggests the poets had different experiences of the rural landscapes they were in; Frost disapproving of the harnes attempt to control nature, whereas nature, controls what man can do in ‘As the Team’s Head Brass’ – to ‘the blizzard’ that wrecked the field.
The poems are similar in the fact that neither of them rhyme, perhaps suggesting a sense of unharmony and disrupt in the poets’ minds. What’s more, the diction in both poems is fairly simple, and little poetic technique is used in either poem – also alluding to a bleak outlook on each of the experiences by each poet.
In conclusion, both of the poets Edward Thomas and Robert Frost convey differing experiences they had as individuals in rural areas, although some similarities are shown between the writing of the two good friends.

Essay 2: Duffy and Lochhead
Q1. Duffy and Lochhead both write about past experiences.
Compare and contrast the methods which the two poets use to present past experiences in two poems you have studied.

Both Carol Ann Duffy and Liz Lochhead use the first person in order to explore a particular incident in great depth. In addition, the two poets use hindsight to delve into their trivial childhood incidence to incident in order to examine lifestyle at the time.


‘Litany’ starts on quite a striking note; ‘The soundtrack then was litany’- this suggests something about the lives that people led at the time, strict and in some aspects ritual. This sets the tone of the poem as one of regime and order. She goes on to talk about ‘stiff – haired wives’ who ‘balanced their red smiles’, everything about these women requires effort and they are portrayed as being unnatural. In order to set the time of the poem, Duffy employs brand names such as ‘pyrex’ and ‘American tan’ with which the reader can relate, aiding her documentation of this past experience.
Similarly Lochhead uses not only references to the time such as ‘Kruschev’ but also literally tells the reader ‘this was the nineteen fifties’. Lochhead’s poem ‘The Metal Raw’ is all about a ‘road or raw’ she used to walk down as a child that became known as the ‘raw’ due to Scottish dialect. Her memory is slightly distorted as demonstrated by her ambiguity of age: ‘At four, or five or six, or so’. She uses this ambiguity of memory continuously through the poem for example she thinks a section of the road was ‘a real remnant of The Iron Curtain’, mixing up historical events with her real life. This helps Lochhead to explain her experience in terms of international significance.
This is similar to ‘Litany’ where instead of confusing historical events with the real world, her event is representative of life at the time. Language as in ‘The Metal Raw’ is itself a subject which assists the portrayal of 1950s life: ‘The terrible marriages crackled’ mimesis is used here in the an unusual placing of the word ‘crackled’, it makes the marriages seem old and decrepid despite the womens’ “perfect” exterior. Duffy writes that ‘Language embarrassed them’ whether this mean they are unable to express themselves in their regimented lives or are embarrassed of swear words is unclear. However as the poem goes on Duffy begins to explore their behavoir through the use of language – often repeating a swear word she heard in school she is forced to apologise to the women in turn: ‘I’m sorry Mrs Barr, Mrs Hunt, Mrs Emery, sorry Mrs Kaine’. The same syntax is used to demonstrate the monotony of the apology and its insincerity which is why it relates to the title – ‘Litany’
Language is used ambiguosly in ‘The Metal Raw’ unlike in ‘Litany’. ‘We slept under a mushroom cloud, feared…Bulgarin men in cossack hats in blizzards of inteference of the grey T.V. screens’ – metaphors are used to demonstrate the young Lochhead’s confusion or rather her, now looking back with hindsight, at the burden of nuclear war which hung over their heads in the ‘fifties’. The interference on the television is coupled with ‘blizzards’ which relates to the images of Russia seen at the time and ‘cossack hats’ again demonstrates her childlike association where men like ‘Krushev’ were in would not have necessarily worn them. These associations continue such as thinking some Roma people along the road were from the nursery rhyme ‘old meg she was a gipsy’ and calling ‘reeds’ ‘bullrushes’ associating them with the ‘Baby Moses’ Simply because that is all she knew. Sandbites are also employed in order to enhance the presentation of her part experience: ‘watch they wouldnae rip the hand off you. These phrases offer an insight into Lochhead’s auditary memory a key feature of her style.
Sound from memory is also evident in ‘Litany’: ‘candlewick bedspread three piece suite display cabinet’. The absence of punctuation demonstrates how Duffy has heard this only to be repeated like this, but not actually offering any meaning the words – an aspect of memory. The actual meaning of the words said by the women is further explored as Duffy sat at her ‘mother’s knee…where no one had cancer, or sex, or debts’, hearing about these things and only now with hindsight understands their meaning. These adult like subjects seem to have an impact on the child, talking now about ‘a mass grave of wasps bobbed in a jam-jar’, the innocence of a child is challenged by more serious subjects like ‘mass grave’. This marks a transition between the sweet and the severe which is reflected in the last sentence: ‘The taste of soap’. This is a grave note on which to end where language has caused her mother ‘shame’ and ‘tensed the air like an accident’.
The first line of the ‘metal raw’ end on an equally break note. In hindsight Lochhead too can recognise the things she didn’t as a child, in this case the severe danger they were in: ‘our mothers…far too scared not to buy the tinkers’ pegs and prophesies’. Their mothers now were too tearful of the serious death threat that they were willing to buy ordinarily pointless ‘prophesies’. As a child, however, Lochhead seemed only concerned with more trivial aspects of life such as remembering not to ‘brake your bike on’ the ‘mud and clinker’ of the road. She employs Scottish dialect like putting ‘red (rid)’ in brackets aswell as words such as ‘tinks’ and ‘big cousin’ to reflect her speech at the time. Lochhead also uses free verse in order to explore her memory freely.
This is different to ‘Litany’. In order to demonstrate the monotony and strictness of the lives of these nineteen-fiftees women she adopts a regimented style of four six line stanzas. This, like in ‘the metal raw’, also allows the poets to mark the transition from innocence to the more serious whether that be seen with hindsight or rather not (in the case of ‘Litany’). The use of the first person allows the reader to experience first hard the events that both poets experienced, without having them filtered through another.
This provides insight into events that only the poets themselves can provide enhancing their experiences for the reader. The use of language as a subject itself and the use of hindsight enables both Duffy and Lochhead to examine life at the time and the troubles that affected the actions of the people of the 1950s.

