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    I'm doing my comparative essay coursework (AQA LITB4) on Dracula and The Monk, about how they criticise the society of their time using gothic convetions. I have so far rewritten my essay twice and my teacher thought it was not only not specific enough but also off target, her advice was unhelpful as all she said was that I didn't spend enough time on it (which really made me :mad: ). I was wandering if anyone has any tips to keep on target, what aspects do i have to cover and tick to get the marks? im not short of points please help with anything if anyone else is doing the coursework!
    My essay so far
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    Dracula and The Monk were both written at a very controversial time in society with the publishing of the books revolutionising the Gothic genre each in their own right. In The Monk there is frequent confrontation with the religious restraint on society involving numerous gory and twisted to do with the Church. Gothic fictions were perceived as pernicious because they tended to inflame the imagination, this was a critical debate concerning the potentially dangerous effect at the time that the Gothic fiction had upon vulnerable minds. The anxiety was heightened by Matthew Lewis’ The Monk, so much so that the novel was deemed blasphemous and obscene. The extent of which the novel analysed society was for the most undervalued by critics until later, when they could see the similarities it had with the history of their time. The history behind The Monk being published involves bans to the book being released because of its content and plot, that involved a high member of the Catholic religion being corrupt and the Spanish Inquisition being portrayed as beyond humane, the explicit portrayal possibly contributing to fall of the Inquisition as well as the Catholic hierarchy being exposed. Dracula criticises the hierarchy coming from aristocracy as well as the fear of a foreigner migrating to our country, threatening women, gender roles and the class system. Bram Stoker cleverly addressed these fears in Dracula through the supernatural character of the Count.The Count’s homeland was under loathing imaginations from the British, as the Romanians were seen as invading Britain through migration and taking the jobs from the native British. Dracula’s character; coming from Transylvania; is used to represent foreign turmoil coming into the streets of Britain which was of considerable anxiety from the British Empire during the 19th century. Transylvania was beset with racial strife and for this reason many of the native romanians ended up migrating into Britain looking for a safe haven and a job, while the British saw this as aggressive Romanians with violent pasts trying to populate our land. When the Count is in Transylvania it is seen as a positive, his “blood enriching the soil of his native land” telling us that his dominance of the land is healthy for the region but actually is anticipating the Count’s infiltration of the British society and his “enrichment” from the blood of his victims foreshadowing Dracula becoming the embodiment of this blood. This can be seen as an extended metaphor from Stoker of the migrants coming over in the masses, with the vampire leaching off the British and “infecting” them. His status further develops the fear the British society have, with his name and status frequently used to suggest the concerns of the time towards aristocracy as well as foreignness. His title as “The Count” of an unknown land is seen as intrusive when he comes into British society, forcing those who are not involved in the same hierarchy to call him as a superior. The status and definition that comes with “Count” in many way conforms to the gothic representations of aristocracy, whose reliance on inherited wealth allowed them to enforce influence upon a society simply because of who their relatives are. His wealth and nobility allows him to slip into British society despite the foreign strangeness as well as ferocity of his appearance emphasising why Victorians feared the noble and aristocratic man that came from an unknown land but Stoker also includes the fear from the aristocratic society, as Dracula is concerned about whether he will be “like the rest” as the modernised city of London treats you like “a stranger in a strange land…[and]men knew him not”. His character however becomes more of a threat when he enters England as the Victorian society fears and Stoker uses Dracula’s vampirism as a portrayal of the Victorian middle class fear of the foreign aristocrat on the British and their lovers. Mina Harker, a middle class women in the text