Answering 20 mark questions AQA Greek Tragedy CIV3C Watch

AmbarA
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Hi I'm studying Greek Tragedy and I'm not sure how to tackle some of the 20 mark questions.
For example how would you answer "How important is the concept of family to Oedipus the King? Support your answer by reference to the whole play."
Am I meant to write an argument saying it is very important and then a counter argument saying that the other themes such as belief in fate is more important? Please help I'm so confused!

Thank you
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BluWacky
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I hate "how important" questions for exactly this reason.

I would interpret it exactly as you have said; however, what the exam board REALLY wants is as much discussion of the concept of family as possible, which is what the mark scheme for this question focuses on. So my advice to you would be to write as much as you possibly can about family and show that it IS, indeed, important to the play - but if you definitely think something else is more important then I would think it is worth saying so if you can prove it. I think you'd be hard-pressed to say that fate is definitely more important, for instance; the fate that is Oedipus's undoing is essentially a curse upon the entire family, not just him alone, but that's just my opinion!
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christudor
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(Original post by BluWacky)
I hate "how important" questions for exactly this reason.

I would interpret it exactly as you have said; however, what the exam board REALLY wants is as much discussion of the concept of family as possible, which is what the mark scheme for this question focuses on. So my advice to you would be to write as much as you possibly can about family and show that it IS, indeed, important to the play - but if you definitely think something else is more important then I would think it is worth saying so if you can prove it. I think you'd be hard-pressed to say that fate is definitely more important, for instance; the fate that is Oedipus's undoing is essentially a curse upon the entire family, not just him alone, but that's just my opinion!
I actually disagree with this. Judging by the mark schemes and examiners' reports that exam boards publish every year, it's clear that they rarely want people to "write as much as you possibly can".

The key with 'How important...?' questions is actually coming to a conclusion that answers the question. Very few candidates will actually do this, because they're too busy writing everything they possibly can. Really, all that's needed is a couple of points about whatever theme you've been asked to talk about followed by a conclusion such as: 'To conclude, it appears that X is very important, but only to some characters', or 'Y is very important, but only for the first half of the play...'

Don't take my word for any of this, though. OP, go to the exam board that you are doing the exam on (I am guessing it's AQA) and read through the mark scheme and the examiners' reports for the 20-mark question (in fact, read the whole thing) so you can see what they are looking for and where people have gone wrong in the past.
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BluWacky
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(Original post by christudor)
The key with 'How important...?' questions is actually coming to a conclusion that answers the question. Very few candidates will actually do this, because they're too busy writing everything they possibly can. Really, all that's needed is a couple of points about whatever theme you've been asked to talk about followed by a conclusion such as: 'To conclude, it appears that X is very important, but only to some characters', or 'Y is very important, but only for the first half of the play...'
What I meant by "write as much as you possibly can" was "discuss family as much as you can". Not "just write ANYTHING DOWN! ANYTHING AT ALL!". I'm not that silly. And "a couple of points" isn't going to hack it for a twenty mark question - you've got at least 20 minutes there, you should have several points to make if you're planning sensibly.

Don't take my word for any of this, though. OP, go to the exam board that you are doing the exam on (I am guessing it's AQA) and read through the mark scheme and the examiners' reports for the 20-mark question (in fact, read the whole thing) so you can see what they are looking for and where people have gone wrong in the past.
Here's the examiner's report for this question:

Answers to Question 03 were of very variable quality: most saw the inherent contradictions in Oedipus’ Theban family, and their reflection on the values of the classical oikos structure and its relationships, but others, clinging to the quotation, made more than is really there in the text of the loving relationship with Polybus & Merope. The prologue, with the loving Oedipus empathising with his extended Theban family, was frequently treated well as was the exodos with Oedipus and the children.


