AQA Unseen Poetry Comparison: Example

In ‘The Richest Poor Man in the Valley’, Lindsay Macrae conveys contentment as a powerful feeling that can surmount life’s challenges and adversities.  For instance, Harry is described as appearing “older than he was” and having a “face…like a weather map / full of bad weather”.  This simile would suggest that Harry has been damaged and weathered to the extent that he has been physically aged and abraded – implying he has undergone great suffering and hardship.  However, due to the power of happiness and contentment, his blemishes and past travails are irrelevant, and he is able to overcome them.  For example, the metaphor “his heart was fat with sun” connotes light and ebullience, that he is fundamentally happy and content to his very core – almost bursting with excessive glee, suggesting that happiness has the power to dispel any hurdles or challenges.

Secondly, Macrae suggests that happiness is auspicious and conducive to good things.  For instance, Harry clears a “thin silver path”.  The adjective “silver” implies something shiny, precious and dazzling, which could suggest hope and a bright future.  Moreover, “silver” is a valuable element and a possible reference to money, indicating that Harry’s contented lifestyle has brought him metaphorical wealth.  This positive imagery contrasts with the “Black Mountain”, which could figuratively represent life’s struggles and hardships.  In addition, the word “path” implies ease and direction, suggesting that life is easy and carefree when one is happy, as opposed to an arduous hike.  The inference is that things are set out ahead of him and all he needs to do is “clear(ed)” a “path” that will lead him to further happiness. 

Finally, happiness and contentment are conveyed as characteristics not only important to Harry, but also to those who he knew.  To elaborate, the simile comparing “friends’ tears” to a “thousand diamonds” would suggest that Harry played a valuable part in their lives, given that “diamonds” are expensive.  Furthermore, considering “diamonds” are rare, Harry’s happiness must have been eminently special to make “diamonds” fall in their “thousand(s)”.


In both ‘Nobody’ and ‘The Richest Poor Man in the Valley’ the poets describe ideas about how to live your life.  What are the similarities and/or differences between the methods the poets use to present these ideas

In both ‘Nobody’ and ‘The Richest Poor Man in the Valley’, the poets use progressive verbs to convey a feeling of living in the moment: “living”, “steaming” and “leaving”.  Similarly, in both poems a semantic field of activity is used in order to convey the importance of exercise and outgoingness.  One example in Macrae’s poem, is of Harry clearing a “path across the Black Mountain” and in Laskey’s poem is the flinging of a “snowball” or the building of a “snowman”.

Finally, one difference is that Laskey’s poem uses the pathetic fallacy of night-time to symbolise an end to activity, but the chance to try again tomorrow; “drawing the curtains”, but Macrae uses death to convey a sense of finality and urgency to live your life in a fulfilling way.

Abstracted from here

The play ‘Inspector Calls’ is “all about selfishness”: ESSAY

In ‘An Inspector Calls’ Priestley presents selfishness as a pernicious and harmful quality, that has disastrous consequences for everyone.
One instance of selfishness is with the Birling family, who appear to live in their own “comfortable” bubble of wealth and avarice, which inhibits and warps their views of the world.  For instance, the stage directions describe the “suburban” Birling family home as “pink and intimate”.  The use of the adjective “pink” connotes ‘rose tinted spectacles’; the sense that the Birling family has a nostalgic, anachronistic and out-of-touch perception of the world, implying they are detached from the realities of modern Britain.  This feeling is further augmented when the Inspector arrives and shatters their rapacious ignorance.  The lighting changes drastically, going to “brighter and harder”.  The implication of such a change is that the Inspector is shining a light (as though in a police interrogation) on areas the Birlings had never previously seen (because of the ignorance afforded to them by their greed and selfishness).  The word “harder” connotes that the process of exposing the woes of the poor and the Birlings’ transgressions was actually physically gruelling for the family; perhaps as a result of the years of self-imposed myopia they underwent.  Moreover, the Birlings’ detachment as a result of their selfishness and wealth has led to a degree of inhumanity, with Eva Smith being described as a “wretched girl”.  The word “wretched” implies pity, not sympathy, and the word “girl” is demeaning to an adult woman who had recently died.
Certainly, throughout the play, Priestley conveys the feeling that greed, profiteering and capitalism are deeply virulent and subversive things that damage society as a whole.  For example, Birling’s obsession with “profits” and so forth lead him to dismiss Eva Smith, engendering a downward spiral which ended in her death.  The Inspector declared that “we are members of one body”.  This metaphor connotes that people need to work together to survive, as the body consists of many vital organs and systems that all work together to thrive.  The implication being that if even one component (or person) fails to work as part of a team, then the body (or society) will fail.
The calamitous consequences of a failure to work as a community and instead being selfish and acquisitive are enunciated by the Inspector, who warns of “fire and blood and anguish”.  This biblical, prophetic warning is multifaceted.  On the one hand, it urges people to work together lest there be such damage that physical injury (“blood”) damage and destruction (“fire”) and deep emotional suffering (“anguish”) take place.
But, alternatively, it paints the Inspector as an almost supernatural figure.  This is because to a 1945 audience, such desperate suffering would have been all too apparent: all of them would have endured the hellish World War 2 (1939-1945) and most of them would have suffered through World War 1 (1914-1918).  Such a prescient warning from the Inspector would have instantly aligned the audience with him and against Arthur Birling, who had previously fallen victim to dramatic irony (“Germans don’t want war”), making Birling seem pompous and tumid because of his selfish ignorance, whereas the Inspector (who embodied Priestley’s socialist ideals) appeared enlightened and popular with the audience.
Finally, the description of Arthur Birling proves his selfishness and gluttony.  For example, the adjective “portentous” is multifaceted.  One interpretation is that he is an arrogant and hubristic man who is overly self-important.  However, it could also be deduced that he is bloated and swollen; either because of gluttony and excess consumption or because he is brimming with arrogance and vanity – this comes from the adjective “portly”, meaning stout or overweight.

