2.1 essay feedback appreciated

2.1 written text EOTT - Question 8 (2020 paper)

Could I have some general feedback please, especially:

-If I should have stronger links to the question

-If my thesis is clear enough in my paragraphs

Analyse how language features contributed to the success of the text.

Progress can be a double-edged sword. Writer Boey Kim Cheng successfully helped me to understand the potential destructive power of urbanization - in a world that considers it ‘progress’- in his poem ‘The Planners’. Cheng achieves this through the use of language features. Firstly, language features are used to convey the mindless destruction of human heritage and history in the face of modernity and ‘progress’. Secondly, they are used to convey the negative impact human urbanization can have on nature. Finally, Cheng uses language features to make the reader question societal views on perfection. Though this use of language features, the poem is successful in conveying the destructive power of urbanization.

History is being mindlessly destructed in the face of modernity and ‘progress’. Poet Boey Kim Cheng successfully conveys this idea in “The Planners” through the use of language features. The use of plosives is present in the line “(The Planners) knock off useless blocks with dental dexterity”. The ‘k’ sound, ‘b’ sound, ‘d’ sound and the ‘t’ sound are plosive sounds used at least 7 times in this sentence. This repetition of plosive sounds creates a harshness associated with ‘The Planners’ activity as they “knock off” blocks, presumably old houses. Working in combination with this feature is the words “dental dexterity”, which may carry unpleasant connotations of pain, intimidation, and cold efficiency. This is because most readers could associate these things - in a negative way - with going to the dentist. ‘The Planners’ appear to remove “useless blocks” in the same way a dentist would remove a flawed or rotten tooth, simply because it doesn’t serve its ordained purpose anymore. However, the incongruity here is that the poem is talking about a city, rather than a mouth full of rotten teeth. A city is not simply a utensil for human existence or activity - they are places where humans have lived for centuries, that tell the story of human existence and the formation off society throughout history. In short, cities can express who humans are and have been. Nevertheless, ‘The Planners’ continue to treat the city in question as if they were dealing with a mouth full of flawed teeth; as if any history or relic from the past is a blot on their perfectly modern and thought-out city. The words “dental dexterity” signal the start of the ‘dentistry’ extended metaphor. The lines, “all gaps are plugged with gleaming gold, the country wears perfect rows of shining teeth”, also clearly allude to dentistry - because gold is used to cap cracked teeth. Also, a reference is made to “perfect rows” of teeth. This reference, combined with the image of ‘The Planners’ ruthlessly erasing “useless blocks” in the previous line, cultivates an image of unsettling and unnatural perfection and uniformity. The fact that the countryside “wears” the “perfect rows of gleaming teeth” sounds almost cosmetic, as if the perfect look was placed there. It wasn’t developed overtime by natural human cultural influences – it isn’t part of the city’s history or heritage. The cosmetic imagery and the imagery of perfection create a sense of sterility from all uniqueness; suggesting that this would be a boring city to live in. There is no trace in the new city layout of individuality or uniqueness from the humans that have lived there for ever – ‘The Planners’ are simply obliterating history. It becomes clearer that ‘The Planners’ are obliterating history in the next line, as they drill “right through the fossils of last century”. Painful imagery is created by this diction, that carries on the dentistry metaphor. Connotations of preciousness, value, and history are attached to the word “fossils”, but they are violently “drilled” right through, which carries connotations of destruction and ruthlessness. The extended metaphor, diction, and use of plosive sound in the poem are language features Cheng uses to successfully convey the mindless destruction of human history in the face of ‘progress’ and modernity. This plays out throughout the poem as ‘The Planners’ thoughtlessly “erase the flaws, the blemishes of the past”. Interestingly, it was once stated “Germany is a very progressive nation”, in regard to the fact that very few heritage houses or relics and reminders have remained there from the days of WW2. Considering Germanys role in the war, moving on from the past may not be such a bad thing for them. However, should we be completely obliterating history - the thing that has formed our societies over the years? In the sterility of ruthless modernization, we may forget our history and make past mistakes all over again. These ideas are what Cheng helped me understand through language features, making the poem successful in conveying the destructive power of urbanization.