who is attacked by Dracula, and the attack is represented very sexually; ‘his right arm gripped her by the back of her neck, forcing her face down on his bosom’ which is figured symbolically as an act of rape with ‘her white nightdress [being] smeared with blood’ representing her brutalized innocence and virginity. While Mina’s husband is present (Jonathan) he is completely immobilised ‘as though in a stupor’ and eventually the saving of the damsel in distress leads to the more capable, other foreign aristocrat: Van Helsing saving her. The immobility of Jonathan represents the social anxiety of the restrained middle-class man, incapable of being as rapacious and damnable as the Count nor as heroic as in the case of Van Helsing.The criticism of status in The Monk is through the corrupt influence of power, mainly through the main character; Ambrosio. Lewis first portrays him as highly regarded monk, a "Man of Holiness", who is a celebrated Orator, renowned for his devotion to the Church and its vows then quickly lets greed and lust decay all that he was known for with the slightest temptation and eventually signing a pact with the devil. Matthew Lewis creates the perfect public figure not only for the simple plot purposes of a man filled with greed to fall into the Devil’s arms but to express his views on the high orders of religion. The facade the Monk keeps is hidden from the public’s eye in the book only until the very end all the while the character does everything he can to keep his reputation of the "Man of Holiness". The theme of a corrupting influence of power is carried through the novel, with the Prioress of the nunnery punishing Agnes for being impregnated before she made her vows. Deemed “Viciously cruel in the name of virtue” due to her framing the death of Agnes and keeping her barely alive in a dungeon cell. Lewis also uses the Spanish Inquisition as an alternative to being handed to the devil as when characters were about to sin they first thought was that they didn’t want to be in prisons of the Inquisition. The repetition of religious hierarchy being evil behind the public’s eye was received with much disagreement from the Church at the time of publish but the public audience read The Monk adored it, as would such a popular but taboo opinion be. It was clearly a critique on the Church but could also be seen as Lewis creating an exposition of how the public allow this to happen in society as he portrays the public in the novel as too timid and in awe of the church right up until they can see the church on fire.In both the novels there is collapsing gender roles while the society of their time both strongly enforced the boundaries of male and female quite scrupulously. In Dracula the anxiety caused by the breakdown of traditional roles are frequently seen in the text. The female vampires feeding on children, for example, is a rather obvious rejection of maternity and provokes some of the strong expressions of horror, while Lucy’s flirty persona makes her suspect from the start, and Dracula’s visits only decrease the repression of her sensuality as she turns into a voluptuous ‘nightmare of Lucy’. Ambrosio in The Monk constantly sits on the edge of traditional gender roles as he is the innocent virgin when Matilda sexually advances onto to him, while he is near paralysed on the bed, where if he was not so lustful towards her she would have been raping him. The concept of a woman raping a man was absurd in the time it was published and Lewis was trying to imply that this was totally capable. The controversial character of Matilda was reduced by her actions all being the act of the Devil inside her, only revealed during the end as if Lewis didn’t want to have the book disregarded by the public.
    This gender ideology enforced on women was not the only sexual restraint being explored and confronted at the time of the novel. It was also a time where homosexualality was being more openly acknowledged. In Dracula, Jonathan's character can be seen with feminine passivity in the scene where he is seduced by the three female vampires. Jonathan subdues to their seduction and simply awaits the moment of penetration. There is also the threat of Dracula seducing and penetrating another male although this is not enacted within the novel. In The Monk, Ambrosio is also seen similarly to Jonathan when the priest is weak from poison and needs to be cared for and nurtured by the abbey and while he is in this state he allows Matilda to mount him and allow her to take control of him sexually.
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    Cant rea that without paragraphs. I would suggest though you write an essay plan and keep it simple and clear.

