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Advanced Higher English - essay introductions

A step-by-step guide to writing better introductions for literary study essays in the Advanced Higher English exam.
by

James McEnaney

on 29 April 2013

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Transcript of Advanced Higher English - essay introductions

Writing introductions for literary study Advanced Higher English What should introductions do? The final product Make a general comment on how the question relates to the poet's work
Outline the specifics elements / techniques you will explore
State and justify your choice of texts The examiners have chosen the essay question because it is relevant to the poet - you need to briefly sum up why this is the case. Step 1 - make a general comment on the question in relation to the poet's work It is important to define your terms early on and 'take control' of the question. This helps you to structure your response and also helps the marker to keep track of your arguments (helping the marker is a good thing). Step 2 - be specific about the particular features of the author's work that will be explored in your answer It is important that you convince the marker early on that you have chosen appropriate texts for your discussion of the question Step 3 - state which texts you will discuss and justify your choice by explaining their relevance to the question Discuss the use Muir makes of elements of religion in 3 or 4 of the set poems. Let's look at this step by step using the following question: Discuss the use Muir makes of elements of religion in 3 or 4 of the set poems. Throughout his works Edwin Muir makes repeated and extensive use of various elements of religion; his main concerns - ideas of loss and the imperfection of man - are often explored in this context. Whilst a range of religious elements are employed in his poems it is the treatment of creation and Eden which are particularly effective and note-worthy. 'One Foot in Eden' examines not just the loss of a perfect paradise, but also the positive implications for man's appreciation of the many facets of existence. In 'The Animals' and 'The Horses' Muir shifts his focus, analysing the impact of man on the world and the possibilities for a next stage where man returns to a state of greater harmony with all of creation. Does the focus of the question come up in a broad range of the poet's work?
How does it relate to other aspects of their poetry?
What makes this question relevant and interesting? Throughout his works Edwin Muir makes repeated and extensive use of various elements of religion; his main concerns - ideas of loss and the imperfection of man - are often explored in this context. With our example question you must define the elements of religion that you will discuss
Other questions may require you to define particular techniques or ideas
Remember to be specific! Whilst a range of religious elements are employed in his poems it is the treatment of creation and Eden which are particularly effective and note-worthy. How does each text relate to the question?
In what order do you intend to approach the texts? 'One Foot in Eden' examines not just the loss of a perfect paradise, but also the positive implications for man's appreciation of the many facets of existence. In 'The Animals' and 'The Horses' Muir shifts his focus, analysing the impact of man on the world and the possibilities of a next stage of existence where man returns to a state of greater harmony with all of creation. Next steps Go through the past paper questions writing a range of introductions for each one (use different, but relevant, texts each time). Come up with some questions of your own and write introductions for those.
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