Libbysmith31
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Hello! I am currently a Year 12 student taking English Lit, Sociology and History (taking History as a degree!)
I am currently in the process of deciding on an English coursework title and book to study (we only study one book while others may do comparison between the two) In preparation, I have read around seven books, none of which really captured my eye or gave me any incentive to write an essay about them. However, I then remembered a book I read a few years ago called The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis (it is an original German book translated into English) I remember absolutely adoring its dark and sinister themes, the plot twists, the characters and the style of writing used by Michaelis. I re- read it a few weeks ago and fell equally in love once more, prompting my decision to make it my coursework prose for this essay. I have what I believe to be the perfect question: "Within The Storyteller, "the hero himself may be the villain." Employing narrative ideas, to what extent do you agree? (the quote used is from the AQA critical anthology)
I have planned this question thoroughly, and I really want to do this book as my prose piece. My only problem is that this book is completely unknown. Neither of my teachers have read it, none of my friends, and there aren't many reviews or essays on it that can be helpfully used in my own essay. I know that I could answer the question well (I can generally manage A*'s in English) but I'm worried that I would be penalised for using such a niche and unknown book (despite how amazing it is and the fact that I believe it deserves to be more well-known)
I guess my question is: should I risk it and write about something I genuinely love and could get a lot out of or should I play it safe and write about one of the other, less thrilling books I read a few weeks ago?
I would really appreciate some help here!
Kind regards, Libby x
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amyemxx
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I'm in year 13 and have done my english coursework! I got 56/60. I read on the english coursework edexcel guidance sheet that you aren't allowed to do books that have been translated!
(Original post by Libbysmith31)
Hello! I am currently a Year 12 student taking English Lit, Sociology and History (taking History as a degree!)
I am currently in the process of deciding on an English coursework title and book to study (we only study one book while others may do comparison between the two) In preparation, I have read around seven books, none of which really captured my eye or gave me any incentive to write an essay about them. However, I then remembered a book I read a few years ago called The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis (it is an original German book translated into English) I remember absolutely adoring its dark and sinister themes, the plot twists, the characters and the style of writing used by Michaelis. I re- read it a few weeks ago and fell equally in love once more, prompting my decision to make it my coursework prose for this essay. I have what I believe to be the perfect question: "Within The Storyteller, "the hero himself may be the villain." Employing narrative ideas, to what extent do you agree? (the quote used is from the AQA critical anthology)
I have planned this question thoroughly, and I really want to do this book as my prose piece. My only problem is that this book is completely unknown. Neither of my teachers have read it, none of my friends, and there aren't many reviews or essays on it that can be helpfully used in my own essay. I know that I could answer the question well (I can generally manage A*'s in English) but I'm worried that I would be penalised for using such a niche and unknown book (despite how amazing it is and the fact that I believe it deserves to be more well-known)
I guess my question is: should I risk it and write about something I genuinely love and could get a lot out of or should I play it safe and write about one of the other, less thrilling books I read a few weeks ago?
I would really appreciate some help here!
Kind regards, Libby x
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amyemxx
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here's the page where i saw that! It's from the edexcel site and their own guidance - https://qualifications.pearson.com/c...nce-update.pdf . it says that 'texts in translation' aren't allowed, and if you're saying that it is an originally German book that has been translated, then that wouldn't be allowed
(Original post by amyemxx)
I'm in year 13 and have done my english coursework! I got 56/60. I read on the english coursework edexcel guidance sheet that you aren't allowed to do books that have been translated!
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Libbysmith31
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I do AQA and their spec says that it is allowed! Don't worry x

(Original post by amyemxx)
here's the page where i saw that! It's from the edexcel site and their own guidance - https://qualifications.pearson.com/c...nce-update.pdf . it says that 'texts in translation' aren't allowed, and if you're saying that it is an originally German book that has been translated, then that wouldn't be allowed
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Laine.C
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I'm year 13 and did AQA lit for my a level. For my NEA I picked a book that neither my teachers or classmates had read and was quite modern. Even so I got an A*. My solution was to lend the book to my teachers so they could read it before I handed my coursework in.

