A-Level English Literature - Leave feedback on my essay.

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cheerIeader
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Hi everyone. I received paper 1 back for my real 2019 exam for AQA English Literature A on Love through the ages, Othello. I received 5/25 marks and I'm devastated. I was wondering if you could read my essay and offer feedback.


The Q was alone the lines of -

Using this extract and other parts of the play to explore the extent in which Brabantio's role as Desdemona's father and Roderigo's role as her suitor drives possessiveness, jealousy and pride.

'Othello' is a Greek tragedy written by William Shakespeare which revolves around traditional themes of patriarchy, love and jealousy. Brabantio's role as Desdemona's father and Roderigo's as her suitor drives possessiveness, jealousy and pride which is instigated by the Machiavel Iago throughout the play.

Renaissance society was characterised by patriarchal values which saw women as commodities and accessories to exhibit, evident through Iago's crude and misogynistic language 'Your daughter and your bags! Thieves, thieves! which evokes imagery of women being mere possessions. Shakespeare has characterised Brabantio as an archetypal father figure whom uses power, force and supposition to control Desdemona and confine her to the private sphere of the household and dictate her life choices through defining her marriage as 'evil.'

Iago is the perpetrator whose speech is full of colloquialisms and oaths and attempts to exert control over the characters in the play; driving the death of Desdemona and the tragic protagonist. Albeit, Roderigo has been dismissed by Desdemona as a lover, the 'inhuman dog' Iago pervades Roderigo to continue to pursue her and reveal her marriage with the 'valiant Moor' Othello, to he father. Brabantio describes Desdemona's 'youth and maidhood' as 'abused' which manifests the attitude that Renaissance society held of black men as cunning, sexual predators. Therefore, Roderigo is a mere mechanism in Iago's plot to overthrow Michael Cassio and conceal Iago's Machiavel nature as a result of his own jealousy.

However, Marilyn French argues that while Desdemona has some assertiveness and attempts to subvert male authority through her dignified iodim 'Let me go with him', she fails to overcome the patriarchal nature of society and thus the 'unhappy girl' is murdered. In my opinion, Brabantio's 'love' for Desdemona is fabricated and superficial as her upbringing leads to her submissive nature and silenced voice which accepts 'I am submissive.' In addition, Roderigo who describes Desdemona as possessing 'beauty, wit and fortunes' allows Iago to plot against the 'lascivious Moor' which evokes animalistic imagery and a dehumanizing correspondence between the devil and othello, expressing the jealousy of Roderigo in poisoning Othello's mind to obtain Desdemona.

Shakespeare uses Brabantio's character to build dramatic irony and express 'thou art a villain' to Iago which in reality, is an authentic depiction of Iago. It is questionable whether Brabantio has failed his role as a father, as the handkerchief which the 'villainous whore' Emilia distributes to Iago has woven strawberries which symbolise the blood spillage of Desdemona; foreshadowing her death and the failure of Brabantio in protecting his daughter rather than attempting to possess her.

Roderigo's jealousy may delineate with the role of Othello as a General, characterised within the first act as 'far more fair than black.' Shakekspeare hones in on the concept of hubris and the 'fine tuned' marriage between Othello and Desdemona which is a recipie for disaster. A.C Bradley depicts Othello as Shakespeare's most 'poetic hero' whose iodim is a dignified blank verse and is moulded with characteristics of bravery, intelligence and charisma; driving the jealousy and possessiveness which both Brabantio and Roderigo endure.

Walles suggests that Iago is the key destructive character who is able to manipulate and isolate the characters from one another for his own personal gain; this ironic persona 'I am not what I am' allows the reader to question image and reality and discover Iago's overarching possessiveness, jealousy and pride whose 'love' for Desdemona is used as a connotation as his 'diet for revenge.' As a result, Brabantio and Roderigo may similarly possess a superficial love for Desdemona through Brabantio's direct remark at the Renaissance audience, 'Fathers, from hence trust not your daughters' minds' creating an exposition of his own jealousy over the Moor.