Essay 3: Duffy and Lochhead
Q1. Duffy and Lochhead both write about past experiences.
Compare and contrast the methods which the two poets use to present past experiences in two poems you have studied.

Plan



Duffy:

In Mrs T’s class

- happy childhood memory of primary school
Lang: - Admiration of teacher

“Mrs Tilscher loved you, good gold star by your name”



  • simile: “classroom glowed” – excitement

  • change over time – “inky tadpoles”. More developed

  • growing up + moving on “fractious under the heavy” rough boy told you how born

Form: dramatic monologue looking back to youth


Struct: 4 stanzas 8 8 7 7

4 stages of childhood


Imagery: tadpoles

“gates” – to freedom

+ growing up “impatient to be grown
Tone: excitement + upbeat + reflective


Lochhead:

The Redneck



  • Her wedding day




  • not compliments of husband

“ him shouting Perfect Working Order

every two minutes mooning his mates”


Persona of a bride about wedding day


2 stanzas

16+3 – happiness come to an abrupt end


Reflective, regretful, not complementary

Both Carol Ann Duffy and Liz Lochhead present past experiences in their poems. In ‘Mrs Tilscher’s Class’ Duffy reflects upon happy childhood memories at primary school while Lochhead reminisces about her wedding day in ‘The Redneck’.


In ‘Mrs Tilscher’s Class’ Duffy evokes a sense of admiration she had for her teacher: “Mrs Tilscher loved you … left a good gold star by your name”. Here a sense of nurturing and car mothering is conjured up. Whereas in ‘The Redneck’, Lochhead describes her husband to be “every two minutes mooning his mates … a right rid neck”. Here she is not complementary, contra which is unexpected as it was her wedding day and unlike in Duffy’s poem, evokes a lack of pride for him.
Both poets make use of similes in their poems. “The classroom glowed like a sweet shop”, this suggests reinforces the excitement of the children and eagerness to learn as well as highlighting the pleasure they get from being at school. By contrast, Lochhead claims to have been “like a rake” on her wedding day, suggesting she had suffered in order to be slimmer for her wedding. Although, generally, weddings are one of the happiest da and memorable days of one’s life, Lochhead reinforces a lack of happiness satisfaction and emphasises her struggle, contrasting the children’s motivation and enthusiasm whilst at school which is rather ironic due to the less eager impression we conjured up when people reminiss about school days.
Time is a prominent theme in both poems. In “Mrs Tilscher’s class’ “inky tadpoles changed from commas into exclamation marks”. As well as this symbolizing the children growing up, there Duffy highlights the development in the children’s learning. Comparatively, Lochhead uses time to convey a more solemn theme as she claims “during my marriage I ballooned” implying that over time she has been unhappy and has grown conscious about her body, contraducting Duffy’s image of growing up and developing more over time.
At the end of Duffy’s poem, there is a change in the style of language as the sky made the children become “fractious under the heave, sexy sky”. This also emphasises the theme of growing up and perhaps the children entering puberty as “a rough boy told you how you were born”. This implies that the children have are beginning to lose their innocence. In ‘The Redneck’ the bride describes how overtime her unhappiness has escalated: “bad enough splli splitting up without the complications” evoking a depressing image and what she thought would bring her happiness has resulted in sadness.
‘Mrs Tilscher’s Class’ is in the form of a monologue as Duffy reminisces about her childhood. While ‘The Redneck’ is form in the form of a persona of a bride reflecting on her wedding day. Duffy’s poem has a 4 stanza structure 2 of them 8 lines and 2 7 lines. This could perhaps reflect the 4 stages of childhood and as the children grow up, there is less excitement due to the last two stanzas having one less lines. ‘The Redneck’ has a structure of two stanzas, one 16 lines and one 3 lines implying that her happiness soon came to an end. Ther Both poems are free verse and have no rhyme. In Duffy’s poem, this could reflect the excitement of the child, while in Lochhead’s, this may be due to the lack of harmony in her marriage.
‘In Mrs Tilscher’s Class’ the tome in reflective and excitable as Duffy concludes her poem by describing the children running through “gates, Impatient to be grown”. This portraying how quickly childhood goes by and how they eventually long for freedom and liberation to live their lives. Lochhead refers to her husband as the “pig with a knife down his sock”.
Both Carol Ann Duffy and Liz Lochhead make use of language, tone, imagery, form and structure to convey rather different past experiences. Duffy reminisces about the exciting childhood spent at primary school before growing up and seeking freedom. While Lochhead portrays the sadness of a bride reflecting on her wedding day and her “pig” of a husband who she then split up with, despite weddings normally being associated with love and happiness.

