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English Lit A Level Help!


Can somebody please mark this essay (haven't attached the introduction or the conclusion) and give me some feedback?

What can I do to make this a grade A/A*?

Many thanks!

Compare the ways in which the writers of your two chosen texts present mental struggles


Both writers present their protagonists as suffering from guilt caused by circumstances which cause mental struggles. In ATSS for instance, Laila and Tariq express their love physically, a direct consequence of their sorrow upon having to leave each other. The text states that she saw ‘three drops of blood, her blood’ The repetitive noun ‘blood’ not only accentuates Laila’s increasing guilt within her that causes a mental struggle because it reflects the severity of her action but also the fact that she is aware that her parents ‘will sit on the couch later, oblivious to the sin that she has committed’. Moreover, it also foreshadows all the danger that will ensue henceforth beginning from her parents’ death due to the Taliban attack up to Mariam’s death. Later, the narrator cannot seem to stop the reader from pondering the sheer amount of guilt that Laila feels, creating sympathy for her as ‘Inside Laila a battle was being waged: guilt…shame’. The hyperbolic metaphor of a ‘battle’ not only emphasises the magnitude of her ‘guilt’ and ‘shame’ about having sex with Tariq but most likely be attributed to the severe and prudent sexual norms that surround her. But also, it is rather ironic for a modern reader as they are aware it reflects the war, a result of the Taliban’s invasion in Afghanistan that shall ensue, creating a dramatic effect. However, some could argue that Laila is feeling guilt but also she is attempting to justify the action by employing an asyndetic list of epithets ‘natural, good, beautiful, even inevitable’ to convey to the reader that the genuineness of her love for Tariq which makes it ‘natural’ rather than harsh lovemaking that of Mariam and Rasheed. Over time, this intercourse results in her being pregnant which in turn forces her to make a strategic decision to marry Rasheed even though ‘She knew what she was doing was dishonourable, disingenuous, and shameful.’ The noun ‘virtue’ is rather ironic as it implies behaviour considered morally good which Laila by marrying Rasheed doesn't show, supposed by the triplet of adjectives which emphases her inner struggle and guilt and the fact that she acknowledges that it would be ‘unfair to Mariam’ creates pathos and sympathy to the resider but it also leads them to infer that she uses him as she needs her and her baby to survive in a society where a female that was not married and pregnant would be not condoned. Laila, despite being neglected by her own mother, is aware that if she refuses, she would be put out on the street to fend for herself which in a city controlled by the Mujahideen would result in violence, shame and possibly death. Thus, this is how Hosseini presents mental struggle in ATSS.

In a similar notion, from the beginning of the novel, Tess also feels guilty about her circumstances which cause mental anguish. For instance, when Prince the horse is killed by an accident, she exclaims ‘Tis all my doing—all mine! No excuse for me—none.’ And is supported by the narrator who states: ‘Nobody blamed Tess as she blamed herself.’ The hyphens magnify the frantic tone of her voice for she is aware that this accident is going to culminate the Durbeyfields’ financial crisis which catalyses the first phase of Tess’s ruination and unfolds a chain of disastrous cause and effect reflecting Tess’s own fatalistic approach to her life seen later in the novel. This also creates pathos and sympathy for the reader as it is arguably not entirely her fault that she fell asleep being fatigued due to the duration of the journey yet she is the one that is punished which foreshadows a similar rape scene. Alternatively, to a Romantic reader, Prince is a symbol of nature, a member of the ideal pastoral life Romantics tend to critique the urban life which is shown through the death of Prince connoting rural life killed by growing industrialisation. The agricultural revolution had taken place by the time Hardy was writing henceforth he depicts his surroundings with more verisimilitudes and critiques openly the continuous process of the invasion of technologically improved in the otherwise pastoral and static rural life. The death of Prince gradually led to one catastrophe after another, for example, while confessing to Angel about Tess’s rape, critics could argue it is her own idealisation of Angel that has played a part in her abject behaviour, most would argue her inner turmoil prevents her from seeing that she doesn’t deserve the treatment she is getting from him hence her labelling of herself as his 'wretched slave’. A reader can infer through the epithet ‘wretched’ that she feels guilty as she seems to believe that she has deceived Angel and hence why she straightaway accepts what he is saying. Her mental struggle is further highlighted by the reference to the ‘slave’; not only does it magnifies her subservience to Angel so she can be with him but Hardy is also highlighting the clear unfairness of the 'ownership' that men had over their wives. Yet gradually in the pair’s dialogue, Tess seems to become more assertive when she states: ‘I am only a peasant by position, not by nature’ alluding to Tess' fundamental innocence, particularly in the eyes of nature, and suggests that society has condemned her for something which, in the natural world, is normal yet irrelevant. The fact that she is not totally blinded by her guilt evokes hope in the reader. Thus, even though Laila’s guilt is the result of her own actions, whereas Tess’s guilt is the result of unprecedented circumstances, both writers successfully evoke the notions of guilt and mental anguish within their protagonists mostly due to the wider social and economical context which castigates a woman and their actions.