To conclude, Roderigo and Brabantio are both explored by Shakespeare as misogynistic, and failing to conform to the typicality of love being based upon agape and intrinsic goodness leading to Desdemona's downfall, yet it may be posited that Brabantio was simply protecting his daughter from the 'old black ram' which concludes the play with poetic justice and the once 'noble' Moor murdering himself and Desdemona who 'die upon a kiss.'
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Gurdeepthelegend
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Whoever marked that needs to be sacked asap
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by Gurdeepthelegend)
Whoever marked that needs to be sacked asap
Thanks ;( but I failed & need to be able to improve on my resit or no Uni will let me in ever.
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username4961772
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(Original post by cheerIeader)
Thanks ;( but I failed & need to be able to improve on my resit or no Uni will let me in ever.
I seriously now doubt that you failed at all.
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by Sinful Delight)
I seriously now doubt that you failed at all.
I actually got a D overall in English. a U grade on paper 1, a B in paper 2 and a B in coursework dragging me down to a D.

I did terribly on paper 1 across all three questions and I'm not sure why really? I'd appreciate some feedback. Whereas on paper 2 I did decently on every question which makes no sense to me at all. I'm currently on a gap year resitting English alone because I got an A and B grade in my other subjects.

Feedback would be appreciated. Really worried and scared of failing again.
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username4961772
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(Original post by cheerIeader)
I actually got a D overall in English. a U grade on paper 1, a B in paper 2 and a B in coursework dragging me down to a D.

I did terribly on paper 1 across all three questions and I'm not sure why really? I'd appreciate some feedback. Whereas on paper 2 I did decently on every question which makes no sense to me at all. I'm currently on a gap year resitting English alone because I got an A and B grade in my other subjects.

Feedback would be appreciated. Really worried and scared of failing again.
I hope I am not wasting my time on a troll, but I will give you suggestions that helped me with my English Lit revision. [I won't give feedback because I am not an examiner and I did 'Hamlet']

- Go to the OCR (is that your exam board?) website and print out all the exemplar answers you can find, with commentary. Print them out and analyse, learn what the examiner wants and deliver. I can send you the essay structure my teachers told me to follow if you want. And I might have a few modal answers.

- Also if you are only doing one subject this year, would it not be worth asking if you can re-submit the coursework? Why not re-do it and get an A*? I don't know if you can do that...can you?
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by Sinful Delight)
I hope I am not wasting my time on a troll, but I will give you suggestions that helped me with my English Lit revision. [I won't give feedback because I am not an examiner and I did 'Hamlet']

- Go to the OCR (is that your exam board?) website and print out all the exemplar answers you can find, with commentary. Print them out and analyse, learn what the examiner wants and deliver. I can send you the essay structure my teachers told me to follow if you want. And I might have a few modal answers.

- Also if you are only doing one subject this year, would it not be worth it asking if you can re-submit the coursework? Why not re-do it and get an A*? I don't know if you can do that...can you?
Hi. I'm not trolling, I do the AQA exam board. My teacher said I am able to resubmit the coursework but obviously he's prioritising his year 13 and said he'd be able to remark my new draft over half term and offer feedback so hopefully I can get it up to an A/A*.

Also I appreciate your advice. I did read the exemplar essays but I guess during the first paper I just completely blanked and began using random ideas/anything I could think of and almost forcing it into the question without focusing on the question itself. I feel really down after actually reading the paper though, it gets worse. Also I'd really appreciate if you could send me the essay structure and answers please. What grade did you get if you don't mind me asking?
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username4961772
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(Original post by cheerIeader)
Hi. I'm not trolling, I do the AQA exam board. My teacher said I am able to resubmit the coursework but obviously he's prioritising his year 13 and said he'd be able to remark my new draft over half term and offer feedback so hopefully I can get it up to an A/A*.

Also I appreciate your advice. I did read the exemplar essays but I guess during the first paper I just completely blanked and began using random ideas/anything I could think of and almost forcing it into the question without focusing on the question itself. I feel really down after actually reading the paper though, it gets worse.

That is good news then!