Essay 4: Heaney and Montague
Q2. Heaney and Montague have both written love poems.
Compare and contrast the methods which the two poets use to explore the theme of love in two poems you have studied.

John Montague and Seamus Heaney are two of the most renowned Irish poets, both writing in the post 1960s. Although many of their poem focus on love contain references to love and human relationships the two which I feel focus most on this theme are “All Legendary Obstacles” by John Montague from ‘A Chosen Light’ and “The Skunk” by Seamus Heaney.


Both titles are quite ambiguous as neither point directly to the theme of romance. The title if Heaney’s poem is only made clear after reading the poem as you do not expect “The Skunk” to have any connotations with his wife. Similarly the titles of Montague The title “All Legendary Obstacles” seems very grand and the use of the word “legendary” suggests something magical and unrealistic. From the outset the relationship depicted in Montague’s poem seems mysterious.
Heaney’s uses four six lined stanzas poem is composed of four-six lined

“The Skunk” is composed of four-six six-four lined stanzas in which Heaney conveys his love for his wife Maire as he reminisces about a time when he was separated from her whilst in California. His sense of longing for his partner is clearly depicted via the enjambment used between stanzas three and four, perhaps to prolong the memory of his wife.


In contrast in “All Legendary Obstacles” it is unknown whether the relationship is based on fact or fiction. The four-six lined stanzas tell of the narrator waiting for the arrival of his lover. However there do seem to be some flaws in this relationship as the full stops between each stanza not only break the continuity of the poem, but also makes the relationship seem disjointed.
Throughout Montague’s poem the tone is quite pessimistic and nervous as he awaits and it causes the reader to wonder whether Montague really wants to overcome the “obstacles” in order to see his partner? Whereas in “The Skunk” the tone is very romantic, sensual and even slightly humorous at the end. Heaney presents love much more lightheartedly than Montague.
This is conveyed immediately in Heaney’s poem by the opening word, “up” and he uses a simile to liken the skunk’s tail to “the chausible/At a funeral Mass.” It is clear to the reader that Heaney doesn’t mean the skunk to be an ugly comparison for his wife, instead he intends it to be “glamorous.” In the first two stanzas there is a sense of excitement and anticipation as the poet “expect[s] [the skunk] like a visitor.” This is continued in stanza two as the use of short sentences heightens the sense of excitement and speeds up the pace of the poem.
In contrast there is no such excitement at the prospect of the imminent arrival of a loved one in “All Legendary Obstacles.” Montague uses three quite bleak example of all that “[lies] between” the two people to create a pessimistic tone. There is a “long, imaginary plain”; which is in fact not imaginary but a reality, “the monstrous ruck of mountains”; which creates a sense of foreboding, and sibilance and onomatopoeia are used to describe “the hissing drift of winter rain” which seems very ominous. This is also an example of pathetic fallacy as the dreary landscape may be a parallel for how he himself is feeling.
However, the setting in “The Skunk” is quite exotic; “small oranges loomed in the orange tree” making the skunk see implying that the skunk is, like Heaney’s wife, very extraordinary and precious. This is reinforced by the simile in line eleven as the word wife is compared to a “stored cask” and is clearly of great importance to the poet.
In “All Legendary Obstacles” Montague uses long vowel sounds in the line; “All day I waited” to prolong the time which the two character spend apart. It is not until stanza three that the mysterious visitor finally arrives, “at midnight.” The use of time here makes the partner’s arrival seem quite suspicions and we are told the speaker himself is too “blind with rain/and doubt to speak.” The lovers hands are described as being “chilled” and this could be a metaphor for the “chilly” relationship.
In contrast Heaney’s relationship seems filled with love as no matter how seemingly negative his description for his wife is, he is always able to convey his love for her. Stanza four appeals to the reader’s senses as we smell the “tang of eucalyptus” and smell the “aftermath of a mouthful of wine.” This emotive description reinforces the sensual tone. However, in this stanza Heaney does seem frustrated as he juxtaposes the two adjectives “beautiful and useless” implying that although he is surrounded by this wonderful scenery he desperately misses his wife and he hates being separated from her. In this case he would does perhaps it would seem the well-known phrase “absence makes the heart grow fonder” would apply to Heaney.
Although in “All Legendary Obstacles” the couple are finally united together there still remains an undercurrent of uncertainty. Montague adds a touch of humour as an “old lady” watches the couple unsurreptitiously. However, the lady may is in fact another “obstacle” which the lovers have to overcome. The poem ends with a vivid description of the couple “kissing,” reminding the readers that it is a love poem. Yet, as the poem concludes the pair are “still unable to speak” and it seems all is not well. It finishes with an air of mystery and the couple’s relationship doesn’t seem to end happ and uncertainty as the reader wonders why they cannot communicate?
Similarly in Heaney’s poem there is a touch of humour as the skunk finally appears. The poet once again juxtaposes adjectives such as “ordinary and mysterious” to create a satisfactory comparison to his wife. In the final stanza the poet is reminded of the skunk’s behaviour by his wife’s preparations for bed; “your head-down, tail-up hunt in a bottom drawer.” In this line Heaney simultaneously exalts and undercuts his wife as she searches for her “nightdress.” It is only after this surprising and humorous end that the meaning of the poem becomes clear.
Both of the poems which I have chosen depict a very different portrayal of love. I think However, I think that Heaney’s poem incorporates does so much more skilfully than Montague’s. Montague has painted a very morbid, pessimistic view of relationships which I find quite throughout his poem. In contrast, I feel it is a testament to the loving relationship between he and his wife that Heaney can compare her to a “snuffing” animal and still convey his love for her.


