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gcser
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Hi, I'm doing the AQA AS B course for Lit this year and am trying to get exam technique mastered early so I don't end up floundering in the exam not knowing how to structure my repsonses. One of the poetry clusters I'm doing is W.H. Auden and I was wondering if anyone could help give me an indication of what grade my essay is and what I could do better to improve? Thanks in advance! xx

How does Auden tell the story in ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’?

In ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’, the speaker sits in front of various works of art and contemplates the idea of suffering, focusing on the Old Master’s perspective of it and the eternal quality of it. The story ends with the speaker talking about the impartiality of humans towards each other’s suffering.

One of the ways in which Auden tells the story in this poem is through his use of structure; the first three lines of the first stanza each have 10 syllables, for example ‘The old Masters: how well they understood’. However, after this point, the remainder of the poem have unequal line lengths and syllables counts, perhaps showing the reader how the real world is erratic and without structure and therefore criticising the ‘old Masters’ for contemplating suffering on an unrealistic level. Auden through this use of structure effectively conveys his message: suffering can happen anywhere, at any time, as life is unpredictable. This is a highly important feature in the narrative of this story as the contrast between tradition and the realistic experience of suffering is continued throughout the poem.

Auden continues to tell the story through his use of simple, prosaic language: ‘dogs go on with their doggy life’ is an example. ‘Doggy’ can hardly be considered a sophisticated adjective, and yet Auden uses simple language such as this in order to make his points throughout the poem relatable and realistic. Perhaps the innocence and childish manner of ‘doggy’ could also be used to show how suffering can affect even the most innocent members of society. Auden’s use of prosaic language also ties into structure here, as he begins the poem with the impressive and flamboyant title ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’ and then contrasts this to ‘doggy’ to illustrate effectively to the reader that there is no disparity between the sophisticated and realistic and relatable when it comes to suffering – it is all the same.

Furthermore, Auden tells the story through characterisation in this poem. An example is when he describes the ‘ploughman’ who does not care about Icarus falling from the sky because for ‘him it was not an important failure’. This is used to show the impartiality of humanity towards each other in regards to suffering, and how the everyday member of society will not stop and care for someone else in suffering because it is not important to them. Auden tells the story to the reader here by using a relatable and believable character with commonly found characteristics in order to make the reader engage with his story. This is perhaps a less important feature of the narrative in this story as there are no prominent characters, but it is still used effectively to create empathy in the reader.

Moreover, the narrative perspective of the speaker in this poem is important in telling the story. In this poem, the speaker is hidden, making it hard for the reader to remember that they are being told the story from a point of view and that the image they see before them is from a speaker’s mind, and therefore they are limited to their perspective. For example, when discussing ‘Breughel’s Icarus’, the speaker fails to mention the sky, the place from which Icarus falls, instead referring only to the ‘splash’ when he hits the water. The onomatopoeia places emphasis on the sound when he hits the water, and is used to distract the speaker from the fact that they were not told about the place from which Icarus fell, perhaps the most important place in his story. Therefore, Auden tells the story from a hidden speaker’s point of view to impart his views onto the reader without making them aware that they are under the influence of a narrator.

Finally, Auden effectively uses setting in this poem to tell the story. There are various settings used throughout the poem, ranging from the most obvious, ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’, to 16th century Belgium with ‘ploughman’, mythical Greece with the story of ‘Breughel’s Icarus’ and finally, the speaker’s mind. This range of settings is perhaps one of the most important narrative techniques in the poem, as it places huge and yet subtle emphasis on Auden’s main message throughout the story: suffering can happen anywhere. The range of settings also show that there is no defined time period or chronology in the poem, as it is a more reflective piece, again extremely important as it emphasises a strong message in the poem: suffering is eternal.
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jadys10
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(Original post by gcser)
Hi, I'm doing the AQA AS B course for Lit this year and am trying to get exam technique mastered early so I don't end up floundering in the exam not knowing how to structure my repsonses. One of the poetry clusters I'm doing is W.H. Auden and I was wondering if anyone could help give me an indication of what grade my essay is and what I could do better to improve? Thanks in advance! xx

How does Auden tell the story in ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’?

In ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’, the speaker sits in front of various works of art and contemplates the idea of suffering, focusing on the Old Master’s perspective of it and the eternal quality of it. The story ends with the speaker talking about the impartiality of humans towards each other’s suffering.

