Do you know what grade this essay would be? for written text

Hi, can you please let me know what grade this essay would be. Thanks.

Question: Analyse how language features contributed to our understanding of a theme.
The language features of a text have the ability to enhance the reader’s understanding of a theme. In William Shakespeare’s play Antony and Cleopatra, he explores the conflict that occurs when emotion overcomes our reason. The language features enable his readers to understand that an excess of emotions can lead to tragic consequences that overcome our reason. Shakespeare demonstrates that allowing our hearts to dominate our heads only leads to calamity.

An overabundance of emotions can cause someone to become so immersed that all other responsibilities are overlooked. Shakespeare portrays this idea through the actions of Antony. Philo’s monologue introduces the character for the first time in the play’s opening scene and uses simile and allusion to convey this theme. In Philo’s eyes, “Mark Antony 'glowed like plated Mars.” We can deduce from this that Antony is likened to the God of War and is seen as everything a good Roman leader should be. This first image, however, is entirely undermined by Philo’s reference to Antony as “the triple pillar of the world converted into a strumpet’s fool” in the opening speech. Philo’s present opinion that Antony has allowed his emotions to overpower his intellect belittles and demeans the formerly God-like man who supported the Earth. Philo’s words foreshadow Antony’s behaviour when he arrives soon after this statement in creating this transformation. Shakespeare also used the dramatic technique of a messenger in this scene to deliver Antony news from Rome and to remind him and the audience that he is not free in Egypt. Antony refuses to listen and dismisses the messenger, saying, ‘Let Rome dissolve in Tiber.’ This bombastic metaphor demonstrates Antony’s passionate contempt towards Rome. The way emotions impact Antony is established by Shakespeare in the play’s first scene. This disagreement causes a schism in Antony that will reoccur throughout the novel, which contributes to our understanding of the conflict that occurs when emotions overcome our reason.

Language features can be used to heighten emotions and contribute to our understanding of a theme. Shakespeare reflects on the dilemma between responsibility and love when Antony informs Cleopatra of his return to Rome, saying “time commands our services awhile, but my full heart remains in use with you”. The metonym of the “heart” illustrates Antony’s internal conflict between his duties of power and desire for romance, creating a paradoxical mindset that eventually leads to his downfall. Antony ultimately realises the cost of his indecision when he loses his battle against Octavius, crying “here I am Antony, yet cannot hold this visible shape”. The hyperbole presents a sense of decay and disillusionment of character as a result of failure, which also foreshadows Antony’s tragic death. Through a representation of Antony as a powerful individual incapable of making rational decisions, Shakespeare demonstrates how human emotions may not be congruent with the rationalisation of their position in the world. Thus he illustrates the consequences of an imbalance between responsibility and desire, which showcases the complexity of human emotions, and is valuable in contributing to our understanding of the theme.

When people refuse to act fairly and logically, they experience an excess of emotions. The fraudulent nature of humans is reflected in Shakespeare’s characterisation of the historical figure Cleopatra as a powerful woman, but he dramatises her manipulation of people to achieve her desires. Her affinity for emotional deception is seen when she attempts to convince Antony to remain in Egypt, disregarding his political responsibilities. “If you find him sad, say I am dancing; if in mirth, report that I am sudden sick.” The juxtaposition of positive and negative feelings reveals how impressionable humans are when driven by emotions, and thus the extensive influence they have on logical reasoning. Shakespeare further demonstrates the impulsiveness of an individual guided by emotions by attributing Cleopatra to a “thunderbolt”. This metaphor illustrates the spontaneous nature of her character, simultaneously suggesting that she is almost of equal status to the Gods, cementing Cleopatra as a character of power and justifying her villainous acts of deception by attributing them to destiny. Cleopatra’s continuous manipulation leads to her eventual self-inflicted death which is foreshadowed in “Mardian, go tell him I have slain myself; say, that the last I spoke was ‘Antony,’ and bring me how he takes my death”. Shakespeare’s integration of a tragic ending serves as a warning to his audience, reminding them of the fragility of the human mind and how strong emotions can hinder critical thinking, thus contributing to our understanding of the theme. Shakespeare exposes the deceptive nature of humans through the multilayered characterisation of Cleopatra, creating a timeless lesson for his audience that explores and deconstructs the complexity of human emotions.