Mark Grid Section A: Poetry

Mark schemes
Section A: Poetry







Section B: Prose

Sample essays
Section B: Prose
Essay 5: The Great Gatsby
Q8 (b). The novel’s concern with money and materialism makes The Great Gatsby as relevant today as it was in the 1920s, the period in which it was set.
With reference to appropriately selected parts of novel, and relevant external contextual information, give your response to the above view.

In ‘The Great Gatsby’, Fitzgerald addresses the money and materialism which earnt the 1920s the nickname ‘The Roaring Twenties’. Fitzgerald summed sums up the materialistic attitude of this era in his essay, ‘Echoes of the Jazz Age’, in which he writes that ‘it was an age of excess… a how whole race going hedonistic, deciding upon pleasure’. However, Whilst the novel still holds relevance today since we still live in a capitalist and money-orientated society, it is debatable as to whether the novel is still as relevant today since other themes in the novel such as post-war hedonism and the Jazz Age itself hold little relevance to modern reader. Compared with firstly firstly, a the ‘Great Gatsby’.


To begin with a central theme of ‘The Great Gatsby’ is money. During the 1920s, consumerism was growing increasing quickly and with the availability of possibility of owning a car and large homes Americans desired to own cars and large homes and improve their quality of life. This dream – ‘The American Dream’ is shared by several epitomised characters in the novel, the most obvious being by Gatsby who rose from being a ‘penniless young man’ to someone being rich. Interestingly, Fitzgerald himself also climbed the social ladder from being born in a middle-class family to becoming a celebrity of his time. This desire to improve oneself is still very relevant Myrtle is also demonstrated to try and improve her social standing by the way in which she frequently changes her outfits. Nick comments that with her change of outfit ‘her personality has also undergone a change’ which suggests that Myrtle may have been trying to go from ‘intense vitality’ to ‘impressive hauteur ‘. This behaviour suggests that Myrtle may have been trying to give the impression that she has more money than she really does. This desire to improve oneself is still very relevant to modern readers since many people today still wish for more money and to seem wealthy to others.
Additionally, money is presented to be spent freely in the novel. Nick comments that Tom’s ‘Freedom with money was a matter for reproach’, and even Myrtle seems to spend without concern (although it is most likely she is spending Tom’s money) in New York where she buys cold cream, a magazine, ‘Town-tattle’ perfume and a dog in a short space of time. This casual attitude towards money certainly still hold relevance today since this attitude is still common, with many people spending on unnecessary items.
Furthermore, money is used in the novel to show the lavishness luxury of the lives of the lives of the rich compared with the lives of the poor. Daisy and Tom represent the rich, whereas Wilson and Myrtle represent the poor. Daisy and Tom live in ‘a cheerful red-and-white Georgian colonial mansion’ in East Egg where ‘the palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered’. The ‘cheerful’ nov The word ‘cheerful’ reflects the happy and easy nature of their lives and the word ‘glittered’ demonstrates the beauty of East Egg. And their sun In contrast, Myrtle and Wilson live in the Valley of Ashes, described as ‘a fantastic farm’ where ashes grow like wheat’. Dull This dull imagery contrasts with that used to describe East Egg and demonstrates the contrast between the two. Of course , o It is shown he Not everyone in the 1920s were able to live the ‘American Dream’ and earn lot’s plenty of money and many were suffering from unemployment and poverty. The shabby lives and difficult lives of Wilson and Myrtle reflect this in the novel, and this remains these problems are still very relevant today since there are still very rich people and very poor people leading very different lives.
However, those with money in the novel are depicted to be materialistic through the many parties they attend and lack of moral conscience shown. Many guests attend Gatsby’s house who do not know him or are uninvited, showing that they are just using him for to have a good time. Daisy, in particular, is presented to be very materialistic through the way in which she dicided decides to stay with Tom despite knowing that he has been unfaithful for the security of money. Nick recognises that ‘the thing for her to do is to run out of the house, child in arms’, but instead she retreats ‘back into her money or vast carelessness’. The fact that Daisy would prefer to be in a problematic marriage with lots of money rather than with Gatsby who she loves demonstrates reveals her materialistic nature. Marrying for practicality is still relevant today since women society remains to be a materialistic one in which people often search for self-gain.
However, as well as being etc. addressing the topics of money and materialism, Fitzgerald also seems to be concerned with aspects of it, and it seems that there are some universal morals which can be observed which are still relevant today. Whilst Myrtle represents is an American who at time tries to sometimes improve her tries to improve herself, she ends up dead with with her breast ‘ swinging like a flap’. This is interesting since America is described to have been ‘a fresh, green breast of the new world’ by the first people to discover it. By having the breast Myrtle’s breast damaged, Fitzgerald may have been trying to show how money and materialism is ruining America and show the futility of the American Dream. After all, Gatsby never did achieve his dream of getting Daisy back. Fitzgerald may here have been concerned about the effects of such attitude money-orientated and materialistic attitudes an society and therefore may have been commen warning readers of the devastating effects it could have. This warning still holds relevance to modern readers since society is becoming more and more materialistic and the consequences of such behaviour should be considered.
In conclusion, the novel’s concern with money and materialism is still helps to make the novel ‘great ‘The Great Gatsby’ of relevance to modern readers. Gett The desire to become rich, freedom with spending money freely and materialistic attitudes are all features of modern society which are shared with 1920s American society, plus the potential dangers of such these attitudes are also as relevant to modern readers as those in the period in which it is set. However, it is not only the concern with money and materialism which make it relevant; ‘The Great Gatsby’ is also a love story which also holds relevance to modern readers. However, other topics themes such as the Jazz Age and, post-war American hedonism and prohibition lack relevance to modern readers and therefore I disagree that they are it is as relevant as it was in the past, despite having some universal truths which can still be observed nowadays.