Seriously, is this essay that you posted the one you got the 5/25 in?
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by Sinful Delight)
That is good news then!

Seriously, is this essay that you posted the one you got the 5/25 in?
Yep. The feedback which was offered is 'Does not engage extract and task. Much is irrelevant and comprises off-loading of poorly assimilated ideas.'
I know I did not use the extract at all and had only little information about the two minor characters, however on question 2 and 3 I thought I had did decently but my mark on those was just as poor.
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artful_lounger
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I'll come back to this in a little bit, but some initial observations:

The question specifically states to use the extract and the text. If you haven't used both you have failed to properly answer the question. The introduction is rather weak, to the point that you could've not included it and it wouldn't really affect the essay.

Also there is some questionable grammar/use of certain words in ways that don't make sense (albeit, pervades, delineate) - it feels like you were trying to use this to make it sound "fancier" than it is but don't understand the words you were using? This somewhat detracts from the overall impression of the essay

A serious issue that I can see is a general lack of use of textual evidence (i.e. quotes). You in several places comment about how "Shakspeare does this or that" but you haven't actually provided evidence to how that he has in fact done what you asserted! Using the text is crucial for English lit - you should have textual support for pretty much anything you say, but especially if you're asserting the author of the text has done something.
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
I'll come back to this in a little bit, but some initial observations:

The question specifically states to use the extract and the text. If you haven't used both you have failed to properly answer the question. The introduction is rather weak, to the point that you could've not included it and it wouldn't really affect the essay.

Also there is some questionable grammar/use of certain words in ways that don't make sense (albeit, pervades, delineate) - it feels like you were trying to use this to make it sound "fancier" than it is but don't understand the words you were using? This somewhat detracts from the overall impression of the essay

A serious issue that I can see is a general lack of use of textual evidence (i.e. quotes). You in several places comment about how "Shakspeare does this or that" but you haven't actually provided evidence to how that he has in fact done what you asserted! Using the text is crucial for English lit - you should have textual support for pretty much anything you say, but especially if you're asserting the author of the text has done something.
Thank you for your response.

I wasn't trying to go for fancy words or use them out of context, I think I was just under so much stress some of them were literally just used randomly, I was meant to use persuade instead of pervade and I have no idea where the others came from to be honest. I understand that the extract was meant to be used, I think it contributed heavily to the failure of answering the question. Also, not to make excuses (because the other two questions on this paper were answered just as badly) but I genuinely lacked quotes for these characters which fired back on my assumption the characters would not come up on a question.

I'd appreciate it if you could please give me any other feedback to improve my answer and maybe even observe my other two questions? I did much better on paper 2 (which I currently do not have back yet), I think overall this question threw me off answering question two and three but still not completely sure. But thanks again for that feedback. x
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I AM GROOT 1
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I notice straight away you lack AO2 language analysis and the essay is dictated by context. You haven't really addressed the question or discussed the extract in depth. Your answer is not focused and sways off topic. Some of the points you have mentioned are great but you haven't effectively linked them to the question.

Please don't constantly bump the thread you have had responses
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by I AM GROOT 1)
I notice straight away you lack AO2 language analysis and the essay is dictated by context. You haven't really addressed the question or discussed the extract in depth. Your answer is not focused and sways off topic. Some of the points you have mentioned are great but you haven't effectively linked them to the question.

Please don't constantly bump the thread you have had responses
Would you say language is very prominent in a Literature essay? But I appreciate your advice thank you. xx
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TheOnlyIzzy
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I think 5/25 is a bit ridiculous, your essay isn't A* material but it is definitely not 5/25.

Pointers I would say :

- you need to elaborate on your points. Great for putting in quotes but you need to elaborate more, with more evidence than just a single quote.

- a lot of what you are saying is very basic, try thinking deeper about it.