And here's the mark scheme:

Here the student is being asked to deal with a key tragic theme central to this play, as others; the major manifestations here might be:
family cohesion
honour, religious or political
curses and their outcomes for the family as well as the individual
gender division
power structures, political or ‘domestic’ when the key formal roles are played by members of a family
father / son relationships
mother / son relationships
father / daughter relationships

How the themes are handled is quite as important as the choice of thematic content, and
a good answer may not use all these points, but should apply some of them in discussion of the whole play. If students propose alternative concepts these must be supported.
To get above mid Level 3 (11 marks) students must show evidence of awareness of classical values.


Excuse squiffy formatting.

Nowhere in the mark scheme or the exam report do they ask for assessment of other themes you may feel are more important.

I agree with your disagreement, essentially. I think you SHOULD be assessing other themes in the play and whether they are more important. What the question really wants to say is "Discuss the importance of family in Oedipus Tyrannus" - but that's too open ended for A level.
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Beatbox22
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This is really interesting to read - thank you very much! Looking forward to this exam Medea, Hippolytus, Oedipus and Antigone! Anybody got any questions or things they'd like to share - I'm happy to start a quiz!
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AmbarA
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(Original post by BluWacky)
I hate "how important" questions for exactly this reason.

I would interpret it exactly as you have said; however, what the exam board REALLY wants is as much discussion of the concept of family as possible, which is what the mark scheme for this question focuses on. So my advice to you would be to write as much as you possibly can about family and show that it IS, indeed, important to the play - but if you definitely think something else is more important then I would think it is worth saying so if you can prove it. I think you'd be hard-pressed to say that fate is definitely more important, for instance; the fate that is Oedipus's undoing is essentially a curse upon the entire family, not just him alone, but that's just my opinion!
Thank you so much! I spoke to my teacher about this and he said pretty much the same thing so thank you

(Original post by christudor)
I actually disagree with this. Judging by the mark schemes and examiners' reports that exam boards publish every year, it's clear that they rarely want people to "write as much as you possibly can".

The key with 'How important...?' questions is actually coming to a conclusion that answers the question. Very few candidates will actually do this, because they're too busy writing everything they possibly can. Really, all that's needed is a couple of points about whatever theme you've been asked to talk about followed by a conclusion such as: 'To conclude, it appears that X is very important, but only to some characters', or 'Y is very important, but only for the first half of the play...'

Don't take my word for any of this, though. OP, go to the exam board that you are doing the exam on (I am guessing it's AQA) and read through the mark scheme and the examiners' reports for the 20-mark question (in fact, read the whole thing) so you can see what they are looking for and where people have gone wrong in the past.
Thank you! I definitely need to try and get conclusions in


(Original post by BluWacky)
What I meant by "write as much as you possibly can" was "discuss family as much as you can". Not "just write ANYTHING DOWN! ANYTHING AT ALL!". I'm not that silly. And "a couple of points" isn't going to hack it for a twenty mark question - you've got at least 20 minutes there, you should have several points to make if you're planning sensibly.



Here's the examiner's report for this question:



And here's the mark scheme:



Excuse squiffy formatting.

Nowhere in the mark scheme or the exam report do they ask for assessment of other themes you may feel are more important.

I agree with your disagreement, essentially. I think you SHOULD be assessing other themes in the play and whether they are more important. What the question really wants to say is "Discuss the importance of family in Oedipus Tyrannus" - but that's too open ended for A level.

Thank you again! This has cleared everything up for me and I really appreciate that you posted the report and markscheme ) Great help!
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AmbarA
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(Original post by Beatbox22)
This is really interesting to read - thank you very much! Looking forward to this exam Medea, Hippolytus, Oedipus and Antigone! Anybody got any questions or things they'd like to share - I'm happy to start a quiz!
Sorry,you are looking forward to this exam?? I'm so nervous about it :'(

I hope you don't mind me asking, but when you're answering 20 mark questions do you make them very descriptive? Because I thought this technique was bad and that we had to focus on analysis... but my teacher showed us exemplars and all the answers that were more argumentative with little description got low marks when I thought that this was the best technique :s