Essay 6: The Great Gatsby
Q8 (b). The novel’s concern with money and materialism makes The Great Gatsby as relevant today as it was in the 1920s, the period in which it was set.
With reference to appropriately selected parts of novel, and relevant external contextual information, give your response to the above view.

“The Great Gatsby” conveys an image of 1920’s America which was the first of its time all time and which is still relevant today. The obvious reveling in money and parties are expressed throughout the novel and continue to be apparent today. Fitzgerald particularly uses characters such as Gatsby, Daisy and Myrtle to convey the importance of money and materialism in this decade and its affect upon peoples beliefs and morals.


Firstly, in agreement to the novel’s relevance to today’s society there is a clear to modern day society. I can most obviously point out the parties held throughout the novel, Fitzgerald wrote poeticly poetically of the “garnished”, “glistening” and “harlequin designs” of food that flourished the tables at Gatsbys parties in the third chapter. This display of money and attention to detail made Gatsbys parties seem spectacular. Gatsby is clearly aware of the importance of money, as Fitzgerald makes us aware as he endeavours to “repeat the past”. Fitzgerald uses Catsbys character as someone who has clearly profitted from the ideals of the “American Dream” and therefore uses his material items such as his car, house and lavish parties to convey his wealth to others. Furthermore, the many hundreds of people that flock to his parties and drunkenly leave many hours later is easily paralleled with the consumer driven world we now live in. Additionally, the amount of alcohol consumed in a time of prohibition is astounding. In today’s society without prohibition it is easy to find the amount of alcohol bought and drunk continually throughout the novel incredulous incredible. From the very first chapter Nick recalls of his “second glass of corky” and the “four cocktails” offered to Jordan Baker. The continual drunkenness is apparent throughout the whole novel and is easily linked towards later unhappiness. One such example of this is Myrtle Wilson’s broken nose in chapter 3. Due to Tom having “tanked up” a large amount of alcohol in Long Island and New York, his anger and strength are clearly unleashed. Myrtle provokes his anger through the phrase “Daisy, Daisy, Daisy!...I’ll say it whenever I want” showing her intoxication clearly.
Furthermore, when looking upon stability, power and status which seem to affect people less in today’s society, we can clearly see the creation of the character Daisy. Some scathing critics believe that Daisy is the main inescapable trouble of the entire novel. Daisy is said to have “a low, thrilling voice” and easily encaptures the attention of young men. Born into money and status, she is easily conveyed as the villain of the story for being unable to fulfil Gatsbys dream of being able to “repeat the past”. Daisy’s inability to leave the haven of Tom Buchanan’s “enormous wealth”, depicts the heart of what Fitzgerald is trying to illustrate with the social divide of West and East Egg. Fitzgerald notoriously quoted “The rich are not like you and I” explaining his strong belief that the wealthy are seperated from the ordinary society. This can be emphasised by the phrase “her voice is full of money” conveying Daisy’s seperation from those who have not been brought up in “traditional” wealth. Thus, in a modern society, the relevance of status and power can be conveyed in a less obvious and segregated depiction in that shown in “The Great Gatsby”.
In addition, the materialism shown in the novel is at the heart of all Gatsbys possessions, and Myrtle’s desire to belong in a higher social group. Fitzgerald uses the “beautiful shirts” Daisy marvels at to explain Gatsbys overwhelming desire to impress Daisy through his material items. This can also be echoed through his “gorgeous car” that is “bright with nickel and a rich cream colour”. The symbolism of the cars throughout the novel reflect the new freedom and modernisation of America throughout the period leading to the Wall Street Crash. Therefore cars are central to the novel and thus Gatsbys car is the most impressive and expensive. Continually, Myrtle expresses her attachment towards material items in New York where she buy’s an extraordinary list of items including a puppy and “Town Tattle” a magazine of the age. Fitzgerald also notes that “with the influence of her dress her personality had also undergone a change” illustrating the strength of material items and their power to change people. In modern society, we are consumed by our love for material items and the belief that they will bring happiness, however (as Gatsby realises) possesions do not lead to happiness or love. Unlike 1920’s America, modern life consists of more technology and consumer items so I believe we should be concerned as the materialism and corruption displayed in The Great Gatsbys allows us to be alert to.