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When Inspector Goole stands centre stage in Act 3, it is clear that he is about to say something of great significance. The speech encapsulates Priestley’s purpose as Goole becomes the playwright’s mouthpiece and articulates his socialist vision to the audience:

“But just remember this. One Eva Smith has gone – but there are millions and millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and a chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives and what we think and say and do. We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other. And I tell you that the time will soon come when, if men will not learn that lesson, then they will be taught in fire and blood and anguish. Good night.”

J.B. Priestley, An Inspector Calls

The choice Priestley presents here is stark: either live in an equal society, or face intense suffering and destruction. Through the repetition of “millions”, Priestley seems to open up the play from the limited scope of one family’s dining room to a global concern, whilst the Biblical language suggests that this is a question with both earthly and eternal significance. The intention is to impress the audience with the importance of this message, and thus to prompt individuals to enact social change as they return to their daily lives. As Priestley wrote in 1949, “I have tried to make myself – and other people – aware of the harsh economic realities of our time”.

In order to persuade the audience, Priestley uses the age-old rhetorical strategies of ethos (credibility), logos (logic/evidence), and pathos (appeal to the emotions). By this late stage in the play, Priestley has established the Inspector’s credibility. His physical presence on stage (his “massiveness” and “solidity” suggest an immovable, powerful force), his gender, middle-class appearance, and his assertion of dominance over the Birling family all contribute to this and emphasise the appearance of respectability at a time when these qualities would be expected of a politician or spokesperson. The fact that the Inspector seems to become a god-like figure whose omniscience has enabled him to know Eva’s story only serves to add to this effect. The logic of his argument is demonstrated through the case-study of Eva’s life, and the supporting evidence comes through each character’s confession of their self-interested reasons for preying on her vulnerability.

Yet, the most potent aspect of the speech is Priestley’s evocation of pathos. The use of anaphora (“their lives…”), emotive diction (“hopes and fears”), inclusive pronouns (“we”), and the triples are designed to make the speech both more memorable and more affecting. Similarly, the joint allusion to the Biblical apocalypse and the world wars in the phrase “fire and blood and anguish” would speak to an audience just emerging from the very real horrors of the Blitz and the front lines. The short sentence “we don’t live alone” resonates due to its simplicity, and also because it is an expression of a fear that lies close to the heart of many individuals who are struggling to find their sense of purpose in a chaotic and increasingly fragmented world.

The Inspector’s abrupt departure at the end of this speech indicates that there is no room for discussion as the situation is clear-cut – the audience should now go and help others, and play their role in moving society towards a socialist ideal. However, a more nuanced reading of the final speech reveals elements which are perhaps unsettling. Despite the Inspector’s insistence that “we” are “members of one body”, he repeatedly uses the pronouns “their” to designate the working-classes. Similarly, in a broader sense the play never gives Eva (or Edna, for that matter) a voice. This indication of a paternalistic approach to supporting the working-classes is patronising and unlikely to lead to any approximation of true equality, as inherent in the use of the pronoun is the assumption of middle- and upper-class superiority. Similarly, whilst the Inspector’s use of the word “intertwined” is a direct rebuttal of Mr Birling’s dismissal of “bees in a hive” in Act 1, the fact that both men adopt a dogmatic and didactic approach is troubling. The Inspector’s assertion of linguistic power belies the collaborative approach suggested in his metaphor of the body. For me, Priestley’s failure to truly challenge these hierarchical distinctions of class and gender mean that whilst the play may make some good points about society, the conversation is far from finished.

Abstracted from here and here

Mr & Mrs Bennett: Compare and Contrast

“Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.”

Chapter 1 sets the tone for the whole novel.

It’s a perspective on marriage, of course – the very institution that both of them hold in such high esteem, despite their own poor achievement. But it serves too as a character note: the contrasting characters of Mr and Mrs Bennett. She is foolish (“mean understanding”) and he is clever and witty (“quick parts”). Yet they have stayed together for over twenty years and had five daughters. It would seem that Mrs Bennett has spent her adult life producing children and then trying to marry them off to an economic advantage. They have not grown close together, however, but have retreated into different areas of the house: the study and the sitting-room. That’s the impression given by the first chapter.

Mr Bennett is quirky, teasing his wife (and daughters) for his own amusement. He seems to just not want to be bothered with any of them (apart from Lizzie, who seems to share something of her father’s independent, witty and quirky spirit). His wife’s conversation is pitched at such an inane, gossipy level, that it is hardly surprising that he has developed the way he has. The last line indicates as much: “The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.” Mr Bennett has, according to the text: “an odd mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice.”

Jekyll & Hyde: The “Civilization” Question

Victorian ideas about Civilization and Progress
In its narrative of a respectable doctor who transforms himself into a savage murderer, Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tapped directly into the anxieties of the Victorian era. It was a time of fast technological progress and an age in which Britain was exploring the world and expanding its empire. By the end of the century, however, many people were beginning to question the ideals of
progress and civilization that had defined the era.

