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Question: How does the writer use language here to describe the effects of the weather? (from AQA GCSE English Language Specimen Paper 1, Q2)
Answer: In this extract, the writer, Daphner, presents the effects of the weather as being violent, premeditated, and extremely potent.
The violence of the weather is seen in its effects on the coach, which it 'shakes'. The verb 'shakes' seems to imply that the weather is human; the weather's personification is such that we interpret it as having been provoked. It is as if the weather has been done wrong and is on that account seeking retribution on the coach. Indeed, the verb 'shakes' is arguably auditory in its effect, which allows the reader to visualise the anger of the weather. Reinforcing this is the semantic field of confusion, comprising the verbs 'trembled', 'swayed', and 'rocking', as well as the adjective 'muffled'. This lexical field echoes the violence of the weather, which is almost dizzying in its violence.
That the weather is potent is suggested by the sibilance of 'soft spattered' mud. This sibilance implies that the weather is so omnipotent as to cause pain (indicated by the hissing sound) in an inanimate object, making the reader feel in awe - or terror - of the strength of the weather. The might of the weather is attested by the onomatopoeiac verbs 'creaked' and 'groaned'.
Finally, we can see that the weather brings about gloom to those affected by it. The horses are anthropomorphised as 'dispirited', as if they have lost their souls. This insinuates that the weather is seeking to inflict revenge on humans and the animals they use, perhaps as a punishment for their ecological destruction.