Finally, with the emancipation of women shown in the novel and frowned upon by characters such as Tom Buchanan (“women around too much these days”) we cannot so clearly understand and relate to. We are unable to understand how the freedom of women affected money and love of materialism because of the equality shown in society today. The freedom of women allowed parties such as Gatsby’s to be wilder much less reserved and concerned upon manners and morals. As Nick depicts women falling back upon the men they had brought with them, we can clearly see the lust and sexual freedom that riddled the era. The power of money also allowed women such as Myrtle Wilson to become unfaithful towards their husbands at the allure of Tom Buchanan’s money. With the demi death of Myrtle written so graphically and the weapon used to kill her the symbol of wealth and modernisation of the age (the car), as a reader we can see a message of concern towards how much as a society we value money and material items. Fitzgerald could be suggesting the foreshadowing to the end of ominous looming of the end of parties and luxury, which was brought about the Wall Street Crash. This can also be shown through the death of Gatsby; the image of the “American Dream” and prosperity.
In conclusion, I believe that the novel conveys many ideas of money and materialism that are displayed confidently in modern society such as mass alcohol consumption and the desire for material goods in order to obtain happiness. However, the strength of status in traditional money is not clearly identified in the world of today. Thus, “The Great Gatsby” contains a large amount of themes and concerns we.

Essay 7: The Great Gatsby
Q8 (b). The novel’s concern with money and materialism makes The Great Gatsby as relevant today as it was in the 1920s, the period in which it was set.
With reference to appropriately selected parts of novel, and relevant external contextual information, give your response to the above view.

I would say that in today’s society money and materialism are major things and yes ‘The Great Gatsby’ or at least the meaning behind it are relevent today, however I feel that money and materialism were much more of a big deal in the 1920’s than now, especially in America.


The time that ‘The Great Gatsby’ was written was the time of the ‘Jazz Age’, just after the end of the First World War. People were only just starting to have a hedonistic attitude towards life and in contrast to today where being materialistic is normal back then it was a big deal and a new and exciting thing. An example in the novel of this excitement is where Gatsby shows Daisy all of his different coloured shirts. Daisy responds by saying “What beautiful shirts…It makes me sad because I have never seen such – such beautiful shirts”. This over-reaction shows that in the 1920’s people were fascinated by wealth and consumeristic items and Fitzgerald uses Daisy as a character to show this. Whereas today people generaly speaking would not react like this to shirts because it is more common.
Also at this time because the war had just finished, people lost faith in God and in life and a lot of the time did have a hedonistic approach to life and wanted to spend a lot of money and enjoy life. Fitzgerald leads us to believe that wealth and materialism was a huge thing in the 1920’s and focuses the whole novel on it. For example, the idea that Gatsby wanted to win back Daisy by throwing extravagant parties, driving a nice car and having a nice house. All very ostentacious things which in the 1920’s would have been looked highly upon. We can see this attraction to material things where Fitzgerald says “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy is accross the bay”.
Nowadays, people do not think so much about living their life for the pursuit of pleasure as much as in the 1920’s perhaps because we have not all just come out of a war and seek a funfilled and materialistic way of living.
The emancipation of women after the war also has an effect on the way people lived their lives in the ‘Jazz age’ compared to now. Back then women were getting independence and freedom and wanted to celebrate this by being able to spend their own money on materialistic things, which are unneeded. This is mainly because when the men were at war, women did all of their jobs back home, earning respect. It meant that they had the right to do what they want, and don’t have to settle down to one escort. Fitzgerald uses Myrtle, Daisy and Jordan to show different aspects of this materialism. He uses Myrtle by showing her finding happiness and pleasure from Buchanan’s money and ostentacious things. For example, where she goes to New York with him and Nick, she buys lots of un-needed items, “can we get a dog” for example. Along with perfume and other items.