Your marks shouldn't be hindered and it's best to write about a book that you're passionate about in order to do the best you can.

I hope this decision doesn't worry you for too long and enjoy the nea process, I personally found it to be the best part of the course! 😊
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Libbysmith31
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I would lend it to my teachers if they were interested. They are brilliant teachers, don't get me wrong, and they've helped me so much with English, but I feel that when I told them I would be doing this book, they didn't really have a care for it. One of my friends lent them his book, and apparently they only read half of it. (again, I'm not criticising them because one is the head of our year and other deputy head of school!) Anyway, I've always felt kind of wrong about doing this book as they hadn't read it and didn't understand the essay. Since writing the original post I have written a Feminist perspective Pride and Prejudice piece as a back-up. I am actually happy with it, though not as much as my other one, and will likely be using it despite how much I love the other book. Because my teachers don't always answer their emails, I sent it to a friend to check it (because she's brilliant at English! I wondered if anyone here can give me any improvements also on it? (btw I do AQA English Lit B)
Here it is:
“Austen conforms to the social acceptability of advantageous marriage within Pride and Prejudice” Using the ides of Berten and other Feminist critics, explore the validity of the statement.

Arguably, the principal theme of Austen’s timeless novel Pride and Prejudice is marriage. It permeates almost all conversation, description and conflict of the narrative whilst remaining the focal point of Austen’s storytelling, often revolving around the concept and its stereotypes, and the “focus of interest is on the heroine’s choice of marriage partner.” (Moi) Many consider the novel as a representation of these traditional conventions, which can be evidenced through the advantageous yet unhappy marriage between Mr Collins and Charlotte, the scandal of Lydia and Wickham which is solved by such a union, alongside the views of Lady Catherine concerning the concept of arranged marriage. These examples reinforce the social outlooks of the time, and so present the acceptability of such arrangements. However, though many would agree with these viewpoints, there is some debate in suggesting that Austen presented these stereotypes purposefully, and enhanced the severity of such circumstances with reason. This explanation may have been to emphasise the untraditional character of Elizabeth, who presents the juxtaposition to aforementioned characters in her head-strong opinions and actions which continue throughout the book, such as her refusal of two advantageous proposals. Therefore, sufficient argument may disagree with the statement concerning the conventional nature of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when focusing on the determined character of Elizabeth.


The unhappy union between Charlotte and Mr Collins may be the first example of an advantageous marriage within Austen’s romance. The awkward and clumsy character provided the humorous comic relief for readers and for the Bennets, who regarded him often with indifference, yet this marriage cannot, I believe, be viewed in such a way. While Elizabeth is young and free to marry whom she desires, or not marry at all as she suggests early on, Charlotte presents herself almost as a desperate case in prospects, as she is twenty-seven and unmarried. She even argued that “happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance,” further reinforcing the perceived hopelessness of her situation. After Lizzy refuses the advances and proposal of Collins, he soon turns to Charlotte as another potential bride, conveying the extensive choice of men in this society in comparison to that of women (indeed Bertens’ ideas may support this when she stated that there is a “continued social and cultural domination of males,” which may apply to the latter viewpoint.) The pair soon marry, and move under the patronage of Lady Catherine, portraying the advantageous part of this union for the newfound prospects of Charlotte. Elizabeth’s judgements are met with highly stereotypical views of the time, such as Charlotte’s desire only for a “comfortable home” and a good “situation in life,” alongside contentment in marriage, rather than true happiness. Such a union presents the trapped nature of Charlotte’s life, and many other women of the time, who had only a choice of marriage, if it could be found, or remaining a burden to her family, and socially excluded. For a woman of Charlotte’s age, the former would have been the only attractive option, despite the ridiculousness of Collins’ character. There is also a suggestion upon Lizzy’s visit to their home of their mere contentment with one another. It is shown that Charlotte tells Collins to exercise and garden on a regular basis, claiming she “encouraged” it as much as possible. The implications present here are very telling of their married life, as it suggests that they keep apart as much as possible, and live respectfully independently. Though it may be argued that Charlotte was contented in marriage, and appeared to enjoy her new life, the lack of true happiness and the ways in which the union came about do portray the stereotypes of an advantageous marriage of the time, therefore providing agreement for the statement suggesting that Austen conveyed these traditional practises in Pride and Prejudice.