- for my alevel (OCR) a large part of the mark (50%) was context and how the literature relates to the time period it was written in. I dont know if this is the same for AQA but if so then thats where you will have lost most of those marks. I had a brief look at your mark scheme and it mentions that is a big part of the course.
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I AM GROOT 1
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(Original post by cheerIeader)
Would you say language is very prominent in a Literature essay? But I appreciate your advice thank you. xx
yes the question is about analysis so i would aim to include 1 language feature in each paragraph. Try linking the extract to other parts of the play to prove your point.

what was the extract again? which scene?
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by I AM GROOT 1)
yes the question is about analysis so i would aim to include 1 language feature in each paragraph. Try linking the extract to other parts of the play to prove your point.

what was the extract again? which scene?
It was in Act 1 Scene 1 towards the end where Iago and Roderigo are informing Brabantio about Desdemona's relationship with Othello and where Brabantio eventually leaves and Roderigo discusses the plan with Iago.

And that's great advice, thank you. I guess I was mostly disheartened because I didn't expect a mark so low.
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by TheOnlyIzzy)
I think 5/25 is a bit ridiculous, your essay isn't A* material but it is definitely not 5/25.

Pointers I would say :

- you need to elaborate on your points. Great for putting in quotes but you need to elaborate more, with more evidence than just a single quote.

- a lot of what you are saying is very basic, try thinking deeper about it.

- for my alevel (OCR) a large part of the mark (50%) was context and how the literature relates to the time period it was written in. I dont know if this is the same for AQA but if so then thats where you will have lost most of those marks. I had a brief look at your mark scheme and it mentions that is a big part of the course.
I agree with this, I was so disheartened by the mark itself because I know I did work hard overall (except for missing out the small characters, the mistake on my part I guess).

You're right. I think I definitely had this idea of forcing every single thing into my answer but it may have been better to write more detailed points instead of writing about so much. And yes, I think AQA does emphasise context but also about the theme itself which in my case is 'Love through the ages.' I feel with every point I could have linked it not only to the question but maybe to the concept of love and whether it conforms to the genre or not? Thank you for the advice, I appreciate it so much. Was a bit lost about where I went wrong to be honest.
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TheOnlyIzzy
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(Original post by cheerIeader)
I agree with this, I was so disheartened by the mark itself because I know I did work hard overall (except for missing out the small characters, the mistake on my part I guess).

You're right. I think I definitely had this idea of forcing every single thing into my answer but it may have been better to write more detailed points instead of writing about so much. And yes, I think AQA does emphasise context but also about the theme itself which in my case is 'Love through the ages.' I feel with every point I could have linked it not only to the question but maybe to the concept of love and whether it conforms to the genre or not? Thank you for the advice, I appreciate it so much. Was a bit lost about where I went wrong to be honest.
not at all, im happy to help.

Yes remember its quality not quantity. Try be more selective with what you include, but make sure then that its really well elaborated and proven through quotes.

'love through the ages' has a lot of potential. You could talk about traditional gender roles and love roles, and then the different ways this story fits and doesn't fit into that.

Finally, to get the A* at OCR a-level you have to put in lots of very specific context points. Like dates, facts and figures, to show 'solid knowledge of the time period'. So maybe rather than just saying it was patriarchal maybe say "women gained legal independence in ____, however this movement was already underlying much of rainnessance society even before. Yet, in the upper echelon of society, traditional roles were still very prominent"
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cheerIeader
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(Original post by TheOnlyIzzy)
not at all, im happy to help.

Yes remember its quality not quantity. Try be more selective with what you include, but make sure then that its really well elaborated and proven through quotes.

'love through the ages' has a lot of potential. You could talk about traditional gender roles and love roles, and then the different ways this story fits and doesn't fit into that.

Finally, to get the A* at OCR a-level you have to put in lots of very specific context points. Like dates, facts and figures, to show 'solid knowledge of the time period'. So maybe rather than just saying it was patriarchal maybe say "women gained legal independence in ____, however this movement was already underlying much of rainnessance society even before. Yet, in the upper echelon of society, traditional roles were still very prominent"
Thank you, this was so helpful. xx

I think memorising some dates and making points in relation to the topic itself would help me get much more marks.
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Perhaps Davy611 can offer their thoughts. :rambo:
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