    Introduction- very brief about each novel, but then about the purpose of your essay which is criticism of society through gothic convention

    Critcism 1 what is it- whats the convention and how is it used in each book.
    Criticism 2
    Criticism 3
    Criticism 4
    Criticism 5

    Maybe 4 would be optimal. or you could do 3 where they were critcising the same and 1 where ach had a different concern not commented upon by the other.

    Conclusion- Something about alhough different novels the authors both had concerns about society and were able to reflect that wuthin their writing.
    Your essay needs structure though and keep it simple so the reader knows where its going. cant read yous without paragraphs.
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    Go back to your teacher. Learning to take criticism, and seek clarification, is all part of the education process.
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    Keep in mind 1) I'm on OCR, so it might not be exactly the same, but you've probably got the same type of criteria, and I don't know if your teacher has explained all I've said to you before - ignore me if they did! 2) I haven't read your books, so I can't really specify if your ideas are off or not.

    The thing is that my first draft was terrible, because I just went with my gut and wrote lots. It did not work out. I went back to the guidelines and found it really helped. Here are said guidelines :
    assessment objective 1 - academic language, formal wording. You've got this down, but I would suggest reading each of your sentences individually and making sure they are straightforward and clear. For that I'd suggest the classic gcse motto : PEEL. Write one sentence for each and then maybe add to that if the idea isn't put across enough. But yeah, your language is great!
    AO2 - language analysis (and not only analysing what is being said, which you do very well albeit maybe not enough, but also HOW it is being said, eg :' Sylvia Plath's use of harsh consonants and Nazi imagery in her poem Daddy helps convey her anger at the two men'. Easier for poetry, but you seem strong enough to follow through in prose as well)
    AO3 - criticism and other readings : ok so from what I see in your essay, you evoke critics but don't quote them very much. Quote them in your points, they can be super useful! It can be as simple as 'Blanche, as Camille Paglia put it, “Elia Kazan claimed [...] was Tennessee Williams”' or convey your point with hardly any work on your part eg "in Austen's own work, [idea] : for example, “[Elinor] aspires to happiness and happiness is marriage", in Elena Ferrante's words"
    AO4 - historical context : you've got that. Nuff said.

    Otherwise, it seems to me that your beginning is a bit awkward, as happens with all of us when starting an essay. Read it out loud to someone, maybe, and see what they think - it should sound formal but flow well, too.

    I hope that this was helpful! Once again though, if you knew all of this, ignore me, and I'm sorry if it sounded condescending or patronising
    If anyone sees a blatant error in what I said please go ahead and correct me.
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    (Original post by DrSocSciences)
    Go back to your teacher. Learning to take criticism, and seek clarification, is all part of the education process.
    The problem is my teacher is very unhelpful with the whole process (most likely due to how many students she has) I just was seeking further help here, thanks for the advice!
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    (Original post by 999tigger)
    Cant rea that without paragraphs. I would suggest though you write an essay plan and keep it simple and clear...
    Thank you for the reply and advice
    The formatting must have disappeared when I copied from Word, didn't realise sorry! Your advice is helpful, structure is definitely something I need to work on. Drifting off, as well as detail I think is a fault of mine and remembering to stick to criticise+compare will help a lot.
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    (Original post by tc2802)
    Keep in mind 1) I'm on OCR, so it might not be exactly the same, but you've prob...
    So helpful!! Just someone reading it and talking about it is helpful. The assessment objectives are something I've been drifting off from and yes I think I wrote what ever I wanted in this attempt rather than sticking to them. Thanks for the advice!
    Peel is something I think I might need to use along with character, voice, setting for structure, I forgot about that old abbreviation The language anylsis is the difficult part I need to find more quotes, totally agree with it being easier on a poem (I'm doing Daddy in my second coursework!) I've already started reworking the plan and structure of my essay and this will help.

    Thanks so much for your response,
    Sam
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    (Original post by sam_lionheart)
    So helpful!! Just someone reading it and talking about it is helpful. The assessment objectives are something I've been drifting off from and yes I think I wrote what ever I wanted in this attempt rather than sticking to them. Thanks for the advice!
    Peel is something I think I might need to use along with character, voice, setting for structure, I forgot about that old abbreviation The language anylsis is the difficult part I need to find more quotes, totally agree with it being easier on a poem (I'm doing Daddy in my second coursework!) I've already started reworking the plan and structure of my essay and this will help.

    Thanks so much for your response,
    Sam
    No problem! Best of luck for your coursework!
 
 
 
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