GCSE English Literature AQA Essay Writing

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mysistersmells
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Hello, I was wondering if anyone can give me any tips on how to improve my English Literature essay writing skills. I've written a practice paragraph below and would love some constructive criticism on it!

How is Macbeth presented as a tyrant:

After becoming king, Shakespeare shows Macbeth’s transition to a tyrannical leader through his presentation as a tragic hero figure, encouraging thoughts of kingship and humanity. At the reversal of the play, when Macbeth orders for Banquo’s and Fleance’s assassination, not only does he exercise the qualities of a tyrant by murdering his own friend, he also reaches his peripeteia within the play. This means that from this point forwards Macbeth’s power diminishes and this is then reflected in Lady Macbeth’s increasing paranoia. Shakespeare’s use of the traits of Aristotle’s tragic hero creates a cyclical narrative for the play and reinstates a rightful king to the throne of Scotland at the play’s resolution. It completes Macbeth’s character arc through his rise and fall from power and moral righteousness. This explicitly emphasizes the idea that justice and natural order is always restored. Shakespeare could have also done this to resonate more with a Jacobian audience by hinting reference at the Gunpowder plot and implying that regicide goes against God’s will and results in punishment.

Thank you!
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CoffeeKitten
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Hi!
English is my favourite subject and I'm currently doing it as an A-level so hopefully I can help.

Your paragraph looks really good so far, and I love how you mentioned his 'peripeteia' and Aristotle. I'm not sure what you've been told, but when I was studying Macbeth we were encouraged to include quotes from the text in every paragraph in order to reach higher grades. Of course, if your teacher has said otherwise then listen to them.

The idea of a tragic hero is that they have a fatal flaw, or a 'Hamartia' (according to Aristotle, as you've said) and perhaps you could argue that this flaw is what leads to Macbeth becoming a tyrannical leader. In most places, Macbeth's flaw is considered to be ambition.

Your context is amazing, but perhaps you could reference the Great Chain of Being when talking about natural order. If you haven't learnt about that, here's a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_chain_of_being

One more thing that you could say in reference to the Gunpowder plot (although you've kind of already say this) is that Shakespeare most likely wrote Macbeth in order to please the new king, James. As a Scottish king previously, his reign in England was not welcomed (hence the Gunpowder plot) and therefore Shakespeare is demonstrating that regicide will end in punishment (as you said) in order to warn his audience and to please James. This is also probably why Shakespeare included the witches.

Overall, I think that your paragraph looks really good! I think that your vocabulary is super and the context you've included is amazing. I would just say that you may need to include quotes. I hope this helps, at least with your Macbeth (sorry, I'm seemed to have focused a bit too much on Macbeth so not all the points above would necessarily extend to all English essays). Good luck in your exams!
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emma543
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(Original post by mysistersmells)
Hello, I was wondering if anyone can give me any tips on how to improve my English Literature essay writing skills. I've written a practice paragraph below and would love some constructive criticism on it!

How is Macbeth presented as a tyrant:

After becoming king, Shakespeare shows Macbeth’s transition to a tyrannical leader through his presentation as a tragic hero figure, encouraging thoughts of kingship and humanity. At the reversal of the play, when Macbeth orders for Banquo’s and Fleance’s assassination, not only does he exercise the qualities of a tyrant by murdering his own friend, he also reaches his peripeteia within the play. This means that from this point forwards Macbeth’s power diminishes and this is then reflected in Lady Macbeth’s increasing paranoia. Shakespeare’s use of the traits of Aristotle’s tragic hero creates a cyclical narrative for the play and reinstates a rightful king to the throne of Scotland at the play’s resolution. It completes Macbeth’s character arc through his rise and fall from power and moral righteousness. This explicitly emphasizes the idea that justice and natural order is always restored. Shakespeare could have also done this to resonate more with a Jacobian audience by hinting reference at the Gunpowder plot and implying that regicide goes against God’s will and results in punishment.

Thank you!
This is great!

Here are some tips
1) Include quotes and then embed them
2) I think your AO2 is weak as all you have mentioned is 'cyclical narrative'- use more terminology and then consider why/ how this presents Macbeth as a tyrant
3) Be more tentative 'This explicitly emphasize' you don't know that Shakespeare was creating an idea of justice use words like 'could', 'might', 'may', 'suggests'

I didn't do Macbeth for my exam (I did Romeo and Juliet) but generally the answer reads well
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mysistersmells
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(Original post by emma543)
This is great!

Here are some tips
1) Include quotes and then embed them
2) I think your AO2 is weak as all you have mentioned is 'cyclical narrative'- use more terminology and then consider why/ how this presents Macbeth as a tyrant
3) Be more tentative 'This explicitly emphasize' you don't know that Shakespeare was creating an idea of justice use words like 'could', 'might', 'may', 'suggests'

I didn't do Macbeth for my exam (I did Romeo and Juliet) but generally the answer reads well
Thank you for your advice, it'll really help me
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mysistersmells
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Thank you, your feedback is really useful! The link looks great too, I'll check it out :^)
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mysistersmells
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(Original post by CoffeeKitten)
Hi!
English is my favourite subject and I'm currently doing it as an A-level so hopefully I can help.

Your paragraph looks really good so far, and I love how you mentioned his 'peripeteia' and Aristotle. I'm not sure what you've been told, but when I was studying Macbeth we were encouraged to include quotes from the text in every paragraph in order to reach higher grades. Of course, if your teacher has said otherwise then listen to them.

The idea of a tragic hero is that they have a fatal flaw, or a 'Hamartia' (according to Aristotle, as you've said) and perhaps you could argue that this flaw is what leads to Macbeth becoming a tyrannical leader. In most places, Macbeth's flaw is considered to be ambition.

Your context is amazing, but perhaps you could reference the Great Chain of Being when talking about natural order. If you haven't learnt about that, here's a link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_chain_of_being

One more thing that you could say in reference to the Gunpowder plot (although you've kind of already say this) is that Shakespeare most likely wrote Macbeth in order to please the new king, James. As a Scottish king previously, his reign in England was not welcomed (hence the Gunpowder plot) and therefore Shakespeare is demonstrating that regicide will end in punishment (as you said) in order to warn his audience and to please James. This is also probably why Shakespeare included the witches.

Overall, I think that your paragraph looks really good! I think that your vocabulary is super and the context you've included is amazing. I would just say that you may need to include quotes. I hope this helps, at least with your Macbeth (sorry, I'm seemed to have focused a bit too much on Macbeth so not all the points above would necessarily extend to all English essays). Good luck in your exams!
Thank you, your feedback is really useful! The link looks great too, I'll check it out :^)
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