With the idea of one body containing both the good Dr Jekyll and evil Mr Hyde, Stevenson’s novel demonstrates the close link between civilization and savagery, good and evil. Jekyll’s attraction to the freedom from restraint that Hyde enjoys mirrors Victorian England’s secret attraction to allegedly
‘savage’ non-Western cultures, even as Europe claimed superiority over them. Even as Victorian England tried to reject these instinctual sides of life – such as violence, aggression and impulsivity – it found them secretly fascinating. Indeed, society’s repression of its darker side only increased the fascination. Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde shows this fascination in Jekyll’s interest in Mr Hyde, but his horrible end makes us questions the dangers of this interest

c) The Fear of the Primitive
In Jekyll and Hyde, Stevenson sets up a strong contrast between the primitive, savage, animalistic self and the civilized, respectable self. One way to understand ‘primitive’ is to think of a toddler or small animal, or basic human urges – greedy, selfish, not polite. The primitive self doesn’t understand social conventions or taboos (=things you shouldn’t do). It’s easily frightened, quick to fight. In adults, there are basic lusts and desires. No understanding of law. This is represented by Mr Hyde. He is the personification not just of evil, but of ‘primitive’ human urges. He is a very extreme version of something we all have inside, but which we keep hidden. In Freudian psychology, this selfish, basic part of our nature is called the Id. The Id is usually kept in balance with the other parts of our nature. We may want to be greedy, lustful, rude, etc., but we have been brought up to be polite and have self-control, and respect other people, not just ourselves. We (unlike Mr Hyde) are civilized and ‘respectable’. We care what society (other people) think of us. In Jekyll and Hyde, society and civilization are represented (‘personified’) by Lanyon and Utterson (among others).

The Victorians feared that our primitive self was always trying to break out from our self-control. This constant battle between our primitive and civilized selves causes tension. Think about how violently the respectable characters in the book always want to stamp Hyde out. They dislike him violently, and even want to kill him. This contrast shows the conflict between primitive urges and civilization.

d) Scientific Progress, Evolution and Darwinism
Before Jekyll and Hyde was written, Charles Darwin theorised that man was a form of ape, a type of animal. This was a big problem. Animals, and ‘nature’ were thought of as brutal and primitive. Also, if man were a type of animal, this raised questions about Christian beliefs. This shocked Victorians and let to a crisis of faith and identity. Stevenson shows this tension by showing how people are terrified by Hyde’s ape-like, primitive behaviour. In Hyde, Stevenson shows us the horror of the troglodytic man-as-ape in contrast to the more pleasing idea of man as god-like.
In the novel, religion and science are strong themes which are often in conflict. Jekyll’s ‘fantastic’ experiments are so shocking to the respectable, conventional Dr Lanyon that they kill him, and indeed, end up killing Jekyll. At the darkest moments of the novel there are many appeals to God, none of which seem to be answered. There is no happy ending in this book. The dark experiments of science only end in death, destruction and despair.

e) The Duality of Human Nature
Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde centres upon an idea of humanity as dual in nature. Stevenson waits until Jekyll’s letter in Chapter 10 to explore this idea of dual human nature explicitly, only after showing us all of the events of the novel, including Hyde’s crimes and Jekyll’s ultimate death. Jekyll asserts that “man is not truly one, but truly two,” and he imagines the human soul as the battleground for an “angel” and a “fiend,” each struggling for mastery. But his potion, which he hoped would separate and purify each element, succeeds only in bringing the dark side into being— Hyde emerges, but he has no angelic counterpart. Once unleashed, Hyde slowly takes over, until Jekyll ceases to exist. If man is half angel and half fiend, one wonders what happens to the “angel” at the end of the novel. Perhaps the angel gives way permanently to Jekyll’s devil. Or perhaps Jekyll is
simply mistaken: man is not “truly two” but is first and foremost the primitive creature embodied in Hyde, brought under temporary control by civilization, law, and conscience. According to this theory, the potion simply strips away the mask of civilisation, to reveal man’s essential nature. Certainly, the novel goes out of its way to paint Hyde as animalistic—he is hairy and ugly; he
conducts himself according to instinct rather than reason; Utterson describes him as a “troglodyte,” or primitive creature. Yet if Hyde were just an animal, we would not expect him to take such
delight in crime. Indeed, he seems to commit violent acts against innocents for no reason except the joy of it—something that no animal would do. He appears deliberately and happily immoral rather than amoral; he knows the moral law and basks in his breach of it. For an animalistic creature, furthermore, Hyde seems oddly at home in the urban landscape. All of these observations imply that perhaps civilization, too, has its dark side. Ultimately, while Stevenson clearly shows human nature as possessing two aspects, he leaves us to question whether we are truly both good and evil, or whether we have to pretend to be good to hide the evil lurking beneath.

f) The Importance of Reputation
For the characters in Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, preserving one’s reputation emerges as all important. The significance of this value system is evident in the way that gentlemen such as Utterson and Enfield avoid gossip at all costs; they see gossip as a great destroyer of reputation. Similarly, when Utterson suspects Jekyll first of being blackmailed and then of sheltering Hyde from the police, he does not make his suspicions known; part of being Jekyll’s good friend is a willingness to keep his secrets and not ruin his respectability. The importance of reputation in the novel also reflects the importance of appearances, which often hide a sordid underside. In many instances in the
novel, Utterson, true to his Victorian society, strongly wishes not only to preserve Jekyll’s reputation but also to preserve the appearance of order and decorum, even as he senses a vile truth lurking underneath.

