The Extended Written Texts paper asks you to write an essay in response to a play or novel you have read this year. You may choose between Macbeth and Lord of the Flies as your source text or this – though I would encourage you to prepare and consider Macbeth as your preferred option.
QUESTION: “Describe at least one important character in the written text(s). Explain how the character changes throughout the text(s).”
Shakespeare’s Macbeth is a play that plots the inexorable decline in his main character Macbeth’s state of mind. This degeneration is accelerated in the play through a range of external forces, and internal flaws in Macbeth – all of which leads us to the unavoidable conclusion that ambition is not wholly a virtue. The external forces that amplify our main character’s decline include the supernatural, embodied by the witches and their “mischief”: manifestations of predictions of Macbeth’s “glorious” future, and the influence of his ambitious wife, Lady Macbeth. Macbeth then succumbs to his weakening mind through a series of hallucinations, all of which lead to his ultimate despair and destruction.
A Possible Literary Essay Structure:
- Introduce the text, name the author, explain the bigger ideas and some general specifics of time, place, character and events that will help your marker understand where your analysis is coming from.
- Address both parts of the question and outline what points you will make in each body paragraph to answer the question. Use words from the question, and be as specific as possible. Don’t use words like ‘ideas’, instead name the idea, for example: ‘ambition’.
- Start each paragraph by stating the point you’re trying to make. Ensure it links to both parts of the question.
- Quote an example to support this point
- Explain the quote in terms of how it provides evidence to support or prove your point
- Expand on this by explaining why this is important to the text as a whole. How does this example show us what the author intends for us to understand?
- Link to next paragraph
Synthesise the points you have made, and reinforce how they prove your understanding of the author’s craft. Using words from the question, clarify the main point you are making to address the question. Provide the reader with something to reflect on – food for thought, an example from another text, or even from life (but be accurate and detailed, generalisations are of no value)