And what goddess makes a speech at the beginning of Hippolytus and state 4 key things that she says. (quiz time yay)
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Lucilou101
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This is how the question is assessed, direct from the exam board -

Answers will be assessed using the Levels of Response descriptors. Therefore
• answers which are descriptive or make assertions with insufficient evidence will score no more than 8 marks
• answers which are mainly driven by narrative or description but include some relevant argument or
judgement will score no more than 13 marks
• only answers which have a generally argumentative framework, attempt to focus on the analytical and evaluative requirements of the question and use knowledge in a supporting role to justify the argument will score 14 or more marks
• answers which respond to the precise terms of the question with sustained analysis and/or evaluation and use a full range of well chosen detail will score 19 or 20 marks.

I've got some more stuff on how best to tackle each of the questions if you would like it?
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Beatbox22
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Dont worry you'll be fine - just re-read the books and make notes while you are doing it

Well in my practice papers we've been doing I've been getting 17+ marks - I always do the a connective followed by P.E.E chains in my essays.

For example: 'how far is the portrayal of Creon in this scene consistent with his character and behaviour in the rest of the play' (20marks) (the scene was lines 536-548)

I shall skip to my Paragraph 1 to show you how i structure it

'Initially, Creon is perceived as a tyrannical and menacing leader with purpose who portrays authority upon the people of Thebes,(POINT)...

'this is indicated through his punishment upon Antigone which is to give her a 'barbaric death'..(EVIDENCE - i probs could have gone further into detail here that she is his blood line family but he still has to look powerful amongst Thebes.. i.e Creon cannot go back on his words)...Indeed his actions towards the sentry who brings the message and Polynicies burial seems to indicate this fury much further (more EVIDENCE) He vehemently interrogates the unfortunate messenger and threatens to have him killed for not getting his story out soon enough whilst being indecisive. (even more EVIDENCE)

Clearly, this is a main indication of Creons own 'hamartia', or tragic flaw. Here he is unnecessarily cruel, as well as calculating upon the characters in Sophocles' Antigone. (POINT)

Furthermore, he one could argue that he represents the reign of tyrannical kings in the ancient world, reinforced by his statement to Haemon his own son - that he is "King" and his question that he should perhaps rule Thebes for "myself" as he states. Indeed, all these points signify flaws found within Creon, and this is supported in the speech he makes to the Chorus at lines 536 - 548) (Explain)
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Beatbox22
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(Original post by AmbarA)
Sorry,you are looking forward to this exam?? I'm so nervous about it :'(

I hope you don't mind me asking, but when you're answering 20 mark questions do you make them very descriptive? Because I thought this technique was bad and that we had to focus on analysis... but my teacher showed us exemplars and all the answers that were more argumentative with little description got low marks when I thought that this was the best technique :s

And what goddess makes a speech at the beginning of Hippolytus and state 4 key things that she says. (quiz time yay)



I hope you've seen my response above to your question

And the goddess is Aphrodite/Cypris and 1.) she states that she will cast those who show no respect to her or whom are arrogant (i.e Hippolytus)
2.) She explains how reverence from mortals is important and how receiving respect from men/mortals is honourable for the gods
3.) she explains how she will make Phaedra fall in a love frenzy with HIppolytus and that eventually she will die to make her satisfied
4.) She also explains how she will reveal to Theseus who returns from his procession what Hippolytus has done - and then will incite Theseus to use one of his wishes/prayers from Poseidon to kill his ******* son HIppolytus
5.) and finally she explains that he calls her the vilest of gods and that Artemis' favoured mortal will be destroyed within a matter of time
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AmbarA
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(Original post by Lucilou101)
This is how the question is assessed, direct from the exam board -

Answers will be assessed using the Levels of Response descriptors. Therefore
• answers which are descriptive or make assertions with insufficient evidence will score no more than 8 marks
• answers which are mainly driven by narrative or description but include some relevant argument or
judgement will score no more than 13 marks
• only answers which have a generally argumentative framework, attempt to focus on the analytical and evaluative requirements of the question and use knowledge in a supporting role to justify the argument will score 14 or more marks
• answers which respond to the precise terms of the question with sustained analysis and/or evaluation and use a full range of well chosen detail will score 19 or 20 marks.