This is where Nick then starts thinking about materialism and the way that people are living their lives, “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexaustable variety of life”.


In today’s current climate people aren’t as likely to buy things for the sake of it however like in the 1920’s some people do and some don’t. However I do not think the idea behind ‘The Great Gatsby is as relevent because back then things which are so ordinary and common now were brand new back then.
One of these things is Advertising. Advertising played a key role in the 1920’s for conspicious consumption to start becomming widely spread. It gave distributers a way of getting their product out there. And with the people’s new fresh attitude towards money and material things it was a huge aspect of this new culture. In ‘the Great Gatsby’. Fitzgerald uses advertising to show this new idea of materialism and conspicuous consumption through many different approaches.
One being Doctor T.J. Eckleberg, the factory owner whos huge advert was in ‘The Wasteland’ on the factory wall. He puts it here because the huge glasses on the poster symbolise distorted vision, of which Fitzgerald is trying to suggest the people in America at that time and place had, and advertising being a key factor in achieving that. He helps us to see this by saying when describing the poster and Myrtle’s death, “God sees everything”. Not only showing us the impact of advertising at the time, and also showing people’s lack of faith in God, but that it seems that their God has become something promoting spending and a materialistic lifestyle. In contrast to this today people are so used to advertising that it is not as effective as back then, showing that the idea behind ‘The Great Gatsby’ is not as relative now as then.
Transport was something that also played a role in materialism in the 1920’s, much more than now, because back then motorcars were new and nowadays extremely common and are almost a necessity. Fitzgerald portray’s the motorcar as being a bad thing throughout the novel. It not only shows materialism that is un-needed but also then goes into being “the death car” which kills Myrtle. An example of where Fitzgerald mentions motorcars to be a very excessive and un-needed buy is where he describes “At week-ends Gatsby’s Rolls Royce becomes and omnibus”. An extravagant purchase which is only used to show clearly Gatsby’s hedonistic lifestyle and his ostentacious way of creating it.
In conclusion I believe that money and materialism play key roles in today’s society, yet are not as relevent now as they were in the 1920’s when a lot changed and new ways of life were created.

Essay 8: The Great Gatsby
Q8 (b). The novel’s concern with money and materialism makes The Great Gatsby as relevant today as it was in the 1920s, the period in which it was set.
With reference to appropriately selected parts of novel, and relevant external contextual information, give your response to the above view.

‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a novel which revolves around the themes of money and materialism. Additionally Fitzgerald provides an insight into the lives of people who posess money and materialistic objects such as the Buchanan’s and Gatsby and those who don’t such as George Wilson and to some extent Nick. The novel’s concern with money and materialism can be strongly compared to today’s society, however it is essential to remember that in the 1920’s people’s concerns with money and materialism were derived from other sources than today.