In the face of adversity, Mariam and Angel both suffer from mental struggles but the dichotomy between the characters is that Mariam endures but for Angel, it creates psychological turmoil and eventually leaves. Mariam is faced with many challenges throughout the novel but, she has been prepared to deal with her plights due to Nana’s advice in chapter 3: “tahamul. Endure.” The narrator employs code-switching to accentuate Nana’s saying and foreshadows the life that Mariam will lead, one that will require her to endure a childless and abusive marriage. Using Pashto, the writer manages to connect the reader with the novel and its events to a more emotional level as they are indirectly diving into Afghan culture. Other readers may also think that the quote suggests the type of lessons that Mariam must have learned as a child from Nana. Ultimately, it is this advice that develops Mariam’s character because as she grows up, she becomes stoical enough to endure her miscarriages for example when she recalled again Nana’s advice but also the abuse she receives from Rasheed that creates mental anguish. This is evident in chapter 15 where it says "It wasn't easy tolerating {Rasheed} talking this way to her... but after four years of marriage Mariam saw clearly how much a woman could tolerate when she was afraid. And Mariam was afraid.” The pessimistic tone elicits sympathy and retains a degree of pathos from the reader as we can infer that Mariam’s skill of endurance has rendered her the ability to be stoic in the face of adversity but not proactive. The single emphatic sentence “Mariam was afraid.” And the epithet ‘afraid’ explains thus, as contextually, under the Taliban rule, violence toward wives is common and often ignored. While women were allowed to initiate divorce in Islam, in practice, they are not often allowed to follow through on the separation. If a man does not agree to divorce, the woman has to go before a court, which may, as the officer does later in the novel, send her back to her husband. This would not only result in shame and disgrace for Mariam as a woman but it also wouldn't be feasible; she has neither the financial means nor status for her to continue living after the divorce. This systemic oppression would be heavily criticised by a modern, feminist reader, but a contemporary reader would be aware that Mariam must endure Rasheed’s mistreatments even though she may suffer from terror and anguish. Additionally, in Islam polygyny is permitted though no longer widely practised so when Rasheed decides to marry Laila later in chapter 29, Mariam is horrified and jealous, a result of mental struggles to be made a second wife but she has no choice, therefore she again shows endurance to her situation, resulting into an ephemeral conflict between the two. Thus, this is how Hosseini elucidates mental struggles in the face of adversity in ATSS.

Contrary to Mariam, in the face of adversity, Angel suffers from an inner conflict and eventually abandons Tess. When Tess reveals her past to Angel, he states: ‘The woman I have been loving is not you.’ The reader can deduce that Angel feels a sort of disorientation due to his emotional shock and sympathise with this but others would perhaps argue that it is his own unchecked idealisation of Tess as a ‘visionary essence of woman, his disinclination to see her as a fully subjective individual, that has fostered the present situation. Angel’s double standards and his drastic change of attitude wouldn’t have been uncommon during his era - or even in our era. His response to Tess’s history shatters the fantasy of equality. aligns with the norms of the conventional Victorian society that condescends to women like Tess by regarding them as impure and ‘fallen’. Although Tess lost her virginity through rape, society castigates the female victim instead of the male offender. The novel’s author, Hardy, aims to uphold women’s values, especially that of Tess. Besides openly criticising the oppressive
In victorian culture, Hardy’s support for women is affirmed through his novel’s title as well as modern, feminist readers who unlike contemporary readers condemn Angel’s hypocrisy and double standards merely as she is a woman even though he has committed a very similar sin and more likely to attack him rather than Tess. However, what he says while conscious arguably differs from what he deeply and truly believes. Hardy explores the depths to which Angel has been wounded by Tess's revelation in this chapter, wherein he, sleepwalking, reveals the great psychological torment that he feels. He refers to Tess as ‘So sweet, so good, so true’ though repeatedly calls her ‘dead’. Through the asyndetic list of epithets, the readers can infer that Angel still loves the previous conception he had of Tess as well as the fact that he doesn’t deem her as ‘impure’ but rather ‘true’ which elicits hope for future reconciliation. Yet the repetitive ‘dead’ as well as the fact that he is literally carrying her to a coffin creates a sinister atmosphere and diminishes those hopes for the reader as it insinuates that Tess - or rather the idealised version of Tess he loved - has indeed died. Hence, Angel’s moral dilemma results in mental anguish but unlike Mariam, he abandons Tess simply because as a man, he does have the ability to do so, unlike Mariam who is reliant on Rasheed for security and hence doesn’t have the same abilities as Angel thus her only option would be to endure.
Use paragraphs to further divide up the essay. Otherwise this is a good essay
Reply 2
Original post by tinyperson
Use paragraphs to further divide up the essay. Otherwise this is a good essay

got it. do you think i am talking about structure effectively?
It is a good essay. I don't know which exam board you do but I do OCR so I'll use my knowledge of that to give feedback.

I think that you need to compare both texts within the same paragraph since it will help you more with the AO4 (comparison). Right now, you have just blocked the texts separately. Also, for OCR, AO3 (context) has a larger percentage than AO2 (references to texts) so make sure you have more context if you're doing OCR.

I don't know if this helps you what I noticed right now
Reply 4
I see. Thanks!!
Your AO2 is good but you just need a bit more AO3 depending on which exam board you have, if that makes sense

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