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English A-Level Poetry Comparision Points

I have always struggled with poetry comparison and it's definitely my weakness in English Literature. The main thing I struggle with is making points for a question?? What I mean is finding things to base my paragraphs on? It's easier in plays and things when I can just go by character or something but I don't know what to do in poetry.
Say I was doing three paragraphs:
Do I separate the paragraphs into Themes/Structure/Language like I did in GCSE or into individual themes??
For Example, if the main theme I had to compare the poems on was Memories would I have points like
Love of the Past/Forgetting/Importance of Memory (As a quick example I just came up with) and mention structure etc. in those paragraphs as they relate to the theme or would I have paragraphs like Imagery/Structure/etc. like the GCSE structure??
Or another example I have is the theme of Violence I would split it up into (Based on the content of the poems obvi)
Fear and Empathy/Gore/Structure as like a combination of both methods
This has always been what I've just struggled with and causes me to create really messy plans with not strong points so help would be hugely appreciated. <3
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 1
Original post by eleanorstudying9
I have always struggled with poetry comparison and it's definitely my weakness in English Literature. The main thing I struggle with is making points for a question?? What I mean is finding things to base my paragraphs on? It's easier in plays and things when I can just go by character or something but I don't know what to do in poetry.
Say I was doing three paragraphs:
Do I separate the paragraphs into Themes/Structure/Language like I did in GCSE or into individual themes??
For Example, if the main theme I had to compare the poems on was Memories would I have points like
Love of the Past/Forgetting/Importance of Memory (As a quick example I just came up with) and mention structure etc. in those paragraphs as they relate to the theme or would I have paragraphs like Imagery/Structure/etc. like the GCSE structure??
Or another example I have is the theme of Violence I would split it up into (Based on the content of the poems obvi)
Fear and Empathy/Gore/Structure as like a combination of both methods
This has always been what I've just struggled with and causes me to create really messy plans with not strong points so help would be hugely appreciated. <3


I would say focus each paragraph on a theme, or a way that this specific idea/ thesis (your answer to the question) can be illustrated in the text. From there, each paragraph will include discussion of literary devices and how they are used to create this specific idea. In my last MOCK comparison (this was comparing prose and drama, but still relevant) this is what I did:

Question: Referring to two of the works you have studied, discuss both how and why the text invites the reader to identify with situations, characters, and/or ideas.

I chose The Handmaid's Tale and A Streetcar Named Desire. Here's a shortened version of my introduction and thesis:
'Both Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and William's A Streetcar Named Desire center on seemingly improbable, farfetched, and/or unrelatable circumstances. The Handmaid's Tale is set in a regressively natalist fundamentalist America... While A Streetcar Named Desire might be more grounded in the reality of 1940s New Orleans, the flighty character of Blanche and the grandiose staging of her psychological breakdown... Despite these, both texts are successful in moving readers to identify with and relate to the plot themes and characters. In doing so,(here I'm answering why) Atwood and Williams present their central themes of suffering, the desire for control, and liberty as common to all and highlight the universality of the human experience. The texts accomplish this in three ways: (here I'm answering how) through the deliberate subversion of the conventions of genre, their presentation of hierarchies & authority, and the use of specific, 'zoomed-in' perspective.

From here I will use each 'how' to write a paragraph, making sure to link it to my 'why'. My paragraphs are too long to type, even as an abridged version, so here's a brief summary of my first one:

Link to thesis: By their careful exploitation and subversion of reader's expectations of characters and events set forth by the constraints of the genre, Atwood and Williams are able to 'trick' readers into identifying with characters and situations.

Thesis of this paragraph in first text: Discussed the semantic field of death, visual imagery, literary allusions, conventions of gothic and Southern gothic literature, the archetype of the Southern Belle, the personification of the South in the Dubois sisters, etc. All of these devices were used to explain my central point

Mini conclusion: This characterization leads readers to view them as ill fated, and perhaps then to identify with the inevitability of the ways that one's upbringing will set out a path for the trajectory of one's life

Thesis of this paragraph in second text: Discussing structure, speculative fiction, apologia, Offred's characterization, constant explanation of her actions because it is an apologia, link to control, narrative techniques like unreliable narration, Offred's diction, sentence structure, etc.

Mini-conclusion: The portrayal of an existential apologia shows the reader how deeply the messaging of Gilead has sunk itself into Offred's pysche. This scares the reader, because they see that even in her own telling of the story, she cannot be in full control.

Anyway, this is not my best essay, but it did decently well so I think the structure should be fine. Ask if you want some clarification!

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