Further support for the statement may be found when viewing the marriage between Lydia and Wickham. The youngest Bennet daughter is presented by Austen as a ridiculous, care-free and loud girl, her love of gossip equal to her love of flirting, and the similarities she possesses to her mother is rather telling of her behaviour throughout the narrative. After Mr Bennet regrettably consents to her stay in Brighton with the militia, Lydia leaves Longbourn in search of a husband, another, rather chilling, aspect of this society and social norms. She has seemingly been indoctrinated to believe that happiness can only come out of marriage, disallowing her the time to fully grow and mature. Soon after she has left, the Bennets discover that she has run away to marry Wickham, further portraying the expectations that have been pushed onto her from a young age. It seems that, as the youngest of five, it has been bestowed upon her to marry quickly, and to somehow mature enough for marriage, as she is the most likely to be unmarried by the time Longbourn has been taken by Mr Collins. The storyline that ensues after this event is perhaps the most telling of social norms of the time regarding such a marriage. Rather than worrying for the safety of their lost family member, indeed it takes weeks to discover where the pair are in London, the Bennets appear to care more for the reputation of their family. Mrs Bennet repeatedly comments that Mr Bennet must “make them marry,” rather than ensure the safety of their youngest and most impressionable daughter. In a letter to Longbourn, Mr Collins makes a radical comment on the whole affair, stating that “the death of your daughter would have been a blessing in comparison of this.” Though to the modern reader, it may be difficult to understand such a dramatic viewpoint within our current society, such a statement highlights the effect of a tarnished reputation in respectable circles: the Bennets would have been stained by such a scandal, likely prohibiting any future marital connections of the remaining four daughters. Though the pair are eventually wed, which saves the status of the family, their unhappiness in marriage is alluded to in the conclusion of the novel, when we are told that his “affection for her soon sunk into indifference,” providing a bleak image for their future. Therefore, further support for the statement can be found in the representation of this marriage, especially in the reactions of others to the controversy, as this union can be viewed as advantageous through the fact that it effectively saves Lydia from homelessness once her father passes away. Austen conforms to the idea that marriage is the only way for a woman of the time to advance her status or protect herself, one again conveying the “male-centred nature” of society and the lack of autonomy for a female in matrimony.

Additionally, the traditional views regarding marriage are very cleverly reinforced by Austen through the character of Lady Catherine, a powerful heiress and a relation to Mr Darcy. Nearer to the conclusion of the novel, a rumour is circulating around the upper and middle classes of the alleged engagement between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy, a marriage that would detriment the status of the latter for marrying so lowly. When Lady Catherine hears the suggestion of such a union, she arrives at Longbourn in disgust of our heroine. Whilst Elizabeth’s attitudes within this scene will be discussed later, the very clear and traditional viewpoints of Lady Catherine act as a representative viewpoint of the ideologies of the upper classes. Her clear loathing to even the suggestion of this marriage permeates the scene as she insults and outwardly judges Elizabeth for her apparent assumptions of grandeur in her assumed new life. This is perfectly conveyed through her ideas that Pemberley would be “polluted” by her presence there, likely a referral to the scandal concerning Lydia and Wickham, alongside her attempts to dissuade Elizabeth from entering such a marriage. (“you will be censured, slighted and despised by every one connected with him”) Furthermore, Austen reinforces the stereotypes of the upper classes by the arranged marriage between Mr Darcy and Miss De Bourgh, her daughter. According to Lady Catherine, the pair have been engaged since “infancy,” highlighting the lack of importance placed on love in even the richer catacombs of society. Toril Moi argues that, in literature, a marriage partner “will decide her ultimate position” in life, which applies here due to the privilege related to this arranged marriage as it will elevate both ends of the Darcy-De Bourgh family. She appears to have no regard for the cheerfulness a marriage to Elizabeth could bring her nephew, even if she may not bring much advantage or money, and instead views such a union as a disruptor to her plans, reinforcing the traditional nature of an advantageous marriage, which largely holds no concern for love. Therefore this provides even further support for the idea that Austen presents these traditional perspectives on matrimony within Pride and Prejudice.