Key Themes and Symbols
a) Violence Against Innocents
The text repeatedly depicts Hyde as a creature of great evil and countless vices. Although the reader learns the details of only two of Hyde’s crimes, the nature of both underlines his evil and depravity. Both involve violence directed against innocents in particular. In the first instance, the victim of Hyde’s violence is a small, female child whom he tramples; in the second instance, it is a gentle and much-beloved old man. The fact that Hyde injures a girl and ruthlessly murders a man, neither of whom has done anything to provoke his rage or to deserve death, emphasises the extreme immorality of Jekyll’s dark side when it is unleashed. Hyde’s brand of evil represents not just a lapse from good but an outright attack on it.

b) Secrecy and Silence
Repeatedly in the novel, characters fail to speak or refuse to articulate themselves. Either they seem unable to put the horrifying sights they have seen into words, such as the physical characteristics of Hyde, or they deliberately avoid certain conversations. Enfield and Utterson cut off their discussion of Hyde in the first chapter out of a distaste for gossip; Utterson refuses to share his suspicions about Jekyll throughout his investigation of his client’s situation.

Moreover, neither Jekyll in his final confession nor the third person narrator in the rest of the novel ever provides any details of Hyde’s evil behaviour and secret vices. The characters’ refusal to discuss the shocking and immoral reflects the Victorian belief in hiding sins in secret. Victorian society believed in reputation above all and preferred to repress or even deny the truth if that truth threatened to expose immorality.

c) Urban Terror
Throughout the novel, Stevenson establishes a link between the urban (city) landscape of Victorian London and the dark events surrounding Hyde. He achieves this effect through the use of nightmarish imagery, in which dark streets twist and coil, or lie draped in fog, forming a sinister landscape to conceal the crimes that take place there. Chilling visions of the city appear in
Utterson’s nightmares as well, and the text notes that: He would be aware of the great field of lamps of a nocturnal city…. The figure [of Hyde] … haunted the lawyer all night; and if at any time he dozed over, it was but to see it glide more stealthily through sleeping houses, or move the more swiftly… through wider labyrinths of lamp-lighted city, and at every street corner crush a child and leave her screaming.” In such images, Stevenson paints Hyde as an urban creature, utterly at home in the darkness of London—where countless crimes take place, the novel suggests, without anyone knowing.

d) Jekyll’s House and Laboratory
Dr Jekyll lives in an expensive home, characterised by Stevenson as having “a great air of wealth and comfort.” His laboratory is described as “a certain sinister block of building … [which] bore in every feature the marks of profound and sordid negligence.” With its decaying walls and door and air of neglect, the laboratory quite neatly symbolises the corrupt and immoral Hyde. Similarly, the respectable, wealthy-looking main house symbolises the respectable, moral Jekyll. Moreover, the connection between the buildings represents the connection between the duality they represent. The buildings are adjoined but look out on two different streets. It is not at first clear that the two doors are part of the same residence, just as we are at first unable to detect the relationship between Jekyll and Hyde.

e) Hyde’s Physical Appearance
According to the vague and indefinite remarks made by his overwhelmed observers, Hyde appears repulsively ugly and deformed, small, shrunken, and hairy. His physical ugliness and deformity symbolises his moral hideousness and warped ethics. Indeed, for a Victorian reader, the connection between such ugliness and Hyde’s wickedness might have been seen as more than
symbolic. Many people believed in the science of physiognomy, which held that one could identify a criminal by physical appearance. Additionally, Hyde’s small stature may represent the fact that, as Jekyll’s dark side, he has been repressed for years, prevented from growing and flourishing. His
hairiness may indicate that he is not so much an evil side of Jekyll as the embodiment of Jekyll’s instincts, the primitive and animalistic core beneath Jekyll’s polished exterior.

Abstracted from here

Will the real Dr Jekyll stand up?

The Victorian era was famed for its outstanding morals and social customs, and was often seen as being a period of peace and perfection for England. England’s poster city, London, was said to be the pinnacle of excellence and a place of prosperity, where people behaved within the boundaries of the highest moral standards. In London, foreigners could see how wonderful it was to be a Victorian Englishman, and experience it in all its grandeur.

Unfortunately, this perfection was a façade and often hid the reality of life in Victorian England, and failed to take account of the realities of human nature. The social code ignored and even shunned natural and essential components of people’s personalities, even if they weren’t harmful or violent. Because of this, undesirable aspects of people’s personalities became suppressed and disreputable parts of the society they lived in were hidden.

In Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), Robert Louis Stevenson uses Mr. Hyde to show that Victorian people and society are imperfect and have dualities that Victorian values deny, ultimately leading to the destruction of the repressed person or society.

During the Victorian era, the importance of being highly regarded by one’s peers stemmed from attitudes associated with the word “respectable.” To be respectable meant that one valued the ideas of sobriety, thrift, cleanliness of person, honesty, and chastity. The word spoke to the character of a person as well as to their status in the social and business world. These ideas left very little room for any form of expression of desires because people could not do recreational
things like go to a tavern or express physical attraction. Social morality was also associated with this idea, with the essence of that morality summed up in the single word ‘respectability’. The label came not only with the guarantee that a person’s peers thought highly of him or her, but also with the certainty that this was a good, honest, and moral person—labels that every upper-class person was expected to hold.

Because reputation meant so much in this time, it was important to maintain respectability and keep up appearances. As a result of this, people were reluctant to associate with someone of lower status, which consequently lowered this person’s credibility even further

In his revealing tale, Stevenson portrays Utterson as an unusual character. He is strange in his acceptance of people during, and even after, their fall from respectability. As an upper-class and respectable lawyer, he often is the “last reputable acquaintance” and “last good influence” for these people (7). His odd or extraordinary behaviour shows how people in Victorian London based their values on the idea of respectability. This trait is considered necessary to be an upstanding and moral person. Utterson’s choice to follow the values of the day strictly was not
one he forced upon other people, but because he followed the rules he was seen as
kind for his acceptance of fallen people, not disreputable.