One of the ways in which Auden tells the story in this poem is through his use of structure; the first three lines of the first stanza each have 10 syllables, for example ‘The old Masters: how well they understood’. However, after this point, the remainder of the poem have unequal line lengths and syllables counts, perhaps showing the reader how the real world is erratic and without structure and therefore criticising the ‘old Masters’ for contemplating suffering on an unrealistic level. Auden through this use of structure effectively conveys his message: suffering can happen anywhere, at any time, as life is unpredictable. This is a highly important feature in the narrative of this story as the contrast between tradition and the realistic experience of suffering is continued throughout the poem.

Auden continues to tell the story through his use of simple, prosaic language: ‘dogs go on with their doggy life’ is an example. ‘Doggy’ can hardly be considered a sophisticated adjective, and yet Auden uses simple language such as this in order to make his points throughout the poem relatable and realistic. Perhaps the innocence and childish manner of ‘doggy’ could also be used to show how suffering can affect even the most innocent members of society. Auden’s use of prosaic language also ties into structure here, as he begins the poem with the impressive and flamboyant title ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’ and then contrasts this to ‘doggy’ to illustrate effectively to the reader that there is no disparity between the sophisticated and realistic and relatable when it comes to suffering – it is all the same.

Furthermore, Auden tells the story through characterisation in this poem. An example is when he describes the ‘ploughman’ who does not care about Icarus falling from the sky because for ‘him it was not an important failure’. This is used to show the impartiality of humanity towards each other in regards to suffering, and how the everyday member of society will not stop and care for someone else in suffering because it is not important to them. Auden tells the story to the reader here by using a relatable and believable character with commonly found characteristics in order to make the reader engage with his story. This is perhaps a less important feature of the narrative in this story as there are no prominent characters, but it is still used effectively to create empathy in the reader.

Moreover, the narrative perspective of the speaker in this poem is important in telling the story. In this poem, the speaker is hidden, making it hard for the reader to remember that they are being told the story from a point of view and that the image they see before them is from a speaker’s mind, and therefore they are limited to their perspective. For example, when discussing ‘Breughel’s Icarus’, the speaker fails to mention the sky, the place from which Icarus falls, instead referring only to the ‘splash’ when he hits the water. The onomatopoeia places emphasis on the sound when he hits the water, and is used to distract the speaker from the fact that they were not told about the place from which Icarus fell, perhaps the most important place in his story. Therefore, Auden tells the story from a hidden speaker’s point of view to impart his views onto the reader without making them aware that they are under the influence of a narrator.

Finally, Auden effectively uses setting in this poem to tell the story. There are various settings used throughout the poem, ranging from the most obvious, ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’, to 16th century Belgium with ‘ploughman’, mythical Greece with the story of ‘Breughel’s Icarus’ and finally, the speaker’s mind. This range of settings is perhaps one of the most important narrative techniques in the poem, as it places huge and yet subtle emphasis on Auden’s main message throughout the story: suffering can happen anywhere. The range of settings also show that there is no defined time period or chronology in the poem, as it is a more reflective piece, again extremely important as it emphasises a strong message in the poem: suffering is eternal.
That sounds good so far, I would say it's a borderline B
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gcser
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(Original post by jadys10)
That sounds good so far, I would say it's a borderline B
Okay thanks! Is that a borderline C/B? Anything you think I could do better?
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jadys10
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(Original post by gcser)
Okay thanks! Is that a borderline C/B? Anything you think I could do better?
It's actually pretty good, I can't exactly fault it but I'm feeling there's something missing, can't really put my hand on what it is. It's really detailed and you've explained your points really well. Since english is subjective it's really hard to judge.
A friends of mine wrote very little for her whole exam yet she got a high A whereas others wrote heaps and they got a C :/
Best check with your teacher. Good luck
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gcser
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(Original post by jadys10)
It's actually pretty good, I can't exactly fault it but I'm feeling there's something missing, can't really put my hand on what it is. It's really detailed and you've explained your points really well. Since english is subjective it's really hard to judge.
A friends of mine wrote very little for her whole exam yet she got a high A whereas others wrote heaps and they got a C :/
Best check with your teacher. Good luck
Well thanks very much, I suppose that's the trouble with English really, it just depends what your examiner thinks of your answer! I appreciate the help though, thank you!
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