However, though there are multiple examples of Austen conforming to traditional stereotypes regarding advantageous marriage, there is sufficient debate in stating that this was done purposefully, and not due to indoctrinated social norms of the acclaimed author. Most elements of tradition within Pride and Prejudice are actually opposed by the heroine of Elizabeth Bennet, an arguably forward-thinking, head-strong young lady within an oppressive society. For instance, her refusals to marry both Mr Collins and Mr Darcy portray an alleged “abominable sort of conceited independence” according to Miss Bingley, as both potential husbands would have provided fiscal security and an elevated status, and the former marriage would have enabled the protection of Longbourn. Lizzy provides her reasoning for refusal in a dignified, yet firm manner when declining Mr Collins, stating that “you could not make me happy, and I am convinced that I am the last woman in the world who would make you so,” alongside saying it would be “impossible” to accept him without due affection or love for him. Such abrupt, yet inoffensive, statements make this a true example of the strong will of our heroine, and immediately allow her to be vastly contrasted to the willing character of Charlotte, who was inclined to accept when she felt no other offer would come her way. Additionally, Elizabeth’s second refusal of marriage comes after Mr Darcy explains his affection for her. As readers, our “focus of interest is on the heroine’s choice of marriage partner,” so we feel inclined to believe that she will accept his hand by this point. However, Elizabeth pulls apart the offences Mr Darcy bestowed upon her, stating that she never “desired your good opinion” and that she blames him for the separation of Jane and Mr Bingley, conveying her loyalty to family over her desire for financial security and a husband (at the beginning of the narrative she states that “if I were determined to get a rich husband, or any husband...” which conveys her indifference to marriage in general) Gender conventions are also brilliantly portrayed by Austen in the latter proposal scene. Bertens claims that “a gender role...has been culturally assigned to countless generations,” so our expectations for her acceptance of Darcy are inherently instilled within us from examples of other narratives. However, Darcy is portrayed by Austen as surprised by Elizabeth’s refusal, as he is described as feeling “real security” in her acceptance, also conveying the other side to the “constructed nature” of “gender role(s)” within this society. His shock at her refusal, alongside her rational reasoning behind her answer, highlight the subversion of expectation within this scene. A final way in which it may be argued that Elizabeth serves to juxtapose her fellow characters is through her conversation with Lady Catherine, as previously mentioned. Often described as an imposing figure of society, she expects to be obliged in her wishes. However, unlike the rest of society, Elizabeth finds herself “quite equal” to her, implying her lack of intimidation. She confidently asserts that she will not hinder herself from a future marriage to Mr Darcy because Lady Catherine wishes her to, whilst also claiming that “he (Darcy) is a gentleman; I am a gentleman’s daughter; so far we are equal.” Her confidence, assertiveness and forward-thinking allow for a juxtaposition between her and Lady Catherine, alongside conveying her viewpoints on marriage. Therefore, there is, I believe, much evidence to suggest that the marriages of Charlotte and Lydia, alongside the viewpoints of Lady Catherine, serve only to elevate the untraditional views of Elizabeth within Pride and Prejudice.

To conclude, I would ultimately argue that Austen does conform to the social acceptability of advantageous marriages, but perhaps only to highlight the injustices of society through Elizabeth’s assertive nature. She portrays marriage through necessity (Charlotte and Collins) marriage through scandal (Lydia and Wickham) and the views of the upper classes in order to reinforce the subversion of these ideas within our heroine and show that challenging such norms is possible, especially for the 19th Century young woman. This is particularly covered with Lydia’s character, who rushes into marriage for fear of being insecure in life. Indeed, Austen herself once stated that a woman must wait for the “right man” to marry, rather than marry the first one that asks, reinforced by Elizabeth’s strong-will in refusing two elevating marriages for the sake of her happiness. Therefore, I would have to ultimately disagree with the statement, to a large extent, even though Austen does portray some stereotypical conventions of matrimony and gender.
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