Reputation, though, could be easily shattered by any wrongdoing that might change the perception of the person; Utterson ran considerable risk in associating with people of lower respectability. Additionally, respectable people with something to hide were sometimes blackmailed by people who knew their disreputable secrets. Often, lower-class people who knew of a reputable person’s unacceptable deeds would hold this secret against them for money or favors. These bribes were generally granted in order for the respectable person’s secrets to remain
undisclosed. The need for the appearance of social perfection often caused people to cover up the things that would not have been deemed acceptable in society. Accordingly, people would go to any length to appease someone who was blackmailing them. Covering up unpleasant aspects of society included ignoring scandalous situations, avoiding public acknowledgment of disreputable sections of London, and avoiding conversations that delved below superficial topics. For instance, an upstanding Victorian would not speak of the sexual affair their neighbour was having nor would they make a trip to a tavern public knowledge. There was a general dislike for
unpleasant topics, such as human fault or any personal subject that granted a glimpse into the undesirable parts of human nature. Arising from this dislike came the abhorrence of prying. To someone who does not wish to speak of these unacceptable topics, being asked about them would be uncomfortable and appear rude.

Mr. Enfield, Utterson’s upstanding relation, takes offence when Utterson asks about his encounter with Hyde. This event is not one that is welcomed in Victorian society because it shows a side of society that is undesirable, so Enfield is very unwilling to divulge details about it. Uncovering the details of unacceptable circumstances pointed out the flaws in another person or situation by exposing one’s flaws and making them a point of conversation; Victorian people tended to
believe that what could not be seen and was not spoken of did not exist. Therefore, Enfield’s dislike of questions shows how bad situations were simply ignored in order to maintain the façade of social perfection.

The term “moral insanity” was used to describe someone respectable who committed some unacceptable act. This insanity allowed for occasional infractions against the social code without permanent blame; moral insanity could be strategically used as a scapegoat. A respectable person could make a smooth re-entry into upper-class society after a lapse in respectable behaviour once they recovered from this mental disease—no one would question this diagnosis or speak of it after they were recovered, of course. Morally insane people were thought to have a
medical condition that prevented them from seeing the wrongness of their actions.
Therefore, upper-class Victorians occasionally had an acceptable excuse for their
behavior if some secret, immoral act became publically known. The mere existence
of this supposed disorder speaks to the ideals of the time. If one committed a small
infraction of the social code, they would no doubt wish to retain their upstanding
position in society, and moral insanity could be used to do this.
Critiquing the values of the time, Stevenson created characters in Strange
Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that have a distinct distaste for any subjects that
would involve them with the unpleasant aspects of the world, as well as creating

Utterson, who seeks out this information to contrast these other characters. Mr.
Enfield, “the well-known man about town” (8) has a particularly blunt view on
questioning strange events, stating “the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I
ask” (11). In other words, should something look like a troubled situation, Enfield
stays as far away from it as he can in order to avoid association with it. His good
reputation is something he prides himself on and he will not do anything that could
possibly damage it. Instead of finding a way to help a person who is in trouble, as
Utterson does, Enfield prefers to not even know of the circumstances. While
Utterson is curious about the odd circumstances surrounding Dr. Jekyll, Enfield
prefers to not speak of it. This contrast between Utterson and Enfield serves to
critique the idea that it is better to ignore such situations, because Utterson may
have been able to help Jekyll if he had been able to uncover the situation sooner.
Similarly, Lanyon finds himself incapable of describing the events that he witnesses
and hears of from Dr. Jekyll. Although this may be partially out of horror, he clearly
is unwilling to speak of it because he would be retelling a story of “moral turpitude,”
which is something he absolutely does not want to be associated with (47).
Because of the risks of being affiliated with a potentially scandalous situation,
it is desirable for Enfield and Lanyon to hide and ignore occurrences that don’t
conform to societal values. Ideas of social decency prevent them from becoming
involved or from exposing the situation. Their actions become barriers to the truth
and, in Lanyon’s case, delay the discovery of Dr. Jekyll’s secret. If he were willing to
tell Utterson what he had seen, Utterson would have had the ability to seek out
Jekyll immediately. Utterson would have also had the knowledge he needed to approach the situation with caution and help set it right—and possibly save Jekyll
from death. Both Enfield and Lanyon hinder the discovery of Jekyll’s situation in
order to avoid improper or difficult subjects.
In addition to covering up undesirable qualities pertaining to people, places
were often cleansed of any negative appearances. London was supposed to be the
hub of Victorian England, an upstanding place full of modern, respectable people.
High-class people were no longer able to go places that they used to go to because
standards had changed and some recreational activities encouraged behaviors that,
in the Victorian era, were off-limits; respectable men and women could not be seen
in low class areas or places like taverns and brothels because they weren’t supposed
to drink, gamble, or acknowledge sexual desires. As with any city there was an
“underworld” with which “crime [was] obviously associated,”6 which was
incompatible with fashionable London. Although these places were the grounds of
the disreputable, they were visited by the respectable upper class in secret. In an
attempt to hide these visits and to keep up appearances, Victorian people tried to
pretend these places did not exist. Due to the nature of Victorian values, once
frequented places like taverns were supposed to be “off limits to respectable
bourgeois men.”7 In order to make London seem like a perfect city, it was necessary
to ignore the disagreeable sections of London and hide the details of city crime from
bourgeois people and foreigners.
Although Victorian London was supposed to be a socially perfect place, it can
be seen in this story that there are certain places that are darkened and unfavorable.

