Your exams and how this blog works

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In your English lessons, you are studying for TWO GCSEs.

and English Literature.

60% exam (2 2-hour papers, Paper One and Paper Two)
20% speaking and listening coursework
20% written coursework (four essays: creative writing, transactional writing, Shakespeare, poems from other cultures)

English Literature
70% exam (one 2.5-hour paper consisting of three sections - one on a play, one on a novel, one on an unseen poem)
30% coursework (four essays: Shakespeare, poems from other cultures, pre-1914 poetry, pre-1914 prose)

The exam board is WJEC, the Welsh board.

This blog has been designed to help you understand and revise for all three papers. There is lots of information, tips, practice questions and links.If you look on the right, there is a list of labels. Click on these and it will direct you to all the information about that particular label. For example, click on An Inspector Calls and you will get four posts about the play, how to answer a question on it, key quotes, etc. Or, if you are worried about answering Section B type questions, click on that and you will get all the posts helping with that.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

An Inspector Calls - sample extract question

Here is a sample extract question with a model answer. You would be expected to write for about 20 minutes for this question.

How does Priestley build the drama and tension in this extract?
From page 47: ‘MRS B: I’m sorry she should have come to such a horrible end. But I accept no blame for this at all’ to the end of Act Two.

Think about:
• What Mrs Birling says and how she behaves
• What Sheila says
• The effect on the audience.

In this extract, JB Priestley builds drama and tension through the use of dramatic irony. Mrs Birling does not realise until the very end of the scene that her own son is responsible for Eva Smith’s pregnancy. However, Sheila and the audience begin to realise this before her. So, when she says things like ‘I blame the young man of the child she was going to have’, we realise that she is unknowingly incriminating herself and her son. This makes it tense and exciting, because we want to see what will happen when she eventually does realise that the person she is being so harsh on is her own son.

In this extract, JB Priestley builds drama and tension through having Sheila realise the truth of the situation long before her mother. Sheila is constantly interrupting trying to explain to her mother that by blaming the father of the child she is only blaming her own son. For example, she says ‘Mother – stop – stop!’ and ‘But don’t you see -’ As well as her words, the stage directions show that she is getting increasingly ‘agitated’ and ‘hysterical’ in attempting to warn her mother about what is happening. This is very tense and dramatic because Mr and Mrs Birling misinterpret her words and just assume she is overexcited. They assume she is being silly, when in fact she is the closest of all of the Croft family to true insight at this point.

In this extract, the effect on the audience is that we are eagerly, nervously, awaiting the moment of recognition when Mrs Birling will see that her own son is the person she has criticized so thoroughly. Mrs Birling has been so arrogant and smug before this that there may even be an element of excited anticipation, as we long for her to get her comeuppance and realise the hypocrisy of her callous and unsympathetic views on life. We desperately want to see how she will react when the Inspector reveals that the ‘chief culprit’ is her son. Her eventual understanding of the truth comes slowly and dramatically – first she is still ‘triumphant’, then she is ‘frightened’ as the truth begins to dawn, and then finally she retreats to ‘agitated’ denial as Eric appears at the door and his guilt emerges. The scene ends at this dramatic, climactic moment, which has overturned the certainties and smugness of Mrs Birling.