Fitzgerald describes people who have historically been wealthy such as Tom Buchanan who live on the ‘more fashionable east egg’. Tom’s family are described as being ‘enormously wealthy’ and thus the reader gains the impression that Tom and Daisy belong to the ‘Old Money’ category of society. This factor of labelling people based on their wealth is particularly noticeable today. The upper class is a parallel to the old money which Fitzgerald describes. Therefore the stratification of society can clearly be seen in today’s society as it was in the 1920’s. The novel’s concern with money also stereotypes people’s wealth based on their home. The fact that Tom and Daisy’s house is depicted as a ‘Red and White Georgian Colonial Mansion’ and Wilson’s house in the Valley of Ashes is described as a ‘block of yellow bricks’ clearly highlights the divide in wealth.
One of the main factors of the novel’s concern with money and materialism is the point that everyone wants to become rich and induldge in the lavish lifestyle Tom and Daisy uphold. This is equally relevant today as it was in the 1920’s. Nick travels east from Minnesota to New York, in the hope of becoming a successful bonds salesman and making a fortune. Nick supposes that the bond industry ‘could support one more single man’. This mentality of people striving to become wealthy has been a part of human nature throughout history, not just in 1920’s American society.
However, the novel’s concern with money and materialism is not simply just because people want to become rich. In particular, the main character Gatsby, only aims to end eventually suceedes in becoming wealthy in the hope of regaining his former love Daisy. Fitzgerald describes Gatsby’s mansion as ‘an imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard a raw ivy and a marble swimming pool and forty acres of lawn and garden’. Gatsby did not buy the property for its magnificent and extravagant details, rather he bought it as Daisy’s house was just across the bay. In my opinion this contrasts with today’s society as people tend to become rich in the dream of enjoying the luxiouries and benefits it provides.
Gatsby’s car serves as an excellent example of the materialism that Fitzgerald is concerned with. He writes that it was ‘a rich cream colour, bright with nickel, swollen here and there in its monstrous length’. Once again Gatsby’s car is used as an item to entice Daisy and display his excessive wealth. When compared to today, the reader acknowledges that materialistic objects such as clothes, jewelry and especially cars are used as a springboard to show case wealth and status. Subsequently, in this respect ‘The Great Gatsby’ is very relevant as symbols of wealth such as cars are used by people in order to gain popularity, friends and similarly to Gatsby, attract a member of the opposite sex.
The 1920’s American era is often described as the ‘Roaring Twenties’ of ‘The Coolidge Prosperity’ years under a particularly prosperous period with President Calvin Coolidge. This was a post-war era where industries were booming and manufacturing goods such as cars, radios and other electrical goods was in rapid growth. Consequently the concern with money and materialism that is revealed in the novel originates from the fact that many people, particularly in the cities of New York, Chicago and Boston were prospering and becoming very wealthy. Subsequently people such as Nick who migrated east held the view that they could become rich easily. Nick comments, ‘Almost everyone I knew was in the bond business.’ This climate of rapid economic growth contrasts with today. In this century, we have a more realistic notion of what it takes for people to become wealthy and progress up the social hierarchy ladder. People are aware, in modernised countries, that in order to make a lot of money, a great deal of hard work, commitment and effort are required.
Fitzgerald conveys the ‘American Dream’ in which people like Nick and Gatsby aimed to become successful and reap the rewards that the world can offer. This is true in today’s society as people aspire to increase the quality of their lives. Fitzgerald encapsulates this dream via the green light that ‘burns’ at the end of Tom and more importantly Daisy’s house. Nick sees Gatsby ‘stretching out’ towards the green light. This metaphorically symbolises Gatsby’s dream of regaining Daisy’s heart. Fitzgerald includes a very powerful and significant sentence towards the end of the novel; ‘Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes beyond us.’ This sentence emboddies the manner in which we as humans aspire to achieve or gain something in our lives. For Gatsby it was Daisy, whilst in today’s society, this represents people working towards achieving a better life for themselves and their family.
The concern of money and materialism also reflects our image, whether it be perceived by others or ourselves. Myrtle Wilson is shown to frequently change her dress at the party at her and Tom’s apartment. Moreover during a trip to New York she buys numerous items including a dog. This show of careless and almost wasteful expenditure illustrates how despite not belonging to Tom’s social status. She acts like she does. Again the similarity in today’s society where people buy and spend more than they can afford alludes to the impression of them having an obsession with money and materialism to elevate their image, beyond what it truly is. Nick describes Myrtle as ‘sweeping into the kitchen’ like she had ‘ten chiefs awaiting her order’. This emboddies her illusion of progressing up the ladder that symbolises the social hierarchy.
In conclusion, the reader is able to draw numerous comparisons and similarities between the concern with money and materialism that was held in 1920s American society and today. However there are differences between the two eras that produce contrasting reasons for holding this concern. In particular Gatsby’s concern was to gain Daisy not to become rich.


Mark Grid Section B: Prose

Mark scheme
Section B: Prose

Essay commentaries and mark bands
Section A: Poetry
Essay 1: Thomas and Frost
+ touches on viewpoints, and c/c, direct speech = dramatic realism, tone, imagery, pathetic fallacy

+ makes an attempt to compare/contrast



  • large sections of paraphrase and assertion

  • evidence of irrelevance

  • focus on key terms is not sustained effectively

  • some points are not fully developed

  • more needed on AO2 (methods)


Band 3


Essay 2: Duffy and Lochhead
+ identifies some aspects of language/structure and form

+ offers some comments on AO3



  • the methods used by the poets could be more fully explored and explicitly identified

  • other comparisons could be made

  • tone and imagery could be considered


Band 4


Essay 3: Duffy and Lochhead
+ looks at language and imagery, tone, irony

+ makes a reasonably good attempt to compare and contrast

+ evidence of personal engagement with the verse


  • the analysis of AO2 lapses sometimes into paraphrase and description

  • could have developed comments on methods more fully.


Band 5


Essay 4: Heaney and Montague
+ communicates a good understanding of the texts

+ identifies a good range of methods and explores in a detailed and relevant way how they create meaning

+ comments well on similarities/differences between the texts.


  • could have developed comments on methods e.g Heaney’s use of religious imagery, Montague’s use of ‘pathetic fallacy’.

  • misreads tone in Montague (‘morbid’? ‘pessimistic’?).


Band 6(a)
Essay commentaries and mark bands
Section B: Prose
Essay 5: The Great Gatsby
+ some references to historical context

+ shows knowledge and understanding of the text

+ makes an attempt to link with the key issue of ‘relevance’

- more needed on 21st century context

- tendency to offer generalised comments

- some points lack proper and full development


Band 4

Essay 6: The Great Gatsby
+ shows good knowledge of the text

+ focuses quite well on the key issues.

+ makes an attempt to link with modern society and the novel’s “relevance”

- could have developed the issue of “relevance” a bit more.

- 1920s America dealt with, but ‘today’s’ society could have been examined more fully.
Band 5

Essay 7: The Great Gatsby
+ Shows knowledge and understanding

+ Makes a number of valid comments relating to historical contexts (1920’s)



+ Maintains a good focus on the key issue
- Tendency to over generalise on the issue of “relevance to today’s society”.
Band 6(a)


Essay 8: The Great Gatsby
+ Excellent knowledge, argumentation, contextual discussion.
Band 6(b)




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