Stevenson fashioned a depiction of London that imitates the imperfections of
humans and their dualities by connecting these unfavorable places with the more
stylish sections of the city. There are locations, such as Hyde’s apartment in SoHo,
that are “squalid” but very near to “fashionable” London (16 n. 7). Even though the
people of Victorian society would prefer for these places to be hidden, they are
nonetheless closely situated to the popular areas; therefore, the two sides of London
cannot be easily separated, nor can the bad be fully concealed from view. As with
social situations and people, anything disreputable, like crime or even simply
personal desires, is concealed to create a more perfect image. This concealment of
both situations and places allows the truly bad in society to continue because all
effort is focused on hiding it rather than changing it. Rather than acknowledge the
existence of lower-status areas and work on improving them, the Victorian
bourgeois chose to leave them alone.
The mimicry of human nature continues in the contrast between Dr. Jekyll’s
house and the lab with which it is associated. Even though the two locations are
physically connected in one building, the dual nature of the whole can be seen.
Whereas the lab is “sinister” and shows signs of extreme “negligence” (8), the
upscale house has an “air of wealth and comfort” (18). This single structure contains
two entirely separate qualities, much as a person may have two or more separate
personas. Because the physical connection between the house and the lab cannot be
seen from either side and the two differ so greatly in appearance, the lab is not
associated with the house. Additionally, the two sides of the building face different
streets, so it is easy for their association to be overlooked. The separation allows the

morally questionable science to continue because Jekyll disassociates himself from
it. The lab, and therefore the science, has become the domain of Hyde. He very rarely
enters the house itself, preferring the dark and menacing lab. Just as the lab is
largely ignored by passersby, Victorian people try to ignore Hyde’s actions and
character traits because they go against their social beliefs.
The house, quite distinct from the lab, is an embodiment of Dr. Jekyll.
Whereas the lab and Hyde repulse people, both Jekyll and his home have a feeling of
warmth that draws people in. That Jekyll spends much of his time in the seemingly
disreputable lab mimics the frequent visits of the upper class to low-class areas.
This extreme separation, though it seems to allow both sides a happy amount of
freedom, is what ultimately condemns Jekyll to lose control over his situation.
Because he becomes so far separated from Hyde, Jekyll is no longer able to control
his other half. Stevenson critiques the Victorian practice of selecting only those
qualities in people and places that are deemed respectable and repressing all others,
because it divides one person into two separate personalities.
This duality, wherein a person contains good and bad qualities, was frowned
upon in Victorian England. People expected others to adhere to the societal
standards and help contribute to social perfection; in order to keep up appearances,
many people had to hide distasteful aspects of their personalities until they
suppressed their basic human nature. Despite the façade Victorian people put on,
people are not perfect beings with only positive aspects to their personalities. The
extreme concern for preserving reputation led to deceit and concealment of people’s
personalities and unpleasant situations. Dr. Jekyll feels he cannot expose all of his

desires, and he tries at first to hide them and then to express them in the form of
Hyde. Jekyll’s contribution to what was seen as societal good (by repressing his
desires) led to more harm than it prevented in the creation of Hyde. Enfield is
simply unwilling to reveal his encounter with Mr. Hyde to Utterson, but this
unwillingness to talk about Hyde does not stop his existence or his misdeeds. Even
Utterson makes the decision to keep secret a letter from Jekyll in an attempt to “save
his credit” by not revealing his association with Hyde (41). The importance of
appearing respectable and reputable is so great that Utterson— who cares more
about his friend’s reputation than his own—wishes to keep facts about Jekyll’s
situation to himself in order to help Jekyll seem socially moral rather than use it to
understand the situation.
This dishonesty does not only effect the telling of events, though. Jekyll was
forced to conceal parts of his identity until he was able to release them through
Hyde. He hid his “pleasures” with a considerable amount of “shame” because they
would not be deemed acceptable by society (48). Dr. Jekyll is not a bad man; he
simply was forced to hide parts of himself until he had a “dramatic transformation
typical of the morally insane.”8 The suppression of his darker desires condemns
them to grow and distort into much more vile needs, eventually giving rise to Hyde.
The values imposed upon people in the Victorian era were “self-satisfying,” in that
they allowed a person to climb the social ladder and find success, but also “self-denying” in that they did not allow expression of the true self if one wanted to be accepted within the higher class.9 Dr. Jekyll’s pursuit of only one side of his personality leads to this suppression because he denies himself the release of his desires in order to become the upstanding doctor that he is. Hyde, who appears to be “violent” and “vile,” displays the qualities that exist in smaller, less extreme
amounts within Jekyll before he hides them away (28).

Since Victorian morals denied the duality of human nature, Dr. Jekyll is forced to hide his dualities. When he becomes Mr. Hyde, he essentially puts on a mask that allows him to act upon the desires that have been buried within him; Hyde becomes Jekyll’s release. Jekyll asserts that while many men use assassins as a “shelter” for their reputations, he is able to become his own assassin and fulfill his own wishes without exposing himself to ridicule (52). When he is Hyde, Jekyll can act upon the dark and unacceptable parts of himself that he must usually hide in
order to be a part of upstanding society. Because he does not have to fear for his reputation, Jekyll can express his suppressed personality as Hyde. The values of the Victorian era forced Dr. Jekyll to put on this mask in order to fully express his personality.

Jekyll felt an “inescapable sense of division” that caused him to seek out a separation of his two selves. This idea that he could physically fragment himself drives his amoral scientific actions, and creates Hyde. This separation made manifest the “ever present but submerged” second half of Henry Jekyll that he tried so desperately to hide.