Ultimately, Shakespeare’s portrayal of the dichotomy and deceptive nature of humans throughhis characterisation of Antony and Cleopatra presents the influence of emotions on one critical reasoning, and how the use of language features contribute to our understanding of this. Antony’s internal conflict between logical reasoning and emotions reveals the indecisiveness of humans when tempted by desires, and Shakespeare’s characterisation of Cleopatra as a duplicitous figure illustrates the extent to which emotions influence an individual’s capability to logically reason. Shakespeare’s use of language techniques ultimately creates a timeless lesson that teaches his audience about the conflict that can occur when we allow our hearts to rule our heads, demonstrating that language features can contribute to our understanding of a theme.

Kia ora char1otte!

Lovely clear intro and some really well phrased lines “Shakespeare demonstrates that allowing our hearts to dominate our heads only leads to calamity.”

Your understanding of the text is excellent and well unpacked, with strong evidence and a clear addressing of the question.

The only think that might hold you back from an E (I think this is borderline there) is that your connections to ideas beyond the text could be developed a little more. There is a strong sense of human nature when you talk about the idea of emotions overcoming reason, but you could make a more specific connection here - either to something in the real world, (a more specific example of the idea), a philosophical idea, or another text (some of the other Shakespeare’s others would probably work well here). What you want to think about is how this idea sits in the context of greater history, philosophy, literature, etc and see if you can allude to that once or twice of times throughout.

Aside from that, everything else here is at a clear E level :slight_smile:

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Hi, thanks for the feedback

Im not sure what you mean by making specific connections beyond the text “either to something in the real world, (a more specific example of the idea), a philosophical idea, or another text” Can you give an example of how I would do this because I’m not really sure.
Thank you

Hi Charlotte

Sure

So if we have a look at a line like "Shakespeare demonstrates how human emotions may not be congruent with the rationalisation of their position in the world." - you can consider adding a line or two after this that unpacks this more specifically in terms of the wider idea - eg is this a theme found across a wide range of literature (that you could reference here) “This is a universal theme that has been explored in literature throughout time, for instance in…” or you could make a link to where we might see this same idea in every day life.

Similarly
"Shakespeare’s integration of a tragic ending serves as a warning to his audience, reminding them of the fragility of the human mind and how strong emotions can hinder critical thinking, thus contributing to our understanding of the theme. " - This is a fantastic statement that explains really clearly the theme. In order to make a more specific wider connection - you might consider a further line after this - consider why is this warning important for readers today - what scenario might this still be relevant in? or is there some theory in psychology that explains this phenomenon?

Essentially the feedback is about unpacking a little more how these ideas connect BEYOND the text (either to people’s lives, to history, to academic theories, to other texts etc) as well as within this specific text.

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Thanks for your reply. Im not really sure what I would relate it to for the first one. Could I say something thing like “This is a universal theme that can be seen in everyday life, for instance in society people often …” (for the first one)

and for the second one, I wrote “Demonstrating that, while emotions can guide us, they can also trigger reactionary feelings that affect our perceptions and prevent us from understanding the reality of a situation, causing us to make decisions of which we may disagree once these emotions have passed, which serves as a warning to his readers, even today.” Do you think this would be E level?

Im really not sure what to relate it to for the first one. Can you please explain or give a more specific example?

I rewrote the whole essay and tried to put more ‘beyond the text’ in each of the paragraphs Can I please get feedback particularly on the first paragraph. Thanks

Kia ora Char1otte - well done!

Much better- this is a very strong essay with perception, sophistication and flair. You will do very well in the exam tomorrow!

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