I've got some more stuff on how best to tackle each of the questions if you would like it?
Thanks a lot!
Omg yes please that would be so helpful! Thanks :'D
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AmbarA
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(Original post by Beatbox22)
Dont worry you'll be fine - just re-read the books and make notes while you are doing it

Well in my practice papers we've been doing I've been getting 17+ marks - I always do the a connective followed by P.E.E chains in my essays.

For example: 'how far is the portrayal of Creon in this scene consistent with his character and behaviour in the rest of the play' (20marks) (the scene was lines 536-548)

I shall skip to my Paragraph 1 to show you how i structure it

'Initially, Creon is perceived as a tyrannical and menacing leader with purpose who portrays authority upon the people of Thebes,(POINT)...

'this is indicated through his punishment upon Antigone which is to give her a 'barbaric death'..(EVIDENCE - i probs could have gone further into detail here that she is his blood line family but he still has to look powerful amongst Thebes.. i.e Creon cannot go back on his words)...Indeed his actions towards the sentry who brings the message and Polynicies burial seems to indicate this fury much further (more EVIDENCE) He vehemently interrogates the unfortunate messenger and threatens to have him killed for not getting his story out soon enough whilst being indecisive. (even more EVIDENCE)

Clearly, this is a main indication of Creons own 'hamartia', or tragic flaw. Here he is unnecessarily cruel, as well as calculating upon the characters in Sophocles' Antigone. (POINT)

Furthermore, he one could argue that he represents the reign of tyrannical kings in the ancient world, reinforced by his statement to Haemon his own son - that he is "King" and his question that he should perhaps rule Thebes for "myself" as he states. Indeed, all these points signify flaws found within Creon, and this is supported in the speech he makes to the Chorus at lines 536 - 548) (Explain)
Um I can see why you're getting 17+ your example was soo good!! Thank you for that its helped alot, my answers lack so much detail in comparison. There is hope aha!
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AmbarA
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(Original post by Beatbox22)
I hope you've seen my response above to your question

And the goddess is Aphrodite/Cypris and 1.) she states that she will cast those who show no respect to her or whom are arrogant (i.e Hippolytus)
2.) She explains how reverence from mortals is important and how receiving respect from men/mortals is honourable for the gods
3.) she explains how she will make Phaedra fall in a love frenzy with HIppolytus and that eventually she will die to make her satisfied
4.) She also explains how she will reveal to Theseus who returns from his procession what Hippolytus has done - and then will incite Theseus to use one of his wishes/prayers from Poseidon to kill his ******* son HIppolytus
5.) and finally she explains that he calls her the vilest of gods and that Artemis' favoured mortal will be destroyed within a matter of time
Well done full marks!! What news does jocasta and Oedipus receive from the messenger. How do they react and why?
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Beatbox22
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(Original post by AmbarA)
Well done full marks!! What news does jocasta and Oedipus receive from the messenger. How do they react and why?
Haha thanks! Erm this is a long shot -

They receive news from Corinth that Polybus (alleged father to Oedipus ) has died - oedipus rather oddly takes this as a 'relief' as he we know he discovered that he was destined to kill his own father.. after discussion with jocasta about how 'augury and oracles' were bogus etc - therefore he is in somewhat disbelief that his 'father' has died without him having anything to do with it - and therefore jocasta reassures him after her long winded speech that he should not worry as he was here all along so he could have not killed his own father - therefore thinking Oedipus should put this whole 'curse' to bed.... (kinda waffled but oh well haha)