In Hyde, we see a direct violation of Victorian norms that, in small amounts in one person, would be otherwise largely harmless. The concentration of Jekyll’s unacceptable desires in one separate being left him half of a man and ultimately led to his ruin, because Jekyll without Hyde is not truly Jekyll; he is a physical manifestation of one side of Jekyll, therefore Hyde is a piece of Jeykll.

This tale demonstrates that all people must live with their many selves in peace, as difficult as that may be. The Victorian values Dr. Jekyll commits himself to prevent this coexistence and forces him to attempt to suppress his own personality. He falsely believes that he can remove Hyde from himself, but without Hyde, Jekyll cannot exist. This is the reason Hyde is so feared by Victorians; he is a necessary piece of any person’s psyche, but it is the piece they try to hide. Victorian values left no acceptable outlet for the undesirable feelings that people had; Victorian people were unable to talk about personal problems or their physical attraction to another person. While it is normal for a person to have dualities within their personality, or desires or urges that are incompatible with
their position in society, having no way to release these feelings can cause them to multiply and become more extreme, just as sexual desire may become sexual violence when it is suppressed in order to fulfill social standards. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde illustrates one of the most famous and important dualities because of the clear line between the two sides of one man. Because he cannot endure the suppression, Jekyll is forced into secretive behaviors that quickly
escalate beyond his control. Appearing respectable in the Victorian era was the only way to have the good standing in society that he desired, so he chose to express only the parts of himself that were deemed acceptable. Although he may have been able to safely reveal his full personality in another place or time, living in the Victorian age forces him to lead his double life, and causes the destruction of Dr. Jekyll and the creation of Mr. Hyde.

Abstracted from,desires%2C%20such%20as%20sexual%20desires.

English Language Paper 2 Notes

Let’s glance at an example from 2020.

Here’s the link to the question paper:

and here’s the insert:

  1. 4 things about Rosie? (4)

Quickly, find at least 4 things to talk about.

Last, a structure question.

Now the big essay- the 20 mark:

Focus this part of your answer on the second part of the source, from line 24 to the
end. A student said, ‘I wasn’t at all surprised by the disappearance of the stranger child
at the end of the extract. The writer has left us in no doubt that she is just part of
Rosie’s imagination.’ To what extent do you agree?
In your response, you could:
• consider the disappearance of the stranger child
• evaluate how the writer presents the stranger child
• support your response with references to the text.
[20 marks]


Short intro
Agree – Clara seemed “unfazed” – must be her imagination as Rosie is the only one who has noticed her
Agree – fence “surely too high for a child to climb” – practically impossible for the child to get into the garden, must not be real
Agree – child is “gone” – she wouldn’t just appear and disappear if she was real – not surprised by her disappearance
and Rosie was “tired” and “overwhelmed” earlier in the extract – may be so tired that her mind is playing tricks on her
Disagree – the description of the child was in great detail – hard for Rosie to imagine something in that extreme detail – maybe is real?
Conclusion – sum up points but overall agree

Joanne Harris: Mr Fisher extract- Exam Questions

  1. Read again the first part of the source, from lines 1 to 4.
    List four things about Mr Fisher from this part of the source.
    [4 marks]

2. Look in detail at this extract, from lines 9 to 15 of the source:
Mr Fisher remembered a time – surely, not so long ago – when books were golden, when
imaginations soared, when the world was filled with stories which ran like gazelles and
pounced like tigers and exploded like rockets, illuminating minds and hearts. He had seen it
happen; had seen whole classes swept away in the fever. In those days, there were
heroes; there were dragons and dinosaurs; there were space adventurers and soldiers of
fortune and giant apes. In those days, thought Mr Fisher, we dreamed in colour, though
films were in black and white, and good always triumphed in the end.

How does the writer use language here to convey Mr Fisher’s views on
books and stories of the past?
You could include the writer’s choice of:
• words and phrases
• language features (8 marks)

3. You now need to think about the whole of the source
This text is from the beginning of a short story.
How has the writer structured the text to interest you as a reader?
You could write about:
• what the writer focuses your attention on at the beginning of the source
• how and why the writer changes this focus as the source develops
• any other structural features that interest you.
[8 marks]

4. Focus this part of your answer on the second part of the source, from line 25 to
the end.
A student said, ‘This part of the story, where Mr Fisher is marking homework,
shows Tibbet’s story is better than Mr Fisher expected, and his reaction is
To what extent do you agree?
In your response, you could:
• consider your own impressions of what Mr Fisher expected Tibbet’s
homework to be like
• evaluate how the writer conveys Mr Fisher’s reaction to what he discovers
• support your response with references to the text.
[20 marks]

Example Answer on Q2

The writer uses animal imagery whilst lamenting the profoundly positive impact books and stories have had on his life. He says the stories ‘ran like gazelles and pounced like tigers’. The writer’s use of similes, which compare stories to majestic animals, suggests that Mr Fisher views the stories as powerful and magnificent. By using verbs such as ‘ran’, ‘pounced’ and ‘exploded’, the writer personifies the books, giving them an energy which reflects the dynamic impact they have had on Mr Fisher’s life.The writer uses long sentences to convey Mr Fisher’s passion for books and stories. His use of commas and dashes add clauses and extend sentences, which creates a breathlessness when reading. This echoes the dynamic tone of gazelles who run and classes who were ‘swept away’; it mirrors how Mr Fisher’s memory is running away with him as he fondly reminisces and becomes increasingly excited about how the past was ‘filled with stories’. The writer’s repeated use of semi-colons creates an inexhaustible list of characters, plots and adventures. This, alongside the alliteration, captures Mr Fisher’s childlike excitement and enthusiasm. His passion is tangible, just like the vivid memories – he ‘dreamed in colour’ – and, as readers, this encourages us to reminisce, too. [8 marks]

“The Moment” by Margaret Atwood

The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,

is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.



