Model Structure – Section C Comparative Essay


Introduction:      Briefly outline the connections and links you have identified between the moods, themes and ideas created in the six poems we have studied



Main Point 1:     The excitement, naivety, innocence and purity of childhood

SP1:     Excitement and naivety created in ‘Half Past Two’ and ‘Hide and Seek’

SP2:     The more subtle sense of innocence and purity implied in ‘Prayer Before Birth’, ‘A Mother in a Refugee Camp’ and ‘Once Upon a Time’


Main Point 2:     The sense that the innocence of childhood is under threat from the harsh reality of the real or adult world

SP1:     The very real, horrific and inhuman conditions in the refugee camps in Nigeria during the civil war

SP2:     In contrast the threats in ‘Prayer Before Birth’ appear to be more universal (not just for children) and more abstract – e.g. loss of identity and individuality

SP3:     Similarly, Okara explores more generally the loss of cultural identity and genuine human emotional connection as a result of aging and (possibly) westernization


Main Point 3:     However, all three poets are similar in that they create an image of a better ‘other life’ in order to accentuate their criticisms of modern society

SP1:     Achebe …        

SP2:     Whereas MacNeice …

SP3:     While Okara…

SP4:     However, ultimately Okara seems to view the purity of childhood as a source of salvation rather than something threatened and in need of protection


Main Point 4:     The impression is created that the bond between mother and child is precious

SP1:     Lawrence suggests …

SP2:     Similarly, Achebe…

SP3:     However, Lawrence

SP4:     Whereas …



Conclusion:       Which poem was the most effective / powerful and why




Your Task:

·         The above plan is a list of some of the Points you might like to make in your essay.

·         Firstly you will need to complete the missing subpoints / main points. Feel free to replace any of the above points with ideas of your own as this plan is just a guide rather than a strict set of rules you have to stick to.

·         Now you have to find Evidence to support each of these subpoints and Explain the effect that each of those quotations / pieces of evidence has on the audience.

·         Remember to look for more than one piece of evidence to support each point and to demonstrate how each of those different pieces of evidence is working together to create the same effect.

·         Remember too that some quotations are ambiguous: they can be interpreted in more than one way. If you find some quotations like that take the time to investigate each separate interpretation and explain how each one contributes to the overall feeling of the poem.

·         You should also try to include as many different kinds of evidence as possible. Don’t just focus on the connotations of words but additionally look at the poet’s use of sound effects, rhyme, rhythm, line length, stanza length, punctuation, pronouns, tone of voice, pathetic fallacy, enjambment, end-stopping, foregrounding, etc. Remember to use the technical terms for each of these different features correctly.