The urbanization that society currently views as progressive is abusing the very natural environment that supports it. Boey Kim Cheng uses the language feature of pathetic fallacy in the line: “They build and will not stop. Even the sea draws back and the skies surrender.” Cheng’s purpose in using pathetic fallacy here was to cast ‘The Planners’ in a negative light – almost as a bully – and cast nature as their victim. The 3 sentences reveal that ‘The Planners’ have such a great impact on the world around them, that even the formidable power of nature is wary of them, because it “draws back” and “surrenders”. This pathetic fallacy depicts the evasive ‘behaviour’ of nature in response to the building of ‘The Planners’, which successfully reveals that nature is negatively impacted in the face of urbanization. Additionally, the personification of nature as a living thing works in combination with the diction in the previous line - “They build and will not stop” - to bestow nature with some life and humanity. This is because the combination of diction and personification juxtaposes the ruthless and almost robotic nature of ‘The Planners’, with the human and vulnerable response of nature. As humans, the imagery created by these language features appeals to us to sympathize with nature. This is because we naturally don’t like to be vulnerable ourselves, and always go for the underdog. In this poem, it is revealed that nature is the underdog, forcing us to realize that what the builders are doing is actually negative. This contributed to the success of the text because it conveyed that human urbanization has a negative impact on nature. The presentation of this idea through language features successfully helped me to understand the potential destructive power of urbanization in a world that may consider it progress. Language features such as personification, diction, and juxta - positioning helps the reader understand and potentially empathize with the writers message. Having lived in Singapore, Boey Kim Cheng has likely witnessed rapid urbanization and modernization, such as the creation of artificial islands and coast lines to expand territory. This ‘progress’ is literally causing the sea to ‘draw back’, whilst having negative impacts on nature such as water pollution. The feature of juxtaposing imagery is also appears more than once in the three lines. The image of “they build and will not stop” vs the image of “even the sea draws back and the skies surrender” suggests that man is continuity, while nature draws back and changes. As readers, we question if urbanization is in fact taking us on an unsustainable linear line of ‘progress’ because nature is finite. This idea infers that negatively impacting nature will be the downfall of ‘The Planners’, because the earth mightn’t hold out as long as our urbanization. These ideas are what Cheng helps me to understand through language features, making the poem successful in conveying the destructive power of urbanization.

“Perfection itself is imperfection” ~ Vladimir Horowitz. Cheng uses language features to make the reader question societal views on perfection. The writer describes the bridges that link the buildings as “hanging in the grace of mathematics”, almost inferring that Mathematics is kindly allowing man to create such ‘perfect’ structures. To me, this personification painted mathematics as the dominant thing in this city, behaving with an almost condescending attitude towards man. Cheng’s use of diction in the first 6 lines of the poem develop an image of the mathematical precision and flawlessness of the city buildings. “All spaces are gridded, filled with permutations of possibilities (…) The buildings are in alignment (…) meet at desired points”. These four words all come from the lexical field of mathematics, giving the city an atmosphere of technical perfection. However, rather than making the readers feel satisfied about this aesthetic ‘perfection’, Cheng uses language features to create a tone of uneasiness about it. The personal pronoun “they” is constantly used when referring to “The Planners” who created the city - no description is given, and no human traits revealed. The first line uses repetition of this pronoun - “They plan. They build.” - as well as using Caesura, which creates a tone of rhythmic relentlessness. This combination of language features gives ‘The Planners’ an ominous presence because they are robot-like and devoid of relatable human qualities. Therefore, the city is a creation of algorithms rather than man. Cheng then exhibits the disastrous consequences of this supposed ‘perfection’ when he switches to first person to proclaim: “my heart would not bleed poetry”. In other words, the flawless city has emptied Cheng of all human ability to feel or express. The city is technically perfect but not humanly perfect - it is human imperfections and organically developed societies that can instead contribute to a ‘perfect’ world. As Nicolas cage once said, fascination in the world is achieved through "conflict, drama, it’s the human condition. Nobody wants to watch perfection”. Cheng’s use of language feature’s made me question societies concept of perfection, swaying me in favour of the idea that “perfection itself is imperfection”. This contributed to the success of the text because it successfully helped me to understand the potential destructive power of urbanization. Whilst the construction of technically flawless urban utopia’s may be considered ‘progress’, we cannot let this misguided version of perfection rob us of our humanity and ability to draw interest and meaning from human existence.

On one hand, ‘progress’ can give us ascetically pleasing urban utopias, relentlessly efficient, convenient, and modern. On the other hand, it can give destruct our heritage, the environment, and sense of humanity. In conclusion, Boey Kim Cheng successfully helped to understand the potential destructive power of urbanization through the use of language features such as diction, personification, and more. Language features helped convey that ‘perfection’ may reached through our imperfections; that it is out history and imperfections that formed our societies today and make us human. Voltaire, the French writer, said: “Perfection is attained by slow degrees; it requires the hand of time”. Rapid urbanization should be viewed with caution because ‘progress’ is a double-edged sword.

Kiā ora Emily and welcome to studyit.
You begin well, setting out clearly what the main ideas are and how you found it to be successful because you better understood a concept. You also mention the fact that language features work to convey the ideas so both parts of the question are neatly addressed.
You go on to analyse effectively the various features and connect them to the ideas and your thesis comes through.
It is a very sound essay. Well done.
:+1: JD

okay, thanks for the feedback