The poem entails how the world owns humans, contrary to the belief of humans. Without nature, humans can’t survive. The speaker talks about how nature has more power over humans even though humans try to “own” the land beneath their feet and gain power over it. The speaker also thinks that sooner or later, nature finds a way to own humans again. The whole theme of the poem is confirmed in the last two lines where it says, “You never found us. / It was always the other way round” (Lines 17-18).


The speaker is in favor of nature ruling humans, rather than the other way around, which ties into the theme. It can be inferred that the speaker also was surrounding by nature for a lot of time. This probably resulted in her respect for the natural world. This respect is shown when the speaker says “…the trees unloose / their soft arms from around you…” (Lines 7-8). In addition to this, the speaker believes that humans shouldn’t be greedy when it comes to land because they’ll never be able to have possession of it regardless of an amount paid or a battle won. She says, “You own nothing. / You were a visitor…” (Lines 13-14), which asserts this.


The tone shifts from one stanza to the next. In the first stanza, the speaker narrates with a sense of pride and accomplishment. This is shown with positive words that have a connotation of achievement. An example of this is, “…knowing at last how you got there, / and say, I own this…” (Lines 5-6). Moving forward onto the second stanza, a tone shift occurs. The tone changes from favorable to a more negative and destructive tone. A great example of this is when it says, “…the air moves back from you like a wave / and you can’t breathe,” (Lines 11-12). Lastly, the third stanza continues to use the obstructive tone from the second stanza, which completely counteracts the tone in the first stanza. This is shown through phrases like, “You own nothing,” (Line 13) and “We never belonged to you,” (Line 16).

Literary elements

To start, imagery is present in this poem. It is found in the first stanza: “…you stand in the centre of your room, / house, half-acre, square mile, island, country…” (Lines 3-4). In addition to this, there is a lot of personification. The entire third stanza is an example of this because it represents the Earth as a person who whispers and possesses. Moving on from this, a simile can be located in the second stanza: “…the air moves back from you like a wave…” (Line 11). Finally, the last literary device in the poem is repetition. The words “you,” “us,” and “we” are repeated multiple times throughout the course of it, as well as the phrase “the moment when.” This creates reflections on past happenings, which the speaker seems to be looking back on. All of the mentioned literary devices combine to create a symbolic message of warning from the Earth to the humans merely living on it. It’s almost as if the poem is exactly what the Earth would say if it could talk.

Taken with thanks from

Jekyll & Hyde: GCSE QUESTION

Chapter 4 The Carew Murder Case.

Presently her eye wandered to the other, and she was surprised to recognise in him a certain Mr Hyde, who had once visited her master, and for whom she had conceived a dislike. He had in his hand a heavy cane, with which he was trifling; but he answered never a word, and seemed to listen with an ill-contained impatience. And then all of a sudden he broke out in a great flame of anger, stamping with his foot, brandishing the cane, and carrying on (as the maid described it) like a madman. The very old gentleman took a step back, with the air of one very much surprised and a trifle hurt; and at that Mr Hyde broke out of all bounds, and clubbed him to the earth. And next moment, with ape-like fury, he was trampling his victim under foot, and hailing down a storm of blows, under which the bones were audibly shattered and the body jumped upon the roadway. At the horror of these sights and sounds, the maid fainted.

Starting with this extract, how does Stevenson present Mr Hyde to be an evil, unforgiving criminal?

Write about:

  • how Stevenson presents Mr Hyde in this extract
  • how Stevenson presents Mr Hyde as an evil, unforgiving criminal in the novel as a whole
  • Think about the key words in the question (‘evil’, ‘unforgiving’, ‘criminal’).
  • Think about this extract – how is Hyde evil in this section? Highlight some key points.
  • Think about the entire novel.
  • (1) ‘for whom she had conceived a dislike’ – this is a key feature of descriptions of Hyde. People dislike him on sight without really knowing why, which is the effect something ‘evil’ might have on a person.
  • (2) ‘but he answered never a word’ – Hyde’s silence suggests that he is calculating and coming up with a plan. It also shows that his attack came from nowhere – there wasn’t even an argument to begin his horrific attack, it was just pure evil.
  • (3) ‘listen with an ill-contained impatience’ – this shows Hyde’s impatience at others. The fact that it is ‘ill-contained’ suggests that Hyde doesn’t even try to hide his impatience. He isn’t polite and he doesn’t want Carew to be near him.
  • (4) ”great flame of anger’ – the use of the word ‘flame’ symbolises that Hyde’s anger was indestructible and a force of nature.
  • (5) ‘stamping’ – this verb shows the viciousness of Hyde’s attack. It creates imagery in the reader’s head of a vicious, vindictive attack.
  • (6) ‘like a madman’ – the simile indicates how Hyde’s nature has suddenly changed and how his behaviour is like a violent, insane lunatic.
  • (7) ‘Hyde broke out of all bounds’ – this suggests that Hyde has broken out of the bounds of common civility and entered the realm of the evil.
  • (8) ‘clubbed’ – the verb indicates how vicious Hyde’s attack was.
  • (9) ‘with ape-like fury’ – the use of the simile shows Hyde’s animalistic inhumane behaviour.
  • (10) ‘audibly shattered’ – this is another example of onomatopoeia. From this the reader can imagine the sound of Carew’s bones breaking.

Structuring your essay:

  1. Introduction to the topic and character.
  2. The murder of Carew
  3. The trampling of the innocent girl.
  4. Mr Hyde taking over.
  5. Conclusion.

Some sample answers here