MY question for you! What is the Greek name for stagecraft and how does the opening scene (visually) engage the audiences attention in Hippolytus

Also AmbarA if you want to ask more questions to each other on a faster basis i wouldn't mind getting in contact etc
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Beatbox22
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(Original post by AmbarA)
Um I can see why you're getting 17+ your example was soo good!! Thank you for that its helped alot, my answers lack so much detail in comparison. There is hope aha!
Hey don't be so hard on yourself - the fact that you are on Student Room asking for help and actually doing something about it makes out what kind of person you are :blush: A hard working one it seems! :P

honestly just read the books over and over until you can get a good grasp of the themes/topics/characters..

ALSO highlight your books in different colours so you can use each colour for a different theme It really helps I got an A in my last 3 modules doing exactly that all with around 4 weeks revision (Cicero, Iliad, Aeneid)

Good luck, K x
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AmbarA
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(Original post by Beatbox22)
Haha thanks! Erm this is a long shot -

They receive news from Corinth that Polybus (alleged father to Oedipus ) has died - oedipus rather oddly takes this as a 'relief' as he we know he discovered that he was destined to kill his own father.. after discussion with jocasta about how 'augury and oracles' were bogus etc - therefore he is in somewhat disbelief that his 'father' has died without him having anything to do with it - and therefore jocasta reassures him after her long winded speech that he should not worry as he was here all along so he could have not killed his own father - therefore thinking Oedipus should put this whole 'curse' to bed.... (kinda waffled but oh well haha)


MY question for you! What is the Greek name for stagecraft and how does the opening scene (visually) engage the audiences attention in Hippolytus

Also AmbarA if you want to ask more questions to each other on a faster basis i wouldn't mind getting in contact etc
Yepp spot on aha! Ermm deus ex machina? It engages the audience's attention because Aphrodite has told the audience what will happen during the play in the course of the play and this enables the audience to focus on the psychology and behaviour of the actors rather than anticipating what will happen next.
(I think this is what you're after)

Good idea! I've sent you a pm
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Beatbox22
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(Original post by AmbarA)
Yepp spot on aha! Ermm deus ex machina? It engages the audience's attention because Aphrodite has told the audience what will happen during the play in the course of the play and this enables the audience to focus on the psychology and behaviour of the actors rather than anticipating what will happen next.
(I think this is what you're after)

Good idea! I've sent you a pm
Ahh cool. I was going for the scenery 'Opsis' (spectacle) deus ex machina is literally translated to god out of machine - which is for example the stagecraft used to portray Medea on her chariot above the house before she flees at the end of the play.

So for Hippolytus - 'the Opsis (stagecraft) is extremely important at setting the ‘scene’, in literal terms, even before the play has started. For example, in Hippolytus, Euripides places two divine statues, of Artemis and Aphrodite in front of the backdrop of the Palace of Trozen. Just by mere inspection, the audience would be stunned, as the two gods are majorly contrasting characters, which would engage many members.'

(this was from an essay I did)
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AmbarA
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(Original post by Beatbox22)
Ahh cool. I was going for the scenery 'Opsis' (spectacle) deus ex machina is literally translated to god out of machine - which is for example the stagecraft used to portray Medea on her chariot above the house before she flees at the end of the play.

So for Sophocles Hippolytus - 'the Opsis (stagecraft) is extremely important at setting the ‘scene’, in literal terms, even before the play has started. For example, in Hippolytus, Euripides places two divine statues, of Artemis and Aphrodite in front of the backdrop of the Palace of Trozen. Just by mere inspection, the audience would be stunned, as the two gods are majorly contrasting characters, which would engage many members.'

(this was from an essay I did)

  • Wow okay my teacher has not taught us that. This is quite worrying. Thank for correcting me though!

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Not sure how useful they'll be - but these are the pages from my exam booklet we're given
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